In The Past 24 Hours Or So

Your Daily Dose of Trump and His Administration News

  • A U.S. Justice Department anti-human trafficking grant program is facing internal complaints, after two nonprofits were denied funding in favor of two less established groups whose applications were not recommended by career DOJ officials. The awarding of more than $1 million total to the two groups, Hookers for Jesus in Nevada and the Lincoln Tubman Foundation in South Carolina, has triggered a whistleblower complaint filed by the Justice Department’s employee union to the department’s Inspector General.
  • In a highly unusual step, top Justice Department officials are intervening to seek a shorter sentence for President Trump’s former adviser and longtime friend Roger Stone, after the president called prosecutors’ recommendation unfair.
  • A senior Justice Department official said Tuesday afternoon that department leaders were taken by surprise by the recommendation in the prosecution filing. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the decision to revise the submission was unrelated to Trump’s tweet and took place Monday evening, prior to Trump sending the message.
  • Aaron Zelinsky, the Justice Department prosecutor who asked a judge to sentence Roger Stone to between seven to nine years in prison, has withdrawn from the former Trump aide’s case after reports that officials would seek to reduce the sentencing recommendation. It’s unclear if Zelinsky’s move was done on his own volition.
  • The Justice Department lowered Roger Stone’s sentencing recommendation to three to four years.
  • All four career prosecutors handling the case against Roger Stone, a confidant of President Trump, asked to withdraw from the legal proceedings Tuesday — and one quit his job entirely — after the Justice Department reduced their sentencing recommendation for the president’s friend. Jonathan Kravis, one of the prosecutors, wrote in a court filing he had resigned as an assistant U.S. attorney, leaving government altogether. Three others — Aaron Zelinsky, Adam Jed and Michael Marando — asked a judge’s permission to leave the case.
  • Trump has rescinded the nomination of Jessie Liu to serve as an undersecretary at the Treasury Department. Liu had been the U.S. attorney for Washington, D.C., for a job Liu supervised the case against Trump associate Roger Stone.
  • Senior officials at the Justice Department also intervened last month to help change the government’s sentencing recommendation for Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. While the prosecutors had once recommended up to six months in jail, their latest filing now says they believe probation would be appropriate.
  • The Justice Department is in the late stages of deciding whether to charge businessman and Trump ally Erik Prince in an investigation into whether he lied to Congress in its Russia probe and violated U.S. export laws in his business dealings overseas. 
  • Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union are suing the Trump administration over a new rule requiring insurers to send a separate bill for abortion coverage. The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, claims the rule is designed to make insurance companies stop offering coverage for abortion. Under the rule, insurance companies that sell plans on the Affordable Care Act individual marketplaces will be required to send two separate bills to customers — one for the coverage of abortion care, and another for coverage of other health care.
  • President Trump on Monday doubled down on his assertion that the injuries suffered by US troops during an Iranian missile attack on US forces are “not very serious.” Iran fired over a dozen ballistic missiles at US and coalition forces in Iraq in early January. In the immediate aftermath, the president announced that “no Americans were harmed.” Since then, the number of US troops diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries has steadily risen to 109, the Pentagon said.
  • The White House is expected to pull the nomination of Elaine McCusker to be the Pentagon’s comptroller and chief financial officer in the latest staffing fallout from President Trump’s impeachment. McCusker resisted the president’s directive to stall $250 million in military aid to Ukraine and her emails protesting the delay were leaked in January to the blog Just Security ahead of Trump’s Senate trial. “This administration needs people who are committed to implementing the president’s agenda, specifically on foreign policy, and not trying to thwart it,” a White House official stated.
  • Delays are almost certain if the Trump administration succeeds in cutting $700 million next year from the cleanup of a Washington state site where plutonium for the atomic bomb was produced during World War II. Trump called for cutting the annual Hanford cleanup budget from about $2.5 billion to about $1.8 billion.

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