What The Fuck Just Happened Today?

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

Site updated:

1/ Pence: US will hold Russia accountable and stands with NATO. Trump has repeatedly called NATO “obsolete,” but U.S. officials appear to be concentrating more on pushing allies to meet NATO defense spending commitments rather than focusing on Trump’s desire for a new relationship with the Kremlin, a major fear in Europe. Many European allies see Russia as a security threat following its 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula. (Washington Post)

2/ The F.B.I. is pursuing at least three separate probes relating to alleged Russian hacking of the U.S. presidential elections. The FBI’s Pittsburgh office is trying to identify the people behind breaches of the Democratic National Committee’s computer system. The bureau’s San Francisco office is trying to identify the people who posted John Podesta’s stolen emails. And, agents based in Washington are pursuing leads from informants, foreign communications intercepts, and financial transactions by Russian individuals and companies who are believed to have links to Trump associates. (Reuters)

3/ The White House abruptly dismissed a senior National Security Council aide after his harsh criticism of Trump at a private, off-the-record think tank gathering. The aide laced into Trump, his chief strategist Steve Bannon, as well as Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. (Politico)

4/ Trump down to three candidates to replace Flynn after former CIA Director David Petraeus pulled his name from consideration for National Security Adviser. Still on the short list for the position are acting national security adviser Keith Kellogg, former United Nations ambassador John Bolton, and Army strategist Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster. (The Hill)

5/ Trump weighs new travel ban that won’t stop green card holders or travelers already on planes from entering the U.S. The Homeland Security chief says there will be a “short phase-in period” to avoid people being stopped in transit. (Reuters)

6/ Trump yells at CIA Director Mike Pompeo for not pushing back hard enough against reports that the intelligence community was withholding information from him. The White House denied the report. The president “did not yell at the CIA director,” a White House spokesperson said. (CBS News)

7/ DeVos criticizes teachers after visiting D.C. school — and they are not having it. After visiting D.C.’s Jefferson Middle School Academy, DeVos said teachers at Jefferson seemed to be in “receive mode. They’re waiting to be told what they have to do, and that’s not going to bring success to an individual child.” The school responded to DeVos on Twitter, saying “We’re about to take her to school.” (Washington Post)

This is what Sec. DeVos said about our teachers after her visit. Needless to say, we're about to take her to school... @dcpublicschools pic.twitter.com/Wcx1YyqDHL

— Jefferson Academy (@JATrojans) February 18, 2017

8/ Popular domestic programs could face budget cuts. Trump’s budget office has drafted a hit list of programs that could be eliminated or have their domestic spending trimmed. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Legal Services Corporation, AmeriCorps, and the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities are on that list. Most of the programs cost under $500 million annually, a pittance for a government that is projected to spend about $4 trillion this year. (New York Times)

9/ Ben Carson “baffled” and “speechless” at the firing of one of his Housing and Urban Development staffers. One of Carson’s closest aides was fired from the agency after writings critical of Trump from October resurfaced. Carson had no knowledge his staffer was going to be escorted out of the building until after it happened. (BuzzFeed News)

10/ Leaked Trump tape: “You are the special people”. While meeting potential Cabinet nominees in November, Trump invited partygoers at his New Jersey golf club to stop by to join him on staff interviews. “We’re doing a lot of interviews tomorrow — generals, dictators, we have everything,” Trump told the crowd. “You may wanna come around. It’ll be fun. We’re really working tomorrow. We have meetings every 15, 20 minutes with different people that will form our government.” (Politico) [Editor’s Note: This story was removed because it is speculative.]

10/ The first casualties of Trump’s trade wars are Texas cattle ranchers. By threatening a trade war with Mexico within days of inauguration, the president helped trigger a slide in cattle futures. Mexico is a major export market. By sinking the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the new administration cut off long-sought access to the Japanese market. Now banks have raised the conditions for collateral for loans for ranchers. (Dallas News)

11/ CNN host Don Lemon abruptly ended his segment after a commentator continued to call a story they were discussing “fake news” while defending Trump. Lemon was moderating a discussion on the cost of Trump’s visits to Mar-a-Lago in Florida when Paris Dennard, a political analyst and commentator, called it “fake news.” Dennard insisted that “this is a fake news story,” after which Lemon ended the segment altogether. (The Hill)

11/ Reince Priebus advised Americans to take Trump’s attacks on the media “seriously,” following the president’s denunciations of the press as the “enemy.” The chief of staff continued to hammer the press for its coverage, saying “the American people suffer” because of it. (CBS News)

poll/ Americans want Democrats to work with Trump. The inaugural Harvard-Harris poll found that 73% of voters want to see Democrats work with the president, while 27% said Democrats should resist Trump’s every move. (The Hill)