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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.  

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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