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"Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech," said Benjamin Franklin.
Everyone has an opinion and the right to speak that opinion our forefathers granted us that right it's called the First Amendment. Read it then discuss it in the Forums. Find out about Donald J. Trump’s time in the white house. Donald J. Trump is a crook, a con man and liar who uses alternative facts and projects himself on to other.

Donald J. Trump White House Page 18
By Lena H. Sun and Yasmeen Abutaleb

Officials at the Department of Health and Human Services sent more than a dozen workers to receive the first Americans evacuated from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, without proper training for infection control or appropriate protective gear, according to a whistleblower complaint. The workers did not show symptoms of infection and were not tested for the virus, according to lawyers for the whistleblower, who is a senior HHS official based in Washington who oversees workers at the Administration for Children and Families, a unit within HHS. The whistleblower is seeking federal protection because she alleges she was unfairly and improperly reassigned after raising concerns about the safety of these workers to HHS officials, including those within the office of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. She was told Feb. 19 that if she does not accept the new position in 15 days, which is March 5, she would be terminated. The whistleblower has decades of experience in the field, received two HHS department awards from Azar last year and has received the highest performance evaluations, her lawyers said. The complaint was filed Wednesday with the Office of the Special Counsel, an independent federal watchdog agency. The whistleblower’s lawyers provided a copy of a redacted 24-page complaint to The Washington Post. A spokesman for the Office of the Special Counsel said he could not comment on complaints filed with the office.

Analysts issue warning over Covid-19 as global financial markets continue to tumble
By Rob Davies , Richard Partington and Graeme Wearden

The coronavirus could wreak economic havoc on a scale not seen since the 2008 financial crisis, analysts have said, amid mounting concern over the spread of the disease. Financial markets plunged afresh on Thursday as countries stepped up efforts to contain the virus by banning travel, closing schools and postponing major sporting events and business conferences. The FTSE 100 slumped by 3.5%, extending a losing streak that puts the blue-chip share index on course for its worst week since the eurozone debt crisis in 2011. The sharp fall in markets came as British officials sought to prepare the public for all eventualities. The chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, said that in the event of a global pandemic public events may have to be cancelled and schools closed for more than two months. As three new cases were identified in the UK on Thursday, including the first in Northern Ireland, and Public Health England sent a specialist to Tenerife to help manage an outbreak there, the health secretary, Matt Hancock, said there was still “a good chance” of avoiding a pandemic but he acknowledged it was a “potential outcome”. The value of London-listed companies has fallen by more than £150bn since markets opened on Monday, a prolonged selloff widely attributed to Covid-19. On Wall Street on Thursday, the Dow Jones at one point shed more than 700 points. By mid-afternoon it was down 590. The Dow had already lost more than 2,000 points in the first three days of this week. A flurry of big names joined the lengthening list of companies reporting a serious impact on their finances and warning of further pain ahead if the outbreak’s progress cannot be halted soon.

By Bill Chappell

The first suspected U.S. case of a patient getting the new coronavirus through "community spread" — with no history of travel to affected areas or exposure to someone known to have the COVID-19 illness — was left undiagnosed for days because a request for testing wasn't initially granted, according to officials at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, Calif. The patient in Northern California is now the 60th confirmed case of the coronavirus in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention disclosed the latest case Wednesday evening, as President Trump assigned Vice President Pence to lead the administration's response to the disease. "This case was detected through the U.S. public health system — picked up by astute clinicians," the CDC said in a brief statement about the new patient. UC Davis included more details about the case in its own statement, drawing on an email sent to staff at its medical center. It said the CDC initially ruled out a test for the coronavirus because the patient's case didn't match its criteria. "UC Davis Health does not control the testing process," the hospital noted. The new patient, who lives in Solano County and has not been identified, was transferred to UC Davis Medical in Sacramento County from another hospital this month. Staff at UC Davis then suspected the patient might be infected with the coronavirus that has caused more than 2,800 deaths. "Upon admission, our team asked public health officials if this case could be COVID-19," the hospital said. "We requested COVID-19 testing by the CDC, since neither Sacramento County nor CDPH [California Department of Public Health] is doing testing for coronavirus at this time. Since the patient did not fit the existing CDC criteria for COVID-19, a test was not immediately administered. UC Davis Health does not control the testing process."

By Rosie McCall

Vice President Mike Pence was selected to lead the country's response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak during a press conference on Wednesday, in spite of a rocky reputation when it comes to health related matters. In response to Trump's decision to name Pence "Coronavirus Czar," Brian Schatz, a Democratic Senator for Hawaii, tweeted some of the most anti-science opinions voiced by the VP over the years, from rejecting climate science to saying smoking does not kill.

Mike Pence is for conversion therapy. Mike Pence said smoking didn't cause cancer. Mike Pence doesn’t believe climate science. Mike Pence questioned whether or not condoms worked. So, 😬
— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) February 26, 2020

Here are a few of Pence's most controversial science remarks.
"Smoking doesn't kill"

"Time for a quick reality check," Pence wrote in an op-ed back in 2000. "Despite the hysteria from the political class and the media, smoking doesn't kill." He then went on to list smoking-related statistics: Two out of three smokers do not die from smoking-related illnesses. (False—it may be the opposite: two in three smokers die as a result.) Nine out of ten do not get lung cancer. (It makes it 15 to 30 times more likely you will.) But he did add "smoking is not good for you" and suggested those "reading this article through the blue haze of cigarette smoke" should quit.

Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN

(CNN) President Donald Trump wants America to know he's doing a great job in keeping out the novel coronavirus, in a victory lap that could look premature if his own experts are correct in their more somber forecasts. The President spoke at a news conference on Wednesday about the worldwide health emergency that has seen the virus sweep into South Korea, Italy and every continent but Antarctica, sounding as if the danger had already passed rather than was yet to arrive. "The risk to the American people remains very low," Trump said, as he unveiled his big announcement: Vice President Mike Pence will head the government effort. The President's optimistic performance came hours before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said a patient in California who has the novel coronavirus might be the first person to be infected who did not travel to an afflicted region and was not exposed to another known carrier. The case raises the ominous possibility that the virus is already moving through the community. In anxious times, including health emergencies, presidents are called upon to show authority and credible planning and to inspire confidence and national unity among Americans. The task is especially complicated for Trump, given the three years of divide-and-rule politics he has used to cement power, which has deepened mistrust among voters who do not support him. His upbeat, election-year tone contrasted sharply with predictions from his government experts, who are warning of possible severe disruption to American life if the outbreak swells into a pandemic.

As a new coronavirus spread in 2020, so did concerns about the United States' preparedness for a potential pandemic.
By Bethania Palma

The Trump administration fired the U.S. pandemic response team in 2018 to cut costs. Amid warnings from public health officials that a 2020 outbreak of a new coronavirus could soon become a pandemic involving the U.S., alarmed readers asked Snopes to verify a rumor that U.S. President Donald Trump “fired the entire pandemic response team two years ago and then didn’t replace them.” The claim came from a series of tweets posted by Judd Legum, who runs Popular Information, a newsletter he describes as being about “politics and power.” The commentary is representative of sharp criticism from Democratic legislators (and some Republicans) that the Trump administration has ill-prepared the country for a pandemic, even as one is looming. Legum outlined a series of cost-cutting decisions made by the Trump administration in preceding years that gutted the nation’s infectious disease defense infrastructure. The “pandemic response team” is a reference to news stories from spring 2018 reporting that White House officials tasked with directing a national response to a pandemic had been ousted. Rear Adm. Timothy Ziemer abruptly departed from his post leading the global health security team on the National Security Council in May 2018 amid a reorganization of the council by then-National Security Advisor John Bolton. Ziemer’s team was disbanded. Tom Bossert, who as The Washington Post reported, “had called for a comprehensive biodefense strategy against pandemics and biological attacks,” had been fired one month prior. It’s true that the Trump administration axed the executive branch team responsible for coordinating a response to a pandemic and did not replace it, eliminating Ziemer’s position and reassigning others, although Bolton was the executive at the top of the National Security Council chain of command at the time.

By Ben Feuerherd

The Trump administration can block federal grant money from New York City and several states that do not give US Immigration & Customs Enforcement access to jails, an appeals court ruled Wednesday. The blow to “sanctuary cities” reversed a previous ruling that kept the federal government from withholding grant money from New York City and seven states — New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Washington, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Virginia. The grant money, called the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant, is doled out to local governments by the feds to assist with local law enforcement. “The case implicates several of the most divisive issues confronting our country and, consequently, filling daily news headlines: national immigration policy, the enforcement of immigration laws, the status of illegal aliens in this country, and the ability of States and localities to adopt policies on such matters contrary to, or at odds with, those of the federal government,” wrote Second Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Reena Raggi in the three-judge panel’s decision.

Trump had a great time being hosted by Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi: Just another strongman yanking his chain
By Heather Digby Parton

There has been a lot of discussion over the past few days about Bernie Sanders' comment on "60 Minutes" that the authoritarian Cuban leader Fidel Castro had boosted literacy among his people. Sanders is a self-described democratic socialist so I suppose it's not surprising that this would attract some attention, but his comment really wasn't anything a standard-issue liberal wouldn't have made. In fact, the most revered Democrat in America, Barack Obama, said pretty much exactly the same thing when he moved to normalize relations with Cuba in his final years in office. Nonetheless, the subject was raised again at the presidential debate on Tuesday night when the moderators asked Sanders whether Americans could trust that a socialist would give authoritarians a free pass. I don't know whether anyone's noticed this, but Fidel Castro is dead. It's interesting that such a dull observation about literacy programs in communist countries would cause such hand-wringing when you consider that our current president's favorite global leaders are all authoritarian strongmen who are very much alive. In fact, Donald Trump was being fêted and fluffed by one of those at the very moment the press was calling for the smelling salts over Sanders' mundane comments. Trump was on a state visit to India, which he's been very excited about ever since Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to America and filled a stadium in Texas with 50,000 people, promising Trump he would deliver something even better when the president visited India. Last week, even as our entire country was riveted by the prospect of the Department of Justice and the office of the director of national intelligence being corrupted by Trump cronies and character assassins, Trump himself couldn't stop talking and tweeting about his upcoming state visit, telling the press corps on the airport tarmac that while India "treats us very badly," he likes Modi a lot. Why?

By Arthur MacMillan, AFP USA

Facebook posts shared tens of thousands of times attribute flattering comments about President Donald Trump to former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger. The remarks are fabricated; his office described them as “inventions,” and there is no record that he made them. The posts -- here, here and here -- misleadingly combine false quotes with actual remarks made by Kissinger, who remains an important, if controversial, figure on foreign policy matters. The wording has been altered by different users, as has Kissinger’s age. He is 96, but some posts claim he is 95. Purportedly quoting Kissinger on Trump, one post says: “Liberals and all those who favor (Hillary) Clinton will never admit it. They will never admit that he is the one true leader." It also criticizes the presidency of Barack Obama: "After eight years of tyranny, we finally see a difference.” The post then goes to an overtly flattering quote about the US president, again attributing it to Kissinger: “Trump puts America and its people first. This is why people love him and this is why he will remain in charge for so long. There is not a single thing wrong with him and people need to open their eyes.” Some of the Facebook posts directly quote Kissinger, who served under presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, though others cite the remarks as reported speech.

By Justin Strekal

President Trump is once again threatening to derail medical cannabis access in the majority of U.S. states that regulate its access and use. In his recently released 2021, the federal budget proposes, the president has called for ending existing federal protections that limit the federal government from interfering in the state-sanctioned regulation of medical cannabis. Doing so would place thousands of medical cannabis providers and the millions of patients who rely on them at risk for criminal prosecution. Some context: since 2014, Congress has repeatedly approved spending legislation forbidding the Justice Department from using federal funds for the explicit purpose of preventing states from “implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.” Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia regulate the production and dispensing of medical cannabis products to over three million patients. All of these programs, and the patients served by them, would be at risk if the president gets his way. To those following this issue closely, the president ’s latest move hardly comes as a surprise. Despite Trump mentioning during his campaign that he supported medical marijuana and a general states-rights approach to cannabis policy, his presidency has consistently proven these words to ring hollow. Most recently, Marc Lotter, the director of strategic communications for Trump’s 2020 campaign, stated in an interview that the administration is intent on keeping marijuana illegal under federal law. “I think what the president is looking at is looking at this from a standpoint of a parent of a young person to make sure that we keep our kids away from drugs,” he said. “They need to be kept illegal, that is the federal policy. I think the president has been pretty clear on his views on marijuana at the federal level, I know many states have taken a different path.” Let’s be clear — the policy that the administration wants to keep in place is the same failed policy that has existed since 1970, which opines that the cannabis plant should remain classified in the same category as heroin and possesses no accepted medical value. This position doesn’t comport with either public opinion or scientific reality. The data speaks for itself. It is not an alternative fact that state-regulated medical marijuana has been proven to possess important benefits to millions of patients while not undermining public safety or health.

By Katelyn Polantz, CNN

Washington (CNN) Judge Amy Berman Jackson on Tuesday said attacks from President Donald Trump and commentary from conservative media are part of a campaign of intimidation and harassment of jurors in Roger Stone's criminal case. Jackson read the President's tweet attacking the Stone jury forewoman, as well as commentary from InfoWars' Alex Jones and Tucker Carlson from Fox News, to a federal courtroom, in deciding to hear testimony from jurors while protecting their identities after Stone asked for a retrial. Making jurors' identities public "would put them at substantial risk of harm," Jackson said. "In a highly publicized political climate ... the risk of harassment and intimidation of any juror" who may testify to the court today "is extremely high." "While judges may have volunteered for their positions ... jurors are not volunteers," Jackson said. "They are deserving of the public's respect." The hearing is ongoing, and at least one juror may be called to testify Tuesday afternoon in a closed courtroom. Trump has in fact tweeted about the Stone juror during the hearing. "There has rarely been a juror so tainted as the forewoman in the Roger Stone case. Look at her background. She never revealed her hatred of "Trump" and Stone. She was totally biased, as is the judge. Roger wasn't even working on my campaign. Miscarriage of justice. Sad to watch!" the President tweeted roughly 90 minutes after the hearing began. (Stone was part of Trump's campaign in 2015, however.)

By Krishnadev Calamur

President Trump criticized remarks by Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg as "inappropriate" and said the Supreme Court justices should recuse themselves from cases involving the president. "I just don't know how they cannot recuse themselves for anything Trump or Trump related," Trump said Tuesday in a wide-ranging news conference in New Delhi. "What Justice Sotomayor said yesterday was highly inappropriate," Trump added. "She's trying to shame people with perhaps a different view into voting her way." The remarks are an apparent reference to a recent Sotomayor dissent in which she wrote that the administration had made a habit of turning to the Supreme Court after losses in lower courts. "Claiming one emergency after another, the government has recently sought stays in an unprecedented number of cases, demanding immediate attention and consuming limited court resources in each," Sotomayor wrote. "And with each successive application, of course, its cries of urgency ring increasingly hollow." She added that the Supreme Court was "partly to blame" because it "has been all too quick to grant the government's" requests. Ginsburg had previously criticized Trump before he was elected president. Earlier, Trump tweeted: "Sotomayor accuses GOP appointed Justices of being biased in favor of Trump. ... This is a terrible thing to say. Trying to 'shame' some into voting her way? She never criticized Justice Ginsberg when she called me a 'faker'. Both should recuse themselves." The visit to India offered a welcome distraction to the president who, despite his acquittal earlier this month by the U.S. Senate following his impeachment by the House of Representatives, has continued to rail against congressional Democrats. Trump has previously criticized the judge in the trial of his ally Roger Stone, prompting pushback from his attorney general, William Barr; and last week, prior to his departure, news reports said that intelligence officials had told a House panel that Russia seemed to favor Trump in the 2020 election.

By Brian Naylor

The Trump administration is coming under fire for its handling of certain government records. Historians and activists charge that the White House has failed to keep notes of the president's meetings with foreign leaders, including with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and that other papers, including records of alleged abuses of undocumented immigrants, could be destroyed. Immigration activists fear that records relating to the treatment of undocumented immigrants — including detainee deaths, complaints about medical conditions and alleged sexual assault and abuse of detainees — could be destroyed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The American Immigration Council, an advocacy organization, along with three other groups last week filed Freedom of Information Act requests with ICE asking for the documents, as a way to keep them intact. Emily Creighton, the council's directing attorney for transparency, calls it "mind boggling" that some documents detailing detention conditions could be destroyed in 10, 20 or 30 years. "It's almost as though we are, you know, erasing our nation's conscience," she says. In a statement to NPR, ICE says it is following "standard government practice" for determining which documents to retain, and that the ultimate arbiter of how records are preserved is the National Archives and Records Administration, or NARA.

As senior officials are shown the door, a new personnel chief orders a search for political appointees as well as career officials deemed insufficiently supportive of the president.
By Peter Baker

WASHINGTON — In some of the most critical corners of the Trump administration, officials show up for work now never entirely sure who will be there by the end of the evening — themselves included. Even for an administration that has been a revolving door since Day 1, this has become a season of turmoil. At a moment when first-term presidents are typically seeking a stable team to focus on their re-election, President Trump has embarked on a systematic attempt to sweep out officials perceived to be disloyal. The headquarters of the nation’s intelligence apparatus roiled with the ouster of the acting director Joseph Maguire and his replacement by a sharp partisan amid a dispute over Russian election interference. The Justice Department remained on edge with whispers of further resignations, including perhaps even that of Attorney General William P. Barr, after the president’s intervention in a case involving one of his friends. Witnesses from the impeachment inquiry into Mr. Trump have been summarily dismissed. Dozens of policy experts have been cleared out of the National Security Council staff as part of a restructuring that will mean fewer career professionals in range of the president. A deputy national security adviser dogged by innuendo about disloyalty was exiled to the Energy Department. A Trump appointee’s nomination for a top Treasury Department post was pulled. The No. 3 official at the Defense Department was shown the door. And Johnny McEntee, a 29-year-old loyalist just installed to take over the Office of Presidential Personnel and reporting directly to Mr. Trump, has ordered a freeze on all political appointments across the government. He also convened a meeting to instruct departments to search for people not devoted to the president so they can be removed, according to people briefed about the session, and informed colleagues that he planned to tell cabinet secretaries that the White House would be choosing their deputies from now on. “Trump appears to be launching the biggest assault on the nation’s civil service system since the 1883 Pendleton Act ended the spoils system,” said Paul C. Light, a New York University professor who has studied presidential personnel. But career professionals are not the only ones in the cross hairs. Also facing scrutiny are Republican political appointees considered insufficiently committed to the president or suspected of not aggressively advancing his agenda.

We're slipping further into fascism as Trump indulges all his worst instincts, with the help of his toadies
by Lucian K. Truscott IV

There will come a time when we look back on this week as the moment in our history when we finally understood that we have a man as president who is acting like a fascist dictator. Just look at the headlines from one day's New York Times alone: "Alarm in Capital as Axes Swing in Growing Post-Acquittal Purge," "Justice Dept. Acts to Ease Sentence for a Trump Ally." If either one of those headlines had run on the front page of a major American newspaper before now, not to mention both of them at once, we would have believed as a people, as a citizenry, that we were facing a national crisis. But this week? Wednesday was just another day in Donald Trump's America. The day before that, in what became known as the "Tuesday night massacre," all four prosecutors in the case against Trump's longtime friend and political bad boy Roger Stone had resigned in protest of the intervention by Trump and his attorney general, William Barr, to reduce the sentence recommended by the Department of Justice in Stone's conviction for lying to congressional committees and tampering with witnesses. All of this followed closely the "Friday night massacre" of last week, when Trump fired two of the impeachment witnesses against him, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman of the National Security Council and Gordon Sondland, ambassador to the European Union. But two "massacres" in a row was just the beginning. By mid-week, Trump was suggesting that Army officials with court-martial authority over Vindman should "take a look at" punishing him for testifying at the impeachment hearing. On Thursday, the New York Times front page trumpeted, "U.S. Lawyers Fear Removal of a Guardrail: Sone Case Stirs Worry of What's to Come." And by Friday morning, a panel of legal pundits on MSNBC were worrying about what would happen when Trump didn't merely step in to help allies like Stone but actually began prosecuting his political foes. Folks, let's not mince words: This is the kind of stuff we read about happening in dictatorships like Russia and North Korea and Iran. And yes, it's the kind of rule by strong-arm fiat that was practiced by Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany. Before this week, I would have thought it an exaggeration to compare Trump's frequent rallies to the infamous Nuremberg rallies Hitler held during the1930s. No longer. Trump's rallies are unnervingly close to those held in Nuremberg. The MAGA hat has become a kind of Trumpian Nazi helmet. The denunciations of hated minorities are the same. As is his insane bellowing before a crowd screaming its slavish obeisance. Let's just stop for a moment and consider the angry chants of "Lock her up," first directed at Hillary Clinton, now at Nancy Pelosi. What do Trump's cheering crowds want his Democratic opponents locked up for? Neither of those women has faced criminal charges, much less been convicted of any crime. Neither is even under investigation for corruption or alleged criminal behavior. But that doesn't matter to Trump and his rally crowds. This stuff has been going on for so long, it's clear that they actually do want them locked up. When Trump stands before his screaming fans, raising his arms and smiling, it's obvious he does, too. To call for the imprisonment of political opponents without trial is not playing with rhetoric for effect. It's not political gimmickry. It's not cute. It's not funny. It's not clever. Let's say out loud what it is: It's pure fascism, plain and simple. The man who stands before those rallies and encourages such idolatry isn't merely running for president. He is calling, directly and without apology, for the kind of obedience and loyalty demanded by dictators. He is commanding worship and submission. It must be why he attracts so completely the support of evangelical Christians. He truly is the false idol their Bible warned them against. They have fallen for him in the same way the most conspicuously devout worshipers commit sins. The inevitability of Trump and his evangelical masses is jaw-dropping, and yes, biblical.


By Toluse Olorunnipa, Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey

President Trump has instructed his White House to identify and force out officials across his administration who are not seen as sufficiently loyal, a post-impeachment escalation that administration officials say reflects a new phase of a campaign of retribution and restructuring ahead of the November election. Johnny McEntee, Trump’s former personal aide who now leads the effort as director of presidential personnel, has begun combing through various agencies with a mandate from the president to oust or sideline political appointees who have not proved their loyalty, according to several administration officials and others familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. The push comes in the aftermath of an impeachment process in which several members of Trump’s administration provided damning testimony about his behavior with regard to Ukraine. The stream of officials publicly criticizing Trump’s actions frustrated the president and caused him to fixate on cleaning house after his acquittal this month. “We want bad people out of our government!” Trump tweeted Feb. 13, kicking off a tumultuous stretch of firings, resignations, controversial appointments and private skirmishes that have since spilled into public view.

Unconstrained by the law, enabled by his staff, the unitary executive is raging.
By Dahlia Lithwick

On Thursday, President Donald Trump railed at the Oscars for awarding its highest honors to a foreign film. He then installed an acclaimed insult comic with no national intelligence experience as his acting director of national intelligence, because he prefers hearing from intelligence directors who tell him what he wants to believe as opposed to what is happening. He also indicated that when he threatens judges and jurors involved in federal criminal cases it’s OK because he has First Amendment needs that transcend the demands of rule of law. In other words, in the span of a few days, we’ve moved from unitary executive to peak Lear-wandering-on-the-heath executive. The only remaining operative question is: Who will be rewarded for loving the king as much as the king demands? The American constitutional order is comprised of two camps in this moment: the president’s enemies and the president’s staffers. Having asserted this week that he is the “chief law enforcement officer of the United States,” and having previously concluded that the Constitution gives him “the right to do whatever I want,” the president has carved the world into the only two categories he comprehends: his interchangeable fixers and his mortal enemies. Attorney General Bill Barr, who auditioned for his position by offering himself up specifically as a fixer, has tried as valiantly as possible to get the president to stop tweeting about ongoing criminal matters. He even said he might quit if the president didn’t stop treating him like the president’s pool boy. Needless to say, he didn’t quit, and is, as a formal matter now, the president’s pool boy. It would demand a smaller ego for Donald Trump to recognize that he was already a pawn in 2016 and is still a useful pawn in 2020. Even when they depart, nobody ever stops being on the president’s roster of lifelong staffers. Not Don McGahn, not John Bolton, not John Kelly, and not Hope Hicks. Some of them leave the White House and then some drift back to the White House, emptying ashtrays and hampering attempts at obstruction, but they’re forever on staff, lashed to the president by way of elaborate (unenforceable) NDAs, or legal claims of absolute privilege, or by their own paradoxical beliefs that they are not in fact essential to the plot, but also that you should definitely preorder their book about the experience on Amazon.

The president said the intelligence finding that Russia was again meddling in a coming presidential election in his favor was a partisan “misinformation campaign.”
By Katie Rogers

LAS VEGAS — President Trump said Friday that a disclosure by American intelligence officials that Russia was again meddling in a presidential election in his favor was merely another partisan campaign against him, dismissing the warning as a hoax cooked up by rivals. “Another misinformation campaign is being launched by Democrats in Congress saying that Russia prefers me to any of the Do Nothing Democrat candidates who still have been unable to, after two weeks, count their votes in Iowa,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter. “Hoax number 7!” The intelligence assessment, delivered last Thursday to lawmakers on the House Intelligence Committee, determined that Russia is planning to interfere in the 2020 primaries as well as the general election. But the way it was delivered angered some Republicans, and the attendance of Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and the chairman of the committee who led the impeachment proceedings, particularly angered Mr. Trump. The president’s decision to remove Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence, and install Richard Grenell, the ambassador to Germany and a fervent loyalist, was also seen as a direct outcome of the briefing. On Thursday evening, Mr. Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One that Representative Doug Collins of Georgia, an ally and a vocal opponent of impeachment, was one of the candidates under consideration as a permanent successor. By Friday morning, Mr. Collins said he was not interested. “This is not a job that interests me; at this time, it’s not one that I would accept because I’m running a Senate race down here in Georgia,” Mr. Collins said in an interview on Fox News. Mr. Trump has a long history of discarding assessments made by intelligence agencies that he has deemed unfair or unflattering. Multiple intelligence groups have determined that Russia meddled in the 2016 election, and, before the 2018 midterms, delivered warnings that Russia was prepared to do it again. Early in his presidency, Mr. Trump grudgingly accepted those assessments before falling back on personal assurances from President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. “He said he didn’t meddle,” Mr. Trump said in November 2017. “I asked him again. You can only ask so many times. Every time he sees me, he says, ‘I didn’t do that.’ And I believe, I really believe, that when he tells me that, he means it.” Since then, Mr. Trump, with the assistance of his Justice Department, has moved to retaliate against the intelligence community rather than Mr. Putin: A federal prosecutor is scrutinizing how the intelligence officials assessed Russia’s 2016 election interference, targeting the former C.I.A. director John O. Brennan in particular. - It is not a hoax Russia is meddling again. What is Trump trying to hide?

CBS This Morning

President Trump was furious that Joseph Maguire, the former acting director of national intelligence, allowed one of his subordinates to tell House lawmakers that Russia appears to favor him in the 2020 election. Democrats are now calling for additional hearings, while Republicans are questioning the evidence presented, Paula Reid reports. - It is not a hoax Russia is meddling again. What is Trump trying to hide?

Analysis by Nathan Hodge, CNN

Moscow (CNN) It's a familiar plot line: Top intelligence officials deliver a warning to lawmakers that Russia wants to interfere in the upcoming presidential election -- and that the Kremlin's preferred outcome is a win by President Donald Trump. But Russiagate 2 may not be a straightforward sequel for Russian President Vladimir Putin. Why would Putin want to put his finger on the scales of American democracy again? For starters, it's not clear that the Trump presidency has been a consistent foreign-policy win for Russia. The Trump administration delivered lethal aid to Ukraine, which is locked in a proxy war with Russian-backed separatists. Washington is at odds with Moscow in a range of foreign-policy crises, from the conflict in Syria to political turmoil in Venezuela. And Trump withdrew the US from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, a move that drew condemnation from the Kremlin. Russia continues to bear the costs of confronting Washington. The Treasury Department under Trump has continued to aggressively sanction Russia for its election meddling in 2016 and the occupation of Crimea in 2014. And the US joined with its allies in booting out dozens of Russian diplomats in the wake of the poisoning of a former Russian spy living in the United Kingdom. It's worth remembering two things, however. In 2016, Russia had to contend with the prospect that Hillary Clinton would win the White House, not Donald Trump -- something of major concern for the Kremlin. And regardless of how frosty relations between Moscow and Washington may be, Trump still appears to have a warm spot in his heart for Putin. Putin's animus toward Clinton was a matter of public record. In 2011, then-Prime Minister Putin blamed the United States -- and then-Secretary of State Clinton -- for stirring up anti-government protests that followed allegations of widespread fraud in parliamentary elections. Clinton's general hawkishness on Russia also riled the Kremlin. Candidate Trump, by contrast, was an open admirer of Putin, even publicly expressing the hope on Twitter that the Kremlin leader would become his "new best friend." That pattern has not changed during Trump's presidency. Most famously, Trump suggested at the Helsinki summit in 2018 that he valued Putin's statements about election interference above that of his own intelligence officials. "I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today," Trump said during a joint news conference with Putin.

By Jeffery Martin

First lady Melania Trump received a "Woman of Distinction" award on Wednesday from Palm Beach Atlantic University (PBA) in Florida, despite concerns from some residents that she was undeserving of the honor. As the award is typically given at the Women of Distinction luncheon to Palm Beach residents who have greatly contributed to the community, some locals have faulted the nominating committee's decision-making process because Trump and her husband, President Donald Trump, have only been official Palm Beach residents since September 2019. "Our first lady is an exquisite human being, a magnificent wife and life partner, a superb mother and an outstanding first lady, who represents us brilliantly in the United States and worldwide," said event co-chairwoman Eileen Burns in January. "Melania is a perfect example of a Woman of Distinction and we are most proud to honor her." Some critics of the first lady voiced their disapproval. "This award has historically gone to women whose character and impact in Palm Beach have shaped the culture of our home," PBAU senior Graysen Boehning told The Hill, "and I have not been convinced that the first lady's character or impact here is worthy of that recognition." "While many students were excited that the school was bringing in the first lady of the United States to speak," Boehning continued, "others felt that her character was not representative of the community of love for people of all backgrounds and beliefs that PBA houses and fosters." "Why would a woman of no achievements have been selected?" wrote Carol Bodeen in a February letter to the editor of The Palm Beach Post. "We seldom hear from her or see her other than attending state affairs or exiting Air Force One with the president."

A classified briefing to House members is said to have angered the president, who complained that Democrats would “weaponize” the disclosure.
By Adam Goldman, Julian E. Barnes, Maggie Haberman and Nicholas Fandos

WASHINGTON — Intelligence officials warned House lawmakers last week that Russia was interfering in the 2020 campaign to try to get President Trump re-elected, five people familiar with the matter said, a disclosure to Congress that angered Mr. Trump, who complained that Democrats would use it against him. The day after the Feb. 13 briefing to lawmakers, the president berated Joseph Maguire, the outgoing acting director of national intelligence, for allowing it to take place, people familiar with the exchange said. Mr. Trump was particularly irritated that Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and the leader of the impeachment proceedings, was at the briefing. During the briefing to the House Intelligence Committee, Mr. Trump’s allies challenged the conclusions, arguing that he had been tough on Russia and that he had strengthened European security. Some intelligence officials viewed the briefing as a tactical error, saying the conclusions could have been delivered in a less pointed manner or left out entirely to avoid angering Republicans. The intelligence official who delivered the briefing, Shelby Pierson, is an aide to Mr. Maguire and has a reputation for speaking bluntly. Though intelligence officials have previously told lawmakers that Russia’s interference campaign was continuing, last week’s briefing included what appeared to be new information: that Russia intended to interfere with the 2020 Democratic primaries as well as the general election. On Wednesday, the president announced that he was replacing Mr. Maguire with Richard Grenell, the ambassador to Germany and an aggressively vocal Trump supporter. And though some current and former officials speculated that the briefing might have played a role in that move, two administration officials said the timing was coincidental. Mr. Grenell had been in discussions with the administration about taking on new roles, they said, and Mr. Trump had never felt a kinship with Mr. Maguire.

Kash Patel, a former acolyte of Rep. Devin Nunes, is now a top adviser in the Office of National Intelligence.
By DANIEL LIPPMAN

Kash Patel, a former top National Security Council official who also played a key role as a Hill staffer in helping Republicans discredit the Russia probe, is now a senior adviser for new acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell, according to four people familiar with the matter. It’s not clear what exact role Patel is playing in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the U.S. intelligence community. He started at ODNI on Thursday, according to an administration official. Patel, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment, joined the National Security Council’s International Organizations and Alliances directorate last February and was promoted to a senior counterterrorism role at the NSC in mid-summer. He had previously worked as Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.)’s top staffer on the House Intelligence Committee and was the lead author of a report questioning the conduct of FBI and DOJ officials investigating Russia’s election interference. Republicans later used the report to bolster arguments that the probe was a plot to take down President Donald Trump. Grenell, who has not served in any U.S. intelligence agency and will also continue as the U.S. ambassador to Germany, will not require Senate confirmation to serve as acting director. Nor will Patel in his new role.

By Kylie Atwood, Zachary Cohen and Kaitlan Collins, CNN

Washington (CNN) Deputy national security adviser Victoria Coates is leaving the National Security Council and going to the Energy Department, according to a statement released by the council on Thursday. The reassignment comes as rumors have been circulating that Coates was the anonymous administration official who wrote an op-ed in The New York Times in 2018 and published a book last November titled: "A Warning" by Anonymous. A senior administration official rejected those rumors Thursday and said that Coates' move has been in the works for some time. "The White House leadership rejects rumors that have circulated recently and does not put any stock in the suggestion that Victoria Coates is the author of Anonymous: A Warning or the related Op-Ed in the New York Times," the senior official said.

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