* Nicole Gaouette and Jennifer Hansler report on what we will hopefully not one day look back on as an important event:
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran for an attack on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman, saying the assessment was based on intelligence, but offered no evidence to support his claim.
"It is the assessment by the United States government that the Islamic Republic of Iran is responsible for the attacks that occurred in the Gulf of Oman today," Pompeo said in specially scheduled remarks at the State Department Thursday, as investigations into the attacks were beginning.
“This assessment is based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping, and the fact that no proxy group operating in the area has the resources and proficiency to act with such a high degree of sophistication,” Pompeo said.
Perhaps it was Iran. But let’s just say experience has taught us that we should be skeptical of claims like this from Pompeo until we learn more.
* Colby Itkowitz reports that Democrats in the House hit back at the president today:
The House voted Thursday to block the Trump administration’s move to end human fetal tissue research by government scientists, a direct challenge to the White House that will be tested in the Republican-led Senate.
Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), co-chair of the House Progressives Caucus, sponsored the amendment to a sweeping spending bill. The amendment targets President Trump’s policy requiring federally funded research using fetal tissue from elective abortions to undergo separate screenings by an ethics advisory board. Pocan’s measure restricted funding to set up such panels.
The amendment passed 225 to 193, largely along party lines with all Republicans and three antiabortion Democrats — Daniel Lipinski (Ill.), Ben McAdams (Utah) and Collin C. Peterson (Minn.) — voting against it.
Frankly I’d be surprised if Trump even remembers he did this; it was a Pence special. So I doubt he’ll have the stomach for a big fight over it.
* Kyle Cheney and Andrew Desiderio report that Republicans are dealing with Trump’s willingness to get foreign assistance in 2020 by, you guessed it, blaming Democrats.
* Ron Brownstein looks at the growing evidence that 2020 voter turnout could be huge, producing the most diverse electorate ever, but nonetheless, it’s also possible that blue collar whites will again prove crucial.
* Erin Banco and Sam Brodey report that some members of Congress want to investigate Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao but fear retribution.
* Rep. Pramila Jayapal explains what her abortion taught her about the importance of reproductive choice.
* Julie Watson reports that Margaret Hunter, wife of Rep. Duncan Hunter, has pled guilty to a single corruption count and agreed to testify against her husband in a case involving the alleged misuse of hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign funds.