An intelligence official told lawmakers that Russia was planning to interfere in the Democratic primaries as well as the general election.
Revealing Russia’s desire for a Trump win tanked intelligence official’s chance to lead
Joseph Maguire, acting director of national intelligence, was widely expected to take over the post in an official capacity until he incurred the president’s wrath last week, according to the Washington Post. Sources say in a briefing to Congress on election security—which was first reported by the New York Times—one of Maguire’s aides told lawmakers that Russia would like to see Donald Trump win a second term and had intentions of interfering in the Democratic primaries. Angered, the president announced Wednesday that he’d be replacing Maguire with Richard Grenell, who has never worked for an intelligence agency. Trump has tasked his staff with identifying officials who express unfavorable views of him and replacing them with people he deems loyal.
Campaign surrogates address immigration reform
Immigration reform has been on the backburner for the majority of the Democratic primary debates, but Thursday the presidential hopefuls sent representatives to discuss it at an Amnesty International/Buzzfeed News forum in Las Vegas. Joe Biden’s plan included reversing an Obama-heightened policy of separating detained families. Sen. Bernie Sanders is promising to dismantle ICE outright, and his campaign manager said he would also increase the number of refugee visas approved. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s roadmap was most detailed, with notes on halting the deportation of veterans, getting children out of cages, increasing the number of refugees admitted into the U.S. to 175,000, and allowing asylum-seekers with cases under review to remain in the U.S. and have legal counsel. Sen. Amy Klobuchar supports restructuring ICE but stops short of committing to back police departments that refuse to cooperate with the agency. Businessman Tom Steyer, who was the only candidate to appear in person, advanced a plan to stop nonviolent deportations and offer amnesty to immigrants already here.
GOP mass-mails copycat census forms ahead of official count
The official U.S. census count doesn’t begin until mid-March, but the Republican National Committee has already mailed thousands of forms marked “2020 Congressional District Census” to residents of California and other states. Though very similar in look to official census forms, the GOP questionnaire contains largely political questions such as reader stances on “political correctness” and use of military force in Iran. Critics fear the campaign could depress response to the actual census if residents think they’ve already completed it.
State Department defies CDC advice not to fly in infected cruise ship passengers
According to new reporting from the Washington Post, non-infected American passengers of the Diamond Princess cruise ship were flown home this week on the same planes as coronavirus-infected travelers, despite warnings from the Center for Disease Control that doing so posed too great a threat. Although the 14 infected passengers exhibited no symptoms, the CDC still feared they could spread the virus. The additional ill passengers nearly doubled the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S.