Prosecutor Mueller Issues Subpoenas as Congress Moves to Protect Him from the White House
Russia developments. Robert Mueller, the special prosecutor investigating the Trump-Kremlin conspiracy allegations, has issued subpoenas from a new Washington grand jury. At least some of the subpoenas are for documents related to the business dealings of former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Others are for Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting in June 2016 with at least seven others, including a Russian lawyer, a Russian-American lobbyist and a Russian real-estate executive, at Trump Tower. Grand juries are members of the public who meet in secret to hear evidence. Grand jury subpoenas are the primary method by which prosecutors gather evidence in criminal investigations. Trump denounced the investigation at a rally in West Virginia: “They’re trying to cheat you out of the leadership that you want with a fake story.”
Flynn, meanwhile, filed an amended federal financial disclosure report late Thursday providing new details about his contracts with the Trump presidential transition, a company connected to an Iranian American businessman, and the parent company of a data science firm that worked for the Trump campaign.
Finally, Sens. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Chris Coons (D- Del.) introduced legislation Thursday making it harder for Mr. Trump to fire Mr. Mueller. Under the legislation, a special counsel could challenge removal, with a three-judge panel ruling within 14 days on whether the firing was justified. If the panel found no good cause for the firing, the special counsel would immediately be reinstated. The bill follows a similar effort from Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.).
Retaliation. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents have shown up twice at California labor dispute proceedings to apprehend undocumented workers. State officials are telling staff members to bar ICE agents. About 35,000 workers a year file claims for back pay. State law allows workers to report labor violations regardless of their immigration status. The state’s labor commissioner suspects employers accused of stiffing workers on pay are tipping off immigration officials.
Lost wheelchairs. The U.S. Department of Transportation is stalling on a rule that would require airlines to track data on lost or damaged wheelchairs and scooters. The rule was supposed to go into effect next year, but the Trump administration is pushing that back until 2019. Paralyzed Veterans of America has sued in federal court over the delay.
Putin pleasant. Leaked transcripts of Trump’s phone calls with President Enrique Peña Nieto and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of Australia show Trump calling New Hampshire “a drug-infested den” and telling the Mexican president that he shouldn’t say Mexico won’t pay for the border wall that Trump wants. Trump complained to Turnbull about a deal to consider accepting up to 1,250 economic refugees. “I have been making these calls all day, and this is the most unpleasant call all day,” Trump said. “Putin was a pleasant call.”
Rent dispute. The Secret Service, which is supposed to protect the president and his family, has left Trump Tower in Manhattan for a command post in a trailer outside because of a dispute with Trump’s company over the lease. A Trump Organization spokeswoman said the government should seek space elsewhere. “It’s like having the quarterback of the football game actually being located in a different stadium than where the game is being played,” a former Secret Service official told The Washington Post. The military is leasing space in Trump Tower for $130,000 a month.
Party switch. Democratic Gov. Jim Justice of West Virginia announced his plans to change his political party affiliation and join the GOP at a rally in Huntington with Trump on Thursday night. “Today I will tell you as West Virginians, I can’t help you anymore being a Democrat governor,” Justice said at the rally. “So tomorrow, I will be changing my registration to Republican.” This isn’t the first time Justice has switched parties—he was previously an independent and a Republican up until 2015 when he ran for governor as a Democrat.