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December 11, 2018

The Trump administration will formally start the process of lifting federal Clean Water Act protections for millions of acres of wetlands and thousands of miles of streams across the U.S., undoing decades of protections against pesticide runoff, industrial waste, and other pollutants. The proposed rules, to be unveiled by the Environmental Protection Agency as soon as Tuesday, are a victory for agricultural and real estate interests but could degrade the drinking water used by tens of millions of Americans and endanger fisheries and the habitats of migratory birds and other species.

President Trump promised during his campaign to roll back the Obama-era Waters of the United States rules, an expansion of federal protections under the the Clean Water Act of 1972, but the new proposals target protections dating back to the George H.W. Bush administration or earlier. The Trump rules, which will be subject to 60 days of public comment, will keep protections for larger bodies of water but remove federal safeguards for wetlands not adjacent to navigable waterways plus most seasonal streams and ponds. The newly vulnerable streams provided drinking water for as many as 1 in 3 Americans, especially in the arid West, according to scientific studies used by the Obama-era EPA.

The Trump EPA calls that data incomplete and will argue that it is tackling an Obama-era federal power grab against rural farmers. Trump's promise to end the Waters of the United States policy was cheered by farmers, real estate developers, golf course owners, and mining and oil firm. Environmental groups call the new proposal a disaster. "It is hard to overstate the impact of this," Blan Holman, managing attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center, tells the Los Angeles Times. "This would be taking a sledgehammer to the Clean Water Act and rolling things back to a place we haven't been since it was passed. It is a huge threat to water quality across the country, and especially in the West." Peter Weber

8:08 a.m.

President Trump on Twitter Friday evening announced plans for a Saturday afternoon statement on his proposed border wall construction and the partial government shutdown:

Trump did not offer any further details on the nature of his announcement, nor did the White House press team respond to inquiries on the subject. "I'm not going to get ahead of the president, but I can assure he's going to continue fighting for border security. He's going to continue looking for the solution to end the humanitarian and national security crisis at the border," said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

CNN reported Friday night an unnamed senior administration official said the president plans to offer a deal to congressional Democrats and will not make at this point an emergency declaration so he can use military funding for wall construction. Bonnie Kristian

January 18, 2019

President Trump may not be the only one in legal jeopardy after BuzzFeed News' bombshell report.

In Friday's report, sources told BuzzFeed News that Trump directed his former lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about the Moscow Trump Tower project. But before that, the report says Trump's children "Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. received regular, detailed updates about the real estate development from Cohen" — something Donald Trump Jr. has denied to Congress.

Cohen — who was reportedly in charge of the Trump Tower project — once said discussions with Russia about the project stopped in January 2016. He took that back in a guilty plea last November, saying he lied to Congress and affirming that discussions actually continued beyond January. That statement contradicted Trump Jr.'s insistence that discussions ended earlier, though as Trump Jr. claimed to the Senate Intelligence Committee in September 2017, he knew "very little" about what was happening with the project anyway.

BuzzFeed News' Friday report explicitly contradicts that statement, meaning Trump Jr. would've lied to Congress just like Cohen has admitted to doing. It also provides a potential explanation for a smattering of contacts Trump Jr. has had with various Russians, as pointed out by Axios. And it all helps solidify an August 2018 report from The Washington Post, which says the president worried Trump Jr. "inadvertently may have wandered into legal ­jeopardy."

Read more about the BuzzFeed News report's consequences for Trump Jr. at Axios. Kathryn Krawczyk

January 18, 2019

Less than a year ago, all but three Senate Democrats were willing to give President Trump $25 billion for his border wall. But what looked like an inconsequential "no" vote at the time could drive a winning campaign in 2020, Bloomberg reports.

It seems almost unthinkable that in February 2018, 44 out of 47 Senate Democrats said they'd give Trump wall funding in exchange for citizenship for the undocumented Dreamers. The government is currently shut down over one-fifth of the money Democrats were once willing to relinquish, and party leaders are now uniformly opposed to funding more than $2.7 billion of it.

But Democrat weren't so united a year ago. Potential 2020 candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) co-sponsored the 2018 border compromise, and nearly every other senator rumored to be or officially running in 2020 backed it. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif), though, voted against the failed 2018 bill, saying she wouldn't use "taxpayer money ...to implement this administration's anti-immigrant agenda." Immigration activist Frank Sharry thinks Harris was thinking about 2020 when she made the choice. It would make for a perfect "30-second ad coming in the primary" to say all these other Democrats "voted for" a wall, Sharry told Bloomberg.

Even Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) former campaign press secretary, Symone Sanders, conceded to Harris' "winning message," telling Bloomberg she "was on the right side of history when it came to that vote." After all, in this ongoing shutdown squabble, Democrats don't want to be seen "giv[ing Trump] the money to make him stop hurting people," as MSNBC's Joy-Ann Reid puts it.

Harris isn't officially running yet, but has reportedly decided to announce her decision soon — perhaps around Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Read more about Harris' advantage at Bloomberg. Kathryn Krawczyk

January 18, 2019

The White House may not be worried about climate change, but the Pentagon sure is.

About two-thirds of the U.S. military's priority installations are vulnerable to current or future effects of climate change, a report from the Department of Defense found.

The report warned about rising sea levels flooding coastal bases and the dangers of drought-fueled wildfires spreading to bases inland, Bloomberg reports. Coastal bases on the East Coast and in Hawaii are in the most jeopardy, but drought vulnerabilities are widespread across the U.S., per the report.

The Pentagon's findings contradict President Trump's previous denial of climate change's devastating effects. Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis recognized the importance of evaluating climate change, saying during his confirmation hearings that "the Department of Defense must pay attention to potential adverse impacts generated by this phenomenon."

The report says the Pentagon now plans on incorporating climate resilience in all future decision-making processes regarding resources, rather than making climate a separate program. Marianne Dodson

January 18, 2019

Immigrant detainees have to use three days worth of wages to purchase tuna or a miniature deodorant at a California immigrant detention center, Reuters reports.

Daily wages may be as little as a few cents an hour at the Adelanto Detention Facility in California, and a can of commissary tuna costs $3.25 — more than four times the price at a nearby Target, per Reuters.

Immigration activists say facilities like Adelanto intentionally limit access to essentials like toothpaste and even food in an effort to force or coerce inmates into cheap labor. The paltry wages are then redirected back into commissaries where detainees buy ramen noodles and soap. A spokesman for the Geo Group, which owns the Adelanto facility and is the nation's largest for-profit prison operator, denied these allegations, saying the meals served are approved by dieticians, the labor program is strictly voluntary and wage rates are federally mandated, Reuters reports.

Concerns about commissary in U.S. immigration lockups aren't new — a 2017 report from the U.S. Office of the Inspector General documented problems at ICE lockups, finding spoiled, moldy and expired food at some, per Reuters.

Eleven U.S. senators sent letters last November to Geo Group and CoreCivic, the nation's second-largest for-profit prison operator, calling out the "perverse profit incentive at the core of the private prison business," Reuters reports. Marianne Dodson

January 18, 2019

The mystery of when Unsolved Mysteries would finally receive a reboot has just been solved.

Netflix will bring back the classic true-crime show with the original co-creators returning, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Also on board are Stranger Things producers Shawn Levy and Josh Barry. This new version will tackle one case per episode, and Netflix says it will "maintain the chilling feeling" that characterized the original run while "telling the stories through the lens of a premium Netflix documentary series." Also like the original, Netflix says the reboot will "look to viewers to help aid investigators in closing the book on long outstanding cases."

Unsolved Mysteries originally aired on NBC for nine seasons starting in 1987, with Robert Stack taking viewers through a series of strange cases that sometimes had a paranormal bent and sometimes leaned more toward standard true-crime. CBS picked it up for two more seasons starting in 1997; it later had a two-season run on Lifetime and a short-lived revival on Spike in 2008. After Stack died in 2003, the Spike reboot was hosted by Dennis Farina. Classic episodes are currently available for streaming on Amazon Prime and Hulu — but not on Netflix.

This, is course, is just the latest in a long series of examples of Netflix bringing back classic shows, and it will add to Netflix's ever-growing catalogue of true-crime series like Making a Murderer. The streaming service has ordered 12 new episodes of the show but has not yet announced a new host or given the reboot a release date. Brendan Morrow

January 18, 2019

President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will meet for a second summit in February, the White House said Friday. A location has yet to be announced, but sources tell The Washington Post it will probably be in Danang, Vietnam.

The White House likely arranged the visit while top North Korean negotiator Kim Yong Chol visited the White House Friday. The "former spymaster" is often said to be Kim's "right-hand man," per BBC, and was scheduled to visit in November before the plan was canceled amid North Korea's announced weapons test.

Trump and Kim Yong Chol talked about denuclearization, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said — a goal that has seen little public progress since Kim and Trump first met last June in Singapore and signed some form of denuclearization agreement. North Korea has since pushed for the U.S. to lift sanctions before it agrees to any denuclearization deal, Al Jazeera notes.

Kim Yong Chol also came to the U.S. just before Trump's last meetup with the North Korean leader, delivering a letter that seemingly got the on-again, off-again summit reinstated, BBC says. Trump sent a letter to Kim last week, seemingly indicating a second talk was close to being finalized, and Kim Yong Chol brought one back on Friday. Kathryn Krawczyk

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