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November 2, 2018

The Justice Department is investigating Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke over a Montana land deal involving Zinke, his wife, and David Lesar, chairman of oil services giant Halliburton, and "the White House is getting increasingly concerned," The Washington Post reports, citing two senior administration officials. "Trump told his aides that he is afraid Zinke has broken rules while serving as the interior secretary and is concerned about the Justice Department referral," but he "has not indicated whether he will fire the former Navy SEAL and congressman and has asked for more information."

The Interior Department inspector general's office referred this investigation to the Justice Department, but it also has at least two other ongoing investigations of Zinke's conduct in office. Zinke, 57, has denied wrongdoing. "A referral to the Justice Department means prosecutors will explore whether a criminal investigation is warranted," the Post reports. "An agency's inspector general refers cases to the Justice Department only when it has determined that there could be criminal violations and regularly does so before completing its own investigation."

Such referrals aren't too uncommon, but New York University professor Paul Light, who wrote a book about inspectors general, said IGs rarely refer investigations involving Cabinet secretaries. You can read more about the scrutinized land deal and Zinke's sinking stock at the White House at The Washington Post. Peter Weber

4:48 a.m.

President Trump said Wednesday he won't work with Democrats on infrastructure or anything else until they end their investigations of him. "You're on the Senate Intelligence Committee," Stephen Colbert reminded Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) on Wednesday's Late Show. "Are you guys going to end the investigation?" "No," she said. "Let's just talk for a moment about this."

So Trump's "going to hold America's infrastructure hostage over the issue of the investigation," Harris said, connecting some dots. Almost half of American families are about $400 of unexpected expenses away from "complete upheaval," she said. The average set of tires for a car costs $400, she added, and "why do people need new tires? Because the roads are falling apart." Colbert played the devil's advocate, suggesting Democrats "just pause the investigations and get the infrastructure done — he'll still be corrupt later." Harris laughed but said, "No, this is a false choice. We cannot abandon our democracy for the sake of appeasing somebody who is completely focused on his self-interest only."

Harris said it's her "firm belief" that Trump obstructed justice, but impeachment is tricky. She's in favor of starting an impeachment investigation, she said, but "it is also fair that we are realistic that the Senate is not going to impeach this guy." The investigation is still worth pursuing, Harris added. "It's about maintaining the integrity of our democracy and the design of it," three co-equal branches of government with checks and balances. But when the Senate fails to convict, she said, Democrats must be ready to watch Trump "prance around and say, 'See? Witch hunt, witch hunt. They went after me and they didn't get me.'" "I've never imagined him prancing before," Colbert said, "but thank you for that image."

Harris also explained how her equal-pay plan shifts the burden of assuring men and women earn the same money for the same work from individuals to the companies. Watch below. Peter Weber

3:13 a.m.

If you've paid any attention to President Trump, you know he's obsessed with golf and he golfs a lot. HuffPost tried to discern what Trump's roughly 175 president golf trips have cost in added travel and security costs, and on Wednesday they reported their conservative estimate: $102 million. That includes $81 million for his 61 days at his golf courses in Florida, $17 million for his 58 days at his New Jersey resort, $1 million for him to visit his club in Los Angeles, and $3 million to tack a trip to his Scottish golf course onto a visit to London. A planned golf trip to Ireland will cost millions more.

For perspective, HuffPost says, $102 million "represents 255 times the annual presidential salary he volunteered not to take," and former President Barack Obama at this point in his presidency had racked up about $30 million in out-of-town golf expenses.

At The Washington Examiner, Tom Rogan scolds HuffPost for "hyperventilating" about Trump's golf expenses, noting, reasonably, that president need vacations and have to travel with large, expensive entourages "Too many conservative commentators unjustly attacked Obama's travel costs," he said, and "liberals are wrong to complain about President Trump's golfing costs."

But cost was only part of HuffPost's concerns. All but one of Trump's 175 golf outings have been at Trump-owned courses — the exception was in Japan — and "on top of the publicity value of a presidential visit, each trip also results in many thousands of taxpayer dollars flowing to Trump resorts for hotel rooms, golf carts, and food and drink for Secret Service agents," HuffPost notes. "Because Trump continues to profit from these businesses ... a portion of that taxpayer money ends up in Trump's own pocket." A recent government report found that Trump's Mar-a-Lago earned about $60,000 from just four of Trump's 24 presidential visits. Read more at HuffPost. Peter Weber

1:35 a.m.

"Today, there really is just one big story: America's step-daddy is angry," Stephen Colbert said on Wednesday's Late Show. Frustrated Democrats are starting to push for impeachment, and after a meeting Wednesday morning to calm down her caucus, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) emerged and said she believes Trump "is engaged in a cover-up." Colbert laughed: "It's called bronzer, Nancy, and he's not fooling anyone."

Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) then went to the White House to meet with Trump for a pre-scheduled meeting on infrastructure, Trump walked in late, walked out, and the meeting was over in three minutes. "According to Stormy Daniels, that's two bonus minutes," Colbert said, naughtily. "Trump walked out the door, straight to the Rose Garden for a nationally televised hissy fit, complete with a podium adorned with a pre-printed sign that said 'No collusion, no obstruction.'"

"So Trump has a clear stance on infrastructure: 'It's my way or no highways,'" Colbert said, paraphrasing Trump's opening message. Trump then claimed Democrats can't investigate him and legislate at the same time, raged about Democrats moving toward "the 'i' word," insisted he's denying Congress its constitutional powers for altruistic reasons, and stood up for his son Don Jr, Colbert recapped. Then Pelosi politely savaged Trump, but couldn't quite articulate "the 'i' word."

The Late Show had no trouble finding (and singing about) "i" words to describe Trump.

"Trump's press conference was predictably off-the-rails," starting with his "obvious lie" that he's a historically transparent president, Seth Meyer said at Late Night. "I mean, we can see right though you, but I don't think that's what you meant." With Trump "now openly defying the law and refusing to work with Congress unless they stop investigating him," he added, "it's worth remembering that Republicans spent years pretending to care about the Constitution, and now Trump is exposing them all as frauds." Well, all except one. Watch below. Peter Weber

1:17 a.m.

Army Spc. Tyler Mosley and Daisy had an instant connection, and he knew their story wouldn't end in Syria.

They met in January while Mosley was serving a five-month deployment. After finding the German shepherd puppy abandoned on the side of the road, a technician brought her to the Army compound. Daisy quickly bonded with Mosley, and when it came time for him to return to the United States, he made a plan to get his new friend out of Syria. "She was in a bad place," Mosley told the Panama City News Herald. "I just wanted her to be here so I could give her the love, the life that she wouldn't have had there."

He contacted the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals International, and after filling out forms and paying a small fee, Daisy started her trek to the U.S. Following stops in Iraq, Germany, and New York City, she arrived in Florida last month, with a tearful Mosley greeting her at the airport. Daisy now lives with Mosley, his wife Kelsey, and their cat. "I just knew that I would do whatever it takes to get her home," Mosley said. Catherine Garcia

12:19 a.m.

Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spent seven hours on Tuesday speaking with members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and told them all about President Trump's shaky 2017 meeting in Hamburg with Russian President Vladimir Putin, committee aides told The Washington Post.

"We spent a lot of time in the conversation talking about how Putin seized every opportunity to push what he wanted," one aide said. "There was a discrepancy in preparation, and it created an unequal footing." Tillerson said Trump believed it would be a brief meeting, with the men exchanging nothing more than pleasantries, but Putin was ready to discuss major issues, and they were together for two hours. Tillerson also shared that he thinks the U.S. needs to do more to push back against Russia on the global stage, the Post reports.

Tillerson was invited to speak privately to a bipartisan group of lawmakers by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.). Tillerson, who was fired in March 2018, was careful not to insult Trump, a committee aide told the Post, but he made it clear that he and the president do not have the same "value system." When asked to describe Trump's values, the aide said Tillerson replied, "'I cannot.' Just as matter of fact, he stated that he couldn't or wouldn't unpack the president's values for us." Catherine Garcia

12:05 a.m.

One of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) arguments against opening impeachment proceedings against President Trump is that House Democrats are actually winning their oversight battles with the White House. And in fact, a second federal judge green-lighted congressional subpoenas of Trump's financial records on Wednesday, and two of Trump's lenders — Wells Fargo and TD Bank — have reportedly already handed over some financial records.

On the other hand, Trump's lawyers plan to appeal the rulings on his Deutsche Bank, Capital One, and accounting records, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has refused to hand over Trump's tax returns, despite a law that says he "shall," a subpoena, and a memo from IRS lawyers agreeing he has little choice. New York may have just given House Democrats a workaround on Trump's tax returns, though.

On Wednesday, the New York state Assembly and Senate gave final approval to a law that would allow three congressional committees — House Ways and Means, Senate Banking, and Joint Committee on Taxation — to request the state tax returns of any elected or top appointed official. It covers both business and personal tax returns filed in the state. New York is Trump's home and the headquarters of many of his core businesses, and the information on his state returns should be very similar to what's on his federal returns.

If Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signs the legislation — a spokesman said he is reviewing it carefully — it will take effect immediately. That would probably provide House Democrats their fastest path to viewing Trump's tax returns — though the law, like all the other avenues, might have to overcome a court challenge first. Peter Weber

May 22, 2019

While President Trump fought to keep Deutsche Bank and Capital One from giving lawmakers records related to their dealings with his businesses, Wells Fargo and TD Bank turned over Trump-related documents to the House Financial Services Committee, two people familiar with the matter told NBC News.

The committee has issued subpoenas to nine financial institutions, including Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto-Dominion Bank, and JP Morgan Chase. Wells Fargo handed over several thousand documents while TD Bank gave a "handful," a person who saw the records told NBC News.

After she issued the subpoenas last month, House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) said the "potential use of the U.S. financial system for illicit purposes is a very serious concern. The Financial Services Committee is exploring these matters, including as they may involve the president and his associates, as thoroughly as possible pursuant to its oversight authority, and will follow the facts wherever they may lead us."

On Wednesday, a federal judge ruled against Trump in his lawsuit to stop Deutsche Bank and Capital One from complying with subpoenas from the House Financial Services and Intelligence committees. Deutsche Bank was Trump's biggest lender, loaning the Trump Organization more than $2 billion over several years. Catherine Garcia

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