What The Fuck Just Happened Today?

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

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Day 909: "Not unhappy."

1/ The House voted to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in criminal contempt of Congress for failing to provide documents about the Trump administration's efforts to add a question on citizenship to the 2020 census. Barr and Ross withheld documents that had been subpoenaed by the Oversight and Reform Committee as part of its probe into the origins of the citizenship question. The Trump administration claimed it needed the citizen question to enforce the Voting Rights Act. In May, however, evidence emerged that the question was intended to specifically give an electoral advantage to Republicans and whites. Ross also previously testified before Congress that he added the question "solely" at the request of the Justice Department. It later came out that he'd asked the department to make the request. While Barr and Ross face up to a year behind bars and a $100,000 fine, it's unlikely the Justice Department will pursue the case, because Barr is the head of the Justice Department. (Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

2/ The House voted to table a resolution to impeach Trump, put forth by Rep. Al Green, who used a procedural mechanism that required action within two days. Green previously forced two votes on advancing articles of impeachment against Trump in 2017 and 2018, when Republicans controlled the House. (NBC News / Politico / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

  • READ: The full text of the House impeachment resolution against Trump. (NBC News)

3/ Former Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa said his country was aware that WikiLeaks cofounder Julian Assange was interfering in the 2016 presidential election from inside Ecuador's embassy in London. "WikiLeaks' justification was that they were providing truthful information. Sure, but (it) was just about Hillary Clinton. Not about Trump. So, they were not saying all the truth. And not saying all the truth is called manipulation." Surveillance reports describe how Assange transformed the embassy into a command center to release a series of damaging disclosures intended to undermine Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election. The reports describe how Assange met with Russians and hackers, as well as computer hardware to facilitate data transfers from Russian operatives. "We did notice that he was interfering in the elections," Correa said, "and we do not allow that because we have principles, very clear values, as we would not like anyone to interfere in our elections." (CNN / CNN)

4/ A November 1992 tape shows Trump and Jeffrey Epstein at Mar-a-Lago laughing, pointing, and discussing young women dancing at a party. Trump is seen gesturing to a woman and appears to say to Epstein, "Look at her, back there. … She's hot." Epstein smiled and nodded. The party took place the same year that Trump a private party with Epstein and more than two dozen "calendar girls," who were flown in to provide them with entertainment. (New York Times / NBC News)

  • 📌 Day 902: Trump and Epstein were once the only attendees at a party with roughly two dozen women at Mar-a-Lago. 28 women were flown in for a "calendar girl" competition that was organized at Trump's request. (New York Times)

  • 📌 Day 901: In 2002, Trump told New York Magazine that Epstein was "a terrific guy," who "likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side." Today, however, Trump told reporters that the two "had a falling out" about 15 years ago and that he "was not a fan of his, that I can tell you." (Washington Post / Associated Press / Miami Herald / CNN / Washington Post)

5/ Trump said he's "not unhappy" with the reaction to his racist comments that four congresswomen of color should "go back" where "they came" from. "The only thing they have, that they can do is, now, play the race card," Trump said. "Which they've always done." Yesterday, the House voted on a resolution condemning Trump's rhetoric as "racist comments that have legitimized increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color." (Daily Mail)

poll/ 59% of Americans called Trump's tweets targeting the four congresswomen "un-American," with 68% calling Trump's tweets offensive. 57% of Republicans, however, said they agreed with Trump's tweet that the congresswomen should to go back to their "original" countries. (USA Today)

poll/ Support for Trump among Republicans rose by five percentage points following Trump's racist tweets and comments that the four congresswomen of color should "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came." Trump's approval rating among Republicans now stands at 72%. (Reuters)

poll/ 51% of voters supported the deportation raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, compared with 35% of voters who oppose those efforts. (Politico)


Notables.

  1. Rand Paul blocked an attempt to pass an extension of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. Paul objected to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's attempt tried to bring the House-passed bill to a vote, pointing to the growing debt and arguing that any new spending should be offset by cuts to other spending. The Senate, however, is still expected to pass the bill before leaving for their summer recess on August 2nd. (The Hill)

  2. The White House Office of Management and Budget projected that the federal deficit would surpass $1 trillion this year. It's the first time the U.S. deficit has exceeded the $1 trillion level since the 4-year period following the Great Recession. (Axios)

  3. Federal prosecutors in New York ended their investigation into the Trump Organization's role in hush money payments made to protect Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign. A federal judge ordered prosecutors to release additional information connected to their related probe of Michael Cohen. Last August, Cohen admitted to making the illegal payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, at Trump's behest to silence them ahead of the election. (CNN / Politico / NBC News)

  4. Rand Paul asked Trump to be the administration's chief diplomatic emissary to Iran. Trump approved of Paul sitting down with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in an attempt to restart negotiations with Iran. Some administration officials are concerned that Paul's intervention threatens to undermine Trump's "maximum pressure" campaign against Tehran. (Politico)

Day 908: "Join us in condemning the president's racist tweets."

1/ Republicans temporarily blocked a resolution denouncing Trump's racists tweets that four congresswomen of color should "go back" where "they came" from as "racist comments." In a floor speech, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged Democrats and Republicans to "join us in condemning the president's racist tweets" and that the "comments from the White House" are "disgraceful" and "disgusting" and that "these comments are racist." Republican Rep. Doug Collins interjected and asked Pelosi to "rephrase" her statement, which was then ruled as out of order under House rules that lawmakers may not make disparaging remarks about the president on the floor of the House. Following a two-hour long delay, the House voted along party lines to allow Pelosi to refer to Trump's tweets as racist, overriding House rules and GOP objections. That final vote on the resolution condemning Trump's rhetoric as "racist comments that have legitimized increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color" passed largely along party lines, 240-187. (Politico / NBC News / New York Times / CNN / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

2/ Trump – again – denied that his racist tweets were racist, urging House Republicans to "not show 'weakness'" and reject the condemnation resolution. Trump called the resolution a "con game" and claimed that his tweets "were NOT Racist," because "I don't have a Racist bone in my body!" Trump then accused the four Democratic congresswomen – Ayanna Pressley, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar – of "spewing some of the most vile, hateful, and disgusting things ever said by a politician in the House or Senate." (New York Times / Washington Post / The Guardian / Politico)

3/ Kellyanne Conway responded a White House reporter's question about Trump's racist tweets with "What's your ethnicity?" Andrew Feinberg had asked Conway which countries Trump was referring to when he suggested that Ayanna Pressley, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar should "go back" to where they came from. All four congresswomen are U.S. citizens. (Daily Beast / NBC News)

  • Kellyanne Conway's husband wrote an opinion piece saying "Trump is a racist president." (Washington Post)

4/ The Justice Department will not bring federal civil rights charges against the New York Police Department officer accused of fatally choking Eric Garner. Attorney General William Barr made the decision not to bring charges due to concerns that prosecutors could not successfully prove the officer acted willfully following a dispute between a Justice Department team from New York and the Civil Rights Division in Washington. Daniel Pantaleo will never face criminal prosecution for Garner's death, despite bystanders filming the arrest as Garner gasped: "I can't breathe." (New York Times / CNN / Politico)

5/ The Trump administration will begin enforcing a new regulation that taxpayer-funded family planning clinics must stop referring women for abortions – effective immediately. Health and Human Services formally notified the clinics that it will begin enforcing the new rule on Monday, in addition to a requirement that clinics maintain separate finances from facilities that provide abortions. A separate requirement that both kinds of facilities cannot be under the same roof is scheduled to take effect next year. (CBS News / Associated Press)


Notables

  1. A federal judge banned Roger Stone from social media after ruling that he violated a previous gag order that banned him from discussing his case in the media or public. "What am I supposed to do with you?" U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson asked rhetorically. In February, Stone posted a photo of Jackson with crosshairs from a gun. (NBC News / CNBC / CNN / Washington Post)

  2. Trump's former campaign communications chief hired numerous prostitutes and visited "hand job" massage parlors as recently as a few months ago. Jason Miller made the admission while testifying on in Washington D.C. in connection to his lawsuit against Gizmodo, accusing the media company of defaming him with a story citing an allegation he slipped an "abortion pill" to a stripper he impregnated. (Mediate)

  3. The House Oversight Committee is expanding an investigation into the use of personal email by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Chairman Elijah Cummings said the move came after "disturbing new revelations" released by the Education Department's inspector general in May about DeVos' use of personal email while on the job. (Politico)

  4. Trump named healthcare economist Tomas Philipson as the acting chair of his Council of Economic Advisers. Philipson was already a member of the council, and teaches the economics of healthcare at the University of Chicago. He also served as a top economist at the FDA and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Philipson replaced White House economist Kevin Hassett, who announced his departure on Twitter last month. (NPR)

  5. The revenue from Trump's tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods is not enough to cover the cost of the bailout for farmers, nor will it be enough to compensate all of the other industries hurt by the ongoing trade war. The tariffs will have brought in $20.8 billion as of Wednesday, but Trump has already committed to paying $28 billion to the farmers hurt by the trade war. The government hasn't provided similar bailouts to other businesses or industries that have lost contracts and revenue as a result of Chinese retaliation. (New York Times)

  6. The Department of Agriculture will relocate 547 employees from the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture to an office building in Kansas City. Employees called the move an effort to "eviscerate" the agency and "silence" researchers doing work that runs counter to the administration's goals. The Trump administration claimed the move would save taxpayers money by bringing researchers closer to the farmers they serve. (NBC News)

  7. The Interior Department will relocate 81% of its headquarters staff to west of the Rockies by 2020. Trump hasn't nominated a permanent director for Bureau of Land Management after more than two-and-a-half years in office. (Washington Post)

  8. Rep. Al Green plans to file articles of impeachment against Trump tonight, forcing a floor vote before the House departs for its August recess. Democrats have viewed Robert Mueller's appearance on Capitol Hill as a potential inflection point to begin impeachment proceedings. Green's move, however, will force House Democrats to take a position sooner than expected. Green has forced two votes on impeachment in the past, one in 2017 and one in 2018, while Republicans controlled the House. (Washington Post / Politico)

Day 907: Racist in chief.

1/ Trump told four liberal congresswomen of color to "go back" and "fix" their "broken and crime infested" countries. All four are American citizens and born in the United States, except for one, who became a refugee at age 10 when a civil war devastated Somalia. While he did not mention them by name, Trump's tweets were directed at the members of the so-called "squad," who were elected to Congress in 2018: Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley. Republicans remained largely silent after Trump's attack. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, called the tweets "xenophobic" and accused Trump of reaffirming his plan to make "America white again." (New York Times / Associated Press / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Yahoo News / CNN)

  • Trump racists tweets, explained. (Vox)

2/ Trump denied that his racist tweets were racist, insisting that "If you're not happy here, then you can leave." Earlier, Trump accused the four congresswomen of "spewing" "racist hatred" and that "many people" agree with his view that they "hate our country." (CNN / The Guardian / BuzzFeed News / New York Times / Washington Post)

  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he doesn't believe Trump's racist tweets were racist. "I understand what the President's comment is," Mnuchin said. " I'm not concerned about the President's comment." (CNN)

3/ The four congresswomen condemned Trump's racist tweets, calling them "the agenda of white nationalists" and "a continuation of his racist and xenophobic playbook." During a press conference, Rep. Pressley responded to Trump's comments, saying: "Our squad is big. Our squad includes any person committed to building a more equitable and just world, and that is the work that we want to get back to and given the size of this squad and this great nation, we cannot, we will not be silenced." Trump – again – attacked the four congresswomen in a series of tweets, saying, "IF YOU ARE NOT HAPPY HERE, YOU CAN LEAVE." (Washington Post / CNN / CNN / CBS News)

4/ House Democrats are drafting a resolution to condemn Trump's racist tweets. Pelosi said Trump "went beyond his own low standards using disgraceful language" and implored House Republicans to vote with Democrats to condemn Trump's language. (Politico)

5/ Trump's threats of mass ICE raids and deportations failed to materialize on Sunday, marking the second time Trump has threatened large-scale ICE enforcement actions that never came to fruition. ICE would not confirm any arrests. Trump, however, claimed that "The ICE raids were very successful — people came into our country illegally, illegally. Many, many were taken out on Sunday, you just didn't know about it." (NPR / Washington Post / Politico)

  • Mike Pence visited two detention facilities in Texas, including a Border Patrol station where hundreds of men were crowded in sweltering cages without cots. Agents wore face masks while Pence described the facility as smelling "horrendous" and called the experience "tough stuff." A group of detained men chanted: "No shower, no shower!" (Chicago Tribune / NBC News / The Guardian / CNN)

6/ The Trump administration moved to end asylum protections for most Central American migrants. The new rule would require asylum-seeking immigrants who pass through a third country on their way to the U.S. to first apply for refugee status in that country rather than at the U.S. border. The rule is expected to go into effect on Tuesday, and would also apply to children who have crossed the border by themselves. The only exceptions are for people who were trafficked, people who pass through a country that isn't a party to one of the major international refugee treaties, and people who sought asylum in a country on the way to the U.S. but were denied. (NPR / Associated Press)

7/ Trump is considering firing Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross after the attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census failed. Trump has expressed frustration with Ross in the past over failed trade negotiations, but Ross' personal friendship with Trump has saved him. Ross may still be in the clear now that Labor Secretary Alex Acosta resigned last week, but some White House officials expect Ross to be gone as soon as this summer. Trump is reportedly making calls to allies outside the White House and musing about replacing Ross. (CNBC / NBC News)

8/ At Trump's request, Kellyanne Conway will ignore a House Oversight Committee subpoena and refuse to testify about a government watchdog's findings that she violated the Hatch Act, which bars federal employees from engaging in politics during work. (Washington Post / Politico)

Day 904: Not a good one.

1/ At least 18 babies under the age of two – "including nine infants under the age of one" – were separated from their parents at the border and "kept apart for 20 days to half a year," according to a report by the House Oversight Committee. The report provides new information about at least 2,648 children who were separated from their parents. Some were kept at Border Patrol facilities longer than the 72-hour limit and many were shuffled around to multiple government facilities. In some cases, parents were not sent to federal criminal custody as intended under the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" border policy, while others were taken into custody at first "and then returned within a day or two likely because prosecutors declined to prosecute their cases or because they were sentenced to time served for the misdemeanor of illegal entry." (CNN)

  • Border Patrol agents at the U.S.-Mexico border are circulating unofficial commemorative coins mocking the task of caring for migrant children. On the front, the coin declares "KEEP THE CARAVANS COMING." The coin's reverse side features the Border Patrol logo and three illustrations: a Border Patrol agent bottle-feeding an infant; an agent fingerprinting a teen boy; and a U.S. Border Patrol van. The text reads: "FEEDING ** PROCESSING ** HOSPITAL ** TRANSPORT." (ProPublica)

2/ Robert Mueller's Capitol Hill testimony will be delayed one week under a tentative arrangement with the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees. Mueller's testimony was postponed to give lawmakers more time to question him about his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible obstruction of justice by Trump. Mueller was initially scheduled to appear on July 17 before both the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees in back-to-back sessions where 22 members from each committee would get to question the special counsel. Members of the Judiciary Committee, however, were concerned that two hours would be insufficient time to discuss the 10 areas of potential obstruction of justice by Trump identified in the Mueller report. (Politico / CNN / Washington Post)

3/ Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta will resign amid controversy about a plea deal he brokered for sex offender Jeffrey Epstein while serving as a U.S. attorney in Florida more than a decade ago. Trump called Acosta "a great Labor secretary not a good one" and "a tremendous talent." Epstein was arrested over the weekend and charged in the Southern District of New York with sex trafficking dozens of girls. (New York Times / NBC News / Politico / CNBC)

4/ California lawmakers passed legislation mandating all presidential and state gubernatorial candidates release their tax information in order to appear on the state's ballot. The bill passed with a 57-17 vote, and requires candidates to share their income tax returns from the last five taxable years with the California state government. The legislation also includes an "urgency clause," which allows it to take effect immediately and will force the candidates currently running for president in 2020, including Trump, to comply with the law. (ABC 7 News / The Hill)

5/ Trump told confidants he wants to remove Dan Coats as director of national intelligence. Trump has also been floating potential replacements since at least February. (Axios)

6/ The U.S. has gone seven months without a permanent defense chief – the longest stretch in Pentagon history. There is also no confirmed deputy secretary of defense, and several other significant civilian and military positions at the Pentagon remain in limbo — more than at any other time in recent history. (Associated Press)

7/ The House voted 251-170 to restrain Trump's ability to strike Iran without first getting Congress's approval. Last month, Trump said he believed he did not need congressional approval to strike Iran and was reportedly on the brink of a retaliatory missile strike before abruptly reversing course minutes before launch. Republican leaders in the House and Senate have argued that the language would send a bad message to Tehran and would complicate Trump's ability to manage tensions. (New York Times / Washington Post)

8/ Trump attacked Paul Ryan in response to criticism from the former House speaker. On Thursday, Trump claimed that Ryan "was not a talent," "wasn't a leader," and was a "lame duck for a long time as Speaker." Trump's comments follow the release of excerpts from a new book in which Ryan said Trump "didn't know anything about government" and that "We've gotten so numbed by it all. Not in government, but where we live our lives, we have a responsibility to try and rebuild. Don't call a woman a 'horse face.' Don't cheat on your wife. Don't cheat on anything. Be a good person. Set a good example." Trump continued the attack on Friday, saying that "The only success Paul Ryan had was the time that he was with me. He was a baby. He didn't know what the hell he was doing." (Politico / NBC News / Axios)

Day 903: Collateral damage.

1/ The Trump administration is scheduled to begin coordinated raids to arrest at least 2,000 immigrants who have been ordered deported. The raids – scheduled to begin on Sunday after initially being postponed in part to resistance at Immigration and Customs Enforcement – will be conducted by ICE agents over multiple days. The raids are expected to include "collateral" deportations, where ICE agents might detain any immigrants present when the raid occurs. Agents have expressed unease about arresting babies and young children, noting that the raids could have limited success since word has already spread among immigrant communities about how to avoid arrest. (New York Times / Wall Street Journal / CNN / Associated Press)

  • 📌Day 886: Trump delayed planned nationwide ICE raids for two weeks to see if Congress can "work out a solution." Immigration agents had planned to sweep and deport people living the U.S. illegally in 10 major cities beginning Sunday. Hours after defending the plan, Trump delayed the raids on Saturday. Earlier in the week, Trump threatened to arrest and deport "millions of illegal aliens" next week. ICE leaders expressed concerns that officers' safety would be in jeopardy because too many details about the raids had been made public. (Associated Press / New York Times / CNN / Politico / ABC News)

  • 📌 Day 894: Trump threatened to increase ICE raids and deportations of undocumented immigrants after the Fourth of July holiday, saying "they're going to be gone, they're going back to their countries. They go back home." Trump praised the Mexican government for taking steps to curb the flow of migrants reaching the U.S. border, claiming, "It was because of tariffs that they're doing it, but the point is they're doing a great job." Trump then reiterated his threat to deport all undocumented immigrants, "because that's what we do." Trump delayed planned nationwide ICE raids last month for two weeks to see if Congress can "work out a solution." (NBC News)

  • The House Oversight and Reform Committee requested business information from the companies managing detention centers at the southern border. The committee asked for an accounting of the hundreds of millions of dollars in government contracts the Trump administration gave out. (NBC News)

2/ Trump will abandon his effort to add a citizenship question on the 2020 census. Instead, Trump will take executive action instructing the Commerce Department to obtain citizenship data "through other means," including existing federal records. The administration is already printing census forms without the citizenship question after the Supreme Court ruled last month that the justification by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for adding the question was inadequate and "contrived." Trump acknowledged last week that the proposed citizenship question was part of a longterm Republican plan to use congressional redistricting to tilt power in their favor. "Number one, you need it for Congress – you need it for Congress for districting," Trump said. "You need it for appropriations – where are the funds going?" (ABC News / Politico / NBC News / New York Times / The Guardian / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / NPR / CNN / Associated Press)

  • 📌Day 889: The Supreme Court blocked the citizenship question from being added to the 2020 census. The court found that while the Department of Commerce had a right to reinstate the question, the administration provided a "contrived" justification for doing so. The Trump administration claimed the citizenship question was necessary to better comply with federal voting rights law, while critics argued it is an attempt to intimidate immigrant households. The Department of Commerce will now have to justify the addition of the question, which raises the question of whether the Trump administration will have enough time or the ability to add it before the forms have to be printed. The administration previously told the court that the questionnaire needed to be printed by the end of June. The Census Bureau found the question would reduce the response rate –especially in immigrant communities – and result in an estimated 6.5 million people not being counted. (CNN / NBC News / New York Times / NPR / Washington Post)

3/ Trump hosted a "social media summit" at the White House for his political allies, including a conspiracy theorist, a meme creator, and a plagiarist. Some Republican lawmakers and GOP campaign strategists were also invited. Facebook, Google, and Twitter, however, were reportedly excluded from the summit, which focused on allegations of social media bias against conservatives. Trump accused the tech companies of exhibiting "terrible bias" and silencing his supporters. Ironically, Twitter experienced an outage during the summit. Prior to the outage, attendees had been tweeting selfies. (NPR / Washington Post / CNN / Politico)

4/ The House Judiciary Committee authorized 12 subpoenas targeting Trump administration officials, including Trump family members and Jared Kushner. The committee also approved a separate group of subpoenas seeking information about the Trump administration's practice of separating children from their families at the border. Democratic leaders in the House also scheduled a full vote to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress for their refusal to turn over documents related to the citizenship question. (New York Times / Politico / Washington Post / CNN / NBC News / USA Today)

  • 📌 Day 901: The subpoena targets include Jared Kushner, Jeff Sessions, Rod Rosenstein, Michael Flynn, John Kelly and Corey Lewandowski, as well as Dylan Howard and David Pecker, two executives at American Media, Inc., and Keith Davidson, an attorney who previously represented Stormy Daniels. Republicans called the subpoenas as an effort to "relitigate" the Mueller investigation. (Politico)

5/ A senior military officer accused Trump's nominee for the next vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of sexual misconduct. The officer says Gen. John Hyten subjected her to a series of unwanted sexual advances, including kissing, hugging, and rubbing up against her while she was one of his aides in 2017. She also said Hyten tried to derail her military career after she rejected his advances. (Associated Press)

6/ The Trump Organization cancelled a planned event with a Miami-area strip club at Trump's Doral golf resort, because the charity associated with the event dropped out after seeing the press coverage that golfers could pay for a dancer to serve as their "caddy girl" while they played golf. "Now that the charity has removed its affiliation," a Trump Organization spokesperson said, "the event will no longer be taking place at our property and all amounts paid will be refunded." (Washington Post)

  • 📌Day 902: Trump's golf club will host a tournament put on by a Miami-area strip club, allowing golfers to pay for a dancer to serve as their "caddy girl" while they play golf. The Trump Organization confirmed the event and said it was for a "worthwhile cause" — a Miami children's charity. Trump still owns Doral and the Trump name and family crest were featured prominently in the strip club's advertising. Participation in the event ranges from $450 for a single player to $1,800 for a group of four with VIP upgrades available. (Washington Post / CNN)

7/ The Trump administration withdrew a proposal to lower prescription drug prices, which would have ended the practice of drugmakers giving rebates to insurance middlemen in government programs, like Medicare. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, who backed the plan, clashed with senior White House advisers, who had sought to delay or water down the proposal. Separately, a federal judge threw out a rule earlier this week that would have required pharmaceutical companies to list the price of their drugs in TV advertisements. (Axios / CNN / New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

Day 902: A worthwhile cause.

1/ Migrant children at an overcrowded detention facility in Arizona reported being sexually assaulted and retaliated against by agents for protesting, according to dozens of first-hand accounts collected by government case managers. An officer put his hands inside the bra of a 15-year-old from Honduras, pulled down her underwear and groped her as part of a "routine" pat down in front of other immigrants and officers. Guards removed sleeping mats from the cells of children who complained about the taste of the water and food. The reports also describes unsanitary and overcrowded conditions similar to detention facilities in Texas. (NBC News)

2/ Immigration and Customs Enforcement started using three new for-profit immigration detention centers, despite instructions from Congress to reduce the number of people in detention. The agency is now detaining migrants at a Mississippi prison operated by CoreCivic, a jail run by LaSalle Corrections, and the South Louisiana ICE Processing Center, run by GEO Group in Basile. A spokesman for ICE confirmed that all three facilities started housing immigrant detainees at the end of last month. (Mother Jones)

3/ A federal appeals court dismissed an emoluments lawsuit against Trump. The judges rejected the premise of the case that the Trump International Hotel – blocks from the White House – had violated the domestic and foreign emoluments clauses of the Constitution by accepting money from state and foreign governments at Trump's hotel in downtown Washington. While Trump stepped back from day-to-day management of the businesses, he still maintains ownership. "Even if government officials were patronizing the hotel to curry the president's favor," the court said, "there is no reason to conclude that they would cease doing so were the president enjoined from receiving income from the hotel. After all, the hotel would still be publicly associated with the president, would still bear his name, and would still financially benefit members of his family." All three judges on the panel were appointed by Republican presidents. (NPR / New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / CNBC)

  • 📌 Day 887: A federal judge ruled that the Democrats' emoluments lawsuit against Trump can proceed. District Judge Emmet Sullivan said discovery could begin Friday, and Democrats are expected seek financial information, interviews and other records from Trump and the Trump Organization. The Trump administration can still try to delay or block Democrats from issuing subpoenas by appealing directly to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to intervene. (Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 810: The Department of Justice recently adopted a narrow interpretation of the emoluments clause, which would exempt Trump's hotels from a ban on foreign payments or gifts. DOJ filings since June 2017 reveal a new interpretation that allows federal officials "to accept unlimited amounts of money from foreign governments, as long as the money comes through commercial transactions with an entity owned by the federal official." (The Guardian)

4/ Trump's golf club will host a tournament put on by a Miami-area strip club, allowing golfers to pay for a dancer to serve as their "caddy girl" while they play golf. The Trump Organization confirmed the event and said it was for a "worthwhile cause" — a Miami children's charity. Trump still owns Doral and the Trump name and family crest were featured prominently in the strip club's advertising. Participation in the event ranges from $450 for a single player to $1,800 for a group of four with VIP upgrades available. (Washington Post / CNN)

5/ Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta defended his handling of a 2008 plea deal with billionaire Jeffrey Epstein amid criticism that the deal he brokered was too lenient for the sex offender. Epstein was indicted on Monday by the U.S. attorney in Manhattan on child sex trafficking charges. Trump encouraged Acosta to hold a news conference to defend himself, which was seen as a test for whether Acosta would keep his job. "[Trump] has very publicly made clear that I've got his support," Acosta said, adding that "Times have changed, and coverage of this case has certainly changed," and that "the facts are being overlooked." (Politico / NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post)

  • Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney privately urged Trump to dismiss Acosta. Mulvaney told Trump that the information surrounding the 2008 agreement Acosta struck with Epstein would hurt the administration. (Politico)

  • Trump and Epstein were once the only attendees at a party with roughly two dozen women at Mar-a-Lago. 28 women were flown in for a "calendar girl" competition that was organized at Trump's request. (New York Times)

  • Acosta attempted to cut to the 2020 budget for combating child labor, forced labor, and human trafficking from $68 million to $18.5 million. The International Labor Affairs Bureau helps fund programs in countries through civil society organizations and other non-governmental groups to address the root of child labor and trafficking, as well as maintaining a list of products and source countries that the office has reason to believe use child and forced labor. (Daily Beast)

6/ The Justice Department is attempting to discourage two of Robert Mueller's deputies from testifying before Congress. Lawmakers previously reached an agreement with the DOJ to have the two former prosecutors answer questions behind closed doors next week, but the DOJ told the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees last week that it was opposed to the testimony and instructed both men not to appear. It is unclear whether the DOJ's intervention will impact the prosecutors' appearances, but the move suggests that the previous agreement between Congress and the Justice Department may be in jeopardy. (New York Times)

7/ Trump's $1.7 million military-style July Fourth parade bankrupted the Washington, D.C. security fund used to pay for extra security and anti-terrorism measures in the nation's capital. D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser estimated that the fund will be running a $6 million deficit by Sept. 30, noting that the account was never reimbursed for $7.3 million in expenses from Trump's 2017 inauguration. (Washington Post / NBC News)

8/ Trump reportedly asked aides to find a way to weaken the U.S. dollar in an effort to boost the economy ahead of the 2020 presidential election. Trump has grown concerned that the strengthening dollar is a threat to his economic agenda, which he expects to carry him to a second term. Trump asked about the dollar in job interviews with both Judy Shelton and Christopher Waller last week, who he selected for seats on the Federal Reserve's board. (Bloomberg / CNBC)

  • Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell signaled that an interest rate cut will likely happen this month, because Trump's trade war "continue[s] to weigh on the U.S. economic outlook." Trump has repeatedly attacked the Fed, blaming Powell for hurting the economy by keeping interest rates too high and threatening to try to remove Powell if the situation doesn't change. Powell, meanwhile, told lawmakers that the U.S. economy is doing "reasonably well," but business investment has "slowed notably" due to uncertainty around trade and global growth. (Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News)

  • The White House plans to send the the North American Free Trade Agreement replacement to Congress after Sept. 1, setting up a vote on Trump's United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement by the end of the year. The Office of U.S. Trade Representative and the White House, however, disagree over how aggressive to push the deal through Congress. (CNBC)

9/ A State Department intelligence official resigned in protest after the White House blocked portions of his written congressional testimony on climate change and its threat to national security. Rod Schoonover spoke before the House Intelligence Committee in June that climate change is a "possibly catastrophic" threat to national security, but the White House would not let him submit evidence and data supporting his assessments. (Wall Street Journal / Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 872: The White House blocked a State Department intelligence agency from submitting written testimony that human-caused climate change is "possibly catastrophic" to national security. The written testimony by the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research for a House Intelligence Committee hearing outlined that "absent extensive mitigating factors or events, we see few plausible future scenarios where significant — possibly catastrophic — harm does not arise from the compounded effects of climate change." Officials from the White House's Office of Legislative Affairs, Office of Management and Budget, and National Security Council all objected to parts of the testimony because it did not align with the Trump administration's official stance. The analyst, Rod Schoonover, was ultimately allowed to speak before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, but the White House refused to approve Schoonover's written testimony for entry into the permanent Congressional Record. (Washington Post / New York Times)

Day 901: Radiating insecurity.

1/ A federal judge rejected a Trump administration request to assign a new legal team to a lawsuit that blocked the addition of the citizenship question to the 2020 census. U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman called the request "patently deficient" and that the U.S. had provided "no reasons, let alone 'satisfactory reasons,' for the substitution of counsel." The Justice Department had announced its intention earlier this week to swap out the legal team on the case, but didn't explain why. (Bloomberg / Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 900: Trump is "very seriously" considering an executive order to get the citizenship question on the 2020 census despite statements last week from both his Department of Justice and his secretary of commerce that the administration was printing the census without the question. The Justice Department also assigned a new team of attorneys to defend Trump's attempts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census following the Supreme Court's ruling that effectively blocked the question. A statement released by the DOJ gave no clear reason for the change to the legal team, but experts say the team is likely to face questions on multiple fronts after the Trump administration spent the last 15 months giving conflicting explanations about why the question should be added. Trump also recently ordered officials to keep pursuing the addition of the question, even if it means delaying the constitutionally mandated decennial survey. (New York Times / Politico / Washington Post / CNN / ABC News / Axios)

2/ House Democrats plan to move forward with criminal contempt proceedings against Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for defying congressional subpoenas related to the addition of a citizenship question on the 2020 Census. The move is largely symbolic one, unlikely to lead to many tangible consequences. The DOJ will most likely refuse to charge Barr or any other cabinet secretary with a crime, and has even urged officials not to comply with the House Oversight and Reform Committee's subpoenas. (Politico)

3/ Democrats in Congress called on Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta to resign over a controversial plea deal he brokered as a U.S. attorney that gave a lenient sentence to Jeffrey Epstein, who served 13 months for sexually abusing dozens of young women and underage girls. Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer said Acosta "must step down" because "he engaged in an unconscionable agreement" with Epstein that was "known" by Trump at the time. Acosta defended his 2007 decision, tweeting that he supports the "horrific" new charges and was "pleased" that prosecutors in New York are "moving forward with a case based on new evidence." (New York Times / Politico / USA Today / CNBC / CNN / Washington Post)

  • 📌 [BACKGROUND]: Federal prosecutors charged Epstein on Monday with sex trafficking, alleging that the billionaire financier had abused dozens of young girls at his Manhattan and Palm Beach, Fla., homes and enlisted his victims to bring him others. The indictment deals an implicit rebuke to the plea agreement, which was overseen by Acosta, then the U.S. attorney in Miami and now Trump's labor secretary. Lewd photos of girls were discovered in a safe inside the Epstein's Manhattan mansion the day he was arrested, deepening questions about why federal prosecutors in Miami had cut a deal that shielded him from federal prosecution in 2008. (Washington Post / New York Times / New York Times)

4/ Trump said he felt "very badly" for Acosta while praising him as "excellent" and "very good" at his job. Trump added that he would be looking "very closely" at the circumstances surrounding the plea deal, but has no immediate plan to force out or fire Acosta, two White House officials said. In 2002, Trump told New York Magazine that Epstein was "a terrific guy," who "likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side." Today, however, Trump told reporters that the two "had a falling out" about 15 years ago and that he "was not a fan of his, that I can tell you." (Washington Post / Associated Press / Miami Herald / CNN / Washington Post)

  • Attorney General William Barr won't recuse himself from involvement in the new charges filed against alleged sex-trafficker Jeffrey Epstein by federal prosecutors. Epstein previously hired lawyers from the law firm Kirkland & Ellis LLP, where Barr served as counsel to the law firm before becoming attorney general. Barr, however, has recused himself from any review of the Justice Department's deal with Epstein more than a decade ago letting Epstein avoid prosecution on federal sex-trafficking offenses in Florida in exchange for pleading guilty to two charges of soliciting a prostitute. (Bloomberg)

5/ The House Judiciary Committee will vote on to authorize subpoenas for 12 of Robert Mueller's witnesses. The subpoena targets include Jared Kushner, Jeff Sessions, Rod Rosenstein, Michael Flynn, John Kelly and Corey Lewandowski, as well as Dylan Howard and David Pecker, two executives at American Media, Inc., and Keith Davidson, an attorney who previously represented Stormy Daniels. Republicans called the subpoenas as an effort to "relitigate" the Mueller investigation. (Politico)

  • Michael Flynn will not testify against his former business partner, because prosecutors no longer believe his version of events. Flynn previously admitted that he lied on foreign lobbying disclosure forms, but now is blaming his former lawyers and accusing them of filing inaccurate forms without his knowledge. (Washington Post / New York Times)

  • The White House blocked a witness in the Mueller investigation from answering 212 questions about potential obstruction of justice by Trump. Annie Donaldson is the former chief of staff to ex-White House counsel Donald McGahn, and her contemporaneous notes are cited 65 times in the Mueller report. Trump administration lawyers, however, blocked her from going into detail about her documented exchanges between Trump and McGahn. (Washington Post)

  • The former British spy behind the Trump "dossier" was interviewed for 16 hours by the Justice Department's inspector general. During the 2016 election, Christopher Steele was hired by the opposition research firm Fusion GPS to research Trump's Russia ties. (Politico)

  • Felix Sater testified before the House Intelligence Committee today. The former Trump business associate and chief negotiator for the defunct Trump Tower Moscow project has rescheduled his appearance several times since he was first slated to appear in March. (Politico)

6/ Trump said the U.S. will "no longer deal with" a British ambassador who called him "inept" and said his administration was "dysfunctional," in leaked cables. Trump attacked Sir Kim Darroch for the second day in a row, threatening to cut ties altogether over the leaked memos, which described Trump as "radiating insecurity." Trump tweeted that Darroch "is not liked or well thought of within the U.S. We will no longer deal with him." He then attacked Prime Minister Theresa May for making "mess" over Brexit. Weeks ago Trump praised for having done a "very good job." (The Guardian / Washington Post)

7/ Secretary of State Mike Pompeo unveiled a panel aimed at providing him with "an informed review of the role of human rights in American foreign policy." During remarks to the State Department, Pompeo said "words like 'rights' can be used by good or evil," and complained that some have "hijacked" the rhetoric of human rights and used it for "dubious or malignant purposes." While Pompeo offered little detail as to what the panel will actually do, emphasizing its focus on outlining principles instead of directing policy, he said he hoped the panel would facilitate "one of the most profound reexaminations of the unalienable rights in the world since the 1948 universal declaration." (Politico)

8/ Mitch McConnell's great-great-grandfathers owned at least 14 slaves in the 1800s. McConnell, meanwhile, recently said he opposed paying government reparations to the descendants of American slaves "for something that happened 150 years ago, when none of us currently living are responsible." McConnell added: "We've tried to deal with our original sin of slavery by fighting a civil war, by passing landmark civil rights legislation. We've elected an African American president." (NBC News)

  • Amy McGrath, a retired Marine lieutenant colonel and combat pilot announced she would challenge McConnell for his seat in 2020. (New York Times)

9/ Trump violated the First Amendment by blocking people on Twitter who criticized or mocked him, a federal appeals court ruled. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled unanimously that because Trump uses Twitter to conduct government business, he cannot exclude some Americans from reading his posts. The case was brought against Trump, Dan Scavino, and Sarah Huckabee Sanders by a group of Twitter users who say they were blocked by Trump. Public officials who use social media for official government business, the court said, are prohibited from excluding people "from an otherwise open online dialogue because they expressed views with which the official disagrees." (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico)

Day 900: Pathways.

1/ New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill allowing congressional committees to access Trump's New York state tax returns. The bill requires state tax officials to release the state returns for any "specified and legitimate legislative purpose" on the request of the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee, or the Joint Committee on Taxation. Trump's personal lawyer, Jay Sekulow, called the bill "more presidential harassment." The House Ways and Means Committee has unsuccessfully tried to access six years of Trump's personal and business tax returns. The House sued the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service last week to try to force them to release the returns. (New York Times / NBC News)

  • 📌 Day 894: House Democrats sued for Trump's tax returns, challenging the administration's refusal to comply with a subpoena for the records. The Ways and Means Committee accused the Trump administration of "an extraordinary attack on the authority of Congress to obtain information needed to conduct oversight," naming the Treasury Department, IRS, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig in the suit. The Trump administration has argued that Congress's power to access the returns is limited to information that would serve "legitimate" legislative purposes. (Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / ABC News)

  • 📌 Day 809: New York lawmakers will introduce a bill this week to permit the Department of Taxation and Finance to release state tax returns requested by a congressional committee. Under the new proposal, the release of tax information would only happen after efforts to obtain federal tax information through the Treasury Department had failed. The move comes as the Trump administration has signaled that it will resist the House Ways and Means Committee request to turn over six years of Trump's federal business and personal tax returns by April 10th. Mick Mulvaney, meanwhile, promised that Democrats will "never" see Trump's tax returns. (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / Politico)

  • 📌 Day 804: House Democrats formally requested six years of Trump's personal and business tax returns from the IRS. In a letter to the IRS, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee cited a little known provision in the IRS tax code that grants tax-writing committees in Congress the power to request tax information on any individual. Chairman Richard Neal requested Trump's personal tax returns from 2013 to 2018, giving the agency until April 10 to comply. Trump claimed his returns are being audited by the IRS and that he would "not be inclined to" turn anything over to Congress. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin previously told the Ways and Means committee that he would protect Trump's privacy if members of Congress requested his tax returns. (CNN / New York Times / NBC News / Bloomberg / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

2/ Congressional Democrats issued three-dozen subpoenas to the Trump Organization and other Trump businesses tied to a lawsuit accusing Trump of profiting from foreign governments in violation of the Constitution. The Justice Department is asking an appeals court to prevent the subpoenas from going forward. (CNN)

  • 📌 Day 887: A federal judge ruled that the Democrats' emoluments lawsuit against Trump can proceed. District Judge Emmet Sullivan said discovery could begin Friday, and Democrats are expected seek financial information, interviews and other records from Trump and the Trump Organization. The Trump administration can still try to delay or block Democrats from issuing subpoenas by appealing directly to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to intervene. (Washington Post)

3/ Trump is "very seriously" considering an executive order to get the citizenship question on the 2020 census despite statements last week from both his Department of Justice and his secretary of commerce that the administration was printing the census without the question. The Justice Department also assigned a new team of attorneys to defend Trump's attempts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census following the Supreme Court's ruling that effectively blocked the question. A statement released by the DOJ gave no clear reason for the change to the legal team, but experts say the team is likely to face questions on multiple fronts after the Trump administration spent the last 15 months giving conflicting explanations about why the question should be added. Trump also recently ordered officials to keep pursuing the addition of the question, even if it means delaying the constitutionally mandated decennial survey. (New York Times / Politico / Washington Post / CNN / ABC News / Axios)

  • Previously: A day after pledging that the 2020 census would not ask respondents about their citizenship, Justice Department officials reversed course and said they were looking for a way to restore the question on orders from Trump. (New York Times / Washington Post)

  • Previously: Government lawyers scrambled to find a legal path to add a controversial citizenship question to the 2020 Census, despite their conclusions in recent days that no such avenue exists. (Washington Post)

  • Previously: The Trump administration confirmed that it will press forward with efforts to add a citizenship question to next year's census, with Trump saying he’s exploring the possibility of reviving the question via executive order and government lawyers telling a federal judge that they've "been asked to reevaluate all available options." (Politico)

4/ Attorney General William Barr believes there's a "pathway" to legally add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. Barr said he believed the Supreme Court's ruling against the administration was "wrong" and that there is "an opportunity potentially to cure the lack of clarity that was the problem and we might as well take a shot at doing that." Barr would not detail the administration's plans, but said the Trump administration will take action in the coming days that he believes will allow the government to ask the controversial question. (Post and Courier / Associated Press / Talking Points Memo)

5/ ICE officials used facial recognition software to analyze state driver's license photo databases without motorists' permission. ICE requested to comb through repositories of license photos in at least three states that offer licenses to undocumented immigrants. At least two of the states — Vermont and Utah — complied with the requests. In Washington state, agents authorized administrative subpoenas of the Department of Licensing to conduct a facial recognition scan of all photos of license applicants, but it's unclear whether state officials carried out the searches. (Washington Post / New York Times)

  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said immigration authorities are ready to identify, detain and deport approximately one million undocumented immigrants with pending removal orders. (CBS News)

  • The Trump administration plans to replace in-court interpreters at initial immigration court hearings with videos informing asylum seekers and other immigrants facing deportation of their rights. (San Francisco Chronicle)

6/ Trump said he wants members of the press to "go in and see" inside the "beautifully run" migrant detention centers. "I'm going to start showing some of these detention centers … to the press," Trump said. "We're going to send people in. We're going to have some of the press go in." Trump's comments come days after several Democratic members of Congress toured two facilities in Texas, where they found migrants and their children are being forced to live in squalid conditions while detained near the southwestern border. (CNN / USA Today)

  • 📌 Day 895: A report from the Department of Homeland Security's independent watchdog found the squalid conditions at migrant detention camps were more widespread than initially revealed. The report describes standing-room-only cells, children without access to showers or hot meals, and detainees desperately begging to be released. Inspectors visited five facilities in June, where they found many migrants are given only wet wipes to clean themselves and bologna sandwiches to eat, leading to additional health problems. Children at two of the camps were not given hot meals until inspectors arrived. Overcrowding was so severe that migrants were banging on cell walls and pressing notes up against the windows begging for help. (New York Times / Reuters)

7/ The White House correspondent for Breitbart has joined the Trump administration. Michelle Moons will work in the office of Domestic Policy Council. (CNN)

poll/ 44% of Americans approve of Trump's job performance – up 5 percentage points from April and the highest point of his presidency – while 53% disapprove. (ABC News / Washington Post)

Day 895: Moving forward.

1/ A report from the Department of Homeland Security's independent watchdog found the squalid conditions at migrant detention camps were more widespread than initially revealed. The report describes standing-room-only cells, children without access to showers or hot meals, and detainees desperately begging to be released. Inspectors visited five facilities in June, where they found many migrants are given only wet wipes to clean themselves and bologna sandwiches to eat, leading to additional health problems. Children at two of the camps were not given hot meals until inspectors arrived. Overcrowding was so severe that migrants were banging on cell walls and pressing notes up against the windows begging for help. (New York Times / Reuters)

2/ A federal judge blocked Attorney General William Barr's order to indefinitely detain immigrants seeking asylum and deny them bail if they crossed into the U.S. border without permission. The order requires immigration judges to conduct hearings for asylum applicants to ask for release on bail within seven days if they have shown a "credible fear" of returning to their country of origin. (Bloomberg / New York Times)

3/ Trump claimed that he is "absolutely moving forward" with including the citizenship question on the 2020 census, contradicting both the Justice Department and the Commerce secretary, and calling the news reports "FAKE!" Yesterday, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the Census Bureau was in the process of printing the census form without the citizenship question following the Supreme Court's decision to effectively block the question from being added to the questionnaire. (New York Times / CNBC / The Hill)

4/ The National Parks Service is diverting $2.5 million meant to improve parks in order to cover costs associated with Trump's Fourth of July event on the National Mall. Trump officials have consistently refused to disclose how much taxpayers will have to pay for the "Salute to America" event. The diverted park fees make up just a fraction of the extra costs the government will have to pay as a result of the event, which will include tanks, military flyovers, Air Force One, and an extended pyrotechnics display. (Washington Post)

5/ Trump defended the cost of his "Salute to America" event, saying it will be "very little compared to what it is worth" because it will be "the show of a lifetime." Military chiefs, meanwhile, are concerned about the politicization of the event – They've been asked to stand with Trump during the event. (Politico / Washington Post / CNN)

6/ Trump will hold a campaign rally in North Carolina on the same day Robert Mueller is scheduled to testify publicly to Congress. Trump's campaign announced that he will be returning to Greenville, N.C. on July 17 to offer counter-programming to Mueller's highly anticipated public testimony about his report on Russian election interference in 2016 and possible obstruction of justice by Trump. The Trump campaign's chief operating officer said the rally will be an opportunity to highlight "the successes of the Trump presidency." (Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 888: Robert Mueller agreed to testify before the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees in back-to-back public hearings on July 17th about his investigation into Russia's election interference and possible obstruction of justice by Trump. The announcement came after the two panels issued a subpoena compelling Mueller's testimony. Mueller previously said he did not want to testify and his report should serve as his testimony. Members of Mueller's team will also participate in a closed-door session with lawmakers. (NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / ABC News / CNN)

poll/ 41% approve the job Trump is doing as president while 54% disapprove. 29% strongly approve with 44% who strongly disapprove. (Gallup)

Day 894: Surreal.

1/ House Democrats sued for Trump's tax returns, challenging the administration's refusal to comply with a subpoena for the records. The Ways and Means Committee accused the Trump administration of "an extraordinary attack on the authority of Congress to obtain information needed to conduct oversight," naming the Treasury Department, IRS, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig in the suit. The Trump administration has argued that Congress's power to access the returns is limited to information that would serve "legitimate" legislative purposes. (Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / ABC News)

  • 📌 Day 876: The Justice Department supported Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's refusal to turn over Trump's tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee. The Office of Legal Counsel released its legal rationale for refusing to provide Trump's tax returns to Congress, saying the request was designed to make the returns public, which "is not a legitimate legislative purpose." (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

  • 📌 Day 873: The House authorized committee chairs to sue the Trump administration in federal court to enforce a series of subpoenas. The House Judiciary Committee can now begin legal proceedings to enforce the panel's subpoenas for Mueller's evidence and force former White House Counsel Donald McGahn to cooperate with the panels' probe into whether Trump obstructed justice. The move also empowers other committee chairmen to seek enforcement of their own subpoenas for testimony and documents, such as Trump's tax returns. The measure, however, stopped short of a criminal contempt citation for Attorney General William Barr and McGahn. (Politico / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg)

  • 📌 Day 841: The House Ways and Mean Committee subpoenaed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin over Trump's tax returns. IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig was also subpoenaed. Chairman Richard Neal gave Mnuchin and Rettig until until May 17 to turn over six years of Trump's returns, and is expected to go to court to enforce his request if the Trump administration continues to argue that the committee does not have a legitimate legislative purpose that warrants compliance. Earlier this week, Mnuchin rejected Neal's request for the returns. Trump previously vowed to fight all subpoenas from House Democrats. Subpoenas are now pending from the Ways and Means, Judiciary, Oversight and Reform, Financial Services, and the Intelligence Committees. (CNBC / New York Times / Politico / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

2/ The Trump administration dropped its plans to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census after the Supreme Court effectively blocked the addition of the question, calling the rationale for the question "contrived." After the ruling was announced last week, Trump said he was considering delaying the census until the question could be added. The process of preparing a new justification, however, was expected to take months and delay the process of printing hundreds of millions of forms. (Washington Post / Politico / CNN / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / CNBC)

  • 📌 Day 889: The Supreme Court blocked the citizenship question from being added to the 2020 census. The court found that while the Department of Commerce had a right to reinstate the question, the administration provided a "contrived" justification for doing so. The Trump administration claimed the citizenship question was necessary to better comply with federal voting rights law, while critics argued it is an attempt to intimidate immigrant households. The Department of Commerce will now have to justify the addition of the question, which raises the question of whether the Trump administration will have enough time or the ability to add it before the forms have to be printed. The administration previously told the court that the questionnaire needed to be printed by the end of June. The Census Bureau found the question would reduce the response rate –especially in immigrant communities – and result in an estimated 6.5 million people not being counted. (CNN / NBC News / New York Times / NPR / Washington Post)

  • The Trump administration missed its own July 1st deadline to print the 2020 census. The materials have yet to be officially approved by the White House's Office of Management and Budget, which is headed by acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. (NPR / Daily Beast / New York Magazine)

3/ The Department of Homeland Security sent out fines for nearly $500,000 to some immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally for "failing to depart the U.S. as previously agreed." ICE said the Immigration and Nationality Act grants the agency the right to impose "civil fines on aliens who have been ordered removed or granted voluntary departure and fail to depart the United States" of no more than $500 for each day the person is in violation of the section. Immigration lawyers say they've never heard of it used this way. (NPR)

4/ Trump threatened to increase ICE raids and deportations of undocumented immigrants after the Fourth of July holiday, saying "they're going to be gone, they're going back to their countries. They go back home." Trump praised the Mexican government for taking steps to curb the flow of migrants reaching the U.S. border, claiming, "It was because of tariffs that they're doing it, but the point is they're doing a great job." Trump then reiterated his threat to deport all undocumented immigrants, "because that's what we do." Trump delayed planned nationwide ICE raids last month for two weeks to see if Congress can "work out a solution." (NBC News)

  • 📌 Day 886: Trump delayed planned nationwide ICE raids for two weeks to see if Congress can "work out a solution." Immigration agents had planned to sweep and deport people living the U.S. illegally in 10 major cities beginning Sunday. Hours after defending the plan, Trump delayed the raids on Saturday.Earlier in the week, Trump threatened to arrest and deport "millions of illegal aliens" next week. ICE leaders expressed concerns that officers' safety would be in jeopardy because too many details about the raids had been made public. (Associated Press / New York Times / CNN / Politico / ABC News)

  • Rep. Joaquin Castro snuck a hidden camera into a migrant detention facility and tweeted out photos and videos, saying Americans "must see what is being carried out in their name." The tweets show several women in the custody of Customs and Border Patrol sitting on the floor with blankets at a facility in El Paso. The facility in question housed "women from Cuba, some grandmothers, crammed into a prison-like cell with one toilet, but no running water to drink from or wash their hands with. Concrete floors, cinder-block walls, steel toilets." Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also visited the facility, where she said officers were keeping women in cells with no running water, and had "told them to drink out of the toilets." (The Hill / The Guardian / NBC News / BuzzFeed News / Washington Post)

5/ Tanks for Trump's Fourth of July "Salute to America" arrived in Washington. At least two Bradley and two Abrams tanks were purportedly en route to the National Mall. Trump also requested that the chiefs for the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines stand next to him during the celebration. (NBC News / New York Times / Associated Press)

  • The White House is distributing tickets for Trump's "Salute to America" to major Republican donors and political appointees. (HuffPost / Washington Post)

  • The 20-foot-tall balloon depicting Trump as a baby in diapers will fly on the National Mall during Trump's "Salute to America" event. (Politico / CNN)

6/ Ivanka Trump was an unofficial stand-in for diplomats and government officials at meetings with world leaders at the G-20 summit, in South Korea, and at the demilitarized zone last week. Ivanka called the experience "surreal." (Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / NBC News)

poll/ Americans' pride in the U.S. hit an all-time low. 45% say they are "extremely proud" to be Americans. In 2018, 47% felt "extremely proud." (Gallup / Axios / CNN)

Day 893: Unforeseen.

1/ A federal judge ordered Customs and Border Patrol to let health experts into detention facilities holding migrant children in order to assess the children's needs and ensure the facilities are "safe and sanitary." The order includes all CBP facilities in the El Paso and Rio Grande Valley sectors. U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee made the ruling despite requests from Attorney General William Barr and others that the court "set a schedule for briefing these issues that provides defendants with a full and fair opportunity to respond to the allegations that plaintiffs have lodged against them." Last week, lawyers asked Judge Gee to hold the Trump administration in contempt and to order immediate improvements at the facilities. (CNN / The Hill)

  • Roughly 9,500 current and former Border Patrol agents are part of a secret Facebook group that jokes about migrant deaths, discusses throwing burritos at Latino members of Congress, and posts illustration depicting Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez engaged in oral sex with a detained migrant, among other things. The group was created in August 2016 and is called "I'm 10-15" – the Border Patrol code for "aliens in custody." (ProPublica)

2/ Inspectors warned Homeland Security in May that conditions at an El Paso migrant detention facility were so bad that border agents were arming themselves against possible riots. According to a report by the Homeland Security Inspector General's office, there were only four showers available for the 756 immigrants, more than half of the immigrants were being held outside, and there were five times as many people being held in cells beyond the maximum capacity allowed. One cell was so overcrowded that the men inside could not lie down to sleep, and temperatures in the cells were often higher than 80 degrees. "With limited access to showers and clean clothing," the report said, "detainees were wearing soiled clothing for days or weeks." Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan, meanwhile, claimed that reports of poor conditions at the facility were "unsubstantiated." (NBC News)

3/ A federal judge blocked Trump from using $2.5 billion in military funding to build a wall at the southern border. The permanent injunction halts border wall construction at different sites in New Mexico, California, Arizona and Texas. Trump declared a national emergency earlier this year in order to divert roughly $6 billion in Defense Department funds toward border wall construction, arguing that the use of the military funds was lawful under the scope of the national emergency, because the need for funding was "unforeseen." (NPR / The Hill / Mother Jones)

4/ A new study correlates Trump's rise in popularity during the 2016 campaign with social media activity by the Russian trolls and bots of the Internet Research Agency. While the study does not prove that Russian interference swung the election, researchers at the University of Tennessee found that for every 25,000 re-tweets by accounts connected to the IRA, Trump's poll numbers jumped 1%. [Editor's note: Correlation does not always mean causation.] (NBC News / Axios)

  • A Trump campaign consultant anonymously runs multiple fake Russian-style disinformation presidential campaign websites. Patrick Mauldin, who makes videos and other digital content for Trump's re-election campaign, calls the sites a political parody built and paid for "BY AN American citizen FOR American citizens." Mauldin, who also runs a Republican political consulting firm, claimed that the sites are not the work of any campaign or political action committee. Mauldin has set up fake campaign websites for "Uncle Joe" Biden, "Millionaire Bernie" Sanders, "Elizabeth Warren for Chief," and "Kamala Harris for Arresting the People." (New York Times)

5/ Trump Jr. shared – then deleted – a tweet questioning if Kamala Harris was black enough to discuss the black American experience. Harris is the biracial daughter of a Jamaican father and Indian mother and during the Demcratic debate, Trump Jr. shared a tweet that falsely claimed that Harris was "not an American Black," because "She comes from Jamaican Slave Owners." Spokesman Andy Surabian said "that folks were misconstruing the intent of [Trump Jr.'s] tweet." (New York Times)

6/ Trump became the first sitting U.S. president to set foot in North Korea. Trump spent 53 minutes privately talking with Kim Jong Un at the demilitarized zone. The two agreed to set up teams to "work out some details" and resume negotiations to eliminate North Korea's nuclear arsenal. (Washington Post / NBC News / Associated Press / New York Times)

7/ Iran exceeded the maximum amount of low enriched uranium allowed under the 2015 nuclear deal. Iran's stockpile of about 660 pounds of low enriched uranium does not give the country enough material to produce a nuclear weapon. (New York Times / Axios)

8/ The House Ethics Committee is investigating Rep. Matt Gaetz for threatening to release embarrassing personal information about Michael Cohen on the eve of Cohen's testimony to the House Oversight Committee. (Politico)

9/ Trump requested tanks as a prop for his planned "Salute to America" Fourth of July address to the nation. Trump also requested an F-35 stealth fighter and Marine Helicopter Squadron One in addition to the planned flyover by other military aircraft, including Air Force One. (Washington Post)

poll/ 47% of Americans approve of Trump's handling of the economy, while 51% disapprove. 26% said Trump's tariffs have helped the economy, down from 40% in August 2018. (AP-NORC)

Day 890: Reluctantly.

1/ The House passed a $4.6 billion emergency spending bill for the humanitarian crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border. The 305-to-102 vote sends the legislation, passed by the Senate earlier in the week, to Trump, who is expected to sign it. Speaker Nancy Pelosi tried to add additional protections for unaccompanied minors and restrictions on the administration's use of funds to the bill, but was forced to accept the less restrictive Senate bill after the White House made clear it opposed the changes, and Mitch McConnell said he would not take them up. "We will reluctantly pass the Senate bill," Pelosi said in a letter to Democratic lawmakers. (Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / Reuters)

  • The Department of Homeland Security projects arrests along the Mexico border to fall 25% this month. Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan attributed the drop to Mexico cracking down on Central American migrants and the expansion of a program that requires asylum seekers to remain in Mexico for their immigration court hearings. (Washington Post / CNN)

  • The acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement will shift roles to take over as acting chief of Customs and Border Protection. Mark Morgan previously served at the CBP as chief of Border Patrol, before being named acting head of ICE in May. (The Hill)

2/ The Supreme Court will hear arguments over whether the Trump administration illegally tried to end DACA, which shields about 700,000 young, undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children from deportation and allows them to receive work permits. Trump tried to end the program in 2017, calling it an unconstitutional use of executive power by Obama. Lower courts have said the Trump administration's explanation isn't adequate. The Supreme Court will likely render its verdict next June, in the thick of the 2020 presidential campaign. (New York Times / CNN / Washington Post / CNBC / Bloomberg / ABC News / NBC News)

  • 📌 Day 229: 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)

3/ Trump suggested he'll delay the 2020 Census – "no matter how long" – until the citizenship question can be added. The Supreme Court blocked the Trump administration's plan to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, calling the justification "contrived." Trump tweeted that the court's decision was "totally ridiculous," saying he's "asked the lawyers if they can delay the Census" until the question can be added. (Washington Post / CNN / NBC News)

  • 📌 Day 889: The Supreme Court blocked the citizenship question from being added to the 2020 census. The court found that while the Department of Commerce had a right to reinstate the question, the administration provided a "contrived" justification for doing so. The Trump administration claimed the citizenship question was necessary to better comply with federal voting rights law, while critics argued it is an attempt to intimidate immigrant households. The Department of Commerce will now have to justify the addition of the question, which raises the question of whether the Trump administration will have enough time or the ability to add it before the forms have to be printed. The administration previously told the court that the questionnaire needed to be printed by the end of June. The Census Bureau found the question would reduce the response rate –especially in immigrant communities – and result in an estimated 6.5 million people not being counted. (CNN / NBC News / New York Times / NPR / Washington Post)

4/ Trump jokingly told Putin "don't meddle in the election" while touting his "very, very good relationship" with the Russian leader at the G20 Summit. Trump then pointed at another Russian official and repeated: "Don't meddle in the election." Trump's meeting with Putin was their first since last year's summit in Helsinki, when Trump took Putin's side over his own U.S. intelligence agencies on the question of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Trump has been increasingly pressured to publicly criticize Putin ahead of the 2020 election. (NBC News / New York Times / Politico / Wall Street Journal)

  • Trump joked with Putin that they should "get rid" of journalists after quipping about election interference. "Fake news is a great term, isn't it? You don't have this problem in Russia but we do." Putin responded in English: "We also have. It's the same." (The Guardian)

  • Jimmy Carter suggested that Trump is an illegitimate president who only won the 2016 election because "Russians interfered on his behalf." Carter said Trump should "condemn" the Kremlin's interference since the American intelligence community concluded Russia had meddled in the election. "I think a full investigation would show that Trump didn't actually win the election in 2016. He lost the election, and he was put into office because the Russians interfered on his behalf." (NBC News / Politico / CNN)

  • 📌 Day 543: Trump rejected the consensus of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election, saying he doesn't "see any reason why" Russia would have interfered, and that Putin "was extremely strong and powerful" in denying it during their summit in Helsinki. Trump's refusal to condemn Moscow clashed with the conclusions of U.S. intelligence agencies, and comes days after the Justice Department indicted 12 Russian intelligence agents for hacking the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign in an attempt to help Trump. Putin confirmed the he wanted Trump to win the election. Prior to the summit, Trump blamed "U.S. foolishness and stupidity" for poor Russian relations. The Russian foreign ministry responded to Trump's tweet with "We agree." (New York Times / Washington Post / Reuters/Politico)

  • 📌 Day 544: Trump backtracked and tried to spin his Helsinki summit comments. Reading from prepared remarks, Trump claimed he misspoke yesterday and meant to say "I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be Russia" that interfered in the election. Trump also said "I accept" the intelligence community's conclusion that Russia meddled in the 2016 election, but it "could be other people also." Trump asserted that "Russia's actions had no impact at all" on the election outcome. During yesterday's news conference, Trump said he doesn't "see any reason" why Russia would have meddled during the last election. Prior to that, Trump blamed the U.S. for acting with "foolishness and stupidity" toward Russia in the past. Trump also rejected the consensus of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election. Instead, Trump said he believed Putin's denial. (Bloomberg / CNBC / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 552: The White House deleted a key exchange between a reporter and Putin from the official transcript and video of Trump's recent summit with Putin in Helsinki. During the press conference in Helsinki, a Reuters reporter asks Putin, "Did you want President Trump to win the election and did you direct any of your officials to help him do that?" Putin then responds, "Yes, I did. Yes, I did. Because he talked about bringing the U.S.-Russia relationship back to normal." The White House omitted the first part of the question, leaving only the second part in the official transcript and video. The Russian government removed the entire exchange from their official record. [Editor's note: Apparently this was due to the audio feed switching between only the right channel and both channels. Regardless, it's unclear why the feed switched. White House transcripts are considered the official record of the president's comments.](The Atlantic / MSNBC / HuffPost)


✏️ Notables.

  1. The Supreme Court rejected Alabama's request to revive the state's ban on the most common second-trimester abortion procedure. The decision means the procedure will remain available to women seeking reproductive health services in that state. The Alabama law was blocked by lower courts, but would have affected 99% of abortions performed in the state after 15 weeks. (Politico / ABC News / New York Times / Reuters)

  2. In closed-door testimony with the House Foreign Affairs Committee, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson detailed how Jared Kushner bypassed the State Department to meet with foreign officials. Kushner privately talked with Saudi and Emirati leaders about their secret plans to impose a blockade on Qatar, leaving Tillerson and other senior national security officials — including Jim Mattis, then the defense secretary — in the dark. (Washington Post / Politico / Axios / New York Times)

  3. The White House is developing a plan to cut capital gains taxes, which would benefit the wealthy. The White House is considering revamping capital gains taxes by executive order as a way to bypass Congress. (Bloomberg)

  4. Senators blocked an effort to restrict Trump's ability to go to war with Iran. The proposal would have block Trump from using funding to carry out military action without congressional authorization. (The Hill)


🎤 Debatables.

Last night was the second of two back-to-back Democratic presidential primary debates. Here's how some of the major outlets covered it:

  1. Biden Comes Under Attack From All Sides in Democratic Debate. Senator Kamala Harris confronted the former vice president in a searing moment over racial equality, and others attacked him on policy and generational divide. (New York Times)

  2. Marianne Williamson’s “girlfriend” call to New Zealand and her other best moments in the debates. And by best, we mean all of them. (Vox)

  3. 6 Takeaways From Night 2 of the Democratic Debate. Kamala Harris stood out from the 10-person crowd several times during the NBC debate. Her exchange with Joe Biden, who is leading in the polls, put him on the defensive. (New York Times)

  4. For Biden and Harris, busing and integration became a flashpoint on the debate stage. Harris forcefully slammed Biden's history of working with segregationists and opposing school busing (NBC News)

  5. Andrew Yang says microphone was 'not on' at times during Democratic debate. Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang claimed his microphone was "not on" a few times when he attempted to jump in during Thursday night's Democratic debate in Miami. (The Hill)

  6. Candidates slam Trump at Democratic debate, but fight over racial issues, health care. The faceoff featuring 10 candidates included an intense racial moment between Biden and Harris over busing and segregation. (NBC News)

Day 889: Contrived.

1/ The Supreme Court blocked the citizenship question from being added to the 2020 census. The court found that while the Department of Commerce had a right to reinstate the question, the administration provided a "contrived" justification for doing so. The Trump administration claimed the citizenship question was necessary to better comply with federal voting rights law, while critics argued it is an attempt to intimidate immigrant households. The Department of Commerce will now have to justify the addition of the question, which raises the question of whether the Trump administration will have enough time or the ability to add it before the forms have to be printed. The administration previously told the court that the questionnaire needed to be printed by the end of June. The Census Bureau found the question would reduce the response rate –especially in immigrant communities – and result in an estimated 6.5 million people not being counted. (CNN / NBC News / New York Times / NPR / Washington Post)

2/ The Supreme Court ruled that federal courts cannot block partisan gerrymandering in a 5-4 decision that fell along partisan lines. Chief Justice John Roberts rejected two constitutional challenges to partisan district mapmaking – one brought by Democrats in North Carolina and another by Republicans in Maryland – writing that "partisan gerrymandering claims present political questions beyond the reach of the federal courts." Districts are drawn nationwide every 10 years, and the next redistricting is scheduled to take place following the 2020 census, which also triggers reapportionment of U.S. House seats among states. Because of the 2010 midterm elections, the Republican party controls most statehouses across the country and, by extension, jurisdiction over the redistricting process. Dissenting Justice Elena Kagan called the decision "tragically wrong." (Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / Politico / NPR / CNN / Bloomberg / USA Today / CNBC / Associated Press / The Guardian / Wall Street Journal)

3/ Trump marked his arrival in Japan for the G20 Summit by lashing out at U.S. allies. He complained that if the U.S. were attacked, Japan would simply "watch it on a Sony television" instead of coming to America's defense. He called Germany a security freeloader, and complained about India's new tariffs on U.S. goods. Trump is scheduled to meet with the leaders of all three countries on Friday. Trump did not, however, have anything negative to say about the fourth world leader on his meeting schedule for Friday: Putin. (New York Times)

  • Trump demanded that India withdraw its latest tariff hike on 28 U.S. products. India imposed tariffs in response to Trump's decision to remove key trade privileges for New Delhi. Trump called the tariffs "unacceptable," and tweeted that he's looking forward to "to speaking with Prime Minister Modi about the fact that India, for years having put very high tariffs against the United States, just recently increased the tariffs even further." Trump is expected to meet with Modi at this week's G20 Summit in Japan. (CNBC)

4/ Trump told reporters that what he says to Putin in private is "none of your business," when asked what the two world leaders will discuss behind closed doors at the G20 Summit. Trump is scheduled to meet with Putin after House Democrats hear from the White House records chief about allegations that Trump tried to hide documents detailing his previous private conversations with Putin. (Politico / CBS News)

5/ Two women corroborated E. Jean Carroll's allegation that Trump sexually assaulted her in the 1990s. Carroll privately confided in Carol Martin and Lisa Birnbach after the alleged attack. Both came forward to talk about the advice they gave Carroll at the time. Neither of the women had been publicly identified until now, and it was the first time since the alleged assault that they had discussed the incident together. Trump denied Carroll's allegation and said she is "totally lying" and that he wouldn't have assaulted her because "she's not my type." (New York Times)

6/ The Trump International Hotel in Washington charged the Secret Service more than $200,000 in taxpayer money. The agency paid $33,638 for unspecified charges over two days in June, which coincided with Trump's first re-election campaign fundraiser. The Secret Service was also billed for $14,900 for two days in June 2017 and another for $11,475 for two days the next month. (NBC News)


Debatables.

Last night was the first of two back-to-back Democratic presidential primary debates, featuring 10 candidates and 5 moderators. The debate centered around a handful of major topics, including healthcare, guns, immigration, climate change, Iran, and others. Trump was absent from most of the discussion, with candidates opting instead to talk more about their respective policies and positions than Trump's presidency. The second debate begins tonight at 9 p.m. ET and will feature another 10 candidates. Instead of giving you a breakdown of last night's entire two-hour ordeal, here's how some of the major outlets are covering it:

  1. Fact-checking the first night of the first Democratic presidential debate. (CNN)

  2. Fact-checking the claims that hold up and the ones that don't. (NBC News)

  3. 5 takeaways from the first Democratic debate. (NPR)

  4. 7 takeaways from the first Democratic debate. (Politico)

  5. Recap: Democrats Diverge on economy and immigration in first debate. (New York Times)

  6. Recap: Democrats clash on healthcare, border in scrappy first U.S. presidential debate. (Reuters)

  7. Analysis: Who won the first debate? Experts on the Left and Right weigh in. (New York Times)

  8. Analysis: Debate shows how leftward it has moved. (Los Angeles Times)

  9. Transcript: The first Democratic debate night transcript, annotated. (Washington Post)

  10. FTW: Jay Inslee called Trump the greatest threat facing the U.S. (Axios)

  11. Hot take: Trump's reaction to the first 2020 Democratic presidential debate: "BORING!" (NBC News)

Day 888: Terminated.

1/ Robert Mueller agreed to testify before the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees in back-to-back public hearings on July 17th about his investigation into Russia's election interference and possible obstruction of justice by Trump. The announcement came after the two panels issued a subpoena compelling Mueller's testimony. Mueller previously said he did not want to testify and his report should serve as his testimony. Members of Mueller's team will also participate in a closed-door session with lawmakers. (NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / ABC News / CNN)

2/ Trump attacked Mueller and – without evidence – accused him of committing a crime after House Democrats announced that Mueller would testify publicly next month. Trump claimed that Mueller "terminated" FBI communications by deleting text messages exchanged by two former FBI officials, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. "And that's illegal," Trump tweeted. "That's a crime." Trump was referring to a report by the Justice Department inspector general that said it could not recover texts from the phones assigned to Strzok and Page, because by the time investigators requested the devices, they had been reset for other officials to use. Trump referred to Strzok and Page as "pathetic lovers" for having had an affair. (Washington Post / New York Times / Reuters)

3/ The House Oversight Committee authorized a subpoena for Kellyanne Conway after she failed to show for a hearing about her alleged violations of the Hatch Act, a law that limits federal employees' political activity. Special counsel Henry Kerner said Conway should be fired for blatantly and repeatedly violating the Hatch Act. The White House, meanwhile, blocked Conway from testifying about the allegations. Chairman Elijah Cummings warned that the committee would vote to hold Conway in contempt if she ignores the subpoena. (Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / Reuters / Politico / Axios)

4/ The House approved a $4.5 billion aid package for the southwestern border. The 230-195 vote was mostly along party lines, with all but four Democrats supporting bill. Even if the two chambers are able to reach an agreement, it's unclear if Trump will sign it into law. Democrats will now have to begin negotiations with Senate GOP leaders in order to get the aid package signed into law before the weeklong recess. (Politico / NBC News)

5/ Trump complained that congressional Democrats "won't do anything at all about border security" hours after the House passed the aid package to address the humanitarian crisis at the southern border. (Politico)

6/ The Senate passed a $4.6 billion emergency spending bill for the southern border, rejecting the House legislation that attempted to set rules on how Trump could use the money. The Senate legislation allocates about $1.3 billion to improve border facilities and $2.9 billion for the care of migrant children. The measure would prohibit Homeland Security from adding more beds at detention centers or migrant processing facilities. House and Senate leaders must now decide whether to reconcile their conflicting proposals or head into a week-long July Fourth recess without addressing the growing humanitarian crisis. (New York Times / Politico / Associated Press / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)


✏️ Notables.

  1. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the U.S. is "about 90% of the way there" on a trade deal with China. Mnuchin expects Trump and President Xi to make progress during the upcoming G20 Summit, but did not provide any details about what the remaining 10% of an agreement might look like. Trump, meanwhile, warned of a "Plan B with China" to raise tariffs on the remaining $300 billion of Chinese imports. (CNBC / Bloomberg)

  2. Trump's diplomatic protocol chief has been suspended indefinitely ahead of the G20 Summit in Japan. Sean Lawler is being investigated by the State Department inspector general over accusations that Lawler intimidated his staff and carried a whip in the office. The protocol chief assists the president during overseas trips and during visits from foreign leaders by making introductions and briefing the president on customs and protocol. Mary-Kate Fisher will take over as acting protocol chief. (CNN / Bloomberg)

  3. The EPA air chief resigned amid scrutiny over possible violations of federal ethics rules. Bill Wehrum helped reverse Obama-era rules aimed at cutting pollutants before joining the Trump administration. The Energy and Commerce Committee has been investigating Wehrum's compliance with Trump's ethics pledge, which requires political appointees to recuse themselves from specific matters involving their former employers and clients for two years. (Washington Post)

  4. The White House will host "digital leaders" for a Social Media Summit next month following Trump's accusations that Google, Facebook and Twitter are biased against him and other conservatives. Earlier in the day, Trump suggested that "we should be suing Google and Facebook," adding "perhaps we will." (Politico / Axios)

  5. The Justice Department sued former Trump senior White House advisor Omarosa Manigault Newman for allegedly failing to file a financial disclosure report after she was fired in late 2017. Manigault Newman said she couldn't file the report because the White House never returned her personal files after she left. (CNBC / CNN / Politico)


NEW! 🤷‍♂️ Dept. of I Really Don't Care, Do U? I'm burnt out. You're burnt out. The news sucks. We're all suffering from disaster fatigue. So let's start a collaborative, curated thread for the strange-but-true political things that aren't really news, but seem to make the news anyway. Add your oddities to the forum post so we can cut the crap and get back to focusing on the things that matter.

Day 887: Overwhelming force.

1/ Trump – again – denied the rape allegations against him by E. Jean Carroll, claiming she is "totally lying" and "not my type." Carroll accused Trump of pushing her up against a dressing room wall and raping her in a department store in 1995 or 1996. Trump accused Carroll of making up the story, because "I know nothing about this woman. I know nothing about her. She is — it's just a terrible thing that people can make statements like that." Carroll is the 16th woman to have publicly accused Trump of sexual assault or misconduct — all of which he has denied. (The Hill / New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / Axios)

  • 📌 Day 883: Trump rejected an allegation by journalist E. Jean Carroll that he sexually assaulted her in a Manhattan department store dressing room in the 1990s, saying that he has "never met this person in my life." According to Carroll, she met Trump inside Bergdorf Goodman when he told her he was buying a gift for "a girl" and needed help. While in the lingerie section, Carroll said Trump suggested a lace bodysuit, and encouraged her to try it on. "The moment the dressing-room door is closed, he lunges at me, pushes me against the wall, hitting my head quite badly, and puts his mouth against my lips," Carroll writes. "He seizes both my arms and pushes me up against the wall a second time, and, as I become aware of how large he is, he holds me against the wall with his shoulder and jams his hand under my coat dress and pulls down my tights." More than a dozen women have accused Trump of sexual misconduct. Trump, meanwhile, said: "Shame on those who make up false stories of assault to try to get publicity for themselves, or sell a book, or carry out a political agenda." (New York Magazine / Politico / Daily Beast)

2/ The New York Post's former top editor deleted a story about E. Jean Carroll's rape allegations against Trump. Col Allan, a Trump supporter and top Rupert Murdoch lieutenant, ordered the story to be scrubbed from the website on Friday, as well a wire story by the Associated Press. Allan returned to the paper in early 2019, reportedly in an effort to make the paper even more friendly to Trump. (CNN / New York Daily News)

3/ Congress is trying to pass a $4.5 billion in emergency humanitarian aid to the southwestern border while putting restrictions on Trump's immigration policies. In the Senate, Republicans and Democrats approved a $4.6 billion border aid package last week that contained some limitations to prevent the administration from using the resources for enforcement. The House bill allocates $4.5 billion, but goes further in placing restrictions on the money. Democrats in the House, however, are still concerned that any money they approve will be directed by the Trump administration to advance Trump's immigration policies. The Trump administration, meanwhile, threatened to veto the House measure, claiming it "does not provide adequate funding to meet the current crisis" and "contains partisan provisions designed to hamstring the administration's border enforcement efforts." (New York Times / Reuters)

  • Here's what's different between the House and Senate bills. (New York Times)

4/ Customs and Border Protection returned more than 100 children back to a troubled Border Patrol station that independent monitors called conditions "unconscionable." Officials said the children were returned to the Clint, Tex. station due to a lack of bed space in U.S. shelters designed for children. Lawyers who visited recently the Clint station said hundreds of minor detainees had been housed for weeks without access to showers, clean clothing, or sufficient food. (Washington Post / CNN)

  • Health and Human Services said it will run out of money in July for sheltering migrant children. HHS Secretary Alex Azar said a situation to a government shutdown would result if the program isn't funded, with workers and companies caring for the children without pay. (Bloomberg)

  • Border Patrol is rejecting donations of toys, soap, toothbrushes, diapers and medicine for children held in "horrendous," overcrowded facilities. Under the Antideficiency Act, the government can't spend any money or accept any donations other than what Congress has allocated to it. (Texas Tribune / Washington Post / Slate)

  • 📌 Day 886: The Trump administration moved most of the children from a remote Border Patrol station in Texas following reports that more than 300 children were detained there with inadequate food, water and sanitation. (Associated Press / New York Times)

  • 📌 Day 834: John Kelly joined the board of a company that operates the largest facility for unaccompanied migrant children. Caliburn International is the parent company of Comprehensive Health Services, which operates Homestead and three other shelters for unaccompanied migrant children in Texas. Prior to joining the Trump administration, Kelly had been on the board of advisors of DC Capital Partners, an investment firm that now owns Caliburn. (CBS News)

5/ The Customs and Border Protection agency's acting commissioner will resign in the coming weeks amid an increase in the number of undocumented migrants crossing the border and the fight over how to address it. John Sanders assumed the role after Kevin McAleenan replaced Kirstjen Nielsen as homeland security secretary this spring. (New York Times / CNN / Reuters)

6/ Trump declined to say if he has confidence in FBI Director Christopher Wray. When asked about his level of confidence in Wray, Trump replied: "Well, we'll see how it turns out." Trump added that he disagrees with the FBI director, who previously said he does not believe the bureau "spied" on Trump's 2016 campaign. (The Hill / CNN / Axios)

  • 📌Day 811: Barr told Congress that the government was "spying" on Trump's campaign during the 2016 election, but provided no evidence. During a hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee, Barr said that while he's not launching an investigation of the FBI or suggesting there is an "endemic" problem at the FBI, he does "think there was a failure among a group of leaders at the upper echelons." Barr went on to say that he wanted to understand if there was "unauthorized surveillance" of political figures and whether law enforcement officials had proper legal justification for the "genesis" of the counterintelligence investigation. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / NBC News / CNN / Bloomberg / Axios)

  • 📌 Day 838: FBI Director Christopher Wray said he would not call the 2016 investigation into Trump's campaign advisers "spying." When asked during a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing if he had "any evidence that any illegal surveillance" into the Trump 2016 campaign occurred, Wray told lawmakers that "I don't think I personally have any evidence of that sort." Wray's comments are in contrast to those made by Attorney General William Barr at a Senate hearing on April 10th, where he claimed that "spying did occur, yes," calling it "a big deal." The Justice Department inspector general is expected to issue a report in the next month or two about the origins of the FBI investigation into the Trump campaign. Wray asked lawmakers to wait for the report. (Washington Post / NBC News / CNN)

7/ Trump is privately considering withdrawing from a defense treaty with Japan. Trump claimed the pact is too one-sided, because it guarantees U.S. aid if Japan is ever attacked, but doesn't require Japan's military to do the same for America. The treaty was signed more than 60 years ago and constitutes the foundation of the post-war alliance between the two countries after World War II. (Bloomberg)

8/ Iran called Trump's White House "mentally retarded" and promised that Iran wouldn't be intimidated by new, "fruitless sanctions." Iran's Foreign Ministry also said Trump's leadership would lead to "the permanent closure of the road of diplomacy" between the two countries and that Iran would take new steps to reduce its commitments under the nuclear deal with world powers on July 7th. Trump meanwhile, threatened that any attack by Iran would be answered with "great and overwhelming force" and in some cases, "overwhelming will mean obliteration." (New York Times / Politico / Bloomberg / NBC News / The Independent / Washington Post)

9/ Trump claimed he has the authority to initiate a military strike against Iran without congressional approval, but said he likes "the idea of keeping Congress abreast." Speaker Nancy Pelosi asserted that Trump would need congressional approval for any "hostilities" against Iran. Jim Inhofe, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, however, believes that Trump's authority to take military action against Iran falls within his executive power, but outside the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force. (The Hill / CNN)

poll/ 65% of voters support Trump's decision to call off the planned military strike against Iran. 14% opposed the decision. Only 36% of voters support U.S. military actions against Iran in response to the downed surveillance drone. 42% oppose military action against Iran, while 22% say they have no opinion. (Politico)


🐊 Dept. of Swamp Things.

  1. Melania Trump's communications director will be the next White House press secretary, replacing Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who is leaving at the end of the month. Stephanie Grisham will also take over the role of communications director, which has been vacant since the departure of Bill Shine in March. (NBC News / Axios / New York Times / Politico / Washington Post)

  2. The Commerce Department ordered a former official not to answer questions from the House Oversight and Reform Committee about the Trump administration's decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. Commerce Department lawyers instructed Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross' senior adviser and counsel, James Uthmeier, not to answer the committee's questions about his contacts with the White House or his conversations with Ross regarding the citizenship question. (Washington Post / Politico)

  3. The House Oversight and Reform Committee called on the House to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt for defying congressional subpoenas related to whether the administration was seeking to discriminate against certain groups by adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. (Reuters)

  4. Trump has been frequently snapping at Mick Mulvaney and expressing more frustration with him than usual, revealing a slow deterioration of their relationship. Trump has recently asked people what kind of leadership and value they think Mulvaney is adding. Trump, however, is unlikely to replace his acting chief of staff – his third chief of staff in less than two-and-a-half years – anytime soon. (Politico)

  5. The Treasury Department's inspector general will open an investigation into why Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin delayed the new $20 bill featuring Harriet Tubman. The Trump administration has denied that it delayed the release of the bill. Trump, however, has publicly lamented the idea of replacing Andrew Jackson. (New York Times / Washington Post)

  6. The White House directed Kellyanne Conway to reject a request to testify before the House Oversight Committee about her repeated violations of the Hatch Act, a federal ethics law that bars government officials from engaging in political activities at work. (New York Times / Washington Post)

  7. A federal judge ruled that the Democrats' emoluments lawsuit against Trump can proceed. District Judge Emmet Sullivan said discovery could begin Friday, and Democrats are expected seek financial information, interviews and other records from Trump and the Trump Organization. The Trump administration can still try to delay or block Democrats from issuing subpoenas by appealing directly to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to intervene. (Washington Post)

Day 886: Restraint.

1/ Trump signed an executive order imposing new, "hard-hitting" sanctions on Iran in response to the downing of an unmanned U.S. drone last week. The new sanctions will deny Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and eight Iranian military commanders access to "key financial resources and support." Trump also warned that U.S. "restraint" has limits. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / CNBC)

  • Trump approved an offensive cyberstrike that disabled Iranian computer systems used to control rocket and missile launches. U.S. Cyber Command launched the cyberstrikes against the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps last week. (Washington Post)

2/ Trump delayed planned nationwide ICE raids for two weeks to see if Congress can "work out a solution." Immigration agents had planned to sweep and deport people living the U.S. illegally in 10 major cities beginning Sunday. Hours after defending the plan, Trump delayed the raids on Saturday. Earlier in the week, Trump threatened to arrest and deport "millions of illegal aliens" next week. ICE leaders expressed concerns that officers' safety would be in jeopardy because too many details about the raids had been made public. (Associated Press / New York Times / CNN / Politico / ABC News)

  • The Trump administration moved most of the children from a remote Border Patrol station in Texas following reports that more than 300 children were detained there with inadequate food, water and sanitation. (Associated Press / New York Times)

3/ The Trump administration stopped promoting dozens of taxpayer-funded studies about the impacts of climate change. The studies include a discovery that rice loses vitamins in a carbon-rich environment, a finding that climate change would exacerbate allergy seasons, and a warning to farmers about an expected reduction in the quality of important grasses used to feed and raise cattle. All of the studies were peer-reviewed and cleared through the Agricultural Research Service. (Politico)

  • More than 70 medical and public health groups warned that climate change is "a health emergency." The health organizations' policy recommendations are at odds with Trump's approach. (Associated Press)

  • Pence refused to say whether climate change was a legitimate threat to the U.S. Instead, Pence said that the Trump administration would "always follow the science" on the issue. (Axios / The Hill)

4/ Nearly 100 internal Trump transition team vetting documents were leaked, revealing a wide range of "red flags" about several officials who went on to secure high-ranking positions in the Trump administration. (Axios / Business Insider / Daily Beast)

  • Former EPA administrator Scott Pruitt had a section in his vetting form titled: "allegations of coziness with big energy companies."

  • Former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price had sections in his dossier flagging "criticisms of management ability" and "Dysfunction And Division Has Haunted Price's Leadership Of The House Budget Committee."

  • Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney had several "red flags," including his assessment that Trump "is not a very good person."

  • The Trump transition team was so worried about Rudy Giuliani being chosen as secretary of state that they created a separate 25-page document titled "Rudy Giuliani Business Ties Research Dossier" with many accounts of his "foreign entanglements."

  • The transition team was worried that Gen. David Petraeus "Is Opposed to Torture."

  • Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had ties to Russia.

  • Kris Kobach, who was once in the running for homeland security secretary, had "white supremacy" as one of his vulnerabilities.

  • Nikki Haley, who would go on to be U.N. ambassador, was flagged for saying that Trump is everything "we teach our kids not to do in kindergarten."


Notables.

  1. The White House is expected to block a former White House deputy counsel from answering House Judiciary Committee's written questions. Annie Donaldson was the top deputy to former White House Counsel Don McGahn, who, according to Robert Mueller, was directed by Trump on several occasions to fire the special counsel. (Politico)

  2. Trump nominated Mark Esper to be the next defense secretary following the abrupt resignation of acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan. Esper is currently the secretary of the Army and former West Point classmate of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. (New York Times / Politico)

  3. Fox News host Jeanine Pirro lobbied for a top Justice Department job under Jeff Sessions, which Trump considered. Sessions, however, blocked the appointment and then Pirro attacked Sessions on her show for recusing himself from the Russia investigation, calling him the most "dangerous person" in the U.S. (Washington Post / Talking Points Memo)

  4. Trump said appointing Sessions as his first attorney general was his "biggest mistake" and that he'd like a "do over" on the decision. (Reuters)

  5. White House officials have refused to tell House Democrats what happened to the interpreter notes from Trump's private meeting with Putin. The House Oversight Committee argues that the notes are federal records that must be preserved under record-keeping laws. The White House, however, won't say whether Trump destroyed or in any way altered the interpreter notes. (Washington Post)

  6. The House Oversight Committee will vote to subpoena Kellyanne Conway related to her violations of the Hatch Act if she does not voluntarily appear at the committee's hearing. The Hatch Act prohibits federal employees from engaging in political activities in their official capacity, and the civil service watchdog known as the Office of Special Counsel determined earlier this month that Conway violated the act by "disparaging Democratic presidential candidates while speaking in an official capacity during television interviews and on social media." Conway claimed that House Democrats are seeking her testimony in retaliation for successfully managing Trump's 2016 campaign. [Breaking News: The White House moved to block Conway from testifying to Congress about alleged violations of the Hatch Act.] (Axios / Washington Post)

Day 883: "Cocked and loaded."

1/ Trump authorized a retaliatory military strike on Iran but called it off 10 minutes before because the response would not have been "proportionate." The planned attack, ordered after Iranian forces shot down a Navy drone over the Strait of Hormuz, would have involved airstrikes and killed approximately 150 people. Officials said Trump had initially approved the attacks. Earlier, Trump tweeted that he was "cocked and loaded" for a strike, but later disputed that, claiming "nothing was green lighted." (New York Times / New York Times / ABC News / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / Los Angeles Times / Bloomberg)

  • Putin said he's open for a meeting with Trump, but that a U.S. military conflict with Iran would be a "catastrophe." Putin added that he believed Iran was complying with its commitments to the Iran nuclear deal. Hours later, Trump tweeted that he was in "no hurry" to confront Iran and called off the planned airstrike. (Associated Press / ABC News)

  • The White House did not notify House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Trump's plans to strike Iran. Pelosi is second in line to the presidency. (Washington Post)

  • Fox & Friends called Trump's decision to abandon airstrikes against Iran a "weakness, and weakness begets more attacks." Hosts Brian Kilmeade insisted that "North Korea's watching. Turkey's watching. Russia's watching. China…" (Daily Beast)

  • Iran received a message from Trump via Oman warning that an attack on Iran was imminent. Iranian officials said Trump claimed he was "against any war with Iran and wanted to talk to Tehran about various issues." They also said Trump "gave a short period of time to get our response but Iran's immediate response was that it is up to Supreme Leader." Another official said they would deliver Trump's message to the Ayatollah, "however, we told the Omani official that any attack against Iran will have regional and international consequences." (Reuters)

2/ Trump directed ICE to conduct a mass roundup of migrant families that have received deportation orders. The Sunday raids – dubbed the "family op" – will take place in as many as 10 cities and could target about 2,000 immigrants facing deportation orders. (Washington Post / NBC News)

  • ICE has deported more immigrants during the first eight months of this fiscal year than any full fiscal year of Trump's presidency, but he has yet to match Obama's early deportation numbers. ICE deportations fell to 226,119 in fiscal 2017 and then rose to more than 250,000 in fiscal 2018 before the Trump administration hit a high of 282,242 as of June this fiscal year. (Axios)

  • A legal team interviewed 60 children at a migrant detention facility near El Paso, TX and were told stories of neglect and mistreatment at the hands of the U.S. government. The lawyers warned that kids are forced to take care of other kids. There is also inadequate food, water, and sanitation for the 250 infants, children, and teens currently detained at the Border Patrol station. (Associated Press / NBC News)

3/ Trump threatened a Time magazine reporter with prison after a photographer tried to take a photo of the letter sent to him by Kim Jong Un. Trump showed four reporters the letter he said was "written by Kim Jong Un" and then he asked to go off-the-record. Later in the interview, the subject turned to Robert Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 campaign, and instead of answering the question, Trump lashed out about the photographer's attempt to take a shot of the letter from Kim. "Well, you can go to prison, instead, because if you use, if you use the photograph you took of the letter that I gave you…" (Time / CNN / Washington Post / Daily Beast)

4/ Trump rejected an allegation by journalist E. Jean Carroll that he sexually assaulted her in a Manhattan department store dressing room in the 1990s, saying that he has "never met this person in my life." According to Carroll, she met Trump inside Bergdorf Goodman when he told her he was buying a gift for "a girl" and needed help. While in the lingerie section, Carroll said Trump suggested a lace bodysuit, and encouraged her to try it on. "The moment the dressing-room door is closed, he lunges at me, pushes me against the wall, hitting my head quite badly, and puts his mouth against my lips," Carroll writes. "He seizes both my arms and pushes me up against the wall a second time, and, as I become aware of how large he is, he holds me against the wall with his shoulder and jams his hand under my coat dress and pulls down my tights." More than a dozen women have accused Trump of sexual misconduct. Trump, meanwhile, said: "Shame on those who make up false stories of assault to try to get publicity for themselves, or sell a book, or carry out a political agenda." (New York Magazine / Politico / Daily Beast)

5/ The House Intelligence Committee issued a subpoena to Felix Sater after he failed to show up for a voluntary interview. The Russia-born business executive worked with Michael Cohen to build a Trump Tower in Moscow before the 2016 election. Trump never disclosed the ongoing Trump Tower Moscow negotiations while he was running for president and repeatedly claimed that he has "nothing to do with Russia." Sater said he was feeling ill and slept through his alarm. (Politico / NBC News / Reuters / The Hill)

  • YESTERDAY: Sater said he "will answer every question without exception" and planned to discuss previously undisclosed details about his efforts to get a Trump tower built in Moscow. (Washington Post)

  • Federal prosecutors alleged that Roger Stone violated his gag order with recent social media posts. Stone was banned by Judge Amy Berman Jackson from making public statements about his case in February, after he posted on Instagram a photo of the judge with crosshairs behind her head. (CNN)

Day 882: The best is yet to come.

1/ Trump warned that Iran "made a very big mistake" after its military claimed responsibility for shooting down an American drone in the Strait of Hormuz. Iran's Revolutionary Guard claimed the drone "violated" Iranian airspace, while U.S. military claimed the unmanned aircraft was taken down in "an unprovoked attack on a U.S. surveillance asset" over international airspace. Trump called the action "a new fly in the ointment" and a "very foolish move," saying the "this country will not stand for it, that I can tell you." Trump added that it also could have been a "mistake" by someone "loose and stupid." A top Iranian commander, meanwhile, warned that Iran was "fully ready for war." And, when asked whether the U.S. would attack Iran, Trump responded: "You'll soon find out." (ABC News / Associated Press / New York Times / Politico / The Guardian / NBC News / CNN / CNBC)

2/ The Senate voted to block the sale of $8.1 billion in munitions to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. In back-to-back votes, the Senate passed three measures to block Trump from using his emergency authority to complete the arms sales, but fell short of the support needed to overcome a pledged veto. Trump is expected to veto the Senate's resolutions. (New York Times / Politico / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post)

3/ A federal appeals court ruled that the Trump administration's family planning "gag rule" can immediately take effect nationwide. The ruling lifts national injunctions ordered by lower federal courts in Oregon and Washington state, as well as a statewide injunction in California, allowing the Trump administration to strip federal Title X funding from any clinic that provides abortions or abortion referrals. Planned Parenthood faces a cut of $60 million in Title X funds. (Washington Post / Politico)

4/ A watchdog group filed a complaint claiming Ivanka Trump violated the Hatch Act, which bars federal employees from engaging in elections in their official capacity. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington cited a tweet from Ivanka Trump two days before Trump's 2020 campaign launch that included the campaign slogan "Make America Great Again" and stated "the best is yet to come." (The Guardian / The Hill)

5/ Felix Sater will testify before the House Intelligence Committee tomorrow about his experience working on the proposed Trump Tower Moscow. The closed-door interview is part of House Democrats' investigation into Trump's plans to expand his business operations in Russia during the 2016 election. Sater is a U.S. citizen who worked on two separate efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. He was originally scheduled to testify in March, but his appearance was postponed. (Washington Post)

6/ Deutsche Bank is being investigated by federal authorities over questions of whether it complied with anti-money-laundering laws. Investigators will review the bank's handling of suspicious activity reports about potentially problematic transactions, including some linked to Jared Kushner. The criminal investigation is one part of several separate but overlapping government probes into financial corruption and the flow of illicit funds through the U.S. financial system. Several other banks are also under investigation. (New York Times)

7/ Three more senators received a classified Pentagon briefing about a series of reported Navy encounters with UFOs. A growing number of members from key oversight committees have requested similar briefings. Sen. Mark Warner was one of the latest three to be briefed on what Warner's spokesperson referred to as an "unidentified aerial phenomenon." The briefing comes several days after Trump claimed he had also been briefed on the reports. "People are saying they're seeing UFOs. Do I believe it? Not particularly." (Politico / ABC News)

Day 881: Misplaced certainty.

1/ The EPA rolled back Obama's Clean Power Plan, allowing states to set their own carbon emissions standards for coal-fired power plants and limits the agency's authority to set national restrictions on carbon emissions in the future. Andrew Wheeler, the EPA administrator, insisted that the new plan will reduce carbon emissions in the power sector 34% below 2005 levels – roughly equal to the goals of the Clean Power Plan. Experts, however, say the U.S. power sector needs to cut its emissions 74% over 2005 levels by 2030 to keep global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. As of last year, the power sector had cut its greenhouse gas emissions 27% compared with 2005. The EPA also said the new rules could result in 1,400 more premature deaths by 2030 than the Obama-era plan. (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / CNN / Axios)

2/ Hope Hicks refused to answer questions during a closed-door hearing before the House Judiciary Committee as part of their ongoing investigation into whether Trump obstructed justice. While the White House did not formally assert executive privilege to block Hicks from answering questions, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone's said Hicks was "absolutely immune" from discussing her tenure in the Trump administration. Hicks, however, is a private citizen. Hicks also wouldn't answer questions as basic as where she sat in the West Wing or whether she told the truth to Mueller. Meanwhile on Twitter, Trump accused Democrats of putting Hicks "through hell" and seeking a "Do Over" of the Mueller investigation. The Judiciary Committee said it will release a full transcript of the interview within 48 hours. (Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / Daily Beast /CNN)

  • Earlier Today: House Democrats will question former White House communications director Hope Hicks during a closed-door session of the Judiciary Committee. Lawmakers intend to ask Hicks about five specific incidents of possible obstruction of justice outlined in the Mueller report. White House counsel Pat Cipollone claimed in a letter that Hicks is "absolutely immune" from answering any questions about her time working for the White House and for the Trump transition team. The committee also plans to ask Hicks about the hush money payments that Trump made to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal. (Politico / Washington Post)

3/ Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is privately claiming that Iran has ties to Al Qaeda in order to justify invoking the 2001 war authorization and allow the Trump administration to go to war with Iran. The 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force permits the U.S. to wage war on Al Qaeda and its allies. While Pompeo claimed Trump "does not want war," Trump ordered 2,500 additional troops to the region recently. On Monday, the Pentagon said it would send an additional 1,000 troops to the Middle East. (New York Times / Washington Post)

  • Senator Tom Cotton wants to launch a "retaliatory strike" on Iran for the two recent tanker attacks in the Gulf of Oman. "Whatever Iran thinks they can do to the United States or our security partners in the region we can do tenfold to them," Cotton said. "One hundredfold to them." (Politico)

  • Tucker Carlson has privately advised Trump against taking military action against Iran. The Fox News host compared Pompeo's "misplaced certainty" that Iran attacked the tankers to former Secretary of State Colin Powell's now-discredited claim that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. (Daily Beast)

poll/ 67% of Democrats want lawmakers to begin impeachment proceedings against Trump – up from 59% in April. (Politico)


Notables.

  1. A U.N. investigator called for further investigation into Saudi officials, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, regarding the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. U.N. Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard released a 101-page report detailing her months-long investigation into Khashoggi's death, providing new details which Callamard says place the blame for the murder beyond just the 11 Saudi agents who are currently on trial. Callamard said Khashoggi's death amounted to an extrajudicial killing, possibly involving torture, for which the Saudi kingdom is responsible. (Washington Post / CNN / The Guardian / Wall Street Journal)

  2. Trump vowed to cure cancer and ends AIDS if he's elected to a second term. Trump promised to "come up with the cures to many, many problems, to many, many diseases" as he officially kicked off his 2020 campaign in Orlando. (CBS News)

  3. Trump Jr. mocked Joe Biden for saying he wants to cure cancer. Junior's remarks came shortly before his father made the same promise to the same audience. (Washington Post)

  4. Trump took credit for passing a veteran's health care bill that was signed into law by Obama in 2014. The Veterans Choice program allows veterans to see doctors outside the government-run VA system at taxpayer expense. (The Hill / Associated Press)

  5. Trump refused to apologize for the full-page ad he ran in 1989 calling for the execution of the Central Park Five who were exonerated in 2002 after Matias Reyes confessed to raping the woman, which was backed up by DNA evidence. Trump suggested the men might still be guilty, because "they admitted their guilt." "You have people on both sides of that," Trump added. A new Netflix series has renewed scrutiny surrounding the Central Park Jogger case. (NBC News / ABC News / Washington Post / USA Today)

  6. Sarah Huckabee Sanders is "extremely serious" about running for governor of Arkansas. Sanders is preparing to leave her current role as White House press secretary at the end of the month and has been privately considering a gubernatorial run for months. (Politico)

  7. Today marks 100 days without an on-camera White House press briefing. The previous record was 42 days. (CNN)

Day 880: Let's see.

1/ Trump threatened to arrest and deport "millions of illegal aliens" next week. The action is not for people who have been in the country long term, but focused on recent arrivals who skipped court dates. There are an estimated 12 million immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally. Of those, a senior administration official estimated that over "1 million" undocumented immigrants "have been issued final deportation orders by federal judges yet remain at large in the country." A senior administration official said the department is still in the planning phase. (Washington Post / Politico / ABC News / CNN / NPR / Reuters)

  • 📌 Day 868: Mexico proposed sending about 6,000 National Guard troops to the country's border with Guatemala to help stem migration as part of a deal to avoid Trump's tariffs. Mexico and Guatemala also agreed to consider significant changes in asylum laws in the region, allowing the U.S. to reject requests for protection from many people fleeing persecution. The arrangement being discussed would require migrants to seek asylum in the first safe country they enter. Trump threatened to charge a 5% tariff on all Mexican goods starting Monday unless the country reduces the flow of migrants streaming to the U.S. border. The U.S., however, is considering delaying the tariffs as talks continue and Mexican negotiators have made clear that they will pull their offers if Trump imposes the tariffs. (Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg / Politico)

  • 📌 Day 872: Trump backed off his threat to impose tariffs on all Mexican goods, tweeting that the U.S. reached an agreement with Mexico to reduce the number of migrants at the southern border. According to a joint statement, Mexico agreed to "take unprecedented steps to increase enforcement to curb irregular migration," including the deployment of thousands of national guard troops to its border with Guatemala to stop migrants from reaching the U.S. Mexico also agreed to an expansion of a Trump administration program to host more migrants seeking asylum while their court proceedings are in progress in the U.S. (New York Times / Washington Post)

  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez accused Trump administration of running "concentration camps" at the U.S.-Mexico border. Republicans, meanwhile, accused Ocasio-Cortez of demeaning Jews exterminated in the Holocaust. Experts on concentration camps, however, say that "things can be concentration camps without being Dachau or Auschwitz." (Washington Post / Esquire / The Hill)

2/ Trump's nominee for defense secretary "decided not to go forward with his confirmation process so that he can devote more time to his family." An FBI background check revealed that Patrick Shanahan's ex-wife had accused him of punching her in the stomach after she was arrested and charged for punching him in the face, and in a separate incident, his son hit his mother with a baseball bat. Shanahan's nomination process had been delayed by an unusually lengthy FBI background check. Trump named Mark Esper, the secretary of the Army, to take over as acting secretary of defense. (New York Times / Washington Post / CNBC / USA Today / Reuters)

3/ Trump's nominee to be ambassador to the United Nations was frequently missing from her post while the U.S. Ambassador to Canada. FAA records show that a private jet registered to Kelly Craft's husband and used by the ambassador made 128 flights between the U.S. and Canada during a 15-month span of her tenure in Ottawa – the equivalent of a round trip once a week. (Politico)

4/ Attorney General William Barr's top deputy intervened in Paul Manafort's prison designation. The former Trump campaign manager was expected to be transferred to Rikers Island this month to await trial on a separate state case. Instead, Jeffrey Rosen informed prosecutors that Manafort will await trial at a federal lockup in Manhattan or at the Pennsylvania federal prison where he is serving a seven-and-a-half-year sentence. (New York Times / NBC News)

5/ The White House explored demoting Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell in February, shortly after Trump talked about firing him. When asked if Trump still wants to demote Powell, he told reporters: "Let's see what he does." The comment comes a day before the Fed was set to announce its next decision on interest rates. (Bloomberg / CNBC)

6/ Trump accused Fox News anchor Bret Baier of pushing "fake news." Baier cited Fox's own polling results that showed Joe Biden leading the 2020 presidential field in several battleground states. (Daily Beast)

7/ The EPA will allow states to use a pesticide that is harmful to bees. The use of Sulfoxaflor was temporarily banned in 2015. (The Hill)


Not a lot cooking today, so we're going to skip the Notables!

Day 879: True cowards.

1/ The Supreme Court ruled that criminal defendants may be prosecuted for the same offenses in both federal and state court without running afoul of the Constitution's double jeopardy clause. The ruling could impact Trump's pardon power – which extends only to federal crimes – by leaving people he pardons subject to state prosecutions. Paul Manafort, for example, is facing charges in New York similar to the federal charges for which he has been tried. A presidential pardon could free Manafort from federal prison, but it would not protect him from being prosecuted in New York. (New York Times / NBC News / CNN / USA Today)

2/ U.S. Cyber Command hacked and deployed malware inside Russia's power grid that could be used for surveillance or attack – without Trump's knowledge. Pentagon and intelligence officials reportedly did not brief Trump due to concerns that he might countermand it or discuss it with foreign officials. The actions were taken under a new set of legal authorities granted to U.S. Cyber Command by Congress last year, which allows the routine use of "clandestine military activity" in cyberspace without requiring presidential approval in order to "deter, safeguard or defend against attacks or malicious cyberactivities against the United States." Officials at the National Security Council declined to comment about how deep into the Russian grid the U.S. had accessed, but said they had no national security concerns about the details of reporting about the targeting of the Russian grid. (New York Times)

  • 📌 Day 571: Trump signed defense legislation named after John McCain but didn't mention the Senator's name during the ceremony. Trump praised the U.S. military and took credit for the $716 billion defense bill, which represents a $16 billion increase in authorized funding for the Pentagon over the current year. The bill is formally named the "John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act For Fiscal Year 2019." (Bloomberg / Washington Post)

3/ Trump accused The New York Times of committing a "virtual act of treason" for reporting that the U.S. had increased its cyberattacks on Russia, which were meant to deter future cyber activity by Moscow. In a separate tweet, Trump claimed that the story was "NOT TRUE!" and characterized the journalists as "true cowards." The New York Times responded to Trump's tweet, calling the accusation "dangerous" and noting that the paper reached out to the administration for comment on the story, but Trump's own officials said they had "no concerns" about the story. (Associated Press / NBC News / The Hill)

  • The Kremlin warned of a possible cyberwar with the U.S. for hacking into Russia's electric power grid. (New York Times)

4/ Trump's re-election campaign fired several pollsters after leaked internal polling showed he trailed Joe Biden in 11 battleground states. Trump denied the existence of any negative polling last week, calling them "fake polls" and claiming "we are winning in every single state that we've polled." The campaign fired Brett Lloyd, Mike Baselice and Adam Geller. Lloyd is the head of the Polling Company, a firm started by Kellyanne Conway in 1995. (CNN / Politico / New York Times / NBC News / Bloomberg / ABC News)

poll/ 27% of Americans say there's enough evidence to begin impeachment hearings now — up 10 points from last month. 24% think Congress should continue investigating to see if there's enough evidence to hold impeachment hearings in the future, while 48% believe that Congress should not hold impeachment hearings and that Trump should finish out his term as president. (NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

poll/ 50% of Americans believe the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia — up six points over the last three months — compared to 44% who do not believe there was coordination. (Fox News)

poll/ 50% of Americans say enforcement of immigration laws has "gone too far." 24% say actions haven't gone far enough. (Bloomberg)


Notables.

  1. Trump suggested his supporters might "demand that I stay longer" than two terms as president. "At the end of 6 years," Trump tweeted, "after America has been made GREAT again and I leave the beautiful White House (do you think the people would demand that I stay longer? KEEP AMERICA GREAT), both of these horrible papers will quickly go out of business & be forever gone!" The 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution limits the presidency to two terms. In April, Trump told a crowd that he might remain in office "at least for 10 or 14 years." And, last year Trump joked about doing away with term limits entirely, praising Xi Jinping for doing so in China. (Washington Post / The Independent)

  2. The Supreme Court ruled that the legislative districts in Virginia that it previously said were racially gerrymandered have to remain in their redrawn form. The Republican-led Virginia House of Delegates attempted to challenge a lower court opinion that struck several district maps as an unconstitutional racial gerrymander. The justices found that House Republicans did not have legal standing to challenge the decision. (NPR / Washington Post / CNN / The Hill)

  3. Congressional leaders from both parties will meet this week in an attempt to reach a deal to avoid tens of billions of dollars in automatic spending cuts this fall. Neither side says they are close to reaching an agreement at the moment, and Republicans have acknowledged that they're even having trouble finding a common position with the White House. At stake is $125 billion in automatic, mandatory spending cuts to the Pentagon and domestic spending unless a deal is reached to increase those limits. (Politico)

  4. The State Department will cut off all foreign aid to Guatemala, Honduras or El Salvador until the countries take "concrete actions to reduce the number of illegal migrants coming to the U.S. border." (Axios)

  5. Iran will surpass the uranium-stockpile limit set by its nuclear deal in the next 10 days, unless it received assurances that Europe will combat economic sanctions imposed by Trump. The U.S. withdrew from the landmark 2015 nuclear deal. (Associated Press / New York Times)

  6. Trump will send an additional 1,000 troops to the Middle East in response to "hostile behavior by Iranian forces and their proxy groups" that threaten U.S. "personnel and interests." (Axios / CNN)

  7. Trump directed all agencies to cut their advisory boards by "at least" one third. Agencies have until Sept. 30 to "evaluate the need" for each of their current advisory committees and reduce them by one-third. (The Hill)

Day 876: Probably not a good idea.

1/ Trump backtracked on his willingness to accept help from foreign governments, saying "of course" he would "absolutely" report an encounter to the FBI. Trump, however, added that he'd alert the FBI only after reviewing the material first, "because if you don't look at it, you won't know it's bad." (New York Times / Politico)

  • 📌 Day 875: Trump admitted that he'd "want to hear" from foreign governments with damaging information about his political opponents. Trump claimed "there isn't anything wrong with listening" to a foreign government if they contacted him and said "we have information on your opponent." Trump also rejected the notion that accepting damaging information from a foreign government would constitute election interference, saying "It's not an interference, they have information – I think I'd take it." FBI Director Christopher Wray during congressional testimony last month told lawmakers that "the FBI would want to know about" any foreign election meddling. Trump, however, said he might alert the FBI "if I thought there was something wrong," but then said "The FBI director is wrong, because frankly it doesn't happen like that in life." (ABC News / Associated Press / NBC News / New York Times / Bloomberg)

2/ Mitch McConnell downplayed Trump's willingness to accept foreign dirt on political opponents and not report it to the FBI in 2020. McConnell said Democrats keep bringing up the 2016 presidential election because they "can't let it go," and accused Democrats of trying to "harass" Trump. Lindsey Graham, meanwhile, said taking help from foreign agents would be "probably not a good idea." John Cornyn added: "I'd rather just have Americans participate in American elections." (Politico / CNN)

3/ Senate Republicans blocked a bill requiring campaigns to tell the FBI about any offers of foreign assistance they receive. Marsha Blackburn called the legislation's reporting requirements "overbroad," and complained that it would require campaigns to worry about disclosures at "so many different levels." Mark Warner said Blackburn's assessment of the bill was "not accurate," and "The only thing that would have to be reported is if the agent of a foreign government or national offered that something that was already prohibited." (Axios)

4/ The head of the Federal Election Commission reiterated that foreign assistance is illegal in U.S. elections. "I would not have thought that I needed to say this," Ellen Weintraub tweeted. "Let me make something 100 percent clear to the American public and anyone running for public office: It is illegal for any person to solicit, accept, or receive anything of value from a foreign national in connection with a U.S. election." (Politico / The Hill)

5/ Democratic presidential candidates will participate in two debates, split into two groups of 10 on June 26 and 27 in Miami. On night one, Cory Booker, Julián Castro, Bill de Blasio, John Delaney, Tulsi Gabbard, Jay Inslee, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O'Rourke, Tim Ryan, and Elizabeth Warren. On night two, Michael Bennet, Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, John Hickenlooper, Bernie Sanders, Eric Swalwell, Marianne Williamson, and Andrew Yang. The debates will air on NBC and be moderated by the NBC anchors Savannah Guthrie, Lester Holt and Chuck Todd, the Telemundo anchor José Díaz-Balart, and the MSNBC commentator Rachel Maddow. (New York Times / NBC News)

6/ The Justice Department supported Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's refusal to turn over Trump's tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee. The Office of Legal Counsel released its legal rationale for refusing to provide Trump's tax returns to Congress, saying the request was designed to make the returns public, which "is not a legitimate legislative purpose." (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

  • 📌 Day 841: The House Ways and Mean Committee subpoenaed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin over Trump's tax returns. IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig was also subpoenaed. Chairman Richard Neal gave Mnuchin and Rettig until until May 17 to turn over six years of Trump's returns, and is expected to go to court to enforce his request if the Trump administration continues to argue that the committee does not have a legitimate legislative purpose that warrants compliance. Earlier this week, Mnuchin rejected Neal's request for the returns. Trump previously vowed to fight all subpoenas from House Democrats. Subpoenas are now pending from the Ways and Means, Judiciary, Oversight and Reform, Financial Services, and the Intelligence Committees. (CNBC / New York Times / Politico / Washington Post /Wall Street Journal)

Notables.

  1. The owner of one of the Japanese oil tankers that was attacked in the Straight of Hormuz says the U.S. is wrong about the attack, contradicting the claims made — without evidence — by Trump and Mike Pompeo. The U.S. military released a video and claimed that it shows Iranian boats retrieving an unexploded mine from the oil tanker, but the owner of the tanker says his sailors saw "flying objects" just before it was hit. Yutaka Katada called the reports claiming the tanker was hit by a mine "false" and denied any possibility of a mine or torpedo attack because "the impact was well above the water." Trump blamed Iran for the attack, describing the country is a "nation of terror." (CBS News / New York Times / Washington Post / Daily Beast / NBC News / NPR / The Guardian / Associated Press)

  2. Trump doesn't plan to fire Kellyanne Conway for her repeated violations of the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from engaging in political activity in their official roles. "It looks to me like they're trying to take away her right of free speech," Trump said, "and that's just not fair." A report submitted to Trump by the Office of Special Counsel found that Conway violated the Hatch Act on multiple occasions by "disparaging Democratic presidential candidates while speaking in her official capacity during television interviews and on social media." (Washington Post / CNN)

  3. The Trump administration and Congress owe Washington, D.C. more than $7 million in expenses from Trump's 2017 inauguration. The total cost of the four days of events, parade, and gathering of roughly 600,000 people on the Mall, was $27.3 million. Congress appropriated roughly $20 million for Trump's inauguration. (Washington Post)

  4. Ivanka Trump made $4 million from her investment in the Trump International Hotel last year. (Bloomberg)

  5. D.C. residents filed a petition to revoke the Trump International Hotel's liquor license. D.C. law states that license applicants must be of "good character and generally fit for the responsibilities of licensure." (Washington Post)

  6. A physicist appointed by the White House to counter the federal government's own climate science consulted a group that disavows manmade climate change. William Happer reached out to the Heartland Institute to discuss his arguments in a paper attempting to knock down the contributions of fossil fuel emissions in climate disruption. Happer is now a member of Trump's National Security Council. (Associated Press / The Guardian)

  7. The Trump administration cannot block pregnant, undocumented teenagers held in government custody from getting abortions, a federal appeals court ruled. The court concluded that they were "rejecting the government's position that its denial of abortion access can be squared with Supreme Court precedent." (CNN / BuzzFeed News)

  8. ICE placed 5,200 adult immigrants in quarantine after being exposed to mumps or chicken pox while in custody. About 4,200 have been exposed to mumps, 800 exposed to chicken pox, and 100 have been exposed to both. (CNN)

  9. Trump declined to endorse Mike Pence for president in 2024, instead said he would give it "strong consideration." (USA Today / Politico)

  10. Trump compared Melania Trump to Jackie Kennedy Onassis, saying "we have our own Jackie O. It's called Melania…we'll call it Melania T." Trump made the comparison while defending his decision to paint the new Air Force One red, white and blue, replacing the baby blue color scheme picked by Kennedy Onassis in the 1960s. (Politico / Talking Points Memo / The Hill / The Cut)

Day 875: The green light.

1/ Trump admitted that he'd "want to hear" from foreign governments with damaging information about his political opponents. Trump claimed "there isn't anything wrong with listening" to a foreign government if they contacted him and said "we have information on your opponent." Trump also rejected the notion that accepting damaging information from a foreign government would constitute election interference, saying "It's not an interference, they have information – I think I'd take it." FBI Director Christopher Wray during congressional testimony last month told lawmakers that "the FBI would want to know about" any foreign election meddling. Trump, however, said he might alert the FBI "if I thought there was something wrong," but then said "The FBI director is wrong, because frankly it doesn't happen like that in life." (ABC News / Associated Press / NBC News / New York Times / Bloomberg)

  • Putin: Relations between Moscow and Washington "are going downhill, they are getting worse and worse." (Reuters)

2/ Nancy Pelosi: "Everybody in the country should be totally appalled" by Trump's comments and that he "gave us evidence once again he does not know right from wrong." Pelosi added that Trump is giving Russia "the green light" to again interfere in the presidential election. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, meanwhile, called Trump's remarks "disgraceful" and "shocking," saying that "it's as if the president had learned absolutely nothing in the past two years" from Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. (Washington Post / Associated Press / ABC News / CNBC / CNN / Wall Street Journal)

  • More than a dozen 2020 Democratic presidential candidates rebuked Trump after he admitted he would consider taking information on his political opponents from a foreign government. Many renewed calls for impeachment while also voicing new concerns about the security of American elections. (Washington Post)

3/ Trump tried to defend and recast his comments about accepting information about his rivals from foreign governments, tweeting that he talks to foreign leaders every day and asking: "Should I immediately call the FBI about these calls and meetings? How ridiculous!" Trump then argued that his comments were taken out of context, claiming that his "full answer is rarely played by the Fake News Media" and that "They purposely leave out the part that matters." He did not offer evidence to support the claim. (Politico / HuffPost)

4/ The Justice Department plans to interview senior CIA officials about the origins of its Russia investigation and their conclusion that Putin ordered an influence campaign that "aspired to help" Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton. Attorney General William Barr previously said he wanted to review why the FBI opened the counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign in order to determine whether law enforcement officials abused their power. (New York Times)

5/ Sarah Huckabee Sanders resigned and will leave the White House at the end of the month. Sanders has not held a press briefing for a record 94 days. (Politico / NBC News / CNN / The Guardian / New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

6/ A federal watchdog agency recommended that Kellyanne Conway "immediately" be "removed from service," citing repeated violations of the Hatch Act, which bans federal employees from political activity. The Office of Special Counsel – unrelated to Mueller's office – said Conway has been a "repeat offender" by "disparaging Democratic presidential candidates while speaking in her official capacity during television interviews and on social media." The decision to remove Conway is up to Trump. (Washington Post / Politico / ABC News / New York Times / Axios / Reuters / Associated Press / The Hill / The Guardian)

7/ The House Intelligence Committee issued subpoenas to Michael Flynn and Rick Gates. The committee is demanding that Flynn and Gates provide documents by June 26 and testify before the committee on July 10. Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said the committee issued the subpoenas after both "refused to fully cooperate with Congress." Flynn and Gates both pleaded guilty and cooperated in Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. (New York Times / CNN / Politico / Reuters)

  • Trump approves of Flynn's new lawyer, saying his former national security adviser "has not retained a good lawyer, he has retained a GREAT LAWYER." Sidney Powell previously accused the FBI of spying on Flynn as part of a "setup," arguing that Flynn should withdraw his guilty plea and that his case should be dismissed. (Politico)

Notables.

  1. Trump Jr. indicated that he plans to campaign against Justin Amash, the only Republican congressman who has called for Trump's impeachment. (CNBC / Washington Post)

  2. Two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman were attacked as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was meeting Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran. The attack comes a month after four tankers were damaged in the same area. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, meanwhile, said intelligence showed that Iran was responsible for attacks on two oil tankers. While Pompeo didn't present any evidence, he called the sabotage against the tankers the latest in a series of "unprovoked attacks [that] present a clear threat to international peace and security." (Associated Press / Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg)

  3. Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney used his position to push for the nomination of a federal judge over the objection of White House lawyers. Mulvaney repeatedly pushed Don McGahn to nominate Halil Suleyman Ozerden to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Mulvaney was a groomsman at Ozerden's wedding in 2003. (Politico)

  4. Trump still owes hundreds of thousands of dollars in security fees to at least ten U.S. cities. The Trump campaign has failed to reimburse the cities for public-safety costs associated with his presidential and campaign rallies. The total bill currently sits at $841,219 and includes invoices that date back to before Trump was elected in 2016. (Center for Public Integrity / The Hill / NBC News)

  5. Trump revealed images of Air Force One's proposed redesign, which features a color scheme similar to his own private jet. The two new planes will cost $3.9 billion, but won't be ready for takeoff until 2024. (ABC News / Washington Post)

Day 874: Not at all worried.

1/ Trump asserted executive privilege over subpoenaed documents about the administration's decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. The move, on the advice of the Justice Department, was meant to undercut a vote later in the day by the House Oversight Committee to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt for refusing to turn over the materials. Hours later the committee voted 24-15 to advance the contempt measures against Barr and Ross. The full House will need to hold a floor vote in order to to file a lawsuit to enforce the committee's subpoenas. (Washington Post / NBC News / Politico / New York Times / Axios / Associated Press / Wall Street Journal)

2/ Trump Jr. said he's "not at all worried" about perjury charges over suspicions he previously lied to Congress. "There was nothing to change," Trump Jr. said following his closed-door meeting with the Senate Intelligence Committee today. In February, Michael Cohen testified that he briefed Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump about negotiations regarding the Trump Tower Moscow project. Cohen also told Congress that he believed he heard Trump Jr. talking with his father about the Trump Tower meeting between him, Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, and a Russian lawyer promising damaging information on Hillary Clinton. (CNN / Washington Post / Politico / Talking Points Memo)

  • Michael Flynn's new attorney is one of the earliest and fiercest critics of the Justice Department and the FBI's investigation into a potential conspiracy between Trump's campaign and Russia. Sidney Powell, a former Justice Department attorney, claimed that Flynn was spied on as part of a "set-up" by the FBI and that his case should be "dismissed." Flynn pleaded guilty last year to lying to the FBI and agreed to cooperate with Mueller's investigation. (The Hill / Politico / CNN)

  • The House Intelligence Committee chairman threatened to subpoena FBI Director Christopher Wray for information related to the counterintelligence investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Adam Schiff said he has been unable to get information on the status or findings of the counterintelligence probe. (The Hill / Associated Press / Politico / CNN)

3/ Hope Hicks agreed to testify before the House Judiciary Committee next Wednesday. Hicks will be the first former Trump aide to go before the committee investigating whether Trump tried to obstruct a probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Her testimony will be behind closed doors but a transcript will be released to the public. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

4/ Kamala Harris – if elected – said her Justice Department "would have no choice" but to prosecute Trump after his term in office. "There has to be accountability," Harris added. "Everyone should be held accountable, and the president is not above the law." (NPR / Axios)

poll/ 69% of voters said a sitting president should be subject to criminal charges, while 24% said a president should be charged with crimes after they leave office. 52% of Republicans, 83% of Democrats, and 68% of independent voters all support charging a sitting president. 55% of voters say Robert Mueller's report did not clear Trump of wrongdoing. (Quinnipiac)


Notables.

  1. Trump publicly came out against the use of CIA informants to spy on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, saying it would not happen on his watch. Trump's comments came a day after reports that Kim's half-brother, who was killed at the Kuala Lumpur airport in 2017, was a CIA source. "I saw the information about the CIA, with respect to his brother, or half-brother," Trump told reporters. "And I would tell [Kim Jong Un] that would not happen under my auspices, that's for sure. I wouldn't let that happen under my auspices." (Reuters)

  2. Trump held up a document and claimed it was a "secret" deal with Mexico to avoid further tariffs. Mexican officials had already revealed most of it. Photographs of the document show language about "a regional approach to burden-sharing in relation to the processing of refugee status claims to migrants." The document also refers to a window of "45 days," and says Mexico has committed to examining and changing its laws in order to implement the agreement. Mexico's Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said the Friday agreement with the U.S. gave Mexico 45 days to prove that it could diminish migration without agreeing to a "safe third country" deal, in which Central American migrants would be held in Mexico while their claims are processed. (Washington Post / Reuters / The Guardian)

  3. Trump – without evidence – claimed he is "winning in every single state that we polled." Trump, however, was recently briefed on a 17-state poll by his campaign that showed him trailing Biden in many of the states he needs to win in 2020. He then instructed aides to deny the results of the campaign's internal polling. "We have great internal polling," Trump added. (Washington Post)

  4. Mitch McConnell dismissed reports that his wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, helped steer federal funding to his home state of Kentucky. When asked about the allegations of special treatment, McConnell joked that he was disappointed that Chao wasn't able to steer enough funds his way. "You know, I was complaining to her just last night: 169 projects, and Kentucky got only five," McConnell said. "I hope we'll do a lot better next year." (Washington Post)

  5. The U.S. budget deficit widened to $738.6 billion – a $206 billion increase from a year earlier. (Bloomberg)

  6. At least 22 foreign governments have spent money at Trump Organization properties. According to news accounts and other public records, at least nine foreign governments were involved in hosting events at a Trump property, at least nine foreign governments rented or purchased property in buildings or communities owned by Trump businesses, representatives of at least five foreign governments have stayed at a Trump property, and at least eight foreign governments or their representatives attended parties or gatherings at Trump properties. (NBC News)

Day 873: Not off the table.

1/ The White House will review and decide what evidence from Robert Mueller's report the House Judiciary Committee gets to see. The Trump administration will work with the Justice Department and is expected to assert executive privilege to limit the documents the committee has access to. (Daily Beast)

  • 📌 Day 872: The Justice Department agreed to provide Congress with "key evidence" collected by Robert Mueller related to obstruction of justice and abuse of power by Trump. House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler said "Mueller's most important files" will be available to all committee members, allowing "us to perform our constitutional duties and decide how to respond to the allegations laid out against the President by the Special Counsel." The House Judiciary Committee, however, moved no closer to securing testimony from Mueller or other figures, such as former White House counsel Donald McGahn, who has declined to testify, citing Trump administration lawyers. (New York Times / CNN / Washington Post)

2/ The House authorized committee chairs to sue the Trump administration in federal court to enforce a series of subpoenas. The House Judiciary Committee can now begin legal proceedings to enforce the panel's subpoenas for Mueller's evidence and force former White House Counsel Donald McGahn to cooperate with the panels' probe into whether Trump obstructed justice. The move also empowers other committee chairmen to seek enforcement of their own subpoenas for testimony and documents, such as Trump's tax returns. The measure, however, stopped short of a criminal contempt citation for Attorney General William Barr and McGahn. (Politico / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg)

  • The Justice Department advised Trump to invoke executive privilege to block House Democrats' access to documents about efforts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd threatened the blanket assertion of privilege if the House Oversight and Reform Committee proceeds with a scheduled vote on Wednesday to hold Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress. (Politico)

3/ Trump Jr. will be interviewed by Senate Intelligence Committee behind closed doors on Wednesday. The Republican-led committee subpoenaed Trump Jr. last month, angering Trump and his allies. Trump Jr. will testify for two-to-four hours on a half dozen topics, including the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting and the Trump Tower Moscow project. (CNN)

  • 📌 Day 840: Mick Mulvaney criticized Republicans for not informing him that Trump Jr. would be subpoenaed by the Senate Intelligence Committee as part of its ongoing probe into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign. The acting White House chief of staff called it "bad form" to "not at least get a heads-up" from the Republican-led committee. Senator Richard Blumenthal said that "If [Trump Jr.] fails to comply with a lawful subpoena, he has no privilege, prison is the only answer." Trump Jr. is expected to assert his Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination in order to resist testifying about his contacts with Russia. (Washington Post / Politico / CNN / The Hill / Reuters)

  • 📌 Day 839: The Senate Intelligence Committee subpoenaed Trump Jr. to answer questions about his previous testimony related to the Russia investigation. Trump Jr. testified before the committee in September 2017 that he was only "peripherally aware" of the proposed plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. Michael Cohen, however, told a House committee earlier this year that he had met with both Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump "approximately 10" times to brief them about the Trump Tower plan. The Republican-led committee wants Trump Jr. to answer questions about his claim to have limited knowledge of the plan. (Axios / CNBC / New York Times)

  • 📌 Day 680: Trump Jr.'s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee conflicts with Michael Cohen's version of events regarding negotiations of a prospective Trump Tower in Moscow. In Cohen's version, he says the discussions with at least one Russian government official continued through June 2016. Trump Jr. testified in September 2017 that talks surrounding a Trump Tower in Moscow concluded without result "at the end" of 2014 and "certainly not [20]16. There was never a definitive end to it. It just died of deal fatigue." Trump Jr. told the Senate committee that he "wasn't involved," knew "very little," and was only "peripherally aware" of the deal other than a letter of intent was signed by Trump. He also said he didn't know that Cohen had sent an email to Putin's aide, Dmitry Peskov. In Cohen's guilty plea, he said he briefed Trump's family members about the continued negotiations. (NPR / USA Today)

4/ Speaker Nancy Pelosi said impeachment is "not off the table," but that the Democratic caucus is "not even close" to moving forward with impeaching Trump. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, meanwhile, has twice urged Pelosi in private to open a formal impeachment inquiry. (CNN / Axios / Politico)

  • Rep. Justin Amash stepped down from the right-wing House Freedom Caucus, which he co-founded, less than a month after becoming the first Republican to admit that Trump committed impeachable offenses. Amash said he "didn't want to be a further distraction for the group" after tweeting that Mueller's report contained "multiple examples" of Trump committing obstruction of justice. Trump called Amash "a loser for a long time." Amash is now facing a primary challenge from a Trump supporter. (CNN / Fox News / Politico / Axios / Washington Post)

poll/ 70% of American voters say the economy is "excellent" or "good," but only 41% of voters say Trump deserves credit for it. Another 27% said Trump does not deserve credit and 28% say the economy is "not so good" or "poor." (Quinnipiac)


Notables.

  1. Trump ordered his aides to lie about the results of his campaign's internal polling efforts in key battleground states. After he was briefed on the results of a 17-state poll conducted by his campaign pollster, Tony Fabrizio, Trump told aides to publicly deny that he was trailing Joe Biden in states like Texas, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. When details about the polls leaked, he also told aides to say publicly that other polling data showed him doing well. (New York Times / The Week)

  2. The Trump campaign is considering putting resources into Oregon – a state where Hillary Clinton beat Trump by 11 percentage points in 2016. (CNN)

  3. Three Republican former heads of the EPA accused the agency's current leadership of taking a "catastrophic" approach to climate change by "undermining [the] science." (ABC News)

  4. Mike Pence confirmed that American embassies were banned from flying the pride flag on their embassy flagpoles, calling it "the right decision." Pence added that "when it comes to the American flagpole, and American embassies and capitals around the world, one American flag flies." (Washington Post / USA Today / NBC News)

  5. Trump's former Chief of Staff Reince Preibus joined the Navy. Preibus was sworn in as an entry-level officer by Pence during a commissioning ceremony. (Washington Post)

  6. Trump appears to be having second thoughts about his next secretary of defense. Last week, Trump asked several confidants about alternative candidates for nominee Patrick Shanahan. (NBC News)

  7. Trump distinguished between himself and Richard Nixon about the possibility of impeachment. "He left. I don't leave," Trump said. "A big difference." (Politico)

Day 872: Possibly catastrophic.

1/ The Justice Department agreed to provide Congress with "key evidence" collected by Robert Mueller related to obstruction of justice and abuse of power by Trump. House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler said "Mueller's most important files" will be available to all committee members, allowing "us to perform our constitutional duties and decide how to respond to the allegations laid out against the President by the Special Counsel." The House Judiciary Committee, however, moved no closer to securing testimony from Mueller or other figures, such as former White House counsel Donald McGahn, who has declined to testify, citing Trump administration lawyers. (New York Times / CNN / Washington Post)

2/ Jerry Nadler agreed to delay a vote to hold Barr and McGahn in contempt of Congress after reaching the deal with the Department of Justice for evidence from the Mueller report. The House will still proceed with a vote to authorize the House Judiciary Committee to take Barr to federal court to fully enforce its subpoena, but will not formally vote to hold Barr in contempt. "If the Department proceeds in good faith and we are able to obtain everything that we need, then there will be no need to take further steps," Nadler said. "If important information is held back, then we will have no choice but to enforce our subpoena in court and consider other remedies." (ABC News / NBC News / NPR)

3/ Trump backed off his threat to impose tariffs on all Mexican goods, tweeting that the U.S. reached an agreement with Mexico to reduce the number of migrants at the southern border. According to a joint statement, Mexico agreed to "take unprecedented steps to increase enforcement to curb irregular migration," including the deployment of thousands of national guard troops to its border with Guatemala to stop migrants from reaching the U.S. Mexico also agreed to an expansion of a Trump administration program to host more migrants seeking asylum while their court proceedings are in progress in the U.S. (New York Times / Washington Post)

  • READ: The United States-Mexico Joint Declaration released by the State Department. (New York Times)

4/ Mexico had already agreed to deploy its National Guard several months ago. The Mexican government agreed to the "deployment of its National Guard throughout Mexico, giving priority to its southern border" during secret talks with Kirstjen Nielsen back in March. And, the agreement to host asylum seekers in Mexico while their cases proceed in the U.S. was reached in December. Trump, however, tweeted on Saturday that he was "very excited about the new deal with Mexico." (New York Times / Reuters)

5/ Trump claimed there are "some things….. …..not mentioned" in the deal with Mexico, promising they'll be revealed "in the not too distant future." Mexico's Foreign Affairs Minister Marcelo Ebrard, however, contradicted Trump's claim that a "fully signed and documented" agreement would be revealed soon, saying there were no undisclosed parts of the U.S.-Mexico deal. Trump also claimed that Mexico agreed to "immediately begin buying large quantities of agricultural product from our great patriot farmers." There is no evidence, however, that an agreement on agricultural trade was agreed to and three Mexican officials have denied that it exists. (Politico / Associated Press / ABC News / New York Times / CNN / Bloomberg / Business Insider)

6/ The White House blocked a State Department intelligence agency from submitting written testimony that human-caused climate change is "possibly catastrophic" to national security. The written testimony by the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research for a House Intelligence Committee hearing outlined that "absent extensive mitigating factors or events, we see few plausible future scenarios where significant — possibly catastrophic — harm does not arise from the compounded effects of climate change." Officials from the White House's Office of Legislative Affairs, Office of Management and Budget, and National Security Council all objected to parts of the testimony because it did not align with the Trump administration's official stance. The analyst, Rod Schoonover, was ultimately allowed to speak before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, but the White House refused to approve Schoonover's written testimony for entry into the permanent Congressional Record. (Washington Post / New York Times)

  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo suggested that people deal with climate change by "mov[ing] to different places." Pomeo claimed that the climate "always changes," and so "societies reorganize" and "we will figure out responses to this that address these issues in important and fundamental ways." (Talking Points Memo)

Notables.

  1. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao set up a special liaison to deal with grant applications from her husband Mitch McConnell's state of Kentucky. The deal allowed at least $78 million for preferred projects to go through while McConnell campaigned for reelection. Chao personally asked Todd Inman to serve as intermediary and help advise McConnell and local officials on specific grants that McConnell designated. One grant for a highway improvement project in a McConnell political stronghold had already been rejected on two separate occasions. (Politico)

  2. A real estate company part-owned by Jared Kushner received $90 million in foreign funding since 2017. Kushner failed to list the company, Cadre, on his first ethics disclosure, but later adding the company and calling it an inadvertent omission. (The Guardian)

  3. A bipartisan group of Senators is attempting to block Trump's sale of arms to Saudi Arabia. Senators are using a provision in the Foreign Assistance Act to request a report from the Trump administration on Saudi Arabia's human rights record, which could trigger a vote to halt the billions of dollars in arms sales that Mike Pompeo is pushing for despite opposition from Congress. (Politico / NBC News / The Hill)

  4. The Trump administration rejected requests from U.S. embassies to fly the rainbow pride flag on embassy flagpoles during Pride Month. An advisory cable last year directed diplomats to obtain top-level approval from the State Department's Office of Management to fly a rainbow flag. Requests by U.S. embassies in Israel, Germany, Brazil and Latvia to fly the pride flag on their flagpoles have been denied. (NBC News / Washington Post)

  5. The symbolic oak tree Emmanuel Macron gave to Trump last year has died. Macron tweeted at the time that the sapling would be "a reminder … of these ties that bind us" and the "tenacity of the friendship" of the two nations. (The Guardian)

  6. Trump has made at least 10,796 false or misleading claims since taking office. Trump has averaged about 12 false claims a day. (Washington Post)

Day 869: Untenable.

1/ The Justice and Commerce departments rejected subpoenas by House Democrats demanding more documents about the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd sent a letter to House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, claiming the documents are protected by attorney-client privilege and therefore cannot be disclosed. Boyd wrote that the committee's "insistence that the department immediately turn over these documents … is improper," and added that the Justice Department has already handed over tens of thousands of documents. (Politico)

2/ Elijah Cummings indicated that he plans to move forward with contempt votes for Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in response to the Justice and Commerce departments' refusal to turn over documents. "We gave Attorney General Barr and Secretary Ross every opportunity to produce the documents the Committee needs for our investigation," Cummings said in a statement, "but rather than cooperate, they have decided that they would rather be held in contempt of Congress." The panel is scheduled to vote next week to hold Barr and Ross in contempt of Congress, the same week the House will vote to hold Barr in contempt for failing to provide the full, unredacted Mueller report and underlying evidence to Congress. (The Hill)

3/ The world's largest automakers warned Trump that his plan to weaken tailpipe pollution standards is a threat to their profits and will produce "untenable" instability in the manufacturing sector. In a letter signed by 17 companies including Ford, General Motors, Toyota, and Volvo, the companies urged Trump not to roll back the policy. Trump's new rule would all but eliminate the Obama-era auto pollution regulations and effectively freeze miles-per-gallon standards at 37 mpg for cars, instead of the original goal of reaching 54.5 mpg by 2025. The automakers warned Trump that "an extended period of litigation and instability" would follow if his plans are implemented. (New York Times / NPR)

4/ Government prosecutors released the audio recording of a 2017 voicemail from Trump's then-personal lawyer asking Michael Flynn's attorney for "some kind of heads up" about his cooperation with investigators. Mueller's team has described John Dowd's call to Rob Kelner as a "potential" effort to hinder the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. The transcript of Dowd's call with Kelner was included in the Mueller report, but the audio remained secret until Thursday. Prosecutors turned it over after an order from a federal judge, who is weighing how to sentence Flynn for making false statements to FBI agents about his contacts with the Russian ambassador to the United States. (ABC News / New York Times)

  • Russia tried to set up a video teleconference between Trump and Putin on the day after Trump's inauguration. While the U.S. and Russian officials have never confirmed that a conversation took place on Jan. 21, 2017, the White House, however, provided a readout of a "congratulatory call" from Putin that happened on Jan. 28th. The call lasted about one hour and the two discussed Syria and fighting Islamic terrorism, among other topics. (Politico)

5/ U.S. and Russian warships almost collided in the Pacific, coming somewhere between 50 feet and 165 feet of each other. Each side blamed the other, alleging that their ships were forced to perform emergency maneuvers to avoid a collision. (CNN)

6/ The economy added 75,000 jobs in May while the unemployment rate stayed steady at 3.6% – the lowest level in almost 50 years. March's job count was revised lower from 189,000 to 153,000 and the April number was lowered to 224,000 from 263,000. (CNBC / NBC News / New York Times)

7/ Trump called Nancy Pelosi a "nasty, vindictive, horrible person" in response to the House speaker telling lawmakers she'd rather see "him in prison" than impeached. Trump also called Charles Schumer a "jerk" and Mueller a "fool." (Politico / Washington Post)

poll/ 77% of Americans want the Supreme Court to uphold Roe v. Wade. Within that group, 26% say they would like to see it remain in place, but with more restrictions added; 21% want to see Roe expanded to establish the right to abortion under any circumstance; 16% want to keep it the way it is; and 14% want to see some of the restrictions allowed under Roe reduced. 13% overall say it should be overturned. (NPR)

Day 868: Aesthetics.

1/ Mexico proposed sending about 6,000 National Guard troops to the country's border with Guatemala to help stem migration as part of a deal to avoid Trump's tariffs. Mexico and Guatemala also agreed to consider significant changes in asylum laws in the region, allowing the U.S. to reject requests for protection from many people fleeing persecution. The arrangement being discussed would require migrants to seek asylum in the first safe country they enter. Trump threatened to charge a 5% tariff on all Mexican goods starting Monday unless the country reduces the flow of migrants streaming to the U.S. border. The U.S., however, is considering delaying the tariffs as talks continue and Mexican negotiators have made clear that they will pull their offers if Trump imposes the tariffs. (Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg / Politico)

  • Earlier in the day, Trump declared that "not nearly enough" progress has been made in the negotiations with Mexico. Trump warned that "if no agreement is reached, Tariffs at the 5% level will begin on Monday, with monthly increases as per schedule." Trump indicated that he won't be satisfied with anything less than direct evidence that Mexico has completely stopped the flow of migration through its country. (New York Times / Politico)

2/ Trump threatened to impose tariffs on "at least" another $300 billion worth of Chinese goods, but said he thinks China and Mexico both want to make deals. "Our talks with China, a lot of interesting things are happening," Trump told reporters. "We'll see what happens… I could go up another at least $300 billion and I’ll do that at the right time." No face-to-face meetings between Trump and Chinese officials have been held since May 10, when Trump announced a 25% increase in tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods. (Reuters)

3/ The military will spend a month painting a mile-long section of the U.S.-Mexico border wall to improve its "aesthetic appearance." An unspecific number of service members were instructed to paint barriers in the California border town of Calexico for a total of 30 days. Sen. Dick Durbin called the task a "disgraceful misuse" of taxpayer money. (CBS News)

4/ Nancy Pelosi told senior Democrats she'd like to see Trump "in prison" while discussing with Rep. Jerry Nadler whether to launch impeachment proceedings against Trump. Nadler pressed Pelosi to start the proceedings, but Pelosi refused and said: "I don't want to see him impeached. I want to see him in prison." Pelosi said she prefers voters to remove Trump via the ballot box and then have him prosecuted for his crimes. Elizabeth Warren, meanwhile, said Trump "would be carried out in handcuffs" if he were anybody else. (Politico / Washington Post / NBC News)

5/ Jerry Nadler told Democratic leaders that he will issue a subpoena within the next two weeks for Robert Mueller to testify before the House Judiciary Committee if they're unable to reach an agreement to secure his voluntary public testimony. Mueller is currently only willing to answer questions in private, which is a nonstarter for most House Democrats. (Politico)

  • Trump said Mueller made "such a fool" out of himself when he delivered his public statement about the Russia investigation last week. (Fox News)

6/ House Democrats plan to grant committees the authority to enforce subpoenas for documents and witness testimony that the Trump administration has tried to block. Committee chairs will be able to sue the Trump administration and hold officials in contempt of Congress. Democrats said the reason for the change is to prevent contempt citations from dominating the House's floor time. (CNN / Politico)

7/ Michael Flynn fired his legal team. The former Trump national security adviser awaits sentencing for lying to the FBI about his conversations with a top Russian official. (Politico)

8/ Trump's empty cabinet positions have been vacant more than four times as many days as any other president since Ronald Reagan at this point in their presidencies. (Axios)

Day 867: The cleanest climate.

1/ Trump said he believes climate change "goes both ways," claimed the U.S. has one of "the cleanest climates," and blamed China, India, and Russia for polluting the environment. Trump's comments came after a 90-minute meeting with Prince Charles on the subject. While Trump remains unconvinced that the climate is warming, he said he agrees with Charles that he wants the U.S. to have "good climate, as opposed to a disaster." The United States is the world's second-largest emitter of carbon dioxide emissions, which rose an estimated 3.4% in 2018. (BBC / The Guardian / Washington Post)

2/ Trump claimed that he is "making up" for not serving in the Vietnam War by proposing to increase the Pentagon's budget to around $750 billion in 2020. Despite avoiding service through student deferments and a medical disqualification for bone spurs, Trump claimed he "would have not have minded that at all. I would have been honored" to serve. (Washington Post)

  • Trump erroneously claimed that he reinstituted a ban on most transgender people from serving in the military because some of them take prescription medicine. Trump said that when "you're in the military, you're not allowed to take any drugs." The military, however, doesn't prohibit service members from taking prescription medicines. (Bloomberg / Washington Post)

3/ A bipartisan group of senators will try to block the Trump administration's use of emergency authority to sell arms to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Senators will try to force 22 votes aimed at rebuking the Trump administration's May decision to invoke an emergency provision in the Arms Export Control Act in order to push through $8 billion worth of arms sales to the Saudis, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan. Congress had been blocking the sale since last year. (Associated Press / Politico / USA Today / New York Times)

4/ The House passed the DREAM and Promise Act of 2019, which would give millions of young undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship. The measure passed with a vote of 327 to 187, and it now heads to the Senate, where it is unlikely to be considered. The White House has also threatened to veto the measure if it makes it to Trump's desk. Seven Republicans voted in favor of the measure, and no Democrats voted against it. (CBS News / New York Times / Washington Post)

5/ A 40-year-old migrant woman died while in U.S. Border Patrol custody – the second migrant woman to die within a 36-hour period. Border Patrol agents detained the woman in Eagle Pass, Texas on Monday and she collapsed minutes later. She was transported to a hospital, where she died shortly after arriving. On Saturday, a 25-year-old transgender asylum seeker from El Salvador died at a hospital in El Paso, Texas. (The Guardian)

6/ Border Patrol agents are boarding buses and trains across the northern U.S. with increasing frequency to ask passengers about their citizenship status, often nowhere near the U.S. border. Newly obtained emails show a Border Patrol official in Maine told agents "Happy hunting!" as they prepared to begin boarding buses. The searches can happen as often as three times per day at some bus stations, even at those with no direct routes to or from the border, causing bus delays and missed connections. (NBC News)

7/ The Trump administration canceled English classes, recreational programs, and legal aid for unaccompanied minors in federal migrant shelters. The Office of Refugee Resettlement discontinued funding for the programs, calling them "not directly necessary for the protection of life and safety, including education services, legal services, and recreation." (Washington Post / ABC News)

poll/ 54% of Americans say they think Trump will win the 2020 election, compared to 41% who feel he will lose. In December, 51% said they thought Trump would lose his bid for re-election. (CNN)

poll/ 68% of American believe "made-up news" is a "very big problem" in the U.S. By comparison, 46% called climate change a "very big problem," 40% said the same about racism, and 34% said the same about terrorism. (Pew Research Center / Nieman Lab / Axios)


Notables.

  1. House Democrats rejected calls to preemptively cancel a House vote to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt, but said they are willing to reopen negotiations with the DOJ over Mueller's full, un-redacted report. Rep. Jerry Nadler said he was willing to try to find a compromise, but only "without conditions" from the Justice Department. "We urge you not to make the mistake of breaking off accommodations again," Nadler warned last night. "We are here and ready to negotiate as early as tomorrow morning." (New York Times / House Judiciary Committee)

  2. A federal judge said the Justice Department does not have to turn over the transcripts of Michael Flynn's calls with then-Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak as part of Flynn's sentencing. The DOJ originally failed to turn over the transcripts, saying they did not have any additional documents to share with the court that could help at sentencing. The judge said "the government is not required to file any additional materials or information on the public docket." (CNN)

  3. The Russian trolling effort on Twitter during the 2016 campaign was larger, more coordinated, and more effective than previously known. The operation by the Internet Research Agency amounted to "a vast, coordinated campaign that was incredibly successful at pushing out and amplifying its messages," according to the cybersecurity firm Symantec. Some of the trolls used their fake accounts to make money on the side, with one potentially generating nearly $1 million. (Politico / NBC News)

  4. The Trump administration sharply reduced federal spending on medical research that uses tissue from aborted fetuses. The move overrides the advice of scientists, who say the tissue is crucial for studies that benefit millions of patients and have led to life-saving advances, including the development of vaccines for rubella and rabies and drugs to treat the HIV virus. The decision fullfills a top goal by anti-abortion groups that have lobbied hard for it. (New York Times / ABC News)

Day 866: False light.

1/ The White House directed Hope Hicks not to cooperate with a House Judiciary Committee subpoena for documents related to her White House service. The White House also instructed Annie Donaldson, the former deputy White House counsel, not to turn over the documents. Rep. Jerrold Nadler said the documents are no longer covered by executive privilege "if they ever were" and that the White House's move was "part of President Trump's continued obstruction of Congress." Hicks, however, said she will hand over documents related to Trump's 2016 presidential campaign. (CNN / Washington Post / CNBC / NBC News / Politico)

2/ The Justice Department agreed to reopen negotiations with the House Judiciary Committee for Robert Mueller's full, unredacted report if the House removes its threat to hold Attorney General Bill Barr in contempt next week. In a letter to committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, the Department said it would only "resume negotiations" if the committee reversed its previous recommendation that Barr be held in contempt. The committee subpoenaed for Mueller's report and the underlying material in April. When Barr didn't comply, they held a committee contempt vote. (Talking Points Memo / Axios / Washington Post)

3/ Trump vowed to move forward with imposing tariffs on Mexican imports next week, warning Republican senators they would be "foolish" to try and stop him. Any vote to disapprove the tariffs would likely face a presidential veto. The 5% tariffs on all Mexican goods, rising to 25% over time, are intended to force Mexico to stop the Central American migrants from seeking entry into the U.S. (New York Times)

  • Trump's tariffs on China, Mexico, Europe and other governments would nullify the gains from his $1.5 trillion tax cut for low- and middle-income earners, according to two new analyses. (New York Times)

4/ Republican senators warned Trump that they were prepared to block his effort to impose tariffs on Mexican imports. Senators told the White House and Justice Department there could be a disapproval vote if Trump moves forward and they may have enough support to override a veto. After a closed-door meeting with White House officials, Mitch McConnell told reporters that "there is not much support in my conference for tariffs, that's for sure." Republican senators are worried that the tariffs on all imported goods from Mexico will impact the economy and their home states. (Washington Post / New York Times / Politico)

  • Earlier in the day: Congressional Republicans are discussing whether or not they may have to vote to block Trump's latest proposed tariffs against Mexico. The vote would be the most dramatic defiance of Trump by the GOP since he took office, and could also block millions of dollars in funding for Trump's border wall, since Trump's plan to impose tariffs on Mexico relies on his national emergency declaration. Congress has the right to override the national emergency determination by passing a resolution of disapproval. (Washington Post)

5/ The owners of the former Trump Panama hotel accused the Trump Organization of evading taxes and creating a "false light" around one of the hotel's finances. The accusations, made in a legal filing in Manhattan federal court, claimed that Trump's family cheated a foreign government and that the Trump Organization "made fraudulent and false claims to the Panamanian tax authorities" in order to "cover up its unlawful activities." The Trump Organization called the claims "completely false." (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News)


Notables.

  1. The House passed the $19.1 billion disaster aid package after Republicans blocked the bill on three separate occasions. The vote was 354-58, sending the measure to Trump's desk, where he is expected to sign it. Once the bill is signed into law, funding will be released to communities recovering from hurricanes, wildfires, tornadoes, floods, and other recent disasters. (Politico)

  2. Dozens of migrant children spent up to 39 hours in a van while waiting to be reunited with their parents. What was supposed to be a 30-minute ride to reunite with their parents at an ICE facility in Texas in July, turned into a two-night ordeal in the back of a van for the children, all of whom are between 5 and 12 years old. Most spent at least 23 hours in the vans. Emails between employees of the nonprofit government contractor responsible for transporting the children reveal frustrations with the lack of preparation by ICE and senior leadership at the Department of Health and Human Services. (NBC News)

  3. The Trump campaign spends $37,500 a month for office space in Trump Tower that "four or five" campaign staffers work at. The cost per-square-foot is nearly triple what the Republican National Committee pays at a newly opened office in northern Virginia it shares with the campaign. (HuffPost)

  4. Paul Manafort will be transferred to the Rikers Island and most likely be held in isolation while facing state fraud charges. Manafort is serving a seven-and-a-half-year federal prison sentence after being convicted of bank fraud, tax and conspiracy last year. (New York Times / Fox News)

  5. The Trump administration twice authorized U.S. companies to share sensitive nuclear power information with Saudi Arabia after the assassination of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi by the Saudi government. In all, the Department of Energy has approved the transfer of nuclear information from U.S. companies to Saudi Arabia seven times under Trump. (Reuters / The Guardian / Axios)

  6. The Trump administration banned U.S. cruise ships from visiting Cuba as part of an effort to roll back the Obama-era efforts to restore relations between the United States and Cuba. (Associated Press)

  7. The EPA blamed the media for the public's concerns about climate change. Andrew Wheeler argued that the press is doing a "disservice to the public" and needs to help "fix" the "perception" that the environment is getting worse. (Talking Points Memo)

Day 865: Presidential obstruction and other crimes.

1/ Before even landing in England for his first official state visit to the U.K., Trump tweeted that the mayor of London was a "stone cold loser" for being "foolishly 'nasty'" to him. Sadiq Khan wrote an op-ed prior to the visit, calling Trump "one of the most egregious examples of a growing global threat" and suggested that the state visit be rescinded because Trump's views are "incompatible with British values." After landing, Trump met with Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace and later tweeted that the trip was "going really well." (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / Politico / NBC News / The Guardian)

  • Ahead of his three-day state visit, Trump suggested that the U.K. should "walk away" from Brexit talks if the European Union does not give it what it wants. Trump criticized the $50 billion bill the U.K. must pay as part of the Brexit deal, saying he "wouldn't pay" it because "it's a tremendous number." Trump later called on the U.K. to throw off the "shackles" of EU and strike a free-trade deal with the U.S. (Vox / CNN / Bloomberg)

2/ Trump called for a boycott of AT&T in order to force "big changes" at CNN, which is owned by the telecommunications giant. Trump tweeted for AT&T "do something" about CNN, because the network "is the primary source of news available from the U.S." in the U.K. and – he claims – its coverage of his administration is "unfair." (Axios / CNBC / Politico / Washington Post)

3/ The House Judiciary Committee announced a "series of hearings" related to Robert Mueller's report, "Presidential Obstruction and Other Crimes." The first hearing is scheduled for June 10th and will focus on Trump's "most overt acts of obstruction" with John Dean, a key figure in the Watergate scandal, as one of the witnesses. Mueller – for now – is not scheduled to appear. (New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post / The Hill / CNBC / Politico)

  • Research study: Russian Twitter trolls attempted to fuel the anti-vaccination debate in the U.S. According to the study from George Washington University, "sophisticated" bots, mimicking previous Russian troll efforts, shared opinions from both sides of the anti-vaxxer debate. (CBS News)

4/ The Justice Department refused to turn over transcripts of recorded conversations between Michael Flynn and Russian officials, including those with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, despite a court order. The transcripts between Flynn and Kislyak were obtained from an FBI wiretap and are expected to show that in December 2016 they talked about sanctions that the Obama administration had just imposed on Russia. Prosecutors also failed to release unredacted portions of the Mueller report related to Flynn that the judge ordered to be made public. The Justice Department, however, did release transcripts of a voice mail from Trump's attorney John Dowd to Flynn's attorney, Rob Kelner, about Flynn's discussions with Mueller just before Flynn pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate in Mueller's investigation. (Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / Axios)

  • Jared Kushner doesn't know if he'd call the FBI if he received an email like the one before the Trump Tower meeting, which had the subject line: "Re: Russia - Clinton - private and confidential." (Axios / Washington Post)

5/ A witness in Mueller's investigation was charged with transporting child pornography last year. George Nader operated as a liaison between Trump's supporters, Middle East leaders, and Russians interested in making contact with the incoming administration in early 2017. Nader helped arrange the Seychelles meeting in January 2017 between Erik Prince and a Russian official close to Putin. Nader was arrested today at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. (Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 441: A cooperating witness in Robert Mueller's investigation may have information linking the United Arab Emirates to Russia. George Nader has received at least partial immunity for his cooperation. Nader's international connections helped him arrange several meetings that have drawn the attention of the special counsel, including a meeting in the Seychelles between Kirill Dmitriev, the manager of a state-run Russian investment fund, and a Trump adviser days before Trump took office. (New York Times)

  • 📌 Day 483: Mueller's team is examining a series of meetings that took place in the Seychelles, which have been characterized as an attempt by the U.S. to set up a backchannel with Russia. A Russian plane, owned by Andrei Skoch, a Russian billionaire and deputy in the Russian State Duma, the country's legislative body, flew into the Seychelles a day prior to the 2017 meeting. (NJ.com)

poll/ 41% of Americans feel Trump should be impeached and removed from office compared to 54% who are against impeachment. Trump's approval rating, meanwhile, stands at 43% with 52% disapproving of the President. (CNN)


Notables.

  1. The House Oversight and Reform Committee is moving to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt for refusing to comply with a subpoena for information about efforts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. Chairman Elijah Cummings said he would consider postponing the contempt votes if Barr and Ross turn over the requested documents by Thursday. (Politico)

  2. A new State Department policy requires visa applicants submit information about any social media accounts used in the past five years. Account information could provide the government with access to photos, locations, dates of birth, and other personal data commonly shared on social media. (New York Times)

  3. Trump's economic advisor will depart the White House "shortly." Kevin Hassett denied that his pending departure was not related to Trump's tariff threats on China and Mexico. Hassett, however, said that the chance of Trump hitting the 3% growth target this year is less certain due to the trade war and a ballooning budget deficit. He will leave at the end of this month. (Politico / CNBC / Bloomberg / Reuters)

  4. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao has "repeatedly used her connections and celebrity status in China to boost the profile" of her family's shipping company, Foremost Group, which benefits from industrial policies in China. Chao has no official affiliation or stake in her family's company, but she and her husband, Mitch McConnell, have received millions of dollars in gifts from her father, who ran the company until last year. (New York Times)

  5. The Trump administration considered imposing tariffs on imports from Australia last week, but decided against the move after opposition from military and State Department officials. Some of Trump's top advisers urged him to impose the tariffs in response to a surge of Australian aluminum coming into American markets over the last year. But DOD and State Department officials warned that the move would alienate a top ally. (New York Times)

  6. The Pentagon told the White House to stop politicizing the military after the Trump administration ordered the Navy to hide the USS John S. McCain during Trump's visit to Japan. The Navy confirmed that the White House made the request "to minimize the visibility of" the ship. (Associated Press / NBC News)

Day 862: A colossal blunder.

1/ Trump threatened to impose a 5% tariff on all Mexican goods unless the country stops all "illegal migrants coming through Mexico," linking his immigration policy to trade. The tariffs would begin on June 10th and "gradually increase" to 10% on July 1st, followed by an additional 5% each month for the next three months. Tariffs would remain at 25% "if the crisis persists." The National Foreign Trade Council called the move "a colossal blunder," as U.S. companies pay the import penalties and pass some costs along to consumers. The White House defended the legality of the move, saying Trump was acting under the powers granted to him by the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which gives the president broad power to take action to address any "unusual or extraordinary threat." (Washington Post / New York Times / The Guardian / Reuters)

2/ Republicans warned Trump that imposing tariffs on all Mexican imports could upend the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement and undermine the economy. Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley called the move "a misuse of presidential tariff authority and contrary to congressional intent," adding that implementing the tariffs would "seriously jeopardize passage" of the USMCA. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, meanwhile, blamed Congress for refusing to deal with problems at the border, saying if they "were stepping up and doing more the president wouldn't have to continue to look for ways to stop this problem on his own." (Politico / Washington Post)

  • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and business groups are considering suing the White House over Trump's new tariffs on Mexico. The tariff threat was reportedly "hurried out the door" in order to appease Trump, who did not consult business groups or federal agencies in advance. A 5% tariff on imported goods from Mexico would result in a potential tax increase on American businesses and consumers by about $17 billion. That would eclipse $86 billion if the tariffs reach Trump's cap of 25%. (CNBC / NBC News / U.S. Chamber of Commerce)

3/ Trump's Treasury secretary and top trade advisor both opposed the plan to impose tariffs on Mexico. Steve Mnuchin and Robert Lighthizer have stressed the importance of enacting USMCA, meant to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement, and argued that the tariffs could derail ratification of the deal in Congress. "Lighthizer is not happy," an unnamed administration official said. The tariff strategy was spearheaded by White House adviser Stephen Miller, an immigration hawk, after Trump was "riled up" by conservative radio commentary about the recent surge in border crossings. (Wall Street Journal / CNBC)

4/ The Department of Homeland Security's Inspector General found "dangerous overcrowding" and unsanitary conditions at a Border Patrol processing facility following an unannounced inspection. The IG found "standing room only conditions" at the El Paso Del Norte Processing Center with "approximately 750 and 900 detainees." The facility has a maximum capacity of 125 migrants. (CNN)

  • About half of the nearly 2,000 unaccompanied migrant children held in overcrowded Border Patrol facilities have been there beyond the legally allowed time limits. Federal law and court orders require that children in Border Patrol custody be transferred within 72 hours after being apprehended. Some unaccompanied children are spending more than a week in Border Patrol stations and processing centers and children 12 or younger have been in custody for an average of six days. (Washington Post)

5/ Trump is considering a proposal to enact restrictions on asylum claims that would deny Central American migrants from entering the U.S. The draft proposal would prevent migrants from seeking asylum if they lived in another country after leaving their home country and coming to the U.S., which would impact thousand of migrants who have been waiting on the other side of the border after traveling through Mexico. (Politico)

6/ Attorney General William Barr disagreed with Robert Mueller's "legal analysis," saying it "did not reflect the views" of the Justice Department, which is why he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein "applied what we thought was the right law" instead. In Barr's written testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, however, he wrote that "we accepted the Special Counsel's legal framework for purposes of our analysis and evaluated the evidence as presented by the Special Counsel in reaching our conclusion." Barr also said he was surprised that Mueller "did not reach a conclusion" as to whether Trump had obstructed justice, despite Mueller stating in his report and at yesterday's press conference that "charging the president with a crime was […] not an option we could consider," because Justice Department policy prohibits the indictment of a sitting president. Mueller also noted yesterday that the Constitution "requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing." Barr went on to claim that Mueller's report shows "no evidence of a conspiracy […and…] this whole idea that the Trump was in cahoots with the Russians is bogus." (CBS News / Talking Points Memo / New York Magazine)

  • A federal grand jury used in the Mueller investigation remains interested in Roger Stone after Andrew Miller, who worked for Stone in 2016, testified last week. (CNN)

7/ House Republicans blocked the $19.1 billion disaster aid package for a third time. The long-delayed bill, which has Trump's support, was blocked by Tennessee Rep. John Rose. Rose called the legislation "another act of irresponsible big government." (Washington Post)

8/ North Korea executed its former top nuclear envoy to the U.S. and four other foreign ministry officials by firing squad after negotiations stalled between Kim Jong Un and Trump. The February summit collapsed after Trump called off the talks. Kim Hyok Chol, who led the working-level negotiations, was executed in March along with four other officials. (Reuters / Bloomberg / NBC News)

Day 861: Essentially.

1/ Trump tweeted that Russia helped "me to get elected" – his first acknowledgement that Russia worked to get him elected in 2016. Trump later retracted the statement, telling reporters that, "No, Russia did not help me get elected. […] I got me elected." Trump has previously denied that Russia interfered in the election, rejecting the conclusions by American intelligence agencies and federal prosecutors that Russia worked to help him defeat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election campaign. (New York Times / Washington Post / Associated Press / The Guardian / CNN)

  • 📌 Day 819: The Trump campaign "expected it would benefit" from information released by Russia, but "the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities." The report continues: "The investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome." Putin's "preference was for candidate Trump to win."

2/ Trump attacked Robert Mueller, characterizing him as "totally conflicted" and "true never-Trumper," suggesting that if the former special counsel had any evidence, he would have brought charges. Trump insisted that Mueller's comments yesterday "essentially" said "'You're innocent.' There was no crime, there was no charge because he had no information." Trump also referred to a "business dispute" with Mueller, but didn't elaborate. Bill O'Reilly, however, said Trump called him last night to complain that "Mueller didn't like him because he turned him down to be the head of the FBI after he fired Comey" and that Trump once refused to refund his country club membership deposit. "Mueller wanted $15,000 back and Trump said no," O'Reilly said. Mueller denied the incident. Trump went on to baselessly claim that Mueller "loves Comey," and "whether it's love or a deep like, he was conflicted." (ABC News / NBC News / Mediate)

  • 📌 Day 860: Robert Mueller declined to clear Trump of obstruction of justice and suggested that only Congress can "formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing" in his first public remarks about his two-year-long investigation of Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election. The special counsel noted that "charging the president with a crime was […] not an option we could consider," because Justice Department policy prohibits the indictment of a sitting president. Mueller emphasized that if his office "had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so." Mueller concluded his remarks by reiterating his report's conclusion that "There were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election. And that allegation deserves the attention of every American." (Washington Post / New York Times / ABC News / Associated Press / CNN / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / NPR)

3/ Attorney General William Barr thinks Mueller should have reached a decision on whether Trump obstructed justice, despite Justice Department guidelines saying a sitting president cannot be indicted. Barr suggested that Mueller "could've reached a decision as to whether there was criminal activity." Mueller, however, said that because "It would be unfair to potentially accuse somebody of a crime when there can be no court resolution of the actual charge," it was "not an option we could consider." (The Hill)

  • Key U.S. intelligence partners, including the United Kingdom and Australia, are concerned with Barr's politically-charged Justice Department review of how the Russia investigation began. Trump gave Barr the authority to declassify and study the pre-election Obama-era intelligence related to the investigation. Partners are concerned that Barr could potentially reveal intelligence shared with the U.S. and, in the process, damage their other relationships with foreign partners. (CNN)

4/ At least 49 Democrats and one Republican support starting an impeachment inquiry against Trump. Democratic leaders also say Mueller's remarks yesterday reiterate the importance of having him testify before Congress. Mueller has indicated that he is reluctant to testify and that he wouldn't say anything beyond what his office wrote in report, calling his report "my testimony." (New York Times / NBC News)

5/ The Trump administration deliberately concealed evidence about the decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. The origins of the plan were discovered on hard drives in Thomas Hofeller's home, who died last summer. The files show that Hofeller concluded that adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census "would clearly be a disadvantage to the Democrats" and "advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites" in redistricting. He pushed the idea to the Trump administration in 2017, which then intentionally obscured Hofeller's role in court proceedings. The government has maintained that adding the question was intended to improve enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. The Supreme Court will decide the case by the term's end next month on whether the citizenship question can be added to the 2020 Census. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / Reuters)


Notables.

  1. The White House wanted the USS John S. McCain "out of sight" during Trump's visit to Japan. A Navy official confirmed that someone in the White House asked to move the destroyer while Trump was in the area. A tarp was also hung over McCain's name, and sailors were given the day off. A spokesperson for the Pentagon said Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan didn't know about the White House's request. (Wall Street Journal / NBC News / The Hill / Washington Post / New York Times)

  2. Trump said whoever directed the Navy to obscure the warship USS John S. McCain was "well-meaning," adding that he didn't know about and "was not involved" in the effort to the hide the Navy destroyer. "I would not have done that." (Washington Post / New York Times / Associated Press)

  3. Several service members aboard the USS Wasp wore "Make Aircrew Great Again" patches. The Navy is reviewing whether the Trump-themed patches violated Navy rules. (CNN)

  4. A federal judge rejected the Trump administration's request to begin construction on a border wall with Mexico while it appeals a ruling that found funding for the wall was not authorized by Congress. U.S. District Court Judge Haywood Gilliam said the government was unlikely to prevail on the merits of its appeal, failing to justify a stay of a preliminary injunction issued last week. (Reuters)

  5. Federal prosecutors subpoenaed Mar-a-Lago for records related to Republican Party donor Li "Cindy" Yang and several of her associates and companies. The former owner of a Florida spa is involved in a prostitution investigation and allegedly sold access to Trump and his associates at Mar-a-Lago events. (Miami Herald / Vanity Fair)

  6. China accused the U.S. of engaging in "economic terrorism" and said the ongoing trade war has "brought huge damage to the economy of other countries and the US itself." Yesterday, Chinese state media issued a similar warning to Washington: "Don't say we didn't warn you." The statements come as China's top economic planning agency said it would be willing to reduce exports of rare earth minerals to the U.S., which are an important part of high-tech manufacturing. (CNN)

  7. The U.S. has slipped into third place when it comes to the most competitive economies. While the U.S. is still on top when it comes to economic performance, the boost in confidence from Trump's tax cuts has faded while higher fuel prices and weaker high-tech exports have reduced competitiveness. (CNBC)

  8. Trump might meet with two pro-Brexit politicians when he visits the U.K. next week. Trump said he considers Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage to be "very good guys" and "very interesting people." (Politico / Bloomberg)

  9. The Department of Energy referred to fossil fuel as "molecules of U.S. freedom" in a press release touting exports of natural gas. (ABC News)

Day 860: Not an option.

1/ Robert Mueller declined to clear Trump of obstruction of justice and suggested that only Congress can "formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing" in his first public remarks about his two-year-long investigation of Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election. The special counsel noted that "charging the president with a crime was […] not an option we could consider," because Justice Department policy prohibits the indictment of a sitting president. Mueller emphasized that if his office "had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so." Mueller concluded his remarks by reiterating his report's conclusion that "There were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election. And that allegation deserves the attention of every American." (Washington Post / New York Times / ABC News / Associated Press / CNN / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / NPR)

  • Read the transcript of Mueller's statement. (NPR / Politico)

  • What the Mueller report actually said: "The Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion," Mueller wrote. This help "favored presidential candidate Donald J. Trump and disparaged presidential candidate Hillary Clinton." The Trump campaign "expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts," and it "welcomed" this help. Today, Mueller said "We chose those words carefully, and the work speaks for itself." (The Atlantic)

  • 📌 Day 819: Attorney General William Barr repeatedly insisted that Robert Mueller "found no evidence" that the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and that Russian efforts to interfere "did not have the cooperation of President Trump or the Trump campaign." Barr also claimed Mueller's report did not find "collusion" between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. Further, Barr said that even if the Trump campaign had colluded with WikiLeaks, that was not a crime. Mueller identified "numerous" Trump campaign-Russia contacts, but the report says there was "insufficient evidence" to establish a criminal conspiracy between Trump or his campaign aides and their contacts with Russians. The report outlines how Trump was elected with Russia's help and when a federal inquiry was started to investigate the effort, Trump took multiple steps to stop or undermine it. Barr said Mueller examined 10 "episodes" where Trump may have obstructed justice, but that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein "disagreed with some of the special counsel's legal theories and felt that some of the episodes did not amount to obstruction." According to Barr, Trump acted out of "noncorrupt motives" because he was frustrated by Mueller's investigation, as well as media coverage that he felt was hurting his administration. (Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / NBC News / CNN / The Guardian / Bloomberg)

  • 📌 Day 837: More than 370 former federal prosecutors asserted that Trump would have been charged with obstruction of justice if he was not president. Robert Mueller declined to exonerate Trump in his report, citing a Justice Department legal opinion that a sitting president cannot be indicted. The former career government employees who worked in Republican and Democratic administrations signed on to a statement saying, "Each of us believes that the conduct of President Trump described in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report would, in the case of any other person not covered by the Office of Legal Counsel policy against indicting a sitting President, result in multiple felony charges for obstruction of justice." (Washington Post)

2/ Trump responded to Mueller's statement: "The case is closed!" Trump's tweet that "nothing changes from the Mueller Report" came minutes after Mueller reiterated his position that "if we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so." Sarah Huckabee Sanders added that despite longstanding Justice Department policy barring the prosecution of a sitting president for a federal crime, Mueller's "report was clear — there was no collusion, no conspiracy — and the Department of Justice confirmed there was no obstruction." She added that the administration was "prepared" for an impeachment fight. (CNBC)

3/ At least 10 Democratic presidential candidates have now endorsed impeachment proceedings against Trump following Mueller's news conference. Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Seth Moulton, Eric Swalwell, Julián Castro, Beto O’Rourke, and Wayne Messam all support impeachment proceedings. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, however, held firm on her belief that impeaching Trump isn't a worthwhile effort without uncovering new evidence "to make such a compelling case, such an ironclad case, that even the Republican Senate — which at the time seems to be not an objective jury — will be convinced of the path that we have to take as a country." (Politico / Washington Post / New York Times)

  • Mueller's message to Pelosi is that it is the constitutional duty of Congress to begin an investigation and consider impeaching Trump. Mueller's statement today underscored the special counsel's office "was bound" by department policy not to indict the president—or even accuse him. (Slate)

4/ Mueller resigned from the Department of Justice to "return to private life" and is "formally closing the special counsel's office" now that the "investigation is complete." He said he hoped this would be his last public comment on the subject and suggested that if he were compelled to testify before Congress, he would not speak "beyond what is already public" in his 448-page report because "the report is my testimony." Mueller added: "I am making that decision myself. Nobody has told me whether I can or should testify or speak further about this matter." (Politico / Daily Beast / NPR / NBC News / CNBC)

  • Andrew Miller will testify Friday before Mueller's grand jury. The former aide to Roger Stone agreed to testify after fighting a subpoena for 10 months. He faced jail time for contempt if he continued to refuse to testify. (Washington Post / ABC News)

  • The Justice Department agreed to make Mueller investigation-related court activity public. While unsealing the records will not reveal the details of the filings, but instead provide an overview of how, when and for what Mueller was going to the federal court to gather evidence. (CNN)


Notables.

  1. Mitch McConnell would try to fill an opening on the Supreme Court if there were a vacancy next year. In contrast, McConnell refused to confirm Obama's nominee, Merrick Garland, after the death of Antonin Scalia during the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election. McConnell claimed that voters had a right to decide whether a Democrat or Republican should fill the open seat on the Court. When asked what his position would be when it came to filling a potentially vacant seat next year, however, McConnell smiled and said: "Oh, we'd fill it." (Washington Post / CNN / New York Times / Politico / NPR / NBC News)

  2. U.S. intelligence said Russia is secretly conducting low-yield nuclear tests to upgrade its nuclear arsenal and has failed to observe its commitments to the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. (Wall Street Journal)

  3. The Pentagon hasn't held an on-camera press briefing with any department spokesperson in a year. "We're talking about some sort of strike on another country and nobody knows why," said one Pentagon reporter. A spokesperson for the Defense Department pushed back against the claim, saying, "It depends what your definition of a briefing is." (Politico)

  4. The director of the HHS refugee office will leave the Trump administration next week. Scott Lloyd ran the refugee office for most of 2017 and 2018 as HHS was taking custody of thousands of migrant children separated from their families. (Politico)

  5. The vast majority of money from Trump's bailout for farmers will likely to go to the largest farms – not the small mom-and-pop farms. Farms with annual revenues of several million dollars are likely to see the most bailout money, which are already major beneficiaries of federal crop support programs. Findings from the Environmental Working Group suggest that "the biggest payments will go to the wealthiest farmers, who need them the least." (Los Angeles Times)

  6. Trump's tax cuts have had "a relatively small (if any) first-year effect on the economy" and they are failing to pay for themselves, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service. Despite claims that the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act would add "rocket fuel" to the U.S. economy, the CRS found the law was mostly beneficial to investors. Wages are only growing at 2 percent, companies are seeing a bigger increase in earnings than employees, and "ordinary workers had very little growth in wage rates." (The Independent / Washington Post / Congressional Research Service)

Day 859: "False narrative."

1/ Robert Mueller reportedly drafted a three-count obstruction of justice indictment against Trump before deciding to shelve it. In his new book, Siege: Trump Under Fire, Michael Wolff writes that his findings on the Mueller investigation are "based on internal documents given to me by sources close to the Office of the Special Counsel." According to Wolff, the first count charged Trump with influencing, obstructing or impeding a pending proceeding before a department or agency of the U.S. The second count charged Trump with tampering with a witness, victim or informant, and the third count charged Trump with retaliating against a witness, victim or informant. While the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel says a sitting president cannot be indicted, Wolff obtained a draft memorandum by Mueller's team opposing an expected motion to dismiss the indictment. The special counsel's office denied the claim, saying "The documents that you've described do not exist." (The Guardian / NBC News)

  • Michael Flynn's case could prompt the release of some redacted portions of the Mueller report this week. Judge Emmet Sullivan set a Friday deadline for the Justice Department to make unredacted parts of the report that pertain to Flynn public, as well as transcripts of Flynn's calls with former Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, and of a voicemail during which someone connected to Trump referenced Flynn's cooperation. (CNN)

2/ A congressional Republican accused Attorney General Bill Barr of intentionally misrepresenting the Mueller report to further Trump's "false narrative" about the investigation. In a 25-post tweetstorm, Rep. Justin Amash alleged that Barr's March 24th letter summarizing Mueller's principal conclusions "selectively quotes and summarizes points in Mueller's report in misleading ways" and as a result "the public and Congress were misled." (Politico / Washington Post / Axios)

  • 📌 Day 851: Michigan Rep. Justin Amash became the first Republican lawmaker to publicly conclude that Trump has committed "impeachable conduct" as president, and that Trump's conduct meets the "threshold for impeachment." In a Twitter thread, Amash said he believes "few members of Congress even read" Mueller's final report, and said the report establishes "multiple examples" of Trump committing obstruction of justice. Amash also accused Attorney General William Barr of intentionally misleading the public. "Contrary to Barr's portrayal," Amash wrote, "Mueller's report reveals that President Trump engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for impeachment." (CNN / Washington Post)

  • Republican senators vowed to quash impeachment against Trump if the House passes articles. Mitch McConnell is required to act on articles of impeachment, but has broad authority to set the parameters of a trial. (The Hill)

3/ The top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee accused Trump of giving Barr "the right to selectively declassify certain information for purposes of political gain." Sen. Mark Warner asked that the leaders of the nation's spy agencies contact lawmakers if Barr's investigation threatens their work. Last week, Trump gave Barr the power to release classified information related the origins of the FBI's Russia investigation. Trump directed the intelligence community to "quickly and fully cooperate." (Associated Press / Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 855: Trump gave Attorney General William Barr "full and complete authority" to unilaterally declassify government secrets and ordered U.S. intelligence agencies to cooperate with Barr's audit of the Russia investigation. Trump wants Barr to investigate the origins of the Russia investigation and the tactics used by investigators. Trump issued the order just hours after accusing the people who led the investigation of committing treason. Barr has personally met with the heads of U.S. intelligence agencies to discuss his review of the probe. Barr has also said that he believes the Trump campaign was "spied" on. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / CNN)

4/ Trump denied that North Korea fired any ballistic missiles or violated the United Nations Security Council resolutions, siding with Kim Jong Un over his national security adviser and Japan's prime minister, Shinzo Abe. Trump said that while "North Korea fired off some small weapons, which disturbed some of my people," he was not "personally" bothered by the missile tests this month. "My people think it could have been a violation," Trump said. "I view it differently." Trump's comments contradicted John Bolton, who had said there was "no doubt" that North Korea had violated the Security Council resolutions by firing short-range ballistic missiles. In response, North Korea called Bolton a "war monger," a "war maniac," and a "human defect," who has a "different mental structure from ordinary people." Trump praised Kim as a "very smart man." (Washington Post / New York Times / Associated Press / NBC News)

  • 📌 Day 841: North Korea's three new missiles have "Russian technology fingerprints all over" them, military experts said. The missiles reportedly bear a resemblance to the Russian-designed Iskander – a short-range, nuclear-capable ballistic missile that has been in the Russian arsenal for more than a decade. (Associated Press)

  • Trump called Joe Biden a "fool of low I.Q." for calling Kim a dictator and a tyrant. "Kim Jong Un made a statement that Joe Biden is a low IQ individual," Trump said. "He probably is based on his record. I think I agree with him on that." Trump and Kim "agree in their assessment" of Biden, Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. (ABC News / The Hill / New York Times)

5/ Trump claimed a national security "emergency" in order to authorize a multibillion-dollar sale of arms to Saudi Arabia, which bypassed congressional review. The decision to sell over $8 billion worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Jordan drew condemnation from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, who had been blocking the sales of offensive military equipment to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for months. Iran views Saudi Arabia as its main rival. Trump added: "I don't think Iran wants to fight, and I certainly don't think they want to fight with us." (NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times / Reuters)

  • Trump denied that the U.S. is "looking for regime change" in Iran, saying "we're looking for no nuclear weapons." Last Friday, Trump ordered "a small number of troops" — about 1,500 — as well as fighter jets to the region. (Washington Post)

  • Iran said it sees no prospect for negotiations with the U.S. a day after Trump said it would be "very smart" of Iran to make a deal regarding its nuclear program. (Reuters)

  • Mike Pence told a group of West Point graduates that it is a "virtual certainty" that they will see combat. "You will lead soldiers in combat," Pence told the 980 graduating cadets. "It will happen. Some of you may even be called upon to serve in this hemisphere." (CBS News)

6/ A federal judge temporarily blocked Trump from diverting $1 billion in Defense Department funds to build parts of his U.S.-Mexico border wall. Trump made an emergency declaration earlier this year to circumvent Congress and reallocate funding from the Defense Department to begin work on the wall. In a 56-page ruling, Judge Haywood Gilliam said Trump couldn't use the funds without congressional approval. The ruling, however, does not prevent the Trump administration from using funds from other sources to build walls or fencing. (The Hill / NPR / CNN)

  • A group that raised more than $20 million in donations on GoFundMe claimed it started building its own border wall on private property. The half-mile stretch of private wall will connect two 21-mile sections of existing fencing. (CNN)

Notables.

  1. House Republicans blocked an attempt to pass a bipartisan disaster aid package for a second time. The move delays $19 billion in emergency relief for states hit by hurricanes, wildfires and flooding. Republicans complained that the bill ignores Trump's request for funding for operations along the U.S.-Mexico border. (Politico / Washington Post / Reuters)

  2. Trump's lawyers reached an agreement with the House Intelligence and Financial Services committees to not enforce the subpoenas to Deutsche Bank and Capital One for Trump's financial records for now. In April, Trump sued Deutsche Bank and Capital One to prevent them from supplying information to congressional investigators. According to the filing, "the parties have reached an agreement regarding compliance with and enforcement of the subpoenas during the pendency of Plaintiffs' appeal." (USA Today / CNN / Bloomberg)

  3. A $1 million donation to Trump's inaugural committee is being scrutinized by federal prosecutors in New York who are investigating the committee's finances. Real estate mogul Franklin Haney made the donation seeking regulatory approval and financial support from the government for his bid to acquire the Bellefonte Nuclear Power Plant in Alabama. (Associated Press)

  4. Trump's transportation secretary still owns shares in a company more than a year after promising to divest them. Elaine Chao owns nearly $400,000 of stock in Vulcan Materials Co., a major supplier of materials for road pavement and other construction projects. Chao promised to sell her shares for a cash payout more than a year ago. (Wall Street Journal / The Hill)

  5. A Trump HUD official said she may have broken a federal law meant to prevent officials from politicizing their government positions, but even if she did, "I honestly don't care anymore." (HuffPost)

Day 855: Full and complete authority.

1/ Trump gave Attorney General William Barr "full and complete authority" to unilaterally declassify government secrets and ordered U.S. intelligence agencies to cooperate with Barr's audit of the Russia investigation. Trump wants Barr to investigate the origins of the Russia investigation and the tactics used by investigators. Trump issued the order just hours after accusing the people who led the investigation of committing treason. Barr has personally met with the heads of U.S. intelligence agencies to discuss his review of the probe. Barr has also said that he believes the Trump campaign was "spied" on. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / CNN)

2/ The Trump administration is preparing to bypass Congress to sell billions of dollars worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The munitions sales are currently on hold by Congress, but Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other political appointees in the White House are urging Trump to invoke an emergency provision that would allow him to prevent Congress from blocking the $7 billion sale of precision-guided missiles and combat aircraft to the Saudis and Emiratis. (New York Times / Washington Post / The Independent)

3/ Trump has personally and repeatedly urged the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to award a border wall contract to a specific construction firm in North Dakota run by a GOP donor and frequent Fox News guest. Trump has pushed for Fisher Industries to receive the multi-billion-dollar border wall contract on phone calls, at White House meetings, and during conversations on Air Force One, which has alarmed military commanders and DHS officials. The company's CEO, Tommy Fisher, is a frequent guest on conservative talk shows and radio stations, and has courted Washington officials directly by arranging meetings at congressional offices and inviting officials to review border wall prototypes. (Washington Post)

4/ The Trump administration formally proposed revisions to Obama-era healthcare and civil rights protections for transgender people. The proposal would eliminate "gender identity" as one of the protected categories in healthcare decisions and push government policy toward only recognizing characteristics of sex at birth as the basis. The 2016 rule prevented discrimination in healthcare decisions on the basis of gender identity in "any health program or activity" that receives federal funding. (New York Times)

5/ The bipartisan $19.1 billion disaster relief package is being held up by one House Republican who voted to block the legislation. Rep. Chip Roy of Texas said he was objecting to the bill, which has Trump's support, because it would add to the national debt and because it leaves out an additional $4.4 billion for federal operations along the southern border. (Washington Post)


Notables.

  1. The U.S. will send 1,500 additional troops and a dozen fighter jets to the Middle East in the coming weeks. Trump publicly blamed Iran and its proxies for recent attacks on oil tankers near the UAE and a rocket attack in Iraq. (Associated Press)

  2. Trump tweeted a doctored video of Nancy Pelosi which was deliberately edited to make her appear as if she was drunk and slurring her words. "PELOSI STAMMERS THROUGH NEWS CONFERENCE," Trump tweeted alongside the video. (NBC News / CBS News / Washington Post / The Guardian)

  3. Trump called on his aides one-by-one during a press conference and asked them to confirm that he "couldn't have been more calm" during an infrastructure meeting with Democrats on Wednesday. "Kellyanne, what was my temperament yesterday?” Trump asked Conway. "Very calm, no temper tantrum," Conway responded. "I told the facts for this crowd, they published that you were fuming, termper tantrum, rage. That was just a lie. You were very calm." Trump then went down the line and asked every aid in the room to attest to his temperament during the meeting. (ABC News)

  4. Republican candidates and campaign committees have spent more than $4 million at Trump hotels, golf courses, and vineyards since Trump took office. More than three dozen members of Congress have held fundraisers or stayed the night at Trump properties. More than a quarter of the money spent has come from Trump's own campaign, which has funneled $1.5 million into his businesses over the same period of time. The Republican National Committee has spent more than $1.1 million at Trump's properties in both Washington and Florida. (The Hill)

  5. The attorney for accused war criminal Eddie Gallagher also works for the Trump Organization. Trump has indicated that he plans to pardon Gallagher, who is accused of killing civilians in Iraq and premeditated murder for the stabbing death of an injured person in Iraq. (CNN)

Day 854: Intentional.

1/ The Senate passed a $19.1 billion bipartisan disaster relief spending bill that does not include the $4.5 billion in funding for Trump's border wall. After months of negotiation, the bill passed with a vote of 85-8 just a few hours after both sides reached an agreement. The bill provides roughly $900 million for Puerto Rico, and includes a provision that would require the Trump administration to release another $9 billion in aid, which had previously been withheld from the U.S. territory. The House will vote on the bill when it returns from recess and the bill will be sent to Trump's desk. "I totally support it," Trump said. (CNN / BuzzFeed News / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / NBC News)

  • A federal district judge heard arguments in a lawsuit brought by the House of Representatives against Trump's national emergency declaration. The suit argues that Trump's national emergency declaration to fund the construction of his border wall is unconstitutional and violates the separation of power between the branches of government. During the nearly three-hour hearing Judge Trevor McFadden appeared skeptical about involving the judiciary in a dispute between the administration and Democrats in the House. (CNN)

2/ Trump announced a $16 billion aid package for farmers hurt by his ongoing trade war with China. The bailout is the second deal aimed at limiting the losses of American farmers as a result of China's retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods. Farmers will be able to apply for direct payments for crops that are impacted by the tariffs. The USDA will also buy surplus products like milk and meat to distribute to food banks around the U.S. and provide $14.5 billion in direct payments based on the estimated impact to each country. It will also spend $1.4 billion to purchase goods and another $100 million to develop other markets for U.S. goods. (Bloomberg / ABC News)

  • China says trade talks with the U.S. won't continue until the U.S. addresses its "wrong actions." China's Commerce Ministry didn't mention any specific U.S. actions, but Ministry of Commerce spokesperson Gao Feng said that "if the U.S. would like to keep on negotiating it should, with sincerity, adjust its wrong actions. Only then can talks continue." (CNBC)

3/ A ten-year-old girl died in September 2018 while in the care of the Office of Refugee Resettlement. She was the first of six migrant children that have died while detained by U.S. authorities. Rep. Joaquin Castro accused the Trump administration of concealing the girl's death from the public. "I have not seen any indication that the Trump administration disclosed the death of this young girl to the public or even to Congress," Castro said. "And if that's the case, they covered up her death for eight months, even though we were actively asking the question about whether any child had died or been seriously injured." (CBS News)

  • Republicans on a House committee voted to strike Rep. Lauren Underwood's comments from the record after she suggested the deaths of migrant children at the U.S.-Mexico border were intentional. "With five kids that have died," Underwood said, "the evidence is really clear that this is intentional, it’s a policy choice being made on purpose by this administration and it’s cruel and inhumane." (NBC News / The Hill)

4/ The Chairman and CEO of Federal Savings Bank was indicted for trying to give $16 million in home loans to Paul Manafort in exchange for a top position in the Trump administration. Stephen Calk allegedly approved millions of dollars in high-risk loans in the hopes that he would be appointed as Secretary of the Army or another high-level position of similar stature in Trump's incoming cabinet. Manafort needed the loans to avoid foreclosure and, while the loans were pending, Calk gave him a list of positions he wanted. The list included two top spots at the U.S. Treasury, followed by Secretary of Commerce, Secretary of Defense, as well as 19 high-level ambassadorships. (NBC News / New York Times)

5/ The Department of Justice indicted WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange on 17 additional counts of violating the Espionage Act by publishing classified diplomatic cables in 2010 that revealed war crimes committed by U.S. and NATO forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. Assange faces up to 175 years in prison if he is convicted of all the charges. The Espionage Act is typically reserved for government officials or employees who leak classified information, and has never been used to charge someone who merely publishes the information. (The Guardian / New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post / Politico)


Notables.

  1. The Department of Defense is considering a request from the U.S. military to deploy an additional 5,000 troops to the Middle East as the White House continues to threaten Iran. It is unclear whether any specific request will eventually be presented to the White House, and the U.S. has not publicly shown any evidence or specific intelligence about what the supposed threat from Iran actually is. (Reuters)

  2. The FBI has seen a significant rise in white supremacist domestic terrorism in recent months. No specific numbers were provided, but an FBI official said the cases generally include suspects involved in violence related to anti-government views, racial or religious bias, environmental extremism and abortion-related views. (CNN)

  3. Distorted videos of Nancy Pelosi that are altered to make her sound drunk are circulating on social media. The video of Pelosi’s onstage speech Wednesday, when she said Trump’s refusal to cooperate with congressional investigations was tantamount to a “cover-up;" was edited to make her voice sound garbled and warped. (Washington Post)

  4. A federal appeals court in Washington said it will quickly review Trump’s request to block a congressional subpoena seeking financial records from his accounting firm. The brief ruling means the firm will not give Trump's business records to the House while the case is still pending. (Washington Post)

  5. Wells Fargo and TD Bank have already turned over documents to Congress related to their financial dealings with Trump. Wells Fargo gave the House Financial Services Committee a few thousand documents, and TD Bank turned over a handful of documents. No other information about the documents or what the committee has learned from them has been released. (NBC News)

Day 853: Cover-up.

1/ Nancy Pelosi said the Democratic leadership believes that Trump is "engaged in a cover-up" after meeting with congressional committee leaders. "We believe that the president of the United States is engaged in a cover-up," Pelosi told reporters. "A cover-up. And that was the nature of the meeting." Trump responded to Pelosi's comments by storming out of an infrastructure meeting with senior Democrats after only three minutes, before heading to the Rose Garden to host a surprise press conference. "I don't do cover-ups," Trump said before declaring that he would refuse to work with Democrats until they stop investigating him. "I want to do infrastructure," he continued. "I want to do it more than you want to do it. I’d be really good at that - that’s what I do. But you know what? You can’t do it under these circumstances. So get these phony investigations over with." (New York Times / NBC News / Axios / Reuters / CNBC / ABC News)

  • Analysis: The various cover-ups of Donald 'I don’t do cover-ups' Trump. "I don’t do cover-ups," he said. "You people" — the media — "know that probably better than anybody." (Washington Post)

  • ‘I pray for the president,’ Pelosi says after Trump cuts short infrastructure meeting, blasts Democrats. "In an orchestrated – almost to an 'oh, poor baby' point of view – he came into the room and said that I said that he was engaged in a cover-up and he couldn't possibly engage in a conversation on infrastructure as long as we are investigating him," Pelosi said. (Boston Globe / The Hill)

  • Trump rails about impeachment, says Democrats are fishing. Trump claimed that his approval rating "would be at 65%" if there were no investigations. (NBC News)

2/ The House Intelligence Committee reached a last-minute deal with the Justice Department over the redacted material in the Mueller report and announced that it will not enforce the subpoena against Attorney General William Barr. The DOJ agreed to turn over the material and the underlying information in Mueller's report, but committee chairman Adam Schiff said the subpoena "will remain in effect and will be enforced should the Department fail to comply with the full document request." Schiff said he expects the DOJ to finish turning over the 12 categories of counterintelligence and foreign intelligence material from Mueller's report "by the end of next week." In a letter sent to Schiff on Tuesday, Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd warned that "the Department will not likely be able to continue to work with the Committee to accommodate its interest in these materials" if the committee takes "the precipitous and unnecessary action of recommending a contempt finding or other enforcement action against the attorney general." (Washington Post / New York Times)

3/ The IRS must honor congressional requests for Trump's tax returns unless Trump invokes executive privilege to protect them, according to a confidential draft legal memo written by IRS staffers. The memo undercuts Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin's argument that the White House doesn't have to comply with Congress' requests because they lack any "legitimate legislative purpose." Mnuchin said he came to that conclusion after consulting with attorneys from the Treasury Department, the IRS, and the Justice Department, but the memo says the Treasury Secretary does not have the authority to deny requests for taxpayer returns made by tax-writing committees in Congress. (Washington Post / New York Times)

  • New York lawmakers passed a pair of bills that would allow Congress to obtain Trump’s state tax returns. Tax officials will now be authorized to hand over Trump's state returns to any one of three congressional committees. (New York Times / CNN)

4/ Judge Edgardo Ramos ruled at a U.S. District Court hearing in New York that Congress has the legal authority to demand the Trump Organization's financial records from Deutsche Bank AG and Capital One Financial Corp. Lawyers for Trump, his three older children, and the Trump Organization argued that the subpoenas should be quashed. The ruling clears the way for the banks to comply with subpoenas issued to them last month by two congressional committees, and comes just two days after a different federal judge in Washington, D.C. said Trump’s accounting firm has to comply with a congressional subpoena for Trump's personal financial records. (Reuters / CNBC)

poll/ 70% of Americans say they have confidence in the condition of the U.S. economy and their own financial situation. 41% of those who said the economy was in good shape also credited Trump's policies as the reason why the economy is doing well, up from 32% at the beginning of 2018. 41% of Americans approve of the job Trump is doing as president. (ABC News)


Notables.

  1. Michael Cohen communicated more than 1,000 times over the course of eight months with the CEO of a U.S. money-management firm with ties to a Russian oligarch, according to a warrant filed on Aug. 7, 2017. The exchanges between Cohen and Andrew Intrater of Columbus Nova LLC began the day Trump was elected, and Mueller's team was investigating whether payments to Cohen from Columbus Nova were connected to a plan to give Michael Flynn a proposal to lift sanctions against Russia. No charges were filed related to that particular inquiry. (Bloomberg)

  2. Rex Tillerson met with members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee for more than six hours in a private, closed-door session, during which he talked about his time serving under Trump, the frictions between himself and Jared Kushner, and his attempts to tackle issues like Russian interference in the 2016 election. (Daily Beast)

  3. Trump’s golf trips have cost taxpayers at least $102 million in extra travel and security expenses. Trump's trips to Florida cost $81 million, his trips to New Jersey cost $17 million, his two days in Scotland last summer cost at least $3 million, and another $1 million went toward a trip to his resort in Los Angeles. (HuffPost / New York Magazine)

  4. Steve Mnuchin says the Harriet Tubman redesign of the $20 bill will no longer be unveiled in 2020. The unveiling had been scheduled to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. Mnuchin says the design process has been delayed, and no new imagery will be unveiled until 2028. (CNBC)

  5. Mick Mulvaney is looking to install one of his political allies as the new head of the White House Office of Legislative Affairs. Mulvaney has signaled that he wants someone who worked with him at the Office of Management and Budget to replace the outgoing current head, Shahira Knight. Having someone he trusts as the new head of the team would allow him to be directly involved with negotiating and passing critical pieces of legislation during the remainder of Trump's term. (CNBC)

  6. Senator Mike Lee of Utah says the U.S. census should include questions about criminal records in order to help policymakers get former convicts back into the workforce. Lee suggested the idea at a hearing about the Census’s impact on the economy. (Reuters)

  7. U.S. Customs and Border Protection only installed 1.7 miles of fencing with the $1.57 billion that Congress appropriated last year for Trump’s border wall with Mexico. The administration recently updated a federal judge on the status of its border wall efforts, and "based on that updated information," the court filing reads, "it appears that CBP has now constructed 1.7 miles of fencing with its fiscal year 2018 funding." (Bloomberg)

  8. Michael Avenatti was charged with extorting Nike and stealing $300,000 from his former client, Stormy Daniels. Federal prosecutors in New York charged him with fraud and aggravated identity theft involving Daniels and a book deal, and with attempting to extort more than $20 million from the sportswear giant, Nike. Avenatti has denied the allegations. (Southern District of New York / Associated Press / Reuters / CNN / CNBC)

Day 852: Demands.

1/ Former White House counsel Don McGahn failed to appear at hearing in front of the House Judiciary Committee, following Trump's instructions to ignore the congressional subpoena. "Our subpoenas are not optional," Committee chair Jerry Nadler said after McGahn failed to show up. Nadler also warned that "one way or another," the panel will hear from McGahn, even if that means holding McGahn in contempt of Congress for failing to appear. "This committee," he said, "will have no choice but to enforce the subpoena against him." (Associated Press)

2/ A federal judge ruled that Trump's accounting firm must turn over his financial records to Congress. Judge Amit Mehta ruled that the accounting firm, Mazars, must comply with the subpoena issued by the House Oversight Committee. Trump had sued to quash the subpoena, arguing that Congress had no legitimate legislative reason to request the documents, but Judge Mehta said that they do. "It is simply not fathomable," Mehta wrote, "that a Constitution that grants Congress the power to remove a President for reasons including criminal behavior would deny Congress the power to investigate him for unlawful conduct — past or present — even without formally opening an impeachment inquiry." Trump has vowed to appeal Mehta's ruling. (NPR / Washington Post / The Guardian / New York Times / CNN)

3/ Michael Cohen told lawmakers earlier this year that one of Trump's personal attorneys told him to lie to Congress about the Trump Tower Moscow deal and suggested he might be pardoned if he helped "shut down" the Russia investigation. Cohen claimed that Jay Sekulow asked him to tell Congress that the Trump Tower Moscow negotiations ended on Jan. 31, 2016 — nearly six months before they actually ended — according to transcripts from Cohen's two private interviews with lawmakers, which were released yesterday. Cohen also said Sekulow told him that Trump was considering pardons for Cohen and others who "shut down, you know, this investigation." (Politico / Washington Post)

4/ 'Fox & Friends' host Pete Hegseth has been privately lobbying Trump for months to convince him to pardon convicted and accused war criminals. Hegseth has repeatedly lobbied Trump since as early as January and pressed him in multiple private conversations to support pardons for, among others, accused war criminal and former Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher. Gallagher will stand trial on May 28 for allegedly shooting civilians, including a school-aged girl, and knifing a captured ISIS fighter to death while the fighter was receiving medical treatment in 2007 at a facility in Iraq. (Daily Beast / New York Times / USA Today)

poll/ 40% of rural Americans struggle with routine medical bills, food expenses, and housing costs. 49% say they could not afford to pay an unexpected $1,000 expense of any type. (NPR)


Notables.

  1. Kris Kobach has a list of 10 demands that he wants met if Trump asks him to be the next "immigration czar." Among Kobach's demands: 24-hour access to a government jet, an office in the West Wing, guaranteed weekends off, and an assurance that he will be appointed as the next Secretary of Homeland Security by November. He also wants to be the main television spokesperson for Trump's immigration policies, plus guarantees that all other cabinet secretaries would defer to him on immigration issues. (New York Times)

  2. Trump is expected to choose Ken Cuccinelli to coordinate the administration's immigration policy. The job’s duties and title are still being decided, but Cuccinelli, an immigration hard-liner, is expected to work through the Department of Homeland Security. (New York Times)

  3. Russian documents reveal desire to sow racial discord — and violence — in the U.S. The revelations come as U.S. intelligence agencies have warned of probable Russian meddling in the 2020 election. (NBC News)

  4. Several members of Nancy Pelosi’s leadership team pressed her to begin an impeachment inquiry against Trump. At least five members of Pelosi’s leadership team pressed her during a closed-door leadership meeting to allow the House Judiciary Committee to start an impeachment inquiry, all of whom Pelosi rebuffed. (Washington Post / Politico / NBC News)

  5. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos used personal emails for her government work in "limited" cases. An internal Education Department watchdog says DeVos sometimes uses personal email accounts for government business and does not always save the messages properly. (CNBC)

Day 851: "Threshold for impeachment."

1/ Deutsche Bank staff identified multiple suspicious transactions made in 2016 and 2017 by legal entities controlled by Trump and Jared Kushner. A group of anti-money-laundering specialists at Deutsche Bank recommended that the bank report the transactions to a federal financial-crimes watchdog. But executives at the bank, from which Trump has borrowed billions of dollars, rejected the advice of their staff and chose not to file the reports with the government. The nature of the transactions in question is still unclear, but at least some of them involved money flowing back and forth between overseas entities or individuals, something the bank employees flagged as suspicious. Deutsche Bank has denied the report that its executives ignored the recommendations of its own anti-money-laundering specialists. (New York Times / Reuters / Reuters)

2/ Trump instructed former White House counsel Don McGahn to defy a congressional subpoena and skip a House Judiciary Committee hearing scheduled for Tuesday. The committee subpoenaed McGahn to appear to answer questions about Trump's attempts to obstruct justice during the Russia investigation, but the White House presented McGahn with a 15-page legal opinion from the Justice Department that states, "Congress may not constitutionally compel the president’s senior advisers to testify about their official duties." The current White House counsel sent a letter to the committee explaining that Trump instructed McGahn not to appear due to the "constitutional immunity" outlined in the DOJ legal opinion, "and in order to protect the prerogatives of the office of the presidency." (New York Times / ABC News / Washington Post)

3/ Federal prosecutors in New York are examining tens of thousands of documents related to Trump's inauguration. Prosecutors are moving on to the next stage of the investigation, now that Trump's inaugural committee has finished handing over a cache of documents, records, and communications related to the financing, vendors, and donors for the inauguration. Authorities are investigating whether any of the record-setting $107 million in donations was misspent, was used to benefit particular individuals, or came from foreign donors in violation of campaign finance laws that prohibit foreign donations to U.S. campaigns. (CNN)

  • One of the biggest backers of Trump’s push to protect American steel is a Canadian billionaire. Barry Zekelman, whose business is mostly in the United States, funded his own advertising campaign to build public support for his efforts to protect makers of steel tubes in the United States. And Zekelman Industries made political donations in the United States — skirting or possibly violating a ban on contributions by foreigners — including $1.75 million last year to a group supporting Trump. (New York Times)

4/ Michigan Rep. Justin Amash became the first Republican lawmaker to publicly conclude that Trump has committed "impeachable conduct" as president, and that Trump's conduct meets the "threshold for impeachment." In a Twitter thread, Amash said he believes "few members of Congress even read" Mueller's final report, and said the report establishes "multiple examples" of Trump committing obstruction of justice. Amash also accused Attorney General William Barr of intentionally misleading the public. "Contrary to Barr's portrayal," Amash wrote, "Mueller's report reveals that President Trump engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for impeachment." (CNN / Washington Post)

  • Trump allies are mobilizing against Amash's impeachment revolt. Republicans are moving fast to squelch Justin Amash's rebellion against Trump before his conclusion that Trump "engaged in impeachable conduct" — the first by a GOP lawmaker — can gather momentum. (CNN)

  • Romney: GOP congressman's call for impeachment 'a courageous statement'. But he says he has not reached the same conclusion as Justin Amash. (Politico)


Notables.

  1. Trump warned Iran not to threaten the U.S. or the country will face its "official end." Iran’s foreign minister quickly responded in kind on Twitter with his own message: #NeverThreatenAnIranian. (Associated Press)

  2. The White House announced the first part of its Middle East peace proposal, which officials are calling an economic "workshop" that is meant to encourage investment in the West Bank, Gaza, and the region. The effort is being headed by Jared Kushner and White House Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt. The idea is to secure financial commitments from wealthy Persian Gulf states as well as donors in Europe and Asia to induce the Palestinians and their allies to make political concessions to resolve the decades-old conflict with Israel. (CNN / New York Times)

  3. Trump appeared to confirm that the U.S. conducted a cyberattack against a Russian entity during last year's midterm elections. Trump was asked about a report that he personally approved a cyberattack against Russia, during which the U.S. military blocked access to the Russian troll farm known as the Internet Research Agency. "I would rather not say that," Trump said, "but you can believe that the whole thing happened, and it happened during my administration." When asked why he didn't want to talk about it, Trump said it was because "they don't like me to talk, intelligence says, 'please don't talk intelligence.'" (CNN)

  4. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a bid to give businesses broader rights to donate money to political candidates. The Court, without comment, refused to question a Massachusetts law that bars for-profit corporations from making campaign donations. (Bloomberg)

  5. The U.S. Supreme Court deferred acting on state efforts to put more restrictions on abortion, issuing a list of orders without mentioning two pending Indiana appeals. In one, the state is seeking to bar abortions motivated by the risk of a genetic disorder and require clinics to bury or cremate fetal remains. In the other, Indiana aims to reinstate a requirement that an ultrasound be performed at least 18 hours before an abortion. (Bloomberg)

  6. Google suspended all business with Huawei that requires the transfer of hardware, software and technical services except those publicly available via open source licensing after the Trump administration added the Chinese technology giant to a trade blacklist. The blacklist comes with restrictions that will make it extremely difficult for the company to do business with U.S. counterparts. (Reuters / The Independent)

  7. The EPA plans to adopt a new method for projecting the future health risks of air pollution, which experts say has never been peer-reviewed and is not scientifically sound. The change would immediately lower an estimate from last year by the Trump administration that projected as many as 1,400 additional premature deaths per year from a proposed new rule on emissions from coal plants, making it easier to defend Trump's replacement for Obama’s signature climate change measure, the Clean Power Plan. (New York Times)

Day 848: Willingness to cooperate.

1/ Michael Flynn told Robert Mueller that people tied to Trump and a person "connected to" Congress tried to obstruct the Russia investigation. Flynn said he received communications from Trump associates that could have affected the ex-national security adviser's "willingness to cooperate." Flynn not only told investigators about these communications, but provided Mueller's office with a voicemail of one instance. Flynn pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI in December 2017. (NBC News / CNN / CNBC / Axios) / Politico)

2/ A judge ordered public release of what Flynn said in call to the Russian ambassador. The order calls for a public transcript of the call by the former national security adviser that was a critical avenue in the Mueller probe. (Washington Post)

  • Democrats want a review of Russian investments in Kentucky. A Russian aluminum company recently came out from under United States sanctions. Now it's planning to invest $200 million in Kentucky, and maybe more in other states. (New York Times)

  • Panhandle county that backed Trump among Russian hacking victims. Washington County was one two counties successfully hacked by Russians seeking voter information files. (Politico)

  • Judge confirms Trump associate gave feds Osama bin Laden’s number. Felix Sater, who became an FBI informant after pleading guilty in a 1998 fraud scheme, later helped drive talks for a potential Trump Tower Moscow. (Politico)

3/ Trump wants his border barrier to be painted black with spikes. He has other ideas, too. Pointed tops. Fewer gates. Resistance to climbing. Trump's frequently changing design requests have frustrated Homeland Security officials and military engineers. (Washington Post)

4/ Trump's pick for ICE director: I can tell which migrant children will become gang members by looking into their eyes. "I've looked at them and I've looked at their eyes, Tucker — and I've said that is a soon-to-be MS-13 gang member. It's unequivocal." (Politico)

5/ Trump delayed auto tariffs while pressing for a deal with Japan and Europe. Trump stepped back from opening another front in a global trade war by delaying tariffs on automobiles until later this year. (New York Times)

6/ Trump's tariffs are equivalent to one of the largest tax increases in decades. An analysis of data from the Treasury Department ranks the combined $72 billion in revenue from all the president's tariffs as one of the biggest tax increases since 1993. (CNBC)

7/ Trump reports making at least $434 million in 2018, according to his annual financial disclosure released by the White House. (CNN)

Day 847: On fire.

1/ The U.S. military will build six tent cities near border for migrants. The tents will likely not be on military bases, and ICE — not the military — will be responsible for migrant detention and custodial support. (NBC News)

2/ Trump's immigration plan will emphasizes immigrants' skills over their family ties. The plan will significantly scale back family-based immigration and increase the educational and skills requirements to move to the United States. (New York Times / NPR)

3/ Trump, frustrated by advisers, is not convinced the time is right to attack Iran. "They are getting way out ahead of themselves, and Trump is annoyed," one official said of aides pushing for aggressive action. (Washington Post)

  • Trump told his Pentagon chief he does not want a war with Iran. Trump's statement came during a briefing on the rising tensions with Tehran, and officials said he was firm in saying he did not want a military clash. (New York Times)

4/ The Missouri Senate passed a bill to ban abortions at 8 weeks. Senators approved the legislation 24-10 and now needs at least one more vote of approval in the GOP-led House before it can go to Republican Gov. Mike Parson, who voiced support for the bill. (Associated Press)

  • Alabama governor signs near-total abortion ban aimed squarely at Roe v. Wade, but the Supreme Court may prefer to chip away at abortion rights rather than overrule Roe outright. The new law is the most restrictive anti-abortion measure passed in the U.S. since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973. The controversial abortion bill could punish doctors who perform abortions with life in prison. (New York Times / CBS News) / CNN)

5/ Trump moved to ban foreign telecom gear as part of an ongoing battle with China. American officials have long warned that they would stop sharing intelligence if allies installed Chinese technology on their 5G networks. (New York Times)

6/ Farmer who voted for Trump says he’ll "never vote for him again" as family is set to lose $150,000 in China trade war. “This is survival at this point. I mean, for a lot of operations it is a survival thing,” Iowa farmer Robert Ewoldt said. (Newsweek)

7/ Company owned by Brazilian crooks received $62 million in Trump bailout cash meant for struggling U.S. farmers. The Trump administration has forked over more than $62 million — taxpayer cash that was supposed to be earmarked for struggling American farmers — to a massive meatpacking company owned by a couple of… (New York Daily News)

8/ Trump pardoned his billionaire friend Conrad Black, who wrote a book about him. Black was convicted in 2007 on fraud charges, including alleged embezzlement, and obstruction of justice. (Washington Post / Reuters)

9/ Attorney General William Barr denied he is blocking Robert Mueller's testimony before Congress. "It's Bob’s call whether he wants to testify," Barr said. (Wall Street Journal)

10/ Ted Cruz warned that Trump's "Space Force" is needed to prevent space pirates. "Pirates threaten the open seas, and the same is possible in space," Cruz said. (The Hill)

11/ Scott Pruitt spent nearly $124,000 on "excessive airfare" and the EPA watchdog suggests agency recover the $124,000 in travel expenses. A new Office of Inspector General report suggests there was not "sufficient justification to support security concerns requiring the use of first- and business-class travel." (Washington Post / NBC News / CNN)

12/ Trump's prized Doral resort is in steep decline, according to company documents, showing his business problems are mounting. Eric Trump said the resort was "on fire," but the company later said profitability was down 69%. (Washington Post)

  • Trump's Mar-a-Lago took a financial hit last year. "The Art of the Deal" continues to make money, but Trump's dozen-plus other books brought in next to nothing — $201 or less. (Politico)

  • Trump's wealth in the spotlight with new disclosure forms. America is about to get a tantalizing look into the hidden fortune on which Donald Trump made his name but is at the root of some of the most mysterious unresolved questions about his presidency. (CNN)

  • Televangelist Jim Bakker Show Peddles $45 Coin to Pray for President Donald Trump in SpectacularGrift. For just $45, you can pray for the president with this coin that's sold by a guy who says God told him you need the coin. (esquire.com)

poll/ Voters still see Trump as a successful businessman. The president maintains a positive image despite recent negative reports about his tax filings. (Politico)

poll/ 77% of Americans don't think Trump's term should be extended two years. 7% of respondents said that if Trump loses the 2020 election, he should ignore the results and stay in office. (University of Virginia Center for Politics)

Day 846: Escalating tensions.

1/ The White House rejected Congress' demands for records and staff testimony, saying the investigations amount to an "unauthorized do-over" of the Mueller investigation. The letter also rejected the committee’s standing to investigate Trump for possible obstruction of justice. "Unfortunately, it appears that you have already decided to press ahead with a duplicative investigation," White House counsel Pat Cipollone wrote. (NBC News / Washington Post)

  • House Democrats are planning a marathon public reading of the Mueller report. The reading of all 448 pages of the redacted report, starting at noon Thursday, will take an estimated 12 to 14 hours. (Washington Post)

2/ A federal judge grilled Trump's legal team as Democrats fight for access to Trump's financial records. Amit Mehta, a U.S. District Court judge in Washington, raised pointed doubts Tuesday about arguments by Trump’s legal team that a Democratic effort to subpoena Trump’s financial records was an invalid exercise of congressional power. An early court test for Trump’s vow to stonewall all subpoenas could be the start of a long fight over congressional oversight. (Politico / New York Times)

3/ All non-essential staff are being evacuated from the U.S. Embassy in Iraq as the U.S. continues to threaten Iran. The embassy says the State Department has ordered all non-essential, non-emergency government staff to leave the country right away amid escalating tensions with Tehran. (Associated Press)

  • Skeptical U.S. allies are resisting Trump’s new claims of threats from Iran. The Trump administration is laying the groundwork for major military action against Iran, but it may have a hard time rallying domestic and international support. (New York Times)

  • The German government has expressed concern about the tensions in the Middle East between the U.S. and Iran, warning of a military escalation and saying it supports all measures for a peaceful solution. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer said on Wednesday that, “obviously, we are watching the increasing tensions in the region with big concern and welcome any measure that is aimed at a peaceful solution.” (Associated Press)

4/ Jared Kushner struggled to answer GOP senators’ questions on his immigration plan. In a closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser tried to pitch his plan to overhaul legal immigration but failed to win over Republicans, according to GOP officials. (Washington Post)

5/ Gov. Ron DeSantis: Russians hacked voting databases in two Florida counties. The GOP governor said the incidents took place in 2016 and no election results were compromised. (NBC News / Associated Press)

6/ The White House will not sign on to an international agreement to combat online extremism. The agreement was brokered between French and New Zealand officials and top social media companies. The U.S. did not agree to sign the agreement due to concerns that the pact clashes with constitutional protections for free speech. (Washington Post)

7/ Trump’s tariffs, once seen as leverage, may be here to stay. Trump’s latest trade measures have left the United States with the highest tariff rate among the most developed countries, outranking Canada, Germany, Russia and even China. (New York Times)

  • GOP senators raise alarms, criticize Trump as U.S.-China trade war heats up. They say tariffs are hurting their rural constituents, and they’re considering options to aid farmers. (Washington Post)

8/ Alabama passed a near-total abortion ban with no exceptions for cases that involve rape or incest. The legislation is the most restrictive anti-abortion measure passed since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973. (CBS News)

9/ Trump Tower is now one of the least-desirable luxury buildings in New York City. Most condo owners who sold the property since 2016 have recorded a loss. "No one wants in that building," said one former owner. (Bloomberg)

Day 845: Echoes.

1/ The White House reviewed military plans to attack Iran, in echoes of the Iraq War. The plans call for up to 120,000 American troops but not a land invasion of Iran. They were updated at the request of John Bolton, Trump's national security adviser, who has been calling for the U.S. to go to war with Iran for nearly two decades. (New York Times)

2/ Attorney General William Barr instructed the U.S. Attorney in Connecticut to review the origins of the Russia investigation. The prosecutor has conducted other sensitive investigations into conduct by national security officials, including the C.I.A.'s torture of detainees. (New York Times)

3/ Global stocks fell in response to China’s retaliation against U.S. tariffs, stoking economic anxiety. Stocks around the world fell sharply on Monday as the trade war between the world’s two biggest economies showed little sign of ending soon. Signs of economic anxiety also appeared in other financial markets. (New York Times)

4/ The U.S. is preparing to slap tariffs on all remaining Chinese imports, which could add levies on roughly $300 billion in additional goods. Days after both countries raised hopes of a deal, Trump and Xi instead escalated their tariff war. (Washington Post)

  • GOP's farm belt Senators back Trump as China takes aim at U.S. agriculture. Republican lawmakers in the farm belt are standing with President Donald Trump in the wake of an escalating trade war with China, which retaliated on Monday with more tariffs on agricultural goods. (CNBC)

5/ The House Intelligence Committee is investigating claims of obstruction of justice against Trump's lawyers. The Committee has opened an inquiry into Michael Cohen’s claims that lawyers for Trump and his family helped shape false testimony. (New York Times)

6/ Trump Jr. struck a deal with the Senate Intelligence Committee to come to Capitol Hill in mid-June to answer the committee's questions for 2–4 hours. The agreed-upon topics for questioning include the Trump Tower Moscow development, but no other details about the compromise are currently available. (Axios)

  • Trump Jr.’s no-shows led to him being subpoenaed by the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the Committee's Republican chairman Senator Richard Burr. Allies of Mr. Trump have mounted a campaign to quash the subpoena from the Committee, putting intense pressure on Burr. (New York Times)

7/ Trump said he would agree not to use stolen material as part of his 2020 presidential campaign. Trump said he would stay away from information stolen by foreign adversaries in his re-election bid, his first public commitment to doing so. (NBC News)

8/ Trump praised Hungary's authoritarian prime minister Victor Orbán and called him "highly respected." "Probably like me a little bit controversial, but that's okay," Trump said, because "you've done a good job and you've kept your country safe." (Axios)

9/ Before Trump’s purge at the Department of Homeland Security, some top DHS officials challenged his plan to carry out mass family arrests. Kirstjen Nielsen and Ronald Vitiello were ousted after halting an operation that would have targeted thousands of parents and children in 10 cities for arrest and deportation. (Washington Post)

10/ Exclusive photos reveal children sleeping on the ground at a Border Patrol station in Texas. Photos obtained by CNN show migrants at the Border Patrol station in McAllen, Texas over the weekend, many of whom are children, sleeping on the ground on rocks and covered by Mylar blankets. A baby bottle filled with milk can be seen in one photo next to a child sleeping outside on dirt, and in another, a woman is seen sitting on rocks leaning against a wall clutching a child. (CNN)

Day 844: Rules and norms.

1/ The White House asked Don McGahn to declare that Trump never obstructed justice. Two requests by presidential advisers show how far the White House has gone to try to push back on accusations that the president obstructed justice. McGahn initially entertained the request. "We did not perceive it as any kind of threat or something sinister," McGahn's attorney said in a statement. "It was a request, professionally and cordially made." (New York Times)

2/ Leaked letters reveal the details of NRA Chief Wayne LaPierre's alleged spending. National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre billed the group’s ad agency $39,000 for one day of shopping at a Beverly Hills clothing boutique, $18,300 for a car and driver in Europe, and had the agency cover $13,800 in rent for a summer intern, according to newly revealed NRA internal documents. (Wall Street Journal)

3/ The White House decried the investigations by House Democrats and complained that they are not following "rules and norms." The White House on Sunday decried Democratic-led congressional investigations, saying Democrats are refusing to abide by "rules and norms" that govern oversight authority as they issue subpoenas for documents the Trump administration refuses to hand over. (CNN)

  • Suddenly, conservative lawyers are condemning Trump for abuses of power. Prominent Republican lawyers are pushing back against Trump’s defiance of subpoenas and expansive claims of executive privilege and immunity from prosecution. (Los Angeles Times)

4/ China is raising tariffs on $60 billion of U.S. goods starting on June 1. The move to impose steeper tariffs on U.S. goods comes in response to Trump's decision to hike tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods. Trump’s trade approach is also under attack back in the U.S. as China readies retaliation and the markets prepare for a big sell-off. (CNBC / Washington Post)

  • Trump disputes impact of tariffs on American consumers, but warns China not to retaliate. The president accused Beijing of backing out of a “great deal” last week. (Politico)

5/ Trump aide Larry Kudlow acknowledged that U.S. consumers will be the ones who pay for Trump's tariffs, not China. "Both sides will suffer on this," Kudlow said. Trump’s decision to renew his trade war with China could inflict lasting damage on the American economy, but the ultimate impact depends on how far the president takes the fight. (NBC News / New York Times)

6/ Nadler is under pressure from calls for "inherent contempt." The House Judiciary Committee chairman faces pressure to get tougher with the Trump administration and start threatening fines or jail time as punishment for noncompliance. (Politico)

  • Schiff: Campaigns shouldn’t be allowed to get foreign help. The California Democrat responds to Rudy Giuliani’s proposed (and then scrapped) Ukraine trip. (Politico)

  • Schiff: Trump's additional obstruction of Congress "does add weight to impeachment". "He certainly seems to be trying, and maybe this is his perverse way of dividing us more." (Axios)

  • Schiff: Robert Mueller "is going to testify." On "This Week," Rep. Adam Schiff and Sen. Rand Paul weighed in on the Democratic-led congressional investigations into the president. (ABC News)

7/ The Pentagon will pull money from its ballistic missile and surveillance plane programs in order to fund Trump's border wall. The Defense Department, under Trump, intends to reprogram $2.5 billion that was originally designated by Congress for other projects. (Washington Post)

  • Is there a connection between undocumented immigrants and crime?. It’s a widely held perception, but a new analysis finds no evidence to support it. (New York Times)

8/ Omarosa wants to join a lawsuit alleging that women were underpaid by the Trump campaign. A former campaign staffer who accused Trump of sexual misconduct and pay discrimination filed a motion Monday asking for a judge to allow others, including Omarosa, to join her initial lawsuit filed in February. (Washington Post)

Day 841: No Rush.

1/ The House Ways and Mean Committee subpoenaed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin over Trump's tax returns. IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig was also subpoenaed. Chairman Richard Neal gave Mnuchin and Rettig until until May 17 to turn over six years of Trump's returns, and is expected to go to court to enforce his request if the Trump administration continues to argue that the committee does not have a legitimate legislative purpose that warrants compliance. Earlier this week, Mnuchin rejected Neal's request for the returns. Trump previously vowed to fight all subpoenas from House Democrats. Subpoenas are now pending from the Ways and Means, Judiciary, Oversight and Reform, Financial Services, and the Intelligence Committees. (CNBC / New York Times / Politico / Washington Post) / Wall Street Journal)

2/ The House Judiciary Committee introduced the "No President Is Above the Law Act" that would "pause the statute of limitations for any federal offense committed by a sitting president." The move is an attempt to get around a Justice Department ruling that a sitting president cannot be indicted or criminally prosecuted. Robert Mueller laid out extensive evidence of possible obstruction by Trump, but declined to exonerate Trump in his report, citing a Justice Department legal opinion that a sitting president cannot be indicted. (Axios)

3/ Robert Mueller won't testify in front of the House Judiciary Committee next week, but "he will come at some point," committee chairman Jerrold Nadler told reporters. The committee is still negotiating with the Justice Department for Mueller's appearance. "If it's necessary," Nadler said, "we will subpoena him and he will come." Mueller was tentatively scheduled to appear May 15th. (The Hill / Reuters)

4/ Trump escalated his trade war with China, raising tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods and moving ahead to tax nearly all of China's imports. Trump said the move is meant to punish China for attempting to "renegotiate" a trade deal between the two countries. At one point, Trump mentioned that he received a "beautiful letter" from Chinese President Xi Jinping, who wanted to speak with him on the phone, but later said he would be more than happy to keep hitting China with tariffs. "I have no idea what's going to happen," Trump said, tweeting later that there is "no need to rush" on to securing a trade deal with China. (New York Times / NPR / Washington Post / Bloomberg)


Notables.

  1. Maria Butina denied that she tried to infiltrate U.S. conservative groups in order to promote Russian interests. She claimed she was "building peace." Butina pleaded guilty to conspiring to serve as a foreign agent inside the United States. (NPR)

  2. The House passed a $19.1 billion disaster relief package for farmers and communities hit by hurricanes, wildfires, floods and other natural disasters, including Puerto Rico. Trump urged House Republicans late Thursday night to vote down the bill. Instead, 30 Republicans voted in support of the bill, and the measure passed 257-150. (New York Times / Washington Post)

  3. North Korea's three new missiles have "Russian technology fingerprints all over" them, military experts said. The missiles reportedly bear a resemblance to the Russian-designed Iskander – a short-range, nuclear-capable ballistic missile that has been in the Russian arsenal for more than a decade. (Associated Press)

  4. A commander in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard rejected Trump's invitation to sit down for talks with the U.S. Trump said he would not rule out military action against Iran, but "would like to see them call me" first. Gen. Yadollah Javani responded that "there will be no negotiations with America," claiming that the U.S. wouldn't dare take military action against Iran. (Associated Press / Reuters)

  5. The Pentagon will shift $1.5 billion in funds to help pay for construction of 80 miles of wall at the U.S.-Mexican border. The funds were originally targeted for support of the Afghan security forces and other projects, and follows the Pentagon's decision in March to transfer $1 billion from Army personnel budget accounts to support wall construction. (Associated Press)

  6. The Department of Housing and Urban Development confirmed the Trump administration's plan to evict undocumented immigrants from public housing could displace more than 55,000 children. The proposed rule would make it harder for undocumented immigrants to access public housing, in order to "make certain our scarce public resources help those who are legally entitled to it," according to HUD Secretary Ben Carson. The agency's own analysis found that half of the people currently living in households facing eviction and homelessness under the new rule are children who are legally qualified for aid. (Washington Post)

  7. Rudy Giuliani is encouraging Ukraine to pursue an investigation into Joe Biden's son and his involvement in a gas company owned by a Ukrainian oligarch. Trump's personal lawyer is meeting with the incoming government in Kiev to press them to try to discredit Mueller's investigation and undermine the case against Paul Manafort. "We're not meddling in an election," Giuliani said. "We're meddling in an investigation, which we have a right to do." (New York Times / NBC News)

Day 840: No choice.

1/ Mick Mulvaney criticized Republicans for not informing him that Trump Jr. would be subpoenaed by the Senate Intelligence Committee as part of its ongoing probe into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign. The acting White House chief of staff called it "bad form" to "not at least get a heads-up" from the Republican-led committee. Senator Richard Blumenthal said that "If [Trump Jr.] fails to comply with a lawful subpoena, he has no privilege, prison is the only answer." Trump Jr. is expected to assert his Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination in order to resist testifying about his contacts with Russia. (Washington Post / Politico / CNN / The Hill / Reuters)

  • 📌 Day 839: The Senate Intelligence Committee subpoenaed Trump Jr. to answer questions about his previous testimony related to the Russia investigation. Trump Jr. testified before the committee in September 2017 that he was only "peripherally aware" of the proposed plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. Michael Cohen, however, told a House committee earlier this year that he had met with both Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump "approximately 10" times to brief them about the Trump Tower plan. The Republican-led committee wants Trump Jr. to answer questions about his claim to have limited knowledge of the plan. (Axios / CNBC / New York Times)

2/ House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff issued a subpoena to the Justice Department for "counterintelligence and foreign intelligence" from Robert Mueller's investigation. Schiff said his committee had "no choice" but to serve the subpoena after the Justice Department "repeatedly failed to respond, refused to schedule any testimony, and provided no documents responsive to our legitimate and duly authorized oversight activities." Schiff gave Attorney General William Barr a deadline of May 15 to hand over the evidence. (Politico / CNN)

3/ House Speaker Nancy Pelosi agreed with Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler that the U.S. is in a "constitutional crisis" over the Trump administration's refusal to comply with congressional oversight, telling reporters: "The administration has decided they are not going to honor their oath of office." The House Judiciary Committee voted yesterday to recommend the House hold Barr in contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over an unredacted version of Mueller's report. Pelosi said she would bring the contempt citation to the floor for a vote of the full House "when we are ready." (New York Times / Axios)

  • Former national security adviser H.R. McMaster accused his former White House colleagues of being "a danger to the Constitution" because they're either trying to push their own agenda or see themselves as rescuing the country from Trump. (Politico)

poll/ 45% of Americans support impeaching Trump – up 5 percentage points since mid-April. 42% said Trump should not be impeached and the rest said they had no opinion. (Reuters)


Notables.

  1. The White House implemented new rules that could reduce the number of journalists that hold "hard" passes, which allow them to enter the White House grounds without seeking daily permission. Journalists will be required to enter the White House grounds at least 50% of the time in the 180 days before renewal. If they fall short of this, they must apply each time they want access. (Washington Post)

  2. North Korea fired two short-range missiles – the second weapons launch in five days. They flew 43 to 125 miles before landing in the sea. (Associated Press / New York Times)

  3. The U.S. seized a North Korean ship used to sell coal in violation of American law and international sanctions hours after North Korea launched a pair of short-range missiles. (New York Times / Washington Post)

  4. Trump picked acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan to take over as secretary of defense following the resignation of Jim Mattis. The nomination of the former longtime executive at Boeing had been held up by an inspector general's probe into whether he acted improperly in favor of Boeing, a major Pentagon contractor. He was recently cleared of wrongdoing, but still needs Senate confirmation. (CNBC / Politico / Bloomberg / NBC News / Washington Post)

  5. Trump joked about shooting migrants at the border during a rally in Florida. Trump was complaining that "border security people" are prohibited from shooting migrants approaching the border when he asked, "How do you stop these people?" One of his supporters shouted: "Shoot them!" Trump paused, laughed, and responded that "Only in the Panhandle you can get away with that statement. Only in the panhandle." (USA Today / Washington Post / CNN)

Day 839: Sport.

1/ Trump asserted executive privilege over Robert Mueller's full, unredacted report. Yesterday, Attorney General William Barr and the Justice Department advised Trump to make a "protective assertion of executive privilege" in response to Democratic plans to hold Barr in contempt of Congress over his refusal to turn over Mueller's report or underlying materials to Congress. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said Trump's "decision [to assert privilege] represents a clear escalation in the Trump administration's blanket defiance of Congress's constitutionally mandated duties." The move will not have a direct impact on possible testimony from Mueller, but it could limit the scope of what he can say by putting some subjects off limits. (ABC News / New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / CNN)

  • 📌 Day 838: The White House invoked executive privilege and ordered former counsel Donald McGahn not to comply with a congressional subpoena for documents related to Robert Mueller's investigation. In a letter to the House Judiciary Committee, White House counsel Pat Cipollone argued that "McGahn does not have the legal right to disclose these documents to third parties" and asked that the committee instead direct the request to the White House, "because they implicate significant Executive Branch confidentiality interests and executive privilege." Trump has also promised to assert executive privilege to block McGahn's testimony to the committee later this month. McGahn spent more than 30 hours speaking to Mueller's investigators, outlining two episodes where Trump asked him to have Mueller fired, and later asking McGahn to deny news reports about that conversation. McGahn rebuffed both requests. (CNBC / ABC News / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / New York Times)

2/ The House Judiciary Committee voted to hold Barr in contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over the full, unredacted Mueller report. "We are in a constitutional crisis,"Nadler said after the vote. "We are now in it." However, Nadler added, impeachment "may not be the best answer." The vote on contempt now heads to the full House. It is not immediately clear when that vote will be scheduled. If the full House follows the committee's recommendation, it would be the second time in American history that a sitting attorney general would be held in contempt of Congress. (Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / CNBC / Reuters)

3/ The Senate Intelligence Committee subpoenaed Trump Jr. to answer questions about his previous testimony related to the Russia investigation. Trump Jr. testified before the committee in September 2017 that he was only "peripherally aware" of the proposed plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. Michael Cohen, however, told a House committee earlier this year that he had met with both Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump "approximately 10" times to brief them about the Trump Tower plan. The Republican-led committee wants Trump Jr. to answer questions about his claim to have limited knowledge of the plan. (Axios / CNBC / New York Times)

  • 📌 Day 680: Trump Jr.'s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee conflicts with Michael Cohen's version of events regarding negotiations of a prospective Trump Tower in Moscow. In Cohen's version, he says the discussions with at least one Russian government official continued through June 2016. Trump Jr. testified in September 2017 that talks surrounding a Trump Tower in Moscow concluded without result "at the end" of 2014 and "certainly not [20]16. There was never a definitive end to it. It just died of deal fatigue." Trump Jr. told the Senate committee that he "wasn't involved," knew "very little," and was only "peripherally aware" of the deal other than a letter of intent was signed by Trump. He also said he didn't know that Cohen had sent an email to Putin's aide, Dmitry Peskov. In Cohen's guilty plea, he said he briefed Trump's family members about the continued negotiations. (NPR / USA Today)

  • 📌 Day 699: Newly obtained document show Trump signed a letter of intent to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, contradicting Rudy Giuliani's claim that the document was never signed. The signed letter is dated Oct. 28, 2015. Trump Jr. testified on Sept. 7, 2017 that his father had signed a letter of intent for the Moscow project, which Michael Cohen worked on, but he knew "very little" about it. Cohen also told congressional committees investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election that Trump had signed the letter. On Sunday, Giuliani claimed: "It was a real estate project. There was a letter of intent to go forward, but no one signed it." During the 2016 campaign, Trump did not disclose that the Trump Organization explored the business deal with Russia. Instead, he repeatedly claimed he had "nothing to do with Russia." (CNN)

4/ Mueller tried to block the release of James Comey's contemporaneous memos over concerns that Trump and other witnesses could change their stories after reading them. The Justice Department asked a federal judge to keep the memos under seal around the same time Mueller's team was negotiating with Trump over a potential presidential interview. Mueller's team said it was worried that "the recollections of one witness, if disclosed to another potential witness, have the potential to [influence], advertently or inadvertently, the recollections of that witness." (CNN)

5/ Trump lost $1.17 billion between 1985 and 1994 — more than "nearly any other individual American taxpayer" during that period – according to 10 years of Trump's newly obtained tax information. Trump lost so much money during the decade in question that he was able to avoid paying any income taxes for eight of those ten years. Two years after The Art of the Deal was published, Trump reported larger financial losses than all but three other individual American taxpayers. Trump's businesses lost more than $250 million in 1990 and 1991, which were more than twice as much as the nearest taxpayers. Trump defended his "tax shelter" tactics on Twitter, calling it a "sport" to "show losses for tax purposes. […] Additionally, the very old information put out is a highly inaccurate Fake News hit job!" (New York Times / CNBC)

  • 5 Takeaways From 10 Years of Trump Tax Figures. A decade of the Trump's tax returns reveal $1.17 billion in business losses. Here's what else the numbers show. (New York Times)

  • Democrats appear headed straight to court for Trump's tax returns. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Monday shot down the House Ways and Means Committee's request for six years' worth of Trump's personal returns. (Politico)

  • 📌 Day 54: Trump wrote off $100 million in business losses to reduce his federal taxes in 2005. Trump paid $38 million in federal income taxes on reported income of $150 million, an effective tax rate of 25%. By claiming losses from previous years, Trump was able to save tens of millions of dollars in taxes that he otherwise might have owed. (New York Times)

  • 📌 Day 621: Trump inherited his family's wealth through fraud and questionable tax schemes, receiving the equivalent today of at least $413 million from his father's real estate empire. Trump has repeatedly claimed that "I built what I build myself." Trump and his siblings used fake corporations to hide financial gifts from his parents, which helped his father claim millions in tax deductions. Trump also helped his parents undervalue their real estate holdings by hundreds of millions of dollars when filing their tax returns. In total, Fred and Mary Trump transferred more than a $1 billion in wealth to their children and paid a total of $52.2 million in taxes (about 5%) instead of the $550+ million they should have owed under the 55% tax rate imposed on gifts and inheritances. Trump also "earned" $200,000 a year in today's dollars starting at age 3 from his father's companies. After college, Trump started receiving the equivalent of $1 million a year, which increased to $5 million a year when he was in his 40s and 50s. Trump has refused to release his income tax returns, breaking with decades of practice by past presidents. There is no time limit on civil fines for tax fraud. [Editor's note: This is a must read. An abstract summary does not suffice.] (New York Times)

6/ The New York state Senate passed a bill that would allow Trump's state tax returns to be turned over to congressional committees. The bill would permit the state Department of Taxation and Finance commissioner to release any state tax return requested by the leaders of the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee or the Joint Committee on Taxation for any "specific and legitimate legislative purpose." The bill still needs to be approved by the State Assembly and signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. (NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times)

poll/ 29% of voters approve of the way Barr handled the release of the Mueller reports. 35% said Barr has mostly worked to protect Trump while 32% said Barr has mostly tried to inform the American people. 32% were undecided. (Politico)


Notables.

  1. Michael Cohen helped bury embarrassing photos of Jerry Falwell Jr. shortly before Falwell endorsed Trump in 2016. The Falwells wanted to prevent "a bunch of photographs, personal photographs" from becoming public, Cohen said during a recorded phone call with actor Tom Arnold. "I actually have one of the photos," Cohen claimed. "It's terrible." An anonymous attorney for Falwell Jr. denied Cohen's claims and insisted that "there are no compromising or embarrassing photos of Falwell, period!" (Reuters / Washington Post)

  2. The Florida Bar will investigate U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz's menacing tweet at Michael Cohen. The case against the Florida Republican stems from a tweet he directed toward Cohen on the eve of Cohen's testimony before a House committee, saying: "Do your wife & father-in-law know about your girlfriends? Maybe tonight would be a good time for that chat. I wonder if she'll remain faithful when you're in prison. She's about to learn a lot…" (Tampa Bay Times)

  3. The House Oversight Committee threatened to withhold the salaries of employees at the Department of the Interior who prevent lawmakers from interviewing agency employees about whether Secretary David Bernhardt complied with recordkeeping laws. Committee chair Elijah Cummings issued a statement notifying the department that there would be no money available to pay the salaries of any "federal officer or employee who prevents another federal officer or employee from communicating directly with any member, committee, or subcommittee of Congress." (Politico)

  4. Trump's foreign policy officials exaggerated the military threat from Iran in order to justify the deployment of the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group and an Air Force bomber task force to the Gulf. National Security Adviser John Bolton said that the movement was in response to "a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings." But multiple sources say Bolton and other administration officials were "overreacting" to the threat. (Daily Beast)

  5. Iran will stop complying with the Iranian nuclear deal and threatened to resume enrichment of uranium in 60 days if European nations fail to negotiate new terms for the 2015 nuclear deal, which limited Iran's capacity to produce nuclear fuel for 15 years. Despite the opposition from European allies, Trump withdrew entirely from the 2015 agreement. (New York Times / Associated Press / Reuters)


🎉Celebrate Small Victories: We deserve better. [Editor's note: Super excited to announce that I've teamed up with Alison Diviney to share her Small Victories with the WTF community.]

Day 838: Privilege.

1/ The White House invoked executive privilege and ordered former counsel Donald McGahn not to comply with a congressional subpoena for documents related to Robert Mueller's investigation. In a letter to the House Judiciary Committee, White House counsel Pat Cipollone argued that "McGahn does not have the legal right to disclose these documents to third parties" and asked that the committee instead direct the request to the White House, "because they implicate significant Executive Branch confidentiality interests and executive privilege." Trump has also promised to assert executive privilege to block McGahn's testimony to the committee later this month. McGahn spent more than 30 hours speaking to Mueller's investigators, outlining two episodes where Trump asked him to have Mueller fired, and later asking McGahn to deny news reports about that conversation. McGahn rebuffed both requests. (CNBC / ABC News / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / New York Times)

  • 📌 Day 819: After Trump fired James Comey, he attempted to have his White House counsel fire Mueller a month later. Trump twice told Donald McGahn to call Rosenstein and order him to fire Mueller, saying: "Mueller has to go" for alleged "conflicts that precluded him from serving as special counsel." McGahn refused, saying he did not want to repeat the "Saturday Night Massacre." McGahn then called Reince Priebus, then the White House chief of staff, and told him Trump had asked him to "do crazy shit." Trump later pressured McGahn to deny that he tried to fire Mueller.

  • 📌 Day 820: Trump claimed that statements about him "by certain people" in Mueller's "crazy" report are "total bullshit," made by people trying to make themselves look good and harm him. Close White House advisers said Trump's rage was aimed at former White House counsel Don McGahn, who blocked several attempts by Trump to interfere in Mueller's investigation. Trump continued tweeting: "This was an Illegally Started Hoax that never should have happened, a…" He never finish the statement. (Politico / Bloomberg / Washington Post / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

2/ FBI Director Christopher Wray said he would not call the 2016 investigation into Trump's campaign advisers "spying." When asked during a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing if he had "any evidence that any illegal surveillance" into the Trump 2016 campaign occurred, Wray told lawmakers that "I don't think I personally have any evidence of that sort." Wray's comments are in contrast to those made by Attorney General William Barr at a Senate hearing on April 10th, where he claimed that "spying did occur, yes," calling it "a big deal." The Justice Department inspector general is expected to issue a report in the next month or two about the origins of the FBI investigation into the Trump campaign. Wray asked lawmakers to wait for the report. (Washington Post / NBC News / CNN)

  • 📌 Day 811: Barr told Congress that the government was "spying" on Trump's campaign during the 2016 election, but provided no evidence. During a hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee, Barr said that while he's not launching an investigation of the FBI or suggesting there is an "endemic" problem at the FBI, he does "think there was a failure among a group of leaders at the upper echelons." Barr went on to say that he wanted to understand if there was "unauthorized surveillance" of political figures and whether law enforcement officials had proper legal justification for the "genesis" of the counterintelligence investigation. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / NBC News / CNN / Bloomberg / Axios)

3/ Mitch McConnell called the investigations into Trump and his 2016 campaign "case closed," despite Trump repeatedly rebuffing Democrats' requests for documents and witnesses in their multiple investigations. McConnell accused Democrats of continuing to re-litigate the presidential election, calling it a "Groundhog Day spectacle." Charles Schumer called McConnell's speech "an astounding bit of whitewashing — not unexpected but entirely unconvincing." McConnell also tried to blame Obama for failing to warn Americans about Russia's election interference ahead of the 2016 election, mocking Democrats for "abruptly awakening to the dangers of Russian aggression." McConnell, however, scuttled Obama's plans in 2016 and "dramatically watered down" a bipartisan warning to states by citing "skepticism that the underlying intelligence truly supported the White House's claims." McConnell added that he was concerned Obama was playing partisan politics. (Washington Post / Vox)


Notables.

  1. Trump pardoned a former U.S. soldier who was convicted of murdering an Iraqi prisoner. Former Army 1st Lt. Michael Behenna was convicted of unpremeditated murder in a combat zone and sentenced to 25 years in prison before his sentence was reduced to 15 years. He was paroled in 2014. Behenna admitted during his trial that instead of taking a prisoner home as ordered, Behenna took him to a railroad culvert, made him strip, questioned him at gunpoint, and then shot him because Behenna thought he might try to take his gun. Trump issued a full pardon and grant of clemency. (ABC News)

  2. China will not take part in three-way nuclear talks with the U.S. and Russia, according to a spokesperson for the Chinese government. Trump said on Friday that he had spoken with Putin and the Chinese government about a possible three-way deal. The Chinese government, however, publicly denied that it was interested in any such deal. (CNN)

  3. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp will sign the state's "fetal heartbeat bill" today. Georgia's so-called "heartbeat bill" will become one the most restrictive anti-abortion access laws in the country. (CBS News)

  4. Trump's inaugural committee official disputes the White House account that she was forced out because she had profited from her role in helping organize inaugural events. Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a former adviser to Melania Trump, claimed she was "thrown under the bus." Wolkoff has been cooperating with federal prosecutors in Manhattan who are investigating the committee's spending and fundraising. (New York Times)

  5. New York State lawmakers plan to advance a bill this week to allow congressional committees to see Trump's New York State returns. The State Senate reportedly has enough votes to pass the bill, which would allow the New York Department of Taxation and Finance to release any state tax return requested by one of three congressional committees for any "specific and legitimate legislative purpose." (New York Times)

Day 837: Legitimacy.

1/ More than 370 former federal prosecutors asserted that Trump would have been charged with obstruction of justice if he was not president. Robert Mueller declined to exonerate Trump in his report, citing a Justice Department legal opinion that a sitting president cannot be indicted. The former career government employees who worked in Republican and Democratic administrations signed on to a statement saying, "Each of us believes that the conduct of President Trump described in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report would, in the case of any other person not covered by the Office of Legal Counsel policy against indicting a sitting President, result in multiple felony charges for obstruction of justice." (Washington Post)

  • [READ] The statement by former federal prosecutors. (Medium)

  • 📌 Day 819: Mueller's office chose not to charge Trump with obstruction out of "fairness concerns," because "we recognized that a federal criminal accusation against a sitting President would place burdens on the President's capacity to govern and potentially preempt constitutional process for addressing presidential misconduct." According to the report, Mueller considered Trump's written answers "inadequate," but knew a subpoena would impose "substantial delay" and they believed they had "sufficient evidence to understand relevant events and to make certain assessments without the President's testimony." Trump stated more than 30 times in his written answers that he "does not 'recall' or 'remember' or have an 'independent recollection'" of information investigators asked about. Mueller, citing numerous legal constraints in his report, declined to exonerate Trump, writing: "If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment." (NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / Wall Street Journal)

2/ Trump: "Bob Mueller should not testify." On Friday, Trump said he'd leave the decision on whether Mueller should testify "up to our attorney general," William Barr, who had earlier last week said he had no objection to Mueller testifying. Trump's reversal came hours after the House Judiciary Committee formally invited Mueller to testify on May 15th. The date has not yet been confirmed. (Washington Post / New York Times / Politico)

3/ Nancy Pelosi warned that Trump might not voluntarily give up power in 2020 if he isn't defeated by a margin so "big" he cannot challenge the legitimacy of a Democratic victory. Pelosi, recalling her thinking in the run-up to the 2018 elections, said "If we win by four seats, by a thousand votes each, he's not going to respect the election. [Trump] would poison the public mind." Since winning the 2016 presidential election, Trump has repeatedly made unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud, convened a commission to study the alleged fraud, and recently warned Republican lawmakers to be more "paranoid" about how votes are counted in 2020. And, in 2016, Trump refused to say he would accept the outcome of the election if Hillary Clinton won, saying: "I will keep you in suspense." (New York Times / CNN)

  • 📌 Day 4: Without evidence, Trump tells lawmakers 3 million to 5 million illegal ballots cost him the popular vote. Days after being sworn in, President Trump insisted to congressional leaders invited to a reception at the White House that he would have won the popular vote had it not been for millions of illegal votes, according to people familiar with the meeting. Trump has repeatedly claimed, without evidence, that widespread voter fraud caused him to lose the popular vote to Hillary Clinton, even while he clinched the presidency with an electoral college victory. (Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 112: Trump launched a commission to investigate voter fraud. The effort will be spearheaded by Mike Pence and will look into allegations of improper voting and fraudulent voter registration in states and across the nation. Trump is expected to sign the executive order today. (Associated Press / ABC News / CNN)

  • 📌 Day 350: 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)

  • 📌 Day 564: Documents from Trump's voter fraud commission "do not contain evidence of widespread voter fraud," according to Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, one of the panel's 11 members. After reading through more than 8,000 pages of documents, Dunlap said he believed that the goal of the commission "wasn’t just a matter of investigating President Trump's claims that 3 to 5 million people voted illegally" but that it "seems to have been to validate those claims." The panel was disbanded in January, and the White House claimed at the time that despite "substantial evidence of voter fraud," the commission was shut down due to legal challenges from states. The panel never presented any findings or evidence of widespread voter fraud. Kris Kobach, the commission's vice chair, however, said at the time that the panel was shut down because "some people on the left were getting uncomfortable about how much we were finding out." (Washington Post)

4/ Trump claimed that two years of his term were "stollen" as a result of Mueller's investigation and suggested that his first term should be extended by two years. Trump retweeted conservative pundit Jerry Falwell Jr., who wrote: "I now support reparations — Trump should have 2 yrs added to his 1st term as pay back for time stolen by this corrupt failed coup." Trump, echoing Falwell's statements, tweeted that the Democrats "have stollen [sic] two years of my (our) Presidency (Collusion Delusion) that we will never be able to get back." Trump later corrected his spelling, claiming that two years of his presidency had been "stolen." (Politico / CNN / Washington Post)

5/ The House Judiciary Committee took its first formal step toward holding Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress for missing today's deadline to produce Mueller's unredacted report and the underlying evidence. Barr also skipped a hearing before the committee last week. The committee will vote at 10 a.m. on Wednesday whether to hold Barr in contempt. Hours after the committee announced the vote, the Justice Department offered to meet Wednesday afternoon to discuss an "acceptable accommodation" that would potentially give more lawmakers access to a less-redacted version of the report, in addition to "possible disclosure of certain materials" cited in Mueller's report. (CNN / Politico / New York Times / Washington Post / Reuters)

6/ Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin rejected House Democrats' request for six years of Trump's tax returns, claiming the request "lacks a legitimate legislative purpose." It's the third time Mnuchin has missed a congressional deadline to turn over the documents. Mnuchin previously called the request "unprecedented," and argued that it raised "serious constitutional issues" that could have consequences for taxpayer privacy. The power for lawmakers to seek individual tax returns was explicitly written into law in 1924. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / CNN / Politico)

  • The New York attorney general filed a lawsuit against the Treasury Department and IRS for failing to respond to a Freedom of Information Act request within the mandated time limit. In July 2018, the Treasury and the IRS released new guidance eliminating some donor disclosure requirements for non-501(c)(3) tax-exempt groups. In October, the New York and New Jersey attorneys general filed a FOIA request for information about the origins and development of the guidance. The New York and New Jersey attorneys general are asking the court to order the Treasury and the IRS to disclose all records that are relevant to the FOIA requests. (The Hill / Daily Beast / Law and Crime)

poll/ 60% of Americans say Trump has not been honest and truthful when it comes to Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election. 37% say he has been honest and truthful. 42% say what they've read, heard or seen about Mueller's report doesn't clear Trump of wrongdoing, compared with 29% who say it does clear him, and another 29% who say they're unsure. (NBC News)


Notables.

  1. Michael Cohen reported to federal prison to begin his three-year prison sentence for tax evasion and campaign finance violations. Cohen said "There still remains much to be told and I look forward to the day where I can share the truth." (Associated Press / New York Times)

  2. The Trump administration deployed an aircraft carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the Middle East as a show of force against Iran. U.S. officials said the deployment is a response to "clear indications" that Iran and its proxies are planning an attack against U.S. forces. National Security Adviser John Bolton said the U.S. is "not seeking war with the Iranian regime, but we are fully prepared to respond to any attack, whether by proxy, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or regular Iranian forces." Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo provided no details or proof of Iran's actions or intentions, but Pompeo said the move was "something we’ve been working on for a little while." (ABC News / Associated Press)

  3. Trump named the former head of the Border Patrol as the new director of ICE. Mark Morgan is a former FBI agent who served as head of the Border Patrol during the final months of the Obama administration. Morgan supports Trump's call for a border wall, Trump's decision to declare a national emergency to secure funding for the wall, and the administration's proposal to take migrants caught crossing the border and drop them off in sanctuary cities. Morgan's appointment will require confirmation from the Senate. (NPR)

  4. Trump threatened to increase tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese from 10% to 25%. The Trump administration accused China of "reneging" on its agreed to trade commitments and the tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods starting Friday. (Washington Post / New York Times / Axios / Wall Street Journal)

  5. North Korea fired several short-range ballistic missiles. South Korea expressed concern that the launches were a violation of an inter-Korean agreement to cease all hostile acts. The missile test was North Korea's first since 2017. (Politico / CNN / New York Times)

Day 834: Sweeping and systematic.

1/ Trump discussed the "Russian Hoax" with Putin and both agreed that "there was no collusion" between Moscow and Trump's 2016 presidential campaign. Robert Mueller's report, however, detailed how the Russian government interfered in the 2016 race in "sweeping and systematic fashion" in order to help Trump win. Trump added that he "didn't discuss" election meddling with Putin or warn him not to meddle in the next U.S. election. Sarah Huckabee Sanders claimed that she was "pretty sure both leaders were very well aware of (the Mueller report's finding) long before this call took place," because it was "something we've said for the better part of two and a half years." The hour-long discussion about Mueller's report, trade, nuclear arms control, Ukraine, North Korea, and Venezuela was their first conversation since the release of Mueller's report. (NBC News / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / CNN / Politico / Washington Post)

2/ House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler set a Monday deadline for Attorney General William Barr to grant access to the underlying evidence in Mueller's report. If Barr fails to comply with Nadler's final "counter offer," the "committee will move to contempt proceedings and seek further legal recourse." Nadler told Barr that the committee was "willing to prioritize a specific, defined set of underlying investigative and evidentiary materials for immediate production," specifically citing witness interviews and the contemporaneous notes that were cited in Mueller's report. The Justice Department said earlier this week it would not comply with Nadler's subpoena for the unredacted Mueller report, underlying evidence, or grand jury information. (Politico / CNN / ABC News)

3/ Trump probably won't allow former White House counsel Don McGahn to testify to Congress because McGahn was already interviewed by Mueller's team. "I would say it's done," Trump told Fox News. "I've had him testifying already for 30 hours." Trump said he is concerned that allowing McGahn to testify would open the doors for Congress to call other members of his administration to appear before committees. (Reuters)

4/ The Trump administration rolled back safety rules for offshore drilling operations that were put in place after the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The change is meant to ease drilling restrictions in places like the Gulf, even though oil production reached a record 1.9 million barrels per day at the end of 2018. It also reduces the required frequency of safety tests for key equipment, such as blowout preventers, a last-ditch safety measure against massive spills and "gushers." The new rule will take effect in 60 days. (Politico)


Notables.

  1. The U.S. added 263,000 new jobs in April. The unemployment rate fell to 3.6% from 3.8% – the lowest since December 1969. (CNBC)

  2. The California state Senate voted 27-10 to prevent candidates from appearing on the ballot unless they have publicly released five years of their tax returns. California will also be one of the first states to hold primary elections for the 2020 race. If the bill becomes law and Trump does not release his tax returns, he may not be on the California primary ballot. (The Hill)

  3. Michael Cohen heads to prison on Monday to begin serving his three-year sentence for tax evasion, lying to Congress, and campaign finance crimes. (NBC News)

  4. John Kelly joined the board of a company that operates the largest facility for unaccompanied migrant children. Caliburn International is the parent company of Comprehensive Health Services, which operates Homestead and three other shelters for unaccompanied migrant children in Texas. Prior to joining the Trump administration, Kelly had been on the board of advisors of DC Capital Partners, an investment firm that now owns Caliburn. (CBS News)

Day 833: That's a crime.

1/ Nancy Pelosi accused Attorney General William Barr of "not telling the truth to the Congress of the United States — that's a crime." At a House Appropriations Committee hearing on April 9th, Charlie Crist asked Barr if Robert Mueller's team believed he had failed to adequately represent their findings in his four-page memo. Barr responded that he was not aware of any concerns from Mueller's team. On April 10th at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing, Sen. Chris Van Hollen asked Barr if Mueller supported his finding that there was not sufficient evidence to conclude that Trump had obstructed justice. Barr responded: "I don't know." Mueller, however, had written Barr two weeks earlier, on March 27th, complaining that the attorney general's memo "did not fully capture the context, nature and substance" of his work. "He lied to Congress," Pelosi said. "Nobody is above the law. Not the president of the United States, and not the attorney general." The Justice Department called Pelosi's words "reckless, irresponsible and false." (Associated Press / Politico / CNBC / Washington Post / Washington Post / Vox)

  • 📌 Day 832: Robert Mueller twice objected to Attorney General William Barr's four-page summary to Congress, saying the memo "did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this office's work and conclusions." Barr's summary claimed that the Mueller investigation "did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government" and that Mueller "did not draw a conclusion — one way or the other —as to whether the examined conduct constituted obstruction." Mueller, however, sent a letter to Barr on March 27th – three days after Barr issued his summary – citing "public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation" that "threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the department appointed the special counsel: to assure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigations." Mueller asked the Justice Department to release the 448-page report's introductions and executive summaries, making some initial suggested redactions that Mueller believed would "alleviate the misunderstandings that have arisen and would answer congressional and public questions about the nature and outcome of our investigation." Mueller's office first informed the Justice Department of their concerns on March 25th, the day after Barr released his summary clearing Trump of obstruction of justice. On April 9, Barr testified to Congress that Mueller declined an opportunity to review his summary of "principal conclusions." Barr also previously testified that he did not know if Mueller supported his conclusion on the question of possible obstruction. (Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / New York Times / Politico / CNN / The Guardian)

2/ House Democrats threatened to hold Barr in contempt of Congress after he refused to appear at a House Judiciary Committee hearing and ignored a subpoena deadline to hand over Mueller's full report and evidence. Barr is boycotting the hearing over the ground rules for his testimony, which allots time for attorneys from the Democratic and Republican sides of the panel to question him. Jerry Nadler said he would give Barr "one or two more days" to produce the full Mueller report before initiating contempt proceedings. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / Axios / Reuters)

  • The House Judiciary Committee mocked Barr with a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken and an empty chair. (CNN)

3/ The White House accused Mueller's team of failing "to act as prosecutors and only as prosecutors." In an April 19th letter to Barr, White House lawyer Emmet Flood wrote that Mueller needed to "either ask the grand jury to return an indictment or decline to charge the case," despite Justice Department guidelines saying that a sitting president cannot be charged. Flood also claimed that Trump's decision allowing advisers to cooperate with Mueller's probe does not extend to congressional oversight investigations, and that Trump has the right to instruct advisers not to testify. (CNN / Reuters)

poll/ 56% of Americans saying Trump is doing a good job on the economy – a new high on his economic approval rating. (CNN)


Notables.

  1. The Trump administration had "no way to link" thousands of separated migrant parents and children, according to newly obtained emails from ICE and Health and Human Services officials. Officials resorted to using a spreadsheet and manually reviewing all of the records associated with the nearly 3,000 families that were separated at the border. On the same day a Health and Human Services official told ICE officials they had "no way to link" separated families, DHS issued a fact sheet claiming that the "United States government knows the location of all children in its custody and is working to reunite them with their families." The fact sheet also asserted that DHS had "a process established to ensure that family members know the location of their children," which included "a central database which HHS and DHS can access and update." At the time, no such database existed. (NBC News)

  2. The Trump administration formally filed a request to strike down the entire Affordable Care Act, arguing in a federal appeals court filing that the legislation was unconstitutional. 21 million Americans and millions more who benefit from the law's protections for people with pre-existing conditions, and required coverage for pregnancy, prescription drugs, and mental health. (New York Times)

  3. The Trump administration tried to remove references to climate change from an international statement on Arctic policy. The administration objected "to any mention of climate change whatsoever" in a nonbinding declaration of goals and principles among the eight Arctic nations. (Washington Post)

  4. The House passed the Climate Action Now Act, which would require Trump to develop a plan for the U.S. to meet the Paris agreement goals to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions economy-wide. The act would also block federal funds from being used to advance the formal U.S. withdrawal from the 2015 climate accord. Mitch McConnell said the Senate will not take up the legislation, dismissing the bill as "political theater" by Democrats. (Reuters)

  5. Trump won't nominate Stephen Moore for a seat on the Federal Reserve board. The news came hours after Moore said he was "all in" for the job. Trump withdrew Moore from consideration after Republican lawmakers criticized Moore's past comments about women, including that they should not earn more than men. (New York Times / Reuters / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / CNN)

  6. At least seven foreign governments were allowed to rent condominiums in Trump World Tower in 2017 without approval from Congress. The 1982 Foreign Missions Act requires foreign governments to get State Department clearance for any purchase, lease, sale, or other use of a property in the U.S., and the emoluments clause bans U.S. officials from accepting gifts or payments from foreign governments without congressional consent. (Reuters)

Day 832: "Context, nature, and substance."

1/ Robert Mueller twice objected to Attorney General William Barr's four-page summary to Congress, saying the memo "did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this office's work and conclusions." Barr's summary claimed that the Mueller investigation "did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government" and that Mueller "did not draw a conclusion — one way or the other —as to whether the examined conduct constituted obstruction." Mueller, however, sent a letter to Barr on March 27th – three days after Barr issued his summary – citing "public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation" that "threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the department appointed the special counsel: to assure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigations." Mueller asked the Justice Department to release the 448-page report's introductions and executive summaries, making some initial suggested redactions that Mueller believed would "alleviate the misunderstandings that have arisen and would answer congressional and public questions about the nature and outcome of our investigation." Mueller's office first informed the Justice Department of their concerns on March 25th, the day after Barr released his summary clearing Trump of obstruction of justice. On April 9, Barr testified to Congress that Mueller declined an opportunity to review his summary of "principal conclusions." Barr also previously testified that he did not know if Mueller supported his conclusion on the question of possible obstruction. (Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / New York Times / Politico / CNN / The Guardian)

2/ Barr testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, answering questions about Mueller's report for the first time since publicly releasing a redacted version of the report. Barr blamed the media for "reading too much" into his initial summary. He insisted that he did not misrepresent Mueller's report and downplayed the significance of Mueller's multiple complaints that the summary did not capture the report's full context. Barr called Mueller's complaint letter "a bit snitty" and questioned why Mueller's team investigated instances of potential obstruction of justice if he knew he couldn't charge Trump with a crime under Justice Department restrictions. Barr, however, admitted that he had not reviewed all of the evidence before declaring it "not sufficient to establish that the president committed an obstruction of justice offense." Barr also claimed that Trump had "fully cooperated" with the investigation and that Trump's multiple attempts to remove Mueller for alleged "conflicts" were not the same as firing the special counsel and did not constitute obstruction of justice. Democrats, meanwhile, accused Barr of "purposely misleading" Congress and the public about Mueller's report. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / NBC News / CNN / Axios)

  • Adam Schiff called on Barr to resign. The House Intelligence chairman argued that Barr "willingly misled the Congress" during his testimony on April 9 when Barr said he wasn't aware of reports that several people on Mueller's team were frustrated with Barr's summary of the findings in the Mueller report. (CNN / Daily Beast / The Hill)

  • Barr falsely claimed that the Trump was never briefed by the FBI about the threat posed by Russia during the 2016 campaign, saying "I can't fathom why it did not happen." Sen. John Cornyn then accused Obama of failing to stop the Russian threat, claiming the Justice Department and FBI "decided to place their bets on Hillary Clinton and focus their efforts on investigating the Trump campaign." Following a break, Barr walked back his claim, saying "a security briefing that generally discusses general threats, apparently was given to the campaign in August." (Talking Points Memo / Axios)

  • 📌 Day 333: 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)

  • [OPINION] James Comey on Trump influencing Barr: "He has eaten your soul." (New York Times)

3/ The House Judiciary Committee is discussing whether to hold Barr in contempt of Congress if he skips tomorrow's scheduled hearing or ignores their subpoena for Mueller's full report. The committee voted to allow staff lawyers to question Barr at Thursday's hearing. Barr has said he will not appear under that format. Barr has until the end of the day to hand over the full Mueller report. He is not expected to comply. [Breaking news… Barr declined to testify before the House Judiciary Committee tomorrow, according to a committee aide. The decision comes after Democrats on the committee demanded that Barr face questions from the committee's lawyers.] (Washington Post / Politico / CNN)

4/ Mueller is reportedly willing to testify before the House Judiciary Committee, but the Department of Justice has "been reluctant to confirm a date." It's unclear whether Mueller's testimony about his investigation into Russian election interference and attempts by Trump to obstruct the probe would take place in public or behind closed doors. Chairman Jerry Nadler asked the Justice Department that Mueller appear for questioning no later than May 23rd. (Reuters / Daily Beast)

5/ The White House rejected the House Oversight Committee's request for documents related to the security clearance process. The committee request came following accusations that the Trump administration granted security clearances to more than two dozen officials over the objections of career officials. Chairman Elijah Cummings called the move "the latest example of the president's widespread and growing obstruction of Congress." (Politico / Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 802: Senior Trump administration officials overturned and granted at least 25 security clearances – including two current senior White House officials – to people who were initially denied by career employees for "serious disqualifying issues" in their backgrounds. Tricia Newbold, a whistleblower working in the White House Personnel Security Office, told the House Oversight and Reform Committee that she warned her superiors that clearances "were not always adjudicated in the best interest of national security." Oversight Committee chairman Elijah Cummings said he was prepared to authorize subpoenas to compel the White House to comply with an investigation into whether national secrets were at risk. Newbold claims she was retaliated against for declining to issue security clearances, including being suspended without pay for 14 days. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / Associated Press / CNN / Wall Street Journal)

  • 📌 Day 805: Jared Kushner was among one of the 25 White House officials whose security clearance was initially denied but later overturned. A whistleblower in the White House's personnel security office said she and another career employee determined that Kushner had too many "significant disqualifying factors" to receive a clearance. (Washington Post)

poll/ 43% of Americans approve of the job Trump is doing as president – his highest approval level since April 2017. 52% disapprove. (CNN)

poll/ 46% of voters say that Trump's Twitter use hurts his reelection campaign while 22% say it helps his reelection efforts. 60% say Trump's use of Twitter is "a bad thing" compared to 19% who say it is "a good thing." (Politico)


Notables.

  1. A federal judge ruled that Congressional Democrats can move forward with their lawsuit against Trump alleging that his private businesses represent unconstitutional gifts or payments from foreign governments. Judge Emmet Sullivan allowed the emoluments case to move forward, refusing a request from the White House to dismiss the case under Trump's narrow definition of the word "emoluments." The case alleges that, without seeking approval from Congress, Trump received payments from foreign governments for hotel rooms and events, plus licensing fees for his show "The Apprentice" and intellectual property rights from China. (Washington Post)

  2. A bill authorizing the release of state tax returns to Congress is expected to be taken up on the floor of the New York State Senate next week. If passed, it would allow the tax commissioner to hand over any New York tax returns at the request of the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee or the Joint Committee on Taxation. (CNN)

  3. The White House asked Congress for $4.5 billion in emergency aid to address migrants crossing the southern border. Trump is seeking $3.3 billion in humanitarian assistance and $1.1 billion for border operations. (Politico / Washington Post)

  4. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was sentenced to 50 weeks in a British prison for jumping bail and taking refuge in Ecuador's Embassy in London seven years ago. (New York Times / Washington Post)

  5. The Alabama House passed a bill that would criminalize abortion. If signed into law, doctors would face felony jail time up to 99 years if convicted of performing an abortion at any stage of a pregnancy, unless a woman's life is threatened. The legislation is part of an anti-abortion strategy to challenge Roe v. Wade. (NPR / CNN)

  6. After the firefighters union endorsed Joe Biden, Trump fired off 59 retweets in 20 minutes from users claiming that firefighters do not support Biden. Trump called the International Association of Fire Fighters a "dues sucking union." (NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post)

Day 831: Meritless.

1/ The Justice Department and the House Judiciary Committee are at an impasse over Attorney General William Barr's scheduled testimony. Barr is set to testify about his handling of the conclusions reached by Robert Mueller on Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee and Thursday before the House Judiciary committee. The House hearing, however, is now in doubt over a dispute about who would question Barr. Democrats want part of the questioning be conducted by the panel's Democratic and Republican staff attorneys. Justice Department officials have threatened to cancel Barr's appearance over the proposed format. House Democratic staffers, meanwhile, have threatened to subpoena the attorney general if he refuses to appear. House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler added that the Justice Department seemed to be "very afraid" to have Barr answer questions from committee staff attorneys. (Washington Post / Politico / CNN / Axios)

  • Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee members called on the Justice Department's inspector general to investigate Barr's handling of the Mueller report. Democrats accused Barr of misleading the public with his four-page summary of Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 election before releasing the full report. "It is unclear what statute, regulation, or policy led the Attorney General to interject his own conclusion that the President’s conduct did not amount to obstruction of justice," the Democratic senators wrote. (Politico)

  • 🔍 House Committee Investigations into Trump

  • Justice Department prosecutors are trying to block Roger Stone from reviewing unredacted portions of Mueller's report before his November trial. Stone's lawyers want review pertinent sections of the report about Stone, as well as internal memos from the special counsel's office. Sections in Mueller's report were blacked-out because they could cause "harm to an ongoing matter." (CNN)

  • Prosecutors subpoenaed Randy Credico to testify against Stone. Credico is expected to highlight Stone's efforts to connect with WikiLeaks during the 2016 election about Hillary Clinton's emails, as well as Stone's alleged attempts to intimidate Credico into repeating his version of events. (Politico)

  • A federal appeals court rejected a request to reexamine the constitutionality of Mueller's appointment. Andrew Miller's attorneys tried to stop a subpoena compelling Miller to testify before a federal grand jury about Roger Stone by citing alleged flaws in Mueller's appointment. (Politico)

2/ Trump mocked national security officials preparing for Russian interference in the 2020 election. Trump suggested that "China is the only game in town" and predicted that "other countries" would try to emulate Russia's efforts. In several meetings, Trump repeatedly told advisers that Russia didn't change a single vote in 2016 – even though his advisers never suggested that Russia did. He called Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election a "goddamn hoax" and insisted that his campaign was not "hacked." Trump's reported lack of focus on election security has made it difficult for national security officials to implement a comprehensive approach to preserving the integrity of the electoral process. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer blamed the Trump administration for "not forcefully and adequately responding to the attack on our democracy" that Mueller describes in his report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. (Washington Post / Politico)

  • 📌 Day 825: Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney instructed aides not to mention Russian election interference in the 2020 election in front of Trump, calling it not "a great subject" that should be kept below his level." Mulvaney reportedly "made it clear" to aides that Trump still compares discussions about Russian election meddling with "questions about the legitimacy of his victory." (New York Times)

  • 📌 Day 827: FBI Director Christopher Wray: Russia "poses a very significant counterintelligence threat." Earlier this week Jared Kushner downplayed Russian interference, suggesting that the Mueller investigation was more harmful to the U.S. It was also reported this week that senior White House staff have felt "it wasn't a good idea to bring up issues related to Russia in front of the President." (CNN)

3/ The House Intelligence Committee will make a criminal referral to the Justice Department about potential false testimony by Erik Prince. Chairman Adam Schiff said "the evidence strongly suggests that [Prince] misled our committee" about a meeting in the Seychelles islands nine days before Trump took office between Prince and a Russian financier close to Putin. Prince told the committee that it was a chance meeting, but the Mueller report revealed communications showing that it was planned. Prince is the founder of private military contractor Blackwater, the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, and a Trump ally. (Washington Post / Axios)

  • 📌 Day 442: Robert Mueller has evidence that questions Erik Prince's congressional testimony about a chance meeting last year in the Seychelles with Kirill Dmitriev, the manager of a state-run Russian investment fund close to Putin. George Nader, a cooperating witness with limited immunity, told investigators that he facilitated and personally attended a meeting between Prince and Dmitriev days before Trump was inaugurated. The goal of the meeting was to discuss foreign policy and to establish a line of communication between the Russian government and the incoming Trump administration. Prince told the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in November that "I didn't fly there to meet any Russian guy," and the meeting with Dmitriev was unexpected. Prince founded the private military contractor Blackwater USA and is the brother of Betsy DeVos, who serves as Trump's secretary of education. As of late March, Mueller's team has not asked Prince to appear before the grand jury. (ABC News)

  • 📌 Day 483: Mueller's team is examining a series of meetings that took place in the Seychelles, which have been characterized as an attempt by the U.S. to set up a backchannel with Russia. A Russian plane, owned by Andrei Skoch, a Russian billionaire and deputy in the Russian State Duma, the country's legislative body, flew into the Seychelles a day prior to the 2017 meeting. (NJ.com)

4/ Trump, his family, and the Trump Organization are suing Deutsche Bank and Capital One to block their compliance with subpoenas from House Democrats seeking his financial records. Trump's attorneys argue that the subpoenas serve "no legitimate or lawful purpose" and were issued to harass Trump and "rummage through every aspect of his personal finances, his businesses, and the private information of the President and his family." House Democrats called it a "meritless lawsuit" that was "only designed to put off meaningful accountability as long as possible" in order to "obstruct Congress's constitutional oversight authority." The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Trump, Trump Jr., Eric Trump, Ivanka Trump, and the Trump Organization. Deutsche Bank and Capital One intend to begin providing documents to the House on May 6th, absent court intervention. (New York Times / Politico / Axios / CNBC / CNN)

  • 📌 Day 817: House Democrats subpoenaed Deutsche Bank for Trump's personal and financial records. Democrats also subpoenaed JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, and Citigroup for documents related to possible Russian money laundering. Maxine Waters said Trump's "potential use of the U.S. financial system for illicit purposes is a very serious concern" and that the House Intelligence and Financial Services committees will "follow the facts wherever they may lead us." Deutsche Bank reportedly requested a so-called "friendly subpoena" from the committees before it would comply with their request. The Trump Organization, meanwhile, said it was looking at options to block Deutsche Bank from complying with the subpoena. (New York Times / CNN / Politico / Reuters / Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 825: Deutsche Bank is providing financial records to New York state's attorney general following a subpoena for documents related to loans made to Trump and the Trump Organization. The bank is turning over emails and loan documents related to the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC, the Trump National Doral Miami, the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago, and the unsuccessful effort to buy the Buffalo Bills. The New York attorney general's office opened the investigation following Michael Cohen's testimony to Congress that Trump had inflated his assets. (CNN)

5/ Trump ordered new restrictions on asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border. In a memo sent to Kevin McAleenan, the acting secretary of homeland security, and Barr, Trump ordered the development of new regulations to ban asylum seekers from obtaining work permits who crossed the border illegally, impose application fees for asylum seekers, limit access to additional relief, and more. There are more than 800,000 asylum cases pending, with an average wait time of almost two years. Trump ordered that the courts to settle all current asylum claims within 180 days. (Washington Post / CNN / NBC News / New York Times / Politico)


Notables.

  1. The Trump administration wants to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a foreign terrorist organization. The White House directed national security and diplomatic officials to find ways to sanction the group after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi urged Trump in a private meeting to brand the movement a terrorist organization. The designation would result in wide-ranging political and economic sanctions against the group, as well as travel restrictions on companies and individuals who interact with them. Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump is consulting with his national security team and that the designation is "working its way through the internal process." (New York Times)

  2. Trump's 2020 campaign manager gave a paid speech to a room full of Romanian politicians last month. Brad Parscale's appearance doesn't break any laws as long as he doesn't do any lobbying in the U.S. on behalf of foreign clients without registering. Parscale charges $15,000 to $25,000 in speaker fees and promotes his insider's knowledge as Trump's 2016 digital media director. (Washington Post)

🎉 Good News from the Resistance: The importance of following Obama on Twitter. [Editor's note: Super excited to announce that I’ve teamed up with Marla Felcher to share her Good News from the Resistance blog with the WTF community… because we could all use some good news right now.]

Day 830: Personal conversations.

1/ Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein resigned, effective May 11th. In his resignation letter to Trump, Rosenstein writes "I am grateful to you for the opportunity to serve; for the courtesy and humor you often display in our personal conversations." Rosenstein's successor, Jeffrey Rosen, currently the No. 2 official at the Transportation Department, is awaiting a confirmation vote by the Senate. Rosenstein appointed Robert Mueller to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. [Breaking news… stay tuned for updates] (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / CNN / NPR)

  • 📌 Day 110: Trump fired James Comey on the recommendation of Jeff Sessions. In a letter dated Tuesday to Comey, Trump concurred "with the judgment of the Department of Justice that [Comey is not] able to effectively lead the bureau." Earlier today, the FBI notified Congress that Comey misstated key findings involving the Clinton email investigation during testimony, saying that only a "small number" of emails had been forwarded to disgraced congressman Anthony Weiner, not the "hundreds and thousands" he’d claimed in his testimony. The move sweeps away the man who is responsible for the investigation into whether members of Trump's campaign team colluded with Russia in its interference in last year's election. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein laid out the reasons for Comey's firing, arguing that the handling of his investigation into Clinton's private server, his decision not to recommend charges be filed, and the news conference he held to explain his reasoning were the cause of his dismissal. Democrats reacted with shock and alarm, accusing Trump of ousting the FBI director to escape scrutiny over his campaign’s Russia ties. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer urged deputy Rosenstein to appoint a special prosecutor for the federal probe into the Trump campaign’s ties with Russian officials — warning that failing to do so will lead the public to “rightly suspect” that Comey’s surprise firing “was part of a cover-up.” (Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / CNN / Politico)

  • 📌 Day 118: Rod Rosenstein appointed former FBI Director Bob Mueller to oversee the investigation of Russian interference in election. Mueller will take command of the prosecutors and FBI agents who are working on the far reachingRussia investigation. Trump said that he expects the probe will find no collusion between his 2016 White House campaign and foreign countries, calling the Russia inquiry a “taxpayer-funded charade." (NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post / Politico)

  • 📌 Day 610: Rod Rosenstein raised the idea of wearing a wire last year to secretly record Trump in the White House and expose the chaos in the administration, according to memos written by Andrew McCabe, then the acting FBI director. Rosenstein also discussed recruiting Jeff Sessions and John Kelly, then the secretary of homeland security, to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove Trump from office. Rosenstein called the report "inaccurate and factually incorrect," adding: "Based on my personal dealings with the president, there is no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment." At least one person who was present for the discussions said Rosenstein was joking. (New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg / Associated Press)

  • 📌 Day 827: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein defended his handling of the Russia investigation, attacked the media for how it was covered and blamed the Obama administration for not revealing "the full story" about Russia's efforts. Speaking at the Public Servants Dinner of the Armenian Bar Association, Rosenstein recalled how he had promised to "do it right" during his Senate confirmation hearing and "take it to the appropriate conclusion," while attacking what he called "mercenary critics," politicians and the news media. Rosenstein, however, also warned that hacking and social media ma­nipu­la­tion are "only the tip of the iceberg" when it comes to Russian efforts to influence American elections. (NBC News / Washington Post / Politico / CNN)

2/ Jerry Nadler threatened to subpoena Attorney General William Barr if he refuses to testify about the Mueller report before the House Judiciary Committee this week. Barr disagrees with the committee's proposed format and has threatened to skip the hearing if Democrats don't change the terms of his appearance, which Nadler said the committee has no plans to do. If Barr doesn't appear, "we will have to subpoena him, and we will have to use whatever means we can to enforce the subpoena." (New York Times / CNN / Politico)

3/ Trump accused the New York attorney general's office of "illegally" investigating the NRA after it opened an investigation into potential financial and disclosure misconduct by the gun rights group. The probe was launched after NRA President Oliver North accused Wayne LaPierre, chief executive officer, of financial misconduct, including the improper use of $200,000 of NRA funds to purchase clothing from an NRA vendor. Trump encouraged the NRA to "get its act together quickly" because it's a "very important organization" that is "under siege" by Democrats. (CNN / Wall Street Journal / The Guardian)

4/ A pair of legal watchdog organizations are suing the FEC for failing to act on complaints that claim the NRA illegally coordinated with the Trump campaign and other Republican candidates in recent elections. The gun-control group Giffords, along with the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center Action, allege that the FEC missed a 120-day deadline to act on four complaints brought by the groups, which claim that the NRA skirted contribution limits to provide unfair advantages to Trump and other GOP candidates. (CNN / ABC News)

5/ A gunman yelling anti-Semitic slurs armed with a semiautomatic rifle opened fire on a synagogue in California, killing one person and injuring three. The shooting is being investigated as a possible homicide, hate crime and federal civil rights violation. John Earnest reportedly posted a manifesto full of anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim views and claiming responsibility before the shooting on the online message board 8chan. Trump offered his condolences to members of the synagogue, saying Americans "forcefully condemn the evil of anti-Semitism and hate." (Los Angeles Times / NPR / New York Times / Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 803: The Department of Homeland Security quietly disbanded its domestic terrorism unit last year, saying that the threat of "homegrown violent extremism and domestic terrorism," including the threat from white supremacists, has been "significantly reduced." The branch of analysts in DHS's Office of Intelligence and Analysis were reassigned to new positions. (Daily Beast)

  • 📌 Day 827: Trump defended his 2017 comment that there were "very fine people on both sides" of the white supremacist protests in Charlottesville, in which an avowed neo-Nazi rammed his car into a group of protesters, killing a woman and injuring dozens of others. At the time, Trump condemned what happened "on many sides," arguing there were "very fine people on both sides" of the incident. Now, nearly two years later, Trump stands by his statement, claiming that he answered questions about the incident in Charlottesville "perfectly." Trump's comments came a day after Joe Biden launched his presidential campaign with a video comparing the violence and racism displayed in Charlottesville to Trump's response. The "Unite the Right" rally was organized by self-proclaimed white nationalist Richard Spencer. (Washington Post / Politico / CBS News / Bloomberg / CNN)

poll/ 55% of Americans say they "definitely would not" vote for Trump in the 2020 election, while 28% definitely would and another 14% would consider him for a second term. Trump won 46.1% of the popular vote compared to Hillary Clinton's 48.2% in 2016. 75% of Americans, and 85% of registered voters, say they're certain to vote in the 2020 election. (ABC News)

poll/ 42% of voters say Trump's handling of the economy makes them more likely to vote for him in 2020, while 32% say it makes them less likely to support him. (Washington Post)

poll/ 43% of Americans say they have either benefited a great deal or some from recent growth in the U.S. economy. 54%, however, say they have either not been helped much or not at all from the nation's growing economy. (Monmouth)


Notables.

  1. Steven Mnuchin: Trade talks between the United States and China are "getting to the final laps." Mnuchin is traveling to China today with Trump's top trade negotiator, Robert Lighthizer, to try to resolve the remaining disagreements between the two countries. Chinese officials are expected to come to the U.S. on May 8 to hammer out the final details and possibly conclude the negotiations. (New York Times)

  2. Mitch McConnell signed a T-shirt joking about the death of former Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland. The T-shirt shows Garland's face surrounded by the dates 3/16/16 and 1/3/17, with the caption "gone but not forgotten." (Daily Beast)

  3. The White House is reviewing past writings by Trump's potential nominee to the Federal Reserve Board. Stephen Moore wrote a column for the National Review in 2014, saying women earning more than men "could be disruptive to family stability." (New York Times)

  4. Trump has made more than 10,000 false or misleading statements since taking office. Trump reached 5,000 claims on day 601 of his presidency, but he reached the 10,000 mark just 226 days later. Trump averaged nearly 23 false or misleading claims per day during that seven-month period. As of April 27, the tally stood at 10,111 false or misleading claims in just 828 days. (Washington Post)

Day 827: Defensive.

1/ Trump defended his 2017 comment that there were "very fine people on both sides" of the white supremacist protests in Charlottesville, in which an avowed neo-Nazi rammed his car into a group of protesters, killing a woman and injuring dozens of others. At the time, Trump condemned what happened "on many sides," arguing there were "very fine people on both sides" of the incident. Now, nearly two years later, Trump stands by his statement, claiming that he answered questions about the incident in Charlottesville "perfectly." Trump's comments came a day after Joe Biden launched his presidential campaign with a video comparing the violence and racism displayed in Charlottesville to Trump's response. The "Unite the Right" rally was organized by self-proclaimed white nationalist Richard Spencer. (Washington Post / Politico / CBS News / Bloomberg / CNN)

[ANALYSIS] Trump tried to re-write his own history on Charlottesville and "both sides." But some Trump supporters — and now Trump himself — have argued that he was taken out of context. They say he wasn't referring to neo-Nazis, white supremacists and white nationalists when he referred to "very fine people" on both sides, but rather some other people who shared their cause of saving a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee. (Washington Post)

  • Trumps advisers: Biden poses the biggest threat to Trump's re-election. (Politico)

  • A Fox News reporter called out two of his colleagues for sounding "like a White Supremacist chat room" when they attempted to defend Trump's "both sides" comment about white supremacists in Charlottesville. (Daily Beast)

2/ Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein defended his handling of the Russia investigation, attacked the media for how it was covered and blamed the Obama administration for not revealing "the full story" about Russia's efforts. Speaking at the Public Servants Dinner of the Armenian Bar Association, Rosenstein recalled how he had promised to "do it right" during his Senate confirmation hearing and "take it to the appropriate conclusion," while attacking what he called "mercenary critics," politicians and the news media. Rosenstein, however, also warned that hacking and social media ma­nipu­la­tion are "only the tip of the iceberg" when it comes to Russian efforts to influence American elections. (NBC News / Washington Post / Politico / CNN)

  • FBI Director Christopher Wray: Russia "poses a very significant counterintelligence threat." Earlier this week Jared Kushner downplayed Russian interference, suggesting that the Mueller investigation was more harmful to the U.S. It was also reported this week that senior White House staff have felt "it wasn't a good idea to bring up issues related to Russia in front of the President." (CNN)

3/ Trump called the Russia investigation "an attempted overthrow of the United States government," claiming "this was a coup." In an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity, Trump complained that Mueller and his team had gone "hog wild to find something about the administration which obviously wasn't there" and had spent the last two years "ruining [the] lives" of people associated with his 2016 campaign. Trump called the special counsel investigation "far bigger than Watergate" and "possibly the biggest scandal in political history," characterizing the investigation as a "one-sided witch hunt" by "angry Democrats" who are "very serious Trump haters." He warned that some people involved in the investigation should be "very nervous." (Politico / CNN / Vox)

4/ Russian agent Maria Butina was sentenced to 18-months in prison for conspiring to act as a foreign agent. Butina pleaded guilty to conspiring with then-Russian Central Bank official Alexander Torshin to gain access to the National Rifle Association and other groups since 2015. The Justice Department recommended an 18-month sentence, citing "substantial assistance" that Butina provided to investigators. She will be deported to Russia after her prison term ends. (Daily Beast / New York Times / Washington Post / BuzzFeed News)

poll/ 56% of Americans oppose starting impeachment proceedings against Trump following Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. 37% support starting the process. Among Democrats, 62% support Congress beginning impeachment proceedings, while 87% of Republicans are opposed. (Washington Post)


Notables.

  1. A federal judge ordered the Trump administration identify all of the migrant children separated from their parents at the border. The judge gave the administration six months to figure it out. (NPR)

  2. The Pentagon is preparing to expand the military's involvement in Trump's operation along the southern border by changing rules that prevent troops from interacting with migrants entering the U.S. The Department of Homeland Security requested that the Defense Department provide military lawyers, cooks and drivers to assist with handling migrants along the southern border. (Washington Post)

  3. Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly threatened to jail White House officials who refuse to comply with oversight or testimony requests from congressional committees. Connolly sits on the House Oversight Committee, and warned that the committee would use "any and all power in our command" to ensure compliance with its requests and subpoenas, "whether that's a contempt citation, whether that's going to court and getting that citation enforced, whether it's fines, whether it's possible incarceration." (CNN)

  4. The White House is calling on key Republicans in Congress to raise the debt ceiling in order to avoid a budget impasse that could damage the economy later in the year. (Washington Post)

  5. Trump denied that the U.S. paid North Korea in exchange for the return of Otto Warmbier, disputing the report that he approved a $2 million payment to Pyongyang. North Korea sent the Treasury Department a bill for $2 million, which remained unpaid through 2017. It's unclear whether Trump ever paid the invoice. (Reuters)

  6. Trump now says children "have to get their shots" because "vaccinations are so important." In 2015, Trump erroneously linked autism to vaccines, and during the presidential transition in 2017, Trump asked Robert Kennedy Jr. to lead a commission on "vaccination safety and scientific integrity." The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced this week that measles cases had surpassed the highest number on record since the disease was declared eliminated nationwide in 2000. (NBC News / CNN)

Day 826: Inherent contempt.

1/ The White House rejected a House Oversight Committee request for Stephen Miller to testify about his role in Trump's immigration policies, including a plan to bus migrants to "sanctuary cities." White House counsel Pat Cipollone said blocking Miller from appearing before the committee follows "long-standing precedent" established by previous administrations. Cipollone said Cabinet secretaries and other executive branch officials would instead provide "reasonable accommodation" for requests and questions from the committee on immigration policy issues. (CNN / Politico / ABC News)

2/ House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler suggested fining officials personally for noncompliance with congressional subpoenas. In order to do so, the House would need to vote on a new rule to allow it to fine people outside the court system. The House could also vote to hold officials in contempt or sue to enforce the subpoena in court, which could take months or years. This week alone the White House directed a former personnel security official to not appear at a scheduled House Oversight Committee deposition, blocked former White House counsel Donald McGahn from testifying to the House Judiciary Committee, and the Justice Department ignored a subpoena from the Oversight Committee for testimony about the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. The Treasury Department also ignored the House's deadline to turn Trump's tax returns over to the Ways and Means Committee, and Trump sued to block a subpoena of his accounting firm. (Bloomberg / CNN / Washington Post / New York Times / Axios)

3/ Trump claimed he never told Donald McGahn to fire Robert Mueller weeks after he was appointed in 2017, "even though I had the legal right to do so." The statement runs counter to Mueller's report, which detailed "McGahn's clear recollection" of two phone calls in June 2017, where Trump "directed [McGahn] to call" Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and have Mueller "removed" because he "has to go." Trump also urged McGahn to dispute media reports that he had attempted to fire Mueller. (NBC News / Reuters)

4/ Trump's re-election campaign refused to rule out using hacked information. The Democratic National Committee and the party's 2020 candidates, meanwhile, have pledged not to use illegally obtained information to their advantage. Mueller's report outlined how the Russian government interfered in the 2016 race in "sweeping and systematic fashion" in order to help Trump win, and that the Trump team expected to "benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts." (NBC News)


Notables.

  1. Trump tried multiple times to get Jeff Sessions to "unrecuse" himself and re-open an investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server, according to the Mueller report. No evidence has emerged showing that Sessions ever acted on any of Trump's requests to have Clinton's case reopened. The first instance was in mid-2017 when Trump called Sessions at home and asked him to unrecuse himself from "all of it" and go after Clinton. The second instance was after a cabinet meeting in December 2017. Trump pulled Sessions aside and said, "I don't know if you could unrecuse yourself. You'd be a hero. Not telling you to do anything." (New York Times)

  2. Joe Biden is officially running for president. Biden made the announcement in a video posted online, in which he criticizes Trump's handling of the white nationalist attack in Charlottesville, VA and warns that "We are in the battle for the soul of this nation." He is currently leading in the polls among Democratic primary voters. (NBC News / CBS News / CNN / New York Times / Washington Post)

  3. Trump agreed to pay North Korea $2 million for Otto Warmbier, the college student who was a prisoner in Pyongyang. Before releasing the comatose Warmbier in 2017, North Korea insisted that the U.S. sign a pledge to pay the bill. The bill was sent to the Treasury Department, but it's unclear whether the Trump administration ever paid the bill. In September 2018, Trump claimed his administration paid "nothing" to get "hostages" out of North Korea. (Washington Post / CNN)

  4. Sarah Huckabee Sanders held her first press briefing in 46 days. It was for children, mostly off the record, and lasted about 28 minutes. Since Nov. 1st, Sanders has held three briefings. (Bloomberg / Washington Post)

Day 825: Transparency.

1/ Trump: "We're fighting all the subpoenas" by House Democrats. "Subpoenas are ridiculous," Trump said, claiming "I have been the most transparent president and administration in the history of our country by far." House Democratic leaders have issued dozens of requests for information or cooperation from Trump, his administration and his associates. Trump has blocked his administration from cooperating with requests for his tax returns, information about White House security clearances, the 2020 census, and more. (CNBC / Politico / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

2/ Trump will oppose requests for current and former White House aides to testify to Congress, saying there is "no reason to go any further, and especially in Congress where it's very partisan – obviously very partisan." White House lawyers plan to assert executive privilege over testimony by Trump administration witnesses called by the House to try and block their congressional testimony. Trump confusingly tweeted "I didn't call [the reporter at] the Washington Post, he called me (Returned his call)!" (Washington Post)

  • Trump's recent tweets and public statements are potentially exposing him to new charges of witness intimidation, obstruction of justice and impeding a congressional investigation, according to Democrats and legal experts. (Politico)

3/ The White House is trying to block a subpoena by the House Judiciary Committee to former White House counsel Don McGahn for testimony about the Mueller report. McGahn was mentioned more than 150 times in Mueller's report, telling investigators about how Trump pressured him to have Mueller fired and then urged McGahn to publicly deny the episode. The subpoena set a May 7th deadline for documents and a May 21st deadline for McGahn to testify before the committee. Jerry Nadler called the White House's effort to block the subpoena "one more act of obstruction by an administration desperate to prevent the public from talking about the president's behavior." Trump has reportedly told advisers that McGahn was disloyal to him, in part because of McGahn's notes from meetings were cited in Mueller's report. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / New York Times)

4/ The Justice Department refused to comply with a congressional subpoena for a Trump administration official to testify about the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. The House Oversight and Reform Committee is investigating the addition of the citizenship question despite evidence that it could lead to millions of people being undercounted. John Gore's refusal to appear before the committee is at the direction of Attorney General William Barr. Gore is the principal deputy assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's civil rights division. (CNN / Washington Post)

  • Trump defended the addition of the citizenship question on the 2020 census, saying "the American people deserve to know who is in this country." The Commerce Department, however, has repeatedly claimed the question would be added as part of an effort to better protect voting rights. (Politico)

5/ Trump, claiming he "DID NOTHING WRONG," plans to "head to the U.S. Supreme Court" if Democrats "ever tried to Impeach." The Supreme Court, however, ruled unanimously in 1993 that authority for impeachment resides in Congress and "nowhere else." According to the Constitution, the House "shall have the sole Power of Impeachment" and the Senate "shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments." (Bloomberg / Politico / Washington Post)


Notables.

  1. Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney instructed aides not to mention Russian election interference in the 2020 election in front of Trump, calling it not "a great subject" that should be kept below his level." Mulvaney reportedly "made it clear" to aides that Trump still compares discussions about Russian election meddling with "questions about the legitimacy of his victory." (New York Times)

  2. Mulvaney claimed he doesn't remember telling staffers not to mention election security to Trump. "I don't recall anything along those lines happening in any meeting," Mulvaney said in a statement. (Politico)

  3. The Justice Department contradicted Jared Kushner's characterization that Russia's influence campaign in the U.S. was limited to "buying some Facebook ads and trying to sow dissent." The filing describes how the actions of Russian spy Maria Butina contained all the markings of a sophisticated intelligence operation. The filing also argues that it doesn't take a master spy for such an operation to have a significant impact. (Politico)

  4. Deutsche Bank is providing financial records to New York state's attorney general following a subpoena for documents related to loans made to Trump and the Trump Organization. The bank is turning over emails and loan documents related to the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC, the Trump National Doral Miami, the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago, and the unsuccessful effort to buy the Buffalo Bills. The New York attorney general's office opened the investigation following Michael Cohen's testimony to Congress that Trump had inflated his assets. (CNN)

  5. Cohen claimed he wasn't actually guilty of some crimes he pleaded guilty to, saying "there is no tax evasion […] it's a lie." Cohen pleaded guilty to five counts of evading personal income taxes and one count of understating his debt and expenses in an application for a home-equity line of credit. Cohen begins a three-year prison term on May 6th. (Wall Street Journal)

  6. Trump contradicted the Defense Department, claiming that Mexican troops "probably" drew guns on U.S. soldiers at the border as a "diversionary tactic for drug smugglers." The U.S. military, however, said the incident "was an honest mistake by the Mexican soldiers," because U.S. soldiers "were south of the border fence," but "north of the actual border." (Washington Post)

  7. Twitter suspended more than 5,000 pro-Trump bot accounts for "platform manipulation." The accounts were connected to a network that is focused on denouncing the Mueller report as a "hoax." They were also connected to other accounts that have been used to spread pro-Saudi messaging on the platform. An investigation into the network is ongoing but it's still unclear who is behind the campaign. (Ars Technica)

  8. Trump accused Twitter of deliberately tampering with his followers during a private meeting with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. According to a person with direct knowledge of the conversation, Dorsey explained that follower counts fluctuate as the company enforced policies and removed fraudulent spam accounts. (Washington Post)

Day 824: Defiant.

1/ The White House instructed a former security clearance official not to comply with a subpoena to testify before the House Oversight Committee. Carl Kline, former White House personnel security director, was responsible for the Trump administration's security clearance process. He oversaw the approval of at least 25 people for security clearances despite serious concerns raised during the vetting process. Trump's deputy counsel argued in a letter that the subpoena by the committee "unconstitutionally encroaches on fundamental executive branch interests." Kline's attorney, meanwhile, said Kline is being forced to choose between "two masters from two equal branches of government," and that Kline intends to "follow the instructions of the one that employs him." (CNN / Axios / Daily Beast)

2/ The House Oversight Committee moved to hold the former White House personnel security director in contempt of Congress for failing to appear at a hearing investigating lapses in White House security clearance procedures. Kline is accused of overriding career national security officials to approve security clearances for officials whose applications were initially denied. Elijah Cummings, chairman of the committee, said "The White House and Mr. Kline now stand in open defiance of a duly authorized congressional subpoena with no assertion of any privilege of any kind by President Trump." (Politico / Washington Post)

3/ The Treasury Department missed the House Ways and Means Committee deadline to turn over six years of Trump's personal and business tax returns. Earlier in the day, the White House indicated that Trump was "not inclined" to hand over his tax returns and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the administration will make a "final decision" by May 6 on whether to turn over Trump's tax returns. Earlier this month, Mnuchin said "the Treasury Department will not be able to complete its review" by the deadline, due to the "unprecedented nature of this request." (CNN / Wall Street Journal / Politico / HuffPost / Reuters)

  • 📌 Day 784: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin suggested that he would protect Trump's privacy if House Democrats request Trump's tax returns, saying: "We will examine the request and we will follow the law … and we will protect the president as we would protect any taxpayer" regarding their right to privacy. Mnuchin said he "can't speculate" on how the administration will respond to demands for Trump's tax returns until it sees the request. House Democrats are preparing to ask the IRS for 10 years of Trump's personal tax returns under under a 1924 provision that requires the Treasury secretary to "furnish" any individual's tax return information to the House and Senate tax-writing committees. (Associated Press / ABC News / Politico / CNN)

  • 📌 Day 806: Trump's lawyers asked the IRS chief counsel's office to reject House Democrats' request for six years of Trump's personal and business tax returns, saying "it would set a dangerous precedent." Trump's lawyers sent a letter to the IRS counsel's office responsible for responding to the request, calling the request a "gross abuse of power" and that Democrats do not have a "legitimate committee purpose" for obtaining the tax returns. An administration official also said Trump is willing to fight the House Ways and Means Committee request to the Supreme Court. (Wall Street Journal / CNN / Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 812: The Treasure Department missed the deadline set by Democrats to hand over Trump's tax returns. In a letter to the House Ways and Means Committee, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he has "serious issues" with the request for six years of Trump's personal and some business returns. Mnuchin added that he was consulting with the Justice Department as to the "constitutional scope" and "legitimacy of the asserted legislative purpose" of the request. Hours earlier, Trump flatly rejected the request for his tax returns, telling reporters: "I won't do it." The issue could ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court. (Politico / Vox / Washington Post / New York Times)

4/ Jared Kushner claimed – without evidence – that Robert Mueller's investigation was "way more harmful" than Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election. Kushner claimed Mueller's investigation had a "much harsher impact on our democracy" on the U.S. than "a couple Facebook ads" intended "to sow discontent." Mueller's report concluded that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election "in sweeping and systematic fashion," intended to favor Trump and disparage Hillary Clinton. Kushner called the idea that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government "nonsense." Mueller, however, "identified numerous links between the Russian government and the Trump Campaign." (Bloomberg / Politico / CNN / Washington Post / Axios)

  • The Democratic National Committee pledged not to use hacked emails or stolen data in the 2020 presidential election. Chairman Tom Perez challenged the RNC to make the same commitment. (Politico)

  • Paul Manafort is now in federal prison, serving his 7.5 year sentence at a minimum-security facility outside Scranton, Pennsylvania. (NBC News)

5/ The Supreme Court's conservative majority signaled it would allow the Trump administration to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. The census hasn't asked a citizenship question since 1950 and lower courts have blocked the question, ruling that the Trump administration violated federal law and the U.S. Constitution by seeking to include it on the census form. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh, however, directed most of their questions during arguments to the lawyers challenging the decision to ask about citizenship. Courts have found that several states could lose seats in the House, as well as federal money. (New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg / Reuters)

poll/ 39% of voters approve of the job Trump is doing as president – down from 44% last week and ties Trump's lowest-ever approval. (Politico)


Notables.

  1. The Interior Department's Inspector General opened an investigation into whether six of Trump's appointees violated federal ethics rules. The inspector general's office opened the investigation following a complaint that the appointees discussed policy matters with their former employers or clients. (Washington Post)

  2. Oil prices jumped to a six-month high after the White House decided not to renew waivers for countries to buy Iranian oil despite U.S. sanctions. China, India, Turkey, and other countries who import Iranian oil will now face sanctions if they continue to purchase oil from Iran, OPEC's fourth-largest producer, after the waivers are lifted on May 1st. (Bloomberg / Business Insider)

  3. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants to name a new settlement in the Golan Heights after Trump. Netanyahu said there was a "need to express our appreciation" to Trump for officially recognizing Israel's sovereignty over the illegally occupied territory last month. (Politico)

  4. Joe Biden announced he'll announce his plans to run for president in 2020. Biden will officially enter the race on Thursday with an online video, followed by a campaign event in Pittsburgh on Monday. (CNN)

  5. Trump spent the last 24-hours tweeting or retweeting more than 50 times. Trump demanded an apology from The New York Times, complained he doesn't get enough credit for the economy, claimed Twitter discriminates against him, and attacked the "Radical Left Democrats." He offered no evidence to substantiate his various claims. (Politico)

  6. Trump ordered administration officials to boycott the annual White House Correspondents Association dinner. Trump's reversal of previous White House guidance allowing aides to attend Saturday's event came after his Twitter temper tantrum. (Politico)

Day 823: Weapon of choice.

1/ Trump and the Trump Organization sued Democratic House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings to block a subpoena seeking information about his finances. The committee subpoenaed Mazars USA, Trump's longtime accountant, for 10 years' worth of Trump's financial records after the firm requested a so-called "friendly subpoena." Trump's lawyers complained that Democrats have "declared all-out political war" against him, with subpoenas as their "weapon of choice." (CNBC / Politico / Washington Post / CNN) / Axios)

2/ Rudy Giuliani defended the 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russians offering dirt on Hillary Clinton, saying "there's nothing wrong with taking information from Russians." When asked whether it's "okay" to use information stolen by a foreign adversary in service of a presidential candidacy, Giuliani said "it depends on the stolen material." He then added that Russia "shouldn't have stolen it, but the American people were just given more information." (Daily Beast / New York Times / CNN / Washington Post)

3/ The House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed former White House counsel Don McGahn as part of its investigation into obstruction of justice. The subpoena demands that McGahn testify before the committee on May 21st and provide documents on three-dozen topics by May 7th. The committee previously served the Justice Department with a subpoena for the full Mueller report and underlying evidence, demanding the documents by May 1st. (CNN / CNBC)

4/ The Trump campaign hired a new in-house attorney for 2020, shifting its business from McGahn's law firm, Jones Day, that represented Trump since his run for president. McGahn told Robert Mueller's investigators that Trump directed him to call Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and tell him to fire Mueller. McGahn refused. "Why in the world would you want to put your enemy on the payroll?" one adviser close to the White House said. "They do not want to reward [McGahn's] firm." (Politico / Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 820: Trump claimed that statements about him "by certain people" in Mueller's "crazy" report are "total bullshit," made by people trying to make themselves look good and harm him. Close White House advisers said Trump's rage was aimed at former White House counsel Don McGahn, who blocked several attempts by Trump to interfere in Mueller's investigation. Trump continued tweeting: "This was an Illegally Started Hoax that never should have happened, a…" He never finish the statement. (Politico / Bloomberg / Washington Post / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

5/ Trump claimed that "nobody disobeys my orders." Mueller's report, however, repeatedly depicts Trump's multiple "efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests." (CNN)

  • 📌 Day 820: Eight key figures resisted Trump at critical moments: Jeff Sessions refused to unrecuse himself after Trump repeatedly bullied him privately and publicly. White House counsel Don McGahn refused to fire Mueller. Rick Dearborn, who worked for Sessions in the Senate, refused to relay Trump's message for Sessions to limit Mueller's jurisdiction to future election interference, rather than look backward on the 2016 election. Staff Secretary Rob Porter refused Trump's request to call Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand in an attempt "to find someone to end the Russia investigation or fire the Special Counsel." Chris Christie refused to "call [James] Comey and tell him that the President 'really like[s] him. Tell him he's part of the team.'" Rod Rosenstein refused to put out a statement saying it was his idea to fire Comey. K.T. McFarland refused to "draft an internal email that would confirm that the President did not direct [Michael] Flynn to call the Russian Ambassador about sanctions." Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats wouldn't put out a statement saying no link existed between Trump and Russia. (Washington Post)

6/ Trump also claimed that Democrats "can't impeach" him, because "only high crimes and misdemeanors can lead to impeachment" and that "there were no crimes by me." Mueller's investigators found that there was "insufficient evidence" to establish a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and their contacts with Russians. Mueller also examined 10 "episodes" where Trump may have obstructed justice, but that Attorney General William Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein "disagreed with some of Mueller's legal theories and felt that some of the episodes did not amount to obstruction." Mueller found, in part, that those attempts were unsuccessful, because Trump's subordinates refused to carry out his orders. (CNBC)

  • 📌 Day 819: Mueller's office chose not to charge Trump with obstruction out of "fairness concerns," because "we recognized that a federal criminal accusation against a sitting President would place burdens on the President's capacity to govern and potentially preempt constitutional process for addressing presidential misconduct." According to the report, Mueller considered Trump's written answers "inadequate," but knew a subpoena would impose "substantial delay" and they believed they had "sufficient evidence to understand relevant events and to make certain assessments without the President's testimony." Trump stated more than 30 times in his written answers that he "does not 'recall' or 'remember' or have an 'independent recollection'" of information investigators asked about. Mueller, citing numerous legal constraints in his report, declined to exonerate Trump, writing: "If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment." (NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / Wall Street Journal)

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi: "It is clear that [Trump] has, at a minimum, engaged in highly unethical and unscrupulous behavior which does not bring honor to the office he holds." Pelosi, however, noted that "it is … important to know that the facts regarding holding the president accountable can be gained outside of impeachment hearings." (Politico / Associated Press / Washington Post)

poll/ 37% of Americans approved of Trump's job performance – down 3 percentage points to the lowest level of the year following the release of Mueller's report detailing Russian interference in the presidential election. 50% agreed that "Trump or someone from his campaign worked with Russia to influence the 2016 election," and 58% agreed that Trump "tried to stop investigations into Russian influence on his administration." 40% said they thought Trump should be impeached, while 42% said he should not. (Reuters)


Notables.

  1. The Supreme Court will decide whether federal anti-discrimination laws protect on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, agreeing to take up three cases involving sexual orientation in the workplace. The set of cases include a transgender funeral home director who won her case after being fired; a gay skydiving instructor who successfully challenged his dismissal; and a social worker who was unable to convince a court that he was unlawfully terminated because of his sexual orientation. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbids workplace discrimination on the basis of sex. It does not explicitly apply to LGBT individuals. The cases are expected to be argued in the fall. (Washington Post / Politico / New York Times / NBC News)

  2. The State Department will end waivers for countries importing Iranian oil as part of an effort to cut off of Iranian oil exports. China, India and Turkey are among Iran's top customers. The Trump administration said it was working with top oil exporters Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to ensure the oil market was "adequately supplied." The United States decided to leave the Iran nuclear deal about a year ago. (Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / Reuters)

  3. The FBI arrested the leader of a militia group accused of illegally stopping migrants after they crossed the southern U.S. border. Larry Hopkins is the leader of the United Constitutional Patriots. He was arrested in New Mexico on federal charges of being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition. (Reuters / Vox)

  4. Herman Cain withdrew himself from consideration for the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors. Cain ended his campaign after allegations surfaced that he sexually harassed several women while he was running Godfather's Pizza in the 1990s, and that he had an extramarital affair. Cain denied the allegations, and Trump called them an "unfair witch hunt." Trump announced Cain's decision to withdraw, calling him "a truly wonderful man." (NBC News / Axios / Washington Post / CNBC)

  5. Stephen Moore wrote in March 2002 that there should be "no more women refs, no women announcers, no women beer venders, no women anything" at men's college basketball games. Moore is one of Trump's picks to serve on the Federal Reserve Board. (CNN)

  6. Sears named Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a lawsuit against the company's former CEO. The lawsuit alleges that Mnuchin assisted Edward Lampert in stripping the retailer of more than $2 billion in assets. (Politico)

  7. Trump's tariffs raised the cost of washing machines by about $86 per unit last year and clothes dryers by $92, according to research from the University of Chicago and the Federal Reserve. The tariffs created roughly 1,800 new U.S. manufacturing jobs, but each new job cost about $817,000. (New York Times)

  8. Trump exaggerated that the Sri Lanka terror attacks "killed at least 138 million people and badly injured 600 more." The population of Sri Lanka is around 22 million. Trump later deleted the incorrect tweet. Explosions at churches and hotels in Sri Lanka killed 290 people and injured more than 500. (Washington Post)

Day 820: Total bullshit.

1/ The House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed the Justice Department for access to Robert Mueller's full report, including grand jury testimony and other material not made public. "My committee needs and is entitled to the full version of the report and the underlying evidence consistent with past practice," Chairman Jerry Nadler said in a statement. He added that the redactions in Mueller's report "appear to be significant." Nadler gave the Justice Department a May 1st deadline to provide the report and "all documents obtained and investigative materials created by the Special Counsel's Office." Attorney General William Barr will testify to the House Judiciary Committee on May 2nd. (NPR / Bloomberg / NBC News / New York Times / Politico / The Guardian)

2/ The White House called the House Democrat subpoena for the unredacted version of Mueller's report "more political grandstanding." Meanwhile, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, accused Democrats of issuing a "wildly overbroad" subpoena to Barr. (Washington Post)

3/ The House Judiciary Committee asked the Justice Department to allow Mueller to testify next month. Nadler said he wants Mueller to testify "no later than May 23." Barr said he has no objection to Mueller testifying before Congress. (Politico / CNBC)

4/ Trump claimed that statements about him "by certain people" in Mueller's "crazy" report are "total bullshit," made by people trying to make themselves look good and harm him. Close White House advisers said Trump's rage was aimed at former White House counsel Don McGahn, who blocked several attempts by Trump to interfere in Mueller's investigation. Trump continued tweeting: "This was an Illegally Started Hoax that never should have happened, a…" He never finish the statement. (Politico / Bloomberg / Washington Post / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

5/ Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov claimed the Mueller report contains "no evidence substantiated by any facts" that Russia interfered in the 2016 election and that Moscow rejects any such accusations. Peskov also claimed that Putin has repeatedly denied any interference "because there was none." Mueller's report, however, documents multiple efforts by the Russians to meddle in the election. (Politico / NBC News)

6/ A militia group in New Mexico has been detaining groups of migrant families at gunpoint and then handing them over to Border Patrol. Several videos taken at the border appeared to a group of men from the United Constitutional Patriots approaching migrants, ordering them to sit down, and calling federal agents on them. At one point, they misrepresented themselves by saying they were "border patrol" as they approached. The ACLU called the group "an armed fascist militia organization" made up of "vigilantes" trying to "kidnap and detain people seeking asylum" by making illegal arrests. (New York Times / The Guardian)


👀 Portrait mode.

A collection of in-depth reporting on the Mueller report with all the context you need to understand wtf just happened. If you don't know where to start with the Mueller report, start here.

  1. The White House emerged from more than 400 pages of Mueller's report to a hotbed of conflict infused by a culture of dishonesty — defined by a president who lies to the public and his own staff, then tries to get his aides to lie for him. Trump repeatedly threatened to fire lieutenants who did not carry out his wishes while they repeatedly threatened to resign rather than cross lines of propriety or law. (New York Times)

  2. The portrait painted by Mueller is one in which, again and again, Russian officials and busi­ness executives offered assistance to Trump and the people around him. The campaign was intrigued by the Russian overtures, which came at the same time that the Russian government was seeking to tilt the outcome of the race in Trump's favor. (Washington Post)

  3. The most concrete takeaway from the Mueller report is its damning portrait of the Trump White House as a place of chaos, intrigue and deception, where aides routinely disregard the wishes of a president with little regard for the traditional boundaries of his office. (Politico)

  4. Mueller's report documented Trump's obsession with an investigation he believed could ruin him, eagerness to test the limits of the law to stop it, and willingness to mislead the nation to cover his actions. The report shows Trump's attempts to conceal his behavior and suppress the probe, showing that his actions and words left some top administration officials and White House attorneys deeply alarmed, adding to drama and deception in the West Wing. (Bloomberg)

  5. Mueller's report is of a presidency plagued by paranoia, insecurity and scheming — and of an inner circle gripped by fear of Trump's spasms. Again and again, Trump frantically pressured his aides to lie to the public, deny true news stories and fabricate a false record. (Washington Post)

  6. The Mueller report showed Trump unwilling to take on tough tasks, deal with personnel moves, follow-through to execute his decisions, and an indifference to fact. (Wall Street Journal)

  7. Trump evaded criminal charges, but Mueller's report is an indictment of his campaign and his presidency. The report details how Trump and his allies solicited, encouraged, accepted and benefited from Russian assistance, and then lays out evidence that Trump may have obstructed justice through what Mueller described as a "pattern of conduct" that included firing James Comey, trying to remove Mueller, publicly praising and condemning witnesses, and seeking to limit the scope of the probe. The report also made clear why Mueller didn't pursue charges and why contacts with Russians by the Trump campaign didn't amount to a criminal conspiracy. (NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

👑 Portrait of a President: An on-going list of various articles and essays to make sense of Trump. Curated by the WTFJHT community!


🔦 What we've learned from the Mueller report.

Clarifying news and events that emerged from the Mueller report.

  1. Putin convened a meeting with Russian oligarchs after Trump was elected, encouraging them to make contact with the Trump transition team and establish backchannel communications. U.S. sanctions against Russia was one of the main issues at hand for Putin and his gathering of oligarchs. The Mueller report didn't establish a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia, but it did reveal how important it was to Putin to set up a line of communication, and how receptive members of the Trump's inner circle were to Putin's overtures. (Politico)

  2. Eight key figures resisted Trump at critical moments: Jeff Sessions refused to unrecuse himself after Trump repeatedly bullied him privately and publicly. White House counsel Don McGahn refused to fire Mueller. Rick Dearborn, who worked for Sessions in the Senate, refused to relay Trump's message for Sessions to limit Mueller's jurisdiction to future election interference, rather than look backward on the 2016 election. Staff Secretary Rob Porter refused Trump's request to call Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand in an attempt "to find someone to end the Russia investigation or fire the Special Counsel." Chris Christie refused to "call [James] Comey and tell him that the President 'really like[s] him. Tell him he's part of the team.'" Rod Rosenstein refused to put out a statement saying it was his idea to fire Comey. K.T. McFarland refused to "draft an internal email that would confirm that the President did not direct [Michael] Flynn to call the Russian Ambassador about sanctions." Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats wouldn't put out a statement saying no link existed between Trump and Russia. (Washington Post)

  3. Sarah Huckabee Sanders told Mueller's investigators that she lied to the American public that "countless" FBI agents told her they were thankful that Trump fired James Comey. Sanders, who made similar claims on multiple occasions, told Mueller's office that she simply made "a slip of the tongue" and the claim was made "in the heat of the moment," and that it "was not founded on anything." When asked about it , Sanders tried to avoid admitting that she lied saying, "I'm sorry that I wasn't a robot like the Democrat Party." (CBS News / CNN / NBC News / Daily Beast / The Guardian / Politico)

  4. Erik Prince, brother of Betsy DeVos, helped finance the effort to obtain Hillary Clinton's deleted emails in 2016. After Trump privately asked Michael Flynn and other campaign officials to obtain the deleted emails, Flynn reached out to Barbara Ledeen, a onetime GOP staffer on Capitol Hill, for help. In September 2016, Ledeen claimed to have actually received "a trove of emails" that belonged to Clinton, but wanted to authenticate the. Prince then "provided funding to hire a tech advisor to ascertain the authenticity of the emails." (CNN)

  5. Russian hackers were able to breach "at least one" Florida county government through a spearphishing campaign. While Mueller's team "did not independent verify that belief," DHS and the FBI were already investigating the intrusions. (Politico)


💡 Analysis and commentary.

Some of the more interesting and relevant analysis to emerge following the release of the Mueller report. What are you seeing that should be included?

  1. Mueller report takeaways: 14 things (Bloomberg), 10 things (CNN), 9 things (CNN, again), 7 things (New York Times), 7 things (Axios), 5 things (ABC News)

  2. 7 times the Mueller report caught Sean Spicer and Sarah Sanders lying to press. From Comey to Trump Tower, the report documents — without even trying — how easily Trump's press secretaries lie for him. (Vox)

  3. The Mueller report, explained. What the special counsel's 448-page report reveals — and conceals. (Vox)

  4. How Barr's letter compares to the findings in the Mueller report. Here's a look at what the letter Barr sent to Congress last month said vs. what the redacted version of the full report says. (New York Times / Washington Post)

  5. Nearly two-thirds of the section on Russian hacking is blacked out. Those redactions raise a series of fresh questions about the conduct of Trump and his aides. Roughly 10% of the Mueller report is blacked out with redactions. (The Guardian / New York Times)

  6. The Mueller report confirms that Trump runs the government like a criminal enterprise. (New York Magazine)

  7. Don McGahn may have single-handedly saved Trump's presidency by refusing to fire Mueller. (CNN)

Day 819: Inadequate.

1/ Attorney General William Barr repeatedly insisted that Robert Mueller "found no evidence" that the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and that Russian efforts to interfere "did not have the cooperation of President Trump or the Trump campaign." Barr also claimed Mueller's report did not find "collusion" between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. Further, Barr said that even if the Trump campaign had colluded with WikiLeaks, that was not a crime. Mueller identified "numerous" Trump campaign-Russia contacts, but the report says there was "insufficient evidence" to establish a criminal conspiracy between Trump or his campaign aides and their contacts with Russians. The report outlines how Trump was elected with Russia's help and when a federal inquiry was started to investigate the effort, Trump took multiple steps to stop or undermine it. Barr said Mueller examined 10 "episodes" where Trump may have obstructed justice, but that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein "disagreed with some of the special counsel's legal theories and felt that some of the episodes did not amount to obstruction." According to Barr, Trump acted out of "noncorrupt motives" because he was frustrated by Mueller's investigation, as well as media coverage that he felt was hurting his administration. (Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / NBC News / CNN / The Guardian / Bloomberg)

  • 📌 Day 700: Trump's pick for attorney general criticized Mueller's obstruction of justice investigation in an unsolicited memo he sent to the Justice Department in June . William Barr said "Mueller's obstruction theory is fatally misconceived," claiming that Trump's interactions with James Comey would not constitute obstruction of justice, because Trump was using his "complete authority to start or stop a law enforcement proceeding." If confirmed as attorney general, Barr would oversee Mueller's work. (Wall Street Journal / New York Times / CNN / The Guardian / Washington Post)

  • READ: Barr's prepared remarks. (New York Times)

  • [BEFORE REPORT]: Mueller's report will reportedly be "lightly redacted" and is expected to reveal details about Trump's actions in office that came under scrutiny. According to an outline the Justice Department used to brief the White House with, Mueller did not come to a conclusion on the question of obstruction of justice because he couldn't determine Trump's intent behind his actions. Separately, the Justice Department will let a "limited number" of lawmakers review Mueller's report "without certain redactions, including removing the redaction of information related to the charges set forth in the indictment in this case." (Washington Post)

2/ Mueller's office chose not to charge Trump with obstruction out of "fairness concerns," because "we recognized that a federal criminal accusation against a sitting President would place burdens on the President's capacity to govern and potentially preempt constitutional process for addressing presidential misconduct." According to the report, Mueller considered Trump's written answers "inadequate," but knew a subpoena would impose "substantial delay" and they believed they had "sufficient evidence to understand relevant events and to make certain assessments without the President's testimony." Trump stated more than 30 times in his written answers that he "does not 'recall' or 'remember' or have an 'independent recollection'" of information investigators asked about. Mueller, citing numerous legal constraints in his report, declined to exonerate Trump, writing: "If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment." (NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / Wall Street Journal)

  • "GAME OVER," Trump tweeted immediately after Barr's press conference. Trump spent the morning tweeting about "Crooked, Dirty Cops and DNC/The Democrats" and complaining of "PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT." (NBC News)

  • 📌 Day 666: Trump said he answered Robert Mueller's written questions himself "very easily," but he hasn't submitted them because "you have to always be careful when you answer questions with people that probably have bad intentions." Rudy Giuliani said there are at least two dozen questions that relate to activities and episodes from before Trump's election. Trump spent more than five hours in meeting over three days this week with his attorneys working out written answers for Mueller about alleged collusion between his campaign and Russia during the 2016 presidential election. Despite telling reporters that "the questions were very routinely answered by me," Trump's temper boiled during all three meetings. Seemingly out of nowhere, Trump targeted Mueller on Twitter yesterday, calling the special counsel team "thugs" and the investigation a "witch hunt." (Associated Press / Reuters / CNN / Washington Post / The Guardian)

  • 📌 Day 670: Trump submitted his written answers to Robert Mueller's questions "regarding the Russia-related topics of the inquiry," according to Trump's attorney, Jay Sekulow. Mueller has not ruled out trying to compel Trump to sit for an interview after reviewing the written answers. (Bloomberg/ CNBC / New York Times / Associated Press)

3/ The Justice Department briefed White House lawyers about the conclusions made in Mueller's report before it was released, which aided Trump's legal team in rebutting the report's findings. Barr initially refused to answer whether the Justice Department had given the White House a preview of Mueller's findings. Later, Barr confirmed that he gave Trump's lawyers access to Mueller's report "earlier this week" – before it was to be sent to Congress and made public – and that Trump's lawyers did not ask for any redactions. (New York Times / Associated Press)

4/ House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler accused Barr of "waging a media campaign on behalf of President Trump." Nadler charged that Barr was attempting to "bake in the narrative to the benefit of the White House" and to protect Trump by holding a news conference about Mueller's report hours before it was made public. Yesterday, Nadler and other House committee chairs issued a joint statement urging Barr to cancel the news conference and "let the full report speak for itself." The House Judiciary Committee plans to review the redacted report, and then ask Mueller and his team to testify before Congress. (Washington Post / ABC News / Politico)


🔍 Mueller Report Key Findings (so far):

A high-level overview of what's been learned from the Mueller report. All summaries are sourced from the live blogs linked to below or directly cited inline (or both).

  1. Mueller's obstruction of justice investigation was influenced by a Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel opinion that says a sitting president cannot be indicted. Mueller's report says the team was "determined not to apply an approach that could potentially result in a judgment that the President committed crimes."

  2. Trump engaged in "multiple acts" to influence on law enforcement investigations, but that his efforts were "mostly unsuccessful" because his aides refused to carry out his orders.

  3. Trump urged campaign aides to find Hillary Clinton's private emails. After Trump publicly asking Russia to find Clinton's emails in July 2016, Trump then privately "asked individuals affiliated with his campaign to find the deleted Clinton emails." Michael Flynn told Mueller that Trump "made this request repeatedly," and Flynn "contacted multiple people in an effort to obtain the emails," including Peter Smith, a longtime Republican operative, and Barbara Ledeen, who worked for Chuck Grassley on the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time. (Washington Post)

  4. The Trump campaign "expected it would benefit" from information released by Russia, but "the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities." The report continues: "The investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome." Putin's "preference was for candidate Trump to win."

  5. When Trump learned of Mueller's appointment as special counsel, he said: "Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I'm fucked." Trump then repeatedly berated then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions for his recusal from the Russia probe, saying Sessions had let him down. "How could you let this happen, Jeff?" Trump demanded.

  6. After Trump fired James Comey, he attempted to have his White House counsel fire Mueller a month later. Trump twice told Donald McGahn to call Rosenstein and order him to fire Mueller, saying: "Mueller has to go" for alleged "conflicts that precluded him from serving as special counsel." McGahn refused, saying he did not want to repeat the "Saturday Night Massacre." McGahn then called Reince Priebus, then the White House chief of staff, and told him Trump had asked him to "do crazy shit." Trump later pressured McGahn to deny that he tried to fire Mueller.

  7. "Substantial evidence" corroborates Comey's recollection that Trump pressured him to let Flynn off easy. "I hope you can let this go," Trump allegedly told Comey. "While the president has publicly denied these details, other Administration officials who were present have confirmed Comey's account of how he ended up in a one-on-one meeting with the president," the report says. "And the president acknowledged to Priebus and McGahn that he in fact spoke to Comey about Flynn in their one-on-one meeting."

  8. Trump weighed installing Rachel Brand, then the Department of Justice's number three official, "to end the Russia investigation or fire the special counsel." Trump asked Staff Secretary Rob Porter what he thought of Brand and if she "was good, tough and 'on the team.'"

  9. Paul Manafort told Rick Gates to "sit tight" and not plead guilty because Trump is "going to take care of us." Mueller's report says "evidence […] indicates that the President intended to encourage Manafort to not cooperate with the government." Gates ended up cooperating with Mueller.

  10. Trump's personal attorney directed Cohen "stay on message and not contradict the President" regarding testimony about the Trump Tower Moscow project that continued behind January 2016. Trump's personal lawyer told Cohen that he "was protected, which he wouldn't be if he 'went rogue.'"

  11. Mueller declined to prosecute "several" people connected to the Trump campaign who lied to the special counsel's office or to Congress about their contact with Russians and on other matters, including Trump Jr. and Sessions.

  12. Federal prosecutors are pursuing 14 other investigations that were referred by Mueller. Two were disclosed in the redacted report: potential wire fraud and federal employment law violations involving Michael Cohen, and charges against Gregory Craig, the former White House counsel under Obama, who was accused of lying to investigators and concealing work for a pro-Russian government in Ukraine. The other 12 referrals were redacted because the details could harm continuing investigations.

  13. Mueller left the door open to the possibility that after Trump leaves office, prosecutors could re-examine the evidence which could "potentially result in a judgment that the president committed crimes." Trump's lawyers have argued that it was impossible for Trump to illegally obstruct the Russia investigation, because he has full authority over federal law enforcement as head of the executive branch. "The conclusion that Congress may apply the obstruction laws to the president's corrupt exercise of the powers of office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law," Mueller's team wrote. (New York Times)

Live Blogs: Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / The Guardian / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg

The Mueller Report: Annotated and Live Analysis


In other news.

  1. House Democrats subpoenaed nine banks as part of an investigation into Trump's financial and potential money laundering tied to Russia: JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Capital One, Deutsche Bank, Royal Bank of Canada, and Toronto-Dominion Bank. Investigators on the House Financial Services Committee and House Intelligence Committee have focused their early efforts on Deutsche Bank, which has said it in engaged “in a productive dialogue” with the committees. (Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg)

  2. North Korea said continued nuclear talks would be "lousy" if Mike Pompeo remains involved, demanding that the Secretary of State be replaced by someone who is "more careful." A North Korean foreign ministry official said last week that Pompeo "spouted reckless remarks, hurting the dignity of our supreme leadership" after he agreed with the characterization of Kim Jong-un as a tyrant. That same official warned on Thursday that if Pompeo remains involved, "the talks will become entangled." (BBC)

  3. North Korea said it test-fired a new type of "tactical guided weapon." There was no evidence the test involved a nuclear detonation or an intercontinental ballistic missile. (New York Times)

Day 818: Weakened authority.

1/ Attorney General William Barr directed immigration judges to deny some asylum seekers the opportunity to post bail after being detained. Previously, migrants who established "a credible fear of persecution or torture" in their home country were eligible to seek release on bond. Now they could end up being jailed indefinitely while they wait months or years for their claims to be processed. The Department of Homeland Security will have the discretion to decide whether to release immigrants who initially crossed the border illegally, but later claimed asylum. The order will go into effect in 90 days. (New York Times / CNN / Washington Post / NBC News / Politico / ABC News)

2/ Trump vetoed a bipartisan resolution to end American military involvement in the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen. Earlier this month, Congress voted to invoke the War Powers Resolution to try to stop U.S. involvement in the foreign conflict. Trump called it "an unnecessary, dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities." The veto – the second of Trump's presidency – comes a month after he vetoed a resolution to reverse his national emergency declaration aimed at securing funding for a border wall. (Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / Axios / Reuters / Associated Press)

3/ Trump's attorneys and the White House plan to resist congressional requests for information about security clearances approvals, Trump's meetings with foreign leaders, and other topics the administration deems subject to executive privilege. While House Democrats say they'll continue to issue subpoenas, they also said they have little confidence that Barr will enforce contempt actions if their demands are ignored. Congressional subpoenas — and any criminal contempt proceedings — expire at the end of a congressional session. (Washington Post)

4/ Barr and Rod Rosenstein will hold a press conference to discuss the Robert Mueller report at 9:30 am ET Thursday. It's not clear if the news conference will occur before or after the release of the redacted, 400-page report. [Story is developing…] (CNBC / Washington Post / Politico / New York Times / USA Today)

poll/ 58% of Americans think Trump obstructed the investigation into whether his campaign had any connection to Russia, while 40% don't think he attempted to obstruct justice. 35% of Americans, meanwhile, think that Trump did something illegal related to Russia, and another 34% think Trump's done something unethical. (Associated Press)

poll/ 30% of Americans accept Trump's claim that Barr's 4-page summary Robert Mueller's report is a "total exoneration." 45%, meanwhile, said they believe the Mueller report is inconclusive. 51% believe that Trump administration officials will get away with corruption or unethical behavior. (Politico)

poll/ 38% of voters believe the allegation that Trump's 2016 campaign was spied on. 28% said they don't believe the campaign was spied on and 35% said they don't know or have no opinion about it. (Politico)

poll/ 40% of Americans approve of the job Trump is doing as president. 54% disapprove. (Monmouth University)


Notables.

  1. An aluminum company partially owned by a Russian oligarch plans to invest around $200 million to build a new plant in Mitch McConnell's home state. McConnell was among the advocates for lifting U.S. sanctions on Rusal, the aluminum company Oleg Deripaska partially owns. (Newsweek)

  2. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin plans to a hire Fox News commentator as his top spokeswoman. Trump planned to appoint Monica Crowley to the National Security Council, but she withdrew from consideration in January 2017 after it was reported that she plagiarized portions of her 2012 book and portions of her 2000 Ph.D. thesis. (Bloomberg)

  3. Ivanka Trump said her father asked her if she wanted the World Bank job, but she passed on the offer because she was "happy with the work" she's currently doing. Trump previously said he considered naming Ivanka to head the World Bank because "she's very good with numbers," but ultimately didn't because people would have complained about "nepotism." (Associated Press)

  4. The Trump administration will allow lawsuits in U.S. courts against foreign companies that use properties confiscated by Cuba during Fidel Castro's revolution six decades ago. The European Union urged the administration not to move forward with the new policy, threatening lawsuits against the U.S. at the World Trade Organization, as well as European courts imposing economic penalties against U.S. companies. (Reuters / ABC News / Wall Street Journal / New York Times)

  5. The Pentagon has not held an on-camera press briefing in more than 300 days. The Department of Defense manages nearly $700 billion. (Time)

Day 817: Breakdown-level anxiety.

1/ House Democrats subpoenaed Deutsche Bank for Trump's personal and financial records. Democrats also subpoenaed JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, and Citigroup for documents related to possible Russian money laundering. Maxine Waters said Trump's "potential use of the U.S. financial system for illicit purposes is a very serious concern" and that the House Intelligence and Financial Services committees will "follow the facts wherever they may lead us." Deutsche Bank reportedly requested a so-called "friendly subpoena" from the committees before it would comply with their request. The Trump Organization, meanwhile, said it was looking at options to block Deutsche Bank from complying with the subpoena. (New York Times / CNN / Politico / Reuters / Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 320: Robert Mueller issued a subpoena for the banking records of people affiliated with Trump. 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. Since 1998, Deutsche has helped loan at least $2.5 billion to companies affiliated with Trump, which he used to build or purchase highest-profile projects in Washington, New York, Chicago and Florida. (The Guardian / Bloomberg / Reuters / Wall Street Journal)

  • 📌 Day 356: 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 that were originally worth $300 million. The German bank was alsofined$425 million by New York State for laundering $10 billion out of Russia. (International Business Times / USA Today)

  • 📌 Day 746: Deutsche Bank refused to give Trump a loan during his 2016 presidential campaign. Trump was funding his campaign and expanding his business group's collection of properties at the same time. The Trump Organization specifically wanted a loan against a Miami property to fund work on the Turnberry golf course in Scotland. A 2018 financial disclosure, Trump owed at least $130 million to Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas, a unit of the German bank. The decision came down to senior bank officials worrying about what would happen if Trump won the election and then defaulted on the loan. Deutsche Bank would then have to choose between not collecting on the debt or seizing the assets of the president of the United States. (New York Times / CNBC)

  • 📌 Day 789: Deutsche Bank loaned more than $2 billion to Trump over nearly two decades during his time as a real estate developer at a time when other banks wouldn't lend to him. The bank repeatedly loaned money to Trump despite multiple business-related "red flags," including instances where Trump exaggerated his wealth by an extra $2 billion in order to secure additional loans from the bank. In 2010, Trump returned to Deutsche Bank for $100 million loan, even though it had concluded at the time that Trump had overvalued some of his real estate assets by up to 70%. (New York Times / New York Times / CNBC)

2/ White House officials who cooperated with Robert Mueller at the direction of Trump's legal team are worried the redacted report will expose them as the source of damaging information about Trump. In particular, current and former staffers are concerned how Trump will react to information shared with Mueller, leading to "breakdown-level anxiety" among those who cooperated with the investigation. Officials and their lawyers have asked the Justice Department whether the names of those who cooperated with Mueller's team will be redacted, or if the public report will make it obvious who shared certain details. (NBC News)

  • Trump renewed his call for the Justice Department to "INVESTIGATE THE INVESTIGATORS!" days before the public release of Mueller's report. Trump claimed without evidence that "Crooked Hillary, the DNC, [and] Dirty Cops" are the ones guilty of collusion and obstruction of justice. (Politico)

  • The Department of Justice declined to unseal records related to Paul Manafort's case due to "ongoing investigations." The U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia argued in a court filing that, "although the Special Counsel has concluded his work, he has also referred a number of matters to other offices." (Washington Post / Axios)

3/ The House Judiciary Committee requested information about Trump's reported offer to pardon the Customs and Border Protection Commissioner if he was sent to jail for blocking asylum seekers from entering the U.S. Kevin McAleenan has since been named the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security following the forced resignation of Kirstjen Nielsen. The deadline to turn over a list of employees who attended Trump's meeting with Border Patrol agents, and documents and communications related to Nielsen's meeting with Trump "on or about March 21, 2019 to discuss reinstating the zero-tolerance policy and closing the US-Mexico border at El Paso, Texas" is April 30. (CNN)

  • 📌 Day 813: Trump promised to pardon the Customs and Border Protection Commissioner if he were sent to jail for blocking asylum seekers from entering the U.S. in defiance of U.S. law. Two days later, Trump promoted Kevin McAleenan to acting secretary of homeland security after pressuring Nielsen to submit her resignation. Nielsen previously refused to close the border, telling Trump it was illegal. A few days prior to the encounter with McAleenan, Trump backtracked from his thread to close the border, saying he was issuing a "one-year warning" for Mexico to halt illegal immigration and drug trafficking. (New York Times / CNN)

4/ Trump ordered thousands of additional troops to the southwest border. According to a document drafted by Defense Department officials, between 9,000 to 10,000 more forces would be deployed to the border over the next few months. A Pentagon spokesperson, however, put the number at about 3,000 additional forces. There are roughly 2,800 active duty forces currently supporting the border mission. The orders were drafted days after Nielsen's forced resignation. (Newsweek)

5/ The Trump administration will resume its "Remain in Mexico" policy, forcing asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their cases are processed in the U.S. On Friday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court's ruling, which blocked the policy. The DHS spokesperson said the agency would resume the practice in ports of entry in California and Texas, including those in Calexico, San Diego and El Paso. (CBS News / Los Angeles Times)


Notables.

  1. The White House rejected a House Judiciary request for documents detailing discussions with the Justice Department about the AT&T-Time Warner merger. In the late summer of 2017, Trump ordered Gary Cohn to pressure the Justice Department to block AT&T's acquisition of Time Warner, which owns CNN. The next day Trump declared the proposed merger "not good for the country." White House counsel Pat Cipollone cited executive privilege for the White House denying the document request, claiming any talks were "protected communications." (Politico)

  2. Trump offered Paris unsolicited advice for putting out the fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral, tweeting that "perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out. Must act quickly!" France's civil defense agency tweeted back: "The dumping of water by aircraft on this kind of building could, actually, cause the complete collapse of the structure." A French fire chief described Trump's advice as "risible." (Los Angeles Times / The Guardian / CNBC)

  3. Trump also offered unsolicited business advice to Boeing, tweeting that the airplane maker should "REBRAND" the 737 MAX "with a new name." Trump added: "But again, what the hell do I know?" (USA Today / Daily Beast)

  4. Trump called Bernie Sanders's Fox News town hall "so weird" and noted that anchor Bret Baier, who has been critical of Trump in the past, was "so smiley and nice" to Sanders. (Vox / Washington Post / Politico)

  5. Trump claimed he "has always liked" Jimmy Carter, despite previously calling him "the worst President in the history of the United States!" in 2013, 2014, and 2016. (Washington Post)

Day 816: Hateful and inflammatory.

1/ Attorney General William Barr will release a redacted version of Robert Mueller's report to both Congress and the public on Thursday morning. The redactions will cover four categories: secret grand jury details, classified national security and intelligence specifics, material related to ongoing investigations and sections that could defame "peripheral" third parties wrapped up in Mueller's probe. The release comes days after Barr told Congress he believed "spying" on the Trump campaign occurred during the 2016 election. Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee have already authorized the use of a subpoena to compel the Justice Department for the full report without redactions if they do not receive it this week. (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / Politico / NBC News)

  • An insiders' guide to the Mueller Report: How experts and political operatives will read the report. (Politico)

2/ The House intelligence committee demanded that Mueller "must" brief them and provide "all materials, regardless of form and classification, obtained or produced" during his 2-year investigation. Chairman Adam Schiff and Ranking Member Devin Nunes requested that Mueller and other senior members of his team brief the committee, in a letter sent March 27th to Barr, FBI Director Chris Wray, and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Nunes has previously dismissed the Mueller report as a "partisan document" that he has no interest in reading. (Daily Beast / Axios / Politico)

3/ Trump's attorneys threatened legal action if an accounting firm complied with a subpoena from the House Oversight and Reform Committee to turn over 10 years of Trump's financial records. Last month, the committee requested that Mazars USA turn over Trump's personal and business finances. In response, Mazars asked for a subpoena before they would comply. (Politico)

4/ Sarah Sanders claimed that members of Congress aren't "smart enough" to understand Trump's tax returns. Earlier this month, the House Ways and Means Committee formally requested Trump's tax returns from the IRS, setting a hard deadline of April 23 to comply. (CNN / Washington Post)

  • There are 10 accountants in this Congress, including two senators and eight House members. Three Democratic members of Congress are also trained as certified public accountants. (CNN)

5/ The White House is considering travel restrictions for nationals of countries with high rates of overstaying visas as part of a broader push to curb immigration. The effort would target nationals primarily from the African nations of Nigeria, Chad, Eritrea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, telling the countries' governments that if overstay rates don't reverse, then future visas could be shorter or harder to get. (Wall Street Journal / Politico)

6/ Trump reportedly revived the rejected proposal to send undocumented immigrants into "sanctuary cities" in order to distract from the Mueller report, according to people close to him. After members of his administration dismissed the idea of sending migrants to sanctuary cities, Trump tweeted that he was still considering the plan. Further, Trump has reportedly been "purposefully escalating his language" to rile up his base of supporters and anger political rivals, despite previously claiming that Barr's four-page summary of the Mueller report proved there was "No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION." (New York Times)

  • Three Democratic House committee chairmen: The Trump administration lacks the legal authority to send undocumented migrants to sanctuary cities. They're calling for documents related to the plan's consideration by early May. (NBC News)

  • Trump appeared to confirm that a proposal to send immigrants to "Sanctuary Cities and States" was in the works, "subject" to the Department of Homeland Security. (Politico)

  • House Democrats want Stephen Miller to testify about his role in the plan to release undocumented immigrants into "sanctuary cities," because he "seems to be the boss of everybody on immigration" (Washington Post)

7/ Trump tweeted a video of the World Trade Center towers burning interspersed with remarks Rep. Ilhan Omar made about civil rights and Muslims in America. "WE WILL NEVER FORGET!" Trump captioned the video. During a speech at an event hosted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Omar said Muslims have "lived with the discomfort of being a second-class citizen" since the Sept. 11 attacks, because "some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties." The Minnesota Democrat is one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress. (New York Times / Washington Post)

8/ Omar said she's "experienced an increase in direct threats on my life" since Trump tweeted footage of Sept. 11 accusing her of downplaying the terror attacks. "This is endangering lives," Omar said, charging Trump with encouraging right-wing extremism. "It has to stop." Sarah Sanders, meanwhile, said "it's a good thing the president is calling her out" for her "absolutely abhorrent" comments she made at the event. (CNN / The Guardian / Washington Post / CBS News / ABC News)

9/ Nancy Pelosi demanded that Trump delete "his disrespectful and dangerous video" of Omar, claiming his "hateful and inflammatory rhetoric creates real danger." Pelosi added that the U.S. Capitol Police and the House sergeant-at-arms "are conducting a security assessment to safeguard" Omar. "They will continue to monitor and address the threats she faces." (New York Times / Politico / Axios)

10/ Trump continued his attacks on Omar on Monday, baselessly claiming that she was "out of control" when she made her alleged "antisemitic, anti-Israel and ungrateful US HATE statements." Trump also criticized Pelosi for coming to Omar's defense, saying she has "lost all control of Congress." Trump flew to Minneapolis to attend an event bordering Omar's congressional district. (Politico / The Guardian)

poll/ 17% of Americans believed their taxes would go down as a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. 40% said they saw no change from the tax bill, while 32% said the bill drove their taxes up. (Politico)


Notables.

  1. The Interior Department's inspector general opened an investigation into ethics complaints against the agency's new secretary. David Bernhardt, a former lobbyist for the oil and agribusiness industries, has faced multiple allegations of ethics violations since joining the Trump administration as the Interior Department's deputy secretary in 2017. (New York Times)

  2. Trump's reelection campaign raised more than $30 million in the first quarter of 2019, bringing Trump's total war chest to just over $40.8 million. The amount is unprecedented for an incumbent president this early into the campaign, and edges out the two top Democratic challengers. The GOP, meanwhile, matched Trump's fundraising abilities by bringing in $45.8 million in the first quarter, the party's best non-election year total. Trump's reelection campaign has set a total fundraising goal of $1 billion for 2020. (Associated Press / NBC News / New York Times / CNN / Axios)

  3. Former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld announced that he will challenge Trump for the 2020 Republican presidential nomination. Weld said he will not run as an Independent if he does not win the Republican nomination. (CNN / Washington Post)

  4. Pete Buttigieg announced his presidential bid. If elected, Buttigieg, a 37-year-old Rhodes scholar and veteran of the war in Afghanistan, would be the youngest president ever and the first who is openly gay. "It's time to walk away from the politics of the past and toward something totally different," Buttigieg told a crowd at a rally, adding: "Change is coming, ready or not." (New York Times / Washington Post)

  5. Trump will award Tiger Woods the Presidential Medal of Freedom, tweeting that he's awarding Woods the honor "because of his incredible Success and Comeback in Sports (Golf) and, more importantly, LIFE." Since 2019, a series of women have said they had affairs with Woods while he was married. (People / Bloomberg / CNN / NBC News)

  6. Sarah Huckabee Sanders claimed Trump was joking during the 2016 campaign when he said he loved WikiLeaks. "Look, clearly the president was making a joke during the 2016 campaign," Sanders told Fox News. "Certainly we take this serious." After Julian Assange was arrested last week, Trump claimed that "I know nothing about WikiLeaks," despite mentioning WikiLeaks multiple times on the campaign trail and once exclaiming, "I love WikiLeaks" at a campaign event in October 2016. (NBC News)

Day 813: Nonstory.

1/ Trump pressured Kirstjen Nielsen into busing detained immigrants to "sanctuary cities" located in the congressional districts of Democratic members of Congress. The plan was first raised in a Nov. 16, 2018, email asking whether members of a migrant caravan could be arrested when they reached the border and then transported "to small- and mid-sized sanctuary cities" where local officials have refused to cooperate with ICE. The White House claimed that the proposal would free up ICE detention space, as well as send a message to Democrats. One top official responded to the plan by pointing out budgetary and liability concerns, as well as the "PR risks." The White House called the proposal a "nonstory" and said "this was just a suggestion that was floated and rejected, which ended any further discussion." (Washington Post / CNN / New York Times)

2/ Trump – contradicting his own administration – confirmed that he is "giving strong consideration" to releasing detained undocumented immigrants in Democratic "sanctuary cities," suggesting that it should make liberals "very happy" because of their immigration policies. Trump's tweets come after both the White House and Department of Homeland Security said they rejected the plan when it was floated in November and again in February, because it'd be "so illegal." The new push comes as Trump has empowered senior adviser Stephen Miller to lead the administration's immigration policy. Miller reportedly wants to create tent cities at the border to house migrants and detain migrant children beyond the current 20-day limit imposed by a federal judge. The goal is to force migrant parents to choose between splitting from their children or remaining together indefinitely in detention while awaiting court proceedings. (New York Times / CNN / Washington Post / NBC News / Politico / Wall Street Journal / ABC News)

3/ Trump promised to pardon the Customs and Border Protection Commissioner if he were sent to jail for blocking asylum seekers from entering the U.S. in defiance of U.S. law. Two days later, Trump promoted Kevin McAleenan to acting secretary of homeland security after pressuring Nielsen to submit her resignation. Nielsen previously refused to close the border, telling Trump it was illegal. A few days prior to the encounter with McAleenan, Trump backtracked from his thread to close the border, saying he was issuing a "one-year warning" for Mexico to halt illegal immigration and drug trafficking. (New York Times / CNN)

4/ Trump's top advisers discussed whether the military could be used to build tent city detention camps for migrants at the border. Also discussed was whether the military could legally run the camps, since U.S. law prohibits the military from directly interacting with migrants. Trump complained that the laws are "horrible laws that the Democrats won't change." (NBC News)

5/ The Justice Department is reviving a Bush-era regulation allowing appellate immigration judges to issue binding rulings on the entire immigration system while only a minority of appeals judges participate. Currently, the appeals board can declare a binding precedent only if a majority of all permanent sitting judges vote to do so. Immigration advocates and attorneys say the new regulations will be used to reshape immigration law to fit Trump's political goals. The Trump administration claims the move is to help fix an immigration court system plagued with delays. Attorney General William Barr has sent the proposed regulation to the White House for review. (San Francisco Chronicle)

poll/ 55% of Georgia voters say that they have an unfavorable view of Trump, compared to 39% who had a favorable view, and 4% who were undecided. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

poll/ 51% of Americans disapprove of Trump's job performance, while 45% approve – up from 39% since last month. (Gallup / Washington Post)


Notables.

  1. Rod Rosenstein defended the Justice Department's handling of Robert Mueller's report, saying Barr is "being as forthcoming as he can" about the redaction process. Barr has come under criticism for his four-page summary of the principal conclusions he issued less than two days after Mueller handed over his nearly 400-page report. (Wall Street Journal / CNBC)

  2. The House Oversight Committee threatened to hold a Justice Department official in contempt after refusing to comply with a subpoena for testimony and documents related to the citizenship question on the 2020 Census. Committee Chair Elijah Cummings said in a letter to AG William Barr that the committee would hold his principal deputy assistant AG, John Gore, in contempt of Congress if Barr didn't make him available to answer questions about Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross's decision to add the question to the census. Gore was slated to testify on Thursday but he did not appear. The committee voted 23-14 earlier this month to compel Gore to testify and for the Trump administration to provide additional documents pertaining to the citizenship question. (NBC News)

  3. The House Oversight Committee will issue a "friendly subpoena" to the accounting firm that prepared several years' worth of Trump's financial statements. Mazars USA had requested a subpoena from the committee before it would provide records. (CNN)

  4. Trump withdrew his nomination for the next U.S. diplomat for South Asia. Trump nominated Defense Intelligence Agency official Robert Williams five months ago to fill the post, which has been empty since Trump took office. The White house did not say why it decided to withdraw Williams' nomination. (Reuters)

  5. The former White House aide who mocked John McCain as "dying anyway" is joining a pro-Trump PAC. Kelly Sadler was let go after saying McCain's opposition to Gina Haspel being nominated as CIA director didn't matter because he was "dying anyway." Sadler starts Monday and is "really excited" to join America First Action. (CNN)

  6. Trump confirmed that he considered naming Ivanka Trump to head the World Bank because "she's very good with numbers." Trump said he didn't nominate Ivanka because people would have complained about "nepotism, when it would've had nothing to do with nepotism." (The Atlantic / The Guardian / Bloomberg / Washington Post)

Day 812: "I know nothing about WikiLeaks."

1/ British authorities arrested WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and charged by the U.S. with conspiracy to hack a classified Defense Department computer. The U.S. is seeking Assange's extradition over allegations that he agreed to help former military analyst Chelsea Manning crack a password on a Defense Department computer, resulting in what the Justice Department called "one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States." Assange is facing up to five years in prison. He had been living in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London for the past 2,487 days. During the 2016 presidential campaign, WikiLeaks released thousands of emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee and from Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, John Podesta. U.S. intelligence officials concluded the hacks were orchestrated by the Russian government. The conspiracy charge against Assange, however, is not related to Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia's election influence. (New York Times / Washington Post / Associated Press / The Guardian / NPR)

2/ Trump claimed that "I know nothing about WikiLeaks" despite declaring in October 2016 that "I love WikiLeaks." During the 2016 campaign, then-candidate Trump praised WikiLeaks more than 140 times for leaking DNC and Clinton campaign emails. At one point during the campaign, Trump publicly encouraged the Russians "to find the 30,000 emails (from Hillary Clinton's server) that are missing." Following Assange's arrest, Trump told reporters: WikiLeaks is "not my thing." (CNN / Politico)

  • 2016: Trump praised WikiLeaks for publishing Clinton's hacked emails. "I love WikiLeaks," Trump told rally-goers in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., prompting a prolonged "Lock her up!" chant. (The Hill)

3/ The Treasury Department missed the deadline set by Democrats to hand over Trump's tax returns. In a letter to the House Ways and Means Committee, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he has "serious issues" with the request for six years of Trump's personal and some business returns. Mnuchin added that he was consulting with the Justice Department as to the "constitutional scope" and "legitimacy of the asserted legislative purpose" of the request. Hours earlier, Trump flatly rejected the request for his tax returns, telling reporters: "I won't do it." The issue could ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court. (Politico / Vox / Washington Post / New York Times)

4/ Trump's sister retired as a federal judge to end an investigation into whether she violated judicial rules by participating in fraudulent tax schemes with her siblings. Complaints against Judge Maryanne Trump Barry were filed last October after an investigation found that she benefited financially from many of her tax schemes while she was also in a position to influence that actions taken by her family. Barry, who hasn't heard a case in more than two years, was listed as an inactive senior judge, but filed retirement papers ten days after a federal court said the the complaints against her were "receiving the full attention" of a judicial complaint council. Retired judges are not subject to the rules of judicial conduct. (New York Times)

  • 📌 Day 621: Trump inherited his family's wealth through fraud and questionable tax schemes, receiving the equivalent today of at least $413 million from his father's real estate empire. Trump has repeatedly claimed that "I built what I build myself." Trump and his siblings used fake corporations to hide financial gifts from his parents, which helped his father claim millions in tax deductions. Trump also helped his parents undervalue their real estate holdings by hundreds of millions of dollars when filing their tax returns. In total, Fred and Mary Trump transferred more than a $1 billion in wealth to their children and paid a total of $52.2 million in taxes (about 5%) instead of the $550+ million they should have owed under the 55% tax rate imposed on gifts and inheritances. Trump also "earned" $200,000 a year in today's dollars starting at age 3 from his father's companies. After college, Trump started receiving the equivalent of $1 million a year, which increased to $5 million a year when he was in his 40s and 50s. Trump has refused to release his income tax returns, breaking with decades of practice by past presidents. There is no time limit on civil fines for tax fraud. [Editor's note: This is a must read. An abstract summary does not suffice.] (New York Times)

poll/ Trump tweeted a screenshot from Lou Dobbs's Fox Business falsely claiming his approval rating was at 55%. The actual polling numbers from Georgetown's Institute of Politics and Public Service found that 43% of voters approve of Trump. Fox Business later issued an on-air correction. (Georgetown / New York Magazine / Axios / Vox / Politico / Washington Post)


Notables.

  1. A former Obama counsel was charged with lying to the Justice Department and concealing information about work he did in 2012 with Paul Manafort for Ukraine. Gregory Craig's former firm, Skadden Arps Slate Meagher and Flom, paid $4.6 million in January to avoid prosecution and agreed to retroactively register as a lobbyist for a foreign government. (Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg / Politico / CNN)

  2. Michael Avenatti was indicted on 36 counts of fraud, perjury, failure to pay taxes, embezzlement and other financial crimes. Avenatti faces a potential 335 years in prison for an alleged scheme to defraud five clients since 2015. (Los Angeles Times / CNN / Associated Press)

  3. Trump signed two executive orders to speed up construction of oil and gas pipelines. One order directs the EPA to make it more difficult for states to invoke provisions in the Clean Water Act to slow pipeline construction. The other order transfers authority for approving the construction of international pipelines from the secretary of state to the president. (New York Times)

  4. The Senate confirmed a former oil and agribusiness lobbyist to lead the Interior Department. David Bernhardt previously served as the acting secretary, helping craft Trump's policies for expanding drilling and mining along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. (Politico / New York Times)

Day 811: Genesis.

1/ Attorney General William Barr assembled a team to examine the origins of the counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign's possible ties to Russia. Barr is pursuing allegations by Republican lawmakers of anti-Trump bias at the Justice Department and FBI. Robert Mueller took over the counterintelligence investigation when he was appointed special counsel. Separately, the Justice Department's inspector general is reviewing whether the FBI and federal prosecutors abused their authority when obtaining FISA warrants to surveil Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. (Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

2/ Barr told Congress that the government was "spying" on Trump's campaign during the 2016 election, but provided no evidence. During a hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee, Barr said that while he's not launching an investigation of the FBI or suggesting there is an "endemic" problem at the FBI, he does "think there was a failure among a group of leaders at the upper echelons." Barr went on to say that he wanted to understand if there was "unauthorized surveillance" of political figures and whether law enforcement officials had proper legal justification for the "genesis" of the counterintelligence investigation. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / NBC News / CNN / Bloomberg / Axios)

3/ Trump claimed the Russia investigation was "an attempted coup" to remove him from office. Trump accused Mueller's probe of being "started illegally" and that "every single thing about it" was "crooked." Trump went on to say that "as far as I'm concerned, I don't care about the Mueller report," claiming that "I've been totally exonerated." (NBC News / Washington Post / Politico)

4/ The FBI discussed the possibility that Trump fired FBI Director James Comey "at the behest of" the Russian government in May 2017. James Baker, a former top lawyer of the FBI, testified to the House Oversight and Judiciary committees in October 2018 about the discussions he had with Andrew McCabe, FBI counterintelligence official Bill Priestap, and national security official Carl Ghattas about the possibility that Trump was "following directions" and "executing [the] will" of the Russian Government. (Politico)

5/ Trump repeated his refusal to release his tax returns, saying "I won't do it." Trump said he would "love" to release his tax returns, but claimed that "people don't care" about seeing them, and that he won't do so "while I'm under audit." House Democrats asked the IRS for six years of Trump's tax returns, citing a tax code provision that requires the Treasury Department to hand over the documents. The deadline to comply with the request is today. (CNN / CNBC / Reuters / USA Today / Wall Street Journal)

  • The IRS commissioner said there is "no rule that would prohibit the release of a tax return because it's under audit." Charles Rettig's comment came during his confirmation at a House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing. (Axios)

poll/ 51% of voters support House Democrats' efforts to obtain Trump's tax returns, including 46% of independents. (Morning Consult)

  • 📌 Day 775: 64% of American think Trump should publicly release his tax returns, while 29% believe he should not. (Quinnipiac)

Notables.

  1. Federal investigators in New York have "gathered more evidence than previously known" from Trump's "inner circle" about the hush-money payments made to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, who both claim they had affairs with Trump. Prosecutors interviewed Hope Hicks and Keith Schiller, Trump's former security chief. Investigators also have a recorded phone conversation between Michael Cohen and a lawyer who represented the two women. Investigators also have calls between Schiller and David Pecker, chief executive of the National Enquirer, which admitted it paid $150,000 to McDougal on Mr. Trump's behalf to keep her story under wraps. (Wall Street Journal / CNN)

  2. The Pentagon awarded $976 million in contracts to build Trump's wall along the southern border. The Department of Defense awarded the contracts via the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and listed the completion date for the projects as October 2020. One contract worth $789 million was awarded to a company in Texas to build "30-foot bollard fencing and a five-foot anti-climb plate" in Santa Teresa, New Mexico along the El Paso sector of the border. The other contract is worth $187 million and went to a Montana-based company for "18-foot bollard fencing and a five-foot anti-climb plate" in Yuma, Arizona. (CNN)

  3. The White House is considering the former head of an anti-immigration group to lead Citizenship and Immigration Services. Julie Kirchner previously led the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which pushed for lower levels of immigration. (Politico)

  4. The House voted to revive net neutrality regulations, which bans broadband providers from blocking or throttling internet traffic. The legislation will likely fail in the GOP-controlled Senate. (Politico / The Hill)

Day 810: A mess.

1/ Trump recently put Stephen Miller "in charge" of the administration's immigration policy "and he's executing his plan" to clean house at the Department of Homeland Security. "There is a near-systematic purge happening," one official said. Miller has been arguing to bring in more like-minded hardline immigration reform advocates, with the senior White House adviser reportedly calling federal departments and agencies to demand that they do more to stop the flow of immigrants. (Wall Street Journal / Politico / CNN)

2/ A senior White House official: DHS is not doing enough to crack down on immigration and more people could be forced out soon. Sources close to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen say Trump and Miller have called for changes at DHS that are legally questionable, which would make them operationally ineffective. Several DHS officials who will likely be forced out soon, include Claire Grady, DHS' acting No. 2 official, Lee Francis Cissna, head of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, Kathy Nuebel Kovarik, one of Cissna's top deputies, and John Mitnick, the department's general counsel. (Reuters / Axios / New York Times)

3/ Congressional Republicans urged Trump not to fire any more top immigration officials. Senator Chuck Grassley said he was "very, very concerned" about reports that Cissna could be dismissed. Grassley said he texted Mick Mulvaney, acting White House chief of staff, to express his concerns about removing Cissna, but Mulvaney "didn't seem to know who I was talking about." After Trump forced Nielsen's resignation, pulled his Immigration and Customs Enforcement nominee, removed his Secret Service director and threatened more firings, Senator John Cornyn called the situation "a mess." Cornyn added that he has no idea what Miller's "agenda" is for determining immigration policy because he isn't Senate-confirmed and doesn't talk with members of Congress. (Washington Post / Politico)

4/ The Trump administration plans to put Customs and Border Protection agents in charge of interviewing asylum-seekers. Miller has argued that the move will mean fewer migrants will pass the initial screening, known as a credible fear interview. Currently, asylum-seekers are interviewed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services asylum officers. (NBC News)

5/ Trump denied that he's planning to resume separating migrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border, despite pushing Nielsen to reinstitute a "zero-tolerance" immigration policy for months. Trump instead lied and blamed Obama for instituting the child separation policy and for building "cages." Obama had guidelines that prioritized the deportation of gang members, national security risks, and felons, while Trump's policy systematically separated families, even if they came in at a legal port of entry and were legal asylum seekers. (CNN / ABC News / Washington Post / Los Angeles Times)

  • 📌 Day 809: Nielsen reportedly resisted Trump's pressure to reinstate large-scale family separation at the border since January. Nielsen told Trump that federal court orders prohibited the Department of Homeland Security from reinstating the policy. Trump reportedly wanted families separated even if they came through a legal port of entry and were legal asylum seekers. Trump also wanted families separated if they were apprehended within the U.S. McAleenan has not ruled out family separation as an option. Separately, Trump was reportedly "ranting and raving, saying border security was his issue" two weeks ago. He then ordered Nielsen and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to shut down the port of El Paso the next day, Friday, March 22, at noon. Nielsen proposed an alternative plan that would slow down entries at legal ports, to which Trump responded: "I don't care." (NBC News / CNN)

6/ Attorney General William Barr will deliver Robert Mueller's report to Congress and the public "within a week," but that it would be redacted in order to protect ongoing investigations and individuals who have not been charged. Barr said he'd color-code redacted information into the 4 categories so the public will know why the material is being hidden. When asked during a House Appropriations Committee hearing whether he had briefed the White House on the report, Barr declined to answer: "I've said what I'm going to say about the report today." (New York Times / Washington Post / Axios / Reuters / Daily Beast)

  • Barr: Mueller turned down an offer to review the four-page summary of the report before it was released to the public last month. Barr said Mueller declined to review it in advance. (Politico)

  • The FBI confirmed that James Comey was a witness in the Mueller investigation. Specifically, the FBI was interested in the contemporaneous notes Comey took during his meetings with Trump. The FBI confirmed in a court filing that it was concerned that revealing any details about Comey's meeting memos might allow other people who knew about those conversations to "try to hide or fabricate information." (Axios / USA Today)


Notables.

  1. Treasury Department lawyers consulted with the White House about the potential release of Trump's tax returns before House Democrats formally requested the records. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin claimed "that the communication between our legal department and the White House general counsel was informational." (Washington Post)

  2. The Department of Justice recently adopted a narrow interpretation of the emoluments clause, which would exempt Trump's hotels from a ban on foreign payments or gifts. DOJ filings since June 2017 reveal a new interpretation that allows federal officials "to accept unlimited amounts of money from foreign governments, as long as the money comes through commercial transactions with an entity owned by the federal official." (The Guardian)

  3. House Republicans are warning drug companies against complying with a House Oversight Committee investigation into prescription drug pricing. Letters to a dozen CEOs of major drug companies warned that any information they provide to the committee could be leaked to the public and hurt their stock prices. (BuzzFeed News)

  4. Devin Nunes sued a newspaper chain for $150 million over an article he called a "character assassination." The article in the Fresno Bee, which covers Nunes' congressional district, describes a cruise in the San Francisco Bay that was hosted by a winery he partly owns. The cruise included drugs and prostitution. Last month, Nunes sued Twitter and two parody accounts for $250 million over mean tweets. (New York Times)

  5. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed that Trump designated the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization at his request. "Thank you for responding to another of my important requests," Netanyahu tweeted, "which serves the interests of our countries and countries of the region." (Los Angeles Times)

  6. Congressional Democrats and Republicans are moving to prevent the IRS from creating a free electronic tax filing system. The makers of TurboTax and H&R Block spent $6.6 million in lobbying to block the IRS from ever developing its own online tax filing system. (ProPublica)

Day 809: A way forward.

1/ Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen resigned after meeting with Trump to plan "a way forward" at the U.S.-Mexico border. Nielsen's resignation came two days after she traveled to the border with Trump, and three days after Trump withdrew his nomination of Ronald Vitiello to be the director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, because he wanted to "go in a tougher direction." In her resignation letter, Nielsen said it was the "right time for me to step aside." She will be replaced by U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan, who will take over as acting DHS Secretary until Trump appoints a permanent replacement. (New York Times / Washington Post / ABC News / Associated Press / CNN / Politico / NBC News) / Axios)

  • Government officials said at least two more top Homeland Security officials are expected to be forced out soon: L. Francis Cissna, the head of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, and John Mitnick, the department's general counsel. (New York Times)

2/ Nielsen reportedly resisted Trump's pressure to reinstate large-scale family separation at the border since January. Nielsen told Trump that federal court orders prohibited the Department of Homeland Security from reinstating the policy. Trump reportedly wanted families separated even if they came through a legal port of entry and were legal asylum seekers. Trump also wanted families separated if they were apprehended within the U.S. McAleenan has not ruled out family separation as an option. Separately, Trump was reportedly "ranting and raving, saying border security was his issue" two weeks ago. He then ordered Nielsen and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to shut down the port of El Paso the next day, Friday, March 22, at noon. Nielsen proposed an alternative plan that would slow down entries at legal ports, to which Trump responded: "I don't care." (NBC News / CNN)

  • The Trump administration expects it to take two years to identify thousands of families separated at the border. Several factors complicate the process of reunification because all the children of separated families have already been released from government custody, Customs and Border Protection didn't start tracking separated families as a searchable data set in its records before April 19, 2018, and there are nearly 50,000 case files. (CNN)

3/ A federal judge blocked the Trump administration from requiring asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while they wait for an immigration court to hear their cases. The preliminary injunction is nationwide and will go into effect on April 12th. Migrants named in the lawsuit will be allowed into the U.S. to pursue asylum. Nielsen ordered that the policy be expanded last week. (Associated Press / Reuters / CNN / Washington Post)

4/ Trump instructed his acting chief of staff to fire his Secret Service director. Mick Mulvaney instructed USSS Director Randolph "Tex" Alles 10 days ago to come up with an exit plan to leave on his own timeline. Five days ago, Trump said he "could not be happier with Secret Service" following an incident at Mar-a-Lago, where a Chinese woman illegally entered the club carrying Chinese passports and a flash drive containing malware. James Murray, a career USSS official, will replace Alles. (CNN / NBC News / Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / CNBC / Wall Street Journal)

5/ The woman who breached security at Mar-a-Lago had multiple electronic devices in her hotel room, including a signal detector to detect hidden cameras, another cell phone, nine USB drives, five SIM cards, and several credit cards in her name. The malware found on Yujing Zhang's thumb drive began to install onto an agent's computer, who described it as "very out of the ordinary" when conducting a criminal analysis. The FBI has been investigating Zhang as part of a Chinese espionage effort. Prosecutors urged the judge to keep her in custody, saying she's a flight risk with no ties to the U.S. (Bloomberg / CNN / Axios)

  • 📌 Day 803: A Chinese woman was charged with making false statements to the Secret Service after entering Mar-a-Lago with a thumb drive that contained "malicious software." Yujing Zhang was on the property on while Trump was playing golf at the Trump International course. Zhang told a receptionist she was there to attend an event (which did not exist), presenting documentation written in Chinese she claimed was her invitation to the event. After Secret Service agents were notified, Zhang claimed she was there to "go to the pool." Zhang was carrying two Republic of China passports, four cellphones, a laptop, a hard drive, and a thumb drive with malware on it. (CNBC / Washington Post / WPTV)

6/ New York lawmakers will introduce a bill this week to permit the Department of Taxation and Finance to release state tax returns requested by a congressional committee. Under the new proposal, the release of tax information would only happen after efforts to obtain federal tax information through the Treasury Department had failed. The move comes as the Trump administration has signaled that it will resist the House Ways and Means Committee request to turn over six years of Trump's federal business and personal tax returns by April 10th. Mick Mulvaney, meanwhile, promised that Democrats will "never" see Trump's tax returns. (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / Politico)

poll/ 17% of Americans believe their taxes will go down as a result of the 2017 Republican tax cut. 28% believe they'll pay more, 27% expect to pay about the same, and 28% don't know enough to say. 33% of Republicans believe they're getting a tax cut, while 10% of independents and 7% of Democrats do. (CNBC)


Notables.

  1. Trump designated Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a foreign terrorist organization in an effort to increase economic and political pressure on the Islamic regime in Tehran. It's the first time the U.S. has declared a part of a foreign government to be a terrorist organization. (NPR / New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

  2. A New York man threatened to kill Rep. Ilhan Omar because of her Muslim faith. Patrick Carlineo Jr. called Omar's Washington office and accused her of being "a (expletive) terrorist. I'll put a bullet in her (expletive) skull." Carlineo was arrested and charged with threatening to assault and murder Omar. (CNN / Washington Post)

  3. Trump mocked Omar hours after police charged a man for threatening to assault and murder her. Speaking to the Republican Jewish Coalition, Trump ran through a list of Republican lawmakers supportive of Israel, adding: "Special thanks to Representative Omar of Minnesota. Oh, I forgot. She doesn't like Israel. I forgot. I'm so sorry." (Bloomberg / Vox)

  4. Devin Nunes plans to send eight criminal referrals to Attorney General William Barr this week. Nunes did not reveal who he is planning to refer, but he did say that five of the referrals are related to lying to Congress, misleading Congress, and leaking classified information. Nunes said the remaining three referrals are related to allegations of lying to the court that approves surveillance warrants, manipulating intelligence, and a "global leak referral," which is not aimed at any single person. (CNN)

  5. The Trump administration canceled a deal between Major League Baseball and the Cuban Baseball Federation that would have allowed Cuban players to sign with U.S. teams without needing to defect. Administration officials suggested that the Obama-era decision, which deemed Cuba's baseball league to be separate from the Cuban government, would subject the players to "human trafficking" by the Cuban government, making them "pawns of the Cuba dictatorship." (Washington Post / Reuters / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

Day 806: Tougher direction.

1/ Trump asked Mitch McConnell to prioritize confirming the chief counsel of the IRS earlier this year. White House aides reportedly insisted that the confirmation of Michael Desmond was more important than the 2017 tax cuts and the nomination of William Barr as attorney general. Trump told McConnell on February 5th that he was worried Desmond would withdraw his nomination if the Senate didn't act soon. Desmond was confirmed two weeks later. (New York Times)

2/ Trump's lawyers asked the IRS chief counsel's office to reject House Democrats' request for six years of Trump's personal and business tax returns, saying "it would set a dangerous precedent." Trump's lawyers sent a letter to the IRS counsel's office responsible for responding to the request, calling the request a "gross abuse of power" and that Democrats do not have a "legitimate committee purpose" for obtaining the tax returns. An administration official also said Trump is willing to fight the House Ways and Means Committee request to the Supreme Court. (Wall Street Journal / CNN / Washington Post)

  • Trump suggested that the Justice Department could become involved in blocking the release of his tax returns to Democrats. Sarah Sanders added that Trump would not release his tax returns because they were under audit, a claim the White House has not allowed to be independently verified. Michael Cohen, however, told a congressional committee earlier this year that Trump's taxes were never under audit and that he simply didn't want scrutiny over his financial dealings. (Washington Post)

3/ Michael Cohen offered Democrats access to 14 million files that could have "significant value" to congressional investigators. Cohen is asking that they persuade the Southern District of New York to reduce or delay his 3-year prison sentence to allow him to review the files he was "only recently able to access" on a hard drive. A 12-page memo by Cohen's legal team outlines evidence they describe as "Trump's involvement in a conspiracy to collude with Russian government intervention in his favor during the 2016 presidential campaign" and "other felony crimes committed by Trump before and after he became president." The memo also claims that Trump "encouraged Cohen to lie and say all Moscow Tower project contacts ended as of January 31, 2016 using 'code' language — telling Cohen during various conversations that there was 'no collusion, no Russian contacts, nothing about Russia' after the start of the campaign.'" (CNN / New York Times / BuzzFeed News / Axios / CBS News)

  • 📌 Day 729: Trump personally directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about his plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow in order to obscure his involvement in the deal. Cohen and Trump had at least 10 face-to-face meetings about the deal during the campaign. Cohen acknowledged to Robert Mueller's team that he had given false testimony to the Senate and House intelligence committees that the Moscow tower negotiations ended in January 2016 were an attempt to "minimize links between the Moscow Project" and Trump "in hopes of limiting the ongoing Russia investigations." Trump also approved a plan by Cohen to visit Russia during the presidential campaign and meet with Putin in order to kick off the negotiations for the Moscow project. "Make it happen," Trump told Cohen. Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. both regularly received "very detailed updates" about the project from Cohen. The revelation marks the first time Trump is known to have directly – and explicitly – ordered one of his subordinates to lie about his dealings with Russia. (BuzzFeed News)

4/ Barr was invited to meet justice department officials the same day he submitted his unsolicited memo criticizing Robert Mueller's investigation into obstruction of justice by Trump. Three weeks later, Barr met the officials for lunch and was then nominated to serve as Trump's attorney general about six months later. The meeting was arranged by Steve Engel, the head of the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice. Barr concluded there was "not sufficient" evidence in Mueller's report to establish that Trump had committed obstruction of justice after consulting with Engel and Rod Rosenstein. (The Guardian)


Notables.

  1. Trump withdrew his nominee to lead ICE, saying he wants to go in a "tougher direction." Stephen Miller urged Trump to ditch Ron Vitiello because Vitiello was not fully in favor of closing the southern border. (Associated Press / CNN / Washington Post)

  2. Motel 6 agreed to pay $12 million to settle a lawsuit after giving information about 80,000 guests to ICE without warrants. Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson said the shared information led to targeted investigations of guests with Latino-sounding names. (NPR)

  3. A third federal judge ruled against the Trump administration's addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. The ruling, like two earlier ones, will likely be appealed to the Supreme Court. (Washington Post / NPR)

  4. New Mexico became the 14th state to pledge its electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote in future presidential elections. The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact now represents 189 electoral votes. The states, however, will not adopt the new vote allocations until their combined electoral votes equal 270. (CNN)

Day 805: Alarming and significant.

1/ Robert Mueller's investigators gathered "alarming and significant" evidence of obstruction by Trump that was "much more acute than [Attorney General William] Barr suggested" in his four-page letter to Congress. Members of the special counsel team told associates they believe their findings are potentially more damaging for Trump than Barr explained, and are frustrated that Barr did not adequately portray their work. The team had also prepared summaries for different sections of their 400-page report, which Barr did not use. Lawyers and FBI agents on Mueller's team reportedly could not reach an agreement about whether Trump's conduct amounted to obstruction of justice, but Barr, after consulting with Rod Rosenstein, went ahead and cleared Trump. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / Bloomberg)

  • The House Judiciary Committee called on Barr to release Mueller's summaries that were prepared as part of the Trump-Russia report. "If these recent reports are accurate … then those summaries should be publicly released as soon as possible," chairman Jerry Nadler said. Nadler also called on Barr to produce "all communications" about the Mueller report between the special counsel's office and the Justice Department. (Reuters)

2/ The Department of Justice defended Barr's handling of Mueller's 400-page report on possible obstruction and Russian interference, saying they didn't disclose the full report because "every page" contained protected grand jury information and it "therefore could not be publicly released." A full report is expected to be released by mid-April after "appropriate redactions." (Politico / Wall Street Journal / CNN)

  • Rand Paul blocked a resolution calling for Mueller's report to be released publicly. It was the fifth time that Republicans blocked the resolution, which unanimously passed in the House last month. (Axios)

3/ Trump accused the New York Times of being a "Fake News paper" with no "legitimate sources" after it reported that Mueller's team believes that the report is more damaging than Barr has indicated. "In fact, they probably had no sources at all!" The Times story was corroborated by the Washington Post and NBC News. (Axios / Daily Beast)

4/ The House voted to end American involvement in the Yemen war and cut off support for the Saudi-led coalition. The bill now heads to Trump, who is expected to veto it – his second veto as president – and Congress lacks the votes to override him. The White House claimed the resolution raises "serious constitutional concerns." It's the first time Congress has invoked the War Powers Resolution to try and stop a foreign conflict. (Associated Press / New York Times / Politico / CNBC / The Guardian)

5/ The House approved legislation reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act with new provisions to prohibit gun sales to convicted domestic abusers and stalkers. The National Rifle Association opposed the bill and said it'd be "scoring" how lawmakers vote on the bill to measure future ratings and endorsements in elections. (NPR / New York Times / Washington Post / CNN)


Notables.

  1. Trump backed down from his threat to close the southern border. Instead, he gave Mexico a "one-year warning" and threatened to impose car tariffs before closing the border "if the drugs don't stop." (Politico / NBC News / Washington Post / CNN / Bloomberg)

  2. Jared Kushner was among one of the 25 White House officials whose security clearance was initially denied but later overturned. A whistleblower in the White House's personnel security office said she and another career employee determined that Kushner had too many "significant disqualifying factors" to receive a clearance. (Washington Post)

  3. Trump intends to nominate Herman Cain for a seat on the Federal Reserve Board. Cain ran for the 2012 GOP president nomination, but dropped out after sexual harassment allegations. Cain also co-founded a pro-Trump super-political action committee, America Fighting Back PAC, which claims that "America is under attack" and "we must protect Donald Trump and his agenda from impeachment." (Axios / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

  4. Trump's nominee to lead the Interior Department continued lobbying clients for several months after vowing to end his lobbying activities. In November 2016, David Bernhardt filed a legal notice formally ending his status as a lobbyist, but continued his work until as late as April 2017. (New York Times)

  5. FBI Director Christopher Wray said that white supremacy is a "persistent" and "pervasive" threat to the U.S. After the New Zealand mosque massacre last month, Trump said he didn't consider white nationalism to be a rising global threat. (CNN)

Day 804: Not inclined.

1/ House Democrats formally requested six years of Trump's personal and business tax returns from the IRS. In a letter to the IRS, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee cited a little known provision in the IRS tax code that grants tax-writing committees in Congress the power to request tax information on any individual. Chairman Richard Neal requested Trump's personal tax returns from 2013 to 2018, giving the agency until April 10 to comply. Trump claimed his returns are being audited by the IRS and that he would "not be inclined to" turn anything over to Congress. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin previously told the Ways and Means committee that he would protect Trump's privacy if members of Congress requested his tax returns. (CNN / New York Times / NBC News / Bloomberg / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

  • 📌 Day 784: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin suggested that he would protect Trump's privacy if House Democrats request Trump's tax returns, saying: "We will examine the request and we will follow the law … and we will protect the president as we would protect any taxpayer" regarding their right to privacy. Mnuchin said he "can't speculate" on how the administration will respond to demands for Trump's tax returns until it sees the request. House Democrats are preparing to ask the IRS for 10 years of Trump's personal tax returns under under a 1924 provision that requires the Treasury secretary to "furnish" any individual's tax return information to the House and Senate tax-writing committees. (Associated Press / ABC News / Politico / CNN)

2/ Trump's accounting firm wants to be subpoenaed before it will comply with a request for 10 years of Trump's financial records by the House Oversight and Reform Committee. Elijah Cummings said Mazars USA "told us that they will provide the information pretty much when they have a subpoena. And we'll get them a subpoena." (Politico)

3/ The House Judiciary Committee authorized the use of subpoenas to force the Justice Department to give Congress a full copy of Robert Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, as well as all of the underlying evidence. Chairman Jerry Nadler said he would not immediately issue the subpoena, but will first negotiate with Attorney General William Barr for the full report and documents. Barr promised to give Congress a redacted version of Mueller's findings by mid-April. Democrats, however, have said that redactions are unacceptable, "because it is our job, not the Attorney General's, to determine whether or not President Trump has abused his office." The committee also voted to subpoena five former White House officials it believes may have documents relevant to Mueller's probe. (New York Times / Washington Post / NPR / Axios / NBC News / The Guardian)

  • Adam Schiff suggested that it is "inevitable" that Mueller will testify before Congress. The House Intelligence chairman added that his committee has "a statutory requirement that the Intelligence Community, FBI, brief us on any significant counterintelligence or intelligence activity. And it's hard to imagine something that rises more to that level than this investigation." (Bloomberg)

  • More than half of the House Judiciary Committee's 81 targets in its obstruction of justice and corruption investigation have declined to produce documents. The deadline to produce documents was March 18th. (Politico)

4/ Trump backed-off his enthusiasm for releasing Mueller's report publicly after initially claiming that it "wouldn't bother me at all" if the report was made public. Trump went on to single out congressional Democrats who are trying to obtain Mueller's report, tweeting that "There is no amount of testimony or document production that can satisfy Jerry Nadler or Shifty Adam Schiff. It is now time to focus exclusively on properly running our great Country!" Sarah Sanders echoed Trump, calling Democrats "sore losers" who "will never be satisfied." (Politico / CNN)

5/ The House Intelligence Committee asked an organizer of Trump's inaugural committee to provide documents about how the fund raised and spent $107 million. Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a former adviser to Melania Trump, served as a producer and a vendor for the inauguration. In February, federal prosecutors issued a subpoena to the inaugural committee for documents about donors, finances and activities. Prosecutors have been investigating whether foreigners illegally funneled donations through Trump's inaugural committee and a pro-Trump super PAC in hopes of buying influence over American policy. (New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Talking Points Memo)

  • 📌 Day 750: Trump's inauguration committee overpaid to use event spaces at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., despite internal objections at the Trump Organization that the rates were too high. The committee was charged a rate of $175,000 per day. An event planner, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, suggested that an appropriate rate would be closer to $85,000 per day. Tax law prohibits nonprofits from paying inflated prices to entities that are owned by people who also control the nonprofit. (ProPublica)

  • 📌 Day 392: Trump's inaugural committee paid nearly $26 million to an event planning firm started by Melania's adviser and longtime friend Stephanie Winston Wolkoff. The firm was created in December 2016 – 45 days before the inauguration. Trump’s inauguration committee raised $107 million and paid to WIS Media Partners $25.8 million. (New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

  • At least 14 major contributors to Trump's inaugural committee were later nominated to become ambassadors despite not having diplomatic experience. They donated an average slightly over $350,000 apiece. (NBC News)

6/ The House condemned Trump's support for a lawsuit seeking to eliminate the Affordable Care Act. In a non-binding resolution that passed 240 to 186, the House called the Justice Department's advocacy for abolishing the ACA "an unacceptable assault" on Americans' health care. (Washington Post / CNBC / Politico)

  • Trump claimed that he was "never planning a vote prior to the 2020 Election" on a replacement to the Affordable Care Act, despite last week saying that the effort was already "moving forward." Mitch McConnell told Trump this week he would not bring up a vote on the ACA in the Senate. (Politico)

poll/ 59% of voters have little or no trust in Trump to protect or improve the health care system. 58% of voters also have little or no trust in Republicans to improve health care. 53% of voters, however, have "a lot" or "some" trust in Democrats improve the health care system. (Morning Consult)


Notables.

  1. Mitch McConnell triggered the "nuclear option" to unilaterally reduce debate time on most of Trump's nominees. Under the new rule, debate time on the Senate floor for lower-level administration nominees will be cut to two hours from 30 hours. Democrats charged McConnell with hypocrisy, citing his refusal to hold a hearing for Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland and the numerous other lower court nominees he blocked in the final two years of Obama's presidency. (Bloomberg / Politico / Washington Post / New York Times)

  2. Wilbur Ross declined a second invitation to testify about Trump's budget request, claiming his scheduled appearance before a House Appropriations subcommittee would be a distraction from the budget discussion. Separately, Democrats on the House Oversight Committee voted to subpoena documents related to Ross' decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. (Politico / Reuters)

  3. A group of states are suing the Trump administration over changes it made to school lunch nutrition standards, arguing that the changes go against nutrition requirements put in place by Congress. (ABC News)

  4. Trump claimed that "the noise" from windmills "causes cancer." Wind turbines do not cause cancer. (Esquire / New York Magazine / CNN / Washington Post)


⚠️ Editor's note: Some might be wondering why I'm not covering Joe Biden's attempt at addressing allegations by four women that he touched them in inappropriate ways, and his claim that he will be "more mindful and respectful of people's personal space." This is a serious topic and Biden's non-apology and pinky-promise is predictably weak. However, this story falls outside the scope and mandate of this publication, which is to log the daily shock and awe of the current administration. I generally only cover the people and events outside of that charge when they intersect with the administration in some substantial way (Trump, for example, making fun of Biden for the allegations does not meet the definition of "substantial," FYI). -MATT

Day 803: "Incompetent or corrupt."

1/ Trump abandoned his plans to dismantle the Affordable Care Act a week after announcing that his administration agreed with a judge's ruling that the entire health care law should be eliminated. In a string of morning tweets, Trump promised that the "vote will be taken right after" the 2020 election "when Republicans hold the Senate and win back the House." Last week, after directing the Justice Department to support a full dismantling of the ACA on constitutional grounds, Trump urged Republicans to come up with a "spectacular" replacement to the ACA. He called the unwritten Republican proposal "truly great HealthCare that will work for America," while promising to unveil the plan "at the appropriate time." He offered no details about when that might be. Mitch McConnell, meanwhile, said he had "a good conversation" with Trump and "made it clear to him we were not going to be doing [health care] in the Senate." (Politico / New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg / CNN / NBC News)

  • 📌 Day 796: The Trump administration supports a federal appeals court ruling that the entire Affordable Care Act should be invalidated and thrown out. In a reversal, the Justice Department now says it agrees with the ruling of a federal judge in Texas that declared the ACA unconstitutional on the basis of a 2017 change in federal tax law that eliminated the penalty on uninsured people. Previously, the administration had pushed to remove the protections for people with pre-existing conditions. More than 20 million Americans are covered through the ACA's Medicaid expansion and its insurance exchanges. Trump, meanwhile,tweetedthat "The Republican Party will become 'The Party of Healthcare!'" (CNN / NPR / Politico / Washington Post / Vox / Axios / Mother Jones / New York Times)

2/ Trump walked back his threat to close the southwestern border over the increasing number of asylum seekers crossing into the US, saying "we're going to see what happens over the next few days." He added that "If we don't make a deal with Congress, the border's going to be closed […] 100 percent." Last week, Trump threatened that he "will be CLOSING….the Border, or large sections of the Border, next week." While Trump's top economic advisors have briefed him on the consequences of shutting down the border, he told reporters that "security is more important to me than trade." McConnell also cautioned that closing the border would be ill-advised and "have potentially catastrophic economic impact on our country, and I would hope we would not be doing that sort of thing." (Washington Post / Politico / Reuters/ NBC News / CNN / USA Today / ABC News)

3/ Trump blamed Puerto Rico for being "a mess" and called its politicians "incompetent or corrupt" after the Senate blocked billions of dollars in disaster aid for states and territories devastated by natural disasters in recent months. Senators took test votes on two competing measures: Republicans rejected a recovery bill passed by the House, citing Trump's opposition to the bill's Puerto Rico funding. Democrats, meanwhile, rejected the GOP legislation, arguing that the proposed $600 million in nutritional assistance for Puerto Rico was not enough. Trump has been pressuring Democrats to support a disaster relief measure that does not include the money they want for Puerto Rico. (New York Times / ABC News)

  • A White House spokesman twice referred to Puerto Rico as "that country" while defending Trump's attacks on the leaders of the U.S. territory. Hogan Gidley later clarified his statement, saying that calling Puerto Rico a country was a "slip of the tongue." (Politico / Washington Post)

poll/ 48% of American describe Trump as "aggressive" and 38% describe him as "mean." Trump scored high for being "insincere," "confident" and "creepy." On the attributes of being "sexy," "impartial," "handsome" and "physically fit," Trump scored between 0 and 4%. (New York Times)


Notables.

  1. The House Oversight and Reform Committee voted to subpoena the former White House personnel security director accused of overturning security clearances after a whistleblower complained that the Trump administration ignored national security concerns to approve clearances for 25 individuals whose applications were initially denied. Carl Kline will now be forced testify before the panel about his role in approving security clearances. (Washington Post / Politico)

  2. The House Oversight Committee also voted to subpoena Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for records related to the Commerce Department's decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. Ross testified before the committee in March, denying the citizenship question was intended to influence the allocation of congressional seats across the country. (Axios / Politico)

  3. A Chinese woman was charged with making false statements to the Secret Service after entering Mar-a-Lago with a thumb drive that contained "malicious software." Yujing Zhang was on the property on while Trump was playing golf at the Trump International course. Zhang told a receptionist she was there to attend an event (which did not exist), presenting documentation written in Chinese she claimed was her invitation to the event. After Secret Service agents were notified, Zhang claimed she was there to "go to the pool." Zhang was carrying two Republic of China passports, four cellphones, a laptop, a hard drive, and a thumb drive with malware on it. (CNBC / Washington Post / WPTV)

  4. The Department of Homeland Security quietly disbanded its domestic terrorism unit last year, saying that the threat of "homegrown violent extremism and domestic terrorism," including the threat from white supremacists, has been "significantly reduced." The branch of analysts in DHS's Office of Intelligence and Analysis were reassigned to new positions. (Daily Beast)

  5. Trump claimed for the third time that his father was born in Germany. Fred Trump was born in New York City, in the United States of America. Not Germany. (The Guardian / Washington Post)

Day 802: Meaningless.

1/ Senior Trump administration officials overturned and granted at least 25 security clearances – including two current senior White House officials – to people who were initially denied by career employees for "serious disqualifying issues" in their backgrounds. Tricia Newbold, a whistleblower working in the White House Personnel Security Office, told the House Oversight and Reform Committee that she warned her superiors that clearances "were not always adjudicated in the best interest of national security." Oversight Committee chairman Elijah Cummings said he was prepared to authorize subpoenas to compel the White House to comply with an investigation into whether national secrets were at risk. Newbold claims she was retaliated against for declining to issue security clearances, including being suspended without pay for 14 days. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / Associated Press / CNN / Wall Street Journal)

2/ The House Judiciary Committee plans to vote to authorize subpoenas to obtain Robert Mueller's full report. Attorney General William Barr pledged to release a redacted version of the report by mid-April. Chairman Jerry Nadler, however, wants the "full and complete report," which spans nearly 400 pages, as well as underlying evidence. (Washington Post / CNN)

3/ Trump called the 2020 census "meaningless" if it doesn't include a citizenship question that two federal judges have already ruled against. The Supreme Court is expected to rule on whether Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross' decision to add the citizenship question violated federal law by June. (Washington Post / Politico / Reuters)

4/ Trump plans to cut hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign assistance programs for Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Democrats called the move "short-sighted and flawed," "reckless," and "counterproductive" to reducing the flow of migrants to the U.S. border. The move affects nearly $500 million in 2018 funds earmarked for Central America but has not yet been spent. (Politico / NBC News / Washington Post)

  • Trump is considering bringing on a "immigration czar" to coordinate policies across various federal agencies. Trump is reportedly considering former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. (Associated Press)

5/ The White House reiterated Trump's threat to close the U.S. border with Mexico, despite warnings that the move would do little to slow migrants trying to enter the U.S. "It certainly isn't a bluff," Kellyanne Conway said. "You can take the president seriously." Mexico is America's third-largest trading partner and closing the border would cause immediate economic damage. (Washington Post / NBC News)

  • 📌 Day 799: Trump repeated his threat to close the U.S.-Mexico border as early as "next week" if the Mexican government doesn't "immediately" stop all undocumented migrants crossing into the U.S., saying he's "not playing games." Trump has repeatedly threatened to close the border, but he's never attached a specific timetable. (CNN / New York Times / Washington Post / ABC News / Vox)

  • Nearly half of all imported U.S. vegetables and 40% of imported fruit are grown in Mexico. American would run out of avocados in three weeks if imports from Mexico were stopped. (NBC News)

  • "Fox and Friends" described Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras as "3 Mexican Countries" while discussing the Trump administration's decision to cut aid to the so-called Northern Triangle. (Mother Jones)

poll/ 29% of Americans believe Trump has been cleared of wrongdoing, based on what they have heard about Attorney General William Barr summary of Robert Mueller's report. 40% do not believe he has been cleared and 31% are not sure if he's has been cleared. (NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

poll/ 38% believe no additional investigation is needed after Mueller delivered his report to Barr – down two percentage points from before Mueller delivered his report on the Russia investigation. (Lawfare)


Notables.

  • Trump is reportedly telling people he is "saving" Judge Amy Barrett for Ruth Bader Ginsburg's seat. Barrett's past academic writings suggest an openness to overturning Roe v. Wade. (Axios)

  • The White House claimed that Republicans are "working on a plan" to replace the Affordable Care Act. Senate Republicans were caught off guard last week by Trump's declaration that the Republican Party "will soon be known as the party of health care." Before his inauguration in 2017, Trump claimed his plan for replacing most of the ACA was nearly finished. (Washington Post)

  • White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney guaranteed that Americans would not lose their health insurance coverage if the Affordable Care Act was declared unconstitutional. Mulvaney promised that a replacement plan for the ACA would include protections more than 60 million Americans with pre-existing conditions. (USA Today)

  • More than 750,000 people would likely lose their food stamps under a new proposal by the Trump administration to encourage able-bodied adults to get a job. The administration wants to stop food stamps after three months for able-bodied adults without dependents who don't work, volunteer or get job training for at least 20 hours a week. (NPR)

  • A federal judge declared that Trump's order to open oil and gas drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans is illegal. The decision puts 128 million acres of federal waters off limits to energy exploration. (Washington Post)

  • A Connecticut woman accused Joe Biden of inappropriately touching her at a political fundraiser in 2009. The accusation comes three days after a former Nevada state lawmaker accused Biden of an "awkward kiss" at a campaign rally when she was the state's Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor in 2014. (Politico / New York Times / Hartford Courant)

  • A group of Senate Democrats will introduce a constitutional amendment to abolish the Electoral College this week. A constitutional amendment can be proposed by a two-thirds supermajority in both the House (~290 votes) and Senate (67 votes) and requires ratification by 38 states. (NBC News / Politico / Daily Beast)

  • Trump has made at least 9,451 false or misleading claims since taking office. Trump is making roughly 22 false or misleading claims a day – up from his average of nearly 5.9 false or misleading claims a day during his first year in office. (Washington Post)

Day 799: Not playing games.

1/ The Justice Department plans to release a redacted copy of Robert Mueller's report "by mid-April, if not sooner," according to Attorney General William Barr. In a letter to the chairmen of the House and Senate judiciary committees, Barr noted that the report is "nearly 400 pages long" and the Justice Department needs to redact sensitive portions of it, including secret grand jury testimony, classified materials and information about other ongoing federal investigations. Barr added that the White House would not see the report before he sent it to Congress. Barr offered to testify after the report is released, suggesting May 1 for the Senate committee and May 2 for the House committee. (Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / CNN) / Reuters)

2/ Trump repeated his threat to close the U.S.-Mexico border as early as "next week" if the Mexican government doesn't "immediately" stop all undocumented migrants crossing into the U.S., saying he's "not playing games." Trump has repeatedly threatened to close the border, but he's never attached a specific timetable. (CNN / New York Times / Washington Post / ABC News / Vox)

3/ A federal judge blocked a Trump administration rule allowing millions of Americans to buy health insurance that doesn't conform to Affordable Care Act coverage requirements, calling it "clearly an end-run around the ACA." The rule would make it easier for small businesses to offer health insurance plans outside the ACA, which would be both less expensive and provide fewer health protections. (Politico / Washington Post / CNN)

poll/ 75% of Americans think Mueller's full report should be made public, including 54% of Republicans. 66% said they want Mueller to testify before Congress with 64% wanting Barr to testify. (NPR)


Notables.

  1. Trump held his first 2020 campaign rally since Mueller wrapped up his investigation into Russian interference into the 2016 election, which he claimed to be his "complete and total exoneration." "After three years of lies and smears and slander, the Russia hoax is finally dead," Trump told the crowd. "The collusion delusion is over." Trump also used his time on stage to attack House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff, who has led the charge to investigate Trump's dealings with Russia and continues to insist that he has seen clear evidence of collusion. "Little pencil-neck Adam Schiff," Trump said at the rally. "He’s got the smallest, thinnest neck I’ve ever seen." Trump also called for retribution against "All of the Democrat politicians. The media bosses. Bad people. The crooked journalists," and everyone else who "paid for, promoted, and perpetuated the single greatest hoax in the history of politics, they have to be — I’m sorry — they have to be accountable," Trump said. The crowd responded with chants of "Lock them up!" (New York Times / NBC News / Politico / Mediaite)

  2. Mike Pompeo met with Saudi Prince Khalid bin Salman, who lied to senators about his role in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. According to the CIA assessment of Khashoggi's murder, Khalid bin Salman encouraged Khashoggi to visit the embassy to retrieve required documents for his marriage. (Washington Examiner / Talking Points Memo / Washington Post)

  3. Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans are planning to change Senate rules in order to speed up the confirmation of most of Trump's nominees. A Senate resolution, approved by the Senate Rules Committee in February, would cut the time allotted for floor debate on from 30 hours to two hours for all nominations except for Cabinet choices, nominees for the Supreme Court and appellate courts and some independent boards. (Washington Post / Politico)

  4. A Trump appointee directed millions of dollars in government contracts to Republican communications consultants during her time as administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Some of the deals Seema Verma managed were approved over the objections of agency staffers, who were concerned that she was spending federal funding on GOP consultants to amplify coverage of her own work. (Politico)

  5. Trump's nominee to serve as third in command at the Justice Department has withdrawn herself from consideration, following opposition from conservative senators who had concerns that U.S. Attorney Jessie Liu would not be strong enough in opposing abortion rights. Barr reportedly got into a "shouting match" with Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee, a key leader opposing Liu's bid. (NPR / CNN / The Hill)

  6. Linda McMahon will resign as the head of the Small Business Administration to chair the pro-Trump super PAC America First Action. The former chief executive of World Wrestling Entertainment had rumored to replace Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. (Politico / New York Times)

  7. Trump claimed he had "overridden" proposed cuts and "authorized a funding of the Special Olympics" after Betsy DeVos spent three days defending her plan to eliminate funding for the program. The White House can make budget recommendations to Congress, but can't actually implement cuts. (Reuters / CNN / CNBC)

Day 798: Bully.

1/ Robert Mueller's report is more than 300 pages long and contains "lots and lots of footnotes," raising questions about how Attorney General Bill Barr was able to release his four-page summary of "principal conclusions" two days after Mueller turned it in. Democrats have demanded that Barr make the full report and "all of the underlying evidence" public. Nancy Pelosi called Barr's summary "condescending" and "arrogant." The Justice Department, meanwhile, has said it will release a version of the Mueller report in "weeks not months," but sensitive information will not be included. (New York Times / Politico / Wall Street Journal / Associated Press / Axios / CNN / NBC News)

2/ Barr is expected to miss the House Democrats' April 2nd deadline for him to turn in the full Mueller report to Congress. Democrats are expected to subpoena the Justice Department for the full report if Barr misses the deadline. Barr also suggested that it will likely take weeks to redact the report. House Judiciary Committee chairman, Jerry Nadler, said Barr "wouldn't commit" to releasing the report to Congress without redactions, but did agree to testify to the committee "reasonably soon." (Washington Post / Bloomberg / The Guardian)

3/ Trump and Republicans in Congress are calling Adam Schiff to resign after Mueller's report did not conclude that the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to influence the 2016 election. Trump accused Schiff of having "spent two years knowingly and unlawfully lying and leaking" and should therefore "be forced to resign from Congress!" Schiff insists that "undoubtedly there was collusion" and vowed that the House Intelligence Committee will continue to look into the counterintelligence aspects of Mueller's investigation. (Politico / Reuters / CNN / NBC News)

  • Trump accused two former FBI employees of having "committed treason" for investigating possible Russian links to his campaign during the 2016 campaign. Peter Strzok was fired from the FBI after officials discovered he had been sharing anti-Trump texts with Lisa Page, an FBI lawyer and former member of the Mueller investigation, who he was having an affair with. Trump also promised to release the FISA warrants and related documents used by the FBI to investigate his campaign in full and unredacted in order to "get to the bottom" of how the Russia collusion narrative began. (Bloomberg / Axios / Fox News)

  • A federal judge has ordered that the Justice Department and FBI turnover James Comey's memos in full. Many of the memos have been released publicly, but some parts remain redacted. Earlier this month, the Justice Department argued that release of other information in the Comey memos could hurt the then-ongoing Mueller investigation. (CNN)

  • Jared Kushner met privately with the Senate Intelligence Committee, which wanted to re-interview witnesses central to the Russia investigation. (CNBC / CNN)

  • Russian agent Maria Butina will be sentenced on April 26. Butina pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to act as a Russian agent without registering with the Justice Department. She faces a maximum of five years in prison but could receive zero to six months because of a plea deal. (NPR)

4/ Trump frequently exaggerated his net worth and hid his debts to lenders and investors, sometimes sending official-looking documents called "Statements of Financial Condition." Investigators on Capitol Hill and in New York are attempting to determine if Trump's inflated numbers ever crossed over into fraud. (Washington Post)

5/ The Department of Homeland Security will ask Congress for the authority to deport unaccompanied migrant children more quickly. Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen will also propose holding families seeking asylum in detention until their cases are decided and allow immigrants to apply for asylum from their home countries. (NBC News)

  • Trump – again – threatened to close the U.S.-Mexico border because he says Mexico and several Central American countries are not doing enough to stem the flow of migrants coming to the United States. Trump singled out Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador in particular for having "taken our money for years" but not doing anything about migration. Trump continued that "Mexico is doing NOTHING to help stop the flow of illegal immigrants to our Country." (Politico / Washington Post)

poll/ 56% of American say Trump has done too little to distance himself from white nationalist groups. 28% of Americans called Trump even-tempered and 36% called Trump trustworthy. (Pew Research Center)


Notables.

  1. The Supreme Court declined to block the Trump administration from enforcing its ban on bump stocks, which enable semi-automatic weapons to fire like machine guns. The regulation went into effect on Tuesday and bans the sale or possession of the devices. (Associated Press / New York Times / Reuters)

  2. The National Rifle Association is opposing an expansion of the Violence Against Women Act, which seeks to block people who have committed domestic abuse from obtaining firearms. (Daily Beast)

  3. Puerto Rico's governor called Trump a "bully" over the White House's efforts to limit disaster relief aid needed to repair the damages brought by Hurricane Maria in late 2017. Trump, meanwhile, claimed that no other "living human being" has taken better care of Puerto Rico than him.(CNN / Bloomberg / Politico)

  4. The Trump administration approved six secret authorizations to sell nuclear power technology and assistance to Saudi Arabia. The White House has been pursuing a deal that involves sharing U.S. nuclear power technology with the Saudis and building two nuclear power plants in the country. Russia, South Korea, the United States, and other countries are all competing on the deal, and Saudi Arabia is expected to announce the winners later this week. (Reuters / CNBC)

  5. Trump says the FBI and Department of Justice will review the "outrageous" decision by prosecutors in Chicago to drop all charges against actor Jussie Smollett, calling the decision "an embarrassment to our Nation!" The DOJ declined to comment, and Smollett's attorney said "we have nothing to be concerned about" when it comes to the federal probe. (NBC News)

  6. Trump's nominee for a seat on the Federal Reserve owes more than $75,000 in taxes and other penalties. Stephen Moore referred questions about the tax debt to his wife (Bloomberg)

  7. Trump is expected to pick a Fox News contributor to be the new State Department spokesperson. Morgan Ortagus is under consideration to replace Heather Nauert, a former Fox News anchor. (NBC News / CNN)

  8. Twitter is considering labeling Trump's tweets that violate its rules – but won't delete them because – they claim – they're in the public interest. (