October 8, 2020

Vice President Mike Pence will no longer be flying to Indianapolis on Friday to engage in early voting, and while his office won't say what's behind the cancelation, his spokesman is adamant that Pence is healthy.

"Nobody's sick," Press Secretary Devin O'Malley told the Indianapolis Star. "The VP is planning on traveling on Saturday and Monday. We'll have more information on the vice president's schedule next week soon." O'Malley also said Pence and his wife, Karen Pence, both tested negative for COVID-19 on Thursday.

Pence had planned on flying into Indianapolis on Friday, then voting in person at the Indianapolis City-County Building before returning to Washington, D.C., in the evening. While his office won't say why the trip was canceled, it did promise that the visit would be rescheduled. Pence spent Thursday on the road, attending rallies in Nevada and Arizona. Catherine Garcia

March 19, 2020

In an email Wednesday, the Labor Department told state officials they needed to hold off on releasing the exact number of unemployment claims they are receiving amid the accelerating COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, The New York Times reports.

The Times obtained a copy of the email, which says that until the Labor Department releases the total number of national claims next Thursday, state officials should only "provide information using generalities to describe claims levels (very high, large increase)" and "not provide numeric values to the public."

The message was written by Gay Gilbert, administrator of the Labor Department's Office of Employment Insurance. She has worked under Republican and Democratic administrations, and there is no indication political appointees asked her to send the request, the Times says. Still, many states were disturbed by the email, and one governor's office said it had asked the state attorney general whether it had to temporarily withhold the numbers.

In Washington, where at least 74 people have died from COVID-19, a state official would tell the Times only that they are seeing an "even more dramatic increase this week" after unemployment claims rose 150 percent last week from the week prior. The federal government on Thursday morning reported that 281,000 people applied for unemployment insurance last week, an increase from 211,000 the previous week. Catherine Garcia

March 3, 2020

The White House announced Monday it has withdrawn the nomination of Elaine McCusker as Pentagon comptroller.

A career civil servant, McCusker has been serving as acting comptroller since July, and was nominated to take over the position permanently in November. The White House did not give a reason for the nomination's withdrawal. 

McCusker's name came up during President Trump's impeachment inquiry and trial. Trump was accused of withholding nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine in order to get the country to announce it was launching an investigation into Trump's political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son Hunter.

The Ukraine aid had been approved by Congress and signed by Trump, and emails showed McCusker let White House budget officials know she had concerns over whether the delay was legal, The Washington Post reports. Since Trump was acquitted by the Republican-led Senate in January, he has ousted several officials who testified during the impeachment inquiry, including Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a White House national security official, and former U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland.

In a statement, Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said McCusker is "paying the price for trying to ensure that the administration followed the law" and is "another casualty of the Trump administration's efforts to purge public servants who put country before fealty to the president." Catherine Garcia

December 18, 2019

President Trump is trying to drown out impeachment talk with Christmas cheer.

This year, the Trump family isn't just handing out Christmas cards to all the members of Congress, regardless of their party. It's handing out a smaller card packed inside a bigger card... along with the president's six-page letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in which he bitterly attacks impeachment.

What's perhaps most mysterious about this move is the signatures included on the card(s) from Trump, first lady Melania Trump, and their son Barron Trump. Melania's signature is sharp and zigzaggy — just like Trump's right next to it. But lay your conspiracy theories aside. That, according to many sources and Google image results, is literally just what her signature looks like. Kathryn Krawczyk

October 23, 2019

A lawyer for Lev Parnas, one of two associates of Rudy Giuliani accused of illegally funneling money into U.S. elections, told a federal judge on Wednesday some of the evidence collected in his client's case could be subject to executive privilege.

Parnas and Igor Fruman have pleaded not guilty to the charges. Prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York said that over the course of executing more than a dozen search warrants, investigators gathered evidence from electronic devices, social media accounts, and email. Parnas' attorney, Edward MacMahon Jr., said that the White House could invoke executive privilege, since Giuliani is President Trump's personal lawyer and also at one point represented Parnas.

"There are issues we need to be very sensitive to," MacMahon told Judge J. Paul Oetken. "I'm not telling you I know how to resolve this." He asked that a special team of prosecutors review the evidence, and the government told the court a "filter team" is already doing this, and will notify the defense if anything is under executive privilege, which can only be invoked by the president.

Parnas and Fruman helped Giuliani on his quest to find damaging information in Ukraine on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. People familiar with the matter say Giuliani's lobbying efforts in Ukraine are now being investigated by federal prosecutors. Catherine Garcia

September 30, 2019

A senior State Department official told The Wall Street Journal on Monday that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo listened in on President Trump's July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, but during an interview last week, he made it sound like he was in the dark about the entire situation.

While appearing on ABC News' This Week, Pompeo was asked by Martha Raddatz about the whistleblower complaint submitted in response to the phone call, which involved Trump discussing Ukraine opening an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden. "What do you know about these conversations?" Raddatz asked.

"So, you just gave me a report about a I.C. whistleblower complaint, none of which I've seen," Pompeo responded, before quickly pivoting to talk about what the Trump administration has done for Ukraine. Raddatz prefaced her next question by saying, "You say you know nothing about this," and then asked Pompeo about Trump's assertion that it was "perfectly fine" to ask a foreign leader to investigate a political opponent. "I think I saw a statement from the Ukrainian foreign minister yesterday, said there was no pressure applied in the course of the conversation," Pompeo said.

Pompeo went on to say it "wouldn't be appropriate" to release a transcript of the call, but just a few days later, the White House made public a summary of the conversation. Catherine Garcia

June 3, 2019

President Trump isn't staying at Buckingham Palace during his U.K. visit, and Fox & Friends' Steve Doocy doesn't sound particularly confident in the official explanation.

Trump won't be staying at Buckingham Palace like former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush did because of renovations that are currently underway, as had been previously announced. Trump will instead stay at the U.S. ambassador's Winfield House, The Washington Post reports.

But during a Monday Fox & Friends segment discussing Trump's visit, Doocy seemed to let a bit of skepticism of this report slip through, sounding quite incredulous as he explained that "they say" Trump can't stay at Buckingham Palace due to renovations.

Trump arrived in the United Kingdom on Monday after describing Meghan Markle as "nasty" in an interview and shortly after insulting the mayor of London as a "stone cold loser." The hosts of Fox & Friends seemed pretty upset about the backlash to Trump's visit, with host Brian Kilmeade reporting earlier in the morning, "the city is expecting massive crowds of — get this — protests. And these are our allies!" Brendan Morrow

See More Speed Reads