The Past 24 Hours Or So

Your Daily Dose of Trump and His Administration News

  • It was just revealed that President Trump signed a secret memo at the end of January authorizing the Secretary of Defense to use an exception in the law to decertify all unions representing civilian Department of Defense employees without recourse for those employees or their unions. That memo is being published in the federal register. That means it’s no longer secret. It is suspected the Secretary of Defense will move to decertify DoD unions as early as tomorrow.
  • Longtime Republican campaign adviser Roger Stone, a friend of President Trump, was sentenced to three years, four months in federal prison Thursday for obstructing a congressional investigation of Russia’s 2016 presidential election meddling.
  • Intelligence officials briefed House lawmakers last week that Russian actors were interfering in the 2020 elections, once more to the benefit of Donald Trump. 
  • President Trump pushed aside his acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, in anger over what he perceived to be an inappropriate congressional briefing by the top intelligence official in charge of election security.
  • The U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency that handles secure White House communications has reportedly fallen victim to a massive data breach. Social Security numbers and other personal data in its network may have been compromised. 
  • During a campaign rally in Colorado Springs, President Trump criticized Oscar-winning film “Parasite” and took aim at award winner Brad Pitt. Trump asked, “How bad were the Academy Awards this year? And the winner is… a movie from South Korea! What the hell was that all that about? We’ve got enough problems with South Korea, with trade. On top of that, they give them the best movie of the year. Was it good? I don’t know. Let’s get Gone with the Wind back, please? Sunset Boulevard. So many great movies.”

Regarding Pitt, Trump said, “And then you have Brad Pitt, I was never a big fan of his. He got up, said a little wise guy thing. He’s a little wise guy.” In his acceptance speech, Pitt mentioned Trump’s impeachment trial. “They told me I only have 45 seconds up here, which is 45 seconds more than the Senate gave John Bolton this week.”

  • The White House said Thursday that deputy national security adviser Victoria Coates would be reassigned to a top advisory position at the Energy Department. The White House characterized the change as one that had been in the works “for several weeks” and sternly rejected rumors that Coates is the anonymous author who penned a New York Times op-ed and subsequent book critical of President Trump.
  • The Trump administration on Thursday announced sanctions against five Iranian officials it said are responsible for preventing “free and fair” elections. The sanctions are being announced a day before Iran’s parliamentary elections, which conservative hard-liners are expected to dominate.
  • Earthjustice, a non-profit public interest organization dedicated to litigating environmental issues, sued the Department of Defense (DOD) on Thursday, arguing the military has been improperly incinerating so-called forever chemicals. The class of chemicals, known as PFAS, is a central ingredient in the firefighting foam widely used by the military, but it’s caused alarm due to both its links to cancer and its persistence in the environment.
  • President Trump’s budget proposes closing a network of climate science centers, prompting concerns the administration will hamstring climate change research while booting employees from the federal workforce. Trump’s fiscal 2021 budget would slash funding for the National and Regional Climate Adaptation Science Centers, eliminating all $38 million for research to help wildlife and humans “adapt to a changing climate.”

Rather than fund all eight regional centers along with the national one, the budget instead calls for just one center, at a cost of $20 million.

  • New Jersey, four other states and New York City are suing the Trump administration again to try to force it to clamp down on upwind states that contribute significantly to poor air quality in the Garden State. The lawsuit, filed by Attorney General Gurbir Grewal on behalf of the states, said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has failed to address the issue even after an appeals court ruled last year that it must do so.
  • U.S. officials and the Taliban have reached an “understanding” that could result in a “reduction in violence” in Afghanistan, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Friday, paving the way for an agreement later this month that would bring to an end America’s longest war.

“After decades of conflict, we have come to an understanding with the Taliban on a significant reduction in violence across #Afghanistan,” Pompeo wrote on Twitter, describing the latest development as “an important step on a long road to peace,” and calling on Afghans “to seize this opportunity.”

  • Kash Patel, a former top National Security Council official who also played a key role as a Hill staffer in helping Republicans discredit the Russia probe, is now a senior adviser for new acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell.

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