James Hohmann: “The deafening chorus demanding Ralph Northam’s resignation suggests that Americans could be on the precipice of a #MeToo moment for racial politics.”
“Many of Northam’s longtime friends and erstwhile allies, including African American leaders and four of his Democratic predecessors as governor, dismissed his pleas for patience and called on him to step aside over a racist photo on his 1984 medical school yearbook page. The speed and intensity with which they did so reflects some of the ways that the political culture, nationally and in the South specifically, is changing.”
First Read notes that “nearly the entire Democratic Party” now has called for Northam to resign and “the party is united in demonstrating that it has zero tolerance for any past racist behavior from its politicians.”
“Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) called an unscheduled senior staff meeting Sunday night just before the start of the Super Bowl, as the governor considered resigning after two days of defiance amid a controversy over a racist photo in his medical school yearbook,” the Washington Post reports. “People familiar with the meeting said the governor had not reached a decision. It was unclear who was present, but the group included senior staffers of color. Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D), who would become governor if Northam resigned.”
“Calling the Sunday night meeting was a clear signal of Northam’s effort to weigh support within the administration as he evaluates his options. Although he pledged on Saturday to stand his ground, he also said he would reconsider if he thought he could no longer be effective. Just a day later, resignation is an active consideration.”
A new Morning Consult poll finds Virginia voters have soured on Gov. Ralph Northam. Northam has had a 41-percentage-point drop in Northam’s net approval rating in the two days after revelations that the governor’s medical school yearbook page had a picture of one person in blackface and another dressed as a member of the Ku Klux Klan.
Nate Silver: “Democrats seem to react differently to scandals involving Democratic politicians than Republicans do to scandals involving Republicans.”
“Surveys are showing overwhelming support for raising taxes on top earners, including a new Politico/Morning Consult poll released Monday that found 76 percent of registered voters believe the wealthiest Americans should pay more in taxes.” “A recent Fox News survey showed that 70 percent of Americans favor raising taxes on those earning over $10 million — including 54 percent of Republicans.”
A new Gallup poll finds 60% of Americans oppose major new construction of walls along the U.S.-Mexico border — the goal behind President Trump’s budget showdown with Democratic leaders that led to a record 35-day partial shutdown of the federal government.
The Atlantic: “Joe Biden reliably blows through every public and private deadline for making a decision about running for president. But he’s giving everyone he’s seen in recent weeks the feeling that he’s very close to saying yes.”
“Top positions for a campaign have been sketched out. Donor outreach has accelerated, with Biden himself telling staff at some events to write down the names of people who say they’re eager to help. A list of potential “day-one endorsers” among elected officials has been prepared. Basic staff outreach is happening. Biden has even joked to people that he’s upped his daily workout to get in shape.”
Said one insider: “I have been told that if it happens, I need to be ready to go with a moment’s notice.”
“From the Justice Department to Veterans Affairs, vast swaths of the government have top positions filled by officials serving in an acting capacity — or no one at all. More than two years into Trump’s term, the president has an acting chief of staff, attorney general, defense secretary, interior secretary, Office of Management and Budget director and Environmental Protection Agency chief,” the Washington Post reports.
“To deal with the number of vacancies in the upper ranks of departments, agencies have been relying on novel and legally questionable personnel moves that could leave the administration’s policies open to court challenges. The lack of permanent leaders has started to alarm top congressional Republicans who are pressing for key posts to be filled.”
Wall Street Journal: “Mr. Trump in private conversations has voiced satisfaction with the arrangement, saying interim leaders are more beholden to the Oval Office.”
A new Politico/Morning Consult poll “shows anti-Trump and Democratic voters are more open to supporting third-party candidates than Republicans — evidence supporting the prominent Democrats who spent the last week warning that a credible, well-funded independent could improve President Trump’s chances of reelection.”
“While only 26% of voters who approve of Trump’s job performance as president are very or somewhat likely to consider a third-party candidate, a larger percentage of Trump disapprovers, 41%, would consider voting for an independent. By party, nearly a third of Democrats, 31%, say they would consider a third-party candidate — greater than the 25% of Republicans who would consider voting for someone other than the two major-party nominees.”
Internal polling from Howard Schultz shows him pulling about 17% of the vote in hypothetical presidential match ups between President Trump and either Kamala Harris (D) or Elizabeth Warren (D), NBC News reports.
Schulz wins about 17% in each of the two ballot tests, while Trump leads the Democrat by a margin of 33% to 32%.
Jonathan Chait: “In other words, Schultz’s own polling indicates he would lose badly, and would throw the race to Trump.”
Iraqi President Barham Salih said that President Trump did not ask Iraq’s permission for U.S. troops stationed there to “watch Iran,” as he told CBS News in an interview over the weekend, Reuters reports. “U.S. troops in Iraq are there as part of an agreement between the two countries with a specific mission of combating terrorism, Salih said, and that they should stick to that.”
“A Russian-born lobbyist who attended the controversial Trump Tower meeting in June 2016 received a series of suspicious payments totaling half a million dollars before and after the encounter,” BuzzFeed Newsreports.
“Documents show that Rinat Akhmetshin, a Soviet military officer turned Washington lobbyist, deposited large, round-number amounts of cash in the months preceding and following the meeting, where a Russian lawyer offered senior Trump campaign officials dirt on Hillary Clinton.”
“The lobbyist also received a large payment that bank investigators deemed suspicious from Denis Katsyv, whose company Prevezon Holdings was accused by the US Justice Department of laundering the proceeds of a $230 million Russian tax fraud.”
“Worried about a potential Republican primary challenge, President Trump’s campaign has launched a state-by-state effort to prevent an intraparty fight that could spill over into the general-election campaign,” the AP reports. “The nascent initiative has been an intense focus in recent weeks and includes taking steps to change state party rules, crowd out potential rivals and quell any early signs of opposition that could embarrass the president.”
The massive leak of President Trump’s private schedules “set off internal finger-pointing and speculation more fevered than any since the New York Times‘ anonymous op-ed,” Axios reports. “White House insiders said the leak sowed chaos.” Said Cliff Sims, author of Team of Vipers: “There are leaks, and then there are leaks. If most are involuntary manslaughter, this was premeditated murder. People inside are genuinely scared.”
Maggie Haberman: “A White House aide is weaponizing his schedules, which says a lot about how people in the White House feel about the man they work for.”
Ana Maria Archila, the woman who had a widely seen confrontation with former Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) last year over his support for then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, on Tuesday will attend the State of the Union address as a guest of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), The Hill reports.
Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) told the Boston Globe that he won’t endorse Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) for president, but added that he is willing to do anything else to help her. Said Reid: “She’s a good person. I think the world of her. My Nevada politics keep me from publicly endorsing her, which I will not do. But anything I can do to help Elizabeth Warren short of the endorsement, I will do.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) “will deliver his own response to President Trump’s State of the Union address on Tuesday for the third year running,” The Hill reports. “His response will follow Trump’s speech and be streamed on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter…. at the same time that former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams delivers the official Democratic Party response.”
In a Dem primary where black women’s votes will be decisive, like they were last time, it is simply amazing that Sanders is choosing to upstage Stacey Abrams by giving a competing speech. His level of self importance is rivaled only by Trump.
“Many Senate Republicans are deeply opposed to President Trump declaring a national emergency to build his border wall, with enough resistance that the president might ultimately be forced to veto a measure intended to block him,” Politico reports.
“Interviews with a dozen GOP senators on Monday revealed broad efforts to wave Trump off from doing an end-run around Congress, part of an effort to avoid a politically perilous floor vote that could place them at odds with the president.”
Speaker Nancy Pelosi could force the vote in an effort to embarrass the president.
“Prosecutors in New York’s Southern District have reached out to President Trump’s inauguration committee and plan to subpoena the organization for documents, indicating that even as the special counsel probe appears to be nearing an end, another investigation that could hamstring the president and his lawyers is widening,” ABC Newsreports.
“The contact from the Southern District, which came from its public corruption section, is the latest activity focusing on Trump’s political fundraising both before and immediately after his 2016 election.”
New York Times: “A lawyer working with the inaugural committee received a subpoena on Monday evening seeking documents related to all of the committee’s donors and event attendees; any benefits handed out, including tickets and photo opportunities with the president; federal disclosure filings; vendors; contracts; and more.”
“Prosecutors also showed interest in whether any foreigners illegally donated to the committee, as well as whether committee staff knew that such donations were illegal, asking for documents laying out legal requirements for donations.”