Opinion writer

* Natalie Andrews and Michael Bender report on the conflicting messages Trump is getting from his aides:

Inside the West Wing, senior officials have been aiming to make clear to the president that “this isn’t just a messaging war anymore,” and that he’s “playing with live ammunition,” according to White House officials with knowledge of the conversations.

Top White House officials are concerned that the president hasn’t yet internalized the severity of 800,000 federal workers missing paychecks, one official said.

“There’s going to have to be a reality check moment that what he signs might not be what he’s been saying he needs,” the official said. “I don’t see how this can stretch much longer without becoming disastrous for everyone.”

Those still supporting the president’s resolve were urging patience from West Wing colleagues. Another official likened the shutdown fight to turning an aircraft carrier: It will take time. This official said Mr. Trump’s trip to the border last week, and his tweets pointing out Democrats weren’t in Washington, D.C., over the weekend were helping in the battle for public opinion.

“Will the sane people convince Trump to face reality?” is not usually a question that has a hopeful answer.

* Jonathan O'Connell and David Fahrenthold have the latest tale from Trump's Washington:

Last April, telecom giant T-Mobile announced a megadeal: a $26 billion merger with rival Sprint, which would more than double T-Mobile’s value and give it a huge new chunk of the cellphone market.

But for T-Mobile, one hurdle remained: Its deal needed approval from the Trump administration.

The next day, in Washington, staffers at the Trump International Hotel were handed a list of incoming “VIP Arrivals.” That day’s list included nine of T-Mobile’s top executives — including its chief operating officer, chief technology officer, chief strategy officer, chief financial officer and its outspoken celebrity chief executive, John Legere.

They were scheduled to stay between one and three days. But it was not their last visit.

Instead, T-Mobile executives have returned to President Trump’s hotel repeatedly since then, according to eyewitnesses and hotel documents obtained by The Washington Post.

Everybody knows how this works. If you want something from the government you’ve got to grease the boss' palms.

* O'Connell and Fahrenthold also report that the General Services Administration's inspector general has issued a report saying the GSA ignored warnings that Trump's federal government lease for his Washington hotel might violate the emoluments clause.

* David Drucker reports on how Mitch McConnell is trying to avoid conflict with Trump, in a bid to avert chaos and save his majority in 2020.

* New data from the Pew Research center show how far apart Democrats and Republicans are in their views of the shutdown and the wall.

* Daniel Dale fact-checks Trump's lurid tales about women being violently kidnapped and brought to the border. Of course, he's completely full of it.

* Jason Sattler offers five reasons Trump might want to shut down the government that have nothing to do with his wall Trump.

* Eugene Scott looks at the conservative freakout over a Gillette ad telling them not to be jerks, and how it relates to Trump's support.

* Peter Beinart explains how Nancy Pelosi is following the playbook she wrote when she dealt with George W. Bush.

* Emily Tamkin and Alexis Levinson report that Israel could become a contentious topic of debate in the 2020 Democratic primaries.

* Emily Stewart looks at Maxine Waters' agenda now that she’s chair of the House FInancial Services Committee.

* Garrett Graff says that given all we've learned, if Trump isn't a Russian agent the implications are even more horrifying than if he is.

* And Beto O’Rourke is writing some Kerouac-style musings about his travels, which you may find either charming or weird.