There are certainly models for redemption. John McCain’s career was nearly destroyed by the Keating Five scandal, for example, but the late senator from Arizona refashioned himself as a champion for strict campaign finance rules.
First, however, Northam says he wants to read up on race. He told The Washington Post that he has reviewed “The Case for Reparations,” a 2014 article in the Atlantic by Ta-Nehisi Coates, as well as a few chapters from “Roots,” by Alex Haley. “I have a lot more to learn,” Northam told my colleague Greg Schneider on Saturday. “The more I know, the more I can do.”
First lady Pam Northam, who has urged her husband to remain in office, is also tackling the subject. She’s reading “We Face the Dawn,” by Margaret Edds, which tells the story of two Virginia lawyers who were involved in Brown v. Board of Education.
-- “Roots” is famous because ABC adapted the novel into a television miniseries in 1977, but it is a work of fiction. There are vastly better books to learn about the true history of race in America. I reached out on Sunday to some of the nation’s preeminent historians to ask if they would recommend a title or two for Northam. Several happen to live in the commonwealth. More than a dozen scholars sent suggestions for what the governor should be reading. Taken together, their inspired ideas form quite a strong syllabus for Northam to start his remedial studies.
“Virginia’s history has inspired some of the most powerful and searching works in the history of the United States,” said Edward Ayers, the president emeritus of the University of Richmond. “Historians have evoked, at a human scale and with careful research, every era from the two-and-a-half centuries of slavery through the Civil War and Reconstruction, into the generations of Jim Crow and disfranchisement, into the struggles of the 20th and 21st centuries. I think that grounding his understanding in particular Virginia places is the best way to begin to comprehend a history heartbreaking in its cruelty and inspiring in the resilience of those who were wronged.”
Ayers, who won the 2004 Bancroft Prize for “In the Presence of Mine Enemies,” an extraordinary narrative of the Civil War, recommends that Northam begin with Edmund Morgan’s “American Slavery, American Freedom: The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia,” which came out in 1975.
If Northam wants to learn about how slavery evolved during the 17th century on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, where he grew up, Ayers thinks the governor should look to “Myne Owne Ground,” by Timothy Breen and Stephen Innes.
“Reading firsthand testimony from the narrative of Oloudah Equiano, an African man enslaved in Virginia, and from Thomas Jefferson’s ‘Notes on the State of Virginia,’ where he tries to explain away racial subjugation through the language of science, would be eye-opening,” Ayers added.
For a glimpse at the slave trade that ravaged families only a few hundred yards from the Virginia State Capitol, Ayers suggests “Slaves Waiting for Sale,” by Maurie McInnis. For an understanding of Richmond itself, the professor floats Gregg Kimball’s “American City, Southern Place: A Cultural History of Antebellum Richmond.”
During the period between the Revolution and the Civil War, Virginia became the largest slave state and the state that saw the largest numbers of families devastated by the domestic slave trade. To understand that awful chapter, Ayers recommends Northam looks at “Life in Black and White,” which focuses on Northern Virginia, by Brenda Stevenson. He also suggests “The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family,” by Annette Gordon-Reed.
-- Gordon-Reed, a Harvard historian who earned the Pulitzer Prize in 2009 for “The Hemingses,” suggests a book by Philip Morgan that might appeal to Northam: “Slave Counterpoint: Black Culture in the Eighteenth-Century Chesapeake & Lowcountry.” She also recommends “The Captive’s Quest for Freedom” about the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law, by Richard Blackett, and “The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832,” by Alan Taylor.
-- Taylor, a historian at the University of Virginia who received the 2014 Pulitzer for “The Internal Enemy,” recommends that Northam read Coates's full-length book “We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy,” in addition to his magazine piece. Taylor also offered Edmund Morgan's “American Slavery, American Freedom” and “White Over Black: American Attitudes Toward the Negro, 1550-1812,” by Winthrop Jordan.
-- “He has to start with W.E.B. DuBois’s ‘The Souls of Black Folk,’” said Columbia University historian Eric Foner, who received the Pulitzer in 2011 for “The Fiery Trial,” which tracks Abraham Lincoln’s evolving views on slavery. Foner also suggested Michael Honey’s recent book on Martin Luther King Jr., which “gives us a much better picture of the man and his ideas than the sanitized King trotted out on MLK Day,” and David Blight’s “Prophet of Freedom,” a biography of Frederick Douglass published last fall.
-- New York University professor Steven Hahn, who won the 2004 Pulitzer for “A Nation Under Our Feet: Black Political Struggles in the Rural South From Slavery to the Great Migration,” named an older book by Blight, “Race and Reunion,” which explored the Civil War in America’s collective memory. He also suggested “The Strange Career of Jim Crow,” the C. Vann Woodward classic. “If anyone doubts how deep racism is in the country's DNA,” Hahn said, “Northam, Herring and [Eastern Virginia Medical School] have shown us.”
-- Caroline Janney, who runs the University of Virginia’s Center for Civil War History, recommends Northam begin with Robert Penn Warren’s “Legacy of the Civil War.” “It was written for the centennial of the war amid the civil rights movement,” she said. “It is an excellent, short place to start to understand the long arm of not only the war, but the tangled and complicated history of race and memory of slavery in the United States.” She also suggested “Making Whiteness,” by Grace Hale, a colleague at U-Va.
-- The governor inadvertently underscored just how limited his starting knowledge of racial history is when he sat down with CBS. Gayle King started their interview with this open-ended question: “Where would you like to begin?” Northam replied: “We are now at the 400-year anniversary — just 90 miles from here in 1619 — the first indentured servants from Africa landed on our shores.” The host interjected. “Also known as slavery,” she said. “Yes,” the governor replied.
“The first Africans brought to Virginia were captured in Angola and brought in a slave ship, but Virginia did not have a formal legal system for slavery in 1619,” Fenit Nirappil explains. “There appears to be some ambiguity over their legal status, with some still forced to work for life while others had a path to freedom, according to the National Park Service. Asked to clarify Northam’s remarks, a spokeswoman for the governor pointed to news accounts that said Africans were treated as indentured servants before slave laws were written.”
-- After watching Northam’s interview, U-Va. historian Sarah Milov said two books came to mind that might help set him straight. In “Saltwater Slavery,” Stephanie Smallwood writes about the physical processes of enslavement — and the social dislocation it caused — from the Middle Passage to the Americas. “Gov. Northam would be unlikely to mistake slavery for indentured servitude after reading this book, which notes how Virginia decisively turned away from English indentured servants toward African captives in the late 17th century,” she emailed.
Milov was also struck by Northam’s rationale for refusing to resign. The governor emphasized that he was a doctor in the Army and a pediatric neurologist in Norfolk as a civilian. “Right now, Virginia needs someone that can heal,” Northam said on CBS. “There’s no better person to do that than a doctor.” She thinks Northam ought to read “Medical Bondage: Race, Gender and the Origins of Gynecology,” by Deirdre Cooper Owens. “This book might help Dr. Northam better understand the history of medical experimentation on enslaved black women, including by the ‘father of modern gynecology,’” she said. “Perhaps the governor might see the irony in his claim … that ‘nobody better than a doctor to heal the wound.’”
Justene Hill Edwards, another historian at U-Va., suggests “The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class,” by David Roediger, and “Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life,” by Karen Fields and Barbara Fields.
-- “It’s shocking to me that a white Democratic politician from a Southern state in the year 2019 — one who depends on massive turnout and political organization from black Virginians — was so in need of remedial education that he didn’t know what Roots was all about,” said Cornell University’s Ed Baptist, the author of “The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism.” Baptist’s book focuses more on the internal slave trade than the importation of slaves from Africa, and he shows how the transportation of enslaved people from Virginia and Maryland fueled the cotton plantation economy of the Deep South. Baptist, who grew up in North Carolina, recommended three readable books by academic historians so he could understand how slavery shaped the United States, whites’ dependence on it and black resistance to it: “They Were Her Property,” by Stephanie Jones-Rogers; “Closer to Freedom: Enslaved Women and Everyday Resistance,” by Stephanie Camp; and “The Price for Their Pound of Flesh,” by Daina Ramey Berry.
Baptist also suggested three other non-historical accounts: Jesmyn Ward’s novel “Sing, Unburied, Sing”; Kiese Laymon’s memoir “Heavy”; and Tressie McMillan Cottom’s “Thick,” a new book of essays published last month about the impact of racism on black women’s bodies in contemporary America. Cottom is a sociologist at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.
-- Former Spelman University president Beverly Daniel Tatum wrote the classic “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria,” which poignantly explores the psychology of racism. She recommends “White Fragility,” by Robin DiAngelo, which Tatum said “addresses why it is so hard for white adults to recognize their own complicity in the perpetuation of racism.” To better understand racial history as it relates to the current political moment, she also thinks Northam needs to read “White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide,” by Carol Anderson, and “America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America,” by Jim Wallis. Tatum also suggests “Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America,” by Ibram X. Kendi, who directs American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center. “So many to choose from,” said Tatum. “I hope he does read some of these!”
THE LATEST FROM RICHMOND:
-- Pressure on Northam to resign has eased somewhat because of the two sexual assault allegations that have been leveled against the man who would replace him. “Virginia Democratic lawmakers began circulating a draft resolution Sunday to begin impeachment proceedings against Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D),” Nirappil reports. “Fairfax has fended off calls from the state Democratic Party and some state and national lawmakers to resign after Vanessa Tyson and Meredith Watson publicly came forward last week to accuse him of sexual assault. Tyson accused Fairfax of sexually assaulting her in 2004, at the Democratic National Convention in Boston. Watson on Friday accused Fairfax of assaulting her in 2000, while they were students at Duke University. Fairfax says the encounters were consensual … and wants the FBI or others to investigate the accusations. …
“A vote on the resolution, which could come as soon as Tuesday if it is introduced Monday, would direct the House Committee for Courts of Justice to hold hearings on the allegations against Fairfax, with the support of legislative staff and state agencies. Such an investigation would be the precursor to a committee recommendation for impeachment and a vote of the full House. An attempt to impeach Fairfax appears unprecedented; there has been no attempt to impeach an elected official in the state in modern times … Tyson and Watson, who have separate legal representation, have indicated through their lawyers that they are willing to testify during impeachment proceedings.”
-- Democrats are struggling to find a path out of the political mess, Amy Gardner and Jenna Portnoy report from Richmond for today’s newspaper: “As a group, Virginia Democrats have publicly embraced their party’s zero tolerance for racism and sexual violence. … But privately, Democrats are divided, particularly about whether ousting Northam is best for their party. Some want to talk about how far Virginia has come from its painful, racist past. Others are uncomfortable about offering redemption to the two white men but not the African American man, who has vehemently denied the allegations. No one seems to know how to live by the rules their party has set on race and gender, or how to take the first step toward whatever comes next. …
“Democratic leaders have urged their colleagues not to talk about the scandals, and most lawmakers declined to speak on the record. … Several white lawmakers said privately that discussing the racial elements of the controversy is particularly tricky because no one feels comfortable forgiving behavior that African American lawmakers have condemned. … Black lawmakers have been particularly tight-lipped, holding long, closed-door meetings since the scandals began and leaving others to speculate that they, too, might be divided. Some white Democrats said they were surprised when the Legislative Black Caucus issued a statement late Thursday sticking with its earlier call for Northam’s resignation. …
“Several Democrats said it will be up to the state’s two Democratic U.S. senators, Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine — the closest thing the party has to senior statesmen — to find a way forward. Both senators sent senior aides to Richmond last week to try to calm lawmakers and put the scandals into perspective. But publicly, they have offered minimal input beyond their written statements. After a second Fairfax accuser came forward Friday, the two offered differing opinions, with Kaine demanding Fairfax’s resignation and Warner saying only that he should go ‘if’ the allegations are true. Warner’s caution may derive from his own political challenges; he faces reelection next year.”
-- “Virginia is a state that for historical reasons has always imagined its political institutions and leaders as possessed of special virtue. Now they are known for uncommon vice,” observes Politico editor in chief John Harris, who cut his teeth covering Richmond for The Post in the late 1980s. “The current era of politics, prone to media storms of the sort that threaten to swamp Northam and Fairfax, is especially hostile to heroic myths. But the shock of exposure is greater when—in contrast to more … obviously roguish politicians like Donald Trump—the disreputable behavior was obscured by a solemn façade. …
“Make no mistake: Virginia does indeed have a not-so-distant past steeped in systemic racial discrimination. But as writers like Frank B. Atkinson (who wrote the political history, ‘The Dynamic Dominion’) make clear, for the most part in the 20th century did not devolve into open racial warfare of the sort that took place in Mississippi, Alabama and other parts of the Deep South, and which later migrated to major cities of the North. The face of discrimination in Virginia—where leaders in the 1950s and beyond engaged in ‘massive resistance’ to avoid integrating the schools after the Supreme Court’s Brown decision—was more typically understated and shrouded in respectability. It came dressed in the well-starched suits of court house lawyers and pols for the Byrd Machine, which dominated state politics for decades, not the gaudy robes of Klansman. Respectable establishment racism, of course, is no better and arguably worse than more flamboyant other kinds.”
-- Welcome aboard: Mariana Alfaro joins The Daily 202 team this morning as an overnight researcher. She’ll work with Joanie Greve to help report out and sift through the most important news as it’s developing. Mariana comes to The Washington Post from Business Insider, where she’s been covering immigration and the 2020 campaign. She previously interned at the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, assigned to their metro sections. She also interned for the Texas Tribune and Salvadoran newspaper La Prensa Gráfica. Mariana, who grew up in El Salvador, received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. She served as the managing editor of the Daily Northwestern.
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- Country singer Kacey Musgraves won album of the year during last night's Grammy Awards. Despite featuring power people like Michelle Obama and Lady Gaga, this year's Grammys were defined by a long list of no-shows — including rap star Childish Gambino — who feel their sound has historically been undervalued by the people who pick the winners. Chris Richards reports: “The first glaring absence on Sunday night came during the presentation of song of the year, one of the most prestigious little gramophones in the bunch. The award went to 'This Is America' by Childish Gambino … but he wasn’t there to collect his prize. ... Despite leading the pack with the most nominations, Kendrick Lamar and Drake also declined respective invitations to perform on Sunday night. ... Rap remains the dominant pop idiom of the 21st century, but OutKast is the only rap act to have ever won album of the year, the most prestigious of all Grammys — and that happened way back in 2004. Fifteen years later, who could blame rap’s brightest lights for staying away from the microphone? ‘This Is America’ was the first rap tune to win song of the year. Ever. (Later, it won record of the year, too. Also a first.)” Here is the complete list of winners.
GET SMART FAST:
- Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), a fervent supporter of the Iraq War who later became one of its most outspoken critics, died on his 76th birthday. Jones was behind the push to rename french fries in House cafeterias “freedom fries” to penalize France for its opposition to the 2003 invasion. The 13-term iconoclastic lawmaker entered hospice care late last month after breaking his hip in a fall. (Felicia Sonmez)
- Pat Shanahan, the acting defense secretary, traveled to Afghanistan unannounced to meet with U.S. and Afghan leaders. The visit comes amid a push for peace with the Taliban. (AP)
- Since 1998, nearly 400 Southern Baptist church leaders and volunteers have been accused of sexual misconduct. An investigation by the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News found that the alleged abusers left behind more than 700 victims and that some of them were still able to find jobs in the church after being accused. (Houston Chronicle)
- Trump is scheduled to sign an executive order today designed to strengthen the United States’ global position in artificial intelligence. The American AI Initiative is a response to China's efforts to become the world leader in AI technology. (Axios)
- Americans frustrated with decreases in their tax refunds are venting on social media with the hashtag #GOPTaxScam. Most Americans saw a tax cut last year thanks to the bill Trump signed, but many have also received smaller refunds because of changes the legislation made to the tax code. The IRS reported Friday the average tax refund is down 8 percent, and the number of people getting a refund so far has decreased by almost a quarter. (Heather Long)
- Some unvaccinated teenagers are rebelling against their parents by trying to get shots on their own. While anti-vaccination movements gain strength amid disease outbreaks, some teens are forgoing their parents’ beliefs and getting vaccinated as soon as they turn 18. (Alex Horton)
- A decline in insect populations may have catastrophic consequences for the world's ecosystems. Insects are dying at a much faster rate than other animals — more than 40 percent of insect species are declining, and another third are endangered. Scientists believe the heavy use of pesticides is the main driver. (The Guardian)
- Australian authorities are demanding that Thailand release Bahraini soccer player Hakeem al-Araibi after he was arrested on his honeymoon. Bahrain sentenced Araibi to prison in absentia, but the dissident was granted asylum in Australia and says he would fear for his life if sent back. The case has reignited criticism of Australia’s handling of asylum cases. (Rick Noack and Siobhán O'Grady)
- Five minors between the ages of 12 and 16 were charged in the fatal shooting of musician Kyle Yorlets in Nashville. The group allegedly approached Yorlets and demanded his wallet and keys. After the singer and songwriter refused to turn them over, he was shot. (Alex Horton)
- Olympic gold medalist Lindsey Vonn completed her skiing career at the world Alpine championships. She finished in third place. (Cindy Boren)
-- The risk of a second government shutdown at the end of the week increased significantly after bipartisan negotiations fell apart. Erica Werner, Damian Paletta and Seung Min Kim report: “Trump’s border wall demands, which precipitated the record-long 35-day shutdown that ended late last month, were a secondary issue in the impasse that developed over the weekend, according to officials in both parties. Instead, after looking promising for days, the delicate negotiations collapsed over Democrats’ insistence on limiting the number of unauthorized immigrants who can be detained by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. The breakdown in talks made it unlikely that lawmakers will be able to finalize an agreement on Monday, as they’d hope to do so it could pass the House and Senate before Friday night’s deadline. …
“The stalemate left the path to keeping the government open unclear. There were behind-the-scenes efforts late Sunday to salvage the talks, but it was uncertain whether they would be successful. … Another funding lapse could affect many Americans within days because one of the agencies that would go unfunded during the shutdown is the Internal Revenue Service … Lawmakers on the 17-member conference committee had been trading offers over how much money could go to barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border. They were looking at between $1.3 billion and $2 billion — far short of the $5.7 billion Trump had demanded. … But throughout the talks, Democrats had also been focused on limiting ICE’s ability to detain unauthorized immigrants, which has become a major issue for the party because of Democrats’ opposition to the Trump administration’s aggressive detention tactics.”
-- Key lawmakers plan to meet Monday afternoon in a late-stage bid to revive talks, per Erica and Damian: “House Appropriations Committee Chairman Nita M. Lowey (D-N.Y.), Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.), Rep. Kay Granger (R-Tex.) and Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) will attend the meeting, two congressional aides said.”
-- Pentagon officials met over the weekend to decide which Army Corps of Engineers projects could be “tapped for money” in case the president declares a state of emergency to build the wall. The New York Times's Emily Cochrane, Maggie Haberman and Eric Schmitt report: “One proposal circulating among some WH officials, including those close to Stephen Miller, the president’s top domestic policy adviser, is to claim that the wall would be built to protect the more than 5,000 active-duty troops now operating near the southwestern border.”
-- California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) will pull around 360 National Guard troops from the state’s border with Mexico days after Trump labeled Central American refugees and migrants traveling there a “national security crisis.” From the Los Angeles Times’s Jazmine Ulloa and Taryn Luna: “The announcement comes just one day before the governor delivers his first State of the State address … setting the stage for Newsom to counter Trump’s State of the Union address ... Newsom says he is giving the National Guard a new mission so that troops would not take part in the White House’s ‘political theater’ and instead ‘refocus on the real threats facing our state.’ … ‘The Border “emergency” is a manufactured crisis,’ Newsom is expected to say Tuesday … ‘This is our answer to the White House: No more division, xenophobia or nativism.’”
-- Workers harmed by the last shutdown are dreading the damage another one could cause. Vicki Ibarra, for example, needed to go thousands of dollars in debt after working at the IRS for 16 years. Eli Saslow and Jabin Botsford tell her story: “Ibarra, 45, had built her adult life on the principle of self-sufficiency — raising two children by herself, adopting her teenage niece, devoting her career to a government job because it promised meaningful work and 9-to-5 dependability. The salary was modest at about $35,000 a year, so she often stayed late to work overtime. ... Even if she sometimes needed an extension on her rent, she’d spent 25 years in the same two-bedroom house, where a small sign was posted on a bedroom wall: ‘Get up and go get it!’ That was the person she had been right up until the government shutdown began at 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 22, forcing her to miss one paycheck and then another, leaving her with no income for the first time since she turned 18.”
-- The threat of another shutdown has left some wondering whether more airports should turn to private contractors rather than TSA for security. Lori Aratani reports: “Although the private screeners are contractors, they were paid during the shutdown when other government contractors were not because they were considered essential personnel, and failure to pay them would have violated their contract. Evaluations of the two programs by outside firms hired by the TSA have found no significant differences between the two systems — either in cost or the ability to move passengers through checkpoints, TSA officials said. However, studies by the Government Accountability Office note that in some instances private contractors’ costs were 2 percent to 19 percent lower than the TSA’s estimates of its costs for the same work.”
-- Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar became the latest Democrat to enter the 2020 presidential field. Chelsea Janes and Matt Viser report: “Klobuchar held her rally at a park on the banks of the Mississippi River, near the site of the 2007 collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge, in which 13 people were killed and scores were injured. The bridge was quickly rebuilt in 2008, after politicians and officials, including the senator, came together to expedite the construction process. The intended takeaway of its role as the emotional heart of her speech: Klobuchar is someone who will get things done. ‘That sense of community is fracturing across our nation right now, worn down by the petty and vicious nature of our politics. We are all tired of the shutdowns and the showdowns, the gridlock and the grandstanding,’ Klobuchar said.”
Klobuchar’s “entry into the race came at an outside event at which the bareheaded candidate, her introductory speakers and hundreds of supporters were pelted by relentless snow. She sought to use that, too, as defining her candidacy. ‘We don’t let a little snow stop us! We don’t let a lot of cold stop us!’ Klobuchar said as she started her speech.”
-- But stories about Klobuchar being a bad boss have cast a pall over her campaign launch. Politico’s Elena Schneider reports: “Klobuchar’s campaign released statements saying she ‘loves her staff,’ citing aides who have ‘been with her for years.’ But Klobuchar’s campaign has not denied any of the specific allegations detailed in recent news stories, and Democrats in the first caucus state of Iowa — where Klobuchar hopes to make a splash in a crowded 2020 field — have said the senator’s treatment of staff has the potential to sideswipe her campaign.”
-- Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet implied he may enter the crowded 2020 field. Robert Costa reports: “‘We’ve got a million people that are going to run, which I think is great,’ Bennet (Colo.) said Sunday on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press.’ But, he added, ‘I think having one more voice in that conversation that’s focused on America’s future, I don’t think would hurt.’ Bennet, 54, cast himself as a centrist Democrat who would bring business and managerial experience to the crowded field, should he decide to run. … ‘I’ve got a different set of experiences than the other folks in the race, many of whom are my friends and people that I like,’ Bennet said.”
-- Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), a critic of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), is also thinking about joining the field. Moulton told BuzzFeed News that, although he is not definitely running, he is taking a “very serious look at it. Because I believe it's time for a new generation of leadership, and we gotta send Donald Trump packing.”
-- Taking her first direct shot at Trump since she formally launched her campaign, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said the president “may not even be a free person” in 2020. David Weigel and Felicia Sonmez report: “Warren had not previously hinted that the scandals surrounding the president could keep him from seeking a second term. On her previous trip to Iowa, she rarely mentioned Trump by name. But her campaign, which has faced more direct attacks from Trump than other Democratic candidates, appears to see the question about Trump’s own viability as way to stop engaging with everything he says. Asked to expand on her comments later in the day, Warren quipped: ‘Come on, how many investigations are there now? It’s no longer just the Mueller investigation, they’re everywhere. And these are serious investigations.’”
-- The controversies in Virginia and those surrounding Warren’s 2020 campaign rollout have one thing in common: They've highlighted how much the national discourse is influenced by identity politics. Matt Viser and Sean Sullivan report: “Democrats are engaged in a vigorous debate over how to talk about identity politics at a time when the country’s growing diversity is scrambling the electoral map, and as a diverse field is gathering to run for president. President Trump engaged in his own brand of identity politics before his White House tenure, tapping into white grievance and exploiting racial tensions as a political weapon against nonwhites. ... Amid the tumult resulting from the two distinct but simultaneous controversies, some see a hard-earned benefit: a more frank discussion of the nation’s past.”
-- Steve Schmidt, a former senior strategist for John McCain’s 2008 campaign who is now advising Howard Schultz, stormed out of an interview for his own podcast after a co-host pressed him on the former Starbucks CEO’s independent bid. The Daily Beast’s Eleanor Clift reports: “Elise Jordan, an alumnus of the George W. Bush White House and the Rand Paul presidential campaign, outlined the ground rules that everything would be on the record, and that Schmidt would be treated no differently than any other guest even though he was a founder of Words Matter, along with Jordan and [Adam] Levine, another Bush veteran … Schmidt railed at having to defend himself on his podcast with a stream of curses a source present in the studio said consumed six minutes. … ‘Steve, you’ve got to answer the questions,’ Levine says. ‘I’m not,’ and with that Schmidt slams down his headset and abruptly ends the interview. He threatened legal action against the studio if the interview airs, according to a source involved in the discussion. When his legal threat failed, he offered to buy the recording, according to the source. The studio refused.”
THERE’S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:
-- Michael Sanchez — the brother of Lauren Sanchez, who was having an extramarital affair with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos — supplied their text messages to the National Enquirer, according to the Daily Beast’s Lachlan Markay. “Still unresolved: why Sanchez allegedly supplied the information to the Enquirer; why the Enquirer promoted a story about Bezos with such vigor; [and] what, if anything this had to do with the Enquirer’s long-standing support for Trump … [Documents] show that Michael Sanchez believed the Enquirer pursued its story about Bezos with ‘President Trump's knowledge and appreciation’—a chase encouraged, in Sanchez’s estimation, by Republican operatives ‘who THINK Jeff gets up every morning and has a WaPo meeting to plot its next diabolical attack on President Trump.’”
-- An attorney for David Pecker, the CEO of American Media Inc., denied that the company’s National Enquirer attempted to extort Bezos, who owns The Washington Post. Amy B Wang reports: “‘It absolutely is not extortion and not blackmail,’ [attorney Elkan] Abramowitz told ‘This Week’ host George Stephanopoulos. Instead, Abramowitz insisted, what AMI was doing was journalism. He also suggested that it was Bezos who threatened the tabloid by insinuating its moves were somehow being directed by Saudi Arabia. … [Stephanopoulos asked,] ‘If you believe the photos are newsworthy, how is it journalism to say we’re not going to publish this if you give us something we want?’ Abramowitz argued that the story of Bezos’s affair with Sanchez was already ‘out there.’ … ABC chief legal analyst Dan Abrams disagreed later on the show, noting AMI was threatening to publish photos that had not yet been released. Whether that constituted legal blackmail or extortion was less clear.”
-- House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said his panel intends to investigate Trump’s long-standing business ties to Deutsche Bank, which has been implicated in Russian money laundering. Greg Miller reports: “‘We are not interested in our committee in whether he’s a tax cheat or not worth what he says he is,’ [Schiff] said in an appearance on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press.’ ‘What we are interested in is, does the president have business dealings with Russia such that it compromises the United States?’ … Schiff voiced concern that [special counsel Bob] Mueller has shied away from investigating Trump’s ties to the German lender, saying that ‘if the special counsel hasn’t subpoenaed Deutsche Bank, he can’t be doing much of a money laundering investigation.’”
-- Comments made last week by one of Mueller's lead prosecutors during a closed-door hearing seem to suggest that people in Trump's orbit considered offering Moscow relief from some U.S. sanctions and sought to end a conflict sparked by Russia's 2014 invasion of Ukraine. By the New York Times’s Sharon LaFraniere, Kenneth P. Vogel and Scott Shane: “The theory was offered almost as an aside by the prosecutor, Andrew Weissmann, during a discussion of contacts between Mr. Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and a longtime Russian associate, Konstantin V. Kilimnik, whom investigators have linked to Russian intelligence. ... Mr. Manafort and Mr. Kilimnik repeatedly communicated about a so-called peace plan for Ukraine starting in early August 2016, while Mr. Manafort was still running Mr. Trump’s campaign, and continuing into 2018, months after Mr. Manafort had been charged by the special counsel’s office with a litany of crimes related to his work in the country.”
-- The wife of Putin's spokesman faces U.S. tax questions. Tatiana Navka, a former Olympic champion, might have failed to declare her true income and may owe unpaid property tax. By the Guardian's Luke Harding and Jon Swaine: Navka “appears to have wrongly claimed a potentially beneficial US tax status, according to an investigation by the Guardian. Court papers suggest she separately built up tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid property taxes on a house she told US authorities she had already sold. Navka lived and trained in the US for more than a decade. ... Navka declined to answer specific questions from the Guardian about her US tax affairs. She said: ‘In your previous newspaper article you didn’t use my answers and commentary, which I sent. Apparently, your newspaper doesn’t strive for objectivity. Consequently I don’t see the point of further answering your questions.’”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Trump once again espoused a baseless argument about climate change as Klobuchar launched her campaign amid a blizzard:
Klobuchar responded to the president’s dig:
A Post reporter provided a live look from Klobuchar’s launch:
A CNN reporter shared a photo of some of Klobuchar’s youngest supporters:
A potential 2020 contender applauded one of his possible opponents:
Beto O’Rourke will headline a protest a mile away from Trump’s rally tonight in Texas. He and his daughter encouraged their fellow El Paso residents to attend what organizers are calling a “March for Truth”:
In a tweet backing Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. sent humanitarian aid to Venezuela.
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) suggested Republican support for Israel is fueled by donations from AIPAC. Democratic Rep. Max Rose (N.Y.) chastised his fellow freshman:
So did Chelsea Clinton:
Former first lady Michelle Obama shared a behind-the-scenes photo from the Grammys:
21 Savage was detained by ICE a week ago. Artists spoke about the rapper on the Grammys red carpet:
As the first anniversary of the shooting in Parkland, Fla., approaches, NBC News shared stories of those who lost a loved one on Feb. 14, 2018:
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
-- ESPN, “Bob Costas, unplugged: From NBC and broadcast icon to dropped from the Super Bowl,” by Mark Fainaru-Wada: “In December 2015, the movie ‘Concussion’ was set for a Christmas Day release in nearly 3,000 theaters across America. The film told the story of the NFL's attempts to discredit research tying brain damage to football, and Bob Costas wanted to address it on national television. … Costas sent the essay to his bosses for approval, something he typically did not do -- and waited. What would ensue that week -- and in the years that followed -- reveals for the first time how a broadcasting icon went from fronting America's most popular sport to being excised from last year's Super Bowl and, ultimately, ending his nearly 40-year career with NBC.”
-- New York Times, “A Princess Vanishes. A Video Offers Alarming Clues,” by Vivian Yee: “The princess known as Sheikha Latifa had not left Dubai, the glittering emirate ruled by her father, in 18 years. … Her escape — planned over several years with the help of a Finnish capoeira trainer and a self-proclaimed French ex-spy — lasted less than a week. Within a few days of setting sail on the Indian Ocean in the Frenchman’s yacht, bound for India and then the United States, the sheikha went silent. She has not been seen since, except in a few photos released in December by her family, which says she is safely home after surviving what they said was a kidnapping. Yet thanks to the video she made before fleeing, her face and voice have made their way around the world, drawing more than two million views on YouTube, spurring avid news coverage and marring Dubai’s image as a world capital of glitz and commerce.”
-- Wall Street Journal, “Politics Is a Dirty Business—Starting with the Rats at Los Angeles City Hall,” by Ian Lovett: “Public servants arrive some mornings to find tiny paw prints, nibbled plants, even droppings and puddles on their desks. Los Angeles City Clerk Holly Wolcott was chased from her office by a rat the size of an opossum, and her staff found a dead rodent inside a copy machine. A deputy city attorney is on leave after contracting typhus. ... The iconic 26-story Los Angeles City Hall building has had its share of unwelcome visitors over the past 90 years. Municipal employees say the building’s current rat infestation has grown in recent months from a gnawing problem to a potential public-health crisis.”
HOT ON THE LEFT:
“Protesters Raise Funds To Transport Trump Baby Blimp In Time For President’s El Paso Rally,” from HuffPost: “In less than a day, activists from El Paso raised enough money to transport the mocking Donald Trump baby blimp to the Texas city in time for the president’s first campaign rally of the year on Monday, which is expected to center on his demand for border wall funding. The ‘Baby Trump Does El Paso’ GoFundMe page had $4,086 as of Friday, easily meeting a $3,500 goal. Extra funds will be donated to the Annunciation House in El Paso, a nonprofit that provides support to immigrants. The GoFundMe campaign’s organizer, Laura Valdez, noted in a post that the blimp was ‘already on its way’ from California.”
HOT ON THE RIGHT:
“Rob Lowe deletes tweet saying Elizabeth Warren would redefine the term Commander in ‘Chief,’” from Kristine Phillips: “Actor Rob Lowe was skewered on social media because of a now-deleted tweet in which he said [Elizabeth Warren] ‘would bring a whole new meaning to Commander in “Chief”’ — a jab at the Democratic senator for claiming to be Native American. The tweet came shortly after Warren formally launched her presidential bid Saturday. Lowe deleted the tweet a few hours later, saying ‘some peeps got upset’ at his joke. … Some critics on social media pointed out that Lowe did not apologize. On Saturday, Twitter users pounced, with some resurrecting a 30-year-old sex-tape scandal that nearly ended Lowe’s career.”
Trump will have lunch with Pence and sign an executive order on “Maintaining American Leadership in Artificial Intelligence” before traveling to El Paso for his campaign rally.
Fox News's Laura Ingraham will air an interview with Trump at 10 p.m. Eastern time.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“Because I did not do my job then, I helped kill 4,000 Americans, and I will go to my grave regretting that.” — Rep. Walter Jones in 2015. (News & Observer)
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- A cold, wintry mess will hit town with some light rain. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “After a slick start to Monday, we transition from an icy rain to a cold rain. But tonight, our colder areas could see another round of iciness. Tuesday, like Monday, is dismal and cold, with rainy 30s. We finally dry out Wednesday and Thursday before another shot of rain Friday.”
-- Federal offices in the Washington area and many public school districts will open two hours late because of the weather. Find the full list here.
-- Mayor Muriel Bowser’s nominee to lead D.C. Public Schools, Lewis Ferebee, will have his final council hearing tomorrow. Perry Stein reports: “Since January, he has led a school system of about 49,000 students while trying to gain public support for his nomination, striving to show residents he is the right educator for the job. For Ferebee, who never worked for the D.C. school system before becoming the most powerful man in it, that means guarding any agenda he may — or may not — have. So he’s posing questions to teachers and students on school visits. To education leaders and activists at evening community meetings. To families at neighborhood meet-and-greets. And then, he says, he’s listening.”
-- Two men are facing hate crime charges for allegedly targeting transgender women during 2016 robberies that resulted in the death of Deeniquia “Dee Dee” Dodds. Keith L. Alexander reports: “Both are charged with first-degree murder while armed, conspiracy, robbery and other counts. Prosecutors added hate crime enhancements to the charges, saying the men targeted transgender women. In opening statements, Assistant U.S. Attorney Ahmed Baset outlined the crimes and what he called ‘the sheer brutality that these four men unleashed on the transgender community of Washington, D.C.’”
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Alicia Keys brought some surprise guests onstage during the Grammys.
In her acceptance speech for best new artist, British singer Dua Lipa subtly hit back at Recording Academy President Neil Portnow, who last year responded to criticism of the lack of female artists at the Grammys by suggesting that women had to “step up.”
SNL dedicated its cold open to allegations that the National Enquirer attempted to blackmail Jeff Bezos:
SNL also delineated all of the circumstances under which blackface is wrong:
A young girl in China had to be rescued from the panda enclosure at a zoo:
And freezing temperatures created this vivid scene: