The Department of Homeland Security “transferred nearly $10 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to a budget document released by a Democratic senator late Tuesday night, diverting funds from the relief agency at the start of the hurricane season that began in June. The release of the document comes as a major storm barrels toward the East Coast.” (New York Times)
TRUMP'S FOCUS. “Trump on Wednesday ratcheted up his fight with Puerto Rican officials, dwelling on the intense criticism he received last year for his response to Hurricane Maria, even as Hurricane Florence threatens millions of Americans on the East Coast.
“Trump has been aggressive this week in warning Americans in Florence’s path to take the proper precautions, while hailing his government as being 'absolutely totally prepared' for the potentially historic storm. But he has spent almost as much time claiming he hasn’t gotten enough credit for his response to Hurricane Maria last September, despite the fact that thousands of Puerto Ricans died in the storm’s aftermath as the island territory struggled to cope with widespread devastation and power outages.” (Politico)
REDISTRICTING. “Adam Kincaid, a veteran Republican operative who helped his party coordinate redistricting efforts after 2010, will serve as the executive director of the National Republican Redistricting Trust, the GOP’s data and legal hub for the next round of redistricting.” (Politico)
POPE FRANCIS. “Pope Francis is summoning the presidents of every bishops conference around the world for a February summit to discuss preventing clergy sex abuse and protecting children—evidence that he realizes the scandal is global and that inaction threatens to undermine his legacy.
“Francis' key cardinal advisers announced the decision Wednesday, a day before Francis meets with U.S. church leaders who have been discredited anew by the latest accusations in the Catholic Church's decades-long sex abuse and cover-up scandal.” (AP)
SHUTDOWN. “After spending the summer threatening to shut down the government if Congress doesn't give him billions of dollars to build a border wall, President Trump is now declaring he thinks a shutdown is good politics for him. That's despite the fact nearly everyone else in his party disagrees.”
“Republican leaders have a hard time imagining a more nightmarish scenario for their party: The government has already shut down briefly twice this year under their watch, and the Republicans' majority is on the line this November in the House of Representatives and maybe even the Senate. Yet Trump doesn't seem to care much. Each time he appears to assuage Republican leaders' concerns by moderating his position, he says something a day or two later more strongly in favor of a shutdown.” (Washington Post)
ELECTION INTERFERENCE. “The Trump administration is preparing a new executive order to allow sanctions of foreign citizens suspected of interference in the American elections, officials who have reviewed the order said.
“The new order is aimed broadly at any potential outside interference in American elections, but is meant to give the government an additional tool to punish, and deter, Russian entities suspected of trying to spread disinformation or otherwise influence the midterm and subsequent balloting.” (New York Times)
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"Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has verbally resigned to Chief of Staff John Kelly in anticipation of being fired by President Trump, according to a source with direct knowledge. Per a source close to Rosenstein: 'He’s expecting to be fired,' so plans to step down."
"The commercial battle between the United States and China heated up Monday as the economic powerhouses slapped each other with the largest rounds of tariffs yet, unleashing punitive duties now on roughly half of their traded goods. President Trump imposed fresh levies on $200 billion in Chinese imports, prompting Beijing to respond with tariffs on $60 billion in American goods, approaching the point of running out of U.S. products to target."
"The Trump administration is planning to launch a major, 'administration-wide,' broadside against China ... in the next few weeks." The brainchild of the National Security apparatus, the effort will include "the White House (led by senior officials on the National Security Council), Treasury, Commerce and Defense."