1/ Trump declared a national emergency at the border to circumvent Congress and fund his border wall with money lawmakers refused to give him, saying "I didn't need to do this," but "I just want to get it done faster, that's all." In a Rose Garden news conference, Trump said he would sign the declaration to divert $3.6 billion from military construction projects to his border wall and then use presidential budgetary discretion to redirect $2.5 billion from counternarcotics programs and another $600 million from a Treasury Department asset forfeiture fund. Between the $1.375 billion authorized for fencing in a spending package passed by Congress, and the roughly $6.5 billion in funding from executive action, Trump is will have about $8 billion to construct or repair as many as 234 miles of a border barrier – significantly more than the $5.7 billion that Congress refused to give him. Following the news conference, Trump signed the spending legislation. (New York Times / The Guardian / Politico / Washington Post / NBC News / ABC News)

  • Capitol Police pushed and physically blocked reporters from talking with Senators headed to vote on the spending package last night, despite some lawmakers willing to engage with the press. (Roll Call)

  • The White House announced the national emergency by tweet using the iPhone Notes app. (BuzzFeed News)

  • Trump's national emergency press conference, annotated. (Washington Post)

  • Trump's bizarre, rambling national emergency announcement distracted from what the president actually did. (The Atlantic)

  • In November 2014, Trump called taking executive action on immigration dangerous, unconstitutional, and impeachable. (CNN)

2/ The Justice Department warned the White House that a national emergency declaration is nearly certain to be blocked by the courts, which would prevent the immediate implementation of Trump's plan to circumvent Congress and build the wall using his executives powers. (ABC News)

  • The ACLU plans to file suit challenging Trump's national emergency declaration, arguing his attempt to evade congressional funding restrictions is "patently illegal." (Axios)

3/ House Democrats plan to pass a joint resolution disapproving of Trump's emergency declaration, which would force Senate Republicans to take a public position. By law, if one chamber passes a resolution, the other one must bring it up for a vote within 18 days. While Republicans hold a 53-to-47 advantage, the resolution would only need a simple majority to pass. A White House aide indicated that Trump would "absolutely veto" any congressional efforts to interfere with his plan to declare a national emergency to secure funding for his border wall. (Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / Politico)

4/ The Supreme Court agreed to decide whether the Trump administration can add a question about citizenship to the 2020 Census. A federal judge last month stopped the Commerce Department from adding the question, questioning the motives of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who claimed he ordered the question to be added in response to a December 2017 request from the Justice Department, which said that data about citizenship would help it enforce the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Judge Jesse Furman of the United States District Court in Manhattan issued an opinion saying that "promoting enforcement" of the Voting Rights Act "was not his real reason for the decision." The court is scheduled to hear arguments in April so that it can issue a decision before census forms are printed in June. (Washington Post / New York Times)

5/ Robert Mueller's team interviewed Sarah Huckabee Sanders in early fall of 2018 – around the time that Trump's former Chief of Staff John Kelly was questioned by Mueller's team. (CNN / CNBC)

  • Maria Butina, a self-confessed Russian agent, "manipulated" a Russian spy agency when arranging the NRA's trip to Moscow, according to her boyfriend, Paul Erickson. In a Nov. 25, 2015, email sent to then-incoming NRA President Pete Brownell, Erickson wrote that "most of the FSB agents 'assigned' to her want to marry her," which is how she arranged a tour of a Russian arms factory for the NRA delegation. (Daily Beast)

  • A federal judge has placed a gag order on Roger Stone and attorneys involved in his criminal case, ordering the Trump associate to "refrain from making statements to the media or in public settings that pose a substantial likelihood of material prejudice to this case." (Politico / CNN)


Notables.

  1. Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro's foreign minister met secretly with the U.S. special envoy in New York, even while the Trump administration continues to publicly back an attempt to overthrow the Maduro government. While in New York, the foreign minister urged Elliot Abrams to come to Venezuela "privately, publicly or secretly." U.S. officials have said they are willing to meet with officials from the current Venezuelan administration, "including Maduro himself, to discuss their exit plans." (Associated Press / Politico)

  2. The top American general in the Middle East disagreed with Trump's decision to pull troops out of Syria, and warned that the terror group was far from defeated. (CNN)

  3. Pro-Israel lobbyists and donors spent more than $22 million on lobbying and campaign contributions during the last election cycle. Those same groups have spent hundreds of millions of dollars through a variety of channels in order to influence American politics and elections in recent decades. The Guardian investigation found that the pro-Israel lobby is "highly active and spends heavily to influence US policy," but not as heavily as some U.S. business sectors. "I haven’t observed many other countries that have a comparable level of activity, at least in domestic lobbying data," said a senior researcher at the Center for Responsive Politics. The Guardian started examining the data after Muslim Minnesota congresswoman Ilhan Omar claimed pro-Israel lobby money influenced U.S. policy. (The Guardian)

  4. Trump claimed that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe nominated him for a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to broker peace between North and South Korea. The Japanese have not announced Trump's nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize. (Politico / Washington Post)

  5. At least 10 Trump judicial nominees in the past year have refused to endorse Brown v. Board of Education, the 1954 ruling that abolished school segregation. (Mother Jones)