“Early favorites” for the 2020 Republican National Convention “include Phoenix, New York, Miami and San Antonio.” (Politico)
LOOSE LIPS. “The special counsel in the Russia investigation has learned of two conversations in recent months in which President Trump asked key witnesses about matters they discussed with investigators.”
“In one episode, the president told an aide that the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, should issue a statement denying a New York Times article in January. The article said Mr. McGahn told investigators that the president once asked him to fire the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. Mr. McGahn never released a statement and later had to remind the president that he had indeed asked Mr. McGahn to see that Mr. Mueller was dismissed. … In the other episode, Mr. Trump asked his former chief of staff, Reince Priebus, how his interview had gone with the special counsel’s investigators and whether they had been ‘nice,’ according to two people familiar with the discussion.
“The episodes demonstrate that even as the special counsel investigation appears to be intensifying, the president has ignored his lawyers’ advice to avoid doing anything publicly or privately that could create the appearance of interfering with it.” (New York Times)
COHN ANXIETY. “GOP angst is reaching new heights with Gary Cohn’s departure from the White House, as congressional Republicans lose a key check on Donald Trump’s proclivity for protectionism.
“The outgoing economic adviser to Trump is one of Hill Republicans’ most accessible conduits to the White House. He’s worked closely with them on tax reform, banking deregulation and, most critically, pushing back against new tariffs—an argument that Cohn clearly lost.
“Republican leaders are still pushing to limit the scope of new tariffs on aluminum and steel. But at a crucial moment in their fight against a president from their own party, they’re about to be down a key ally. And with no prominent free traders left in the White House, Republicans worry Trump might take even more drastic measures like withdrawing from NAFTA and end up hobbling the economy in an election year.” (Politico)
CONTEXT. “The record-high turnover at the White House has now reached 43 percent with the pending departure of … Cohn … as the team that arrived with Mr. Trump 13 months ago heads for the doors in increasing numbers and the president increasingly relies on his own judgment for key decisions.” (New York Times)
WYOMING. “The Cheyenne Police Department is investigating an alleged assault that took place Feb. 23 between the Wyoming Republican Party executive director and party secretary. Details of the incident that occurred at the Wyoming Republican Party’s Lincoln Day Legislator Appreciation Dinner could not be released pending further investigation, said Public Information Officer Kevin Malatesta.” (Casper Star-Tribune)
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"Nearly a year before Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired senior FBI official Andrew McCabe for what Sessions called a 'lack of candor,'" McCabe launched a federal criminal investigation into whether Sessions withheld information from Congress regarding his contact with Russian operatives. "Democratic lawmakers have repeatedly accused Sessions of misleading them" during his testimony, "and called on federal authorities to investigate." When Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation, "several top Republican and Democratic lawmakers were informed of the probe during a closed-door briefing with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and McCabe."
The Senate passed the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act, or SESTA, by a vote of 97-2. The bill now heads to the White House, where President Trump is expected to sign it into law. SESTA lifts federal immunity for internet platforms involved in sex trafficking, "a move that prosecutors, victims and anti-trafficking activists are heralding as an essential step in cracking down on the crime." Opponents of SESTA argue had argued that lifting the immunity could open websites up to lawsuits based on user-generated content, which could lead to a crackdown on free speech.
In a lengthy Facebook post, Mark Zuckerberg responded to reports that Cambridge Analytica had accessed the personal data of 50 million users, and kept the data after being told by the social media company to delete it. "I started Facebook," wrote Zuckerberg, "and at the end of the day I'm responsible for what happens on our platform ... While this specific issue involving Cambridge Analytica should no longer happen with new apps today, that doesn't change what happened in the past." On Monday, Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, called for “Mr. Zuckerberg and other CEOs” to testify "about social media manipulation in the 2016 election."