FBI Director James Comey tried to make public information about Russia's interference in the presidential election in the summer of 2016, but was blocked by the Obama administration, according to a Newsweek report. “He had a draft of it or an outline. He held up a piece of paper in a meeting and said, ‘I want to go forward. What do people think of this?’” a source told Newsweek. That June or July meeting allegedly included National Security Adviser Susan Rice, Secretary of State John Kerry, and Attorney General Loretta Lynch. The information would have been disseminated via an op-ed, likely in The New York Times, and it would have included much of the same information released by the FBI in January. According to the report, the officials batted down Comey’s idea because they believed the announcement would fall flat and should instead come in the form of a coordinated message instead, signed off on by multiple agencies.
President Donald Trump signed new legislation repealing a regulation protecting workers from wage theft yesterday. The new law undercuts the Obama-era policy that encouraged businesses to follow workplace safety guidelines and pay their workers fairly by terminating federal contracts with companies that accrued too many violations. The new Trump-era legislation, however, undoes those employee protections, as Republicans in Congress said the Obama rules were restrictive and job-killing. Trump referenced the bill in a Monday tweet: "Today I'm signing 4 bills under the Congressional Review Act that cancels regulations & eliminates unnecessary, job-killing rules," he wrote. "#MAGA"
President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is reportedy being lined up to lead his own White House office meant to reform the federal government via business solutions typically used in the private sector. Kushner, whose wife, Ivanka, recently obtained her own White House office, is said to be leading the new White House Office of American Innovation. “The government should be run like a great American company,” Kushner said. The bureau will allegedly come up with ideas to help the government become more lean and effective. “All Americans, regardless of their political views, can recognize that government stagnation has hindered our ability to properly function, often creating widespread congestion and leading to cost overruns and delays,” Trump said in a statement to The Washington Post. “I promised the American people I would produce results, and apply my ‘ahead of schedule, under budget’ mentality to the government.”
Eight people were reportedly arrested across the U.K. last night in the aftermath of the attack near Britain’s Parliament on Wednesday that left three people dead and at least 29 still hospitalized. Detectives carried out armed police raids at six addresses, in London, Birmingham, and elsewhere throughout the night, said Acting Deputy Commissioner and Head of Counter Terrorism Mark Rowley. Seven pedestrians were still in critical condition following the attack, during which a man identified only as a British citizen, said by Scotland Yard to be connected to “Islamic terrorism in some form,” drove a car across Westminster Bridge and ran over everyone in his path. He eventually crashed the car and then fled. He stabbed a police officer before he was finally shot dead.
While refusing to disclose his personal views on same-sex marriage, Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch said today that he does believe—as others have said—that following the 2015 SCOTUS instituting marriage equality is the law of the land. Grilled by Senator Al Franken (D-MN) on whether his views on the matter have changed at all in the past decade, Gorsuch declined to explain his own views, but conceded that it is “absolutely settled law.” However, he noted in his next breath, “there is ongoing litigation about its impact and its application right now.”
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said late last week that preemptive military action against North Korea is “an option on the table” and that the U.S. policy of “strategic patience” regarding the isolated nation is over. “Certainly we do not want to, for things to get to military conflict,” Tillerson told reporters at a Seoul press conference. “If they elevate the threat of their weapons program to a level that we believe requires action, then, that option’s on the table.” He also ruled out any negotiations to reach a deal on North Korea freezing its nuclear-weapons development program. Tillerson made the comments just one day after he’d issued public assurances that Pyongyang “need not fear” the U.S. and could just abandon its “dangerous and unlawful” nuclear-weapons program.
President Trump’s newly released budget request asks Congress for $1.5 billion to begin developing a border wall separating the U.S. and Mexico—and that’s just the money needed for the current fiscal year. The White House will ask for an additional $2.6 billion in funding for the wall in the fiscal year 2018 budget request. The initial money, part of a $30 billion supplemental spending request sent to lawmakers this week, is to begin developing design and locations for the project, according to White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney. The 2018 budget also requests additional spending related to the wall, including more Border Patrol agents and immigration-enforcement agents. “I think the funding provides for a couple of pilot cases… different kinds of barriers in different kinds of places,” Mulvaney told reporters. “We try and find the most cost-efficient, the safest, and also the most effective border protections.”
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said President Trump’s controversial wiretapping allegations against former President Barack Obama were meant generally, not literally. “He doesn’t really think that President Obama went up and tapped his phone personally,” Spicer said, according to the New York Times. The claim by Trump last weekend that “President Obama was tapping my phones” left intelligence-agency officials baffled, with no evidence available to back up the allegation. The Justice Department, tasked with conducting a probe to support Trump’s claim, has yet to provide any evidence of such wiretapping and on Monday requested more time for its investigation. Spicer seemed to walk back the president’s accusation by suggesting that Trump’s version of “wiretapping” referred to a broad range of surveillance. “The president was very clear in his tweet that it was, you know, ‘wiretapping,’” he said, making a gesture to indicate quotation marks. “That spans a whole host of surveillance types of options,” he said. Spicer went on to back up Trump’s claim, saying there’d been “numerous reports from a variety of outlets over the last couple months that seemed to indicate that there has been different types of surveillance that occurred during the 2016 election.”
According to a report in Reuters, 26-year-old California resident Jonathan Tran, who scaled the White House fence and entered the grounds over the weekend, could face up to 10 years in prison. President Trump was at the White House when the incident transpired on Friday night. Tran reportedly told Secret Service agents that he was a friend of the president and had an appointment with him. He was carrying two cans of mace, a computer and one of Trump's books. Tran also had a letter he had written to the president which he said contained relevant information about "Russian hackers."
Long-time diplomat and former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman has been offered the role of U.S. ambassador to Russia. Huntsman famously called upon then-GOP nominee Donald Trump to drop out of the election last year following the release of audio showing the reality-TV star bragging about groping women. He previously served as the U.S. ambassador to Singapore under President George H.W. Bush; and the U.S. ambassador to China under President Obama. Sources said Huntsman plans to accept the offer.
The House Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act includes a tax deduction for health-insurance executives. “Generally, employers may deduct the remunerations paid to employees as ‘ordinary and necessary’ business expenses,” the draft bill, introduced Monday evening, noted. “Obamacare added a limitation for certain health insurance providers that exceeds $500,000 paid to officer, director, or employee. This section repeals the limit on the deduction of a covered health insurance provider for compensation attributable to services performed by an applicable individual starting in 2018.”
The New York Times and NBC News reported today that FBI Director James Comey has asked the Justice Department to publicly rebuke President Donald Trump's claim that President Obama ordered the tapping of Trump's phones — a claim completely unsupported by evidence, and one that insinuates the Bureau broke the law. However, since his reported request, the Justice Department has not issued a statement and both the department as well as the FBI refused to comment on the Times report. "A statement by the Justice Department or Mr. Comey refuting Mr. Trump’s allegations would be a remarkable rebuke of a sitting president," the Times writes, "putting the nation’s top law enforcement officials in the position of questioning the truthfulness of the government’s top leader."
NBC News cameras caught up with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions today, the morning after reports emerged that he had spoken twice with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. during the 2016 campaign—a fact he did not disclose during his Senate confirmation hearings. “I have not met with any Russians at any time to discuss any political campaign,” Sessions told NBC News, continuing his camp’s insistence that while he met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, he did not mislead anyone by not disclosing the conversations. According to Sessions and his spokesperson, the meetings were entirely unrelated to the 2016 presidential campaign, despite the ex-senator’s role as a prominent Trump surrogate. Additionally, Sessions told NBC News that he will recuse himself from the Department of Justice’s probe of Russian meddling in the election “whenever it’s appropriate.”