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U.S. Launches Strike Against Syria

President Trump said on Friday he had ordered strikes on Syrian targets, seeking to punish President Bashar al-Assad for a suspected chemical attack near Damascus that killed more than 40 people, the New York Times reports.

Mr. Trump said Britain and France had joined the United States in the strikes.

Said Trump: “These are not the actions of a man. They are crimes of a monster instead.”

Quote of the Day

“Fox has degenerated from providing a legitimate and much-needed outlet for conservative voices to a mere propaganda machine for a destructive and ethically ruinous administration.”

—Retired Lt. Col. Ralph Peters, quoted by BuzzFeed, explaining to friends why he quit his job as a Fox News analyst.

Trump Lawyer Calls for End of Russia Probe

President Trump’s lawyer “called on the Justice Department to immediately shut down the special counsel probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, in the wake of the firing of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe,” the Washington Post reports.

“Attorney John Dowd said in a statement that the investigation, now led by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, was fatally flawed early on and ‘corrupted’ by political bias.”

Said Dowd: “I pray that Acting Attorney General Rosenstein will follow the brilliant and courageous example of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility and Attorney General Jeff Sessions and bring an end to alleged Russia Collusion investigation manufactured by McCabe’s boss James Comey based upon a fraudulent and corrupt Dossier.”

Cohen Used Trump Email to Wire Money

“President Trump’s personal attorney used his Trump Organization email while arranging to transfer money into an account at a Manhattan bank before he wired $130,000 to adult film star Stormy Daniels to buy her silence,” NBC News reports.

“The lawyer, Michael Cohen, also regularly used the same email account during 2016 negotiations with the actress — whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford — before she signed a nondisclosure agreement.”

What Happens After Trump?

David Brooks: “The best indicator we have so far is the example of Italy since the reign of Silvio Berlusconi. And the main lesson there is that once the norms of acceptable behavior are violated and once the institutions of government are weakened, it is very hard to re-establish them. Instead, you get this cycle of ever more extreme behavior, as politicians compete to be the most radical outsider. The political center collapses, the normal left/right political categories cease to apply and you see the rise of strange new political groups that are crazier than anything you could have imagined before.”

“If America follows the Italian example, by 2025 we’ll look back at Trump nostalgically as some sort of beacon of relative normalcy. And by the way, if America follows the Italian example, Trump will never go away.”

13 Russians Indicted for U.S. Election Interference

“The Justice Department announced the indictment of a notorious Russian troll farm — naming more than a dozen individual suspects who allegedly worked there — as part of the special counsel’s investigation into criminal interference with the 2016 election,” the Washington Post reports.

New York Times: “The indictment charges that the foreigners falsely posed as American citizens, stole identities and otherwise engaged in fraud and deceit in an effort to influence the U.S. political process, including the 2016 presidential race.”

“Though the Russians are unlikely to be immediately arrested, they are now wanted by the United States government, which will make it hard for them to travel or do business internationally.”

Trump Budget Gives Up on Deficit Reduction

“President Trump on Monday will offer a budget plan that falls far short of eliminating the government’s deficit over 10 years, conceding that huge tax cuts and new spending increases make this goal unattainable,” the Washington Post reports.

“Eliminating the budget deficit over 10 years has been a North Star for the Republican Party for several decades, and GOP lawmakers took the government to the brink of default in 2011 when they demanded a vote on a amendment to the Constitution that would prohibit the federal government from spending more than it takes in through revenues.”

Meehan Admits He Saw Younger Aide as a ‘Soul Mate’

In his first comments since a story revealed that he had used thousands of taxpayer dollars to quietly settle a sexual harassment claim, Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-PA) told the Philadelphia Inquirer that he developed “affection” for a younger aide “in a way in which I was struggling to make sure that I would never put that into our professional relationship.”

He admitted that he saw her as a “soul mate” and reacted “selfishly” when she developed a serious relationship with another man but insisted he was loyal to his wife, did not want a romantic relationship and did not harass her.

Schumer Slams Cotton In Meeting with Trump

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) “told President Trump this week that there will be no deal on Dreamers if hard-line conservative Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) is involved,” Politico reports.

“Schumer also told the president that he was not being well served by White House staffers during negotiations over the fate of 700,000 young immigrants who face potential deportation if no deal is reached to protect them.”

“Trump grew defensive during the private exchange.”

North Carolina Gerrymandering Ruling Is Blocked

The Supreme Court ruled that North Carolina does not have to immediately redraw congressional maps that a lower court ruled unconstitutional, the Washington Post reports.

Rick Hasen: “What this means is that it is very unlikely that even if the Supreme Court agrees with the lower court that this is an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander, there will be time to consider the issue in time for the 2018 elections. This is especially true because the Court did not expedite things in this order, and it will take a few months before the Court decides whether to hear the case, and that means either a remand after the other partisan gerrymandering cases are decided this term or setting the case for argument (almost certainly next term).”