- Attorney General William Barr will release a redacted version of the Mueller report at 11am tomorrow, and everybody is already steamed about it. The New York Times reported that White House lawyers and Justice Department officials discussed the report before its release to prep a rebuttal. Democrats and Beltway journalists criticized Barr for holding a press conference an hour and a half before he releases the report. “The attorney general appears to be waging a media campaign on behalf of President Trump,” House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler said.
- It appears former Virginia governor and longtime Democratic Party fixture Terry McAuliffe won’t be entering the already crowded 2020 presidential race, despite having “flirted with a Democratic presidential run for months” and teasing a primetime CNN appearance to announce his intentions.
- House Democrats subpoenaed nine banks in their probe of President Trump’s finances, the Wall Street Journal is reporting.
House Democrats subpoenaed nine banks in inquiry into Trump's finances
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that House Democrats, looking into President Trump’s financial interests, have subpoenaed JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc., Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo & Co., Bank of America, Capital One Financial Corp., Deutsche Bank, Royal Bank of Canada and Toronto Dominion Bank.
Investigators on the House Financial Services Committee and House Intelligence Committee have focused their early efforts on Deutsche Bank, which has said it in engaged “in a productive dialogue” with the committees.
Deutsche Bank’s relationship with Mr. Trump goes back decades. Since 1998, the bank has led or participated in loans of at least $2.5 billion to companies affiliated with Mr. Trump, The Wall Street Journal has reported.
The other banks declined to comment or couldn’t immediately be reached Wednesday.
Mr. Trump has denied any wrongdoing and has called the probes launched by House Democrats earlier this year “presidential harassment.”
At a press conference tonight, House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler blasted Attorney General William Barr’s handling of the Mueller report release: “The attorney general appears to be waging a media campaign on behalf of President Trump.”
Barr “is trying to bake-in the narrative” to benefit the White House, Nadler said. “This is wrong. This is not the proper role of the attorney general.”
Depending on how heavily redacted Thursday’s released report will be, the House Judiciary Committee could still decide to subpoena Mueller and his staff for more clarity, Nadler said.
The Associated Press is reporting that former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe will not be running for president in 2020.
McAuliffe had flirted with a Democratic presidential run for months, popping up in early voting states late last year and campaigning with candidates in Iowa and New Hampshire, but ultimately decided against mounting a bid, according to the two people, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to avoid pre-empting McAuliffe’s announcement.
The longtime fixture in the Democratic Party is set to announce his intentions on CNN at 9 pm EST.
Looks like the Democrats and House Judiciary chair Jerry Nadler will be speaking out about Attorney General Barr’s handling of the Mueller report release.
Missing from all press conferences? Mueller himself.
Many are expressing frustration with the new timeline for Thursday’s release of the Mueller report:
House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler reacts to the New York Times report that White House lawyers and Justice Department officials discussed the Mueller report before its release. The congressman also provides a new timeline for the report’s release.
The House Oversight Committee has invited one of President Trump’s longest-lasting advisers, Stephen Miller, to testify on Capitol Hill.
Miller was the architect of the first travel ban and has shaped this administration’s policy on immigration.
White House lawyers discussed Mueller report with DOJ officials prior to release
The New York Times is reporting that the White House lawyers don’t have to wait until Thursday like everyone else to see the redacted Mueller report:
Justice Department officials have had numerous conversations with White House lawyers about the conclusions made by Mr. Mueller, the special counsel, in recent days, according to people with knowledge of the discussions. The talks have aided the president’s legal team as it prepares a rebuttal to the report and strategizes for the coming public war over its findings.
A sense of paranoia is taking hold among some of Mr. Trump’s aides, some of whom fear his backlash more than the findings themselves, the people said. The report might make clear which of Mr. Trump’s current and former advisers spoke to the special counsel, how much they said and how much damage they did to the president — providing a kind of road map for retaliation.
The discussions between Justice Department officials and White House lawyers have also added to questions about the propriety of the decisions by Attorney General William P. Barr since he received Mr. Mueller’s findings late last month.
Terry McAuliffe to announce 2020 intentions
Possibly adding yet another candidate to an already very crowded field, former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe is set to appear on CNN tonight to “end months of speculation”.
More on the imminent release of the redacted Mueller report:
Hey everybody, Vivian Ho on the west coast taking over for Erin Durkin. Hope everyone is having a nice Wednesday.
- The Trump administration imposed new restrictions on travel and sending money to Cuba, as well as new sanctions on Venezuela and Nicaragua, three countries National Security Adviser John Bolton called the “three stooges of socialism.”
- Attorney General William Barr scheduled a 9:30am press conference to discuss the Mueller report, which will be released tomorrow, as a dozen Donald Trump lawyers and aides prepared a rapid response.
- Senator Kamala Harris expressed regret about the truancy law she championed in California, which led to some parents being jailed for their kids missing excessive amounts of school.
Beto O’Rourke said the US should not break up Amazon and other big tech companies, opposing a plan put forth by his rival Elizabeth Warren.
“I think we need to do more to ensure dynamism in our economy and address corporate concentration,” O’Rourke said Wednesday at a campaign event in Virginia, Business Insider reported. “I don’t know that breaking up Amazon is the way to do that.”
Attorney General William Barr has scheduled a 9:30am press conference to discuss the Mueller report, per AP.
Attorney General William Barr will hold a press conference Thursday after the Mueller report is released, Donald Trump said in a radio interview with WRAL.
Trump said he may also have his own press conference.
Herman Cain will not withdraw from consideration for the Federal Reserve board, the Wall Street Journal reports.
“I don’t want an out,” he told the paper.
After a handful of Republicans said they would not support Cain, he appears to lack the necessary votes for confirmation in the Senate.
Immigration advocates are denouncing Attorney General William Barr’s order to prevent some asylum seekers from being released from detention on bail.
This quiz from the New Orleans Times Picayune, comparing the statements of Louisiana Senator John Kennedy and cartoon chicken Foghorn Leghorn, is much harder than you might guess.
Beto O’Rourke called Donald Trump’s attacks on Rep. Ilhan Omar “racist” and “hateful.”
“He’s trying to incite hatred, Islamophobia and, I would argue, violence against her and other Muslims in this country,” O’Rourke said at the College of William & Mary in Virginia, Fox News reported.
National Security Adviser John Bolton denounced Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua as the “three stooges of socialism” as he announced new sanctions on the Latin American countries.
The US will now cap how much money families in the US can send to relatives in Cuba at $1,000 per person per quarter, the Associated Press reported. The administration is also ordering new restrictions on travel to Cuba by US citizens, except for trips to visit family.
Bolton, in a speech in Florida to veterans of the Bay of Pigs invasion, also announced sanctions on the Central Bank of Venezuela and financial services provider Bancorp, which he labeled a “slush fund” for Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega, AP reported.
“The United States looks forward to watching each corner of this sordid triangle of terror fall: in Havana, in Caracas, and in Managua,” he said.
The announcement comes after the State Department said it would allow US citizens to sue foreign companies doing business in properties seized by the Cuban government after the 1959 communist revolution. The move will allow lawsuits against mostly European companies that operate out of hotels and other properties that were nationalized by Fidel Castro’s government, either owned by Americans before the revolution or owned by Cubans who have since become US citizens.
Ivanka Trump said her father asked her if she was interested in the job of running the World Bank, but she passed.
She told the Associated Press her father raised the job with her as “a question” and she told him she was “happy with the work” she’s doing as an adviser at the White House.
Donald Trump has said he considered naming Ivanka as World Bank chief.
Trump administration restricts Cuba travel and remittances
The Trump administration is tightening restrictions on travel and remittances to Cuba, the Miami Herald reports.
Travel to Cuba will only be allowed for family visits, restricting the educational visits that had been allowed under the Obama administration.
There will also be new limits on remittances, money sent by Cuban Americans to their relatives back home.
The new ruled are expected to be announced by National Security Advisor John Bolton at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables Wednesday afternoon.
Anti-gay protesters dressed as Satan and Jesus appeared at Pete Buttigieg’s Iowa campaign event today, according to images posted by reporters on scene.
Senator Ron Johnson, the chair of the Homeland Security committee, is preparing legislation to make asylum rules more restrictive, the Washington Post reports.
The Wisconsin Republican told the Post his bill would aim to more quickly and rigorously judge the claims of asylum seekers, and keep them detained longer so they can be quickly deported if their claims are denied.
Donald Trump has attempted at various points to stop taking asylum claims altogether, require asylum seekers to stay in Mexico, and keep them detained while their claims are assessed. Legal barriers have blocked many of his gambits. He has also threatened to close the border altogether or to ship asylum seekers to “sanctuary cities.”
On Thursday, Attorney General William Barr ordered judges to stop allowing asylum seekers to post bail and get released.
The current standard allows asylum seekers to stay in the country and pursue their claim if they demonstrate a “credible fear” they would be persecuted on return to their native country. But Johnson said he would propose toughening that standard, so that applicants would have to show it is more probable than not that their case will succeed.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the US will not make a trade deal with the UK if Brexit leads to new hostilities in Northern Ireland.
“Let me be clear: if the Brexit deal undermines the Good Friday Accords, there will be no chance of a U.S.-U.K. trade agreement,” Pelosi said in a Wednesday address to the Irish parliament, the Hill reported.
The US currently has trade arrangements with the European Union, so a new agreement with the UK would be needed after Britain exits the bloc.
Kamala Harris expresses regret over California truancy law
Senator Kamala Harris expressed regret that an anti-truancy law she championed was used by some California prosecutors to jail the parents of kids who chronically missed school.
“My regret is that I have now heard stories where in some jurisdictions, DAs have criminalized the parents. And I regret that that has happened, and the thought that anything I did could have led to that. Because that certainly was not the intention, never was the intention,” Harris said in an appearance on Pod Save America.
As San Franciso district attorney, Harris prosecuted at least 25 truancy cases, but no parents were arrested or jailed. Instead they were issued citations to come to court. Later, while running for attorney general of California, she championed a new statewide anti-truancy law that said parents of chronically truant students could face a maximum penalty of a year in jail.
Harris told the podcast she would not support such a law on a national level, after learning that prosecutors in some jurisdictions did go through with jailing parents.
She said she promoted the truancy crackdown because some children were missing almost half the school year, and the law did not distinguish between that kind of chronic truancy and a handful of unexcused absences.
“The system was failing these kids, not putting the services in place to keep them in school,” she said. “I wanted to avoid a situation where those children end up being criminalized, sometimes for their entire life time, because we fail them in the earliest stages.”
Jared Kushner urged a group of ambassadors on Wednesday to keep an “open mind” about the White Houses’s forthcoming Middle East peace plan, Reuters reports.
The presidential adviser and son in law’s remarks came after the new Palestinian prime minister declared the peace plan Kushner is working on “born dead.”
Kushner said the peace plan is to be unveiled after Israel forms a governing coalition in the wake of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s re-election, a source told Reuters. He said it would require concessions from both sides.
Another entry from the Time 100: Senator Elizabeth Warren writes on Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
“A year ago, she was taking orders across a bar. Today, millions are taking cues from her,” Warren wrote. “She reminds all of us that even while greed and corruption slow our progress, even while armies of lobbyists swarm Washington, in our democracy, true power still rests with the people. And she’s just getting started.”
Senator and presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar will participate in a Fox News town hall on May 8, per a Newsday reporter.
The network said its town hall with Bernie Sanders got 2.6 million viewers, the highest rated town hall of the election cycle so far.
Donald Trump says he just spoke to Pope Francis to express condolences over the fire that burned Notre Dame cathedral in Paris.
“I offered the help of our great experts on renovation and construction,” he said in a tweet.
Most Americans believe that Donald Trump obstructed justice and think Congress should continue to investigate his ties with Russia, according to a new poll.
In the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll, six in ten Americans said they believe Trump obstructed justice. Special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, expected to be released with redactions on Thursday, did not reach a conclusion on that question.
A 53% majority say Congress should continue to investigate Trump’s ties with Russia.
The poll shows 35% of Americans think that Trump did something illegal related to Russia and an additional 34% think he did something unethical.
Confidence has grown in the investigation itself. Three quarters of Republicans now say they are at least moderately confident the probe was fair and impartial - up from just 46% in March - and 70% of Democrats say they’re moderately, very, or extremely confident. A 61% majority say the Justice Department, which has so far shared just a 4 page summary of the report, has released too few details to the public.
Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton is likely to announce a presidential bid on Monday, New Hampshire’s WMUR News 9 reports. Moulton is scheduled to speak at the Politics and Eggs breakfast next Wednesday, by which time he’s expected to be an official candidate.
Beto O’Rourke says he actually gave more to charity than the low numbers reflected in his tax returns.
O’Rourke’s taxes list $1,166 in gifts in 2017, which has drawn criticism.
“We’ve made donations to so many organizations - in small amounts, in the hundreds of dollars, in larger amounts, in the thousands of dollars. This is beyond what is itemized and reflected in our taxes, and just didn’t report it because it wasn’t important for us to take the deduction,” O’Rourke said in Virginia, according to a Washington Post reporter.
He added he’s now trying to reach out to charities to come up with a more accurate tally.
Tom Ridge, the former Republican governor of Pennsylvania, criticized Donald Trump’s budget in an op-ed today for the New York Times.
Ridge, now the chairman of the National Organization on Disability, wrote that after Trump reversed his proposal to eliminate funding for the Special Olympics, the budget is “still full of cuts that aim directly at many other programs that support people with disabilities.”
Among the cuts: “Independent living centers, assistive-technology programs, supports for individuals living with brain injuries and family caregiver support services are among those programs and services on the chopping block. So too is the Office of Disability Employment Policy. This office, within the Labor Department, is the only nonregulatory federal agency that promotes policies and coordinates with employers and all levels of government to increase workplace success for people with disabilities. It also holds federal contractors to account for meeting certain hiring goals.”
Ridge argues that because the programs allow people with disabilities to work and pay taxes instead of being dependent on the government, they are “not only unjust but also fiscally foolish.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell kicked off his 2020 re-election bid Wednesday with a video touting his torpedoing of Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, the Washington Post reports.
McConnell refused to allow the Senate to even consider the nomination, an unprecedented and controversial move Democrats are still fuming about. The campaign video includes footage of him saying, “It is the president’s constitutional right to nominate a Supreme Court justice, and it is the Senate’s constitutional right to act as a check. The next president may also nominate somebody very different.”
Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell authored the tribute to Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in Time magazine’s 100 most influential people list, getting in a shot at “unhinged partisanship” that he says was behind the judge’s confirmation battle.
“The country saw his resilience and commitment to public service. We saw his loyal devotion to family and friends,” McConnell wrote.
A heated hearing came after Kavanaugh was accused of sexual assault. The Time 100 also features his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, whose profile was written by Senator Kamala Harris.
“Her story, spoken while holding back tears, shook Washington and the country. Her courage, in the face of those who wished to silence her, galvanized Americans. And her unfathomable sacrifice, out of a sense of civic duty, shined a spotlight on the way we treat survivors of sexual violence,” Harris wrote.
A day after launching a Republican primary challenge to Donald Trump, former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld said he believes many independents and even Democrats will take Republican ballots to vote for him.
“My job is to make sure Millennials, Gen Xers, suburban female voters who might not buy all of Mr. Trump’s dog food take that Republican ballot,” Weld said on CNN’s “New Day,” adding he had also heard from Democrats who now plan to vote in the Republican primary. “They want to cast a vote directly against Mr. Trump.”
About 20 states, including first in the nation New Hampshire, have open primaries, allowing voters to choose what primary to vote in regardless of their party enrollment.
“I’m not sure how serious Mr. Trump is about governing, honestly,” Weld said. “He has a one-word environmental policy, ‘hoax.’ A one-word immigration policy, ‘wall.’ And you know, I think his lack of experience in preparation for the office shows.”
Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton might be taping an announcement video in a photo obtained by the Boston Globe, which might mean he’s planning to jump into the 2020 presidential Democratic presidential race.
There’s a bit of debate after Senator Bernie Sanders appeared in a Fox News town hall, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s team said he was in talks to have one as well.
Some critics have said candidates would do better to shun the conservative network, as the Democratic party is doing for primary debates. Buttigieg’s spokeswoman this morning pushed back on that idea.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard says Donald Trump is turning the country into a “prostitute of Saudi Arabia,” after he vetoed a bill to end US assistance in Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen.
Senator Elizabeth Warren’s prodigious policy proposals have brought her a fundraising bump, the Boston Globe reports.
Warren is lagging other top-tier Democratic presidential candidates on cash after swearing off high-dollar fundraisers. But each of her policy rollouts has generated a small fundraising spike, according to the Globe’s analysis:
When she proposed providing affordable child care to all, 102 larger donors chipped in, compared to just 58 the day before. And when she vowed to break up big tech companies, she saw double the number of donations from the day before. Those proposals usually came with a fund-raising e-mail, and by the end of the quarter, her team was urging people to donate simply to keep Warren’s ideas in the race...
Ironically, the policy rollout that appeared to attract the most donations is also the one that likely cost Warren the most in lost fund-raising potential. Near the end of February, Warren announced to her supporters that she was swearing off high-dollar fund-raisers and would not even call wealthy donors to ask for money. That day, 255 larger donors contributed nearly $38,000 to her campaign, the most since her official announcement in Lawrence several weeks earlier.
The new Palestinian prime minister declared that the Middle East peace plan being worked on by Jared Kushner will be “born dead.”
“There are no partners in Palestine for Trump. There are no Arab partners for Trump and there are no European partners for Trump,” Mohammad Shtayyeh told the Associated Press.
He accused the US and Israel of waging “financial war” on the Palestinian territories to get them to agree to a peace plan in the works in Washington, which he predicted would be unsatisfactory. “This a financial blackmail, which we reject,” he said.
Celebrity donors have been kicking in contributions to 2020 Democratic hopefuls, and the Associated Press reports on where the money is going.
Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, Beto O’Rourke, and Pete Buttigieg are all popular with the Hollywood set, according to the report:
- Harris held a fundraiser at the home of director JJ Abrams, where celebs including Shonda Rhimes turned out and gave. Harris also has received money from Ben Affleck, who gave $2,800; actress Eva Longoria, who gave $5,400; composer Quincy Jones, who gave $2,800; and former “Mad Men” star Jon Hamm, who gave $1,000.
- O’Rourke, a former punk rocker, received $2,800 from a fellow Texan, country music icon Willie Nelson, as well as $1,850 from Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh and $2,800 from Dave Matthews Band violinist Boyd Tinsley. He also took in $5,600 from Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, $1,500 from comedian and “Breaking Bad” actor Bob Odenkirk, $2,500 from Texas film director Richard Linklater and $350 from “Saturday Night Live” star Cecily Strong.
- Sanders received $2,700 from actor and comedian Danny DeVito, $2,800 from actress Susan Sarandon, $2,500 from piano player Norah Jones and $1,000 from Foo Fighters guitarist Christopher Shiflett. Jonathan Fishman, drummer for the jam band Phish, which was formed in Sanders’ home state of Vermont, gave $1,000, while Thomas Middleditch from HBO’s “Silicon Valley” gave $500, records show.
- Buttigieg got $2,000 from “West Wing” star Bradley Whitford. Actor Ryan Reynolds donated $250, NFL network broadcaster Rich Eisen gave $500 and “Game of Thrones” executive producer Carolyn Strauss chipped in $250. Buttigieg also drew at least one contribution from an unusual source. James Murdoch, the son of conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch, whose Fox News is closely allied with President Donald Trump, cut Buttigieg a $2,800 donation, records show.
Donald Trump weighs in again this morning on the Mueller investigation.
He also urges Congress to return from recess to address immigration policy.
Hillary Clinton has penned a tribute to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for Time magazine’s 100 most influential people issue.
With the release of a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation report expected tomorrow, Donald Trump has at least a dozen lawyers and staffers lined up to pour through it and prepare a rapid response, USA Today reports.
Each aide will have a designated section of the report to digest and summarize.
“We’ll provide analysis throughout the course of the day,” Trump’s lawyer Jay Sekulow told USA Today.
Heading up the response are Sekulow for Trump’s personal legal team and White House lawyer Emmet Flood, who has been representing the White House in the Mueller investigation.
The president’s lawyers have been developing a “counter report” on legal issues involved in the investigation, and may release that on Thursday, officials told the paper. Either way, they expect to put out a short written statement about a half hour after the report is released, and a longer and more detailed statement an hour or two after that. Trump himself may also weigh in by tweet or speak to reporters.