Forty-five years later, speaking on Tuesday night from the same spot, President Trump warned House Democrats in ominous terms against using their new subpoena power to investigate him. “An economic miracle is taking place in the United States — and the only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics or ridiculous partisan investigations,” Trump said, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi over his left shoulder. “If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation. … We must choose between greatness or gridlock, results or resistance, vision or vengeance, incredible progress or pointless destruction.”
What the president presented, of course, is a false choice. The economy boomed in the late 1990s during a period of peace and prosperity as House Republicans investigated, and impeached, Bill Clinton. Trump didn’t seem too worried about the impact of his birther crusade on the nation’s health when Barack Obama was president. When they had gavels during the Obama years, House Republicans believed they had a constitutional imperative to conduct vigorous oversight of the executive branch.
Many headlines this morning, just as in the previous two years, emphasize Trump’s plea for both parties to come together. But the president’s call for an end to the “political stalemate” last night sounded hollow to Democrats just eight weeks after he declared that he would be “proud” to shut down the government to get a border wall. This brinkmanship led to the longest partial government shutdown in American history and continues to create uncertainty as a new funding deadline looms on Feb. 15.
-- Teleprompter Trump never lasts. Twitter Trump always returns. The president erratically jumped between the discordant roles of unifier and disrupter. There weren’t great signposts or transitions between topics, which often made the 82-minute address sound as though it had been written by committee. (There can be no doubt, though, that Stephen Miller was the main author.)
“Just eight hours earlier, Trump trashed Democrats — as well as ... John McCain — at a freewheeling lunch with television news anchors,” Phil Rucker and Toluse Olorunnipa report. “The president remarked that the late senator’s final book, a capstone to his life in public service, ‘bombed.’ He assailed Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) as a ‘nasty son of a bitch,’ ridiculed former vice president Joe Biden as ‘dumb’ for his history of gaffes, and accused Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) of ‘choking like a dog’ at a news conference where he denied being in a racist photo on his medical school yearbook page.”
-- Looking to 2020, Trump is again singing his greatest hits from 2016. He’s like a band that struggles to play new material because the fans always want to hear the classics. He opened with paeans to unity and harked back to inspiring examples of American greatness, but he got elected promising disruption. The meat of the speech was devoted to the issues that animated his upset victory in the GOP primaries and then over Hillary Clinton. And he kept going back to the set that worked: protectionism, nativism and isolationism. His calls for rebuilding infrastructure and lowering prescription drug prices were also staples of his stump speech as a candidate.
Trump is ever mindful of delivering for his base. He mentioned early on that he’s delivered for “the blue-collar workers” who supported him. Referring to NAFTA as a “catastrophe,” he name-checked the 2020 battlegrounds of Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania that will likely determine whether he secures a second term. He contrasted “the working class” and “the political class.”
-- The president who spoke of “American carnage” in his inaugural address showed again that his brand will always be “crisis.”
Trump did not declare a national emergency to allow for the unilateral, and possibly unlawful, construction of the wall he has promised Mexico would pay for. But he kept the door open to it, as he employed characteristically dark rhetoric to announce that he’s deployed more troops to stop the “onslaught” from a caravan of migrants.
Our graphics team visualized the words Trump used last night that no president has ever before uttered during a State of the Union. Among them: bloodthirsty, sadistic, venomous and chilling.
“The lawless state of our southern border is a threat to the safety, security and financial well-being of all Americans,” Trump declared. “We have a moral duty to create an immigration system that protects the lives and jobs of our citizens.”
-- The speech “once again was chock-full of stretched facts and dubious figures,” write fact-checkers Glenn Kessler, Sal Rizzo and Meg Kelly. “Many of these claims have been fact-checked repeatedly, yet the president persists in using them.”
Their story identifies 30 comments that weren’t correct, and many relate to immigration: “By any available measure, there is no new security crisis at the border. … Apprehensions of people trying to cross the southern border peaked most recently at 1.6 million in 2000 and have been in decline since, falling to just under 400,000 in fiscal 2018. The decline is partly because of technology upgrades; tougher penalties in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks; a decline in migration rates from Mexico; and a sharp increase in the number of Border Patrol officers. …
“Trump exaggerates the link between immigration and crime; almost all research shows legal and illegal immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than the native-born population. … The consensus among economic research studies is that the impact of immigration is primarily a net positive for the U.S. economy and to workers overall, especially over the long term.”
-- “Trump’s comments on illegal immigration elicited groans, leading Pelosi to raise her hand in an attempt to quiet her members. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), a former Somali refugee, listened while holding her head in her hands,” Elise Viebeck and Paul Kane note.
-- Like other presidents who have faced divided government, including Nixon, Trump has devoted more attention to foreign policy as his term has gone on. Obama did the same thing in 2011 after Republicans won the House. There’s less room for big domestic policy gains, so the focus becomes more international.
He touted negotiations with the Taliban to seek a peaceful settlement that would allow the United States to withdraw from Afghanistan. Imagine how apoplectic certain conservatives would have been if Obama had spoken to Congress about opening a dialogue with the Taliban.
He also announced that he will have a second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam on Feb. 27 and 28. “If I had not been elected president of the United States, we would right now, in my opinion, be in a major war with North Korea,” Trump said, dubiously. “Much work remains to be done, but my relationship with Kim Jong Un is a good one.”
-- Trump also sought to juice his standing with social conservatives by talking in stark terms about abortion. He no longer has a looming Supreme Court vacancy to keep evangelicals in line. Instead, he called for new national restrictions on women’s reproductive rights during the third trimester.
-- The moment that will wind up being remembered most vividly years from now came when Trump engaged with the dozens of Democratic congresswomen who were wearing white. “All Americans can be proud that we have more women in the workforce than ever before,” the president said, “and exactly one century after the Congress passed the constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote, we also have more women serving in the Congress than ever before.” Wearing white, the color of the suffragists, the new female members high-fived one another and started a chant of “U-S-A.” If you were making a documentary about female candidates in 2018, it would be a fitting final scene as the credits roll.
-- Hey, big spender: Trump didn’t even make a rhetorical nod to the need for fiscal responsibility. The ballooning national debt will be a core element of Trump’s legacy. It’s a story line that, at least for now, continues to be under-covered. But Trump did not mention the deficit or the debt once.
When the president previewed the speech for a group of supporters on Monday night, one of his allies asked whether he would discuss the deficit. Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney interjected. “Nobody cares,” Mulvaney said, per ABC News.
Instead, Trump called for major new spending to eradicate HIV and develop new cancer treatments for children. Those are laudable goals, for sure, but he never talked about how he’s going to pay for them. Instead, he boasted about cutting taxes, which has reduced revenue and forced the Treasury to essentially borrow more money from places like China. All of it will need to be paid back — with interest.
Trump also indirectly warned that the United States might engage in a costly nuclear buildup after withdrawing from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia. “Perhaps we can negotiate a different agreement, adding China and others, or perhaps we can’t — in which case, we will outspend and out-innovate all others by far,” Trump said, not giving a price tag.
Unlike previous Republican presidents, Trump neglected to mention entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare. Other big issues Trump didn’t touch included climate change, transgender rights, gun control, voting rights, forcible family separations and Puerto Rican hurricane recovery.
-- But instant polls conducted after the speech showed that a significant majority of viewers approved of Trump’s address. A CBS News poll found 76 percent of Americans who tuned in approved of what they saw, compared with 24 percent who disapproved. A CNN-SSRS poll showed the audience skewed Republican, with the viewership representing the most partisan tilt in any similar CNN instant poll dating to 2001. “Viewers were roughly 17 points more likely than the general public to identify as Republicans, and were largely fans of the President,” CNN’s Jennifer Agiesta reports. “In pre-speech surveys, 61% of speech-watchers said they approved of the job he was doing as President, compared with 40% in CNN's latest representative survey of all American adults.”
-- More WaPo team coverage:
- Dan Balz: “A State of the Union likely to change few minds.”
- Karen DeYoung: “Trump ties troop withdrawals in Afghanistan to progress in peace talks.”
- Vanessa Williams and Sean Sullivan: “In Democratic response, [Stacey] Abrams rebukes Trump and highlights parties’ contrasts.”
- Michael Scherer: “Democrats dismiss Trump’s call for comity as more broken promises.”
- Robert Costa: “‘They know it’s his party’: Despite tensions with Trump, GOP lawmakers roar with approval for their president.”
- Elise Viebeck and Paul Kane: “Trump shares the power — but needles Democrats.”
- Allyson Chiu: “‘Queen of Condescending Applause’: Nancy Pelosi clapped at Trump, and the Internet lost it.”
- Aaron Blake: “State of the Union transcript, annotated.”
- Valerie Strauss: “Trump talks education policy in State of the Union — one sentence of it.”
- Ishaan Tharoor: “The glaring hole in Trump’s address: Climate change.”
- Anne Gearan and Josh Dawsey: “Trump debuts his case for reelection in State of the Union address.”
- Amy Goldstein: “Trump announces goal of ending HIV/AIDS epidemic by end of next decade.”
- Michelle Boorstein: “Trump mentioned two Holocaust survivors during the State of the Union — including one who also survived the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting.”
- Emily Heil: “Melania Trump’s presence at the State of the Union marks the end of a long stretch without public events.”
- Ben Terris: “Trump didn’t need the State of the Union to speak his mind. He does it all the time.”
- Seung Min Kim: “Energy Secretary Rick Perry is the SOTU ‘designated survivor.’ The options were limited due to Cabinet vacancies.”
-- Commentary from the opinion page:
- The Post’s Editorial Board: “Trump’s State of the Union gave us the same old polarizing demagoguery — at great length.”
- Dana Milbank: “Trump calling for ‘comity’? That’s comedy.”
- Max Boot: “Trump’s speech showed how he’s redefined conservatism in his own toxic image.”
- David Byler: “Trump played the hits at the State of the Union. That probably won’t be enough in 2020.”
- Henry Olsen: “Trump delivered the best, most Reaganesque speech of his tenure.”
- Ed Rogers: “The State of the Union is good for Trump.”
- Stephen Stromberg: “More Trump fantasyland as the world fries.”
- Jennifer Rubin: “The State of the Union is boring.”
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- The Post has uncovered a 1986 registration card for the State Bar of Texas showing that Elizabeth Warren listed herself as “American Indian.” In an interview, the Democratic senator said she apologizes for ever identifying as Native American. Annie Linskey and Amy Gardner report: “Her comments more fully explain the regret she expressed last week to the chief of the Cherokee Nation, the first time she’s said she was sorry for claiming American Indian heritage. … But as Warren undergoes increased scrutiny as a presidential candidate, additional documents could surface to keep the issue alive. Using an open records request during a general inquiry, for example, The Post obtained Warren’s registration card for the State Bar of Texas, providing a previously undisclosed example of Warren identifying as an ‘American Indian.’ Warren filled out the card by hand in neat blue ink and signed it. Dated April 1986, it is the first document to surface showing Warren making the claim in her own handwriting. Her office didn’t dispute its authenticity.”
GET SMART FAST:
- Joe Ricketts, the patriarch of the family that owns the Chicago Cubs, apologized after racist emails he exchanged were leaked. Ricketts wrote in one email, “Muslims are naturally my (our) enemy.” His response to another email containing a joke whose punchline is a racist slur included the words “great laugh.” (Chicago Tribune)
- The Senate Ethics Committee closed its investigation into Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.). The panel’s leaders said they had received documentation showing Menendez reimbursed a political ally for impermissible gifts, concluding a years-long ethical saga for the top Democrat of the Foreign Relations Committee. (Elise Viebeck)
- The Alabama police officer who shot and killed a young black man he mistook for a gunman will not face charges. The Alabama attorney general declined to file charges against the officer, who shot 21-year-old Emantic “EJ” Bradford Jr. while responding to an earlier shooting at a mall on Thanksgiving night. (AP)
- An enormous cavity discovered under an Antarctic glacier has intensified fears about the potential rapid rise of sea levels. If the glacier collapses, which scientists estimate could happen in the next 50 to 100 years, sea levels could rise by two feet — enough to inundate coastal cities such as New York and Miami. (NBC News)
- Scientists released an update to the World Magnetic Model, which GPS systems use to orient themselves. The north magnetic pole has drifted in recent years, suggesting an unexplained change is occurring deep beneath the Earth’s surface. (Sarah Kaplan)
- A 21-year-old exchange student from Ireland became the first Austin resident killed in an accident involving an electric scooter. Police said Mark Sands was riding on a Lime scooter and going the wrong way down a busy downtown street when he was struck by an Uber driver. (Peter Holley)
- A man in Texas died after a vaporizer smoking pen exploded in his mouth. A medical examiner said William Brown died of a stroke after his carotid artery was severed by “penetrating trauma from exploding vaporizer pen.” (Alex Horton)
- A North Carolina college student discovered the “ghost” haunting her closet was actually a 30-year-old man trying on her clothes. Andrew Clyde Swofford was charged with misdemeanor breaking and entering, but the college student said he didn’t harm her when she confronted him in her closet. (Michael Brice-Saddler)
- Trump’s childhood home in Queens is up for sale. The house, which is about to hit the market for $2.9 million, is decorated with Trump memorabilia — including copies of “The Art of the Deal” and a cardboard cutout of the president. (Wall Street Journal)
THE #METOO MOVEMENT:
-- Neomi Rao, Trump’s nominee to replace Brett Kavanaugh on the second-most-powerful court in the country, addressed her controversial writings on date rape during her confirmation hearing. Ann E. Marimow reports: “She also encountered resistance Tuesday from Republican Sen. Joni Ernst (Iowa), who recently disclosed that she had been sexually assaulted while in college. Rao’s writings from the 1990s on date rape ‘do give me pause,’ Ernst said during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. The senator said she is concerned about the message Rao’s columns send to young women ‘about who is to blame’ and has not decided whether to back Rao’s nomination. ‘I really want to know more,’ Ernst said in an interview. Rao told senators that she cringes ‘at some of the language I used’ in columns she wrote as an undergraduate at Yale. ‘I like to think I’ve matured as a thinker, writer and a person,’ she said. And Rao emphasized that ‘nobody should blame the victim.’”
-- Pope Francis confirmed that some Catholic clergy members sexually abused nuns. Max J. Rosenthal and Michelle Boorstein report: “‘It’s not that everyone does this, but there have been priests and bishops who have,’ Francis told reporters aboard the papal plane on Tuesday ... Francis is due to host a gathering of bishops and cardinals in two weeks to address the broader global issue of clergy sexual abuse — including, largely for the first time, of adult victims and accountability for those at the top of the church who mismanage and cover it up.”
-- Two women accused the former president of Costa Rica, Nobel laureate Óscar Arias Sánchez, of sexual misconduct. Kevin Sieff reports: “The allegation was reported Tuesday by Semanario Universidad, a local newspaper, and the New York Times. In interviews with both publications, the accuser explained that, at one of her meetings with Arias, he approached her from behind, touched her breasts and penetrated her with his fingers. She filed a criminal complaint against Arias this week. In a second allegation, Emma Daly, the head of communications at Human Rights Watch, told The Washington Post in an interview Tuesday that Arias groped her in 1990, when she was a reporter covering Central America and while he was still president.”
-- The D.C. private school St. Albans has launched an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct perpetrated by former teachers. Justin Wm. Moyer reports: “St. Albans School in Northwest Washington announced in a letter to the school community this week that it will launch the investigation after ‘firsthand accounts of inappropriate behavior and sexual misconduct by former St. Albans teachers.’ The letter indicated there is no evidence of recent misconduct at the prestigious all-boys school. In August, The Washington Post reported allegations that teacher Vaughn Keith sexually abused a student at Key School, in Annapolis, in the 1970s and was fired for alleged sexual misconduct. Keith went on to teach Latin and classical history at St. Albans for six years in the 1980s.”
-- A Kansas judge sparked outrage after he described two sexual abuse victims in their early teens as “an aggressor” in their assaults. Kristine Phillips reports: “‘I do find that the victims in this case are more of an aggressor than a participant in the criminal conduct,’ Leavenworth County District Judge Michael Gibbens said during a recent sentencing hearing just outside of Kansas City, Kan. … The defendant is Raymond Soden, a 67-year-old man who was arrested last year after, prosecutors said, he used social media to solicit sex from the minors. Soden reached a deal with the Leavenworth County Attorney’s Office, and in December, was sentenced to five years in prison — about eight years short of the minimum punishment recommended in the state’s sentencing guidelines.”
THERE'S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:
-- Federal prosecutors are seeking interviews with Trump Organization executives. CNN’s Erica Orden and Cristina Alesci report: “Trump and his legal team have long harbored concerns that investigations by New York federal prosecutors -- which could last throughout his presidency -- may ultimately pose more danger to him, his family and his allies than the inquiry by special counsel Robert Mueller, according to people close to Trump. Prosecutors' recent interest in executives at Trump's family company may intensify those fears. The specific inquiry or topics of interest by prosecutors in any interviews with Trump Organization executives wasn't immediately clear.”
-- A 1995 video surfaced showing Trump talking with Moscow officials about a possible building project in the city. The Independent’s Chris Riotta reports: “The video, allegedly aired by Russian state television in 1995, shows the US president meeting with members of the former mayor’s administration. ‘Trump was in Moscow,’ Yury Luzhkov, the mayor of Moscow from 1992 through 2010, told the Interfax news agency. ‘He had contacts…on matters related to the construction of the Okhotny Ryad underground mall on Manezh Square.’ … Mr Trump’s reported meeting with Moscow officials in 1995 and the newly-unearthed footage does not show any clear wrongdoing on the part of the president. It does, however, refute the notion that he had zero dealings in Russia before assuming the White House in 2016 — a frequent claim made by Mr Trump and his inner circle.”
-- BuzzFeed News obtained a set of internal documents outlining how talks about a Trump Tower Moscow occurred as Trump praised Vladimir Putin on the campaign trail: “As Trump went from rally to rally, vociferously denying any dealings in Russia, his representatives, Michael Cohen and his associate Felix Sater, worked with Trump Organization lawyers and even Ivanka Trump to push forward negotiations to build a 100-story edifice just miles from the Kremlin. The fixers believed they needed Putin’s support to pull off the lucrative deal, and they planned to use Trump’s public praise for him to help secure it. At the same time, they plotted to persuade Putin to openly declare his support for Trump’s candidacy. ‘If he says it we own this election,’ Sater wrote to Cohen.”
-- Firms recruited by Paul Manafort are being investigated by federal prosecutors over foreign payments. The New York Times’s Kenneth P. Vogel reports: “The previously unreported interviews about the flow of the money are among the latest developments in the investigation of key figures who worked at the three firms — Mercury Public Affairs, the Podesta Group and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. Prosecutors have focused on the role of Skadden Arps’s lead partner on the account, the former Obama White House counsel Gregory B. Craig, in arranging financing and media coverage for his firms’ work, the people familiar with the questioning said. And the prosecutors, they said, have also been asking about the extent to which the lead partners on the accounts for Mercury and Podesta — Vin Weber, a former Republican member of Congress, and the Democratic fund-raiser Tony Podesta — were involved in orchestrating their firms’ day-to-day lobbying and public relations on the account.”
-- A memo surfaced showing how the company owned by Tom Barrack, the president’s inaugural chair, aimed to exploit his connections to the Trump administration. Justin Elliott and Ilya Marritz report for ProPublica: “The memo outlines a ‘strategic plan’ for Colony, which now has $44 billion under management, to ramp up its operations in Washington and open an office there. It envisions ‘setting up roundtables between Ambassadors and members of the Administration to cultivate relationships’ in areas including infrastructure and plans to ‘tie into international bilateral meetings already occurring with key members of the Trump Administration.’ … Barrack’s company should do all this while keeping a low profile, seeking to build a ‘subtle brand,’ the memo says.”
-- House Democrats will ramp up their investigations into Trump’s alleged Russia ties this week. Karoun Demirjian reports: “The House Intelligence Committee is expected to vote Wednesday to provide [Mueller] with all interview transcripts from its Republican-led probe of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. … On Friday, [Michael Cohen], who already pleaded guilty to lying to Congress, is due to provide private testimony before the panel. … And the House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hear public testimony Friday from acting attorney general Matthew G. Whitaker as part of its probe of circumstances surrounding Mueller’s investigation.”
-- Stormy Daniels dropped her defamation claim against Michael Cohen. Mark Berman reports: “District Judge S. James Otero, in a ruling issued Monday, allowed Daniels to amend her complaint to drop the allegation against Cohen. Otero wrote that he was dismissing the defamation claim ‘with prejudice,’ adding that this meant Daniels ‘cannot simply re-litigate the defamation cause of action.’”
-- The National Enquirer’s reporting on Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’s affair has led some to speculate it was a political hit job, given the president’s criticism of the Post owner and the tabloid’s connections to the Trump campaign. Marc Fisher, Manuel Roig-Franzia and Sarah Ellison report: “The saga might have been easily dismissed as little more than tabloid fare, but it has taken on a more serious cast in recent days. A volley of charges and countercharges about how and why the Enquirer launched its investigation has emerged for several reasons, including the history of the Enquirer, which has acknowledged taking actions during the last presidential campaign that benefited Trump politically. Trump, meanwhile, has repeatedly lodged attacks on The Post’s coverage of him and on Bezos, who bought the news company in 2013. And Bezos, the head of a retail giant that is famously loath to comment to the media, has authorized his security chief to speak about his investigation.
“Bezos’s longtime private security consultant, Gavin de Becker, has concluded that the billionaire was not hacked. Rather, de Becker said in an interview, the Enquirer’s scoop about Bezos’s relationship with former TV anchor Lauren Sanchez began with a ‘politically motivated’ leak meant to embarrass the owner of The Post — an effort potentially involving several important figures in Trump’s 2016 campaign. As the Daily Beast first reported last week, de Becker has publicly named only one subject of his investigation, Michael Sanchez, Lauren’s brother and a pro-Trump Hollywood talent manager who is also an acquaintance of provocative Trump backers Roger Stone and Carter Page.”
THE IMMIGRATION WARS:
-- Senate Republicans indicated they might agree to less border wall money than Trump wants but also signaled uncertainty about where Trump stands. Erica Werner and Robert Costa report: “Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), a member of the bipartisan committee of House-Senate negotiators that is working on writing a border security bill, said both sides have moved off their initial positions. In the case of Republicans, that was the $5.7 billion Trump has been demanding for his wall — while Democrats’ starting point in the negotiations was to offer no money for physical barriers on the border. Blunt said Tuesday that $5.7 billion ‘is not a magic number, that’s for sure.’ Asked whether that was Trump’s view as well, Blunt said: ‘Oh, I don’t know about that. I think at the end of the day it would be, if we can write this the right way.’”
-- New Mexico’s governor ordered the state’s National Guard to withdraw most of its troops from the southern border. Robert Moore reports: Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, “a Democrat who took office last month after serving six years in the U.S. House, made the announcement shortly before [Trump’s] State of the Union address, in which he spoke of a ‘tremendous onslaught’ at the southern border. Lujan Grisham said she would keep some New Mexico Guardsmen in the southwest corner of the state, which has seen a huge influx of Central American families in recent months. But she said she rejected ‘the federal contention that there exists an overwhelming national security crisis at the southern border, along which are some of the safest communities in the country.’”
-- San Diego’s Republican mayor announced an initiative to help welcome immigrants to the city. The AP’s Julie Watson reports: “Economic growth is tied to immigrants, with one in four people in San Diego foreign-born, Mayor Kevin Faulconer said at a news conference, surrounded by civic and business leaders, including former Republican mayor Jerry Sanders, who heads the Chamber of Commerce. ‘San Diego is proud to be a destination for immigrants in search of an opportunity,’ Faulconer said, adding that immigrants from around the globe ‘define who we are as a region.’ The announcement came less than a week after San Diego County decided to provide a building to shelter asylum seekers after they are released from detention.”
-- A senior Customs and Border Protection official apologized after an agent at a passport control checkpoint grilled a BuzzFeed News reporter about the outlet’s Michael Cohen story. BuzzFeed's Ellie Hall reports: “‘On behalf of the agency, I would like to extend our apologies to Mr. David Mack for the inappropriate remarks made to him during his CBP processing upon his arrival to the United States,’ CBP Assistant Commissioner for Public Affairs Andrew Meehan said … Mack, BuzzFeed News' deputy breaking news director, landed at JFK Airport Sunday night after a brief trip to the United Kingdom to renew his US work visa. … Mack said that the [CBP] agent saw BuzzFeed listed as his employer on his visa and began to ask him questions about the outlet's reporting” on Mueller's investigation.
-- Beto O’Rourke said during an interview with Oprah Winfrey that he was leaning toward a presidential bid and would make a final decision by the end of the month. Matt Viser reports: “In a theater in Times Square — and sandwiched in a program that started with actor Michael B. Jordan and ended with actor-director Bradley Cooper — the former Texas congressman outlined the case for a Democratic candidate who could knit together a divided country and dropped hint after hint that he believes that candidate should be him. ‘I have been thinking about running for president,’ he said, to a large round of applause. … ‘I’ve got to tell you. You can tell. I’m so excited at the prospect of being able to play that role.’”
-- Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) will make an announcement Sunday about her 2020 plans in Minnesota. Politico’s Elena Schneider reports: “Klobuchar told MSNBC that she will announce her decision on Sunday in Minneapolis’ Boom Island Park — ‘as in, Boom Island, ‘drop the mic,’’ she said. … Klobuchar immediately posted on Twitter: ‘I’m making a big announcement on Sunday. Join me there,’ directing users to RSVP on her website. Klobuchar is taking other steps that look like setup for a presidential campaign: She is scheduled to travel to Iowa later this month, where she will headline the Ankeny Area Democrats Winter Banquet, and her team is exploring events elsewhere in the first caucus state that are likely to be added to that itinerary.”
-- Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) acknowledged in an interview that he has a girlfriend, but he is not naming her. Helena Andrews-Dyer reports: “‘I got a boo,’ Booker declared on the national radio show ‘The Breakfast Club’ in a wide-ranging interview. … Booker, 49, who has often remained somewhat tight-lipped about his love life, never mentioned his new girlfriend by name but did make clear that the two are an established item.”
-- Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) condemned David Duke after the former KKK grand wizard endorsed her presidential bid. “I have strongly denounced David Duke’s hateful views and his so-called ‘support’ multiple times in the past, and reject his support,” Gabbard said in a statement. “Publicizing Duke's so-called ‘endorsement’ is meant to distract from my message: that I will end regime-change wars, work to end the new cold war and take us away from the precipice of a nuclear war, which is a greater danger now than ever before.” Duke had previously posted a picture of Gabbard with text reading, “Tulsi Gabbard for President. Finally a candidate who will actually put America First rather than Israel First!” (The Hill)
-- Howard Schultz will deliver what aides are billing as a major policy speech tomorrow to outline his vision for an independent presidential campaign. Michael Scherer reports: “Schultz has yet to commit to a presidential campaign, and he has dismissed claims that he would be a spoiler, saying he will not do anything to help reelect Trump. In the meantime, his advisers have also argued that the controversy and media coverage over his potential run will ultimately help him deliver his message to the American people.”
-- Schultz’s investment in a for-profit college could become a political liability for him if he runs for president. Politico’s Christopher Cadelago reports: Schultz “invested millions of dollars and personally owned stock in Capella University, a troubled for-profit college that overcharged the federal student loan program hundreds of thousands of dollars, records show. … The Office of the Inspector General in a 2008 audit found it overcharged the student aid program by $588,000 for the school years between 2002 and 2005 — and recommended that Federal Student Aid officials require the university to return the improperly retained funds.”
-- Former Massachusetts governor William Weld changed his party registration back to Republican as he considers a primary challenge against Trump. The AP reports: “Weld served as a Republican governor from 1991 until 1997. He later became a Libertarian and ran for vice president on a ticket with former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson in the 2016 election. The clerk’s office in Canton, Massachusetts, confirms on Tuesday that Weld recently changed his party registration to the GOP. … He recently told WMUR-TV in New Hampshire that he would discuss his potential political plans during a Feb. 15 visit to the first primary state.”
-- Mitch McConnell said he hopes Secretary of State Mike Pompeo runs for Kansas’s Senate seat days after Trump dismissed the possibility. Felicia Sonmez and Sean Sullivan report: “‘I’d sure like for him to think about it,’ [McConnell] said of Pompeo during an interview on Fox News Channel. He added that Kansas has a late filing deadline and that ‘there’s no urgency for him to make that decision.’ … But Trump recently dismissed the notion that Pompeo would leave his post to run for Senate. ‘I asked him the question the other day. He says he’s absolutely not leaving,’ Trump said in an interview on CBS’s ‘Face the Nation’ that aired Sunday.”
THE LATEST FROM RICHMOND:
-- Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, who built his political career on his honesty and authenticity, was shocked by the immediate calls from Democratic allies for his resignation after a racist photo was discovered on his medical school yearbook page. Gregory S. Schneider and Laura Vozzella have a behind-the-scenes look at the chaos engulfing Richmond: “Most of his staff was gone for the night as [Northam] and his wife, Pam, worked the phones in the Executive Mansion. They called friends back in Norfolk, old classmates from his medical school, looking for answers about the racist photo that had emerged from his 1984 yearbook. When advisers showed up the next morning to what they thought would be the task of helping Northam resign, the near-sleepless governor had a surprise. “This isn’t me,” he told them Saturday, according to one adviser. … That set what was already a crisis into uncharted waters, as Northam staged a national news conference and defied calls to step down from virtually the entire political establishment. …
“But his assumption that allies would give him the benefit of the doubt contributed to Northam’s poor handling of the crisis over the photo, according to people close to the governor. And his shock at being so quickly discarded by the party has made it harder for Northam to accept the calls to resign, the people said. Over the past several days, he has even toyed with the idea of leaving the Democratic Party and governing as an independent — a sign of the degree that he is isolated from every political ally, from his state party and from the national party.”
-- Northam has started signaling to his few remaining allies that he thinks he can remain in office, according to the New York Times’s Alan Blinder, Jonathan Martin and Trip Gabriel. “The governor, whose power has been on the verge of collapse since the photograph surfaced on Friday, intends to hire a private investigator to examine the circumstances of the picture, according to a Democrat familiar with his plans. … And Mr. Northam’s supporters have begun to express increased confidence that he will hold on to his job, despite a national onslaught of condemnation, in part because the Republicans who control the General Assembly have demonstrated little urgency toward seeking his ouster.”
-- Democratic leaders are struggling with how to respond to a sexual assault allegation against Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, who would become governor if Northam resigns. From Jenna Portnoy, Laura Vozzella and Antonio Olivo: “Although Democrats at the state and national level have been quick to say women should be believed and that all allegations should be investigated, they say they are resisting a rush to judgment. Unlike claims of assault against Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, former senator Al Franken (D-Minn.), former congressman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) and others, Virginia Democrats privately note the accuser in the Fairfax case has not yet offered evidence she says corroborates her claim. The dilemma shows the trouble they have enforcing a policy of zero tolerance.”
-- If both Northam and Fairfax resign, Attorney General Mark Herring (D) would become governor, Larry J. Sabato and Kyle Kondik of U-Va.’s Center for Politics note. “In the immediate aftermath of the Northam bombshell and Fairfax’s seemingly likely ascension to the governorship, we thought back to Herring’s decision to defer to Northam in advance of the 2017 election … With Fairfax potentially becoming governor, Herring — who previously announced his intention to seek the governorship in 2021 — could have been effectively blocked. Yet as of now, Herring is only one of the three elected Democratic statewide officeholders without a cloud over his head.”
Sabato and Kondik add that Northam’s continued presence in the governor’s mansion could have a detrimental effect on Democrats’ efforts to retake control of Virginia’s House of Delegates or Senate next year: “Republicans are hanging on to very slim majorities in the state House of Delegates (51-49) and state Senate (21-19). … Democrats seemed like favorites to win both chambers … particularly because a new state House of Delegates map imposed by judicial order will improve Democratic odds in that chamber. … But one could imagine the opposite happening, particularly if Northam hangs around and depresses Democrats, or the Fairfax allegations continue to churn.”
THE NEW WORLD ORDER:
-- The Senate passed its Middle East policy bill that includes a rebuke of Trump’s plans to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria and Afghanistan. Karoun Demirjian reports: “The measure combines several legislative efforts that have been percolating through Congress in recent years, including an increase in sanctions against anyone who supports the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, an extension of support to Jordanian security forces helping to combat the Islamic State and other threats to regional stability, and an authorization of security assistance to Israel. It also includes a politically controversial measure to bolster state and local laws to limit the reach of a global anti-Israel boycott campaign protesting the occupation of Palestinian territories — a provision that could spark challenges in the House, where some of the party’s newest members are opposed to efforts seeking to limit criticism of Israel.”
-- The top U.S. general in the Middle East told a Senate panel he “was not consulted” about Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from Syria. The Daily Beast’s Spencer Ackerman reports: Gen. Joseph Votel “will next month step down from U.S. Central Command, where he has been in charge of the war against the Islamic State since 2016. He told [the Senate Armed Services Committee] that withdrawal will occur in a ‘deliberate and coordinated manner,’ with its details still under development. Votel also agreed with Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) that withdrawal from Syria will reduce some of the military pressure on ISIS, which he described as a ‘resilient network.’”
-- Saudi Arabia has transferred weapons sold to it by the United States to al-Qaeda-linked fighters and Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen. CNN’s Nima Elbagir, Salma Abdelaziz, Mohamed Abo El Gheit and Laura Smith-Spark report: “Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, its main partner in the war, have used the US-manufactured weapons as a form of currency to buy the loyalties of militias or tribes, bolster chosen armed actors, and influence the complex political landscape, according to local commanders on the ground and analysts … By handing off this military equipment to third parties, the Saudi-led coalition is breaking the terms of its arms sales with the US, according to the Department of Defense. After CNN presented its findings, a US defense official confirmed there was an ongoing investigation into the issue.”
-- John Cantlie, a British journalist abducted by the Islamic State six years ago, is believed to still be alive. The New York Times’s Rukmini Callimachi, David D. Kirkpatrick and Richard Pérez-Peña report: “Mr. Cantlie has been seen in several propaganda videos made by the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, but the last one was released more than two years ago. On Tuesday, Ben Wallace, Britain’s minister for security, told journalists at a Home Office briefing that Mr. Cantlie was thought to be alive, though he did not disclose how the government might have knowledge of his condition.”
WEST WING INTRIGUE:
-- Trump’s leaked calendars show the president has an unusual amount of unstructured time in his day compared with his predecessors, historians said. Toluse Olorunnipa reports: “Interviews with historians and a review of the schedules of recent former presidents released through their presidential libraries highlight the degree to which Trump’s sparse official schedule appears to be an anomaly. … Most former presidents reported starting their mornings in the Oval Office, and adhering to a packed and highly regimented daily schedule that included briefings, ceremonial events, and meetings and phone calls with lawmakers and foreign leaders.”
-- Mick Mulvaney invited a bipartisan group of lawmakers to Camp David. Politico’s John Bresnahan and Jake Sherman report: “It's the second time in recent weeks that Mulvaney has invited lawmakers to Camp David, although this is the first session that includes Democrats, according to administration officials. … Trump is not planning to attend the get-together.”
-- A new report found that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s home state of Michigan ranks last in total education revenue growth between 1995 and 2015. Valerie Strauss reports: “The Michigan State University study, titled ‘Michigan School Finance at the Crossroads: A Quarter Century of State Control,’ offers a comprehensive look at school funding in the state since the 1994 passage of a law known as Proposal A, which largely shifted funding from local school districts to the state. According to the report, total K-12 education funding declined by 30 percent between 2002 and 2015, with 74 percent of that drop caused by declining state support for schools.”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
A senior adviser to Trump's reelection bid sparked outrage by suggesting female Democratic lawmakers' choice to wear white at the State of the Union was connected to the KKK:
The color was actually a tribute to suffragists:
The outspoken pro-Trump president of Liberty University, Jerry Falwell's son, made this sweeping statement about the speech:
The freshman House Democrat who replaced Beto O'Rourke accused Trump of lying about her Texas district:
The mayor of San Juan expressed frustration with the lack of reference to Puerto Rico:
The moderator of “Meet the Press” highlighted something Trump neglected to mention in his speech:
A New York Times reporter shared an image of lawmakers' reactions to Trump's comment on late-term abortions:
The Onion poked fun at Democrats' choice of speaker to deliver the response:
This 2016 tweet from Tulsi Gabbard recirculated after David Duke endorsed her 2020 bid:
Al Franken appeared at a D.C. book event:
The president's daughter and adviser reacted to an art exhibit featuring her likeness:
A bipartisan pair of senators went to a spin class together:
And spring training is just around the corner:
-- Bloomberg News, “Inside Wisconsin’s Disastrous $4.5 Billion Deal With Foxconn,” by Austin Carr: “Interviews with 49 people familiar with Foxconn’s Wisconsin project, including more than a dozen current and former employees close to its efforts there, show how hollow the boosters’ assurances have been all along. While Foxconn for months declined requests to interview executives, insiders describe a chaotic environment with ever-changing goals far different from what Trump and others promised. … The only consistency, many of these people say, lay in how obvious it was that Wisconsin struck a weak deal.”
-- “Pope Francis just made history by visiting the Arabian Peninsula. But was he a pawn?” by Dalia Hatuqa: “Religious history was made this week on the Arabian Peninsula, with Pope Francis becoming the first pontiff to visit the region. … Yet to many Muslims like me, the famously humble and open pope may have allowed himself to be a pawn as his Gulf interlocutors use him to bolster their facade as a tolerant, liberal society while suppressing diversity and freedom and waging war in Yemen.”
HOT ON THE LEFT:
“Trump’s travel to Mar-a-Lago alone probably cost taxpayers more than $64 million,” from Philip Bump: “On Tuesday, [the Government Accountability Office] released a report looking only at Trump’s first four trips to Mar-a-Lago as president: on Feb. 3-6; Feb. 10-12; Feb. 17-20; and March 3-5, 2017. The total? Just under $14 million, for an average cost of $3.4 million per trip. That includes about $8.5 million spent by the Defense Department and $5 million by the Department of Homeland Security. It also includes about $60,000 paid directly to Mar-a-Lago itself, $24,000 of which was for lodging for Defense Department personnel and $36,000 for operational space used by DHS. … If we, therefore, assume a blanket average of $3.4 million per trip, regardless of duration, the total the government has spent on Trump’s trips to the resort tops $64 million.”
HOT ON THE RIGHT:
A group of Trump’s allies traveled to the southern border to explore the idea of privately funding a border wall. Politico’s Ben Schreckinger reports: “In what amounted to a kind of #MAGA field trip, former Trump strategist Steve Bannon, former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, former Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo, baseball legend Curt Schilling, and former Sheriff David Clarke convened to plan construction of a wall along the southern border. Blackwater founder Erik Prince phoned in from South Africa. With Congress refusing to pony up the $5.7 billion Trump has demanded for the project, his allies are now plotting to kick off construction with private money and private land.”
Trump will announce his nomination for World Bank president, which has been reported as David Malpass. He will then give a speech to the ministers of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS at the State Department. He will have dinner tonight with the National Prayer Breakfast host committee and pastors.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“Biden was never very smart. He was a terrible student. His gaffes are unbelievable. When I say something that you might think is a gaffe, it’s on purpose; it’s not a gaffe. When Biden says something dumb, it’s because he’s dumb.” — Trump at a private lunch for television anchors. (Anne Gearan and Josh Dawsey)
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- Temperatures will decrease by about 20 degrees today compared with yesterday’s unseasonably warm weather. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Partly to mostly cloudy skies put a damper on our spring fling, as low pressure slowly approaches from the west. We’re still on the somewhat mild side, though, with morning 40s rising to afternoon highs in the 50s. Scattered showers become possible during the afternoon.”
-- The Capitals beat the Canucks 3-2. (Isabelle Khurshudyan)
-- The Wizards’ John Wall ruptured his left Achilles' tendon and is expected to be out for at least 12 months. (Candace Buckner)
-- Prosecutors plan to push D.C. gun crimes into federal court to help combat a spike in the city’s murder rate. Spencer S. Hsu and Peter Hermann report: “With homicides in the District climbing 40 percent last year and still rising, federal prosecutors’ goal is to bring all ‘felon-in-possession’ gun cases to U.S. District Court instead of D.C. Superior Court, according to the people briefed on the plan. In 2018, there were 350 of those gun cases brought in the District, but only one-quarter were charged as federal crimes. The changes, effective Feb. 1, bring to bear prosecutorial and incarceration tools last used widely in the District two decades ago and revive tactics that critics say fueled a mass-incarceration crisis easing only now.”
-- The District’s $2.1 million bid to save a Columbia Heights dog run has sparked criticism from some city residents. Marissa J. Lang reports: “When the District approved a budget last year allocating $1.5 million to buy the parcel of land from Metro and establish an official dog park, many thought their work was done. Then the ‘for sale’ sign went up. As the city now prepares to offer $2.1 million to acquire — and ‘save’ — the park, critics have questioned the wisdom of funneling millions into a neighborhood dog run, rather than using the money to address citywide issues, such as affordable housing.”
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Late-night hosts made jokes about Trump's State of the Union:
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) gave a speech posted to her Facebook page before Trump's address:
Ralph Northam's medical school reacted to the racist picture included on his 1984 yearbook page:
And a dinosaur with spines along its back was discovered in Patagonia: