What The Fuck Just Happened Today?

Today's essential guide to the daily shock and awe in national politics.
Curated by @matt_kiser

Site updated:
Search Results

Day 368: Shutdown shut down.

1/ Senate Democrats voted with Republicans to approve a short-term spending bill to fund the government through February 8th. The bill will also reauthorize the Children's Health Insurance Program for six years and roll back several health care taxes. Democrats received assurances from Mitch McConnell that the Senate will vote on a bipartisan DACA bill in the coming weeks in exchange for reopening the government. The Senate voted 81-18 to move forward on a bill to fund the government, which the House passed, sending the bill to Trump to sign. (Washington Post / New York Times / Politico)

  • How every Senator voted on ending the government shutdown. The vote passed 81-18-1. (New York Times)

  • Mick Mulvaney thought it was "kind of cool" to be the person in charge of shutting down the government. The director of the Office of Management and Budget told Sean Hannity: "I found out for the first time last night that the person who technically shuts the government down is me, which is kind of cool." (Vox)

  • The White House changed its public comment line to blame Democrats over the weekend for "holding government funding, including funding for our troops and other national security priorities, hostage to an unrelated immigration debate. Due to this obstruction, the government is shut down." (CNN)

2/ The deal to end the government shutdown included $31 billion in tax cuts. The deal includes a temporary delay in implementing three Affordable Care Act taxes that will add to the federal budget deficit. (New York Times)

3/ Paul Ryan received $500,000 in campaign contributions from one of the Koch brothers after the House passed the federal tax bill. The Koch brothers spent millions of dollars lobbying to get the tax bill passed, and are currently spending millions more on a PR campaign to boost public support for the bill. (HuffPost)

4/ The FBI said Devin Nunes refused to produce a memo that alleges abuses by the intelligence community. Democrats say the Republican's refusal to show the memo has them concerned, and that releasing the memo to the public before showing it to the FBI could make tensions between the Hill and the bureau even worse. (The Daily Beast)

  • #SchumerShutdown became the top trending hashtag promoted by Russian social media bots. The Alliance for Securing Democracy, a national security group led by national security officials from both parties, says the topic surpassed #releasethememo to become the highest trending hashtag as of 10 p.m. on Sunday. (HuffPost / The Hill)

5/ Pennsylvania's Supreme Court ruled that the state's GOP-drawn congressional districts were unconstitutional, ordering all 18 districts redrawn by February 9th. (Washington Post)

6/ Trump's voter fraud commission asked Texas to identify all voters with Hispanic surnames as part of their request for detailed voter registration data. The voter data was never delivered because a lawsuit stopped the data handoff. The voting commission was then disbanded on January 3rd. (Washington Post)

7/ A member of the House Ethics Committee used taxpayer money to settle a sexual harassment complaint against him. Patrick Meehan had been tasked with investigating sexual misconduct claims against at least four congressmen. A spokeswoman for Paul Ryan said that Meehan would be removed immediately from the committee and that the panel would investigate the allegations against him. (New York Times)

poll/ 48% of voters think Trump is mentally stable, versus the 47% of voters who think he is not. 73% believe Trump is not a genius. (ABC News)

generic ballot poll/ 51% of voters say they would support the Democratic candidate in their congressional district over the Republican. 39% said they would support the Republican candidate. (Washington Post)

pre-shutdown poll/ 41% of voters said they would blame Republicans in Congress for a shutdown, compared to 36% who said they would fault Democrats. (Politico)


Notables.

  1. A new book about the Trump administration is set to publish on Jan. 29. The book is titled "Media Madness: Donald Trump, the Press, and the War Over the Truth," and it paints yet another picture of a White House in chaos. (Washington Post)

  2. Trump sarcastically tweeted that Saturday was a "perfect day for all women to march. Get out there now to celebrate the historic milestones and unprecedented economic success and wealth creation that has taken place over the last 12 months. Lowest female unemployment in 18 years!" (Twitter)

  3. Deutsche Bank reported "suspicious transactions" related to Kushner family accounts to German banking regulators. The bank also said it was willing to provide the information to special counsel Robert Mueller's team of investigators. (Mother Jones)

  4. The Army is preparing to send 1,000 more troops to Afghanistan this spring, beyond the 14,000 already in the country. (Washington Post)

Day 365: The 11th hour.

1/ The Senate is heading toward a showdown vote on spending legislation to keep the government open past midnight. Democrats appear ready to vote against the short-term spending bill in an effort to secure concessions that would offer protections for young undocumented immigrants, increase domestic spending, provide aid to Puerto Rico, and more. The Senate adjourned Thursday night without scheduling a vote. (New York Times / Politico)

2/ Trump invited Chuck Schumer to the White House to discuss a deal with less than 12 hours to go before a possible government shutdown. Neither Mitch McConnell nor Paul Ryan plans to attend the White House meeting. Schumer left the closed-door meeting with Trump at the White House, saying, "We made some progress, but we still have a good number of disagreements." Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn said the Senate would vote on the House-passed spending bill, but didn't offer any details. (Washington Post / New York Times)

3/ Trump canceled his trip to Mar-a-Lago in hopes that lawmakers will avoid a shutdown. Trump had been planning to celebrate the first anniversary of his inauguration at the Florida resort. He's hosting a Saturday night fundraising party. Tickets cost $100,000 per couple and include a photograph with Trump. (CNN)

4/ House Republicans are threatening to head home for the weekend, "virtually guaranteeing a shutdown unless some last-minute deal is struck." The House passed a stopgap spending bill on Thursday night in a 230 to 197 vote to keep the government open through February 16. (Politico / CNN / New York Times)

5/ The Supreme Court will decide the legality of Trump's latest travel ban, which targets people from six Muslim-majority countries. The court will hear arguments in April and issue a ruling by the end of June on whether the policy to block entry into the United States by most people from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen violates federal immigration law or the U.S. Constitution. (Reuters / New York Times)

poll/ 57% of Americans disapprove of Trump's job performance, the lowest mark for any modern-day president ending his first year. 51% strongly disapprove with 26% strongly approving of Trump's performance. (NBC News)

poll/ 56% of Americans say approving a budget in order to avoid a shutdown is more important than continuing DACA, while 34% say DACA is more important than a shutdown. (CNN)

poll/ 48% of Americans blame Trump and congressional Republicans for the potential government shutdown. 28% fault Democrats. (Washington Post)


Notables.

  1. The chief of external affairs for the federal government's volunteer service organization resigned after racist, sexist, anti-Muslim, and anti-LGBT comments he made on the radio in 2013 surfaced. (CNN)

  2. A year into Trump's presidency, five of his top staffers still have not certified their financial disclosures, which are required by law to ensure that these senior officials aren't personally benefiting from their White House jobs. (McClatchy DC)


Swamp Things.

  1. Omarosa Manigault-Newman may have taped confidential West Wing conversations. The former White House staffer believes she may become a fixture in Robert Mueller's investigation into possible connections between the Trump campaign and Russia's election meddling. (NY Daily News)

  2. Hannity declared that Robert Mueller's "witch hunt is now over." In a monologue, Hannity claimed there is a memo circulating among lawmakers that reportedly details surveillance abuses by the U.S. government that are "far bigger" than Watergate. (The Hill)

  3. Chris Christie was blocked from the VIP entrance at Newark Liberty International Airport, which he had used for eight years. The former New Jersey governor was directed to stand in the general TSA screening lines. (Bloomberg)

Day 364: Irresponsible.

1/ Trump will back a short-term funding legislation after causing confusion on Twitter. Hours earlier Trump tweeted: "CHIP should be part of a long term solution, not a 30 Day, or short term, extension!" Trump contradicted the Republican legislative strategy by calling for a separate, long-term extension of the Children's Health Insurance Program with less than 48 hours before a shutdown. The Republican proposal included a six-year extension of CHIP as part of their short-term spending bill, which would fund the government through February 16. (Politico / Washington Post / New York Times)

2/ Senate Democrats have the votes needed to block the stop-gap spending bill that the House is taking up, raising the likelihood the government will close. At least nine members of the Senate Democratic Caucus said they will oppose the latest short-term spending bill, which would keep the government open through February 16th, extend the Children’s Health Insurance Program for six years, but also roll back several Affordable Care Act taxes. It doesn't, however, include a deal on DACA, which Democrats have demanded in exchange for their votes. Paul Ryan believes that he has the votes needed in the House to pass the short-term funding measure on Thursday night. (Politico / Washington Post)

3/ In the event of a shutdown, Mitch McConnell plans to keep the Senate in session and stage a series of votes. They're intended to place blame for the shutdown on 10 Democratic senators, who are up for reelection this fall in states won by Donald Trump in 2016. McConnell called the Senate Democrats' plan "irresponsible" for being "willing to shut down the government and the Children's Health Insurance Program because they have yet to conclude a deal on DACA." (Politico)

4/ Trump contradicted John Kelly's statements about the proposed border wall, saying "The Wall is the Wall" and his plan "has never changed or evolved from the first day I conceived of it." Yesterday, Kelly said that the U.S. would never actually build a physical wall along the entire U.S. border with Mexico. Trump recently said that the wall would be funded by Mexico "indirectly through NAFTA." (The Hill / New York Times / Washington Post)

5/ Ty Cobb said Trump is "very eager" to talk to Robert Mueller in the hope that this will help wrap up the Russia investigation as quickly as possible. Trump's personal lawyer expects the investigation to end in the next four to six weeks. (The Hill)

6/ The White House's top lawyer may have a conflict of interest. Don McGahn was personally involved in instructing Steve Bannon about what questions he shouldn't answer from the House Intelligence Committee's Russia investigation. He is also a witness to events under investigation by both Congress and Robert Mueller. (Bloomberg)

7/ The House Intelligence Committee released the interview transcript with Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson. In the interview, Simpson claimed the Kremlin used the publication of the Trump dossier as pretext to "purge" people, including those who may have been sources for the American intelligence community. Dianne Feinstein previously released a transcript of Simpson's interview with the Senate Judiciary Committee. (Politico / The Daily Beast / Reuters)

8/ The FBI is investigating whether a Russian banker illegally funneled money to the NRA in order to help Trump win the presidency. Alexander Torshin is the deputy governor of Russia's central bank and has a close relationship with Putin. Torshin spoke with Trump Jr. during an NRA gala in May 2016, when Trump won the NRA's presidential endorsement. The NRA spent $30 million to support Trump in the 2016 election – three times what they devoted to Mitt Romney in 2012. (McClatchy DC)

poll/ 53% of Americans see Trump's first year as a failure. 61% believe Trump has divided the country. (NPR)

poll/ 37% of Americans approve Trump's job performance after his first year in office. (CBS News)


Notables.

  1. Trump released his 2017 Fake News Awards. (GOP.com)

  2. Hundreds of Yelp reviewers have been giving the Trump International Hotel in Washington one-star reviews, describing the property as a "shithole." (Washington Post)

  3. The Trump administration is finalizing its infrastructure plan, which it hopes will encourage more than $1 trillion in state, local, and private financing to build and repair bridges, highways, and other infrastructure. Trump is expected to preview parts of the plan on January 30th during his State of the Union address. (Reuters)

  4. The past four years were the hottest recorded period in the planet's history, according to both NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (Washington Post)

  5. Haitians will no longer be eligible to receive temporary agricultural and seasonal work visas. The decision by the White House removes Haiti from the list of countries that are eligible for H-2A and H-2B visas. (CNN)

  6. House members introduced a bipartisan sexual harassment bill that would prohibit lawmakers from using taxpayer funds to settle claims. (NBC News)

  7. Mick Mulvaney requested no additional funding for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The bureau has $177 million in the bank. Last quarter the CFPB asked for $217.1 million and it required $86.6 million the quarter before that. (Politico)

  8. The Trump administration will protect health workers who oppose abortions or gender confirmation surgery based on religious or moral objections. Officials want people to report discrimination to the new conscience and religious freedom division of the office for civil rights at the Department of Health and Human Services. (New York Times) *[Editor's note: I originally used the term "sex-change operation" but changed it to "gender confirmation surgery," the correct term. More here.] *

Day 363: Gag order.

1/ Trump accused Russia of helping North Korea evade sanctions and claimed that Pyongyang is getting "closer every day" to being able to deliver a long-range missile to the United States. Russian tankers were caught supplying fuel to North Korea on at least three occasions in recent months. North Korea requires imported fuel to keep its intercontinental ballistic missile and nuclear program functioning. "Russia is not helping us at all with North Korea," Trump said. (Reuters)

2/ The Pentagon wants to allow nuclear retaliation in response to cyberattacks against the United States. The latest draft of the U.S. nuclear strategy, which was sent to Trump's desk for approval, is the first to expand the list of justifications for "first use" nuclear strikes. It includes attempts to destroy national infrastructure via cyberattack. (New York Times / HuffPost)

3/ Steve Bannon cited executive privilege and refused to answer questions from the House Intelligence Committee yesterday. House investigators in both parties were outraged by his refusal, leading the committee to subpoena Bannon on the spot, vowing to force him to answer their questions about Russian interference in the 2016 election. (Politico)

  • What Steve Bannon told Congress yesterday. Bannon admitted that he'd had conversations with Reince Priebus, Sean Spicer and legal spokesman Mark Corallo about Don Junior's infamous meeting with the Russians in Trump Tower in June 2016. (Axios)

4/ Bannon didn't respond to House Intelligence Committee questions because the White House directed him not to. During Bannon's testimony, his attorney relayed questions in real time to the White House asking if his client could answer the questions. Bannon was instructed not to discuss his work on the transition or in the White House. White House officials believed they had an agreement with the committee to limit questions to the presidential campaign. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the committee, called the "gag order" an "audacious" move by the White House. (Associated Press / CNN / CNBC)

5/ Bannon struck a deal with Robert Mueller to be interviewed by prosecutors instead of testifying before the grand jury. A source close to Bannon said he will cooperate with the special counsel and that "Mueller will hear everything Bannon has to say." (The Daily Beast / CNN)

6/ The chance of a government shutdown increased as Trump aligned himself with the conservative House Freedom Caucus on immigration, criticizing a proposed bipartisan deal as "horrible" on border security and "very, very weak" on legal immigration reform. Democrats are threatening to vote against any spending bill that doesn't include a DACA fix. Republicans, meanwhile, need 60 votes to pass a spending bill in order to keep the federal government funded past the Friday deadline. Trump is confident that Americans will blame Democrats for a shutdown, despite Republicans controlling the House, Senate, and the White House. (Reuters / NBC News)

7/ Robert Mueller's probe would continue in the event of a government shutdown. Employees in the special counsel's office are exempt from furlough and would continue their work, despite a potential lack of appropriations. The government is set to shut down Friday night if lawmakers are unable to agree on a spending bill. (CNN)

8/ The Justice Department asked the Supreme Court to review an order to restart DACA. A federal judge ordered that previous beneficiaries of DACA must be allowed to renew their status in the program, but the government is not required to accept new applications. The Justice Department also appealed a related decision, which imposed a nationwide stop on the Trump administration's decision to end the program until the case can be heard. (New York Times)


Notables.

  1. Robert Mueller's team is investigating newly uncovered financial transactions from Russian diplomatic accounts and people or businesses inside the United States. Among them are transactions by former ambassador Sergey Kislyak 10 days after the 2016 presidential election and a blocked $150,000 cash withdrawal five days after the inauguration. (BuzzFeed News)

  2. Trump's alleged affair with a porn star and the reported $130,000 in hush money scandal, explained. (Vox)

  3. Three-quarters of the National Parks Service advisory panel resigned in frustration. Nine out of 12 members abruptly quit, citing frustration that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke had refused to meet with them or hold a single meeting last year. All of the members who resigned had terms that were set to expire in May. (Washington Post)

  4. Wisconsin Democrats flipped a state senate seat in a special election. The district voted for Trump and Mitt Romney in the past two presidential elections. (The Hill)

  5. Jeff Flake delivered a speech from the Senate floor comparing Trump's anti-press rhetoric to former Soviet dictator Josef Stalin that Trump inspires modern-day authoritarians. Trump promised to announce his "Fake News Awards" today. (Los Angeles Times / Reuters)

  6. John Kelly told Democratic lawmakers that the U.S. will never construct a physical wall along the entire stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border and that some of Trump's campaign promises on immigration were "uninformed." (Washington Post)

  7. Border patrol agents routinely vandalize containers of water and supplies left in the Arizona desert for migrants in an attempt to deter and punish people who illegally cross from Mexico. (The Guardian)

Day 362: Subpoenaed.

1/ Steve Bannon was subpoenaed to testify in front of a grand jury as part of special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe. It's the first time Mueller has used a grand jury subpoena to get information from someone in Trump's inner circle. Mueller, however, may end up letting Bannon forgo the grand jury appearance if he allows investigators to question him at the special counsel's offices in Washington. (New York Times)

2/ Bannon met with the House Intelligence Committee this morning behind closed doors. Lawmakers are sure to question Bannon on what he knew about the Trump Tower meeting, which he's previously called "treasonous." (The Hill)

  • Hope Hicks is expected to meet with the House Intelligence Committee as early as Friday. The White House Communications Director will be one of the closest Trump confidants to be privately interviewed as part of the Russia probe. The committee plans to ask her about any contacts that may have occurred between Trump associates and the Russians. (CNN / NBC News)

3/ The government could shut down if lawmakers can't agree on a spending bill by Friday. GOP leaders are looking to a short-term funding measure to keep certain government agencies open while talks continue, but Democrats are unlikely to support any deal that doesn't include protections for young undocumented immigrants who were brought to this country as children. (Washington Post)

4/ Trump preemptively blamed democrats for a shutdown, tweeting "The Democrats want to shut down the Government over Amnesty for all and Border Security. The biggest loser will be our rapidly rebuilding Military, at a time we need it more than ever." Democrats presented Trump with a bipartisan immigration bill last week, and said Trump and Republicans would be to blame for a government shutdown. Current federal funding expires on Saturday. (NBC News)

5/ Senate Democrats have 50 votes in favor of restoring net neutrality. Only one more Republican vote is needed in order to reverse the FCC's decision to deregulate the broadband industry. The attorneys general from 22 states have filed a lawsuit to block the net neutrality repeal. (Washington Post / New York Times)

6/ Sarah Huckabee Sanders claimed Trump can't be racist because he was on "The Apprentice." Sanders said claims that Trump is racist were "outrageous," adding, "Frankly, if the critics of the president were who he said he was, why did NBC give him a show for a decade on TV?" (Bloomberg)

7/ The White House doctor said Trump is in "excellent" overall health and that he performed "well" on a cognitive exam. At 6'3", 239 pounds, Trump is one pound away from being considered obese as defined by the Centers for Disease Control. (The Hill / Politico)

poll/ The number of uninsured Americans rose by 3.2 million in Trump's first year in office. The uninsured rate increased 1.3 percentage points since the last quarter of 2016, leaving 12.2% of Americans without health insurance. (Gallup)

poll/ 42% of Republicans consider negative news stories that are accurate to be "fake news." (Washington Post)


Notables.

  1. Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee want Devin Nunes to release the Fusion GPS transcript. Fusion also supports the release of the transcript. (Business Insider)

  2. U.S. counterintelligence officials warned Jared Kushner about Wendi Deng Murdoch, who could be using their friendship to further the interests of the Chinese government. (Wall Street Journal)

  3. Kim Jong-Un called Trump's nuclear button tweet the "spasm of a lunatic." (The Independent)

  4. Paul Manafort's trial will likely to start in September at the earliest after a federal judge rejected Robert Mueller's bid to kick off the trial in May. (Politico)

  5. Sixty-four trade groups, foreign governments, Republican candidates and more stayed at or held events at Trump properties during his first year in office. Before taking office, Trump said he would hand off control of his global business empire to his sons Donald Jr. and Eric. He didn't, however, divest himself of assets that could cause a conflict of interest. (Reuters)


Watch Orrin Hatch remove a pair of glasses he's not wearing:

Day 358: Racist.

1/ Trump vaguely denied calling Haiti a "shithole country," tweeting that "the language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough." Trump then blamed Democrats for the "outlandish proposal," which he called "a big setback for DACA!" He did not, however, deny that he called El Salvador or African countries "shitholes." (NBC News / Washington Post)

2/ Senator Richard Durbin contradicted Trump, saying the comments were "hate-filled, vile and racist" and that he repeatedly referred to African countries as "shitholes" during the private immigration meeting. Durbin said, "The most disheartening thing to me is my belief that that was the first time words that hateful had been spoken in the Oval Office of the White House." (New York Times / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

3/ The United Nations human rights office called Trump's comments "shocking," "shameful," and "no other word for this but racist." Haiti, the African Union, Mexico, and France all rejected Trump's comments. (Reuters / USA Today)

4/ Don Lemon: "The president of the United States is racist." The CNN Tonight host added that "A lot of us already knew that," and that Trump's comments were "disgusting," but not shocking. "They're not even really surprising." (Washington Post)

5/ Anderson Cooper: "The sentiment the President expressed today is a racist sentiment." Cooper also said that Trump's remarks about American immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador, and African nations were "Not racial. Not racially charged. Racist." (CNN)

6/ At an event to honor Martin Luther King Jr, Trump decried racism, saying: "No matter what the color of our skin or the place of our birth, we are all created equal." He then signed a proclamation on Friday declaring Monday Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which every president since Ronald Reagan has signed. (The Guardian / USA Today / CNN)

poll/ 55% of Americans think Trump's mental fitness is an issue. Republicans called the question "unfair and politically motivated." (Axios)

poll/ 50% of Americans would vote for Oprah over Trump, but 54% voters don't want her to run. (CNN)


Notables.

  1. Trump canceled his visit to London to avoid mass protests. He was originally scheduled to open a new U.S. embassy, but will send Rex Tillerson to do it instead. Trump tweeted that the "reason" he canceled his "trip to London is that I am not a big fan of the Obama Administration" and their decision to sell the previous embassy. (The Guardian)

  2. The US ambassador to Panama resigned over differences with the Trump administration. (CNN)

  3. Jeff Bezos donated $33 million to a scholarship fund for young "dreamers," which will help fund 1,000 college scholarships. (Washington Post)

  4. Corey Lewandowski is scheduled to testify before the House Intelligence Committee next week. Lewandowski said he won't plead the fifth as other witnesses have done. (The Daily Beast)

  5. Trump extended the Iran nuclear deal, but said he will "terminate" the agreement unless Congress and European allies agree to improve it. (Politico)

  6. The Education Department awarded a debt-collection contract to a company Betsy DeVos invested in before becoming education secretary. (Washington Post)

  7. Trump paid a former porn star $130,000 one month before the 2016 election so she wouldn't publicly discuss an alleged sexual encounter from 2006. Michael Cohen, the top attorney at the Trump Organization, arranged the payment to Stephanie Clifford. (Wall Street Journal)

Day 357: To surveil and abuse.

1/ Trump questioned why the US would admit people from "shithole countries" like Haiti or African after lawmakers floated the idea of restoring protections for immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries as part of a bipartisan immigration deal. "Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?" Trump said, suggesting that the U.S. should instead bring more people from countries like Norway than African or Haiti. The White House didn't deny Trump that called those countries "shitholes." In a June meeting on immigration, Trump said Haitians "all have AIDS" and complained that Nigerians would never "go back to their huts" in Africa. (Washington Post / New York Times)

2/ The Trump administration will let states require people to work for Medicaid. Under the new guidance, states can now require Medicaid beneficiaries to work, volunteer or participate in job training. The elderly, disabled, pregnant women, and children are excluded. It's the first time in the fifty-year history of the program that Medicaid recipients may be required to hold down a job in order to receive benefits. (Washington Post / New York Times / NPR)

3/ The House reauthorized the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which allows the US intelligence community to collect Americans' email, text messages, photos, and other electronic communication without a warrant. The legislation, which passed 256 to 164, renews the program for six years and will now head to the Senate. (New York Times)

4/ Trump sent a series of confusing tweets about his position on the bill after a Fox News analyst appealed directly to Trump on-air, urging him to oppose the bill. First, Trump tweeted in apparent opposition to the bill that the "controversial FISA ACT … may have been used, with the help of the discredited and phony Dossier, to so badly surveil and abuse the Trump Campaign by the previous administration and others?" About 90 minutes later, Trump reversed course, tweeting that "today's vote is about foreign surveillance of foreign bad guys on foreign land. We need it! Get smart!" (CNN / USA Today)

5/ Democrats plan to invite sexual assault victims to Trump's State of the Union address later this month to highlight the issue of sexual misconduct. The idea of inviting victims of Trump's alleged harassment to the speech has been scrapped. (NBC News)

6/ Steve Bannon hired a lawyer in preparation for his interview with the House Intelligence Committee next week. Bannon retained Bill Burck, of the firm Quinn Emanuel. (The Daily Beast)

poll/ Trump is losing ground with women, in particular Millennial, white-collar, and blue-collar white women, according to an unpublished SurveyMonkey poll of 605,172 Americans. [Editor's note: this is a must read] (The Atlantic)

poll/ 79% of Americans say "Dreamers" should be allowed to remain in the US and apply for citizenship. 63% oppose building a wall along the Mexico border. (Quinnipiac)

  1. 58% of voters say that marijuana use should be made legal.

  2. 70% oppose enforcing federal marijuana laws in states that have legalized medical or recreational marijuana.

  3. 47% of Americans have an unfavorable view of Jeff Sessions.

  4. 52% of voters disapprove of the Republican tax plan.


Notables.

  1. Joe Arpaio resurrected false claims that Obama was not born in the United States. Arpaio claimed that Obama's birth certificate is a "forgery document." He is seeking the Republican nomination in Arizona's 2018 Senate race. (The Hill)

  2. Republicans have four convicted criminals running for Congress in 2018. Three of the men have suggested that their convictions show they were persecuted by the Obama administration for their political beliefs. (HuffPost)

  3. Trump has not formally proposed any new resources or spending to tackle the opioid epidemic. The 90-day public health emergency declaration ends on January 23rd. (Politico)

  4. The FBI will notify U.S. companies and the public about Russian efforts to manipulate social media and interfere in upcoming elections. The FBI's "foreign influence" task force, which was created last year, could dramatically reshape the relationship between the government and social media companies. (Bloomberg)

  5. Ryan Zinke announced a massive overhaul of the Interior Department that would move tens of thousands of government employees to new locations across the country and reorganize the management of federal lands. (The Hill)

  6. Kellyanne Conway said Trump "discovered" there doesn't need to be a "physical wall" along the country's entire southern border. Trump has said he will not sign an immigration deal that doesn't include funding for the border wall. (The Hill)

Day 356: A flawed legal premise.

1/ A federal judge blocked the Trump administration's attempt to end DACA, the Obama-era program that allows undocumented immigrants who entered the country as children to remain in the United States. A San Francisco-based U.S. District Court judge said Jeff Sessions' claim that the program is illegal was "based on a flawed legal premise," and ordered the administration to resume accepting DACA renewal applications. Trump responded, calling the court system "broken and unfair." Sarah Huckabee Sanders added that the decision was "outrageous." (Politico / Reuters / New York Times)

  • Immigration agents raided 7-Eleven stores nationwide, arresting 21 people. Agents targeted 98 stores nationwide. (NBC News)

2/ Trump declined to commit to an interview with Robert Mueller when asked at a news conference today. He said it "seems unlikely," but that "we'll see what happens." Trump repeatedly argued there has been "no collusion" between his campaign and Russia, and questioned why he would need to be interviewed. (NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times)

3/ Trump's personal attorney filed lawsuits against Fusion GPS and BuzzFeed over the Steele dossier. The lawsuits, one in federal and the other in state court, both claim that the dossier contained "false and defamatory" allegations against Trump that resulted in "harm to his personal and professional reputation, current business interests, and the impairment of business opportunities." (ABC News / CNN)

  • Trump said his administration would take a "strong look" at libel laws. He criticized the current laws as a "disgrace" and a "sham." He pledged to make it easier for people to sue news organizations and publishers for defamation. (New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

4/ A panel of federal judges ruled that North Carolina's congressional map was unconstitutional on the grounds that Republicans drew the map with the intention of gaining a political advantage. The ruling, which imperils Republican seats in the upcoming election, marks the first time a federal court has blocked a congressional map on partisan gerrymandering grounds. (The New York Times)

5/ A member of Trump's National Security Council proposed withdrawing U.S. forces from Eastern Europe as a way to please Putin during the first months of the Trump presidency. Kevin Harrington's proposal, which was rejected, is the first known instance of senior Trump aides attempting to alter U.S. military actions to please Putin. (The Daily Beast)

6/ The Trump administration waived fines for Deutsche Bank and four other multinational banks convicted of manipulating global interest rates. Trump owes Deutsche at least $130 million in loans. The German bank was also fined $425 million by New York State for laundering $10 billion out of Russia. (International Business Times)

7/ The Interior Department removed Florida "from consideration for any new oil and gas platforms" and won't allow oil drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean off Florida. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said drilling would be "off the table" when it comes to waters. The move, following pressure from Republican Gov. Rick Scott, exempts Florida from the Trump administration's plan to open up offshore drilling in coastal waters. (NBC News)

8/ The White House plans to destroy the data collected for Trump's voter fraud commission rather than giving it to the Department of Homeland Security. White House Director of Information Technology Charles Herndon added that the commission did not create any "preliminary findings," despite Sarah Huckabee Sanders' previous assertion that such findings would also be turned over to DHS. (The Hill / Politico)

9/ Canada believes Trump intends to pull the United States out of NAFTA. The three countries will meet in Montreal this month for the sixth of seven planned rounds of negotiations. Major differences remain between the United States on one side and Mexico and Canada on the other. (Reuters)

poll/ 49% of Americans believe Obama is more responsible for the current U.S. economy than Trump. 40% believe Trump is responsible. (The Hill)


Notables.

  1. Rep. Darrell Issa will not seek reelection to the House, becoming the second California Republican to quit this week. Rep. Ed Royce also said he did not plan to seek reelection. (Politico)

  2. A Senate Foreign Relations Committee report says the US is not prepared to defend against possible Russian meddling in the 2018 midterm elections or the 2020 presidential contest. (CNN)

  3. Robert Mueller has added a veteran cyber prosecutor to his team, signaling a recent focus on possible computer crimes. (Washington Post)

  4. Trump's companies sold more than $35 million in real estate in 2017, primarily to shell companies that obscure the buyers' identities. (USA Today)

  5. White House aides must decide before the end of January if they plan to stay through the November midterm elections or leave the administration. The deadline is intended to bring a sense of order to an anticipated staffing exodus. (CNN)

  6. Vermont's Senate approved a bill legalizing adult consumption and cultivation of marijuana, defying Jeff Sessions' escalating war on weed. (Vice News)

Day 355: Sunk.

1/ Trump's secretaries of state and defense are trying to convince him not to conduct a "bloody nose" attack against North Korea. Mattis and Tillerson are warning Trump that "a sharp, violent response to some North Korean provocation" is risky and could result in a global – possibly nuclear – catastrophe. (Business Insider)

  • The Trump administration plans to loosen constraints on the use of nuclear weapons and develop a new low-yield nuclear warhead for US Trident missiles. (The Guardian)

2/ Dianne Feinstein released the full transcript of Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson's testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The head of the research firm behind the dossier of allegations against then-candidate Trump told congressional investigators that someone from inside Trump's network had also provided the FBI with corroborating information during the campaign. Simpson had asked the committee last week for the transcript to be made public, but Republican leaders declined prompting Feinstein to post the transcript today with "no agreement" from committee Republicans. (CNBC / Washington Post / Politico)

3/ Robert Mueller could interview Trump in the next few weeks on a limited set of questions. Mueller told Trump's lawyers in late December that he'd likely request an interview with Trump. A person familiar with the discussions said Mueller is most interested in whether Trump tried to obstruct justice. (The Washington Post / New York Times)

  • Trump's Russia ambassador warned lawmakers that the U.S.-Russia relationship would be "done" if the Kremlin interferes in the 2018 midterm elections. Jon Huntsman warned the House Foreign Affairs Committee in a closed-door meeting that "I don't think Russia is going to quit," and that "Putin probably has never been stronger." (The Daily Beast)

4/ White House officials believe that Trump will be "sunk" if Robert Mueller looks into Trump's finances as part of the Russia probe. "People don't think in the White House — don't think that he colluded with Russia," Michael Wolff said, author of Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House. "They do think that if the investigation goes near his finances, he's sunk." (The Hill / CNBC)

5/ The Russian lawyer met Ivanka Trump after the Trump Tower meeting with Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner in June 2016. Natalia Veselnitskaya said that as she was leaving the building and waiting for an elevator, she exchanged pleasantries with a blond-haired woman whom she believed was Trump. (NBC News)

6/ Steve Bannon stepped down as executive chairman of Breitbart News. The moves comes after Rebekah Mercer cut financial ties with Bannon over his unflattering comments about Trump and his family in the Michael Wolff book. (New York Times / Politico)

7/ Trump said he would support a two-phase, bipartisan immigration deal in order to avoid a government shutdown. A potential deal would first address DACA protections and border security with what he called a "bill of love," followed by a comprehensive immigration bill. Trump said such a deal must include money for his border wall and strict immigration limits. (New York Times / Associated Press)


Notables.

  1. The Trump administration spending plan calls for cuts to proven security measures in order to pay for his wall along the Mexican border. (New York Times)

  2. Trump renominated two judicial nominees that the American Bar Association rated as "not qualified" to serve. The ABA said one was unqualified for a lifetime seat on the bench due to his "work habits," while the other wasn't qualified due to her lack of trial court experience. In total, Trump resubmitted 21 judicial nominees to the Senate after their nominations expired in 2017. (HuffPost)

  3. Joe Arpaio, the former Arizona sheriff known for his hard-line immigration tactics, says he's running for Senate. Arpaio was convicted of criminal contempt for defying a court order to stop racially profiling Latinos. He was pardoned by Trump. (CNN)

  4. The White House wants to find a new role for Andrew Puzder, the former head of Carl's Jr. who declined the nomination to become labor secretary after old domestic abuse allegations resurfaced. The White House, however, is apparently considering finding another role for Puzder inside the Trump administration. (Politico)

  5. Ahead of his first diplomatic trip to Israel, Jared Kushner's family real estate company received roughly $30 million in investment from one of Israel's largest financial institutions. (New York Times)

  6. Trump was named the world's most oppressive leader for "overall achievement in undermining global press freedom" by the Committee to Protect Journalists, beating out Erdoğan and Putin. Trump plans to announce his "MOST DISHONEST AND CORRUPT MEDIA AWARDS OF THE YEAR" on Wednesday. (HuffPost)

  7. Trump will attend the World Economic Forum in Davos – an event synonymous with wealth and elite prestige. (New York Times)

Day 354: Executive time.

1/ Trump's legal team anticipates that Special Counsel Robert Mueller will try to directly interview Trump as part of the Russia probe. The team wants to submit written responses to Mueller's questions instead of having Trump appear for a formal, one-on-one sit-down. Mueller informed Trump's lawyers last month that he may want to interview Trump "soon." A person with direct knowledge of the discussions described them as "preliminary and ongoing." (NBC News / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post)

2/ Trump requires more "executive time" to watch TV, make phone calls, and tweet than he did in the early days of his presidency. The official schedule says Trump spends "executive time" in the Oval Office every morning from 8am to 11am, but officials say it's spent in his residence. Trump often comes down to the Oval Office around 11am. By comparison, George W. Bush usually started his day in the Oval at 6:45am and Obama would arrive between 9 and 10am, after his morning exercise. That's not all, Trump has several additional hours of "executive time" sprinkled throughout his schedule. All told, Trump spends roughly 5 hours on executive time over the course of an 8-hour workday. (Axios)

  • How much of your life is spent on Trump's "executive time." (Washington Post)

3/ Over the weekend, Trump defended his mental fitness, describing himself as a "very stable genius" in response to details in Michael Wolff's book that he is mentally unfit to serve. He insisted that opponents and the media were attacking his mental capacity because they had failed to prove collusion with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign. Trump tweeted that "my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart." (New York Times / CNN / The Guardian)

  • Trump tweeted about his "consensual presidency," misquoting a New York Post column that had said Trump's presidency has been "enormously consequential." (The Hill)

4/ Jake Tapper abruptly ended an interview with White House adviser Stephen Miller on CNN's State of the Union on Sunday. Miller was there to talk about Michael Wolff's new book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, but refused to answer questions about Trump directly and repeatedly attempted to shift the conversation toward criticism of CNN. "I think I've wasted enough of my viewers' time. Thank you, Stephen," Tapper said as he cut off the interview. Miller then refused to leave the CNN set and had to be escorted off the premises. (CNN / Business Insider)

5/ The prospect of Trump's removal from office is an almost daily topic of conversation in the White House, according to Michael Wolff. The author of Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House said the situation in the White House is so bad, "the 25th Amendment is a concept that is alive every day in the White House." The 25th Amendment outlines the process of removal in case a sitting President is "unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office." (NBC News / Newsweek)

6/ Steve Bannon walked back his critical comments of Trump Jr. He said he "regrets" his "delay in responding to the inaccurate reporting" that the Trump Jr. meeting with Russians at Trump Tower during the campaign was "treasonous," "unpatriotic," and "bad shit." In a statement, Bannon called Trump Jr. "both a patriot and a good man," adding that "there was no collusion and the investigation is a witch hunt." (Axios / CNN)


Notables.

  1. The Trump administration canceled provisional residency permits for 200,000 Salvadorans who have lived in the country since at least 2001, leaving them vulnerable to deportation. (Washington Post)

  2. Oprah Winfrey is "actively thinking" about running for president, according to two friends. Winfrey's speech at the Golden Globes, where she said "a new day is on the horizon," spurred chatter about a 2020 run. (CNN)

  3. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg signaled that she intends to outlast Trump by hiring law clerks for at least two more terms. (CNN)

  4. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said there was already evidence of Russian meddling in Mexico's election, which is set for July. (Reuters)

  5. The US Army's official Twitter account liked a tweet critical of Trump by "The Office" and "The Mindy Project" star Mindy Kaling. (Washington Post)

  6. A Senate bill that would reverse the FCC's decision to repeal net neutrality received its 30th co-sponsor, ensuring it will receive a vote on the Senate floor. (The Hill)

  7. Federal regulators rejected a proposal by Energy Secretary Rick Perry to subsidize coal and nuclear plants. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission sided with critics, who argued that Perry’s proposal would upend competition in the nation’s electricity markets, which favors lowest-cost power sources. (New York Times)

Day 351: Possible obstruction.

1/ Trump ordered the White House's top lawyer to stop Jeff Sessions from recusing himself from the Russia investigation, saying he expected his attorney general to protect him. Don McGahn unsuccessfully lobbied Sessions to remain in charge in March 2017. Trump reportedly erupted in anger in front of several White House officials. The previously unreported details have legal experts suggesting that there is currently a larger body of public evidence tying Trump to a possible crime of obstruction. Robert Mueller's investigation is currently investigating whether Trump obstructed justice while in office and whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. (New York Times)

  • THE TIMELINE:

  • Comey testified on May 3rd that the Russia investigation was ongoing to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

  • Two days after Comey's testimony, a Sessions aide approached a Capitol Hill staff member asking for derogatory information about the FBI director. The attorney general wanted one negative news article about Comey per day.

  • Comey was fired on May 9th.

  • 🇷🇺 What you need to know about the Russia investigation.

2/ A third Republican called on Jeff Sessions to resign, saying he "is not able to take the reins and direct" the Russia probe because of his recusal. Chris Stewart, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, joins Mark Meadows, Freedom Caucus chair, and Jim Jordan, a member who sits on the oversight and judiciary committees in the US House of Representatives, who have called for Sessions to resign this week. (CNN)

3/ Paul Ryan supported House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes' threat to hold officials at Justice and the FBI in contempt of Congress if they didn't meet Nunes' subpoena demands. Over the summer, Nunes subpoenaed the Justice Department and FBI for documents related to the dossier about Trump's connections to the Kremlin and whether the FBI used information from the dossier to apply for warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to conduct surveillance on Trump associates. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray argued that the documents were highly classified and would not be released or shared outside the bureau. (CNN)

4/ Republican senators recommended possible criminal charges for the author of the Trump-Russia dossier. Charles Grassley and Lindsey Graham suggested that the Justice Department investigate Christopher Steele for possibly lying to the FBI. (Washington Post / New York Times)

5/ The FBI is actively investigating allegations of corruption related to the Clinton Foundation. Prosecutors shut down the investigation in 2016 due to lack of evidence. FBI agents from Little Rock, Arkansas, are looking into whether Hillary Clinton promised or performed policy favors in exchange for donations to the foundation while she was secretary of state. (The Hill / CNN / New York Times)

6/ Michael Wolff called Trump the least credible person to ever walk on earth and that he "absolutely" spoke to Trump as part of reporting his book. The "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House" author added that "100% of the people around" Trump "questions his intelligence and fitness for office." Trump tweeted that "I authorized Zero access to White House (actually turned him down many times) for author of phony book! I never spoke to him for book," adding "watch what happens to him and Sloppy Steve" Bannon. (NBC News)

poll/ 61% of Americans believe marijuana should be legalized. In 2000, the adults who supported marijuana legalization stood at 31%. (Pew Research Center)


Notables.

  1. North and South Korea will sit down for their first formal talks in more than two years next week to find ways to cooperate on the Winter Olympics in the South and to improve their poor relationship. (Associated Press)

  2. The Trump administration froze $125 million in funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency – about a third of the annual US donation to the agency. (Axios)

  3. Scott Pruitt told friends and associates that he'd like to be attorney general if Jeff Sessions leaves the administration. (Politico)

  4. Pence's chief lawyer and domestic policy director are leaving his office. (CNN)

  5. The home of Roy Moore's accuser burned in a fire that is now under investigation by the Etowah County Arson Task Force. (Al.com)

  6. The White House asked to screen "The Post," a recently released political drama about the Washington Post's 1971 decision to publish the top-secret Pentagon Papers and the newspaper's legal victory over the Nixon administration. (Hollywood Reporter)

  7. Comcast fired about 500 salespeople, despite saying that the company would create thousands of new jobs in exchange for a big tax cut. (Ars Technica)

  8. The economy added 148,000 jobs in December, which means 2017 had the slowest rate of job growth in six years. The unemployment rate held steady at 4.1% – a 17-year low. (MSNBC / Wall Street Journal)

Day 350: Cease and desist.

1/ Steve Bannon received a cease and desist letter from Trump's lawyer accusing him of breaching his confidentiality agreement by making "disparaging" and "outright defamatory statements" about Trump and his family. The letter comes after excerpts from Michael Wolff's book were made public, with Bannon calling the Trump Tower meeting with Russians "treasonous," "unpatriotic," and "bad shit." During the campaign, Trump had staffers sign a non-disclosure agreement which required all staff to refrain from making any disparaging comments about Trump, his family, or the campaign. (ABC News)

2/ Trump's lawyer also demanded that Michael Wolff and his publisher immediately "cease and desist from any further publication, release or dissemination" of the forthcoming book. Trump's lawyers are pursuing possible charges, including libel, in connection with the book, "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House," which is scheduled to be released Friday – four days earlier than planned. (Washington Post / ABC News)

3/ Michael Wolff has tapes to back up the quotes in his book, including conversations with Steve Bannon and former White House deputy chief of staff Katie Walsh. On Twitter, Wolff thanked Trump for making his book the current best seller on Amazon. (Axios)

  • Senior White House officials are debating whether Katie Walsh should be fired from America First after she was quoted as reportedly saying that dealing with Trump is "like trying to figure out what a child wants." Walsh, a former White House adviser, has disputed the comment. (Axios)

4/ Breitbart board members are debating whether to fire Steve Bannon. Earlier in the day, Sarah Huckabee Sanders suggested that Breitbart News should consider removing its executive chairman. But that's not all, Bannon's billionaire benefactors, Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah Mercer, formally cut financial ties with Bannon today. (Wall Street Journal / Politico)

5/ The White House banned staff from using personal cell phones in the West Wing. Sarah Huckabee Sanders cited security concerns for the ban. Staff will now be required to use their government-issued devices in the West Wing, which don't accommodate texting. The White House weighed a similar move in early November, after leaks to the media from within the administration angered Trump. (Bloomberg / NBC News)

6/ Trump dissolved his voter fraud commission. He blamed states for refusing to comply with the panel's requests for voter information, including birth dates and partial Social Security numbers. The commission was set up in May to investigate Trump's unfounded claims that massive voter fraud had cost him the popular vote. (CNN)

7/ Jeff Sessions will allow federal prosecutors to more aggressively enforce marijuana laws. Sessions is expected to rescind an Obama-era policy of discouraging federal prosecutors from bringing charges of marijuana-related crimes or from interfering with marijuana sales in states that have legalized sales of the drug. In February, Sessions said that while states "can pass the laws they choose," he said it remains "a violation of federal law to distribute marijuana throughout any place in the United States." (Associated Press / New York Times / Politico)

8/ The Trump administration plans to allow offshore oil and gas exploration in the Arctic, Atlantic, and Pacific oceans. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said the proposal would make about 90% of the U.S. outer continental shelf available for offshore leasing. (CNBC / Washington Post / New York Times)


Notables.

  1. Freedom Caucus leaders called for Jeff Sessions to step down, citing recent leaks from the Justice Department and FBI. (The Hill)

  2. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Chris Wray met with Paul Ryan about the House Russia investigation. The meeting was related to a document request by House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes this summer. (Politico)

  3. Dianne Feinstein asked Dan Scavino and Brad Parscale to meet with the Senate Judiciary Committee. Scavino is the White House social media director and Parscale oversaw the Trump campaign's digital operation. (Mother Jones)

  4. More than a dozen members of Congress met with a Yale University psychiatry professor last month to discuss Trump's mental state and recent behavior. (Politico)

  5. Virginia determined the outcome of a tied House of Delegates race by random drawing after two delegates each received at 11,608 votes – a Republican won. Republicans will hold a 51-49 majority in Virginia's state house. (Vox)

  6. The US will suspend nearly all security aid to Pakistan as frustration mounts with the country's efforts to fight terror groups. (New York Times)

  7. The Trump administration proposed rules for health plans that bypass some Affordable Care Act protections. The alternative health care plans would be reclassified so they no longer would have to include a set of 10 essential health benefits that the ACA requires. (Washington Post)

Day 349: Treasonous.

1/ Steve Bannon called the Trump Tower meeting with Russians "treasonous," "unpatriotic," and "bad shit." He added: "The three senior guys in the campaign thought it was a good idea to meet with a foreign government inside Trump Tower … with no lawyers … You should have called the FBI immediately." Bannon's comments come from forthcoming book the Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, by Michael Wolff. (The Guardian)

2/ Trump responds: "Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind." Trump's statement added: "Steve was rarely in a one-on-one meeting with me and only pretends to have had influence to fool a few people with no access and no clue, whom he helped write phony books." (Bloomberg / Politico)

3/ Paul Manafort sued Robert Mueller, Rod Rosenstein, and the Justice Department. The lawsuit challenges the authority given to Mueller by Rosenstein, and argues that Mueller's decision to charge Manafort with alleged money laundering crimes had nothing to do with the 2016 campaign and went too far. (CNN / New York Times)

4/ Trump taunts North Korea: My "Nuclear Button" is "much bigger and more powerful" than Kim Jong-un's – and "my Button works!" Trump's tweet came after Kim said he has a "nuclear button on the desk in my office" and "all of the mainland United States is within the range of our nuclear strike." (New York Times / The Hill)

  • The "Nuclear Button" explained: There is no button. (New York Times)

  • A House Democrat called on lawmakers to pass a measure restricting Trump's ability to launch a preemptive nuclear strike on North Korea without congressional approval. (The Hill)

5/ Fusion GPS defended the dossier of alleged Trump-Russia ties and called on Republicans to release the firm's testimony. "The attack on our firm," the Fusion GPS founders wrote in a New York Times Op-Ed, "is a diversionary tactic by Republicans who don't want to investigate Donald Trump's ties to Russia." Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch write they hired Christopher Steele to investigate Trump's repeated efforts "to do deals in a notoriously corrupt police state that most serious investors shun." They added: "As we told the Senate Judiciary Committee in August, our sources said the dossier was taken so seriously because it corroborated reports the [FBI] had received from other sources, including one inside the Trump camp," referring to a drunk George Papadopoulos, who bragged about Russia having political dirt on Hillary Clinton to one of Australia's top diplomats. (New York Times)

6/ Trump tweets that the "corrupt media awards" will be presented to the "fake news media" next week. In November, Trump suggested there should be a contest among news networks, except for Fox News, for a "Fake News Trophy." A Rasmussen poll conducted after Trump's suggestion found that most Americans would award Fox News the trophy. "THE MOST DISHONEST AND CORRUPT MEDIA AWARDS OF THE YEAR" will be presented Monday at 5:00 pm ET. (The Hill)


Notables.

  1. In 2017 US manufacturing had its strongest year since 2004. (Bloomberg)

  2. Trump's pick to run Immigration and Customs Enforcement called for politicians in sanctuary cities to be charged with crimes. Thomas Homan said the Department of Justice needs "to file charges against the sanctuary cities" and "hold back their funding," and the politicians enforcing sanctuary city policies need to be held "personally accountable." (The Hill)

  3. Rupert Murdoch called Trump a "fucking idiot" after a conversation about immigration. "Murdoch suggested [in a Dec. 2016 phone call] that taking a liberal approach to H-1B visas, which open America's doors to select immigrants, might be hard to square with his promises to build a wall and close the borders. But Trump seemed unconcerned, assuring Murdoch, 'We'll figure it out.' 'What a fucking idiot,' said Murdoch, shrugging, as he got off the phone." (New York Magazine)

  4. Democrats Doug Jones and Tina Smith will both be sworn into the Senate today, narrowing the GOP majority. (NPR)

  5. North Korea and South Korea established contact on a hotline that's been dormant for almost two years. (CNN)

  6. Sheriff David Clarke was temporarily blocked from tweeting after Twitter users complained that three of his messages violated the terms of service. Clarke was placed in read-only mode until he deleted three tweets that called for violence against members of the media. (CNN)

  7. The National Security Agency is losing its top talent because of low pay, slumping morale, and unpopular reorganization. (Washington Post)

Day 348: Just a coffee boy.

1/ A drunk George Papadopoulos bragged about the political dirt Russia had on Hillary Clinton to Australia's top diplomat at a London bar in May 2016. Australian officials passed the information about Papadopoulos to their American counterparts two months later, when leaked Democratic emails began appearing online. The FBI opened its counterintelligence investigation in July 2016 into Russia's attempts to disrupt the election following the revelation that the Trump campaign had information about the DNC's hacked emails Trump and his advisers have dismissed Papadopoulos' campaign role as just a "coffee boy." (New York Times)

2/ Trump suggested that former Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin should face jail time after the State Department posted emails it found on Anthony Weiner's computer. Abedin had forwarded State Department passwords to her personal Yahoo account. In a tweet, Trump called on the "deep state" Justice Department to prosecute both Abedin and James Comey. (Washington Post)

3/ Orrin Hatch will retire at the end of the year, resisting pressure from Trump to seek an eighth term. The move opens the door for Mitt Romney to run for the seat. During the 2016 campaign, Romney called then-candidate Trump a "fraud" and "phony" who was unfit to serve. Hatch is 83-years-old and the longest-serving Senate Republican. (New York Times / Politico)

4/ 2017 was the safest year on record for commercial passenger air travel with airlines recording no commercial passenger jet deaths. Trump took credit for the record on Twitter, but didn't provide details what he did to improve airline safety. (Reuters / The Hill)

  • Workplace deaths in the coal mining industry increased last year to their highest point in three years. 15 miners died on the job in 2017, compared with eight in 2016. (The Hill)

5/ White House aides are worried about 2018 as several senior officials are expected to depart in the coming year – with no replacements lined up – and Robert Mueller's Russia investigation looms. Aides expect few things to get done in Washington this year as they head into a contentious midterm election season. (Politico)

  • Democrats are already campaigning for 2020. Many Democrats and some Republicans say there's a chance Trump may not be on the ballot in 2020 for any number of reasons: He resigns; gets removed from office; chooses not to seek re-election; or loses in a GOP primary. Steve Bannon placed Trump's odds of completing his first term at 30%. (NBC News)

6/ More women than ever are considering a run for governor. At least 79 women — 49 Democrats and 30 Republicans — are running for governor or seriously considering it as filing deadlines approach. A record 34 women ran for governor in 1994. (Washington Post)

  • Elizabeth Warren is positioned to run for president in 2020 if she decides to. (Politico)

  • Kirsten Gillibrand's voting record suggests she's running for president in 2020. Gillibrand's record is consistently anti-Trump. (Washington Post)


Notables.

  1. Trump has made 1,950 false or misleading claims in 347 days – an average of 5.6 claims a day. (Washington Post)

  2. Anthony Scaramucci is telling friends that Trump misses him and want him back in the West Wing. (The Daily Beast)

  3. Trump rescinded proposed rules that would have required companies to disclose the chemicals used in fracking. (Associated Press)

  4. The Interior Department won't criminally prosecute energy companies and other businesses that accidentally kill migratory birds, reversing a longstanding practice at the agency. (Reuters)

  5. Trump renewed leases for a copper and nickel mining operation on the border of Minnesota's Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, which reversed an Obama-era decision. (Washington Post)

  6. Trump scrapped Obama's proposal for the federal government to underwrite half the cost of an Amtrak tunnel connecting New Jersey to Penn Station. (Crain's New York)

  7. The Justice Department wants a question about citizenship to be added to the 2020 census. Critics say the move could limit participation by immigrants who fear that the government could use the information against them. (ProPublica)

  8. South Korea proposed holding high-level talks with North Korea, a day after Kim Jong-un suggested inter-Korean dialogue to discuss easing military tensions and his country's participation in the Winter Olympics in the South. (New York Times)

  9. Trump tweeted that the US is watching the "brutal and corrupt Iranian regime" amid deadly protests in the country. The State Department lists Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism. (CNN)

  10. Trump tweets the US "foolishly" handed Pakistan more than $33 billion in aid over the last 15 years while getting "nothing but lies and deceit" in return. He's pledged to put a stop to it. (Reuters)

Day 344: Looks bad.

1/ Trump: The Russia investigation makes the US "look very bad" and "puts the country in a very bad position." The comment came during an impromptu 30-minute interview with The New York Times at his golf club in West Palm Beach. Trump insisted 16 times that there has been "no collusion" discovered by Robert Mueller's investigation. Additional quotes below. (New York Times)

  1. On collusion with Russia: "There is no collusion" and even if there was collusion, "it's not a crime."

  2. On reopening the investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails: "I have absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department."

  3. On China: "China's hurting us very badly on trade, but I have been soft on China because the only thing more important to me than trade is war."

  4. On North Korea: "…a nuclear menace…"

2/ Russia said the worsening relationship with the US is a major disappointment. A Putin spokesman told reporters that Russia still wants improved relations with the US, but they have to be based on a "mutual trust and mutual respect" and that "it takes two to tango." (Associated Press)

3/ Trump tweets that the US could use some "good old Global Warming" right now while most of the Northeast is experiencing record-breaking cold weather. Weather and climate change are two different things: Weather is the short-term atmospheric conditions, while climate change is how the atmosphere acts over long periods of time. (The Hill)

4/ Trump fired the remaining 16 members of his HIV/AIDS advisory council. Members received a FedEx letter informing them that they were fired. There was no explanation or reason given. (Washington Blade / Newsweek)


Notables.

  1. Trump accused China of being caught "RED HANDED" for allowing oil into North Korea after U.S. spy satellites detected Chinese ships transferring oil to North Korean vessels about 30 times since October. (Reuters)

  2. The Trump administration rolled back offshore drilling rules put in place after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. The rule change will save operators $288 million over 10 years. (Bloomberg)

  3. Romanian hackers took over two-thirds of Washington DC's outdoor surveillance cameras a week before Trump's inauguration. 123 of the D.C. police department's 187 outdoor surveillance cameras were hacked, leaving them unable to record for several days. (Washington Post)

Day 343: Back to work.

1/ Robert Mueller is investigating whether the Trump campaign and the RNC coordinated their voter outreach using Russian-acquired information. Russian hackers stole voter information from election databases in several states in 2016. Mueller's prosecutors want to know if the Trump campaign used that information to target voters in key swing states and determine if the joint RNC-Trump campaign data operation effort was related to the activities of Russian trolls and bots aimed at influencing the election. Jared Kushner was in charge of the campaign's digital operation and has recently searched for a crisis public relations firm to handle press inquiries. (Yahoo News / Business Insider)

2/ A jailed Russian said he can prove he hacked the Democratic National Committee computers on behalf of Russian intelligence. Konstantin Kozlovsky claims he left behind a data signature in a hidden data file that corresponds to his Russian passport number and the number of his visa to visit the Caribbean island of St. Martin. (McClatchy DC)

3/ Robert Mueller may indict Paul Manafort and Rick Gates a second time. Washington legal experts believe Mueller is preparing to file a superseding indictment to formally charge both men with violating tax laws. (The Daily Beast)

4/ Trump's legal team plans to call Michael Flynn a liar seeking to protect himself if he accuses the president or his senior aides of wrongdoing. Flynn is the most senior former Trump adviser known to have provided Mueller's team with information, and the lenient terms of his plea agreement suggest he has promised significant information to investigators. (Washington Post)

5/ Trump golfed two days in a row after tweeting "it's back to work in order to Make America Great Again." On the second day, a box truck was parked between cameras and the president in order to block the view of Trump golfing. (Associated Press / BuzzFeed News)

6/ Trump falsely claimed that he has signed more legislation than any other president at this point in their term. While Trump did sign more bills in his first 100 days than any president since Truman, he has now signed the fewest number of bills into law of any first-year president dating back to Eisenhower. (Politico)

7/ 34% of senior Trump administration officials have resigned, been fired, or been reassigned this year. It's the highest first-year departure rate of any other administration in the last 40 years. The next-highest first-year turnover rate was Ronald Reagan's, with 17% of senior aides leaving the administration in 1981. (Wall Street Journal)

poll/ Obama and Hillary Clinton are the most admired man and woman in the United States. Trump was the second-most admired man. (Gallup)

poll/ 26% of Americans think Trump's Twitter use is appropriate, with 59% disapproving and 15% unsure. (The Hill)

poll/ 44% of Republicans think Trump successfully repealed the Affordable Care Act. Overall, 31% believe Trump repealed the Affordable Care Act, 49% say he hasn’t, and 21% aren't sure. (Vox)

poll/ 52% of Americans say the U.S. is less respected in the world than a year ago. 21% said they think the U.S. became more respected in the world and 26% think there was no change. (The Hill)


Notables.

  1. Trump has spent 110 days as president at one of his properties. (CNN)

  2. New York City, San Francisco, and Philadelphia filed a federal lawsuit against the Department of Defense, saying the system for reporting service members disqualified from gun ownership is broken. (Associated Press)

  3. China is projected to overtake the US economy by 2032. (Bloomberg)

  4. The Virginia State Board of Elections postponed plans for a name-drawing to decide the winner of a deadlocked House of Delegates race after one of the candidates announced plans for a court challenge over whether the election was really a tie. (Washington Post)

  5. A US appeals court rejected a legal challenge to Trump's voter fraud commission, saying the Electronic Privacy Information Center is "not a voter" and does not have legal standing to sue the voter fraud commission for alleged violations of the 2002 E-Government Act. (The Hill)

  6. Roy Moore filed a complaint alleging "systematic voter fraud." The Alabama secretary of state dismissed complaints of election fraud and officials plan to certify the results today. Moore was the first Republican to lose a United States Senate race in Alabama in 25 years and has refused to concede the election. (New York Times / NBC News)

Day 341: Pile of garbage.

1/ Trump claimed the "tainted" FBI is using the "bogus," "pile of garbage" dossier to go after him. The dossier contains allegations about Trump's connections to Russia and possible coordination between the campaign and the Kremlin during the 2016 election. Many of the details contained in the dossier have been verified. (Washington Post / Politico)

2/ Andrew McCabe plans to retire in March when he becomes fully eligible for pension benefits. Trump attacked the FBI's deputy director on Twitter, saying McCabe is "racing the clock to retire with full benefits." McCabe served as James Comey's deputy and has been the focus of conservatives who question whether the FBI conducted an impartial investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server. McCabe cannot be fired by Trump. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico)

  • The Justice Department's inspector general review of the Clinton email investigation continues. Authorities are examining whether the Justice Department and FBI followed established "policies and procedures'' when then-FBI Director James Comey announced that the bureau would not recommend criminal charges against Clinton. (USA Today)

3/ House Republicans are investigating an FBI lawyer's contacts with the reporter that broke the dossier story. James Baker communicated with Mother Jones reporter David Corn weeks before the November 2016 election. Corn was the first to report the existence of the dossier on October 31st, but has denied that Baker was the source for his story. Baker was reassigned last week. (Politico)

4/ In a June meeting on immigration, Trump said Haitians "all have AIDS" and complained that Nigerians would never "go back to their huts" in Africa. Sarah Sanders called the report "outrageous." (New York Times)

5/ A federal judge blocked Trump's restrictions on reuniting refugee families and partially suspended the ban on refugees coming from 11 mostly Muslim countries. Trump's October executive order banned entry of spouses and children of refugees who have already settled in the US, known as "follow-to-join" refugees. (Washington Post)

6/ The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the latest version of Trump's travel ban violates federal law, but will remain in effect anyway. Earlier this month, the Supreme Court issued an order saying the ban can be enforced while challenges to the policy move through the legal system. (CNN)

7/ A federal appeals court rejected Trump's bid to block the military from accepting transgender recruits starting on January 1st. It was the second appeals court to reject the administration's policy change. (Reuters)

8/ A federal judge ruled that Trump's voter fraud commission must give Democrats access to the panel's records. The group held its last meeting in September and will not meet again this year. The commission is expected to issue a report early next year. (Politico)

9/ The United Nations Security Council placed new sanctions on North Korea, cutting off fuel supplies and ordering North Koreans working overseas to return home. North Korea called the sanctions an act of war. (New York Times / Reuters)

  • The Trump administration linked financial support for the United Nations to compliance with American demands at least four times in the past week. (New York Times)

10/ Trump told his friends Mar-a-Lago: "You all just got a lot richer." The comment was in reference to tax reform Trump signed into law hours earlier. (CBS News)

11/ More than 4 in 5 Americans who enrolled in Affordable Care Act health insurance live in states that Trump won. The four states with the highest number of sign-ups – Florida, Texas, North Carolina and Georgia – account for nearly 3.9 million of the 8.8 million consumers who have signed up for coverage. (ABC News)


Notables.

  1. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin received a gift-wrapped box full of horse manure. A Christmas card inside the package read, "We're returning the 'gift' of the Christmas tax bill. It's bullshit," adding "P.S. - Kiss Donald for me." (NBC News / AL.com)

  2. Federal prosecutors subpoenaed Deutsche Bank for records related to Jared Kushner's family real estate business. The bank has lent the family hundreds of millions of dollars. (New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

  3. The FBI asked Cyprus for financial information about a defunct bank that was used by wealthy Russians with political connections. The FBI's request appears to be connected to Robert Mueller's ongoing investigation of Paul Manafort and money that flowed between former Soviet states and the US through Cypriot banks. (The Guardian)

  4. Russian submarines have been prowling around undersea data cables that provide internet to North America and Europe. (Washington Post)

  5. Where is Trump’s Cabinet? It's anybody’s guess. (Politico)

  6. What happened to Trump's wall? It's in pieces, in the desert. (Bloomberg)

Day 337: Very intense.

WTF Just Happened Today will be back on Tuesday, December 26th. Until then, join me in the community forum to share and discuss what the fuck is going on. ✌️


1/ The House Intelligence Committee asked Steve Bannon and Corey Lewandowski to testify as part of their investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Both were asked to testify in early January as part of a voluntary, closed-door meeting. The committee hasn't received a response from either Bannon or Lewandowski, yet. (Bloomberg)

2/ Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act into law after cable news networks questioned if he would keep his promise to sign the legislation before Christmas. Trump was initially schedule to sign the bill in early 2018 in order to delay automatic spending cuts and give companies time to adjust to the changes in the new tax code. Instead, Trump called his staff to the Oval Office after seeing the news coverage and said the the legislation needed to be signed "now." (New York Times / Washington Post)

3/ The Koch brothers network will launch a multimillion-dollar push next year to sell the GOP tax bill, with paid advertising and town halls to educate voters. About one-third of the country supports the tax plan. (Politico)

4/ More than 700 people have left the EPA since Trump took office and most are not being replaced. Of the employees who have left, more than 200 are scientists. (New York Times)

5/ Trump has visited his properties more than 100 times this year. His prolonged holiday visit to Mar-A-Lago will mark the 106th day Trump has visited one of his properties as President. (CNN)

6/ A meeting between Trump and his top advisers turned into a heated exchange over the midterm elections. Corey Lewandowski criticized the Republican National Committee and several White House departments for not raising enough money and not doing enough to support Trump's agenda. Later, outside the Oval Office, Lewandowski political director Bill Stepien had a "very intense" conversation about the broader political operation that stretched for 10 minutes. (New York Times / Washington Post)

  • The White House is bracing for a bloodbath in the 2018 midterms, which could eliminate the Republican congressional majorities and stymie Trump's legislative agenda. (Politico)

7/ Trump's deputy chief of staff will leave the administration early next year to pursue private-sector work. Rick Dearborn oversaw the White House's political operation, public outreach, and legislative affairs. (Wall Street Journal)

poll/ 28% of Americans have a positive view of Robert Mueller's investigation compared to 21% who have a negative view, and 15% who have a neutral view. 36% of those polled have no opinion of Mueller yet. (Wall Street Journal)


Notables.

  1. Trump left the White House without holding an end-of-the-year press conference. It's the first time in 15 years that a president has opted not to. (CNN)

  2. The Trump administration is considering separating parents from their children when families are caught entering the country illegally. The move is meant to discourage border crossings, but immigrant groups have called it draconian and inhumane. (New York Times)

  3. Carter Page failed his Ph.D. twice and blamed it on "anti-Russian bias." Examiners called the former Trump foreign policy advisor's thesis "verbose" and "vague." (The Guardian)

  4. Nearly $1.5 million in taxpayers' money has been spent over the past two decades to cover harassment claims across all Senate offices, a report released by the Senate's Rules and Appropriations committee shows. (CBS News)

Day 336: A formula for success.

1/ Nearly 2 million children will lose health coverage if Congress doesn't fund the Children's Health Insurance Program by Friday. CHIP covers 9 million children across the country, but Congress failed to authorize new funding in September. (NBC News)

2/ Current government funding expires at the end of the day Friday. House Republicans are working toward passage of a stripped-down, temporary funding measure to keep the government funded through January 19th. The current plan includes $2.85 billion for the Children's Health Insurance Program, which lapsed in October. (New York Times)

3/ Two measures intended to stabilize the Affordable Care Act markets were kicked to next year after conservatives in the House said they wouldn't support the legislation. The inclusion of the ACA fixes as part of the year-end spending deal was a promise Mitch McConnell made to Susan Collins in order to get her vote on tax reform. (Bloomberg / Politico)

4/ Trump won't sign his "big, beautiful" tax cut before Christmas due to a technical snafu. He will sign the bill on January 3rd so that automatic spending cuts to Medicare and other programs don't take effect. (Bloomberg)

5/ Trump's personal tax cut could save him as much as $15 million a year. Jared Kushner could see his tax burden cut by $12 million, while five other members of Trump's inner circle will see benefits worth as much as $4.5m from changes to the estate tax. (The Guardian)

6/ Democrats tapped a constitutional law expert as their leader on the House Judiciary Committee. Jerry Nadler takes over as the ranking Democrat on the panel following the resignation of John Conyers. The Judiciary Committee would be responsible for initiating impeachment proceedings against Trump if Democrats win back the House in 2018. (Politico / Washington Post)

7/ The White House counsel knew Michael Flynn had probably violated two federal laws in January. Don McGahn learned on December 29, 2016, that Flynn had counseled Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States, not to retaliate against economic sanctions imposed by the Obama administration. McGahn then researched federal laws dealing with lying to federal investigators and negotiating with foreign governments. He also warned Trump about Flynn's possible violations. (Foreign Policy)

  1. January 24th: Flynn lied to the FBI in an interview.

  2. January 27th: Sally Yates told McGahn that Flynn was in a "compromise situation"

  3. January 27th: Trump asked James Comey to pledge his loyalty. He declined.

  4. February 13th: Flynn was fired.

  5. February 14th Trump asked Comey to shutdown the FBI investigation into Flynn.

  6. May 9th: Trump fired Comey.

8/ Jeff Sessions asked the FBI to reexamine evidence in the dormant Uranium One deal. Trump and some Republicans have called the 2010 deal to sell U.S. uranium mining facilities to Russia's state atomic energy company corrupt, because several people involved had contributed millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation. Hillary Clinton, however, wasn't involved in the decision while secretary of state, the State Department official who approved the deal has confirmed. (NBC News)

9/ A secret group of House Republicans has been investigating Justice Department and FBI officials for what they believe is corruption as it relates to the handling of a dossier describing allegations of Trump's ties to the Kremlin. The group hasn't informed Democrats about its plans. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said committee rules require cooperation between Republicans and Democrats, but it requires that Paul Ryan enforce them – that hasn't happened. (Politico)

poll/ 47% of Americans approve of Robert Mueller's handling of the Russia investigation. 56% say Trump's comments on the Russia probe have been mostly or completely false. (CNN)

poll/ Voters prefer Democrats by 10 points on a generic 2018 midterm election ballot. The 44% to 34% preference by voters is the party's largest lead of the year. (Politico)


Notables.

  1. Al Franken will step down on January 2nd following allegations of sexually inappropriate behavior and groping. (Reuters)

  2. The Trump administration has approved the commercial sale of weapons to Ukraine, which will be used by Ukrainian forces fighting a Russian-backed separatist movement. (Washington Post)

  3. The GOP tax bill will open up oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The Congressional Budget Office projects that Alaska and the federal government could make about $1 billion from leases and sales in the area over the next decade. (ABC News)

  4. Russian trolls promoted autocracy and fear during key events in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. They infiltrated the online conversations of millions of Americans on Facebook and Twitter. (NBC News)

  5. The United Nations General Assembly rejected Trump's unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. The General Assembly voted 128 to 9, with 35 abstentions, to demand that the US rescind its December 6th declaration on Jerusalem. (The Guardian)

  6. "Fox & Friends" was named the "most influential" show in media because Trump watches it. Trump congratulated the hosts in a tweet: "You deserve it - three great people! The many Fake News Hate Shows should study your formula for success!" (The Hill)

Day 335: Taking names.

1/ The Republican tax bill passed the Senate in a 51 to 48 vote. No Democrats backed the bill. The House, forced to vote a second time on the $1.5 trillion tax bill, approved it in a 224 to 201 vote. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is expected to head to Trump's desk in the coming days. (New York Times / Washington Post)

2/ Trump claimed the Republican tax bill "essentially repealed Obamacare." The bill eliminates the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate, but Trump said "we didn't want to bring it up" until the legislation had passed. (Bloomberg / Talking Points Memo)

3/ Trump criticized the news media for its "demeaning" coverage of tax reform. "The Tax Cuts are so large and so meaningful, and yet the Fake News is working overtime to follow the lead of their friends, the defeated Dems, and only demean," Trump tweeted, adding: "Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!" (The Hill)

4/ Sarah Huckabee Sanders attributed Trump's low approval rating to the media's coverage of him. The tax bill is Trump's first legislative accomplishment since entering the White House nearly a year ago. Trump's 35% approval rating is a historic low for a president at this point in their first term. (Washington Post)

5/ Donald Trump Jr. suggested that "people at the highest levels of government" have conspired to block his father's agenda, saying they "don't want to let America be America." He added that the investigations into Russian election meddling and his father's campaign are evidence of a "rigged system." Trump Jr. made the comments at a gathering of young conservative activists during an event in West Palm Beach, Florida. (CNN)

6/ Congressional Democrats are stepping back from their pledge to force a vote on DACA by the end of the month. Dozens of Democrats vowed to withhold support for the Republican legislation if the GOP refused to allow a vote on the Dream Act, which would allow roughly 1.2 million immigrants to legally remain in the United States. But a group of Democrats facing reelection in conservative states next year say they aren't willing to hold the line, which means the party will likely be unable to block the spending bill. (Washington Post)

  • John Kelly met with a bipartisan group of senators to lay the groundwork for an immigration deal in January. Congressional Republicans and the White House have long said any DACA deal would need to be paired with security and other enforcement measures. (Politico)

7/ Nikki Haley told the United Nations that Trump would be "taking names" of the countries that vote against his recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. In a letter to several countries – including US allies – Haley warned that "the president will be watching this vote carefully and has requested I report back on those countries who voted against us. We will take note of each and every vote on this issue." (Bloomberg / The Guardian)

poll/ 79% of Americans say they're frequently stressed out and 41% say they lack the time to do what they want. (Gallup)

poll/ 56% of voters say they'll vote for a Democrat in the 2018 midterm election. 38% plan to vote for a Republican. (CNN)

poll/ 36% of Americans say they would vote for Trump in 2020. 38% are dead set on voting against Trump and an additional 14% say they’ll probably vote for the Democrat on the ballot. (NBC News)


Notables.

  1. Use of the "angry" button on Facebook by Democrats more than doubled since the presidential election. (Pew)

  2. Paul Ryan called reports of his retirement greatly exaggerated "rank speculation." It was previously reported that Ryan told confidants that he will not seek another term as speaker and expressed a preference for retiring shortly after next year’s midterm elections. (Politico)

  3. France will ban the production of all oil and gas by 2040. (The Hill)

Day 334: "The single worst piece of legislation."

1/ The House passed tax reform today, but will have to vote again tomorrow after the Senate parliamentarian said three provisions violated the Byrd Rule and would have to be removed from the bill. Senate Republicans plan to vote on the measure tonight with the provisions removed, which would require the House to revote on the measure tomorrow, since both chambers must pass identical bills. The House initially passed the bill in a 227-203 vote with all but 12 Republicans voting for the bill. No Democrats supported it. Trump is expected to sign the Tax Cuts And Jobs Act into law before the end of the week. The bill will add $1.5 trillion to the federal debt over the next decade as it cuts tax rates for corporations, provides new breaks for private businesses, and reorganizes the individual tax code. The legislation also repeals the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate that most Americans buy health insurance coverage or face a fine. (NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post)

  • Tax Bill Calculators: Will Your Taxes Go Up or Down? (New York Times) / Washington Post)

  • What's in the final Republican tax bill. The legislation would cut taxes for corporations. Taxpayers in large part would receive temporary tax cuts that expire after 2025. (New York Times)

  • The GOP tax bill will impact large, high-tax, high-cost-of-living cities most by capping the state and local income and property deductions at $10,000. Capping the benefit will potentially expose residents of those areas to a higher tax liability and reduce their property values. (Politico)

  • Senator Mark Warner called the GOP tax plan "the single worst piece of legislation that I've seen." (CNBC)

2/ The GOP tax bill will lower taxes for 95% of Americans in 2018, but within a decade 53% of Americans will pay more in taxes under the plan with 82.8% of the bill's benefit going to the top 1%. In 2018, the highest earners on average will receive a larger tax cut than those making less. Those earning between $49,000 and $86,000 will receive an average cut of about $900, or roughly 1%. Those earning more than $733,000 would receive a cut of about $51,000, or roughly 6.9%. (Washington Post / Vox)

3/ Trump's new campaign slogan is "How's your 401(k) doing?" More than half of Americans don't have one. (Bloomberg)

4/ Trump considered rescinding Neil Gorsuch's nomination after the Supreme Court pick said he found Trump's repeated attacks on the federal judiciary "disheartening" and "demoralizing." Trump called the report "FAKE NEWS" on Twitter. (Washington Post)

5/ Members of Robert Mueller's team believe their investigation will continue through 2018. White House lawyers were expected to meet with Mueller later this week in hopes of a sign that Mueller's focus on Trump is nearing its end. White House lawyers said they'll cooperate with Mueller despite Trump and his allies have recently accused the Justice Department and FBI of bias and overreach. (Washington Post)

poll/ 55% of Americans oppose the Republican tax reform bill with 66% saying the bill does more to help the wealthy than the middle class. (CNN)

poll/ 23% of Americans say "fake news" is the second more annoying phrase in 2017. "Whatever" was the most annoying phrase. (Marist)

  1. Trump vs Fake News: What you need to know.

Notables.

  1. The Senate Banking Committee rejected Trump's nominee for the Export-Import Bank. Scott Garrett once called the institution "corporate welfare" and tried to have it shut down. (Bloomberg)

  2. Tim Kaine's request for data on Senate sexual harassment claims was rejected. The Office of Compliance said "confidentiality provisions" means that "the OOC does not possess reliable information regarding the number of sexual harassment claims that have been filed or settled." (Politico)

  3. The EPA terminated its contract with a GOP opposition research firm after Senate Democrats said Definers Public Affairs' close ties to the GOP "presents an appearance of impropriety to which you as administrator should never be a party." (The Hill)

  4. Connecticut will close its health care program for low- and middle-income children on January 31st unless Congress provides new federal funding. Congress let the Children's Health Insurance Program lapse in September, which provides insurance for nearly 9 million children nationwide. (The Hill)

  5. The Senate Intelligence Committee is looking at Jill Stein for potential "collusion with the Russians." The Green Party candidate attended a 2015 dinner in Moscow, which was also attended by Michael Flynn. Putin was seated next to Flynn and across the table from Stein. (Washington Post)

  6. Control of the Virginia legislature came down to a single vote with the Republican seat getting flipped Democratic in a 11,608 to 11,607 vote. (Washington Post)

Day 333: Not looking good.

1/ The FBI warned Trump in 2016 that Russia would try to infiltrate his campaign. Both Trump and Hillary Clinton received counterintelligence briefings by senior FBI officials, which advised them to alert the FBI to any "suspicious overtures to their campaigns." Trump was "briefed and warned" at the session about potential espionage threats from Russia. (NBC News)

2/ Robert Mueller obtained "many tens of thousands" of Trump transition emails, including the emails of Jared Kushner and 11 others. The emails came from the General Services Administration, which hosted the transition email system, and include exchanges about potential appointments, gossip about senators, vulnerabilities of Trump nominees, PR strategies, and policy planning. (Axios)

3/ A lawyer from Trump's transition team accused Robert Mueller of unlawfully obtaining the emails in a seven-page letter sent to the House and Senate oversight committees. Kory Langhofer argued that the General Services Administration "unlawfully produced" emails which were subject to attorney-client privilege. Peter Carr, a spokesman from Mueller's office, said: "When we have obtained emails in the course of our ongoing criminal investigation, we have secured either the account owner's consent or appropriate criminal process." (Politico / Axios)

4/ Trump said he is not considering firing Robert Mueller, but that "my people" are "very upset" with how Mueller obtained his transition team's emails and the situation is "not looking good." Congresswoman Jackie Speier, meanwhile, said "rumors" on Capitol Hill suggest Trump plans to fire Mueller on December 22nd, after Congress leaves Washington for the winter recess. (Washington Post / CNN / KQED)

  • The cooperation between Trump's lawyers and Robert Mueller is fracturing. As the investigation has reached deeper into Trump's inner circle, Trump's lawyers and supporters have increased their attacks on Mueller. (New York Times)

5/ Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee are trying to wrap up their Russia probe by the end of the year. Democrats have requested as many as 30 additional interviews with new witnesses, but none have been scheduled beyond the end of this month. Some witnesses are scheduled to be interviewed in New York this week, leaving Democrats to choose between attending those depositions or voting on the tax bill coming before the House. (New York Times / NBC News)

6/ Trump has been telling people close to him that he expects Robert Mueller to clear him soon. His allies, meanwhile, are worried he's not taking the threat of the probe seriously enough. (CNN)

7/ Trump unveiled his "America First" foreign policy, presenting both Russia and China as "revisionist powers" who "want to shape a world antithetical to US values and interests." Trump's strategy has four organizing principles: protect the American homeland, protect American prosperity, preserve peace through strength, and advance US influence. Trump attacked past administrations on immigration, the Iran nuclear deal, the Paris climate accord, trade pacts, and more. (Washington Post / CNN)

8/ The Trump administration ordered the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to stop using "diversity," "fetus," "transgender," "vulnerable," "entitlement," "science-based," and "evidence-based" in their 2018 budget documents. "Certain words" in the CDC's budget drafts have been sent back to the agency for correction. (Washington Post)

9/ Chuck Schumer will force a Senate vote to reinstate the FCC's net neutrality rules. Congress can overturn an agency by invoking the Congressional Review Act with a simple majority vote, without the possibility of a filibuster. The Republican majority will be 51-49 after Alabama Democrat Doug Jones is sworn in. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said she opposes the net neutrality repeal. (Ars Technica)

poll/ 50% of voters prefer a Democratic-controlled Congress, while 39% want Republicans in charge. Democrats hold a 48-point lead in congressional preference among voters under 35 years old (69% to 21%) and a 20-point lead among female voters (54% to 34%). (NBC News)


Notables.

  1. At least four senators are urging Al Franken to reconsider his resignation, saying the calls for his resignation were a rush to judgment. Franken plans to formally resign in early January. (Politico)

  2. Bob Corker hasn't read the GOP tax bill, but denied changing his vote in exchange for a provision slipped into the bill that could personally enrich him. (International Business Times)

  3. Witch Hunt at the EPA: Multiple employees have come under scrutiny after speaking out about the agency. Within a matter of days, requests were submitted for copies of their emails that mentioned either Scott Pruitt or Trump, or any communication with Democrats in Congress that might have been critical of the agency. (New York Times)

  4. Puerto Rico ordered a recount of the number of people who have died because of Hurricane Maria. The official death count is 64. A New York Times review suggests that 1,052 more people died than usual in the 42 days after Maria hit. (New York Times)

  5. A federal appeals judge abruptly retired today after 15 women accused him of inappropriate sexual behavior. (Washington Post)

  6. Trump's judicial nominee withdrew himself from consideration after a video went viral of him failing to answer basic questions about the law during his confirmation hearing. (HuffPost)

  7. Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are being sued over omissions on their public financial disclosure forms. The two failed to identify the assets owned by 30 investment funds they have stakes in. (Politico)

  8. Putin called Trump to thank him for CIA intelligence that allegedly stopped a planned bombing in St. Petersburg. A readout of the conversation said that Trump appreciated the call and "stressed the importance of intelligence cooperation to defeat terrorists wherever they may be." (NBC News)

  9. At least six people were killed after an Amtrak train derailed from a bridge onto Interstate 5 near Olympia, Washington. 77 people were sent to hospitals after 13 cars of the 14-car train jumped the tracks. Trump tweeted that train accident "shows more than ever why our soon to be submitted infrastructure plan must be approved quickly." (Seattle Times)


🔮 Looking ahead.

  1. Congressional Republicans will try to pass both their tax reform bill and a budget plan by Friday in order to avoid a government shutdown. "GOP leaders hope to hold tax votes early in the week before moving to the budget bill. They need Democrats’ help to pass the budget measure through the Senate, and thus far they have made little progress bringing them aboard amid disagreements over spending levels, protection from deportation for certain undocumented immigrants and a federal health insurance program for low-income children." (Washington Post)

Day 330: Shame.

What's in the GOP tax bill.

  1. Top income tax rate drops to 37% from 39.6%

  2. Corporate tax rate cut to 21% from 35%

  3. Eliminates the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate that requires most Americans to buy health insurance or pay a penalty

  4. The estate tax would remain but the exemption from it would be doubled.

  5. The seven individual income tax brackets will remain, but at different rates: 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35% and 37%.

  6. Latest Senate version will cost $1.5 trillion over 10 years

  7. The child tax credit will double

  8. The standard deduction will increase to $12,000 for an individual or $24,000 for a family

  9. The Senate is expected to vote Monday and House is expected to vote Tuesday


1/ Marco Rubio and Bob Corker will vote "yes" on the GOP tax bill, giving Republicans the votes needed to pass the measure in the Senate. Rubio announced his support after Republican leaders agreed to expand the Child Tax Credit for low and middle-income families. Corker called the bill a "once-in-a-generation opportunity." Republicans will release the bill's text today and will vote on it next week. (Politico / New York Times / Washington Post)

2/ Cambridge Analytica handed over employees' emails to Robert Mueller's team as part of the special counsel's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The firm provided the Trump campaign with data, polling, and research services during the race. The emails had previously been voluntarily turned over to the House Intelligence Committee. (Wall Street Journal)

  1. 🇷🇺 What you need to know about the Trump-Russia investigation.

3/ Trump called the FBI a "shame" shortly before speaking at the FBI's National Academy. He told the graduating class of law enforcement managers that he has their "back 100%." Trump promised "to rebuild the FBI" and make it "bigger and better than ever." He called himself a "true friend and loyal champion" of law enforcement – "more loyal than anyone else can be" – but also said "people are very angry" with the FBI and Justice Department. Last week Trump said the FBI was in "tatters." (NPR / Axios)

4/ Trump won't rule out the idea of pardoning Michael Flynn. "I don't want to talk about pardons with Michael Flynn yet," Trump told reporters. "We'll see what happens, let's see." (CNN)

5/ Trump's lawyers will meet with Robert Mueller's team next week. John Dowd and Jay Sekulow are hoping for signs that Mueller's investigation is nearing its end, or at least the part that has to do with Trump. The meeting comes after Mueller's team completed interviews of White House personnel. (CNN)

6/ Jared Kushner's legal team is trying to hire a crisis public relations firm. Kushner's lawyer, Abbe Lowell, has called at least two firms "to handle the time-consuming incoming inquiries on the cases in which I am working that receive media attention." (Washington Post)

7/ Trump spoke with Rupert Murdoch "to make sure [he] wasn't selling Fox News" as part of the Disney deal. He also congratulated Murdoch for the $52.4 billion deal to sell a portion of 21st Century Fox. (CNN / Bloomberg)

8/ One of Trump's judicial nominees struggled to answer basic questions about the law during his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing. Matthew Petersen is a member of the Federal Election Commission and a lawyer with no trial experience. During an uncomfortable five minutes of quizzing on the basics of trial procedure by Senator John Neely Kennedy, Petersen said, "I understand the challenge that would be ahead of me." (Washington Post / NPR)

9/ Funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program lapsed three months ago. CHIP covers 9 million poor and middle-class children with health care. No state has had to kick a child off its CHIP so far, but the Trump administration did send emergency funding to several states to bridge the gaps. (Politico)

9/ A federal judge temporarily blocked Trump's order allowing employers to opt out of providing contraceptive coverage if they have religious or moral objections. Judge Wendy Beetlestone of the Federal District Court in Philadelphia said the rule contradicts the text of the Affordable Care Act. (New York Times)

poll/ 54% of voters think Robert Mueller's "relationship" with James Comey represents a conflict of interest because he is "the former head of the FBI and a friend of James Comey." (Harvard CAPS-Harris)

poll/ 30% of Americans believe the US is heading in the right direction, and 52% think the country is worse off since Trump became president. (Associated Press)


Notables.

  1. The EPA hired an opposition research firm to track and shape press coverage using taxpayer money. Scott Pruitt's office signed the no-bid $120,000 contract with Definers Corp. (Mother Jones)

  2. Betsy DeVos was hit with two lawsuits in one day over the letting more than 50,000 student debt relief claims pile up. (Washington Post)

  3. Trump Jr. called Ajit Pai "Obama's FCC chairman" in a tweet attacking the "outrage" over the agency's repeal of net 'neutality.' Obama appointed Pai to the commission. Trump made him chairman. (USA Today)

  4. A Wall Street Journal op-ed urging "everybody calm down about net neutrality" was written by a former Comcast attorney. (The Intercept)

  5. Internet traffic sent to and from Google, Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft was briefly routed through a previously unknown Russian Internet provider on Wednesday. Researchers called it suspicious and intentional. (Ars Technica)

Day 329: Break the internet.

1/ The FCC voted to repeal net neutrality, which required internet service providers to treat all web traffic equally. The measure passed 3-2 with the Republican appointees supporting repeal and the Democratic appointees opposing. 83% of Americans supported the rules that are in place. Internet providers are now free to speed up services for some apps and websites, while blocking or slowing down others. In Ajit Pai's first 11 months as FCC chairman, he's lifted media ownership limits, eased caps on how much broadband providers can charge business customers, and cut back on a low-income broadband program that was supposed to be expanded. (Washington Post / New York Times)

  • In a letter to FCC chairman Ajit Pai, 18 attorneys general asked the commission to delay the net neutrality vote pending an investigation into fake comments. Of the 22 million public comments filed with the FCC, 94% of them "were submitted multiple times, and in some cases those comments were submitted many hundreds of thousands of times." (The Hill / NPR)

  • The New York attorney general said the net neutrality public comment process was corrupted by more than two million comments that used stolen identities. Eric Schneiderman called on the FCC to delay the vote and cooperate with his investigation into illegal criminal impersonation under New York law. (New York State Office of the Attorney General)

2/ Trump's pick to regulate toxic chemicals at the EPA has withdrawn his nomination due to his ties to the chemical industry. Michael Dourson spent decades conducting research that chemical manufacturers used to downplay the risks of hazardous substances. (NBC News)

3/ Paul Ryan is considering retirement. Three dozen fellow lawmakers, congressional and administration aides, conservative intellectuals and Republican lobbyists all said they believe Ryan will leave Congress after the 2018 midterm elections – and possibly even sooner than that. (Politico)

4/ Marco Rubio will vote against the Republicans' $1.5 trillion tax plan unless it includes a larger expansion of a child tax credit. Republicans control 52 seats in the Senate and need 50 votes in order to pass their bill. Bob Corker already opposes the plan. (Washington Post)

5/ Omarosa Manigault: There "were a lot of things that I observed during the last year that I was very unhappy with" and "made me uncomfortable." The former "Apprentice" contestant reportedly tried to enter the White House residence after a confrontation yesterday with John Kelly, who told her that her employment in the administration would end on January 20th. Manigault was then escorted off the White House grounds. (ABC News)

6/ Trump's daily intelligence briefings are often structured to avoid upsetting him. Russia-related intelligence, specifically, is usually only included in the written assessment and not addressed orally. When it is, the CIA analyst leading the briefing will adjust the presentation's structure in order to soften the impact (Washington Post)

poll/ 53% of voters think Trump should resign over the allegations of sexual harassment. 42% think he should remain in office. 53% of voters believe the women who have accused Trump of harassment compared to 31% who think they aren’t telling the truth. (Public Policy Polling)


Notables.

  1. Congressman Blake Farenthold will not seek re-election following reports that he used taxpayer money to settle a sexual harassment complaint by a former staffer, who was fired after she confronted him about his behavior. (ABC 25)

  2. Kentucky State Rep. Dan Johnson died from a single gunshot wound to the head. He was under investigation for alleged sexual molestation. (WDRB)

  3. A congressional ethics official overseeing the investigations into misconduct by lawmakers is being sued of verbally abusing and physically assaulting women and using his federal position to influence local law enforcement. (Foreign Policy)

  4. Mike Pence delayed his visit to Israel as Congress prepares to vote on tax reform. Republicans hold a 52-48 majority in the Senate and Pence holds the tie-breaking vote. (CNN)

  5. Trump Jr. testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee yesterday, spending nine hours answering questions from the panel. (Reuters)

  6. Lindsey Graham said there is a 30% chance Trump attacks North Korea, because "time is running out." (The Atlantic)

Day 328: "I was right."

1/ Democrat Doug Jones beat Republican Roy Moore in the Alabama U.S. Senate race, buoyed by 96% of the African American vote, which represented 29% of overall voter turnout. Jones won 49.9% of the vote to Moore's 48.4%. The victory cuts the GOP's Senate majority to 51-49. (New York Times / Bloomberg / Washington Post)

2/ Roy Moore hasn't conceded the race, saying he will "wait on God and let this process play out." The Alabama Republican Party said it would not support Moore's push for a recount. Moore trails Jones by more than 20,000 votes. (USA Today / Washington Post)

3/ Trump tweets: "I was right" that Roy Moore would "not be able to win" in Alabama because "the deck was stacked against him!" Trump, however, endorsed Moore after his preferred candidate, Luther Strange, lost in the primary, recording a robocall on Moore's behalf, and holding a campaign-style rally just across the state line in Florida last week. (CNN / Politico / New York Times)

4/ Senate Democrats called on Republicans to wait until Doug Jones is seated to vote on the tax bill. GOP lawmakers expect the two chambers to reach a deal in the coming days with a final vote early next week. The soonest Jones could be seated is December 26th or 27th. The Senate passed the tax bill early this month by a 51 to 49 margin. (Washington Post)

5/ House and Senate Republicans reached an agreement on their joint tax bill. The House and Senate are expected to vote next week. The agreement would set the top individual tax rate at 37%, down from today’s 39.6%. The corporate rate would drop to 21% from 37% and would take effect in 2018, rather than 2019. (New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post)

6/ Trump pulled two of his judicial nominees after the Senate Judiciary Committee said the candidates would not be confirmed. Earlier this week Chuck Grassley urged the White House to withdraw the nominations of Brett Talley, who has never tried a case, and to reconsider Jeff Mateer, who has called transgender children part of "Satan's plan." (Politico / Washington Post)

7/ Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein defended Robert Mueller's investigation during a House Judiciary Committee hearing, saying he hasn't seen "good cause" to fire Mueller. Republicans used the hearing to raise doubts about Mueller's motives after it was discovered that an FBI agent assigned to the investigation sent anti-Trump texts to another FBI official during the Hillary Clinton email investigation. Peter Strzok was removed from the investigation after the texts were discovered. Republicans want a second special counsel to be appointed to investigate how the FBI handled the Clinton investigation. (Bloomberg / CBS News)

  • The Justice Department gave the House Judiciary Committee Peter Strzok's text message conversations with FBI lawyer Lisa Page. Among many other comments, the two called Trump a "a loathsome human," "an idiot," and an "enormous d*uche." (Washington Post)

poll/ 50% of voters think the sexual misconduct allegations against Trump are credible, while 29% don't think they're credible and 21% are not sure if they're credible. (Politico)

poll/ 56% of voters disapprove of Trump's job performance while 32% approve. (Monmouth University)


Notables.

  1. USA Today editorial called Trump unfit to clean toilets in Obama's presidential library. Trump tweeted that "more than 90% of Fake News Media coverage of me is negative." (USA Today)

  2. Trump Jr. asked the House Intelligence Committee to investigate the leaked information from his closed-door interview with the committee last week. (New York Times)

  3. Chuck Schumer was the victim of a fake news hit and turned over to Capitol Police a document purporting sexual harassment accusations by a former staffer. (Axios)

  4. John McCain is in the hospital for treatment related to his cancer therapy. McCain was diagnosed with glioblastoma in July, an aggressive form of brain cancer. (The Hill)

  5. Omarosa Manigault Newman plans to leave the White House next month. (CNN)

  6. The Federal Reserve increased interest rates and raised their forecast for economic growth in 2018. (Bloomberg)

  7. Minnesota governor Mark Dayton appointed Lt. Gov. Tina F. Smith to fill Al Franken's seat in the U.S. Senate. Smith would become the 22nd woman to serve in the Senate. (Washington Post)

Day 327: Sexist smear.

1/ Alabama voters head to the polls today. Republican candidate Roy Moore, supported by Trump, has been accused of pursuing teenage girls while in his mid-30s, with one woman accusing him of sexual assault when she was 14. If Democrat Doug Jones wins, Republicans would have their majority trimmed to 51-49 in the Senate. Polls close today at 8pm ET. (NBC News)

UPDATE:

Democrat Doug Jones won Alabama's special U.S. Senate election, beating Republican Roy Moore and narrowing the GOP advantage in the Senate to 51-49. (Associated Press / New York Times / Washington Post)

  • Live Alabama Election Results. (New York Times)

  • 5 things to watch for in the Alabama Senate election. Doug Jones' chances hinge on African-American turnout and college-educated crossover voters, while Roy Moore is banking on an animated conservative base. (Politico)

  • No one knows what will happen in Alabama. Today's special election is forcing pollsters to confront just about every major challenge in survey research. (New York Times)

2/ Roy Moore's wife argued that her husband is not a bigot because "one of our attorneys is a Jew." At a Monday night campaign rally, Kayla Moore said: "Fake news would tell you that we don't care for Jews. And I tell you all this because I've seen it and I just want to set the record straight while they're here. One of our attorneys is a Jew." Her comments came a week after Roy Moore attacked George Soros, the Jewish liberal mega-donor, saying Soros "is going to the same place that people who don't recognize God and morality and accept his salvation are going." (CNN)

3/ The Alabama Supreme Court blocked a circuit judge's order to preserve voting records from today's special election. On Monday, a circuit judge ordered election officials to set voting machines to save all digital ballot images in order to preserve voting records in the event of a recount. Today, the state's Supreme Court stayed the order, meaning Alabama is allowed to destroy digital voting records. (The Hill / AL.com)

4/ 56 female Democratic lawmakers asked the House Oversight Committee to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct against Trump, who has denied the accusations. "At least 17 women have publicly accused the President of sexual misconduct," the lawmakers wrote in a letter. In response, Trump tweeted that these are "false accusations and fabricated stories of women who I don't know and/or have never met. FAKE NEWS!" (NBC News / Reuters)

  • Videos and photos shows Trump with some of the women who have accused him of sexual misconduct after he said his accusers are "women who I don’t know and/or have never met." (The Hill)

5/ Trump implied that Kirsten Gillibrand would do anything for money in a sexually suggestive tweet in which he called her a "lightweight" and accused her of "begging" for campaign contributions. Gillibrand called Trump's tweet a "sexist smear" meant to silence her and those who have accused him of sexual misconduct, while Elizabeth Warren accused Trump of trying to "slut-shame" the senator. Yesterday, Gillibrand called on Trump to resign. (Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News)

  • A sixth senator called on Trump to resign amid renewed attention to past allegations of sexual harassment and assault. Mazie Hirono called Trump a "misogynist," an "admitted sexual predator," and a "liar" with a "narcissistic need for attention." She said "nobody's safe" from him and the only thing that will stop him is his resignation. (Politico)

  • The list of women who have accused Trump of touching them inappropriately touching or kissing them without their permission. (Washington Post)

6/ Trump was "infuriated" by Nikki Haley's comment that the women who have accused him of sexual harassment "should be heard." Trump has grown increasingly angry that the accusations against him have resurfaced, telling people close to him that the allegations are false. (Associated Press)

7/ Rex Tillerson told diplomats that Russia "interfered in democratic processes here," something Trump continues to call "fake news" intended to delegitimize his presidency. The comment came in a closed-door meeting with US diplomats where Tillerson also praised Trump for trying to focus on "productive engagement" with Russia. (The Daily Beast)

poll/ 83% of voters oppose of the FCC's plan to repeal net neutrality laws, including 75% of Republicans, as well as 89% of Democrats and 86% of independents. (University of Maryland’s Program for Public Consultation)

poll/ 61% of voters think the Senate should expel Roy Moore if he wins the special election in Alabama, including 77% of Democrats, 59% of independents, and 45% of Republicans. (Politico)

poll/ 58% of Americans believe the level of government corruption has risen in the past 12 months. 44% now believe that most or all of the officials in the White House are corrupt – up from 36% last year. (Newsweek)

poll/ 57% of Americans disapprove of Trump's job performance, compared to 37% who approve. (Quinnipiac)


Notables.

  1. Sean Spicer is writing a book to "set the record straight" about what he says happened during the 2016 election, transition and his time serving in the administration. (CNN)

  2. Trump's lawyers want a second special counsel appointed, because they believe the Justice Department and the FBI are to blame for the "witch hunt" – not Robert Mueller and his investigation. (Axios)

  3. Trump's legal team is trying to protect him from Robert Mueller's "killers" in the Russia probe, while facing criticism that they are outmatched. (Washington Post)

  4. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman asked Trump to rethink two of his judicial nominees. Chuck Grassley advised the White House to "reconsider" the nomination of Jeff Mateer and said they "should not proceed" on the nomination of Brett Talley. (CNN)

  5. The Trump administration will let Assad stay until Syria's next Presidential election in 2021, reversing the US stance that Assad must step down as part of a peace process. (The New Yorker)

  6. The House and Senate could reconcile their tax bills this week. An announcement could come as soon as today or Wednesday. The conference committee is scheduled to meet Wednesday at 2pm. (Washington Post)

Day 326: Heard.

1/ Three women who previously accused Trump of sexual harassment called for Congress to investigate the allegations. Jessica Leeds, Samantha Holvey, and Rachel Crooks said that "a non-partisan investigation is important not just for him but for anybody that has allegations against them, this isn't a partisan issue, this is how women are treated everyday." The White House called the accusations false and "totally disputed in most cases," adding that "the timing and absurdity of these false claims speak volumes." (CBS News / Washington Post / USA Today)

  • How Trump came around to support an accused child molester: He doesn't believe the claims leveled by Roy Moore's accusers. Who were these women, he asked, and why had they kept quiet for 40 years only to level charges weeks before an election? (Politico)

2/ Nikki Haley: The women who've accused Trump of sexual harassment "should be heard," breaking from the administration's assertion that the allegations are false. The US ambassador to the United Nations argued that Trump's accusers should be treated no differently than the other women who have come forward recently with stories of sexual harassment and misconduct against other men. (New York Times)

3/ Democratic senators called for Trump's resignation over sexual harassment and assault accusations against him. Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, and Jeff Merkley suggested that the standard that brought down Al Franken should be applied to Trump. Kirsten Gillibrand added: "Trump has committed assault" and "he should be fully investigated and he should resign." (Washington Post / CNN)

4/ Obama called on Alabama voters to reject Roy Moore. "This one's serious," Obama said in a recorded message intended for black voters whose turnout is critical for Democratic candidate Doug Jones. "You can't sit it out." Multiple women have accused Moore of pursuing relationships with them when they were teenagers while he was in his 30s, and one woman has accused him of sexual assault. (CNN)

  • A Nebraska Republican National Committeewoman resigned in protest of the committee's financial support for Roy Moore. (Politico)

5/ Adam Schiff called the evidence of coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia is "pretty damning." The ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee said: "The Russians offered help. The campaign accepted help. The Russians gave help. And the president made full use of that help." (The Hill)

6/ Robert Mueller's investigators are focused on an 18-day timeline related to possible obstruction of justice by Trump. Sally Yates testified that she told White House Counsel Don McGahn on January 26th that Michael Flynn had lied to senior members of the Trump team about his conversations with Russia's ambassador, Sergey Kislyak. Possible obstruction of justice hinges on when Trump knew about Flynn's conversations with Russia's ambassador during the transition and when he learned that Flynn had lied about those conversations to the FBI. Trump fired Flynn on February 13th, saying he did so because he had misled Pence. Mueller is trying to determine why Flynn remained in his job for 18 days after Trump learned of Yates' warning, and is interested in whether Trump directed him to lie to senior officials. (NBC News)

  • Steve Bannon's name has surfaced a handful of times in the special counsel and congressional investigations of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Bannon was a key bystander when Trump decided to fire Michael Flynn, and was among those who Trump consulted before firing James Comey. (Politico)

7/ The Treasury Department admits the GOP tax plan won't pay for itself through increased economic growth. The one-page analysis says "a combination of regulatory reform, infrastructure development, and welfare reform" is needed to offset the cost of the tax plan. (Politico / Axios)

poll/ 50% of Alabama voters support Democrat Doug Jones. 40% support Roy Moore. (Fox News)

poll/ 32% of Americans support the GOP tax plan - the lowest level of public support for any major piece of legislation enacted in the past three decades. 53% say it won't help the economy in a major way. (USA Today)


Notables.

  1. Four people were injured in an explosion in the passageway connecting the Times Square and Port Authority subway stations. A suspect is in custody. Mayor Bill de Blasio called the blast an "attempted terrorist attack." (New York Times)

  2. The Supreme Court refused to hear a case challenging sex discrimination protections in employment and whether they extend to sexual orientation. (The Hill)

  3. A federal judge denied Trump's request to delay accepting transgender recruits, who will now be able to enlist by January 1st. (Washington Post)

  4. Police shoot Americans more than twice as often as previously known, according to data from the 50 largest local police departments. (Vice News)

  5. Putin ordered the partial withdrawal of Russian troops from Syria. Putin made a similar withdrawal announcement last year, but Russian military operations continued. (BBC)

  6. Inside Trump's battle for self-preservation. tl;dr Twitter, cable news, and a dozen Diet Cokes. (New York Times)

  7. The Trump administration is taking credit for killing 469 regulatory actions. 42% were already dead. (Bloomberg)

  8. Macron will award US climate scientists with "Make Our Planet Great Again" grants to conduct research in France for the remainder of Trump's current presidential term, totaling about $70 million. (ABC News)

Day 323: Puppet.

1/ Trump, Trump Jr., and members of the Trump Organization received an email during the campaign with the decryption key needed to open the hacked DNC documents that WikiLeaks had posted two months earlier. WikiLeaks contacted Trump Jr. directly on Twitter about the campaign a few weeks after the September 14th email was sent by somebody named Mike Erickson. WikiLeaks began leaking the contents of John Podesta's hacked emails a month later. Trump Jr. told investigators he had no recollection of the email. (CNN / Washington Post)

2/ Russian operatives tried to make contact with Hope Hicks at least twice since Trump took office and after US intelligence agencies publicly accused Moscow of trying to influence the presidential election. Hicks is one of Trump's top advisers and there is no evidence that Hicks did anything wrong. The FBI gave Hicks the names of the Russians who had contacted her, and said that they were not who they claimed to be. Hicks met with Robert Mueller's investigators this week as part of the investigation into Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 election. (New York Times)

3/ Trump offered a second endorsement of Roy Moore, the Republican Senate candidate accused of sexual assault and misconduct by several women. Trump tweeted that Alabama voters should keep the Senate seat under GOP control and away from Democrat Doug Jones, a "Pelosi/Schumer puppet." Moore has a history of saying controversial things. He's argued that slavery was the last time America was great and that homosexuality should be illegal; he also doesn't believe that Obama was born in the United States, and he blames drive-by shootings on teaching evolution. (Politico / Washington Post)

4/ Arizona Rep. Trent Franks allegedly approached two female staffers about acting as a potential pregnancy surrogate. Aides, however, were concerned that Franks was asking about impregnating them through sexual intercourse, rather than through in vitro fertilization. One woman said she was the subject of retribution after rebuffing Franks and that he allegedly offered her $5 million to act as a surrogate. The eight-term Arizona lawmaker abruptly resigned today after Paul Ryan told Franks that he would refer the allegations to the Ethics Committee. (Politico / Associated Press)

5/ Trump won't speak at the opening of the Civil Rights Museum after civil rights leaders said they would boycott the event in Jackson, Mississippi because of the president's participation. (NBC News)

6/ Trump's deputy national security adviser plans to leave the White House after the president's first year in office. Dina Powell has been behind the Trump administration's Middle East policy and is leaving on her own terms. Powell will continue to advise the administration on Middle East policy from outside the government. National security adviser H.R. McMaster called Powell "one of the most talented and effective leaders with whom I have ever served." (Washington Post)

7/ Susan Collins could change her vote on the final version of the GOP tax reform bill if the Senate doesn't pass a pair of bills to stabilize the Affordable Care Act's health insurance markets and resuming cost-sharing subsidy payments to insurers, which Trump stopped in October. Mitch McConnell made Collins an "ironclad commitment" in exchange for her initial vote. House Republicans, however, have signaled that they don't intend to take up health care before the end of the year. Additionally, Collins added two amendments to the Senate bill that would allow taxpayers to deduct property taxes and lower the threshold for tax deductions for medical expenses, which House Republicans had previously voted to eliminate entirely. (Politico / The Hill)

poll/ 32% of the Americans approve of the way Trump is handling his job as president, while 63% disapprove. (Pew Research Center)


Notables.

  1. The American economy added 228,000 jobs last month. Unemployment remained unchanged at 4.1%. (New York Times)

  2. Trump didn't invite Democratic lawmakers to the White House Hanukkah party, injecting a partisan tinge into a normally bipartisan celebration. (New York Times)

  3. Trump withdrew an Obama-era proposal requiring airlines and ticket agencies to disclose baggage fees as soon as passengers start the process of buying a ticket. (The Hill)

  4. The official death toll in Puerto Rico is 62, but the actual deaths may be as high as 1,052. (New York Times)

  5. Moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem "is not something that is going to happen this year, probably not next year," Rex Tillerson said. (CNN)

  6. The Justice Department investigating Planned Parenthood for the transfer of fetal tissue, picking up where several Republican-led inquiries in Congress had dropped off last year. (New York Times)

Day 322: Making a deal.

1/ Trump Jr. cited attorney-client privilege and refused to discuss a phone call he had with his father about how to handle the fallout from his June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer. He told the House Intelligence Committee that a lawyer was in the room during the call. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the committee, told reporters: "I don't believe you can shield communications between individuals merely by having an attorney present," adding "that's not the purpose of attorney-client privilege" and that "the presence of counsel does not make communications between father and son a privilege." (Politico / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

Background

Trump Jr.'s initial response was that the meeting focused on the issue of adoption. It was later revealed that Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort also attended the meeting after receiving an email stating that a Russian government lawyer would provide incriminating facts about Hillary Clinton as "part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump." No damaging information was delivered.

2/ World leaders called Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel a "dangerous" and an "irresponsible and unwarranted step." White House officials acknowledged that the move could temporarily derail the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Several advisers said Trump didn't seem to have a full understanding of the issue and was focused on simply "seeming pro-Israel" and "making a deal." Israel, meanwhile, thanked Trump for his "courageous and just" decision. (NBC News / CNN / Washington Post)

3/ The House passed a two-week stopgap spending bill. The measure would fund the government through December 22nd, but still needs to be approved by the Senate and Trump by Friday at midnight in order to avoid a government shutdown. The legislation passed in a 235-193 vote. Fourteen Democrats voted for the measure and 18 Republicans voted "no." (New York Times / Politico)

4/ Al Franken announced his resignation from the Senate. The announcement comes a day after nearly all of the Senate's Democratic women called for Franken to resign following the report of a sixth woman who charged that he had made an improper advance. Franken told colleagues: "I of all people am aware that there is some irony in the fact that I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office, and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party." (New York Times / Washington Post)

  • Paul Ryan called on Roy Moore to drop out of Alabama US Senate race over allegations of sexual assault and misconduct. (The Hill)

  • Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump treats women with the "highest level of respect" after Al Franken said it's ironic that he is resigning from the Senate while Trump has "bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault" yet remains in office. (The Hill)

poll/ 70% of Americans think Congress should investigate sexual harassment allegations against Trump. 63% disapprove of the way Trump is handling sexual harassment and sexual assault. (Quinnipiac)

poll/ 59% of Americans think the Trump team "definitely" or "probably" had improper contacts with Russia during last year's presidential campaign. 56% are very or somewhat confident Robert Mueller will conduct his probe fairly. (Pew Research Center)

poll/ 53% of Americans disapprove of the Republican tax plan, 41% expect their taxes to go up, and most expect businesses (76%) and wealthy Americans (69%) to benefit the most. 64% of Republicans think the GOP tax plan shows that Trump is keeping a campaign promise. (CBS News)


Notables.

  1. FBI Director Christopher Wray defended the bureau's integrity during his House Judiciary Committee testimony three days after Trump tweeted that the bureau’s reputation is "in tatters." (Washington Post / Politico)

  2. The British publicist who arranged the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting encouraged Dan Scavino to make a page for candidate Trump on the Russian social networking site VK, telling him that "Don and Paul" were on board with the idea. Don and Paul, of course, refer to Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort. The previously undisclosed emails from Rob Goldstone to a Russian participant and a member of Trump's inner circle later that summer raise new questions for congressional investigators about what was discussed at the meeting. Scavino is now the White House director of social media. (CNN)

  3. The House approved a bill that would ease restrictions on carrying concealed firearms across state lines. The bill, which was supported by the National Rifle Association, now goes to the Senate, where it is likely to encounter a much tougher battle. (NPR)

  4. Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee put KT McFarland's nomination on hold until she answers questions about her knowledge of communications between Michael Flynn and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. (CNN)

  5. Devin Nunes met with Blackwater founder Erik Prince earlier this year despite his recusal from the Russia probe. Nunes discussed with Prince the House Intelligence Committee's investigation into the unmasking of Americans' identities in intelligence reports. (Business Insider)

  6. Representative Trent Franks is expected to resign from Congress. It's unclear why Franks is stepping down, but one Arizona Republican said there had been rumors of inappropriate behavior. (Roll Call)

  7. The Senate voted to begin the process of reconciling its tax bill with the House version, though several big issues, including the size of the corporate tax cut, remain. (New York Times)

  8. Trump will undergo a physical examination early next year and allow doctors to release details of his medical evaluation. (CNN)

Day 321: Good to go.

1/ Michael Flynn promised that sanctions against Russia would be "ripped up" as one of the Trump administration's first acts, according to a whistleblower. Flynn worked with Russia until June 2016 on a business venture to build nuclear power plants in the Middle East. Ending the sanctions would have allowed the project to move forward. During Trump's inaugural address, Flynn sent the whistleblower a text message directing him to tell those involved in the nuclear project to continue developing their plans and that the project was "good to go." The whistleblower approached the House Oversight Committee in June, but Robert Mueller's investigators asked him to "hold on the public release of this information until they completed certain investigative steps." (New York Times / Politico / CNN)

2/ Trump Jr. met with the House Intelligence Committee behind closed doors today. He told the committee that he spoke with Hope Hicks – not his father – about how to respond to news reports of his June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower. While aboard Air Force One, Trump helped write Trump Jr.'s initial response, which was sent through the Trump Organization under Trump Jr.'s name. The voluntary appearance is Trump Jr.'s first face-to-face meeting with Congress since Robert Mueller charged Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, George Papadopoulos, and Rick Gates. Trump Jr. met with the Senate Judiciary Committee in September. He is expected to meet with the Senate Intelligence Committee soon, although a date has not been set. (CNN / Bloomberg / ABC News)

3/ Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya told the Senate Judiciary Committee that Trump Jr. asked her for evidence of illegal donations to the Clinton Foundation during the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower. Veselnitskaya said she told Trump Jr. that she didn't have any meaningful information about the Clintons, at which point Trump Jr. lost interest and the meeting fizzled out. Veselnitskaya said that she wasn't working for the Russian government and that her motivation for contacting the Trump campaign was to convince them to reexamine the incident that led to the Magnitsky Act. (NBC News)

4/ Trump's voter fraud commission wants to create a centralized voter database. The commission intends to aggregate the names, addresses, party affiliation, and partial social security numbers of millions of American voters in a central location, which more than a half-dozen technology experts and former national security officials say could become a target for hackers. Rules defining who can access the database and how it should be protected have not been established. (Washington Post)

5/ The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reversed its position on a nearly concluded case less than 48 hours after Mick Mulvaney was named acting director. Lawyers withdrew their earlier brief and said they would no longer take a position on whether Nationwide should pay $8 million in penalties for misleading more than 100,000 mortgage customers. Mulvaney has also stopped approval of some payments to some victims of financial crime, halted hiring, and ordered a review of active investigations and lawsuits. (New York Times)

6/ The wealthiest 1% of American households own 40% of the country's total wealth, up nearly three percentage points since 2013 and the highest percentage since 1962. As a result, the top 1% of households now own more wealth than the bottom 90% combined. (Washington Post)

7/ Trump said a government shutdown "could happen," blaming Democrats for derailing the budget process. Democrats are vowing to vote against spending legislation if it doesn't address so-called "Dreamers," who may lose their ability to live and work in the US after Trump's decision to end DACA. They also want the spending bill to include parity for defense and non-defense programs. The House Freedom Caucus, meanwhile, said they won't support the funding bill if it includes increases in non-defense spending or deportation relief for Dreamers. The government is scheduled to run out of funding on Friday. (Politico / The Hill / Business Insider)

poll/ 63% of voters want Congress to avoid shutting down the federal government in order to enact policy changes. 18% of voters said members of Congress should allow a temporary government shutdown if it helps them achieve their policy goals. (Politico)


Notables.

  1. A House vote to impeach Trump overwhelmingly failed as Democrats joined Republicans in a 364-58 vote to sideline the measure. (Politico)

  2. Experts find the GOP tax plan riddled with bugs, loopholes, and other potential problems. Some provisions are so vaguely written that one expert asked, "holy crap, what's this?" (Politico)

  3. The Senate confirmed Kirstjen Nielsen as the next secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Nielsen was previously John Kelly's chief of staff at DHS. (Washington Post)

  4. Illegal border crossings along the Mexico border drop to their lowest level in 46 years. Border agents made 310,531 arrests, a decline of 24% from the previous year and the fewest overall since 1971. (Washington Post)

  5. The Supreme Court appeared divided over a Colorado baker's refusal to design a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. Justice Kennedy will likely cast the deciding vote. (USA Today)

  6. Germany's acting foreign minister said relations between the US and Germany "will never be the same" after Trump and that the Trump administration looks at Europe as a "competitor or economic rival" instead of as an ally. (New York Times)

  7. Britain's intelligence agency MI5 foiled a terrorist plot to assassinate Prime Minister Theresa May. Two men have been charged in connection with a plot to use improvised explosives to blow up the gate to the prime minister's residence and kill May in the chaos. (NPR)

  8. Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, reversing nearly seven decades of American foreign policy. The US Embassy in Tel Aviv will move to Jerusalem. (New York Times)

  9. Kellyanne Conway defended Trump's endorsement of Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, saying "president has tremendous moral standards." (The Hill)

  10. Senate Democrats called on Al Franken to resign amid more allegations of sexual harassment after a sixth woman came forward to charge that the Minnesota Democrat had sexually harassed her. (Washington Post / New York Times)

Day 320: Willingness to comply.

1/ Robert Mueller issued a subpoena for Trump's banking records. The move forced Deutsche Bank – Trump's biggest lender – to turn over documents related to certain credit transactions and the $300 million Trump owes the lender. Legal experts said it showed Mueller was "following the money" in search of links between the campaign and the Kremlin since Deutsche Bank may have sold some of Trump’s mortgage or loans to Russian-owned banks, which could potentially give Russia leverage over Trump. Jay Sekulow, one of Trump's personal lawyers, denied that a subpoena had been issued. (The Guardian / Bloomberg / Reuters)

  • Trump Jr. asked if the Russian lawyer had evidence of illegal donations to the Clinton Foundation during the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting. Natalia Veselnitskaya told the Senate Judiciary Committee that Trump Jr. lost interest after she said she did not have meaningful information about Clinton. (NBC News)

2/ Paul Manafort was ghostwriting an op-ed with a longtime colleague "based in Russia and assessed to have ties to a Russian intelligence service" while out on bail last month. The editorial was related to Manafort's political work for Ukraine. Robert Mueller's investigators argue that Manafort's $10 million unsecured bail agreement should be revisited because it was written while he was on house arrest facing several felony charges, which would have violated a court order to not publicly discuss the case and "casts doubt on Manafort’s willingness to comply with court orders." If the court sides with Mueller, Manafort could remain under house arrest until his trial sometime next year. (New York Times / The Guardian / Washington Post / Associated Press)

3/ Trump's former deputy national security advisor may have contradicted herself during Senate testimony about Michael Flynn's contacts with then-Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. In July, K.T. McFarland told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that she did not discuss or have any knowledge of Flynn's contact with Kislyak. A December 29th email exchange, however, shows McFarland wrote a colleague that Flynn would be speaking with Kislyak later that day. (New York Times)

4/ House Republicans are prepared to block the legislative promises Mitch McConnell made to Susan Collins and Jeff Flake in exchange for their votes on the Senate bill. Collins and Flake were assured the Senate would consider legislation to offset the negative effects from repealing the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate, as well as permanent protections for so-called "Dreamers." A conservative bloc in the House sharply opposes both measures. (The Daily Beast)

  • Senate Republicans accidentally stripped from their tax bill research and development tax credits companies use to encourage innovation. The change gave money for lawmakers' other priorities, but could force many companies to lose tax breaks the bill's authors intended to protect. (Wall Street Journal)

5/ Trump is considering plans to create a global, private spy network to circumvent the US intelligence agencies to counter the alleged "deep state" in the intelligence community, which he believes is attempting to undermine his presidency. Blackwater founder Erik Prince and a retired CIA officer submitted proposals to CIA Director Mike Pompeo and the White House to utilize an army of spies that report directly Trump and Pompeo. The intelligence gathered would not be shared with the rest of the CIA or the larger intelligence community. (The Intercept / BuzzFeed News)

6/ The Republican National Committee resumed its financial support of Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore after Trump endorsed Moore yesterday. The RNC initially cut ties with Moore after at least five women accused him of sexual assault and unwanted sexual advances as teenage girls decades ago. A senior RNC official said: "The RNC is the political arm of the president and we support the President." (CNN)

poll/ Roy Moore trails Doug Jones by 4 points in the Alabama U.S. Senate race. 44% of voters support Moore, while 48% support Jones. (The Hill)

poll/ 64% of Americans believe the Republican tax plan will benefit the wealthy the most and 53% disapprove of the plan. 61% say the tax plan favors the rich at the expense of the middle class. (Quinnipiac)

poll/ 31% of Republicans want somebody other than Trump to be the GOP nominee in the next presidential election, while 63% are content with Trump running for reelection. (NBC News)

poll/ 15% of Americans say they approve of Trump and that "there is almost nothing he could do to lose their support." 33%, meanwhile, say that they disapprove of Trump and that "there is almost nothing he could do to win their support." (NPR)


Notables.

  1. Representative John Conyers will retire from Congress today amid allegations of sexual misconduct leveled by multiple women. (NPR)

  2. Obama had three of the top 10 most retweeted posts of 2017. None of Trump’s tweets from 2017 were among the top 10 most retweeted. (Politico)

  3. Pence's aides maintain he doesn't know anything about Russia and the Trump campaign. (Politico)

  4. Robert Mueller's Russia investigation has cost at least $3.2 million so far. Other Justice Department agencies spent an additional $3.5 million to support the investigation. (USA Today)

  5. FEMA employees who worked too much may have to repay some of their overtime. FEMA said the year of hurricanes, wildfires, and other disasters may force it to claw back employee compensation when it hits an annual pay cap. (Bloomberg)

  6. Patagonia will sue Trump for shrinking two national monuments in Utah, saying "the president stole your land." (CNN Money)

  7. Germany sees Trump as a bigger challenge than North Korea or Russia. (Reuters)

  8. Trump will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, despite Arab and European leaders warning that the move could derail the security and stability in the region. (New York Times)

Day 319: Tatters.

1/ Trump tweeted that he fired Michael Flynn because he lied to the FBI about his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the presidential transition last December. "I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. He has pled guilty to those lies," Trump tweeted. (New York Times)

2/ Legal experts said Trump's tweet is a public admission that he knew Michael Flynn had lied to the FBI, which is possible motivation to obstruct justice. In January, White House counsel Donald McGahn told Trump he believed then-national security adviser Flynn had misled the FBI and lied to Pence, and should be fired. Trump ultimately fired Flynn on February 13th. A day later, Trump asked if then-FBI Director James Comey could see "his way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go," according to notes Comey kept. Trump then fired Comey in May. (Politico / CNN / Washington Post)

  1. Catch up quick: Everything you need to know about the Trump-Russia investigation.
  • Emails dispute White House claims that Michael Flynn acted independently in his discussions with Russia during the presidential transition and then lied to his colleagues about the interactions. (New York Times)

  • A conservative operative offered the Trump campaign a "Kremlin Connect" by using an NRA convention to make "first contact." Russia, Paul Erickson wrote, was "quietly but actively seeking a dialogue with the U.S." (New York Times)

3/ Trump's lawyer said he wrote the tweet about firing Flynn. John Dowd said he gave the "sloppy" tweet draft to Trump's social media director Dan Scavino. The White House has insisted that Trump's tweets should be taken as official statements. (ABC News)

4/ John Dowd claimed Trump "cannot obstruct justice," because he's responsible for the enforcement of the laws created by Congress and "has every right to express his view of any case." Dowd added: "The tweet did not admit obstruction. That is an ignorant and arrogant assertion." In 1999, Senator Jeff Sessions argued that Bill Clinton obstructed justice and should be impeached amid the investigation into his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. (Axios) / Politico)

5/ The Senate Judiciary Committee is building an obstruction of justice case, according to Dianne Feinstein, the panel's top Democrat. "I see it in the hyper-frenetic attitude of the White House, the comments every day, the continual tweets," Feinstein said. "And I see it most importantly in what happened with the firing of Director [James] Comey, and it is my belief that that is directly because he did not agree to ‘lift the cloud’ of the Russia investigation. That’s obstruction of justice." (NBC News)

6/ Robert Mueller removed his top FBI agent this summer for sending anti-Trump text messages. During the presidential campaign, Peter Strzok and another member of Mueller's team had exchanged texts disparaging Trump and supporting Hillary Clinton. At the time, Strzok was investigating Clinton's use of a private email server. Strzok left the Russia investigation in August. (New York Times / Washington Post)

7/ Trump tweeted that the FBI's reputation is "in tatters" and its standing was now the "worst in history." The tweet: "After years of Comey, with the phony and dishonest Clinton investigation (and more), running the FBI, its reputation is in Tatters - worst in History! But fear not, we will bring it back to greatness." The head of FBI Agents Association said any suggestion that agents aren't dedicated to their jobs, "unwavering integrity and professionalism" is "simply false." (New York Times / The Hill)

  • Republicans are drafting a contempt of Congress resolution against Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray, claiming they're stonewalling the House Intelligence Committee in producing material related to the Russia-Trump probe and other matters. (Bloomberg)

8/ The Russia investigation is "wearing" on the White House and "everyone thinks they're being recorded." Michael Flynn's plea is the closest that Robert Mueller's probe into Russian meddling and collusion has come to the Oval Office. Flynn's plea deal includes an agreement that he could avoid a potential lengthy jail term in part by "participating in covert law enforcement activities." (CNN / Politico)

9/ Senate Republicans passed a $1.5 trillion tax bill – the most sweeping tax rewrite in decades – early Saturday in a 51 to 49 vote. The nearly 500-page bill, which included several pages of handwritten changes, will lower the corporate tax rate from 35% to 20%, temporarily cut tax rates for families and individuals until 2025, and repeals the individual mandate from the Affordable Care Act. The Senate and the House now have to reconcile the differences in their two bills through a conference committee. Mitch McConnell called it "a great day for the country." (Washington Post / Politico / New York Times)

10/ Trump endorsed Roy Moore, the Republican Senate candidate in Alabama accused of inappropriate sexual relations with underage girls. Trump called Moore a "fighter," and wrapped up the call by saying, "go get 'em, Roy!" (CNN / New York Times)

11/ The US Supreme Court allowed the latest version of Trump's travel ban to take effect while legal challenges go forward. Trump will now be able to prevent people from six mostly Muslim countries from entering the US. It's the first time the Supreme Court has let Trump's travel ban take full effect. (Bloomberg / CNN)

  1. Catch up quick: Everything you need to know about Trump's travel ban.

Notables.

  1. Trump finds loopholes in John Kelly's regime. (Wall Street Journal)

  2. Despite agreeing not to engage in any new foreign deals, the Trump Organization plans to build a Trump-branded luxury resort development in Indonesia. (McClatchy DC)

  3. Trump wants the 83-year-old Orrin Hatch to run for reelection in an effort to block Mitt Romney from the Senate. (Politico)

  4. Trump reduced Bears Ears National Monument by 85% and shrunk Grand Staircase-Escalante by 46%. The land could potentially be leased for energy exploration, opened up to cars, and more. No president has tried to modify monuments established under the 1906 Antiquities Act in more than half a century. (Washington Post / New York Times)

  5. Jared Kushner failed to disclose he was the co-director of a foundation that illegally funded an Israeli settlement while pushing Michael Flynn to sway a United Nations Security Council vote condemning the settlements. (Newsweek)

  6. Billy Bush reminded Trump that it was his voice on the "Access Hollywood" tape where he said he like to "Grab 'em by the pussy." (New York Times)

  7. poll/ 71% of Alabama Republicans say the allegations against Roy Moore are false. (CBS News)

Day 316: Full cooperation.

1/ Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about conversations he had with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the presidential transition last December. Flynn is the fourth Trump associate to be charged in Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. (New York Times)

2/ Flynn promised "full cooperation" with Mueller's investigation and is prepared to testify that Trump directed him to make contact with the Russians. The FBI said Flynn communicated with Sergey Kislyak, then the Russian ambassador to the US, after being asked by a senior Trump transition official to find out where foreign governments stood on an upcoming UN Security Council resolution about Israel. The FBI did not name the officials. (ABC News / CNN)

3/ Jared Kushner was the "very senior" Trump official who directed Michael Flynn to contact the Russian ambassador and several other foreign governments. Abbe Lowell, Kusher’s attorney, declined to comment. (Washington Post / CNN)

  • Former Deputy National Security Adviser KT McFarland is one of the unnamed senior official referred to in the court papers filed in the Michael Flynn case. She was involved in a discussion with Flynn about what he would say to Russian government officials in response to U.S. sanctions imposed on Russia last year. (Associated Press)

4/ Trump lobbied several Senate Republicans over the summer "to wrap up" the Russia investigation. The chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Richard Burr, said Trump made a request "something along the lines of 'I hope you can conclude this as quickly as possible.'" Trump also approached Senator Roy Blunt, who sits on the committee, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell with requests to end the investigations. Trump has now asked at least seven officials in both houses of Congress and the Department of Justice to end the multiple investigations. The White House said Trump "at no point has attempted to apply undue influence on committee members." (New York Times / Newsweek)

5/ Senate Republicans said they have the votes needed to pass their tax bill. Holdouts Steve Daines, Ron Johnson, Jeff Flake, and Susan Collins all said they will support the bill. "We have the votes," Mitch McConnell told reporters after meeting with his caucus. (Washington Post / Politico / New York Times)

  • Bob Corker will oppose the GOP tax plan, making him the only Republican senator expected to vote no. "This is yet another tough vote. I am disappointed. I wanted to get to yes. But at the end of the day, I am not able to cast aside my fiscal concerns and vote for legislation that I believe, based on the information I currently have, could deepen the debt burden on future generations," Corker said in a statement. (The Hill)

6/ The Treasury's inspector general is investigating whether Steve Mnuchin hid an analysis of the Republican tax bill — or if the Treasury Department even did one. Mnuchin has said economic growth from the bill’s large tax cuts would offset lost revenue and indicated his department would produce an analysis proving it. No report has been released. (Los Angeles Times / Bloomberg)

7/ Republicans intend to cut spending on Social Security and Medicare after tax reform. Paul Ryan said he wants Republicans to focus on reducing spending on government programs and, last month, Trump said welfare reform will "take place right after taxes, very soon, very shortly after taxes." Marco Rubio said this week that "You also have to bring spending under control," adding that "the driver of our debt is the structure of Social Security and Medicare for future beneficiaries." During the presidential campaign, Trump vowed that there would be "no cuts" to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. (Washington Post)

8/ Trump said a government shutdown could be good for him politically if Congress doesn't pass a short-term spending bill by the December 8th deadline. Trump wants to blame Democrats and use the shutdown to get money for his border wall. (Washington Post)

9/ Rex Tillerson called reports that the White House wants him to resign "laughable." Trump called the reports that he is planning to fire Tillerson "fake news" and that "I call the final shots." (New York Times)

Day 315: Rexit.

1/ The White House plans to force Secretary of State Rex Tillerson out and replace him with Mike Pompeo, the current CIA director, at the end of the year. Pompeo would be replaced by Senator Tom Cotton. It's unclear if Trump has signed off on the plan, which was devised by John Kelly. (New York Times / Washington Post)

2/ Jeff Sessions tapped Kellyanne Conway to oversee the White House's response to the opioid crisis. The Justice Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) also announced $12 million in grants to combat the epidemic, which Sessions considers "the worst drug crisis in American history." (CBS News / BuzzFeed News)

3/ Robert Mueller's team questioned Jared Kushner about Michael Flynn earlier this month. The 90-minute conversation was aimed at establishing whether Kushner had any information that could exonerate Flynn. (CNN / New York Times)

4/ Paul Manafort reached an $11 million bail agreement with Robert Mueller's team, clearing the way for Manafort to be released from house arrest. The deal involves Manafort pledging a Virginia condominium, Florida home, a condo in Manhattan, and another property in Bridgehampton, New York. (Politico)

5/ Jeff Sessions declined to say if Trump ever asked him to obstruct the Russia investigation when questioned today during his House Intelligence Committee testimony. Sessions said his conversations with Trump were subject to executive privilege and he would not respond to the question either way. (The Hill)

6/ John McCain said he will vote for the GOP tax bill, saying he believes the legislation is "far from perfect." Republicans need at least 50 of its 52 members to pass the bill without Democratic support. Currently, Bob Corker, Jeff Flake, Susan Collins, and James Lankford have yet to commit to the bill. (Politico / Bloomberg)

  • Susan Collins said it would be "very difficult" for her to support the tax bill, citing concerns over healthcare and the loss of a deduction for state and local taxes. (Reuters)

7/ The Senate bill would add $1 trillion to deficit over a decade, even with economic growth taken into account, according to a Joint Committee on Taxation report. Republicans have promised that the tax bill would pay for itself. (Wall Street Journal / Washington Post)

8/ Trump falsely claimed that the Republican tax bill would cost rich Americans like himself "a fortune." Trump and his family could save more than $1 billion under the House tax plan that passed two weeks ago. Under the Senate plan, wealthy Americans like Trump would receive nearly 62% of the benefit by 2027, while two-thirds of the middle-class would face a tax increase. "This is going to cost me a fortune, this thing, believe me," Trump said. "This is not good for me." He added that his "very wealthy friends" were "not so happy with me." (NBC News)

9/ The Secret Service has spent nearly $150,000 on golf cart rentals since Trump took office. Trump has spent more than 100 days at Trump properties, and 81 days at golf courses in particular, during his presidency. (The Hill)

10/ Trump attacked Theresa May on Twitter after the British prime minister criticized him for retweeting anti-Muslim propaganda from a British far-right party. "Don’t focus on me," Trump tweeted at May, "focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom." The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, issued a statement of condemnation and called on May to cancel Trump's state visit and to demand an apology. (The Guardian)

poll/ 40% of Americans think Fox News should receive the Fake News Trophy that Trump suggested earlier this week. 25% of respondents think CNN deserves a trophy. (Rasmussen)

Day 314: Wrong.

1/ Trump retweeted three anti-Muslim videos on Twitter, which were initially shared by a far-right British activist who has previously been charged in the UK with "religious aggravated harassment." The unverified videos, posted by Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of Britain First, depict purported Muslims committing acts of violence and were titled: "Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!" "Muslim Destroys a Statue of Virgin Mary!" and "Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death!" Theresa May, the British prime minister, said Trump was "wrong" to share the videos, while Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended the tweets as part of a conversation about the need for national security and military spending. (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN)

2/ Trump Jr. agreed to meet with the House Intelligence Committee on December 6th. It's the first opportunity for lawmakers to question Trump's son over his contacts with Russians during the campaign, including the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between campaign officials and Russian operatives promising dirt on Hillary Clinton. (CNN)

3/ The Office of Special Counsel opened a case file into whether Kellyanne Conway violated the Hatch Act when she made comments about Doug Jones, the Democrat running against Republican Roy Moore in the December 12th special election for an Alabama US Senate seat. The Hatch Act prohibits federal employees from using their offices to campaign for or against political candidates. During an appearance on Fox News last week, Conway called Jones "weak on borders" and "weak on crime." (The Hill)

4/ North Korea claimed its "successful" ICBM test yesterday was a "breakthrough" that puts the US mainland within range of its weapons. North Korea said the new Hwasong-15 missile reached an altitude of about 2,780 miles - more than 10 times the height of the International Space Station - and flew 590 miles during its 53-minute flight. (Reuters / Washington Post)

5/ Trump still questions the authenticity of Obama's birth certificate and continues to promote the conspiracy theory in closed-door meetings. Advisers say Trump also harbors a handful of other theories, including one that widespread voter fraud cost him the popular vote and another that the voice on the "Access Hollywood" tape wasn't his. Trump's friends do not deny that he has an alternative version of events. (New York Times)

6/ Trump believes that Robert Mueller's investigation will exonerate him by the end of the year. Trump has told friends that "this investigation's going to be over with pretty soon" and the White House has little to fear because his "brilliant" lawyer, Ty Cobb, said so. Mueller has indicted Paul Manafort and a former Manafort associate, Richard Gates, on money laundering charges. George Papadapoulos, a former Trump campaign adviser, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. And Michael Flynn is no longer communicating with Trump's legal team, suggesting that Flynn may be preparing to cooperate with Mueller's investigation. (Washington Post)

  • Robert Mueller has postponed grand jury testimony linked to his investigation into Michael Flynn. Additional witnesses were expected to be questioned in early December. The grand jury testimony was postponed with no reason given. (CNN)

  • A federal judge allowed the DNC to depose Sean Spicer on whether he violated a decades-old court order on election night that prevented the RNC from challenging voters' eligibility at the polls. (Politico)

  • Subpoenas are being sent to 23 Trump businesses requiring them to preserve records for lawsuit accusing the president of profiting from his office. The lawsuit contends that Trump's continued ownership of his businesses – including the Trump International Hotel in Washington – enables him to make money from foreign and domestic governments, breaching two Constitutional clauses intended to prevent that. (Bloomberg)

poll/ 71% of millennials want a third political party, saying Republicans and Democrats are doing a poor job of representing America. 63% of millennials disapprove of the way Trump is handling the job. 65% believe the country is on the wrong track overall. (NBC News)

Dept. of Deplorable.

  • Trump wants to know why the "deep state authorities" aren't investigating Hillary Clinton's emails. (The Hill)

  • After CNN disinvited itself from the annual White House holiday party for the press, Trump called for a boycott of CNN. (Reuters)

  • Trump asked if NBC will fire "low ratings" Joe Scarborough for a 2001 "unsolved mystery" in Florida where a Scarborough intern was found dead in his office. The "mystery" is that the intern had an undiagnosed heart condition. She collapsed, hit her head on the desk, and died from a blood clot. The medical examiner ruled the death an accident. (The Hill)

Day 313: Pettiness.

1/ Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi cancelled a planned budget meeting with Trump after he cast doubt on their negotiations and attacked them publicly on Twitter. Trump tweeted that the "problem" with "Chuck and Nancy" is that they "want illegal immigrants flooding into our Country unchecked, are weak on Crime and want to substantially RAISE Taxes. I don't see a deal!" The government's current funding expires on December 8th and a temporary spending bill is needed to prevent a government shutdown. Democrats are pushing for the year-end spending bill to include protections for so-called "Dreamers," which Trump ended in September. Pelosi and Schumer instead requested a meeting with Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell. (Associated Press / Wall Street Journal / Politico)

2/ The White House accused Schumer and Pelosi of "pettiness" and "political grandstanding" for pulling out of the meeting with Trump after he attacked them on Twitter. Trump, seated between two empty chairs with placard props for Schumer and Pelosi, called the two "weak" and said "they've been all talk and they've been no action, and now it's even worse — now it's not even talk." (ABC News / NBC News)

3/ The Senate Budget Committee advanced the GOP tax reform bill in a party-line vote, with both Bob Corker and Ron Johnson backing the measure a day after threatening to withhold their support. The tax bill now heads to the full Senate floor, where at least six Republicans don't currently support the plan. Republican leaders in the Senate can only lose two votes and still pass their plan without the support of Democrats. (Politico / Reuters / Bloomberg)

4/ Trump paid $1.375 million to settle a class-action labor case in 1998. Trump employed a crew of 200 undocumented Polish workers who worked in 12-hour shifts and were paid $4 an hour to demolish the Bonwit Teller building on Fifth Avenue to make way for the Trump Tower. (New York Times)

5/ Trump is now suggesting that the "Access Hollywood" tape is fake, despite apologizing for what he described as "locker room talk" between men in October 2016. "Access Hollywood" responded to Trump, saying: "The tape is very real." (The Hill / New York Times)

6/ Project Veritas got caught trying to spread fake news about Roy Moore. The organization, run by conservative activist James O’Keefe, targets the mainstream news media in an attempt to set up undercover "stings" that involve using false stories and covert video meant to discredit media outlets. The Washington Post reported that a woman falsely told its reporters she had been impregnated by Moore as a teenager. (Politico)

7/ The Trump Foundation donated $10,000 to Project Veritas in 2015, a month before Trump announced his candidacy for president. The organization is responsible for a video claiming to show that Hillary Clinton supporters were paid $1,500 to cause violence during Trump's rallies, as well as videos targeting CNN and Planned Parenthood. (Newsweek)

8/ North Korea fired a ballistic missile for the first time in more than two months. Trump warned North Korea in a September speech at the United Nations that if it threatened the US or its allies, he would have "no choice but to totally destroy North Korea" and called Kim Jong-un "rocket man." The US believes Pyongyang may be able to put a miniaturized warhead on a missile in 2018, which would theoretically give North Korea the capability to launch a missile capable of hitting the US. Trump told reporters that he "will take care of it," adding that North Korea "is a situation that we will handle." (New York Times / CNN)

Day 312: Your favorite president.

1/ The Senate GOP tax plan would hurt the poor more than originally thought, according to a report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. If the tax bill becomes law, 4 million Americans are projected to lose health insurance by 2019 and 13 million by 2027. The bill would add $1.4 trillion to the deficit over the next decade, and Republicans are aiming to have the full Senate vote on the plan as early as this week. (Washington Post)

2/ Trump tweeted that the media should get a "fake news trophy" for its distorted "coverage of your favorite President (me)." It's not clear what prompted the tweet, but over the weekend Trump criticized CNN International for representing "our nation to the WORLD very poorly." CNN responded: "It's not CNN’s job to represent the U.S. to the world. That’s yours." (Politico / New York Times / Washington Post)

3/ Trump repeated his support for Roy Moore, although Senate Republicans are still trying to force the nominee from the race. "The last thing we need in Alabama and the U.S. Senate is a Schumer/Pelosi puppet who is WEAK on Crime, WEAK on the Border, Bad for our Military," Trump tweeted, adding that Democrat Doug Jones "would be a disaster!" A White House official said that Trump, however, would not be traveling to Alabama to campaign for Moore. (Washington Post / Associated Press)

  • John Conyers stepped down as the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee amid accusations of sexual harassment. Conyers is the longest-serving member of Congress and has held his seat since 1965. (Politico / Washington Post)

  • Al Franken returned to work following four allegations of sexual misconduct against him. He said he is "embarrassed and ashamed" and that he doesn’t know if more accusations are coming. (Star Tribune / Washington Post)

4/ Michael Flynn's lawyer notified Trump's legal team last week that they will no longer discuss Robert Mueller's investigation with them. The move suggests that Flynn may be preparing to cooperate with Mueller's investigation. Flynn’s legal team had previously been sharing information about the investigation with Trump’s lawyers. (New York Times / Washington Post)

  • Michael Flynn may have violated federal law by failing to disclose a Middle Eastern trip on his security clearance renewal application in 2016. Flynn traveled to Egypt and Israel in 2015 as an advisor to a company hoping to build two dozen nuclear power plants in the region. The plan relied on help from Russians to build the plants and take possession of the spent fuel, which could be used to build a nuclear weapon. (Washington Post)

  • The FBI failed to notify US officials that their personal Gmail accounts were being targeted by Fancy Bear, a Russian-government-aligned cyberespionage group. Many officials learned of the hacking attempts only when informed by the Associated Press. (Associated Press)

5/ Today, Flynn's lawyer met with Robert Mueller's team, a possible sign that both sides are discussing a plea deal. The process would likely include several off-the-record discussions between Flynn and the special counsel's team, as well as an opportunity to make a proffer of evidence that could implicate others. (ABC News)

6/ The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has two acting directors each claiming control of the agency. Richard Cordray resigned on Friday, naming Leandra English his deputy director and the presumed acting director. The White House responded by appointing Mick Mulvaney, currently the director of the Office of Management and Budget, to be acting director until Trump decided on a permanent successor. English then filed a lawsuit against Trump in an attempt to block him from appointing Mulvaney. (New York Times / Reuters / Los Angeles Times)

7/ The CFPB's general counsel sided with the Justice Department over Trump's appointment of Mick Mulvaney to temporarily lead the bureau. Mary McLeod's memo agreed with an earlier memo issued by the Office of Legal Counsel, which supported the Trump administration’s position. The OLC memo, however, was written by Steven Engel, a lawyer who previously represented a Canadian payday lender the CFPB sued in 2015 for using its foreign status to offer US customers with high-cost loans at odds with state and federal laws. Engel represented NDG Financial Corp. in the case against CFPB as recently as this August. (The Intercept / Politico)

8/ The White House is considering banning personal mobile phones while at work. Officials said the proposal is being driven by cybersecurity concerns. Trump, however, has repeatedly complained about leaks to the press since taking office. (Bloomberg)

9/ Trumped referred to Elizabeth Warren as "Pocahontas" during an event honoring Native Americans who served in World War II. Trump has repeatedly used the nickname to refer to Warren and poke fun at her claim of Native American heritage. Sarah Sanders defended the comment, saying "Pocahontas" is not a racial slur and "the most offensive thing" about the situation was Warren claiming to be Native American. (The Hill / CNN)

Day 307: IT WAS ME.

1/ Trump called LaVar Ball an "ungrateful fool" and said that getting his son home was "a really big deal." Trump tweeted that "it wasn't the White House, it wasn't the State Department, it wasn't father LaVar's so-called people on the ground in China that got his son out of a long term prison sentence – IT WAS ME." Ball is the father of one of the three UCLA basketball players detained in China for shoplifting and has refused to thank Trump for getting the players out of China. (CNN / NBC News)

2/ Trump and the White House insisted that Trump was working from Mar-a-Lago and very busy today an hour before he went golfing. First, the White House told reporters that Trump "will NOT have a low-key day and has a full schedule of meetings and phone calls." Soon after, Trump tweeted that he "will be having meetings and working the phones from the Winter White House in Florida." But an hour later, Trump left Mar-a-Lago to spend the morning at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach. Since the inauguration, Trump has spent 98 days at his private properties – one out of every 3.1 days – and played golf approximately 60 times, or every 5.1 days. (Washington Post)

3/ The former director of the Office of Government Ethics filed a complaint over Kellyanne Conway's comments about the Alabama Senate race. Walter Shaub said Conway may have violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from using their positions for political purposes. Earlier this week, Conway attacked the Alabama Democratic Senate candidate Doug Jones, saying Jones "will be a vote against tax cuts. He is weak on crime, weak on borders. He is strong on raising your taxes. He is terrible for property owners." (The Hill)

4/ Gary Cohn faked a bad connection to get off a phone call with Trump during a discussion with Democratic senators about tax reform earlier this month. The White House economic advisor wanted to have a conversation on tax reform without Trump, who was traveling in Asia at the time. Trump called in anyway and after 15 minutes Senator Tom Carper turned to Cohn and said, "We’re not going to have a real conversation here – can’t you just tell the president that he is brilliant and say we’re losing … the connection and then hang up?" And that's what happened. (CNBC / The Hill)

5/ The House GOP tax bill would scrap the $250 educator expense deduction. The deduction, for money that America's 3.6 million teachers spend out of pocket on classroom supplies, costs the federal government $210 million a year. The Senate GOP tax plan would double the deduction to $500. (Washington Post)

6/ Out of 38 economists, 37 said the GOP tax plans would cause the debt to increase "substantially" faster than the economy. The 38th economist misread the question. (Washington Post)

poll/ 36% of Americans expect to pay more federal, state, and local taxes under the House tax plan. 39% said they “strongly” or “somewhat” support it, while 31% oppose it and the rest are undecided. (Politico)

News Notes:

  • New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is investigating what he calls a massive scheme to corrupt the FCC with fake public comments on net neutrality. (The Hill)

  • The FBI warned Representative Dana Rohrabacher in 2012 that Russia regarded him as an intelligence source worthy of a Kremlin code name. (New York Times)

  • Jared Kushner’s horizons are collapsing within the West Wing. (Vanity Fair)

  • Michael Flynn's business partner is now the subject of Robert Mueller's probe. (NBC News)

Day 306: A great, big, beautiful Christmas present.

1/ The FCC announced plans to roll back net neutrality regulations, clearing the way for companies to charge more and slow or block access to some websites. Net neutrality rules are aimed at giving consumers equal access to web content and prevent broadband providers from charging consumers more for certain content. The commission will vote December 14th on the new rules, which include a transparency provision requiring internet service providers to inform customers about their blocking and throttling practices. (New York Times / Reuters / Politico)

2/ Trump defended Roy Moore, the Alabama Republican Senate candidate accused of sexual misconduct with minors, saying that Moore "totally denies" the allegations. "We don’t need a liberal person in there, a Democrat, Jones," Trump said. "I’ve looked at his record. It’s terrible on crime. It’s terrible on the border. It’s terrible on the military." (New York Times / NPR)

  • The Moore campaign: "We don't believe these women." (CNN)

3/ A federal judge blocked Trump's executive order to cut funding for so-called "sanctuary cities" that limit their cooperation with immigration authorities. US District Court Judge William Orrick said Trump cannot set new conditions on spending approved by Congress. (CNN)

4/ A second federal judge halted Trump proposed transgender military ban, saying that active-duty service members are "already suffering harmful consequences" because of the his policy. The preliminary injunction issued by the judge goes further than the earlier ruling and prevents the administration from denying funding for sex-reassignment surgeries. (Washington Post)

5/ Nearly 60,000 Haitians living in the US must leave within 18 months now that the Trump administration has ended their Temporary Protected Status. Temporary status was granted to Haiti in 2010, after an earthquake devastated the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. The Department of Homeland Security said that the "extraordinary conditions" justifying their status in the US "no longer exist." Haitians with protected status are expected to leave by July 2019 or face deportation. (Los Angeles Times / New York Times / Washington Post)

6/ The Senate GOP tax plan would raise taxes on 50% of Americans by 2027, the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center said. Trump, meanwhile, touted the plan as a Christmas miracle, saying: "We’re going to give the American people a huge tax cut for Christmas – hopefully that will be a great, big, beautiful Christmas present." (Washington Post)

7/ Tax experts say the House GOP tax bill is full of loopholes for the wealthy. As written, hedge funds could take advantage of the new, lower 25% tax rate intended for small businesses, while private equity fund managers could sidestep a new tax on their earnings. (Bloomberg)

8/ Trump is shutting down his charitable foundation. The foundation admitted to violating federal rules on "self-dealing," which prevents nonprofit leaders from funneling their charity's money to themselves, their businesses, or their families. (NBC News)

9/ The Trump National Golf Club in Westchester County settled a lawsuit using money from the Trump Foundation. The golf club then reimbursed Trump's charitable foundation the $158,000 used to settle the lawsuit. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is investigating how the Donald J. Trump Foundation collects and disburses funds. The inquiry is ongoing. (Washington Post)

News Notes:

  • Trump campaign adviser Carter Page held high-level meetings with Hungarian officials in Budapest. (ABC News)

  • Special Counsel Robert Mueller probes Jared Kushner’s contacts with foreign leaders. (Wall Street Journal)

  • Roman Beniaminov, a low-profile real estate exec turned pop star manager, knew about Russia’s "dirt" on Hillary Clinton. (The Daily Beast)

Day 305: A long winter.

1/ Trump designated North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism and said the Treasury Department will announce new sanctions on the country. He described the move as "a very large one." Trump said the designation will impose "further sanctions and penalties" on North Korea in support of his administration's "maximum pressure campaign to isolate the murderous regime." The designation was rescinded by George W. Bush in 2008 in an attempt to negotiate a nuclear deal. (New York Times / Bloomberg / CNN / Politico)

2/ Nebraska regulators approved the Keystone XL pipeline. The 3-2 vote came four days after the existing Keystone pipeline leaked approximately 5,000 barrels of crude oil in South Dakota. The pipeline will transport up to 830,000 barrels a day of crude oil from Canada's oil sands and North Dakota's shale fields to oil refineries on the Gulf Coast. (Washington Post / Politico)

3/ Kellyanne Conway suggested that the White House supports Roy Moore because "we want the votes" to pass tax reform. Conway was discussing tax reform on Fox News when she began hammering Doug Jones, the Democrat in the Alabama Senate race, saying "He will be a vote against tax cuts." Fox News host Brian Kilmeade interrupted: "So vote Roy Moore?" Conway replied: "I'm telling you that we want the votes in the Senate to get this tax bill through. Conway's comment comes less than a week after saying "no Senate seat is worth more than a child." (CNN / Washington Post)

  • Mick Mulvaney said Trump "doesn't know who to believe" about the allegations against Roy Moore and "thinks that the voters of Alabama should decide." (Axios)

4/ Robert Mueller requested documents from the Justice Department related to the firing of James Comey. Investigators are seeking emails related to the firing, as well as to Jeff Sessions' recusal from the investigation, not only those circulated between Justice Department officials, but any related communication they had with the White House. (ABC News)

5/ Kushner failed to disclose that a senior Russian official tried to arrange a meeting between Putin and Trump. The Senate Judiciary Committee accused Kushner of withholding an email from Aleksander Torshin, who claimed to be acting at the behest of Putin in a May 2016 email. The subject line read: "Russian backdoor overture and dinner invite." Torshin's email came a few weeks after a professor with ties to the Russian government told George Papadopoulos that the Russians had "dirt" on Hillary Clinton in the form of "thousands of emails." Spanish anti-corruption officials say Torshin is a "godfather" of the Russian mafia. (New York Times / NBC News)

  • Jared Kushner testified that he didn't recall if anybody on the campaign communicated with WikiLeaks. But a letter from the Senate Judiciary Committee shows Trump Jr. emailed Kushner to tell him WikiLeaks had contacted him on Twitter. (CNN)

6/ Hope Hicks and White House counsel Donald McGahn are scheduled to meet with Mueller in the coming weeks. "Of course they are worried," said a Republican in frequent contact with the White House, describing the current atmosphere. "It's going to be a long winter." Another person close to the administration said that some staffers now jokingly ask, "Good morning. Are you wired?" when they gather in the morning at the White House. (Washington Post / CNN)

7/ H.R. McMaster mocked Trump at a private dinner, calling him "dope" and "idiot." The National Security Adviser added that Trump has the intelligence of a "kindergartner." (BuzzFeed News)

8/ Trump called on the NFL to suspend Marshawn Lynch for standing during the Mexican national anthem and sitting during the US national anthem. Trump tweeted that the Oakland Raiders running back showed "Great disrespect! Next time NFL should suspend him for remainder of season. Attendance and ratings way down." (CNN)

9/ A day earlier, Trump weighed in on three UCLA basketball players: "I should have left them in jail." Trump took credit for the release of the three players arrested for shoplifting in China, but took to Twitter after the father of one of the players cast doubt on how much Trump was involved in freeing the players. "Shoplifting is a very big deal in China, as it should be (5-10 years in jail), but not to father LaVar," Trump tweeted. "Should have gotten his son out during my next trip to China instead. China told them why they were released. Very ungrateful!" In a second tweet he added: "I should have left them in jail!" (New York Times / Politico)

poll/ 70% of Americans think Puerto Ricans aren't getting the hurricane relief they need, up from 62% last month. (The Hill)

News Notes:

  • Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen will step down once her successor is sworn into the office. (Bloomberg)

  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin didn't think a picture of his wife striking a villainous pose while holding a sheet of dollar bills would go viral. (Politico)

  • Trump will keep the ban on importing elephant trophies in place. (New York Times)

  • The FCC is expected to release its plan for rolling back net neutrality this week. (Wall Street Journal)

  • Justice Department plans to sue to block AT&T's acquisition of Time Warner. (Bloomberg)

Day 302: What about yours?

1/ Trump scolded Al Franken on Twitter for his sexual misconduct. "The Al Frankenstien picture is really bad, speaks a thousand words," Trump tweeted, adding that last week Franken was "lecturing anyone who would listen about sexual harassment and respect for women." During Trump's presidential campaign, 11 women accused him of unwanted touching or kissing over several decades. Trump called the allegations "pure fiction" and "fake news" and referred to the women as "horrible, horrible liars." Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the White House position is that the women who have accused Trump of sexual harassment are lying. Franken, meanwhile, apologized for his behavior and encouraged a Senate Ethics Committee review of his actions. (Washington Post)

2/ Trump has repeatedly declined to call on Roy Moore to quit Alabama's Senate race despite several women accusing Moore of sexually assaulting them when they were teenagers. Trump has not publicly condemned Moore’s actions, or pulled his endorsement of the Republican candidate, even as Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan have called for Moore to drop out of the race. Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, "The president believes that these allegations are very troubling" but that "the people of Alabama should make the decision on who their next senator should be." (New York Times / Associated Press)

3/ Kellyanne Conway justified Trump's silence on Roy Moore by saying the Al Franken story was a "brand new news story." Conway told Fox News that "the Roy Moore story is eight days old and the president put out a statement," which said Moore should step aside "if these allegations are true." (Politico)

4/ Robert Mueller issued a subpoena to Trump's campaign for Russia-related documents from more than a dozen officials. The subpoena, issued in mid-October, is the first time Trump's campaign has been ordered to turn over information. It does not compel any officials to testify but it surprised the campaign, which had been voluntarily complying with Mueller's requests for information. (Wall Street Journal)

  • George Papadopoulos claimed that Trump gave him a "blank check" to choose a senior Trump administration job and was authorized to represent the candidate in overseas meetings with foreign leaders. Papadopoulos also claimed that Trump called him last year to discuss his role as a foreign policy adviser and that the two had at least one personal introductory meeting that the White House has not acknowledged. (Politico)

  • Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak said he won't name all the Trump officials he's met with because "the list is so long" and that it would take him more than 20 minutes to do so. Kislyak made the remarks during an interview with Russia-1, a state-owned Russian TV channel. (CNBC)

  • The British publicist who helped set up the Trump Tower meeting will talk with Robert Mueller's office. Rob Goldstone has been living in Bangkok, Thailand and is expected to travel to the US at some point "in the near future" to discuss the meeting between Trump Jr. and a group of Russians in June 2016. (NBC News)

  • Jared Kushner is working with an interim security clearance 10 months into Trump’s administration. Kushner’s interim clearance allows him to view sensitive material, and that it is valid unless revoked. (Politico)

5/ The Republican Party is no longer paying Trump's personal legal bills related to the Russia probe. Trump is working with the Office of Government Ethics and tax firm to use his personal funds to help current and former White House staffers caught up in the Justice Department's special counsel investigation with their legal costs. The RNC had previously paid out more than $230,000 for Trump's legal bills. (Bloomberg / CNN)

6/ The FCC voted to loosen media ownership rules. The 3-2 vote rolls back a 1970s rule intended to ensure a diversity of voices and opinions could be heard on the air or in print, and makes it easier for media companies to be bought and sold. Critics of the FCC repeal say that the decision will result in less diversity in local news media and lead to inferior phone and broadband services in some areas. The FCC also voted to limit spending on the Lifeline program, which provides discounted internet and phone service to low-income homes. (Washington Post / CNET / The Verge)

7/ The Senate Finance Committee approved the $1.5 trillion Republican tax overhaul, but not without an angry shouting match between Republicans and Democrats after nearly 12 hours of talk about taxes. Sherrod Brown and Orrin Hatch sparred over Republican talking points about trickle-down economics with the Ohio Democrat charging "that whole thing about higher wages, well, it’s a good selling point." Hatch replied: "I really resent anybody saying I’m just doing it for the rich." The committee voted along party lines, 14-12, to forward the proposal on to the full Senate, where the Senate is expected to take action after the Thanksgiving break. (CNN / New York Times / Politico)

8/ Of Trump's 58 judicial nominees, 74% are white men. About 19% are women while 2% are both female and non-white. In total, 53 of Trump's judicial nominees are white, three are Asian-American, one is Hispanic, and one is African-American. He has nominated 47 men and 11 women. (Associated Press)

poll/ Obama is more popular in Alabama than Trump. 52% of likely voters in the state have a favorable opinion of Obama vs. 49% for Trump. (The Hill)

Day 301: Bring it on.

1/ House Republicans passed their tax bill, which would cut taxes by $1.5 trillion over 10 years in a rewrite of the tax code. The bill also cuts the corporate tax rate to 20% from 35%, collapses the number of tax brackets from seven to four, and eliminates or scales back many popular deductions of individuals, including the state and local tax deduction, medical expenses deduction, and student loan deductions but would double the standard deduction. The bill passed with 227 votes in favor and 205 against. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico)

2/ The Senate tax bill would raise taxes on the middle class while giving large cuts to millionaires over the next decade, according to analysis by the Joint Committee on Taxation. Taxpayers would see their taxes cut by 7.4% on average in 2019, but by 2027 their taxes would rise by an average of 0.2%. Those making between $20,000 and $30,000 would have their tax bills rise 25.4% by 2027 while people earning over $100,000 continue to receive tax cuts. (Washington Post / The Hill)

3/ A radio newscaster accused Al Franken of kissing and groping her without consent during a 2006 U.S.O. tour of the Middle East before he took public office. Franken apologized to Leeann Tweeden, saying he doesn't remember the events of a kiss rehearsal "the same way" as she described. Franken added that a photo of him with his hands over a sleeping Tweeden's breasts "was clearly intended to be funny but wasn’t. I shouldn’t have done it." (New York Times / Washington Post / KABC)

  • Mitch McConnell immediately called for an Ethics Committee investigation of Al Franken after allegations that he groped a woman in 2006. "As with all credible allegations of sexual harassment or assault, I believe the Ethics Committee should review the matter. I hope the Democratic Leader will join me on this," McConnell said. "Regardless of party, harassment and assault are completely unacceptable—in the workplace or anywhere else." (Politico)

4/ The Alabama Republican Party is sticking with Roy Moore despite at least nine women accusing him of inappropriate, unwanted sexual behavior. Mitch McConnell has called Moore unfit to serve in the Senate and has threatened him with an ethics investigation if he is elected in the December 12th special election. Moore responded to McConnell's threat in a tweet: "Bring. It. On." (NBC News / Washington Post / CNBC)

5/ Senate Republicans are exploring the legal feasibility of a second new special election in Alabama in order to save the Republican seat. The plan would call for Luther Strange – who was appointed to fill Jeff Sessions' vacant seat – to resign, causing a new special election in Alabama. Recent polling has the Democrat Doug Jones leading Moore by at least 12 points in the race. (Politico)

6/ The Trump administration lifted the ban on hunters importing elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia, reversing a 2014 rule put in place by the Obama White House. Elephants are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. (ABC News / NBC News)

7/ A bipartisan group of senators introduced new gun control legislation to improve state and federal agency compliance with the existing background check system. The bill penalizes agencies that fail to report relevant records while incentivizing states to improve their overall reporting. (CBS News / The Hill)

8/ Jared Kushner forwarded emails about a "Russian backdoor overture and dinner invite" to campaign officials, according to a letter the Senate Judiciary Committee sent Kushner's lawyer. Kushner received emails in September 2016 about Russia and WikiLeaks, but failed to turn them over to lawmakers with the rest of his documents on November 3rd. In the letter to Kushner, Chuck Grassley and Dianne Feinstein wrote: "There are several documents that are known to exist but were not included." Kushner has been asked to turn over all relevant documents by November 27th. (Business Insider / Politico)

  • Carter Page delivered his subpoenaed documents to both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. Page has interviewed with both committees in past weeks as part of their parallel investigations into Russian interference in the U.S. election. He declined to comment on his interactions with Mueller's team. (The Hill)

9/ The Keystone Pipeline was shutdown after leaking 210,000 gallons of oil in Marshall County, South Dakota. The spill is equivalent to about 5,000 barrels of oil. Regulators in Nebraska will vote Monday on whether to approve the permit and construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. (CNN)

Day 300: No plans.

1/ The author of the Trump dossier believes his report is 70-90% accurate. Christopher Steele's reports were commissioned by Fusion GPS as opposition report and detail allegations that the Kremlin had personally compromising material on Trump, including sex tapes recorded during a 2013 trip to Moscow, as well as evidence that Trump and his associates actively colluded with Russian intelligence to influence the election. (The Guardian)

  • RT registered in the US as a foreign agent, bowing to pressure from the Justice Department. Russia's parliament voted to allow the Kremlin to brand foreign media outlets like CNN as "foreign agents" in retaliation. (NPR / The Guardian)

2/ Nearly 1.5 million people have signed up for an Affordable Care Act health care plan in the first two weeks of open enrollment, outpacing last year's sign ups by nearly 500,000. The Trump administration cut the 2018 open enrollment period from 12 to 6 weeks, and reduced the ACA advertising budget by 90%. (Reuters)

3/ The Trump administration rejected 4,000 "late" DACA renewals despite some applications sitting in its mailbox at the October 5th deadline. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) only counted applications it had marked as "received" before the deadline. USCIS did not honor the postmarked date. The plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the Trump administration allege that many more DACA renewal applications arrived on time to USCIS mailboxes, but were rejected as late anyway. The US Postal Service has taken responsibility for an "unintentional temporary mail processing delay" in New York, Chicago, and two other states. (Vox / New York Times)

4/ A federal judge ruled that the Trump administration can't withhold money from "sanctuary cities" for refusing to cooperate with federal authorities on immigration. Jeff Sessions and the Justice Department have argued that cities should hold foreign detainees until Immigration and Customs Enforcement can pick them up. (The Hill)

5/ Mitch McConnell proposed that Jeff Sessions could be run as a write-in candidate to replace Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate race and reclaim his old seat. McConnell suggested that if Moore won the election, he could be sworn in but immediately subjected to an ethics investigation that would include his testifying under oath. Moore has made no public indication he plans to leave the race. (Wall Street Journal / CNN)

  • poll/ Roy Moore trails Democrat Doug Jones by 12 points in the Alabama special Senate election. Jones leads Moore 51-to-39%. (Politico)

6/ Trump tweeted condolences about the wrong mass shooting. In the botched copy/paste job, Trump referenced the tragedy in Sutherland Springs, Texas from nine days ago while offering condolences for the shooting at the Rancho Tehema Elementary School in northern California. Roughly nine hours later the tweet was deleted without explanation. (Vanity Fair / Fortune)

7/ The House passed a $700 billion defense policy bill that would authorize a military buildup beyond what Trump has proposed. The legislation, however, is tens of billions of dollars above the $549 billion spending cap. (Politico)

8/ Trump's economic adviser was surprised when a room of CEOs said they don't plan to increase investments if the GOP tax plan is passed. The White House argues that cutting the corporate tax rate would increase average household income by making it less expensive for companies to invest in assets like machines… which would allow workers to produce more stuff… which would allow businesses to pay their workers more… because they can sell more stuff… etc. (The Hill / Vox)

9/ A key Senate Republican said he would not support the GOP tax plan and another expressed reservations about the bill. Ron Johnson said he was opposed to both the Senate and House bills because neither "provide fair treatment." Meanwhile, Susan Collins said she was concerned about Republicans changing the tax bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate, calling it a "mistake." Republicans can only lose two senators and still pass their tax plan in the Senate without Democratic votes. (Washington Post / Politico)

10/ The director of the Consumer Protection Bureau resigned. Richard Cordray told staffers he "will step down from his position here before the end of the month." (New York Times / The Hill)

11/ Democrats introduced articles of impeachment against Trump. The articles, introduced by five Democrats, accuse Trump of obstruction of justice, undermining the independence of the federal judiciary, and more. The effort faces long odds in the Republican-controlled House. (Associated Press)

poll/ In a hypothetical matchup, Joe Biden leads Trump by 11 points in the 2020 general election. 46% of voters said they'd vote for Biden compared to 35% who would choose to reelect Trump. While Biden has said he has "no plans" to run in 2020, he's also said it would be "foolish" to rule it out completely. (Politico)

poll/ 52% of voters disapprove of the Republican tax plan while 25% approve of the plan. 61% believe the wealthy would mainly benefit from this tax plan. (Quinnipiac)

Day 299: Do not recall.

1/ Jeff Sessions told the House Judiciary Committee he didn't lie under oath, but he has "no clear recollection" of the proposed Trump-Putin meeting. Despite repeatedly answering "I do not recall" to questions about a March 2016 meeting where George Papadopoulos proposed that Trump meet with Putin, Sessions said he believes he rejected the suggested meeting. Later during testimony, Sessions was more direct: "At the meeting, I pushed back." In January, Sessions testified that he had no communications with Russians during the 2016 campaign. It was later revealed that he met with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak at least twice during the campaign. (Politico / Reuters / New York Times)

2/ Sessions: There is "not enough basis" for assigning a new special counsel to investigate Hillary Clinton. Earlier, Sessions sent the House Judiciary Committee a letter informing them that the Justice Department was looking into whether a special counsel should be appointed to investigate the Clinton Foundation and a 2010 deal to sell a US uranium company to Russia. On November 3rd, Trump said he was "very unhappy," "disappointed," and "frustrated" with the Justice Department for not investigating Hillary Clinton. (Washington Post / New York Times / The Guardian)

3/ Senate Republicans added a provision to their tax bill that would repeal the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate. In order to be protected from a Democratic filibuster, the tax bill can't add more than $1.5 trillion to federal deficit over a decade. The CBO said that repealing the mandate would free up more than $300 billion in funding over the next decade while also causing 13 million fewer people to have health insurance. Mitch McConnell said Republicans are "optimistic that inserting the individual mandate repeal would be helpful." (Washington Post / New York Times)

4/ The US embassy in Moscow hired a security firm owned by Putin's former KGB counter-intelligence director to provide "local guard services" for the US mission in Russia. Moscow forced Washington to cut its diplomatic staff in Russia from more than 1,200 to 455 in response to sanctions adopted against Russia in August. To make up for the loss of security guards, Washington awarded a $2.8 million no-bid contract to Elite Security, which was founded in 1997 by Viktor Budanov and his son Dmitry. Budanov retired from espionage in 1992. (The Telegraph / New York Times)

5/ The FBI is investigating Russian embassy payments "to finance election campaign of 2016." The Russian foreign ministry made more than 60 wire transfers that exceeded $380,000 in total to its embassies around the world, most of them bearing the memo line "to finance election campaign of 2016." Nearly $30,000 was sent to the Russian embassy in Washington, D.C. (BuzzFeed News)

6/ Trump tweeted about John Podesta's hacked emails 15 minutes after WikiLeaks told Trump Jr. "we just released Podesta Emails Part 4." While Trump Jr. didn't respond to the message, he tweeted out a link WikiLeaks had provided him two days later. (The Hill / The Atlantic)

  • Mike Pence denied knowing that Trump Jr. was in contact with WikiLeaks during the campaign. In October 2016, Pence was asked if the Trump campaign was "in cahoots" with WikiLeaks as it released droves of damaging information about Hillary Clinton. "Nothing could be further from the truth," Pence replied. (Politico)

7/ Democrats raised concerns about Trump's ability to use nuclear weapons during a Senate Foreign Affairs Committee meeting. "We are concerned that the President of the United States is so unstable, is so volatile, has a decision-making process that is so quixotic that he might order a nuclear weapons strike that is wildly out of step with US national security interests," Senator Chris Murphy said. The bipartisan panel doesn't plan to seek legislative changes to rein in the Trump's authority to use nuclear weapons, but rather ensure legal and strategic oversight measures are in place to prevent ill-advised use of nuclear weapons. (CNN)

Day 298: Step aside.

1/ Trump asked Putin if Russia meddled in the election. Putin said they didn't. Trump believed him. After meeting on the sideline of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit meeting in Vietnam, Trump said he was done asking Putin about election meddling. "He said he didn’t meddle — I asked him again. You can only ask so many times … Every time he sees me he says, 'I didn’t do that,' and I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it." Trump added: "I think he is very insulted by it, which is not a good thing for our country." The comments came during a question-and-answer session with reporters aboard Air Force One on Saturday. (New York Times / CNN)

2/ Trump called US intelligence leaders "political hacks" and labeled the community's conclusion that Russia interfered in the election as an "artificial Democratic hit job." Later Trump tweeted: "When will all the haters and fools out there realize that having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing." On Sunday, Trump walked back his comments, saying "I'm with our agencies." (Politico / The Hill)

  • CIA Director Mike Pompeo said he stands by the US intelligence assessment that Russia meddled in the election. Pompeo had falsely claimed Russian meddling didn't affect the election results. (CNN)

  • Former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates called Trump "shamelessly unpatriotic" for accepting Putin’s denial that Russia interfered in the 2016 election. (The Hill)

3/ The former CIA director said Trump is being "played" by Putin regarding election meddling. "By not confronting the issue directly and not acknowledging to Putin that we know you’re responsible for this, I think he’s giving Putin a pass," former CIA director John Brennan said. "I think it demonstrates to Mr. Putin that Donald Trump can be played by foreign leaders who are going to appeal to his ego and try to play upon his insecurities." Brennan added that Trump called him and two other top intelligence officials "political hacks" in order to "delegitimize" the intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

4/ Trump Jr. corresponded with Wikileaks during the campaign via Twitter direct messages, which were turned over to congressional investigators as part of its probe into Russian meddling. Wikileaks made multiple requests of Trump Jr., including asking for Trump's tax returns, urging the Trump campaign to reject the results of the election as rigged, not to concede if he lost, and, later, asking the president-elect to have Australia appoint Julian Assange as ambassador to the United States. Intelligence agencies believe Wikileaks was chosen by the Russian government to share the hacked DNC emails. (The Atlantic)

  • George Papadopoulos told Stephen Miller he had received "interesting messages" from Moscow a day after learning that Russia had "dirt" on Hillary Clinton. (Business Insider / New York Times)

5/ Kim Jong-un called Trump an "old lunatic." Trump tweeted that Kim was "short and fat". "Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me 'old,' when I would NEVER call him 'short and fat?' Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend - and maybe someday that will happen!" (Washington Post / CNN)

6/ Mitch McConnell called on Roy Moore to "step aside" from the race for the Alabama Senate seat. "I believe the women" who have accused Moore of sexual misconduct when they were teenagers, the Senate majority leader said. Moore tweeted that McConnell is "the person who should step aside … He has failed conservatives and must be replaced." Republicans are exploring whether to pursue a write-in candidate for the December 12th special election in an effort to retain their Senate seat. (New York Times / Politico / The Hill)

7/ Trump nominated Alex Azar to lead the Health and Human Services Department, which was vacated by Tom Price after it was revealed that Price used government and private jets to take repeated trips that cost taxpayers more than $1 million. Azar is a former pharmaceutical executive and was a top health official during the George W. Bush administration. (Washington Post / Politico)

8/ Trump's judicial nominee didn't disclose he's married to the chief of staff to the White House counsel. Brett Talley has practiced law for three years, has never tried a case, and has been unanimously rated as "not qualified" by the American Bar Association. (New York Times)

Day 295: If true.

1/ Trump cast doubt on the accusations that Roy Moore initiated sexual contact with a 14-year-old when he was 32. "Like most Americans, the president believes that we cannot allow a mere allegation – in this case, one from many years ago – to destroy a person's life," Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. "However, the president also believes that if these allegations are true, Judge Moore will do the right thing and step aside." (Washington Post / ABC News)

2/ Roy Moore called the allegations against him "completely false and misleading" and that he would remain in the race for the Alabama Senate seat. Senate Republicans are trying to block their candidate, having discussed fielding a write-in candidate, delaying the December 12th special election, and possibly not seating Moore at all if he is elected. (CNN / New York Times)

3/ The Republican Party's Senate campaign committee ended its fundraising agreement with Roy Moore. The joint fundraising committee involving Moore's campaign, the Alabama Republican Party, the Republican National Committee, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee allowed Moore to raise $80,500 at a time from individual contributors. (Politico / The Daily Beast)

4/ Robert Mueller is investigating Michael Flynn's role in a plan to extradite a Muslim cleric in the US and deliver him to Turkey in return for $15 million. Investigators are looking into the role Flynn and his son may have played in the alleged proposal to deliver Fethullah Gülen to the Turkish government. Erdoğan views Fethullah Gülen as a political enemy and has repeatedly pressed the US to extradite him. Flynn is facing military, congressional, and criminal investigations for concealing his financial ties to Turkey and Russia, and whether the ties played a role in his decisions as Trump's national security adviser. Any deal where a government official is bribed to act on behalf of a foreign government would involve multiple federal crimes. (NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

5/ Mueller's team is investigating a meeting between Michael Flynn and a pro-Russia congressman. The meeting between Dana Rohrabacher and Flynn took place in Washington on September 20th, 2016, while Flynn was an adviser to Trump’s campaign. Rohrabacher has pushed for better relations with Russia, traveled to Moscow to meet with officials, and advocated for overturning the Magnitsky Act, a 2012 bill that froze the assets of Russian investigators and prosecutors. It's the first known time that Mueller's investigation has touched a member of Congress. (NBC News)

6/ George Papadopoulos initially lied to the FBI out of loyalty to Trump. Papadopoulos has since pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, while Trump has tried to distance himself from Papadopoulos, tweeting that "few people knew the young, low level volunteer named George, who has already proven to be a liar." (ABC News)

7/ The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a Trump nominee for a federal judgeship who has never tried a case. Brett Talley, 36, was unanimously rated as "not qualified" by the American Bar Association. Talley has practiced law for three years. As a blogger he denounced "Hillary Rotten Clinton" and pledged support for the National Rifle Association. He has been approved for a lifetime appointment to the federal bench. (Los Angeles Times)

8/ Five states have asked a federal judge to halt the rollback of the Affordable Care Act's birth control mandate. California, New York, Maryland, Delaware, and Virginia filed the motion for a preliminary injunction, arguing that the policy change is unconstitutional and discriminatory. In October, Trump rolled back the federal requirement for employers to include birth control coverage in their health insurance plans, citing moral and religious grounds. (The Hill)

Day 294: Great credit.

1/ Trump: "I don't blame China" for taking "advantage" of the US with its "very one-sided and unfair" trade deal. Trump instead blamed past US administrations "for having allowed it to get so far out of kilter." The comments were made during a joint appearance with President Xi in Beijing. Trump added: "After all, who can blame a country for being able to take advantage of another country for benefit of their citizens? I give China great credit." (Washington Post / The Hill / Axios)

Full Quote:

"I don't blame China. After all, who can blame a country for being able to take advantage of another country for the benefit of its citizens? I give China great credit. But, in actuality, I do blame past administrations for allowing this out-of-control trade deficit to take place and to grow. We have to fix this because it just doesn't work for our great American companies, and it doesn't work for our great American workers." –Trump

2/ Affordable Care Act signups are outpacing last year's enrollment with more than 600,000 people selecting a plan through HealthCare.gov in the first four days since enrollment opened. In the first 12 days of last year’s open enrollment, 1,008,218 people selected plans. Enrollment this year lasts 45 days – half as long as in the past – and for most states enrollment will end on December 15th. Several states are allowing residents to sign up for ACA plans into January. (Wall Street Journal / Washington Post)

3/ John Kelly pressured the acting Homeland Security secretary, Elaine Duke, to expel tens of thousands of Honduran immigrants after she granted them a six-month extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Kelly and Tom Bossert, White House homeland security adviser, both called Duke, telling her that her decision "prevents our wider strategic goal" on immigration. Underlying the call was Kelly's concern that his handpicked nominee for DHS secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, would face potentially uncomfortable questions about TPS during her confirmation hearing on Wednesday. (Washington Post)

Background:

About 57,000 Hondurans are living in the US under Temporary Protected Status, which Congress created to refrain from deporting foreign nationals to countries too unstable to receive them following natural disasters, civil unrest, or health crisis.

4/ Robert Mueller interviewed Stephen Miller. The White House senior policy adviser is the highest-level aide still working at the White House known to have talked to investigators. Miller was at the March 2016 meeting where George Papadopoulos said that he could arrange a meeting between Trump and Putin. (CNN)

  • Papadopoulos represented the Trump campaign in a working capacity with foreign officials up until the inauguration. He's been dismissed as a "low-level volunteer" and just a "coffee boy" by Trump and campaign officials. (CNN)

5/ Michael Flynn is worried about his son's legal exposure as Robert Mueller continues to investigate Russian meddling and the business dealings of key campaign advisers to Trump. Flynn Jr. served as his father's chief of staff and top aide, and was actively involved in his father's consulting and lobbying work at their firm, Flynn Intel Group. In December 2015, the Flynns traveled to Moscow, where the elder Flynn dined with Putin at a gala for the RT television network, which US intelligence views as a Russian propaganda outlet. (CNN)

6/ The House Intelligence Committee will interview the Russian-American lobbyist who was at the Trump Tower meeting with Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort. Rinat Akhmetshin will meet with House investigators next week. The panel last week interviewed Ike Kaveladze, a Russian who attended the meeting on behalf of Russian billionaire Aras Agalarov, the oligarch who initiated the session. (CNN)

7/ The Justice Department is seeking a plea deal with Paul Manafort's son-in-law. The investigation into Jeffrey Yohai by the FBI and the US attorney's office in Los Angeles is separate from the Robert Mueller investigation. However, in the Mueller's indictment of Manafort alleges that Yohai and his father-in-law worked together on real estate deals in Los Angeles and New York, some of which involved loan fraud. (Wall Street Journal)

8/ Trump's bodyguard testified that Russians offered to "send five women" to Trump's hotel room in Moscow. "We don't do that type of stuff," Keith Schiller said. The comments came as Schiller disputed the allegations made in the dossier that describes Trump as having an encounter with prostitutes at the hotel during the 2013 Miss Universe Pageant. Schiller testified that Trump went to bed alone and that he stood outside the room for a time before going to bed. He could not say for sure what happened during the remainder of the night. (NBC News)

9/ The Education Department has shed about 8% of its staff since December and hopes to offer buyouts to an additional 255 employees. The budget proposal Betsy DeVos plans to submit would cut $9.2 billion from the department's budget, eliminating teacher training and college-prep programs while investing in charter schools and potentially offering vouchers for private schools. Congress would likely restore many of the cuts, but DeVos can cut staff and her proposal would cut 154 positions from the department — including 46 from the Office for Civil Rights. (Washington Post)

10/ The Senate unveiled an outline of its tax reform bill that differs significantly from the House and the White House. The Senate tax package would delay cutting the corporate tax rate from 35% to 20% until 2019 – a departure from Trump’s expectation for immediate tax cuts. The Senate bill would keep seven tax brackets, while the House bill would collapse them down to four. The Senate bill would also double the estate tax exemption and keep it, while the House bill would double the exemption but repeal it in 2025. The Senate bill wouldn't change the mortgage interest deduction, while the House would cap it at $500,000, and not allow the deduction for second homes. Both the House and Senate plan to pass their bills this month and then sort out differences in an effort to get a final bill to Trump by the end of the year. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico)

11/ A former Treasury secretary charged that current Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin is making "irresponsible" economic assessments of the administration's tax plan and acting as a "sycophant" to Trump. Lawrence Summers, who was Bill Clinton's Treasury secretary, has been criticizing Mnuchin in podcasts, blog posts, and op-eds and on Twitter for suggesting that the tax plan currently being debated by Congress would not add to the federal deficit. "I’m not aware of so irresponsible an estimate coming from a Treasury secretary in the last 50 years," he said. (New York Times)

12/ Trump's voter fraud commission was sued by one of the panel's own members. Matt Dunlap, one of four Democrats on the 11-member board, filed a suit claiming that he's being denied access to the commission's records and has been effectively frozen out of its activities. (Politico)

13/ Mitch McConnell called on the Republican nominee in Alabama to withdraw from the Senate race if the reports that he pursued teenage girls in his 30's are true. Several women told the Washington Post that Roy Moore initiated sexual contact with them when as teenagers, including one who said she was 14 and he was 32. "If these allegations are true, he must step aside," McConnell said. Moore, meanwhile, told supporters: "I refuse to stand down." (Washington Post / Politico / The Hill)

poll/ 45% of voters who are familiar with the GOP tax plan support the proposal, down from 48% last week. (Politico)

poll/ A generic 2020 Democratic presidential candidate leads Trump by 10 points. 8% of the people who voted for Trump said they would instead vote for the unidentified Democrat candidate in 2020. (The Hill)

Day 293: Refreshed.

1/ Trump told 12 Senate Democrats that he would "get killed" financially by the GOP tax bill in an attempt to increase Democratic support by claiming the bill would hurt wealthy taxpayers like himself. Trump wants Democrats to support repealing the estate tax, because they need to give something to rich people. Repealing the estate tax would provide an additional $300 billion dollar tax break to the wealthy.

The Joint Committee on Taxation found that the tax bill would add $1.574 trillion to the deficit over a decade, which is $74 billion over the maximum amount it can add if Republicans want to take advantage of special Senate rules that would allow them to pass the bill with 50 votes. The Senate plans to release its tax bill this week; it is expected to differ significantly from the House bill. (NBC News / Washington Post)

  • The CBO: Repealing the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate would leave 13 million more Americans without insurance and reduce the federal deficit by $338 billion over a decade. Republicans are considering cutting the ACA's requirement that most Americans obtain health coverage as part of tax reform. (Politico)

2/ Trump warned North Korea that developing nuclear weapons was putting the country in "grave danger." Trump, during a speech to South Korea's National Assembly, called on all countries to isolate Pyongyang by denying it "any form of support, supply or acceptance," saying the "world cannot tolerate the menace of a rogue regime that threatens it with nuclear devastation." He warned North Korea to "not underestimate us and do not try us." Trump’s return to tough talk came a day after he had softened his rhetoric and asked Pyongyang to "come to the table" and "make a deal." (Reuters)

3/ Corey Lewandowski's "memory has been refreshed" about Carter Page's trip to Russia. In March, Trump’s former campaign manager said he "never met Carter Page." On Tuesday, Lewandowski described Page as a "low-level volunteer" who had "no formal role in the campaign," and "to the best of my recollection, I don't know Carter Page." Page testified last week to the House Oversight Committee that he had asked Lewandowski and Hope Hicks for permission to travel to Moscow. After the trip, Page emailed Lewandowski, Hicks, Sam Clovis, JD Gordon, and then-Senator Jeff Sessions about his trip to Russia, where he met with Russian officials and discussed the presidential campaign. (Politico / Talking Points Memo)

4/ Leadership at the State Department is being "depleted at a dizzying speed," the president of the Foreign Service officers’ union said. Since January, the State Department has lost 60% of its career ambassadors, 42% of its career ministers, and 15% of its minister counselors – and the numbers "are still falling." (ABC News / Vox)

5/ Scott Pruitt will continue to roll back the Clean Power Plan despite a government report that finds climate change to be "unambiguous" with "no convincing alternative explanation" that anything other than humans are the cause. Pruitt said that the National Climate Assessment was part of the ongoing debate between scientists over the causes of global warming and the report won't deter him from rolling back the rule aimed at combating climate change. Trump has dismissed climate change as a "hoax" perpetrated by the Chinese in order to gain an edge over the US. (USA Today)

6/ A fourth Trump judicial nominee has been deemed unqualified for the job by the American Bar Association. Brett Talley has faced criticism for a 2013 blog post in which he called on readers to "join the National Rifle Association" and characterized gun control legislation passed after the massacre at Sandy Hook as "the greatest attack on our constitutional freedoms in our lifetime." Talley was tapped by Trump for the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama. (The Hill)

7/ A federal judge issued a gag order in the Paul Manafort and Rick Gates case, preventing both from making public statements about the case. The order doesn't ban statements to the media outright, but prohibits any remarks that "pose a substantial likelihood of material prejudice" in the money laundering and conspiracy case. (USA Today / Politico)

8/ The Justice Department told AT&T and Time Warner to sell off CNN's parent company or DirecTV if they want to approval of their proposed merger. During the campaign, Trump criticized the proposed merger, arguing that "deals like this destroy democracy" and that it's "an example of the power structure" he was fighting. Trump has also repeatedly labeled CNN "fake news." (New York Times)

Election Night in America:

  • Democrats won victories in governor's races in Virginia and New Jersey last night. In Virginia, Democrat Ralph Northam beat Republican Ed Gillespie, 54% to 45%. And in New Jersey, Democrat Phil Murphy defeated Republican Kim Guadagno, 55.4% to 42.5%. (New York Times)

  • After going to bat for Gillespie during the run-up, Trump distanced himself after the loss, tweeting that Gillespie "did not embrace me or what I stand for." (Washington Post / NBC News)

  • The first African American woman was elected mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina. Democrat Vi Lyles won about 58% to 42% of the vote in unofficial returns. (Charlotte Observer)

  • The first openly transgender woman of color was elected to public office. Andrea Jenkins won a seat on the Minneapolis City Council. (The Hill / NBC News)

  • In Virginia, Danica Roem was first openly transgender person to be elected and seated in a state legislature after beating a 13-term incumbent who called himself Virginia’s "chief homophobe." (Washington Post)

  • The first woman was elected mayor in Manchester, New Hampshire. Joyce Craig is the first Democrat to be elected mayor of Manchester in 14 years. (New Hampshire Union Leader)

  • In Maine, voters approved a ballot measure to expand Medicaid coverage. Some 80,000 adults will qualify under the expansion. Maine will be the 32nd state to expand the program, but the first where voters – not governors or legislators – have directly authorized an expansion. (Politico / New York Times)

  • Maine's Republican governor said he won't implement the expansion unless it is fully funded by the state's Legislature. Paul LePage has vetoed legislation to expand Medicaid five previous times. LePage will be term-limited out of office next year. (Press Herald / The Hill)

  • House Republican Frank LoBiondo announced his retirement, which puts his New Jersey congressional district up for grabs in the 2018 election. (NJ.com)

  • Ted Poe also announced that he would not seek re-election, becoming the second House Republican to announce retirement yesterday. The Texas congressman was diagnosed with leukemia last year. (CNN)

  • Arizona congresswoman Martha McSally has told colleagues that she will run for Senate in 2018 as a GOP primary challenger to Kelli Ward. McSally would be the first Republican to join the Senate race since Jeff Flake retirement announcement. (AZ Central)

  • exit poll/ Half of Virginia voters said Trump was the reason for their vote with twice as many saying they were voting to oppose him (34%) as to support him (17%). (Politico)

Day 292: Incredible insights.

1/ Carter Page testified that he received permission from Corey Lewandowski to visit Moscow in July 2016, he told the House Intelligence Committee during his seven-hour testimony yesterday. Page also told senior campaign officials Sam Clovis, Hope Hicks, and JD Gordon, as well as then-Senator Jeff Sessions, about his trip to Russia. When he returned, Page sent an email to campaign officials saying he had received "incredible insights and outreach" from "senior members" of Putin’s administration and suggested that Trump should make a foreign policy speech in Russia and "raise the temperature a little bit." Page maintains that his trip was made as a private citizen and was unrelated to his role in the Trump campaign. (CNN / NBC News / Washington Post)

2/ Jeff Sessions will testify before the House Judiciary Committee on November 14th about his past statements regarding contacts between Trump campaign and Russian intermediaries. Sessions is also expected appear in a closed session with the House Intelligence Committee on the same day. (Reuters)

  • Justice Department dropped their case against a woman who laughed at Jeff Sessions during his confirmation hearing. (HuffPost)

3/ Trump told CIA director Mike Pompeo to meet with a former intelligence officer who claimed the DNC emails were "leaked" – not hacked. Pompeo met last month with William Binney, who has challenged a January 2017 intelligence community report from the CIA, the FBI, and the NSA that concludes "Putin ordered an influence campaign … to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency." Trump has called the report "fake news." (The Intercept)

4/ The White House has prepared an executive order to weaken the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate, which requires taxpayers to demonstrate proof of insurance or pay a fine. The order would broaden the "hardship exemption" that was established for those facing extraordinary circumstances (e.g., the death of a family member, bankruptcy, or natural disaster). Trump would sign the order if Republicans fail to include such a measure in the tax reform process. (Washington Post / Washington Examiner)

5/ Syria will join the Paris climate agreement, leaving the US as the only country to reject the global deal. France, meanwhile, said that Trump, "for the time being," is not invited to December's climate change summit in Paris. (New York Times / Reuters)

6/ Trump urged North Korea to "come to the table" and discuss giving up its nuclear weapons, casting the threat as a global crisis that required cooperation from Russia and China. Trump previously called Rex Tillerson's effort to negotiate with North Korea a waste of time and threatened to unleash "fire and fury" against Kim Jong Un if he continued to provoke the US. (Bloomberg / Politico)

7/ Trump said "hundreds more" would have died in Texas if gun laws were tougher and another man using his own gun hadn't been able to "neutralize" the shooter. Paul Ryan suggested that "prayer works" as an effective form of gun control. (Washington Post / The Hill)

8/ The Air Force failed to report Devin Patrick Kelley's domestic violence court martial, which should have prevented him from buying guns. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis directed the Pentagon's inspector general to review Kelley's case and "define what the problem is." The Pentagon has known for at least two decades about failures to report the outcome of criminal cases to the FBI, according to a 1997 report by the inspector general. (NBC News / Associated Press)

  • Senators plan to introduce bipartisan legislation to force the military to report domestic violence to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, the database used for firearms background checks. Jeff Flake and Martin Heinrich are introducing the legislation after the Texas shooting to close a loophole where the military has not been reporting misdemeanors of domestic violence. (CNN)

  • Trump's nominees for a top Pentagon job said it's "insane" that civilians can buy assault rifles. Dean Winslow, Trump's nominee for the Department of Defense’s top health affairs job, was asked if service members, like Kelley, who are convicted of domestic violence charges should be dishonorably discharged. He replied that it is "insane" that "a civilian can go out and buy a semiautomatic assault rifle like an AR-15." John McCain told Winslow that this isn't his "area of responsibility or expertise." (Politico / Vox)

poll/ 32% of voters in "Trump counties" believe the country is better off with Trump as president than before. 41% say the country is worse off than it was before Trump became president. 53% say they don't think Trump has a clear agenda. (NBC News)

poll/ 37% of Americans have a favorable view of the Democratic party – the lowest mark in more than a quarter century of polling. 30% of Americans hold a favorable view of the Republican party. (CNN)

Day 291: Bad conduct.

1/ Trump: The Texas church shooting isn't a guns issue, it's a mental health issue. "Mental health is your problem here," Trump said. "This isn't a guns situation. This is a mental health problem at the highest level." Devin Patrick Kelley, a young white male, was dressed in all-black "tactical-type gear" and wearing a ballistic vest when he opened fire on the church using a Ruger AR-556 semiautomatic rifle. He killed at least 26 people. Kelley passed a background check despite being discharged from the Air Force for "bad conduct" – assaulting his wife and their child. The discharge did not show up as a prohibited offense on his background check. (CNN / New York Times)

  • Ted Cruz accused gun control advocates of "politicizing" the Sutherland Springs shooting, pointing out that trucks can kill people, too. He was, of course, referencing the terror attack in New York City where a driver ran over pedestrians and cyclists with a truck. (The Daily Beast)

2/ Robert Mueller has enough evidence to charge Michael Flynn and his son as part of the Russia probe. Mueller's team is looking at possible money laundering charges, lying to federal agents, and Flynn's role in a plan to remove an opponent of the Turkish president from the US in exchange for millions of dollars. (NBC News / Reuters)

3/ A Russian lawyer said Trump Jr. offered to have an anti-Russian law re-examined if Trump won the election. "Looking ahead, if we come to power, we can return to this issue and think what to do about it," Trump Jr. said of the Magnitsky Act, which the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, was lobbying against. Trump Jr. met with Veselnitskaya lawyer in June 2016 at Trump Tower with Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner after being promised "information that would incriminate" Hillary Clinton. (Bloomberg)

4/ Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross retained investments in a shipping company tied to Putin's inner circle. Ross and his private equity firm are the biggest shareholders in Navigator Holdings. Navigator's largest client is the Russian energy firm Sibur, which is partly owned by a Russian oligarch and Putin's son-in-law. The revelation comes after the so-called Paradise Papers were leaked to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. The trove of more than 13 million documents reveal how some wealthy individuals have used offshore havens to avoid paying taxes. (New York Times / The Daily Beast / Washington Post)

  • Russian tech leader Yuri Milner invested $850,000 in a startup called Cadre that Jared Kushner co-founded in 2014. Kushner did not disclose his ownership in Cadre on his initial financial disclosure form when he became a White House adviser. In July, Kushner told the Senate Intelligence Committee in a closed-door meeting that he never "relied on Russian funds to finance my business activities in the private sector." (New York Times)

  • At least nine Trump associates had contacts with Russians during the campaign or presidential transition and include Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen, Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, George Papadopoulos, Carter Page, J.D. Gordon, Michael Flynn, and Jeff Sessions. Experts who've studied Russian tactics see a concerted and multifaceted Kremlin effort to infiltrate Trump’s campaign. (Washington Post)

5/ Paul Manafort's attorney plans to challenge Robert Mueller's authority. Kevin Downing will file pre-trial motions that question "the legal basis for and sufficiency of the charges, the suppression of evidence improperly obtained by search warrant, subpoena or otherwise." Downing said he may try to prevent Mueller's prosecutors from presenting some of their evidence during the criminal trial. (Politico)

6/ Trump told Japan that it can protect itself from North Korea by purchasing US military equipment to shoot down missiles. "The prime minister of Japan is going to be purchasing massive amounts of military equipment, as he should," Trump said. North Korea launched a missile over Japan in September. (New York Times)

  • Trump asked Japan to build its cars in the US. Three out of four Japanese cars sold in the US last year were built in North America. "Try building your cars in the United States instead of shipping them over," Trump told Japanese automakers. "Is that possible to ask? That's not rude. Is that rude? I don't think so." (CNN)

7/ The House Republican tax plan would cause taxes to go up for 28% of Americans by 2027, according to analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. Families earning less than $10,000 a year would see a tax cut of about $10. Those making $48,000 to $86,000 would get an average tax cut of $700 next year, while taxpayers in the top 1% (those making more than $730,000) would receive an average cut of $37,000. Overall, 70% of people would get a tax cut next year averaging $2,000, but 12% would pay an average of $1,560 more. By 2027, those paying more would grow to 28% of all taxpayers, who would pay an average $1,980 more, while 57% would save $2,400. (Washington Post / Vox / USA Today/ Tax Policy Center)

8/ George Bush called Trump a "blowhard" who is only interested in feeding his own ego. (New York Times)

9/ Donna Brazile admits she has "no evidence" the Democratic primary was rigged. "I found no evidence, none whatsoever," she said. (CNN)

poll/ 65% of Americans say Trump has accomplished "not much" to "little or nothing" as president. 67% don’t trust him to act responsibly in handling the situation involving North Korea. (ABC News / Washington Post)

poll/ 44% of Americans are "very concerned" about the Trump campaign's contacts with the Russians, up from 27% who said so in July. (CNN)

Day 288: The only one that matters.

Current Status: Trump and Jeff Sessions have denied knowing about the Trump campaign's contacts with Russia. Court documents suggest otherwise. Records show that at a March 31, 2016, meeting between Trump, Sessions, and the campaign's foreign policy team, George Papadopoulos introduced himself and said "that he had connections that could help arrange a meeting between then-candidate Trump and President Putin." (New York Times)

1/ Trump does not "remember much" from the meeting with George Papadopoulos, where Papadopoulos offered to arrange a meeting between Trump and Putin. Trump called it a "very unimportant meeting [that] took place a long time [ago]. Don't remember much about it." According to a person present for the meeting, Trump didn't dismiss the idea of meeting with Putin, but Jeff Sessions did. Trump has described himself as having "one of the greatest memories of all time." (Politico / NPR)

2/ Carter Page testified that he told Jeff Sessions about his 2016 trip to Russia during the presidential campaign. At a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in June, Sessions testified that he had "no knowledge" of any conversations between "anyone connected to the Trump campaign." During his confirmation hearing, Sessions was asked if "anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government" during the campaign. Sessions responded: "I'm not aware of any of those activities … I didn't have — did not have communications with the Russians, and I'm unable to comment on it." (CNN)

3/ Republicans called on Robert Mueller to resign as special counsel over what they contend to be "obvious conflicts of interest." Matt Gaetz, Andy Biggs, and Louie Gohmert introduced a measure to put the House on record describing Mueller as unfit to lead the Russia probe because of his relationship with James Comey, who was Mueller's successor at the FBI. (Reuters / Politico)

  • Robert Mueller estimates he will need three weeks to present his case against Paul Manafort and Rick Gates to a jury. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson set May 7th as a possible trial date. (ABC News)

4/ Trump's not worried about the unfilled State Department jobs, because "I'm the only one that matters." As of last month, the administration had filled about a quarter of the roughly 600 State Department positions that require Senate confirmation. "We don't need all of the people," Trump said in an interview with Fox News, arguing that the lack of nominees for key positions at the State Department wouldn't affect his agenda. "You know, it's called cost-saving." (NPR / The Hill)

5/ Trump is "very unhappy," "disappointed," and "frustrated" with the Justice Department for not investigating Hillary Clinton. Despite acknowledging that presidents are not supposed to intervene with law enforcement decisions – which he called "the saddest thing" – Trump insisted that the DOJ investigate "Crooked Hillary," "Crazy Bernie," and "Pocahontas," a nickname he uses for Elizabeth Warren. (New York Times / Washington Post)

6/ A Twitter contractor leaving the company deactivated Trump's account, which was down for 11 minutes before being restored. Trump tweeted Friday morning, "I guess the word must finally be getting out-and having an impact." (CNN / Reuters)

7/ The Trump administration approved a report that contradicts its position on climate change. The National Climate Assessment finds the global, long-term warming trend to be "unambiguous" and that there is "no convincing alternative explanation" that anything other than humans are the cause. Scott Pruitt, Rick Perry, and Trump have all questioned the extent of humans’ contribution to climate change. (New York Times / Washington Post)

8/ House Republicans passed legislation to fund the children’s health program in a 242-174 vote. Republicans plan to pay for the program by cutting a separate public health program and raising Medicare premiums. Senators, meanwhile, have agreed on a bill extending the program’s funding for five more years, but are divided over how to pay for it. The CHIP program provides more than 8 million low-income children with low-cost health insurance. (Associated Press)

poll/ 60% of Americans say Trump's tax plan will benefit the wealthy, while 17% think it will treat people equally. Among those that make $100,000 or more, 61% think Trump's plan will benefit them most. (ABC News)

Day 287: Cut, cut, cut.

1/ House Republicans unveiled the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which reduces the number of tax brackets from seven to five, maintains the top tax rate at 39.6%, raises the standard deduction from $6,350 to $12,000 for individuals and from $12,700 to $24,000 for married couples. The bill reduces the corporate tax rate from 35% to 20%, repeals the state and local income tax deductions, limits the property tax deduction to $10,000, and expands the child tax credit from $1,000 to $1,600. The treatment of pre-tax contributions to 401(k) and IRA would be preserved. Homeowners can keep their mortgage interest deduction, but the bill caps the deduction for new mortgages at $500,000, while also repealing the estate tax in 2024. The bill is estimated to cost $1.487 trillion over a decade, but lawmakers must keep the cost of the bill to $1.5 trillion if they want to pass it along party lines and avoid a filibuster by Democrats. (NBC News / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

  • Trump wanted to call the tax plan the "Cut, Cut, Cut Act." Paul Ryan initially asked the White House for input because of the Trump's knack for branding. Ryan and Kevin Brady, the House Ways and Means Committee Chairman, pushed back. (ABC News)

2/ Sam Clovis has withdrawn his nomination for the Department of Agriculture's chief scientist role after coming under criticism for his lack of science credentials (he's not a scientist) and for his role supervising George Papadopoulos. In a letter to Trump, Clovis wrote that he does "not want to be a distraction or a negative influence." Clovis is a self-described skeptic of climate change. (Politico / Bloomberg)

3/ The White House learned that Sam Clovis testified before the grand jury from media reports. Last week Clovis testified before the investigating grand jury and was questioned by Robert Mueller's team about his role on Trump’s campaign. Emails between Clovis and George Papadopoulos, whom he supervised, show Clovis encouraging Papadopoulos to engage with his Russian contacts. (ABC News)

4/ Senate Democrats asked Jeff Sessions to clarify his confirmation hearing remarks regarding attempts by the campaign to coordinate a meeting between Trump and Putin. Both the Senate intelligence and judiciary committees asked Sessions to formally clarify his remarks after it was reported that Trump declined to rule out the idea proposed by George Papadopoulos. Sessions weighed in and rejected the proposal to use Papadopoulos' "Russian contacts" to arrange a meeting. During his confirmation testimony, Sessions testified that he was "not aware" of anyone from the Trump campaign communicating with the Russians. (CNN / NBC News)

  • Carter Page met with the House Intelligence Committee in private looking into Russian involvement in the 2016 election. Page originally wanted to be questioned by the panel in public. The committee agreed to release a transcript three days after the interview. (Bloomberg)

  • Paul Manafort wired millions of dollars into the US through a company linked to one of Russia’s most notorious criminals. The Cyprus-based Lucicle Consultants Limited received millions of dollars from a businessman and Ukrainian parliamentarian named Ivan Fursin, who is closely linked to Semion Mogilevich, who is frequently described as "the most dangerous mobster in the world." (The Daily Beast)

5/ Jared Kushner turned over documents from the campaign and the transition to Robert Mueller in recent weeks. The documents are similar to the ones Kushner gave to the Senate Intelligence Committee. Mueller has been asking witnesses about Kushner's role in the firing of FBI Director James Comey. (CNN)

6/ The Justice Department has identified at least six Russian government officials involved in the DNC hack that resulted in thousands of emails being released by WikiLeaks last year. Prosecutors have assembled evidence to charge the Russian officials and could bring a case next year. U.S. intelligence agencies have attributed the hack to Russian intelligence services. (Wall Street Journal)

7/ The hackers who targeted Hillary Clinton's campaign had international targets corresponding with Russian interests. A digital "hit list" shows a multi-year operation that tried to break into the inboxes of 4,700 Gmail accounts worldwide and targeted the emails of Ukrainian officers, Russian opposition leaders, U.S. defense contractors, and more. The list was found by the cybersecurity firm Secureworks after the "Fancy Bear" hacking group forgot to set an active Bitly account to private. One of the experts who reviewed the list described the data as "a master list of individuals whom Russia would like to spy on, embarrass, discredit or silence." (Associated Press)

8/ Robert Mercer, whose money helped elect Trump, will step down as as co-CEO of Renaissance Technologies in an effort to distance himself from Trump. Mercer will also sell his stake in Breitbart to his daughters "for personal reasons." In a letter to investors, Mercer also that he was severing ties with Milo Yiannopoulos, a former Breitbart writer who had cultivated white nationalists and used them to generate ideas on the site. Mercer was also a large financial backer of Cambridge Analytica, a voter-data firm that worked for Trump's campaign. (New York Times / BuzzFeed News / Bloomberg)

9/ Rick Perry suggested that expanding the use of fossil fuels could help prevent sexual assault. "From the standpoint of sexual assault," Perry said. "When the lights are on, when you have light that shines, the righteousness, if you will on those types of acts." The energy secretary also said that while he thinks climate change is real, "I still think the science is out on" whether humans are the cause of it. (The Hill / Axios)

  • U.S. government researchers say that it is "extremely likely" that human activities are the "dominant cause" of global warming, the Climate Science Special Report finds. The conclusions contradict statements by Trump and his Cabinet members, who have openly questioned the role humans play in changing the climate. (NPR)

10/ Elizabeth Warren and Donna Brazile both say the 2016 Democratic primary was "rigged." In an excerpt promoting her upcoming book, Brazile accused Hillary Clinton's campaign of "unethical" conduct that "compromised the party's integrity" through a joint fundraising agreement with the DNC that allegedly gave Clinton control of the "party's finances, strategy, and all the money raised" before she officially won the nomination. Bernie Sanders' campaign also signed its own joint fundraising agreement with the DNC in 2015. Warren agrees that the 2016 Democratic primary was "rigged." (CNN / Washington Post)

poll/ 49% of Americans think Trump likely committed a crime. 58% approve of how special counsel Robert Mueller is handling the investigation. (ABC News)

A look ahead:

  • Trump and Jeff Sessions denied knowing if anybody from the campaign was in contact with the Russians. Records suggest otherwise. (New York Times)

  • Carter Page testified that he told Jeff Sessions about his trip to Russia. (CNN)

Day 286: The lowest point.

1/ Trump did not dismiss the idea of meeting with Putin when it was suggested by George Papadopoulos in March 2016. "He didn't say yes and he didn't say no," according to a person in the room at the time. Jeff Sessions shot down the idea. However, in a July 2016 email to his Russian contact, Papadopoulos proposed a meeting in August or September between "my national chairman and maybe one other foreign policy adviser" and members of Putin's office and Russia's foreign ministry. "It has been approved by our side," Papadopoulos wrote. It's not clear if the meeting ever occurred, but Paul Manafort was the campaign chairman at the time. (CNN / Bloomberg)

  • Paul Manafort and Rick Gates posed a "serious risk of flight," Robert Mueller argued in the pair's bail memo. He requested sizable bail and travel restrictions on the two because of their "substantial overseas ties, including assets held abroad, significant foreign work connections, and significant travel abroad." Manafort's bail was set at $10 million, Gates's at $5 million. Manafort currently has three US passports. Both are on house arrest. (NBC News/ CNN)

  • Speculation: Jeff Sessions may have perjured himself. During his confirmation hearing in January, Sessions was asked "if there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government" during the campaign. Sessions responded: "I’m not aware of any of those activities… I didn’t have – did not have communications with the Russians, and I’m unable to comment on it." (New Republic)

2/ Facebook, Google, and Twitter testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee. It was the second day in a row the tech companies answered questions on Capitol Hill. The tech firms admitted that they could have done more to prevent Russian meddling in the US election. Yesterday, the firms said that content by a Russian troll farm known as the Internet Research Agency sought "to create discord between Americans" during the election, but after the election, the troll farm sought to undermine Trump's legitimacy. (Washington Post / Politico)

  • Members of the House intelligence panel released the social media ads Russia wanted Americans to see. (Politico)

3/ Twitter offered Russian television network RT 15% of its US election advertising inventory for $3 million dollars. The US intelligence community describes RT as "the Kremlin’s principal international propaganda outlet." (BuzzFeed News)

  • As many as 20 million Americans may have seen Russian-backed content on Instagram in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election. (Reuters)

4/ In a call with Steve Bannon, Trump blamed Jared Kushner for his role in decisions that led to Robert Mueller's appointment as special counsel. In the call, Trump complained about Kushner's advice that led to the decisions to fire Michael Flynn and James Comey.

Separately, Roger Stone told Trump that Kushner was giving him bad political advice. A former Trump campaign aide described "Jared [as] the worst political adviser in the White House in modern history," adding that "Trump is at 33 percent [approval] in Gallup. You can’t go any lower. He’s fucked." In a call with the New York Times, Trump said he was "not angry at anybody" and that the investigation into his campaign's links to Russia have "nothing to do with us." (Vanity Fair)

5/ Trump blamed Chuck Schumer for yesterday's terror attack in New York City where a motorist killed several people after driving onto a bicycle path near the World Trade Center memorial. Trump tweeted that "the terrorist came into our country through what is called the 'Diversity Visa Lottery Program,' a Chuck Schumer beauty. I want merit based." Trump added: "I have just ordered Homeland Security to step up our already Extreme Vetting Program. Being politically correct is fine, but not for this!"

In 2013, Schumer was a member of the Senate's Gang of Eight, which proposed to eliminate of the diversity lottery. The bill passed in the Senate but died in the House. Schumer’s response: "I guess it’s not too soon to politicize a tragedy."

Speaking from the Senate floor, Schumer criticized Trump, asking: "President Trump where is your leadership? The contrast between President Bush's actions after 9/11 and President Trump's actions this morning could not be starker." Trump, meanwhile, called the justice system a "joke" and "a laughing stock." (Washington Post / CBS News)

6/ House Republicans delayed the release of their tax bill until Thursday as they try to meet the $1.5 trillion spending limit set by the budget. The tax plan is expected to maintain the top individual tax rate of 39.6%, cut the corporate tax rate to 20%, delay the planned repeal of the estate tax, and limit the individual tax-free contributions to 401(k)s. Trump has insisted that the bill be called the Cut Cut Cut Act and called on Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate as part of its tax overhaul. (NBC News / Wall Street Journal / ABC News)

7/ The EPA barred anyone that receives EPA grant money from serving on panels that counsel the agency on scientific decisions. In doing so, EPA head Scott Pruitt removed six scientists and academics from advisory positions at the EPA. Pruitt is expected to now appoint several industry representatives to the panels. (New York Times / Washington Post)

8/ The Senate confirmed a circuit court nominee who has suggested that Roe v. Wade was an "erroneous decision." Amy Coney Barrett has also called the Affordable Care Act's birth control benefit "an assault on religious liberty." Barrett was confirmed 55-43 to a lifetime position on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit — one level below the Supreme Court. (HuffPost)

poll/ 59% of Americans think this is the lowest point in the nation's history that they can remember. 63% say they are stressed about the nation's future. (American Psychological Association)

Day 285: Covfefe boy.

1/ Trump spent yesterday "seething" as he watched the Mueller probe unfold on TV. The indictments of Paul Manafort and Rick Gates weren't a surprise to Trump, but the guilty plea by George Papadopoulos for making false statements to the FBI was not expected. "The walls are closing in," said a senior Republican in close contact with top Trump staffers. "Everyone is freaking out." (Washington Post / CNN)

2/ Team Trump dismissed Papadopoulos as a "liar," their "coffee boy," and just a "young, low level volunteer" after the former foreign policy adviser cut a plea deal with prosecutors yesterday. In a morning tweet, Trump cast the Manafort charges as a sort of vindication for the campaign, but belittled Papadopoulos as a proven liar, despite having called him "an excellent guy" in March 2016. On CNN's "New Day," Michael Caputo, a former Trump campaign aide, reduced Papadopoulos to a "coffee boy" that "never did anything" for the campaign. (Politico / Washington Post / New York Times)

3/ Court documents show that Papadopoulos shared his Russian outreach with several senior Trump campaign officials. Here's the breakdown:

"The Campaign Supervisor" named in the documents is Sam Clovis, who served as Trump's national campaign co-chairman. Clovis urged Papadopoulos to organize an "off the record" meeting with Russian officials.

The "High-Ranking Campaign Official" named is campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. Papadopoulos wrote to Lewandowski several times to let him know that the Russians were interested in forging a relationship with the campaign, including an email about discussing "Russia’s interest in hosting Mr. Trump."

"Another high-ranking campaign official" is Paul Manafort, who Papadopoulos sent an email to with the subject line "Request from Russia to meet Mr. Trump." Manafort forwarded the email to another campaign official, stating: "We need someone to communicate that DT is not doing these trips," referring to a trip to Russia. "It should be someone low level in the campaign so as not to send any signal." (Washington Post / US v. George Papadopoulos)

  • Carter Page admitted that Russia "may have come up" in his Trump campaign emails, but "nothing major" was discussed. Former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser is scheduled to testify behind closed doors before a House Intelligence Committee panel on Thursday. (CNN / Politico)

4/ Sam Clovis was questioned by Robert Mueller's team last week and testified before the investigating grand jury. Clovis supervised George Papadopoulos during the campaign. The former co-chair and policy adviser to Trump’s campaign was also interviewed recently by the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election. He was described as "a fully cooperative witness." Clovis is Trump's pick to be the Department of Agriculture's chief scientist and is awaiting Senate confirmation. He is not a scientist. (NBC News / Politico)

5/ Hope Hicks will meet with Robert Mueller in mid-November. The White House communications director, and longtime Trump aide, has been at the president's side and in the room since before he launched his presidential campaign. The White House currently expects Mueller to wrap up his interviews by Thanksgiving. (Politico)

6/ Steve Bannon advised Trump to find new lawyers, because he believes that Ty Cobb and John Dowd, the top two attorneys on Trump's legal team, "are asleep at the wheel." Bannon is also pushing Trump to take action against Robert Mueller, urging him to defund the investigation – a move that would curtail Mueller without having to formally fire him. (The Daily Beast /Politico)

7/ Facebook, Twitter, and Google appeared before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee today for the first of three public hearings. Facebook told members that Russians bought 3,000 Facebook ads, which had the potential reach of 126 million users – equivalent to more than half of the total U.S. voting population. Google found 1,108 videos with 43 hours of content related to the Russian effort on YouTube. And Twitter identified 2,752 accounts controlled by Russian operatives and more than 36,000 bots that tweeted 1.4 million times during the election campaign. (Washington Post / Bloomberg / CNN)

  • What You Should Know about the Senate Judiciary Sub-Committee Hearing on Extremist Content and Russian Disinformation Online - Working with Tech to Find Solutions.

8/ House Republicans are rushing to finalize their tax bill before tomorrow's anticipated release. Many key details of the bill, which has been drafted behind closed-doors, have not been finalized and some are worried that the unveiling may have to be postponed. Trump said he wants "the House to pass a bill by Thanksgiving. I want all the people standing by my side when we sign by Christmas." (New York Times / The Hill / Politico)

poll/ 49% of voters support impeaching Trump, to 41% who are opposed to doing so. Of Trump voters, 79% think he should remain in office even if collusion is proven, and 75% claim the entire Russia story is “fake news." (Public Policy Polling)

Day 284: "NO COLLUSION!"

1/ In a 12-count indictment, Robert Mueller charged Paul Manafort and his associate Rick Gates with conspiracy to launder more than $18 million, making false statements to the Justice Department, and other charges stemming from probes into possible Russian influence in US political affairs. The indictment of Manafort, Trump's former campaign chairman, and Gates focused on their work advising a pro-Russia party in Ukraine between 2006 to 2015, laundering money through 2016, and continuing the conspiracy against the US in 2017. The charges – the first by Mueller – make no mention of Trump or Russian election meddling. Both Manafort and Gates surrendered to Justice Department and pleaded not guilty on all counts today. (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Politico)

  • Read the unsealed federal grand jury indictment against Manafort and Gates. (CNN)

  • The 12-count Manafort and Gates indictment, annotated. (Washington Post)

  • A conservative website funded by a major Republican donor was the first to hire Fusion GPS to conduct opposition research on Trump. The Washington Free Beacon, funded in large part by the New York hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer, hired Fusion GPS in October 2015. (New York Times)

2/ Trump's former foreign policy adviser pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about an April 2016 conversation with a professor with close ties to the Russian government that said Moscow had "dirt" on Hillary Clinton in the form of "thousands of emails." George Papadopoulos repeatedly tried to arrange a meeting between the Trump campaign and Russian government officials. Papadopoulos was arrested in July 2017 and has been working with Mueller ever since as a "proactive cooperator," court documents show. The single felony count against Papadopolous directly relates to the 2016 presidential campaign. (New York Times / Bloomberg / NBC News / Politico)

  • Trump, Pence, and Jeff Sessions are schedule to meet today. Sessions was invited to Trump's weekly lunch with Pence. (The Hill)

  • Trump will not interfere with Robert Mueller's investigation or try to fire the former FBI director, Trump's lawyer Jay Sekulow said. Sarah Huckabee Sanders added that Trump has “no intention or plan” to fire Mueller. (Reuters / Politico)

  • Russian agents began reaching out to Trump's campaign as early as March 2016, the Justice Department established in documents released Monday. (NPR)

3/ Trump tweets loud noises in response to the indictment news. Starting Sunday, Trump in a tweet storm challenged Republicans to "DO SOMETHING!" about Obamacare, Hillary Clinton, Democrats, the Fusion GPS dossier, tax cuts, and the Mueller investigation. He continued Monday following the indictments: "Sorry, but this is years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign. But why aren’t Crooked Hillary & the Dems the focus?????" Trump continued: "….Also, there is NO COLLUSION!" The White House added that "today has zero to do with the" Trump campaign. (NBC News / The Hill / Vox)

  • Fox News discussed the cheeseburger emoji instead of the Manafort indictment. (Vox)

4/ Tony Podesta will step down from his lobbying firm after coming under investigation by Robert Mueller. Podesta (the brother of John Podesta) and the Podesta Group had worked on a campaign with Paul Manafort to promote Ukraine's image in the West. Podesta’s decision to leave the firm came on the same day that Manafort and Rick Gates were indicted on multiple charges. The Podesta Group and Mercury Public Affairs are the two unnamed companies in the grand jury indictment of Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, which were referred to as "Company A" and "Company B" in the indictment. (Politico / NBC News)

5/ Puerto Rico cancelled its contract with Whitefish Energy. The $300 million contract awarded to a two-person Montana utility company linked to the Trump administration to repair Puerto Rico's electrical infrastructure has drawn criticism. FEMA said it has "significant concerns" about the contract. (NPR / Washington Post)

  • The FBI is investigating the decision by Puerto Rico’s power authority to award a $300 million contract to a tiny Montana energy firm to rebuild electrical infrastructure damaged in Hurricane Maria. (Wall Street Journal)

6/ More than 50% of Trump’s nominees are tied to the industries they're supposed to regulate. Of the 341 nominations Trump has made to Senate-confirmed administration positions, more than half (179) have some notable conflict of interest. One hundred and five nominees worked in the industries that they were being tasked with regulating; 63 lobbied for, were lawyers for, or otherwise represented industry members that they were being tasked with regulating; and 11 received payments or campaign donations from members of the industry that they were being tasked with regulating. (The Daily Beast)

  • One of Trump’s judicial nominees has been deemed "not qualified" by the American Bar Association. The ABA says members of its standing committee unanimously concluded, with one person abstaining, that Leonard Steven Grasz was not qualified to serve as a federal judge. (Politico)

7/ A federal judge blocked enforcement of Trump's ban on transgender troops in the military. US District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly said Trump's reasons for the ban "do not appear to be supported by any facts." Kollar-Kotelly added that current and aspiring transgender service members "fear that the directives of the Presidential Memorandum will have devastating impacts on their careers and their families." (HuffPost / Washington Post / USA Today)

poll/ 38% of voters approve of Trump's job performance – down five points since September – while 58% of voters disapprove. (NBC News)

poll/ 33% of voters approve of Trump's job performance. 60% disapprove. (Gallup)

Day 281: Significant concerns.

1/ Trump hasn't imposed sanctions on Russia because Rex Tillerson dissolved the office that implements them. After the Coordinator for Sanctions Policy office was eliminated just one mid-level official is now responsible for coordinating the implementation of sanctions across the State Department and other government agencies. The administration missed the October 1st deadline to implement new penalties against Russia, which were adopted by Congress in August. (Foreign Policy / The Hill)

2/ Trump claimed that it's "commonly agreed" that he didn't collude with Russia. Instead, he accused Hillary Clinton of working with the Kremlin amid reports that Clinton and the DNC paid for the dossier of accusations about Trump and his ties to Russia. Trump tweeted that "after many months of COSTLY looking, that there was NO collusion between Russia and Trump. Was collusion with HC!" (Politico / The Hill)

  • Two top Democrats denied knowledge of payments to the firm behind the Trump dossier. Clinton's campaign chairman John Podesta and former DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz both privately told congressional Russia investigators that they did not know who had paid Fusion GPS for opposition research on Trump. (CNN)

3/ Republican lawmakers intend to wind down their Trump-Russia investigations even though the issue of collusion remains unresolved. The Senate Intelligence Committee wants the panel’s investigation to end by February – ahead of the first 2018 primary elections – while the House Intelligence Committee hopes to finish before that. (Politico)

  • Feinstein demands White House hand over details on Russia, Comey firing. "The Judiciary Committee requested documents related to the White House's interactions with FBI Director James Comey regarding the FBI's investigation of alleged ties between President Trump's associates and Russia, or the [Hillary] Clinton email investigation. … To date, we have received no response to these requests," Feinstein wrote in a wide-ranging letter to White House counsel Don McGahn. (The Hill)

4/ The memo Natalia Veselnitskaya brought to the Trump Tower meeting was coordinated with the Kremlin, undercutting the Russian lawyer's claim that she was an independent actor when she sat down with Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort. In the months before the meeting, Veselnitskaya had discussed allegations that Democratic donors were guilty of financial fraud and tax evasion with Russia’s prosecutor general, Yuri Y. Chaika. The memo she brought to the meeting closely followed a document that Chaika’s office had given to Representative Dana Rohrabacher, a California Republican who is considered to be one of the most pro-Russia lawmakers in Congress and who heads a subcommittee that helps oversee U.S. policy toward Russia. (New York Times)

5/ Kellyanne Conway "can’t be bothered" that the Trump campaign's data analytics firm attempted to partner with WikiLeaks. During the campaign, Cambridge Analytica reached out to WikiLeaks about locating Hillary Clinton’s emails. Julian Assange declined to work with the firm. Conway was Trump's campaign manager at the time and said she knows "nothing about that." (The Hill)

  • A Trump donor asked Cambridge Analytica to better organize the Hillary Clinton's emails released by WikiLeaks. Rebekah Mercer wanted to index the WikiLeaks emails to make them more searchable so they could be leveraged by the Trump campaign or a super PAC. (Wall Street Journal)

6/ Trump personally directed the Justice Department to lift an FBI informant's gag order so they could testify to Congress about Russia's attempt to gain influence in the uranium industry in the United States during the Obama administration. The request is unusual for two reasons: 1) The DOJ limits the White House's involvement in criminal law enforcement, and 2) the request is related to Obama and the Clintons.

Before Obama approved the 2010 deal to give Moscow control of a large swath of American uranium, the FBI had evidence showing Russian nuclear officials routing millions of dollars to the US designed to benefit Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation while Hillary Clinton was serving as Secretary of State. She was not involved in the review by the Committee on Foreign Investment, which approved the deal. (CNN / The Hill)

7/ The Whitefish contract with Puerto Rico doesn't allow the government to "audit or review the cost and profit elements" under the agreement. FEMA said in a statement that it was looking into whether the contract "followed applicable regulations to ensure that federal money is properly spent." The statement added that FEMA "has significant concerns over how PREPA [Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority] procured this contract and has not confirmed whether the contract prices are reasonable." (The Hill / Washington Post)

8/ The White House claimed it had no involvement in the Whitefish Energy deal. “This is a contract that was determined by the local authorities in Puerto Rico, not something that the federal government played a role in,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told Trump that "we have no role, the federal government, specifically he had no role in that contract." (Associated Press / Politico)

9/ The White House: All of the women who have accused Trump of sexual harassment are lying. Last week Trump called accusations of sexual harassment by at least 16 women "fake news." During a White House briefing, a reporter asked if the official position is that all of the women are lying. “Yeah," Sanders said, "we’ve been clear on that from the beginning, and the president’s spoken on it." (Washington Post)

Day 280: Bullet.

1/ The House passed its budget blueprint, which maps out the recommended spending and revenue levels for the 2018 fiscal year. No Democrats voted for the budget, which passed 216 to 212. The legislation will also allow Republicans to now pass tax reform and add as much as $1.5 trillion to the deficit over the next decade without any Democratic votes. The deficit for the 2017 fiscal year totaled $666 billion (New York Times / Washington Post)

2/ After months of promises, Trump declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency today – not a national emergency, which would have unlocked federal funding through FEMA's Disaster Relief Fund. Under the Public Health Services Act designation, no federal funding will be automatically directed to the crisis. Federal agencies will, however, be directed to devote more grant money to the problem. Jeff Sessions said that people should just "say no" to opioids while Trump suggested that "really great advertising" will keep kids off drugs. (ABC News / CNN)

3/ Premiums for the most popular Affordable Care Act plan have risen 34% due to the marketplace instability caused by the Trump administration's actions, a report by Avalere Health concluded. Market instability has been driven by Trump’s decision to end subsidy payments to insurers, the continued debate over repeal and replace of the Affordable Care Act, and an executive order allowing for lower cost plans outside of the Obama-era law. (Associated Press)

4/ Congress will investigate the $300 million government contract awarded to a Trump donor. Members of the Natural Resources Committee said "the size and unknown details of this contract raise numerous questions" about how a two-person Montana utility company linked to the Trump administration won the contract to repair Puerto Rico's electrical infrastructure. Whitefish Energy is also located in the hometown of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. (Associated Press)

5/ The Government Accountability Office will investigate Trump's voter fraud commission. Three Democratic senators asked the government watchdog to look how the federal funds are being used, what information and methodology the commission is using for its conclusions, how it is protecting any voter information, and how it is following regulations. (CNN)

  • Georgia election servers and backups were deleted four days after a lawsuit asked the court to annul the results of the June 20 special election for Congress and to prevent Georgia’s existing computer-based voting system from being used again. The data was destroyed July 7th by technicians. (Ars Technica / Associated Press / NBC News)

6/ It's been more than three weeks since the October 1st deadline passed for the White House to imposed new sanctions on Russia. The administration still has not implemented the sanctions that Congress passed with veto-proof majorities in July. The State Department issued guidance on how to implement sanctions shortly after Bob Corker and other Senate Republicans pledged to find out if the White House was intentionally delaying them. Trump signed the bill in early August, imposing new sanctions and limiting his authority to lift them. He called the bill "seriously flawed," but signed it anyway. (The Daily Beast / CNN)

7/ Trump said the soldier's widow must be wrong because he has "one of the greatest memories of all time." Trump suggested that there was no way he could have stumbled on Sgt. La David Johnson's name during his condolence call with Myeshia Johnson, because he has "one of the great memories of all time." That and his staff gave him a chart with the Green Berets name on it. (Slate)

  • Department of Presidential Quotes:

  • I "really started this whole fake news thing." He went on to say that "if you look at the level of approval of the media, of general media—if you look at it from the day I started running, to now, I’m so proud I have been able to convince people how fake it is, because it has taken a nosedive." (CNN)

  • "I think the press makes me more uncivil than I am. You know, people don’t understand. I went to an Ivy League college. I was a nice student. I did very well. I’m a very intelligent person. You know, the fact is I think — I really believe — I think the press creates a different image of Donald Trump than the real person." (Washington Post)

  • "Your show is fantastic," Trump to Lou Dobbs. He added that he watches the program "absolutely almost all the time." Dobbs returned the compliment, calling Trump “one of the most loved and respected” presidents "in history." (Newsweek)

  • Trump has given Fox News 19 interviews since his inauguration. No other media outlet comes close to Fox's level of access. Here's the current score: Fox (19), New York Times (4), NBC News (3), Reuters (3), Wall Street Journal (2), Christian Broadcasting Network (2), ABC News (1), CBS News (1), Washington Post (1), Associated Press (1), Time (1), Forbes (1). (CNN / Politico)

8/ Trump delayed the release of classified documents related to John F. Kennedy's assassination, but approved the immediate release of 2,800 of the 35,000 documents by the National Archives. The rest will remain secret, due to national security concerns by the CIA, FBI and other federal agencies. The intelligence agencies have 180-days to re-review their reasons for keeping the records redacted. The files are the final batch to be released under a 1992 law that ordered the government to make all remaining documents related to the assassination public. While flying to Dallas's Love Field, Trump tweeted that the "long anticipated release" of the files will take place today – the same airport where Kennedy landed just before he was shot. Trump described the files as "so interesting!" (Associated Press / NPR / Washington Post)

  • How to Read the JFK Assassination Files. The government is releasing thousands of long-secret files on Kennedy’s murder. Here are some tips for making sense of all the code names, redactions and confusing jargon. (Politico)

poll/ Democratic candidates lead by 15 points in a hypothetical matchup for the 2018 midterm elections. 50 percent of respondents said that if the election for Congress were held today, they would vote for the Democratic candidate. Only 35 percent said they would vote for a Republican. (The Hill)

poll/ 53% of military officers said they have an unfavorable view of Trump. 40% of all troops have an unfavorable view of Trump. (Military Times)

Day 279: Drain the swamp.

1/ Senate Republicans repealed a rule that allowed Americans to sue their banks and credit card companies in class-action lawsuits. Senators passed the measure by a vote of 50-50, with Pence breaking the tie. The Obama-era rule banned Wall Street banks and credit card companies from inserting arbitration clauses into contracts that prevented consumers from banding together to bring class-action lawsuits. Democrats and consumer advocates called the effort a gift to financial institutions like Wells Fargo and Equifax. (New York Times / CNN)

2/ Business is booming for a private prison company after it contributed to Trump's campaign and moved its company meetings, dinner receptions, and golf outings to Trump National Doral. GEO Group, through a company subsidiary, gave $225,000 to a pro-Trump super PAC and an additional $250,000 to Trump's inaugural committee. It also hired two former aides to Jeff Sessions as outside lobbyists. In exchange, Sessions reversed an Obama-era directive to stop using private prisons, which allowed the company to secure a deal with the government in April worth tens of millions a year. GEO's stock price has tripled since last year. (Washington Post)

3/ Foreign steel imports are up 24% since Trump's "Buy American" pledge. In particular, a Russian steel company has won several pipeline contracts, including the Keystone XL. The biggest shareholder in Evraz North America is an oligarch and Trump family friend. (Bloomberg)

4/ Rick Perry claimed Obama discriminated against the coal and nuclear industries. Perry has proposed rewarding nuclear and coal fired power plants that store 90 days of fuel on site for contributing to the reliability of the power grid. Natural gas producers, renewable energy generators, and public utilities – who rarely agree on anything – have asked regulators to reject the proposal, arguing that the approach would distort markets, inhibit competition, and raise consumer prices. (Reuters / Bloomberg)

5/ The House Ways and Means Committee chairman declined to rule out changes to 401(k) plans despite Trump's promise that there would be "NO change" as part of tax reform. Kevin Brady said he's working with Trump and "we think in tax reform we can create incentives for people to save more and save sooner." Brady will introduce his tax bill when the House passes a budget. Orrin Hatch, the top tax writer in the Senate, also declined to agree with Trump’s vow to protect 401(k) plans. (Washington Post / NBC News)

6/ The head of Cambridge Analytica tried to work with Wikileaks to find Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 deleted emails. Alexander Nix, whose firm worked for Trump’s campaign, wrote an email to Julian Assange asking if the two could work together to find and release Clinton's emails. Assange replied that he didn't want Nix's help. (The Daily Beast)

7/ Paul Manafort is facing a third money laundering probe. The Manhattan US attorney's office is working in collaboration with special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation to look at Trump's former campaign chairman. The state of New York also has its own money laundering investigation going. (Wall Street Journal)

8/ CBO Score: The bipartisan health care bill would reduce the deficit by nearly $4 billion over 10 years. If the insurer subsidies aren't funded, however, the federal deficit would increase by $194 billion by 2026. (The Hill)

  • A judge rejected a request by Democratic attorneys general in 18 states to block Trump's decision to end subsidy payments to health insurers under the Affordable Care Act. U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria in San Francisco said the government does not have to make the payments while litigation over the subsidies unfolds. (Reuters)

9/ The FCC will roll back media consolidation rules designed to preserve media diversity in local markets. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's plan will eliminate a 1975 rule that prevented a single company from owning a TV station and newspaper in the same market. Critics say the move will lead to greater media consolidation and the loss of independent voices, while Pai said it would help struggling media outlets in the age of digital consumption. The FCC could also eliminate a rule that prevents TV stations from merging in the same market in order to ensure a variety of perspectives on the air. (Washington Post / Reuters)

poll/ 56% of voters think Trump is reckless. 35% say Trump is honest. (Politico)

poll/ 64% of Americans support legalizing marijuana, including 51% of Republicans. The Trump administration said February that it viewed recreational marijuana use as a flagrant violation of federal law. (Gallup)

Day 278: Alert the daycare staff.

1/ The Clinton campaign and the DNC helped fund research that resulted in the Trump dossier. A lawyer representing the Clinton campaign and the DNC retained Fusion GPS in April 2016 to conduct the research. Prior to that agreement, Fusion GPS’s research into Trump was funded by a still unknown Republican client during the GOP primary. (Washington Post)

2/ The firm behind the Trump dossier asked a judge to block the House Intelligence Committee from obtaining its bank records. Fusion GPS argues that the committee's subpoena threatens the First Amendment rights of the journalists who compiled the dossier by revealing the identities of clients who sought political research from the firm, and poses an "existential threat" to the company. (Politico)

3/ Two House panels opened a joint investigation into the Justice Department's actions during the 2016 campaign. The House Judiciary Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman said their investigation will look at FBI decisions regarding Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified information and the FBI's investigation into Trump campaign associates. (Reuters / Politico)

4/ Rematch: The feud between Trump and Bob Corker was relit ahead of the president's critical meeting with Senate Republicans on taxes after Corker appeared on both NBC's "Today" show and ABC's "Good Morning America." He said Trump should "step aside" from tax reform, stop "kneecap[ing] your secretary of state," and "leave it to the professionals for a while and see if we can do something that's constructive for our country."

Trump tweeted that Corker was trying to stymie his agenda, called him a "lightweight," and charged that Corker "couldn't get elected dog catcher in Tennessee" – whatever that means. Corker replied on Twitter: "Same untruths from an utterly untruthful president. #AlertTheDaycareStaff."

Then, in an interview with CNN, Corker escalated his criticism, calling Trump a serial liar, saying he regretted supporting him for president, accused him of debasing the country, and refused to say whether he trusted Trump with the nuclear codes. In an interview with ABC News, Corker stopped short of calling Trump a liar. Instead, he characterized Trump as "utterly untruthful."

Senator Thom Tillis brought a bag of popcorn to the tax luncheon in a nod to the ongoing Corker-Trump spectacle within the party. (The Hill / Washington Post / Politico)

  • Paul Ryan: people should ignore the "Twitter this and Twitter that" and focus on the legislative actions taken by Congress. "So all this stuff you see on a daily basis on Twitter this and Twitter that, forget about it," Ryan said. "Let's focus on helping people, improving people's lives, and doing what we said we would do that accomplishes that. That's what we're focused on." (Business Insider)

5/ Jeff Flake announced that will not run for re-election, saying he "will no longer be complicit or silent" in the face of Trump's "reckless, outrageous and undignified" behavior. The Republican senator delivered a 17-minute speech on the Senate floor less than an hour after Trump met with Republicans for lunch, saying the "stability of the entire world [is] routinely threatened by the level of thought that goes into 140 characters" and to "do nothing in the face of such mercurial behavior is ahistoric" and "profoundly misguided." (New York Times / CNN)

  • The full transcript of Jeff Flake’s retirement speech. “None of this is normal,” Flake said. “And what do we, as United States senators, have to say about it? The principles that underlie our politics, the values of our founding, are too vital to our identity and survival to allow them to be compromised by the requirements of politics, because politics can make us silent when we should speak and silence can equal complicity.” (Vox)

6/ Mitch McConnell and John McCain praised Flake's speech, while Sarah Huckabee Sanders characterized it as "petty," adding: "I don't think Sen Flake’s language was befitting of the Senate floor." (The Hill / CNN)

7/ A two-person Montana utility company linked to the Trump administration won a $300 million contract to repair Puerto Rico's electrical infrastructure. The private-equity firm that finances Whitefish Energy was founded by Joe Colonnetta, who contributed $20,000 to the Trump Victory PAC during the general election, $2,700 to Trump’s primary election campaign, $2,700 to Trump’s general election campaign, and a total of $30,700 to the Republican National Committee in 2016. Whitefish Energy is also located in the hometown of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who is friends with the Whitefish CEO Andy Techmanski. (Washington Post / The Daily Beast)

  • Zinke funneled millions to questionable PACs. The Interior secretary has helped raise money for political operatives that some Republicans accuse of collecting donations from conservative voters while doing little for their cause. (Politico)

8/ Trump has personally attacked 1 in 5 Republican senators: Bob Corker, Ted Cruz, Jeff Flake, Lindsey Graham, Dean Heller, John McCain, Mitch McConnell, Lisa Murkowski, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Ben Sasse have all drawn Trump's ire. Republicans hold a 52-48 advantage in the Senate and can only afford to lose two votes on any piece of legislation. (CNN)

9/ Trump's personal lawyer met with the House Intelligence Committee today. Michael Cohen emailed Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, during the presidential campaign seeking help getting a Trump Tower built in Moscow. Peskov said he never responded to the email. (NBC News)

10/ The Trump administration will allow refugees admission from all countries, but with new rules to better vet applicants. Refugee admissions had been halted in June for 120 days as part of Trump's travel ban. The administration will now collect more personal data, such as names of family members and places of employment, as well as mine social media posts. (Wall Street Journal)

poll/ 55% of white Americans believe they face discrimination, although only 19% of white people say they have been personally discriminated against when apply for a job. (NPR)

poll/ 35% of Americans feel that diversity initiatives have left out white men. Of that group, 62% said they thought white men were missing promotions and other advancement opportunities. (Washington Post)

Day 277: Outdated, unnecessary, ineffective.

1/ Betsy DeVos rescinded 72 guidelines that protect the rights of disabled students under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the Rehabilitation Act. The Department of Education called the policies "outdated, unnecessary, or ineffective." During her confirmation hearing in January, DeVos said she was "confused" about the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act when asked whether she supported it. DeVos said she thought it was best "left to the states," but "is certainly worth discussion." (Washington Post / VICE News)

2/ Congress let funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program expire 23 days ago. The program's budget lapsed on September 1st, which provides low-cost health insurance to 9 million children. While there is no evidence that any children have lost coverage, there are roughly 4 million CHIP enrollees living in states whose programs are at risk of losing coverage. (Vox / Politico)

3/ Trump rush-shipped condolence letters to military families last week after he falsely claimed he had called or written letters to "virtually all" of the families. Four families of fallen soldiers received next-day UPS letters from Trump two days after Trump told the widow of a fallen soldier "he knew what he signed up for." (The Atlantic)

4/ Trump "stumbl[ed] on my husband's name" in his condolence call to the widow of the fallen soldier. Myeshia Johnson told "Good Morning America" she was "very angry at the tone of [Trump's] voice and couldn't remember my husband's name" during the same call where Trump said the solider "knew what he signed up for." Trump defended himself on Twitter, saying: "I had a very respectful conversation with the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, and spoke his name from beginning, without hesitation!" (ABC News / NPR / Washington Post)

5/ Senators didn't know there were 1,000 troops in Niger. Lindsey Graham, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said "I didn’t know there was a thousand troops in Niger" when asked about whether Congress needed to vote on an Authorization of Use of Military Force for the mission that left four Green Berets dead. He added: "The military determines who the threats are, they come up with the engagement policy and if we don’t like what the military does, we can defund the operation." Chuck Schumer also admitted that he didn't know about the number of troops in Niger. (The Daily Beast)

6/ Trump dismissed the House Republicans' plan to limit 401(k) contributions as part of their effort to rewrite the tax code. The plan could cap pre-tax 401(k) contributions at $2,400 annually. "There will be NO change to your 401(k)," Trump tweeted. "This has always been a great and popular middle class tax break that works, and it stays!" (Reuters / New York Times)

  • Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee are considering retaining the income tax rate for people who earn $1 million or more per year. The current thinking is that people who earn between $418,000 and $999,999 will have their tax rate reduced from 39.6% to 35%, but those earning $1 million or more will not. (Axios)

  • Ivanka Trump characterized the Republicans' tax reform plan as good for working middle-class families. "For me this tax plan really couples two things that are really core values as a country, which is work and supporting the American family," Ivanka said. "We have to support the American worker, we have to create jobs, we have to create growth, but we also have to support that American worker’s family." (Politico)

7/ The EPA blocked three agency scientists from discussing climate change at a conference. The scientists contributed substantial material to a 400-page report about how climate change is affecting air and water temperatures, precipitation, sea level and fish in and around the Narragansett Bay estuary. The EPA helped fund the report. (New York Times)

  • Scott Pruitt's security detail is adding a dozen more agents as the number of threats against the EPA head has increased "four to five times." Pruitt has also purchased a secure soundproof communications booth for his office at a cost of nearly $25,000, even though similar rooms already exist at the EPA. Congress has said the costs are a "potential waste or abuse of taxpayer dollars" and that "taxpayer funds are being misused." (CNN)

8/ Trump's digital director will meet with the House Intelligence Committee about Russian meddling in last year’s election. It will be Brad Parscale’s first interview with any of the committees investigating the matter. Parscale claimed that Facebook, Google, and Twitter employees were "embedded" inside the Trump campaign. (Reuters)

  • Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating a Democratic lobbying firm about whether it violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Tony Podesta (the brother of John Podesta) and the Podesta Group had worked on a campaign that Paul Manafort had organized to promote the Ukraine's image in the West. John Podesta is not currently affiliated with the Podesta Group and is not part of Mueller's investigation. (NBC News)

9/ Trump will spend at least $430,000 of his own money to cover the legal costs his aides have incurred related to the Russia investigation. The RNC has paid roughly $430,000 to lawyers representing Trump and Trump Jr. The White House said Trump has pledged to spend the same amount, from his personal finances, "to defray the costs of legal fees for his associates, including former and current White House aides." (Axios / Washington Post)

10/ The State Department revoked the visa of a Putin critic after Russia placed Bill Browder on Interpol's wanted list. Browder was responsible for the Magnitsky Act, a law aimed at punishing Russian officials believed responsible for the death in a Moscow prison of Sergei Magnitsky. In response to the Magnitsky Act, Russia cut off the US adoption of Russian children, which was the premise for the Trump Tower meeting between the Russian lawyer and representatives of the Trump campaign. (NPR / The Guardian / The Hill)

UPDATE:

The US rejected Russia's criminal complaint against Browder and allowed him into the country. The initial action blocking Browder had been taken automatically in response to an Interpol notice filed against him by Russia and was not an affirmative action by the American government. (New York Times)

11/ Chuck Schumer said "all 48 Democrats" in the Senate are on board with the bipartisan health care deal. Mitch McConnell, meanwhile, said he would bring the Alexander-Murray bill to the floor if Trump signals that he would sign the legislation aimed at stabilizing health insurance markets. Last week Trump tweeted that he could never support the bill, which he characterized as "bailing out" insurance companies. (NBC News / Politico)

12/ Trump signed an executive order on Friday that would allow the Air Force to recall 1,000 retired pilots in order to address what the Pentagon says is a pilot shortage. The order amends a post-9/11 emergency declaration that allows the Air Force to recall pilots from retirement. The Air Force is currently short approximately 1,500 pilots. (The Hill / Washington Post)

  • The Air Force denied that it is preparing to put nuclear-armed bombers on 24-hour ready alert. On Sunday, it was reported that the Air Force could put its fleet of B-52 bombers on "a ready-to-fly posture" for the first time since 1991. An Air Force spokesperson said: "We are not planning or preparing to put B-52s on alert." (CNBC)

13/ Trump’s voter fraud commission has left Democratic members in the dark about what it’s doing. Two of the commission’s four Democrats have written letters to its executive director, asking for basic information such as when the panel might meet again, what kind of research is being conducted, and when it might send a report to Trump. (Washington Post)

poll/ 42% of voters approve of the job Trump is doing, while 58% disapprove. (The Hill)

Day 274: Elected by the American people.

1/ The Senate approved its budget by a 51 to 49 vote. The spending blueprint will allow Republicans to use a procedural maneuver to pass tax reform in the Senate with just 50 votes while avoiding a Democratic filibuster. The House and Senate need to pass identical budgets in order for Republicans to sidestep the Senate’s typical 60-vote threshold for passage. Trump tweeted: "We got ZERO Democrat votes with only Rand Paul (he will vote for Tax Cuts) voting against. This now allows for the passage of large scale Tax Cuts (and Reform), which will be the biggest in the history of our country!" (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico)

2/ Trump falsely attributed a spike in UK crime to a "spread of Radical Islamic terror," tweeting that the 13% year-over-year increase in crime was "not good, we must keep America safe!" A report by the UK Office for National Statistics made no link between rising crime and terrorism, but instead showed a double-digit increases in violent crimes, such as gun crime, knife crime, and sexual offenses. (The Guardian)

3/ Putin called on Americans to respect Trump. "Inside the country, disrespect is shown for him. This is a regrettable negative component of the U.S. political system," Putin said. He continued, saying that "Trump was elected by the American people. And at least for this reason, it is necessary to show respect for him, even if you do not agree with some of his positions." Putin's comments came the same day that U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley accused the Russian government of committing "warfare" against the United States. (The Hill)

4/ A federal judge refused to void Joe Arpaio’s conviction despite Trump's pardon. U.S. District Judge Susan Ritchie Bolton said Trump's pardon does not "revise the historical facts" of his case and that she will not vacate her ruling. Arpaio had been found guilty of criminal contempt of a federal court order for his failure to stop detaining individuals on the basis of their suspected immigration status. (NPR / Washington Post)

5/ The EPA removed from its website climate change resources that local governments used to address climate change, curb emissions, and devise strategies for adapting to weather extremes. An EPA spokesman said the resources have been archived and are available by searching through the agency’s archive. (New York Times)

6/ The FBI has joined the investigation into the ambush that left four Green Berets dead after the 12-member team was attacked by 50 ISIS fighters in Niger two weeks ago. Investigators are questioning whether US forces had adequate resources for what Defense Secretary Jim Mattis called an "unlikely" attack. A senior congressional aide characterized the ambush as a "massive intelligence failure."

The troops were engaged in a firefight for 30 minutes and relied on French military for air support, which made low-pass flyovers in an attempt to disperse the attackers. It did not have permission to drop bombs.

Private contractors used helicopters to evacuate the injured and dead, but Army Sgt. La David Johnson was somehow left behind for almost two days before his remains were found.

Trump waited nearly two weeks before mentioning the Niger incident, even though his staff had drafted a statement of condolence for him on October 5th. Some have asked if this is Trump's Benghazi.

Yesterday, John McCain threatened to use a Senate Armed Services Committee subpoena in order to get more information about the attack, which prompted Mattis to meet with McCain today.

Mattis said the "US military does not leave its troops behind," but did not provide additional details into why Johnson's body was initially left behind. (Wall Street Journal / CNN / Politico)

7/ Trump called a congresswoman "wacky" and said she told a "total lie" about his call to the widow of a solider killed in Niger. "The Fake News is going crazy with wacky Congresswoman Wilson(D), who was SECRETLY on a very personal call, and gave a total lie on content!" Trump tweeted. Frederica Wilson said Trump told the widow her husband "knew what he signed up for" in a condolence call. (Politico)

Day 273: Who knows.

1/ George W. Bush all but called Trump a threat to democracy, saying "bigotry seems emboldened. Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication." He called bigotry "blasphemy against the American creed" and that the "identity of our nation depends on the passing of civic ideals to the next generation." He did not mention Trump by name. (Politico / New York Times)

2/ Trump suggested that the Democratic Party, the FBI, or the Kremlin paid for the dossier alleging ties between him and the Russian government. "Workers of firm involved with the discredited and Fake Dossier take the 5th," Trump tweeted. "Who paid for it, Russia, the FBI or the Dems (or all)?" Two officials from Fusion GPS, the firm behind the dossier, invoked their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination and refused to answer questions from the House Intelligence Committee yesterday. (Politico)

3/ CIA Director Mike Pompeo falsely claimed Russian meddling didn't affect the election results. A US intelligence report released in January concluded that Moscow’s aims were to undermine the democratic process and help elect Trump. It did not reach a conclusion about whether meddling had altered the outcome, because the question was considered out of the scope of the report. (Washington Post / NBC News)

4/ Trump's former campaign manager met with the Senate Intelligence Committee for a closed-door interview. Corey Lewandowski said earlier this year that he did not have any contact with Russian officials, but if there was contact, it was made by Manafort or others on the campaign and Trump didn't know about it. (CNN)

  • Jeff Sessions declined to answer questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee about his conversations with Trump before he fired James Comey. As with his June testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sessions cited Trump's executive privilege for his refusal to answer questions. (New York Times)

5/ On November 1st, the general counsel for both Facebook and Twitter will testify before the House and Senate intelligence committees on Russia's use of technology to try to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. Google, which was also invited, has not said if it will send a representative to testify. (NBC News / The Hill)

  • The Internet Research Agency used Russian trolls to co-opt unwitting American activists to stoke fear and influence the election. Two online groups — BlackMattersUS and BlackFist — were among those used by Russian operators to encourage activists to help organize rallies, train in self-defense, and create music videos. In some cases, those activists even received financial support. (ABC News)

6/ John McCain and two Democratic senators will introduce a bill requiring Facebook, Google, and other internet companies to disclose who is purchasing political ads to the election commission. The tech industry has resisted previous efforts to mandate advertising disclosures, saying the ads on their platforms were too small to fit the disclaimers. (New York Times)

7/ Senate Republicans are set to pass their $4 trillion budget plan, which would serve as a vehicle for tax reform later this year without Democratic support. Trump endorsed the plan, tweeting that it is the "first step toward massive tax cuts" but suggested he's not confident of the measure's passage. "I think we have the votes, but who knows?" (ABC News / Fox News)

8/ John Kelly didn't know Trump would publicize that Obama didn't call when his son died. Kelly and the White House were caught off-guard by Trump using the death of Kelly's son to defend his handling of four soldiers killed in Niger. Kelly also defended Trump's condolence call to the widow of a fallen soldier where Trump said the solider "knew what he signed up for." (CNN / New York Times)

9/ Trump sent the $25,000 check to the fallen soldier's family the same day it was reported that he never did. The Washington Post reported that Trump had promised the soldier's father a personal donation during a June condolence call but had never followed through. (CNN)

10/ Trump gives himself 10/10 for his response to Puerto Rico, which he called "worse than Katrina." He said his administration has done "a really great job." 30% of the island doesn't have access to drinking water and 80% are still without power. (ABC News / HuffPost)

poll/ 42% of Americans think Trump will be remembered as one of worst presidents in history. 16% think Trump will be remembered as a below average leader. (Marist)

Day 272: Knew what he signed up for.

1/ Trump denied telling the widow of a fallen soldier "he knew what he signed up for," contradicting a Florida congresswoman who was with the woman at the time. "Basically, he said, 'Well, I guess he knew what he signed up for," Congresswoman Frederica Wilson said, recounting the conversation she heard on speakerphone. "But I guess it still hurt.' That's what he said."

Trump tweeted that the "Democrat Congresswoman totally fabricated what I said to the wife of a soldier who died in action (and I have proof)," raising questions about whether Trump tapes calls and conversations. Sarah Sanders said there is no recording of the call, adding that Wilson's conduct is "appalling and disgusting." The mother of the fallen soldier stood behind Wilson's account, saying that Trump "did disrespect" the family with his comments during the call. (Washington Post / ABC News / CNN)

2/ The White House had drafted a statement of sympathy following the ambush in Niger where four Green Berets were killed. Trump never issued the statement, which was circulated to the National Security Council and Defense Department. On Monday, Trump was asked why he had not spoken publicly about the deaths. He defended himself by saying he'd written letters, and then lied that Obama and other past presidents had never or rarely called the families of troops who died. (Politico)

3/ Trump offered a grieving military father $25,000 and said he would establish an online fundraiser for the family. Neither happened. The father said the White House sent a condolence letter from Trump instead. "I opened it up and read it, and I was hoping to see a check in there, to be honest," the father said. A White House spokesperson said "the check has been sent," adding that "It’s disgusting that the media is taking something that should be recognized as a generous and sincere gesture, made privately by the President, and using it to advance the media’s biased agenda." (Washington Post)

4/ Trump backed off his support for the bipartisan healthcare deal, tweeting he could never support legislation "bailing out" insurance companies "who have made a fortune" from Obamacare. The comment comes a day after Trump embraced the deal as "a short-term solution so that we don’t have this very dangerous little period." The chairman of the Senate health committee said Trump "completely engineered the plan" to fund subsidies for health insurers, but "wants to reserve his options." (New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Axios)

5/ Paul Ryan does not support the Alexander-Murray healthcare bill. Ryan's press secretary said "The speaker does not see anything that changes his view that the Senate should keep its focus on repeal and replace of Obamacare." (Axios)

6/ A second federal judge blocked Trump's latest travel ban attempt citing Trump's tweets as evidence the policy carries the same intent as his Muslim ban proposal. The Maryland judge granted a nationwide preliminary injunction against the latest iteration of the travel ban, following a similar order by a federal judge in Hawaii. District Court Judge Theodore Chuang said the administration had "not shown that national security cannot be maintained without an unprecedented eight-country travel ban." (Politico / Washington Post)

7/ Trump tweeted that James Comey had prematurely exonerated Hillary Clinton "long before [the] investigation was complete" into her private email use. The FBI released emails that indicate Comey had drafted a statement about ending the investigation two months before he announced he would not to seek charges. "Wow, FBI confirms report that James Comey drafted letter exonerating Crooked Hillary Clinton long before investigation was complete," Trump tweeted. "James Comey lied and leaked and totally protected Hillary Clinton." (Washington Post / Associated Press)

8/ Jeff Sessions appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee and defended Trump's firing of James Comey. He linked the FBI director’s dismissal to his handling of the Hillary Clinton email server investigation. Sessions refused to discuss private conversations he had with Trump that led up to Comey’s firing. The attorney general also said he hasn't been interviewed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, yet. (Associated Press)

9/ Democrats asked the chairman of the House oversight committee to subpoena the White House for documents related to Michael Flynn and his company the Flynn Intel Group. "[T]he White House has been openly defying this Committee’s bipartisan request for documents regarding General Flynn for months without any assertion of privilege of any kind," 18 Democrats wrote in a 10-page letter to Trey Gowdy. "We believe that this paper trail must be pursued to answer the gravest questions of all — did General Flynn seek to change the course of our country’s national security to benefit the private interests he previously promoted?" A Gowdy aide said he was reviewing whether the White House’s limited response to previously inquiries was sufficient. (Politico)

10/ An exiled Russian oligarch believes Putin tried to collaborate with the Trump campaign. "I am almost convinced that Putin's people have tried to influence the U.S. election in some way," Mikhail Khodorkovsky said. He added that the Russian banker Jared Kushner met with last December was not "acting on his own behalf." (NBC News)

11/ Several Republicans have called for the three congressional Russia investigations to end this year. The GOP members contend that the Democrats on a fishing expedition, which Trump has called a "witch hunt." Democrats say they don't want to rush testimony from witnesses. (CNN)

12/ A federal judge ordered the Trump administration to allow an undocumented teenager to get an abortion. The pregnant teenager, who was apprehended crossing the border from Mexico illegally last month, was being held in a federally funded shelter in South Texas where Trump administration officials had prevented the shelter from allowing her to travel to an abortion provider. The judge said she was “astounded” at the government’s position that the teen’s only options were to either carry the unwanted pregnancy to term or go back to her home country. (BuzzFeed News / Washington Post)

poll/ 46% of voters believe the news media fabricates stories about Trump and his administration. 76% of Republican voters think the news media invents stories about Trump compared to 65% of Democrats who think the news media does not. (Politico)

poll/ 52% of Americans oppose Trump's recent tax reform proposal while 34% say they support the plan. The tax plan would consolidate the number of tax rates from seven to three: 12%, 25% and 35%. The plan would also increase the standard deduction, increase the child tax credit, repeal the alternative minimum tax, and drop the corporate tax rate to 20%, which could increase the deficit by $1.5 trillion over 10 years. (CNN)

Day 271: Half-baked nationalism.

1/ John McCain condemned Trump's "America First" policy as "half-baked, spurious nationalism" and charged that Trump would "rather find scapegoats than solve problems." McCain's remarks came as he was honored with the Liberty Medal by the National Constitution Center. While he didn't refer to Trump or his administration by name, McCain added that it's unpatriotic to "abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe" and to "refuse the obligations of international leadership." (CNN / Washington Post)

2/ Trump warned McCain "to be careful because at some point I fight back," adding that "I’m being very, very nice but at some point I fight back and it won’t be pretty." McCain’s response: "I have faced tougher adversaries." (Associated Press)

3/ Trump falsely claimed that Obama didn't call the families of troops killed in the line of duty. "If you look at President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn’t make calls," Trump said in response to a question about why he had not publicly acknowledged the four Green Berets killed in an ambush in Niger two weeks ago. "A lot of them didn’t make calls. I like to call when it’s appropriate."

Obama’s former aides were quick to respond: Eric Holder tweeted that Trump needs to "Stop the damn lying - you’re the President." And Benjamin Rhodes, a former deputy national security adviser, called Trump's claim an "outrageous and disrespectful lie even by Trump standards." Trump offered no evidence to back up his claim. (New York Times / Reuters)

4/ Trump told reporters to ask John Kelly if Obama called him after his son died in Afghanistan. "As far as other presidents," Trump said, "I don't know, you could ask Gen. Kelly, did he get a call from Obama? I don't know what Obama's policy was." He added that "I really speak for myself. I am not speaking for other people. I don't know what (George W.) Bush did. I don't know what Obama did." Kelly's son died after he stepped on a landmine in 2010. (CNN)

  • A senior White House official said John Kelly "did not receive a call" from Obama after his son was killed in Afghanistan. Kelly and his wife, however, attended a 2011 White House event for Gold Star families, and sat at Michelle Obama's table. (Axios)

5/ Senators have agreed "in principle" to a bipartisan deal to fund subsidies for health insurers and stabilize insurance markets under the Affordable Care Act. Trump had threatened to cut off the payments which lower out-of-pocket costs for low-income consumers. The deal will fund subsidies for two years, providing short-term certainty to insurers. (New York Times / ABC News)

6/ Putin's "chef" is believed to have financed the Russian "troll factory" that used social media to spread fake news during the 2016 US presidential campaign. Yevgeny Prigozhin is a Russian oligarch and the main backer of the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency. A declassified assessment by US intelligence concluded in January that the "likely financier of the so-called Internet Research Agency of professional trolls located in Saint Petersburg is a close Putin ally with ties to Russian intelligence." It did not name Prigozhin directly. Prigozhin was at one point, allegedly, Putin's "personal chef," in addition to having catering contracts with Russia's armed forces. He also once served caviar and truffles to George W. Bush during a summit in St. Petersburg. (CNN)

7/ Sean Spicer met with Robert Mueller's team on Monday for an interview that lasted most of the day. Spicer was asked about the firing of former FBI director James Comey, his statements regarding the firing, and Trump’s meetings with Russians officials, including Sergei Lavrov in the Oval Office. (Politico)

8/ The Senate Intelligence Committee subpoenaed Carter Page as part of its investigation into Russia meddling in the 2016 election. Page previously said he would not cooperate and would invoke his Fifth Amendment rights and refuse to answer questions. (NBC News)

9/ The Senate Intelligence Committee has requested documents and testimony from Michael Flynn's son. They have not received a response yet. Michael G. Flynn was involved in the day-to-day operations of Flynn Intel Group and served as his father's chief of staff. The committee could issue a subpoena if he doesn’t comply, but he would likely assert his right against self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment. The younger Flynn is also the subject of Robert Mueller's criminal and counterintelligence investigation. (NBC News)

  • The content ad network Outbrain is investigating whether Russian ads or other forms of election tampering took place on its service during the 2016 election. Outbrain reaches more than 550 million visitors per month via content recommendation modules on websites of publishers such as CNN, People, and ESPN. Outbrain is “currently conducting a thorough investigation specific to election tampering and continue[s] to monitor our index,” the company said in a statement. (BuzzFeed News)

10/ A federal judge in Hawaii has blocked Trump's third attempt to implement his travel ban, which was set to go into effect Wednesday. The order was found to discriminate on the basis of nationality. Judges said the two earlier attempts were motivated by bias against Muslims. (Bloomberg / Axios)

11/ Trump's nominee for drug czar has withdrawn his name from consideration after it was reported the lawmaker guided legislation in Congress that made it harder for the DEA to act against giant drug companies. "Rep.Tom Marino has informed me that he is withdrawing his name from consideration as drug czar," Trump tweeted. "Tom is a fine man and a great Congressman!" (CBS News / Washington Post)

12/ The EPA issued new guidelines that claim higher radiation levels "usually" pose "no harmful health effects." The change is part of the EPA's "guidance" on messaging and communications in the event of a nuclear power plant meltdown or dirty bomb attack, and sets a level of acceptable radiation ten times the drinking water standard for radiation recommended under Obama. A 2007 version of the same document said that no level of radiation is safe and concluded that "the current body of scientific knowledge tells us this." (Bloomberg)

13/ Scott Pruitt directed the EPA to stop settling lawsuits with environmental groups behind closed doors, saying the groups have had too much influence on regulation. Pruitt sued the agency he now runs more than a dozen times while he was the attorney general of Oklahoma. The practice of "sue and settle" is used by green groups to push the EPA to speed up regulation on issues such as air and water pollution, as well as climate change. (Reuters)

14/ A group of 18 Democratic attorneys general are suing Betsy DeVos over the Education Department's refusal to enforce regulation meant to protect students from predatory career college programs. DeVos froze an Obama-era rule called "gainful employment." The rule would have cut off federal financial aid funding from for-profit colleges that leave students with low incomes and massive debt. (BuzzFeed News / The Hill)

poll/ 46% of American believe things in the country are going well, down from 53% in August. Trump's approval stands at 37% with 57% who disapprove – almost identical to his approval rating in late September. (CNN)

Day 270: Season of war.

1/ Mitch McConnell and Trump met for lunch today after Steve Bannon called for a "season of war" against the Senate majority leader and the rest of the GOP establishment. Bannon compared McConnell to Julius Caesar and vowed to challenge any Senate Republican who doesn’t publicly condemn attacks on Trump. “Yeah, Mitch, the donors are not happy. They’ve all left you. We’ve cut your oxygen off,” Bannon said. (Politico / The Guardian / CNN)

2/ After his meeting with McConnell, Trump said they are "closer than ever before." Trump also said he would try to talk Bannon out of declaring war on "some" of his primary targets saying, "I'm going to see if we can talk him out of that, because I think they're great people." (Axios / CNN)

3/ Rex Tillerson refused to answer whether he called Trump a "moron," dismissing the question as the "petty stuff" of Washington. Meanwhile, Trump tweeted that Tillerson "is wasting his time" trying to talk with North Korea, and Bob Corker charged that Trump had "publicly castrate[d]" him. "I checked," Tillerson said, "I’m fully intact." (Washington Post / NBC News)

  • The next CIA director could be Tom Cotton if Trump replaces Tillerson with current CIA Director Mike Pompeo. (Axios)

4/ Robert Mueller’s team interviewed Reince Priebus. The former chief of staff was present for many key moments, including Trump's efforts to limit questions about Russian meddling in the election and the discussions that led to James Comey’s firing. (Washington Post)

5/ Paul Manafort's financial ties to a Russian oligarch total around $60 million over the past decade. Previously unreported documents revealed a $26 million loan between a Manafort-linked company and Oleg Deripaska, a billionaire with close ties to the Kremlin. (NBC News)

6/ Trump said that Pence "wants to hang" all gay people. The comment, an apparent joke, came after a legal scholar told the two that if the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, many states would legalize abortion on their own. "You see? You've wasted all this time and energy on it, and it's not going to end abortion anyway," Trump said to Pence. The conversation then turned to gay rights and Trump motioned toward Pence and said, "Don’t ask that guy—he wants to hang them all!" (The New Yorker)

  • Jeff Sessions sent a federal hate crimes lawyer to help prosecute a man charged with murdering a transgender high school student. Sessions has spoken out against same-sex marriage, voted against expanding federal hate crimes laws to protect transgender people, directed the Justice Department to no longer protects gay or transgender people from workplace discrimination, and reversed a policy encouraging schools to let transgender students use bathrooms that fit their gender identities. (New York Times)

7/ Trump's top allies aren't sure if he realizes his feuds with Republicans and lack of legislative wins are putting his presidency at risk. Top White House aides, lawmakers, donors, and political consultants have privately wondered if Trump grasps that losing the House next year could bring on new subpoenas, an intense focus on the Russia investigation, and possible impeachment proceedings. (CNN)

8/ Eighteen states sued the Trump administration to stop him from scrapping subsidies to insurers that help millions of low-income people pay medical expenses. Trump said he would dismantle the Affordable Care Act "step by step," which prompted Adam Schiff to tweet that "Trump is the worst President in modern history," accusing him of "deliberately undermining people’s health care out of spite." The 18 states and District of Columbia are asking the court to force Trump to make the next payment, but legal experts say they face an uphill battle in court. (Reuters / The Hill)

  • poll/ 66% think it is more important for Trump and Congress to work to improve the ACA marketplaces rather than continue their efforts to repeal and replace the 2010 health care law. (Kaiser Health Tracking Poll)

9/ Steven Mnuchin: repealing the estate tax "disproportionately helps rich people." The Treasury secretary's concession contradicts what Trump said about the estate tax last month: "To protect millions of small businesses and the American farmer, we are finally ending the crushing, the horrible, the unfair estate tax, or as it is often referred to, the death tax." (New York Times)

9/ A woman who said Trump groped her has subpoenaed his campaign for documents about "any woman alleging that Donald J. Trump touched her inappropriately." Trump has denied her accusations and is fighting the subpoena, calling the accusations "lies, lies, lies." Trump's lawyers have sought to have the suit by the former "The Apprentice" contestant dismissed or at least delayed until he is out of office. (BuzzFeed News / NBC News)

10/ The firm behind the Trump dossier is objecting to subpoenas issued by the House Intelligence Committee to the partners who run Fusion GPS and questioned whether Chairman Devin Nunes, who recused himself from the investigation earlier this year, was authorized to issue them. The firm claims the subpoenas violate the First Amendment and would “chill” future opposition research. A lawyer for Fusion GPS called the subpoenas "a clear abuse of power" that were "designed to obfuscate the facts and conjure up rank conspiracy theories at the behest of the president and his most obsequious allies in Congress." (Bloomberg)

11/ Trump will declare a national opioid crisis next week and will be "looking into" his drug czar nominee after it was reported that Tom Marino helped guide legislation that weakened the DEA's ability to go after drug distributors, even as opioid-related deaths continued to rise. The law makes it very difficult for the DEA to stop suspicious drug distribution companies supplying doctors and pharmacists who sell narcotics to the black market. The drug industry worked behind the scenes with lobbyists and members of Congress, pouring more than a million dollars into their election campaigns. (Washington Post)

poll/ 58% of Americans believe the current reforms being discussed would favor the rich, while 18% think they would favor the middle class and 19% feel the changes would treat all equally. (CBS News)

Day 267: Imploding broken mess.

1/ Trump will cut off essential subsidy payments to Affordable Care Act insurers. The subsidies are used to pay out-of-pocket costs for low-income people and represent an estimated $7 billion this year. A White House statement directed Congress to "repeal and replace the disastrous Obamacare law and provide real relief to the American people" because "the government cannot lawfully make the cost-sharing reduction payments." Trump said the ACA was "imploding" and called it a "broken mess" in a pair of tweets. Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi responded, saying Trump had “apparently decided to punish the American people for his inability to improve our health care system.” Nearly 6 million enrollees qualify for the cost-sharing payments this year. (Politico / New York Times / CNN)

2/ Insurers pushed back against Trump's decision to cut the ACA's cost-sharing reduction subsidies. “This action will make it harder for patients to access the care they need. Costs will go up and choices will be restricted,” the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and America’s Health Insurance Plans said in a joint statement. “These benefits help real people every day, and if they are ended, there will be real consequences." (The Hill)

3/ New York and California threatened to sue the Trump administration over health care subsidies the White House said it would cut off. "Again and again, President Trump has threatened to cut off these subsidies to undermine our healthcare system and force Congress to the negotiating table," New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement. He added that Trump is using people as "political pawns in his dangerous, partisan campaign to eviscerate the Affordable Care Act at any cost." (The Hill)

4/ Trump will not certify Iran’s compliance with the nuclear agreement, but won't immediately withdraw from the 2015 accord. Trump put the onus on Congress to amend the law and establish “trigger points,” which could be used to impose new sanctions on Iran to address continued ballistic missile development, alleged support for terrorist groups in Lebanon, Yemen and elsewhere, and more. Trump threatened to terminate the deal if Congress is not able to reach a solution. (New York Times / Associated Press / Washington Post)

5/ The background check chief said he has "never seen [the] level of mistakes" Jared Kushner made on his security clearance application. Kushner's initial SF-86 form did not mention any foreign contacts. He updated the form in the spring, listing about 100 contacts, but omitted the June 2016 meeting with the Russian lawyer, Trump Jr., and Paul Manafort. He updated the SF-86 forms once more in June to include that meeting. (CNN)

6/ Twitter's privacy policy required it to delete data relevant to the Russia probe. Whenever a user removes a tweet, promotion, or account, Twitter is obligated to also delete that data from its servers. Because Russian operatives immediately erase all of their digital footprint, a substantial amount of valuable information held by Twitter has been lost. Twitter engineers are trying to determine what data is recoverable. (Politico)

7/ Facebook removed thousands of posts from public view that were linked to the Russian disinformation campaign. The data was deleted a day after researcher Jonathan Albright published a report showing that the reach of the Russian campaign was at least twice what Facebook had said. Facebook claimed it simply fixed a "bug," which allowed researchers to access cached information from inactive Facebook Pages. (Washington Post)

8/ Trump nominated a climate change skeptic to lead the White House’s environmental policy board. While a fellow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Kathleen Hartnett White led a project to "explain the forgotten moral case for fossil fuels." She's written that carbon dioxide is the gas "that makes life possible on the earth and naturally fertilizes plant growth" and that "global warming alarmists are misleading the public about carbon dioxide emissions." She's called the Obama administration’s environmental initiatives a "deluded and illegitimate battle against climate change." Her TPPF fellowship received funding from the fossil fuel industry. (The Hill)

9/ Trump will extend the March 5th DACA deadline if Congress fails to pass legislation before then. Trump told Senator James Lankford that he was willing to “give it some more time” to allow lawmakers to find a solution for "dreamers." There are currently 690,000 young people with DACA status. (Washington Post)

10/ The Pentagon and FEMA accidentally included a reporter on their email chain about how to "spin" the Puerto Rico recovery effort. They suggested saying 'the federal government’s full attention is on Hurricane Maria response' to combat what San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz characterized as a 'people-are-dying story.'" FEMA was told to stress its success in reaching "all municipalities in Puerto Rico" in response to Trump attacking the San Juan mayor for "poor leadership ability." (Bloomberg)

quotables/ A selection of quotes from Trump's speech at the Values Voter Summit:

  • My presidency is "substantially ahead of schedule" and he is making "tremendous strides" against ISIS, the Iran nuclear deal, tax reform, and repealing the Affordable Care Act. (Politico)

  • I'm "returning moral clarity to our view of the world" and ending "attacks on Judeo-Christian values." (CNN)

  • It's almost Christmas but "people don’t talk about [it] anymore. They don’t use the word Christmas because it’s not politically correct […] well guess what? We’re saying merry Christmas again." (The Hill)

Day 266: Trump Vs. Everybody.

1/ Trump signed an executive order eliminating some Affordable Care Act insurance rules for small businesses that band together to buy health insurance as an association. The order will also lift limits on limited coverage, short-term insurance, and expand ways workers could use employer-funded accounts to buy their own insurance policies. Critics say that by relaxing standards, Trump would be creating low-cost insurance options for healthier, younger consumers, which would result in higher costs for the sick and potentially destabilize and undermine the ACA insurance marketplace. (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

  • How Trump’s executive order undermines the Affordable Care Act. Trump is asking federal agencies to look for ways to expand the use of association health plans, groups of small businesses that pool together to buy health insurance, and to broaden the definition of short-term insurance, which is exempt from the Affordable Care Act’s rules. (Vox)

2/ Trump on NAFTA: "We’ll see what happens." Justin Trudeau visited the White House yesterday in hopes of seeking a “fairer trade” deal between the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The US Chamber of Commerce president said that abandoning the agreement would pose an “existential threat” to the continent’s national and economic security. Trudeau told members of the House Ways and Means Committee that he was worried about “poison pills,” proposals the US might make that were designed to kill, not repair, the NAFTA agreement. Trump has called NAFTA a "disaster" and that "NAFTA will have to be terminated if we’re going to make it good. Otherwise, I believe you can’t negotiate a good deal." (Washington Post)

3/ European allies and Republicans are pressuring Trump to preserve the Iran nuclear deal. Trump is expected to decertify the nuclear deal tomorrow, despite his own cabinet saying that Iran has abided by the deal. Lawmakers have remained largely in the dark about what Trump's ultimate plan is. Congress, however, will have 60 days to pass legislation to reimpose sanctions on Iran if Trump decertifies the deal. Trump was reportedly "incensed" by the arguments Rex Tillerson and Jim Mattis made when he certified Iran's compliance in July. “He threw a fit,” said one person familiar with the meeting. “. . . He was furious. Really furious. It’s clear he felt jammed.” (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / CNN)

4/ The US withdrew from UNESCO, citing anti-Israeli bias from the United Nations cultural organization. The US hasn’t paid its roughly $70 million yearly dues to UNESCO since 2011, due to a 1990s-era amendment mandating a cutoff of American money to any UN organization accepting Palestine as a full member. Previously, the US withdrew from the organization in 1984 over Cold War concerns, but rejoined in 2003 in a show of international cooperation leading up to the Iraq War. (Bloomberg / Politico) / New York Times)

5/ Trump tweeted that "we cannot keep" federal relief workers in Puerto Rico "forever." As of earlier this week, 84% of the island remained without electricity, two-thirds of cellphone towers were down, and about 6,000 people were still in shelters. Trump tweeted the situation represents a "total lack of accountability" and that the "electric and all infrastructure was disaster before hurricanes. Congress to decide how much to spend. We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!” (Politico / New York Times / Washington Post)

6/ The House passed $36.5 billion in emergency relief for Puerto Rico and other communities affected by recent hurricanes and wildfires. The package includes $18.7 billion for FEMA's disaster relief fund, $16 billion to address national flood insurance program debt, and $576.5 million for wildfire recovery efforts. It also provided $1.27 billion for disaster food assistance for Puerto Rico. The bipartisan bill passed the Republican-controlled House in a 353-to-69 vote. (Reuters / The Hill)

7/ John Kelly told reporters "I'm not quitting today… I don't think I'm being fired today," either. The statement comes as Trump and Kelly have reportedly engaged in “shouting matches” recently. Kelly added that "I'm not so frustrated in this job that I'm thinking of leaving." On Tuesday, Trump tweeted praise for Kelly, saying his chief of staff "is doing a FANTASTIC job." (Politico / ABC News)

8/ The phrase "climate change" does not appear in the EPA's draft four-year strategic plan. Scott Pruitt outlines his agency's prioritizes as a focus on the "core mission" of clean air, land, and water, "rebalance" the federal role in environmental regulation, and enforce laws "as Congress intended." The plan does not mention carbon dioxide or greenhouse gas emissions. (CNN)

9/ Trump’s lawyers are open to having the president sit down for an interview with Robert Mueller in an effort to speed up the Russia probe and dispel suspicions surrounding Trump. Trump told reporters this spring that he was “100 percent” willing to testify under oath about alleged Russian ties to his campaign. Trump's personal lawyer, John Dowd, called the report that they were willing to cooperation with the special counsel “Totally false!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” (Politico)

Day 265: NBC = CNN

1/ Trump told his highest-ranking military leaders he wanted a tenfold increase in the US nuclear arsenal during a July 20th meeting at the Pentagon. Shortly after the meeting ended, Rex Tillerson called Trump a "fucking moron" to the officials who remained behind. Any increase in the nuclear arsenal would break with decades of US nuclear doctrine and violate international disarmament treaties signed by every president since Ronald Reagan. (NBC News)

2/ In response to the NBC News story, Trump tweeted that NBC’s broadcast license should be pulled as punishment for reporting what he considers fake news. “Fake @NBCNews made up a story that I wanted a ‘tenfold’ increase in our U.S. nuclear arsenal. Pure fiction, made up to demean. NBC = CNN!” Trump tweeted. “With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!” (Politico / The Hill)

  • One of Trump’s oldest friends says the president is "better than this." Thomas Barrack Jr. said he has been “shocked” and “stunned” by Trump's rhetoric and tweets, and wonders why his longtime friend spends so much of his time appealing to the fringes of American politics. (Washington Post)

3/ Homeland Security is exploring how it could transform the immigration system without Congress. The possible changes could limit protections for unaccompanied minors who come to the US illegally, expand the use of quick deportation proceedings, and tighten visa programs that could limit legal immigration to the US. None of the policies have been finalized. (CNN)

4/ The Supreme Court dismissed one of the challenges to Trump’s now-expired travel ban. The justices were not ruling on the merits of the issue, but said that because the executive order “expired by its own terms” on September 24th, "the appeal no longer presents a 'live case or controversy.'" (Washington Post)

5/ Cambridge Analytica’s work for Trump’s campaign is now as part of the Russia probe. The company is in the process of turning over documents to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Steve Bannon had a stake in Cambridge Analytica worth between $1 million and $5 million as recently as April of this year. (The Daily Beast)

  • The House Intelligence Committee will publicly release the Facebook ads purchased by Russian operatives during last year’s presidential election. The committee received more than 3,000 politically divisive ads believed to have been purchased by Russia. (Reuters)

  • Russia hijacked Kaspersky Lab anti-virus software and turned it into a tool for spying. The software routinely scanned files looking for terms like "top secret" and classified code names of US government programs. (Wall Street Journal)

6/ North Korea hackers may have stolen joint US-South Korean military secrets, including a "decapitation strike" targeting Kim Jong Un and other leaders. The hackers broke into South Korea’s defense database in September 2016 and took a blueprint known as Operations Plan 5015, which was developed in 2015 in case war broke out with North Korea. (Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg)

  • North Korea targeted US electric power companies with spearphishing emails. There is no evidence that the hacking attempts were successful. (NBC News)

7/ Republicans and close advisers are describing Trump as “unstable,” “losing a step,” and “unraveling.” There’s a new level of concern that the White House is in crisis as advisers struggle to contain him. Trump reportedly vented to his security chief: “I hate everyone in the White House! There are a few exceptions, but I hate them!” Meanwhile, John Kelly has tightened the flow of information and visitors, which has frustrated Trump and resulted in “shouting matches” between the two men. (Vanity Fair / Los Angeles Times)

poll/ 64% of voters support stricter gun laws, including 41% who strongly support them. 29% oppose stricter gun laws, including 16% who are in strong opposition. (Politico)

poll/ 53% of adults “strongly agree” that the wealthiest Americans should pay higher tax rates. An additional 23% “somewhat agree” the wealthiest should pay higher tax rates. (Reuters)

poll/ 55% of voters say that Trump is not fit to serve as president. 70% of voters say the president should stop tweeting from his personal account. (Quinnipiac)

Day 264: Power of the pen.

1/ Trump plans to go around Congress to provide new insurance options for Americans. The White House is finalizing an executive order, which Trump is expected to sign this week, that would expand health care plans offered by associations and allow individuals to pool together to buy insurance outside their states. “Since Congress can’t get its act together on HealthCare, I will be using the power of the pen to give great HealthCare to many people – FAST,” Trump tweeted. By banding together to buy coverage, associations could join the large group insurance market, which is exempt from the ACA’s requirement that plans cover essential health benefits. (Washington Post / Bloomberg)

2/ The White House blamed Bob Corker for the Twitter tiff with Trump. On Sunday morning, Trump tweeted that Corker “didn’t have the guts” to run for re-election. Corker replied that it's "a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.” Kellyanne Conway called Corker's tweet "incredibly irresponsible" with Pence defending Trump against what he called "empty rhetoric and baseless attacks."

In an interview with the New York Times, Corker said that Trump is acting "like he's doing 'The Apprentice'" and that he could set the nation "on the path to World War III." As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Corker could block the confirmation of a new secretary of state if Trump pushed out Rex Tillerson and would play a key role on whether to "decertify" the Iran nuclear deal. (New York Times)

3/ Trump gave Bob Corker a nickname as their feud escalates. "The Failing @nytimes set Liddle' Bob Corker up by recording his conversation," Trump tweeted. "Was made to sound a fool, and that's what I am dealing with!" The transcript of the conversation has Corker saying "I understand we're on the record. I don't like normally talking to you on the record – I'm kidding you – but I will." Labeling Corker "liddle" is a reference to the 2016 campaign, when he called Marco Rubio little. "Let me start with Little Marco. He just looked like Little Marco to me. And it's not Little. It's Liddle. L-I-D-D-L-E." The New York Times reporter disputed Trump's claim that Corker was recorded without his knowledge, tweeting that "Corker had 2 aides on line, also recording, and they made sure after it ended that I was taping, too." (CNN / The Hill / New York Times)

4/ Trump challenged Tillerson to an IQ test after the secretary of state's "moron" comment. "I think it's fake news," Trump said, "but if he did that, I guess we'll have to compare IQ tests. And I can tell you who is going to win." Tillerson reportedly called Trump a "fucking moron" and nearly resigned this summer. (Forbes / Washington Post)

  • Mensa offered to host the IQ test for Trump and Tillerson. “American Mensa would be happy to hold a testing session for President Trump and Secretary Tillerson,” said Charles Brown, the group’s communications director. (The Hill)

5/ Scott Pruitt wants to eliminate the federal tax credits for the wind and solar power industries, saying the credits prevent utility companies from making the best decisions about power generation. “I’d let them stand on their own and compete against coal and natural gas and other sources," the EPA chief said. (The Hill / Bloomberg)

6/ Carter Page told the Senate Intelligence Committee he will not cooperate with any requests to appear and would plead the Fifth. The Trump campaign's former foreign policy adviser met with Sergey Kislyak on the sidelines of the GOP convention last year. In addition, the FBI has been monitoring Page since he travelled to Russia and met with high-level associates of Putin last year. (Politico)

7/ The House Intelligence Committee issued subpoenas to the partners who run Fusion GPS, the research firm that produced the dossier of memos of alleged Russian efforts to aid the Trump campaign. Chairman Devin Nunes signed off on the subpoenas that demand documents and testimony. Nunes recused himself from the House's panel earlier this year after going directly to the White House with information about “incidental” surveillance of Trump's transition team. (CNN)

8/ Trump threatened to use federal tax law to penalize NFL players who kneel in protest during the national anthem. "Why is the N.F.L. getting massive tax breaks while at the same time disrespecting our Anthem, Flag and Country?” Trump tweeted. “Change tax law!” In a letter to all 32 NFL teams, commissioner Roger Goodell said he wants players to stand during the anthem despite the current NFL policy not requiring players to stand. Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the White House "would certainly support the NFL coming out and asking players to stand." (New York Times / ESPN / The Hill)

9/ Trump, meanwhile, sent a fundraising email praising Pence for walking out of an NFL football game after players kneeled. "Their stunt showed the world that they don't believe our flag is worth standing for," the email reads. "But your Vice President REFUSED to dignify their disrespect for our anthem, our flag, and the many brave soldiers who have died for their freedoms." Nearly two dozen players from the 49ers knelt during the national anthem in what is now seen as an expensive political stunt. (CNN)

10/ Trump has made 1,318 false or misleading claims over the past 263 days. He has averaged five claims a day, even picking up pace since the six-month mark. (Washington Post)

poll/ Trump's approval rating has fallen in every state since he took office. A majority of voters in 25 states and the District of Columbia said they disapproved of Trump's job performance, including 55% in Michigan, 53% in Wisconsin and Iowa, and 51% in Pennsylvania. The share of Republicans who strongly approve of Trump has declined from 53% to 43% since January. 71% of Democrats strongly disapproved of Trump. (Morning Consult)

Day 263: War on coal.

1/ The Trump administration will roll back the Clean Power Plan. Scott Pruitt will sign the new rule tomorrow, which will override Obama's policy to curb greenhouse gas from power plants. "The war on coal is over," Pruitt declared. (Associated Press / New York Times)

2/ The attorney for the Russian billionaire who pushed for the Trump Tower meeting said an email shows the meeting wasn't about Hillary Clinton. In the newly disclosed email, Natalia Veselnitskaya asked music publicist Rob Goldstone if she could bring a “lobbyist and trusted associate" to the meeting, because of his knowledge of the Magnitsky Act, a 2012 law that imposed financial sanctions on wealthy Russians as punishment for human rights abuses. The email was disclosed by Scott Balber, who represents Aras and Emin Agalarov, the billionaire real estate developer and his son who requested the June 2016 meeting.

The emails between Goldstone and Trump Jr. tell a different story, however. Goldstone requested the meeting Trump Jr., saying the Russian government wanted to help the Trump campaign by providing documents that “would incriminate Hillary" and "be very useful to your father.” Trump Jr. replied: “If it’s what you say I love it." (Washington Post / CNN)

3/ Trump is demanding funding for his border wall in exchange for signing legislation to provide legal status for "Dreamers." The administration's list of hard-line immigration principles includes overhauling the country's green-card system, cracking down on unaccompanied minors entering the country, funding his wall along the southern border, and denial of federal grants to "sanctuary cities." Last month, Trump rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which provides legal status for 800,000 young immigrants brought to the US illegally as children. (Politico / New York Times / Washington Post)

4/ Trump called Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer in an effort to revive a deal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Trump said he would be open to cutting a one-year or two-year deal with Democrats. “I told the president that’s off the table,” Schumer said in a statement. “If he wants to work together to improve the existing health care system, we Democrats are open to his suggestions.” (Reuters / New York Times)

5/ Bob Corker: Trump is treating his office like “a reality show” and his reckless threats could set the nation “on the path to World War III.” The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee added that Trump acts “like he’s doing ‘The Apprentice’ or something.” On Sunday, Trump tweeted that Corker “didn’t have the guts” to run for re-election and that the Senator had “begged” for his endorsement. Corker responded on Twitter that it's "a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.”

Last week, Corker said that Rex Tillerson, James Mattis, and John Kelly “help separate the country from chaos" and hopes they stay "because they're valuable to the national security of our nation." (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico)

6/ Mattis urged the military "to be ready" with options on North Korea as Trump tweets that "only one thing will work." In a pair of tweets sent Saturday, Trump said that 25 years of agreements with North Korea have failed, "making fools" of the US. When asked what he meant, Trump told reporters: "You'll figure that out pretty soon." Sarah Huckabee Sanders was also cryptic: “You’ll have to wait and see.” Last week at a photo-op, surrounded by military leaders, Trump warned that "maybe it’s the calm before the storm." (Politico / CNN / Washington Post)

  • North Korea is preparing to test a long-range missile which it believes can reach the west coast of the United States. “As far as we understand, they intend to launch one more long-range missile in the near future," said Anton Morozov, a member of the Russian lower house of parliament’s international affairs committee. "And in general, their mood is rather belligerent.” (Reuters)

7/ Facebook, Google, and Twitter employees were "embedded" inside the Trump campaign. Brad Parscale, the Trump campaign's digital director, said employees from the tech companies "were there multiple days a week" to "teach us how to use their platform." Parscale said Trump's digital team "took opportunities" that Hillary Clinton's did not, like pulling Facebook staffers into their folds multiple times a week. The Clinton campaign confirmed they turned down the offer to have Facebook provide the same service. The Trump campaign spent roughly $70 million on Facebook by election day. (CBS News / Washington Post)

8/ Google said Russian agents bought ads aimed to spread disinformation on YouTube, Google Search, Gmail, and DoubleClick, the company’s ad network. The ads don't appear to be from the same Kremlin-affiliated troll farm that bought ads on Facebook. Google runs the world’s largest online advertising business, and YouTube is the world’s largest online video site. (Washington Post)

  • Russian operatives used Twitter and Facebook to target veterans and military personnel with propaganda. Researchers found fake or slanted news from Russian-controlled accounts mixed with a wide range of legitimate content consumed by veterans and active-duty personnel in their Facebook and Twitter news feeds. (McClatchy DC / Washington Post)

9/ Pence walked out of the Colts-49ers game yesterday after nearly two dozen players from the 49ers knelt during the national anthem in what was an expensive, well-planned political stunt. Pence tweeted that he left because he "will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem." Shortly after Trump tweeted that he "asked @VP Pence to leave stadium if any players kneeled, disrespecting our country." (New York Times)

poll/ 47% of voters in non-metro areas approved of Trump's job performance, while 47% disapproved. That is down from Trump’s first four weeks in office, when 55% said they approved of the president while 39% disapproved. (Reuters)

Day 260: Calm before the storm.

1/ Trump's advisers are floating the idea of replacing Rex Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo after Morongate. Trump was reportedly furious that Tillerson didn't deny he called the president a "fucking moron," leaving many to believe their relationship is broken beyond repair. Tillerson praised Trump and insisted he never considered resigning in a public statement he made later that day. (Axios / NBC News)

2/ Surrounded by military leaders, Trump warned that "maybe it’s the calm before the storm." The unprompted comment came during a photo-op at the White House with the top national security officials. “We have the world’s great military leaders in this room,” Trump said to reporters. When pressed to explain what he meant, he simply said: "You’ll find out." (Politico)

3/ Robert Mueller's investigators met with the author of the Trump dossier, Christopher Steele, this past summer in an effort to understand if people associated with the Trump campaign and suspected Russian operatives broke any laws. US intelligence agencies reportedly took the Steele dossier more seriously than previously acknowledged, keeping it out of a publicly-released January report on Russian meddling in order to not divulge which parts of the dossier they had corroborated. Trump and his allies have repeatedly called the dossier "totally made-up stuff" written by a "failed spy." (CNN / Associated Press)

4/ Christopher Steele is talking with the Senate Intelligence Committee about formally speaking with its leaders. The sticking point for the former British intelligence operative, who authored a 35-page dossier alleging that the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia, has been over his unwillingness to discuss who underwrote his work. Steele was hired by Fusion GPS to conduct opposition research, which was originally funded by undisclosed Republican opponents of Trump. During the general election, unknown Democrats began picking up the tab. Senators had previously said they have had unable to get traction on the dossier, because Steele had not agreed to meet with investigators or the senators. (NBC News)

5/ White House tech support believes John Kelly's personal cellphone was compromised. Staff discovered the suspected breach after Kelly turned his phone in to White House tech support this summer complaining that it wasn’t working properly or updating. Kelly now uses a different phone. Yesterday, Rachel Maddow reported the Secret Service will now ban personal mobile devices in the West Wing, according to a memo sent to agents. Other news outlets have not confirmed the authenticity of the memo. (Politico)

  • The Senate Judiciary Committee does not have an active "Russia probe" going. A staffer said the committee is engaged in routine oversight of the Justice Department. (The Daily Beast)

6/ Trump rolled back the federal requirement for employers to include birth control coverage in their health insurance plans. The new regulation allows for a broad group of employers and insurers to exempt themselves from covering contraceptives on religious or moral grounds. More than 55 million women have access to birth control without co-payments because of the contraceptive coverage mandate in the Affordable Care Act. (Washington Post / New York Times)

  • Critics fear the policy may provide a loophole for discrimination. l Jeff Sessions instructed federal agencies and attorneys to protect religious liberty in a broad guidance memo that critics fear could give people of faith — including government workers and contractors — a loophole to ignore federal bans on discrimination against women and LGBT people. (BuzzFeed News)

  • ACLU filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration over the roll back of the birth control mandate. The rollback “basically gives broad license to employers to discriminate against their employees and withhold a benefit guaranteed by law,” said Brigitte Amiri, senior staff attorney at the ACLU. (The Hill)

7/ FEMA removed statistics about drinking water access and electricity in Puerto Rico from its website. A FEMA spokesman said both measures are still being reported, but are available on a website maintained by the Puerto Rican governor's office. He did not explain why FEMA no longer maintains the statistics on the main FEMA website. (Washington Post)

UPDATE:

As of Friday afternoon, FEMA's website is now reporting the two statistics about access to drinking water and electricity.

8/ Trump nominated a coal lobbyist to help lead the EPA. Andrew Wheeler, who is an outspoken denier of established science on climate change, would become the second most powerful person at the EPA. (New York Times)

9/ Treasury employees allege its Intelligence and Analysis unit is illegally spying on Americans' private financial records. At least a dozen employees in the Financial Crimes Enforcement division at the Treasury Department have warned officials and Congress that banking and financial data had been illegally searched and stored. They say that other intelligence agencies have been using the Treasury’s intelligence division as a back door in order to gain access to citizens’ financial records. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin oversees how the department conducts intelligence operations. (BuzzFeed News)

  • Steven Mnuchin has flown on military aircraft seven times at a cost of more than $800,000 to taxpayers. In total, the treasury secretary has made nine requests for military aircraft, including a request to use a military plane for his European honeymoon with his wife. (New York Times)

poll/ 24% of Americans believe the country is heading in the right direction, representing a 10-point drop since June. 44% of Republicans agree that the country is headed in the right direction, down from 60% in June. (ABC News)

Day 259: Suicide squad.

1/ Russian hackers stole NSA data about US cyber defense after an employee removed the highly classified material, put it on his home computer, and used an antivirus app made by Russia-based Kaspersky Lab. The US government had previously banned the use of Kaspersky Lab software over concerns of Russian cyberespionage. The stolen material includes details about how the NSA penetrates foreign computer networks, the code it uses, and how it defends networks inside the US. (Wall Street Journal)

  • Russian propaganda may have been shared hundreds of millions of times on Facebook, new research shows. From the 470 Facebook accounts that have been made public, the content had been “shared” 340 million times. (Washington Post)

  • The three Russians named in the Trump dossier are suing Fusion GPS for libel. Mikhail Fridman, Petr Aven and German Khan claim that their reputations have been unfairly ruined by the dossier. (Politico)

  • FBI deputy director on Russian hacking: We "should have seen this coming." Speaking at the Cambridge Cyber Summit, Andrew McCabe implied that Russian meddling hasn't stopped, either: "The experience in the 2016 elections allowed us to diagnose the problem. Have we cured it yet? Absolutely not." (CNN)

2/ Two former CIA chiefs said Russia needed help targeting US voters and districts in the 2016 presidential campaign. "It is not intuitively obvious that they could have done this themselves," former CIA director Michael Hayden said. Russia either needed someone to help give it information on who to microtarget or it stole the necessary information through hacking. (Bloomberg)

3/ Senate Judiciary Chairman said there is "no way of avoiding" a public hearing for Trump Jr., who has come under scrutiny from multiple committees in Congress for meeting with a Russian lawyer in June 2016. "Before this is over with," Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr said, "we will know everything about the Don Jr. meeting." (CNN)

4/ Trump criticized the Senate Intelligence Committee for continuing its investigation into possible collusion between Russia and his campaign, tweeting: "Why Isn't the Senate Intel Committee looking into the Fake News Networks in OUR country to see why so much of our news is just made up-FAKE!" Trump tweeted. The tweet comes in response to yesterday's news that the committee is still investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 presidential race. (The Hill / ABC News)

5/ Jeff Sessions rescinded a policy that protects transgender workers from discrimination. The Obama-era policy argued that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protected employees from being discriminated against due to an "individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin." Sessions said that "Title VII's prohibition on sex discrimination encompasses discrimination between men and women but does not encompass discrimination based on gender identity per se, including transgender status." (ABC News / CNN / BuzzFeed News)

6/ Rex Tillerson, James Mattis, and Steven Mnuchin have a "suicide pact," where all three cabinet secretaries will leave in the event that Trump fires one of them. Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that Tillerson, Mattis, as well as Chief of Staff John Kelly “help separate the country from chaos" – meaning Trump. He added that "I hope they stay because they're valuable to the national security of our nation." Yesterday, Tillerson refuted reports that he’d been persuaded to stay on in his role over the summer by Mike Pence. He did not, however, address questions about whether he had called Trump a "fucking moron" or not. (BuzzFeed News / Politico)

Speculative.

The details about a "suicide pact" have not been confirmed by other, reputable news outlets.

7/ Trump will “decertify” the international nuclear deal with Iran, saying it is not in the best interest of the US. Congress would have 60 days to decide whether to reimpose sanctions on Tehran under the agreement. Trump has long criticized the nuclear pact with Iran. (Reuters / Washington Post)

8/ With the GOP agenda at a standstill, some donors are closing their wallets and threatening to deprive Republicans of resources ahead of the 2018 midterms. Fundraisers say they’re having an unusually hard time setting up meetings with major contributors. An email from a sought-after donor to a GOP fundraiser read: “The GOP leaders should know, no movement on remaining agenda: tax reform, infrastructure, deregulation, etc. means no funding from supporters like me. No meetings, calls, contributions until we see progress.” (Politico)

9/ The House GOP passed its budget today, which calls for more than $5 trillion in spending cuts over the next decade. The budget plan promises deep cuts to social programs while paving the way for a GOP drive to rewrite the tax code later this year using budget reconciliation – a key procedural hurdle that would allow Republicans to pass tax reform without the threat of a filibuster by Senate Democrats. (Associated Press / Politico)

10/ The House Homeland Security Committee approved $10 billion for a border wall as part of a border security bill. The legislation will head to the House floor, which Democrats have criticized as a political stunt to appease Trump. The bill is expected to pass the House, but unlikely to clear the Senate, where it needs a 60-vote majority. (The Hill)

11/ Democrats introduced a bill to ban "bump stocks," a gun conversion kit that turns semiautomatic weapons into weapons capable of firing a continuous stream of bullets. Top congressional Republicans signaled they would be open to considering legislation on bump stocks, which the Las Vegas gunman used on his rifles. The legislation would ban the sale, manufacture and possession of bump stocks and other devices that increase a firearm’s rate of fire. (New York Times / NBC News)

  • The NRA called for a additional regulation on "bump stocks," but stopped short of calling for legislation. Instead, they urged lawmakers to pass "National Right-to-Carry reciprocity," which would allow gun owners to travel between states with concealed weapons – even when traveling to states with laws restricting concealed weapons. (The Hill)

  • The NRA doesn't allow bump stock firing systems at their shooting range. Bump stocks increase the rate bullets are fired, causing the entire weapon to move back and forth in the shooter’s grip and decreasing accuracy. (Politico)

poll/ 62% of voters have an unfavorable view of the GOP. 43% of voters are looking to congressional Democrats to protect families when it comes to health care, compared to 15% who trust Trump on health care. Less than 10% say the Republican Party should lead the way. (Suffolk University)

Day 258: Moron.

1/ Rex Tillerson reportedly called Trump a "fucking moron" and nearly resigned this summer. The comment came during a July meeting at the Pentagon with members of Trump’s national security team and Cabinet officials. Mike Pence reportedly counseled Tillerson on how to ease tensions with Trump, with other top administration officials urging him to remain in the job until the end of the year. (NBC News)

2/ Today, Tillerson denied he considered resigning from his job, but did not address whether he called Trump a "moron." Minutes before Tillerson's remarks, Trump tweeted that NBC News was "fake news" and "more dishonest than even CNN. They are a disgrace to good reporting. No wonder their news ratings are way down!" Immediately after Tillerson spoke, Trump tweeted, again, that the NBC News "story has just been totally refuted" by Tillerson and that the news network "should issue an apology to AMERICA!" Later in the day Trump called it “a totally phony story” and said he has "total confidence” in Tillerson. (USA Today / CBS News / New York Times)

3/ The Senate Intelligence Committee endorsed the conclusions of American intelligence agencies that Putin directed a campaign of hacking and propaganda to disrupt the 2016 presidential election. Richard Burr, chairman of the committee, said they "trust the conclusions" of the Intelligence Community Assessment that Russia was behind the hacking of the John Podesta’s email account and had attempted to exploit public opinion with false information through fake social media accounts. The issue of collusion remains open.

Senators also acknowledged that they have been unable to get traction on the Steele dossier, which contains a series of claims about Trump and Russia. The memos’ author, Christopher Steele, has not agreed to meet with investigators or the senators. Robert Mueller's special counsel has taken over FBI inquiries into the Steele dossier. (New York Times / Washington Post / ABC News)

4/ Facebook and Twitter agreed to testify publicly before the Senate intelligence committee as part of the congressional probe into Russian interference during the 2016 presidential election. Facebook will also testify at the House Intelligence Committee hearing. Twitter and Facebook have already briefed both committees on their findings regarding Russian use of their platforms to influence the election. While invited, Google has not said if it will also appear at either hearing. (Recode / The Hill)

  • The House intelligence committee is focusing on Russian ads bought on Google, search engine manipulation, fake news, and the potential uses of YouTube. Google had initially said it found no evidence of targeted tactics like the thousands of election-related ads purchased on Facebook. (Bloomberg)

  • Almost all RT ads on Twitter designed to push negative coverage of Clinton, Adam Schiff, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, said. (The Hill)

5/ Russian-linked Facebook ads specifically targeted Michigan and Wisconsin, two states Trump won by less than 1% of the vote. The ads promoted divisiveness and anti-Muslim messages. Trump beat Hillary Clinton in Michigan by about 10,700 votes out of nearly 4.8 million ballots cast. In Wisconsin, Trump won by only about 22,700 votes. (CNN)

  • Russia targeted NATO soldiers' smartphones in an effort to gain information about operations and troop strength in Poland and the Baltic states. The campaign targeted a contingent of 4,000 NATO troops deployed this year to protect the alliance’s European border with Russia. (Wall Street Journal)

6/ Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. avoided a criminal indictment in 2012 after Trump's personal lawyer met with the Manhattan District Attorney. Marc Kasowitz donated $25,000 to District Attorney Cy Vance Jr.'s reelection campaign and three months later the case was dropped when the DA overruled his staff. The donation was returned, but less than six months later, Kasowitz made an even larger donation of more than $50,000 to Vance’s campaign. For two years, prosecutors had been building a criminal case against Ivanka and Trump Jr. for misleading prospective buyers of units in the Trump SoHo hotel, which included emails showing coordination about how to move forward giving false information to prospective buyers. (ProPublica / The New Yorker / WNYC)

7/ Kushner and Ivanka were both fined $200 for missing a deadline to submit financial disclosures required by government ethics rules as part of a months-long process of divesting Kushner's stock and assets. It’s the second time that Kushner has been fined for late filing. In July, Kushner made his 39th change to his financial disclosure. (McClatchy DC)

  • Paul Manafort's son-in-law accused him of conspiring to mislead a federal bankruptcy court about four California real estate investments. Jeffrey Yohai alleged that Manafort and others had misled him and the court about the funding and ownership of the companies that have proposed to clear up the bankruptcy issues. (USA Today)

8/ A Texas judge ruled against Trump's voter fraud commission, saying state officials would be violating state privacy laws if they hand over voters’ personal information to commission members. Kris Kobach's voter fraud commission has asked state election officials to share specific voter information, including voters’ felony conviction history, voter history, and partial Social Security numbers, along with other personal details. (The Daily Beast)

9/ The EPA will propose repealing the Clean Power Plan, a central piece of Obama's plan to cut carbon emissions from power plants, fight climate change, and meet emissions goals promised in the Paris Climate Agreement. Trump signed an executive order in March directing the EPA to start the legal process of withdrawing and rewriting the Clean Power Plan. The EPA will solicit input on “developing a rule similarly intended to reduce CO2 emissions from existing fossil fuel electric utility generating units.” (Reuters)

10/ The DACA renewal deadline is Thursday. The Trump administration didn't notify immigrants about it. Jeff Sessions announced on September 5th that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which has provided renewable, two-year work permits to nearly 800,000 "dreamers," would end on March 5, 2018. Citizenship and Immigration Services had sent out notices prior to the announcement reminding DACA recipients they had 180 days to reapply. USCIS, however, never sent out corrections notifying immigrants that if they followed the instructions in the letter, they would miss the new deadline. About 154,000 DACA recipients are eligible for one last two-year extension, but must file their their application by the end of the day Thursday. (Vox)

11/ Trump said the US will need to "wipe out" Puerto Rico's debt in order to address the US territory's financial crisis. Trump’s budget director, meanwhile, said not to take the suggestion literally. Mick Mulvaney tried to clarify Trump's statement: "I think what you heard the president say is that Puerto Rico is going to have to figure out a way to solve its debt problem." He added: "We are not going to bail them out. We are not going to pay off those debts. We are not going to bail out those bond holders.” (Politico / Bloomberg)

Day 257: The end of everything.

1/ Trump said he’ll "be talking about gun laws as time goes by," echoing what Sarah Huckabee Sanders said yesterday that “there will certainly be a time for that policy discussion to take place, but that’s not the place that we’re in at this moment.” Steve Bannon warned that it "will be the end of everything" if Trump supports gun control legislation, and Roger Stone added that the "base would go insane and he knows it." (Politico / Washington Post / Axios)

  • Jimmy Kimmel Seizes On Las Vegas Shooting to Champion Gun Laws in Emotional Monologue. Jimmy Kimmel, who is from Las Vegas, called on President Trump and members of Congress to act in the wake of the shooting. (New York Times)

2/ Robert Mueller's top legal counsel is researching limits on pre-emptive presidential pardons. Michael Dreeben has been researching past pardons to determine if any limits exist as Trump's current and former advisers come under the special counsel's scrutiny. Trump previously tweeted that "all agree the U. S. President has the complete power to pardon." Pardons of a president’s campaign workers, family members, and himself are largely uncharted legal territory. Mueller has a team of 16 seasoned prosecutors investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election as well as any potential collusion between Russian and members of Trump’s campaign. (Bloomberg)

3/ The Justice Department overruled memos that concluded presidents cannot appoint their relatives to the White House staff or presidential commissions, a Freedom of Information Act request revealed. The request to rule the earlier opinions erroneous or obsolete came from the incoming Trump administration in January, which cleared the way for Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump to take roles in the White House. Appointments of family members have been illegal under an anti-nepotism law passed in 1967. (Politico)

4/ Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump used a third private email address for government business. Hundreds of emails were sent from the couple's White House email addresses to accounts on Kushner's private domain that they shared with their personal staff. The emails contained nonpublic travel documents, internal White House schedules, and other official White House materials. It was previously reported that Kushner and Ivanka used personal email accounts to conduct some government business. The couple has since moved their personal email accounts to computers run by the Trump Organization. (Politico)

5/ The Senate Foreign Relations Committee wants to know if White House officials used private emails for diplomacy. Senator Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the committee, asked Rex Tillerson and White House Counsel Don McGahn for information about whether Kushner or other officials communicated via private email or text with representatives of foreign governments, political parties, or international organizations. (ABC News)

6/ The CIA denied a request by the Senate Judiciary Committee to let them view information about Russian meddling that the intelligence committee was allowed to see. The material pertains to obstruction of justice matters that are in the Judiciary Committee’s jurisdiction. (Politico)

  • HP Enterprise let Russia scrutinize cyberdefense system used by Pentagon. The Russian review of ArcSight’s source code, the closely guarded internal instructions of the software, was part of HPE’s effort to win the certification required to sell the product to Russia’s public sector. (Reuters)

7/ Russian operatives used Facebook's retargeting tool to target specific ads and messages to voters who had visited misleading web sites and social media pages designed to mimicked those created by political activists. By using Facebook's Custom Audiences, Russian-linked ad buyers were able to spend $100,000 on more than 3,000 ads that were seen by roughly 10 million users — approximately 44% of which were seen before the November 8th election. (Washington Post / CNN)

  • Russian Ads Delivered to Congress. An estimated 10 million people in the US saw the ads. Of total ad impressions, 44% were before the US election on November 8, 2016. Roughly 25% of the ads were never shown to anyone. For 50% of the ads, less than $3 was spent; for 99% of the ads, less than $1,000 was spent. (Facebook)

8/ Trump visited Puerto Rico today, against urging from aides to put off the trip over concerns of protests about the slow relief effort. FEMA hasn't authorized every disaster response tool it has at its disposal despite 5% of the electrical grid working, 17% of cellphone towers working, and less than half of residents with running water. (New York Times / Vox)

9/ Trump called for Puerto Rico to be “very proud” that more didn't die in “a real catastrophe like Katrina,” adding that by needing hurricane relief funds, the devastated island has "thrown our budget a little out of whack." He also praised the federal response, saying "what a great job we’ve done," and that local officials in Puerto Rico “have to give us more help” in responding to the destruction caused by Hurricane Maria. (Washington Post / Associated Press)

10/ Pence’s chief of staff called for wealthy donors to "purge" Republican lawmakers that don’t support Trump’s agenda. Nick Ayers urged donors to "form a coalition" to take on leadership and members who don’t back the president, saying "we can purge the handful of people who continue to work to defeat [Trump]." The White House and Pence's office declined to comment. (Politico)

11/ Scott Pruitt has held almost daily meetings with top corporate executives and lobbyists from all the sectors that he regulates. The EPA chief has held almost no meetings with environmental groups or consumer or public health advocates. (New York Times)

  • Trump's pick for EPA safety chief believes children are less sensitive to chemical toxicity than adults. Michael Dourson faces a confirmation hearing this week. In a 2002 paper, paid for by the American Chemistry Council and the pesticide industry group CropLife America, Dourson suggested that most children are no more sensitive to chemical toxicity than adults and that in some cases, they are even less sensitive. This idea places him well outside the scientific mainstream and suggests how he might approach not just these pesticides but all chemicals affecting children. (The Intercept)

Day 256: An act of pure evil.

1/ Trump called the Las Vegas shooting "an act of pure evil." At least 58 people were killed and more than 500 injured. Police said the gunman was found dead in his Mandalay Bay Hotel room. Trump praised the “miraculous” speed with which local law enforcement responded to the shooting, ordered flags flown at half-staff, and said he would visit Las Vegas on Wednesday. Gunmaker stocks, meanwhile, are up nearly 4% after one of the deadliest mass shootings in American history. (New York Times / Washington Post / MarketWatch)

  • Full Transcript and Video: Trump Speaks After Las Vegas Shooting. (New York Times)

2/ The House could vote on legislation this week that would roll back restrictions on gun silencers. The silencer measure is part of the Sportsmen's Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act, a bill that was delayed in June after House GOP Whip Steve Scalise and two Capitol Hill police officers were shot during a congressional baseball practice. The House is also expected to vote this fall on separate legislation, the Hearing Protection Act, which would allow people to carry their legally concealed weapons across state lines into jurisdictions that restrict weapons concealment. (San Francisco Chronicle)

  • Sportsmen's Heritage And Recreational Enhancement Act, H.R.3668. (Congress.gov)

  • Hearing Protection Act, H.R.367 (Congress.gov)

3/ Trump's associates had two more previously undisclosed contacts with Russia during the 2016 campaign. The documents were turned over to congressional committees and special counsel Robert Mueller. Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, was invited to a conference in Russia that would be attended by Putin; in the other case, Cohen received a second proposal for a Trump-branded Moscow project during the campaign. Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, low-level foreign policy advisers and, now, Cohen were all contacted by Russians with interests in business and politics in the weeks before or after Trump accepted the nomination. (Washington Post)

4/ Paul Manafort attempted to leverage his role on Trump's campaign team to curry favor with a Russian oligarch close to Putin during the campaign. Emails turned over to investigators show how the former campaign chair tried to please Oleg Vladimirovich Deripaska, one of Russia’s richest men. Manafort was ousted from the Trump campaign after Manafort’s name was listed in a secret ledger of cash payments from a pro-Russian party in Ukraine that detailed his failed venture with Deripaska. At the time, Manafort was in debt to shell companies connected to pro-Russian interests in Ukraine for some $16 million. (The Atlantic)

5/ Rex Tillerson said the US is in direct communication with North Korea about its nuclear program even after Trump tweeted in August that “talking is not the answer!” and vowed to “totally destroy” North Korea. “We are probing, so stay tuned,” the Secretary of State said. “We can talk to them, we do talk to them directly, through our own channels,” adding that the US has “a couple, three channels open to Pyongyang.” (Bloomberg / New York Times)

6/ Trump called Tillerson's effort to communicate with North Korea a waste of time, undercutting his Secretary of State and seemingly ruling out a diplomatic resolution to the confrontation with Pyongyang. "I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man," Trump tweeted, adding, "Save your energy Rex, we'll do what has to be done!" (New York Times / Politico / Washington Post)

7/ Trump urged senior staff to portray him as a "crazy guy," while discussing whether the US would withdraw from the South Korean trade deal. "That's not how you negotiate," Trump told trade negotiator Robert Lighthizer. "You don't tell them they've got 30 days. You tell them, 'This guy's so crazy he could pull out any minute,'" adding "You tell them if they don't give the concessions now, this crazy guy will pull out of the deal." The White House did not dispute the account. Meanwhile, North Korean officials have been trying to arrange talks with Republican analysts in Washington in an attempt to make sense of Trump and his confusing messages to Kim Jong Un’s regime. (Axios)

8/ Congress let funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program expire, which provides low-cost health insurance to 9 million children. The CHIP program is a partnership between the federal government and states that insures American children from low and moderate-income families. States still have some CHIP money available, but several are expected to drain their funding by the end of the year. Trump, meanwhile, proclaimed today is Child Health Day and committed to "protecting and promoting the health and well-being of our Nation's young people." (ABC News / Washington Post)

9/ The National Security Agency warned senior White House officials against using personal cellphones and email, which could make them vulnerable to espionage by Russia, China, Iran, and others. The briefing came shortly after Trump was sworn into office on January 20, and before some top aides began using their personal email and phones to conduct official business. At least five current and former White House officials have used private email, including Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Gary Cohn, Steve Bannon, and Reince Priebus. (Politico)

10/ Since John Kelly took over the West Wing in July, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump's role have shrunk. The couple has focused on the issues in their portfolios and making more of an effort to "stay in their lane." Until Kelly’s arrival, Ivanka Trump and Kushner always had the last word with Trump, especially when it came to personnel matters. Kushner has complained to friends that he can no longer float in and out of the Oval Office. White House Counsel Don McGahn, meanwhile, considered resigning this summer after growing frustrated by the lack of protocols surrounding meetings between Trump and Kushner, which he said could be construed by investigators as an effort to coordinate their stories. Trump has been privately surveying people close to him about whether Kushner and Ivanka Trump are creating too much noise and how they can withstand the personal attacks. (Politico / Wall Street Journal / Axios)

11/ Facebook is turning over more than 3,000 Russian-linked advertisements to congressional investigators. The House and Senate Intelligence Committees and the Senate Judiciary Committee will receive copies of the ads. The Senate Intelligence Committee also wants Facebook, Google, and Twitter to testify before a Congressional panel on November 1 regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election. None of the companies have confirmed they will attend. The House Intelligence Committee will hold a public hearing in October, and would like the three companies to attend as well. (New York Times / ABC News / The Hill)

12/ Trump accused the San Juan mayor of "poor leadership" and suggested that the island's residents are not doing enough to help themselves. "Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help," Trump tweeted from his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey on Saturday, continuing: "They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort." On Sunday, Trump dedicated a golf trophy to the people of Puerto Rico. (CNN / Associated Press)

Day 253: Giant, beautiful, massive, the biggest ever.

1/ Tom Price resigned as Trump's Health and Human Services Secretary after racking up at least $400,000 in private charter flights. Yesterday, in an effort to satisfy Trump, Price offered to reimburse the government $51,887. Price's resignation came hours after Trump told reporters he considered Price a “fine man” but that he “didn't like the optics” and would make a decision about his future by the end of the day. Additionally, Politico reported that Price had used a military aircraft to travel to Africa, Europe, and to Asia earlier this year at a cost of more than $500,000 to taxpayers. The overseas trips bring the total cost of Price’s travels to more than $1 million since May. (NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post)

  • Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and his aides have taken several flights on private or military aircraft, including a $12,000 charter plane to take him to events in his hometown in Montana and private flights between two Caribbean islands. (Politico / Washington Post)

2/ The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center says the Republican tax plan would overwhelmingly benefit the wealthiest Americans and businesses. The report found that the average tax bill for all income groups would decline by $1,600 (2.1%) in 2018. Those earning incomes above $730,000 who would see their after-tax incomes rise by an average of 8.5%, or about $129,000, while those earning an average of $66,960 would see their after-tax income rise by 1.2% or about $660. (New York Times)

3/ Trump could personally save about $1.1 billion in taxes under his proposed plan. The analysis is based on Trump’s 2005 federal tax return and his estimated $2.86 billion net worth. In theory, Trump could save about $1.1 billion from repealing the estate tax, $31 million from repealing the alternative minimum tax, about $16 million from changes to certain types of business income, and about $500k from reducing the highest tax rate from 39.6% to 35%. (New York Times)

4/ Trump's top economic adviser suggested that a family of four earning $100,000 can expect to save $1,000 a year in taxes – enough to "renovate their kitchen. They can buy a new car. They can take a family vacation. They can increase their lifestyle.” Yesterday, Gary Cohn said he "can't guarantee" taxes won't go up for the middle class" and “the wealthy are not getting a tax cut" under Trump’s tax plan. Cohn is worth an estimated $266 million. (HuffPost)

5/ Senate Republicans released their budget blueprint, paving the way for tax reform without Democratic support. The 89-page plan sets up the use of budget reconciliation to advance the legislation with 50 votes in the Senate, rather than the usual 60-vote supermajority. Under the proposal, Republicans can add up to $1.5 trillion to the deficit over 10 years, giving lawmakers the ability to lower tax rates for businesses and individuals. Republicans believe they will offset the lost revenue with increased economic growth prompted by the tax cuts. Trump described the blueprint as a "giant, beautiful, massive, the biggest ever in our country, tax cut." (Politico / ABC News / Washington Post)

6/ The Treasury Department removed a paper from its website that contradicted Steven Mnuchin's argument that workers would benefit the most from a corporate income tax cut. The analysis found that workers pay 18% of the corporate tax while owners pay 82%. A Mnuchin spokeswoman said that other “studies show that 70% of the tax burden falls on American workers” and that a “lower corporate rate, as proposed in the [GOP tax] framework, will generate the incentives needed to increase productivity and wages, as well as create jobs.” (Wall Street Journal)

7/ The acting Homeland Security Secretary called Puerto Rico's recovery "really a good news story." San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz shot back: "Dammit, this is not a good news story. This is a 'people are dying' story. It's a life-or-death story." Early this week, Trump placed some blame on Puerto Rico for its situation, tweeting that the US territory had "broken infrastructure & massive debt." Today, he tweeted that "big decisions will have to be made as to the cost of its rebuilding!" (CNN / Politico / The Hill)

8/ The Justice Department wants Facebook to turn over information about people who "liked" an anti-Trump Facebook page. The department obtained search warrants requiring The DisruptJ20 Facebook page – now Resist This – and two others to hand over "nonpublic lists of people who planned to attend political organizing events and even the names of people who simply liked, followed, reacted to, commented on or otherwise engaged with the content on the Facebook page." Information from the three accounts could provide the personal details of thousands of activists who expressed interest in anti-Trump rallies. The DOJ originally requested that 1.3 million IP addresses from disruptj20.org be turned over, which a DC judge ruled that the web hosting company was obligated to turn over. (NBC News)

  • A social media campaign calling itself "Blacktivist" and linked to the Russian government used both Facebook and Twitter in an attempt to amplify racial tensions during the election. The Twitter account has been handed over to Congress with the Facebook account expected to be handed over in the coming days. (CNN)

9/ Russia warned the US not to take action against their government-funded media outlets RT and Sputnik: "every step against a Russian media outlet will be met with a corresponding response." Earlier this month, the Department of Justice notified the company supplying services for RT America that it is obligated to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act due to the work it does for RT. Federal investigators are also looking into whether RT and Sputnik were part of Russia's influence campaign in the 2016 election. (CNN)

  • The Senate confirmed Jon Huntsman to be the US ambassador to Russia. Huntsman testified earlier this month before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that there is "no question" that Moscow meddled in the election. Huntsman previously served as ambassador to China and Singapore. (Politico)

10/ The White House launched an internal probe of private email use after it was reported that Jared Kushner and several senior White House officials used private email accounts to conduct government business. At least five current and former White House officials have used private email, including Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Gary Cohn, Steve Bannon, and Reince Priebus. (Politico)

11/ The State Department ordered nonessential diplomats and families out of Cuba after several sonic attacks. At least 21 US diplomats and family members have been affected, causing an array of issues from hearing loss to dizziness to concussions. (CNN / New York Times)

12/ Republicans launched a group to fight Democratic-drawn political maps in court using data and legal efforts to “serve as a central resource to coordinate and collaborate” on redistricting for party organizations and members. Democrats setup a similar group earlier this year. Both the National Republican Redistricting Trust and the National Democratic Redistricting Committee are focused on influencing congressional and state legislative boundaries after the next census. (Politico)

poll/ 49% say NFL players who kneel during the National Anthem are doing the wrong thing to express their political opinion, while 43% say it's the right thing. (CNN)

poll/ 83% of voters support a path for illegal immigrants to become legal residents, up nine points since last year. 14% say “deport as many as possible,” down from a high of 30 percent in July 2015. (Fox News)

Day 252: No guarantees.

1/ Trump's top economic adviser "can't guarantee" taxes won't go up for the middle class. Gary Cohn said Trump's tax plan is "purely aimed at middle-class families," but "it depends which state you live in." He added that the rich will not benefit under the plan. Trump wanted to propose a 15% corporate rate rather than the 20% announced, which is down from the current 35%. (ABC News / Axios)

2/ Jared Kushner didn't disclose the existence of his personal email account to the Senate intelligence committee when he testified in July, which he used from January through August. The chair and vice chair of the committee wrote his attorney, Abbe Lowell, instructing Kushner to double-check that he has turned over all relevant documents to the committee, including those from his personal email account, "as well as all other email accounts, messaging apps, or similar communications channels you may have used, or that may contain information relevant to our inquiry." (CNN)

3/ Trump waived the shipping restrictions for Puerto Rico, which were limiting access to food, medicine, clothing, and supplies for hurricane relief. The move comes after criticism that the White House had been slow to help Puerto Rico recover from Hurricane Maria. The waiver will be in effect for 10 days and will cover all products being shipped to the island. The State Department evacuated 225 people from the Caribbean island of Dominica, who signed promissory notes agreeing to reimburse the State Department for travel costs. (CNN / Washington Post / The Hill)

UPDATE:

The State Department is not requiring anyone evacuated from hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico to sign promissory notes reimbursing the government for travel costs.

4/ Twitter briefed members of the Senate and House intelligence committees about fake news spread by Russian accounts and what steps the company took to stop it. Twitter told Congress that about 200 accounts are tied to some of the same Russian-linked sources that purchased ads on Facebook. The vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee criticized Twitter for failing to aggressively investigate the Russian misuse of its platform beyond the accounts linked to fraudulent profiles already identified by Facebook. Mark Warner said the company's presentation “showed an enormous lack of understanding from the Twitter team of how serious this issue is, the threat it poses to democratic institutions and again begs many more questions than they offered." He added: “Their response was frankly inadequate on every level.” (Recode / New York Times)

  • An Oxford University study shows there was a higher concentration of misinformation, polarizing political and conspiratorial news shared on Twitter from Russian, WikiLeaks, and junk news sources in the swing states Trump won than in uncontested states. (Oxford Internet Institute)

  • A Russian hacker who previously worked for Putin’s United Russia party was arrested in Barcelona on a US warrant. Prosecutors charged Peter Levashov with operating a network of tens of thousands of infected computers used by cyber criminals. (Reuters)

5/ The Senate Intelligence Committee has asked Facebook, Google, and Twitter to testify on Russian meddling at a public hearing on November 1st. The House Intelligence Committee also wants to hold a public hearing next month with representatives from several unnamed technology companies (hint, hint) in an effort to “better understand how Russia used online tools and platforms to sow discord in and influence our election.” (Reuters / New York Times / Politico)

6/ A Russian-backed group impersonated a real American Muslim organization on Facebook and Instagram to spread misinformation. The United Muslims of America pushed memes that claimed Hillary Clinton admitted the US “created, funded and armed” al-Qaeda and ISIS, claimed that John McCain was ISIS’ true founder, and alleged Osama bin Laden was a “CIA agent.” (The Daily Beast)

7/ Tom Price will repay taxpayers for his private jet travel, saying "I regret the concerns this has raised regarding the use of taxpayer dollars." He added: "The taxpayers won’t pay a dime for my seat on those planes." Price has taken at least 26 charter flights costing more than $400,000 since May to conduct official business. Price, however, will only reimburse taxpayers for just under $52,000. Meanwhile, EPA chief Scott Pruitt has taken at least four noncommercial and military flights since mid-February, costing taxpayers more than $58,000. House Democrats introduced legislation to prevent Trump administration officials from using private jets with taxpayers funds. (Politico / Washington Post / The Hill)

Day 251: Middle class miracle.

1/ Trump's tax plan will cut rates for businesses and the wealthy, while eliminating widely used exemptions and deductions. He dubbed the plan a "middle class miracle," which would collapse the tax brackets from seven down to three while raising the lowest rate from 10% to 12% and cut the top rate from 39.6% to 35%. The standard deduction would double to $12,000 for individuals and to $24,000 for married couples. The White House and the Republicans haven't said what loopholes would be closed in order to offset the trillions of dollars in revenue lost by cutting tax rates. Republicans want to pass a tax bill by the end of the year, which would be their first major legislative achievement this year. (Washington Post / Reuters / New York Times)

2/ Trump will cap refugee admissions at 45,000 in the next fiscal year. The ceiling has never been lower than 67,000, the number Ronald Reagan set in 1986, and the US hasn't taken in so few refugees in a single year since 2006, when 41,223 were allowed to enter. In 2016, the US welcomed 84,995 refugees with Obama pushing to raise that number to 110,000 in 2017. Defense and State Department officials, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the United Nations had recommended that Trump admit at least 50,000 refugees during the next fiscal year. Meanwhile, Stephen Miller and John Kelly advocated admitting as few as 15,000 refugees. (Associated Press / New York Times)

3/ The acting head of the DEA will resign after losing confidence in Trump’s respect for the law. Last month, Chuck Rosenberg sent an agency-wide memo rebuking Trump's suggestion that police were being “too nice” to suspects and shouldn't shield their heads from hitting the roof of the police car during arrests. “We must earn and keep the public trust and continue to hold ourselves to the very highest standards,” Rosenberg wrote. “Ours is an honorable profession and, so, we will always act honorably.” Rosenberg will resign at the end of the week. (Politico / New York Times)

4/ Trump deleted his tweets supporting Luther Strange after Strange lost in Alabama's primary runoff. The deleted tweets were archived by ProPublica and are no longer public on Twitter, but watchdog groups believe Trump is breaking the law when he deletes his tweets. Trump deleted at least three favorable tweets, including one saying that Strange “has been shooting up in the Alabama polls since my endorsement.” Strange lost to Roy Moore, who took nearly 55% of the vote. (New York Times / Washington Post)

5/ Russian-bought political Facebook ads criticized Hillary Clinton, promoted Trump, and supported Bernie Sanders even after his presidential campaign had ended. The ads appeared designed to create divisions while sometimes praising Trump, Sanders, and Green Party candidate Jill Stein. A number of the ads questioned Clinton’s authenticity and touted liberal criticisms of her candidacy. Trump took to Twitter to suggest that Facebook had colluded with the news media against him during the campaign, tweeting: "Facebook was always anti-Trump. The Networks were always anti-Trump hence, Fake News @nytimes (apologized) & @WaPo were anti-Trump. Collusion?" He added: "But the people were Pro-Trump! Virtually no President has accomplished what we have accomplished in the first 9 months – and economy roaring." (Politico / The Hill)

  • The Senate Intelligence Committee will call executives from Google to help understand Russian election meddling. The panel is seeking Google’s cooperation as it studies how Russia’s government might have exploited American social media and Internet companies during the 2016 campaign. (Politico)

6/ Three Americans with Russian business connections contributed almost $2 million to political funds controlled by Trump. All three men are associated with Viktor Vekselberg, one of the richest men in Russia, who holds frequent meetings with Putin. Donations began flowing to the RNC just as Trump was securing the Republican nomination and culminated in two large gifts – totaling $1.25 million – to the Trump inaugural fund following his victory. Unless the contributions were directed by a foreigner, they would be legal donations. (ABC News)

7/ The House Oversight Committee will investigate Tom Price's use of private jets for government business, which he's done at least 26 times and cost taxpayers more than $400,000. Trump told reporters that he's "not happy about it. I’m going to look at it. I am not happy about it, and I let him know it.” When asked if he would fire Price, he replied: "we'll see." (The Hill / New York Times / CNN)

poll/ 68% of Americans say the federal income tax system needs either a complete overhaul or major changes, cutting across party lines to include support by 77% of Republicans, 70% of independents, and 62% of Democrats. (CNN)

poll/ 57% of Americans disagree with Trump that the NFL should fire players who kneel. The results were split along party lines with 82% of Democrats and 29% of Republicans disagreeing with Trump's comments about firing football players. (Reuters)

poll/ 51% of Americans say they are embarrassed to have Trump serve as president. 59% say Trump is not honest, 60% say he does not have good leadership skills, and 61% say he does not share their values. 69% of voters want Trump to stop tweeting. (Quinnipiac)

Day 250: Height of hypocrisy.

1/ The House Oversight Committee asked the White House for information about the use of private emails for government duties by Jared Kushner and five other current and former senior aides. At least six of Trump’s closest advisers, including Steve Bannon, Reince Priebus, Gary Cohn, Stephen Miller, and Ivanka Trump have used private email addresses to discuss White House matters. Elijah Cummings said the committee would examine whether administration officials were “deliberately trying to circumvent (federal) laws by using personal, private, or alias email addresses to conduct official government business.” Hillary Clinton called the revelation "the height of hypocrisy." It is not illegal for White House officials to use private email accounts so long as they forward work-related messages to their government accounts so the records can be preserved. (Reuters / New York Times / ABC News)

2/ The Senate will not vote on the Graham-Cassidy bill to repeal Obamacare, Mitch McConnell told Republicans in a closed-door meeting. Opposition by Susan Collins, John McCain, and Rand Paul was enough to sink the legislation. McConnell said Republicans are not giving up on a health care bill, but will pivot to tax reform in search of a legislative victory. (CNN / Bloomberg / Politico / New York Times)

3/ Senate Republicans are discussing whether to merge another Obamacare repeal effort into tax reform. They would use budget reconciliation, which would allow them pass legislation with just 50 votes. Republicans have two options: attempt to pass both health care and tax reform for the 2018 fiscal year budget, or take up a budget for the 2019 fiscal year early next year and address an Obamacare repeal in that budget. Doing so would put health care back in the spotlight during the 2018 midterm elections. The CBO said the latest Senate health bill would cause millions of people to lose “comprehensive health insurance” over the next decade. (Politico / Axios / Forbes)

4/ Roger Stone rejected all allegations of collusion between Trump's associates and Russia during the 2016 election. In a closed House of Representatives Intelligence Committee hearing, Trump's longtime ally denied he had any contact with Russian operatives during the campaign. Stone also denied that he had any advance knowledge that emails of Clinton’s campaign chairman would be hacked and his emails released by WikiLeaks, despite tweeting days before that John Podesta’s “time in the barrel” would soon be coming. (Reuters / Washington Post)

5/ Robert Mueller could start interviewing current and former White House staff as soon as this week. On Mueller's short list are Reince Priebus, Sean Spicer, Hope Hicks, Don McGahn, Josh Raffel, and James Burnham. Related, Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, has said he's been informed by Mueller that he will be indicted as part of the FBI's Russia probe. Mueller has been looking at Manafort's possible financial and tax crimes, his contacts with Russian officials, and his work as a foreign agent with links to the Kremlin and Ukraine's pro-Russia Party of Regions. A Democratic senator said he's "99% sure" Michael Flynn will also be indicted. (CNN / Yahoo / Business Insider / Politico)

6/ The IRS Criminal Investigation division is sharing information with Robert Mueller about Trump's campaign associates, including Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn. IRS agents had been working before the election with the FBI to investigate Manafort in a similar probe that centered on possible money laundering and tax fraud issues. It's unclear if the special counsel has asked for or has obtained Trump's tax returns. (CNN)

7/ Wisconsin's strict voter ID laws kept nearly 17,000 registered voters from the polls in the November election. The November turnout in Wisconsin, 69.4% of eligible voters, was the lowest in a presidential election year since 2000. Trump defeated Clinton by 22,748 votes. (New York Times)

8/ Trump will travel to Puerto Rico next week to survey damage from Hurricane Maria after tweeting that the Caribbean island was "broken" and in "deep trouble" because of its outdated infrastructure and large debt. San Juan's mayor responded to Trump, saying "you don't put debt above people, you put people above debt." Puerto Rico's governor said the island was on the brink of a “humanitarian crisis," stressing that the United States commonwealth deserved the same treatment as hurricane-ravaged states. (Bloomberg / CNN / New York Times / The Hill)

poll/ Only 54% of Americans know that Puerto Ricans are US citizens. Puerto Rico is not a state and does not vote in presidential elections, but they do send one nonvoting representative to Congress. (New York Times)

Day 249: But her emails.

1/ The Graham-Cassidy bill appears dead on arrival after Susan Collins announced she'll join John McCain and Rand Paul in opposing the legislation. The latest health care proposal included more funding to Alaska, Arizona, Kentucky, and Maine in an effort to win votes from Lisa Murkowski, McCain, Paul, and Collins. Ted Cruz said he doesn’t support the bill and suggested that Mike Lee also opposes it. The three “No” votes likely kill the last-ditch GOP effort to repeal Obamacare this week before protections against a Democratic filibuster expire. (Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / Associated Press / CNN)

  • Healthcare.gov will be shut down for 12 hours on all but one Sunday morning during open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act. (PBS)

2/ Trump issued an executive order to expand his travel ban and permanently restrict visitors from eight countries. With his revised, temporary travel ban now expired, the new order will stay in place until Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Chad, North Korea, and Venezuela meet security requirements set by Homeland Security. Starting October 18th, the new order indefinitely bans almost all travel to the US from the eight countries. (NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post)

3/ Jared Kushner used a private email account through his first nine months in the White House to trade emails with senior White House officials and outside advisers. At times, Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus also used private email accounts to correspond with Kushner. During the campaign, Trump routinely attacked Hillary Clinton for using a personal email account to handle government business when she was secretary of state. Kushner's lawyer, Abbe Lowell, said he adhered to government record-keeping requirements by forwarding all the emails to his government account. (Politico / New York Times / Washington Post)

  • Ivanka Trump used a personal email address to communicate with a government official after her father took office. Documents from a Freedom of Information Act request show that on February 28, Trump emailed the administrator of the Small Business Administration from a personal domain. At the time, Trump was operating inside the White House in a nonofficial capacity. (Newsweek)

4/ Homeland Security notified 21 states that they had been targeted by Russian government hackers during the 2016 election campaign. Hackers penetrated computer systems in a handful of states, but there is no evidence that hackers tampered with voting machines. DHS left it to individual states to decide whether to publicly acknowledge if they had been targeted, but officials confirmed that Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wisconsin and Washington were among the states targeted. (Washington Post)

5/ The White House and Justice Department have missed deadlines and are withholding records related to the Russia investigation by the House intelligence committee and the Senate judiciary committee. The Senate judiciary committee has requested information about the DOJ's decision to prevent two senior FBI officials from sitting down for transcribed interviews to provide eyewitness accounts of the Comey firing. The House intelligence committee is threatening to hold a public hearing over documents the DOJ failed to turn over regarding the FBI's ties to the British operative who compiled a dossier of allegations on Trump's connections with Russia. (CNN)

6/ North Korea accused Trump of declaring war, saying it has “every right to make countermeasures, including the right to shoot down U.S. strategic bombers, even if they are not yet inside the air-space border of our country.” The North’s assertion that the US has declared war comes two days after Trump tweeted that "Little Rocket Man (and North Korea) won’t be around much longer!” while the Air Force flew B-1B Lancer bombers and F-15C Eagle fighter escorts in international airspace near North Korea.

Last week, White House aides warned Trump not to personally attack the North Korean leader during his United Nations speech, saying that insulting Kim Jong Un in such a prominent venue could irreparably escalate tensions. Ignoring the advice, Trump went ahead and said the US may have to "totally destroy" North Korea and that "rocket man is on a suicide mission." The White House rejected the notion that the US had declared war, calling the suggestion "absurd." (New York Times / CNN / Politico / NBC News)

7/ Tom Price will stop using taxpayer-funded travel on private jets, pending a formal review by his department’s inspector general. The Health and Human Services Secretary has spent more than $400,000 on at least 24 private charter jets since May. (Politico)

8/ Steve Bannon tried to place a mole inside Facebook days before he took over Trump’s president campaign in August 2016. The plan was "for Breitbart to flood the zone with candidates" for a Public Policy Manager role at Facebook’s WhatsApp, who would then report back to Bannon. Breitbart News Tech Editor Milo Yiannopoulos forwarded Bannon’s request to a group of contracted researchers, one of whom responded that it “Seems dificult [sic] to do quietly without them becoming aware of efforts.” (BuzzFeed News)

9/ More than 200 football players, coaches, and team owners sat, knelt or raised their fists in defiance during the national anthem on Sunday after Trump called for NFL teams to suspend or fire players who protested the anthem. Several teams stayed in their locker rooms during the anthem. "Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now," Trump said to a crowd Friday night at a rally in Huntsville, Alabama. "Out. He's fired. He's fired." Later, Trump tweeted that “If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag and Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!”

Trump Jr. piled on, attacking Roger Goodell after the NFL commissioner released a statement criticizing Trump's comments, saying “If only Roger Goodell cared as much about domestic abuse and traumatic brain injury as he does about disrespecting America." Steven Mnuchin defended Trump's comments, saying that players "have the right to have the First Amendment off the field."

But that's not all. Trump also disinvited the Golden State Warriors from the traditional White House visit because Stephen Curry said he didn't want to go. LeBron James then called Trump a "bum," and tweeted that going to the "White House was a great honor until you showed up!" Phew! (New York Times / Associated Press / Washington Post)

poll/ 52% of Americans disapprove of the Graham-Cassidy health care bill. 20% said they approved of the Republican legislation aimed at repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, while 28% don't have an opinion. (CBS News)

poll/ 86% of Americans support DACA, the residency program for undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children. 62% oppose also Trump's demand for a wall on the US border with Mexico. (ABC News)

poll/ 29% of Americans hold a favorable view of the Republican Party – down 13 percentage points since March. The previous low point for the GOP was 30% – hit twice – in 2013 following the shutdown over Obamacare, and 1998, in the wake of the House approving two articles of impeachment against then Bill Clinton. (CNN)

poll/ 72% of Americans trust military generals more than Trump on North Korea. 42% trust Trump "not at all." 67% oppose a preemptive strike by the US on North Korea. (Washington Post)

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 the 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. (