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March 20, 2018

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

10:58 a.m.

Vice President Mike Pence is offended that you're offended.

Earlier this week, Pence's wife Karen Pence took a job at a Christian elementary school that explicitly bans "homosexual activity." And when detractors starting calling her out, Pence sat down with a Christian TV network Thursday to say their criticism was "deeply offensive."

News broke Tuesday that the second lady had taken a job at Immanuel Christian Elementary School in northern Virginia. She'll be teaching art twice a week to students whose parents have signed an "essentials of the faith" pledge that outlines just how they'll be educated. The 3-page document describes a swath of Christian values, mandating parents "regularly pray for the needs of my school, my child's teachers, the school administration, and school board." It also says the school can refuse admission to a student or expel them if they or someone in their home are found "participating in" or "supporting ... homosexual activity or bi-sexual activity."

Naturally, news organizations took note and LGBT activists craftily retaliated. But Pence said this reporting from "major news organizations" was proof they were "attacking Christian education," he said on the religious Eternal World Television Network. That's "deeply offensive to us," Pence added, but said he and Karen would "let the other critics roll off our back" and called for the end of "this criticism of Christian education in America."

Read more about the controversy at The Washington Post, or watch Pence's comments on EWTN below. Kathryn Krawczyk

10:41 a.m.

The bombshell BuzzFeed News story suggesting President Trump directed his attorney to lie to Congress barely got any coverage on Fox News Friday morning — other than when a Trump ally came on to dismiss the source.

Former congressman Newt Gingrich laughed through a Fox & Friends interview, dismissing BuzzFeed as the "equivalent of those tabloids you buy at the grocery store on the way out that introduce you to Martians and tell you the story of three stars who had anguished lives that you never knew about."

Gingrich also said that the allegations in the story could not possibly be true because Trump would not be "dumb enough" to lie to Congress.

The Fox & Friends hosts themselves didn't really talk about the story much. As Media Matters' Bobby Lewis points out, the story didn't even get mentioned until more than 40 minutes into the show. It came up as part of a brief news report, which was framed entirely around Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani's response. Giuliani had questioned the report's accuracy by suggesting Michael Cohen shouldn't be believed, even though Cohen wasn't actually the story's source.

During their interview with Gingrich, though, the hosts certainly didn't sound like they were giving the story much credence, with Steve Doocy asking "who are these law enforcement officials" quoted in the story. Doocy also emphasized that the reporter "never actually saw with his own two eyes ... that material." Watch a portion of the Gingrich interview below. Brendan Morrow

10:18 a.m.

Another election, another DNC hack?

The Democratic National Committee is piling onto its ongoing lawsuit against President Trump's 2016 campaign, Russia, and others, saying it was the intended victim of yet another cyberattack. Hackers — likely Russian ones — unsuccessfully tried to infiltrate DNC email addresses just days after the 2018 midterms, ABC News reports via court documents filed late Thursday night.

The DNC first faced a major hack in the summer of 2016 when thousands of its emails were posted on WikiLeaks by an alleged Russian agent. As the 2018 midterms approached, the threat of Russian interference and any hacking at all actually appeared pretty minimal, but this new court filing suggests those previous assumptions may not quite be true.

In Thursday's filing, the DNC alleged that "on Nov. 14, 2018, dozens of DNC email addresses were targeted in a spear-phishing campaign." The campaign didn't appear successful, the filing said. But the timing of the attack and the methods used resemble the work of a Russian hacking group alleged to have conducted the 2016 hack, the DNC claims, leading it to say "it is probable that Russian intelligence again attempted to unlawfully infiltrate DNC computers in November 2018."

These allegations add to the heap the DNC has already levied against the Trump campaign, its former chair Paul Manafort, Wikileaks and its founder Julian Assange, and the entire Russian federation, among many others. Read more about the new accusations at ABC News. Kathryn Krawczyk

9:39 a.m.

One of the reporters who broke the bombshell story suggesting President Trump directed his attorney to lie to Congress says he hasn't directly seen the hard evidence, but he's still completely confident the story is correct.

BuzzFeed News' Anthony Cormier spoke with CNN about the article he worked on with Jason Leopold, which set off a firestorm and which the House Intelligence Committee says it will investigate. Some have expressed skepticism about the report, so CNN asked Cormier if he has directly seen evidence that Trump directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress, i.e. the emails, texts, and other documents mentioned in the story.

"No, I have not seen it personally," Cormier said while adding that the two law enforcement officials mentioned in the report are "fully 100 percent read in to that aspect of the special counsel's investigation." Cormier said his sources began to compile evidence that Trump suborned perjury even before Cohen started to cooperate with Robert Mueller, and "it's our understanding that this is rock solid information developed over the course of a long period of time."

Later in the interview, when CNN's Alisyn Camerota asked Cormier how he can be certain about the report, he confidently replied, "I am rock solid. My sourcing on this goes beyond the two that are on the record. This 100 percent happened. I am the individual who confirmed and verified that it happened." He added, "we've been able to verify this in other ways."

Watch a portion of CNN's interview with Cormier below. Brendan Morrow

9:17 a.m.

A new report from BuzzFeed News suggesting President Trump directed his former attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress set off a firestorm in Democratic circles and sparked some to call for Trump's swift impeachment. But many conservatives are urging caution, saying the allegations should be treated with skepticism.

Conservative Erick Erickson pointed to a few reasons he's taking the allegations with a grain of salt. First of all, the BuzzFeed story claims Special Counsel Robert Mueller learned that Trump directed Cohen to lie, in part, by speaking with members of the Trump Organization. But, Erickson points out, ABC's John Santucci says his reporting on the matter has not turned up any members of the Trump Organization who say they've been interviewed by Mueller's team.

Other conservatives seem suspicious because this new information was not mentioned in Cohen's plea deal. The Daily Wire's Ryan Saavedra dismissed the report, pointing to other Russia-related stories he says were not subsequently corroborated:

The Washington Examiner's Byron York summarizes what seems to lie ahead, writing: "Looks like we're in another 'big if true' cycle of the Trump-Russia matter."

"If this story is correct, it's both inexcusable behavior and a full-scale disaster for Trump," The Daily Wire's Ben Shapiro tweeted. Conservative blogger Allahpundit put the whole thing in pretty simple black-and-white terms, saying: "Either Trump's finished or BuzzFeed's credibility is."

Read the entire report at BuzzFeed News. Brendan Morrow

8:56 a.m.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said Friday that the electric-car maker is cutting its full-time staff by 7 percent as it struggles to cut prices and ramp up production of its Model 3 sedan, the company's first mass-market vehicle, CNN reports.

The job reductions follow other cost-cutting measures as Tesla struggles to expand profitability. Musk wrote in an email to Tesla employees that the company is "up against massive, entrenched competitors" and has to work "much harder than other manufacturers to survive while building affordable, sustainable products," reports CNBC. He added that building "affordable clean energy products at scale necessarily requires extreme effort and relentless creativity."

Tesla shares fell on the news, declining by nearly 6 percent in premarket trading. Read more at CNBC. Harold Maass

7:48 a.m.

A line of questioning from William Barr's confirmation hearing has taken on far greater significance after a new report about President Trump.

Trump's nominee for attorney general made clear multiple times during his hearing earlier this week that if a president commits the behavior Trump has since been accused of committing, this would be obstruction of justice. He said as much when Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) asked him, "A president persuading a person to commit perjury would be obstruction, is that right?" Barr responded simply, "Yes," The Washington Post reports.

In case it wasn't clear enough, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) separately asked Barr, "If there was some reason to believe that the president tried to coach somebody not to testify or to testify falsely, that could be obstruction of justice?" Barr responded, "Yes." Barr had previously written in June 2018, "Obviously, the President and any other official can commit obstruction in this classic sense of sabotaging a proceeding’s truth-finding function."

This is precisely what a new report from BuzzFeed alleges: that Trump personally directed his then-attorney, Michael Cohen, to commit perjury by falsely telling Congress a business deal with Russia ended long before it actually did. Cohen in November pleaded guilty to lying to Congress, and BuzzFeed quotes two federal law enforcement officials as saying Cohen has informed Special Counsel Robert Mueller that Trump directed him to make these false statements. Mueller reportedly already knew this through separate interviews with multiple witnesses.

Trump has not yet personally responded to the report, but his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, released a statement dismissing Cohen's credibility. Brendan Morrow

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