PELOSI CANCELS SOTU SPEECH. The Washington Post has a letter to President Trump from Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA): “Sadly, given the security concerns and unless government re-opens this week, I suggest that we work together to determine another suitable date after government has reopened for this address or for you to consider delivering your State of the Union address in writing to the Congress on January 29th.” A lot of the headlines say that Pelosi is asking Trump to reschedule the speech. Wrong. She is telling him we will be rescheduling the speech to a day after the government reopens.
“The move is also a gentle reminder just how much power Pelosi has under the dome. The delay also comes with the additional political benefit of taking away away a made-for-TV moment: Trump’s ability to use the speech as a platform to lambast lawmakers over border security as they sit in the audience. Republicans had hoped the president would be able to make his case about his border policies during the speech.”
“Pelosi is basically uninviting him, but doing so gently. The House and Senate must jointly adopt a resolution to schedule the State of the Union. So without that, he can’t come. Neither chamber has adopted the resolution yet.
“A new Pew Research Center survey finds that 58% of Americans continue to oppose substantially expanding the border wall, while 40% favor the proposal. Overall opinion on the wall is little changed from last year, but these views have never been more sharply divided along partisan lines: Republican support for the wall is at record high, while Democratic support has reached a new low.”
“And both sides appear to be dug in: Nearly nine-in-ten (88%) opponents of expanding the border wall say it would not be acceptable to pass a bill that includes President Trump’s request for wall funding, if that is the only way to end the shutdown. Among the smaller group of wall supporters, 72% say a bill to end the shutdown would be unacceptable if it does not include Trump’s funding request.”
ISIS KILLS US SOLDIERS IN ATTACK DESPITE BEING DEFEATED. “The Islamic State asserted responsibility Wednesday for a suicide blast in the U.S.-patrolled city of Manbij in Syria, the first such attack since President Trump said American forces would withdraw from the country because the militant group has been largely defeated,” the Washington Post reports.
“In a message posted to Twitter, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition battling the Islamic State said that U.S. service members were killed while conducting a routine patrol in the city but did not say how many died or provide further details.”
NO NEGOTIATION WITH TERRORISTS. Josh Marshall says we don’t negotiate with hostage takers: “Republicans are desperate – and not even doing much or well to hide it – to have Democrats start negotiating with them about a wall. We’ve moved on from demanding the chunk of money. Now it’s wanting to negotiate, begging frankly. For all the atmospherics and strategies, the only important point to make is that the President is holding the government hostage to force his way. That has to stop. The shutdown bacillus that Newt Gingrich injected into our political system in 1995 must be eradicated. It was dormant for almost two decades until Republicans (neo-Gingrichites) returned to power in the House in 2011. It’s wrong. It’s destructive. And it’s the same principle we apply to all terrorists. You can’t negotiate with terrorists or hostage takers, because it encourages the behavior. ”
TRUMP CAN GIVE THE SPEECH IN WRITING. Jeff Greenfield: “The Constitution does require the president to report ‘Information of the State of the Union’ to Congress, but there’s no requirement that it be a speech — it was delivered in writing until Woodrow Wilson showed up in person in 1913 — and we’ve long passed the time when it contained any useful ‘information’ at all.”
“So maybe Pelosi has done all of us—including the president—a favor by postponing (if not canceling) an address that this year promises to be even more of a sham than usual. And maybe, given the dreary ritual that such speeches offer, Trump might want to take the unsolicited advice I offered a year ago: Return to the tradition established by Thomas Jefferson, have everyone stay home, and just deliver the thing in writing.”VISIT WEBSITE
REPUBLICANS BREAK RANK OVER RUSSIAN SANCTIONS. New York Times: On Tuesday, “11 Republican votes allowed Senate Democrats to advance a measure that would reverse a decision last month by the Treasury Department to lift sanctions that it imposed last year on companies controlled by the oligarch, Oleg V. Deripaska, including the aluminum giant Rusal.”
However, on Wednesday, Senate Republicans “narrowly staved off an effort by Democrats to deal the Trump administration’s Russia sanctions policy an embarrassing rebuke,” the New York Times reports.
“Eleven Republicans joined Democrats in a vote to enforce sanctions against the corporate empire of an influential ally of President Vladimir Putin of Russia, but the effort fell three votes short of the 60-vote threshold required to advance the measure. The vote was 57-42, with one Democratic senator not voting.” That “Democratic” senator was Bernie Sanders. Interesting. He also voted against Russian Sanctions in 2017. And he voted against the Magnitsky Act of 2012. Evidence is starting to pile up.
THE TRUMP SWAMP. “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,” the Washington Post reports. “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.”
WHY MCCONNELL IS A COWARD. Washington Examiner: “With President Trump in the White House and his agenda enjoying the broad support of GOP primary voters, especially on the border wall, McConnell views the political terrain and his leadership differently, say knowledgeable Republicans. That has led to deferring to the president on policy and strategy during the 26-day-old government shutdown when in the past he might have taken the reigns and killed it.”
“McConnell’s overriding interest is avoiding the sort of public warfare with Trump that threatened to decapitate his majority early in 2018, before he reached a detente with the president, and put his conference in the best position to emerge from the 2020 primaries unscathed. The majority leader is among the Republicans up for re-election next year.”
THE TRUMP TAX CUT WAS A CON JOB. Stephen Gandel: “President Trump and the Republicans’ tax cut is proving to be vastly more generous for corporate America, and vastly more expensive for taxpayers, than expected. Worse, the Trump Slump is erasing the bump the stock market received from the tax cuts. And evidence is mounting that the promised economic boost isn’t materializing. The administration’s signature political achievement is being eclipsed by disarray over trade, immigration and a government shutdown.”
“First, the headline number: $600 billion, at least. That’s how much more than expected I estimate the companies in the S&P 500 are on pace to save. It is also how much more the tax cut is likely to add to the national debt if it runs as planned for 10 years. The total savings for all of corporate America will be well into the 13 figures.”
She still is too close to Wall Street to be successful. Also a problem for Booker.
Politico: “Gillibrand’s support for hundreds of female candidates around the country has been a hallmark of her political rise. Now, more than any candidate for president ever has, she’s putting gender at the heart of her pitch to voters — a strategy that could bolster her cause with a sizable slice of the Democratic base and help her stand out in a sprawling primary.”
But Gillibrand will be one of perhaps four first tier female presidential candidates, along with Senators Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, and Kamela Harris.
PUTIN SMILES. First Read: “In the United States, President Trump’s push for a border wall has now partially shut down the federal government for 26 days and counting. And in Britain, Prime Minister Theresa May ‘suffered the biggest parliamentary defeat of any British prime minister in history Tuesday as lawmakers of all stripes crushed her plan to leave the European Union,’ per NBC News. These developments — plus the instability in France and Germany — show just how politically crippled the West is right now. And, oh by the way, guess which country meddled in the 2016 elections in Britain and the United States?”
James Hohmann: “We don’t know exactly how much Moscow spent supporting influence operations to impact the U.K. and U.S. elections in 2016, but it seems hard to overstate how good the Kremlin’s return has been on what Western intelligence agencies believe was a relatively modest investment.”
NANCY REMEMBERS. “Speaker Nancy Pelosi exacted revenge against one of her most outspoken detractors Tuesday night, blocking Rep. Kathleen Rice from landing a seat on the high-profile House Judiciary Committee,” Politico reports. “Pelosi lobbied for other members to join the panel over Rice, leaving the third-term New York Democrat off a list of her preferred members for the committee during a tense closed-door meeting Tuesday night.”
TRUMP CAN’T SAVE COAL. “More U.S. coal-fired power plants were shut in President Trump’s first two years than were retired in the whole of Barack Obama’s first term, despite the Republican’s efforts to prop up the industry to keep a campaign promise to coal-mining States,” Reuters reports. “Trump has tried to roll back rules on climate change and the environment adopted during the Obama administration to fulfill pledges to voters in states like West Virginia and Wyoming.”
ROMNEY IS THE NEW FLAKE. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) slammed President Trump for communicating with Russian President Vladimir Putin without keeping “careful records” of it, CNN reports.
Said Romney: “It’s inappropriate for the president of or country to communicate with the president of another global power without having people there keeping careful records to make sure what is said by both parties is followed up upon.”
NOW DO TRUMP. Michael Gerson: “In their criticism of Rep. Steve King, you get the sense that Republicans are actually relieved to be in the position of attacking racism for a change, instead of being forced to defend it from the president. They seem to be signaling that they are not really the bigots they appear to be. Republicans seem desperate to explain that they are normal and moral — despite all the evidence. Attacking King reveals some sense of shame at what they have become.”
“Yet, in the end, Republican critics of King manage to look worse rather than better. If racism is the problem, then President Trump is a worse offender. And the GOP’s relative silence on Trump is a sign of hypocrisy and weakness.”
“By any standard, Trump says things that are reckless, wrong, abhorrent, offensive and racist. Until Republicans can state this reality with the same clarity and intensity that they now criticize King, they will be cowards in a time crying for bravery.”