Trump's Sunday morning tweets - Axios
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Trump's Sunday morning tweets

Screengrab via Twitter

President Trump sent a stream of four tweets Sunday morning denying any collusion between his campaign and Russia and attempting to shift the focus onto Hillary Clinton. A half hour later he followed up another: "All of this "Russia" talk right when the Republicans are making their big push for historic Tax Cuts & Reform. Is this coincidental? NOT!"

The tweets

Never seen such Republican ANGER & UNITY as I have concerning the lack of investigation on Clinton made Fake Dossier (now $12,000,000?) / the Uranium to Russia deal, the 33,000 plus deleted Emails, the Comey fix and so much more. Instead they look at phony Trump/Russia, / "collusion," which doesn't exist. The Dems are using this terrible (and bad for our country) Witch Hunt for evil politics, but the R's /.are now fighting back like never before. There is so much GUILT by Democrats/Clinton, and now the facts are pouring out. DO SOMETHING!

Those tweets followed an earlier message about health care:

As usual, the ObamaCare premiums will be up (the Dems own it), but we will Repeal & Replace and have great Healthcare soon after Tax Cuts!

Be Smart: Looming over the five tweets is the fact that the first indictment (or indictments) of Robert Mueller's investigation is expected Monday.

Check the facts: Background on the U.S.-Russia Uranium deal ; The reporters behind the Trump/Russia dossier ; Clinton campaign, DNC backed research for Trump-Russia dossier ; Where Mueller's Russia probe stands

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NYPD responds to explosion of unknown origin at 42nd and 8th

This is a breaking news story and will be updated as we learn more.

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Rohingya women say they’ve been raped by Myanmar military

Portraits of some of the Rohingya Muslim women taken during an interview with The Associated Press.

The use of rape by Myanmar's armed forces has been sweeping and methodical, AP found in interviews with 29 Rohingya Muslim women and girls now in Bangladesh.

Why it matters: "The testimonies bolster the U.N.'s contention that Myanmar's armed forces are systematically employing rape as a 'calculated tool of terror' aimed at exterminating the Rohingya people."

More from AP's Kristen Gelineau:

  • "They were interviewed separately, come from a variety of villages in Myanmar and now live spread across several refugee camps in Bangladesh. Yet their stories were hauntingly similar. The military has denied its soldiers raped any Rohingya women."
  • "Here are the accounts as told by 21 women and girls [ranging in age from 13 to 35]. They agreed to be identified in this story by their first initial only, out of fear the military will kill them or their families."
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Polluters are getting off easier under Trump's EPA

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt speaks to the media during a June briefing. Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

"An analysis of [EPA] enforcement data by The New York Times shows that the administration has adopted a more lenient approach than the previous two administrations — Democratic and Republican — toward polluters," Eric Lipton and Danielle Ivory write on the front page:

  • "The Times built a database of civil cases filed at the E.P.A. during the Trump, Obama and Bush administrations. During the first nine months under [Administrator Scott] Pruitt's leadership, the E.P.A. started about 1,900 cases, about one-third fewer than the number under President Barack Obama's first E.P.A. director and about one-quarter fewer than under President George W. Bush's over the same time period."
  • "[T]he agency sought civil penalties of about $50.4 million from polluters for cases initiated under Mr. Trump. Adjusted for inflation, that is about 39 percent of what the Obama administration sought and about 70 percent of what the Bush administration sought over the same time period."
  • Get smart: "The E.P.A. ... can force companies to retrofit their factories to cut pollution. Under Mr. Trump, those demands have dropped sharply. The agency has demanded about $1.2 billion worth of ... injunctive relief ... in cases initiated during the nine-month period, which, adjusted for inflation, is about 12 percent of what was sought under Mr. Obama and 48 percent under Mr. Bush."
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North Korean threat intensifies as it grows its bioweapons program

People watch a TV screen showing an image of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Photo: Ahn Young-joon / AP

"North Korea is moving steadily to acquire the essential machinery that could potentially be used for an advanced bioweapons program," the WashPost's Joby Warrick reports atop column 1.

Why it matters: "The gains have alarmed U.S. analysts, who say North Korea — which has doggedly pursued weapons of mass destruction of every other variety — could quickly surge into industrial-scale production of biological pathogens if it chooses to do so."

Details of prorgram expansion:

  • "Kim Jong Un's government also is dispatching its scientists abroad to seek advanced degrees in microbiology, while offering to sell biotechnology services to the developing world."
  • The takeaway: "Such a move could give the regime yet another fearsome weapon with which to threaten neighbors or U.S. troops in a future conflict."
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Report: Mueller focusing on obstruction of justice around Flynn

Former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn leaves federal court in Washington. Photo: Susan Walsh / AP

Robert Mueller and his team are focusing on the days after White House officials were told Michael Flynn was vulnerable to Russian blackmail, NBC News' Carol Lee and Julia Ainsley report, citing "two people familiar with Mueller's investigation".

Why it matters: This means Mueller's team could be working to determine if Trump obstructed justice and is likely seeking out what President Trump knew about Flynn's conversations with former Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, and subsequently, when Trump learned Flynn lied about them.

That period: January 26 to February 13, 2017.

The focus reportedly includes interviews with White House Counsel Don McGahn, who briefed Trump and senior White House staff about Yates' report that Flynn had lied to White House officials on January 26 and that he was vulnerable to Russian blackmail, according to Sean Spicer. That included Flynn's lie to Vice President Pence, which is what Trump cited in his firing statements.

  • Yates testified before Congress that McGahn asked about Flynn's FBI interview but that she refused to answer questions about that.
  • McGahn briefed Trump and senior White House staff about Yates' report that Flynn had lied to White House officials on January 26, according to Sean Spicer including Vice President Pence, and that he was vulnerable to Russian blackmail.
  • The effort reportedly includes interviews with other White House officials as well.
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Saudi Arabia set to lift ban on movie theaters

Visitors enter the Saudi Comic Con in February 2017. Photo: AP

Saudi Arabia will allow movie theaters to open in the country next year for the first time since the 1980s, per the AP. The government hopes to open 300 theaters with 2,000 screens by 2030, paving the way for a new industry — though it’s unclear what movies might play and edited they might be.

Why it matters: It’s part of a continuing social modernizing push to attract international investment by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has announced an end to a ban on women driving and allowed rock concerts to be held in Saudi Arabia. That’s happening in conjunction with his controversial corruption crackdown, which is set to seize hundreds of billions from prominent businessmen for ailing Saudi coffers.

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How Ajit Pai tore up the rulebook for the information age

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has rewritten the rules of the information age so thoroughly that there's no mode of communication under his control where the rules aren't looser than they were a year ago. Here's a look at what he's done.


Be smart: While some of his deregulation has been bipartisan, his big-ticket proposals have divided the agency and the nation. He's actively courted fans of President Trump's populist rhetoric and inspired scorn on the left.

Why it matters: Many top Republican priorities have been mired in Washington gridlock since Trump took office. Not so at the FCC. Pai swiftly orchestrated the wholesale deregulation of the networks Americans use every day, which will likely alter the way people experience the internet, broadcast TV and even AM radio. Those changes will play out over years — not immediately.
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Ascension and Providence consider mega hospital merger

Ascension CEO Anthony Tersigni is eyeing a large health system merger. Photo: Aijaz Rahi / AP

Ascension and Providence St. Joseph Health are in discussions to merge, which would create the largest hospital system in the U.S., the Wall Street Journal reports citing people familiar with the merger talks. The combined system would have 191 hospitals, numerous clinics and roughly $45 billion in annual revenue.

Why it matters: Although the Ascension-Providence deal is not guaranteed, it shows how health care has turned into the Wild West for mega-mergers. CVS Health is buying Aetna, Catholic Health Initiatives and Dignity Health are merging, and Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care are combining, among other deals. Yet, research shows mergers don't lower health care costs or improve care for patients.

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Sneak Peek: Pence to the pyramids

Pence listens as Trump announces his Jerusalem move. Photo: Alex Brandon / AP

With President Trump's announcement on Jerusalem lighting up the Middle East, Vice President Mike Pence embarks Saturday on his first trip to Israel since taking national office.

The vice president will be gone for a week, with stops in Egypt and Germany:

  • Pence takes off from Washington, lands in Tel Aviv and goes straight to Jerusalem for a bilateral meeting with Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu.
  • Pence then will light a menorah at the Western Wall.
  • An aide said that Pence's message in Israel will be that Trump, as he said in his speech recognizing Jerusalem as the capital, is committed to working for peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
  • Pence will use his meetings with leaders in the region to reaffirm the administration's commitment to work with partners throughout the Middle East and to "defeat radicalism."
  • On Monday, Pence will give the signature speech at the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament. The speech will be aimed at the region overall. Pence will emphasize that he is there on behalf of the president, and detail why Israel is a most cherished ally of the United States.
  • Pence will then fly to Cairo for a bilat with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. The two will discuss security and joint efforts to fight ISIS.
  • Pence will visit the pyramids and will talk with media with the ancient wonders as a backdrop.
  • Pence will fly home through Ramstein Air Base in Germany, and will do a meet-and-greet with troops.

The takeaway: A key theme for Pence's remarks and interviews will be U.S. efforts to stop persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in the region.

Go deeper: Palestinians won't meet with Pence.

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Exclusive: Policy official leaving White House

The White House South Portico is adorned with Christmas lights. Photo: Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

Paul Winfree is leaving the White House, according to a senior administration official with knowledge of the decision. Winfree, who declined to comment, has resigned from his position as Deputy Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council and Director of Budget Policy.

  • Why this matters: Winfree's departure is part of what we've been forecasting will be a wave of White House staff departures after year one of the Trump presidency. His last day in the White House will be Friday.

Winfree, a respected policy wonk with strong ties to the conservative movement, is the second senior official to announce a departure in three days. Deputy National Security Adviser Dina Powell told colleagues she's leaving to return to her family in New York.

What Winfree has been telling friends and colleagues:

  • He and his wife are expecting a second baby boy in a few weeks.
  • He'll return to the Heritage Foundation, where he will run economic policy.
  • He also plans to start his own policy consulting business. -
  • Starting in February, he will teach a seminar on policymaking at a top university, where he will draw on his experiences working in the White House, the U.S. Senate, and with think tanks.