What The Fuck Just Happened Today?

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

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Day 302: What about yours?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 301: Bring it on.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 300: No plans.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 299: Do not recall.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 298: Step aside.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 295: If true.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 294: Great credit.

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

Full Quote:

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

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

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

Background:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 293: Refreshed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Election Night in America:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 292: Incredible insights.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 291: Bad conduct.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 288: The only one that matters.

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

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

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

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

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

4/ Trump's not worried about the unfilled State Department jobs, because "I'm the only one that matters." As of last month, the administration had filled about a quarter of the roughly 600 State Department positions that require Senate confirmation. "We don't need all of the people," Trump said in an interview with Fox News, arguing that the lack of nominees for key positions at the State Department wouldn't affect his agenda. "You know, it's called cost-saving." (NPR / The Hill)

5/ Trump is "very unhappy," "disappointed," and "frustrated" with the Justice Department for not investigating Hillary Clinton. Despite acknowledging that presidents are not supposed to intervene with law enforcement decisions – which he called "the saddest thing" – Trump insisted that the DOJ investigate "Crooked Hillary," "Crazy Bernie," and "Pocahontas," a nickname he uses for Elizabeth Warren. (New York Times / Washington Post)

6/ A Twitter contractor leaving the company deactivated Trump's account, which was down for 11 minutes before being restored. Trump tweeted Friday morning, "I guess the word must finally be getting out-and having an impact." (CNN / Reuters)

7/ The Trump administration approved a report that contradicts its position on climate change. The National Climate Assessment finds the global, long-term warming trend to be "unambiguous" and that there is "no convincing alternative explanation" that anything other than humans are the cause. Scott Pruitt, Rick Perry, and Trump have all questioned the extent of humans’ contribution to climate change. (New York Times / Washington Post)

8/ House Republicans passed legislation to fund the children’s health program in a 242-174 vote. Republicans plan to pay for the program by cutting a separate public health program and raising Medicare premiums. Senators, meanwhile, have agreed on a bill extending the program’s funding for five more years, but are divided over how to pay for it. The CHIP program provides more than 8 million low-income children with low-cost health insurance. (Associated Press)

poll/ 60% of Americans say Trump's tax plan will benefit the wealthy, while 17% think it will treat people equally. Among those that make $100,000 or more, 61% think Trump's plan will benefit them most. (ABC News)

Day 287: Cut, cut, cut.

1/ House Republicans unveiled the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which reduces the number of tax brackets from seven to five, maintains the top tax rate at 39.6%, raises the standard deduction from $6,350 to $12,000 for individuals and from $12,700 to $24,000 for married couples. The bill reduces the corporate tax rate from 35% to 20%, repeals the state and local income tax deductions, limits the property tax deduction to $10,000, and expands the child tax credit from $1,000 to $1,600. The treatment of pre-tax contributions to 401(k) and IRA would be preserved. Homeowners can keep their mortgage interest deduction, but the bill caps the deduction for new mortgages at $500,000, while also repealing the estate tax in 2024. The bill is estimated to cost $1.487 trillion over a decade, but lawmakers must keep the cost of the bill to $1.5 trillion if they want to pass it along party lines and avoid a filibuster by Democrats. (NBC News / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

  • Trump wanted to call the tax plan the "Cut, Cut, Cut Act." Paul Ryan initially asked the White House for input because of the Trump's knack for branding. Ryan and Kevin Brady, the House Ways and Means Committee Chairman, pushed back. (ABC News)

2/ Sam Clovis has withdrawn his nomination for the Department of Agriculture's chief scientist role after coming under criticism for his lack of science credentials (he's not a scientist) and for his role supervising George Papadopoulos. In a letter to Trump, Clovis wrote that he does "not want to be a distraction or a negative influence." Clovis is a self-described skeptic of climate change. (Politico / Bloomberg)

3/ The White House learned that Sam Clovis testified before the grand jury from media reports. Last week Clovis testified before the investigating grand jury and was questioned by Robert Mueller's team about his role on Trump’s campaign. Emails between Clovis and George Papadopoulos, whom he supervised, show Clovis encouraging Papadopoulos to engage with his Russian contacts. (ABC News)

4/ Senate Democrats asked Jeff Sessions to clarify his confirmation hearing remarks regarding attempts by the campaign to coordinate a meeting between Trump and Putin. Both the Senate intelligence and judiciary committees asked Sessions to formally clarify his remarks after it was reported that Trump declined to rule out the idea proposed by George Papadopoulos. Sessions weighed in and rejected the proposal to use Papadopoulos' "Russian contacts" to arrange a meeting. During his confirmation testimony, Sessions testified that he was "not aware" of anyone from the Trump campaign communicating with the Russians. (CNN / NBC News)

  • Carter Page met with the House Intelligence Committee in private looking into Russian involvement in the 2016 election. Page originally wanted to be questioned by the panel in public. The committee agreed to release a transcript three days after the interview. (Bloomberg)

  • Paul Manafort wired millions of dollars into the US through a company linked to one of Russia’s most notorious criminals. The Cyprus-based Lucicle Consultants Limited received millions of dollars from a businessman and Ukrainian parliamentarian named Ivan Fursin, who is closely linked to Semion Mogilevich, who is frequently described as "the most dangerous mobster in the world." (The Daily Beast)

5/ Jared Kushner turned over documents from the campaign and the transition to Robert Mueller in recent weeks. The documents are similar to the ones Kushner gave to the Senate Intelligence Committee. Mueller has been asking witnesses about Kushner's role in the firing of FBI Director James Comey. (CNN)

6/ The Justice Department has identified at least six Russian government officials involved in the DNC hack that resulted in thousands of emails being released by WikiLeaks last year. Prosecutors have assembled evidence to charge the Russian officials and could bring a case next year. U.S. intelligence agencies have attributed the hack to Russian intelligence services. (Wall Street Journal)

7/ The hackers who targeted Hillary Clinton's campaign had international targets corresponding with Russian interests. A digital "hit list" shows a multi-year operation that tried to break into the inboxes of 4,700 Gmail accounts worldwide and targeted the emails of Ukrainian officers, Russian opposition leaders, U.S. defense contractors, and more. The list was found by the cybersecurity firm Secureworks after the "Fancy Bear" hacking group forgot to set an active Bitly account to private. One of the experts who reviewed the list described the data as "a master list of individuals whom Russia would like to spy on, embarrass, discredit or silence." (Associated Press)

8/ Robert Mercer, whose money helped elect Trump, will step down as as co-CEO of Renaissance Technologies in an effort to distance himself from Trump. Mercer will also sell his stake in Breitbart to his daughters "for personal reasons." In a letter to investors, Mercer also that he was severing ties with Milo Yiannopoulos, a former Breitbart writer who had cultivated white nationalists and used them to generate ideas on the site. Mercer was also a large financial backer of Cambridge Analytica, a voter-data firm that worked for Trump's campaign. (New York Times / BuzzFeed News / Bloomberg)

9/ Rick Perry suggested that expanding the use of fossil fuels could help prevent sexual assault. "From the standpoint of sexual assault," Perry said. "When the lights are on, when you have light that shines, the righteousness, if you will on those types of acts." The energy secretary also said that while he thinks climate change is real, "I still think the science is out on" whether humans are the cause of it. (The Hill / Axios)

  • U.S. government researchers say that it is "extremely likely" that human activities are the "dominant cause" of global warming, the Climate Science Special Report finds. The conclusions contradict statements by Trump and his Cabinet members, who have openly questioned the role humans play in changing the climate. (NPR)

10/ Elizabeth Warren and Donna Brazile both say the 2016 Democratic primary was "rigged." In an excerpt promoting her upcoming book, Brazile accused Hillary Clinton's campaign of "unethical" conduct that "compromised the party's integrity" through a joint fundraising agreement with the DNC that allegedly gave Clinton control of the "party's finances, strategy, and all the money raised" before she officially won the nomination. Bernie Sanders' campaign also signed its own joint fundraising agreement with the DNC in 2015. Warren agrees that the 2016 Democratic primary was "rigged." (CNN / Washington Post)

poll/ 49% of Americans think Trump likely committed a crime. 58% approve of how special counsel Robert Mueller is handling the investigation. (ABC News)

A look ahead:

  • Trump and Jeff Sessions denied knowing if anybody from the campaign was in contact with the Russians. Records suggest otherwise. (New York Times)

  • Carter Page testified that he told Jeff Sessions about his trip to Russia. (CNN)

Day 286: The lowest point.

1/ Trump did not dismiss the idea of meeting with Putin when it was suggested by George Papadopoulos in March 2016. "He didn't say yes and he didn't say no," according to a person in the room at the time. Jeff Sessions shot down the idea. However, in a July 2016 email to his Russian contact, Papadopoulos proposed a meeting in August or September between "my national chairman and maybe one other foreign policy adviser" and members of Putin's office and Russia's foreign ministry. "It has been approved by our side," Papadopoulos wrote. It's not clear if the meeting ever occurred, but Paul Manafort was the campaign chairman at the time. (CNN / Bloomberg)

  • Paul Manafort and Rick Gates posed a "serious risk of flight," Robert Mueller argued in the pair's bail memo. He requested sizable bail and travel restrictions on the two because of their "substantial overseas ties, including assets held abroad, significant foreign work connections, and significant travel abroad." Manafort's bail was set at $10 million, Gates's at $5 million. Manafort currently has three US passports. Both are on house arrest. (NBC News/ CNN)

  • Speculation: Jeff Sessions may have perjured himself. During his confirmation hearing in January, Sessions was asked "if there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government" during the campaign. Sessions responded: "I’m not aware of any of those activities… I didn’t have – did not have communications with the Russians, and I’m unable to comment on it." (New Republic)

2/ Facebook, Google, and Twitter testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee. It was the second day in a row the tech companies answered questions on Capitol Hill. The tech firms admitted that they could have done more to prevent Russian meddling in the US election. Yesterday, the firms said that content by a Russian troll farm known as the Internet Research Agency sought "to create discord between Americans" during the election, but after the election, the troll farm sought to undermine Trump's legitimacy. (Washington Post / Politico)

  • Members of the House intelligence panel released the social media ads Russia wanted Americans to see. (Politico)

3/ Twitter offered Russian television network RT 15% of its US election advertising inventory for $3 million dollars. The US intelligence community describes RT as "the Kremlin’s principal international propaganda outlet." (BuzzFeed News)

  • As many as 20 million Americans may have seen Russian-backed content on Instagram in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election. (Reuters)

4/ In a call with Steve Bannon, Trump blamed Jared Kushner for his role in decisions that led to Robert Mueller's appointment as special counsel. In the call, Trump complained about Kushner's advice that led to the decisions to fire Michael Flynn and James Comey.

Separately, Roger Stone told Trump that Kushner was giving him bad political advice. A former Trump campaign aide described "Jared [as] the worst political adviser in the White House in modern history," adding that "Trump is at 33 percent [approval] in Gallup. You can’t go any lower. He’s fucked." In a call with the New York Times, Trump said he was "not angry at anybody" and that the investigation into his campaign's links to Russia have "nothing to do with us." (Vanity Fair)

5/ Trump blamed Chuck Schumer for yesterday's terror attack in New York City where a motorist killed several people after driving onto a bicycle path near the World Trade Center memorial. Trump tweeted that "the terrorist came into our country through what is called the 'Diversity Visa Lottery Program,' a Chuck Schumer beauty. I want merit based." Trump added: "I have just ordered Homeland Security to step up our already Extreme Vetting Program. Being politically correct is fine, but not for this!"

In 2013, Schumer was a member of the Senate's Gang of Eight, which proposed to eliminate of the diversity lottery. The bill passed in the Senate but died in the House. Schumer’s response: "I guess it’s not too soon to politicize a tragedy."

Speaking from the Senate floor, Schumer criticized Trump, asking: "President Trump where is your leadership? The contrast between President Bush's actions after 9/11 and President Trump's actions this morning could not be starker." Trump, meanwhile, called the justice system a "joke" and "a laughing stock." (Washington Post / CBS News)

6/ House Republicans delayed the release of their tax bill until Thursday as they try to meet the $1.5 trillion spending limit set by the budget. The tax plan is expected to maintain the top individual tax rate of 39.6%, cut the corporate tax rate to 20%, delay the planned repeal of the estate tax, and limit the individual tax-free contributions to 401(k)s. Trump has insisted that the bill be called the Cut Cut Cut Act and called on Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate as part of its tax overhaul. (NBC News / Wall Street Journal / ABC News)

7/ The EPA barred anyone that receives EPA grant money from serving on panels that counsel the agency on scientific decisions. In doing so, EPA head Scott Pruitt removed six scientists and academics from advisory positions at the EPA. Pruitt is expected to now appoint several industry representatives to the panels. (New York Times / Washington Post)

8/ The Senate confirmed a circuit court nominee who has suggested that Roe v. Wade was an "erroneous decision." Amy Coney Barrett has also called the Affordable Care Act's birth control benefit "an assault on religious liberty." Barrett was confirmed 55-43 to a lifetime position on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit — one level below the Supreme Court. (HuffPost)

poll/ 59% of Americans think this is the lowest point in the nation's history that they can remember. 63% say they are stressed about the nation's future. (American Psychological Association)

Day 285: Covfefe boy.

1/ Trump spent yesterday "seething" as he watched the Mueller probe unfold on TV. The indictments of Paul Manafort and Rick Gates weren't a surprise to Trump, but the guilty plea by George Papadopoulos for making false statements to the FBI was not expected. "The walls are closing in," said a senior Republican in close contact with top Trump staffers. "Everyone is freaking out." (Washington Post / CNN)

2/ Team Trump dismissed Papadopoulos as a "liar," their "coffee boy," and just a "young, low level volunteer" after the former foreign policy adviser cut a plea deal with prosecutors yesterday. In a morning tweet, Trump cast the Manafort charges as a sort of vindication for the campaign, but belittled Papadopoulos as a proven liar, despite having called him "an excellent guy" in March 2016. On CNN's "New Day," Michael Caputo, a former Trump campaign aide, reduced Papadopoulos to a "coffee boy" that "never did anything" for the campaign. (Politico / Washington Post / New York Times)

3/ Court documents show that Papadopoulos shared his Russian outreach with several senior Trump campaign officials. Here's the breakdown:

"The Campaign Supervisor" named in the documents is Sam Clovis, who served as Trump's national campaign co-chairman. Clovis urged Papadopoulos to organize an "off the record" meeting with Russian officials.

The "High-Ranking Campaign Official" named is campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. Papadopoulos wrote to Lewandowski several times to let him know that the Russians were interested in forging a relationship with the campaign, including an email about discussing "Russia’s interest in hosting Mr. Trump."

"Another high-ranking campaign official" is Paul Manafort, who Papadopoulos sent an email to with the subject line "Request from Russia to meet Mr. Trump." Manafort forwarded the email to another campaign official, stating: "We need someone to communicate that DT is not doing these trips," referring to a trip to Russia. "It should be someone low level in the campaign so as not to send any signal." (Washington Post / US v. George Papadopoulos)

  • Carter Page admitted that Russia "may have come up" in his Trump campaign emails, but "nothing major" was discussed. Former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser is scheduled to testify behind closed doors before a House Intelligence Committee panel on Thursday. (CNN / Politico)

4/ Sam Clovis was questioned by Robert Mueller's team last week and testified before the investigating grand jury. Clovis supervised George Papadopoulos during the campaign. The former co-chair and policy adviser to Trump’s campaign was also interviewed recently by the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election. He was described as "a fully cooperative witness." Clovis is Trump's pick to be the Department of Agriculture's chief scientist and is awaiting Senate confirmation. He is not a scientist. (NBC News / Politico)

5/ Hope Hicks will meet with Robert Mueller in mid-November. The White House communications director, and longtime Trump aide, has been at the president's side and in the room since before he launched his presidential campaign. The White House currently expects Mueller to wrap up his interviews by Thanksgiving. (Politico)

6/ Steve Bannon advised Trump to find new lawyers, because he believes that Ty Cobb and John Dowd, the top two attorneys on Trump's legal team, "are asleep at the wheel." Bannon is also pushing Trump to take action against Robert Mueller, urging him to defund the investigation – a move that would curtail Mueller without having to formally fire him. (The Daily Beast /Politico)

7/ Facebook, Twitter, and Google appeared before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee today for the first of three public hearings. Facebook told members that Russians bought 3,000 Facebook ads, which had the potential reach of 126 million users – equivalent to more than half of the total U.S. voting population. Google found 1,108 videos with 43 hours of content related to the Russian effort on YouTube. And Twitter identified 2,752 accounts controlled by Russian operatives and more than 36,000 bots that tweeted 1.4 million times during the election campaign. (Washington Post / Bloomberg / CNN)

  • What You Should Know about the Senate Judiciary Sub-Committee Hearing on Extremist Content and Russian Disinformation Online - Working with Tech to Find Solutions.

8/ House Republicans are rushing to finalize their tax bill before tomorrow's anticipated release. Many key details of the bill, which has been drafted behind closed-doors, have not been finalized and some are worried that the unveiling may have to be postponed. Trump said he wants "the House to pass a bill by Thanksgiving. I want all the people standing by my side when we sign by Christmas." (New York Times / The Hill / Politico)

poll/ 49% of voters support impeaching Trump, to 41% who are opposed to doing so. Of Trump voters, 79% think he should remain in office even if collusion is proven, and 75% claim the entire Russia story is “fake news." (Public Policy Polling)

Day 284: "NO COLLUSION!"

1/ In a 12-count indictment, Robert Mueller charged Paul Manafort and his associate Rick Gates with conspiracy to launder more than $18 million, making false statements to the Justice Department, and other charges stemming from probes into possible Russian influence in US political affairs. The indictment of Manafort, Trump's former campaign chairman, and Gates focused on their work advising a pro-Russia party in Ukraine between 2006 to 2015, laundering money through 2016, and continuing the conspiracy against the US in 2017. The charges – the first by Mueller – make no mention of Trump or Russian election meddling. Both Manafort and Gates surrendered to Justice Department and pleaded not guilty on all counts today. (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Politico)

  • Read the unsealed federal grand jury indictment against Manafort and Gates. (CNN)

  • The 12-count Manafort and Gates indictment, annotated. (Washington Post)

  • A conservative website funded by a major Republican donor was the first to hire Fusion GPS to conduct opposition research on Trump. The Washington Free Beacon, funded in large part by the New York hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer, hired Fusion GPS in October 2015. (New York Times)

2/ Trump's former foreign policy adviser pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about an April 2016 conversation with a professor with close ties to the Russian government that said Moscow had "dirt" on Hillary Clinton in the form of "thousands of emails." George Papadopoulos repeatedly tried to arrange a meeting between the Trump campaign and Russian government officials. Papadopoulos was arrested in July 2017 and has been working with Mueller ever since as a "proactive cooperator," court documents show. The single felony count against Papadopolous directly relates to the 2016 presidential campaign. (New York Times / Bloomberg / NBC News / Politico)

  • Trump, Pence, and Jeff Sessions are schedule to meet today. Sessions was invited to Trump's weekly lunch with Pence. (The Hill)

  • Trump will not interfere with Robert Mueller's investigation or try to fire the former FBI director, Trump's lawyer Jay Sekulow said. Sarah Huckabee Sanders added that Trump has “no intention or plan” to fire Mueller. (Reuters / Politico)

  • Russian agents began reaching out to Trump's campaign as early as March 2016, the Justice Department established in documents released Monday. (NPR)

3/ Trump tweets loud noises in response to the indictment news. Starting Sunday, Trump in a tweet storm challenged Republicans to "DO SOMETHING!" about Obamacare, Hillary Clinton, Democrats, the Fusion GPS dossier, tax cuts, and the Mueller investigation. He continued Monday following the indictments: "Sorry, but this is years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign. But why aren’t Crooked Hillary & the Dems the focus?????" Trump continued: "….Also, there is NO COLLUSION!" The White House added that "today has zero to do with the" Trump campaign. (NBC News / The Hill / Vox)

  • Fox News discussed the cheeseburger emoji instead of the Manafort indictment. (Vox)

4/ Tony Podesta will step down from his lobbying firm after coming under investigation by Robert Mueller. Podesta (the brother of John Podesta) and the Podesta Group had worked on a campaign with Paul Manafort to promote Ukraine's image in the West. Podesta’s decision to leave the firm came on the same day that Manafort and Rick Gates were indicted on multiple charges. The Podesta Group and Mercury Public Affairs are the two unnamed companies in the grand jury indictment of Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, which were referred to as "Company A" and "Company B" in the indictment. (Politico / NBC News)

5/ Puerto Rico cancelled its contract with Whitefish Energy. The $300 million contract awarded to a two-person Montana utility company linked to the Trump administration to repair Puerto Rico's electrical infrastructure has drawn criticism. FEMA said it has "significant concerns" about the contract. (NPR / Washington Post)

  • The FBI is investigating the decision by Puerto Rico’s power authority to award a $300 million contract to a tiny Montana energy firm to rebuild electrical infrastructure damaged in Hurricane Maria. (Wall Street Journal)

6/ More than 50% of Trump’s nominees are tied to the industries they're supposed to regulate. Of the 341 nominations Trump has made to Senate-confirmed administration positions, more than half (179) have some notable conflict of interest. One hundred and five nominees worked in the industries that they were being tasked with regulating; 63 lobbied for, were lawyers for, or otherwise represented industry members that they were being tasked with regulating; and 11 received payments or campaign donations from members of the industry that they were being tasked with regulating. (The Daily Beast)

  • One of Trump’s judicial nominees has been deemed "not qualified" by the American Bar Association. The ABA says members of its standing committee unanimously concluded, with one person abstaining, that Leonard Steven Grasz was not qualified to serve as a federal judge. (Politico)

7/ A federal judge blocked enforcement of Trump's ban on transgender troops in the military. US District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly said Trump's reasons for the ban "do not appear to be supported by any facts." Kollar-Kotelly added that current and aspiring transgender service members "fear that the directives of the Presidential Memorandum will have devastating impacts on their careers and their families." (HuffPost / Washington Post / USA Today)

poll/ 38% of voters approve of Trump's job performance – down five points since September – while 58% of voters disapprove. (NBC News)

poll/ 33% of voters approve of Trump's job performance. 60% disapprove. (Gallup)

Day 281: Significant concerns.

1/ Trump hasn't imposed sanctions on Russia because Rex Tillerson dissolved the office that implements them. After the Coordinator for Sanctions Policy office was eliminated just one mid-level official is now responsible for coordinating the implementation of sanctions across the State Department and other government agencies. The administration missed the October 1st deadline to implement new penalties against Russia, which were adopted by Congress in August. (Foreign Policy / The Hill)

2/ Trump claimed that it's "commonly agreed" that he didn't collude with Russia. Instead, he accused Hillary Clinton of working with the Kremlin amid reports that Clinton and the DNC paid for the dossier of accusations about Trump and his ties to Russia. Trump tweeted that "after many months of COSTLY looking, that there was NO collusion between Russia and Trump. Was collusion with HC!" (Politico / The Hill)

  • Two top Democrats denied knowledge of payments to the firm behind the Trump dossier. Clinton's campaign chairman John Podesta and former DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz both privately told congressional Russia investigators that they did not know who had paid Fusion GPS for opposition research on Trump. (CNN)

3/ Republican lawmakers intend to wind down their Trump-Russia investigations even though the issue of collusion remains unresolved. The Senate Intelligence Committee wants the panel’s investigation to end by February – ahead of the first 2018 primary elections – while the House Intelligence Committee hopes to finish before that. (Politico)

  • Feinstein demands White House hand over details on Russia, Comey firing. "The Judiciary Committee requested documents related to the White House's interactions with FBI Director James Comey regarding the FBI's investigation of alleged ties between President Trump's associates and Russia, or the [Hillary] Clinton email investigation. … To date, we have received no response to these requests," Feinstein wrote in a wide-ranging letter to White House counsel Don McGahn. (The Hill)

4/ The memo Natalia Veselnitskaya brought to the Trump Tower meeting was coordinated with the Kremlin, undercutting the Russian lawyer's claim that she was an independent actor when she sat down with Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort. In the months before the meeting, Veselnitskaya had discussed allegations that Democratic donors were guilty of financial fraud and tax evasion with Russia’s prosecutor general, Yuri Y. Chaika. The memo she brought to the meeting closely followed a document that Chaika’s office had given to Representative Dana Rohrabacher, a California Republican who is considered to be one of the most pro-Russia lawmakers in Congress and who heads a subcommittee that helps oversee U.S. policy toward Russia. (New York Times)

5/ Kellyanne Conway "can’t be bothered" that the Trump campaign's data analytics firm attempted to partner with WikiLeaks. During the campaign, Cambridge Analytica reached out to WikiLeaks about locating Hillary Clinton’s emails. Julian Assange declined to work with the firm. Conway was Trump's campaign manager at the time and said she knows "nothing about that." (The Hill)

  • A Trump donor asked Cambridge Analytica to better organize the Hillary Clinton's emails released by WikiLeaks. Rebekah Mercer wanted to index the WikiLeaks emails to make them more searchable so they could be leveraged by the Trump campaign or a super PAC. (Wall Street Journal)

6/ Trump personally directed the Justice Department to lift an FBI informant's gag order so they could testify to Congress about Russia's attempt to gain influence in the uranium industry in the United States during the Obama administration. The request is unusual for two reasons: 1) The DOJ limits the White House's involvement in criminal law enforcement, and 2) the request is related to Obama and the Clintons.

Before Obama approved the 2010 deal to give Moscow control of a large swath of American uranium, the FBI had evidence showing Russian nuclear officials routing millions of dollars to the US designed to benefit Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation while Hillary Clinton was serving as Secretary of State. She was not involved in the review by the Committee on Foreign Investment, which approved the deal. (CNN / The Hill)

7/ The Whitefish contract with Puerto Rico doesn't allow the government to "audit or review the cost and profit elements" under the agreement. FEMA said in a statement that it was looking into whether the contract "followed applicable regulations to ensure that federal money is properly spent." The statement added that FEMA "has significant concerns over how PREPA [Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority] procured this contract and has not confirmed whether the contract prices are reasonable." (The Hill / Washington Post)

8/ The White House claimed it had no involvement in the Whitefish Energy deal. “This is a contract that was determined by the local authorities in Puerto Rico, not something that the federal government played a role in,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told Trump that "we have no role, the federal government, specifically he had no role in that contract." (Associated Press / Politico)

9/ The White House: All of the women who have accused Trump of sexual harassment are lying. Last week Trump called accusations of sexual harassment by at least 16 women "fake news." During a White House briefing, a reporter asked if the official position is that all of the women are lying. “Yeah," Sanders said, "we’ve been clear on that from the beginning, and the president’s spoken on it." (Washington Post)

Day 280: Bullet.

1/ The House passed its budget blueprint, which maps out the recommended spending and revenue levels for the 2018 fiscal year. No Democrats voted for the budget, which passed 216 to 212. The legislation will also allow Republicans to now pass tax reform and add as much as $1.5 trillion to the deficit over the next decade without any Democratic votes. The deficit for the 2017 fiscal year totaled $666 billion (New York Times / Washington Post)

2/ After months of promises, Trump declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency today – not a national emergency, which would have unlocked federal funding through FEMA's Disaster Relief Fund. Under the Public Health Services Act designation, no federal funding will be automatically directed to the crisis. Federal agencies will, however, be directed to devote more grant money to the problem. Jeff Sessions said that people should just "say no" to opioids while Trump suggested that "really great advertising" will keep kids off drugs. (ABC News / CNN)

3/ Premiums for the most popular Affordable Care Act plan have risen 34% due to the marketplace instability caused by the Trump administration's actions, a report by Avalere Health concluded. Market instability has been driven by Trump’s decision to end subsidy payments to insurers, the continued debate over repeal and replace of the Affordable Care Act, and an executive order allowing for lower cost plans outside of the Obama-era law. (Associated Press)

4/ Congress will investigate the $300 million government contract awarded to a Trump donor. Members of the Natural Resources Committee said "the size and unknown details of this contract raise numerous questions" about how a two-person Montana utility company linked to the Trump administration won the contract to repair Puerto Rico's electrical infrastructure. Whitefish Energy is also located in the hometown of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. (Associated Press)

5/ The Government Accountability Office will investigate Trump's voter fraud commission. Three Democratic senators asked the government watchdog to look how the federal funds are being used, what information and methodology the commission is using for its conclusions, how it is protecting any voter information, and how it is following regulations. (CNN)

  • Georgia election servers and backups were deleted four days after a lawsuit asked the court to annul the results of the June 20 special election for Congress and to prevent Georgia’s existing computer-based voting system from being used again. The data was destroyed July 7th by technicians. (Ars Technica / Associated Press / NBC News)

6/ It's been more than three weeks since the October 1st deadline passed for the White House to imposed new sanctions on Russia. The administration still has not implemented the sanctions that Congress passed with veto-proof majorities in July. The State Department issued guidance on how to implement sanctions shortly after Bob Corker and other Senate Republicans pledged to find out if the White House was intentionally delaying them. Trump signed the bill in early August, imposing new sanctions and limiting his authority to lift them. He called the bill "seriously flawed," but signed it anyway. (The Daily Beast / CNN)

7/ Trump said the soldier's widow must be wrong because he has "one of the greatest memories of all time." Trump suggested that there was no way he could have stumbled on Sgt. La David Johnson's name during his condolence call with Myeshia Johnson, because he has "one of the great memories of all time." That and his staff gave him a chart with the Green Berets name on it. (Slate)

  • Department of Presidential Quotes:

  • I "really started this whole fake news thing." He went on to say that "if you look at the level of approval of the media, of general media—if you look at it from the day I started running, to now, I’m so proud I have been able to convince people how fake it is, because it has taken a nosedive." (CNN)

  • "I think the press makes me more uncivil than I am. You know, people don’t understand. I went to an Ivy League college. I was a nice student. I did very well. I’m a very intelligent person. You know, the fact is I think — I really believe — I think the press creates a different image of Donald Trump than the real person." (Washington Post)

  • "Your show is fantastic," Trump to Lou Dobbs. He added that he watches the program "absolutely almost all the time." Dobbs returned the compliment, calling Trump “one of the most loved and respected” presidents "in history." (Newsweek)

  • Trump has given Fox News 19 interviews since his inauguration. No other media outlet comes close to Fox's level of access. Here's the current score: Fox (19), New York Times (4), NBC News (3), Reuters (3), Wall Street Journal (2), Christian Broadcasting Network (2), ABC News (1), CBS News (1), Washington Post (1), Associated Press (1), Time (1), Forbes (1). (CNN / Politico)

8/ Trump delayed the release of classified documents related to John F. Kennedy's assassination, but approved the immediate release of 2,800 of the 35,000 documents by the National Archives. The rest will remain secret, due to national security concerns by the CIA, FBI and other federal agencies. The intelligence agencies have 180-days to re-review their reasons for keeping the records redacted. The files are the final batch to be released under a 1992 law that ordered the government to make all remaining documents related to the assassination public. While flying to Dallas's Love Field, Trump tweeted that the "long anticipated release" of the files will take place today – the same airport where Kennedy landed just before he was shot. Trump described the files as "so interesting!" (Associated Press / NPR / Washington Post)

  • How to Read the JFK Assassination Files. The government is releasing thousands of long-secret files on Kennedy’s murder. Here are some tips for making sense of all the code names, redactions and confusing jargon. (Politico)

poll/ Democratic candidates lead by 15 points in a hypothetical matchup for the 2018 midterm elections. 50 percent of respondents said that if the election for Congress were held today, they would vote for the Democratic candidate. Only 35 percent said they would vote for a Republican. (The Hill)

poll/ 53% of military officers said they have an unfavorable view of Trump. 40% of all troops have an unfavorable view of Trump. (Military Times)

Day 279: Drain the swamp.

1/ Senate Republicans repealed a rule that allowed Americans to sue their banks and credit card companies in class-action lawsuits. Senators passed the measure by a vote of 50-50, with Pence breaking the tie. The Obama-era rule banned Wall Street banks and credit card companies from inserting arbitration clauses into contracts that prevented consumers from banding together to bring class-action lawsuits. Democrats and consumer advocates called the effort a gift to financial institutions like Wells Fargo and Equifax. (New York Times / CNN)

2/ Business is booming for a private prison company after it contributed to Trump's campaign and moved its company meetings, dinner receptions, and golf outings to Trump National Doral. GEO Group, through a company subsidiary, gave $225,000 to a pro-Trump super PAC and an additional $250,000 to Trump's inaugural committee. It also hired two former aides to Jeff Sessions as outside lobbyists. In exchange, Sessions reversed an Obama-era directive to stop using private prisons, which allowed the company to secure a deal with the government in April worth tens of millions a year. GEO's stock price has tripled since last year. (Washington Post)

3/ Foreign steel imports are up 24% since Trump's "Buy American" pledge. In particular, a Russian steel company has won several pipeline contracts, including the Keystone XL. The biggest shareholder in Evraz North America is an oligarch and Trump family friend. (Bloomberg)

4/ Rick Perry claimed Obama discriminated against the coal and nuclear industries. Perry has proposed rewarding nuclear and coal fired power plants that store 90 days of fuel on site for contributing to the reliability of the power grid. Natural gas producers, renewable energy generators, and public utilities – who rarely agree on anything – have asked regulators to reject the proposal, arguing that the approach would distort markets, inhibit competition, and raise consumer prices. (Reuters / Bloomberg)

5/ The House Ways and Means Committee chairman declined to rule out changes to 401(k) plans despite Trump's promise that there would be "NO change" as part of tax reform. Kevin Brady said he's working with Trump and "we think in tax reform we can create incentives for people to save more and save sooner." Brady will introduce his tax bill when the House passes a budget. Orrin Hatch, the top tax writer in the Senate, also declined to agree with Trump’s vow to protect 401(k) plans. (Washington Post / NBC News)

6/ The head of Cambridge Analytica tried to work with Wikileaks to find Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 deleted emails. Alexander Nix, whose firm worked for Trump’s campaign, wrote an email to Julian Assange asking if the two could work together to find and release Clinton's emails. Assange replied that he didn't want Nix's help. (The Daily Beast)

7/ Paul Manafort is facing a third money laundering probe. The Manhattan US attorney's office is working in collaboration with special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation to look at Trump's former campaign chairman. The state of New York also has its own money laundering investigation going. (Wall Street Journal)

8/ CBO Score: The bipartisan health care bill would reduce the deficit by nearly $4 billion over 10 years. If the insurer subsidies aren't funded, however, the federal deficit would increase by $194 billion by 2026. (The Hill)

  • A judge rejected a request by Democratic attorneys general in 18 states to block Trump's decision to end subsidy payments to health insurers under the Affordable Care Act. U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria in San Francisco said the government does not have to make the payments while litigation over the subsidies unfolds. (Reuters)

9/ The FCC will roll back media consolidation rules designed to preserve media diversity in local markets. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's plan will eliminate a 1975 rule that prevented a single company from owning a TV station and newspaper in the same market. Critics say the move will lead to greater media consolidation and the loss of independent voices, while Pai said it would help struggling media outlets in the age of digital consumption. The FCC could also eliminate a rule that prevents TV stations from merging in the same market in order to ensure a variety of perspectives on the air. (Washington Post / Reuters)

poll/ 56% of voters think Trump is reckless. 35% say Trump is honest. (Politico)

poll/ 64% of Americans support legalizing marijuana, including 51% of Republicans. The Trump administration said February that it viewed recreational marijuana use as a flagrant violation of federal law. (Gallup)

Day 278: Alert the daycare staff.

1/ The Clinton campaign and the DNC helped fund research that resulted in the Trump dossier. A lawyer representing the Clinton campaign and the DNC retained Fusion GPS in April 2016 to conduct the research. Prior to that agreement, Fusion GPS’s research into Trump was funded by a still unknown Republican client during the GOP primary. (Washington Post)

2/ The firm behind the Trump dossier asked a judge to block the House Intelligence Committee from obtaining its bank records. Fusion GPS argues that the committee's subpoena threatens the First Amendment rights of the journalists who compiled the dossier by revealing the identities of clients who sought political research from the firm, and poses an "existential threat" to the company. (Politico)

3/ Two House panels opened a joint investigation into the Justice Department's actions during the 2016 campaign. The House Judiciary Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman said their investigation will look at FBI decisions regarding Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified information and the FBI's investigation into Trump campaign associates. (Reuters / Politico)

4/ Rematch: The feud between Trump and Bob Corker was relit ahead of the president's critical meeting with Senate Republicans on taxes after Corker appeared on both NBC's "Today" show and ABC's "Good Morning America." He said Trump should "step aside" from tax reform, stop "kneecap[ing] your secretary of state," and "leave it to the professionals for a while and see if we can do something that's constructive for our country."

Trump tweeted that Corker was trying to stymie his agenda, called him a "lightweight," and charged that Corker "couldn't get elected dog catcher in Tennessee" – whatever that means. Corker replied on Twitter: "Same untruths from an utterly untruthful president. #AlertTheDaycareStaff."

Then, in an interview with CNN, Corker escalated his criticism, calling Trump a serial liar, saying he regretted supporting him for president, accused him of debasing the country, and refused to say whether he trusted Trump with the nuclear codes. In an interview with ABC News, Corker stopped short of calling Trump a liar. Instead, he characterized Trump as "utterly untruthful."

Senator Thom Tillis brought a bag of popcorn to the tax luncheon in a nod to the ongoing Corker-Trump spectacle within the party. (The Hill / Washington Post / Politico)

  • Paul Ryan: people should ignore the "Twitter this and Twitter that" and focus on the legislative actions taken by Congress. "So all this stuff you see on a daily basis on Twitter this and Twitter that, forget about it," Ryan said. "Let's focus on helping people, improving people's lives, and doing what we said we would do that accomplishes that. That's what we're focused on." (Business Insider)

5/ Jeff Flake announced that will not run for re-election, saying he "will no longer be complicit or silent" in the face of Trump's "reckless, outrageous and undignified" behavior. The Republican senator delivered a 17-minute speech on the Senate floor less than an hour after Trump met with Republicans for lunch, saying the "stability of the entire world [is] routinely threatened by the level of thought that goes into 140 characters" and to "do nothing in the face of such mercurial behavior is ahistoric" and "profoundly misguided." (New York Times / CNN)

  • The full transcript of Jeff Flake’s retirement speech. “None of this is normal,” Flake said. “And what do we, as United States senators, have to say about it? The principles that underlie our politics, the values of our founding, are too vital to our identity and survival to allow them to be compromised by the requirements of politics, because politics can make us silent when we should speak and silence can equal complicity.” (Vox)

6/ Mitch McConnell and John McCain praised Flake's speech, while Sarah Huckabee Sanders characterized it as "petty," adding: "I don't think Sen Flake’s language was befitting of the Senate floor." (The Hill / CNN)

7/ A two-person Montana utility company linked to the Trump administration won a $300 million contract to repair Puerto Rico's electrical infrastructure. The private-equity firm that finances Whitefish Energy was founded by Joe Colonnetta, who contributed $20,000 to the Trump Victory PAC during the general election, $2,700 to Trump’s primary election campaign, $2,700 to Trump’s general election campaign, and a total of $30,700 to the Republican National Committee in 2016. Whitefish Energy is also located in the hometown of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who is friends with the Whitefish CEO Andy Techmanski. (Washington Post / The Daily Beast)

  • Zinke funneled millions to questionable PACs. The Interior secretary has helped raise money for political operatives that some Republicans accuse of collecting donations from conservative voters while doing little for their cause. (Politico)

8/ Trump has personally attacked 1 in 5 Republican senators: Bob Corker, Ted Cruz, Jeff Flake, Lindsey Graham, Dean Heller, John McCain, Mitch McConnell, Lisa Murkowski, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Ben Sasse have all drawn Trump's ire. Republicans hold a 52-48 advantage in the Senate and can only afford to lose two votes on any piece of legislation. (CNN)

9/ Trump's personal lawyer met with the House Intelligence Committee today. Michael Cohen emailed Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, during the presidential campaign seeking help getting a Trump Tower built in Moscow. Peskov said he never responded to the email. (NBC News)

10/ The Trump administration will allow refugees admission from all countries, but with new rules to better vet applicants. Refugee admissions had been halted in June for 120 days as part of Trump's travel ban. The administration will now collect more personal data, such as names of family members and places of employment, as well as mine social media posts. (Wall Street Journal)

poll/ 55% of white Americans believe they face discrimination, although only 19% of white people say they have been personally discriminated against when apply for a job. (NPR)

poll/ 35% of Americans feel that diversity initiatives have left out white men. Of that group, 62% said they thought white men were missing promotions and other advancement opportunities. (Washington Post)

Day 277: Outdated, unnecessary, ineffective.

1/ Betsy DeVos rescinded 72 guidelines that protect the rights of disabled students under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the Rehabilitation Act. The Department of Education called the policies "outdated, unnecessary, or ineffective." During her confirmation hearing in January, DeVos said she was "confused" about the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act when asked whether she supported it. DeVos said she thought it was best "left to the states," but "is certainly worth discussion." (Washington Post / VICE News)

2/ Congress let funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program expire 23 days ago. The program's budget lapsed on September 1st, which provides low-cost health insurance to 9 million children. While there is no evidence that any children have lost coverage, there are roughly 4 million CHIP enrollees living in states whose programs are at risk of losing coverage. (Vox / Politico)

3/ Trump rush-shipped condolence letters to military families last week after he falsely claimed he had called or written letters to "virtually all" of the families. Four families of fallen soldiers received next-day UPS letters from Trump two days after Trump told the widow of a fallen soldier "he knew what he signed up for." (The Atlantic)

4/ Trump "stumbl[ed] on my husband's name" in his condolence call to the widow of the fallen soldier. Myeshia Johnson told "Good Morning America" she was "very angry at the tone of [Trump's] voice and couldn't remember my husband's name" during the same call where Trump said the solider "knew what he signed up for." Trump defended himself on Twitter, saying: "I had a very respectful conversation with the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, and spoke his name from beginning, without hesitation!" (ABC News / NPR / Washington Post)

5/ Senators didn't know there were 1,000 troops in Niger. Lindsey Graham, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said "I didn’t know there was a thousand troops in Niger" when asked about whether Congress needed to vote on an Authorization of Use of Military Force for the mission that left four Green Berets dead. He added: "The military determines who the threats are, they come up with the engagement policy and if we don’t like what the military does, we can defund the operation." Chuck Schumer also admitted that he didn't know about the number of troops in Niger. (The Daily Beast)

6/ Trump dismissed the House Republicans' plan to limit 401(k) contributions as part of their effort to rewrite the tax code. The plan could cap pre-tax 401(k) contributions at $2,400 annually. "There will be NO change to your 401(k)," Trump tweeted. "This has always been a great and popular middle class tax break that works, and it stays!" (Reuters / New York Times)

  • Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee are considering retaining the income tax rate for people who earn $1 million or more per year. The current thinking is that people who earn between $418,000 and $999,999 will have their tax rate reduced from 39.6% to 35%, but those earning $1 million or more will not. (Axios)

  • Ivanka Trump characterized the Republicans' tax reform plan as good for working middle-class families. "For me this tax plan really couples two things that are really core values as a country, which is work and supporting the American family," Ivanka said. "We have to support the American worker, we have to create jobs, we have to create growth, but we also have to support that American worker’s family." (Politico)

7/ The EPA blocked three agency scientists from discussing climate change at a conference. The scientists contributed substantial material to a 400-page report about how climate change is affecting air and water temperatures, precipitation, sea level and fish in and around the Narragansett Bay estuary. The EPA helped fund the report. (New York Times)

  • Scott Pruitt's security detail is adding a dozen more agents as the number of threats against the EPA head has increased "four to five times." Pruitt has also purchased a secure soundproof communications booth for his office at a cost of nearly $25,000, even though similar rooms already exist at the EPA. Congress has said the costs are a "potential waste or abuse of taxpayer dollars" and that "taxpayer funds are being misused." (CNN)

8/ Trump's digital director will meet with the House Intelligence Committee about Russian meddling in last year’s election. It will be Brad Parscale’s first interview with any of the committees investigating the matter. Parscale claimed that Facebook, Google, and Twitter employees were "embedded" inside the Trump campaign. (Reuters)

  • Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating a Democratic lobbying firm about whether it violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Tony Podesta (the brother of John Podesta) and the Podesta Group had worked on a campaign that Paul Manafort had organized to promote the Ukraine's image in the West. John Podesta is not currently affiliated with the Podesta Group and is not part of Mueller's investigation. (NBC News)

9/ Trump will spend at least $430,000 of his own money to cover the legal costs his aides have incurred related to the Russia investigation. The RNC has paid roughly $430,000 to lawyers representing Trump and Trump Jr. The White House said Trump has pledged to spend the same amount, from his personal finances, "to defray the costs of legal fees for his associates, including former and current White House aides." (Axios / Washington Post)

10/ The State Department revoked the visa of a Putin critic after Russia placed Bill Browder on Interpol's wanted list. Browder was responsible for the Magnitsky Act, a law aimed at punishing Russian officials believed responsible for the death in a Moscow prison of Sergei Magnitsky. In response to the Magnitsky Act, Russia cut off the US adoption of Russian children, which was the premise for the Trump Tower meeting between the Russian lawyer and representatives of the Trump campaign. (NPR / The Guardian / The Hill)

UPDATE:

The US rejected Russia's criminal complaint against Browder and allowed him into the country. The initial action blocking Browder had been taken automatically in response to an Interpol notice filed against him by Russia and was not an affirmative action by the American government. (New York Times)

11/ Chuck Schumer said "all 48 Democrats" in the Senate are on board with the bipartisan health care deal. Mitch McConnell, meanwhile, said he would bring the Alexander-Murray bill to the floor if Trump signals that he would sign the legislation aimed at stabilizing health insurance markets. Last week Trump tweeted that he could never support the bill, which he characterized as "bailing out" insurance companies. (NBC News / Politico)

12/ Trump signed an executive order on Friday that would allow the Air Force to recall 1,000 retired pilots in order to address what the Pentagon says is a pilot shortage. The order amends a post-9/11 emergency declaration that allows the Air Force to recall pilots from retirement. The Air Force is currently short approximately 1,500 pilots. (The Hill / Washington Post)

  • The Air Force denied that it is preparing to put nuclear-armed bombers on 24-hour ready alert. On Sunday, it was reported that the Air Force could put its fleet of B-52 bombers on "a ready-to-fly posture" for the first time since 1991. An Air Force spokesperson said: "We are not planning or preparing to put B-52s on alert." (CNBC)

13/ Trump’s voter fraud commission has left Democratic members in the dark about what it’s doing. Two of the commission’s four Democrats have written letters to its executive director, asking for basic information such as when the panel might meet again, what kind of research is being conducted, and when it might send a report to Trump. (Washington Post)

poll/ 42% of voters approve of the job Trump is doing, while 58% disapprove. (The Hill)

Day 274: Elected by the American people.

1/ The Senate approved its budget by a 51 to 49 vote. The spending blueprint will allow Republicans to use a procedural maneuver to pass tax reform in the Senate with just 50 votes while avoiding a Democratic filibuster. The House and Senate need to pass identical budgets in order for Republicans to sidestep the Senate’s typical 60-vote threshold for passage. Trump tweeted: "We got ZERO Democrat votes with only Rand Paul (he will vote for Tax Cuts) voting against. This now allows for the passage of large scale Tax Cuts (and Reform), which will be the biggest in the history of our country!" (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico)

2/ Trump falsely attributed a spike in UK crime to a "spread of Radical Islamic terror," tweeting that the 13% year-over-year increase in crime was "not good, we must keep America safe!" A report by the UK Office for National Statistics made no link between rising crime and terrorism, but instead showed a double-digit increases in violent crimes, such as gun crime, knife crime, and sexual offenses. (The Guardian)

3/ Putin called on Americans to respect Trump. "Inside the country, disrespect is shown for him. This is a regrettable negative component of the U.S. political system," Putin said. He continued, saying that "Trump was elected by the American people. And at least for this reason, it is necessary to show respect for him, even if you do not agree with some of his positions." Putin's comments came the same day that U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley accused the Russian government of committing "warfare" against the United States. (The Hill)

4/ A federal judge refused to void Joe Arpaio’s conviction despite Trump's pardon. U.S. District Judge Susan Ritchie Bolton said Trump's pardon does not "revise the historical facts" of his case and that she will not vacate her ruling. Arpaio had been found guilty of criminal contempt of a federal court order for his failure to stop detaining individuals on the basis of their suspected immigration status. (NPR / Washington Post)

5/ The EPA removed from its website climate change resources that local governments used to address climate change, curb emissions, and devise strategies for adapting to weather extremes. An EPA spokesman said the resources have been archived and are available by searching through the agency’s archive. (New York Times)

6/ The FBI has joined the investigation into the ambush that left four Green Berets dead after the 12-member team was attacked by 50 ISIS fighters in Niger two weeks ago. Investigators are questioning whether US forces had adequate resources for what Defense Secretary Jim Mattis called an "unlikely" attack. A senior congressional aide characterized the ambush as a "massive intelligence failure."

The troops were engaged in a firefight for 30 minutes and relied on French military for air support, which made low-pass flyovers in an attempt to disperse the attackers. It did not have permission to drop bombs.

Private contractors used helicopters to evacuate the injured and dead, but Army Sgt. La David Johnson was somehow left behind for almost two days before his remains were found.

Trump waited nearly two weeks before mentioning the Niger incident, even though his staff had drafted a statement of condolence for him on October 5th. Some have asked if this is Trump's Benghazi.

Yesterday, John McCain threatened to use a Senate Armed Services Committee subpoena in order to get more information about the attack, which prompted Mattis to meet with McCain today.

Mattis said the "US military does not leave its troops behind," but did not provide additional details into why Johnson's body was initially left behind. (Wall Street Journal / CNN / Politico)

7/ Trump called a congresswoman "wacky" and said she told a "total lie" about his call to the widow of a solider killed in Niger. "The Fake News is going crazy with wacky Congresswoman Wilson(D), who was SECRETLY on a very personal call, and gave a total lie on content!" Trump tweeted. Frederica Wilson said Trump told the widow her husband "knew what he signed up for" in a condolence call. (Politico)

Day 273: Who knows.

1/ George W. Bush all but called Trump a threat to democracy, saying "bigotry seems emboldened. Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication." He called bigotry "blasphemy against the American creed" and that the "identity of our nation depends on the passing of civic ideals to the next generation." He did not mention Trump by name. (Politico / New York Times)

2/ Trump suggested that the Democratic Party, the FBI, or the Kremlin paid for the dossier alleging ties between him and the Russian government. "Workers of firm involved with the discredited and Fake Dossier take the 5th," Trump tweeted. "Who paid for it, Russia, the FBI or the Dems (or all)?" Two officials from Fusion GPS, the firm behind the dossier, invoked their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination and refused to answer questions from the House Intelligence Committee yesterday. (Politico)

3/ CIA Director Mike Pompeo falsely claimed Russian meddling didn't affect the election results. A US intelligence report released in January concluded that Moscow’s aims were to undermine the democratic process and help elect Trump. It did not reach a conclusion about whether meddling had altered the outcome, because the question was considered out of the scope of the report. (Washington Post / NBC News)

4/ Trump's former campaign manager met with the Senate Intelligence Committee for a closed-door interview. Corey Lewandowski said earlier this year that he did not have any contact with Russian officials, but if there was contact, it was made by Manafort or others on the campaign and Trump didn't know about it. (CNN)

  • Jeff Sessions declined to answer questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee about his conversations with Trump before he fired James Comey. As with his June testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sessions cited Trump's executive privilege for his refusal to answer questions. (New York Times)

5/ On November 1st, the general counsel for both Facebook and Twitter will testify before the House and Senate intelligence committees on Russia's use of technology to try to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. Google, which was also invited, has not said if it will send a representative to testify. (NBC News / The Hill)

  • The Internet Research Agency used Russian trolls to co-opt unwitting American activists to stoke fear and influence the election. Two online groups — BlackMattersUS and BlackFist — were among those used by Russian operators to encourage activists to help organize rallies, train in self-defense, and create music videos. In some cases, those activists even received financial support. (ABC News)

6/ John McCain and two Democratic senators will introduce a bill requiring Facebook, Google, and other internet companies to disclose who is purchasing political ads to the election commission. The tech industry has resisted previous efforts to mandate advertising disclosures, saying the ads on their platforms were too small to fit the disclaimers. (New York Times)

7/ Senate Republicans are set to pass their $4 trillion budget plan, which would serve as a vehicle for tax reform later this year without Democratic support. Trump endorsed the plan, tweeting that it is the "first step toward massive tax cuts" but suggested he's not confident of the measure's passage. "I think we have the votes, but who knows?" (ABC News / Fox News)

8/ John Kelly didn't know Trump would publicize that Obama didn't call when his son died. Kelly and the White House were caught off-guard by Trump using the death of Kelly's son to defend his handling of four soldiers killed in Niger. Kelly also defended Trump's condolence call to the widow of a fallen soldier where Trump said the solider "knew what he signed up for." (CNN / New York Times)

9/ Trump sent the $25,000 check to the fallen soldier's family the same day it was reported that he never did. The Washington Post reported that Trump had promised the soldier's father a personal donation during a June condolence call but had never followed through. (CNN)

10/ Trump gives himself 10/10 for his response to Puerto Rico, which he called "worse than Katrina." He said his administration has done "a really great job." 30% of the island doesn't have access to drinking water and 80% are still without power. (ABC News / HuffPost)

poll/ 42% of Americans think Trump will be remembered as one of worst presidents in history. 16% think Trump will be remembered as a below average leader. (Marist)

Day 272: Knew what he signed up for.

1/ Trump denied telling the widow of a fallen soldier "he knew what he signed up for," contradicting a Florida congresswoman who was with the woman at the time. "Basically, he said, 'Well, I guess he knew what he signed up for," Congresswoman Frederica Wilson said, recounting the conversation she heard on speakerphone. "But I guess it still hurt.' That's what he said."

Trump tweeted that the "Democrat Congresswoman totally fabricated what I said to the wife of a soldier who died in action (and I have proof)," raising questions about whether Trump tapes calls and conversations. Sarah Sanders said there is no recording of the call, adding that Wilson's conduct is "appalling and disgusting." The mother of the fallen soldier stood behind Wilson's account, saying that Trump "did disrespect" the family with his comments during the call. (Washington Post / ABC News / CNN)

2/ The White House had drafted a statement of sympathy following the ambush in Niger where four Green Berets were killed. Trump never issued the statement, which was circulated to the National Security Council and Defense Department. On Monday, Trump was asked why he had not spoken publicly about the deaths. He defended himself by saying he'd written letters, and then lied that Obama and other past presidents had never or rarely called the families of troops who died. (Politico)

3/ Trump offered a grieving military father $25,000 and said he would establish an online fundraiser for the family. Neither happened. The father said the White House sent a condolence letter from Trump instead. "I opened it up and read it, and I was hoping to see a check in there, to be honest," the father said. A White House spokesperson said "the check has been sent," adding that "It’s disgusting that the media is taking something that should be recognized as a generous and sincere gesture, made privately by the President, and using it to advance the media’s biased agenda." (Washington Post)

4/ Trump backed off his support for the bipartisan healthcare deal, tweeting he could never support legislation "bailing out" insurance companies "who have made a fortune" from Obamacare. The comment comes a day after Trump embraced the deal as "a short-term solution so that we don’t have this very dangerous little period." The chairman of the Senate health committee said Trump "completely engineered the plan" to fund subsidies for health insurers, but "wants to reserve his options." (New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Axios)

5/ Paul Ryan does not support the Alexander-Murray healthcare bill. Ryan's press secretary said "The speaker does not see anything that changes his view that the Senate should keep its focus on repeal and replace of Obamacare." (Axios)

6/ A second federal judge blocked Trump's latest travel ban attempt citing Trump's tweets as evidence the policy carries the same intent as his Muslim ban proposal. The Maryland judge granted a nationwide preliminary injunction against the latest iteration of the travel ban, following a similar order by a federal judge in Hawaii. District Court Judge Theodore Chuang said the administration had "not shown that national security cannot be maintained without an unprecedented eight-country travel ban." (Politico / Washington Post)

7/ Trump tweeted that James Comey had prematurely exonerated Hillary Clinton "long before [the] investigation was complete" into her private email use. The FBI released emails that indicate Comey had drafted a statement about ending the investigation two months before he announced he would not to seek charges. "Wow, FBI confirms report that James Comey drafted letter exonerating Crooked Hillary Clinton long before investigation was complete," Trump tweeted. "James Comey lied and leaked and totally protected Hillary Clinton." (Washington Post / Associated Press)

8/ Jeff Sessions appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee and defended Trump's firing of James Comey. He linked the FBI director’s dismissal to his handling of the Hillary Clinton email server investigation. Sessions refused to discuss private conversations he had with Trump that led up to Comey’s firing. The attorney general also said he hasn't been interviewed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, yet. (Associated Press)

9/ Democrats asked the chairman of the House oversight committee to subpoena the White House for documents related to Michael Flynn and his company the Flynn Intel Group. "[T]he White House has been openly defying this Committee’s bipartisan request for documents regarding General Flynn for months without any assertion of privilege of any kind," 18 Democrats wrote in a 10-page letter to Trey Gowdy. "We believe that this paper trail must be pursued to answer the gravest questions of all — did General Flynn seek to change the course of our country’s national security to benefit the private interests he previously promoted?" A Gowdy aide said he was reviewing whether the White House’s limited response to previously inquiries was sufficient. (Politico)

10/ An exiled Russian oligarch believes Putin tried to collaborate with the Trump campaign. "I am almost convinced that Putin's people have tried to influence the U.S. election in some way," Mikhail Khodorkovsky said. He added that the Russian banker Jared Kushner met with last December was not "acting on his own behalf." (NBC News)

11/ Several Republicans have called for the three congressional Russia investigations to end this year. The GOP members contend that the Democrats on a fishing expedition, which Trump has called a "witch hunt." Democrats say they don't want to rush testimony from witnesses. (CNN)

12/ A federal judge ordered the Trump administration to allow an undocumented teenager to get an abortion. The pregnant teenager, who was apprehended crossing the border from Mexico illegally last month, was being held in a federally funded shelter in South Texas where Trump administration officials had prevented the shelter from allowing her to travel to an abortion provider. The judge said she was “astounded” at the government’s position that the teen’s only options were to either carry the unwanted pregnancy to term or go back to her home country. (BuzzFeed News / Washington Post)

poll/ 46% of voters believe the news media fabricates stories about Trump and his administration. 76% of Republican voters think the news media invents stories about Trump compared to 65% of Democrats who think the news media does not. (Politico)

poll/ 52% of Americans oppose Trump's recent tax reform proposal while 34% say they support the plan. The tax plan would consolidate the number of tax rates from seven to three: 12%, 25% and 35%. The plan would also increase the standard deduction, increase the child tax credit, repeal the alternative minimum tax, and drop the corporate tax rate to 20%, which could increase the deficit by $1.5 trillion over 10 years. (CNN)

Day 271: Half-baked nationalism.

1/ John McCain condemned Trump's "America First" policy as "half-baked, spurious nationalism" and charged that Trump would "rather find scapegoats than solve problems." McCain's remarks came as he was honored with the Liberty Medal by the National Constitution Center. While he didn't refer to Trump or his administration by name, McCain added that it's unpatriotic to "abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe" and to "refuse the obligations of international leadership." (CNN / Washington Post)

2/ Trump warned McCain "to be careful because at some point I fight back," adding that "I’m being very, very nice but at some point I fight back and it won’t be pretty." McCain’s response: "I have faced tougher adversaries." (Associated Press)

3/ Trump falsely claimed that Obama didn't call the families of troops killed in the line of duty. "If you look at President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn’t make calls," Trump said in response to a question about why he had not publicly acknowledged the four Green Berets killed in an ambush in Niger two weeks ago. "A lot of them didn’t make calls. I like to call when it’s appropriate."

Obama’s former aides were quick to respond: Eric Holder tweeted that Trump needs to "Stop the damn lying - you’re the President." And Benjamin Rhodes, a former deputy national security adviser, called Trump's claim an "outrageous and disrespectful lie even by Trump standards." Trump offered no evidence to back up his claim. (New York Times / Reuters)

4/ Trump told reporters to ask John Kelly if Obama called him after his son died in Afghanistan. "As far as other presidents," Trump said, "I don't know, you could ask Gen. Kelly, did he get a call from Obama? I don't know what Obama's policy was." He added that "I really speak for myself. I am not speaking for other people. I don't know what (George W.) Bush did. I don't know what Obama did." Kelly's son died after he stepped on a landmine in 2010. (CNN)

  • A senior White House official said John Kelly "did not receive a call" from Obama after his son was killed in Afghanistan. Kelly and his wife, however, attended a 2011 White House event for Gold Star families, and sat at Michelle Obama's table. (Axios)

5/ Senators have agreed "in principle" to a bipartisan deal to fund subsidies for health insurers and stabilize insurance markets under the Affordable Care Act. Trump had threatened to cut off the payments which lower out-of-pocket costs for low-income consumers. The deal will fund subsidies for two years, providing short-term certainty to insurers. (New York Times / ABC News)

6/ Putin's "chef" is believed to have financed the Russian "troll factory" that used social media to spread fake news during the 2016 US presidential campaign. Yevgeny Prigozhin is a Russian oligarch and the main backer of the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency. A declassified assessment by US intelligence concluded in January that the "likely financier of the so-called Internet Research Agency of professional trolls located in Saint Petersburg is a close Putin ally with ties to Russian intelligence." It did not name Prigozhin directly. Prigozhin was at one point, allegedly, Putin's "personal chef," in addition to having catering contracts with Russia's armed forces. He also once served caviar and truffles to George W. Bush during a summit in St. Petersburg. (CNN)

7/ Sean Spicer met with Robert Mueller's team on Monday for an interview that lasted most of the day. Spicer was asked about the firing of former FBI director James Comey, his statements regarding the firing, and Trump’s meetings with Russians officials, including Sergei Lavrov in the Oval Office. (Politico)

8/ The Senate Intelligence Committee subpoenaed Carter Page as part of its investigation into Russia meddling in the 2016 election. Page previously said he would not cooperate and would invoke his Fifth Amendment rights and refuse to answer questions. (NBC News)

9/ The Senate Intelligence Committee has requested documents and testimony from Michael Flynn's son. They have not received a response yet. Michael G. Flynn was involved in the day-to-day operations of Flynn Intel Group and served as his father's chief of staff. The committee could issue a subpoena if he doesn’t comply, but he would likely assert his right against self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment. The younger Flynn is also the subject of Robert Mueller's criminal and counterintelligence investigation. (NBC News)

  • The content ad network Outbrain is investigating whether Russian ads or other forms of election tampering took place on its service during the 2016 election. Outbrain reaches more than 550 million visitors per month via content recommendation modules on websites of publishers such as CNN, People, and ESPN. Outbrain is “currently conducting a thorough investigation specific to election tampering and continue[s] to monitor our index,” the company said in a statement. (BuzzFeed News)

10/ A federal judge in Hawaii has blocked Trump's third attempt to implement his travel ban, which was set to go into effect Wednesday. The order was found to discriminate on the basis of nationality. Judges said the two earlier attempts were motivated by bias against Muslims. (Bloomberg / Axios)

11/ Trump's nominee for drug czar has withdrawn his name from consideration after it was reported the lawmaker guided legislation in Congress that made it harder for the DEA to act against giant drug companies. "Rep.Tom Marino has informed me that he is withdrawing his name from consideration as drug czar," Trump tweeted. "Tom is a fine man and a great Congressman!" (CBS News / Washington Post)

12/ The EPA issued new guidelines that claim higher radiation levels "usually" pose "no harmful health effects." The change is part of the EPA's "guidance" on messaging and communications in the event of a nuclear power plant meltdown or dirty bomb attack, and sets a level of acceptable radiation ten times the drinking water standard for radiation recommended under Obama. A 2007 version of the same document said that no level of radiation is safe and concluded that "the current body of scientific knowledge tells us this." (Bloomberg)

13/ Scott Pruitt directed the EPA to stop settling lawsuits with environmental groups behind closed doors, saying the groups have had too much influence on regulation. Pruitt sued the agency he now runs more than a dozen times while he was the attorney general of Oklahoma. The practice of "sue and settle" is used by green groups to push the EPA to speed up regulation on issues such as air and water pollution, as well as climate change. (Reuters)

14/ A group of 18 Democratic attorneys general are suing Betsy DeVos over the Education Department's refusal to enforce regulation meant to protect students from predatory career college programs. DeVos froze an Obama-era rule called "gainful employment." The rule would have cut off federal financial aid funding from for-profit colleges that leave students with low incomes and massive debt. (BuzzFeed News / The Hill)

poll/ 46% of American believe things in the country are going well, down from 53% in August. Trump's approval stands at 37% with 57% who disapprove – almost identical to his approval rating in late September. (CNN)

Day 270: Season of war.

1/ Mitch McConnell and Trump met for lunch today after Steve Bannon called for a "season of war" against the Senate majority leader and the rest of the GOP establishment. Bannon compared McConnell to Julius Caesar and vowed to challenge any Senate Republican who doesn’t publicly condemn attacks on Trump. “Yeah, Mitch, the donors are not happy. They’ve all left you. We’ve cut your oxygen off,” Bannon said. (Politico / The Guardian / CNN)

2/ After his meeting with McConnell, Trump said they are "closer than ever before." Trump also said he would try to talk Bannon out of declaring war on "some" of his primary targets saying, "I'm going to see if we can talk him out of that, because I think they're great people." (Axios / CNN)

3/ Rex Tillerson refused to answer whether he called Trump a "moron," dismissing the question as the "petty stuff" of Washington. Meanwhile, Trump tweeted that Tillerson "is wasting his time" trying to talk with North Korea, and Bob Corker charged that Trump had "publicly castrate[d]" him. "I checked," Tillerson said, "I’m fully intact." (Washington Post / NBC News)

  • The next CIA director could be Tom Cotton if Trump replaces Tillerson with current CIA Director Mike Pompeo. (Axios)

4/ Robert Mueller’s team interviewed Reince Priebus. The former chief of staff was present for many key moments, including Trump's efforts to limit questions about Russian meddling in the election and the discussions that led to James Comey’s firing. (Washington Post)

5/ Paul Manafort's financial ties to a Russian oligarch total around $60 million over the past decade. Previously unreported documents revealed a $26 million loan between a Manafort-linked company and Oleg Deripaska, a billionaire with close ties to the Kremlin. (NBC News)

6/ Trump said that Pence "wants to hang" all gay people. The comment, an apparent joke, came after a legal scholar told the two that if the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, many states would legalize abortion on their own. "You see? You've wasted all this time and energy on it, and it's not going to end abortion anyway," Trump said to Pence. The conversation then turned to gay rights and Trump motioned toward Pence and said, "Don’t ask that guy—he wants to hang them all!" (The New Yorker)

  • Jeff Sessions sent a federal hate crimes lawyer to help prosecute a man charged with murdering a transgender high school student. Sessions has spoken out against same-sex marriage, voted against expanding federal hate crimes laws to protect transgender people, directed the Justice Department to no longer protects gay or transgender people from workplace discrimination, and reversed a policy encouraging schools to let transgender students use bathrooms that fit their gender identities. (New York Times)

7/ Trump's top allies aren't sure if he realizes his feuds with Republicans and lack of legislative wins are putting his presidency at risk. Top White House aides, lawmakers, donors, and political consultants have privately wondered if Trump grasps that losing the House next year could bring on new subpoenas, an intense focus on the Russia investigation, and possible impeachment proceedings. (CNN)

8/ Eighteen states sued the Trump administration to stop him from scrapping subsidies to insurers that help millions of low-income people pay medical expenses. Trump said he would dismantle the Affordable Care Act "step by step," which prompted Adam Schiff to tweet that "Trump is the worst President in modern history," accusing him of "deliberately undermining people’s health care out of spite." The 18 states and District of Columbia are asking the court to force Trump to make the next payment, but legal experts say they face an uphill battle in court. (Reuters / The Hill)

  • poll/ 66% think it is more important for Trump and Congress to work to improve the ACA marketplaces rather than continue their efforts to repeal and replace the 2010 health care law. (Kaiser Health Tracking Poll)

9/ Steven Mnuchin: repealing the estate tax "disproportionately helps rich people." The Treasury secretary's concession contradicts what Trump said about the estate tax last month: "To protect millions of small businesses and the American farmer, we are finally ending the crushing, the horrible, the unfair estate tax, or as it is often referred to, the death tax." (New York Times)

9/ A woman who said Trump groped her has subpoenaed his campaign for documents about "any woman alleging that Donald J. Trump touched her inappropriately." Trump has denied her accusations and is fighting the subpoena, calling the accusations "lies, lies, lies." Trump's lawyers have sought to have the suit by the former "The Apprentice" contestant dismissed or at least delayed until he is out of office. (BuzzFeed News / NBC News)

10/ The firm behind the Trump dossier is objecting to subpoenas issued by the House Intelligence Committee to the partners who run Fusion GPS and questioned whether Chairman Devin Nunes, who recused himself from the investigation earlier this year, was authorized to issue them. The firm claims the subpoenas violate the First Amendment and would “chill” future opposition research. A lawyer for Fusion GPS called the subpoenas "a clear abuse of power" that were "designed to obfuscate the facts and conjure up rank conspiracy theories at the behest of the president and his most obsequious allies in Congress." (Bloomberg)

11/ Trump will declare a national opioid crisis next week and will be "looking into" his drug czar nominee after it was reported that Tom Marino helped guide legislation that weakened the DEA's ability to go after drug distributors, even as opioid-related deaths continued to rise. The law makes it very difficult for the DEA to stop suspicious drug distribution companies supplying doctors and pharmacists who sell narcotics to the black market. The drug industry worked behind the scenes with lobbyists and members of Congress, pouring more than a million dollars into their election campaigns. (Washington Post)

poll/ 58% of Americans believe the current reforms being discussed would favor the rich, while 18% think they would favor the middle class and 19% feel the changes would treat all equally. (CBS News)

Day 267: Imploding broken mess.

1/ Trump will cut off essential subsidy payments to Affordable Care Act insurers. The subsidies are used to pay out-of-pocket costs for low-income people and represent an estimated $7 billion this year. A White House statement directed Congress to "repeal and replace the disastrous Obamacare law and provide real relief to the American people" because "the government cannot lawfully make the cost-sharing reduction payments." Trump said the ACA was "imploding" and called it a "broken mess" in a pair of tweets. Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi responded, saying Trump had “apparently decided to punish the American people for his inability to improve our health care system.” Nearly 6 million enrollees qualify for the cost-sharing payments this year. (Politico / New York Times / CNN)

2/ Insurers pushed back against Trump's decision to cut the ACA's cost-sharing reduction subsidies. “This action will make it harder for patients to access the care they need. Costs will go up and choices will be restricted,” the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and America’s Health Insurance Plans said in a joint statement. “These benefits help real people every day, and if they are ended, there will be real consequences." (The Hill)

3/ New York and California threatened to sue the Trump administration over health care subsidies the White House said it would cut off. "Again and again, President Trump has threatened to cut off these subsidies to undermine our healthcare system and force Congress to the negotiating table," New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement. He added that Trump is using people as "political pawns in his dangerous, partisan campaign to eviscerate the Affordable Care Act at any cost." (The Hill)

4/ Trump will not certify Iran’s compliance with the nuclear agreement, but won't immediately withdraw from the 2015 accord. Trump put the onus on Congress to amend the law and establish “trigger points,” which could be used to impose new sanctions on Iran to address continued ballistic missile development, alleged support for terrorist groups in Lebanon, Yemen and elsewhere, and more. Trump threatened to terminate the deal if Congress is not able to reach a solution. (New York Times / Associated Press / Washington Post)

5/ The background check chief said he has "never seen [the] level of mistakes" Jared Kushner made on his security clearance application. Kushner's initial SF-86 form did not mention any foreign contacts. He updated the form in the spring, listing about 100 contacts, but omitted the June 2016 meeting with the Russian lawyer, Trump Jr., and Paul Manafort. He updated the SF-86 forms once more in June to include that meeting. (CNN)

6/ Twitter's privacy policy required it to delete data relevant to the Russia probe. Whenever a user removes a tweet, promotion, or account, Twitter is obligated to also delete that data from its servers. Because Russian operatives immediately erase all of their digital footprint, a substantial amount of valuable information held by Twitter has been lost. Twitter engineers are trying to determine what data is recoverable. (Politico)

7/ Facebook removed thousands of posts from public view that were linked to the Russian disinformation campaign. The data was deleted a day after researcher Jonathan Albright published a report showing that the reach of the Russian campaign was at least twice what Facebook had said. Facebook claimed it simply fixed a "bug," which allowed researchers to access cached information from inactive Facebook Pages. (Washington Post)

8/ Trump nominated a climate change skeptic to lead the White House’s environmental policy board. While a fellow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Kathleen Hartnett White led a project to "explain the forgotten moral case for fossil fuels." She's written that carbon dioxide is the gas "that makes life possible on the earth and naturally fertilizes plant growth" and that "global warming alarmists are misleading the public about carbon dioxide emissions." She's called the Obama administration’s environmental initiatives a "deluded and illegitimate battle against climate change." Her TPPF fellowship received funding from the fossil fuel industry. (The Hill)

9/ Trump will extend the March 5th DACA deadline if Congress fails to pass legislation before then. Trump told Senator James Lankford that he was willing to “give it some more time” to allow lawmakers to find a solution for "dreamers." There are currently 690,000 young people with DACA status. (Washington Post)

10/ The Pentagon and FEMA accidentally included a reporter on their email chain about how to "spin" the Puerto Rico recovery effort. They suggested saying 'the federal government’s full attention is on Hurricane Maria response' to combat what San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz characterized as a 'people-are-dying story.'" FEMA was told to stress its success in reaching "all municipalities in Puerto Rico" in response to Trump attacking the San Juan mayor for "poor leadership ability." (Bloomberg)

quotables/ A selection of quotes from Trump's speech at the Values Voter Summit:

  • My presidency is "substantially ahead of schedule" and he is making "tremendous strides" against ISIS, the Iran nuclear deal, tax reform, and repealing the Affordable Care Act. (Politico)

  • I'm "returning moral clarity to our view of the world" and ending "attacks on Judeo-Christian values." (CNN)

  • It's almost Christmas but "people don’t talk about [it] anymore. They don’t use the word Christmas because it’s not politically correct […] well guess what? We’re saying merry Christmas again." (The Hill)

Day 266: Trump Vs. Everybody.

1/ Trump signed an executive order eliminating some Affordable Care Act insurance rules for small businesses that band together to buy health insurance as an association. The order will also lift limits on limited coverage, short-term insurance, and expand ways workers could use employer-funded accounts to buy their own insurance policies. Critics say that by relaxing standards, Trump would be creating low-cost insurance options for healthier, younger consumers, which would result in higher costs for the sick and potentially destabilize and undermine the ACA insurance marketplace. (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

  • How Trump’s executive order undermines the Affordable Care Act. Trump is asking federal agencies to look for ways to expand the use of association health plans, groups of small businesses that pool together to buy health insurance, and to broaden the definition of short-term insurance, which is exempt from the Affordable Care Act’s rules. (Vox)

2/ Trump on NAFTA: "We’ll see what happens." Justin Trudeau visited the White House yesterday in hopes of seeking a “fairer trade” deal between the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The US Chamber of Commerce president said that abandoning the agreement would pose an “existential threat” to the continent’s national and economic security. Trudeau told members of the House Ways and Means Committee that he was worried about “poison pills,” proposals the US might make that were designed to kill, not repair, the NAFTA agreement. Trump has called NAFTA a "disaster" and that "NAFTA will have to be terminated if we’re going to make it good. Otherwise, I believe you can’t negotiate a good deal." (Washington Post)

3/ European allies and Republicans are pressuring Trump to preserve the Iran nuclear deal. Trump is expected to decertify the nuclear deal tomorrow, despite his own cabinet saying that Iran has abided by the deal. Lawmakers have remained largely in the dark about what Trump's ultimate plan is. Congress, however, will have 60 days to pass legislation to reimpose sanctions on Iran if Trump decertifies the deal. Trump was reportedly "incensed" by the arguments Rex Tillerson and Jim Mattis made when he certified Iran's compliance in July. “He threw a fit,” said one person familiar with the meeting. “. . . He was furious. Really furious. It’s clear he felt jammed.” (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / CNN)

4/ The US withdrew from UNESCO, citing anti-Israeli bias from the United Nations cultural organization. The US hasn’t paid its roughly $70 million yearly dues to UNESCO since 2011, due to a 1990s-era amendment mandating a cutoff of American money to any UN organization accepting Palestine as a full member. Previously, the US withdrew from the organization in 1984 over Cold War concerns, but rejoined in 2003 in a show of international cooperation leading up to the Iraq War. (Bloomberg / Politico) / New York Times)

5/ Trump tweeted that "we cannot keep" federal relief workers in Puerto Rico "forever." As of earlier this week, 84% of the island remained without electricity, two-thirds of cellphone towers were down, and about 6,000 people were still in shelters. Trump tweeted the situation represents a "total lack of accountability" and that the "electric and all infrastructure was disaster before hurricanes. Congress to decide how much to spend. We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!” (Politico / New York Times / Washington Post)

6/ The House passed $36.5 billion in emergency relief for Puerto Rico and other communities affected by recent hurricanes and wildfires. The package includes $18.7 billion for FEMA's disaster relief fund, $16 billion to address national flood insurance program debt, and $576.5 million for wildfire recovery efforts. It also provided $1.27 billion for disaster food assistance for Puerto Rico. The bipartisan bill passed the Republican-controlled House in a 353-to-69 vote. (Reuters / The Hill)

7/ John Kelly told reporters "I'm not quitting today… I don't think I'm being fired today," either. The statement comes as Trump and Kelly have reportedly engaged in “shouting matches” recently. Kelly added that "I'm not so frustrated in this job that I'm thinking of leaving." On Tuesday, Trump tweeted praise for Kelly, saying his chief of staff "is doing a FANTASTIC job." (Politico / ABC News)

8/ The phrase "climate change" does not appear in the EPA's draft four-year strategic plan. Scott Pruitt outlines his agency's prioritizes as a focus on the "core mission" of clean air, land, and water, "rebalance" the federal role in environmental regulation, and enforce laws "as Congress intended." The plan does not mention carbon dioxide or greenhouse gas emissions. (CNN)

9/ Trump’s lawyers are open to having the president sit down for an interview with Robert Mueller in an effort to speed up the Russia probe and dispel suspicions surrounding Trump. Trump told reporters this spring that he was “100 percent” willing to testify under oath about alleged Russian ties to his campaign. Trump's personal lawyer, John Dowd, called the report that they were willing to cooperation with the special counsel “Totally false!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” (Politico)

Day 265: NBC = CNN

1/ Trump told his highest-ranking military leaders he wanted a tenfold increase in the US nuclear arsenal during a July 20th meeting at the Pentagon. Shortly after the meeting ended, Rex Tillerson called Trump a "fucking moron" to the officials who remained behind. Any increase in the nuclear arsenal would break with decades of US nuclear doctrine and violate international disarmament treaties signed by every president since Ronald Reagan. (NBC News)

2/ In response to the NBC News story, Trump tweeted that NBC’s broadcast license should be pulled as punishment for reporting what he considers fake news. “Fake @NBCNews made up a story that I wanted a ‘tenfold’ increase in our U.S. nuclear arsenal. Pure fiction, made up to demean. NBC = CNN!” Trump tweeted. “With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!” (Politico / The Hill)

  • One of Trump’s oldest friends says the president is "better than this." Thomas Barrack Jr. said he has been “shocked” and “stunned” by Trump's rhetoric and tweets, and wonders why his longtime friend spends so much of his time appealing to the fringes of American politics. (Washington Post)

3/ Homeland Security is exploring how it could transform the immigration system without Congress. The possible changes could limit protections for unaccompanied minors who come to the US illegally, expand the use of quick deportation proceedings, and tighten visa programs that could limit legal immigration to the US. None of the policies have been finalized. (CNN)

4/ The Supreme Court dismissed one of the challenges to Trump’s now-expired travel ban. The justices were not ruling on the merits of the issue, but said that because the executive order “expired by its own terms” on September 24th, "the appeal no longer presents a 'live case or controversy.'" (Washington Post)

5/ Cambridge Analytica’s work for Trump’s campaign is now as part of the Russia probe. The company is in the process of turning over documents to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Steve Bannon had a stake in Cambridge Analytica worth between $1 million and $5 million as recently as April of this year. (The Daily Beast)

  • The House Intelligence Committee will publicly release the Facebook ads purchased by Russian operatives during last year’s presidential election. The committee received more than 3,000 politically divisive ads believed to have been purchased by Russia. (Reuters)

  • Russia hijacked Kaspersky Lab anti-virus software and turned it into a tool for spying. The software routinely scanned files looking for terms like "top secret" and classified code names of US government programs. (Wall Street Journal)

6/ North Korea hackers may have stolen joint US-South Korean military secrets, including a "decapitation strike" targeting Kim Jong Un and other leaders. The hackers broke into South Korea’s defense database in September 2016 and took a blueprint known as Operations Plan 5015, which was developed in 2015 in case war broke out with North Korea. (Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg)

  • North Korea targeted US electric power companies with spearphishing emails. There is no evidence that the hacking attempts were successful. (NBC News)

7/ Republicans and close advisers are describing Trump as “unstable,” “losing a step,” and “unraveling.” There’s a new level of concern that the White House is in crisis as advisers struggle to contain him. Trump reportedly vented to his security chief: “I hate everyone in the White House! There are a few exceptions, but I hate them!” Meanwhile, John Kelly has tightened the flow of information and visitors, which has frustrated Trump and resulted in “shouting matches” between the two men. (Vanity Fair / Los Angeles Times)

poll/ 64% of voters support stricter gun laws, including 41% who strongly support them. 29% oppose stricter gun laws, including 16% who are in strong opposition. (Politico)

poll/ 53% of adults “strongly agree” that the wealthiest Americans should pay higher tax rates. An additional 23% “somewhat agree” the wealthiest should pay higher tax rates. (Reuters)

poll/ 55% of voters say that Trump is not fit to serve as president. 70% of voters say the president should stop tweeting from his personal account. (Quinnipiac)

Day 264: Power of the pen.

1/ Trump plans to go around Congress to provide new insurance options for Americans. The White House is finalizing an executive order, which Trump is expected to sign this week, that would expand health care plans offered by associations and allow individuals to pool together to buy insurance outside their states. “Since Congress can’t get its act together on HealthCare, I will be using the power of the pen to give great HealthCare to many people – FAST,” Trump tweeted. By banding together to buy coverage, associations could join the large group insurance market, which is exempt from the ACA’s requirement that plans cover essential health benefits. (Washington Post / Bloomberg)

2/ The White House blamed Bob Corker for the Twitter tiff with Trump. On Sunday morning, Trump tweeted that Corker “didn’t have the guts” to run for re-election. Corker replied that it's "a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.” Kellyanne Conway called Corker's tweet "incredibly irresponsible" with Pence defending Trump against what he called "empty rhetoric and baseless attacks."

In an interview with the New York Times, Corker said that Trump is acting "like he's doing 'The Apprentice'" and that he could set the nation "on the path to World War III." As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Corker could block the confirmation of a new secretary of state if Trump pushed out Rex Tillerson and would play a key role on whether to "decertify" the Iran nuclear deal. (New York Times)

3/ Trump gave Bob Corker a nickname as their feud escalates. "The Failing @nytimes set Liddle' Bob Corker up by recording his conversation," Trump tweeted. "Was made to sound a fool, and that's what I am dealing with!" The transcript of the conversation has Corker saying "I understand we're on the record. I don't like normally talking to you on the record – I'm kidding you – but I will." Labeling Corker "liddle" is a reference to the 2016 campaign, when he called Marco Rubio little. "Let me start with Little Marco. He just looked like Little Marco to me. And it's not Little. It's Liddle. L-I-D-D-L-E." The New York Times reporter disputed Trump's claim that Corker was recorded without his knowledge, tweeting that "Corker had 2 aides on line, also recording, and they made sure after it ended that I was taping, too." (CNN / The Hill / New York Times)

4/ Trump challenged Tillerson to an IQ test after the secretary of state's "moron" comment. "I think it's fake news," Trump said, "but if he did that, I guess we'll have to compare IQ tests. And I can tell you who is going to win." Tillerson reportedly called Trump a "fucking moron" and nearly resigned this summer. (Forbes / Washington Post)

  • Mensa offered to host the IQ test for Trump and Tillerson. “American Mensa would be happy to hold a testing session for President Trump and Secretary Tillerson,” said Charles Brown, the group’s communications director. (The Hill)

5/ Scott Pruitt wants to eliminate the federal tax credits for the wind and solar power industries, saying the credits prevent utility companies from making the best decisions about power generation. “I’d let them stand on their own and compete against coal and natural gas and other sources," the EPA chief said. (The Hill / Bloomberg)

6/ Carter Page told the Senate Intelligence Committee he will not cooperate with any requests to appear and would plead the Fifth. The Trump campaign's former foreign policy adviser met with Sergey Kislyak on the sidelines of the GOP convention last year. In addition, the FBI has been monitoring Page since he travelled to Russia and met with high-level associates of Putin last year. (Politico)

7/ The House Intelligence Committee issued subpoenas to the partners who run Fusion GPS, the research firm that produced the dossier of memos of alleged Russian efforts to aid the Trump campaign. Chairman Devin Nunes signed off on the subpoenas that demand documents and testimony. Nunes recused himself from the House's panel earlier this year after going directly to the White House with information about “incidental” surveillance of Trump's transition team. (CNN)

8/ Trump threatened to use federal tax law to penalize NFL players who kneel in protest during the national anthem. "Why is the N.F.L. getting massive tax breaks while at the same time disrespecting our Anthem, Flag and Country?” Trump tweeted. “Change tax law!” In a letter to all 32 NFL teams, commissioner Roger Goodell said he wants players to stand during the anthem despite the current NFL policy not requiring players to stand. Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the White House "would certainly support the NFL coming out and asking players to stand." (New York Times / ESPN / The Hill)

9/ Trump, meanwhile, sent a fundraising email praising Pence for walking out of an NFL football game after players kneeled. "Their stunt showed the world that they don't believe our flag is worth standing for," the email reads. "But your Vice President REFUSED to dignify their disrespect for our anthem, our flag, and the many brave soldiers who have died for their freedoms." Nearly two dozen players from the 49ers knelt during the national anthem in what is now seen as an expensive political stunt. (CNN)

10/ Trump has made 1,318 false or misleading claims over the past 263 days. He has averaged five claims a day, even picking up pace since the six-month mark. (Washington Post)

poll/ Trump's approval rating has fallen in every state since he took office. A majority of voters in 25 states and the District of Columbia said they disapproved of Trump's job performance, including 55% in Michigan, 53% in Wisconsin and Iowa, and 51% in Pennsylvania. The share of Republicans who strongly approve of Trump has declined from 53% to 43% since January. 71% of Democrats strongly disapproved of Trump. (Morning Consult)

Day 263: War on coal.

1/ The Trump administration will roll back the Clean Power Plan. Scott Pruitt will sign the new rule tomorrow, which will override Obama's policy to curb greenhouse gas from power plants. "The war on coal is over," Pruitt declared. (Associated Press / New York Times)

2/ The attorney for the Russian billionaire who pushed for the Trump Tower meeting said an email shows the meeting wasn't about Hillary Clinton. In the newly disclosed email, Natalia Veselnitskaya asked music publicist Rob Goldstone if she could bring a “lobbyist and trusted associate" to the meeting, because of his knowledge of the Magnitsky Act, a 2012 law that imposed financial sanctions on wealthy Russians as punishment for human rights abuses. The email was disclosed by Scott Balber, who represents Aras and Emin Agalarov, the billionaire real estate developer and his son who requested the June 2016 meeting.

The emails between Goldstone and Trump Jr. tell a different story, however. Goldstone requested the meeting Trump Jr., saying the Russian government wanted to help the Trump campaign by providing documents that “would incriminate Hillary" and "be very useful to your father.” Trump Jr. replied: “If it’s what you say I love it." (Washington Post / CNN)

3/ Trump is demanding funding for his border wall in exchange for signing legislation to provide legal status for "Dreamers." The administration's list of hard-line immigration principles includes overhauling the country's green-card system, cracking down on unaccompanied minors entering the country, funding his wall along the southern border, and denial of federal grants to "sanctuary cities." Last month, Trump rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which provides legal status for 800,000 young immigrants brought to the US illegally as children. (Politico / New York Times / Washington Post)

4/ Trump called Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer in an effort to revive a deal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Trump said he would be open to cutting a one-year or two-year deal with Democrats. “I told the president that’s off the table,” Schumer said in a statement. “If he wants to work together to improve the existing health care system, we Democrats are open to his suggestions.” (Reuters / New York Times)

5/ Bob Corker: Trump is treating his office like “a reality show” and his reckless threats could set the nation “on the path to World War III.” The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee added that Trump acts “like he’s doing ‘The Apprentice’ or something.” On Sunday, Trump tweeted that Corker “didn’t have the guts” to run for re-election and that the Senator had “begged” for his endorsement. Corker responded on Twitter that it's "a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.”

Last week, Corker said that Rex Tillerson, James Mattis, and John Kelly “help separate the country from chaos" and hopes they stay "because they're valuable to the national security of our nation." (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico)

6/ Mattis urged the military "to be ready" with options on North Korea as Trump tweets that "only one thing will work." In a pair of tweets sent Saturday, Trump said that 25 years of agreements with North Korea have failed, "making fools" of the US. When asked what he meant, Trump told reporters: "You'll figure that out pretty soon." Sarah Huckabee Sanders was also cryptic: “You’ll have to wait and see.” Last week at a photo-op, surrounded by military leaders, Trump warned that "maybe it’s the calm before the storm." (Politico / CNN / Washington Post)

  • North Korea is preparing to test a long-range missile which it believes can reach the west coast of the United States. “As far as we understand, they intend to launch one more long-range missile in the near future," said Anton Morozov, a member of the Russian lower house of parliament’s international affairs committee. "And in general, their mood is rather belligerent.” (Reuters)

7/ Facebook, Google, and Twitter employees were "embedded" inside the Trump campaign. Brad Parscale, the Trump campaign's digital director, said employees from the tech companies "were there multiple days a week" to "teach us how to use their platform." Parscale said Trump's digital team "took opportunities" that Hillary Clinton's did not, like pulling Facebook staffers into their folds multiple times a week. The Clinton campaign confirmed they turned down the offer to have Facebook provide the same service. The Trump campaign spent roughly $70 million on Facebook by election day. (CBS News / Washington Post)

8/ Google said Russian agents bought ads aimed to spread disinformation on YouTube, Google Search, Gmail, and DoubleClick, the company’s ad network. The ads don't appear to be from the same Kremlin-affiliated troll farm that bought ads on Facebook. Google runs the world’s largest online advertising business, and YouTube is the world’s largest online video site. (Washington Post)

  • Russian operatives used Twitter and Facebook to target veterans and military personnel with propaganda. Researchers found fake or slanted news from Russian-controlled accounts mixed with a wide range of legitimate content consumed by veterans and active-duty personnel in their Facebook and Twitter news feeds. (McClatchy DC / Washington Post)

9/ Pence walked out of the Colts-49ers game yesterday after nearly two dozen players from the 49ers knelt during the national anthem in what was an expensive, well-planned political stunt. Pence tweeted that he left because he "will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem." Shortly after Trump tweeted that he "asked @VP Pence to leave stadium if any players kneeled, disrespecting our country." (New York Times)

poll/ 47% of voters in non-metro areas approved of Trump's job performance, while 47% disapproved. That is down from Trump’s first four weeks in office, when 55% said they approved of the president while 39% disapproved. (Reuters)

Day 260: Calm before the storm.

1/ Trump's advisers are floating the idea of replacing Rex Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo after Morongate. Trump was reportedly furious that Tillerson didn't deny he called the president a "fucking moron," leaving many to believe their relationship is broken beyond repair. Tillerson praised Trump and insisted he never considered resigning in a public statement he made later that day. (Axios / NBC News)

2/ Surrounded by military leaders, Trump warned that "maybe it’s the calm before the storm." The unprompted comment came during a photo-op at the White House with the top national security officials. “We have the world’s great military leaders in this room,” Trump said to reporters. When pressed to explain what he meant, he simply said: "You’ll find out." (Politico)

3/ Robert Mueller's investigators met with the author of the Trump dossier, Christopher Steele, this past summer in an effort to understand if people associated with the Trump campaign and suspected Russian operatives broke any laws. US intelligence agencies reportedly took the Steele dossier more seriously than previously acknowledged, keeping it out of a publicly-released January report on Russian meddling in order to not divulge which parts of the dossier they had corroborated. Trump and his allies have repeatedly called the dossier "totally made-up stuff" written by a "failed spy." (CNN / Associated Press)

4/ Christopher Steele is talking with the Senate Intelligence Committee about formally speaking with its leaders. The sticking point for the former British intelligence operative, who authored a 35-page dossier alleging that the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia, has been over his unwillingness to discuss who underwrote his work. Steele was hired by Fusion GPS to conduct opposition research, which was originally funded by undisclosed Republican opponents of Trump. During the general election, unknown Democrats began picking up the tab. Senators had previously said they have had unable to get traction on the dossier, because Steele had not agreed to meet with investigators or the senators. (NBC News)

5/ White House tech support believes John Kelly's personal cellphone was compromised. Staff discovered the suspected breach after Kelly turned his phone in to White House tech support this summer complaining that it wasn’t working properly or updating. Kelly now uses a different phone. Yesterday, Rachel Maddow reported the Secret Service will now ban personal mobile devices in the West Wing, according to a memo sent to agents. Other news outlets have not confirmed the authenticity of the memo. (Politico)

  • The Senate Judiciary Committee does not have an active "Russia probe" going. A staffer said the committee is engaged in routine oversight of the Justice Department. (The Daily Beast)

6/ Trump rolled back the federal requirement for employers to include birth control coverage in their health insurance plans. The new regulation allows for a broad group of employers and insurers to exempt themselves from covering contraceptives on religious or moral grounds. More than 55 million women have access to birth control without co-payments because of the contraceptive coverage mandate in the Affordable Care Act. (Washington Post / New York Times)

  • Critics fear the policy may provide a loophole for discrimination. l Jeff Sessions instructed federal agencies and attorneys to protect religious liberty in a broad guidance memo that critics fear could give people of faith — including government workers and contractors — a loophole to ignore federal bans on discrimination against women and LGBT people. (BuzzFeed News)

  • ACLU filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration over the roll back of the birth control mandate. The rollback “basically gives broad license to employers to discriminate against their employees and withhold a benefit guaranteed by law,” said Brigitte Amiri, senior staff attorney at the ACLU. (The Hill)

7/ FEMA removed statistics about drinking water access and electricity in Puerto Rico from its website. A FEMA spokesman said both measures are still being reported, but are available on a website maintained by the Puerto Rican governor's office. He did not explain why FEMA no longer maintains the statistics on the main FEMA website. (Washington Post)

UPDATE:

As of Friday afternoon, FEMA's website is now reporting the two statistics about access to drinking water and electricity.

8/ Trump nominated a coal lobbyist to help lead the EPA. Andrew Wheeler, who is an outspoken denier of established science on climate change, would become the second most powerful person at the EPA. (New York Times)

9/ Treasury employees allege its Intelligence and Analysis unit is illegally spying on Americans' private financial records. At least a dozen employees in the Financial Crimes Enforcement division at the Treasury Department have warned officials and Congress that banking and financial data had been illegally searched and stored. They say that other intelligence agencies have been using the Treasury’s intelligence division as a back door in order to gain access to citizens’ financial records. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin oversees how the department conducts intelligence operations. (BuzzFeed News)

  • Steven Mnuchin has flown on military aircraft seven times at a cost of more than $800,000 to taxpayers. In total, the treasury secretary has made nine requests for military aircraft, including a request to use a military plane for his European honeymoon with his wife. (New York Times)

poll/ 24% of Americans believe the country is heading in the right direction, representing a 10-point drop since June. 44% of Republicans agree that the country is headed in the right direction, down from 60% in June. (ABC News)

Day 259: Suicide squad.

1/ Russian hackers stole NSA data about US cyber defense after an employee removed the highly classified material, put it on his home computer, and used an antivirus app made by Russia-based Kaspersky Lab. The US government had previously banned the use of Kaspersky Lab software over concerns of Russian cyberespionage. The stolen material includes details about how the NSA penetrates foreign computer networks, the code it uses, and how it defends networks inside the US. (Wall Street Journal)

  • Russian propaganda may have been shared hundreds of millions of times on Facebook, new research shows. From the 470 Facebook accounts that have been made public, the content had been “shared” 340 million times. (Washington Post)

  • The three Russians named in the Trump dossier are suing Fusion GPS for libel. Mikhail Fridman, Petr Aven and German Khan claim that their reputations have been unfairly ruined by the dossier. (Politico)

  • FBI deputy director on Russian hacking: We "should have seen this coming." Speaking at the Cambridge Cyber Summit, Andrew McCabe implied that Russian meddling hasn't stopped, either: "The experience in the 2016 elections allowed us to diagnose the problem. Have we cured it yet? Absolutely not." (CNN)

2/ Two former CIA chiefs said Russia needed help targeting US voters and districts in the 2016 presidential campaign. "It is not intuitively obvious that they could have done this themselves," former CIA director Michael Hayden said. Russia either needed someone to help give it information on who to microtarget or it stole the necessary information through hacking. (Bloomberg)

3/ Senate Judiciary Chairman said there is "no way of avoiding" a public hearing for Trump Jr., who has come under scrutiny from multiple committees in Congress for meeting with a Russian lawyer in June 2016. "Before this is over with," Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr said, "we will know everything about the Don Jr. meeting." (CNN)

4/ Trump criticized the Senate Intelligence Committee for continuing its investigation into possible collusion between Russia and his campaign, tweeting: "Why Isn't the Senate Intel Committee looking into the Fake News Networks in OUR country to see why so much of our news is just made up-FAKE!" Trump tweeted. The tweet comes in response to yesterday's news that the committee is still investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 presidential race. (The Hill / ABC News)

5/ Jeff Sessions rescinded a policy that protects transgender workers from discrimination. The Obama-era policy argued that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protected employees from being discriminated against due to an "individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin." Sessions said that "Title VII's prohibition on sex discrimination encompasses discrimination between men and women but does not encompass discrimination based on gender identity per se, including transgender status." (ABC News / CNN / BuzzFeed News)

6/ Rex Tillerson, James Mattis, and Steven Mnuchin have a "suicide pact," where all three cabinet secretaries will leave in the event that Trump fires one of them. Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that Tillerson, Mattis, as well as Chief of Staff John Kelly “help separate the country from chaos" – meaning Trump. He added that "I hope they stay because they're valuable to the national security of our nation." Yesterday, Tillerson refuted reports that he’d been persuaded to stay on in his role over the summer by Mike Pence. He did not, however, address questions about whether he had called Trump a "fucking moron" or not. (BuzzFeed News / Politico)

Speculative.

The details about a "suicide pact" have not been confirmed by other, reputable news outlets.

7/ Trump will “decertify” the international nuclear deal with Iran, saying it is not in the best interest of the US. Congress would have 60 days to decide whether to reimpose sanctions on Tehran under the agreement. Trump has long criticized the nuclear pact with Iran. (Reuters / Washington Post)

8/ With the GOP agenda at a standstill, some donors are closing their wallets and threatening to deprive Republicans of resources ahead of the 2018 midterms. Fundraisers say they’re having an unusually hard time setting up meetings with major contributors. An email from a sought-after donor to a GOP fundraiser read: “The GOP leaders should know, no movement on remaining agenda: tax reform, infrastructure, deregulation, etc. means no funding from supporters like me. No meetings, calls, contributions until we see progress.” (Politico)

9/ The House GOP passed its budget today, which calls for more than $5 trillion in spending cuts over the next decade. The budget plan promises deep cuts to social programs while paving the way for a GOP drive to rewrite the tax code later this year using budget reconciliation – a key procedural hurdle that would allow Republicans to pass tax reform without the threat of a filibuster by Senate Democrats. (Associated Press / Politico)

10/ The House Homeland Security Committee approved $10 billion for a border wall as part of a border security bill. The legislation will head to the House floor, which Democrats have criticized as a political stunt to appease Trump. The bill is expected to pass the House, but unlikely to clear the Senate, where it needs a 60-vote majority. (The Hill)

11/ Democrats introduced a bill to ban "bump stocks," a gun conversion kit that turns semiautomatic weapons into weapons capable of firing a continuous stream of bullets. Top congressional Republicans signaled they would be open to considering legislation on bump stocks, which the Las Vegas gunman used on his rifles. The legislation would ban the sale, manufacture and possession of bump stocks and other devices that increase a firearm’s rate of fire. (New York Times / NBC News)

  • The NRA called for a additional regulation on "bump stocks," but stopped short of calling for legislation. Instead, they urged lawmakers to pass "National Right-to-Carry reciprocity," which would allow gun owners to travel between states with concealed weapons – even when traveling to states with laws restricting concealed weapons. (The Hill)

  • The NRA doesn't allow bump stock firing systems at their shooting range. Bump stocks increase the rate bullets are fired, causing the entire weapon to move back and forth in the shooter’s grip and decreasing accuracy. (Politico)

poll/ 62% of voters have an unfavorable view of the GOP. 43% of voters are looking to congressional Democrats to protect families when it comes to health care, compared to 15% who trust Trump on health care. Less than 10% say the Republican Party should lead the way. (Suffolk University)

Day 258: Moron.

1/ Rex Tillerson reportedly called Trump a "fucking moron" and nearly resigned this summer. The comment came during a July meeting at the Pentagon with members of Trump’s national security team and Cabinet officials. Mike Pence reportedly counseled Tillerson on how to ease tensions with Trump, with other top administration officials urging him to remain in the job until the end of the year. (NBC News)

2/ Today, Tillerson denied he considered resigning from his job, but did not address whether he called Trump a "moron." Minutes before Tillerson's remarks, Trump tweeted that NBC News was "fake news" and "more dishonest than even CNN. They are a disgrace to good reporting. No wonder their news ratings are way down!" Immediately after Tillerson spoke, Trump tweeted, again, that the NBC News "story has just been totally refuted" by Tillerson and that the news network "should issue an apology to AMERICA!" Later in the day Trump called it “a totally phony story” and said he has "total confidence” in Tillerson. (USA Today / CBS News / New York Times)

3/ The Senate Intelligence Committee endorsed the conclusions of American intelligence agencies that Putin directed a campaign of hacking and propaganda to disrupt the 2016 presidential election. Richard Burr, chairman of the committee, said they "trust the conclusions" of the Intelligence Community Assessment that Russia was behind the hacking of the John Podesta’s email account and had attempted to exploit public opinion with false information through fake social media accounts. The issue of collusion remains open.

Senators also acknowledged that they have been unable to get traction on the Steele dossier, which contains a series of claims about Trump and Russia. The memos’ author, Christopher Steele, has not agreed to meet with investigators or the senators. Robert Mueller's special counsel has taken over FBI inquiries into the Steele dossier. (New York Times / Washington Post / ABC News)

4/ Facebook and Twitter agreed to testify publicly before the Senate intelligence committee as part of the congressional probe into Russian interference during the 2016 presidential election. Facebook will also testify at the House Intelligence Committee hearing. Twitter and Facebook have already briefed both committees on their findings regarding Russian use of their platforms to influence the election. While invited, Google has not said if it will also appear at either hearing. (Recode / The Hill)

  • The House intelligence committee is focusing on Russian ads bought on Google, search engine manipulation, fake news, and the potential uses of YouTube. Google had initially said it found no evidence of targeted tactics like the thousands of election-related ads purchased on Facebook. (Bloomberg)

  • Almost all RT ads on Twitter designed to push negative coverage of Clinton, Adam Schiff, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, said. (The Hill)

5/ Russian-linked Facebook ads specifically targeted Michigan and Wisconsin, two states Trump won by less than 1% of the vote. The ads promoted divisiveness and anti-Muslim messages. Trump beat Hillary Clinton in Michigan by about 10,700 votes out of nearly 4.8 million ballots cast. In Wisconsin, Trump won by only about 22,700 votes. (CNN)

  • Russia targeted NATO soldiers' smartphones in an effort to gain information about operations and troop strength in Poland and the Baltic states. The campaign targeted a contingent of 4,000 NATO troops deployed this year to protect the alliance’s European border with Russia. (Wall Street Journal)

6/ Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. avoided a criminal indictment in 2012 after Trump's personal lawyer met with the Manhattan District Attorney. Marc Kasowitz donated $25,000 to District Attorney Cy Vance Jr.'s reelection campaign and three months later the case was dropped when the DA overruled his staff. The donation was returned, but less than six months later, Kasowitz made an even larger donation of more than $50,000 to Vance’s campaign. For two years, prosecutors had been building a criminal case against Ivanka and Trump Jr. for misleading prospective buyers of units in the Trump SoHo hotel, which included emails showing coordination about how to move forward giving false information to prospective buyers. (ProPublica / The New Yorker / WNYC)

7/ Kushner and Ivanka were both fined $200 for missing a deadline to submit financial disclosures required by government ethics rules as part of a months-long process of divesting Kushner's stock and assets. It’s the second time that Kushner has been fined for late filing. In July, Kushner made his 39th change to his financial disclosure. (McClatchy DC)

  • Paul Manafort's son-in-law accused him of conspiring to mislead a federal bankruptcy court about four California real estate investments. Jeffrey Yohai alleged that Manafort and others had misled him and the court about the funding and ownership of the companies that have proposed to clear up the bankruptcy issues. (USA Today)

8/ A Texas judge ruled against Trump's voter fraud commission, saying state officials would be violating state privacy laws if they hand over voters’ personal information to commission members. Kris Kobach's voter fraud commission has asked state election officials to share specific voter information, including voters’ felony conviction history, voter history, and partial Social Security numbers, along with other personal details. (The Daily Beast)

9/ The EPA will propose repealing the Clean Power Plan, a central piece of Obama's plan to cut carbon emissions from power plants, fight climate change, and meet emissions goals promised in the Paris Climate Agreement. Trump signed an executive order in March directing the EPA to start the legal process of withdrawing and rewriting the Clean Power Plan. The EPA will solicit input on “developing a rule similarly intended to reduce CO2 emissions from existing fossil fuel electric utility generating units.” (Reuters)

10/ The DACA renewal deadline is Thursday. The Trump administration didn't notify immigrants about it. Jeff Sessions announced on September 5th that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which has provided renewable, two-year work permits to nearly 800,000 "dreamers," would end on March 5, 2018. Citizenship and Immigration Services had sent out notices prior to the announcement reminding DACA recipients they had 180 days to reapply. USCIS, however, never sent out corrections notifying immigrants that if they followed the instructions in the letter, they would miss the new deadline. About 154,000 DACA recipients are eligible for one last two-year extension, but must file their their application by the end of the day Thursday. (Vox)

11/ Trump said the US will need to "wipe out" Puerto Rico's debt in order to address the US territory's financial crisis. Trump’s budget director, meanwhile, said not to take the suggestion literally. Mick Mulvaney tried to clarify Trump's statement: "I think what you heard the president say is that Puerto Rico is going to have to figure out a way to solve its debt problem." He added: "We are not going to bail them out. We are not going to pay off those debts. We are not going to bail out those bond holders.” (Politico / Bloomberg)

Day 257: The end of everything.

1/ Trump said he’ll "be talking about gun laws as time goes by," echoing what Sarah Huckabee Sanders said yesterday that “there will certainly be a time for that policy discussion to take place, but that’s not the place that we’re in at this moment.” Steve Bannon warned that it "will be the end of everything" if Trump supports gun control legislation, and Roger Stone added that the "base would go insane and he knows it." (Politico / Washington Post / Axios)

  • Jimmy Kimmel Seizes On Las Vegas Shooting to Champion Gun Laws in Emotional Monologue. Jimmy Kimmel, who is from Las Vegas, called on President Trump and members of Congress to act in the wake of the shooting. (New York Times)

2/ Robert Mueller's top legal counsel is researching limits on pre-emptive presidential pardons. Michael Dreeben has been researching past pardons to determine if any limits exist as Trump's current and former advisers come under the special counsel's scrutiny. Trump previously tweeted that "all agree the U. S. President has the complete power to pardon." Pardons of a president’s campaign workers, family members, and himself are largely uncharted legal territory. Mueller has a team of 16 seasoned prosecutors investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election as well as any potential collusion between Russian and members of Trump’s campaign. (Bloomberg)

3/ The Justice Department overruled memos that concluded presidents cannot appoint their relatives to the White House staff or presidential commissions, a Freedom of Information Act request revealed. The request to rule the earlier opinions erroneous or obsolete came from the incoming Trump administration in January, which cleared the way for Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump to take roles in the White House. Appointments of family members have been illegal under an anti-nepotism law passed in 1967. (Politico)

4/ Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump used a third private email address for government business. Hundreds of emails were sent from the couple's White House email addresses to accounts on Kushner's private domain that they shared with their personal staff. The emails contained nonpublic travel documents, internal White House schedules, and other official White House materials. It was previously reported that Kushner and Ivanka used personal email accounts to conduct some government business. The couple has since moved their personal email accounts to computers run by the Trump Organization. (Politico)

5/ The Senate Foreign Relations Committee wants to know if White House officials used private emails for diplomacy. Senator Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the committee, asked Rex Tillerson and White House Counsel Don McGahn for information about whether Kushner or other officials communicated via private email or text with representatives of foreign governments, political parties, or international organizations. (ABC News)

6/ The CIA denied a request by the Senate Judiciary Committee to let them view information about Russian meddling that the intelligence committee was allowed to see. The material pertains to obstruction of justice matters that are in the Judiciary Committee’s jurisdiction. (Politico)

  • HP Enterprise let Russia scrutinize cyberdefense system used by Pentagon. The Russian review of ArcSight’s source code, the closely guarded internal instructions of the software, was part of HPE’s effort to win the certification required to sell the product to Russia’s public sector. (Reuters)

7/ Russian operatives used Facebook's retargeting tool to target specific ads and messages to voters who had visited misleading web sites and social media pages designed to mimicked those created by political activists. By using Facebook's Custom Audiences, Russian-linked ad buyers were able to spend $100,000 on more than 3,000 ads that were seen by roughly 10 million users — approximately 44% of which were seen before the November 8th election. (Washington Post / CNN)

  • Russian Ads Delivered to Congress. An estimated 10 million people in the US saw the ads. Of total ad impressions, 44% were before the US election on November 8, 2016. Roughly 25% of the ads were never shown to anyone. For 50% of the ads, less than $3 was spent; for 99% of the ads, less than $1,000 was spent. (Facebook)

8/ Trump visited Puerto Rico today, against urging from aides to put off the trip over concerns of protests about the slow relief effort. FEMA hasn't authorized every disaster response tool it has at its disposal despite 5% of the electrical grid working, 17% of cellphone towers working, and less than half of residents with running water. (New York Times / Vox)

9/ Trump called for Puerto Rico to be “very proud” that more didn't die in “a real catastrophe like Katrina,” adding that by needing hurricane relief funds, the devastated island has "thrown our budget a little out of whack." He also praised the federal response, saying "what a great job we’ve done," and that local officials in Puerto Rico “have to give us more help” in responding to the destruction caused by Hurricane Maria. (Washington Post / Associated Press)

10/ Pence’s chief of staff called for wealthy donors to "purge" Republican lawmakers that don’t support Trump’s agenda. Nick Ayers urged donors to "form a coalition" to take on leadership and members who don’t back the president, saying "we can purge the handful of people who continue to work to defeat [Trump]." The White House and Pence's office declined to comment. (Politico)

11/ Scott Pruitt has held almost daily meetings with top corporate executives and lobbyists from all the sectors that he regulates. The EPA chief has held almost no meetings with environmental groups or consumer or public health advocates. (New York Times)

  • Trump's pick for EPA safety chief believes children are less sensitive to chemical toxicity than adults. Michael Dourson faces a confirmation hearing this week. In a 2002 paper, paid for by the American Chemistry Council and the pesticide industry group CropLife America, Dourson suggested that most children are no more sensitive to chemical toxicity than adults and that in some cases, they are even less sensitive. This idea places him well outside the scientific mainstream and suggests how he might approach not just these pesticides but all chemicals affecting children. (The Intercept)

Day 256: An act of pure evil.

1/ Trump called the Las Vegas shooting "an act of pure evil." At least 58 people were killed and more than 500 injured. Police said the gunman was found dead in his Mandalay Bay Hotel room. Trump praised the “miraculous” speed with which local law enforcement responded to the shooting, ordered flags flown at half-staff, and said he would visit Las Vegas on Wednesday. Gunmaker stocks, meanwhile, are up nearly 4% after one of the deadliest mass shootings in American history. (New York Times / Washington Post / MarketWatch)

  • Full Transcript and Video: Trump Speaks After Las Vegas Shooting. (New York Times)

2/ The House could vote on legislation this week that would roll back restrictions on gun silencers. The silencer measure is part of the Sportsmen's Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act, a bill that was delayed in June after House GOP Whip Steve Scalise and two Capitol Hill police officers were shot during a congressional baseball practice. The House is also expected to vote this fall on separate legislation, the Hearing Protection Act, which would allow people to carry their legally concealed weapons across state lines into jurisdictions that restrict weapons concealment. (San Francisco Chronicle)

  • Sportsmen's Heritage And Recreational Enhancement Act, H.R.3668. (Congress.gov)

  • Hearing Protection Act, H.R.367 (Congress.gov)

3/ Trump's associates had two more previously undisclosed contacts with Russia during the 2016 campaign. The documents were turned over to congressional committees and special counsel Robert Mueller. Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, was invited to a conference in Russia that would be attended by Putin; in the other case, Cohen received a second proposal for a Trump-branded Moscow project during the campaign. Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, low-level foreign policy advisers and, now, Cohen were all contacted by Russians with interests in business and politics in the weeks before or after Trump accepted the nomination. (Washington Post)

4/ Paul Manafort attempted to leverage his role on Trump's campaign team to curry favor with a Russian oligarch close to Putin during the campaign. Emails turned over to investigators show how the former campaign chair tried to please Oleg Vladimirovich Deripaska, one of Russia’s richest men. Manafort was ousted from the Trump campaign after Manafort’s name was listed in a secret ledger of cash payments from a pro-Russian party in Ukraine that detailed his failed venture with Deripaska. At the time, Manafort was in debt to shell companies connected to pro-Russian interests in Ukraine for some $16 million. (The Atlantic)

5/ Rex Tillerson said the US is in direct communication with North Korea about its nuclear program even after Trump tweeted in August that “talking is not the answer!” and vowed to “totally destroy” North Korea. “We are probing, so stay tuned,” the Secretary of State said. “We can talk to them, we do talk to them directly, through our own channels,” adding that the US has “a couple, three channels open to Pyongyang.” (Bloomberg / New York Times)

6/ Trump called Tillerson's effort to communicate with North Korea a waste of time, undercutting his Secretary of State and seemingly ruling out a diplomatic resolution to the confrontation with Pyongyang. "I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man," Trump tweeted, adding, "Save your energy Rex, we'll do what has to be done!" (New York Times / Politico / Washington Post)

7/ Trump urged senior staff to portray him as a "crazy guy," while discussing whether the US would withdraw from the South Korean trade deal. "That's not how you negotiate," Trump told trade negotiator Robert Lighthizer. "You don't tell them they've got 30 days. You tell them, 'This guy's so crazy he could pull out any minute,'" adding "You tell them if they don't give the concessions now, this crazy guy will pull out of the deal." The White House did not dispute the account. Meanwhile, North Korean officials have been trying to arrange talks with Republican analysts in Washington in an attempt to make sense of Trump and his confusing messages to Kim Jong Un’s regime. (Axios)

8/ Congress let funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program expire, which provides low-cost health insurance to 9 million children. The CHIP program is a partnership between the federal government and states that insures American children from low and moderate-income families. States still have some CHIP money available, but several are expected to drain their funding by the end of the year. Trump, meanwhile, proclaimed today is Child Health Day and committed to "protecting and promoting the health and well-being of our Nation's young people." (ABC News / Washington Post)

9/ The National Security Agency warned senior White House officials against using personal cellphones and email, which could make them vulnerable to espionage by Russia, China, Iran, and others. The briefing came shortly after Trump was sworn into office on January 20, and before some top aides began using their personal email and phones to conduct official business. At least five current and former White House officials have used private email, including Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Gary Cohn, Steve Bannon, and Reince Priebus. (Politico)

10/ Since John Kelly took over the West Wing in July, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump's role have shrunk. The couple has focused on the issues in their portfolios and making more of an effort to "stay in their lane." Until Kelly’s arrival, Ivanka Trump and Kushner always had the last word with Trump, especially when it came to personnel matters. Kushner has complained to friends that he can no longer float in and out of the Oval Office. White House Counsel Don McGahn, meanwhile, considered resigning this summer after growing frustrated by the lack of protocols surrounding meetings between Trump and Kushner, which he said could be construed by investigators as an effort to coordinate their stories. Trump has been privately surveying people close to him about whether Kushner and Ivanka Trump are creating too much noise and how they can withstand the personal attacks. (Politico / Wall Street Journal / Axios)

11/ Facebook is turning over more than 3,000 Russian-linked advertisements to congressional investigators. The House and Senate Intelligence Committees and the Senate Judiciary Committee will receive copies of the ads. The Senate Intelligence Committee also wants Facebook, Google, and Twitter to testify before a Congressional panel on November 1 regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election. None of the companies have confirmed they will attend. The House Intelligence Committee will hold a public hearing in October, and would like the three companies to attend as well. (New York Times / ABC News / The Hill)

12/ Trump accused the San Juan mayor of "poor leadership" and suggested that the island's residents are not doing enough to help themselves. "Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help," Trump tweeted from his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey on Saturday, continuing: "They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort." On Sunday, Trump dedicated a golf trophy to the people of Puerto Rico. (CNN / Associated Press)

Day 253: Giant, beautiful, massive, the biggest ever.

1/ Tom Price resigned as Trump's Health and Human Services Secretary after racking up at least $400,000 in private charter flights. Yesterday, in an effort to satisfy Trump, Price offered to reimburse the government $51,887. Price's resignation came hours after Trump told reporters he considered Price a “fine man” but that he “didn't like the optics” and would make a decision about his future by the end of the day. Additionally, Politico reported that Price had used a military aircraft to travel to Africa, Europe, and to Asia earlier this year at a cost of more than $500,000 to taxpayers. The overseas trips bring the total cost of Price’s travels to more than $1 million since May. (NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post)

  • Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and his aides have taken several flights on private or military aircraft, including a $12,000 charter plane to take him to events in his hometown in Montana and private flights between two Caribbean islands. (Politico / Washington Post)

2/ The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center says the Republican tax plan would overwhelmingly benefit the wealthiest Americans and businesses. The report found that the average tax bill for all income groups would decline by $1,600 (2.1%) in 2018. Those earning incomes above $730,000 who would see their after-tax incomes rise by an average of 8.5%, or about $129,000, while those earning an average of $66,960 would see their after-tax income rise by 1.2% or about $660. (New York Times)

3/ Trump could personally save about $1.1 billion in taxes under his proposed plan. The analysis is based on Trump’s 2005 federal tax return and his estimated $2.86 billion net worth. In theory, Trump could save about $1.1 billion from repealing the estate tax, $31 million from repealing the alternative minimum tax, about $16 million from changes to certain types of business income, and about $500k from reducing the highest tax rate from 39.6% to 35%. (New York Times)

4/ Trump's top economic adviser suggested that a family of four earning $100,000 can expect to save $1,000 a year in taxes – enough to "renovate their kitchen. They can buy a new car. They can take a family vacation. They can increase their lifestyle.” Yesterday, Gary Cohn said he "can't guarantee" taxes won't go up for the middle class" and “the wealthy are not getting a tax cut" under Trump’s tax plan. Cohn is worth an estimated $266 million. (HuffPost)

5/ Senate Republicans released their budget blueprint, paving the way for tax reform without Democratic support. The 89-page plan sets up the use of budget reconciliation to advance the legislation with 50 votes in the Senate, rather than the usual 60-vote supermajority. Under the proposal, Republicans can add up to $1.5 trillion to the deficit over 10 years, giving lawmakers the ability to lower tax rates for businesses and individuals. Republicans believe they will offset the lost revenue with increased economic growth prompted by the tax cuts. Trump described the blueprint as a "giant, beautiful, massive, the biggest ever in our country, tax cut." (Politico / ABC News / Washington Post)

6/ The Treasury Department removed a paper from its website that contradicted Steven Mnuchin's argument that workers would benefit the most from a corporate income tax cut. The analysis found that workers pay 18% of the corporate tax while owners pay 82%. A Mnuchin spokeswoman said that other “studies show that 70% of the tax burden falls on American workers” and that a “lower corporate rate, as proposed in the [GOP tax] framework, will generate the incentives needed to increase productivity and wages, as well as create jobs.” (Wall Street Journal)

7/ The acting Homeland Security Secretary called Puerto Rico's recovery "really a good news story." San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz shot back: "Dammit, this is not a good news story. This is a 'people are dying' story. It's a life-or-death story." Early this week, Trump placed some blame on Puerto Rico for its situation, tweeting that the US territory had "broken infrastructure & massive debt." Today, he tweeted that "big decisions will have to be made as to the cost of its rebuilding!" (CNN / Politico / The Hill)

8/ The Justice Department wants Facebook to turn over information about people who "liked" an anti-Trump Facebook page. The department obtained search warrants requiring The DisruptJ20 Facebook page – now Resist This – and two others to hand over "nonpublic lists of people who planned to attend political organizing events and even the names of people who simply liked, followed, reacted to, commented on or otherwise engaged with the content on the Facebook page." Information from the three accounts could provide the personal details of thousands of activists who expressed interest in anti-Trump rallies. The DOJ originally requested that 1.3 million IP addresses from disruptj20.org be turned over, which a DC judge ruled that the web hosting company was obligated to turn over. (NBC News)

  • A social media campaign calling itself "Blacktivist" and linked to the Russian government used both Facebook and Twitter in an attempt to amplify racial tensions during the election. The Twitter account has been handed over to Congress with the Facebook account expected to be handed over in the coming days. (CNN)

9/ Russia warned the US not to take action against their government-funded media outlets RT and Sputnik: "every step against a Russian media outlet will be met with a corresponding response." Earlier this month, the Department of Justice notified the company supplying services for RT America that it is obligated to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act due to the work it does for RT. Federal investigators are also looking into whether RT and Sputnik were part of Russia's influence campaign in the 2016 election. (CNN)

  • The Senate confirmed Jon Huntsman to be the US ambassador to Russia. Huntsman testified earlier this month before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that there is "no question" that Moscow meddled in the election. Huntsman previously served as ambassador to China and Singapore. (Politico)

10/ The White House launched an internal probe of private email use after it was reported that Jared Kushner and several senior White House officials used private email accounts to conduct government business. At least five current and former White House officials have used private email, including Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Gary Cohn, Steve Bannon, and Reince Priebus. (Politico)

11/ The State Department ordered nonessential diplomats and families out of Cuba after several sonic attacks. At least 21 US diplomats and family members have been affected, causing an array of issues from hearing loss to dizziness to concussions. (CNN / New York Times)

12/ Republicans launched a group to fight Democratic-drawn political maps in court using data and legal efforts to “serve as a central resource to coordinate and collaborate” on redistricting for party organizations and members. Democrats setup a similar group earlier this year. Both the National Republican Redistricting Trust and the National Democratic Redistricting Committee are focused on influencing congressional and state legislative boundaries after the next census. (Politico)

poll/ 49% say NFL players who kneel during the National Anthem are doing the wrong thing to express their political opinion, while 43% say it's the right thing. (CNN)

poll/ 83% of voters support a path for illegal immigrants to become legal residents, up nine points since last year. 14% say “deport as many as possible,” down from a high of 30 percent in July 2015. (Fox News)

Day 252: No guarantees.

1/ Trump's top economic adviser "can't guarantee" taxes won't go up for the middle class. Gary Cohn said Trump's tax plan is "purely aimed at middle-class families," but "it depends which state you live in." He added that the rich will not benefit under the plan. Trump wanted to propose a 15% corporate rate rather than the 20% announced, which is down from the current 35%. (ABC News / Axios)

2/ Jared Kushner didn't disclose the existence of his personal email account to the Senate intelligence committee when he testified in July, which he used from January through August. The chair and vice chair of the committee wrote his attorney, Abbe Lowell, instructing Kushner to double-check that he has turned over all relevant documents to the committee, including those from his personal email account, "as well as all other email accounts, messaging apps, or similar communications channels you may have used, or that may contain information relevant to our inquiry." (CNN)

3/ Trump waived the shipping restrictions for Puerto Rico, which were limiting access to food, medicine, clothing, and supplies for hurricane relief. The move comes after criticism that the White House had been slow to help Puerto Rico recover from Hurricane Maria. The waiver will be in effect for 10 days and will cover all products being shipped to the island. The State Department evacuated 225 people from the Caribbean island of Dominica, who signed promissory notes agreeing to reimburse the State Department for travel costs. (CNN / Washington Post / The Hill)

UPDATE:

The State Department is not requiring anyone evacuated from hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico to sign promissory notes reimbursing the government for travel costs.

4/ Twitter briefed members of the Senate and House intelligence committees about fake news spread by Russian accounts and what steps the company took to stop it. Twitter told Congress that about 200 accounts are tied to some of the same Russian-linked sources that purchased ads on Facebook. The vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee criticized Twitter for failing to aggressively investigate the Russian misuse of its platform beyond the accounts linked to fraudulent profiles already identified by Facebook. Mark Warner said the company's presentation “showed an enormous lack of understanding from the Twitter team of how serious this issue is, the threat it poses to democratic institutions and again begs many more questions than they offered." He added: “Their response was frankly inadequate on every level.” (Recode / New York Times)

  • An Oxford University study shows there was a higher concentration of misinformation, polarizing political and conspiratorial news shared on Twitter from Russian, WikiLeaks, and junk news sources in the swing states Trump won than in uncontested states. (Oxford Internet Institute)

  • A Russian hacker who previously worked for Putin’s United Russia party was arrested in Barcelona on a US warrant. Prosecutors charged Peter Levashov with operating a network of tens of thousands of infected computers used by cyber criminals. (Reuters)

5/ The Senate Intelligence Committee has asked Facebook, Google, and Twitter to testify on Russian meddling at a public hearing on November 1st. The House Intelligence Committee also wants to hold a public hearing next month with representatives from several unnamed technology companies (hint, hint) in an effort to “better understand how Russia used online tools and platforms to sow discord in and influence our election.” (Reuters / New York Times / Politico)

6/ A Russian-backed group impersonated a real American Muslim organization on Facebook and Instagram to spread misinformation. The United Muslims of America pushed memes that claimed Hillary Clinton admitted the US “created, funded and armed” al-Qaeda and ISIS, claimed that John McCain was ISIS’ true founder, and alleged Osama bin Laden was a “CIA agent.” (The Daily Beast)

7/ Tom Price will repay taxpayers for his private jet travel, saying "I regret the concerns this has raised regarding the use of taxpayer dollars." He added: "The taxpayers won’t pay a dime for my seat on those planes." Price has taken at least 26 charter flights costing more than $400,000 since May to conduct official business. Price, however, will only reimburse taxpayers for just under $52,000. Meanwhile, EPA chief Scott Pruitt has taken at least four noncommercial and military flights since mid-February, costing taxpayers more than $58,000. House Democrats introduced legislation to prevent Trump administration officials from using private jets with taxpayers funds. (Politico / Washington Post / The Hill)

Day 251: Middle class miracle.

1/ Trump's tax plan will cut rates for businesses and the wealthy, while eliminating widely used exemptions and deductions. He dubbed the plan a "middle class miracle," which would collapse the tax brackets from seven down to three while raising the lowest rate from 10% to 12% and cut the top rate from 39.6% to 35%. The standard deduction would double to $12,000 for individuals and to $24,000 for married couples. The White House and the Republicans haven't said what loopholes would be closed in order to offset the trillions of dollars in revenue lost by cutting tax rates. Republicans want to pass a tax bill by the end of the year, which would be their first major legislative achievement this year. (Washington Post / Reuters / New York Times)

2/ Trump will cap refugee admissions at 45,000 in the next fiscal year. The ceiling has never been lower than 67,000, the number Ronald Reagan set in 1986, and the US hasn't taken in so few refugees in a single year since 2006, when 41,223 were allowed to enter. In 2016, the US welcomed 84,995 refugees with Obama pushing to raise that number to 110,000 in 2017. Defense and State Department officials, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the United Nations had recommended that Trump admit at least 50,000 refugees during the next fiscal year. Meanwhile, Stephen Miller and John Kelly advocated admitting as few as 15,000 refugees. (Associated Press / New York Times)

3/ The acting head of the DEA will resign after losing confidence in Trump’s respect for the law. Last month, Chuck Rosenberg sent an agency-wide memo rebuking Trump's suggestion that police were being “too nice” to suspects and shouldn't shield their heads from hitting the roof of the police car during arrests. “We must earn and keep the public trust and continue to hold ourselves to the very highest standards,” Rosenberg wrote. “Ours is an honorable profession and, so, we will always act honorably.” Rosenberg will resign at the end of the week. (Politico / New York Times)

4/ Trump deleted his tweets supporting Luther Strange after Strange lost in Alabama's primary runoff. The deleted tweets were archived by ProPublica and are no longer public on Twitter, but watchdog groups believe Trump is breaking the law when he deletes his tweets. Trump deleted at least three favorable tweets, including one saying that Strange “has been shooting up in the Alabama polls since my endorsement.” Strange lost to Roy Moore, who took nearly 55% of the vote. (New York Times / Washington Post)

5/ Russian-bought political Facebook ads criticized Hillary Clinton, promoted Trump, and supported Bernie Sanders even after his presidential campaign had ended. The ads appeared designed to create divisions while sometimes praising Trump, Sanders, and Green Party candidate Jill Stein. A number of the ads questioned Clinton’s authenticity and touted liberal criticisms of her candidacy. Trump took to Twitter to suggest that Facebook had colluded with the news media against him during the campaign, tweeting: "Facebook was always anti-Trump. The Networks were always anti-Trump hence, Fake News @nytimes (apologized) & @WaPo were anti-Trump. Collusion?" He added: "But the people were Pro-Trump! Virtually no President has accomplished what we have accomplished in the first 9 months – and economy roaring." (Politico / The Hill)

  • The Senate Intelligence Committee will call executives from Google to help understand Russian election meddling. The panel is seeking Google’s cooperation as it studies how Russia’s government might have exploited American social media and Internet companies during the 2016 campaign. (Politico)

6/ Three Americans with Russian business connections contributed almost $2 million to political funds controlled by Trump. All three men are associated with Viktor Vekselberg, one of the richest men in Russia, who holds frequent meetings with Putin. Donations began flowing to the RNC just as Trump was securing the Republican nomination and culminated in two large gifts – totaling $1.25 million – to the Trump inaugural fund following his victory. Unless the contributions were directed by a foreigner, they would be legal donations. (ABC News)

7/ The House Oversight Committee will investigate Tom Price's use of private jets for government business, which he's done at least 26 times and cost taxpayers more than $400,000. Trump told reporters that he's "not happy about it. I’m going to look at it. I am not happy about it, and I let him know it.” When asked if he would fire Price, he replied: "we'll see." (The Hill / New York Times / CNN)

poll/ 68% of Americans say the federal income tax system needs either a complete overhaul or major changes, cutting across party lines to include support by 77% of Republicans, 70% of independents, and 62% of Democrats. (CNN)

poll/ 57% of Americans disagree with Trump that the NFL should fire players who kneel. The results were split along party lines with 82% of Democrats and 29% of Republicans disagreeing with Trump's comments about firing football players. (Reuters)

poll/ 51% of Americans say they are embarrassed to have Trump serve as president. 59% say Trump is not honest, 60% say he does not have good leadership skills, and 61% say he does not share their values. 69% of voters want Trump to stop tweeting. (Quinnipiac)

Day 250: Height of hypocrisy.

1/ The House Oversight Committee asked the White House for information about the use of private emails for government duties by Jared Kushner and five other current and former senior aides. At least six of Trump’s closest advisers, including Steve Bannon, Reince Priebus, Gary Cohn, Stephen Miller, and Ivanka Trump have used private email addresses to discuss White House matters. Elijah Cummings said the committee would examine whether administration officials were “deliberately trying to circumvent (federal) laws by using personal, private, or alias email addresses to conduct official government business.” Hillary Clinton called the revelation "the height of hypocrisy." It is not illegal for White House officials to use private email accounts so long as they forward work-related messages to their government accounts so the records can be preserved. (Reuters / New York Times / ABC News)

2/ The Senate will not vote on the Graham-Cassidy bill to repeal Obamacare, Mitch McConnell told Republicans in a closed-door meeting. Opposition by Susan Collins, John McCain, and Rand Paul was enough to sink the legislation. McConnell said Republicans are not giving up on a health care bill, but will pivot to tax reform in search of a legislative victory. (CNN / Bloomberg / Politico / New York Times)

3/ Senate Republicans are discussing whether to merge another Obamacare repeal effort into tax reform. They would use budget reconciliation, which would allow them pass legislation with just 50 votes. Republicans have two options: attempt to pass both health care and tax reform for the 2018 fiscal year budget, or take up a budget for the 2019 fiscal year early next year and address an Obamacare repeal in that budget. Doing so would put health care back in the spotlight during the 2018 midterm elections. The CBO said the latest Senate health bill would cause millions of people to lose “comprehensive health insurance” over the next decade. (Politico / Axios / Forbes)

4/ Roger Stone rejected all allegations of collusion between Trump's associates and Russia during the 2016 election. In a closed House of Representatives Intelligence Committee hearing, Trump's longtime ally denied he had any contact with Russian operatives during the campaign. Stone also denied that he had any advance knowledge that emails of Clinton’s campaign chairman would be hacked and his emails released by WikiLeaks, despite tweeting days before that John Podesta’s “time in the barrel” would soon be coming. (Reuters / Washington Post)

5/ Robert Mueller could start interviewing current and former White House staff as soon as this week. On Mueller's short list are Reince Priebus, Sean Spicer, Hope Hicks, Don McGahn, Josh Raffel, and James Burnham. Related, Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, has said he's been informed by Mueller that he will be indicted as part of the FBI's Russia probe. Mueller has been looking at Manafort's possible financial and tax crimes, his contacts with Russian officials, and his work as a foreign agent with links to the Kremlin and Ukraine's pro-Russia Party of Regions. A Democratic senator said he's "99% sure" Michael Flynn will also be indicted. (CNN / Yahoo / Business Insider / Politico)

6/ The IRS Criminal Investigation division is sharing information with Robert Mueller about Trump's campaign associates, including Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn. IRS agents had been working before the election with the FBI to investigate Manafort in a similar probe that centered on possible money laundering and tax fraud issues. It's unclear if the special counsel has asked for or has obtained Trump's tax returns. (CNN)

7/ Wisconsin's strict voter ID laws kept nearly 17,000 registered voters from the polls in the November election. The November turnout in Wisconsin, 69.4% of eligible voters, was the lowest in a presidential election year since 2000. Trump defeated Clinton by 22,748 votes. (New York Times)

8/ Trump will travel to Puerto Rico next week to survey damage from Hurricane Maria after tweeting that the Caribbean island was "broken" and in "deep trouble" because of its outdated infrastructure and large debt. San Juan's mayor responded to Trump, saying "you don't put debt above people, you put people above debt." Puerto Rico's governor said the island was on the brink of a “humanitarian crisis," stressing that the United States commonwealth deserved the same treatment as hurricane-ravaged states. (Bloomberg / CNN / New York Times / The Hill)

poll/ Only 54% of Americans know that Puerto Ricans are US citizens. Puerto Rico is not a state and does not vote in presidential elections, but they do send one nonvoting representative to Congress. (New York Times)

Day 249: But her emails.

1/ The Graham-Cassidy bill appears dead on arrival after Susan Collins announced she'll join John McCain and Rand Paul in opposing the legislation. The latest health care proposal included more funding to Alaska, Arizona, Kentucky, and Maine in an effort to win votes from Lisa Murkowski, McCain, Paul, and Collins. Ted Cruz said he doesn’t support the bill and suggested that Mike Lee also opposes it. The three “No” votes likely kill the last-ditch GOP effort to repeal Obamacare this week before protections against a Democratic filibuster expire. (Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / Associated Press / CNN)

  • Healthcare.gov will be shut down for 12 hours on all but one Sunday morning during open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act. (PBS)

2/ Trump issued an executive order to expand his travel ban and permanently restrict visitors from eight countries. With his revised, temporary travel ban now expired, the new order will stay in place until Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Chad, North Korea, and Venezuela meet security requirements set by Homeland Security. Starting October 18th, the new order indefinitely bans almost all travel to the US from the eight countries. (NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post)

3/ Jared Kushner used a private email account through his first nine months in the White House to trade emails with senior White House officials and outside advisers. At times, Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus also used private email accounts to correspond with Kushner. During the campaign, Trump routinely attacked Hillary Clinton for using a personal email account to handle government business when she was secretary of state. Kushner's lawyer, Abbe Lowell, said he adhered to government record-keeping requirements by forwarding all the emails to his government account. (Politico / New York Times / Washington Post)

  • Ivanka Trump used a personal email address to communicate with a government official after her father took office. Documents from a Freedom of Information Act request show that on February 28, Trump emailed the administrator of the Small Business Administration from a personal domain. At the time, Trump was operating inside the White House in a nonofficial capacity. (Newsweek)

4/ Homeland Security notified 21 states that they had been targeted by Russian government hackers during the 2016 election campaign. Hackers penetrated computer systems in a handful of states, but there is no evidence that hackers tampered with voting machines. DHS left it to individual states to decide whether to publicly acknowledge if they had been targeted, but officials confirmed that Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wisconsin and Washington were among the states targeted. (Washington Post)

5/ The White House and Justice Department have missed deadlines and are withholding records related to the Russia investigation by the House intelligence committee and the Senate judiciary committee. The Senate judiciary committee has requested information about the DOJ's decision to prevent two senior FBI officials from sitting down for transcribed interviews to provide eyewitness accounts of the Comey firing. The House intelligence committee is threatening to hold a public hearing over documents the DOJ failed to turn over regarding the FBI's ties to the British operative who compiled a dossier of allegations on Trump's connections with Russia. (CNN)

6/ North Korea accused Trump of declaring war, saying it has “every right to make countermeasures, including the right to shoot down U.S. strategic bombers, even if they are not yet inside the air-space border of our country.” The North’s assertion that the US has declared war comes two days after Trump tweeted that "Little Rocket Man (and North Korea) won’t be around much longer!” while the Air Force flew B-1B Lancer bombers and F-15C Eagle fighter escorts in international airspace near North Korea.

Last week, White House aides warned Trump not to personally attack the North Korean leader during his United Nations speech, saying that insulting Kim Jong Un in such a prominent venue could irreparably escalate tensions. Ignoring the advice, Trump went ahead and said the US may have to "totally destroy" North Korea and that "rocket man is on a suicide mission." The White House rejected the notion that the US had declared war, calling the suggestion "absurd." (New York Times / CNN / Politico / NBC News)

7/ Tom Price will stop using taxpayer-funded travel on private jets, pending a formal review by his department’s inspector general. The Health and Human Services Secretary has spent more than $400,000 on at least 24 private charter jets since May. (Politico)

8/ Steve Bannon tried to place a mole inside Facebook days before he took over Trump’s president campaign in August 2016. The plan was "for Breitbart to flood the zone with candidates" for a Public Policy Manager role at Facebook’s WhatsApp, who would then report back to Bannon. Breitbart News Tech Editor Milo Yiannopoulos forwarded Bannon’s request to a group of contracted researchers, one of whom responded that it “Seems dificult [sic] to do quietly without them becoming aware of efforts.” (BuzzFeed News)

9/ More than 200 football players, coaches, and team owners sat, knelt or raised their fists in defiance during the national anthem on Sunday after Trump called for NFL teams to suspend or fire players who protested the anthem. Several teams stayed in their locker rooms during the anthem. "Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now," Trump said to a crowd Friday night at a rally in Huntsville, Alabama. "Out. He's fired. He's fired." Later, Trump tweeted that “If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag and Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!”

Trump Jr. piled on, attacking Roger Goodell after the NFL commissioner released a statement criticizing Trump's comments, saying “If only Roger Goodell cared as much about domestic abuse and traumatic brain injury as he does about disrespecting America." Steven Mnuchin defended Trump's comments, saying that players "have the right to have the First Amendment off the field."

But that's not all. Trump also disinvited the Golden State Warriors from the traditional White House visit because Stephen Curry said he didn't want to go. LeBron James then called Trump a "bum," and tweeted that going to the "White House was a great honor until you showed up!" Phew! (New York Times / Associated Press / Washington Post)

poll/ 52% of Americans disapprove of the Graham-Cassidy health care bill. 20% said they approved of the Republican legislation aimed at repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, while 28% don't have an opinion. (CBS News)

poll/ 86% of Americans support DACA, the residency program for undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children. 62% oppose also Trump's demand for a wall on the US border with Mexico. (ABC News)

poll/ 29% of Americans hold a favorable view of the Republican Party – down 13 percentage points since March. The previous low point for the GOP was 30% – hit twice – in 2013 following the shutdown over Obamacare, and 1998, in the wake of the House approving two articles of impeachment against then Bill Clinton. (CNN)

poll/ 72% of Americans trust military generals more than Trump on North Korea. 42% trust Trump "not at all." 67% oppose a preemptive strike by the US on North Korea. (Washington Post)

Day 246: Dotard.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 245: Innocuous.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 244: Nothing there.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 243: Wiretapped.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 242: Rocket man.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 239: Sick and demented.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 238: Betrayed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 237: Even lower.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 236: Clandestine efforts.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 235: Too bombastic.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 232: Operation mega.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 231: Nothing to worry about.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 230: Revisit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 229: Rescinded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 225: A rigged system.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 224: Tag teamed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 223: Talking is not the answer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 222: Concealed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 221: Speaks for himself.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 218: Must do better.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 217: Nonsense.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 216: Looking for a way out.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 215: Principled realism.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 214: A path forward.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 211: Smell ya later.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 210: Ripped apart.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 209: Stunned and disheartened.

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

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

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

  • What Steve Bannon thinks about Charlottesville. (Axios)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 208: Retweet rampage.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 207: On many sides.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 204: Locked and loaded, or whatever.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 203: Follow the money.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 202: An absurd red line.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 201: Extreme weather.

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

  • Notes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 200: A case of the Mondays.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 196: Grand jury.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 195: Seriously flawed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 194: Dictated.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 193: Total quitters.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 190: Backfired.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 189: No modifications.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 188: The most presidential.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 187: Open debate.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UPDATE:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 186: Beleaguered.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 184: Complete power.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 183: Pardon power.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 182: Very unfair.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 181: Secret dinner.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 180: Dead on arrival.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 179: White collar crimes.

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

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