with Joanie Greve

With Joanie Greve

THE BIG IDEA: The dean has died. John Dingell Jr., the longest-serving member of Congress in U.S. history, passed away yesterday at 92 of complications from prostate cancer. His wife, Debbie, who was by his side at their home in Dearborn, Mich., holds the seat that he gave up in 2014 after 29 terms.

History will probably best remember the Michigan Democrat for championing the expansion of health care, from Medicare to Obamacare.

He always said his proudest vote was for the Civil Rights Act in 1964, and Dingell introduced the bill that created the Civil Rights Division in the Justice Department.

For legions of former administration officials who found themselves in Dingell’s crosshairs during his 59 years in the House, however, he will always be most closely associated with vigorous oversight of the executive branch.

Dingell’s interest in oversight started when he got elected in 1955 during Dwight Eisenhower’s first term. In 1981, he became chairman of the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee. The congressman insisted on also chairing the subcommittee on oversight and investigations.

From that perch, he brought down several major figures during Ronald Reagan’s presidency. Among them: Justice Neil Gorsuch’s mother. Dingell subpoenaed documents from EPA Administrator Anne Gorsuch Burford as part of an investigation into her handling of the Superfund program. After she refused to turn them over, she was cited for contempt and stepped down under political pressure.

Mike Deaver, who had crafted Reagan’s public image as one of the president’s longtime top strategists, was convicted of perjury in 1987 for lying under oath during a hearing that Dingell called to investigate influence peddling.

Dingell also went aggressively after government contractors who wasted taxpayer money. Stanford President Donald Kennedy was forced to resign in 1991 after Dingell’s investigators uncovered that the university had used federal grants meant for scientific research to help pay for a 72-foot yacht on the San Francisco Bay, along with fancy floral arrangements.

When asked to define the jurisdiction of his committee, Mr. Dingell liked to point at a photograph of the Earth taken from space,” Emma Brown recalls in The Post’s obituary.

“I’ve gotten more death threats around here than I can remember,” Dingell once told the AP. “It used to bother my wife, but oversight was something we did uniquely well.”

During the final year of his life, with his heath declining, Dingell was determined to recount his experiences in a memoir. Big chunks of “The Dean: The Best Seat in the House,” which came out in December, deal with oversight, including anecdotes from the Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford years.

Donald Trump made Dingell distraught. He saw the president as “a clear and present danger to the United States of America.” But he was even angrier about what he saw as the Republican-controlled House “ignoring its constitutional responsibility to check the executive’s authority.”

“I’m told by my young friends that when you write something in all capital letters, you’re yelling,” Dingell wrote in the 336-page book. “So, let me shout this out: WE HAVE ABDICATED OUR CONSTITUTIONAL SYSTEM OF CHECKS AND BALANCES IN THE UNITED STATES! Understand this: I’m not saying this as a partisan. I’m talking about anybody in any administration, Republican or Democrat, who thinks they’re above the law.”

Dingell believed the new Democratic-led Congress should use its subpoena power and all the other tools in its toolbox to hold Trump administration officials accountable in 2019. “If we really want to make America great again, we need to start by hauling their a--es up to Capitol Hill in front of truly bipartisan oversight committees and make them swear to tell the truth under penalty of perjury,” he wrote. “Believe me, it works. I’ve seen the wet spots on the chairs after they’ve finished testifying.”

George H.W. Bush wrote the foreword for Dingell’s book shortly before the former president himself died: “For the most part, when I hear people complain about the gridlock in Washington and their wish to return to ‘the good old days,’ I dismiss them as being whiny and shortsighted,” wrote Bush, who served in the House alongside Dingell during the 1960s. “After all, the most popular show on Broadway in a good many years has been the musical version of the story of Vice President Aaron Burr shooting and killing former secretary of the treasury Alexander Hamilton. … Having said all that, this wonderful book from my great friend John Dingell has made me nostalgic, too, for a time in Washington that was perhaps a bit more civilized and when compromise was not a dirty word.”

Dingell was elected to replace his father, who died of tuberculosis, in a special election. John Dingell Sr. had been elected on Franklin Roosevelt’s coattails in 1932 and emerged as a leading champion of the New Deal. John Sr. stood behind FDR as he signed the law creating Social Security. John Jr. presided over the House when Medicare passed in 1965. He lent the gavel he had used that day to Nancy Pelosi when the House voted out the Affordable Care Act in 2010.

“My father believed we need to take a long view of history,” Dingell wrote in his book. “Although the process was long and difficult (and suffered many setbacks, some of which continue to this day), I was blessed by the good Lord to see them both signed into law. So, please listen to me carefully when I say that I know that I won’t be here to see if the United States survives this current crisis. A lot of damage has been done to our fragile republic. Repairing that damage won’t take months or even years. It will take decades, if not generations, to pull our deeply divided nation together again. … We now find ourselves on the precipice of a great cliff. Our next step is either into the abyss or toward a higher moral ground. It’s up to you, my dear friends.

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The Supreme Court voted 5-4 to block a Louisiana law that would enforce new regulations on abortion clinics. (Reuters)

-- The Supreme Court last night temporarily blocked a restrictive Louisiana abortion law from taking effect after Chief Justice John Roberts voted with the court’s liberals. Robert Barnes reports: “The justices may yet consider whether the 2014 law — requiring doctors at abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals — unduly burdens women’s access to abortion. The Louisiana law has never been enforced, and the Supreme Court in 2016 found a nearly identical Texas law to be unconstitutional. … The court’s four most conservative members would have allowed the law to take effect. … The majority, as is custom, did not give a reason for granting the stay. But it seems likely the full court will now grant the case a full briefing and review, and perhaps reexamine its earlier decision, which was made by a very different Supreme Court.”

-- Make no mistake: The protections provided by Roe v. Wade are in play. Three years ago, Anthony Kennedy joined the court’s liberals to strike down the Texas law. He's been replaced by Brett Kavanaugh, who voted in this case to keep a nearly identical law in effect. Abortion will also be a top issue in 2020 Senate races and the presidential election, especially with Ruth Bader Ginsburg's recent health problems. 

-- The GOP makes the case to prevent late-term abortion. “Every day since Trump’s State of the Union speech, House Republicans have unsuccessfully sought unanimous consent for a bill that would require medical care for babies who survive attempted abortions,” Sean Sullivan, Anne Gearan and Mike DeBonis report. “They have promised to try again in the Democratic-led House on Friday. In the Republican-controlled Senate, GOP leaders have rallied around a similar proposal. ... Republicans are seeking to paint Democrats as a party out of step with the mainstream on several issues, including taxes, health care and abortion rights.”

-- Trump got a standing ovation for his antiabortion comments during yesterday's National Prayer Breakfast, per Anne Gearan. Trump was a supporter of abortion rights until he decided he wanted to run for president as a Republican. 


  1. The White House acknowledged that Trump has not followed his doctor’s recommendations to get on a diet and start exercising. Trump will receive his second annual physical as president at Walter Reed today. (CNN)
  2. Former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson vowed to fix attribution errors and instances where language was “too close” to original sources in her new book “Merchants of Truth.” But Abramson still defended herself against accusations of plagiarism by pointing to the book’s 70 pages of footnotes. (Michael Brice-Saddler, Kayla Epstein and Margaret Sullivan)

  3. The World Health Organization reported that measles cases surged by 30 percent between 2016 and 2017. New outbreaks of the virus were recorded in Europe, South America and parts of Asia as the United States also grappled with an increase in cases. (Rick Noack)

  4. Seattle could receive up to a foot of snow between tonight and tomorrow. If the current forecast holds, the city could be looking at the snowiest two days it’s seen since at least 1990. (Ian Livingston)
  5. A city commissioner in Florida resigned amid complaints about her alleged habit of licking men’s faces. Four men testified to an ethics commission that Madeira Beach Commissioner Nancy Oakley licked their faces in public without their consent. (Antonia Noori Farzan)

  6. Actress Audrey Moore told her bridesmaids to wear their old wedding dresses to her nuptials. Moore, who is known for her roles in “Better Call Saul” and Netflix’s “Godless,” and her fiance instructed their wedding guests to wear white, black, a wedding dress or even a costume for their nontraditional celebration. (Michael Brice-Saddler)

  7. Frank Robinson, the MLB’s first African American manager, died at 83. Robinson consistently broke barriers in his career, joining the Cincinnati Reds before some teams had even integrated and becoming the first player to win the MVP award in both the National and American leagues. He was later the Washington Nationals’ first manager. (Matt Crossman)


-- Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos claimed the National Enquirer attempted to extort him by threatening to publish intimate photos of him unless he dropped an investigation into the tabloid. Paul Farhi, Sarah Ellison and Devlin Barrett report: “In an extraordinary post to the online publishing platform Medium, Bezos said the Enquirer and its parent company, American Media Inc., made the threat after he began investigating how the tabloid obtained text messages that revealed his relationship with former TV anchor Lauren Sanchez. Bezos, who owns The Washington Post, wrote that the Enquirer wanted him to make a false public statement that he and his security consultant, Gavin de Becker, ‘have no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AMI’s coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces.’ Bezos declined to do so.

Instead, he published what he said were emails from Enquirer executives to a lawyer representing de Becker. In one, top Enquirer editor Dylan Howard appears to suggest that the tabloid would publish a series of photos of Bezos and of Sanchez, some of them salacious, if AMI’s terms weren’t met. ‘I wanted to describe to you the photos obtained during our newsgathering,’ Howard wrote, going on to say that the Enquirer had a ‘below the belt selfie’ of Bezos, among other shots. Howard added, ‘It would give no editor pleasure to send this email. I hope common sense can prevail — and quickly.’ … Bezos’s public letter seems to suggest that federal agents should investigate whether AMI may have violated the terms of its non-prosecution agreement with prosecutors in Manhattan over its role in the 2016 hush money payments” to women who said they had extramarital affairs with Trump. 

-- Journalist Ronan Farrow, who has reported on the Enquirer’s efforts to aid the Trump campaign by killing stories about his alleged mistresses, said he received a similar threat. Allyson Chiu reports: “In a tweet Thursday night, Farrow wrote that he and the unnamed journalist ‘fielded similar ‘stop digging or we’ll ruin you’ blackmail efforts from AMI.’ … Farrow added that he ‘did not engage as I don’t cut deals with subjects of ongoing reporting.’ … In response to Farrow, former Associated Press editor Ted Bridis tweeted, ‘We were warned explicitly by insiders that AMI had hired private investigators to dig into backgrounds of @AP journalists looking into the tabloid’s efforts on behalf of Trump.’”

-- Special counsel Bob Mueller’s prosecutors allege that Paul Manafort continued working on Ukrainian political matters even after he was indicted. Spencer S. Hsu, Rosalind S. Helderman and Matt Zapotosky report: “The details came in a partially redacted transcript released Thursday of a sealed hearing between prosecutors and the defense team for Trump’s former campaign chairman … At the hearing, attorneys discussed whether Manafort may have been motivated to lie in one unspecified instance ‘to at least augment his chances for a pardon,’ the transcript states, suggesting prosecutors’ suspicion that Manafort might be trying to deceive them even now, after his guilty plea in September in Washington, in the hope of winning a reprieve from the president. In another instance during the hearing, prosecutor Andrew Weissmann alleged Manafort may have lied to hide a scheme to funnel cash to himself while doing unpaid work for the Trump campaign.

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker ultimately agreed to testify publicly amid a subpoena standoff with the House Judiciary Committee. (Reuters)

-- Privately, Trump and his aides are growing increasingly anxious over Democratic maneuvering — alarmed by the news that House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) has hired Abigail Grace, who served as an Asia policy staffer on the National Security Council during the Trump administration until departing last spring for a think tank. Seung Min Kim, David Nakamura and Josh Dawsey report:

“The acrimony between the administration and House Democrats was on display Thursday in the House Judiciary Committee, which voted along party lines to empower Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) to subpoena acting attorney general Matthew G. Whitaker for his testimony should he not show up for a planned hearing Friday — or appear but not answer questions from lawmakers. Whitaker responded that he would not come Friday without assurances that he won’t be subpoenaed. In turn, Nadler said in a letter Thursday evening that his committee would not subpoena him as long as Whitaker appears on Friday and is ‘prepared to respond to questions from our Members.’ Nadler tweeted shortly before 8 p.m. Thursday that Whitaker will appear before the committee at 9:30 a.m. Friday.

-- “Whitaker’s hearing probably will be one of his final appearances as acting attorney general,” Devlin Barrett and Karoun Demirjian note: “The Senate Judiciary Committee voted along party lines Thursday to advance the nomination of William P. Barr to serve as attorney general, and the full Senate is expected to vote on confirmation next week.”

-- During their raid on Michael Cohen’s home and office, FBI agents seized tapes of conversations between Trump’s former attorney and Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, who oversaw Trump’s inaugural festivities. Vanity Fair’s Emily Jane Fox reports: “According to people familiar with the recordings, some of the taped conversations dealt directly with the inauguration. In them, Wolkoff detailed her own contemporaneous concerns with the inauguration—about how money was being spent, the general chaos of the process, and the involvement of Trump’s adult children. During these conversations, Wolkoff also raised her issues with the two men in charge of the committee: [Rick] Gates and [Tom] Barrack. These recordings, in part, led the Southern District of New York to launch a criminal investigation into how the inaugural committee spent its record $107 million.”

-- House Democrats started hearings on a plan to obtain Trump’s tax returns. Jeff Stein reports: “A House Ways and Means Committee panel brought in several experts in tax law to discuss the impact of a provision in Democrats’ anti-corruption bill that would compel presidential candidates to release 10 years of tax returns within 30 days of receiving their party’s nomination. The provision would apply to Trump, but Republicans oppose the measure and are expected to have the votes to block it in the Senate. … The subcommittee was not expected to take action Thursday to specifically seek Trump’s tax returns, but the hearing was part of its broader push to lay the groundwork for a potential request, with lawmakers expected to ask about their authority to request the records.”

-- Billionaire activist Tom Steyer is trying to press House Democrats toward impeaching Trump by delivering the message to lawmakers’ home districts. Politico’s Laura Barrón-López and Stephanie Murray report: “Steyer’s first targets are three powerful committee chairmen, Richard Neal (D-Mass.), [Nadler] and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.). But the liberal megadonor isn’t stopping there: He will soon turn his attention to rank-and-file members seated on the committees that would be involved in impeachment proceedings, including freshmen.”

-- State attorneys general and former DOJ officials are raising questions about the department’s decision to issue a legal opinion long sought by GOP megadonor and casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. The Democratic attorneys general of Pennsylvania and New Jersey expressed concern in a letter to DOJ leaders that the opinion, which could further restrict Internet gambling, “followed substantial lobbying by outside groups.” (Tom Hamburger)

A cascade of scandals rocked the Democratic Party in Virginia in 2019 after a racist photo was discovered on Gov. Ralph Northam’s medical school yearbook page. (Lee Powell, Patrick Martin, Joyce Koh/The Washington Post)


-- A new yearbook controversy: The Republican leader of the Virginia Senate edited a college yearbook that featured multiple racist photos and slurs. The Virginian-Pilot’s Katherine Hafner, Elisha Sauers and Dave Ress report: Virginia state Sen. Tommy Norment (R-James City) “was managing editor of The Bomb publication [in 1968]. He went to [Virginia Military Institute] in Lexington after graduating from James Blair High School in Williamsburg and has been a state senator since 1992. On one page of the yearbook, a student poses in blackface, surrounded by others in costumes at a party. Another page features a photo of two men in blackface holding a football. The N-word is used at least once, and a student listed as being from Bangkok, Thailand, is referred to with anti-Chinese and anti-Japanese slurs.”

-- Hypocrisy alert: A growing number of Democrats are abandoning their previously strict position that alleged victims of sexual misconduct must be believed now that they face the possibility of losing the Virginia governor’s mansion to the Republican state House speaker. From Paul Kane: “‘This was 15 years ago and it’s mighty suspect that it would come out now,’ said Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), a senior member of the Congressional Black Caucus. … Some are urging a consistency of the cause regardless if it cuts short the career of a rising star such as Fairfax. Others are staking out different ground as the Virginia scandals pile up, acknowledging that one top priority is to retain control of the governor’s mansion. And many Democrats, even those who took the lead against Kavanaugh’s nomination four months ago, just want to avoid the issue altogether. … Even [Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.)], less than 24 hours after tweeting that she believed Fairfax committed sexual assault, declined to say what should happen to the lieutenant governor. ‘I’m taking my elevator back to my office,’ she said Thursday afternoon, declining to comment.”

-- Virginia’s top three Democratic leaders face political scandals that could end their careers, and their responses have managed to only make matters worse. Paul Schwartzman explains: “The nadir may have occurred when the governor, prompted by a reporter’s question, appeared willing to perform a rendition of Michael Jackson’s moonwalk at a nationally televised news conference during which he acknowledged putting on blackface to compete in a 1984 dance contest. But the cataclysm also has been punctuated and propelled by contradictory statements, untimely barbs and assertions that have seemed insensitive and hypocritical. ... ‘Any one of these could be a case study for future analyses of how not to handle a political crisis,’ said Mark Rozell, a George Mason University professor of public policy. ‘In each case, their public comments have amplified the situation rather than tamped it down.’”

-- The continuously unfolding scandals appear to have given a little breathing room to Northam as he weighs his options. Gregory S. Schneider, Dan Balz, Laura Vozzella and Paul Kane report: The crisis “has left Democratic leaders stymied, deeply worried about long-term damage to the reputation of the state and the party but frozen by uncertainty about what fresh disclosures might come next. Party leaders have urged elected Democrats to stay off television, say as little as possible publicly and wait to try to regroup until the situation becomes clearer. … While they continue to call publicly for Northam to resign, most Democrats now want the governor to stay in office at least until there is clarity on the issues involving Fairfax and Herring.”

-- Jim Comey penned a Post op-ed citing the blackface controversies as evidence of why Virginia should take down its Confederate statues. The former FBI director writes: “White people designed blackface to keep black people down, to intimidate, mock and stereotype. … Blackface, and our elected leaders’ involvement with it, is an important subject, and our country must confront that part of our racist past. Those who did it, or lied about it, shouldn’t hold office. Past actions matter. But our present is filled with gigantic bronze embodiments of that same racism. They loom over Virginians every day. If Virginia’s leaders want to atone for a troubling legacy, changing state law so Richmond’s statues no longer taunt the progress of our country would be a good place to start.”

Viviana Colmenares, a mother of six, says she is desperate for international aid to reach her. (Jon Gerberg/The Washington Post)


-- The Saudi crown prince told a top aide he would use “a bullet” on Jamal Khashoggi a year before the Post contributing columnist was killed in Istanbul. The New York Times’s Mark Mazzetti reports: “The conversation, intercepted by American intelligence agencies, is the most detailed evidence to date that the crown prince considered killing Mr. Khashoggi long before a team of Saudi operatives strangled him inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul and dismembered his body using a bone saw. … The conversation appears to have been recently transcribed and analyzed as part of an effort by intelligence agencies to find proof of who was responsible for Mr. Khashoggi’s death. The [NSA] and other American spy agencies are now sifting through years of the crown prince’s voice and text communications that the N.S.A. routinely intercepted and stored, much as the agency has long done for other top foreign officials, including close allies of the United States.”

-- Tensions escalated between the regime of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and the U.S.-backed opposition trying to deliver humanitarian aid to the country. Anthony Faiola and Rachelle Krygier report: “Maduro has defiantly vowed to block more than $60 million worth of assistance organized by the opposition and provisioned by the United States, Colombia, Canada and other countries. Even as seven truckloads of aid from the United States began arriving at warehouses in the key border crossing of Cucuta, Colombia, Maduro loyalists pledged to use force if necessary to keep it out. Elliott Abrams, the State Department special envoy to Venezuela, said ... while determined to deliver the aid to the Venezuelan people, the United States and other opposition supporters would not do so by ‘force.’”

-- The U.S. military is preparing to pull all its forces out of Syria by the end of April. The Wall Street Journal’s Dion Nissenbaum and Nancy A. Youssef report: “With U.S.-backed fighters poised to seize the final Syrian sanctuaries held by Islamic State in the coming days, the U.S. military is turning its attention toward a withdrawal of forces in the coming weeks, [current and former U.S. officials] said on Thursday. … The Trump administration has been struggling to come up with an agreement to protect Kurdish allies from being attacked by Turkish forces. … [But Washington and Ankara] have made little headway, current and former U.S. officials said, which means the U.S. military withdrawal is proceeding faster than the political track.”

-- Jared Kushner will travel to the Middle East later this month to promote his peace plan for the region. Politico’s Eliana Johnson reports: “During the trip, the president’s son-in-law will for the first time share significant details of the economic portion of the Trump administration’s Middle East peace plan, whose development he has spent nearly two years overseeing. … The White House is preparing to release a finalized plan for a negotiated solution between Israel and the Palestinians in the coming months … The forthcoming trip is intended in part to gauge regional reaction to the economic portion of the plan, which would create economic incentives — likely including job opportunities — for Palestinians.”

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) on Feb. 7 said they would not fund ICE’s effort to detain and deport people. (The Washington Post)


-- Trump is traveling to El Paso on Monday to argue that border fencing saved the city from massive crime. But El Paso’s leaders, including its former congressman and possible 2020 contender Beto O’Rourke, say the president is portraying a false image of the city. Robert Moore, Philip Rucker and Jenna Johnson report: “Trump hopes spotlighting the story of El Paso — touting its border fencing and relatively low rate of violent crime — will provide evidence supporting his push for funding for part of a U.S.-Mexico border wall to avoid another shutdown, aides said. … The trouble for Trump is that his claim about El Paso is simply false. His portrayal of this border city as having been violent and lawless before the installation of fencing has long been an irritant to local civic and business leaders. ...

“For years, O’Rourke has argued that there is already too much fencing and walling along the southern border, and he sharply criticized Trump and the wall during an interview with The Washington Post on Wednesday. ‘I think he knows what he is doing,’ O’Rourke said. ‘I think there has been shown over many years great political reward for those who exploit this by stoking fear and anxiety, by lying to people about immigrants and the nature of the border and the safety and security that we have here.’ O’Rourke continued: ‘Some people have used code words, some have come at it obliquely. He just full on, in the most racist terms, completely divorced from the truth or facts or reality or our experience here in El Paso, uses this to incite fear and paranoia and turn that to political gain.’”

-- Some government employees have still not been paid for working during the shutdown as they brace for the possibility of another. Kimberly Kindy, Lisa Rein and Joel Achenbach report: “Thousands of employees [have] experienced delays or anomalies with paychecks at the federal agencies that went dark. Many say they initially received half of what they were owed after working without pay or being furloughed. Others were stunned by what appeared to be excessive tax withholding. And some — the exact number has not been provided by government officials — had received no pay as of Thursday afternoon.”

-- Local leaders and residents of Nogales, Ariz., are expressing opposition to the razor wire repeatedly applied to the border fence separating the town from Mexico. Eli Rosenberg reports: “The town’s city council passed a resolution unanimously on Wednesday to formally condemn the wire, and demand that it be taken down over safety concerns. Residents and business owners have told local reporters that it makes the town feel like a war zone — “an inquisition,” one said — and worry about the effect on its life and commerce downtown. Local newspaper columnists have panned it; a letter writer, Allen Zale, who said he served with the Army, said it reminded him of his time stationed in Berlin.”

-- A group of progressive House freshmen called on their fellow Democrats to reject any border-security bill that would increase funding for ICE or the Border Patrol agency. The Hill’s Rafael Bernal reports: “Democratic Reps. Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Ayanna Pressley (Mass.) and Ilhan Omar (Minn.) and a coalition progressive immigrant rights groups collected 200,000 signatures on a petition to reject any funding for detention centers or deportation agents. … The petition's requests closely match a letter sent by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) to Homeland Security conferees Wednesday.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) on Feb. 7 introduced a resolution they call the Green New Deal. (The Washington Post)


-- Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) released their Green New Deal, which is already stoking Democratic divisions. From Dino Grandoni: “Fault lines within the Democratic caucus were already visible before the end of the day, with some members urging caution about setting vague and, at times, impossible-to-achieve goals to only fall short ... And perhaps most importantly, the plan has yet to get the formal backing of one crucial Democrat: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).”

-- The Green New Deal is “so aspirational that it invites attacks,” David Weigel writes. “In an accompanying FAQ, the authors write that they can't get to zero emissions in 10 years (the horizon of all legislation) because ‘we aren't sure that we'll be able to fully get rid of farting cows and airplanes that fast.’ That was meant to be wry; within minutes it was being attacked as proof that the deal's endorsers literally wanted to ban planes, and perhaps cows. But that language grew out of a movement that calls for a transition to 100 percent renewable energy in the next 12 years, with a World War II-level mobilization of resources.”

-- A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced a bill to reverse Trump’s transgender troop ban. The legislation would prohibit the Pentagon from denying transgender people the opportunity to enlist or continue their service based on their gender identity. (Felicia Sonmez)

2020 WATCH:

-- Howard Schultz laid out his vision for an independent presidential bid in a speech at Purdue University. Michael Scherer reports: “He made clear that his exploration of a campaign was predicated on his fear that a ‘far-left’ Democratic 2020 nominee would deliver reelection to Trump by pushing away many voters in the middle of the political spectrum. At the same time, he promised to avoid forcing the same result by splitting the anti-Trump vote, a concern of many Democratic political strategists. … He described policies that would hue closely to his former party’s consensus positions during Barack Obama’s presidency, with a more rigorous focus on fiscal discipline.”

A Jeb Bush flashback: “The ticketed crowd of several hundred seemed at times uncertain about whether it was witnessing an academic lecture or a political barnstorm, with only a few attempts at applause during his remarks. Twice Schultz found himself asking the audience to clap, first after he praised the university for its efforts to control tuition costs and later when he pledged to release his tax returns if he declared himself a candidate.”

-- Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) is seeking to distinguish himself from Joe Biden as the two pursue many of the same supporters for their likely 2020 bids. Politico’s Daniel Strauss and Holly Otterbein report: “Brown, kicking off a pre-campaign tour of key presidential voting states last week, made clear that if he gets into the race he intends to run, essentially, as Biden without the baggage. Chris Schwartz, a Black Hawk county supervisor who hosted an event for Brown in Iowa, introduced him by ticking off a list of votes — including opposing NAFTA, opposing the Defense of Marriage Act and voting against authorization of the war in Iraq — that had featured Biden on the other side.”

-- Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Ga.), the winner of one of 2018's closest congressional races, announced he would not seek reelection next year. Felicia Sonmez reports: “‘I make this announcement as early as possible to ensure that quality conservative candidates have time to prepare for a vigorous campaign in 2020,’ he [said in a statement]. Woodall was first elected in 2010 and initially won his reelection campaigns by comfortable margins; in 2016, he won by more than 20 percentage points, while [Trump] won the district by a little over six points. As the district has grown more diverse, it has trended more Democratic. In 2018, Woodall beat his Democratic opponent, Carolyn Bourdeaux, by roughly 400 votes.”


From Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who worked with Dingell as a fellow congressman and as Obama's chief of staff:

Other tributes poured in from both parties:

Democratic presidential candidates embraced the Green New Deal:

The executive editor of the Washington Examiner was more skeptical:

From the publisher of the Federalist:

A familiar face appeared at the White House, per a CNN reporter:

The president's daughter and senior adviser celebrated the launch of an initiative meant to bring economic security to women around the world:

NASA remembered those who died in the pursuit of space exploration:

The speaker of the New York State Assembly ran into both Kamala Harris and Joe Biden on the same Amtrak train:

The Cincinnati Enquirer once again tweeted this clarification after the National Enquirer ended up back in the news:

Meghan McCain wished a happy birthday to her grandmother:


-- “The parking lot suicides,” by Emily Wax-Thibodeaux: Nineteen suicides “occurred on VA campuses from October 2017 to November 2018, seven of them in parking lots, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. While studies show that every suicide is highly complex — influenced by genetics, financial uncertainty, relationship loss and other factors — mental-health experts worry that veterans taking their lives on VA property has become a desperate form of protest against a system that some veterans feel hasn’t helped them.”

-- “The Frank Robinson I knew: The proudest, orneriest, most competitive man in baseball,” by Thomas Boswell: “Robinson’s leadership — nobody can define it or measure it, which is why few currently value it — was essential. He believed in players who, objectively, did not merit it. So they believed in themselves. … They crashed into walls, stole bases and threw strikes. But most of all, they loved the endless details of the game, studied them, revered them as Robinson did and believed that demanding unfailing fundamentals from one another would win.”


“Phoenix Police Refute Cindy McCain’s Story of Human Trafficking at Airport,” from the Daily Beast: “Phoenix police on Wednesday disputed Cindy McCain's account of human trafficking at an Arizona airport. McCain had told local news station KTAR on Monday that she intervened at Sky Harbor International Airport last week when she spotted a woman with a child of a ‘different ethnicity.‘ … Phoenix Police Sgt. Armando Carbajal told KTAR that police conducted a welfare check on the child and found ‘no evidence of criminal conduct or child endangerment.’ McCain—who is reportedly the co-chair for Arizona Governor’s Council on Human Trafficking—responded on Twitter Wednesday evening, apologizing if ‘anything else I have said on this matter distracts from ‘if you see something, say something.’”



“A Boy Scout took a knee during the Pledge of Allegiance. The mayor endorsed his ‘expression of conscience,’” from Eli Rosenberg: “Cub Scout Pack 451 in Durham, N.C., was invited to lead the Pledge of Allegiance at city hall, and 10-year-old Liam Holmes did not hesitate. As the group began to recite the pledge Monday, Liam, a fifth-grader, dropped to his knee in a silent protest. It was a style he had seen made popular by National Football League players, placing his hand over his heart. … Durham Mayor Steve Schewel began the meeting by thanking the boy. ‘To the Scout that expressed his conscience by kneeling, we will say that we endorse and appreciate all expressions of conscience in the Durham City Council,’ said Schewel, a Democrat.”



Trump will receive his annual physical at Walter Reed today. He has no other events on his public schedule.


“It will be one of several or maybe many suggestions that we receive. The green dream or whatever they call it. Nobody knows what it is, but they’re for it, right?” — Nancy Pelosi throws shade at the draft Green New Deal. (Politico)



-- The day will start warm in Washington but later get chillier. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Morning may bring a few showers and the day’s high temperatures. Mid-50s north and west of town, mid-60s possible south and east of town — with the Beltway area in between. Skies slowly clear, and winds pick up — perhaps gusting above 30 mph. Blustery and chillier air moves in as the afternoon wears on. Wind chills around 40 degrees are possible by the commute home. A cold front moving through midday is responsible for all of this!”

-- The Capitals beat the Avalanche 4-3. (Isabelle Khurshudyan)

-- Virginia lawmakers voted to ban the use of handheld mobile devices while driving. Michael Laris reports: “With passage of legislation by both houses of the General Assembly, Virginia joins Maryland, the District and other states nationwide in banning the handheld use of cellphones while driving. Supporters say they expect the legislation to clear final procedural votes and be signed into law. Fines would be $125 for the first offense and $250 for the second and subsequent; the law would take effect Jan. 1. … However, the effect of such bans on crash totals ‘varied widely,’ [researchers at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety] found. ‘Despite the proliferation of laws limiting drivers’ cellphone use, it is unclear whether they are having the desired effects on safety.’”

-- A sign commemorating the death of Bijan Ghaisar was once again stolen. Tom Jackman reports: “The Ghaisar family said the theft is an insult to the memory of their loved one. They have been waiting for more than 14 months to find out why the 25-year-old accountant was fatally shot [by U.S. Park Police officers] as he sat, unarmed, behind the wheel of his Jeep Grand Cherokee on Nov. 17, 2017, after a brief police chase in Virginia.”


Stephen Colbert mocked Trump's claims of “presidential harassment”:

Dingell reflected on his proudest moments when Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom:

John D. Dingell Jr., who was the longest-serving member of Congress in U.S. history, was awarded with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in November 2014. (White House)

The Post compiled Trump's comments on his religion as he addressed the National Prayer Breakfast:

President Trump has maintained his evangelical support even while making strange comments about church, prayer and the Bible over the years. (JM Rieger/The Washington Post)

And this sign language performance that was cut from the Super Bowl broadcast has been viewed more than 1 million times online:

Aarron Loggins performed a sign language interpretation of the national anthem at Super Bowl LIII on Feb. 3. (National Association of the Deaf)