Day 859: "False narrative."
1/ Robert Mueller reportedly drafted a three-count obstruction of justice indictment against Trump before deciding to shelve it. In his new book, Siege: Trump Under Fire, Michael Wolff writes that his findings on the Mueller investigation are “based on internal documents given to me by sources close to the Office of the Special Counsel.” According to Wolff, the first count charged Trump with influencing, obstructing or impeding a pending proceeding before a department or agency of the U.S. The second count charged Trump with tampering with a witness, victim or informant, and the third count charged Trump with retaliating against a witness, victim or informant. While the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel says a sitting president cannot be indicted, Wolff obtained a draft memorandum by Mueller’s team opposing an expected motion to dismiss the indictment. The special counsel’s office denied the claim, saying “The documents that you’ve described do not exist.” (The Guardian / NBC News)
- Michael Flynn’s case could prompt the release of some redacted portions of the Mueller report this week. Judge Emmet Sullivan set a Friday deadline for the Justice Department to make unredacted parts of the report that pertain to Flynn public, as well as transcripts of Flynn’s calls with former Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, and of a voicemail during which someone connected to Trump referenced Flynn’s cooperation. (CNN)
2/ A congressional Republican accused Attorney General Bill Barr of intentionally misrepresenting the Mueller report to further Trump’s “false narrative” about the investigation. In a 25-post tweetstorm, Rep. Justin Amash alleged that Barr’s March 24th letter summarizing Mueller’s principal conclusions “selectively quotes and summarizes points in Mueller’s report in misleading ways” and as a result “the public and Congress were misled.” (Politico / Washington Post / Axios)
📌 Day 851: Michigan Rep. Justin Amash became the first Republican lawmaker to publicly conclude that Trump has committed “impeachable conduct” as president, and that Trump’s conduct meets the “threshold for impeachment.” In a Twitter thread, Amash said he believes “few members of Congress even read” Mueller’s final report, and said the report establishes “multiple examples” of Trump committing obstruction of justice. Amash also accused Attorney General William Barr of intentionally misleading the public. “Contrary to Barr’s portrayal,” Amash wrote, “Mueller’s report reveals that President Trump engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for impeachment.” (CNN / Washington Post)
Republican senators vowed to quash impeachment against Trump if the House passes articles. Mitch McConnell is required to act on articles of impeachment, but has broad authority to set the parameters of a trial. (The Hill)
3/ The top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee accused Trump of giving Barr “the right to selectively declassify certain information for purposes of political gain.” Sen. Mark Warner asked that the leaders of the nation’s spy agencies contact lawmakers if Barr’s investigation threatens their work. Last week, Trump gave Barr the power to release classified information related the origins of the FBI’s Russia investigation. Trump directed the intelligence community to “quickly and fully cooperate.” (Associated Press / Washington Post)
- 📌 Day 855: 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)
4/ Trump denied that North Korea fired any ballistic missiles or violated the United Nations Security Council resolutions, siding with Kim Jong Un over his national security adviser and Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe. Trump said that while “North Korea fired off some small weapons, which disturbed some of my people,” he was not “personally” bothered by the missile tests this month. “My people think it could have been a violation,” Trump said. “I view it differently.” Trump’s comments contradicted John Bolton, who had said there was “no doubt” that North Korea had violated the Security Council resolutions by firing short-range ballistic missiles. In response, North Korea called Bolton a “war monger,” a “war maniac,” and a “human defect,” who has a “different mental structure from ordinary people.” Trump praised Kim as a “very smart man.” (Washington Post / New York Times / Associated Press / NBC News)
📌 Day 841: North Korea’s three new missiles have “Russian technology fingerprints all over” them, military experts said. The missiles reportedly bear a resemblance to the Russian-designed Iskander – a short-range, nuclear-capable ballistic missile that has been in the Russian arsenal for more than a decade. (Associated Press)
Trump called Joe Biden a “fool of low I.Q.” for calling Kim a dictator and a tyrant. “Kim Jong Un made a statement that Joe Biden is a low IQ individual,” Trump said. “He probably is based on his record. I think I agree with him on that.” Trump and Kim “agree in their assessment” of Biden, Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. (ABC News / The Hill / New York Times)
5/ Trump claimed a national security “emergency” in order to authorize a multibillion-dollar sale of arms to Saudi Arabia, which bypassed congressional review. The decision to sell over $8 billion worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Jordan drew condemnation from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, who had been blocking the sales of offensive military equipment to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for months. Iran views Saudi Arabia as its main rival. Trump added: “I don’t think Iran wants to fight, and I certainly don’t think they want to fight with us.” (NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times / Reuters)
Trump denied that the U.S. is “looking for regime change” in Iran, saying “we’re looking for no nuclear weapons.” Last Friday, Trump ordered “a small number of troops” — about 1,500 — as well as fighter jets to the region. (Washington Post)
Iran said it sees no prospect for negotiations with the U.S. a day after Trump said it would be “very smart” of Iran to make a deal regarding its nuclear program. (Reuters)
Mike Pence told a group of West Point graduates that it is a “virtual certainty” that they will see combat. “You will lead soldiers in combat,” Pence told the 980 graduating cadets. “It will happen. Some of you may even be called upon to serve in this hemisphere.” (CBS News)
6/ A federal judge temporarily blocked Trump from diverting $1 billion in Defense Department funds to build parts of his U.S.-Mexico border wall. Trump made an emergency declaration earlier this year to circumvent Congress and reallocate funding from the Defense Department to begin work on the wall. In a 56-page ruling, Judge Haywood Gilliam said Trump couldn’t use the funds without congressional approval. The ruling, however, does not prevent the Trump administration from using funds from other sources to build walls or fencing. (The Hill / NPR / CNN)
- A group that raised more than $20 million in donations on GoFundMe claimed it started building its own border wall on private property. The half-mile stretch of private wall will connect two 21-mile sections of existing fencing. (CNN)
House Republicans blocked an attempt to pass a bipartisan disaster aid package for a second time. The move delays $19 billion in emergency relief for states hit by hurricanes, wildfires and flooding. Republicans complained that the bill ignores Trump’s request for funding for operations along the U.S.-Mexico border. (Politico / Washington Post / Reuters)
Trump’s lawyers reached an agreement with the House Intelligence and Financial Services committees to not enforce the subpoenas to Deutsche Bank and Capital One for Trump’s financial records for now. In April, Trump sued Deutsche Bank and Capital One to prevent them from supplying information to congressional investigators. According to the filing, “the parties have reached an agreement regarding compliance with and enforcement of the subpoenas during the pendency of Plaintiffs’ appeal.” (USA Today / CNN / Bloomberg)
A $1 million donation to Trump’s inaugural committee is being scrutinized by federal prosecutors in New York who are investigating the committee’s finances. Real estate mogul Franklin Haney made the donation seeking regulatory approval and financial support from the government for his bid to acquire the Bellefonte Nuclear Power Plant in Alabama. (Associated Press)
Trump’s transportation secretary still owns shares in a company more than a year after promising to divest them. Elaine Chao owns nearly $400,000 of stock in Vulcan Materials Co., a major supplier of materials for road pavement and other construction projects. Chao promised to sell her shares for a cash payout more than a year ago. (Wall Street Journal / The Hill)
A Trump HUD official said she may have broken a federal law meant to prevent officials from politicizing their government positions, but even if she did, “I honestly don’t care anymore.” (HuffPost)
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