April 11, 2014

It didn't take long for President Obama to name a new head for the Department of Health and Human Services after the White House announced Kathleen Sebelius' departure last night. At a press conference this morning, the president said he will tap Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the current director of the Office of Management and Budget and a former member of the Clinton administration, for the job.

Obama praised Sebelius, saying she will "go down in history" for her role helping shape and rollout the Affordable Care Act (commonly known as ObamaCare). He acknowledged there were problems during the debut of the health care law, but said her team "got it fixed." He added: "I will miss her advice. I will miss her friendship. I will miss her wit."

As for Burwell, Obama called her a "proven manager" and "a steady hand on the wheel." He also noted that she was unanimously confirmed by the Senate last year for her current post. "I'm assuming not much has changed since that time," he joked.

Read more at The New York Times. --Jordan Valinsky

1:26 a.m. ET
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At this rate, the next time you turn on Fox News it might just be an empty set or this guy, since all of the on-air personalities are being poached by President Trump.

On Thursday, Trump announced that former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, a Fox News analyst, would be replacing National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, and another frequent guest on Fox News, Joseph diGenova, just signed on to be part of Trump's legal team. We already know Trump watches Fox & Friends like it's his job, but he sometimes changes the channel, as shown by his recent hiring of conservative CNBC contributor Larry Kudlow as director of the National Economic Council.

It makes sense for Trump to pluck people his base is familiar with, Fusion TV host Alicia Menendez told CNN. "If you love the president, if you love Fox News, then his hiring from Fox validates Fox's credibility and it also validates the president's great taste, right?" she said. "It works both ways." Why stop there, though? Trump should turn to network television to start filling positions — make nemesis Alec Baldwin his body double, replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions with Judge Judy, put the kids from Riverdale in charge of homeland security, and let Young Sheldon take over NASA. Catherine Garcia

1:20 a.m. ET
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Early Friday morning, the Senate passed a $1.3 trillion omnibus bill to fund the government through September. The 65-32 vote came hours after the House passed the bill, 256-167; the 2,232-page legislation was released Wednesday night. Trump is expected to sign the bill, likely the last major legislation Congress gets through this year, before Saturday, averting a third government shutdown this year.

Some fiscal conservatives were upset with the price tag of the spending bill, which includes big increases for the military and domestic programs — as sought by Republicans and Democrats, respectively — but Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who caused the last, brief government shutdown, did not reprise his efforts to block the legislation after intense discussion with Senate leaders. Sen. James Risch (R-Idaho) did slow down the bill a bit Thursday evening over a proposal to rename a forest in Idaho after Cecil Andrus, a former four-term Idaho governor who died last year. Risch backed down after the Senate agreed to separate legislation postponing the forest renaming. It's unclear if the House will approve that motion. Peter Weber

12:46 a.m. ET
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When President Trump tweeted Thursday evening that he was firing National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and replacing him with John Bolton, effective April 9, Bolton told Fox News a few minutes later that he'd been surprised by Trump's offer, though they had apparently discussed the move for weeks. But Trump's decision to fire McMaster so abruptly also "surprised senior White House aides who had been preparing a single statement announcing the departure of multiple top Trump officials," Politico reports, citing two senior administration officials.

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, who supported ousting McMaster, had been planning to announce the firing of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, and maybe several senior White House aides at the same time as they announced McMaster's departure, Politico says. "It's unclear which other West Wing officials were possibly set to depart with McMaster, but the two senior administration officials said they believed it would be easier to manage the optics if multiple firings were made public in a single statement instead of drawn out."

Such an announcement wouldn't have been made for at least another week, until after inspector general reports on Carson and Shulkin were out. "Trump upends whatever he wants to upend," a White House official told Politico. Trump called McMaster Thursday afternoon to thank him and give him a heads-up about his ouster, not wanting to publicly humiliate him as he had outgoing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, The Washington Post reports, but the mounting rumors of McMaster's firing had made it difficult for him to do his job. "Everyone in the White House knew that," a senior official told the Post. "It was the same as Rex. Everyone knew their days were numbered, so people didn't take them seriously." Peter Weber

12:05 a.m. ET

Guccifer 2.0, the hacker who says he provided WikiLeaks with emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee in 2016, is a Russian intelligence officer, The Daily Beast reports.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating Guccifer 2.0, and the FBI agents who determined his identity are on Mueller's team, The Daily Beast says. Guccifer 2.0 made his online debut June 15, 2016, only a few hours after a computer security firm tied the DNC hack to Russia. Claiming to be a lone hacker, Guccifer 2.0 posted and tweeted DNC documents, while "projecting an image as an independent Romanian," The Daily Beast says. He denied that Russia was involved in the attack, and a few days before Trump's inauguration, he stopped posting online.

Not many people believed that Guccifer 2.0 was Romanian, and after he forgot to connect online using an anonymizing service, investigators were able to track his real IP address to Moscow, The Daily Beast reports. From that, they identified Guccifer 2.0 as a specific GRU officer, working out of the military intelligence department's headquarters (his name was not disclosed to The Daily Beast). It has also been determined that one person launched the Guccifer 2.0 persona, then passed it off to someone with a better grasp of the English language. Read more about how leaks from Guccifer 2.0 helped a Florida Republican, and how Trump adviser Roger Stone ties into the story, at The Daily Beast. Catherine Garcia

March 22, 2018

In an interview Thursday with CNN's Anderson Cooper, former Playboy model Karen McDougal said she "spent a lot of time" with President Trump more than a decade ago, and she found him to be "very sweet" and "liked his charisma," but was "sad" when he offered her money after they had sex for the first time.

McDougal alleges she had an affair with Trump, knowing he was married to his third wife, Melania Trump. She "felt guilty about it," McDougal told Cooper, and is "sorry" for what happened. "I wouldn't want it done to me," she added. McDougal said she was in love with Trump and he "told me all the time he was in love with me," calling her "baby" and "beautiful Karen."

She said that after they had "been intimate" the first time, Trump "tried to pay me, and I actually didn't know how to take that." When he attempted to hand her money, "I don't even know how to describe the look on my face," McDougal said, and she cried the entire way back to her house. McDougal also said she got to know Trump's former bodyguard Keith Schiller well, as he would pick her up for meetings with Trump in Los Angeles and then take her home. She said she and Trump were intimate "many dozens of times," and she "didn't know he was intimate with other ladies. ... I thought I was the only one."

Earlier this week, McDougal filed a lawsuit against American Media Inc., the company that owns the National Enquirer. She sold her story about the alleged affair to the publication, but it never appeared in the tabloid. Catherine Garcia

March 22, 2018
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On his last day at the State Department, outgoing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson gave a farewell speech that never mentioned President Trump by name but did include a jab at Washington, D.C.

"This can be a very mean-spirited town," the Texan said Thursday. "But you don't have to participate in that." He asked that "each of you undertake to ensure one act of kindness each day toward another person," and reminded the State Department staffers that their integrity "belongs to you. Only you can relinquish it or allow it to be compromised." Tillerson also said the United States "faces many challenges — in some instances perplexing foreign affairs relationships, and in other instances serious national security threats," and "in these times, your continued diligence and devotion to the State Department's mission has never been more necessary."

After he fired Tillerson earlier this month, Trump named CIA Director Mike Pompeo as his replacement, but he still needs to be confirmed by the Senate. His hearing is scheduled for April 12. Catherine Garcia

March 22, 2018
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President Trump and John Bolton, the incoming national security adviser, have spent the last several weeks trying to figure out how Bolton could replace H.R. McMaster, CNN reports, and during negotiations, the hawkish Fox News analyst made a bold statement.

A person familiar with their talks told CNN's Kaitlan Collins that Bolton, who while part of the George W. Bush administration pushed for the Iraq War and has called for strikes against North Korea and Iran, promised Trump that if he gave him the position, "he wouldn't start any wars." Fingers crossed he keeps his word. Catherine Garcia

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