reports
May 13, 2020

On Wednesday, federal agents seized a cellphone belonging to Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) as part of the Justice Department's investigation into stock trades Burr made in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, a law enforcement official told the Los Angeles Times.

The agents served a search warrant on Burr at his home in the Washington, D.C., area, the official said. Burr is chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and on Feb. 13, during a time when he was receiving daily briefings from health officials on the coronavirus outbreak, he sold a hefty percentage of his stock portfolio in 33 separate transactions. One week later, the stock market took a dive. Members of Congress are prohibited from trading on insider information collected as part of their work. Catherine Garcia

April 29, 2020

In an attempt to get President Trump to stop holding daily coronavirus briefings, several advisers shared with him last week internal polling showing him lagging behind former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, in key swing states, three people with knowledge of the matter told The Washington Post.

Trump's poll numbers have been dropping over the last several weeks, and with the coronavirus death toll rising and the economy spiraling, advisers wanted to encourage him to hold fewer briefings and to stop taking questions from reporters. In a call last Wednesday with campaign manager Brad Parscale and Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, Trump was informed of two polls — one from his campaign, the other from the RNC — that showed him behind Biden.

Aides say Trump does not trust data that isn't good for him, and rebuffed the idea of not holding coronavirus briefings, saying people "loved" them and think he is "fighting for them," one person told the Post. During a briefing the next day, Trump suggested injecting bleach as a possible treatment for COVID-19.

The polling data put Trump in a horrible mood for the rest of the week, aides told the Post, and at one point he called Parscale to yell at him. He cursed throughout the phone call, they added, and said, "I'm not losing to Joe Biden." One aide told the Post that Trump said he might sue Parscale, but was joking. After the call, Parscale told others that Trump was just venting. On Tuesday, Parscale visited the Oval Office to deliver poll numbers that weren't so grim, aides said, lifting Trump's spirits. Read more at The Washington Post. Catherine Garcia

April 5, 2020

A fight broke out in the White House Situation Room on Saturday, after President Trump's economic adviser Peter Navarro clashed with Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, over an unproven COVID-19 coronavirus treatment, Axios reports.

Four people with knowledge of the matter told Axios' Jonathan Swan the argument took place near the end of a White House coronavirus task force meeting, after Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn brought up hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial drug Trump has touted as a possible "game-changer" in the fight against coronavirus. When Hahn was finished giving updates on drug trials, Navarro put folders down on the table where Hahn, Fauci, Vice President Mike Pence, and others were sitting.

One person familiar with the conversation told Swan the "first words out of his mouth are that the studies that he's seen, I believe they're mostly overseas, show 'clear therapeutic efficacy.' Those are the exact words out of his mouth." Fauci responded that this was anecdotal evidence, and this "just set Peter off," Swan reports. Navarro pointed to the folders and said, "That's science, not anecdote," a source said, and as his voice continued to get louder, Pence tried to intervene. "It was pretty clear that everyone was just trying to get Peter to sit down and stop being so confrontational," another person told Swan.

Fauci and other public health officials have said more data is needed before anyone can say the drug is effective against COVID-19, but based on things he's read, Navarro is convinced it works, Swan reports. The task force ultimately decided that publicly, the White House needs to say that use of hydroxychloroquine is between doctors and patients. Read more at Axios. Catherine Garcia

March 10, 2020

During his meeting with Senate Republicans on Tuesday, President Trump raised the idea of a 0 percent payroll tax rate for employees and employers that would last until the end of the year, a White House official told CNBC.

When asked how much this would cost, the White House official pushed back, and "asked why there is always a focus on the cost of tax cuts," CNBC reports.

On Monday, Trump announced during a briefing on the COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic that he would speak with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) about a possible payroll tax break in order to provide Americans with "very substantial relief." Paid for by employers and employees, payroll taxes are used to fund Social Security and Medicare.

The coronavirus outbreak has caused the markets to slump, and the White House is attempting to cobble together an economic stimulus plan. If they do have a solid proposal, they aren't ready to share all the details; following the lunch meeting, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) said Trump's team "didn't go into specifics" about the payroll tax cut. Catherine Garcia

February 24, 2020

Since 2018, people close to President Trump, including "a well-connected network of conservative activists," have been putting together lists of government officials deemed "disloyal" as well as pro-Trump people who should replace them, more than a dozen people with knowledge of the matter told Axios' Jonathan Swan.

Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, leads Groundswell, the conservative network at the center of the lists. Thomas has passed along memos to Trump listing people who need to be replaced and suggestions as to who should fill their posts. Some recommendations have shaped Trump's opinion, Swan reports, and others have caused internal strife between Trump's outside advisers and White House officials in charge of personnel.

Trump has become convinced that every department in the government is filled with "snakes" who need to be fired, Swan writes. One person who became a victim of these memos is former U.S. Attorney Jessie Liu, a person familiar with the matter told Swan. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had chosen Liu to become the department's undersecretary for terrorism and financial crimes, but after reading a lengthy memo listing allegations against her, Trump withdrew the nomination.

That memo was written by a member of Groundswell, a GOP Senate staffer named Barbara Ledeen, Swan reports. The memo claimed that there were more than a dozen reasons why Liu was unfit for the job, including because she dismissed charges against "violent inauguration protesters who plotted to disrupt the inauguration," belongs to a networking group that is "pro-choice," and signed the sentencing filing asking that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn serve jail time. Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, and Ledeen are friends.

You can read more about the lists and the suggested replacements, which include Fox News regulars and a controversial ex-sheriff, at Axios. Catherine Garcia

February 19, 2020

President Trump plans on naming U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell as acting director of national intelligence, three people with knowledge of the matter told The New York Times on Wednesday.

Grenell is known for being loyal to Trump, and one of his most vocal defenders. The director of national intelligence oversees the 17 agencies that make up the intelligence community and advises the president and National Security Council.

Joseph Maguire, a retired admiral, is now serving as acting director of national intelligence, following last summer's resignation of Dan Coats. If Grenell steps into the role, he would be the first openly gay cabinet secretary. Catherine Garcia

February 18, 2020

Attorney General William Barr has let people close to President Trump know that he is contemplating stepping down in the wake of Trump's tweets about Justice Department criminal investigations, three administration officials told The Washington Post on Tuesday.

Barr has spoken with people inside and out of the White House, and has privately and publicly asked Trump to stop commenting on Justice Department matters, the officials said; Trump has ignored him. Last week, Trump tweeted about his longtime friend and adviser Roger Stone, who was convicted of lying to Congress and witness tampering. Trump said the sentence recommendation was too severe, and on Tuesday, he suggested Stone should receive a new trial.

Last week, Barr told ABC News that Trump's tweets "make it impossible for me to do my job." Barr hopes that by telling Trump's advisers he might quit, Trump will get the memo, officials told the Post. "He has his limits," said one person familiar with the matter, without elaborating on what line Trump would have to cross to get Barr to step down. Catherine Garcia

February 11, 2020

Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick will likely drop out of the Democratic presidential race on Wednesday, a person familiar with the matter told CBS News on Tuesday night.

Patrick is expected to announce his decision in an email to supporters. He joined the race late, entering the fray in November, and did not gain any traction. Patrick received little support in Tuesday's New Hampshire primary; with 77 percent of precincts reporting, he has 0.4 percent of the vote. Catherine Garcia

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