“The Justice Department, after weeks of tense negotiations, has agreed to provide Congress with key evidence collected by Robert Mueller that could shed light on possible obstruction of justice and abuse of power by President Trump, the House Judiciary Committee said on Monday,” the New York Times reports.
“The Transportation Department under Secretary Elaine Chao designated a special liaison to help with grant applications and other priorities from her husband Mitch McConnell’s state of Kentucky, paving the way for grants totaling at least $78 million for favored projects as McConnell prepared to campaign for reelection,” Politico reports.
“Ken Cuccinelli, the head of a conservative political action committee that has caused headaches for Republican senators, has been tapped as acting director of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services,” NBC News reports.
“DHS secretary Kevin McAleenan announced the move in an email to agency staff Monday, though the mechanics of whether it would include an official nomination were not immediately clear.”
“In a meeting last week in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, Democratic lawmakers gathered to craft a plan — including specific legislative fixes — to respond to the Mueller report,” NBC News reports.
“Pelosi is hoping hearings around legislative fixes will highlight the worst wrongdoing contained in the Mueller report, and possibly broaden public support for impeachment.”
“One likely piece of legislation would be framed as ‘Duty to Report,’ requiring presidential campaign aides and entities to report foreign contacts and influence to law enforcement… Also at the top of the menu is a package of legislation to address election security and obstruction of justice by a sitting president, potentially specifically prohibiting a president from interfering in law enforcement activity.”
“The Mexican foreign minister said Monday that no secret immigration deal existed between his country and the United States, directly contradicting President Trump’s claim on Twitter that a ‘fully signed and documented’ agreement would be revealed soon,” the New York Timesreports.
“Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico’s top diplomat, said at a news conference in Mexico City that there was an understanding that both sides would evaluate the flow of migrants in the coming months. And if the number of migrants crossing the United States border was not significantly reduced, he said, both sides had agreed to renew discussions about more aggressive changes to regional asylum rules that could make a bigger impact.”
Associated Press: “The hearings [in Congress this week] will focus on the two main topics of Mueller’s report, obstruction of justice and Russian election interference. The House Judiciary Committee plans to cover the first topic at a Monday hearing on ‘presidential obstruction and other crimes.’ The House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday intends to review the counterintelligence implications of the Russian meddling. Mueller said there was not enough evidence to establish a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia, but he said he could not exonerate Trump on obstruction.”
“On Tuesday, the House has scheduled a vote to authorize contempt cases against Attorney General Bill Barr and former White House counsel Donald McGahn for failing to comply with subpoenas from the Democratic-controlled House.”
“The tree planted by Donald Trump and his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, at the White House as a symbol of their countries’ ties has died,” the Guardian reports. “The oak was given as a gift to the US president during Macron’s visit in 2018.”
New York Times: “Liberal activists, hoping for a chance to offset the growing conservative presence in the courts, have identified a pool of potential judicial vacancies that could remain out of Mr. Trump’s reach — scores of seats held by veteran judges appointed by Democrats who may be biding their time, awaiting the outcome of the 2020 presidential race.”
Said Nan Aron, the president of the Alliance for Justice: “It is essential to be ready on Day 1 of a new administration with names to fill every vacancy. This is to start identifying people so the new president won’t waste a minute in addressing this need.”
“The initiative is called Building the Bench, and the Alliance for Justice is being joined in underwriting and supporting it by a number of other liberal advocacy groups and labor unions. A group of more than 30 law professors and lawyers will serve as an advisory board.”
President Trump told CNBC that he believes China will make a deal with the U.S. “because they’re going to have to.” Trump defended his threats to slap tariffs on Mexico and China, which he said are putting the U.S. “at a tremendous competitive advantage.”
He added: “Right now, China is getting absolutely decimated by companies that are leaving China, going to other countries, including our own, because they don’t want to pay the tariffs.”
Ben LaBolt: “The Trump campaign launched at the start of 2019 and hasn’t paused for a day. It is using the candidate’s schedule, a staffed-up campaign team, and a sophisticated digital-advertising effort to reach its target voters. The campaign has spent more than $5 million on Facebook ads, with a particular focus on older voters and women, firing up the base by attacking “fake news” and promoting its message on immigration. The advertising team has gone beyond social-media campaigns, sponsoring podcasts and creating a significant paid-media presence on YouTube. In fact, Trump is outspending Democrats six to one on video ads, the primary digital-engagement tool for voters today.”
“Simultaneously, Trump has begun to hold rallies in battleground states across the country, dipping into media markets where he can fire up his base, such as Panama City, Florida, and battleground markets, such as Green Bay, Wisconsin. Many of these visits lead to localized polling bumps that last for weeks.”
“A real estate company part-owned by Jared Kushner has received $90m in foreign funding from an opaque offshore vehicle since he entered the White House as a senior adviser to his father-in-law Donald Trump,” the Guardian reports.
“Investment has flowed from overseas to the company, Cadre, while Kushner works as an international envoy for the US… The money came through a vehicle run by Goldman Sachs in the Cayman Islands, a tax haven that guarantees corporate secrecy.”
Washington Post: “The NRA, which has been rocked by allegations of exorbitant spending by top executives, also directed money in recent years to members of its board — the very people tasked with overseeing the organization’s finances.”
“In all, 18 members of the NRA’s 76-member board, who are not paid as directors, collected money from the group during the past three years, according to tax filings, state charitable reports and NRA correspondence reviewed by The Washington Post.”
“The payments received by about one-quarter of board members, the extent of which has not previously been reported, deepen questions about the rigor of the board’s oversight as it steered the country’s largest and most powerful gun rights group, according to tax experts and some longtime members.”
“The American South spent much of the past century trying to overcome its position as the country’s poorest and least-developed region, with considerable success: By the 2009 recession it had nearly caught up economically with its northern and western neighbors,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“That trend has now reversed. Since 2009, the South’s convergence has turned to divergence, as the region recorded the country’s slowest growth in output and wages, the lowest labor-force participation rate and the highest unemployment rate.”
“Behind the reversal: The policies that drove the region’s catch-up—relatively low taxes and low wages that attracted factories and blue-collar jobs—have proven inadequate in an expanding economy where the forces of globalization favor cities with concentrations of capital and educated workers.”
Wall Street Journal: “The commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East said he may recommend a return to a larger U.S. military presence in the area after concluding that the deployment of this aircraft carrier and other capabilities helped curtail Iranian threats.”
Meanwhile, the Financial Times reports Qatar’s foreign minister warned Iran and the U.S. are locked in “stalemate” and both parties need to compromise to avoid a “miscalculation” triggering a conflict.
“Iran’s foreign minister warned the U.S. on Monday that it ‘cannot expect to stay safe’ after launching what he described as an economic war against Tehran, taking a hard-line stance amid a visit by Germany’s top diplomat seeking to defuse tensions,” the AP reports.
“President Trump spent much of this weekend tweeting that Mexico will take ‘strong measures’ against northward migration as a result of Friday’s trade deal, and bewailing the ‘Corrupt Media’ for underplaying those measures’ significance, Politico reports.
“But Trump didn’t specify any Mexican concessions on immigration, referring vaguely to unnamed ‘things we had, or didn’t have.’ And the one concession the president did specify (in a Saturday tweet), concerning agricultural trade, did not appear in the joint statement issued Friday.”
“Neither the White House, nor the State Department, nor the Homeland Security Department volunteered any clarification to the president’s tweets Sunday.”
“As the special counsel’s investigators pursued the question of whether President Trump tried to impede their work, they uncovered compelling evidence — a voice mail recording and statements from a trusted witness — that might have led to him,” the New York Times reports.
“A lawyer for Mr. Trump, John Dowd, reached out to a lawyer for a key witness who had just decided to cooperate with the government, Michael Flynn. Mr. Dowd fished in his message for a heads-up if Mr. Flynn was telling investigators negative information about Mr. Trump — while also appearing to say that if Mr. Flynn was just cutting a deal without also flipping on the president, then he should know Mr. Trump still liked him.”
“But the president’s role, if any, remains a mystery.”
Axios: “At Mar-a-Lago, we’re seeing a whole new form of lobbying. People pay dues to the private club of the president of the United States, then try to influence him in person on government policy — all outside the normal watchdogs and strictures and surveillance of Washington. It’s a stunning situation.”
Trump is “in his happy place at his club or at the golf course. He is completely relaxed. And that’s when he’s most receptive to ideas. It’s this weird world where you’ve got him at the dining table people come up and talk to him and you get an invaluable piece of time with the most powerful person on earth.”