1/ Trump dismissed the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia was meddling in the 2020 presidential election, calling it “Hoax number 7!” Trump labeled the intelligence that Russia had “developed a preference” for Trump in 2020 “another misinformation campaign” by Democrats. Shelby Pierson, the intelligence community’s election threats expert, briefed the House Intelligence Committee last week that Russia was determined to interfere in the 2020 primaries and general election. Following the briefing, Trump blamed Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence, for allowing the information about Russia’s meddling efforts to be included and for not informing him in advance. Trump then announced that he was replacing Maguire with Richard Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany and a Trump supporter. (Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg / CNN)
📌 Day 1127: An intelligence official in charge of election security warned the House Intelligence Committee last week that Russia was interfering in the 2020 campaign to try to get Trump re-elected. Trump’s allies challenged the conclusions by Shelby Pierson during the meeting, arguing that Trump has been tough on Russia and strengthened European security. Trump reportedly “erupted” and “berated” his acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, in the Oval Office following the meeting over what he perceived as disloyalty. Trump also erroneously believed that Pierson had given information exclusively to Rep. Adam Schiff, complaining that Democrats would “weaponize” the disclosure. Yesterday, Trump announced that he was replacing Maguire with Richard Grenell, the ambassador to Germany and a vocal Trump supporter. (Washington Post / New York Times)
A former National Security Council official who helped discredit the Russia probe, is now a senior adviser for the new acting Director of National Intelligence. Kash Patel previously worked as Rep. Devin Nunes’s top staffer on the House Intelligence Committee. He will advise Richard Grenell. (Politico)
2/ U.S. intelligence officials briefed Sen. Bernie Sanders about a month ago that Russia was attempting to help his presidential campaign. Trump and lawmakers were also informed about the assistance. It’s not clear what form the Russian assistance has taken, but federal prosecutor previously found that Russia used social media to help Sanders in the 2016 election. “I don’t care, frankly, who Putin wants to be president,” Sanders said in a statement. (Washington Post / New York Times)
3/ Trump’s new personnel chief told agency officials to identify political appointees across the government who are believed to be anti-Trump. Trump tasked John McEntee with purging the “bad people” and “Deep State,” starting with personnel at the State Department and Department of Defense. McEntee, Trump’s former body man, was fired in 2018 by then-Chief of Staff John Kelly. (Axios / CNN)
4/ Trump – in an all-caps tweet – promised more bailout funding for U.S. farmers if purchases from trade deals with China, Canada and Mexico “kick in.” The Trump administration allocated $16 billion in 2019 and $12 billion in 2018 to help farmers make up for losses due to Trump’s trade war with China. Under the trade deal signed last month, China agreed to import about $40 billion in U.S. agricultural goods in 2020, but a slowing Chinese economy due to coronavirus could make it difficult for China to hit their import goals. Trump tweeted that the bailout funding would be “PAID FOR OUT OF THE MASSIVE TARIFF MONEY COMING INTO THE USA!” (Bloomberg / Washington Post / Politico / Wall Street Journal)
5/ Trump criticized the Academy Awards for naming Parasite this year’s Best Picture, because it’s a South Korean movie. “We got enough problems with South Korea with trade,” Trump said at a reelection rally. “On top of it, they give them the best movie of the year? Was it good? I don’t know.” Parasite was the first non-English film to win the top prize at the Oscars in the award show’s 92-year history. It also won the Oscars for Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best International Feature Film. (BuzzFeed News / Washington Post)
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