With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve.

THE BIG IDEA: Credibility is like virginity. You only get to lose it once.

After Dick Durbin said Friday that President Trump had complained about the United States taking immigrants from “shithole countries,” two Republican senators who attended the meeting took issue with their Democratic colleague.

“[W]e do not recall the president saying these comments specifically,” David Perdue (Ga.) and Tom Cotton (Ark.) said in a joint statement that read like it was drafted by a lawyer.

By Sunday morning, their memories had cleared up. “I am telling you that he did not use that word. And I’m telling you it’s a gross misrepresentation,” Perdue said indignantly on ABC’s “This Week.”

“I didn’t hear it, and I was sitting no further away from Donald Trump than Dick Durbin was,” Cotton said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

They didn’t stop there. Both men then impugned the Illinois senator’s integrity by alleging he has a history of making stuff up.

Now we know the real story: “Three White House officials said Perdue and Cotton told the White House that they heard ‘shithouse’ rather than ‘shithole,’ allowing them to deny the president’s comments on television over the weekend,” according to Josh Dawsey, Robert Costa and Ashley Parker.

The reporters interviewed more than a dozen administration officials, Capitol Hill aides and lawmakers about what transpired in the Oval Office: “Trump was not particularly upset by the coverage of the meeting and his vulgarity after it was first reported by The Washington Post, calling friends and asking how they expected it to play with his political supporters, aides said. ‘Everyone was saying it would help with the base,’ which would agree with his characterization, one person who spoke with the president said. … There was little effort to significantly push back on the story that night because aides knew that Trump had said it and that the president wasn’t even too upset, according to people involved in the talks.”

Cotton and Perdue, who declined to comment for the story, have put other Republicans who were at the meeting in a tough spot. Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) said Friday that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told him media reports of what Trump said were “basically accurate.” The senator even told Trump during last week’s meeting that he should use different language to discuss immigration, per Josh, Robert and Ashley. “After Graham left, he told associates that he was disturbed by what he heard in the Oval Office, according to people who spoke with him.”

In an interview yesterday with the Charleston Post and Courier, the senator declined to confirm whether Trump specifically used the term “shithole.” But he didn’t challenge Scott’s claim. In what appeared to be a jab at Cotton and Perdue, Graham told the paper: “My memory hasn't evolved. I know what was said and I know what I said.”

-- Cotton and Perdue will be defined by this moment, in part, because other senators will remember their attacks on Durbin. This will make them less trustworthy as potential partners and thus less effective as members of Congress.

“Colleagues on both sides of the aisle should keep these two Republican senators’ rampant, flippant dishonesty in mind going forward,” argues conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin. “Should either come before the Senate for a confirmable position, the Senate should reject the nomination. If they lied about this, they’d lie about anything.

Trump’s remark was an important symbolic low-point of his presidency,” writes The Daily Beast’s Michael Tomasky. “The outrages are so numerous that we can’t always know which ones will make the history books. We can be certain that this one will. A moment of national humiliation and disgrace. Cotton and Perdue have chosen to go out of their way to align themselves with this humiliation.

-- This is not the first time that Trump has undercut people who have tried to cover for him. Remember all the White House aides, including Vice President Pence, who said that Trump firing James Comey had nothing to do with the FBI’s Russia investigation. Then the president admitted to NBC the very next day that Russia was on his mind, and he’d already decided to fire the director “regardless” of the recommendation he received from Rod Rosenstein.

Last spring, The Post reported that Trump had shared highly sensitive information with the Russians. H.R. McMaster and Dina Powell were trotted out to deny the story. Then the next morning, Trump admitted that it was true on Twitter.

There are many more examples, with Trump contradicting his aides on everything from whether he discussed sanctions with Vladimir Putin to how many times he’s spoken with Steve Bannon since he left the White House.

-- Happening today: Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who was at the meeting, will testify during a Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing. She’ll almost certainly be asked to give an account of what happened.

Nielsen was asked about the “shithole” quote on “Fox News Sunday”: “I don’t recall him saying that exact phrase,” she said. Host Chris Wallace pushed back. “It is pretty shocking language, and to say, ‘I don’t recall,’ seems implausible,” he said. “I understand the question,” Nielsen replied. “It was an impassioned conversation. I don’t recall that specific phrase being used. That’s all I can say about that.”

Durbin is a member of the committee, and Nielsen will be under oath.

-- Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who is also a member of the Judiciary Committee, plans to lament Trump’s tenuous relationship with the truth during a floor speech on Wednesday:

“2017 was a year which saw the truth — objective, empirical, evidence-based truth — more battered and abused than any other in the history of our country, at the hands of the most powerful figure in our government,” the retiring senator will say, according to advance excerpts shared by his office. “It was a year which saw the White House enshrine ‘alternative facts’ into the American lexicon, as justification for what used to be known simply as good old-fashioned falsehoods,” he will add. “It was the year in which an unrelenting daily assault on the constitutionally-protected free press was launched by that same White House, an assault that is as unprecedented as it is unwarranted. ‘The enemy of the people’ was what the president of the United States called the free press in 2017.

“It is a testament to the condition of our democracy that our own president uses words infamously spoken by Josef Stalin to describe his enemies. It bears noting that so fraught with malice was the phrase ‘enemy of the people,’ that even Nikita Khrushchev forbade its use, telling the Soviet Communist Party that the phrase had been introduced by Stalin for the purpose of ‘annihilating such individuals’ who disagreed with the supreme leader.

This alone should be a source of great shame for us in this body, especially for those of us in the president’s party. For they are shameful, repulsive statements. And, of course, the president has it precisely backward — despotism is the enemy of the people. The free press is the despot’s enemy, which makes the free press the guardian of democracy. When a figure in power reflexively calls any press that doesn’t suit him ‘fake news,’ it is that person who should be the figure of suspicion, not the press.

“I dare say that anyone who has the privilege and awesome responsibility to serve in this chamber knows that these reflexive slurs of ‘fake news’ are dubious, at best,” he will conclude.


-- The bad blood from the brouhaha has complicated negotiations to keep the government open past the midnight deadline on Friday.

-- “Chances of a government shutdown grew Monday as Republicans concluded that they would be unable to reach a long-term spending accord by the Friday deadline,” Mike DeBonis, Ed O'Keefe and Sean Sullivan report. “GOP leaders are now turning to a short-term funding measure in hopes of keeping agencies open while talks continue, but Democratic leaders say they are unlikely to support any deal that does not protect young illegal immigrants …

Aides to key negotiators from both parties planned to meet Tuesday in an effort to rekindle budget talks, setting up a Wednesday meeting of the leaders themselves. If they cannot agree, the government would shut down at midnight Friday for the first time since 2013. House Republican leaders are scheduled to discuss their plans for a stopgap spending measure with rank-and-file lawmakers Tuesday evening.

One option Republicans are strongly considering to win over Democrats, according to two aides familiar with the GOP’s planning, is attaching a long-term renewal of the Children’s Health Insurance Program to the stopgap. Republicans believe that many Democrats — especially senators seeking reelection this year — will have a tough time voting against the program, which they have called a top priority.

GOP aides believe that the group of four deputy leaders from both chambers — the ‘No. 2’s,’ as they are being called on Capitol Hill, including Durbin, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) — is more likely to produce a workable immigration accord, which would then unlock an agreement on spending levels and other outstanding issues. ‘At the end of the day, if something’s going to be produced that can pass both chambers and get signed by the president, it’s going to come from this group,’ said a Republican familiar with the talks but not authorized to comment on them publicly.”

-- Cotton thinks a government shutdown over immigration could help Republicans pick up Senate seats in red states this fall:


-- A Prince George’s County pastor denounced Trump’s remarks as “hurtful” and “dehumanizing” during a Sunday church service attended by Mike Pence and his wife. WUSA’s Chelsea Cirruzzo reports: “’I stand today as your Pastor to vehemently denounce and reject any such characterizations of the nations of Africa and of our brothers and sisters in Haiti,’ said Pastor Dr. Maurice Watson[.] In his speech, the pastor mentioned that some congregation members were from Haiti and African countries … [and] went on to call for the president to be held accountable for his words.” Pence reportedly became “visibly red-faced” at times during the pastor’s remarks.

-- Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) said she will boycott Trump’s State of the Union address, citing his “racist and incendiary remarks” about Haiti and African nations. “I have no doubt that instead of delivering a message of inclusivity and an agenda that benefits all Americans, [Trump's] address will be full of innuendo, empty promises, and lies,” she said in a statement. Several other Democrats, including Maxine Waters (Calif.), John Lewis (Ga.) and Earl Blumenauer (Ore.), have already said they will not attend the speech. (Tampa Bay Times)

-- Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) explained her decision to skip the State of the Union:

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-- Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles became the latest gymnast to accuse Dr. Larry Nassar of sexual abuse. More than 140 women have now accused Nassar, who pleaded guilty to a number of sex crimes late last year. “This behavior is completely unacceptable, disgusting, and abusive, especially coming from someone whom I was TOLD to trust,” Biles wrote on Twitter. (Will Hobson and Bryan Flaherty)


  1. The death toll from Southern California’s devastating mudslides climbed to 20 after another body was discovered. Search-and-rescue missions continue, with at least four other residents still reported missing. (Todd C. Frankel)
  2. Fifty senators (49 Democrats plus Maine's Susan Collins) have signed a resolution calling for Congress to restore the FCC’s net neutrality rules. But to actually overturn the FCC ruling, foes need at least one more GOP Senate defection, as well as support from a majority of House members and Trump's signature. That's unlikely to happen. (Brian Fung)
  3. The United States’ uninsured rate rose last year by 1.3 percentage points to 12.2 percent. The upward tick represents an additional 3.2 million Americans without health insurance. (CNN)

  4. A broken rail likely caused the derailment of a Red Line Metro train in Washington, which was carrying 63 people. Authorities said there were no serious injuries, but the incident yesterday morning has raised questions about the multimillion-dollar SafeTrack maintenance program, which was intended to improve Metro's safety and reliability. (Lori Aratani and Faiz Siddiqui)
  5. Lebanese authorities have banned the movie “The Post,” citing director Stephen Spielberg’s ties to Israel. The move comes as Lebanon, one of the Arab world’s freest countries, steps up its anti-Israel censorship. (Liz Sly and Suzan Haidamous)
  6. CVS has pledged to stop “materially altering” all imagery associated with its beauty products and has asked all the brands it sells — such as L’Oréal and Maybelline — to follow suit. The pharmaceutical giant says its decision is a response to the #MeToo movement and the larger conversation it has sparked about empowering women. (New York Times)
  7. Dolores O’Riordan, the lead singer of the popular Irish rock band the Cranberries, died suddenly in London. She was 46. No immediate details on the cause of death were available, though the band said O’Riordan had been in London for a short recording session. (Elahe Izadi)
  8. At least one person is dead after a casino shuttle boat near Tampa erupted into flames, sending passengers jumping overboard to escape. At least 15 others were hospitalized as a result of the fire but their injuries are not life-threatening. (Amy B Wang)
  9. Thirteen malnourished siblings, from ages 2 to 29, were rescued from a filthy California home. Authorities said they were being held captive. Some were even shackled to their beds. Their parents were both arrested on charges of torture and child endangerment. (Samantha Schmidt)


-- Josh Dawsey and Robert Costa look at the relationship between Trump and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy — who has grown to relish his role as the president’s fixer, friend and resident Starburst supplier: “[The two] were alone in the presidential suite on Air Force One … when the president reached for a handful of [Starbursts]. But instead of unwrapping all the treats, the president was careful to pluck out and eat two flavors: cherry and strawberry, McCarthy noticed. … ‘A bit later, a couple of his aides saw me with those colors and told me, 'Those are the president’s favorites.' . . . Days later, the No. 2 Republican in the House — known for his relentless cultivation of political alliances — bought a plentiful supply of Starbursts and asked a staffer to sort through the pile, placing only those two flavors in a jar. McCarthy made sure his name was on the side of the gift, which was delivered to a grinning Trump . . . While Trump has frustrated many Republicans … McCarthy has told colleagues that the president is not going to change and that it’s best to accept him for who he is. [Still], there are worries … that McCarthy’s ingratiation could enable Trump rather than contain him.”


-- U.S. counterintelligence officials warned Jared Kushner in early 2017 that Wendi Deng Murdoch, a prominent Chinese-American business executive, could be using her close friendship with him and Ivanka Trump to further Beijing’s interests. The Wall Street Journal’s Kate O’Keeffe and Aruna Viswanatha report: “U.S. officials have also had concerns about a counterintelligence assessment that Ms. Murdoch was lobbying for a high-profile construction project funded by the Chinese government in Washington, D.C. . . . The project, a planned $100 million Chinese garden at the National Arboretum, was deemed a national-security risk because it included a 70-foot-tall white tower that could potentially be used for surveillance[.] … The garden was planned on one of the higher patches of land near downtown Washington, less than 5 miles from both the Capitol and the White House.”

“Ms. Murdoch has previously surfaced on the radar of counterintelligence professionals,” adds the Journal story. “After reports that she was romantically involved with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair while still married to Mr. Murdoch, British security officials discussed with U.S. counterparts whether the alleged relationship could be cause for concern[.]”

Jared and Ivanka have been friends with Murdoch for years, and a representative for the two described Kushner’s briefing on Murdoch as “routine.”

-- Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) penned a joint Post op-ed calling on Congress to protect American elections: “Today, we are introducing bipartisan legislation to do just that. Our bill, the Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines Act, would send a powerful message to any foreign actor seeking to disrupt our elections: If you attack American candidates, campaigns or voting infrastructure, you will face severe consequences.” Rubio and Van Hollen outline sanctions against the Kremlin that they describe as “far tougher than any action taken on Russia to date.”

-- Hope Hicks is slated to meet privately with the House Intelligence Committee as soon as this week, making her one of Trump’s closest aides to be interviewed in the panel’s ongoing Russia probe. CNN’s Manu Raju, Dana Bash and Jeremy Herb report: “The House panel plans to interview her about any knowledge she has of contacts that occurred between other Trump associates and Russians. And she is bound to be questioned about other controversies as well, namely the White House's involvement in crafting a misleading response last summer [about the June 2016 meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer].” 

-- Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said in a radio interview that he expects to testify before the House Intelligence Committee on either Wednesday or Thursday. (CNN)


-- Across the military, troops are quietly preparing for a last resort: war with North Korea. The New York Times’s Helene Cooper, Eric Schmitt, Thomas Gibbons-Neff and John Ismay report: “At [Fort Bragg] last month, a mix of 48 Apache gunships and Chinook cargo helicopters took off in an exercise that practiced moving troops and equipment under live artillery fire to assault targets. Two days later, in the skies above Nevada, 119 soldiers [parachuted] out of C-17 military cargo planes under cover of darkness in an exercise that simulated a foreign invasion. Next month … more than 1,000 reserve soldiers will practice how to set up so-called mobilization centers that move military forces overseas in a hurry. And beginning next month with the Winter Olympics in [PyeongChang], the Pentagon plans to send more Special Operations troops to the Korean Peninsula, an initial step toward what some officials said ultimately could be the formation of a Korea-based task force[.]”

-- The Pentagon is planning to develop two new nuclear weapons. The Wall Street Journal’s Michael R. Gordon reports: “Supporters of the Pentagon’s plan say it is time for the U.S. to update its nuclear forces to deal with changing threats some three decades after the end of the Cold War. Critics worry that the Pentagon’s search for more flexible nuclear options could lower the threshold for their use. … That strategy, which is expected to be formally unveiled later this month, has yet to be approved by the president.”

-- Trump said the false alert about a missile striking Hawaii was the state’s responsibility. But he added that the federal government would “now get involved.” Officials for the Hawaii Emergency Management System blamed the mistake on human error — claiming an employee chose the wrong drop-down menu option during a training exercise — but the incident has raised questions about nationwide nuclear preparedness. (Todd C. Frankel and Amy B Wang)

-- Rex Tillerson and his Canadian counterpart are hosting a meeting in Vancouver today to discuss heightened economic sanctions against North Korea. Twenty nations that fought alongside the United States in the Korean War are expected to attend. Russia and China have voiced opposition to the session. (AP)

-- Former Defense Secretary William Perry has argued any military strike against North Korea, which the administration has reportedly considered, could escalate to nuclear war. The Cipher Brief’s Walter Pincus writes: “In the 1990s, Perry believed the key to dealing with North Korea would be diplomatic negotiations backed by open preparation for military action against the North’s then-startup nuclear production facilities. Now that Pyongyang has shown that it has nuclear weapons, his view has changed. ‘Sadly, I do not believe that any diplomacy will lead to North Korea giving up its nuclear arsenal,’ he [said.] … ‘The U.S. itself could create the condition that could blunder into a nuclear war, if we elect to make a conventional military strike against North Korea,’ Perry warned[.] … ‘Such a strike would surely be followed by a North Korean conventional military strike against South Korea, which all too easily could escalate into use of nuclear weapons,’ Perry said.”

-- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed outrage in response to a proposed U.S.-trained force in Syria, and threatened to “drown” the initiative before it was born. Louisa Loveluck reports: “The U.S.-led coalition confirmed Sunday that it was training recruits for a planned 30,000-strong force that will maintain security along Syria’s borders with Turkey and Iraq … But its manpower will be drawn from the Kurdish-dominated [SDF], Washington’s favored proxy in the fight against ISIS and a major source of contention with Ankara, which views Syria’s Kurdish militants as an extension of a Kurdish group in Turkey that has battled the central government for decades.”

-- Marine Le Pen hired Trump’s campaign pollster, Tony Fabrizio, to work for her in the final stretch of last year's French presidential race. BuzzFeed News’s Jules Darmanin reports: “In emails … Fabrizio exchanged ideas with Damien Philippot and Philippe Vardon, two members of Le Pen's official campaign staff, as well as Frédéric Chatillon and Paul-Alexandre Martin, two other campaign aides. Vincent Harris, a US campaign strategist that Le Pen had also brought onboard, also took part in the emails. One thread Fabrizio participated in took place in April 2017, just after a terrorist attack on the Champs-Elysées killed a police officer, days before the first round of voting opened.” “Was he an immigrant?” Fabrizio asked in the email. “If he was an immigrant and committed crimes, had he been deported he couldn't have attacked last night.”

-- Related reading --> “How Does Obama’s Foreign Policy Look a Year Into Trump?” by Susan B. Glasser in Politico Magazine: “[The] surprise ending to 2016 is really the starting point to the debate we’re still having more than a year later: How do we evaluate Obama’s legacy in the world when he appears to have been so politically repudiated at home, and the ultimate fate of so many of his signature diplomatic achievements, from the Iran nuclear deal to the Paris climate accord and Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, is now cast into doubt? Did Obama’s missteps — or even the failure of Obama and his aides to understand the rise of Trump — somehow pave the way for a successor who has little in the way of fixed foreign policy principles except to emphasize how different they are from Obama’s?”


-- Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) began his term by watching Republicans in the state legislature kill gun-control bills that Northam has backed. Laura Vozzella and Gregory S. Schneider report: “First thing Monday morning, a Republican-controlled Senate committee rejected a slew of Democratic bills intended to curb gun violence, including one that called for universal background checks for firearm purchases. … Despite the losses before the Senate committee, Northam urged [gun-control] activists not to give up hope for universal background checks and the restoration of the state’s one-per-month cap on gun purchases. Similar bills were still alive in the House of Delegates.”

-- Northam received a congratulatory call from Trump, during which they pledged to work together on issues of common interest. “They talked about the defense industry and its importance to Virginia’s economy,” Northam’s press secretary said. (Martin Weil)

-- New Jersey Gov.-elect Phil Murphy will be sworn in today, making the state one of eight in which Democrats run every branch of government. He’s also planning a massive leftward swing that could serve as a model for other Democratic governors, especially with the GOP defending so many gubernatorial seats this year. David Weigel reports: “If Murphy has his way, New Jersey will become a proving ground for every liberal policy idea coming into fashion, from legalized marijuana . . . to a virtual bill of rights for undocumented immigrants. [And] Republicans, who control 33 governor’s mansions, are defending 26 of them in this year’s midterm elections. … The prospect of New Jersey shifting to the left, smack in the middle of the nation’s largest media market, strikes Republicans as an opportunity to warn voters in swing states of what could happen if Democrats take power. … Murphy is raring to prove that wrong.” “Somebody said to me at one point, ‘Hey, how come you haven’t moved to the middle since you won the primary?’” Murphy said. “I said, ‘Let me tell you the secret: I believed what I said in the primary.’”


-- Steve Bannon has lost the support of most Trump supporters, according to a new poll, which could thwart any attempt to shepherd his preferred candidates through GOP primaries. HuffPost’s Ariel Edwards-Levy reports: “Roughly two-thirds of Trump voters now view Bannon unfavorably, with just 13 percent still viewing him favorably, [the HuffPost/YouGov poll found]. Bannon’s ignominy among members of the president’s base is a relatively new development. Even after his ouster from the White House, 38 percent of Trump voters viewed the former top adviser positively and only 26 percent held a negative view of him, according to a survey taken last August[.] … Asked whether they side more with Trump or Bannon, 66 percent of Trump voters say they back the president, with just 1 percent siding with Bannon. Another 21 percent don’t agree with either, with the remainder unsure.”

-- Trump and his allies have begun conversationally handicapping the president’s potential 2020 rivals. Politico’s Annie Karni reports: “Former Vice President Joe Biden … is seen as someone who could cut into Trump's base. One former White House official outlined a theory of the case that has gained some traction: Trump’s policies will continue to be popular all the way through his reelection campaign, but his approval rating will never crack 45 percent — creating an opening for Biden, or someone like him, to recapture the loyalty of white Rust Belt Democrats who helped elect Trump in 2016.” “I hope CNN has Kirsten Gillibrand on every minute of every day. Love it. Bring it. She's easy to destroy,” the former staffer said. “If you're the president, or the RNC, you're more worried about someone who looks like Biden — someone who has more mainstream appeal, who blue-collar workers could identity with.”

-- Antonio Sabato Jr., an early Trump supporter and former actor who is running for Congress in California, has came under fire for two film roles that some critics have described as “pornography.” The LA Times’s Seema Mehta reports: “Some Republicans in his district, which includes most of Ventura County and has been represented by Rep. Julia Brownley (D-Westlake Village) since 2013, are saying movie roles in which Sabato simulated sex with a man and appeared nude disqualify him from representing the GOP. … Sabato is a vocal supporter of Trump and spoke on his behalf at the Republican National Convention in 2016, efforts that he said have hampered his acting career.”


A National Review correspondent reacted to the Wall Street Journal's report that Michael Cohen, the president's longtime personal lawyer, paid a former adult-film star $130,000 the month before the 2016 election to keep quiet about an encounter she had with Trump in 2006:

The president and vice president honored the legacy of Martin Luther King:

Samantha Bee replied to Pence's tweet:

From the former president:

From Civil Rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.):

From Hillary Clinton:

From the former FBI director:

From the former acting attorney general, who got fired by Trump:

From an editor for the Atlantic:

One of King's children also took a moment to honor her mother, Coretta Scott King:

Trump went after Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) for speaking out about Trump's “shithole” comment:

From Durbin’s communications director:

From a Politico reporter who covers Congress:

From conservative commentator Erick Erickson:

From the former presidential candidate and possibly future Senate candidate:

Jeb Bush responded to Romney's tweet:

This photo from a Detroit Free Press reporter spread across Twitter:

The Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol tweeted The Post's story about McCarthy with this caption:

For a rare moment, Dallas saw snow:

And mark your calendars:


-- New York Times, “50 Years Later, It Feels Familiar: How America Fractured in 1968,” by Jacey Fortin and Maggie Astor: “‘World Bids Adieu to a Violent Year’ was the [Jan. 1, 1967] headline in The New York Times. But 1968 would be tumultuous, too. Even from the distance of a half-century, the moment feels familiar. From January to December, people demonstrated against racial injustice and economic inequality. Abroad, the United States military slogged through a seemingly interminable war. And after two terms with a Democrat in the White House, a Republican presidential candidate campaigned on a promise of law and order, and won.”

-- The Atlantic, “Five Decades of White Backlash,” by Vann R. Newkirk II: “He made his fortune in the industry that created the hyperghetto. He chafed against fair-housing laws. He became a cartoonishly wealthy mogul as income inequality soared. He called for the deaths of five black and Latino teenagers — who were later exonerated of the rape charge in question — in the height of mass incarceration in America. And against his nemesis Barack Obama, Trump nurtured the birtherism festering in pockets of the country that eventually gave him the keys to the White House. It’s only natural that as the embodiment of a half-century of backlash, Trump’s only real concrete policies have been negations of [Martin Luther] King.”

-- The New Yorker, “Under Trump, a Hard Test for Howard University,” by Jelani Cobb: “A historically black institution confronts a new era in politics.”

-- New York Times, “A Case for Math, Not ‘Gobbledygook,’ in Judging Partisan Voting Maps,” by Adam Liptak: “[Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts’s] opinion, in Shelby County v. Holder in 2013, effectively struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. It included a statistical chart showing the shrinking ‘racial gap’ between registration rates for black and white voters in six Southern states. The statistics in the recent gerrymandering cases were more complicated, but not by much. Just as comparing registration rates between black and white voters yielded a ‘racial gap,’ comparing the voting power of Republican and Democratic voters yields what the challengers in the Wisconsin case called an ‘efficiency gap.’”


“Meet the 24-year-old Trump campaign worker appointed to help lead the government’s drug policy office,” from  Robert O'Harrow Jr.: “In May 2016, Taylor Weyeneth was an undergraduate at St. John’s University in New York, a legal studies student and fraternity member who organized a golf tournament and other events to raise money for veterans and their families. Less than a year later, at 23, Weyeneth, was a political appointee and rising star at the Office of National Drug Control Policy[.] … Weyeneth’s ascent from a low-level post to deputy chief of staff is the result, in large part, of staff turnover and vacancies. The story of his appointment and remarkable rise provides insight into the Trump administration’s political appointments and the troubled state of the drug policy office.”



“Highest GOP Satisfaction With U.S. Direction Since 2007,” from Gallup: “About six in 10 Republicans (61%) say they are satisfied with the way things are going in the U.S. -- the party's highest level of satisfaction since February 2007. Current GOP sentiment about the direction of the U.S. is a major turnaround for a party that suffered depressed levels of satisfaction earlier in the year after a number of legislative setbacks and various challenges to Trump's White House in its first year. ... Independents, too, have become more satisfied since October, after hitting a 2017 low of 20% that month. Currently, 31% of independents report satisfaction with the way things are going for the country. Meanwhile, Democrats have dipped to a new Trump-era low in satisfaction with the nation's direction.”



Trump will meet with the president of Kazakhstan, followed by a joint news briefing with the two leaders.


Former U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power described hosting a 2016 Election Night party with prominent women figures — including Madeleine Albright and Gloria Steinem — to celebrate Hillary Clinton’s assumed victory. HBO was at the party to film the attendees’ reaction to the results for an upcoming documentary. “I’ve had a lot of bad ideas in my life, but none as immortalized as this one,” Power said. (Politico)



-- Washington could see up to two inches of snow tonight, possibly impacting residents’ evening commute. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Mostly cloudy and not quite as cold with highs in the upper-30s to low-40s range. Light winds from the easterly direction. Some light snow could develop in our west and northwest areas by sunset.”

-- The Wizards lost to the Bucks 104-95. (Candace Buckner)

-- Martin Luther King’s son spoke at the Mall memorial of the icon to the civil rights leader for MLK Day. Tara Bahrampour reports: “‘We must evaluate where we are,’ said Martin Luther King III, standing with his wife and daughter. Recalling his father’s push to help the poor, he said it was ‘unacceptable’ that more than 60 million people in the United States still live in poverty. ‘The question becomes, “What will we do as communities across America to fulfill and envision and make the dream become a reality?” ‘ he said. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and FBI Director Christopher A. Wray also spoke at the King memorial on the shore of the Tidal Basin[.]”

-- A Baltimore statue honoring Francis Scott Key was defaced with red paint. Near the monument to the writing of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the words “Racist Anthem” were sprayed on a sidewalk. (Tara Bahrampour)

-- Walter Reed National Military Medical Center suffered a partial ceiling collapse. No injuries were reported. (Martin Weil)

-- An outdoor art display in the NoMa neighborhood is displacing homeless people. Rachel Chason reports: “Workers began installing outdoor art displays in two underpasses in the District’s NoMa neighborhood last week. But first, officials had to clear out more than a dozen homeless people living in tents on the sidewalks, in what advocates said was a vivid example of the downside of gentrification.”


During an interview with Stephen Colbert, top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer shared his firm belief that Trump made the “shithole” comment:

Jimmy Fallon parodied the James Taylor classic “Fire and Rain” with a spin for the Trump era — “Fire and Fury”:

Ronald Reagan's 1987 address on MLK Day made the rounds on Twitter:

The Post’s Griff Witte reports on the horrific conditions at a Greece refugee camp, which some activists fear are a deliberate ploy to keep people away:

A firefighter in Georgia rescued a child dropped from a burning building:

A car in California become wedged in the second story of a dentist's office: