Jonathan Swan Mar 16, 2017
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Here comes Trump's "Hard Power" budget

Evan Vucci / AP

The Trump Administration released its first budget blueprint today. The proposal is heavy on defense and border security and light on just about everything else — including, surprisingly, some infrastructure programs.

Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, who briefed White House reporters Wednesday, said we should expect an "America First Budget" and a "Hard Power Budget" as opposed to a "Soft Power Budget."

Between the lines: Hard power over soft power means Trump will bolster the Pentagon at the expense of the State Department.

The highlights:

  • Trump won't balance his first budgets, but the proposal won't add to the already projected $488 billion deficit in fiscal year 2018.
  • Wall funding: A supplemental 2017 request will include $1.5 billion for the wall this year and $2.6 billion for the wall in the 2018 budget. Mulvaney said he didn't know how much of the wall would be built this year — but you can bet it'll end up costing vastly more than these tiny initial requests.
  • Cuts to Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The Washington Post's Phil Rucker asked Mulvaney how he squared Trump's campaign promise to help the inner cities with his plans to cut the HUD budget. Mulvaney replied that the President was going after "wasteful programs... programs that simply don't work...and a lot of those are in HUD."
  • Defense budget grows by $54 billion.
  • Homeland Security's budget grows by about 6 percent.
  • A 28 percent funding cut at State. Mulvaney said the budget would protect the "core diplomatic function" of the department but would slash foreign aid spending.
  • Massive cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency. Mulvaney didn't provide numbers, but Axios has already reported the cuts will be somewhere in the ballpark of 25 percent or $2 billion. Trump will gut EPA programs addressing climate change.
  • End of federal funding of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Politically sensitive cuts: The Administration is trying to preemptively spin some cuts that it knows could be politically damaging. Mulvaney said to expect cuts to infrastructure programs within the Department of Transportation — which would seemingly contradict Trump's promise to be an Infrastructure President; "We believe those programs to be less efficient than the infrastructure package that we're working on for later on this year."

Zachary Basu 1 hour ago
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John Bolton super PAC hired Cambridge Analytica in 2014

John Bolton
Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

A super PAC led by incoming White House national security adviser John Bolton hired Cambridge Analytica in 2014 for “behavioral microtargeting with psychographic messaging,” reports the New York Times. Bolton's PAC was reportedly aware at the time that the models it received were derived from harvested Facebook data, according to former Cambridge employee and whistleblower Christopher Wylie.

Why it matters: Per the Times, "Mr. Bolton’s experience with the company appears to have provided a model for how it sold itself to future political campaigns, including Mr. Trump’s." Trump, Bolton and Cambridge Analytica also share a common patron in the billionaire Mercer family, which has yet to comment on the data scandal.

Zachary Basu 2 hours ago
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At least three killed in hostage crisis in southwest France

French gendarmes block an access to Trebes, where a man took hostages at a supermarket on March 23, 2018. Photo by ERIC CABANIS/AFP/Getty Images.

A gunman killed at least three people in a supermarket in Trebes, France on Friday, before being fatally shot by police, reports BBC News.

What they're saying: The suspect, who reportedly pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, took several hostages and was involved in a police standoff for about three hours. Witnesses say he was heavily armed and was demanding the release of Salah Abdeslam, the only living suspect in the 2015 Paris attacks that killed 130 people.