Good Monday morning. Here are some of the stories making news in Washington and politics today.
• Is he the operator who spun the then-secret Mueller report? Or the straight shooter who later disclosed portions that were damaging to President Trump? People are trying to figure out who the real William P. Barr is. Meanwhile, he’s stockpiling power.
• As the special counsel’s investigators pursued the question of whether Mr. Trump tried to impede their work, they uncovered compelling evidence — a voice mail recording and statements from a trusted witness.
• The deal to avert tariffs on Mexico that Mr. Trump announced with great fanfare consisted largely of actions that Mexico had already promised to take in prior discussions with the United States, according to officials from both countries.
• Mr. Trump asserted on Sunday that there were secret, undisclosed elements to his new immigration agreement with Mexico, as he sought to deflect criticism that he achieved less than he had claimed.
• The Mexico tariff story offered a case study in Mr. Trump’s approach: When the goal seems frustratingly out of reach, threaten drastic action, set a deadline, demand concessions, cut a deal — real or imagined — avert the dire outcome and declare victory.
• The Democratic 2020 field includes one of the youngest presidential candidates in modern history (Pete Buttigieg, 37) and the oldest one (Bernie Sanders, 77). The party has to decide whether it is time for generational change.
• The Democratic Party gathering in Iowa on Sunday, the state’s first major event of the 2020 election cycle, had the atmosphere of a circus — one with a very, very big tent.
• Joe Biden retains a lead among likely Iowa caucusgoers, but both he and Senator Bernie Sanders have lost ground over the past three months, while Senator Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg have made clear gains.
• Abortion is often cast as a clear, crisp issue in Washington, with Republicans and Democrats clustered in opposite corners. But the public’s views are often muddled and complex: Surveys find many voters struggle with its ethical and moral perplexities.
• As the chief architect of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s higher education agenda, Diane Auer Jones is leading the charge to overhaul the accreditation system — and, to critics, revive the fortunes of for-profit organizations that operate low-quality education programs.
• The White House tried to stop a State Department senior intelligence analyst from discussing climate science in congressional testimony this week, internal emails and documents show.
• Liberal activists, hoping for a chance to offset the growing conservative presence in the courts, have identified scores of seats held by veteran judges appointed by Democrats — and young successors who could immediately be funneled into the judicial pipeline if a Democrat wins in 2020.
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