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Who needs norms anyway? –> Just like last week, the president did something he wasn’t supposed to and his staff scrambled to argue that it wasn’t what it seemed — only for the president to contradict them, angrily declaring that the story was exactly what it seemed and that he was unrepentant.
This time, it involved the president discussing secrets with Russia that related to ISIS. These secrets were “considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the US government” Greg Miller and Greg Jaffe report for The Washington Post. Whatever Trump said “jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State.”
“I was in the room. It didn’t happen,” national security adviser H.R. McMaster told reporters. Nonetheless, Trump tweeted this morning: “As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining…to terrorism and airline flight safety.”
What the president did here isn’t exactly illegal. “Trump did not violate any criminal law concerning the disclosure of classified information here,” the staff of the Lawfare blog write. “The question of criminality, however, is by no means the end of the analysis.” They go on to suggest that Trump may have violated his oath of office, and that this latest Russia-related White House screw up raises the stakes for Comey’s replacement even further.
After news of Trump’s disclosures to the Russians made headlines yesterday, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz republished a story from January reporting that Israeli intelligence officials are reluctant to share information with the Trump administration, fearing that doing so “could lead to their being leaked to Russia and onward to Iran.”
Our president makes an impression –> NATO is trying to “Trump-proof” an upcoming meeting with the president, changing how it does things to cater to the most powerful man in the world’s notoriously short attention span, Robbie Gramer reports for Foreign Policy. “The alliance is telling heads of state to limit talks to two to four minutes at a time during the discussion, several sources inside NATO and former senior US officials tell Foreign Policy. And the alliance scrapped plans to publish the traditional full post-meeting statement meant to crystallize NATO’s latest strategic stance.”
Not promising –> Donald Trump is interviewing candidates to replace Comey as FBI director, but rank-and-file agents aren’t excited about any of them. Many are worried that he will appoint a politician who will serve a partisan agenda, Katie Bo Williams reports for The Hill.
Democracy at work –> Several Democratic senators — Patrick Leahy (VT), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) and Maggie Hassan (NH), as well as independent Bernie Sanders (VT) — have introduced two bills aimed at giving employees a greater stake in their workplaces, Kate Aronoff reports for In These Times. A provision in one of the bills would “give employees the first crack at taking over their workplace if owners move to offshore their jobs,” she writes.
Trump expands “global gag rule” –> A rule put in place by past Republican presidents barring USAID funds from being used to provide abortions overseas is getting much tougher under Trump. “The policy applies the anti-abortion rule to $8.8 billion in global health funding furnished by the State Department, USAID and the Department of Defense, instead of only $600 million in family planning funding. This means that a clinic receiving US assistance for HIV or Zika relief will lose all that money if it so much as gives pregnant women information about safe abortion care,” Laura Bassett reports for The Huffington Post.
You can’t make it up –> Before being confirmed as Secretary of Health and Human Services, Rep. Tom Price was chastised in his Senate confirmation hearing for buying shares in a biotechnology company while crafting legislation that could help the firms profits. At the same time, four other legislators apparently thought Price’s only mistake was getting caught. “On the very day that [Sen. Ron Wyden] was decrying Price’s bad judgment, Rep. Doug Lamborn, Republican of Colorado, bought shares of the same tiny Australian company, Innate Immunotherapeutics,” Maggie Severns reports for Politico. “Within two days three more members also bought in — Republicans Billy Long of Missouri, Mike Conaway of Texas and John Culberson of Texas. Conaway added more shares the following week.” This sort of behavior is endemic in Washington, Severns found.
We produce this news digest every weekday. You canto receive these updates as an email.