TRUMP AGENDA: Military action against North Korea “on the table”
Breaking overnight: “Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned Friday that military action against North Korea was "on the table" if the country continued to develop its weapons program. "If they elevate the threat of their weapons program to a level that we believe requires action then that option is on the table," he told a press conference in South Korea.”
In the Telegraph this morning: “The US has made a formal apology to Britain after the White House accused GCHQ of helping Barack Obama spy on Donald Trump in the White House.”
Ali Vitali reports on Sean Spicer’s defense of Trump’s wiretapping claims even after congressional intelligence leaders appeared to shoot them down.
On the agenda today: Trump meets with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
From the AP: “If President Donald Trump wanted a close working relationship with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, he had a funny way of showing it during his presidential campaign.”
“A federal judge in Washington state whose order blocked President Donald Trump's first so-called "travel ban" last month on Thursday refused to apply that hold to a second, revised order. The second order remains blocked by a different judge's ruling,” writes NBC’s Phil Helsel.
The New York Times looks at how Trump’s words on the campaign trail are coming back to haunt him in court: “Outside the context of Mr. Trump’s two travel bans, few judicial rulings have addressed how much weight courts may put on statements from political candidates. Even informal remarks from sitting government officials are often ignored by courts, which can be reluctant to conduct what the Supreme Court has called “judicial psychoanalysis.” But decisions about religious discrimination allow courts to consider government officials’ real purposes, even if their stated ones are neutral.”
And from the Washington Post: “Trump and his advisers can’t keep quiet — and it’s becoming a real problem.”
The Wall Street Journal: “Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, whose confirmation hearing begins Monday, has been unusually forceful with his concerns that judges allow government agencies too much power to make policy, a red flag for liberals who worry that such views could weaken environmental, labor and health regulations. But in a twist, especially for a nominee of President Donald Trump, some of Judge Gorsuch’s best-known cases criticizing the power of the administrative state have come in defense of illegal immigrants, a sign that his approach could cut in unpredictable ideological directions.”
POLITICO writes that members of the Freedom Caucus are taking a big risk by fighting the president’s Obamacare plan, but they do have the ear of Steve Bannon.
From the New York Times, on Trump’s big budget gamble: “President Trump’s proposal on Thursday for deep cuts to the budgets of a broad part of the federal bureaucracy was billed as a tough-minded and necessary corrective to the growth of the government’s power. But even members of his own party questioned some of the cuts — and what was not being cut. The harshest criticism of Mr. Trump’s budget came from Democrats and liberal organizations. But in a city where many federal programs enjoy longstanding bipartisan support, some Republicans also assailed the president’s judgment.”
More, from the Washington Post: “Some of President Trump’s best friends in Congress sharply criticized his first budget Thursday, with defense hawks saying the proposed hike in Pentagon spending wasn’t big enough, while rural conservatives and others attacked plans to cut a wide range of federal agencies and programs.”
An important note, from the Wall Street Journal: “History shows that presidents have a hard time realizing the most ambitious of their budget-cutting plans. President Ronald Reagan proposed eliminating the Department of Education, without success.”