By Robert A. Vella

Trump’s anti-Mueller move

From:  Stymied by aides, Trump sought out loyalist to curtail special counsel — and drew Mueller’s glare

President Trump was furious.

He had just learned that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation went beyond Russia’s interference in the 2016 campaign and into the White House — and that Trump himself was now under scrutiny for his actions in office. The next day, he attempted to oust Mueller, only to be thwarted by his White House counsel, according to the special counsel’s report.

So Trump turned to the one person he could long count on to do his bidding: Corey Lewandowski, his former campaign manager, described by senior White House advisers to investigators as a Trump “devotee.” In a private Oval Office meeting, the president dictated a message he wanted delivered to then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions: that he needed to give a speech announcing he was limiting the scope of the investigation.

Trump’s efforts to enlist Lewandowski as a back channel to try to curtail the probe, detailed in 10 pages of Mueller’s 448-page report, provides a new window into how far the president went in trying to hold back the special counsel.

NRA woes

From:  Trump prepares to address NRA at war with itself

WASHINGTON — The nation’s largest gun rights organization played a pivotal role in President Donald Trump’s victory in 2016.

Three years later, the National Rifle Association is limping toward the next election divided and diminished.

It’s a reversal that has stunned longtime observers and that is raising questions about the one-time kingmaker’s potential firepower heading into 2020 as Trump and Vice President Mike Pence prepare to headline the group’s annual convention in Indianapolis on Friday.

From:  Russian operative Maria Butina sentenced to 18 months in prison

Maria Butina, the Russian operative who used her NRA activism to illegally infiltrate conservative political circles, was sentenced to 18 months in prison by a federal judge on Friday.The 30-year-old American University graduate student pleaded guilty in December to one count of conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign official. She was arrested in July.U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan gave Butina credit for nine months of time served. The judge ordered her deported as soon as her time is up.


But Judge Chutkan didn’t buy Butina’s claims of innocent ignorance of the law.”She was doing this under the direction of a Russian official … at a time that Russia was looking to interfere with the U.S. political process,” the judge said.”This was no simple misunderstanding by an overeager foreign student,” she said.Butina admitted to working with her Republican operative boyfriend Paul Erickson — identified in court papers as “U.S. Person 1” — at the behest of a Russian official in order “to establish unofficial lines of communication with Americans having power and influence over U.S. politics … for the benefit of the Russian Federation,” according to court papers.

Debt Ceiling issue

From:  Trump administration pushes for quick action to raise debt limit

Top White House officials are imploring key Republicans to move quickly and raise the debt ceiling, four people briefed on the discussions said, concerned that a prolonged impasse could raise the chances of a misstep that damages the economy later this year.

The requests have taken on new urgency because other budget discussions with Capitol Hill have broken down, leaving policymakers at a loss for ways to avoid a pileup of dangerous deadlines in September that could impact the stock market, labor market and economic growth.

Courts rule against Trump again

From:  U.S. judge blocks new Trump abortion rule for health clinics

April 25 (Reuters) – A federal judge in Washington state on Thursday blocked a Trump administration rule that would prohibit taxpayer-funded family planning clinics from referring patients to abortion providers.

The preliminary injunction bars enforcement nationwide of a policy that was due to go into effect on May 3 over the vehement objections of abortion supporters who have decried it as a “gag rule” designed to silence doctor-patient communications about abortion options.


A federal judge in Oregon earlier this week said he intended to grant a preliminary injunction in a similar but separate lawsuit brought by 20 states and the District of Columbia. Two more lawsuits challenging the Title X restrictions are pending in California and Maine.

The restrictions are aimed at fulfilling Republican President Donald Trump’s campaign pledge to end federal support for Planned Parenthood, an organization that provides abortions and other health services for women under Title X.

From:  Judge gives U.S. six months to identify separated migrant children

(Reuters) – A U.S. judge said on Thursday he would order the Trump administration to comb through the records of 47,000 immigrant children and within six months identify those separated from their parents after crossing the Mexican border.

While a government official said at Thursday’s hearing he hoped to meet the deadline, the government said earlier this month it might take two years to identify the separated children.

“I am going to issue an order to do this in six months, subject to good cause,” said U.S. Judge Dana Sabraw at a hearing in San Diego. “It is important for all government actors to have a time frame and I intend to stand on it.”