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

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Day 1: How it begins.

1/ Donald Trump has named only 29 of his 660 executive department appointments, the Partnership for Public Service said. (NY Times)

2/ Trump boasted his inauguration would have an “unbelievable, perhaps record-setting turnout.” But aerial shots of the National Mall from Obama’s 2009 inauguration and today show that isn’t likely. (Vox)

3/ All references to climate change have been deleted from the White House website. The only mention of climate on Trump’s new website is under his “America First Energy Plan” page, in which he vows to destroy Obama’s Climate Action Plan, which is a government-wide plan to reduce carbon emissions and address climate change. (Motherboard)

4/ New poll shows Obamacare is more popular than Donald Trump. Fox News finds that 50% of voters feel favorably about the Affordable Care Act compared to Donald Trump, whom 42% view favorably. President Obama received an approval rating of 60%. (Vox)

5/ There’s no record Trump has resigned from his companies. To transfer control of his companies, the president has to submit filings in Florida, Delaware and New York. We spoke to officials in each of those states. (ProPublica)

Day 2: War on media.

1/ Photos comparing Trump’s inauguration crowd to the Women’s March (CNN)

2/ White House press secretary Sean Spicer attacked media for accurately reporting inauguration crowds. “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period,” Spicer said, contradicting all available data. Aerial photos have indicated that former president Barack Obama’s first inauguration attracted a much larger crowd. Nielsen ratings show that Obama also had a bigger television audience. Spicer, at times almost yelling while reading a prepared statement, took no questions. (CNN)

3/ Trump used his first full day in office on Saturday to unleash a remarkably bitter attack on the news media, falsely accusing journalists of both inventing a rift between him and intelligence agencies and deliberately understating the size of his inauguration crowd. (NY Times)

4/ Trump says he has “running war” with media, criticizes the “dishonest media,” gets facts wrong, in CIA speech. (CNN)

5/ At CIA headquarters, Trump denies feud, lashed out at critics, boasted of his magazine covers, and exaggerated the size of the crowd at his inauguration. (Politico)

6/ Trump’s real war isn’t with the media. It’s with facts. He needs to delegitimize the media because he needs to delegitimize facts. (Vox)

Day 3: Alternative facts.

1/ The Trump Administration started with a big lie over a small thing. It wasn’t about an affair with an intern or in an attempt to wage war. The Trump administration kicked off with a whopper about the media’s role in maliciously minimizing the crowd size for Trump’s inauguration in a dastardly attempt to make him look bad. (The Daily Best)

2/ Crowd scientists say Women’s March in Washington was three times the size of the audience at Trump’s inauguration (NY Times), and may have been the largest demonstration in US history. Marches held in more than 500 US cities were attended by at least 3.3 million people. (Vox)

3/ Kellyanne Conway said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that the White House had put forth “alternative facts” to ones reported by the news media about the size of Mr. Trump’s inauguration crowd. (NY Times)

KELLYANNE CONWAY: Don’t be so overly dramatic about it, Chuck. What– You’re saying it’s a falsehood. And they’re giving Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that. But the point remains–

CHUCK TODD: Wait a minute– Alternative facts?

KELLYANNE CONWAY: –that there’s–

CHUCK TODD: Alternative facts? Four of the five facts he uttered, the one thing he got right–

KELLYANNE CONWAY: –hey, Chuck, why– Hey Chuck–

CHUCK TODD: –was Zeke Miller. Four of the five facts he uttered were just not true. Look, alternative facts are not facts. They’re falsehoods.

4/ Alternative facts are a needless lie by the Trump Administration. If the president and his aides will tell easily disproven falsehoods about crowd sizes and speeches, what else will they be willing to dissemble about? (The Atlantic)

5/ The traditional way of reporting on a president is dead. And Trump’s press secretary killed it. The presidency is not a reality show, but President Trump on his first full day in office made clear that he’s still obsessed with being what he once proudly called “a ratings machine.” (Washington Post)

6/ The costs of Trump-branded reality: America’s credibility. When Trump swore the presidential oath, he assumed responsibility not only for the levers of government but also for one of the United States’ most valuable assets, battered though it may be: its credibility. (NY Times)

7/ Meanwhile, Trump’s top aides are troubled by his rocky first weekend in office, unfolded much the way things often did during his campaign: with angry Twitter messages, a familiar obsession with slights and a series of meandering and at times untrue statements, all eventually giving way to attempts at damage control. (NY Times)

8/ WikiLeaks calls out Trump for refusing to release tax returns. (Politico)

9/ Trump is violating the Constitution by allowing his hotels and other business operations to accept payments from foreign governments, a team of prominent constitutional scholars, Supreme Court litigators and former White House ethics lawyers say. (NY Times)

Day 4: The Upside Down.

1/ The first days inside Trump’s White House: Fury, tumult and a reboot. President Trump had just returned to the White House on Saturday from his final inauguration event, a tranquil interfaith prayer service, when the flashes of anger began to build. (Washington Post)

2/ Spicer: ‘Negative’ Trump coverage is ‘demoralizing’ The White House press secretary pushed back at what he said was negative coverage of the Trump White House, describing the media narrative as “demoralizing. It’s not just about a crowd size. There’s this constant theme to undercut the enormous support he has,” Spicer said of Trump. (The Hill)

3/ No White House leaks like this… until now. The Trump White House not only leaks like crazy. It casually leaks the most intimate and humiliating details about the President - hurt feelings, ego injury, childlike behavior, self-destructive rages over tweets, media failure to credit his own grandiosity. We have simply never seen this level of leaking, with this little respect for the President’s dignity or reputation, this early. (Talking Points Memo)

4/ Without evidence, Trump tells lawmakers 3 million to 5 million illegal ballots cost him the popular vote. Days after being sworn in, President Trump insisted to congressional leaders invited to a reception at the White House that he would have won the popular vote had it not been for millions of illegal votes, according to people familiar with the meeting. Trump has repeatedly claimed, without evidence, that widespread voter fraud caused him to lose the popular vote to Hillary Clinton, even while he clinched the presidency with an electoral college victory. (Washington Post)

5/ Why Trump’s staff is lying. One of the most striking features of the early Trump administration has been its political uses of lying. The big weekend story was the obviously false claim that Trump pulled in the largest inauguration crowds in American history. This raises the question of why a leader might find it advantageous to promote such lies from his subordinates. (Bloomberg)

6/ The Right is building a new media “upside down” to tell Trump’s story. Armed with its own set of facts, the right has created a parallel media universe that’s risen all the way with Trump to the White House. (Buzzfeed)

7/ Trump pays a fence mending visit to the CIA after weeks of mocking U.S. intelligence officials. Trump told staffers that he’s now with them, “a thousand percent.” (NPR)

8/ An official said the visit “made relations with the intelligence community worse” and described the visit as “uncomfortable.” (CBS News)

9/ Trump names his Inauguration Day a ‘National Day of Patriotic Devotion’. (Washington Post)

Day 5: Command and control.

1/ Trump believes millions voted illegally – but provides no proof. The claim has long been debunked. (CNN)

2/ Trump orders the construction of a Mexican border wall. It’s the first in a series of actions to curtail immigration and bolster national security. It includes slashing the number of refugees who can resettle in the United States and blocks Syrians and others from “terror prone” nations from entering temporarily. (NY Times)

3/ Federal works told to stop talking to Congress and the press. The freeze has startled aides on the Hill and people at those agencies, who worry that it could abruptly upend current operations and stifle work and discussions that routinely take place between branches of government. (Huffington Post)

4/ Trump has imposed a freeze on grants and contracts by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (ProPublica) Trump also banned employees from giving social media updates and speaking with reporters. (The Hill)

5/ USDA scientists have been put on lockdown. “Starting immediately and until further notice” the department’s main research division “will not release any public-facing documents,” according to an internal memo. UPDATE: The order was rescinded by the department on Tuesday. (Buzzfeed)

6/ USDA disavows gag-order emailed to scientific research unit. An internal email sent to staff at its Agricultural Research Service unit this week calling for a suspension of “public-facing documents,” including news releases and photos, was flawed and that new guidance has been sent out to replace it. (Reuters)

7/ A National Park deleted tweets on climate change after Trump silenced federal scientists. The tweets were posted by a former employee and officials decided to delete them because the account had been “compromised,” a National Parks official said. (Buzzfeed)

8/ GOP Rep.: ‘Better to get your news directly from the president.” The chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee said that Donald Trump was a more credible news source than the entire press corps. (Talking Points Memo)

Spicer: The media “disposition should be” Trump is correct “unless we can prove otherwise”

“…at some point, the disposition should be he is going to do it unless we can prove otherwise. He has shown through every step of the way that he’s going to win. And so it just seems to me it’s just odd that if those are the odds, if you are looking at his track record, the track record is a proven track record of success and winning. And yet, the media’s default is on every scenario, whether it’s hasn’t nominees getting through or winning a primary or him accomplishing something, it’s immediately negative and a failure.” (Media Matters)

9/ Trump’s disregard for the truth threatens his ability to govern. In the first five days of his presidency, Trump has put the enormous power of the nation’s highest office behind spurious — and easily disproved — claims. (Washington Post)

10/ Trump dogged by insecurity over popular vote, media coverage. He might hold the most powerful office in the world, but he’s dogged by insecurity over his loss of the popular vote in the election and a persistent frustration that the legitimacy of his presidency is being challenged by Democrats and the media, aides and associates say. (Associated Press)

11/ For Trump, everything is a rating. Trump spent his first weekend in office at war with math. He said that his inauguration crowd — which photographs showed was dwarfed by Barack Obama’s estimated 1.8 million in 2009 — “looked like a million, a million and a half.” His staff members backed up that claim with what his adviser Kellyanne Conway memorably termed “alternative facts.” (NY Times)

12/ Trump 101: What he reads and watches.

With an allergy to computers and phones, he works the papers. With a black Sharpie in hand, he marks up the Times or other printed stories. When he wants action or response, he scrawls the staffers’ names on that paper and either hands the clip to them in person, or has a staffer create a PDF of it — with handwritten commentary — and email it to them. An amazed senior adviser recently pulled out his phone to show us a string of the emailed PDFs, all demanding response. It was like something from the early 90s. Even when he gets worked up enough to tweet, Trump told us in our interview he will often simply dictate it, and let his staff hit “send” on Twitter. (Axios)

13/ “We the People” demand Trump release his tax returns. One of the features on the White House website that didn’t vanish when President Trump took the oath of office on Friday is the “We the People” page, which allows ordinary Americans to petition their government to address an issue of importance to them. The Obama White House, which created the feature, responded to petitions that received at least 100,000 signatures within 30 days. (NY Times)

Day 6: Declining trust.

1/ Trump’s voter fraud example? A troubled tale about Bernhard Langer meant to illustrate rampant, unchecked voter fraud. (NY Times)

tl;dr Langer was standing in line at a polling place on Election Day. Ahead of and behind Langer were voters who “did not look as if they should be allowed to vote.” Langer left feeling frustrated. Here’s the problem: Langer, who lives in Boca Raton, Fla., is a German citizen with permanent residence status in the United States who is, by law, barred from voting.

2/ Declining trust in government is denting democracy. America, which has long defined itself as a standard-bearer of democracy for the world, has become a “flawed democracy” according to the taxonomy used in the annual Democracy Index from the Economist Intelligence Unit. Although its score did not fall by much – from 8.05 in 2015 to 7.98 in 2016 – it was enough for it to slip just below the 8.00 threshold for a “full democracy”. (The Economist)

3/ Trump’s impulses now carry the force of the presidency. Impetuous and instinctive, convinced of broad, but hidden plots to undermine him, eager to fight and prone to what an aide called “alternative facts,” Trump has shown in just days in office that he is like few if any occupants of the White House before him. (NY Times)

4/ Those flashy executive actions could run aground. The White House failed to consult with many of the agencies and lawmakers who will be critical for their success. (Politico)

5/ Oh, and Donald Trump is building his wall on the Mexico border as undocumented crossing reaches a 40-year low. In taking his first step towards building a US-Mexico border wall, Trump begins an attack on a vanishing issue. (Quartz)

6/ Tweetstorm by Maggie Haberman of the NY Times. (Twitter)

Day 7: Shut it.

1/ Steve Bannon says media should “keep its mouth shut.” Trump’s chief strategist, laced into the American press during an interview, arguing that news organizations had been “humiliated” by an election outcome few anticipated, and repeatedly describing the media as “the opposition party” of the current administration. (NY Times)

2/ One of the greatest threats Trump poses is that he corrupts and corrodes the absoluteness of truth, facts and science. It is no coincidence that the rise of Trump is concurrent with the rise of “fake news.” It is no coincidence that his rise comes during an age of severely damaged faith in institutions. Our president is a pathological liar. Say it. Write it. Never become inured to it. And dispense with the terms of art to describe it. A lie by any other name portends the same. (NY Times)

3/ Fake news is about to get even scarier than you ever dreamed. What we saw in the 2016 election is nothing compared to what we need to prepare for in 2020. If there’s one thing we learned from this election cycle, it is that there are a number of reasons that people create fake-news stories. And, it has become clear that most new consumers don’t want to know if what they are reading is real or fake; they just want to know that it helps support their worldview. (Vanity Fair)

4/ The State Department’s entire senior management team resigned. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s job running the State Department just got considerably more difficult. The entire senior level of management officials resigned as part of an ongoing mass exodus of senior Foreign Service officers who don’t want to stick around for the Trump era. (Washington Post)

5/ The Trump administration’s day one moves were copied from Mitt Romney’s would-be playbook. Literally. (Buzzfeed)

6/ Trump pressured Park Service to find proof for his claims about inauguration crowd. (Washington Post)

7/ (The cost of) Trump’s wall keeps getting higher and higher. Republican Congressional leaders signaled plans to move forward with Trump’s planned border wall, estimated to cost between $12 billion and $15 billion. That’s well below many outside estimates of the construction cost (let alone maintenance), but is significantly higher than what Trump himself has said in the past. (Axios)

8/ Americans think Trump will be worst president since Nixon. Voters are so dim on Trump that they think, in the first week of his administration, that he will prove to be a worse President than everyone who’s held the office since Richard Nixon. (Public Policy Polling)

tl;dr The full (tweetstorm) that ends with this whopper:

Day 8: Banned.

1/ Trump executive order suspends admission of all refugees for 120 days while a new system is put in place to tighten vetting for those from predominantly Muslim countries and give preference to religious minorities. Trump said that the goal is to screen out “radical Islamic terrorists” and that priority for admission would be given to Christians. (Washington Post)

2/ The extreme vetting plan to establishes a religious test for refugees from Muslim nations. The order also stops the admission of refugees from Syria indefinitely, and bars entry into the United States for 90 days from seven predominantly Muslim countries linked to concerns about terrorism. Those countries are Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen. (NY Times)

3/ The order will block 500,000 legal U.S. residents from returning to American from trips abroad. The president has also used language that will affect those who are in the U.S. already on visas and green cards. (ProPublica)

4/ Trump’s immigration ban excludes countries with business ties. His proposed list doesn’t include Muslim-majority countries where his Trump Organization has done business or pursued potential deals. Properties include golf courses in the United Arab Emirates and two luxury towers operating in Turkey. (Bloomberg)

5/ Trump’s immigration ban is illegal. More than 50 years ago, Congress outlawed such discrimination against immigrants based on national origin. (NY Times)

6/ Following Trump’s executive order green card, visa holders already blocked by airports. Within hours of the executive order limiting immigration from Muslim countries, green card and visa holders were already being blocked from getting on flights to the U.S. The Department of Homeland Security issued a directive at 4:30 p.m. ordering the Customs and Border Protection to enforce the executive order. People who were still in the air as of 10:30 p.m. likely face being blocked at the airport when their planes land, he said. (NY Daily News)

7/ A little-noticed move by Trump could make it easier to deport immigrants. The move stripped federal privacy protections from many immigrants, raising fears among advocacy groups that information people willingly submitted to the federal government during the Obama administration could now be used to help deport them. (Washington Post)

8/ Governing without a script. Trumps seems to be running his administration much like he ran his company and campaign, eager to weigh in on every issue and willing to make last-minute calls. (Wall Stree Journal)

9/ Trump blows up the U.S.-Mexico relationship. In one of his first instances of Twitter diplomacy as President, Trump wrote, “If Mexico is unwilling to pay for the badly needed wall, then it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting.” Not surprisingly, Peña Nieto cancelled. (The New Yorker)

10/ The theater of access. Trump’s relationship with the media may be obsessive, but it’s also deeply transactional — the media has always been a tool in his pursuit of fame and power. (NY Times)

11/ The Bannon coup. White House and Hill GOP leaders are astonished by the unambiguous, far-reaching power of Steve Bannon and policy guru Stephen Miller over, well, just about everything.(Axios)

12/ Trump’s first seven days in office were historic, chaotic, astonishing and unsettling. With a flurry of provocative executive orders, surreal events, unapologetic falsehoods and did-he-really-say-that tweets, Trump continued to obliterate political norms, serving notice that the gaze of history won’t change who he is. He made so much news and did so many unorthodox things that it was hard to keep track of everything that was changing in Washington. The question, though, is what did all that sound and fury signify? (Politico)

13/ Republican lawmakers fret about how to repeal Obamacare. Republican lawmakers aired sharp concerns about their party’s quick push to repeal the Affordable Care Act inside a closed-door meeting Thursday, according to a recording of the session obtained by The Washington Post. (Washington Post)

14/ Pence vows “full evaluation of voting rolls” over claims of fraud. In a private meeting with congressional Republicans this week, the Trump administration would pursue a wide-ranging probe of voting rolls in the United States to examine whether millions of people voted illegally in the 2016 election as President Trump has charged. (Washington Post)

15/ Can a president who disregards the truth uphold his oath of office? His job demands a basic level of respect for the concepts of law and meaning. (Washington Post)

16/ Trump backers like his first draft of a New America. Trump voters interviewed said they cared little if the president spouted off on Twitter because he was issuing the kind of executive actions many had long craved — freezing federal grant money for environmental research, banning foreign aid for groups that give abortion counseling and cutting off immigration from several Muslim-majority nations. (NY Times)

Day 9: Unreal.

1/ Trump’s order blocks immigrants at airports, stoking fear around the globe. The executive order suspended entry of all refugees to the United States for 120 days, barred Syrian refugees indefinitely, and blocked entry into the United States for 90 days for citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The Department of Homeland Security said that the executive order also barred green card holders from those countries from re-entering the United States. White House officials said that green card holders from the seven affected countries who are outside the United States would need a case-by-case waiver to return to the United States. (NY Times)

UPDATE: A federal judge in Brooklyn came to the aid of scores of refugees who were trapped at airports across the United States.

The judge’s ruling blocked part of the president’s actions, preventing the government from deporting some arrivals who found themselves ensnared by the presidential order. But it stopped short of letting them into the country or issuing a broader ruling on the constitutionality of Trump’s actions.

Meanwhile…

I bet, Paul Ryan.

Right.


2/ A federal judge issued a stay against Donald Trump’s “Muslim Ban”. The ruling – a stunning defeat for Trump at the end of his first week in office – protects from deportation refugees or visa holders who were detained at American airports since the signing of so-called “Muslim ban.” It also protects those in transit when the emergency ruling was filed. (Mother Jones)

3/ Trudeau says Canada will take refugees banned by U.S. He also intends to talk to Trump about the success of Canada’s refugee policy. (PBS)


4/ Inside the confusion of the Trump executive order and travel ban. Administration officials weren’t immediately sure which countries’ citizens would be barred from entering the United States. The Department of Homeland Security was left making a legal analysis on the order after Trump signed it. A Border Patrol agent, confronted with arriving refugees, referred questions only to the President himself, according to court filings. (CNN)

5/ Facing intense criticism, some Republicans are speaking out against Trump’s refugee ban. Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell aren’t among them. (Washington Post)

6/ The silence from Silicon Valley had been deafening. After weeks of deafening silence and quiet acquiescence, top tech leaders finally began to react strongly to policies of the new administration, spurred by a capricious immigration ban on some Muslim countries ordered by Trump. (Recode)


7/ ‘Up Is Down’: Trump’s unreality show echoes his business past. Trump’s falsehoods have long been viewed as a reflexive extension of his vanity, or as his method of compensating for deep-seated insecurities. But throughout his business career, Trump’s most noteworthy deceptions often did double duty, serving not just his ego but also important strategic goals. Mr. Trump’s habitually inflated claims about his wealth, for example, fed his self-proclaimed image of a business genius even as they attracted lucrative licensing deals built around the Trump brand. (NY Times)

8/ How hyper-targeted pyschometric data helped Trump win election. Granular personality data might have been the key to the candidate’s unexpected victory where online quizzes were correlated with public Facebook Likes. (The Outline)

Day 10: Embarrassment.

1/ Trump’s first defeat. The immigration order creates an international mess and a political embarrassment. The hastily crafted order was temporarily and partially blocked by a U.S. District Court Judge. (Politico)

UPDATE: Trump doubles down on his executive order barring refugees and some legal immigrants from entering the United States, even as one of his top aides walked back one major element of the order, signaling a growing sense of confusion and fissures within the 10-day-old administration. (Politico)

Bannon’s longtime suspicion of successful immigrants is the key to this weekend’s chaos. (Vox)

2/ Despite growing dissent, Trump gives no sign of backing down from travel ban even as lawmakers from both parties spoke out against the action and federal judges ruled against parts of it. Judicial rulings in several cities across the country overnight immediately blocked enforcement of the ban to various degrees, but the Department of Homeland Security issued a statement early Sunday indicating it would continue to implement President Trump’s action. (Washington Post)

UPDATE: 271 Republicans in Congress have taken no position on Trump’s refugee ban. (Vox)

Trump approval rating: 42% (Gallup)

3/ A clarifying moment in American history. There should be nothing surprising about what the Donald Trump has done in his first week, but he had underestimated the resilience of Americans and their institutions. (The Atlantic)

4/ Donald Trump, the refugee ban, and the triumph of cruelty. The reasons for Trump’s ban on refugees could not be more feeble, and could not be more petty. It serves no actual security purpose. You have a better chance of getting killed by a train, or by your own clothes catching on fire, than by an immigrant terrorist attack. The odds of a refugee killing you in a terrorist strike are about 1 in 3.6 billion. That’s about four hundred times less likely than being hit by lightning twice. If you look back at significant terrorist attacks in the US like San Bernardino or the Pulse nightclub shooting or 9/11, exactly none of them would have been prevented by this policy. (Vox)

5/ Trump puts Bannon on security council, dropping joint chiefs. The reshuffling of the National Security Council downgrades the military chiefs and gives a regular seat to his chief strategist Steve Bannon. The director of national intelligence and the joint chiefs will attend when discussions pertain to their areas. (BBC)

Trump chief-of-staff Reince Priebus will also have a seat in the meetings. (The Guardian)

UPDATE: McCain blasts Bannon placement on National Security Council,calling the move “radical” because it minimizes the role of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. (Politico)

6/ Trump signs two more executive actions. The first bans administration officials who leave government from lobbying those federal agencies for five years, fulfilling a campaign pledge. The second is a memorandum giving military leaders 30 days to construct and present a “comprehensive plan to defeat ISIS,” stating that “there can be no accommodation or negotiation” with the group. (The Hill)

7/ Trump’s state department purge sparks worries of ‘know-nothing approach’ to foreign policy. The sudden dismissal of several senior officials has left a gaping hole at the heart of US diplomacy: “The machinery is still there, but no one’s in the cockpit.” (The Guardian)

8/ Trump continued his longstanding assault on media outlets. This time labeling the NY Times as “fake news,” and said that it and the Washington Post’s coverage of Trump has been “so false and angry.” It is unclear as to what prompted Trump’s criticism. (Politico)

9/ The White House statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day didn’t mention Jews or anti-Semitism because “others were killed too.” (CNN)

From Earlier:

  • Trump’s First Week: Misfires, Crossed Wires and a Satisfied Smile. No president in modern times, if ever, has started with such a flurry of initiatives on so many fronts in such short order. (NY Times)

  • The malevolence of President Trump’s Executive Order on visas and refugees is mitigated chiefly – and perhaps only – by the astonishing incompetence of its drafting and construction. (Lawfare)

Day 11: Dissent.

1/ Acting Attorney General declares Justice Department won’t defend Trump’s immigration order. The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote Tuesday on Trump’s pick for attorney general, Jeff Sessions, whose views align much more closely with the president’s. (Washington Post)

UPDATE:

  • Trump fires acting attorney general, after she defiantly refused to defend his immigration executive order. (NY Times)

  • White House said the attorney general had “betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States.” (Washington Post)

2/ Bannon seizes security role usually held for generals. The move puts Bannon on the same level as the national security adviser. (NY Times)

UPDATE:

  • Bannon is making sure there’s no White House paper trail. The Trump administration’s chief strategist has already taken control of both policy and process on national security. (Foreign Policy)

  • How Bannon Took Charge Of The Trump Administration (BuzzFeed News)

3/ Obama rejects comparison between Trump’s immigration policy and his own, saying he fundamentally disagrees with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith or religion, and encourages protests. (Washington Post)

4/ Democrats prepare bill to overturn Trump immigration order. The bill would declare the order “null and void” and bar federal agencies from using any funds to enforce it. The measure faces long odds given that Republicans control Congress and the White House. (Politico)

  • Related: Senate Dems will filibuster Trump’s Supreme Court nominee. It will be only the second time in modern history that the Senate has mounted a filibuster against a nominee. (Politico)

5/ US Diplomats consider filing “dissent” over immigration ban. Dozens of Foreign Service officers and other career diplomats stationed around the world are so concerned that they are contemplating taking the rare step of sending a formal objection to senior State Department officials in Washington. (ABC News)

Here’s the draft of the memo.

  • Related: The State Department’s Dissent Channel is a mechanism for employees to confidentially express policy disagreement, created in 1971 as a response to concerns within the Department over the government’s handling of the Vietnam War. (Lawfare)

6/ Trump’s hard-line actions have an intellectual godfather: Jeff Sessions. The senator lobbied for a “shock and awe” period of executive action that would rattle Congress, impress Trump’s base and catch his critics unaware. Trump opted for a slightly slower pace, because he wanted to maximize news coverage by spreading out his directives over several weeks. (Washington Post)

  • Related: How Trump’s rush to enact an immigration ban unleashed global chaos. The confusion that erupted is the story of a White House that rushed to enact with little regard for basic governing. The secretary of homeland security was on a White House conference call getting his first full briefing on policy as Trump signed the sweeping executive order to shut the borders. (NY Times)

  • Related: From order to disorder: How Trump’s immigration directive exposed GOP rifts. (Washington Post)

7/ Kellyanne Conway defends Trump’s criticism of GOP Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, saying Republicans need to back his leadership. Conway also asserted that Trump had accomplished an impressive amount in the short time since he took office, calling his achievements “breathtaking.” (ABC News)

  • Related: McCain, Graham broke the GOP silence on Capitol Hill, issuing a scathing condemnation of Trump’s ban on travel to the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority countries. (CNN)

8/ Trump signs executive order requiring that for every one new regulation, two must be revoked. (Politico)

9/ Tracking congress in the age of Trump. How often every member of the House and the Senate votes with or against the president. (FiveThirtyEight)

Day 12: Controversy.

1/ Hill staffers secretly worked on Trump’s immigration order. Several House Judiciary Committee aides helped craft the controversial directive without telling Republican leaders. The news of their involvement helps unlock the mystery of whether the White House consulted Capitol Hill about the executive order, and confirms that the small group of staffers were among the only people on the Hill who knew of the looming controversial policy. (Politico)

UPDATE: San Francisco sues Trump over executive orders it claims are unconstitutional. (LA Times)

  • Draft executive order points to more immigration restrictions, focusing on protecting U.S. jobs. The Trump administration is considering a plan to weed out would-be immigrants who are likely to require public assistance, as well as to deport — when possible — immigrants already living in the United States who depend on taxpayer help. (Washington Post)

  • Trump’s travel ban polarizes America. A Jan. 30-31 Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll found that 49 percent of American adults said they either “strongly” or “somewhat” agreed with Trump’s order, while 41 percent “strongly” or “somewhat” disagreed and another 10 percent said they don’t know. (Reuters)

Related:

  • Under fire, Trump weighs new changes to refugee ban. The Department of Homeland Security may issue “implementation guidance” that would allow for softening, and even policy changes, to the travel restrictions on migrants. The White House insists that any further guidance wouldn’t constitute a walk-back. (Axios)

  • White House aides who wrote Trump’s travel ban see it as just the start. (LA Times)

  • Paul Ryan urges Republicans to back travel ban despite anger over its rollout. (The Guardian)

2/ Obama’s protections for L.G.B.T. workers will remain. The White House said Trump would leave in place a 2014 order that created new protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, pledging to protect the community from violence and oppression. It uses stronger language than any Republican president has before in favor of equal legal protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. (NY Times)

3/ DeVos questionnaire appears to include passages from uncited sources. In written responses to questions from senators, DeVos used several sentences and phrases from other sources without attribution. (Washington Post)

4/ Democrats boycott confirmation hearings for Price and Mnuchin, forcing Republicans to reschedule both votes. (Washington Post)

UPDATE: Dems delay Sessions vote. Democrats have fiercely criticized Trump’s executive order and Yates’s firing, and said that any vote for Sessions is a vote to let Trump stifle dissent in his Justice Department. (The Hill)

Related:

  • Senate Democrats renewed an assault on Donald Trump’s pick for attorney general, Republican Senator Jeff Sessions, questioning his independence after the president fired the acting attorney general for refusing to enforce his executive order on immigration. (Bloomberg)

5/ Trump bringing Supreme Court favorites to Washington. Trump is announcing his choice at 8 p.m. EST tonight. (CNN)

Related:

  • People think Trump is treating his Supreme Court nomination like a reality show. Because he is. (BuzzFeed News)

  • Democrats shouldn’t go scorched-earth on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee. (Washington Post)


News of Lesser Importance:

  • How to build an autocracy. The preconditions are present in the U.S. today. Here’s the playbook Donald Trump could use to set the country down a path toward illiberalism. (The Atlantic)

  • Trump ignored all of Obama’s advice and now he’s in a world of trouble. There’s no need for Obama to hold his tongue anymore. (New Republic)

  • The tale of a Trump falsehood: How his voter fraud claim spread like a virus. The blow by blow on Trump’s claim that 3 to 5 million undocumented immigrants illegally voted in the election. (Washington Post)

  • The incompetence displayed by Trump’s immigration orders will be terrifying in a crisis. All presidents eventually face a crisis that is not of their own creation. And it will be in the interest of Donald Trump to respond in a calm, well-informed, and effective manner. (Vox)

  • Can Jared and Ivanka ourun Trump’s Scandals? Less than a fortnight into his new post, Kushner appears unable to control his father-in-law—and is “furious” that his efforts are being undermined. (Vanity Fair)

  • Fox News’ Sean Hannity: The media ‘doesn’t understand’ Donald Trump. By highlighting pundits and polls that dismissed Trump’s chances of winning the Presidency, Hannity argues, the “mainstream media” effectively delegitimized itself. (Politico)

    “When you have The New York Times, a host on CNN, a guest on MSNBC, all calling the President of the United States a liar, if that is their coverage, they will never get their credibility back,” Hannity said. “They don’t understand Donald Trump, they don’t understand the phenomenon, they don’t understand what happened in this election, the level of elitism is breathtaking to me.”

    Related:

    • Kellyanne Conway ramps up Trump’s war on the media. (Fortune)
  • President Bannon’s hugely destructive first week in office. The puppet master is leading the Trump administration down a road of carnage. (Foreign Policy)

Day 13: Supreme.

1/ Trump Picks Neil Gorsuch, A Scalia Clone, For The Supreme Court. Ideologically, Gorsuch would almost certainly represent a reliably conservative vote and voice. Gorsuch would be the most conservative justice save for the silent stalwart Justice Clarence Thomas and would sit somewhere just to the right of the ideological space occupied by Scalia. (FiveThirtyEight)

UPDATE: What Gorsuch means for the Supreme Court. 13 top legal scholars weigh in. (Politico)

Related:

  • Where Gorsuch would fit on the Supreme Court. Should he be confirmed, the court will return to a familiar dynamic, with Justice Anthony M. Kennedy holding the decisive vote in many closely divided cases. (NY Times)

  • Who Is Neil Gorsuch? Like Justice Antonin Scalia, Gorsuch has cultivated a reputation as a memorable and clear author of legal opinions. (NPR)

  • Why Liberals should back Gorsuch. One basic criterion should be paramount: Is the nominee someone who will stand up for the rule of law and say no to a president or Congress that strays beyond the Constitution and laws? (NY Times)

  • Why Democrats should oppose Gorsuch. The presumption should be that Gorsuch does not deserve confirmation, because the process that led to his nomination was illegitimate. (NY Times)

2/ Trump to McConnell: Go nuclear if necessary. But McConnell, a well-known institutionalist, has been noncommittal about whether he would invoke the so-called “nuclear option” to force Gorsuch through the upper chamber. (The Hill)

Related:

  • Make Republicans nuke the filibuster to confirm Gorsuch. Once Mitch McConnell blockaded Barack Obama’s last Supreme Court nomination, and then Donald Trump carried the Electoral College, the chance that Republicans would fill the vacancy rose to 100 percent. McConnell already indicated that he does not respect Democrats’ right to filibuster, and that he would eliminate the filibuster for Supreme Court nominations if one is used. It is McConnell, his extraordinary blockade tactic, who has functionally changed the rules of the game. He should be forced to do it in name. (New York Magazine)

3/ Rex Tillerson is confirmed as Secretary of State amid record opposition. The votes against Mr. Tillerson’s confirmation were the most in Senate history (NY Times)

4/ Sessions approved by Senate committee. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Sessions 11-9 along party lines. His nomination now goes to the floor, where he is widely expected to be confirmed given the GOP’s 52-seat majority. (The Hill)

5/ Republicans suspend committee rules, advance Mnuchin, Price nominations after confronting a boycott from Democrats. Senate Committee rules normally require at least one Democratic senator present to have a vote. But when Democrats refused to show, the committee’s chairman suspended those rules. (CNN)

6/ Two Republican senators says they aren’t committed to voting for Betsy DeVos on Senate floor. Democrats say they have 48 votes against DeVos on the floor but need 51 — and they have been looking for Republican votes against her. (Washington Post)

UPDATES:

  • Two GOP senators to vote no on Betsy DeVos. The first two Republicans to break with Trump on his Cabinet picks. (The Hill)

  • DeVos nomination stands at 50-50. It could come down to Vice President Mike Pence, in what would be a history-making confirmation vote. (Politico)

7/ Resistance from within: Federal workers push back against Trump. Less than two weeks into Trump’s administration, federal workers are in regular consultation with recently departed Obama-era political appointees about what they can do to push back against the new president’s initiatives. (Washington Post)

Related:

  • State Dept. dissent cable on Trump’s ban goes viral at U.S. embassies, attracting around 1,000 signatures – far more than any dissent cable in recent years. The letter, which harshly took apart the executive order, said the visa ban would “alienate allies” and “hurt America economically.” (NY Times)

  • Trump transition email shows initial effort to oust all inspectors general. (Washington Post)

8/ White House ices out CNN. Trump administration refuses to put officials on air on the network the president called “fake news.” (Politico)

Related:

  • Fatigued by the news? Experts suggest how to adjust your media diet. Or, just read WTF Just Happened, Today? instead. (NY Times)

  • Covering Trump the Reuters way. In a message to staff, Reuters Editor-in-Chief Steve Adler wrote about covering President Trump the Reuters way. (Reuters)

9/ Bannon thinks there will be war with China in the next few years. Comments on his radio show are re-surfacing as the “special counsellor” assumes unprecedented power in the White House. (The Independent)

UPDATES:

  • Trump administration “officially putting Iran on notice.” National security adviser, Michael Flynn, issued a statement in reaction to an Iranian missile test and an attack on a Saudi warship by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. “It’s either an empty threat or a clear statement of intent to go to war with Iran.” (The Guardian)

  • Trump to focus counter-extremism program solely on Islam. (Reuters)

  • Trump to Mexico: Take care of “bad hombres” or US might. Trump threatened in a phone call with his Mexican counterpart to send U.S. troops to stop “bad hombres down there” unless the Mexican military does more to control them itself. (Associated Press)


News of Lesser Importance:

  • Bannon explained his worldview well before it became official U.S. policy: countries should protect their citizens and their essence by reducing immigration, legal and illegal, and pulling back from multinational agreements. (Washington Post)

  • President Trump campaigned as a Washington outsider. But his first Supreme Court nominee has deep roots in the city and the establishment Trump criticized. (NY Times)

  • How Democrats missed a chance to reshape the Supreme Court for a generation. If it weren’t for 77,744 voters in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, the Supreme Court would have had, for the first time in nearly 50 years, a majority of Democratic-appointed justices. (Vox)

  • Trump has a message for poor immigrants: Get Out. The ban targeting seven Muslim-majority countries was just the beginning. (The Atlantic)


Tweets to Shake Your Head At:

Day 14: Braggadocious.

1/ Trump badgered, bragged and abruptly ended phone call with Australian leader. Trump blasted Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull over a refu­gee agreement and boasted about the magnitude of his electoral college win. Trump called it “this was the worst call by far.” (Washington Post)

Related:

  • Trump had heated exchange with Australian PM, talked ‘tough hombres’ with Mexican leader. The disagreement came as the two leaders discussed a deal, reached under the Obama administration, for the US to accept refugees from Australia who are living on islands in detention centers off the mainland due to strict government policies. (CNN)

2/ Trump tells Israel to hold off on building new settlements, saying new settlements “may not help” achieve Middle East peace. (NY Times)

Related:

  • The statement marks a more nuanced position in what has been Trump’s consistently pro-Israel stance. (Washington Post)

3/ Tehran shrugs off pressures from “inexperienced” U.S. president. Trump and Iran traded sharp statements Thursday, with Trump amplifying warnings over Tehran’s missile tests. (Washington Post)

UPDATE:

  • U.S. expected to impose fresh sanctions on Iranian entities, following Tehran’s recent ballistic missile test. Trump said earlier on Thursday that “nothing is off the table” in dealing with Iran following the missile launch. (Reuters)

  • Spicer falsely accuses Iran of attacking U.S. Navy vessel, calling it an act of war. National Security Adviser Michael Flynn said he was “officially putting Iran on notice” following the country’s ballistic missile test and an attack on a Saudi naval vessel – Iran did not attack a U.S. Navy vessel. (The Intercept)

4/ House rolls back rule restricting gun sales to severely mentally ill. Republicans are using the Congressional Review Act to roll back all manner of regulations. Rep. Kevin Brady said the Social Security Administration “overstepped its mission.” The vote was 235-180. (CNN)

5/ Scott Pruitt, Trump’s EPA pick, is approved by Senate committee. Senate Republicans pressed forward with the confirmation of Trump’s controversial nominee, suspending the Environment and Public Works Committee’s rules to approve the cabinet pick despite a Democratic boycott. The 11-0 vote sends the nomination to the full Senate, where Mr. Pruitt is most likely to be approved next week. (NY Times)

6/ Democrats plot protest for Trump’s speech to Congress. Democrats are planning to make Trump’s first speech to Congress as uncomfortable as possible by inviting guests they say will suffer under new White House policies. Trump will likely face a crowd including ethnic minorities, LGBT people, undocumented immigrants, the disabled and others when he addresses a joint session on Feb. 28. (The Hill)

7/ Trump vows to “totally destroy” law restricting political speech by tax-exempt churches, a potentially huge victory for the religious right and a gesture to his political base. Repealing the law would require approval by Congress. (NY Times)

Related:

  • Trump at national prayer breakfast: “Pray for Arnold… for those ratings”. Trump veered off script at the start of the National Prayer Breakfast Thursday when he asked a room full of lawmakers, foreign dignitaries and religious leaders to pray for Arnold Schwarzenegger so that ratings of his show – NBC’s “The Apprentice” – would go up. (CNN)

  • Schwarzenegger to Trump: “Why Don’t We Switch Jobs?” (NY Times)

  • Leaked draft of Trump’s religious freedom order reveals sweeping plans to legalize discrimination. If signed, the order would create wholesale exemptions for people and organizations who claim religious objections to same-sex marriage, premarital sex, abortion, and trans identity. (The Nation)

8/ An anti-Trump resistance movement is growing within the government. The bureaucracy is fighting back. While dissent among federal workers isn’t unique to the Trump era, the scope of the resistance is unprecedented. (Vanity Fair)

Related:

  • Distrust in Trump’s White House spurs leaks, confusion. “Trying to nail down who the leakers are is like trying to count the cockroaches under the couch.” (Politico)

9/ Still no executive order on voter fraud, as Trump moves on. A full week has passed since President Donald Trump said he would sign an executive order opening a Justice Department investigation into his unsubstantiated claim that millions of people voted illegally in November. The Oval Office signing was abruptly canceled and never rescheduled. The White House hasn’t talked about it since. (CNN)

10/ The G.O.P. campaign to repeal Obamacare hits a wall. Republicans are struggling to come up with a replacement and a key senator has declared that the effort is more a repair job than a demolition. (NY Times)

11/ Shouting match over Russia erupts at House hearing over Russian interference in the presidential election. Th fight exposed bitter frustration amongst Democrats that Republicans have kept the issue locked in a single committee. (The Hill)


News of Lesser Importance:

  • Gallup Poll: About half of Americans say Trump moving too fast. When Gallup asked the same question in early 2009, 63% said Obama’s pace was about right, with 22% saying it was too fast. (Gallup)

  • Jon Stewart on Donald Trump: if we survive, he’ll have accidentally proven America’s greatness. “No one action will be adequate. All actions will be necessary,” Stewart said. (Vox)

  • Is Steve Bannon the second most powerful man in the world? (Time)

  • America’s leading authoritarian intellectual is working for Trump. (New York Magazine)

  • Obama’s White House worked for months on a plan to seize Raqqa. Trump’s team took a quick look and decided not to pull the trigger. (Washington Post)

  • Why Congress just killed a rule restricting coal companies from dumping waste in streams. (Vox)

  • Ivanka Trump promised to resign from the family business, but hasn’t filed paperwork (ProPublica)

Day 15: The massacre.

1/ Federal judge in Seattle halts Trump’s immigration order. The temporary restraining order is granted on a nationwide basis. (Seattle Times)

Related:

  • Government reveals over 100,000 visas revoked due to travel ban. (Washington Post)

  • U.S. segregating Muslims as part of travel ban. Lawsuits being filed contend that the Department of Homeland Security is subjecting refugees, immigrants and travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries to flagrant religious and racial discrimination. They also claim that customs officials refuse to provide information in a timely fashion on the numbers and identities of detainees being held, and are aggressively blocking detainees’ access to legal advice. (Newsweek)

2/ Kellyanne Conway cites non-existent “massacre” defending ban. There’s no such thing as the Bowling Green massacre. (CNN)

Related:

  • Kellyanne Conway cites “Bowling Green massacre” that never happened to defend travel ban. Kellyanne Conway has taken “alternative facts” to a new level. During a Thursday interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, the counselor to the president defended President Trump’s travel ban related to seven majority-Muslim countries. At one point, Conway made a reference to two Iraqi refugees whom she described as the masterminds behind “the Bowling Green massacre.” (Washington Post)
  • Conway admits “Bowling Green massacre” error. “Honest mistakes abound,” she wrote on Twitter. (NY Times)
  • Facebook users are marking themselves “Safe” from Kellyanne Conway’s made-up terror attack. The fabricated attack—which she told Hardball’s Chris Matthews was carried out by two Iraqi refugees—“didn’t get covered,” implying the press were complicit in covering up a massacre that never took place. (Gizmodo)

3/ Trump will order a sweeping review of the Dodd-Frank Act rules enacted in response to the 2008 financial crisis. Trump also will halt regulations that requires advisers on retirement accounts to work in the best interests of their clients. (Bloomberg)

Related:

  • Trump has mounted an all-out assault on financial regulation, announcing an array of steps to tear down safeguards enacted to prevent a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis and turning to the Wall Street titans he had demonized during his campaign for advice. The actions constitute a broad effort to loosen regulations on banks and other major financial companies. (NY Times)

4/ Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner worked to sink LGBT executive order. The couple favored putting out a clear statement from the president, promising to uphold the 2014 Obama executive order and stopping the momentum for the turnaround in its tracks. Members of the religious right with ties to the Trump administration say they have been led to believe that some changes will still be coming. (Politico)

5/ The jobless rate ticked up to 4.8 percent. Employers added 227,000 to payrolls, but pay gains were scant despite increases in minimum-wage laws. Trump said that this latest report showed there was a “great spirit in the country right now.” (NY Times)

Related:

  • Trump said unemployment rate wasn’t real. if the president wants to set a different measure of the job market for his administration to focus on and improve, it would be best if he could let us know what it is now, so that we can really assess whether things get better or worse during his presidency. (NY Times)

  • Opinion: Trump is preparing to gut Wall Street oversight. This gives Democrats a huge opportunity. It presents a new and very specific way for them to press the case against Trump for more transparency around his own holdings and the unprecedented welter of conflicts-of-interest — and possibilities for corruption — they may be creating. (Washington Post)

6/ Hill Republicans revolt over Trump’s plans to build border wall. A growing number of congressional Republicans are objecting to the cost and viability of a proposal that was a rallying cry for the billionaire businessman during his insurgent campaign. (CNN)

7/ Senate advances DeVos’s nomination, setting her up for final vote. Senators voted 52-48 to advance DeVos’s nomination. No Democrats voted yes. Pence is expected to have to break a 50-50 tie, the first time a vice president will cast the deciding vote on a Cabinet nomination. (The Hill)

Related:

  • How DeVos became Trump’s least popular cabinet pick. Nine out of 10 students in this country attend public school. So DeVos’ rhetoric about replacing “failed” public schools with charter schools and voucher programs may have rubbed many people — even Trump supporters — the wrong way. (NPR)

8/ Trump missing top lieutenants across federal government. The work at some agencies has slowed because of the lack of deputies. Trump has so far failed to nominate deputies and other top officials to run the day-to-day operations at most federal agencies, creating a vacuum across the government that has businesses, lobbyists and lawmakers in limbo as they wait to see how Trump’s agenda will be carried out. (Politico)

9/ The Trump administration is showing white nationalists it won’t fight them at all. The Trump administration is reportedly planning to rebrand a government effort to combat violent extremism into one that focuses only on terrorists acting in the name of Islam and take advantage of yet another opportunity to ratify white nationalism and white supremacy. (Washington Post)

10/ More companies back away from Donald Trump under pressure from customers. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick quit Trump’s 15-member council of business leaders yesterday. Nordstrom announced last night that it will stop selling Ivanka Trump’s name-branded line of clothing and shoes. (Washington Post)

11/ Trump’s Mar-a-Lago getaway could cost taxpayers more than $3 million. Trump regularly hassled Obama for his travel. Now Trump is about to get a taste of his own medicine. (Politico)

Related:

  • Eric Trump’s trip to Uruguay cost taxpayers $97,830 in hotel bills. (Washington Post)

12/

Day 16: Suspended.

1/ Homeland Security suspends travel ban, and will resume standard inspections of travelers as it did prior to the signing of the travel ban. The White House announced the Justice Department would file an emergency motion to stop the halt, but it had yet to do so as of Saturday afternoon. Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson said he was prepared to take his case all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary. (CNN)

tl;dr:

On Friday night, a federal judge in Seattle temporarily halted the enforcement of President Trump’s executive order on immigration. By Saturday, federal officials had announced they would be complying with the ruling, and airlines said they would resume boarding travelers covered under the ban. (NPR)

Related:

  • Borders reopen to banned visa holders. (NY Times)
  • U.S. authorities end enforcement of travel ban after judge puts Trump executive order on hold. The State Department had “provisionally revoked” 60,000 visas since the Jan. 27 order. It has started re-accepting those visas from people in the countries affected. (LA Times)
  • Trump lashes out at federal judge over ruling on travel ban.(Seattle Times)

    Trump called the decision “big trouble” and said it would be overturned. (BuzzFeed News)

2/ USDA abruptly purges animal welfare information from its website about the treatment of animals at thousands of research laboratories, zoos, dog breeding operations and other facilities. The removed documents are now accessible only via Freedom of Information Act Requests. Those can take years to be approved. (Washington Post)

3/ Trust records show Trump is still closely tied to his empire. Trump’s situation is unprecedented because it involves a wealthy president acting to avoid an appearance of conflict of interest. (NY Times)

Related:

  • Newly released documents show that Trump himself is the sole beneficiary of the trust and that it is legally controlled by his oldest son and a longtime employee. (Washington Post)

  • Early signs suggest Trump’s actions are taking a toll on the Trump brand. Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus dropped Ivanka Trump’s jewelry line. (NY Times)

4/ Trump’s pick for Army Secretary drops out. Vincent Viola concluded that he would not be able to successfully navigate the confirmation process citing his inability to get around strict Defense Department rules concerning his family businesses. (Military Times)

5/ Pence says Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch will be seated on the high court “one way or the other.” Trump urged the Senate’s Republican leader to scrap longstanding rules and “go nuclear” if Democrats block Gorsuch. (Associated Press)

6/ Tech companies fight Trump immigration order in court. Amazon and Expedia stepped up their opposition to the order with filings that were part of a lawsuit in federal court against the Trump administration, arguing that the order will hurt their businesses. (NY Times)

Related:

  • The ACLU filed a class action lawsuit that uses Trump’s tweets against him – pointing out specific instances where the president has described the action as a “ban” on Muslims. Plaintiffs argue that a de facto Muslim ban is unconstitutional—the First Amendment specifically prohibits “establishment of religion,” including the government favoring one religion over another. (Ars Technica)

7/ BuzzFeed sued over unverified Trump dossier. McClatchy says XBT Holdings, a tech firm with Russian ties named in the document, is suing BuzzFeed, editor in chief Ben Smith and former British spy Christopher Steele over the January 10 publication of what the suit calls “libelous, unverified and untrue allegations.” (The Hill)

8/ New Yorkers hold mock vigil at Bowling Green for ‘massacre’ victims as Kellyanne Conway ripped for bogus claim. The group decided to take to the streets to poke fun at presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway’s false claim that Iraqi refugees committed an atrocity that never happened called the “Bowling Green massacre.” (NY Daily News)

Related:

  • Conway says she misspoke on Iraqi terrorists, calls some critics “haters.” Conway admits she made a mistake in talking about a Kentucky massacre that never took place. But that’s not all she has to say about it. (Fox News)

If That Wasn’t Enough:

  • Trump’s rallying cry: fear itself - Washington Post
  • It Was Never Populism. It’s Nationalism - Talking Points Memo
  • Fear and Loathing in Trump’s America - The New Yorker
  • Donald Trump, Legal Experts Fear, ‘Is How Authoritarianism Starts’ - NY Times
  • Trump’s God-Awful Phone and Twitter Security Isn’t as Scary as His Cybersecurity Policies - Slate

Day 17: Denied.

1/ Appeals court rejects request to immediately restore travel ban. A federal appeals court early Sunday rejected a request by the Justice Department to immediately restore President Trump’s immigration order. The ruling meant that refugees and travelers from seven predominantly Muslim nations would, for now, continue to be able to enter the country. (NY Times)

tl;dr

A judge in a lower federal court had put a temporary stop to the travel ban. Because the appeals court declined to intervene immediately, affected travelers can enter until at least until Monday. The appeals court set a schedule asking challengers to the ban to file a response by roughly 3 a.m. Eastern on Monday, and the Justice Department — representing the Trump administration — to reply to that by 6 p.m.

Trump administration had said it was improper for a lower court to engage in “second-guessing” of President Trump’s controversial immigration order and asked the appeals court to dissolve the judge’s order that stopped its implementation. (Washington Post)

Related:

  • Pence defends Trump’s criticism of judge who blocked travel ban. “The judge’s actions in this case,” Mr. Pence added, “making decisions about American foreign policy and national security, it’s just very frustrating to the president, to our whole administration, to millions of Americans who want to see judges that will uphold the law and recognize the authority the president of the United States has under the Constitution to manage who comes into this country.” (NY Times)
  • What happens if Trump decides to ignore a judge’s ruling. If Trump were to ever go down this road, the ultimate arbiter would be the other branch of government. He said Trump could be held in contempt of court, and it would then be up to the House of Representatives. the Trump administration has given no indication that they’ll actually ignore this particular court order. (Washington Post)

2/ Trump tells O’Reilly he “respects” Putin in Super Bowl interview. In a preview, Trump reveals his plans for dealing with Putin. O’Reilly asked Trump whether he “respects” the former KGB agent: “I do respect him, but I respect a lot of people,” Trump said, “That doesn’t mean I’m going to get along with him.” (Fox News)

Related:

  • Pelosi calls for probe of possible Russian blackmail of Trump. House and Senate panels are also investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, including possible contacts between the Kremlin and Trump’s campaign. (Politico)

3/ McConnell rebukes Trump’s attack on the federal judge who temporarily halted his travel ban. The Senate Republican leader also distanced himself from the president on Russia, voter fraud and the travel ban. (Politico)

Related:

  • McConnell: No federal money for voter fraud prob. While McConnell says there is voter fraud, he doesn’t believe it’s as widespread as Trump claims or requires federal intervention. He says that cleaning up voter rolls is best left to the states. (The Hill)

4/ Sanders on Trump: “This guy is a fraud” and is working with Wall Street as he looks to roll back some banking regulations. Sanders criticized Trump for appointing “all of these billionaires” to his Cabinet, and singled out his major financial adviser, who comes from Goldman Sachs. (Politico)

Related:

  • From “drain the swamp” to Government Sachs. Although Trump campaigned as an economic populist, his brand of populism was simply old-school Reaganomics—giveaways to the rich and pro-corporate deregulation—rebranded with a nationalist and protectionist twist. After the election, Trump stocked his Cabinet with Wall Street billionaires and mega-millionaires—Wilbur Ross, Steve Mnuchin, Cohn—who had benefitted personally from the lax regulatory regime that was in place before 2010. (The New Yorker)

5/ “We’ll do better”: Trump’s White House tries to gain a sense of order amid missteps. The big thinker remains chief White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon, who has used chaos as a tool for implementing transformative policy but who aides said is now trying to adapt to working within Priebus’s structure. (Washington Post)

6/ White House pulls back from bid to reopen C.I.A. “Black Site” prisons, where the C.I.A. once tortured terrorism suspects. The White House circulated among National Security Council staff members a revised version of the draft order on detainees that deleted language contemplating a revival of the C.I.A. prisons. (NY Times)

7/ New FCC chair blocked 9 companies from providing affordable Internet to the poor. The program, known as Lifeline, provides registered households with a $9.25-a-month credit, which can then be used to buy home Internet service. As many as 13 million Americans may be eligible for Lifeline that do not have broadband service at home, the FCC has found. (Chicago Tribune)

8/ Trump’s F.D.A. pick could undo decades of drug safeguards. (NY Times)

9/ Trump posted a false news report to his Facebook page and got thousands of shares.The report claimed that Kuwait had also issued a visa ban on several Muslim-majority countries after President Trump’s immigration order. They didn’t. (BuzzFeed News)

Related:

  • Trump’s lies are not the problem. It’s the millions who swallow them who really matter. As the alt-right continues to set the agenda in global politics at a frightening pace, has the world reverted to a 20th-century era of totalitarianism? (The Guardian)

10/ Trump is right: Silicon Valley is using H-1B visas to pay low wages to immigrants. This drafted executive order could actually mean higher wages for both foreign workers and Americans working in Silicon Valley. (Huffington Post)

11/ “The Senate is coming apart.” The Senate is barely functioning. And the future looks even bleaker. Things have gotten so bad in the chamber lately that Chuck Schumer even voted against Mitch McConnell’s wife. (Politico)

Day 18: Stumbles Uninvited.

1/ Trump will not be allowed to address Parliament on UK state visit. Members of Parliament will not permit Trump to address Westminster Hall because of his racist and sexist attitudes. (The Independent)

2/ After 2 weeks of stumbles, Trump and staff rethink tactics. The backlash against a series of executive orders has Trump and his top staff reconsidering their improvisational approach to governing. Trump, who was not fully briefed on the executive order he signed giving his chief strategist a seat on the National Security Council, has demanded that he be looped in earlier. (New York Times)

“We are moving big and we are moving fast,” Bannon said, when asked about the upheaval of the first two weeks. “We didn’t come here to do small things.”

But one thing has become apparent to both his allies and his opponents: When it comes to governing, speed does not always guarantee success.

Related:

  • The big lesson of Trump’s first 2 weeks: resistance works. Protests, phone calls, and mobilization are making a difference. (Vox)

3/ 97 companies file opposition to Trump’s immigration order. Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and other tech companies filed an amicus brief voicing opposition to Trump’s executive order on immigration on the grounds that it is discriminatory and has a negative impact on business. (TechCrunch)

Related:

  • Opposition to Trump travel ban grows as key court decision looms. Ten former high-ranking diplomatic and national security officials, nearly 100 Silicon Valley tech companies, more than 280 law professors, and a host of civil liberties and other organizations have formally lent their support to the legal bid to block President Trump’s immigration order. (Washington Post)
  • Amicus Brief U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit (PDF)

4/ Trump says “negative polls are fake news.” Trump turned to Twitter early Monday and began challenging polls that showed his travel order was not popular. (New York Times)

Related:

  • Trump is encouraging his 24 million Twitter followers to ignore accurate polls. A CNN/ORC’s poll found Trump had a 44% approval and 53% disapproval of his job performance. 53% of Americans oppose the travel ban, 47% in favor. (CNN)

5/ The massacre that wasn’t, and a turning point for fake news. The Bowling Green episode made such a splash because it played directly into concerns that the Trump administration would use untrue assertions to rally support for its agenda while denigrating as “dishonest” all the valid reporting pointing out the falsehoods. (New York Times)

Related:

  • Not the first time Kellyanne Conway referred to the “Bowling Green Massacre.” Conway used the same wording in a conversation with Cosmopolitan.com on Jan. 29. (Cosmopolitan)
  • Democrats confront lefty fake news. As opposition to President Trump consumes social media, Democrats are facing their own troubles with conspiracy theories and sketchy stories going viral. “It exists on the left and that’s a problem because it misinforms people.” (BuzzFeed New)

6/ Trump is now speculating that the media is covering up terrorist attacks. Trump went off his prepared remarks to make a truly stunning claim: The media was intentionally covering up reports of terrorist attacks and complicit in making terrorists successful. It’s part of a recent pattern of suggesting that others are standing in the way of his terrorism-fighting efforts, which includes disparaging a federal judge who halted his immigration executive order. (Washington Post)

7/ Kremlin says it wants apology from Fox News over Putin comments. Fox News host Bill O’Reilly described Putin as “a killer” in the interview with Trump as he tried to press the U.S. president to explain more fully why he respected his Russian counterpart. (Reuters)

Related:

  • Trump’s continued defense of Putin confounds Republicans. Congressional Republicans have broken with Trump over dozens of controversial statements he has made during his campaign, his transition and now his presidency. But few issues appear to have confounded lawmakers as much as his consistent defense of Putin. Trump’s coziness is at odds with years of Republican foreign policy orthodoxy calling for a more aggressive stance toward Putin’s regime. (Washington Post)

8/ Senate Democrats plan to debate all night in hopes of stopping DeVos. The 24-hour marathon of speeches is expected to conclude at noon on Tuesday, when the Senate is expected to vote on DeVos’ confirmation. That vote is likely to be a 50-50 tie, with Vice President Mike Pence then taking a rare tiebreaker vote to ensure that DeVos is confirmed. The debate is not a filibuster. (Politico)

9/ Trump speaks of “strong support” for NATO in call with leaders. Trump pressed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s general secretary on how to encourage member nations to pay more for their defense while expressing “strong support” from the U.S. for the alliance (Bloomberg)

10/ Bracing for Trump’s revenge. Some conservatives unequivocally opposed his election. Now he’s the president, with all the levers of government at his disposal. (The Atlantic)

Related:

  • Does Trump actually want to succeed? How to run a White House that works, why the world is so scared right now—and how the new president could stop screwing up: Stop blowing up the U.S. relationship with Mexico, don’t expect them to pay for the wall, don’t act as “Israel’s lawyer,” don’t be an isolationist, support NATO and do a much better job of working with the other power centers of Washington—Congress and the Cabinet—before unveiling disruptive new policies like the temporary refugee ban. (Politico)

Day 19: Challenged.

1/ 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to hear challenge to Trump’s ban today. The issue in front of the court at the moment is whether the ban will remain suspended for now. The hour-long hearing, conducted by telephone among three West coast judges at 6 p.m. ET, will determine the immediate fate of the nationwide temporary restraining order against Trump’s travel ban. The three-judge panel is expected to rule this week. (CNN)

UPDATE:

Trump travel ban hearing liveblog. (Washington Post)

Related:

  • Trump: I’ll take “common sense” travel ban to the Supreme Court, if necessary. (Washington Post)
  • Justice Department urges appeals court to reinstate Trump’s travel ban, saying immediate action was needed to ensure the nation’s safety. (New York Times)
  • “If something happens”: Trump points his finger in case of a terrorist attack. President Trump appears to be laying the groundwork to preemptively shift blame for any future terrorist attack on U.S. soil from his administration to the federal judiciary, as well as to the media. (Washington Post)
  • Trump’s loose talk about Muslims gets weaponized in court against travel ban. The states of Washington and Minnesota, which sued to block Trump’s order, are citing the president’s inflammatory rhetoric as evidence that the government’s claims — that it’s not a ban and not aimed at Muslims — are shams. (Washington Post)

  • Trump’s real fear: The Courts. Over the past few days, he’s added an entire branch of the federal government to his enemies list. (New York Times)

2/ Betsy DeVos is confirmed as education secretary thanks to an unprecedented tie-breaking vote. The Senate voted 50-50 on Trump’s controversial pick to head the Department of Education, forcing VP Pence to cast a historic vote to break the tie. (BuzzFeed News)

UPDATE:

The senators who opposed DeVos represent 36 million more people than her supporters do. The 50 senators who opposed DeVos represent 179,381,386 people, while the 50 senators who supported her represent only 143,064,962 individuals. (Think Progress)

Related:

  • Franken: DeVos “fundamentally incompetent” to lead Education Dept. “During her hearing, Ms. DeVos proved beyond a shadow of a doubt not only that her ideology is fundamentally incompatible with the mission of the Department of Education, but that she is fundamentally incompetent to be its leader,” Franken said Monday from the Senate floor. (The Hill)
  • Live: Senate Vote on Betsy DeVos. She needs a majority of votes to be confirmed, though Vice President Mike Pence can vote if there is a tie. Here’s a full list of Senate confirmation votes. (New York Times)

3/ WH official: We’ll say “fake news” until media realizes attitude of attacking the President is wrong. Trump and his staff have repeatedly used the term “fake news” to discredit reporting on the administration, often offering no evidence to back up their disputes with those outlets’ stories. (CNN)

Related:

  • Trump claims media doesn’t cover terrorist attacks; archives say otherwise. Trump did not say why the media might not report on terrorist attacks but gave no examples of stories that went uncovered. (NBC News)
  • InfoWars is behind President Trump’s idea that the media is covering up terrorist attacks. Conservatives have long accused the media of obscuring the details and motivations of radical Islamic terrorists in an effort to downplay the role of religion. (Washington Post)
  • Librarians take up arms against fake news. Librarians have always helped people sort fact from fiction, reliable sources from deceptive ones. (Seattle Times)
  • Trump White House coaxes media into re-running terrorists’ greatest hits. (Washington Post)

4/ FBI axes FOIA requests by email, so dust off your fax machine. Starting next month, the FBI will no longer accept Freedom of Information Act requests by email. In lieu of its popular email service, the FBI suggests sending a fax or snail mail, a procedural change that has more to do with obstructing the law than a dearth of resources. (TechCrunch)

5/ Hundreds of current, former EPA employees urge Senate to reject Trump’s nominee for the agency. The controversial nomination advanced out of a Senate committee last week after Republicans used their majority to suspend committee rules and approve Pruitt despite the absence of all Democrats, who boycotted the nomination vote partly because of his anti-regulatory bent. He could be approved by the full Senate as early as this week. (Washington Post)

6/ Trump’s White House tries to rehab its Hill outreach. The administration has been on a hiring spree to smooth congressional relations but some of the interactions are still rocky. (Politico)

7/ Melania Trump reveals plan to leverage presidency to ink “multi-million dollar” endorsement deals. The admission came in a defamation lawsuit the First Lady filed against the Daily Mail. (Think Progress)

8/ Europe must defend itself against a dangerous president. The United States president is becoming a danger to the world. It is time for Germany and Europe to prepare their political and economic defenses. (Der Spiegel)

9/ BuzzFeed vs. Trump. BuzzFeed News pushes further than its competitors, but can it handle the consequences? (Recode)

10/ Trump administration to approve final permit for Dakota Access pipeline. The deputy secretary of the Army will grant the final permit needed for completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline, clearing the final bureaucratic hurdle standing in the way of the massive infrastructure project. (Washington Post)

11/ White House ramping up search for communications director after Spicer’s rocky start. Trump is disappointed in Spicer’s performance during the first two weeks of the administration. Spicer has served as both White House press secretary and communications director for the new administration. Those roles are typically filled by two staffers. (CNN)

Day 20: Nevertheless, she persisted.

1/ Jeff Sessions confirmed as Attorney General, capping a bitter and racially charged nomination battle. Sessions survived a near-party-line vote, 52 to 47, in the latest sign of the extreme partisanship at play as Trump strains to install his cabinet. No Republicans broke ranks in their support. (New York Times)

Related:

  • How senators voted on Sessions. (New York Times)
  • Why Jeff Sessions is so uniquely dangerous. Sessions will not prioritize citizens who have had their lives ruined by racial disparities in policing, or by the persistent use of excessive force by officers who are shielded from accountability. He won’t be an attorney general who will side with those consigned by petty judges to cycles of poverty and crime, or those circulating in and out of a new generation of debtors’ prisons. (Esquire)

2/ Republicans vote to rebuke Elizabeth Warren for impugning Sessions’s character. In an extraordinarily rare move, Mitch McConnell interrupted Warren’s speech in a near-empty chamber, as debate on Jeff Sessions’s nomination, saying she had breached Senate rules by reading past statements against Sessions. (Washington Post)

  • Silencing Elizabeth Warren backfires on Senate GOP. Warren went straight from the Senate floor to a call-in appearance on Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC show. Adding fuel to the backlash, supporters noted the apparent hypocrisy that Warren’s male colleagues were able to read from the letter uninterrupted. (CNN)
  • “Nevertheless, she persisted” becomes new battle cry after McConnell silences Elizabeth Warren. If the Republican senators had intended to minimize Warren’s message, the decision backfired — severely. (Washington Post)
  • Jeff Merkley reads Coretta Scott King’s letter about Jeff Sessions on Senate floor. Uninterrupted. (The Oregonian)

3/ Appeals Court panel appears skeptical of Trump’s travel ban. The appeals court judges seemed taken aback by the assertiveness of the administration’s position, which in places came close to saying the court was without power to make judgments about Trump’s actions. (New York Times)

Related:

  • Trump decries “disgraceful” opposition as appeals court weighs immigration order. Trump also repeated claims that politics plays a role in the challenges to the travel ban and questions about his authority to implement it. (Washington Post)
  • Gorsuch calls Trump’s tweets about the judiciary “demoralizing” and “disheartening” to the independence of the courts. Gorsuch took exception to Trump calling a federal judge in Seattle a “so-called judge” after blocking the President’s travel ban. (CNN)
  • Homeland Security chief admits travel ban was rushed. People caught up in the confusion after the ban was imposed were denied access to lawyers, held in detention for hours without food, and in some instances coerced into signing away their entry visas. (New York Times)

4/ House Republicans voted to eliminate the only federal agency that makes sure voting machines can’t be hacked. In a little-noticed 6-3 vote, the House Administration Committee voted along party lines to eliminate the Election Assistance Commission, which helps states run elections and is the only federal agency charged with making sure voting machines can’t be hacked. (The Nation)

5/ Trump invites sheriff to “destroy” Texas state lawmaker who opposes asset forfeiture, a practice by which law enforcement can seize the cash and property of individuals suspected of committing a crime without a guilty verdict. Proponents of the practice argue that allows law enforcement to effectively combat terrorism and the drug trade, while opponents, including some conservatives, argue that it allows police to seize assets without due process. (Politico)

6/ Leaks suggest Trump’s own team is alarmed by his conduct: an impulsive, sometimes petty chief executive more concerned with the adulation of the nation than the details of his own policies ― and quick to assign blame when things do not go his way. (Huffington Post)

7/ Yemen withdraws permission for U.S. antiterror ground missions after the raid, in which just about everything went wrong, killed several civilians, including children. It was an early test of Trump’s national security decision-making. The White House continues to insist that the attack was a “success.” (New York Times)

8/ US military to rent space in Trump Tower. Military support for a president, including the military staff assigned to keeping the “nuclear football” nearby, requires close proximity to the commander in chief, which is why the Pentagon needs to rent a more expensive space closer to the penthouse where Trump resides when he’s in New York. The floors available to rent cost about $1.5 million a year. (CNN)

9/ Trump faults media while lying about murder rate. Trump has suggested that the national news media suppresses bad news about violence. He has implied that this is for ideological reasons. (CNN)

Related:

  • Trump says his critics “pull out the racist card” when they characterize him or his policies as anti-Muslim or anti-black. Trump also defended himself against criticism that he makes comments without factual evidence to support them, such as his unsubstantiated claim that millions of undocumented immigrants voted illegally. (Washington Post)
  • Conway clashes with CNN’s Jake Tapper on air. Tapper pressed Conway sharply on Trump’s false claim that the U.S. murder rate is “the highest it’s been in 45 to 47 years.” Conway then tried to shift the conversation to the criticism she has received from media reports, while asserting that she’s “the most open press person in the White House. (Politico)

10/ Democrats to plot anti-Trump strategy in Congress and at the polls. Democrats are thinking about how to capture the fast-growing wave of resistance to the Trump administration, as seen at congressional town halls, congressional offices, and airports since Trump was sworn. Trump is polling poorly across the country but stronger in swing seats. (Washington Post)

11/ White House weighs terrorist designation for Muslim Brotherhood, targeting the oldest and perhaps most influential Islamist group in the Middle East. Officially designating the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization would roil American relations in the Middle East. (New York Times)

12/ Spicer: Nordstrom dropping Ivanka Trump’s line is “direct attack on Trump”. Spicer told reporters during his daily press briefing that the decision – which Nordstrom said was a result of poor sales, not politics – was because of the clothing company’s displeasure with Trump’s executive orders and his policies. (Talking Points Memo)

Related:

  • Nordstrom’s shares up nearly 5 percent after clash with Trump. (Vox)

  • T.J. Maxx backs away from Ivanka Trump as President assails Nordstrom. T.J. Maxx and Marshalls stores sent a note to employees telling them to throw away signs for Ivanka Trump products. (New York Times)

13/ Republicans push carbon tax at White House. A carbon tax, long favored by economists as the most straightforward way to address climate change, could gain traction as part of a broad tax overhaul. (Bloomberg)

Day 21: Ethics. Blocked.

1/ The 9th Circuit Court refused to reinstate travel ban, delivering the latest and most stinging judicial rebuke to Trump’s effort to tighten the standards for entry into the United States and make good on a campaign promise. The ruling was focused on the narrow question of whether the travel ban should be blocked while courts consider its lawfulness. The decision is likely to be appealed to the Supreme Court. (New York Times)

Related:

  • Federal appeals court maintains suspension of Trump’s immigration order. (Washington Post)

2/ Conway may have broken key ethics rule by touting Ivanka Trump’s products. Federal employees are banned from using their public office to endorse products. “I’m going to give it a free commercial here,” Conway said. “Go buy it today.” (Washington Post)

Related:

  • Trump’s defense of Ivanka reflects approach that could hurt the economy. The prospect of a costly Trump tantrum could give factory bosses reason to think twice before setting up shop in the United States. In the short run, perhaps Trump’s threats can slow a painful decline. But in the longer run, defending the status quo may do more harm than good. (New York Times)

  • Trump’s Oval Office tweets force CEOs to choose fight or flight. The president crossed a new line with Nordstrom attack. Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Starbucks, and others have emerged as vocal critics of Trump’s immigration executive order. (Bloomberg)

3/ Spicer misspoke on attack, meant Orlando, not Atlanta. Three times in one week, Spicer alluded to a terror attack in Atlanta by someone from overseas. Spicer eventually admitted he misspoke. Oops. (CNN)

Related:

  • Spicer claims he “clearly meant Orlando” after citing mystery Atlanta terrorist attack three time. Trump and his aides have been using the attacks in Orlando, San Bernardino and Boston as talking points during media circuits to defend the ban. (Washington Post)

4/ Sessions sworn in as attorney general while Trump signed three executive actions aimed at bolstering law enforcement. Sessions pledged to attack a crime problem that he described as “a dangerous permanent trend that has places the health and safety of the American people at risk.” Although murder jumped by 11% in 2015, the biggest one-year increase in more than 40 years, the overall rate remains the lowest in decades. (USA Today)

Related:

  • ACLU vows to sue Sessions if he violates Constitution as Attorney General. The ACLU made the first successful lawsuit against the Trump administration in late January when it filed a complaint on behalf of two men who were detained at an airport as a result of Trump’s controversial executive order. (The Hill)

5/ Trump attacks McCain for questioning success of deadly Yemen raid. McCain initially referred to the raid as “a failure” but later dialed back his criticism, saying that some objectives were fulfilled in the mission but that he would “not describe any operation that results in the loss of American life as a success.” (Washington Post)

6/ Republican Senator admits GOP health-care plan has to remain secret because it will be unpopular. Senator Mike Lee insists that Republicans repeal Obamacare first, before they decide on an alternative. And his reason is straightforward: If people saw the Republican alternative, they might not like it! (New York Magazine)

7/ Gun rights advocates prepare push for more guns in schools. Attempts to allow more guns in K-12 schools were defeated in 15 states last year but second amendment campaigners are only encouraged by Trump’s election. (The Guardian)

8/ Trump lashes out at Blumenthal for relaying Gorsuch’s “disheartening” comments. The president resurfaces Senator Blumenthal’s military record to minimize fallout from Gorsuch’s Supreme Court’s statements. (Politico)

Related:

  • We’re careening “toward a constitutional crisis” Sen. Richard Blumenthal warned moments after Trump attacked him for sharing Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch’s concerns with the president’s attacks on judges. (The Hill)
  • Trump questions credibility of senator who disclosed comments by Judge Gorsuch. (Washington Post)
  • Texas Democrats angered by Trump’s remark on destroying senator’s career. Republicans, who control both chambers of the State Legislature, described Mr. Trump’s comment as a joke. Democrats, however, said they were shocked that the president of the United States would speak so flippantly about destroying a lawmaker’s career. (New York Times)

UPDATE: Story is dated 2016. 8/ Feds try to forcefully search Wall Street Journal reporter’s phone. A Wall Street Journal reporter was detained by federal agents at the Los Angeles airport who demanded to confiscate her two cell phones – and was surprised to find that border agents have the authority to do that. (CNN)

9/ In call with Putin, Trump denounced Obama-era nuclear arms treaty that caps U.S. and Russian deployment of nuclear warheads. When Putin raised the possibility of extending the 2010 treaty, Trump paused to ask his aides in an aside what the treaty was. The phone call with Putin has added to concerns that Trump is not adequately prepared for discussions with foreign leaders. (Reuters)

10/ Whatever happened to the Trump-Russia story? The biggest election-related scandal since Watergate occurred last year, and it has largely disappeared from the political-media landscape of Washington. (Mother Jones)

11/ Is the anti-Trump “Resistance” the New Tea Party? The parallels are striking: a massive grassroots movement, many of its members new to activism, that feeds primarily off fear and reaction. (The Atlantic)

12/ Burst your bubble: five conservative articles to read as protests stymie Trump. Rightwing commentators try to explain to the left how best to agitate, while others reveal the hidden costs of America’s “war on terror.” (The Guardian)

charts/ Trump’s approval rating in context. Just how bad is Donald Trump’s approval rating, historically speaking? (Borderline)

Day 22: Denials.

1/ White House now says it may take travel ban to the Supreme Court. Minutes after one White House official said Trump would not appeal the 9th Circuit ruling upholding a temporary stay of the travel ban, Reince Priebus said the White House is now “reviewing all of our options in the court system,” including possibly going to the Supreme Court. (Washington Post)

Related:

  • Earlier: When asked if Trump was considering signing a new executive order on immigration: “Nothing’s off the table.” Trump also has the option of going back to the drawing board and coming up with a new way to impose “extreme vetting” restrictions he says are necessary. But it seems certain he will not take the route since to do so would involve not only admitting the bitter taste of a high stakes legal defeat but repudiating the combative win-at-all-costs attitude that animates his character. (CNN)

2/ US investigators corroborate some aspects of the Russia dossier compiled by a former British intelligence agent. None of the newly learned information relates to the salacious allegations in the dossier. The intercepts do confirm that some of the conversations described in the dossier took place between the same individuals on the same days and from the same locations as detailed in the dossier. (CNN)

3/ Russia considers returning Snowden to U.S. to “curry favor” with Trump. Trump has called the NSA leaker a “spy” and a “traitor” who deserves to be executed. Russia considers turning over Snowden to be a “gift” to Trump. (ABC News)

4/ National security adviser Flynn discussed sanctions with Russian ambassador, despite denials. Flynn’s communications with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak were interpreted by some senior U.S. officials as an inappropriate and potentially illegal signal to the Kremlin that it could expect a reprieve from sanctions that were being imposed by the Obama administration in late December to punish Russia for its alleged interference in the 2016 election. (Washington Post)

Related:

  • Did Mike Pence get burned by Michael Flynn? Either the national security adviser misled the vice president, or the vice president knowingly misled the American people. (Washington Post)

5/ Trump tells President Xi Jinping U.S. will honor the “One China” Policy, reversing his earlier expressions of doubt about the longtime diplomatic understanding and removing a major source of tension between the United States and China since shortly after he was elected. Trump had to publicly commit to upholding the 44-year-old policy for President Xi to take his call. The concession was clearly designed to put an end to an extended chill in the relationship between China and the United States. (New York Times)

Related:

  • The US’s One-China policy explained: It has been the policy of the United States to recognize Taiwan as part of China. The one-China policy is the delicate balance between respecting China’s claim to the territory and maintaining close ties to Taiwan. (ABC News)
  • Trump’s retreat over Taiwan and China’s currency may be tactical. Trump has threatened to label China a currency manipulator and to slap tariffs of as much as 45% on Chinese goods. If he follows through with that, the result could be a trade war that damages both economies. But, talking with China, rather than trading threats, could help Trump come away with some kind of deal on issues like import tariffs and currencies that he could tout as a victory. (CNN)

6/ Jared Kushner proves to be a shadow diplomat on U.S.-Mexico talks. Kushner’s back-channel communications with Mexico reveals he’s operating like a shadow secretary of state, operating outside the boundaries of the State Department or National Security Council. (Washington Post)

7/ Tom Price confirmed as the new secretary of Health and Human Services. He was approved by a party-line vote of 52-47. Democrats were concerned that the conservative congressman wants to pare down government health programs. They were also troubled by lingering ethics questions over Price’s investments. (NPR)

Related:

  • 12.2 million people have signed up for Obamacare this year, even with the uncertainty created by Trump’s vow to repeal and replace it. Enrollment is about 4 percent lower than last year, the sizable number of sign-ups illustrates the risk Republicans face as they begin moving to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and put in its place a yet-to-be-defined conservative approach. (Bloomberg)

8/ Kellyanne Conway apologized to Donald Trump after Ivanka clothing line comments. Conway, in a Fox News interview, urged viewers Thursday to “go buy Ivanka’s stuff.” The top White House adviser tweeted that she had the full support of Trump. (CNN)

9/ Trump border wall to cost $21.6 billion and take 3.5 years to build, based on a U.S. Department of Homeland Security internal report. The report’s estimated price-tag is much higher than a $12-billion figure cited by Trump in his campaign. (Reuters)

10/ Treasury nominee vows no tax cut for rich. But the math says the opposite. Mnuchin said any rate reductions at the top would be offset by the closing of fat loopholes, his guarantee appears impossible to fulfill either under the tax overhaul that the House Republicans are pushing or similar, sketchier proposals that Mr. Trump has offered. (New York Times)

11/ Trump vexed by challenges, scale of government. The president’s allies say he has been surprised that government can’t be run like his business. Nearly two dozen people who’ve spent time with Trump in the three weeks since his inauguration said that his mood has careened between surprise and anger as he’s faced the predictable realities of governing, from congressional delays over his cabinet nominations and legal fights holding up his aggressive initiatives to staff in-fighting and leaks. (Politico)

12/ Republicans push bill to split up “nutty 9th Circuit”. They argue that the 9th is too big, too liberal and too slow resolving cases. If they succeed, only California, Oregon, Hawaii and two island districts would remain in the 9th’s judicial fiefdom. Nevada, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Arizona, and Alaska would be part of the brand new 12th Circuit. (Fox News)

13/ A blueprint for resistance to Trump has emerged. Here’s what it looks like: faith in the system, pressure Republicans to exercise oversight, use all the procedural tools in the Senate, leverage civil society, keep Trump distracted. (Washington Post)

14/ FBI terrorism taskforce investigating Standing Rock activists. FBI representatives have contacted several “water protectors,” raising alarm that an indigenous-led movement is being construed as domestic terrorism. (The Guardian)

poll/ Americans believe the world sees the U.S. more unfavorably (57%) than favorably (42%) – the worst in a decade. (Gallup)

poll/ Americans evenly divided on impeaching Trump. Support for impeaching Trump has crept up from 35% 2 weeks ago, to 40% last week, to its 46% standing this week. (Public Policy Polling)

Day 23: Targeted.

1/ Reports of raids have immigrants bracing for enforcement surge. Officials at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, said the immigration roundups did not represent an increased tempo. ICE described it as a routine “targeted enforcement action” in which roughly 160 people were arrested in six counties around Los Angeles. Of those, 150 had criminal histories. The agency has about 100 fugitive teams constantly working to bring in those wanted on a variety of immigration offenses. These teams have been just as active as they were during the Obama administration. (New York Times)

2/ The Trump administration is turning on Mike Flynn while the CIA freezes out Flynn’s aide. The agency denied a security clearance for a key aide to the National Security Adviser, effectively ending his tenure on the National Security Council and escalating tensions between Flynn and the intelligence community. (Politico)

Related:

  • Flynn holds call with Pence amid calls for probes of contacts with Russian ambassador. Flynn had urged Moscow to show restraint in its response to punitive sanctions being imposed on Russia by the Obama administration, signaling that the Trump administration would revisit the issue when it took office. (Washington Post)
  • Michael Flynn’s debacle. Trump’s national security adviser’s potentially false statements about his pre-inauguration contacts with Russian officials are a major scandal. (The Atlantic)

3/ GOP bill would gut EPA. A House Republican is sponsoring legislation to do away with large portions of the Environmental Protection Agency, including environmental justice and greenhouse gas programs. The Wasteful EPA Programs Elimination Act would save $7.5 billion annually and would leave the EPA with a budget of less than $1 billion. Major EPA climate change programs would be eliminated under the measure. (The Hill)

4/ Trump: Refugees are flooding the U.S. and creating a “dangerous” situation after the judge blocked his travel ban. The percentage of refugees arriving from the so-called seven banned countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — has risen considerably since the directive was suspended. However, the weekly total of refugees arriving from the targeted countries has risen by only about 100. All are stringently vetted. Trump made the post at the start of a day of golf with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan at his resort in Jupiter, Florida. (New York Times)

5/ The Justice Department is taking a step back from efforts to protect transgender people under existing law. The department withdrew a request to limit an injunction halting enforcement of existing civil rights laws that provide protections for transgender people. The moves suggests that the federal government’s position on the pending legal questions surrounding transgender people’s rights could be changing soon. (BuzzFeed News)

6/ Hundreds of protests against Planned Parenthood and counterprotests in support of the nonprofit are taking place across the country today. A national coalition opposed to abortion rights seeks to end any public funding for Planned Parenthood. Supporters of Planned Parenthood are rallying today to show solidarity for the nonprofit organization, which provides a variety of health services including cancer screenings, HIV testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections as well as family planning, birth control and abortion. (ABC News)

7/ Al Franken to Maher: GOP senators privately express “great concern” about Trump’s temperament. Franken isn’t the first Democrat to say Republicans senators are privately fretting. Sen. Sherrod Brown said his GOP colleagues privately worry about Trump’s “incompetence” and “ethics.” (Washington Post)

Related:

  • Trump to Dems: “Pocahontas is now the face of your party” – his insult of choice for Elizabeth Warren. Trump said the only reason Warren claimed Native American heritage was “because she has high cheekbones.” Trump was referencing questions over Warren’s ancestry from her 2012 Senate race. (CNN)

8/ Trump: Border wall price “will come WAY DOWN” when I negotiate. Trump responded to reports that the cost of his proposed border wall is much higher than expected, insisting that it will be much cheaper after he gets involved in negotiations. (The Hill)

9/ “We’re going to see more” sanctuary cities cave in face of Trump’s funding threats. Several towns, cities and counties around the nation are caving to President Trump’s threat to pull funding, and abandoning their “sanctuary” pledges to shield illegal immigrants from federal authorities. The changes come on the heels of Trump’s executive order giving the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security the power to cut federal funding to communities that are deemed sanctuaries for illegal immigrants. Trump also has authorized the DHS to publish a weekly list of sanctuary communities. (Fox News)

Related:

  • “A sense of dread” for civil servants shaken by the Trump transition. Across the vast federal bureaucracy anxiety, frustration, fear and resistance has spread among many of the two million nonpolitical civil servants who say they work for the public, not a particular president. (New York Times)

10/ Utah’s Rep. Jason Chaffetz faces the “Resistance” in his home state. The backlash was not just about policy—it was fueled by anger that the congressman was shirking his duty as chairman of the House Oversight Committee by refusing to investigate Trump. In their view, his was not just a failure of government, but of character. Despite Utah’s status as one of the most conservative states in the country, Trump has never been very popular there. He carried the state’s electoral votes last year with just 45 percent of the vote. (The Atlantic)

Related:

  • Chaffetz said the protestors were Democrats and paid to demonstrate and disrupt his town hall because they don’t like Trump and are upset about the results of the 2016 election. (Talking Points Memo)

11/ State G.O.P. leaders move swiftly as party bickers in Congress. While Republicans in Washington appear flummoxed by the complexities of one-party rule, rising party leaders in the states seem far more at ease and assertive. Republicans have top-to-bottom control in 25 states now, holding both the governorship and the entire legislature, and Republican lawmakers are acting with lightning speed to enact longstanding conservative priorities. (New York Times)

12/ Army veterans return to Standing Rock to form a human shield against police. A growing group of military veterans are willing to put their bodies between Native American activists and the police trying to remove them. (The Guardian)

Day 24: Shots fired.

1/ North Korea challenges Trump by firing a ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan. The missile launch came as Trump hosts Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, on an official visit. The missile was a medium- or intermediate-range system and “did not pose a threat to North America.” South Korea condemned the missile launching, saying that it violated a series of United Nations Security Council resolutions that bar North Korea from developing or testing ballistic missile and nuclear weapons technologies. (New York Times)

  • Trump: “America stands behind Japan” after North Korea missile test. (Politico)
  • Few good options in Trump arsenal to counter defiant North Korea. Possible responses include additional sanctions to beefed-up missile defense. (Reuters)

2/ Senior White House policy adviser Stephen Miller doubled down on President Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud, including the president’s reported claim that thousands of voters were bused into New Hampshire to illegally cast ballots in the presidential election. (ABC News)

Related:

  • Miller says White House will fight for travel ban. The White House is pursuing several options to reinstate Trump’s travel ban, fighting back against “judicial usurpation of power.” He said legal options to restore the ban — “the very apex of presidential authority” — include an emergency hearing with the full 9th Circuit. (Washington Post)
  • Miller is a “true believer” behind core Trump policies. Miller has been at the epicenter of some of the administration’s most provocative moves, from pushing hard for the construction of a wall along the border with Mexico to threatening decades-long trade deals at the heart of Republican economic orthodoxy, to rolling out Trump’s travel ban. (New York Times)

3/ New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie criticized Trump’s national security adviser Michael Flynn, saying he needs to clear up questions about whether he discussed sanctions in his pre-inauguration conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States. (CNN)

Related:

  • Pelosi: Flynn should be suspended and for his intelligence clearance to be revoked until U.S. officials fully review his contacts with Russia’s ambassador. (The Hill)
  • Does the White House stand by Michael Flynn? No comment. “That’s a question for the president.” (Washington Post)

4/ Trump friend says Priebus is “in way over his head”. One of Trump’s longtime friends publicly argued that Trump should replace his White House chief of staff after talking privately with the president. (Washington Post)

5/ The spy revolt against Trump begins. Fears that the White House is too friendly to Moscow is causing close allies to curtail some of their espionage relationships with Washington. The development has grave implications for international security, especially for counterterrorism. (Observer)

6/ Sanders rips Trump, jokes about “fake news”. In an 11-minute interview, Sanders weighed in on Trump’s travel ban, his clashing with the media, and the controversy surrounding National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. (CNN)

  • Bernie Sanders calls Trump a “pathological liar”; Al Franken says “a few” Republicans think Trump is mentally ill. (Washington Post)

7/ Betsy DeVos’ Department of Education flunks spelling test, misspells W.E.B. Du Bois’ name, then misspells its apology. Both tweets have since been deleted. (Politico)

8/ Defections by Sears, Kmart cap week of controversy for Trump brands. The moves may be a rare sign of companies taking calculated risks in making business decisions that might invite criticism from Trump’s Twitter account. (Reuters)

9/ A US-born NASA scientist was detained at the border until he unlocked his phone. Reentry into the country should not have raised any flags. Not only is he a natural-born US citizen, but he’s also enrolled in Global Entry — a program through CBP that allows individuals who have undergone background checks to have expedited entry into the country. He hasn’t visited the countries listed in the immigration ban and he has worked at JPL — a major center at a US federal agency — for 10 years. (The Verge)

Related:

  • Pre-clearance bill would give U.S. border guards power to question, search, and detain Canadian citizens on Canadian soil. The bill could erode the standing of Canadian permanent residents by threatening their automatic right to enter Canada. (CBC)
  • What is pre-clearance? Pre-clearance allows Canadian visitors to the U.S. to clear U.S. Customs and Immigration while still in Canada at a Canadian port of departure.

poll/ Trump’s job approval rating hits a new low: 40% of Americans approve of the job that the president is doing, while 55% disapprove. (Gallup)

Day 25: Turbulent.

1/ Michael Flynn resigns as National Security Adviser after it was revealed that he had misled Pence and other top White House officials about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States. Flynn served in the job for less than a month. (New York Times)

UPDATE:

Flynn on thin ice but still in at the White House after turbulent few days. Despite a turbulent 72 hours caused by the national security adviser’s inability to deny that he spoke about sanctions against Russia with the Russian ambassador before Trump took office, Flynn has no plans to resign and no expectations that he will be fired. (CNN)

Flynn apologizes after admitting he may have discussed sanctions with Russia. The apology was directed most notably to Pence, who had emphatically denied to CBS News last month that Flynn had discussed “anything having to do with the United States’ decision to expel diplomats or impose censure against Russia.” (USA Today)

The Justice Department had warned White House that Flynn could be vulnerable to Russian blackmail. Current and former officials said that although they believed that Pence was misled about the contents of Flynn’s communications with the Russian ambassador, they couldn’t rule out that Flynn was acting with the knowledge of others in the transition. (Washington Post)

Trump declines to say whether he has full confidence in Flynn, deferring to a statement to come. (NPR)

Related:

  • Trump remains silent as Flynn falls under growing pressure. Neither Trump nor his advisers have publicly defended Flynn or stated unequivocally that he has the president’s confidence. Privately, some administration officials said that Flynn’s position has weakened and support for him has eroded largely because of a belief that he was disingenuous about Russia and therefore could not be fully trusted going forward. (Washington Post)
  • Flynn’s dealings with Russia aside, there are even deeper ties that connect the current administration to the Kremlin. Some Pentagon officials say they have “assumed that the Kremlin has ears” inside the White House ever since Trump’s inauguration. (Washington Post)

2/ At Mar-a-Lago, Trump tackles crisis diplomacy at close range. Wealthy members looked on from their tables, and with a keyboard player crooning in the background, Trump and Abe’s evening meal quickly morphed into a strategy session, the decision-making on full view to fellow diners. (CNN)

Related:

  • Trump turns Mar-a-Lago Club terrace into open-air situation room. Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe could have discussed classified documents within earshot of waiters and club patrons. Those cellphones-turned-flashlights might also have been a problem: If one of them had been hacked by a foreign power, the phone’s camera could have provided a view of what the documents said. (Washington Post)
  • Trump responds to North Korean missile launch with uncharacteristic restraint. Trump read a statement of just 23 words that pledged American support for Tokyo without even mentioning North Korea. The muted comment stood in sharp contrast to his response after Iran tested a ballistic missile, when he directed his national security adviser to publicly warn Tehran that he was “officially putting Iran on notice” and followed up with sanctions. (New York Times)

3/ Steven Mnuchin wins slim vote for Treasury secretary. The Senate’s 53-47 vote split along party lines and was one of the slimmest ever for a Treasury pick. By March 17, Mnuchin needs to persuade Congress to increase the nation’s debt limit. If he can’t, he would have to start using a series of so-called extraordinary measures to extend the deadline for several weeks to avoid a U.S. default on its debt. (Los Angeles Times)

4/ Trudeau and Trump try to bridge some gaps while avoiding others. Trump has called for a halt to the admission of refugees, while Trudeau has held out Canada as a haven for refugees, particularly people who have fled the war in Syria. (New York Times)

5/ Trump reviews top White House staff after tumultuous start. Trump, frustrated over his administration’s rocky start, is complaining to friends and allies about some of his most senior aides — leading to questions about whether he is mulling an early staff shakeup. (Politico)

Related:

  • Turmoil at the National Security Council. Staff members are struggling to make policy to fit Trump’s tweets. (New York Times)
  • G.O.P. lawmakers like what they see in Trump – they just have to squint. Trump has made clear that he is going to continue promulgating conspiracy theories, flinging personal insults and saying things that are plainly untrue. And the Republican-controlled House and Senate seem to have made a collective decision: They will accommodate — not confront — his conduct as long as he signs their long-stalled conservative proposals on taxes, regulations and health care into law. (New York Times)

6/ Courts still proceeding with lawsuits — and a new injunction — against Trump’s travel ban. While the Justice Department lawyers attempted to confine the court battle to the federal appeals court hearing the challenge out of Washington, two district court judges on Monday sided with challengers to the president’s executive order. (BuzzFeed News)

7/ Federal immigration officials arrested more than 600 people across at least 11 states last week, detaining 40 people in the New York City area, law enforcement officials said. It’s unclear whether the actions by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were part of continuing operations to round up illegal immigrants with criminal convictions or a ramping-up of deportations by the Trump administration. (New York Times)

8/ California governor asks Trump for storm disaster declaration, as the state grapples with a massive dam spillway glitch in the Sierra foothills. A disaster declaration frees up federal funds to help pay for damage. Presidents usually respond positively to such requests. Trump called California “out of control” last week without explaining exactly what he meant. Trump also threatened to block federal funds if California goes ahead with plans to become a sanctuary state for immigrants. (Huffington Post)

Related:

  • Evacuations ordered below Oroville Dam after a hole is found in its emergency spillway. The erosion could undermine the concrete top of the spillway, allowing torrents of water to wash downhill into the Feather River and flood Oroville and other towns in Yuba, Sutter and Butte counties. (Los Angeles Times)

9/ Trump undertakes most ambitious regulatory rollback since Reagan. The new administration is targeting dozens of Obama-era policies, using both legislative and executive tactics. The fallout is already rippling across the federal ­bureaucracy and throughout the U.S. economy, affecting how dentists dispose of mercury fillings, how schools meet the needs of poor and disabled students, and whether companies reject mineral purchases that fuel one of the world’s bloodiest conflicts. (Washington Post)

10/ America’s biggest foreign creditors dump Treasuries in warning to Trump. Few overseas investors want to step into the $13.9 trillion U.S. Treasury market right now. Whether it’s the prospect of bigger deficits and more inflation under Trump or higher interest rates from the Federal Reserve, the world’s safest debt market seems less of a sure thing. And then there is Trump’s penchant for saber rattling, which has made staying home that much easier. (Bloomberg)

11/ Trump ran a campaign based on intelligence security. That’s not how he’s governing. The president discussed a national security incident in a public room, with phone flashlights lighting the way. Why is this important? Mobile phones have flashlights — and cameras, microphones and Internet connectivity. Phones — especially phones with their flashes turned on for improved visibility — are portable television satellite trucks and, if compromised, can be used to get a great deal of information about what’s happening nearby, unless precautions are taken. (Washington Post)

Day 26: Clusterfuck.

1/ Russia has secretly deployed a new cruise missile despite violation of the arms control treaty that helped seal the end of the Cold War. The move presents a major challenge for President Trump, who has vowed to improve relations with Putin and to pursue future arms accords. (New York Times)

2/ Trump knew Flynn misled officials on Russia calls for “weeks” the White House says. The comment contrasts the impression Trump gave aboard Air Force One that he was not familiar with a report that revealed Flynn had not told the truth about the calls. White House counsel Don McGahn told Trump in a January briefing that Flynn had discussed U.S. sanctions with Russia. (Washington Post)

Related:

  • The timeline of Michael Flynn’s resignation looks bad for the Trump White House. Was the White House concerned that Flynn had apparently lied to them — or at least done something he shouldn’t have and failed to disclose it? Would it ever have taken corrective action if the situation hadn’t been made public? (Washington Post)
  • The F.B.I. interviewed Flynn in the first days of the Trump administration about his conversations with the Russian ambassador. If he was not entirely honest with the F.B.I., it could expose Flynn, who resigned his post, to a felony charge. (New York Times)
  • Flynn sets record with only 24 days as national security adviser. The average tenure is about 2.6 years. (Washington Post)

3/ A member of the Senate Intelligence Committee calls for an exhaustive investigation into Trump-Russia connections following Flynn’s resignation. “The national security adviser of all the people that work with and for the President has to be absolutely trustworthy and truthful and apparently he wasn’t and he paid the price for that…” (CNN)

Related:

  • McConnell: Flynn investigation “highly likely” in Senate committee. The Senate’s second-ranking Republican and other GOP senators have called for an investigation into the episode, building on a string of investigations underway on Russian interference in the US elections. (CNN)
  • House Republicans rejected calls for an independent investigation into Flynn’s communications with Russia, laying bare the party’s reticence to challenge Trump in the early weeks of his presidency. The chair of the intelligence committee said he was less concerned with investigating Flynn’s conduct than with the question of who was behind the leaks that quickly spiraled into the former official’s dramatic resignation. (The Guardian)
  • Democrats demand that Flynn’s resignation spur broader Russia investigation. In a joint statement, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee and the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said, “We in Congress need to know who authorized his actions, permitted them and continued to let him have access to our most sensitive national security information despite knowing these risks. We need to know who else within the White House is a current and ongoing risk to our national security.” (New York Times)
  • FBI needs to explain why Flynn’s call were recorded with the Russian ambassador and later leaked information to the press. Intelligence officials had recorded Flynn’s conversations with the Russian ambassador before Trump took office. Those recordings appeared to contradict Flynn’s own claims that he had not discussed easing U.S. sanctions on Russia. (Washington Post)

4/ Ethics office: Conway committed “clear violation” with Ivanka plug and recommends that the White House investigate Trump’s senior adviser. Conway offered what she described as a “free commercial” for Ivanka Trump’s clothing line after Nordstrom pulled her items from its racks, drawing a Twitter rebuke from Trump. (Politico)

Related:

  • Scarborough rips Conway as an “out of the loop” liar after Flynn resignation. Conway’s assertion that Flynn enjoyed “the full confidence of the president” just hours before he offered his resignation is proof that Conway is acting recklessly. (Politico)
  • Matt Lauer: “Kellyanne, that makes no sense” (Vox)
  • Kellyanne Conway struggling to cool controversies she set off. The counselor to the president insists she hasn’t lost Trump’s confidence. (Politico)
  • Conway claims she doesn’t know who retweeted a white nationalist from her twitter account. Seriously, WTF? (BuzzFeed)

5/ Russian lawmakers defend Trump’s ex-national security adviser. Russia’s foreign affairs committees are calling Flynn’s resignation a dark campaign of Russophobia and “thoughtcrime”. (Washington Post)

Related:

  • The Kremlin is starting to worry about Trump. Vladimir Putin’s entourage cheered the outcome of the U.S. election. Now that Trump is in power, political elites in Moscow have stopped cheering. They recognize that Russia’s position has become abruptly and agonizingly complex. (Foreign Policy)

6/ How leaks and investigative journalists led to Flynn’s resignation. Journalists at The Washington Post, The New York Times and other outlets spoke with government officials who provided vital information about Flynn’s contacts with Russia. (CNN)

Related:

  • Trump: The “real story” of Flynn resignation is illegal leaks. Democrat Hillary Clinton. In October, he told the crowd at a campaign rally “I love WikiLeaks” as the group continued to release hacked emails from Clinton’s top aides. (The Hill)

7/ Bannon’s Breitbart takes shot at Priebus: As Flynn resigns, Priebus’ future is in doubt as Trump allies circulate list of alternate chief of staff candidates. (Breitbart)

8/ House conservatives fret GOP is blowing Obamacare repeal. Hard-liners are plotting a major push to repeal the law immediately without simultaneously approving an alternative. Trump has sent conflicting signals, initially saying he wanted Congress to act immediately but then cautioning the process could take all year. (Politico)

9/ US allies in Europe have no idea “what the fuck is going on” with the Trump Administration.“It’s a wake up call to European leaders that counting on America isn’t currently a smart policy,” one European intelligence official said after the sudden resignation of the US national security advisor. (BuzzFeed News)

10/ Secret Service director to step down, giving Trump chance to select his own security chief. The head of the Secret Service is leaving his post, a little more than two years after arriving in one of Washington’s toughest jobs. (Washington Post)

Day 27: Inappropriate.

1/ Trump campaign aides had repeated contact with Russian intelligence during the 2016 campaign according to four current and former American officials. Phone records and intercepted calls show that the communications happened around the same time evidence was discovered that Russia was trying to disrupt the presidential election by hacking into the Democratic National Committee. U.S. intelligence agencies sought to learn whether the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians on the hacking or other efforts to influence the election. They have seen no evidence of such cooperation, so far. (New York Times)

UPDATE:

It’s bigger than Flynn. New Russia revelations widen Trump’s credibility gap. Trump’s long-term fixation on and admiration for Vladimir Putin as well as Flynn’s departure has lent new gravity and intensity to long-simmering questions about Trump and Russia. (Washington Post)

  • Trump aides were in constant touch with senior Russian officials during campaign. The communications stood out to investigators due to the frequency and the level of the Trump advisers involved. Investigators have not reached a judgment on the intent of those conversations. (CNN)

2/ Andrew Puzder withdraws from consideration as labor secretary. The Hardee’s/Carl’s Jr. CEO came under intense fire from Democrats and liberal groups who accused him of mistreating his workers, opposing the minimum wage and supporting automation in the workplace. The attacks on his policy views were compounded by intense scrutiny of his personal life, including allegations that he abused his ex-wife in the 1980s. (New York Times)

  • McConnell to White House: Andrew Puzder lacks the votes to win confirmation. At least seven Republican senators said they planned to withhold support for Puzder, saying that they wanted to see how the political novice fares at his confirmation hearing. (Washington Post)

3/ Senators from both parties pledge to deepen probe of Russia and the 2016 election. Mitch McConnell said an investigation is “highly likely,” and the top two members of the Senate Intelligence Committee announced that the committee’s ongoing probe must include an examination of any contacts between Trump campaign officials and the Russian government. (Washington Post)

  • Senator Lindsey Graham: Any Trump ally working inappropriately with Russia “needs to pay a price”. If the reports are true about communication between Trump’s aides and Russia during the campaign, Graham said Congress needs a joint select committee to examine Trump’s business ties to Russia. Trump called recent news stories reporting that his aides had contact with Russian intelligence officials during the 2016 elections “fake news” Wednesday morning and said the “Russian connection non-sense” was an attempt to “cover-up the many mistakes made in Hillary Clinton’s losing campaign.” (Politico)

4/ Jeff Sessions resists pressure to remove himself from his role in investigating Trump’s aides and their relationship with Russia. Democrats and outside groups say Sessions lacks the independence to oversee criminal investigations that might lead back to the White House. Sessions and Flynn were both early, influential advisers in Trump’s presidential campaign. (New York Times)

5/ Flynn’s departure erupts into a full-blown crisis for the Trump White House. The circumstances leading up to Flynn’s departure have quickly become a major crisis for the fledgling administration, forcing the White House on the defensive and precipitating the first significant breach in relations between Trump and an increasingly restive Republican Congress. (Washington Post)

  • Mike Pence told about Flynn warning two weeks after Trump. The White House kept Pence in the dark for weeks about the warning it had gotten about national security adviser Michael Flynn from the Justice Department. (NBC News)
  • Trump lashed out at the nation’s intelligence agencies again, accusing them on Twitter of illegally leaking information to the news media. The flurry on tweets come as new disclosures about his dealings with Russia during and after the presidential campaign surfaced. (New York Times)

6/ House panel votes against requesting Trump’s tax returns. Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday argued that requesting Trump’s tax returns is important to get more information about Trump’s potential conflicts of interest. (The Hill)

7/ Republican congressman reveals bill to abolish the EPA. The freshman congressman from Florida has finally released a summary of the agency-killing bill. It tops out at just more than 40 words. This news item is 37 words. (CNBC)

UPDATE:

Trump aims to sign executive orders cutting into the EPA’s climate work shortly after his nominee to lead the agency is confirmed by the Senate. Trump has vowed to roll back Obama-era EPA actions, including major climate change regulations like the Clean Power Plan and a water jurisdiction rule opposed by many conservatives. (The Hill)

  • This is the entire bill to terminate the EPA (Congress.gov)

8/ A DREAMer was arrested during a raid and now a federal magistrate judge has ordered officials to defend the arrest of an undocumented immigrant who has protection from deportation. Attorneys filed a lawsuit accusing federal authorities of unlawfully arresting a Mexican immigrant in Seattle despite him having protection from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. (BuzzFeed News)

9/ Trump to welcome Netanyahu for talks that could shape the contours of future Middle East policy. Palestinians fear the U.S. will abandon its two-state solution for the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Palestine living peacefully alongside Israel has been the bedrock U.S. position for decades. Negotiations broke down in 2014. Under a two-state solution, Israel would end its military occupation of Palestinian areas and allow the Palestinians to form their own self-governing state. (Reuters)

UPDATE:

Trump said that the U.S. would no longer insist on a Palestinian state as part of a peace accord between Israel and the Palestinians, backing away from a policy that has underpinned America’s role in Middle East peacemaking since the Clinton administration. The comments are a striking departure from two decades of diplomatic orthodoxy. The Palestinians are highly unlikely to accept anything short of a sovereign state. (New York Times)

10/ Trump skirts tough questions again. In a joint appearance with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump only called on reporters from conservative news outlets, or at least outlets likely to be favorable to him. This is now the third bilateral appearance in which Trump appeared to skirt questions about controversial issues by not taking questions from the traditional stable of the press corps. (CNN)

11/ Doubts grow that GOP can repeal Obamacare. Republicans are sniping over how much of the law to scrap, what to replace it with and when. At this moment, it’s far from a sure thing any plan could get through Congress. (Politico)

12/ Defense Secretary Jim Mattis issued an ultimatum to NATO allies, warning that if they do not boost their defense spending to goals set by the alliance, the United States may alter its relationship with them. It marks an escalation in Washington’s long-running frustration that many NATO countries do not spend at least 2 percent of their gross domestic product as they have pledged. (Washington Post)

13/ Trump will not fill out an NCAA tournament bracket. Fun sponge. (Washington Post)

poll/ Trump trails generic Democrat in 2020. In a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll. roughly a quarter of voters think Trump is the worst president in the last century. 43% percent of voters are ready to vote for a nameless Democrat in 2020. Just over a third say they’ll vote for Trump in 2020. In a hypothetical matchup, he beats Sen. Elizabeth Warren 42% to 36%. (Politico)

survey/ Americans are seriously stressed out about the future of the country. No shit. 66% of Americans reported stress about the future of the country, 57% about the current political climate and 49% about the election outcome. The survey was conducted by Harris Poll. (Washington Post)

Day 28: Intel. Dumpster fire.

1/ Donald Trump delivered a series of raw and personal attacks on the media in a news conference for the ages. It was a return to what worked for him during the course of the 2016 campaign: A circuslike atmosphere in which he used the media — and his supporters’ distrust of the media — as a sort of tackling dummy to re-center the narrative on ground more favorable to him. Trump didn’t just run down the media — although he did a lot of that — but he also mocked various outlets, reviewed shows on cable TV that he likes (and doesn’t), told reporters to sit down and be quiet, and critiqued the quality of the questions he was being asked. There was a rawness to his attacks, a personal invective that seemed well beyond the typically antagonistic relationship that exists between the media and the president they cover. This was not a piece of political strategy. This came right from Trump’s gut. (Washington Post)

  • Fact-checking Trump’s press conference. Here’s the rundown of the event. (PoltiFact)
  • The transcript from Trump’s combative, grievance-filled press conference, along with analysis and annotations. (Washington Post)
  • The most memorable lines from Trump’s news conference. His back-and-forth with reporters touched on everything from his critique of the media, his Electoral College margin of victory, the workings of his administration, former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s resignation and more. (CNN)
  • The 8 craziest moments of Trump’s impromptu press conference. In short, it was a doozy. Here’s the 8 most jaw-dropping moments. (Talking Points Memo)

2/ Trump laments, “I inherited a mess,” as he names new labor pick. Trump’s first choice for labor secretary is R. Alexander Acosta, a Florida law school dean and former assistant attorney general for civil rights. Acosta is the first Hispanic to be tapped for Trump’s cabinet. (New York Times)

3/ Spies keep sensitive intelligence from Trump, underscoring deep mistrust. U.S. intelligence officials have withheld sensitive intelligence from Trump because they are concerned it could be leaked or compromised. (Wall Street Journal)

  • Office of Director of National Intelligence: We don’t withhold intel from Trump. “Any suggestion that the U.S. Intelligence Community is withholding information and not providing the best possible intelligence to the President and his national security team is not true,” an ODNI statement said. (Politico)

4/ House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz asks the Department of Justice to investigate the leaks surrounding Michael Flynn. The steady stream of “potentially classified” intelligence community leaks that have thrown the Trump administration into turmoil. (Politico)

UPDATE:

In FBI interview last month Flynn denied discussing sanctions with Russian ambassador. The Jan. 24 interview potentially puts Flynn in legal jeopardy, as lying to the FBI is a felony, but any decision to prosecute would ultimately lie with the Justice Department. (Washington Post)

Harward says no to national security adviser role. A friend of Harward’s said he was reluctant to take the job because the White House seems so chaotic. Harward called the offer a “s*** sandwich,” the friend said. (CNN)

  • U.S. allies intercepted a series of communications between Trump advisers and Russian officials before the inauguration. Sources said the interceptions include at least one contact between former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and a Russian official based in the U.S. (Newsweek)

5/ White House plans to have a Trump ally review intelligence agencies. Trump’s plan to assign a New York billionaire to lead a broad review of American intelligence agencies has members of the intelligence community fearing it could curtail their independence and reduce the flow of information that contradicts the president’s worldview. (New York Times)

  • Trump’s professed love for leaks has quickly faded. As a candidate, Trump embraced the hackers who had leaked Clinton’s emails to the press, declaring “I love WikiLeaks!” Trump has changed his mind. (New York Times)

6/ The Kremlin ordered state media to cut way back on their fawning coverage of Trump, reflecting a growing concern among senior Russian officials that the new U.S. administration will be less friendly than first thought. In January, Trump received more mentions in the media than Putin, relegating the Russian leader to the No. 2 spot for the first time since he returned to the Kremlin in 2012 after four years as premier. (Bloomberg)

  • GOP senators unnerved by Trump-Russia relationship. While Republicans aren’t yet willing to endorse a special investigative committee, GOP senators have indicated that could change. Democrats are treading carefully in hopes that Republicans make their concerns public and support a thorough and public investigation of contacts between Trump and Russia. (The Hill)

7/ Businesses across U.S. close, students skip school on “Day Without Immigrants” to underscore how much migrants form the lifeblood of the country’s economy and social structure. Immigrants in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Austin, Texas, and other major U.S. cities plan to stay home from work and school as part of a strike. Demonstrators also planned a march to the White House. (USA Today)

8/ ICE detains woman seeking domestic abuse protection at Texas courthouse. A hearing in El Paso County in Texas went from ordinary to “unprecedented” last week when half a dozen Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents showed up at a courthouse where an undocumented woman was seeking a protective order against the boyfriend she accused of abusing her. She left under arrest. (Washington Post)

UPDATE:

The White House has found ways to end protection for “Dreamers” while shielding Trump from blowback. Trump’s aides have examined at least two options for repealing DACA that would not directly involve Trump: a lawsuit brought by states, and new legal guidance that details who is a priority for deportation. Trump has repeatedly promised to end the program on “day one” of his presidency and called the protections “unconstitutional executive amnesty.” (Los Angeles Times)

9/ Leaked emails show Justice Clarence Thomas’s wife pushing travel ban. In an email sent to a conservative listserv, Ginni Thomas asked for advice on how to organize in favor of Trump’s travel ban. But by doing so, she may have inadvertently made it harder for the executive order to survive the Supreme Court. (The Daily Beast)

10/ Trump signs law rolling back disclosure rule for energy and mining companies. The bill cancels out a Securities and Exchange Commission regulation that would have required oil and gas and mining companies to disclose in detail the payments they make to foreign governments in a bid to boost transparency in resource-rich countries. (Washington Post)

11/ The Endangered Species Act may be heading for the threatened list. A Senate hearing to “modernize the Endangered Species Act” unfolded just as supporters of the law had feared, with round after round of criticism from Republican lawmakers who said the federal effort to keep species from going extinct encroaches on states’ rights, is unfair to landowners and stymies efforts by mining companies to extract resources and create jobs. (Washington Post)

12/ The EPA posted a mirror of its site before Trump can cut the real one. The mirror is an archive of the site the way it appeared the day before Trump took office. (Vice)

UPDATE:

EPA workers try to block Trump’s contentious nominee to run the agency in show of defiance. Employees of the EPA have been calling their senators, urging them to vote against the confirmation of Scott Pruitt. Many of the scientists, environmental lawyers and policy experts who work in EPA offices say the calls are a last resort. Pruitt has made a career out of fighting the agency. Trump has vowed to “get rid of” it. (New York Times)

Oklahoma judge orders EPA nominee Scott Pruitt to turn over emails to watchdog group. The Center for Media and Democracy charges Pruitt violated the Oklahoma Open Records Act for declining to make public official documents the group has requested since 2015. (CNBC)

13/ More than 200 Republicans in Congress are skipping February town halls with constituents. After outpourings of rage at some early town halls, many Republicans are opting for more controlled Facebook Live or “tele-town halls,” where questions can be screened by press secretaries and followups are limited. (Vice News)

14/ Christie says Trump made him order the meatloaf when they dined together at the White House. Trump pointed out the menu and told people to get whatever they want. Then he said he and Christie were going to have the meatloaf. (Boston Globe)

Day 29: Mobilized.

1/ Trump weighs mobilizing National Guard for immigration roundups. A draft memo proposes to mobilize 100,000 National Guard troops to round up unauthorized immigrants, including millions living nowhere near the Mexico border. The 11-page document calls for the unprecedented militarization of immigration enforcement as far north as Portland, Oregon, and as far east as New Orleans, Louisiana. (Associated Press)

UPDATE:

US doesn’t plan to use National Guard to arrest immigrants. The White House and Department of Homeland Security both said they are not planning to use the National Guard to apprehend and arrest undocumented immigrants, despite a “preliminary draft memo” that indicated doing so was a possibility. (ABC News)

Homeland Security on AP’s National Guard: “Absolutely Incorrect”. The memo the AP cited was an early, pre-decisional draft, that DHS Secretary John Kelly never approved, and that the department as a whole never seriously considered. (The Daily Beast)

  • Migrants choose arrest in Canada over staying in the U.S. People who work with immigrants in Canada say these border-jumpers would rather be arrested in Canada than live in fear of how U.S. officials might handle their cases. (NPR)

2/ Senate on track to confirm Scott Pruitt as EPA administrator despite calls from Democrats to delay until he turns over thousands of requested emails from his time as attorney general as part of a public records lawsuit. Democrats boycotted a committee vote on Pruitt’s nomination last month in an effort to delay his confirmation. Republican leaders have shown no signs they intend to wait for the documents to be released before voting to confirm him. (ABC News)

UPDATE:

Senate confirms climate-change skeptic Scott Pruitt to lead EPA, an agency he sued as Oklahoma attorney general. Pruitt’s confirmation marked a serious defeat for environmental advocacy groups. Pruitt has sued the EPA more than a dozen times during the Obama administration, challenging the agency’s authority to regulate toxic mercury pollution, smog, carbon emissions from power plants and the quality of wetlands and other waters. In Oklahoma, he dismantled a specialized environmental protection unit that had existed under his Democratic predecessor and established a “federalism unit” to combat what he called “unwarranted regulation and systematic overreach” by Washington. Pruitt cleared the Senate by a vote of 52-46. (Washington Post)

3/ Trump – under fire – returns to his scorched-earth politics that served him during the campaign. He’ll continue his campaign-style reboot with a rally in Florida, reuniting with the devoted supporters who view Trump as a political crusader dedicated to the obliteration of Washington’s elites. (CNN)

4/ More Democrats call on Sessions to withdraw from Russia probe. A letter sent to Sessions by 55 lawmakers asks him to withdraw based on his ties to Trump’s campaign and key figures who have been alleged to have ties to Russia. (Washington Post)

5/ House G.O.P. leaders outline their plan to replace Obamacare. Their plan leans heavily on tax credits to finance individual insurance purchases and sharply reducing federal payments to the 31 states that have expanded Medicaid eligibility. They did not say how the legislation would be paid for, essentially laying out the benefits without the more controversial costs. (New York Times)

6/ Republican strategist Ana Navarro hits Kushner for complaining about CNN: “Oh, baby boy, I’m so sorry”. Kushner complained to an executive of Time Warner, CNN’s parent company, about unfair coverage of the Trump administration on CNN. (The Hill)

7/ Chaffetz seeks charge of ex-Clinton aide in email inquiry. The chairman of the House Oversight Committee, who has refused Democratic requests to investigate possible conflicts of interest involving Trump, is seeking criminal charges against a Bryan Pagliano, the former State Department employee who helped set up Hillary Clinton’s private email server. Chaffetz sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions asking him to convene a grand jury or charge Pagliano. (Washington Post)

8/ Tillerson aides layoff staff at the State Department. While Rex Tillerson is on his first overseas trip as Secretary of State, staffers were told that their services were no longer needed at the Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources and the Counselor offices. (CBS News)

9/ Trump has a four-person short list for his national security adviser after retired Harward turned down the job. Trump gave no indication on how soon a decision could be made, but he is expected to move quickly even as questions grow over contacts with Russia by the former security adviser, Michael Flynn. (Washington Post)

10/ Trump hires Mike Dubke as White House communications director. The Crossroads Media founder will relieve pressure on Sean Spicer, who has been both the press secretary and communications director since Trump took office, which have traditionally been separate positions. (Washington Post)

11/ Ryan struggles to sell tax reform plan to fellow Republicans. Ryan has framed his proposal as a compromise between a tariff, which the president wants, and conservative orthodoxy against border taxes. He has suggested it’s in keeping with Trump’s “America first” mantra, since it would reward American manufacturers that make products here and sell it abroad. But the idea is sharply dividing Republicans — even within the White House. (Politico)

12/ Trump promises new immigration order as DOJ holds off appeals court. Trump said his administration will issue “a new and very comprehensive order to protect our people” next week. The Justice Department wrote at length in a 47-page about the “seriously flawed” Ninth Circuit ruling from last week, but neverthless said: “(r)ather than continuing this litigation, the President intends in the near future to rescind the order and replace it with a new, substantially revised executive order to eliminate what the panel erroneously thought were constitutional concerns.” (CNN)

13/ Trump call the news media “the enemy of the American people” in his escalating war against journalists. Trump has regularly referred to the media as the “opposition party,” and has blamed news organizations for stymieing his presidential agenda. But the language he deployed typically used by presidents to refer to hostile foreign governments or terrorist organizations. (New York Times)

  • Trump wants you to take this bizarre survey on media bias. The “Mainstream Media Accountability Survey,” which was emailed to people who had previously signed up for campaign updates is designed to record his supporters’ anger at news organizations. (BuzzFeed News)

Day 30: Accountable.

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)

  • FBI Director James B. Comey met with the Senate Intelligence Committee behind closed doors on Friday, amid an uproar over alleged contacts between members of President Trump’s campaign and Russian officials. (The Hill)

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)

  • Legal analysts said a new executive order that maintains bans would not likely allay the concerns of federal judges who put the original order on hold. Even if Trump made clear his order did not apply to green-card holders, or limited it so that it affected only those applying for visas, a three-judge panel with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit said that would not necessarily convince them to lift their freeze. (Washington Post)

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)

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)

Day 31: Last night in Sweden.

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 cites non-existent terror attack, possibly confusing it with Sehwan in Pakistan. The source of Trump’s remark is unclear, but it came after Fox News aired an interview with film-maker Ami Horowitz, whose latest documentary examines whether high crime rates in areas of Sweden is linked to its previous open-door policy on people fleeing war and persecution. (The Guardian)
  • Twitter mocks Trump for citing non-existent incident “Last Night In Sweden”. Twitter was quick to skewer him for the gaffe while speculating pointedly about what he might have meant. (Talking Points Memo)
  • Trump hands the mic to a supporter at Florida rally. In what appeared to be an improvised moment, Trump invited one of his supporters to join him on stage during a rally in Melbourne, Florida, on Saturday night. (CNN)
  • Trump made 13 dubious claims during his rally in Florida. The president’s fishy statements included an attack on the “dishonest media” and an attempt to take credit for economic growth that preceded his administration. (Washington Post)

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)

  • DHS memos describe aggressive new immigration and border enforcement policies. The border security guidance expands the use of “expedited removal” proceedings for unauthorized immigrants. The enforcement memo leaves deferred action for childhood arrivals intact. (CNN)

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)

  • Fox News host Chris Wallace to Priebus: “You don’t get to tell” the press what to do. Priebus argued that the media has not covered Trump’s actions as closely as it has covered his notable failures, calling “unsourced” stories about turmoil inside Trump’s administration “total garbage.” On Saturday, Priebus said Trump should be taken “seriously” in his claim that the news media is “the enemy of the American People.” (Talking Points Memo)
  • Trump attacks “dishonest media” while making false claims at Florida rally. Insisted that the White House is running “so smoothly” despite reports of chaos and infighting. (The Guardian)

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)

Day 32: Skepticism.

1/ Pence met with open skepticism in Brussels. “Too much has happened over the past months in your country, and in the EU,” Donald Tusk said, European Council President. “For us to pretend that everything is as it used to be.” Pence came to the European Union to reassure them that Trump actually supports the 28-nation bloc and that the US will continue its commitment despite the partial disintegration Trump has hailed. Pence was insistent that support for the alliance was a bedrock of US policy. But he demanded that other member nations scale up their defense spending to meet NATO’s requirements, a longstanding request of US presidents that Trump has amplified. (CNN)

  • Tusk asked Pence whether the Trump administration was committed to three things: 1) maintaining an international order based on rules and laws, 2) whether Trump was committed to NATO, and 3) whether Europe could count “as always in the past, on the United States’ wholehearted and unequivocal, let me repeat, unequivocal support for the idea of a united Europe.” Pence said “yes” to all three. (New York Times)

2/ Trump names Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster as national security adviser, replacing the ousted Michael Flynn. Kellogg, who has been serving in an acting capacity as national security adviser, will be the chief of staff on the National Security Council. Trump shared the news with reporters as he prepared to leave his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. (Washington Post)

3/ US Defense Secretary, James Mattis told reporters, “We’re not in Iraq to seize anybody’s oil.” His comments are a departure from Trump who said, “We should have kept the oil. Maybe we’ll have another chance.” (CNN)

4/ Revised travel ban targets same seven countries listed in Trump’s original executive order and exempts travelers who already have a visa to travel to the U.S. The new draft also no longer directs authorities to single out — and reject — Syrian refugees when processing new visa applications. (Washington Post)

  • 5 things to watch for in a new travel ban. Here are the main issues to look for in the new executive order. (CNN)

5/ Russia compiles psychological dossier on Trump for Putin. Its preliminary conclusions is that Trump is a risk-taker who can be naïve. (NBC News)

6/ Trump to roll back Obama’s climate and water pollution rules through executive action. While both directives will take time to implement, they will send an unmistakable signal that the new administration is determined to promote fossil-fuel production and economic activity even when those activities collide with some environmental safeguards. (Washington Post)

7/ Statisticians worry about alternative economic facts and doctored data from the government if the economy turns sour. Trump has yet to nominate anyone to the Council of Economic Advisers, established in 1946 to provide presidents with objective economic analysis and advice. The fears about data manipulation arise from the nontraditional approach the Trump administration has taken to interpreting economic data. Trump has has repeatedly cast the “real” unemployment rate as far above the official rate, using figures that incorporate all those of working age who aren’t employed. (Bloomberg)

UPDATE:

Trump is basing his budget projections on the assumption that the U.S. economy will grow almost twice as fast as independent institutions like the Congressional Budget Office and the Federal Reserve expect. The Trump team is apparently projecting growth at between 3 and 3.5 percent for a decade. This wouldn’t be unprecedented: the U.S. economy grew at a 3.4 percent rate during the Reagan years, 3.7 percent under Bill Clinton. (New York Times)

8/ Republican health proposal would redirect money from poor to rich. The Republican plan would substantially cut funding for states in providing free insurance to low-income adults through Medicaid. And would change how tax credits are distributed by giving all Americans not covered through work the same flat credit by age, regardless of income. The draft proposal largely contains provisions that could be passed through a special budget process that requires only 50 Senate votes, and fulfills President Trump’s promise that the repeal and replacement of the law would take place “simultaneously.” (New York Times)

9/ More than 100 protesters across the country were fired after joining the “Day Without Immigrants” demonstration. The protests were aimed at showcasing the impact immigrants have on the U.S. economy. (NBC News)

10/ Trump’s Navy secretary nominee on the verge of withdrawing. Philip Bilden, a former Army Reserve military officer with little naval experience, has drawn resistance to his lack of familiarity with Navy issues and has encountered difficulty separating himself from his financial interests. The White House has publicly denied that Bilden is reconsidering his nomination. (CBS News)

11/ White House confirms adviser reassigned after disagreeing with Trump. Craig Deare was removed from his role as a senior adviser at the National Security Council’s Western Hemisphere. Deare knocked the Trump administration’s handling of Latin American policies during a speech and criticized the overall White House dysfunction. (CNN)

12/ Pence “disappointed” Flynn misled him about the nature of his conversations with Russia. In his resignation letter, Flynn said he “inadvertently” gave “incomplete information” about multiple calls with the Russian ambassador. He previously said he did not speak with Russian officials about the pending sanctions. (ABC News)

13/ Milo Yiannopoulos lost his keynote slot at the Conservative Political Action Conference after tapes surfaced of him advocating for sexual relationships between “younger boys and older men.” The right wing provocateur says he “deeply regret[s]” the way his comments were interpreted. (Politico)

UPDATE:

Milo Yiannopoulos book deal cancelled after outrage over child abuse comments. Simon & Schuster pulls forthcoming autobiography, which it had reportedly paid a $250,000 advance. His fellow Breitbart employees have reportedly threatened to quit if he is not fired. (The Guardian)

  • CNN’s Tapper blasts CPAC for Milo Yiannopoulos invite. (The Hill)

14/ Trump’s former aide concedes there was no voter fraud in New Hampshire in a rare message contradiction. Trump has insisted that he was cheated out of a win in New Hampshire because thousands of Democrats came from Massachusetts and illegally cast votes for Clinton. (Huffington Post)

15/ Trump escalates his attack on Sweden’s migration policies, doubling down on his suggestion that refugees in the Scandinavian country were behind a rise in crime and terrorism. The Swedish officials say they have not seen any evidence for the claim that migration has driven an uptick in crime. (New York Times)

16/ Trump’s aides don’t want to admit the President is golfing. Trump has visited his two golf courses near his Mar-a-Lago estate six times in his first month in office. Aides would not confirm that Trump has played golf each time, but through a series of social media posts and interviews with the professional golfers who joined him, it is clear the President golfed during most of these visits. (CNN)

17/ “Not My President”: Thousands of demonstrators turned out across the US to challenge Trump on Presidents Day and call attention to Trump’s crackdown on immigration, his party’s response to climate change and the environment. Organizers said they chose to rally on the holiday as a way to honor past presidents by exercising their constitutional right to assemble and peacefully protest. (Washington Post)

Day 33: Sweeping.

1/ Homeland Security unveils a sweeping plan to deport undocumented immigrants. The memos instruct all agents, including Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to identify, capture, and quickly deport every undocumented immigrant they encounter. The vast majority of the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants are at risk of deportation. (USA Today)

UPDATE:

The Trump administration seeks to prevent “panic” over the new immigration enforcement policies, saying the goal is not “mass deportations”. Federal officials cautioned that many of the changes detailed in a pair of memos from Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly will take time to implement because of costs and logistical challenges and that border patrol agents and immigration officers will use their expanded powers with care and discretion. (Washington Post)

Mexican officials riled by Trump’s new deportation memos. The release of the documents come on the eve of Tillerson and Kelly’s trip south of the border. The timing of the guidelines’ release threaten to severely hinder what could have been a diplomatic make-up session. (Politico)

Trump keeps DACA but chips away at barriers to deportation. The newly released memos from the Department of Homeland Security leave intact two specific executive orders from Obama that granted protection from prosecution for so-called Dreamers, young immigrants who were brought to the US as children, and a second one that included parents of US citizens and legal residents. (CNN)

  • New Trump deportation rules make it easier to deport people immediately. Under the Obama administration, expedited removal was used only within 100 miles of the border for people who had been in the country no more than 14 days. Now it will include those who have been in the country for up to two years, and located anywhere in the nation. (New York Times)

2/ Trump: Anti-Semitism “has to stop”. Trump denounced anti-Semitism after coming under pressure to address an uptick in incidents targeting Jewish institutions across the U.S. Trump has insisted he has spoken out against anti-Semitism “whenever I get a chance,” even though he has refused to confront the issue directly on multiple occasions. (The Hill)

UPDATE:

Anne Frank Center criticizes Trump’s denouncement of anti-Semitism a “pathetic asterisk of condescension”. Trump refused to address a series of bomb threats against Jewish community centers when asked about the threats by a Jewish journalist last week. Trump cut the journalist off and said “I hate even the question.” The White House’s statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day also left out any mention of Jews. (Talking Points Memo)

  • 11 more bomb threats target Jewish Community Centers. JCCs in 27 states and one Canadian province have received nearly 70 bomb threats this year. The FBI and Justice Department “investigating possible civil rights violations”. (CNN)
  • Up to 200 headstones damaged at Jewish cemetery. The incident comes on the same day several Jewish community centers around the country received bomb threats. The regional director of the Anti-Defamation League said she didn’t know if the headstones had been damaged as an act of hatred but questioned motives that would lead to the act. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
  • A brief history of Donald Trump addressing questions about racism and anti-Semitism. Since the beginning of his campaign, Trump has been repeatedly asked for his thoughts on racial or religious harassment. Many observers have felt his responses left something to be desired. (Washington Post)

3/ Trump has insisted that he had no contact with Russia during the campaign. Russia says otherwise. Russian officials have at least twice acknowledged contact with Trump aides before the election. That contact would have taken place during the period when it’s believed that the Russian government was trying to disrupt the election. (New York Times)

UPDATE:

Donald Trump’s streak of falsehoods now stands at 33 days. There hasn’t been a single day of Trump’s presidency in which he has said nothing false or misleading. The total count stands at 132. (Washington Post)

  • Chuck Schumer: Jeff Sessions must recuse himself from the Flynn investigation. The gravity of Flynn’s contact with the Russians and the reports that he may have lied to the FBI cannot be overstated or ignored. Revelations about that contact may be only the tip of the iceberg. There’s an overwhelming view in our intelligence community that Russia tried to influence our election. (Washington Post)

4/ Bannon told Germany that the EU is flawed a week before Pence pledged America’s “steadfast and enduring” commitment to the European Union. The encounter unsettled people in the German government, in part because some officials had been holding out hope that Bannon might temper his views once in government and offer a more nuanced message on Europe in private. (Reuters)

5/ The Trump White House is already cooking the books. The Trump transition team ordered the Council of Economic Advisers to predict sustained economic growth of 3 to 3.5%. The staffers were then directed to backfill all the other numbers in their models to produce these growth rates. (Washington Post)

6/ Trump energizes the anti-vaccine movement in Texas. Trump’s embrace of discredited theories linking vaccines to autism has energized the anti-vaccine movement. Once fringe, the movement is becoming more popular, raising doubts about basic childhood health care among politically and geographically diverse groups. Public health experts warn that this growing movement is threatening one of the most successful medical innovations of modern times. (Washington Post)

7/ Trump’s nominees gripe that the White House isn’t protecting them. Candidates for top jobs in Trump’s administration are getting spooked after Andrew Puzder’s torpedoed nomination, and they fear the White House isn’t doing enough to protect them from grueling confirmations, according to several sources involved in the process. (Politico)

8/ How Trump spent his first month in office, by the numbers. Golf: 25 hours. Tweeting: 13 hours. Intelligence briefings: 6 hours. (Washington Post)

9/ Breitbart’s Milo Yiannopoulos resigns following outrage over his past comments about pedophilia. As recently as last week, Breitbart editor Alexander Marlow called Yiannopoulos “the No. 1 free speech warrior of his generation in America at the moment” in an interview. But Yiannopoulous’s views on pedophilia apparently went too far even for Breitbart. (Washington Post)

Day 34: Handcuffed.

1/ Trump’s immigration crackdown will likely bring a flood of lawsuits. The Department of Homeland Security is pushing ahead with what the ACLU calls a “hyper-aggressive mass deportation policy.” The administration wants to unshackle Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents who have been “handcuffed” by policies that determined who “could and couldn’t be adjudicated.” (Bloomberg)

  • Mexico calls Trump’s plan to deport non-Mexicans to Mexico both “hostile” and “unacceptable”. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly are due to meet and “walk through” the implementation of Trump’s immigration orders with Mexico today. Sean Spicer said he expected it to be a “great discussion.” (Reuters)
  • Trudeau says Canada will continue to accept asylum seekers crossing illegally from the U.S., but will ensure security measures are taken to keep Canadians safe. If caught by police, asylum seekers are taken in for questioning. They are then transferred to the CBSA for fingerprinting and further questions. If people are deemed a threat or flight risk, they are detained. If not, they can file refugee claims and live in Canada while they wait for a decision. (Newsweek)
  • A “Refugees Welcome” banner was unfurled atop the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. The stunt happened the same day the Homeland Security Department announced expanded immigration enforcement policies. (NBC New York)

2/ The Trump administration plans to roll back protections for transgender students, reversing federal guidance that required the nation’s public schools to allow children to use the bathrooms and locker rooms that matched their gender identities. (Washington Post)

UPDATE:

Trump rescinds rules on bathrooms for transgender students, overruling his own education secretary and placing his administration firmly in the middle of the culture wars that many Republicans have tried to leave behind. Under Obama, nondiscrimination laws required schools to allow transgender students to use that corresponded with their gender identity. (New York Times)

  • Trump pits Sessions and DeVos against each over draft order to rescind protections for transgender students in public schools. DeVos initially resisted signing off on the order, telling Trump that she was uncomfortable with it. Sessions, who strongly opposes expanding gay, lesbian and transgender rights, fought DeVos on the issue and pressed her to relent because he could not go forward without her consent. The order must come from the Justice and Education Departments. Trump sided with Sessions, while DeVos, faced with the choice of resigning or defying the president, has agreed to go along. (New York Times)
  • Trump deportation threats could constrict the already-tight job market. One study suggests that removing all of the undocumented immigrants would cost the economy as much as $5 trillion over 10 years. (Bloomberg)

3/ GOP senator wants Flynn to testify on Russia ties before the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is investigating ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. (Politico)

4/ John Podesta: “Forces within the FBI” may have cost Clinton election. Podesta did not offer any specific evidence to advance the argument, but the Clinton campaign has long pointed to Comey’s letter – 11 days before the election – as a turning-point in the election which may have caused their electoral college defeat. (Politico)

5/ Thousands of emails show that the E.P.A. chief worked to battle environmental regulation as attorney general of Oklahoma. Scott Pruitt, now head of the Environmental Protection Agency, closely coordinated with major oil and gas producers, electric utilities, and political groups to roll back environmental regulations. (New York Times)

6/ Trump said his team has “enormous work to do” to assemble a federal budget that will bring down deficits and deliver on priorities such as a military buildup, public infrastructure investments, expansion of immigration enforcement, and tax cuts. Trump said he would release a health plan in early to mid-March, ahead of tackling his promised tax overhaul. (Bloomberg)

  • Congressional Republicans don’t expect Trump to offer his own health or tax plans. Instead, they anticipate he will simply align himself with theirs. (CNBC)
  • Trump officials weigh fate of birth-control mandate. The requirement that insurance companies cover contraception at no cost is believed to be on the chopping block now that Tom Price has taken over the Department of Health and Human Services. (The Hill)

7/ Maryland school asks teachers to take down pro-diversity posters because they’re “anti-Trump” and perceived as “political” after one staff member complained. The posters depicted Latina, Muslim, and black women were designed by Shepard Fairey, the artist who created the “Hope” posters from Obama’s 2008 campaign. The women are rendered in patriotic colors, with messages like “We the people are greater than fear.” The teachers put up the posters as a “show of diversity.” (Huffington Post)

8/ Trump aide calls Guantanamo Bay an “incredibly important intelligence asset”. The Obama administration and human rights groups spent eight years attempting to close the facility, calling it a stain on America’s reputation around the world. (ABC News)

9/ The Anti-Defamation League received a bomb threat to its New York headquarters, making it the latest in a series of threats targeting U.S. Jewish organizations. (The Atlantic)

10/ How Trump’s campaign staffers tried to keep him off Twitter. The trick? Ensure that his personal media consumption includes a steady stream of praise. And when no such praise was to be found, staff would turn to friendly outlets to drum some up. (Politico)

  • Kellyanne Conway sidelined from TV after making statements that were at odds with the administration’s official stance. Sources said the administration is enjoying a reprieve from the controversy created by her appearances. (CNN)

11/ The White House recently deleted all of the data on its open data portal, which serves as the public clearinghouse for data on everything from federal budgets to climate change initiatives. Most of this data should still be available through an archived version of the portal. (The Hill)

poll/ Support for Obamacare is rising. Voters are now split evenly on the Affordable Care Act: 45% of registered voters approve of the law, and 45% disapprove. Before Trump took office, the poll showed only 41% of voters approved vs 52% who disapproved. (Politico)

poll/ Majority of Americans worried about war. Nearly two-thirds of Americans are worried that the U.S. will become engaged in a major war in the next four years; 62% think that U.S. should take into account the interests of its NATO allies, even if it means making compromises with them. (NBC News)

poll/ Americans overwhelmingly oppose sanctuary cities, believing that cities that arrest undocumented immigrants for crimes should turn them over to federal authorities. Hundreds of cities across the nation are refusing to do so. The top 10 sanctuary cities in the U.S. receive $2.27 billion in federal funding for programs ranging from public health services to early childhood education. Trump’s executive order directs Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly to find ways to starve these cities of federal funding. (The Hill)

Day 35: Frayed. Rejected.

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)

  • Paul Manafort faced blackmail attempt while he was Trump’s campaign chairman last summer. Stolen text messages from his daughter’s phone appear to be threats to expose relations between Russia-friendly forces, Trump, and Manafort. Manafort confirmed the authenticity of the texts and added that, before the texts were sent to his daughter, he had received similar texts to his own phone number from the same address. (Politico)
  • House Republicans plan to derail a Democratic resolution that would force disclosure of Trump’s potential ties with Russia and any possible business conflicts of interest. Democrats have blasted Trump for failing to make a clean break from his real estate empire, accusing him of being vulnerable to conflicts of interest. They also are suspicious of his campaign’s relationship with Russia. U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that top Russian officials orchestrated interference into the 2016 presidential election on Trump’s behalf. (Politico)

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)

  • Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly promised there will not be any military force used in immigration enforcement. The statement contradicts what President Trump had said hours before when he referenced Kelly’s and Secretary of State Tillerson’s trip to Mexico. (CBS News)
  • Spicer: Trump didn’t mean “military operation” literally. Spicer added that “the president was clearly describing the manner in which this is being done.” (The Hill)

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)

  • Mexico’s foreign minister drew a sharp line against “unilateral” U.S. immigration policies before the top-level Trump administration team could cool tensions that threaten to derail trade and other agreements. (Washington Post)

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)

  • Tillerson looking for ways to raise his public profile. The secretary of state’s lack of visibility has worried diplomats who fear it suggests Tillerson may lack sway with Trump. (Politico)

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)

  • White House punts new travel order to next week. No explanation was given for the delay, and it remains unclear how the White House will tweak the travel ban to avoid future legal pitfalls. (The Hill)

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)

  • John Boehner: a full repeal and replace of Obamacare is “not going to happen.” He said changes to former President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement would likely be relatively modest. (Politico)

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)

  • Iraqi forces storm Mosul airport in a push to recapture the city from Islamic State. The advance into the airport will allow Iraqi troops to launch operations into the fortified western suburbs, where several thousand of Isis’s most seasoned fighters have prepared defences. (The Guardian)

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)

  • Arizona Senate votes to seize assets of those who plan, participate in protests that turn violent. The bill expands the state’s racketeering laws to include rioting and redefines it to include actions that result in damage to the property of others. (Arizona Capitol Times)
  • Trump campaigned as the populist protector of federal programs for the working class, yet he has surrounded himself with traditional small-government conservatives bent on cutting back or eliminating many of the programs he has championed. Many of his aides and cabinet members have expressed views that are fundamentally opposed to those he campaigned on. (New York Times)

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)

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)

  • Bannon: Trump administration is in unending battle for the “deconstruction of the administrative state” — meaning a system of taxes, regulations and trade pacts that the president and his advisers believe stymie economic growth and infringe upon one’s sovereignty. (Washington Post)

Day 36: Blasted. Banned in DC.

1/ The New York Times, CNN and Politico were prohibited from attending a White House briefing by Trump’s press secretary. Spicer allowed reporters from only a handpicked group of news organizations: Breitbart News, the One America News Network and The Washington Times, all with conservative leanings. Journalists from ABC, CBS, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and Fox News also attended. “Nothing like this has ever happened at the White House in our long history of covering multiple administrations of different parties,” Dean Baquet, the executive editor of The Times, said in a statement. “We strongly protest the exclusion of The New York Times and the other news organizations. Free media access to a transparent government is obviously of crucial national interest.” (New York Times)

  • White House blocks news organizations from press briefing. The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Politico and BuzzFeed were excluded from the meeting, which is known as a gaggle and is less formal than the televised Q-and-A session in the White House briefing room. The gaggle was held by White House press secretary Sean Spicer. Asked whether CNN and The New York Times were blocked because the administration was unhappy with their reporting, Spicer responded: “Because we had it as pool, and then we expanded it, and we added some folks to come cover it. It was my decision to expand the pool.” (CNN)
  • In December, Spicer said barring media access is what a “dictatorship” does. Today, he barred media access. (Washington Post)

2/ Trump administration sought to enlist intelligence officials and key lawmakers to counter news stories about ties to Russia. Acting at the behest of the White House, officials made calls to news organizations in an attempt to challenge stories about alleged contact between members of Trump’s campaign team and Russian intelligence operatives. The calls were orchestrated by the White House after unsuccessful attempts by the administration to get senior FBI officials to speak with news organizations and dispute the accuracy of stories on the alleged contacts with Russia. (Washington Post)

  • Reader’s guide to an opaque Washington Post story on the Russian thing. The Post appears to be signaling that to whom it granted anonymity is the real story. (Jay Rosen, Twitter Moment)
  • White House confirms conversation with FBI about Trump and Russia. Reince Priebus, FBI director James Comey, and deputy director Andrew McCabe had a conversation which appears to violate justice department rules. (The Guardian)

3/ Trump to CPAC: “Now you finally have a president, finally.” In a wide-ranging speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Trump blasted the media for its coverage of his administration and promised that the Republican Party would “be the party of the American worker.” Trump said that in a matter of days, he would have “brand new action” to keep the country safe, a reference to a second attempt at an executive order to restrict travel into the country from several majority-Muslim nations. At one point the crowd started chanting “lock her up” after Trump derided Hillary Clinton for describing some of Trump’s supporters as “deplorables.” (Washington Post)

  • Trump intensified his slashing attack on the news media at CPAC, reiterating his charge that “fake news” outlets are “the enemy of the people.” The opening portion of Trump’s free-range, campaign-style speech centered on a declaration of war on the press — a new foil to replace vanquished political opponents like Hillary Clinton. (New York Times)

4/ Republican lawmakers expect that their Obamacare replacement will result in fewer Americans covered by health insurance. The new plan would do away with the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that all Americans have health coverage or pay a fine, and replace it with rules that let people choose not to buy insurance, instead paying higher premiums or penalties if they need it later. The result would be fewer people covered. (Bloomberg)

UPDATE:

Leaked GOP Obamacare replacement would dismantle Obamacare subsidies and scrap its Medicaid expansion. The legislation would take down the foundation of Obamacare, including the unpopular individual mandate, subsidies based on people’s income, and all of the law’s taxes. It would significantly roll back Medicaid spending and give states money to create high-risk pools for some people with pre-existing conditions. Some elements would be effective right away; others not until 2020. (Politico)

GOP Rep. Mo Brooks says town hall protests may prevent Obamacare repeal. “I don’t know if we’re going to be able to repeal Obamacare now because these folks who support Obamacare are very active,” Brooks said. (CNN)

  • Pence: “America’s Obamacare nightmare is about to end.” In a 21-minute speech, Pence ticked through issues on which the administration has acted or plans to act soon, including cutting taxes, rolling back regulations, ending illegal immigration, expanding the military and restoring what he termed the “culture of life.” (Washington Post)

5/ DHS report disputes threat from banned nations. Analysts at the Homeland Security Department’s intelligence arm found insufficient evidence that citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries included in President Donald Trump’s travel ban pose a terror threat to the United States. (Associated Press)

6/ Trump turned to manufacturing executives to help him develop measures to bring jobs back to the United States, giving powerful business leaders a potentially influential hand in shaping his still-evolving economic policies. Trump has yet to outline specific proposals for overhauling the tax and regulatory systems, rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure or reshaping the work force, all of which would be essential to accomplishing his ambitious employment goals. (New York Times)

  • U.S. factory CEOs to Trump: Jobs exist; skills don’t. They urged the White House to support vocational training for the high-tech skills that today’s manufacturers increasingly require — a topic Trump has seldom addressed. (Washington Post)

7/ Justice Department will use private prisons again, reversing an Obama-era directive to stop using the facilities, which officials had then deemed less safe and less effective than those run by the government. (Washington Post)

8/ Trump administration signals a possible crackdown on states over legalized recreational-use marijuana. Sean Spicer told reporters that the administration had no plans to continue the permissive approach of the Obama administration and that it viewed recreational marijuana use as a flagrant violation of federal law. (Los Angeles Times)

  • Roger Stone: Marijuana crackdown would be “huge mistake”. Trump’s longtime ally tweeted the president that a crackdown on legal marijuana in the states will cost thousands of jobs and bankrupt local governments. #StatesRights, yo. (The Hill)

9/ Caitlyn Jenner to Trump: “Call Me” — your transgender restroom letter is a “disaster”. In a video the transgender icon harshly called out Trump for withdrawing the federal government’s legal guidance on allowing transgender youths to use the restrooms of their choice in schools. (NBC News)

10/ State Department writes anti-leak memo, which promptly leaks. It’s the latest sign that the relationship between the Trump administration’s appointees and the State Department’s professional workforce is still very much a work in progress. (Washington Post)

UPDATE:

Trump denounces FBI over leaks and demands an investigation. Trump assailed the FBI as a dangerously porous agency, charging that leaks of classified information from within its ranks were putting the country at risk. (New York Times)

  • Trump hits the FBI over “national security” leaks, saying the agency is “totally unable” to keep information from the news media. (Wall Street Journal)

11/ Mexican officials tell US: We don’t agree. John Kelly and Rex Tillerson were in Mexico to try to smooth the relationship and address some of the differences that have emerged between the United States and its neighbor. Mexico ain’t having it. (CNN)

12/ He yelled “get out of my country,” and then shot 2 men from India, killing one. A 51-year-old man faces first-degree murder charges after shooting three men in an Olathe, Kansas bar Wednesday night. He reportedly told two local Garmin engineers from India to “get out of my country.” Authorities would not classify the shooting as a hate crime, but federal law enforcement officials are investigating with local police to determine if it was “bias motivated.” (Washington Post)

13/ At the request of Kushner and Ivanka, language critical of a global climate deal was struck from an executive order that Trump plans to sign soon. The issue is aimed at rolling back Obama climate agenda. (Wall Street Journal)

14/ Under fire, GOP congressman calls for Trump tax returns, but stopped short of saying Congress should subpoena those returns. (CNN)

15/ Santa Cruz and federal agents in war of words over whether a gang sweep was really a secret immigration raid. The police chief accused Homeland Security officials of lying about the scope of the raids conducted jointly between his department and federal agents this month aimed at apprehending MS-13 gang members. (Los Angeles Times)

16/ Republican lawmakers introduce bills to curb protesting in at least 18 states in what civil liberties experts are calling “an attack on protest rights throughout the states.” None of the proposed legislation has yet been passed into law, and several bills have already been shelved in committee. Critics doubt whether many of the laws would pass Constitutional muster. (Washington Post)

poll/ Support for Obamacare hits an all-time high. 54% of Americans approve of the Affordable Care Act, while 43% disapprove. That’s up from an even split (48%-47%) in a Pew survey from December. (CNN)

Weekend Reads

  • Trump, Putin, and the new Cold War. What lay behind Russia’s interference in the 2016 election—and what lies ahead? (The New Yorker)
  • I was a Muslim in Trump’s White House. When Obama left, I stayed on at the National Security Council in order to serve my country. I lasted eight days. (The Atlantic)
  • The only groups that have majority approval of Trump? Republicans and whites without college degrees. Most Americans don’t think that President Trump is doing a good job. (Washington Post)
  • Here’s what non-fake news looks like. Genuine news, and not fake news or hyped news or corrupt news, puts reality first; it does not subordinate honest reporting to ideological consistency or political advocacy. It does not curry favor with advertisers, or with the publisher’s business interests, or even with the tastes of the audience. (Columbia Journalism Review)

Day 37: Doubt.

1/ A Department of Homeland Security report casts doubt on the need for Trump’s travel ban. The report concludes that citizenship is an “unreliable” threat indicator and that people from the banned countries have rarely been implicated in U.S.-based terrorism. (Washington Post)

  • Trump rejects the Homeland Security intelligence report that contradicts the White House’s assertion that immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries pose a particular risk of being terrorists and should be blocked from entering the U.S. (Wall Street Journal)

2/ A California Congressman calls for a special prosecutor to lead an investigation into the alleged ties between Trump and Putin. Rep. Darrell Issa said on HBO’s “Real Time” that Attorney General Jeff Sessions should not handle the problem because he was both on the Trump campaign and was appointed by Trump as the nation’s top law enforcement officer. (San Diego Tribune)

  • Top Republican says special prosecutor should investigate Russian meddling in Trump’s election. Issa became one of the few Republican representatives to state publicly the need for an independent investigation into Russia’s reported election meddling. This comes as Democrats have increasingly pushed for an investigation into President Trump’s associates’ ties to Russia. (Washington Post)

3/ Trump’s newly appointed national security adviser breaks with the administration on his views of Islam. McMaster told his staff that Muslims who commit terrorist acts are perverting their religion, rejecting a key ideological view of Trump’s senior advisers, and signaling a potentially more moderate approach to the Islamic world. (New York Times)

  • National security adviser: Term “radical Islamic terrorism” isn’t helpful for US goals.. McMaster said jihadist terrorists aren’t true to their religion and spoke in starkly different terms about Russia, saying the talk about Moscow being a friend of Washington is over. (CNN)

4/ Recently confirmed EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt used a private email for state business. The revelation is in direct conflict with the former Oklahoma Attorney General’s written and oral testimony before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Pruitt told lawmakers he had never used private email for state business in his confirmation process. (Fox 25 - KOKH)

  • Scott Pruitt vows to slash climate and water pollution regulations at CPAC. Head of the EPA told the conservative audience they would be “justified” in believing the environmental regulator should be completely disbanded. (The Guardian)

5/ Trump turns the power of the White House against the news media, escalating his attacks on journalists as “the enemy of the people” and berating members of his own F.B.I. as “leakers” who he said were putting the nation at risk. (New York Times)

  • Fox’s Shepard Smith: CNN is not “fake news.” The Fox News anchor defended CNN after several news organizations were barred from Sean Spicer’s question-and-answer session at the White House. (The Hill) “For the record, ‘fake news’ refers to stories that are created, often by entities pretending to be news organizations, solely to draw clicks and views and are based on nothing of substance,” Smith said during his program.
  • Jake Tapper: White House excluding the press is “un-American”. (CNN)
  • Trump’s blistering speech at CPAC follows Bannon’s blueprint. The chief strategist laid out a hard-edged new definition of conservatism animated by attacks on “the administrative state,” globalism and the “corporatist media.” (New York Times)
  • Trump has found himself subsumed and increasingly infuriated by the leaks and criticisms he has long prided himself on vanquishing. Now, goaded by Bannon, Trump has turned on the news media with escalating rhetoric, labeling major outlets as “the enemy of the American people.” It is a sharp break from previous presidents — and from his own comfortable three-decade tango with the tabloids. (New York Times)
  • Pro-Trump megadonor is part owner of Breitbart News empire, the far-right media outlet that heralded Trump’s rise and was once led by his top White House strategist. The news comes as Breitbart has enjoyed a higher profile within the White House press corps. (Washington Post)
  • Trump is skipping the White House Correspondents Association dinner. The annual, celebrity-studded WHCA dinner has long been criticized as a display of too-cozy relations between the media and people they are supposed to cover fairly and critically. (BuzzFeed News)

6/ Muhammad Ali’s son reportedly detained at airport and asked twice about his religion because of his “Arabic-sounding” name. When Ali Jr. could not produce a photograph to show himself with his father (!?), who died last year, immigration officials separated Ali Jr. from his mother, and then detained him for approximately two hours. (Washington Post)

7/ Trump orders agencies to reduce regulations. The latest executive actionis aimed at reducing red tape and directs each federal agency to set up a task force to identify costly regulations that could be scaled back. (NPR)

8/ Trump administration makes its first move to build the border wall. U.S. Customs and Border Protection issued a preliminary request for proposals “for the design and build of several prototype wall structures in the vicinity of the United States border with Mexico.” (Bloomberg)

poll/ Most Americans continue to oppose U.S. border wall and doubt Mexico would pay for it. 62% of Americans oppose building a wall along the entire U.S. border with Mexico. 70% think the U.S. will ultimately pay for the wall, compared with just 16% who think Mexico would pay for it. (Pew Research)

poll/ Majority of Americans believe that Congress should investigate whether Trump’s presidential campaign had contact with the Russian government in 2016. 53% of the American public wants Congress to look into the alleged communications, while 25% disagree and 21% say they don’t have an opinion. (NBC News)

Day 38: Crackdown.

1/ Sean Spicer targets own staff in leak crackdown. After becoming aware that information had leaked out of a planning meeting, Spicer reconvened his staff and told them to dump their phones on a table for a “phone check,” to prove they had nothing to hide. Spicer also warned the group of more problems if news of the phone checks and the meeting about leaks was leaked to the media. (Politico)

2/ White House: Too early to say whether a special prosecutor should look into apparent election meddling by Russia. The assessment comes as a growing number of Democrats are calling for Jeff Sessions, who was a key figure in Trump’s campaign, to step aside as the FBI and the Justice Department probe what happened. (Washington Post)

3/ Chris Christie tells GOP lawmakers to hold town halls: “You asked for the job. Go do it.” Christie said that the Trump administration needs to be more mindful of their “perception” and urged GOP lawmakers not to shy away from holding town hall events, though they might be confronted by protesters. (Washington Post)

  • Rubio on skipping town halls: Activists will “heckle and scream at me.” Rubio won’t participate in town hall meetings because he says political activists will crash them to create a media spectacle. (Politico)

4/ Trump’s upcoming budget won’t touch entitlement programs such as Social Security or Medicare. The administration thinks tax cuts and regulatory relief will lead to a sharp increase in economic growth of 3% or higher. (Bloomberg)

5/ The New York Times will run its first-ever advertising during the Academy Awards tonight with a spot that appears to target the Trump administration titled “The Truth Is Hard.” Trump has already lashed out at the new ad campaign on Twitter, hours before the spot runs. (The Hill)

6/ Trump will be the first president in 36 years to skip the White House Correspondents Dinner. The last president to not attend the dinner was Ronald Reagan in 1981. But he had a pretty good reason — he was recovering from being shot in an assassination attempt. (NPR)

7/ France’s Hollande fires back at Trump over comments that “Paris is no longer Paris” after attacks by Islamist militants. French President said Trump should show support for U.S. allies. (Reuters)

8/ Churches across the US are fighting back against Trump’s mandate to ramp up deportations with new sanctuary practices of their own: They’ve created a modern-day underground railroad to ferry undocumented immigrants from house to house or into Canada using private homes in their congregations as shelter. (BuzzFeed News)

poll/ Trump’s job approval rating stands at just 44% — a record low for a newly inaugurated commander-in-chief — and half of Americans say that his early challenges suggest unique and systemic problems with his administration. (NBC News)

Day 39: Spike.

1/ Trump to propose 10% spike in defense spending, massive cuts to other agencies. The federal budget proposal dramatically increases defense-related spending by $54 billion while cutting virtually all other federal agencies by the same amount. (Washington Post)

  • The White House sets its budget guidance: calls for $54 billion increase in defense spending. The proposal represents a 10% bump in defense spending and national security-related efforts. (Politico)
  • Trump’s proposed budget: major defense spending increases and big cuts to the E.P.A. Congress ultimately determines how the federal government’s money is spent. Mnuchin said Trump’s first budget won’t touch entitlement programs such as Social Security or Medicare. It will instead focus on ways to produce long-term economic growth by slashing taxes. (Bloomberg)
  • Trump’s promised economic stimulus won’t happen this year. If it happens at all, the soonest the economy will begin to feel the impact of a Trump stimulus is in federal fiscal year 2018, which begins October 1st. (Forbes)
  • Trump to demand a budget with tens of billions of dollars in reductions to the E.P.A. and State Department while social safety net programs, aside from Social Security and Medicare, will get hit hard. The move comes a day before delivering a high-stakes address to a joint session of Congress. (New York Times)

2/ Sean Spicer personally arranged CIA and GOP intelligence push-back in attempts to discredit a New York Times article about alleged contacts between members of Trump’s campaign team and Russian intelligence operatives.

On February 15th, Spicer called CIA Director Mike Pompeo and Senate Select Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr, and connected them with reporters from The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. Pompeo and Burr told the journalists that the New York Times story wasn’t true but provided no details.

The Washington Post reported on the push back Friday with the article, “Trump administration sought to enlist intelligence officials, key lawmakers to counter Russia stories.” (Axios)

3/ Bush breaks with Trump, calling the media “indispensable to democracy.” Recalling his own presidency, when he was often the target of withering media critique, Bush said he devoted significant time to extolling the virtues of a free and independent press around the world. Trump has called the press “the enemy of the American people.” (Politico)

4/ GOP’s new plan to repeal Obamacare: Dare fellow Republicans to block the effort. Republican leaders are betting that the only way for Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act is to set a bill in motion and gamble that wavering rank-and-file Republicans don’t have the guts to block it. Republican lawmakers have expressed concerns about forging ahead with a repeal plan that could leave millions with no coverage — especially after enduring raucous town hall events during last week’s recess. (Wall Street Journal)

UPDATE:

After meeting with Trump, governors say he’s crafting his own Obamacare plan. Congressional Republicans are looking to move forward with committee markups on legislation in the House within a few weeks. A separate plan from the White House could throw a curveball into the process and shift the debate. At the same time, congressional Republicans themselves are still grappling with a range of issues, with Medicaid expansion among the most prominent. (The Hill)

  • A divided White House still offers little guidance on replacing Obamacare. Lawmakers, state leaders, and policy experts say the administration is largely delegating the development of an ACA substitute to Capitol Hill. Trump appears more interested in brokering specific questions, such as how to negotiate drug prices, than in steering the plan’s drafting. (Washington Post)
  • Trump: “Nobody knew health care could be so complicated” he noted with some exasperation about the complexity of the nation’s health laws, which he’s vowed to reform as part of a bid to scrap Obamacare. (CNN)
  • Freedom Caucus chair would vote against draft Obamacare repeal bill. The North Carolina Republican finds refundable tax credits in the bill unacceptable and said plenty of other lawmakers in the Freedom Caucus share his concerns. (CNN)

5/ Trump navy secretary nominee withdraws citing concerns about privacy and separating his business interests. Philip Bilden announced his decision only days after White House said he was 100% committed to the role. (The Guardian)

6/ The U.S. hopes of hosting the World Cup in 2026 will be damaged if Trump’s travel restrictions come into full force. The United States is a clear favorite to be awarded the 2026 tournament, either on its own or as part of a joint North American bid with Mexico and Canada. Immigration policy is among the areas considered during the evaluation of a World Cup bid, and is was suggested that it would “not help” if Trump succeeded in placing harsher restrictions on travel. (New York Times)

7/ U.S. detains and nearly deports French Holocaust historian. Henry Rousso, one of France’s most preeminent scholars and public intellectuals, attempted to enter the U.S. to attend an academic symposium. He was detained for more than 10 hours — for no clear reason. (Washington Post)

8/ Trump’s Justice Department is ending the government’s opposition to a controversial voter ID law in Texas. For the last six years, the Justice Department has sided with the citizens and civil rights groups fighting Texas’ voter ID law, which a federal judge at one point found to be intentionally discriminatory against black and Latino voters. (Talking Points Memo)

9/ U.S. State Department tweets, then deletes congratulations to the Iranian people and Asghar Farhadi for his Oscar win. Farhadi directed “The Salesman,” which won an Oscar for best foreign-language film, criticized Trump’s travel ban as “inhumane.” (Reuters)

10/ Russia looks to exploit White House “turbulence” as it’s becoming increasingly convinced that Trump will not fundamentally change relations with Russia. The Kremlin is instead seeking to bolster its global influence by exploiting what it considers weakness in Washington. Russia has continued to test the United States on the military front, with fighter jets flying close to an American warship in the Black Sea this month and a Russian naval vessel steaming conspicuously in the Atlantic off the coast of Delaware. (New York Times)

11/ This is how Planned Parenthood is fighting to survive in the era of Trump. A leaked draft of a bill shows Congress is getting ready to defund the women’s health clinic and abortion provider. The organization’s president says that “no one really knows what will make a difference anymore, but that’s why we have to do everything we can.” (BuzzFeed News)

12/ Rep. Darrell Issa backtracked on his call for a special prosecutor to look into Russian involvement in the 2016 Presidential election. “I think it’s very important to realize there’s been no allegation by any part of this administration or by anyone who’s been to the hearings about any crimes,” Issa said. “So one of the challenges we have is a special prosecutor exists when you have an individual under suspicion. Currently we don’t have that.” Wat? (CBS News)

13/ Sen. Tom Udall floated a plan to confirm both Gorsuch and Garland to the Supreme Court together. The plan would put both Obama and Trump’s picks on SCOTUS at the same time. His proposal is for Trump to meet privately with Supreme Court justices who are interested in retirement. If one of those justices decided they would be willing to retire, and if Trump promises to nominate Garland, President Barack Obama’s unconfirmed former SCOTUS pick, in their place, then the retiring justice would submit a letter of resignation contingent on that promise. Then, both Garland and Gorsuch would be voted on simultaneously. (CNN)

14/ House Democrats forced the GOP to take recorded vote on Trump tax returns. The effort failed on a party line vote, 229-185, with two Republicans voting “present.” The move was the latest in a series of Democratic efforts to push Congress to request Trump’s tax returns, and Democrats demanded a roll call vote to force Republicans to go on the record. (The Hill)

Day 40: Split. Choice.

1/ Betsy DeVos press release celebrates Jim Crow education system as a pioneer of “school choice”, saying the legal segregation of historically black colleges and universities gave black students “more options.” Trump met with the leaders of a number of HBCUs yesterday. DeVos commemorated the meeting in a press release today. (Slate)

  • DeVos slammed for calling black colleges “pioneers” of school choice. DeVos’ statement painting African Americans’ efforts to create higher education options for themselves in a segregated society as a “choice” earned her criticism from Democratic members of Congress and others. (Talking Points Memo)

2/ House leaders are split on whether a Russian inquiry is needed. The top Republican and Democrat on the Intelligence Committee gave sharply conflicting views of their investigation into Russian efforts to influence the election, raising questions about whether they will be able to work together. Republican Devin Nunes said that there was no evidence anyone from the Trump campaign had communicated with the government in Moscow. Democrat Adam Schiff said that it was too early to rule out the ties, because the panel had not yet been provided with any evidence collected by intelligence and law enforcement agencies. (New York Times)

UPDATE:

FBI once planned to pay former British spy who authored controversial Trump dossier to continue his work. While Trump has derided the dossier as “fake news” compiled by his political opponents, the FBI’s arrangement with the spy shows that bureau investigators considered him credible and found his line of inquiry to be worthy of pursuit. (Washington Post)

  • GOP intelligence chairman David Nunes: “There’s no evidence of anything” regarding Russia-Trump campaign contacts. Nunes said the House Intelligence Committee won’t subpoena Trump’s tax returns and decries “McCarthyism” and “witch hunts” based on reports that Americans may have connections to the Russian regime. (Salon)
  • George W. Bush said ‘‘we all need answers’’ on the extent of contact between Trump’s team and the Russian government. He didn’t rule out the idea that a special prosecutor could be necessary to lead an investigation. (Boston Globe)

3/ Trump goes to Congress to make a sale. Trump is under pressure to show that his White House can be effective in delivering on the sweeping changes he has promised by working with allies on Capitol Hill. Trump’s aides are promising an “optimistic” speech designed to rally Americans toward a hopeful future. Trump will address Congress shortly after 9 p.m EST tonight. (CNN)

  • A guide for Trump’s first speech to Congress. Instead of reflecting on the state of the U.S., like a State of the Union address, the first joint session speech is typically used to outline a new president’s goals for his administration. Trump will do exactly that — and try to downplay the chaos that has plagued his first 40 days in office. (Politico)
  • Trump prepares to address a divided audience: The Republican Congress. On health care, tax reform and federal spending, GOP lawmakers hold differences of opinion within their own party that are obstructing passage of ambitious Republican policies, and so far Trump has shown little desire to openly referee those disputes. (Washington Post)

4/ Sessions vows to get tough on crime, saying a recent spike in violence in some cities is “driving this sense that we’re in danger.” He’s pledged to commit more federal energy to fighting crime even though crime rates remain far below their 1970s and 1980s levels. Trump is expected to emphasize that the rise in violence in some cities was not “a one-time blip” but rather “the beginning of a trend” during his address to a joint session of Congress tonight. (New York Times)

  • Sessions tells the Justice Department to ease up on police probes into alleged civil rights abuses by local police departments. The attorney general says it’s undermined police and led to an increase in violent crime in some cities. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Sessions pushes tougher line on marijuana even though a growing number of states are moving to legalize or decriminalize pot. “Most of you probably know I don’t think America is going to be a better place when more people of all ages and particularly young people start smoking pot,” Sessions said. (Politico)

5/ Trump envisions a compromise bill allowing many immigrants to stay in US where those who aren’t serious or violent criminals could stay in the US legally, hold a job and pay taxes, without having to worry about being deported. A path to citizenship for those in the country illegally would not be part of Trump’s vision for this deal, with the possible exception of “Dreamers” – those brought into the US illegally as children. (CNN)

6/ Trump gave himself an A grade for his presidency, but only a C for communicating. how. great. he. has. been. in a “Fox and Friends” interview today. He also blamed Obama for organizing opposition against him, called the House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi “incompetent,” and criticized his own press secretary for how he has handled leaks. He has called “Fox and Friends” one of his favorite shows. (New York Times)

  • Trump gave himself a “C or C+” grade for communicating with the public: Needs improvement. He offered high marks for his accomplishments, but he gave himself a “C” for messaging, conceding that he has not been able to properly explain what he’s done. (Washington Post)

7/ Trump says Obama is helping organize protests against his presidency. Trump has been dismissing the protests against his presidency and demonstrations at congressional town hall meetings across the country as concocted by his political enemies. “I think that President Obama is behind it because his people certainly are behind it,” Trump said. “In terms of him being behind things, that’s politics. It will probably continue.” (Washington Post)

8/ Trump begins E.P.A. rollback with executive order on clean water rules. The order, which will have almost no immediate legal effect and could take longer than a single presidential term to dismantle, directs E.P.A. chief Scott Pruitt to rewrite the 2015 rule known as the Waters of the United States. The rule gives the federal government broad authority to limit pollution in major bodies of water as well as in streams and wetlands that drain into them.

Trump is also expected to sign a similar order instructing Pruitt to begin the process of withdrawing and revising Obama’s 2015 climate-change regulation, aimed at curbing emissions of planet-warming greenhouse gases from coal-fired power plants. In his former job as attorney general of Oklahoma, Pruitt led or took part in 14 lawsuits intended to block the E.P.A.’s major regulations, including the clean water and climate rules that he is now charged with dismantling. (New York Times)

  • Trump to direct rollback of Obama-era water rule. Trump will instruct the E.P.A. and Army Corps of Engineers to “review and reconsider” a 2015 rule known as the Waters of the United States rule. The move that could ultimately make it easier for agricultural and development interests to drain wetlands and small streams. (Washington Post)

9/ Sen. Lindsey Graham: Trump budget is “dead on arrival.” Trump’s proposing $54 billion in cuts to fund an equivalent boost in defense spending, but lacks key details stoking bipartisan concern. (The Hill)

  • E.P.A. braces for a possibly “devastating” 25% budget cut. There is widespread concern within the E.P.A. that the changes will dramatically alter the function of an agency that was created under Republican President Richard Nixon in 1970, and will weaken the agency to the point where it can only do its most basic functions. (CNN)
  • Trump proposes cutting the State Department budget by 37%. The plan would cut aid given by U.S. Agency for International Development. (Wall Street Journal)
  • The Pentagon budget next year sounds huge at first, but… it comes with a significant cut in foreign aid, including programs that military officials say contribute to global stability and are seen as important in helping avoid future conflicts. (New York Times)
  • Trump says “revved up economy” will pay for budget proposals. The extra $54 billion dollars he has proposed spending on the U.S. military will be offset by a stronger economy as well as cuts in other areas, he said. (Reuters)

10/ Trump urges insurers to work together to “save Americans from Obamacare.” Trump met with major health insurers in the midst of political divisions over how to dismantle and replace Obama’s signature health-care law and intensifying public pressure to preserve the policy. He criticized the Affordable Care Act for creating minimal health coverage requirements that restricted the types of plans insurers could sell. (Washington Post)

  • Schumer predicts health-care law “will not be repealed.” Schumer pointed to widespread disagreement among Republicans about how to go about undoing key parts of the law, as well as intense pressure from constituents urging them not to rush ahead with their effort. (Washington Post)

11/ Trump’s silence on deadly Olathe shooting is disquieting. Nearly a week has passed since two India-born engineers were singled out and shot at an Olathe bar, presumably because they were immigrants, darker in skin tone and possibly viewed by the shooter as unwanted foreigners. (Kansas City Star)

UPDATE:

White House condemns Kansas attack, calling it “racially motivated.” The comments are the most direct the White House has made on the incident. (CNN)

12/ New NSC chief pushed Trump to moderate his language on terrorism, urging him to stop using the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism.” The phrase, however, will be in Trump’s speech to a joint session of Congress tonight — even though McMaster reviewed drafts and his staff pressed the president’s speechwriter not to use it. (Politico)

13/ Trump signed off on checking White House staffers’ phones to make certain they weren’t communicating with reporters by text message or through encrypted apps. The decision sent a signal across the administration that Trump is furious at leaks from inside the White House. (CNN)

14/ Trump appears to blame generals for SEAL’s death in Yemen raid. Trump highlighted that the controversial raid in Yemen that left one Navy SEAL dead had been a success, and in the works before he took office. He said “they lost” the SEAL — apparently in reference to the generals who planned the mission. (The Hill)

poll/ Trump is delivering on his campaign promises. 56% of registered voters say that Trump is staying true to his 2016 campaign message. 65% say Trump has accomplished what was expected of him — or more. Overall, half of voters approve of the job Trump is doing as president, while 45% disapprove. (Politico)

Day 41: Tumultuous.

1/ Sessions met with Russians twice last year, but didn’t disclose the encounters during his confirmation hearing when asked about possible contacts between members of Trump’s campaign and representatives of Moscow. Sessions oversees the Justice Department and the FBI, which have been leading investigations into Russian meddling and any links to Trump’s associates. He has so far resisted calls to recuse himself. (Washington Post)

  • Obama administration officials scrambled to ensure intelligence of connections between the Trump campaign and Russia was preserved. They had two aims: to ensure that such meddling isn’t duplicated in future American or European elections, and to leave a clear trail of intelligence for government investigators. (New York Times)
  • Graham and McCain want answers on Sessions-Russia report. If the FBI determines that Trump’s campaign illegally coordinated with Russia, Attorney General Jeff Sessions should recuse himself from making the decision whether to pursue prosecutions. Graham said a Trump appointee “cannot make this decision.” (CNN)
  • Pelosi calls for Sessions’s resignation, saying “Jeff Sessions lied under oath during his confirmation hearing before the Senate.” (The Hill)

2/ Trump defended his tumultuous presidency and asked Congress to put aside its “trivial fights” to help ordinary Americans in his first speech. Trump reiterated a host of familiar themes from his campaign and called for unity to address a litany of issues that he says are plaguing the country. “The time for small thinking is over,” Trump said. “The time for trivial fights is behind us. We just need the courage to share the dreams that fill our hearts. The bravery to express the hopes that stir our souls. And the confidence to turn those hopes and those dreams into action.” (New York Times)

UPDATE:

Sanders tells supporters after Trump’s speech to “continue the fight” and publicly push back against the administration. “Keep showing up. Keep calling Congress and continue the fight. The Republicans are now on the defensive and we’ve got to continue to push them back,” Sanders said. (The Hill)

  • Trump seeks to parlay post-speech boost into action on contentious agenda. Pence said the reception Trump received gave him “great confidence that the agenda that the president articulated last night is the right agenda for America, it’s resonating with the American people.” (Washington Post)
  • Trump’s softer tone masks hard road ahead with few details on how he’d turn them into reality. (Bloomberg)
  • Speech marks a shift in tone. Trump’s pitched his agenda to voters and Congress with language that was much more presidential and traditional in tone, even as he made no major policy changes. (Wall Street Journal)
  • The 5 main takeaways from Trump’s speech. (New York Times)
  • 6 things we learned from Trump’s address to Congress. (CNN)
  • Key moments from Trump’s speech: Condeming the recent vandalism of Jewish cemeteries; celebrating his own accomplishments; announcing a “historic tax reform”; repeating the line “radical Islamic terrorism”; outlining what he said would be a “better healthcare system”; and referring to illegal immigration as “American carnage.” (Politico)
  • Fact checking Trump’s first address to Congress. (New York Times)
  • The full text of Trump’s speech to Congress. (CNN)
  • The Democratic response to Trump’s address by Former Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, annotated by NPR journalists. (NPR)

3/ DeVos backpedals on remarks about historically black colleges due to a fierce backlash after she called historically black colleges and universities “real pioneers” of school choice. In a series of tweets, DeVos acknowledged that the schools were not created simply to give African-American students more choices, but because black students across the country were not allowed into segregated white schools. (New York Times)

4/ New Trump order drops Iraq from travel ban list. The decision follows pressure from the Pentagon and State Department, which had urged the White House to reconsider Iraq’s inclusion given its key role in fighting the Islamic State group. (Associated Press)

UPDATE:

Trump called on the Department of Homeland Security to “create an office to serve American victims” of crimes committed by immigrants. The Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE) would provide “a voice to those who have been ignored by our media, and silenced by special interests.” He made no explanation as to why the targets of crime perpetrated by immigrants should receive the support of a new federal government agency that apparently excludes the victims of crime committed by U.S. citizens. (CNBC)

  • Trump delays signing new travel ban order. The delay was due to a busy news cycle, and Trump wanted the new execeutive order to get it’s own “moment.” Signing the executive order today, as originally planned, would have undercut the favorable coverage of Trump’s speech. (CNN)
  • Trump seesaws on legal status for undocumented immigrants. (New York Times)

5/ Republican governors divided on Obamacare replacement. States that expanded Medicaid coverage fear they’‘ll be left holding the bag if the federal government doesn’t provide enough money to pay for the entitlement they expanded under the Affordable Care Act. (Washington Post)

UPDATE:

Fundamental disagreements remain between Republican leaders and the party’s most conservative members around the plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, particularly over the details of a proposed tax credit. (New York Times)

  • House Republicans announce only Republicans are allowed to see the new health care plan. Paul Ryan had previous boasted that they were “not hatching some bill in a backroom and plopping it on the American people’s front door.” Oh well… (New York Magazine)

6/ Police chiefs object to Trump’s efforts to involve them in immigrant deportations. A letter from more than 60 law enforcement heads asks to soften push to include police in round-ups, saying it makes their communities less safe. (The Guardian)

7/ Generals may launch new ISIS raids without Trump’s approval. The White House is considering delegating more authority to the Pentagon to greenlight anti-terrorist operations after Trump took heat for a raid in Yemen that killed a SEAL. (The Daily Beast)

8/ Pelosi to Democrats: Treat Trump voters like a friend whose boyfriend is a jerk Pelosi is confident a good portion of Trump’s voters will eventually turn on him – and Democrats just have to wait it out. (CNN)

9/ The State of Trump’s State Department. Anxiety and listless days as a foreign-policy bureaucracy confronts the possibility of radical change. (The Atlantic)

10/ “You People” are doing an amazing job, Trump told HBCU presidents during meeting. Trump repeated the complimentary refrain three times. A White House adviser called the characterization of the meeting false, and said it was “ridiculous spin.” (BuzzFeed News)

11/ White House: Conway acted “without nefarious motive” in Ivanka Trump plug. A letter from the White House to the Office of Government Ethics says a White House lawyer met with Conway to review federal rules prohibiting endorsements by government employees. The letter makes no mention of plans for disciplinary action. (CNN Money)

12/ Rubio asked to leave Tampa office over disruption from weekly protests. The owner of the building notified Rubio on February 1st that they will not be renewing the lease because the rallies have become too disruptive to the other tenants. (Tampa Bay Times)

13/ Sen. Lindsey Graham says he wants all presidential candidates to be required by law to release their tax returns, starting in 2020. The proposal would include Donald Trump if the president seeks reelection. (Politico)

14/ Senate approves Trump’s nominee, Ryan Zinke, for the Department of the Interior. The Republican congressman promised to review Obama-era actions limiting oil and gas drilling in Alaska and said he rejected President Donald Trump’s past comment that climate change is a “hoax.” (CNN)

poll/ Trump’s speech was a hit with viewers in two early polls. A CBS News/YouGov poll found 76% of viewers approved of the speech and 82% found it “presidential.” A CNN/ORC poll found 70% felt more optimistic. (Politico)

Day 42: Misleading. Recused.

1/ Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia inquiry and from any future investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. His conversations with the ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, came amid suspected Russian hacking directed at Clinton’s campaign. (New York Times)

  • Top Republicans call on Sessions to recuse himself from Russia investigation. Some Democrats have called on Sessions to resign and have demanded an independent investigation. The calls from two of the House’s most prominent Republicans follow revelations that Sessions met with the Russian ambassador during election season. Under oath in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee for his confirmation hearing in January, Sessions had said that he had not met with any Russian officials. (Washington Post)
  • Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer say Sessions perjured himself and demand that he resign. “For the good of the country, Attorney General Jeff Sessions should resign,” Schumer said. Pelosi took the same position: “Sessions is not fit to serve as the top law enforcement officer of our country and must resign. There must be an independent, bipartisan, outside commission to investigate the Trump political, personal and financial connections to the Russians.” (New York Times)
  • Sessions met with Russians twice last year, but didn’t disclose the encounters during his confirmation hearing when asked about possible contacts between members of Trump’s campaign and representatives of Moscow. (Washington Post)
  • Sessions: “I will recuse myself” if necessary. Sessions confirmed he met with the Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak before the presidential election in his capacity as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee — not as a representative of the Trump campaign – and denied discussing the Trump campaign when he met with him. Kislyak is considered a top spy and is the same person who met with former national security adviser Michael Flynn. (NBC News)
  • Trump taps Putin critic for senior White House position as Trump administration draws fire for contacts with Russian officials. (Foreign Policy)

2/ Republicans continue to stick with Trump despite news that Sessions had met with the Russian ambassador, contradicting testimony he had given under oath. Republicans are resisting calls for a special prosecutor or select congressional committee to review the matter. (Washington Post)

3/ The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee accused FBI Director James Comey of withholding information on Russia probe. “In order for us to do our investigation in a thorough and credible way, we’re going to need the FBI to fully cooperate… to fully tell us the length and breadth of any counterintelligence investigations they are conducting,” Rep. Adam Schiff told reporters after emerging from a classified meeting with Comey. “At this point the director was not willing to do that.” Schiff raised the prospect of subpoenaing the agency. (Politico)

4/ Kushner and Flynn met with Russian envoy in December to “establish a line of communication.” The extent and frequency of their contacts remains unclear, and the disclosure of the meeting at Trump Tower adds to the emerging picture of how the relationship between Trump’s incoming team and Moscow was evolving to include some of the president-elect’s most trusted advisers. (New York Times)

  • Former Trump adviser Carter Page also met with Russian envoy. Sergey Kislyak and Page spoke on the sidelines of the GOP convention last July. (Politico)

5/ Pence used personal email for state business — and was hacked. As governor of Indiana, Pence communicated via his personal AOL account with top advisers on topics ranging from security gates at the governor’s residence to the state’s response to terror attacks across the globe. (USA Today)

  • New EPA head told Congress he never used personal email for government business. But it turns out he did. Senators are demanding a review of the personal email account of Scott Pruitt after he said during confirmation hearings that he never used that account for official business as Oklahoma state attorney general. The result of an Open Records Act lawsuit shows Pruitt using his personal email address to conduct official state business, something he was not honest with the Senate about this during his confirmation process. (Washington Post)

6/ Paul Ryan’s feeling confident about repeal-and-replace. McConnell not so much. Ryan and his top lieutenants are increasingly optimistic they will have the votes to pass their version of legislation to repeal the health-care law and replace some elements of it. In the Senate, McConnell can lose just two GOP senators and then use Vice President Pence to cast the tiebreaking vote to get the legislation to President Trump’s desk. (Washington Post)

  • Rand Paul protests outside room where House Republicans are hammering out an Obamacare replacement. Paul couldn’t get a copy because the bill is still being drafted in private. Paul has described the passage of the ACA as an opaque and secret-laden process and that that Republican Party shouldn’t act the same way. (Washington Post)

7/ Trump’s team nixed ethics course for White House staff that would have provided training on leadership, ethics and management. The program could have better prepared officials for working within existing laws and executive orders, and provided guidance on how to navigate Senate confirmation for nominees and political appointees, how to deal with congressional and media scrutiny, and how to work with Congress and collaborate with agencies. Sounds boring. (Politico)

8/ The White House intentionally misled reporters ahead of Trump‘s congressional address in order to generate positive press coverage as part of a “misdirection play.” The White House indicated Trump would embrace a more moderate tone on immigration in his speech. He made no such remarks. CNN’s Sara Murray called it a “bait-and-switch.” (The Hill)

BACKGROUND:

Trump went on background with reporters as a “senior administration official” ahead of his address to Congress night. Trump has taken issue with the use of anonymous sources in stories about his administration, saying “They shouldn’t be allowed to use sources unless they use somebody’s name” on Friday. Four days later, he was one. (BuzzFeed News)

9/ The White House is fiercely divided over Trump’s campaign promise to “cancel” the Paris agreement. The 2015 accord binds nearly every country to curb global warming. Bannon is pushing for the U.S. to exit the deal, but Rex Tillerson and Ivanka Trump see a grave downside in pulling the rug out from under allies. (New York Times)

10/ Some of the EPA’s longstanding and best-known programs are facing potential elimination. Details of an Office of Management and Budget proposal would cut the EPA’s budget by 24% and reduce its staffing by 20%. (CNN)

11/ McMaster rolls back Flynn’s changes at NSC. McMaster did away with two deputy assistant spots. It’s unclear if Steve Bannon will stay on the principals committee of the NSC. (Politico)

12/ Ben Carson confirmed to lead HUD despite no prior government experience and a staunchly conservative view of public assistance. (Washington Post)

Day 43: Blame game.

1/ Moscow blames anti-Russian hysteria in the U.S. for Sessions’s plight, saying “fake news” and a “witch hunt” are intended to head off better relations. (Washington Post)

2/ Trump cries “total witch hunt” as questions about Russia pile up as to why so many people had so many meetings with Russians that they all forgot about. (NBC News)

3/ Trump’s blaming the Democrats for Cabinet delays that are normal — and his own fault. It is true that, at one time, Senate Democrats were dragging their heels on Trump’s Cabinet picks. Two of the main problems are that Trump’s pick for Secretary of Labor withdrew last month and his pick to run the Department of Agriculture hasn’t been sent to the Senate yet. (Washington Post)

4/ The White House looks to slash the budget of NOAA by 17%. The cuts to one of the government’s premier climate science agencies would reduce funding for research and satellite programs used for weather forecasts. The proposal would also eliminate funding for a variety of smaller programs, including external research, coastal management, estuary reserves and “coastal resilience,” which seeks to bolster the ability of coastal areas to withstand major storms and rising seas. (Washington Post)

5/ Photo contradicts Pelosi’s statement about not meeting Russian ambassador Kislyak. The Democratic House leader sat with the Russian ambassador in 2010. (Politico)

6/ Sessions used campaign funds for RNC trip, where he met Russian ambassador for “official” reasons. Records show the attorney general used campaign account for travel expenses to Cleveland, where he met the Russian envoy and spoke about Trump’s campaign at the event. (Wall Street Journal)

7/ Lawyers say Sessions could face legal ordeal over testimony if a special counsel takes over Trump-Russia probe even if he didn’t commit perjury. “It is, at best, very misleading testimony,” said Richard Painter, formerly the top ethics lawyer in President George W. Bush’s White House. “I don’t go so far as to say that it’s perjury, but there is a lesser charge of failing to provide accurate information to Congress.” (Politico)

8/ Trump’s advisers are urging him to purge the government of Obama appointees. Frustrated by the gush of leaks, the president’s allies say it’s time to take action and install people who are loyal to him, amid a cascade of damaging stories that have put his nascent administration in seemingly constant crisis-control mode. (Politico)

  • Trump’s latest attempt to stop the damaging leaks coming from the White House has been leaked to the press. The White House has limited access to its classified computer systems in an effort to reduce leaks to the media. (The Hill)

9/ NC man accused of committing anti-gay attack: “You live in Trump country now.” A man on a rented scooter harrassed two men riding bicycles together in Key West, striking the back tire of one of the cyclists knocking him to the ground. He accused them of voting for Clinton. He was then arrested on an extraditable warrant for aggravated battery with a deadly weapon with evidence of prejudice. (Fox 8)

10/ The GOP’s bold prediction: Obamacare repeal will pass this month. Trump is reportedly on board, which suggests the House is poised to steamroll conservative opposition by daring their constituents to vote against an Obamacare repeal. (Politico)

UPDATE:

New details in of the GOP Obamacare replacement leak. The latest plan still includes a new tax credits for individuals based on age, which hardline conservatives have derided as “Obamacare lite.” (Politico)

11/ A St. Louis man was arrested for making at least eight threats against Jewish community centers. The man allegedly made threatening calls to Jewish groups in his name or the name of his ex-lover. Federal prosecutors called it a “campaign to harass and intimidate.” (ABC News)

12/ Trump tried Twitter discipline this week. He decided it’s totally overrated. For precisely four days, eight hours and five minutes, Trump refrained from tweeting anything inflammatory. He finally succumbed Thursday night to the urge to vent his anger and reverted to form, tweeting Democrats “have lost their grip on reality,” he railed against a “witch hunt,” and insisted yet again that the “real story” is leaks. He was back on Friday morning, airing another grievance about another subject: accusing Democrats for not approving his full Cabinet. (Washington Post)

13/ Breitbart editor slams mainstream media in Pulitzer Hall, calling out mainstream media bias and inaccuracy while accepting no similar responsibility for the misleading and at times incendiary work. (Columbia Journalism Review)

14/ Rex Tillerson skips the State Department’s annual announcement on human rights, alarming advocates that the Trump administration places a low priority on advancing human rights. (Washington Post)

15/ Planned EPA cuts will hit black and Hispanic communities the hardest, which already suffer disproportionately from toxic pollution. (The Guardian)

Day 44: Accused.

1/ Trump, citing no evidence, accuses Obama of “Nixon/Watergate” plot to wiretap Trump Tower in the run-up to the election. Trump offered no citations, but he may have been referring to commentary on Breitbart and conservative talk radio suggesting that Obama and his administration used “police state” tactics last fall to monitor the Trump team. (Washington Post)

  • Trump accuses Obama of tapping his phones at the Trump Tower a month before the election. Without offering any evidence, Trump fired off a series of tweets claiming that Obama “had my ‘wires tapped’” and likened the supposed tapping to “Watergate/Nixon” and “McCarthyism.” (New York Times)
  • Obama denies Trump’s unsubstantiated accusation that he wiretapped phones in Trump Tower.”A cardinal rule of the Obama administration was that no White House official ever interfered with any independent investigation led by the Department of Justice,” Obama spokesman Kevin Lewis said in a statement Saturday. “As part of that practice, neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen. Any suggestion otherwise is simply false.” (ABC News)
  • Untangling Trump and Russia: What we know – and what we don’t. The last 48 hours have been dominated by a steady stream of new information about previously undisclosed conversations between Trump aides and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, one of Moscow’s foremost operators in the US. (CNN)

2/ Trump went “ballistic” on his senior staff over the latest news reports connecting Russia with the new administration and Jeff Sessions abrupt decision to recuse himself. Trump felt Sessions’ recusal was unnecessary. (ABC News)

3/ The U.S. can’t effectively counter a nuclear threat from North Korea. Trump inherited a secret cyberwar against North Korean missiles designed to “manufacturing errors.” The threats pose such a danger that Obama warned Trump that a nuclear threat would likely be his most urgent problem. (New York Times)

4/ Sessions will submit amended testimony and address Senators’ questions over his contacts with Russia’s ambassador last year. The offer came after all nine Democratic senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee in a letter asked the committee chairman to bring Sessions back for a follow-up hearing to explain his past testimony and recent decision to recuse himself from any investigation involving the Trump campaign. (NBC News)

5/ A growing list of contacts between Trump associates and Russia is drawing increased scrutiny. Part of the problem underlying the disputed contact is Trump’s pugnacious style that leaves little room for nuance. At a news conference last month, he said that he had “nothing to do with Russia,” and that “to the best of my knowledge, no person that I deal with does.” But in fact, reporting by multiple news organizations turned up multiple contacts between Trump associates and Russians who serve in or are close to Putin. (New York Times)

6/ The Trump administration will temporarily suspend expedited applications for H-1B visas. The H-1B non-immigrant visa allows U.S. companies to employ graduate-level workers in several specialized fields, including information technology, medicine, engineering and mathematics. (Reuters)

7/ Keystone XL oil pipeline won’t use US steel despite Trump’s pledge. The executive order Trump signed to greenlight the project only applies to new pipelines or those under repair. Last week Trump said the Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines must use American steel “or we’re not building one.” (Fox News)

8/ Trump to roll back stringent federal regulations on vehicle pollution that contributes to global warming. The move marks a U-turn in the efforts to force the American auto industry to produce more electric cars. (New York Times)

Day 45: Troubling.

1/ Trump wants congressional probe of claims that Obama had him wiretapped during last year’s election, but won’t comment further. Trump is “requesting that as part of their investigation into Russian activity, the congressional intelligence committees exercise their oversight authority to determine whether executive branch investigative powers were abused in 2016,” Spicer said. (USA Today)

2/ Trump called “reports” about the wiretapping “very troubling” and said Congress should examine them as part of its inquiry into Russia’s meddling in the election. (New York Times)

3/ Senator: Intel panel to look at alleged wiretap. Trump’s unsubstantiated allegations that his predecessor ordered wiretaps of Trump Tower will become part of the committee’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. (ABC News)

4/ Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper denied any suggestion that Trump Tower communications were wiretapped before the election. Asked again whether there was a FISA Court order to monitor Trump Tower, Clapper said, “Not to my knowledge.” (NBC News)

5/ Schumer: “The president is in trouble.” The Senate minority leader said that Trump’s Saturday morning allegations about Obama will be damaging to his presidency whether they are true or not and that “the president makes it worse with these tweets.” (Politico)

6/ The Trump administration may be skirting its own ethics rules by hiring of three former lobbyists to work in the White House. The administration appears to be either ignoring or exempting top staffers from its own watered-down ethics rules. (ProPublica)

7/ Trump angry and frustrated at staff over Sessions fallout for stealing his thunder in the wake of his address to Congress. “Nobody has seen him that upset,” one source said, adding the feeling was the communications team allowed the Sessions news, which the administration deemed a nonstory, to overtake the narrative. (CNN)

8/ Trump plans to sign updated travel ban early next week. Trump was scheduled to sign the order last week but pushed it back after his joint address to Congress received overwhelmingly positive reviews. “We want the (executive order) to have its own ‘moment,’ “ a senior administration official said. (CNN)

9/ Russia is the slow burn of the Trump administration, and it’s not going away. Not much is known about the controversy, but that there were contacts is not in dispute. The Session controversy shows the administration doesn’t know what it doesn’t know, leaving itself vulnerable to calls for more investigations. (Washington Post)

10/ Trump skips the Gridiron Dinner as his staffers get roasted. Trump declined his invitation as tensions between him and the press are as high as ever. Gridiron Club is an exclusive group of Washington’s top political reporters. (NPR)

Day 46: Revised.

1/ Trump signed a more limited executive order on immigration. The revised travel ban blocks entry to the US for citizens from six of the seven countries named in Trump’s original order. People from Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Syria and Libya will face a 90-day suspension of visa processing. Iraq was removed from the list of countries affected. The order will keep in place a 120-day suspension of the refugee program, but it will no longer identify Syrian refugees as subject to an indefinite ban. The revisions are meant to help it withstand a court challenge. (The Guardian)

  • New executive order bans travelers from six Muslim-majority countries applying for visas. Trump is preparing to sign a new executive order that imposes a 90-day ban on entry for new visa seekers from six majority-Muslim nations. The nation’s refugee program will also be suspended for 120 days, and it will not accept more than 50,000 refugees in a year, down from the 110,000 cap set by Obama. (Washington Post)

2/ FBI Director Comey asked Justice officials to refute Trump’s unproven wiretapping claim. The former director of national intelligence under Obama flatly denied that any wiretap of Trump or his campaign was carried out. (Washington Post)

3/ White House spokeswoman: Trump doesn’t believe Comey that Obama didn’t wiretap. Asked by George Stephanopoulos if Trump was willing to accept the denial of his FBI director, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said he was not. (Politico)

  • Trump rejects Comey assertion that wiretapping claim is false. On “Good Morning America,” a spokeswoman, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said President Trump continues to believe he was wiretapped by President Barack Obama. (New York Times)

4/ Chaffetz: I’ve seen no evidence Obama ordered wiretap of Trump. If Trump’s allegation is true, Chaffetz said, “the paper trail should be there” from whatever court authorized the wiretap. (Politico)

5/ Conway blames Trump’s wiretap dust-up on “double standard.” Criticism directed at the president is unfair, Conway said, especially from the media that she complained has regularly cited anonymous sources in reports that have proven damaging to the Trump administration. Those same media outlets have too quickly dismissed Trump’s wiretapping allegation, Conway said. (Politico)

6/ Russian hackers are targeting U.S. liberals in a new wave of attacks, scouring the organizations’ emails for embarrassing details and attempting to extract hush money. (Bloomberg)

7/ The Supreme Court won’t hear the Case on transgender rights after the Trump administration changed the federal government’s position on whether public schools had to allow transgender youths to use bathrooms that matched their gender identities. (New York Times)

8/ The Supreme Court ruled that confidential deliberations must be disclosed if there’s evidence of racial bias by jurors. “The nation must continue to make strides to overcome race-based discrimination,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the majority. (New York Times)

9/ Russia’s take on Trump: Glee gives way to frustration. Russian officials bemoan “witch hunt” and “hysteria” in Washington. (CNN)

poll/ Most back special prosecutor for Russia investigation. 65% of Americans would rather see a special prosecutor handle the investigation, while 32% think Congress is capable of handling it. (CNN)

Day 47: Unveiled.

1/ House Republicans unveiled their plan to replace Obamacare. The plan scraps the mandate for most Americans to have health insurance in favor of a new system of tax credits to induce people to buy insurance on the open market. The bill would roll back the expansion of Medicaid that has provided coverage to more than 10 million people in 31 states, reducing federal payments for many new beneficiaries. The requirement for larger employers to offer coverage to their full-time employees would also be eliminated. (New York Times)

  • The American Health Care Act: the Republicans’ bill to replace Obamacare, explained. Two big questions — how many people it will cover and how much it will cost — are still unresolved: It will likely cover fewer people than the Affordable Care Act currently does. And the Congressional Budget Office has not yet scored the legislation, so its price tag is unknown. (Vox)

2/ Chaffetz: Low-income Americans will have to choose health care over iPhones. “Americans have choices, and they’ve got to make a choice. So rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love and want to go spend hundreds of dollars on that, maybe they should invest in their own health care. They’ve got to make those decisions themselves,” Chaffetz said. (CNN)

3/ With income-based tax credits, the GOP is considering an approach to health care it has long been against. The GOP had intended to veer away from the ACA subsidies that help poor and middle-class people obtain insurance, insisting that the size of the tax credits should be based entirely on people’s ages and not their incomes. The latest draft proposed refundable tax credits that would hinge on earnings as well as age — providing bigger credits for older and poorer Americans. (Washington Post)

4/ The GOP Obamacare replacement will defund Planned Parenthood and restrict abortion coverage. The plan would keep poor women on Medicaid from getting health care at Planned Parenthood, and cut off affordable abortion coverage for many privately insured women. (Vox)

5/ WikiLeaks released the “entire hacking capacity of the CIA.” The documents describe the agency’s tools used to hack into smartphones and TVs, as well as to bypass encryption on programs like Signal and WhatsApp. The initial release, which WikiLeaks said was only the first part of the document collection, included 7,818 web pages with 943 attachments. (New York Times)

  • Vault 7: CIA Hacking Tools Revealed. (WikiLeaks)
  • WikiLeaks says it has obtained trove of CIA hacking tools. WikiLeaks indicated that it planned to post nearly 9,000 files describing code developed in secret by the CIA to steal data from targets overseas and turn ordinary devices including cellphones, computers and even television sets into surveillance tools. (Washington Post)

6/ The UN says Trump’s revised travel ban will worsen plight of refugees. Some of the Muslim-majority countries affected by the ban expressed their disappointment, insisting they had fully cooperated with US anti-terrorist efforts, saying refugees are not criminals. (The Guardian)

7/ China warns of an arms race after the U.S. deployed a missile defense system in South Korea. Beijing denounced the United States’ decision to use the Thaad technology and vowed to “take the necessary steps to safeguard our own security interests.” The U.S. deployed the defense system after North Korea launched four simultaneous missiles into the waters off the Japanese coast, which Pyongyang said was a drill for striking American bases in Japan. (New York Times)

8/ Carson: “There were other immigrants who came in the bottom of slave ships, who worked even longer, even harder, for less.” Ben Carson appeared to liken slaves to immigrants who choose to come to the United States while addressing employees at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. (CNN)

Day 48: Unraveling.

1/ Trump met with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the campaign. The encounter with the Russian Ambassador resurfaced last week after revelations that at least five members of Trump’s campaign team - including Jeff Sessions - had contact with Kislyak before Trump took office. The meeting is at odds with a spokeswoman’s claim that Trump had “zero” involvement with Russian officials during the campaign. (Bloomberg)

  • White House calls reported Trump meeting with Russian ambassador “absurd.” As a candidate Trump met with the Russian ambassador to the United States at a campaign event, just before Trump delivered a speech that called for “an easing of tensions” with Russia. (ABC News)

2/ The rapport between Trump and Obama is unraveling. Trump is convinced that Obama is undermining his nascent administration, while Obama is furious over Trump’s tweets accusing him of illegal wiretapping and questioning both the integrity of the office of the president and Obama himself. (Wall Street Journal)

3/ Aides address Trump’s wiretapping claims: “That’s above my pay grade.” Trump’s team has been uncharacteristically muted when pressed about his explosive and unproven accusations that Obama wiretapped his phones in Trump Tower. (New York Times)

UPDATE:

Obama’s reaction to wiretap claims stopped short of outright fury. Uncorroborated wiretapping accusations irked and exasperated Obama and his aides, who have responded with disbelief. (CNN)

4/ To fund the border wall, Trump weighs cuts to Coast Guard and airport security. The plan puts the administration in the unusual position of trading spending on security programs for other security priorities at the southern border, raising questions among Republican lawmakers and homeland-security experts. (Washington Post)

5/ FBI’s Comey says “you’re stuck with me” for another six years and intends to finish his full 10-year term as director. Comey signaled he has no plans to resign despite once again being at the center of a political storm – this time over probes into Russian hacking of the 2016 election and his request that Justice Department officials reject Trump’s claims that his predecessor “tapped” his phones. (Bloomberg)

6/ The GOP health care plan is in critical condition. The plan is going to have to fight a three-front war to survive: 1) conservatives are calling this “Obamacare-Lite” or “Obamacare 2.0”; 2) moderates want to keep Medicaid expansion and Planned Parenthood funding; 3) and powerful/influential industry groups, like AARP and the American Hospital Association have voiced their opposition. (NBC News)

  • Ryan downplays conservative backlash against health-care plan. The most imminent and serious threat to the plan was the criticism from conservative lawmakers and powerful outside groups that argue that the draft is nothing more than “Obamacare Lite,” a disparaging reference to the former president’s signature 2010 domestic achievement. (Washington Post)
  • The American Medical Association opposes the Republican health plan. The doctors’ group is concerned that too many people would lose health coverage under the House bill. (New York Times)
  • Conservatives pick up “mixed messages” from the White House on health care plan, suggesting the White House isn’t completely sold on the bill advancing through committees. (Huffington Post)
  • GOP slams budget scorekeeper as Obamacare repeal bill moves forward. Republicans, anticipating that their plan will leave fewer Americans insured than Obamacare and potentially cost the federal government more, launched a preemptory strike against forthcoming predictions from Congress’s independent scorekeeper, the Congressional Budget Office. (Politico)

7/ Democrats are trying to delay House GOP health care bill*. Democrats are complaining that the hearings are taking place before the Congressional Budget Office has a chance to “score” the House legislation, a process that will provide answers on how much it will cost and how many people it will cover. Republicans are holding the line to block Democratic efforts to delay the bill to repeal Obamacare. (CNN)

8/ A federal criminal probe is being opened into WikiLeaks’ publication of CIA documents. The FBI and CIA are coordinating an investigation into how the documents came into WikiLeaks’ possession and whether they might have been leaked by an employee or contractor. The CIA is also trying to determine if there are other unpublished documents WikiLeaks may have. (CNN)

9/ Comey to testify in the House Intelligence Committee probe on Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential campaign. The hearing will likely be the first in-depth public inquiry into allegations of connections between Trump’s presidential campaign and the Russian government, as well as Russia’s efforts to influence the U.S. election. (Bloomberg)

10/ North Korea may be Trump’s greatest foreign policy challenge. The administration must come up with a plan to curb North Korea’s missile and nuclear development program — and it must do so quickly following a round of provocative missile tests. (ABC News)

poll/ 56% of registered voters support appointing a special prosecutor to investigate alleged ties between Trump’s campaign staff and the Russian government. (Politico)

Day 49: Flurry.

1/ The House Ways and Means Committee gave an approval to a major part of the Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, rejecting a flurry of Democratic amendments. Republicans are a step closer to a full vote on the measure despite the growing opposition of senators, health care providers, and some conservatives. The White House is increasingly confident about the prospects for a health care overhaul to pass in the House. Trump anticipates the most trouble in the Senate, where moderate and conservative lawmakers are opposing the plan for different reasons. He said he was prepared to pressure holdout senators by holding the kind of stadium-style rallies he led during his presidential campaign. (New York Times)

2/ Trump goes into dealmaking mode, working behind the scenes on health bill and quietly courting wary conservatives in private meetings and keeping himself somewhat out of the picture as party leaders and his Cabinet officials defend the proposal to revise the Affordable Care Act. “If we need to bring in the big gun, we’ll bring in the big gun” – meaning Trump. (Washington Post)

3/ Trump to conservative leaders: If this health care plan fails, I’ll blame Democrats. During an hour-long meeting with conservative groups against the House Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, Trump chastised the groups for calling the House GOP proposal “Obamacare lite,” warning the tea party activists, “you are helping the other side.” (CNN)

4/ Spicer attacks “double standard” in response to WikiLeaks dump. Spicer cast aside the playbook of cut-and-dry condemnations of national security leaks and instead framed his response along political lines, arguing forcefully that there was a “double standard” when it comes to the level of outrage elicited by different leaks. (CNN)

5/ The White House says Trump isn’t the target of any investigation despite Trump’s unsubstantiated claim that Obama ordered the wiretapping of Trump Tower. Either the president’s assertions that Obama wiretapped him are baseless, or he may have implicated himself in a government investigation of contacts between his presidential campaign and Russia. (New York Times)

6/ EPA chief Scott Pruitt says carbon dioxide is not a primary contributor to global warming. Pruitt’s view is at odds with the opinion of NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (CNBC)

7/ Trump administration considers $6 billion cut to HUD budget. The move would drop Housing and Urban Development funding by about 14% as part of the plan to cut domestic spending and increase the defense budget. (Washington Post)

8/ Hawaii becomes the first state to sue Trump over new travel ban, saying in a lawsuit that it will disrupt families, harm Hawaii’s Muslim population, tourism and foreign students and is “antithetical to Hawaii’s state identity and spirit.” (USA Today)

9/ Trump begins to map out his $1 trillion infrastructure plan that would pressure states to streamline local permitting, favor renovation of existing roads and highways over new construction, and prioritize projects that can quickly begin construction. Trump expressed interest in high-speed rail and spectrum auction. (Wall Street Journal)

10/ Jeff Sessions likely met with the Russian Ambassador a third time. The attorney general initially denied any contact with the Russians, then later admitted to just two meetings. (Huffington Post)

11/ The White House is scrutinizing job candidates’ old social media posts for criticism of Trump. Officials are having trouble filling vacancies in their departments because of questions about the loyalty of the people they want to select. (Vox)

12/ Homeland chief: Illegal border crossings dip 40%, as measured by arrests and people halted from entering the country at the border. (USA Today)

Day 50: Blow it up.

1/ Conservatives want to blow up Senate rules to kill Obamacare. A growing number of conservative lawmakers urged GOP leaders to push the limits of how much of the health law they can reshape under a powerful procedural maneuver known as budget reconciliation — and to overrule the Senate parliamentarian if she doesn’t decide in their favor. (Politico)

  • Trump supporters have the most to lose with the repeal of Obamacare. The Republicans’ plan offers less help to older and lower-income Americans, especially in rural areas. The voters hit the hardest — eligible for at least $5,000 less in tax credits under the Republican plan — supported Trump by a margin of 59% to 36%. (New York Times)

2/ House GOP leaders defend health-care overhaul as they prepare to meet Trump. The leaders dismissed the suggestion from conservative members that the proposed phaseout of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion should be moved up by two years, from 2020 to 2018. (Washington Post)

3/ Jeff Sessions calls Guantanamo Bay a “very fine place” to send captured terrorists and recommended Trump do so in an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt. The attorney general added he was opposed to shuttering the controversial Cuban prison. (New York Daily News)

4/ Trump promised $1 trillion for infrastructure, but the real estimate is almost $4.6 trillion over the next eight years to bring the country’s crumbling infrastructure up to an acceptable standard. A report by civil engineers gives the nation’s infrastructure a D-plus grade and sees little progress in the past four years. (Washington Post)

5/ The Office of Government Ethics says the Trump administration has an “incorrect” view of ethics laws. The OGE urged punishment after Kellyanne Conway endorsed Ivanka Trump’s fashion line. The White House says the agency’s rules don’t apply to its workers. (NPR)

  • Ivanka Trump’s brand saw an online surge in February. Sales of Ivanka Trump merchandise dropped 26 percent online in January compared to January 2016, but the trend reversed in February. According to Slice Intelligence, online sales of Ivanka Trump merchandise swelled 207 percent in February from the prior month. (CNBC)

6/ States ask court to stop Trump’s new travel ban from ever taking effect. At least five states are banding together in a legal drive to block key elements of Trump’s second travel ban. Washington state is asking a federal judge in Seattle to rule that an existing injunction against Trump’s earlier travel ban apply to parallel portions of his new directive. (Politico)

7/ John Huntsman reported to be named next U.S. ambassador to Russia. The former Republican governor served as ambassador to China under Obama. His appointment comes at a time when the complex relationship between the two countries has been particullary strained in light of recent developments surrounding the Trump administration. (New York Times)

8/ Is Trump being investigated? “No comment,” the Justice Department says. By venting his ire against Obama in a series of tweets last week, Trump awkwardly raised the possibility himself, since any wiretapping could have been the direct result of an investigation targeting him. (New York Times)

  • Pelosi: Comey should publicly reject Trump wiretapping claims. “Maybe in a short period of time much more will be in the public domain,” she said. (Politico)
  • Schiff: I haven’t seen any evidence Obama admin wiretapped Trump. After meeting with FBI Director James Comey, the California representative said he has not “seen any evidence” to back Trump’s claims that he was wiretapped by the Obama administration during the campaign. (CNN)

9/ FBI investigation continues into “odd” computer link between Russian bank and Trump Organization. Questions about the possible connection were widely dismissed four months ago. But the FBI’s investigation remains open and is in the hands of the FBI’s counterintelligence team – the same one looking into Russia’s suspected interference in the 2016 election. (CNN)

10/ Russian ambassador denied meeting with Trump or any campaign officials in October speech. But Jeff Sessions met with Kislyak last September in Sessions’s DC office when he was still a US Senator and top Trump adviser. Sessions also interacted with Kislyak in Cleveland at a Heritage Foundation event held during the RNC in July. (CNN)

11/ ACLU files ethics complaint against Sessions over communications with Russian ambassador based on his testimony to a Senate committee that he had no communications with the Russian government. (Washington Post)

12/ A bill moving through Congress could give employers access to workers’ genetic test results. The bill, HR 1313, was approved by a House committee on Wednesday, with all 22 Republicans supporting it and all 17 Democrats opposed. Employers may provide insurance premium discounts to workers who take part in their companies’ voluntary wellness programs. Once enrolled, businesses are allowed to collect “information about the manifested disease or disorder of a family member” of participating employees. (STAT)

13/ The U.S. added 235,000 jobs in February and the unemployment rate dropped to 4.7%. Employers added jobs at an above-average pace for a second month. Trump has set a goal of adding 25 million jobs over 10 years, which would require job additions of 208,000 a month, or 2.5 million positions a year. (Bloomberg)

14/ U.S. is sending about 400 Marines to Syria to help local fighters wrest control of Raqqa, which ISIS considers its capital. (NPR)

Day 51: Abrupt.

1/ Trump abruptly orders remaining 46 U.S. attorneys to tender their resignations immediately, sweeping away the remaining vestiges of the Obama administration’s prosecutors at the Justice Department. It is not unusual for a new president to replace United States attorneys appointed by a predecessor, especially when there has been a change in which party controls the White House. Other presidents, however, have done it gradually in order to minimize disruption. (New York Times)

  • Anger mounts over handling of US attorney firings. Many prosecutors had not been formally notified or even told before they were fired when the Justice Department announced the firings on Friday. (CNN)
  • Preet Bharara has yet to submit his resignation letter as Trump demands U.S. attorneys resign. Bharara met with Trump shortly after the election and was told that he would stay. Just this week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions assured him in a phone conversation that he’d remain atop the Southern District. (The Daily Beast)

2/ Revised Trump travel ban suffers first legal setback after a federal judge in Wisconsin barred enforcement of the policy to deny U.S. entry to the wife and child of a Syrian refugee already granted asylum in the United States. The temporary restraining order applies only to the family of the Syrian refugee. (Reuters)

3/ Scott Pruitt’s phones have been ringing off the hook since he questioned the link between human activity and climate change. Pruitt’s comments on the CNBC program “Squawk Box” — that “we need to continue the debate and continue the review and the analysis” over climate change — prompted an immediate pushback from many scientists and environment groups. (Washington Post)

4/ Flynn attended secret intelligence briefings while taking money to lobby for Turkey. Flynn was being paid more than half a million dollars to lobby on behalf of the Turkish government. (NBC News)

5/ White House official says Breitbart was source of Trump’s wiretaps claim. A staffer placed the story, published on Breitbart, into Trump’s daily reading pile. The Breitbart article was a reprinted version of radio host Mark Levin’s on-air claim that Obama wiretapped Trump Tower. (Axios)

6/ Muhammad Ali Jr. questioned again at Washington airport. Ali Jr. was trying to get his boarding pass at Reagan National airport in Washington, D.C. when the computer “flagged” him. The ticket agent rejected his Illinois state-issued ID and put Ali Jr. on the phone with the Department of Homeland Security. Ali Jr. was asked over the phone to verify his date of birth and where he was born. He was not asked about his religion. (USA Today)

7/ Trump’s plan for Medicaid could hurt the opioid abusers he promised to help. The current version of the Trump-backed Republican health care plan would end the Obamacare requirement that addiction services and mental health treatment be covered under Medicaid in the 31 states that expanded the health care program. The GOP plan would instead leave it up to states – and their budgets – to decide whether or not to cover drug treatment and mental health services under Medicaid. (CNN)

Day 52: Worse off.

1/ “Nobody will be worse off financially” under the GOP health care plan, according to Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price. He says no one will be adversely affected by the new bill once it’s enacted and that more people would be covered. I bet. (NBC News)

  • The White House pledges no one “worse off” in Obamacare replacement with sweeping promises that insurance premiums will fall and more people will have coverage under the replacement plan may be hard to keep as conservatives demand limits to government involvement in health care before they support the measure. (Bloomberg)
  • Trump budget chief: The President is focused on health care, not insurance coverage. Mick Mulvaney said critics of the new GOP health care bill should not be too “worried about getting people coverage.” Preliminary analyses from Brookings Institution and Standard and Poor’s estimate that six to 15 million people could lose coverage under the Republican proposal for repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act known as Obamacare. (ABC News)

2/ Here’s how much millionaires would save under GOP Obamacare repeal bill. People earning more than $1 million annually would save an estimated $165 billion in taxes over 10 years. (CNN Money)

3/ Major health insurer backs GOP’s Obamacare repeal bill. Anthem endorsed major parts of the repeal bill, known as the American Health Care Act, and urged lawmakers to move the process forward “as quickly as possible.” (Politico)

4/ McCain to Trump: Retract wiretapping claim or prove it. The senator’s call for more information follows a request from two leading members of the Senate Judiciary Committee for “copies of any warrant applications and court orders — redacted as necessary… related to wiretaps of President Trump, the Trump Campaign, or Trump Tower.” (Washington Post)

5/ US attorney Bharara was fired after a standoff with Trump. Bharara was asked for his resignation along with every other US attorney. His sudden dismissal came as a surprise since the US attorney had been told after a meeting with Trump in November that he could stay on. “I did not resign. Moments ago I was fired,” Bharara wrote in a tweet. (CNN)

  • New York federal prosecutor Preet Bharara says he was fired by Trump administration. Bharara had been asked to resign Friday, but confusion ensued because Trump in November had asked him to stay on. (Washington Post)
  • Bharara was one of 46 U.S. attorneys appointed by Obama that the Trump administration asked to resign. All presidents choose their own appointees for U.S. attorney positions and almost always ask those from their predecessors to leave. But the process under Trump was unusually abrupt, and it was yet another rocky encounter between the Trump administration and the nation’s law enforcement apparatus. (New York Times)

6/ Elizabeth Warren says Trump pushed out prosecutors to install “cronies.” The senator attacked Trump over the firing of Preet Bharara, saying the Senate will see a “massive fight” over picks to replace US attorneys. (The Guardian)

7/ Democrats may abandon the Russia inquiry if it is not “legitimate.” The Republican-controlled panel may offer their best chance for scrutinizing links between people close to President Trump and Russian officials, but some House Intelligence Committee Democrats are warning that they may pull their support for the inquiry if it becomes mired in party-line politics. (New York Times)

8/ 134 foreign policy experts denounce Trump’s revised travel ban as just as damaging to the United States’ interests and reputation as his original order that halted refugees and froze travelers from predominantly Muslim countries. (New York Times)

9/ Trump associate plays down Twitter contact with Guccifer 2.0 – the online persona who claims responsibility for hacking the Democratic National Committee. Roger Stone called it an innocuous “brief exchange” of a few direct messages that he says amount to nothing. (CNN)

Day 53: Contraction.

1/ 24 million would lose insurance under the G.O.P. health bill within a decade, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found. Democrats criticized Republicans for pushing the health care bill through two House committees last week before the Congressional Budget Office had weighed in, saying it was irresponsible to begin considering legislation without a firm grip on its potential costs and ramifications. (New York Times)

  • Republicans may soon get a preview of the political price of health reform. The CBO will issue a report likely showing that millions of people may lose coverage under Republican health care legislation. (CNN)

2/ Trump’s budget proposal is expected to create historic contraction in the federal workforce if enacted. The spending budget Trump is set to release this week will offer the clearest snapshot of his vision: a smaller government, less involved in regulating life in America, with private companies and states playing a much bigger role. (Washington Post)

3/ The House Intelligence panel wants wiretapping evidence today. Trump has not offered evidence to support his explosive wiretapping tweets, in which he compared the alleged wiretapping to the Watergate scandal. (NBC News)

4/ House investigators on a Trump-Russia “collision course” as the top Republican on the intelligence committee was also on Trump’s transition team. The lead Democrat is a fierce Trump critic. (Politico)

5/ Kellyanne Conway: “I don’t have any evidence” of Trump wiretapping claim. Conway said that previous comments she made linking WikiLeaks’ release of nearly 8,000 documents that purportedly reveal secrets about the CIA’s tools for breaking into targeted computers, cellphones and smart TVs to Trump’s claims were about “surveillance generally” and not meant to be taken as specific proof that his allegation was true. (ABC News)

UPDATE:

Spicer: Trump didn’t mean wiretapping when he tweeted about wiretapping. Last week, Spicer said Trump’s tweet “speaks for itself” and declined to provide any further explanation. But today, Spicer was open to providing an interpretation for Trump’s tweet, saying the President told Spicer he was referring to means of surveillance beyond wiretapping. (CNN)

Conway: Magic microwaves may have spied on Trump. There’s really nothing else left to write… (The Daily Beast)

  • Conway defends Trump’s wiretap claim by citing “microwaves that turn into cameras.” The Trump administration continues to provide no evidence for the president’s claim that Obama ordered wiretapping of Trump Tower. (Huffington Post)

6/ Trump said no Americans would lose coverage under Obamacare repeal. Paul Ryan won’t make that promise. The GOP House speaker said it depends on how many choose not to buy insurance once the mandate is lifted; he ducked the question of how many would no longer be able to afford it. (Washington Post)

  • Ryan said he agrees with Trump that there will be a “bloodbath” in 2018 if Republicans don’t follow through on their repeal promises. (Axios)
  • Another key Republican senator knocks the GOP Obamacare plan. Sen. Dean Heller panned House Speaker Paul Ryan’s bill to repeal and replace Obamacare during a closed meeting with constituents, raising numerous objections to the House bill. (Politico)

7/ The big winner in Trump’s decision to fire Preet Bharara might be Rupert Murdoch. The federal prosecutor was in the middle of a delicate case focusing on the conduct of Fox News executives. (New York Magazine)

  • Abrupt dismissals leave US attorneys scrambling. The quick exits aren’t expected to have a major impact on ongoing prosecutions, but they gave U.S. attorneys little time to prepare deputies who will take over until successors are named. (Associated Press)

8/ Trump’s budget director claims the Obama administration was “manipulating” jobs data. Mick Mulvaney said he has long thought the previous administration framed data to make the unemployment rate “look smaller than it actually was.” (CNN)

9/ Trump expected to announce vehicle emissions rules review. Automakers have been pushing the Trump administration for months to reverse the Obama administration decision, which would raise the fleet average fuel efficiency to more than 50 miles per gallon by 2025 from 27.5 mpg in 2010. (Reuters)

Day 54: Alias. Salvage. Taxed.

1/ Trump wrote off $100 million in business losses to reduce his federal taxes in 2005. Trump paid $38 million in federal income taxes on reported income of $150 million, an effective tax rate of 25%. By claiming losses from previous years, Trump was able to save tens of millions of dollars in taxes that he otherwise might have owed. (New York Times)

  • Trump and his wife Melania paid $5.3 million in regular federal income tax in 2005 – a rate of less than 4%. However, the Trumps paid an additional $31 million in the so-called “alternative minimum tax,” or AMT. Trump has previously called for the elimination of this tax. (The Daily Beast)
  • White House: Trump paid $38 million in taxes in 2005 on more than $150 million in income. The White House put the information out ahead of an anticipated MSNBC news report about the returns. Trump had promised during the presidential campaign to release his returns – which every presidential nominee in modern times has made into a precedent – after the conclusion of a routine audit, but the White House has not spelled out when exactly that would be. More recently, aides have suggested that since he won the election, he would not release his returns. (CNN)

2/ White House tries to salvage GOP health-care proposal as criticism mounts. The White House has launched an intensive effort to salvage support for the Republican plan to revise the Affordable Care Act, even as a growing number of lawmakers weighed in against the proposal. (Washington Post)

  • Trump’s backing a healthcare plan that breaks his promises. Trump was clear both as a candidate and as president: No one would be left behind under his health care plan. But the CBO found Trump would break his promise — by a mile. (NBC News)
  • Trump said it could take several years for health insurance prices to start to drop under the healthcare replacement plan he is promoting, creating a rocky transition period that could pose a risk for members of Congress up for re-election next year and Trump’s own bid for a second term in 2020. (Bloomberg)
  • Trump administration shifts away from “insurance for everybody,” instead promising that the House GOP plan to repeal and replace Obamacare offers “more people the option to get healthcare.” (Los Angeles Times)

3/ Rattled by CBO report, moderate Republicans turn against GOP bill. Republican leaders are struggling to unify conservative and moderate factions on health care. (CNN)

  • Conservatives’ reaction to CBO report casts doubt on GOP health plan’s viability. Lawmakers continue to push back on healthcare plan, saying the bill doesn’t repeal Obamacare, doesn’t unite Republicans, and doesn’t bring down the cost of premiums. (Washington Post)
  • Republican Rep. Peter Roskam: GOP healthcare bill “very much a work in progress.” Roskam voted for the plan just days ago in his position as a member of the House Ways & Means Committee, but has been drawing substantial fire in his district for his stance on health insurance. (Crain’s Chicago Business)

4/ The Trump administration slammed the CBO estimate that millions of people would become uninsured under the Republicans’ plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare. The CBO found that 14 million people would lose their insurance coverage by next year under the bill, with the number rising to 24 million over a decade. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said “it’s just not believable” and “virtually impossible” for the CBO estimate to occur. (The Hill)

  • Paul Ryan: CBO report on ObamaCare repeal “exceeded my expectations.” Ryan said the CBO’s prediction that 14 million more Americans would be uninsured in 2018 was due to the bill’s overturning of ObamaCare’s individual mandate. C’mon guy. (Fox News)
  • Sanders responds to CBO score: “Thousands of Americans will die” if the legislation is passed and millions of people are thrown off health insurance. (The Hill)
  • White House analysis of Obamacare repeal sees even deeper insurance losses than CBO. The executive branch analysis forecast that 26 million people would lose coverage over the next decade, versus the 24 million CBO estimates. (Politico)
  • CBO: Defunding Planned Parenthood would lead to thousands more births. Analysts estimate that excluding the women’s health organization from the Medicaid program for one year would affect low-income areas and communities without many health care options, leaving 15% of those people “without services that help women avert pregnancy.” (Washington Post)
  • Ted Cruz calls rising premiums “most troubling aspect” of CBO health care report. “This is not the mandate that we were elected to fulfill,” Cruz said. (Dallas News)

5/ Secretary of State Rex Tillerson used an email alias to discuss climate change while he was CEO of Exxon Mobil. Tillerson used the account for “secure and expedited communications between select senior company officials and the former chairman for a broad range of business-related topics,” after his primary account began receiving too many messages. (Bloomberg)

6/ Several states jointly sue to block Trump’s revised travel ban. Washington, California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, and Oregon asked a judge to stop Trump’s revised temporary ban on refugees and travelers from taking effect. (Reuters)

7/ DOJ asks for more time on inquiry into Trump wiretapping allegations after it failed to meet the House Intelligence Committee’s deadline to turn over evidence. (ABC News)

8/ Trump gives CIA new authority to conduct drone strikes against suspected terrorists, changing the Obama administration’s policy of limiting the spy agency’s paramilitary role and reopening a turf war between the agency and the Pentagon. (Wall Street Journal)

9/ Breitbart turns up the heat on Paul Ryan, leaking audio of Ryan disavowing Trump. “I am not going to defend Donald Trump—not now, not in the future,” Ryan says in an October conference call intended for House Republican members. (Breitbart)

10/ Trump is set to sign a sweeping directive to dramatically shrink the role climate change plays in decisions across the government, ranging from appliance standards to pipeline approvals. Trump’s order also will compel a reconsideration of the government’s use of a metric known as the “social cost of carbon” that reflects the potential economic damage from climate change. (Bloomberg)

Day 55: Failure.

1/ The cost of failure on health care repeal? It may be the rest of Trump’s agenda. Tax cuts, infrastructure and other White House priorities hinge on scaling back Obamacare. (Washington Post)

2/ Nervous GOP Senators call for changes in health care bill They want to see lower insurance costs for poorer, older Americans and an increase in funding for states with many hard-to-insure people. Conservative House Republicans already believe the bill is too generous. (New York Times)

  • GOP Senators say house health bill won’t pass without fundamental changes as concerns mount that millions would be uninsured. (Wall Street Journal)

3/ Comey will testify on Russia investigation next week at a public House Intelligence Committee hearing. Separately, Comey will brief the two top senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee today. (Politico)

  • Kaine expects FBI to announce White House-Russia investigation. Kaine stressed that the investigation must look into whether the highest office in the land is connected to Russia. (The Hill)
  • Lindsey Graham on Trump wiretap claims: “If it’s not true, just tell me.” Graham said the FBI needs to stop stonewalling his request to clear up wiretapping claims Trump made against his predecessor and produce evidence that it happened. (Today)

4/ House Intelligence Chair says he doesn’t believe Trump Tower was wiretapped. The top Democrat on the House committee, Adam Schiff, said he has seen “no evidence whatsoever” that supports Trump’s claim that Obama tapped his phone at Trump Tower. (NPR)

5/ Spicer is “very confident” that wiretapping evidence will emerge, bolstering Trump’s unproven accusation about his predecessor. (New York Times)

6/ The FBI was investigating former Trump national security advisor Michael Flynn as recently as December. It remains unknown when the FBI first started investigating Flynn and whether the probe has since been closed. (BuzzFeed News)

7/ Trump will reexamine fuel efficiency standards set in place during the Obama administration, opening the door for the regulations to potentially be reduced in the coming years. Trump will not take steps to revoke a waiver that allows California and a dozen other states to enforce emissions standards beyond those of the EPA. If those regulations remain intact, automakers will still be compelled to produce more fuel efficient cars regardless of any changes at the federal level. (Washington Post)

  • Trump to shelve fuel mileage rules, inviting a fight with California. The state has made it clear that they will not waver from the ambitious mileage rules finalized by the Obama administration, which require passenger cars to average about 54 miles per gallon by 2025. Today’s passenger cars average 36 miles per gallon. (Los Angeles Times)

8/ Justice Department charges Russian spies and criminal hackers in Yahoo intrusion. The indictments mark the first criminal cyber charges ever brought against Russian government officials. (Washington Post)

9/ China to Trump: We don’t want a trade war — but if there is one, your companies would bear the brunt.. China’s trade and investment ties with the United States created up to 1 million American jobs last year. (Washington Post)

10/ House Republicans seek flexible, less costly approaches at U.S. border, while Democrats oppose adding wall funds to government spending bill. (Bloomberg)

poll/ Only 24% of voters support the GOP health care plan. The Affordable Care Act, meanwhile, continues to post some of the best numbers it’s ever seen, with 47% of voters in favor of it to 39% who are opposed. (Public Policy Polling)

Day 56: Slashed.

1/ Trump’s budget slashes funds for the EPA and State Department. The budget would funnel an additional $54 billion into defense programs, beef up immigration enforcement, and significantly reduce the nondefense federal work force to further the “deconstruction of the administrative state,” in the words of Trump’s chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon. Major elements of the plan have already been declared dead on arrival by the Republican leadership in Congress, and much of the fiscal fine print will be filled in by Capitol Hill lawmakers and their aides over the next month. (New York Times)

  • Trump federal budget 2018: Massive cuts to the arts, science and the poor. $54 billion bump in defense spending would be offset by stripping money from more than 18 other agencies. (Washington Post)

2/ Mulvaney justifies budget: We can’t ask a coal miner to pay for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. “Make no mistake about it, this is a hard-power budget, not a soft-power budget,” Mulvanery says. (Politico)

3/ Federal judge in Hawaii freezes Trump’s new entry ban order hours before it would have temporarily barred the issuance of new visas to citizens of six Muslim-majority countries and suspended the admission of new refugees. (Washington Post)

  • 2 federal judges ruled against Trump’s latest travel ban. A judge in Hawaii issued a nationwide order Wednesday evening blocking Trump’s travel ban. Meanwhile, a second judge in Maryland ruled against Trump overnight, with a separate order forbidding the core provision of the travel ban from going into effect. (New York Times)
  • Judges used Trump’s own words in ruling against his revised travel ban. Two federal judges halted the Trump’s second attempt at his executive order, citing his campaign trail vows to seek a Muslim ban, which amounted to “significant and unrebutted evidence of religious animus driving the promulgation of the Executive Order and its related predecessor.” (Politico)

4/ Trump says he will submit evidence of wiretapping to House committee “very soon.” Trump added that he “will be, perhaps speaking about this next week” and predicted that “you’re going to find some very interesting items coming to the forefront over the next 2 weeks.” (Fox News)

5/ Senate Intelligence Committee leaders say there is no indication that Trump Tower was under surveillance. The Republican chairman and top Democrat said in a joint statement they have seen no evidence to support Trump’s claim about Trump Tower being wiretapped. (Politico)

6/ Paul Ryan says health care bill is still on track, despite increasing GOP opposition. Don’t worry, everything is going according to plan. (NPR)

  • Ryan: Health care plan must change to pass the House, marking a significant retreat from his earlier position that the carefully crafted legislation would fail if substantially altered. Rah roh. (Washington Post)

7/ Trump aides are privately blaming the health care bill’s problems on Paul Ryan. The Trump administration is trying to put some distance between them and Ryan, as the House’s Obamacare replacement bill gets criticized by conservative activists and Trump’s base of voters. (BuzzFeed News)

  • Trump acknowledges that the repeal bill wouldn’t be great for his supporters. Trump signaled that the Republican bill is not in its final form, admitting that the current legislation does not favor the voters who elected him. (Talking Points Memo)

8/ John McCain acccused Rand Paul of “now working for Vladimir Putin” after the Kentucky senator objected to a bill advancing Montenegro’s push for NATO membership. (The Daily Beast)

9/ Tillerson promises new policy on North Korea after “20 years of a failed approach.” China is expected to present a plan to cool North Korea tensions and suspend its ballistic missile tests and nuclear activities. The United States and South Korea would also halt their large-scale military exercises that annually antagonize Pyongyang. (CNN)

10/ Trump wants $4.1 billion for border wall. Republicans are showing increasing reluctance to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, as Trump prepares to ask Congress to include billions for one of his signature campaign promises in his first budget proposal since taking office. (Politico)

11/ Moscow paid $45,000 for Flynn’s 2015 talk at RT’s 10th anniversary party. RT is the Russian state-owned television network described by U.S. intelligence officials as “the Kremlin’s principal international propaganda outlet.” (Yahoo News)

  • Flynn worked for several Russian companies and was paid more than $50,000 shortly before he became a formal adviser to the then-candidate. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Flynn collected nearly $68,000 in fees and expenses from Russia-related entities in 2015, a higher amount than was previously known. (Washington Post)

Day 57: Tapped out.

1/ Trump offers no apology for claim on British spying. Trump has stuck by his unsubstantiated assertion that Obama ordered his telephone tapped last year despite across-the-board denials and wryly used Merkel’s visit to repeat his contention that the White House had nothing to retract or apologize for. (New York Times)

  • Sean Spicer flatly denies that the White House apologized to the British government over the allegations that a UK intelligence agency wiretapped Trump Tower. Spokesman for UK Prime Minister says Britain has received assurances that claims won’t be repeated. (CNN)
  • Ryan, Senate Intel committee see no evidence of Trump wiretap. Ryan said, however, that he still trusted Trump, and that the apparently false claims the President aired on Twitter would not damage the White House’s credibility. (CNN)

2/ Britain’s surveillance agency says it’s “utterly ridiculous” that it was involved in the Trump “wiretap.” The GCHQ – the British equivalent of the National Security Agency – usually remains tight-lipped on allegations, neither confirming nor denying claims. Not this time. (Washington Post)

3/ Spicer says Trump “stands by” unproven allegation that Obama ordered wiretapping of Trump Tower, quoting a report from Fox News alleging that Obama used British intelligence to gain access to transcripts of conversations involving Trump. (Washington Post)

4/ Rex Tillerson rules out negotiation with North Korea to freeze its nuclear and missile programs and said that the Trump administration might be forced to take pre-emptive action “if they elevate the threat of their weapons program” to an unacceptable level. (New York Times)

  • Tillerson says diplomacy has failed as North Korea warns of nuclear war after 20 years of trying to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear program have failed. (Chicago Tribune)

5/ Scientists brace for a lost generation in American research after Trump’s budget proposal calls for major cuts to funding for medical and science research. Private funding isn’t enough to offset Trump’s proposed budget cuts. (The Atlantic)

6/ The GOP health care bill advances despite opposition from three conservatives on the panel. The budget panel passed the American Health Care Act, which now heads to the House Rules Committee. The vote was 19-17. (ABC News)

7/ Secret Service laptop with Trump Tower floor plans and details on the Clinton email probe stolen from a Secret Service agent’s vehicle in New York City. In addition to the laptop, the thief made off with official Secret Service lapel pins – in case you wondering… (ABC News)

8/ Trump affirms support for NATO but says member nations “must pay what they owe.” Trump said some NATO countries owe “vast sums” in dues, which is “very unfair to the United States” — an allegation that appeared based on an incomplete understanding of how the alliance is funded. (Washington Post)

poll/ Americans break with Trump on immigration policy. 60% say the government’s top priority should be a plan to legalize undocumented immigrants, and 9 in 10 support a bill to allow certain undocumented immigrants to become citizens. (CNN)

Day 58: Imminent.

1/ U.S. attorney Preet Bharara was investigating HHS Secretary Tom Price when he was fired. Trump’s head of the Department of Health and Human Services traded stocks of health-related companies while working on legislation affecting the firms. Bharara was overseeing the investigation into the trades made by the health secretary. (ProPublica)

2/ U.S. breaks with allies over trade issues amid Trump’s “America first” vow. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin signaled that American policy would follow the campaign promises to not accept existing trade norms and pursue a more antagonistic approach with trading partners around the world. (New York Times)

3/ Tillerson calls the North Korea nuclear program an “imminent” threat while ruling out negotiations with the country. He left open the possibility of a pre-emptive military strike to eliminate its nuclear program while China’s foreign minister urged the U.S. to remain “cool-headed.” (Politico)

  • The Trump administration is prepared to scrap nearly a decade of U.S. policy toward North Korea in favor of a more aggressive effort to eliminate the country’s nuclear weapons program. Whether that means pre-emptive action, which he warned was “on the table,” will depend a great deal on how China responds. (New York Times)
  • Tillerson says “all options are on the table” when it comes to North Korea. The Trump administration challenged China to do more to pull its ally North Korea back from the nuclear brink as Tillerson bluntly declared that the U.S. will do whatever is necessary to prevent a North Korean attack. (Washington Post)

4/ Trump seeks proposals for 30-foot-high, “physically imposing” wall at the Mexican border. The request from Customs and Border Protection also said that wall designs should make it essentially impossible for a person to climb or gain access with a ladder. (Associated Press)

5/ Trump administration files notice that it will appeal the ruling against its second version of the travel ban. The Justice Department filed papers in federal court in Maryland, setting up a new legal showdown in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. (Washington Post)

6/ Trump optimistic on new health law, saying he expects the House Republican health plan will be passed “substantially pretty quickly.” Trump called it a “great plan” and says it is “getting more and more popular with the Republican base, the conservative base and with people generally.” (Associated Press)

7/ Trump seems to ignore Merkel’s handshake request. In the exchange, photographers gathered around Trump and Merkel in the Oval Office and suggested that the two leaders shake hands for the camera. Merkel turned toward Trump and asked, “Do you want to have a handshake?” Trump did not respond. When Japan’s prime minister visited Trump, they exchanged a 19 second handshake. (Politico)

8/ Rex Tillerson blocked reporters from his first diplomatic trip to Asia, then defended the decision, saying “I’m not a big media press access person. I personally don’t need it.” For decades, newspapers have paid the state department for airplane seats when the diplomat travels. This time, however, the only one reporter that was allowed to join him was from the conservative Independent Journal Review, a website partly owned by a top adviser to Vice-President Pence. (The Guardian)

9/ Kellyanne Conway’s husband is set to lead the Justice Department’s civil division. The job would put George Conway at the forefront of defending immigration executive orders and other lawsuits against Trump administration. (Wall Street Journal)

10/ Russian elites invested nearly $100 million in Trump buildings. At least 63 people with Russian passports or addresses have bought $98.4 million worth of property in seven Trump-branded luxury towers in southern Florida. (Reuters)

Day 59: Collusion.

1/ The head of the House Intelligence Committee said there is no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Rep. Devin Nunes wants to focus the committee on the alleged espionage and leaks of classified information, such as releasing information about Michael Flynn speaking to the Russian ambassador. (NPR)

2/ Schiff: “Circumstantial evidence of collusion” exists between the Trump campaign and Russia despite denials from top intelligence officials that Russian operatives tried to interfere with the 2016 election. Schiff defended the House Intelligence Committee continuing to look into the matter. (NBC News)

3/ Five things to watch at Monday’s House Intelligence Committee’s Russia hearing. Both the FBI director and the director of the NSA will speak about alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 elections, including potential connections between Trump’s inner circle and the Kremlin. (Washington Post)

4/ Top NSA official ridicules allegations that Britain spied on Trump, calling the claim “arrant nonsense.” Richard Ledgett, deputy director of the NSA, said the idea that Britain had a hand in spying on Trump was “just crazy” and that “it belies a complete lack of understanding of how the relationship works between the intel community agencies, it completely ignores the political reality of ‘would the UK government agree to do that?’” (Reuters)

5/ Ryan plans tweaks to the health care bill in order to help people in their 50s and 60s buy insurance. Ryan said he would “most likely” bring a health care bill forward for a floor vote on Thursday. (Bloomberg)

6/ Tom Price says Trump’s health care promises will be true down the line. Meaning, the government would pay for health care for those who need it and everyone would be covered. Price said the passage of the health care bill is just one of three steps. The second two being administrative reforms and the passage of other legislation dealing with health care outside of the American Health Care Act. (CNN)

7/ Trump administration is asking the federal judge in Hawaii to limit the scope of his ruling so the U.S. can immediately stop taking in refugees worldwide. The judge temporarily halted Trump’s new travel ban. (Fox News)

8/ Trump’s budget director says Meals on Wheels is not being gutted. The funding source Trump seeks to eliminate — the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s community development block grants — accounts for 3% of Meals on Wheels’ overall funding. (Washington Post)

9/ Trump continues the use of Special Forces to keep war against the Islamic State and terrorist groups at arm’s length. Trump has maintained the strategy of training and supporting local forces to fight their own wars instead of deploying large American forces to far-flung hot spots in an effort to minimize the American military’s footprint overseas. (New York Times)

10/ Despite millions of dollars being spent on security for Trump’s trips to Mar-a-Lago, Mulvaney says the president is cutting costs in the administration budget. Trump’s first three Mar-a-Lago weekends cost taxpayers an estimated $10 million. (CBS News)

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. (Reuters)

9/ Latest North Korean rocket test shows “meaningful progress” in its effort to build a more powerful rocket and missile. The test indicates that the North has developed a more sophisticated engine. (New York Times)

  • North Korea says it’s not afraid of US threat of military strike. “The nuclear force of (North Korea) is the treasured sword of justice and the most reliable war deterrence to defend the socialist motherland and the life of its people,” the official Korean Central News Agency quoted the spokesman as saying. (ABC News)

10/ Biden to rally with House Democrats to save Obamacare a day before House Republicans vote to dismantle the health law. Republican leaders have scheduled a vote on their Obamacare repeal bill for Thursday, the actual anniversary of the signing of the law. (Politico)

poll/ Almost half of Canadians want illegal border crossers deported. 40% of respondents said the border crossers could make Canada “less safe.” (Reuters)

poll/ Trump approval rating sinks to 37%, lower than any other commander-in-chief at this point in his first term since Gallup started tracking the issue in 1945. (ABC News)

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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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)