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January 21, 2019

Democrats have rejected President Trump's offer to trade temporary protections for DREAMers and longtime legal immigrants who escaped war and natural disasters in exchange for $5.7 billion to start his proposed border wall. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says he will bring Trump's proposal up for a vote this week anyway. No details have been announced. "When we have (a plan) we will be sure to let everyone know," McConnell spokesman David Popp said Sunday.

"If [Trump] opens the government, we'll discuss whatever he offers, but hostage taking should not work," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Sunday, stating the unified Democratic position. Democrats also say they are unwilling to trade a permanent wall for a temporary fix to a problem Trump himself created. The bill has also been derided as "amnesty" by some on the right, and without Democrats, it has almost no chance to pass in the Senate and it would be dead on arrival in the House.

This week, House Democrats are expected to pass their latest bill to reopen parts of the government closed in the 31-day-long partial shutdown. McConnell has not allowed votes on any of those measures, having "said for weeks that he has no interest in 'show votes' aimed only at forcing members to take sides after Trump rejected the Senate's earlier bipartisan bill to avert the shutdown," The Associated Press notes.

Most Senate Republicans are publicly united in opposing any bill Trump won't say he'll sign, but privately, "White House officials and GOP leaders would accept virtually any offer from Democrats to end the impasse, hoping they sell it to Trump as a 'victory' and move forward," The Washington Post reports, citing one Republican with close ties to both the administration and congressional leaders. "There is extreme consternation about how poorly the shutdown was playing out and how polling shows many Americans heaping blame on Trump." Peter Weber

April 20, 2019

It's fair to say that the Mueller report did not knock down any partisan barriers. Reactions were typically divided. Democrats vowed to continue pursuing the report's findings, with some prominent members of the party, like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), calling for impeachment proceedings to begin. Republicans, though, mostly remained silent.

Even some members of the GOP who tend to risk criticizing the president more openly remained measured in their responses. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), for example, said that Mueller's findings on 2016 Russian election interference and the Trump campaign's conduct surrounding the meddling painted an "unflattering" image of Trump. But she also said the investigation was a "very thorough undertaking" that seems to have "changed very few minds in Washington," perhaps implying that the results speak for themselves.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said that while the level of Russian interference revealed in the report was alarming, Americans should be "relieved" their president did not collaborate with Moscow.

However, not everyone on the right side of the aisle is at ease with the findings of the report. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), who has had his battles with Trump in the past, said in a statement that he is "sickened" by the findings, although he said the "business of government" can now "move on."

Fox News' judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano, meanwhile, suggested on Friday that there may be enough evidence in the Mueller report to prosecute the president. He added that, regardless, the report does show a "venal, amoral, deceptive Donald Trump." Tim O'Donnell

April 20, 2019

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has reportedly left Attorney General William Barr and other members of the Justice Department perplexed, The Washington Post reports.

Their confusion stems from Mueller's decision to not reach a conclusion on whether President Trump obstructed justice during Mueller's probe into 2016 Russian election interference and the Trump campaign's conduct surrounding the meddling. In public, Barr — who reportedly considers Mueller a friend — said it was Mueller's "prerogative" to make the call, or lack thereof, on obstruction.

But privately, Barr and Assistant Attorney General Rod Rosenstein disagreed with Mueller's legal theories. In the report, Mueller's team pointed to a long-standing legal opinion at the Justice Department's Office of Legal Council, which says that a sitting president should not be indicted. Mueller reportedly concluded that meant they could not accuse the president of a crime and, at times, the report implies that Congress should assume the role of making prosecutorial decisions.

This reportedly surprised Barr who did think Mueller had the authority to make such a decision (Barr eventually came to the conclusion that the evidence did not constitute obstruction.) Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, told the Post that it was, indeed, a surprise that Mueller leaned so heavily on the OLC opinion.

"It doesn't make any sense, because on collusion, he seemed to be perfectly empowered to reach a conclusion on whether the president committed a crime," Turley said. "The other problem is that his mandate clearly allowed him to make a decision." Read more at The Washington Post. Tim O'Donnell

April 20, 2019

President Trump normally seems to relish the idea that he and the media are foils. He's gone so far as to call some outlets the "enemy of the people," but he still stops and talks with them as often as he can. But, apparently, first lady Melania Trump can convince him not to.

On Thursday, as the president crossed the White House's South Lawn shortly after the public release of the redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on 2016 Russian election interference and the Trump campaign's conduct surrounding the meddling, he walked right past a "mob of reporters." Instead of stopping to take a few questions like he usually does, Bloomberg reports, Trump just waved silently before boarding the presidential helicopter and heading down to Florida for the weekend.

Trump, per Bloomberg, sought to show defiance after Mueller's findings became public — although the White House has largely claimed the report vindicates Trump, he is reportedly still frustrated with the news coverage on the matter. Ignoring the reporters on the lawn fed right into that plan of defiance. However, people briefed on the matter told Bloomberg that it was the first lady, not the president, who suggested spurning the press. Trump appeared to continue following the first lady's advice as he ignored reporters' questions upon arriving in Florida on Thursday evening, as well. Read more about the aftermath of the Mueller report at Bloomberg. Tim O'Donnell

April 20, 2019

The United States on Friday made the first arrest related to the mysterious raid of North Korea's embassy in Spain in February, sources familiar with the situation told The Washington Post.

During the raid, which took place in the middle of the day, masked intruders reportedly tied up staff and stole computers before fleeing to the U.S. On Thursday, U.S. authorities arrested Christopher Ahn, a former U.S. Marine, in connection with the break-in. Ahn is a member of Free Joseon, a group dedicated to the overthrow of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his familial dynasty. Free Joseon reportedly claimed responsibility for the embassy raid in March. Free Joseon was trying to assist the U.S. government by turning over the stolen items, which the group claimed potentially had "enormous" intelligence value, per the Post.

The State Department said that the United States had nothing to do with the incident, despite initial reports out of Spain that the CIA was involved.

Ahn's case will remain sealed after a judge ruled in favor of his attorney's request. Read more at The Washington Post. Tim O'Donnell

April 20, 2019

A man was arrested on Friday after accusations that he made threatening phone calls to Democratic officials.

John Kless, 49, of the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, area, reportedly left vulgar messages rife with racist and anti-Islamic rhetoric on Tuesday. Kless ranted about gun rights, 9/11, and illegal immigrants, per The Washington Post. He also threatened the lawmakers with violence.

Among the recipients of the threats were Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.). In all three messages, Kless mentioned "hatred" for Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), though he reportedly did not call the congresswoman herself. Kless' threats were made following several other alleged death threats specifically targeting Omar. She said they have increased ever since President Trump posted a video consisting of graphic footage of 9/11 edited together with clips of Omar making comments for which she has been criticized for downplaying the tragedy of the attacks.

Kless appeared in court on Friday and was released. Arraignment is set for May 3 in Fort Lauderdale. Tim O'Donnell

April 20, 2019

The White House revealed on Friday that President Trump spoke with Libya's Gen. Khalifa Haftar via a phone call on Monday.

Trump reportedly praised Haftar, who is leading a rebel assault on the country's capital Tripoli, as he and his Libyan National Army try to wrest control from the incumbent United Nations-backed government. The two discussed Haftar's "significant role" in fighting terrorism and securing Libya's oil resources, as well as their "shared vision" for Libya's future.

Trump's praise of Haftar is seen as a reversal of United States policy in Libya — Secretary of State Michael Pompeo demanded a halt to Haftar's assault earlier this month.

The news of the phone call reportedly led to thousands of Libyans taking to the streets in protest. "The call has no meaning, but we will respond to it," a protester told Reuters.

It is unclear why the White House waited several days to announce the phone call. Tim O'Donnell

April 20, 2019

Police arrested two men in connection with the murder of journalist Lyra McKee in Derry, Northern Ireland, on Saturday.

McKee, 29, was shot and killed in Derry on Thursday as she watched Irish nationalist youths clash with police during a riot. Police reportedly said McKee was not the gunman's intended target, but was hit by a bullet fired in the direction of the police officers.

Police described the shooting as a "terrorist incident." The Irish News reports that the police believe the suspects in the murder are linked to the dissident republican group the New Irish Republican Army, an offshoot of the Irish Republican Army which remains opposed to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement and the fragile ceasefire in Northern Ireland. McKee's murder follows the explosion of a large car bomb in Derry in January, which was also blamed on the New IRA.

There are fears that militant groups are trying to exploit political tensions caused by the United Kingdom's decision to leave the European Union, Reuters reports.

Northern Ireland's political leaders — nationalists and unionists alike — urged for calm following the violence.

A vigil was held for McKee in Derry. Tim O'Donnell

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