Nov 21, 2018

White House allows troops to use force to protect border agents

Troops at the border. Photo: Ariana Drehsler/AFP/Getty Images

Chief of Staff John Kelly signed a "Cabinet order" on Tuesday expanding the authority of troops at the border to include "a show or use of force (including lethal force, where necessary), crowd control, temporary detention, and cursory search" in order to protect border agents, according to the Military Times' Tara Copp.

Why it matters: Requests for troops to provide crowd and traffic control and protection for agents had previously been rejected by the Pentagon. Troop activities at the border have been largely restrained due to the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, which prohibits the military from acting as law enforcement on U.S. soil. Defense officials told the Military Times that the language in the order "was carefully crafted to avoid running up against the bedrock legal limitations set in Posse Comitatus."

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Trump's clemency spree

Rod Blagojevich in 2010. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

President Trump announced Tuesday that he commuted former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's 14-year prison sentence for extortion, bribery and corruption — as well as issuing full pardons for former San Francisco 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo Jr., former NYPD Commissioner Bernie Kerik and financier Michael Milken.

The big picture: The president's clemency spree largely benefitted white-collar criminals convicted of crimes like corruption, gambling fraud and racketeering, undercutting his message of "draining the swamp."

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Trump's improbable moonshot

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

NASA is unlikely to meet its deadline of sending astronauts to the surface of the Moon by 2024, even with a large influx of funding.

Why it matters: The Artemis mission to send people back to the Moon is the Trump administration's flagship space policy, and its aggressive, politically-motivated timeline is its hallmark.

Go deeperArrow3 hours ago - Science

Justice Department says U.S. attorneys are reviewing Ukraine information

Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd sent a letter to House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) Tuesday informing him that the U.S. attorneys for the Eastern District of New York and the Western District of Pennsylvania are reviewing "unsolicited" information from the public related to matters involving Ukraine.

Why it matters: Nadler had requested an explanation for the "intake process" that Attorney General Bill Barr stated had been set up in order to receive information that Rudy Giuliani had obtained about the Bidens in Ukraine.