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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"Special counsel Robert Mueller's interest in Jared Kushner has expanded beyond his contacts with Russia and now includes his efforts to secure financing for his company from foreign investors during the presidential transition, according to people familiar with the inquiry. This is the first indication that Mueller is exploring Kushner's discussions with potential non-Russian foreign investors, including in China." At issue specifically is his quest for financing help on the beleaguered 666 Fifth Avenue building.
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..."