Liveblogging the Trump presidency, one catastrophe at a time.
It’s shaping up like Paul Manafort is going to be our big news today. ETA: I was apparently incorrect. Today’s big story is going to be House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-CA) dumping what appears to be classified information on the press, which led Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the ranking Democrat on the committee, to say that he’s seen information on collusion between Trump (and/or the Trump team) and Russia that is “not circumstantial.”
OPINION: “If Trump is innocent, why is he acting so guilty?” (New Republic)
NEWS: Still no details on why electronic devices larger than a cellphone aren’t allowed on certain flights out of particular Muslim countries now. The new US rules went into effect yesterday, and the UK shortly followed suit with its own similar set of rules. That inclines me to think there’s an actual credible threat we’re not hearing about, but beyond my opinion, who knows? (Ars Technica, Washington Post)
- UPDATE: “An aircraft cabin ban on large electronic devices was prompted by intelligence suggesting a terror threat to US-bound flights, say US media.” (BBC)
- UPDATE: Two stories seem to be emerging about this ban. The first is a credible terror threat of some sort, involving hiding explosives in the batteries of laptops, and the second is favoring American businesses, since American airports are completely left out of this ban, which means they’ll gain more business on these sorts of flights. (TechCrunch)
NEWS: Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is trying to “name and shame” state and local PDs for not helping them round up undocumented immigrants. (ACLU)
NEWS: “President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, secretly worked for a Russian billionaire to advance the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin a decade ago and proposed an ambitious political strategy to undermine anti-Russian opposition across former Soviet republics, The Associated Press has learned. The work appears to contradict assertions by the Trump administration and Manafort himself that he never worked for Russian interests.” (AP, Also: The Atlantic, Mother Jones, TPM)
- RELATED: Paul Manafort, former “chairman” of Trump’s campaign, has hired Jason Maloni, of JadeRoq, a crisis communications firm, as a spokesperson. These are the kind of people you hire when the crap you’re in is so deep you’re drowning. (The Hill)
- RELATED: Paul Manafort is being sought for questioning by authorities in the US and Ukraine. (Politico)
- RELATED: Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) wants Paul Manafort to testify in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee during their Russian interference hearings. (TPM)
- RELATED: The White House is running away from Manafort just as fast as they can. They barely know him, he wasn’t really involved with the campaign that much, etc, etc. This is BS. Manafort was instrumental in parts of the 2016 Trump campaign. (TPM)
- RELATED: “Now new information suggests that [Paul Manafort’s and Michael Flynn’s] relationships with Russian interests may have been considerably more extensive, and involved far more money, than was previously known.” (Vox)
- RELATED: Turns out that the guy Manafort was initially working with to pitch his plan to Putin? Manafort tried to help that guy get a US visa. (Mother Jones)
OPINION: Josh Marshall of TPM takes a look at the hip-deep “alt-right” swill infesting Twitter and other social networks and – probably – egging Trump & Co. on. (TPM Edblog)
NEWS: House Representatives Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) have requested Michael Flynn’s security clearance applications from the White House. They’re trying to figure out if Flynn disclosed payments from Moscow on the forms. (Politico, TPM)
NEWS: Rex Tillerson’s wife sort of shamed him into taking the Secretary of State job. He didn’t actually want it, since he was planning on retiring. That explains a little bit, doesn’t it? (Politico, Independent Journal Review, TPM)
NEWS: The Republicare vote is shaping up to be a nailbiter, and the GOP is stressing out about what happens next if it fails. (TPM)
- RELATED: There are tons of stories littering the political news sites this morning about whether or not Republicare will pass tomorrow. This guy says it will, that guy says it won’t, etc. (TPM, Politico, Politico, Politico, Politico, Politico, Reuters)
- RELATED: The House Freedom Caucus still won’t support Republicare. (TPM)
- UPDATE: “As Thursday’s House vote on the bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act looms, the pressure is ramping up on GOP lawmakers who remain undecided or opposed to the legislation. Even after threats to their careers, invitations to the White House, special carve-outs for their states, amendments on their pet issues, and other tactics, critics of the bill still say enough members are holding strong to ensure the bill will fail on the House floor.” (TPM)
- UPDATE: “With a vote tentatively scheduled for Thursday, the health care bill put forth by Republican Congressional leaders and endorsed by President Trump is still taking heat from all sides in the House of Representatives.” (FiveThirtyEight)
- UPDATE: “White House officials are moving to eliminate broad coverage requirements for health insurers in the Obamacare repeal bill in a bid to win over holdout members of the House Freedom Caucus.” (Politico, Also: NPR)
NEWS: Trump has been advised not to criticize judges. He says he’ll criticize ’em if he wants to. (TPM)
NEWS: “House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-CA) said he learned just this week that the intelligence community ‘incidentally collected’ information about members of President Donald Trump’s transition team outside of its investigation into Russia’s interference in the U.S. election.” Details are pretty sparse, but it sounds like information about the transition team was picked up while the intelligence community looked into other things. That would seem to indicate that members of the transition team were talking to people that the intelligence community were investigating, but that’s just a guess on my part. (TPM, Politico, Reuters)
- UPDATE: “White House press secretary Sean Spicer mostly avoided discussing a claim from the chair of the House Intelligence Committee that information on President Donald Trump and members of transition team was ‘incidentally collected’ during an investigation unrelated to Russian interference in the election.” (TPM)
- UPDATE: So, this story broke out huge. At a press conference today, Nunes revealed a bunch of really unprecedented information – information that he maybe shouldn’t have had to begin with, that doesn’t appear to have been redacted properly and/or like it usually is (it was revealing names of Americans involved, which are usually obscured) and that hadn’t been provided to the rest of the House Intelligence Committee. Nunes then briefed Donald Trump on this information, still without telling the HIC, which is way out of line, a huge departure from how things are usually done, and gravely calls into question Nunes’ ability to lead an independent investigation of the Trump-Russia allegations. Everyone with any experience in intelligence, intelligence handling, intelligence committees, politics reporters, etc, is blown away and/or outraged over what Nunes did.
- SOURCES: NPR, TPM: 1, 2, 3, 4, AP, Politico: 1, 2, 3, Vox
- REACTIONS/COMMENTARY: @JoyAnnReid, @JoyAnnReid, @Reuters, @RepAdamSchiff, @markfollman, @abbydphillip, @LukeRussert, @RVAwonk, @20committee, @20committee
- UPDATE: “Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, said MSNBC Wednesday afternoon that there is evidence that is ‘not circumstantial’ of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.” (The Atlantic)
Schiff: If Nunes continues to go to the WH instead of committee, "there's no way we can conduct this investigation" https://t.co/0ZWfu2oXQ0
— NBC News (@NBCNews) March 22, 2017
Ex-House Intel counsel: Nunes briefing Trump is a “breakdown in the entire oversight process,” other committee members likely “horrified” pic.twitter.com/aRn8dB3Ia6
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) March 22, 2017
ANALYSIS: Yesterday Trump threatened the House GOP that if they didn’t pass Republicare, they’d pay a price in 2018. FiveThirtyEight crunches some numbers and thinks Trump may be right. Read it here.
NEWS: Trump’s first foreign trip as president will be to Brussels for a NATO meeting in May. (AP) That should go well. He’s been so positive and supportive on NATO.
NEWS: Former national security adviser Michael Flynn never signed the mandatory ethics pledge ahead of his forced resignation in February. (AP)
NEWS: “Jay Clayton, a well-connected Wall Street lawyer who is President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission, is sure to face sharp questions from Democrats at his confirmation hearing Thursday over his years of work for Goldman and other financial giants.” (AP)
- RELATED: “Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren will rally at the Capitol with liberal groups Wednesday to intensify opposition to President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the SEC.” (Politico)
NEWS: Trump meets with the Congressional Black Caucus this afternoon. They’re not huge Trump fans, so that should be interesting. (Mother Jones)
- UPDATE: “Shortly after the meeting with the president ended, the CBC released ‘We Have a Lot to Lose: Solutions to Advance Black Families in the 21st Century,’ a 130-page policy document drafted by the caucus in response to a question frequently posed by the president (‘What do you have to lose?’) when he addressed black voters on the campaign trail.” (Mother Jones)
- UPDATE: “Leaders of the Congressional Black Caucus met with President Donald Trump on Wednesday about infrastructure and reducing urban crime, calling the sit-down a “positive” first step toward finding common ground.” (Reuters)
- UPDATE: “President Donald Trump had a ‘candid’ discussion with members of the Congressional Black Caucus Wednesday, lawmakers said, while also repeating his politically-challenging campaign promise to tackle high prescription drug prices.” (Politico)
NEWS: “[Defense Secretary James Mattis] was welcomed as a moderating force in the Trump administration, but his moves to name Obama veterans to Pentagon posts are irritating allies in key committees.” (Politico)
NEWS: “Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told senators Wednesday he supports a new Authorization for Use of Military Force to fight the Islamic State.” (Politico)
NEWS: “The Trump administration is asking a federal appeals court to expedite its review of President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban executive order.” (Politico)
NEWS: Career federal employees are being singled out by Breitbart and other conservative sites and attacked for their “questionable loyalty.” This is pretty unprecedented behavior and it’s got career employees in a bit of a panic. These sites seem to be egging Trump on for a purge. (Politico)
NEWS: “By a largely party-line vote Tuesday, the Senate approved a bill that repeals Obama-era hunting restrictions on national wildlife refuges in Alaska. The House already voted last month to abolish those restrictions — which were instituted by the Fish and Wildlife Service in 2016 to protect predator species from hunters — and so the bill now heads to the desk of President Trump, who is widely expected to sign it.” (NPR)
NEWS: “Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Wednesday the United States would set up ‘interim zones of stability’ to help refugees return home in the next phase of the fight against Islamic State and al Qaeda.” (Reuters)
NEWS: “Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has written to the leaders of the U.S. Senate urging the ratification of Montenegro as the newest member of the NATO alliance, saying it is ‘strongly in the interests of the United States.'” (Reuters)
NEWS: Another failed North Korean missile test: “A North Korean missile appeared to have exploded on Wednesday just after it was launched, the U.S. and South Korean militaries said after detecting the latest in a series of weapons tests by the nuclear-armed state that have alarmed the region.” (Reuters)
NEWS: “A new poll released Wednesday by the firm Morning Consult found that wide margins of both conservatives and self-identified Tea Party supporters want the government to increase its spending on health care, rather than decrease it.” (Vox)
EXPLAINER: Vox digs into the “official unofficialness” of Ivanka Trump’s new not-a-job at the White House. Read it here.
EXPLAINER: “A veteran GOP strategist explains why conservative elites put up with Trump’s lies and corruption.” (Vox)
NEWS: “White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Wednesday responded to a report that President Donald Trump’s former campaign chair Paul Manafort worked “to advance the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin” by asserting that the report did not implicate Trump and citing Hillary Clinton’s dealings with Russia.” (TPM, Also: Politico)
NOTE: The White House is trying hard to push this BS line that the Clintons had extensive ties to Russia in an effort to get the spotlight off Trump. 🙄 To support this claim they’re leaning on the much-debunked story that Clinton sold uranium to Russia and also that Clinton’s campaign manager’s brother lobbied against sanctions for Russia’s largest bank last year.
NEWS: It was announced yesterday that SoS Tillerson was skipping a NATO meeting to meet with the Chinese president. NATO said today they’d try to reschedule the meeting. (AP)
NEWS: “The Trump Trade could start looking more like a Trump Tantrum if the new U.S. administration’s healthcare bill stalls in Congress, prompting worries on Wall Street about tax cuts and other measures aimed at promoting economic growth.” (Reuters)
Judge Neil Gorsuch: SCotUS Hearing
I don’t have a lot by way of commentary to offer on the Gorsuch hearings because I know very little about the SCotUS in general. My impression of Gorsuch so far is that he’s not the worst thing Trump could have nominated.
- SCotUSBlog: Afternoon round-up: Day three of Judge Gorsuch’s confirmation hearing
- SCotUSBlog: Live blog of confirmation hearing (Day Three)
- TPM: Gorsuch Declines To Comment On Scalia’s Remarks On Voting Rights Act
- TPM: Gorsuch Stonewalls Dem Senator On Key Supreme Court Privacy Decisions
- NPR: Senators Question Supreme Court Nominee Gorsuch On Day 3 Of Hearings
- TPM: Gorsuch Declines To Discuss Emoluments Clause
- Politico: Key moments from Gorsuch’s confirmation hearing
- Politico: Gorsuch: ‘I’m sorry’ for ruling against autistic student
EXPLAINER: There’s been a lot of talk about treason thrown around in the last couple of days due to the Trump-Russia thing and Paul Manafort. The Washington Post explains treason and debunks a few myths and misconceptions about it. Read it here.
ANALYSIS: Sean Spicer is having trouble answering whether or not anyone in the White House is “presently working in the interest of a foreign government.” Read all about his weird non-answers at today’s press briefing here.
"Can you say with certainty that there's nobody working for this White House that is presently working in the interest of a foreign gov't?" pic.twitter.com/RquD3jjKJs
— CBS News (@CBSNews) March 22, 2017
NEWS: “The Senate is expected to vote Wednesday afternoon to move forward with a resolution to overturn FCC privacy rules for broadband providers like Comcast and AT&T, according to a spokesman for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.” (Axios)
Looking for old Trumpster Fires? Look here.