The White House ups the odds of a government shutdown by demanding Democrats fund Trump's border wall
Calm and quiet negotiations aren't everyone's cup of tea. Congress has until April 28 to pass a stopgap spending bill to avoid a government shutdown, and Republicans and Democrats on the House and Senate appropriations committees have been working with Republican leaders to negotiate a spending package. Any spending bill will need the support of at least eight Democrats in the Senate to pass. On Thursday, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said the spending bill has to include some initial funding for President Trump's border wall with Mexico, and Democrats have to play ball.
"We have our list of priorities," Mulvaney said Thursday. "We want more money for defense. We want to build a border wall." He said the White House would be open to throwing some money at Democratic priorities, too — mentioning paying risk-sharing subsidies to insurance companies to cover low-income health care, important to keeping ObamaCare exchanges functioning — but Democrats have to support Trump's wall and other priorities, too. He stopped short of saying Trump wouldn't sign a bill without such funding, The Washington Post reports.
Democrats expressed disappointment that the White House was elbowing its way in. "Everything had been moving smoothly until the administration moved in with a heavy hand," said Matt House, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). "Not only are Democrats opposed to the wall, there is significant Republican opposition as well." Mulvaney wasn't swayed, insisting Democrats agree to fund the wall. "If they tell us to pound sand, I think that's probably a disappointing indicator of where the next four years is going to go," he said
The cost of completing a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border ranges from $12 billion to $70 billion. During the campaign, Trump had insisted that he would somehow force Mexico to foot the costs. Peter Weber
It isn't clear yet who blinked in Monday's extraordinary White House meeting between President Trump, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and the FBI director and director of national intelligence over the Justice Department's investigation of Trump's campaign, but the meeting itself was par for the course for Trump, Anderson Cooper said on CNN Monday night. "We know what this is — we've seen it before from President Trump, his surrogates, and supporters whenever Special Counsel Robert Mueller makes a move or some other damaging story hits the president."
This meeting centered around Trump's demand that the Justice Department look for politically motivated spying against his campaign. "The claim of a spy within the Trump campaign comes with, as of yet, little or nothing to back it up and plenty to raise suspicions about its validity, including the central role of someone the president went out of his way to praise today," House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), Cooper said. For weeks now, Nunes — who was also a leader of Trump's presidential transition team — has been demanding information on a top secret intelligence source the FBI and CIA warned would be in jeopardy if his cover were blown. "Then some right-wing media got ahold of the story," Cooper said, and Nunes' fingerprints were all over those reports.
"The president has been here before, and Devin Nunes has been here before as well," in March 2017, when Nunes briefed Trump on material Nunes had gotten from the White House just days earlier, Cooper said. In that case, "the president rage-tweeted about it, but he never went quite as far about that as he did today." Watch below. Peter Weber
Who blinked in Monday's high-stakes White House meeting about an FBI source: Trump or Rod Rosenstein?
President Trump hosted Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, FBI Director Chris Wray, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly on Monday for a meeting about Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Russian collusion and the Trump campaign. Specifically, the group discussed the demand by Trump allies in the House for highly classified documents tied to Mueller's investigation and Trump's demands that the Justice Department investigate the president's unsubstantiated suggestion there was improper political spying on his campaign. Everybody walked away with something, but it isn't clear what exactly anyone got.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the group agreed that "Kelly will immediately set up a meeting with the FBI, DOJ, and DNI together with congressional leaders to review highly classified and other information they have requested," probably by the end of the week.
"It was not clear after Monday's meeting how much of that information will now be shared with lawmakers and in what form, or who it will be shared with and in what venue," The New York Times notes. The FBI and CIA had "strenuously resisted" the request by House Republicans to see the documents about a covert intelligence source who met with members of the Trump campaign, warning it could cost lives and burn allies. It is already significant that "the president effectively requested, and apparently received, a review of the investigation into his campaign," The Washington Post adds, though the Kelly-brokered meeting could either be "a concession from the Justice Department" or "a bureaucratic maneuver to buy time and shield actual documents."
Trump's personal lawyer "Rudy Giuliani made it clear today that he wants these documents for the Trump legal defense team," Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said Monday. "That is not appropriate, and I have a concern about anyone from the White House being present for review of these sensitive documents," including Kelly. Peter Weber
President Trump is raising a fuss and crossing some perilous lines over an American academic in Britain who met with three Trump campaign foreign policy advisers in the summer and fall of 2016 and passed some information about those interactions to the FBI. After Trump was elected, his top trade adviser, Peter Navarro (pictured), recommended naming Stefan Halper, widely reported to be the FBI source, as ambassador to an unidentified Asian country, Axios reports. "A White House official said Halper visited the Eisenhower Executive Office Building last August for a meeting about China," too.
Navarro put forward Halper's name, as well as several other candidates, because Halper is a fellow China hawk who worked with Navarro on an anti-China book and movie, Axios says. Halper, who taught international affairs, American studies, and intelligence seminars at Cambridge University from 2001 to 2015, is also a veteran of three Republicans administrations. "Most friends describe him as a moderate Republican who is hawkish on China and deeply committed to U.S. institutions, having worked for years inside and around the federal government," The Washington Post reports.
So Halper, 73, may not have been a perfect fit with the Trump administration, allegedly informing on the Trump campaign notwithstanding. "During classes at Cambridge, he often raised questions about [President George W.] Bush's decisions and embraced a traditional Republican approach to foreign policy that emphasized long-standing Western alliances and limited foreign intervention," the Post reports. Peter Weber
With President Trump incensed about leaks, "West Wing aides are instructed to drop their personal phones into small storage lockers when they come to work, periodically checked up on by a scanning device that detects nongovernment phones," The New York Times reports. But Trump himself uses no less than two iPhones, one for Twitter and the other for making calls, and at least one of them "isn't equipped with sophisticated security features designed to shield his communications," two senior administration officials tell Politico, adding that Trump "has rebuffed staff efforts to strengthen security around his phone use."
Since Trump won't give up his cellphones, aides have urged him to swap them out on a monthly basis, burner phone–style, but Trump has refused, saying it's "too inconvenient," a senior administration officials said. Trump has reportedly gone as long as five months without having his phone examined by security experts. Former President Barack Obama had his secure and feature-disabled phone checked every 30 days, Politico says, adding:
Trump's call-capable cellphone has a camera and microphone, unlike the White House-issued cellphones used by Obama. Keeping those components creates a risk that hackers could use them to access the phone and monitor the president's movements. The GPS location tracker, however — which can be used to track the president's whereabouts — is disabled on Trump's devices. [Politico]
Security experts were baffled and alarmed at Trump's seemingly cavalier attitude about cybersecurity, given that he is trying to negotiate a trade feud with China, peace with North Korea, and, presumably, a strategy for handling Russia and other high-tech adversaries. A West Wing official told Politico that Trump's Twitter phone is secure and that "due to inherent capabilities and advancement in technologies, these devices are more secure than any Obama-era devices." Below, you can watch white-hat hacker Jayson Street explain at last October's DEFCON Conference how he would compromise Trump's phone. Peter Weber
When she was 19, Pauline Clayton helped embroider the 15-foot-train on Queen Elizabeth II's wedding dress, and now, at 89, she's linked to another royal union.
Flowers from Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding on Saturday were donated to different charities and hospitals. A bouquet was sent to St. Joseph's Hospice in Hackney, where Clayton currently resides. "With my royal connections it's such a lovely coincidence to be at St. Joseph's and receive those wedding flowers," she said. "They are beautiful and very special."
In 1947, Clayton was working for Norman Hartnell, the designer behind Queen Elizabeth's wedding gown. Along with three other women, she embroidered the train, and earned "49-and-a-half hours overtime," she said. Clayton worked for Hartnell for several years, and went on to make other outfits for the royal family, including dresses for the Queen Mother. Catherine Garcia
On Monday, the National Park Service announced it intends to allow hunters on some public lands in Alaska to lure brown bears with bacon and use spotlights to shoot mother black bears and cubs while they are hibernating in their dens.
In 2015, the Obama administration outlawed such hunting methods on federal lands, much to the dismay of big-game hunting organizations like the Safari Club. In March, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke appointed several members of the Safari Club and other trophy hunters to a board that is advising him on how to conserve threatened and endangered wildlife. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game's Maria Gladziszewski told The Associated Press that her agency is "pleased to see the National Park Service working to better align federal regulations with state of Alaska hunting and trapping regulations."
Wildlife advocates like Collette Adkins, a lawyer and biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity, said these are "cruel and harmful hunting methods" that "have no place on our national preserves," and Anna Frostic, a lawyer for the Humane Society of the United States, said "this proposed rule, which would allow inhumane killing of our native carnivores in a misguided attempt to increase trophy hunting opportunities, is unlawful and must not be finalized." Beginning Tuesday, the public has 60 days to provide comment on the proposed rules, and can do so by visiting this website and submitting a comment on "RIN (1024-AE38)" that includes the words "National Park Service" or "NPS." Catherine Garcia
"Donald Trump is obsessed with his staff leaking information," Stephen Colbert said on Monday's Late Show. "You know how I know that? His staff leaked that information to The New York Times. And now Trump is determined to stop it at all costs — in fact, West Wing aides are instructed to drop their personal phones into a small storage locker when they come to work. Wait a second! They're taking away the phones of everyone except Donald Trump? That's like saying, 'No one can bring knives to work — except you, O.J.'"
"Now if this sounds paranoid, it's only because it is," Colbert said. "Here's the thing: During the campaign, Trump aides were afraid that whatever they said to him would end up in the press, and behind his back they called him 'leaker in chief.'" He made a show of resisting the inevitable joke that just couldn't be contained: "More like 'leaker on sheets' — damn you, Satan!" Colbert had another faux-illicit pee-pee joke and ended up talking to an imaginary Trump on a banana, Trump-style. Watch below. Peter Weber