FOOL ME TWICE? Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) warned that the White House staff is undercutting President Trump and Congress’s ability to get a deal on immigration, The Hill reports. Said Graham: “Every time we have a proposal it is only yanked back by staff members. As long as Stephen Miller is in charge of negotiating immigration, we’re going nowhere.”
Politico: “The Senate will vote at noon Monday on a bill to reopen the government through Feb. 8, though passage is not assured. Senate leaders Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer are continuing to negotiate on a deal to reopen the government and begin legislative work on protecting some young immigrants, but Schumer said ‘we have yet to reach a path forward.’”
TRUMP TURNS ON ZINKE: Jonathan Swan: “Two weeks ago, Zinke made an announcement that surprised the White House (and over Twitter, no less, after telling reporters at the Tallahassee airport): the waters around Florida would be exempt from his agency’s offshore oil and gas leasing program. Zinke’s announcement came shortly after he met with the state’s Republican governor, Rick Scott.”
“Trump has made clear to Zinke that he’s angry about this move… Zinke’s decision is both legally and politically dangerous for the Trump administration. Zinke did not coordinate with anybody, and gave the White House no forewarning of his controversial action.”
New: Trump keeps low public profile during shutdown but wants to be more involved. So far, he's listening to coterie of aides and legislators who urge patience and say Schumer will have to give in. W/@AshleyRParker: https://t.co/uxRVfGfFbG
— Josh Dawsey (@jdawsey1) January 21, 2018
Taegan Goddard on WHO IS WINNING THE TRUMP SHUTDOWN: “For Democrats, the key is that the vast majority of Americans support their position on the Dreamers. With protections for Dreamers expiring on March 5, most Democrats feel a deal is inevitable and even if they must give Republicans modest funding for a border wall in return, it will be seen as a clear win for Democrats.
President Trump has forced his party into an impossible position. As he takes a harder line on immigration, he makes a deal to open the government next to impossible to reach. It’s tough to see how he can spin an amnesty deal for Dreamers into a win for his base. Even if he ultimately gets some funding for a border wall, the easy question voters can ask is, “Why isn’t Mexico paying for it?” Worse for Republicans is that even if they “win” this round, the problem comes right back in three weeks. If the government shuts down again, it will again prove to Americans the GOP is incapable of governing.
That’s why Democrats are willing to have this fight. It’s also why they will ultimately win it. A government shut down ensures the midterm elections will revolve around the chaos Trump has brought to Washington and his inability to be the deal maker he promised.”
TRUMP THE WEAK BYSTANDER: New York Times: “Inside the White House, Mr. Trump, the neophyte president who has styled himself the ultimate dealmaker, remained remarkably disengaged from the complex process of hammering out a politically palatable deal that could provide a way out of the morass.”
“Senior advisers counseled him to do less, not more, negotiating, arguing that the shutdown was a political problem that Democrats had created for themselves, and had to find their own way to resolve. But Mr. Trump, a highly reactive personality who detests headlines questioning his leadership — like those that dominated cable TV throughout Saturday, during coverage of the shutdown and women’s marches throughout the country denouncing his presidency — felt stymied and wanted somehow to intervene.”
“Irritated to have missed his big event in Florida, Mr. Trump spent much of his day watching old TV clips of him berating President Barack Obama for a lack of leadership during the 2013 government shutdown, a White House aide said, seeming content to sit back and watch the show.”
BUT HER EMAILS: Jared Kushner was granted access to classified intelligence reports despite not having a security clearance, the New Yorker reports. Kushner was added to a list of recipients for the President’s Daily Brief, which contains some of the federal government’s most highly classified intelligence reports.
“By the end of the Obama Administration, seven White House officials were authorized to receive the same version of the P.D.B. that appeared on the President’s iPad. The Trump Administration expanded the number to as many as fourteen people.”
ENTHUSIASM GAP. Reid Wilson: “Pollsters routinely measure how enthusiastic voters are about upcoming elections. This year, those surveys have found a gap between an energized Democratic base and a comparatively demoralized Republican electorate.”
“The dozens of special elections that have occurred since Trump took office indicate the enthusiasm gap is real: Compared with prior elections, Democratic voters have shown up at higher rates in ordinarily low-turnout special elections than Republicans have.”
“In the last year, states have conducted 98 special elections for legislative seats, ranging from a U.S. Senate seat in Alabama to state House races in New Hampshire. Democrats have flipped 16 of those seats… Republicans have won only three formerly Democratic-held seats, in Louisiana, Mississippi and Massachusetts.”
Trump is proposing the "nuclear option" on the government shutdown. It makes no sense. https://t.co/WH3Lw4oBYc
— Vox (@voxdotcom) January 21, 2018
LASTING DAMAGE. Jill Abramson: “The question at the heart of Trump’s first year isn’t how awful a president he has been, but how long the damage he has done – to the fabric of American life and the country’s standing in the world – will last.
Much of the harm will be impossible to erase. The rightwing judges he has appointed, and will appoint, enjoy lifetime tenure. As uranium mining resumes on once protected national lands, the poisons that seep into the earth and water do lasting damage to the environment. Countries that considered the US an ally and protector have already looked elsewhere (or inward) for support. If Trump provokes North Korea and acts on the threat to use his bigger button, who knows what could happen? (“Anything but that.”)”
FILLING A TEACUP FROM NIAGARA FALLS. Leonard Pitts and how far we are from 2016: “In January of 1998, reports surfaced of a sexual affair between President Bill Clinton and a 24-year old White House intern. It would mushroom into the biggest story of the year. In January of 2018, reports surfaced of an alleged payoff by lawyers for the present president to silence a porn star from talking about their alleged sexual affair. It wasn’t even the biggest story of the day.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a more visceral illustration of how our sensibilities have been bludgeoned into submission in the last year. Surprises no longer surprise. Shocks no longer shock. We have bumped up against the limits of human bandwidth, find ourselves unable to take it all in.
One simply cannot keep up with, much less respond with proper outrage to, all of this guy’s scandals, bungles, blame-shifting, name-calling and missteps, his sundry acts of mendacity, misanthropy, perversity and idiocy. It’s like trying to fill a teacup from Niagara Falls. It’s like trying to read the Internet.
… he’s galvanized a powerful resistance that has claimed upset victories from Alabama to Wisconsin and left Gumby-spined Republicans looking over their shoulders. That resistance might even save this country, assuming the guy leaves us anything to save.”
“A collapse of the [Iran] nuclear deal could see a breakdown in the relations between the US & Europe that have underpinned the West’s security since World War Two,…& could confirm Europe’s fears that it can no longer count on U.S. leadership.” https://t.co/NWo9olK2JC
— Colin Kahl (@ColinKahl) January 22, 2018
“SHUTTING DOWN THE GOVERNMENT IS OUR JOB!!” Richard Wolffe on the deep thinking behind the shutdown. “Today’s Republican party is built on principle. As a matter of principle, the GOP believes it is the only party that can shut down government as a negotiating tactic. The Democrats’ job is to keep that government open and to cave in to its demands. These truths we hold to be self-evident, after watching several rounds of this sad kabuki theater through the Clinton and Obama years. Now that the Democrats have triggered a government shutdown, Republicans are outraged. Because of their principles, you know.”
CHIEF JUSTICE MODERATE. “Thirteen years into the job, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. remains a conservative — but he has shifted to a more moderate position among the conservative justices on the court, a small change with potentially dramatic consequences,” BuzzFeed News reports.
“Among the justices appointed by Republican presidents, Roberts agreed least with Justice Anthony Kennedy in Roberts’ first two terms leading the court — and the most with Kennedy in the two most recently completed terms.”
“That kind of shift could have significant effects on how the current court decides major issues and — if it represents a permanent change — on how Roberts leads the court into the next decade.”
This is the most perceptive article I’ve read about the history and underlying dynamics of this fight. https://t.co/wmcVyeCup3
— Ben Wikler (@benwikler) January 22, 2018
MUELLER FOCUS ON A MYSTERY VISITOR. “Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team has been talking with George Nader, a little-known Bannon associate who boasts of his well-placed connections in the Middle East,” Axiosreports.
“Nader has spoken with Mueller’s team at least twice, according to a source briefed on the investigation. A second source briefed on the investigation confirmed that Mueller’s team has brought Nader in for questioning in the past week.”
“Nader visited the White House frequently during the early months of the Trump administration. He became friendly with former chief strategist Steve Bannon, visiting his office regularly. A source familiar with the White House meetings said Jared Kushner also met Nader. After asking around about Nader, Kushner decided not to continue meeting with him.”
TRUMP TURNS ON ROSS: Jonathan Swan: “In a series of Oval Office meetings about six months into his presidency, Trump eviscerated Ross, telling him he’d screwed up, and badly.”
“Trump told Ross he didn’t trust him to negotiate anymore. Ross had tried in the early months of the administration, before Robert Lighthizer was confirmed as the U.S. Trade Representative, to take the lead on several crucial trade conversations. Once Lighthizer arrived there was a tussle for control over several issues. But after Ross botched — in Trump’s eyes — his dealings with China, he decided Lighthizer would be the lead negotiator on all trade issues.”
“During this period, Trump humiliated Ross in front of his colleagues, per three sources, and questioned his intelligence and competence.”
'One thing was clear to both sides of the negotiations to end it: The president was either unwilling or unable to articulate the immigration policy he wanted, much less understand the nuances of what it would involve.' @juliehdavis @maggieNYT https://t.co/PP3RdNRYOk
— rickgladstone (@rickgladstone) January 22, 2018
In his New York Times op-ed, “What the Shutdown Says About the Future of the Democrats,” Michael Tomasky comments on why Democrats are right to hold the line on a fair immigration policy: “For now, liberals should cheer this unreservedly. For one thing, the cause of these young undocumented Americans is a good one. But more broadly, the Republicans have been playing this way for years. If Democrats won’t, they’ll just lose. You can’t bring a squirt gun to the O.K. Corral.” It’s a good point. Dems have a lot to gain by standing up for a fair immigration policy, despite the GOP blame machine’s dubious efforts to spin the fault away from their own weak leadership. Not only does public opinion strongly support “the Democratic position that they be permitted to stay and given a path to citizenship,” as Tomasky points out; As FiveThirtyEight’s Harry Enten shows just below, a healthy majority places the blame for the shutdown at the feet of the Republicans.
“Faced with intra-party discord and malevolent prevarication from Republicans, what are Democrats to do about DACA?,” asks Mark Joseph Stern in his article, “Democrats Are Doing the Right Thing” at slate.com. “Rely on more easily broken promises from Ryan, McConnell, and the White House? Go along with the lie that Dreamers can wait until March for relief? Surrender altogether to the whims of a Republican Party dominated by serial fibbers? Of course not. The first DREAM Act was introduced in 2001. Republicans have foiled its passage for 17 years. At some point, Democrats had to draw a line in the sand. That moment arrived on Friday…A government shutdown is an awful thing. It’s a humiliation for the nation that disrupts hundreds of thousands of lives, and it may well provoke backlash against progressives. But Democrats had no other choice. Republicans cannot be trusted to protect Dreamers from a crisis of the GOP’s own making. To capitulate on DACA would be an abdication of the Democratic Party’s moral responsibilities. Dreamers belong in this country, and Democrats should use every bit of leverage they have to keep them here.”