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President Trump on Friday announced plans to send 1,500 additional troops to the Middle East amid escalating tensions with Iran.

"We want to have protection," Trump told reporters on Friday, saying it will be a "relatively small number of troops, mostly protective." He confirmed the 1,500 number that had previously been reported and said that "some very talented people are going to the Middle East right now, and we'll see what happens."

The president spoke after The Associated Press reported the administration had notified Congress of its plan, saying that the troops' activities will be "defensive in nature" and will protect U.S. forces in the region. U.S. officials in recent weeks have warned of a "number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings" from Iran, with the State Department ordering the evacuation of non-emergency personnel from the Baghdad embassy.

"Our job is deterrence," Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said, The Washington Post reports. "This is not about war." Trump had said on Thursday he did "not think" it would be necessary to send more troops to the Middle East but that he would "certainly" do so if necessary, and he was reportedly convinced during a Thursday meeting. He tweeted last week that "if Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran." Brendan Morrow

May 22, 2019

Democrats just scored their second subpoena victory of the week.

On Monday, a U.S. District Court judge denied President Trump's request to block the House Oversight Committee's subpoena of his financial records from his accounting firm. And on Wednesday, another judge did basically the same thing, ruling against Trump's suit to block a House subpoena of his financial record from Deutsche Bank and Capital One.

Last month, the House Financial Services and Intelligence committees subpoenaed the banks for several years of Trump's financial records. Trump, his businesses, and his family immediately sued the banks to stop them from complying. But on Wedenesday, Judge Edgardo Ramos of the Southern District of New York said the subpoenas were broad, but decided they were "clearly pertinent" to Congress' goals, CNN reports. Ramos added that he expects the banks to comply with the subpoenas shortly.

Deutsche Bank has spent years loaning to Trump and his businesses, and said it "would comply with whatever the court ultimately decided," The New York Times notes. Like they did after Tuesday's ruling, though, Trump's lawyers will likely appeal the Wednesday decision. Kathryn Krawczyk

May 13, 2019

China has just announced its promised retaliatory action after President Trump's tariff hike.

China said on Monday it will raise tariffs from 10 percent to 25 percent on $60 billion of U.S. goods beginning on June 1, per CNBC. This comes after President Trump last week raised tariffs from 10 percent to 25 percent on $200 billion of Chinese goods.

China had previously vowed to respond as Trump also threatened to impose additional tariffs on $300 billion of Chinese goods. Trump, who said on Friday there is "absolutely no need to rush" on a trade deal with China, on Monday warned China against retaliation, tweeting that the situation "will only get worse!" Brendan Morrow

May 9, 2019

President Trump will nominate his Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan for the full job, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced Thursday.

Shanahan has served in an acting capacity since the beginning of the year, after former Defense Secretary James Mattis left the role. Before that, he was the department's deputy secretary, and has a long career working for Boeing.

Given his career background, Shanahan recused himself from any decisions having to doing with Boeing — which is a few billion dollars' worth of things. The defense department's inspector general did recently clear Shanahan of ethics concerns regarding his alleged promotion of Boeing within the department, CNN notes. The end of that investigation paved the way for Shanahan's nomination.

Shanahan's appointment comes nearly six months after Mattis issued a stunning yet subtle takedown of Trump in his resignation letter. Shanahan was among the nearly half of Trump's Cabinet that was acting at the beginning of the year, but it has since been slowly filling up with permanent members. Kathryn Krawczyk

May 8, 2019

President Trump is sounding off before House Democrats vote to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt.

In April, House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) approved a subpoena for a full, unredacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report and its "underlying evidence." Trump had threatened to fight that demand, and on Wednesday, he "asserted executive privilege over the entirety of the subpoenaed materials," a letter from the Department of Justice to Nadler read. That means the documents will be withheld from the committee.

The DOJ got serious about Trump's subpoena stonewalling on Tuesday night, saying that if the House Judiciary Committee followed through with a contempt vote against Attorney General William Barr, then Barr would tell Trump to use his executive privilege. Barr did just that in a letter to Trump on Wednesday morning.

The DOJ move comes as the House Judiciary Committee voted Wednesday to bring a contempt resolution against Barr for a vote later in the day. Barr refused to testify before the committee last week, and when he didn't comply with Nadler's request for the whole Mueller report over the weekend, Nadler moved to hold a contempt vote. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued a statement about Trump's privilege shortly after the DOJ letter reached Nadler. Kathryn Krawczyk

May 7, 2019

The White House has directed former counsel Don McGahn not to comply with a subpoena from Congress.

McGahn has been instructed by Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney not to turn over documents that have been subpoenaed by the House Judiciary Committee, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone said on Tuesday, The New York Times reports.

Democrats subpoenaed documents from McGahn, who spoke with Special Counsel Robert Mueller as part of his probe into whether the president obstructed justice during the Russia investigation. A key episode in the report, for instance, detailed Trump telling McGahn to have Mueller removed as special counsel because he "has conflicts." Trump has claimed he did not order McGahn to fire Mueller.

McGahn was given a May 7 deadline to give Congress documents related to the Mueller investigation. But in his letter to House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Cipollone argues that McGahn "does not have the legal right to disclose these documents."

McGahn's lawyer in a letter to the committee said that he "continues to owe certain duties and obligations to the president which he is not free to disregard" and will "maintain the status quo unless and until the committee and the executive branch can reach an accommodation," The Wall Street Journal reports.

This comes after White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday told ABC that she does "not anticipate" that McGahn will be allowed to comply with the subpoena from Democrats because "we consider this to be a case closed and we're moving forward to do the work of the American people."

The Washington Post reports that Democrats have been weighing a contempt citation for McGahn if he didn't comply, with experts saying the former White House counsel may have to "choose between Trump and a possible contempt of Congress charge." Brendan Morrow

April 29, 2019

On Monday evening, President Trump sent a memo to Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan and Attorney General William Barr, ordering them to implement tougher restrictions on asylum seekers at the southern border.

Trump wants the new regulations in place within 90 days, including charging fees for asylum applications and barring some asylum seekers from obtaining work authorization. This is Trump's latest attempt to try to keep Central American asylum seekers from coming to the United States. In March, roughly 93,000 people were arrested at the border. Catherine Garcia

April 26, 2019

Maria Butina, the Russian national accused of being a spy, was sentenced to 18 months in prison Friday on charges of failing to register as a foreign agent.

Butina pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge in December, and on Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Tanya S. Chutkan decided she will spend 9 months in prison after time served, BuzzFeed News reports. She will be deported to Russia after her sentence.

Butina was arrested last July on the charge of conspiracy to act as an unregistered agent of the Russian government. Prosecutors detailed how she allegedly cozied up to GOP operatives and the NRA by posing as a gun rights activist, and said she did so to influence those operatives in Russia's favor. Butina originally pleaded not guilty to the conspiracy charge, but decided in December to cooperate with prosecutors and plead guilty to the charge.

Butina stayed in the U.S. under a student visa from George Washington University, where she was studying international relations, per prosecutors. Prosecutors also detailed she had the closest ties to Paul Erickson, saying she "agreed and conspired" with him "under direction of" Russian Central Bank leader Alexander Torshin. Kathryn Krawczyk

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