Monday’s Mini-Report, 1.14.19

Today’s edition of quick hits:

* It’s hard not to find this alarming: “President Trump’s National Security Council asked the Pentagon to provide the White House with military options to strike Iran last year, generating concern at the Pentagon and State Department, current and former U.S. officials said.”

* The administration’s latest legal setback: “A federal judge on Sunday granted a request by more than a dozen states to temporarily block the Trump administration from putting into effect new rules that would make it easier for employers to deny women health insurance coverage for contraceptives.”

* SCOTUS: “The Supreme Court on Monday rejected a challenge to the appointment of Matt Whitaker as acting attorney general.”

* Whether Barr can be counted on to honor this commitment is a separate question: “President Donald Trump’s nominee to serve as the next attorney general, William Barr, plans to tell Congress this week at his confirmation hearings that Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 campaign should continue unimpeded – and that the public should be informed of the results of that probe.”

* Stefan Passantino was the Trump White House’s top ethics lawyer: “The Trump Organization has hired a lawyer who formerly worked in the White House Counsel’s Office to handle the expected onslaught of investigations from House Democrats, according to people familiar with the matter.”

* Oops: “A union that represents Border Patrol agents recently deleted a webpage that said building walls and fences along the border to stop illegal immigration would be ‘wasting taxpayer money.’”

* That sounds awkward: “President Trump chastised his new chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, over his handling of shutdown talks, creating an awkward scene in front of congressional leaders of both parties, according to two sources who were present.”

* On a related note: “Although Mick Mulvaney is technically only an ‘acting’ chief of staff, he’s still quickly reshaping the West Wing in his own image.”

* The next controversial judicial nominee: “Neomi Rao – President Donald Trump’s pick for a powerful federal judgeship and a reported US Supreme Court contender – wrote a string of op-eds in college and just after she graduated, at times using inflammatory language to discuss race, date rape, and LGBT rights.”

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.