The government in action

Monday, Feb. 12

Š      The Senate began an unrestricted debate on immigration—a unusual step that permits senators to try to build a bill on the Senate floor. Meanwhile the fate of hundreds of thousands of so-called “dreamers” hung in the balance. The debate was expected to continue for a week with no guarantee that any proposal would attract the required 60 votes for passage.

Š      President Trump sent a $4.4 trillion budget proposal to Congress proposing steep cuts to Medicare and other social programs, and significant increases in military spending. Trump’s budget would balloon the federal deficit. The proposal has little chance of enactment, but it did show how far Republicans have moved from their advocacy of balanced budgets.

Tuesday, Feb. 13

Š      Top intelligence officials warned that Russia is already attempting to influence the upcoming midterm elections. They said Moscow’s digital strategy was aimed at deepening the nation’s social and political divisions. “We expect Russia to continue using propaganda, social media, false-flag personas, sympathetic spokespeople and other means of influence to try to exacerbate social and political fissures in the United States,” said Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence at a hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Š      The White House changed its story about Rob Porter, the disgraced staff secretary who resigned last week over allegations of spousal abuse. A White House spokesperson conceded that the F.B.I. told the White House last summer about complications in Porter’s security background check but claimed that the F.B.I.’s warning never reached Trump’s inner circle.

Wednesday, Feb. 14

Š      President Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, said he paid $130,000 of his own money to pornography star Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, who claimed to have had an affair with Trump. “Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford, and neither reimbursed me for the payment, either directly or indirectly,” Cohen said in a statement to The New York Times.

Š      Scott Pruitt, the EPA administrator, is now approved to fly first class for all travel, an EPA spokesman said. “Due to security reasons, he has a blanket waiver to buy business or first class,” said Jahan Wilcox. He declined to identify who signed off on the unusual permission, or when, or how it was determined that flying coach poses a security risk.

Thursday, Feb. 15

Š      The Senate blocked three immigration bills — including one supported by President Trump — leaving hundreds of thousands of undocumented “dreamers” in continued uncertainty about their ability to remain in the United States. The Senate voted 60 to 39 against the White House-backed bill, which would have offered 1.8 million “dreamers” a path to citizenship, in exchange for a $25 billion commitment to build a border wall with Mexico, substantially limit legal immigration, and end the diversity visa lottery.

Friday, Feb. 16

Š       The Justice Department charged three companies and 13 Russian nationals in an indictment that exposed a complex network designed to subvert the 2016 election and to support the Trump campaign. According to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, the Russians were also in contact with “unwitting individuals associated with the Trump campaign.”

Š      The White House will limit access by some employees with interim security clearances to top-secret information, according to White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly. The move could threaten the position of Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law.

Š      New claims surfaced in the New Yorker about an alleged nine-month relationship that President Trump had with former Playboy “Playmate of the Year” Karen McDougal. She was reportedly paid $150,000 by a tabloid publisher, a close friend of Trump’s, who never published her story.

Š      Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered an examination of the F.B.I. and Justice Department’s procedures because the F.B.I. failed to act on a tip about the teenager who shot his classmates in a deadly school shooting in Florida. “It is now clear that the warning signs were there and tips to the F.B.I. were missed. We see the tragic consequences of those failures,” Sessions said in a statement.

Saturday, Feb. 17

Š      Bloomberg reported that an un-named source said Special Counsel Robert Mueller is still investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia in the 2016 presidential election. The investigation is expected to continue for months and also look at potential obstruction of justice charges against the president, the source said.

Sunday, Feb. 18

Š      In a remarkable series late night tweets, President Trump vented against the ongoing probe of Russian interference in the 2016 elections. He declared, “they are laughing their asses off in Moscow.” Trump blamed the Obama administration for not deterring Russia. and said he never denied that Russia meddled in the U.S. elections. The tweet storm undercut his national security adviser, Lt. General H.R. McMaster, who said the day before that Russian interference is now “beyond dispute.” :