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/ The FBI rejected a White House request to publicly knock down media reports about communications between Trump’s associates and Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign. Comey rejected the request for the FBI to comment on the stories, because the alleged communications between Trump associates and Russians known to US intelligence are the subject of an ongoing investigation. The White House did issue its own denial, with Priebus calling The New York Times story “complete garbage.” (CNN)

2/ Trump touts recent immigration raids, calling them a “military operation”. The effort to ramp up deportations are aimed at ridding the U.S. of “really bad dudes.” Under the administration’s guidelines, any immigrant who is convicted, charged or suspected of a crime is considered a priority for removal. (Washington Post)

3/ Tillerson and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly head to Mexico amid deep strains in bilateral ties in what is expected to be the first in a series of high-level meetings focusing on drug trafficking, trade and immigration. Twin threats hang over the frayed relationship between the two nations: Trump’s new orders to round up and deport immigrants who are in the United States illegally, and a separate effort to take a hard look at all American aid to Mexico, possibly using it to pay for a border wall instead. (New York Times)

4/ Trump wants to make sure U.S. nuclear arsenal at “top of the pack”, saying the United States has fallen behind in its weapons capacity. Trump said in the interview he would like to see a world with no nuclear weapons but expressed concern that the United States has “fallen behind on nuclear weapon capacity.” (Reuters)

5/ Trump has largely benched the State Department from its long-standing role as the pre­eminent voice of U.S. foreign policy, curtailing public engagement and official travel and relegating Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to a mostly offstage role. Tillerson has also been notably absent from White House meetings with foreign leaders. (Washington Post)

6/ Trump has assigned the Department of Homeland Security, working with the Justice Department, to help build the legal case for its temporary travel ban. Some administration intelligence officials see the White House request as the politicization of intelligence. One of the ways the White House hopes to make its case is by using a more expansive definition of terrorist activity than has been used by other government agencies in the past. (CNN)

My flight from SFO to JFK. We were told we couldn't disembark without showing our "documents." pic.twitter.com/9ugQspTqeX

— Anne Garrett (@annediego) February 23, 2017

There was a 'Forbidden' error fetching URL: 'https://twitter.com/brittontaylor/status/834600160281841665'

7/ Repeal of Obamacare face obstacles in House, not just the Senate. Conservative Republicans are pushing for a fast repeal with only a bare-bones replacement plan, but moderates are interested in coming up with a clear and robust plan. It’s becoming increasingly likely that a consensus in the House may be just as hard to reach. (New York Times)

ObamaCare will be replaced with something that actually works—bringing freedom and individual responsibility back to American health care.

— Vice President Pence (@VP) February 22, 2017

Voter to @SenTomCotton: My husband is dying. We can't afford health insurance. What kind of insurance do you have? https://t.co/iYFiZtwJ1F

— CNN (@CNN) February 22, 2017

8/ Protests break out after an off-duty LAPD officer fired his gun in a scuffle with teens. No one was shot. The officer detained a 13-year-old boy after he allegedly threatened to shoot him. The officer has been placed on administrative leave while the Force Investigation Division conducts an investigation to “determine whether the use of deadly force complied with LAPD’s policies and procedures.” (CNN)

9/ New research suggests that private school vouchers may harm students who receive them. Voucher advocates often cite poor test scores in public schools to justify creating private school vouchers in the first place. The new evidence on vouchers does not seem to have deterred the Trump administration, which has proposed a new $20 billion voucher program. Secretary DeVos’s enthusiasm for vouchers, which have been the primary focus of her philanthropic spending and advocacy, appears to be undiminished. (New York Times)

10/ McCain made a secret trip to Syria to meet with U.S. troops and Kurdish fighters amid their longstanding battle to defeat ISIS. The trip comes as Trump administration continues to re-evaluate the U.S. plan to defeat ISIS. On the campaign trail, Trump frequently criticized Obama’s policy to defeat the group, which controls territory in both Syria and neighboring Iraq. ISIS has lost significant territory in the last two years. (ABC News)

11/ Trump’s plan to hire 15,000 border patrol and ICE agents won’t be easy. The time to recruit and hire Border Agents, administer medical exams and drug screening, polygraph tests, fitness tests, and training could take a year or more to bring a new agent on board. Customs and Border Protection has also had a problem retaining Border Patrol agents: the agency is down some 1,600 agents from the 21,000 it’s authorized for. (NPR)

12/ Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says he won’t designate China a currency manipulator… yet. Mnuchin wants to use a regular review of foreign-exchange markets to determine if the U.S.’s largest trading partner is cheating. The decision contradicts a pledge by then-candidate Trump to direct his Treasury secretary to name China a manipulator on the first day of his administration. (Bloomberg)

13/ Ivanka and Kushner publicly silent as White House rolls back transgender protections. The couple is seen as a moderating force on social issues, but transgender allies want them to take a stand as the new administration rolls back Obama-era policies on school bathrooms. (Politico)

14/ Air Force stumped by Trump’s claim of $1 billion in savings on jet. Trump has boasted that he’s personally intervened to cut costs of two military aircraft – the F-35, the fighter jet built by Lockheed Martin Corp., and Boeing’s Air Force One, but the Air Force can’t account for this alleged $1 billion in savings. (Bloomberg)

15/ Chaffetz is investigating a months-old tweet from his state’s Bryce Canyon National Park instead of Trump. The House Oversight Committee Chairman’s probe comes amid criticism that Chaffetz is not aggressively investigating the Trump administration for potential conflicts of interest or collusion with Russia. Chaffetz recently launched a probe into Trump’s handling of classified intelligence information while on an open patio at his private Mar-a-Lago resort. (The Hill)

Welcome to the family Bears Ears (& Gold Butte) NM! A hopeful slot in our front desk maps has long been held for you pic.twitter.com/r1vCLO7Uts

— Bryce Canyon NP (@BryceCanyonNPS) December 29, 2016

16/ Donald Trump returns to CPAC six years after he was loudly booed there. Trump will take the main stage with some new allies at the conservative confab. In 2011, Trump told the conservative political action conference that prominent libertarian Ron Paul “can not get elected”. He was loudly booed for taking a shot at one of their heroes. (The Guardian)