Day 473: Fighting back.

1/ Trump plans to ask Congress to cut $7 billion from the Children's Health Insurance Program. $5 billion would come from the Children’s Health Insurance Fund, which reimburses states for certain expenses, and $2 billion would come from the Child Enrollment Contingency Fund, meant to ensure states have access to funds if there is a higher-than-expected enrollment. In total, Trump wants Congress to strip more than $15 billion in previously approved spending from more than 30 different programs. The White House insists that the CHIP cuts would not affect access to health care. (Washington Post)

2/ The Trump administration will refer every person caught crossing the border illegally for federal prosecution, separating parents from their children, instead of keeping them in detention together. "If you are smuggling a child then we will prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you as required by law," Jeff Sessions said. "If you don't like that, then don't smuggle children over our border." Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen signed a memo Friday that directs the department to refer all suspected border-crossers to the Justice Department for prosecution under a federal statute that prohibits illegal entry. (Politico / NBC News / CNN)

3/ Trump: There is no obstruction of justice, "it's called Fighting Back." Trump attacked Robert Mueller's team, tweeting that "The Russia Witch Hunt is rapidly losing credibility." He added: "The 13 Angry Democrats in charge of the Russian Witch Hunt are starting to find out that there is a Court System in place that actually protects people from injustice…and just wait 'till the Courts get to see your unrevealed Conflicts of Interest!" (NPR / NBC News / The Hill / CNN)

4/ Robert Mueller interviewed Tom Barrack, one of Trump's closest friends and confidants. The special counsel interviewed Barrack as part of the investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia in the 2016 election campaign and afterwards. The questioning focused on Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, financial issues related to the campaign, the transition and Trump's inauguration in January 2017. The interview was "months ago." (Associated Press)

  • Former Trump campaign aide Michael Caputo said Robert Mueller's team seemed to already know the answers to the questions they asked him during his interview with the special counsel last week. "Every question they asked me," Caputo said, "they already had the answers to." (The Hill)

  • Roger Stone said he hasn't been contacted by Robert Mueller or his team despite reported scrutiny by investigators over his contact with WikiLeaks and meetings with Rick Gates during the 2016 campaign. (CNN)

5/ Former prosecutors expect Robert Mueller's investigation to either wrap up before or "go dark" for November's midterm elections, which are six months away. While Mueller doesn't face a legal deadline, the fall midterms are a political one and the special counsel wouldn't want to sway voters' decisions. (Wall Street Journal)

6/ Trump's midterm strategy: Raise the possibility of impeachment to caution Republicans against letting the House and Senate fall into Democratic control. "We have to keep the House because if we listen to Maxine Waters, she's going around saying, 'We will impeach him,'" Trump said at a recent rally in Michigan. "We gotta go out and we gotta fight like hell and we gotta win the House and we gotta win the Senate." A person who worked on strategy with Trump's team said the midterms pose more risk to Trump than his outstanding legal issues, including Robert Mueller's investigation. "It's always been about a potential impeachment." (Politico)

7/ House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes threatened to hold Jeff Sessions in contempt of Congress for failing to hand over classified materials related to the Russia investigation. On Friday, the Justice Department informed Nunes that providing the information on a "specific individual" could harm national security. Nunes has previously threatened on several occasions to hold Justice Department officials in contempt of Congress for failing to turn over documents, only to not read the materials once they were made available to him. (CNN)

8/ Gina Haspel offered to withdraw her nomination to become the next CIA director after White House officials raised concerns that her role in the torture of suspected terrorists at a CIA black site in Thailand could derail her Senate confirmation hearing. Haspel oversaw a secret CIA detention facility in Thailand in late 2001, where at least one al-Qaeda suspect was waterboarded. Three years later she was involved in the destruction of almost 100 videotapes of the interrogations. Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Marc Short, the White House's director of legislative affairs, met with Haspel and pushed for her to remain as the nominee. Trump tweeted his support for Haspel, while preemptively blaming Democrats if her nomination fails, saying "Democrats want [her] OUT because she is too tough on terror." (Washington Post / NBC News)

  • National security officials and some Republicans are preparing contingency plans in case Gina Haspel's nomination to lead the CIA fails. One plan calls for preparing Susan Gordon, the deputy director of national intelligence, to potentially take Haspel's place. (CNN)

9/ Trump knew about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels several months before he denied any knowledge of it to reporters aboard Air Force One in April. While it's not clear when Trump learned of the payment, which Michael Cohen made in October 2016, Trump did know that Cohen had succeeded in keeping the allegations from becoming public when he denied it. Last week, Giuliani said Cohen was reimbursed between $460,000 and $470,000 for various payments. Cohen was mainly reimbursed through payments of $35,000 per month – or about $420,000 over 12 months – from Trump's personal trust. (New York Times)

10/ Trump's aides hired an Israeli spy firm to find incriminating material on diplomats in the Obama administration who helped negotiate the Iran nuclear deal. People inside the Trump administration reached out to investigators at an Israeli private intelligence agency last May to "get dirt" on Ben Rhodes, one of Obama's top national security advisers, and Colin Kahl, deputy assistant to Obama. The move was part of an elaborate scheme to discredit the Iran deal. (The Guardian)

  • Trump will announce whether he will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal tomorrow. Trump called the accord a "disaster" and vowed to kill it during the 2016 presidential campaign. (New York Times)

poll/ 57% of Americans hold a favorable view of Melania Trump – up from 47% in January. (CNN)

poll/ 41% of Americans approve of Trump's job as president – 53% disapprove. (CNN)


Dept. of Things Rudy Giuliani Said Lately.

  1. If Trump agrees to an interview with Robert Mueller, he could invoke his 5th Amendment right to protect against self-incrimination by refusing to respond to some questions. (Los Angeles Times / New York Times)

  2. Trump is under no obligation to obey a subpoena, saying "we don't have to comply" with one. "They don't have a case on collusion, they don't have obstruction … He's the president of the United States. We can assert privilege other presidents [have]." (Politico / ABC News)

  3. Giuliani is "focused on the law more than the facts right now," when it comes to Trump's legal situation. "Well, I have just on been on board couple of weeks," Giuliani said. He continued: "The whole situation of the $130,000 doesn't require an analysis of the facts because it wasn't intended as a campaign contribution. It was intended as a personal, embarrassing, harassing claim." (CNN)

  4. "People don't go away for $130,000," Giuliani said, calling the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels "a nuisance payment" rather than "a settlement" and that "People don't go away for $130,000." (ABC News)

  5. It's possible that Michael Cohen paid off other women for Trump, Giuliani said. "I have no knowledge of that, but I would think if it was necessary, yes." Public records showed Cohen "gained access to as much as $774,000 … during the 2016 presidential campaign as he sought to fix problems for his boss." (Washington Post / The Guardian / Wall Street Journal)

  6. Trump is "committed to" regime change in Iran, saying it's "the only way to peace in the Middle East" and "more important than an Israeli-Palestinian deal." (Politico)


Notables.

  1. Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee plan to release a trove of 3,000 Russian-linked Facebook ads later this week. The release of the ads would offer a broad picture of how the social network was used by the pro-Russian Internet Research Agency during and after the 2016 presidential election. (Wall Street Journal)

  2. Melania Trump revealed her formal platform: "Be Best." The program will focus on well-being, fighting opioid abuse, and positivity on social media. The program will encourage children to "be best" in their emotional, social, and physical health. (CNN)

  3. John McCain told friends that he does not want Trump to attend his funeral and would like Mike Pence to come instead. During the 2016 presidential primary, Trump said McCain was considered a war hero only "because he was captured" during the Vietnam War and that he prefers military figures weren't taken prisoner by the enemy. (New York Times / NBC News)

  4. The Affordable Care Act calorie count rule went to into effect today, which requires restaurants with 20 or more locations to list calories on all menus and provide on-site additional nutritional information, such as fat and sodium levels. (Politico)

  5. Connecticut voted to pool their electoral college votes for the presidential candidate who wins the popular vote. If Democratic governor Dannel Malloy signs the legislation into law, as expected, Connecticut will be the 12th jurisdiction – 11 states and the District of Columbia – to enter the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. (The Guardian)

  6. Trump urged voters in West Virginia to vote against Don Blankenship in the Republican Senate primary. A Blankenship win would hurt the party's chances of defeating Democratic Senator Joe Manchin in November. Blankenship "can't win the General Election in your State…No way!," Trump tweeted. "Remember Alabama." (Politico / New York Times)

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