The Trump administration took aim Friday at Planned Parenthood, issuing a rule barring groups that provide abortions or abortion referrals from participating in the $286 million federal family planning program — a move that is expected to redirect millions from the women’s health provider to faith-based groups.
Under the long-expected change, federally funded family planning clinics can no longer refer a patient for abortion and must maintain a “clear physical and financial separation” between services funded by the government and any organization that provides abortions or abortion referrals. Recipients of grants under the Title X program, which serves an estimated four million low-income women, were already prohibited from performing abortions with those funds.
Health and Human Services Department officials have said the new requirements, which opponents have vowed to challenge, were necessary to ensure transparency and the legal and ethical use of taxpayer funds.
The result of this effort will inevitably be more abortions, which conservatives would be upset about if reducing abortions were actually their goal.
* William Rashbaum reports that prosecutors in New York have some bad news for Paul Manafort:
The Manhattan district attorney’s office is preparing state criminal charges against Paul J. Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, in an effort to ensure he will still face prison time even if the president pardons him for his federal crimes, according to several people with knowledge of the matter.
Mr. Manafort is scheduled to be sentenced next month for convictions in two federal cases brought by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III. He faces up to 25 years in prison for tax and bank fraud and additional time for conspiracy counts in a related case. It could effectively be a life sentence for Mr. Manafort, who turns 70 in April.
The president has broad power to issue pardons for federal crimes, but no such authority in state cases. And while there has been no clear indication that Mr. Trump intends to pardon Mr. Manafort, the president has spoken repeatedly of his pardon power and defended his former campaign chairman on a number of occasions, calling him a “brave man.”
Manafort spent years doing crimes, but it was only when he joined up with Donald Trump that he wound up behind bars. I think there’s a lesson there.
* Matt Flegenheimer and Sydney Ember have more details on Sen. Amy Klobuchar's treatment of her staff, and it's...not good.
* Will Hobson and Mark Maske report that Robert Kraft, billionaire owner of the New England Patriots and buddy of Donald Trump, has been arrested in Florida on charges of soliciting prostitution, and there's videotape. Which just goes to show: Stay out of Florida.
* Rebecca Morin reports that the White House is “looking into” charges that Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta broke the law when as a prosecutor he negotiated a sweetheart deal for pedophile sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein and allegedly hid the deal from Epstein’s victims. The president was asked about it and said, “that seems like a long time ago.” It was 2008.
* John Donnelly reports that although Trump claimed he would divert $2.5 billion from a Pentagon counterdrug fund into building his border wall, it turns out that all but $85 million in that fund has already been spent.
* Hannah Levintova reports that Matt Bowman, who when he was younger was a radical anti-abortion protester who regularly harassed people and had run-ins with the police, is now a top official at the Department of Health and Human Services where he can attack women's reproductive rights more broadly.
* And Amanda Marcotte notes that Jussie Smollett may be a hoaxster who’ll face accountability, while the president of the United States is a hoaxster whose lies have done enormous damage but faces none.