What Now?!? – 1/21/2019

President Trump “broke a fundamental rule of modern politics Saturday when he outlined a new plan to get his border wall and re-open the federal government: Never split your own party,” NBC News reports.

“The basic idea is to give 1 million immigrants — 700,000 so-called Dreamers who were brought to the country illegally as children and 300,000 refugees facing expiration of their ‘temporary protected status’ — a three-year shield from deportation in exchange for $5.7 billion in funding for the wall.”

“While Republican leaders on Capitol Hill praised his leadership, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, readily agreed to bring his proposal up for a vote on the floor next week, conservatives were quick to criticize the president for offering “amnesty” to undocumented immigrants.”

New York Times: “Immigrant advocates denounced it as cruel. The conservative right howled that it was amnesty.”

“President Trump lit into Democrats — and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in particular — in a Sunday tweetstorm in which he appeared to threaten to increase deportations of undocumented immigrants living in the United States and defended his proposal to end the partial government shutdown,” NBC News reports.

Politico: “Republicans have tried to drive a wedge between the duo for more than a month now. They’ve cast Schumer as eager to cut a deal and Pelosi as an impediment. They’ve floated the idea that Pelosi would be more willing to compromise after she was elected speaker. Trump tried again on Saturday, pitching temporary protections for Dreamers and other immigrants, in exchange for $5.7 billion in border wall funding.”

“None of it has worked.”

“Democrats believe the only way to get the president to cave on the wall and reopen the government is to stick together, a plan they reiterated when they rejected Trump’s latest proposal. And by setting a model of unity, Schumer and Pelosi have kept moderates in their caucuses from breaking ranks and underscored how difficult it will be for Trump to get Democrats to fold.”

“In the 24 hours since Trump offered his immigration proposal, not a single Democrat has publicly expressed openness to it,” Axios reports.

“Senior White House officials told Axios their strategy — conceived largely by Jared Kushner and Vice President Mike Pence — was to get Trump’s “compromise” immigration bill through the Senate with an overwhelming vote and then pressure House Democrats to break from Speaker Nancy Pelosi.”

“But the Democrats have a consensus: No immigration talks until the government is back open. Even the moderates who sometimes break with the party, including Sens. Joe Manchin and Chris Coons, are sticking with leadership on this, for now at least.”

Bruce Gyory: “Trump’s job approval rating is down to 31 percent among independents in Gallup. His approval ratings in Rasmussen are down from the 48-49 percent range of late last year to the 43-44 percent level of the past week or so. The Marist data for PBS shows a drop of 10 percent in job approval among Republicans and a decline of 11 percent among white evangelicals and 17% among suburban men.”

“And Trump continues to enrage the Dem base while this erosion in his base continues to progress. Blue collar white men being turned off from Trump shouldn’t surprise anyone, for they know the difficulty of living paycheck to paycheck. This, plus the skew of the tax cut package, spells political trouble for Trump long term, especially if a slow down, much less a recession, looms in 2020.”

“As an aside, it’s fair to ask why hasn’t this decline in the polls registered more with pundits and pols. I wonder if it’s because Gallup is not doing daily tracking polls anymore? In any case, Trump’s decline in the polls is significant precisely because slow declines are like weight gain. The quick gain of 5 pounds on a vacation can be easily shed. The slower gain of 10 pounds over a long winter can be brutal to reverse. As can the slow and steady erosion of your political standing.”

Rudy Giuliani told NBC News that plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow remained an “active proposal” as late as November of 2016, leaving open the possibility that Trump’s orbit continued to pursue the business deal up until the presidential election, months later than previously known.

Said Giuliani:  “It’s our understanding that it, that talks went on throughout 2016, not a lot of them… but the president can remember having conversations with Michael Cohen about it… Probably up to, could be up to as far as October, November.”

Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) told NBC News that this was “big news.” Said Warner: “The Republican nominee was actively trying to do business in Moscow… and if those negotiations were ongoing up until the election, I think that’s a relevant fact for voters … it’s remarkable we are two years after the fact and just discovering it today.”

“I get the urge people will have after Trump. ‘Look at the chaos and the exhaustion: Wouldn’t it be better to go back to something more stable with somebody we know?’ But there’s no going back to a pre-Trump universe. We can’t be saying the system will be fine again just like it was. Because that’s not true; it wasn’t fine. Not if we could careen into this kind of politics.” — South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D), quoted by the Washington Post., warning Democrats not to look in the rearview mirror for solutions.

Politico: “The longest government shutdown in U.S. history will scar the federal bureaucracy and U.S. economy long after the doors are unlocked and workers return. The feds will struggle to dig out of a backlog of hiring and training that’s essential to pushing out tax refunds, protecting U.S. borders and guiding air traffic. Government contractors are expected to jack up prices on everything from helicopters to IT support, growing wise to an administration that doesn’t pay its bills for weeks on end.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) “has personally courted Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to consider leaving his post to run for the Senate, according to people familiar with the effort, a move that could anger President Trump and further roil his tumultuous Cabinet,” the Washington Post reports. “Senate GOP leaders have been so dedicated to wooing Pompeo to run for an open seat in Kansas that McConnell directly urged him to consider it in a recent telephone call.”

“Senate Republicans are again considering using a controversial procedural maneuver to change how the chamber handles presidential nominations — a move that would significantly speed up processing of President Trump’s nominees and that of his successors in the White House,” the Washington Post reports.

“Typically, a nomination can be debated for a maximum of 30 hours on the Senate floor after senators invoke cloture, which is a vote that officially cuts off unlimited debate on a nomination and now only needs a simple majority to occur. But Republicans are mulling cutting short those 30 hours to as brief as two hours for relatively noncontroversial nominees, such as candidates for the district court.”

“While Republicans and Democrats are condemning or calling for Rep. Steve King’s resignation after his comments on white nationalism and white supremacy, the congressman is using the backlash to raise money for his campaign,” the Des Moines Register reports. Writes King in a fundraising email: “The unhinged left has teamed up with Republican ‘NeverTrumpers’ and is pulling out all the stops to destroy me.”

“The Justice Department placed an online job posting for a pair of attorneys to tackle border wall litigation in South Texas — a sign of coming property seizures and other legal controversies that President Trump anticipates if he plows ahead with his signature project,” Politico reports.

Brett McGurk, who recently resigned as special envoy to the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS, writes in the Washington Post that President Trump’s decision to pull troops from Syria “was made without deliberation, consultation with allies or Congress, assessment of risk, or appreciation of facts.”

“The irony is that defeating the Islamic State is what the president said from the beginning was his goal. In 2016, he vowed to ‘knock the hell out of ISIS.’ His recent choices, unfortunately, are already giving the Islamic State — and other American adversaries — new life.”

CNN: “Yet for all of those challenges, conversations with more than two dozen aides, donors and supporters, point to a consensus that Biden is still likely to run in what he repeatedly calls the most important presidential race of his lifetime. But until he gives the final nod, many caution he could also decide against it.”

“Another ally who recently spoke to Biden said he was left the impression that the former vice president was closer to launching a bid than retreating to the sidelines. And his team is preparing a detailed campaign plan to be ready the moment he pulls the trigger.”

Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX), whose district includes 820 miles on the U.S.-Mexico border, told Rolling Stone that President Trump’s claim of a border crisis is a “myth,” and that a border wall is the “most expensive and least effective way to do border security” and is a “third-century solution to a 21st-century problem.” He added that using eminent domain to take land for the border wall would impact more than 1,000 Texas property owners.

Los Angeles Times: “As Trump reaches the halfway mark of his term on Sunday, he has left a trail of negotiating partners from both chambers of Congress, both political parties and countries around the world feeling double-crossed and even lied to.”

“The result is that the president who campaigned as the world’s best deal-maker, vowing that he alone could fix Washington’s dysfunction, has been stymied as he looks for achievements before facing the voters again. Two years in, the man who built a political reputation as a guy who tells it like it is has lost the essential ingredients to closing deals: credibility and trust.”

President Trump “boasted to reporters about how well San Antonio’s border wall is working. But the Texas city is 150 miles from the Mexican border and has no wall,” the HuffPost reports. Said Trump: “Everybody knows that walls work. You look at different places, they put up a wall, no problem. You look at San Antonio, you look at so many different places, they go from one of the most unsafe cities in the country to one of the safest cities, immediately, immediately.”

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