Friday's Mini-Report, 2.14.20

Today's edition of quick hits.

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By Steve Benen

Today's edition of quick hits:

* A big week for the Justice Department: "The Department of Justice has told lawyers for former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe that he will not face criminal charges for allegedly lying to investigators about a leak to the media, the ex-official's attorneys said Friday."

* A big health care ruling: "A federal appeals court rejected a Trump administration rule that allowed Arkansas and other states to impose work requirements on its low-income residents who received Medicaid benefits, further blocking a marquee issue for the president."

* Afghanistan: "The Taliban have agreed to a U.S. demand for a seven-day reduction in violence in Afghanistan that could pave the way for a withdrawal of American troops, a senior Trump administration official told reporters Friday."

* Trump's policy toward Iran is failing: "A recent C.I.A. analysis concluded that Iran, while struggling to continue funding its military activities under American sanctions, appears no closer to entering direct talks over its nuclear program.... Israeli intelligence officials have also determined that the escalating tensions have made Iran only more determined to gain a nuclear weapon."

* Widespread executive branch dysfunction: "As President Trump enters his re-election year, his administration's focus on the nation's veterans has emerged as a centerpiece of the campaign. But the agency tasked with caring for more than nine million former service members, a department he claims to have transformed, is showing signs of disarray."

* Hmm: "UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has canceled a trip to the US planned for next month after a furious phone call from President Donald Trump in which Trump slammed down the phone on the prime minister."

* The Senate is a tougher hurdle: "In a bid to revive the Equal Rights Amendment, the House on Thursday approved a measure removing a 1982 deadline for state ratification and reopening the process to amend the Constitution to prohibit discrimination based on sex."

* Ridiculous: "Over the past few months, the Trump administration has quietly been rolling out a Kafkaesque new processing policy for select categories of visas: If any fields on a form are left blank, it will automatically be rejected. Even if it makes no sense for the applicant to fill out that field. For example, if 'Apt. Number' is left blank because the immigrant lives in a house: rejected. Or if the field for a middle name is left blank because no middle name exists: rejected, too."

* Priorities: "Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Thursday defended the Pentagon's effort to strip Stars and Stripes of all of its federal funding as part of its fiscal year 2021 budget request, telling reporters in Brussels that the independent news organization is not a priority."

Enjoy the weekend.