Plus three other things you need to know today.
Federal government watchdog issues new report on Trump’s actions regarding Ukraine
According to a report released Thursday morning from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the White House budget office violated the law when it withheld military aid from Ukraine. “Faithful execution of the law does not permit the President to substitute his own policy priorities for those that the Congress has enacted into law,” the report states. “OMB withheld funds for a policy reason, which is not permitted under the Impoundment Control Act.”
McConnell releases impeachment trial rules
During President Trump’s impeachment trial, according to rules released by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday, senators must remain quiet, seated, and they cannot take electronic devices into the chamber, so there will be no live-tweeting of the proceedings. Press access will also be severely limited, as reporters will be confined to a press pen, which GOP Rep. John Kennedy of Louisiana has called “a huge mistake.”
National intelligence officials want public portion of annual threat briefing nixed
The intelligence community is lobbying Congress to skip the public portion of the upcoming annual Worldwide Threats hearing, where intelligence officials share what they believe to be the world’s biggest security threats with lawmakers. Sources told Politico that the request is an effort to avoid potentially publicly contradicting the president—which happened last year.
States can’t just refuse to accept refugees, federal judge rules
An executive order issued by the president that gave local and state governments the authority to refuse refugees from settling in their communities will not be enforced for now. In his 31-page opinion issued Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Peter Messitte said the president’s order “does not appear to serve the overall public interest,” and may contradict the Refugee Act.