President Trump “on Friday morning signed into law a far-reaching budget deal that will boost spending by hundreds of billions of dollars and allow the federal government to reopen after a brief shutdown.” Trump’s “signature came quickly after the House gave final approval early Friday to the deal, hours after a one-man blockade by” Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) “delayed the votes and forced the government to briefly close. … [T]he government will reopen before many Americans were aware it had closed, with a deal that includes about $300 billion in additional funds over two years for military and nonmilitary programs, almost $90 billion in disaster relief in response to last year’s hurricanes and wildfires, and a higher statutory debt ceiling.” (New York Times)
THE DETAILS. “The measure faced opposition from the right and left, but lawmakers were loath to force a protracted shutdown fight. And many lawmakers were eager to see higher spending on defense and domestic programs.
“The House vote, around 5:30 a.m., was 240-186.” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi “had urged her members to oppose the bill over the GOP’s failure to resolve the standoff over 700,000 Dreamers, but her efforts ultimately fell short. Seventy-three Democrats ended up backing the bipartisan package, which came after months of closed-door talks. … The Senate had earlier passed the measure on a 71-28 vote shortly before 2 a.m.” (Politico)
ROB PORTER. “White House officials conceded Thursday that they regretted the way they handled accusations against Rob Porter, the staff secretary who resigned Wednesday after two former wives publicly accused him of abusing them. But they refused to provide any information about when … Trump’s most senior advisers first learned about the episodes.” Porter “abruptly departed the West Wing on Thursday afternoon, one day after” chief of staff John Kelly “and other senior officials had issued statements defending him and said they would prefer that he remain in his post. Among the questions he left behind was whether … Kelly and other members of … Trump’s inner circle had been willing to ignore accusations of domestic violence to protect a trusted aide. Raj Shah, the deputy White House press secretary, said that … Kelly had not been made ‘fully aware’ of them until this week. But two people close to the White House said that … Kelly and Joe Hagin, the deputy chief of staff for operations, as well as” White House counsel Don McGahn “had known of the issues since late fall.” (New York Times)
KELLY. “West Wing staffers continue to wonder why Kelly would keep the Porter allegations from the president, and why he defended Porter so aggressively when presented with allegations. …. Porter’s history with women had been known to Kelly for months, a source familiar with the matter said. (Porter has been working with a temporary security clearance because the allegations surfaced in an F.B.I. background interview.) According to a source, Kelly at first pushed back when White House officials wanted him to issue a second statement walking back his initial strong defense of Kelly. Kelly ultimately wrote that he was ‘shocked by the new allegations.’
“The crisis also raises questions about Hope Hicks’s decision-making, and whether her romantic relationship with Porter clouded her judgment. According to a source, Hicks did not get a sign off from Trump for the White House’s initial statement defending Porter, in which Kelly was quoted calling Porter a ‘man of true integrity.’ … Hicks continued to defend Porter in private, a source said, telling people she thinks the allegations aren’t true.” (Vanity Fair)
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"President Trump issued a series of executive orders Friday that could gut federal employee unions’ ability to negotiate with agency leaders and represent workers, as well as reduce the time it takes for an agency to fire people for poor performance or misconduct. Billed as the first step toward broad civil service reform, senior administration officials announced in a call with reporters on Friday afternoon three executive orders aimed at making it easier to fire poor performers and ordering harsher treatment of union representatives."
Eleven days before the presidential inauguration last year, a billionaire Russian businessman with ties to the Kremlin visited Trump Tower in Manhattan to meet with Donald J. Trump’s personal lawyer and fixer, Michael D. Cohen, according to video footage and another person who attended the meeting. In Mr. Cohen’s office on the 26th floor, he and the oligarch, Viktor Vekselberg, discussed a mutual desire to strengthen Russia’s relations with the United States under President Trump, according to Andrew Intrater, an American businessman who attended the meeting and invests money for Mr. Vekselberg."