Many Republicans think the federal government isn’t just a problem, but a leviathan that needs to be slain. Democrats, in contrast, believe that government is a force for good, and party leaders see it as their solemn duty to deliver services. They see themselves as “afflicted,” as Hillary Clinton likes to say, “with the responsibility gene.”
That’s partly why it took Republicans two weeks to cave when they shut down the federal government in 2013, but Democrats could only hold out for two full days when they tried it. Their ploy failed as vulnerable incumbents and pillars of the party’s governing wing got cold feet, forcing leaders to blink.
The doomed-to-fail strategy was reminiscent of Air America, the radio channel that was created by the left during the George W. Bush era to try to out-Rush-Limbaugh Rush Limbaugh. Not only can that not be done, it wasn’t really what the base wanted. They hated Bush, but lefties also temperamentally yearn for inclusion, civility and dialogue.
One of the reasons that the Obama alumni who host Pod Save America have become so popular in the progressive world is that they did not try to mimic Fox or Breitbart when they launched their show. They came up with a new model.
-- As government employees head back to work, here are six additional takeaways:
1. Senate Democrats do not really trust Mitch McConnell. They just needed an excuse to cave.
In exchange for reopening the government through Feb. 8, the majority leader promised that the Senate will consider the status of “dreamers,” the undocumented immigrants who were brought to this country illegally as children.
“The agreement … merely set the parameters of a debate and did not specify the substance of any potential legislation, leaving the fate of the immigration issue just as unclear as before. But the deal was enough for 33 Senate Democrats, who joined 48 Republicans to break an impasse,” Sean Sullivan, Ed O'Keefe and Elise Viebeck report. “McConnell delivered a carefully worded speech on the Senate floor, saying it was his ‘intention’ to address the dreamer issue, whether in the next spending bill or thereafter. He did not offer a specific promise to protect dreamers, and he suggested that he would offer nothing if the government shut down again, but he said he would follow an evenhanded process.”
“He did not make a commitment,” said Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), one of 16 Democrats who voted against the bill.
The freshman was one of several potential presidential candidates who opposed the “compromise,” including Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Cory Booker (N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Chris Murphy (Conn.) and Bernie Sanders (Vt.). (See how every member voted here.)
But Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) made clear that he is more concerned about his members who are on the ballot this November than the 2020 wannabes. Senators like Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) warned him loudly during a caucus meeting on Monday morning that the political cost of the shutdown was rapidly escalating for them back home.
“Voters in Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin were getting Republican robo-calls saying Democrats had ‘prioritized illegal immigrants over American citizens,’” Robert Costa, Erica Werner and Karen Tumulty report. “Polls consistently show that a large majority of the public is sympathetic to the plight of the hundreds of thousands of (dreamers) … But what the Democratic senators were sensing was something else that shows up in the polls: Most voters do not want to see the government shut down over immigration. And the causes that are articles of faith with the Democrats’ liberal and ethnically diverse base can alienate many voters in conservative, largely white battleground states. After the Democrats’ huddle, Schumer went to the floor and relented.”
2. Moderates flexed their muscles.
“The number of ideological moderates in the Senate can be counted on one hand, but the 25 who hatched the compromise were the temperamental moderates,” writes Dana Milbank. “And, for once, moderation prevailed.”
A group of about two dozen senators began meeting late last week in the office of Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) to try brokering a deal that would avert a shutdown, and they kept talking after it began. “To try and keep the peace, Collins wouldn't let any senator in the room talk unless they were holding a ‘talking stick’ — which a senator in the room described as a ‘ceremonial Native American stick’ that Collins owned,” Politico reports. “At one point, Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee forcefully tossed the stick toward Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia after Warner interrupted him, nearly shattering a glass elephant belonging to Collins, according to two people briefed on the throw. After that incident, Collins suggested using a small rubber ball, and Alexander also brought his own basketball ‘because it’d be safer than a stick,’ an aide said.”
3. Many House conservatives remain determined to pigeonhole any DACA fix that could pass the Senate.
The deal that reopened the government did nothing to ensure the House will act on a bill that the Senate passes, and conservatives aligned with the Freedom Caucus predicted that the bipartisan proposals currently being considered would be dead on arrival in their chamber.
In 2013, the Senate passed comprehensive immigration reform. The House never even took it up, and any prospect that it would be considered died when House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost his primary to Dave Brat in Virginia.
“Just like the Gang of Eight bill didn’t pass in the House, this idea is not going to pass in the House. That’s when they’re going to realize that they’re going to have to move a little bit to our side,” said Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho).
“House Republicans, meanwhile, are entertaining much more restrictive legislation that would grant legal status only to those who applied for and received DACA protections,” Mike DeBonis reports. “In addition, the bill sponsored by Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Michael McCaul (R-Tex.), Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) and Labrador would reduce the number of authorized legal immigrants by roughly 25 percent — about 260,000 a year — while also authorizing border-wall construction, funding 10,000 new Border Patrol and immigration enforcement officers, and mandating employers use the federal ‘E-Verify' system to screen employees for immigration status. The legislation also would crack down on ‘sanctuary cities’ that do not cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
“Any one of those provisions represents a deal-killer for Democrats — as well as for many Republicans,” DeBonis notes. “House GOP leaders have been skeptical that they can build enough support among Republicans alone, but the bill’s sponsors and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) have launched an effort to get more members on board in hopes of staging a vote before the March deadline. Bipartisan talks among House members have produced a bill sponsored by Reps. Will Hurd (R-Tex.) and Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.) that would take a much narrower approach to protecting dreamers and could ultimately get Democrats on board. But under pressure from their conservative ranks, House Republican leaders have shown little enthusiasm for the bill.”
4. This dynamic will put Paul Ryan between a rock (the establishment) and a hard place (the grass roots).
As a congressman, he agitated for a bipartisan immigration deal. To become speaker, he pledged that he’d only bring an immigration bill to the floor if a majority of GOP lawmakers would vote for it. That’s the so-called Hastert Rule.
For now, he’s trying to thread the needle. “We don’t want to kick kids out,” he said on Fox News yesterday. “But … we don’t want to say to people in other countries, ‘Oh, get yourself to America illegally because sooner or later you will get legalized.’ We need to make sure that we control immigration.”
House leaders said they’re still acting as if the deadline to deal with DACA is March 6, which is when Trump announced last year that he would end the program.
A former spokesman for the Obama Justice Department argues that Democrats will benefit politically if House Republicans block a DACA fix that passes the Senate:
5. McConnell won the messaging war because Trump (mostly) stayed out of his way.
Keeping the president as contained as possible and largely hidden from view deprived Democrats of the boogeyman they expected when they decided to force the shutdown.
As negotiations stalled Friday night, McConnell called Trump and told him he should prepare for a shutdown. “Trump, ever eager for a deal, responded by asking who else he should call and suggested he dial Democrats or try [Schumer] again,” Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey report. “But McConnell urged the president to sit tight and make the Democrats come to them … Trump paused, agreed, and then offered McConnell his highest praise: ‘You are a good negotiator.’ … Over the weekend, aides like [Mick] Mulvaney, [John] Kelly and [Marc] Short warned Trump to stay out of the fight and let it play out on Capitol Hill. … McConnell and [Ryan] also believed that the Democrats were in a politically tricky position, and called Trump multiple times to ensure he remained locked into the approach … Trump told advisers on several occasions he was listening — even if his instincts were to do otherwise …
“Frank Sharry, the executive director of America’s Voice, a pro-immigration group, said the Democratic strategy — to have Schumer coax Trump into a bipartisan deal, which the president would then sell to reluctant congressional Republicans — failed when Trump receded from public view and negotiations. Schumer tried to lure Trump back to the table with public comments but failed, aides said …
“Whether the White House can secure an immigration deal — and stave off a longer shutdown — remains unclear,” Parker and Dawsey write. “Trump huddled with hard-line Republicans and moderate Democrats at the White House on Monday but offered few specifics on what he wanted. He remains flexible on policy and an unreliable negotiator, and several aides said privately the next test would be harder than this one.”
“What’s been difficult is dealing with the White House and not knowing where the president is,” Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said yesterday. “I don’t think it will change.”
6. Dreamers (who can’t vote) feel betrayed, but Latinos (who can) will probably still turn out for Democrats anyway because of how much they hate Trump:
Alida Garcia is the director of coalitions and policy for FWD.us, the pro-immigration group funded by tech executives like Mark Zuckerberg. She was deputy director of national Latino outreach for Obama’s reelection campaign and has worked on a bunch of Democratic campaigns. Yesterday she left the Democratic Party:
There was lots of grumbling in this vein on social media, including from a veteran of Bernie’s presidential campaign who has been organizing dreamer protests:
David Weigel, who closely follows Latinos and the professional left for us, rounds up a lot of angry statements from the usual suspects, including the Working Families Party, the Indivisible Project, Justice Democrats, CREDO Action and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. But he’s skeptical that these jabs will mean long-term term damage to the party:
“The progressive movement’s most pugnacious groups have swung and missed before; in Virginia, infamously, the Howard Dean-founded group Democracy for America denounced now-Gov. Ralph Northam (D-Va.) for a ‘racist’ statement that he would oppose sanctuary status if any of the state’s cities tried to implement it. Latino turnout surged regardless, powering Northam to a nine-point victory and sweeping 14 new Democratic legislators into the state’s House of Delegates …
“Democrats believe that the anger and cries of betrayal would have been worse had the party not fought the continuing resolution at all. One senator predicted that any deal short of a ‘clean Dream Act’ — i.e., the deal that Democrats thought they had before the infamous ‘s — hole’ meeting at the White House — was going to stoke a certain amount of anger in the base. Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-Ill.), perhaps the fiercest advocate for dreamers in the House, caught a glimpse of that anger after suggesting that funding (or partially funding) a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border would be worth it if that meant a path for the Dream Act. … After denouncing the way Democrats handled negotiations, by Monday afternoon most of the outraged groups were urging activists to pile on the pressure.”
-- A new cliff now looms in 16 days. In addition to immigration, both parties and both chambers still need to hash out a deal on military and domestic spending.
HOW IT’S PLAYING:
-- This morning’s clips are brutal for Senate Democrats, especially Schumer. The mainstream media coverage is portraying them, almost universally, as weak-kneed and hapless. They’re getting mocked on the right and hammered even harder from left-leaning outlets.
-- From the MSM:
- Los Angeles Times: “Analysts say Russian Twitter accounts promoted Republican talking points during government shutdown.”
- New York Times: “Hoping for a Bargain in a Swift Surrender: Senate Democrats believe they are limiting damage from a political miscalculation by surrendering, but doing so has drawn a fierce backlash from the left.”
- Politico: “Schumer's shutdown performance sparks unrest in his ranks. The Democratic leader confronts the most serious cracks in the unity he's tried to foster since he took the reins of his conference last year.”
- Reuters: “Schumer keeps eye on November.”
- The Hill: “2020 Democrats vote against Schumer deal.”
- Wall Street Journal: “Centrist Senators Outflanked Party Leadership to End Shutdown.”
- The New Yorker: “In the end, it took two weeks for Washington to agree on how it will fund the government for the next three weeks.”
- Minneapolis Star Tribune: “Congress opts for another Band-Aid.”
- ABC: “… Immigration debate continues.”
- CNN: “Progressives fume…”
- Time: “The Shutdown Ended Because Democrats Lost Their Spine.”
- Daily Beast: “Dems Fold on This Shutdown, but the Next One Could Be Worse. … If the majority leader breaks his promise, all hell will break loose.”
- Miami Herald: “Bill Nelson votes to reopen the federal government without an immigration deal.”
- McClatchy story running in the Charlotte Observer: “'None of it matters' — top operatives shrug off shutdown fallout in 2018 vote.”
- The Atlantic: “Democrats Relent.”
- Fortune: “Democrats … Blinked.”
- Yahoo News: “Shutdown fizzles…”
-- On the right:
- Fox News: “Trump lauds ‘big win.’”
- National Review: “Democrats Learn the Hard Way that Americans Don't Like Government Shutdowns.”
- Breitbart: “Surrender: Dems’ Schumer Shutdown Cave Endangers Leftists, Emboldens GOP for 2018 Elections.”
- The Drudge Report banner headline is: “THEY’RE BACK.”
- Washington Examiner: “‘Stupidest damn thing I've ever seen': Democrats miscalculate...”
- Weekly Standard: “Trump … signals willingness to get DACA deal.”
-- On the left:
- MSNBC: “Schumer's rare double-buckle on the shutdown infuriates Democrats...”
- HuffPost: “Dreamers Feel Betrayed After Senate Democrats Break Their Promises.”
- Vox: “Democrats didn't cave on the shutdown.”
- Talking Points Memo: “'It's Morally Reprehensible': Liberals Livid With Senate Dems…”
- Mother Jones: “Ban Government Shutdowns? Maybe We Actually Need More of Them.”
- Slate: “The Democrats Are Losers. Democrats in Congress fail, again, to deliver for an active, energized base.”
WAPO TEAM COVERAGE:
- Style’s Ben Terris sets the scene: “The Senate gathered to reopen the government, and boy did everyone have a great time.”
- The Fix’s Amber Phillips says congressional Republicans, Trump and moderates are “the winners,” and Democrats, dreamers and future spending deals were “the losers.”
- The brinkmanship is making government work less attractive for many civil servants. From the local desk’s Arelis R. Hernández, Steve Hendrix and John Woodrow Cox: “Errick King, a federal employee for 30 years, thinks he knows exactly what lawmakers will do next: more of the same. Congress has not balanced a budget in years, and King doesn’t expect them to come February. That has left the father of three feeling so hopeless that he has considered changing his family’s lifestyle, including skipping the after-church meals out on Sunday afternoons and nixing the weekly bowling games they so enjoy. The relentless instability, he said, is leading career employees to retire early and abandon agencies, leaving them increasingly thin on institutional knowledge. ‘People are fed up,’ said King, an IT specialist with the Bureau of the Fiscal Service in Hyattsville, Md. ‘I think it hurts the government overall because you are losing that knowledge and skill. We are reliant on that to provide quality service.’"
-- The Post’s opinion page:
- The Editorial Board praises the senators who worked to end the impasse: “From here, that core group of moderate, dealmaking lawmakers should feel empowered. The broad middle in both houses of Congress should no longer wait for direction from a chaotic White House or spineless congressional leadership. They may discover that they have more in common with members of the other party also interested in competent, responsive government than they do with the ideologues in their own camp.”
- Catherine Rampell: “Blame McConnell and Ryan for the shutdown.”
- Marc Thiessen: “Democrats just got rolled. They can blame Barack Obama.”
- Carter Eskew: “Schumer’s strategic retreat...”
- Jennifer Rubin: “It is unlikely to matter by the midterms. Especially during the Trump era, the sheer volume of news cycles between now and then should make this a distant memory. (If you recall, the GOP staged and lost a government shutdown in 2013, and then won big in 2014.)”
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- “FBI Director Christopher A. Wray has been resisting pressure from Attorney General Jeff Sessions to replace the bureau’s deputy director, Andrew McCabe, a frequent target of criticism from President Trump,” Devlin Barrett and Philip Rucker report, citing people familiar with the matter. “The tension over McCabe and other high-level FBI officials who served during James B. Comey’s tenure has reached the White House, where counsel Donald McGahn has sought to mediate the issue … As Sessions tried to push Wray to make personnel changes, Wray conveyed his frustration to the attorney general … Sessions then discussed the matter with McGahn, who advised him to ease off, which he did …”
“Axios was first to report the Session-Wray dispute on Monday evening, indicating that Wray had threatened to resign if Sessions did not stop pressuring him to fire McCabe. But several people familiar with the dynamic told The Post that they were not aware of Wray making such an explicit threat. Firing McCabe could be problematic because he has limited civil service protections as a government employee. Such a move, in the aftermath of public criticism from the president and others, could prompt litigation.”
-- The former FBI director appeared to react overnight:
-- A tsunami warning was issued and soon after lifted for the northern Pacific Coast after an undersea earthquake with an approximate magnitude of 8.2 struck near Alaska. Fred Barbash and Brian Murphy report: “There were no reports of significant ocean surges after the expected time the first effects could reach Alaskan shores. Later, The National Weather Service in Juneau said the warning was lifted from the Washington border, British Columbia and up to Alaska’s Hinchinbrook Entrance, a seaway southeast of Anchorage. An advisory remained in effect to the west, including Kodiak. … At its height, a warning was in effect for more than 3,000 miles of coastal zones north of the Washington border: British Columbia and Alaska’s entire southern shoreline including the Aleutian Islands.”
GET SMART FAST:
- Thousands of families are being evacuated from the Philippine’s Albany province as the country’s most active volcano, Mount Mayon, inches closer to what could be a major eruption. (Kristine Phillips)
- Five people remain missing following a gas explosion at an Oklahoma drilling rig. The local sheriff’s office declined to say whether anyone was killed but noted that more than 20 employees were present at the time of the explosion. (Kristine Phillips)
- The Navy’s brand new, $440 million warship — hailed as a fast, agile platform capable of battling a bevy of advanced coastal threats — has been trapped in ice since Christmas Eve in Canadian waters. (Amy B Wang)
- Hawaii’s governor explained his delayed response after the false missile alert: He forgot his Twitter password. Gov. David Ige (D) waited 17 minutes to tweet, “There is NO missile threat.” He explained after his state of the state address, “I have to confess that I don’t know my Twitter account logons and the passwords, so certainly that’s one of the changes that I’ve made.” (Travis M. Andrews)
- The House Ethics Committee launched an investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against Rep. Patrick Meehan. The Pennsylvania Republican requested the inquiry after reports he used public funds to settle a sexual harassment complaint from a former staffer. (Mike DeBonis)
- Three top members of the USA Gymnastics board resigned as more than 140 women have now alleged abuse by the organization’s former physician, Larry Nassar, who is awaiting sentencing on charges of child pornography and molestation. (Cindy Boren)
- USA Gymnastics also suspended former U.S. women’s coach John Geddert, pending an investigation into his ties to Nassar. Geddert coached women's gymnastics during the 2012 London Olympics and has operated two gyms that employed Nassar. (ESPN)
- Pope Francis apologized for defending Juan Barros, a controversial Chilean bishop accused of covering up sexual abuse, even as he continued to describe him as a victim of “slander.” Francis set off a firestorm last week, generating backlash from his own top adviser on clerical sex abuse. (Sarah Pulliam Bailey)
- A man in Michigan was arrested for threatening to “gun the f — kin’ CNN cast down.” Brandon Griesemer is accused of making 22 phone calls to CNN’s public contact number, four of which resulted in threats. (Kyle Swenson)
- A Cuban boy with a 10-pound, basketball-sized facial tumor died last week, just days after a team of doctors removed the life-threatening growth from his face. The boy was originally brought to U.S. doctors by missionaries in Cuba after doctors on the island refused to perform the risky operation. (Cleve R. Wootson Jr.)
- Neil Diamond announced he has Parkinson’s disease. The legendary songwriter said he would retire from touring as a result of the diagnosis. (Travis M. Andrews)
- Delta is tightening its policy allowing “emotional support” animals on its planes after they caused a surge of “incidents,” such as biting or defecating midflight. Delta said it flew some 250,000 emotional support animals last year, an increase of 150 percent from 2015. (Karin Brulliard)
- Ousted “Today” show host Matt Lauer has been kicked out of his family home in the Hamptons. Page Six reports that Lauer’s wife, Annette Roque, is likely to file for divorce soon.
BACKLASH TO TRUMP TARIFFS:
-- Trump imposed new tariffs on solar panels and washing machines on Monday, two unilateral actions that could signal the start of a broader trade war.
The 30 percent tariff on solar cells will gradually decline to half that figure over a four-year period. From David J. Lynch: “The Suniva-SolarWorld request for protection was opposed by much of the domestic U.S. solar industry. Tariffs make solar panels more expensive, and thus discourage their use, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. The trade association said the tariffs would cause 23,000 installers, engineers and project managers to lose their jobs this year as billions of dollars in planned investment evaporates. … Up to one third of the 260,000 Americans currently employed in the industry are at risk because of the tariffs over the longer term, the group said.”
“In the case of washing machines, Trump acted in response to a petition from Whirlpool, which complained about low-cost competition from rivals Samsung and LG,” Lynch writes. “The first 1.2 million washing machines imported each year will face a 20 percent tariff, with additional imports facing a 50 percent tax. Under Monday's announcement, parts also will be hit with a 50 percent tariff.”
-- Tellingly, only some GOP lawmakers put out statements objecting to the latest round of protectionism. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) was one of them: “Here's something Republicans used to understand: Tariffs are taxes on families. Moms and dads shopping on a budget for a new washing machine will pay for this — not big companies. You don't fix eight years of bad energy policy with bad trade policy.”
-- Trump's decision will hurt South Carolina, even though the Palmetto State delivered bigly for him in the 2016 primaries. “Samsung recently opened a home appliance plant in Newberry, S.C., and affiliates with the manufacturing giant say tariffs could make it difficult for the new operation to stay viable,” McClatchyDC’s Emma Dumain reports. “It has opened for business and hired more than 600 people with plans to employ as many as 1,000 by 2020. The company has also been working to forge research partnerships with Clemson University and the University of South Carolina. Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., who represents Newberry, [said] Samsung president’s had told him this decision would ‘not bode well’ for the company.”
A spokesman for South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) — who has spent several months heavily lobbying Trump’s administration for leniency in the trade cases — said the governor was “obviously disappointed” by Trump’s decision.
-- Samsung called the Trump administration’s decision “a great loss for American consumers and workers": “This tariff is a tax on every consumer who wants to buy a washing machine. Everyone will pay more, with fewer choices.”
-- ICE authorities detained Polish doctor and green-card holder Lukasz Niec last week — opening the Michigan father and husband, who has lived in the United States for nearly 40 years and doesn’t even speak Polish — to possible deportation. Samantha Schmidt reports: “According to his ‘notice to appear’ from [DHS], Niec’s detention stems from two misdemeanor convictions from 26 years ago. In January 1992, Niec was convicted of malicious destruction of property under $100. In April of that year, he was convicted of receiving and concealing stolen property[.] … Both of the offenses took place when he was a teenager. [Under] previous administrations, immigration authorities have often let low-level offenders off the hook, prioritizing the deportations of violent criminals. … But the Trump administration has issued sweeping new guidelines expanding the range of immigrants that count as high priority for deportation, including low-level offenders, and those with no criminal record — regardless of how long they have lived in the country.”
-- Before Trump's controversial voting commission was disbanded, it paid to buy Texas election data flagging voters with Hispanic surnames. Spencer S. Hsu and John Wagner report: “In buying nearly 50 million records from the state with the nation’s second-largest Hispanic population, a researcher for [Trump’s panel] checked a box on two Texas public voter data request forms explicitly asking for the ‘Hispanic surname flag notation,’ to be included in information sent to the voting commission[.] . . . Texas since 1983 has identified voters with a Hispanic name to mail bilingual election notices in Spanish and English as required by state and federal laws, said [a spokesman] for Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos (R). White House and Texas officials said the state’s voter data was never delivered because a lawsuit brought by Texas voting rights advocates after the request last year temporarily stopped any data handoff.”
THERE'S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:
-- The fiancee of former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos said he is the “John Dean” of the Russia investigation — comparing him to Nixon’s former White House counsel who became a key witness after pleading guilty to his role in the Watergate scandal. Rosalind S. Helderman reports: “‘George is very loyal. And he is on the right side of history,’ added [Simona Mangiante.] … Mangiante said she was advised by Papadopoulos’s lawyers not to answer specific questions about his activities during the 2016 presidential campaign or what he has told the FBI. But she indicated in an interview that she believes he ultimately will emerge as more than a bit player in the Russia probe — and that his decision to cooperate after he was arrested getting [in July] was a key turning point.”
“Without offering specifics, Mangiante said there is much more that has not yet been told publicly about Papadopoulos’ 10 months as an informal national security adviser to Trump and his interactions with a London-based professor [who claimed to have ‘dirt’ on Hillary Clinton].” “There’s a lot to come,” she said. “He was the first one to break a hole on all of this.”
-- Jared Kushner’s father, Charles Kushner, dismissed concerns about how the Russia investigations may probe the finances of the family business. Michael Kranish reports: “In his first interview since his son entered the White House, Charles Kushner said the company has no concerns about the investigations and dismissed suggestions that his son’s work with Trump has made it harder to obtain financing for the family’s many real estate projects. … Kushner said he has been given no indication that the firm is being investigated by [Robert Mueller.]”
-- Trump is slated to tap billionaire financier Stephen Feinberg to lead his Intelligence Advisory Board group, which serves as the president’s personal resource on intelligence matters. Its members are tasked with reviewing everything from bioweapons to intelligence failures. Foreign Policy’s Jenna McLaughlin reports: “Feinberg is the CEO of private investment firm Cerberus Capital Management, which owns the private security firm DynCorp International. Over the past summer, Feinberg and Blackwater founder Erik Prince both pitched plans for a private military force in Afghanistan to the White House. Prince had also suggested creating a ‘viceroy’ to oversee U.S. operations in Afghanistan — a position that Feinberg was reportedly angling to fill. Trump instead went with a more traditional military plan. … Feinberg does not have experience in government, but he donated nearly $1 million to a pro-Trump PAC five days before the election, and his name has repeatedly surfaced as a candidate for various national security and military roles during Trump’s first year in office.”
-- Attorney General Jeff Sessions pledged to “leave no stone unturned” in investigating why the FBI did not retain text messages between senior officials accused of political bias in the Russia probe. Sari Horwitz reports: “Sessions said late Monday that he has spoken to Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz about the missing text messages and that ‘a review is already underway to ascertain what occurred’ and determine whether the missing text messages can be recovered.”
-- Ecuador’s president described Julian Assange’s presence in the country’s London embassy, where the WikiLeaks founder has resided for over five years, as “more than a nuisance.” President Lenín Moreno also called Assange an “inherited problem,” as Moreno’s predecessor approved the hacker’s political asylum, rankling the United Kingdom and United States. (Amanda Erickson)
-- A watchdog group filed a complaint against Trump’s campaign over its reported payout to Stormy Daniels, saying the $130,000 in hush money allegedly given to the adult film star may have violated campaign finance laws. Mark Berman reports: “In a pair of federal complaints, Common Cause, a nonprofit government watchdog group, argued that the settlement amounted to an unreported in-kind contribution to Trump's campaign. The group called on the [DOJ] and [FEC] to investigate. This settlement should have been considered a campaign expense ‘because the funds were paid for the purpose of influencing the 2016 presidential general election,’ Paul S. Ryan, a campaign finance expert at the group, said in a letter addressed to [Jeff Sessions and Rod Rosenstein]. The pair of complaints filed by Common Cause said that the source of the $130,000 payment remains unknown, but they added that regardless of where it originated — even ‘if Donald J. Trump provided the funds’ — the money was aimed at affecting the election and then never reported.”
-- Is John Kelly on the outs? Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman reports that Trump has discussed choosing a successor to his chief of staff in recent days -- and has tasked Ivanka Trump with searching for Kelly’s possible replacement. “‘Ivanka is the most worried about it. She’s trying to figure who replaces Kelly,’ a person who’s spoken with her said. Kelly’s departure likely isn’t imminent … [But] the prospect of a Trump-Kelly rupture became more probable as news of their clashes over immigration leaked. Last week, Kelly reportedly infuriated Trump when he told Fox News that Trump had ‘evolved’ on his position to build a southern border wall. Kelly further catalyzed Trump’s ire when he told Democratic lawmakers that Trump was ‘uninformed’ when he made his [campaign promise of a border wall]. … Trump has increasingly been chafing at the media narrative that he needs Kelly to instill discipline on his freewheeling management style. In recent days, Trump has fumed to friends that Kelly acts like he’s running the government while Trump tweets and watches television. ‘I’ve got another nut job here who thinks he’s running things,’ Trump told one friend, according to a Republican briefed on the call.”
WITH AN EYE TOWARD TRUMP, THE GLOBAL ELITE GATHER IN DAVOS:
-- As this year’s annual World Economic Forum in Davos kicks off today, its attendees are pretty happy with their situation, powered by a strong global economy. Yet even the top 1 percent are concerned about the political fallout of “excessive inequality.” Heather Long reports: “Stock markets are at record highs, corporate taxes in the United States and United Kingdom are falling, and every major economy is growing. [Still], there is growing unease among the world’s millionaires and billionaires that this current gilded age could soon be cut short by the rise of populism and the deepening inequality fueling it. … Such anxieties that the global economic surge could be too good to last are manifest in the official theme for this year’s Swiss gathering: how to come together in a ‘fractured world.”
-- CEO optimism is also at a record high, according to a new survey. The Finance 202’s Tory Newmyer reports from Davos: “And while the cheer has spread to executives in every corner of the world, North American CEOs lead the pack. It’s the only region where business leaders expect their own companies’ fortunes to keep pace with the broader trend lines. The sentiment amounts to a Trump-style thumbs-up of sorts for the president’s economic agenda — at least as far as CEOs are concerned — and a shrug in the direction of his hawkish trade rhetoric and chaotic style.” Sign up for Tory’s newsletter here.
-- Meanwhile, Trump is expected to bring his “America First” rhetoric to the gathering of global elites later this week now that the government shutdown is over.
-- In a change of plans, the first lady will no longer be accompanying Trump to Davos, however. CNN’s Kate Bennett reports: “East Wing communications director Stephanie Grisham confirmed to CNN that the first lady's decision to forgo the trip was based on ‘scheduling and logistical issues.’ A week ago, Grisham told CNN the first lady would be attending the annual meeting of influential financial leaders and business titans in a show of support for her husband, who intends to give remarks during his visit. … Melania Trump has not made a public statement since January 12, when news of a possible payoff from her husband's lawyer to porn star Stormy Daniels to cover up an alleged affair was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.”
THE ROAD TO 2018:
-- The Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down the state’s congressional map, ruling the Republican-drawn districts were unconstitutionally gerrymandered. The decision is a big win for Democrats, forcing lawmakers to approve a replacement map ahead of the November elections. Amber Phillips reports: “Less partisan congressional districts could give Democrats a chance this November to win back as many as half a dozen seats that had been lost to them over the past decade. It could also give the party a major boost in its quest to take back the House of Representatives[.] … Pennsylvania Republicans cried foul and said they would try to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.”
-- Republican strategists hope focusing on the benefits of the GOP tax plan will allow them to avoid a blue wave in November. Michael Scherer and Karen Tumulty report: “GOP leaders and their allies plan to talk up job growth, highlight the soaring stock market and, most of all, convince voters that the tax-cut legislation that stands as their only major accomplishment is bringing back the good times. The effort represents an all-hands deployment by top Republican officials and their allies, with extensive travel in the coming months to key districts by Trump, Vice President Pence and Cabinet officials, as well as White House aides Ivanka Trump and Kellyanne Conway, to sell the tax overhaul.”
-- Georgia Democrats believe they have a chance to flip the governor’s mansion this year. Politico’s Daniel Strauss writes: “The party has two major candidates with a lot in common: Stacey Abrams and Stacey Evans are both veterans of the Georgia state House. Both are running as unapologetic liberals who see a path to victory guided by tapping into black voters, whom they see as an electoral sleeping giant — and courting suburban whites who usually vote Republican but are repelled by President Donald Trump.”
-- Despite his pending retrial on federal corruption charges, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) insists he'll run for reelection and is currently backed by his state’s Democratic leadership. Politico’s Matt Friedman reports: “The biggest [practical consideration] is a precedent set in 2002, when Democratic Sen. Bob Torricelli — damaged by his own scandal involving gifts from a campaign contributor — dropped his reelection bid. In October of that year, the state Supreme Court allowed Democrats to swap Torricelli’s name on the ballot with that of former Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who regretted his decision to retire two years earlier. Lautenberg won the election over Doug Forrester, a wealthy businessman and former small town mayor, by 10 points.”
PENCE'S MIDDLE EAST ADVENTURE:
-- Mike Pence announced before Israel’s parliament that the United States will relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in 2019, accelerating the timeline for the move. Jenna Johnson, Loveday Morris and Carol Morello report: “[On Monday], Pence looked notably more at ease than during earlier meetings in Egypt and Jordan, where he has been forced to defend the controversial decision[.] … ’Jerusalem is Israel’s capital — and, as such, [Trump] has directed the State Department to immediately begin preparations to move the United States embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,’ Pence said to applause.”
-- Pence also defended Trump’s comments regarding “shithole” countries, telling the AP in an interview that he “knows the president’s heart”: “[Pence said] Trump is determined to implement a merit-based system that encourages immigration by those who will ‘contribute to a growing American economy and thriving communities’ and one that does not take into account the immigrants’ ‘race or creed.’” He also refused to respond to reports of Trump’s alleged affair with an adult film star, dismissing them as “baseless allegations.”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) had this moment on the Senate floor caught on a hot mic:
The resolution of the shutdown – and the political costs of it – dominated social media. From an adviser to Paul Ryan:
The White House shared this picture of Trump signing the short-term spending measure:
Trump took a victory lap:
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) raised eyebrows with this quote:
A former senior aide to John Boehner, and veteran of the presidential campaigns of Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush, bristled:
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) doesn't trust Mitch McConnell:
From Politico's senior congressional scribe:
From a Fox News analyst:
From the Boston Globe's deputy Washington bureau chief:
From a former Obama administration official:
From a former spokesman for both Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer:
Conservative pundit Ann Coulter mocked Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) for his views on DACA:
From a Washington Examiner correspondent:
The White House defended its position on immigration:
From the communications director for Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.):
Trump criticized the FBI for not retaining texts between senior officials accused of political bias:
From the president's son:
A House Republican suggested the texts were not truly lost:
Sen. Jeff Flake provided on update on his fellow Arizona Republican:
Some powerful Republicans gathered at John Cornyn's house last night for a dinner to fete Neil Gorsuch:
Mike Bloomberg slammed the new tariffs on solar panels:
And the Super Bowl trash-talking has already begun. From a House Democrat:
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
-- Politico Magazine, “Tony Perkins: Trump Gets 'a Mulligan’ on Life, Stormy Daniels,” by Edward-Isaac Dovere: “[Conservative evangelical leaders] embrace Trump the policymaker, says Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, despite being uneasy about Trump as a man. … ‘We kind of gave him — “All right, you get a mulligan. You get a do-over here,”’ Perkins [said.] Weigh a paid-off porn star against being the first president to address the March for Life, and a lot of evangelical leaders insist they can still walk away happy.”
-- New York Times, “Wary, Weary or Both, Southern Lawmakers Tone Down Culture Wars,” by Alan Binder: “A combination of fear, fatigue and legislative mathematics appear to be behind the shift. Many people believe that states have grown wary of provoking a pronounced corporate backlash like the one North Carolina experienced in 2016. Others sense little appetite among lawmakers for another year of battles over divisive social issues, noting that few of the faces in the legislatures have changed since the previous conflagrations.”
-- BuzzFeed News, “Inside The Fight For The Soul Of Kaspersky Lab,” by Ilya Zhegulev: “[T]he decline in fortunes of Kaspersky Lab was the result of an internal struggle for control that pitted allies of the Russian secret service against ‘tech-savvy’ staff and Western investors. The managers within destroy everything the company has built outside Russia.”Kaspersky Lab, like [alleged former KGB officer Igor Chekunov], with ties to Russia’s security agencies won that battle. But in so doing, they threaten to
-- New York Times, “Naomi Parker Fraley, the Real Rosie the Riveter, Dies at 96,” by Margalit Fox: “Unsung for seven decades, the real Rosie the Riveter was a California waitress named Naomi Parker Fraley. Over the years, a welter of American women have been identified as the model for Rosie, the war worker of 1940s popular culture who became a feminist touchstone in the late 20th century. Mrs. Fraley, who died on Saturday, at 96, in Longview, Wash., staked the most legitimate claim of all. But because her claim was eclipsed by another woman’s, she went unrecognized for more than 70 years.”
HOT ON THE LEFT:
“NASA pulled this astronaut from a space station crew. Her brother blames racism,” from Sarah Kaplan: “NASA astronaut Jeanette Epps, who was slated to become the first black crew member to live on board the International Space Station, was unexpectedly pulled from her June flight. … Epps, who has a PhD in aerospace engineering, was selected as a NASA astronaut in 2009 after seven years of working for the CIA. [NASA] did not give an explanation for the crew change. But Epps's brother blamed racism at the space agency. ‘My sister … has been fighting against oppressive racism and misogynist in NASA and now they are holding her back and allowing a Caucasian Astronaut to take her place!’ Henry Epps wrote in a Facebook post[.] Epps said that she did not have a medical condition or family problem that would have prevented her from participating in the mission and that her overseas training in Russia and Kazakhstan had been successful.”
HOT ON THE RIGHT:
“Kid Rock sends $122K from fake campaign to voter group,” from The Detroit News: “Kid Rock last month donated $122,000 of the money raised by selling merchandise promoting ‘Kid Rock for US Senate’ — his fake political campaign — to a voter-registration organization affiliated with the College Republicans, his publicist said. Kid Rock … for more than three months last year teased a Republican run for Senate against incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Lansing but later revealed it was a publicity stunt amid the launch of his latest album and tour. Instead, the money raised went to CRNC Action, an affiliate of the College Republicans that did voter-registration work last summer at his concerts, said Kid Rock publicist Jay Jones. Ted Dooley, the president of CRNC Action, confirmed that a donation of about $122,000 was made in early December.”
Trump will sign "Section 201 actions" this afternoon.
Pence will return to Washington from Israel later tonight.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) summarized Congress’s handling of the shutdown: “I think most Americans are wondering how some folks up here made it through the birth canal." (Ben Terris)
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- Washingtonians will see more warm weather and possible thunderstorms today. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Scattered showers and thunderstorms this morning continue to just about midday. Some of these storms could contain heavy downpours and gusty winds that impair commuting visibility. … Highs reach the mid- to upper-60s during the midday hours before temperatures slide into the 50s later in the afternoon as skies turn partly sunny.”
-- The Wizards lost to the Mavericks 98-75. (Candace Buckner)
-- Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, Virginia’s only black statewide officeholder currently, protested a state Senate tribute to Stonewall Jackson. Laura Vozzella reports: “After Sen. Emmett W. Hanger Jr. (R-Augusta) called on the Senate to adjourn for the day in honor of Jackson, whose birthday was Sunday, Fairfax (D) moved from his spot as presiding officer to a bench normally occupied by Senate pages . . . Fairfax described his protest as a ‘personal decision’ based, in part, on his family history. Tucked in his jacket pocket when he was sworn in as lieutenant governor on Jan. 13 was the manumission document that freed his enslaved ancestors in 1798.”
-- Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) is offering $5 billion in incentives to lure Amazon’s second headquarters to Montgomery County. Robert McCartney and Ovetta Wiggins report: “[Hogan] will offer more than $3 billion in tax breaks and grants and about $2 billion in transportation upgrades[.] … It appears to be the second-most generous set of inducements among the 20 locations on Amazon’s shortlist. … Maryland’s package, which Hogan will make public Monday morning, will require legislative approval and would dwarf any previous economic development offering in the state’s history.”
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Seth Meyers had some mixed feelings about the end of the shutdown:
Team USA unveiled its uniforms for the 2018 Winter Olympics:
Rex Tillerson visited the new U.S. embassy in London after Trump canceled his own appearance:
A teenager testified that Michigan State was still billing her mother for appointments she had with sports doctor and accused pedophile Larry Nassar:
And a woman in California battling cancer lived out her dream of being “showered” with puppies: