“A week after naming Brad Parscale to run his reelection effort, Trump is 8 points behind a generic Democratic candidate, 44 percent to 36 percent, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll” (March 1-5; 1,993 RVs; +/-2%). “Nearly one in five voters, 19 percent, are undecided. Male voters are evenly split: 42 percent would vote for Trump, and 42 percent would back the Democratic candidate. Among female voters, the Democrat has a 15-point lead, 46 percent to 31 percent.
“The results fall predictably along party lines: Democratic voters support the Democrat, 82 percent to 8 percent; Republican voters choose Trump, 79 percent to 7 percent. Among independents, the Democratic candidate leads, 35 percent to 29 percent, with 36 percent undecided.” (Politico)
CALIFORNIA. “After nearly a year of threats, the Trump administration made its most aggressive move to date against a familiar target of its ire: California and its immigration policies.
“Late Tuesday evening the department filed a federal lawsuit against the state and its top officials to stop a cluster of so-called ‘sanctuary state’ bills—a move that puts the administration on offense but is nonetheless likely to generate heated litigation over the boundaries of immigration authority.
“The lawsuit is the latest broadside from the Trump administration against so-called ‘sanctuary cities’ … and amid an already heightened level of tension with California.Trump administration officials have repeatedly attacked sanctuary jurisdictions and local officials as harboring dangerous criminals.” (CNN)
GARY COHN OUT. Gary Cohn, Trump’s top economic adviser, “said on Tuesday that he would resign, becoming the latest in a series of high-profile departures from the Trump administration.
“White House officials insisted that there was no single factor behind the departure of Mr. Cohn, who heads the National Economic Council. But his decision to leave came as he seemed poised to lose an internal struggle over Mr. Trump’s plan to impose large tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. Mr. Cohn had warned last week that he might resign if Mr. Trump followed through with the tariffs, which Mr. Cohn had lobbied against internally.” (New York Times)
TARIFFS. “Already facing a harsh political climate heading toward the November midterm elections, Republicans fear that moving ahead with the tariffs could send the party—not to mention the economy— spiraling in the wrong direction. Republicans are banking on a robust economy that they can attribute to their tax cuts and regulatory rollbacks to overcome the deep public disapproval of Mr. Trump exhibited in multiple elections last year. They don’t want to do anything that could threaten economic gains.” (New York Times)
Meanwhile, Trump reportedly “wants to sign a presidential proclamation tomorrow to set his steel and aluminum tariffs in motion, according to two senior administration officials.” (Axios)
KASICH. Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) “didn’t seem interested in doing a victory lap about his nearly eight years in office” in his final State of the State address on Tuesday. “And if it was supposed to be a prelude to a 2020 presidential run or a rebuke of Republican President Donald Trump, it was outside-the-box and nuanced. At times he more resembled a minister giving a sermon about values and human compassion than the outgoing governor of the seventh-largest state in the nation.” (Cleveland.com)
STORMY SUES. “Stormy Daniels, the porn star who was paid to keep quiet about her affair with Donald Trump, sued the president Tuesday, alleging that her nondisclosure agreement before the 2016 election is void because Trump failed to sign it.” (Washington Post)
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"The Supreme Court on Monday passed up its two opportunities this term to rule on when and whether states violate the Constitution by drawing electoral maps that sharply favor one political party." In a dispute over Maryland's congressional map, the Supreme Court "upheld a district court judge’s decision not to grant a preliminary injunction" blocking the map. In the Wisconsin case Gill v. Whitford, the justices ruled that Democratic voters lacked standing to challenge the redrawn electoral boundaries at the Supreme Court. Seven justices
"agreed to give the challengers another shot at making their case in the lower courts."
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross failed to keep his promise to divest from his company holdings upon entering government, a Forbes investigation has found. Ross reportedly kept his stakes in companies co-owned by the Chinese government, a firm linked to Vladimir Putin’s inner circle, and a Cyprus bank caught up in the Robert Mueller investigation. Forbes reports that Ross’s family continued to have an interest in these holdings while he dealt with China and Russia in his official role, even while knowing that his family’s fortunes were linked to the countries. Although the arrangements appear to be legal, Forbes says Ross may have broken the law by submitting a sworn statement to officials in November saying he divested of everything he promised he would. His spokesperson said Ross did not lie and has filed amended paperwork.
"The Pentagon has quietly empowered the United States Cyber Command to take a far more aggressive approach to defending the nation against cyberattacks, a shift in strategy that could increase the risk of conflict with the foreign states that sponsor malicious hacking groups." The policy change empowers the command to conduct cyberattacks against adversaries, including "nearly daily raids" against enemy networks and "non-kinetic" attacks against military targets. The purpose of the change, according to policy documents, is to “contest dangerous adversary activity before it impairs our national power" and to impel adversaries to "shift resources to defense and reduce attacks.”
Manuel Padilla, the Border Patrol chief for the Rio Grande Valley, expressed his desire to CBS News for action to be taken to address family separation at the border. Separations have spiked under the Trump Administration's "zero-tolerance" policy. "We created this situation by not doing anything," Padilla said, arguing that previous immigration policy had created a "vacuum" for other families to attempt to cross the border.
"As Trump signed a joint statement with Kim Jong Un that offered few details on how the North Korean leader would make good on his vow to denuclearize, Republicans on Capitol Hill said Tuesday that they want and expect the White House to submit any final agreement for their approval." Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called for any agreement to be in the form of a treaty.