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Daily Reads: Is a Government Shutdown on the Horizon?; US Alleges “Acoustic Attack” on Officials in Cuba

A roundup of stories we're reading at BillMoyers.com HQ...

US Alleges "Acoustic Attack" on Officials in Cuba

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“Both parties are dreading the looming showdown” –> The Trump regime is offering congressional Dems a deal: They can get some more money for non-defense discretionary spending in exchange for a big boost in military spending and funding Trump’s wall. Seung Min Kim, Rachel Bade and John Bresnahan report for Politico that so far, Dems aren’t biting.

Democracy, if you can keep it –> Despite overwhelming evidence that it’s not true, a new poll finds that 73 percent of Republicans believe that voter fraud is common, 47 percent believe that Trump won the popular vote last year, and, most troublingly, 52 percent of them would support postponing the 2020 election if Trump proposed doing so.

As if we need more international tensions –> The State Department “believes American diplomats serving in Cuba were subject to an ‘acoustic attack’ in fall 2016 using a covert sonic weapon that left the Americans with severe hearing loss,” writes Elliot Hannon at Slate.

Stepping on that rake –> Alinsky-loving right-wing provocateur James O’Keefe may be behind an attempted “sting” against the League of Conservation Voters, but the organization caught on and the undercover operators who apparently tried to infiltrate the organization may be facing some serious legal troubles. Jane Mayer has more at The New Yorker.

Off-the-cuff –> The New York Times’ Peter Baker and Glenn Thrush confirm our worst fears: While Trump glanced repeatedly a document as he issued his “fire and fury” warning to North Korea, “the piece of paper, as it turned out, was a fact sheet on the opioid crisis he had come to talk about, and his ominous warning to Pyongyang was entirely improvised.”

On Wednesday, cooler heads prevailed, and “Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis have issued more normal-sounding statements intended to supersede the president’s improvised one,” writes Jonathan Chait at New York magazine.

It’s somewhat reassuring…

And Adele Stan writes at The American Prospect that the incident only highlights Trump’s lack of fitness to lead the most powerful country on Earth.

Relatedly, Alberto Nardelli asked a number of “senior diplomats and officials from the US’s European allies” about Trump for BuzzFeed, and found that “on one level… he is something of a laughingstock among Europeans at international gatherings,” but “behind the mocking, there is growing fear among international governments that Trump is a serious threat to international peace and stability.”

The heat is on –> Michael Schmidt and Adam Goldman report for The New York Times that the FBI’s predawn raid at former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s Virginia home sought to find “tax documents and foreign banking records, a sign that the inquiry into Mr. Manafort has broadened.”

Josh Dawsey and Darren Samuelsohn report for Politico that “investigators sought cooperation from Paul Manafort’s son-in-law in an effort to increase pressure on” Manafort.

At Bloomberg, Tom Schoenberg argues that Trump’s legal team is just no match for the prosecutorial firepower working under special counsel Robert Mueller.

Aaron Rupar notes for ThinkProgress that only hours after the the raid, Trump went on a Twitter jag that included a call for Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe to be fired. It was also the day that Trump unexpectedly announced his ban on trans servicemen and women in the US military.

Speaking of which –> Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern writes that the first lawsuit challenging Trump’s as-yet-to-be formalized ban is particularly clever, but it’s not clear if the case is yet “ripe” for judicial review as the military hasn’t taken any action so far.

And Democrats won a special election in Iowa that Republicans had turned into an ugly referendum on trans rights, according to The Intercept’s Maryam Saleh

And speaking of raids –> The FBI conducted a search of Rep. Duncan Hunter’s (R-CA) campaign office in February, seeking evidence that the representative misused campaign funds. Sarah Wire reports for The Los Angeles Times that investigators became interested when the campaign purchased a bunch of video games for Duncan’s children.

Still speaking of raids –> Michelle Chen reports for In These Times that “immigration authorities’ ruthless assaults on communities continues apace,” as “Trump appears to be fast tracking deportation proceedings even for aspiring college students, domestic violence victims and family breadwinners.”

Bolling sues –> Eric Bolling, the latest Fox News personality to be hit with allegations of sexual harassment, is suing Yashar Ali, the HuffPost reporter who broke the story that got Bolling suspended, for defamation. Ali says he stands by his reporting, according to Politico’s Hadas Gold.

Civil Wars –> Robert Mercer, a hedge fund honcho and major Trump backer, is ponying up to support a primary challenge against Jeff Flake, one of the few vulnerable GOP senators in 2018. Alex Isenstadt has more at Politico.

Quite a hill to die on –> Maine’s far-right governor, Paul LePage, is furious that lawmakers raised the legal age for purchasing tobacco products to 21 in an attempt to curb youth smoking. He’s introducing a flurry of bills raising the legal age for other activities in an effort to expose the legislature’s “hypocrisy,” but they appear to run afoul of the Constitution, according to Kevin Miller at The Portland Press-Herald.

Daily Reads was compiled by BillMoyers.com staff and edited by Kristin Miller.

We produce this news digest every weekday. You can sign up to receive these updates as an email.