1/ Trump gave Attorney General William Barr “full and complete authority” to unilaterally declassify government secrets and ordered U.S. intelligence agencies to cooperate with Barr’s audit of the Russia investigation. Trump wants Barr to investigate the origins of the Russia investigation and the tactics used by investigators. Trump issued the order just hours after accusing the people who led the investigation of committing treason. Barr has personally met with the heads of U.S. intelligence agencies to discuss his review of the probe. Barr has also said that he believes the Trump campaign was “spied” on. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / CNN)
2/ The Trump administration is preparing to bypass Congress to sell billions of dollars worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The munitions sales are currently on hold by Congress, but Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other political appointees in the White House are urging Trump to invoke an emergency provision that would allow him to prevent Congress from blocking the $7 billion sale of precision-guided missiles and combat aircraft to the Saudis and Emiratis. (New York Times / Washington Post / The Independent)
3/ Trump has personally and repeatedly urged the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to award a border wall contract to a specific construction firm in North Dakota run by a GOP donor and frequent Fox News guest. Trump has pushed for Fisher Industries to receive the multi-billion-dollar border wall contract on phone calls, at White House meetings, and during conversations on Air Force One, which has alarmed military commanders and DHS officials. The company’s CEO, Tommy Fisher, is a frequent guest on conservative talk shows and radio stations, and has courted Washington officials directly by arranging meetings at congressional offices and inviting officials to review border wall prototypes. (Washington Post)
4/ The Trump administration formally proposed revisions to Obama-era healthcare and civil rights protections for transgender people. The proposal would eliminate “gender identity” as one of the protected categories in healthcare decisions and push government policy toward only recognizing characteristics of sex at birth as the basis. The 2016 rule prevented discrimination in healthcare decisions on the basis of gender identity in “any health program or activity” that receives federal funding. (New York Times)
5/ The bipartisan $19.1 billion disaster relief package is being held up by one House Republican who voted to block the legislation. Rep. Chip Roy of Texas said he was objecting to the bill, which has Trump’s support, because it would add to the national debt and because it leaves out an additional $4.4 billion for federal operations along the southern border. (Washington Post)
The U.S. will send 1,500 additional troops and a dozen fighter jets to the Middle East in the coming weeks. Trump publicly blamed Iran and its proxies for recent attacks on oil tankers near the UAE and a rocket attack in Iraq. (Associated Press)
Trump tweeted a doctored video of Nancy Pelosi which was deliberately edited to make her appear as if she was drunk and slurring her words. “PELOSI STAMMERS THROUGH NEWS CONFERENCE,” Trump tweeted alongside the video. (NBC News / CBS News / Washington Post / The Guardian)
Trump called on his aides one-by-one during a press conference and asked them to confirm that he “couldn’t have been more calm” during an infrastructure meeting with Democrats on Wednesday. “Kellyanne, what was my temperament yesterday?” Trump asked Conway. “Very calm, no temper tantrum,” Conway responded. “I told the facts for this crowd, they published that you were fuming, termper tantrum, rage. That was just a lie. You were very calm.” Trump then went down the line and asked every aid in the room to attest to his temperament during the meeting. (ABC News)
Republican candidates and campaign committees have spent more than $4 million at Trump hotels, golf courses, and vineyards since Trump took office. More than three dozen members of Congress have held fundraisers or stayed the night at Trump properties. More than a quarter of the money spent has come from Trump’s own campaign, which has funneled $1.5 million into his businesses over the same period of time. The Republican National Committee has spent more than $1.1 million at Trump’s properties in both Washington and Florida. (The Hill)
The attorney for accused war criminal Eddie Gallagher also works for the Trump Organization. Trump has indicated that he plans to pardon Gallagher, who is accused of killing civilians in Iraq and premeditated murder for the stabbing death of an injured person in Iraq. (CNN)
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