What The Fuck Just Happened Today?

Today's essential newsletter. Logging the daily shock and awe in national politics. Read in moderation.
Curated by @matt_kiser

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Day 246: Dotard.

1/ Following Trump's United Nations speech, North Korea threatened to detonate a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific. Kim Jong Un in a statement said Trump would "pay dearly" for his words and that North Korea would enact the "highest level of hardline countermeasure in history." The North Korean foreign minister clarified this phrase, suggesting it could refer to an H-bomb. (Financial Times / New York Times)

  • Trump signed an executive order authorizing sanctions on companies and individuals who conduct business with North Korea. The move comes after China's central bank "told their other banks … to immediately stop doing business" with the country. (NBC News)

2/ After Paul Manafort left the Trump campaign in 2016, the United States placed him under surveillance as part of its early investigation into Russian election interference. The monitoring did not include listening to real-time phone conversations. It is currently unclear when the surveillance was suspended. (Wall Street Journal)

3/ Facebook agreed to turn over to Congress details of ads sold to Russia-linked accounts during the 2016 election. The decision represents a reversal of the company's previous position. Facebook has already provided the ads and information to special counsel Robert Mueller's team. On Twitter, Trump dismissed potential nefarious Russian use of the social media platform as a "hoax." (CNN / Washington Post)

  • Russia denied having leveraged Facebook to sway the election. Speaking to reporters, a Kremlin spokesman said Russia does "not know … how to place an advert on Facebook. We have never done this, and the Russian side has never been involved in it." (Reuters)

4/ Trump's travel ban is set to expire on Sunday, and he is expected to broaden the order. Early reports suggest a new order may include additional countries and not specify an end date. On September 15, Trump tweeted the ban ought to be "far larger, tougher and more specific." (Reuters / Bloomberg)

5/ Mueller requested phone records related to the statement coordinated aboard Air Force One about the Trump Tower meeting organized by Donald Trump Jr. Mueller also seeks documents related to a May 3 press briefing in which Sean Spicer claimed Trump had full confidence in James Comey. (Comey was fired on May 9.) (Politico)

6/ Trump will roll back existing limits on drone strikes outside conventional battlefields. The move encompasses commando raids, as well. National security advisors are also proposing dismantling a rule that limits kill missions to top militants, instead relaxing the constraint to cover foot soldiers. (New York Times)

7/ In defiance of Trump's United Nations speech, Iran announced it will continue to strengthen its ballistic missile capabilities. Speaking at a military parade, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Iran will increase its "military power as a deterrent" and that it "will not seek permission from anyone to defend" itself. (Reuters)

8/ HHS Secretary Tom Price has chartered at least 24 private flights since early May for a total estimated cost of $300,000. While officials have suggested Price only flies private when commercial air travel is not feasible, an analysis of flight data suggests commercial flights that accommodated Price's schedule were often available. (Politico / Washington Post)

poll/ Less than a quarter of Americans support the latest push to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. 54 percent support Obamacare. (Vox)

Day 245: Innocuous.

1/ Writing through an intermediary, Paul Manafort offered to give private briefings to a Russian billionaire during the 2016 campaign. Oleg Deripaska is an aluminum magnate and former business associate of Manafort's with close ties to the Kremlin. It is unclear if Deripaska received or acted on the offer. (Washington Post)

  • Manafort also used his Trump campaign email account to communicate with Ukrainian political operative Konstantin Kilimnik, seeking payment for previous consulting work in Ukraine. Kilimnik is suspected to have ties to Russian intelligence operations. Manafort spokesman Jason Maloni said it is "no secret" Manafort "was owed money by past clients." (Politico)

  • The Department of Justice is seeking documents related to a New York law firm's handling of a 2012 draft report commissioned by Manafort on Viktor Yanukovych, the former president of Ukraine. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom's report was used by the president's allies to justify the imprisonment of a Yanukovych rival. The document request may or may not be part of special counsel Robert Mueller's probe. (New York Times)

2/ Trump is reportedly leaning toward decertifying Iran's compliance with the nuclear deal reached in 2015. Doing so would force Congress to decide whether the United States will pull out of the agreement. Trump faces international pressure not to withdraw. (NBC News)

3/ Trump pledged to impose new sanctions on North Korea, but did not offer further details. In New York, he met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. In his United Nations address, Moon called for resolving the nuclear crisis in a "stable manner." (Bloomberg)

4/ Nicaragua plans to join the Paris Agreement "soon," leaving the United States and Syria as the only two countries outside the climate pact. Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega had previously refused to enter the agreement because it did not go far enough in combatting climate change and was "not very strict with the richest nations of the planet." (Bloomberg / CleanTechnica)

5/ Trump appointed several campaign staffers with no agriculture or policy experience to Department of Agriculture posts. An analysis of documents also suggests some appointees lack the relevant credentials required for their governmental salary levels. In a statement, USDA defended the hires, writing that all “appointees have skills that are applicable to the roles they fill.” (Politico)

6/ In a speech to African leaders at the United Nations, Trump twice mispronounced Namibia as "Nambia" as he praised the country's health care system. Before later White House clarification, it was unclear if Trump was referring to Namibia, Zambia, or Gambia. In the same speech, Trump said Africa has "tremendous business potential" and that he has "so many friends going to your countries, trying to get rich." (CNN)

poll/ More than 70 percent of Americans support Trump's recent deal with Democrats. Less than a quarter support his handling of race relations and the violence in Charlottesville. (NBC News/Wall Street Journal)

Day 244: Nothing there.

1/ Paul Manafort's spokesman responded to reports of Manafort's wiretapping, arguing "it is a felony to reveal the existence of a FISA warrant." Jason Maloni said DOJ should "immediately conduct an investigation into these leaks and to examine the motivations behind a previous administration's effort to surveil a political opponent." The original FISA warrant was granted before Trump declared his candidacy. (CBS News)

2/ Special counsel Robert Mueller sent a document to the White House requesting details on Trump's behavior in office. The request encompasses Trump's Oval Office meeting with Sergey Lavrov and Sergey Kislyak the day after the firing of James Comey, as well as documents concerning the firing of Mike Flynn and the administration's response to news of the 2016 Trump Tower meeting organized by Donald Trump Jr. (New York Times)

3/ Mueller interviewed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein about the Comey firing. The interview occurred in June or July. Since Jeff Sessions recused himself from the investigation, Rosenstein is ultimately in charge of overseeing the Russia probe. (Wall Street Journal)

4/ The Senate will likely begin voting on the latest bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act next Wednesday. The Graham-Cassidy plan has received pushback from a variety of legislators, as well as from a bipartisan group of 10 governors. Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray continue to negotiate for a bipartisan approach to health care reform. (Axios / Washinton Post)

5/ The Trump administration is shifting oversight of international gun sales from State to the Commerce Department. The move will make it easier to sell non-military firearms to foreign buyers. An administration official, noting the increased flexibility, said, "You could really turn the spigot on if you do it the right way." (Reuters)

6/ Erdoğan said Trump apologized to him for the indictment of Turkish security personnel following their clash with anti-Erdoğan protestors in Washington in May. The Turkish president also said Trump told him "he was going to follow up on this issue when we come to the United States within the framework of an official visit." The White House denied the apology had occurred. (The Guardian)

7/ Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price reportedly spent tens of thousands of dollars on private flights last week, breaking with his predecessors. Price did not comment on the expenditures, but a spokesman said charter flights are acceptable when "commercial aircraft cannot reasonably accommodate travel requirements." Price flew to Maine, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania. (Politico)

8/ Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro called Trump "the new Hitler" following Trump's speech at the United Nations. Trump has openly criticized the Maduro regime for weeks, citing the decline of democracy in the Latin American country. Said Maduro: "Nobody threatens Venezuela and nobody owns Venezuela." (NBC News)

9/ At a United Nations luncheon, Melania Trump condemned bullying. Her speech follows a previous pledge to launch a White House anti-bullying initiative. In her speech, Trump argued that children should never "feel hungry, stalked, frightened, terrorized, bullied, isolated or afraid, with nowhere to turn." (Politico)

poll/ Nearly half of voters support "a single-payer health care system, where all Americans would get their health insurance from one government plan." Only 35 percent of voters oppose such a plan. (Politico/Morning Consult)

Day 243: Wiretapped.

1/ Paul Manafort was wiretapped following an FBI investigation in 2014, and the surveillance continued through this year (albeit interrupted). A Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant was originally granted for Manafort's work for the former Ukrainian government and later discontinued due to lack of evidence. A second FISA warrant—concerning the Russia investigation—was obtained at some point last year. The details of the recorded communications have been provided to special counsel Robert Mueller. (CNN)

2/ Federal agents raided Manafort's Virginia home in July, and Mueller's prosecutors told Manafort they planned to indict him. Agents picked Manafort's lock, took binders and copied computer files, and photographed his belongings. The scope of the investigation also includes questions of money-laundering and foreign lobbying. Mueller's team has subpoenaed several Manafort associates. (New York Times)

3/ Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly, Trump said the United States may have to "totally destroy" North Korea if the country refuses to back down from its nuclear rhetoric. "Rocket man is on a suicide mission for himself and his regime," said Trump. In his 41-minute speech, he also called out Iran, Venezuela, and Cuba. (Reuters)

4/ Trump is paying legal fees related to the Russia investigation with RNC and reelection campaign funds. Under the FEC, the move is legal, but Trump is the first president in modern history to use campaign funding in this manner. Trump lawyer John Dowd told reporters the question of financing Trump's legal bills was "none of your business.” (Reuters)

5/ The Trump administration rejected a Department of Health and Human Services study demonstrating the positive economic impact of refugees. The draft report said refugees "contributed an estimated $269.1 billion in revenues to all levels of government" over the past decade, amounting to a net gain of $63 billion. The White House is seeking a rationale for reducing the number of refugees the country accepts. (New York Times)

6/ Trump said the United States is "prepared to take further action if the government of Venezuela persists." Speaking at a United Nations dinner in New York, Trump argued the United States must "take important steps to hold the regime accountable," referencing the erosion of democracy under President Nicolás Maduro. (Politico)

7/ Trump Jr. and Kellyanne Conway are dropping their Secret Service detail. The two cases are unrelated: Trump Jr. seeks more privacy, and Conway was only temporarily covered due to threats she received earlier this year. (New York Times)

8/ The Senate Intelligence Committee canceled an interview with former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen. Cohen was set to deny he'd ever "engaged with, been paid by, paid for or conversed with" Russia to interfere with the election. Cohen's lawyer said they look forward to "voluntarily cooperating with the House committee and with anyone else who has an inquiry in this area." (Washington Post)

poll/ Most voters are happy with the ideological positions of their political parties. Despite the pervasive idea that parties are embroiled in internal wars, 60 percent of Democrats and 50 percent of Republicans believe their party is "about right." (Morning Consult/Politico)

Day 242: Rocket man.

1/ Overheard in a Washington steakhouse, a White House counsel discussed the extent to which the administration should cooperate with the Russia investigation. Ty Cobb supports prompt turnover of all relevant emails and documents to special counsel Robert Mueller; Trump lawyer Don McGahn is concerned doing so might weaken the White House's future position. (New York Times)

2/ Trump addressed the United Nations General Assembly, calling it out for "mismanagement" and claiming it had not reached "its full potential." In his opening remarks, he also praised Trump World Tower, a "successful project" located "right across the street" from the United Nations. Trump's rhetoric toward North Korea escalated over the weekend. (CNBC / The Week)

3/ Republican senators are pushing for a last-minute vote on the latest bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Led by Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy, the effort to pass the bill in question has not currently garnered enough votes. John McCain continues to advocate for putting the bill through committee. (New York Times)

4/ Mike Flynn's family established a legal defense fund, citing a "tremendous financial burden" stemming from the Russia investigation. In a public statement, Flynn's siblings emphasized that the legal fees required of former Trump aides "far exceed their ability to pay." The Trump administration recently legalized anonymous donations to legal defense funds. (ABC News)

5/ The Trump administration confirmed it is indeed pulling out of the Paris Agreement despite reports to the contrary. Over the weekend, The Wall Street Journal reported that top officials were considering remaining a party to the agreement. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster called the article "a false report." The United States cannot formally withdraw from the deal until 2020. (Washington Post)

6/ The Department of the Interior recommended cutting, scaling back, or otherwise changing the boundaries of seven national monuments. An Interior report recommends, for example, reducing the size of Bear Ears in Utah and opening protected ocean waters for commercial fishing. The White House has not yet acted on the report's recommendations. (Wall Street Journal)

7/ The Trump administration is considering closing the U.S. embassy in Cuba. Rex Tillerson attributed the potential move to "the harm that certain individuals have suffered" at the embassy from unexplained "health attacks." The Havana diplomatic compound reopened in 2015. (AP)

Day 239: Sick and demented.

1/ In response to a London subway attack, Trump touted his travel ban and claimed Scotland Yard had failed to be "proactive." British officials called Trump's tweets about "loser terrorists" unproductive. Said Theresa May: "I never think it’s helpful for anybody to speculate on what is an ongoing investigation." The train bomb injured 22 people. (Politico)

2/ North Korea launched another missile over Japan, further escalating the Pacific crisis. The missile—the latest of more than a dozen in 2017—had the range to reach Guam. Trump will meet with other world leaders at the United Nations next week to discuss Pyongyang. (Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg)

3/ A spokesman for Paul Manafort testified before a federal grand jury. Jason Maloni has worked for Manafort since early 2017. Sources suggest Maloni is not a target of the investigation. (Politico)

  • Roger Stone will testify before the House Intelligence Committee later in September. Despite the political operative's claim that he "called for an open public hearing in the interest of full transparency," he will meet with the panel behind closed doors. Stone corresponded with Guccifer 2.0 in 2016. (The Hill)

4/ The Senate Judiciary Committee will take steps to ensure Trump cannot fire Robert Mueller. Two bills in development come after concerns that Trump was considering dismissing special counsel Mueller in his frustration about the Russia probe, despite White House claims to the contrary. House Judiciary Committee heads met with Mueller on Thursday. (CNN)

5/ The Department of Justice declined to release visitor logs for Mar-a-Lago despite a federal court ordering the Secret Service to do so. Earlier this year, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, the National Security Archive, and the Knight First Amendment Institute sued the administration for the Mar-a-Lago logs, as well as those for the White House and Trump Tower. The Department of Homeland Security had previously denied the groups' Freedom of Information Act requests. (New York Times / CNN)

6/ The Trump administration will cut funding for Affordable Care Act enrollment groups by up to 92%. Known as navigators, the grassroots organizations help people sign up for ACA health insurance during the open enrollment period. Under Trump, the Department of Health and Human Services has repeatedly questioned their value. (Washington Post)

7/ The State Department held off on further sanctions on Iran while it decides to continue with the Iran nuclear deal. The administration will decide next month if Iran has met its commitments under the deal. An official said the Trump administration "seeks to bring a change in Iran's behavior." (Washington Post)

8/ Trump signed a congressional joint resolution condemning white supremacists. In a statement, he said Americans denounce "the recent violence in Charlottesville and oppose hatred, bigotry, and racism in all forms." (NBC News)

  • Aboard Air Force One, Trump also resurrected his "both sides" argument, stating "you have some pretty bad dudes on the other side also." The statement came one day after meeting with Tim Scott, who addressed the president directly about his false equivalence rhetoric. (New York Times)

9/ Trump visited Florida, where he praised recovery efforts and contradicted his previous comments on hurricanes. In Naples, he and Melania passed out sandwiches. When asked about climate change, Trump said "we've had bigger storms than this." He'd previously called Hurricane Irma "of epic proportion, perhaps bigger than we have ever seen." (Orlando Sentinel / CNN)

10/ The California State Assembly passed a bill requiring presidential candidates to release their tax returns. The Presidential Tax Transparency and Accountability Act now heads to the state Senate. (The Hill)

poll/ Repealing the Affordable Care Act remains GOP voters' top priority. More than half of Republican respondents said repealing and replacing Obamacare is an "extremely important priority," and 26 percent said it is "very important." (Politico/Harvard)

Day 238: Betrayed.

1/ Top Democrats announced they had struck a deal with Trump to save DREAMers from deportation. After a White House dinner, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi reported they would pursue a legislative option for DACA that included provisions for border security—excluding building a wall. In response to criticism from right-wing media and his base, Trump tweeted that "no deal" had been struck and that the wall "will continue to be built." (Washington Post / AP)

2/ Flynn promoted a Middle East nuclear power plant deal while serving in the White House. The project, reported yesterday, originally involved several Russian companies, along with a group of former U.S. military officers with whom Flynn had worked on the potential deal. The deal would erect dozens of nuclear power plants in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the Middle East. (Wall Street Journal)

3/ In a policy reversal, the Office of Government Ethics will now allow anonymous donations to White House legal defense funds. The anonymity frees up lobbyists and others "with business before the government" to step in and pay White House aides' legal fees, including those related to the Russia probe. (Politico)

4/ Tim Scott, the sole black Republican in the Senate, sat down with Trump to rebut the president's claim that "both sides" were to blame for the violence in Charlottesville. Scott said he shared his thoughts on "the affirmation of hate groups" and "the last three centuries of challenges from white supremacists, white nationalists, KKK, Nazis." The White House described the meeting as indicative of Trump's commitment to "positive race relations." (New York Times)

5/ National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster wrote a memo outlining a new anti-leak program that encompasses unclassified information. The memo suggested "every Federal Government department and agency" hold trainings on the dangers and consequences of leaks. The memo subsequently leaked to reporters. (Buzzfeed News)

6/ Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin requested use of a U.S. Air Force jet for his and Louise Linton's European honeymoon this summer. The jet costs $25,000 per hour to operate. Mnuchin's request was ultimately denied. (ABC News)

7/ Russia reduced the number of parking spots available to U.S. diplomats at their consulates. The move represents the latest in a series of U.S.–Russian diplomatic expulsions and denials. The parking spots were painted over with a pedestrian crossing. (AP)

Day 237: Even lower.

1/ Congressional Democrats told special counsel Robert Mueller that Michael Flynn failed to disclose a summer 2015 Middle East trip to broker a Saudi–Russian nuclear power deal. Upon returning to the States, the Democrats say, Flynn omitted his contacts with foreign nationals during his reapplication for security clearance, which includes paperwork and an FBI interview. (CNN)

  • Flynn has again refused to appear as a witness before the Senate intelligence committee. He first declined to speak with the committee following a subpoena in May, claiming Fifth Amendment rights. (CNN)

  • Flynn's son, Michael G. Flynn, is a subject of the federal Russia probe, as well. The investigation focuses in part on Flynn's work with Mike Flynn's lobbying firm. (NBC News)

2/ The U.S. government has banned the use of Kaspersky Lab software over concerns of Russian cyberespionage. Federal agencies will have three months to remove the software. Homeland Security called the risk that Russia could "capitalize on access provided by Kaspersky products" a national security threat. Kaspersky Lab denies any wrongdoing and claims it is "caught in the middle of a geopolitical fight." (Washington Post)

3/ Congress unanimously passed a joint resolution calling on Trump to denounce hate groups. The measure, which now heads to Trump's desk in search of a signature, explicitly condemns "White nationalists, White supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, and other hate groups." It is nonbinding. (New York Times)

4/ The Trump administration is mulling lowering the refugee quota to its lowest level since at least 1980. Trump has already reduced the resettlement cap to 50,000. Now, some White House officials, including Stephen Miller, are pressing for a lower ceiling. (New York Times)

5/ The Supreme Court blocked two rulings that would have forced Texas to redraw congressional and state districts. The lower court had ruled Texas had intentionally tried to weaken Hispanic voters' political power via its district maps. The districts in question will likely be used in 2018. (The Hill / Bloomberg)

6/ The Department of Justice is blocking the Senate judiciary committee from interviewing two FBI officials over the firing of James Comey. DOJ cited the appointment of Mueller and "related matters" as the reasoning behind their stonewalling of Senate investigators. (CNN)

7/ The Department of Justice won't bring civil rights charges against the Baltimore police officers who arrested Freddie Gray. Gray died of spinal cord injuries in April 2015 after the officers failed to secure him in a police van. In a statement, DOJ called his in-custody death "undeniably tragic." (AP)

8/ Bernie Sanders introduced a universal health care bill with the support of at least 15 Democratic senators. Sanders argues "Medicare for All" is the only way to fix "a dysfunctional, wasteful, bureaucratic system." The bill will not pass a Republican-led Congress. (Washington Post)

Day 236: Clandestine efforts.

1/ Earlier this summer, a handful of Trump lawyers believed Jared Kushner should step down due to legal complications arising from the Russia probe. After internal debate, the suggestion was ultimately dismissed as one of several efforts "focused on sabotaging" Kushner, who had several interactions with Russia during the 2016 campaign and transition. (Wall Street Journal / Washington Post)

2/ A Supreme Court justice temporarily reinstated Trump's refugee ban. Last week, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the government couldn't prohibit refugees from entering the country if they had reassurances from a resettlement agency. Justice Kennedy overruled the lower court. The Supreme Court will hear arguments on the travel ban on October 10. (Bloomberg / Reuters)

3/ Trump's voter fraud commission is heading to New Hampshire, where Kris Kobach claimed out-of-state voters' ballots led to the election of Senator Maggie Hassan over Kelly Ayotte in 2016. Trump has repeatedly charged without evidence that millions voted illegally in the last election, and he established the commission in May. (Reuters / NBC News)

4/ Lawmakers rejected Trump's proposal to slash health research funding. Trump had requested deep cuts to the National Institutes of Health. Instead, Congress increased funding for biomedical research, passing a $36.1 billion appropriations bill for the agency. (New York Times)

5/ Mexico rescinded its offer of aid to the United States after Trump failed to offer condolences following the Mexico City earthquake and its own hurricane. The country had previously pledged to help fund the Hurricane Harvey recovery effort "as good neighbors should always do in trying times." (LA Times)

6/ The U.N. Security Council unanimously passed its toughest sanctions on North Korea yet. The sanctions will limit Pyongyang's oil imports and halt its textile exports in an attempt to "take the future of the North Korean nuclear program out of the hands of its outlaw regime." (Washington Post)

  • Trump will visit China in November. He has repeatedly called on Beijing to put an end to North Korea's nuclear weapons program. (Bloomberg)

7/ Russian actors remotely organized and promoted pro-Trump, anti-immigrant protests via Facebook. A former FBI agent referred to the events as Russia's "next step" in its influence campaign. Facebook confirmed it "shut down several promoted events as part of the takedown" it reported last week. (Daily Beast)

8/ The White House legislative affairs director said Trump would not tie border wall funding to DACA legislation. The claim echoes that of House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, who made similar remarks last week. The legislative affairs director said Trump "is not backing off a border wall." (The Hill)

9/ Two senators unveiled a bipartisan proposal to block Trump's transgender military service ban. Kirsten Gillibrand's and Susan Collins' amendment would bar the military from removing transgender service members based on their gender identity alone. (CNN)

Day 235: Too bombastic.

1/ Bannon called Trump's firing of Comey the biggest mistake "in modern political history." In an online-only segment from a sweeping "60 Minutes" interview, the Breitbart chairman claimed that if Comey was still in place, "we would not have a special counsel." Bannon, who is plotting several GOP primaries, also criticized the "pearl-clutching mainstream media," Paul Ryan, and Mitch McConnell. (CBS News / New York Times / Washington Post)

2/ The Trump administration has asked Supreme Court justices to continue to allow strict enforcement of its temporary refugee ban. Last week, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the government could not ban refugees who have formal assurances from resettlement agencies. The administration wants the Supreme Court to stay that part of ruling. (ABC News)

3/ The FBI is investigating whether Russian news agency Sputnik has violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act. The law bars organizations from acting as undeclared governmental propaganda arms. The FBI has obtained several thousand internal Sputnik documents and emails and has interviewed a former White House correspondent who was fired in May. It is unclear whether or not the investigation falls under Mueller's broader efforts. (Yahoo News)

4/ Aboard the papal plane, Pope Francis said the move to rescind DACA is not "pro-life." Francis told reporters that if Trump is indeed pro-life, then he must understand that "family is the cradle of life and its unity must be protected." Previously, the Pope has suggested calls to build walls are "not Christian." (CNN)

5/ Infrastructure for Trump's latest golf club, in Dubai, will be partially built by a Chinese firm, despite Trump's promise not to work with foreign entities as president. Trump's business partner awarded a $32-million contract to state-owned China State Construction Engineering Corporation for the work, which includes building a six-lane road. (McClatchy)

6/ A Senate report characterized Trump's foreign policy as an "apparent doctrine of retreat," given the budget request for the State Department. The International Affairs budget is 30 percent below 2017's enacted level. Report author Lindsey Graham wrote that the United States' distancing from multilateralism only serves "to weaken America’s standing in the world." (The Hill)

7/ Trump said recent hurricanes are helping the U.S. Coast Guard improve its brand. "They are really—if you talk about branding, no brand has improved more than the United States Coast Guard," he told reporters after returning from Camp David. (The Hill)

8/ Trump's lawyer has hired a lawyer to advise him in the Mueller investigation. Mueller is seeking to question both White House Counsel Don McGahn and former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. Priebus has retained the same lawyer. (Law360 / Business Insider)

9/ Jeff Sessions wants all National Security Council staff to be subjected to lie detector tests. The alleged goal would be to identify leakers. There are over 100 people on the NSC. (Axios)

Day 232: Operation mega.

1/ The House passed a $15 billion disaster relief package, sending the measure to Trump to sign. The bipartisan deal also raises the debt limit and funds the government through December, despite objections from conservatives. (NBC News / ABC News)

2/ ICE cancelled its plan to round up 8,400 undocumented immigrants, citing the "weather situation" in Florida and Texas. Homeland Security referred to the plan as "Operation Mega," and described it as "the largest operation of its kind in the history" of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. (NBC News)

3/ The White House’s Election Integrity Commission accused New Hampshire voters of fraud for using out-of-state driver's licenses to vote. In a Breitbart op-ed, Kris Kobach, the vice chairman of the commission, alleges that approximately 5,500 same-day voters may have stolen New Hampshire's four electoral votes and a US Senate seat away from Republicans, because they haven’t registered vehicles in New Hampshire or gotten in-state driver's licenses since the election. Experts say the allegation is baseless. New Hampshire is one of fifteen states that allow same-day voter registration. (Washington Post / New Hampshire Public Radio)

4/ Robert Mueller's team wants to interview White House staffers about Trump Jr.'s initial statement regarding his meeting with the Russian lawyer at Trump Tower during the campaign. Trump personally helped craft his son's misleading statement while aboard Air Force One. It claimed Trump Jr. "primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children" during his meeting with the Russian lawyer. That claim was later debunked by multiple accounts of the meeting. Mueller wants to know whether information was intentionally left out and who was involved. (CNN)

5/ Scott Pruitt doesn't want to talk about climate change right now. The EPA chief said that with Hurricane Irma, “to have any kind of focus on the cause and effect of the storm – versus helping people, or actually facing the effect of the storm – is misplaced." Experts have said that climate change has contributed to the increased strength of hurricanes this season. (CNN)

6/ The Senate Appropriations Committee passed a $10 million spending bill to help fund the United Nations’ climate change group that oversees the Paris Climate Agreement, despite Trump’s decision to stop funding it. The panel approved funding for the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change as well as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. (Reuters)

Day 231: Nothing to worry about.

1/ Trump Jr. met with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya to determine Hillary Clinton's "fitness, character or qualifications" for office, according to a prepared statement delivered to Senate Judiciary Committee investigators. He maintains that nothing came of the meeting, and he denies explicit collusion with Russia. Trump Jr. took questions behind closed doors. (New York Times)

2/ Nancy Pelosi urged Trump to reassure DACA recipients they would not be deported within the next six months, and he acquiesced. The message runs counter to previous White House talking points, which suggest DREAMers should "prepare for" imminent departure from the country. Pelosi later said that if Congress passes the DREAM Act, Trump "would sign it." (The Hill)

3/ Under Betsy DeVos, the Department of Education will replace an Obama-era guidance on campus sexual assault. In a speech, DeVos argued the move is "not about letting institutions off the hook," but rather about balancing the rights of victims and the accused. The Obama guidance said universities were compelled to combat sexual harassment and violence under Title IX. (Politico / Washington Post)

4/ The United States is urging the U.N. Security Council to impose a North Korean oil embargo and ban exports of the country's textiles. South Korea expects another North Korean ICBM launch on Saturday. (Reuters)

5/ In a meeting with Congressional leaders, Trump suggested the debt ceiling should be scrapped altogether. The suggestion came in the same meeting in which Trump struck a fiscal deal with Democrats for a short-term debt ceiling increase, angering Republicans. (Politico)

6/ Almost 400 EPA employees have left the agency in recent days, mostly due to buyouts. When combined with retirements in the same time window, the departures amount to a workforce reduction of about 2.5%. (Wall Street Journal)

poll/ About half of white evangelicals think Muslims and atheists want to "limit their freedom," according to a wide-ranging Baylor University survey. Two-thirds of Americans with no religious affiliation said the same of conservative Christians. (Washington Post)

Day 230: Revisit.

1/ Dozens of government lobbyists and contractors have memberships at Trump’s private golf clubs. At least 50 executives whose companies hold federal contracts and 21 lobbyists and trade group officials are members of the golf clubs Trump has visited most often as president – two-thirds have played the same day Trump was there. While legal, ethics experts questioned whether it’s appropriate for a sitting president to collect money from lobbyists trying to shape policy or win government business. (USA Today)

2/ Trump plans to "revisit" his DACA decision in six months if Congress can't pass legislation on the issue. "Congress now has 6 months to legalize DACA (something the Obama Administration was unable to do). If they can't, I will revisit this issue!" Trump tweeted. Administration officials tried to clarify Trump's tweet, saying he would use the “tools at his disposal to put more pressure on Congress." Trump said he has "no second thoughts" on DACA. (CNN / Politico / Washington Post)

3/ A White House talking points memo urged DACA recipients to prepare for a "departure from the United States." The statement was contained in a memo sent by the White House to offices on Capitol Hill, providing talking points for supporters. "The Department of Homeland Security urges DACA recipients to use the time remaining on their work authorizations to prepare for and arrange their departure from the United States – including proactively seeking travel documentation – or to apply for other immigration benefits for which they may be eligible," the memo says. (CNN)

4/ Fifteen states and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit challenging Trump’s decision to end DACA. The multistate lawsuit argues their state economies will be hurt if residents lose their status and seeks to block Trump’s decision and maintain DACA. (Reuters)

5/ Trump sided with Democrats and agreed to increase the debt limit and fund the government until mid-December. The agreement came after the House approved nearly $8 billion in disaster aid for Hurricane Harvey victims. Democratic leaders offered to support the short-term package to fund the government, raise the debt ceiling, and provide relief for Harvey victims in order to maintain leverage on issues like government spending, health care, and DACA later this year. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico)

6/ Facebook found $100,000 in ad spending during the election tied to a Russian “troll farm” with a history of pushing pro-Kremlin propaganda. Facebook said 3,300 ads had digital footprints that led to a Russian company targeting voters. The Facebook team also discovered 470 suspicious and likely fraudulent Facebook accounts and pages that were operated out of Russia. (Washington Post)

7/ Trump Jr. will meet with the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday to discuss the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia. It's the first time someone from Trump's inner circle will speak with the committee members about the campaign’s alleged attempts to engage with Kremlin surrogates. Committee members still hope to interview Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner about the meeting they held at Trump Tower with the Russian lawyer claiming to have damaging information about Hillary Clinton. Kushner and Manafort have already spoken to the Senate Intelligence Committee. (Washington Post)

8/ The House intelligence committee subpoenaed the FBI and Justice Department last month, seeking documents related to a dossier that alleged Russia collected compromising material on Trump. The pair of subpoenas were issued last month and are designed to "undermine" the claims about the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. "We've got to run this thing to ground," said Republican Rep. Michael Conaway, who is heading the House Russia investigation. Rep. Adam Schiff said that he and other Democrats on the committee objected to the subpoenas. (CNN / Reuters)

9/ The Senate wants to force Trump to go on the record and condemn the white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville while “rejecting white nationalists, white supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and other hate groups.” The joint resolution means it will be sent to Trump to sign into law. (Politico)

10/ Putin: The North Korea situation could be "impossible" to resolve and may lead to a "global catastrophe" if its nuclear tests lead to anything other than talks. He added that sanctions and pressure won't be enough to rein in North Korea. (CNN)

poll/ 55% of voters say they’re comfortable with the nation becoming more diverse and tolerant of different lifestyles, gender roles, languages, cultures and experiences. 24% say they’re uneasy with these changes, because they believe what makes the US special is the country’s uniquely American experience, speaking English and sharing a background that brings everyone together. (NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

Day 229: Rescinded.

1/ Trump rescinded DACA and called on Congress to replace the policy before it expires on March 5, 2018. The Department of Homeland Security will no longer accept new applications for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which has provided renewable, two-year work permits to nearly 800,000 dreamers. Jeff Sessions formally announced the shift of responsibility, saying DACA "was implemented unilaterally, to great controversy and legal concern.” He called the Obama-era policy an “open-ended circumvention of immigration laws” and an unconstitutional use of executive authority. “The executive branch through DACA deliberately sought to achieve what the legislative branch specifically refused to authorize on multiple occasions." (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico)

  • Transcript: Jeff Sessions on Trump ending DACA program. (Politico)

2/ Obama called Trump's decision to end DACA “cruel” and “self-defeating.” In a Facebook post, Obama added that "to target these young people is wrong – because they have done nothing wrong." (CNN / Politico)

3/ The Department of Homeland Security will be able to use DACA recipients’ personal information to deport them. DACA recipients gave DHS information proving they are undocumented so they could get relief from the threat of deportation, including where they live, work, and go to school. DHS said it won’t proactively provide immigration officers with a list with the names and addresses of DACA recipients, but if ICE officers ask for it, the agency will provide it. (The Daily Beast)

4/ North Korea “is begging for war,” Nikki Haley told the Security Council. The US ambassador to the United Nations' remark came a day after the North successfully tested a miniaturized hydrogen bomb capable of fitting on an intercontinental ballistic missile, and hours after South Korea said they might be preparing to launch another ICBM. Defense Secretary James Mattis warned of a "massive military response" and the "total annihilation" of North Korea if it threatens to attack the US and its allies. Trump accused South Korea of "appeasement" toward North Korea and warned that the US could halt trade with North Korea's trade partners – an almost impossible threat given American dependence on Chinese imports. (New York Times / Politico / Bloomberg)

  • Trump offered to sell Japan and South Korea more "sophisticated military equipment" after Pyongyang said it tested a miniaturized hydrogen bomb that could be placed on an intercontinental ballistic missile. (The Hill)

5/ The House and Senate intelligence committees are expected to conduct closed-door interviews with Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort and Trump Jr. in the coming weeks now that Congress has returned from the August recess. The two panels could possibly hold public hearings this fall. In addition, Trump Jr. is set to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The three committees are competing for information and witnesses with little coordination between them and Mueller's investigation, leading to conflicts over how they can share information. (Politico / CNN)

6/ The Justice Department said that it has no evidence to support Trump's claim that Obama wiretapped the phones in Trump Tower. The DOJ made the statement in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by the watchdog group American Oversight. "Both FBI and NSD confirm that they have no records related to wiretaps as described by the March 4, 2017 tweets," the department's motion reads. On March 4, Trump, citing no evidence, tweeted: "Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my 'wires tapped' in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism! How low has President Obama gone to tap my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate." (CNN / Politico)

7/ The EPA hasn't visited 13 of the 41 Superfund sites in Texas that are “experiencing possible damage” because they had “not been accessible by response personnel." The Associated Press, however, accessed 12 of the sites by vehicle or on foot, and used a boat to reach that last Houston-area Superfund site that was flooded. The EPA, citing Breitbart, labeled the Associated Press' reporting as “misleading” but did not dispute any of the facts of the story. (Associated Press / New York Magazine)

8/ GOP leaders are expected to attach raising the debt ceiling to the Harvey relief package, because members are likely reluctant to vote against disaster relief. The House would pass the $7.85 billion disaster relief bill on Wednesday, and the Senate would then attach a debt ceiling increase and send it back to the House for approval by the end of the week. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that relief funding for Texas could be delayed if Congress doesn't act quickly to increase the government's debt limit. A number of Republicans have expressed reservations about combining the two bills. (Politico / NBC News / Reuters)

  • Trump joked that his hands were “too big” while putting on plastic gloves to serve food to victims of Hurricane Harvey in Houston. (The Hill)

9/ FEMA is expected to run out of money this week as Hurricane Irma approaches. The Disaster Relief Fund has just $1.01 billion on hand, less than half of the $2.14 billion that was there last Thursday morning – a spend rate of $9.3 million an hour. (Bloomberg)

10/ Trump's pick to lead NASA doesn't believe that humans are causing climate change. Representative Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma would be the first elected official to hold the job and will need to be confirmed by the Senate. The two senators who represent Florida's Space Coast have publicly objected to the choice of a politician as head of the space agency. (NPR/ New York Times)

Poll/ 58% of voters oppose deporting Dreamers and think they should be allowed to stay and become citizens if they meet certain requirements. (Politico)

Day 225: A rigged system.

1/ Robert Mueller has a draft of a letter outlining Trump's reasons for wanting to fire James Comey. The letter was blocked by White House counsel, who believed its contents were problematic. A different letter was ultimately sent, written by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, focusing on Comey’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server. (New York Times)

2/ Senate Republicans accused Comey of trying to clear Clinton before the FBI had completed its investigation. Chuck Grassley, who chairs the Judiciary Committee, and Lindsey Graham, who chairs a subcommittee panel on crime and terrorism, say Comey drafted a statement exonerating Clinton's use of a private email server. They base their timeline on heavily-redacted transcripts where an unidentified FBI aide says that Comey first wrote a draft of his July statement that the FBI was shuttering its investigation in May 2016. However, Comey was not involved in the day-to-day steps of the investigation and the FBI had already reviewed most of the evidence by the spring of 2016 where it was clear the investigation was unlikely to bring charges. “Wow, looks like James Comey exonerated Hillary Clinton long before the investigation was over,” Trump tweeted. “A rigged system!” (Washington Post / CNN / New York Times)

3/ Mueller has teamed up with the IRS’ Criminal Investigations unit, which focuses exclusively on financial crime, including tax evasion and money laundering. If Mueller wants to bring charges against Trump associates over tax violations, he will need approval from the Justice Department’s Tax Division. Trump hasn’t nominated anybody to run the division, yet. (The Daily Beast)

4/ Black smoke was seen pouring from the Russian consulate in San Francisco. Yesterday, the Trump administration ordered Russia to close the consulate after the Kremlin cut American diplomatic and technical staff in Russia. (Associated Press)

5/ Trump's head of voter fraud is also a paid Breitbart News columnist. Kobach has published seven columns, most highlighting immigration and sanctuary cities, but also his own Commission on Election Integrity. “I get paid for my columns… just like you’re paid,” Kobach said. (The Hill / Kansas City Star)

6/ Adam Schiff is pushing to defund Trump's commission on voter fraud, introducing an amendment to the upcoming government spending bill. The California Democrat accused the commission of "appearing to lay the groundwork for a push to place new restrictions on voting that disproportionately disadvantages minority voters." (The Hill)

7/ Paul Ryan wants Trump to hold off on rescinding Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. "I actually don't think he should do that," Ryan said. "I believe that this is something that Congress has to fix." Orrin Hatch added that rescinding DACA would be "an action that would further complicate a system in serious need of a permanent, legislative solution." Hundreds of business leaders have signed an open letter encouraging Trump to preserve DACA, which allows undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children a two-year eligibility for work permits and deferred action from deportation. Trump will announce his decision on Tuesday. "We love dreamers; we love everybody…the dreamers are terrific,'' Trump told reporters. (CNN / The Hill / ABC News / New York Times)

8/ Trump backed down from his threat to shut down the government over funding for his border wall. The White House notified Congress that the $1.6 billion needed to build 74 miles of border wall and fencing don't need to be included in a short-term spending bill that must be passed by the end of September in order to fund the government into December. Trump, however, wants the funding included in the December budget bill. (Washington Post)

  • Customs and Border Protection awarded contracts to four companies to build wall prototypes. The four companies each proposed concrete walls. DHS expects to announce contracts for four non-concrete wall prototypes next week. (NBC News)

9/ Another Trump aide will leave the White House. Keith Schiller, director of Oval Office operation, has told people he intends to leave the White House at the end of September. Schiller's departure comes just over a month after John Kelly became chief of staff and restricted access to Trump in an attempt to instill order inside the White House. (CNN)

10/ The ability for Senate Republicans to repeal Obamacare with 51 votes will end on September 30th when the budget reconciliation process expires, the Senate parliamentarian ruled. It takes 60 votes to overcome a Democratic filibuster, and Democrats are united against a full replacement of Obamacare. (Bloomberg / Vox)

Day 224: Tag teamed.

1/ Robert Mueller and the New York attorney general have teamed up to investigate Paul Manafort and his financial transactions. Mueller and Eric Schneiderman have been sharing evidence on potential financial crimes, including potential money laundering, as well as attempting to get Manafort to cooperate by approaching his family members and former business partners. Several firms and people who have worked with him have received subpoenas. Mueller working with New York state is important because Trump's pardon power does not extend to state crimes. If Manafort or anyone else is charged under New York law, there will be nothing Trump can do about it. (Politico / Washington Post)

2/ Manafort's notes from the Trump Tower meeting mentioned "donations" near a reference to the Republican National Committee. Investigators want to know if the meeting included discussion of donations from Russians to either the Trump campaign or the Republican Party. It is illegal for foreigners to donate to American elections. (NBC News)

  • Manafort's political-consulting work often involved Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, whose ventures have aligned with some of Putin’s foreign-policy objectives. Manafort worked with Deripaska for more than a decade on projects in Ukraine, Georgia, Montenegro, and other countries of political interest to Russia and its sphere of influence. Deripaska has offered to give testimony about alleged Russian meddling in the election to the House and Senate intelligence committees in exchange for immunity. (Wall Street Journal)

3/ Mueller's grand jury heard testimony from the Russian-American lobbyist who attended the Trump Jr.-Russian lawyer meeting. Rinat Akhmetshin, a former Soviet military officer who served in a counterintelligence unit, testified before the jury for several hours on August 11th, signaling that Mueller is including the controversial Trump Tower meeting in his investigation. (Associated Press / The Hill / Financial Times)

4/ Trump's lawyer "vehemently" denied working with Russia to disrupt the election. Michael Cohen gave Congress a point-by-point rebuttal of the 35-page dossier compiled by retired British spy Christopher Steele, which alleges he has deep ties to Russian officials. Cohen denied the dossier's claims, including that he had secret meetings in Prague with a Russian official last summer. (New York Times)

5/ Trump's outside legal team submitted memos to Mueller arguing that Trump didn’t obstruct justice when he fired James Comey and called into question Comey’s reliability as a potential witness. Trump's attorneys hope the memos will end Mueller's obstruction of justice investigation. (Wall Street Journal)

6/ The State Department ordered Russia to close its consulate in San Francisco and two annex buildings in Washington, D.C. and New York City. The move comes in response to the Kremlin’s decision to cut American diplomatic and technical staff in Russia by more than half, which itself was in response to Congress approving new sanctions against Russia. (Reuters)

7/ Trump is expected to rescind Obama's Dreamer policy. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, protects nearly 600,000 immigrants who entered the country illegally as children. They will be allowed to stay until their work permits expire. (Reuters / McClatchy DC)

8/ Health and Human Services cut the Affordable Care Act marketing budget by 90%. They'll spend $10 million promoting open enrollment, which starts in November. The Obama administration spent $100 million last year. (Axios)

9/ Trump's treasury secretary won’t commit to putting Harriet Tubman on $20 bill. Last year, Obama and his treasury secretary proposed to replace Andrew Jackson’s image with Tubman, the famous abolitionist who helped free enslaved people. She would be the first woman on American paper money as well as the first African American. (Washington Post)

10/ Jim Mattis signed orders to send additional troops to Afghanistan. The defense secretary didn't specify the size of the force, but Trump previously authorized him to send about 4,000 additional troops to Afghanistan. There are about 11,000 US troops serving in Afghanistan. (Reuters)

11/ The net neutrality comment period ended with nearly 22 million total replies. A telecom-backed study found that more than 90% of the comments were pre-written form letters. Of the unique comments, 98.5% oppose the plan to repeal the rules. The FCC has said it would consider the quality, not the quantity, of the comments in justifying its plans for net neutrality. (Recode / Ars Technica)

poll/ 61% of Americans have an unfavorable impression of Trump. 59% disapprove of the way Trump is handling his job as president. (NBC News)

poll/ 56% of voters feel Trump is “tearing the country apart,” compared to 33% who say he’s “drawing the country together.” (Fox News)

Day 223: Talking is not the answer.

1/ Less than two weeks before Hurricane Harvey, Trump rescinded Obama's coastal flood protections, which required federal, state, and local agencies to take steps to protect infrastructure from flooding caused by climate change. The Federal Flood Risk Management Standard aimed to “reduce the risk and cost of future flood disasters” and “help ensure federal projects last as long as intended." (HuffPost)

2/ House Republicans want to cut almost $1 billion from FEMA's disaster relief fund, which only has $2.3 billion remaining in its budget. Trump, meanwhile, is promising billions to help Texas rebuild from Harvey-caused flooding. The $876 million cut pays for roughly half the cost of Trump’s down payment on the border wall. (Associated Press)

3/ Contrary to reports, Mattis did not “freeze” the transgender ban. USA Today reported that the defense secretary would delay the implementation of Trump’s directive and "allow" transgender troops to continue serving in the military while the Pentagon studied the issue. Instead, Mattis is doing what Trump directed him to do in his memo, which ordered the secretary of defense and the secretary of homeland security, to “determine how to address transgender individuals currently serving in the United States military.” Mattis has until February 21st to submit a plan for implementing the new policy. (Salon / Vox)

4/ The Kremlin confirmed that Trump’s personal lawyer reached out during the 2016 presidential campaign requesting assistance on a stalled Trump Tower real estate project in Moscow. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said they received Michael Cohen’s email, but the Kremlin didn't reply. Peskov said that he had seen the email but that it was not given to Putin. (Associated Press / Washington Post)

5/ The Senate Intelligence Committee wants Michael Cohen to testify as part of its investigation into Russia’s meddling. Cohen has been in the spotlight this week following new revelations about his outreach to Russian officials for help with a proposal for a Trump Tower in Moscow. Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort are also likely to appear for closed-door interviews. Trump Jr. agreed to testify privately before the Senate judiciary committee in the “next few weeks.” (Politico)

6/ Trump called the Senate judiciary committee chairman to pledge policy support for the biofuel ethanol industry, a key issue for Chuck Grassley. The Iowa senator is investigating Trump Jr.'s meeting with the Russian lawyer. (The Guardian)

7/ Trump tweets that "talking is not the answer" when it comes to North Korea. "The U.S. has been talking to North Korea, and paying them extortion money, for 25 years," Trump tweeted. "Talking is not the answer!" (CNN)

8/ Mattis contradicted Trump: We're "never out of diplomatic solutions" on North Korea. Mattis echoed Rex Tillerson's statement that the US would continue its “peaceful pressure” campaign on Pyongyang, saying “We continue to work together, and the minister and I share responsibility to provide for the protection of our nation our populations and our interests, which is what we are here to discuss today." (The Hill)

9/ The White House will end an Obama-era policy aimed at addressing pay disparities. The data collection requirement would have required business owners to document how much they pay workers based on their gender, race, and ethnicity. Ivanka Trump, supporting the policy, issued a statement saying: “Ultimately, while I believe the intention was good and agree that pay transparency is important, the proposed policy would not yield the intended results." (Wall Street Journal)

10/ A focus group of Pittsburgh-area voters called Trump “outrageous,” “dishonest,” “disappointing,” “narcissistic,” “an abject disappointment,” “unique,” “not ready to be president,” “off the scale,” “crazy,” “unbelievable,” and “contemptible.” Five of the group's 12 members voted for Trump. (NBC News / Politico)

poll/ 20% of Americans under 30 approve of Trump. Obama's lowest approval rating for people between ages 18-29 was 42%. (Axios)

poll/ 61% of voters oppose shutting down the government in order to fund Trump's border wall. 28% support a government shutdown for that purpose. (The Hill)

Day 222: Concealed.

1/ Robert Mueller is investigating whether Trump tried to conceal the purpose of Trump Jr.'s meeting with the Russian lawyer. Prosecutors want to know what Trump's role was in crafting Trump Jr.'s response to reports about the meeting. The White House initially said Trump only "weighed in" on Trump Jr.'s statement about the Russia meeting. It was later reported that Trump personally dictated Trump Jr.'s statement about the meeting. (NBC News)

2/ Trump Jr. agreed to testify privately before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the “next few weeks.” The panel had invited him to attend a July hearing to testify in public, but he declined. It's unclear if he will eventually testify publicly. (Politico / CNN)

3/ Michael Cohen said he didn’t inform Trump that he had sent the email to Putin’s top press official asking for “assistance” in arranging a licensing deal for a Trump Tower in Moscow. The Trump Organization attorney sent the email in January 2016 to Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin’s top press aide, at the recommendation of Felix Sater, a Russian-American businessman who was serving as a broker on the deal. Cohen said he never heard back from Peskov and the project never got off the ground. (Wall Street Journal / Politico)

4/ Mueller issued subpoenas for Paul Manafort's current spokesman and his former lawyer seeking documents and testimony. The subpoenas are among dozens that the Mueller investigative team has sent out in recent months since taking over the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Manafort is under investigation for possible tax and financial crimes. (CNN)

5/ Trump warned North Korea that "all options are on the table" after it fired a missile over Japan. The recent ballistic missile test "has signaled its contempt" for the international community, Trump said in a statement. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley added that “something serious has to happen.” (Politico / CNN)

6/ Trump fired the organizer for his Phoenix speech because he was upset about the crowd size and TV coverage. After his speech, Trump had his top security aide inform longtime aide George Gigicos that he’d never manage a Trump rally again. Gigicos has organized all of Trump’s main campaign events and occasional rallies since entering office and is one of the four longest-serving aides to the president. Gigicos joins Sean Spicer, Reince Priebus, Stephen Bannon, Sebastian Gorka, and Anthony Scaramucci, who have all resigned or been fired. (Bloomberg)

7/ Trump praised the crowd size while touring Corpus Christi in the aftermath Tropical Storm Harvey. "What a crowd, what a turnout," Trump said to several hundred people surrounding a fire station where he spoke from a ladder between fire trucks. (The Hill)

8/ Trump tweeted that he intentionally understaffed FEMA in order to shrink the federal government. His tweet came in response to a critical Fox and Friends segment where Laura Ingraham said the damage and flooding in Texas from Hurricane Harvey is proof that the Trump administration needs to be fully staffed. Of the 591 key positions that require Senate confirmation, just 117 have been filled. (Politico)

poll/ 16% of Americans say they like the way Trump conducts himself as president. 58% say they do not like the way Trump conducts himself. (Pew Research Center)

Day 221: Speaks for himself.

1/ Trump's company was pursuing a plan to develop a Trump Tower in Moscow while he was running for president. Discussions about the Moscow project began in September 2015 until it was abandoned just before the presidential primaries began in January 2016, emails show. The details of the deal had not previously been disclosed. The Trump Organization has turned over the emails to the House Intelligence Committee, pointing to the likelihood of additional contacts between Russia and Trump associates during the campaign. (Washington Post)

2/ Trump's business associate promised that Putin would help Trump win the presidency if he built a Trump Tower in Moscow. “I will get Putin on this program and we will get Donald elected,” Felix Sater, a Russian immigrant, wrote to Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, in 2015. “Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it,” Sater wrote in an email. “I will get all of Putins team to buy in on this, I will manage this process.” At the time, Sater was a broker for the Trump Organization and was paid to deliver real estate deals. (New York Times)

3/ Trump discussed a proposal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow with his company’s lawyer three times. The project was abandoned in January 2016 “from solely a business standpoint” and had nothing to do with Trump’s campaign his attorney Michael Cohen told the House intelligence committee. "I made the decision to terminate further work on the proposal," Cohen said. “The Trump Tower Moscow proposal was not related in any way to Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign.” (Bloomberg)

4/ Trump's attorney sent an email to Putin’s personal spokesman to ask for help advancing a stalled Trump Tower project in Moscow. Michael Cohen sent the email in January 2016 to Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin’s top press aide, at the recommendation of Felix Sater, a Russian-American businessman who was serving as a broker on the deal. "I respectfully request someone, preferably you, contact me so that I might discuss the specifics as well as arranging meetings with the appropriate individuals," Cohen wrote. "I thank you in advance for your assistance and look forward to hearing from you soon." The email marks the most direct documented interaction of a top Trump aide and a senior member of Putin’s government. (Washington Post)

5/ Four months into the presidential campaign, Trump signed a “letter of intent” to pursue building a Trump Tower in Moscow. The involvement of then-candidate Trump in a proposed Russian development deal contradicts his repeated claims that his business had “no relationship to Russia whatsoever." The Trump Organization signed a non-binding letter of intent in October 2015. (ABC News)

6/ Trump declined to single out Russia as a "security threat," saying he considers “many countries threats.” He added that it would be beneficial for the US to have a better relationship with Russia, in order to ensure "world peace." (The Hill)

7/ Rex Tillerson said that Trump "speaks for himself" when asked about the president's values and response to the violence in Charlottesville. "I don't believe anyone doubts the American people's values or the commitment of the government or the government's agencies to advancing those values and defending those values," Tillerson said on "Fox New Sunday," adding that "the president speaks for himself." (The Hill)

  • Trump's frustration with Tillerson is rising fast. "Rex just doesn't get it, he's totally establishment in his thinking." (Axios)

  • Tillerson could be replaced by U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley. The Deputy Secretary National Security Adviser Dina Powell could then be promoted to Haley's job in New York. (Axios)

8/ Trump pardoned former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted of criminal contempt related to his refusal to stop imprisoning suspected illegal immigrants. Trump didn't follow his predecessors' practice of consulting the Justice Department before announcing his first pardon. Arpaio was an early Trump supporter who also helped fuel unfounded allegations that Obama was not born in the United States. In a tweet, Trump called Arpaio a "patriot" and said he "kept Arizona safe." (CNN / ABC News / Washington Post)

9/ Months ago Trump asked both Jeff Sessions and the White House counsel if Arpaio's case could be dropped altogether. Trump was advised that it would be inappropriate and the case and charges could not be dropped. (New York Times / Washington Post)

10/ Paul Ryan, John McCain, and Jeff Flake all criticized Trump for pardoning Arpaio. "The Speaker does not agree with this decision," a Ryan spokesman said in a statement. "Law enforcement officials have a special responsibility to respect the rights of everyone in the United States. We should not allow anyone to believe that responsibility is diminished by this pardon." John McCain added that the president's "pardon of Joe Arpaio, who illegally profiled Latinos, undermines his claim for the respect of rule of law." Jeff Flake tweeted that "I would have preferred that the President honor the judicial process and let it take its course." And, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton called the pardon a "slap in the face to the people of Maricopa County, especially the Latino community." (CNN / Wall Street Journal)

11/ Trump announced Arpaio's pardon as Hurricane Harvey made landfall because he “assumed the ratings would be far higher.” Trump told reporters at a press conference: "In the middle of a hurricane, even though it was a Friday evening, I assumed the ratings would be far higher than they would be normally. You know, the hurricane was just starting.” (The Hill)

12/ Sebastian Gorka left the White House and will return to Breitbart News, reuniting with Steve Bannon. One White House official said Gorka submitted his resignation to John Kelly, while a second White House official said "Gorka did not resign, but I can confirm he is no longer with the White House." The White House issued an unattributed statement saying that Gorka no longer works in the administration, but didn't say he resigned. (New York Times / CNN / Politico)

13/ Trump rescinded Obama's restrictions on the transfer of surplus military-style equipment to local police departments. Obama’s 2015 order came in the wake of the Ferguson riots, where police used armored vehicles and military-type equipment to quell protests after the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was unarmed when he was shot and killed by police. The Justice Department concluded that the use of military-style equipment made matters worse in Ferguson. (NBC News / Politico)

14/ North Korea launched three ballistic missiles and at least one of flew over Japan. It was the second time in four days that North Korea launched a missile. On Saturday, the North launched three short-range missiles. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / New York Times)

Day 218: Must do better.

1/ Trump’s top economic adviser said the White House “must do better in consistently and unequivocally” condemning hate groups. Gary Cohn, a prominent Jewish member of Trump’s administration, drafted a letter of resignation after Trump defended the white nationalist protesters in Charlottesville. Cohn’s remarks were in contrast to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who said that "under no circumstances" was he planning to resign after Trump’s remarks that "both sides" were to blame for the violence. Mnuchin is also Jewish. (New York Times / CNN / Politico / Financial Times)

2/ CIA Director Mike Pompeo has required that the unit investigating possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign report directly to him. Pompeo, who spends more time at the White House than his predecessors, has repeatedly played down Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. Officials in the CIA counterintelligence unit say they have to “watch” Pompeo over fear he might report new information directly to Trump. The worry among some at the agency is “that if you were passing on something too dicey [to Pompeo] he would go to the White House with it.” (Washington Post)

3/ Robert Mueller is examining what role, if any, Michael Flynn may have played in an effort to obtain Hillary Clinton’s emails from Russian hackers. The effort to seek out the hackers was led by longtime Republican activist Peter W. Smith, who in correspondence and conversations with his colleagues portrayed Flynn as an ally and implied that other senior Trump campaign officials were coordinating with him. Smith also named Flynn’s consulting firm and his son in the correspondence and conversations. At the time Smith was trying to find the emails, Flynn was a senior adviser to the Trump campaign. (Wall Street Journal)

4/ The former British spy who put together the dossier of allegations about Trump during last year’s campaign has been ordered to give a deposition in the libel case brought against BuzzFeed News, who published the document. Christopher Steele authored the 35-page dossier while working for Fusion GPS and its founder Glenn Simpson. The document was crafted as opposition research for unknown political rivals of Trump. None of the claims have been corroborated. Steele will now be questioned under oath about his role in producing the dossier. (Fox News)

5/ The White House's new sanctions against Venezuela explicitly exempt Citgo, which donated $500,000 to fund Trump's inaugural ceremony. The country’s state-owned oil company has also paid $160,000 to lobby the White House, hiring Trump's former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and campaign adviser Barry Bennett to lobby for the exemption. (The Daily Beast)

6/ The Republican National Committee condemned white supremacy but didn't call it a rebuke of Trump’s remarks, saying "this has nothing to do with the president." (Washington Post)

7/ Trump is considering ending DACA, the Obama-era policy that shields some illegal immigrants from deportation. Jeff Sessions strongly believes Trump should end DACA, which would affect at least 750,000 people. Trump’s aides have recently pushed him to protect young children brought to the US illegally, despite his campaign promise to deport so-called Dreamers. (Axios / ABC News / NBC News)

8/ A federal court ruled that parts of Texas' state House maps are intentionally discriminatory and ordered them redrawn ahead of the 2018 elections. Last week, the court required that the state’s congressional maps had to be redrawn because they illegally discriminate against Hispanic and black voters. In both the congressional and state House rulings, Texas' attorney general signaled that the state would appeal both rulings. (Dallas News / The Texas Tribune)

9/ John Kelly and the White House staff secretary will now review all documents that cross Trump's desk. The new system is designed to ensure that Trump won’t see any external policy documents, internal policy memos, agency reports or news articles that haven’t been vetted. For months, people wandered into the Oval Office throughout the day giving Trump pieces of unvetted information. Policy decisions were often based on whoever had gotten Trump’s attention last. (Politico / New York Times)

Day 217: Nonsense.

1/ Trump's now deputy chief of staff received an email in June 2016 from a person attempting to set up a meeting with Putin. The email occurred around the time that Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort met with the Russian lawyer at Trump Tower. At the time, Rick Dearborn served as Jeff Sessions' chief of staff. Investigators want to know if Dearborn played a role in arranging the two meetings that occurred between the then-Russia ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak, and Sessions. (CNN)

2/ Kislyak downplayed his contact with the Trump campaign, calling allegations that he tried to recruit people within Trump's orbit as spies "nonsense." Kislyak is considered to be one of Russia's top spies and spy-recruiters in Washington. He left the US for Russia last month after concluding his tour of service. (CNN)

3/ The private investigator behind the infamous Trump dossier spent almost 10 hours behind closed doors with the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday. Glenn Simpson, who cofounded the private research firm Fusion GPS, answered questions about the 35-page document. Fusion GPS hired a former British intelligence officer, Christopher Steele, to compile the dossier, which alleges that Trump had a long-running relationship with Russia and that the Kremlin holds compromising material on him.

Fusion GPS was initially hired by Republicans and later Democrats to explore then-candidate Trump’s past. Simpson did not reveal who paid for the research, but Fusion GPS said it remains “proud” of the work and “stands by it.”

Simpson is the first of three major players to speak with judiciary staff in the ongoing Russia probe. Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort both cut deals to speak with committee staff in private, but their dates have not been scheduled yet. (ABC News / NPR / CNN)

4/ The White House set guidance for implementing Trump's ban on transgender people in the military. The policy will give Defense Secretary Jim Mattis authority to expel transgender people from the military. The memo also directs the Pentagon to stop recruiting transgender troops and to stop paying for sexual reassignment surgery and other medical treatments for those already serving. Mattis has six months to prepare to fully implement the ban. (Wall Street Journal / New York Times)

5/ White House staffer paid to spot and distribute positive stories from the mainstream media has left his position. Andy Hemming worked at the White House from 5:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. every weekday, sending reporters stories favorable to the administration. Sarah Huckabee Sanders told us that it was a “[m]utual decision that he could best help promote the president’s agenda on the outside." (Politico)

6/ Seven members of Trump's infrastructure council resigned this week, citing his Charlottesville response and other issues. The National Infrastructure Advisory Council is made up of appointees from the private sector, academia, and government to advise the president on security for critical infrastructure. (HuffPost)

7/ Trump blamed Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan for the debt ceiling "mess," saying it could have been avoided had they listened to him. The two GOP leaders refused to package legislation raising the debt ceiling to a measure on veterans affairs, which Trump advised them to do. "They didn’t do it," Trump tweeted, "so now we have a big deal with Dems holding them up (as usual) on Debt Ceiling approval. Could have been so easy-now a mess!” Congress needs to pass both a debt ceiling increase and a spending measure by the end of September. Both could pass the Republican-led House by a simple majority vote, but the Senate will need 60 votes to pass, requiring support from Democrats. (Reuters / Bloomberg)

8/ Trump is reportedly "serious" about shutting down the government if he doesn't get funding for his border wall. Kellyanne Conway said Trump was "steadfastly committed" to building the wall, and that he expects the funding to do it. "Anybody who’s surprised by that has not been paying attention for over two years," Conway said. "So he’s telling Congress he’s building the wall, he expects the funding, and it’s up to them to work collaboratively. We hope they do." (NBC News)

9/ A web hosting company was ordered to turn over information about an anti-Trump website to the DOJ despite arguments that doing so would impinge on users' First Amendment rights and stifle online political discourse. The DC judge ruled that DreamHost was obligated to turn over subscriber data as long as it was limited to individuals linked to the Inauguration Day riots and not people merely using the site. The DOJ originally requested that 1.3 million IP addresses from disruptj20.org be turned over. (The Hill / Bloomberg / Politico)

poll/ 71% agreed Trump's behavior is not what they expected from a president. 68% believe his words and actions could get the US "accidentally" involved in an international conflict. (George Washington University Battleground Poll)

Day 216: Looking for a way out.

1/ Trump ranted, rambled, and went on a rampage during his campaign-style rally in Arizona last night. Ignoring the message on his Teleprompter, Trump threatened to shut down the government over border wall funding, blaming “obstructionist Democrats” for standing in his way. He called for ending the filibuster in the Senate, a move that Republican leaders have refused to embrace. Trump suggested that "we'll probably end up terminating NAFTA" despite the renegotiation just getting underway. He also signaled that he would pardon former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted of criminal contempt for ignoring a judge’s order to stop detaining people because he suspected them of being undocumented immigrants. And, he attacked John McCain for his vote against repealing and replacing Obamacare: "One vote away, I will not mention any names." (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / Politico)

  • On his Charlottesville comments: Trump defended his responses to the Charlottesville violence while omitting his reference to "many sides" or "both sides." He added that “I hit ’em with neo-Nazi. I hit them with everything. I got the white supremacists, the neo-Nazi. I got them all in there. Let’s see. K.K.K., we have K.K.K.."

  • On removing Confederate monuments: "They're trying to take away our culture. They're trying to take away our history," Trump said, blaming "weak, weak people" for allowing the removal of statues commemorating the Confederacy.

  • On pardoning former sheriff Joe Arpaio: “I won’t do it tonight because I don’t want to cause any controversy. I’ll make a prediction: I think he’s going to be just fine.”

  • On the news media: "It’s time to expose the crooked media deceptions. They’re very dishonest people. The only people giving a platform to these hate groups is the media itself and the fake news."

2/ James Clapper called Trump's speech "downright scary and disturbing." The former national intelligence director questioned Trump’s fitness for office and is worried about his access to the nuclear codes. “I also am beginning to wonder about his motivation for it," Clapper said. "Maybe he is looking for a way out.” (Washington Post / CNN)

3/ The White House has prepared the paperwork for Trump to pardon former sheriff Joe Arpaio. One of the talking points is that Arpaio served his country for 50 years and that it is not appropriate to send him to prison for "enforcing the law" and "working to keep people safe." Arpaio was found guilty of criminal contempt for disregarding a court order in a racial profiling case. (CNN)

4/ Trump followed up his threat to shut down the government if Congress didn't fund his wall by going after Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona. Trump tweeted "I love the Great State of Arizona. Not a fan of Jeff Flake, weak on crime and border!” Flake is one of two Republican senators up for re-election next year and was among a handful of GOP lawmakers who did not endorse Trump for president. Flake has been skeptical of building a border wall between the US and Mexico. (Politico / New York Times)

5/ The United Nations issued an “early warning” to the US over its "alarming" racism, urging the Trump administration to “unequivocally and unconditionally” reject discrimination. The only other countries to be issued an early warning were Burundi, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Kyrgyzstan and Nigeria. (The Guardian)

6/ There are 3,500 additional troops in Afghanistan than the Pentagon has publicly disclosed. The Pentagon has acknowledged that about 8,400 troops are in Afghanistan, but this doesn't include the approximately 3,500 troops there on temporary assignment, which brings the total number of troops above 12,000. The Pentagon is expected to send up to another 3,900 troops under the new Afghanistan strategy, for a total of about 16,000 troops. (Wall Street Journal / NBC News)

7/ The Secret Service agreed to stop erasing White House visitor log data while a lawsuit demanding public access to some of the information goes forward. Records held by federal agencies like the Secret Service are subject to Freedom of Information Act requests. (Politico)

8/ The editor in chief of The Wall Street Journal criticized his staff over their coverage of Trump’s rally in Phoenix, describing their reporting as overly opinionated. The Wall Street Journal is owned by Rupert Murdoch, who speaks regularly with Trump and recently dined with the president at the White House. (New York Times)

poll/ 62% of voters say Trump is doing more to divide the country, while 31% say he is doing more to unite the country. (Quinnipiac)

Day 215: Principled realism.

1/ Mitch McConnell has privately expressed uncertainty that Trump can salvage his administration. The two have not spoken to each other in weeks and in offhand remarks, McConnell questioned whether Trump will be in a position to lead the Republican Party into next year’s elections and beyond. (New York Times)

2/ Trump put forward his strategy for resolving the nearly 16-year-old conflict in Afghanistan last night. He insisted he would “not talk about numbers of troops” needed or telegraph military moves, but hinted that he supports the Pentagon’s proposal to add nearly 4,000 troops to the roughly 8,400 Americans there now. Trump also said the US will shift away from a time-based approach to a results-based approach, declining to specify the benchmarks for success or a timetable for withdrawal. He added, however, that there would be no “blank check” for Afghanistan and that “a hasty withdrawal would create a vacuum for terrorists, including ISIS and Al Qaeda.” He described his plan as "principled realism." (New York Times / Washington Post / Associated Press)

3/ Trump's national security team spent months talking him out of abruptly ending the war in Afghanistan. “It wasn’t a debate,” said a senior White House aide. “It was an attempt to convince the president.” Trump's acceptance was less a change of heart than a willingness to be persuaded as long as he could be seen as a strong and decisive leader, even if it broke with his “America First” campaign rhetoric. “We are not nation-building again,” Trump said in his speech. “We are killing terrorists.” National security adviser H.R. McMaster used black-and-white photos from 1972 of Afghan women in miniskirts in an effort to convince Trump that Western norms had existed there before and could return. (Politico / Washington Post / New York Times)

4/ Trump’s aides are pushing him to protect young children brought to the country illegally despite his campaign promise to deport so-called Dreamers. White House officials want to use the issue as a bargaining chip for a larger immigration deal that offers Dreamers protection in exchange for legislation that pays for a border wall and more detention facilities, curbs legal immigration and implements E-verify, an online system that allows businesses to check immigration status, and more. (McClatchy DC)

5/ The Treasury Department sanctioned China and Russia for assisting North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. Six individuals and 10 companies were added to the sanctions list in order to increase economic leverage on North Korea and reduce the flow of money to its weapons development. (Bloomberg / CNBC)

6/ Pro-Trump rallies in 36 states have been canceled. The America First Rallies were scheduled for September 9th, but “out of an abundance of caution” due “to the recent violence in America and in Europe" the rallies will be held as online demonstrations because "citizens cannot peacefully express their opinion without risk of physical harm from terror groups domestic and international." (Newsweek)

7/ Paul Ryan said Trump “messed up” his response to Charlottesville when he failed to denounce white supremacy and defended them as "fine people." Ryan said that by blaming "both sides" for last week's violence, Trump “made comments that are much more morally ambiguous, much more confusing” than he should have. He stopped short of calling on Trump to apologize for his Charlottesville response. (Politico / New York Times)

8/ Pence: the US should be building more monuments, not tearing them down. "I'm someone who believes in more monuments, not less monuments," Pence told Fox News. "What we ought to do is remember our history," arguing that America's monuments should tell the country's full history. "We ought to be celebrating the men and women who have helped our nation move towards a more perfect union and tell the whole story of America." (The Hill)

9/ Mitch McConnell said there was “zero chance” Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling by late September in order to prevent an unprecedented default. He offered no information about how he hoped to persuade lawmakers to back such a measure. House conservatives have demanded significant spending cuts in return for lifting the debt ceiling. In addition, McConnell will need support from Democrats to increase the debt ceiling, who have not said what kind of bill they would support. (Bloomberg / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

10/ German police seized 5,000 Trump-shaped ecstasy tablets, worth tens of thousands of euros. (CNN)

11/ An email prankster fooled top editors at Breitbart into believing he was Steve Bannon. The editors pledged to fake Bannon that they would do the "dirty work" against White House aides, including having Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump ousted "by end of year." (CNN)

12/ The Senate intelligence committee wants Congress to declare WikiLeaks a “non-state hostile intelligence service,” which would force spy agencies to release information about Russian threats to the US and open Julian Assange and his pro-transparency organization to new surveillance. The bill passed the committee late last month on a 14-1 vote. (The Daily Beast)

13/ In 214 days, Trump has made 1057 false and misleading claims. Trump averages nearly five false claims a day and more than 30 of his misleading statements have been repeated three or more times. (Washington Post)

Day 214: A path forward.

1/ The Secret Service has blown through its budget to pay agents because of Trump's frequent travel and large family. More than 1,000 agents have hit the federally mandated caps for salary and overtime allowances that were meant to last the entire year. The Secret Service has enough to money to continue protecting Trump and his family through September. If Congress don’t lift the cap, about a third of the agency’s agents would be working overtime without being paid. (USA Today / Washington Post)

2/ Republican political committees have spent nearly $1.3 million at Trump-owned properties this year. Federal Election Commission records show the Republican National Committee paid the Trump International Hotel in Washington $122,000 last month and at least 25 congressional campaigns, state parties, and the Republican Governors Association have together spent more than $473,000 at Trump hotels or golf resorts this year. (Washington Post)

3/ The Trump administration disbanded the National Climate Assessment panel, a group aimed at translating scientific findings into concrete guidance for both public and private-sector officials. Its members have been writing the Climate Science Special Report, due for release in 2018, which estimated that human activities were responsible for an increase in global temperatures of 1.1 to 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit from 1951 to 2010. (Washington Post)

4/ The Trump administration cut funding for Obama's Teen Pregnancy Prevention program after three years instead of the planned five. The Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement that the "very weak evidence of positive impact of these programs stands in stark contrast to the promised results, jeopardizing the youth who were served." (Axios / Wired)

5/ Trump will address the nation tonight on a "path forward" in Afghanistan at 9PM ET. The speech will "provide an update on the path forward for America’s engagement in Afghanistan and South Asia." Defense Secretary Jim Mattis received authority in June to send as many as 3,900 troops to Afghanistan. It will be Trump's first prime-time broadcast on a specific policy issue. (NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times)

6/ Paul Ryan will hold his first public town hall in nearly two years tonight. The town hall will air tonight at 9:30PM ET on CNN. Last month, Ryan said he would not hold public town halls due to concerns over potential protesters coming in from outside districts. (CNN / The Hill)

7/ Trump's pick for USDA chief scientist has argued that homosexuality could lead to the legalization of pedophilia. Sam Clovis also said that homosexuality is a choice and the science on "LGBT behavior" is unsettled. Clovis is not an agricultural scientist and lacks the "specialized training or significant experience in agricultural research, education and economics" required by law for the position. (CNN / Politico)

8/ At least 15 charities have cancelled their planned fundraisers at Mar-a-Lago. Large nonprofits began walking away from Mar-a-Lago after Trump blamed “both sides” for the violence in Charlottesville and claimed there were “very fine people on both sides.” (New York Times / Washington Post)

9/ Trump thanked a fake Twitter user and then attacked the "dishonest Fake News Media." The account was created in October 2015, but it first tweeted just 3 days ago, gathering over 6,000 followers with memes and posts exclusively celebrating Donald Trump. Trump thanked the bot for its tweet saying that "Every single day the #FakeNews media try to take you down.. You never falter, you always stand strong!" (Mashable)

10/ Mitch McConnell undercuts Trump that "most news is not fake." McConnell told a group at the Louisville Chamber of Commerce that he reads a variety of sources that Trump has blasted, including the New York Times, and that "it is my view that most news is not fake." (Politico)

11/ Robert Mueller is investigating the Russian lobbyist with deep ties to Moscow who attended the Trump Jr. meeting. It was previously reported that Rinat Akhmetshin attended the June 2016 meeting between Paul Manafort, Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and the Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya. However, Akhmetshin's ties to the Russian government and Kremlin-backed oligarchs are much deeper than was previously known. Akhmetshin has been accused of being involved in various hacking schemes and nurturing a relationship with the former deputy head of Russia’s intelligence service, who was until last year a top aide to Putin. (New York Times)

poll/ Trump's job approval rating is below 40% in three key states that won him the White House. Six-in-10 voters in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin also say Trump’s conduct as president has embarrassed them. (NBC News)

poll/ 28% approve of Trump's response to Charlottesville. 42% believe Trump has been equating neo-Nazis and white supremacists to those who oppose them. (ABC News)

Day 211: Smell ya later.

1/ Trump fired Steve Bannon. The White House issued a statement saying, "White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Steve Bannon have mutually agreed today would be Steve's last day. We are grateful for his service and wish him the best." A person close to Bannon insists that it was his idea to part ways and that he submitted his resignation on August 7th, but it was delayed in the wake of Charlottesville. A White House official said Bannon and then-Chief of Staff Reince Priebus were supposed to be fired at same time, but the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus urged Trump to keep Bannon on board. (New York Times / CNN / Politico / Washington Post)

2/ Bannon will return to Breitbart News as executive chairman and will be “going to war” for Trump, vowing to intensify the fight from the outside. “Steve is now unchained,” a source close to Bannon said. “Fully unchained.” Another added that "He’s going nuclear. You have no idea. This is gonna be really fucking bad.” Earlier this week Bannon met with billionaire Republican donor Bob Mercer for five hours to plot out their political and media strategy. (New York Times / Bloomberg / Politico)

3/ Robert Mueller is focusing on Trump Jr.'s intent when he met with the Russian lawyer as prosecutors investigate possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. Trump Jr. has acknowledged that he was looking for negative information about Hillary Clinton, but he claimed he didn't receive anything useful. Prosecutors are trying to determine what information was provided. (BuzzFeed News)

4/ Mitt Romney called on Trump to apologize for his Charlottesville comments. Romney warned of “an unraveling of our national fabric” if Trump doesn’t take “remedial action in the extreme." He added that "whether he intended to or not, what he communicated caused racists to rejoice, minorities to weep, and the vast heart of America to mourn." (Washington Post / New York Times)

5/ Billionaire investor Carl Icahn stepped down as a special adviser to Trump. Unlike other executives who quit Trump’s advisory councils in protest over his refusal to condemn white supremacists, Icahn quit because he didn't want to be subject to questions of potential conflicts of interests over his role. (Financial Times / Bloomberg)

6/ The remaining members of Trump's arts commission resigned in protest over his comments on the violence in Charlottesville. The presidential arts and humanities panel, whose members are from Broadway, Hollywood, and the broader arts and entertainment community, said in a letter to Trump that “Supremacy, discrimination, and vitriol are not American values. Your values are not American values. We must be better than this. We are better than this. If this is not clear to you, then we call on you to resign your office, too.” (Washington Post)

  • Members of the digital economy council have resigned in protest. The committee’s aim is to “provide recommendations on ways to advance economic growth and opportunity in the digital age." It's the third advisory council to see resignations this week following Trump's remarks that there were “very fine people on both sides” of the Charlottesville violence. (Vice News)

7/ House Democrats have introduced a measure to censure Trump for his response to the violent white supremacist march in Charlottesville. At least 79 Democratic colleagues have signed on, including Nancy Pelosi, Jerry Nadler, Bonnie Watson, and Pramila Jayapal. A censure is a formal condemnation from Congress that's rarely used, but is the preliminary step before introducing impeachment. (Politico / ABC News)

8/ Five charities are cancelling planned fundraising events at Mar-a-Lago. The American Red Cross, The Salvation Army, Susan G. Komen foundation, the Cleveland Clinic, American Cancer Society, and the American Friends of Magen David Adom all said they wouldn't hold their 2018 galas at the resort. (CNN Money / Washington Post)

9/ James Murdoch pledged to donate $1 million to the Anti-Defamation League in a rebuke of Trump and his response to Charlottesville. James, the son of Rupert Murdoch, is the CEO of 21st Century Fox and an informal adviser to Trump. "Standing up to Nazis is essential," the younger Murdoch said in a statement. "There are no good Nazis. Or Klansmen, or terrorists. Democrats, Republicans, and others must all agree on this, and it compromises nothing for them to do so.” (New York Times)

10/ Pence praised Trump as the modern reincarnation of Theodore Roosevelt. “Just as President Roosevelt exhorted his fellow Americans to ‘dare to be great,’" Pence said, "President Donald Trump has dared our nation to ‘make America great again,’ and we’ll do it with all of our friends in the world.” (Washington Post)

11/ Neil Gorsuch will speak at the Trump International Hotel in Washington next month, raising questions about his impartiality and ethics concerns. The speaking engagement is for the celebration of the 50th anniversary of The Fund for American Studies group and is scheduled just days before the Supreme Court's next term begins. (CNN)

12/ Trump reorganized the military's Cyber Command, putting it on the same level as other combatant commands. The move will help the US bolster its cyber weapons so it can match Russia's capabilities in addition to giving it some operational independence. The head of Cyber Command will eventually report directly to the secretary of defense. (CNN / Axios / Vox)

Day 210: Ripped apart.

1/ Trump is "sad" that "our beautiful statues and monuments" to the Confederacy are being taken down. He tweeted that we're seeing the "history and culture of our great country being ripped apart." (Associated Press / Washington Post / New York Times)

  • Apple’s Tim Cook "disagrees" with Trump’s take on neo-Nazi violence in Charlottesville and will donate $1 million each to the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League. (Recode)

  • Unlike His Predecessors, Trump Steps Back From a Moral Judgment. Asked if he would put white supremacists and neo-Nazis on the same “moral plane” as their liberal and leftist resisters, Trump replied, “I’m not putting anybody on a moral plane.” (New York Times)

  • The rabbi who oversaw Ivanka Trump's conversion to Judaism criticized her father's response to Charlottesville in a letter to his congregation. (CNN)

2/ White House aides are wrestling with how to respond to Trump after he doubled down that “both sides” were to blame in Charlottesville. Gary Cohn, Trump’s top economic adviser, who is Jewish, was “disgusted” and “frantically unhappy" by Trump's remarks that there were some “very fine people" at the white nationalist rally. John Kelly, the new chief of staff, has been trying to instill a sense of discipline in the West Wing, but is "frustrated and dismayed" by Trump's self-inflicted controversies, from his North Korea rhetoric to publicly attacking Mitch McConnell. (Washington Post / Reuters / Politico)

  • "He is stubborn and doesn't realize how bad this is getting," a White House adviser said. Trump’s temper has been a constant force in the White House, making policy decisions after becoming irritated with staffers and escalating fights because he doesn't like being told what to do. (Politico)

3/ Jeff Sessions criticized Chicago’s “sanctuary city” policy, saying the "respect for the rule of law has broken down." He tied the violence in Chicago to its refusal to cooperate with federal immigration authorities, arguing that it's made Chicago a haven for predators and drug dealers. (New York Times / Reuters / Politico)

4/ Steve Bannon gave an outrageous interview then said he didn't know he was being interviewed in an attempt to divert attention from Charlottesville. Bannon called Robert Kuttner, the co-editor of The American Prospect, to say his rivals are "wetting themselves," called white supremacists “clowns” and “losers," and contradicted Trump on North Korea. (Washington Post / Axios / CNN)

5/ Trump’s personal lawyer forwarded an email warning that Black Lives Matter “has been totally infiltrated by terrorist groups" and that Robert E. Lee's rebellion was the same as the American Revolution against England. John Dowd forwarded the email with the subject line "The Information that Validates President Trump on Charlottesville" to conservative journalists, government officials and friends. (New York Times / CNN)

6/ Trump spread a debunked rumor while responding to the Barcelona terror attack on Twitter less than an hour after issuing an initial, measured statement. "Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught," Trump tweeted. "There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!" The reference is to General John J. Pershing who allegedly dipped bullets in pigs' blood to execute Islamic terrorists in the Philippines whose religion forbid contact with the animals. The Pershing legend has been debunked multiple times. (CNN Money / Washington Post / PolitiFact)

7/ Trump abandoned plans for an infrastructure council after his two other business advisory councils disbanded in protest over his remarks legitimizing white supremacists. The council would have advised Trump on his plan to spend as much as $1 trillion upgrading roads, bridges and other public works. (Bloomberg)

poll/ 67% of Republicans approve of Trump's response to the Charlottesville violence. 82% of Democrats disapprove. (CBS News)

poll/ 40% of Americans support impeaching Trump and removing him from office. That’s compared to 30 percent who said the same in February. (NBC News)

poll/ More people worldwide trust Putin over Trump to handle foreign affairs. 22 of the 36 countries polled, including Germany, France and Japan, trust Putin more than Trump, while 13 countries, including Australia, Canada, and the UK trust Trump slightly more. The survey was conducted February 16th to May 8th, which is before Trump threatened to rain “fire and fury” on North Korea. (Pew / Bloomberg)

poll/ 53% of Americans – both Republicans and Democrats – say there is nothing Trump could do to change their mind about him. 72% of female Trump supporters say they will never change their support. (CNN)

Day 209: Stunned and disheartened.

1/ Trump's staff is "stunned and disheartened" by his Charlottesville remarks. They say they "never expected to hear such a voluble articulation of opinions that the president had long expressed in private." While Trump has repeatedly said he is not prejudiced, his statements against white nationalists and racist organizations have been equivocal: It started on Saturday with his comment placing blame “on many sides," which was followed by a stronger denunciation of hate groups via email, attributed to an unnamed “spokesperson.” On Monday, Trump said that “racism is evil," but by Tuesday, Trump had reassigned “blame on both sides” for the Charlottesville violence, singling out "alt-left" groups who were “very, very violent." (New York Times)

  • Donald Trump Denounces Amazon More Strongly Than Neo-Nazis. (HuffPost)

  • Pence: “I stand with the president, and I stand by those words.” (Politico)

  • What Steve Bannon thinks about Charlottesville. (Axios)

  • Jewish Trump Staff Silent on His Defense of Rally With Anti-Semitic Marchers. (New York Times)

2/ Obama’s response to the Charlottesville violence is now the most liked tweet in Twitter’s history. The former president quoted Nelson Mandela, saying: “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion … People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love … For love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite." Trump, meanwhile, placed "blame on both sides. And I have no doubt about it." (BBC / Washington Post)

3/ Former Presidents H.W. and W. Bush denounce racism in wake of Charlottesville. "America must always reject racial bigotry, anti-Semitism, and hatred in all forms," the statement said. (CNN)

4/ The White House is telling Republicans to say Trump's comments on Charlottesville are “entirely correct.” The evening communications briefing encouraged members to echo Trump's line that “both sides … acted inappropriately, and bear some responsibility.” The memo adds that the "media reacted with hysteria" and that "we should not overlook the facts just because the media finds them inconvenient.” (The Atlantic)

5/ Paul Ryan called white supremacy “repulsive” in a tweet hours after Trump doubled down on his claim that "many sides" are to blame for the violence in Charlottesville. “We must be clear," Ryan tweeted. "White supremacy is repulsive. This bigotry is counter to all this country stands for. There can be no moral ambiguity.” (Talking Points Memo / The Hill)

6/ Mitch McConnell issued a statement condemning white nationalist groups ahead of a planned alt-right rally in his home state of Kentucky. The Senate majority leader said their ideologies "should not be welcome anywhere in America." (CNN / Axios)

7/ The Navy, Marines, Army, Air Force, and the National Guard have all denounced racism via Twitter following the violence in Charlottesville. (Army Times)

8/ Baltimore removed its four Confederate monuments early this morning after the City Council voted unanimously to take them down following the violence in Charlottesville. (CNN / New York Times)

  • Lincoln Memorial vandalized with profanity in Washington, DC. (BBC)

  • Holocaust Memorial in Boston Is Vandalized for Second Time This Summer. (New York Times)

9/ Hope Hicks is taking over as Trump's interim Communications Director and will work with White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to find a permanent person for the job. Hicks was a spokeswoman for Trump during his presidential campaign and at the Trump Organization. (New York Times / NBC News)

10/ Trump's business councils disbanded after multiple executives quit over his equating white nationalist hate groups with the protesters opposing them. The Strategic and Policy Forum called to inform Trump the group would disband. After the call, Trump tweeted that it was his decision to disband that council. "Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council and Strategy and Policy Forum, I am ending both," Trump tweeted. (ABC News / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

11/ One of Robert Mueller's top FBI investigators has left the team. Peter Strzok oversaw the beginnings of the Russia probe last summer. About a month ago, Mueller brought Strzok in to help manage the investigation into Russian election meddling. (ABC News / CNN)

12/ A panel of federal judges ruled Texas voter maps illegally discriminate against Hispanic and black voters and can’t be used in the upcoming congressional midterm elections. The state has three days to say if and when the Texas Legislature will fix the congressional map. The court will redraw the districts maps itself if Texas decides not to fix them. (Bloomberg)

  • Former Trump campaign aides are starting a group to identify “disaffected” rural and working-class Americans who either do not vote or are not on the voter rolls, in order to register and mobilize them ahead of future elections. (New York Times)

13/ The Trump administration agreed to continue making health care subsidy payments after the CBO reported that cutting off the payments would increase federal spending and cause insurance premiums to rise sharply. (Los Angeles Times)

poll/ 52% of Americans think Trump's response to the violence in Charlottesville was "not strong enough." No shit. (NPR)

Day 208: Retweet rampage.

1/ Trump retweeted an alt-right conspiracy theorist, a train hitting CNN, and a critic calling him a fascist. Last night, Trump retweeted Jack Posobiec, an alt-right figure who pushed the Pizzagate and Seth Rich conspiracy theories. Then this morning, Trump retweeted an image of a person holding a CNN sign being hit by a train, with the commentary, "Nothing can stop the #TrumpTrain!!" The White House said the tweet was inadvertently posted and it was deleted. And, finally, Trump retweeted a critic who called Trump a "fascist" for "seriously considering" pardoning former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was found guilty of ignoring a judge's order to stop racially profiling Latinos during patrols. (USA Today / CNN / Washington Post)

  • Trump says he's seriously considering pardoning former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a vocal Trump supporter during the 2016 presidential campaign. Earlier this month Arpaio was found guilty of criminal contempt for ignoring a court order to stop detaining suspected illegal immigrants. He faces up to six months in prison. (ABC News)

2/ Trump, again, blamed both sides for the Charlottesville violence, asking why the "alt-left" is not being blamed because, he says, they were “very, very violent” when they confronted white nationalist and Nazi groups. He asked if George Washington statues were going to come down next. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / Bloomberg)

3/ Four CEOs have now resigned from Trump's advisory council over his slow denouncement of white supremacists. The chief executives of Merck, Under Armour, Intel, Alliance for American Manufacturing have all quit the manufacturing council. Trump, meanwhile, tweeted that "For every CEO that drops out of the Manufacturing Council, I have many to take their place. Grandstanders should not have gone on. JOBS!" Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, left the council earlier this year after Trump announced the US would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. (CNN Money / Recode / Reuters / The Hill)

4/ Trump won't visit Charlottesville, because “why the hell would we do that?" The White House official suggested that the administration sees no upside and whatever Trump might do in Charlottesville would be “used against” him by the media. (The Daily Beast)

5/ Trump went off script, ad-libbing his "many sides" remark in response to Charlottesville violence. "Those were his own words," a senior White House official said. His "on many sides" comment "were not" in his prepared remarks. (ABC News)

6/ The leaders of four minority House caucus groups sent a letter to Trump asking him to fire Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, and Sebastian Gorka. “Americans deserve to know that white nationalists, white supremacists, and neo-Nazis are not in a position to influence U.S. policy,” the heads of the black, Hispanic, Asian and progressive caucuses wrote, suggesting that their continued presence in the White House is emboldening a resurgence of white supremacy. (Associated Press)

7/ North Korea won't fire missiles at Guam after all. State media said Kim Jong-un reviewed plans to fire missiles towards Guam but decided to hold off. He warned he could change his mind “if the Yankees persist in their extremely dangerous reckless actions.” (NPR / BBC / Wall Street Journal)

8/ The Justice Department has demanded that 1.3 million IP addresses from a Trump resistance site be turned over. The web hosting company, DreamHost, is fighting the search warrant, saying that the request for visitor logs, contact information, emails, and photos could be used to identify people who are exercising their Constitutional right of free speech to protest. Prosecutors obtained a search warrant for the records in July and are now asking a federal judge to force the company to turn over the information. (The Hill / Business Insider / CNN / DreamHost)

9/ Trump's threat to end Obamacare insurance subsidies would send premiums up 20% next year and increase the federal budget deficits by $194 billion in the coming decade, the Congressional Budget Office said. Trump has said he would "Let Obamacare implode" in order to force Democrats to negotiate on a replacement plan. (New York Times / Vox)

Day 207: On many sides.

1/ The White House issued a statement criticizing white supremacists for the violence that led to one death in Charlottesville more than 36 hours after the protests began. It was meant to clarify Trump's earlier remarks and condemn “all forms of violence, bigotry and hatred” and “of course that includes white supremacists, KKK, Neo-Nazi and all extremist groups.” The statement came in an email sent to reporters and attributed to an unnamed representative. Trump had previously said: "We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides." (New York Times / CNN)

  • Trump Is Criticized for Not Calling Out White Supremacists. He was the only national political figure to spread blame for the “hatred, bigotry and violence” that resulted in the death of one person to “many sides.” (New York Times)

2/ The White House’s clarification stopped short of what Republicans have urged Trump to do: directly call out and condemn white supremacy. Three of Trump's top advisers attempted to defend his vague statements: Ivanka Trump tweeted: “There should be no place in society for racism, white supremacy and neo-nazis.” National security adviser H.R. McMaster said Trump was “very clear” in his statement and “called out anyone, anyone who is responsible for fomenting this kind of bigotry, hatred, racism and violence.” And, CIA Director Mike Pompeo said Trump was “specific,” “very clear” and, “frankly, pretty unambiguous” in responding to the violence, adding “when someone marches with a Nazi flag, that's unacceptable, and I think that's what the president said yesterday.” (Washington Post)

  • Pence spoke out more forcefully than Trump on Charlottesville, saying: “We have no tolerance for hate and violence from white supremacists, neo Nazis or the KKK. These dangerous fringe groups have no place in American public life and in the American debate, and we condemn them in the strongest possible terms.” (Washington Post)

  • Even Anthony Scaramucci criticized Trump's unwillingness to single out white supremacy groups. “I wouldn’t have recommended that statement," the former White House communications director said. "I think he needed to be much harsher as it related to the white supremacists and the nature of that." (Washington Post)

3/ Contrasting Trump's reluctance to criticize white supremacists, Jeff Sessions said the “evil attack” in Charlottesville is an act of domestic terrorism. “You can be sure we will charge and advance the investigation toward the most serious charges that can be brought because this is unequivocally an unacceptable evil attack." McMaster added: "Certainly I think we can confidently call it a form of terrorism." (New York Times / NBC News)

4/ An African-American CEO quit Trump's advisory council after Trump failed to condemn white supremacists. Kenneth Frazier, Merck's CEO, is one of just a handful of black CEOs to run a Fortune 500 company. Frazier said: "America's leaders must honor our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy." Within minutes, Trump attacked him on Twitter, saying Frazier's resignation will give him "more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!" (CNN Money / New York Times / The Hill)

5/ Trump finally denounced white supremacists 48 hours after initially blaming the Charlottesville violence on “many sides," which prompted nearly universal criticism. “Racism is evil,” Trump said. “And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.” (New York Times / Politico)

6/ In May, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security warned Trump about the white supremacist movement and that it “likely will continue to pose a threat of lethal violence over the next year.” The report, titled “White Supremacist Extremism Poses Persistent Threat of Lethal Violence,” showed that white supremacist groups had already carried out more attacks than any other domestic extremist group over the past 16 years. (Foreign Policy)

7/ Special Counsel Bob Mueller wants to interview Reince Priebus. Mueller has been talking with the West Wing about interviewing other current and former senior administration officials about specific meetings, who attended them and whether there are any notes, transcripts or documents about them. Mueller also wants to ask the officials about Trump’s decision to fire James Comey. (New York Times)

8/ A junior Trump campaign adviser repeatedly tried to setup a meeting with Putin. Starting in March 2016, George Papadopoulos sent at least a half-dozen emails to Trump campaign leadership to set up “a meeting between us and the Russian leadership to discuss US-Russia ties under President Trump.” He said that his Russian contacts welcomed the opportunity and that he was receiving “a lot of calls over the past month” about arranging a meeting. “Putin wants to host the Trump team when the time is right,” he wrote. Intelligence officials said the messages may have represented a Russian campaign to use lower-level aides to penetrate the 2016 campaign and see if the Trump campaign would be willing to cooperate. (Washington Post)

9/ North Korea’s successful ICBM tests have been linked to a Ukrainian factory with ties to Russia’s Cold War missile program. The engine design on North Korea's latest missiles match those that once powered the Soviet Union’s missile fleet and are based on a technology too complex for North Korea to have switched to so quickly themselves, a classified report by American intelligence agencies says. The report suggests that North Korea purchased black market rocket engines that were probably from the Ukrainian factory. (New York Times)

10/ Trump believes Steve Bannon is behind the White House leaks targeting McMaster and has considered firing him. West Wing colleagues say Bannon has instigated leaks to members of the far right, like Mike Cernovich, accusing McMaster of having a drinking problem (Trump is teetotaler) and getting the right-wing Zionist Organization of America to accuse McMaster of being anti-Israel. Rupert Murdoch has repeatedly urged Trump to fire Bannon and Scaramucci has said Trump's "toleration of [white nationalism] by Steve Bannon is inexcusable." McMaster has refused to say he could work with Bannon. (New York Times / Axios / ABC / CNN)

  • Sheldon Adelson comes out in support of H.R. McMaster, disavowing a campaign against McMaster by a group Adelson funds, the Zionist Organization of America. (Axios)

  • A former Trump political adviser warned of consequences for McMaster and Matt Drudge if Steve Bannon is fired. Sam Nunberg said that "if Steve is fired by the White House and a bunch of generals take over the White House there will be hell to pay." Nunberg is mad that the Drudge Report continues to link to negative stories about Bannon, saying “Matt should understand that people like me can blow him the fook up. F-o-o-k, Conor McGregor. Blow him the fook up [sic].” He added that there will be "serious fucking consequences if he continues this jihad against Steve Bannon" and that he would “blow” McMaster “the fook out [sic]," too. (The Daily Caller)

poll/ Trump's job approval rating ticked down to 34% – the lowest of his presidency so far. (Gallup)

Day 204: Locked and loaded, or whatever.

1/ Congressional investigators want to question Trump’s personal secretary as part of their ongoing probe into the meeting between Trump Jr. and the Russian lawyer. Rhona Graff worked at Trump Tower for nearly 30 years. Graff's name was mentioned in the June 2016 email exchange between publicist Rob Goldstone and Trump Jr. leading up to the meeting with Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya at Trump Tower. “Since her name is in the email, people will want her to answer questions,” said Peter King, a member of the House Intelligence Committee. (ABC News)

2/ Paul Manafort is switching attorneys as the federal investigation picks up steam into his financial transactions. Manafort's case will now be handled by Miller and Chevalier, a firm in Washington that specializes in complicated financial crimes among other issues. (Politico)

3/ Trump was surprised by the FBI’s raid on Manafort's home last month, calling the action “pretty tough stuff." Manafort is “a very decent man,” Trump said, adding that “I thought [the raid] was a very, very strong signal, or whatever." (Washington Post)

4/ Trump said he has no plans to fire Robert Mueller, despite people close to him telling reporters the opposite. "I haven't given it any thought," Trump said. "I've been reading about it from you people. You say, 'Oh, I'm going to dismiss him.' No, I'm not dismissing anybody." (CNN)

5/ Trump to North Korea via Twitter: Our military is "locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely." It was the third warning of military action against North Korea issued by Trump this week. (New York Times)

  • China warns North Korea: You’re on your own if you go after the US. (Washington Post)

6/ Despite the rhetoric, the Trump administration has been engaged in back channel diplomacy with North Korea for several months. Officials call it the “New York channel," which has been used on-and-off for years by past administrations. Shortly after the inauguration, the Trump administration reinitiated talks, which had gone silent over the last seven months of Obama’s presidency after Pyongyang broke them off in anger over US sanctions imposed on Kim Jong Un. (Associated Press)

7/ The Freedom Caucus is trying to force a vote on an outright repeal of Obamacare – a mirror of the 2015 repeal proposal that Obama vetoed. They're seeking a “discharge petition,” which would enable them to bypass House leaders to put the bill up for a vote. To do so, they'll need signatures from at least half the House – 218 members – to bring the bill to the floor, which is unlikely to succeed. (Politico)

poll/ 52% of Americans have a favorable view of Obamacare – the highest ever. 39% have an unfavorable view of the ACA. 60% of Americans say it's a “good thing” the Senate didn't pass the repeal and replace bill. (Kaiser Health Tracking)

poll/ 82% of Americans fear nuclear war with North Korea. 54% of Democrats and Republicans felt that war between the US and North Korea is somewhat close. (Axios)

Day 203: Follow the money.

1/ Federal investigators have sought the cooperation of Paul Manafort’s son-in-law in an effort to gain leverage over Trump’s former campaign chairman and turn him into a cooperating witness. Jeffrey Yohai, who hasn't been accused of wrongdoing, is a business partner of Manafort's. It's unclear if investigators have secured Yohai's cooperation. Manafort is a focus in the investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign. He and Yohai are also under investigation for some of their business and real estate transactions. (Politico)

2/ Special counsel Robert Mueller subpoenaed Manafort's bank records. The subpoenas were sent in recent weeks from a Washington grand jury to global banks for account information and transaction records involving Manafort and some of his companies. It's unclear when it happened, but Manafort is responsible for alerting authorities to the meeting involving Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer who promised damaging information on Hillary Clinton. (Bloomberg)

3/ Trump's lawyer called the FBI raid on Manafort's home a “gross abuse of the judicial process” for the sake of “shock value." John Dowd also questioned the validity of the search warrant, calling it an “extraordinary invasion of privacy.” (Fox News)

4/ Trump doubled down on his threats to unleash "fire and fury" on North Korea, suggesting that "maybe it wasn’t tough enough." Trump escalated his rhetoric, saying “things will happen to them like they never thought possible” should North Korea attack the US or its allies. He added that he's "backed by 100 percent by our military, we’re backed by everybody and we’re backed by many other leaders." (USA Today / ABC News / Washington Post)

5/ The White House has failed to coordinate with a coalition of Latino organizations to develop Affordable Care Act outreach campaigns ahead of the open enrollment period, which begins on November 1st. Since 2013, the Department of Health and Human Services and the White House have helped develop education campaigns aimed at helping millions of Latinos sign up for health insurance. Trump has repeatedly announced his intention to “let Obamacare implode." (Talking Points Memo)

6/ A nonpartisan study found that Trump's own actions have triggered health care premium increases. Trump's mixed signals have created uncertainty “far outside the norm,” which is leading to double-digit premium increases on individual health insurance policies purchased by many consumers. 15 of the 20 major metropolitan areas will see increases of 10% or more next year. (Associated Press)

7/ Key posts across the executive branch are still empty, because the Trump administration has yet to nominate anyone – including several pivotal to relations with North Korea. (CNN)

8/ Trump tweeted that Mitch McConnell should "get back to work" and "put Repeal and Replace, Tax Reform and Cuts and a great Infrastructure Bill on my desk for signing. You can do it!" It's Trump's third tweet in two days calling out the Senate majority leader. Later in the day, Trump suggested that if McConnell doesn't get health care reform, taxes, and an infrastructure bill passed, he should step down as majority leader. (CNN / ABC News / Axios)

9/ Scott Pruitt cast doubt on the idea that climate change poses a threat to the US, despite a recent report concluding that Americans are already feeling the effects of climate change. The EPA chief called for “red team/blue team” to try and challenge what he says is “so-called settled science” on climate change. Pruitt is skeptical of the scientific consensus that human activity is far and away the primary cause of climate change. NOAA and the American Meteorological Society published their annual "State of the Climate" report today, which concludes that 2016 was the third consecutive warmest year on record in 137 years of record keeping, with the highest levels of greenhouse gas concentrations, sea level, and sea surface temperature. (The Hill)

poll/ 70% of Americans believe Trump's finances are fair game in the federal investigation into Russia's efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election. (CNN)

poll/ Nearly half of Republicans say they would support postponing the 2020 presidential election if Trump proposed it in order to fix what they believe to be large-scale voter fraud. Claims that 3 to 5 million “illegals” voted in the election are not true, but that hasn't stopped a substantial number of Republicans from believing the rumors. (Washington Post)

Day 202: An absurd red line.

1/ The Pentagon has prepared a plan for a preemptive strike on North Korea's missile sites should Trump order an attack. The plan calls for B-1B heavy bombers originating from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam to attack approximately two-dozen North Korean missile-launch sites, testing grounds, and support facilities. The B-1 bomber plan is one of several options under consideration. (NBC News)

2/ James Mattis warned North Korea that its actions will cause the "end of its regime" and the "destruction of its people." Despite the defense secretary's stern ultimatum, Mattis has consistently said that he prefers to resolve issues over North Korea's missile and nuclear programs through diplomacy. (ABC News / CNN)

3/ Trump turned to Twitter this morning to continue his attacks on North Korea and assert that the US nuclear arsenal is “far stronger and more powerful than ever before. Hopefully we will never have to use this power, but there will never be a time that we are not the most powerful nation in the world!” (Washington Post)

4/ North Korea’s military dismissed Trump’s warning as a “load of nonsense," warning that "only absolute force can work on [Trump].” A North Korean general said they'll have a plan by mid-August to fire four mid-range missiles into the waters 18 to 25 miles from Guam. He called it a “historic enveloping fire at Guam.” (Associated Press)

5/ Rex Tillerson urged Americans to remain calm despite Trump and North Korea's continued exchange of threats. He said Americans should have “no concerns," adding that “Americans should sleep well at night,” because "nothing that I have seen and nothing that I know of would indicate that the situation has dramatically changed in the last 24 hours.” (Associated Press)

6/ Lawmakers in both parties criticized Trump's warning to North Korea that it would "face fire and fury like the world has never seen" if Pyongyang keeps threatening the US. Democrats called Trump's a reaction overly "bombastic" and "unhinged," with the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee saying that Trump has undermined US credibility "by drawing an absurd red line." John McCain said, "The great leaders I've seen don't threaten unless they're ready to act and I'm not sure President Trump is ready to act." (CNN)

7/ Trump's ominous warning to Pyongyang yesterday was entirely improvised. In discussions with advisers beforehand, Trump had not run the language by them, which has now escalated the confrontation with North Korea to a new level. (New York Times)

8/ One of Trump’s evangelical advisers says "God has given Trump authority to take out Kim Jong Un.” Robert Jeffress, a pastor at a Texas megachurch, released a statement saying that "When it comes to how we should deal with evil doers, the Bible, in the book of Romans, is very clear: God has endowed rulers full power to use whatever means necessary — including war — to stop evil.” (Dallas News / Washington Post)

9/ Trump pushed back on Mitch McConnell's "excessive expectations" line about the legislative progress and his agenda, tweeting that "After 7 years of hearing Repeal and Replace, why not done?" in reference to Republicans' promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The White House director of social media, Dan Scavino, added his own take: "More excuses. @SenateMajLdr must have needed another 4 years - in addition to the 7 years – to repeal and replace Obamacare." (Vox / CNN)

10/ FBI agents raided the Virginia home of Paul Manafort last month, using a search warrant to seize tax documents and foreign banking records. The predawn raid at the home of Trump's former campaign chairman came on July 26, one day after he voluntarily met with the Senate Intelligence Committee. In that meeting, Manafort provided investigators with notes from the 2016 meeting with the Russian lawyer claiming to have damaging information on Hillary Clinton. Hours after the raid, Trump attacked Jeff Sessions for not firing Andrew McCabe, the acting FBI director. (Washington Post / New York Times)

11/ The Trump campaign has started to turn over thousands of documents to the Senate Judiciary Committee as part of the panel’s investigation into Russian election meddling. The Trump campaign has turned over 20,000 pages of documents, while Manafort has provided about 400 pages, and Trump Jr. about 250 pages. (Bloomberg)

12/ An unarmed Russian Air Force jet flew over the Pentagon, Capitol, and CIA as part of a longstanding treaty that allows the militaries of the United States and Russia to observe the other from the air. The flight is the 10th this year, which requires that the Russians give at least 72 hours notice and that the mission has American personnel on board as observers. (Politico / CNN)

poll/ 81% of self-identified Trump voters approve of the job he's doing. However, just 18% of all registered voters "strongly approve" of his job performance. 64% of voters say the country is going in the wrong direction. (Politico)

Day 201: Extreme weather.

1/ Scientists fear the Trump administration could suppress a report that concludes climate change is real and Americans are already feeling its effects. The findings contradict Trump and members of his cabinet who claim that the human contribution to climate change is uncertain. The report finds it “extremely likely” that more than half of the global mean temperature increase since 1951 can be linked to humans. (New York Times)

  • Notes:

  • The EPA is one of 13 agencies that must approve the report by August 18th, which is headed by Scott Pruitt, who has said he does not believe that carbon dioxide is a primary contributor to global warming.

  • If humans immediately stopped emitting greenhouse gases, the world would still feel at least an additional 0.50 degrees Fahrenheit of warming over this century compared with today.

  • Read the Draft of the Climate Change Report. The draft report by scientists from 13 federal agencies concludes that Americans are feeling the effects of climate change right now. (New York Times)

2/ The USDA is censoring the use of "climate change" and advising staff to use the phrase "weather extremes" instead. A series of emails from February between staff at a USDA unit that oversees farmers’ land conservation shows the incoming Trump administration's impact on language by federal employees around climate change. Instead of “climate change adaption," staff were told to use “resilience to weather extremes.” Instead of “reduce greenhouse gases," use "build soil organic matter, increase nutrient use efficiency." (The Guardian)

  • How Americans think about climate change in six maps. Americans overwhelmingly believe that global warming is happening, and that carbon emissions should be scaled back. But fewer are sure that the changes will harm them personally. (New York Times)

3/ North Korea has successfully produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead that can fit inside its missiles. Pyongyang has outpaced expectations in its effort to build an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of striking cities on the American mainland. (Washington Post)

4/ Trump threatened to unleash "fire and fury" against North Korea if it continues to provoke the US. Trump's comments came hours after North Korea criticized the US and its allies for the latest round of UN sanctions, warning that it will mobilize all its resources to take “physical action” in retaliation. “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States,” Trump told reporters from his golf club in Bedminster, N.J. “They will be met with fire and fury and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before.” (New York Times)

5/ North Korea said it is "carefully examining" a plan to strike Guam with missiles, hours after Trump told the North that any threat to the US would be met with "fire and fury." North Korea also said it could carry out a pre-emptive operation if the US showed signs of provocation. (Reuters)

6/ US spy satellites detect North Korea loading two anti-ship cruise missiles onto a patrol boat. It's the first time these missiles have been deployed on this type of platform since 2014. (Fox News)

7/ Trump retweeted a Fox News story containing classified information a few hours before US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley appeared on Fox. Haley indicated that the report of North Korea loading anti-ship cruise missiles onto a patrol boat were classified and leaked. "I can't talk about anything that's classified and if that's in the newspaper that's a shame," Haley said. (CNN)

8/ Trump has sent private messages of "appreciation and greetings" to special counsel Robert Mueller. “The president has sent messages back and forth,’’ Trump's chief counsel John Dowd said, declining to elaborate further. Trump has publicly called the investigation into Russia's election meddling a "witch hunt" and a hoax. (USA Today)

9/ Trump is considering a plan to privatize the war in Afghanistan. The unprecedented proposal would rely on 5,500 private contractors to advise Afghan combat forces as well as a 90-plane private air force that would provide air support. The plan will cost less than $10 billion a year, lower than the more than $40 billion the Pentagon has budgeted this year. The US military has 8,400 troops in Afghanistan to train and guide local forces. They do not have a direct combat role. (USA Today)

10/ Trump's Justice Department now supports Ohio's purging of inactive voters, reversing the Obama administration's position. Civil rights groups challenged Ohio’s process of removing thousands of inactive voters from the voting rolls, arguing the purge is prohibited under the National Voter Registration Act. Under Obama, the Justice Department filed an amicus brief siding with the groups. The Supreme Court is set to hear the case in the next term. (Washington Post)

11/ Mitch McConnell criticized Trump's "excessive expectations" about how Congress works, saying that he's set "too many artificial deadlines." (CNN)

12/ Twice a day Trump gets a folder full of positive news about himself. Instead of top-secret intelligence or updates on legislative initiatives, he receives folders filled with screenshots of positive cable news chyrons, tweets, and news stories. The document is prepared around 9:30 AM and the follow-up around 4:30 PM. Some in the White House refer to the packet as “the propaganda document.” (Vice News)

poll/ 35% are confident in Trump's ability to handle North Korea and its nuclear weapons. 61% are uneasy in his approach. (CBS News)

poll/ 36% of Americans consider Trump's first 200 days a success while 59% consider it a failure. 47% say they strongly disapprove of Trump's handling of the job and 43% say he can "bring the kind of change the country needs," down from 48% in April. 60% don't consider Trump honest and trustworthy. 52% say his tweets are not an effective way for him to share his views and 70% say they too often seem to be in response to TV news he may have seen. (CNN)

Day 200: A case of the Mondays.

1/ Trump took to Twitter on his first day of vacation to lash out at the “Fake News” media and insist that his political base is only “getting stronger" despite a drop-off in his approval rating and the intensifying Russian investigation. “The Trump base is far bigger and stronger than ever before (despite some phony Fake News polling). Look at rallies in Penn, Iowa, Ohio and West Virginia,” Trump tweeted. “The fact is the Fake News Russian collusion story, record Stock Market, border security, military strength, jobs, Supreme Court pick, economic enthusiasm, deregulation and so much more have driven the Trump base even closer together. Will never change!” He added: “Hard to believe that with 24/7 #Fake News on CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, NYTIMES and WAPO, the Trump base is getting stronger!”

A recent Quinnipiac poll showed that 61% of voters disapprove of Trump's job performance while 33% approve. Trump is at his golf resort in New Jersey for the start of a 17-day vacation. (New York Times / Washington Post)

2/ Robert Mueller asked the White House for documents related to Michael Flynn and whether he was secretly paid by the Turkish government during the presidential campaign. Flynn's consulting business was paid $530,000 to discredit an opponent of the Turkish government. Investigators want to know if the Turkish government was behind those payments. Meanwhile, Mueller is investigating whether Trump committed obstruction of justice by pressing James Comey to end the Flynn inquiry. (New York Times)

3/ Kellyanne Conway refused to say if Trump has ruled out firing Mueller while appearing on ABC’s This Week. “He’s not discussed firing Bob Mueller,” Conway said. "He is not discussing that." Four senators have introduced legislation to protect Mueller. (The Guardian)

4/ Rod Rosenstein said Mueller can investigate any crimes he discovers within the scope of his probe. Trump has said it would be inappropriate for Mueller to dig into his family's finances, dismissing the probe as “a total fabrication.” The Deputy Attorney General added that "the president has not directed us to investigate particular people," in reference to Trump’s recent comment that prosecutors should be investigating Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails. Democrats and some Republicans are concerned that Trump is looking for ways to undermine the investigation. (Washington Post / The Hill)

  • A Republican senator on the Senate Judiciary Committee doesn't agree that the Russia investigation is a "witch hunt." Thom Tillis said “I'm not sure that I agree with the witch hunt, and we'll let the facts lead us to whether or not it was a hoax." (ABC News)

5/ Rosenstein: Prosecutors don't intend to go after reporters. "We're after the leaker, not the journalist," he said. "We're after people who are committing crimes." The comments come two days after Jeff Sessions warned that the "culture of leaking must stop." The Justice Department is reviewing guidelines that make it difficult for prosecutors to subpoena journalists about their sources, calling them "procedural hurdles" that are delaying leak investigations. The number of criminal leak probes has more than tripled during the Trump administration. (NBC News)

6/ Chicago is suing the Trump administration for threatening to withhold public money from so-called sanctuary cities. In July, Jeff Sessions announced that the DOJ will only provide grants to cities that allow the Department of Homeland Security access to local jails and to provide 48 hours’ notice before releasing anyone wanted for immigration violations. Chicago claims that it already complies with the federal law and the new conditions are unconstitutional. (CNN / The Guardian / Associated Press)

7/ Trump called Richard Blumenthal “a phony Vietnam con artist" after the Democratic senator appeared on CNN to discuss the crackdown on leaks, sanctions on North Korea, and what he called "potential collusion" between the Trump campaign and Russia. Blumenthal was criticized during his Senate campaign for saying he had “served” in Vietnam, even though he did his full Marine service in the US. Trump, meanwhile, skirted Vietnam altogether due to bad feet. Blumenthal responded on Twitter that Trump's "bullying" won't be effective. (Washington Post / USA Today / CBS News)

8/ Pence shot down a report that he was positioning himself to run for president in 2020, calling it "disgraceful and offensive." Pence has created his own political fund-raising committee, signaling to major Republican donors that he's the heir apparent if Trump does not seek a second term. “Whatever fake news may come our way, my entire team will continue to focus all our efforts to advance the president’s agenda and see him re-elected in 2020," Pence said in a statement. "Any suggestion otherwise is both laughable and absurd.” (Politico / New York Times)

9/ Peter Thiel dumps Trump. Silicon Valley's most prominent Trump supporter has told friends that there is a 50% chance the Trump presidency “ends in disaster” due to the “incompetent” administration. In June, Thiel said the Trump’s administration is “off to a terrific start.” (BuzzFeed News)

10/ Trump has filled about a fifth of the essential executive branch jobs and lags behind his predecessors in staffing up his administration. There are roughly 4,000 positions across the government and more than 1,200 require Senate confirmation. Trump has nominated 277 people for these key posts. The Senate confirmed more than five dozen outstanding nominees last week – roughly doubling the number of nominees Trump has had confirmed to 124. (CNN)

11/ Stephen Miller is a candidate to lead the White House's communications team. Miller is a senior policy adviser with hardline views on immigration, who recently sparred with reporters in a televised briefing. John Kelly, however, is eyeing his former Homeland Security spokesperson, David Lapan, for the role. (Reuters / CNN)

12/ The United Nations Security Council voted 15-0 to impose new sanctions on North Korea for its continued intercontinental ballistic missile testing. The resolution targets North Korea's primary exports, which will impact its annual export revenue of $3 billion by more than a third. North Korea has vowed a "thousands-fold" retaliation. (CNN)

Day 197: That "totally made-up Russia story."

1/ Robert Mueller's grand jury has issued subpoenas related to Trump Jr.'s 2016 meeting with the Russian lawyer. The subpoenas, issued in recent weeks, seek documents and testimony from people involved in the meeting. Yesterday, it was reported that Mueller had convened a grand jury investigation in Washington to examine allegations of Russian interference in the election. When Mueller took over the investigation in May, he inherited a grand jury in Alexandria, VA, which was impaneled to assist in the Michael Flynn investigation and focus on Flynn’s work in the private sector on behalf of foreign interests. (New York Times / CNN / Reuters)

  • Michael Flynn filed an amended disclosure showing his link to Cambridge Analytica, a controversial data analysis company that aided the Trump campaign. The disclosure shows that just before the end of the campaign, Flynn entered into a consulting agreement with SCL Group, a Virginia-based company related to Cambridge Analytica. (Associated Press)

2/ Trump used a campaign-style rally to attack the Russia investigation, hours after news broke that special counsel Robert Mueller had tapped a grand jury. He referred to the investigation as a "totally made-up Russia story" and a "total fabrication." He insisted that Democrats "can't beat us at the voting booths, so they're trying to cheat you out of the future and the future that you want. They're trying to cheat you out of the leadership you want with a fake story that is demeaning to all of us, and most importantly, demeaning to our country and demeaning to our Constitution." (Politico / CNN)

3/ Kellyanne Conway tried to downplay the ongoing investigation, saying: “Let me remind everyone what the president has said about this. It's a witch-hunt. It's fake. Last night I believe [Trump] called it a fabrication. And we know that the nature of these types of investigations become fishing expeditions, where you’re just throwing jello up against the wall and hoping it will stick.” (Politico)

4/ The FBI monitored social media on Election Day to track a suspected Russian disinformation campaign spreading "fake news" and identify possible disruptions to the vote. For the FBI, monitoring the news put them "right on the edge of Constitutional legality" given the First Amendment's free speech protections. (CNN)

5/ The Senate unanimously blocked Trump from being able to make recess appointments during the August break. The Senate will hold nine "pro-forma" sessions — brief meetings that normally last roughly a minute – and will not hold any legislative sessions until lawmakers return to Washington after Labor Day. (Axios / The Hill)

  • The Senate breaks for summer recess. There will be no more roll-call votes in the Senate until September 5th. (Washington Post)

6/ The Secret Service has vacated Trump Tower after a dispute between the government and Trump’s company over the terms of its lease. In March, the Secret Service requested $26.8 million to protect Trump Tower. Separately, the government is paying $130,000 a month to lease space in Trump Tower for a military office that supports the White House. Trump has not visited Trump Tower since he was inaugurated. (Washington Post)

7/ Jeff Sessions issued a warning that the "culture of leaking must stop" a day after transcripts leaked of Trump's January phone calls with Mexico and Australia. Sessions vowed to bring criminal charges against people who had leaked classified information, while announcing that the FBI had created a new counterintelligence unit to manage these cases. The Justice Department is pursuing three times as many leak investigations as the Obama administration. Sessions wants to pursue "effective" subpoenas on media outlets, because "simply put, these leaks hurt our country." Kellyanne Conway suggested using lie detectors to figure who's leaking information. "It's easier to figure out who's leaking than the leakers may realize," she said. (CBS News / ABC News / New York Times)

  • Diplomats laughing at Trump over leaked Mexico transcript, saying “he’s the opposite of Teddy Roosevelt. He speaks loudly and carries a small stick.” (McClatchy DC)

8/ John Kelly has brought rigor to the White House, attempting to give Trump bureaucratic competence while forcing staff members to stay in their lanes. He's attempting to broker peace between the different factions in the West Wing, telling employees that he was hired to manage the staff, not the president. Kelly encouraged National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster to make any staffing changes necessary, which resulted in the firing of a top intelligence aide Ezra Cohen-Watnick, who was hired by Michael Flynn, after months of trying. Kelly has also assured Jeff Sessions that his job is safe. (New York Times / Politico / Wall Street Journal)

9/ The Trump administration will notify the United Nations today that the US intends to withdraw from the Paris climate change agreement, despite planning to participate in UN climate negotiations later this year. Under the terms of the Paris deal, the US can’t fully withdraw until one day after the next presidential election. (New York Times / Politico)

10/ A Republican donor is suing the GOP for fraud over the failed Obamacare repeal. The lawsuit alleges that the GOP raised millions of dollars in campaign funds knowing they weren't going to be able to overturn the ACA, representing "a pattern of Racketeering which involves massive fraud perpetrated on Republican voters and contributors as well as some Independents and Democrats." (The Virginia-Pilot / Axios)

poll/ 44% of Americans in battleground districts would strongly oppose Trump firing special counsel Mueller. (USA Today)

poll/ Most voters want Democrats to take control of Congress in 2018. 52% want Democrats to take the House, while 53% are in favor of Democrats taking the Senate. There are 10 Senate Democrats in red states up for re-election in 2018 and one blue-state Senate Republican. (Quinnipiac)

Day 196: Grand jury.

1/ Special Counsel Robert Mueller has launched a grand jury to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections and whether Trump or any of his team colluded during the campaign. A grand jury will allow prosecutors to subpoena documents, put witnesses under oath and seek indictments, if there is evidence of a crime. The decision to impanel a grand jury suggests he believes he will need to subpoena records and take testimony from witnesses. Trump has denied any collusion with Russia, calling the investigation a "witch hunt." (Wall Street Journal / CNN)

2/ Mueller has turned his attention to Trump and his associates’ financial ties to Russia. Federal investigators have widened their focus on possible financial crimes, which could offer a more concrete path toward potential prosecution than the broader questions of collusion in the 2016 campaign. Trump previously warned Mueller that his financial dealings were a red line that he shouldn't cross, despite Mueller being authorized to investigate matters that "arose or may arise directly from the investigation." (CNN)

3/ Top FBI officials could be asked to testify against Trump. Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe told the highest-ranking members of the bureau that they should consider themselves possible witnesses in any investigation into whether Trump obstructed justice. McCabe acknowledged that he's also a potential witness in the probe, as well as the investigation into whether Team Trump colluded with the Russians. (Vox)

4/ The Senate Judiciary Committee is introducing a bipartisan bill to protect Robert Mueller and ensure the integrity of independent investigations. The bill would allow any special counsel for the Department of Justice to challenge their removal in court, with a review by a three-judge panel within 14 days of the challenge. Lindsey Graham said that he was working on a similar bill that would prevent the firing of a special counsel without judicial review. (CBS News)

5/ Congressional investigators want the phone records related to Trump Jr.'s meeting with the Russian lawyer. They want "all relevant documents" connected to the people before, during, and after the meeting, including Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort. It's unclear if it's the Senate Intelligence Committee or the House Intelligence Committee seeking the records. Senator James Risch, who serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said, "I guarantee you there were phone calls in addition to those emails, and I want to hear all of it before I answer the question you put to me." (CBS News)

6/ Trump blamed Congress for the poor US relations with Russia, a day after he imposed new sanctions, which he called flawed and unconstitutional. Trump described America’s relationship with Russia on Twitter as “an all-time and very dangerous low." John McCain shot back that "our relationship w/ Russia is at dangerous low. You can thank Putin for attacking our democracy, invading neighbors & threatening our allies." (New York Times / The Hill)

7/ Trump urged the Mexican president to stop publicly saying that he would never pay for the border wall, during their January 27 call. “You cannot say that to the press,” Trump repeatedly told Enrique Peña Nieto. “If you are going to say that Mexico is not going to pay for the wall, then I do not want to meet with you guys anymore because I cannot live with that."

The next day, Trump called Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, which was even more contentious and the conversation immediately devolved over a US agreement to accept refugees from Australian detention centers. “I hate taking these people,” Trump said. “I guarantee you they are bad. That is why they are in prison right now. They are not going to be wonderful people who go on to work for the local milk people” (Washington Post)

  • Transcripts of Trump’s calls with Mexico and Australia. (Washington Post)

8/ Trump criticized his military advisers because "we aren't winning, we are losing" the Afghanistan war. Trump directed his frustration at Defense Secretary James Mattis, saying Trump had given the military authority months ago to make advances in Afghanistan and yet the US was continuing to lose ground. (NBC News)

9/ The White House conceded that the Boy Scouts never called to say his was the best speech ever. Trump told the Wall Street Journal last week that “I got a call from the head of the Boy Scouts saying it was the greatest speech that was ever made to them, and they were very thankful.” The Boy Scouts of America, however, said it was not aware of any call from its leadership to Trump. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, however, said that "multiple members of the Boy Scouts leadership” had praised Trump’s speech, but the conversations "simply didn’t take place over a phone call, they happened in person.” (New York Times)

10/ Stephen Miller told CNN's Jim Acosta that his question "is one of the most outrageous, insulting, ignorant and foolish things you’ve ever said." The White House senior policy adviser was responding to a question about Trump's endorsement of a Senate bill that seeks to cut legal immigration to the US in half. He accused Acosta of "cosmopolitan bias" before apologizing "if things got heated." (Politico / Washington Post)

11/ Federal prosecutors subpoenaed Kushner Cos. for its use of an investment-for-immigration program. The company drew attention in May for a marketing campaign that solicited Chinese investors to put up $500,000 for green card eligibility, known as the EB-5 program. The campaign mentioned Jared Kushner and used a video clip and photo of Trump in its pitch. (Wall Street Journal)

Day 195: Seriously flawed.

1/ Trump signed the bill to impose sanctions on Russia and limit his authority to lift them. He expressed concerns that the measure included “a number of clearly unconstitutional provisions,” leaving room for interpretation of how the law is enforced. Trump said he believed the bill to be "seriously flawed," but signed it anyway. The bill also imposes sanctions on Iran and North Korea. (New York Times / CNN / Bloomberg)

2/ Trump endorsed a Senate bill aimed at slashing immigration levels over a decade and shift the system's emphasis away from family ties and toward skills. GOP Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue introduced a modified version of their bill, which would cut immigration by half, tighten rules for temporary workers, restrict family-based visas, and cap the refugee program at 50,000 per year. More than 1 million green cards are currently granted per year. The bill faces long odds, as Republicans will have difficulty getting the 60 votes needed to prevent a filibuster.

“This competitive application process will favor applicants who can speak English, financially support themselves and their families and demonstrate skills that will contribute to our economy,” Trump said. "This legislation demonstrates our compassion for struggling American families who deserve an immigration system that puts their needs first and that puts America first.” (Washington Post / CNN / Politico / New York Times)

3/ The Trump Justice Department will sue universities that it deems to have discriminated against white students through their affirmative action admissions policies. The new civil rights division doesn't explicitly identify who is at risk of discrimination, but says it'll investigate “intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions" that give an edge to disadvantaged groups over applicants with comparable or higher test scores. The project follows recent conservative Justice Department policy changes on voting rights, gay rights, and police reform. (New York Times)

4/ Trump's nominee for Agriculture once accused progressives of "enslaving" minorities, called black leaders "race traders," and labeled Obama a "Maoist" with "communist" roots. Sam Clovis wrote the blog posts in between 2011 and 2012. He's since deleted the blog and is serving as the senior White House adviser to the USDA. Clovis' nomination for the chief scientist job at the Department of Agriculture requires Senate confirmation. (CNN)

5/ The House Judiciary Committee has prioritized investigating Hillary Clinton over Russian meddling, Trump’s decision to fire James Comey, and the public attacks on Jeff Sessions. The panel asked Jeff Sessions to appoint a second special counsel to investigate the “troubling, unanswered questions” about Clinton and officials appointed by Obama, after Democrats tried to force a resolution demanding more information on Sessions’s role in Comey’s firing. The House Judiciary Committee would have jurisdiction over any impeachment proceeding. (Bloomberg)

6/ The lawyer in the Fox "fake news" suit wants Trump and Spicer to testify. Rod Wheeler’s lawsuit claims that Fox fabricated quotes implicating DNC staffer Seth Rich in the WikiLeaks scandal. “We’re going to litigate this case as we would any other,” and that means “we’ll want to depose anyone who has information,” including the president, Wheeler's attorney. (Yahoo News)

7/ Rex Tillerson tells North Korea: "We are not your enemy." He added that the US does "not seek a regime change, we do not seek a collapse of the regime, we do not seek an accelerated reunification of the peninsula, we do not seek an excuse to send our military north of the 38th Parallel." Yesterday, Lindsey Graham said "there is a military option to destroy North Korea's (missile) program and North Korea itself… (Trump) told me that to my face." (Washington Post / BBC)

8/ Tillerson won't spend nearly $80 million allocated for fighting terrorist propaganda and Russian disinformation, despite pleas from State Department officials. $60 million will expire on September 30th if it's not transferred to the State Department by then. The money is potentially unwelcome because attempts to counter Russian influence would anger Moscow. (Politico)

9/ Senate Republicans are planning to pass their tax plan with just GOP votes. Mitch McConnell will use budget reconciliation in order to sideline Democrats and protect Republicans from a filibuster. McConnell needs just 50 votes to pass his tax reform bill. (Politico)

10/ Trump is considering Rick Perry for Homeland Security secretary. The Energy Secretary would replace John Kelly, who is now Trump's chief of staff. Perry's views on immigration don't align with Trump’s. During Perry's 2012 presidential campaign, he accused his Republican opponents of not having a “heart” about letting undocumented children of immigrants pay in-state tuition for college. (Bloomberg)

11/ Trump: "That White House is a real dump," he told members at his Bedminster golf club. He then teed off. (Golf)

12/ Before running for president, Trump threatened to sue "Sharknado 3: Hell No!" for not casting him as president. While Trump wanted to do the film, he was also considering a run for president at the time. After weeks of silence from the Trump camp, producers pulled the part, prompting Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen to threaten action: “He basically said, ‘How dare you? Donald wanted to do this. We’re going to sue you! We're going to shut the entire show down!’” (Hollywood Reporter)

poll/ 56.3% disapprove of Trump's job performance. 38.9% approve. (RealClearPolitics)

poll/ 56.9% disapprove of Trump's job performance. 37.6% approve. (FiveThirtyEight)

poll/ 58.6% disapprove of Trump's job performance. 38.7% approve. (HuffPost)

poll/ 60% disapprove of Trump's job performance. 36% approve. (Gallup)

poll/ 61% disapprove of Trump's job performance. 33% approve. 71% say Trump is not levelheaded. (Quinnipiac)

Day 194: Dictated.

1/ Trump personally dictated Trump Jr.'s statement about his meeting with the Russian lawyer, saying they had “primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children” when they met in June 2016. Trump Jr. ultimately acknowledged that he met with the Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer after receiving an email promising damaging information about Hillary Clinton. Trump's advisers fear his direct involvement leaves him needlessly vulnerable to potential obstruction of justice and could place members of his inner circle in legal jeopardy. (Washington Post)

2/ The White House said Trump only "weighed in" on Trump Jr.'s statement about the Russia meeting. Sarah Huckabee Sanders said "The statement that Don Jr. issued is true, there's no inaccuracy in the statement. The President weighed in as any father would, based on the limited information that he had." The White House response contradicts what Trump's lawyer, Jay Sekulow, said in July: "The president did not draft the response…I can't say whether the president was told the statement was going to be coming." (CNN / Axios)

3/ George W. Bush's ethics lawyer says Trump “very likely" obstructed justice by drafting a “knowingly false” statement for Trump Jr. “You’re boxing in a witness into a false story,” Richard Painter said. “That puts them under enormous pressure to turn around and lie under oath to be consistent with their story. I think it’s obstruction of justice.” (The Guardian)

4/ Senate Republicans intend to move on from health care, despite Trump's continued pressure to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Republicans have signaled that they were looking for other victories, as the 50 votes needed to roll back Obamacare appears unlikely. (Washington Post)

  • Ryan Zinke said it's “laughable” to suggest he threatened Alaska’s senators over the health care vote. Zinke had threatened retribution against Alaska over Lisa Murkowski's no vote on health care. (Associated Press)

5/ A GOP House member called on special counsel Robert Mueller to resign, saying he has a “conflict of interest” since Comey was the deputy attorney general in 2003 when Mueller served as the FBI director. Trent Franks is attempting to cast Mueller and Comey as “longtime allies" who is "in clear violation of the law." (The Hill / Washington Post)

  • A former Justice Department official joins Mueller's team. Greg Andres is a white-collar criminal defense lawyer who served at the Justice Department from 2010 to 2012. He was deputy assistant attorney general in the criminal division, where he oversaw the fraud unit and managed the program that targeted illegal foreign bribery. (Reuters)

6/ The Senate confirmed Christopher Wray as the new FBI director, filling the post that has remained vacant since Trump fired James Comey in May. The vote was 92 to 5 with five Democrats voting against his nomination. The FBI has been run by Andrew McCabe, the acting FBI director, whom Trump has attacked repeatedly because his wife is a Democrat who ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the Virginia Legislature. (New York Times / Washington Post)

7/ The Senate and House have 12 working days to raise the debt ceiling before the Treasury Department defaults on its obligations. A default would likely set off a major disruption to the world financial system, with a stock market crash and surging interest rates that could send the economy into a recession. Congress has to raise the debt ceiling by September 29th to ensure the government can continue paying all of its bills. (Washington Post)

8/ Multiple White House officials were tricked by an email prankster masquerading as Jared Kushner, Reince Priebus, and Eric Trump. The UK prankster fooled Anthony Scaramucci, Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert, and others into responding. In Bossert's case, he revealed his personal email address. Real Scaramucci responded to Fake Priebus: "You know what you did. We all do. Even today. But rest assured we were prepared. A Man would apologize." (CNN)

9/ Jared Kushner told congressional interns that Trump’s election team was too disorganized to collude with Russia. “They thought we colluded, but we couldn’t even collude with our local offices,” Kushner said, adding: “I’m a lot more comfortable talking to you guys today ’cause there isn’t any press." (Foreign Policy / WIRED)

10/ Fox News and a Trump donor created a fake news story to deflect attention from the administration's ties to Russia, a lawsuit alleges. The story is about the death of Seth Rich, a Democratic National Committee staffer, which first aired in May, but was retracted a week later. The lawsuit, filed by Rod Wheeler, a paid commentator for the news network, claims a Fox News reporter created quotations out of thin air and attributed them to him in order to propel the story. A month before the story ran, Trump donor Ed Butowsky and Wheeler met at the White House with Sean Spicer to brief him on what they were uncovering. At a press gaggle after the story ran, Spicer claimed to have no knowledge of the Rich story. Spicer now confirms meeting with the two. (NPR)

11/ A former Fox News executive who helped Roger Ailes cover up sexual harassment could be joining Trump’s communications team. Bill Shine has been named in lawsuits that accuse him of abetting Ailes’s harassing behavior toward women. The former co-president of Fox News and top lieutenant to Ailes has denied knowing that Ailes had sexually harassed employees. (New York Times)

12/ The military will test launch an ICBM early Wednesday morning. The test launch comes days after North Korea’s second ICBM test and is meant "to validate and verify the effectiveness, readiness, and accuracy of the weapon system." Lindsey Graham, meanwhile, said that military options are "inevitable if North Korea continues." He added that "there is a military option to destroy North Korea's (missile) program and North Korea itself. If there's going to be a war to stop them, it will be over there. If thousands die, they're going to die over there, they're not going to die here and (Trump) told me that to my face." (NBC News / CNN)

  • The US military has detected "highly unusual and unprecedented levels" of North Korean submarine activity and evidence of an "ejection test" in the days following Pyongyang's second intercontinental ballistic missile launch this month. (CNN)

poll/ 60% of voters believe the White House is in chaos, compared with 33% who say it is running well. 29% believe Trump's staff serves him well, compared with 39% who say his staff doesn't serve him well. (Politico)

Day 193: Total quitters.

1/ Trump fired Anthony Scaramucci as White House communications director 10 days after he was brought in. Scaramucci's verbal tirade led to the departures of Sean Spicer and Reince Priebus. The change came at the request of new chief of staff John Kelly, who "has the full authority to operate within the White House, and all staff will report to him," including Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, and Steve Bannon. Meanwhile, Scaramucci does not have an administration role "at this time," Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. (New York Times / Politico / CNN)

2/ Trump swears in his new chief of staff, saying he has “no doubt” that John Kelly will do a “spectacular job” in his new role. Kelly is a retired four-star Marine general and will take over for Reince Priebus. (Washington Post / CNN)

3/ Kelly called James Comey after Trump fired him to say he was considering resigning from the Department of Homeland Security. Comey told Kelly not to resign. (CNN)

4/ Trump tweeted that Republican Senators look "like fools" and will be "total quitters" if they fail to revive their effort to rollback Obamacare. He threatened to cut lawmakers’ own health insurance plans. Republicans, meanwhile, may have to choose between attempting to repeal Obamacare or tackling tax reform, because they don't have time to do both. The Senate and House must also pass a spending plan with Democrat cooperation in order to keep the government open past the end of the fiscal year on September 30th. Congress must also raise the debt limit in September or risk defaulting on its debt obligations. (New York Times / Bloomberg)

  • The senate is too divided to keep up health care push, Orrin Hatch said. (Reuters)

5/ Trump threatened to end Obamacare payments unless a repeal-and-replace bill is passed. "After seven years of 'talking' Repeal & Replace, the people of our great country are still being forced to live with imploding ObamaCare!" Trump tweeted. "If a new HealthCare Bill is not approved quickly, BAILOUTS for Insurance Companies and BAILOUTS for Members of Congress will end very soon!" Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer responded, saying Trump should "stop playing politics with people's lives and health care, start leading, and finally begin acting presidential." (The Hill)

  • Kellyanne Conway said Trump would make a decision "this week" on whether to make Obamacare payments. Trump tweeted a warning on Saturday that if Congress didn't pass a bill to overhaul the Affordable Care Act soon, he would end the "bailouts" for insurance companies as well as for members of Congress. (CNN)

  • Susan Collins said Trump’s threats to cut off funding for key Obamacare payments won’t change her vote on the GOP’s plan to repeal it. “It would not affect my vote on healthcare, but it’s an example of why we need to act: to make sure that those payments, which are not an insurance company bailout, but rather help people who are very low-income afford their out-of-pocket costs toward their deductibles and their co-pays,” Collins said. “It really would be detrimental to some of the most vulnerable citizens if those payments were cut off.” (The Hill)

  • Health and Human Services secretary Tom Price suggested that he might expand waivers from the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate — a step that health insurers have warned against because it could drive up premiums. (Axios)

  • The official White House policy doesn't want the Senate to vote on another issue unless it's on health care. White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said “You can't promise folks you're going to do something for seven years, and then not do it.” (Politico)

6/ A bipartisan group of House members will unveil their plan to fix Obamacare. The plan will focus on stabilizing the insurance market by funding the cost-sharing subsidies and then pushing for Obamacare changes that have received bipartisan backing in the past. (Politico)

7/ After a contentious week in Washington, one GOP senator says Republicans are complicit if they don't call out Trump. Jeff Flake added that the Republican Party has "lost its way," and is urging members to turn back to what he calls traditional conservatism. "The last thing you want to do is wake up every morning and see a tweet… You know, it's tough not to just say, 'I'm not going to respond,'" Flake said. "And we can't respond to everything. But there are times when you have to stand up and say, 'I'm sorry. This is wrong.'" (CBS News)

8/ Trump plans to sign the Russian sanctions bill, which places sanctions on Russia, North Korea, and Iran. It also limits Trump's ability to lift sanctions unilaterally. It was passed by veto-proof margins in the Senate (98-2) and House (419-3). (NBC News)

  • Pence reassured NATO’s Baltic member states that the US stands behind its mutual-defense commitment and will "hold Russia accountable for its actions." (Politico)

9/ Russia slashed 60% of US embassy and consular staff in response to new American sanctions. The US will need to cut 755 of its roughly 1,200 diplomatic staff in Russia, meant to cause discomfort for Washington and its representatives in Moscow. (New York Times / Reuters)

10/ Democrats have moved to revoke Jared Kushner’s security clearance, introducing the Security Clearance Review Act, which gives the FBI Director the authority to revoke the security clearance of executive branch employees whose actions may pose a threat to national security. At least 20 Democrats have cosigned on the bill. (Salon)

11/ Trump appeared to advocate for rougher treatment of people in police custody. “Don’t be too nice,” Trump told law enforcement officers in Suffolk County, New York. He spoke dismissively of the practice by which arresting officers shield the heads of handcuffed suspects as they are placed in police cars. “I said, ‘You could take the hand away, OK,’” Trump said. (Associated Press)

12/ The Trump administration urged China to confront North Korea over its nuclear ambitions. At the United Nations, US Ambassador Nikki Haley said “the time for talk is over” and that a Security Council resolution that doesn’t “significantly increase the international pressure” on North Korea would be “worse than nothing.” Meanwhile, Trump told reporters that the US will "handle North Korea. We’ll be able to handle North Korea. It will be handled. We handle everything." (Wall Street Journal / The Hill / CNN)

13/ Trump's voter fraud commission is divided on whether there was widespread fraud at the ballot box. Trump's appointees say yes, while others on the commission argue there wasn't fraud and would rather focus on upgrading the voting systems and encouraging registration. (NBC News)

  • At a cybersecurity conference, hackers were able to breach 30 different machines in "only a few minutes." The DEF CON conference hosted a "Voting Machine Village," where attendees could try to hack a number of systems to help catch vulnerabilities and raise awareness about election machine security issues. The conferences hopes that the attendees will pressure states to do more to protect those systems. (The Hill)

14/ The Republican National Committee told staff to preserve all documents related to the 2016 campaign. RNC lawyers described it as precautionary, but necessary, as investigations continue into Russia’s meddling in the election. The memo orders employees not to “delete, destroy, modify, or remove from your paper files, laptop computer, desktop computer, tablet, mobile device, e-mail, or any storage system or device, any documents, records, or other materials that relate to the 2016 presidential election or that may relate to any investigation concerning the election.” (BuzzFeed News)

poll/ 64% of Americans want Congress to move on from health care reform by either keeping Obamacare "entirely as is" or fixing "problem areas." That's up from 54% in January. (Reuters)

poll/ 47% of Americans prefer the Republicans work with Democrats to improve Obamacare. 21% would rather Republicans try to repeal it outright. 19% want Republicans to replace it with something else. (CBS News)

poll/ 39% of likely US Voters approve of Trump’s job performance, while 61% disapprove. 26% "strongly approve" of the way Trump is performing and 49% "strongly disapprove." (Rasmussen Reports)

Day 190: Backfired.

1/ Trump's hardball tactics backfired as the Senate rejected its slimmed-down Obamacare repeal with Collins, Murkowski, McCain all voting no. The bill would have left 16 million more people uninsured by 2026 than Obamacare. Earlier in the week, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski voted against the motion to proceed, causing Trump to attack Murkowski on Twitter, saying she "really let the Republicans, and our country, down." Then, before yesterday's vote, Trump had Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke call Murkowski and Alaska's other Republican senator, threatening that the administration may change its position on issues that affect the state in order to punish Murkowski. She didn't budge. Shortly after the vote failed 49-to-51, Trump took to Twitter: "3 Republicans and 48 Democrats let the American people down. As I said from the beginning, let ObamaCare implode, then deal. Watch!" (Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg)

  • The night John McCain killed the GOP’s health care fight. A seven-year quest to undo the Affordable Care Act collapsed — at least for now — as John McCain kept his colleagues and the press corps in suspense over a little more than two hours late Thursday into early Friday. (Washington Post)

  • How McCain tanked Obamacare repeal. The maverick senator delivers a stunning rebuke to President Donald Trump and his own party leadership. (Politico)

  • How GOP rebels took down the Senate's plot to kill Obamacare. John McCain joined Republicans Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski to obliterate President Trump’s health-care pledge. (The Daily Beast)

  • GOP Obamacare repeal bill fails in dramatic late-night vote. The Senate has dealt a devastating setback to Republican efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare, defeating a GOP "skinny repeal" bill early Friday morning. (CNN)

  • Why Senate Republicans couldn’t repeal Obamacare. The result is, for now, a crushing blow to seven years of promises to uproot the health care law. (Vox)

2/ A bipartisan group of roughly 40 House members have been exploring ways to stabilize Obamacare over the past month. Efforts are expected to take on greater urgency after the collapse of the Senate’s Obamacare bill. Trump has threatened to cut off Obamacare cost-sharing subsidies as soon as next month, which could leave about 25,000 people in 38 states at risk of having no insurers willing to offer coverage next year. (Politico)

  • Obama urged Congress to exercise the "political courage" to improve healthcare while praising everyone who "made their voices heard" against the GOP health care bill, an Obama spokesperson said. (The Hill / Vox)

3/ Reince Priebus resigned. The move comes after a week in which Priebus endured a non-stop attack by incoming White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci. John Kelly, a retired Marine four-star general currently serving as secretary of homeland security who oversaw the implementation of Trump’s travel ban, will take over as the new White House chief of staff. Trump's advisers pushed back on the Kelly appointment, saying Trump needs someone more in tune with the nationalist political agenda that helped propel him to the White House. Trump announced the news, naturally, on Twitter, saying Priebus was a "good man" but called Kelly a "star." Priebus is the last of the RNC staffers to exit the West Wing. Months ago, Priebus' deputy, Katie Walsh left after being accused of leaking documents, followed by Sean Spicer. (New York Times / NPR / NBC News / CNN / Wall Street Journal)

  • Anthony Scaramucci’s wife filed for divorce due to his “naked political ambition." Deidre Ball apparently despises Trump. (Page Six)

  • Why Anthony Scaramucci hates Reince Priebus. After Trump’s victory, Priebus was named chief of staff, and Scaramucci was assured that he was in line for a big position within the administration. Priebus told Trump that he felt Scaramucci had been offered too much for his stake in SkyBridge by HNA Group, a Chinese group that might expect favors from within the administration for the inflated price. (HuffPost)

4/ Russia retaliated against Congress' new sanctions bill, ordering the US to cut “hundreds” of personnel at its embassy and consulates in Russia. The Senate and House passed a bill that strengthens existing sanctions on Russia and gives Congress the power to block Trump from lifting them. (Bloomberg / New York Times / Associated Press)

  • Senate slapped new sanctions on Russia, putting Trump in corner. The bill, which includes a provision that allows Congress to stop any effort by Trump to ease existing sanctions on Russia, will now be sent to the White House for Trump to sign into law or veto. (Reuters)

5/ North Korea fired another ballistic missile. The missile launched Friday flew for about 45 minutes and landed off the Japanese coast in waters between Japan and the Korean Peninsula. Experts estimate that the intercontinental ballistic missile had the reach to hit practically all of the major cities on the US mainland. (Associated Press / ABC News / New York Times / Politico)

6/ The House has passed a $788 billion spending bill to boost military spending and $1.6 billion for Trump’s border wall. The bill would increase the Department of Defense budget by $68.1 billion. (Associated Press / Reuters)

7/ The Trump Organization requires all employees at all levels to sign a confidentiality agreement, or else they will lose their jobs. The agreement rolled out after the election, which recently leaked, shows that employees must keep secret any information they learn about anyone in the "Trump family" and extended family, including their "present, former and future spouses, children, parents, in-laws." The agreement lasts forever and is retroactive. (CBS News)

poll/ 58% of adults believe that transgender individuals should be allowed to serve in the military. When asked about the impact on military capabilities, 14% said prohibiting transgender service members made the military "more capable" while 43% said "no impact," 22% said "less capable," and the rest said they don't know. (Reuters)

Day 189: No modifications.

1/ The Department of Justice is arguing that the Civil Rights Act does not protect gay employees from discrimination. The DOJ filed an amicus brief (meaning the government isn’t a party in the case) weighing in on a private employment lawsuit. They argue that while Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act bars the discrimination in the workplace based on “race, color, religion, sex or national origin," it does not protect employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation despite “notable changes in societal and cultural attitudes.” The brief claimed that the federal government has a “substantial and unique interest” in the proper interpretation of Title VII because it's the largest employer in the country. (New York Times / BuzzFeed News)

2/ The Joint Chiefs said there will be “no modifications” to the military’s transgender policy until Trump clarifies what he meant. “I know there are questions about yesterday's announcement on the transgender policy by the President,” Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a memo to military leaders. “There will be no modifications to the current policy until the President's direction has been received by the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary has issued implementation guidance.” (NBC News / Politico)

3/ Trump has discussed a recess appointment to replace Jeff Sessions if he leaves the job, in an effort to sidestep Senate oversight. Democrats have said they'll use parliamentary stalling tactics to prevent the Senate from formally adjourning throughout the upcoming August break — in part to prevent Trump from being able to unilaterally install a new attorney general. (Washington Post)

  • Sessions called Trump's criticism over his recusal in the Russia investigation "kind of hurtful." (Fox News)

4/ Lindsey Graham will introduce a bill next week that curtails Trump's power to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller without first getting approval from a federal judge. “We need a check and balance here,” Graham said. "A special counsel cannot be fired when they were impaneled to investigate the president or his team unless you have judicial review of the firing." Trump could veto the legislation, which could be overturned by two-thirds of the House and Senate. (Wall Street Journal)

5/ The Trump administration threatened retribution against Alaska over Lisa Murkowski's no vote on health care. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke called Alaska's other GOP senator, Dan Sullivan, to deliver a "troubling message" that left him worried "that the strong economic growth, pro-energy, pro-mining, pro-jobs, and personnel from Alaska who are part of those policies are going to stop." (Alaska Dispatch News)

6/ Mitch McConnell is expected to unveil the GOP’s “skinny repeal” bill during today's “vote-a-rama." The bill will rollback the individual mandate, partially repeal the employer mandate, defund Planned Parenthood for one year, and provide more money for community health centers. The skinny repeal isn’t really that skinny at all. The CBO estimated 15 million to 16 million Americans would lose coverage while premiums to rise 20% in the individual market. (Politico / Axios / Vox)

  • State health care waivers violate Senate budget rules. Republicans want to expand the ACA's waivers that allow states to opt out of ACA rules, including the "essential health benefit" requirements. But, the Senate Budget Committee Democrats said parts of the proposal can't be passed under Senate budget rules and would require 60 votes in order to pass. (Axios)

7/ Four Republicans said they would not vote for a slimmed-down partial repeal of the Affordable Care Act without guarantees that the House will negotiate a comprehensive measure. Read a different way: Senate Republicans hope the skinny repeal won't become law. Lindsey Graham, John McCain, Bill Cassidy, and Ron Johnson want a guarantee from Paul Ryan that the bill will go to conference committee and not simply passed by the House and sent to Trump. Meanwhile, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy is warning lawmakers to hold off on leaving for the August recess this weekend in case the Senate passes a bill and they're under pressure to act. “The skinny bill as policy is a disaster,” Graham said. (New York Times / Politico / The Hill)

  • House conservatives say the skinny repeal is untenable. Even if Senate Republicans can pass their minimalist plan to alter the ACA, uniting with their House colleagues to enact a bill would be far more challenging. Mark Meadows, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, said a skinny repeal would be “dead on arrival” in the House. (Washington Post)

8/ Scaramucci blamed Reince Priebus for leaking his publicly available financial disclosure form, which showed that he still stands to profit from an ownership stake in his investment firm SkyBridge Capital. Scaramucci tweeted that “In light of the leak of my financial disclosure info which is a felony I will be contacting FBI and the TheJusticeDept.” He tagged Priebus in the tweet, which he later deleted after the internet pointed out that it was called a public disclosure for a reason. In a CNN interview, Scaramucci said that "if Reince wants to explain he's not a leaker, let him do that." Later in the interview, he added that foreign policy leaks "are the types of leaks that are so treasonous that 150 years ago, people would have actually been hung for those types of leaks."

In a separate interview, Scaramucci continued: “Reince is a fucking paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac." He then turned his sights on Steve Bannon while denying that he craves the media's attention: “I’m not Steve Bannon, I’m not trying to suck my own cock,” he said. “I’m not trying to build my own brand off the fucking strength of the President. I’m here to serve the country.” (New York Times / Politico / The New Yorker / CNN / Wall Street Journal)

  • Scaramucci said his split with Priebus may not be reparable. Scaramucci joined the White House last week and reports directly to the president, rather than to the chief of staff as is customary. (Wall Street Journal)

9/ Trump gave Scaramucci the "green light" to go after Priebus, a White House adviser said. Additionally, Scaramucci himself claimed that he had secured Trump’s “blessing” for his words and actions. Sarah Huckabee Sanders declined to publicly express Trump's confidence in the chief of staff during today's press briefing. Privately, Kellyanne Conway has told people that Priebus is "gone" and that he is trying to figure out his next steps. (The Daily Beast / BuzzFeed News)

10/ The Senate approved sanctions against Russia, forcing Trump to decide whether to veto the bill or accept the tougher line against Moscow. The administration has said that Trump may veto the bill, despite there being veto-proof majorities in both the Senate and House. The Senate voted 98-2 to pass the bill two days after the House passed it 419-3. (Washington Post / New York Times / Reuters)

Day 188: The most presidential.

1/ Senate Republicans shot down their own repeal-and-replace bill last night as nine of the 52 Republicans voted against it. The repeal-and-replace bill was a compromise measure meant to appeal to both conservatives and moderate Republicans. Mitch McConnell needed 60 votes to pass the bill. Instead, the vote failed 43-57 just hours after the Senate had narrowly voted to begin debate on a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act. (New York Times / Washington Post / Reuters / CNN)

2/ The Senate rejected the GOP repeal-only measure, which would have repealed major parts of the Affordable Care Act without providing a replacement. The vote failed 45-55. The last viable path for Senate Republicans is to now try their "skinny repeal," which rolls back the mandate that most people have insurance, but leaves most of Obama’s health law in place. Senators would then take their narrow bill into negotiations with the House. (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN)

  • The CBO estimated that the “skinny repeal” would lead to 15 million fewer Americans having health insurance 10 years from now. The skinny repeal would repeal the individual mandate, the employer mandate, and some taxes on the health care industry, while leaving most of Obamacare in place. (Vox)

  • Tom Price: do whatever "gets us to 50 votes so that we can move forward on a health-care reform legislation." The Health and Human Services Secretary urged Senate Republicans to aim for the "lowest common denominator" to keep the Obamacare repeal alive. (CNBC)

  • Trump took aim at Senator Lisa Murkowski, tweeting that she "really let the Republicans, and our country, down yesterday. Too bad." Murkowski and Senator Susan Collins were the only two GOP senators to vote against a procedural vote to begin debate on repealing Obamacare. (CNN)

3/ The House approved bipartisan sanctions against Russia while limiting Trump's power to waive them without a Congressional review. The package, which also includes sanctions against Iran and North Korea, passed 419 to 3. It sets up a veto dilemma for Trump: he can sign or veto the bill, but the Senate, like the House, is expected to pass the legislation by a veto-proof margin. (NBC News / Washington Post / CNN)

4/ Russia threatened to retaliate against the new sanctions, warning of a "painful" response and saying the sanctions make it impossible to achieve Trump's goal of improved Russian relations. Russia has reportedly prepared “economic and political measures that will be adopted if the Senate and Trump support the bill." (Bloomberg)

5/ Trump tweets that the US will no longer “accept or allow” transgender people in the military, saying the military “must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory” and it could not afford to accommodate them. The policy decision reverses the transformation of the military under Obama, whose administration allowed transgender people to openly serve in the military. The Pentagon will defer enlistments by transgender applicants, but it's not clear how Trump intends to implement the ban as transgender people already serve in the military. (NPR / New York Times)

  • Inside Trump’s snap decision to ban transgender troops. A congressional fight over sex reassignment surgery threatened funding for his border wall. (Politico)

  • The Texas Senate approved a bill that restricts bathroom access for transgender people, endorsing a piece of legislation denounced by civil liberties advocates as discriminatory. (Reuters)

  • The military spends 10 times as much on erectile dysfunction medicines as it does on transgender troops’ medical care. A Rand study estimated that treatment for transgendered troops cost the military between $2.4 million and $8.4 million annually. By contrast, total military spending on erectile dysfunction medicines amounts to $84 million annually. (Washington Post)

  • Trump’s transgender ban could force out thousands of service members. One research think tank estimated there are between 1,320 and 6,630 transgender Americans serving in the military out of 1.3 million active-service members. Another think tank put the total number of active-duty and guard or reserve service members higher, estimating that 15,500 transgender people are part of those military forces. The institute’s researchers also calculated that 134,300 veterans identify as transgender. (The Atlantic)

6/ At a rally in Ohio, Trump claimed he can be "more presidential than any president that's ever held this office" – except for Lincoln. He said that it's easier to "act presidential than what we are doing here tonight" (give a speech) and that "with few exceptions, no president has done anywhere near what we've done in his first six months. Not even close." (The Hill / CNN)

7/ Trump attacked Jeff Sessions for not firing Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe after James Comey was fired in May. The attack came, predictably, via Twitter, where he wrote in a pair of tweets: “Why didn’t A.G. Sessions replace Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, a Comey friend who was in charge of Clinton investigation but got big dollars ($700,000) for his wife’s political run from Hillary Clinton and her representatives. Drain the Swamp!” At a news conference yesterday, Trump was asked if he would fire Sessions. “We’ll see what happens,’’ Trump said. (Politico / Washington Post)

  • Several top White House officials have urged Trump to stop his public criticism of Sessions. Steve Bannon, Reince Priebus, and others have been talking up Sessions in conversations with Trump, reminding him that the attorney general has been one of the most effective members of his Cabinet in advocating for and advancing his agenda. (CNN)

  • An Alabama Senate candidate offered to withdraw from the race so Sessions can take his former seat. Mo Brooks proposed that all nine candidates drop out of the race simultaneously if Trump ousts Sessions from the Justice Department. The other candidates are almost certain to reject the proposal. (Politico)

8/ Sessions escalated his crackdown on so-called sanctuary cities, saying they could lose millions of dollars in federal grants unless they cooperate with federal agents to deport suspected undocumented immigrants held in local jails. The new policy will apply to all cities that apply for a federal grant program that provides roughly $250 million in crime-finding aid to states and local governments. (Los Angeles Times / The Guardian / NBC News / New York Times)

9/ Rex Tillerson is "just taking a little time off," but has no plans to resign as Secretary of State. After Trump's public attack on Jeff Sessions, rumors swirled that Tillerson could resign from his role citing Trump's behavior as unprofessional. Tillerson took some days off earlier this week, but returned to work today after "a lengthy meeting with the vice president at the White House on some important policy issues." (USA Today / The Hill)

10/ North Korea threatened a nuclear strike on "the heart of the US" if it attempts to remove Kim Jong Un as Supreme Leader. Meanwhile, US intelligence agencies believe North Korea will be capable of delivering a missile that can reach the continental US within a year. (CNN / New York Times)

poll/ 49% of Trump voters believe Trump won the popular vote. Kris Kobach — the vice chair of Trump’s election commission — floated the idea that "we may never know" whether Clinton won the popular vote. (Politico)

poll/ 45% of Republicans favor shutting down "biased" media outlets. Meanwhile, 18% of Democrats favor the courts to shut down news media outlets for publishing or broadcasting stories that are biased or inaccurate. (The Daily Beast)

poll/ Trump's job approval stands at 43% in 11 states he won. Overall, Trump has a 40% approval rating among all adults over his first six months. (CNN)

Day 187: Open debate.

1/ Senate Republicans secured the 51 votes needed to advance their health care bill after Pence cast the tie-breaking vote. The Senate will now begin debating, amending, and ultimately voting in the coming days on the future of Obamacare. The vote was too close to call until the last moments, when several Republican holdouts announced their support, including Rand Paul, Dean Heller, Rob Portman, and Shelley Moore Capito. Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski both voted against the motion to proceed. (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN)

2/ The Senate will now have 20 hours of debate the health care bill, evenly split between the two sides. Senators can bring up and debate an unlimited number of amendments to the bill as long as they are “germane” to the bill and would not add to the budget deficit.

Then a period known as vote-a-rama happens, where Senators votes on the amendments. The first amendment will be the Obamacare Repeal Reconciliation Act, which repeals most of the Affordable Care Act without a replacement.

If that fails (as is expected), Senators will then vote on the Better Care Reconciliation Act, which cuts massive portions of the ACA. Because of reconciliation rules, these amendments would require 60 votes to pass. If BCRA fails, Senators will consider what is being called a “skinny repeal,” which repeals the individual mandate penalty, the employer mandate penalty, and the tax on medical devices. (New York Times / Vox / Time / NBC News)

  • John McCain returned to the Senate for the health care vote after being diagnosed with brain cancer last week. McCain's vote is critical to today's procedural vote. His absence would have left Senate Republicans with no margin of error. (Washington Post / Politico)

  • Senate Republicans don't know what's in their health care plan, but they voted anyway on the motion to proceed. About a half-dozen senators were publicly undecided about whether to start debate on rolling back the Affordable Care Act. Several senators have said they want a "replace" plan ready to go before voting "yes." An agreed upon replace plan is not in place. The bill will have to pass the House before making its way to Trump's desk. McConnell forced the procedural vote to put every senator on record. (Politico / Vox / CNN)

3/ Trump ripped Jeff Sessions on Twitter, calling him “very weak” when it comes to investigating Hillary Clinton. Trump has repeatedly taken aim at Sessions in recent days, leading to speculation that it’s just a matter of time before the attorney general resigns or is fired. The recent tweets come a day after Trump publicly described Sessions as "beleaguered." (NBC News / CNN)

4/ Later in the day, Trump added that he is "very disappointed in Jeff Sessions" but won’t say if he'll fire him. Trump has previously discussed replacing Jeff Sessions in a move viewed by some of Trump's advisors as part of a strategy for firing special counsel Robert Mueller in order to end his investigation into the campaign's efforts to coordinate with the Kremlin to influence the 2016 election. Sessions recently asked White House staff how he could patch up relations with Trump, but that went nowhere. Instead, Trump floated longtime ally Rudy Giuliani as a possible replacement for Sessions. (Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / Associated Press)

5/ Sessions is "pissed" at Trump for the attacks, but doesn't plan to quit. Senate Republicans have said that attacks on Sessions, who spent 20 years in the Senate, strain their relationship with Trump. Many GOP senators have expressed annoyance with Trump's tweets, saying "I really have a hard time with this” and "I’d prefer that he didn’t do that. We’d like Jeff to be treated fairly." Senators have also been nonplussed by Trump’s criticism of Sessions’ decision to recuse himself, saying “Jeff made the right decision. It’s not only a legal decision, but it’s the right decision." Trump's senior policy adviser Stephen Miller and Steve Bannon also support Sessions. (The Daily Beast / McClatchy DC)

6/ Anthony Scaramucci says it's "probably" correct that Trump wants Sessions gone. The new White House communications director didn't want to speak for the president, but said he thinks Trump has a "certain style" and he is "obviously frustrated." (The Hill)

7/ Senate Democrats are planning a procedural move to prevent Trump from making recess appointments by forcing the Senate to hold "pro forma" sessions – brief meetings, often only a few minutes. Democrats are worried Trump could attempt to bypass Congress and appoint a new attorney general and undermine special counsel Robert Mueller's ongoing probe into alleged Russian meddling in the US election during the planned August recess. (CNN / Reuters)

8/ The Senate Judiciary Committee issued a subpoena to Paul Manafort to testify in its Russia probe. Manafort had agreed to provide notes of the meeting at Trump Tower last year with the Russian lawyer, according to a person close to the investigation. Committee chairman Chuck Grassley and ranking member Dianne Feinstein said they had been “unable to reach an agreement for a voluntary transcribed interview with the Judiciary Committee” with Manafort. (ABC News / Politico)

UPDATE:

The Senate Judiciary Committee has dropped the subpoena against Paul Manafort and plans are underway for the former Trump campaign chairman to speak to investigators. (Politico)

9/ Parents are angry after Trump delivered a politicized speech to tens of thousands of boy scouts. Over 35 minutes, Trump threatened to fire one of his Cabinet members, attacked Obama, dissed Hillary Clinton, marveled at the size of the crowd, warned the boys about the “fake media,” mocked the polls, and said more people would say “Merry Christmas." Responding to criticism, the Boy Scouts of America insisted it was "wholly non-partisan and does not promote any one position, product, service, political candidate or philosophy." (Washington Post / BBC)

  • Trump joked he would fire Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price if the health care bill doesn't pass. “Hopefully he’s going to get the votes tomorrow to start on the path to kill this thing called ObamaCare that’s really hurting us,” Trump said during a speech to Boy Scouts at the 2017 National Jamboree. "He better get them, otherwise I’ll say, ‘Tom, you’re fired.'" (The Hill)

  • The 29 most cringe-worthy lines from Donald Trump's hyper-political speech to the Boy Scouts (CNN)

  • Trump's transcript from his 2017 Boy Scout Jamboree speech. (Time)

10/ Trump confirmed a covert CIA program while tweeting that the Washington Post had “fabricated the facts” about his decision to end a program aiding Syrian rebels fighting the government of President Bashar al-Assad. Trump was referring to a story about ending an Obama program where the CIA armed and trained moderate Syrian rebels, a move long sought by the Russian government. (Washington Post / Politico)

11/ A federal judge ruled that Trump's voter fraud commission may request voter roll data from states. Opponents contend the effort could infringe on privacy rights. The judge said the lawsuit did not have grounds for an injunction because the commission was not technically an action by a government agency – the commission is an advisory body that does not have legal authority to compel states to hand over the data. (Reuters)

12/ Jared Kushner bought real estate from an oligarch's firm represented by the Russian lawyer. Lev Leviev was a business partner at Prevezon Holdings, where Natalia Veselnitskaya acted as legal counsel. Prevezon was being investigated by Preet Bharara for money laundering before he was fired by Trump in March. Prevezon Holdings attempted to use Manhattan real estate deals to launder money stolen from the Russian treasury. In 2015, Kushner paid $295m to acquire several floors of the old New York Times building at 43rd street in Manhattan from the US branch of Leviev’s company. The Prevezon case was abruptly settled two days before it was due in open court in May for $6 million with no admission of guilt on the part of the defendants. (The Guardian)

13/ A White House press aide resigned after Anthony Scaramucci said he planned to fire him over alleged leaks. Michael Short is the first to leave after Scaramucci promised all aides “a clean slate” and “amnesty” to prove that they were not leaking. "This is the problem with the leaking," Scaramucci told reporters outside the White House. "This is actually a terrible thing. Let’s say I’m firing Michael Short today. The fact that you guys know about it before he does really upsets me as a human being and as a Roman Catholic." Short, who initially said Tuesday that he hadn’t yet been informed of any decision, resigned Tuesday afternoon. (Washington Post / Politico / The Hill)

Day 186: Beleaguered.

1/ Jared Kushner told a closed-door Senate Intelligence Committee "Let me be very clear: I did not collude with Russia, nor do I know of anyone else in the campaign who did so." Kushner said he was unaware that the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with the Russian lawyer was about providing the Trump campaign with damaging information about Hillary Clinton. He added: "I had no improper contacts. I have not relied on Russian funds for my businesses and I have been fully transparent in providing all requested information." Kushner was not under oath for the Senate meeting. He will speak to the House Intelligence Committee tomorrow. (New York Times / Washington Post / Associated Press)

  • Jared Kushner's statement on Russia to congressional committees. (CNN)

2/ Kushner's statement included details of a previously undisclosed meeting with the Russian ambassador from April 2016. Kushner met Ambassador Sergei Kislyak at an event at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC in April 2016 – the same event where Jeff Sessions met with the Kislyak, but didn't remember. Kushner blamed the omission on his security clearance forms as a mistake made by his assistant. (Wall Street Journal / Politico)

3/ Trump pressured Republican senators to get on board and "do the right thing" and repeal Obamacare, saying: "Any senator who votes against starting debate is telling America that you are fine with the Obamacare nightmare." Earlier, he threatened Republicans that the "repercussions will be far greater" than they expect and that Republicans are doing "very little to protect their President." Mitch McConnell wants to move ahead with a procedural vote tomorrow to take up the health care bill. If he can find 50 votes, the Senate would begin debate on a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. (New York Times / Reuters / Politico / The Hill)

  • The Trump administration scrapped Obamacare signup assistance in 18 cities. People will now have 45 days to shop for 2018 coverage, starting Nov. 1 and ending Dec. 15. They previously had twice that much time. (CNBC)

4/ A Texas Republican congressman blamed "some female senators from the Northeast" for the health care bill's issues. Blake Farenthold said it's "absolutely repugnant" that Susan Collins, Shelley Moore, and Lisa Murkowski have failed to show the courage to dismantle the health care law. "If it was a guy from south Texas," Farenthold said. "I might ask him to step outside and settle this Aaron Burr-style." Burr shot and killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel. (NBC News / BBC)

5/ Trump wants to know why "beleaguered" Jeff Sessions isn't investigating Clinton. On Saturday, Trump tweeted that “so many people” were asking why Sessions was not looking into Clinton and her deleted emails despite Trump telling the Justice Department they should not investigate Clinton after he won the election. Last week, Trump said he never would have nominated Sessions if he knew he intended to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. (CNN / New York Times)

6/ Trump floated the possibility of bringing in Rudolph Giuliani to head the Justice Department after sandbagging Sessions in recent days. Giuliani was an early Trump supporter, raising questions about his independence, and making it hard to find 50 Republicans senators to confirm him. (Axios)

7/ After Trump's rebuke of Sessions, Rex Tillerson could resign from his role. Tillerson has expressed growing frustration with the Trump administration and sees Trump's public attacks on Sessions as unprofessional. Tillerson has told friends outside of Washington that he's determined to stay on the job at least through the end of the year. (CNN)

8/ Scaramucci: Trump is unconvinced that Russia attempted to influence the 2016 election. The new communications director said Trump doesn't accept the intelligence community's conclusion that the Russian government attempted to hurt Hillary Clinton and help Trump. Trump tweeted: "As the phony Russian Witch Hunt continues, two groups are laughing at this excuse for a lost election taking hold, Democrats and Russians!" (CNN)

9/ Kellyanne Conway says Russia is "not a big story" and that Trump “doesn’t think he’s lying” about voter fraud and wiretapping. Conway claimed that the media doesn’t offer “complete coverage” of the Trump administration and that it's “incredibly unfair and systematically against this president.” Trump has claimed that millions have voted illegally and accused Obama of wiretapping him — despite having no proof of it happening. Conway said Trump "doesn’t think he’s lying about those issues." (CNN / Salon)

10/ Trump’s pick to lead the DOJ's criminal division disclosed that he once represented a Putin-tied Russian bank while working for a US law firm. Brian Benczkowski is scheduled to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee for a confirmation hearing tomorrow. Alfa Bank is one of Russia’s largest financial institutions, whose owners have ties to Putin. Benczkowski previously worked in the Justice Department during the Bush era. (New York Times)

11/ Scaramucci outs Trump as his anonymous source while disputing the conclusion that Russian meddled in the election. “Somebody said to me yesterday — I won’t tell you who — that if the Russians actually hacked this situation and spilled out those emails, you would have never seen it, you would have never had any evidence of them," Scaramucci said. After meeting with Putin in Germany, Trump said that "somebody did say" that if Putin did order the hacking, "you wouldn’t have found out about it." Trump didn't say who that "somebody" was but called the idea "a very interesting point." (The Hill / New York Times / Reuters)

12/ To slow White House leaks Scaramucci plans to fire everybody. "If you're going to keep leaking, I'm going to fire everybody." He called leaking information "un-American," "unprofessional and harmful." (CBS News)

13/ Sarah Huckabee Sanders should use the hair and makeup person from Friday’s briefing, Scaramucci says on live TV. “I want to do everything I can to make her better at that podium… Like every athlete that's training for the Olympics, every day we got to make ourselves incrementally better,” Scaramucci said. “The only thing I ask Sarah, Sarah if you’re watching, I loved the hair and makeup person that we had on Friday. So I’d like to continue to use the hair and makeup person,” Scaramucci added. (The Daily Beast / Washington Post)

poll/ Trump averaged a 50% or higher job approval rating in 17 states from January to June. And now, let the wild rumpus start: West Virginia (60% approval), North Dakota (59%), South Dakota (57%), Montana (56%), Wyoming (56%), Alabama (55%), Oklahoma (54%), Kansas (53%), Kentucky (53%), Arkansas (53%), and Idaho (53%). (Gallup)

poll/ Americans are split – 42%-42% – over whether Trump should be removed from office. 46% say Trump won't complete his first term, while 27% are confident that he'll serve all four years of his term. A third said they would be upset if Trump was impeached, while an equal third said they would be upset if he's not. (USA Today)

Day 184: Complete power.

1/ Trump lost his shit on Twitter today. In a two hour rant he asserted his "complete power" to pardon himself, decried "illegal leaks," blamed Hillary, defended Trump Jr. and his new communications director, called Democrats obstructionist, and declared Obamacare dead. (The Daily Beast / ABC News / Washington Post / New York Magazine)

  • Legal experts doubt Trump could pardon himself in the Russia inquiry. The constitution does not weigh in explicitly on the issue and there is no direct precedent. No president has ever attempted to self-pardon. (The Guardian)

2/ Jeff Sessions discussed the Trump campaign with the Russian ambassador while serving as Trump's foreign policy adviser. US intelligence intercepts show Sessions and Sergey Kislyak had “substantive” discussions on Trump’s positions on Russia-related issues, prospects for US-Russia relations in a Trump administration, and other policy issues important to Moscow. Sessions initially failed to disclose his contacts with Kislyak, but later said that the meetings were not about the Trump campaign. (Washington Post)

  • Senator Chuck Grassley called on the anonymous leaker to release the alleged Sessions-Russia conversations. "LEAKER: stop tease/leak entire conversation/end speculation," Grassley tweeted. (The Hill)

3/ Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump filed new financial disclosures revealing they could be worth more than $762 million. In his 39th revised filing, Kushner "inadvertently omitted" 77 items from his first form. Ivanka Trump, for the first time, filed documents disclosing the couple's art collection (valued at up to $25 million) and that she's been paid as much as $5 million from her outside businesses between January 1st and when she entered the White House on March 8th. (CNN / Bloomberg / Washington Post)

4/ Key provisions in the Republican health care bill don't comply with the Senate’s budget rules. The so-called “Byrd Rule” makes sure policies passed under “budget reconciliation” — which allows legislation to advance with only 51 votes instead of the usual 60 needed to get past a filibuster — either decrease federal spending or increase revenue. The 52 Senate Republicans will now need to vote to preserve each provision flagged by the Senate Budget Committee for violating the Byrd rule. (Politico / Vox)

5/ The House and Senate reached a Russia sanctions deal. The legislation will give Congress the ability to block Trump from easing sanctions on Moscow. The bill includes new sanctions against Russia, Iran, and North Korea. The bill is set for a vote Tuesday. (CNN / Washington Post / ABC News)

6/ The new White House communications director praised Breitbart News, saying they've "captured the spirit of what's actually going on in the country." Anthony Scaramucci said he wants to get Trump's unfiltered message to his supporters via Twitter, bypassing mainstream media Trump often calls "fake news," while hoping to de-escalate "unfairness and bias in the media." (Politico)

7/ The Director of National Intelligence said no US intelligence agencies dispute Russian election meddling, pushing back on Trump’s claim there was a misunderstanding between the agencies. “There is no dissent, and I have stated that publicly and I have stated that to the president,” Dan Coats said. Trump had previously claimed that only “three or four” agencies came to the conclusion that Russia meddled in the election. (The Hill)

Day 183: Pardon power.

1/ Trump’s lawyers are discussing his authority to grant pardons to aides, family members, and himself in connection with the Russia probe. Because no president has ever pardoned himself, there is no precedent, which leaves the question open: can a president use their constitutional power to pardon themselves? The power to pardon is granted in Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution, which gives the president the power to “grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.” (Washington Post)

2/ Trump’s lawyers are exploring ways to stymie Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. They're scouring the professional and political backgrounds of investigators hired by the special counsel, looking for conflicts of interest they could use to discredit the investigation or force members of the team to recuse themselves – and possibly build a case to fire Mueller. Trump has been particularly upset that Mueller could access his personal tax returns, which he has repeatedly declined to release to the public. (New York Times / The Hill)

3/ Trump tapped Anthony Scaramucci to be the new White House communications director, a wealthy Wall Street financier, schmoozer, and fixture on the global financial scene. Trump sees Scaramucci as a strong defender of him on television and wants him to focus on the surrogate strategy as communications director. Scaramucci supported Trump's campaign, dealing with fundraising and appearing on cable TV as a frequent defender of the president. The role has been open since Mike Dubke resigned in May. (Axios / Washington Post / NBC News / Politico)

  • Scaramucci once called Trump a "hack politician" and said his rhetoric was "anti-American." In August 2015, then-candidate Trump railed against “hedge-fund guys paying nothing” in taxes. Scaramucci shot back, calling him “another hack politician,” whose remarks “anti-American and divisive.” (Time)

4/ Sean Spicer resigned as the White House Press Secretary, telling Trump he "vehemently disagreed" with the appointment of New York financier Anthony Scaramucci as communications director. After offering the job to Scaramucci, Trump asked Spicer to stay on. Spicer declined, telling Trump he believed the appointment was a major mistake. Spicer was largely left in the dark, unaware of Trump's intention to hire Scaramucci until this morning, as were Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon, both of whom fiercely opposed Scaramucci's hire. Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump encouraged the move. Sarah Huckabee Sanders was named White House press secretary. (New York Times / CNN / ABC News / Politico)

5/ Robert Mueller asked White House staff to preserve all documents relating to Trump Jr.'s meeting with the Russian lawyer. The notice, called a document preservation request, asked White House staff to save any text messages, emails, notes, voicemails, and other communications and documentation from the June 2016 meeting. (CNN)

6/ The Russian lawyer Trump Jr. met with had Russian intelligence connections. Natalia Veselnitskaya had previously represented Russia’s top spy agency, the Federal Security Service, in a land dispute in Moscow. There is no information that Veselnitskaya is an intelligence agent or an employee of the Russian government. (Washington Post)

7/ Russia's foreign minister suggested Trump may have had more meetings with Putin at the G-20 summit. Sergey Lavrov shrugged off the importance of the encounters, dismissing speculation about the leaders' meetings, and joking that "maybe they went to the toilet together." Trump and Putin met three times at the summit. (NBC News)

8/ Susan Rice privately met with the Senate intelligence committee as part of the committee's investigation into Russia meddling in the election. Rice, who served as Obama's national security adviser, is under scrutiny from House Republicans because they believe she improperly "unmasked" the identities of Trump associates in US intelligence reports. (CNN)

9/ Trump reshuffled his legal team. Marc Kasowitz, Trump's longtime personal attorney who has been the lead lawyer on the Russia investigation, will step aside as the role requires Washington-centric expertise. John Dowd and Jay Sekulow will now be Trump's primary personal attorneys for the investigation, with Dowd in the lead. From inside the White House, Ty Cobb will take the lead on the investigation from a legal and communications perspective. (CNN)

10/ The spokesman for Trump’s legal team resigned two months after starting. Mark Corallo said the dynamics in the White House were untenable and that there was "too much fighting all the time." He had grown frustrated with the operation and was concerned about whether he was being told the truth about various matters. (Politico)

poll/ 57% of all Americans say Trump Jr. shouldn't have taken the meeting with the Russian lawyer. 83% of Democrats say the group should not have taken the meeting, while 48% of Republicans say they should have. (CNN)

poll/ Trump averaged a 38.8% job approval during his second quarter in office. No other president has had a worse second-quarter average. The historical average second-quarter rating is 62%. (Gallup)

Day 182: Very unfair.

1/ Trump would have never hired Jeff Sessions had he known he would recuse himself from the Russia investigation. "Sessions should have never recused himself," Trump said, "and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job, and I would have picked somebody else." Trump called the decision “very unfair to the president. How do you take a job and then recuse yourself?" Asked if Robert Mueller’s investigation would cross a line if it started to look at his family’s finances beyond Russia, Trump said, “I would say yes,” but declined to say what he would do about it. “I think that’s a violation. Look, this is about Russia.” (New York Times)

  • Excerpts from Trump's interview with the New York Times. Trump spoke on Wednesday with three New York Times reporters — Peter Baker, Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman — in an exclusive interview in the Oval Office. Also in attendance was Hope Hicks, a White House spokeswoman. (New York Times)

  • Trump's blast of Sessions has a "chilling" effect inside the West Wing. White House officials are thinking: If this kind could happen to Sessions, it could happen to anyone. One official described the President's blasting of Sessions as only intensifying the already low morale inside the West Wing. (CNN)

  • GOP senators rebuked Trump's criticism of Sessions. "The attorney general is America's top law enforcement official," one GOP senator said. "It's unclear if he understands that, and that's pretty disturbing." (CNN)

2/ Jeff Sessions plans to stay in his role despite Trump’s comments that he'd have picked someone else had he known Sessions would recuse himself from the Russia investigation. Sessions said he's had the “honor of serving as attorney general,” and he planned “to continue to do so as long as that is appropriate.” (Washington Post / CNN)

3/ The White House says Trump still has confidence in Sessions, despite being "disappointed" in Sessions' decision to recuse himself. Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that Trump “clearly he has confidence in him or he would not be the Attorney General," adding “if he wanted somebody to take an action, he would make that quite clear.” (NBC News)

4/ Robert Mueller expanded his probe to include Trump's business transactions, ignoring Trump's warning not to dig into matters beyond Russia. Investigators are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a SoHo development with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008. In Trump's interview with the New York Times, he defended his involvement with Russia saying, "it’s possible there’s a condo or something, so, you know, I sell a lot of condo units, and somebody from Russia buys a condo, who knows? I don’t make money from Russia." (Bloomberg)

5/ Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, and Trump Jr. will testify before Senate committees next week. Kushner will appear before the Senate intelligence committee on Monday, while Trump Jr. and Manafort are scheduled to testify before the Senate judiciary committee on Wednesday. (CNN / ABC News)

6/ Paul Manafort was in debt to pro-Russia interests when he joined Trump’s campaign in March 2016. Shell companies linked to Manafort's businesses in Ukraine owed as much as $17 million. (New York Times)

7/ Mueller is investigating Manafort for possible money laundering. The inquiry began several weeks ago and looks at how Manafort spent and borrowed tens of millions of dollars in connection with properties in the US over the past decade. The Senate and House intelligence committees also are probing possible money laundering by Manafort. (Wall Street Journal)

8/ Trump’s embrace of Russia places him at odds with his national security and foreign policy advisers. "Deep divisions" are growing in the White House on the best way to approach Moscow. Foreign officials have said Trump and his team have sent “mixed signals” with regards to their Russia policy, leaving diplomats and intelligence officials “dumbfounded” by Trump's approach. (Associated Press)

9/ The Trump team used Obamacare money to run ads that undermined the health care law. The Trump administration requested $574 million from the Department of Health and Human Services' “consumer information and outreach” budget, which is supposed to be used for advertising the ACA and encouraging enrollment. Instead, they bought social media ads and produced more than 130 videos designed to damage public opinion of Obamacare. (The Daily Beast)

10/ John McCain was diagnosed with brain cancer. McCain had a blood clot removed from above his left eye last week and "subsequent tissue pathology revealed that a primary brain tumor known as a glioblastoma." McCain and his family are reviewing further treatment options, including potential chemotherapy and radiation. (BuzzFeed News)

11/ After their White House meeting, Senate Republicans are still unlikely to repeal Obamacare in the coming days. Mitch McConnell needs 51 votes (or 50 plus Pence as a tie-breaker) to begin debate. There are 52 Senate Republicans and at least four Republican senators having announced opposition to starting debate on the current health care replacement plan: Susan Collins, Rand Paul, Mike Lee, and Jerry Moran. John McCain’s diagnosis of brain cancer also has the GOP down a vote. McCain has privately indicated that he would not support a repeal-only bill. Shelley Moore Capito and Lisa Murkowski say they would also oppose a repeal-only bill. The path to 50 votes is extremely unlikely. (Politico / HuffPost)

12/ The Senate confirmed a federal judge who once compared abortion to slavery, calling them “the two greatest tragedies in our country.” The Senate confirmed John K. Bush's lifetime appointment as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth. The vote was 51-47. (HuffPost / The Daily Beast)

13/ Trump ended a covert CIA program to arm anti-Assad rebels in Syria, a move sought by Moscow. Closing the program is an acknowledgment of Trump's limited leverage and desire to remove Assad from power. (Washington Post)

poll/ 88% percent of Trump voters would vote for him again. 12% said they would not vote for Trump "if the 2016 presidential election were held today." (Reuters)

poll/ 47% of liberal Democrats can't stand friends who voted for Trump, saying it puts a strain on their friendships. Among Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters more broadly, the number is 35%. White and more-educated Democrats are more likely to feel that it's tough to even be friends with a Trump supporter. (Pew Research Center / Washington Post)

Day 181: Secret dinner.

1/ Trump and Putin met for nearly an hour in a second, previously undisclosed meeting during a dinner for G20 leaders. The White House called the meeting "brief" and said Trump spoke with Putin through Russia's translator. No other American officials other than Trump were present for the meeting. (CNN / New York Times / Reuters)

2/ In response to the news of the meeting, Trump tweeted that the "Fake News" story about his "secret dinner with Putin is "'sick.'" He added that "the Fake News is becoming more and more dishonest" and makes his previously undisclosed meeting with Putin "look sinister!" (Twitter)

3/ A Republican congressman attempted to alter Russian sanctions after receiving a confidential document while in Moscow. Dana Rohrabacher tried to set up a virtual "show trial" last June, around the same time that Trump Jr. met with the Russian lawyer, in an attempt to undermine a set of sanctions placed on Russia. The document contends that the US – and the rest of the world – was "duped by a fake $230 million scandal that resulted in sanctions being imposed on 44 Russians linked to murder, corruption, or cover-ups." During a congressional hearing, Rohrabacher wanted to present "a feature-length pro-Kremlin propaganda movie" made by the "Prosecutor General’s office in Moscow, which is run by Yuri Chaika, a close associate of President Vladimir Putin." (The Daily Beast)

4/ Trump is threatening to gut the Obamacare markets, repeatedly telling aides and advisers that he wants to end the subsidy payments. The deadline for sending out the monthly Affordable Care Act subsidies to health plans is Thursday. Trump has the discretion to decide unilaterally whether the payments continue while a lawsuit House Republicans won in 2014 is being appealed. (Politico)

5/ Senate Republicans who opposed the health care bill are meeting tonight to try and revive the repeal and replacement bill after being told by Trump that they need to get a deal done before the August recess. Mitch McConnell wants vote next week for the procedural motion to take up the bill and start debate. Trump told senators that "inaction is not an option" and that “any senator who votes against starting debate is really telling America that you’re fine with Obamacare." (Politico / Axios / New York Times / CNN)

6/ The CBO estimates that the Senate "repeal only" bill would leave 32 million more uninsured and double premiums over a decade. The legislation is on track to reach the Senate floor early next week, where it would likely fail. (Politico)

7/ The Supreme Court allows the "grandparent" exemption to Trump's travel ban. The court upheld parts of a lower court order that temporarily exempts grandparents and other relatives from the travel ban. Now grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts and uncles, nephews and nieces, and cousins are considered "close family." (NPR / CNN / Washington Post)

8/ More than 20 members of Congress want the FBI to review Ivanka Trump’s security clearance. The group sent a letter to acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe asking him to “conduct a review of a potentially serious issue" involving Ivanka and whether she properly filled out her SF-86 form, which is the security clearance required for federal officials. (Yahoo)

9/ The Russian lawyer said she's willing to testify to Congress about what she called "mass hysteria" regarding her meeting with Trump Jr. Natalia Veselnitskaya told Russia's Kremlin-backed RT TV channel that she never obtained damaging information about Clinton and that she has no ties with the Kremlin. (Reuters)

10/ The military is paying $130,000 a month to lease space in Trump Tower for offices that support the White House despite Trump not spending a night there since becoming president. The military’s lease in Trump Tower is far above market rate for similarly sized apartments in the luxury high rise market, making it one of the most expensive residential rentals in Manhattan. (Wall Street Journal)

11/ Trump sanctioned Iran a day after certifying its compliance with the nuclear deal. The sanctions targeted 18 people and entities that were involved in missile development, weapons procurement, and software theft. (CNN / New York Times)

12/ Jeff Sessions rolled back an Obama directive that prevented police from seizing cash and property from people suspected of crimes but not charged. The technique has been linked to civil rights abuses where people lose their cash, cars, and homes without any proven link to illegal activity. (NBC News / Washington Post)

13/ Trump Jr. is reportedly "miserable" and wants "these four years to be over." PEOPLE, who talked to "a source who knows the family well," said that “Don can’t do any deals, because he’ll be overly scrutinized. He just goes to work every day and is miserable.” (People)

poll/ 32% of Trump voters don't believe Trump Jr. had a meeting with the Russian lawyer about information that might be harmful to Hillary Clinton. 45% believe the meeting happened and 24% say they're not sure despite Trump Jr. confirming the meeting took place and tweeting out the email chain used to setup the meeting with the Russian lawyer. (Public Policy Polling)

poll/ 53% of Americans say they want to see Democrats take control of Congress in 2018 “to act as a check on Trump," versus 35% who’d like to see the GOP retain control in order “to support Trump’s agenda.” (ABC News)

poll/ 65% of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents say they are likely to vote next year, compared to 57% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents. "The survey results suggest … Democrats have not been able to capi­tal­ize yet on voter antipathy toward Trump. For one thing, Americans who strongly disapprove of Trump do not appear to be any more motivated to vote than the average American." (Washington Post)

Day 180: Dead on arrival.

1/ The GOP health care bill collapsed after two more Republican senators said they would oppose the bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, leaving Mitch McConnell at least two votes short of the 50 needed to begin debate on their bill to dismantle the health law. Senators Mike Lee and Jerry Moran joined Rand Paul and Susan Collins of Maine in opposition of the bill, preventing GOP leaders from bringing the bill to the floor and ending Republicans' seven-year goal of repealing Obamacare. (New York Times / Politico / Washington Post / CNN / Wall Street Journal)

  • Trump blindsided by the implosion of the GOP health care bill. While the president strategized with Republican lawmakers at the White House over steak, two senators were finalizing their statements tanking the current proposal. (Politico)

  • How the Republican health care bill fell apart. Trump was "annoyed" at the news, which came after a dinner with Republican senators. (CNN)

2/ Trump immediately called on Republicans to repeal Obamacare now and work on a healthcare plan that would draw Democratic support later. "Republicans should just REPEAL failing ObamaCare now & work on a new Healthcare Plan that will start from a clean slate," Trump tweeted. "Dems will join in!" (Reuters / The Hill)

3/ Trump blamed Democrats for the collapse of the GOP health care bill and urged Republicans to let Obamacare fail in an attempt to force Democrats to the negotiating table. In a series of tweets, just hours after saying Republicans should act now to repeal the law, Trump said: “We were let down by all of the Democrats and a few Republicans. Most Republicans were loyal, terrific & worked really hard. We will return! As I have always said, let ObamaCare fail and then come together and do a great healthcare plan. Stay tuned!” (Washington Post / Politico / The Hill)

4/ McConnell said he would attempt to hold a vote on a repeal-only bill in the coming days that would delay the repeal of Obamacare for two years. "Regretfully, it is now apparent that the effort to repeal and immediately replace the failure of Obamacare will not be successful," McConnell said in a statement. He added that "in the coming days," the Senate would vote on "a repeal of Obamacare with a two-year delay to provide for a stable transition period to a patient-centered health care system that gives Americans access to quality, affordable care." (CNN / ABC News)

  • Why is Mitch McConnell still calling for a health-care vote? The effort to “repeal and immediately replace” Obamacare “will not be successful,” McConnell admitted. (Washington Post)

5/ Three Republican senators said they would oppose McConnell's repeal-only idea. Susan Collins, Shelley Moore Capito, and Lisa Murkowski said they would oppose any vote to proceed with an immediate repeal of the health care law without a replacement — enough to doom the effort before it could get any momentum. (New York Times / Washington Post)

6/ House Republican unveiled their 2018 budget proposal, which slashes billions in spending to social programs like Medicaid and food stamp, and paves the way for a major overhaul of the tax code. Defense spending would steadily increase over the next 10 years while non-defense, discretionary spending would decline to $424 billion — about 23% below current spending in the category. The budget calls for at least $203 billion in cuts to programs such as Medicare and Social Security over the next decade. In addition, the proposal sets out special procedures that could allow Republicans to pass legislation over the objections of Senate Democrats using a process known as reconciliation and setting the stage for tax reform legislation. (Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / ABC News)

7/ House Republicans want to defund the only federal agency that works to ensure the voting process is secure as part of proposed federal budget cuts. Republicans say that the Federal Election Commission could bear the Election Assistance Commission's responsibilities and that the EAC improperly interferes in the right of states to conduct their elections. (Wall Street Journal)

8/ The vice chair of Trump’s voter fraud commission wants to add new requirements for voting. The day after Trump was elected, Kris Kobach, the Kansas Secretary of State, proposed a change federal law to make voter registration requirements stricter and "to make clear that proof of citizenship requirements are permitted." Kobach is now the vice chair of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. (Washington Post / HuffPost)

9/ Thousands of voters are removing themselves from state voter rolls, worried that Trump’s vote fraud commission will reveal their personal information. Colorado has seen 3,738 voters remove their names from the rolls since Trump's election commission sent letters to all states requesting voter information. (NBC News)

10/ The eighth person at the Trump Tower meeting has been identified. Ike Kaveladze, attended as an interpreter for the Russian lawyer, is an American-based employee of a Russian real estate company owned by Emin and Aras Agalarov, the Russian developers who hosted the Trump-owned Miss Universe pageant in 2013. In October 2000, a report by the Government Accountability Office accused Kaveladze of laundering $1.4 billion of Russian and Eastern European money through US banks. Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team is investigating the meeting. (Washington Post / CNN / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / The Daily Beast)

11/ White House staff is worried that Jared Kushner's security clearance is in jeopardy. Kushner has an interim security clearance, but met with the FBI on June 23 to be interviewed for his permanent security clearance – two days after amending his SF-86 form for a third time with details of the meeting with Trump Jr. and the Russian lawyer at Trump Tower. Without a security clearance, Kushner wouldn't be able to take part in most West Wing decisions and it would hamstring his foreign policy work. (CNN)

12/ Trump claims to have signed more bills than any president ever in his first six months. “We’ve signed more bills — and I’m talking about through the legislature — than any president, ever,” Trump said at a “Made in America” event. Carter signed 70 bills in his first six months, Clinton signed 50., W. Bush signed 20 bills, and Obama signed 39 bills during the period, including an $800 billion stimulus program to confront an economic disaster, legislation to make it easier for women to sue for equal pay, a bill to give the Food and Drug Administration the authority to regulate tobacco and an expansion of the federal health insurance program for children. Trump has signed 42 bills as of this week. (New York Times)

13/ Trump is fighting a demand that he testify in the suit by protesters that were roughed up at his rally. At a March 2016 event, Trump called out to the crowd to remove the three protesters, saying "get 'em out of here." The three were then physically attacked. Trump has attempted to get the suit dismissed on First Amendment grounds, as well as arguing that he is immune from civil lawsuits while serving as president. (Politico / Washington Post)

poll/ 76% of Americans are worried that the U.S. will become engaged in a major war in the next four years, jumping 10 points since February, when 66% of Americans said they were worried about military conflict. (NBC News)

poll/ 81% of Americans see North Korea as a threat to the U.S., including 66% who see it as a “serious” threat, up 12 points from 2005. 36% trust Trump’s ability to handle the situation, while 63% distrust him, and 40% trusting him “not at all.” (ABC News)

poll/ 12% of key Trump counties supported the GOP health care effort, while 41% said it was a bad idea. Among Trump voters specifically in these counties, 25% believe the House GOP health care bill is a good idea. (NBC News)

poll/ Hillary Clinton more unpopular than Trump. 39% of Americans view Hillary Clinton favorably, compared to 41% for Trump. Meanwhile, 58% have an unfavorable view of Clinton, compared to 55% who have an unfavorable view of Trump. (Bloomberg)

Day 179: White collar crimes.

1/ The Trump reelection campaign paid $50,000 to Trump Jr.'s attorney two weeks before the release of his emails. Alan Futerfas started representing Trump Jr. on July 10th, but was paid at least $50,000 on June 27th. Futerfas’s expertise is in white collar criminal defense, not political or election law. In total, Trump disclosed $677,826 in payments described as “legal consulting” between April and June. (Politico / The Daily Beast)

2/ Trump's lawyer blamed the Secret Service for vetting and allowing Trump Jr.'s meeting with the Russian lawyer. The Secret Service pushed back, saying that Trump Jr. was not a "protectee of the USSS in June, 2016. Thus we would not have screened anyone he was meeting with at that time." On ABC's "This Week," Jay Sekulow said: "Well, I wonder why the Secret Service, if this was nefarious, why the Secret Service allowed these people in. The President had Secret Service protection at that point, and that raised a question with me." (Reuters / CNN)

3/ Sean Spicer contradicted both Trump and Trump Jr. on the Russian lawyer meeting. Spicer said that “there was nothing as far as we know that would lead anyone to believe" that the meeting was about anything other than international adoption policy. The statement contradicts the contents of Trump Jr.'s email setting up the meeting. And, earlier in the day, Trump tweeted that "Most politicians would have gone to a meeting like the one Don jr attended in order to get info on an opponent. That's politics!" (The Daily Beast)

4/ Mitch McConnell delayed the Senate vote on the health care bill until John McCain returns from surgery where he had to remove a blood clot above his left eye. Neurosurgeons said McCain's recover could take a week or two. Rand Paul said the delay would strengthen critics’ position by giving them more time to mobilize against the bill. “The longer the bill is out there, the more conservative Republicans are going to discover it is not repeal,” he said. (New York Times / Washington Post)

  • McCain’s surgery will delay Senate votes on health care bill. McConnell said the Senate would “defer consideration” of the bill, scheduled for this week, because John McCain would be absent, recovering from surgery that he had to remove a blood clot above his left eye. (New York Times)

5/ The CBO will not release its updated score for the Senate health care plan today as planned. The Senate Budget Committee did not provide an explanation or when the analysis was expected, saying it will provide further information and updates as appropriate. (CBS News / Washington Post)

6/ Insurers called the Senate health care bill “simply unworkable in any form” and warned that it would cause major hardship for middle-class people with serious medical problems. America’s Health Insurance Plans and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association said “millions of more individuals will become uninsured." (HuffPost)

7/ The office of a Republican senator who's voiced concerns about GOP health care bill was burglarized. A note was found at Dean Heller's office that reportedly read, “Vote no on the health care bill or I will lose my health care and die, and you will, too." Heller has not said whether or not he will support the revised version of the bill. His seat is a top target for Democrats in 2018. (NBC News / Politico)

8/ Homeland Security will turn over Mar-a-Lago visitor logs. Citizens for Responsible Ethics in Washington filed suit with the National Security Archive and the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University for the logs of visitors from Mar-a-Lago, the White House and Trump Tower. DHS will release the logs by September 8th. (Politico)

9/ Trump tweets that his low poll numbers are "not bad at this time." His 36% approval rating means he has his base, and that’s it. (ABC News)

poll/ Americans prefer Obamacare to the Republican replacement by a 2-to-1 margin – 50% to 24%. More specifically, 77% of Democrats prefer Obamacare, while 59% of Republicans favor their party’s solution. (Washington Post)

poll/ 61% of Americans say the nation is headed down the wrong path and 55% now view Trump unfavorably. Both up 12 points since December. (Bloomberg)

poll/ Trump's job approval rating in counties that fueled his election victory stands at 50%, while 46 percent disapprove. (NBC News)

poll/ 36% of all Americans approve of Trump’s job performance, down 6 points from his 100-day mark, itself a low. The previous president closest to this level at or near six months was Gerald Ford, at 39%, in February 1975. (ABC News)

Day 176: Counterintelligence.

1/ A former Soviet counterintelligence officer attended the Trump Jr. meeting. The Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, was accompanied by Rinat Akhmetshin, a Russian-American lobbyist and former Soviet counterintelligence officer suspected by some US officials of having ongoing ties to Russian intelligence. The revelation brings the total in attendance to eight: Trump Jr., Kushner, Manafort, Veselnitskaya, Akhmetshin, publicist Rob Goldstone, who helped set up the meeting, and at least two other people: a translator and a representative of the Russian family who had asked Goldstone to set up the meeting. Senator Charles Grassley said Akhmetshin failed to register as a foreign agent even though he had been lobbying in the US for Russian interests. Grassley also said that Akhmetshin had been working with the opposition-research firm that compiled the highly disputed dossier on Trump. Akhmetshin has denied ever working as an intelligence agent. (NBC News / Associated Press / CNN / Washington Post)

  • Government watchdogs filed a complaint against Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort with the Federal Election Commission, arguing the three violated the law by meeting with a Russian who was offering damaging information on Hillary Clinton. The complaint said the emails provided evidence that Trump Jr. violated the law by asking a foreign national for something of value. (Reuters)
  • The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee fears Trump will pardon those convicted in Russia probe. "The possibility of presidential pardons in this process concerns me and also would be, I think, a really, really bad move," Mark Warner said. (The Hill)
  • Kushner was angry that the White House wasn't more aggressive in its defense of the Trump Jr. meeting. Kushner wanted the White House to complain about chyrons on cable news, call reporters to update stories with White House statements, and push out surrogates with talking points to change the narrative around the latest twist in the Russia scandal. Sean Spicer and other senior staffers have expressed reservations, saying it’s best to leave it to outside counsel. (Politico)

2/ The former intel officer was accused of hacking a Russian mining company and stealing documents. Court papers from 2015 say Rinat Akhmetshin was paid $140,000 to organize a public relations smear campaign targeting International Mineral Resources. Shortly after he began that work, IMR was hacked and gigabytes of data were allegedly stolen. Akhmetshin has denied the accusation, but admitted to passing around a “hard drive” filled with data on IMR’s owners he’d gotten from the former prime minister of Kazakhstan. The charges were later withdrawn. (The Daily Beast)

3/ Veselnitskaya presented the Trump team with documents that she believed showed people tied to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Clinton. Veselnitskaya brought a plastic folder with printed-out documents detailing the flow of illicit funds to the DNC and suggested that making the information public could help the Trump campaign. Trump Jr. said he did not receive the information he was promised. (Associated Press)

4/ The lawyer Trump Jr. met with was in contact with Russia's top prosecutor. Natalia Veselnitskaya said she wasn’t working for Russia, but regularly met with and shared information with the Russian prosecutor general’s office, which included Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika. Rob Goldstone, the British publicist who arranged the meeting, wrote in an email to Trump Jr. that Aras Agalarov had met with Russia’s "crown" prosecutor – Yuri Chaika – and offered to provide the Trump campaign with incriminating information on Clinton. Veselnitskaya said she asked Agalarov to help arrange the meeting with the Trump campaign. Both Veselnitskaya and Agalarov denied that the meeting was arranged at Chaika’s request. Agalarov also denied meeting with Chaika as described in Goldstone's email. (Wall Street Journal)

5/ Trump’s lawyers learned of Trump Jr.'s email chain more than three weeks ago. The White House has said Trump heard about the meeting "in the last couple of days" and hadn't see the emails until Trump Jr. released them. Trump's lawyer for the Russia investivation, Marc Kasowitz, and the chief legal officer for the Trump Organization, Alan Garten, were both informed about the emails in the third week of June, after they were discovered by lawyers for Kushner. (Yahoo)

6/ The White House is shaking up its legal team, bringing on board a veteran Washington criminal defense lawyer. Ty Cobb will join the White House staff as a special counsel to the president and will handle all legal and media-related issues relating to the Russia probe. Fun fact: The attorney is a relative of the baseball legend of same name. (Yahoo / Bloomberg)

7/ Kushner's lawyer dropped the Russia case and turned over all responsibilities to Kushner's other attorney, Abbe Lowell, a well-known Washington criminal defense lawyer. Jamie Gorelick will continue to represent Kushner on issues relating to ethics and his security clearance form. Gorelick was a partner at WilmerHale, where Bob Mueller was also a partner until becoming the special counsel. (Politico / National Law Journal)

8/ Homeland Security contradicted Trump's claim that Loretta Lynch let the Russian lawyer into the US. "DHS paroled Natalia Veselnitskaya into the U.S. in concurrence with the U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York, allowing her to participate in a client’s legal proceedings," the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement. In Paris, Trump said that "that her visa or her passport to come into the country was approved by Attorney General Lynch […] So, she was here because of Lynch." Almost immediately, a spokesperson for Lynch put out a statement insisting that she had no authority over whether or not the Russian lawyer was allowed to enter the country. (BuzzFeed News)

9/ A Hawaiian judge loosened Trump's travel ban, changing the definition of a "bona fide" relationship. The decision means that "grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins of persons in the United States" will now count as close family relationships and can gain entry into the country. (Wall Street Journal / CNN)

10/ Jeff Sessions said the Trump administration will appeal the latest travel ban ruling to the Supreme Court. Sessions said "the district court has improperly substituted its policy preferences for the national security judgments of the executive branch in a time of grave threats, defying both the lawful prerogatives of the executive branch and the directive of the Supreme Court." (Reuters / Politico / Associated Press)

11/ Trump's lawyer threatened a critic in a series of emails to "watch your back, bitch… I already know where you live." The email was in a response to a retired public relations professional sending Marc Kasowitz an email with the subject line: “Resign Now.’’ Kasowitz initially replied with "Fuck you," before sending series of angry messages. Kasowitz has since apologized, saying "the email [exchange] came at the end of a very long day." (ProPublica / Politico)

12/ Trump takes the upper hand in the Battle of the Handshakes with Macron, unleashing yet another awkward handshake that lasted for a 29-seconds. At one point, while still holding Macron's hand, Trump reached over to kiss Macron's wife, on her cheek and grabbed her hand as well, holding both Macron and his wife's hands at the same time. The never-ending handshake between Trump and the French president is par for the course between the two. In May, Macron out-Trump'd Trump in a "fierce" handshake that lasted six seconds. Yesterday, Trump greeted Brigitte Macron by tugging her hand around in the air. He later told the French first lady that she’s "in such good shape." (CNN)

poll/ 53% think Trump Jr.'s meeting with the Russian lawyer was inappropriate, while 22% thought it was appropriate and 25% were unsure. 47% of Republican respondents said the meeting was appropriate. (The Hill)

Day 175: Health care redux.

1/ Senate Republicans released their new Obamacare repeal bill. The new bill would maintain some Obamacare taxes on the wealthy, provide new financial support to help low-income people purchase health insurance, allow people to pay for insurance with pre-tax money, and spend $45 billion to fight opioid addiction. The plan also includes an amendment from Ted Cruz to win over conservatives aimed at building enough GOP support to open debate on the bill next week, but it's not clear if the votes will be there. The Cruz amendment would allow insurers offering Obamacare plans to also offer cheap, deregulated policies meant to appeal to conservatives. The change could drive away moderates who are concerned the amendment would cause premiums to spike for those with pre-existing conditions. The revised bill would provide an additional $70 billion in funds that states could use to make health care more affordable on top of the more than $100 billion already included. (Politico / CNN)

2/ At least three Senate Republicans will vote against the revised health bill. Susan Collins, Rand Paul, and Rob Portman all remain opposed. Collins said the deep cuts to Medicaid were standing in the way. “My strong intention and current inclination is to vote no on the motion to proceed,” Collins said. Mitch McConnell needs the support of 50 of his 52 members to pass the legislation. (Washington Post / Axios)

3/ Two Republican senators introduced an alternative health care plan moments before McConnell briefed senators on the revised bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The plan by Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy would keep most of Obamacare's federal taxes in place, but direct that money to the states to control. "We're going to support Mitch's effort with his new plan, but we want an alternative and we're going to see which one can get 50 votes," Graham said. "We're not undercutting Mitch, he's not undercutting us." (CNN / Politico)

4/ Senate Republicans exempt members of Congress and their staff from their latest health care plan. The exemption is similar to the loophole that existed in the House health bill, which the House voted to close. (Vox)

5/ Trump threatened to get "very angry" if Republicans fail to pass the health care bill. "I don't even want to talk about it because I think it would be very bad," Trump said in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network. “I am sitting in the Oval Office with a pen in hand, waiting for our senators to give it to me." (Washington Post / CNN)

6/ The DOJ issued a mostly blank security clearance form detailing Jeff Sessions’ contacts with the Russians. The form shows he denied having any contact with foreign governments or their representatives in the past seven years. The page, used to apply for a security clearance, was released in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. (NPR / The Atlantic)

  • Sessions gave a closed-door speech to a Christian religious freedom advocacy group known for its anti-gay stance. The "Summit on Religious Liberty" was hosted by the Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, claiming that to do so would violate his right to religious liberty under the Constitution. That case will be heard by the Supreme Court next term. (CNN)

7/ Trump, again, defended Trump Jr.'s meeting with a Russian attorney, saying that “zero” improprieties occurred in a meeting that “most people would have taken.” He added that “it’s called opposition research or even research into your opponent” as justification for the meeting with the "Russian government attorney." (Washington Post)

8/ The Senate judiciary committee asked Trump Jr. to testify. Chairman Chuck Grassley also said he wants former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort to testify before the committee as early as next week. (CNN)

9/ Sarah Huckabee Sanders claimed the White House is "as transparent as humanly possible" in an off-camera briefing. “Every single day we do our very best to give you the most accurate information that we have,” Sanders said in response to a question about why so many members of the administration have not divulged meetings they had with Russian individuals. (Politico)

10/ A 2013 video shows Trump attending dinner with the associates tied to Trump Jr.'s email controversy. Trump dined with Aras Agalarov and Emin Agalarov, and their publicist Rob Goldstone. Aras Agalarov has ties to Putin. In the 2016, Goldstone claimed to have damaging information against Hillary Clinton and setup the meeting between Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner with the Russian lawyer. (CNN)

11/ Pence’s press secretary repeatedly refused to say if the VP had met with any Russians during the campaign. "Clear up a few things for us now. Did the vice president ever meet with representative from Russia?” Bill Hemmer, host of Fox News' America’s Newsroom. “The vice president is not focused on the areas where, you know, on this campaign, especially things that happened before he was even on the ticket. As he has said, that when he joined the campaign his entire focus was on talking to the American people, taking the case that President Trump was going to make to the American people,” Pence’s spokesman Marc Lotter replied. (HuffPost)

12/ Trump won't say whether he believed Putin's denial of Russian meddling in the election. He did say, however, that he’s willing to invite Russian president to the White House. (Bloomberg)

13/ Trump’s friend Jim may not exist. Throughout the campaign, Trump mentioned a friend named Jim while linking immigration policies in Europe to increased terrorist attacks, particularly those in France. Trump has never given his last name. The White House has not responded about who Jim is or whether he will be on Trump's trip to Paris. Jim allegedly claimed that "Paris is no longer Paris" and they he no longer visits because the city has been infiltrated by foreign extremists. (Associated Press / HuffPost / The New Yorker)

14/ Trump claimed he's "done more in five months than practically any president in history." He added that the current mood in the White House is "fantastic," despite recent pressure following allegations of Trump Jr.'s involvement with Russia during last year's election campaign. (CNBC)

15/ Kellyanne Conway used flash card props to explain the Russia controversy and how the White House views the scrutiny of Trump's associates' ties to Russia. "What's the conclusion? Collusion? No. We don't have that yet. I see illusion and delusion," Conway said. (CNN)

16/ Trump told the French first lady that she’s "in such good shape." He then turned to French President Emmanuel Macron to affirm the fact, saying "She’s in such good physical shape," before looking back at Brigitte Macron to say “Beautiful.” Earlier in the day, Trump and Brigitte Macron shared an “awkward handshake." (NBC News)

17/ The CBO refuted Trump’s claim that his plan will balance the federal budget in a decade. The CBO did say that Trump's budget proposal would reduce the federal deficit over a decade, but the estimated deficit reduction would be lower than the administration's because the White House projects higher economic growth. (CNBC)

poll/ 65% of people that disapprove of Trump's performance say it's because of his character and personality. 16% say they disapprove of his work based on his policies and stances on issues. In contrast, Americans who disapproved of Obama's job performance during his first year in office focused mainly on his policies and stances on issues. (Gallup)

Day 174: Cyber operatives.

1/ Investigators are examining if Trump's digital operation helped guide Russia's election meddling. The digital team was overseen by Jared Kushner. The House and Senate Intelligence committees and the Justice Department are focusing on whether Trump’s campaign pointed Russian cyber operatives to certain voting jurisdictions in states that supported Hillary Clinton. (McClatchy DC)

  • The White House is under siege by Trump Jr.’s Russia revelations. The president is enraged that the Russia cloud still hangs over his presidency and, now, over his family. (Washington Post)

2/ Jared Kushner’s lawyers discovered Trump Jr.’s emails while reviewing documents. The team amended Kushner's clearance forms to disclose it, but Kushner still faces potential trouble because he currently works in the White House and neglected to mention the encounter on the forms he filled out for a background check to obtain a security clearance. (New York Times)

3/ The White House won’t say whether Jared Kushner still has a security clearance after he omitted the interaction with the Russian lawyer on his application for a security clearance. He later included the meeting on a supplemental form. Sarah Huckabee Sanders dodged the question, saying the White House has “never discussed the security clearance” of a staff member. (Talking Points Memo / CNN)

4/ Trump's lawyer said the President didn't see the emails until Trump Jr. released them. Jay Sekulow also said Trump was not aware Trump Jr. was offered information about Clinton from Russia. "The President, by the way, never saw an email – did not see the email – until it was seen today," Sekulow said, referring to Trump Jr.'s tweets containing copies of the email chain. Trump said he did not fault his son for holding the meeting. "I think many people would have held that meeting," he added. (CNN / Reuters)

5/ Trump’s other lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, isn't seeking a security clearance. Several lawyers who have represented presidents and senior government officials said they could not imagine how Kasowitz could handle a case full of sensitive material without a clearance. Kasowitz is Trump's attorney in the Russia investigations. (ProPublica)

6/ Kasowitz wants to wall off Jared Kushner from discussing the Russia investigation with Trump. The goal is to protect Trump from special counsel Bob Mueller's investigation into Kushner's three meetings with the Russians. Kasowitz has "complained that Kushner has been whispering in the president's ear about the Russia investigations […] while keeping the lawyers out of the loop." (Axios / New York Times)

7/ US intelligence overheard Russian officials discussing Trump associates before the campaign began. Starting in the spring of 2015, intelligence agencies detected conversations where Russian government officials discussed meetings with Trump business associates and advisers. It's not clear which Trump associates or advisers the Russians were referring to, or whether they had any connection to his presidential aspirations. (Wall Street Journal)

8/ Trump tweets that he has "very little time for watching T.V.," saying his "W.H. is functioning perfectly, focused on HealthCare, Tax Cuts/Reform & many other things." (Politico)

9/ An Iowa Republican wants to use funding from food stamps and Planned Parenthood to pay for Trump's border wall. Representative Steve King said the government needs to "ratchet back down" the number of Americans on food stamps and that he'd "find half a billion" of the $1.6 billion needed for the wall "from right out of Planned Parenthood's budget." (CNN)

10/ The State Department spent more than $15,000 for rooms at the Trump hotel in Vancouver. The 19 rooms booked represent the first evidence of State Department expenditures at Trump-branded properties since he took office in January. (Washington Post)

Day 173: "Incriminate Hillary."

1/ Trump Jr. was told – in an email – that the Russian government wanted to help the Trump campaign. The email was sent by Rob Goldstone, who brokered the June 2016 meeting with a Kremlin-connected lawyer – Natalia Veselnitskaya – that promised damaging information about Clinton as part of a Russian government effort to aid the Trump campaign. The meeting took place less than a week before thousands of DNC emails were released by hackers. Goldstone is a publicist who represents a Russian pop star, whose father – Aras Agalarov – helped bring Trump's 2013 Miss Universe pageant to Moscow. Agalarovis is also a close friend of Putin. (New York Times)

  • The Justice Department will look at Trump Jr.'s emails and meeting. Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigators plan to examine the meeting and email exchanges disclosed by Trump Jr. as part of the broader Russian-meddling investigation. (CNN)
  • Senators respond to Trump Jr.'s emails. Lindsey Graham called them "disturbing" and "very problematic," while Tim Kaine suggested Trump Jr. may have committed treason. (CNN / The Hill)
  • Trump's deputy assistant shrugged the news off. Sebastian Gorka said that getting dirt "is what political campaigns do." (CNN)
  • Trump Jr. may have crossed the legal line on collusion, a white-collar lawyer who represented officials in the Clinton White House said. Jeffrey Jacobovitz said the emails are firm evidence that Trump Jr. had intent to commit a crime by conspiring with the Russians "to commit election fraud or conspiracy to obtain information from a foreign adversary,” he said. “You cannot benefit from a foreign adversary in this kind of scenario.” (Washington Post)

2/ The email sent to Trump Jr. said the documents “would incriminate Hillary" and "would be very useful to your father.” Within minutes, Trump Jr. replied: “If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer." Four days later, Goldstone wrote back proposing a meeting with a “Russian government attorney.” Trump Jr. agreed, saying he would bring “Paul Manafort (campaign boss)” and “my brother-in-law,” Jared Kushner, now one of the president’s closest White House advisers. (New York Times)

3/ Trump Jr. tweeted out the email chain used to setup the meeting with the Russian lawyer. “To everyone, in order to be totally transparent, I am releasing the entire email chain of my emails," he wrote. “I first wanted to just have a phone call but when that didn’t work out, they said the woman would be in New York and asked if I would meet. […] To put this in context, this occurred before the current Russian fever was in vogue." (Politico)

4/ The White House said Trump didn't know about his son's meeting with the Russian lawyer. Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump learned of the meeting "in the last couple of days," adding that Trump Jr. "did not collude with anybody to influence the election." Kellyanne Conway denied evidence of collusion, saying "everybody is trying to convert wishful thinking into hard evidence and haven't been able to do that." (CNN / Politico / ABC News)

  • Trump promised big news about Clinton’s crimes in his Republican nominee victory speech, which occurred four days after Goldstone's first contact with Trump Jr. and two days before the meeting at Trump Tower on June 9th. "I am going to give a major speech on probably Monday of next week and we're going to be discussing all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons." (Talking Points Memo / Time)

  • Ten times Trump denied collusion with Russia. We can count at least 10 times when President Trump has directly said there was no collusion between Russia and his 2016 campaign. (NBC News)

5/ Trump called Trump Jr. a "high-quality person" after emails about the Russian lawyer and meeting were released. Sarah Huckabee Sanders held an off-camera press briefing to address the emails, which offer the most direct link between Trump’s campaign and the Russian government during the 2016 presidential campaign. She stood by her statement that there was no collusion, declining to clarify how the situation described in Trump Jr.’s emails was not collusion. (Politico)

6/ The Russian lawyer denied having any connection to the Kremlin or damaging information on Clinton. Veselnitskaya said she met with Trump Jr. in 2016 to discuss sanctions between Russia and the US. “I never had any damaging or sensitive information about Hillary Clinton. It was never my intention to have that,” Veselnitskaya said. “It is quite possible that maybe they were longing for such an information. They wanted it so badly that they could only hear the thought that they wanted.” Trump Jr. has confirmed that the meeting occurred, saying the topic of conversation was primarily about adoption. (NBC News)

7/ The man connecting Trump Jr. to the Russian lawyer checked in for the meeting at Trump Tower on Facebook. A screenshot from Rob Goldstone's Facebook page suggests he was at Trump Tower the day of the meeting. The caption reads “preparing for meeting.” (Business Insider)

8/ Trump's election commission freezes its effort to gather voter data from states as legal challenges grow. The panel's designated officer, Andrew Kossack, asked state elections officers to "hold on submitting any data." The panel asked states for voter data, including birth dates and the last four digits of voters' Social Security numbers. Most US states have rejected full compliance, which many called unnecessary and a violation of privacy. (Reuters)

9/ Mitch McConnell delayed the Senate's August recess in order to "complete action on important legislative items." The move comes as McConnell aims to pass the GOP health care bill, which has been "stalled by a lack of cooperation from our friends across the aisle." Disagreements within the caucus center on a conservative proposal from Mike Lee and Ted Cruz, which would allow the sale of cheap insurance plans outside of Obamacare’s regulatory structure. The next revision of the bill could be unveiled to as soon as Thursday, with a Congressional Budget Office score likely to follow as soon as Monday. The Senate will remain at work through the week of August 7th. (Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / Politico)

10/ Trump's secret political appointees are trying to scale back government regulations. In February, Trump signed an executive order requiring federal agencies to form deregulation teams, many of which are staffed by political appointees with deep industry ties and potential conflicts of interest, such as reviewing rules their previous employers sought to weaken or kill. Most government agencies have declined to disclose information about their deregulation teams and what the appointees are working on. (ProPublica / New York Times)

11/ Twitter users blocked by Trump sued him and two White House aides, arguing that his account amounts to a public forum that he cannot bar people from as a government official. Sean Spicer previously said Trump's tweets are official statements. (New York Times)

12/ Trump's state visit to the UK has been delayed until next year, citing "a scheduling issue," an official said. "Finding a date that works for everyone turned out to be difficult. We're looking at next year." (Reuters)

13/ Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner recruited two war profiteers to devise alternative options in Afghanistan to counter the Pentagon’s plan to send thousands of additional troops. Erik Prince, founder of the private security firm Blackwater Worldwide, and Stephen Feinberg, a billionaire financier who owns the giant military contractor DynCorp International, developed a proposal that relied on contractors instead of American troops. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis declined to include the outside strategies in his review of Afghanistan policy that he is leading along with the national security adviser, H. R. McMaster. (New York Times)

14/ Jared Kushner sought a half-billion dollar investment from Qatar's former prime minister a few months before Trump encouraged the blockade. He didn't get it and now Qatar is facing an ongoing blockade led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and joined by Egypt and Bahrain, which Trump has taken credit for sparking. Kushner reportedly played a key behind-the-scenes role in hardening the US posture toward the nation. (Bloomberg / The Intercept)

poll/ 58% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents think colleges hurt the country. 72% of Democrats say colleges and universities have a positive effect on the country. Overall, 55% think colleges and universities help the US. (The Hill)

Day 172: Damaging information.

1/ Donald Trump Jr. met with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer to acquire damaging information about Hillary Clinton in June 2016 at Trump Tower in New York City. On Saturday, Trump Jr. said the meeting was about the issue of US adoptions of Russian children and not the campaign. However, in March, Trump Jr. said he never met with any Russians while working in a campaign capacity. The meeting – attended by Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner – was disclosed when Kushner filed a revised form in order to obtain a security clearance. Manafort also recently disclosed the meeting, and Trump Jr.’s role in organizing it, to congressional investigators looking into his foreign contacts. (New York Times / Washington Post)

  • Putting the Trump-Russia timeline into perspective. This timeline of what now know is circumstantial evidence itself of some kind of relationship that the Trump campaign had with Russian sources. (NBC News)
  • Schiff: House Intelligence Committee "will want to question" Trump Jr. The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee said he will want to question Donald Trump Jr. after news came out that the President’s son met with a Kremlin-linked lawyer last June. (Talking Points Memo)

2/ Trump Jr.'s meeting may have violated a federal law prohibiting the solicitation or acceptance of anything of value from a foreign national. Trump Jr. admitted that the meeting was an attempt to acquire damaging information on Hillary Clinton. Despite the meeting not bearing any “meaningful information” about Clinton, solicitation itself is the offense. (Vox / Politico)

3/ Trump Jr. tried to downplay his meeting while hiring a lawyer to represent him in the Russia probe. He tweeted that "obviously I'm the first person on a campaign to ever take a meeting to hear info about an opponent." He added that there was "no inconsistency" in his two statements, saying the meeting ended up being primarily about adoptions. Trump Jr. hired Alan Futerfas, a criminal defense attorney that's represented organized crime and cybercrime cases. (ABC News / Reuters / BuzzFeed News)

  • Schumer: Trump Jr. should testify before Senate Intel. "This revelation should be the end of the idea pushed by the administration and the president that there is absolutely no evidence of an intent by the Trump campaign to coordinate or collude. It is certainly not proof positive … but these reports in the press at least demand further investigation," Schumer said from the Senate floor on Monday. (The Hill)

4/ The Kremlin denied knowing about Trump Jr.'s meeting with a Russian lawyer. A Putin spokesman said the Kremlin doesn't know the lawyer, adding that they “cannot keep track of every Russian lawyer and their meetings domestically or abroad.” (Washington Post)

5/ Trump backtracked on his push for a US-Russia cybersecurity unit, saying it cannot happen. On Sunday, Trump tweeted that he and Putin "discussed forming an impenetrable Cyber Security unit so that election hacking […] will be guarded." Just 12 hours later, Trump returned to Twitter to clarify his remarks, saying just because they discussed it "doesn't mean I think it can happen. It can't." (Politico / CNBC)

6/ Trump accused Comey of illegally leaking classified information. After Trump warned James Comey against leaking to the press, suggesting there are "tapes" of their private conversations, Comey asked a friend to leak his memos to the media which were an unclassified, a personal "recollection" of his interactions with Trump. There were seven memos by Comey after his nine conversations with Trump. Four were allegedly marked as “secret” or “confidential." (Washington Post / The Hill)

7/ Comey's confidant refuted Trump's claim he shared classified information with journalists. Daniel Richman, the Columbia University Law School professor with whom Comey shared at least one memo, said Trump was wrong and that "no memo was given to me that was marked 'classified.'" Richman said the "substance of the memo passed on to the Times was not marked classified and to my knowledge remains unclassified." During Senate testimony in June, Comey said he specifically wrote his memos to avoid including classified information. (CNN)

8/ Republicans grow pessimistic about their health care bill as Trump tweets that Congress wouldn't "dare" leave for summer recess without its "beautiful" health care bill. John McCain said the bill is "probably going to be dead." GOP leaders are debating a proposal from Ted Cruz that many have called a non-starter. Shelly Moore Capito has threatened to kill the legislation if the vote comes down to her. (The Hill / Reuters / Politico)

9/ Paul Ryan will no longer hold public town halls because he doesn't "want to have a situation where we just have a screaming fest, a shouting fest, where people are being bused in from out of the district to get on TV because they're yelling at somebody." (CBS News)

10/ Trump defended Ivanka's seat-holding at the G20, saying "If Chelsea Clinton were asked to hold the seat for her mother, as her mother gave our country away, the Fake News would say CHELSEA FOR PRES!" Clinton responded on Twitter: "Good morning Mr. President. It would never have occurred to my mother or my father to ask me." Ivanka sat in for Trump when he stepped away for a one-on-one discussion with other leaders. Ivanka serves as an unpaid adviser to Trump as the assistant to the president with an office in the West Wing, blurring the lines between family and official business. (CNN / Bloomberg)

11/ Putin said Trump was "satisfied" with his denial of election meddling. Putin told Trump that Russia was not behind the hacking of emails belonging to rival Hillary Clinton's campaign. Trump called it "a tremendous meeting" with Putin. (USA Today / Reuters)

12/ Mike Pence touched NASA equipment marked "DO NOT TOUCH" because Marco Rubio dared him. Rubio responded on Twitter, joking that he warned Pence not to break the equipment: "you break it, you own it." (Time)

Day 169: An honor to be with you.

1/ Trump tells Putin “it’s an honor to be with you" during their first face-to-face talk. “I’m delighted to meet you,” Putin replied. Their closed-door session lasted more than two hours, far longer than the expected 45 minutes. Six people attended the meeting: Trump, Rex Tillerson, Putin, Sergey V. Lavrov, and two interpreters. (New York Times)

2/ Putin denied election hacking after Trump "pressed" him. The two had a "robust" conversation about the allegations that Russia tried to interfere in the election, discussing a "commitment that the Russian government has no intention" of interfering in future elections. The Russians have asked the US for proof of their interference in the election. Tillerson said the meeting did not focus on punishing Russia for hacking and leaking information that helped Trump win the election. Instead, Tillerson said the two focused on “how do we move forward." (Washington Post / Associated Press / CNN)

3/ Trump tweets: "Everyone" at the G-20 summit is talking about why John Podesta wouldn't give the DNC server to the FBI and CIA. Podesta did not run the Democratic National Committee, he chaired Clinton's presidential campaign. Podesta fired back at Trump with tweets of his own, telling him to “Get a grip man, the Russians committed a crime when they stole my emails to help get you elected President. Maybe you might try to find a way to mention that to President Putin.” He added: "I had nothing to do with the DNC… Dude, get your head in the game. You’re representing the US at the G20.” A DNC spokeswoman tweeted that "1) Podesta never ran the DNC. 2) DNC worked with FBI to kick out Russians. Worked with DHS. 3) Putin make you tweet this before mtg?" (Politico / The Daily Beast / Associated Press)

4/ Russian spies have stepped up their intelligence-gathering efforts, emboldened by the lack of retaliatory response from both Trump and Obama. It's believed the Russians now have nearly 150 suspected intelligence operatives in the US. (CNN)

5/ Hackers have been targeting nuclear power plants in the US since May, according to a joint report issued by the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI. The report did not indicate whether the attacks were an attempt at espionage or part of a plan to cause destruction. (New York Times)

6/ The US and Russia reached a cease-fire deal in Syria, set to take effect Sunday at noon Damascus time. The agreement is part of broader discussions on trying to lower violence in the country. (Associated Press / Wall Street Journal)

7/ ICE officers were told to take action against all undocumented immigrants they encounter while on duty, regardless of their criminal histories. The Trump administration and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly had promised to ramp up enforcement of immigrants who pose a public safety threat. The new guidance goes beyond that promise. (ProPublica)

8/ A judge denied Hawaii's motion to limit the scope of Trump's travel ban. Hawaii argued that the travel ban wrongly excluded grandparents and relatives from the list of close family members who would be able to get visas to travel to the US. The motion was denied, saying the Supreme Court is the proper venue to deal with the issue. (NBC News)

9/ Trump still wants Mexico to "absolutely" pay for his border wall after meeting with Enrique Peña Nieto, Mexico's president. Nieto has insisted that Mexico will not pay for the border wall while Trump has floated alternative ideas, such as paying for the wall with solar panels. (Politico)

10/ Mitch McConnell: Republicans will be forced to compromise with Democrats to shore up Obamacare if he can't find 50 votes for the GOP health care bill. It's first time McConnell has raised the prospect of drafting a more modest bill with Democratic support. (Washington Post)

11/ Ted Cruz aligned himself with Trump, calling for a "clean repeal" of the ACA if the Senate bill falls apart. He said the Senate should vote on a narrower bill to simply repeal the law and work on a replacement later. (Washington Post)

12/ Republican lawmakers are buying health insurance stocks as they attempt to repeal Obamacare. Representative Mike Conaway and Senator James Inhofe have added health insurance companies to their portfolios worth as much as $30,000 and $100,000, respectively. (The Intercept)

poll/ 28.2% support the GOP health care bill – the most unpopular legislation in three decades. It's less popular than the Affordable Care Act when it was passed, the 2008 bank bailout bill, and Bill Clinton's failed health reform effort in the 1990s. (Axios)

Day 168: Will to survive.

1/ Trump downplayed Russian election meddling, saying it "could be Russia" but "nobody really knows for sure." He added that it "could’ve been other people and other countries," casting doubt on the conclusion of 17 US intelligence agencies and likening it to the incorrect assessment that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. He blamed Obama for not doing anything to stop the meddling. (Bloomberg / CNN / The Daily Beast)

2/ Trump to Russia: stop “destabilizing activities” and end support for “hostile regimes,” like Iran and Syria. The remark came during his speech in Poland the day before he meets with Putin for the first time. (New York Times / NBC News)

3/ Democrats are urging Trump to confront Putin, calling it a "severe dereliction of duty" not to do so. Five Senate Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, sent a letter to Trump telling him to "set the agenda from the start” with Putin “and make absolutely clear that Russian interference in our democracy will in no way be tolerated." (NBC News / Politico)

4/ Trump reaffirmed NATO's mutual defense clause, after failing to do so on his first Europe trip. He then called on allies to honored the agreement to contribute at least 2% of their GDP to their own defense. (CNBC / Washington Post)

5/ Trump asks "whether the West has the will to survive," saying military spending alone is not enough. He told the bused-in, friendly Polish crowd that “radical Islamic terrorism” has threatened “our civilization and our way of life," adding that "the fundamental question of our time" is whether "we have the confidence in our values to defend them at any cost? Do we have enough respect for our citizens to protect our borders? Do we have the desire and the courage to preserve our civilization in the face of those who would subvert and destroy it?” (New York Times)

6/ Meanwhile, the Trump Organization renewed its Russia-related domain names. TrumpRussia.com and TrumpTowerMoscow.com are just two of more than 1,000 domain names renewed by the organization, which has said it will not pursue any new foreign business deals while Trump is in the White House. (Politico)

7/ Trump vs North Korea: They're "behaving in a very, very dangerous manner." Trump said he could respond to the North's missile test with "some pretty severe things," declining to elaborate. (CNN)

8/ The voter fraud commission may have violated the law, by ignoring federal requirements governing requests for information from states. The failure is potentially significant, since states could argue it means they are under no obligation to respond. (The Hill)

9/ Steve Bannon's ally on the National Security Council has been reassigned. The move enables National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster to consolidate power by placing another staffer of his choosing on the council. (BuzzFeed News)

10/ Top White House aides have hired public relation staffs to support their own agendas instead of using the traditional White House policy and messaging operation. Kellyanne Conway, Steve Bannon, and Jared Kushner all have chiefs of staff, assistants, and PR people working for them in an effort to build up their own brands and policy portfolios. (Politico)

11/ 18 states are suing Betsy DeVos for delaying student loan regulations meant to protect borrowers from being defrauded by predatory schools. The regulations were finalized by the Obama administration and were set to take effect on July 1, but DeVos has delayed the implementation of the rules. (Politico)

12/ White House advisers have discussed using CNN as "leverage" in the AT&T-Time Warner merger. Time Warner is CNN's parent company. Trump’s Justice Department will decide whether to approve the merger. (New York Times)

13/ The government's ethics director resigns, saying rules need to be tougher. Walter Shaub Jr.'s resignation follows months of clashes with the White House over Trump's refusal to divest his businesses and the administration's delay in disclosing ethics waivers for appointees. He was the government’s top ethics watchdog. (New York Times / Washington Post / NPR)

poll/ A majority of Americans believe Trump has done something either illegal or unethical when it comes to Russia. 54% believe he has done something illegal or unethical, with 25% saying he has done something illegal and another 29% thinking he has done something unethical although not necessarily illegal. (NPR)

Day 167: Heart of the US.

1/ North Korea successfully fired an intercontinental ballistic missile. The test-launch came early Tuesday morning with the ICBM taking a steep trajectory to avoid flying over neighboring countries. The North’s state-run news agency said the missile was capable of hitting the “heart of the United States” with “large heavy nuclear warheads.” Experts don't believe the North can make a nuclear warhead small enough to be mounted on ICBMs, yet. If fired at a conventional trajectory, the missile was capable of flying for about 4,160 miles – not enough to reach the lower 48 states or the large islands of Hawaii, but within range of Alaska. American lawmakers have long seen the development of an ICBM as a critical threshold that North Korea shouldn't be allowed to cross. (Wall Street Journal / New York Times)

  • What can Trump do about North Korea? His options are few and risky. (New York Times)

2/ Trump tweets his reaction to North Korea's missile test: "Does this guy have anything better to do with his life?" He added that it's "hard to believe that South Korea and Japan will put up with this much longer. Perhaps China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!" (CNN)

3/ The US tells North Korea it's prepared to go to war if provoked. Rex Tillerson described the missile test as an escalation of the threat to the US and that the US "will never accept a nuclear-armed North Korea." The US and South Korea then conducted a live-fire drill, launching tactical surface-to-surface missiles off the east coast of Korea. "Global action is required to stop a global threat," Tillerson said, adding that any country helping North Korea "is aiding and abetting a dangerous regime." (CNN / Wall Street Journal)

4/ At least 44 states and DC have refused to comply with Trump's election integrity commission. In response, Trump tweeted that states are "trying to hide" things from his commission, which is seeking voter's full names, addresses, dates of birth, political parties, the last four digits of their social security numbers, voting history since 2006, military status, whether they lived overseas, and more. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who leads Trump's Commission on Election Integrity, sent a letter to all 50 states last week requesting the voter data, which will eventually be made available to the public. (CNN / Washington Post)

  • Trump’s voting commission asked states to hand over election data. Some are pushing back. (Washington Post)

5/ A federal court blocked the EPA's effort to suspend an Obama restriction on methane emissions from new oil and gas wells. The court concluded that the EPA could reconsider a 2016 rule limiting methane and smog-forming pollutants emitted by oil and gas wells, but couldn't delay the effective date while it rewrites the regulation. The EPA had proposed extending the initial delay to two years. (New York Times / Washington Post)

  • Scott Pruitt has moved to undo, delay or otherwise block more than 30 environmental rules, a regulatory rollback larger in scope than any other over so short a time in the agency’s 47-year history. (New York Times)

6/ Investigators are exploring if Russia colluded with far-right, pro-Trump sites during the election in order to spread bogus stories aimed at discrediting Hillary Clinton. The top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee said that at least 1,000 “paid internet trolls working out of a facility in Russia” were pumping anti-Clinton fake news into social media sites during the campaign. The head of Trump's digital team, Brad Parscale, has been asked to appear before the House intelligence committee. (The Guardian)

7/ Trump flew to Europe today, stopping in Poland where the government bused-in thousands to ensure a friendly, cheering crowd for his speech. In contrast, the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany is expecting up to 100,000 protesters. In London, mass demonstrations are expected when Trump makes his long-awaited state visit to the UK. (BBC / Associated Press)

8/ Trump's top aides are worried he'll get "boxed in" when he meets with Putin this week. After months of controversy involving Russia, foreign policy experts are starting to think Trump's actions have made it impossible to improve relations with Russia. Trump will meet with Putin on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg on Friday. (New York Times / Washington Post)

9/ The US denied visas for Afghanistan's all-girl robotics team. The six teenage Afghan inventors made a 500 mile trek to the American embassy in Kabul to interview for one-week travel visas so they could escort their robot to the inaugural FIRST Global Challenge. Teams from Iraq, Iran, and Sudan were all able to secure travel visas. Only team Afghanistan and team Gambia have been denied visas so far. (Forbes)

10/ Trump tweets a WrestleMania video of himself body-slamming CNN; calls it "MODERN DAY PRESIDENTIAL." The modified video from 2007 shows Trump attacking and subduing a figure whose face is obscured by a CNN logo. (The Hill)

  • Twitter says Trump's tweets don't violate its rules. Twitter said it considers three factors: the political context of the conversation surrounding the tweet, the various ways it could be interpreted and the lack of details in the tweet itself. (CNN)

11/ Trump used his Saturday night speech to continue his attack on the news media. “The fake media is trying to silence us," Trump said. "But we will not let them. Because the people know the truth. The fake media tried to stop us from going to the White House. But I’m president and they’re not.” (New York Times)

12/ NPR tweeted the Declaration of Independence. Trump supporters called it "propaganda." In 113 consecutive posts, NPR tweeted out the Declaration of Independence. Twitter users reacted angrily to the thread, accusing NPR of spamming them and trying to push an agenda. (BuzzFeed News / Washington Post)

poll/ 89% of Republicans view Trump as more trustworthy than CNN while 91% of Democrats think the opposite. Among all adults, trust for CNN is 7 points ahead of Trump. (Axios)

Day 162: Fraud.

1/ Trump’s voter-fraud commission asked all 50 states to turn over their full voter roll data for every voter in the US. The request includes a person's voting history, party affiliation, name, address, date of birth, last four of their Social Security number, and their voting history dating back to 2006. Trump created the commission to investigate the alleged 3 million to 5 million undocumented immigrants he claimed voted illegally in the 2016 election. There is no evidence this happened. The commission is chaired by Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state and a voter-fraud hardliner. (Washington Post)

  • Presidential commission demands massive amounts of state voter data. A commission created by President Donald Trump to enhance confidence in America’s elections has asked all 50 states for copies of their voter records which often include names, addresses and ages. The commission has said it intends to make the information widely available. (ProPublica)

2/ At least 24 states are refusing to turn over voter data to Trump's election panel. "At best this commission was set up as a pretext to validate Donald Trump’s alternative election facts, and at worst is a tool to commit large-scale voter suppression,” Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe said in a statement. (The Hill)

3/ Trump wants to "immediately" repeal Obamacare if the Senate health care bill fails. Trump tweeted that "If Republican Senators are unable to pass what they are working on now, they should immediately REPEAL, and then REPLACE at a later date!" Trump's tweet came minutes after Senator Ben Sasse said on Fox News: "We need repeal. We need replace. Trying to do them together hasn’t seemed to work." McConnell declined to comment on Trump's suggestion. (Axios / Politico / ABC News)

4/ Repealing Obamacare now would cause 18 million Americans to lose health coverage in the first year, which would reach 26 million a few years later. About 20 million people are covered now under the Obamacare markets or the law's Medicaid expansion. One GOP aide said the chances of repealing first and then replacing are "zero." Another added that it is "not going to happen." (Politico / Axios)

  • Senate health bill could hit employer-sponsored plans. A little-noticed provisions could cut four million people from employer coverage and boost out-of-pocket costs. (Wall Street Journal)

5/ A GOP opposition researcher sought Clinton's emails while claiming to represent Michael Flynn. Peter W. Smith considered Flynn an ally in his effort to contact hackers hoping to find the 33,000 personal emails deleted by Clinton. “He said, ‘I’m talking to Michael Flynn about this – if you find anything, can you let me know?’” said a computer security expert who searched hacker forums on Smith’s behalf. Smith, who died on May 14, supported Flynn’s efforts to establish relations with Russian officials. (Wall Street Journal)

6/ "Morning Joe" hosts suggest Trump tried to blackmail them with a National Enquirer hit-piece. On Friday's show, Joe Scarborough recounted a story where "three people at the very top of the administration" called and texted him to say the National Enquirer was going to run a negative story about him and Mika Brzezinski. "If you call the president up, and you apologize for your coverage," the officials said, "then [Trump] will pick up the phone and basically spike this story." In a Washington Post op-ed by Scarborough and Brzezinski today, the couple said that during the campaign, Trump called Mika “neurotic” and promised to personally attack them after the campaign ended. Trump is friends with David Pecker, the publisher of the National Enquirer. (CNN / Washington Post)

7/ Republicans and cable news talk shows denounced Trump's attack on Brzezinski, accusing him of demeaning women and his office. Republican lawmakers, from Paul Ryan to Lindsey Graham, reacted by making public pleas for Trump to stop the personal attacks. (CNN / Washington Post)

8/ Kellyanne Conway said the media's coverage of Trump is "neither productive nor patriotic" and supports Trump’s use of social media to attack his opponents. “I like the fact that the president uses social media platforms to connect directly with Americans and in this case," Conway said. "What [White House spokeswoman] Sarah Sanders said yesterday is true, that the president normally does not draw first blood. He is a counterpuncher as he said on the campaign trail." (Politico)

9/ Trump appoints an anti-transgender activist to the office of Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment. In 2016, Bethany Kozma campaigned to oppose the Obama's guidance to public schools that transgender students have the right to use bathrooms matching their gender identity, repeating an unsubstantiated assertion the policy leads to sexual assault. (BuzzFeed News)

10/ The White House council for women and girls has been silently disbanded while the administration evaluates whether to keep the office. Obama’s White House Council on Women and Girls was created in 2009 to monitor the impact of policy changes and liaise with women's groups. (Politico)

11/ Scott Pruitt is launching an initiative to "critique" climate science at the EPA. Pruitt's stated that he believes the climate is changing and humans have some role, but is skeptical that greenhouse gases are the primary cause of climate change, despite overwhelming scientific consensus. (Climatewire / The Hill)

12/ The House intelligence committee to interview another former Trump adviser in its Russia probe. Michael Caputo, a former Trump campaign communications adviser, has agreed to come before the committee next month. Caputo once worked in Moscow and has connections to Russia. He has denied any collusion with Russian officials. (CNN)

13/ A Russian-funded radio station replaced a bluegrass station in DC. 105.5 FM now broadcasts Sputnik, a “global wire, radio and digital news service" funded by the Russian government. (DCist)

14/ NASA denied that it's running a child slave colony on Mars. An Alex Jones guest alleged the space agency had kidnapped children and sent them on a two-decade mission to space… (The Daily Beast)

Day 161: Low IQ.

1/ Trump assailed television host Mika Brzezinski on Twitter for "bleeding badly from a face-lift." Trump targeted both Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough in a pair of morning tweets, referring to Brzezinski as "low I.Q. Crazy Mika" and Scarborough as "Psycho Joe." He then opined on the physical appearance of Brzezinski, saying he declined meeting with the pair at Mar-a-Lago during the winter because "she was bleeding badly from a face-lift." Brzezinski responded in a tweet of her own, mocking Trump's "little hands." Brzezinski and her fiancé Scarborough are co-hosts of the MSNBC show “Morning Joe." About two hours before his tweets, Brzezinski said on the show that “it’s not normal behavior” for any leader to tweet about a person's appearances, bully, lie, undermine managers, or throw people under the bus. (CNN / New York Times / The Daily Beast / Associated Press)

  • Trump knocked CNN and Nancy Pelosi at his first re-election fundraiser, hosted at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. He derided CNN for errors and presented himself as a victim of its reporting, which he said was deeply unfair. (Politico)
  • The White House defended Trump’s tweets about Brzezinski. (Think Progress)

2/ The White House offered an unapologetic defense of Trump's tweets. Sarah Huckabee Sanders responded to questions by reporters about Trump’s inflammatory tweets, saying “The only person I see a war on is this president and everybody that works for him. I don’t think you can expect someone to be personally attacked, day after day, minute by minute, and sit back. The American people elected a fighter.” (The Hill)

3/ Paul Ryan called Trump's tweet attacking Brzezinski inappropriate. “I don’t see that as an appropriate comment,” Ryan said at a press conference. (Politico)

4/ Rex Tillerson ripped a White House aide for sinking his nominees, questioning his judgment, and leaking to the press. A frustrated Tillerson ripped into Johnny DeStefano, head of the presidential personnel office, in front of Reince Priebus, Jared Kushner and others, saying he did not want DeStefano’s office to “have any role in staffing” and “expressed frustration that anybody would know better” than him about who should work in his department. Kushner called the outburst unprofessional. (Politico)

5/ Trump's travel ban takes effect at 8PM ET today. Visa applicants from the six countries — and all refugees — will be required to show close family or business ties to the US. Grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, fiancees or other extended family members are not considered to be "close relations." (Washington Post / New York Times)

6/ New CBO analysis: The Senate health bill would reduce Medicaid spending by 35% by 2036 compared to the current law. By 2026, Medicaid spending would be cut by 26%. (Washington Post)

7/ Putin will meet with Trump on the sidelines of the G20 summit next week in Hamburg. Trump asked White House aides to come up with possible concessions to offer as bargaining chips for the meeting. No other meetings are planned between the two. (Reuters / The Guardian)

8/ The House Intelligence Committee wants to talk to Trump’s longtime bodyguard-turned-White House aide as part of their investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign. Keith Schiller is the former head of security for the Trump Organization and now serves as the White House director of Oval Office operations. He's been at Trump’s side for nearly 20 years. (ABC News)

9/ Pence is replacing his chief of staff with Nick Ayers, one of the leaders of America First Policies, which ran retaliatory ads against a Republican Senator who opposed the Obamacare repeal plan. (New York Times)

poll/ 42% of Americans feel "alarmed" about how things are going in Washington. 33% feel "uneasy" while just 11% are "excited." (USA Today)

Day 160: Failing fake news.

1/ Trump and the White House intensify their war on the media. It started with Trump tweeting about a "failing" New York Times story suggesting he was detached from the effort to overhaul the health care bill. He called the story false and said the Times didn't call for a comment. The Times responded saying they did call – as they always do. (CNN)

2/ Later, Trump tweeted that the "FAKE NEWS" Washington Post is the "guardian of Amazon" for taxes purposes. Amazon doesn’t own the newspaper. It's privately owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. There is no federal “internet tax.” Fake news. (Politico / Recode)

3/ Mitch McConnell wants to send a revised version of the health care bill to the CBO by Friday, in an effort to hold a vote before the August recess. Trump teased that “a big surprise” could be coming in the effort to repeal and replace Obamacare, suggesting that Senate Republicans are “going to get at least very close” to passing their health care bill. It's unclear if Trump even knows what's in the Senate bill. When asked by reporters if Trump understood the details, McConnell ignored the question and smiled. (Washington Post / Politico / New York Times)

4/ An estimated 208,500 additional deaths could occur by 2026 under the Senate health plan, based on the study of the effects of health care reform in Massachusetts on mortality. The authors found that for every 830 individuals insured, one life was saved. 14 million Americans could lose their health insurance in 2018 and 22 million by 2026, the CBO projects. Using state-level coverage losses and the findings of the study, it's estimated that 22,900 excess deaths would occur in 2020 and grow to 26,500 extra deaths by 2026. [Editor's Note: there's some obvious nuance here and it's recommended you read the entire article to fully grasp the potential impact of the health care bill on mortality] (Vox)

5/ Trump's advisers are struggling to convince him that Russia still poses a threat. There is no paper trail – schedules, readouts or briefing documents – to indicate Trump has dedicated time to the issue. He has, however, continued to tweet about Obama failing to stop Russian meddling in the election. Trump has repeatedly blamed the Democratic National Committee, China, and "someone sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds" for election-related cyberattacks. (CNN)

6/ Trump’s lawyer postponed filing a complaint about Comey and his memos in what Trump considered to be an illegal “leak." Marc Kasowitz, however, still intends to file the complaint with the Justice Department. He has delayed it as a courtesy to Robert Mueller and his investigation, which Trump has repeatedly called a "witch hunt." Trump has also refrained from publicly criticizing the special counsel lately as part of his legal team’s approach to reducing further confrontation. (Bloomberg)

7/ Paul Manafort's consulting firm received more than $17 million from a pro-Russian Ukrainian political party. In Manafort's retroactive registration as a foreign agent, he indicated that he was retained by the Party of Regions to advise Ukrainian officials in their dealings with American government officials. The report makes Manafort the second former senior Trump adviser to disclose work for foreign interests. Michael Flynn was the other. (New York Times / Bloomberg / Washington Post)

8/ Trump tapped the lawyer that helped draft the Patriot Act for the top State Department role. If confirmed, Jennifer Newstead would serve as the State Department’s top legal adviser, overseeing issues involving foreign policy and security, as well as playing a key role in justifying the use of military force, how to apply the laws of war to cyber attacks, determining what represents a military coup, and more. The Patriot Act was amended in 2015 after years of criticism from civil liberties groups that it violated Americans’ privacy. (BuzzFeed News)

9/ The FBI interviewed at least a dozen employees of a Russia-based cyber-security company, gathering facts about how Kaspersky Lab works, including to what extent the US operations report to Moscow. Kaspersky has long been of interest to the US government, whose founder graduated from the KGB-backed Institute of Cryptography, Telecommunications, and Computer Science. Kaspersky Lab paid former national security adviser Michael Flynn $11,250 in 2015 for cyber security consulting. (NBC News)

10/ The computer system of at least one US nuclear plant was hacked. There is no evidence that any sensitive or operational systems were breached. Authorities have not said who may be responsible, but agencies are looking at the possibility that another country may be behind the hack. (ABC News)

11/ Fox News hired Jason Chaffetz to provide political analysis. In May, Chaffetz announced that he he would resign from Congress to pursue other opportunities. His congressional job ends Friday and will start his role at Fox on July 1. (The Daily Beast / The Hill)

poll/ 17% of Americans approve of the Senate's health care plan, according to a NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll. 55% disapprove. (NPR)

poll/ 16% of American voters support the Republican health care plan, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll. 58% disapprove. (Quinnipiac University)

poll/ 12% of Americans support the Senate Republican health care plan, a USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll finds. 53% say Congress should either leave Obamacare alone or fix its problems while keeping the framework intact. (USA Today)

In a word, not good.

Day 159: Delayed.

1/ Mitch McConnell delayed the Republican health care vote until after the July 4th recess as they search for the 50 votes needed to start debate on the bill. McConnell told GOP senators that he wants to make changes to the bill, get a new Congressional Budget Office score, and have a vote after the holiday. Meanwhile, Trump has invited all Senate Republicans to the White House to discuss the health care bill. The senators-only meeting is scheduled for 4PM EST at the White House. (Politico / CNN)

2/ The Senate health care bill is "hanging by a thread" as Republicans struggle to find the votes needed. At least six Republican senators are currently opposed to the bill: Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Ron Johnson, Dean Heller, and Susan Collins. Republicans can only lose two votes from their own party and still pass the bill. It's been Pence's team – not Trump – that has played the prominent role in trying to whip up votes this week. Stephen Bannon and Reince Priebus have been all but sidelined. (New York Times / CNN / NBC News)

  • The CBO estimates that 22 million more people would be uninsured under the Senate bill, leaving Mitch McConnell with less than the 50 votes he'd need for a procedural motion to bring his health care bill to the floor. (Axios)
  • The equivalent of 16 states' populations could lose insurance under the Senate health care bill. 22 million people is equal to the total population of 16 US states. (Washington Post)

3/ McConnell: If Obamacare repeal fails, Republicans will be forced to compromise with Democrats. Failure to repeal the health care law would mean the GOP would lose its opportunity to do a partisan rewrite and have to enter into bipartisan negotiations with Democrats to save the failing insurance markets. Democrats will want to retain as much of Obamacare as possible. (Politico)

  • After the CBO score, Republicans can divvy up nearly $200 billion to secure votes for the health care bill. It's "all about side deals" one Senate aide said. (Politico)

4/ The White House warned Syria that it would “pay a heavy price” if it carried out another chemical attack. The Pentagon said it detected “active preparations” similar to those that occurred before the chemical attack in April. Several military officials were caught off guard by the White House statement. (Associated Press / Washington Post / New York Times)

5/ Trump's lawyer directed millions in nonprofit donations to family members. Since 2000, Jay Sekulow has steered more than $60 million to his family and their businesses after pushing poor and jobless people to donate money – a “sacrificial gift" – to his Christian nonprofit. The nonprofit has raised tens of millions of dollars a year, mostly in small amounts from Christians who receive direct appeals for money from telemarketers. (The Guardian)

6/ At least 10 Trump aides have hired lawyers for the Russia probe, or are planning to do so. Inside the White House, Trump, Pence, and Kushner have hired private attorneys, as have former campaign advisers Michael Caputo, Boris Epshteyn, and Roger Stone, among others. (Wall Street Journal)

  • Jared Kushner has hired Abbe Lowell, a leading criminal defense lawyer. Kushner has also kept his current lawyer, Jamie Gorelick, who was a partner at WilmerHale, where Bob Mueller was a partner until becoming the special counsel. (New York Times / Politico)

7/ Congressman making $174k wants a 17% pay raise. Jason Chaffetz wants to give House and Senate lawmakers a $2,500 per month allowance to subsidize lawmakers’ housing costs in D.C., which would cost about $16 million a year for all 535 congressional members. (The Hill)

8/ The Pentagon could cancel enlistment contracts for 1,000 foreign-born recruits, putting them at risk of deportation. The recruits have seen their visas expire while waiting for basic training leaving them without legal immigration status. They were recruited into a program designed to award fast-tracked citizenship in exchange for needed medical and language skills. (Washington Post)

9/ North Korea compared Trump to Hitler, likening Trump's “America First” policy to “Nazism in the 21st century." (Wall Street Journal)

10/ Sarah Huckabee Sanders lectured reporters about the "constant barrage of fake news" by the media. She then promoted a video by James O'Keefe, a journalist known for his deceptive video editing and interview tactics, who released an undercover video where a CNN producer called the network's Russia coverage "mostly bullshit." She conceded that she did not know "whether it's accurate or not," then added that "if it is accurate, I think it's a disgrace to all of media, to all of journalism." (Washington Post / Politico / HuffPost)

11/ Trump tweeted that CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC, The New York Times, and The Washington Post are all "fake news" after CNN retracted a story tying a member of Trump’s transition team to the ongoing Russia investigations. (Politico)

13/ Sean Spicer barred TV cameras and live audio broadcasts from Monday's media briefing. Spicer has allowed question-and-answer sessions with reporters to be televised just six times in the past six weeks. A reporter asked, "Why are the cameras off, Sean?" Spicer's eventual answer: "Some days we'll have them, some days we won't. The President is going to speak today in the Rose Garden. I want the President's voice to carry the day." (Washington Post)

14/ The EPA, the Army, and the US Army Corps of Engineers are proposing a new rule to rollback Obama's Waters of the United States. Scott Pruitt's EPA has prioritized the economic concerns of industry and agricultural interests over environmental concerns. (Wall Street Journal)

  • The EPA chief of staff pressured the top scientist to alter her congressional testimony and play down the dismissal of expert advisers. Deborah Swackhamer, who leads the EPA's Board of Scientific Counselors, was told to stick to the agency’s “talking points” on the dismissals of several members of the scientific board. (New York Times)

15/ Rick Perry wants an "intellectual conversation" about the impacts of humans on the climate. While Perry said he believes in climate change, he doesn't believe carbon dioxide is the main driver of climate change, putting him at odds with climate scientists. (Politico)

poll/ More people worldwide have confidence in Putin than Trump. Just 22% have confidence in Trump to do the right thing when it comes to international affairs, down from 64% who had confidence in Obama, and compared to 27% for Putin. Globally, the US favorability rating has decreased from 64% at the end of Obama’s presidency to just 49%. (Pew Research Center)

Day 158: Reinstated.

1/ The Supreme Court partly reinstated Trump's travel ban. The administration may now impose a 90-day ban on travelers from Libya, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen and a 120-day ban on all refugees entering the US, as long as they lack a “credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.” Trump said the court’s decision to hear arguments on the travel ban cases in October was a “clear victory” for national security and will go into effect in 72-hours. Three justices — Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch — said they would have let the complete ban take effect while the court considers the case. (Associated Press / Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

2/ Trump will meet with Putin in Germany next month. Trump wants a full bilateral meeting, while the State Department and National Security Council are urging for restraint. All 17 US intelligence agencies have agreed Russia was behind the hack of DNC's email and tried to influence the election to benefit Trump. A former KGB general said Putin has “other priorities” than discussing the accusations that Russia hacked the election, such as easing sanctions, raising oil prices, as well as next year’s presidential elections in Russia. (Associated Press)

3/ A Russian government official making $75,000 per year spent nearly $8 million on Trump condos in South Florida. There is also no public disclosure of Igor Zorin's properties in Russia, which is illegal under Russian law. None of Zorin’s property purchases used bank financing, meaning he most likely paid cash. He made roughly $75,000 in 2015 and $159,000 in 2016. In one sale, a Florida company transferred a condo valued at $1.5 million to Zorin. No deed of sale was recorded, meaning the price paid — if any — is unknown. (Miami Herald)

4/ Russia is recalling Sergey Kislyak as the FBI and Congress continue to investigate the 66-year-old diplomat’s contacts with Trump’s team during the 2016 presidential campaign. Kislyak spent nearly 10 years at the center of US–Russia relations. (BuzzFeed News)

5/ The Trump administration has done little to prevent Russian hacking in the next election. Trump has shown no interest about how to prevent future election interference. Comey testified that Trump never asked him about how to stop a future election attack, while Jeff Sessions, who sits on the National Security Council, testified that he has not received a classified briefing on Russian election interference. Sean Spicer has never addressed the topic with Trump, either. Despite blaming the 2016 hacks on Obama, Trump hasn't said what he would do to stop Russian hacking. (NBC News)

6/ The Senate health bill would leave 22 million more uninsured by 2026, slightly lower than the 23 million the House bill was projected at. 15 million more people would become uninsured next year compared to the current law. The federal deficit would decrease by $321 billion over a decade, compared to $119 billion for the House’s version. (New York Times / Washington Post)

7/ White House allies are retaliating against a Republican Senator who opposes the Obamacare repeal plan. America First Policies launched a $1 million attack against Dean Heller to both punish and sway his vote. (Politico)

8/ Trump confirmed that he called the health care bill "mean" and then accused Obama of stealing his term. Last week Obama said the Senate health care bill "will do you harm.”, adding that  there is a "fundamental meanness" to the Republican health care bill. In a Fox and Friends interview, Trump took credit. "Well he actually used my term, 'mean.' That was my term," he said. "Because I want to see – and I speak from the heart – that's what I want to see, I want to see a bill with heart." (CNN)

9/ Kellyanne Conway suggested people who lose Medicaid coverage could find jobs to provide health insurance. Projections show the Senate health bill would cut Medicaid by $800 billion, which Conway asserted is not a cut, but rather "getting Medicaid back to where it was." (CNBC / ABC News)

10/ Senate Republicans are skeptical their health care bill can pass this week. Republicans say the biggest problems with the Obamacare repeal bill are its steep Medicaid cuts and effects on older Americans’ premiums. “There's no way we should be voting on this” before the recess, Senator Ron Johnson said, urging party leaders to “not rush this process.” (Politico)

11/ Trump tweets that Democrats are "OBSTRUCTIONISTS" and that Obama “colluded or obstructed” on Russia. Here is Trump's full tweetstorm: "The Democrats have become nothing but OBSTRUCTIONISTS, they have no policies or ideas. All they do is delay and complain.They own ObamaCare! The reason that President Obama did NOTHING about Russia after being notified by the CIA of meddling is that he expected Clinton would win and did not want to 'rock the boat.' He didn't 'choke,' he colluded or obstructed, and it did the Dems and Crooked Hillary no good. The real story is that President Obama did NOTHING after being informed in August about Russian meddling. With 4 months looking at Russia under a magnifying glass, they have zero 'tapes' of T people colluding. There is no collusion and no obstruction. I should be given apology!" (CNN / The Daily Beast)

12/ Kushner finalized a $285 million loan from a bank trying to settle a federal mortgage fraud case and charges that it aided a possible Russian money-laundering scheme. The loan came a month before the election and both cases were settled in December and January. Deutsche Bank is Trump’s biggest lender. (Washington Post)

13/ Ivanka Trump, senior adviser to the president: "I try to stay out of politics," gives him "an A, of course" for his performance. She's met with senators to discuss paid family leave, delivered the keynote at the Republican National Convention, and has met with world leaders. She added that her father has "phenomenal" political instincts. (ABC News / Politico / CNN)

14/ Trump drives his golf cart on the green. Doesn't care. Does it all the time. (Washington Post)

Day 155: Bothersome.

1/ Obama weighed pre-election retaliation against Moscow for the Russian assault on the US election. The Obama administration debated dozens of options for deterring or punishing Russia, including cyberattacks on infrastructure, the release of CIA material to embarrass Putin, and sanctions that could “crater” the Russian economy. Instead, he expelled 35 Russian diplomats and closed two compounds. Obama also approved an operation in late December to embed "digital bombs" in Russia’s infrastructure that could be detonated if the US found itself in an escalating exchange with Moscow. The project was still in its planning stages when he left office, leaving Trump to decide whether to use the capability. “It is the hardest thing about my entire time in government to defend,” a former senior Obama official said. “I feel like we sort of choked.” (Washington Post)

2/ Trump denied obstructing Comey's FBI probe in a Fox & Friends interview. He said his tweet hinting of "tapes" was intended to influence Comey's testimony before Congress, suggesting it was possible that anyone could have taped their discussions. "With surveillance all over the place,” Trump said in the interview, “…you never know what’s out there, but I didn’t tape, and I don’t have any tape and I didn’t tape.” (New York Times / Reuters)

3/ Trump called Preet Bharara the day before dozens of US attorneys were asked to resign. The now former US Attorney sent an email to the Justice Department expressing his concern about a voicemail he received from Trump’s secretary. "It appeared to be that [Trump] was trying to cultivate some kind of relationship," Bharara said. "…It's a very weird and peculiar thing for a one-on-one conversation without the attorney general." Bharara refused to resign, and was firedthe following day. (BuzzFeed News)

4/ The director of national intelligence told House investigators that Trump seemed obsessed with the Russia probe and repeatedly asked him to publicly acknowledge there was no evidence of collusion. At a Senate hearing earlier this month, Dan Coats said Trump never  pressured him to do anything inappropriate, but refused to confirm or deny allegations that Trump asked him to push back against the FBI probe into collusion between the campaign and the Russian government. (NBC News)

5/ Trump: It's "bothersome" that Robert Mueller is "very, very good friends with Comey." He added that “there’s been no collusion, no obstruction, and virtually everybody agrees to that" and that Mueller's team of lawyers are "all Hillary Clinton supporters." (ABC News)

6/ Frustrated by the Russia probe, Trump loses patience with his White House lawyer. Trump took Don McGahn to task in the Oval Office for not doing more to squash the Russia probe early on despite having handed over the Russia investigation to his personal attorney Marc Kasowitz. (Politico)

7/ West Wing aides struggle to keep Trump calm on Russia. His new morning routine begins at 6:30 AM with a venting session with his outside legal team in an effort to prevent the Russia probe from consuming him all day. (Washington Post)

8/ Art of the Deal: Carrier is preparing to lay off 600 employees next month as Trump's deal fails to live up to the hype. Carrier will continue to employ at least 1,069 people at their  plant for 10 years in exchange for up to $7 million in incentives. But, only 730 of those positions are the manufacturing jobs that were at the heart of the debate. The rest are technical jobs that were never scheduled to be cut. (CNBC)

9/ The FBI is investigating business deals involving Paul Manafort and his son-in-law. Manafort helped finance a series of real estate deals by Jeffrey Yohai, who has been accused of defrauding investors. Manafort was Trump’s campaign chairman until reports surfaced that he had received millions of dollars off-the-book for his consulting work in Ukraine. (New York Times)

10/ Trump proposed a law that's existed for 20 years. During his rally on Wednesday, Trump called for a new law barring immigrants from receiving welfare for at least five years. Clinton signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act in 1996. The law prevents immigrants from receiving federal benefits, such as food stamps, Medicaid, and Social Security for five years after entering the country. (USA Today)

11/ The White House is frustrated with Rex Tillerson's deliberate approach to hiring at the State Department. Tillerson is more concerned about setting the State Department up for success, rather than satisfying the White House's desire to place Republican appointees in the numerous vacant positions. (Washington Post)

poll/ 13% of US adults have a favorable opinion of Putin, down from 22% in February. Putin's unfavorable rating stands at  74%. (Gallup)

poll/ More Americans believe Comey over Trump. 45% say they believe Comey's version of events compared to 22% who believe Trump more. (NBC News)

Day 154: Win, win, win.

1/ The Senate unveiled its health care bill today. It's similar to the House bill that passed last month, but with changes aimed at pleasing moderates: linking federal insurance subsidies to income, curbing Medicaid expansion, and ending the mandate that most Americans have health insurance. Mitch McConnell has vowed to hold a vote before senators go home for the July 4th recess, but he is still short the 50 votes he needs to pass the legislation. (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / Politico)

  • What's in the Senate Republican health care bill. Like the House version, McConnell’s proposal would slash taxes, cut Medicaid, and eliminate Obamacare’s insurance mandates for individuals and employers. (The Atlantic)
  • The GOP health plan is really a Medicaid rollback. It would also permanently restructure Medicaid, which covers tens of millions of poor or disabled Americans, including millions who are living in nursing homes with conditions like Alzheimer’s or the aftereffects of a stroke. (New York Times)

2/ Obama said the Senate health care bill "will do you harm.” In a nearly 1,000-word critique, Obama framed the GOP health care plan as fundamentally inhumane. “The Senate bill, unveiled today, is not a health care bill,” he wrote. “It’s a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America." (Barack Obama / HuffPost / Washington Post)

3/ Four Republican senators say they will not vote for the GOP health care bill unless changes are made, putting passage of the bill at risk hours after it was unveiled. In a statement, Ted Cruz, Ron Johnson, Mike Lee, and Rand Paul said they are "not ready" to support the measure. They are open to negotiating changes to win their support. (Politico / NBC News / Washington Post / ABC News)

  • Where Senators stand on the health care bill. It needs at least 50 votes to pass. Every Democrat is expected to oppose the bill, which means three Republican “no” votes would block it. (New York Times)

4/ The White House refused to say if Trump will support the Senate health care bill. Trump previously called the House health care bill "mean" and wanted the Senate version to be "more generous." (Politico)

5/ Trump tweets that he didn't tape his conversations with Comey after all. In May, Trump warned Comey against leaking to the press, suggesting there were "tapes" of their private conversations. Soon after reports surfaced of memos Comey had written detailing Trump's effort to shut down the Michael Flynn investigation. Today, Trump tweeted that "with all of the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking and illegal leaking of information, I have no idea whether there are "tapes" or recordings of my conversations with James Comey, but I did not make, and do not have, any such recordings." (NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post)

  • Trump's tease of possible Comey tapes fits familiar pattern. In 2011, Trump promised to reveal what his private investigators had found in Hawaii about Obama's birth certificate. He never released anything. (Associated Press)

6/ Two of the top intelligence officials told Robert Mueller that Trump suggested they refute collusion with the Russians. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers described the interaction as odd and uncomfortable, but that they don't believe Trump gave them orders to interfere. The two repeatedly refused to say whether Trump asked them to intervene in the Russia probe during their public Senate intelligence committee testimony. (CNN)

7/ Trump at Iowa rally: "All we do is win, win, win." He then blamed Democrats for his problems, boasted about his "amazing progress," and called the Russia investigation a "phony witch hunt" at his campaign-style rally in Cedar Rapids last night. During the 70-minute speech, Trump promised to lay out the next steps in “our incredible movement to make America great again," but continually veered off on tangents, reflected on the past, and contradicted himself. He knocked trade deals the Iowa economy relies on, dismissed wind energy in a state filled with thousands of turbines, and denounced the war in the Middle East despite reauthorizing troops in Afghanistan. Trump also revealed his plan for putting solar panels on his proposed border wall "so it creates energy and pays for itself." (New York Times / Washington Post / CBS News)

8/ Trump: "I just don't want a poor person" in charge of the economy.  "When you get the president of Goldman Sachs, smart," Trump told the crowd at his Cedar Rapids rally. During the campaign, Trump frequently bashed the investment bank for having too much influence in politics. Trump has one of the wealthiest Cabinets in history. (CNN)

9/ House Democrats want to suspend Jared Kushner's security clearance. Kushner's previously undisclosed meetings with Russian officials have drawn the attention of investigators. Democrats say these contacts should be enough to suspend his access to sensitive information. (ABC News)

10/ Hackers successfully altered at least one voter roll in 2016 and stole voter records that contain private information like partial Social Security numbers. Investigators have not identified whether the hackers in that case were Russian agents. (Time)

11/ The White House is urging House Republicans to weaken its Russia sanctions bill, which was overwhelmingly passed by the Senate. The bill would place new sanctions on Russia for its meddling in the 2016 election and allow Congress to block Trump from lifting penalties against Moscow. (New York Times)

12/ Betsy DeVos picked the CEO of a private student loan company to run the federal student loan system. 42 million Americans currently owe $1.4 trillion in student loans. (The Hill)

13/ Trump will host his first re-election fundraiser at the Trump International Hotel next week, raising ethics concerns from conflict of interest attorneys. Trump is “becoming more and more brazen in his efforts to monetize the presidency,” Obama’s lead ethics attorney said. (Associated Press)

14/ North Korea called Trump a "psychopath" and warned South Korea that no good will come from aligning with him. The commentary, published in a state newspaper, suggested that Trump could launch a preemptive strike on North Korea to distract from his domestic problems. (AOL News / Washington Post)

15/ The White House told reporters not to report on instructions about not reporting on a press conference. Sarah Huckabee Sanders said today's press conference would not be a video affair and then said the announcement itself was "NOT REPORTABLE." (Slate)

poll/ A majority of voters think the American Health Care Act would be harmful for low-income Americans, people with pre-existing health conditions, and Medicaid recipients. 41% oppose the House plan, while 30% support it. 13% think the plan will improve the quality of their healthcare. 9% think it would make their health care cheaper. (Reuters)

poll/ 16% of adults believe that House health care bill is a good idea compared to 48% who say it’s a bad idea. (NBC News)

Day 153: Vulnerable.

1/ CIA Director Mike Pompeo continued to brief Michael Flynn on national intelligence despite concerns Flynn was vulnerable to Russian blackmail. The FBI, the CIA, the Justice Department, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence all concluded that Flynn had become susceptible to blackmail. Pompeo never raised these concerns with Trump. “Either Director Pompeo had no idea what people in the CIA reportedly knew about Michael Flynn, or he knew about the Justice Department’s concerns and continued to discuss America’s secrets with a man vulnerable to blackmail,” Senator Ron Wyden said in a statement. “I believe Director Pompeo owes the public an explanation.” (New York Times)

2/ Trump is expected to reveal whether tapes of conversations with Comey exist this week. After firing Comey in May, Trump tweeted that Comey “better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press.” Trump and aides have since refused to clarify the ambiguous warning. The House intelligence committee wants the White House to provide an answer about the tapes by Friday. Under a post-Watergate law, destroying recordings would be a crime. (Associated Press)

3/ Jeff Sessions hired a personal lawyer amid the expanding Russia investigation. The Attorney General's longtime friend Charles Cooper has been providing counsel to Sessions, both for his Senate Intelligence Committee hearing last week, as well as during his January confirmation hearing. Sessions recused himself from the FBI’s investigation into Russia meddling and whether any Trump associates colluded in that effort. Special counsel Robert Mueller could seek information from Sessions about the circumstances surrounding the firing of James Comey. (Bloomberg / USA Today / National Law Journal)

4/ The Congressional Black Caucus will reject an invitation to meet with Trump. Members say the caucus-wide meeting would amount to little more than a photo op that Trump could use to bolster his standing among African-Americans. “No one wants to be a co-star on the reality show,” said one aide. (Politico)

5/ Queen Elizabeth didn't mention Trump's planned visit to the UK during her speech at the opening of Parliament. Trump's visit was already in doubt after he insisted on a gold‑plated welcome in the Queen’s royal carriage and started a feud with London's mayor on Twitter after the terrorist attack. The London mayor previously said Trump should be denied a state visit because of his “cruel” policies on immigration. The Queen's speech is used to set the government's legislative agenda for the next two years and announce planned state visits. (BBC / CNN / The Telegraph)

6/ Trump will hold a "Make America Great Again" rally to get a boost from outside of Washington. 8,600 political supporters will join Trump in Cedar Rapids, Iowa where he's expected to repeat his campaign rhetoric at a time when he has the lowest job approval rating of any president in modern history at this point in his tenure. (Washington Post / AOL News)

  • Trump has only held one solo press conference since becoming president, lagging behind his predecessors. Obama had held six solo press conferences by this point in his presidency, George W. Bush had held three, and Clinton seven. Trump's last press conference was four months ago, where he delivered a series of raw and personal attacks on the media in a news conference for the ages. (NBC News)

7/ Michael Bloomberg tells Trump to "stop tweeting and focus on running the government." The former mayor of New York City added that Trump's refusal to acknowledge that climate change is real is an embarrassment. "No reputable person or scientist doubts that we are creating an environmental and a climate change problem," he said. (CNN)

8/ The EPA plans to buy out more than 1,200 employees this summer as part of a push by the administration to shrink the agency Trump once promised to eliminate “in almost every form.” It would be about an 8% reduction of the current 15,000-person EPA workforce. The administration has also proposed a 31% cut to the EPA budget. (Washington Post)

9/ Trump’s budget seeks to cut funding for programs that shelter the poor and combat homelessness, except for a federal housing subsidy that earns him millions of dollars a year. (Washington Post)

10/ The Pentagon spent $28 million on uniforms for Afghan soldiers, which were appropriate for just 2.1% of Afghanistan. In 2007, the Afghan Defense Ministry decided the army needed a “new and distinctive uniform” to set is apart. He chose woodland camouflage. (USA Today)

11/ Russian-linked hackers targeted election-related computer systems in 21 states. Systems involved in vote counting were not affected. The hackers appeared to be scanning for vulnerabilities. In May, it was reported that Russian hackers had hit election systems in 39 states, accessing software used by poll workers on Election Day. The Russian military intelligence executed a cyberattack on at least one US voting software supplier last year, sending spear-phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials days before the election. (Washington Post / CNN)

12/ Republican Karen Handel beat Democrat Jon Ossoff in Georgia's special election for a House seat. Trump tweeted his excitement: “Well, the Special Elections are over and those that want to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN are 5 and O! All the Fake News, all the money spent = 0." The Georgia race was the most expensive House race in history, with candidates spending roughly $55 million combined. (CNN / New York Times / Politico)

poll/ 35% of voters approve of the Republican health care bill passed by the House last month. 49% disapprove of the bill. (Politico)

Day 152: Spicey.

1/ Sean Spicer is searching for his own replacement as he's expected to transition to a behind-the-scenes role overseeing communications strategy – senior to both the communications director and press secretary. Spicer’s deputy, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, has frequently replaced him in the daily press briefings as he's slowly retreated from public view over the past month. He's often caught between striving for the respect of the press corps and Trump's erratic tweets. (Politico / Bloomberg / Washington Post)

2/ Steve Bannon explains the change in Spicer's role: “Sean got fatter." The White House has pared back the daily press briefings, downgrading them from “briefings” to “gaggles,” and from on-camera to off-camera. They are now shorter and less frequent. (The Atlantic)

3/ Spicer hasn't talked to Trump about whether Russia interfered in the election. The US intelligence community concluded that Russia orchestrated a hacking and influence campaign to swing the election in Trump's favor. “I have not sat down and asked him about the specific reaction,” Spicer said. “I'd be glad to touch base with him and get back to you.” Trump's repeatedly raised doubts about their conclusions. (Politico / The Hill)

4/ The Senate will vote on their health care bill next week, despite not having enough support to pass it. The Senate will release the bill's text Thursday, with the CBO expected to score its impact on the federal budget and insurance coverage by early next week. The Senate could hold a vote next Thursday, before lawmakers leave for the July 4th recess. Failure to vote by then would open Republican lawmakers up to pressure from constituents at town-hall meetings. (Wall Street Journal / BuzzFeed News)

  • Democrats held the Senate floor last night to spotlight Republicans behind-the-scenes efforts to repeal Obamacare. Democrats criticized the closed-door meetings using series of floor motions, inquiries, and lengthy speeches to highlight what Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer called "the most glaring departure from normal legislative procedure that I have ever seen." (Reuters / ABC News)
  • Here's what we know about the Senate health-care bill. The blurry outlines of an Obamacare overhaul are coming into focus as Senate Republican leaders prod their members toward a health-care vote next week. (Washington Post)

5/ Trump's pick for FBI Director removed a past case involving the Russian government from his law firm bio at King and Spalding. Christopher Wray made the edit on January 12, when he was not considered for the FBI Director job, "or any position in government." Wray's law firm has worked closely with the Russian the energy sector, representing companies in deals with the Russian state-owned oil company Rosneft and Gazprom. (CNN)

6/ Wray billed New Jersey taxpayers more than $2.1 million while representing Chris Christie during the Bridgegate trial for legal charges and expenses. The public wasn't aware that Wray was working for Christie for almost two years. Christie hasn't said whether he recommended Wray for the FBI job. (WYNC)

7/ Michael Flynn failed to report a business trip to Saudi Arabia where he represented US and Russian state-sponsored companies, and Saudi financing interests to build 16 nuclear power plants a congressional letter issued Monday shows. The letter questions why Flynn failed to mention one trip and underreported a second for the renewal of his federal security clearance. It also questions why Flynn failed to mention “any of these contacts with Saudi or other foreign officials on his security clearance application or during his interview with security clearance investigators." (McClatchy – DC)

8/ The FBI is investigating Flynn’s former business partner and looking at whether payments from foreign clients were lawful. The now-defunct Flynn Intel Group received payments by three Russian companies and the Netherlands-based company Inovo. (Reuters)

9/ Robert Mueller adds a witness-flipping expert to his team. Andrew Weissmann is best known for gaining witness cooperation in the Enron investigation. He previously headed the Justice Department's criminal fraud unit. (Reuters)

10/ Rex Tillerson has a three-point plan for future US-Russia relations in an effort to seek constructive working relationship with Putin on a limited set of issues. Step 1: Tell Moscow that aggressive actions against the US are a losing proposition. Step 2: Engage on issues that are of strategic interest to the US. Step 3: Emphasize the importance of "strategic stability" regarding geopolitical goals. (BuzzFeed News)

11/ The House health care plan is unpopular in three states where a Republican Senator will have a swing vote. 31% of Nevada voters, 35% of West Virginia voters, and 29% of Alaska voters approve of the AHCA. (Axios)

poll/ 81% of Americans don't want Trump to interfere with the Mueller probe. Trump's approval rating stands at 36%, his lowest in the CBS News Polls since becoming president. 57% percent now disapprove. (CBS News)

poll/ 18% of Americans support Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord. 44% of Americans are "very concerned" and 26% are "moderately concerned" that withdrawing from the agreement will hurt the country’s standing in the world. 64% of Americans disapprove of how Trump is handling the issue of climate change, with 34% approving. (Associated Press)

poll/ 73% of Americans feel the current tone of politics is encouraging violence. 68% say the tone and level of civility in politics is getting worse. (CBS News)

Day 151: Collective self-defense.

1/ The US military shot down a Syrian fighter jet after it dropped bombs near local forces supported by Americans in the fight against the Islamic State. A US military statement said it acted in “collective self-defense” of its partner forces. This was the first Syrian plane shot down by the US. (Associated Press / New York Times)

  • Russia threatened to target US-led coalition warplanes over Syria in response. "Any aircraft, including planes and drones belonging to the international coalition operating west of the Euphrates river, will be tracked by Russian anti-aircraft forces in the sky and on the ground and treated as targets," the Russian defense ministry said. (New York Times / BBC / Reuters / Associated Press)

2/ Trump's lawyer insists the president "is not under investigation." Appearing on several Sunday morning news shows, Trump's personal attorney Jay Sekulow stressed that "the president has not been and is not under investigation." He added that Trump has not been notified of any investigation. On Friday, Trump took to Twitter, saying: “I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt.” (New York Times / Associated Press)

3/ Trump tweets that his "MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN agenda is doing very well despite the distraction of the Witch Hunt" – aka Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. Mueller is considering whether there is evidence to launch a full scale obstruction of justice investigation. (CNN)

4/ The White House is pushing the House Republicans for a friendlier sanctions deal against Russia. Senate Democrats fear the Trump administration will defang the bill designed to punish Russia for election meddling. The legislation would tie the White House's hands on US-Russia relations, the administration says. (Politico)

5/ Jared Kushner is reconsidering his legal team. He's contacted high-powered criminal lawyers about potentially representing him in the wide-ranging investigation into Russia’s influence on the 2016 election. (New York Times)

6/ McConnell wants to force a health care vote by July 4th and is considering making even deeper cuts to Medicaid spending than the bill passed by the House. The Senate won't vote without a CBO score, which means they need to finish negotiations this week. The CBO, however, found that the House bill would cause 14 million fewer people to be enrolled in Medicaid over 10 years. (Axios / The Hill)

7/ Democrats are turning to procedural moves to slow Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare by objecting to all unanimous consent requests in the Senate. It likely won’t change the timing of the health care vote, but it will force Republicans to answer for what Democrats say is a rushed process and bad policy. (Politico)

  • House republicans to are sending McConnell a letter demanding certain provisions remain in the Senate health bill. Republican Study Committee outlines four components of the House-passed health care bill that are “particularly crucial” to maintaining support from GOP lawmakers in the House. (Independent Journal Review)
  • Six people have resigned from Trump's HIV/AIDS advisory council because he "doesn't care." Trump has not appointed anyone to head the White House Office of National AIDS Policy. The agency's website has not been updated five months after taking office. "We have dedicated our lives to combating this disease and no longer feel we can do so effectively within the confines of an advisory body to a president who simply does not care." (BuzzFeed News)

8/ The Supreme Court will hear a landmark case on partisan gerrymandering. The case could have "enormous ramifications" on how to draw district lines nationwide. Obama has said that one of his post-presidency projects will be to combat partisan gerrymanders after the 2020 Census. (CNN / Washington Post)

9/ The personal information and voter profile data on 198 million American voters was stored on an unsecured server owned by Republican data analytics firm Deep Root Analytics. The folder includes dozens of spreadsheets containing a unique identifier for each voter for the 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, which link to "dozens of sensitive and personally identifying data points, making it possible to piece together a striking amount of detail on individual Americans specified by name." (ZDNet / Wall Street Journal)

10/ Trump’s business ties in the Gulf raise questions about his allegiances after spending years trying to enter the Qatar market. As Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar feud, Trump has thrown his weight behind the two countries where he's done business, raising new concerns about a conflict between his public role and his financial incentives. Qatar hosts America's largest air base in the region. (New York Times)

11/ Energy Secretary Rick Perry said he doesn't believe CO2 emissions from human activity are the primary driver of climate change, a view that is at odds with the conclusions of the Environmental Protection Agency, NASA, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (CNBC)


  • News You May Have Missed

  • At the height of Russia tensions last summer, Trump's campaign chairman met with a former Russian army business associate. Konstantin Kilimnik had helped run the Ukraine office for Paul Manafort international political consulting practice for 10 years. (Washington Post)
  • Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke withdrew his name from consideration for an assistant secretary of Homeland Security post. Clarke's appointment had been subject to significant delays, contributing to his withdrawal. He was also accused of plagiarism, as well as drawing scrutiny for the conditions in his jails that left one mentally ill inmate dead. (Washington Post)
  • A 17-year-old Muslim girl was killed after leaving her Virginia mosque on Sunday. Police found human remains in a pond about three miles from where the initial altercation took place. A baseball bat was also recovered. Police charged Martinez Torres with the murder of the 17-year-old, which is not currently being investigated as a hate crime. (Washington Post / NBC News)
  • Trump demands face time with his favorite Cabinet appointees, turning the White House into a hangout for his chosen department heads. Trump doesn’t trust bureaucrats who do the day-to-day work of the federal government, referring to them as the “deep state,” and blaming them for the frequent leaks to the press. But for Trump’s Cabinet members, being present means they have a say in policymaking. (Politico)
  • The body-slamming congressman now calls for civil politics, four days after being convicted for assaulting a reporter who asked him a question about health care. In May, Greg Gianforte had grabbed a reporter by the neck with both hands, slammed him into the ground, and then began punching the reporter. Gianforte had to pay a fine, perform community service, and take anger management training, but no jail time. (Associated Press)

Day 148: Ruh roh.

1/ Trump tweets that he's under investigation for his role in firing James Comey and accused Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein of overseeing the "witch hunt" against him. Rosenstein wrote the memo recommending Comey's firing, but also approved the appointment of Robert Mueller, the special counsel now leading the Russia investigation. (New York Times / CNN / Washington Post)

  • The greatest threat to Trump and his presidency comes from his own conduct. And his obsessive behavior. (Politico)

2/ Rod Rosenstein urged Americans to "exercise caution" when evaluating stories attributed to anonymous officials. It's unclear why Rosenstein would issue the statement, but it follows several stories quoting unnamed sources on the direction of the Russia probe. (Washington Post)

3/ Rosenstein privately acknowledged that he may have to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. Rosenstein told Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand, the Justice Department's new third-in-command, that if he were to recuse himself, she would have to step in and take over the probe. She was sworn-in little more than a month ago. (ABC News)

  • Former Bush official Rachel Brand takes over as the Justice Department’s third-highest-ranking official. Brand was confirmed in May. (Washington Post)

4/ Jared Kushner's finances and business dealings are now part of the Mueller investigation. Kushner joins the list of Trump associates Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, and Carter Page who are now under investigation by FBI agents and federal prosecutors. Kushner has agreed to discuss his Russian contacts with the Senate Intelligence Committee. (Washington Post)

5/ The Trump transition team ordered members to preserve Russia-related documents, including records related to Ukraine and certain campaign advisers and officials. The memo says members “have a duty to preserve any physical and electronic records that may be related in any way to the subject matter of the pending investigations.” (New York Times / Politico)

6/ The House Intelligence Committee wants to talk to Trump's digital director about Russia and possible connections between the Trump team and Russian operatives. Brad Parscale played a critical role on the Trump campaign, directing online spending and voter targeting with the use of a data bank built by the Republican National Committee. (CNN)

7/ The FBI won't release Comey's memos because they're part of a "pending or prospective law enforcement proceeding," a Freedom of Information Act request revealed. At least one of the memos is unclassified, but wouldn't because it could "reasonably interfere with enforcement proceedings." (BuzzFeed News)

8/ The White House is referring questions about a potential Oval Office recording device to outside counsel. A national security attorney suggested that the White House is attempting to defer and deflect the issue for as long as possible. (The Daily Beast)

9/ Trump’s personal lawyer hires his own lawyer to navigate the Russia probe. Michael Cohen's decision is the latest sign that the Russia probe is intensifying and could end up focusing on many Trump associates, both inside and outside the White House. (Washington Post)

10/ An American lobbyist representing Russian interests contradicted Jeff Sessions' sworn testimony about not having contacts with lobbyists working for Russian interests over the course of Trump’s campaign. Richard Burt attended "two dinners with groups of former Republican foreign policy officials and Senator Sessions." (The Guardian)

11/ Trump picked his family's event planner to run federal housing programs in New York. Lynne Patton will oversee the distribution of billions of taxpayer dollars despite having no housing experience and claiming to have a law degree the school says she never earned. (NY Daily News)

12/ Senate Republican leaders want to bring their health care bill to the Senate floor by the end of June as disagreements threaten to derail their efforts. Mitch McConnell and a small group of GOP aides are crafting the bill behind closed doors. Earlier this week, Trump called the House version "mean." The comment has angered House Republicans and its likely damaged his ability to negotiate with them on infrastructure and tax reform. (Washington Post / Axios)

13/ Trump rolled back Obama's Cuba policy, tightening travel restrictions and blocking business with the island. Trump called it a "completely one-sided deal." At one point, Trump considered severing diplomatic relations with Cuba. (NBC News / The Hill)

14/ The Pentagon will send about 4,000 more American troops to Afghanistan, the largest deployment of Trump's presidency. Trump gave Defense Secretary Jim Mattis the authority to manage troop levels to help Afghanistan's army against a resurgent Taliban. (Washington Post)

poll/ 65% think Trump has little to no respect for country's institutions. Only 34% of Americans think Trump has a great deal or a fair amount of respect for them. (The Hill)

Day 147: Phony.

1/ Trump tweets: The reports of my "phony collusion with the Russians" have been greatly exaggerated. Trump's twitter tirade this morning essentially confirms yesterday's news that special counsel Robert Mueller is now investigating Trump for possible obstruction of justice. Nevertheless, Trump persisted: "You are witnessing the single greatest WITCH HUNT in American political history". (CBS News / New York Times / Washington Post / New York Daily News)

  • The three prongs of Mueller's Russia investigation explained. Mueller is investigating Russian meddling in the election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign, attempts to obstruct justice, and any possible financial crimes. (Washington Post)
  • Mueller is examining whether Trump obstructed justice. The special counsel investigation has expanded to look into president's firing of former FBI Director James Comey. (Wall Street Journal)
  • The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee wants obstruction to be part of House Russia probe. Adam Schiff is negotiating with his Republican counterpart about whether to investigate Trump for obstruction of justice as part of the panel’s Russia investigation. (Politico)
  • The Senate intelligence committee won't investigate whether Trump obstructed justice, leaving the criminal inquiry to special counsel Robert Mueller. (CNN)
  • Putin – jokingly – offered Comey asylum during a marathon phone-in session with the Russian people. (The Guardian)

2/ Aides blame Trump for the obstruction of justice probe: "The president did this to himself" and "shot himself in the foot again with this cockamamie scheme to get Mueller to play ball" by spreading rumors that Trump might fire the special counsel. Senators, White House aides, former prosecutors, and FBI veterans are urging Trump not to do it, as firing Mueller now would require him to personally direct the Department of Justice to do so, which "could be shown that his purpose was to impede the investigation" and "could be additional evidence of obstruction of justice." (The Daily Beast)

3/ Pence hired outside counsel to help with House and Senate committee inquiries, and the special counsel investigation into possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia. (Washington Post)

4/ Trump revised his travel ban to address arguments that it would expire today. Under the ban's original wording, it would last "for 90 days from the effective date of this order." A separate provision set the effective date as March 16, meaning the ban would have expired June 14. The administration is arguing that the court orders blocking the ban had implicitly delayed the effective date. (Bloomberg)

5/ A GOP congressman wants members of Congress to "curtail" their town halls after the Scalise shooting "until we agree that we need to be more civil." In addition to yesterday's shooting, Lou Barletta cited "those town halls where the police had to carry people out" as a safety concern and reason to cut back on hosting town hall forums. (CNN)

6/ Dennis Rodman gave Kim Jong Un a copy of Trump's book "The Art of the Deal." Rodman may be the only person in the world who has personal relationships with both Trump and the North Korean supreme leader. (Washington Post / CNN)

7/ The Australian Prime Minister mocked Trump in a speech. Malcolm Turnbull's told a room of journalists, advisers, and politicians that "the Donald and I, we are winning and winning in the polls. We are winning so much! We are winning like we have never won before. We are winning in the polls. We are! Not the fake polls. Not the fake polls. They're the ones we're not winning in. We're winning in the real polls." (CNN / Wall Street Journal)

8/ Despite being investigated by the FBI, Paul Manafort is still offering prospective business partners access to Trump. Manafort consulted on a proposal for a Chinese construction billionaire. A lawyer involved in discussions said, “He’s going around telling people that he’s still talking to the president and — even more than that — that he is helping to shape Trump’s foreign policy." Trump’s former campaign chairman is at the center of the FBI investigation into ties between Trump’s team and the Russians. (Politico)

9/ The Energy Department closed its office working on climate change abroad. The office was formed in 2010 to help the United States provide technical advice to other nations seeking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. (New York Times)

10/ Trump ordered the government to stop working on the Y2K bug, 17 years after year 2000 came and went. Federal workers still report on preparedness for the Y2K bug, consuming some 1,200 man-hours every year. [Editor's note: I misunderstood this statistic. It was attributed to other, pointless paperwork. The Y2K requirements are often ignored in practice.] (Bloomberg)

poll/ 41% of Republicans say they are satisfied with the way things are going in the US, down 17% since May. (Gallup)

poll/ 50% of the CEOs, business leaders, government officials and academics gave Trump an "F" for his first 130 days in office. 21% gave Trump's performance a "D" and just 1% gave him an "A." (CNN Money)

Day 146: Foreign emoluments.

1/ Robert Mueller is now investigating Trump for possible obstruction of justice, marking a major turning point in the nearly year-old FBI investigation. The obstruction of justice investigation into the president began days after Comey was fired on May 9 with the team actively pursuing potential witnesses inside and outside the government. The White House is referring all questions about the Russia investigation to Trump’s personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz. (Washington Post)

2/ Almost 200 congressional Democrats will sue Trump over foreign business ties. They contend that Trump has ignored the emoluments clause of the Constitution, which prohibits federal officials from accepting gifts from foreign powers without congressional approval. The case is one of at least four pending lawsuits alleging that by retaining interests in a global business empire, Trump has violated the foreign emoluments clause. (Politico / New York Times / Washington Post)

3/ China preliminary approved six new trademarks for the Trump brand as it relates to veterinary services and construction sectors. The new marks brings his total to at least 123 registered and provisionally approved trademarks in China. (New York Times)

4/ The majority of Trump's real estate sales are to secretive shell companies, which obscure the buyers’ identities. Since winning the Republican nomination, about 70% of buyers of Trump properties were LLCs, compared with about 4% of buyers in the two years before. Since the election, Trump’s businesses have sold 28 properties for $33 million. (USA Today)

5/ Trump gave the Pentagon authority to unilaterally send new troops to Afghanistan. The Pentagon is weighing plans to send 3,000 to 5,000 troops after years of reductions in hopes that Kabul could handle threats on its own. There is fewer than 9,000 troops currently in Afghanistan. (Wall Street Journal)

6/ Trump blocked a veterans group on Twitter that was critical of him. While on the campaign trail, Trump praised veterans as "amazing," "distinguished" and "tremendous." Today, he blocked them on Twitter for criticizing his tweet about the "Fake News Media." (Talking Points Memo / Newsweek / The Hill)

7/ A Trump business partner is in the running for a $1.7 billion contract to build the new FBI headquarters. Vornado Realty Trust is a partial owner with the Trump Organization in two buildings and a major investor in a Kushner Cos. skyscraper. (Associated Press)

8/ Tomorrow's congressional hearing to debate gun legislation has been canceled until further notice in the wake of today's shooting at a Republican congressional baseball practice. The panel was suppose to debate the "Sportsmen's Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act," which would make it easier to purchase silencers, transport guns across state lines, and ease restrictions on armor-piercing bullets. The bill's sponsor was at the baseball practice. (CNN)

9/ Not a single state supports the House health care bill. Even in the most supportive states, like Oklahoma, Florida, and Texas, only 38%, 35%, and 34% of voters, respectively, support the law, compared to 45%, 48%, and 49% who oppose it. (New York Times)

10/ The Senate approved new bipartisan sanctions against Russia, which establishes a congressional review of any changes the Trump administration wants to make to the current penalties. Senators voted 97-2, but its future in the GOP-controlled House is unclear, as is whether Trump would even sign the bill. (Politico)

11/ Robert Mueller met with the Senate intelligence committee to plot a path forward on their investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. The two sides discussed to share information and not step on each others' toes. (CNN)

poll/ Trump's job disapproval rating hits 60%. When does the winning start? (Gallup)

Day 145: Haxored.

1/ Russian hackers hit election systems in 39 states, accessing software designed to be used by poll workers on Election Day. The scope and sophistication was so concerning that the Obama administration complained directly to Moscow, detailing Russia’s role in the election meddling and warned that the attacks risked setting off a broader conflict. (Bloomberg)

2/ Senate leaders agree on bipartisan sanctions to punish Russia for election meddling, placing the White House in an uncomfortable position. The agreement would impose sanctions on “corrupt Russian actors" and people conducting “malicious cyberactivity on behalf of the Russian government," and “provide for a mandated congressional review” if the White House sought to waive or ease existing sanctions unilaterally. “I’d be very, very surprised if the president vetoes this bill,” the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee said. (New York Times / Politico)

3/ The House Intelligence Committee is adding funding and staff to its Russia probe. A lack of resources has been an issue for the House investigation, due in part to Devin Nunes,the panel’s chairman, being forced to recuse himself over allegations that he was openly colluding with the White House. (The Daily Beast)

4/ Trump is considering firing Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating possible ties between his campaign and Russian officials. Trump was "considering, perhaps, terminating the special counsel," Trump's friend Christopher Ruddy said. To do so, Trump would have to order Rod Rosenstein to rescind department regulations protecting a special counsel from being fired and then to fire Mueller. If Rosenstein refused, Trump could fire him, too. Trump is being counseled to steer clear of such a dramatic move like firing the special counsel. (New York Times / CNN)

  • Republicans tell Trump not to mess with Mueller. Mueller’s investigation is considered the most threatening to Trump’s presidency and is largely out of his control. (Politico)

5/ Rod Rosenstein: Only I have the power to fire the special counsel on Russia. During testimony before the appropriations committee, Rosenstein said he would only comply with "lawful and appropriate" requests. Rosenstein added that there's no cause to fire Mueller and that he's "confident" the special counsel has full independence. (Washington Post / USA Today / Wall Street Journal)

6/ Jeff Sessions declined to answer questions about his conversations with Trump, including whether he spoke to Trump about Comey’s handling of the Russia investigation. Sessions cited Trump's executive privilege to not answer questions about his confidential talks with the president despite Trump not having invoked executive privilege. Sessions called any suggestion that he colluded with Russians during the campaign an "an appalling and detestable lie." (Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News)

  • Key moments from Jeff Sessions’ Russia testimony. (Politico)

7/ Senate Republicans are trying to rein in expectations for their Obamacare repeal effort, worried they'll blow their July 4th deadline or fall short of 50 votes. Senators continue to raise doubts about coming to an agreement, even though McConnell has said that "failure is not an option." (Politico)

  • Senate Democrats plan offensive to try to save Obamacare and potentially even delay a June vote to force the GOP to endure a July recess when Democratic allies will mobilize in their states. (Politico)

8/ Trump called the House health care bill "mean" and that the Senate version should be "more generous." Trump told the lawmakers that the House bill didn't go far enough in protecting individuals in the marketplace – and appeared to use that as his rationale for why he has ambiguously called twice for the Senate to "add more money" to the bill. (CNN / Associated Press)

9/ Trump’s personal lawyer told colleagues that he got Preet Bharara fired. Bharara was asked to stay in his job as the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York when the two met in November at Trump Tower. But, in March Trump reversed himself and fired Bharara, who was investigating Trump’s secretary of health and human services at the time. (ProPublica)

10/ Senate Republicans barred reporters from filming senators in the Capitol hallways without special permission and breaking with years of precedent allowing videotaping and audio recording in the public areas of the House and Senate office buildings. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted, "Press access should never be restricted unfairly, particularly not when one party is trying to sneak a major bill through Congress." (CNN Money / The Hill)

UPDATE:

Senate Republicans back off their proposed restrictions on the media. (The Hill)

11/ Shocker: Trump criticized the latest court ruling against his travel ban. The three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Trump's revised travel ban, using his own tweets against him in making their decision. (CNN)

12/ Jeff Sessions asked congressional leaders to undo federal medical marijuana protections so he could prosecute providers. Research strongly suggests that cracking down on medical marijuana laws could make the opiate epidemic even worse. (Washington Post)

Day 144: Travel ban banned.

1/ The 9th Circuit court ruled against Trump's revised travel ban. It's the second federal appeals court to uphold the block on the travel ban, declaring that Trump exceeded his authority in suspending the issuance of visas to residents of six Muslim majority countries. “A reasonable, objective observer — enlightened by the specific historical context, contemporaneous public statements and specific sequence of events leading to its issuance — would conclude that the executive order was issued with a purpose to disfavor a particular religion,” Judge Watson wrote. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / NPR)

2/ Jeff Sessions will testify in an open hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday about his role in the Russia investigation. Last week, James Comey testified that Sessions may have had a third, undisclosed meeting with Russia's ambassador to the US. Before Sessions recused himself from the investigation, Comey believed certain details made Sessions involvement in the investigation "problematic." The Committee hasn't allotted time for Sessions to privately discuss classified matters after his public forum. The hearing is scheduled for Tuesday at 2:30PM ET. (Washington Post / Politico / CNN)

3/ The Senate Intelligence Committee plans to interview Jared Kushner in late June or early July and is expected to be a closed session. A date has not been set, but Kushner is expected to provide documents and then return for questions from senators. (ABC News)

4/ D.C. and Maryland are suing Trump, alleging he violated anti-corruption clauses by accepting millions in payments and benefited from foreign governments since moving into the White House. The lawsuit says Trump’s continued ownership of a global business has makes him “deeply enmeshed with a legion of foreign and domestic government actors," which has undermined the integrity of the US political system. (Washington Post / Politico)

5/ In a separate case, the Justice Department argued that Trump can accept payments from foreign governments while he is in office. Advocates from the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington brought the suit against Trump in January, asserting that because Trump-owned buildings take in rent, room rentals and other payments from foreign governments he breached the emoluments clause. (Washington Post / Politico / The Hill)

6/ Senate Republicans won't release a draft of their health care bill. It's unclear what changes Republicans have made, because there have been no hearings and no possibility for amendment. They want to vote on the bill before the July 4th recess. (Axios / The Week)

7/ Trump’s attorneys won't rule out firing Robert Mueller, the special counsel appointed to look into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. "I'm not going to speculate on what he will, or will not, do," Trump attorney Jay Sekulow said. “That, again, is an issue that the president with his advisers would discuss if there was a basis.” (Politico)

8/ The secret service says it has no audio or transcripts of any tapes recorded in the White House. The FOIA request doesn’t exclude the possibility that recordings could have been created by another "entity." (Wall Street Journal)

9/ Reince Priebus has until July 4th to clean up the White House. Trump has threatened to fire his chief of staff if major changes are not made. While Trump has set deadlines for staff changes before, he's under more scrutiny than ever with the sprawling Russia investigation. (Politico)

10/ Trump's visit to the U.K. might be put on hold to avoid large-scale protests. Trump's come under criticism for starting a feud with London's mayor on Twitter following the terrorist attack in London. Prime Minister Theresa May said there had been no change of plans for Trump's state visit. More than half of the British public views Trump as a threat to global stability. (New York Times / Reuters)

11/ Preet Bharara said Trump tried to build a relationship with him before he was fired. The former US attorney in Manhattan said his contacts with Trump’s were strikingly similar to those between the president and Comey, which made him increasingly uncomfortable as they broke with longstanding Justice Department rules on communicating with the White House. (New York Times)

12/ The first full Cabinet meeting turned into a Trump tribute session. Pence, Sessions, Perry and Priebus took turns praising Trump's first five months. Trump opened the meeting with a statement touting that he had led a “record-setting” pace of activity and that few presidents have passed more legislation than he has, despite Congress having passed no major legislation since he took office 144 days ago. (CNN / CNBC / New York Times)

poll/ 49% of voters think Trump committed obstruction of justice. 37% of voters say they think Trump is honest, to 56% who say he's not. 53% of voters consider Trump to be a liar. (Public Policy Polling)

Day 141: Complete vindication.

1/ Trump breaks his Twitter silence, declaring "total and complete vindication" in response to Comey's testimony. The tweet ends his second-longest Twitter drought – at about 2,753 minutes – since he declared his candidacy. Comey detailed months of distrust during testimony and asserted that Trump had fired him to interfere with the probe of Russia's ties to the campaign. (ABC News / Washington Post)

  • Behind Trump’s temporary Twitter silence: Let others do the punching. First it was Donald Trump Jr. who played his father’s role on Twitter, then Trump's personal lawyer delivered the formal response. (Washington Post)
  • "I was right": Trump insisted to his legal team while he watched the Comey testimony. (New York Times)
  • Comey’s indictment of Trump. The fired FBI director’s demeanor did little to mask his barbed accusations. (Politico)

2/ Trump's lawyer plans to file a complaint against Comey for leaking his memos. Marc Kasowitz will file complaints with the Justice Department Inspector General and the Senate judiciary committee accusing Comey of violating executive privilege, which was called "frivolous grandstanding" by an expert in whistleblower protection. (CNN / Washington Post)

  • Trump’s personal lawyer released a letter filled with typos in response to Comey’s Senate testimony. (Vox)
  • Trump's lawyer claims Comey violated executive privilege. 10 legal experts say he didn't. (Vox)

3/ Jeff Sessions may have met with the Russian ambassador a third time, Comey told senators in a closed hearing. The information is based in part on Russian-to-Russian intercepts talking about the meeting. (CNN)

4/ Paul Ryan insisted that Republicans wouldn’t call for impeachment of a Democratic president accused of the same actions as Trump. Ryan also suggested that Trump’s behavior might be the result of not having experience in government before becoming president. (The Hill)

5/ Trump will spend the weekend at his golf club in Bedminster, NJ. He's claimed in the past that working from "home" will save taxpayers money by not being at Trump Tower in New York City. (NJ.com)

6/ Mitch McConnell took a procedural step to fast-track efforts to repeal Obamacare, which side-steps typical committee processes. By invoking Rule 14, McConnell can now put the bill on the Senate calendar so that a vote can be held as soon as the bill is ready. The move means the Senate GOP can bypass committee hearings and debates of the Republican health care bill in an effort to get a vote by July 4. (Washington Post / Talking Points Memo / Think Progress)

Day 140: No fuzz.

1/ Comey blasted the White House for "lies, plain and simple." The fired FBI director accused Trump and his aides during testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee today of defaming him after he was fired. Comey believed that Trump had clearly tried to derail the FBI investigation into Michael Flynn. (Politico / New York Times)

  • Comey goes nuclear in showdown with Trump. He accused Trump and his top aides of lying, suggesting that the president wanted special treatment in exchange for loyalty, and he said he thinks he lost his job because of how he handled the Russia investigation. (ABC News)
  • Comey's testimony takes aim at Trump’s credibility. (Associated Press)
  • Comey's testimony shifts focus to Trump and his conduct in the office. (Washington Post)
  • Comey said that he found the shifting explanations for why he was fired both confusing and concerning. (Reuters)
  • Annotated copy of Comey's opening statement. Here are Comey's full prepared remarks, annotated by NPR journalists. (NPR)
  • Comey's testimony transcript. The full text. (Politico)
  • Republican National Committee will lead Trump's response to Comey's testimony. A team of about 60 RNC staffers will mount a political offensive aimed at Democrats in response to Comey's testimony. The RNC has lined up a host of surrogates to appear on national and local television and radio to support Trump. The rapid response team will leverage their database of opposition research to use Democrats' past statements against them. (Wall Street Journal)

2/ Comey has called Trump a liar 5 times today. The White House says that's not true. Comey punched back at Trump's characterization of him as being unpopular at the FBI and the idea that the bureau was disorganized and chaotic. In addition, Comey disputed claims by Trump that he had asked to keep his job. (CNN)

3/ Comey: The administration is working to "defame" me and the FBI, and telling "lies" to the American people. "Although the law requires no reason at all to fire an FBI director the administration then chose to defame me and more importantly the FBI by saying that the organization was in disarray, that it was poorly led, that the work force had lost confidence in its leader,” Comey said. (ABC News)

4/ Comey: "Lordy, I hope there are tapes." During his testimony, Comey expressed his hope that his conversations with Trump were recorded. (The Hill)

5/ The White House won't say if there's a recording system in the Oval Office. Sarah Huckabee Sanders said she has “no idea” if Trump has a recording system in his office, despite the president suggesting he may have recordings of his conversations with Comey. (HuffPost)

6/ Paul Ryan defended Trump's attempt to influence Comey: He's "new at this." He added that Trump is "new to government. And so he probably wasn’t steeped in the long-running protocols that establish the relationships between DOJ, FBI, and White Houses. (HuffPost)

7/ Comey helped release details of his meetings with Trump. Comey acknowledged that he shared copies of his memos documenting his Trump meetings with a “close friend” — a professor at Columbia Law School — who could share the information with reporters. (Washington Post)

8/ Trump's lawyer said Comey made "unauthorized disclosures" of privileged talks designed to damage the president. Marc Kasowitz said Comey's testimony "makes clear that the president never sought to impede the investigation into attempted Russian interference in the 2016 election." (USA Today)

9/ Paul Ryan: Trump asking for Comey's loyalty is "obviously" inappropriate and it's clear that Russia meddled in the US election. "What we need to determine is not whether they did it – we know that. It's what did they do, how did they do it, how do we prevent it from happening again? And then how do we help our allies so that this doesn't happen to them?" (CNN)

10/ Comey's testimony laid out the case that Trump obstructed justice and suggested senior leaders at the FBI might have contemplated the matter before Trump removed him as director. Whether justice was obstructed, Comey said, was a question for recently appointed special counsel Robert Mueller. (Washington Post)

11/ Former Watergate special prosecutor: I helped prosecute Watergate. Comey’s statement is sufficient evidence for an obstruction of justice case. The ball is in Bob Mueller’s court to decide whether he has enough evidence to charge Trump with obstruction and, if so, whether to reach the same conclusion that I reached in the Nixon investigation — that, like everyone else in our system, a president is accountable for committing a federal crime. (Washington Post)

12/ Trump's FBI pick has Russian ties. Christopher Wray's law firm – King & Spalding – represents Rosneft and Gazprom, two of Russia’s biggest state-controlled oil companies. (USA Today)

13/ The House of Representatives passed a bill that would gut major elements of Dodd-Frank, the regulatory legislation drafted in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. The Financial Choice Act exempts financial institutions deemed "too big to fail" from restrictions that limit risk taking. Republicans say Dodd-Frank regulations are the primary reason for anemic economic growth in the US. While the bill passed the House, it faces long odds of becoming law as it would require the support of Democrats in the Senate in order to reach Trump’s desk. (New York Times / CNN Money / Washington Post / CNBC)

14/ House and Senate Democrats plan to sue Trump over conflicts of interest related to the his corporation’s business deals and foreign governments looking to curry favor with the administration. They claim he is breaking the law by refusing to relinquish ownership of his sprawling real-estate empire while it continues to profit from business with foreign governments. (Politico)

15/ Trump doesn't plan to fire Sessions, despite his frustration with Sessions for the handling of the administration’s failed travel ban and for recusing himself from the Russia probe. (Bloomberg)

  • The White House won't say if Trump has confidence in Jeff Sessions. For two straight days, Sean Spicer and Sarah Sanders declined to say if Trump has confidence in the attorney general. (Axios)

16/ Pulling out of the Paris climate agreement could accelerate damage to Trump's real estate empire. Mar-a-Lago, the apartment towers nears Miami, and his Doral golf course are all threatened by rising seas. (Associated Press)

17/ Hawaii passed a law to document rising sea levels and set strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Hawaii is the first state to enact legislation implementing parts of the Paris climate agreement. (NBC News)

poll/ Trump's approval rating hits 34%, a new Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday finds. 40% of voters do not expect Trump to complete his four-year term. (CNN)


More Comey News

1/ Trump, Comey and Obstruction of Justice: A Primer. As the fired FBI director testifies about his dealings with the president, here’s what you need to know about a murky law. (New York Times)

2/ Comey’s Political Shrewdness Is on Display in Tussle With Trump. Comey, a savvy veteran of Washington, has shown why presidents are normally loath to fire their FBI directors. (New York Times)

3/ Trump vs. Comey: A timeline. Here's a timeline on the rupture between the president and the FBI director. (Washington Post)

4/ How cable news networks are reacting to Comey’s hearing. Coverage of former FBI director James Comey’s testimony looks about the same across cable news channels. A closeup of a Senator forming a question, a wide show of the room — there’s just not much to show on TV. (Washington Post)

  • How partisan media covered Comey’s hearing. These are the headlines from right-leaning and left-leaning news organizations. (Axios)

6/ Comey's Duty to Correct. The former FBI director’s insistence on setting the record straight may have cost Clinton the election and Comey his job—and now it’s costing Trump. (The Atlantic)

7/ Who are the senators asking Comey questions today? There are 15 full-time members of the committee — eight Republicans and seven Democrats — and the panel is considered to be one of the last bastions of bipartisanship on Capitol Hill. (Washington Post)


(No Longer) Live Blogs

Day 139: Back off.

1/ Two intelligence chiefs repeatedly refused to say whether Trump asked them to intervene in the Russia probe during their public Senate intelligence committee testimony. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers declined to discuss the specifics of private conversations they had with Trump and whether they had been asked to push back against an FBI probe into collusion between the campaign and the Russian government. Both hinted that they would share more information with senators privately. (CNN / Washington Post / Politico)

  • Democrats are furious at the evasive answers by Coats and Rogers during their Senate intelligence committee testimony. The two intelligence chiefs repeatedly said it wouldn't be appropriate to discuss their conversations with Trump in a public setting. Both indicated they might be more forthcoming in a classified setting, however. (CNN)
  • Senator tells the NSA chief: "What you feel isn’t relevant, admiral." Angus King became visibly frustrated after Mike Rogers repeatedly refused to answer questions about whether Trump tried to interfere in the FBI’s investigation before snapping. (The Hill)

2/ In March, Trump asked Dan Coats if he could get Comey to back off his investigation into Michael Flynn. The director of national intelligence chose not to step in, citing Trump's prodding as inappropriate. CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who was also present for Trump's request, declined to comment on the closed-door discussion. Trump had asked Comey to drop his investigation before he was fired in May. (Washington Post)

3/ Trump told Comey "I need loyalty, I expect loyalty" at a private White House dinner in January, according to Comey's prepared remarks, which were released ahead of his Senate Intelligence Committee testimony tomorrow. Comey said he thought the encounter was designed to "create some part of patronage relationship." Later, in March, Trump pressured Comey to “lift the cloud” put over the administration from the ongoing investigation and repeatedly asked Comey to announce that he was not personally under investigation. (Bloomberg / Washington Post / Politico / New York Times)

  • Comey's opening statement. (Senate.gov)
  • Comey’s seven-page written statement is the "most shocking single document compiled about the official conduct of the public duties of any President since the release of the Watergate tapes." Comey's statement makes no allegations and expresses no opinions, but instead recounts the set of facts Comey is prepared to testify on tomorrow. (Lawfare)

4/ Comey told Jeff Sessions he did not want to be left alone with Trump after the president pressured him to end his investigation into Michael Flynn. Comey confronted Sessions after the encounter, believing that the Justice Department should protect the FBI from White House influence, which it typically does to avoid the appearance of political meddling in law enforcement. (New York Times)

5/ Comey's role in the Russia probe has Trump "infuriated at a deep-gut, personal level," Newt Gingrich said. "He's not going to let some guy like that smear him without punching him as hard as he can." Trump's lawyers and aides have been urging him to resist engaging on Twitter, but are bracing for a worst-case scenario tomorrow: he ignores their advice and tweets his mind anyway. (Washington Post)

6/ Jeff Sessions offered to resign after a series of heated exchanges with Trump. Sessions wanted the freedom to do his job and is upset by Trump's tweets and comments about the Justice Department. Trump is still frustrated with Sessions' decision to recuse himself from the Russia probe, viewing the decision as a sign of weakness. (CNN / Wall Street Journal / New York Times)

7/ James Clapper: Watergate "pales" in comparison to the Trump-Russia scandal. The former US director of national intelligence added that Trump sharing intelligence with Putin was "very problematic" and said firing James Comey was "egregious and inexcusable." (The Guardian)

8/ Eric Trump says Democrats are "not even people" in an interview tirade with Sean Hannity. "I’ve never seen hatred like this. To me, they’re not even people. It’s so, so sad. Morality’s just gone, morals have flown out the window, and we deserve so much better than this as a country. You see the Democratic Party, they’re imploding. They’re imploding. They became obstructionists because they have no message of their own," he said before added that the head of the Democratic National Committee a "total whack job." (The Hill)

9/ Texas Democrat Al Green is drafting articles of impeachment against Trump, saying the president should be forced from office for firing James Comey in the middle of the bureau’s ongoing Russia investigation. (Politico)

10/ Trump's pick for FBI director blindsided White House staff and Congress, leaving much of his senior staff out of the loop before announcing he'd picked Christopher Wray on Twitter. At least six White House and senior officials said that they weren't aware of Trump's decision before his early morning tweet. Wray acted as Chris Christie’s personal attorney during the Bridgegate scandal. Trump called him a "man of impeccable credentials." (The Daily Beast / New York Times / NBC News / Politico)

11/ US investigators believe Russian hackers planted a fake news report in Qatar's state news agency. The Qatar News Agency attributed false remarks to the nation's ruler that appeared friendly to Iran and Israel and questioned whether Trump would last in office. In reaction, Qatar's neighbors, led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, cut off economic and political ties, causing a broader crisis. (CNN)

12/ Fox News host to Trump: "Fake news media" isn’t the issue. "It’s you." Neil Cavuto hit Trump for his criticism of how the media has covered his Twitter habits, saying "Mr. President, it’s not the fake news media that’s your problem. It’s you. It’s not just your tweeting, it’s your scapegoating. It’s your refusal to see that sometimes you’re the one who’s feeding your own beast and acting beastly with your own guys. Look at the critiques you’re now hearing from usually friendly and supportive allies as sort of like an intervention. Because firing off these angry missives and tweets risks your political discussion." (The Hill)

13/ North Korea condemned Trump’s decision to pull out of Paris accord, calling it "the height of egotism" and a “shortsighted and silly decision.” Despite its international isolation, even North Korea signed the Paris agreement. (Washington Post)

poll/ 61% say Trump fired Comey to protect himself and most think Trump is trying to interfere with official investigations of possible Russian influence in the 2016 election. (ABC News)

Day 138: Show them a body.

1/ Senate Republicans’ are aiming for a vote on their Obamacare repeal by the Fourth of July recess. Republican leaders are faced with two choices: craft a bill that can get 50 votes, or bring up a bill they know will fail in order to end the health care debate and move on to tax reform, demonstrating that Republicans are too divided. They're prepared to take a failed vote on the Obamacare repeal in order to "show them a body" and bring the seven-year quest to a definitive end. (Politico / Vox)

2/ Trump's frustration with Jeff Sessions grows, blaming him for the "watered down, politically correct version" of the travel ban. He's also upset with Sessions' decision to recuse himself from investigations related to the Russia probe. (New York Times)

3/ Eric Trump called the Trump-Russia collusion allegations the "greatest hoax of all time." He added that the investigation into possible coordination between his father’s presidential campaign and the Kremlin’s election meddling was a "witch hunt." (The Daily Beast / ABC News)

4/ Donald Trump shifted money from Eric Trump's kids cancer charity into his business. Eric Trump's charity golf event was supposed to use his family's golf course for free with most of the other costs donated, but the Trump Organization billed the charity for more than $1.2 million for its use. Golf charity experts say the listed expenses defy any reasonable cost justification for a one-day golf tournament. The "maneuver would appear to have more in common with a drug cartel's money-laundering operation than a charity's best-practices textbook." (Forbes)

5/ The contractor that leaked classified NSA documents on Russian hacking was charged by the Justice Department. Reality Leigh Winner, 25, is accused of "removing classified material from a government facility and mailing it to a news outlet." She leaked a top-secret NSA report showing that Russian military intelligence executed a cyberattack on at least one US voting software supplier last year. Winner faces up to 10 years in prison for leaking classified information. (CNN / Washington Post)

  • What we know about the leaked secret NSA report on Russia. (ABC News

6/ The Russian attacks on the election systems were broader and targeted more states than those detailed in yesterday's leaked intelligence report. The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee said, "I don't believe they got into changing actual voting outcomes." (USA Today)

7/ The acting US ambassador to China quit over Trump's climate policy, feeling unable to deliver the formal notification of the US decision to leave the agreement. (Reuters / CNN / NBC News)

8/ Scott Pruitt falsely claimed that "almost 50,000 jobs" have been added in coal. The actual gains were in "mining" jobs, which have nothing to do with coal. 1,000 coal jobs have been added since Trump became president. (Washington Post)

9/ Trump took credit for the $110 billion arms deal to Saudi Arabia that began in the Obama administration. Further, there is no deal: just letters of interest for "intended sales," but no contracts. (Brookings)

10/ He also appeared to take credit for the Gulf nations decision to cut diplomatic relations with Qatar, an important US ally. Qatar hosts one of the Pentagon's largest military bases in the Middle East and is a linchpin in the campaign against ISIS. (CNN / The Daily Beast)

11/ Kids are quoting Trump to bully their classmates. There's been more than 50 incidents, across 26 states, where a white K-12 student used Trump's rhetoric to bully Latino, Middle Eastern, black, Asian, or Jewish classmates. Teachers don't know what to do about it. (BuzzFeed News)

12/ Comey will stop short of accusing Trump of obstructing justice in his congressional testimony, despite some legal experts saying Trump's requests could meet the legal definition of obstruction. Comey will also dispute Trump's assertion that Comey told him three times he is not under investigation. "He is not going to Congress to make accusations about the president’s intent, instead he’s there to share his concerns." (ABC News)

13/ Trump might live-tweet during Comey's testimony on Thursday. He "wants to be the messenger, his own warrior, his own lawyer, his own spokesman" and as such will directly respond to Comey on Twitter as the testimony is underway. "He wants to be the one driving the process." (CNBC / The Hill / Raw Story)

14/ Sean Spicer said Trump's tweets are official statements, but didn't indicate whether that included both of his Twitter handles: @realDonaldTrump and @POTUS. Regardless, the ACLU said they will use Trump's tweets to build their argument in the Supreme Court case on the travel ban. (CNN)

  • The Knight First Amendment Institute asked Trump to unblock his critics on Twitter, saying his account is a “designated public forum” subject to the First Amendment and bars the government from excluding individuals from a public forum because of their views. (Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University )

Day 137: Blindsided.

1/ A top-secret NSA report shows Russian military intelligence executed a cyberattack on at least one US voting software supplier last year, sending spear-phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials just days before the election. The report indicates that Russian hacking penetrated further into voting systems than was previously understood and states unequivocally that it was Russian military intelligence that conducted the attacks. The NSA report is at odds with Putin’s denial that Russia had interfered in foreign elections: "We never engaged in that on a state level, and have no intention of doing so." (The Intercept)

2/ Putin denied having compromising information on Trump. During an interview with Megyn Kelly, Putin called the dossier of unverified information "just another load of nonsense." He added: "I haven’t seen, even once, any direct proof of Russian interference in the presidential election in the United States." Seventeen US intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia interfered with the election. (Politico / The Daily Beast)

3/ Even Trump's national security team was blindsided by his NATO speech. National security adviser H.R. McMaster, Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had all urged Trump to explicitly reaffirm America’s commitment to the NATO mutual defense clause (known as Article 5) in his speech. Instead, Trump, along with Steve Bannon and policy aide Stephen Miller, made a last-minute decision to remove the commitment reference without consulting or informing McMaster, Mattis, or Tillerson. (Politico)

4/ Trump won't invoke his executive privilege to prevent Comey from testifying to Congress. Comey is scheduled to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday, testifying about conversations where Trump encouraged him to stop investigating Michael Flynn, as well as asking Comey to pledge his loyalty, which he declined to do. Legal experts said Trump had a weak case to invoke executive privilege, because he has publicly addressed his conversations with Comey, and any such move would carry serious political risks. (New York Times)

5/ Trump doubled down on his original travel ban, attacking the Justice Department for the "watered down" version now headed to the Supreme Court. Trump’s latest tweets undercut his own staff, who've insisted the order is not a travel ban. The administration rewrote his original order, which was thrown out by the courts, in an effort to pass legal muster. The second version was also rejected, but the administration appealed has since appealed it to the Supreme Court. Trump's called for the end to political correctness, saying terrorism "will only get worse" if the US doesn’t "get smart" and reinstate his travel ban. Legal analysts said Trump is undermining his own case. (New York Times / Politico / Washington Post)

  • Trump ramps up his push for a "TRAVEL BAN!" as opposition emerges from Republican and Democratic lawmakers. In a series of tweets, Trump circled back on his push for the travel ban in the wake of Saturday’s terrorist attack in London. (Washington Post)

6/ While world leaders called for unity after the London attack, Trump tweeted the complete opposite. Before London police had linked the attack to terrorism, or released any information on the identities, ethnicities or nationalities of the suspects, Trump retweeted an unsourced blurb from Drudge – "Fears of new terror attack after van 'mows down 20 people' on London Bridge" – and then started promoting his travel ban. (Washington Post)

  • Trump’s tweets strain foreign ties, as he wasted little time defending his travel ban and attacking the mayor of London as not being tough on terrorism. (New York Times)
  • Trump can’t be counted on to give accurate information to Americans when violent acts are unfolding abroad. A look at some of his weekend tweets about the London attack and rhetoric that came from the president and his aides about climate change and more last week. (Associated Press)
  • Conway's husband rips Trump for "travel ban" tweets. (The Hill)

7/ A Louisiana Congressman proposed an extreme solution to the London terror attacks: kill any suspected radical Muslim. Representative Clay Higgins wrote on his Facebook page that "all of Christendom… is at war with Islamic horror" and that "not a single radicalized Islamic suspect should be granted any measure of quarter" and their "entry to the American homeland should be summarily denied. Every conceivable measure should be engaged to hunt them down. Hunt them, identity them, and kill them.” He concluded that the only appropriate solution was to “Kill them all. For the sake of all that is good and righteous. Kill them all.” (Facebook / Mother Jones)

8/ Jeff Sessions and Rod Rosenstein never told Comey they were uneasy with his "deeply troubling" and "serious mistakes" before they fired him. The former FBI director is "angry" they failed to flag their concerns and he wants the public to understand why when he testifies publicly this week about his axing, and alleged collusion between Trump associates and the Russian government. (ABC News)

  • Conservatives question Comey’s credibility ahead of his Senate hearing. “I don’t know that he’s credible with facts. He hasn’t been credible so far.” (McClatchy DC)
  • The Comey hearing consumes Washington ahead of his appearance before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday and speculation grows on whether the ousted FBI director’s remarks could further damage Trump. (Politico)

9/ The Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee asked to unmask organizations and individuals related to Russian meddling in the 2016 election. The requests came last year and required sign-off by Nunes, who's the chairman of the committee. Both Nunes and Trump have called unmasking an abuse of surveillance powers by the Obama administration. (Washington Post)

poll/ Trump's job approval rating drops to 36% with 58% of Americans disapproving of his performance. (Gallup / CNN)

poll/ Nearly 6 in 10 oppose Trump's scrapping of the Paris agreement. 59% of Americans oppose the decision to withdraw, saying the move will damage the United States’ global leadership, while 28% in support the decision. (Washington Post)

Day 134: Showdown supreme.

1/ Trump asked the Supreme Court to revive his travel ban, appealing a ruling by the 4th Circuit that upheld a nationwide halt on the ban. The move sets up a showdown over a "president’s authority to make national security judgments in the name of protecting Americans from terrorism." (Washington Post / New York Times / CNN)

2/ Cities, states, and companies are banding together to form a climate alliance. Washington, California, and New York – representing about a fifth of the US economy – have formed the United States Climate Alliance, which will serve as a way for states interested in dealing with climate change to coordinate. At least 80 mayors, three governors, more than 80 university presidents, and more than 100 businesses are preparing to submit a plan to the UN pledging to meet the United States’ greenhouse gas emission target, despite Trump’s decision to withdraw from the agreement. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / NBC News)

  • Climate Mayors commit to adopt, honor and uphold Paris Climate Agreement goals. 83 Mayors representing 40 million Americans, we will adopt, honor, and uphold the commitments to the goals enshrined in the Paris Agreement. (Climate Mayors)
  • Rex Tillerson said the US will likely to continue to reduce greenhouse gas emissions despite exiting the Paris climate change agreement. Trump has started to roll back nearly all of Obama’s climate change policies, including the limits on greenhouse and methane gas emissions. (The Hill)

3/ Michael Bloomberg pledges $15 million to help foot the Paris Climate Agreement bill. Bloomberg Philanthropies and its partners will cover part of the United States' share of the operating budget. Trump's budget could cut as much as $2 billion in funding for UN climate change programs as a result of leaving the Paris agreement. (CNN Money)

4/ The White House ordered federal agencies to ignore Democrats’ oversight requests, fearing the information could be weaponized against Trump. The goal is to choke off the Democratic congressional minorities from asking questions of the administration intended to embarrass or attack the president. (Politico)

5/ US intelligence agencies formally asked the Justice Department to investigate Russia-related leaks. As many as six recent leaks have been formally referred to the DOJ for criminal investigation. (ABC News)

6/ The Russia probe now includes a grand jury investigation into Michael Flynn. Robert Mueller's investigation is looking into Flynn’s paid work as a lobbyist for a Turkish businessman and contacts between Russian officials and Flynn and other Trump associates during and after the election. (Reuters)

7/ Mueller's also assumed oversight of the ongoing Paul Manafort investigation and could expand to include Jeff Sessions. Manafort was forced to resign as Trump campaign chairman related to business dealings years ago in Ukraine, which predated the 2016 counterintelligence probe into possible collusion between Moscow and Trump associates. Sessions role in the decision to fire Comey could also come under investigation. (Associated Press)

8/ The Trump team wanted to lift sanctions on Russia when he took office, but career diplomats pressured Congress to block the move. Bipartisan legislation was introduced in February to bar the administration from granting sanctions relief without a congressional review. The proposed bill was shelved six days later when Flynn resigned, making it "clear that if they lifted sanctions, there would be a political firestorm." (Yahoo News / NBC News)

9/ Hurricane season started yesterday with nobody in charge at FEMA or NOAA. The agencies that oversee the government's weather forecasting and response to disasters are both leaderless nearly five months after Trump was sworn in. Forecasters say the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season could bring "above-normal" storm activity. (NPR)

10/ At least one Republican senator thinks a health care deal is unlikely this year. At least three conservative Republicans are opposed to the health care goals of three moderate Republicans, making the path to 50 votes difficult despite Republicans controlling 52 seats in the Senate. (Wall Street Journal)

11/ Trump appoints a new CIA Iran chief, signaling a more aggressive line toward Iran. Michael D’Andrea oversaw the hunt for Osama bin Laden and the American drone strike campaign, and "perhaps no single CIA official is more responsible for weakening Al Qaeda." (New York Times)

  • The Trump administration is returning copies of the CIA torture report. The return of the report to the Senate committee “is extremely disturbing on a number of levels" and raises the possibility that copies of the 6,700-page report could be locked in Senate vaults for good. (New York Times)

Day 133: It's heating up.

1/ Trump pulled the US from the Paris climate accord, prioritizing the economy over the environment and global alliances. Trump will stick to the process laid out in the Paris agreement, which will take about four years to complete, leaving a final decision up to American voters in the 2020 election. Trump said the US will "begin negotiations to reenter the Paris accord" to "see if we can make a deal that's fair. And if we can, that's great." He argued that the Paris agreement would “punish” Americans by instituting “onerous energy restrictions” that stymie economic growth, while leaders around the world said the exit from the accord is an irresponsible abdication of American leadership. The US is the world's #2 greenhouse-gas producer, and would have accounted for 21% of the total emissions reduced by the accord through 2030. All but two countries — Nicaragua and Syria — signed onto the 2015 accord. (New York Times / Associated Press / Washington Post / Politico / NPR)

White House Memo:

"The Paris Accord is a BAD deal for Americans, and the President’s action today is keeping his campaign promise to put American workers first. The Accord was negotiated poorly by the Obama Administration and signed out of desperation."

  • Al Gore on Trump's withdrawal from the Paris Agreement: “Removing the United States from the Paris Agreement is a reckless and indefensible action. It undermines America’s standing in the world and threatens to damage humanity’s ability to solve the climate crisis in time. (Al Gore)
  • Obama: The Trump administration joins a "handful of nations that reject the future," adding the accord "opened the floodgates" to jobs as opposed to being the economic drag Trump has cast it as. (ABC News)
  • Elon Musk quits Trump's advisory council in response to the US withdrawing from the Paris climate accord. (The Daily Beast)

2/ Germany, France and Italy respond: The Paris deal cannot be renegotiated. "We deem the momentum generated in Paris in December 2015 irreversible and we firmly believe that the Paris Agreement cannot be renegotiated since it is a vital instrument for our planet, societies and economies," the leaders of the three countries said in a joint statement. (Reuters)

3/ Congress is examining whether Jeff Sessions had a third undisclosed meeting with Russia's ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the presidential campaign. During his confirmation hearing on January 10, Sessions testified that he "did not have any communications with the Russians" during the campaign. In March, reports emerged that Sessions met with Kislyak in July and September. He insisted those meetings were part of Senate duties and not the campaign. (CNN)

4/ Senators had asked Comey to investigate Sessions for possible perjury before he was fired by Trump. "We are concerned about Attorney General Sessions' lack of candor to the committee and his failure thus far to accept responsibility for testimony that could be construed as perjury," Senators Patrick Leahy and Al Franken wrote to Comey in their first request. The Senators sent requests to Comey and, later, acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe in three letters dated March 20, April 28 and May 12. (CNN)

5/ Putin insists Russia never engaged in hacking, but praised Trump's lack of political background as a good thing. Putin denied any state role, but acknowledged that some individual "patriotically minded" private Russian hackers could have mounted an attack. He added that Trump is "a straightforward person, a frank person," which is a political advantage because "he has a fresh set of eyes." (Associated Press / New York Times)

6/ The former pro-Brexit Ukip leader is a "person of interest" in the FBI investigation into Trump and Russia. Nigel Farage's relationships with both the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has raised the interest of the FBI. “If you triangulate Russia, WikiLeaks, Assange and Trump associates the person who comes up with the most hits is Nigel Farage. He’s right in the middle of these relationships." (The Guardian)

7/ The administration is considering returning two Russian diplomatic compounds in NYC and Maryland, which were closed by Obama as punishment for interference in the election. The Trump administration told the Russians that it would give the properties back to Moscow if it would lift the freeze on construction of a new US consulate in St. Petersburg. (Washington Post)

8/ The White House will stop answering questions about the Trump-Russia investigation. Spicer told reporters that any future questions about the investigation would be addressed by Trump's personal lawyer. (The Hill)

9/ The federal government now requires US visa applicants to provide their last five years' worth of social media handles, email addresses and phone numbers. They must also provide 15 years of biographical information including addresses, employment and travel history. (Reuters)

10/ Trump exempted his entire senior staff from his own ethics rules, allowing them to work with political and advocacy groups that support the administration. Conway, for instance, can now communicate and meet with organizations that previously employed her consulting firm, while Bannon can talk with Breitbart News, which he chaired until last year. The White House said that the waivers were in the public interest because the administration needed appointees' expertise on certain issues. (The Daily Beast / Washington Post)

11/ Comey will testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee next Thursday as long as Trump doesn't block him. Trump could invoke executive privilege and try to prevent testimony from Comey, who is expected to be asked about several conversations he had with Trump. Presidents have a constitutional right to keep discussions a secret in many instances. However, Trump has made it difficult to assert executive privilege by repeatedly and publicly referring to his conversations with Comey. A public session will be held in the morning, followed by a private briefing. (New York Times / Politico)

poll/ A majority of Americans in every state say that the US should participate in the Paris Climate Agreement. 69% of all voters say the US should participate in the agreement, while 47% of Trump voters want the US to participate. (Yale - Climate Change in the American Mind)

Day 132: Au revoir.

1/ Trump will withdraw from the Paris climate deal. A small team is now deciding on whether to initiate a full withdrawal, which could take 3 years, or exit the underlying United Nations climate change treaty, which would be a faster, more extreme move. World leaders, the Pope, major oil companies, and even Ivanka and Kushner have pushed Trump to stay in the deal. (Axios / Politico / New York Times)

  • UN Secretary-General on climate change: "Get on board or get left behind." (Axios)

2/ Elon Musk threatens to leave Trump's advisory councils if the US exits the Paris climate deal. He joins twenty-five leading tech companies who signed a letter arguing in favor of climate pact that is set to run as a full-page ad in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal tomorrow. (Bloomberg / Politico / The Verge)

3/ Comey will testify publicly about Trump pressuring him to end his investigation into Flynn's ties to Russia. Comey will appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee and is expected to confirm that Trump confronted him over the Russia investigations. Mueller and Comey discussed parameters to ensure his testimony won’t hurt the special counsel’s investigation. It will be Comey's first time speaking in public since Trump unexpectedly fired him. (CNN / Wall Street Journal)

4/ The House Intelligence Committee issued seven subpoenas. Four are related to the Russia investigation – Michael Flynn and Trump's personal attorney Michael Cohen, and their businesses. The other three – to NSA, FBI, CIA – are related to how and why the names of Trump's associates were "unmasked." (Wall Street Journal)

5/ Al Franken: "everything points to" collusion between Trump's campaign and the Russians. "My feeling is that there was some cooperation between the Trump campaign and the Russians," the Minnesota Democrat said. (Bloomberg)

6/ The Russia probe has slowed Trump’s effort to fill hundreds of vacant jobs across the federal government. The growing scandal is scaring off candidates and distracting aides from finding new recruits. The White House has announced nominees for just 117 of the 559 most important Senate-confirmed positions. (Politico)

7/ Trump's top advisers claim he backed NATO's Article 5, despite never explicitly doing so during his speech to NATO last week. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed by the national security adviser and director of the national economic council, they wrote that by "reconfirming America’s commitment to NATO and Article 5, the president challenged our allies to share equitably the responsibility for our mutual defense." (Wall Street Journal)

8/ Paul Ryan appointed a controversial cancer doctor to a Health and Human Services committee, which will advise the Trump administration on policy around health information technology. Patrick Soon-Shiong leads a network of for-profit and not-for-profit ventures researching cancer. The problem: the majority of the expenditures of his nonprofits flow to his for-profit businesses, raising questions about potential conflicts of interest. (Politico)

9/ Trump didn't expect so much "covfefe" of his midnight tweet. The big guy fired off "…negative press covfefe" just before going to bed. Six hours later, he corrected the mistake, but not before becoming a worldwide joke on social media. So much for letting his lawyers vet his tweets. (Associated Press)

  • Sean Spicer offered a cryptic explanation for Trump’s incomplete, misspelled tweet that went viral overnight: "The president and a small group of people know exactly what he meant." (The Hill)

10/ Meanwhile, Trump's been asking world leaders to call him on his cellphone, breaking protocol and raising concerns about the security and secrecy of his communications. (Associated Press)

11/ Jared Kushner built a luxury skyscraper using loans designed to benefit projects in poor, job-starved areas. Working with state officials in New Jersey, they defined a district that included some of the city's poorest and most crime-ridden neighborhoods, but excluded wealthy neighborhoods blocks away, allowing Kushner Companies and its partners to get $50 million in low-cost financing. While not illegal, critics liken it to the gerrymandering of legislative districts. (Washington Post)

poll/ 8% think GOP health care bill should pass. Nearly half of consumers say that their cost of health care will be "worse" under the American Health Care Act, compared to 16% who think the cost will be "better" and 36% who feel it will be "about the same." (CNN Money)

poll/ 43% want Congress to begin impeachment proceedings, but most don't believe that Trump is actually guilty of an impeachable offense, like treason, bribery or obstructing justice. (Politico)

Day 131: Derogatory information.

1/ Russians discussed having potentially "derogatory" information about the Trump team during the campaign. Intercepted communications suggest that the Russians believed "they had the ability to influence the administration through the derogatory information." (CNN)

2/ Michael Flynn will turn over some business records to the Senate Intelligence Committee. Flynn initially refused to cooperate with a Senate subpoena, claiming his constitutional right against self incrimination. The committee then subpoenaed records from two of his businesses, which cannot be shielded by the Fifth Amendment. (Wall Street Journal)

3/ The Russia investigation now includes Trump's personal attorney. Michael Cohen turned down invitations from the House and Senate investigators "to provide information and testimony" about any contacts he had with people connected to the Russian government. He said he'll "gladly" testify if Congress subpoenas him. (ABC News / CNN / New York Times)

4/ Investigators are examining why Kushner met with a Russian banker during the transition and what they wanted from each other. It is not clear if Kushner wanted to use the banker as a go-between or whether it was part of the effort to establish a direct, secure line to Putin. The banker, Sergey Gorkov, is a close associate of Putin. (New York Times)

5/ James Clapper says Russia "absolutely" meddled in the 2016 election. The former director of national intelligence said there has never been a case of election interference more aggressive than what happened in 2016. He added, however, that it's unclear if the "interference actually affected the outcome of the election." (CNN)

6/ Kellyanne Conway called Kushner's Russian backchannel "regular course of business." Former national security officials have said that backchannels are out of the norm for a presidential transition and that could possibly be illegal. (Politico)

7/ Trump called for the Senate to end the filibuster so his agenda could pass “fast and easy.” Eliminating the filibuster would allow legislation to pass with a simple majority (51 votes), rather than the 60 votes currently needed for a bill to pass the Senate. (The Hill)

8/ The White House communication director resigned after three months. Mike Dubke’s exit comes as Trump weighs larger staff changes in an effort to contain the deepening Russia scandal. Dubke stepped down as communications director on May 18, but offered to stay through Trump's first foreign trip, which just ended. (Politico / Axios)

9/ Intelligence briefings must be short and full of "killer graphics" in Trump's administration. The daily briefings are so casual and visually driven – maps, charts, pictures, and videos – that the CIA director and director of national intelligence are worried Trump may not be retaining all the intelligence he is presented. Rank-and-file staffers are "very worried about how do you deal with him and about sharing with him sensitive material." (Washington Post)

10/ A Texas lawmaker threatened to shoot a colleague after reporting protesters to ICE. Representative Matt Rinaldi called ICE on "several illegal immigrants" after seeing signs in the gallery at the State Capitol that read, "I am illegal and here to stay." Rinaldi then threatened to shoot a lawmaker who objected. (New York Times / NPR)

11/ Trump called for more spending on health care so it’s "the best anywhere." Trump's budget proposal from last week called for cuts between $800 billion and $1.4 trillion in future spending on Medicaid, in addition to cuts in healthcare programs for low-income children. His budget did not propose new healthcare spending. (Washington Post)

12/ Trump is expected to roll back Obamacare's birth control coverage for religious employers. The White House is reviewing a draft rule to provide "conscience-based objections to the preventive-care mandate," which would undo the required free contraception requirement from the Affordable Care Act. (New York Times / Washington Post)

13/ Trump's budget proposal wants the poor to work for their government benefits by enabling states to apply for waivers to add work requirements. Currently, states can't force Medicaid recipients to work. While the food stamp program contains an employment requirement, it is often waived. Both would change if the budget is passed. (CNN Money)

Day 130: Backchannel.

1/ Trump is considering big changes at the White House in an effort to contain the escalating Russia investigation that threatens to consume his presidency. “Everything is in play,” an advisor said. Trump may bring back a trio of former campaign officials (Corey Lewandowski, David Bossie and David Urban) to handle communications and political duties related to the Russia investigation, and – shockingly – he's even considering having lawyers vet his tweets. (Wall Street Journal / Washington Post)

2/ Kushner wanted a secret communications channel with the Kremlin so Michael Flynn could discuss strategy in Syria and other security issues directly with senior military officials in Moscow. The channel was never set up, but was proposed by Kushner during an early December meeting at Trump Tower with ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Kushner suggested using Russian diplomatic facilities in the US for the communications. (Washington Post / New York Times)

  • Kushner had at least three previously undisclosed contacts with the Russian ambassador to the US during and after the 2016 presidential campaign, including two phone calls between April and November last year. Kushner's attorney said his client did not remember any calls with Kislyak between April and November. (Reuters)
  • In December Kushner met with Sergey Gorkov, a Russian banker and "Putin crony" who is also graduate of a "finishing school" for spies. (NBC News)

3/ Trump has "total confidence" in Jared Kushner, despite coming under fire that he tried to create backchannel with Russia to shield the Trump team from public view. Some Democrats are calling for Trump to revoke Kushner’s security clearances. (New York Times)

4/ National security adviser: "I would not be concerned" by backchannel communications with Russia. H.R. McMaster didn't specifically comment on the controversy surrounding Kushner. (CNN)

5/ Kushner is under pressure to "lay low" and take a leave of absence from the White House amid reports that he is under FBI scrutiny. (NBC News / The Hill)

6/ Trump attacks "fake news" for reporting that Kushner had discussed setting up a secret communications channel with the Russians. (New York Times)

7/ The Senate Intelligence Committee wants all of Trump's Russia-related documents, emails and phone records going back to his campaign’s launch in June 2015. It's the first time that Trump’s official campaign structure has been drawn into the Senate committee’s ongoing bipartisan investigation. (Washington Post)

8/ The Trump campaign likely didn’t preserve digital documents. "You’d be giving us too much credit," a former aide said. "The idea of document retention did not come up. The idea of some formal structure did not come up." Failure to keep track of emails, messages and other records could expose Trump’s current and former aides to criminal charges down the line. (Politico)

9/ A Russian oligarch with ties to Paul Manafort wants immunity for cooperating with congressional intelligence committees. The Senate and House panels turned him down because of concerns that immunity agreements will complicate federal criminal investigations. The two did business together in the mid-2000s, when Manafort was providing campaign advice to Kremlin-backed politicians in Ukraine. Oleg Deripaska is a member of Putin's inner circle. (New York Times)

10/ Trump privately said he plans to leave the Paris agreement on climate change, despite his public position that he hasn't made up his mind. Leaving the Paris agreement is the biggest thing Trump could do to unwind Obama's climate policies and signal to the rest of the world that climate change isn't a priority for his administration. (Axios)

  • Exxon CEO urges Trump to keep the US in the Paris climate agreement in a personal letter. (The Financial Times)

11/ Angela Merkel: Europe can no longer "completely depend" on the US after G7 leaders failed to persuade Trump to back the Paris climate accord. "There are no signs of whether the US will stay in the Paris accords or not," Merkel said. (New York Times)

12/ Trump tweets that North Korea's latest ballistic missile test showed "great disrespect" to China. North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile that landed in the Sea of Japan. (The Hill)

13/ Tourism to the US has declined 11% since Trump took office, hitting a low of 16% in March. (NBC News)

Day 127: Disinformation.

1/ Comey acted on Russian information he knew was fake for fear that if it became public it would undermine the probe into Hillary Clinton's email and the Justice Department. The Russian intelligence claimed that then-Attorney General Lynch had been compromised and suggested she would make the FBI investigation of Clinton go away. If the Russians had released the information publicly, there would be no way for law enforcement and intelligence officials to discredit it without burning their sources and methods. (CNN)

2/ Jared Kushner is now a focus in the Russia investigation. Kushner is being investigated for possible coordination between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign to influence the 2016 presidential election, as well as possible financial crimes. (Washington Post / NBC News)

  • Kushner is willing to cooperate with investigators. Kushner had meetings last year with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak and Russian banker Sergey Gorkov. (Bloomberg)

3/ Trump called the Germans "bad, very bad" for selling a lot of cars in the US. He vowed to block German car exports to the US at a meeting with EU leaders, ignoring the fact that many “foreign” cars are actually made in the US, while many “American” cars are made in Canada and Mexico. (Der Spiegel / Slate)

4/ The FBI won’t provide Comey's memos to Congress, until it consults with Robert Mueller, the new special counsel overseeing the Russia investigation. (Politico)

5/ Senate Republicans are considering a plan to push the Obamacare repeal to 2020. They're weighing a two-step process to replace Obamacare, as they seek to draft a more modest version than a House plan. (Bloomberg)

  • McConnell may have been right that it may be too hard to replace Obamacare. The meetings Republicans have held to discuss a Senate health care bill have exposed deep issues within the party. (New York Times)

6/ Trump told Macron that he did not back Marine Le Pen, contrary to media reports saying he liked the far-right leader. He added: "You were my guy." (Reuters)

7/ John Boehner on Trump: "everything else he's done has been a complete disaster," other than getting the House to pass the health care bill. The former house speaker went on to say that Trump is "still learning how to be president." (CNN)

Day 126: Street fighters.

1/ Trump's prepping for a years-long war under the cloud of a special investigation. The White House is "getting street fighters ready to go" with legal, surrogate, communications, and rapid-response teams as part of a "new normal." With Trump on tour in the Middle East and Europe, Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus are at home, putting in place the means to keep his agenda moving ahead and avoid "paralysis." (Axios / Politico)

2/ Trump chastises "obsolete" NATO about how it's "not fair" some members don't pay their share. He lectured 23 of the 28 member for what he called their "chronic underpayments" to the military alliance. The mutual defense pledge requires nations to contribute at least 2% of their GDP. (ABC News / New York Times / Washington Post)

3/ A federal appeals court will not reinstate Trump’s revised travel ban, saying it "drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination." The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the injunction, saying the executive order violated the First Amendment’s ban on government establishment of religion – In this case singling out Muslims. (New York Times / Politico)

4/ Macron out-Trumps Trump in "fierce" handshake duel. Editor's note: The descriptions are too good to summarize, so I'm quoting in full:

From the Washington Post: "…the two men shook hands for six long seconds. Their knuckles turned white, their jaws clenched and their faces tightened. Trump reached in first, but then he tried to release, twice, but Macron kept his grip until letting go." (Washington Post)

From Bloomberg: "Trump’s trick is to go in strong and then hold on just slightly too long, often pulling the other man toward him. Meeting Macron for the first time before a NATO summit in Brussels, Trump went in firm as usual. But this time, it was Trump – not Macron – who tried to back out first. Macron simply wouldn’t let go as Trump tried to pull back once, and then flexed his fingers straight to get out. On the second try, he was able to pull away." (Bloomberg)

5/ A group of 22 Republican senators are urging Trump to exit the Paris climate deal. They say the provisions in the Clean Air Act and the Paris agreement would create "significant litigation risk," which puts fully rescinding the Clean Power Plan in danger. (Axios)

6/ Paul Manafort remained in contact and continued to advise the Trump team even after the FBI launched its Russia probe. Manafort called Priebus a week before the inauguration to tell him the dossier by a former British spy that alleged Russia had compromising information on Trump and his associates was "garbage." Manafort was forced to resign as Trump’s campaign chairman due to his ties to Kremlin-aligned politicians in Europe. (Politico)

  • Russians had discussed how to influence Trump advisors last summer. Specifically, Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn, who both had close ties to Russia. It's unclear if Russian officials attempted to influence either. (New York Times)

7/ Sessions was advised not to disclose his meetings with Russian officials when he applied for security clearance. Democratic lawmakers are demanding for Sessions’s resignation. "He’s lied under oath," Senator Kamala Harris said. "He’s misled on security clearance forms. It’s simple — he should not be the Attorney General." (New York Times)

8/ Reince Priebus is sweating Comey's secret memos. Three White House officials said Priebus has expressed worry about a memo involving one of their chats, and how it might play in the press and to investigators. (The Daily Beast)

9/ A Montana GOP House candidate was charged with assault after "body-slamming" a journalist. Greg Gianforte grabbed the reporter by the neck with both hands, slammed him into the ground, and then began punching the reporter. Misdemeanor charges were filed against Gianforte, who was "sick and tired of this!" – "this" being a question. (The Guardian / Fox News)

10/ A Mar-A-Lago employee is doing work for Trump's foreign trip. The guest reception manager at Trump's "Winter White House" is in Italy helping Trump’s logistics team. (BuzzFeed News)

11/ Lieberman withdraws from consideration for FBI Director job. Once considered the front-runner to replace James Comey, he's formally withdrawn citing the appearance of a conflict of interest now that Trump’s tapped his boss, attorney Marc Kasowitz, as outside counsel in the Russia investigation. (Wall Street Journal / Politico / ABC News)

12/ Trump condemned "leaks of sensitive information" after complaints From Britain. Manchester police said they would no longer share details of the investigation with the US after crime-scene photos and suspected bomber's name were leaked to American media. (New York Times / Washington Post)

poll/ 40% approve of Trump job performance, with 53% disapproving. Pence, meanwhile, clocks in at a 42% approval to 43% disapproval rating. (The Hill)

Day 125: A madman with nukes.

1/ Trump called Kim Jong Un a "madman with nuclear weapons," days before stating publicly that he would be "honored" to meet with Kim. In an April 29 call with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, Trump asked for his input on whether Kim is "stable or not stable." Duterte has been accused of presiding over the extrajudicial killing of thousands of drug dealers and users. (Washington Post)

2/ The US has two nuclear submarines off the coast of North Korea, Trump told Duterte during last month's call. He revealed that “we have a lot of firepower over there. We have two submarines — the best in the world. We have two nuclear submarines, not that we want to use them at all." (New York Times)

3/ The Pentagon is in shock that Trump told Duterte about the submarines. The Pentagon never talks about the location of submarines on the belief that stealth is key to their mission. (BuzzFeed News)

4/ Trump congratulated Duterte for doing an "unbelievable job" in his war on drugs, where the government has allowed extrajudicial killing for drug dealers and users. "You are a good man," Trump told Duterte. "Keep up the good work." The State Department’s human rights report calls the Philippines "disregard for human rights and due process" one of the "most significant human rights problems." (The Intercept / Politico)

5/ Pope Francis urged Trump to meet US commitments on climate change. He gave Trump copy of his 2015 encyclical (a type of papal document used for significant or important issues) calling for urgent, drastic cuts in fossil-fuel emissions. Trump has called climate change a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. (Bloomberg)

6/ Jeff Sessions did not disclose meetings with Russian officials when he applied for his security clearance. Sessions met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at least twice last year, but didn't failed to note those interactions on the security clearance form. (CNN)

7/ The House Intelligence Committee will subpoena Michael Flynn after he declined to appear before the panel. Flynn already rejected requests from the Senate Intelligence Committee for a list of his contacts with Russian officials, invoking his Fifth Amendments rights against self-incrimination. (Reuters / Associated Press / Politico)

  • Flynn hit with two Senate Intelligence Committee subpoenas and risks being held in contempt of Congress if he doesn't comply. (ABC News)

8/ Trump lawyers up and retains Marc Kasowitz for the Russia investigation. Related, former Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman joined Kasowitz' law firm in 2013 and was Trump's top choice for the FBI director job. The administration hit the reset button on the search today, wanting to see a broader list of candidates. (NBC News / CNN)

9/ Trump's hotels are failing to track payments received from foreign governments despite his promise to donate all profits back to the Treasury. A Trump Organization policy suggests that it is up to foreign governments, not Trump hotels, to determine whether they self-report their business. (NBC News)

10/ The House health care bill would leave 23 million more uninsured by 2026, the Congressional Budget Office projected. If passed, 14 million people would lose insurance next year and would make coverage less comprehensive than it is now for those still insured. The Senate has already said it will make substantial changes to the measure passed by the House. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / Bloomberg)

11/ Mitch McConnell on Obamacare: "I don't know how we get to 50 (votes)." The Senate Majority Leader has not asked the White House for input on the legislation being crafted to dismantle Obamacare. McConnell has promised to undo Obamacare "root and branch," but Congress and the White House have struggled to come up with a consensus plan despite controlling both branches of government. (Reuters)

12/ Ben Carson called poverty "a state of mind." He said he believes that government can provide a "helping hand" for people to climb out of poverty, but warned against programs that are "sustaining them in a position of poverty." (Washington Post)

13/ Democrats flipped seats in two districts that voted for Trump. The new legislature seats in New York and New Hampshire won't change the balance of power, but may signal a change in the country's political climate. (HuffPost)

Poll/ 65% of voters believe there is a lot of fake news in the mainstream media. 84% of voters said it's hard to know what news to believe online. (Editor's Suggestion: Get the fuck off Facebook.) (The Hill)

Day 124: Cuts for the poor.

1/ Trump's first budget can be summed up like this: Cuts for the poor. The budget would boost defense spending by $54 billion for the next fiscal year and another $2.6 billion for new border security measures, including $1.6 billion to build the border wall. Medicaid, food assistance and other anti-poverty and welfare programs – which provide benefits for up to a fifth of all Americans – would be cut by more than $1 trillion. Spending overall would be reduced by $3.6 trillion over 10 years. Trump’s budget is based on sustained growth above 3%, much higher than the expectations of most private economists. (CNN Money / Washington Post / New York Times / Associated Press / NBC News)

By The Numbers:

State Department – 29.1% decrease

Homeland Security – 6.8% increase

Department of Education – 13.5% decrease

EPA – 31.4% decrease

Department of Transportation – 12.7% decrease

Department of Defense – 10.1% increase

Department of Housing and Urban Development – 13.2% decrease

Veterans Affairs – 5.8% increase

Corps of Engineers – 16.3% decrease

Department of Justice – 3.8% decrease

Department of Labor - 19.8% decrease

Department of the Interior – 10.9% decrease

Source: (CNN)

  • Republicans say the White House has gone too far with its proposed cuts to programs that help the poor. (Washington Post)
  • Trump's first budget proposal calls on Congress to spend $4.1 trillion next year, a little more than what is being spent this year. But it would greatly reallocate where many federal funds go: spend more on defense, border security, and infrastructure, but cut safety nets and domestic programs that focus on everything from the environment and education to student loans and scientific research. (CNN Money)
  • Which budgets would see the biggest cuts – or boosts? Only three departments would see increases in their budgets. (NPR)
  • Trump wants to sell off half of the US strategic oil reserve in order to trim the national debt. By draining the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, Trump's would raise $500 million in fiscal year 2018 and as much as $16.6 billion in oil sales over the next decade. (Bloomberg)

2/ Trump's budget will hit his own voters the hardest. The budget blueprint cuts taxes for the wealthy, boosts defense spending, and reduces programs for the poor and disabled – potentially hurting many of the rural and low-income Americans who voted him into office. (Politico)

3/ The budget is based on a $2 trillion math error. It appears Trump is double counting the benefits of economic growth: Once to offset the effects of lower tax rates and a second time to help close the budget deficit. (Wall Street Journal / New York Magazine)

4/ Russia may have successfully recruited Trump campaign aides and "brazenly" interfered in the election. John Brennan, the Former CIA Director, told the House Intelligence Committee that there was a “very aggressive” effort to intervene in the 2016 campaign, which he warned his counterpart in Russian intelligence about. Brennan said he didn't know if the Trump campaign colluded with Russia, but his confirmation that there was contact undermines Trump’s account of his campaign’s links to Russia. (Politico / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / Associated Press)

5/ Flynn was hit with two new subpoenas by the Senate Intelligence Committee in an effort to compel him to turn over documents about his contacts with Russian officials. Flynn invoked the Fifth Amendment in response to the previous subpoena attempt. The new subpoenas are aimed at Flynn's businesses, believing they can't plead the Fifth. (Politico)

6/ Comey's public House Oversight Committee testimony postponed. He wants to speak with Robert Mueller first, who is investigating the ties between Russia and the presidential election campaign. Comey is also expected to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the Russia probe later this month. (Reuters)

7/ ISIS claimed responsibility for the Manchester attack; Trump calls them "evil losers" and vows to "call them, from now on, losers because that's what they are: losers." (Washington Post / NBC News)

8/ Chris Christie gave Jared Kushner legal advice when asked if Trump should hire a lawyer. In private, Christie told Kushner that the president "better lawyer up and keep his mouth shut," according to a person who recounted Christie's conversation with Kushner. (Vanity Fair)

9/ Jeff Sessions narrowed Trump's executive order on sanctuary cities. A federal judge said Trump had overstepped his authority in attaching conditions to federal money. Sessions' new memo says Trump's order will only apply to grants from the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security "and not to other sources of federal funding." (New York Times) / Politico)

10/ Sheriff David Clarke is unsure if the Trump administration will still hire him. A review of Clarke's master's thesis found 47 examples where Clarke copied entire sentences, but credited them with a footnote – not quotation marks to indicate that he took the language verbatim. (CNN)

11/ Democrats warned Trump against a pre-emptive attack on North Korea. In a letter, 64 Democratic legislators urged Trump to talk directly to the North Koreans and warned that he would need congressional approval for any pre-emptive military strike. (New York Times)

Day 123: Will not comply.

1/ Michael Flynn will invoke his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination as he notifies the Senate Intelligence committee that he will not comply with a subpoena seeking documents. His decision to invoke his Fifth Amendment right puts him at risk of being held in contempt of Congress, which can also result in a criminal charge. After Flynn rejected the subpoena, Elijah Cummings released a letter saying Flynn misled Pentagon investigators about his income from Russian companies when he applied for a top-secret security clearance last year. Separately, he also failed to properly register as a foreign agent while advising the Trump campaign. Both are felonies. (Associated Press / New York Times)

  • Chris Christie weighs in on Flynn: "I wouldn’t let General Flynn in the White House, let alone give him a job." The New Jersey governor said he repeatedly recommended that Trump not give Flynn the job while on the campaign and as President-elect. (Washington Post)

2/ Trump asked two of the top intelligence chiefs to push back against the FBI investigation into possible collusion after Comey revealed its existence. Trump asked the director of national intelligence and the director of the National Security Agency to publicly deny the existence of any evidence of collusion during the 2016 election. Both refused to comply with the requests, which they both deemed to be inappropriate. (Washington Post)

3/ Trump: "I never mentioned the word or the name Israel" to the Russians. It was an off-script effort to push back and refute the damage he did to Israeli intelligence capabilities after revealing highly classified information to Russian operatives earlier this month. To add further insult to injury, he also told a room of Israelis that he "just got back from the Middle East." (CNN / Slate)

4/ Trump's budget is expected to cut $1.7 trillion from Medicaid and anti-poverty programs over the next 10 years. Assuming the GOP health care bill becomes law, the budget proposal will cut $800 billion from Medicaid leaving an estimated 10 million people without benefits. SNAP, the modern version of food stamps, will be reduced by $193 billion – about a quarter. During the campaign, Trump promised not to cut Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. (Bloomberg / Washington Post / CNN)

5/ Comey believes that Donald Trump was trying to influence his judgment on the Russia probe. He initially thought he could teach Trump and the White House what was appropriate during their communications, despite noting that the new President was not following normal protocols during their interactions. (CNN)

6/ Trump is assembling outside counsel to help him navigate the Russian investigation now that Robert Mueller has begun work on the possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. The outside legal team would be separate from the White House Counsel’s Office, which is led by Donald McGahn, who served as the Trump campaign’s lawyer. (Washington Post)

  • Priebus and Bannon returned to Washington after Saudi visit. Major issues await Trump back home, including the possible hiring of outside legal counsel in the Russia probe, the selection of a new FBI director, and the effort to pivot his domestic agenda. (CNN)

7/ The White House is trying to block the disclosure of ethics waivers granted to former lobbyists who work in the administration or federal agencies. Ethics watchdogs are concerned that former lobbyists are taking high-ranking political jobs working on the exact topics they had previously handled on behalf of private-sector clients — including oil and gas companies and Wall Street banks. The Office of Government Ethics was created in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal to oversee compliance with federal ethics standards. The administration is challenging the legal authority to demand the information. (New York times)

8/ Sheriff David Clarke plagiarized portions of his master's thesis on homeland security. Clarke will be joining Trump's administration as assistant secretary in the Department of Homeland Security. He denied the report, calling the journalist a "sleaze bag." (CNN / Reuters)

9/ Commerce secretary Wilbur Ross said he was pleased that there were no protesters with "a bad placard" during his trip to Saudi Arabia. American-style protest is illegal in Saudi Arabia and can result in a death sentence. (Washington Post)

10/ McMaster won't say if Trump confronted Russian officials about election interference during the meeting at the White House. He said "there already was too much that's been leaked from those meetings," but wouldn't deny that Trump called Comey "crazy, a real nut job." (ABC News)

11/ The White House plans to ask a federal court for another 90-day delay in a lawsuit over Obamacare insurance subsidies, leaving the future of the health care marketplaces in limbo through late August. The suit centers on Obamacare's cost-sharing program, which reimburses health insurers to help low-income people make co-payments at the doctor or hospital. House Republicans say the program was never legally funded in Obamacare and Trump has argued that the markets are fatally flawed and will collapse no matter what his administration does. (Politico)

12/ Students walked out of the Notre Dame commencement ceremony in protest of Mike Pence's policies that "have marginalized our vulnerable sisters and brothers for their religion, skin color, or sexual orientation." (NPR)

Day 120: Kept in the dark. Person of interest.

1/ A White House official close to Trump is now a person of interest in the Russia probe. The senior adviser under scrutiny by investigators is someone close to the president, according to multiple sources, who would not further identify the official. Investigators are also interested in people who were previously part of the Trump campaign and administration, including Michael Flynn and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort. (Washington Post)

2/ Trump told the Russians in the Oval Office last week that firing Comey had relieved "great pressure" on him. A document summarizing the meeting quotes Trump as saying "I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job. I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off." (New York Times)

3/ The Trump-Russia probe now includes a possible cover-up. Former FBI Director Robert Mueller, "has been given the authority to investigate the possibility of a cover-up," though that "does not mean that is part of the investigation" currently. (McClatchy)

4/ Mike Pence wasn't informed about Flynn's alleged wrongdoings, a source close to the administration said. It's the second time that Pence claims he was kept in the dark about Flynn. The source said there is concern about "a pattern" of keeping the vice president distant from information about possible Flynn wrongdoings, calling it "malpractice or intentional, and either are unacceptable." (NBC News)

5/ James Comey has agreed to testify in a public session at the Senate Intelligence Committee. The hearing will occur after Memorial Day, committee leaders said. (Politico)

  • Comey tried to preserve distance between the FBI and the White House, by educating the administration on the proper way to interact with the bureau. Comey told Trump that if he wanted to know details about the bureau’s investigations, he should not contact him directly but instead follow the proper procedures and have the White House counsel send any inquiries to the Justice Department. (New York Times)
  • Comey may testify as soon as next week despite the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Russian meddling into last year's election. (The Hill)
  • The FBI warned a Republican congressman in 2012 that Russian spies were trying to recruit him. Dana Rohrabacher of California, has been known for years as one of Moscow’s biggest defenders in Washington and as a vocal opponent of American economic sanctions against Russia. He is one of Trump’s staunchest allies on Capitol Hill. (New York Times)

6/ Trump heads out on his first foreign trip since taking office, to meet with some of the most important figures in the Middle East and Europe during a nine-day, five-country journey. He's bucking tradition by not visiting Canada or Mexico with his first visits abroad, which the past five presidents have all done. The trip will conclude with the president meeting with NATO and attending a G7 summit, where leaders have been told that he prefers short presentations and lots of visual aids. White House aides fear that a difficult trip might lead Trump to hand off future traveling duties to Pence. (ABC News / Associated Press / (Wall Street Journal)

7/ Kushner intervened to help seal a $110 billion arms deal with the Saudis - just in time for Trump's visit to the kingdom this weekend where he hopes to frame it as a symbol of America’s renewed commitment to security in the Persian Gulf. (New York Times)

8/ Trump said he is "very close" to choosing a new FBI director. A senior White House official said the odds of a selection coming today were "better than 50-50." Former Sen. Joe Lieberman is his top choice. (CNN / NBC News)

9/ Trump's attorney didn’t want him to sign his financial disclosure to certify the information was true, because he was filing voluntarily. Trump’s 2016 disclosures will span his general election candidacy, election, and transition to power, which would potentially shed light on the impact his nomination and election had on his Trump Organization. (Associated Press)

10/ Health insurers are planning rate hikes on Obamacare — and they blame Trump. State insurance regulators — both Democrat and Republican — have concluded they cannot count on the Trump administration to help them ensure that consumers will have access to a health plan next year, which is forcing them to make plans to raise premiums to account for the turmoil. (Los Angeles Times)

11/ Nearly 700 positions at the CDC are vacant because of Trump's hiring freeze. Programs supporting local and state public health emergency readiness, infectious disease control and chronic disease prevention are all affected. At least 125 job categories have been blocked from being filled. (Washington Post)

12/ American warplanes attacked a pro-Syrian government convoy, which ignored warnings and violated a restricted zone around a base where US and British Special Forces train rebels to fight the Islamic State. The Syria and its Russian allies condemned the attack, which marked an escalation in hostile US action toward Bashar al-Assad. (New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

13/ Jeff Sessions and the Department of Justice are telling lawyers to stop representing immigrants in deportation proceedings. They're accusing immigrant-rights lawyers of breaking a rule that was put in place to protect people from lawyers who take their money and then drop their case. The cease and desist letter could dissuade law firms from letting their lawyers volunteer for these cases, scaring those firms away by convincing them that immigration-related projects are too risky pro-bono projects. (The Nation)

14/ White House lawyers are researching impeachment procedures in an effort to prepare for what officials believe is a distant possibility that Trump could have to fend off attempts to remove him from office. (CNN)

Day 119: Undisclosed.

1/ The Trump campaign had at least 18 undisclosed contacts with Russians during the last seven months of the election. Six of the previously undisclosed contacts were phone calls between Sergei Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the US, and Trump advisers, including Michael Flynn. (Reuters)

2/ Flynn stopped a military plan Turkey didn't like while being paid $500,000 as its lobbyist. The decision came 10 days before Trump was sworn in as president. Obama’s national security team asked for Trump’s sign-off, since the plan would be executed after Trump had become president. Lawmakers are questioning whether Flynn acted on behalf of a foreign nation when making a military decision, with some going so far as to ask whether it constitutes treason. Flynn also failed to register as a foreign agent, which is a federal crime. (McClatchy)

3/ Flynn told the Trump team he was under investigation for secretly working as a paid lobbyist for Turkey weeks before he came to the White House. Trump made Flynn his national security adviser anyway, giving him access to nearly every secret held by American intelligence agencies. (New York Times)

4/ Trump pressured a “reluctant” Michael Flynn into accepting the national security adviser job even after Flynn warned that he was under investigation over undisclosed lobbying on behalf of a foreign government. Trump has expressed hopes that a resolution of the FBI investigation might allow Flynn to rejoin the White House in some capacity. (The Daily Beast)

  • Trump sends Flynn a message: "stay strong." The two have remained in touch, raising questions about the president’s reported request to James Comey to shut down a federal investigation into Flynn. (Yahoo News)

5/ Trump denies telling Comey to back off the Flynn investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Asked whether he urged Comey to ease up on the Flynn investigation, Trump said at a news conference, "No, no," before ordering the media to move onto the "next question." (Washington Post)

6/ Flynn hasn't responded to a subpoena from the Senate intelligence committee. Legal experts say that it’s unlikely Flynn will agree to turn over the personal documents because he would be waiving his constitutional protection against self-incrimination by doing so. (Washington Post / ABC News)

7/ Trump Tweets: Where was the special counsel for Hillary and Obama? He then called the investigation into his campaign’s links with Russia “the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!” hours after issuing a more muted official statement in coordination with aides. (CNN)

8/ Rod Rosenstein already knew James Comey was going to be fired when he wrote the three-page memo that the White House used to justify firing Comey. Rosenstein learned Comey was being fired on May 8, but the memo is dated May 9 — the day the firing took place. (Politico / Los Angeles Times)

9/ Sean Spicer is no longer expected to do a daily, on-camera briefing, as Trump is frustrated with the way Spicer defends and explains his message. When Trump returns from his foreign trip, Sarah Huckabee Sanders will likely appear at the podium more with Spicer's public role being downsized. (Politico)

10/ NATO critic Stephen Miller is writing Trump's NATO speech. Miller, an anti-globalist, has called the military alliance "incongruent with our current foreign policy challenges." (BuzzFeed News)

11/ Trump notified Congress that he plans to renegotiate NAFTA, which triggers a 90-day consultation period between the administration and Congress. Negotiations with Canada and Mexico can begin as soon as August 16th. Trump has called NAFTA the worst trade deal in history. (New York Times / CNN Money / Washington Post)

Day 118: Hot mess.

1/ Rod Rosenstein appointed former FBI Director Bob Mueller to oversee the investigation of Russian interference in election. Mueller will take command of the prosecutors and FBI agents who are working on the far reaching Russia investigation. Trump said that he expects the probe will find no collusion between his 2016 White House campaign and foreign countries, calling the Russia inquiry a “taxpayer-funded charade." (NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post / Politico)

  • Former Trump aides Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort have emerged as key figures in the FBI's investigation into Russian campaign interference. Multiple grand jury subpoenas and records requests have been issued in connection with the two men. (NBC News)
  • Federal investigators have subpoenaed records for Manafort's $3.5 million mortgage that he took out on his Hamptons home just after leaving the campaign. (NBC News)

2/ The House majority leader told colleagues last year: "I think Putin pays" Trump. Paul Ryan told them not to leak the remarks and swore them to secrecy. (Washington Post)

3/ Jason Chaffetz asked the FBI to turn over all documents it has on Trump and Comey's conversations. The FBI has until May 24 to produce the records before the Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee subpoenas them. Chaffetz said that if the memo exists and accurately reflects the conversation, "that seems like an extraordinary use of influence to try to shut down an investigation being done by the FBI." (NBC News / CNN)

  • Comey’s memos were a product of a culture of note-taking. It is standard for people who work in law enforcement to keep detailed phone and meeting logs. (New York Times)

4/ Senate and House Republicans and Democrats want Comey to testify about his interactions with Trump, including whether Trump tried to obstruct the criminal probe into Michael Flynn. The collective political fallout from the past week “will make it difficult” for Republicans to resist a change in approach, Representative Charlie Dent said. "I think we need to hear from him as soon as possible in public to respond to the issues that have been raised in recent days," Mitch McConnell said. (Politico / Washington Post / (Wall Street Journal)

  • The Senate Intelligence Committee requested that James Comey testify publicly in the wake of his firing by Trump. Sentors Richard Burr and Mark Warner sent a letter asking Comey to testify before their panel in both open and closed sessions. The senators had previously asked Comey to testify in a closed session, but he declined. (Politico)
  • The House Oversight Committee invited Comey to testify next Wednesday. Jason Chaffetz has officially scheduled the hearing and is in the process of trying to connect with Comey. The hearing will be the day the FBI is due to send documents to the oversight panel. (Politico)

5/ Democratic congressman Al Green called for "the impeachment of the President of the United States of America for obstruction of justice." Green said it was the House of Representative's "duty" to take up impeachment. More Republicans and Democrats are starting to talk of the possibility that Trump could face impeachment after reports that he pressed James Comey to end an investigation of Michael Flynn. Representative Justin Amash said if the reports about Trump's pressure on Comey are true, it would merit impeachment. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi both raised concerns about Trump’s action, but avoided the topic of impeachment in their statements responding to the news of Comey’s memo. “At best, President Trump has committed a grave abuse of executive power," Pelosi said. "At worst, he has obstructed justice." Democrats can't impeach Trump without significant Republican support. (CNN / The Hill / BuzzFeed News)

6/ Republicans blocked the Democrats attempt to force a vote on creating a bipartisan congressional commission to investigate Russian interference, how the intelligence community handled the matter, and the Trump administration's involvement. “You’re watching an obstruction of justice investigation developing in real time,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. "If there were ever any question about the need for an independent special prosecutor, this report is the nail on the argument." (New York Times / Washington Post / Reuters)

  • Calls grow for an independent investigation. The deputy Republican whip Adam Kinzinger switched his position for an independent commission or special prosecutor to investigate possible ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia, saying the recent news reports had marked a turning point for him. (NBC News / Washington Post)

7/ Paul Ryan tried to contain the political fallout from the Comey memo by urging members to avoid "rushing to judgment." He called himself "a person who wants to get the facts" and said that "there are some people out there who want to harm the president." (CNN / Washington Post / Politico)

8/ McCain compares Comey memo about his meeting with Trump to Watergate. "The only thing I can say is I think we’ve seen this movie before. I think it's reaching the point where it's of Watergate size and scale," McCain said. His advice to Trump is "the same thing that you advised Richard Nixon, which he didn’t do… get it all out… it’s not going to be over until every aspect of it is thoroughly examined and the American people make a judgment. And the longer you delay, the longer it’s going to last." (ABC News / The Daily Beast)

9/ Putin offers to provide Congress with the transcript to prove Trump didn't pass Russia secrets, turning up the pressure on the White House to provide its own transcript of the meeting. Putin said Russia could hand over a transcript of Trump's meeting with Lavrov, if the Trump administration deemed it appropriate. (Reuters / New York Times / CNN / Washington Post)

  • Adam Schiff: "Last thing" Trump needs "is Putin vouching for him." Schiff called Putin's offer "yet another twist in the road" and said, "all of this gets more baffling every day." (CNN)
  • Senator Susan Collins says Trump needs to "right the ship" and get his "house in order" because "we cannot have this constant chaos" every single day from him. (CNN)

10/ Trump provided Russia with secrets so sensitive that news organizations are being asked not to report it. Trump told the Russian foreign minister and the Russian ambassador that the Islamic State had used stolen airport security equipment to test a bomb that could be hidden in electronic devices. US intelligence officials have asked media organizations not to report on the type of equipment, where it was stolen, and the name of the city where the intelligence was gathered. The intelligence has led to the new rules banning electronic devices in the cabins of certain flights. (NBC News)

11/ Trump: No politician "has been treated worse or more unfairly," warning graduating Coast Guard cadets that life is unfair. (Politico)

12/ Sally Yates disputed Sean Spicer's characterization of her warnings that Flynn could be open to blackmail by Russia as a "heads up." Yates said she expected the White House to act urgently on the information that Flynn had been compromised by his contact with Russian officials prior to Trump's inauguration. (CNN / NBC News)

13/ Members of the Turkish president’s security team breached police lines and attacked protesters outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence in the US. About two dozen demonstrators showed up outside of embassy hours after Erdogan met with Trump and a brawl erupted when Erdogan’s security detail attacked protesters carrying the flag of the Kurdish PYD party. (CNN / The Guardian / New York Times)

14/ The Iran nuclear deal will remain as Trump imposes new penalties over its ballistic missile program. The new sanctions is the latest attempt by the administration to signal its displeasure with Iran while not jettisoning the 2015 nuclear deal. (Politico / New York Times)

15/ Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke accepted a job at the Department of Homeland Security. Clarke has made a name himself for supporting Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration and for patrolling of Muslim neighborhoods. (Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel / Los Angeles Times)

16/ Trump has turned to Corey Lewandowski, Jason Miller, and David Bossie as scandals pile up. The former campaign aides have slid back into his group of advisers as a steady stream of damaging leaks and critical blind quotes that have flowed out of the West Wing. (Politico)

17/ Trump’s education budget calls for deep cuts to public school programs in pursuit of school choice. Funding for college work-study programs would be cut in half, public-service loan forgiveness would end, and hundreds of millions of dollars that public schools could use for mental health and other services would vanish under the plan, which cuts $10.6 billion from federal education initiatives. (Washington Post)

poll/ Trump's approval rating hits a new low: 42% – and that's before claims that he disclosed sensitive information to Russian officials and tried to shut down an FBI investigation into Michael Flynn. (Politico)

Day 117: Undercut. Wow.

1/ Trump asked James Comey to shut down the Michael Flynn investigation in a February memo he wrote shortly after meeting with Trump. “I hope you can let this go," Trump told Comey. The request is the clearest evidence that he tried to directly influence the Justice Department and FBI investigations. Comey kept detailed notes of his meetings with Trump, documenting what he perceived as improper efforts to influence a continuing investigation. An FBI agent’s notes are widely held up in court as credible evidence of conversations. (New York Times)

2/ Trump defended his decision to share ISIS intelligence with Russia, tweeting that he had an “absolute right” to do so in the interest of fighting terrorism. Trump's tweets undercut his administration's effort to contain the report, where Rex Tillerson, H.R. McMaster, and the deputy national security adviser for strategy all called the report that Trump revealed highly classified information to Russia false. The information was considered so sensitive that US officials had not shared it widely within the government or among allies. (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

UPDATE:

Three administration officials conceded that Trump simply did not possess the interest or knowledge of intelligence gathering to leak specific sources and methods that would do harm to United States allies. (New York Times)

  • Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian diplomats during their Oval Office meeting last week, which has jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State. (WTF Just Happened Today)
  • "This is really the nightmare scenario for the intelligence community," a former CIA officer said, and as a result Trump could have hampered the US response to ISIS. (Politico)
  • Initial thoughts on the Washington Post’s game-changing story: It matters who we have running the most powerful institution in the world. (Lawfare)

3/ McMaster backs Trump's sharing of sensitive intelligence with Russians: "It is wholly appropriate for the president to share whatever information he thinks is necessary." He added that Trump "wasn't even aware where this information came from. He wasn't briefed on the source or method of the information either." McMaster refused to confirm whether the information the president shared with the Russians was highly classified. (ABC News / Washington Post / Politico)

4/ Israel was the source of ISIS-related intelligence that Trump shared with Russia last week. Two Israeli officials said that the intelligence shared by Trump "syncs up" with intelligence that shared with its US counterparts. The revelation is Israel's "worst fears confirmed" as it raises the possibility that the information could be passed to Iran, Russia’s close ally and Israel’s main threat in the Middle East. (New York Times / BuzzFeed News / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

5/ CIA Director Mike Pompeo will brief the members of the House intelligence committee today on what Trump discussed with Russian officials last week, following claims that Trump apparently revealed classified information. (CNN)

6/ Republican and Democratic lawmakers to Trump: hand over the transcript of the meeting with the Russians. Members of Congress have spent several days demanding that Trump turn over tapes of White House meetings after he suggested that he records his conversations. Those calls intensified after Trump acknowledged on Twitter that he had shared sensitive information during his meeting with the Russians. White House aides have neither confirmed nor denied the possibility that Trump records his conversations at the White House. (Washington Post)

  • Lawmakers express shock and concern about Trump disclosure of classified information. “They are in a downward spiral right now and have got to figure out a way to come to grips with all that’s happening,” the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee said of the Trump administration. “The chaos that is being created by the lack of discipline is creating an environment that I think makes — it creates a worrisome environment." (Washington Post)

7/ Mitch McConnell called for "less drama" from Trump. "I think it would be helpful if the president spent more time on things we’re trying to accomplish and less time on other things," McConnell said. (Bloomberg)

8/ Trump will disclose some of his personal finances this year, which will likely indicate his personal income, assets, and liabilities. They won't contain details like his tax rate or any charitable donations. (Associated Press)

9/ Paul Manafort took out a $3.5 million mortgage and never paid taxes on it. The former Trump campaign manager took out the mortgage through a shell company just after leaving the campaign and never paid the $36,000 in taxes that would be due on the loan. (NBC News)

10/ Trump to meet with Turkey's president amid differences over the Trump administration's plan to directly arm Kurdish rebels in Syria for the fight against ISIS. Turkey considers the group a terrorist organization, because it maintains ties with a Kurdish revolutionary group inside Turkey. (ABC News)

11/ Gingrich urged Trump to shut down White House press room in order to send a message to the country "that the media is a corrupt institution and [Trump] is tired of being harassed by people whose only interest is making him look bad." (Politico)

poll/ 48% of voters support impeaching Trump compared to 41% that are opposed to the idea. 43% of voters think Trump is actually going to end up serving his full term, while 45% think he won't. 12% aren't sure one way or the other. (Public Policy Polling)

Day 116: Frustrated and angry. Jeopardized.

1/ Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian diplomats during their Oval Office meeting last week, which has jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State. Trump’s decision to disclose information risks cooperation from an ally that has access to the inner workings of the Islamic State. A US official said Trump “revealed more information to the Russian ambassador than we have shared with our own allies.” Trump’s disclosures are not illegal as he has the power to declassify almost anything. But sharing the information without the express permission of the ally who provided it represents a major breach of espionage etiquette, and could jeopardize a crucial intelligence-sharing relationship. (Washington Post / New York Times)

2/ Trump is considering a "huge reboot" that could take out everyone from Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon, to counsel Don McGahn and Sean Spicer. Trump is irritated with several Cabinet members and "frustrated, and angry at everyone." (Axios)

3/ Senate Republicans are looking at steep cuts to Medicaid that could drop millions of people from coverage and reduce programs for the poor. Under pressure to balance the budget, Republicans are considering slashing more than $400 billion in spending on food stamps, welfare, and even veterans’ benefits through a process to evade Democratic filibusters in the Senate. If the Medicaid cutbacks get passed by both chambers, it could significantly scale back the federal-state insurance program that covers 73 million low-income or disabled Americans and shift significant costs onto hospitals and states. (Politico / Wall Street Journal)

4/ James Clapper said that US institutions are under assault from Trump and warned that federal checks and balances are eroding. Former Director of National Intelligence called on the other branches of the federal government to step up in their roles as a check on the executive. (CNN / Associated Press)

  • Republicans and Democrats agree that if Trump has tapes, he’ll need to turn them over to Congress. Lawmakers from both parties said any White House recordings must be preserved for congressional review and that “it’s probably inevitable” that they would be subpoenaed. (Washington Post)

5/ North Korea successfully test-fired a new type of ballistic missile, signaling an advance in their development of an intercontinental ballistic missile program. North Korea said the new "medium long-range" missile is capable of carrying a large nuclear warhead, warning that the United States’ military bases in the Pacific were within its range. (New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Reuters / Associated Press)

  • Putin warns against "intimidating" North Korea after its latest missile launch. Putin called for a peaceful solution to the ongoing tensions on the Korean peninsula and said that Russia is "categorically against the expansion of the club of nuclear states." (CNN)

6/ The 9th Circuit Court will hear the travel ban appeal, again. A three-judge panel will hear a challenge to a Hawaii judge's decision to halt travel ban 2.0. Lawyers at the Justice Department must convince at least two of the judges to ignore Trump's record of campaign calls to ban Muslims from entering the US. (CNN)

7/ Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will brief the full Senate on Thursday about the firing of James Comey. The briefing is classified and will take place in the regular secure room in the Capitol Visitors Center. (CNN / Washington Post)

8/ The Supreme Court rejected an appeal to reinstate North Carolina’s voter identification law, which a lower court said targeted African-Americans “with almost surgical precision.” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. issued a statement noting that there was a dispute about who represented the state in the case and that nothing should be read into the court’s decision to decline to hear it. (Associated Press / Politico / New York Times)

9/ The Dakota Access pipeline has its first leak. The $3.8bn oil pipeline is not yet fully operational, but managed to spill 84 gallons of crude oil. (The Guardian)

10/ White Nationalist Richard Spencer led a torch-bearing group protesting the sale of a statue of Robert E. Lee in Virginia. The group chanted “You will not replace us." Spencer added: “What brings us together is that we are white, we are a people, we will not be replaced." (NPR / Washington Post)

11/ Trump thinks that exercising too much uses up the body’s "finite" energy. Trump mostly gave up athletics after college because he “believed the human body was like a battery, with a finite amount of energy, which exercise only depleted.” (Washington Post)

12/ Comey said he'd be willing to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee, but wants it to be in public. Comey originally declined an invitation from the committee to be interviewed in a closed-door hearing. (New York Times)

13/ Syria is using a crematorium to hide executions, the State Department said. The US believes Syria's "building of a crematorium is an effort to cover up the extent of mass murders taking place in Saydnaya prison." A State Department official said the regime could be killing as many as 50 detainees a day. (CNN / BuzzFeed News / Washington Post)

14/ Senate Republicans are breaking away from Trump as they try to forge a more traditional Republican agenda and protect their political fortunes. Republican senators are drafting a health care bill with little White House input and pushing back on Trump's impending budget request. Many high-ranking Republicans have said they will not support any move by Trump to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement. (New York Times)

poll/ 29% approve of Trump’s firing of James Comey. Trump's job-approval rating stands at 39%. (NBC News)

Day 113: Another fucking Twitter tirade.

1/ In a tweet, Trump threatened to cancel all future press briefings for the "sake of accuracy," saying it's "not possible" to always tell the truth. While the White House can't get its story straight about the firing of FBI director James Comey, Trump has offered his solution: cancel all press briefings. Spicer declined to say whether Trump had decided to stop holding daily news briefings, saying that Trump is “a little dismayed” about the unwillingness of reporters to focus on the policy actions of his administration. (CNN / New York Times / Washington Post)

2/ In a tweet, Trump warned James Comey against leaking to the press, suggesting there are "tapes" of their private conversations. It's unclear if any tapes exist. Regardless, Comey is "not worried about any tapes," a CNN source said, adding that "if there is a tape, there's nothing [Comey] is worried about" that could be on it. (Washington Post / Politico / CNN)

3/ Trump asked for Comey to pledge his loyalty at a private dinner seven days after the inauguration. Comey declined to make the pledge, but instead told Trump that he would always give him "honesty." Trump pressed him on whether it would be "honest loyalty." Comey agreed. Trump claims Comey assured him "three times" that he was not under FBI investigation. (New York Times / NBC News / CNN)

4/ Comey declined to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee. The panel is investigating Russia’s election meddling and allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow. Testifying would have provided Comey a chance to discuss with lawmakers the circumstances of his firing. (Politico)

5/ Sean Spicer won’t say if Trump is taping conversations in the Oval Office. The White House won't deny Trump taped meetings with Comey — or that Trump may be recording conversations in the Oval Office. “The president has nothing further to add on that,” Spicer said, repeating the answer or some variation of it several more times as reporters pressed. (NBC News / New York Times)

6/ Trump shifts his reason for firing Comey to "this Russia thing" being a "made-up story." He labeled it "an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won." (