Here are the top four stories to start your day:
1: States Sue Trump Administration Over National Emergency Declaration
A group of 16 states filed suit in federal court on Monday to block President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency to build a border wall.
The states, all led by Democratic governors except for Maryland, filed their lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Northern California, which has ruled against the president several times during his presidency, claiming the national emergency declaration is an “an unconstitutional and unlawful scheme.”
The states also they they seek to their “residents, natural resources, and economic interests from President Donald J. Trump’s flagrant disregard of fundamental separation of powers principles engrained in the United States Constitution.”
The Justice Department did not comment on the lawsuit.
On Friday President Trump declared a national emergency which allows him to re-direct federal funds that have previously been allocated by spending bills to fund the construction of a border wall.
2: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to Leave by Mid-March
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is expected to leave his post at the Department of Justice by mid-March, The Washington Post reports.
Rosenstein, who has overseen the Russia investigation for the past two years, told Justice Department officials that he planned to leave if and when William Barr was confirmed as Attorney General.
Sources told the Post that Jeffrey Rosen, the deputy secretary of transportation, is expected to be nominated to fill the position — which would require Senate confirmation after Rosenstein’s departure.
News of Rosenstein’s departure comes after former Acting Director of the FBI Andrew McCabe said in a CBS “60 Minutes” interview that Rosenstein had discussed recruiting Cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove the president from office, and wearing a hidden recording device to obtain evidence against the president.
Rosenstein has denied those allegations.
3: Trump Says All Options Are on the Table for Venezuela
In a roughly 30-minute speech in Miami, Florida, President Trump said the U.S. seeks a peaceful transition of power in Venezuela from President Nicolas Maduro to the interim-president Juan Guiado.
Trump did not rule out a military option during his speech, ““We seek a peaceful transition to power. But all options are on the table.”
During his speech, which White House officials acknowledged to Politico was also intended to serve as a campaign speech, Trump decried socialism:
“The socialists have done in Venezuela all of the same things that socialists, communists, totalitarians have done everywhere that they’ve had a chance to rule. The results have been catastrophic.”
In his closing remarks, Trump encouraged Venezuelan military leaders to back Guiado and end their support of Maduro. But warned them of the consequences they would face if they continue to support Maduro, “If you choose this path, you will find no safe harbor. No easy exit. And no way out. You lose everything. There will be no going back.”
4: North Carolina Investigators Find Evidence of Voter Fraud Scheme Orchestrated By Republican Operative
Investigators in North Carolina have found that a Republican political operative orchestrated an illegal absentee ballot “scheme” and tried to conceal it, election officials said in a federal court on Monday.
According to the filing, political operative L. McCrae Dowless Jr. led an absentee ballot “scheme” to illegally gather and in some cases fill in absentee ballots in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District during the election to support the Republican candidate Mark Harris.
The investigators do not allege that Harris directed the voter fraud scheme. But the state board in charge of the investigation, comprised of three Democrats and two Republicans, has the power to decide whether or not to certify the election results, where Harris leads by just over 900 votes, or to call for a new election all together.
Investigators say Dowless’ scheme may have included more than 1,000 absentee ballots.