* It seems increasingly clear that Paul Manafort has the goods on Trump/Russia.
Paul Manafort’s notes from a controversial Trump Tower meeting with Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign included the word “donations,” near a reference to the Republican National Committee, two sources briefed on the evidence told NBC News.
The references, which have not been previously disclosed, elevated the significance of the June 2016 meeting for congressional investigators, who are focused on determining whether it included any discussion of donations from Russian sources to either the Trump campaign or the Republican Party.
It is illegal for foreigners to donate to American elections. The meeting happened just as Trump had secured the Republican nomination for president, and he was considered a longshot to win. Manafort was the campaign chairman at the time.
Manafort’s notes, typed on a smart phone and described by one briefed source as cryptic, were turned over to the House and Senate intelligence committees and to Special Counsel Robert Mueller. They contained the words “donations,” and “RNC” in close proximity, the sources said.
* The Trump administration continues their efforts to sabotage Obamacare.
Senior officials at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) told reporters Thursday that the agency will gut its budget for promotion of and education about the Affordable Care Act ahead of the first full open enrollment period of the Trump administration.
Last year, the officials said, the Obama administration spend about $100 million on educating Americans about their health insurance choices and urging them to enroll. This year, HHS will spend just $10 million.
Additionally, HHS will nearly cut in half the funding for hundreds of navigator groups across the country who provide in-person assistance to people signing up for health insurance, making the grants conditional on how many people each group signed up last year.
* Kellyanne Conway made a name for herself by spreading so-called “alternative facts.” So we could be blasé about this and simply say, “there she goes again.” But I want to continue to be shocked that someone could look into the camera and tell such bold-faced outrageous lies—particularly with the White House as the backdrop.
* The Texas state legislature is running into a lot of opposition from the courts on their racist laws (i.e., voter suppression and gerrymandering). Here is the latest:
A federal judge in Texas has temporarily blocked parts of a severe state immigration law that was supposed to take effect Friday and would have outlawed sanctuary cities and penalized local officials who do not cooperate with federal deportation efforts.
The decision Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia in San Antonio delivers a temporary blow to the state’s campaign — backed by the Trump administration — to compel localities to detain immigrants so federal agents can take them into custody.
In a 94-page decision, Garcia wrote that parts of the Texas law are likely to be found unconstitutional. He enjoined the state from punishing local officials, infringing on their right to free speech and forcing them to detain immigrants for federal immigration officials, an act that is currently voluntary. And he wrote that cities and towns had provided “overwhelming” and “ample” evidence that cooperating with immigration officials will “erode public trust and make many communities and neighborhoods less safe” as well as harm the state economically.
* Finally, here’s an oldie that seems appropriate for today.