Day 796: Invalidated.
1/ The Trump administration supports a federal appeals court ruling that the entire Affordable Care Act should be invalidated and thrown out. In a reversal, the Justice Department now says it agrees with the ruling of a federal judge in Texas that declared the ACA unconstitutional on the basis of a 2017 change in federal tax law that eliminated the penalty on uninsured people. Previously, the administration had pushed to remove the protections for people with pre-existing conditions. More than 20 million Americans are covered through the ACA’s Medicaid expansion and its insurance exchanges. Trump, meanwhile, tweeted that “The Republican Party will become ‘The Party of Healthcare!’” (CNN / NPR / Politico / Washington Post / Vox / Axios / Mother Jones / New York Times)
2/ The House failed to overturn Trump’s veto of legislation blocking his national emergency declaration at the border. House Democrats needed roughly 50 Republican defections to override the veto with two-thirds of the House. Fourteen Republicans crossed party lines. The failed effort leaves Trump’s emergency declaration at the southwestern border intact despite bipartisan passage of a resolution to terminate the emergency declaration, which Trump declared after Congress rejected his request for $5.7 billion to build the wall. (ABC News / New York Times / Politico / Washington Post)
3/ The Department of Defense transferred $1 billion for new border barrier construction along the U.S.-Mexico border. Up to $1 billion will go toward the construction of 57 miles of 18-foot-high “pedestrian fencing,” improving roads, and lighting for the southern border. An additional $1.5 billion is expected to be shifted for wall funding in the near future. Trump’s emergency declaration seeks to divert $3.6 billion from military construction to fund a border wall. Last week, the Pentagon gave Congress a list of $12.8 billion in approved construction projects that could be redirected to fund a border wall. (CNN / Reuters / Wall Street Journal / NPR)
4/ Six Democratic House committee chairs requested that Attorney General William Barr submit Robert Mueller’s full report to Congress by April 2. Lawmakers say Barr’s summary of the report “is not sufficient for Congress,” calling on Barr to turn over the underlying evidence and documents by the same day. Democrats said that providing the report “in complete and unredacted form” would be consistent with DOJ policies and precedent. (NBC News)
- Barr plans to issue a public version of Mueller’s report within “weeks, not months.” A Justice Department official said there is no plan to share an advanced copy of the report with the White House. (Reuters)
5/ The FBI will brief lawmakers on the counterintelligence findings from Mueller’s investigation. The FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation into Trump, but Barr’s summary report of Mueller’s findings didn’t include any information about whether or not investigators found that Trump or anyone around him might be compromised or influenced by Russia. Officials expect the FBI to brief leaders from the House and Senate, as well as the chairs and ranking members of the intelligence committees in a closed session. (NBC News)
- 📌Day 725: The FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation into whether Trump had been working on behalf of Russia after he fired Comey in May 2017. Law enforcement officials became concerned that if Trump had fired Comey to stop the Russia investigation, his behavior would have constituted a threat to national security. Counterintelligence agents were also investigating why Trump was acting in ways that seemed to benefit Russia. No evidence has publicly emerged – yet – that Trump was secretly taking direction from Russian government officials. Sarah Huckabee Sanders called the report “absurd” and claimed that, compared to Obama, “Trump has actually been tough on Russia.” (New York Times / CNN)
poll/ 42% of voters approve of Trump’s job performance following the release of a summary Mueller’s findings – unchanged from the week before. 55% disapprove. 52% believe Russia has compromising information on Trump. (Morning Consult)
poll/ 84% of voters want Mueller’s report to be made public, including 75% of Republicans. 55% of voters say Mueller conducted a “fair” investigation. (Quinnipiac)
Mike Pence talked Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats out of resigning at the end of last year over his frustrations with Trump. Pence stepped in after Trump’s decision to withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria, convincing him to stay until at least this summer. Trump has also pushed Coats to find evidence that Obama wiretapped him, demanded that Coats publicly criticize the U.S. intelligence community as biased, and accused Coats of being behind leaks of classified information. (NBC News)
Trump’s nominee to lead the Interior Department blocked a report on the effect of pesticides on endangered species. The report found that two pesticides, malathion and chlorpyrifos, were so toxic that they “jeopardize the continued existence” of more than 1,200 endangered birds, fish and other animals and plants. At the time, David Bernhardt, a former lobbyist and oil-industry lawyer, was the deputy secretary of the interior. He is now Trump’s nominee to lead the Interior Department. (New York Times)
George Papadopoulos has formally applied for a pardon from Trump. The former Trump campaign adviser served a 12-day prison sentence after being charged by Mueller for lying to the FBI. (Reuters)
Trump asked his top aides for ways to limit federal funding for Puerto Rico. Trump has also privately suggested that he will not approve any additional help for Puerto Rico beyond the food-stamp money. (Washington Post)
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