The Note: Alarm bells in Russia as election gets underway

The TAKE with Rick Klein

So President Donald Trump now has a 2020 campaign manager.

But his White House does not yet have a coordinated campaign to combat Russian efforts to influence the 2018 elections.

That’s the takeaway from the blunt comments of National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers, who runs the military’s cyber command and who told Congress on Tuesday that he has no policy directive or new authority to combat what he called Russia’s “sustained aggression.”

The White House responded by saying officials are considering “a number of different ways” to prevent Russian interference. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders added: “Let’s recall that this happened under Obama, not under President Trump.”

But Rogers’ warning was about the future, not the past.

It’s worth remembering that election season has already arrived; yesterday was primary day in a special House race in Arizona, and the first primaries for the November elections are now less than a week away, in Texas.

Leave aside presidential tweets about the “WITCH HUNT!” as Trump continues to call Robert Mueller’s probe.

This is the latest and perhaps loudest message that American elections are under attack, even as America begins voting again.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

President Donald Trump may be talking to governors about guns in Washington, but any changes in policy to curb gun violence will likely happen back in their home states.

That’s largely because lawmakers on Capitol Hill, so far, seem uninterested, or at least not eager, to push for new safety reforms or regulations. It’s also because many advocacy groups working on the issue of gun safety have been focused on state legislatures in recent years anyway.

Moms Demand Action, for example, has chapters in each state that largely work on state bills. According to the group’s founder, in the time since the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, more than 200 people showed up for a new-member meeting in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and just as many for another meeting in Arlington, Virginia.

In Rhode Island this week, the Democratic governor signed an executive order based on so-called “red flag” laws in other states. It will allow police officers to get warrants and remove any guns from people seen making threats or who are viewed as dangerous by those close to them.

Jennifer McDermott/APCheers erupt as Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo signs an executive order, Feb. 26, 2018, in Warwick, R.I., to establish a new policy to try to keep guns away from people who show warning signs of violence.

The Illinois statehouse this week is moving on a bill that would strengthen requirements and enforcement for gun-dealer licensing.

And in California, state lawmakers have proposed several new bills safety bills since the Florida mass shooting.

The TIP with Serena Marshall

Judge Gonzalo Curiel, whom President Donald Trump once derided during the general election campaign for his ruling on Trump University, sided with the administration in a case challenging the right to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

The case challenged the administration’s ability to curtail certain regulations, namely environmental, in building the structure. The administration argued it had authority under previous law, but the state of California and advocacy groups argued the administration was overreaching.

The judge decided the administration could curtail those regulations in the name of national security.

During the campaign, Trump took issue with Curiel’s handling of fraud claims against Trump University, which has since closed. Trump cited the Mexican heritage of Curiel, who was born in Indiana, as a basis for bias in that ruling.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

  • Reverend Billy Graham at will lie in honor at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda starting at 11 a.m. through March 1. President Donald Trump, First Lady Melania Trump and some congressional leaders will attend the arrival ceremony.
  • The president meets with bipartisan members of Congress to discuss school and community safety at the White House at 3 p.m.
  • Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort is scheduled to appear for an arraignment and status conference at the U.S. District Court at 9:30 a.m.
  • Mississippi State Senator Chris McDaniel will be holding a “Remember Mississippi Rally” at Jones Junior College in McDaniel’s hometown of Ellisville, Mississippi, to announce his senate candidacy.
  • U.S. Senator Chris Coons, D-Del., a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, will participate in a one-on-one discussion on U.S. foreign policy with Hudson Institute Distinguished Fellow Walter Russell Mead at 11:30 a.m.
  • QUOTE OF THE DAY

    “This is a breathtakingly broad claim a privilege that I don’t think any court would sustain, and I think the White House knows that. This is not executive privilege, this is executive stonewalling.” — Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said after White House communications director Hope Hicks refused to answer questions from the House Intelligence Committee about the presidential transition and her White House career on Tuesday.

    NEED TO READ

    Top Dem: Hope Hicks refuses to answer questions about time in White House. White House communications director Hope Hicks appeared before the House Intelligence Committee Tuesday for a closed-door interview related to Russian interference in the 2016 election, but refused to answer questions about her time in the White House, according to Republicans and Democrats on the panel. (Pierre Thomas and Benjamin Siegel) http://abcn.ws/2CJKhN4

    Jared Kushner’s security clearance downgraded: Sources. The president’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner has been stripped of his temporary high-level security clearance under new rules imposed by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly designed to crack down on West Wing staff with long-pending background investigations, sources tell ABC News. (Justin Fishel, Tara Palmeri and Katherine Faulders) http://abcn.ws/2EZgLcd

    States grapple with gun laws after Florida shooting. Ideas on how to deal with gun violence in schools are appearing in legislatures throughout the 50 states in the wake of the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida. (Emily Goodin) http://abcn.ws/2BTifSq

    Legal defense fund for Trump administration and campaign staff is now active. A legal defense fund set up to support past and present members of the Trump administration and campaign staff with legal expenses incurred via investigations led by special counsel Robert Mueller or House and Senate committees is now active. (John Santucci and Katherine Faulders) http://abcn.ws/2FCeGzX

    Independent candidates unite to support each other’s campaigns. Some independent political candidates are working together to produce something party candidates get from their national organization: support and structure to run stronger campaigns. (Emily Goodin) http://abcn.ws/2sYVYjl

    11 Marines affected in hazmat incident at Ft. Myer near Pentagon. The FBI and NCIS are investigating a hazmat incident Tuesday at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall next to Arlington National Cemetery and close to the Pentagon. (Luis Martinez and Sarah Kolinovsky) http://abcn.ws/2oxUcjA

    GOP leaders play down need to pass gun reforms. Breaking their silence on the issue, Republican leaders on Tuesday downplayed the need to pass gun reforms. (Mary Bruce, John Parkinson and Ali Rogin) http://abcn.ws/2BUOEI8

    GOP lawmaker calls on Trump to ‘pause’ all sales of high-powered guns. Florida Rep. Brian Mast was enjoying a peaceful day at the pool with his kids last week, legally carrying his concealed pistol, when a scary thought struck him. (Avery Miller) http://abcn.ws/2oui3kO

    Trump names new advisory chairman, vows to make HBCUs ‘a major priority.’ A year after vowing to make historically black colleges and universities “a major priority,” President Donald Trump named John C. Taylor Jr. — who is familiar with the challenges these schools face — the new chairman of a White House board of advisers aimed at working with those institutions. (Erica Y. King) http://abcn.ws/2CpxMKz

    HUD spent $31,000 on new dining set for Ben Carson’s office suite. The Department of Housing and Urban Development spent more than $31,000 on a new table and chairs for the dining room adjacent to Secretary Ben Carson’s office — revelations that come just months after an official who warned against the expense was moved to a new role within the department. (Stephanie Ebbs) http://abcn.ws/2CN6LMQ

    Ultra-conservative to enter Mississippi Senate race against Trump-backed incumbent. The Mississippi Senate race looks like it is about to get very interesting. A new, yet very familiar, challenger is expected to enter the ring just hours before the March 1 filing deadline. (Nia Phillip) http://abcn.ws/2F1UCG3

    Source.