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March 21, 2019

Republicans estimate President Trump needs $1 billion to win in 2020 — and that he needs some unlikely donors to make that happen.

With several Democrats' fundraising totals already leaping into the tens of millions, the GOP knows it needs its wealthy party members who fought Trump in 2016 to change allegiances this time around. And to make that happen, Vice President Mike Pence — the less abrasive of America's executive duo — is taking to the golf course, Politico reports.

On Monday, Pence spoke to several big-dollar GOP donors, including billionaire investor Paul Singer, at a surf and turf dinner at California's Pebble Beach golf course. Singer donated millions to an anti-Trump PAC in 2016, but that wasn't apparent from the way Pence "thanked him for his years of financial support to the party and conservative causes" on Monday, Politico says. Pence also brought Singer to the White House to share "detailed briefings on the administration's legislative agenda," Politico continues, perhaps because Singer did reportedly end up giving $1 million to Trump's inauguration committee.

The Pebble Beach dinner was just one example of how Pence can "translate Trump" into a language conservatives want to hear, says David McIntosh, who heads a former anti-Trump group that's more anti-Beto O'Rourke this time around. Still, Pence's dinner party didn't completely convince 2016 anti-Trumper Art Pope to donate to Trump in 2020. He may "remain on the sidelines" this time instead of publicly opposing Trump, though, and he expects more former anti-Trumpers to do the same, Politico notes.

Read more about Pence's mission at Politico. Kathryn Krawczyk

9:25 p.m.

Now that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's redacted report has been released, some people are demanding President Trump's impeachment while others say there's no need to act, but there is a middle ground, Hillary Clinton writes in an op-ed published Wednesday night by The Washington Post.

The report's "definitive conclusion" is simple, Clinton said: the 2016 presidential election "was corrupted, our democracy assaulted, our sovereignty and security violated." History has shown a way forward from here, she said, and that involves Congress holding "substantive hearings" and the formation of an independent and bipartisan commission to "help protect our elections."



Clinton admits that the matter is "personal for me, and some might say I'm not the right messenger," but while serving as a senator and secretary of state, she saw the ascent of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and "knows firsthand that he seeks to weaken our country." Congress must take the Mueller report and use it "as a road map. It's up to members of both parties to see where that road map leads — to the eventual filing of articles of impeachment, or not."

In addition to hearings that "build on the Mueller report and fill in its gaps, not jump straight to an up-or-down vote on impeachment," a commission like the one created after the 9/11 attacks is necessary because "the president of the United States has proved himself unwilling to defend our nation from a clear and present danger," Clinton said.

She also has a message for House Democrats, reminding them that during Watergate, Congress was able to pass the Endangered Species Act, Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1973, and War Powers Act. They need to "stay focused on the sensible agenda that voters demanded in the midterms, from protecting health care to investing in infrastructure," as it's "not only possible to move forward on multiple fronts at the same time, it's essential." Read the entire op-ed at The Washington Post. Catherine Garcia

7:58 p.m.

Bridget Anne Kelly was sentenced to 13 months in federal prison on Wednesday due to her role in the New Jersey Bridgegate scandal, and while standing outside the courthouse, asked why her onetime boss, former Gov. Chris Christie (R), got off scot free.

Prosecutors accused Kelly, Christie's former deputy chief of staff, and Bill Baroni, the former deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, of purposely closing lanes near the George Washington Bridge in 2013 in order to cause a traffic nightmare and get back at the town's Democratic mayor for not endorsing Christie's re-election. They were found guilty in November 2016, but after a federal appeals court tossed part of the corruption case against her, Kelly had to be re-sentenced, NJ.com reports.

Kelly has long said Christie, who was never charged in the scandal, and others knew about the plan, but did not attempt to intervene. "How did all these men all escape justice?" she asked. "Chris Christie was allowed, without rebuttal from anyone, to say out of one side of his mouth that I was a low-level staffer. A woman only good enough to plan menus and invite people to events. And then say out of the other side that I was somehow powerful enough to shut down the George Washington Bridge."

Christie, she continued, is "a bully, and the days of you calling me a liar and destroying my life are over." A spokesman for the former governor told NJ.com he "had no knowledge of this scheme prior to or during these lane realignments, and had no role in authorizing them." Catherine Garcia

7:04 p.m.

The National Security Agency has recommended the White House drop the controversial phone surveillance program that was secretly launched during the George W. Bush administration following the 9/11 attacks, people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal.

The program, which collects data on U.S. phone calls and text messages, was started without a court order, and its existence wasn't known until former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden leaked information to journalists about it in 2013. After saying for years that the program is a key tool in finding and thwarting terrorism plots, senior NSA officials now believe its many logistical and legal issues outweigh any intelligence benefits, the Journal reports.

Earlier this year, the NSA had to stop the program due to "frustrations about legal-compliance issues," several people told the Journal. While it is authorized by Congress, the White House ultimately decides whether to press for the program's renewal. If the White House follows the NSA's recommendation, the program's legal authority will expire in December. Catherine Garcia

6:06 p.m.

Rev. Franklin Graham is blasting 2020 candidate Pete Buttigieg again in a string of anti-gay tweets.

The pro-Trump preacher said Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana should be "repentant" for being gay instead of being "praised or politicized," he wrote in a tweet on Wednesday. Buttigieg, who is openly gay and Christian, recently said Democrats and Republicans could agree that "God does not have a political party."

"God doesn't have a political party," Graham affirmed. "But God does have commandments, laws & standards," wrote Graham on Twitter. "Mayor Buttigieg says he's a gay Christian. As a Christian I believe the Bible which defines homosexuality as sin, something to be repentant of, not something to be flaunted, praised or politicized. The Bible says marriage is between a man & a woman—not two men, not two women."

Earlier this week, Graham, the president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association condemned anti-LGBT hecklers at the 2020 candidate's Iowa rallies, but also berated the candidate with Leviticus scriptures, which calls same-sex relationships an "abomination," reports the New York Daily News.

Graham's campaign against the 2020 hopeful comes as his church tries to demote the "success of the gay agenda." Buttigieg's campaign has not responded to Graham's outburst. Tatyana Bellamy-Walker

5:44 p.m.

A little over a month after New York Attorney General Letitia James issued subpoenas to Deutsche Bank for records tied to funding for several Trump Organization projects, the bank has started to hand over the documents, CNN reports.

The documents are reportedly related to loans made to President Trump and his company, including ones for the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.; the Trump National Doral Miami; the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago; and the unsuccessful effort to buy the NFL's Buffalo Bills. James issued the subpoenas after Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen publicly testified against the president before Congress in February, saying Trump inflated his assets to secure loans from Deutsche Bank.

Despite reported apprehension by many high-ranking officials at the bank, Trump's businesses have reportedly borrowed $300 million from Deutsche Bank to finance the projects listed above.

A spokeswoman for Deutsche Bank declined to comment on the situation, CNN reports. Tim O'Donnell

5:30 p.m.

Oh, the wonders of Silicon Valley.

Facebook said on Wednesday that it expects to face a fine of up to $5 billion from the Federal Trade Commission for allegedly violating a 2011 privacy consent decree. The New York Times reports that the total would be a record penalty for a technology company by the agency. But at the end of the day, it doesn't seem like the social media company will lose much sleep over the amount.

Facebook disclosed the fine in its quarterly financial results, estimating that it would take a one-time charge of $3 billion to $5 billion from the FTC. But even when accounting for the hit, CNBC reports Facebook still exceeded revenue expectations — the company took in $15.08 billion for the quarter and met its target for daily active user growth.

As much criticism as CEO Mark Zuckerberg and the company have faced recently for playing fast and loose with user data, the ultimate insignificance is a sobering reminder of just how much of a giant Facebook really is. Tim O'Donnell

5:29 p.m.

Scientists have found a creature so strange that "perplexing" is literally part of its name.

The new species Callichimaera perplexa, literally translated to "perplexing beautiful chimaera," is a pretty good description of what this new find is. The aquatic creature is an ancient crab, thought to have lived about 95 million years ago, but its unusual bodily makeup reminded the researchers who discovered it of a chimaera, the Greek mythological creature known for being a mash-up of various different animals.

A team of scientists, led by palaeontologist Javier Luque, made their discovery in Colombia by finding new fossils that have revealed a whole new branch on the evolutionary tree. Callichimaera perplexa has been described as "the strangest crab that has ever lived," but the importance of these findings goes beyond the creature's bizarre looks, the Independent explained.

The fossils were so well-preserved that the scientists were able to see an incredible level of detail, including "paddle-like legs and large eyes." This hints that these ancient crabs lived their lives swimming instead of crawling, and likely developed the ability to hunt for prey at night. Overall, the discovery is making everyone reconsider "what makes a crab a crab," said Luque.

The research, published on Wednesday in Science Advances, offers a look at the fossil specimens that were found, as well as a 3-D model that scientists were able to reconstruct from what they gathered. Learn more at the Independent. Shivani Ishwar

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