What The Fuck Just Happened Today?

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

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Day 187: Too close to call.

*** UPDATES IN PROGRESS ***

1/ The health care repeal vote is too close to call and Senate Republicans don't know what's in their plan, but they'll vote anyway on the motion to proceed. About a half-dozen senators are publicly undecided about whether to start debate on rolling back the Affordable Care Act. Mitch McConnell needs 50 out of the 52 Senate Republicans to support him on the motion to proceed. Several senators have said they want a "replace" plan ready to go before voting "yes." An agreed upon replace plan is not in place.

If the procedural vote passes, it doesn't mean the bill will. Once debate starts, senators can then introduce amendments to the bill. The final version will still need to pass with 50 votes. The bill would then have to pass the House before making its way to Trump's desk. If the procedural vote fails, it doesn't mean the bill is dead, either. McConnell is forcing the vote to put every senator on record. (Politico / Vox / CNN)

2/ 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)

3/ Trump ripped Jeff Sessions on Twittering, 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/ Trump has discussed replacing Jeff Sessions. The move, viewed by some of Trump's advisors, is a strategy for firing special counsel Robert Mueller and ending 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. (Washington Post / Associated Press)

5/ 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)

6/ Senate Republicans are not pleased with Trump's attacks on Sessions. Senators have said that attacks Sessions, who spent 20 years in the Senate, strains Trump’s relationship with Senate Republicans. 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." (McClatchy DC)

7/ 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)

8/ Parents are anger 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)

9/ Trump confirmed a covert CIA program while saying 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)

10/ 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)

Day 186: Beleaguered.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 184: Complete power.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 183: Pardon power.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 182: Very unfair.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 181: Secret dinner.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 180: Dead on arrival.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 179: White collar crimes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 176: Counterintelligence.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 175: Health care redux.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 174: Cyber operatives.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 173: "Incriminate Hillary."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 172: Damaging information.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 169: An honor to be with you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 168: Will to survive.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 167: Heart of the US.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 162: Fraud.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

14/ NASA denied that it's running a child slave colony on Mars. An Alex Jones guest alleged the space agency had kidnapped children and sent them on a two-decade mission to space… (The Daily Beast)

Day 161: Low IQ.

1/ Trump assailed television host Mika Brzezinski on Twitter for "bleeding badly from a face-lift." Trump targeted both Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough in a pair of morning tweets, referring to Brzezinski as "low I.Q. Crazy Mika" and Scarborough as "Psycho Joe." He then opined on the physical appearance of Brzezinski, saying he declined meeting with the pair at Mar-a-Lago during the winter because "she was bleeding badly from a face-lift." Brzezinski responded in a tweet of her own, mocking Trump's "little hands." Brzezinski and her fiancé Scarborough are co-hosts of the MSNBC show “Morning Joe." About two hours before his tweets, Brzezinski said on the show that “it’s not normal behavior” for any leader to tweet about a person's appearances, bully, lie, undermine managers, or throw people under the bus. (CNN / New York Times / The Daily Beast / Associated Press)

  • Trump knocked CNN and Nancy Pelosi at his first re-election fundraiser, hosted at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. He derided CNN for errors and presented himself as a victim of its reporting, which he said was deeply unfair. (Politico)
  • The White House defended Trump’s tweets about Brzezinski. (Think Progress)

2/ The White House offered an unapologetic defense of Trump's tweets. Sarah Huckabee Sanders responded to questions by reporters about Trump’s inflammatory tweets, saying “The only person I see a war on is this president and everybody that works for him. I don’t think you can expect someone to be personally attacked, day after day, minute by minute, and sit back. The American people elected a fighter.” (The Hill)

3/ Paul Ryan called Trump's tweet attacking Brzezinski inappropriate. “I don’t see that as an appropriate comment,” Ryan said at a press conference. (Politico)

4/ Rex Tillerson ripped a White House aide for sinking his nominees, questioning his judgment, and leaking to the press. A frustrated Tillerson ripped into Johnny DeStefano, head of the presidential personnel office, in front of Reince Priebus, Jared Kushner and others, saying he did not want DeStefano’s office to “have any role in staffing” and “expressed frustration that anybody would know better” than him about who should work in his department. Kushner called the outburst unprofessional. (Politico)

5/ Trump's travel ban takes effect at 8PM ET today. Visa applicants from the six countries — and all refugees — will be required to show close family or business ties to the US. Grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, fiancees or other extended family members are not considered to be "close relations." (Washington Post / New York Times)

6/ New CBO analysis: The Senate health bill would reduce Medicaid spending by 35% by 2036 compared to the current law. By 2026, Medicaid spending would be cut by 26%. (Washington Post)

7/ Putin will meet with Trump on the sidelines of the G20 summit next week in Hamburg. Trump asked White House aides to come up with possible concessions to offer as bargaining chips for the meeting. No other meetings are planned between the two. (Reuters / The Guardian)

8/ The House Intelligence Committee wants to talk to Trump’s longtime bodyguard-turned-White House aide as part of their investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign. Keith Schiller is the former head of security for the Trump Organization and now serves as the White House director of Oval Office operations. He's been at Trump’s side for nearly 20 years. (ABC News)

9/ Pence is replacing his chief of staff with Nick Ayers, one of the leaders of America First Policies, which ran retaliatory ads against a Republican Senator who opposed the Obamacare repeal plan. (New York Times)

poll/ 42% of Americans feel "alarmed" about how things are going in Washington. 33% feel "uneasy" while just 11% are "excited." (USA Today)

Day 160: Failing fake news.

1/ Trump and the White House intensify their war on the media. It started with Trump tweeting about a "failing" New York Times story suggesting he was detached from the effort to overhaul the health care bill. He called the story false and said the Times didn't call for a comment. The Times responded saying they did call – as they always do. (CNN)

2/ Later, Trump tweeted that the "FAKE NEWS" Washington Post is the "guardian of Amazon" for taxes purposes. Amazon doesn’t own the newspaper. It's privately owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. There is no federal “internet tax.” Fake news. (Politico / Recode)

3/ Mitch McConnell wants to send a revised version of the health care bill to the CBO by Friday, in an effort to hold a vote before the August recess. Trump teased that “a big surprise” could be coming in the effort to repeal and replace Obamacare, suggesting that Senate Republicans are “going to get at least very close” to passing their health care bill. It's unclear if Trump even knows what's in the Senate bill. When asked by reporters if Trump understood the details, McConnell ignored the question and smiled. (Washington Post / Politico / New York Times)

4/ An estimated 208,500 additional deaths could occur by 2026 under the Senate health plan, based on the study of the effects of health care reform in Massachusetts on mortality. The authors found that for every 830 individuals insured, one life was saved. 14 million Americans could lose their health insurance in 2018 and 22 million by 2026, the CBO projects. Using state-level coverage losses and the findings of the study, it's estimated that 22,900 excess deaths would occur in 2020 and grow to 26,500 extra deaths by 2026. [Editor's Note: there's some obvious nuance here and it's recommended you read the entire article to fully grasp the potential impact of the health care bill on mortality] (Vox)

5/ Trump's advisers are struggling to convince him that Russia still poses a threat. There is no paper trail – schedules, readouts or briefing documents – to indicate Trump has dedicated time to the issue. He has, however, continued to tweet about Obama failing to stop Russian meddling in the election. Trump has repeatedly blamed the Democratic National Committee, China, and "someone sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds" for election-related cyberattacks. (CNN)

6/ Trump’s lawyer postponed filing a complaint about Comey and his memos in what Trump considered to be an illegal “leak." Marc Kasowitz, however, still intends to file the complaint with the Justice Department. He has delayed it as a courtesy to Robert Mueller and his investigation, which Trump has repeatedly called a "witch hunt." Trump has also refrained from publicly criticizing the special counsel lately as part of his legal team’s approach to reducing further confrontation. (Bloomberg)

7/ Paul Manafort's consulting firm received more than $17 million from a pro-Russian Ukrainian political party. In Manafort's retroactive registration as a foreign agent, he indicated that he was retained by the Party of Regions to advise Ukrainian officials in their dealings with American government officials. The report makes Manafort the second former senior Trump adviser to disclose work for foreign interests. Michael Flynn was the other. (New York Times / Bloomberg / Washington Post)

8/ Trump tapped the lawyer that helped draft the Patriot Act for the top State Department role. If confirmed, Jennifer Newstead would serve as the State Department’s top legal adviser, overseeing issues involving foreign policy and security, as well as playing a key role in justifying the use of military force, how to apply the laws of war to cyber attacks, determining what represents a military coup, and more. The Patriot Act was amended in 2015 after years of criticism from civil liberties groups that it violated Americans’ privacy. (BuzzFeed News)

9/ The FBI interviewed at least a dozen employees of a Russia-based cyber-security company, gathering facts about how Kaspersky Lab works, including to what extent the US operations report to Moscow. Kaspersky has long been of interest to the US government, whose founder graduated from the KGB-backed Institute of Cryptography, Telecommunications, and Computer Science. Kaspersky Lab paid former national security adviser Michael Flynn $11,250 in 2015 for cyber security consulting. (NBC News)

10/ The computer system of at least one US nuclear plant was hacked. There is no evidence that any sensitive or operational systems were breached. Authorities have not said who may be responsible, but agencies are looking at the possibility that another country may be behind the hack. (ABC News)

11/ Fox News hired Jason Chaffetz to provide political analysis. In May, Chaffetz announced that he he would resign from Congress to pursue other opportunities. His congressional job ends Friday and will start his role at Fox on July 1. (The Daily Beast / The Hill)

poll/ 17% of Americans approve of the Senate's health care plan, according to a NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll. 55% disapprove. (NPR)

poll/ 16% of American voters support the Republican health care plan, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll. 58% disapprove. (Quinnipiac University)

poll/ 12% of Americans support the Senate Republican health care plan, a USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll finds. 53% say Congress should either leave Obamacare alone or fix its problems while keeping the framework intact. (USA Today)

In a word, not good.

Day 159: Delayed.

1/ Mitch McConnell delayed the Republican health care vote until after the July 4th recess as they search for the 50 votes needed to start debate on the bill. McConnell told GOP senators that he wants to make changes to the bill, get a new Congressional Budget Office score, and have a vote after the holiday. Meanwhile, Trump has invited all Senate Republicans to the White House to discuss the health care bill. The senators-only meeting is scheduled for 4PM EST at the White House. (Politico / CNN)

2/ The Senate health care bill is "hanging by a thread" as Republicans struggle to find the votes needed. At least six Republican senators are currently opposed to the bill: Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Ron Johnson, Dean Heller, and Susan Collins. Republicans can only lose two votes from their own party and still pass the bill. It's been Pence's team – not Trump – that has played the prominent role in trying to whip up votes this week. Stephen Bannon and Reince Priebus have been all but sidelined. (New York Times / CNN / NBC News)

  • The CBO estimates that 22 million more people would be uninsured under the Senate bill, leaving Mitch McConnell with less than the 50 votes he'd need for a procedural motion to bring his health care bill to the floor. (Axios)
  • The equivalent of 16 states' populations could lose insurance under the Senate health care bill. 22 million people is equal to the total population of 16 US states. (Washington Post)

3/ McConnell: If Obamacare repeal fails, Republicans will be forced to compromise with Democrats. Failure to repeal the health care law would mean the GOP would lose its opportunity to do a partisan rewrite and have to enter into bipartisan negotiations with Democrats to save the failing insurance markets. Democrats will want to retain as much of Obamacare as possible. (Politico)

  • After the CBO score, Republicans can divvy up nearly $200 billion to secure votes for the health care bill. It's "all about side deals" one Senate aide said. (Politico)

4/ The White House warned Syria that it would “pay a heavy price” if it carried out another chemical attack. The Pentagon said it detected “active preparations” similar to those that occurred before the chemical attack in April. Several military officials were caught off guard by the White House statement. (Associated Press / Washington Post / New York Times)

5/ Trump's lawyer directed millions in nonprofit donations to family members. Since 2000, Jay Sekulow has steered more than $60 million to his family and their businesses after pushing poor and jobless people to donate money – a “sacrificial gift" – to his Christian nonprofit. The nonprofit has raised tens of millions of dollars a year, mostly in small amounts from Christians who receive direct appeals for money from telemarketers. (The Guardian)

6/ At least 10 Trump aides have hired lawyers for the Russia probe, or are planning to do so. Inside the White House, Trump, Pence, and Kushner have hired private attorneys, as have former campaign advisers Michael Caputo, Boris Epshteyn, and Roger Stone, among others. (Wall Street Journal)

  • Jared Kushner has hired Abbe Lowell, a leading criminal defense lawyer. Kushner has also kept his current lawyer, Jamie Gorelick, who was a partner at WilmerHale, where Bob Mueller was a partner until becoming the special counsel. (New York Times / Politico)

7/ Congressman making $174k wants a 17% pay raise. Jason Chaffetz wants to give House and Senate lawmakers a $2,500 per month allowance to subsidize lawmakers’ housing costs in D.C., which would cost about $16 million a year for all 535 congressional members. (The Hill)

8/ The Pentagon could cancel enlistment contracts for 1,000 foreign-born recruits, putting them at risk of deportation. The recruits have seen their visas expire while waiting for basic training leaving them without legal immigration status. They were recruited into a program designed to award fast-tracked citizenship in exchange for needed medical and language skills. (Washington Post)

9/ North Korea compared Trump to Hitler, likening Trump's “America First” policy to “Nazism in the 21st century." (Wall Street Journal)

10/ Sarah Huckabee Sanders lectured reporters about the "constant barrage of fake news" by the media. She then promoted a video by James O'Keefe, a journalist known for his deceptive video editing and interview tactics, who released an undercover video where a CNN producer called the network's Russia coverage "mostly bullshit." She conceded that she did not know "whether it's accurate or not," then added that "if it is accurate, I think it's a disgrace to all of media, to all of journalism." (Washington Post / Politico / HuffPost)

11/ Trump tweeted that CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC, The New York Times, and The Washington Post are all "fake news" after CNN retracted a story tying a member of Trump’s transition team to the ongoing Russia investigations. (Politico)

13/ Sean Spicer barred TV cameras and live audio broadcasts from Monday's media briefing. Spicer has allowed question-and-answer sessions with reporters to be televised just six times in the past six weeks. A reporter asked, "Why are the cameras off, Sean?" Spicer's eventual answer: "Some days we'll have them, some days we won't. The President is going to speak today in the Rose Garden. I want the President's voice to carry the day." (Washington Post)

14/ The EPA, the Army, and the US Army Corps of Engineers are proposing a new rule to rollback Obama's Waters of the United States. Scott Pruitt's EPA has prioritized the economic concerns of industry and agricultural interests over environmental concerns. (Wall Street Journal)

  • The EPA chief of staff pressured the top scientist to alter her congressional testimony and play down the dismissal of expert advisers. Deborah Swackhamer, who leads the EPA's Board of Scientific Counselors, was told to stick to the agency’s “talking points” on the dismissals of several members of the scientific board. (New York Times)

15/ Rick Perry wants an "intellectual conversation" about the impacts of humans on the climate. While Perry said he believes in climate change, he doesn't believe carbon dioxide is the main driver of climate change, putting him at odds with climate scientists. (Politico)

poll/ More people worldwide have confidence in Putin than Trump. Just 22% have confidence in Trump to do the right thing when it comes to international affairs, down from 64% who had confidence in Obama, and compared to 27% for Putin. Globally, the US favorability rating has decreased from 64% at the end of Obama’s presidency to just 49%. (Pew Research Center)

Day 158: Reinstated.

1/ The Supreme Court partly reinstated Trump's travel ban. The administration may now impose a 90-day ban on travelers from Libya, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen and a 120-day ban on all refugees entering the US, as long as they lack a “credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.” Trump said the court’s decision to hear arguments on the travel ban cases in October was a “clear victory” for national security and will go into effect in 72-hours. Three justices — Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch — said they would have let the complete ban take effect while the court considers the case. (Associated Press / Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

2/ Trump will meet with Putin in Germany next month. Trump wants a full bilateral meeting, while the State Department and National Security Council are urging for restraint. All 17 US intelligence agencies have agreed Russia was behind the hack of DNC's email and tried to influence the election to benefit Trump. A former KGB general said Putin has “other priorities” than discussing the accusations that Russia hacked the election, such as easing sanctions, raising oil prices, as well as next year’s presidential elections in Russia. (Associated Press)

3/ A Russian government official making $75,000 per year spent nearly $8 million on Trump condos in South Florida. There is also no public disclosure of Igor Zorin's properties in Russia, which is illegal under Russian law. None of Zorin’s property purchases used bank financing, meaning he most likely paid cash. He made roughly $75,000 in 2015 and $159,000 in 2016. In one sale, a Florida company transferred a condo valued at $1.5 million to Zorin. No deed of sale was recorded, meaning the price paid — if any — is unknown. (Miami Herald)

4/ Russia is recalling Sergey Kislyak as the FBI and Congress continue to investigate the 66-year-old diplomat’s contacts with Trump’s team during the 2016 presidential campaign. Kislyak spent nearly 10 years at the center of US–Russia relations. (BuzzFeed News)

5/ The Trump administration has done little to prevent Russian hacking in the next election. Trump has shown no interest about how to prevent future election interference. Comey testified that Trump never asked him about how to stop a future election attack, while Jeff Sessions, who sits on the National Security Council, testified that he has not received a classified briefing on Russian election interference. Sean Spicer has never addressed the topic with Trump, either. Despite blaming the 2016 hacks on Obama, Trump hasn't said what he would do to stop Russian hacking. (NBC News)

6/ The Senate health bill would leave 22 million more uninsured by 2026, slightly lower than the 23 million the House bill was projected at. 15 million more people would become uninsured next year compared to the current law. The federal deficit would decrease by $321 billion over a decade, compared to $119 billion for the House’s version. (New York Times / Washington Post)

7/ White House allies are retaliating against a Republican Senator who opposes the Obamacare repeal plan. America First Policies launched a $1 million attack against Dean Heller to both punish and sway his vote. (Politico)

8/ Trump confirmed that he called the health care bill "mean" and then accused Obama of stealing his term. Last week Obama said the Senate health care bill "will do you harm.”, adding that  there is a "fundamental meanness" to the Republican health care bill. In a Fox and Friends interview, Trump took credit. "Well he actually used my term, 'mean.' That was my term," he said. "Because I want to see – and I speak from the heart – that's what I want to see, I want to see a bill with heart." (CNN)

9/ Kellyanne Conway suggested people who lose Medicaid coverage could find jobs to provide health insurance. Projections show the Senate health bill would cut Medicaid by $800 billion, which Conway asserted is not a cut, but rather "getting Medicaid back to where it was." (CNBC / ABC News)

10/ Senate Republicans are skeptical their health care bill can pass this week. Republicans say the biggest problems with the Obamacare repeal bill are its steep Medicaid cuts and effects on older Americans’ premiums. “There's no way we should be voting on this” before the recess, Senator Ron Johnson said, urging party leaders to “not rush this process.” (Politico)

11/ Trump tweets that Democrats are "OBSTRUCTIONISTS" and that Obama “colluded or obstructed” on Russia. Here is Trump's full tweetstorm: "The Democrats have become nothing but OBSTRUCTIONISTS, they have no policies or ideas. All they do is delay and complain.They own ObamaCare! The reason that President Obama did NOTHING about Russia after being notified by the CIA of meddling is that he expected Clinton would win and did not want to 'rock the boat.' He didn't 'choke,' he colluded or obstructed, and it did the Dems and Crooked Hillary no good. The real story is that President Obama did NOTHING after being informed in August about Russian meddling. With 4 months looking at Russia under a magnifying glass, they have zero 'tapes' of T people colluding. There is no collusion and no obstruction. I should be given apology!" (CNN / The Daily Beast)

12/ Kushner finalized a $285 million loan from a bank trying to settle a federal mortgage fraud case and charges that it aided a possible Russian money-laundering scheme. The loan came a month before the election and both cases were settled in December and January. Deutsche Bank is Trump’s biggest lender. (Washington Post)

13/ Ivanka Trump, senior adviser to the president: "I try to stay out of politics," gives him "an A, of course" for his performance. She's met with senators to discuss paid family leave, delivered the keynote at the Republican National Convention, and has met with world leaders. She added that her father has "phenomenal" political instincts. (ABC News / Politico / CNN)

14/ Trump drives his golf cart on the green. Doesn't care. Does it all the time. (Washington Post)

Day 155: Bothersome.

1/ Obama weighed pre-election retaliation against Moscow for the Russian assault on the US election. The Obama administration debated dozens of options for deterring or punishing Russia, including cyberattacks on infrastructure, the release of CIA material to embarrass Putin, and sanctions that could “crater” the Russian economy. Instead, he expelled 35 Russian diplomats and closed two compounds. Obama also approved an operation in late December to embed "digital bombs" in Russia’s infrastructure that could be detonated if the US found itself in an escalating exchange with Moscow. The project was still in its planning stages when he left office, leaving Trump to decide whether to use the capability. “It is the hardest thing about my entire time in government to defend,” a former senior Obama official said. “I feel like we sort of choked.” (Washington Post)

2/ Trump denied obstructing Comey's FBI probe in a Fox & Friends interview. He said his tweet hinting of "tapes" was intended to influence Comey's testimony before Congress, suggesting it was possible that anyone could have taped their discussions. "With surveillance all over the place,” Trump said in the interview, “…you never know what’s out there, but I didn’t tape, and I don’t have any tape and I didn’t tape.” (New York Times / Reuters)

3/ Trump called Preet Bharara the day before dozens of US attorneys were asked to resign. The now former US Attorney sent an email to the Justice Department expressing his concern about a voicemail he received from Trump’s secretary. "It appeared to be that [Trump] was trying to cultivate some kind of relationship," Bharara said. "…It's a very weird and peculiar thing for a one-on-one conversation without the attorney general." Bharara refused to resign, and was firedthe following day. (BuzzFeed News)

4/ The director of national intelligence told House investigators that Trump seemed obsessed with the Russia probe and repeatedly asked him to publicly acknowledge there was no evidence of collusion. At a Senate hearing earlier this month, Dan Coats said Trump never  pressured him to do anything inappropriate, but refused to confirm or deny allegations that Trump asked him to push back against the FBI probe into collusion between the campaign and the Russian government. (NBC News)

5/ Trump: It's "bothersome" that Robert Mueller is "very, very good friends with Comey." He added that “there’s been no collusion, no obstruction, and virtually everybody agrees to that" and that Mueller's team of lawyers are "all Hillary Clinton supporters." (ABC News)

6/ Frustrated by the Russia probe, Trump loses patience with his White House lawyer. Trump took Don McGahn to task in the Oval Office for not doing more to squash the Russia probe early on despite having handed over the Russia investigation to his personal attorney Marc Kasowitz. (Politico)

7/ West Wing aides struggle to keep Trump calm on Russia. His new morning routine begins at 6:30 AM with a venting session with his outside legal team in an effort to prevent the Russia probe from consuming him all day. (Washington Post)

8/ Art of the Deal: Carrier is preparing to lay off 600 employees next month as Trump's deal fails to live up to the hype. Carrier will continue to employ at least 1,069 people at their  plant for 10 years in exchange for up to $7 million in incentives. But, only 730 of those positions are the manufacturing jobs that were at the heart of the debate. The rest are technical jobs that were never scheduled to be cut. (CNBC)

9/ The FBI is investigating business deals involving Paul Manafort and his son-in-law. Manafort helped finance a series of real estate deals by Jeffrey Yohai, who has been accused of defrauding investors. Manafort was Trump’s campaign chairman until reports surfaced that he had received millions of dollars off-the-book for his consulting work in Ukraine. (New York Times)

10/ Trump proposed a law that's existed for 20 years. During his rally on Wednesday, Trump called for a new law barring immigrants from receiving welfare for at least five years. Clinton signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act in 1996. The law prevents immigrants from receiving federal benefits, such as food stamps, Medicaid, and Social Security for five years after entering the country. (USA Today)

11/ The White House is frustrated with Rex Tillerson's deliberate approach to hiring at the State Department. Tillerson is more concerned about setting the State Department up for success, rather than satisfying the White House's desire to place Republican appointees in the numerous vacant positions. (Washington Post)

poll/ 13% of US adults have a favorable opinion of Putin, down from 22% in February. Putin's unfavorable rating stands at  74%. (Gallup)

poll/ More Americans believe Comey over Trump. 45% say they believe Comey's version of events compared to 22% who believe Trump more. (NBC News)

Day 154: Win, win, win.

1/ The Senate unveiled its health care bill today. It's similar to the House bill that passed last month, but with changes aimed at pleasing moderates: linking federal insurance subsidies to income, curbing Medicaid expansion, and ending the mandate that most Americans have health insurance. Mitch McConnell has vowed to hold a vote before senators go home for the July 4th recess, but he is still short the 50 votes he needs to pass the legislation. (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / Politico)

  • What's in the Senate Republican health care bill. Like the House version, McConnell’s proposal would slash taxes, cut Medicaid, and eliminate Obamacare’s insurance mandates for individuals and employers. (The Atlantic)
  • The GOP health plan is really a Medicaid rollback. It would also permanently restructure Medicaid, which covers tens of millions of poor or disabled Americans, including millions who are living in nursing homes with conditions like Alzheimer’s or the aftereffects of a stroke. (New York Times)

2/ Obama said the Senate health care bill "will do you harm.” In a nearly 1,000-word critique, Obama framed the GOP health care plan as fundamentally inhumane. “The Senate bill, unveiled today, is not a health care bill,” he wrote. “It’s a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America." (Barack Obama / HuffPost / Washington Post)

3/ Four Republican senators say they will not vote for the GOP health care bill unless changes are made, putting passage of the bill at risk hours after it was unveiled. In a statement, Ted Cruz, Ron Johnson, Mike Lee, and Rand Paul said they are "not ready" to support the measure. They are open to negotiating changes to win their support. (Politico / NBC News / Washington Post / ABC News)

  • Where Senators stand on the health care bill. It needs at least 50 votes to pass. Every Democrat is expected to oppose the bill, which means three Republican “no” votes would block it. (New York Times)

4/ The White House refused to say if Trump will support the Senate health care bill. Trump previously called the House health care bill "mean" and wanted the Senate version to be "more generous." (Politico)

5/ Trump tweets that he didn't tape his conversations with Comey after all. In May, Trump warned Comey against leaking to the press, suggesting there were "tapes" of their private conversations. Soon after reports surfaced of memos Comey had written detailing Trump's effort to shut down the Michael Flynn investigation. Today, Trump tweeted that "with all of the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking and illegal leaking of information, I have no idea whether there are "tapes" or recordings of my conversations with James Comey, but I did not make, and do not have, any such recordings." (NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post)

  • Trump's tease of possible Comey tapes fits familiar pattern. In 2011, Trump promised to reveal what his private investigators had found in Hawaii about Obama's birth certificate. He never released anything. (Associated Press)

6/ Two of the top intelligence officials told Robert Mueller that Trump suggested they refute collusion with the Russians. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers described the interaction as odd and uncomfortable, but that they don't believe Trump gave them orders to interfere. The two repeatedly refused to say whether Trump asked them to intervene in the Russia probe during their public Senate intelligence committee testimony. (CNN)

7/ Trump at Iowa rally: "All we do is win, win, win." He then blamed Democrats for his problems, boasted about his "amazing progress," and called the Russia investigation a "phony witch hunt" at his campaign-style rally in Cedar Rapids last night. During the 70-minute speech, Trump promised to lay out the next steps in “our incredible movement to make America great again," but continually veered off on tangents, reflected on the past, and contradicted himself. He knocked trade deals the Iowa economy relies on, dismissed wind energy in a state filled with thousands of turbines, and denounced the war in the Middle East despite reauthorizing troops in Afghanistan. Trump also revealed his plan for putting solar panels on his proposed border wall "so it creates energy and pays for itself." (New York Times / Washington Post / CBS News)

8/ Trump: "I just don't want a poor person" in charge of the economy.  "When you get the president of Goldman Sachs, smart," Trump told the crowd at his Cedar Rapids rally. During the campaign, Trump frequently bashed the investment bank for having too much influence in politics. Trump has one of the wealthiest Cabinets in history. (CNN)

9/ House Democrats want to suspend Jared Kushner's security clearance. Kushner's previously undisclosed meetings with Russian officials have drawn the attention of investigators. Democrats say these contacts should be enough to suspend his access to sensitive information. (ABC News)

10/ Hackers successfully altered at least one voter roll in 2016 and stole voter records that contain private information like partial Social Security numbers. Investigators have not identified whether the hackers in that case were Russian agents. (Time)

11/ The White House is urging House Republicans to weaken its Russia sanctions bill, which was overwhelmingly passed by the Senate. The bill would place new sanctions on Russia for its meddling in the 2016 election and allow Congress to block Trump from lifting penalties against Moscow. (New York Times)

12/ Betsy DeVos picked the CEO of a private student loan company to run the federal student loan system. 42 million Americans currently owe $1.4 trillion in student loans. (The Hill)

13/ Trump will host his first re-election fundraiser at the Trump International Hotel next week, raising ethics concerns from conflict of interest attorneys. Trump is “becoming more and more brazen in his efforts to monetize the presidency,” Obama’s lead ethics attorney said. (Associated Press)

14/ North Korea called Trump a "psychopath" and warned South Korea that no good will come from aligning with him. The commentary, published in a state newspaper, suggested that Trump could launch a preemptive strike on North Korea to distract from his domestic problems. (AOL News / Washington Post)

15/ The White House told reporters not to report on instructions about not reporting on a press conference. Sarah Huckabee Sanders said today's press conference would not be a video affair and then said the announcement itself was "NOT REPORTABLE." (Slate)

poll/ A majority of voters think the American Health Care Act would be harmful for low-income Americans, people with pre-existing health conditions, and Medicaid recipients. 41% oppose the House plan, while 30% support it. 13% think the plan will improve the quality of their healthcare. 9% think it would make their health care cheaper. (Reuters)

poll/ 16% of adults believe that House health care bill is a good idea compared to 48% who say it’s a bad idea. (NBC News)

Day 153: Vulnerable.

1/ CIA Director Mike Pompeo continued to brief Michael Flynn on national intelligence despite concerns Flynn was vulnerable to Russian blackmail. The FBI, the CIA, the Justice Department, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence all concluded that Flynn had become susceptible to blackmail. Pompeo never raised these concerns with Trump. “Either Director Pompeo had no idea what people in the CIA reportedly knew about Michael Flynn, or he knew about the Justice Department’s concerns and continued to discuss America’s secrets with a man vulnerable to blackmail,” Senator Ron Wyden said in a statement. “I believe Director Pompeo owes the public an explanation.” (New York Times)

2/ Trump is expected to reveal whether tapes of conversations with Comey exist this week. After firing Comey in May, Trump tweeted that Comey “better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press.” Trump and aides have since refused to clarify the ambiguous warning. The House intelligence committee wants the White House to provide an answer about the tapes by Friday. Under a post-Watergate law, destroying recordings would be a crime. (Associated Press)

3/ Jeff Sessions hired a personal lawyer amid the expanding Russia investigation. The Attorney General's longtime friend Charles Cooper has been providing counsel to Sessions, both for his Senate Intelligence Committee hearing last week, as well as during his January confirmation hearing. Sessions recused himself from the FBI’s investigation into Russia meddling and whether any Trump associates colluded in that effort. Special counsel Robert Mueller could seek information from Sessions about the circumstances surrounding the firing of James Comey. (Bloomberg / USA Today / National Law Journal)

4/ The Congressional Black Caucus will reject an invitation to meet with Trump. Members say the caucus-wide meeting would amount to little more than a photo op that Trump could use to bolster his standing among African-Americans. “No one wants to be a co-star on the reality show,” said one aide. (Politico)

5/ Queen Elizabeth didn't mention Trump's planned visit to the UK during her speech at the opening of Parliament. Trump's visit was already in doubt after he insisted on a gold‑plated welcome in the Queen’s royal carriage and started a feud with London's mayor on Twitter after the terrorist attack. The London mayor previously said Trump should be denied a state visit because of his “cruel” policies on immigration. The Queen's speech is used to set the government's legislative agenda for the next two years and announce planned state visits. (BBC / CNN / The Telegraph)

6/ Trump will hold a "Make America Great Again" rally to get a boost from outside of Washington. 8,600 political supporters will join Trump in Cedar Rapids, Iowa where he's expected to repeat his campaign rhetoric at a time when he has the lowest job approval rating of any president in modern history at this point in his tenure. (Washington Post / AOL News)

  • Trump has only held one solo press conference since becoming president, lagging behind his predecessors. Obama had held six solo press conferences by this point in his presidency, George W. Bush had held three, and Clinton seven. Trump's last press conference was four months ago, where he delivered a series of raw and personal attacks on the media in a news conference for the ages. (NBC News)

7/ Michael Bloomberg tells Trump to "stop tweeting and focus on running the government." The former mayor of New York City added that Trump's refusal to acknowledge that climate change is real is an embarrassment. "No reputable person or scientist doubts that we are creating an environmental and a climate change problem," he said. (CNN)

8/ The EPA plans to buy out more than 1,200 employees this summer as part of a push by the administration to shrink the agency Trump once promised to eliminate “in almost every form.” It would be about an 8% reduction of the current 15,000-person EPA workforce. The administration has also proposed a 31% cut to the EPA budget. (Washington Post)

9/ Trump’s budget seeks to cut funding for programs that shelter the poor and combat homelessness, except for a federal housing subsidy that earns him millions of dollars a year. (Washington Post)

10/ The Pentagon spent $28 million on uniforms for Afghan soldiers, which were appropriate for just 2.1% of Afghanistan. In 2007, the Afghan Defense Ministry decided the army needed a “new and distinctive uniform” to set is apart. He chose woodland camouflage. (USA Today)

11/ Russian-linked hackers targeted election-related computer systems in 21 states. Systems involved in vote counting were not affected. The hackers appeared to be scanning for vulnerabilities. In May, it was reported that Russian hackers had hit election systems in 39 states, accessing software used by poll workers on Election Day. The Russian military intelligence executed a cyberattack on at least one US voting software supplier last year, sending spear-phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials days before the election. (Washington Post / CNN)

12/ Republican Karen Handel beat Democrat Jon Ossoff in Georgia's special election for a House seat. Trump tweeted his excitement: “Well, the Special Elections are over and those that want to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN are 5 and O! All the Fake News, all the money spent = 0." The Georgia race was the most expensive House race in history, with candidates spending roughly $55 million combined. (CNN / New York Times / Politico)

poll/ 35% of voters approve of the Republican health care bill passed by the House last month. 49% disapprove of the bill. (Politico)

Day 152: Spicey.

1/ Sean Spicer is searching for his own replacement as he's expected to transition to a behind-the-scenes role overseeing communications strategy – senior to both the communications director and press secretary. Spicer’s deputy, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, has frequently replaced him in the daily press briefings as he's slowly retreated from public view over the past month. He's often caught between striving for the respect of the press corps and Trump's erratic tweets. (Politico / Bloomberg / Washington Post)

2/ Steve Bannon explains the change in Spicer's role: “Sean got fatter." The White House has pared back the daily press briefings, downgrading them from “briefings” to “gaggles,” and from on-camera to off-camera. They are now shorter and less frequent. (The Atlantic)

3/ Spicer hasn't talked to Trump about whether Russia interfered in the election. The US intelligence community concluded that Russia orchestrated a hacking and influence campaign to swing the election in Trump's favor. “I have not sat down and asked him about the specific reaction,” Spicer said. “I'd be glad to touch base with him and get back to you.” Trump's repeatedly raised doubts about their conclusions. (Politico / The Hill)

4/ The Senate will vote on their health care bill next week, despite not having enough support to pass it. The Senate will release the bill's text Thursday, with the CBO expected to score its impact on the federal budget and insurance coverage by early next week. The Senate could hold a vote next Thursday, before lawmakers leave for the July 4th recess. Failure to vote by then would open Republican lawmakers up to pressure from constituents at town-hall meetings. (Wall Street Journal / BuzzFeed News)

  • Democrats held the Senate floor last night to spotlight Republicans behind-the-scenes efforts to repeal Obamacare. Democrats criticized the closed-door meetings using series of floor motions, inquiries, and lengthy speeches to highlight what Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer called "the most glaring departure from normal legislative procedure that I have ever seen." (Reuters / ABC News)
  • Here's what we know about the Senate health-care bill. The blurry outlines of an Obamacare overhaul are coming into focus as Senate Republican leaders prod their members toward a health-care vote next week. (Washington Post)

5/ Trump's pick for FBI Director removed a past case involving the Russian government from his law firm bio at King and Spalding. Christopher Wray made the edit on January 12, when he was not considered for the FBI Director job, "or any position in government." Wray's law firm has worked closely with the Russian the energy sector, representing companies in deals with the Russian state-owned oil company Rosneft and Gazprom. (CNN)

6/ Wray billed New Jersey taxpayers more than $2.1 million while representing Chris Christie during the Bridgegate trial for legal charges and expenses. The public wasn't aware that Wray was working for Christie for almost two years. Christie hasn't said whether he recommended Wray for the FBI job. (WYNC)

7/ Michael Flynn failed to report a business trip to Saudi Arabia where he represented US and Russian state-sponsored companies, and Saudi financing interests to build 16 nuclear power plants a congressional letter issued Monday shows. The letter questions why Flynn failed to mention one trip and underreported a second for the renewal of his federal security clearance. It also questions why Flynn failed to mention “any of these contacts with Saudi or other foreign officials on his security clearance application or during his interview with security clearance investigators." (McClatchy – DC)

8/ The FBI is investigating Flynn’s former business partner and looking at whether payments from foreign clients were lawful. The now-defunct Flynn Intel Group received payments by three Russian companies and the Netherlands-based company Inovo. (Reuters)

9/ Robert Mueller adds a witness-flipping expert to his team. Andrew Weissmann is best known for gaining witness cooperation in the Enron investigation. He previously headed the Justice Department's criminal fraud unit. (Reuters)

10/ Rex Tillerson has a three-point plan for future US-Russia relations in an effort to seek constructive working relationship with Putin on a limited set of issues. Step 1: Tell Moscow that aggressive actions against the US are a losing proposition. Step 2: Engage on issues that are of strategic interest to the US. Step 3: Emphasize the importance of "strategic stability" regarding geopolitical goals. (BuzzFeed News)

11/ The House health care plan is unpopular in three states where a Republican Senator will have a swing vote. 31% of Nevada voters, 35% of West Virginia voters, and 29% of Alaska voters approve of the AHCA. (Axios)

poll/ 81% of Americans don't want Trump to interfere with the Mueller probe. Trump's approval rating stands at 36%, his lowest in the CBS News Polls since becoming president. 57% percent now disapprove. (CBS News)

poll/ 18% of Americans support Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord. 44% of Americans are "very concerned" and 26% are "moderately concerned" that withdrawing from the agreement will hurt the country’s standing in the world. 64% of Americans disapprove of how Trump is handling the issue of climate change, with 34% approving. (Associated Press)

poll/ 73% of Americans feel the current tone of politics is encouraging violence. 68% say the tone and level of civility in politics is getting worse. (CBS News)

Day 151: Collective self-defense.

1/ The US military shot down a Syrian fighter jet after it dropped bombs near local forces supported by Americans in the fight against the Islamic State. A US military statement said it acted in “collective self-defense” of its partner forces. This was the first Syrian plane shot down by the US. (Associated Press / New York Times)

  • Russia threatened to target US-led coalition warplanes over Syria in response. "Any aircraft, including planes and drones belonging to the international coalition operating west of the Euphrates river, will be tracked by Russian anti-aircraft forces in the sky and on the ground and treated as targets," the Russian defense ministry said. (New York Times / BBC / Reuters / Associated Press)

2/ Trump's lawyer insists the president "is not under investigation." Appearing on several Sunday morning news shows, Trump's personal attorney Jay Sekulow stressed that "the president has not been and is not under investigation." He added that Trump has not been notified of any investigation. On Friday, Trump took to Twitter, saying: “I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt.” (New York Times / Associated Press)

3/ Trump tweets that his "MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN agenda is doing very well despite the distraction of the Witch Hunt" – aka Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. Mueller is considering whether there is evidence to launch a full scale obstruction of justice investigation. (CNN)

4/ The White House is pushing the House Republicans for a friendlier sanctions deal against Russia. Senate Democrats fear the Trump administration will defang the bill designed to punish Russia for election meddling. The legislation would tie the White House's hands on US-Russia relations, the administration says. (Politico)

5/ Jared Kushner is reconsidering his legal team. He's contacted high-powered criminal lawyers about potentially representing him in the wide-ranging investigation into Russia’s influence on the 2016 election. (New York Times)

6/ McConnell wants to force a health care vote by July 4th and is considering making even deeper cuts to Medicaid spending than the bill passed by the House. The Senate won't vote without a CBO score, which means they need to finish negotiations this week. The CBO, however, found that the House bill would cause 14 million fewer people to be enrolled in Medicaid over 10 years. (Axios / The Hill)

7/ Democrats are turning to procedural moves to slow Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare by objecting to all unanimous consent requests in the Senate. It likely won’t change the timing of the health care vote, but it will force Republicans to answer for what Democrats say is a rushed process and bad policy. (Politico)

  • House republicans to are sending McConnell a letter demanding certain provisions remain in the Senate health bill. Republican Study Committee outlines four components of the House-passed health care bill that are “particularly crucial” to maintaining support from GOP lawmakers in the House. (Independent Journal Review)
  • Six people have resigned from Trump's HIV/AIDS advisory council because he "doesn't care." Trump has not appointed anyone to head the White House Office of National AIDS Policy. The agency's website has not been updated five months after taking office. "We have dedicated our lives to combating this disease and no longer feel we can do so effectively within the confines of an advisory body to a president who simply does not care." (BuzzFeed News)

8/ The Supreme Court will hear a landmark case on partisan gerrymandering. The case could have "enormous ramifications" on how to draw district lines nationwide. Obama has said that one of his post-presidency projects will be to combat partisan gerrymanders after the 2020 Census. (CNN / Washington Post)

9/ The personal information and voter profile data on 198 million American voters was stored on an unsecured server owned by Republican data analytics firm Deep Root Analytics. The folder includes dozens of spreadsheets containing a unique identifier for each voter for the 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, which link to "dozens of sensitive and personally identifying data points, making it possible to piece together a striking amount of detail on individual Americans specified by name." (ZDNet / Wall Street Journal)

10/ Trump’s business ties in the Gulf raise questions about his allegiances after spending years trying to enter the Qatar market. As Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar feud, Trump has thrown his weight behind the two countries where he's done business, raising new concerns about a conflict between his public role and his financial incentives. Qatar hosts America's largest air base in the region. (New York Times)

11/ Energy Secretary Rick Perry said he doesn't believe CO2 emissions from human activity are the primary driver of climate change, a view that is at odds with the conclusions of the Environmental Protection Agency, NASA, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (CNBC)


  • News You May Have Missed

  • At the height of Russia tensions last summer, Trump's campaign chairman met with a former Russian army business associate. Konstantin Kilimnik had helped run the Ukraine office for Paul Manafort international political consulting practice for 10 years. (Washington Post)
  • Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke withdrew his name from consideration for an assistant secretary of Homeland Security post. Clarke's appointment had been subject to significant delays, contributing to his withdrawal. He was also accused of plagiarism, as well as drawing scrutiny for the conditions in his jails that left one mentally ill inmate dead. (Washington Post)
  • A 17-year-old Muslim girl was killed after leaving her Virginia mosque on Sunday. Police found human remains in a pond about three miles from where the initial altercation took place. A baseball bat was also recovered. Police charged Martinez Torres with the murder of the 17-year-old, which is not currently being investigated as a hate crime. (Washington Post / NBC News)
  • Trump demands face time with his favorite Cabinet appointees, turning the White House into a hangout for his chosen department heads. Trump doesn’t trust bureaucrats who do the day-to-day work of the federal government, referring to them as the “deep state,” and blaming them for the frequent leaks to the press. But for Trump’s Cabinet members, being present means they have a say in policymaking. (Politico)
  • The body-slamming congressman now calls for civil politics, four days after being convicted for assaulting a reporter who asked him a question about health care. In May, Greg Gianforte had grabbed a reporter by the neck with both hands, slammed him into the ground, and then began punching the reporter. Gianforte had to pay a fine, perform community service, and take anger management training, but no jail time. (Associated Press)

Day 148: Ruh roh.

1/ Trump tweets that he's under investigation for his role in firing James Comey and accused Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein of overseeing the "witch hunt" against him. Rosenstein wrote the memo recommending Comey's firing, but also approved the appointment of Robert Mueller, the special counsel now leading the Russia investigation. (New York Times / CNN / Washington Post)

  • The greatest threat to Trump and his presidency comes from his own conduct. And his obsessive behavior. (Politico)

2/ Rod Rosenstein urged Americans to "exercise caution" when evaluating stories attributed to anonymous officials. It's unclear why Rosenstein would issue the statement, but it follows several stories quoting unnamed sources on the direction of the Russia probe. (Washington Post)

3/ Rosenstein privately acknowledged that he may have to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. Rosenstein told Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand, the Justice Department's new third-in-command, that if he were to recuse himself, she would have to step in and take over the probe. She was sworn-in little more than a month ago. (ABC News)

  • Former Bush official Rachel Brand takes over as the Justice Department’s third-highest-ranking official. Brand was confirmed in May. (Washington Post)

4/ Jared Kushner's finances and business dealings are now part of the Mueller investigation. Kushner joins the list of Trump associates Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, and Carter Page who are now under investigation by FBI agents and federal prosecutors. Kushner has agreed to discuss his Russian contacts with the Senate Intelligence Committee. (Washington Post)

5/ The Trump transition team ordered members to preserve Russia-related documents, including records related to Ukraine and certain campaign advisers and officials. The memo says members “have a duty to preserve any physical and electronic records that may be related in any way to the subject matter of the pending investigations.” (New York Times / Politico)

6/ The House Intelligence Committee wants to talk to Trump's digital director about Russia and possible connections between the Trump team and Russian operatives. Brad Parscale played a critical role on the Trump campaign, directing online spending and voter targeting with the use of a data bank built by the Republican National Committee. (CNN)

7/ The FBI won't release Comey's memos because they're part of a "pending or prospective law enforcement proceeding," a Freedom of Information Act request revealed. At least one of the memos is unclassified, but wouldn't because it could "reasonably interfere with enforcement proceedings." (BuzzFeed News)

8/ The White House is referring questions about a potential Oval Office recording device to outside counsel. A national security attorney suggested that the the White House is attempting to defer and deflect the issue for as long as possible. (The Daily Beast)

9/ Trump’s personal lawyer hires his own lawyer to navigate the Russia probe. Michael Cohen's decision is the latest sign that the Russia probe is intensifying and could end up focusing on many Trump associates, both inside and outside the White House. (Washington Post)

10/ An American lobbyist representing Russian interests contradicted Jeff Sessions' sworn testimony about not having contacts with lobbyists working for Russian interests over the course of Trump’s campaign. Richard Burt attended "two dinners with groups of former Republican foreign policy officials and Senator Sessions." (The Guardian)

11/ Trump picked his family's event planner to run federal housing programs in New York. Lynne Patton will oversee the distribution of billions of taxpayer dollars despite having no housing experience and claiming to have a law degree the school says she never earned. (NY Daily News)

12/ Senate Republican leaders want to bring their health care bill to the Senate floor by the end of June as disagreements threaten to derail their efforts. Mitch McConnell and a small group of GOP aides are crafting the bill behind closed doors. Earlier this week, Trump called the House version "mean." The comment has angered House Republicans and its likely damaged his ability to negotiate with them on infrastructure and tax reform. (Washington Post / Axios)

13/ Trump rolled back Obama's Cuba policy, tightening travel restrictions and blocking business with the island. Trump called it a "completely one-sided deal." At one point, Trump considered severing diplomatic relations with Cuba. (NBC News / The Hill)

14/ The Pentagon will send about 4,000 more American troops to Afghanistan, the largest deployment of Trump's presidency. Trump gave Defense Secretary Jim Mattis the authority to manage troop levels to help Afghanistan's army against a resurgent Taliban. (Washington Post)

poll/ 65% think Trump has little to no respect for country's institutions. Only 34% of Americans think Trump has a great deal or a fair amount of respect for them. (The Hill)

Day 147: Phony.

1/ Trump tweets: The reports of my "phony collusion with the Russians" have been greatly exaggerated. Trump's twitter tirade this morning essentially confirms yesterday's news that special counsel Robert Mueller is now investigating Trump for possible obstruction of justice. Nevertheless, Trump persisted: "You are witnessing the single greatest WITCH HUNT in American political history". (CBS News / New York Times / Washington Post / New York Daily News)

  • The three prongs of Mueller's Russia investigation explained. Mueller is investigating Russian meddling in the election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign, attempts to obstruct justice, and any possible financial crimes. (Washington Post)
  • Mueller is examining whether Trump obstructed justice. The special counsel investigation has expanded to look into president's firing of former FBI Director James Comey. (Wall Street Journal)
  • The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee wants obstruction to be part of House Russia probe. Adam Schiff is negotiating with his Republican counterpart about whether to investigate Trump for obstruction of justice as part of the panel’s Russia investigation. (Politico)
  • The Senate intelligence committee won't investigate whether Trump obstructed justice, leaving the criminal inquiry to special counsel Robert Mueller. (CNN)
  • Putin – jokingly – offered Comey asylum during a marathon phone-in session with the Russian people. (The Guardian)

2/ Aides blame Trump for the obstruction of justice probe: "The president did this to himself" and "shot himself in the foot again with this cockamamie scheme to get Mueller to play ball" by spreading rumors that Trump might fire the special counsel. Senators, White House aides, former prosecutors, and FBI veterans are urging Trump not to do it, as firing Mueller now would require him to personally direct the Department of Justice to do so, which "could be shown that his purpose was to impede the investigation" and "could be additional evidence of obstruction of justice." (The Daily Beast)

3/ Pence hired outside counsel to help with House and Senate committee inquiries, and the special counsel investigation into possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia. (Washington Post)

4/ Trump revised his travel ban to address arguments that it would expire today. Under the ban's original wording, it would last "for 90 days from the effective date of this order." A separate provision set the effective date as March 16, meaning the ban would have expired June 14. The administration is arguing that the court orders blocking the ban had implicitly delayed the effective date. (Bloomberg)

5/ A GOP congressman wants members of Congress to "curtail" their town halls after the Scalise shooting "until we agree that we need to be more civil." In addition to yesterday's shooting, Lou Barletta cited "those town halls where the police had to carry people out" as a safety concern and reason to cut back on hosting town hall forums. (CNN)

6/ Dennis Rodman gave Kim Jong Un a copy of Trump's book "The Art of the Deal." Rodman may be the only person in the world who has personal relationships with both Trump and the North Korean supreme leader. (Washington Post / CNN)

7/ The Australian Prime Minister mocked Trump in a speech. Malcolm Turnbull's told a room of journalists, advisers, and politicians that "the Donald and I, we are winning and winning in the polls. We are winning so much! We are winning like we have never won before. We are winning in the polls. We are! Not the fake polls. Not the fake polls. They're the ones we're not winning in. We're winning in the real polls." (CNN / Wall Street Journal)

8/ Despite being investigated by the FBI, Paul Manafort is still offering prospective business partners access to Trump. Manafort consulted on a proposal for a Chinese construction billionaire. A lawyer involved in discussions said, “He’s going around telling people that he’s still talking to the president and — even more than that — that he is helping to shape Trump’s foreign policy." Trump’s former campaign chairman is at the center of the FBI investigation into ties between Trump’s team and the Russians. (Politico)

9/ The Energy Department closed its office working on climate change abroad. The office was formed in 2010 to help the United States provide technical advice to other nations seeking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. (New York Times)

10/ Trump ordered the government to stop working on the Y2K bug, 17 years after year 2000 came and went. Federal workers still report on preparedness for the Y2K bug, consuming some 1,200 man-hours every year. [Editor's note: I misunderstood this statistic. It was attributed to other, pointless paperwork. The Y2K requirements are often ignored in practice.] (Bloomberg)

poll/ 41% of Republicans say they are satisfied with the way things are going in the US, down 17% since May. (Gallup)

poll/ 50% of the CEOs, business leaders, government officials and academics gave Trump an "F" for his first 130 days in office. 21% gave Trump's performance a "D" and just 1% gave him an "A." (CNN Money)

Day 146: Foreign emoluments.

1/ Robert Mueller is now investigating Trump for possible obstruction of justice, marking a major turning point in the nearly year-old FBI investigation. The obstruction of justice investigation into the president began days after Comey was fired on May 9 with the team actively pursuing potential witnesses inside and outside the government. The White House is referring all questions about the Russia investigation to Trump’s personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz. (Washington Post)

2/ Almost 200 congressional Democrats will sue Trump over foreign business ties. They contend that Trump has ignored the emoluments clause of the Constitution, which prohibits federal officials from accepting gifts from foreign powers without congressional approval. The case is one of at least four pending lawsuits alleging that by retaining interests in a global business empire, Trump has violated the foreign emoluments clause. (Politico / New York Times / Washington Post)

3/ China preliminary approved six new trademarks for the Trump brand as it relates to veterinary services and construction sectors. The new marks brings his total to at least 123 registered and provisionally approved trademarks in China. (New York Times)

4/ The majority of Trump's real estate sales are to secretive shell companies, which obscure the buyers’ identities. Since winning the Republican nomination, about 70% of buyers of Trump properties were LLCs, compared with about 4% of buyers in the two years before. Since the election, Trump’s businesses have sold 28 properties for $33 million. (USA Today)

5/ Trump gave the Pentagon authority to unilaterally send new troops to Afghanistan. The Pentagon is weighing plans to send 3,000 to 5,000 troops after years of reductions in hopes that Kabul could handle threats on its own. There is fewer than 9,000 troops currently in Afghanistan. (Wall Street Journal)

6/ Trump blocked a veterans group on Twitter that was critical of him. While on the campaign trail, Trump praised veterans as "amazing," "distinguished" and "tremendous." Today, he blocked them on Twitter for criticizing his tweet about the "Fake News Media." (Talking Points Memo / Newsweek / The Hill)

7/ A Trump business partner is in the running for a $1.7 billion contract to build the new FBI headquarters. Vornado Realty Trust is a partial owner with the Trump Organization in two buildings and a major investor in a Kushner Cos. skyscraper. (Associated Press)

8/ Tomorrow's congressional hearing to debate gun legislation has been canceled until further notice in the wake of today's shooting at a Republican congressional baseball practice. The panel was suppose to debate the "Sportsmen's Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act," which would make it easier to purchase silencers, transport guns across state lines, and ease restrictions on armor-piercing bullets. The bill's sponsor was at the baseball practice. (CNN)

9/ Not a single state supports the House health care bill. Even in the most supportive states, like Oklahoma, Florida, and Texas, only 38%, 35%, and 34% of voters, respectively, support the law, compared to 45%, 48%, and 49% who oppose it. (New York Times)

10/ The Senate approved new bipartisan sanctions against Russia, which establishes a congressional review of any changes the Trump administration wants to make to the current penalties. Senators voted 97-2, but its future in the GOP-controlled House is unclear, as is whether Trump would even sign the bill. (Politico)

11/ Robert Mueller met with the Senate intelligence committee to plot a path forward on their investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. The two sides discussed to share information and not step on each others' toes. (CNN)

poll/ Trump's job disapproval rating hits 60%. When does the winning start? (Gallup)

Day 145: Haxored.

1/ Russian hackers hit election systems in 39 states, accessing software designed to be used by poll workers on Election Day. The scope and sophistication was so concerning that the Obama administration complained directly to Moscow, detailing Russia’s role in the election meddling and warned that the attacks risked setting off a broader conflict. (Bloomberg)

2/ Senate leaders agree on bipartisan sanctions to punish Russia for election meddling, placing the White House in an uncomfortable position. The agreement would impose sanctions on “corrupt Russian actors" and people conducting “malicious cyberactivity on behalf of the Russian government," and “provide for a mandated congressional review” if the White House sought to waive or ease existing sanctions unilaterally. “I’d be very, very surprised if the president vetoes this bill,” the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee said. (New York Times / Politico)

3/ The House Intelligence Committee is adding funding and staff to its Russia probe. A lack of resources has been an issue for the House investigation, due in part to Devin Nunes,the panel’s chairman, being forced to recuse himself over allegations that he was openly colluding with the White House. (The Daily Beast)

4/ Trump is considering firing Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating possible ties between his campaign and Russian officials. Trump was "considering, perhaps, terminating the special counsel," Trump's friend Christopher Ruddy said. To do so, Trump would have to order Rod Rosenstein to rescind department regulations protecting a special counsel from being fired and then to fire Mueller. If Rosenstein refused, Trump could fire him, too. Trump is being counseled to steer clear of such a dramatic move like firing the special counsel. (New York Times / CNN)

  • Republicans tell Trump not to mess with Mueller. Mueller’s investigation is considered the most threatening to Trump’s presidency and is largely out of his control. (Politico)

5/ Rod Rosenstein: Only I have the power to fire the special counsel on Russia. During testimony before the appropriations committee, Rosenstein said he would only comply with "lawful and appropriate" requests. Rosenstein added that there's no cause to fire Mueller and that he's "confident" the special counsel has full independence. (Washington Post / USA Today / Wall Street Journal)

6/ Jeff Sessions declined to answer questions about his conversations with Trump, including whether he spoke to Trump about Comey’s handling of the Russia investigation. Sessions cited Trump's executive privilege to not answer questions about his confidential talks with the president despite Trump not having invoked executive privilege. Sessions called any suggestion that he colluded with Russians during the campaign an "an appalling and detestable lie." (Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News)

  • Key moments from Jeff Sessions’ Russia testimony. (Politico)

7/ Senate Republicans are trying to rein in expectations for their Obamacare repeal effort, worried they'll blow their July 4th deadline or fall short of 50 votes. Senators continue to raise doubts about coming to an agreement, even though McConnell has said that "failure is not an option." (Politico)

  • Senate Democrats plan offensive to try to save Obamacare and potentially even delay a June vote to force the GOP to endure a July recess when Democratic allies will mobilize in their states. (Politico)

8/ Trump called the House health care bill "mean" and that the Senate version should be "more generous." Trump told the lawmakers that the House bill didn't go far enough in protecting individuals in the marketplace – and appeared to use that as his rationale for why he has ambiguously called twice for the Senate to "add more money" to the bill. (CNN / Associated Press)

9/ Trump’s personal lawyer told colleagues that he got Preet Bharara fired. Bharara was asked to stay in his job as the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York when the two met in November at Trump Tower. But, in March Trump reversed himself and fired Bharara, who was investigating Trump’s secretary of health and human services at the time. (ProPublica)

10/ Senate Republicans barred reporters from filming senators in the Capitol hallways without special permission and breaking with years of precedent allowing videotaping and audio recording in the public areas of the House and Senate office buildings. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted, "Press access should never be restricted unfairly, particularly not when one party is trying to sneak a major bill through Congress." (CNN Money / The Hill)

UPDATE:

Senate Republicans back off their proposed restrictions on the media. (The Hill)

11/ Shocker: Trump criticized the latest court ruling against his travel ban. The three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Trump's revised travel ban, using his own tweets against him in making their decision. (CNN)

12/ Jeff Sessions asked congressional leaders to undo federal medical marijuana protections so he could prosecute providers. Research strongly suggests that cracking down on medical marijuana laws could make the opiate epidemic even worse. (Washington Post)

Day 144: Travel ban banned.

1/ The 9th Circuit court ruled against Trump's revised travel ban. It's the second federal appeals court to uphold the block on the travel ban, declaring that Trump exceeded his authority in suspending the issuance of visas to residents of six Muslim majority countries. “A reasonable, objective observer — enlightened by the specific historical context, contemporaneous public statements and specific sequence of events leading to its issuance — would conclude that the executive order was issued with a purpose to disfavor a particular religion,” Judge Watson wrote. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / NPR)

2/ Jeff Sessions will testify in an open hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday about his role in the Russia investigation. Last week, James Comey testified that Sessions may have had a third, undisclosed meeting with Russia's ambassador to the US. Before Sessions recused himself from the investigation, Comey believed certain details made Sessions involvement in the investigation "problematic." The Committee hasn't allotted time for Sessions to privately discuss classified matters after his public forum. The hearing is scheduled for Tuesday at 2:30PM ET. (Washington Post / Politico / CNN)

3/ The Senate Intelligence Committee plans to interview Jared Kushner in late June or early July and is expected to be a closed session. A date has not been set, but Kushner is expected to provide documents and then return for questions from senators. (ABC News)

4/ D.C. and Maryland are suing Trump, alleging he violated anti-corruption clauses by accepting millions in payments and benefited from foreign governments since moving into the White House. The lawsuit says Trump’s continued ownership of a global business has makes him “deeply enmeshed with a legion of foreign and domestic government actors," which has undermined the integrity of the US political system. (Washington Post / Politico)

5/ In a separate case, the Justice Department argued that Trump can accept payments from foreign governments while he is in office. Advocates from the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington brought the suit against Trump in January, asserting that because Trump-owned buildings take in rent, room rentals and other payments from foreign governments he breached the emoluments clause. (Washington Post / Politico / The Hill)

6/ Senate Republicans won't release a draft of their health care bill. It's unclear what changes Republicans have made, because there have been no hearings and no possibility for amendment. They want to vote on the bill before the July 4th recess. (Axios / The Week)

7/ Trump’s attorneys won't rule out firing Robert Mueller, the special counsel appointed to look into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. "I'm not going to speculate on what he will, or will not, do," Trump attorney Jay Sekulow said. “That, again, is an issue that the president with his advisers would discuss if there was a basis.” (Politico)

8/ The secret service says it has no audio or transcripts of any tapes recorded in the White House. The FOIA request doesn’t exclude the possibility that recordings could have been created by another "entity." (Wall Street Journal)

9/ Reince Priebus has until July 4th to clean up the White House. Trump has threatened to fire his chief of staff if major changes are not made. While Trump has set deadlines for staff changes before, he's under more scrutiny than ever with the sprawling Russia investigation. (Politico)

10/ Trump's visit to the U.K. might be put on hold to avoid large-scale protests. Trump's come under criticism for starting a feud with London's mayor on Twitter following the terrorist attack in London. Prime Minister Theresa May said there had been no change of plans for Trump's state visit. More than half of the British public views Trump as a threat to global stability. (New York Times / Reuters)

11/ Preet Bharara said Trump tried to build a relationship with him before he was fired. The former US attorney in Manhattan said his contacts with Trump’s were strikingly similar to those between the president and Comey, which made him increasingly uncomfortable as they broke with longstanding Justice Department rules on communicating with the White House. (New York Times)

12/ The first full Cabinet meeting turned into a Trump tribute session. Pence, Sessions, Perry and Priebus took turns praising Trump's first five months. Trump opened the meeting with a statement touting that he had led a “record-setting” pace of activity and that few presidents have passed more legislation than he has, despite Congress having passed no major legislation since he took office 144 days ago. (CNN / CNBC / New York Times)

poll/ 49% of voters think Trump committed obstruction of justice. 37% of voters say they think Trump is honest, to 56% who say he's not. 53% of voters consider Trump to be a liar. (Public Policy Polling)

Day 141: Complete vindication.

1/ Trump breaks his Twitter silence, declaring "total and complete vindication" in response to Comey's testimony. The tweet ends his second-longest Twitter drought – at about 2,753 minutes – since he declared his candidacy. Comey detailed months of distrust during testimony and asserted that Trump had fired him to interfere with the probe of Russia's ties to the campaign. (ABC News / Washington Post)

  • Behind Trump’s temporary Twitter silence: Let others do the punching. First it was Donald Trump Jr. who played his father’s role on Twitter, then Trump's personal lawyer delivered the formal response. (Washington Post)
  • "I was right": Trump insisted to his legal team while he watched the Comey testimony. (New York Times)
  • Comey’s indictment of Trump. The fired FBI director’s demeanor did little to mask his barbed accusations. (Politico)

2/ Trump's lawyer plans to file a complaint against Comey for leaking his memos. Marc Kasowitz will file complaints with the Justice Department Inspector General and the Senate judiciary committee accusing Comey of violating executive privilege, which was called "frivolous grandstanding" by an expert in whistleblower protection. (CNN / Washington Post)

  • Trump’s personal lawyer released a letter filled with typos in response to Comey’s Senate testimony. (Vox)
  • Trump's lawyer claims Comey violated executive privilege. 10 legal experts say he didn't. (Vox)

3/ Jeff Sessions may have met with the Russian ambassador a third time, Comey told senators in a closed hearing. The information is based in part on Russian-to-Russian intercepts talking about the meeting. (CNN)

4/ Paul Ryan insisted that Republicans wouldn’t call for impeachment of a Democratic president accused of the same actions as Trump. Ryan also suggested that Trump’s behavior might be the result of not having experience in government before becoming president. (The Hill)

5/ Trump will spend the weekend at his golf club in Bedminster, NJ. He's claimed in the past that working from "home" will save taxpayers money by not being at Trump Tower in New York City. (NJ.com)

6/ Mitch McConnell took a procedural step to fast-track efforts to repeal Obamacare, which side-steps typical committee processes. By invoking Rule 14, McConnell can now put the bill on the Senate calendar so that a vote can be held as soon as the bill is ready. The move means the Senate GOP can bypass committee hearings and debates of the Republican health care bill in an effort to get a vote by July 4. (Washington Post / Talking Points Memo / Think Progress)

Day 140: No fuzz.

1/ Comey blasted the White House for "lies, plain and simple." The fired FBI director accused Trump and his aides during testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee today of defaming him after he was fired. Comey believed that Trump had clearly tried to derail the FBI investigation into Michael Flynn. (Politico / New York Times)

  • Comey goes nuclear in showdown with Trump. He accused Trump and his top aides of lying, suggesting that the president wanted special treatment in exchange for loyalty, and he said he thinks he lost his job because of how he handled the Russia investigation. (ABC News)
  • Comey's testimony takes aim at Trump’s credibility. (Associated Press)
  • Comey's testimony shifts focus to Trump and his conduct in the office. (Washington Post)
  • Comey said that he found the shifting explanations for why he was fired both confusing and concerning. (Reuters)
  • Annotated copy of Comey's opening statement. Here are Comey's full prepared remarks, annotated by NPR journalists. (NPR)
  • Comey's testimony transcript. The full text. (Politico)
  • Republican National Committee will lead Trump's response to Comey's testimony. A team of about 60 RNC staffers will mount a political offensive aimed at Democrats in response to Comey's testimony. The RNC has lined up a host of surrogates to appear on national and local television and radio to support Trump. The rapid response team will leverage their database of opposition research to use Democrats' past statements against them. (Wall Street Journal)

2/ Comey has called Trump a liar 5 times today. The White House says that's not true. Comey punched back at Trump's characterization of him as being unpopular at the FBI and the idea that the bureau was disorganized and chaotic. In addition, Comey disputed claims by Trump that he had asked to keep his job. (CNN)

3/ Comey: The administration is working to "defame" me and the FBI, and telling "lies" to the American people. "Although the law requires no reason at all to fire an FBI director the administration then chose to defame me and more importantly the FBI by saying that the organization was in disarray, that it was poorly led, that the work force had lost confidence in its leader,” Comey said. (ABC News)

4/ Comey: "Lordy, I hope there are tapes." During his testimony, Comey expressed his hope that his conversations with Trump were recorded. (The Hill)

5/ The White House won't say if there's a recording system in the Oval Office. Sarah Huckabee Sanders said she has “no idea” if Trump has a recording system in his office, despite the president suggesting he may have recordings of his conversations with Comey. (HuffPost)

6/ Paul Ryan defended Trump's attempt to influence Comey: He's "new at this." He added that Trump is "new to government. And so he probably wasn’t steeped in the long-running protocols that establish the relationships between DOJ, FBI, and White Houses. (HuffPost)

7/ Comey helped release details of his meetings with Trump. Comey acknowledged that he shared copies of his memos documenting his Trump meetings with a “close friend” — a professor at Columbia Law School — who could share the information with reporters. (Washington Post)

8/ Trump's lawyer said Comey made "unauthorized disclosures" of privileged talks designed to damage the president. Marc Kasowitz said Comey's testimony "makes clear that the president never sought to impede the investigation into attempted Russian interference in the 2016 election." (USA Today)

9/ Paul Ryan: Trump asking for Comey's loyalty is "obviously" inappropriate and it's clear that Russia meddled in the US election. "What we need to determine is not whether they did it – we know that. It's what did they do, how did they do it, how do we prevent it from happening again? And then how do we help our allies so that this doesn't happen to them?" (CNN)

10/ Comey's testimony laid out the case that Trump obstructed justice and suggested senior leaders at the FBI might have contemplated the matter before Trump removed him as director. Whether justice was obstructed, Comey said, was a question for recently appointed special counsel Robert Mueller. (Washington Post)

11/ Former Watergate special prosecutor: I helped prosecute Watergate. Comey’s statement is sufficient evidence for an obstruction of justice case. The ball is in Bob Mueller’s court to decide whether he has enough evidence to charge Trump with obstruction and, if so, whether to reach the same conclusion that I reached in the Nixon investigation — that, like everyone else in our system, a president is accountable for committing a federal crime. (Washington Post)

12/ Trump's FBI pick has Russian ties. Christopher Wray's law firm – King & Spalding – represents Rosneft and Gazprom, two of Russia’s biggest state-controlled oil companies. (USA Today)

13/ The House of Representatives passed a bill that would gut major elements of Dodd-Frank, the regulatory legislation drafted in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. The Financial Choice Act exempts financial institutions deemed "too big to fail" from restrictions that limit risk taking. Republicans say Dodd-Frank regulations are the primary reason for anemic economic growth in the US. While the bill passed the House, it faces long odds of becoming law as it would require the support of Democrats in the Senate in order to reach Trump’s desk. (New York Times / CNN Money / Washington Post / CNBC)

14/ House and Senate Democrats plan to sue Trump over conflicts of interest related to the his corporation’s business deals and foreign governments looking to curry favor with the administration. They claim he is breaking the law by refusing to relinquish ownership of his sprawling real-estate empire while it continues to profit from business with foreign governments. (Politico)

15/ Trump doesn't plan to fire Sessions, despite his frustration with Sessions for the handling of the administration’s failed travel ban and for recusing himself from the Russia probe. (Bloomberg)

  • The White House won't say if Trump has confidence in Jeff Sessions. For two straight days, Sean Spicer and Sarah Sanders declined to say if Trump has confidence in the attorney general. (Axios)

16/ Pulling out of the Paris climate agreement could accelerate damage to Trump's real estate empire. Mar-a-Lago, the apartment towers nears Miami, and his Doral golf course are all threatened by rising seas. (Associated Press)

17/ Hawaii passed a law to document rising sea levels and set strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Hawaii is the first state to enact legislation implementing parts of the Paris climate agreement. (NBC News)

poll/ Trump's approval rating hits 34%, a new Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday finds. 40% of voters do not expect Trump to complete his four-year term. (CNN)


More Comey News

1/ Trump, Comey and Obstruction of Justice: A Primer. As the fired FBI director testifies about his dealings with the president, here’s what you need to know about a murky law. (New York Times)

2/ Comey’s Political Shrewdness Is on Display in Tussle With Trump. Comey, a savvy veteran of Washington, has shown why presidents are normally loath to fire their FBI directors. (New York Times)

3/ Trump vs. Comey: A timeline. Here's a timeline on the rupture between the president and the FBI director. (Washington Post)

4/ How cable news networks are reacting to Comey’s hearing. Coverage of former FBI director James Comey’s testimony looks about the same across cable news channels. A closeup of a Senator forming a question, a wide show of the room — there’s just not much to show on TV. (Washington Post)

  • How partisan media covered Comey’s hearing. These are the headlines from right-leaning and left-leaning news organizations. (Axios)

6/ Comey's Duty to Correct. The former FBI director’s insistence on setting the record straight may have cost Clinton the election and Comey his job—and now it’s costing Trump. (The Atlantic)

7/ Who are the senators asking Comey questions today? There are 15 full-time members of the committee — eight Republicans and seven Democrats — and the panel is considered to be one of the last bastions of bipartisanship on Capitol Hill. (Washington Post)


(No Longer) Live Blogs

Day 139: Back off.

1/ Two intelligence chiefs repeatedly refused to say whether Trump asked them to intervene in the Russia probe during their public Senate intelligence committee testimony. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers declined to discuss the specifics of private conversations they had with Trump and whether they had been asked to push back against an FBI probe into collusion between the campaign and the Russian government. Both hinted that they would share more information with senators privately. (CNN / Washington Post / Politico)

  • Democrats are furious at the evasive answers by Coats and Rogers during their Senate intelligence committee testimony. The two intelligence chiefs repeatedly said it wouldn't be appropriate to discuss their conversations with Trump in a public setting. Both indicated they might be more forthcoming in a classified setting, however. (CNN)
  • Senator tells the NSA chief: "What you feel isn’t relevant, admiral." Angus King became visibly frustrated after Mike Rogers repeatedly refused to answer questions about whether Trump tried to interfere in the FBI’s investigation before snapping. (The Hill)

2/ In March, Trump asked Dan Coats if he could get Comey to back off his investigation into Michael Flynn. The director of national intelligence chose not to step in, citing Trump's prodding as inappropriate. CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who was also present for Trump's request, declined to comment on the closed-door discussion. Trump had asked Comey to drop his investigation before he was fired in May. (Washington Post)

3/ Trump told Comey "I need loyalty, I expect loyalty" at a private White House dinner in January, according to Comey's prepared remarks, which were released ahead of his Senate Intelligence Committee testimony tomorrow. Comey said he thought the encounter was designed to "create some part of patronage relationship." Later, in March, Trump pressured Comey to “lift the cloud” put over the administration from the ongoing investigation and repeatedly asked Comey to announce that he was not personally under investigation. (Bloomberg / Washington Post / Politico / New York Times)

  • Comey's opening statement. (Senate.gov)
  • Comey’s seven-page written statement is the "most shocking single document compiled about the official conduct of the public duties of any President since the release of the Watergate tapes." Comey's statement makes no allegations and expresses no opinions, but instead recounts the set of facts Comey is prepared to testify on tomorrow. (Lawfare)

4/ Comey told Jeff Sessions he did not want to be left alone with Trump after the president pressured him to end his investigation into Michael Flynn. Comey confronted Sessions after the encounter, believing that the Justice Department should protect the FBI from White House influence, which it typically does to avoid the appearance of political meddling in law enforcement. (New York Times)

5/ Comey's role in the Russia probe has Trump "infuriated at a deep-gut, personal level," Newt Gingrich said. "He's not going to let some guy like that smear him without punching him as hard as he can." Trump's lawyers and aides have been urging him to resist engaging on Twitter, but are bracing for a worst-case scenario tomorrow: he ignores their advice and tweets his mind anyway. (Washington Post)

6/ Jeff Sessions offered to resign after a series of heated exchanges with Trump. Sessions wanted the freedom to do his job and is upset by Trump's tweets and comments about the Justice Department. Trump is still frustrated with Sessions' decision to recuse himself from the Russia probe, viewing the decision as a sign of weakness. (CNN / Wall Street Journal / New York Times)

7/ James Clapper: Watergate "pales" in comparison to the Trump-Russia scandal. The former US director of national intelligence added that Trump sharing intelligence with Putin was "very problematic" and said firing James Comey was "egregious and inexcusable." (The Guardian)

8/ Eric Trump says Democrats are "not even people" in an interview tirade with Sean Hannity. "I’ve never seen hatred like this. To me, they’re not even people. It’s so, so sad. Morality’s just gone, morals have flown out the window, and we deserve so much better than this as a country. You see the Democratic Party, they’re imploding. They’re imploding. They became obstructionists because they have no message of their own," he said before added that the head of the Democratic National Committee a "total whack job." (The Hill)

9/ Texas Democrat Al Green is drafting articles of impeachment against Trump, saying the president should be forced from office for firing James Comey in the middle of the bureau’s ongoing Russia investigation. (Politico)

10/ Trump's pick for FBI director blindsided White House staff and Congress, leaving much of his senior staff out of the loop before announcing he'd picked Christopher Wray on Twitter. At least six White House and senior officials said that they weren't aware of Trump's decision before his early morning tweet. Wray acted as Chris Christie’s personal attorney during the Bridgegate scandal. Trump called him a "man of impeccable credentials." (The Daily Beast / New York Times / NBC News / Politico)

11/ US investigators believe Russian hackers planted a fake news report in Qatar's state news agency. The Qatar News Agency attributed false remarks to the nation's ruler that appeared friendly to Iran and Israel and questioned whether Trump would last in office. In reaction, Qatar's neighbors, led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, cut off economic and political ties, causing a broader crisis. (CNN)

12/ Fox News host to Trump: "Fake news media" isn’t the issue. "It’s you." Neil Cavuto hit Trump for his criticism of how the media has covered his Twitter habits, saying "Mr. President, it’s not the fake news media that’s your problem. It’s you. It’s not just your tweeting, it’s your scapegoating. It’s your refusal to see that sometimes you’re the one who’s feeding your own beast and acting beastly with your own guys. Look at the critiques you’re now hearing from usually friendly and supportive allies as sort of like an intervention. Because firing off these angry missives and tweets risks your political discussion." (The Hill)

13/ North Korea condemned Trump’s decision to pull out of Paris accord, calling it "the height of egotism" and a “shortsighted and silly decision.” Despite its international isolation, even North Korea signed the Paris agreement. (Washington Post)

poll/ 61% say Trump fired Comey to protect himself and most think Trump is trying to interfere with official investigations of possible Russian influence in the 2016 election. (ABC News)

Day 138: Show them a body.

1/ Senate Republicans’ are aiming for a vote on their Obamacare repeal by the Fourth of July recess. Republican leaders are faced with two choices: craft a bill that can get 50 votes, or bring up a bill they know will fail in order to end the health care debate and move on to tax reform, demonstrating that Republicans are too divided. They're prepared to take a failed vote on the Obamacare repeal in order to "show them a body" and bring the seven-year quest to a definitive end. (Politico / Vox)

2/ Trump's frustration with Jeff Sessions grows, blaming him for the "watered down, politically correct version" of the travel ban. He's also upset with Sessions' decision to recuse himself from investigations related to the Russia probe. (New York Times)

3/ Eric Trump called the Trump-Russia collusion allegations the "greatest hoax of all time." He added that the investigation into possible coordination between his father’s presidential campaign and the Kremlin’s election meddling was a "witch hunt." (The Daily Beast / ABC News)

4/ Donald Trump shifted money from Eric Trump's kids cancer charity into his business. Eric Trump's charity golf event was supposed to use his family's golf course for free with most of the other costs donated, but the Trump Organization billed the charity for more than $1.2 million for its use. Golf charity experts say the listed expenses defy any reasonable cost justification for a one-day golf tournament. The "maneuver would appear to have more in common with a drug cartel's money-laundering operation than a charity's best-practices textbook." (Forbes)

5/ The contractor that leaked classified NSA documents on Russian hacking was charged by the Justice Department. Reality Leigh Winner, 25, is accused of "removing classified material from a government facility and mailing it to a news outlet." She leaked a top-secret NSA report showing that Russian military intelligence executed a cyberattack on at least one US voting software supplier last year. Winner faces up to 10 years in prison for leaking classified information. (CNN / Washington Post)

  • What we know about the leaked secret NSA report on Russia. (ABC News

6/ The Russian attacks on the election systems were broader and targeted more states than those detailed in yesterday's leaked intelligence report. The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee said, "I don't believe they got into changing actual voting outcomes." (USA Today)

7/ The acting US ambassador to China quit over Trump's climate policy, feeling unable to deliver the formal notification of the US decision to leave the agreement. (Reuters / CNN / NBC News)

8/ Scott Pruitt falsely claimed that "almost 50,000 jobs" have been added in coal. The actual gains were in "mining" jobs, which have nothing to do with coal. 1,000 coal jobs have been added since Trump became president. (Washington Post)

9/ Trump took credit for the $110 billion arms deal to Saudi Arabia that began in the Obama administration. Further, there is no deal: just letters of interest for "intended sales," but no contracts. (Brookings)

10/ He also appeared to take credit for the Gulf nations decision to cut diplomatic relations with Qatar, an important US ally. Qatar hosts one of the Pentagon's largest military bases in the Middle East and is a linchpin in the campaign against ISIS. (CNN / The Daily Beast)

11/ Kids are quoting Trump to bully their classmates. There's been more than 50 incidents, across 26 states, where a white K-12 student used Trump's rhetoric to bully Latino, Middle Eastern, black, Asian, or Jewish classmates. Teachers don't know what to do about it. (BuzzFeed News)

12/ Comey will stop short of accusing Trump of obstructing justice in his congressional testimony, despite some legal experts saying Trump's requests could meet the legal definition of obstruction. Comey will also dispute Trump's assertion that Comey told him three times he is not under investigation. "He is not going to Congress to make accusations about the president’s intent, instead he’s there to share his concerns." (ABC News)

13/ Trump might live-tweet during Comey's testimony on Thursday. He "wants to be the messenger, his own warrior, his own lawyer, his own spokesman" and as such will directly respond to Comey on Twitter as the testimony is underway. "He wants to be the one driving the process." (CNBC / The Hill / Raw Story)

14/ Sean Spicer said Trump's tweets are official statements, but didn't indicate whether that included both of his Twitter handles: @realDonaldTrump and @POTUS. Regardless, the ACLU said they will use Trump's tweets to build their argument in the Supreme Court case on the travel ban. (CNN)

  • The Knight First Amendment Institute asked Trump to unblock his critics on Twitter, saying his account is a “designated public forum” subject to the First Amendment and bars the government from excluding individuals from a public forum because of their views. (Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University )

Day 137: Blindsided.

1/ A top-secret NSA report shows Russian military intelligence executed a cyberattack on at least one US voting software supplier last year, sending spear-phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials just days before the election. The report indicates that Russian hacking penetrated further into voting systems than was previously understood and states unequivocally that it was Russian military intelligence that conducted the attacks. The NSA report is at odds with Putin’s denial that Russia had interfered in foreign elections: "We never engaged in that on a state level, and have no intention of doing so." (The Intercept)

2/ Putin denied having compromising information on Trump. During an interview with Megyn Kelly, Putin called the dossier of unverified information "just another load of nonsense." He added: "I haven’t seen, even once, any direct proof of Russian interference in the presidential election in the United States." Seventeen US intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia interfered with the election. (Politico / The Daily Beast)

3/ Even Trump's national security team was blindsided by his NATO speech. National security adviser H.R. McMaster, Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had all urged Trump to explicitly reaffirm America’s commitment to the NATO mutual defense clause (known as Article 5) in his speech. Instead, Trump, along with Steve Bannon and policy aide Stephen Miller, made a last-minute decision to remove the commitment reference without consulting or informing McMaster, Mattis, or Tillerson. (Politico)

4/ Trump won't invoke his executive privilege to prevent Comey from testifying to Congress. Comey is scheduled to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday, testifying about conversations where Trump encouraged him to stop investigating Michael Flynn, as well as asking Comey to pledge his loyalty, which he declined to do. Legal experts said Trump had a weak case to invoke executive privilege, because he has publicly addressed his conversations with Comey, and any such move would carry serious political risks. (New York Times)

5/ Trump doubled down on his original travel ban, attacking the Justice Department for the "watered down" version now headed to the Supreme Court. Trump’s latest tweets undercut his own staff, who've insisted the order is not a travel ban. The administration rewrote his original order, which was thrown out by the courts, in an effort to pass legal muster. The second version was also rejected, but the administration appealed has since appealed it to the Supreme Court. Trump's called for the end to political correctness, saying terrorism "will only get worse" if the US doesn’t "get smart" and reinstate his travel ban. Legal analysts said Trump is undermining his own case. (New York Times / Politico / Washington Post)

  • Trump ramps up his push for a "TRAVEL BAN!" as opposition emerges from Republican and Democratic lawmakers. In a series of tweets, Trump circled back on his push for the travel ban in the wake of Saturday’s terrorist attack in London. (Washington Post)

6/ While world leaders called for unity after the London attack, Trump tweeted the complete opposite. Before London police had linked the attack to terrorism, or released any information on the identities, ethnicities or nationalities of the suspects, Trump retweeted an unsourced blurb from Drudge – "Fears of new terror attack after van 'mows down 20 people' on London Bridge" – and then started promoting his travel ban. (Washington Post)

  • Trump’s tweets strain foreign ties, as he wasted little time defending his travel ban and attacking the mayor of London as not being tough on terrorism. (New York Times)
  • Trump can’t be counted on to give accurate information to Americans when violent acts are unfolding abroad. A look at some of his weekend tweets about the London attack and rhetoric that came from the president and his aides about climate change and more last week. (Associated Press)
  • Conway's husband rips Trump for "travel ban" tweets. (The Hill)

7/ A Louisiana Congressman proposed an extreme solution to the London terror attacks: kill any suspected radical Muslim. Representative Clay Higgins wrote on his Facebook page that "all of Christendom… is at war with Islamic horror" and that "not a single radicalized Islamic suspect should be granted any measure of quarter" and their "entry to the American homeland should be summarily denied. Every conceivable measure should be engaged to hunt them down. Hunt them, identity them, and kill them.” He concluded that the only appropriate solution was to “Kill them all. For the sake of all that is good and righteous. Kill them all.” (Facebook / Mother Jones)

8/ Jeff Sessions and Rod Rosenstein never told Comey they were uneasy with his "deeply troubling" and "serious mistakes" before they fired him. The former FBI director is "angry" they failed to flag their concerns and he wants the public to understand why when he testifies publicly this week about his axing, and alleged collusion between Trump associates and the Russian government. (ABC News)

  • Conservatives question Comey’s credibility ahead of his Senate hearing. “I don’t know that he’s credible with facts. He hasn’t been credible so far.” (McClatchy DC)
  • The Comey hearing consumes Washington ahead of his appearance before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday and speculation grows on whether the ousted FBI director’s remarks could further damage Trump. (Politico)

9/ The Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee asked to unmask organizations and individuals related to Russian meddling in the 2016 election. The requests came last year and required sign-off by Nunes, who's the chairman of the committee. Both Nunes and Trump have called unmasking an abuse of surveillance powers by the Obama administration. (Washington Post)

poll/ Trump's job approval rating drops to 36% with 58% of Americans disapproving of his performance. (Gallup / CNN)

poll/ Nearly 6 in 10 oppose Trump's scrapping of the Paris agreement. 59% of Americans oppose the decision to withdraw, saying the move will damage the United States’ global leadership, while 28% in support the decision. (Washington Post)

Day 134: Showdown supreme.

1/ Trump asked the Supreme Court to revive his travel ban, appealing a ruling by the 4th Circuit that upheld a nationwide halt on the ban. The move sets up a showdown over a "president’s authority to make national security judgments in the name of protecting Americans from terrorism." (Washington Post / New York Times / CNN)

2/ Cities, states, and companies are banding together to form a climate alliance. Washington, California, and New York – representing about a fifth of the US economy – have formed the United States Climate Alliance, which will serve as a way for states interested in dealing with climate change to coordinate. At least 80 mayors, three governors, more than 80 university presidents, and more than 100 businesses are preparing to submit a plan to the UN pledging to meet the United States’ greenhouse gas emission target, despite Trump’s decision to withdraw from the agreement. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / NBC News)

  • Climate Mayors commit to adopt, honor and uphold Paris Climate Agreement goals. 83 Mayors representing 40 million Americans, we will adopt, honor, and uphold the commitments to the goals enshrined in the Paris Agreement. (Climate Mayors)
  • Rex Tillerson said the US will likely to continue to reduce greenhouse gas emissions despite exiting the Paris climate change agreement. Trump has started to roll back nearly all of Obama’s climate change policies, including the limits on greenhouse and methane gas emissions. (The Hill)

3/ Michael Bloomberg pledges $15 million to help foot the Paris Climate Agreement bill. Bloomberg Philanthropies and its partners will cover part of the United States' share of the operating budget. Trump's budget could cut as much as $2 billion in funding for UN climate change programs as a result of leaving the Paris agreement. (CNN Money)

4/ The White House ordered federal agencies to ignore Democrats’ oversight requests, fearing the information could be weaponized against Trump. The goal is to choke off the Democratic congressional minorities from asking questions of the administration intended to embarrass or attack the president. (Politico)

5/ US intelligence agencies formally asked the Justice Department to investigate Russia-related leaks. As many as six recent leaks have been formally referred to the DOJ for criminal investigation. (ABC News)

6/ The Russia probe now includes a grand jury investigation into Michael Flynn. Robert Mueller's investigation is looking into Flynn’s paid work as a lobbyist for a Turkish businessman and contacts between Russian officials and Flynn and other Trump associates during and after the election. (Reuters)

7/ Mueller's also assumed oversight of the ongoing Paul Manafort investigation and could expand to include Jeff Sessions. Manafort was forced to resign as Trump campaign chairman related to business dealings years ago in Ukraine, which predated the 2016 counterintelligence probe into possible collusion between Moscow and Trump associates. Sessions role in the decision to fire Comey could also come under investigation. (Associated Press)

8/ The Trump team wanted to lift sanctions on Russia when he took office, but career diplomats pressured Congress to block the move. Bipartisan legislation was introduced in February to bar the administration from granting sanctions relief without a congressional review. The proposed bill was shelved six days later when Flynn resigned, making it "clear that if they lifted sanctions, there would be a political firestorm." (Yahoo News / NBC News)

9/ Hurricane season started yesterday with nobody in charge at FEMA or NOAA. The agencies that oversee the government's weather forecasting and response to disasters are both leaderless nearly five months after Trump was sworn in. Forecasters say the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season could bring "above-normal" storm activity. (NPR)

10/ At least one Republican senator thinks a health care deal is unlikely this year. At least three conservative Republicans are opposed to the health care goals of three moderate Republicans, making the path to 50 votes difficult despite Republicans controlling 52 seats in the Senate. (Wall Street Journal)

11/ Trump appoints a new CIA Iran chief, signaling a more aggressive line toward Iran. Michael D’Andrea oversaw the hunt for Osama bin Laden and the American drone strike campaign, and "perhaps no single CIA official is more responsible for weakening Al Qaeda." (New York Times)

  • The Trump administration is returning copies of the CIA torture report. The return of the report to the Senate committee “is extremely disturbing on a number of levels" and raises the possibility that copies of the 6,700-page report could be locked in Senate vaults for good. (New York Times)

Day 133: It's heating up.

1/ Trump pulled the US from the Paris climate accord, prioritizing the economy over the environment and global alliances. Trump will stick to the process laid out in the Paris agreement, which will take about four years to complete, leaving a final decision up to American voters in the 2020 election. Trump said the US will "begin negotiations to reenter the Paris accord" to "see if we can make a deal that's fair. And if we can, that's great." He argued that the Paris agreement would “punish” Americans by instituting “onerous energy restrictions” that stymie economic growth, while leaders around the world said the exit from the accord is an irresponsible abdication of American leadership. The US is the world's #2 greenhouse-gas producer, and would have accounted for 21% of the total emissions reduced by the accord through 2030. All but two countries — Nicaragua and Syria — signed onto the 2015 accord. (New York Times / Associated Press / Washington Post / Politico / NPR)

White House Memo:

"The Paris Accord is a BAD deal for Americans, and the President’s action today is keeping his campaign promise to put American workers first. The Accord was negotiated poorly by the Obama Administration and signed out of desperation."

  • Al Gore on Trump's withdrawal from the Paris Agreement: “Removing the United States from the Paris Agreement is a reckless and indefensible action. It undermines America’s standing in the world and threatens to damage humanity’s ability to solve the climate crisis in time. (Al Gore)
  • Obama: The Trump administration joins a "handful of nations that reject the future," adding the accord "opened the floodgates" to jobs as opposed to being the economic drag Trump has cast it as. (ABC News)
  • Elon Musk quits Trump's advisory council in response to the US withdrawing from the Paris climate accord. (The Daily Beast)

2/ Germany, France and Italy respond: The Paris deal cannot be renegotiated. "We deem the momentum generated in Paris in December 2015 irreversible and we firmly believe that the Paris Agreement cannot be renegotiated since it is a vital instrument for our planet, societies and economies," the leaders of the three countries said in a joint statement. (Reuters)

3/ Congress is examining whether Jeff Sessions had a third undisclosed meeting with Russia's ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the presidential campaign. During his confirmation hearing on January 10, Sessions testified that he "did not have any communications with the Russians" during the campaign. In March, reports emerged that Sessions met with Kislyak in July and September. He insisted those meetings were part of Senate duties and not the campaign. (CNN)

4/ Senators had asked Comey to investigate Sessions for possible perjury before he was fired by Trump. "We are concerned about Attorney General Sessions' lack of candor to the committee and his failure thus far to accept responsibility for testimony that could be construed as perjury," Senators Patrick Leahy and Al Franken wrote to Comey in their first request. The Senators sent requests to Comey and, later, acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe in three letters dated March 20, April 28 and May 12. (CNN)

5/ Putin insists Russia never engaged in hacking, but praised Trump's lack of political background as a good thing. Putin denied any state role, but acknowledged that some individual "patriotically minded" private Russian hackers could have mounted an attack. He added that Trump is "a straightforward person, a frank person," which is a political advantage because "he has a fresh set of eyes." (Associated Press / New York Times)

6/ The former pro-Brexit Ukip leader is a "person of interest" in the FBI investigation into Trump and Russia. Nigel Farage's relationships with both the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has raised the interest of the FBI. “If you triangulate Russia, WikiLeaks, Assange and Trump associates the person who comes up with the most hits is Nigel Farage. He’s right in the middle of these relationships." (The Guardian)

7/ The administration is considering returning two Russian diplomatic compounds in NYC and Maryland, which were closed by Obama as punishment for interference in the election. The Trump administration told the Russians that it would give the properties back to Moscow if it would lift the freeze on construction of a new US consulate in St. Petersburg. (Washington Post)

8/ The White House will stop answering questions about the Trump-Russia investigation. Spicer told reporters that any future questions about the investigation would be addressed by Trump's personal lawyer. (The Hill)

9/ The federal government now requires US visa applicants to provide their last five years' worth of social media handles, email addresses and phone numbers. They must also provide 15 years of biographical information including addresses, employment and travel history. (Reuters)

10/ Trump exempted his entire senior staff from his own ethics rules, allowing them to work with political and advocacy groups that support the administration. Conway, for instance, can now communicate and meet with organizations that previously employed her consulting firm, while Bannon can talk with Breitbart News, which he chaired until last year. The White House said that the waivers were in the public interest because the administration needed appointees' expertise on certain issues. (The Daily Beast / Washington Post)

11/ Comey will testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee next Thursday as long as Trump doesn't block him. Trump could invoke executive privilege and try to prevent testimony from Comey, who is expected to be asked about several conversations he had with Trump. Presidents have a constitutional right to keep discussions a secret in many instances. However, Trump has made it difficult to assert executive privilege by repeatedly and publicly referring to his conversations with Comey. A public session will be held in the morning, followed by a private briefing. (New York Times / Politico)

poll/ A majority of Americans in every state say that the US should participate in the Paris Climate Agreement. 69% of all voters say the US should participate in the agreement, while 47% of Trump voters want the US to participate. (Yale - Climate Change in the American Mind)

Day 132: Au revoir.

1/ Trump will withdraw from the Paris climate deal. A small team is now deciding on whether to initiate a full withdrawal, which could take 3 years, or exit the underlying United Nations climate change treaty, which would be a faster, more extreme move. World leaders, the Pope, major oil companies, and even Ivanka and Kushner have pushed Trump to stay in the deal. (Axios / Politico / New York Times)

  • UN Secretary-General on climate change: "Get on board or get left behind." (Axios)

2/ Elon Musk threatens to leave Trump's advisory councils if the US exits the Paris climate deal. He joins twenty-five leading tech companies who signed a letter arguing in favor of climate pact that is set to run as a full-page ad in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal tomorrow. (Bloomberg / Politico / The Verge)

3/ Comey will testify publicly about Trump pressuring him to end his investigation into Flynn's ties to Russia. Comey will appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee and is expected to confirm that Trump confronted him over the Russia investigations. Mueller and Comey discussed parameters to ensure his testimony won’t hurt the special counsel’s investigation. It will be Comey's first time speaking in public since Trump unexpectedly fired him. (CNN / Wall Street Journal)

4/ The House Intelligence Committee issued seven subpoenas. Four are related to the Russia investigation – Michael Flynn and Trump's personal attorney Michael Cohen, and their businesses. The other three – to NSA, FBI, CIA – are related to how and why the names of Trump's associates were "unmasked." (Wall Street Journal)

5/ Al Franken: "everything points to" collusion between Trump's campaign and the Russians. "My feeling is that there was some cooperation between the Trump campaign and the Russians," the Minnesota Democrat said. (Bloomberg)

6/ The Russia probe has slowed Trump’s effort to fill hundreds of vacant jobs across the federal government. The growing scandal is scaring off candidates and distracting aides from finding new recruits. The White House has announced nominees for just 117 of the 559 most important Senate-confirmed positions. (Politico)

7/ Trump's top advisers claim he backed NATO's Article 5, despite never explicitly doing so during his speech to NATO last week. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed by the national security adviser and director of the national economic council, they wrote that by "reconfirming America’s commitment to NATO and Article 5, the president challenged our allies to share equitably the responsibility for our mutual defense." (Wall Street Journal)

8/ Paul Ryan appointed a controversial cancer doctor to a Health and Human Services committee, which will advise the Trump administration on policy around health information technology. Patrick Soon-Shiong leads a network of for-profit and not-for-profit ventures researching cancer. The problem: the majority of the expenditures of his nonprofits flow to his for-profit businesses, raising questions about potential conflicts of interest. (Politico)

9/ Trump didn't expect so much "covfefe" of his midnight tweet. The big guy fired off "…negative press covfefe" just before going to bed. Six hours later, he corrected the mistake, but not before becoming a worldwide joke on social media. So much for letting his lawyers vet his tweets. (Associated Press)

  • Sean Spicer offered a cryptic explanation for Trump’s incomplete, misspelled tweet that went viral overnight: "The president and a small group of people know exactly what he meant." (The Hill)

10/ Meanwhile, Trump's been asking world leaders to call him on his cellphone, breaking protocol and raising concerns about the security and secrecy of his communications. (Associated Press)

11/ Jared Kushner built a luxury skyscraper using loans designed to benefit projects in poor, job-starved areas. Working with state officials in New Jersey, they defined a district that included some of the city's poorest and most crime-ridden neighborhoods, but excluded wealthy neighborhoods blocks away, allowing Kushner Companies and its partners to get $50 million in low-cost financing. While not illegal, critics liken it to the gerrymandering of legislative districts. (Washington Post)

poll/ 8% think GOP health care bill should pass. Nearly half of consumers say that their cost of health care will be "worse" under the American Health Care Act, compared to 16% who think the cost will be "better" and 36% who feel it will be "about the same." (CNN Money)

poll/ 43% want Congress to begin impeachment proceedings, but most don't believe that Trump is actually guilty of an impeachable offense, like treason, bribery or obstructing justice. (Politico)

Day 131: Derogatory information.

1/ Russians discussed having potentially "derogatory" information about the Trump team during the campaign. Intercepted communications suggest that the Russians believed "they had the ability to influence the administration through the derogatory information." (CNN)

2/ Michael Flynn will turn over some business records to the Senate Intelligence Committee. Flynn initially refused to cooperate with a Senate subpoena, claiming his constitutional right against self incrimination. The committee then subpoenaed records from two of his businesses, which cannot be shielded by the Fifth Amendment. (Wall Street Journal)

3/ The Russia investigation now includes Trump's personal attorney. Michael Cohen turned down invitations from the House and Senate investigators "to provide information and testimony" about any contacts he had with people connected to the Russian government. He said he'll "gladly" testify if Congress subpoenas him. (ABC News / CNN / New York Times)

4/ Investigators are examining why Kushner met with a Russian banker during the transition and what they wanted from each other. It is not clear if Kushner wanted to use the banker as a go-between or whether it was part of the effort to establish a direct, secure line to Putin. The banker, Sergey Gorkov, is a close associate of Putin. (New York Times)

5/ James Clapper says Russia "absolutely" meddled in the 2016 election. The former director of national intelligence said there has never been a case of election interference more aggressive than what happened in 2016. He added, however, that it's unclear if the "interference actually affected the outcome of the election." (CNN)

6/ Kellyanne Conway called Kushner's Russian backchannel "regular course of business." Former national security officials have said that backchannels are out of the norm for a presidential transition and that could possibly be illegal. (Politico)

7/ Trump called for the Senate to end the filibuster so his agenda could pass “fast and easy.” Eliminating the filibuster would allow legislation to pass with a simple majority (51 votes), rather than the 60 votes currently needed for a bill to pass the Senate. (The Hill)

8/ The White House communication director resigned after three months. Mike Dubke’s exit comes as Trump weighs larger staff changes in an effort to contain the deepening Russia scandal. Dubke stepped down as communications director on May 18, but offered to stay through Trump's first foreign trip, which just ended. (Politico / Axios)

9/ Intelligence briefings must be short and full of "killer graphics" in Trump's administration. The daily briefings are so casual and visually driven – maps, charts, pictures, and videos – that the CIA director and director of national intelligence are worried Trump may not be retaining all the intelligence he is presented. Rank-and-file staffers are "very worried about how do you deal with him and about sharing with him sensitive material." (Washington Post)

10/ A Texas lawmaker threatened to shoot a colleague after reporting protesters to ICE. Representative Matt Rinaldi called ICE on "several illegal immigrants" after seeing signs in the gallery at the State Capitol that read, "I am illegal and here to stay." Rinaldi then threatened to shoot a lawmaker who objected. (New York Times / NPR)

11/ Trump called for more spending on health care so it’s "the best anywhere." Trump's budget proposal from last week called for cuts between $800 billion and $1.4 trillion in future spending on Medicaid, in addition to cuts in healthcare programs for low-income children. His budget did not propose new healthcare spending. (Washington Post)

12/ Trump is expected to roll back Obamacare's birth control coverage for religious employers. The White House is reviewing a draft rule to provide "conscience-based objections to the preventive-care mandate," which would undo the required free contraception requirement from the Affordable Care Act. (New York Times / Washington Post)

13/ Trump's budget proposal wants the poor to work for their government benefits by enabling states to apply for waivers to add work requirements. Currently, states can't force Medicaid recipients to work. While the food stamp program contains an employment requirement, it is often waived. Both would change if the budget is passed. (CNN Money)

Day 130: Backchannel.

1/ Trump is considering big changes at the White House in an effort to contain the escalating Russia investigation that threatens to consume his presidency. “Everything is in play,” an advisor said. Trump may bring back a trio of former campaign officials (Corey Lewandowski, David Bossie and David Urban) to handle communications and political duties related to the Russia investigation, and – shockingly – he's even considering having lawyers vet his tweets. (Wall Street Journal / Washington Post)

2/ Kushner wanted a secret communications channel with the Kremlin so Michael Flynn could discuss strategy in Syria and other security issues directly with senior military officials in Moscow. The channel was never set up, but was proposed by Kushner during an early December meeting at Trump Tower with ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Kushner suggested using Russian diplomatic facilities in the US for the communications. (Washington Post / New York Times)

  • Kushner had at least three previously undisclosed contacts with the Russian ambassador to the US during and after the 2016 presidential campaign, including two phone calls between April and November last year. Kushner's attorney said his client did not remember any calls with Kislyak between April and November. (Reuters)
  • In December Kushner met with Sergey Gorkov, a Russian banker and "Putin crony" who is also graduate of a "finishing school" for spies. (NBC News)

3/ Trump has "total confidence" in Jared Kushner, despite coming under fire that he tried to create backchannel with Russia to shield the Trump team from public view. Some Democrats are calling for Trump to revoke Kushner’s security clearances. (New York Times)

4/ National security adviser: "I would not be concerned" by backchannel communications with Russia. H.R. McMaster didn't specifically comment on the controversy surrounding Kushner. (CNN)

5/ Kushner is under pressure to "lay low" and take a leave of absence from the White House amid reports that he is under FBI scrutiny. (NBC News / The Hill)

6/ Trump attacks "fake news" for reporting that Kushner had discussed setting up a secret communications channel with the Russians. (New York Times)

7/ The Senate Intelligence Committee wants all of Trump's Russia-related documents, emails and phone records going back to his campaign’s launch in June 2015. It's the first time that Trump’s official campaign structure has been drawn into the Senate committee’s ongoing bipartisan investigation. (Washington Post)

8/ The Trump campaign likely didn’t preserve digital documents. "You’d be giving us too much credit," a former aide said. "The idea of document retention did not come up. The idea of some formal structure did not come up." Failure to keep track of emails, messages and other records could expose Trump’s current and former aides to criminal charges down the line. (Politico)

9/ A Russian oligarch with ties to Paul Manafort wants immunity for cooperating with congressional intelligence committees. The Senate and House panels turned him down because of concerns that immunity agreements will complicate federal criminal investigations. The two did business together in the mid-2000s, when Manafort was providing campaign advice to Kremlin-backed politicians in Ukraine. Oleg Deripaska is a member of Putin's inner circle. (New York Times)

10/ Trump privately said he plans to leave the Paris agreement on climate change, despite his public position that he hasn't made up his mind. Leaving the Paris agreement is the biggest thing Trump could do to unwind Obama's climate policies and signal to the rest of the world that climate change isn't a priority for his administration. (Axios)

  • Exxon CEO urges Trump to keep the US in the Paris climate agreement in a personal letter. (The Financial Times)

11/ Angela Merkel: Europe can no longer "completely depend" on the US after G7 leaders failed to persuade Trump to back the Paris climate accord. "There are no signs of whether the US will stay in the Paris accords or not," Merkel said. (New York Times)

12/ Trump tweets that North Korea's latest ballistic missile test showed "great disrespect" to China. North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile that landed in the Sea of Japan. (The Hill)

13/ Tourism to the US has declined 11% since Trump took office, hitting a low of 16% in March. (NBC News)

Day 127: Disinformation.

1/ Comey acted on Russian information he knew was fake for fear that if it became public it would undermine the probe into Hillary Clinton's email and the Justice Department. The Russian intelligence claimed that then-Attorney General Lynch had been compromised and suggested she would make the FBI investigation of Clinton go away. If the Russians had released the information publicly, there would be no way for law enforcement and intelligence officials to discredit it without burning their sources and methods. (CNN)

2/ Jared Kushner is now a focus in the Russia investigation. Kushner is being investigated for possible coordination between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign to influence the 2016 presidential election, as well as possible financial crimes. (Washington Post / NBC News)

  • Kushner is willing to cooperate with investigators. Kushner had meetings last year with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak and Russian banker Sergey Gorkov. (Bloomberg)

3/ Trump called the Germans "bad, very bad" for selling a lot of cars in the US. He vowed to block German car exports to the US at a meeting with EU leaders, ignoring the fact that many “foreign” cars are actually made in the US, while many “American” cars are made in Canada and Mexico. (Der Spiegel / Slate)

4/ The FBI won’t provide Comey's memos to Congress, until it consults with Robert Mueller, the new special counsel overseeing the Russia investigation. (Politico)

5/ Senate Republicans are considering a plan to push the Obamacare repeal to 2020. They're weighing a two-step process to replace Obamacare, as they seek to draft a more modest version than a House plan. (Bloomberg)

  • McConnell may have been right that it may be too hard to replace Obamacare. The meetings Republicans have held to discuss a Senate health care bill have exposed deep issues within the party. (New York Times)

6/ Trump told Macron that he did not back Marine Le Pen, contrary to media reports saying he liked the far-right leader. He added: "You were my guy." (Reuters)

7/ John Boehner on Trump: "everything else he's done has been a complete disaster," other than getting the House to pass the health care bill. The former house speaker went on to say that Trump is "still learning how to be president." (CNN)

Day 126: Street fighters.

1/ Trump's prepping for a years-long war under the cloud of a special investigation. The White House is "getting street fighters ready to go" with legal, surrogate, communications, and rapid-response teams as part of a "new normal." With Trump on tour in the Middle East and Europe, Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus are at home, putting in place the means to keep his agenda moving ahead and avoid "paralysis." (Axios / Politico)

2/ Trump chastises "obsolete" NATO about how it's "not fair" some members don't pay their share. He lectured 23 of the 28 member for what he called their "chronic underpayments" to the military alliance. The mutual defense pledge requires nations to contribute at least 2% of their GDP. (ABC News / New York Times / Washington Post)

3/ A federal appeals court will not reinstate Trump’s revised travel ban, saying it "drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination." The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the injunction, saying the executive order violated the First Amendment’s ban on government establishment of religion – In this case singling out Muslims. (New York Times / Politico)

4/ Macron out-Trumps Trump in "fierce" handshake duel. Editor's note: The descriptions are too good to summarize, so I'm quoting in full:

From the Washington Post: "…the two men shook hands for six long seconds. Their knuckles turned white, their jaws clenched and their faces tightened. Trump reached in first, but then he tried to release, twice, but Macron kept his grip until letting go." (Washington Post)

From Bloomberg: "Trump’s trick is to go in strong and then hold on just slightly too long, often pulling the other man toward him. Meeting Macron for the first time before a NATO summit in Brussels, Trump went in firm as usual. But this time, it was Trump – not Macron – who tried to back out first. Macron simply wouldn’t let go as Trump tried to pull back once, and then flexed his fingers straight to get out. On the second try, he was able to pull away." (Bloomberg)

5/ A group of 22 Republican senators are urging Trump to exit the Paris climate deal. They say the provisions in the Clean Air Act and the Paris agreement would create "significant litigation risk," which puts fully rescinding the Clean Power Plan in danger. (Axios)

6/ Paul Manafort remained in contact and continued to advise the Trump team even after the FBI launched its Russia probe. Manafort called Priebus a week before the inauguration to tell him the dossier by a former British spy that alleged Russia had compromising information on Trump and his associates was "garbage." Manafort was forced to resign as Trump’s campaign chairman due to his ties to Kremlin-aligned politicians in Europe. (Politico)

  • Russians had discussed how to influence Trump advisors last summer. Specifically, Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn, who both had close ties to Russia. It's unclear if Russian officials attempted to influence either. (New York Times)

7/ Sessions was advised not to disclose his meetings with Russian officials when he applied for security clearance. Democratic lawmakers are demanding for Sessions’s resignation. "He’s lied under oath," Senator Kamala Harris said. "He’s misled on security clearance forms. It’s simple — he should not be the Attorney General." (New York Times)

8/ Reince Priebus is sweating Comey's secret memos. Three White House officials said Priebus has expressed worry about a memo involving one of their chats, and how it might play in the press and to investigators. (The Daily Beast)

9/ A Montana GOP House candidate was charged with assault after "body-slamming" a journalist. Greg Gianforte grabbed the reporter by the neck with both hands, slammed him into the ground, and then began punching the reporter. Misdemeanor charges were filed against Gianforte, who was "sick and tired of this!" – "this" being a question. (The Guardian / Fox News)

10/ A Mar-A-Lago employee is doing work for Trump's foreign trip. The guest reception manager at Trump's "Winter White House" is in Italy helping Trump’s logistics team. (BuzzFeed News)

11/ Lieberman withdraws from consideration for FBI Director job. Once considered the front-runner to replace James Comey, he's formally withdrawn citing the appearance of a conflict of interest now that Trump’s tapped his boss, attorney Marc Kasowitz, as outside counsel in the Russia investigation. (Wall Street Journal / Politico / ABC News)

12/ Trump condemned "leaks of sensitive information" after complaints From Britain. Manchester police said they would no longer share details of the investigation with the US after crime-scene photos and suspected bomber's name were leaked to American media. (New York Times / Washington Post)

poll/ 40% approve of Trump job performance, with 53% disapproving. Pence, meanwhile, clocks in at a 42% approval to 43% disapproval rating. (The Hill)

Day 125: A madman with nukes.

1/ Trump called Kim Jong Un a "madman with nuclear weapons," days before stating publicly that he would be "honored" to meet with Kim. In an April 29 call with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, Trump asked for his input on whether Kim is "stable or not stable." Duterte has been accused of presiding over the extrajudicial killing of thousands of drug dealers and users. (Washington Post)

2/ The US has two nuclear submarines off the coast of North Korea, Trump told Duterte during last month's call. He revealed that “we have a lot of firepower over there. We have two submarines — the best in the world. We have two nuclear submarines, not that we want to use them at all." (New York Times)

3/ The Pentagon is in shock that Trump told Duterte about the submarines. The Pentagon never talks about the location of submarines on the belief that stealth is key to their mission. (BuzzFeed News)

4/ Trump congratulated Duterte for doing an "unbelievable job" in his war on drugs, where the government has allowed extrajudicial killing for drug dealers and users. "You are a good man," Trump told Duterte. "Keep up the good work." The State Department’s human rights report calls the Philippines "disregard for human rights and due process" one of the "most significant human rights problems." (The Intercept / Politico)

5/ Pope Francis urged Trump to meet US commitments on climate change. He gave Trump copy of his 2015 encyclical (a type of papal document used for significant or important issues) calling for urgent, drastic cuts in fossil-fuel emissions. Trump has called climate change a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. (Bloomberg)

6/ Jeff Sessions did not disclose meetings with Russian officials when he applied for his security clearance. Sessions met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at least twice last year, but didn't failed to note those interactions on the security clearance form. (CNN)

7/ The House Intelligence Committee will subpoena Michael Flynn after he declined to appear before the panel. Flynn already rejected requests from the Senate Intelligence Committee for a list of his contacts with Russian officials, invoking his Fifth Amendments rights against self-incrimination. (Reuters / Associated Press / Politico)

  • Flynn hit with two Senate Intelligence Committee subpoenas and risks being held in contempt of Congress if he doesn't comply. (ABC News)

8/ Trump lawyers up and retains Marc Kasowitz for the Russia investigation. Related, former Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman joined Kasowitz' law firm in 2013 and was Trump's top choice for the FBI director job. The administration hit the reset button on the search today, wanting to see a broader list of candidates. (NBC News / CNN)

9/ Trump's hotels are failing to track payments received from foreign governments despite his promise to donate all profits back to the Treasury. A Trump Organization policy suggests that it is up to foreign governments, not Trump hotels, to determine whether they self-report their business. (NBC News)

10/ The House health care bill would leave 23 million more uninsured by 2026, the Congressional Budget Office projected. If passed, 14 million people would lose insurance next year and would make coverage less comprehensive than it is now for those still insured. The Senate has already said it will make substantial changes to the measure passed by the House. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / Bloomberg)

11/ Mitch McConnell on Obamacare: "I don't know how we get to 50 (votes)." The Senate Majority Leader has not asked the White House for input on the legislation being crafted to dismantle Obamacare. McConnell has promised to undo Obamacare "root and branch," but Congress and the White House have struggled to come up with a consensus plan despite controlling both branches of government. (Reuters)

12/ Ben Carson called poverty "a state of mind." He said he believes that government can provide a "helping hand" for people to climb out of poverty, but warned against programs that are "sustaining them in a position of poverty." (Washington Post)

13/ Democrats flipped seats in two districts that voted for Trump. The new legislature seats in New York and New Hampshire won't change the balance of power, but may signal a change in the country's political climate. (HuffPost)

Poll/ 65% of voters believe there is a lot of fake news in the mainstream media. 84% of voters said it's hard to know what news to believe online. (Editor's Suggestion: Get the fuck off Facebook.) (The Hill)

Day 124: Cuts for the poor.

1/ Trump's first budget can be summed up like this: Cuts for the poor. The budget would boost defense spending by $54 billion for the next fiscal year and another $2.6 billion for new border security measures, including $1.6 billion to build the border wall. Medicaid, food assistance and other anti-poverty and welfare programs – which provide benefits for up to a fifth of all Americans – would be cut by more than $1 trillion. Spending overall would be reduced by $3.6 trillion over 10 years. Trump’s budget is based on sustained growth above 3%, much higher than the expectations of most private economists. (CNN Money / Washington Post / New York Times / Associated Press / NBC News)

By The Numbers:

State Department – 29.1% decrease

Homeland Security – 6.8% increase

Department of Education – 13.5% decrease

EPA – 31.4% decrease

Department of Transportation – 12.7% decrease

Department of Defense – 10.1% increase

Department of Housing and Urban Development – 13.2% decrease

Veterans Affairs – 5.8% increase

Corps of Engineers – 16.3% decrease

Department of Justice – 3.8% decrease

Department of Labor - 19.8% decrease

Department of the Interior – 10.9% decrease

Source: (CNN)

  • Republicans say the White House has gone too far with its proposed cuts to programs that help the poor. (Washington Post)
  • Trump's first budget proposal calls on Congress to spend $4.1 trillion next year, a little more than what is being spent this year. But it would greatly reallocate where many federal funds go: spend more on defense, border security, and infrastructure, but cut safety nets and domestic programs that focus on everything from the environment and education to student loans and scientific research. (CNN Money)
  • Which budgets would see the biggest cuts – or boosts? Only three departments would see increases in their budgets. (NPR)
  • Trump wants to sell off half of the US strategic oil reserve in order to trim the national debt. By draining the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, Trump's would raise $500 million in fiscal year 2018 and as much as $16.6 billion in oil sales over the next decade. (Bloomberg)

2/ Trump's budget will hit his own voters the hardest. The budget blueprint cuts taxes for the wealthy, boosts defense spending, and reduces programs for the poor and disabled – potentially hurting many of the rural and low-income Americans who voted him into office. (Politico)

3/ The budget is based on a $2 trillion math error. It appears Trump is double counting the benefits of economic growth: Once to offset the effects of lower tax rates and a second time to help close the budget deficit. (Wall Street Journal / New York Magazine)

4/ Russia may have successfully recruited Trump campaign aides and "brazenly" interfered in the election. John Brennan, the Former CIA Director, told the House Intelligence Committee that there was a “very aggressive” effort to intervene in the 2016 campaign, which he warned his counterpart in Russian intelligence about. Brennan said he didn't know if the Trump campaign colluded with Russia, but his confirmation that there was contact undermines Trump’s account of his campaign’s links to Russia. (Politico / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / Associated Press)

5/ Flynn was hit with two new subpoenas by the Senate Intelligence Committee in an effort to compel him to turn over documents about his contacts with Russian officials. Flynn invoked the Fifth Amendment in response to the previous subpoena attempt. The new subpoenas are aimed at Flynn's businesses, believing they can't plead the Fifth. (Politico)

6/ Comey's public House Oversight Committee testimony postponed. He wants to speak with Robert Mueller first, who is investigating the ties between Russia and the presidential election campaign. Comey is also expected to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the Russia probe later this month. (Reuters)

7/ ISIS claimed responsibility for the Manchester attack; Trump calls them "evil losers" and vows to "call them, from now on, losers because that's what they are: losers." (Washington Post / NBC News)

8/ Chris Christie gave Jared Kushner legal advice when asked if Trump should hire a lawyer. In private, Christie told Kushner that the president "better lawyer up and keep his mouth shut," according to a person who recounted Christie's conversation with Kushner. (Vanity Fair)

9/ Jeff Sessions narrowed Trump's executive order on sanctuary cities. A federal judge said Trump had overstepped his authority in attaching conditions to federal money. Sessions' new memo says Trump's order will only apply to grants from the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security "and not to other sources of federal funding." (New York Times) / Politico)

10/ Sheriff David Clarke is unsure if the Trump administration will still hire him. A review of Clarke's master's thesis found 47 examples where Clarke copied entire sentences, but credited them with a footnote – not quotation marks to indicate that he took the language verbatim. (CNN)

11/ Democrats warned Trump against a pre-emptive attack on North Korea. In a letter, 64 Democratic legislators urged Trump to talk directly to the North Koreans and warned that he would need congressional approval for any pre-emptive military strike. (New York Times)

Day 123: Will not comply.

1/ Michael Flynn will invoke his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination as he notifies the Senate Intelligence committee that he will not comply with a subpoena seeking documents. His decision to invoke his Fifth Amendment right puts him at risk of being held in contempt of Congress, which can also result in a criminal charge. After Flynn rejected the subpoena, Elijah Cummings released a letter saying Flynn misled Pentagon investigators about his income from Russian companies when he applied for a top-secret security clearance last year. Separately, he also failed to properly register as a foreign agent while advising the Trump campaign. Both are felonies. (Associated Press / New York Times)

  • Chris Christie weighs in on Flynn: "I wouldn’t let General Flynn in the White House, let alone give him a job." The New Jersey governor said he repeatedly recommended that Trump not give Flynn the job while on the campaign and as President-elect. (Washington Post)

2/ Trump asked two of the top intelligence chiefs to push back against the FBI investigation into possible collusion after Comey revealed its existence. Trump asked the director of national intelligence and the director of the National Security Agency to publicly deny the existence of any evidence of collusion during the 2016 election. Both refused to comply with the requests, which they both deemed to be inappropriate. (Washington Post)

3/ Trump: "I never mentioned the word or the name Israel" to the Russians. It was an off-script effort to push back and refute the damage he did to Israeli intelligence capabilities after revealing highly classified information to Russian operatives earlier this month. To add further insult to injury, he also told a room of Israelis that he "just got back from the Middle East." (CNN / Slate)

4/ Trump's budget is expected to cut $1.7 trillion from Medicaid and anti-poverty programs over the next 10 years. Assuming the GOP health care bill becomes law, the budget proposal will cut $800 billion from Medicaid leaving an estimated 10 million people without benefits. SNAP, the modern version of food stamps, will be reduced by $193 billion – about a quarter. During the campaign, Trump promised not to cut Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. (Bloomberg / Washington Post / CNN)

5/ Comey believes that Donald Trump was trying to influence his judgment on the Russia probe. He initially thought he could teach Trump and the White House what was appropriate during their communications, despite noting that the new President was not following normal protocols during their interactions. (CNN)

6/ Trump is assembling outside counsel to help him navigate the Russian investigation now that Robert Mueller has begun work on the possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. The outside legal team would be separate from the White House Counsel’s Office, which is led by Donald McGahn, who served as the Trump campaign’s lawyer. (Washington Post)

  • Priebus and Bannon returned to Washington after Saudi visit. Major issues await Trump back home, including the possible hiring of outside legal counsel in the Russia probe, the selection of a new FBI director, and the effort to pivot his domestic agenda. (CNN)

7/ The White House is trying to block the disclosure of ethics waivers granted to former lobbyists who work in the administration or federal agencies. Ethics watchdogs are concerned that former lobbyists are taking high-ranking political jobs working on the exact topics they had previously handled on behalf of private-sector clients — including oil and gas companies and Wall Street banks. The Office of Government Ethics was created in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal to oversee compliance with federal ethics standards. The administration is challenging the legal authority to demand the information. (New York times)

8/ Sheriff David Clarke plagiarized portions of his master's thesis on homeland security. Clarke will be joining Trump's administration as assistant secretary in the Department of Homeland Security. He denied the report, calling the journalist a "sleaze bag." (CNN / Reuters)

9/ Commerce secretary Wilbur Ross said he was pleased that there were no protesters with "a bad placard" during his trip to Saudi Arabia. American-style protest is illegal in Saudi Arabia and can result in a death sentence. (Washington Post)

10/ McMaster won't say if Trump confronted Russian officials about election interference during the meeting at the White House. He said "there already was too much that's been leaked from those meetings," but wouldn't deny that Trump called Comey "crazy, a real nut job." (ABC News)

11/ The White House plans to ask a federal court for another 90-day delay in a lawsuit over Obamacare insurance subsidies, leaving the future of the health care marketplaces in limbo through late August. The suit centers on Obamacare's cost-sharing program, which reimburses health insurers to help low-income people make co-payments at the doctor or hospital. House Republicans say the program was never legally funded in Obamacare and Trump has argued that the markets are fatally flawed and will collapse no matter what his administration does. (Politico)

12/ Students walked out of the Notre Dame commencement ceremony in protest of Mike Pence's policies that "have marginalized our vulnerable sisters and brothers for their religion, skin color, or sexual orientation." (NPR)

Day 120: Kept in the dark. Person of interest.

1/ A White House official close to Trump is now a person of interest in the Russia probe. The senior adviser under scrutiny by investigators is someone close to the president, according to multiple sources, who would not further identify the official. Investigators are also interested in people who were previously part of the Trump campaign and administration, including Michael Flynn and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort. (Washington Post)

2/ Trump told the Russians in the Oval Office last week that firing Comey had relieved "great pressure" on him. A document summarizing the meeting quotes Trump as saying "I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job. I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off." (New York Times)

3/ The Trump-Russia probe now includes a possible cover-up. Former FBI Director Robert Mueller, "has been given the authority to investigate the possibility of a cover-up," though that "does not mean that is part of the investigation" currently. (McClatchy)

4/ Mike Pence wasn't informed about Flynn's alleged wrongdoings, a source close to the administration said. It's the second time that Pence claims he was kept in the dark about Flynn. The source said there is concern about "a pattern" of keeping the vice president distant from information about possible Flynn wrongdoings, calling it "malpractice or intentional, and either are unacceptable." (NBC News)

5/ James Comey has agreed to testify in a public session at the Senate Intelligence Committee. The hearing will occur after Memorial Day, committee leaders said. (Politico)

  • Comey tried to preserve distance between the FBI and the White House, by educating the administration on the proper way to interact with the bureau. Comey told Trump that if he wanted to know details about the bureau’s investigations, he should not contact him directly but instead follow the proper procedures and have the White House counsel send any inquiries to the Justice Department. (New York Times)
  • Comey may testify as soon as next week despite the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Russian meddling into last year's election. (The Hill)
  • The FBI warned a Republican congressman in 2012 that Russian spies were trying to recruit him. Dana Rohrabacher of California, has been known for years as one of Moscow’s biggest defenders in Washington and as a vocal opponent of American economic sanctions against Russia. He is one of Trump’s staunchest allies on Capitol Hill. (New York Times)

6/ Trump heads out on his first foreign trip since taking office, to meet with some of the most important figures in the Middle East and Europe during a nine-day, five-country journey. He's bucking tradition by not visiting Canada or Mexico with his first visits abroad, which the past five presidents have all done. The trip will conclude with the president meeting with NATO and attending a G7 summit, where leaders have been told that he prefers short presentations and lots of visual aids. White House aides fear that a difficult trip might lead Trump to hand off future traveling duties to Pence. (ABC News / Associated Press / (Wall Street Journal)

7/ Kushner intervened to help seal a $110 billion arms deal with the Saudis - just in time for Trump's visit to the kingdom this weekend where he hopes to frame it as a symbol of America’s renewed commitment to security in the Persian Gulf. (New York Times)

8/ Trump said he is "very close" to choosing a new FBI director. A senior White House official said the odds of a selection coming today were "better than 50-50." Former Sen. Joe Lieberman is his top choice. (CNN / NBC News)

9/ Trump's attorney didn’t want him to sign his financial disclosure to certify the information was true, because he was filing voluntarily. Trump’s 2016 disclosures will span his general election candidacy, election, and transition to power, which would potentially shed light on the impact his nomination and election had on his Trump Organization. (Associated Press)

10/ Health insurers are planning rate hikes on Obamacare — and they blame Trump. State insurance regulators — both Democrat and Republican — have concluded they cannot count on the Trump administration to help them ensure that consumers will have access to a health plan next year, which is forcing them to make plans to raise premiums to account for the turmoil. (Los Angeles Times)

11/ Nearly 700 positions at the CDC are vacant because of Trump's hiring freeze. Programs supporting local and state public health emergency readiness, infectious disease control and chronic disease prevention are all affected. At least 125 job categories have been blocked from being filled. (Washington Post)

12/ American warplanes attacked a pro-Syrian government convoy, which ignored warnings and violated a restricted zone around a base where US and British Special Forces train rebels to fight the Islamic State. The Syria and its Russian allies condemned the attack, which marked an escalation in hostile US action toward Bashar al-Assad. (New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

13/ Jeff Sessions and the Department of Justice are telling lawyers to stop representing immigrants in deportation proceedings. They're accusing immigrant-rights lawyers of breaking a rule that was put in place to protect people from lawyers who take their money and then drop their case. The cease and desist letter could dissuade law firms from letting their lawyers volunteer for these cases, scaring those firms away by convincing them that immigration-related projects are too risky pro-bono projects. (The Nation)

14/ White House lawyers are researching impeachment procedures in an effort to prepare for what officials believe is a distant possibility that Trump could have to fend off attempts to remove him from office. (CNN)

Day 119: Undisclosed.

1/ The Trump campaign had at least 18 undisclosed contacts with Russians during the last seven months of the election. Six of the previously undisclosed contacts were phone calls between Sergei Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the US, and Trump advisers, including Michael Flynn. (Reuters)

2/ Flynn stopped a military plan Turkey didn't like while being paid $500,000 as its lobbyist. The decision came 10 days before Trump was sworn in as president. Obama’s national security team asked for Trump’s sign-off, since the plan would be executed after Trump had become president. Lawmakers are questioning whether Flynn acted on behalf of a foreign nation when making a military decision, with some going so far as to ask whether it constitutes treason. Flynn also failed to register as a foreign agent, which is a federal crime. (McClatchy)

3/ Flynn told the Trump team he was under investigation for secretly working as a paid lobbyist for Turkey weeks before he came to the White House. Trump made Flynn his national security adviser anyway, giving him access to nearly every secret held by American intelligence agencies. (New York Times)

4/ Trump pressured a “reluctant” Michael Flynn into accepting the national security adviser job even after Flynn warned that he was under investigation over undisclosed lobbying on behalf of a foreign government. Trump has expressed hopes that a resolution of the FBI investigation might allow Flynn to rejoin the White House in some capacity. (The Daily Beast)

  • Trump sends Flynn a message: "stay strong." The two have remained in touch, raising questions about the president’s reported request to James Comey to shut down a federal investigation into Flynn. (Yahoo News)

5/ Trump denies telling Comey to back off the Flynn investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Asked whether he urged Comey to ease up on the Flynn investigation, Trump said at a news conference, "No, no," before ordering the media to move onto the "next question." (Washington Post)

6/ Flynn hasn't responded to a subpoena from the Senate intelligence committee. Legal experts say that it’s unlikely Flynn will agree to turn over the personal documents because he would be waiving his constitutional protection against self-incrimination by doing so. (Washington Post / ABC News)

7/ Trump Tweets: Where was the special counsel for Hillary and Obama? He then called the investigation into his campaign’s links with Russia “the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!” hours after issuing a more muted official statement in coordination with aides. (CNN)

8/ Rod Rosenstein already knew James Comey was going to be fired when he wrote the three-page memo that the White House used to justify firing Comey. Rosenstein learned Comey was being fired on May 8, but the memo is dated May 9 — the day the firing took place. (Politico / Los Angeles Times)

9/ Sean Spicer is no longer expected to do a daily, on-camera briefing, as Trump is frustrated with the way Spicer defends and explains his message. When Trump returns from his foreign trip, Sarah Huckabee Sanders will likely appear at the podium more with Spicer's public role being downsized. (Politico)

10/ NATO critic Stephen Miller is writing Trump's NATO speech. Miller, an anti-globalist, has called the military alliance "incongruent with our current foreign policy challenges." (BuzzFeed News)

11/ Trump notified Congress that he plans to renegotiate NAFTA, which triggers a 90-day consultation period between the administration and Congress. Negotiations with Canada and Mexico can begin as soon as August 16th. Trump has called NAFTA the worst trade deal in history. (New York Times / CNN Money / Washington Post)

Day 118: Hot mess.

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

  • Former Trump aides Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort have emerged as key figures in the FBI's investigation into Russian campaign interference. Multiple grand jury subpoenas and records requests have been issued in connection with the two men. (NBC News)
  • Federal investigators have subpoenaed records for Manafort's $3.5 million mortgage that he took out on his Hamptons home just after leaving the campaign. (NBC News)

2/ The House majority leader told colleagues last year: "I think Putin pays" Trump. Paul Ryan told them not to leak the remarks and swore them to secrecy. (Washington Post)

3/ Jason Chaffetz asked the FBI to turn over all documents it has on Trump and Comey's conversations. The FBI has until May 24 to produce the records before the Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee subpoenas them. Chaffetz said that if the memo exists and accurately reflects the conversation, "that seems like an extraordinary use of influence to try to shut down an investigation being done by the FBI." (NBC News / CNN)

  • Comey’s memos were a product of a culture of note-taking. It is standard for people who work in law enforcement to keep detailed phone and meeting logs. (New York Times)

4/ Senate and House Republicans and Democrats want Comey to testify about his interactions with Trump, including whether Trump tried to obstruct the criminal probe into Michael Flynn. The collective political fallout from the past week “will make it difficult” for Republicans to resist a change in approach, Representative Charlie Dent said. "I think we need to hear from him as soon as possible in public to respond to the issues that have been raised in recent days," Mitch McConnell said. (Politico / Washington Post / (Wall Street Journal)

  • The Senate Intelligence Committee requested that James Comey testify publicly in the wake of his firing by Trump. Sentors Richard Burr and Mark Warner sent a letter asking Comey to testify before their panel in both open and closed sessions. The senators had previously asked Comey to testify in a closed session, but he declined. (Politico)
  • The House Oversight Committee invited Comey to testify next Wednesday. Jason Chaffetz has officially scheduled the hearing and is in the process of trying to connect with Comey. The hearing will be the day the FBI is due to send documents to the oversight panel. (Politico)

5/ Democratic congressman Al Green called for "the impeachment of the President of the United States of America for obstruction of justice." Green said it was the House of Representative's "duty" to take up impeachment. More Republicans and Democrats are starting to talk of the possibility that Trump could face impeachment after reports that he pressed James Comey to end an investigation of Michael Flynn. Representative Justin Amash said if the reports about Trump's pressure on Comey are true, it would merit impeachment. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi both raised concerns about Trump’s action, but avoided the topic of impeachment in their statements responding to the news of Comey’s memo. “At best, President Trump has committed a grave abuse of executive power," Pelosi said. "At worst, he has obstructed justice." Democrats can't impeach Trump without significant Republican support. (CNN / The Hill / BuzzFeed News)

6/ Republicans blocked the Democrats attempt to force a vote on creating a bipartisan congressional commission to investigate Russian interference, how the intelligence community handled the matter, and the Trump administration's involvement. “You’re watching an obstruction of justice investigation developing in real time,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. "If there were ever any question about the need for an independent special prosecutor, this report is the nail on the argument." (New York Times / Washington Post / Reuters)

  • Calls grow for an independent investigation. The deputy Republican whip Adam Kinzinger switched his position for an independent commission or special prosecutor to investigate possible ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia, saying the recent news reports had marked a turning point for him. (NBC News / Washington Post)

7/ Paul Ryan tried to contain the political fallout from the Comey memo by urging members to avoid "rushing to judgment." He called himself "a person who wants to get the facts" and said that "there are some people out there who want to harm the president." (CNN / Washington Post / Politico)

8/ McCain compares Comey memo about his meeting with Trump to Watergate. "The only thing I can say is I think we’ve seen this movie before. I think it's reaching the point where it's of Watergate size and scale," McCain said. His advice to Trump is "the same thing that you advised Richard Nixon, which he didn’t do… get it all out… it’s not going to be over until every aspect of it is thoroughly examined and the American people make a judgment. And the longer you delay, the longer it’s going to last." (ABC News / The Daily Beast)

9/ Putin offers to provide Congress with the transcript to prove Trump didn't pass Russia secrets, turning up the pressure on the White House to provide its own transcript of the meeting. Putin said Russia could hand over a transcript of Trump's meeting with Lavrov, if the Trump administration deemed it appropriate. (Reuters / New York Times / CNN / Washington Post)

  • Adam Schiff: "Last thing" Trump needs "is Putin vouching for him." Schiff called Putin's offer "yet another twist in the road" and said, "all of this gets more baffling every day." (CNN)
  • Senator Susan Collins says Trump needs to "right the ship" and get his "house in order" because "we cannot have this constant chaos" every single day from him. (CNN)

10/ Trump provided Russia with secrets so sensitive that news organizations are being asked not to report it. Trump told the Russian foreign minister and the Russian ambassador that the Islamic State had used stolen airport security equipment to test a bomb that could be hidden in electronic devices. US intelligence officials have asked media organizations not to report on the type of equipment, where it was stolen, and the name of the city where the intelligence was gathered. The intelligence has led to the new rules banning electronic devices in the cabins of certain flights. (NBC News)

11/ Trump: No politician "has been treated worse or more unfairly," warning graduating Coast Guard cadets that life is unfair. (Politico)

12/ Sally Yates disputed Sean Spicer's characterization of her warnings that Flynn could be open to blackmail by Russia as a "heads up." Yates said she expected the White House to act urgently on the information that Flynn had been compromised by his contact with Russian officials prior to Trump's inauguration. (CNN / NBC News)

13/ Members of the Turkish president’s security team breached police lines and attacked protesters outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence in the US. About two dozen demonstrators showed up outside of embassy hours after Erdogan met with Trump and a brawl erupted when Erdogan’s security detail attacked protesters carrying the flag of the Kurdish PYD party. (CNN / The Guardian / New York Times)

14/ The Iran nuclear deal will remain as Trump imposes new penalties over its ballistic missile program. The new sanctions is the latest attempt by the administration to signal its displeasure with Iran while not jettisoning the 2015 nuclear deal. (Politico / New York Times)

15/ Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke accepted a job at the Department of Homeland Security. Clarke has made a name himself for supporting Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration and for patrolling of Muslim neighborhoods. (Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel / Los Angeles Times)

16/ Trump has turned to Corey Lewandowski, Jason Miller, and David Bossie as scandals pile up. The former campaign aides have slid back into his group of advisers as a steady stream of damaging leaks and critical blind quotes that have flowed out of the West Wing. (Politico)

17/ Trump’s education budget calls for deep cuts to public school programs in pursuit of school choice. Funding for college work-study programs would be cut in half, public-service loan forgiveness would end, and hundreds of millions of dollars that public schools could use for mental health and other services would vanish under the plan, which cuts $10.6 billion from federal education initiatives. (Washington Post)

poll/ Trump's approval rating hits a new low: 42% – and that's before claims that he disclosed sensitive information to Russian officials and tried to shut down an FBI investigation into Michael Flynn. (Politico)

Day 117: Undercut. Wow.

1/ Trump asked James Comey to shut down the Michael Flynn investigation in a February memo he wrote shortly after meeting with Trump. “I hope you can let this go," Trump told Comey. The request is the clearest evidence that he tried to directly influence the Justice Department and FBI investigations. Comey kept detailed notes of his meetings with Trump, documenting what he perceived as improper efforts to influence a continuing investigation. An FBI agent’s notes are widely held up in court as credible evidence of conversations. (New York Times)

2/ Trump defended his decision to share ISIS intelligence with Russia, tweeting that he had an “absolute right” to do so in the interest of fighting terrorism. Trump's tweets undercut his administration's effort to contain the report, where Rex Tillerson, H.R. McMaster, and the deputy national security adviser for strategy all called the report that Trump revealed highly classified information to Russia false. The information was considered so sensitive that US officials had not shared it widely within the government or among allies. (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

UPDATE:

Three administration officials conceded that Trump simply did not possess the interest or knowledge of intelligence gathering to leak specific sources and methods that would do harm to United States allies. (New York Times)

  • Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian diplomats during their Oval Office meeting last week, which has jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State. (WTF Just Happened Today)
  • "This is really the nightmare scenario for the intelligence community," a former CIA officer said, and as a result Trump could have hampered the US response to ISIS. (Politico)
  • Initial thoughts on the Washington Post’s game-changing story: It matters who we have running the most powerful institution in the world. (Lawfare)

3/ McMaster backs Trump's sharing of sensitive intelligence with Russians: "It is wholly appropriate for the president to share whatever information he thinks is necessary." He added that Trump "wasn't even aware where this information came from. He wasn't briefed on the source or method of the information either." McMaster refused to confirm whether the information the president shared with the Russians was highly classified. (ABC News / Washington Post / Politico)

4/ Israel was the source of ISIS-related intelligence that Trump shared with Russia last week. Two Israeli officials said that the intelligence shared by Trump "syncs up" with intelligence that shared with its US counterparts. The revelation is Israel's "worst fears confirmed" as it raises the possibility that the information could be passed to Iran, Russia’s close ally and Israel’s main threat in the Middle East. (New York Times / BuzzFeed News / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

5/ CIA Director Mike Pompeo will brief the members of the House intelligence committee today on what Trump discussed with Russian officials last week, following claims that Trump apparently revealed classified information. (CNN)

6/ Republican and Democratic lawmakers to Trump: hand over the transcript of the meeting with the Russians. Members of Congress have spent several days demanding that Trump turn over tapes of White House meetings after he suggested that he records his conversations. Those calls intensified after Trump acknowledged on Twitter that he had shared sensitive information during his meeting with the Russians. White House aides have neither confirmed nor denied the possibility that Trump records his conversations at the White House. (Washington Post)

  • Lawmakers express shock and concern about Trump disclosure of classified information. “They are in a downward spiral right now and have got to figure out a way to come to grips with all that’s happening,” the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee said of the Trump administration. “The chaos that is being created by the lack of discipline is creating an environment that I think makes — it creates a worrisome environment." (Washington Post)

7/ Mitch McConnell called for "less drama" from Trump. "I think it would be helpful if the president spent more time on things we’re trying to accomplish and less time on other things," McConnell said. (Bloomberg)

8/ Trump will disclose some of his personal finances this year, which will likely indicate his personal income, assets, and liabilities. They won't contain details like his tax rate or any charitable donations. (Associated Press)

9/ Paul Manafort took out a $3.5 million mortgage and never paid taxes on it. The former Trump campaign manager took out the mortgage through a shell company just after leaving the campaign and never paid the $36,000 in taxes that would be due on the loan. (NBC News)

10/ Trump to meet with Turkey's president amid differences over the Trump administration's plan to directly arm Kurdish rebels in Syria for the fight against ISIS. Turkey considers the group a terrorist organization, because it maintains ties with a Kurdish revolutionary group inside Turkey. (ABC News)

11/ Gingrich urged Trump to shut down White House press room in order to send a message to the country "that the media is a corrupt institution and [Trump] is tired of being harassed by people whose only interest is making him look bad." (Politico)

poll/ 48% of voters support impeaching Trump compared to 41% that are opposed to the idea. 43% of voters think Trump is actually going to end up serving his full term, while 45% think he won't. 12% aren't sure one way or the other. (Public Policy Polling)

Day 116: Frustrated and angry. Jeopardized.

1/ Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian diplomats during their Oval Office meeting last week, which has jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State. Trump’s decision to disclose information risks cooperation from an ally that has access to the inner workings of the Islamic State. A US official said Trump “revealed more information to the Russian ambassador than we have shared with our own allies.” Trump’s disclosures are not illegal as he has the power to declassify almost anything. But sharing the information without the express permission of the ally who provided it represents a major breach of espionage etiquette, and could jeopardize a crucial intelligence-sharing relationship. (Washington Post / New York Times)

2/ Trump is considering a "huge reboot" that could take out everyone from Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon, to counsel Don McGahn and Sean Spicer. Trump is irritated with several Cabinet members and "frustrated, and angry at everyone." (Axios)

3/ Senate Republicans are looking at steep cuts to Medicaid that could drop millions of people from coverage and reduce programs for the poor. Under pressure to balance the budget, Republicans are considering slashing more than $400 billion in spending on food stamps, welfare, and even veterans’ benefits through a process to evade Democratic filibusters in the Senate. If the Medicaid cutbacks get passed by both chambers, it could significantly scale back the federal-state insurance program that covers 73 million low-income or disabled Americans and shift significant costs onto hospitals and states. (Politico / Wall Street Journal)

4/ James Clapper said that US institutions are under assault from Trump and warned that federal checks and balances are eroding. Former Director of National Intelligence called on the other branches of the federal government to step up in their roles as a check on the executive. (CNN / Associated Press)

  • Republicans and Democrats agree that if Trump has tapes, he’ll need to turn them over to Congress. Lawmakers from both parties said any White House recordings must be preserved for congressional review and that “it’s probably inevitable” that they would be subpoenaed. (Washington Post)

5/ North Korea successfully test-fired a new type of ballistic missile, signaling an advance in their development of an intercontinental ballistic missile program. North Korea said the new "medium long-range" missile is capable of carrying a large nuclear warhead, warning that the United States’ military bases in the Pacific were within its range. (New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Reuters / Associated Press)

  • Putin warns against "intimidating" North Korea after its latest missile launch. Putin called for a peaceful solution to the ongoing tensions on the Korean peninsula and said that Russia is "categorically against the expansion of the club of nuclear states." (CNN)

6/ The 9th Circuit Court will hear the travel ban appeal, again. A three-judge panel will hear a challenge to a Hawaii judge's decision to halt travel ban 2.0. Lawyers at the Justice Department must convince at least two of the judges to ignore Trump's record of campaign calls to ban Muslims from entering the US. (CNN)

7/ Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will brief the full Senate on Thursday about the firing of James Comey. The briefing is classified and will take place in the regular secure room in the Capitol Visitors Center. (CNN / Washington Post)

8/ The Supreme Court rejected an appeal to reinstate North Carolina’s voter identification law, which a lower court said targeted African-Americans “with almost surgical precision.” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. issued a statement noting that there was a dispute about who represented the state in the case and that nothing should be read into the court’s decision to decline to hear it. (Associated Press / Politico / New York Times)

9/ The Dakota Access pipeline has its first leak. The $3.8bn oil pipeline is not yet fully operational, but managed to spill 84 gallons of crude oil. (The Guardian)

10/ White Nationalist Richard Spencer led a torch-bearing group protesting the sale of a statue of Robert E. Lee in Virginia. The group chanted “You will not replace us." Spencer added: “What brings us together is that we are white, we are a people, we will not be replaced." (NPR / Washington Post)

11/ Trump thinks that exercising too much uses up the body’s "finite" energy. Trump mostly gave up athletics after college because he “believed the human body was like a battery, with a finite amount of energy, which exercise only depleted.” (Washington Post)

12/ Comey said he'd be willing to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee, but wants it to be in public. Comey originally declined an invitation from the committee to be interviewed in a closed-door hearing. (New York Times)

13/ Syria is using a crematorium to hide executions, the State Department said. The US believes Syria's "building of a crematorium is an effort to cover up the extent of mass murders taking place in Saydnaya prison." A State Department official said the regime could be killing as many as 50 detainees a day. (CNN / BuzzFeed News / Washington Post)

14/ Senate Republicans are breaking away from Trump as they try to forge a more traditional Republican agenda and protect their political fortunes. Republican senators are drafting a health care bill with little White House input and pushing back on Trump's impending budget request. Many high-ranking Republicans have said they will not support any move by Trump to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement. (New York Times)

poll/ 29% approve of Trump’s firing of James Comey. Trump's job-approval rating stands at 39%. (NBC News)

Day 113: Another fucking Twitter tirade.

1/ In a tweet, Trump threatened to cancel all future press briefings for the "sake of accuracy," saying it's "not possible" to always tell the truth. While the White House can't get its story straight about the firing of FBI director James Comey, Trump has offered his solution: cancel all press briefings. Spicer declined to say whether Trump had decided to stop holding daily news briefings, saying that Trump is “a little dismayed” about the unwillingness of reporters to focus on the policy actions of his administration. (CNN / New York Times / Washington Post)

2/ In a tweet, Trump warned James Comey against leaking to the press, suggesting there are "tapes" of their private conversations. It's unclear if any tapes exist. Regardless, Comey is "not worried about any tapes," a CNN source said, adding that "if there is a tape, there's nothing [Comey] is worried about" that could be on it. (Washington Post / Politico / CNN)

3/ Trump asked for Comey to pledge his loyalty at a private dinner seven days after the inauguration. Comey declined to make the pledge, but instead told Trump that he would always give him "honesty." Trump pressed him on whether it would be "honest loyalty." Comey agreed. Trump claims Comey assured him "three times" that he was not under FBI investigation. (New York Times / NBC News / CNN)

4/ Comey declined to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee. The panel is investigating Russia’s election meddling and allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow. Testifying would have provided Comey a chance to discuss with lawmakers the circumstances of his firing. (Politico)

5/ Sean Spicer won’t say if Trump is taping conversations in the Oval Office. The White House won't deny Trump taped meetings with Comey — or that Trump may be recording conversations in the Oval Office. “The president has nothing further to add on that,” Spicer said, repeating the answer or some variation of it several more times as reporters pressed. (NBC News / New York Times)

6/ Trump shifts his reason for firing Comey to "this Russia thing" being a "made-up story." He labeled it "an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won." (New York Times)

  • Comey's reportedly furious by the lack of respect the White House showed him. Trump called Comey a "showboat" and "a grandstander," and even suggested he was not "competent." (ABC News)

7/ Jeff Sessions directed prosecutors to seek the toughest drug charges for offenders. The new sentencing guidelines roll back an Obama-era policy of avoiding charging nonviolent, less-serious drug offenders with long, mandatory-minimum sentences, and instead revives a Bush-era policy that tasked federal prosecutors with charging "the most serious readily provable offense." (Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / CNN)

8/ The lawyers who said Trump has no ties to Russia was named Russian law firm of 2016. Morgan Lewis tax partners said that a review of Trump's last 10 years of tax returns don't show "any income of any type from Russian sources." Except for some income from the 2013 Miss Universe pageant that was held in Moscow as well as a property sold to a Russian billionaire in 2008 for $95 million. The attorneys did not release copies of Trump’s tax returns. (The Guardian / Associated Press / Reuters)

9/ The EPA may allow a massive gold and copper mine at the headwaters of one of Alaska’s salmon fisheries. The Trump administration will allow a Canadian-owned company to seek a federal permit to build a mine near Bristol Bay. In 2014, the EPA released a study that concluded large-scale mining in the bay posed significant risk to salmon and could adversely affect Alaska Natives in the region. (Associated Press)

10/ Rex Tillerson signed a declaration acknowledging climate change. The move is at odds with the Trump administration's skepticism of climate change and comes at a time when he is weighing a potential withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. The Fairbanks Declaration acknowledges the threat posed by climate change to the Arctic and the need for action to curb its impact on the region. (The Hill)

Day 112: Contradicting the White House.

1/ Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe vowed to report any meddling in the Russia probe and said that the firing of James Comey had not affected the Justice Department’s investigation. McCabe also told the Senate Intelligence Committee that Comey had not lost the confidence of rank-and-file FBI agents, contradicting a claim by the White House. Trump then offered a new version of his decision to fire Comey, saying he would have dismissed him regardless of whether the attorney general and his deputy recommended it. He called Comey a "showboat" and "grandstander," and said that while he never tried to pressure Comey into dropping the FBI probe of the Trump campaign, he did ask Comey whether he was under investigation. (Politico / New York Times / NBC News / ABC News / Reuters)

  • The man now running the FBI just testified that the Trump White House is lying about Comey. McCabe’s statement directly contradicts what White House deputy press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters, when she said Comey was fired because Trump, along with Jeff Sessions, had “lost confidence in him.” Sanders added that “most importantly, the rank and file of the FBI had lost confidence in their director.” (Quartz)
  • White House’s FBI story unravels as Trump undercuts statements from White House officials about the decision to fire Comey, underlining a growing credibility crisis for the administration. (The Hill)
  • Trump contradicted his three top spokespeople and offered a polar-opposite version the White House’s entire Comey narrative. (Washington Post)

2/ Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein threatened to resign after the White House cast him as the prime reason to fire Comey and that Trump acted only on his recommendation. The day before, Trump gave Sessions and Rosenstein a directive: to explain in writing the case against Comey. The next day Trump fired Comey. The White House says it is unaware that the deputy attorney general threatened to quit. (Washington Post / ABC News / BBC News)

UPDATE:

Rosenstein says he's "not quitting." Rosenstein expressed frustration with how the White House used his reputation as cover for how they handled Comey's dismissal. (CNN)

  • Rosenstein pressed the White House to correct the record on the Comey firing, saying he objected to the description of events, and hinted he couldn’t work in an environment where facts weren’t accurately reported. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Rosenstein is expected to brief all senators on Comey firing. The briefing will likely be closed and may be partially classified. (Politico)
  • Rosenstein has requested to meet with the Senate Intelligence Committee. (Politico)

3/ The White House was misled about the role of the Russian photographer and were surprised to see photos posted online showing Trump not only with Sergey Lavrov but also smiling and shaking hands with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Russian officials described the person as Lavrov's official photographer without disclosing that he also worked for Tass, a Russian state-owned news agency. (Washington Post)

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

5/ The Justice Department won’t say whether Jeff Sessions will recuse himself from any part of hiring the next FBI director. In March, Sessions recused himself from investigations concerning the 2016 presidential campaigns. The DOJ declined to comment when asked if that policy would apply at all to the hiring process for the interim FBI director or the future nominee. Sessions has already interviewed candidates for interim FBI director. (BuzzFeed News)

6/ Trump is "very likely" to visit FBI headquarters soon. One intelligence official said that agents are more determined than ever to pursue probes into the alleged Russian interference in the presidential election and that Trump had "essentially declared war on a lot of people at the FBI. I think there will be a concerted effort to respond over time in kind." Separately, Trump will meet with Acting Director Andrew McCabe today to discuss the morale at the FBI. (CNN / Washington Post / CNBC News)

UPDATE:

Trump nixes plan to visit FBI after being told he would not be greeted warmly. The FBI told the White House the optics would not be good and made clear that Trump would not draw many smiles and cheers, having just unceremoniously sacked a very popular director. (NBC News)

7/ Comey refused to preview his Senate testimony for Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who wanted a heads-up about what he would say regarding his handling of an investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server. (Reuters)

8/ Jason Chaffetz asked the inspector general to expand the Russia probe to include Comey's firing. The Trump administration has denied Comey’s firing was related to the FBI’s Russia investigation. (HuffPost / Politico / CNN / Reuters)

9/ Trump admits his White House is too combative. He said it could be his fault, but added that "the only way you survive is to be combative." (Time)

10/ Trump is considering former congressman Mike Rogers to replace James Comey as FBI director. Rogers is a former Intelligence Committee chair and FBI agent. (Bloomberg)

11/ Trump signed an executive order to bolster the government's cyber security. The order seeks to improve the network security of US government agencies, from which hackers have pilfered millions of personal records and other forms of sensitive data in recent years. (Reuters)

12/ Trump will nominate a member of DOJ transition team to be DC's US attorney. The US attorney’s office in Washington has long played a leading role in national security investigations and corruption cases against public officials and federal employees. If confirmed, Jessie Liu is poised to become an important player in both the local and national law enforcement community. (BuzzFeed News)

poll/ 54% think Trump's abrupt dismissal of Comey was not appropriate, while 46% think that Comey was fired due to the Russia investigation. (NBC News)


Perspective.

A sense of crisis deepens as Trump defends his abrupt dismissal of the FBI director. On Capitol Hill, at least a half-dozen Republicans broke with their leadership to express concern or dismay about the firing of Comey. They stopped short of joining Democrats’ call for a special prosecutor to lead the continuing investigation of Russian contacts with Trump’s aides. (New York Times)

Inside Trump’s anger and impatience — and his sudden decision to fire Comey. Trump had long questioned Comey’s loyalty and judgment, and was infuriated by what he viewed as the director’s lack of action in recent weeks on leaks from within the federal government. By last weekend, he had made up his mind: Comey had to go. (Washington Post)

America isn't having a constitutional crisis, but Trump may have just made one more likely in the future. (The Atlantic)

Trump after hours: From where he eats and sleeps, everything is going just great. Now if only everyone else would see it that way. (Time)

After Comey, justice must be served. Congress needs to get serious about holding the president accountable. (Bloomberg)

"Enough was enough": How festering anger at Comey ended in his firing. The collision between Trump and the FBI director culminated with Comey’s stunning dismissal. It had been a long time coming. (New York Times)

Day 111: You're kidding.

UPDATE:

Comey has been invited to testify at a closed Senate Intelligence Committee hearing next week. Democratic Sen. Mark Warner said the invitation went out with Republican committee chairman Sen. Richard Burr's consent. (Reuters / ABC News)

The Senate intelligence committee subpoenas Michael Flynn for documents regarding his interactions with Russian officials. The order went out Wednesday after Flynn's attorneys informed the panel they would not cooperate with the probe unless the former general was granted immunity. The Senate panel first requested the documents on April 28. (Politico / CNN)

1/ Trump met with Putin’s top diplomats at the White House. The talks came one day after Trump fired the FBI Director, who was overseeing an investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. Sergey Lavrov met with Rex Tillerson earlier in the day and sarcastically acknowledged the dismissal of James Comey by saying "Was he fired? You're kidding. You're kidding." The Kremlin said Trump's firing of Comey will have no effect on bilateral relations between the two countries. Trump also met with Sergey Kislyak, a key figure in the Flynn investigation. (Associated Press / Reuters / Washington Post / NPR)

2/ Trump defended firing Comey and said both parties will thank him in an early morning tweetstorm. Trump justified dismissing Comey, saying Democrats and Republicans had lost faith in his leadership due to "scandals." Trump then mocked his critics and suggested that a Democratic senator be investigated after appearing on TV condemning the president’s action. Later, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Comey was dismissed because he committed “atrocities” and that Trump had been considering the decision to fire Comey before his inauguration. Putin weighed in, saying the firing will have "no effect" on US-Russia relations and that Trump acted in accordance with the US law and Constitution. Thanks Putin! (New York Times / Vox / Associated Press / The Daily Beast / CBS News)

  • Sessions was told to find reasons to fire Comey. To justify the decision, Sessions and his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, cited Comey’s handling of the probe into Hillary Clinton’s private email server, which Trump repeatedly promoted during the 2016 campaign. (The Hill)
  • Trump has now fired 3 officials who were investigating his campaign or administration. 10 days into his presidency, Trump fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, who announced that the Justice Department would not defend Trump's travel ban. A month later, Trump fired Preet Bharara, the US attorney for the Southern District of New York, who was investigating Rep. Tom Price, then Trump's nominee for Health and Human Services secretary. Then, on May 9, Trump fired FBI Director James Comey was fired who was leading the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. (Washington Post)
  • Pence praised Trump's decision to fire Comey and insisted the decision wasn't due to the ongoing probe into alleged ties between Trump's campaign and Russia. (CNN)

3/ Days before he was fired, Comey asked for a significant increase in money and personnel for the Russia investigation. Comey asked for the resources during a meeting last week with Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who wrote the Justice Department’s memo used to justify his firing. (New York Times)

4/ Trump also met with Henry Kissinger, Richard Nixon’s national security adviser, less than a day after firing Comey in Nixonian fashion. Kissinger was there to discuss "Russia and various other matters." (Slate)

5/ Mitch McConnell rejected calls for a special prosecutor or independent commission to investigate Russia’s election meddling in the wake of the firing of FBI Director James Comey. The Senate Majority Leader said, "Today we'll no doubt hear calls for a new investigation, which could only serve to impede the current work being done." Democrats exerted pressure on their Republican colleagues, moving to shut down Senate committees, using procedural moves to block or delay hearings on Russia, cybersecurity, presidential nominees and more. (Politico / New York Times)

6/ Federal prosecutors have issued grand jury subpoenas to associates of Michael Flynn seeking business records. The subpoenas represent the first sign of a significant escalation of activity in the FBI's broader Trump-Russia investigation. (CNN / Reuters)

  • Senate Intelligence Chairman threatened to subpoena Trump campaign aides if they ignore deadlines to turn over records. Richard Burr has received just two responses to an initial request for information. The panel has asked a number of Trump campaign aides to provide records, including Page, Roger Stone, Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn. (Politico)

7/ Rudy Giuliani is visiting the White House, but says he's not a candidate for FBI director. A source close to the president confirmed Giuliani was in consideration for the position. Giuliani, hanging out at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., said he was "in town for several business meetings, law firm meetings." (New York Magazine / The Atlantic)

8/ Senate Russia investigators asked the Treasury criminal investigation division for financial information related to Trump, his top officials and his campaign aides. Sen. Mark Warner said they made the request to FinCEN, the federal agency that has been investigating allegations of foreign money-laundering through purchases of US real estate. (CNN)

9/ The Senate failed to revoke Obama-era methane rules. The measure would have given oil and gas companies a reprieve from methane emission rules on federal land. The defeat is a blow to oil and natural gas drillers who had made this a top priority. (Reuters / Bloomberg)

10/ The Census Bureau director resigns as the agency faces a funding debate over the 2020 Census. Congress wants the cost of the 2020 count to not exceed the cost of the 2010 count, the bureau wanting to implement a new system that relies more on electronic data collection, which was promoted as a cost-saving measure. (NPR / Washington Post)

11/ A West Virginia journalist was arrested after asking HHS Secretary Tom Price a question. Dan Heyman was charged with willful disruption of governmental processes, a misdemeanor, for allegedly causing a disturbance and yelling questions at federal leaders in town. (WSAZ News)

12/ Students booed and turned their backs on Betsy DeVos as she gave the keynote address at a historically black university. The speech was part of an effort by Trump and DeVos to reach out to historically black schools. Students and alumni said that outreach is an empty gesture. (Washington Post)

poll/ Trump's first 100 days have been "mainly a failure," 58% of voters say. (Quinnipiac)

poll/ Just 36% of voters approve of Trump's job performance. His disapproval rating rose to 58%. (Quinnipiac)

Day 110: Finger pointing. Fired.

1/ Trump fired James Comey on the recommendation of Jeff Sessions. In a letter dated Tuesday to Comey, Trump concurred "with the judgment of the Department of Justice that [Comey is not] able to effectively lead the bureau."

Earlier today, the FBI notified Congress that Comey misstated key findings involving the Clinton email investigation during testimony, saying that only a "small number" of emails had been forwarded to disgraced congressman Anthony Weiner, not the "hundreds and thousands" he’d claimed in his testimony.

The move sweeps away the man who is responsible for the investigation into whether members of Trump's campaign team colluded with Russia in its interference in last year's election.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein laid out the reasons for Comey's firing, arguing that the handling of his investigation into Clinton's private server, his decision not to recommend charges be filed, and the news conference he held to explain his reasoning were the cause of his dismissal.

Democrats reacted with shock and alarm, accusing Trump of ousting the FBI director to escape scrutiny over his campaign’s Russia ties.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer urged deputy Rosenstein to appoint a special prosecutor for the federal probe into the Trump campaign’s ties with Russian officials — warning that failing to do so will lead the public to “rightly suspect” that Comey’s surprise firing “was part of a cover-up.” (Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / CNN / Politico)

  • "Today will mark a new beginning for our crown jewel of law enforcement," Trump says in a statement. (Politico)
  • At the Pentagon, the news of Comey's firing was met with shock and a sense of foreboding that similar sudden change could befall their agency or department. (BuzzFeed News)
  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein recommended Comey's removal. (CNBC News)
  • The attorney general will likely name an interim FBI Director in the coming days while the search is on for a permanent replacement. The acting FBI Director is Andrew McCabe, who was Comey's deputy prior to his firing. (ABC News)
  • A timeline of James Comey's consequential final months as FBI director. (CNBC News)
  • Here’s how unusual it is for an FBI director to be fired. (Washington Post)

2/ Trump is preparing a certified letter attesting he has no ties to Russia. Senator Lindsey Graham said he wants to explore possible ties between Trump's businesses and Russia. US intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia interfered in the election in attempt to help Trump. (Bloomberg)

3/ James Comey’s testimony on Huma Abedin forwarding thousands of emails was inaccurate. The FBI hasn’t decided how to correct the director’s false claim. Abedin forwarded a handful of Clinton emails to her husband for printing — not the “hundreds and thousands” cited by Comey. (ProPublica)

  • Comey overstated key findings involving the Hillary Clinton email investigation during testimony to Congress last week. None of the forwarded emails were marked classified, but a small number contained information that was later judged to contain classified information. (Washington Post)

4/ Trump pointed the finger at Obama for failing to vet Flynn. At the time Flynn was fired, he had an interim clearance in order to allow him to do his job while he waited for his CIA clearance. The concerns about Flynn came after US intelligence realized he was discussing sanctions with the Russians and then misleading US officials about the nature of his conversations. He didn't disclose his payment from RT to government officials until after he was fired by Trump. (Washington Post)

  • Sean Spicer weighed in, suggesting that Obama's advice was taken with a grain of salt because Flynn "was an outspoken critic of President Obama's shortcomings." (Washington Post)
  • Obama warned then-President-elect Trump in November against hiring Michael Flynn as his national security adviser. (WTF Just Happened Today: Day 109)
  • How the White House explained waiting 18 days to fire Flynn. Here are the various explanations he and other administration officials have given in the past. (New York Times)

5/ Sean Spicer downplayed Sally Yates’ warnings about former Michael Flynn, calling her little more than a Democratic appointee with an agenda against Trump. Yates testified yesterday that the Justice Department believed Flynn had been “compromised” and was susceptible to blackmail after misleading Mike Pence about his discussions with the Russian ambassador to the US. (Politico)

6/ Wisconsin’s voter-ID law suppressed 200,000 votes in the 2016 election. Trump won by 22,748 votes. A new study by Priorities USA shows that strict voter-ID laws, in Wisconsin and other states, led to a significant reduction in voter turnout in 2016, with a disproportionate impact on African-American and Democratic-leaning voters. (The Nation)

7/ The US is poised to expand military efforts against the Taliban in Afghanistan. Trump’s most senior military and foreign policy advisers have proposed a major shift in strategy in Afghanistan that would effectively put the United States back on a war footing with the Taliban. The plan would add at least 3,000 troops to the existing force of about 8,400. The US force would also be bolstered by requests for matching troops from NATO nations. (Washington Post)

  • The US weighs sending as many as 5,000 more troops to Afghanistan. Trump, however, is still deciding on a variety of options being presented to him by military leaders. The current force in Afghanistan is about 8,400. (NBC News)

8/ Trump authorized limited arming of Syrian Kurds to help in the fight against ISIS and includes small arms, machine guns and armored vehicles. The move that has long been under consideration at the Pentagon but has been delayed due to strong opposition from American NATO ally Turkey. (CNN / NBC News)

9/ White House advisers postponed their meeting to decide US participation in the Paris Climate Agreement. Trump's key advisers are divided over whether he should keep his campaign promise to pull the United States out of the Paris agreement, which won the backing of 195 nations in 2015. Trump is expected to make a final decision on whether to withdraw sometime this month. (Reuters / Politico)

10/ An Iowa congressman abruptly ended a TV interview and then walked into an angry town hall meeting. He was unhappy with questions about who would be allowed into the series of town hall events he is holding this week in his district. A few hours later, he showed up at his town hall meeting where most of the prescreened audience screamed at him because of his vote on the House Obamacare repeal bill. (Politico / Washington Post)

11/ The Trump administration cited a segregation-era ruling to defend its travel ban. In 1971, the Supreme Court decided that courts shouldn’t investigate the motivations of officials who closed public pools in Jackson, Mississippi, rather than integrate them. (HuffPost)

12/ Trump Photoshopped a tweet denying collusion with Russia into his Twitter header. During Senate testimony yesterday, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said he was not aware of any evidence that proves there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Trump has since changed his Twitter header to a picture without the Photoshopped tweet. (New York Magazine / The Guardian)

13/ Mitch McConnell stacks the Senate Republican working group on health care with 13 conservative men – but no women. The working group includes the party’s top leaders, as well as three committee chairmen and two of the most conservative senators, Ted Cruz and Mike Lee. (New York Times / Los Angeles Times)

14/ Trump's review of Dodd-Frank will not be completed by early June as originally targeted. Instead, officials will report findings piece-by-piece, with priority given to banking regulations. In February, Trump ordered Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to review the law and report back within 120 days, saying his administration expected to be cutting large parts of it. (Reuters)

15/ Trump's team marks its 6-month election anniversary by vowing to air video of the Clinton campaign's concession call. The White House director of social media tweeted a screen grab of the late night phone call where Hillary Clinton conceded to Trump and promised to share video of the conversation. (Yahoo)

16/ Republicans are struggling to recruit Senate challengers in states where Trump won. In Wisconsin and Michigan, Republicans have passed on challenging Democrats due to Trump's approval ratings. (ABC News)

Day 109: Warned.

1/ Obama warned then-President-elect Trump in November against hiring Michael Flynn as his national security adviser. Obama, who had fired Flynn as the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told Trump that he would have profound concerns about Flynn becoming a top national security aide. Trump hired Flynn anyway, only to fire him 24 days later when news broke that Flynn had lied to Mike Pence about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States, amid an ongoing investigation into connections between the Russian government and the Trump campaign. The warning, which has not been previously reported, came less than 48 hours after the November election when the two sat down for a 90-minute conversation in the Oval Office. (CNN / New York Times / NBC News)

2/ Sally Yates said she warned the White House that Flynn could be "blackmailed" by Russia, and gave the White House a warning "so that they could take action." The former acting attorney general's testimony raises questions about how Trump responded to her concerns about Flynn, who wasn't fired until two weeks later. Former director of national intelligence James Clapper also testified, saying Russia launched “cyber operations” against the Democratic and Republican parties during the 2016 presidential campaign. He said Putin sought to “advantage” Trump’s campaign and confirmed that British intelligence officials shared “very sensitive” information about Russian connections to Trump’s campaign. (Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News)

  • Flynn was warned by the Trump transition team about the risks of his contacts with the Russian ambassador weeks before the December call that led to Flynn’s forced resignation. Officials were so concerned that Flynn did not fully understand the motives of the Russian ambassador that the head of Trump’s national security council transition team asked Obama administration officials for a classified CIA profile of Kislyak. The document was delivered within days, but it is not clear that Flynn ever read it. (Washington Post)
  • Flynn never told the Defense Intelligence Agency that Russians paid him. Flynn was paid nearly $34,000 by a Russian state media outlet when the DIA renewed his security clearance in April 2016. (NBC News)

  • Sally Yates testified today before the Senate Judiciary subcommittee investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The hearing was Yates’s first appearance on Capitol Hill since her firing in January and is expected to fill in details about what and when she told the Trump White House in regard to Michael Flynn's ties to Russia. (CNN / Associated Press / Washington Post)
  • Hearing may shed light on what White House knew about Flynn. (New York Times)

3/ Trump's revised travel ban goes before a federal appeals court today. The 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals will examine the ruling that blocks the administration from temporarily barring new visas for citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. It’s the first time an appeals court will hear arguments on the revised travel ban, which is likely destined for the Supreme Court. If the court sides with Trump, the travel ban will remain blocked unless the president also wins in another appeals court: the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will meet next Monday to hear arguments in that case. (Associated Press / CNN)

4/ Trump's call for a Muslim ban was deleted from his campaign site shortly after Sean Spicer was pressed on why the plan was still there by a reporter. The site had a press release from then-candidate Trump's call for the "total and complete shutdown" of Muslims entering the US until the government could "figure out what is going on." A US district court judge in March said he found "the history of public statements continues to provide a convincing case that the purpose of the second executive order remains the realization of the long-envisioned Muslim ban." The Trump administration has argued that the order is not a Muslim ban, but rather a travel ban. (CNN / Washington Post)

5/ The EPA dismissed half of its scientific advisers on a review board, which provides guidance on whether research has sufficient rigor and integrity. The move, which Scott Pruitt cited as his desire to make a “clean break” with the Obama administration, came as a surprise to members of the board, who had been informed both in January and recently by EPA career staff members, that they would be kept on for another term. (Washington Post / New York Times)

6/ Trump expressed his "unwavering support" for historically black colleges after the White House announced that it would treat a program that helps HBCUs get low-cost loans “in a manner consistent with the (Constitutional) requirement to afford equal protection of the laws.” (Washington Post)

7/ Macron wins French presidency, bringing relief to European allies who had feared another populist upheaval would follow Britain's vote to quit the EU and Trump's election. Macron won 66% of the votes compared to just under 34% for Le Pen - a gap wider than the 20 or so percentage points that pre-election surveys had suggested. (Reuters)

  • Macron faces many domestic challenges in translating his centrist promises into policy. He laid the groundwork Monday for his transition to power, announcing a visit to Germany and a name change for his political movement and appearing with his predecessor at a solemn World War II commemoration. (New York Times / Associated Press)
  • The French National Front will change its name after Le Pen’s defeat. The far-right leader said that her party would undergo a “profound transformation” after its heavy loss to Emmanuel Macron. (Politico)

8/ An Idaho congressman told his constituents "nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care." The republican representative drew criticism after a town hall where he responded to a question suggesting that the lack of health care was essentially asking people to die. (Idaho Statesman)

9/ The Texas governor signed a “sanctuary cities” ban into law while broadcasting on Facebook Live. The measure threatens law-enforcement officials with jail time if they don’t cooperate with federal agencies in cracking down on undocumented immigrants. Dubbed a “Show Me Your Papers” law, it allows police to inquire about a person’s immigration status, which has been condemned by Democrats and human-rights groups as legalized discrimination. (Texas Observer)

10/ Kushner’s sister is promising Chinese investors a path toward US residency in exchange for putting $500,000 into a New Jersey real-estate project. She cited the EB-5 immigrant investor visa program to make her pitch, though critics have accused organizers of the event of playing up their ties to the White House. (New York Times)

  • Jared Kushner's family apologized for name dropping in its pitch to Chinese investors. Nicole Kushner Meyer mentioned the name of Trump’s son-in-law when seeking more than $150m from wealthy Chinese for New Jersey real estate project. (The Guardian)

11/ Obama called on members of Congress to exercise the “political courage” to save the Affordable Care Act. In his first public comments about the law since the House voted to repeal it, Obama urged Republicans to be guided by a personal standard of ethics and integrity. "It takes great courage to champion the vulnerable and the sick and the infirm." (NPR / Politico)

12/ Trump has privately expressed regret with his choice of national security adviser, complaining during intelligence briefings about General H.R. McMaster "undermining" of his policy and screaming at McMaster on a phone call, accusing him of undercutting efforts to get South Korea to pay its fair share. On policy, Steve Bannon is convinced McMaster is trying to trick Trump into the kind of nation building that he campaigned against, while Reince Priebus is blocking McMaster on a key appointment. (Bloomberg)

13/ White House advisors asked Canadians to call Trump to talk him down from scrapping NAFTA. Staff reached out to the Canadian Prime Minister's office to get Justin Trudeau to call Trump and lobby for NAFTA in what the paper calls with some understatement an "unconventional diplomatic manoeuvre." (National Post / Axios)

Day 106: An uncertain fate.

1/ Hospitals, doctors, and insurers are united in their criticism of the Republican health care bill and are urging significant changes to the legislation. The bill’s impact could potentially cause millions to lose coverage through a combination of deep cuts to Medicaid, scaled back employer-sponsored health care, lifetime limits on coverage, and rising costs for people with pre-existing conditions that could effectively price them out of the market. (New York Times)

  • Republicans claimed a major victory on the health care vote even as the measure faces an uncertain fate in the Senate. Under pressure to make good on their promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, Republicans pushed the bill through after adopting a last-minute change that earned it just enough votes to pass. However, the House version fell significantly short of the GOP’s long-held goals of an outright repeal. (Washington Post)

2/ The Senate GOP rejects the House Obamacare bill. Senate Republicans say they’ll take the time they need to understand the bill’s ramifications and will insist on getting a score from the Congressional Budget Office before voting, unlike the House. The Senate needs to end up with a bill that can win over 50 of the 52 GOP senators. And even if they accomplish that, the Senate bill could be unpalatable to House conservatives, which squeaked through on a 217-213 vote. (Politico)

  • The Senate moves the House Obamacare repeal to the slow lane as recent changes to the measure complicate its path in Senate. (Bloomberg)

3/ Health care looks to be the defining issue in the next election cycles. GOP members of Congress will be asked to defend their votes for a bill that could strip insurance from 24 million Americans and jack up premiums and deductibles for the country’s sickest and oldest citizens in the 2018 midterms. Meanwhile, governors, gubernatorial candidates, and state legislators will be asked whether they intend to “opt out” of provisions in the Affordable Care Act that are overwhelmingly popular with voters. (Washington Post)

4/ Trump praised Australia's universal health care system hours after the Obamacare repeal, saying America's new plan is "going to be fantastic health care." Australia's universal health care system gives citizens free access to doctors and public hospitals paid for by the government. (CNN)

  • Trump Tweets: "Everybody" has better healthcare than US. His latest comments appear to contradict his own spokeswoman, who said that Trump "was simply being complimentary of the prime minister and I don’t think it was much more than that" after saying Australians have better healthcare than we do. (The Hill)
  • Trump called his relationship with Australia'a prime minister "fantastic" following a meeting in New York. It was their first encounter since an acrimonious phone call in February where relations were strained due to Trump's reluctance to honor a deal to accept up to 1,200 refugees from Australian detention camps. (BBC)
  • Trump admits to his "testy" phone call with the Australian prime minister, but still calls it "fake news." (Washington Post)

5/ The US added 211,000 new jobs in April as the unemployment rate hits a 10-year low. The unemployment rate was 4.4%, the lowest in more than 10 years, however labor participation fell slightly to 62.9% – a signal that workers who had been sidelined are not being drawn back into the labor market. Outdated skills and the inability to move to a place where jobs are available may be preventing some people who would like to work from getting back into the labor market. (New York Times)

6/ North Korea accused the US and South Korea of an unsuccessful assassination attempt involving biochemical weapons. The alleged plan resembles the assassination earlier this year of Kim Jong Un’s exiled half brother. That attack, using the chemical war agent VX, was widely blamed on North Korea and led to calls in the United States to relist the North as a state sponsor of terrorism. (Associated Press)

7/ The White House fired its chief usher — the first woman and second African American to hold the position. The chief usher oversees all activities in the White House residence and works as general manager of the building. The job is one that typically involves a long tenure — there have been just nine since the beginning of the 20th century. (Washington Post)

8/ Refugee admissions plummet under Trump's threats to bar their entry. The US accepted 2,070 refugees in March, the lowest monthly total since 2013, and 3,316 in April, the second-lowest total since 2013. (USA Today)

9/ A New York GOP congressman admits he didn't read the health care bill and was unaware the bill would nix funding for a health care program in his state. The AHCA would eliminate the Essential Plan option, which provides New York with $3 billion annually for a program that offers benefits for low-income residents who do not qualify for Medicaid. (Talking Points Memo / The Buffalo News)

10/ The Senate asks Trump associates for records of communication with Russians in an effort to accelerate its broad investigation into Russian meddling in the presidential election. Roger Stone, Carter Page, Paul Manafort, and Michael T. Flynn were all sent requests. (New York Times)

11/ Trump’s fiscal 2018 budget would cut about 95% of funding for the drug control office, effectively ending its mission as the lead agency in charge of combating opioid and drug epidemics. (Politico)

12/ Trump's pick for Army Secretary has withdrawn his name from consideration after offending both the LGBTQ and Muslim communities with comments and policy positions seen as offensive and discriminatory – including comparing transgender people to ISIS militants. (NBC News)

Day 105: Health care?

1/ House Republicans narrowly passed the controversial health care bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The vote passed 217-213 six weeks after House leaders failed to get the votes needed to pass an earlier version of their bill. The bill included last-minute amendments designed to draw votes from the most conservative House Republicans in the House Freedom Caucus as well as from their more moderate counterparts. The vote occurred before the Congressional Budget Office had released a new analysis of the revised bill with its cost and impact. The measure moves to the Senate, where its fate is far from certain. Democrats are confident that some provisions of the House bill will not comply with special budget rules that Republicans must follow in order to skirt a Senate filibuster. (Washington Post / NPR / New York Times)

UPDATE:

What's actually in the GOP health care bill. (Politico)

Obstacles await the Republican health care bill in the Senate. Here’s what the Senate might do to change it. (Vox)

  • How every member voted on the House health care bill. (New York Times)
  • The Obamacare replacement bill would protect just 5% of people with pre-existing conditions. The Republican bill would potentially allow insurers to charge sick people higher premiums. To offset those costs, the bill also allocates funding for financial aid for sicker people. High-risk pools in states before Obamacare tended not to cover enough people. (CNBC)
  • Democrats troll House Republicans and sang "nah nah nah nah, hey hey hey, goodbye" to their GOP colleagues after the American Health Care Act passed. (Washington Post)
  • House Republicans plan health care vote today with few votes to spare and no assessment of how much it will cost. Republicans insist they've secured the 216 votes needed to pass their bill. About 15 Republicans are still on record rejecting the proposal and several others are undecided. House leaders can afford only 22 defections, since Democrats will vote en masse against the proposal. The measure to repeal Obamacare is still opposed by health care providers, patient advocates, and retirees. (Politico / New York Times / Associated Press / Reuters)
  • Watch the House session. The House took up the Republican replacement bill for the Affordable Care Act. (CSPAN)
  • What to know about today's House health care vote. The House will vote on this version of the Affordable Care Act replacement without a Congressional Budget Office estimate, and therefore no idea what it costs, how many people it might help, or how many it might hurt. (Axios)

2/ A last-minute amendment to the health care bill will allow states to waive 10 essential benefits and potentially impact everyone not insured by Medicare or small-business plans. People who obtain health insurance through their employers could be at risk of losing protections that limit out-of-pocket costs for catastrophic illnesses, maternity care, prescription drugs, mental health treatment, and hospitalization. (Wall Street Journal)

  • Sexual assault could be considered a pre-existing condition under the new MacArthur-Meadows amendment, which allows states to discriminate based on medical history. In addition to rape, postpartum depression, cesarean sections, and surviving domestic violence are all considered preexisting conditions. Companies can also deny coverage for gynecological services and mammograms. (New York Magazine)
  • The GOP health bill will cut special education funding by 25%. The $880 billion in cuts over the next 10 years would effectively "convert Medicaid from an entitlement designed to cover any costs incurred to a more limited program.” Republicans say the cuts are necessary due to skyrocketing health care costs. (New York Times)

3/ Several Senate Republicans said they will set aside the House health-care bill and write their own version instead. Without changes, the House bill arrives in the Senate well short of the 50 votes it needs to pass (including a tie-breaking vote by Mike Pence). Republicans have hold a 52-48 majority in the Senate, which means they can only afford to lose two votes. The bill is expected to undergo major changes that might leave it unrecognizable, including stripping away the provisions that earned the support of hard-right House members to secure its passage. Senate Republicans have opted to use a maneuver known as reconciliation to try to pass the bill with a simple majority, instead of having to clear the 60-vote threshold that is required for most legislation. (Bloomberg / New York Times / Washington Post)

4/ Health care bill will exempt members of Congress and their staffs from losing popular Obamacare provisions. The amendment would ensure that staffers continue to have access to Obamacare programs, like a ban on discriminating based on preexisting conditions, while other enrollees could lose those policies if their state applied for a waiver. A Republican legislator has vowed to close the loophole in separate legislation. (The Hill / Vox) [Editor's note: This was amended by H.R. 2192, which eliminated the non-application of certain State waiver provisions to Members of Congress and congressional staff.]

5/ Tillerson is asking State Department employees to weigh in on the agency's budget cuts. The Trump administration wants to cut State Department budget by 26% for "efficiency improvements." (CNN / CBS News)

  • Tillerson said that the US had been too accommodating to emerging nations and longtime allies and that “things have gotten out of balance.” Fulfilling Trump’s promise to put “America first" will right those imbalances. (New York Times)

6/ Sean Spicer debates the press over the definition of a wall. Spicer got into a heated back-and-forth with a Breitbart correspondent after he asked whether the Trump administration had lied to the public when he promised to build a concrete wall along the southern border, only to downgrade his proposal to a series of fence-like boundaries. The issue is over the definition of whether a “levee wall” or a “bollard wall” is more of a fence than a wall. (The Guardian)

7/ Trump called out Susan Rice for refusing to testify before a Senate committee investigating both Russian meddling in the 2016 election and allegations of Obama-era spying on Team Trump. Rice’s lawyer said she was declining to appear because the ranking Democratic member on the subcommittee did not agree Rice should testify, thereby making the request “a significant departure from the bipartisan invitations extended to other witnesses.” (Fox News)

  • Susan Rice declined to testify before Senate subcommittee on Russian hacking. Republicans have raised concerns that Rice may have acted improperly, but GOP and Democratic lawmakers so far have found no evidence of wrongdoing. (CNN / Politico)

8/ Border agents are wrongly telling asylum-seekers that the US won't take them. Customs and Border Protection said its policies haven’t changed and it’s adhering to the law, but more than 100 individuals and families seeking safety were turned away by border agents from November to April. (HuffPost)

9/ Trump signed an order aimed at allowing churches to engage in more political activity. The executive order would provide "regulatory relief" from the Affordable Care Act's requirement that health insurance cover birth control and other family planning services. The signing took place on the National Day of Prayer. (Politico / Washington Post)

10/ Trump attacks "fake news media" while congratulating Fox News for its high ratings. It's not clear what provoked Trump’s criticism of the media on Twitter this morning. (Politico)

11/ The Senate passed the $1 trillion spending deal to avert a government shutdown. The spending bill funds the federal government through September. (Politico)

Day 104: Nauseous.

1/ James Comey said he’s "mildly nauseous" at the suggestions he swayed the election. The FBI director defended his "painful" decision on the Clinton email probe during testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee today. "This was terrible," Comey said. "But honestly, it wouldn't change the decision," because failing to inform Congress would have required an “act of concealment" which would have been "catastrophic." Comey added that Russia is actively involved in trying to influence US politics, emboldened after the outcome of last year's election, because "this works." (New York Times / Politico / Associated Press / CNN / CBS News)

  • Comey says classified Clinton emails were forwarded to Anthony Weiner. (Washington Post / CNN)

2/ A pair of Republican holdouts now back the health care bill. The latest proposal provides $8 billion over five years to help about 160,000 people with pre-existing medical conditions afford coverage by putting "downward pressure" on premium costs. The total individual market claims over those five years will probably be about $500 billion, mostly from people with pre-existing conditions. Republicans are still two or three votes away from being able to guarantee passage, but are pushing for a vote sometime this week. (Bloomberg / Associated Press / New York Times / Axios / Washington Post)

UPDATE:

House Republicans plan to vote on their health care plan Thursday. They said they would hold a vote this week only if they felt certain it could pass — meaning they now believe they have the votes. If it passes, it will then face a challenge in the Senate, where widespread disagreement remains among Republicans about how to proceed on health care. (Washington Post)

  • The House doesn't know how many people the health care plan will cover or how much it will cost. The bill to repeal and replace Obamacare hasn't been scored by the Congressional Budget Office, yet. (Vox)

3/ Trump’s national security adviser described his foreign policy approach as "disruptive." H.R. McMaster said Trump’s unpredictable and unconventional ways could stabilize the Middle East, because Trump “does not have time to debate over doctrine.” Instead, he seeks to challenge failed policies of the past with a businessman’s results-oriented approach. (Reuters)

4/ Trump weighs how to approach a Middle East conflict while hosting Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas at the White House today. The conflict has eluded resolution for seven decades. Trump called it the “ultimate deal" and has tasked Jared Kushner with negotiating the peace agreement. (Bloomberg / NBC News)

  • Trump vowed to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace, but offers no new policies. (Reuters)

5/ Trump was "directly involved" in the post-inauguration hunt for the rogue National Park Service tweeter. A Freedom of Information Act request revealed that Trump was "concerned" about who used the National Park Service Twitter account to retweet a side-by-side comparisons of the crowds at the Trump and Obama inauguration ceremonies. The tweet was deleted. (CBS News)

6/ Trump is expected to sign a long-awaited and highly controversial executive order on religious liberties on Thursday – the National Day of Prayer. A draft of the order, which leaked in February, would establish broad exemptions and legal protections for people and groups to claim religious objections. Civil liberties groups claim it would allow for discrimination against LGBT Americans. (Politico / Fox News / CNN / New York Times)

7/ The NSA collected more than 151 million records of Americans' phone calls last year, despite Congress limiting its ability to collect bulk phone records. Under the old system, the NSA collected “billions of records per day." (NBC News / New York Times)

8/ Ben Carson is not a fan of comfortable government housing projects for low-income Americans. Compassion, Carson explained, means not giving people “a comfortable setting that would make somebody want to say: ‘I’ll just stay here. They will take care of me.’” As he toured facilities for the poor in Ohio last week, Carson nodded as officials explained how they had stacked dozens of bunk beds inside a homeless shelter and purposefully did not provide televisions. (New York Times)

9/ Spicer: It’s "somewhat sad" we’re still debating why Trump won. The press secretary hit back at Hillary Clinton's assertion that she would have won if not for late-in-the-game interference from the FBI and WikiLeaks, saying “you don’t get to pick what day the election is on.” (Politico)

  • David Axelrod on Clinton: "It takes a lot of work to lose to Donald Trump." The Democratic strategist add that "Jim Comey didn't tell her not to campaign in Wisconsin after the convention. Jim Comey didn't say don't put any resources into Michigan until the final week of the campaign." His advice to Clinton is to move on and stop talking about the election. (The Hill)
  • The Comey letter probably cost Clinton the election. The impact of Comey’s letter, at a maximum, might have shifted the race by 3 or 4 percentage points toward Trump, swinging Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Florida to him, perhaps along with North Carolina and Arizona. At a minimum, its impact might have been only a percentage point or so. Clinton lost Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin by less than 1 point. Meaning, the letter was probably enough to change the outcome of the Electoral College. (FiveThirtyEight)

10/ Susan Rice declined to testify before the Senate subcommittee on Russian hacking. Republicans have raised concerns that Rice may have acted improperly, but GOP and Democratic lawmakers so far have found no evidence of wrongdoing. (CNN / Politico)

Day 103: Floundering.

1/ House Republicans are floundering on the Obamacare repeal as 20 Republicans have now opposed the plan. Paul Ryan can only lose 22 votes and still pass the bill. With the 20 lawmakers against the bill, GOP leaders would have to persuade almost every undecided lawmaker to support the legislation in order to reach the 216-vote threshold needed for passage. Republicans insist they're close. If only two more members come out as "No" votes, there will be no majority to pass the bill. (Politico / CNN)

  • An influential Republican attacked the party’s latest health care bill, saying the measure now “torpedoes” protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions. (New York Times)

2/ Trump: The US "needs a good shutdown" in September to fix the Senate "mess." He's frustrated by Senate rules that require a 60 vote supermajority to approve most major legislation. Trump's solution is to either elect more Republican senators in the 2018 midterms, “or change the rules now to 51%" and scrap the legislative filibuster althogether. Congress is poised to approve a budget to fund the government through September, but it doesn't include several provisions sought by Trump, including funding for a border wall and language for stripping federal money from so-called sanctuary cities. (The Hill / New York Times / ABC News / CNN)

  • McConnell shoots down Trump's call to end the filibuster. (The Hill)

3/ Hillary Clinton – describing herself as "part of the resistance" – criticized Trump’s conduct in office, his foreign policy, and for posting on Twitter. She also said that Trump “should worry less about the election and my winning the popular vote” than about urgent matters of policy confronting the country. While Clinton said she took “absolute personal responsibility” for her defeat, she said she believed she would have won if not for Russian meddling and Comey's surprise announcement. (New York Times)

4/ Sally Yates is expected to contradict the administration's version of events surrounding Michael Flynn. The former acting attorney general is prepared to testify before a Senate panel next week that she gave a forceful warning to the White House that Flynn's was lying when he denied in public and private that he had discussed US sanctions on Russia in conversations with a Russian Ambassador, which made him potentially vulnerable to being compromised by Russia. (CNN)

5/ The South Korea THAAD missile defense system is now operational. The system is meant to protect South Korea from ballistic missiles fired by North Korea, but China and other critics say the move will only increase tensions on the Korean Peninsula. (NPR)

6/ Trump's attack on Syria was "in lieu of after-dinner entertainment" for the guests dining at Mar-a-Lago the US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross said. Trump interrupted dessert to tell Chinese President Xi about the cruise missile attack. The "entertainment didn’t cost the president anything." (The Guardian / CNN)

7/ Trump puts antiabortion activist in charge of family planning funding for poor Americans and those without health insurance. About 4 million Americans receive family planning coverage through the Title X program, and the majority of them are low-income and people of color. (Washington Post)

8/ Putin said allegations that Russia had meddled in the US election were based on rumors and that Moscow did not want foreign powers to interfere in Russian politics. He blamed the allegations on the result of domestic US political battles. (Reuters)

  • South Korea’s likely next president warned the US not to meddle in its democracy. (Washington Post)

9/ A Republican congressman implied that people with pre-existing health conditions aren’t living their lives “the right way.” After catching himself, Brooks quickly conceded that people with pre-existing conditions may have them “through no fault of their own.” (The Daily Beast)

10/ Pro-Trump farmers now worry he was serious about the NAFTA repeal. Corn, soybean, and dairy farmers are worried that Trump's rhetoric could directly impact their narrow margins. The same rural communities that animated Trump's campaign, would feel the brunt of the changes to the trade deal. (CNN)

  • Here are the 23 environmental rules Trump has rolled back. Citing federal overreach and burdensome regulations, Trump has prioritized domestic fossil fuel interests and undone measures aimed at protecting the environment and limiting global warming. (New York Times)

11/ Trump keeps praising international strongmen, alarming human rights advocates. He praised the Egyptian president for doing “a fantastic job" on gunning down his opponents, invited Thailand’s prime minister to the White House who jailed dissidents after he took power in a coup, and congratulated Turkey's president after eroding basic freedoms. (Washington Post)

12/ Jared Kushner didn’t disclose his stake in a company that makes him a business partner with Goldman Sachs, George Soros, and Peter Thiel. Kushner is currently a part-owner of a real-estate finance startup and has a number of loans from banks on properties he co-owns, but didn’t identify these on his government financial disclosure form. (Wall Street Journal)

Day 102: Bizarre.

1/ Congress reached a deal to keep the government open through September. The plan would add billions for the Pentagon and border security, but it doesn't allow the money to be spent on building Trump's wall. There is no money provided for a deportation force and there are no cuts of federal monies to so-called sanctuary cities. Votes in both chambers are expected by the end of the week. (CNN)

2/ North Korea said it will continue its nuclear weapons tests and bolster its nuclear force "to the maximum." The North called US sanctions and its show of force – sending an aircraft carrier to the Korean peninsula and joint drills with South Korea – aggression and hysteria. (Reuters)

3/ Trump said he would be "honored" to meet with Kim Jong Un if the circumstances were right. "I would be honored to do it," he said amid heightened tensions over North Korea's nuclear weapons program. (Bloomberg)

  • Trump calls Kim Jong-un a “a pretty smart cookie” for managing to hold on to power after taking over at a young age. (The Guardian)

4/ Trump doesn't know what's in his health care bill. The Republican health care plan Trump described on Face the Nation is at odds with his health care goals. He said that people with preexisting conditions will be protected, but the latest amendment says they won’t be. Trump also said deductibles will go down under the Republican plan, but a nonpartisan analysis expects deductibles to go up. (Vox)

  • GOP faces a make-or-break moment on Obamacare repeal. This week may be the last, best chance to get it done in the House. (Politico)

5/ The administration ends Michelle Obama's girls education program. The "Let Girls Learn" program comes to an end as Melania Trump begins to define her own platform as first lady. (CNN)

6/ The Department of Agriculture is relaxing Obama-era school lunch standards. The new rules suspend the sodium reduction and whole-grain requirements, as well as allow 1% fat chocolate milk back into school cafeterias nationwide because of "palatability issues." (ABC News)

7/ Trump claims Andrew Jackson was upset about the Civil War and wonders why that the issues "could not have been worked out." Jackson died 16 years before the war began. Trump suggested that if Jackson had been president "a little later, you wouldn't have had the Civil War." (Associated Press)

8/ Trump abruptly ended an interview after being pushed on his claims that Obama ordered surveillance of him. He said his allegation that he was illegally surveilled has “been proven very strongly" and that he is entitled to his own “opinions.” (Politico)

  • Trump's interview with "Face the Nation." (CBS News)

9/ Trump invited Duterte to visit him at the White House after their “very friendly conversation." The authoritarian leader is accused of ordering extrajudicial killings of drug suspects in the Philippines, which has drawn criticism from human rights groups. The State Department and the National Security Council were both caught off guard by the invitation and raised objections internally. (New York Times)

  • Rodrigo Duterte says he may be too busy for a White House visit. (New York Times)

10/ Reince Priebus said the Trump administration has "looked at" changes to libel laws that would curtail press freedoms. Trump has frequently slammed the press for its coverage of him and has suggested changing libel laws. Libel is when defamatory statements about someone are published. But the American press enjoys some protection from lawsuits claiming libel because of the First Amendment's guarantee of free speech rights. (ABC News)

11/ Trump says his rally crowd broke records despite empty seats at his 100-day rally in Pennsylvania on Saturday night. Journalists pointed out rows of empty seats at the expo center. (The Hill)

Day 100: Perspective.

1/ How Trump reshaped the presidency and how it's changed him. In his first 100 days, Trump has transformed the highest office in ways both profound and mundane, pushing traditional boundaries, ignoring longstanding protocol and discarding historical precedents as he reshapes the White House in his own image. (New York Times)

2/ At 100 days, Trump’s big talk on the economy lacks substance. Trump has tweeted a great game, but other than reversing some of Obama’s executive orders, he hasn’t really done much on the employment and economic fronts. Consumer confidence has risen, but it’s not clear what impact it will have on the economy. Or how long that optimism will last. (Washington Post)

3/ Trump’s first 100 days ranked by the best, the worst, and everything in between. Sizing up the milestone than with a ranking from best to worst, smooth to chaotic, squeaky-clean to scandalous, of all the president’s days in the White House so far. (Politico)

  • What mattered and what didn’t. Trump has done more—and less—to change America than you think. (Politico)

4/ In its first 100 days, the GOP scrambles to learn how to govern. As Republicans reach the end of their first hundred days of controlling all the levers of power in Washington, they now acknowledge that being put in charge of both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue has brought out the long-standing divisions within the party and tensions between the two houses of Congress. (Washington Post)

  • Congress at 100 Days: Frenetic action but few accomplishments. The broad policy agenda that Republicans bragged that they would deliver if they won control in Washington has eluded them thus far, disenfranchise the minority party, and created one of the least productive opening acts by Congress in recent memory. (New York Times)

5/ How the world sees Trump. The number of campaign promises that have morphed into presidential U-turns is staggering. Allies and adversaries alike are trying to figure out whether a Trump Doctrine is emerging, or whether one even exists. (CNN)

6/ White House reporters recall their most vivid moments of Trump’s first 100 days. Covering the Trump White House can be exhilarating, maddening, exhausting – but never boring. (New York Times)

7/ Inside Trump's tumultuous first 100 days. Trump wraps up his first 100 days with the lowest approval rating of any president at this juncture since Dwight Eisenhower. That vulnerability is underscored by the willingness of even Trump’s closest GOP allies to critique his shortcomings. (CNN)

8/ Trump's presidency has become the demoralizing daily obsession of anyone concerned with global security, the vitality of the natural world, the national health, constitutionalism, civil rights, criminal justice, a free press, science, public education, and the distinction between fact and its opposite. (The New Yorker)

9/ Trump has given progressives so many causes for fear and outrage, it can be difficult — both practically and psychologically — to keep on top of them all as they happen. (New York Magazine)

  • Trump has galvanized activists on the left, but can they stay energized? Thousands of groups have sprouted across the country, aimed at resisting the Trump's agenda. (Washington Post)
  • The Women's March still inspires, but can the enthusiasm hold? (NPR)

10/ A president's very public education. Over the course of his 100 days in office, Trump has been startlingly candid about health care being complicated, China as an ally, NATO obsolescence, and that being president is hard. (Associated Press)


WTF Happened Today:

1/ Trump is talking about consolidating his power. In an interview with Fox News, he dismissed the “archaic” rules of the House and Senate — using that word four times — and suggested they needed to be streamlined for the good of the country. Also, he doesn't like the filibuster. (Washington Post)

2/ In defiance of international pressure, North Korea tests another ballistic missile. The missile blew up over land in North Korean territory. It was the second consecutive failure in the past two weeks. (CNN)

3/ The People’s Climate March draws thousands in DC. Rather than pushing for stronger climate action, organizers this year say they are fighting to preserve the gains that have already been made. (Washington Post)

4/ The EPA removed its climate science site the day before march on Washington. The website previously housed data on greenhouse gas emissions and reports on the effects of climate change and its impact on human health. (The Guardian)

5/ Patagonia threatens to sue Trump over national monuments order. Earlier in the week Trump ordered federal officials to review two decades of national monument designations, calling them “another egregious abuse of federal power.” (The Hill)

6/ Trump, again, derides Elizabeth Warren as "Pocahontas" – a jab at her Native American ancestry. During the 2016, Trump suggested Warren was exaggerating or even lying about her background. (NBC News)

7/ Trump proclaims May 1 is "Loyalty Day" as a way to "recognize and reaffirm our allegiance to the principles" upon which America was built and express pride in those ideals. (Fox News)

Day 99: Weak.

1/ Congress passed a short-term spending deal to keep the federal government open for another week. House and Senate negotiators will work through the weekend to finalize a longer-term deal that would fund the government through the end of the fiscal year in September. (Washington Post)

2/ Trump says a "major, major conflict" with North Korea is possible over its nuclear and missile programs, but would prefer a diplomatic solution. The administration is preparing new economic sanctions, but has not taken the military option off the table. (Reuters)

  • China warns situation with North Korea is at a "critical point." (Reuters)
  • Tillerson urges the UN to act "before North Korea does," calling on the international community to implement sanctions and suspend or downgrade diplomatic relations with Pyongyang. (Reuters)

3/ North Korea released a propaganda video showing the White House in crosshairs and aircraft carriers exploding. The video declares that “the enemy to be destroyed is in our sights.” (Washington Post)

4/ House Republicans failed to round up enough votes for their bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Again. Revisions to the bill won over the Freedom Caucus this week, but those same changes drove away other members, including some who supported the first version. (New York Times)

  • Trump is "just a few" votes shy of having enough votes to pass his Obamacare replacement bill through the House. (Politico)

5/ The economy turned in the weakest performance in three years as consumers slowed their spending. Gross domestic product grew by just 0.7% in the first quarter following a gain of 2.1% in the fourth quarter. (Associated Press)

6/ Trump agrees with the majority of Americans: He wasn’t ready to be president. "This is more work than in my previous life," Trump said. "I thought it would be easier." (Washington Post)

7/ Trump expands offshore oil drilling activity with new executive order. The order also reconsiders rules designed to prevent a repeat of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. (Bloomberg)

8/ Sessions recused himself from any Michael Flynn investigation, extending his recusal from investigations into the 2016 election. (Politico)

9/ Trump’s original campaign manager is now promising to arrange meetings with Trump and “key members" of the administration. While Corey Lewandowski says he’s not a lobbyist, ethics watchdogs say he is flouting the spirit of the lobbying rules and abusing his access to the White House. (Politico)

10/ The State Department wants to clear Nikki Haley's remarks before she speaks in an attempt to foster greater coherence with American's foreign policy efforts. (New York Times)

11/ The NSA halts the collection of Americans' emails and texts due to compliance issues with FISA court rules. The warrantless surveillance program was suppose to only collect information from people overseas that mention a foreigner under surveillance. But, the NSA ended up collecting messages sent and received domestically as a byproduct. Oops. (New York Times)

Day 98: Explicit.

1/ The Pentagon warned Flynn in 2014 against accepting foreign payments without prior approval. He's now under investigation by the Defense Department’s inspector general to determine whether he failed to get permission to receive payments, as he was explicitly told to do. Flynn received $45,000 from RT for a 2015 speech, which was not disclosed at the time, and belatedly he filed paperwork as a foreign agent for his work lobbying on behalf of Turkey. He was paid more than $500,000. (New York Times)

  • The Pentagon will try to determine whether Flynn “failed to obtain required approval prior to receiving” foreign payments. Retiring officers are advised that they may be subject to the Constitution’s rarely enforced emoluments clause, which prohibits top officials from receiving payments or favors from foreign governments. (Washington Post)
  • Spicer blames Obama for Flynn’s security clearance, brushing aside the notion that Trump has regrets over hiring Flynn. (The Hill)

2/ Trump said he will either renegotiate NAFTA or terminate it. Yesterday, the White House had drafted an executive order to withdraw the US from NAFTA. After hearing "pleas" from Canada and Mexico not to withdraw immediately, Trump warned he would pull out if he could not negotiate a better deal. (New York Times)

  • Trump says no plan to pull out of NAFTA "at this time." (Washington Post)
  • Republicans tell Trump that a NAFTA withdrawal would be a "disaster." (Politico)

3/ Congress aims to vote on a short-term spending bill Friday in order to avoid a shutdown. The bill would keep the government running through May 5. The White House has also backed off its threat to withhold payments that help lower-income Americans pay their medical bills, as well as its demand for money for Trump's border wall. (Associated Press)

4/ The GOP is still divided over the latest healthcare plan. While the Freedom Caucus has endorsed the latest version, moderate conservatives are now holding out. A Friday vote appears less likely now that the Republicans are still shy of the 216 votes needed. (Axios)

  • The race for votes on health care is on again. GOP leadership is setting the groundwork to move quickly if it becomes clear they can pass the bill. (CNN)
  • Trump is unlikely to get his healthcare vote this week as House Republican leaders search for the votes needed. Republicans are confident they can win over moderates for a new Obamacare repeal plan, but they're not there yet. (Politico)

5/ Democrats threaten to oppose short-term funding bill to prevent a shutdown if the healthcare vote happens this week. The House Rules‎ Committee passed a rule that allows any legislation to be brought up between now and Saturday, including a vote on the latest healthcare plan. No vote has been scheduled. Paul Ryan said he was "confident" the government would keep running, but placed the threat of a shutdown on Democrats for "dragging their feet." (CNN)

6/ Steve Mnuchin can't guarantee the middle class won't pay more under his new tax plan. He said the "objective" of the plan is to ensure no absolute tax cuts for the wealthy, but declined to say how the plan would affect Trump himself. (ABC News)

  • Economists fear Trump’s tax plan will only heighten a "mountain of debt." The proposed tax overhaul calls for steep tax cuts with only modest offsetting revenue increases. Economists estimate it would add trillions to the national debt over the next decade. (New York Times)

7/ Ivanka Trump says the US should consider admitting Syrian refugees. If you haven't been paying attention, this is a significant break from her father, who is so against the idea that both failed versions of his travel ban have included temporary suspensions of all refugee resettlement. (New York Magazine)

8/ Homeland security unveils Trump's controversial immigrant crime office set up to support the victims of crimes committed solely by undocumented migrants. Critics warn that the office is misguided and is a device for “scapegoating immigrants” by advocates who pointed to numerous studies showing immigrants are significantly less likely to commit crime. (The Guardian)

9/ The White House says Ivanka will have "no authority" over the World Bank fund to invest in women-owned businesses. The idea is under consideration at the World Bank – inspired by Ivanka – but has raised legal and ethical questions due to her formal role as “assistant to the president.” By rule, she would be prohibited from using her official position to solicit money. (Washington Post)

10/ Sessions vows to press legal fight on sanctuary cities despite a court order barring federal officials from targeting localities that decline to cooperate with enforcement of immigration laws. (Politico)

poll/ Trump's first 100 days get "mixed reviews." 45% approve of the job he’s doing, below Obama’s 62% approval and Bush W's 63% approval at this same point. More than 50% think Trump is failing in bringing real change to Washington, and 52% say the US is less respected now compared to a year ago. (Fox News)

poll/ 44% approve of Trump's handling of the presidency, which is last among approval ratings for newly-elected presidents at the 100-day point. (CNN)

Day 97: Ridiculous.

1/ Trump unveils his plan to overhaul the tax code. The proposal — a one-page outline that leaves key details incomplete — would eliminate key tax breaks and reduce the number of income tax brackets from seven to three. It would also lower the corporate tax rate from 35% to 15%. (Washington Post)

  • Trump's tax plan would cut corporate and small business rates and boost the standard deduction to $15,000 for individuals and $30,000 for families. The proposed plan could potentially put thousands of dollars each year into the pockets of tens of millions of Americans, but could lead to a large loss of government revenue and bloat the federal deficit. (Washington Post)

2/ The White House trumpets its tax cuts as the "biggest in history." It's unclear how the cuts would be financed, although the administration noted that the proposed cuts could dramatically add to the national debt. (New York Times)

  • Trump's goal of reducing the corporate tax rate has a fatal problem: Senate rules. (CNN)
  • Trump’s tax plan extends the corporate tax cut from mom-and-pop businesses to his own real estate empire. (New York Times)

3/ House Republicans gather to revive their Obamacare repeal. The latest proposal, which came late Tuesday, is a compromise designed to corral skittish Republicans reluctant to support earlier versions of the proposal. The new language allows states to opt out of some Obamacare protections as long as they offer an alternative that lowers premiums and increases the number of people insured. The plan retains Obamacare's guarantee of "access" to coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, but allows states to waive the prohibition on charging sick people higher premiums. (Politico)

  • Republicans are far from repealing Obamacare as nobody is sure the House has actually found a compromise that can pass. (Vox)
  • Latest GOP health bill amendment would exempt members of Congress from its effects. Democrats argue that Republicans are willing to take away protections for the general public, but not themselves. (The Hill)

4/ Lawmakers are leaning toward passing a one-week funding extension to avoid a shutdown. In the meantime, the White House said it would continue paying Affordable Care Act cost-sharing subsidies. (Politico)

5/ Trump attacks "ridiculous" 9th circuit judge who blocked his order to deny federal funding to “sanctuary cities.” Judge William Orrick doesn't sit on the 9th circuit. He sits on the court of the Northern District of California, which appeals to the 9th circuit. (Politico)

6/ US missile defense system moved to a deployment site in South Korea, triggering protests from villagers and criticism from China. The deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system will be used to defend against missiles launched by North Korea. China says the system's advanced radar can penetrate deep into its territory and undermine its security, while it will do little to deter the North. (Reuters)

7/ The administration is considering an executive order to withdraw from NAFTA. A draft has been submitted for review and could be a hardball negotiating tactic designed to bring Mexico and Canada to the table to renegotiate NAFTA. (Politico)

  • Trump loses trade dispute with Mexico over dolphin safe tuna. The World Trade Organization ruled in Mexico's favor that its fishermen played by the rules, allowing it to impose sanctions worth $163 million a year against the US. Related, Trump's decision to go after Canada first with tariffs was surprising given his harsh criticism of Mexico on the campaign. Now Trump has upset Canada while suffering a trade defeat from Mexico. (CNN Money)

8/ Trump triggers a review of national monument designations, which protect more than a billion acres of US public land and waters. The designation of monuments could be "rescinded, modified or resized" as part of the review. (The Guardian)

  • Trump is expected to sign an executive order aimed at opening up protected waters in the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans to offshore drilling. (New York Times)

9/ The Senate confirms the deputy attorney general who will now be in charge of the Russia probe. Rod Rosenstein takes over the high-profile inquiry and will make the decision on whether to appoint an outside prosecutor. (NBC News)

10/ Trump and his top national security advisers briefed congressional lawmakers on the “very grave threat” posed by North Korea. The administration has developed a range of economic, diplomatic, and military measures in the wake of a series of provocations from Kim Jong Un. There was no talk about a preemptive strike on North Korea. The approach would be “mainly events-driven." (Washington Post)

poll/ 56% think Russia tried to influence the election, and 39% think the Trump campaign intentionally tried to assist such an effort. (ABC News)

Day 96: Confident.

1/ The House oversight panel says Flynn did not comply with the law. Trump's former national security adviser did not properly disclosed payments from Russia on his security clearance application. Flynn received $45,000 for a speech he gave to RT-TV in Russia. (CNN)

2/ Flynn’s Turkish lobbying now linked to Russia. A Turkish man that gave Flynn a $600,000 lobbying deal just before Trump picked him to be national security adviser had business ties to Russia. (Politico)

  • Sally Yates is set to testify at the May 8 Senate hearing. Yates was supposed to tell lawmakers last month about phone calls between Michael Flynn and Russian ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak. The hearing was abruptly postponed amid accusations the White House didn't want her to testify. (CNN)

3/ A federal judge has blocked Trump's directive seeking to deny federal funding to "sanctuary cities." The ruling is another high-profile blow to Trump's efforts to use executive orders to carry out major policy moves. (Politico)

4/ Trump promised the biggest tax cut in history. The plan he put forward as a candidate would reduce revenues by 2.6% of GDP. That would be less than the cuts that Truman made (2.7%) in 1945, as well as those that Reagan enacted (2.9%) in 1981. (Washington Post)

5/ The government's costs could increase by $2.3 billion in 2018 if Congress and Trump decide not to fund Obamacare-related payments to health insurers. Trump has threatened to withhold the payments to force Democrats to the negotiating table on a healthcare bill to replace Obamacare. (Reuters)

6/ The White House is "confident" it will avert a shutdown as Trump shows flexibility on his wall. Trump softened his demand that a deal to keep the federal government open include money to begin construction on his long-promised border wall. He is open to delaying funding for wall construction until September. (Washington Post)

  • White House backtracks after Trump opens the door to delaying funding for border wall. Sean Spicer said Trump has not given up on getting funding for the wall now, despite Trump telling conservatives he could come back to it in September. (ABC News)

7/ Mexico is worried that the border wall will worsen flooding. Engineers believe construction of the border barrier may violate a 47-year-old treaty governing the shared waters of the Rio Grande. If Mexico protests, the fate of the wall could end up in an international court. (NPR)

8/ Republican lawmakers ask Trump to scale back Obama-era protections for gays and lesbians in order to make good on campaign promises to protect religious liberty. Trump has said that he supports the LGBTQ community and does not support any kind of discrimination. But Trump also believes there should be policies that allow for people to express their religious beliefs. (USA Today)

9/ Ivanka Trump gets booed and hissed at during a Berlin event. She was put on the spot about her father's attitudes toward women and grilled by the moderator about what, exactly, her role is in the Trump administration. She defined her goal as enacting “incremental positive change.” (Politico)

10/ The US imposed sanctions on 271 employees of the Syrian government it said were responsible for producing chemical weapons and ballistic missiles. (New York Times)

11/ Trump warns Canada over its import tax on dairy: "We will not stand for this." Last April, Canada implemented a new import tax on dairy, which had been duty-free under the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement. (The Hill)

12/ Trump slaps Canada with 20% tariffs on softwood lumber in response. The move has drawn criticism from the Canadian government, which vowed to sue if needed. (Bloomberg)

  • Analyst says Canadian lumber tariffs will not affect home prices. The US Home Construction ETF dropped nearly 1% following the announcement, which a homebuilding analyst called "a papercut." Investors worried about an increase in costs. (CNBC)

13/ State Department posts, then removes article promoting Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort. Critics had complained that the website was moonlighting as a promotional outlet for Trump’s real estate empire. (Salon)

poll/ 37% of Americans say Obamacare should be repealed and replaced. 61% say it should be kept and fixed instead. 79% say Trump should seek to make the current law work as well as possible, not to make it fail as soon as possible, a strategy he’s suggested. (ABC News)

poll/ 50% have little to no confidence in the GOP healthcare plan. 51% say Obamacare is either working well the way it is or that it needs just minor modifications to improve it. (NBC News)

Day 95: "Good press."

1/ Trump pushes for border wall funding in spending dispute with Democrats. Aides have stressed that funding for a border wall and a vote on an effort to repeal and replace Obamacare could both be accomplished this week despite a budget deadline looming that could lead to a government shutdown. (ABC News)

  • Nancy Pelosi calls Trump's border wall "immoral, expensive, unwise." The Trump administration is willing to push a government shutdown if funding for the border wall is not included in a bill to fund the government this week. (NBC News)
  • The border wall would be "catastrophic" for the environment and endangered species. (NBC News)

2/ As a government shutdown looms, lawmakers could pass a short-term spending bill that would keep the government open in the interim while a longer-term measure is finalized. (New York Times)

3/ The French president called on voters to reject far-right candidate Marine Le Pen and back Emmanuel Macron to succeed him. President Hollande said "France's make-up, its unity, its membership of Europe and its place in the world" are all at stake. (BBC)

4/ The Senate probe into Trump's connection to Russia has no full-time staff. Seven part-time staffers are working on the inquiry, none with significant investigative experience, and no interviews with key individuals have been conducted. (Daily Beast)

  • The Senate Intelligence Committee has made little progress in its investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. It is increasingly stymied by partisan divisions that are jeopardizing the future of the inquiry. (Yahoo News)

5/ A California Democrat called Attorney General Jeff Sessions “a racist and a liar,” after Sessions’s comments about a federal judge in Hawaii. (The Hill)

6/ Defense Secretary Mattis is in Afghanistan to discuss war needs and how best to confront Russia for providing machine guns and other medium-weight weapons to the Taliban. (ABC News)

7/ Republican donors, leaders, and candidates worry the 2018 midterms will be a referendum on Trump's performance. Republicans are expressing early concern over Trump’s lack of legislative accomplishments, his record-low approval ratings, and the overall dysfunction that’s gripped his administration. (Politico)

8/ Anti-Semitic incidents have surged since the election of Trump, and a "heightened political atmosphere" has played a role in the rise of actions ranging from bomb threats and cemetery desecration to assaults and bullying. (Reuters)

9/ Trump blasts approval rating polls as "fake news" conducted by media outlets whose polling about last year’s presidential election had proven incorrect. (Politico)

10/ "When I won," Trump thought, "now I’ll get good press." Once again, Trump displays a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of the media, which is to act as a check on power. (Washington Post)

  • Here's the full transcript of an Oval Office interview between Trump and Associated Press White House Correspondent Julie Pace. (Associated Press)
  • Trump: I gave "Face the Nation" the highest ratings "since the World Trade Center came down." (The Hill)

11/ As the carrier group heads for Korean waters, China calls for restraint. The deployment of an aircraft carrier strike group has angered North Korea, which called it "an extremely dangerous act by those who plan a nuclear war to invade." The US and Japan have begun joint naval drills in the region. (Reuters)

12/ The entire US Senate to go to the White House for a North Korea briefing. All 100 senators have been asked to attend the briefing by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, and General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It's unusual for the entire Senate to go to an event like this at the White House. (NBC News)

13/ Trump wants to cut the corporate rate to 15%, even if it means a loss of revenue and exacerbating the procedural and partisan hurdles he faces in search of his first major legislative victory. (Wall Street Journal)

Day 94: Rest easy.

1/ Jeff Sessions says DREAMers, like “everyone that enters the country unlawfully,” are “subject to being deported.” On Friday, Trump said, “We aren't looking to do anything right now” about DREAMers and that young people protected under this policy “should rest easy.” (ABC News)

  • DHS Secretary John Kelly reaffirmed Trump's claim that DREAMers could "rest easy" despite heightened fears of deportation. He said that undocumented immigrants would face deportation if they break US law, however. (CBS News)

2/ Sessions: We'll get the border wall paid for "one way or the other" noting that he does not expect the Mexican government to outright pay for Trump's border wall. Rather, Trump has threatened to target cash transfers from people within the US to people in Mexico. (CNN)

  • Trump's push for the border wall threatens to cause a government shutdown. Officials are worried that Trump won't sign a funding bill without money for his wall. (The Guardian)

3/ French election: Macron and Le Pen are projected to advance to the runoff election. Polls closed in France's bitterly divisive presidential election and early projections suggest Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen have made it through to the second round runoff after securing 24% and 21.8% of the vote, respectively. The centrist and far-right candidates will face each other in presidential runoff on May 7. (CNN)

4/ The Trump administration is pushing for a vote this week in the House to replace Obamacare. Trump tweeted that Obama's healthcare program is “in serious trouble.” House members, however, return from recess on Tuesday and are expected to concentrate on a must-pass bill to keep the federal government funded beyond April 28. (Bloomberg)

  • Paul Ryan promised to keep the government open but makes no promises on health care. (Washington Post)

5/ The White House offers conflicting details of Trump's tax plan after he tweeted that tax reform and reduction will be announced Wednesday. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin suggested the announcement would pursue a long-term overhaul of the tax code. But, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney cast doubt on Mnuchin's statements, saying the White House still hasn't decided whether to pursue a long-term or short-term overhaul. (Washington Post)

6/ More than 11,000 women in all 50 states plan to run for political office. Several dozen are considering runs to challenge House Republican incumbents.(Washington Post)

7/ North Korea detains a third US citizen. The Korean-American accounting teacher was arrested as he attempted to leave the country. Pyongyang University of Science and Technology says the arrest had nothing to do with his work as a teacher, but speculated that it was due to "some other activities… such as helping an orphanage." (Reuters)

8/ North Korea is "ready to sink" a US aircraft carrier heading for the peninsula. State media warned that the USS Carl Vinson could be sunk "with a single strike" and threatened to strike Australia with nuclear weapons if it remained an ally of the US. (BBC)

poll/ 42% of Americans approve of Trump's job performance, the lowest recorded at this stage of a presidency dating back to Dwight Eisenhower. (Washington Post)

poll/ 57% believe the government should do more to solve problems and help people. 39% said the government is doing too many things that are better left to business and individuals. (Wall Street Journal)

poll/ 96% of Trump voters say they'd do it again today. (ABC News)

Day 93: Planet B.

1/ People are marching for science because "there is no Planet B." Scientists and “friends of science” are participating in the March for Science at the National Mall today, which is expected to draw tens of thousands of people. More than 600 satellite marches are scheduled across six continents to raise concerns about the erosion of the value of expertise, and the rise of pseudoscientific and anti-scientific notions. (Washington Post)

  • For first time since the 1800s, Britain goes a day without burning coal for electricity. Coal powered Britain into the industrial age and into the 21st century, contributing greatly to the “pea souper” fogs that were thought for decades to be a natural phenomenon of the British climate. (New York Times)

2/ Trump vows to unveil a “massive” tax cut for Americans next week, surprising Capitol Hill and leaving Treasury officials speechless. Trump said his tax reductions would be “bigger, I believe, than any tax cut ever," but revealed no details about what is an enormously complicated effort to overhaul the nation’s tax code. The announcement is supposed to come Wednesday. (New York Times)

3/ The Trump administration claims NYC is "soft on crime." Data says otherwise. Jeff Sessions said NYC "continues to see gang murder after gang murder, the predictable consequence of the city's 'soft on crime' stance" and is "crumbling under the weight of illegal immigration and violent crime." Since 1993, murder has decreased 82%, shootings have decreased 81%, and overall crime has decreased 76%. (WABC-TV)

4/ Russian bombers fly near Alaska for the 4th time in 4 days. While the Russian aircraft did not enter sovereign airspace, American and Canadian fighter jets intercepted the two military aircraft flying around the north coast of Alaska and Canada. (ABC News)

5/ Russian operatives tried to use Trump advisers last summer to infiltrate the Trump campaign. FBI investigators have found signs of possible collusion between the campaign and Russian officials, but there is not enough evidence to show that crimes were committed. (CNN)

6/ The US will "honor" the refugee resettlement agreement with Australia, despite Trump previously calling it a "dumb deal." (CNN)

7/ Trump asks Obama Surgeon General to resign. Vivek H. Murthy has been replaced by his deputy, Rear Adm. Sylvia Trent-Adams, one of the first nurses to serve as surgeon general. It was not immediately clear why Dr. Murthy was relieved from duty. (New York Times)

8/ The Florida state senator that unleashed an expletive-laden rant and racial slur resigns. Frank Artiles apologized the day after the episode, saying he let his “temper get the best of me.” (New York Times)

9/ Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California lawmakers all balk at Trump’s wall request. No House or Senate members that represent territories on the southwest border have expressed support for Trump's $1.4 billion funding proposal. (Wall Street Journal)

Day 92: Ridiculous standard.

1/ The threat of a government shutdown hinges on the Mexican border wall and Obamacare funding. Trump and Republicans will have four days to overcome intraparty ideological divisions and win over some opposition Democrats next week to pass a spending package to keep the government open beyond April 28. Mick Mulvaney, the White House budget director, says money for Trump's wall and immigration agents is a must. Democrats have taken a hard line against any money for the border wall and insist that the measure include the Obamacare payments to insurance companies. (Reuters)

  • Conway is "confident" there will be no government shutdown. (Politico)
  • Lawmakers hope to unveil a catchall spending bill next week in order avert a government shutdown. (ABC News)
  • Mattis tells Congress that Trump's budget request isn't sufficient to cover the cost of rebuilding the military. (CNN)

2/ Jeff Sessions dismissed Hawaii as just "an island in the Pacific" while criticizing a Federal District Court ruling last month that blocked the Trump administration from carrying out its ban on travel from parts of the Muslim world. “I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the president of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and constitutional power,” Sessions said. (New York Times)

  • Hawaiians to Jeff Sessions: "We’re not just some island." (Washington Post)

3/ The Justice Department escalates its crackdown on "sanctuary cities". The DOJ sent letters to nine jurisdictions that limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities, threatening to withhold funding unless they comply with federal law. (New York Times)

4/ The Treasury denied Exxon's request for a waiver from Russian sanctions. Exxon won’t be allowed to bypass US sanctions against Russia in order to resume drilling for oil. (Bloomberg)

5/ South Korea is on heightened alert as the North readies for its anniversary of the Korean People's Army. The 85th army anniversary comes at the end of major winter military drills. The US and South Korea have been saying for weeks that the North could soon stage another nuclear test. (Reuters)

  • Trump puts pressure on China to rein in North Korea, saying "if they want to solve the North Korea problem, they will." (The Hill)

6/ Trump says Iran has not "lived up to the spirit" of the nuclear agreement. He also criticized the deal days after his secretary of state certified that Iran was complying with the terms of the agreement. Trump called it “terrible” and “as bad as I've ever seen negotiated.” (Washington Post)

7/ Syria still has chemical weapons. Israeli defense officials estimate that Syria still has up to three tons of chemical weapons in its possession. Mattis says Syria has "dispersed their aircraft" in the wake of the punitive US missile strike. The implication is that Syria may be concerned about additional strikes and is moving its combat aircrafts to make them less vulnerable to an attack. (ABC News)

8/ The House Intelligence Committee asked former acting Attorney General Sally Yates to testify publicly in the panel’s probe into Russian interference in the US election. The committee has also asked FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Mike Rogers to return before the committee to testify in a closed setting. (The Hill)

9/ Trump’s lawyers have argued that anti-Trump protesters “have no right” to “express dissenting views” at his campaign rallies. Lawyers for Trump’s campaign say that his calls to remove the protesters were protected by the First Amendment. (Politico)

10/ Jeff Sessions makes arresting WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange a priority. WikiLeaks allegedly played an active role in helping Edward Snowden disclose a massive cache of classified documents he took from the NSA. (CNN)

11/ Georgia NAACP chief is suing the state for trying to block newly registered voters from taking part in a runoff election. Georgia law requires that individuals who vote in a runoff election must be registered to vote in the initial election. Election officials say that the June runoff is simply a continuation of the special election, so they don’t have to allow newly registered voters to participate. (Huffington Post)

12/ Nearing the 100-day mark with limited accomplishments, Trump calls it a "ridiculous standard." Trump hits the 100-day mark at the end of the next week and has no major wins on Capitol Hill beyond Gorsuch. (Washington Post)

  • The White House is desperate to demonstrate progress on Trump’s promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The Republicans are trying to resurrect the health care bill before his 100th day in office. (New York Times)

13/ At least 25 temporary political appointees are now getting permanent federal jobs with little or no public notice. In January, the Trump administration installed more than 400 political appointees across the federal government. Hiring rules allow them to have those positions for up to eight months. (ProPublica)

Day 91: "Super-mighty preemptive strike."

1/ House Republicans are making a new bid to repeal Obamacare. The current proposal gives states more flexibility to opt out of major Obamacare provisions, while preserving popular protections like banning discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions. The text of a new bill is likely to circulate by the weekend with intentions to have a vote by midweek before the president reaches his 100-day mark. (Politico)

  • Congress may have to choose between keeping the government open and voting to repeal Obamacare. Trump thinks they can do both. The current resolution funding the government expires on April 28. (CNBC)

2/ North Korea warns of a "super-mighty preemptive strike" after Rex Tillerson said the US was looking to put pressure on the country over its nuclear program. (Reuters)

  • Satellites spot unexpected activity at North Korean nuclear test site: volleyball. The games were probably intended to send a message, but what meaning the North wanted to convey is unclear. (New York Times)

3/ The CIA and FBI are searching for the leaker who gave top-secret documents to WikiLeaks. The leak exposed thousands of top-secret documents that described CIA tools used to penetrate smartphones, smart TVs, and computers. (CBS News)

4/ Tillerson accused Iran of "alarming ongoing provocations" aimed at destabilizing the Middle East and undermining American interests. Iran's foreign minister dismissed Mr Tillerson's criticism as "worn out." (BBC)

5/ Carter Page's trip to Russia last July became the catalyst for an FBI investigation into ties between Russia and the Trump campaign. In 2013, a Russian spy was trying to recruit Trump's former foreign policy adviser, and his 2016 trip further stirs the agency's interest in the businessman. It is unclear what about Page’s visit drew the FBI's interest: meetings, intercepted communications, or something else. (New York Times)

  • The FBI used the unverified dossier detailing Trump's ties to Russia in order to bolster its Trump-Russia investigation and win approval to secretly monitor Carter Page. The FISA court approved the monitoring of Page's communications, who advised Trump on national security last year. (CNN)

6/ A Russian think tank controlled by Putin developed a plan to swing the 2016 US presidential election. Two confidential documents provide the framework and rationale for what intelligence agencies have concluded was an intensive effort to undermine voters’ faith in the American electoral system. (Reuters)

7/ The judge Trump denigrated for his Mexican heritage last year will hear deported DREAMer case. Trump claimed that US District Judge Gonzalo Curiel could not impartially hear a lawsuit against Trump University last year because of Curiel's background and Trump's own hardline immigration policies. Curiel will now oversee a lawsuit where a California resident was deported despite being approved for the Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals program, which provides protective status for undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children. (CNN)

8/ Trump blows his own deadline for developing an anti-hacking plan within 90 days of taking office. Yesterday was the 90-day mark. There is no team, there is no plan, and there is no clear answer from the White House on who would even be working on what. Trump has repeatedly promised to get to the bottom of Russian election hacking. (Politico)

  • Trump claims that "no administration has accomplished more in the first 90 days." So far he hasn't taken action on 60% of the 60 promises he said he would fulfill in his first 100 days. Trump's also broken five of them, such as his promise to label China as a currency manipulator. (Washington Post)

9/ Chaffetz is considering an early departure from Congress. Chaffetz stunned Washington yesterday with an announcement that he is not running for reelection. Now he might not even finish his term. Chaffetz cited a desire to spend more time with his family in Utah and return to the private sector. (The Hill)

  • Why is Jason Chaffetz running away? A rising Republican star doesn’t just retire from Congress for nothing. (Salon)

10/ The Trump administration launches national security investigation into steel imports and whether the way other countries sell steel compromises US security. The review would consider how much steel the US needs to defend itself, and whether current domestic capacity meets those requirements. (Los Angeles Times)

11/ The White House sidewalk will be closed to public permanently. The closure will "lessen the possibility of individuals illegally accessing the White House grounds." (Reuters)

12/ The Justice Department is weighing whether to bring criminal charges against members of WikiLeaks. Prosecutors are examining the 2010 leak of cables and military documents, as well as the more recent revelation of sensitive CIA cyber-tools used to convert cellphones, televisions, and other ordinary devices into implements of espionage. (Washington Post)

poll/ Trump gets an "A" on his performance from 16% of voters. He received an "F" grade from 24% of voters. (Politico)

poll/ 63% of Democrats say they're "very excited" about voting in the 2018 election, compared to only 52% of Republicans. (Public Policy Polling)

Day 90: The sword stands ready.

1/ Jason Chaffetz will not seek re-election. The Utah Republican, who chairs the House Oversight Committee, has drawn attention and criticism for his handling of conflicts of interest investigations into Clinton and Trump. (BuzzFeed News)

2/ The US says Iran is complying with the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal negotiated by Obama. The US has extended the sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its atomic program. Tillerson, however, said the administration is reviewing the agreement to evaluate whether it "is vital to the national security interests of the United States." (Associated Press)

3/ Mike Pence warns North Korea that "the sword stands ready." From the deck of the USS Ronald Reagan, Pence promised that the US would make an "overwhelming and effective" response to any use of conventional or nuclear weapons by North Korea. (Los Angeles Times)

4/ Fox News is preparing to cut ties with Bill O’Reilly. Advertisers fled from his show following the news that 21st Century Fox and O'Reilly had settled multiple sexual harassment complaints. (Wall Street Journal)

UPDATE:

Bill O’Reilly is out at Fox News. (New York Times)

5/ A Miami state senator referred to his fellow Republicans as "niggas." The Florida Democratic Party called on him to resign Tuesday night, saying his conduct was “disgusting, unacceptable and has no place in our democracy or our society.” (Miami Herald)

6/ The Justice Department does not have any US attorneys in place a month after dismissing federal prosecutors. Attorney General Jeff Sessions abruptly told the dozens of remaining Obama attorneys to submit their resignations immediately last month. None of them have been replaced. The 93 unfilled US attorney positions remain open. (Washington Post)

7/ Emirates is cutting flights to the US because of Trump's restrictive travel policies. Stricter visa regulations, heightened security vetting, and restrictions on electronic devices in aircraft cabins have had a direct impact on consumer interest and weakened travel demand into US. (Business Insider)

8/ Trump is expected to shift his weekend plans to his golf club in New Jersey once Mar-a-Lago closes for the season. Bedminster, New Jersey officials have been struggling to explain to the public who will pay for all the extra overtime work when the president is in their small rural town. (Politico)

9/ Exxon has asked the Treasury for exemption from US sanctions on Russia in a bid to resume its joint venture with oil giant PAO Rosneft. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is Exxon’s former CEO. In 2012, Tillerson negotiated a deal for Exxon to explore Russia's arctic waters. 2014 sanctions sidelined the deal. (Wall Street Journal)

10/ The White House is looking to revive Obamacare repeal before the 100-day mark. The renewed effort comes as Congress returns from recess and as the Trump administration is fielding questions about its legislative accomplishments during its first 100 days in office. (CNN)

Day 89: Conflict of interest.

1/ Ivanka Trump won approval from the Chinese government for three new trademarks the same night she dined with the president of China at Mar-a-Lago. Criminal conflict of interest law prohibits federal officials, like Ivanka and Kushner, from participating in government matters that could impact their own financial interest or that of their spouse. (Associated Press)

2/ Spicer argued that more public disclosures are unnecessary and harmful to Trump’s ability to govern. He defended Trump’s reversal of Obama’s practice of periodically releasing visitor logs, and suggested that doing so would discourage outsiders who require anonymity to offer frank advice to the president and his top advisers. (New York Times)

  • Elijah Cummings on Trump's transparency: "If you want privacy, don't go into politics." Cummings knocked the White House's public disclosure practices, saying that Trump needs to learn there's little privacy in politics. (The Hill)

3/ The promise to enact a sweeping overhaul of the tax code is in jeopardy nearly 100 days into Trump's tenure. His refusal to release his own tax returns is emerging as a central hurdle to tax reform as Democrats pledge not to cooperate on any rewriting of the tax code unless they know specifically how revisions would benefit the billionaire president and his family. (New York Times)

4/ Democrats aim to "make Trump furious" in Georgia election. Today's special election lumps all 18 candidates on one ballot and is expected to be more competitive than Republicans' single-digit victory in Kansas last week. Unless one candidate captures a full 50% of the vote, there will be a runoff between the top two finishers, on June 20th. Democrats are hoping Jon Ossoff can pull off a major upset in the conservative Georgia congressional district. (ABC News)

5/ Georgia voting machines were stolen just days before the polls open for a special election. The Cobb County Elections waited two days to tell the Secretary of State about the theft of four ExpressPoll machines. (WSBTV)

6/ In an upcoming executive order, Trump will have the Department of Homeland Security review how H-1B visas are awarded. The agency will be instructed to suggest reforms to move away from the current lottery system and to a merit-based system so that visas only land in the hands of highly paid, specially skilled applicants. (Record)

  • Trump's executive order is aimed at making it harder for technology companies to recruit low-wage workers from foreign countries and undercut Americans looking for jobs. (New York Times)

7/ The South Korea-US free trade agreement will be reviewed. Pence said the US trade deficit has more than doubled in the five years since the agreement began and there are too many barriers for US businesses in the country. (Reuters)

8/ Theresa May stunned the UK political world by calling for an early general election in order to strengthen her hand in Brexit negotiations. May became PM by default last year in the days after the Brexit vote and David Cameron’s resignation. (CNN)

9/ Trump called Erdogan to congratulate him on his contested, controversial referendum, which changed Turkey from a parliamentary democracy to one led by an executive president with strong central powers. It passed by a slim margin, 51.3% to 48.7%. The State Department urged Turkey to respect the basic rights of its citizens and noted election irregularities witnessed by monitors with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. (Washington Post)

10/ Trump on North Korea: Obama and Clinton were "outplayed by this gentleman." He must be confused. Kim Jong Un has only been the leader of North Korea since 2012. His late father, Kim Jong Il, was the dictator who ruled from 1994 to 2011. (The Daily Beast)

11/ Critics of the Department of Homeland Security should "shut up" and assume the agency is acting appropriately, Secretary John F. Kelly said in a speech. The problem, Kelly said, is not the federal agents enforcing immigration laws, but the political games that have been played. He called criticism of the agency’s work misguided and based on inaccurate reporting. (Washington Post)

12/ US warships are now on a northerly course for the Korean Peninsula after sailing in the opposite direction. The Navy posted a photo of the U.S.S. Carl Vinson sailing in the Sundra Strait off the coast of Indonesia on Saturday - 3,500 miles southwest of the Korean Peninsula. The picture was taken four days after Sean Spicer described the warship's mission in the Sea of Japan. (New York Times)

Day 88: Strategic patience.

1/ Pence puts North Korea on notice, warning them that "the era of strategic patience is over" regarding its nuclear and ballistic missile program. "North Korea would do well not to test his resolve — or the strength of the Armed Forces of the United States in this region," the Vice President warned. (NPR)

  • Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said "we need to apply pressure on North Korea so they seriously respond to a dialogue." He also urged China and Russia to play more constructive roles on the issue. (Associated Press)
  • Pence warns North Korea of US resolve as shown in Syria and Afghan strikes. (Reuters)

2/ North Korean envoy at UN warns of nuclear war possibility. The North Korean UN ambassador condemned the US naval buildup in the waters off the Korean Peninsula and said his country is ready to react to any "mode of war" from the United States. Any missile or nuclear strike by the United States would be responded to "in kind." (CNN)

  • North Korea "will test missiles weekly" despite international condemnation and growing military tensions with the US. (BBC)

3/ China and Russia have dispatched spy vessels to shadow Trump’s "armada" as it approaches North Korean waters. The two navies are hoping to track the movement of US ships in an effort to prioritize stability by “strengthening warning and surveillance activities in the waters and airspace around the area. (The Telegraph)

4/ South Korea is deploying an American missile defense system despite Chinese opposition. China had previously sanctioned South Korea to persuade them not to deploy the missile defense system. South Korea’s acting president vowed to press ahead with the “swift deployment” of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system. (Washington Post)

5/ Trump taunts Democratic candidate in Georgia special election. He called the 30-year-old candidate a "super Liberal Democrat" that is soft on crime and big on raising taxes. Many see the special election as an early referendum on Trump's performance so far. (Fox News)

6/ Jeff Sessions has brought sweeping changes to the Department of Justice. He's moved quickly to roll back protections for transgender students, rescinded plans to phase out the government’s use of private prisons, and is resurrecting the tough-on-crime policies. (The Hill)

7/ Swing state voters wonder when the "winning" will start. Many still trust Trump, but wonder why his deal-making instincts don't translate. They admire his zeal, but are baffled by his tweets. They insist he will be fine, but suggest that maybe Pence should assume a more expansive role. (New York Times)

8/ Corporate America is uniting on climate change. While consumer brands and industrial giants have been supporting government action on climate change for years, the biggest and most important US energy companies are now dropping their resistance to a global climate deal. The consensus is the broadest it's been in a decade. (Axios)

9/ Trump's border wall could leave some Americans on the "Mexican side." Technically residents living near the Rio Grande Valley would be on US soil, but outside of a barrier built north of the river separating the two countries. (NBC News)

10/ The EPA becomes a target after Trump asks manufacturers how to boost domestic manufacturing. Nearly half of the 168 recommendations submitted were aimed at the EPA. (Washington Post)

11/ Russian TV says Trump is more dangerous than Kim Jong-Un. The Kremlin’s top TV mouthpiece said “Trump is more impulsive and unpredictable than Kim Jong Un." (Bloomberg)

poll/ 45% say Trump keeps his promises, down from 62% in February. (Gallup)

Day 87: Provocation.

1/ Trump "will take action" to end any North Korea threat to the US and will not accept a hostile regime with nuclear weapons. While the administration is not planning to respond to the failed missile launch, Trump's national security adviser said the launch "fits a pattern of provocative and destabilizing and threatening behavior on the part of the North Korean regime." (ABC News)

  • Trump administration warns North Korea to end its nuclear testing or face US reprisals. North Korean leader is “unpredictable” and a threat to the world, McMaster said, and it's "clear" that Trump would not allow the North to threaten the US. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Trump is willing to consider “kinetic” military action to counteract North Korea’s destabilizing actions, including a sudden strike. Trump's preference is for China to take the lead on dealing with North Korea. (Bloomberg)

2/ From South Korea, Pence calls the North Korean missile launch "a provocation." Trump is considering an array of military, diplomatic, and other options to respond to the "risks plaguing both the region and the United States." Pence is in South Korea on behalf of Trump to convey to the troops stationed there that “we’re proud of you and we’re grateful for your service.” (New York Times)

3/ Trump is "trying to out-North Korean the North Koreans" with his aggressive rhetoric against the totalitarian state, the former US ambassador to South Korea said. He added that people are nervous because they’re not sure what Trump means by it. "When you talk in those terms, you’ve got to be prepared to back it up." (Politico)

4/ A raft of potential conflicts are arising across the executive branch, according to an analysis of recently released financial disclosures. Trump's filled the White House and federal agencies with former lobbyists, lawyers and consultants who in many cases are helping to craft new policies for the same industries in which they recently earned a paycheck. (New York Times)

5/ The energy chief is ordering a study of the US electric grid to examining whether policies that favor wind and solar energy are accelerating the retirement of coal and nuclear plants critical to ensuring steady, reliable power supplies. The effort suggests that the administration may be looking for other ways to keep coal plants online. (Bloomberg)

6/ Trump wants to know why people are still talking about his taxes following a nationwide Tax March that drew thousands of people in dozens of cities. He declared on Twitter that “The election is over!” (Washington Post)

  • Protesters clash with Trump supporters in Berkeley, California. At least 21 people were arrested and 11 were injured, with seven transported to the hospital in unknown condition. (CNN)

7/ A GOP lawmaker responds to concerns about Internet privacy by saying the "Nobody’s got to use the Internet." Town hall attendees were told that using the Internet is a choice by their Wisconsin congressman, F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (Washington Post)

8/ Marijuana is "not a factor" in the war on drugs Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said. Solving the nation's drug problem does not involve "arresting a lot of users," either. Instead, he said methamphetamines, heroin, and cocaine were responsible for the deaths of 52,000 people that cost the country $250 billion. (Politico)

Day 86: Frankenmissile.

1/ North Korea parades new missiles in show of force, worrying analysts. Pyongyang's military hardware includes a new intercontinental ballistic missile, which appears to have elements of two other ICBMS, the KN-08 and KN-14 missiles. The KN-08 has a theoretical range of about 7,500 miles, which is enough to reach all of the United States from North Korea. The KN-14 is also capable of reaching the US mainland, although it has a shorter range. (Washington Post)

UPDATE:

North Korea – defying warnings from the Trump administration – fired off a ballistic missile that exploded almost immediately after launch. The launch occurred the morning after Kim Jong Un oversaw an elaborate military parade in the center of Pyongyang. (Bloomberg)

2/ Trump's strategy on North Korea is to apply "maximum pressure and engagement." The US is hopeful China and Russia will agree to tighter UN sanctions on North Korea if it conducts another nuclear test. The two countries are critical to pressuring North Korea because they both hold veto power on the UN Security Council. (Associated Press)

3/ Jeff Sessions says he admires Steve Bannon and that he has received no pushback from Ivanka Trump or Jared Kushner on his agenda. (CNN)

4/ Protesters call on Trump to release his taxes in tax day march. More than 100 marches are expected to occur throughout the day. (Washinton Post)

5/ The US tourism industry expects 4.3 million fewer visitors and lose $7.4 billion in revenue due to Trump's travel ban and reports of plans to implement “extreme vetting” of foreign travelers. (Washington Post)

6/ MOAB death toll up to 94 ISIS fighters, Afghanistan says. The US estimates there are 600 to 800 ISIS fighters in Afghanistan. (The Hill)

7/ Trump insists on a gold‑plated welcome in the Queen’s royal carriage when he visits Britain later this year. Obama chose not to travel in the carriage during a 2011 visit, opting to make the trip in his armored limousine. (The Times of London)

8/ Trump claims he can’t be sued for inciting his supporters to hurt protesters during a campaign rally. Trump’s lawyers argue that he cannot be sued for inciting violence because, as the President, he is immune from civil lawsuits. (Politico)

9/ The West Wing is a place where the ground is always shifting, with the exception of Ivanka and Kushner. The amount of time staff members have spent talking about one another to the media they despise has made the White House more visible to the public than any other presidential staff. (Vanity Fair)

10/ Trump's 2020 reelection campaign has raised $13.2 million in the first quarter. Meanwhile, the Republican National Committee says it raised another $41.3 million in the first three months of the year. (Politico)

poll/ Americans want to tax the rich. About 60% say they are very worried that corporations and wealthy individuals aren’t paying their fair share. (Vox)

Day 85: Preemptive.

1/ As global tensions flare over North Korea, Trump heads to Mar-a-Lago without his top aides. This is Trump's seventh trip to Mar-a-Lago since taking office. (CNN)

2/ The US is ready to launch a preemptive strike if North Korea is about to test a nuclear weapon. North Korea has warned that a "big event" is near. The threat of a preemptive strike comes on the same day the US announced the use of its "mother of all bombs." (NBC News)

  • North Korea's vice foreign minister says Trump's policy is more "vicious and aggressive" than Obama's. He added Trump's tweets that the North was "looking for trouble" were making tensions in the region worse. (Associated Press)

3/ North Korea threatens a preemptive strike of its own. The North said it would "hit the US first" with a "merciless retaliatory strike" should there be any signs of a US attack. (The Hill)

4/ China warned that tensions on the Korean Peninsula could get out of control and urged an end to “mutual provocation and threats.” North Korean military issued a statement threatening to attack American military bases in South Korea, warning that it could annihilate those targets “within minutes.” (New York Times)

5/ 36 ISIS fighters killed by "mother of all bombs." The blast destroyed three underground tunnels as well as weapons and ammunition, but no civilians were hurt. The military previously estimated ISIS had 600 to 800 active fighters in the area. (CNN)

6/ Russia said there is growing evidence that the Syrian chemical attack was staged. Russia says Syrian forces struck a building where terrorists kept the internationally banned chemical. The US says it has images proving the bomb left a crater in a road rather than hitting a building. (Bloomberg)

7/ Scott Pruitt called for an "exit" from the Paris climate agreement. It's the first time a high-ranking official has explicitly disavowed the agreement endorsed by nearly 200 countries to fight climate change. It would takes three years under the accord's terms for a party to withdraw, followed by a one-year waiting period — about the same length as Trump’s first term in office. (Washington Post)

8/ The White House won’t release records of its visitors, raising new concerns from transparency advocates. The decision not to voluntarily disclose visitor logs is a break from the policy of Obama’s, which released logs about about three months after visits occurred. Trump has called Obama the "least transparent president." (Politico)

9/ DeVos pick to head the Civil Rights Office once claimed reverse racism because she couldn't receive calculus help from a program designed to assist minority students while at Stanford. She is white. (ProPublica)

Day 84: Misdirected.

1/ British spies spotted the link between Trump’s campaign team and Russian intelligence operatives in late 2015. The GCHQ alerted their counterparts in Washington of suspicious “interactions” between figures connected to Trump and Russian agents. As part of routine surveillance of Russian intelligence assets, agencies began to see a pattern of connections emerge. (The Guardian)

  • Trump on Russia: "Things will work out fine." Despite candidate Trump’s repeated praise of Putin, the US has had a rocky relationship with Moscow under his administration. “We may be at an all-time low in terms of our relationship with Russia." (Politico)

2/ The US dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb in Afghanistan. The Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb – or MOAB – targeted an ISIS tunnel and cave complex. The bomb is more commonly known as the "mother of all bombs," since it's a 21,600-pound, GPS-guided munition with a one mile blast radius. (CNN)

  • Trump: I don’t know if using the "mother of all bombs" in Afghanistan will send a message to North Korea. He's not worried though, saying “the problem” with that country “will be taken care of,” regardless. (Politico)

3/ An airstrike by the American-led coalition fighting the Islamic State mistakenly killed 18 Syrian fighters allied with the US. The strike was the third time in a month that American-led airstrikes may have killed civilians or allies. The military called the episode “tragic." Central Command said the airstrike was "misdirected." (New York Times)

4/ Assad called the alleged chemical attack a "100 percent fabrication" in order to justify a US military strike. He denied any use of chemical weapons. Moscow said the deaths where the result of a conventional strike hitting a rebel arms depot containing "toxic substances". (Agence France Presse)

5/ Satellite photos show a North Korean nuclear site is "primed and ready" for a sixth nuclear test. Activity at the site over the past six weeks suggests they're in the final preparations for a test. North Korea marks the "Day of the Sun" this Saturday, which has typically been marked by displays of military strength. (CNN)

  • Trump threatens action on North Korea, but expressed “great confidence” in how China would deal with the North. He added the US would step in if needed. (Politico)
  • Trump says he offered China better trade terms in exchange for help on North Korea. He also said his administration won’t label China a currency manipulator in despite his campaign promise to do so. (Wall Street Journal)

6/ Kim Jong Un’s rockets are getting a boost from China. A North Korean booster rocket recovered by South Korea’s navy show that many of the key components were acquired from businesses based in China. (Washington Post)

7/ Trump privately signed a bill aimed at cutting off federal funding to Planned Parenthood and other groups that perform abortions. The bill allows states to withhold federal money from organizations that provide abortion services, whether or not these facilities also provide other family planning and medical services. Planned Parenthood says 3% of the services it provides are abortions. (CNN)

8/ Scott Pruitt will receive around-the-clock security detail as the EPA budget shrinks by 31%. The proposed budget would double the agency’s infrastructure and operations staff as it gets slashed from $8.1 billion to $5.7 billion, eliminating a quarter of the agency’s 15,000 jobs. (New York Times)

9/ On the same day that Paul Manafort left Trump’s campaign he borrowed $13 million from Trump-connected businesses. Manafort’s ties to Ukraine and Russia have come under scrutiny as federal officials investigate Russian meddling in the American presidential election. (New York Times)

10/ Portland joins Seattle in suing the Trump administration over it's order to withhold federal grants from "sanctuary cities". (The Oregonian)

11/ Sanders: Trump will be a one-term president. Bernie promises to “expose the Republican Party for what it is” during a nationwide tour to rally Democrats that launches next week. (Detroit News)

Day 83: Trading barbs.

1/ Putin meets with Tillerson in Moscow. Relations between the US and Russia have grown so tense that it was unclear whether Putin would meet with the Secretary of State. Tillerson's job is to persuade Moscow to abandon its support for Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad. (New York Times)

  • Tillerson and Putin appeared to be unable to agree on the facts involving the deadly chemical weapons assault on Syrian civilians or Russian interference in the American election. “There is a low level of trust between our countries,” Tillerson said. Both sides did agree to establish a working group to examine “the irritants” in relations between the United States and Russia. (New York Times)
  • Trump and Putin trade barbs as ministers meet. Trump said Russia was backing "an animal" while Putin said the US had violated the law and that the level of trust with the US had worsened since Trump took office. (BBC)

2/ $1.2 million in payments from a pro-Russian political party have been linked to Paul Manafort's firm in the US. A handwritten ledger surfaced in Ukraine last August with dollar amounts and dates listed next to the name of Manafort, who was then Donald Trump's campaign chairman. Manafort originally said the transactions in the ledger were fabricated. Now, he says the transactions corroborated are legal. A Ukrainian lawmaker said $750,000 received by Manafort was part of a money-laundering effort. (Associated Press)

  • Paul Manafort's lobbying firm has registered as foreign agent. The moves comes after the fact that the firm worked on a covert influence campaign in the US under the direction of Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates, two former campaign advisers to Trump. (Associated Press)

3/ Trump won’t say he still backs Bannon. Instead he offered up that "Steve is a good guy," but "I’m my own strategist." (New York Post)

4/ DeVos rolled back an Obama administration attempt to reform how student loan debt is collected. Obama issued a pair of memorandums last year requiring that the Federal Student Aid office do more to help borrowers manage their debt. DeVos withdrew the memos, saying the approach was inconsistent and full of shortcomings. She didn’t detail what fell short. More than 1 million Americans are annually defaulting on their student loans. (Bloomberg)

5/ The Trump administration is moving quickly to build up a nationwide deportation force. A Department of Homeland Security assessment shows the agency has found 33,000 more detention beds to house undocumented immigrants, and has opened discussions with dozens of local police forces that could be empowered with enforcement authority and identified where construction of Trump’s border wall could begin. (Washington Post)

6/ The Trump administration is lifting the federal hiring freeze. The impact is likely to be limited. It will be up to Congress to set spending levels for federal agencies. Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are highly critical of Trump's spending plan. (NPR)

7/ Trump’s budget director says their goal is to maximize high inequality, not low deficits. Republicans typically frame spending and taxes as a way to reduce out-of-control deficits, while framing regressive tax cuts as being unrelated to deficits. Mulvaney is conceding that deficits have nothing to do with the Republican fiscal agenda. (New York Magazine)

8/ Classified documents contradict both Nunes and Trump that Obama ordered wiretaps of Trump Tower to spy on him during the campaign. Lawmakers have not found evidence that Obama did anything unusual or illegal after reviewing the same intelligence reports brought to light by House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes. Nunes prompted outrage after claiming to have learned of possible “incidental collection” of the Trump team’s communications. (CNN)

9/ Silicon Valley is beginning to fight Trump's net neutrality plan. The lobbying group representing Facebook, Google, Twitter and others told FCC Chairman Ajit Pai that it shouldn’t weaken net neutrality rules. (Recode)

10/ Trump is “100% committed” to NATO. He reiterated that all NATO members need to increase their military spending to 2% of their economic output in order to strengthen the alliance’s long-term capabilities. (Wall Street Journal)

11/ Shifting course, Trump says health care repeal must happen before tax overhaul. Congressional budget rules will make it easier to pass broad overhauls of the tax code once the $1 trillion in Affordable Care Act taxes have been repealed. (Washington Post)

12/ The Trump administration has suspended its weekly report aimed at putting political pressure on sanctuary cities. The report was designed to name and shame sanctuary jurisdictions. (CNN)

Day 82: Sean Spicer.

1/ Sean Spicer claimed Hitler "didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons." Instead he sent Jews to "the Holocaust centers." While emphasizing how serious the US takes Assad's use of sarin gas, Spicer – unprompted – said that even someone as despicable as Adolf Hitler didn't use chemical weapons. Hitler used gas chambers to kill millions of Jews. (Washington Post)

  • Spicer apologized for claiming Hitler didn't use chemical weapons. "I mistakenly used an inappropriate, insensitive reference to the Holocaust," he said. (Politico)

2/ The White House accused Russia of engaging in a cover-up of the chemical weapons attack in Syria. US intelligence confirmed that the Syrians used sarin gas on their own people. In a declassified four-page report, the White House asserted that the Syrian and Russian governments sought to confuse the world community about the assault through disinformation and “false narratives.” (New York Times)

3/ Tillerson warned Russia that Assad’s reign is “coming to an end" and that Russia is becoming irrelevant in the Middle East by supporting him. Putin insisted that the chemical attack had stemmed from anti-Assad rebel units and are "worth investigating thoroughly." Putin likened the accusations to the flawed intelligence that the Bush administration used to justify the invasion of Iraq. (New York Times)

  • Russia wants the UN to investigate Syrian chemical attack. The Kremlin has blamed Syrian rebels for the chemical weapons attack delivered by a conventional airstrike. (Politico)

4/ Tillerson tells Moscow to pick Assad or the US. Putin immediately showed he wouldn't back down, saying Russia knew about planned "provocations" to blame Syria's government for using chemical weapons and that the U.N. should investigate the attack. (Associated Press)

5/ Putin says the US is planning a "fake" gas attack in Syria in order to discredit Assad and accuse him of using chemical weapons. Putin also says the US is planning to launch more missile strikes on Syria. (Reuters)

  • Spicer adds "barrel bombs" to the list of reasons why the US could attack Syria again. The use of barrel bombs is a near daily occurrence in Syria and taking action each time one is dropped would mark a dramatic shift in strategy. Spicer clarified that his comments should not be interpreted as a change in policy. (Washington Post)

6/ Eric Trump says Donald's decision to bomb Syria was influenced by a "heartbroken and outraged" Ivanka. Eric described his dad as "a great thinker, practical not impulsive." He also said "Ivanka is a mother of three kids and she has influence." Correct. (NBC News)

7/ Republicans are sweating a surprisingly close Kansas congressional race to fill Mike Pompeo's seat, which he gave up in order to head the CIA. The Republicans are up about a point in the polls and a slim win would be read as a sign of a backlash against Trump in the heartland. The situation has caused Trump and Pence to record robocalls, and Ted Cruz to flew to Wichita for a rally. (Kansas City Star)

8/ North Korea issued a warning as the US Navy strike group headed toward the Korean Peninsula. The North said it's "ready to react to any mode of war desired by the US" and will defend itself "by powerful force of arms." The North called the deployment of Navy ships a "reckless moves." (BBC)

9/ China offers concessions to avoid a trade war with the US. Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to a 100-day plan for trade that would provide better market access for financial sector investments and US beef exports. (Reuters)

10/ The Government Accountability Office is reviewing Trump’s presidential transition, focusing on funding, ethics and communications with foreign governments. (Huffington Post)

  • The FBI obtained a secret FISA warrant last summer to monitor former Trump adviser Carter Page. This is the clearest evidence so far that the FBI had reason to believe during the 2016 presidential campaign that a Trump campaign adviser was in touch with Russian agents. (Washington Post)

11/ Trump's on pace to surpass 8 years of Obama's travel spending in 1 year. Travel to Mar-A-Lago have cost an estimated $21.6 million in his first 80 days as president. Trump has spent 21 days at Mar-A-Lago. Do the math. (CNN)

  • Palm Beach County is tired of spending money on Trump’s frequent visits to Mar-a-Lago. They spends more than $60,000 a day when Trump visits and are considering special tax be levied against the property if the federal government doesn’t reimburse its costs. (Pioneer Press)

poll/ People love Bernie Sanders, hate Mitch McConnell. 75% of Sanders constituents approve of his job performance – the highest approval rating in the poll. 44% approve of McConnell's performance. (Salon)

Day 81: Partially responsible.

1/ The Trump administration demanded that Russia stop supporting the Syrian government with military aid and diplomatic cover. Rex Tillerson is set to meet in Moscow this week and says Russia bears partial responsibility for the chemical attack on villagers. The Kremlin said Putin has no plans to meet with the secretary of state. (Washington Post)

  • McCain: administration rhetoric is "partially to blame" for chemical attack in Syria. He disagrees with Tillerson’s position that the US needs to concentrate on defeating ISIS before it can further address Assad’s purported brutality against his own people, saying ISIS and Assad are “totally connected” issues. (CBS News)
  • Spicer: Trump's foreign policy is still "America first," calling the potential proliferation of chemical weapons a national security threat to Trump’s America-first. (Politico)

2/ Tillerson is taking a hard line against Russia on the eve of his first diplomatic trip to Moscow. He called the country “incompetent” for allowing Syria to hold on to chemical weapons and accused Russia of trying to influence elections in Europe using the same methods it employed in the US. (New York Times)

  • Tillerson: US will hold nations accountable for atrocities. Russia's support of the Syrian regime has made it complicit in Assad's actions, Tillerson said. (CNN)
  • US air strike gives Tillerson a boost for Moscow talks. (Reuters)

3/ Neil Gorsuch was sworn in as Supreme Court justice. It's taken more than a year of partisan fighting to get to this day. Obama nominated federal Judge Merrick Garland on March 16, 2016, but Republicans refused to consider Garland in the Senate, arguing that the next president should choose the nominee. (ABC News)

4/ The Office of Management and Budget will send a "guidance" letter to agencies ordering them to plan for big cuts. Agencies will likely consider selling real estate, laying off personnel, and eliminating programs deemed redundant in an effort to make themselves significantly smaller and less costly. (Axios)

5/ Trump scrapped the tax plan he campaigned on and is going back to the drawing board in a search for Republican consensus behind legislation to overhaul the US tax system. White House aides say the goal is to cut tax rates sharply enough to improve the economic picture in depressed rural and industrial pockets of the country where many Trump voters live. (Associated Press)

6/ Trump prepares order to expand offshore oil drilling, reversing an Obama-era policy that restricted the activity. The order is set to schedule the sale of new offshore oil and natural gas rights in US Atlantic and Arctic waters. The order is also expected to revoke former Obama’s decision to indefinitely withdraw most US Arctic waters and some Atlantic Ocean acreage from future leasing. (Bloomberg)

7/ Spanish police arrested a Russian programmer for alleged involvement in "hacking" the US election. Pyotr Levashov was arrested in Barcelona and was the subject of an extradition request by the US. (BBC)

8/ Trump makes nice with the Koch brothers, stopping by the table of the billionaire brothers while they were eating dinner at Mar-a-Lago. (Politico)

9/ Kushner and Bannon agree to "bury the hatchet." Reince Priebus told the feuding pair to end the "palace intrigue" after weeks of damaging infighting. (The Guardian)

  • Breitbart editors tell staffers to stop writing stories critical of Jared Kushner. Kushner had become a target of Breitbart after reports of his feuding with Stephen Bannon, the website's former executive chairman. (Business Insider)

10/ Three organizations sue Trump for not releasing White House visitor logs. The Secret Service has not provided visitor log information despite FOIA requests. The groups are asking for the records of who is visiting the White House and who Trump is meeting with at his private properties in New York and Florida. (The Hill)

11/ Trump takes credit for Toyota's planned $1.33 billion investment in an existing US factory. He said Toyota's investment “is further evidence that manufacturers are now confident that the economic climate has greatly improved under my administration." The spending plans have been in the works for years. (Bloomberg)

Day 80: Complicit.

1/ Two bombs targeting Egyptian churches killed at least 38 people and wounded more than 100. The first attack hit the St. George Church in the Nile Delta town of Tanta, north of the Egyptian capital. Hours later a second blast went off in front of St Mark's Cathedral in Alexandria. (NBC News)

2/ ISIS claimed responsibility for both attacks on Egyptian Coptic Churches in the deadliest day of violence against Christians in the country in decades. The bombings came at the start of the Holy Week leading to Easter. The Egyptian government has struggled to protect Christians against the Islamic State, which is intent on driving a wedge between the two religions. (New York Times)

3/ The USS Carl Vinson strike group is headed toward the Korean Peninsula as a show of force. The group – an aircraft carrier and three other ships – will make its way from Singapore toward the Korean peninsula as concerns grow about North Korea's advancing weapons program. (Reuters)

4/ Schiff says Russia is absolutely "complicit" in the Syrian chemical attack. He added "Russian intelligence may not be as good as ours, but it's good enough to know the Syrians had chemical weapons, were using chemical weapons." (ABC News)

5/ Trump's deputy National Security Advisor has been asked to step down. K. T. McFarland lasted less than three months and will become the US ambassador to Singapore. (Bloomberg)

6/ The Trump Administration contradicts itself on regime change in Syria. The secretary of state says there’s no change to US policy, but the U.N. ambassador says there can be no peace with Syrian President Bashar Assad. (Huffington Post)

  • McMaster weighs in: THe US eager for regime change in Syria. The national security adviser said that while the US would push for regime change in Syria, “We’re not the ones who are going to effect that change.” (Politico)

Day 79: Knife fights.

1/ Trump's had enough of the Bannon and Kushner knife fights in the media. Fed-up and frustrated, Trump tells Bannon and Reince Priebus to "work this out" with Kushner. (New York Times)

2/ Trump ordered Bannon and Kushner to sit-down and attempt to bury the hatchet. The two have been feuding in the media over policy differences, with both accusing the other of planting negative stories in the media. (Politico)

3/ Bannon could be forced out unless he adopts a more cooperative approach. Trump is planning a more inclusive style and "either Steve becomes a team player and gets along with people, or he'll be gone." Priebus would likely stay, however. (Axios)

4/ Twitter erupts over whether Trump should #FireBannon or #FireKushner. Amid the power clash between Bannon and Kushner, conservatives on Twitter began fighting themselves as to who should get the heave-ho. (Mic)

5/ Trump's "America First" constituency is furious about the Syria strikes. The conspiracy site Infowars called the nerve agent attack a “false flag” planted by the US deep state meant to force the country into a war. The now-furious supporters rallied around the hashtag #SyriaHoax to urge Trump to stay out of Syria. (Washington Post)

6/ Warplanes returned to the Syrian town devastated by a chemical weapons attack to bomb them again. There are no reports of chemical weapons being used this time. (CNN)

7/ Russia deploys warship to Mediterranean after US missile strikes. The missile-armed frigate is headed toward the Syrian port of Tartus on a routine voyage. The USS Porter and the USS Ross are stationed in the eastern Mediterranean sea. (The Hill)

8/ Obama aides pushed back against criticism of inaction on Syria, saying they proposed similar airstrikes in Syria, but were stymied by a Republican-controlled Congress. Trump blamed for the chemical attack on Obama, saying the deaths were a "consequence of the past administration's weakness and irresolution." (ABC News)

9/ Betsy DeVos' security detail is costing the Department of Education almost $1 million per month. The US Marshals Service will provide protection for DeVos for the next four years and is hiring nearly two dozen people specifically to guard her. No other cabinet-level official is being guarded by federal marshals. (NBC News)

Day 78: Tomahawked.

1/ Trump fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at Syria in response to a chemical weapons attack that killed more than 100 people. All but one of the missiles hit their intended target – a military airfield in Homs. Syria claimed at least six people were killed. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Russia failed to carry out a 2013 agreement to secure Syrian chemical weapons, adding that Moscow was either complicit or incompetent in its ability to uphold that deal. (NBC News)

UPDATE:

The US is "prepared to do more" in Syria, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley warned. Haley said the Russian government "bears considerable responsibility" for Assad's use of chemical weapons. (CNN)

  • Dozens of US missiles hit Syrian air base in response to the government’s chemical weapons attack. Trump said his decision was prompted by a failure of the world community to respond effectively to the Syrian civil war. (New York Times)

2/ Russia condemns missile strike and suspends air operation cooperation with the US. The accord was meant to prevent accidental encounters between the two militaries. Russia said it would bolster Syria’s air defense systems. Syria called the strikes “a disgraceful act.” (New York Times)

  • Syria strike puts US relationship with Russia at risk. Putin called the missile strike a “significant blow” to the Russian-American relationship, while Trump suggested Russia bore some responsibility for the chemical weapons attack on Syrian civilians. (New York Times)

3/ The US warned the Russians ahead of Syria missile strikes. In a statement: "Russian forces were notified in advance of the strike using the established deconfliction line. US military planners took precautions to minimize risk to Russian or Syrian personnel located at the airfield." (CNBC)

  • Eyewitness says Syrian military anticipated the airstrike. The military evacuated personnel and moved equipment ahead of the strike. (ABC News)

4/ Three killed in Swedish "terror attack." A truck drove into a crowd on a shopping street and crashed into a department store in central Stockholm. Nobody has been arrested in connection with the attack. (Reuters)

UPDATE:

Man arrested after truck plows into store killing 4. It's unclear whether he was the wanted man seen in the images released by police earlier in the day. (Fox News)

5/ The Senate confirmed Neil Gorsuch as the 113th Supreme Court justice. The vote was only possible after the Senate Republicans changed the rules meant to ensure deliberation and bipartisan cooperation. On Thursday, Democrats waged a filibuster, denying him the 60 votes required to advance to a final vote. (New York Times)

6/ Trump is contemplating major changes to his White House staff, which could include the replacement of Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon. A top Trump aide said the situation is fluid, "but it's very unclear the president's willing to pull that trigger." (Axios)

  • Bannon attended National Security Council meeting after he was removed from the committe. Bannon attended the meeting because "he is one of the president's closest and most trusted advisors." (CNBC)

7/ House Freedom Caucus signals support for healthcare bill with changes. The group wants to see health insurance coverage waivers related to community rating protections with the exception of gender, essential health benefits and guaranteed issue. (Reuters)

8/ US employers added just 98,000 jobs in March, the fewest in a year. The unemployment rate, however, fell to a nearly 10-year low of 4.5%. (ABC News)

9/ The government withdraws its request ordering Twitter to identify a Trump critic. Twitter filed a lawsuit to protest that order, saying that it violated the user's First Amendment right to free expression. (Washington Post)

Day 77: Filibustered.

1/ Senate Republicans deploy the "nuclear option" to clear the path for Neil Gorsuch. Republicans changed the Senate rules to bar filibusters of Supreme Court nominees, allowing Gorsuch's nomination to go forward on a simple majority vote. The rule change fundamentally alters the way the Senate operates and will likely lead to the elevation of ideologically extreme judges if only a majority is required for confirmation. (New York Times)

  • The legislative filibuster will be at risk now that the Senate has gone nuclear. Since Mitch McConnell has loosened the rules for judicial nominees, he is certain to face intensifying pressure from conservative activists and Trump’s White House to do it again for legislation. (Washington Post)
  • Lawmakers once again choose partisanship over compromise. Even Republicans who voted with McConnell expressed regret. (Bloomberg)

2/ Democrats filibuster Gorsuch after Republicans fall short of the 60 votes needed to end debate on the nomination and proceed to a final vote of Gorsuch. Mitch McConnell has vowed to change the Senate rules in order to break the filibuster and move to a final vote to confirm him by simple majority. (New York Times)

  • The Senate is poised for a historic clash over Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. Democrats are vowing to block a procedural vote to advance Gorsuch's nomination. Republicans are expected to retaliate, changing the Senate rules to allow Gorsuch and future Supreme Court nominees to be confirmed by a simple majority. A final vote is not scheduled til Friday. (Washington Post)

3/ Devin Nunes temporarily steps aside from leading the House Intelligence Committee. The move comes as the House Committee on Ethics announced that Nunes was under investigation for "unauthorized disclosures of classified information.” Nunes blamed his decision on “left-wing activist groups” that filed accusations against him, which he called “entirely false and politically motivated.” (New York Times)

4/ Team Trump turns on Bannon. Here's what Steve Bannon's demotion tells us about the Trump White House. (Axios)

  • Trump was not pleased by the “President Bannon” puppet-master theme promoted by magazines, late-night talk shows and Twitter. (New York Times)
  • Kushner believes Bannon’s desire to deconstruct the government is hurting Trump. The onetime New York Democrat has clashed with the hard-right nationalist, as Kushner's taken on an increasingly prominent role in the West Wing. Bannon complained that Kushner is trying to undermine his populist approach. (Politico)
  • Bannon threatened to leave White House after he was removed from the National Security Council. “It hasn’t all been fun, and I know he’s been frustrated,” a Republican close to Bannon said. (Fox News)
  • Republican mega-donor, Rebekah Mercer, urged Bannon not to resign, saying his role is a "long-term play." (Politico)
  • Bannon calls Kushner a "cuck" and a "globalist." The fighting between Kushner and Bannon has been “nonstop” in recent weeks and is an “open secret” that the two often clash “face-to-face." (The Daily Beast)
  • Breitbart opens fire on Kushner. The news site published articles highlighting Kushner’s meetings with the Russian ambassador, questioning the ethics of his business dealings, criticizing his “thin resume in diplomacy,” and speculating about whether he is leaking negative stories about Bannon. (Media Matters)
  • Bannon to associates: "I love a gunfight." After a series of high-level White House leaks portraying Steve Bannon as fed up with his job and ready to quit, Trump's chief strategist has told associates the stories are "100 percent nonsense" and he's playing for keeps. (Axios)

5/ The EPA moves to dismantle programs that protect kids from lead paint. The proposed cuts would roll back programs aimed at reducing lead risks by $16.61 million and more than 70 employees. 38 million U.S. homes contain lead-based paint. (Washington Post)

6/ Trump prodded House Republicans to tweak the health care bill before leaving for spring break. The House Rules Committee will consider an amendment to the bill in an effort to show momentum toward a deal as lawmakers return home for two weeks. (Bloomberg)

7/ Ivanka Trump reached out to the president of Planned Parenthood seeking common ground. In a sit-down with Cecile Richards, the two talked about how the organization is being targeted by Republicans seeking to defund it. Richards made sure Ivanka fully understood what Planned Parenthood does, how it is funded, and why it would be a terrible idea to prevent it from being able to see Medicaid patients. (Politico)

8/ GOP senator believes Trump’s promise to build a border wall “was a metaphor for securing the border.” Trump has never referred to his campaign promise as a metaphor and repeatedly insisted and vowed the wall will be built. (The Hill)

9/ Trump on Syria's Assad: "Something should happen" after this week's chemical attack on civilians. Defense Secretary James Mattis will lead Trump through his options, including the potential consequences for military action. (CNN)

  • Tillerson: "No role" for Assad in Syria. The Secretary of State is considering an "appropriate response" to the Syrian government's apparent use of chemical weapons. (The Hill)

10/ The CIA had information last summer indicating that Russia was working to help elect Trump. The briefing revealed a split between the CIA and FBI, where officials believed that Russia’s cyberattacks were aimed only at disrupting America’s political system – not at getting Trump elected. (New York Times)

11/ Twitter sued the federal government to block the unmasking of an anonymous account that had been posting critical messages about the Trump administration. Twitter said it could not be compelled to disclose the account holder’s identity. The company argued that the government’s request and reasoning were unlawful, and that uncovering the identity of the user would have “a grave chilling effect” on the speech of the many “alt-accounts” that voice resistance to government policies. (New York Times)

12/ Trump reflects on his "successful 13 weeks" in office. It's been 11 weeks. (Talking Points Memo)

Day 76: Demoted.

1/ Steve Bannon has been removed from the National Security Council. The White House said Bannon was placed on the committee to monitor Michael Flynn - he never attended a meeting. The national intelligence director and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are "regular attendees" of the NSC’s principals committee, again. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster made the change. (Bloomberg)

  • Pence says Bannon's removal from the National Security Council is not a demotion. Adding, Bannon is a "very highly valued" member of Trump's administration and will "continue to play important policy roles." (Talking Points Memo)

2/ Neil Gorsuch failed to cite the source of work he copied in his book and an academic article. Gorsuch borrowed from the ideas, quotes, and structures of scholarly and legal works without citing them. The White House pushed back against suggestions of impropriety. Hey, @Gorsuch, here's how you cite a source => (Politico)

3/ Democratic senator holds floor in 15 hour marathon speech criticizing Gorsuch. Democrats say Gorsuch is too radical in his strict interpretations of the Constitution to serve on the Supreme Court. (ABC News)

4/ A federal appeals court ruled that companies cannot discriminate against LGBT employees because of their sexual orientation. The judge wrote that the Civil Rights Act, which bars discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin or sex, needed to be interpreted based on evolving societal norms. The battle is likely headed to the Supreme Court. (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

5/ North Korea fired a ballistic missile as Trump prepares to meet with Chinese President Xi. The missile fell into the Sea of Japan, but the concern surrounding North Korea's weapons program is that it could eventually equip long-range missiles with a nuclear warhead. (CNN)

6/ Ivanka Trump: "If being complicit is wanting to be a force for good… then I'm complicit." Trump said people will have to do without her “public denouncements” and trust that she's telling her dad hard truths about his policies. (CBS News)

7/ The House Intelligence Committee wants Susan Rice to testify in the probe of alleged Russian election interference. The White House and the House panel’s chairman have accused the Obama administration of improperly using surveillance information, including “unmasking” the redacted names of Trump’s transition team members for political gain. (Wall Street Journal)

8/ Trump says Susan Rice may have committed a crime by seeking the identities of his associates. Trump provided no evidence to back his claim, but said he thinks this is "going to be the biggest story. It’s such an important story for our country and the world. It is one of the big stories of our time.” Current, former, Republican and Democratic intelligence officials have all said that there is nothing unusual or unlawful about Rice's requests. The identities of Americans swept up in surveillance of foreign officials by intelligence agencies are supposed to be obscured, but can be revealed for national security reasons – a regular occurrence. (New York Times)

  • Rice denies compiling and leaking names of Trump officials from intelligence reports. Rice said she “absolutely” never sought to uncover “for political purposes” the names of Trump officials concealed in intelligence intercepts. (Washington Post)

9/ Rubio: It's no coincidence that the Syria gas attack happened after Tillerson's "concerning" comments. Last week in Turkey, Tillerson said he thinks the long term status of President Assad will be decided by the Syrian people. (CNN)

10/ Trump: Chemical attacks in Syria “crossed many, many lines beyond a red line." He then criticized Obama for not taking military action in Syria – at the time Trump had publicly urged the president not to do so. (Politico)

  • Trump’s changes his view of Syria and Assad Altered after "unacceptable" chemical attack, say he would not tolerate the “heinous” chemical weapons attack. (New York Times)

11/ The Senate's most senior Republicans are split on the going “nuclear” and changing the rules to confirm Gorsuch. McConnell says the "nuclear option" helps the Senate, while McCain says "whoever says that is a stupid idiot." (Washington Post)

poll/ 55% approve of the Affordable Care Act. (Gallup)

Day 75: Undermine.

1/ The Republican health care proposal would undermine coverage for those with pre-existing conditions. States could could opt out of requiring insurers to cover essential health benefits. As well as do away with requiring insurance companies to charge the same price to everyone who is the same age. The result might be a market that is much more affordable for healthy people, but would become largely inaccessible to anyone who really needs help paying for medical care. (New York Times)

  • House Republicans rekindled health care talks. The White House and the Freedom Caucus discussed a proposal to revive the bill, which would cast aside the Affordable Care Act’s pre-existing conditions provision. (Washington Post)
  • Trumpcare revival talks are falling apart ahead of Pence's meeting tonight. Conservatives are blaming Paul Ryan for blocking the White House bill, while the Freedom Caucus is making unreasonable demands that are losing net votes. (Axios)

2/ Assad apparently "gasses" civilians days after Tillerson suggested he could stay in power. In a series of airstrikes, helicopters dropped what is likely sarin gas in an attack on the city of Khan Sheikhoun – the signs of trauma suggest it's a nerve agent, like sarin. The Trump administration has shifted from their accommodationist tone, to blaming the Assad regime and Obama for the attacks. (The Daily Beast)

  • Spicer said Syrian chemical attack is a "consequence" of Obama "weakness." Despite the attack, the Trump administration has said that it is up to the people of Syria to pick a leader and that their priority is not getting Assad out of office. (CNN)
  • McCain blames the Trump administration's decision to no longer prioritize ending the Syrian civil war. He called it "another disgraceful chapter in American history." The Trump administration has doubled down on prioritizing the fight against ISIS over ending the Syrian civil war and getting rid of Assad. (CNN)

3/ The Trump administration is considering steps for "extreme vetting." Foreigners entering US could be forced to disclose contacts on their mobile phones, social media passwords and financial records, and to answer probing questions about their ideology. (Wall Street Journal)

4/ Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered a review of federal agreements with dozens of law enforcement agencies. In an effort to improve relations between the police and the communities they serve, the Obama administration negotiated reform agreements with troubled police forces. Sessions directed his staff to look at whether the consent decrees adhere to the Trump administration’s goals of promoting officer safety and morale while fighting violent crime. The sweeping federal review could affect consent decrees nationwide. (New York Times)

5/ Trump revoked the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces order Obama put in place to ensure that companies with federal contracts comply with 14 labor and civil rights laws. Advocates say the order rolls back two hard fought victories for women in the workplace: paycheck transparency and a ban on forced arbitration clauses for sexual harassment, sexual assault or discrimination claims. (NBC News)

6/ Trump signs internet privacy bill, gutting rules that prohibited internet providers like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T from sharing your web browsing history with other companies. The rules would have required wireless and broadband providers to get your permission before sharing your sensitive, private information. (CNET)

7/ The State Department cut off funding to the UN's family planning agency that works on maternal and reproductive health. In 2016, US funding prevented an estimated 320,000 unintended pregnancies, averted almost 100,000 unsafe abortions, and provided about 800,000 people with access to contraception. (BuzzFeed News)

8/ Trump urged investigators to scrutinize alleged spying on his transition team. Trump's administration is concerned about the Obama administration’s role in unmasking identities in intelligence reports. Trump is facing two congressional investigations into Russia’s alleged meddling in the election. The FBI is also conducting its own investigation. (Wall Street Journal)

  • Susan Rice may "be of interest to us" the Senate Intelligence chairman says. Republican lawmakers are asking the Senate Intelligence Committee to force Rice to testify under oath after a report from Bloomberg suggested Rice requested the identities of people connected to Trump be “unmasked" on dozens of occasions. (Washington Post)

9/ California's Senate passes "sanctuary state" bill – gives middle finger to Trump. The bill limits state and local police cooperation in enforcing federal immigration laws in order to protect local immigrant populations. Jeff Sessions has said the administration will use federal funds to crack down on "sanctuary cities" and states that choose not to comply with federal immigration laws. (CNN)

poll/ Trump approval rating plummets. 34% of Americans approve of Trump’s job performance. (The Hill)

Day 74: Nuclear option.

1/ Democrats secured the 41 votes needed to filibuster Gorsuch, setting the stage for Senate Republicans to enact the "nuclear option" – a unilateral rule change to eliminate the filibuster. Trump and the Republicans have vowed that Gorsuch will be confirmed despite any filibuster. (Washington Post)

  • Democrats are close to the 41 votes needed to block the nomination of Gorsuch. Mitch McConnell reiterated that he's prepared to kill the filibuster to get the high court nominee confirmed. (Politico)
  • Senators fear fallout of nuclear option. Both parties are speculating that a blowup over Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court could lead not only to the end of the filibuster for such nominations, but for controversial legislation as well. (The Hill)

2/ Trump says the US can "solve" North Korea's nuclear weapons testing program without the help of China. The assertion comes four days ahead of Trump's first meeting with the Chinese President. (NBC News)

  • North Korean defector says the "world should be ready." The country's "desperate" dictator is prepared to use nuclear weapons to strike the US and its allies. (NBC News)

3/ Trump can take profits from his businesses at any time. Previously unreported changes to Trump’s trust stipulate that it “shall distribute net income or principal to Donald J. Trump at his request" – without ever telling us. (ProPublica)

4/ A former national security adviser requested the identity of dozens of people in raw intelligence reports. White House lawyers say Susan Rice requested intelligence reports that related to Trump transition activities. Rice’s unmasking requests were likely within the law. (Bloomberg)

5/ Blackwater founder Erik Prince and a Russian close to Putin established a back channel line of communication between Moscow and President-elect Trump. The meeting was brokered by the United Arab Emirates nine days before Trump's inauguration to explore whether Russia could be persuaded to curtail its relationship with Iran, which would likely require major sanction concessions. Prince had no formal role with the Trump campaign or transition team, but he was seen in the Trump transition offices in New York in December. His sister Betsy DeVos serves as education secretary in the Trump administration. (Washington Post)

6/ Trump’s proposed budget would disproportionately harm the rural areas and small towns that were key to his win. Excitement about Trump’s presidency has been dulled by confusion over an agenda that seems aimed at hurting communities more than helping them. (Washington Post)

7/ Trump shifts course on Egypt and praised its authoritarian leader, saying President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has "done a fantastic job in a very difficult situation." Trump's predecessors considered authoritarians like Sisi to be distasteful and at times barred them from the White House. Instead, Trump signaled that a partner in the battle against international terrorism is more important to the US than concerns over its brutal suppression of domestic dissent. (New York Times)

8/ Jared Kushner flew to Iraq to get a first-hand assessment of counter-ISIS operations. Kushner was invited by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to examine ways of accelerating a US-led coalition campaign in uprooting Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. (Reuters)

9/ Trump won't throw out the first pitch on opening day. But it isn't because he can't. White House officials cite a scheduling conflict. CNN writes nearly 1,000 words that Trump can, indeed, get the ball over the plate. (CNN)

Day 73: Incited violence.

1/ Trump may have incited violence during a Lousiville campaign rally a federal judge in Kentucky said. Trump's attorneys sought to have the case dismissed on free speech grounds. The judge noted that speech inciting violence is not protected by the First Amendment and ruled that there is plenty of evidence that the protesters' injuries were a “direct and proximate result” of Trump's words. Trump repeatedly said “get 'em out of here” before the protesters were shoved and punched by his supporters. (Washington Post)

2/ Michael Flynn initially failed to disclose payments from Russian propaganda network. The former National Security Advisor’s financial disclosure forms made no mention of a $45,000 payment from a Russian state-run media network. (The Daily Beast)

3/ The United Nations warns that Americans’ right to protest is in danger under Trump. At least 19 states have introduced measures that would criminalize peaceful protests, stiffen penalties for demonstrators who block traffic, and even allow motorists to run over and kill agitators as long as the crash was "accidental." The bills represent an “alarming and undemocratic” trend that could have a chilling effect on activism. (Washington Post)

4/ Democrats are urging Trump to veto the bill allowing your internet provider to sell your browsing history without your permission. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer said consumers would be stripped of critical privacy protections and would make private data from laptops, iPads, and cellphones fair game for internet companies to sell.(Associated Press)

5/ The Chinese ambassador has established a back channel with Jared Kushner. The Chinese have found Trump to be a bewildering figure, but Kushner has been a steady hand, helping orchestrate a fence-mending phone call between Trump and the Chinese President over the four-decade-old “One China” policy on Taiwan. (New York Times)

6/ FBI is probing whether Trump aides helped Russian intelligence carry out cyberattacks on the Democratic National Committee and other political targets in early 2016. The FBI is going back further than originally reported to determine the extent of possible coordination. (CBS News)

7/ Obama administration officials made a list of Russian probe documents to keep them safe. The former administration was so concerned about what would happen to key classified documents after Trump took office that they created a list of document serial numbers to give to senior members of the Senate Intelligence Committee. (NBC News)

8/ Mark Cuban doesn't think Trump could have pulled off Russia collusion. Cuban argued that Trump "isn't detail oriented, organized or big picture enough" to pull off any such "conspiracy." (The Hill)

9/ The Senate Judiciary Committee panel is set to vote on Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. The vote sets the stage for a showdown in how Gorsuch's confirmation will be achieved: Democrats will try to filibuster the vote. Republicans have vowed to change the Senate's rules if necessary. (USA Today)

10/ Russian government posts April Fools' Day prank offering "election interference." The Russian Foreign Ministry posted on an audio message of an automated telephone switchboard to arrange a call from a Russian diplomat to “to use the services of Russian hackers,” and “to request election interference.” (CBS News)

Day 72: Disclosures.

1/ The Trump administration released the financial disclosures for White House staff. Here's the tl;dr. (New York Times)

  • Bannon made between $1.3 and 2.3 million last year.
  • Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner still benefit from their real estate empires. (New York Times)
  • Gary Cohn, a former Goldman executive, is among the wealthiest White House employees.
  • Kellyanne Conway made over $800,000 from her consulting firm.

2/ Kushner’s privileged status stokes resentment among White House staff. Colleagues question if he is capable of following through on his commitments, complaining that he dabbles in a myriad issues and walks in and out of meetings. (Politico)

3/ Trump tweets at NBC to stop covering the "phony" story about Russian interference in the election. It's not clear what set Trump off, but he wants NBC News to devote more attention to the unproven claim that Obama spied on him. (The Hill)

4/ The White House is exploring a reorganization to stabilize the administration consumed by crisis and chaos. Following the failure to advance the health care legislation, Pence, Priebus, Kushner, Bannon, and chief economic adviser Gary Cohn gathered held post-mortems about what went wrong. (Politico)

  • Trump’s White House struggles to get out from under the Russia controversy. Aides have expressed frustration at their inability to gain control of the narrative. (Washington Post)

5/ Trump skipped out on signing two executive orders after a reporter asked about Michael Flynn. Pence tried to persuade Trump to return to his desk, where the orders remained unsigned. Instead, Trump made a gesture to Pence to gather the orders. Trump signed the orders out of sight of the media. (Huffington Post)

Day 71: Witch hunt.

1/ Trump urged Flynn to seek immunity, calling the congressional inquiries a "witch hunt" by the media and Democrats. Trump tweeted the statement after Flynn asked for immunity in order to testify to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. (New York Times)

  • Flynn offered to cooperate with congressional investigators in exchange for immunity from prosecution. Officials said the idea of immunity was a "non-starter." (Washington Post)

2/ The Senate Intelligence Committee rejected Flynn's request for immunity in exchange for his testimony. Flynn's lawyer was told it was "wildly preliminary" and that immunity was "not on the table." (NBC News)

3/ Schiff said it's too early for the House Intelligence Committee to discuss immunity in exchange for Flynn's testimony. Schiff said he would discuss Flynn’s offer with the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Justice Department, and that he would need to receive details about what Flynn would say. (Bloomberg)

4/ Tom Price helped kill a rule that would hurt drug company profits the same day he acquired drug stock. The HHS secretary bought $90,000 worth of pharmaceutical stock. He said his broker acted on his behalf without his involvement or knowledge. (ProPublica)

5/ The first two Democrats back Trump's Supreme Court pick. The support by Senators Joe Manchin and Heidi Heitkamp of Neil Gorsuch give Republicans two of the eight Democratic votes needed to avoid a fight on the Senate floor next week. (Reuters)

6/ Trump says he will hold Congress "accountable" on health care. He began the day on Twitter, calling for his supporters to fight conservative members of his own party in the midterm elections. Trump’s director of legislative affairs called that “accountability.” (ABC News)

7/ Germany balks at Tillerson's call to spend more on NATO defense. The German foreign minister said it was neither "reachable nor desirable" for Germany to spend the 2% of member states' economic output on defense. NATO allies have until 2024 to do that. (Reuters)

8/ U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says North Korea has "got to be stopped." He emphasized diplomatic means of changing Pyongyang’s “reckless” agenda. (Washington Post)

9/ Senate voted to eliminate a rule aimed at boosting retirement accounts for low-income workers. Senators voted 50-49 to roll back a rule meant to encourage states to create retirement plans for private-sector workers whose employers do not offer their own retirement plans. (The Hill)

Day 70: "Climate change."

1/ Flynn offers to testify in exchange for immunity. The former national security adviser tells FBI, the House and Senate intelligence committees he’s willing to be interviewed in exchange for a grant of immunity from prosecution. (Wall Street Journal)

2/ The Energy Department's climate office banned the use of the phrase "climate change." It's also the only office with the word "climate" in its name. Staff were told not to use "emissions reduction" or the "Paris Agreement" in written memos or briefings. (Politico)

  • The Vatican urged Trump to reconsider climate change position and listen to "dissenting voices." The US could be passed by China as the leader in environmental protection, which is investing heavily in the export of clean energy products such as solar panels and wind turbines. (Reuters)
  • The House voted to restrict the kind of scientific studies and data that the EPA can use to justify new regulations. The Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment Act passed 228-194 and prohibits the EPA from writing any regulation that uses science that is not publicly available. (The Hill)

3/ EPA chief Scott Pruitt rejected the agency's scientific conclusion to permanently ban one of the most widely used insecticides at farms nationwide. The agency’s own chemical safety experts said that exposure to chlorpyrifos potentially causes learning and memory declines. The insecticide was banned in 2000 for use in most household settings, but is still used at about 40,000 farms on about 50 different types of crops, ranging from almonds to apples. (New York Times)

4/ Trump declared war on the House Freedom Caucus, tweeting "we must fight them” in the 2018 midterm elections. The group of hard-line conservative Republicans blocked the health care bill. (Washington Post)

  • Ryan warned Republican holdouts they need to unify or risk Trump cutting a deal with Democrats. Republicans appear uncomfortable with the harsh new tone coming from Ryan. (Bloomberg)
  • Paul Ryan said the health care bill is going through a "growing pain." He's been encouraging members to keep talking to each other until they figure out "how we get to yes." (CBS News)

5/ A pair of White House officials provided intelligence reports to Devin Nunes that showed Trump and his associates were incidentally swept up in foreign surveillance by American spy agencies. Nunes has been faulted by his colleagues for sharing the information with Trump before consulting with the intelligence committee. (New York Times)

6/ Putin called Russia election meddling claims "fictional, illusory, provocations and lies." When asked if Russia interfered in the election, Putin responded: "Read my lips: No." He also downplayed the meeting between Kushner and Russian banker and says US-Russian relations have reached the "point of absurdity." (CNN)

  • The House and Senate probes on Russia are headed down different paths. The House Intelligence Committee has been publicly marred by controversy by Chairman Devin Nunes. The Senate Intelligence Committee has presented a united front as they shared details of their ongoing inquiry, including possible collusion, and vowed to "get to the bottom of this." (ABC News)

7/ North Carolina reached an agreement to repeal the restrictive transgender bathroom law. Gay rights advocates raised objections, arguing that the compromise would continue to allow discrimination. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people would have no statewide anti-discrimination ordinance or ability to seek protections from local government for several years. (New York Times)

8/ The city of Seattle sued the Trump administration over its executive order to withhold federal funds from "sanctuary cities." Seattle argued it amounted to unconstitutional federal coercion and the mayor called the Trump administration a "bully." (Reuters)

9/ The Trump administration signaled it would seek only modest changes to NAFTA, including a government-procurement section that could open up door for more "Buy American" policies. Trump called the North American Free Trade Agreement a “disaster” during the campaign. (Wall Street Journal)

10/ Pence breaks tie in Senate vote on Planned Parenthood funding. The Senate can now debate on a resolution that would reverse a proposed Obama administration action that bans states from blocking Title X family planning grants to Planned Parenthood and other health care providers that offer abortion. Title X funding covers services such as contraception, STD screenings and treatments but cannot be used to pay for abortion services. (Politico)

Day 69: Unauthorized disclosure.

1/ Nunes could be facing an ethics probe after disclosing the existence of a foreign surveillance warrant. House Ethics Committee rules compel Congress to investigate any "unauthorized disclosure of intelligence." (The Daily Beast)

2/ FBI Director James Comey attempted to reveal Russian tampering months before the election. Obama administration officials blocked him. Comey had pitched the idea of writing an op-ed about Putin's effort to influence the election. It would not have mentioned whether the FBI was investigating Trump’s campaign workers or others close to him. (Newsweek)

3/ The Senate Intelligence Committee has asked to question 20 people in its investigation into Russian interference in the election. The bipartisan composure contrasts the House Intelligence Committee, where Representative Devin Nunes ties to the Trump White House have raised doubts about his ability to conduct an impartial investigation. (New York Times)

  • Fiorina calls for an independent panel or special prosecutor to handle the Russia investigation. (The Hill)
  • Senate steps up as House Russia probe flails. The leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee delivered a bipartisan show of force. (Politico)

4/ The US won’t tally LGBT people in the 2020 census. A draft of subjects planned for the census initially had a proposal to include sexual orientation and gender identity for the first time. That inclusion was not listed in the finalized report delivered to Congress this week. (Huffington Post)

5/ Neil Gorsuch looks short of the 60 votes needed to avoid a filibuster. This is as close to must-win as it gets for Trump and the GOP after last week's health care debacle and McConnell has guaranteed Gorsuch will be confirmed on April 7. If Democrats filibuster, McConnell will then need to whip 50 of his 52 members to change the rules unilaterally to end the filibuster by simple majority and allow Gorsuch’s confirmation. (Politico)

6/ Ivanka Trump will take an unpaid federal job as her father's assistant. She'll be moving from an informal, voluntary role to an official adviser. Her previous role raised ethics concerns, which would allow her to avoid some rules and disclosures. (New York Times)

7/ House GOP is weighing another vote on Obamacare. Paul Ryan is encouraging members to continue talking about how to “get to a place of yes” on health care. Members of Freedom Caucus have been talking with Republican moderate holdouts in an effort to identify changes that could bring them on board with the measure. (Bloomberg)

8/ Theresa May triggers the official Brexit process in a letter to the EU. The move kicks off a two-year negotiation period for both sides to agree to the divorce and establish a new trade deal before the March 2019 deadline. (BBC)

9/ DNC Chairman asks all staffers for their resignation letters in a major overhaul of the party's organization. The mass resignation letters will give Tom Perez a chance to completely remake the DNC's headquarters from scratch. (NBC News)

10/ Trump’s company pursues a second Washington hotel amid criticism over ethics. The second hotel would be under the new Scion brand and licensed by a developer from the Trumps. (Washington Post)

11/ Police union warns Trump's "sanctuary city" cuts could risk safety. The Fraternal Order of Police were one of Trump's biggest supporters during the 2016 election. (Reuters)

12/ Sean Spicer lashes out at a reporter: "Stop shaking your head." Spicer snapped at the American Urban Radio Networks' correspondent April Ryan after she asked how Trump's administration would work to repair its image. (NBC News)

13/ Trump attacks The New York Times again. It's not clear what set Trump off this time, but he took to Twitter falsely recalling the time when the "failing" New York Times "apologized" to its subscribers after the election "because their coverage was so wrong." (Talking Points Memo)

14/ Health secretary pledges to uphold Obamacare, but little else. Tom Price was non-committal when asked if he would continue to promote Obamacare enrollment and enforce essential health benefits requirement, such as maternity benefits. (CNBC)

poll/ Republicans blame bill, not Trump, for the health care defeat. 49% of those surveyed said the Republican bill failed because it "just wasn’t popular." 30% of Republicans said it didn’t pass because "Democrats didn’t compromise." (CBS News)

Day 68: Tarnished.

1/ Democrats call for Nunes to recuse himself in Russia probe. Pelosi and Schiff both say Nunes is too close to the White House to lead a thorough investigation into Russia. His behavior has discredited and tarnished the House Intelligence Committee, making it difficult for him to remain credible. The committee has scrapped all meetings this week amid the turmoil. (CNN)

UPDATE:

The first GOP lawmaker calls for Nunes to recuse himself. "How can you be chairman of a major committee and do all these things behind the scenes and keep your credibility? You can't keep your credibility," Walter Jones said. (The Hill)

2/ Trump administration tried to block Sally Yates from testifying to Congress on Russia. The Justice Department notified Yates earlier this month that the administration considers a great deal of her possible testimony to be barred from discussion in a congressional hearing because the topics are covered by the presidential communication privilege. (Washington Post)

3/ Trump signs an executive order to dismantle Obama's climate change policies. Trump celebrated the move as a way to promote energy independence and restore thousands of lost coal industry jobs. The executive order directs the EPA to start the legal process of withdrawing and rewriting the Clean Power Plan. (New York Times)

  • Trump to sign an order dismantling Obama's efforts to reverse climate change. The order will suspend, rescind, or flag for review more than a half-dozen measures in an effort to boost domestic energy production in the form of fossil fuels. Trump has called global warming a "hoax" invented by the Chinese. (Associated Press)
  • Trump moves decisively to wipe out Obama’s climate-change record. The sweeping executive order seeks to lift a moratorium on federal coal leasing and remove the requirement that federal officials consider the impact of climate change when making decisions. (Washington Post)
  • Despite Trump's move to ease carbon emissions, companies will continue to shift from coal. Energy experts say Trump's expected roll back of the Clean Power Plan is unlikely to reverse the U.S. utility industry’s shift to natural gas, solar and wind as leading sources of electricity. (Wall Street Journal)

4/ Trump repeatedly turned to wealthy Russians and oligarchs allegedly connected to organized crime. Trump and his companies have been linked to at least 10 wealthy former Soviet businessmen with alleged ties to criminal organizations or money laundering. (USA Today)

5/ Congress votes to gut internet privacy rules. The vote repeals a set of landmark privacy protections, allowing internet providers to sell your browsing history, monitor your online habits, and deploy hidden tracking cookies on your phones. The measure heads to the White House, where Trump is expected to sign it. The measure was approved by the house 215-205. The Senate approved it last week by a 50-48 vote. (BuzzFeed News)

6/ Trump tweets: "Russia story is a hoax." In a 37-minute, four-tweet Twitter tirade, Trump attacks Bill and Hillary Clinton, the "Podesta Russian Company," the Freedom Caucus, Democrats, and Obamacare. (Politico)

7/ Congress may stiff Trump on funding to build his wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Trump's hoping to jump-start construction with money in a must-pass government funding bill. Democratic leaders are vowing to block any legislation that includes a single penny for the wall. The result could end in a government shutdown next month if the bill doesn't pass. (Politico)

8/ Trump wants to do tax reform and infrastructure at the same time. The shift to infrastructure is to buy the support of Democrats while avoiding negotiations with the Freedom Caucus, which sank the health care bill. The infrastructure plan was likely going to be parked until next year. (Axios)

9/ Paul Manafort has engaged in a series of real estate deals in New York City over the past 11 years that fit a pattern used in money laundering. The former Trump campaign manager is also facing multiple investigations for his political and financial ties to Russia. (WYNC)

10/ The White House is asking Congress to cut $18 billion on everything from education to mental health programs. The cut would help pay for Trump’s military supplemental request, the proposed border wall, and the rest absorbed to help prevent a government shutdown. (Politico)

11/ House Republicans and the White House have restarted negotiations on legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Just days after Trump said he was moving on to other issues, the White House is now saying hope they can still score the kind of big legislative victory that has so far eluded Trump. (New York Times)

12/ Trump believes the Supremacy Clause bars state lawsuits against a sitting president. A lawsuit claims Trump tarnished an "Apprentice" alum's reputation and accuses him of kissing her twice in 2007 and attacking her in a hotel room. (Hollywood Reporter)

13/ Sanctuary city mayors fire back at Trump administration's threat to cut fed funding. “If they actually act to take away our money, we’ll see them in court,” vowed New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. (Fox News)

Day 67: Power center.

1/ Kushner to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee as part of their inquiry into ties between Trump and Russia. The Committee wants to question Kushner about previously undisclosed meetings he arranged with the Russian ambassador Sergey I. Kislyak. The Senate's decision to question Kushner would make him the closest person to Trump to be called upon in any of the investigations, and the only one currently serving in the White House. (New York Times)

2/ Nunes says he was on White House grounds the day before revealing Trump surveillance information. He was not in the White House itself that day and nobody from the White House even knew he was there. Nunes said he went to the White House grounds for additional meetings "to confirm what I already knew" and needed a secure area to view the information he has received. (CNN)

  • Devin Nunes explains his White House visit. Nunes went off the grid to view dozens of intelligence reports the night before announcing that the "intelligence community incidentally collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition." After briefing reporters the next day, Nunes then went back to the White House to inform Trump. (Bloomberg)

3/ Democrats delay the vote on Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. At least 19 Democrats have come out in opposition to Gorsuch and Chuck Schumer has said that he will filibuster the nominee. Republicans hold 52 seats, which means they will need at least eight Democrats to vote with them to end the filibuster and send Gorsuch forward for a final confirmation vote that would then require a simple majority. Republicans have the extreme option of employing the "nuclear" option – changing Senate rules to eliminate the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees. (NBC News)

4/ Trump taps Kushner to lead a new White House office aimed at fixing government using business ideas. The White House Office of American Innovation will operate as its own power center within the West Wing and will report directly to Trump. The office will be staffed by former business executives and is designed to infuse fresh thinking into Washington and float above the daily political grind. (Washington Post)

5/ Republicans set their sights on tax reform after the bruising collapse of their health care plan. The failure also makes the tax overhaul more politically complex. If Republicans use a procedure called budget reconciliation to have the Senate pass tax legislation with a simple majority, their plans cannot add to deficits over a period of 10 years. Eliminating the $1 trillion of Affordable Care Act taxes and the federal spending associated with that law would have made this easier. (New York Times)

6/ Sessions says grants to be withheld from sanctuary cities. Compliance with federal immigration laws will be a prerequisite for states and localities that want to receive grants from the department’s Office of Justice Programs that provide billions of dollars in funding to help criminal justice programs across the country. (The Hill)

7/ Stocks sank on worries that the Trump White House may not be able to help businesses as much as once thought. Many of the trends that have been in place since Election Day went into sharp reverse: The dollar's value sank against other currencies, as did bank stocks, while prices jumped for Treasury bonds. (ABC News)

8/ US economy expected to grow slower than Trump pledged. According to 50 economists, the economy will grow 2.3% this year and 2.5% in 2018. Those rates would be up from 2016's 1.6%, but below the 3% to 4% growth Trump has promised to bring through steep corporate and individual tax cuts and more spending on roads, airports and tunnels. (Associated Press)

9/ Russians take to the streets in nationwide anti-government protest. The Kremlin dismissed the protests as "provocation" by anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny. Thousands of Russians turned out to protest corruption under Putin. More than 1,000 people taken into custody by police. (NPR)

10/ White House denies report that Trump handed Merkel a bill for NATO services. The Times, a U.K.-based publication, cited unnamed sources that claimed Trump handed Merkel a bill for the US's services to the alliance when the two met recently in Washington. (CNBC)

11/ Carl Icahn's role dual role as investor and Trump advisor raises ethics flags. Ichan has been busy working behind the scenes to try to revamp an obscure Environmental Protection Agency rule that governs the way corn-based ethanol is mixed into gasoline nationwide. The issue: Icahn is a majority investor in an oil refinery that would have saved $205.9 million last year had the regulatory fix he is pushing been in place. (New York Times)

poll/ Trump's approval rating drops to new low of 36%. Trump's three-day reading prior to the failed effort to pass a new health care bill was 41%. (Gallup)

Day 66: Shifting blame.

1/ Trump shifts blame to conservatives on health care bill failure. Two days after pointing his finger at Democrats for the failure of the GOP health care proposal, Trump says he is open to working with Democrats on health care reform. (ABC News)

  • Lindsey Graham on health care: Republicans and Democrats need to work together. "I don't think that one party's going to be able to fix this by themselves," he said. "I think the President should reach out to Democrats." Trump blamed Democrats and vowed to let Obamacare "explode." (CNN)

2/ Fox News host demands Paul Ryan resign, hours after Trump urged followers to watch. Jeanine Pirro, host of “Justice With Judge Jeanine,” delivered a diatribe against the House speaker, calling on him to step down after letting Trump down by not doing his share of the work in corralling Republican votes to fulfill a seven-year promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. (New York Times)

3/ EPA chief Scott Pruitt says Trump will sign a new executive order this week that unravels Obama's plan to curb global warming. The order will undo the Clean Power Plan, which restricts greenhouse gas emissions at coal-fired power plants. (Talking Points Memo)

4/ Trump handed Angela Merkel a bill for more than £300bn when they met last week. The bill is for money Germany “owed” NATO, calculating the extent to which German defense spending had fallen short of the 2% of GDP target required and then charged interest. (The Times and The Sunday Times) [Editor's note: Germany didn’t receive NATO invoice from Trump. There is no "debt account at NATO," says German government spokesman. (Politico)]

5/ Democrats introduce "MAR-A-LAGO" act to force Trump to provide visitor logs. The act would require the Trump administration to disclose the names of anyone who visits the White House or "any other location at which the President or the Vice President regularly conducts official business." (NBC News)

6/ Nearly 1 out of every 3 days he has been president, Trump has visited a Trump property. 21 of the 66 days he has been in office, meaning that for the equivalent of three full weeks of his just-over-nine weeks as commander in chief, he has spent all or part of a day at a Trump property. (Washington Post)

7/ A pro-Trump rally ended with a man getting beaten with a "Make America Great Again" sign. One man was held down to the ground and punched and hit in the face with pepper spray. (Washington Post)

Day 65: Shit list.

1/ Bannon tells Trump to "keep a shit list" of Republicans that opposed him. The proposed “hit list” for Republicans not sufficiently loyal is to send the message that “we’ll remember you.” (The Daily Beast)

2/ Flynn met with Turkish government ministers and discussed ideas about how to get a Muslim cleric to Turkey without going through the U.S. extradition process while he was serving as an adviser to the Trump campaign. Turkey has accused Fethullah Gulen of orchestrating last summer’s failed military coup. (Wall Street Journal)

3/ The U.S. military admitted that an airstrike in Iraq corresponds to a site where 200 civilians allegedly died, but said it is still assessing the details of the strike and the validity of allegations of civilian casualties. (ABC News)

4/ Trump's unhappy that Jared Kushner was skiing while the health care bill was floundering. It has not clear what specific role Kushner would have played in the legislative effort, but Trump is already pointing fingers at his top staffers for what he considers shoddy support. (CNN)

5/ Schiff says Nunes canceled the Russia hearing to spare the president a bad news cycle. Nunes said the hearing would be postponed to allow FBI director James Comey and NSA director Mike Rogers to address the committee in a closed session. (New York Magazine)

6/ Trump claims credit for creating 20,000 jobs that were actually created in 2015. The jobs were promised as part of assurances made to an Obama-appointed FCC chair to help approve Charter Communications' purchase of Time Warner Cable for $56.7 billion. (The Daily Beast)

7/ Keystone XL pipeline would only create 35 permanent jobs. Trump hailed the State Department's approval of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline as a big win for American workers. (CNN)

8/ Eric Trump will share business updates with Donald "probably quarterly." Trump and his White House have argued that he is exempt from any conflicts of interest, despite opting against selling his business or placing it in a blind trust. (Politico)

9/ Toronto schools will no longer allow student trips to US. The Toronto District School Board cited uncertainty over the travel ban and expressed concerns about how the US immigration policy could affect students on school trips. (CNN)

10/ The American Action Network PAC ran ads congratulating Republicans for repealing Obamacare. Several Republican-adjacent TV markets saw prematurely bought ads inviting viewers to call their representatives and thank them for repealing Obamacare – something that did not happen. (Deadspin)

11/ Breitbart says the White House and GOP lawmakers are talking about replacing Paul Ryan after he failed to deliver the votes needed on the health care bill. The main complaint is that Ryan misled Trump on the level of GOP support for the bill. (Axios)

12/ Russia's state news service applies for a White House press pass. The state-owned news website Sputnik is seeking membership in the White House Foreign Press Group in order to become a part of pool rotations. Sputnik has been described as the "BuzzFeed of propaganda." (Politico)

poll/ 66% of Americans want an independent commission to investigate Trump-Russia ties. 65% of respondents think alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election is either “very important” or “somewhat important,” and 63% said they were “very concerned” or “somewhat concerned” about Trump’s relationship with Russia. (Politico)

Day 64: Ultimatum. Art of the deal.

1/ House leaders pull Obamacare repeal bill. A slew of late-breaking defections by Republicans were unbowed by Trump's ultimatum to vote for the plan or live with Obamacare. House Republican leaders abruptly pull the bill moments before the vote was due to begin. The House is now holding an emergency GOP caucus meeting. (Politico)

  • Trump’s first legislative effort fails as GOP pull bill to repeal Obamacare. Facing a revolt among conservatives and moderates in their ranks, House Republican pulled legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act in a humiliating defeat for Trump. (New York Times)
  • House Republican leaders abruptly pull their rewrite of the nation’s health-care law. The opposition continued despite Trump's ultimatum: Vote for the bill, or reject it and move on. (Washington Post)
  • Ryan lacks enough votes for the health care bill as Republicans mutiny. Ryan rushed to the White House to inform Trump he did not have the votes to pass legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act. If the bill does not pass, it would represent multiple failures for Trump and the Republican Congress. (New York Times)
  • After Trump’s ultimatum, some GOP lawmakers change stance on the health care bill. It's unclear whether Trump and Paul Ryan have the votes to get the package through the House. At least three lawmakers who had previously pledged to vote against the bill have changed their minds. (Washington Post)
  • GOP leaders not confident they have the votes to pass the health bill. (Bloomberg)

2/ Trump blames Democrats for his health care defeat and predicted that they would seek a deal within a year after “Obamacare explodes” because of high premiums. Trump and Stephen Bannon demanded to see a confidential whip count list compiled to exact revenge on the the bill’s Republican opponents. (New York Times)

  • The White House is prepared to blame Paul Ryan if the health bill fails. In public, however, Trump said that Ryan shouldn’t lose his job if the bill goes down. (Bloomberg)
  • White House on health care bill: Don’t blame Trump. The iron-clad confidence is gone and damage control is underway. "The president has given it his all," Sean Spicer said. (Politico)

3/ “It’s time for Ivanka to… stand for women." Planned Parenthood's president called on Ivanka to step into the debate over the Republican health care bill, saying her silence has been "deafening" and that the bill is "the most anti-woman bill that I have ever seen." (BuzzFeed News)

4/ Schiff: New evidence shows possible Trump-Russia collusion, suggesting "it's the kind of evidence" that a grand jury investigation would want to consider. (CNN)

5/ Nunes cancels Tuesday's public hearing with the former director of National Intelligence, CIA director, and attorney general. The former members of the Obama administration were scheduled to testify on Russia's interference in the 2016 election. Schiff suggested the move was to avoid more bad publicity for the White House. (Politico)

  • Trump’s former campaign chairman volunteers to testify before the House Intelligence Committee. News surfaced this week that Manafort signed a multimillion-dollar contract with a Russian oligarch in 2006 to advance Putin’s interests around the world. (The Hill)
  • Intelligence chair now unsure if Trump associates were even directly surveilled. Nunes does not know "for sure" whether Trump or members of his team were even on the phone calls. (ABC News)

6/ Trump grants approval for Keystone XL pipeline, calling it “the first of many infrastructure projects” that he would approve in order to put more Americans to work. (Washington Post)

7/ ICE is targeting "sanctuary cities" with raids in an effort to pressure those jurisdictions to cooperate with federal immigration agents. (CNN)

8/ Treasury secretary "not at all" worried about robots taking jobs. The displacement of jobs by artificial intelligence and automation is "not even on my radar screen" because the technology is "50-100 more years" away. The tech community is dumbfounded. (The Verge)

Day 63: Save face.

1/ Trump demands vote on health care plan Friday. If the bill fails, Trump is prepared to move on and leave Obamacare in place. Regardless, Trump and Paul Ryan are finished with negotiations on their health care bill. (CNN)

2/ GOP health care plan in doubt after Freedom Caucus rebuffs White House offer to strip a key set of mandates. Ryan can only lose 21 Republican votes. 37 Republicans say they will vote against the bill as it now stands. The only existing mandates conservatives are open to preserving are ones that bar insurers from denying coverage based on preexisting conditions and allow children to stay on their parents’ plans until age 26. (Washington Post)

UPDATE:

The House will not vote on the Republican health care bill today. Enough Republican publicly said they would vote against the bill to sink it. (CNN)

Today's vote on the health care bill has been canceled. Paul Ryan likely did not have the votes needed to pass the measure after Trump's inability to clinch an agreement with Freedom Caucus members. (Bloomberg)

  • The Freedom Caucus is closing in on a deal to rewrite the health care bill at the 11th hour. The group is negotiating directly with Trump and the White House on an amendment to the bill, cutting out GOP leadership from the conversation as Paul Ryan and his deputies work to corral votes for a bill that is, in these latest provisions, a mystery even to them. The changes could save face in the House, but doom the bill in the Senate. (Huffington Post)
  • Trump struggles to win votes on Obamacare repeal. Trump and Ryan need strong support from their side of the aisle and can only afford to lose 21 Republican votes. (Reuters)

3/ Latest House GOP health care bill would still cause 24 million more Americans to be uninsured. The CBO analysis says the newest plan would reduce savings in federal spending by half as much as the original legislation, but would leave just as many uninsured by 2026. (Washington Post)

4/ Trump's health care repeal concessions to the House likely wouldn't pass in the Senate. Democrats in the Senate say they have enough votes to block any Republican attempt to repeal health benefits at a 60-vote threshold. (Politico)

5/ Democrats plan to filibuster Gorsuch nomination. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer announced he would oppose Gorsuch and join Democrats in filibustering the nomination, making it likely that the judge will struggle to find the support needed to clear a 60-vote procedural hurdle. (Washington Post)

  • Democrats are weighing a deal to let Gorsuch through In exchange, Republicans would keep the filibuster intact for a subsequent vacancy during Trump’s term. The next court opening could alter the balance, and some argue that will be far more consequential than the current one. (Politico)

6/ Nunes puts the credibility of the House Intelligence panel in doubt. Nunes raised questions about his own ability to conduct an impartial bipartisan investigation when he bypassed Democrats and went directly to the White House with information that showed intelligence agencies may have “incidentally” picked up communications of Trump's transition team members. (New York Times)

  • Nunes apologizes after going directly to White House with monitoring claims. Schiff blasted Nunes for briefing the White House on his claims before telling his own committee. (Politico)
  • McCain calls for select committee to investigate Russian interference following the "bizarre" behavior by Nunes and Schiff. Republican leaders on Capitol Hill have so far resisted such a move. (NBC News)

7/ In a step toward "extreme vetting," Trump orders new security checks on people seeking visas for family, business or tourism reasons. Diplomatic cables sent from Rex Tillerson to all American embassies instructed consular officials to broadly increase scrutiny. (New York Times)

8/ Trump defends his wild claims: "I'm president, and you're not" in an interview with TIME about the way he handles truth and falsehood. (TIME)

9/ Senate Republicans vote to gut privacy rules that require internet providers to first get your permission before they can sell your private information, like browsing history and location data. (BuzzFeed News)

Day 62: Contradictions.

1/ Trump associates may have coordinated with Russians to release of information damaging the Clinton campaign. One official said the information suggests the "people connected to the campaign were in contact and it appeared they were giving the thumbs up to release information when it was ready." (CNN)

2/ Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign chairman, secretly worked for a Russian billionaire to advance the interests of Putin a decade ago. He proposed a political strategy to undermine anti-Russian opposition across the former Soviet republics, contradicting assertions by the Trump administration and Manafort himself that he never worked for Russian interests. (Associated Press)

3/ Trump and House GOP leaders lack the votes needed to pass the Obamacare repeal. More than 25 Freedom Caucus members are threatening to derail the legislation, saying the latest revisions don’t go far enough. It only takes 22 GOP lawmakers to block the bill. (Politico)

4/ Schumer calls for delaying Gorsuch vote because of the Trump-Russia probe. While his demand is unlikely to gain traction with Senate GOP leaders, the move illustrates a strategy of using the stain of an FBI probe to undercut the rest of Trump’s agenda. (Politico)

5/ While Gorsuch was testifying, the Supreme Court unanimously overturned his ruling on providing students with disabilities with an education. Gorsuch's 2008 opinion said school districts simply had to provide disabled students with a little more than nothing, rather than a free and "appropriate public education." All eight justices said Gorsuch 2008's opinion was wrong and that public school instruction must be "specially designed" to meet a child’s "unique needs." (Think Progress)

  • "I’ll criticize judges," Trump says, hours after Gorsuch said he'd rule against Trump if the law required it. “When anyone criticizes the honesty or integrity or motives of a federal judge,” Gorsuch said at his confirmation hearing, “I find that disheartening and demoralizing.” Trump called out a federal court judge in Hawaii who placed a stay on his second travel ban. (New York Times)

6/ Members of the Trump transition team were under inadvertent surveillance following the election. House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes said the surveillance appears to have been legal, incidental collection and that it does not appear to have been related to concerns over collusion with Russia. (Politico)

7/ Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn didn’t sign Trump’s ethics pledge. The pledge barred federal appointees from lobbying their former colleagues for five years after leaving the administration and banned them from lobbying on behalf of foreign governments for life. (The Daily Beast)

8/ North Korea has no fear of U.S. sanctions move and will pursue "acceleration" of its nuclear and missile programs. This includes developing a "pre-emptive first strike capability" and an inter-continental ballistic missile. (Reuters)

9/ The White House is preparing to dismantle Obama’s climate change policy. Trump will order Scott Pruitt, EPA chief, to withdraw and rewrite a set of Obama-era regulations known as the Clean Power Plan, which was devised to shut down hundreds of heavily polluting coal-fired power plants and freeze construction of new coal plants, while replacing them with vast wind and solar farms. (New York Times)

10/ Trump signs NASA bill aimed at sending people to Mars. The bill authorized $19.5 billion in funding to support NASA's long-term goal of sending humans to Mars by the 2030s. (Washington Post)

11/ The Secret Service has asked for $60 million extra for travel and protection resulting from the complicated Trump family lifestyle. $26.8 million would pay to protect Trump Tower. (Washington Post)

  • Trump’s team said it didn't ask for military vehicles at inauguration. Emails show it did. (Huffington Post)

12/ Ex-Colorado GOP leader said only Democrats committed voter fraud. Now he’s charged with voter fraud. (Washington Post)

Day 61: Tweaks.

1/ GOP leaders unveiled changes to healthcare bill in an effort to win more votes for their ObamaCare replacement. The tweaks addressed optional work requirements and block granting in Medicaid, as well as more help for older Americans to buy insurance. (The Hill)

2/ Trump to Republicans: Vote for Obamacare repeal or lose your seat. Trump went directly to Congress two days ahead of a planned vote to repeal the 2010 health care law in a test of the new president’s deal-making prowess in a notoriously factional and conflict-prone Republican conference. (Politico)

3/ Trump's adviser Roger Stone repeatedly claimed to know of forthcoming WikiLeaks dumps as well as having a backchannel line to founder Julian Assange. Stone's comments about WikiLeaks have come under scrutiny as the FBI and congressional committees investigate the Trump-Russia connection. (CNN)

4/ The FBI is investigating whether members of Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election. Comey’s testimony on Monday was the first public acknowledgment of the case. (New York Times)

  • Kremlin says US intelligence committee is "confused" after hearing testimony from Comey about an investigation into the Russian ties of Trump's associates. "They are trying to find confirmation of their own conclusions but can't find either proof or confirmation and are going round in circles." (ABC News)

5/ Tillerson prioritizes Moscow and China over NATO. Tillerson is skipping what would have been his first meeting with the 28 NATO allies so that he can attend Trump's visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort. The move could be interpreted as another snub to the US' traditional allies in favor of Russia. (CNN)

6/ Gorsuch vows to "put politics aside" on the second day of his confirmation hearing. He called the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling a "precedent" of the Supreme Court that has been "reaffirmed." During the campaign, Trump, said that his Supreme Court nominees would be “pro-life,” and that Roe would "automatically” be overturned once he had made enough appointments. (Bloomberg)

7/ Ivanka Trump moves into West Wing office despite no formal White House job. She acknowledges there is "no modern precedent" for her role and will “voluntarily” follow government ethics rules. (Washington Post)

8/ Fox News boots Judge Napolitano off the air for pushing Obama wiretap claims. The senior judicial analyst is off the air indefinitely amid the controversy over his unverified claims that British intelligence wiretapped Trump Tower at the behest of former Obama. (Los Angeles Times)

9/ Trump won’t allow you to use iPads or laptops on certain airlines. Emirates, Etihad Airways, and Qatar Airways have long been accused by their US competitors of receiving massive effective subsidies from their governments. The airlines are likely to lose a major amount of business from their most lucrative customers — people who travel in business class and first class. (Washington Post)

Day 60: Accusations.

1/ Comey says the Justice Department has no information supporting Trump's tweets alleging Obama ordered a wiretap in the run-up to the election. “I have no information that supports those tweets," Comey says. (Washington Post)

  • Trump's wiretapping accusations come to a head as Comey testifies at the House Intelligence Committee. He is expected to say that there was no wiretapping, debunking allegations that Trump has repeatedly refused to withdraw. (CNN)
  • Gowdy used Trump-Russia hearing to accuse Obama officials of leaking Flynn's undisclosed contact with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. He proceeded to grill Comey as to which former official in Obama's administration could have potentially "unmasked" Flynn's name. (Talking Points Memo)
  • NSA Chief denies British spying accusation when asked about a claim that British intelligence might have spied on Trump tower on behalf of the US. (CNN)

2/ Comey confirms FBI probe into Trump-Russia collusion. The director of the FBI says the probe is part of a larger investigation into whether Russia meddled in the 2016 U.S. election, but sees “no information” to support wiretapping claim. (Politico)

  • Comey says Russia wanted to hurt US and Clinton, and help Trump. "They wanted to hurt our democracy, hurt her, help him. I think all three we were confident in at least as early as December," Comey said. (CNN)

3/ Trump slams Comey hearing as "fake news" four hours before Comey confirmed the existence of a probe on "the Russian story." Trump preemptively tried to swat down lingering allegations that his campaign engaged in improper activities with the Russian government during the 2016 election. (Salon)

4/ Gorsuch begins his confirmation hearings. While Judge Neil Gorsuch faces broad support among Republicans, but Democrats are angry that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell decided to block a hearing in 2016 for Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick Garland. (Washington Post)

CALL YOUR SENATOR

Gorsuch is an avowed originalist and an enemy of women’s healthcare, LGBTQ rights, and access to justice. Here's everything you need to know to call your senator. (5 Calls)

  • Democrats make case against supreme court nominee, challenging Gorsuch's "originalist" approach to the constitution. Gorsuch believes he should interpret the words of the constitution as they were understood at the time they were written. Which, you know, was in the era of slavery. (The Guardian)

5/ White House installs political aides at Cabinet agencies to be Trump’s eyes and ears. The unusual shadow government of political appointees is tasked with monitoring the secretaries' loyalty to Trump. (Washington Post)

6/ New York attorney general steps up scrutiny of the White House as it hires a public-corruption prosecutor to target the Trump administration. (Wall Street Journal)

7/ At least 10 GOP lawmakers have said that Trump should release his tax returns. They've all declined, however, to join efforts to use the power of Congress to make it happen. (The Hill)

8/ Germany rejects Trump's claim it owes NATO and U.S. "vast sums" for defense. "There is no debt account at NATO," the German Defense Minister said, adding that it was wrong to link the alliance's target for members to spend 2% of their economic output on defense to NATO. (