Backup border funding plan, Trump's records & moms go undercover: The Morning Rundown

A federal judge ordered Trump's accounting firm to turn over his financial records to the House Oversight Committee.
Image: President Donald Trump leaves after speaking during a Make America Great Again rally at Williamsport Regional Airport
President Donald Trump leaves a rally in Montoursville, Pennsylvania on Monday. Brendan Smialowski / AFP - Getty Images

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By Petra Cahill

Good morning, NBC News readers.

The battle between the White House and House Democrats escalates, moms go undercover to fight fake autism cures and a billionaire’s gift puts a spotlight on the student loan crisis.

Here’s what we’re watching today.


Accountants must hand over Trump financial records, judge rules

President Donald Trump lost one battle and dug in on another one Monday as part of his promise to fight "all the subpoenas" issued by House Democrats.

A federal judge ruled that Trump's accounting firm must turn over his financial records to Congress in order to comply with a request from the House Oversight Committee.

Meantime, the White House instructed its former top lawyer Don McGahn to defy a congressional subpoena and not testify Tuesday.

"The President has directed Mr. McGahn not to appear at the Committee's scheduled hearing" on Tuesday, current White House counsel Pat Cipollone told House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., in a letter.

The move escalates the fight between the White House and Congress over the House Democrats' subpoena power versus executive privilege.

And it comes as key Democrats continue to press Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to move forward with an impeachment inquiry against the president.


DHS levies 'tax' on TSA to come up with border funds

The Department of Homeland Security is requesting $232 million from the Transportation Security Administration to fund border operations in the event that Congress does not agree to fund $1.1 billion of its funding request, according to documents of a contingency plan obtained by NBC News.

The TSA's plan for how it would trim its budget in order to come up with the money includes taking $50 million earmarked for advanced screening equipment and $3 million collected from loose change left in trays at airports.

Cutting funding for the TSA officers who run the security screening lines at airports is also under consideration — and could have a significant impact on wait times for travelers as the summer season begins.


Russian documents reveal desire to sow racial discord — and violence — in the U.S.

Russians who were linked to interference in the 2016 U.S. election discussed plans to stoke unrest and even violence inside the U.S. as recently as 2018, according to documents reviewed by NBC News. The communications laid out a new plot to manipulate and radicalize African-Americans.

The revelations come as U.S. intelligence agencies have warned of probable Russian meddling in the 2020 election.

“The unfortunate reality is that we’re seeing an adversary that will consider virtually anything to get what it wants, and if it means violence or splitting America along racial lines or eroding our trust in institutions, they’ll do it," said Frank Figliuzzi, a former assistant director of counterintelligence at the FBI and an NBC News contributor.


The far-right has a message for Europe's elite: 'We're coming'

Polls suggest far-right politicians could control as much as 18 percent of the European Parliament after this week's elections.

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United by their desire to stop migrants at Europe's external borders, "defend" European culture and identity and recover powers from the European Union for national governments, far-right lawmakers hope to transform the 28-country bloc from within.

Youthful activists and candidates are among the loudest voices clamoring for change.


Moms go undercover to fight fake autism cures in private Facebook groups

Online groups urge parents to poison autistic kids with chlorine dioxide, a form of bleach, to “cure” them.

These moms are infiltrating the groups to fight back — by sending screenshots to local Child Protective Services divisions.

“It really weighs on you, but kids are being abused,” said Melissa Eaton, a single mother in North Carolina, who joins the groups in an effort to shut them down. “I’m not the kind of person who can see something like that and just forget about it.”


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Plus


Quote of the day

"Congress plainly views itself as having sweeping authority to investigate illegal conduct of a president, before and after taking office. This court is not prepared to roll back the tide of history."

U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta in his decision ordering President Trump's accounting firm to hand over his financial records to Congress.


THINK about it

Trump's foreign policy is all bark, no bite. And adversaries like Iran know it, world affairs columnist Frida Ghitis writes in an opinion piece.


Science + Tech = MACH

Scientists found 414 million pieces of plastic debris on Australia's remote Cocos Islands. That's even worse than it sounds.

One of the scientists who authored the new report looks out at the plastic debris covering a Cocos Island beach. Silke Stuckenbrock

One inspiring thing

For Morehouse College graduate Keith Anderson, the surprise announcement by billionaire tech investor Robert F. Smith to pay off his entire class' student-loan debts was nothing short of extraordinary.

"Before graduating, my classmates had been talking about how they will have to carry the debt for the rest of their lives," said Anderson, 21, of Richmond, Virginia. "This is a weight off of everyone's back."

While Smith's promise to eliminate up to $40 million in student loans for Morehouse's nearly 400 graduates is inspiring, student advocacy and consumer groups say the act of generosity also highlights the growing burden on student borrowers who owe close to $1.5 trillion in student loan debt nationwide.


Thanks for reading the Morning Rundown.

If you have any comments — likes, dislikes — drop me an email at: petra@nbcuni.com

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Thanks, Petra