Michael Bloomberg rules himself out of 2020 presidential bid – as it happened

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Billionaire former New York mayor says he will not run for president in 2020 – follow all the latest

1.08am GMT

Wrapping up for the evening. Here’s what happened today:

12.26am GMT

Congressman Adam Schiff, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, responded today to Trump’s complaints that Democrats were taking a “wrecking ball” to his life, by rebuking Republicans for not investigating the Administration sooner.

“Two years of a Republican Congress that did no oversight whatsoever,” Schiff said to CNN reporter Manu Raji. “Every day we learn about new impropriety. For a president that talked about draining the swamp, he has filled the swamp to overflowing”.

Schiff, responding to Trump saying Dems are trying to take a “wrecking ball” to his life, told me: “I’m not surprised he doesn’t like the idea of oversight because I think he’s all too conscious of the corruption large and small in the administration.” pic.twitter.com/5si4bEQ9uH

11.53pm GMT

Wilbur Ross, who heads the Commerce Department, is trying to pushback next week’s hearing in front of the House Oversight Committee, ABC reports. The Department is citing the significant scale of documents requested by the committee as the reason for delay.

The high-level Trump Administration official is currently scheduled for questioning on March 14, as House Democrats hope to hear more about his attempt to add a citizenship question to the next census, a move that was blocked by a federal judge in New York, and investigate ethics issues that have arisen after Ross misled regulators and failed to divest from assets that could cause a conflict of interest.

The letter from the Commerce Department references a communication from Democrats on the Oversight Committee last month that requested a large-scale document production related to Ross’s financial disclosures and ethics obligations.

‘In the days following our receipt of that letter, it became clear that the Committee intended to expand the scope of the March 14 hearing to ask the Secretary questions about his personal finances and ethics obligations – topics that we did not anticipate nor expect to be covered in such detail and depth based on the frequent and cordial communications between our staffs,’ it reads”.

10.53pm GMT

A new Quinnipiac University poll, released today, finds that the majority of Americans believe the president has committed crimes, both before and while in office.

Of the registered voters polled, 64% said Trump committed crimes before becoming president, and 45% believe he’d done so as president.

from new Quinnipiac poll:

the only demographic groups giving Trump majority approval for job performance are white men (55%) and non-college whites (52%)

among those groups, 54% of white men and 57% of non-college whites also say Trump committed crimes before becoming president

10.43pm GMT

Based on information from Michael Cohen’s explosive testimony, New York regulators are now investigating whether the Trump Organization inflated assets to insurance companies, New York Times reports.

On Monday, the state’s Department of Financial Services issued a wide-ranging 9-page subpoena to the organization’s insurance broker, a company called Aon, for details on all Trump’s communications with the company and any information dating back to 2009 that could help prosecutors identify whether or not the president committed insurance fraud.

The regulators are also looking at compensation for the current and former Aon employees who handled the Trump Organization account, seeking information about their incentives, bonus payments or commissions. They are seeking similar contracts and agreements between Aon and Mr. Trump.

A spokeswoman for Aon, Donna Mirandola, said the company intended to cooperate, adding: “We do not comment on specific client matters.” The White House referred a request for comment to the Trump Organization, which did not respond to requests for comment. A spokesman for the Department of Financial Services declined to comment.

The subpoena came just days after Michael Cohen indicated to the House Oversight Committee that the Trump Organization inflated the value of its assets to insurance companies. https://t.co/jm5HpNNWwa

10.24pm GMT

Gabrielle Canon here, taking over for Lauren Gambino for the evening.

Senator Bernie Sanders, a 2020 presidential hopeful already ahead of the pack in the polls, has agreed to run and govern as a Democrat if he wins, the Wall Street Journal reports.

NEW: Bernie Sanders signs DNC loyalty pledge saying “I am a member of the Democratic Party” and that he will run for president as a Democrat in 2020. pic.twitter.com/TiXWtmQwle

10.09pm GMT

10.00pm GMT

Before I sign off for the day, a final, light-hearted post on a deep-seated American problem.

In 2019, there are few aspects of daily life that cross the partisan divide, from the coast we live on to our choices of news, grocery stores, TV shows and cars.

Democrats will be heavy consumers of cognac and brandy, both favored by African-American drinkers, who overwhelmingly lean left. Mexican beers such as Corona, Tecate, and Modelo Especial are also popular with Democrats, especially those who don’t turn out regularly on Election Day—that is, they’re popular with young people, whose turnout numbers lag behind older groups. And because Heineken drinkers are concentrated in the Northeast—not friendly territory for Republicans—they, too, skew Democratic.

Republicans have an entirely different alcoholic profile. “They’re big bourbon drinkers,” Feltus says, “and bourbon is most popular in the Republican South.” GOP voters also tend to be older than Democrats and therefore more likely to be paying more attention to their expanding waistlines, which explains why a watery light beer like Michelob Ultra is the most Republican-skewing drink on the chart. Miller Lite, Coors Light, Bud Light, and Busch Light aren’t far behind.

9.49pm GMT

First Lady Melania Trump is in Las Vegas where she will participate in a town hall on the opioid crisis as she wraps up her Be Best West Coast tour.

During the event, Trump challenged the media to give the opioid crisis “the same amount of coverage that you do to idle gossip or trivial stories.” (read more from our expansive coverage of the opioid crisis here.)

Things I learned while watching this event: Melania Trump just renovated the White House bowling alley.

9.41pm GMT

In other 2020 news, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams isn’t ruling out a run for president.

“I need women of color, particularly black women, to understand that our achievements should not be diminished,” Abrams told the New York Times in an interview published today. She added, “Now I’m not saying I would be the best candidate, but I’m not going to dismiss it out of hand the way others do.”

9.27pm GMT

For those keeping track at home, Bloomberg is the fourth 2020 announcement this week. (He’s the fifth if you really thought Hillary Clinton might be considering a run and crossed her off the list.)

On Monday, former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper jumped in the race while former attorney general Eric Holder took himself out of contention. This morning senator Jeff Merkley announced he would seek a third term in the Senate rather than run for president.

Four 2020 announcements so far this week – Hickenlooper in, while Holder, Merkley and Bloomberg are out – and it’s only Tuesday afternoon

Related: Who’s running in 2020? The full list of Democrats vying to take on Trump

9.07pm GMT

Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg will not run for president, he announced in an opinion piece for Bloomberg News titled “Our Highest Office, My Deepest Obligation: I’m not running for president, but I am launching a new campaign: Beyond Carbon.”

So as I’ve thought about a possible presidential campaign, the choice before me has become clear. Should I devote the next two years to talking about my ideas and record, knowing that I might never win the Democratic nomination? Or should I spend the next two years doubling down on the work that I am already leading and funding, and that I know can produce real and beneficial results for the country, right now?

I’ve come to realize that I’m less interested in talking than doing. And I have concluded that, for now, the best way for me to help our country is by rolling up my sleeves and continuing to get work done.

8.45pm GMT

The White House has rejected a request from House Democrats for documents relate to the security clearance process, according to a reporter in the Washington Post.

The move escalates the standoff between Democrats and the Trump White House, an raises the specter of a subpoena from the White House.

8.35pm GMT

Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb is resigning, Axios reported. He oversaw the crackdown on electronic cigarettes and helped lead the administration’s response to the opioid epidemic.

Axios wrote that the commute between Washington and Connecticut, where his family, including three young children live, was taking a toll.

Scott Gottlieb is resigning because of “the difficulty of commuting back and forth between” Washington and Connecticut, where his 3 young kids live. https://t.co/ca9gDVx6WI

8.28pm GMT

The number of migrant families crossing the US-Mexico border is on the rise, according to border enforcement officials.

More than 76,000 migrants crossed the border without authorization in February, twice the number of people who crossed during the same period last year. The New York Times reported that the number of families crossing the southern border has broken records in four of the last five months.

7.47pm GMT

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has promised to bring up the Green New Deal for a vote in the chamber, as a way of forcing Demorats to go on the record over the plan Republicans believe will be politically damaging for them. The Democrats who oppose the sweeping plan could risk inflaming the activist base that supports the bold action.

Mitch McConnell says he will bring the Green New Deal up for a vote in the Senate in “the next couple weeks.”

Of course the GND does not exist as a piece of legislation so this will be a resolution crafted to put Democrats in an awkward spot.

McConnell predicts that “at the end of the day” Trump will get a resolution that he will then veto, and the veto will be sustained. (This is the safe bet at this point.)

7.35pm GMT

Trump called the House judiciary’s document request a “disgrace to our country”.

“The campaign begins,” he said, taking just one question from reporters after signing legislation to establish a task force dedicated to preventing veteran suicide.

7.16pm GMT

Trump is due to sign an executive order regarding a “National Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End Suicide” soon, and with the press pool having been ushered into place we might be about to hear from the president directly.

In the meantime, here’s White House press secretary Sarah Sanders’ statement about on “Chairman Nadler’s fishing expedition” – which isn’t the off-beat children’s book it might sound like, but rather what the Trump administration is calling the House judiciary chair’s 81 letters to Trumpworld people and entities yesterday, seeking documentation.

Statement on Chairman Nadler’s fishing expedition. pic.twitter.com/tBsVzrtGYg

7.01pm GMT

Two months after abruptly announcing that US troops would leave Syria, prompting controversy and fallout including the resignation of his defense secretary and his envoy to multinational forces fighting the Islamic State, Trump is on record backing a continuing American presence in the country “100%”.

NBC News obtained a letter sent to Trump by a bipartisan group of senators applauding his change of plan, which was quietly announced last month. You can see it here, including the president’s Sharpie-applied notes.

Related: America’s Kurdish allies risk being wiped out – by Nato | David Graeber

6.45pm GMT

The House judiciary, oversight, foreign affairs and intelligence committees made headlines on Monday, with requests for documentation from and interviews with key figures throughout Trumpworld.

Today, ABC News reports that the ways and means committee is seeking to construct an “air-tight” legal strategy by which to compel Donald Trump to release his personal tax returns for the last 10 years.

Related: We need tax police – and they should go after the likes of Donald Trump | David Cay Johnston

6.30pm GMT

A coalition of 21 states has filed a lawsuit to block the Trump administration from the Title X family planning program that would bar clinics receiving federal money from referring patients for abortion.

The impact of the rule change would effectively strip tens of millions of dollars from Planned Parenthood and shift the funding to faith-based clinics.

6.07pm GMT

The FBI is looking into a threat against Minnesota congresswoman Ilhan Omar that was written on a bathroom stall and posted on social media, according to the Pioneer Press.

The paper reported that the FBI is in the “initial stages” of assessing the threat. The FBI is involved because Omar is a federal officeholder.

5.57pm GMT

In 1974, Joe Biden reportedly said: “When it comes to civil rights and civil liberties, I’m a liberal but that’s it. I’m really quite conservative on most other issues.”

Kamala Harris was 10. Cory Booker was five. That was the same year Julián Castro was born and several years before Pete Buttigieg and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard were born.

Joe Biden in 1974, dug up by @zachdcarter: “When it comes to civil rights and civil liberties, I’m a liberal but that’s it. I’m really quite conservative on most other issues.” https://t.co/gUqKMleEGe

5.39pm GMT

Democratic congressman Ted Lieu of California and Don Beyer of Virginia, have formally submitted a request to the US Justice Department over a security clearance issued to White House adviser Jared Kushner, who is the president’s son-in-law.

.@RepDonBeyer & I have made a criminal referral of Jared Kushner to @TheJusticeDept.

Making false statements or omitting material info on SF-86 security form is punishable by up to 5 years in prison. More info at @politico huddle. Here’s the letter: https://t.co/yq4H1zbhux.

5.25pm GMT

Maine senator Susan Collins, a Republican up for re-election in 2020, says she will oppose Chad Readler, Trump’s nominee for a federal appellate judge.

Sen. Susan Collins said Tuesday she will vote against Chad Readler, President Donald Trump’s nominee for the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals who has come under fire from Democrats over role in ACA lawsuit, per @tedbarrettcnn

5.17pm GMT

Trump will sign an executive order this afternoon setting up a task force to combat veteran suicides. The initiative will be called the “National Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End Veteran Suicide,” or PREVENTS, and led by Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie

Trump will sign an executive order today to create a Cabinet-level task force to prevent veteran suicide. The initiative follows a report released in December that found VA suicide prevention outreach “dropped off” after Trump took office.https://t.co/XzqFRvuOe8

5.03pm GMT

Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer told Fox News that he will cooperate with the House investigation into Trump’s ties with Russia.

“There’s nothing that I have to hide,” he said in the interview.

Spicer: “There is nothing that I have to hide” pic.twitter.com/dXZsfyHw3z

5.01pm GMT

California congressman Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, has hired veteran prosecutor Daniel Goldman to join his panel’s investigation of the Trump Administration.

The New Yorker reported that Goldman, who served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York from 2007 to 2017, joined the committee’s staff as a senior adviser and the director of investigations. The committee is leading the House’s investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 Presidential campaign.

4.22pm GMT

Sixty days into the 116th Congress – one congressional seat remains unfilled. And the seat will remain unaccounted for until at least September, after the results of the November election were thrown out due to concerns about wide-spread ballot tampering.

According to the Associated Press, North Carolina’s elections board announced on Monday that the party primaries for the state’s 9th congressional district will be held on May 14. If both parties handily choose their nominee, the general election will be September 10. If not, there will be a run-off primary contest and the general election could be delayed.

4.08pm GMT

Ohio teen Ethan Lindenberger who chose to be vaccinated against his mother’s wishes will testify before Congress on Tuesday.

“I’m happy to share that I’ll be testifying at a hearing for the committee of health, education labor, and pensions about the importance of vaccinations!” he wrote on Twitter, and included a video.

I’m happy to share that I’ll be testifying at a hearing for the committee of health, education labor, and pensions about the importance of vaccinations! Check out the video here!https://t.co/sPM12poJVi

Related: No link between autism and MMR, affirms major study

4.02pm GMT

Senator Bernie Sanders is ticking off the early voting states after formally launching his presidential campaign in Brooklyn and Chicago last weekend. His campaign announced that he will hold a rally in Concord, New Hampshire on Sunday morning following events in Iowa on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

3.57pm GMT

A controversial US surveillance program revealed in the Guardian by the National Security Agency whistleblower Ed Snowden in 2013, has not been used for six months and is unlikely to be renewed, a key congressional aide has said.

Under the version of the program, the NSA collected the communication records of millions of US citizens indiscriminately and in bulk, regardless of whether or not they were suspected of wrongdoing.

The administration actually hasn’t been using it for the past six months because of problems with the way in which that information was collected and possibly collected on US citizens, [and] in the way that was transferred from private companies to the administration … I’m actually not certain that the administration will want to start that back up,” Luke Murry, the national security adviser to Republican House of Representatives minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, told the national security website Lawfare.

Related: US surveillance scheme unlikely to be renewed, says key adviser

3.45pm GMT

A new book by veteran Democratic foreign policy adviser Trina Vargo accuses Bill and Hillary Clinton of nepotism, dishonesty and vindictiveness – even trying to get a grant to study in Ireland for their daughter’s boyfriend.

The Guardian’s Ireland correspondent, Rory Carroll writes that the book represents an “assault on a previously untouched part of the Clinton political legacy” in Ireland.

Related: Clintons accused of nepotism in book on US-Ireland relations

3.28pm GMT

In an era of tribalism and partisanship, some 2020 candidates hope to rise above the fray with an appeal to what they believe is a yearning for cross-party congeniality and consensus-building. But veterans of the Obama White House tell the Daily Beast that such an approach is futile.

There’s this sort of older way of thinking about politics where it’s all about personal relationships… That’s not how politics works,” Dan Pfeiffer, a former senior adviser to Obama, told the website. “Barack Obama and Mitch McConnell had shared a bottle of whiskey once and McConnell went out and stole a Supreme Court seat from him.”

3.02pm GMT

This is quite the story about elderly Trump critics who fear they’ll die without ever knowing the conclusion of the Mueller investigation, by NPR’s Tim Mak.

A son recounts his father’s dying words: “It just was quiet for a little while and then he just sits up in bed halfway and looks at me and he goes, ‘S***, I’m not going to see the Mueller report, am I?’ And that was really the last coherent thing that he said.

2.49pm GMT

Ty Cobb, the mustachioed Washington lawyer who represented the White House in the Russia investigations has some thoughts about Robert Mueller.

“I don’t feel the same way about Mueller,” Cobb said in an interview with ABC News’ podcast The Investigation. “I don’t feel the investigation is a witch hunt.”

EXCLUSIVE: Ty Cobb, who represented the White House while special counsel Robert Mueller ramped up his probe, tells @ABC he considers Mueller “an American hero” and does not share President Trump’s view that the Russia probe is a politically motivated hoax https://t.co/TaXRbysfFA pic.twitter.com/gH194t2hKd

2.37pm GMT

In other big 2020 news… Hillary Clinton definitively ruled out a run for president next year.

I’m not running, but I’m going to keep on working and speaking and standing up for what I believe,” she said in an interview with News 12 Long Island.

Related: Hillary Clinton rules out running for president in 2020

2.26pm GMT

Trump is tweeting again about “PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT” and the what he calls “the greatest overreach in the history of our country.”

The greatest overreach in the history of our Country. The Dems are obstructing justice and will not get anything done. A big, fat, fishing expedition desperately in search of a crime, when in fact the real crime is what the Dems are doing, and have done!

PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT!

Republican Approval Rating just hit 93%. Sorry Haters! MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!

2.17pm GMT

House Democratic leaders will this week vote on a resolution condemning anti-Semitism after Minnesota congresswoman Ilan Omar again sparked controversy with the suggestion that pro-Israeli activists “push for allegiance to a foreign country.”

The draft resolution “acknowledges the dangerous consequences of perpetuating anti-Semitic stereotypes” and “rejects anti-Semitism as hateful expressions of intolerance that are contradictory to the values that define the people of the United States,” according to the Washington Post. But it does not name Omar.

It is disturbing that Rep. Omar continues to perpetuate hurtful anti-Semitic stereotypes that misrepresent our Jewish community. Additionally, questioning support for the U.S.-Israel relationship is unacceptable. (1/2)

One of the things that is hurtful about the extent to which reprimand is sought of Ilhan is that no one seeks this level of reprimand when members make statements about Latinx + other communities (during the shutdown, a GOP member yelled “Go back to Puerto Rico!” on the floor). https://t.co/MwrRN4v4DG

Voting to condemn antisemitism is fine, even if you feel compelled to do it twice. But I worry that accusation is a way to kill all debate about policy regarding Israel. And folks need some new, non inflammatory language to be supportive of Israel but opposed to Bibi’s policies.

2.01pm GMT

Good morning, happy Mardis Gras and welcome to our live coverage of the news in Washington.

It is relatively quiet here this morning, save for the fallout from this late-breaking Wall Street Journal report.

Now that they realize the only Collusion with Russia was done by Crooked Hillary Clinton & the Democrats, Nadler, Schiff and the Dem heads of the Committees have gone stone cold CRAZY. 81 letter sent to innocent people to harass them. They won’t get ANYTHING done for our Country!

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Source: russia
Link : Michael Bloomberg rules himself out of 2020 presidential bid – as it happened

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