Breaking news
October 17, 2019

Not long after acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney publicly admitted President Trump's decision to hold up aid to Ukraine was partly linked to his wish for Ukraine to launch an investigation based on a baseless conspiracy theory about the 2016 Democratic National Committee hack, Mulvaney walked back his comments.

The theory pins the hack on Ukraine, not Russia. Mulvaney made his initial remarks on Thursday in front of reporters, during a televised press conference. It was a surprising acknowledgement, as Trump has repeatedly denied engaging in any quid pro quo. Mulvaney said this was something "we do all the time," and anyone with a problem should "get over it." Almost immediately, Trump's legal team distanced the president from Mulvaney, with Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow saying the president's "legal counsel was not involved" in the press conference.

In his follow-up statement, Mulvaney said "there was never any condition on the flow of aid related to the matter of the DNC server," and tried to shift the blame for his words onto the media, claiming they were misconstrued to "advance a biased and political witch hunt against President Trump." Catherine Garcia

September 23, 2019

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has been discussing with Democratic lawmakers whether now is the time to start impeachment proceedings against President Trump, several congressional aides and House Democrats told The Washington Post on Monday.

Pelosi has for months said that impeachment is too divisive an issue and there needs to be more public support for it, but since reports came out that Trump pressured the Ukrainian president to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden's son, Pelosi has been sounding out her caucus.

The conversation between Trump and Ukraine's leader reportedly prompted an intelligence official to file a whistleblower complaint in August, and under the law, acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire was supposed to pass the complaint along to Congress. He so far has refused, and Pelosi has been fielding calls from Democratic lawmakers who want to know how he can be forced to turn it over, the Post report. Pelosi has given Maguire until Thursday to give lawmakers the complaint.

As of Monday night, 145 House Democrats support impeachment, including several moderates who made their stance known earlier in the day. Seven freshmen Democrats with military and intelligence backgrounds also published an op-ed in the Post Monday night, saying in order to uphold and defend the Constitution, "Congress must determine whether the president was indeed willing to use his power and withhold security assistance funds to persuade a foreign country to assist him in an upcoming election." If he did, they added, "we believe these actions represent an impeachable offense." Catherine Garcia

September 23, 2019

At least a week before his July 25 phone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, President Trump told acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney to hold back nearly $400 million in military aid for Ukraine, three senior administration officials told The Washington Post on Monday.

Trump reportedly used the phone call to pressure Zelensky into investigating Hunter Biden, the son of 2020 presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden. Trump admitted to making the phone call and discussing Hunter Biden, but claimed there was nothing inappropriate about the conversation.

Trump's order was passed along to the State Department and Pentagon during a meeting in mid-July, the Post reports, with White House officials telling them it was due to "concerns" Trump had about whether the money really needed to be spent. Administration officials were then told to tell lawmakers this was part of the normal "interagency process," the Post reports. The money was released by the White House almost two months later on Sept. 11, and the next day, Republicans on the Senate Appropriation Committee said the administration had been trying to determine whether Zelensky was pro-Russia. One senior White House official told the Post that Trump decided to hold back the money in June because there is "a lot of corruption in Ukraine" and it "had nothing to do with quid pro quo."

A whistleblower complaint was filed in August by a member of the intelligence community, who was said to have been concerned over Trump's communication with a foreign leader. The Post's report adds fuel to the fire that Trump tried to leverage the aid, which had been approved by Congress, in order to hurt his political rival. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Ct.) on Monday said he met with Zelensky earlier this month while in Ukraine, and he "directly" shared his concerns that the aid was "being cut off to Ukraine by the president" as a "consequence" of his failure to open an investigation into the Bidens. Read the entire report at The Washington Post. Catherine Garcia

September 19, 2019

The whistleblower complaint filed Aug. 12 by a U.S. intelligence official involves Ukraine, two people with knowledge of the matter told The Washington Post on Thursday.

On Wednesday, the Post reported that the complaint centers around Trump's communications with a foreign leader, and a "promise" he made. The intelligence official was so troubled by this that they notified Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson, who marked the complaint as being of "urgent concern" and passed it along to acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire.

By law, Maguire was supposed to pass this complaint on to Congress, but he said he talked to Justice Department officials, who claimed it did not meet the definition of an urgent concern and was not under the DNI's jurisdiction. Maguire's refusal to notify lawmakers about the complaint has sparked a battle between Democratic lawmakers and the acting DNI. House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said Thursday that someone is "trying to manipulate the system to keep information about an urgent matter from the Congress. ... There certainly are a lot of indications that it was someone at a higher pay grade than the director of national intelligence."

Trump had a phone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky two-and-a-half weeks before the complaint was filed. Zelensky is an actor and comedian who was elected in May, and House Democrats are already investigating that call as part of a probe into whether Trump and his attorney Rudy Giuliani tried to manipulate the Ukrainian government into assisting with Trump's re-election campaign. Catherine Garcia

September 18, 2019

A whistleblower complaint filed on Aug. 12 by an official in the U.S. intelligence community involves President Trump's communications with a foreign leader, two former U.S. officials familiar with the matter told The Washington Post on Wednesday.

During the interaction, Trump made a "promise" to the foreign leader that the whistleblower found so troubling they decided to file the complaint to Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson, the Post reports. In turn, Atkinson found the complaint worrisome enough that he marked the matter of "urgent concern" and submitted it to acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire. Maguire replaced former DNI Dan Coats, who resigned in August.

By law, Maguire was supposed to send the complaint on to Congress, but after asking Justice Department officials for legal guidance, he refused, the Post reports. The House and Senate intelligence committees only learned of the complaint after Atkinson, not Maguire, notified them earlier this month, though he did not say what was in the complaint. House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) is trying to get intelligence officials to share the details with lawmakers, and Atkinson is scheduled to appear before Schiff's committee for a private session on Thursday.

One former official told the Post the communication in question was a phone call. It's not immediately clear which foreign leader Trump was speaking to or what he promised them. In the five weeks before the complaint was filed, White House records show that Trump spoke and interacted with at least five foreign leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Catherine Garcia

September 18, 2019

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized on Wednesday night for a 2001 photo showing him at an Arabian Nights–themed gala wearing brownface makeup.

At the time, Trudeau was 29 and working as a teacher at West Point Gray Academy in Vancouver. The picture, published on Wednesday by Time, appeared in the private school's 2000-2001 yearbook. Trudeau is seen wearing a turban and robe, with his face, neck, and hands darkened. A Vancouver businessman gave the yearbook to Time, saying that after he saw the photo in July, he thought it needed to be made public.

Trudeau confirmed he attended the gala, dressing up as Aladdin and donning makeup. "I shouldn't have done that," he said. "I should have known better, but I didn't, and I'm really sorry." Trudeau is running for a second term, and the election is scheduled for Oct. 21. He is already facing one scandal, as the former attorney general says Trudeau's administration pressured her into settling corruption charges against a major engineering firm. Catherine Garcia

September 11, 2019

The Supreme Court on Wednesday said the Trump administration can enforce new restrictions against asylum seekers who arrive at the southern border, lifting a lower court's block on the policy.

In July, the administration said it would consider asylum requests only from migrants who sought and were denied protection in the first country they traveled through, which in many cases would be Mexico. The restriction primarily affects Central Americans. Immediately after the new policy was announced, four immigrant-rights groups filed lawsuits, and earlier this week, a federal judge reinstated a nationwide injunction prohibiting the Trump administration from denying asylum to migrants. Those lawsuits are ongoing.

Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg did not agree with the Supreme Court's action, The Washington Post reports, with Sotomayor writing that the executive branch once again "issued a rule that seeks to upend longstanding practices regarding refugees who seek shelter from persecution. Although this nation has long kept its doors open to refugees — and although the stakes for asylum seekers could not be higher — the government implemented its rule without first providing the public notice and inviting the public input generally required by law." Catherine Garcia

August 21, 2019

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) announced on Wednesday night he is quitting the 2020 presidential race.

Inslee broke the news on The Rachel Maddow Show, and said he is happy that his campaign raised the profile of climate change. "I've been fighting climate change for 25 years and I've never been so confident of the ability of Americans now to reach critical mass to move the ball," he said. "I believe we are going to have a candidate to fight this battle, and I'm inspired by the people I've met across the country."

Inslee said he will support the eventual Democratic nominee, and hopes to help all of the candidates raise their ambition levels when it comes to climate change. He also told Maddow he will make a statement on Thursday regarding whether he will run for governor again. Catherine Garcia

See More Speed Reads