With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve.
THE BIG IDEA: Since the day they enacted the biggest overhaul of the tax code in a generation without a single Democratic vote, Republicans have been talking a big game about their supposed desire to work across the aisle.
“We hope that 2018 will be a year of more bipartisan cooperation,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters at Camp David on Saturday, dubiously predicting that “a significant number of Democrats” will want to support President Trump's agenda.
“We hope that we're going to be able to work out an arrangement with the Democrats. It's something, certainly, that I'd like to see happen,” Trump added at the news conference, which was overshadowed by his declaration earlier in the day that he is “like, really smart” and “a very stable genius.”
The paeans to working together partly reflect legislative necessity. Because of Senate rules, Republicans will need 60 votes to keep the government open beyond the end of next week, avert the deportation of hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who were brought here as children, appropriate money for disaster relief, renew the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, stabilize the health-care system they’ve shattered and avoid a default on the national debt in March.
Now that Doug Jones has been sworn in as Alabama’s new senator, Republicans only have 51 seats. Two of their members, John McCain and Thad Cochran, have serious health problems that make their votes hard to depend on.
But cold, hard political calculus is the bigger driver of these new GOP talking points. Public and private polls show that the Trump administration’s steadfast unwillingness to work in good faith with Democrats has become a serious liability for down-ballot Republicans in the midterms.
-- Republican lobbyist Bruce Mehlman notes that 2017 saw levels of party-line voting not seen in 100 years. From a PowerPoint deck he distributed to his clients last week:
-- Trump’s surprise deal with Democrats on hurricane disaster funding last fall has been just about his most popular action as president. Two-thirds of Americans supported that agreement in our polling, but congressional Republicans were incensed they had the rug pulled out from underneath them, and the president quickly backed away from his kind words for “Chuck and Nancy” after he saw blowback from his base.
-- One major reason that the tax cuts are so unpopular is the widespread perception that Republicans rammed their bill through as a giveaway to their rich donors without trying to work with Democrats to make sure it benefited the middle class. Only 27 percent of U.S. adults said Republicans made a “good faith effort to cooperate with Democrats on the tax bill,” according to a late December CNN-SSRS poll; 37 percent thought Democrats made a good-faith effort to compromise. While 76 percent of Republicans supported the final product, barely one-third of independents and just 3 percent of Democrats did.
Moreover, most Americans do not have confidence in Republican lawmakers to lead, so the public is likely to be skeptical of any measure passed with only their support. A November Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 3 in 4 Americans said they have “just some” (48 percent) or “no confidence” (28 percent) in Republicans in Congress to make the right decisions about the country’s future (76 percent in total).
-- Obamacare, likewise, passed without any Republican votes eight years ago. But Democrats spent months trying fruitlessly to get some GOP lawmakers on board. As a result, a Washington Post-ABC News poll in March 2010 found that 48 percent of Americans thought Barack Obama and Democrats had made a good-faith effort to reach across the aisle on health care. Nonetheless, the law’s popularity suffered due to the lack of bipartisan support.
-- Four years ago today, when he was still the minority leader, McConnell spoke at length on the Senate floor about how terrible it is when the majority party passes important legislation without crossover support. Read this quote from him with the tax bill in mind:
“When Democrats couldn’t convince any of us that [the Affordable Care Act] was worth supporting as written, they decided to do it on their own and pass it on a party line vote. And now we’re seeing the result. The chaos this law has visited on our country isn’t just deeply tragic, it was entirely predictable. And that will always be the case if you approach legislation without regard for the views of the other side. Without some meaningful buy-in, you guarantee a food fight. You guarantee instability and strife. It may very well have been the case that on Obamacare, the will of the country was not to pass the bill at all. That’s what I would have concluded if Republicans couldn’t get a single Democrat vote for legislation of this magnitude. I’d have thought, maybe this isn’t such a great idea. But Democrats plowed forward anyway. They didn’t want to hear it. And the results are clear. It’s a mess.”
-- Paul Maslin was Jones’s pollster in Alabama. He believes their victory proved that the right way for Democrats to appeal to the middle in 2018 is to run as counterweights to chaos, name-calling and inaction. “If you are out there, particularly as a challenger, communicating that message, it can really work,” the veteran Democratic operative said during an interview last week when he was in town for the new senator’s swearing-in. “That was our calling card. When we talked about health care and education, we did it through that context and lens: Why can’t we work together to get something done? Why can’t people work together to improve our schools? Democrats can stick to the issues that matter most to them and then make a larger point about getting along and civility …
“We obviously did not want to have some big ideological fight,” he added. “Their voters are tired of all this too. They may still attack Nancy Pelosi or Chuck Schumer or Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. But deep down they know their side is in power, and they’re screwing up. And they’re upset about it.”
Maslin said that the campaign’s most effective commercial was a 60-second spot that featured Jones talking straight to camera about the battle of Gettysburg. The former federal prosecutor, with his Southern lilt, told the story of the battle for Little Round Top, where Col. William Oates of Alabama and Col. Joshua Chamberlain of Maine led troops against each other. “Those times have passed long ago and our country is better for it, but now we fight too often over other matters,” Jones said. “It seems as if we're coming apart. I want to go to Washington and meet the representatives from Maine and those from every other state, not on the battlefield, but to find common ground. Because there's honor in compromise and civility, to pull together as a people, and to get things done for Alabama.”
Watch it here:
-- Of course, Trump’s unpopularity is a hindrance for GOP candidates. Given that roughly half the country “strongly” disapproves of his job performance, his endorsement can do more to damage a policy’s popularity than help it. Business Insider editor Josh Barro has dubbed this an “inverse Midas touch.” The most striking example is the Keystone XL pipeline, which a majority supported throughout the Obama administration but became far less popular this year, as Trump publicly supported it.
-- But something much deeper is going on, as well: Americans are particularly concerned about the state of our democracy and the depth of political division, which adds to the appetite for something different. A Washington Post-University of Maryland poll last fall found that about 7 in 10 Americans think the problems in American politics have reached a dangerous new low point, and a similar 7 in 10 say political divisions are at least as big as during the Vietnam War. Fully 36 percent are “not proud” of the way democracy works in the country, twice the percentage who said this in both 2014 and 1996 (18 percent and 16 percent, respectively).
A Monmouth University poll, published last Wednesday, underscored just how depressed Americans are about the state of governance:
- Only 50 percent feel our system of government is basically sound.
- 81 percent think that the founders would be upset with the way the institutions of our government, such as Congress and the presidency, have been working over the past 10 years. Just 11 percent say the founders would be happy.
- 20 percent feel that Trump has made progress in his promise to “drain the swamp,” down from 25 percent in August. Another 33 percent say he has “made the swamp worse” and 38 percent say nothing has really changed.
- The vast majority of Americans are either dissatisfied with (60 percent) or angry (20 percent) at Washington.
- 63 percent feel that the country has become more divided since Trump took office, up from 52 percent last March. Only 9 percent say the country is becoming more united under Trump.
“Hyper-partisanship goes hand in hand with government dysfunction,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent and nonpartisan Monmouth poll. “Americans see a government that does not govern because elected officials are either self-serving or are driven by the ideological extremes that characterize our current political climate.”
-- Democrats have valid reasons to doubt the sincerity of GOP calls for bipartisanship. Their leaders were excluded from the Camp David summit where Trump and McConnell proclaimed a desire to work with them. As he spoke, Trump demanded that Democrats agree to $18 billion for his border wall — which everyone knows is a non-starter poison pill. Also, whatever happened to Mexico paying for it?
The president delivered another statement about his yearning for bipartisanship last Thursday during a White House meeting about immigration, which only Republicans were invited to attend. Administration officials are still not consulting with Democrats in any kind of meaningful way as they formulate their infrastructure plan.
And don’t forget that McConnell went nuclear and literally changed the rules of the Senate to force the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch, whose short tenure on the Supreme Court has already validated Democratic fears that he will be an even more conservative justice than Antonin Scalia. Disregarding blue slips for circuit court nominees, a century-old prerogative that Obama respected, further poisoned the well.
-- But leaders in the minority party still have a difficult needle to thread. To win the House, they will need a lot of people who voted for Trump in 2016 to back their candidates in 2018. Ten Democratic senators are also up for reelection in states the president carried. And they don’t want to give too many victories to Republicans because then the majority party may look capable of governing.
-- The fate of DACA recipients is expected to dominate budget talks between congressional leaders and the White House this week, as both parties work to resolve what has become their primary obstacle to a spending deal. Ed O'Keefe, Mike DeBonis and Erica Werner report that there will finally be a bipartisan meeting on immigration policy on Tuesday: “If Trump and lawmakers can strike an immigration deal, negotiators on both sides think that other issues, including how to fund a children’s health insurance program and a roughly $80 billion package to pay for disaster relief, could be resolved.”
But Democrats are split over whether it’s worth forcing a government shutdown to protect the so-called “dreamers.” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), for example, characterized a possible shutdown as an “opportunity” for Democrats: “I believe that if we can increase voter turnout by 5 percent from 2014, Democrats will regain the House and Senate. But you cannot do that unless ordinary people believe you are fighting for them.” But Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat and a lead negotiator on immigration, said he would continue working with Republicans like Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), “who understand what is at stake” in hopes of striking a bipartisan deal.
Democrats maximize their leverage if they can stick together. “But if [they] venture too far into the bipartisan realm, they risk pushback from the hyper-engaged base voters who would be critical in the 2018 election in every district, whether it’s safe or toss-up,” said Nadeam Elshami, who was Nancy Pelosi’s chief of staff until last year.
That’s why it’s good to maintain some healthy skepticism of polls showing that the public supports compromise. While it’s easy to support compromise conceptually when you’re not dealing with policy specifics, conservatives and liberals alike tend to oppose deals when they result in outcomes they don’t want.
Elshami predicts that Republicans will design lots of show votes to help give their endangered members cover and drive a wedge between Democrats. “These challenges have been faced by the House and Senate Democratic Party Leaders before, but never in a year that holds so much promise, and possible peril, especially in the House,” Elshami wrote in a note for clients of Signal Group, where he now works. “Balancing the interests of the Democratic Caucuses and the voters, while maintaining unity for maximum legislative leverage, is the daily practice in the Art of Impossible.”
-- Infrastructure is a ripe issue for Republicans to play on Democratic infighting and seek crossover support. But the Trump administration presented contradictory information about what exactly its plan will entail during this weekend’s GOP retreat. “Trump expressed misgivings about his administration’s infrastructure plan Friday at Camp David, telling Republican leaders that building projects through public-private partnerships is unlikely to work — and that it may be better for the government to pursue a different path,” Josh Dawsey reports. “Then on Saturday morning, Gary Cohn, the president’s chief economic adviser, delivered a detailed proposal on infrastructure and public-private partnerships that seemed to contradict the president. He said the administration hoped $200 billion in new federal government spending would trigger almost $1 trillion in private spending and local and state spending, according to people familiar with his comments. Cohn seemed to present the plan as the administration’s approach, although the president had suggested such an approach might not work.”
Scott Clement, director of The Washington Post’s polling unit, contributed to the Big Idea.
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- The Golden Globes, hosted by Seth Meyers, balanced doling out awards with calling out sexual harassment in Hollywood. The Post’s television critic Hank Stuever writes: “The butts of Meyers’s jokes included Harvey Weinstein (he’ll be back in 20 years, the host said, ‘when he becomes the first person ever booed during the In Memoriam’), Woody Allen, Kevin Spacey and President Trump, as well as a crafty plea to Oprah Winfrey and Tom Hanks to run on a 2020 presidential ticket. These easy yuks were delivered to a celebrity-packed audience in full and complete agreement — a Beverly Hilton ballroom clad entirely in black to show support for the ‘Time’s Up’ movement of actresses and others who have pledged to end discrimination and harassment in the workplace.”
-- Given the focus on sexual harassment in the industry, this year’s ceremony (unlike last year’s) had noticeably few references to the president, Stephanie Merry notes.
-- Here are some of the night’s big winners:
- “Big Little Lies” won four awards, including best limited series and best actress in a limited series for Nicole Kidman.
- “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri” also took home four awards, including best motion picture drama and best actress in a drama for Frances McDormand.
- Gary Oldman won best actor in a drama for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in “Darkest Hour.”
- “Lady Bird” won best comedy or musical and best actress in a comedy or musical for Saoirse Ronan.
- “The Handmaid’s Tale” was awarded best television series and best actress in a television series for Elisabeth Moss.
-- But the most talked about event of the night was Oprah Winfrey’s acceptance speech for the Cecile B. DeMille Award. Hank reports: “She started by remembering what it meant for her, as a little girl, to see Sidney Poitier win an Academy Award in 1964 and segued to a comment about Recy Taylor, a black woman who was gang-raped by white men in 1944 and told people what happened rather than keep it quiet. Winfrey’s speech thundered into a rallying cry for equality and justice for women everywhere, ‘whose names we’ll never know,’ and a salute to men who support them. ‘A new day is on the horizon,’ she said. ‘A time where no one will have to say ‘Me Too’ ever again.’ The crowd went wild[.]” Read Winfrey’s full remarks here.
-- The speech, and a joke by Meyers, stirred up speculation about a possible Winfrey 2020 presidential run. When asked about the possibility by the LA Times, Winfrey’s longtime partner Stedman Graham said, “It’s up to the people. She would absolutely do it.”
-- Trump’s legal team and FBI investigators are reportedly in early talks about the president answering questions in Robert Mueller’s Russia probe. But Trump’s lawyers are trying to avoid a traditional sit-down in favor of submitted written answers. NBC News’s Kristen Welker, Carol E. Lee, Julia Ainsley and Hallie Jackson report: “The discussions were described by one person with direct knowledge as preliminary and ongoing. Trump’s legal team is seeking clarification on whether the president would be interviewed directly by Mueller, as well as the legal standard for when a president can be interviewed, the location of a possible interview, the topics and the duration. But the president’s team is also seeking potential compromises that could avoid an interview altogether, two of those interviewed told NBC News. …
“Trump’s legal team sat down with representatives from the special counsel’s office in late December. … [A] second person familiar with the president’s legal strategy said another possibility being contemplated was an affidavit signed by the president affirming he was innocent of any wrongdoing and denying any collusion. It was not clear what such an affidavit might state regarding the president’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey[.] … [But] Justice Department veterans cast doubt on the possibility that Mueller, who served as FBI director for 12 years, would forgo the chance to interview the president directly.”
-- A fire broke out at Trump Tower this morning. The blaze reportedly started near the roof just before 7 a.m., CBS News reports.
-- Some schools in the region have closed because of the freezing rain D.C. is expected to see during today’s afternoon commute. Check the full list here.
-- The District could see some light snow before precipitation turns to sleet and freezing rain later in the day. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “We’re overcast this morning and into midday, as temperatures warm quickly through the 20s. Out in advance of an approaching front, precipitation will enter the northern and western suburbs early this afternoon. A possible brief period of light snow in these areas should be followed by a mix of sleet and freezing rain for the balance of the afternoon. Inside the Beltway and across our southern and eastern suburbs, the precipitation may start as a sleet/freezing rain mix around midafternoon before becoming primarily a freezing rain event from late afternoon on.”
-- The New Orleans Saints escaped with a 31-26 victory against the Carolina Panthers in the NFL wild card game, while the Jacksonville Jaguars beat out the Buffalo Bills 10-3. The Saints now head to Minnesota, and the Jags go to Pittsburgh. (Cindy Boren)
GET SMART FAST:
- China’s government is embracing facial recognition by combining footage from security cameras with videos from private cameras to create a nationwide surveillance system. Officials hope to utilize the footage to track citizens’ activity and beliefs, eventually assigning everyone a “social credit” score representing whether the government can trust the person. (Simon Denyer)
The Supreme Court will hear arguments today in Florida v. Georgia, a water fight the two states have been waging for three decades. Both the Atlanta area and Florida’s Apalachicola Bay want access to the fresh water that starts in the Blue Ridge Mountains and eventually flows into the Gulf of Mexico. Each state has spent tens of millions of dollars arguing its case. (Robert Barnes)
- A grand jury has been empaneled as part of a federal probe into a Burlington College land deal orchestrated by Jane Sanders, the college’s former president and wife of Bernie Sanders. VTDigger reports the grand jury has heard testimony from at least one former Burlington College board member regarding the collection of donations and purchase of the $10 million lakefront property.
Sen. Jeff Flake said he has seen no evidence of “sonic attacks” against American diplomats in Havana. The Arizona Republican met Friday with senior Cuban officials, who told him the FBI has found no evidence of such attacks after multiple trips to Cuba. (AP)
A Koch-backed group in Florida has begun outreach to Puerto Ricans displaced by Hurricane Maria. The Libre Institute will begin this week offering English language classes and civics courses in Florida, which has several competitive congressional races and a gubernatorial race later this year. (Ed O’Keefe)
- Mandalay Bay staffers interacted with Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock more than 10 times before he opened fire on a crowd of concertgoers on Oct. 1, including two times on the day of his massacre. “There were numerous interactions with [Paddock] every day at the resort, including a room service delivery and a call with housekeeping on October 1, all of which were normal in nature,” a resort spokeswoman said. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Some Gold Star families are voicing concerns about the use of their images when it comes to politics. “It’s one thing when they share the photo and pay their respects. But learn his name first,” said Seana Arrechaga, whose photo was taken by a Post photographer as she stood over the casket of her husband, Army Sgt. 1st Class Ofren Arrechaga. (Alex Horton)
- Swedish police are investigating an unknown explosive device outside a Stockholm-area subway station, which detonated when a 60-year-old man tried to scoop up the object with his hand. Investigators don't believe the explosion was an act of terrorism, but it’s the latest in a string of unexplained blasts across the country. (Amanda Erickson)
- The members of 20 international groups advocating a “boycott” campaign against Israel, including six U.S. organizations, have been banned from entering that country. The ban comes as Israel seeks to ramp up its fight against the BDS (''boycott, divestment and sanctions”) movement, and what its government views as delegitimization efforts. (Ruth Eglash)
- Australians are experiencing their most sweltering weather in eight decades. Wind chills in New Hampshire have threatened to dip to 100 degrees below zero, but Australia's heat wave has unleashed temperatures as high as 117 degrees — triggering fast-spreading wildfires and a freeway so hot it started to melt. (Kristine Phillips)
Two of Apple’s major shareholders sent the company a letter urging them to develop tools that would allow parents to limit their children’s iPhone usage. One of the shareholders, Jana Partners LLC, is known for being an activist investor, but this is its first social-responsibility campaign. (The Wall Street Journal)
Lottery officials reported that one Powerball ticket holder in New Hampshire has won the nearly $560 million jackpot prize. The total reflects one of the largest jackpots in the lottery’s history. (Kristine Phillips)
- A terminal at JFK was evacuated after a water main broke, causing another round of flight delays after this weekend’s “bomb cyclone” had already derailed thousands of travelers. (Luz Lazo)
A Dallas middle school requested 50 male volunteers so that students without fathers could attend a “Breakfast with Dads” event. Nearly 600 men showed up. One local blogger who attended the event recalled some boys who had four or five volunteers huddled around them, teaching the young men how to tie a necktie. (Valerie Strauss)
WEST WING INTRIGUE:
-- Trump’s daily schedule is shrinking, with the president beginning his official day around 11 a.m. and holding far fewer meetings than in the early days of his administration, according to copies of his private calendar seen by Axois’s Jonathan Swan: “The schedule says Trump has ‘Executive Time’ in the Oval Office every day from 8am to 11am, but the reality is he spends that time in his residence, watching TV, making phone calls and tweeting. Trump comes down for his first meeting of the day, which is often an intelligence briefing, at 11am. Trump's days in the Oval Office are relatively short — from around 11am to 6pm, then he's back to the residence. During that time he usually has a meeting or two, but spends a good deal of time making phone calls and watching cable news in the dining room adjoining the Oval. Then he's back to the residence for more phone calls and more TV.”
-- The White House quietly hired a full-time professional stylist, whose job duties include doing the hair and makeup of Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Kellyanne Conway before they appear on television. They refuse to say how much she's costing taxpayers. Politico’s Annie Karni reports: The position was created for Katie Price last fall, after short-lived communications director Anthony Scaramucci praised her work in a CNN interview. Until then, Sanders said she was paying out of pocket for a stylist to come in on a freelance basis.
-- The White House is planning an aggressive crackdown on trade policy, which Trump may highlight in his State of the Union speech later this month. Politico’s Andrew Restuccia and Doug Palmer report: “Trump is tentatively scheduled to meet with Cabinet secretaries and senior advisers as soon as this week to begin finalizing decisions on a slew of pending trade fights involving everything from imports of steel and solar panels to Chinese policies regarding intellectual property[.] … Aides stressed that the specifics are still in flux, but multiple officials told POLITICO that internal conversations have moved beyond the basic question of whether Trump should take tough trade steps and are now focused on what precise measures the president should impose.”
-- Nick Miroff profiles John Kelly, whose years working in Latin America as head of U.S. Southern Command foreshadowed his work as Trump’s chief of staff: “Those who worked alongside [Kelly] in Latin America knew his worldview aligned more closely with Trump’s than many may have realized. As Southcom’s commander, Kelly oversaw the Guantanamo naval base and its notorious prison, and not always in the way the Obama administration wanted him to. He took on illegal immigration, drug cartels and the political and military complexities of a peace deal in close ally Colombia that ended a 52-year war with Marxist rebels. … In a role that put him at the intersection of U.S. diplomacy, national security and Washington politics, Kelly also revealed conservative views and a reputation for troublemaking — qualities that would make him a prime recruit for Trump as he assembled his Cabinet.”
CONFLICTS OF INTEREST:
-- Shortly before Jared Kushner joined Trump on their first diplomatic trip to Israel last year, his family’s real estate company received a $30 million investment from one of Israel’s largest financial institutions: Menora Mivtachim. The New York Times’s Jesse Drucker reports: “The deal, which was not made public, pumped significant new equity into 10 Maryland apartment complexes controlled by Mr. Kushner’s firm. . . . The Menora transaction is the latest financial arrangement that has surfaced between Mr. Kushner’s family business and Israeli partners, including one of the country’s wealthiest families and a large Israeli bank that is the subject of a United States criminal investigation. The business dealings don’t appear to violate federal ethics laws[.] … But the deal last spring illustrates how the Kushner Companies’ extensive financial ties to Israel continue to deepen, even with his prominent diplomatic role in the Middle East. The arrangement could undermine the ability of the United States to be seen as an independent broker in the region.”
-- The Interior Department said it made a mistake by using wildfire preparedness funds to pay for a helicopter tour of Nevada taken by Ryan Zinke that cost $39,000. Newsweek’s Celeste Katz reports: “Officials initially said Zinke’s July 30 helicopter trip could be covered . . . even though the secretary did not visit any fire zones that day[.] … But after Newsweek questioned the line item, an Interior Department spokeswoman said this week that the chopper … ‘was charged to the account in error.’ She added that the BLM would pay for the helicopter from ‘a more appropriate account.’”
-- Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon tried to walk back his scathing comments about Trump family members in a statement distributed to reporters Sunday. “Donald Trump, Jr. is both a patriot and a good man,” Bannon said .... “My support is also unwavering for the president and his agenda — as I have shown daily in my national radio broadcasts, on the pages of Breitbart News and in speeches and appearances[.] ... I am the only person to date to conduct a global effort to preach the message of Trump and Trumpism; and remain ready to stand in the breach for this president’s efforts to make America great again.”
-- One person close to Bannon said the statement “was as much about stanching the defections of supporters and potential backers as it was about appeasing the president,” Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey report. “Bannon continues to criticize [Jared] Kushner and Ivanka Trump in private and calls Trump a ‘vessel,’ an ally said, while casting himself as something of a revolutionary in the conservative movement. In recent days, Bannon has tried to convince allies that all will be okay — even texting ‘Onward!’ to one of them — but seems jolted and ‘even more manic than normal,’ in the words of one person who has spoken to him. He has remained ensconced in his Capitol Hill townhouse, with a rope on the steps blocking people from coming. ‘STOP!’ the large red sign reads, urging visitors to check in downstairs. ‘He knows he is at his lowest point,’ one ally said. ‘He won’t tell you that, but he knows it.’”
-- Bannon’s statement did nothing to quell Trump’s rage. Politico’s Annie Karni reports: “[Multiple administration officials said] the vibe in the president’s circle was that people were unmoved by the statement. Asked whether there is anything Bannon can do at this point to get back in the president's good graces, one White House official said curtly, ‘Unlikely.’ That posture has left Bannon supporters wondering whether the three-shirt-wearing bomb-thrower can switch the layers out for a hair shirt long enough to stop Trump from siding permanently with [Ryan and McConnell] — or whether Bannon’s populist wing of the Republican Party has already run out of time to maintain influence in this year’s midterm elections. ‘The problem for Steve is that we were already into January 2018, and he doesn't really have a system, he doesn't have a fund, he doesn't have a political team,’ said [American Conservative Union chairman] Matthew Schlapp[.] ‘The clock is no longer on his side.’”
-- “Media figures more famous than Mr. Bannon have learned the hard way that audiences tend to remain loyal to institutions, rather than individuals,” the New York Times’s Michael M. Grynbaum explains. “For Mr. Bannon, the possibility of losing control of Breitbart … could present a significant test to his potency as a leader of a political and cultural movement. The question now: Does Mr. Bannon need Breitbart News more than Breitbart News needs Mr. Bannon? ‘People who go to Breitbart don’t go there everyday because they give a damn about Steve Bannon,’ said Kurt Bardella, a former Breitbart spokesman. ‘We could be looking at a new world order here in terms of who will occupy the space of [Trump’s] preferred conservative platform.’”
-- Senior White House aide Stephen Miller excoriated Bannon as an “angry, vindictive person” on CNN’s “State of the Union,” telling host Jake Tapper that Bannon’s “grotesque comments” are “out of touch with reality.” David Nakamura reports: “The book is best understood as a work of poorly written fiction. The author is a garbage author of a garbage book,” Miller told Tapper. “The betrayal of the president in this book is so contrary to the reality of those who work with him.” Asked whether Trump knew about his eldest son’s meeting with the Russian lawyer when it occurred, Miller said Bannon was not present and therefore “is not even a remotely credible source on any of it.” Tapper, frustrated by Miller's over-the-top praise for Trump and evasiveness on other questions, cut off the interview. The host called the domestic policy adviser “obsequious” and concerned only about “one viewer” before going to commercial. “I think I've wasted enough of my viewers' time,” Tapper said.
Proving that Miller was indeed trying to appeal to an audience of one, Trump quickly weighed in on Twitter after the interview: “Jake Tapper of Fake News CNN just got destroyed in his interview with Stephen Miller of the Trump Administration. Watch the hatred and unfairness of this CNN flunky!”
-- Meanwhile, Michael Wolff appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” to defend his book against attacks and downplay his own sloppy errors. When asked by host Chuck Todd if he left out anything in the book that would have been favorable to Trump because it didn't fit the narrative, Wolf responded: “If I left out anything it was probably stuff even more damning. It’s that bad.” “It's an extraordinary moment in time. The last several days focused on my book are proof of this,” he continued. “What happened here? What’s going on here?” (David Nakamura)
Asked whether he misled anyone about what he was doing hanging around the West Wing, Wolff said Friday: “I said whatever was necessary to get the story.” (Margaret Sullivan)
-- WikiLeaks published the full text of “Fire and Fury” online, in an apparent bid to undermine Wolff's sales. (The Hill)
MEN BEHAVING BADLY:
-- One of the Democratic Party’s biggest donors says she is reconsidering her support for women senators who pushed for Al Franken’s resignation last month, describing their efforts as “unfair” and “cavalier.” BuzzFeed News’s Ruby Cramer reports: “In two interviews this week, [Susie Tompkins Buell] described the push for Franken’s departure as … somewhat politically motivated — ‘a stampede,’ ‘like a rampage,’ she said, speaking in stark terms about senators she has backed for years, naming [Sen. Kirsten] Gillibrand [D-N.Y.] in particular. ‘They need to know that some of their biggest supporters are questioning why they did that,’ Buell said. ‘We have to do things conscientiously and fairly. He didn't have the chance to defend himself.’ … ‘These are senators that almost unanimously said he should have his opportunity to explain himself with the Ethics Committee,’ she said. ‘Then, within hours of each other, they said he should resign. It was clearly, clearly highly organized.’”
-- As men in a variety of industries have been fired for allegations of sexual misconduct, the finance world remains relatively unscathed — and women say a rigged system allows Wall Street to hide incidents of sexual predation. The New Yorker’s William D. Cohan reports: “Renée-Eva Fassbender Amochaev, a broker who successfully sued Smith Barney for gender discrimination … told me that the way Wall Street firms resolve sexual harassment cases continues to protect perpetrators and firms. Large settlements are paid, but the men who either committed the bad behavior or who effectively condoned it, often remain. ‘No one gets fired,’ she said. ‘Everyone on the inside knows the system is rigged.’ And, because the settlements are confidential, the incidents are kept quiet. … ‘Wall Street is not held accountable,’ she said. 'There are never any meaningful consequences. The story has not really been told. It’s all a secret.’”
-- Page Six’s Merle Ginsberg reports that some academy members now wonder about the consequences of swiftly banning Harvey Weinstein as they grapple with the flood of other harassment allegations: “‘Harvey opened the floodgates,’ said one male Academy member. ‘Now the Academy’s drowning in a tide of s — t. They don’t know what hit them.’ … ‘[We] can’t regret [kicking out Harvey] because [we] didn’t really have a choice,’ said one male member of AMPAS’ board of governors. ‘Some members were quite vehement. But [we] didn’t have time to really weigh out the repercussions.’ … And it’s not just new allegations that are haunting the Academy. What to do about two of the most notorious accused sexual predators in Hollywood, Bill Cosby and Roman Polanski, who were charged years before the Weinstein stories broke? Or, for that matter, Casey Affleck — who last year won the Best Actor Oscar — and the two settled cases of sexual-harassment against him?”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Trump delayed his “Fake News Awards”:
The Fake News Awards, those going to the most corrupt & biased of the Mainstream Media, will be presented to the losers on Wednesday, January 17th, rather than this coming Monday. The interest in, and importance of, these awards is far greater than anyone could have anticipated!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 7, 2018
Obama's former ethics czar responded to Trump's tweet:
WARNING to White House staff: the president may be exempt from the rules at 5 CFR § 2635.701 et seq. on misuse of position BUT YOU ARE NOT. If you help @potus with the below, you risk violating §§ 702, 704 & 705 forbidding use of gov time & $$$ to harm some media & aid others. https://t.co/gHxzJcCEAW— Norm Eisen (@NormEisen) January 7, 2018
From The Post's fact-checker:
Other awards created by presidents:— Glenn Kessler (@GlennKesslerWP) January 7, 2018
President's Volunteer Service Award (GW Bush)
Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award (Reagan)
President's Education Awards Program (Reagan)
President's Environmental Youth Award (Nixon)
Presidential Medal of Freedom (Kennedy) https://t.co/qhTqaoVCcg
From a Daily Beast editor:
I can’t think of a more important thing the President of the United States could be doing than orchestrating a fake awards show for people he views as insufficiently servile.— Scott Bixby (@scottbix) January 7, 2018
Unrelatedly, 1.5 million people in Puerto Rico are still without electricity. pic.twitter.com/hUQqlSKLoj
Trump tweeted a quote from a positive op-ed:
...Clinton in the WH, doubling down on Barack Obama’s failed policies, washes away any doubts that America made the right choice. This was truly a change election — and the changes Trump is bringing are far-reaching & necessary.” Thank you Michael Goodwin! https://t.co/4fHNcx2Ydg— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 8, 2018
But Trump's original tweet quoting the story had an unfortunate typo, per the producer of “The Big Bang Theory”:
The word in the editorial Trump is quoting was “consequential,” not “consensual.” This is not the first time Trump thought something was consensual when it wasn’t. pic.twitter.com/ykdhvXHEBu— Bill Prady (@billprady) January 8, 2018
Trump also spent his weekend tweeting criticism about Wolff's book:
Now that Russian collusion, after one year of intense study, has proven to be a total hoax on the American public, the Democrats and their lapdogs, the Fake News Mainstream Media, are taking out the old Ronald Reagan playbook and screaming mental stability and intelligence.....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 6, 2018
....Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart. Crooked Hillary Clinton also played these cards very hard and, as everyone knows, went down in flames. I went from VERY successful businessman, to top T.V. Star.....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 6, 2018
....to President of the United States (on my first try). I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius....and a very stable genius at that!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 6, 2018
He added yesterday:
I’ve had to put up with the Fake News from the first day I announced that I would be running for President. Now I have to put up with a Fake Book, written by a totally discredited author. Ronald Reagan had the same problem and handled it well. So will I!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 7, 2018
The controversy brought attention back to this 2014 Trump tweet:
I am starting to think that there is something seriously wrong with President Obama's mental health. Why won't he stop the flights. Psycho!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 16, 2014
From one of Hawaii's Democratic senators:
Sometimes in politics it’s difficult to figure out which side will be right in the eyes of history. This is not one of those times.— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) January 6, 2018
From veteran journalist Dan Rather:
Dear Mr. President,— Dan Rather (@DanRather) January 6, 2018
A good rule of thumb is that when you've got it, you don't have to say it. People know. That holds true for wealth, compassion, faith, and yes, being a "very stable genius." Sincerely, Dan
From the editor of Commentary magazine:
I've read half of Wolff's book. It is as unprincipled and cartoonish and full of fancies masquerading as facts as I thought it would be. It's the work of a journalistic malefactor.— John Podhoretz (@jpodhoretz) January 7, 2018
But it doesn't strike me as false.
From a fellow at the London School of Economics:
Trump has tweeted the word “genius” 64 times. 46 of those tweets were either him calling himself a genius, or agreeing with someone who called him a genius. https://t.co/FAN38gRZ8R pic.twitter.com/FlTVM5n7YA— Brian Klaas (@brianklaas) January 6, 2018
From the president's son:
Well said @GeraldoRivera! There is no person more capable! I wouldn’t have fought as hard as I did if I didn’t believe that @POTUS would both 1) win and 2) could subsequently #MakeAmericaGreatAgain! His statement is total garbage! https://t.co/Ezskh3m4TB— Eric Trump (@EricTrump) January 7, 2018
Hillary Clinton's former spokesman mocked Stephen Miller's CNN interview:
The only thing missing from this interview was Stephen Miller boasting about the size of Trump's button. https://t.co/ntoih3ofoh— Jesse Ferguson (@JesseFFerguson) January 7, 2018
Jake Tapper thanked those who voiced support of his decision to cut the Miller interview short:
Thanks for the kind words, folks! Cheers 🍻 pic.twitter.com/4pYrThb5ha— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) January 7, 2018
A Wall Street Journal reporter shared this quote about Steve Bannon's future:
Ex-Breitbart spokesman on Bannon's fate: "If Trump signals his forgiveness, Bannon will likely get a stay of execution. If Trump demands his scalp, hard to imagine he wouldn’t get it." https://t.co/bBlgPzvPGz— Rebecca Ballhaus (@rebeccaballhaus) January 7, 2018
A New York Times reporter reacted to the quote:
Extremely healthy and conventionally American way to talk about hierarchy within a political movement https://t.co/RMPTveJUHd— Alex Burns (@alexburnsNYT) January 7, 2018
A National Review editor made fun of all the “Executive Time” in Trump's private schedule:
Prediction: “Executive Time” will become a pop cultural buzzphrase/meme very rapidly. Lazy sitcom dads will demand “Executive Time” by the Spring. https://t.co/sZSdlXrlwk— Jonah Goldberg (@JonahNRO) January 7, 2018
The abortion rights group NARAL addressed Hollywood's sexual harassment scandal as the Golden Globes aired:
We're glad to see folks talking about sexual assault & harassment in Hollywood and in the workplace. But asking only women about the issue won't solve it. We need men to be vocal allies & partners in our fight for bodily autonomy. #GoldenGlobes #TimesUp https://t.co/9ZBwxUMFNY— NARAL (@NARAL) January 8, 2018
The New York Times aired this provactive ad:
George W. Bush's former press secretary promoted his new show:
Fox is launching g a new show tonight called “The Wise Guys”. It’s @AlanDersh, @OliverNorthFNC, Steve Wynn and me, hosted by @WilliamJBennett. Focus on the biggest issues. Future of USA, the workforce, technology, military. I hope you watch - it’s good! https://t.co/oM0UUlSn96— Ari Fleischer (@AriFleischer) January 7, 2018
From a CNN analyst and former FBI special agent:
Hey everyone: There is FINALLY a show on prime time with five men telling us what to think about everything! I thought it would never happen https://t.co/sDQhXHMScV— Asha Rangappa (@AshaRangappa_) January 7, 2018
The No. 2 Senate Republican got a copy of the Rasika cookbook and has been trying his hand at preparing Indian food:
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
-- Politico Magazine, “The Wall That Trump Actually Built,” by Michael Kruse: “A year has passed, [in] which the professional political class has been locked in a permanent state of chaos and conflict, and so I returned to this out-of-the-way part of Wisconsin, curious to see whether the corrosive bickering of Capitol Hill and cable TV also had infiltrated a place so far geographically, as well as temperamentally, from Washington. What I found, though, was not at all a community knitting back together. … Republicans and Democrats, Trump voters and Trump haters, natives and newcomers, told me the same thing: The gap between them has widened. And this colder, more rigid strain of political division, I heard repeatedly, has curdled a regional habit of happy-faced avoidance into something that feels more like a toxic silence.’”
-- The New Yorker, “Neo-Nazis in the digital wilderness,” by Talia Lavin: “How does the Daily Stormer, a hub for the most virulent anti-Semites on the Web, keep getting back on its feet?”
-- New York Times, “Losing Faith in the State, Some Mexican Towns Quietly Break Away,” by Max Fisher, Amanda Taub and Dalia Martínez: “Tancítaro represents a quiet but telling trend in Mexico, where a handful of towns and cities are effectively seceding, partly or in whole. These are acts of desperation, revealing the degree to which Mexico’s police and politicians are seen as part of the threat. Visit three such enclaves — Tancítaro; Monterrey, a rich commercial city; and Ciudad Nezahualcóyotl, just outside the capital — and you will find a pattern. Each is a haven of relative safety amid violence, suggesting that their diagnosis of the problem was correct. But their gains are fragile and have come at significant cost. They are exceptions that prove the rule: Mexico’s crisis manifests as violence, but it is rooted in the corruption and weakness of the state.”
-- Politico, “Mexico's Trumpian populist could mean trouble for Donald Trump,” by Sabrina Rodriguez: “Andrés Manuel López Obrador's campaign rhetoric can make him sound like a Mexican Donald Trump. The left-leaning front-runner in Mexico’s presidential race is overtly nationalistic, pushes ‘Mexican people first’ policies and peppers his speeches with anti-establishment slogans that thrill the working-class Mexicans who flock to his rallies. But while his style might be distinctly Trumpian, his policy prescriptions could not be more different. Indeed, the election of the former mayor of Mexico City could be disastrous for Trump and his administration, creating an even more charged relationship between the two countries that could reduce cooperation on border security, trade and immigration.”
HOT ON THE LEFT
“Ex-Sheriff David Clarke Faces Trial Over Facebook Taunts Against Plane Passenger,” from HuffPost: “Passenger Dan Black filed a civil rights lawsuit against Clarke arguing he violated Black’s First Amendment rights with retaliatory Facebook posts on the sheriff’s page. Wisconsin U.S. District Judge J.P. Stadtmueller ruled Friday that Clarke’s posts could ‘reasonably be understood as a threat, coercion, or intimidation that punishment . . . will immediately follow.’ A jury is now set to hear the case Jan. 22. … One of the posts on Clarke’s Facebook page said if ‘Sheriff Clarke were to really harass you, you wouldn’t be around to whine about it.’ Another post said the next time Black or anyone ‘pulls this stunt on a plane they may get knocked out.’”
HOT ON THE RIGHT
“Pelosi’s son hobnobs with the Trumps at Mar-a-Lago,” from the San Francisco Chronicle: “Paul Pelosi Jr., son of House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, appears to be quite the nonpartisan partyer. At least judging by the pair of Instagram photos of himself arm-in-arm with first daughter Ivanka Trump, celebrating the New Year at President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago golf resort. Besides the president and his daughter, attendees at the Florida beach club bash included Ivanka’s husband and White House adviser, Jared Kushner, Trump’s sons Eric and Donald Jr., and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. … But older sister Christine Pelosi says family members were hardly surprised he popped up at Mar-a-Lago. ‘He is just an adventuring guy,’ she said. ‘Maybe he had a golf game.’”
Trump will fly to Nashville today to give a speech at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual convention. He will then travel to Marietta, Ga. for the college football national championship game.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“I absolutely believe if Trump had not gotten into the race I think we would have won.” — Chris Christie reflects on 2016 in an exit interview (The New Jersey Star-Ledger’s Matt Arco)
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- D.C.’s economy grew modestly in 2017, upending some economists’ predictions of the negative effect Trump’s presidency would have on the region. (Aaron Gregg)
-- The Capitals beat the Blues 4-3. (Isabelle Khurshudyan)
-- Four voters have appealed a court decision in an effort to keep Republican Robert Thomas from being seated in the Virginia House of Delegates. Rachel Weiner reports: “At issue is whether errors that led some voters in an extremely close Northern Virginia House race to be given the wrong ballots were so significant that [Thomas] should not be seated. … If the appeal succeeds, this year’s legislative session would probably begin with a 49-49 split between Democrats and Republicans in the House, likely forcing a power-sharing agreement.”
-- A new Metro program would allows commuters who experience delays of 15 minutes or more to receive a full refund. The Metro board still needs to approve the proposal, but the board’s chairman has already expressed enthusiasm for the idea. Faiz Siddiqui reports: “Here’s how it would work: Customers traveling between two stations would be assessed a ‘MyTripTime’ duration estimate. Those who fall 15 or more minutes outside the estimated trip window would get the full fare, between $2.25 and $6, credited to their SmarTrip cards. Unlike rail customers who would receive refunds automatically, bus riders would have to fill out an online form to request the $2 fare.” (Faiz also reminds District residents that, starting today, Metro riders will no longer be able to enter or exit the system with a negative balance on their SmarTrip.)
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
The CIA director dismissed theories of a “deep state” at the agency (which have been pushed by, among other people, the president and his family):
Debra Messing of “Will & Grace” called out Hollywood's gender pay gap at the Golden Globes:
Debra Messing drags E! (while being interviewed on E!): "I was so shocked to hear that E! doesn't believing in paying their female co-hosts the same as their male co-hosts" pic.twitter.com/HF3B2uhwtF— David Mack (@davidmackau) January 7, 2018
A group of women wore “Handmaid's Tale” costumes outside the Golden Globes to protest sexual harassment in the industry:
The pope encouraged women to breast-feed their child if needed in the Sistine Chapel:
And Minnesota residents continued to flock to an outdoor ice castle despite freezing temperatures: