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Not So Fast
September 19, 2018

The Justice Department doesn't want to give in to President Trump's demands quite so easily.

Trump ordered the declassification of intelligence documents related to his former campaign adviser Carter Page earlier this week, but Bloomberg reported Wednesday that DOJ officials plan to redact some of the information to keep it secret.

People familiar with the matter said that the DOJ and FBI are currently deciding what will be redacted, but it will likely fly in the face of Trump's call for immediate declassification of materials "relating to the Russia investigation, without redaction." Trump wanted sensitive documents released that would show the FBI's warrant to surveil Page, interviews to obtain the warrant, and text messages between senior officials, believing they would demonstrate the "anti-Trump bias" he says has tainted the investigation.

Because the investigation into whether the Trump campaign was involved with Russian election interference in 2016 is ongoing, Trump's orders were viewed as crossing a "red line" by some lawmakers. Some Republicans cheered the move as a step toward increased transparency, but other experts said it showed an overstep of presidential involvement in the investigation.

The Justice Department is expected to submit proposed redactions soon, reports Bloomberg, knowing that withholding information will put DOJ officials in direct conflict with Trump. The president always could override the agencies and declassify material by himself. Read more at Bloomberg. Summer Meza

April 4, 2018

President Trump announced Tuesday that "until we can have a wall, we're going to be guarding our border with the military," an unprecedented and controversial proposition. In a meeting between Department of Homeland Security officials and the White House's National Security Council on Wednesday, though, that plan was apparently curbed to the deployment of National Guard troops specifically. Officials told NBC News that the troops won't have contact with immigrants, either.

"Instead, [the National Guard] will be giving U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents more visibility by providing surveillance by air and through camera monitoring of the border," wrote NBC News, based on conversations with people familiar with the White House's meetings. It isn't clear yet how many people will be deployed, or for how long.

While Trump had suggested he would use "the military" to guard the border, and has floated dipping into the Pentagon's budget to build his border wall, active-duty soldiers are legally barred from domestic law enforcement duties. National Guard troops, on the other hand, are not an unfamiliar sight on the southern border, despite Trump's claim Tuesday that "we really haven't done that before, or certainly not very much before." Former President Barack Obama also used the National Guard for air surveillance support, and former President George W. Bush deployed National Guard troops to help U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents with intelligence gathering and building a border wall.

"Our Border Laws are very weak while those of Mexico & Canada are very strong," Trump tweeted earlier Wednesday, adding, "We will be taking strong action today." Jeva Lange

March 27, 2018

It could take more than a year for the Federal Election Commission to determine whether a $130,000 payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels violated federal election laws, current and former FEC officials told NBC News.

The payment, transferred to Daniels by President Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen, has been criticized as a possible unreported donation to the Trump campaign, if it was intended to benefit Trump's run for office. Cohen paid Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, less than two weeks before the 2016 election to facilitate a nondisclosure agreement that barred the actress from speaking out about an alleged affair she had with Trump. Daniels claims that she slept with Trump in 2006, and that the payment was hush money. Trump has denied that the tryst took place.

But the FEC, which enforces federal campaign laws, might not be able to consider the case for a while, due to vacancies and ongoing cases keeping the six-member staff busy, NBC News reports. Political gridlock among the FEC members also means slow decision-making, the former FEC chairman said, as partisan views grind investigations to a halt. If the commission determines that Cohen's payment to Daniels aided Trump's campaign, it would exceed the maximum allowed for campaign contributions and be considered illegal reports NBC News. Summer Meza

July 25, 2017

President Trump's public shaming of Attorney General Jeff Sessions isn't going over well with Republican lawmakers. After Trump took to Twitter on Tuesday to accuse Sessions of taking "a VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes," a handful of Republicans fired off some criticisms of their own.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) suggested that Trump "maybe just try a meeting" instead of publicly calling out his own Cabinet members:

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) released a statement declaring that Trump's suggestion that Sessions "pursue prosecution of a former political rival is highly inappropriate." "Prosecutorial decisions should be based on applying facts to the law without hint of political motivation," Graham said. He also defended Sessions as "one of the most decent people I've ever met in my political life."

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) also posted a defense of Sessions' character. He called Sessions "a man of integrity, loyalty, and extraordinary character" and pledged his "deep respect and unwavering support":

Trump is reportedly seriously considering replacing Sessions, as he's upset Sessions recused himself from the investigation into the Trump team's alleged collusion with Russia. Becca Stanek

May 2, 2017

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is having none of President Trump's proposal for Republicans to end the Senate's legislative filibuster. After Trump in a Tuesday morning tweet suggested eliminating the filibuster in favor of letting legislation pass by a simple majority, McConnell outright told reporters later Tuesday that "will not happen."

Trump's push came on the heels of the recently negotiated budget proposal. Trump said the reason the bill was a compromise is that Republicans need "60 votes in the Senate, which are not there!" McConnell explained during his weekly press conference Tuesday that eliminating the 60-vote threshold required to end debate on legislation would "fundamentally change" the way the Senate has worked "for a very long time." "There is an overwhelming majority ... not interested in changing the way the Senate operates," McConnell said.

Politico noted that last month, 61 senators sent McConnell a letter pushing for the filibuster to stay in place. McConnell has previously vowed to keep the legislative filibuster in place "for as long as he was majority leader," The Hill reported.

Looks like Trump might have to resort to his other proposal in his Tuesday morning tweet, which is to "elect more Republican senators in 2018." Becca Stanek

December 27, 2016

The New York attorney general's office said Tuesday that Donald Trump won't be able to close down his charitable foundation after all.

"The Trump foundation is still under investigation by this office and cannot legally dissolve until that investigation is complete," said Amy Spitalnick, a spokeswoman for New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Trump said over the weekend he would dissolve the Donald J. Trump Foundation, amid criticism from many who believe it will be a conflict of interest once he is inaugurated. Schneiderman launched the investigation several months ago, after The Washington Post reported on the some of the foundation's purchases — including an enormous, $20,000 painting of Trump.

On Nov. 18, someone using an email address from the foundation's law firm posted to the GuideStar nonprofit monitoring website the foundation's 2015 tax filing, which showed that Trump used the charity to settle lawsuits and make a $25,000 political contribution, The Associated Press reports. While the tax filing reveals the foundation violated regulations against using money and assets to benefit Trump and his family in 2015 and previous years, it does not go into detail about the infractions, AP says. Catherine Garcia

November 29, 2016

President-elect Donald Trump may want to start consulting the Constitution before he logs onto Twitter. On Tuesday morning, Trump tweeted that flag burning, an act constitutionally protected as free speech, should be a punishable offense:

Though it's not entirely clear what prompted Trump to tweet about flag burning, Bloomberg reporter Jennifer Jacobs noted it might have something to do with Trump's upcoming meeting with Fox News' Pete Hegseth:

The constitutionality of flag burning has been challenged before. In June 1990, the Supreme Court declared that laws "against desecrating the flag are unconstitutional," Time reported. And in 2012, the late Justice Antonin Scalia explained that flag burning, while he personally disagreed with it, is undeniably "a form of expression" protected under the First Amendment. "It is addressed in particular to speech critical of the government," Scalia said of the First Amendment. "I mean, that was the main kind of speech that tyrants would seek to suppress." Becca Stanek

October 24, 2016

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has drastically changed his tune about President Obama now that he's fighting to hang onto his seat in Congress. After years of calling for the president's impeachment and engaging in birtherism theories, Issa decided to make his latest campaign mailer about how "pleased" he is that Obama "has signed into law the Survivors' Bill of Rights — legislation that I cosponsored to protect the victims of sexual assault." And, as the icing on the cake, the mailer featured a picture of Obama — the man Issa called "one of the most corrupt presidents in modern time" — sitting at his desk in the Oval Office.

Obama was not having it. At a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraising dinner Sunday night, he called out Issa's attempts at a fair-weather friendship, and went so far as to say Issa was "Trump before Trump." "Now that is the definition of chutzpah," Obama said, hitting Issa's decision to send out flyers "touting his cooperation with me" because "his poll numbers are bad" as woefully transparent. "That," Obama added, "is shameless." Becca Stanek

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