THE BIG IDEA: Eight of the 10 federal election cycles from 2000 through 2018 resulted in a change of which party controlled the House, Senate or White House. The last four midterms were all “change” elections.
Historically speaking, this is a remarkable level of political volatility. Only three of the 10 cycles from 1960 to 1978 brought such change. It was four of 10 from 1980 to 1998.
Most Americans think the country is on the wrong track. The numbers on the right and the left who believe the system is not working for them continue to rise. Social trust, trust in government and confidence in almost every institution continue seemingly inexorable long-term declines.
Combined with rising income inequality and an era of disruptive technological advancements, this all adds up to a recipe for more tumult going forward.
Republican strategist Bruce Mehlman believes the defining clash of our time is between people who believe change is coming too slowly and those who believe change is happening too quickly.
The Too Fast coalition is full of folks who feel like strangers in their own land. People tend to blame globalization, immigration and political correctness for their problems. They turn to nativism, protectionism and isolation.
The Too Slow coalition is angry about the failure to address accelerating climate change, income inequality and mass shootings. Many in this category have lost faith in capitalism and see socialism as appealing. While the Too Fast crowd feels like the #MeToo movement has gone too far, the Too Slow proponents believe it’s only scratched the surface. They see persistent civil rights failures and the enduring gender pay gap.
Both cohorts are skeptical of the establishment, elites and moderates. The Too Slow champions have come from the left, whether Bernie Sanders in the United States or Andrés Manuel López Obrador in Mexico. The Too Fast champions have mostly been nationalists from the right, whether President Trump or Boris Johnson in the Britain or Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil.
“Trump is a symptom, not a cause, of dissatisfaction with the way the world is,” Mehlman said in an interview Sunday. “No matter whether it’s Barack Obama on the left or Trump on the right, they’re not bringing the change people think they want fast enough. Neither side feels like the political system, which is designed to force compromises, satisfies their base’s desires for total victory.”
Mehlman, a partner at one of Washington’s major lobbying firms, produces quarterly reports about the political climate. In a new 35-slide PowerPoint deck, he argues that the world has become more “permissionless” because of the diminished power of traditional gatekeepers, the information technology revolution and the broad dissatisfaction with the pace of change.
“The tools of the permissionless society are the weapons of choice for both the Too Fast and the Too Slow coalitions,” Mehlman said. “The permissionless world has allowed lots of new solutions that people love. Think about something like Lyft and the good side of social media. So, on one hand, permissionless paths give people a chance to solve problems that weren’t being solved. At the same time, it can also reflect a world where fewer people win, where more people feel excluded and where more people become aware that they’re being excluded.”
-- Indeed, far fewer things unite Americans today than did several decades ago. Scott Clement, the director of The Post’s polling unit, explained in an email last night that this may both be a cause and an effect of rising partisan antipathy. There are sharper differences between parties and their voters on policy issues, which means there is greater potential for policy to swing when partisan control of government changes. This can lead to overreach as parties pass whatever policies they can while in power, after which voters punish them by swinging the next election against them.
On social trust, the General Social Survey has asked the same basic question since 1972: “Generally speaking, would you say that most people can be trusted or that you can't be too careful in dealing with people?” In the 1970s, around half of Americans said most people could not be trusted, but that’s risen steadily to about two-thirds. In 1972, when Richard Nixon won his second term in a landslide, 46 percent said most people can be trusted generally. By 2016, when Trump became the first president in U.S. history to win with no prior governing or military experience, that number had tanked to 31 percent.
The pollsters who conduct the NBC-Wall Street Journal poll pose an interesting question every December: “Compared with other years, do you think that this was one of the best years for the United States, above average, about average, below average or one of the worst years?” Last month, 30 percent of Americans said 2018 was one of the best years for the country, or above average, while 45 percent said it was one of the worst years, or below average. The rest said it was average. Between 52 percent to 55 percent said it was one of the worst years in each of the past four years.
The same NBC-WSJ survey found that only 33 percent think the country is moving the right direction. Interestingly, it was 32 percent at this point in the presidencies of both Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. But only 4 percent said 2010 was one of the best years for the United States, and 21 percent thought so in 1994.
-- This year has already brought new demands to both accelerate and slow down change. The Democratic presidential nominating contest, which is heating up quickly, could be viewed as a contest to lead the Too Slow movement. The partial government shutdown stemmed in many ways from the frustrations of the Too Fast side about Trump’s inability to follow through on a signature campaign promise.
This is a global clash. In 2019, there will be elections in countries that account for 36 percent of the planet’s population, from India and the European Union to Indonesia, Nigeria, the Philippines, South Africa, Argentina, Ukraine, Canada, Afghanistan and Australia.
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- Government offices and local schools announced closures in D.C. as the nation’s capital was pummeled by snow. Faiz Siddiqui and Rachel Chason report: “Late Sunday, the Office of Personnel Management said in a tweet that federal offices in Washington not affected by the shutdown would be closed Monday. The D.C. government also said it would be closed. … Authorities across the region advised people to stay off the roads and exercise extreme caution if they needed to travel. Metro suspended bus operations Sunday night, ‘until further notice,’ citing icy and hazardous roads, as temperatures fell. The transit agency said rail service was operating normally. Most of the major school systems in the region … had announced by early evening that they would be closed Monday because of the weather. … According to The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang, it was the most snow Washington had received since the January 2016 blizzard … ” (Here is a full list of school closings.)
-- The winter storm battering Washington killed at least nine people when it swept through the Midwest. Kristine Phillips reports: “Missouri took the brunt of the damage, logging more than 800 snow-related crashes that injured 57 and killed four, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Among those killed were a 53-year-old woman and a 14-year-old relative. Authorities say the woman lost control while driving on a snow-covered road in rural Missouri on Friday and drifted into the path of an oncoming vehicle. In a suburb of Chicago, Illinois State Police Trooper Christopher Lambert was standing outside his patrol car Saturday at the scene of a three-car crash when a driver struck him, authorities say. Lambert, a five-year veteran of the state police who previously served in the Army, died at a hospital.”
-- It should be sunnier in Washington today, and no more snow is expected until the weekend. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Clouds should decrease some as the day wears on; we’ll call it partly sunny. The fresh snow cover and light winds (5 to 10 mph) from the north keep it chilly, with highs in the mid-30s.”
-- A federal judge in California granted a preliminary injunction to block Trump administration rules that would allow more employers to deny women access to no-cost birth control from taking effect today in 13 states and the District. From the AP’s Sudhin Thanawala: “The plaintiffs sought to prevent the rules from taking effect as scheduled on Monday while a lawsuit against them moved forward. But [Judge Haywood Gilliam] limited the scope of the ruling to the plaintiffs, rejecting their request that he block the rules nationwide. The changes would allow more employers, including publicly traded companies, to opt out of providing no-cost contraceptive coverage to women by claiming religious objections. … At a hearing on Friday, Gilliam said the changes would result in a ‘substantial number’ of women losing birth control coverage, which would be a ‘massive policy shift.’ The judge previously blocked an interim version of the rules — a decision that was upheld in December by an appeals court.”
GET SMART FAST:
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) vowed that unspecified “action” will be taken against Rep. Steve King after the Iowa Republican wondered aloud how the term "white supremacist" had “become offensive.” McCarthy told CBS he plans to meet with King today to have "a serious conversation ... on his future and role in this Republican Party." The Congressional Black Caucus called for McCarthy to strip King of his committee assignments. (Bloomberg News)
The hedge-fund-backed Digital First Media is expected to make an offer for Gannett, the publisher of USA Today. Digital First is known for buying up struggling local papers and slashing costs — which could affect Gannett’s dozens of other publications, such as the Arizona Republic and the Record in New Jersey. (Wall Street Journal)
The Saints and the Patriots advanced to their respective title games after defeating the Eagles and the Chargers. The Saints will play the Rams for the NFC championship in New Orleans, while the Patriots will face the chiefs for the AFC championship in Kansas City. (Mark Maske and Sally Jenkins)
Teachers in Los Angeles are set to strike today. The action, aimed at opposing years of cost cuts, is expected to include 30,000 unionized teachers and will affect more than 600,000 schoolchildren in the nation’s second-largest school district. (Moriah Balingit)
A Polish mayor was stabbed while speaking onstage at a fundraising event. The assailant claimed he had been wrongly imprisoned under a previous government. The mayor, Pawel Adamowicz of Gdansk, remains in very serious condition. (AP)
Rescuers in Indonesia recovered the cockpit voice recorder from the Lion Air plane that crashed. The recorder’s data is likely to help investigators piece together a final picture of what caused the plane to crash. (Stanley Widianto and Shibani Mahtani)
More than 1,000 mourners gathered to remember police officer Natalie Corona, who was killed by a gunman last week. Corona was new to the department and responding to a routine traffic accident when a shooter appeared and aimed his gun at her. (Michael Brice-Saddler)
A photo of an egg became the most-liked Instagram post ever. The photo, posted by the account @ world_record_egg, has received more than 25 million likes — beating Kylie Jenner’s birth announcement to become the platform’s most-liked post. (New York Times)
-- “In a sign that Republicans are increasingly concerned that the standoff over President Trump’s long-promised border wall is hurting their party politically, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) suggested temporarily reopening the government while continuing negotiations,” Felicia Sonmez and Cat Zakrzewski report. “If talks don’t bear fruit, Graham said Sunday, the president could consider following through on his threat to bypass Congress and build the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border by declaring a national emergency. … The maneuvering by a key Trump ally highlights the difficult balancing act Senate Republicans will probably face over the next two years, trapped between a mercurial GOP president and an emboldened new House Democratic majority.
“Tensions have flared inside the West Wing as negotiations have stalled. On Friday, Trump complained and used expletives about Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney in front of congressional leaders, after Mulvaney urged compromise on the administration’s demand for $5.7 billion in wall funding, said two Trump advisers familiar with the exchange who were not authorized to speak publicly. Trump was dismayed by Mulvaney’s willingness to compromise and sharply criticized him for taking a different approach than the president at the time, one of the advisers said, calling it a scene 'right out of ‘The Godfather.’ …
“Trump and the Democrats remained far apart Sunday. Tweeting from the White House as the capital was blanketed by snow for the first time this year, the president continued to point a finger at Democrats, who he said were ‘everywhere but Washington as people await their pay.’ At the same time, Democrats ramped up calls for [Mitch McConnell] to take up House-passed legislation to fund the government, regardless of whether the president agrees.”
-- Many freshman Democrats who ran on helping to end dysfunction in Washington are pushing for a compromise on border security to end the shutdown. The Wall Street Journal’s Natalie Andrews and Kristina Peterson report: “Many new Democratic lawmakers who beat Republicans in the 2018 midterm want their leadership to be more aggressive in at least trying to strike a compromise. Many of them will be among the most vulnerable in the 2020 elections, as Republicans fight to win their majority back. Their new offices, some still crowded with boxes and not yet fully staffed, have been flooded with phone calls from angry federal employees and others affected by the shutdown, asking when it will end. While few support the border wall, some are concerned the tone of the negotiations hasn’t conveyed their willingness to reach an agreement to tighten border security.”
-- A Washington Post-ABC News poll published Sunday shows that more Americans blame Trump than Democrats, by a wide margin, for the shutdown. Key nuggets from the polling: Trump has moved the GOP rank and file. Support for building a wall is now at 42 percent — up from 34 percent last January. That’s driven by Republicans. Last year, 71 percent of Republicans favored the wall. Now it’s 87 percent. Indeed, 70 percent of Republicans say they “strongly” support the wall, an increase of 12 points. And the GOP base doesn’t want the president to cave: Only 22 percent of Republicans say Trump should compromise to end the shutdown, compared with 58 percent who both support the wall and say Trump should continue to demand funding. Two-thirds of Republicans also say they would support Trump claiming emergency powers to build a wall. (Scott Clement and Dan Balz have more.)
-- CNN’s poll, also published Sunday, has a red flag for the White House: Trump’s support has taken a hit among non-college-educated whites. The president's overall approval rating in the poll is 37 percent, with 57 percent disapproving. “The increase in disapproval for the President comes primarily among whites without college degrees, 45% of whom approve and 47% disapprove, marking the first time his approval rating with this group has been underwater in CNN polling since February 2018,” Jennifer Agiesta notes. “In December, his approval rating with whites who have not received a four-year degree stood at 54%, with 39% disapproving. Among whites who do hold college degrees, Trump's ratings are largely unchanged in the last month and remain sharply negative — 64% disapprove and 32% approve.”
-- Airports are increasingly feeling the strain of the shutdown as more TSA employees, who are working without pay, call in sick. From Sonmez and Zakrzewski: “On Sunday, the TSA closed its checkpoint in Terminal B of Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston because of staffing issues associated with the shutdown, the Associated Press reported. Meanwhile, Miami International Airport officials said they will reopen a terminal Monday that was closed for parts of the weekend because of a staffing shortage caused by the shutdown, the AP reported.”
-- Canadian air traffic controllers bought hundreds of pizzas for their American counterparts as a show of support. The AP reports: “Peter Duffey, the head of the Canadian Air Traffic Control Association, said Sunday the initiative began Thursday when employees at Edmonton’s control center took up a collection to buy pies for controllers in Anchorage, Alaska. Other facilities across Canada decided to join in, and the idea snowballed. … Duffey estimates that as of Sunday afternoon, some 300 pizzas had been received by American controllers, many of whom took to social media to express their gratitude.”
-- One government employee with Type 1 diabetes described having to ration her insulin as she struggles to pay her bills. NBC News’s Phil McCausland and Suzanne Ciechalski report: Mallory Lorge, “who lives in the small town of River Falls, Wisconsin, said she has two vials of insulin left in her fridge, but she is rationing them because she can no longer afford the $300 copay. Her blood sugar rose to a high level last week, but she said she felt forced to ignore it. Instead, she went to bed. ‘When it gets that high you can go into diabetic ketoacidosis, you can go into a coma,’ she said. ‘I can’t afford to go to the ER. I can’t afford anything. I just went to bed and hoped I’d wake up.’”
-- The shutdown appears to be diminishing economic growth, which could soon have a ripple effect on American households. The Wall Street Journal’s Josh Mitchell and Sharon Nunn report: “While the economic gashes aren’t enough to derail the recovery, now in its 10th year, they appear to be at least temporarily diminishing the vigor of an expansion that was already projected to slow in 2019. Output is now expected to grow at a 2.2% pace in the first quarter, less than an estimated 3.1% growth recorded in 2018, economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal projected earlier this month. Those first-quarter estimates — down slightly from prior ones before the shutdown — will likely slip further as the shutdown continues.”
THERE’S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:
-- Trump and his allies tried to beat back a pair of bombshell reports that raised more questions about the president’s relationship with Russia. The New York Times reported Friday night that, after the firing of Jim Comey, the FBI opened an inquiry into whether Trump was working on behalf of Russia. A day later, The Post revealed that Trump has made extensive efforts to conceal the details of his private conversations with Vladimir Putin — even taking an interpreter’s notes. Greg Jaffe reports: “The president shot back in an interview with Fox News. … ‘I think it’s the most insulting thing I’ve ever been asked. I think it’s the most insulting article I’ve ever had written,’ Trump told Fox News’s Jeanine Pirro … Secretary of State Mike Pompeo amplified that message Sunday, telling CBS’s ‘Face the Nation’ that the notion that the president is a threat to national security is ‘absolutely ludicrous.’ …
“Democrats countered that it was critical for [Bob] Mueller to be allowed to complete his probe into whether Trump or his campaign worked on behalf of Russian interests. ‘That’s the defining question of our investigation and the Mueller investigation,’ said Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. ‘Was there collusion?’”
-- “Mr. Trump faces the prospect of an all-out political war for survival that may make the still-unresolved partial government shutdown pale by comparison,” the New York Times’s Peter Baker writes of the latest Russia reports. “What all this adds up to remains unclear. Whether it will lead to a full-blown impeachment inquiry in the House has yet to be decided. But it underscores the chance that with candidates already lining up to take him on in 2020, Washington will spend the months to come debating the future of Mr. Trump’s presidency and the direction of the country.”
-- Trump’s attorney general nominee, William Barr, will appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee tomorrow and Wednesday for his confirmation hearing. Devlin Barrett, Matt Zapotosky, Karoun Demirjian and Tom Hamburger report: “As the Trump administration enters its third year, Barr is poised to inherit a political powder keg in the Mueller probe … So far there are no discernible cracks among the GOP that would suggest Barr’s nomination is in any jeopardy. Three Democrats on the [Senate Judiciary Committee] are viewed as potential 2020 presidential candidates, and the hearing could offer an early glimpse into those lawmakers’ lines of attack against the Trump administration. … At the hearing, Barr intends to publicly repeat his pledge not to interfere with or shut down Mueller’s work, but is determined not to make broader or more specific promises about how he will approach the Russia investigation or any ethics review of his involvement in it, according to people preparing him for the hearing. …
“Some Democrats have argued for Barr’s recusal from the Mueller probe because of his past public statements critical of some aspects of the investigation, and a private memo he sent to Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein last June in which he called Mueller’s investigation into whether the president may have obstructed justice ‘fatally misconceived.’"
-- A U.S. intelligence report indicates the Kremlin knew about and approved of Russian attempts to infiltrate the NRA. The Daily Beast’s Betsy Woodruff reports: “Alexander Torshin, the Russian central bank official who spent years aggressively courting NRA leaders, briefed the Kremlin on his efforts and recommended they participate, according to the report. … While there has been speculation that Torshin and his protege, Maria Butina, had the Kremlin’s blessing to woo the NRA—and federal prosecutors have vaguely asserted that she acted ‘on behalf of the Russian federation’—no one in the White House or the U.S. intelligence community has publicly stated as much. Senior Russian government officials, for their part, have strenuously distanced themselves from Butina’s courtship of the NRA, which she did at Torshin’s direction. The report, on the other hand, notes that the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs was fine with Torshin’s courtship of the NRA because the relationships would be valuable if a Republican won the White House in 2016.”
-- Recent developments in Paul Manafort’s case show how extensively Mueller has tracked Trump associates’ interactions with Russian contacts. “The new examples of Manafort’s communications serve as a reminder that much about Mueller’s findings remains unknown in what are widely believed to be the closing weeks of his probe,” Rosalind S. Helderman and Tom Hamburger report in today's paper. “The new information about Manafort indicates Mueller has been exploring what he may have communicated to Russians while working for Trump. And it serves as a stark reminder that as Trump was offering Russia-friendly rhetoric on the campaign trail, his White House bid was led for a time by a man with long-standing ties to powerful Russian figures.”
A new filing is expected today in Manafort’s case: “A judge has ordered Mueller’s team to file on Monday a new document explaining the ‘factual and evidentiary basis’ to believe that Manafort lied in his interviews. The document will probably lay out in more detail what evidence Mueller has gathered about Manafort’s communications with [Konstantin] Kilimnik. However, that information may be redacted from public view.”
-- Chuck Schumer said he would force a vote on the Trump administration’s decision to lift sanctions on companies connected to a Russian oligarch. “I have concluded that the Treasury Department’s proposal is flawed and fails to sufficiently limit Oleg Deripaska’s control and influence of these companies and the Senate should move to block this misguided effort by the Trump Administration and keep these sanctions in place,” Schumer said in a press release. (Reuters)
THE NEW WORLD ORDER:
-- Trump’s National Security Council asked last year for options on striking Iran. The Wall Street Journal’s Dion Nissenbaum reports: “The request … came after militants fired three mortars into Baghdad’s sprawling diplomatic quarter, home to the U.S. Embassy, on a warm night in early September. The shells—launched by a group aligned with Iran—landed in an open lot and harmed no one. But they triggered unusual alarm in Washington, where Mr. Trump’s national security team led by John Bolton conducted a series of meetings to discuss a forceful U.S. response, including what many saw as the unusual request for options to strike Iran. ‘It definitely rattled people,’ a former senior U.S. administration official said of the request. ‘People were shocked. It was mind-boggling how cavalier they were about hitting Iran.’ The Pentagon complied with the NSC’s request to develop options for striking Iran, the officials said. But it isn’t clear if the proposals were provided to the White House, whether Mr. Trump knew of the request or whether serious plans for a U.S. strike against Iran took shape at that time.”
-- The episode demonstrated how Bolton has increased Pentagon officials’ fears of the Trump administration sparking a conflict with Iran. The New York Times’s Eric Schmitt and Mark Landler report: “Since Mr. Bolton took over from H.R. McMaster in April, he has intensified the administration’s policy of isolating and pressuring Iran — reflecting an animus against Iran’s leaders that dates back to his days as an official in the George W. Bush administration. As a private citizen, he later called for military strikes on Iran, as well as regime change.”
-- Last week’s announcement that U.S. troops had begun withdrawing from Syria marked a failure by administration officials and global allies to persuade Trump to reconsider or at least put conditions on the withdrawal. Anne Gearan, Josh Dawsey and John Hudson report: “Since Trump’s abrupt Syria announcement last month, a tug of war with allies and his advisers has roiled the national security apparatus over how, and whether, to execute a pullout. [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu spoke to Trump two days before the president’s announcement and again a day afterward. French President Emmanuel Macron tried to get the president to change his mind. Even Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who liked the policy, was concerned it could not be safely executed so quickly. The episode illustrates the far-reaching consequences of Trump’s proclivity to make rash decisions with uneven follow-through, according to accounts of the discussions from more than a dozen current and former U.S. officials and international diplomats. …
“The president’s erratic behavior on Syria cost him the most respected member of his Cabinet, former defense secretary Jim Mattis; rattled allies and partners unsure about U.S. commitment to the region; and increased the possibility of a military confrontation between Turkey and Kurdish forces in Syria. ‘Starting the long overdue pullout from Syria while hitting the little remaining ISIS territorial caliphate hard, and from many directions,’ Trump tweeted Sunday in another confusing message. ‘Will devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds,’ Trump wrote.”
-- As Trump weighs a second summit with Kim Jong Un, evidence suggests North Korea has not slowed its nuclear activity since their first meeting in Singapore. Bloomberg News’s Jon Herskovitz and Youkyung Lee report: “Satellite-imagery analysis and leaked American intelligence suggest North Korea has churned out rockets and warheads as quickly as ever in the year since Kim halted weapons tests, a move that led to his June summit with [Trump]. The regime probably added several intercontinental ballistic missiles, nuclear proliferation analysts say, with one arms control group estimating that Kim gained enough fissile material for about six more nuclear bombs, bringing North Korea’s total to more than 20.”
-- U.S. authorities claim a pair of men living in Orange County, Calif., were acting as agents of Iran. The LA Times’s Melissa Etehad reports: “The men’s goal, authorities say, was to conduct surveillance on Israeli and Jewish facilities in the U.S., and to collect information on members of the Mujahedin Khalq, MEK, an Iranian exile group that has long sought to topple the regime in Tehran and enjoys newfound support among members of the Trump administration. Within the span of a year — from the summer of 2017 to the spring of 2018 — authorities say the men crisscrossed Orange County and the United States, videotaping participants at MEK rallies in New York and Washington, D.C., and photographing Jewish centers in Chicago.”
-- Ardent Brexiteers in Britain are pushing their country to leave the European Union without a deal. William Booth and Karla Adam report: “Parliament is scheduled for a historic vote Tuesday evening on Prime Minister Theresa May’s unloved, half-in, half-out compromise exit plan. … Without May’s two, maybe three years of negotiated transition, Britain would immediately be treated by the E.U. as a ‘third country,’ subject to potentially onerous immigration controls, trade tariffs and border inspections. … In the placid farming and market town of Boston, which holds the prize as the most Brexit-loving city in Britain, the campaigners to leave say they are ready to roll the dice with no deal.”
-- “China has detained an old man and tormented his daughter. Trump thinks this is ‘honorable’?” by editorial page editor Fred Hiatt: “Not long before [Trump] expounded on how “honorable” he finds China’s Communist regime, my friend Ti-Anna Wang found herself and her 11-month-old baby in custody in the Hangzhou airport. How she came to that predicament, after flying halfway around the world, offers a useful lesson on the regime’s honor or lack thereof — and on the vindictive, bullying lengths it will go to keep one young woman from visiting her ailing father. Ti-Anna, 29, barely knows her father, because in 2002 he was abducted by Chinese security agents while on a visit to Vietnam, bundled across the border, thrown into jail and, eventually, sentenced to life in prison after a one-day closed trial. His ostensible crimes were espionage and terrorism. His true offense was advocating democracy in China from his exile in North America.”
-- Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), who announced her presidential bid Friday, once worked for an organization run by her father that supported gay conversion therapy. CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski reports: “In a statement to CNN provided after the initial publication of this story, Gabbard said, ‘First, let me say I regret the positions I took in the past, and the things I said. I'm grateful for those in the LGBTQ community who have shared their aloha with me throughout my personal journey.’ … Gabbard's past positions can be traced back to the early 2000s, when she first sought public office. During her run for state legislature in 2002, Gabbard told the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, ‘Working with my father, Mike Gabbard, and others to pass a constitutional amendment to protect traditional marriage, I learned that real leaders are willing to make personal sacrifices for the common good. I will bring that attitude of public service to the legislature.’”
-- A day after announcing his own presidential candidacy, Julián Castro lambasted how Trump has handled the situation at the border. Bloomberg News’s Emma Kinery and Laura Litvan report: “‘What I believe is that he’s created a tragedy at the border,’ Castro said on CBS’s ‘Face the Nation’ on Sunday. ‘This policy of separating children from their parents and the terrible way that Customs and Border Protection has managed its responsibilities — including the deaths of two children within the last few weeks — that’s a real tragedy.’ Castro said a comprehensive approach to immigration policy is needed. He also said that he disagrees with the administration’s goal of detaining families together as they seek asylum or refugee status, saying that other approaches such as using ankle monitors are more humane and can be effective to track people who enter the U.S. and are awaiting court proceedings.”
-- Trump dismissed Joe Biden as a “weak” candidate as the former vice president considers a 2020 bid. From Kristine Phillips: “He mocked Biden’s two unsuccessful attempts for the White House and said former president Barack Obama ‘took him off the trash heap’ when he tapped Biden to be his vice president. ‘He’s weak. So we’ll see what happens with him. . . . Whoever it is, I think we’re going to do just fine,’ Trump told Fox News’s Jeanine Pirro.”
-- Thousands of Sen. Bernie Sanders’s 2016 supporters are trying to persuade the Vermont independent to run again. From David Weigel: “It's not inevitable — Sanders seems genuinely conflicted about running again — but [there were] at least 400 house parties Saturday, from Alaska to Austria, designed to nudge him in. For 30 minutes, activists at each party watched a live stream of prominent Sanders supporters explaining to them that the only questions for a Sanders victory were whether he ran and whether his movement was ready. … No one considering a Democratic primary campaign has the built-in support of Sanders, whose 2016 bid left him with around 14 million votes, 46 percent of nearly 4,000 pledged delegates, and the largest donor email list in politics.”
-- Sanders has started lining up a digital team in case he decides to run. Politico’s Holly Otterbein reports: “Means of Production, the filmmaking cooperative that created the viral campaign video that propelled [Alexandria] Ocasio-Cortez’s House campaign, is in talks with the Sanders team about a major role in 2020. And two people who powered Sanders’ record-breaking small-dollar fundraising operation in 2016 have agreed to join a subsequent presidential bid if it materializes, according to a Sanders campaign aide: Tim Tagaris and Robin Curran, his digital fundraising director and digital production director in 2016, respectively.”
-- New York Mayor Bill de Blasio declined to rule out entering the 2020 field during a CNN interview. “I never rule things out because you never know what life brings, but I'm focused on the work I'm doing now and getting this message out,” de Blasio said when asked about the possibility. (CNN)
-- Florida Democrats fear the swing state is moving outside their grasp, which could have major implications for 2020. The New York Times’s Patricia Mazzei and Jonathan Martin report: “With the swearing-in last Tuesday of two newly elected Republican leaders, Gov. Ron DeSantis and Senator Rick Scott, Florida has become a more reliably red political bastion, making the path to Electoral College victory that much tougher for the 2020 Democratic nominee. For Republicans, Florida stands out as the best political news from an otherwise grim year, a show of strength in a state that has voted for every presidential winner since 1992 and seems to be growing more favorable to their party at a moment when demographic changes are lifting Democrats elsewhere. … As for Democrats, they remain just as shellshocked as they were after Election Day.”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Inside because of the snow, Trump was on a Twitter spree yesterday. He tweeted about everything from shutdown negotiations to Elizabeth Warren's social media presence. He mocked the Massachusetts Democrat's Instagram video, once again referring to her as "Pocahontas":
If Elizabeth Warren, often referred to by me as Pocahontas, did this commercial from Bighorn or Wounded Knee instead of her kitchen, with her husband dressed in full Indian garb, it would have been a smash! pic.twitter.com/D5KWr8EPan— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 14, 2019
Best line in the Elizabeth Warren beer catastrophe is, to her husband, “Thank you for being here. I’m glad you’re here” It’s their house, he’s supposed to be there!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 14, 2019
Trump also went after Amazon founder Jeffrey P. Bezos, who owns The Post:
So sorry to hear the news about Jeff Bozo being taken down by a competitor whose reporting, I understand, is far more accurate than the reporting in his lobbyist newspaper, the Amazon Washington Post. Hopefully the paper will soon be placed in better & more responsible hands!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 14, 2019
A New York Times reporter highlighted this about Trump's tweet:
The competitor he's referring to is the National Enquirer, which was known for "catch and kill" operations in support of Trump and which was implicated in the Cohen case in SDNY. https://t.co/Uc5FyvORin— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) January 14, 2019
Columnist Connie Schultz, who is married to Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), questioned the value of covering Trump's tweets:
In 2018, I sat in on several focus groups with Ohio Trump voters. Total number who said they were on Twitter: Zero. I think of this every time I see another round of Trump tantrum tweets. If we didn't cover them, how much of his base would see them? I think about that, too.— Connie Schultz (@ConnieSchultz) January 14, 2019
An NBC News reporter corrected Trump's account of shutdown talks:
In fact, this very idea was floated last week but withered once VP Pence told senators that Trump was against including it in talks https://t.co/UrBaViCY1J— Josh Lederman (@JoshNBCNews) January 13, 2019
Politico's Capitol bureau chief added this:
I was at that press conference. Pence said DACA wouldn’t be included in border wall talks. This is yet another example of Trump undercutting his own administration officials https://t.co/A2vk2VKewp— John Bresnahan (@BresPolitico) January 13, 2019
A Daily Beast summarized Trump's shifting stance on DACA:
Trump:— Sam Stein (@samstein) January 13, 2019
Pulled out of DACA deal;
Demanded the Courts decide on DACA before doing anything on it;
Had his VP say that DACA wouldn’t be part of shutdown talks;
Blamed Democrats for not including DACA in shutdown talks
George Conway, who is married to White House adviser Kellyanne Conway, slammed Trump's handling of the shutdown:
If the CEO of a public company behaved so irrationally and erratically, he’d be cashiered outright or, at the very least, placed on leave for a psychiatric assessment. https://t.co/82kWmQ1ggW— George Conway (@gtconway3d) January 13, 2019
A Senate Republican shared this photo as the shutdown dragged on:
America’s coastal defense pic.twitter.com/xZ1AGM4mQQ— Senator John Cornyn (@JohnCornyn) January 13, 2019
The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee called on Republicans to join their Democratic colleagues in demanding notes from Trump's meeting with Putin:
Last year, we sought to obtain the interpreter’s notes or testimony, from the private meeting between Trump and Putin. The Republicans on our committee voted us down. Will they join us now? Shouldn’t we find out whether our president is really putting “America first?” https://t.co/hzgfTRl653— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) January 13, 2019
One of Schiff's Democratic colleagues added this:
No surprise the FBI questioned Trump's allegiance to US! He meets w/ Putin 5 times in secret w/ no readout; gave Russians classified info in WH; disregarded US intel on Russia; praised Putin's election; lies abt his deals in Russia. Is there any question Trump is a Russian agent?— Maxine Waters (@RepMaxineWaters) January 14, 2019
Trump appreciated the beauty of the White House in the snow:
Wish I could share with everyone the beauty and majesty of being in the White House and looking outside at the snow filled lawns and Rose Garden. Really is something - SPECIAL COUNTRY, SPECIAL PLACE!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 13, 2019
But an NBC News reporter noted this:
If not for the shutdown, the president would likely be in Florida on a weekend like this and would therefore miss the snow he describes below. https://t.co/OunBYDo9Lu— Kelly O'Donnell (@KellyO) January 13, 2019
The first lady tweeted a picture of Washington's snowfall:
A CNN reporter took this photo of the Washington Monument:
But a House Democrat wished for a return to California:
Okay, I’m fully California Dreamin’... 🥶@realDonaldTrump keeps saying that no Democrats are in town or willing to negotiate, but here I am. So, open the government — then we’ll talk.— Rep. Katie Hill (@RepKatieHill) January 13, 2019
Thank you to @CNN and @MSNBC for having me, today! pic.twitter.com/qGaXJpUMuo
C-SPAN's communications director used the snow as an opportunity to remember former lawmakers:
A Democratic presidential candidate emphasized the need to focus on climate change:
Nice little planet we got here. Worth making it a priority. pic.twitter.com/ExE0uJcaIT— Jay Inslee (@JayInslee) January 13, 2019
A Wall Street Journal reporter worried over the possible purchase of Gannett:
After watching what Gannett has done to my hometown paper--cutting most of the staff, outsourcing printing so far away local sports scores can't appear the next day--I'm fascinated to learn what fat Digital First thinks is left. https://t.co/AYvE6uWGi2— Keach Hagey (@keachhagey) January 14, 2019
And D.C.'s fire department marked a somber anniversary:
Jan.13, 1982, saw #DCsBravest face 1 of the busiest days in our history, beginning with a 4 Alarm fire on Upshur St. NW. As a snowstorm hit DC, An Air Florida jet crashed into the 14th St Bridge, followed by a fatal Metro derailment. Our members shown here searching for victims. pic.twitter.com/GA49FDaRP8— DC Fire and EMS (@dcfireems) January 13, 2019
-- “These Ukrainians have a pension awaiting. But they literally must cross a minefield to get it,” by David L. Stern: “Antonina and Leonid know where to find their state pension money: an office just about a mile down the road. The problem is it is on the other side of the front lines of eastern Ukraine’s nearly five-year-old war. The couple’s home falls within the breakaway territories controlled by rebels loyal to Moscow. The Ukrainian bureaucrats handling pensions and other affairs are across the line in areas run by Kiev’s pro-Western government. So Antonina and Leonid join thousands of elderly Ukranian citizens in the separatist regions to negotiate the no man’s land of checkpoints and adjacent minefields to pocket their pensions, which average around $90 a month.”
-- “Harry Reid unplugged,” by the Nevada Independent's Jon Ralston: “‘No one in their right mind would have done what I did….’ the 79-year-old told me. ‘No one would have done that….but it paid off.’ Reid, looking a bit gaunt after treatments for pancreatic cancer, used the words ‘no one’ in this context several times during the nearly 90-minute interview as he sat behind a small desk near the foyer of his home next to a bookcase that proudly displays his ‘Office of the Majority Leader’ sign. … I have known Reid for 32-plus years. … But I have never sat down with him for as long as I did on Friday, and he told me things I had never heard before.”
-- “‘The Taliban Made Me Fight’: What to Do With Child Recruits After They Serve Time?” by the New York Times's Rod Nordland: “The boys in what Badam Bagh officials call the suicide bombers wing ranged in age from 12 to 17. Their cases were in various stages; some had been convicted and were serving their sentences, while others were awaiting trial. They shared one complaint: As far as they were concerned, there were no attempted suicide bombers in the suicide bombers wing, which is on the third floor of the prison. Muslim, who is from Kunar Province in eastern Afghanistan, said he was only a Taliban conscript. ‘I am not a suicider,’ he said. ‘The Taliban made me fight for them.’”
HOT ON THE LEFT:
“Jeanine Pirro Retracts False Claim On Nancy Pelosi Spread In Trump Interview,” from HuffPost: “After spreading a false claim in her interview with [Trump], Jeanine Pirro is walking back the statement on Twitter, citing ‘numerous reports’ for her error. … Speaking with Trump about his fight for border wall money, the cause of the partial federal government shutdown, Pirro painted Pelosi as a lax congresswoman blowing off work in Washington at a tumultuous time. ‘Nancy Pelosi’s in Hawaii over the holidays,’ Pirro said. ‘Now she’s in Puerto Rico with a bunch of Democrats and lobbyists enjoying the sun and partying down there.’ It is unclear which reports Pirro was citing in her correction tweet, because articles on the event said [Pelosi] was expected to attend, not that she was actually in Puerto Rico.”
HOT ON THE RIGHT:
“Anthony Scaramucci among 12 new Celebrity Big Brother houseguests,” from Entertainment Weekly: “Former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci will be among 12 new contestants competing on season 2 of Big Brother: Celebrity Edition when the reality show hosted by Julie Chen Moonves premieres Monday, Jan. 21 on CBS. … Scaramucci lasted only six days as [Trump’s] White House Communications Director … Will ‘The Mooch’ last longer here? His casting on season 2 of Celebrity Big Brother follows the season 1 appearance of another Trump White House personality, as former assistant to the president and director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison Omarosa Manigault Newman (who, like Scaramucci, was fired by Chief of Staff John Kelly) placed fifth in season 1.”
Trump will travel to New Orleans today to speak at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 100th annual convention. He will then fly back to Washington and welcome the national champion Clemson football team to the White House.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“Impeachment is an unbelievably serious undertaking. No president has ever been removed from office. If the crimes are serious enough, it needs to be done.” — House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.). (Greg Jaffe)
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- The Wizards lost to the Raptors 140-138. (Ava Wallace)
-- Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) has stacked up an impressive list of accomplishments after his first year in office. Gregory S. Schneider reports: “Northam, 59, oversaw the expansion of Medicaid after four years of failed attempts by Democrats. He reached bipartisan deals on lowering the felony threshold, overhauling state regulations and establishing dedicated funding for Metro. Amazon chose Virginia as one of its new headquarters, the unemployment rate is at a historic low and more than a billion dollars in new revenue is streaming into state coffers this year. For all that success, it’s fair to question how much credit Northam gets and how much is simply good timing and luck. And the next six weeks of the General Assembly will test whether he can maintain bipartisan relationships that enabled delicate compromises or whether pressure from Democrats to seize the momentum will push Northam into partisan standoffs.”
-- Union Station will undergo a major makeover starting in the fall. Luz Lazo reports: The project “will double its capacity, relieve crowding and make for a more accessible and comfortable customer experience, Amtrak says. In addition to providing a modern and brighter space for the 100,000 daily intercity, commuter and local travelers who pass through Union Station, the work also will improve access between Amtrak’s concourse and the mezzanine of the Metro station there.”
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
The Post's Fact Checker examined the Trump administration's claims about terrorists being apprehended at the southern border:
The publisher of the progressive website Talking Points Memo tweeted a video showing Trump's evolving statements about Russia:
Folks, the whole collusion story over three and a half years. All in 140 seconds. We watched it unfold. Remind yourself what we all saw. Watch/Retweet. pic.twitter.com/VAnA0Y0Jzl— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) January 13, 2019
A pair of dolphins were rescued from a shoreline in New Zealand:
And a UCLA gymnast's floor routine stunned the Internet: