President Trump’s “lawyers have signaled they don’t want the president to sit down for unrestricted questions” from Special Counsel Robert Mueller. “But a complete refusal to cooperate with the special counsel’s Russia investigation could trigger a Supreme Court battle that many legal experts and Trump allies believe the president would lose, at a huge political cost.
“‘The president could assert his Fifth Amendment privilege and tell Mueller to shove it,’ said Roger Stone, one of Trump’s earliest—and most combative—political advisers. But even Stone conceded that would be a risky move: ‘I think there can be a reasonable compromise. I recognize the political and legal danger of just stiffing the guy,’ he said.
“Stone and at least two other people who regularly speak to Trump—Newsmax publisher Chris Ruddy and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich—are instead advising that the president offer Mueller a compromise of responding to questions in writing only. … Trump’s legal team is also interested in the possibility of a partial written exchange with Mueller, according to a source familiar with the White House’s strategy.
“Whether Mueller would accept such an outcome is unclear. But it’s one potential middle position between Trump’s public pledge to cooperate with the special counsel and fear among his lawyers and advisers that speaking to Mueller under oath could put him in serious legal jeopardy, particularly given his long track record of false and exaggerated claims.” (Politico)
SHUTDOWN. Trump said Tuesday “that he would welcome a government shutdown if he cannot reach a spending deal with Congress that tightens immigration laws.”
“John F. Kelly said that many Dreamers failed to register for protected status with the government because they were ‘were too afraid to sign up’ or were ‘too lazy to get off their asses.’ He said he doubted Mr. Trump would extend the March 5 deadline that shields them from deportation.
“Mr. Trump’s threat of a shutdown seemed to have little effect on the delicate negotiations on Capitol Hill to raise spending caps on military and nonmilitary spending—an agreement that, if passed by both houses of Congress, would pave the way for long-term deal to fund the government.” (New York Times)
BUDGET DEAL. “Top Senate leaders were working Tuesday to finalize a sweeping long-term budget deal that would include a defense spending boost President Trump has long demanded alongside an increase in domestic programs championed by Democrats.
“As negotiations for the long-term deal continued, the House passed a short-term measure that would fund the government past a midnight Thursday deadline and avert a second partial shutdown in less than a month. The House bill, which passed 245 to 182, would fund most agencies through March 23 but is a nonstarter in the Senate because of Democratic opposition.” (Washington Post)
WYNN. Former RNC Finance Chairman Steve Wynn, “besieged by sexual misconduct allegations and widening scrutiny of his financial empire, resigned Tuesday as CEO of his company. ‘It is with a collective heavy heart, that the board of directors of Wynn Resorts today accepted the resignation of our founder, CEO and friend Steve Wynn,’ the company said in a statement.” (USA Today)
MILITARY PARADE. “Trump’s vision of soldiers marching and tanks rolling down the boulevards of Washington is moving closer to reality in the Pentagon and White House, where officials say they have begun to plan a grand military parade later this year showcasing the might of America’s armed forces.
“Trump has long mused publicly and privately about wanting such a parade, but a Jan. 18 meeting between Trump and top generals in the Pentagon’s tank … marked a tipping point, according to two officials briefed on the planning.
“Surrounded by the military’s highest-ranking officials, including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., Trump’s seemingly abstract desire for a parade was suddenly heard as a presidential directive, the officials said.” (Washington Post)
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The indictment, filed in the District of Columbia, alleges that the interference began "in or around 2014," when the defendants began tracking and studying U.S. social media sites. They "created and controlled numerous Twitter accounts" and "purchased computer servers located inside the United States" to mask their identities, some of which were stolen. The interference was coordinated by election interference "specialists," and focused on the Black Lives Matter movement, immigration, and other divisive issues. "By early to mid-2016" the groups began supporting the campaign of "then-candidate Donald Trump," including by communicating with "unwitting individuals associated with the Trump Campaign..."
"Former Trump campaign adviser Rick Gates is finalizing a plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller's office, indicating he's poised to cooperate in the investigation, according to sources familiar with the case. Gates has already spoken to Mueller's team about his case and has been in plea negotiations for about a month. He's had what criminal lawyers call a 'Queen for a Day' interview, in which a defendant answers any questions from the prosecutors' team, including about his own case and other potential criminal activity he witnessed."
"The Senate on Thursday rejected immigration legislation crafted by centrists in both parties after President Trump threatened to veto the bill if it made it to his desk. In a 54-45 vote, the Senate failed to advance the legislation from eight Republican, seven Democratic and one Independent senators. It needed 60 votes to overcome a procedural hurdle. "
"The House Intelligence Committee has scheduled a Thursday meeting to hear testimony from Steve Bannon—but it's an open question whether President Donald Trump's former chief strategist will even show up. The White House sent a letter to Capitol Hill late Wednesday laying out its explanation for why Trump's transition period falls under its authority to assert executive privilege, a move intended to shield Bannon from answering questions about that time period." Both Republicans and Democrats on the committee dispute the White House's theory, and have floated charging Bannon with contempt should he refuse to appear.