The Democratic Memo

Monday, February 26, 2018Screen Shot 2018-02-26 at 9.14.15 AM

Good Monday morning,
Here are some of the stories making news in Washington and politics today:
  • The House Intelligence Committee released a heavily redacted Democratic memorandum that counters Republican claims that top F.B.I. and Justice Department officials had abused their powers in spying on a former Trump campaign aide.

  • The release of the memo came a day after Rick Gates, a former top adviser to the Trump campaign, agreed to cooperate with the special counsel inquiry into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election after pleading guilty to financial fraud and lying to investigators.

  • The recent guilty pleas in the special counsel’s investigation have shined a light on a profitable line of business that the powerful law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom mostly keeps quiet: its work for unsavory foreign figures and their Washington lobbyists.

  • Lawmakers will return to Washington on Monday facing intense public pressure to break their decades-long gridlock on gun control. But there is no clear consensus on even incremental changes to gun restrictions.
  • President Trump’s refusal to publicly drop his demand that Mexico pay for border a wall has derailed tentative plans for President Enrique Peña Nieto to make his first visit to the Trump White House next month.

— The First Draft Team
News Analysis

Mueller Is Gaining Steam. Should Trump Worry?

Allies of President Trump acknowledge that the investigation has taken a toll, as the recent indictments and guilty pleas suggest.

Allies of President Trump acknowledge that the investigation has taken a toll, as the recent indictments and guilty pleas suggest. Tom Brenner/The New York Times

In a fiery speech to supporters on Friday, President Trump went after his vanquished opponent from 2016. “We had a crooked candidate,” he declared. The crowd responded with a signature chant from the campaign trail: “Lock her up!”
About three hours later and 10 miles to the north, Mr. Trump’s former deputy campaign chairman, who helped put him in the White House, arrived at a federal courthouse in Washington to plead guilty to being crooked and face the prospect that the authorities will now lock him up.
With each passing day, Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, seems to add another brick to the case he is building — one more indictment, one more interview, one more guilty plea. Mr. Trump and his advisers insist they are not worried because so far none of the charges implicate the president. Yet no one outside Mr. Mueller’s office knows for sure where he is heading, and the flurry of recent action seems to be inexorably leading to a larger target.
Read more »
States are moving to block “gag clauses” that prohibit pharmacists from telling customers that they could save money by paying cash for prescription drugs rather than using their health insurance.

Why Your Pharmacist Can’t Say Your $20 Prescription Could Cost Only $8


States are moving to block “gag clauses” that prohibit pharmacists from telling customers that they could save money by paying cash for prescriptions rather than using their health insurance.

Linda McMahon has been praised for her leadership of the Small Business Administration under President Trump, a longtime friend who once paid her his highest compliment: “She’s a killer.”

Linda McMahon Gets a Ringside Seat for TrumpMania


Perhaps no other member of President Trump’s cabinet understands him as Ms. McMahon, a former pro wrestling entrepreneur, does.

President Trump speaking on Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland. The sanctions are intended to close a loophole in the effort to cut off North Korea’s imports of oil and exports of coal.

15 Claims From Trump’s Speech to Conservatives, Fact Checked


The president mixed facts and falsehoods while talking about immigration, gun policy, trade, climate, taxes and other topics.

A booking photo provided by the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department showed Gov. Eric Greitens of Missouri.

Indicted Missouri Governor Resists Pressure to Resign


Gov. Eric Greitens faces an invasion of privacy charge and calls from fellow Republicans to quit. Lawmakers said they could take steps toward impeachment.

An attendee at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland showing support for the 45th president, Donald J. Trump.

Still Glad You Voted Trump? At CPAC, Conservatives Had an Answer


Conservatives try to look past the president’s flaws and see only his policies.

The visit by Liu He, center, to Washington next week comes as Trump administration officials have stepped up their criticism of Beijing’s trade policies in recent weeks.

Top Chinese Official Plans U.S. Trip to Address Trade Friction


President Xi Jinping of China is sending Liu He, his top economic policy maker and a recent addition to the Politburo, to Washington on Tuesday.

The move of the American embassy to Jerusalem will coincide with the 70th anniversary of the creation of the state of Israel.

Hard-Line Supporter of Israel Offers to Pay for U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem


The State Department is reviewing whether the offer by Sheldon Adelson to donate up to an estimated $500 million is legal.

Michael Steele in Pasadena, Calif., last year. He was the first black chairman of the Republican National Committee, serving from 2009 to 2011.

CPAC Official Says Michael Steele Was Chosen to Lead G.O.P. Because He’s ‘a Black Guy’


A spokesman for a conservative group said Mr. Steele, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, was selected for the role because of his race.

Michelle Obama in 2017.

Michelle Obama’s Memoir to Arrive in November


Mrs. Obama announced on Sunday that the book would be titled “Becoming.”

Peter Navarro, center, an economic advisor to President Trump during his campaign, with billionaire Mark Cuban, left. Navarro advocates tariffs on steel and withdrawing from some trade agreements, such as Nafta.

Peter Navarro, a Top Trade Skeptic, Is Ascendant


Mr. Navarro is in line for a promotion, sources close to the White House say, a sign that more aggressive trade measures such as tariffs may be in store.

Right and Left: Partisan Writing You Shouldn’t Miss
Read about how the other side thinks. We have collected political writing from around the web and across ideologies.
From the Right
A. Barton Hinkle in Reason:
“Collective punishment should offend not just gun owners, but any American who believes in individual responsibility and due process.”
Mr. Hinkle proposes a gun control solution that protects gun rights: the “gun violence restraining order.” Such an order, he writes, would allow friends and family who suspect that someone may pose a danger to himself or others a way to alert law enforcement and prevent that person from acquiring a gun. The idea is particularly appealing to Mr. Hinkle because it avoids punishing the majority of law-abiding gun owners by tightening gun laws across the board. Read more »
From the Left
Osita Nwanevu in Slate:
“That ultimately may be what galls conservatives about Stoneman Douglas’ teens most of all: They suggest the notions underpinning our status quo gun policy are infantile, beneath even them despite their youth.”
Mr. Nwanevu addresses those conservative commentators who have criticized the Florida teenagers who are speaking out on gun control. If any gun control measures result from this tragedy, he writes, “we’ll have the kids, and only the kids, to thank.” Moreover, referring to the conservative columnist Ben Shapiro, he points out that “young, supposedly precocious voices like his have proved deeply important to the modern conservative movement since at least 1960.” Read more »
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