Good Friday morning. Here are some of the stories making news in Washington and politics today.
• President Trump approved military strikes against Iran in retaliation for downing an American surveillance drone, but pulled back from launching them on Thursday night. It was not clear whether the administration altered course because of strategy, or whether the president simply changed his mind.
• Mr. Trump’s tenure as commander in chief came to a dramatic turning point on Thursday night as he found himself torn between his own competing advisers and his own competing instincts, teetering on the edge of the kind of military action he came to office vowing not to take.
• The Senate voted to block the sale of billions of dollars of munitions to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, in a sharp and bipartisan rebuke of the Trump administration’s attempt to circumvent Congress to allow the exports by declaring an emergency over Iran.
• The influx of Somali refugees in St. Cloud, Minn., has spurred the sort of demographic shifts that Mr. Trump and right-wing conservatives have stoked fears about. For some, the changes have fueled talk about “white replacement,” a racist conspiracy theory.
• Joe Biden’s campaign was forced into a defensive posture this week after he invoked his work with Southern segregationist senators to make a point about civility in Congress. He now faces questions about whether he is politically sensitive enough to the concerns of the modern Democratic Party.
• In a call to Senator Cory Booker, Mr. Biden tried to smooth over tensions regarding his comments about segregationist senators. While the tone between the men was conciliatory, the former vice president stood by his remarks Thursday, while his allies defended them.
• Mr. Booker announced a new proposal on Thursday to offer clemency to more than 17,000 inmates serving time for nonviolent drug-related offenses, an expansive use of executive power that would be the broadest clemency initiative since the Civil War.
• Calling Mayor Bill de Blasio “our hometown guy,” a New York hotel union promised to commit hundreds of thousands of dollars to aid his presidential campaign.
• Roy S. Moore, the polarizing Alabama Republican who lost a Senate campaign in 2017 after being accused of sexual misconduct, said on Thursday that he would seek a rematch in next year’s election.
• Col. W. Shane Cohen is the third person since 2012 to preside over the complex, slow-moving military trial of the five defendants charged in the Sept. 11 attacks. He’s the first to set a trial date.
Today’s On Politics briefing was compiled by Isabella Grullón Paz in New York.
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