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/ "Last night in Sweden"? Trump’s remark baffles a nation. During a campaign-style rally on Saturday in Florida, Trump issued a sharp if discursive attack on refugee policies in Europe, ticking off a list of places that have been hit by terrorists. Nothing particularly nefarious happened in Sweden on Friday — or Saturday, for that matter — and Swedes were left baffled. (New York Times)

UPDATE:

Trump clarifies remarks on Sweden: I got it from Fox News story. Trump confirmed speculation that a Fox News story about immigration and crime rates that aired on Tucker Carlson's show was the origin of his statement. (The Hill)

Trump, discussing terror, seamlessly mentions incident "last night in Sweden".

There was NO "incident" in Sweden last night. pic.twitter.com/XtcC4PRiNU

— Steve Kopack (@SteveKopack) February 19, 2017

2/ Memos signed by DHS secretary describe sweeping new guidelines for deporting illegal immigrants. The new guidelines empower federal authorities to more aggressively detain and deport illegal immigrants inside the United States and at the border. A White House official said the memos were drafts and that they are under review by the White House Counsel’s Office, which is seeking some changes. The memos do not include measures to activate National Guard troops. (Washington Post)

3/ "That’s how dictators get started": McCain criticizes Trump for calling the media "the enemy" during “Meet the Press” interview. Trump lashed out against the news media several times over the past week, at one point declaring it “the enemy of the American People!” (Washington Post)

4/ Defense Secretary Mattis disagrees with Trump, says he does not see media as the enemy. Mattis, asked directly about Trump’s criticism of the media, said he has had “some rather contentious times with the press” but considers the institution “a constituency that we deal with.” The defense secretary added: “I don’t have any issues with the press myself.” (Washington Post)

UPDATE:

Fox News anchor Chris Wallace warns viewers: Trump crossed the line in latest attack on media. Trump's contentious relationship with the press has again been in the spotlight after the president repeatedly attacked the media as “fake news”. All presidents fight with the media, but Trump had taken it a step further in making them out to be “the enemy,” Wallace said. (Washington Post)

5/ Trump’s personal lawyer advanced a back-channel plan for the conflict between Ukraine and Russia. The sealed proposal was hand-delivered to Trump's office and outlines a way to lift sanctions against Russia. (New York Times)

UPDATE:

Trump ally admits he has a "back-channel" tie to WikiLeaks. Roger Stone said he had communications with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange over the release of thousands of emails stolen from the Hillary Clinton campaign. (CBS Miami)

6/ Priebus denies any involvement between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russian officials. Priebus said he’s spoken with high-level intelligence officials in Washington who have told him that no such involvement occurred. (Politico)

UPDATE:

Senators want Russia-related materials preserved. The Senate Intelligence Committee is asking more than a dozen agencies, organizations and individuals to preserve communications related to the panel's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The move comes amid inquiries into whether Trump's campaign officials were in contact with Russian officials and other Russians known to US intelligence during the 2016 race. (CNN)

7/ Foreign policy experts find scant reassurance in Trump's plans. At the Munich Security Conference, diplomats, generals, policy experts, and security officials were deeply disturbed by Trump’s difficulty finding a pliant national security adviser to replace Michael Flynn, and by Trump’s long and rambling news conference on Thursday, which was followed Saturday with a campaign-style rally where he suggested, wrongly, that something terrible had happened in Sweden. Pence, who carried a direct message of reassurance from Trump, could not manage to comfort many of the experts. (New York Times)

UPDATE:

Trump meets with four candidates for National Security Adviser. Trump's first choice to succeed Flynn turned down the job. The White House has had trouble filling some senior positions in part because so many experienced Republicans criticized Trump during the campaign, and he has vetoed choices over that. (New York Times)

8/ London mayor says Trump should be denied state visit because of his “cruel” policies on immigration. British legislators are expected to debate a proposal to downgrade Trump' planned state visit. (PBS)