Welcome to day 27 of the government shutdown. A total of 800,000 federal workers have missed, on average, $5,000 in pay so far due to the shutdown, per the New York Times. That's over $200 million total per workday. Tips, comments, stories? Reach out. Thanks for waking up with us.
A RUDY UPDATE: President Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani appeared on CNN last night and claimed that he "never said there was no collusion” between Trump's campaign and Russia leading up to the 2016 presidential election. “I said [there was no collusion with the] president of the United States,” Giuliani added. “There is not a single bit of evidence the president of the United States committed the only crime you can commit here, conspired with the Russians to hack the DNC.” Watch the remarkable exchange here.
At the White House
"HE BELIEVES WHAT HE BELIEVES”: That's what Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-Tex.), who met with President Trump at the White House on Wednesday along with a handful of his colleagues from the “Problem Solvers Caucus,” told Power Up about the president's “very serious misconceptions of the border.”
- “He mentioned, 'I don’t even know why we have ports of entry. You can just drive down the border and turn left into the U.S.' . . . I think he’s convinced himself that that’s what the border is,” Gonzalez told us. “I was listening to him today. He makes a lot of comments that are so untrue. But I believe that he actually believes them.”
- Trump's convictions about the southern border aren't just something he talks about privately, but repeatedly touts publicly. See journalist Daniel Dale's 52-item false claim list on immigration made by Trump in just the last week.
Entrenched: Unlike his colleagues who turned down the president's invitation to meet earlier in the week, Gonzalez showed up in “good faith” along with Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), Anthony Brindisi (D-N.Y.), Dean Phillips (D-Minn.), Max Rose (D-N.Y.) and Abigail Spanberger (D-Va). The Democrats proposed opening the government for 30 days to try to negotiate a solution to Trump's demands for $5.7 billion for a border wall while furloughed employees get back to work. (The proposal is similar to one by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Trump promptly rejected the idea).
But Trump responded that he is opposed to reopening the government without a guarantee that negotiations would result with a “physical barrier.” Gonzalez added that Trump believes he's “winning” the shutdown standoff.
- Not so much: A new poll out this morning from NPR/NBC News/Marist found that Trump's approval rating is down by a net of 7 points since December, when the shutdown began. Currently, 39 percent of respondents approve of Trump (down from 42 percent last month) and 53 percent disapprove (down from 49 percent in December).
- The poll showed him dropping significantly with his base: Among suburban men, Trump dropped a net of 18 points to a disapproval rating of 48 percent from 39 percent; down a net of 14 points with white evangelicals; and down 10 points with Republicans, from an approval rating last month of 90 to 83 percent.
- More from Gonzalez: “There's a lot of pressure in people's districts of folks not working and folks not getting paid so at a minimum, we had the responsibility to meet with the president, see where we are and whether or we could push this negotiation. But he's clearly very entrenched on wanting a border barrier, which is very tough sell for a lot of members in Congress — both Democrats and Republicans.”
Alternative reality; Alternative facts: Gonzalez described the meeting including Vice President Pence, acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, senior adviser Jared Kushner, and press secretary Sarah Sanders as “positive and constructive.” But a senior GOP Hill aide told Power Up that they hadn't caught wind of any movement of a deal “in over a week.”
Brookings Institution's William Galston told Power Up he doesn't foresee an end to the shutdown until Trump delegates negotiations to people in his White House or party who are “at least prepared to negotiate on the basis of a common set of facts with the people on the other side of all of this.”
- “Trump has changed the terms of just about everything,” Galston said. “He brought with him into the White House a handful of conclusions and propensities that he had been developing for decades and I can’t think of anything in the external world that would be likely to change his mind about any of these things. And the wall is not the only example of fixed ideas in the Oval Office serving as a buffer against a contradictory reality.”
Trump is operating under the self-perception that he's winning. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) thinks otherwise, feeling confident enough to raise the stakes by sending a letter urging the president to postpone the “State of the Union” address to Congress because of the shutdown. The Post's Paul Kane, Philip Rucker and Josh Dawsey write that Pelosi's new and more confrontational approach and “self-declared mandate to provide a check on the president’s power . . . is helping to keep Democrats largely united while energizing liberals who have yearned for a leader to challenge Trump directly.”
- The key quote: “She understands political leverage. She wields the knife,” Josh Holmes, an adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), said.
- “Privately, one adviser said, Trump has complained about the quotes he reads from Pelosi about him in newspapers but has said he is impressed by her political savvy,” The Post reports.
- “We are getting crushed!” The NYT's Maggie Haberman and Annie Karni report Trump told Mulvaney after watching some recent coverage of the shutdown.“Why can’t we get a deal?”
- Officials told The Post's Robert Costa the White House "would much rather be fighting in a public drama with Speaker Pelosi on SOTU than in engaging with moderate gripes about the shutdown. [White House] push is to hold line, blame Dems, carry on, despite mounting concerns about shutdown's fallout.”
Individual 1 will not be permitted to deliver his state of the union address until government is reopened.— Hakeem Jeffries (@RepJeffries) January 16, 2019
Welcome to life in the New Democratic Majority.
Get used to it.#EndTrumpShutdownhttps://t.co/DaoaW58x8A
“IT’S A HUMANITARIAN EMERGENCY”: The financial hardships are mounting for real people as the shutdown stretches on. White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett admitted on Fox Business Network earlier this week the economic consequences of the funding impasse are more negative than the White House originally anticipated, per CNN’s Lydia DePillis.
- “We've been watching the actual effects, and noticing that the impact that we see on government contractors is bigger than the sort of staff rule of thumb anticipated,” Hassett said Tuesday. “And we subsequently, right now, think that it's about a tenth of a percent a week, not a tenth of a percent every two weeks.”
Not far from the White House and even closer to the Trump International Hotel, chef José Andrés opened a relief site to feed furloughed federal employees hit hard by the shutdown:
The Times’s Noah Weiland reports: “I’ve never felt the pervasive sense of hopelessness that I feel now,” Carrie Wilder, a single mother on the verge of tears doing clerical work without pay for the Justice Department told Weiland. “She recently began asking her mother, 77, for money after she depleted savings she had accumulated since the government shutdown in 2013. ‘I am watching the news every 10 minutes praying that something happens, because we cannot take any more,’ said Ms. Wilder, one of many affected earning an annual salary of around $50,000.”
“Is this a political emergency? No. It’s a humanitarian emergency,” Andrés told Weiland in an interview as he prepped the kitchen opening.
See here for The Post’s reporting on some of the other hundreds of thousands of people feeling the strain of the shutdown.
Meanwhile, the Transportation Security Administration “has seen a sharp increase in absenteeism since the funding impasse began on Dec. 22, particularly after workers missed their first paycheck last Friday,” Bloomberg’s Alan Levin reports. “In a news release Wednesday on checkpoint operations, the agency said, “many employees are reporting that they are not able to report to work due to financial limitations.”
And federal workers are dipping into their retirement funds — “hardship withdrawals” — to pay the bills, per Bloomberg's Brandon Kochkodin.
IS THIS WHAT VICTORY LOOKS LIKE?: When Pence took the stage yesterday to address the Global Chiefs of Mission Conference at the State Department, he brought with him some good news about Syria: “We are bringing our troops home,” he told the auditorium full of diplomats. “The caliphate has crumbled, and ISIS has been defeated.”
The only problem is, shortly before Pence’s remarks, military officials confirmed that four Americans were killed in a suicide bombing in Syria for which the Islamic State claimed credit. Pence had apparently been briefed on the assault before he delivered his speech, and he later issued a statement acknowledging the fatalities.
But this isn’t the first time a U.S. leader’s proclamation of victory over the Islamic State has raised eyebrows. Last month, Trump also declared the military group defeated before suddenly announcing the withdrawal of 2,000 U.S. troops currently stationed in Syria.
After both Trump’s and Pence’s comments, Republicans on Capitol Hill struck a discordant tone, wrote The Post’s Carol Morello. Some of their remarks here:
- Sen. Graham: “My concern by the statements made by President Trump is that you have set in motion enthusiasm by the enemy we’re fighting … So I would hope the president would look long and hard of where he’s headed in Syria. … Every American wants our troops to come home, but I now think all of us want to make sure that when they do come home, we’re safe.”
- Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.): “If true, it is a tragic reminder that ISIS has not been defeated and is transforming into a dangerous insurgency. This is no time to retreat from the fight against ISIS. Will only embolden & strengthen (sp) them.”
- Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Tex.): “Today’s deadly bombing targeting our troops in Syria is a reminder that ISIS still has the capacity to carry out attacks.”
'A POLITICAL EARTHQUAKE': British Prime Minister Theresa May narrowly survived a vote of no-confidence in parliament just a day after her Brexit deal suffered the worst defeat for a prime minister in the country’s modern political history. “Normally, a British leader who the previous day had lost a vote on her government’s most important legislation by such a margin … might be expected to resign or be swept away,” wrote The Post’s William Booth and Karla Adam. “But these are not normal times.” Now, May must present lawmakers with a withdrawal “Plan B” — even though there is fundamental disagreement about what Brexit should look like, or whether it should happen at all.
During a meeting of the Atlantic Council, an international relations think tank, former British ambassador to the United States Sir Peter Westmacott offered his assessment: “This is a political earthquake, I would say, in the United Kingdom. Never in recent time has a governing party lost a motion of any kind, let alone one of existential importance like this by as much as 230 votes.”
The ex-ambassador also drew comparisons between current U.S. and U.K. politics:
- “There is a remarkable similarity in terms of the tensions and divisions that have been thrown up over recent months and years [in the United States and the United Kingdom],” Westmacott said. “Between what you might call the globalist internationalists, many of whom have done pretty well materially in life over the last few years since the financial meltdown of 2008, and the left behind category, who have become resentful of political leadership but also nervous about globalization, about China eating their lunch, about stagnate incomes, and so on.”
Here’s the breakdown of the votes on Theresa May’s Brexit deal and the vote of no confidence against her.— Financial Times (@FinancialTimes) January 17, 2019
Also, see how each MP voted on our interactive page: https://t.co/pb8grwb8qB pic.twitter.com/BxvmoW0xJs
BREXIT AND US: Sure, it's happening 4,000 miles away, but in the age of globalization, the Brexit mess has major international consequences. So Power Up asked Adam Taylor, Post foreign reporter, to walk us through how Britain's withdrawal would affect the United States. Here's Adam:
- “To an American reader, Brexit may seem like a distant — and perhaps, amusingly alien — national disaster. But Britain's tortuous path out of the European Union may well have an impact on those in the United States too. After the defeat of May's withdrawal agreement this week, the chance of a 'no deal' Brexit — where Britain leaves the E.U. without a new trade deal on March 29 — is increased.”
- “If Britain can't get a deal, it will revert to World Trade Organization rules on its borders and ports of entry. This would largely affect trade, but it may also [pose] problems for travelers; there have been warnings [of] 'millions of passengers potentially grounded in airports unable to take a flight.'"
- “There could be bigger economic knock-on effects. The governor of the Bank of England has said that a no-deal Brexit could cause [an] economic crisis that would rival the crash of 2008. American regulators have warned that U.S. companies are already being effected by Brexit and said that investors may be undervaluing the shock that a 'no deal' Brexit would cause.”
- “Brexit has already weakened the traditional 'special relationship' between Westminster and Washington — Britain is simply too preoccupied by its European woes to serve much use backing the United States up on the world stage. And though May had hoped to tie herself to Trump — 'Mr. Brexit,' in his own words — their relationship has broken down.”
- “But if May is replaced by her left-leaning rival, Jeremy Corbyn, things could go further south. The Labour Party leader has made it clear he has little time for Trump, who he has branded a 'rich, white' man with a 'fake anti-elitism.' If Corbyn can oust May, as he tried to this week, it will be he who is charged with negotiating a bilateral trade deal with Trump.”
On The Hill
@AOC (2.42M FOLLOWERS): Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) is giving her less tech-savvy Democratic colleagues a Twitter lesson this morning. USA Today's Eliza Collins reports the House Democratic Policy and Communications. Committee is hosting the session "on the most effective ways to engage constituents on Twitter and the importance of digital storytelling." Ocasio-Cortez will lead the discussion along with Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.)
The Post's Elise Viebeck interviewed Ocasio-Cortez about her newfound status as the right's obsession and main Twitter target. "Commentators and politicians have criticized her intelligence, her clothing, even her claims of working-class roots. There are new examples all the time," Viebeck points out.
- Zing: “It’s encouraging because this is my sixth day in Congress and they’re out of all their artillery,” she told Viebeck in a recent interview. “The nude is supposed to be like the bazooka. You know, like, ‘We’re going to take her down.’ Dude, you’re all out of bullets, you’re all out of bombs, you’re all out of all this stuff. What have you got left?'”
- Counterpoint: Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Tex.) said Ocasio-Cortez overstates Republicans’ ire directed at her. . . “We don’t care and stop accusing us of caring,” he told Viebeck about a dancing video released from her days as a college student. “No GOP member has said anything as far as I’m aware . . . Don’t paint the whole other side like that just because you got a mean tweet and now you’re like, ‘Now the whole GOP thinks that.’ That’s not true. I don’t do that to you, so don’t do it to me.”
'WASHINGTON IS AMAZED': The Post's Karen Tumulty brought to our attention the headline that it was President Woodrow Wilson who scrapped the tradition of delivering the "State of the Union" to Congress in writing in favor of delivering it in person, a tradition last practiced in 1801!
- "All official Washington was agape last night over the decision of the President to go back to the long-abadnoned custom. Strangely enough, there was little criticism of what the President intends to do. The absence of any strictures on his course may be due, however, to the fact that senators and representatives are too astonished over what some of them regard as a startling move to give any coherent expression to their views," the article reads.