SHUTDOWN COUNTDOWN. “Chances of a government shutdown grew […] as Republicans concluded that they would be unable to pass a long-term spending bill by the Friday deadline,” the Washington Post reports. “GOP leaders are now turning to a short-term funding measure in hopes of keeping agencies open while talks continue, but Democratic leaders say they are unlikely to support any deal that does not protect young illegal immigrants.”
New York Times reports that some politicians in both parties are wondering if a government shutdown over the dreamers will hurt their party more. “With their party controlling the White House and both chambers of Congress, they could receive most of the blame for a shutdown, even if Senate Democrats effectively block a spending plan that does not extend the immigrant protections … “To believe that you can successfully blame Democrats for a shutdown over the DACA debate is naïve,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina.”
Graham said the immigration debate has turned into an “shit show,” lamenting what he said was President Trump’s abrupt change in tone on the topic last week, Politico reports. Said Graham: “This has turned into an s-show, and we need to get back to being a great country where Democrats and Republicans work together to do something that we should have done years ago.”
SCOOP: Mueller has subpoenaed Steve Bannon to testify before a grand jury as part of the ongoing Russia investigation. First person in Trump's inner circle known to have received a grand jury subpoena. https://t.co/dbKWuDjdMp
— Michael S. Schmidt (@nytmike) January 16, 2018
BANNON GETS A GRAND JURY SUBPOENA. Former Trump adviser Stephen Bannon was subpoenaed by special counsel Robert Mueller “to testify before a grand jury as part of the investigation into possible links between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia,” the New York Times reports. “The move marked the first time Mr. Mueller is known to have used a grand jury subpoena to seek information from a member of Mr. Trump’s inner circle.”
“The subpoena could be a negotiating tactic. Mr. Mueller is likely to allow Mr. Bannon to forgo the grand jury appearance if he agrees to instead be questioned by investigators in the less formal setting of the special counsel’s offices in Washington… But it was not clear why Mr. Mueller treated Mr. Bannon differently than the dozen administration officials who were interviewed in the final months of last year and were never served with a subpoena.”
“Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon broke some bad news to House investigators on Tuesday, announcing that the White House has invoked executive privilege to keep him from answering many of their questions,” the Daily Beast reports.
“But executive privilege—the president’s right to keep certain information from the public so he can have frank conversations with aides—will not keep Steve Bannon from sharing information with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team, according to a person familiar with the situation.” Said the source: “Mueller will hear everything Bannon has to say.”
MORE DETAILS ON TRUMP’S RACIST AMBUSH IN THE OVAL: The Washington Post has fascinating details from last week’s Oval Office meeting on immigration. “Trump told the group he wasn’t interested in the terms of the bipartisan deal that Durbin and Graham had been putting together. And as he shrugged off suggestions from Durbin and others, the president called nations from Africa ‘shithole countries,’ denigrated Haiti and grew angry. The meeting was short, tense and often dominated by loud cross-talk and swearing, according to Republicans and Democrats familiar with the meeting.”
“Trump’s ping-ponging from dealmaking to feuding, from elation to fury, has come to define the contentious immigration talks between the White House and Congress, perplexing members of both parties as they navigate the president’s vulgarities, his combativeness and his willingness to suddenly change his position.”
A new CBS News poll gauges Americans’ response to Trump’s “shithole” comments, and finds: “76 percent say the remarks were inappropriate. Almost all Democrats, nearly 8 in 10 independents and 45 percent of Republicans say so as well.” Meanwhile, Americans favor letting dreamers stay by 70-30 but disapprove of a deal that would build the wall in exchange by 58-42. Trump is totally in a strong position in this debate.
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) January 16, 2018
KUSHNER IN ESPIONAGE DANGER: “U.S. counterintelligence officials in early 2017 warned Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, that Wendi Deng Murdoch, a prominent Chinese-American businesswoman, could be using her close friendship with Mr. Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, to further the interests of the Chinese government,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
ARIZONA SENATE GOP PRIMARY: A new in Arizona finds Martha McSally (R) leading the GOP Senate primary with 31%, followed by Joe Arpaio (R) at 22% and Kelli Ward (R) at 19%. Another 27% is still undecided.
PRESIDENTIAL REPORT CARD: A new Politico/Morning Consult poll finds 35% would give President Trump an “F” for his job performance — slightly more than the 34% of voters who would give Trump an “A” or “B” grade for his first year. The remaining voters give him a “C” (14%) or a barely-passing “D” (11%), and 5% have no opinion.
"Your silence and your amnesia is complicity" https://t.co/pVPSSSe5cW
— Vox (@voxdotcom) January 16, 2018
MAYBE TRUMP IS JUST A MORON. Jonathan Chait: “Trump is not actually suffering a severe mental impairment. White House doctor Ronny Jackson, who has served in the post since 2013, informed reporters on Wednesday that the president is in fine physical and mental health. The report comes as the national media has discussed whether Trump’s functional near-illiteracy, minuscule attention span, and narcissistic pathos are the symptoms of dementia or some other kind of cognitive incapacitation. We should take Jackson’s diagnosis as face value. Trump is just an idiot.”
Upsetting footage shows the emotional moment a man was ripped away from his family by ICE after spending 30 years in the U.S. pic.twitter.com/g8osfX45KK
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) January 16, 2018
Detroit Free Press: “Jorge Garcia was brought to the U.S. by an undocumented family member when he was 10 years old. Today he has a wife and two children,, all of whom are U.S. citizens.”
“Garcia had been facing an order of removal from immigration courts since 2009, but under the previous administration, he had been given stays of removal. But because of the Trump administration’s immigration crackdown, Garcia was ordered in November to return to Mexico. His supporters say he has no criminal record — not even a traffic ticket — and pays taxes every year.”
“Nevertheless, Garcia had to be removed, said Immigration and Customs Enforcement.”
MANY REPUBLICANS THINK ACCURATE NEGATIVE STORIES ARE STILL FAKE: A new Gallup-Knight Foundation survey finds that 42% of Republicans consider accurate news stories that cast a politician or political group in a negative light to always be “fake news.” The corresponding figure for Democrats is 17%.
UNINSURED RATE CLIMBS DUE TO TRUMP SABOTAGE: For the first time since the Affordable Care Act began, the uninsured rate went up in 2017, despite surprisingly robust Obamacare enrollments at the end of the year. It’s the largest one-year increase in the uninsured population since Gallup-Sharecare began the survey in 2008. The study noted “several factors” swelling the ranks of the uninsured, from increased premiums caused by insurance companies dropping out of the individual market to uncertainty around whether the Trump administration would enforce the individual mandate’s penalty for forgoing health insurance. Exacerbating both factors, the GOP-controlled Congress repealed the individual mandate in December, which is expected to hike premiums by an additional 10 percent or more. Premiums also went up significantly in 2017 when the Trump administration cut off cost-sharing reduction payments to insurance companies, though the vast majority of people on the individual market were shielded from the increase by a bump in their federal tax credits.
COTTON AND PURDUE NOW HAVE NO CREDIBILITY IN WASHINGTON. James Hohmann: “Credibility is like virginity. You only get to lose it once.”
After Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) said that President Trump had complained about the United States taking immigrants from “shithole countries,” two Republican senators who attended the meeting — Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Sen. David Purdue (R-GA) took issue with their Democratic colleague. It turns out their denials were based on hearing Trump say “shithouse” instead of “shithole” — as if that makes a difference.
“Cotton and Perdue will be defined by this moment, in part, because other senators will remember their attacks on Durbin. This will make them less trustworthy as potential partners and thus less effective as members of Congress.”
Jennifer Rubin: “Colleagues on both sides of the aisle should keep these two Republican senators’ rampant, flippant dishonesty in mind going forward. Should either come before the Senate for a confirmable position, the Senate should reject the nomination. If they lied about this, they’d lie about anything.”
Josh Marshall: “One of the elemental features of the Trump Era is how readily Trump has been able to garner from most Republicans the kind of reflexive obsequiousness and fealty strong men and would-be strongmen demand. While our political system has many ills, this has not tended to be one of them. Trump’s arrival changed that. It’s obvious they’re lying. They know it’s obvious. They know we know and yet they’re doing it anyway. That is a message in itself. They’re doing it because hyper-loyalty of this sort trumps embarrassment in the Trump GOP.”
Trump is too lazy and ignorant to do the job — and congressional Republicans like it that way. https://t.co/0jAzyI7PHQ
— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) January 16, 2018
CORRUPT AND NOT EVEN TRYING TO HIDE IT: A new report finds that 64 trade groups, foreign governments, Republican candidates and others stayed at or held events at properties linked to President Trump during Trump’s first year in office, CNBC reports. “The arrangements represented ‘unprecedented conflicts of interest’ because Trump oversees the federal government and has not divested from properties he owns or that carry his name.”
SOMETHING THE RACIST ELDERLY DIDN’T CONSIDER: Ron Brownstein: “The irony in President Donald Trump’s hostility to immigration, expressed again in reports of his vulgar comments about Africa and Haiti last week, is that in appealing to the racial and cultural resentments of his political base he is directly threatening their economic interests.”
“The equation is unmistakable: as America ages, the older and blue-collar whites at the core of Trump’s electoral coalition in 2016 need more working-age immigrants to pay the taxes that fund Social Security and Medicare.”
“Without robust immigration, each American worker will need to support substantially more retirees in the future than workers do today. And that will greatly increase the pressure for either unsustainable tax increases or biting benefit reductions in the federal retirement programs that the older and blue-collar whites central to Trump’s support rely upon so heavily.”
— The New Republic (@newrepublic) January 16, 2018
THE GOP CHIP GAMBIT: Russell Berman sees three ways out of the Shutdown showdown. One is passing the current Graham-Durbin DACA deal and daring Trump to veto it. Two is having the Dems back down due to a recent judicial ruling that has blocked Trump’s winding down the program.
“A third and potentially intriguing option for Republicans is to entice Democrats to support a funding bill without an immigration deal by attaching a long-term reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Democrats have been clamoring to renew CHIP and have attacked Republicans for delaying its reauthorization far beyond a deadline last fall. The two parties had been fighting over how to pay for a five- or six-year reauthorization, but they received something of a reprieve when a new projection from the Congressional Budget Office found that extending the program for 10 years would cost much less than originally thought and might save money.
If Republicans tied a clean CHIP extension to a short-term spending bill, could Democrats resist voting for it? It’s hard to see how the party would remain unified under that scenario, particularly when it would make it more difficult to blame a shutdown on Trump. Democrats spent years under Obama campaigning against Republicans as the party that hated government so much it shut it down, and many of them relish the possibility that the GOP, now in control of both Congress and the White House, would let their own internal divisions result in a shutdown. But Democrats don’t want to have to pull the trigger themselves—not if it would risk the advantage over the GOP they’ve spent a year building ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.”
— The Atlantic (@TheAtlantic) January 16, 2018