For the last several months, the Trump administration has discussed imposing sanctions against senior Chinese government officials in response to Beijing detaining and torturing ethnic Uighurs, a minority Muslim group, in internment camps, current and former U.S. officials told The New York Times.
Officials from the White House, Treasury Department, and State Department have also talked about limiting sales of American surveillance technology that China uses to monitor Uighurs in the northwestern part of the country, the Times reports. On Sunday, Human Rights Watch released a report based on interviews with 58 former residents of Xinjiang who said they were taken to camps where they had to pledge loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party and denounce parts of Islam; some also said they were tortured by security officers.
Human Rights Watch said what they are seeing is of a "scope and scale not seen in China since the 1966-1976 Cultural Revolution," and recommends that countries withhold visas from Chinese officials and control exports of technology. China has not admitted it is detaining Muslims, but has acknowledged enforcing "counter-extremism education." Catherine Garcia
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is preparing new policies that would offer more support to students accused of sexual assault and harassment on campus and reduce liability for colleges, The New York Times reports.
The Times obtained a copy of the proposed rules, which would redefine sexual harassment as "unwelcome conduct on the basis of sex that is so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it denies a person access to the school's education program or activity." Colleges would only have to investigate claims of misconduct that took place on their campuses, and schools would be tasked with launching investigations that provide "prompt and equitable" resolutions and begin "under the presumption that the accused is innocent until proved guilty," the Times reports.
Last fall, DeVos announced she was rescinding the Obama administration's Title IX guidance on sexual assault on campus, saying it was not fair to students accused of misconduct. Education Department spokeswoman Liz Hill told the Times the information "is premature and speculative." Catherine Garcia
The Manhattan district attorney's office is weighing filing criminal charges against the Trump Organization and two senior company officials in relation to hush money payments Michael Cohen made to Stormy Daniels, two officials familiar with the situation told The New York Times on Thursday.
The investigation would reportedly revolve around how the Trump Organization reimbursed Cohen, President Trump's former personal lawyer, for a $130,000 payment he made to Daniels, a porn star who said she had an affair with Trump. Federal prosecutors have said the Trump Organization reimbursed Cohen using "sham legal invoices in connection with a nonexistent retainer agreement." The officials told the Times the prosecutors are in the very early stages of considering whether to proceed. Trump does not have the power as president to pardon anyone convicted of a state crime.
The Times also learned that the New York State attorney general's office has moved to open a criminal investigation into whether Cohen violated state tax law. On Tuesday, Cohen pleaded guilty to federal tax evasion charges, and this is not connected to those crimes. Catherine Garcia
The Defense Department's inspector general launched an investigation into Dana White, the Pentagon's chief spokeswoman, after receiving multiple complaints that she retaliated against staff members who once ran her personal errands, four people familiar with the matter told CNN on Tuesday.
White is one of Defense Secretary James Mattis' most senior civilian advisers, and she allegedly asked support staff to pick up her dry cleaning, buy things for her at the pharmacy, work on her mortgage application and other financial documents, and give her a ride to work when it snowed.
Several people told CNN that in May, at least two staffers went to senior officials to let them know what White was doing, and not long after, White retaliated by having them transferred. The investigation began weeks ago, CNN reports, and the inspector general has interviewed at least six people so far. Read more about the allegations and White's pre-Pentagon life at CNN. Catherine Garcia
During their interviews with congressional investigators last Thursday and Friday, two of Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt's top aides discussed how Pruitt asked them to do things like help his wife find a job and look into ways he could get out of a rental agreement without having to pay any penalties, three people familiar with the sessions told The Washington Post.
Samantha Dravis, the EPA's former associate administrator for the Office of Policy, and Pruitt's chief of staff, Ryan Jackson, were interviewed separately by staffers of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Dravis revealed that Pruitt asked her to contact the Republican Attorneys General Association, which he once led and where she once worked, while trying to find his wife a job that paid at least $200,000, but she refused to avoid any potential conflicts of interest, the Post reports. Dravis is a lawyer, and also said she was asked along with another top aide, Sarah Greenwalt, to review a rental agreement he wanted to break, people with knowledge of the interview told the Post, to see if they could find a way he could get out of the agreement without having to pay any penalties.
As for Jackson, he confirmed that he did assist with connecting Pruitt to lobbyist J. Steven Hart; Pruitt paid just $50 a night to stay at a condo owned by Hart's wife Vicki, in an agreement that Jackson said was only supposed to last six weeks (it ended up lasting six months). Read more about their interviews at The Washington Post. Catherine Garcia
A draft of a Trump administration bill leaked to Axios, called the United States Fair and Reciprocal Tariff Act, would give President Trump the ability to raise tariffs whenever he wants and negotiate directly with any country.
"It would be the equivalent of walking away from the [World Trade Organization] and our commitments there without us actually notifying our withdrawal," a person familiar with the draft told Axios. "The good news is Congress would never give this authority to the president" because the bill is "insane," the person added.
In late May, Trump was briefed on the draft, and most people close to him realize that the bill will go nowhere; Axios reports that adviser Peter Navarro thinks the bill has a shot, but White House Legislative Affairs Director Marc Short told him it would be "dead on arrival" and no one in Congress would support it. White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters told Axios "the only way this would be news is if this were actual legislation that the administration was preparing to roll out, but it's not. Principals have not even met to review any text of legislation on reciprocal trade." Catherine Garcia
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) has been accused by four women of nonconsensual physical violence, with two telling The New Yorker the abuse took place while they were in romantic relationships with Schneiderman.
Michelle Manning Barish and Tanya Selvaratnam both claim they were slapped and choked by Schneiderman, and while they did not report the abuse to police, they did receive medical attention. They also say he threatened to kill himself or them if they ever left him, and drinking was often involved when he became violent. A third woman, an attorney who asked not to be identified, told The New Yorker that after she stopped a romantic encounter with Schneiderman after he said offensive things, he slapped her so hard it left a mark on her face, then drove her home while intoxicated. The fourth woman told Manning Barish and Selvaratnam she was physically abused while in a relationship with Schneiderman, but was too afraid of him to go public.
As attorney general, Schneiderman has been a vocal proponent of women's rights, and he recently filed a civil rights lawsuit against the disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, accused by dozens of women of sexual misconduct and harassment. Selvaratnam said it makes her "feel sick" to see "a man who has staked his entire career, his personal narrative, on being a champion for women publicly. But he abuses them privately. He needs to be called out."
Schneiderman told The New Yorker that in the "privacy of intimate relationships" he has "engaged in role-playing and other consensual sexual activity," but has "not assaulted anyone" or "engaged in nonconsensual sex." New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), an ally of Schneiderman's, called for his resignation. For more on the allegations, visit The New Yorker. Catherine Garcia
After learning in 2013 that Us Weekly was preparing to run a story about Donald Trump Jr. having an affair with Celebrity Apprentice contestant Aubrey O'Day, President Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, was able to get the magazine to kill the piece, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The Trump Organization was asked to comment on the story, and when Cohen called the magazine back, he threatened legal action, one person told the Journal. Us Weekly decided not to run the story, reportedly feeling it wasn't worth going to court over and wanting to maintain a "good working relationship" with Trump. Last month, Trump Jr. and his wife of 12 years, Vanessa, announced they were splitting up. O'Day, a singer, appeared on Celebrity Apprentice in 2011, when Trump Jr. was a judge.
The Journal also reported on Sunday that Cohen used the same limited liability company, based in Delaware, to pay off adult film star Stormy Daniels, who claims she had a sexual encounter with Trump, and a Playboy Playmate who had an affair with ex-Republican National Committee Deputy Finance Chairman Elliott Broidy. Cohen's home, office, and hotel room were raided by FBI agents last week, searching for documents related to the Daniels case, among other subjects. Catherine Garcia