Politics & Policy

Why it matters: While Democrats fight to convince voters that they should be the ones tasked with taking down President Trump, the current administration is powering ahead on efforts to restrict immigration, unleash business and reshape the U.S. role in the world.

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1,000 veterans denounce Trump for attacking Alexander Vindman

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, then director of European affairs at the National Security Council, just before testifying during the House Intelligence Committee hearing on President Trump's impeachment inquiry last November. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Over 1,1000 military veterans have signed a letter criticizing President Trump for his "actions and insults" toward Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, which they say show he's "prioritised a personal vendetta over our national security."

Why it matters: Vindman was a key national security official until he was fired this month. He testified at the House impeachment inquiry that Trump's July 25 call with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky, which he listened in on, was "improper." Among his criticisms of the Purple Heart recipient, Trump said Vindman was "insubordinate" and had "problems with judgement, adhering to the chain of command and leaking information."

George Zimmerman sues Buttigieg and Warren for $265M

George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida, in November 2013. Photo: Joe Burbank-Pool/Getty Images

George Zimmerman filed a lawsuit in Polk County, Fla. seeking $265 million in damages from Democratic presidential candidates Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren, accusing them of defaming him to "garner votes in the black community."

Context: Neither the Massachusetts senator nor the former Southbend mayor tweeted his name in the Feb. 5 posts on what would've been the 25th birthday of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teen Zimmerman fatally shot in 2012. But Zimmerman alleges they "acted with actual malice" to defame him.

4 takeaways from the Nevada Democratic debate

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

The relative civility of the last eight Democratic debates was thrown by the wayside Wednesday night, the first debate to feature the billionaire "boogeyman," Michael Bloomberg, whose massive advertising buys and polling surge have drawn the ire of the entire field.

The big picture: Pete Buttigieg captured the state of the race early on, noting that after Super Tuesday, the "two most polarizing figures on this stage" — Bloomberg and democratic socialist Bernie Sanders — could be the only ones left competing for the nomination. The rest of candidates fought to stop that momentum.

Klobuchar squares off with Buttigieg on immigration

Buttigieg and Klobuchar in Las Vegas on Feb. 19. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg went after Sen. Amy Klobuchar on the debate stage Wednesday for voting to confirm Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan and voting in 2007 to make English the national language.

What she's saying: "I wish everyone was as perfect as you, Pete, but let me tell you what it's like to be in the arena. ... I did not one bit agree with these draconian policies to separate kids from their parents, and in my first 100 days, I would immediately change that."

Debate night: Democrats fight for make-or-break moments in Nevada

Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

Billionaire Michael Bloomberg defended his wealth to his Democratic competitors in his debate debut, while Sen. Bernie Sanders, a front-runner, faced comparisons to President Trump over his populist appeals, at the ninth Democratic debate in Las Vegas Wednesday just days before the Nevada caucuses.

The big picture: Sanders argued that Bloomberg's version of centrism won't produce the voter turnout needed to beat Trump. Bloomberg retorted that he doesn't think there's "any chance, whatsoever" of Sanders beating Trump and struck at the senator's Medicare for All plan.

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Sanders defends socialism: "We are living, in many ways, in a socialist society right now"

Sanders in Las Vegas, Nevada on Feb. 19. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders again defended on Wednesday's debate stage his embrace of Democratic socialism.

What he's saying: "Let's talk about Democratic socialism — not communism, Mr. Bloomberg, that's a cheap shot. Let's talk about what goes on in countries like Denmark, where Pete correctly pointed out, they have a much higher quality of life in many respects than we do."

Warren skewers Bloomberg over a "drip, drip, drip" of sexual harassment accusations

Warren and Bloomberg on Feb. 19. Photo: Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Elizabeth Warren accused former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Wednesday's debate stage of signing "who knows how many" non-disclosure agreements with his female employees over sexual harassment and gender discrimination.

What she's saying: "Mr. Mayor, are you willing to release all of those women from those non-disclosure agreements, so we can hear their side of the story?"

Klobuchar calls for Bloomberg to release tax returns

Buttigieg and Klobuchar in Nevada on Feb. 19. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar targeted Michael Bloomberg for not releasing his tax returns, comparing the former New York mayor's reluctance to President Trump's court battle over releasing his returns.

What she's saying: "I don't care how much money anyone has, I think it's great you got a lot of money, but I think you've got to come forward with your tax returns," Klobuchar said, reminding the audience that Trump "has been hiding behind his tax returns."

Warren launches at Bloomberg: We can't "substitute one arrogant billionaire for another"

Bloomberg in Las Vegas, Nevada on Feb. 19. Photo: Bridget Bennett/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Elizabeth at Wednesday's Democratic debate painted New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg as the same kind of racist and sexist that Democrats have repeatedly accused President Trump of being.

What she's saying: "I'd like to talk about who we're running against. We're talking about a billionaire who calls women fat broads and horse-faced lesbians. And no, I'm not talking about Donald Trump, I'm talking about Mayor Bloomberg."

Exclusive: Facebook weighs in on Bloomberg's social media tactics

Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Facebook says that paid political campaign staffers are allowed to post content supporting the candidate they work for, so long as those employees "make an effort" to disclose their ties to the campaign.

Yes, but: Facebook will not take down content posted by a campaign staffer that endorses a candidate they work for if they do not disclose the relationship, a spokesperson tells Axios. That's because there's no clear guidance from regulators about whether or not this type of paid relationship violates campaign finance rules.

Trump to install loyalist Ric Grenell as acting intelligence chief

Photo: Sylvain Gaboury/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

President Trump confirmed in a tweet Wednesday night that he will install Richard Grenell, the current U.S. ambassador to Germany and a staunch defender of the president, as the acting director of national intelligence.

Why it matters: The role, which was originally vacated by Dan Coats in August 2019, is one of grave responsibility. As acting DNI, Grenell will be charged with overseeing and integrating the U.S. intelligence community and will advise the president and the National Security Council on intelligence matters that concern national security.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy
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