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November 27, 2018

After President Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort agreed to cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller in September, his attorney continued to brief Trump's lawyers on Manafort's discussions with investigators, Rudy Giuliani and two other people familiar with the matter told The New York Times on Tuesday.

Giuliani, Trump's personal lawyer, told the Times that the information passed along gave Trump's legal team insight into where the Mueller probe was headed; one tidbit Manafort's lawyer Kevin Downing told Giuliani is that prosecutors asked Manafort repeatedly about whether Trump knew about the meeting Donald Trump Jr. had at Trump Tower in June 2016 with Russians promising dirt on Hillary Clinton.

On Monday, prosecutors said in a court filing that Manafort had breached his plea agreement and lied multiple times to investigators and FBI agents. Experts told the Times they believe Manafort was likely trying to secure a presidential pardon while at the same time get a lighter sentence. Speaking to the Trump legal team did not violate any laws, but it did fracture the relationship between Mueller's team and Manafort's attorneys, the Times reports. Catherine Garcia

3:37 a.m.

President Trump has decided to hire former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II in a new role coordinating immigration policy out of the Department of Homeland Security, The New York Times and The Washington Post reported Tuesday night. Cuccinelli is an immigration hardliner, but it isn't clear what his role will be at DHS. He will report to acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan, but he will also regularly brief Trump at the White House, the Post reports, and his duties will overlap with McAleenan's responsibilities.

Before her ouster, former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen had pushed Trump to create an immigration czar position at the White House to coordinate the many federal agencies that handle immigration. "Putting an immigration czar at DHS is a total waste," a former DHS official told the Post. Others predicted conflict with McAleenan, who unlike Cuccinnelli, is broadly respected by Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill. McAleenan was reportedly at the Oval Office meeting on Monday where Trump offered Cuccinelli the job.

Cuccinelli was tapped after former acting Immigrations and Customs Enforcement chief Tom Homan turned Trump down, the Post reports. He beat out former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, whom Trump soured on in part because of a list of 10 demands Kobach reportedly handed the White House. "Cuccinelli, who has been hawkish on immigration policy during television appearances that also praise Trump, appears to fulfill the president's desire to have a forceful personality and a loyalist at the highest levels of DHS," the Post says.

But his chance of advancement is limited, the Post adds. "Cuccinelli is deeply disliked by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has vowed to block Cuccinelli from any Senate-confirmed post for leading efforts in 2014 backing insurgent candidates that hurt the Senate GOP majority," and he's "even less popular with Democrats." Peter Weber

2:48 a.m.

At a rally in Pennsylvania on Monday night, President Trump went after former Vice President Joe Biden, who — according to public and apparently internal Trump campaign polling — is beating Trump in the Keystone State. "He's not from Pennsylvania," Trump said of Biden, who lived in Scranton until age 10. "I guess he was born here, but he left you folks. He left you for another state. Remember that, please."

Stephen Colbert's Late Show turned that into a mock Trump attack ad.

But Biden appeared to take the slight more seriously. "I’ve never forgotten where I came from," he wrote on Twitter. "My family did have to leave Pennsylvania when I was 10 — we moved to Delaware where my Dad found a job that could provide for our family."

Biden continued the pushback at a Florida fundraiser Tuesday night, deftly slipping in a coal reference

In a Quinnipiac poll released last week, Biden is beating Trump by 11 points in Pennsylvania, but to be fair, Trump is also losing to a handful of other Democrats, too. Peter Weber

1:29 a.m.

The latest blow in the oversight fight between President Trump and Congress was former White House Counsel Don McGahn ignoring a subpoena from the House Judiciary Committee, Stephen Colbert explained on Tuesday's Late Show. "They wanted to ask McGahn about the section of the Mueller report where McGahn says Trump tried to obstruct justice — and it's a large section — but last night the White House blocked McGahn from testifying to Congress. So, they don't get to ask about obstruction, because the alleged obstructer obstructed the witness to his obstructing."

House Democrats, who scolded McGahn's empty chair on Tuesday, are not happy. "But there's some good news on the obstruction front," Colbert said. On Monday, a federal judge upheld a different House subpoena for Trump's financial records from his accounting firm. "That's huge — we are finally getting his financial records, and I have a strong feeling that we're going to find out that the whole time, Eric was just a shell corporation," he joked. Trump criticized the ruling and the judge, and Colbert recapped in Trump voice: "You can't trust an Obama-appointed judge. Take it from me, a Putin-appointed president."

"Trump promised to appeal this decision — and now comes the fun part," Colbert said. "Because the case is going to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is headed by .... drumroll please ... Judge Merrick Garland." In case you forgot, he said, "Merrick Garland is the judge Obama nominated to the Supreme Court in 2016, only to have his appointment shot down by Mitch McConnell. Now that guy's court gets to rule on Trump's financial records." Ha, "payback's a Mitch," Colbert said, adding, quietly and probably correctly, "I'm sure he'll be evenhanded."

"Thankfully, one member of the Trump administration actually did show up in Congress today," Colbert said, and what we learned from HUD Secretary Ben Carson "is that in two years, he has learned nothing about this own agency." Peter Weber

1:03 a.m.

Kami Rita Sherpa makes climbing Mount Everest look easy.

The 49-year-old reached the top of the world's tallest mountain for a record 24th time on Tuesday, less than a week after he last successfully conquered the peak on May 15. Kami Rita climbed Mount Everest for the first time in 1994, and told BBC News he "actually never knew that you could make a record. Had I known, I would have made a lot more summits earlier."

Sherpas not only guide people up the mountain, but also prepare everything, from setting the route to creating ladder-bridges to fixing ropes to delivering oxygen and supplies. "In every mountain, there is a goddess," Kami Rita told BBC News. "It's our responsibility to keep the goddess happy. Months before I start an ascent I start worshiping and ask for forgiveness because I will have to put my feet on her body." He doesn't plan on stopping anytime soon, saying he wants to "keep going until I am 60 years old. With oxygen, it's no big deal." Catherine Garcia

12:13 a.m.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has a plan. Well, lots of plans — for breaking up big tech companies, erasing student loan debt, fighting presidential corruption, fixing military housing, making the military carbon-neutral, jailing lawbreaking corporate executives, and just about every other topic you might or might not think about. Over the weekend, comedian and Full Frontal writer Ashley Nicole Black wondered if Warren might have a plan to fix her love life. And, well...

Warren wasn't making any promises she couldn't keep, apparently.

It's not clear what kind of shape Black's love life was in, but if Warren can set it in order while doing her day job of being a U.S. senator and also running for president on the side, fixing military housing should be a snap. Peter Weber

May 21, 2019

After serving 17 years of a 20-year sentence, John Walker Lindh, the American captured in Afghanistan in 2001 and convicted of providing support to the Taliban, is set to be released from an Indiana federal prison on Thursday.

Lindh was 20 when he was arrested. After converting from Catholicism to Islam at 16, he left the U.S. to study Arabic in Yemen at 17. He made his way to Pakistan and Afghanistan, where he was a Taliban volunteer at an al-Qaeda training camp. Because he is an American citizen, Lindh was tried in federal court, and at his sentencing decried acts of terrorism and said he was wrong to join the Taliban.

Two leaked documents show that the government questions whether Lindh has shed his extremist views, The New York Times reports. A May 2016 memo said Lindh "continued to advocate for global jihad and to write and translate violent extremist texts," and a 2017 Federal Bureau of Prisons intelligence assessment states he made positive comments about the Islamic State.

Under his terms of release, Lindh will not be allowed to go online or own a device that can access the internet without permission from his probation officer, the Times reports. He also can't travel internationally or communicate with "any known extremist," and must go through mental health counseling.

Seamus Hughes, deputy director of George Washington University's program on extremism, told the Times the government doesn't have a system in place to deal with people like Lindh, and the best move would be to "team him up with a mentor, somebody who perhaps had the same experiences as he may have had and came out on the other side better off because of it." Catherine Garcia

May 21, 2019

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has constructed just 1.7 miles of fencing along the southern border with the $1.57 billion Congress appropriated last year for the project, a lawyer for the House of Representatives told a federal judge on Tuesday.

In a court filing, House General Counsel Douglas Letter told Judge Haywood Gilliam that this information is current as of April 30, Bloomberg reports. Letter also said this was three-quarters of a mile more than had been reported to Congress in February.

Gilliam is the judge in a lawsuit brought by 20 Democratic state attorneys general and the Sierra Club; they are trying to block Trump from using unauthorized money from the Treasury and Defense departments to fund his border wall. Gilliam requested the information during a hearing on May 17. Catherine Garcia

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