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May 2019: Get the latest monthly headline news from multiple news sources and news links. Get real facts, real news from major news originations.  

In his first public statement about the special counsel investigation, Robert Mueller explained why his office never considered the president for obstruction of justice. He pointed to policy, saying charging the president with a crime was "not an option." Paula Reid explains.

By Alex Moe and Kyle Stewart
It includes 11 members of the House Judiciary Committee as well as chairs of various House committees. Here are the members of the House of Representatives who favor starting an impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump. There are 49 Democrats and one Republican.

By Lanny J. Davis, Opinion Contributor
Special counsel Robert Mueller is the true man of progressive convictions and principles. He believes in due process of law — even for people who have done such evil they don’t deserve it. The problem is, when it comes to Donald Trump, we progressives find it inconvenient to apply our core due process principles. But we don’t need to choose between due process and Congress doing its duty, as Robert Mueller properly implied is the next step. When prosecutors hold press conferences after an indictment, they fundamentally compromise due process. They omit telling the public that an indictment is meaningless — a one-sided presentation to a grand jury with no cross-examination, no counter-point evidence. It’s no joke when prosecutors joke that they could indict a ham sandwich if they wanted. They could. It is therefore no accident that in the United States, according to the last report of the Department of Justice, in 2012 the conviction rate in U.S. federal courts was 93 percent. Don’t tell me that 93 percent of those convicted by judges or juries were guilty. The percentage of black people in U.S. prisons is about 38 percent of the total population — more than three times the percentage of blacks in the U.S. population. Don’t tell me that is because poor black people are three times more criminal than white people.

By Marshall Cohen
Washington (CNN) - One day after special counsel Robert Mueller publicly refused to exonerate President Donald Trump and hinted at potential impeachment, the President responded Thursday with an avalanche of widely debunked lies about the investigation and its findings. Over a few hours Thursday morning, Trump spread several lies and falsehoods about the Russia investigation, Mueller's findings, the cost of the probe, and the legal restrictions that Mueller faced when grappling with the possibility of a President who broke the law.

By Katelyn Polantz, CNN
Washington (CNN) - The Justice Department on Friday released a transcript of a call from Donald Trump's attorney John Dowd to Rob Kelner, the lawyer for Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn, where he sought information about Flynn's discussions with the special counsel. However, the Justice Department refused to turn over transcripts of Flynn's calls with Russian officials, including then-Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, as was expected after Judge Emmet Sullivan ordered prosecutors to file those publicly. Dowd also wanted to remind Flynn about "the President and his feelings towards Flynn." The transcript was submitted to a federal court in Washington following a judge's order to submit it. The call, which occurred on November 22, 2017, was part of the investigation into potential obstruction by Robert Mueller covered in his lengthy report. RELATED: Michael Flynn told Mueller people connected to Trump admin or Congress attempted to influence him. Regarding the Kislyak call, prosecutors appear to say they don't believe they need to hand over other recording transcripts they may have involving Flynn. But their explanation in the filing Friday isn't clear. "The government further represents that it is not relying on any other recordings, of any person, for purposes of establishing the defendant's guilty or determining his sentence, nor are there other recordings that are part of the sentencing record," the Friday filing says, in the only sentence apparently addressing their response to Sullivan's order for the Flynn transcripts of calls with Russians. Separately, the Justice Department hasn't released any additional parts of the Mueller report that were previously confidential. The judge had told prosecutors they needed to make public redacted sections of the report that pertained to Flynn by today. Prosecutors said Friday that all of the information about Flynn or that Flynn gave to Mueller that made it into the report is already public.

By David Lauter
Impulsiveness defines President Trump’s approach to his job — sudden decisions that often conflict with other actions he has taken, without much apparent concern for how, or whether, they fit together. Thursday night’s announcement that he would impose escalating tariffs against Mexico unless that country blocks Central American migrants from traveling through its territory to the U.S. provides the clearest example yet of that pattern. The move reflected Trump’s deep frustration over his inability to stop migration from Central America. But in lashing out, he’s putting at risk his single biggest asset for reelection — steady growth of the U.S. economy.

By Katelyn Polantz, CNN
Washington (CNN) - The Mueller investigation witness longest known to have refused testifying finally spoke to a secret federal grand jury Friday about conservative political operative Roger Stone, the 2016 Republican National Convention and his relationship with Stone since then and will give more documents to investigators in the coming week, his attorney said. Andrew Miller, who worked for Stone in 2016, testified for two hours before a grand jury in Washington on Friday. The session indicates that a federal grand jury previously used in the Mueller investigation is still interested in Stone, and new charges or cases could be on the horizon. Separately on Friday, prosecutors made their boldest statement yet that they looked closely at whether Stone had violated the law against hacking while he was in contact with Russians online and WikiLeaks in 2016. Miller also testified Friday about what he knew of Stone's contact with Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. The documents prosecutors have requested pertain to Stone's schedules during the 2016 political convention. "It's hard to say where they're going on this," his attorney Paul Kamenar said outside the courthouse about the ongoing investigation, which has an unknown scope but was previously handled by special counsel Robert Mueller. "There could very well be a continuing investigation" of Russian interference in the 2016 election, but Miller did not have much information to help prosecutors, Kamenar said. Miller did not know of contact between Assange and Stone, Kamenar said. Stone and Assange have already been charged with crimes, and Stone has pleaded not guilty to obstruction, witness intimidation and lying charges. The grand jury at this point is not able to use Miller's testimony to build those open cases, and instead under Department of Justice policy the grand jury must work toward new charges. Miller said he worked for Stone -- "Uncle Roger" he called him after his grand jury session Friday -- for 13 years, as a driver and helping to manage Stone's emails and website. He has not worked with Stone since the 2016 election, his attorney said. He does not need to testify again to the grand jury, his attorney said he was told. Miller held off testifying for a year as he challenged the constitutionality of Mueller's investigation, and the courts denied him.

By Kayla Tausche, Tucker Higgins
President Donald Trump’s Treasury secretary and top trade advisor opposed his surprise plan to impose new tariffs on Mexican imports, according to a source close to the White House who said the idea was pushed by immigration hawk Stephen Miller. The announcement came as Trump was “riled up” by conservative radio commentary about the recent surge in border crossings, according to the source. Trump made the announcement Thursday night on Twitter. He said he will impose 5% tariffs on all Mexican imports starting June 10 and escalate them to 25% “until such time as illegal migrants coming through Mexico, and into our Country, STOP.” Anticipation that the tariffs combined with an escalating U.S.-China trade war could cool global growth sent equities sharply lower Friday, with the major U.S. indexes off by 1% in afternoon trading. The opposition by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer marked a rare moment of unity from two top administration officials with starkly different economic ideologies. Miller’s role was confirmed by the source close to the White House and a person briefed on the matter.

By Don Lee
What started out two years ago as an effort by President Trump to wring better terms from China on the nuts-and-bolts of foreign trade now threatens to become a far wider and more ominous confrontation. The conflict continues to be framed as a “trade war” between the world’s two biggest economies — as Washington and Beijing pursue an escalating series of tariff hikes and other retaliatory measures. Even as Trump moved Thursday to open a new, potential damaging trade war with Mexico, however, the conflict with China has widened beyond the original trade-based issues. Beneath the surface, a new tone has begun to emerge since trade talks broke down in early May and Trump ratcheted up tariffs on imported goods from China, an action met with retaliatory duties from Beijing. Officials on both sides of the Pacific have begun to portray the U.S.-China relationship in nationalistic and emotion-charged terms that suggest a much deeper conflict. Recently, for example, a private group of American economists and trade experts with long-standing experience in China traveled to Beijing, expecting their usual technical give-and-take with Chinese government officials.

By Oliver Darcy, CNN Business
New York (CNN Business) - Fox News on Friday afternoon stood by Laura Ingraham after she defended a white supremacist and several other fringe people who have been banned or disciplined by large social media companies. Ingraham's defense of the extremists on her prime time Fox show "The Ingraham Angle" came during a segment on Thursday about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's criticism of Facebook for not removing a video doctored to make it appear she was drunk and slurring her words. Ingraham said calls for Facebook to remove the video were a "pretext to be able to silence voices." Later during the segment, Ingraham displayed a graphic showing images of people she characterized as "prominent voices censored on social media." "Facebook now, what do they monitor? Quote, hate? That sounds good until you realize hate," Ingraham said. "And these are some of the people they've shunned."

By Jeremy Diamond, Kevin Liptak and Kaitlan Collins, CNN
(CNN) - President Donald Trump overruled a pair of his top economic advisers in deciding to move ahead with his tariff threat against Mexico over immigration. And as he faced a stock market slide and opprobrium from key Republican senators on Friday, the President held firm, tweeting: "It's time!" Trump's drastic tariff threat sent shockwaves through Washington, sparking concerns inside the White House and on Capitol Hill that a new trade offensive would scuttle efforts to ratify a replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement -- and drag down the US economy, which relies heavily on Mexican-produced cars, machines and foodstuffs, just as the 2020 campaign is taking off. But incensed by a spike in migrants crossing illegally into the US this week, the President ignored warnings from US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin with his decision to move ahead Thursday with a vow to impose import duties on all goods from Mexico until steps are taken to curb the the flow of migrants. Lighthizer, who has been working to build support for the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement in Congress, warned Trump the move would hamper ratification of the trade deal, while Mnuchin warned Trump the move would roil the stock market, multiple sources told CNN. And when the announcement came down Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence was on Air Force Two, returning from a trip to Canada to assure the prime minister the administration was all-in on the trade deal. The deliberations pitted Lighthizer and Mnuchin against a trio of influential presidential advisers: senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, trade adviser Peter Navarro and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, who all supported Trump's tariff gambit, the sources said.

The idea originated with a Republican redistricting specialist said the question would create an advantage for "Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites." By Pete Williams
WASHINGTON — Trump administration witnesses were deliberately misleading when they testified about the origins of a plan to include a citizenship question on the coming census, opponents of the idea said Thursday, citing recently discovered evidence. While the government has maintained that adding the question was intended to improve enforcement of the Voting Rights Act, the driving force was actually a desire to get more Republicans elected to state legislatures and the House of Representatives, the ACLU said in new court filings. The Supreme Court is now considering whether the Commerce Department acted properly in ordering the Census Bureau to include a question about citizenship on the 2020 census form that goes to every U.S. household, despite warnings from populous states that doing so would actually make the count less accurate. The case was argued April 23, but the ACLU on Thursday notified the court of the discovery.

Officers were told to keep a warship named for the late Sen. John McCain out of President Trump's view during his Memorial Day weekend visit to Japan, CBS News has confirmed. CBS News senior national security correspondent David Martin reports that a U.S. Indo-Pacific Command official wrote an email to Navy and Air Force officials before Mr. Trump's arrival. It included instructions for the proper landing areas for helicopters and preparations for the USS Wasp, the ship on which the president was to speak. The official then issued a third instruction: "USS John McCain needs to be out of sight," according to the email, which was first obtained by The Wall Street Journal. The Washington Post and Associated Press also confirmed its existence.

By Katelyn Polantz, CNN
Washington (CNN) - The longtime political stuntman Roger Stone faced an exasperated judge on Thursday, as his lawyers failed to gain traction with bold legal arguments criticizing special counsel Robert Mueller before Stone's November criminal trial. At the two-and-a-half-hour court hearing, Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the DC District Court didn't rule on requests Stone has made to puncture the case against him but got his legal team to admit flaws in almost all of their arguments. Stone's team, however, still appears to have hope that they may get access to redacted parts of the Mueller report that describe Stone's case. Jackson floated the possibility that Stone could potentially see some some parts of the Mueller report that would be "harmless" and repeat details his team is already learning through evidence they've received in the case. Prosecutors have fought against this, saying giving unredacted parts of the sought-after document to the defense team would reveal how they plan to try his case. Jackson is one of the few people in Washington who have read unredacted portions of the report outside of the Justice Department. The redacted portions of the report about Stone are kept secret because they could influence his case before it goes to a jury -- with the Justice Department marking those redacted sections as "harm to ongoing matter(s)."
Stone is accused of lying to Congress, obstructing a congressional investigation and intimidating a congressional witness about his efforts to reach WikiLeaks in 2016 over the publication of hacked emails that could hurt then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and help candidate Donald Trump, a friend of his. He has pleaded not guilty.

By Chris Mills Rodrigo
New filings in a case challenging adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census allege that gaining a GOP redistricting advantage motivated the addition of the question. The documents, revealed Thursday, focus on the role of late Republican redistricting specialist Thomas Hofeller in orchestrating the addition of and offering an explanation for adding the citizenship question. In 2015, Hofeller conducted a study about a citizenship question which concluded that it would significantly harm the political power of Latino communities and be “advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites.” The documents, which were filed in the states' initial lawsuit in federal court in New York, allege that in 2017 Hofeller assisted the Justice Department in writing a letter to the Department of Commerce requesting the addition of the citizenship question to the 2020 Census. The Trump administration claims that asking the question is necessary in order to enforce the Voting Rights Act. Common Cause, which obtained the documents during discovery in a North Carolina partisan gerrymandering lawsuit, said the allegations contradict the administration's justification for the census change. “The evidence reveals that the plan to add the citizenship question was hatched by the Republicans’ chief redistricting mastermind to create an electoral advantage for Republicans and non-Hispanic whites," organization president Karen Hobert Flynn said. "This contradicts testimony by Administration officials that they wanted to add the question to benefit Latino voters, when in fact the opposite was true.” The Supreme Court is currently considering the case of the citizenship question. It has been the subject of several legal challenges, and three federal judges have blocked the question from being added to the decennial survey.

By Harmeet Kaur, CNN
(CNN) - A New York teacher singled out African-American students and cast them as slaves in a mock "auction" as part of a social studies lesson in March. An investigation by the New York Attorney General's office found that the reenactment had a "profoundly negative effect on all of the students present -- especially the African-American students." "Every young person -- regardless of race -- deserves the chance to attend school free of harassment, bias, and discrimination," Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement. "Lessons designed to separate children on the basis of race have no place in New York classrooms, or in classrooms throughout this country." The incident happened in two fifth-grade social studies classes at The Chapel School -- a private school in Westchester County -- about 15 miles north of midtown Manhattan. A teacher asked all of the African-American students in each class to raise their hands and then instructed them to go stand in the hallway, where the teacher placed imaginary chains on their necks, wrists and ankles. Those students were then instructed to walk back into the classroom and line up against the wall. The teacher then proceeded to conduct a simulated auction of the students in front of the rest of the class, in an attempt to depict the sale of enslaved Africans to white plantation owners that happened in the 18th and 19th centuries. The teacher who conducted the lesson was fired. As a result of the investigation, James announced in a statement that the school would have to make significant changes to the way it approaches diversity and inclusion. They include hiring a chief diversity officer, increasing minority representation in the faculty and committing new financial aid to increase diversity in the student body, among other measures. The school said in a statement that it has agreed to comply with the changes.

The associate chair of the Democratic National Committee is the second Democrat to announce a bid for Graham’s spot.
By Dominique Mosbergen and Hayley Miller
Another Democrat is throwing his hat into the ring to challenge Republican Lindsey Graham for his South Carolina Senate seat. Jaime Harrison, the former chairman of the state’s Democratic Party, announced his bid Wednesday in a video shared on Twitter. “Lindsey Graham can’t lead us in any direction because he traded his moral compass for petty political gain,” Harrison said in the video. “He’s forgotten about the people he represents: you. I want to move us ― all of us ― in the right direction.” “I remember a time when senators helped the people they represent,” he continued. “I want to bring the spirit of helping back. And that’s why I am running for the United States Senate.” I may not be a superhero, but I am a proud South Carolinian, and I’m ready to fight for a better future for our state and our country. I hope you are, too. Find out how you can #JoinJaime and get involved: https://t.co/2jIqtqbKAB pic.twitter.com/zTjktJ1RpA — Jaime Harrison (@harrisonjaime) May 29, 2019. Harrison, now the associate chair of the Democratic National Committee, appeared on MSNBC on Tuesday night to tease the formal announcement of his Senate run. Speaking to host Rachel Maddow, Harrison lambasted Graham as a political “chameleon” who has “changed his colors” to pander to the whims of President Donald Trump. Graham’s behavior during the Trump era “makes you question his character,” Harrison said. “I used to think this was a guy who was a statesman, a guy who could stand above the fray and help solve the issues. But I’ve seen that he’s what [political commentator] George Will called ‘a political windsock.’”

By Andrew Hay
TAOS, N.M. (Reuters) - A U.S. group building what it claims is the first private wall on the Mexican border wall on Wednesday said it had stopped construction after a New Mexico town ruled the project lacked necessary permits. Sunland Park, New Mexico, on Tuesday ordered We Build the Wall to stop erecting the steel barrier on private land in an area that the group calls “ground zero for illegal drugs, migrants and human sex slaves coming across.” Sunland Park is located in the southeast corner of New Mexico, on the Mexican border and about 9 miles northwest of El Paso, Texas. The group on its website, in describing its mission, says: “If the Democrats won’t provide the funding for what the American people voted for in 2016 then we the people will.” The group’s list of members of its advisory board and various committees and operations includes Erik Prince, the former Navy SEAL who founded the controversial private security firm Blackwater; former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach; and former Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo, among others. It has raised over $23 million on its gofundmepage and vowed to resume construction.

By Devan Cole, CNN
Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump launched a furious broadside Thursday morning against Robert Mueller the day after the special counsel discussed the findings of his report into Russian interference in the 2016 election and the investigation's inability to clear the President of obstruction of justice. After a relatively muted response to Mueller's statement on Wednesday -- Trump at one point tweeted that there was "insufficient evidence" to rosecute him -- Trump unleashed a lengthy diatribe against Mueller on Twitter and at the White House, calling the special counsel conflicted and disputing US intelligence findings that the Kremlin interfered in the 2016 election to aid Trump's candidacy. "No, Russia did not help me get elected," Trump told reporters at the White House. "You know who got me elected? You know who got me elected? I got me elected. Russia didn't help me at all. Russia, if anything, I think, helped the other side." Trump was later pressed by a reporter on Mueller's decision not to make a determination on obstruction or charge the President with a crime. "There were no charges. None," Trump said, directing the reporter to "read volume one" of the report, the section that outlines the investigation into collusion with the Russians during the 2016 election. The reporter responded that Mueller couldn't say Trump was guilty because, as he said Wednesday, it would be "unfair" to accuse somebody of a crime when there could be no court resolution while he was in office.

By Eileen Sullivan
WASHINGTON — President Trump tweeted on Thursday that Russia helped “me to get elected,” and then quickly retracted the idea. “No, Russia did not help me get elected,” Mr. Trump told reporters as he departed the White House for Colorado Springs. “I got me elected.” He spoke less than an hour after his Twitter post. The original comment, a clause in one of several Twitter posts this morning, is an extraordinary admission from Mr. Trump, who has avoided saying publicly that Russia helped him win the presidency in 2016 through its election interference. American intelligence agencies and federal prosecutors have long concluded that Russia tried to influence voters. Russia, Russia, Russia! That’s all you heard at the beginning of this Witch Hunt Hoax...And now Russia has disappeared because I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected. It was a crime that didn’t exist. So now the Dems and their partner, the Fake News Media,.....  — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 30, 2019.

By Eugene Kiely
Special counsel Robert Mueller devoted much of his 10-minute remarks on May 29 to explaining why the special counsel’s office did not reach a determination about whether President Donald Trump committed obstruction of justice. Democrats have criticized Attorney General William P. Barr for mischaracterizing the findings on that point in Mueller’s report. Here we compare what Mueller said in his remarks with how Barr has characterized the special counsel’s report and Mueller’s decision not to make a determination on obstruction charges. In his remarks at the Department of Justice, Mueller spoke for the first time about his two-year investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. Mueller reiterated that Russia had engaged in “multiple, systematic efforts” to damage Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, but “there was insufficient evidence to charge a broader conspiracy” between the Russia government and any individuals associated with the Trump campaign. He said the “central allegation” against the Russians “deserves the attention of every American.”

By Yun Li
China has halted purchases of American soybeans in another chess move in the escalated trade war with the U.S., according to a Bloomberg report. Chinese buyers have stopped ordering and don’t expect to resume the purchases due to the disagreement over trade between the world’s two largest economies, the Bloomberg report said, citing people familiar with the matter. They also said China currently has no plans to cancel previous orders. U.S. soybean farmers have taken a hard hit from the trade tensions as the value of soybean exports to China fell 74% to $3.1 billion in 2018 from about $12.2 billion the previous year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Trump administration last week announced a $16 billion trade aid program for American farmers impacted by retaliatory tariffs. Soybean futures tanked to the lowest since 2009 on May 13 as the trade war heated up.

By Christina Wilkie, Amanda Macias, Marty Steinberg
President Donald Trump insisted on Thursday that he had nothing to do with keeping the USS John S. McCain hidden from the site of his weekend speech in Japan. He said whoever had done so was “well-meaning.” “I wasn’t involved. I would not have done that. I was very angry with John McCain because he killed health care,” Trump said, referring to the late senator’s deciding vote that killed a Senate GOP bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act. “I was not a big fan of John McCain in any way, shape or form,” Trump continued in comments to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House. “Now, somebody did it because they thought I didn’t like him, OK? And they were well-meaning. I will say, I didn’t know anything about it. I would never have done that.” Trump’s second denial came after The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that the White House wanted the Navy to move the destroyer “out of sight,” citing an email between military officials. The ship is named for the late Arizona senator and his father and grandfather, who were admirals. Trump initially denied any knowledge of the effort in a tweet Wednesday night.

By Barbara Starr, Ryan Browne and Kate Sullivan, CNN
(CNN)President Donald Trump and John McCain's long-running feud is back in the spotlight following reports that White House and lower-level US Navy officials traded emails about keeping a warship named from the late senator's father and grandfather out of sight ahead of the President's trip to Japan. Two Navy officials confirmed to CNN Wednesday night that the White House Military Office asked lower-level US Navy officials about keeping the ship out of view. One of the Navy officials further clarified Thursday morning that the discussion included obscuring the ship or moving it, which was not practical because the ship was under repairs at the time. "Once leadership heard about it, they said knock it off," a senior Navy official told CNN. The ship ultimately was not moved nor was anything done to obscure McCain's name, said Cmdr. Clay Doss, a spokesman for the 7th Fleet, and Trump tweeted Wednesday night that he was "not informed about anything having to do with the Navy Ship USS John S. McCain." But the emails underscore Trump's extraordinary and bitter personal feud with McCain, with whom he frequently sparred when the Arizona Republican was alive and even after he passed away from brain cancer in August. The Wall Street Journal first reported the discussions about moving the ship. The President ultimately spoke to troops at a Memorial Day event aboard the USS Wasp in Yokosuka, Japan.
The Journal reported Wednesday that a tarp was put in place to cover the ship's name since it could not be moved due to repairs, but three Navy officials speaking to CNN pushed back on this claim.

By Louis Jacobson
"In fact, ‘high Crimes and Misdemeanors’ is not defined in the Constitution and does not require corresponding statutory charges. The context implies conduct that violates the public trust—and that view is echoed by the Framers of the Constitution and early American scholars." — Justin Amash on Monday, May 20th, 2019 in a tweet. What counts as a high crime or misdemeanor for impeachment? Justin Amash got it right By Louis Jacobson on Wednesday, May 29th, 2019 at 11:50 a.m. Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan broke with his fellow Republicans in a series of tweets that suggested President Donald Trump might deserve impeachment by the House. One of Amash’s tweets caught our eye, because it addressed the constitutional definition of impeachable offenses. In his tweet, Amash noted that the definition of "high crimes and misdemeanors" in the Constitution is relatively fluid, but that it has generally been seen as a breach of the public trust: "In fact, ‘high Crimes and Misdemeanors’ is not defined in the Constitution and does not require corresponding statutory charges. The context implies conduct that violates the public trust—and that view is echoed by the Framers of the Constitution and early American scholars." In fact, “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” is not defined in the Constitution and does not require corresponding statutory charges. The context implies conduct that violates the public trust—and that view is echoed by the Framers of the Constitution and early American scholars.

By Devan Cole, CNN
Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump launched a furious broadside Thursday morning against Robert Mueller the day after the special counsel discussed the findings of his report into Russian interference in the 2016 election and the investigation's inability to clear the President of obstruction of justice. After a relatively muted response to Mueller's statement on Wednesday -- Trump at one point tweeted that there was "insufficient evidence" to prosecute him -- Trump unleashed a lengthy diatribe against Mueller on Twitter and at the White House, calling the special counsel conflicted and disputing US intelligence findings that the Kremlin interfered in the 2016 election to aid Trump's candidacy. "No, Russia did not help me get elected," Trump told reporters at the White House. "You know who got me elected? You know who got me elected? I got me elected. Russia didn't help me at all. Russia, if anything, I think, helped the other side." Asked if Mueller had behaved honorably, Trump said, "I think he's totally conflicted," referring to Mueller's brief membership at a Trump golf club in Virginia.

By Yun Li, CNBC
The biggest Chinese newspaper explicitly warned the U.S. on Wednesday that China would cut off rare earth minerals as a countermeasure in the escalated trade battle, using a history-laden expression the publication has used ahead of full-on wars. “We advise the U.S. side not to underestimate the Chinese side’s ability to safeguard its development rights and interests. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!” the People’s Daily said in a commentary titled “United States, don’t underestimate China’s ability to strike back.” The publication is the official newspaper of the Communist Party of China. The phrase “Don’t say we didn’t warn you” has been used before by the People’s Daily in 1962 before China’s border war with India and ahead of the 1979 China-Vietnam War. “Will rare earths become a counter weapon for China to hit back against the pressure the United States has put on for no reason at all? The answer is no mystery,” the paper said. The trade conflict between the world’s two largest economies escalated quickly this month with both sides slapping tariffs on billions of dollars worth of each other’s goods. China’s threat to restrict rare earth mineral sales to the U.S. came after President Donald Trump blacklisted Chinese telecom giant Huawei, which led to many chipmakers and internet companies cutting ties with the company.

By Carl Hulse
WASHINGTON — When it came to filling a Supreme Court vacancy during the 2016 presidential election year, Senator Mitch McConnell had a constant refrain: Let the people decide. But should a high court seat become open in 2020, Mr. McConnell has already decided himself. “Oh, we’d fill it,” Mr. McConnell, the Kentucky Republican and majority leader, gleefully told a friendly Chamber of Commerce audience back home in Paducah on Tuesday. Mr. McConnell regularly celebrates his history-altering 2016 decision to thwart President Barack Obama from filling a vacancy that occurred with 11 months remaining in his term, saying the seat should be kept open until a new president could be elected and inaugurated. But he has been laying the groundwork to change course ever since Donald J. Trump was elected president. Tuesday’s remarks were only his most definitive: He would not be bound by the standard he himself set in preventing Judge Merrick B. Garland from being seated on the high court. The comments immediately drew howls of blatant hypocrisy from Democrats and progressive allies. They said it underscored their view that Mr. McConnell was unprincipled and acted out of purely partisan motives in 2016 when he single-handedly decided to blockade Mr. Obama’s choice to replace Antonin Scalia after the court icon’s death that February.

By Michael McGough
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia had barely breathed his last in February 2016 when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced that the Republican-controlled Senate wouldn't act on any replacement proposed by President Obama. "The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice," McConnell said. "Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president." As the Los Angeles Times noted in an editorial at the time, McConnell’s justification for keeping the Scalia seat open was “self-serving sophistry.” We added: “The American people do have a voice in any nomination Obama makes. They ‘spoke’ when they elected him to a second term that has 11 months remaining. His authority to nominate Supreme Court justices is no more diminished by his supposed lame-duck status than any of his other constitutional powers.” Alas, McConnell’s stonewall held. Because the Senate refused to act on Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to succeed Scalia, the seat was held open until a new president, Donald Trump nominated Judge Neil M. Gorsuch, who was confirmed largely on party lines. It was obvious from the start that McConnell’s invocation of the “principle” that Supreme Court seats shouldn’t be filled in an election year was bogus. Now it develops that it was a principle he’s willing to abandon to serve his party’s interests. On Tuesday, McConnell was asked at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon in Paducah, Ky., about the possibility that a Supreme Court justice might die next year. The questioner asked: “What will your position be on filling that spot?" Ted Barrett of CNN reported on what happened next: “The leader took a long sip of what appeared to be iced tea before announcing with a smile, ‘Oh, we'd fill it,’ triggering loud laughter from the audience.” It was a Mr. Burns moment that has brought cries of “Hypocrisy!” from McConnell’s critics. His spokesman and defenders in the media argued that no hypocrisy was involved because the actual “principle” guiding McConnell is that Supreme Court nominees shouldn’t be confirmed in an election year in which the Senate and the White House are controlled by different parties.

By Eileen Sullivan
WASHINGTON — President Trump on Thursday acknowledged for the first time that Russia helped “me to get elected,” and then quickly retracted the idea. “No, Russia did not help me get elected,” Mr. Trump told reporters as he departed the White House for Colorado Springs. “I got me elected.” He spoke less than an hour after his Twitter post. The original comment, a clause in one of several Twitter posts this morning, is an extraordinary admission from Mr. Trump, who has avoided saying publicly that Russia helped him win the presidency in 2016 through its election interference. American intelligence agencies and federal prosecutors have long concluded that Russia tried to influence voters.

Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large
Washington (CNN) - Robert Mueller ended his two-year stint as special counsel with a bang disguised as a whimper: In a 10-minute statement announcing his resignation and the closure of the special counsel's office, the former FBI director sent a very clear message to anyone listening: I didn't charge Donald Trump with obstruction because I couldn't.  "The Special Counsel's Office is part of the Department of Justice and, by regulation, it was bound by that Department policy," said Mueller, referencing an Office of Legal Counsel ruling that a siting president cannot be indicted. "Charging the President with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider." And just in case you missed what Mueller was driving at with that quote, he was even more explicit later in his remarks. "The [OLC] opinion says that the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing," Mueller added. So, to summarize: Mueller says the special counsel's hands were tied by the OLC opinion when it came to charging Trump with obstructing the Russia probe. Mueller notes that "the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing." Oh, whatever could he mean???? To date, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has held off the increasing number of voices within the House Democratic caucus calling for impeachment, insisting that Trump wants to be impeached because it will turn him into a victim and allow him to make the election about alleged Democratic overreach rather than about health care, immigration and so on.  It's a sound political stance -- one reinforced by CNN polling that shows that almost 6 in 10 Americans don't want to see Trump impeached and more than 4 in 10 who think Democrats have already done too much investigating of the President.

By Mark Moore
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said North Korea’s recent ballistic missile launches violate a United Nations Security Council resolution, breaking with President Trump. “The short-range missile, is that a violation? Yes,” he told reporters Wednesday while on a trip to Asia. “These were short-range missiles and those are a violation of the UNSCR.​”​ Both national security adviser John Bolton and Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo considered the launches a violation, but Trump downplayed their significance during a state visit to Japan over the weekend.

By Lisa de Moraes
Facebook’s refusal to take down a doctored video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaking so as to make her look drunk, demonstrates it has no issue with “lying to the public” and working to interfere with elections, Pelosi charged on Wednesday. “They are putting up something that they know is false,” Pelosi said in an interview with San Francisco public radio station KQED. She suggested Washington get smart as to what Facebook is up to. “We have said all along, poor Facebook, they were unwittingly exploited by the Russians,” she said. “They have proven, by not taking down something they know is false, that they were willing enablers of the Russian interference in our election.” The doctored video of remarks Pelosi made at a presser last Thursday, in which she suggested President Donald Trump needs “an intervention” after he stormed out of his White House meeting to discuss infrastructure with her and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. It has been widely shared on social media since last week, including by President Donald Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani.

By Colby Itkowitz and Dan Lamothe
The White House asked Navy officials to obscure the USS John S. McCain while President Trump was visiting Japan, Pentagon and White House officials said Wednesday night. A senior Navy official confirmed that he was aware someone at the White House sent a message to service officials in the Pacific requesting that the USS John McCain be kept out of the picture while the president was there. That led to photographs taken Friday of a tarp obscuring the McCain name, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation. When senior Navy officials grasped what was happening, they directed Navy personnel who were present to stop, the senior official said. The tarp was removed on Saturday, he added. The crew of the McCain also was not invited to Trump’s visit, which occurred on the USS Wasp. But a Navy official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said it was because the crew was released from duty for the long holiday weekend along with sailors from another ship, the USS Stethem.

By Steve Chapman Contact Reporter Chicago Tribune
After months of hearing Donald Trump portray special counsel Robert Mueller as a crazed Democratic attack dog, it may have surprised partisans to see the sober and scrupulously precise lawyer who finally spoke for himself Wednesday morning. His statement won’t prevent the president from continuing to brazenly claim total exoneration. But it underlines the disgraceful picture of Trump that can be found in the special counsel’s voluminous report. The most important words that Mueller uttered about his office’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election were the ones he saved for last, an implicit condemnation of Trump: “I will close by reiterating the central allegation of our indictments: that there were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election, and that allegation deserves the attention of every American.” The most important American who has exhibited indifference to that allegation, of course, is the one who bears the chief responsibility for protecting the nation from such attacks: the president. The report made abundantly clear that the Russian government and its confederates tried to manipulate events and perceptions to get the outcome Vladimir Putin wanted. Putin did get what he wanted, and Trump’s presidency has been a boon to the Kremlin. As Mueller reminded his audience, his investigators did not clear the president of obstructing justice. They operated on the premise, based on firm Justice Department policy, that indicting him was not an option. The absence of an indictment, Mueller made clear, does not mean an absence of evidence of Trump’s guilt.

In 2016, Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell R-Ky., refused to hold a hearing on President Obama's Supreme Court nominee, saying it was an election year, and the American people "deserved a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice." That was then. Speaking to an audience in Kentucky Monday, McConnell said should a vacancy occur on the court in 2020, another presidential election year, he would allow a vote. Asked at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon "should a Supreme Court justice die next year, what will your position be on filling that spot?" McConnell responded with a grin, "Oh, we'd fill it." The comments were first reported by CNN. McConnell has made similar pronouncements in the past, noting that the nomination of Merrick Garland by Obama came during a time of divided government, and should a vacancy occur with President Trump in the White House and the Senate also under GOP control, circumstances would be different. Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. responded to McConnell on Twitter, calling him "a hypocrite" - Hey Mitch you hypocrite what happen to letting the American people decide?

David Jackson and John Fritze, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – Before they saw President Donald Trump, the thousands of supporters who attended his rally earlier this month in Pennsylvania first saw a symbol of the presidency: the iconic blue-and-white jet instantly recognizable as Air Force One. As the presidential plane approached the small airport where Trump would speak, audio of air traffic controllers clearing it to land was piped through speakers. A senior Trump campaign aide posted a video of the plane taxiing up to the stage, where it would remain throughout the rally as a dramatic visual backdrop. Trump's trip to Pennsylvania was only the latest example in which he has relied on Air Force One for campaigning, raising long-standing questions about how taxpayer money is allocated for political travel. The plane, usually a Boeing 747, has carried Trump to rallies, fundraisers and events billed as official business in states such as Pennsylvania and Florida that are crucial to his hopes for reelection in 2020.

The comment, however, diverges from his decision in 2016 to not consider President Obama’s Supreme Court nomination of Merrick Garland following the sudden death of Justice Antonin Scalia earlier that year.
By Rebecca Shabad and Frank Thorp V
WASHINGTON — If a Supreme Court vacancy emerges next year, Mitch McConnell will fill it, the Senate majority leader said Tuesday. The comment, however, diverges from his decision in 2016 to not consider President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nomination of Merrick Garland after the sudden death of Justice Antonin Scalia earlier that year. At a chamber luncheon in Paducah, Kentucky, on Tuesday, McConnell was asked by a member of the audience, “Should a Supreme Court justice die next year, what will your position be on filling that spot?" “I would fill it,” he responded, smirking, which drew loud laughter. McConnell said that while the 2017 GOP tax cuts could be repealed by future Congresses, judicial confirmations are more permanent. “What can’t be undone is a lifetime appointment," McConnell said. “That’s the most important thing that we have done for the country, which cannot be undone.” The majority leader said earlier that the biggest decision he had made in his Senate career was his choice not to consider Garland’s nomination. “I made the call in 2016 that we would not fill the vacancy created by the death of Justice Scalia in the last year of the previous administration, a decision of enormous consequences,” he said. “You may have recalled the level of controversy that it produced. I thought I was on pretty firm ground because if I knew the shoe had been on the other foot, the guys on the other side would have done the same thing. That provided an opportunity for the American people to speak up about who they wanted to make that decision.” In a tweet Tuesday night, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called McConnell a hypocrite.

By Ted Barrett, CNN
(CNN) - Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday if a Supreme Court vacancy occurs during next year's presidential election, he would work to confirm a nominee appointed by President Donald Trump. That's a move that is in sharp contrast to his decision to block President Barack Obama's nominee to the high court following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016. At the time, he cited the right of the voters in the presidential election to decide whether a Democrat or a Republican would fill that opening, a move that infuriated Democrats. Speaking at a Paducah Chamber of Commerce luncheon in Kentucky, McConnell was asked by an attendee, "Should a Supreme Court justice die next year, what will your position be on filling that spot?" The leader took a long sip of what appeared to be iced tea before announcing with a smile, "Oh, we'd fill it," triggering loud laughter from the audience. David Popp, a spokesman for McConnell, said the difference between now and three years ago, when McConnell famously blocked Judge Merrick Garland's ascension to the Supreme Court, is that at that time the White House was controlled by Democrat and the Senate by a Republican. This time, both are controlled by the GOP. McConnell's remarks were viewed by CNN on the website of WPSD TV in Paducah. McConnell hinted at this position during an October appearance on Fox News Sunday when host Chris Wallace pressed the senator on whether he would fill a vacancy should one occur in 2020.

Another House Republican on Tuesday thwarted attempts to pass a bipartisan disaster aid package, further delaying $19 billion in emergency relief and frustrating lawmakers whose states were hit by devastating hurricanes, wildfires and flooding. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), who objected to the bill's passage during a voice vote, demanded that the vote be held after the House returns from recess next week — making it all but impossible that President Donald Trump can sign the package before early June. "If the Speaker of this House felt that this was must-pass legislation, the speaker of this House should have called a vote on this legislation before sending its members on recess for 10 days," Massie said on the floor, flanked by fellow conservative, Rep. Alex Mooney (R-W.V.), who also objected to the bill's passage. The objection by some House conservatives is now the sole hurdle to clearing the $19 billion package, which had been stalled for nearly six months until an 11th hour deal in the Senate last Thursday. House Democrats — including Rep. Sanford Bishop, who flew from southwest Georgia to try to move the bill — skewered Republicans for halting the bill, which has the blessing from their own GOP leaders.

By Meghan Keneally
The realities of a recent string of abortion restrictions may become even clearer in Missouri on Friday as the state threatens to close its last remaining abortion clinic.  Planned Parenthood officials announced they are filing a lawsuit Tuesday for a restraining order to stop the state from closing their one clinic in the state, which is located in St. Louis. "This is not a drill. This is not a warning. This is real and it is a public health crisis," Dr. Leana Wen, the president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said on a call with reporters Tuesday.  The license for the Planned Parenthood clinic, issued by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, is set to expire on Friday, and if it is not renewed, the clinic would have to cease operations. Planned Parenthood officials said they applied to have the license renewed, but the Associated Press reports that Planned Parenthood pointed to state officials who reportedly said they are investigating "a large number of possible deficiencies," though no further details were given.

Trump supporters – and even Donald Trump himself – love to tell us that Hillary Clinton broke the law with her use of private emails, and to this day they are still calling for her to be locked up. That jail cell might get pretty full though, considering that there have now been EIGHT Trump officials who have been busted using private emails for official work business. Betsy DeVos, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, and several others have been doing the same thing that they want Clinton imprisoned for, and yet conservatives remain silent about these new email revelations. Ring of Fire’s Farron Cousins discusses this.

Three decades before he railed against the Trump campaign, the future congressman prosecuted an FBI agent who was seduced by a Soviet spy.
On September 25, 1984, three officials from the Soviet Consulate in San Francisco departed for San Francisco Airport to meet with their counterparts from Seattle and exchange confidential “pouched” diplomatic materials. This exchange happened every other Tuesday, and each time, the Soviets were tailed by a van full of San Francisco-based FBI counterintelligence officials. Although the FBI knew the Soviets were aware of this surveillance, the Bureau didn’t try to conceal it either, according to the Los Angeles Times, which recounted this event from later court testimony. But this Tuesday in 1984 was different. Normally, there were only two Soviet officials meeting the Seattle diplomats at the airport, not three. And in addition to the usual FBI surveillance team, the Bureau had assigned 20 more agents to track the movement of the third man, Aleksander Grishin, an accredited diplomat—and a Soviet intelligence officer. When the Soviet officials entered the airport, with FBI agents watching, Grishin detached himself to make a call at a pay phone. Hundreds of miles down the coast, FBI counterintelligence agents working out of a makeshift base of operations in a Los Angeles motel listened as Svetlana Ogorodnikov, a 34-year-old Soviet émigré who had been on the FBI’s radar, picked up the phone in her Hollywood apartment. It was Grishin. Speaking in coded Russian, he asked if she had made arrangements with an “acquaintance” to fly to Europe that October. Ogorodnikov confirmed she had.

By Chris Mills Rodrigo
Fox News Host Chris Wallace on Sunday challenged Sen. Lindsey Graham over the South Carolina Republican's past comments on ignoring subpoenas being grounds for impeachment. "You call all of what’s going on in Washington a political circus, but you took a different view back when you were leading the impeachment effort against [former President] Clinton back in the late '90s," Wallace said on "Fox News Sunday." "At that time, you said that any president, and you talked specifically about Clinton and [former President] Nixon, who defied Congress when it came to subpoenas was in danger of impeachment," he added. Wallace then played a video of Graham in 1998 saying, "You’re becoming the judge and jury. It is not your job to tell us what we need. It is your job to comply with things that we need to provide oversight over you.” "Question: Why is it an impeachable offense for Clinton or Nixon back then to ignore congressional subpoenas, but it’s OK for President Trump to do now?" the host asked. "Well, there’s two things here," Graham said. "The Mueller investigation was a special counsel appointed to find out if the president committed a crime, if he colluded with the Russians, if he obstructed justice. The president gave 1.4 million documents to [special counsel Robert] Muller. Everybody around the president was allowed to testify. He never claimed executive privilege. He complied, no cover-up, worked with Mueller. Mueller’s the final word on this for me."

By Chris Morran
Presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg criticized President Donald Trump Sunday for using his "privileged status" to avoid military service, his pledge to review the cases of soldiers convicted of war crimes and for turning Washington into a "continuing horror show." Appearing on ABC's This Week Sunday, Buttigieg — the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who also served in Afghanistan as an officer with the U.S. Navy Reserve — told reporter Martha Raddatz he had no doubt that Trump's 1968 medical deferment for bone spurs in his heels was faked. "There is no question, I think, to any reasonable observer that the president found a way to falsify a disabled status, taking advantage of his privileged status in order to avoid serving," claimed Buttigieg. He continued: "You have somebody who thinks it's alright to let somebody go in his place into a deadly war, and is willing to pretend to be disabled in order to do it. That is an assault on the honor of this country" The 37-year-old Democrat's comments came only days after he responded similarly to questions from the Washington Post's Robert Costa about Trump's deferment. "This is somebody who, I think it's fairly obvious to most of us, took advantage of the fact that he was a child of a multimillionaire in order to pretend to be disabled, so that somebody could go to war in his place," Buttigieg said Thursday. In the Sunday interview with This Week, Buttigieg also addressed recent comments by Trump about possibly intervening in the cases of U.S. military service members accused of war crimes. “We teach them how to be great fighters, and then when they fight sometimes they get really treated very unfairly. So we’re going to take a look at it," Trump told reporters Friday, adding, “It’s very possible that I’ll let the trials go on and I’ll make my decision after."

By Colby Itkowitz
President Trump called the federal judge who temporarily blocked construction of the southern border wall “another activist Obama appointed judge,” and said his administration would appeal the decision. Trump tweeted his response from Japan, where he is currently on a state visit. It was around 4 a.m. Sunday in Japan and around 4 p.m. Saturday on the East Coast. U.S. District Judge Haywood S. Gilliam Jr. of the Northern District of California ruled Friday that some construction of the wall using money not appropriated by Congress be put on hold as the court considers a legal challenge to Trump’s decision to circumvent Congress to pay for his wall. “Another activist Obama appointed judge has just ruled against us on a section of the Southern Wall that is already under construction,” Trump tweeted. “This is a ruling against Border Security and in favor of crime, drugs and human trafficking. We are asking for an expedited appeal!”

By Kaitlan Collins and Kevin Liptak, CNN
Washington (CNN) - President Donald Trump's visit to Tokyo this weekend kicks off a summer of global jet-setting that takes him to five separate countries -- and confines him to the presidential aircraft for more than 80 hours flying overseas. Not always an eager traveler, Trump has complained in the past about the pace of his foreign travel or the accommodations arranged for him abroad. It's his aides, however, who sometimes dread boarding Air Force One for a lengthy flight overseas, knowing full well the boss will make little use of the bed wedged into the nose of the plane. "It's like being held captive," one official said of traveling with the President on Air Force One. Current and former officials have described White House trips as grueling endeavors accompanied by long hours, but several privately said the flights overseas are easily the worst. The duration can stretch nearly 20 hours. Sleeping space is limited. The televisions are streaming Fox News constantly. And if the headlines flashing across the bottom of the screen are unfavorable to their boss, aides know it's time to buckle up for a turbulent ride.

By Ian Millhiser
Trump just doesn't know when to shut up. Friday evening, a federal court blocked much of the funds President Trump hoped to use to build an illegal wall along the Mexican border, and strongly implied that an even larger tranche of funding is illegal as well. Under the terms of Judge Haywood Gilliam’s order in Sierra Club v. Trump, the Trump administration may not redirect certain Defense Department funds “to construct a border barrier in the areas Defendants have identified as Yuma Sector Project 1 and El Paso Sector Project 1.” By its explicit terms, Judge Gilliam’s order does not apply to other sections of the Mexican border, nor does it apply to other potential funding sources. Nevertheless, its reasoning would severely undercut Trump’s ability to build his wall. The Trump administration asked Congress to provide $5.7 billion in funding for a wall along the Mexican border, but Congress largely rejected that request (although it did approve less than $1.4 billion for “the construction of pedestrian fencing, of a specified type, in a specified sector” of the border).

By Barrett Holmes Pitner
Of course Trump prefers Andrew Jackson. But this episode forces contemplation of the worst possibility of all: Trump himself on our currency. Earlier this week, to almost no one’s surprise, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin announced that the Harriet Tubman $20 bill would be delayed until President Donald Trump leaves office. So if anyone wanted to know who’s to blame for Tubman’s absence and Andrew Jackson’s offensive presence on our greenbacks, Mnuchin clearly wants you to know it’s the guy throwing temper tantrums in the Oval Office. I have no idea what Mnuchin’s opinion is on the Tubman situation because he always dodges the question, but honestly Mnuchin’s opinion never mattered. Trump has such a long history of racist statements and praising Andrew Jackson that we all expected him to never let Tubman appear on our currency—and especially not at the expense of his idol Jackson. Trump has been known to not want black accountants for his businesses because he did not want “black people handling his money,” instead preferring “guys with yarmulkes.” So if he despised the idea of black people touching his money, just think about how enraged he would become if black people were on his money.

By Spencer Kimball
President Donald Trump, on the first day of his state visit to Japan, dug at Tokyo for what he called a “substantial advantage” in trade and asked Japanese businesses to invest more in the United States. “Japan has had a substantial advantage for many, many years, but that’s okay, maybe that’s why you like us so much,” Trump said during a meeting with Japanese business leaders in Tokyo. The president said Tokyo and Washington were “getting close” to a deal that would address the U.S. trade deficit. The U.S. had a deficit of $56.8 billion in goods and services with Japan in 2018, according to the U.S. Trade Representative. “With this deal we hope to address the trade imbalance, remove the barriers to United States exports and ensure fairness and reciprocity in our relationship,” Trump said. The president’s state visit comes amid tensions with carmaker Toyota over potential auto tariffs. Trump has repeatedly threatened Japanese and European carmakers with tariffs. Earlier this month, Trump postponed a decision on car levies for up to six months and directed U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to seek trade agreements with Tokyo and Brussels.

By Priscilla Alvarez, CNN
Washington (CNN) - A federal judge on Friday night blocked President Donald Trump from tapping into Defense Department funds to build parts of his US-Mexico border wall. In a 56-page ruling, Judge Haywood Gilliam of the Northern District of California blocked the administration from moving forward with specific projects in Texas and Arizona, saying Trump couldn't disburse the funds without congressional approval. The lawsuit that prompted the ruling was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the plaintiffs, the Sierra Club and Southern Border Communities Coalition. Although Friday's ruling does not prevent the Trump administration from using funds from other sources to build the projects, it's a setback for the President on a signature agenda item that has consistently been thwarted by Democrats in Congress. Construction on the projects affected by the ruling could have begun as early as Saturday, according to the ruling. "The position that when Congress declines the Executive's request to appropriate funds, the Executive nonetheless may simply find a way to spend those funds 'without Congress' does not square with fundamental separation of powers principles dating back to the earliest days of our Republic," writes Gilliam, a Barack Obama appointee.

Lawmakers from both parties criticized the move, with Democrats calling it an abuse of presidential power. By Dan De Luce. The Trump administration on Friday cited a national security "emergency" allegedly caused by Iran to bypass Congress and rush through arms sales worth billions of dollars to Saudi Arabia and other Middle East allies, in a move that drew condemnation from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. Citing a rarely used provision of arms control law, the administration informed lawmakers it was declaring a national security emergency, allowing it to go ahead with the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan without congressional approval, according to administration letters sent to senators and obtained by NBC News. "I have determined that an emergency exists which requires the proposed sale in the national security interest of the United States, and, thus, waives the congressional review requirements," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote in a letter to Sen. James Risch, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The decision affected various arms packages worth roughly $8 billion, including deals for precision-guided bombs and related gear for Saudi Arabia and the UAE, according to the documents and congressional aides.

By Morgan Gstalter
A former Republican congressman who served for nearly two decades in the House slammed President Trump on Friday as an "illegitimate president" and called for his impeachment. "I'm calling for impeachment now because the Mueller report is out, and in it [special counsel Robert Mueller] describes 10 obstructions of justice charges that he could not bring because of a Department of Justice rule and regulation that says you can't indict a sitting president. That's number one," former Rep. Tom Coleman (R-Mo.) told CNN’s Erin Burnett. The longtime GOP lawmaker, who left the House in 1993, said his other reason for calling for the president to be removed was because Trump "welcomed help and influence" from Russians during his campaign. Coleman pointed to how Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort met with a Russian associate, Konstantin Kilimnik, in New York in August 2016 and discussed the campaign’s strategy for winning Democratic votes in Midwestern states. "It's wrong, and it needs to be handled and looked at by the Congress because I believe it's an impeachable offense," Coleman concluded. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has clashed with Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) this week over calls for Trump’s impeachment, which Pelosi has resisted.

By Sonam Sheth
President Donald Trump's decision to grant vast authority to Attorney General William Barr to declassify intelligence as he investigates the origins of the Russia investigation stunned national-security veterans and has the Justice Department hurtling toward a clash with the US intelligence community. Trump announced on Twitter that at Barr's request, he "directed the intelligence community to quickly and fully cooperate" with an internal investigation into " surveillance activities" that took place during the 2016 US election. The move marks another flashpoint in Trump's ongoing attack on the FBI and US intelligence community.  The president, Barr, and their loyalists argue the inquiry constitutes a legitimate look at whether the US government abused its authority for political motives. But detractors say the move is another partisan attempt by the president to thwart his own intelligence community and weaponize the Justice Department against his perceived enemies. Robert Deitz, a former top lawyer at the CIA and the National Security Agency, characterized Trump's order as a "direct insult to the leadership of the intel community." Typically, in such an investigation, Barr would prepare a report on the matter and ask senior leaders at the NSA, CIA, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and other agencies to declassify specific documents without harming the intelligence-gathering process.

As a Chicago police officer, Shannon Spalding worked undercover in some of the toughest parts of the city -- only to discover some of the most dangerous criminals were fellow police officers.  She risked her life to stop them. Soon after joining the Chicago Police Department in 1996, Spalding drew an assignment in one of the most violent neighborhoods in the city.  "It was a full-blown war every single day," she said. "It was like a movie set.  I was shocked.  It was shock and awe for me.  It was just a completely different world," she explained to "Whistleblower" host Alex Ferrer in the series' second season premiere airing Friday, May 24 at 8/7c on CBS. To survive, Spalding leaned on veteran cops like Ronald Watts. "I thought he was battling crime and he was doing it with finesse and grace," she said. In 2006, a decade after Spalding was trained by Watts, she had a new assignment in the narcotics division. "I was the undercover.  I would go out, I would make the controlled narcotics purchases," Spalding explained. Her partner, Danny Echeverria, would swoop in and make arrests.   But during police interviews, something strange started happening. "People would say … 'I can't believe you're going to arrest me when one of your own is actually running the narcotics trade,'" said Spalding. Spalding learned Watts and his crew would plant drugs on residents of the Ida B. Wells projects and extort cash. "Even the good citizens that live there, that are law-abiding citizens, they're subjected to this," she said. "We heard … he would put anything from a couple bags to enough to put you away for 10, 15, 20 years.

Ladera Heights, Calif. -- A 102-year-old woman is being forced out of her home here, reports CBS Los Angeles. Family and friends of Thelma Smith are banding together after she received an eviction notice, forcing her to relocate from her home of almost 30 years. Smith's landlord intends to move his daughter into the residence one she graduates from law school. Smith, a retired executive of a non-profit group, has lost most of her family over the years, including her husband, and her remaining family lives on the East Coast. Her family and friends say her options are limited to moving in with someone nearby or moving into an assisted living facility, which is difficult to do on her fixed income.

Berkeley Lovelace Jr.
The Trump administration on Friday rolled back health-care protections for transgender people by moving to end an Obama-era policy that prohibited health providers from discriminating against patients based on their gender identity. The Obama administration issued a regulation in 2016 that redefined discrimination on the basis of sex to include gender identity. In a proposed rule issued Friday by the Health and Human Services Department, the administration said it was revising the policy in part to relieve taxpayers of $3.6 billion in “unnecessary” regulatory costs. “The American people want vigorous protection of civil rights and faithfulness to the text of the laws passed by their representatives,” Office for Civil Rights Director Roger Severino said in a statement. “The proposed rule would accomplish both goals.” The rule, which is likely to spur lawsuits, faces a 60-day comment period before it’s finalized. Severino said the agency will still enforce civil rights protections on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, age and sex. In response, LGBTQ advocacy group Human Rights Campaign said the Trump administration’s move “threatens to undermine crucial non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people provided for under the Affordable Care Act.”

By Jordain Carney
Senators are growing increasingly frustrated as legislative activity has slowed to a crawl during the first half of the year. The Senate voted on two bills Thursday, breaking a nearly two-month drought during which Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has focused instead on judicial nominations, his top priority. The lack of floor action has left lawmakers publicly complaining, even though the high-profile feuding between President Trump and congressional Democrats makes it highly unlikely that large-scale bipartisan legislation will succeed heading into the 2020 elections. Tensions boiled over onto the Senate floor this week when Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) knocked the slow start to the new Congress, characterizing lawmakers as having done “nothing, zilch, zero, nada.” “I’m not saying we haven’t done anything. We have confirmed some very important nominees to the Trump administration, long overdue,” Kennedy said. “I’m saying we need to do more.” Asked how he felt about the pace of legislation in the Senate this year, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) shot back: “What legislation?” “So it’s pretty slow, isn’t it?” he asked.

By Jake Kanter
US President Donald Trump has made his first meaningful remarks on the Huawei firestorm since his administration blacklisted the Chinese tech giant last week. Trump was speaking at a news conference announcing a $16 billion aid package for farmers caught up in the US-China trade war when he addressed Huawei, the Chinese company that has been placed on a list mandating that US firms get the US government's permission to do business with it. Trump started out by saying Huawei posed a huge security threat to the US. American officials have long floated suspicions that Huawei could act as a conduit for Chinese surveillance. "Huawei is something that's very dangerous," Trump told reporters. "You look at what they've done from a security standpoint, from a military standpoint, it's very dangerous."  He immediately switched gears, however, to suggest that Huawei could form part of a trade deal between the US and China. "So it's possible that Huawei even would be included in some kind of a trade deal," he said. "If we made a deal, I could imagine Huawei being possibly included in some form."

By Ashley Killough and Clare Foran, CNN
(CNN) - A disaster relief bill was prevented from advancing in the US House of Representatives on Friday after Republican Rep. Chip Roy of Texas objected to passing the bill, meaning the more than $19 billion in aid may not go to President Donald Trump's desk for his signature before June. Lawmakers had hoped to advance the bill using unanimous consent which would quickly pass it out of the chamber. But it only takes one person to object to unanimous consent. With Congress now in recess until June 3, it appears unlikely a vote would happen before then. Roy cited the lack of money for the border -- which Trump had sought -- and the $19 billion price tag as two reasons for his objection. He also objected to approving a bill for $19 billion without all members getting the chance to vote on the measure. Roy discussed his reasons objecting with reporters in the Capitol on Friday. "The primary objection is really that we didn't have a chance to vote. It's the people's House," the congressman said. "We're not elected to have things pass through consent without debate. We should have had a vigorous debate and we should have a debate about why we're not securing the border and why we're spending money we don't have," he added. Roy was also asked if he coordinated his move with anyone and said that he "gave a heads up to the Speaker's office and Republican leadership," and that there is "a significant amount of support among the [House GOP] conference for objecting given that it's a Friday and this was dropped on our laps and we should have a debate, we should vote."

Rudy Giuliani on Friday appeared to defend his sharing of a doctored video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi slurring her words, tweeting that the California Democrat should take back an insult she hurled at President Donald Trump the day before. “Nancy Pelosi wants an apology for a caricature exaggerating her already halting speech pattern,” Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, wrote online. “First she should withdraw her charge which hurts our entire nation when she says the President needs an ‘intervention. ‘People who live in a glass house shouldn’t throw stones.’” The former New York mayor on Thursday evening amplified on Twitter a manipulated version of Pelosi’s remarks at a conference earlier in the week. The clip, which has disseminated across social media amid an escalating personal feud between the speaker and the president, subtly slows Pelosi’s speech in a manner that suggests she is physically impaired. "What is wrong with Nancy Pelosi? Her speech pattern is bizarre,” Giuliani tweeted Thursday when he posted the footage. He later deleted the message. Earlier Friday morning, Giuliani appeared to offer Pelosi an apology, tweeting a GIF of professional basketball players and a message that read: “ivesssapology for a video which is allegedly is a caricature of an otherwise halting speech pattern, she should first stop, and apologize for, saying the President needs an ‘intervention.' Are.”

By Gina Heeb
US President Donald Trump on Thursday again falsely claimed that foreign companies pay for tariffs. American consumers and businesses pay the cost of tariffs on Chinese products. All this came hours after the Trump administration announced a $16 billion bailout package for farmers. US President Donald Trump on Thursday once again pushed what has emerged as a central message in his yearlong trade dispute with China, falsely claiming that foreign companies pay for tariffs. Speaking to farmers and ranchers in the Roosevelt Room, Trump touted a $16 billion bailout package for the agricultural sector that his administration unveiled hours earlier. He claimed its funding "all comes from China," even though study after study has found that Americans bear the costs of tariffs.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin says it likely won’t happen until after Trump leaves office.
By Gaby Del Valle
The first $20 bills featuring Harriet Tubman were supposed to be unveiled in 2020, but on Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said the bill won’t be released next year after all — and most likely won’t be in circulation until 2026 at the earliest. “It’s not a decision that is likely to come until way past my term, even if I serve the second term for the president. So I’m not focused on that for the moment,” Mnuchin reportedly said at a hearing before the House Committee on Financial Services. Instead, Mnuchin claimed, he’ll focus on beefing up anti-counterfeiting measures. “It is my responsibility now to focus on what is the issue of counterfeiting and the security features,” he said. “The ultimate decision on the redesign will most likely be another secretary down the road.” In 2016, then-Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced that Tubman, an abolitionist who helped free enslaved people before the Civil War, would be on the $20 bill. She was slated to be the first woman on US paper currency since the 19th century, the New York Times reported at the time. The redesign was supposed to be unveiled in 2020 in honor of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote, though the bills wouldn’t have entered circulation until later. (It’s worth noting that given the spate of anti-black voter suppression laws that were implemented across the country after the Civil War, it’s likely that Tubman would not have been able to vote in 1920.) The $20 bill redesign was part of a larger project to reimagine US currency by adding women and civil rights leaders to paper bills. But now, according to the Times, senior Treasury officials think Mnuchin is pushing back the redesign to help President Trump, who has criticized the plan in the past, save face. Mnuchin decided to delay the redesign until Trump was out of office, sources told the paper.

By Jeremy Diamond, Dana Bash and Lauren Fox, CNN
Washington (CNN) - President Donald Trump ratcheted up his feud with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday, turning an event organized to announce a multibillion-dollar aid package to farmers into a nearly half-hour-long diatribe against his Democratic rivals. Rejecting Pelosi's characterization of his decision to scrap a meeting Wednesday with Democrats because of their continued investigations as a "temper tantrum," Trump accused Democratic officials of being "bad people," referred to Pelosi as "crazy Nancy" and enlisted several White House officials to publicly corroborate his account that he had addressed Democrats calmly -- and not in anger -- the previous day. "They're a do-nothing group of people. The Democrats have done nothing other than to obstruct. They're obstructing this country," Trump said Thursday. "The Democrats have done nothing in the House, they've done absolutely nothing -- I mean other than investigate. They want to investigate." As for himself, Trump once again proclaimed: "I'm an extremely stable genius." Trump's anger at House Democrats' investigations had been steadily mounting for weeks, but Pelosi's accusation that the President had engaged in a "cover-up" sent him over the edge, prompting him to swear off policy talks with Democrats and shine a spotlight on what he considers Democrats' "phony investigations." Now the President's advisers and allies are worrying about the fallout of his display of anger and Trump is signaling that he is prepared to dig in, multiple sources close to him told CNN.

By Laura Jarrett, Evan Perez and Steve Brusk, CNN
(CNN) - President Donald Trump has ordered all major US intelligence agencies to assist Attorney General William Barr in his review of surveillance issues surrounding Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, delegating significant authority to Barr to declassify intelligence materials as the attorney general sees fit. The formal memorandum released by the White House late Thursday evening, directing the heads of each agency to "promptly provide" information as Barr requests, illustrates how the White House is seeking to forge full steam ahead with an effort Trump has long demanded. "Today's action will help ensure that all Americans learn the truth about the events that occurred, and the actions that were taken, during the last Presidential election and will restore confidence in our public institutions," White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.

By Jordan Weissmann
When Donald Trump announced on Thursday that he would provide $16 billion in aid to help farmers whose sales have suffered thanks to his trade war with China, he immediately assured Americans that they would not really be footing the bill. The bailout package, the president said, would be funded with money collected from his tariffs, which he insisted were being paid by the Chinese themselves. “It all comes from China,” he said. “We’ll be taking in over a period of time hundreds of billions of dollars in tariffs and charges to China. And our farmers will be greatly helped.” Minutes later, he repeated himself. “Just so you understand, these tariffs are paid for largely by China. A lot of people like to say by us,” he said. Trump drops versions of this talking point constantly, and it is absolute nonsense. Some Chinese exporters may be losing business thanks to Trump’s levies, as their U.S. customers have started buying elsewhere. But the tariffs themselves are being paid by Americans. That’s true in the legal sense (importers are the ones who actually pay the tax when Chinese goods arrive on our shores) and the economic sense (so far, researchers have concluded that the full cost of the tariff really is being passed on to consumers and companies stateside; Chinese factories didn’t eat the cost by lowering their prices, at least last year).

John Fritze, Michael Collins and Alan Gomez, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump took another step Thursday to crack down on legal immigration, instructing agencies to enforce a 23-year-old law that requires sponsors of green card holders to reimburse the government for welfare benefits. Trump approved a memorandum Thursday to enforce a pair of provisions signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996, the White House said. The move comes as Trump has sought to overhaul legal immigration despite congressional resistance. "To protect benefits for American citizens, immigrants must be financially self-sufficient," Trump said in an announcement of the plan. Critics have said that such moves unfairly punish low-income immigrants, who sometimes need assistance to get started in the U.S. But the White House counters that too many immigrants take advantage of U.S. generosity, pointing out that 58% of all households headed by a non-citizen use at least one welfare program. Immigration advocates Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, and Olivia Golden, executive director of the Center for Law and Social Policy, denounced Trump's "brutal, reckless, dangerous, inhumane agenda." “Trump will do anything to send immigrant families the message that if you’re not white and wealthy, you’re not welcome — or even safe — here," the two advocates, who are also co-chairs of the Protecting Immigrant Families Campaign, said in a statement. "And he doesn’t care that children and entire families will be harmed in the process."

He claims Nancy Pelosi has ‘lost it,’ while he remains an ‘extremely stable genius.’
By Asawin Suebsaeng, Sam Stein
Accused of having a temper tantrum at the White House the day before, President Donald Trump did what anyone trying to prove their serenity would do: He put together a press conference during which he asked five aides to attest to his calmness. On Thursday afternoon, Trump hosted a group of American farmers at the White House to tout his administration’s $16 billion aid plan for farmers afflicted by his ongoing trade war. But after singing their praises and promising relief to come, he quickly turned to the matter most clearly on his mind—reports that he’d lost his cool at a meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi the day before. “Because I know they will always say that [I was angry]... I was so calm... I walked into the Cabinet Room, you had the group, Cryin' Chuck, Crazy Nancy... She’s lost it,” the president insisted on Thursday. For good measure, he later reiterated that he was an “extremely stable genius.”

Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large
(CNN) - When Donald Trump chose Rex Tillerson to be his secretary of state in December 2016, he praised the former head of ExxonMobil for his "tenacity, broad experience and deep understanding of geopolitics." In a tweet touting the pick, Trump called Tillerson "one of the truly great business leaders of the world." hat was then. This is now: "Rex Tillerson, a man who is 'dumb as a rock' and totally ill prepared and ill equipped to be Secretary of State, made up a story (he got fired) that I was out-prepared by Vladimir Putin at a meeting in Hamburg, Germany. I don't think Putin would agree. Look how the U.S. is doing!" What happened??? Well, Tillerson reportedly told congressional leaders that Trump was not as well-prepared for his 2017 meeting with Vladimir Putin as the Russian president was -- and that it showed. "We spent a lot of time in the conversation talking about how Putin seized every opportunity to push what he wanted," an aide on the House Foreign Affairs Committee told The Washington Post of Tillerson's briefing. "There was a discrepancy in preparation, and it created an unequal footing."

Prosecutors unsealed bribery charges Thursday against a Chicago banker who made loans to Paul Manafort allegedly expecting they would help him get a top job in the Trump administration. A grand jury in Manhattan returned an indictment against Stephen Calk, chairman of Federal Savings Bank, in a case with strong echoes of the earlier ones made against Manafort, who has since been convicted and sentenced to prison. Bank employees testified last year in Manafort's case in federal court in Northern Virginia, where much of the story was first revealed. Some witnesses received immunity from prosecution because of the alleged illegal activity. Calk, who did not receive an immunity deal, was expected in federal court on Thursday in New York City.

The disclosures come as a federal judge ruled Wednesday that two other banks — Deutsche Bank and Capital One — can give financial documents to Congress.
By Leigh Ann Caldwell and Alex Moe
WASHINGTON — A key congressional committee has already gained access to President Donald Trump’s dealings with two major financial institutions, two sources familiar with the House probe tell NBC News, as a court ruling Wednesday promised to open the door for even more records to be handed over. Wells Fargo and TD Bank are the two of nine institutions that have so far complied with subpoenas issued by the House Financial Services Committee demanding information about their dealings with the Trump Organization, according to the sources. The disclosures by these two banks haven’t been previously reported. Both TD Bank and Wells Fargo declined to comment for this story. Wells Fargo provided the committee with a few thousand documents and TD Bank handed the committee a handful of documents, according to a source who has seen them. The committee, led by Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., is especially interested in the president’s business relationship with Russia and other foreign entities.

By Eugene Kiely
President Donald Trump, in a lengthy interview on Fox News, made several statements that were false, misleading or not supported by the evidence: Trump claimed Joe Biden, as vice president, pressured Ukraine to fire a prosecutor who “was after his son,” Hunter Biden. There’s no evidence that Biden was under investigation, although he was a board member for a company whose owner was under investigation. Trump said of North Korea: “They haven’t had any tests over the last two years — zero.” It’s true that they haven’t had any nuclear tests or long-range missile tests, but North Korea has tested short-range missiles twice this month. The president said he will provide $15 billion in assistance to U.S. farmers hurt by the trade war, because that’s “the most money that China has ever paid” for U.S. agricultural goods. But federal data show that China purchased nearly $27.2 billion in U.S. agricultural goods in 2012. Trump boasted that Honda is “coming in [to the U.S.] with $14.5 billion” in investments. A Michigan-based automotive research group says that Honda has announced $1.7 billion in U.S. vehicle manufacturing investments over the last five years. The president said he has “tremendous poll numbers now.” Trump’s average approval rating is currently below 43 percent. In a wide-ranging interview that aired May 19 on “The Next Revolution,” Trump and the show’s host, Steve Hilton, discussed foreign policy, international trade, the economy, politics and more.

By Laura Geggel, Associate Editor
A strange seismic event off the coast of Africa has led scientists to a  mighty finding: the discovery of the largest underwater volcanic  eruption ever recorded. The eruption also may explain a weird seismic event recorded in  November 2018 just off the island of Mayotte, located between Madagascar  and Mozambique in the Indian Ocean. Researchers described that event as  a seismic hum that circled the world, but no one could figure out what  sparked it. For starters, the hum rang at a single, ultralow frequency,  which was strange because seismic waves usually rumble at many  frequencies. Moreover, there were hardly any detectable "p-waves" or  "s-waves," which usually accompany earthquakes. And, incredibly, the  island of Mayotte moved a few inches south and east after the mysterious  event.

The House speaker's message to Democrats came as vocal support for impeachment rose among lawmakers in the caucus.
By Peter Alexander, Alex Moe and Rebecca Shabad
WASHINGTON  — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told her Democratic colleagues  Thursday that President Donald Trump “wants to be impeached” so that he  can be vindicated by the Senate. Pelosi made the comments  at a closed-door morning meeting, two Democratic aides told NBC News,  who also said that Pelosi called Trump’s actions “villainous.” The  aide said that Pelosi was implying that she will stick to her current  plan to keep investigating the president and his administration without  jumping to impeachment, though she didn’t explicitly address strategy in  her remarks. "Let me be very clear: the president's  behavior, as far as his obstruction of justice, the things that he is  doing, it's in plain sight, it cannot be denied — ignoring subpoenas,  obstruction of justice," Pelosi told reporters at her weekly press  conference Thursday following the closed-door meeting.

By Tal Axelrod
The U.S. Navy on Wednesday sent two ships through the Taiwan Strait, marking its latest trip through the disputed waterway in a move likely to anger China as Washington and Beijing ratchet up tensions in their prolonged trade war.  A military spokesperson told Reuters that the voyage was carried out by the destroyer Preble and the Navy oil tanker Walter S. Diehl. “The ships’ transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Commander Clay Doss, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet, said in a statement. Taiwan has long been one of several flashpoints in the relationship between the U.S. and China, whch have included economic disputes, sanctions and Chinese military activity in the South China Sea, where the U.S. also sends naval patrols. The news comes as the world's two largest economies have slapped millions of dollars of tit-for-tat tariffs on each other in an escalating trade war. The move could be interpreted by Taiwan, a self-ruled island that China insists is part of its territory, as a sign of support from Washington. The Navy did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.

Two Federal Aviation Administration inspectors – each with a decade  of experience with the FAA – say they have an urgent message for U.S.  travelers: "people's lives" could be at stake. They told CBS News "the  flying public needs to wake up" and that people need to know flying "is  not as safe as it could be." Both asked to remain anonymous because they  fear losing their jobs for speaking out. "I've had reports that I  had entered into our database one day were there and the next morning,  they're gone," one told "CBS This Morning" co-host Tony Dokoupil. They  say managers at the FAA pressure inspectors like them to ignore  critical safety issues like corrosion or making sure vendors were FAA  compliant and retaliated if inspectors refused to back off. "I've been flat out told to back off," one inspector said. "I've had  airlines contact my management and ask them not to assign me any  inspections to that airline." The other inspector said  they've "repeatedly" been punished for finding a problem and reporting  it and they're not alone: "It's very widespread." A 2016  Inspector General's report echoes their concerns. It found that another  FAA inspector, Charles Banks, was pressured to back off an airline then  was punished by management. When reached by CBS News, Banks confirmed  that he was punished by the FAA for filing reports of problems with  Miami Air International.

Growing Democratic pressure — and a new court ruling — suggest Trump’s plan to run out the clock on oversight efforts may have some holes in it.
By Kurt Bardella, NBC News THINK contributor
President Donald Trump is feeling the heat. In a surprise Rose Garden speech on Wednesday, Trump railed against congressional investigations and ongoing efforts by Democrats to examine potential misconduct by the president, his family and his associates. "I respect the courts, I respect Congress, but what they've done is abuse," the president told the press, before going on to say he would refuse to work with Congress until the investigations were concluded. Although it's useless to speculate about what motivates this particular chief executive, it seems likely that his outburst was influenced by several recent political setbacks. The first was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying Trump engaged in a "cover-up." The second was an important legal decision that has clear implications for numerous legal showdowns expected between the executive branch and the legislative branch. On Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Amit P. Mehta ruled in favor of the legislative branch, reaffirming the importance of congressional oversight authority. The judge’s decision previews what Trump can expect going forward as he tries to use the justice system as his personal shield from Congress. At issue in this case was an accounting firm responsible for preparing Trump’s tax returns. The House Committee on Oversight and Reform subpoenaed financial documents from the firm, Mazars USA, which could show Trump manipulated his earnings among other things. Trump filed a lawsuit against the committee and its chairman, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., in April, hoping to block the committee’s subpoena.

By Maggie Haberman, Annie Karni, Kenneth P. Vogel and Katie Benner
President  Trump’s escalating demands for investigations into his political  opponents have intensified debate over whether his often-transparent  calls for action by the Justice Department amount to abusing his power  to bolster his re-election prospects. Mr.  Trump called in an interview aired on Sunday for an investigation into  business deals in China by Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice  President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic candidate Mr. Trump’s  advisers believe could pose the biggest threat to him in 2020. In recent weeks, Mr. Trump has called for inquiries into the Bidens relating to the younger Mr. Biden’s business in Ukraine, an effort amplified by Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer. “One hundred percent — it’s a disgrace,” Mr. Trump said in an interview with Steve Hilton, a Fox News host, when asked if the Bidens’ supposed financial ties with China should be investigated. It  was the latest in a long series of statements by Mr. Trump suggesting  he would like to see criminal investigations of opponents including  Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and the Democratic National Committee, and  it came as the president seems particularly preoccupied by Mr. Biden’s  candidacy. It also highlighted the  pressure on Attorney General William P. Barr to navigate between Mr.  Trump’s demands and Mr. Barr’s stated desire — after withering criticism  over his handling of the special counsel’s report — to reassert the  Justice Department’s independence from politics.

Newly unsealed search warrants confirm that Trump’s lawyer and a sanctioned Russian billionaire met in the months after the election.
By Justin Miller
Michael Cohen exchanged hundreds of phone calls with an executive tied to a sanctioned Russian oligarch, according to newly unsealed federal search warrants that show the two sides were closer than either previously admitted. Columbus Nova CEO Andrew Intrater and Cohen exchanged 320 phone calls and 920 text messages beginning on Election Day 2016, according to the warrants pursued by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office. Columbus Nova paid Cohen $500,000 for consulting work for what the company called “potential sources of capital and potential investments.” Intrater introduced Cohen to his cousin and business associate, the billionaire industrialist Viktor Vekselberg. Cohen was even added to Columbus Nova’s office security list. The chatter between Cohen and Intrater was part of the network of relationships between Russian-linked interests and the former lawyer to President Trump. Cohen’s attorneys did not immediately respond to requests to comment for this story. Intrater’s spokesperson downplayed the significance of the thousand-plus conversations between the two men. They were working together so of course texted and called each other. This was all known and investigated, and wasn't even deemed worthy of being included in the Special Counsel's report,” the spokesperson told The Daily Beast.

By Jordain Carney
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) warned on Thursday that the Senate will vote on a disaster aid package before they leave for a weeklong break, even as negotiators struggle to reach a bipartisan agreement. “The Senate will not adjourn this week until we have voted on legislation to deliver long-overdue relief funding for communities that have been hit hard by natural disasters," McConnell said from the Senate floor. He added that negotiators have to reach an agreement on Thursday if it's going to pass before lawmakers leave for the Memorial Day recess, but "one way or another, the Senate is not leaving without taking action." McConnell hasn't said what the Senate will vote on without an agreement, but the chamber rejected two proposals last month that the GOP leader could bring back up for a repeat vote. "I think if we don't know something in the next couple of hours, then we'll probably end up having to vote on something that we voted on before, but hopefully they'll get a deal," said Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican. Thune added that Senate Republicans were set to hold a caucus meeting later Thursday, where they would likely get a sense of whether or not there was going to be a deal.

‘Even this impeachment inquiry is the same f*cking process,’ said one senior Democratic aide. ‘You will still end up in the courts.’
By Sam Stein, Sam Brodey
Shortly after she’d left a fiery White House meeting, during which the president had threatened to stop working with her on all legislative matters, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was asked to speculate why she, more than others, seemed to fluster President Trump. “He recognizes the unity of our caucus and that is a very big deal,” she told the crowd at the Center for American Progress’ annual Ideas Festival. “I think he sees the fact that we are united as something he has to contend with, to deal with… That unity gives me leverage.” The comment drew knowing applause from those in attendance—a mix of policy types and party donors who uniformly worship at the altar of Pelosi. But the intended audience was not them. It was her fellow Democrats on Capitol Hill. In recent weeks, the party unity that Pelosi prizes internally and deploys politically has come under immense strain as a growing number of lawmakers have demanded more aggressive oversight of the Trump administration, including the consideration of articles of impeachment. The pressure had grown acute enough in recent days that Pelosi’s staff decided to convene a caucus meeting on Wednesday morning to address it.

By Marshall Cohen and Katelyn Polantz, CNN
Washington (CNN) - President Donald Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen had more than 1,000 contacts with a Russian-linked company, evidence that special counsel Robert Mueller used to quickly intensify his investigation, according to newly unsealed court records. Mueller was appointed in 2017 to investigate Russian interference in US politics, and the new documents show how Cohen gave Mueller plenty of reasons to aggressively investigate him. That's because Cohen initiated many of his contacts with foreign companies immediately after the 2016 presidential election, and started taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from foreign sources. The special counsel obtained five search warrants before handing the Cohen investigation over to federal prosecutors in Manhattan. Those warrants were unsealed Wednesday by a federal court in Washington, DC, after CNN and other media outlets sued to make the records public. The details of Mueller's early work were disclosed as Trump and Attorney General William Barr set their sights on the origins of the Russia investigation. Barr has questioned the legitimacy of how the probe started, while Trump has called it an "illegal" and even "treasonous" endeavor. But the documents describe how investigators were learning of new and concerning actions, tying Trump's closest associates to powerful Russian interests, even after Trump was elected.

By Daniel Moritz-Rabson
Republican Senator John Kennedy expressed frustration Wednesday that aside from confirming judges, the GOP-led Senate has done "nothing." Kennedy's biting rebuke of Congressional productivity during a speech on the Senate floor came on the same day that President Donald Trump walked out of a meeting on infrastructure with Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. "We need to do more, by we I mean the United States Congress," he said. "Other than the nominations, which are important, we have done nothing. Zero. Zilch. Nada." Kennedy then went onto specifically criticize the Senate, which has a Republican majority. "We need to do more," he said. "I'm not saying we haven't done anything. We have confirmed some very important nominees to the trump administration. We have confirmed some very fine men and women to the federal judiciary. And I'm very proud of that effort. I'm not saying we've done nothing, I'm saying we need to do more. There are issues where our Democratic friends and my Republican friends have more in common than we don't. We need to bring the bills to the floor of the United States Senate." The senator from Louisiana also reserved criticism for House Democrats, who he said were guilty of passing bills they knew had no chance of passing in the Senate. He also accused them of "harassing" the president. "The House leadership needs to urinate or get off the pot," he said. "The House leadership needs to indict the president of the United States. Impeach him and let us hold a trial. He won’t be convicted. Or they need to go ahead and hold in contempt every single member of the Trump administration so we can move those issues into our court system and get back to doing the people’s business."

By Erica Orden, CNN
New York (CNN)A federal grand jury in Manhattan indicted celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti on Wednesday in two alleged schemes, charging him with fraud and aggravated identity theft involving his former client, Stormy Daniels, and with attempting to extort more than $20 million from sportswear giant Nike. Prosecutors charged Avenatti, 48, with stealing about $300,000 of Daniels' advance for her book contract, according to court papers, and using that money to pay employees of his law firm and a coffee business he owned. Daniels isn't named in the indictment, but she is the individual referred to as "Victim-1," according to a person familiar with the matter. To date, according to the indictment, Avenatti has failed to repay Daniels about half of the sum he allegedly stole from her. With Wednesday's charges, Avenatti has faced federal indictment three times over the course of about six weeks.

By Evan Simko-Bednarski and Sonia Moghe, CNN
(CNN) - Democrats in New York state passed a pair of bills Wednesday that would allow Congress to get hold of President Donald Trump's state tax returns amid an escalating fight with top administration officials over access to the President's federal returns. The main legislation, which passed the state assembly 84 to 53, would require the state's tax commissioner to provide New York state tax returns to Congress upon request from the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee, or the Joint Committee on Taxation. A second bill also passed Wednesday restricts requests to elected officials only and mandates the removal of any federal tax information that might appear on state returns.

By Zachary Basu
A district judge in New York has declined to issue a preliminary injunction preventing Deutsche Bank and Capital One from complying with a congressional subpoena for President Trump's financial records. "Put simply, the power of Congress to conduct investigations is inherent in the legislative process." — Judge Edgardo Ramos. Context: The House Financial Services and Intelligence committees subpoenaed Deutsche and other institutions last month in an effort to obtain years of financial records belonging to Trump, his company and his children. Trump sued the banks in response, arguing that the subpoenas "have no legitimate or lawful purpose" and were being weaponized for the purpose of "presidential harassment." In a statement to CNBC, a Deutsche Bank spokesperson said: "We remain committed to providing appropriate information to all authorized investigations and will abide by a court order regarding such investigations." The big picture: The decision by Judge Edgardo Ramos follows a similar ruling earlier this week in a case involving Trump's accounting firm, Mazars USA. A federal judge in Washington, D.C., declined to block a House subpoena for 8 years of Trump's financial records, ruling that the public's interest in "maximizing the effectiveness of the investigatory powers of Congress" was greater than any damage to Trump or his businesses.

By Kate Sullivan, CNN
Washington (CNN) - New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the Trump administration, arguing that a new regulation would let health care providers discriminate and refuse care to patients based on religious or moral beliefs. A news release sent by James' office says she is leading a coalition of 23 states, cities and municipalities suing to block a Department of Health and Human Services rule that would allow "businesses, including employers, to object to providing insurance coverage for procedures they consider objectionable, and allow individual health care personnel to object to informing patients about their medical options or referring them to providers of those options." "The federal government is giving health care providers free license to openly discriminate and refuse care to patients -- a gross misinterpretation of religious freedom that will have devastating consequences on communities throughout the country," James said in the release. "When the health of our residents is at stake, and the safety of vulnerable populations hang in the balance, we cannot rest until this 'health care refusal' rule is stopped," James added. The lawsuit alleges the federal government could terminate hundreds of billions of dollars in federal health care funding if states or cities fail to comply with this rule. Public health programs that could be impacted, according to the release, include Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program, HIV/AIDS and STD prevention and education, and mental health and substance abuse treatment. The Department of Health and Human Services did not immediately respond to CNN's request for comment.

Washington (CNN) - Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson  quietly met with the top Democrat and Republican on the House Foreign  Affairs Committee Tuesday for an interview that focused primarily on his  time in the Trump administration, a congressional aide with direct  knowledge of the discussion confirmed to CNN. Tillerson  traveled to Capitol Hill where he sat down with the committee's  Democratic chairman Rep. Eliot Engel and ranking Republican Rep. Michael  McCaul, the aide said, adding that major topics of interest included  the administration's dealings with Russia and uncertainty surrounding  the role of Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, in deciding foreign  policy. The interview lasted roughly seven hours, including breaks, the same source said. While  specific details related to the meeting remain murky, it is clear that  Tillerson's trip to Capitol Hill came as a surprise to many in  Washington, including to some members of the House Foreign Affairs  Committee.

(CNN) - A  draft confidential memo from the Internal Revenue Service last fall  determined that tax returns must be surrendered to Congress unless the  president opts to invoke executive privilege, The Washington Post reported. The  move comes as President Donald Trump steadfastly refuses to hand over  his tax returns to the Democratic-led House Ways and Means Committee. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin flouted a subpoena  from committee Chairman Richard Neal for Trump's tax returns last  Friday, arguing that he is "not authorized to disclose the requested  returns and return information" for a request that "lacks a legitimate  legislative purpose." But  according to the memo, turning over the tax documents to Congress "is  mandatory, requiring the Secretary to disclose returns, and return  information, requested by the tax-writing Chairs," the Post reported --  regardless of the professed reason for the request. Current  legislation "does not allow the Secretary to exercise discretion in  disclosing the information provided the statutory conditions are met,"  the memo concludes, adding that "the Secretary's obligation to disclose  return and return information would not be affected by the failure of a  tax writing committee ... to state a reason for the request." The  "only basis the agency's refusal to comply with a committee's subpoena  would be the invocation of the doctrine of executive privilege," the  memo states, per the paper. The  IRS told the Post that the memo was drafted last fall by a lawyer at  the Office of Chief Counsel and did not convey the agency's "official  position." The agency also told the paper that IRS Commissioner Charles  Rettig and chief counsel Michael Desmond were not aware of the memo  until the Post requested comment, and that it was never shared with the  Treasury.

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