“President Trump plans to offer Democrats another proposal to end the shutdown when he addresses the nation from the White House on Saturday afternoon,” CNN reports.
“Trump’s idea is to put something on the table to get Democrats to engage with negotiations. Trump is not expected to back down from his demand for a border wall, but the plan will seek to entice Democrats by offering other concessions.”“However, this plan is not based on negotiations with Democrats and White House officials are pessimistic that it will change much in stalled talks, because Democrats have previously refused to counter the White House’s proposal.”
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called reports of a deal to be proposed by President Trump to end a record-long partial government shutdown a “non-starter,” The Hill reports.
Said Pelosi: lDemocrats were hopeful that the President was finally willing to re-open government… Unfortunately, initial reports make clear that his proposal is a compilation of several previously rejected initiatives, each of which is unacceptable and in total, do not represent a good faith effort to restore certainty to people’s lives.”
She added: “It is unlikely that any one of these provisions alone would pass the House, and taken together, they are a non-starter.”
Even before President Trump’s shutdown remarks on Saturday, Democratic aides on the Hill were dismissing his planned shutdown compromise offer as inadequate, Axios reports.
Said one Democratic aide: “Dems were not consulted on this and have rejected similar overtures previously.”
Said another: “Similar inadequate offers from the Administration were already rejected by Democrats.”
New York Times: “Lawmakers also said Ms. Pelosi was livid about being forced to cancel a trip to Afghanistan and Brussels after the president denied her use of a military plane and then scuttled her attempt to fly commercially by publicly revealing her travel plans.”
BuzzFeed News “has doubled down on their bombshell report” on President Trump purportedly directing Michael Cohen to lie to Congress, according to Mediaite.
From a statement: “As we’ve re-confirmed our reporting, we’ve seen no indication that any specific aspect of our story is inaccurate. We remain confident in what we’ve reported, and will share more as we are able.”
“House Democrats have added more than $1 billion in border-related spending to a package of funding bills that would reopen most of the government, even as President Trump said he would have a ‘major announcement’ on Saturday about the border and the shutdown stalemate,” the New York Times reports.
“Both sides’ actions were the first indications of possible movement over the shutdown after a week of inertia and harsh words between Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Mr. Trump.”
“The proposal to include more spending on border measures is scheduled for a vote next week… The plan reflects a shift in strategy by congressional Democrats, who have maintained that they would not give the president a counterproposal until he drops his insistence on a wall and signs legislation to reopen the government.”
“Beto O’Rourke is five states into his stream-of-consciousness road trip across the American Southwest, unaccompanied as he drops into a small-town diner for cobbler, washes his face in a lake and journals about the need to ‘clear my head,’” Politico reports.
“All of which is unfolding as the rest of the Democratic presidential field has broken into a sprint — Elizabeth Warren to New Hampshire, Kirsten Gillibrand to Iowa, and Bernie Sanders and Cory Booker to South Carolina… His absence from the fray has been noted — and his introspective writing style has been mocked.But amid much snickering, there is also evidence to suggest that if he does run for president, it could help him politically, advancing his off-beat brand.”
“With his online following, O’Rourke remains close to the 2020 conversation regardless of his location. And in the span of several days, he has generated a torrent of media coverage that — unlike Democrats in more public settings — he alone can control.”
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) “is acting a lot like a guy who wants to run against Donald Trump in 2020 — and the president’s reelection team is taking notice,” Politico reports.
“The second-term Maryland governor has been implicitly going after Trump in speeches, meeting with Never Trump Republicans, and planning a March trip to Iowa as vice chair of the National Governors Association.”
“It’s all fueling speculation that Hogan, a 62-year-old cancer survivor who coasted to reelection in liberal Maryland and remains one of the most popular governors in the country, is open to the prospect of a long-shot primary challenge to the incumbent president. His flirtation comes at a time when Trump is facing increasing blowback over his handling of the protracted government shutdown and bracing for a potentially devastating report by special counsel Robert Mueller.”
Bret Stephens: “Hogan is attracting notice partly because he just romped to re-election over the progressive Democrat Ben Jealous — becoming the first G.O.P. governor to win re-election in Maryland since 1954 — and partly because he’s one of only three Republican governors in deep-blue states (Massachusetts’s Charlie Baker and Vermont’s Phil Scott are the other two). His approval rating is 68 percent in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2 to 1.”
“But mostly Hogan makes no secret of his disdain for the president, though he goes out of his way to avoid mentioning his name.”
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) “defended her decision to call on former Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) to resign after allegations of unwanted touching and kissing were made against him,” CNN reports.
Gillibrand said that she made the decision to help push him out because “my silence meant I was defending him and carrying his water, which I was unwilling to do.”
She added: “Enough was enough. Al Franken is entitled to whatever process wanted, if he wanted to say and wait six months for his ethics hearing. His decision was to resign. My decision was not to remain silent.”
President Trump said he was grateful to special counsel Robert Mueller for a statement disputing a BuzzFeed News report that Trump directed his former lawyer to lie to Congress about a Moscow real estate deal, Reuters reports.
Said Trump: “I appreciate the special counsel coming out with a statement last night. I think it was very appropriate that they did so. I think that the BuzzFeed piece was a disgrace to our country. It was a disgrace to journalism.”
A source close to the negotiations told Jonathan Swan “the inflection point for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was the letter from Nancy Pelosi telling Trump not to deliver the State of the Union. McConnell had been saying all along that Pelosi and Trump needed to negotiate because one needed to put a bill on the House floor and one needed to sign it — two people with singular power.”
But after Pelosi’s letter, it became clear to McConnell she was “never going to get off her position and some other spark needed to happen.”
“McConnell told the president that it was his view that Pelosi was never going to move. She would and could not negotiate on border funding because her caucus, and Trump needed to be the one to put something forward he would sign so that McConnell would have the presidential backing to bring it to the floor.”
“Advisers to former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz have been exploring the possibility of launching an independent bid for the White House in 2020,” the Washington Post reports.
“The entry of a high-profile billionaire Democrat outside the traditional party structure would add an unpredictable dynamic to the increasingly sprawling campaign to deny President Trump a second term.”
Washington Post: “Trump, who recently pined about being lonely in the White House, is lately finding himself in a position he’s rarely been in over the past few years: Ignored.”
“His political cachet has been driven by an unerring ability to goad other people into fights that benefit him. The metric he cares about is owning the television ratings and national attention, more than polling or anything else.”
“So what happens when, instead, he is met with something of a shrug?”
“The new silent treatment limits Trump’s ability to dictate national coverage and frame the day’s debate. And it’s providing an early template for how Democratic presidential candidates may attempt to deal with him in 2020, essentially forcing him out of a conversation they want to have with voters.”