Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) voted against a resolution authorizing a military strike in Syria, during a meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday. Rubio’s vote put him in the minority and on the side of Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), an uncommon ally. But Rubio sought distance from Paul after the vote, saying that he opposed the measure because he is “unconvinced” that a military strike will work. Rubio: “Those who argue that what happens in Syria is none of our business are wrong. … [I]f we follow the advice of those who seek to disengage us from global issues, in the long run we will pay a terrible price.” (Palm Beach Post)
STILL FOCUSED ON OBAMACARE. Rubio sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services Tuesday, calling on the department to cancel a planned $8.7 million ad buy promoting the Affordable Care Act. Rubio wrote: “Until critical questions can be answered regarding the availability and type of health insurance to be provided by ObamaCare, it is unconscionable to spend taxpayer dollars to promote and advertise ObamaCare plans that have yet to be finalized.” (Talking Points Memo)
NEW MESSAGE ON IMMIGRATION. Rubio is profiled in Sunday’s upcoming Parade magazine, in which he addresses his push for immigration reform. Rubio: “It’s one thing to consider immigration reform as a theoretical policy issue, and another to meet real people whose lives are impacted by it. As a senator, I interact with people who flat-out tell you, ‘Look, my kids were hungry. And I am going to do what it takes to feed them.’ You think, ‘If I had been in that position, would I have done something different?’” (release)
— Sarah Mimms
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"The Justice Department on Friday charged a Russian woman for her alleged role in a conspiracy to interfere with the 2018 U.S. election, marking the first criminal case prosecutors have brought against a foreign national for interfering in the upcoming midterms. Elena Khusyaynova, 44, was charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States. Prosecutors said she managed the finances of 'Project Lakhta,' a foreign influence operation they said was designed 'to sow discord in the U.S. political system' by pushing arguments and misinformation online about a host of divisive political issues, including immigration, the Confederate flag, gun control and the National Football League national-anthem protests."
The United States and South Korea have suspended "another major joint military exercise to give the diplomatic process with North Korea 'every opportunity to continue.'" Exercise Vigilant Ace, which last year "involved 12,000 US troops and some 230 military aircraft from the US and South Korea," was due to take place in December. Trump has canceled other operations in the past, which Gen. Robert Abrams said "had resulted in a 'slight degradation' to the readiness of US and Korean troops," but were a "prudent risk" to improve improve relations with Pyongyang.
"Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has decided to take part in an anti-terror finance meeting with Saudi security officials and their Middle Eastern counterparts in Riyadh later this month, opting to attend despite growing global outrage over the suspected murder of a U.S.-based journalist at the hands of Saudi operatives, according to three people familiar with his travel plans. The security gathering next week is separate from a Riyadh financial summit that Mnuchin announced on Thursday he would not attend."
"Steve Penny, the former president and CEO of USA Gymnastics, has been indicted on a felony count of tampering with evidence" in the sexual assault case against disgraced USA gymnastics physician Larry Nassar. Nassar was found guilty in January of sexually abusing dozens of young gymnasts, and was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison. Penny, who was arrested on Wednesday in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, "is accused of ordering the removal of documents from the Karolyi Ranch in Texas," where much of Nassar's abuse occurred.
Defense attorneys involved in the Mueller probe say the public "shouldn’t expect a comprehensive and presidency-wrecking account of Kremlin meddling and alleged obstruction of justice by Trump — not to mention an explanation of the myriad subplots that have bedeviled lawmakers, journalists and amateur Mueller sleuths. ... Perhaps most unsatisfying: Mueller’s findings may never even see the light of day."