February 12, 2016
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Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus is fine with any of the current GOP candidates becoming president — even Donald Trump. In an interview Friday with CBS This Morning, Priebus denied rumors that the Republican establishment has been fretting about Trump possibly winning the nomination.

"I'm not afraid of any of these folks running for president," he said. "I think all of them can beat [Democratic presidential front-runner] Hillary Clinton, who is under investigation by the FBI, or a socialist from Vermont," he added about the Democratic competition, Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

As far as any rumors that may be going around about establishment anxiety, Priebus dismissed those as just part of the competition. "In a competition, sure, candidates say, 'I'm going to be the best choice, this person isn't going to be that great,'" Priebus said. "That happens all the time. After a while, when you have six serious competitors out there on the campaign stump every day, you hear all kinds of things." Becca Stanek

10:50 a.m. ET
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President Trump will loosen rules governing the export of lethal drones to U.S. allies, Reuters reports, and may announce these changes as soon as this month.

The president has been lobbied by American drone manufacturers, who say foreign rivals are beating them on the international market thanks to fewer restrictions in their home countries, like China and Israel. Trump is expected to cast the change as a feature of his "Buy American" campaign, which also includes his steel and aluminum tariffs plan. Though rules may not be changed for the Predator drone, the white craft that has become the face of the U.S. drone war, sources told Reuters that both surveillance craft and smaller drones that carry fewer missiles over shorter distances will be affected.

In recent years Washington has only approved armed drone sales to the United Kingdom and Italy, but potential buyers under the new rules include South Korea, Japan, Australia, and India, as well as Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, plus NATO allies and "many of the 35 signatories to the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR)."

Read The Week's Peter Weber on whether U.S. drone strikes amount to war crimes. Bonnie Kristian

10:41 a.m. ET

Severe storms hit Alabama on Monday night, causing major damage and leaving debris that trapped several people as winds shredded buildings and cut off power lines.

Tornadoes swirled and hail pelted the region, slamming northern Alabama and bringing strong winds and stormy weather to parts of Tennessee, Georgia, and South Carolina.

"There has been significant damage tonight in parts of Alabama," Gov. Kay Ivey (R) said in a statement. That damage caused at least one person to be injured Jacksonville, a city northeast of Montgomery, CNN reports, where winds tore apart homes and roofs. Fire department crews were deployed to search for people trapped by debris, and several areas implemented curfews to keep people sheltered until the worst of the storms had passed.

Baseball-sized hail came down in some parts of Alabama, causing significant damage to cars and buildings:

Severe weather is expected to continue through Tuesday, but without the threat of tornadoes, reports CNN. Summer Meza

10:17 a.m. ET

Tuesday, March 20, marks 15 years since the United States invaded Iraq to depose Saddam Hussein and find those elusive weapons of mass destruction.

At the time of the invasion, nearly 3 in 4 Americans said using military force was the right choice, but since 2006, public opinion has almost always shifted toward opposition. As of this year, Pew Research reports, 48 percent say the war was the wrong choice, and 43 percent still believe it was a good idea.

(Pew Research Center)

Among those who support the invasion, 61 percent are Republicans or independents who lean Republican. Republicans are also more likely to say the United States "succeeded in achieving its goals in Iraq." Overall, 53 percent of Americans say the U.S. failed to achieve those goals, a proportion that has held steady since 2014.

The Defense and State Departments said in February that the president has the authority to keep U.S. troops in Iraq indefinitely. Bonnie Kristian

8:58 a.m. ET
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Tuesday is the first day of spring, but you wouldn't know it in the Washington, D.C. region, where residents are awaiting what could be "one of the biggest snowfalls in almost two years," WTOP-FM writes. The winter weather will do more than just dampen moods, though — it could potentially bog down lawmakers' efforts to pass a spending bill and result in the government shutting down, Politico Playbook writes.

Congress is once again facing a looming Friday night deadline to complete its $1.2 trillion spending bill, which would keep the government open through the end of September. There continues to be heated debate over funding President Trump's border wall and as of Tuesday morning, the legislation has still not been released. When it is, it will need to clear both the House and Senate.

That's where the snowstorm comes into play. "So many aides come in from the suburbs that if the region gets between 3 and 6 inches, a snow day is completely plausible," writes Politico Playbook. "Of course, Congress could pass a short-term spending bill to push the funding deadline to sometime next week, but at this point, they don’t seem interested in doing that."

At the time of publication, the National Weather Service has a winter storm warning in effect through Wednesday evening. Snow is expected to begin Tuesday afternoon, and continue overnight. Jeva Lange

8:45 a.m. ET

Facebook's big Cambridge Analytica problem began when former Cambridge Analytica research director Christopher Wylie came forward with evidence that his company had harvested the private data of 50 million Americans on Facebook without authorization. Cambridge Analytica said in a statement that it deleted "all Facebook data and their derivatives" and did not use any of that data in its work for President Trump's campaign, but Wylie told CNN's Don Lemon on Monday night that the company's denial doesn't make sense. Cambridge Analytica's entire business model, including algorithms and data sets, was derived from the Facebook mining, he said.

Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix was meeting with Corey Lewandowski, soon to be Trump's campaign manager, in the spring of 2015, before Trump announced his candidacy and while Cambridge Analytica was still working for Ted Cruz's campaign, Wylie said. And in 2014, "we were testing all kinds of messages and all kinds of imagery — that included images of walls, people scaling walls, we tested 'drain the swamp,' testing ideas of the 'deep state,'" he added. "And a lot of these narratives, which at the time would have seemed crazy for a mainstream candidate to run on, those were the things that we were finding that there were pockets of Americans who this really appealed to. And Steve Bannon knew that, because we were doing the research on it. And I was surprised when I saw the Trump campaign and it started, you know, talking about building walls or draining the swamp."

In the final part, Wylie expresses regret over the "morally egregious" data weapon he helped set up. You can watch the entire segment below. Peter Weber

6:32 a.m. ET

A female FedEx employee was injured early Tuesday when a package at the FedEx facility in Schertz, Texas, exploded. SanantonioFIRE says the package was destined for Austin, and the FBI tells CBS News that it is "more than possible" that the explosion is linked to the four explosions in Austin this month. Two people were killed and four injured in those blasts.

The latest of the explosions was Sunday night, when two men in their early 20s hit a tripwire, setting off an explosive device anchored to a metal yard sign near the head of a hiking trail in southwest Austin, according to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. "We are clearly dealing with what we believe to be a serial bomber at this point," Austin police Chief Brian Manley said Monday, before the Schertz explosion.

The previous three package bombs were believed to have been hand delivered to their targets, not sent through the mail or a package service. There is a $115,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the bomber or bombers. Peter Weber

5:46 a.m. ET
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

On Sunday, the White House asked congressional Democrats to accept two and a half years of legal protections for DREAMers, or young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children, in return for $25 billion for President Trump's border wall, Politico reports. Democrats countered with $25 billion for the wall and border security in return for permanent protection for 1.8 million DREAMers, not just through September 2020, and the White House balked. The omnibus spending package that must pass this week might be Trump's last best chance to get funding for his border wall this year, or ever if Democrats take control of Congress — and on Monday, three organizations supported by conservative megadonors Charles and David Koch urged Trump to take the offer.

Brent Gardner at Americans for Prosperity called the Democrats' proposal "an offer all parties should immediately accept," and Daniel Garza at the LIBRE Initiative said "Congress and the White House should seize this chance." Nathan Nascimento, an executive vice president at the Freedom Partners chamber of commerce, said that "if a deal was on the table that offered both security at the border and permanent status for DREAMers, that's a deal that Republicans, Democrats, and President Trump should support. We cannot continue to allow politics to stand in the way of finding a solution to this problem."

Trump did not seem to be interested late Monday, however.

Trump ended the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program last fall, setting March 5 as the end of the temporary protection for DREAMers, but federal courts have stayed his order for now. Peter Weber

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