With Breanne Deppisch

THE BIG IDEA: Mitch McConnell defended his decision to have the Senate formally vote to block Elizabeth Warren from speaking about the nomination of Jeff Sessions to be attorney general. “She was warned,” he said. “She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”

The majority leader said the firebrand from Massachusetts broke the chamber’s rules by reading past statements about Sessions from Coretta Scott King and Ted Kennedy. “The senator has impugned the motives and conduct of our colleague from Alabama,” McConnell said, setting up a series of exceptionally rare roll-call votes to silence Warren until Sessions is confirmed.

-- In these angry times, the activist base of the Democratic Party wants its politicians to be fighters. When Republicans were in the wilderness, the party’s base valued hostility toward Barack Obama more than ideological purity. That’s how Donald Trump became the GOP’s standard bearer. The same principle will now apply for exiled Democrats. For the purposes of winning the 2020 nomination, it will be impossible to be too anti-Trump.

-- McConnell gagging Warren is one of the best gifts she could have received, and her birthday is not even until June. It solidifies her bona fides as a fighter for progressive causes. Just hours before the showdown on the floor, which Warren had not planned for, the former Harvard Law professor announced that she will come out with a book this spring called “This Fight is Our Fight.

-- The brouhaha will be especially resonant because it touches race and gender, two of the most volatile fault lines in American life. During Black History Month, McConnell specifically cited portions of a letter that the widow of Martin Luther King Jr. wrote to the Senate Judiciary Committee in opposition to Sessions’s 1986 nomination to be a federal judge as a justification for the votes to rebuke Warren. “Mr. Sessions has used the awesome power of his office to chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens,” King wrote three decades ago, referencing prosecutions he oversaw as the U.S. attorney for Alabama.

As Barack Obama’s former top strategist, David Axelrod, puts it:

-- Sanctioning Warren also gives her underlying message a much bigger platform: She was speaking to a nearly empty chamber against a nominee who, no matter what, is going to get confirmed later today. Very few people paid attention to similar floor speeches against Betsy DeVos the night before. Now millions of people will read the letter that King wrote.

Rachel Maddow interrupted her MSNBC show for a live telephone interview with Warren. “I’ve been red-carded on Sen. Sessions,” she lamented. The senator then went into another room in the Capitol and read King’s letter aloud on Facebook Live. By morning, it had more than 5.2 million views:

-- This really could help Warren make inroads with African Americans: There are relatively few black voters in Massachusetts, but members of the community will determine who wins the South Carolina primary in three years (it’s coming up faster than you think). Bernie Sanders just might have stopped Hillary Clinton if he had figured out a way to break through her firewall with African American voters. So there is no doubt that Warren World celebrated as groups like the NAACP and the Congressional Black Caucus quickly rallied behind her.

-- The top trending hashtags on Twitter overnight are all about the donnybrook: #LetLizSpeak and #ShePersisted. An online clothing site for independent designers, RedBubble.com, is even selling “She Persisted” T-shirts and sweatshirts. Thousands of people are posting pictures of strong women throughout history with the caption #ShePersisted:

-- The clips, as well as this morning’s cable TV  coverage, are predictably brutal for the GOP. “The Senate voted … to tell … Warren to sit down — and shut up,” says the lead story on Politico.

-- McConnell has a well-earned reputation as one of the savviest political operators of the post-war era, so it’s hard to imagine he didn’t know how his move would play. To channel Marco Rubio, we should dispense with the fiction that McConnell doesn't know what he's doing. He knows exactly what he's doing. So you cannot just dismiss it as a fit of pique. Perhaps he is strategically trying to elevate Warren. Maybe he thinks that life will be harder for the 10 Democrats up for reelection next year in states Trump carried if Warren, not Chuck Schumer, is the face of their caucus. She has been getting less buzz recently, compared to some of the younger whippersnappers who also want to run. Maybe, seeing this, McConnell concluded that Warren is ultimately the most beatable potential Democratic nominee in a head-to-head with Trump in 2020. He plays the long game that way. Just ask Merrick Garland.

-- The big-picture context matters here. It’s no secret that the Senate is in the grips of an interminable partisan fever, a long-term illness that has enfeebled what was once the world’s greatest deliberative body. The boycotts of confirmation votes in committee last week and the blow-up last night are simply symptoms of a chamber reaching its boiling point. Chuck Schumer voted against McConnell’s wife to be Transportation secretary last week. George Mitchell voting against Elizabeth Dole to be secretary of labor when Bob Dole was majority leader in 1989 would have been unimaginable. But the Senate, it is a changin’.

Furthermore, McConnell must show the 51 Republicans he leads that he can be a fighter. Many of his rank-and-file members are incensed at Democrats for slow-walking the confirmations, which has stopped them from being able to move onto big-ticket agenda items, such as replacing Obamacare. Because senators are people too, they get irritable and angry when they have to come into work early and stay late for multiple nights in a row. McConnell was channeling this anger.

-- The galvanizing effect of McConnell’s decision for Senate Democrats may be greater than whatever cathartic value their Republican counterparts take from it. With the exception of the most vulnerable red-state incumbents, last night is going to make it that much harder for Democrats to vote for anything Trump or McConnell wants. Here’s a taste of what Schumer’s rank-and-file are saying:

Just before 6 a.m., Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) went on the floor to decry what transpired overnight:

On Friday morning, I’ll interview Murphy at The Post’s headquarters for the next installment of “The 202 Live.” We’ll talk for an hour about the path forward for Democrats in the Trump era and what role the resistance movement will play. Register to attend here.

Welcome to the Daily 202, PowerPost's morning newsletter. Sign up to receive the newsletter.

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

-- Three U.S. appellate judges on the 9th Circuit heard oral arguments in the case over Trump’s immigration order last night, lobbing critical inquiries at both challengers and defendants of the travel ban. Matt Zapotosky and Robert Barnes report: “The broad legal issue is whether Trump acted within his authority ... or whether his order essentially amounts to a discriminatory ban on Muslims. The judges must also weigh the harm the ban imposes, and whether it is proper for them to intervene in a national security matter on which the president is viewed as the ultimate authority.” The court said it expects to make a decision on the matter “probably this week” – affecting the plans of tens of thousands of travelers whose visas have been stuck in a state of agonizing limbo.

-- Trump weighed in on the case this morning:

-- A Quinnipiac University poll finds that 51 percent of Americans are opposed to Trump’s order suspending travel from seven majority-Muslim countries, while 60 percent oppose Trump’s order to halt refugee travel to the U.S. for 120 days. By a margin of 70 percent to 26 percent, voters oppose Trump’s order to indefinitely block Syrian refugees.

GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. A wall of violent thunderstorms barreled through Louisiana, unleashing a powerful torrent of tornadoes that wiped homes from foundations, downed power lines, and threatened to wreak structural havoc in parts of eastern New Orleans. Sadly, most of the damage is concentrated near the city's 9th Ward -- the area that saw the most devastation from Hurricane Katrina. (Angela Fritz)
  2. A NASA facility in NOLA suffered a direct hit from one of the twisters, causing damage to a building where workers are building key components of a new deep-space rocket. It ripped holes in the roof and walls, but officials are still working to determine the total extent of the damage. (Joel Achenbach
  3. Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley is “strongly” leaning toward picking the state's attorney general Luther Strange to replace. Jeff Sessions. Operatives cautioned that the governor has not formally tapped Strange to replace Sessions, and Bentley could change his mind. But all three said that Strange - a hulking former basketball player nicknamed “Big Luther” - has made plans to travel to D.C. this week. Another source said he has reached out to set up interviews over the coming days in Washington with potential staffers for a Senate office. (Politico)
  4. PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, a key Trump supporter, has decided not to run for governor of California in 2018. He would have gotten absolutely crushed if he had, so this is just a bow to reality that will save him millions of his fortune. (Los Angeles Times)
  5. The wife of a Russian opposition activist who was hospitalized last week after falling suddenly ill said he was poisoned by an “unidentified substance.” The news comes after her husband Vladimir Kara-Murza Jr. -- a journalist and ally of murdered opposition leader Boris Nemtsov – began experiencing symptoms similar to a mysterious poisoning that nearly killed him two years earlier. (AP)
  6. A suicide bomber struck Afghanistan’s Supreme Court in Kabul, killing at least 19 people and wounding more than 40 others. No one immediately claimed responsibility, though the attack bore hallmarks of recent Taliban-led assaults. (AP)
  7. A multi-state killing spree along the Gulf Coast came to an end overnight after Georgia police faced off with a couple accused of murdering four women in a twisted rampage. Police said they took suspect Mary Rice into custody, while William Boyette killed himself before his arrest. (Travis M. Andrews)
  8. Residents in a small Arkansas town that has not seen a homicide in more than 25 years are reeling after a beloved 21-year-old convenience store clerk was allegedly shot dead at work by a 12-year-old boy. (Kristine Guerra)
  9. A Pennsylvania woman was found dead in a clothing donation bin after she apparently attempted to rummage through the items late at night – causing the door to snap shut on her arm and leaving her dangling for hours in midair. Officials are mystified, noting that her enormous SUV did not appear to suggest she was looking for handouts. (Travis M. Andrews)
  10. Two open-carry advocates were arrested after marching into a Michigan police station wearing balaclava and toting loaded rifles. The duo said they were simply trying to make a statement about gun laws as they stopped in to file a traffic complaint – but incredulous law enforcement officials said their sunglasses and body armor suggested differently. (Amy B. Wang)
  11. In Bolivia, reckless drivers are equally likely to be confronted by a steely-faced police officer as they are by a … dancing human decked out in a zebra costume. The striped-suited pedestrians are part of a legitimate program to help enforce roadway safety, and though their methods may be downright bizarre – rather than issuing a ticket, for example, a “zebra” may lay on the hood of a driver’s vehicle – they have been found to be surprisingly effective. The program seeks to emulate a similar Colombian effort that used mimes as a means of deterrence – and managed to slash area traffic fatalities in half. (The Atlantic)
Sean Spicer takes questions from reporters. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

MORE WEST WING INTRIGUE:

-- The White House is ramping up its search for a communications director, seeking to lighten the load of embattled press secretary Sean Spicer after his initial performance personally “disappointed” the president. Trump is upset with Reince Priebus over the selection of Spicer, CNN’s Jim Acosta reports. “Priebus vouched for Spicer and against Trump's instincts,’ [a] source said. The President ‘regrets it every day and blames Priebus,’ the source added. But a senior administration official says Trump supports Spicer ‘100%.’”

-- Trump makes a 3 a.m. phone call. From the Huffington Post’s S.V. Dáte and Christina Wilkie: “President Trump was confused about the dollar: Was it a strong one that’s good for the economy? Or a weak one? So ... he called his national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, according to two sources familiar with Flynn’s accounts of the incident. Flynn has a long record in counterintelligence but not in macroeconomics. And he told Trump he didn’t know, that it wasn’t his area of expertise, that, perhaps, Trump should ask an economist instead. Trump was not thrilled with that response ― but that may have been a function of the time of day. Trump had placed the call at 3 a.m., according to one of Flynn’s retellings ― although neither the White House nor Flynn’s office responded to requests for confirmation about that detail.”

Two more nuggets:

  • “The commander in chief doesn’t like to read long memos, a White House aide who asked to remain unnamed told The Huffington Post. So preferably they must be no more than a single page. They must have bullet points but not more than nine per page.”
  • He’s registered a complaint about the hand towels aboard Air Force One, the White House aide said, because they are not soft enough.

Key quote from the story: “I’ve been in this town for 26 years. I have never seen anything like this,” said Eliot Cohen, a senior State Department official under President George W. Bush and a member of his National Security Council. “I genuinely do not think this is a mentally healthy president. … This is what happens when you have a narcissist as president."

Michael Flynn speaks in the briefing room last week. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

-- “Of the many puzzles posed by President Trump’s administration, the role of the National Security Council is among the trickiest,” Post columnist David Ignatius explains. “The NSC usually tries to act as an ‘honest broker’ among Cabinet agencies. But how will it function under a headstrong president who sees his role as disruptor and tweeter-in-chief?  … Flynn spoke with me for an hour last Friday. He talked about Trump’s management style, Bannon’s role and his model for how the NSC should work. His comments didn’t answer any of the big questions about Trump’s presidency … But [he] presented a calmer and less combative image than when he mocked Hillary Clinton by chanting 'Lock her up!' during the Republican National Convention. ... Flynn’s real test will be his relationship with his boss. He likened Trump to the chariot driver in 'Ben-Hur,' urging his horses forward. That image captures Flynn’s challenge: how to build an orderly national security process led by a whip-cracking charioteer."

Doug Ericksen talks to reporters last Thursday at the Washington State Capitol in Olympia. Ericksen is currently serving as both a state senator and a member of Trump's administration. (Ted S. Warren/AP)

-- “Doug Ericksen is trying to hold down two jobs in two different Washingtons. And it’s not going terribly well,” by Lisa Rein and Brady Dennis: “Ericksen was an early backer of [Trump] who shares the president’s skepticism of environmental regulations and climate change. In January, he was rewarded with a job in Washington D.C., running communications and helping to reshape the Environmental Protection Agency. But he didn’t leave his old job to take on the new one. Erickson remains a top Republican in the Washington state Senate, which is currently in session 2,808 miles due west in Olympia. His absence is the linchpin to party control of the state Senate, since Washington state Republicans control the chamber by just one vote. Without him, party-line votes are tied … But Ericksen has pretty much been missing in action for the first month of the legislature’s 105- day session. Presidential transition experts say they cannot recall a precedent for the unusual arrangement of a politician with a day job serving in a temporary federal job. And it’s put Ericksen on the fault line between parties, the coasts and the rift between federal and state governments that Trump’s election laid bare.”

A Yemeni woman walks past graffiti protesting U.S. military operations in the country. (Yahya Arhab/EPA)

TRUMP'S WORLD:

-- Yemen has withdrawn permission for the U.S. to run Special Operations ground missions against suspected terrorist groups in the country, after the first Trump-authorized commando raid left multiple civilians dead. “The raid, in which just about everything went wrong, was an early test of Mr. Trump’s national security decision-making — and his willingness to rely on the assurances of his military advisers,” the New York Times’ David E. Sanger reports on the front page. Grisly photos of children killed in the crossfire began to surface in Yemen, further stoking outrage. The Times reports that Trump’s approval of the raid came over a dinner held with national security aides four nights earlier, rather than a rigorous Situation Room review. But Trump officials continue to insist the operation was a “success.”

-- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the president had their first telephone call on Tuesday -- a highly anticipated conversation in which Erdogan was expected to press Trump to reject Pentagon proposals to arm Kurdish fighters in Syria and pressure him to extradite cleric Fethullah Gulen, who he blames for last year’s failed coup attempt. Kareem Fahim and Karen DeYoung report: “During the U.S. presidential campaign, Trump referred in glowing terms to Erdogan’s handling of a failed coup attempt [and told] the New York Times that he hoped Turkey 'can do a lot' about the Islamic State. Erdogan hailed Trump’s election, quickly extended an invitation to visit Turkey and even praised Trump for putting a reporter 'in his place.' …. More recently, the Turkish president has avoided condemning Trump’s ban on travel to the United States from seven Muslim-majority countries — despite the fact that Erdogan is the Islamist leader of a Muslim-majority country who has spoken out forcefully in the past against perceived anti-Muslim bias.”

-- Trump’s call with French President Francois Hollande did not go well. Politico reports that our president spent much of the conversation “veering off into rants about the U.S. getting shaken down by other countries.” At one point, Trump declared that the French can continue protecting NATO, but that the U.S. “wants our money back,” with one source noting that Trump seemed to be “obsessing over money." While the Hollande call, which happened Jan. 28, did touch on pressing matters between the two countries —namely the fight against ISIS -- Trump also vented about his personal fixations, including his belief that the United States is being taken advantage of by China.

-- Trump invited Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to his Mar-a-Lago resort this weekend, White House officials confirmed, inviting the foreign leader to decamp at the Palm Beach resort after the two meet at the White House for a day of meetings on Friday. (Anna Fifield)

-- A bipartisan group of more than 30 U.S. lawmakers has penned a letter urging Trump to sanction Venezuela, citing an AP investigation that found corruption in the country’s food imports. The letter also calls for a thorough probe into alleged drug trafficking and support for Middle Eastern terror groups by the country’s new vice president. (AP)

TRUMP'S AMERICA:

-- POTUS hosted a group of county sheriffs at the White House for a “listening session," in which he repeated his false campaign-trail claim that the U.S. murder rate is the highest it has been in 47 years. Tom Jackman reports: Trump then blamed the news media for not publicizing this development. In fact, the country’s murder rate is almost at its lowest point, according to annual statistics compiled by the FBI. Violent crime rate in America also has plummeted over the years.

-- Trump suggested he could "go after" and "destroy" a Texas state senator during the same meeting. With cameras rolling, a county sheriff complained about asset forfeiture legislation that he believed would aid Mexican drug cartels. “Who's the state senator?” Trump asked. “Do you want to give his name? We'll destroy his career." The law enforcement officials in the room laughed. (Christopher Ingraham)

-- Trump accused his critics of playing "the racist card" when they attempt to characterize his policies as anti-Muslim or anti-black. "The first thing they do with the Republicans or conservatives is the racist card,” the president told Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly in a clip from their interview that did not air until last night. “They always do that. It's not just me. I mean, they do it with everybody. And I see that — and once you know that you feel a lot better about it." He also defended himself against criticism that he makes comments without factual evidence to back them up -- such as an unsubstantiated claim that “millions” of illegal voters participated in the presidential election. "Well, many people have come out and said I am right," Trump said. "You know that. ... Look, Bill, we can be babies, but you take a look at the registration — you have illegals, you have dead people, you have this, it's really a bad situation. It's really bad." (Philip Rucker)

-- Kellyanne Conway clashed with CNN host Jake Tapper last night, after he challenged her about the White House’s repeated unsubstantiated claims and attacks on the media. “Conway defended the administration, saying it has a ‘high regard for the facts’ and also said that CNN is not ‘fake news’ despite Trump repeatedly accusing the network of putting out false stories,” Politico reports. “Facts are stubborn things, and to say that we're not reporting something that happens not to be true, therefore we're not to be trusted, that's a problem,” Tapper said. (Watch here.)

-- The Department of Defense is looking to rent space at Trump Tower, citing the need to be within “close proximity” of Trump when he's at his New York residence. Leasing officials told CNN that the floors available for rent cost about $1.5 million a year, and the prospect of a government agency paying rent to a company owned by the president raises fresh questions about Trump profiting off his office. (Drew Harwell)

-- The Army said it will grant the final permit needed for completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline, shuttering plans to prepare an environmental impact report and clearing the final bureaucratic hurdle for the project. (Juliet Eilperin)

-- A coalition of veteran Republican statesmen, including five who have either served as treasury secretary or as chairs of the Council of Economic Advisers — will meet with top White House officials today to discuss replacing Obama’s climate plans with a CARBON TAX. Chris Mooney and Juliet Eilperin have a preview: “The newly formed Climate Leadership Council — which includes James A. Baker, Henry Paulson, George P. Shultz, Marty Feldstein and Greg Mankiw — is proposing elimination of nearly all of the Obama administration’s climate policies in exchange for a rising carbon tax that starts at $40 per ton and is returned in the form of a quarterly check from the Social Security Administration to every American. ‘Mounting evidence of climate change is growing too strong to ignore,’ the proposal said. ‘While the extent to which climate change is due to man-made causes can be questioned, the risks associated with future warming are too big and should be hedged. At least we need an insurance policy.’” Many congressional Republicans are adamantly against a tax increase of any kind, and Trump continues to emphasize he is far more interested in promoting the extraction of fossil fuels in the U.S. than curbing the nation’s carbon emissions.

-- Trump invited Democratic Sens. Heidi Heitkamp, Joe Manchin, Jon Tester and Joe Donnelly to the White House for lunch on Thursday. (USA Today's Heidi M. Przybyla)

Tom Cotton and David Perdue unveil immigration legislation yesterday. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

TOM COTTON RISING:

-- Two Republican senators introduced legislation that could effectively cut LEGAL immigration in half. From Fox News’s Joseph Weber:The bill by Sens. Tom Cotton, Arkansas, and David Perdue, Georgia, would reduce the number of green cards issued annually from 1 million to 500,000. ‘The net effect is to cut American immigration in half,’ Cotton told Fox News. … Cotton argues that issues such as illegal entry, border security and immigration enforcement are important but that the country also has to address the impact of legal immigration on U.S. workers. ‘Right now, we have a legal immigration system that’s not working for American workers,’ he said. ‘Blue-collar workers, people working with their hands, on their feet, have seen their wages stagnate for decades.’” 

-- Cotton has emerged as one of Trumpism’s leading voices, Chris Cillizza notes in a smart column: He clearly recognizes that Trumpism lacks an obvious voice in the Senate with Sessions gone. “While Cotton's résumé isn't the same as Trump's — for many people it is more impressive than that of the current president — what it reflects is that both men have spent time in elite circles and come out of that experience even more convinced that those elites are out of touch with what average people want and need. … While many of his colleagues continue to go about their business as though Trump's election has changed very little about their party or their jobs, Cotton appears convinced that Trump has fundamentally turned the GOP to a more nationalist, populist tone. And he wants to be on the leading edge of that movement.”

As Cotton explained his immigration bill to Politico: “Donald Trump was the only one who saw that most Americans don’t like our current immigration system. This is just the area of politics where I think leaders and elites are most disconnected from the people. Not just Republicans but in both parties, in business, in the media, in the academy, culture and so forth.”

-- The Cotton-Perdue proposal got relatively little mainstream media coverage but high marks from National Review and Bretibart, as well as extensive airtime on  Fox News.

-- It also broke through bigly on Spanish-language TV:

Mike Pence walks to the Senate Republican policy luncheon. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

THE CABINET:

-- Mike Pence cast the deciding vote to confirm Betsy DeVos as education secretary, allowing her to narrowly squeak by with a 51-50 vote. Elise Viebeck and Ed O’Keefe report: “The Senate also voted to ‘invoke cloture’ — limit debate — on the nomination of Jeff Sessions to be attorney general by a vote of 52 to 47, setting him up for a final confirmation vote later in the week. Sen. Joe Manchin III was the only Democrat to join Republicans in voting to advance the nomination.” Meanwhile, the rest of Trump’s Cabinet nominees are expected to see little to no support from Democrats going forward: As of Monday, no Democratic lawmaker had announced support for Health and Human Services nominee Tom Price or Treasury secretary pick Steve Mnuchin.

-- The tie-breaking vote shows how Pence has both embraced and expanded his role as vice president – effectively becoming Trump’s eyes and ears in the Senate. Paul Kane reports: “At McConnell’s invitation, Pence attends the weekly policy lunch on Tuesdays … resuming a tradition that Richard B. Cheney kept over his eight years as the last Republican vice president. There, Pence has shown a willingness to talk with members and take questions … What remains to be seen is whether Pence has true clout in a West Wing that seems to thrive off competing power centers. It will always be helpful to have the vice president relaying his intelligence from Capitol Hill back to Trump and his top advisers, but true power comes in shaping the final outcome of decisions. 'I think it’s really indispensable,' Sen. John Cornyn said of Pence’s work, 'because there are so many opportunities for miscommunication or no communication between the executive branch and Congress.'"

Donald and Melania Trump attend the Red Cross Gala at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach on Saturday. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

 THE FIRST FAMILY:

-- A day after Melania Trump filed a lawsuit accusing a British news company of hurting her ability to build a profitable brand, representatives for the first lady issued statements saying that she “has no intention” of using her public position for personal gain. “It is not a possibility,” a spokesman for Melania said. “Any statements to the contrary are being misinterpreted.” The clarification comes after a complaint filed by the first lady's lawyers said an article falsely claiming she was once an escort damaged her “unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to “launch a broad-based commercial brand” when she's going to be one of the most photographed people in the world. (Tom Hamburger)

-- Melania, meanwhile, settled a defamation lawsuit against a Maryland blogger who had accused her of being an escort, after he agreed to apologize to her family and fork over a “substantial” amount of money, her attorneys said on Tuesday. FLOTUS's suit against a British tabloid continues. (Dan Morse)

-- Karen Pence made her first official hire as “second lady," bringing onboard former Barbara Bush staffer Kristan King Nevins as her chief of staff. Pence has taught elementary school for more than 20 years, and plans to use her platform to bring attention to children and art therapy programs. (CNN)

Local police escort Republican Rep. Tom McClintock from a town hall meeting in Roseville, Calif. last Saturday. McClintock on Saturday faced a rowdy crowd as it shouted "Shame on you!" (Randall Benton/The Sacramento Bee via AP)

REPUBLICANS BRACE FOR OBAMACARE SHOWDOWN:

-- House Republicans held a closed-door meeting on Tuesday to discuss how best to protect themselves and staffers from potentially-violent protesters storming town halls and offices in opposition of repeal. Politico's Rachel Bade reports: "House GOP Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers invited Rep. David Reichert, a former county sheriff, to present lawmakers with protective measures they should have in place. The conference discussion comes as Democratic activists around the nation ramp up protests against Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare … Last weekend, conservative Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) … had to be escorted out of a town hall meeting by a half-dozen police officers after the crowd turned angry. And just as Republicans were leaving their conference meeting Tuesday, more than 100 protesters showed up at one of Rep. Martha McSally's Arizona congressional offices."

-- Shot: Paying for healthcare now ranks as the top concern among American families, according to a new Monmouth University survey, with one-in-four voters saying it ranks as the top source of anxiety in their household. (Two years ago, just 15 percent ranked it as their family’s primary concern.)

-- Chaser: One-third of Americans do not understand that Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act are the same, according to a Morning Consult poll. The findings underscore the extent of confusion surrounding the law.

THE RESISTANCE:

-- House Democrats are heading to Baltimore this morning for three days of soul-searching and strategizing after a winless month on the Hill, David Weigel and Mike DeBonis report. “The annual issues conference, House Democrats’ first with control of neither Congress nor the White House since 2006, is more introspective and less star-studded than previous years. … They’ll sit for panels and strategy sessions about how to oppose President Trump with an agenda of their own."

  • “We’ll fight Trump where we gotta fight him, press back where we gotta press back, but then we gotta keep pivoting to what our vision for the country is,” said Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan. “I think people are gonna get whiplash with Trump.”
  • California Rep. Eric Swalwell said he’d like to see Democrats concentrate on holding Trump responsible for his campaign promises: “I think this stuff adds up. He may have promised 1,200 Carrier jobs and delivered 800; he may have promised 4 percent GDP [growth] and it’s around 2 percent …  I think just kind of going at those individually may not resonate as much with folks, but… those broken promises will add up, and I think that may be the undoing.”

-- Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who quarterbacked the Democratic takeover of the House in 2006, sought to deliver a wake-up call to his party during a speech at Stanford: "It ain't gonna happen in 2018. Take a chill pill, man. You gotta be in this for the long haul." (Chicago Tribune)

Church members during the closing prayer a service at Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church. (Bob Self/For The Washington Post)

WAPO HIGHLIGHTS:

-- “Two Florida churches — one black, one white — merge in ‘racial reconciliation’ effort,” by Julie Zauzmer: “In 2015, the church … was two congregations, not one. There was the booming black church in the heart of the inner city, led by a charismatic preacher in the staunch tradition of black Baptists. And there was the quiet white church, nestled in the suburbs half an hour to the south, holding onto a tightknit community of Southern Baptist believers. And then the black church and the white church merged. The resulting congregation at Shiloh — black and white, urban and suburban — appears to be the only intentional joint church of its kind in the United States. Fifty-four years after the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. famously pronounced that Sunday morning is ‘the most segregated hour in this nation,’ Shiloh Baptist embarked on a journey to address whether that centuries-old divide can be changed. Now … members at Shiloh say their ambitious effort at racial reconciliation is working”: “You get in there, you get fed,” said one attendee. “I don’t care how you walk in there, you don’t walk out the same.”

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

Ivanka Trump shares a working-mom picture of her son, Theodore:

Republican senators want you to know that Judge Gorsuch loves dogs:

John McCain celebrated his mom's 105th birthday:

Jeff Merkley met with Sioux Chairman Archambault to talk about Trump's moving forward with the Dakota Access Pipeline:

A fun one from Chuck Grassley:

There was lively discussion about whether the Patriots should go to the White House to celebrate their Superbowl win:

More from the media about how it DOES cover terrorist attacks:

This California Democrat made fun of Trump's spelling:

See Lena Dunham's "Trump diet:"

Finally, check out this collapsed block of permafrost in Alaska:

-- After reports that the White House was rattled by Melissa McCarthy’s "SNL" impression of Spicer, Twitter lit up with casting recommendations to play officials in the Trump White House. Dan Zak reports: “Rosie O’Donnell, perhaps [Trump’s] ultimate nemesis, answered the call within one minute. Twitter had decided that she should play White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon on “Saturday Night Live,” and O’Donnell understood the idea almost instantly. [“Available,” she responded in a tweet. “[If] called I will serve!”] [And] how best to tweak Trump’s alleged discomfort with a woman impersonating his male spokesman? Send in more women. TV writer Alan Sepinwall suggested that 'SNL' go 'full drag king on the whole administration,' that Alec Baldwin surrender the Trump character to a rotating cast of women such as Meryl Streep. Will SNL hear the amateur casting agents on Twitter? Maybe. It already has at least once: A Facebook campaign in 2010 catapulted Betty White, then 88, into the hosting spot — which resulted in the show’s biggest TV audience in two years.” 

A good perspective:

GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:

-- The ghostwriter of “It Takes a Village” unloads on Hillary Clinton in a new memoir. Barbara Feinman Todd, who started her career as a researcher for Bob Woodward at The Post in 1983, spent a career writing books with a variety of famous D.C. figures. Washingtonian has an excerpt in next month’s issue. Here are two vignettes about HRC:

1. “When It Takes a Village was published in 1996, Hillary chose not to acknowledge me as her ghost—for reasons that to this day have never been explained. ... Lucky for me, the backlash, dubbed ‘Thankyougate,’ was strong and swift. And the way the First Lady responded made it even worse for her. Rather than backpedal, she and her PR machine doubled down and looked petty by inviting journalists to the White House to see her legal pads of handwritten manuscript pages—supposed proof that she’d written the book herself. Had she just noted that due to a demanding schedule and a tight deadline, she needed some editorial assistance, no one would have noticed or cared. I can’t tell you how many times I thought back to that debacle during last year’s election cycle, when I watched her hubris, her penchant for secrecy, and her poor judgment…

“When the White House decided to issue a press release about my contribution to It Takes a Village in order to tamp down Thankyougate, Maggie Williams, Hillary’s chief of staff, faxed me a draft of the release. It was cordial and stated that the First Lady had relied on me for early drafts over a six-month period. But that wasn’t true. So I called the East Wing and said the timeline needed to be corrected. ‘I worked on the book for eight months,’ I told Maggie. Her response: ‘Would you take seven?’

2. “In April 1995, I was called to the White House for a ‘debriefing’ and escorted to the Solarium in the inner sanctum … In the room this particular day was Jean Houston, a New Agey author and motivational speaker. … Houston was there as a psychic guide who would lead Hillary in a therapeutic exercise. I watched bug-eyed as Houston suggested Hillary close her eyes and imagine she were talking to Eleanor Roosevelt. There they were together in the White House, the ghost of a former First Lady in conversation with the current First Lady, discussing the challenges of the job. Then Houston told Hillary to switch roles and inhabit Mrs. Roosevelt’s mind…

Sean Spicer takes questions during yesterday's briefing. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

-- IF YOU READ ONE THING ABOUT SEAN SPICER: “The 17 rules of Sean Spicer, Rhode Island native,” by the Boston Globe’s’ Mark Arsenault: “In 2014, an accomplished yet little-known Republican communications specialist shared his 17 rules for life with students at his alma mater, the Portsmouth Abbey, a Roman Catholic boarding and day school … Rule No. 2, according to Sean Spicer: Think before you tweet, post, or upload. Funny, considering who his boss is now. But with his deployment of what one of his White House colleagues dubbed ‘alternative facts,’ … the chief spokesman for President Trump has exploded to national notice as few press secretaries do. … [Still], his career in politics has been a long climb of paying his dues … [in fact], one could go so far as to argue that Spicer, raised in Barrington, R.I., can claim the celebrated title of ‘Most Famous Living Rhode Islander at This Particular Moment,’ snatching the tiara from perennial contender Meredith Vieira. As Spicer himself might say: Rule No. 9: Perception is reality.”

James Fallows in 2014. (Paul Bruinooge/Patrick McMullan/Sipa USA)

-- New York Times, “Where History Is Being Made,” by David Brooks: “James and Deborah Fallows have always moved to where history is being made. In the 1980s, when the Japanese economic model seemed like the wave of the future, the husband and wife team moved to Japan with their school-age children. Then, after 9/11, they were back in Washington, with James writing a series of essays for The Atlantic about what might go wrong if the U.S. invaded Iraq. Over the past few years they have been flying around the U.S. … writing about the American social fabric — where it’s in tatters and where it’s in renewal. That was pretty prescient in the lead-up to the age of Trump. Their example has prompted what I call the Fallows Question, which I unfurl at dinner parties: If you could move to the place on earth where history is most importantly being made right now, where would you go?

“Today, I’d say the most pivotal spot on earth is Washington, D.C. The crucial questions will be settled there: Can Donald Trump be induced to govern in some rational manner or will he blow up the world? Does he represent a populist tide that will only grow or is some other set of ideas building for his overthrow? Are the leading institutions — everything from the Civil Service to the news media to the political parties — resilient enough to correct for the Trumpian chaos? … Washington will either preserve the world order or destroy it.”

-- New York Times, “The Guardians of Great Bear Lake, a Refuge for Humanity,” by Peter Kujawinski: “This vast lake in Canada is the first Unesco Biosphere Reserve led by an indigenous community. They guard it as if it were the last hope for humanity. They may have a point.”

HOT ON THE LEFT:

“‘My daughter’s death will not be used’: Parents furious over Trump’s false terrorism claims,” from Avi Selk: “Her daughter had not yet been buried, nor had the newspapers finished turning up bloody details of her death, before Rosie Ayliffe began to write about her child's murderer. ‘Grief is a funny thing,’ she wrote … five days after a man chased her 21-year-old daughter through a hostel, stabbed her to death and killed another backpacker who tried to protect her. She was careful, even then, to write accurately … ‘He ‘is not an Islamic fundamentalist, he has never set foot in a mosque,’ [she wrote]. Then, on Tuesday, both families saw their children's murders on a White House list of terrorist attacks that hadn't gotten enough attention, and Ayliffe said she felt she needed to set down words again. ‘My daughter's death will not be used to further this insane persecution of innocent people,’ she wrote in an open letter to President Trump.’”

 

HOT ON THE RIGHT:

"'All CPS students sent home with letter accusing Gov. Rauner of ‘cheating’ kids,” from WGNTV: “Intense rhetoric between Chicago democrats and Illinois’ republican governor is nothing new, but some parents are upset it is now being played out in a letter sent home with their kids. Chicago Public Schools officials sent home a letter with all 381,000 students blasting Gov. Bruce Rauner and ignoring any role [Democrats] may have played in the state’s budget woes. The ‘Dear Parents’ letter begins by stating ‘Governor Bruce Rauner, just like President Trump, has decided to attack those who need the most help.’ Twice the letter accuses Gov. Rauner of ‘cheating’ children. Once it says the governor ‘stole’ from kids. [Said one CPS parent]: ‘This is so inappropriate. How can he send political propaganda home?’ The letter, paid for by taxpayers, does not mention democrats who have been in control of the city and state legislature for decades."

 

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

"The Trump administration’s grousing sounds more like an East Hampton cocktail party than a serious policy discussion." – Larry Summers

 

NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:

-- Another super-warm day ahead, but enjoy it while you can – temperatures could plummet and even usher in SNOW by late tonight. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Spring-like warmth continues today with partly cloudy skies and the chance of a stray shower. Mild early-morning conditions give way to midday highs in the mid-60s to near 70. Winds breeze in at around 10 mph from the west and southwest this morning, and from the northwest this afternoon. We may fall short of the record high of 70 degrees at both Dulles and BWI, with a better chance of challenging the record high of 68 at Reagan National.”

-- D.C. Council members voted down $63.8 million in raises and retention bonuses for local police officers, declining to push through an emergency legislation package that some have argued is necessary to stanch departures from the city police force. (Peter Jamison)

-- Members of Virginia’s GOP-led legislature moved to wrest power away from Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe, passing a proposed constitutional amendment that enables lawmakers to veto regulations created by the executive branch, Laura Vozzella reports. Meanwhile, Democrats have slammed the resolution, calling it a “risky maneuver” that could shake up the balance of power between branches.

-- The Maryland Court of Appeals voted to overhaul the state’s bail policies, moving to abolish a system in which poor people could languish behind bars for weeks or months before trial. (Ovetta Wiggins and Ann E. Marimow)

-- Dozens of Democratic lawmakers in Maryland are mounting an effort to prevent the board of education from privatizing low-performance public schools in the state. The move comes as lawmakers seek to thwart an effort led by Gov. Larry Hogan to increase the number of charter schools in the state. (Ovetta Wiggins)

-- The Capitals beat the Hurricanes 5-0. They’re really on fire right now.

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

Watch Barack Obama kite-surf with Richard Branson:

Jimmy Kimmel asks whether Trump really knows Putin:

Seth Myers talks about Betsy DeVos's confirmation:

Conan talks about shooting an episode of his show in Mexico called "Conan without borders:"

On Stephen Colbert, John Oliver wonders whether he'll get deported:

Hillary Clinton says “the future is female” in a new video statement that cites as an example the millions of demonstrators who took part in last month’s Women’s March. The video was created for the MAKERS Conference, a California gathering focused on women’s leadership. Clinton says the world needs “strong women to step up and speak out.” Watch:

The Khoja family was supposed to arrive to New York on January 30th. Rutgers Presbyterian Church members were planning to welcome them. But President Trump's executive order halting the entry of Syrian refugees to the U.S. left them stranded in Istanbul as they tried to figure out whether coming to America was still possible:

Post reporters have documented some of the many reasons other Syrians have fled the Middle East: “In Aleppo, it was one of the bloodiest battles of the war. In the cities of Raqqa and Deir al-Zour, it is the iron-fist of the Islamic State. And across areas held by the Syrian government, it is sheer terror at the torture on might face in jail,” Louisa Loveluck writes. As the court decision looms, families wait in limbo, struggling to hold on to hope. “If I don't travel tonight, I don't want to go to the United States anymore,” said Samer El Noury, whose family fled from Damascus to Cairo five years ago. Their long-awaited flight to Chicago was cancelled by Trump’s ban, but they had already given away their possessions in preparation for the move. Now, they sit in a barren apartment, waiting. “Most American people are kind and are not racist,” he said. “So I am not going to judge the whole country because of one person.”