• White House
The Office of Special Counsel says Conway’s support for Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, a Republican, in two televised interviews amounted to violations of the law.

A federal watchdog says White House counselor Kellyanne Conway violated the federal law prohibiting government officials from using their positions to influence political campaigns.

The Office of Special Counsel, which is unrelated to Robert Mueller III's office, says Conway violated the Hatch Act twice last year when she spoke out in support of Republican Roy Moore and against his Democratic rival, Sen. Doug Jones, in the Alabama Senate race.

"Ms. Conway, in her official capacity, attempted to influence the Alabama special election by advocating for the success and failure of candidates in that race," the report stated. Her comments came in separate interviews with Fox News and CNN.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats testifies on Tuesday.
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats testifies on Tuesday. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press)

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said Tuesday that he spoke directly to President Trump about Russian cyberattacks and said it’s a “high priority” for the White House.

“He has said, ‘I assume you’re doing your job, all of you who head up these agencies,’ ” Coats testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee, quoting the president. “ ‘But if you need for me to ... direct you to do it, do it.’ ”

Coats said the meeting occurred after a recent hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee, an event that highlighted the disconnect between the president and his own national security officials who view Russian interference as an ongoing threat.

Before the 2008 financial crisis, BAC Community Bank in Stockton made about 100 mortgage loans a year. Now, after new regulations mandated in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the figure is down to about two dozen.

"We were never a big mortgage lender, but we did quite a bit more before Dodd-Frank," said Bill Trezza, the bank's chief executive. "It basically pushed us out of that to the point where we will do mortgages only for our customers if they request it."

President Trump threw a wrench Monday into long-stalled regional trade talks, saying that Mexico and Canada could avoid planned new tariffs on aluminum and steel if they agreed to make concessions to Washington in negotiations over the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Trump has frequently threatened to withdraw from NAFTA if its two pact partners don't accede to U.S. demands for a more favorable deal.

Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) at the Capitol in January.
Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) at the Capitol in January. (J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)

Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi announced Monday that he will resign effective April 1.

Cochran, who has appeared increasingly feeble in recent years, said in a statement released by his office that his health “has become an ongoing challenge.”

“I intend to fulfill my responsibilities and commitments to the people of Mississippi and the Senate through the completion of the 2018 appropriations cycle, after which I will formally retire from the U.S. Senate,” said Cochran, who is 80.

  • Congress
In a file photo, President Trump talks to House Speaker Paul D. Ryan during a meeting at the White House
In a file photo, President Trump talks to House Speaker Paul D. Ryan during a meeting at the White House (Associated Press)

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan publicly broke with President Trump on Monday, the latest Republican to call on the president to reverse his planned imposition of tariffs on steel and aluminum imports that many fear could set off a trade war.

“We are extremely worried about the consequences of a trade war and are urging the White House to not advance with this plan,” said AshLee Strong, Ryan’s spokeswoman. “The new tax reform law has boosted the economy and we certainly don't want to jeopardize those gains.”

Trump stunned Congress last week when, without apparent consultation with members of his staff, Republican leaders or trading partners, he announced that he would impose 25% tariffs on steel imports and 10% penalties on aluminum imports.

(Associated Press)

For years, lobbyists treated the Foreign Agent Registration Act the same way some drivers treat speed limits — not something to worry about if there isn’t a speed trap around the corner.

Most people registering as advocates for foreign governments or political parties didn’t bother to file their paperwork on time, according to the Department of Justice’s inspector general. Some didn’t register at all.

But that’s changing now that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III is prosecuting violations. Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign manager, is facing charges of undisclosed lobbying on behalf of Ukraine’s pro-Kremlin government. 

President Trump listens during a meeting at the White House on Thursday, March 1, 2018.
President Trump listens during a meeting at the White House on Thursday, March 1, 2018. (Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

The White House has belatedly acknowledged that President Trump had a consequential phone conversation with the British prime minister — a day after the British government broke the news.

The White House statement neglected to address the most important takeaway from the conversation, namely that Prime Minister Theresa May has “deep concern” over Trump’s new trade proposals.

The statement released Monday morning notes only the leaders’ agreement on Russia’s role in the continued conflict in Syria and a handful of matters.

As President Trump appears to lurch from crisis to crisis on the world stage, Defense Secretary James N. Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have quietly maneuvered to constrain an impulsive commander in chief, the latest sign of a national security team that is increasingly challenging the president.

Officials say the two senior Cabinet officers have slow-rolled requests for options on a wide range of policy goals, including exiting the Iran nuclear disarmament deal, reacting to missile strikes into Saudi Arabia by Iran-backed rebels in Yemen, pressuring longtime ally Pakistan by cutting U.S. military aid, and possible limited airstrikes on North Korea's nuclear infrastructure.