Trump encourages McGahn not to testify to Congress

President Trump and his legal team are running a blitz on former White House counsel Don McGahn trying to prevent him from testifying to Congress. The administration’s argument is that the president’s immediate advisers are immune from compelled congressional testimony on matters related to their official responsiiblities within the White House.

Scandal shocks Austria, leads to resignation of vice chancellor

Video recordings of Austria’s Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache were released showing him asking a woman posing as a daughter of a Russian oligarch for political help. The scandal has shocked Austria and led to Strache’s resignation. The leader of the far-right party Freedom Party, Strache, promised the woman posing as the daughter of the Russian oligarch contracts in exchange for media coverage and funding.

Ukraine prosecutor: Bidens are innocent

Ukraine’s prosecutor general said in an interview that he had no evidence of wrongdoing by Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden or his son Hunter, despite accusations by Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani. “I do not want Ukraine to again be the subject of U.S. presidential elections,” Yuriy Lutsenko said. “Hunter Biden did not violate any Ukrainian laws — at least as of now, we do not see any wrongdoing.”

Trump pardons billionaire friend

President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed a full pardon for former media mogul Conrad Black, who was convicted in 2007 of fraud and obstruction of justice and spent 3-1/2 years in prison. Black, who has called Trump a friend, published a book last year praising him, titled “Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other.”

The NRA civil war

Former congressman and National Rifle Association (NRA) board member Allen West called on the powerful gun lobby’s CEO Wayne LaPierre to step down amid allegations of financial misconduct.

Actress Felicity Huffman to plead guilty to US college cheating scam

Actress Felicity Huffman is due to plead guilty on Monday to paying to have someone cheat on her daughter’s behalf on a college entrance exam, part of a wide-ranging scandal in which wealthy parents used bribery and fraud to secure their children spots at prominent U.S. universities. Twenty people so far have agreed to plead guilty since officials carried out a wave of arrests.

Trump might order Barr to sabotage Joe Biden

President Trump says he believes talking to Attorney General Bill Barr about the possibility of investigating former Vice President Joe Biden and his son is the “appropriate thing” to do. “Certainly it would be an appropriate thing to speak to him about, but I have not done that as of yet,” the president told Politico on Friday.

Giuliani calls off Ukraine trip

A day after announcing plans to visit Ukraine in the hopes of meeting with the incoming president to push Trump’s political agenda, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani on Friday called the trip off because, he claimed, it “was a set up” concocted by “enemies of the United States.”

Jonathan Chait: Trump pressures Ukraine to smear Biden

“On its face, there is nothing illegal here. Trump is leveraging his power as president to compel a dependent foreign government to smear the opposition party. It’s just something no president has ever thought to do before. The powers legally available to a corrupt president and a party that has turned a blind eye to his violations of governing norms may be more terrifying than anybody has considered.”

West Virginia’s ‘part-time’ governor

Missing key policy debates, rare appearances at the Statehouse, and an empty schedule leave many West Virginians upset with their governor Jim Justice. Justice is a billionaire and is being criticized for caring more about nurturing his business empire than about the state which he is supposed to be governing.

China files charges against former Interpol chief

Since being kidnapped in China last September, Meng Hongwei has not been seen or heard from. Recently the Chinese state officially charged the former Interpol president Meng Hongwei on corruption charges. It is not clear how long he will remain incarcerated or if he will ever be released.

Greg Sargent: The big unanswered question at the core of Trump’s corruption

“The full force of the administration’s legal resources — backed up by the Senate Majority Leader and virtually all congressional Republicans — has been marshaled against further fact finding of any and all kinds, on just about every single remaining front where outstanding unknowns remain. Why? Why is this massive effort to close down every last remaining line of inquiry necessary, if Trump has been totally exonerated?”

Kamala Harris asks AG William Barr to clarify his testimony

Senator Kamala Harris made it clear she would not let Barr off the hook for the question after he refused to give a yes or no answer on whether Trump asked him to prosecute anyone. “Today, the president all but confirmed that he has made such a request when he called publicly for the prosecution of a former cabinet secretary and then stated that his ‘people’ disagreed with him,” Harris wrote. “In light of the President’s deeply troubling statements, I request that you supplement your testimony and clarify your answers to my question.”

Trump wants to prosecute John Kerry

It appears that Trump has been discussing his desire to investigate political opponents with the DOJ. Trump came out directly and told reporters that he wanted to prosecute John Kerry under the Logan Act. The act prohibits U.S. citizens from negotiating with foreign governments without the permission of the U.S. government.

Former Trump national security adviser: Some White House aides are a ‘danger to the Constitution’

Former national security adviser H.R. McMaster has accused White House advisers of being “a danger to the Constitution” by trying to manipulate President Trump. McMaster said that some aides were more interested in their political agenda than they were in serving the president, and that others cared more about a personal mission to save the world from the president.

Another day, another fabrication: Trump continues to lie about Puerto Rico aid

President Donald Trump falsely claimed he gave Puerto Rico $91 billion in hurricane relief aide after making the same claim on Twitter earlier this week. Multiple news sites fact-checked the figure and deemed it to be false. “It’s simply false for the president to assert that Puerto Rico has received $91 billion. It has been allocated less than half of that, and the president is treating a guesstimate as an established fact,” the Post writes.

Political chaos engulfs Turkey

Following Turkey’s top electoral body’s move to annul recent local election results after receiving immense pressure of president Erdogan, Turkey’s opposition party is now asking that the body annul last year’s presidential election results. The electoral body reasoned that the local elections should be annulled because some officials overseeing the election were not civil servants. The opposition party responded by pointing to the fact that last year’s presidential elections also used officials that were not civil servants.

WH does not want McGahn to comply with Congress

The White House has instructed former WH counsel Donald McGahn to not cooperate with congressional subpoenas. McGahn has signaled that he will follow the White House’s commands. Rep. Nadler of the House Judiciary Committee is expected to hold McGahn in contempt of Congress for his refusal to cooperate.

Former Trump inauguration official says she was ‘thrown under the bus’

Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a former adviser to first lady Melania Trump who was also involved in the planning of President Donald Trump’s inauguration, has lashed out at the White House and publicly disputed claims that she was fired when she left her role last year. “Did I personally receive $26 million or $1.6 million? No. Was I thrown under the bus? Yes,” Wolkoff said.

Insight into Donald Trump’s criminal code

No one would think of describing Donald Trump as “quite calculating, careful, and cautious about his choice of words.” He seems exactly the opposite most of the time. But within his sphere of associates, that’s what he is. And as his former attorney and fixer Michael Cohen shared, he speaks in a code similar to that of crime bosses.

Prosecutors refuse to meet with Cohen before prison

Federal prosecutors in New York have reportedly refused to meet with President Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen, despite his repeated offers to provide more information on alleged wrongdoing by Trump. He is scheduled to report Monday to a federal prison and begin serving his three-year sentence for campaign-finance violations, tax evasion, bank fraud, and lying to Congress.

Voter suppression becoming the law of the land?

There’s a broad effort in Republican-controlled states to restrict access to the ballot after voters approved ballot initiatives in November’s midterm elections to expand voting rights. A new report from the Brennan Center for Justice indicates that there are 19 bills restricting voting access moving through state legislatures in 10 states. Why?

Getting into Stanford is easy (if you have $6.5 million laying around)

The college admissions scandal widens. The family of a Chinese student admitted to Stanford paid $6.5 million to the man at the heart of the college admissions scandal, whom they met through a Morgan Stanley financial advisor. The family says William Singer “only provided educational advisory services, and did not guarantee admission into any particular school,” which is very difficult to believe.

Baltimore mayor resigns

After weeks of growing calls for her to step down, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh has resigned, her attorney said Thursday. The Democrat is under investigation for alleged “self-dealing” in connection to the sale of thousands of copies of her self-published children’s book series. Many of those sales went to entities that she had influence over or that sought to do business with the city.

Quinta Jurecic: All of the impeachable offenses

“Like Trump’s cowed performance beside Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki and his initial comments in defense of white supremacists after Charlottesville, the Mueller report — as a chronicle of presidential misconduct — adds useful information, but also clarifies and distills what was already known to be true. Reading the report, I was unable to shake a sense of naive amazement that this person really is the president of the United States. Part of the impeachment process — advocating for an inquiry as citizens, and conducting one on Congress’s part — is the work of maintaining this amazement and horror. It is a project of refusing to accept what has already, somehow, become acceptable.”

Max Boot: How the GOP caves to Trump

“You tell yourself that only by staying loyal to the president can you check his worst excesses and channel his instincts in a more constructive and conservative direction. You are convinced that you are too valuable to America in your current position to risk losing it — and that whoever replaces you will be far more of a Trump enabler than you are. Eventually you end up excusing the most blatant assault on the rule of law since Watergate and saying that Trump is the best president ever.”

Put it on America’s tab

A common theme in Donald Trump’s presidency is holding events and meetings at Trump properties. An investigation reveals that Trump staffers freely served themselves alcohol at Mar-a-Lago in 2017. Mar-a-Lago subsequently sent a bill to the White House, which was paid by taxpayers. In the Trump White House, the American people pay, and Trump gets the profit.

James Comey: How Trump co-opts leaders like Bill Barr

“Accomplished people lacking inner strength can’t resist the compromises necessary to survive Mr. Trump and that adds up to something they will never recover from. … You are smarter than Donald Trump, and you are playing a long game for your country, so you can pull it off where lesser leaders have failed and gotten fired by tweet. Of course, to stay, you must be seen as on his team, so you make further compromises. You use his language, praise his leadership, tout his commitment to values. And then you are lost. He has eaten your soul.”