Here are quick-to-read summaries for the top six stories making news and politics today.
1. Bernie Sanders Democratic top 2020 front-runner, raises $4 million in only 12 hours
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), after announcing his intention to run for president in 2020, collected $6 million in donations within 24 hours. The overwhelming response blew away every other candidate’s early fundraising numbers after they announced their campaigns.
The amount is more than double the amount raised by Kamala Harris in her entire first day. If fundraising is an indicator, the amount raised by Sanders appears to make the 77-year-old democratic socialist the front-runner in the race to represent the Democratic Party in the 2020 presidential election.
2. Trump administration pushing for worldwide decriminalization of homosexuality
A global campaign to decriminalize homosexually in dozens of countries around the world, where it is illegal to be gay, is being led by U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, who is the administration’s highest-profile openly gay person. The focus is on decriminalization, rather than broader issues such as same-sex marriage.
The campaign was conceived after a young gay man was hanged in Iran, a top geopolitical foe of the US.
“It is concerning that, in the 21st century, some 70 countries continue to have laws that criminalize LGBTI status or conduct,” a US official said.
Officials are likely to work with the United Nations, the European Union and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, as well as other countries whose laws already allow for gay rights, in order to bring a global strategy about.
A number of U.S. embassies and diplomatic posts throughout Europe, the U.S. Mission to the E.U., the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor are also involved.
3. Putin warns will target Washington if US deploys missiles in Europe
Russian President Vladimir Putin, speaking during his State of the Nation address, said that Moscow will target Washington with its new hypersonic missiles if the US deploys in new intermediate-range missiles in Europe.
Russia’s new zircon missiles are claimed to have a range of 620 miles and travel at nine times the speed of sound, something the US is alleged to be unable to defend against. Putin says the move to aim missiles not just at European targets, but also at the United States itself, is due to the US’ recent withdrawal a Cold-era arms-control treaty.
Washington withdrew from the pact stating that Russia had violated the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. The US withdrawal from the pact allows Washington to develop new missiles.
4. Oversight panel finds Trump officials tried to rush nuclear technology to the Saudis
A new report from the House Oversight and Reform Committee alleges that the Trump administration potentially violated the law by attempting to rush the transfer of American nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia.
An interim report was issued by the staff of Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings in that cited there were “multiple whistleblowers” that raised ethical and legal concerns about the process.
The report cites “political appointees ignoring directives from top ethics advisers at the White House who repeatedly and unsuccessfully ordered senior Trump administration officials to halt their efforts,” adding that the “[multiple whistleblowers] also warned of conflicts of interest among top White House advisers that could implicate federal criminal statutes.”
The report alleges that some of the top people behind the effort were retired General Michael Flynn, who was fired in February 2017 for lying about conversations with the Russian ambassador to Vice President Pence and the FBI, and also served as an adviser to IP3 International, a private company seeking to build nuclear plants in Saudi Arabia.
The report also names Thomas Barrack, who chaired Trump’s inauguration committee.
5. Former FBI McCabe says “it’s possible” Trump is a Russian asset
Former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe said during an interview on on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 that he believes “it’s possible” that President Donald Trump is a Russian asset and thinks “that’s why we started our investigation.”
Cooper asked McCabe if he believes that Trump may still be an asset, to which the former FBI agent replied that he is “anxious” to see the conclusion of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.
6. Trump recalling $1 billion from California high-speed rail project
The US Department of Transportation Federal Railroad Administration has sent a letter to the California High-Speed Rail Authority informing it that it is terminating its agreement with the state, and therefore will not be providing California with the additional $928,620,000 allocated to the high-speed rail project.
The Department of Transportation is also “actively exploring every legal option” to recover the other $2.5 billion it has already granted California for the canceled project.
It comes following California’s canceling part of California’s high-speed rail project, the part that would connect a San Francisco to Los Angeles run, and following comments by President Donald Trump on Twitter that California should return federal money granted for the project.
California’s Governor Gavin Newsom responded to Trump’s tweet by calling the move “political retribution” for California suing Trump over the border wall, and saying the state was not giving the money back, and instead was going to use it to construct another portion of the project in the Central Valley.