President Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen will testify voluntarily before the House Oversight Committee on Feb. 7, CNBC reports.
New York Times: “Mr. Cohen’s decision to appear before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Feb. 7 sets the stage for a blockbuster public hearing that threatens to further damage the president’s image and could clarify the depth of his legal woes. Mr. Cohen, a consigliere to Mr. Trump when he was a real estate developer and presidential candidate as well as informally as president, was privy to the machinations of Mr. Trump’s inner circle and key moments under scrutiny by both the special counsel, Robert Mueller, and federal prosecutors in New York.”
“He could soon share them on national television under oath.”
Politico: “Thus began Beto O’Rourke’s latest dispatch from El Paso, Texas, where the potential presidential contender filmed himself in a green bib — and with dental tools in his mouth — talking with his dental hygienist about life on the U.S.-Mexico border.”
“The unusual video, posted on Instagram, left jaws agape in Washington on Thursday. But it is in keeping with O’Rourke’s practice of livestreaming virtually anything — and, more recently, of focusing attention on the lives of people living along the U.S.-Mexico border.”
Sen. Kamala Harris has decided to seek the 2020 Democratic nomination for president, sources close to her told KCBS Radio. She’ll announce her candidacy on or around Martin Luther King Day, probably at a campaign rally in Oakland.”
“The Pentagon is preparing options to build barriers on the southern border in the event that President Trump declares a national emergency there, the latest indication such a move is gaining traction within the administration,” USA Today reports.
“The confirmation of the preparations comes after Trump on Thursday gave his most explicit warning yet that he was considering a declaration of a national emergency as a way of freeing up funds for a border wall if talks with Democrats fail to yield a deal on his signature issue.”
“We’re getting pretty close.” — Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), quoted by the New York Times, on reaching a breaking point over President Trump’s shutdown strategy.
This is amazing: In 1958, CBS aired an episode of Trackdown in which a con man attempted to sell a town a “wall” in order to protect them from the fake threat of a meteor shower. The con man’s name was Trump.
The show’s main character ultimately exposes Trump as a fraud who was plotting with the town’s sheriff to sell the wall. His final words: “You’re under arrest Trump.”
A new Public Policy Polling survey finds that voters disagree with President Trump’s demand for border wall funding by double-digit margins in seven key Senate swing states. In Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Maine and North Carolina, voters disagree with Trump by double-digit margins that “government should be kept closed until he gets funding for the wall.”
“Voters also oppose spending billions to construct a border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border in all seven states, though those numbers are a bit closer. And voters in all seven states say by double-digit margins that their Republican senator’s support of Trump on this issue is making them less, not more, likely to vote for their reelection.”
President Trump “has repeatedly advocated for a steel slat design for his border wall, which he described as ‘absolutely critical to border security’ in his Oval Office address to the nation Tuesday. But Department of Homeland Security testing of a steel slat prototype proved it could be cut through with a saw,” NBC News reports.
“A photo exclusively obtained by NBC News shows the results of the test after experts from the Marine Corps were instructed to attempt to destroy the barriers with common tools.”
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said that President Trump’s border wall push has nothing to do with border security, but is instead designed to energize his conservative base and distract the country from the various scandals dogging his administration, The Hill reports.
Said Pelosi: “I don’t even know if the president wants the wall. I think he just wants a debate on the wall. And he’s having some difficulty with it.”
First Read: “It may sound like an old-fashioned sentiment, but one reason for the ongoing impasse is that the relationships between the negotiators are either nonexistent or have broken down. The Obama shutdowns were ultimately solved because Mitch McConnell and Joe Biden had a rapport that allowed them to hammer out a compromise. Does anyone think that Mike Pence and Schumer/Pelosi have that same relationship?”
“Republicans also badly misread Nancy Pelosi with their assumption that she would eventually be willing to cave on the border wall. Our point to any congressional Republican bewildered that she’s unwilling to give in? Remember how hard it was for the GOP to compromise with Obama, knowing the incoming fire they’d take from the base?”
Special counsel Robert Mueller sought information directly last year from one of Donald Trump’s campaign pollsters who is also a former business associate of Paul Manafort’s, CNN reports.
“Mueller’s team met with pollster Tony Fabrizio in February 2018, an interview that has not been previously reported and takes on new significance after Manafort’s attorneys revealed Tuesday that Mueller’s team is still interested in how Manafort shared polling data with his Russian intelligence-linked colleague.”
President Trump “admitted that Mexico would not directly pay for the construction of his proposed wall along the southern border. Instead, he claims the wall will be paid for by revenue gained from a new trade deal pending in Congress,” CNBC reports. Said Trump: “When I said Mexico would pay for the wall in front of thousands and thousands of people … obviously I never meant Mexico would write a check.”
However, the Trump campaign released a memo in March 2016 explaining the multiple ways to “compel Mexico” to “make a one-time payment of $5-10 billion.”
Stephen Grosz: “Most of us lie to avoid causing painful feelings in others, and ourselves… Trump’s lying is different. It’s not just a departure from the norms of the presidency — it’s a departure from the norm.”
“There are so many examples — The Washington Post’s Fact Checker estimates that during the two years of his presidency, Trump has told some 7,600 lies — but let this one suffice. On Boxing Day last year, during an unannounced visit to Iraq, Trump spoke to US troops about a pay rise. “I got you a big one. I got you a big one.” He continued, “They said: ‘You know, we could make it smaller. We could make it 3 per cent. We could make it 2 per cent. We could make it 4 per cent.’ I said: ‘No. Make it 10 per cent. Make it more than 10 per cent’.” The future pay rise is 2.6 per cent.”
“Think about what is happening here: a lie — easily discredited — is being made, with complete shamelessness, to people most of us would regard as heroes. When he told the troops about the pay rise, they must have gone wild. For the briefest moment, Trump will have been applauded, celebrated — but then what? How can someone be so oblivious to the consequences of deceit?”
BuzzFeed News: “The pair of outside groups tied closely to President Donald Trump has retained the top Republican opposition group in an effort to smother Democrats seeking to challenge him — and perhaps even help pick his 2020 challenger.”
“The early move is part of Trump and his allies’ plan to dominate the Democratic presidential primary and push to have the nominating contest play out on their terms, especially since Trump himself has been uncharacteristically quiet in the new year about top Democratic White House hopefuls, preoccupied with the partial government shutdown and his push for a border wall.”
“Colorado entered a new era of Democratic political dominance Tuesday as Jared Polis was sworn in as the state’s 43rd governor, promising to make the state’s booming economy fairer and health care more affordable,” the Denver Post reports.
“Polis’ longtime partner, Marlon Reis, and their two children stood with him for the ceremony on the west steps of the state Capitol. He took the oath at precisely noon, his left hand on a siddur, a Jewish prayer book.”
“In his first speech as governor, Polis celebrated the diversity of the state and recognized the historic moment: Polis is the first openly gay governor elected to lead a state. He also is Colorado’s first Jewish governor.”
Rick Hasen: “In a short unpublished opinion so far garnering only slight media attention, the United States Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit decided on Monday what may be one of the most consequential cases poised to affect the 2020 elections. The circuit upheld a district court decision ending a court order in effect since 1982 barring the Republican National Committee from engaging in ‘ballot security’ measures designed to intimidate minority voters from voting at the polls.”
“With Trump having taken over the RNC for the 2020 elections and with this consent decree no longer standing in his way, we should be concerned about a new wave of voter suppression coming from the Republican Party during the upcoming election.”