“President Trump moved to sweep out the top ranks of the Department of Homeland Security on Monday, a day after pushing out its secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, accelerating a purge of the nation’s immigration and security leadership,” the New York Times reports. One senior official told CNN: “There is a near-systematic purge happening at the nation’s second-largest national security agency.”
The second official purged is the United States Secret Service director Randolph ‘Tex’ Alles is being removed from his position, CNN reports. “President Trump instructed his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, to fire Alles. Alles remains in his position as of now but has been asked to leave.”
“As President Trump roils the capital over illegal immigration, his influential aide Stephen Miller is playing a more aggressive behind-the-scenes role in a wider administration shakeup,” Politico reports.
“Frustrated by the lack of headway on a signature Trump campaign issue, the senior White House adviser has been arguing for personnel changes to bring in more like-minded hardliners, according to three people familiar with the situation — including the ouster of a key immigration official at the Department of Homeland Security, whose secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, announced on Sunday that she is resigning.
CNN reports that Miller also wants the President to dismiss the director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, Lee Cissna, and the department’s general counsel, John Mitnick.”
President Trump “has for months urged his administration to reinstate large-scale separation of migrant families crossing the border,” NBC News reports. “Trump’s outgoing Homeland Security secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, resisted — setting her at odds with the president… Nielsen told Trump that federal court orders prohibited the Department of Homeland Security from reinstating the policy, and that he would be reversing his own executive order from June that ended family separations.”
“A senior administration official said they believe Trump is convinced that family separation has been the most effective policy at deterring large numbers of asylum-seekers.”
Former FBI special agent Josh Campbell suggested on Twitter that Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s resignation letter bears a striking resemblance to the New York Times op-ed written by an anonymous senior administration official who said they were part of a “resistance” working to undermine Trump’s worst impulses from within. Campbell added that his theory would also fit with CNN reporting that Nielsen felt Trump had become “unhinged” on issues concerning the border.
“A Chinese woman who breached security at President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, had a stash of electronics in her hotel room, including a signal detector, nine USB drives and five SIM cards for mobile phones,” Bloomberg reports. “A signal detector is used to detect hidden video or audio-recording devices.”
“The Trump administration has just days to respond to a request from House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal to turn over six years of President Trump’s business and personal tax returns,” CNN reports. “But, while the deadline is Wednesday, the showdown for the tax returns is expected to last much longer as both sides dig in.”
“What happens next is not immediately clear, though the legal posturing on both sides suggests that a court battle could be on the horizon. Before that, however, expect the team behind the President and the team behind Neal to produce a lot of paperwork supporting why they’re right and the other is wrong.”
“President Trump promised a new plan to replace Obamacare. But the four Senate Republicans he tapped for the job aren’t jumping at the opportunity,” Politico reports.
“Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) says any new plan has to come from the White House — and that he had no warning Trump planned to make him part of the health policy group. Mitt Romney (R-UT) won’t say more than he and colleagues are ‘working on health care thoughts.’ John Barrasso (R-WY), when asked about the Republican plan, turned the question back on the opposition, saying, ‘Democrats want to go to the complete government takeover of health care.’ And Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), the fourth member of Trump’s team, hasn’t committed to anything more than conversations with colleagues’ about health care affordability.”
“Don McGahn, who has kept his head down since leaving as White House counsel, shared some off-the-record thoughts on Thursday in a lunch with about 40 senior Republican Senate aides,” Axios reports. Said McGahn: “I spent the last couple of years getting yelled at. And you may soon read about some of the more spirited debates I had with the president.”
“McGahn didn’t explicitly mention Mueller’s report, but sources in the room said they understood him to be referring to it when he said this.”
Jonathan Swan: “Nancy Pelosi has more power than anybody to decide whether Trump gets Congress’ approval to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement with his renegotiated United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. And the signs Republicans are seeing from the speaker are not filling them with hope.”
Said one source: “They may be trying to slow walk this thing to death. The longer this takes, the harder it will be with 2020 Dem primary’s full swing right around the corner.”
“President Trump is ratcheting up his attacks on immigration — making and then rescinding a threat to close the nation’s southern border in response to a problem that has worsened on his watch. He’s reviving his assault on the Affordable Care Act — frustrated by a Democratic law that has only grown more popular since his inauguration. And he is escalating his complaints about unfair trade practices — even while presiding over a ballooning trade deficit he promised to eliminate,” the Washington Postreports.
“These key themes from Trump’s 2016 victory are emerging again as the pillars of his 2020 campaign, centered on a foreboding, populist message about the perils of lax immigration policies, socialist health-care plans and foreign economic threats. He has returned to similar subjects repeatedly throughout his presidency, helping him hold onto a strong base of Republican support.”
“But Trump’s dark warnings pose a central conundrum for his reelection effort: Can he win the White House a second time by railing against the very problems he promised to fix?”
“Attorney General William Barr is likely days away from issuing a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings, but Washington may be a ghost town when he does,” Politico reports.
“The House leaves for the week on Wednesday morning while Democrats hold their annual retreat in Leesburg, Va. Then members will scatter to their districts for a two-week recess, leaving Democrats urgently clamoring for a glimpse of Mueller’s report with a choice: to react from the road or underscore their concern by reconvening early at the Capitol.”
President Trump designated Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps a “foreign terrorist organization” as part of an effort to increase international pressure on the country, the AP reports. “It’s an unprecedented move because the U.S. has never before used the designation for an entire foreign government entity.”
Washington Post: “The designation of the Revolutionary Guards Corps marks the first time Washington has branded a foreign military a terrorist group. While the designation will have little immediate impact, it runs counter to warnings from U.S. military and intelligence officials that other nations could use the designation as a precedent against U.S. action abroad.”
Jeffrey Toobin said on CNN that departing Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen will be remembered by people as “the woman who put children in cages.”
Said Toobin: “Kirstjen Nielsen I think is a great example of what happens when you go to work for Donald Trump. He is the great reputation killer. Here is this woman who was a reasonably admired bureaucrat. For the rest of her life people will look at her and think, ‘Oh, that’s the woman who put children in cages.’”
NBC News: “As congressional Democrats begin what could be a tumultuous battle to obtain President Trump’s tax returns, lawmakers in New York are trying to make it easier for them to get their hands on the president’s state filings.”
“Scheduled for introduction this week is a bill that would amend state law permit the New York Department of Taxation and Finance commissioner to release any state tax return requested by leaders of either the House Ways and Means Committee, Senate Finance Committee and the Joint Committee on Taxation for any ‘specific and legitimate legislative purpose.’ The bill seeks to amend state laws which generally prohibit the release of such tax information.”