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Today in politics

By Meg Wagner, CNN
updated 11:42 AM ET, Wed March 28, 2018
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12:40 p.m. ET, March 20, 2018

Trump says "terrible" bombings in Austin done by "very, very sick" person or people

President Trump has commented on the bombings in Austin, calling them terrible and describing the bomber as a "very very sick individual."

The President added: "Local, state and federal law enforcement working hand in hand to get to the bottom of it. This is obviously a very, very sick individual or maybe these are sick people, and we will get to the bottom of it. We will be very strong. We are searching what's going on in Austin — a great place, a tremendous place — It is absolutely disgraceful."

12:39 p.m. ET, March 20, 2018

Trump says he'll probably meet Putin "in the not-too-distant future"

Trump said he spoke to Vladimir Putin today, and he congratulated the Russian President on his recent election win.

"The call had also to do with the fact that we will probably get together in the not-too-distant future so that we can discuss arms, we can discuss the arms race," Trump said.

"We had a very good call and I suspect that we'll probably be meeting in the not-too-distant future to discuss the arms race, which is getting out of control," he said.

He continued: "I think probably we'll be seeing president Putin in the not-too-distant future."

12:24 p.m. ET, March 20, 2018

Here's what Trump and the Saudi Crown Prince will talk about today

From CNN's Allie Malloy

President Trump in his meeting with the Saudi Crown Prince will discuss a range of topics including “Iran’s aggression” in the Middle East and the support Russia offers to both Iran and Syria, saying that the two countries will look for ways to make “Russia pay a price” for its aggressions, according to senior administration officials.

The Senior Administration officials say Trump still believes unity is critical in the Gulf and still wants to organize a meeting with all of the Gulf Leaders, despite ongoing disagreements over Qatar.

The officials said the two countries will also discuss Saudi’s nuclear ambitions. 

12:19 p.m. ET, March 19, 2018

NYC mayor announces $22 million investment into combatting opioid epidemic

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a $22 million annual investment into the citywide plan to combat the opioid epidemic – an investment that will create peer intervention programs at more hospitals, increase naloxone distribution and training, and connect more people with treatment, his office said in a statement.

With this new investment the city will spend $60million annually to reduce opioid overdose deaths, the city of New York said in a press release. More New Yorkers died from drug overdose in 2016 than they did from suicides, homicides, or motor vehicle crashes combined, the release said.

12:10 p.m. ET, March 19, 2018

President Trump & Melania Trump will head to New Hampshire to deliver remarks on combatting the opioid crisis

The President’s White House departure has been pushed back to 12:20pE.

11:56 a.m. ET, March 19, 2018

Here's what is in Trump's three-pronged opioid plan

President Donald Trump will roll out new plans to tackle the country's opioid epidemic on Monday in New Hampshire, the White House said Sunday.

The plan will include stiffer penalties for high-intensity drug traffickers, including the death penalty for some, Andrew Bremberg, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, told reporters Sunday.

Trump's long-awaited plan will focus on three areas: Law enforcement and interdiction, prevention and education through a sizable advertising campaign, improving the ability to fund treatment through the federal government, and help those impacted by the epidemic find jobs while fighting addiction, Bremberg and White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said.

11:54 a.m. ET, March 19, 2018

Kushner Company statement on report of misleading property paperwork

From CNN's Cristina Alesci

In response to reports that Jared Kushner’s family business skirted New York City laws to quickly profit off of buildings, a Kushner company spokesperson said in a message to CNN:

"Kushner Companies values all of our tenants and takes our legal and ethical responsibilities very seriously. Our development team has renovated thousands of apartments with minimal complaints over the past 30 years. If mistakes or typographical errors are identified, corrective action is taken immediately with no financial benefit to the company. The investigation is trying to create an issue where none exists. Kushner Companies did not intentionally falsify DOB filings in an effort to harass any tenants."

11:52 a.m. ET, March 19, 2018

Trump tweets "WITCH HUNT" following his attacks on Mueller

From CNN's Saba Hamedy and Kaitlan Collins

President Donald Trump on Monday continued his Twitter attack on special counsel Robert Mueller, calling the ongoing investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 election a "witch hunt."

"A total WITCH HUNT with massive conflicts of interest!" Trump tweeted. He has frequently slammed the probe as a "witch hunt," dismissing it as a frivolous investigation launched by his political enemies seeking to delegitimize his election victory.

3:27 p.m. ET, March 6, 2018

White House: Kellyanne Conway complied with the Hatch Act

From CNN's Jim Acosta

A White House spokesman defended counselor Kellyanne Conway over the claim she violated the Hatch Act in two television interviews, saying her "statements actually show her intention and desire to comply with the Hatch Act."

"Kellyanne Conway did not advocate for or against the election of any particular candidate," deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said.

Gidley added that Conway was only expressing Trump’s “obvious position” that the President wants “people in the House and Senate who support his agenda."

"In fact, Kellyanne’s statements actually show her intention and desire to comply with the Hatch Act — as she twice declined to respond to the host’s specific invitation to encourage Alabamans to vote for the Republican," he said.

Why we're talking about this now

The US Office of Special Counsel announced today that Conway violated the Hatch Act on two occasions by "advocating for and against candidates" in last year's Alabama Senate special election.

What is the Hatch Act, anyway?

The Hatch Act is a federal law passed in 1939, which limits certain political activities of federal employees, according to the office of the Special Counsel. (It also covers some state, and local government employees who work with federally funded programs.)

"​The law’s purposes are to ensure that federal programs are administered in a nonpartisan fashion, to protect federal employees from political coercion in the workplace, and to ensure that federal employees are advanced based on merit and not based on political affiliation," according to the office.