THE BIG IDEA: The massive marches this weekend will be remembered as the starting point of a massive protest movement against President Trump, but what will become of the sleeping giant that has awakened?
If the extraordinary energy that was on display across the country is effectively channeled into electoral politics, some of the long-term demographic trends that Trump’s victory obscured will accelerate. He could be the last Republican elected president for a long time.
But a new protest movement could also upend the Democratic establishment, just like the tea party movement did eight years ago. With the president viewed as illegitimate by so many progressive activists, even small compromises will be viewed as apostasy. This could fuel nasty primary challenges, without a president in the White House to stop them, and prompt a lurch to the left that would make it harder to topple Trump in 2020.
FOR REPUBLICANS, THE CAUTIONARY TALE OF PROPOSITION 187:
The protests foreshadowed the long-term damage that Trump might be inflicting on the Republican brand. I found myself wondering what percentage of people in the streets hadn’t voted in 2016 and whether they will in 2020. Both statistics are important but unknowable.
Trump is a reactionary figure, but the long arc of American history bends toward reform. With his pledge to “make America great again,” the septuagenarian president tapped into nostalgia for a bygone era among fellow baby boomers. But the “good old days” were not so good for lots of folks, including but not limited to women, gays, Latinos and African Americans.
Every time Trump did something like attack Judge Gonzalo Curiel, which Paul Ryan called the textbook definition of a racist comment, I raised the specter of Proposition 187 in this space. California Republican Gov. Pete Wilson embraced a ballot measure to deny all public services, including education and health care, to undocumented immigrants. The idea was to adopt a wedge issue that would gin up the base and woo disgruntled independents as the state struggled to fight its way out of the post-Cold War recession. Wilson ran ads with footage of Mexicans running across the border. “They keep coming,” a narrator said ominously. The campaign to push the ballot initiative was called “Save Our State,” as in SOS.
Watch the ad:
What a lot of people forget about Prop 187 is that the gambit worked – in the short-term. Republicans cleaned up in that election, though the measure was quickly blocked by a federal court. But while Wilson won the battle, Republicans lost the war. The GOP candidate for president carried California in nine of the 10 presidential elections before 1992. Democrats have won handily in all six elections since Prop 187.
Significantly, Prop 187 didn’t just alienate a generation of Latinos, galvanizing them to register to vote and get engaged in the political process. It also repelled moderate suburban whites who wanted no part of nativism and xenophobia. To be sure, correlation is not causation. There were demographic trends that were making the state bluer before the measure passed, but it supercharged them.
Latinos were not inevitably going to become a lynchpin of the Democratic coalition. Just compare California to Texas, where George W. Bush proved during his gubernatorial bids around the same time that a conservative can make inroads with the community.
National conservative leaders warned publicly in 1994 that what Wilson was doing would hurt the whole party in the long term, just as they did when Trump launched his campaign by declaring that many Mexican immigrants are rapists, criminals and drug traffickers. "He's scapegoating, damn it, and he should stop doing it," Bill Bennett, who had been Ronald Reagan’s Education secretary, said of Wilson at the time.
While Trump won the election in the Rust Belt, he was weaker than past Republicans in the Sunbelt. Mitt Romney carried Arizona by nine points in 2012, for example, but Trump only won by 3.6 percent. It’s hard to imagine the Grand Canyon State not being in play next time. And don’t forget that a shift of fewer than 100,000 votes would have tipped Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan to Hillary Clinton. It’s not like he can count on a realignment working to his advantage.
One small but telling illustration of how little the Trump administration actually cares about expanding his coalition: The Spanish-language version of Whitehouse.gov no longer exists. You get a 404 error if you try to visit.
FOR DEMOCRATS, A CAUTIONARY TALE IN THE TEA PARTY MOVEMENT:
Right now, the Democratic coalition is united in opposition to Trump. But the edifice could begin to show cracks as issues like Obamacare replacement and infrastructure spending come to the forefront.
While a lot of establishment leaders – like John Kerry – came out for the Women’s March, it was revealing that the leading candidates for DNC chair were instead courting deep-pocketed donors at a conference put on by David Brock in Florida. That they were not out in the streets, standing in solidarity, didn’t go unnoticed among some grassroots leaders.
The Democratic establishment is giddy right now about all the new enthusiasm, but veteran organizers warn that it will be harder than it looks to channel it toward sustained engagement in the political arena. “Saturday’s marches, which featured speeches from many leading Democrats, were not explicitly Democratic events,” Dave Weigel and Jenna Portnoy note. “Melissa Byrne, a candidate for DNC vice chairman, said that the crowds … will encourage even more people to become activists. But having organized for Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign and for the Occupy D.C. movement, she saw how the new activists would be tested even if the rallies grew in size. ‘People are going to get frustrated, because you want your wins to come quickly,’ she said. ‘For people who are new to this, it takes a while to get that.’”
After the governor’s races in Virginia and New Jersey this fall, next year’s biggest battles in the midterm elections will play out on deeply-red terrain. There are just two clearly at-risk GOP senators up for reelection, in Nevada and Arizona. Jeff Flake, the Arizona senator, is more worried about getting toppled during the primary by a challenger who has the endorsement of President Trump than losing in the general election. Few GOP senators have separated themselves more from Trump.
To be sure, something that made Saturday so special was how many marches took place in red states and small towns where Trump dominated. Jose DelReal notes that sizable crowds gathered in places like Wichita, Kansas, rural towns in Virginia, and throughout the South: “In Anchorage, thousands of protesters gathered despite an unforgiving snowstorm and 10-degree temperatures, holding signs with slogans such as ‘My body. My rights. My choice.’ Farther north, in Fairbanks, thousands were undeterred by the extreme temperature, which approached minus-20 degrees. At the same time, thousands marched outside the Idaho Statehouse in Boise as snow fell over them.”
But party leaders could quickly lose control of the energy, if they don’t play their cards right. Take Nevada. The smartest operatives on both sides agree that Sen. Dean Heller is the most vulnerable GOP incumbent on the ballot next year. But what happens if the Democratic Party – now that Harry Reid has ridden off into the sunset – nominates its own Sharron Angle, who subsequently blows a totally winnable race? People like Angle and Christine O’Donnell only got oxygen in the 2010 primaries because the tea party movement turned on the governing class.
Several of the Democratic senators who want to run for president in 2020 won’t vote for anything Trump wants because they’ll be concerned about opening themselves up to attacks from their left. We got an early taste of this dynamic on Friday afternoon: John Kelly was confirmed as secretary of homeland security by a vote of 88 to 11. Among the “no” votes were four likely presidential candidates: Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand and Kamala Harris. These kinds of votes will put pressure on more moderate Democrats to follow suit. Imagine the thousands of phone calls asking a lawmaker why they voted for something when Warren, Booker and Bernie Sanders voted against it.
During the 2012 campaign, many in the tea party movement naively thought anyone could beat Obama. That’s how Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum all got a turn at the top of the polls before the party settled on the more electable Mitt Romney.
Democrats seem more likely than not to go through similar growing pains in 2020. Some elements on the left will decide that they don’t need to prioritize electability when choosing a new standard bearer. Just think about how close a socialist from Vermont came to winning the nomination last year when he was up against the vaunted Clinton machine. Or look to London for the damage Jeremy Corbyn has wrought on the Labour party. If the next Democratic standard bearer is someone too far outside of the mainstream, even an unpopular Trump could win four more years.
Furthermore, Donald’s success as a first-time candidate will embolden an array of celebrities and billionaires to consider coming out of the woodwork. Keep an eye on Mark Zuckerberg, Howard Schultz and Mark Cuban. They’d try to run as outsiders and use their fortunes to tap into this activist energy. It could lead to a very messy battle over what it means to be a Democrat.
Welcome to the Daily 202, PowerPost's morning newsletter.
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- U.S. counterintelligence agents have investigated communications that Trump’s national security adviser Michael Flynn had with Russian officials, the Wall Street Journal reports: “Flynn is the first person inside the White House under Mr. Trump whose communications are known to have faced scrutiny as part of a [multiagency investigation by the FBI, CIA, NSA and Treasury Department] to determine the extent of Russian government contacts with people close to Mr. Trump. The counterintelligence inquiry aimed to determine the nature of Mr. Flynn’s contact with Russian officials and whether such contacts may have violated laws. … It isn’t clear when the counterintelligence inquiry began, whether it produced any incriminating evidence or if it is continuing.” The key focus is a series of calls Flynn made to the Russian Ambassador to the U.S. on Dec. 29, the day the White House announced sanctions against Russia. White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders responds: “We have absolutely no knowledge of any investigation or even a basis for such an investigation.”
-- Trump will sign an executive order to formally withdraw from the TPP today. (CNN)
-- A legal test of the Emoluments Clause will be filed today. "A liberal watchdog group will file a lawsuit against Trump in federal court alleging that he is in violation of a little-known constitutional provision that bars him from taking gifts or payments from foreign governments," David Fahrenthold and Jonathan O’Connell report. “The group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said that because Trump-owned buildings take in rent, room rentals and other payments from foreign governments, the president has breached the Emoluments Clause. … The meaning of those words has never truly been tested in court. The watchdog group says the text should be interpreted to mean that Trump’s businesses should cease all business dealings with foreign states. The clause, the legal complaint says, ‘is no relic of a bygone era, but rather an expression of insight into the nature of the human condition and the preconditions of self-governance.’”
The letter of the law: “No Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under [the United States], shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.” It was written out of fear that the young republic’s leaders or ambassadors could be bought off by a richer European power.
-- One of the goals of the litigation is to force the disclosure of Trump's tax returns. After all, how can you ascertain if Trump is taking money from foreign governments without seeing his taxes? Kellyanne Conway said firmly yesterday that the president will not release his tax returns because “people don’t care,” reversing months of campaign trail pledges to make them public after an audit is completed. “The White House response is that he’s not going to release his tax returns,” Conway said on ABC’s “This Week.” “We litigated this all through the election.” She added: “People didn’t care. They voted for him." A WaPo/ABC poll last week found 74 percent of Americans – and 53 percent of Republicans -- said Trump should make the documents public. (John Wagner)
-- The Super Bowl will pit the Patriots versus the Falcons. Both of last night’s championship games were anticlimactic routs: New England beat Pittsburgh 36-17, and Atlanta beat Green Bay 44-21. Four smart takes by our guys in the field:
- “With beatdown of Packers, Falcons suddenly look like favorites to win Super Bowl,” Jerry Brewer argues from Atlanta: “This is a dangerous team sizzling at the right time. … The Falcons have won six straight games, and they have averaged 39 points during the streak. They haven’t scored fewer than 33 points in any of those contests. Just one of the six games has been decided by fewer than 16 points. In their past five wins, the offense has gained at least 408 yards.”
- “This Falcons’ offense may be historically great. The defense has been good enough,” handicaps Mark Maske.
- “As Patriots advance to seventh Super Bowl this century, Tom Brady is the constant,” Barry Svrluga files from Foxborough.
- Don’t underestimate the revenge narrative, Maske adds: “One more win would result in the NFL Commissioner handing the Super Bowl trophy to the Patriots, something about which fans in (New England) dream as the culmination to a season that began with Brady serving his four-game suspension for his supposed role in an alleged plot to use under-inflated footballs during the first half of the AFC title game two years ago. With Sunday’s outcome basically decided by late in the third quarter, the crowd at Gillette Stadium noted Goodell’s absence from this game by chanting, ‘Rog-er! Rog-er!’"
GET SMART FAST:
- A string of unusually brutal winter tornados swept through the southeast on Sunday, killing at least 14 in Georgia and prompting the governor to declare a state of emergency in seven counties. The tornados capped off a series of violent storms in the region, which also killed four people in Mississippi on Saturday. (Susan Eastman and Dan Lamothe)
- Former President George H.W. Bush could be moved out of intensive care as early as today. A spokesman for 92-year-old, who was first admitted to the hospital on Jan. 14 for shortness of breath, said doctors have been “encouraged” by his improving health. "His vital signs are normal, and it is hoped that he could be moved out of the ICU in the next day or two," he said. (NBC News)
- A computer glitch forced United Airlines to ground all of its domestic flights for several hours last night, triggering a wave of delays. (Reuters)
- Samsung said two separate battery issues caused the Galaxy Note 7 to catch fire and explode this past fall, citing both ill-fitting batteries and a second round of manufacturing issues that came as the company raced to replace the original faulty phones. (Hayley Tsukayama)
- The New York Times is investigating an apparent hack of its video team’s Twitter account, after it posted a fake news tweet about Russia planning to launch a missile attack on the United States. The hacked tweet attributed the news to a “leaked statement” from Vladimir Putin. (New York Daily News)
- Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura, a rising star known for his explosive fastball, was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic. The 25-year-old athlete’s death is the latest in a disturbing string of talented, young Latino baseball players who have died in accidents involving motor vehicles. (Cindy Boren and Dave Sheinin)
- British cops are under fire after tasering a black man who they thought was a robber – but who actually turned out to be their own race relations adviser. He’s spent nearly a decade helping the department improve police-community relations. (Cleve R. Wootson Jr.)
THE TRUMP TAKEOVER:
-- The president hosted a group of law enforcement officials at the White House yesterday to thank them for their work during his inauguration. He used the occasion to literally give FBI Director James Comey a pat on the back. John Wagner reports: When Trump saw Comey across the Blue Room, he summoned him to come over. “He’s become more famous than me,” Trump quipped to the crowd. The two men shook hands and as Comey leaned in toward Trump, the president patted him on the back a few times.
-- First lady Melania Trump returned to New York City last night, where she will remain with 10-year-old son Barron Trump until he finishes the school year. "The first lady thanks everyone for their support and a beautiful welcome to Washington,” a spokeswoman told reporters. “She is returning to New York in advance of the school week and will be splitting her time between Washington and New York for the next few weeks.” Sunday also happened to be the Trumps' 12th wedding anniversary. (CNN)
-- Even some of Obamacare's biggest critics worry that Trump’s first executive order will introduce unnecessary chaos into health insurance markets. From Juliet Eilperin and Sean Sullivan: “The political signal of the order, which Trump signed just hours after being sworn into office, was clear: Even before the Republican-led Congress acts to repeal the 2010 law, the new administration will move swiftly to unwind as many elements as it can on its own ... [Longtime Obamacare critic] Robert Laszewski, president of the consulting firm Health Policy and Strategy Associates, called the executive order a ‘bomb’ lobbed into the law’s ‘already shaky’ insurance market. Given the time it will take Republicans to fashion a replacement, he expects that federal and state insurance exchanges will continue to operate at least through 2018. ‘Instead of sending a signal that there’s going to be an orderly transition, they’ve sent a signal that it’s going to be a disorderly transition,’ said Laszewski … ‘How does the Trump administration think this is not going to make the situation worse?’”
-- Trump will huddle with a bipartisan group of congressional leaders this evening to talk about his agenda. Topics expected to come up include the gutting and replacement of Obamacare, as well as tax reform and the infrastructure package. (John Wagner and David Nakamura)
REX TILLERSON WILL GET CONFIRMED:
-- John McCain and Lindsey Graham announced that they will vote in favor of Tillerson to lead the State Department. “Listen, this wasn’t an easy call,” McCain said on ABC News’ “This Week.” “But I also believe that, when there’s doubt, the president, the incoming president, gets the benefit of the doubt.” Graham discussed his support on CBS’ “Face the Nation”: "This is why I am voting for him. In my office visit he said that when America doesn’t lead, other people will, and the vacuum is always filled by bad actors. He said that we have to have a foreign policy that engages the world, we need to lead from the front."
-- This leaves just one sub-plot unresolved: Will Marco Rubio now cave? Karoun Demirjian and Sean Sullivan look at the intense pressure on the Florida senator to back down on his principles: “Rubio held an unannounced meeting with Tillerson last week, according to two people with knowledge of the get-together. Now-Vice President Pence and now-White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus were also in the meeting ... It lasted 90 minutes and was a blunt conversation not just about Tillerson’s answers at the hearing, but also about Rubio’s overall concerns about Russia and other matters. … The Rubio adviser said the senator had not planned to decide on his vote until he received written responses to the more than 100 questions he submitted to Tillerson, which he got back from the nominee on Thursday…
“Politically, several people in Rubio’s circle said they see no upside to defying Trump, especially now that Tillerson is on the path to being confirmed. Rubio is aware that the backlash from the new White House would be intense, according to those close to him. … George Seay, a Dallas-based investment manager who was a major Rubio donor during his presidential run, said that many (money men) close to (the senator) have been texting, calling and writing Rubio to urge him to support Tillerson 'in very blunt fashion': 'I think this is the wrong fight. I think it’s the wrong position to make a stand.'"
THE WORLD ADJUSTS TO TRUMP:
-- The president announced at a Sunday event to swear in top aides that he has set up separate, bilateral meetings with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. “We’re going to start renegotiating on NAFTA, on immigration and on security at the border,” Trump told the crowd. “And Mexico has been terrific actually, terrific … and I think we’re going to have a very good result for Mexico, for the United States, for everybody involved.” (David Nakamura and John Wagner)
-- British Prime Minister Theresa May will become the first foreign leader to talk with Trump in the White House when she travels to Washington on Friday. British officials “aggressively” sought the visit, Griff Witte reports from London, seeking to lock down a largely symbolic visit indicating that the “special relationship” between the E.U. and America will continue after last year’s Brexit vote.
-- Trump spoke to Benjamin Netanyahu on the phone yesterday, moving to quickly bolster ties with the Israeli prime minister and inviting him for a White House visit early next month. Karen DeYoung reports: “A White House statement said the two agreed to consult closely on regional issues, ‘including the threats posed by Iran.’ It said Trump emphasized the close relationship between the two countries, promised to work toward Israeli-Palestinian peace, and stressed that countering the Islamic State ‘and other radical Islamic terrorist groups’ will be an administration priority.” Both leaders issued positive statements about the discussion, with Trump telling reporters the conversation had been 'very nice,' while Netanyahu issued a statement characterizing the discussion as 'very warm.'"
-- “At a time of widespread global anxiety about President Trump’s foreign policy goals, the Middle East stands almost alone in its optimism about his presidency,” Beirut bureau chief Liz Sly reports. “The United States’ traditional Arab allies are hoping he reengages in the region after years of what they perceive as neglect by Barack Obama’s administration. U.S. rivals are hoping he becomes an ally and aligns with their interests. But after eight years of steady disengagement by his predecessor, Trump may find his room for maneuver constrained by the expanded influence of Russia and Iran. ... The constraints are most immediately apparent in Syria, where Russia has taken the lead in promoting a peace initiative that includes Turkey and Iran as co-sponsors but offers no role for the United States."
Watch Kellyanne Conway's "alternative facts" exchange with Chuck Todd.
THE NEW WHITE HOUSE IS OPERATING IN AN ALTERNATIVE REALITY:
-- Kellyanne Conway attempted to defend the White House’s demonstrably false claims about the size of Inauguration Day crowds, saying press secretary Sean Spicer had been presenting “alternative facts” rather than falsehoods: “Why put him out there for the very first time, in front of that podium, to utter a provable falsehood?” Chuck Todd asked on “Meet the Press,” adding: “It's a small thing, but the first time he confronts the public, it's a falsehood?” Conway replied: “Don't be so overly dramatic about it, Chuck. You're saying it's a falsehood, and they're giving — our press secretary, Sean Spicer, gave alternative facts to that.” Todd interjected, “Alternative facts? Alternative facts?! Four of the five facts he uttered … were just not true. Alternative facts are not facts; they're falsehoods.” (Aaron Blake)
-- The folks who produce the dictionary felt compelled to weigh in:
📈A fact is a piece of information presented as having objective reality. https://t.co/gCKRZZm23c— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) January 22, 2017
-- Meanwhile, Reince Priebus characterized the crowd size reports as an “obsession by the media” to de-legitimize the president. “We are not going to let it happen,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.” “We are going to fight back tooth and nail every day, and twice on Sunday."
-- “As Mr. Trump and his supporters regularly note, whatever he did during the campaign, it was successful: He won,” writes New York Times media columnist Jim Rutenberg. “His most ardent supporters loved the news media bashing. And the complaints and aggressive fact-checking by the news media played right into his hands. He portrayed it as just so much whining and opposition from yet another overprivileged constituency of the Washington establishment. But will tactics that worked in the campaign work in the White House? History is littered with examples of new administrations that quickly found that the techniques that served them well in campaigns did not work well in government. And if they do work, what are the long-term costs to government credibility from tactical ‘wins’ that are achieved through the aggressive use of falsehoods? Whatever they are, Mr. Trump should realize that it could hurt his agenda more than anything else."
-- Dan Rather warns on his Facebook page that these “are not normal times": “Facts and the truth are not partisan. They are the bedrock of our democracy. And you are either with them, with us, with our Constitution, our history, and the future of our nation, or you are against it. Everyone must answer that question.”
-- This is a big deal: Sean Spicer has already lost his credibility with the press. No one will trust anything he says, which will make it very hard for him to be effective in the job.
-- The Post’s Fact Checker gives Spicer four Pinnochios for false claims uttered during his first weekend: “This is an appalling performance by the new press secretary,” writes Glenn Kessler, who doesn't use words like that lightly. “He managed to make a series of false and misleading claims in service of a relatively minor issue. Presumably he was ordered to do this by Trump, who conjured up fantastic numbers in his own mind, but part of a flack’s job is to tell the boss when lies are necessary — and when they are not. Spicer earns Four Pinocchios, but seriously, we wish we could give five.”
-- "The traditional way of reporting on a president is dead. And Trump’s press secretary killed it," by Margaret Sullivan: “White House press briefings are ‘access journalism,’ in which official statements — achieved by closeness to the source — are taken at face value and breathlessly reported as news. And that is over. Dead. Spicer’s statement should be seen for what it is: Remarks made over the casket at the funeral of access journalism. … Trump wants a flat-out war with the nation’s media for one well-calculated reason: Because he believes it will continue to serve his political purposes, as it has for months. Journalists should respond by doing their jobs responsibly, fairly and fearlessly, in service of the public good. Somebody has to be the grown-up in the room. We’ve just been reminded of who it won’t be.”
-- Another consequence: Spicer's stumbles will give Stephen Bannon license to install more Breitbart people in the White House. Breitbart staff writer Julia Hahn is expected to join the White House staff, according to Politico’s Alex Isenstadt: Hahn’s title will be special assistant to the president, and she is expected to primarily work under Bannon. In October 2016, Hanh penned a lengthy story about House Speaker Paul Ryan titled, “He’s With Her: Inside Paul Ryan’s Months-Long Campaign to Elect Hillary Clinton President.” She also criticized Ryan for sending his kids to Catholic school...
-- Two things we learned about how Trump will govern in the last 48 hours, via Politico’s Josh Dawsey: “First, his team will be very combative, even when the facts are not on their side, trusting that their political base dislikes the news media and will believe them no matter what. Sometimes, they are likely to muddy the water or throw a hand grenade into a political debate just to change the headlines. And second, when Trump grows angry, he will usually want the strongest response possible, unless he is told no. ‘One of the things they don't understand about him is he likes pushback,’ said [Christopher Ruddy, a Trump friend] … ‘If he doesn't have people who can tell him no, this is not going to go very well.’”
-- Going viral overnight: A Go Fund Me page to “Buy Sean Spicer A Suit That Fits.”
-- In other "alternative fact" news, the National Museum of American History has removed a $50 book about Trump from its shelves, after it was revealed to contain “multiple” falsehoods about the newly-minted president. From Ian Shapira: On Trump’s years of challenging of President Obama’s birthplace and citizenship, for instance, the book says: “Donald Trump took the fall for what should have been the fault of Hillary Clinton, whose campaign first propagated the misinformation." It also claims there is “no evidence” that Russia interfered the elections, despite the intelligence community’s assessment that the evidence against Moscow is overwhelming.
MORE FALLOUT FROM TRUMP'S TRIP TO LANGLEY:
-- The president visited the CIA headquarters on Saturday, making an attempted goodwill gesture towards the agency that he harshly criticized in the run-up to his inauguration. But his remarks were at times combative and political – and left some in the intelligence community scratching their heads. Post columnist David Ignatius reports: “’He said some of the right things, but it still had a bizarre quality to it,’ said one former top CIA official. Trump’s comments included ‘way too much campaign-related things’ and ‘attacks on the media [that] did not fit and were wrong.’ It was Trump’s ebullient self-promotion that most troubled this former official and others. … [One former station chief] in the Middle East noted the odd discordance of a boastful, sometimes misleading presentation ‘to an audience whose focus in life is to see through lies and deception …’ But for a CIA that is tired of having a ‘kick me’ sign on its backside, it was obviously nice to be massaged.”
-- Former CIA Director John Brennan said Trump’s self-referential remarks in front of a wall memorializing fallen officers was a “despicable display of self-aggrandizement," according to a statement released through a former aide. Brennan, his aide said, thought Trump “should be ashamed of himself.” (CNN)
-- Ryan Crocker, who was serving at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut in 1983 when all eight members of the CIA team were killed in a suicide bombing, said he was “appalled” by Trump’s comments: “Whatever his intentions, it was horrible," Crocker tells The New Yorker’s Robin Wright. “As he stood there talking about how great Trump is, I kept looking at the wall behind him—as I’m sure everyone in the room was, too. He has no understanding of the world and what is going on. It was really ugly. Why, did he even bother? I can’t imagine a worse Day One scenario. And what’s next?’”
-- “It’s simply inappropriate to engage in self obsession on a spot that memorializes those who obsessed about others, and about mission, more than themselves,” adds John McLaughlin, a thirty-year C.I.A. veteran and a former acting director of the C.I.A. “Also, people there spent their lives trying to figure out what’s true, so it’s hard to make the case that the media created a feud with Trump. It just ain’t so.”
THERE'S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:
-- “As Cold War turns to Information War, a new fake news police combats disinformation,” by Anthony Faiola in Prague: “The target of high-stakes Kremlin power plays during the Cold War, the Czech Republic is again on the front lines of a contest with Russia and its sympathizers — this time in the Information Wars. Inside a mustard-yellow stucco building in northwest Prague, Benedikt Vangeli is a commander in that fight — leading a new SWAT team for truth. Armed with computers and smartphones, the freshly formed government unit is charged with scouring the Internet and social media, fact-checking, then flagging false reports to the public. Following the fake news barrage during the U.S. presidential race, the worried Czechs are not the only ones suddenly breaking into the fact-checking business. Nations including Finland and Germany are either setting up or weighing similar operations as fears mount over disinformation campaigns in key elections that could redefine Europe’s political map this year. The stakes are high: If pro-Kremlin politicians win in an anchor nation like France, it could potentially spell the end of the European Union.”
-- “Russia: Life After Trust,” by New York Magazine's Michael Idov: “One tends to imagine life in an autocratic regime as dominated by fear and oppression: armed men in the street, total surveillance, chanted slogans, and whispered secrets. It is probably a version of that picture that has been flitting lately through the nightmares of American liberals fretting about the damage a potential autocrat might do to an open society. But residents of a hybrid regime such as Russia’s — that is, an autocratic one that retains the façade of a democracy — know the Orwellian notion is needlessly romantic. Russian life … (is) marked less by fear than by cynicism: the all-pervasive idea that no institution is to be trusted, because no institution is bigger than the avarice of the person in charge. Post-Soviet Russia is a spectacular modern case of what happens when that basic trust between the individual and the institution, any institution, breaks down. And it may now — we shall see — provide some useful lessons for the brave new world the U.S. has just entered.”
-- BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith defends his decision to publish the unverified dossier that highlighted what the Russians might possibly have on Trump: “News organizations should instead consider this reality: Our audience inhabits a complex, polluted information environment; our role is to help them navigate it — not to pretend it doesn’t exist,” he writes in a New York Times op-ed. “There is an instinct, easy to understand, to turn away from this chaos. Some legacy media organizations have reacted to the new challenges by retreating to traditional reporting procedures of ostentatious, and sometimes false, balance and voice-of-God authority. Their theory is that the media can confront power by engaging in a theater of traditional journalism and proving their purity and incorruptibility — in short, hew to the same rules that got them steamrollered in 2016. This retreat is dangerous. Instead, we need to develop new rules that adhere to the core values of honesty and respect for our audience. That means debunking falsehoods, and being transparent with readers about our process of reporting. Sometimes, it means publishing unverified information in a transparent way that informs our users of its provenance, its impact and why we trust or distrust it.”
-- The New Yorker, “Doomsday prep for the super-rich,” by Evan Osnos: “In private Facebook groups, wealthy survivalists swap tips on gas masks, bunkers, and locations safe from the effects of climate change. One member, the head of an investment firm, told me, ‘I keep a helicopter gassed up all the time, and I have an underground bunker with an air-filtration system.’ How did a preoccupation with the apocalypse come to flourish in Silicon Valley, a place known, to the point of cliché, for unstinting confidence in its ability to change the world for the better? Those impulses are not as contradictory as they seem. Technology rewards the ability to imagine wildly different futures … [which] can inspire radical optimism—such as the cryonics movement, which calls for freezing bodies at death in the hope that science will one day revive them—or bleak scenarios. Tim Chang, the venture capitalist who keeps his bags packed, told me, ‘My current state of mind is oscillating between optimism and sheer terror.’”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
First, two memes that went viral on inauguration day:
Here's how the governor of Wisconsin reacted to the Packers loss:
The baker of Obama's 2013 inaugural cake accused the Trump team of cake plagiarism:
The cake on the left is the one I made for President Obama's inauguration 4 years ago. The one on the right is Trumps. I didn't make it. 🤔 pic.twitter.com/qJXpCfPhii— Duff Goldman (@Duff_Goldman) January 21, 2017
Scenes from Saturday's march in D.C., including some memorable signs:
This sign is relevant to my interests pic.twitter.com/v0jtcGddRF— Mazel Tov Cocktail (@AdamSerwer) January 21, 2017
Oh just out for a casual stroll pic.twitter.com/cnIzLde1Xc— Ben Terris (@bterris) January 21, 2017
A lot of celebrities showed up for the march, which Trump criticized on Twitter as being damaging to the protesters' cause:
There was even a demonstration in Antarctica:
The National Park Service Twitter account was suspended after retweeting a New York Times reporter's comparisons between Trump and Obama's inaugural crowd sizes:
We regret the mistaken RTs from our account yesterday and look forward to continuing to share the beauty and history of our parks with you pic.twitter.com/mctNNvlrmv— NationalParkService (@NatlParkService) January 21, 2017
Michael Flynn Jr., the son of the National Security Adviser, drew widespread condemnation for his attacks on the women's march:
Here's a sampling of reaction to Trump's speech at the CIA:
A president who speaks from hallowed ground at Langley about crowd size and press coverage may soon see his ratings drop into the 20s.— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) January 21, 2017
Reading Trump's CIA transcript, I realize that he lied about his crowd size to intelligence analysts who make a living studying crowds.— Walter Shapiro (@MrWalterShapiro) January 22, 2017
.@POTUS at CIA on Iraq: “We should have kept the oil. Maybe we’ll have another chance.” No. That's pillaging, and it's a war crime.— Seth Moulton (@sethmoulton) January 22, 2017
And to Sean Spicer's first press event:
"This is what you should be writing and covering ... " Chilling words to hear in the first White House briefing.— Karen Tumulty (@ktumulty) January 21, 2017
Spicer is delivering the most irresponsible, angry & scary statement I've ever heard in WH. They are at war with press. It will not hold.— david maraniss (@davidmaraniss) January 21, 2017
This is not a political campaign. It is not a game. This is now the White House lying to the American people.— Binyamin Appelbaum (@BCAppelbaum) January 21, 2017
If @seanspicer is going to lie in your faces fellow reporters, you don't need to go to his briefings. You don't need to talk to him at all.— jennifer steinhauer (@jestei) January 22, 2017
Embarrassing and frightening, as is Trump's daily campaign to delegitimize the free press in a country founded on the idea. https://t.co/3iucAm71aQ— Jon Ralston (@RalstonReports) January 21, 2017
Sean Spicer just reminded millions of people why they marched today.— Franklin Foer (@FranklinFoer) January 21, 2017
Categorically, demonstrably false. The new WH press secretary opens his time with a lie & takes no questions? https://t.co/WfqyBmKb92— Stephen Hayes (@stephenfhayes) January 21, 2017
It is embarrassing, as an American, to watch this briefing by Sean Spicer from the podium at the White House. Not the RNC. The White House.— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) January 21, 2017
Former White House officials weighed in:
This is called a statement you're told to make by the President. And you know the President is watching.— Ari Fleischer (@AriFleischer) January 21, 2017
@JayCarney No. Not wrong. It indeed wasn't "normal", but the reason Sean said it was because his boss told him to say it. He didn't wing it.— Ari Fleischer (@AriFleischer) January 22, 2017
Mark Halperin posed this question -- check out Nicolle Wallace's response:
Credibility they don't value, goodwill they don't think they need, professionalism they aren't capable of, humility they wouldn't recognize https://t.co/8mu58IRW0M— Nicolle Wallace (@NicolleDWallace) January 22, 2017
From yet another Bush 43 White House alumnus (though in fairness this was BEFORE Spicer's presser):
The smart press secretary will remember: he is rationed one lie per career. Use it wisely @seanspicer— David Frum (@davidfrum) January 18, 2017
Maggie Haberman is hearing this from sources:
Putting everything else aside, I've had a few people close to Trump administration suggest this may have been a trap for the press sec.— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) January 22, 2017
He was not Trump's first choice for press secretary, and was pushed by Priebus.— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) January 22, 2017
And he may have walked himself into it.— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) January 22, 2017
Meanwhile, hashtags related to Spicer and Conway are going viral:
I have not regained a pound in six years. Period. #SpicerFacts— Claire McCaskill (@clairecmc) January 22, 2017
“The Death Star had no design flaws. Period.” pic.twitter.com/mZBB4MnPLm— Matt O'Brien (@ObsoleteDogma) January 22, 2017
"Nickelback are the most respected and admired musical performers of all time. Period." pic.twitter.com/K15AbYr8Ml— southpaw (@nycsouthpaw) January 22, 2017
Packers are roaring into the Super Bowl!#alternativefacts— Charles P. Pierce (@CharlesPPierce) January 22, 2017
Student Loan Rep: You're behind on your payments— Sylvia Obell (@SylviaObell) January 22, 2017
Me: Let me offer some #alternativefacts
Hillary is president right now. I choose to believe this. #alternativefacts— Full Frontal (@FullFrontalSamB) January 22, 2017
Another on-the-news joke:
Stars Jumbotron with a topical joke. pic.twitter.com/9vsmTG1Agj— Kate Morrison (@unlikelyfanatic) January 22, 2017
A lot of Trump's inaugural swag was made ... in CHINA:
"We will follow two simple rules; buy American and hire American." -- President Trump, inaugural address https://t.co/TNflaEG81E— Julie Bykowicz (@bykowicz) January 22, 2017
Here are more photos of lawmakers, celebrities and other cultural figures at women's marches around the world:
Finally, in case you missed it, Obama tweeted from his personal account again:
Hi everybody! Back to the original handle. Is this thing still on? Michelle and I are off on a quick vacation, then we’ll get back to work.— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) January 20, 2017
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
HOT ON THE LEFT
“Merriam-Webster Shuts Down Kellyanne Conway’s Idea Of ‘Alternative Facts,’” from HuffPost: “A day after White House press secretary Sean Spicer lied through an entire press briefing about the size of the crowds at President Donald Trump’s inauguration, Kellyanne Conway on Sunday insisted he had done no such thing. [But] not only did host Chuck Todd call out Conway for equating falsehoods with ‘alternative facts’ … but the dictionary itself stepped in to help clear things up. ‘A fact is a piece of information presented as having objective reality,’ tweeted the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, who, having had the job of defining words since 1828, knows a thing or two about the English language. The dictionary also linked to a post that it wrote (well, its editors wrote) about how Conway’s comments fueled a spike in online searches for the word ‘fact.’”
HOT ON THE RIGHT
“Senator: Death penalty for cop-killing ambushes,” from the Washington Examiner: “Criminals who ambush and kill police officers could face the death penalty if an Alaska Republican gets his way. ‘And that includes the states like mine that, at the state level, don't have the death penalty,’ Sen. Dan Sullivan [said] … Sullivan proposed the idea as part of a suite of enhanced penalties for attacks on first responders and members of the judiciary. He believes the legislation will have at least symbolic significance, and perhaps deter attacks on police following an uptick in police fatalities over the past year. ‘It sends a signal to law enforcement, whether in Alaska or nationally, 'hey, we got your back,'’ Sullivan said. Sullivan thinks it's best to act sooner than later, due to the symbolic value of protection first responders and so that prosecutors have the maximum power to crack down on future crimes.”
At the White House: Trump holds a listening sessions with business leaders, union leaders and workers; signs executive orders; participates in the daily briefing; hosts a bicameral leadership reception; and meets with Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
On Capitol Hill: The Senate meets at 3 p.m. to consider Pompeo's nomination for CIA director. The House meets at 2 p.m. for legislative business, with 11 suspension votes postponed until 6:30 p.m.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
"The truth of the matter is he had a successful inauguration with a respectful crowd. The transition of power went off without a hitch. His supporters were amiable by and large. But then he can never let go and stop watching cable TV. Now he's off to the worst start of a presidency in a very long time." -- Presidential historian Douglas Brinkley, who met with Trump at Mar-a-Lago over the Christmas holiday, to Politico
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- Pack your umbrella. the Capital Weather Gang forecasts a day full of rain and strong winds to kick off the week: “Today is a windy washout – especially this morning through around mid-afternoon. Allow some extra time to get where you’re going as the rain may be heavy times. Winds are sustained at 15 to 25 mph, with some gusts over 40 mph not out of the question. Umbrellas may not be of much use. Late in the afternoon, the steady rain becomes more showery and winds let up slightly, but still remain gusty. Total rainfall amounts of 1-1.5 inches are possible. Temperatures hold mostly in the 40s to near 50.”
-- The Women’s March on Washington led to D.C. Metro’s second-busiest day in history, surpassing figures from Friday’s presidential inauguration and climbing to more than one million. The numbers trailed just behind President Obama’s record-setting figures in 2009, when 1.1 million trips were taken. (Faiz Siddiqui)
-- D.C. police arrested 230 protesters on Inauguration Day, corralling demonstrators at 12th and L streets NW after they went on a rampage through downtown with hammers and crowbars. But defense attorneys pushed back on the mass arrests, saying protesters were “trapped and detained” and then arrested without being given dispersal orders. (Peter Hermann and Michael E. Miller)
-- Meanwhile, District police arrested a 30-year-old Florida man in connection with Friday’s anti-inauguration demonstrations in which several officers were injured. The man allegedly threw a rock at officers – and knocked one unconscious – before fleeing the scene. (Faiz Siddiqui and Paul Duggan)
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Women talked about why they marched on Saturday:
One week after Rosa Segal finished her final round of chemotherapy, she traveled five hours by bus to join the Women's March in D.C. She protested with her daughter against the repeal of Obamacare:
John Lewis gave a fiery speech at the Women's March in Atlanta:
Spicer berates the press the day after the inauguration:
Earlier this year, Spicer talked about how lying to reporters is dangerous:
Trump chose Frank Sinatra's "My Way" for his first dance with Melania Trump:
Meanwhile, celebrities delivered heartfelt thank-yous to former President Obama for advocating for LGBT equality:
SNL rewrote a number from Chicago for Conway:
The cold open featured a shirtless Vladimir Putin:
Host Aziz Ansari slammed the racism Trump has stirred up:
Jimmy Kimmel solemnly swore to "faithfully satirize, criticize, lampoon and harpoon" the new president over the next four years:
Stephen Colbert devoted his monologue to the inauguration:
Jon Favreau and Dan Pfeiffer chatted with Seth Meyers:
Finally, people on the street thought Trump had already been inaugurated on Thursday: