February 28, 2018

You'd think a president who claims to have accomplished 64 percent of his agenda after one year in office wouldn't need a second term, but President Trump has been officially running for re-election since literally the day he was sworn in, and on Tuesday he named a campaign manager, Brad Parscale. Parscale, who started creating webpages for Trump in 2011 before becoming the digital backbone of his 2016 campaign, never really left — he's "on the payroll of five campaign and political advocacy organizations tied to Trump, lucrative work that made him central to Trump's campaign even before his appointment as campaign manager," The Associated Press reports, and his ties to the Trump family run deep:

Parscale has hired Eric Trump's wife, Lara, a move that reflects his close relationship to the family and shields how much she is being paid from public disclosure because she works for a private company. According to the terms of her hiring last March, she was Giles-Parscale's liaison to the campaign, working out of Trump Tower. Neither she nor Parscale responded to emailed questions about her current compensation. [The Associated Press]

Parscale is also close with Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law. And helping Trump win, notably by tapping into the micro-targeting power of Facebook, has been lucrative for Parscale in other ways. In August, he agreed to sell his San Antonio digital marketing company to the California firm CloudCommerce, which AP calls "a penny-stock firm with a questionable history that includes longstanding ties to a convicted fraudster" who is still involved in management decisions.

CloudCommerce has "sufficient red flags to give a responsible regulator reason to investigate," former SEC senior counsel Jacob Frenkel tells AP. "What about this company isn't a red flag?" You can read more about the company, where Parscale is now part of the management team, at AP, and learn more about Parscale in the CBS News report below. Peter Weber

12:15 a.m.

In a new legal memo, the Office of Management and Budget says the agency often puts temporary holds on money already signed into law, and did nothing wrong when it withheld security aid to Ukraine, The Washington Post reports.

After President Trump questioned the spending, the aid was delayed eight times over the summer, before he finally released it on Sept. 11. Trump's dealings with Ukraine and the delay in getting aid to the country have been central in his impeachment probe.

Several OMB officials have said freezing the aid was unusual, but OMB general counsel Mark Paoletta disagrees, writing in the memo that this was a routine matter. "Often, in managing appropriations, OMB must briefly pause an agency's legal ability to spend those funds for a number of reasons, including to ensure that the funds are being spent efficiently, that they are being spent in accordance with statutory directives, or to assess how or whether funds should be used for a particular activity," he said. Paoletta wrote the memo after the U.S. Government Accountability Office asked why the aid was delayed. Catherine Garcia

December 11, 2019

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) made a prediction on Wednesday night, one that he hopes will steer Democrats when they vote on whether to impeach President Trump.

Buck sits on the House Judiciary Committee, which debated the articles of impeachment on Wednesday night. When it was his turn to speak, Buck declared that Democrats were looking for "any excuse" to impeach Trump, and that won't end well for them.

"Democrats are so righteous in their belief the president must be impeached that they ignore plain facts," he said. "I tell my colleagues: Go ahead, vote to impeach President Trump tomorrow. But when you walk out of this hearing room, call your freshmen colleagues and tell them they're not coming back and you hope they've had their fun. Say goodbye to your majority status and please join us in 2021 when President Trump is inaugurated again." Catherine Garcia

December 11, 2019

In a passionate plea to his Republican colleagues, Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) implored them to "wake up" and remember that they "didn't swear an oath to Donald Trump. You swore an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Cicilline made his remarks on Wednesday night as the House Judiciary Committee debated the articles of impeachment against President Trump. He first quoted Alexander Hamilton, who said impeachable offenses are "abuses of public trust, injuries done to society itself," and said he would use his time to help the public understand why Trump's decision to stop aid to Ukraine affects every American.

Trump, Cicilline said, "wielded the enormous powers of the presidency to cheat in the 2020 election. Specifically, he used our nation's leverage over an ally, undermining our national security to try to smear the opponent he feared most in the general election. That wasn't an attack on Vice President Biden, it was an attack on our democracy, and if we don't hold the president accountable for it, we will set a catastrophic precedent."

In the future, he warned, a president afraid of losing re-election will "feel entitled to do whatever it takes to win, even if they have to abuse their power to do it. If we set that precedent, if we decide the president is above the law, then we will no longer live in a democracy. We will live in a dictatorship, trading the values of Madison for the values of Moscow."

Speaking directly to the GOP lawmakers on the committee, Cicilline urged them to "stop thinking about running for re-election, stop worrying about being primaried, stop deflecting and distracting and treating those you represent as if they don't see what's going on, like they're not smart enough to realize that you are willfully ignoring the facts to protect a corrupt and dangerous president." He then asked each person to "reach deep within yourself to find the courage to do what the evidence requires and the Constitution demands: to put our country above your party." Catherine Garcia

December 11, 2019

Starting in 2020, Major League Baseball will begin testing players for opioids, the Los Angeles Times reports.

A person with knowledge of the matter told the Times the league and its players' union have agreed to the new policy, and they expect it will be formally announced on Thursday.

Major league players have not had to undergo opioid or marijuana testing, unless there is reasonable cause or they are in a treatment program, the Times reports. Minor league players have been subject to marijuana testing, but under the new policy, all players will be able to use pot for medicinal purposes.

In July, Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs was found dead in his Texas hotel room while on the road, and tests found he had opioids in his bloodstream. Catherine Garcia

December 11, 2019

Federal prosecutors on Wednesday said in a court filing that Rudy Giuliani's associate Lev Parnas has misrepresented his income and failed to disclose that he received $1 million from Russia in September.

Parnas, they said, poses "an extreme risk of flight" that is "only compounded by his continued and troubling misrepresentations." Parnas was arrested in October and charged with campaign finance violations, and prosecutors have asked the judge to revoke his bail and send him to jail.

Prosecutors said the $1 million was put into a bank account belonging to his wife, Svetlana Parnas, and this seemed "to be an attempt to ensure that any assets were held in Svetlana's, rather than Lev's, name."

Parnas and another indicted Giuliani associate, Igor Fruman, went to Ukraine to try to dig up dirt on Democratic presidential candidates. They have also been accused of working on behalf of Ukrainian government officials to get Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine known for her anti-corruption efforts, removed from her post. Beyond that, not much is known about who the pair worked for and what they did, Bloomberg notes, and this court filing rises new questions about their clients. Catherine Garcia

December 11, 2019

With a 377-48 vote, the House on Wednesday passed a $738 billion defense policy bill that authorizes the creation of a Space Force as the sixth branch of the military and gives federal workers 12 weeks of paid parental leave.

The bill also gives troops a 3 percent pay raise. The House passed a version of the bill in July, and negotiators spent the last several months working out details and making concessions. The compromise bill does not include any provisions related to President Trump's border wall, and also drops several items touted by progressive Democrats, including blocking Trump from taking military action against Iran and banning the sale of certain munitions to Saudi Arabia.

The bill still has to pass in the Senate. Trump tweeted that he will sign it "immediately." Catherine Garcia

December 11, 2019

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) has returned.

While she never actually quit her day job, Harris had one of her most high profile days in the Senate on Wednesday since ending her Democratic presidential bid earlier in December. She took a seat with the rest of Senate Judiciary Committee to listen to testimony from Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz on his report on the FBI investigation into 2016 Russian election interference.

When it was her turn to ask questions — after a hearty welcome from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the committee chair — Harris quickly fell back into the swing of things. The senator used a good chunk of her time to go after Attorney General William Barr for "doing the bidding of President Trump."

Some observers praised her performance and even dropped some suggestions about what she should do next. Tim O'Donnell

See More Speed Reads