President Trump boards Air Force One as he departs Pittsburgh on Thursday. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)
With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve.
THE BIG IDEA: With a possible government shutdown looming at midnight, President Trump still plans to leave the White House at 4:10 p.m. to spend the weekend at his resort in Palm Beach, Fla.
He is scheduled to celebrate the anniversary of his inauguration on Saturday with a fundraiser at his Mar-a-Lago Club. Tickets start at $100,000 per couple. The money will be divided between Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign and the Republican National Committee.
The optics are terrible, but it’s an apt end to the former reality TV star’s chaotic first trip around the sun as president.
Trump has spent one-third of his presidency, 120 days, at Trump-branded properties.
It’s also fitting that today is Friday. Every administration sees the end of the workweek as “trash day,” the best time to get bad stories out of the way with as little public notice as possible. Fewer people read Saturday papers, cable viewership drops off and it’s harder to get newsmakers on the phone to react.
The Friday news dump is one of the few norms Trump has embraced. It’s the rare illustration of his self-discipline and an ability to not succumb to a preternatural yearning for instant gratification.
In classic Trumpian fashion, he’s also taken the time-honored tradition to a whole new level. Stories that the White House hoped wouldn’t grow legs, especially related to personnel, have dropped nearly each of the past 51 Fridays.
While every day is chaotic in the Trump era, Fridays are especially so. Reporters who cover the West Wing have learned not to make evening plans. Editors have come to assume that they’ll need to stay late to redesign the front page with late-breaking news.
Last Jan. 20, on the West Front of the Capitol, Trump declared in his inaugural address that “American carnage stops right here and stops right now.”
Taking a trip down memory lane, here are a few of the most memorable Friday news dumps since then:
Jan. 27: Trump unveiled his first travel ban. Without consulting professionals at the departments of State, Defense and Homeland Security — or giving congressional leaders a heads up — the president abruptly banned nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States for 90 days. Syrians were banned indefinitely. This executive order would be blocked in court as unconstitutional, forcing a watered-down rewrite, but not before it caused confusion and chaos. Steve Bannon, who was White House chief strategist, later told author Michael Wolff that he wanted the rollout on a Friday “so the snowflakes would show up at the airports and riot” that weekend.
Feb. 3: Trump's first nominee to be secretary of the Army withdrew abruptly. Vincent Viola blamed the difficulty of divesting from his businesses, including the Florida Panthers hockey team, but the announcement also came after a story revealed that he had been accused of punching a concessions worker at a racehorse auction.
March 10: Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the purge of 46 U.S. attorneys. Many veteran federal prosecutors found out from a news release. It is common for presidents to ask U.S. attorneys appointed by their predecessors to resign, but this was a surprise because Senate Democrats had received assurances from the White House that the U.S. attorneys wouldn’t all be axed at once.
The timing remains suspicious. Preet Bharara, who as the chief federal law enforcement for Manhattan had jurisdiction over Trump Tower and other Trump business interests, was one of those who got fired. Trump reportedly asked him to stay on after the election, but he got dismissed just 22 hours after refusing to take a call from the president.
April 1: White House officials released the personal financial disclosure forms of about 180 top aides, as required by federal ethics rules, late on a Friday night. The Washington Post scrambled a team of journalists to pore over the documents through the night.
April 14: The White House announced its intention to keep visitor logs secret, reversing a transparency initiative started by Barack Obama.
Vivek Murthy speaks during a news conference at a mosquito control office in Orlando, Fla. (John Raoux/AP)
April 21: Trump dismissed Surgeon General Vivek Murthy. His opposition to e-cigarettes and support for gun control made him enemies.
April 28: The Environmental Protection Agency announced that its website would be “undergoing changes,” removing several websites containing detailed climate data and scientific information.
May 5: Trump’s second nominee for Army secretary, Mark Green, withdrew amid mounting opposition over past comments he made about Islam, evolution and gender issues.
May 12: Sessions issued sweeping new guidance instructing federal prosecutors to pursue the most severe penalties possible, including mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug crimes. The guidance represented a return to the failed policies that resulted in long sentences for many minority defendants and packed U.S. prisons.
May 19: Trump’s pick to be second-in-command at the Treasury Department, Goldman Sachs’s James Donovan, pulled out two months after being announced. The president still hasn’t picked a replacement.
June 2: George Conway, the husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, put out a statement withdrawing from contention to be the head of the Justice Department’s civil division.
Sean Spicer and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus watch President Trump present the U.S. Air Force Academy football team with a trophy in May 2017. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)
July 21: Sean Spicer stepped down as press secretary after Anthony Scaramucci got hired as communications director.
A revised financial disclosure form was also released that afternoon showing that Jared Kushner had improperly failed to disclose more than 70 assets worth at least $10.6 million. The Mooch, who got brought on partly because of his rapport with the president’s son-in-law, got fired just 10 days later after a profanity-laced tirade to the New Yorker.
July 28: Trump shunted aside Reince Priebus. Trump broke the news from Air Force One at around 5 p.m. by tweeting that John Kelly would be his new chief of staff. Priebus, who had joined the president on a day trip to Long Island, was in a Secret Service van on the tarmac at Joint Base Andrews when the message posted. His vehicle peeled away from the motorcade before Trump deplaned.
Aug. 18: Steve Bannon was fired. The director of the Office of Public Liaison, George Sifakis, departed and Carl Icahn relinquished his position as a special adviser to the president on the same day.
Aug. 25: Trump pardoned Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, removed Sebastian Gorka from the National Security Council and unveiled implementation orders for the transgender ban. He did this as Hurricane Harvey prepared to make landfall in Texas and North Korea conducted another ballistic missile test.
It turns out Hungarian police have an arrest warrant out for Gorka, and it was active the entire time he worked in the government. “Gorka, whose exact role in the White House while serving as a deputy assistant to the president was never entirely clear, apparently is in trouble with the law over a charge of ‘firearm or ammunition abuse,’” BuzzFeed reported yesterday. “The warrant … was issued on Sept. 17, 2016 … The details of Gorka's leaving the White House still remain murky … [And whether] or not Gorka possessed a security clearance during his months in the Trump administration is also at question[.]”
Sept. 1: The Justice Department conceded in a court filing that there is no evidence Obama ordered a wiretap of Trump Tower, as Trump had repeatedly insisted.
Russian President Vladimir Putin bathes Friday in ice-cold water from Lake Seliger in Svetlitsa village, Russia. Thousands of Russian Orthodox Church followers will plunge into icy rivers and ponds across the country to mark Epiphany, cleansing themselves with water deemed holy for the day. (Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo/AP)
Sept. 22: The Department of Homeland Security notified 21 states that they were targeted by hacking efforts possibly connected to Russia during the 2016 campaign. The administration declined to identify the states, forcing teams of reporters to canvas all 50 of them. Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin were among the places that confirmed they were targeted.
Sept. 29: Tom Price resigned as health and human services secretary, under pressure because of his use of private jets.
Dec. 22: The Interior Department rolled back an Obama-era policy aimed at protecting migratory birds by announcing that energy companies who accidentally kill birds will no longer be prosecuted. The administration also moved on the Friday before Christmas to renew expired leases for a copper and nickel mining operation on the border of a protected wilderness area in Minnesota.
Dec. 29: On the last Friday of the year, the Interior Department rescinded Obama-era limitations on fracking in public lands and weakened the rules that were designed to prevent another Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
THE SHUTDOWN STATE OF PLAY:
-- The House passed a short-term spending bill last night to keep the government running, but Senate Democrats have enough votes to shut it down. Mike DeBonis, Ed O'Keefe and Erica Werner report: “By Thursday evening, nine Senate Democrats who had voted for a prior spending measure in December said they would not support the latest proposed four-week extension, joining 30 other Democrats and at least two Senate Republicans [including Jeff Flake] — and leaving the bill short of the 60 votes needed to advance. As a result, Republican leaders — long on the defensive against claims that they were failing to govern — appeared emboldened as they sought to cast the Democrats as the obstacle to a compromise to keep critical government functions operating. …
[Republican leaders] did not lay out a Plan B to pursue if the House bill is ultimately rejected, except to finger Democrats for a shutdown.”
The uncertainty capped a hectic day for Republicans after Trump sent a morning tweet suggesting he didn’t want an extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program tied to a spending bill: “Republican lawmakers and aides, who were already pressed to secure enough GOP votes to get the bill through the House, scrambled to decipher Trump’s intentions. Much as he had to do a week ago after Trump tweeted about an intelligence bill, Ryan got on the phone with the president to clarify matters, and hours later, the White House confirmed that Trump indeed supported the bill. The tweets inflamed frustrations in both parties over what they characterized as an all-too-often uncooperative president.”
-- Trump addressed the possibility of a shutdown in a tweet this morning:
Government Funding Bill past last night in the House of Representatives. Now Democrats are needed if it is to pass in the Senate - but they want illegal immigration and weak borders. Shutdown coming? We need more Republican victories in 2018!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 19, 2018
IF THE GOVERNMENT SHUTS DOWN:
Who gets sent home? Darla Cameron and Lisa Rein have a comprehensive guide to each department here.
Will furloughed employees get back pay? “That is up to Congress and the White House,” Eric Yoder and Katie Mettler explain. “The precedent is that furloughed employees are later paid; that was done in the most recent partial shutdown, in October 2013.”
What will happen to CHIP? In short, there’s a very real risk the insurance program will run out of money. “Colorado, Virginia and Connecticut have already sent letters to parents warning them their kids' insurance might end as early as February because of Congress's inaction,” Heather Long reports. “More states are expected to issue notices to parents soon. … Both red and blue states are in trouble.”
After a year of natural disasters, how will FEMA recovery efforts be affected? “More than 3,000 of FEMA’s estimated 15,815 onboard employees would be suspended in the event of a [shutdown],” Amy B Wang reports. During the most recent shutdown, in 2013, FEMA furloughed 85 to 90 percent of “career” employees who were deemed nonessential.
Will national parks remain open? It’s unclear. “With government funding set to expire at midnight Friday, [Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke] was still working out details of a plan to permit the parks to function without rangers or other staff on site,” Lisa Rein and Juliet Eilperin report. “[But the] lack of finality was causing wide confusion across the park system. Officials from three sites said Thursday they were unsure how to proceed[.]”
-- If the stopgap spending bill gets approved, Trump could gain unusual power over intelligence priorities. Karoun Demirjian and Shane Harris report: “Lawmakers affiliated with the intelligence panels are scrambling to figure out why the short-term budget measure appears to sideline a long-standing law preventing the administration from spending money on intelligence activities Congress has not specifically authorized, or in exigent circumstances, Congress has not at least been notified of. The measure appears to render parts of that law … ‘notwithstanding,’ or null and void, until the budget extension expires in a month. … Congressional staffers with oversight of the intelligence community believe the ‘notwithstanding’ mistake may have been inserted in error, but they are inquiring as to whether it was an intentional effort to give the president unprecedented power to work around Congress.”
THE BLAME GAME:
-- “Public and private polling is giving each side something to hang their hat on” if there is a shutdown, Paul Kane writes. “For Democrats, there is hope in surveys showing that more Americans would blame Trump and the GOP. For Republicans, the numbers offer this glimmer: In conservative states, the blame would shift to Democrats if the public perceives the immigration issue as the reason for the impasse. … The reality that public opinion would probably fall somewhere in between means the public could lose, too, because neither side will have an incentive to surrender — raising the possibility of a prolonged shutdown of government services.”
-- “[T]he impasse raised deeper questions about the GOP’s capacity — one year into the Trump administration — to govern,” Damian Paletta and Erica Werner write. “
Never before has the government experienced a furlough of federal employees when a single party controls both the White House and Congress . . . While Democrats criticized Republicans for failing to do what was necessary to win their support to keep the government open — a responsibility that has historically fallen to the party in charge — even some Republicans acknowledged there had been a profound breakdown in how Washington is run.”
Unlike almost any president or administration before him, Trump has fanned the flames of a shutdown. Trump has repeatedly mused about the prospects of halting federal operations, saying at one point that the government needed a ‘good shutdown’ to teach Democrats a lesson. The budget he proposed last year was so sparse on key details that the Congressional Budget Office said it could not analyze its impact on revenue. His aides have not hashed out a broader spending agreement with GOP leaders or Democrats, and the White House and GOP leaders have remained split on how much money to appropriate for the military.
Senate Republicans spent the second half of 2017 immersed in tax negotiations, spending little time focused on how to pay the government’s bills this year. The Senate Appropriations Committee, which votes on spending bills, has held just one full committee hearing since July. Its chairman, Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), has missed large spells of time in office while battling health issues.
The House Budget Committee, meanwhile, has had three different chairmen in 14 months.
A visibly frustrated Marc Short, the White House’s legislative affairs director who is working to try to avoid a shutdown, placed all of the blame of the current predicament on Congress [writ large, not just Democrats]. In an event hosted by the University of Virginia on Thursday, he said everyone was hyperfocused on the government funding vote but not enough attention was being paid to all the missed opportunities in past months to avoid the deadline.
‘What’s missing in this conversation is the compete dysfunction of Congress and its inability to actually complete an appropriations process,’ Short said.”
-- Mitch McConnell normally holds his cards close to the vest, but he telegraphed his deep frustration with Trump during a news conference on Wednesday. “I’m looking for something that President Trump supports, and he has not yet indicated what measure he is willing to sign,” the majority leader said. “As soon as we figure out what he is for, then I would be convinced that we were not just spinning our wheels.”
-- Senate Republicans and White House officials have begun sniping at each other more aggressively on background to reporters. Expect more of this if the impasse is not broken:
GOP Senate aide texts, re Trump CHIP Tweet, “The Trump tweet blew up the GOP plan and moved high hurdle from House to Senate. Before that tweet this was a tough political call for Sen Dems. After that tweet, they have a windfall that lets Schumer gamble w the house’s money. “— Eliana Johnson (@elianayjohnson) January 19, 2018
From ABC News:
-- Vice President Pence accused anyone who opposes the stopgap of putting politics ahead of the military. He and Trump attended a Pentagon meeting yesterday where they were briefed on how a shutdown would affect more than 2 million military personnel. “At a time when we have U.S. soldiers in harm’s way in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan,” Pence said, “it would be unconscionable for Democrats in Congress to jeopardize funding for our military because some refuse to fund a border wall or reform immigration.” (Jenna Johnson)
-- In 2013, Trump said the blame for any shutdown automatically falls on the president:
TRUMP in 2013: "They talk about the government shutdown, they're going to be talking about the president of the United States — who was the president at that time? ... I really think the pressure is on the president." pic.twitter.com/dVur51wwpR— JM Rieger (@RiegerReport) January 19, 2018
-- From the nonpartisan election handicapper who publishes the Cook Political Report:
Make no mistake about it, when a party holds the White House and majorities in both the House and Senate, they “own” any government shutdown. Things the President has said and done over the last week have only increased the price the GOP has to pay for that ownership.— Charlie Cook (@CharlieCookDC) January 16, 2018
A FINE-TUNED MACHINE:
-- Trump is fuming at John Kelly, his top aide, for saying that his views on immigration were “uninformed” during the campaign. John Wagner, Josh Dawsey and Robert Costa report: “Trump had only positive things to say about Kelly when talking to reporters Thursday, but several Trump associates said the president was furious with his chief of staff both for what he said and for the tone he used, which Trump thought made it appear he was a child who had to be managed. One Trump associate who spoke to the president Wednesday night said Trump thought Kelly’s comments made him look bad and like he was giving in to Democrats. The president, this person said, particularly disliked the word ‘uninformed’ that appeared in news reports and has chafed for weeks at the characterization of himself as not intelligent and flighty in the best-selling book . . . by Michael Wolff.”
-- The chaos of the last two weeks has tanked morale in the West Wing — leaving staffers “exhausted,” even by the typical standards of Trump’s White House. Politico’s Andrew Restuccia reports: “The drama underlines a fundamental truth about Trump’s presidency: The faces may change, but it seems the storyline never does. Nearly six months after [Kelly took over from Priebus] as chief of staff, the president is as undisciplined as ever. That’s sent morale in the West Wing plunging to new depths[.] …
The current upheaval comes as senior administration officials are weighing whether to leave their jobs or stay in the government. ‘You’ve got people who have taken big pay cuts who aren’t millionaires and will at some point run out of money,’ said one White House official. ‘And you’ve got people who are just emotionally taxed and they’ve done everything they think they can achieve.’”
-- Politico’s Eliana Johnson and Burgess Everett write that Trump’s TV habits likely made the shutdown more likely: “The president began the day on Thursday by blasting out a tweet that threatened to derail a GOP legislative package designed to keep the government open, arguing that [CHIP] ‘should be part of a long-term solution, not a 30-day, or short-term, extension.’ … The [CHIP] deal had been discussed at length on ‘Fox & Friends,’ the president’s favorite morning television program, in the hour before he sent the missive — and [aides] immediately suspected that something on the program had prompted it[.] … The president, with his tweet, increased the likelihood of a government shutdown with the push of a button[.]”
-- “[W]hatever Trump’s personal fate, his Republican Party seems headed for electoral trouble — or worse,”
former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum writes in The Atlantic. “Yet it will require much more than Republican congressional defeats in 2018 to halt Trumpocracy. Indeed, such defeats may well perversely strengthen President Trump. Congressional defeats will weaken alternative power centers within the Republican Party. If they lose the House or the Senate or many governorships … then Republicans may feel all the more compelled to defend their president. … As the next presidential race nears, it will become ever more imperative to rally around Trump.
The more isolated Trump becomes within the American political system as a whole, the more he will dominate whatever remains of the conservative portion of that system.
He will devour his party from within.”
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
President Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen goes to the Capitol to be interviewed as part of the Russia investigations. (Andrew Harnik/AP)
-- Trump’s personal attorney used a private Delaware shell company and pseudonyms to pay former adult-film star Stormy Daniels $130,000 in hush money ahead of the 2016 election, the Wall Street Journal’s Joe Palazzolo and Michael Rothfeld report. “The lawyer, Michael Cohen, established Essential Consultants LLC, on Oct. 17, 2016 … corporate documents show. [Mr. Cohen] then used a bank account linked to the entity to send the payment to the client-trust account of a lawyer representing the woman, Stephanie Clifford (aka Stormy Daniels) . . . To further mask the identities of the people involved in the agreement, the parties used pseudonyms, with Ms. Clifford identified as ‘Peggy Peterson,’ according to a person familiar with the matter.”
-- In Touch published its >full interview
with Daniels. Here are a few quotes of the adult-film star recounting her encounters with Trump:
- “I mentioned [Melania]. I was like, ‘Yeah, what about your wife?’ He goes, ‘Oh, don’t worry about her.’ Quickly, quickly changed the subject.”
- “He had one of my DVDs and he asked me to sign it for him and I did.”
- “He didn’t seem worried about [people finding out about the affair]. He was kind of arrogant. It did occur to me, ‘That’s a really stupid move on your part.’ And it’s not like I went around and told anybody. No one ever really knew.”
- “He always called me from a blocked number.”
- “He told me once that I was someone to be reckoned with, beautiful and smart just like his daughter. She is smart and beautiful, so I guess that’s a compliment. But as far as family, that’s all he ever said. He definitely is very proud of her, as he should be.”
-- Trump appointee Carl Higbie resigned as
the head of external affairs for AmeriCorps after a litany of racist, sexist and homophobic comments he made in radio interviews were unearthed.)
From CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski:
In a 2013 radio appearance, Higbie said members of the “black race” have “lax morals.” He added that black women think “breeding is a form of government employment.”
He frequently discussed his dislike for Muslims and his “hatred” for their religious ideology. “I’m not afraid of them. I just don’t like them,” Higbie said. “Go back to your Muslim [s—thole] and go crap in your hands[.] … They are screwed up in the head and it makes, pisses me off,” he added.
He suggested American citizens with guns should be allowed to go to the border to shoot undocumented immigrants. “What's so wrong with wanting to put up a fence and saying, 'hey, everybody with a gun, if you want to go shoot people coming across our border illegally, you can do it fo' free,'" he said in a 2013 interview. “You cross my border, I will shoot you in the face,” Higbie added. “I will go down there. I'll volunteer to go down there and stand on that border for, I don't know, a week or so at a time . . . I'll volunteer to do it.”
And he referred to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) as a “[b—tch]” whose head “he would like to smack” into Nancy Pelosi’s. “I can't stand that woman,” he said of Feinstein. “Her and Pelosi. I'd love to just take both their heads and smack them together a couple of times.”
The Supreme Court ruled that North Carolina did not immediately have to redraw its congressional district maps. (Corey Lowenstein/The News & Observer via AP, File)
-- The GOP-controlled Supreme Court said that North Carolina does not immediately need to redraw its congressional maps, a big break for House Republicans, who control 10 of 13 of the state's House seats. But it means that midterm elections will be held in districts that a federal court ruled were unconstitutionally gerrymandered. “The decision was not unexpected, because the Supreme Court generally is reluctant to require the drawing of new districts before it has had a chance to review a lower court’s ruling that such an action is warranted, especially in an election year,” Robert Barnes reports.
A clerk reaches to a shelf to pick an item for a customer order at the Amazon Prime warehouse in New York. (Mark Lennihan/AP)
GET SMART FAST:
Amazon released its shortlist of 20 possible sites for its second headquarters. The list includes major metropolitan areas such as Dallas, Los Angeles and Atlanta
, as well as smaller communities like Pittsburgh, Nashville and Raleigh. D.C., Northern Virginia and Montgomery County, Md., also made the cut. (Brian Fung)
A bill requiring lawmakers to pay their own sexual harassment settlements was introduced in the House. The legislation would also provide added protections to those who come forward with sexual harassment claims and mandate a survey every two years. (Marwa Eltagouri)
Rex Tillerson said the United States will maintain a military presence in Syria — committing some 2,000 troops there indefinitely to hold off a “strategic” threat from Iran. (Liz Sly and Carol Morello)
The Trump Organization raised ethics concerns by offering prospective buyers at a new luxury apartment complex near New Delhi the opportunity to meet Donald Trump Jr. Ethics experts cited the offer as the latest example of the president’s family trying to profit off his name. (Annie Gowen)
A new report concluded that less than 16,000 donors provided half the federal campaign contributions in 2016. Super PACs spent over $1 billion in the 2016 elections, nearly 17 times more than what they spent in 2010. (Michelle Ye Hee Lee)
White supremacists in the United States killed more than twice as many people in 2017 as they did the previous year, according to a new Anti-Defamation League report, and were responsible for “far more deaths” than Islamic extremists in the country. Researchers also said 2017 was the fifth deadliest year on record for extremist violence in the this country. (HuffPost)
At least 14 Michigan State University representatives were warned about Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse during his decades-long tenure at the university, according to a Detroit News investigation
. Accusations from at least eight women surfaced as early as 1997 to trainers, coaches, a university police detective and an official who is now MSU’s assistant general counsel. The school denies covering up Nassar’s behavior.
Researchers at Boston University found that repeated hits to the head are more strongly linked to the onset of CTE than concussions — debunking a common-held belief about the neurodegenerative disease, which has been diagnosed most frequently in football players and combat veterans. (Cindy Boren)
Investigators with the Manhattan D.A.’s office raided Newsweek Media Group's New York headquarters,
taking photos of computer servers there. Newsweek said the search was related to technical information on the company’s computer servers, and said they were assured by the D.A.’s office the investigation didn't involve content. (CNNMoney)
Police disclosed more details about the lives of the 13 California siblings who were chained for long periods of time by their biological parents. They were severely malnourished and were only permitted to bathe once a year. Their punishment for “misbehaving” often included beatings or strangulation. (Marwa Eltagouri)
Nancy Pelosi will appear as a guest judge this season on RuPaul’s drag-queen competition show — joining the likes of Kristin Chenoweth and Vanessa Hudgens to help crown the next bewigged, stiletto-heeled contender. (Emily Heil)
Over 62 years after receiving an “unfavorable” discharge for being a lesbian, a former Air Force member has had her status upgraded to an “honorable” discharge. Helen James was forced out of the military after an investigation into her sexuality amid the “Lavender Scare.” (Kyle Swenson)
Steve Bannon leaves a House Intelligence Committee meeting where he was interviewed behind closed doors. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)
THERE'S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:
-- Trump personally instructed Steve Bannon to avoid questions from the House Intelligence Committee. Foreign Policy’s Murray Waas reports: “Trump acted to limit Bannon’s testimony based on legal advice provided by Uttam Dhillon, a deputy White House counsel, who concluded that the administration might have legitimate executive privilege claims to restrict testimony by Bannon and other current and former aides to the president[.] … But Dhillon has also concluded that Bannon and other current and former Trump administration officials do not have legitimate claims to executive privilege when it comes to providing information or testimony to special counsel Robert Mueller[.]”
-- The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.), accused the White House of trying to block Hope Hicks from testifying. Politico’s Kyle Cheney reports: “‘The Administration canceled entirely an interview scheduled for Friday with another key witness in our investigation,’ Schiff said of Hicks in a statement. ‘If that interview has been rescheduled, the date has not yet been shared with the Minority.’ His statement was met with a sharp rebuttal from the White House — an official said he was ‘not telling the truth’ — and committee Republicans affirmed that it was them, not the administration, who decided to reschedule Hicks’ appearance.”
-- Former FBI director James Comey plans to teach a course on ethical leadership at the College of William & Mary, his alma mater. Nick Anderson reports: “Comey … will have a nontenured position as an executive professor in education, the school announced Friday. His course will be offered through the W&M Washington Center to students of the public college based in Williamsburg, Va.”
Some 100 Jewish clergy and activists engage in civil disobedience within the Russell Senate Building supporting DACA. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)
-- The Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to review and overturn a federal judge’s ruling that requires DACA be kept in place. Robert Barnes reports: “Solicitor General Noel J. Francisco asked the court to add the case to its docket this term. That would be unusual because the justices usually wait for an appeals court to act before accepting a case, and because it is late in the game for the court to add cases to its oral argument calendar, which ends in April.
In his filing with the Supreme Court, Francisco said … [the] decision by Homeland Security to end the program ‘is a classic determination that is committed to agency discretion by law.’ He said a stay of [the judge’s] ruling would not be adequate, and that there was no reason to wait for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit to review it.”
-- Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer reportedly told Trump that it would be impossible to reach a DACA deal if Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) is involved in negotiations. Politico’s John Bresnahan and Heather Caygle report: “Cotton — and his role in the hugely controversial Jan. 11 Oval Office meeting over a potential Senate bipartisan compromise on Dreamers — has become a focus of particular Senate Democrats' ire. There seems to be something about the Arkansas Republican that especially angers them, and they're not shy about letting Trump know.”
-- Some evangelical leaders have sided with congressional Democrats in the debate over “dreamers,” citing the young immigrants’ plight as a “life” issue. Michelle Boorstein reports: “[S]everal of President Trump’s evangelical advisers met and held an emotional news conference Thursday with [Pelosi] to push for protection of ‘dreamers.’ … [Rev. Samuel] Rodriguez, who spoke at Trump’s inauguration, noted thousands of abortion opponents would rally Friday on the National Mall for the annual March for Life. Trump plans to address the marchers. ‘I believe in the sanctity of life. … To those members of Congress committed to life: It doesn’t finish when the baby is born. Womb to tomb,’ Rodriguez said at the news conference. ‘I’m staunchly committed to my “life” platform.’”
-- Nearly 9 in 10 Americans said they believe “dreamers” should be allowed to remain in the country, according to a new CBS News poll, though they are divided over whether the issue is worth risking a government shutdown. Meanwhile, a 61 percent majority say they oppose Trump’s border wall with Mexico — and if it is ultimately built, 85 percent of Americans (including majorities from both parties) believe the United States, and not Mexico, would foot the bill.
THE REST OF THE AGENDA:
-- HHS announced a new civil rights division tasked with protecting health-care workers who decline to participate in care that they say violates their moral or religious convictions. Ariana Eunjung Cha and Juliet Eilperin report: “On the HHS website Thursday, a Conscience and Religious Freedom section outlined the types of procedures likely to come under intensified federal scrutiny — accompanied by a photo of a female health-care worker in a Muslim headscarf. The description of the division's mandate cites abortion, sterilization and assisted suicide as examples of the types of procedures covered. But legal experts said the language appears likely to also cover a host of other scenarios, such as treating transgender patients or those seeking to transition to the opposite sex.”
-- The Senate voted to reauthorize Section 702 of FISA, sending the six-year renewal of warrantless wiretapping of foreigners on U.S. soil to Trump’s desk just one day before the deadline
. Karoun Demirjian reports: “The 65-to-34 vote on the legislation, which the president is expected to sign into law, marks the end of a months-long debate that exposed sharp divisions between privacy advocates and national security hawks in Congress . . . The legislation that passed the Senate on Thursday, and the House last week, requires law enforcement agents to procure a court order before they view the content of database searches for information about Americans, if they want to later use what they find in criminal cases.”
-- Our Finance 202 newsletter will be coming from the World Economic Summit in Davos next week. Check out Tory Newmyer's dispatches by signing up here.
-- The Trump administration is pushing to relocate the American Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv by 2019. The New York Times’s Mark Landler reports: “The administration’s plans, following Mr. Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, suggest it no longer cares about cushioning the blow of the new policy, which has drawn angry protests from Palestinians and other Arabs and cast Mr. Trump’s peacemaking ambitions into doubt.”
-- U.S. Customs and Border Protection is facing a severe staffing shortage. Nick Miroff reports: “CBP has a nationwide deficit of 3,700 officers[.] … The shortfall points to an aspect of U.S. border security that has received little attention in the debate over Trump’s immigration agenda.
Trump has called for 5,000 additional Border Patrol agents, even as the number of people arrested for illegally crossing the border has fallen to a 46-year low. Border Patrol agents now make fewer than two arrests per month on average. Meanwhile, the workload has grown larger for the blue-uniformed CBP officers who are deployed to 328 ports of entry nationwide, including international airports and border crossings.”
-- California’s attorney general warned that employers who aid in expected immigration sweeps by federal authorities could face legal consequences. The Sacramento Bee’s Angela Hart reports: “‘It’s important, given these rumors that are out there, to let people know — more specifically today, employers — that if they voluntarily start giving up information about their employees or access to their employees in ways that contradict our new California laws, they subject themselves to actions by my office,’ state Attorney General Xavier Becerra said at a news conference. ‘We will prosecute those who violate the law.’ … Becerra repeatedly referred to the reports as ‘rumors,’ and said the state Department of Justice was not aware of planned sweeps targeting Northern California, in particular.”
-- Salvadoran immigrants whose temporary protected status is slated to expire before the program ends have 60 days to renew it. Renewals would last until Sept. 9, 2019, when the program is currently slated to end. (Maria Sacchetti)
-- As the Trump administration rolls back Obama-era regulations meant to combat climate change, two government agencies concluded that 2017 was one of the hottest years ever recorded. (Chris Mooney)
-- Congress hasn't acted on bump stocks, so state and local officials are now moving to ban the gun accessory. Katie Zezima reports: “At least 15 states are considering laws that would ban bump stocks, as is Denver. Columbia, S.C., barred them last year. The devices already are illegal in California, and some other states with bump stock restrictions are trying to tighten them. They include New Jersey, where, in one of his last acts in office, former Gov. Chris Christie (R) on Monday completely barred bump stocks from the state.”
THE ROAD TO 2018 (AND 2020):
-- Trump traveled to western Pennsylvania, where he sought to both rally support for his tax plan and vouch for Republican House candidate Rick Saccone ahead of next month’s special election to replace Rep. Tim Murphy (R). Ashley Parker and Robert Costa report: “Trump’s double duty at a heavy equipment manufacturer just north of Pittsburgh on Thursday — trying to sell his agenda while also staving off the loss of a reliably Republican seat in a district he won by 19 points — was underscored by a tweet he sent ahead of the trip. ‘Will be going to Pennsylvania today to give my total support to RICK SACCONE, running for Congress in a Special Election (March 13),’ Trump wrote … ‘Rick is a great guy. We need more Republicans to continue our already successful agenda!’”
-- Trump’s Pennsylvania appearance marked his first significant foray into a battleground state since he threw his weight behind Roy Moore in last month’s Senate election, our colleagues write. “At a private meeting at Camp David this month, House Republican leaders explained to Trump that he faces a possibly dire midterm cycle and included talk of the Pennsylvania race in the presentation[.] … Now the Keystone State contest has become the latest test for the White House — and an attempt to bounce back after the Alabama loss.”
-- “Legal experts said Trump’s comments fit a pattern of casting doubt on the official status of events,
potentially requiring campaign committees or Republican Party groups to pick up part of the cost of the
president’s travel and other costs associated with his appearance,” Politico’s Aubree Eliza Weaver writes. “Richard Painter, who served as an ethics lawyer [for George W. Bush], said an ‘off-the-cuff’ remark on stage was not enough to convert an official event into a political one. But Trump’s statement on Twitter on Thursday was more problematic because it suggested in advance of his visit that the main purpose was political[.]”
-- Mike Pence is planning an aggressive travel schedule to boost Republicans before the midterms. Politico’s Alex Isenstadt reports: “Pence is slated to take over a dozen political trips through April, most of them to assist House Republicans who are fighting to keep control of the chamber. … The vice president will stump for several endangered House GOP incumbents In February and March, including Texas Rep. Will Hurd, Kentucky Rep. Andy Barr, and Nebraska Rep. Don Bacon. He will also venture to Minnesota and Iowa, where several Republican lawmakers are facing tough races.”
-- As the midterm elections approach, Barack Obama is planning to take on a bigger role — and is already strategizing behind the scenes with DNC chairman Tom Perez and Eric Holder. Politico’s Edward-Isaac Dovere reports: "[People close to Obama] say he’ll shift into higher gear: campaigning, focusing his endorsements on down-ballot candidates, and headlining fundraisers. He’ll activate his 15,000-member campaign alumni association for causes and candidates he supports — including the 40 who are running for office themselves. Obama isn’t expecting to make campaign appearances until the fall … Throughout, Obama is determined not to become the foil that he can see President Donald Trump clearly wants, and resist being the face of the Resistance for his own party.”
-- Democratic voters appear to be skeptical about an Oprah Winfrey 2020 run. David Weigel reports: “[One] poll, released Wednesday by Morning Consult and Politico, found Winfrey trailing in hypothetical primary contests against former vice president Joe Biden (by 23 points) and against Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) (by nine points). Winfrey led Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) by just four points; she enjoyed a substantial, 21-point lead over only Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), who has the smallest national profile of the group.”
-- The Cook Political Report’s Amy Walter writes that the 2006 midterms offered Democrats a route to taking back the House in 2016 despite an unfavorable map: “[T]he conventional wisdom has held that the map has gotten much less favorable to Democrats in the House since 2006, thanks in large part to the fact that Republicans controlled the redistricting process in many significant battleground states in 2012, taking many formerly competitive seats off the table. But, as [Mitch McConnell] warned everyone very early in the cycle, ‘don’t fall in love with the map.’ In fact,
when you look more closely at the kinds of districts Republicans are defending in 2018, they don’t look much different from those they had to defend in 2006.”
-- And Democrats, more so than Republicans, are looking forward to the midterms. Pew reports: “Currently, 69% of Democratic registered voters say they are looking forward to the midterms, compared with 58% of Republicans. At this point in 2014, Republicans were 12-percentage points more likely than Democrats to say they were anticipating the election and the gap was comparable early in 2010 (15 points). Liberal Democrats, in particular, are looking forward to the midterms: 83% say that today, compared with 59% in 2014 and 48% in 2010.”
President Trump stands beside his daughter, Ivanka, as she speaks at his event in Pennsylvania on Thursday. (Keith Srakocic/AP)
LOOKING BACK ON TRUMP'S FIRST YEAR:
reviews four books about Year One in Trump’s America for this Sunday's Outlook section: “Together, these books portray a leader whose norm-busting impulses are leavened only by incompetence and distraction. The risk of lasting damage to democratic traditions, the authors argue, is heightened by a complicit Republican Party.” The books: “Trumpocracy: The Corruption of the American Republic,” by Frum; “It’s Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration Is Doing to America,” by David Cay Johnston; “Trump’s First Year,” by Michael Nelson and “How Democracies Die,” by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt.
-- Trump’s inaugural committee raised a record $106.7 million last year for his swearing-in ceremony, and officials have refused to disclose how much surplus money exists or to provide any final accounting of finances. USA Today’s Fredreka Schouten reports: “[Thomas] Barrack, a California investment manager and longtime Trump friend, has said consistently that remaining funds would go [to] charity …’ [Melania Trump spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham] has said some of the leftover funds went to renovation to the White House and the Naval Observatory …”
Obama’s former inaugural chairman Steve Kerrigan said he was “shocked” that Trump’s team is not disclosing more information about how the money is being used. “It is alarming that you would potentially have at least $50 million left over and no sense of how it was spent,” he said.
-- The Wall Street Journal’s Peter Nicholas and Rebecca Ballhaus compiled remarks Trump has made behind closed doors over the past year that didn’t make headlines. For example: “Mr. Trump had an idea about how to counter the nuclear threat posed by North Korea, which he got after speaking to Russian President Vladimir Putin: If the U.S. stopped joint military exercises with the South Koreans, it could help moderate Kim Jong Un’s behavior. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis used an approach that aides say can work: ‘He says, “Your instincts are absolutely correct,” and then gets him [the president] to do the exact opposite of what his instincts say,’ said one person close to the White House.”
-- Trump’s Twitter feed, then and now: In August 2016, Trump pledged to give up Twitter if he won the presidency. “Don’t worry, I’ll give it up after I’m president,” he told attendees at a Rhode Island campaign rally. “We won’t tweet anymore. I don’t know. Not presidential.”
In fact, Trump’s tweets have come to dominate his presidency — and, since entering the White House, he has tweeted approximately 2,601 times.
-- Trump’s approval rating today (37 percent) is almost identical to what it was shortly after his inauguration (39 percent). But he is now viewed much more critically on keeping his promises, which was previously one of his highest-rated traits. Last February, 60 percent of Americans said Trump kept his promises, compared to 39 percent now. (Pew)
-- Federal prosecutors have decided to drop the majority of cases against Inauguration Day protesters. Keith L. Alexander reports: “The U.S. attorney’s office in the District said it was dismissing charges against 129 people awaiting trial. Prosecutors said they would move ahead with cases against the 59 who they say were directly involved in the riots.”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Capitol Hill went into pre-shutdown mode, per a Post reporter:
At the Cap as night falls. Pizza boxes being delivered to House GOP leadership, aides rushing by. Hard-liners sending me furious text messages. A shutdown looms. Feels strangely familiar... #2013— Robert Costa (@costareports) January 18, 2018
From an NBC reporter:
Don’t worry guys, I picked up some shutdown snacks... pic.twitter.com/7FArb60UHW— Frank Thorp V (@frankthorp) January 18, 2018
Republicans blamed the looming crisis on their Democratic colleagues. From the No. 2 Senate Republican:
We don’t need a #SchumerShutdown— Senator John Cornyn (@JohnCornyn) January 18, 2018
From an adviser to Paul Ryan:
While it is a *very* smart take to point out Rs have a majority in the House and Senate, it is also purposefully obtuse to ignore that in the Senate a minority can filibuster and block any legislation.— Brendan Buck (@BrendanBuck) January 19, 2018
What should be pretty obvious at this point is Democrats are TRYING to shut down the government. That, quite clearly, is their stated strategy.— Brendan Buck (@BrendanBuck) January 19, 2018
The top Senate Democrat blamed Trump:
Nobody wants to shut down the govt, not Dems, not the GOP.
The only one who has ever rooted for a shutdown is @realDonaldTrump who said our country could use “a good shutdown” – only he could come up with that. But no shutdown can be good for the American people.— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) January 19, 2018
Hillary Clinton former spokesman, and an alumnus of Schumer's office, previewed Democratic messaging:
Very proud to be a Democrat tonight as our senators stand up to a racist President on behalf of vulnerable young immigrant kids whose only sin is wanting to become Americans.— Brian Fallon (@brianefallon) January 19, 2018
From a Politico reporter:
Sen. Mark Warner is fundraising off his “no” vote on the CR. pic.twitter.com/cXxbRTR3UN— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) January 18, 2018
From the MSNBC host:
Question for Trumpists: why exactly is it OK with you that your president is demanding that congress pass a bill making American taxpayers — as in you — pay for the wall he vowed would be paid for by Mexico?— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) January 19, 2018
From a House Democrat:
Trump going to mar-a-lago while government shutdown looms is most irresponsible,self absorbed,dereliction of duty ever by a President.This man doesn’t comprehend work ethic,the office of President,or duty to the country.He understands golf,ice cream,and Big Macs!— Steve Cohen (@RepCohen) January 19, 2018
House conservatives called for the public release of a memo on government surveillance under FISA. From the House Freedom Caucus chairman:
I viewed the classified report from House Intel relating to the FBI, FISA abuses, the infamous Russian dossier, and so-called "Russian collusion." What I saw is absolutely shocking.January 19, 2018
The Iowa GOP congressman helped get #ReleaseTheMemo trending on Twitter:
I have read the memo. The sickening reality has set in. I no longer hold out hope there is an innocent explanation for the information the public has seen. I have long said it is worse than Watergate. It was #neverTrump & #alwaysHillary. #releasethememo— Steve King (@SteveKingIA) January 19, 2018
A House Democrat announced her State of the Union guest, per a Guardian reporter:
Rep. Debbie Dingell has invited the wife of Jorge Garcia, 39-year-old father deported to Mexico after living in US for 30 years, as her guest for State of the Union.— Sabrina Siddiqui (@SabrinaSiddiqui) January 18, 2018
Chris Christie refuted a story that he was blocked from using a VIP entrance at Newark Airport:
Absolutely false story about my travel today. NJSP security detail & I were led to one entrance in the airport by PAPD officer. TSA informed PAPD and NJSP that this was the wrong way to enter and directed us to another entrance where I was screened & admitted to the airport(1/2)— Governor Christie (@GovChristie) January 18, 2018
Neither option was the way I entered airport as Governor(wrong in the story) and PAPD officer never denied me entry at either place (also wrong in story). He was a gentleman assisting my security detail. When he got the right info he took me to the right place. Pure fiction.(2/2)— Governor Christie (@GovChristie) January 18, 2018
A Fox News chyron proposed a new movement in response to #MeToo:
Trump won't be happy with today's cover of his hometown paper:
Minnesota's congressional delegation cheered on their home team:
Fun MN delegation lunch as always! Can you tell we're excited for the @Vikings game on Sunday? @RepTimWalz @RepJasonLewis @BettyMcCollum04 @keithellison @RepTomEmmer @collinpeterson @USRepRickNolan @amyklobuchar @SenTinaSmith #Skol #BringItHome pic.twitter.com/wcLHDSQkUH— Rep. Erik Paulsen (@RepErikPaulsen) January 18, 2018
And Pope Francis oversaw this matrimonial moment:
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
-- Wall Street Journal, “Six Chinese Ships Covertly Aided North Korea. The U.S. Was Watching,” by Michael R. Gordon and Chun Han Wong: “Satellite photographs and other intelligence gathered by U.S. officials provide what they say is detailed evidence of at least six Chinese-owned or -operated cargo ships violating United Nations sanctions against North Korea. … The effort identified the ships by name and tracked their movements. The ships either entered ports in North Korea and transported what U.S. officials concluded was illicit cargo to Russia and Vietnam or made ship-to-ship transfers at sea. According to the U.S., which presented the information to a U.N. sanctions committee, the ships also made extensive maneuvers designed to disguise their violations of the U.N. sanctions.”
-- New York Times, “Tax Overhaul Is a Blow to Affordable Housing Efforts,” by Conor Dougherty: “The last time that Congress approved a sweeping overhaul of the federal tax code, in 1986, it created a tax credit meant to encourage the private sector to invest in affordable housing. It has grown into a $9 billion-a-year social program that has funded the construction of some three million apartments for low-income residents. But the Republican tax plan approved last month amounts to a vast cutback, making it much less likely that such construction will continue apace. Because the tax rate for corporations has been lowered, the value of the credits — which corporations get in return for their investments — is also lower.”
,” by Adam Ciralsky: “Before the story of his alleged abuses broke in October, Harvey Weinstein hunkered down in his Tribeca bunker—even as the producer refused to believe the end was near. …
Weinstein, as it turned out, had out-run his demons for much of his adult life. And yet, the last reel of his days at the helm of his company would play out like a Weinstein movie. Who could have imagined that a man who had once been Hollywood’s King of Indie Films would be taken down so precipitously? Or that the lives and careers of so many other alleged victimizers, in the weeks that followed, would also be left in shambles? But as Weinstein saw that his time and his options were running out, he began to scramble. And as revealed here for the first time, he decided to take matters into his own hands …”
-- Bloomberg Businessweek: “ >The Fall of Travis Kalanick Was a Lot Weirder and Darker Than You Thought
>The Fall of Travis Kalanick Was a Lot Weirder and Darker Than You Thought
,” by Eric Newcomer and Brad Stone: “Silicon Valley CEOs are supposed to be sacrosanct. So how did it all go wrong at Uber?”
HOT ON THE LEFT:
HOT ON THE LEFT:
“GOP Lawmaker Falsely Claims ISIS Behind Las Vegas Shooting,” from >the Daily Beast: “‘I smell a rat like a lot of Americans. Nothing’s adding up,’ Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson. Claiming to have what he ‘believes’ is ‘credible evidence,’ Perry cast doubt on investigators’ assertions that Stephen Paddock was the lone gunman in the attack and suggested a ‘terrorist nexus’ was involved. He claimed to personally have information about ‘terrorist infiltration through the southern border.’ ‘Let’s face it, ISIS, twice before the attack, warned the U.S. they would attack Las Vegas… and then after the attack claimed responsibility four times. Meanwhile, the local law enforcement investigative services are telling us there is no terrorist connection.’ When pressed to provide more details on what ‘evidence’ he has to support this theory, Perry said he was ‘not able’ to reveal anything.”
HOT ON THE RIGHT
“Trump consumer protection chief requests $0 in funding,” from >CNN: “The Trump administration has requested zero funding for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the latest sign change may be coming to the agency. … Former director Richard Cordray, an Obama appointee, requested $217.1 million last year. He also asked for $86.6 million for the prior quarter. … [Interim Director Mick] Mulvaney asked for $0. … In a letter to Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen on Thursday, [Mulvaney] said the bureau already has $177.1 million in its coffers – more than enough funds to cover the $145 million the CFPB's expenses for the second fiscal quarter. … Instead, Mulvaney, who is also Trump's budget director, said the Fed could use that money to help pay down the country's deficit.”
Trump will address the March for Life from the Rose Garden and meet with his national security team before leaving for Palm Beach, Fla.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“It is a nasty place,” Trump said of Washington during his trip to Pennsylvania. “But we’re getting it. Nobody thought we were going to have this kind of success so quickly.
“It is a nasty place,” Trump said of Washington during his trip to Pennsylvania. “But we’re getting it. Nobody thought we were going to have this kind of success so quickly.
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- D.C. will see warmer temperatures through early next week. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Clear, sunny skies should quickly boost a frigid morning toward a thaw’tastic afternoon high temperatures near 50, at least. Perhaps even a few mid-50s? Leftover snow on the ground and ice on our waterways are likely to begin getting decimated!”
-- Washington could be a bit more congested than usual, with the March for Life happening today and the Women’s March on Washington tomorrow. (Luz Lazo)
-- The Capitals lost to the Devils 4-3 in overtime. (Jesse Dougherty)
-- Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has more campaign cash than all seven of his potential Democrat challengers combined. Fenit Nirappil reports: “The numbers — Hogan and Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford (R) raised $5.4 million in the past year and have accumulated a $9 million war chest — illustrate the daunting task Democrats face as they try to wrest back the governor’s mansion from an extremely popular incumbent. … With $2 million in the bank, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz had the most campaign cash of any Democratic gubernatorial hopeful.”
-- A bill that would allow D.C. to upgrade Franklin Square Park passed the House. If enacted, the District plans to spend $13.9 million to add a cafe, public restrooms and a playground to the downtown park. (Rachel Chason)
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Late-night hosts mocked Trump's “Fake News Awards”:
The vice president addressed the March for Life organizers ahead of today's event:
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) tried to stay on Trump's good side after the “shithole” meeting:
Lindsey Graham can't confirm that Trump said "shithole countries." @DanaBashCNN: "Why can't you?" Graham: "Because I want to make sure that I can keep talking to the president." https://t.co/9Tugkz2beg— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) January 18, 2018
A meteor lit up the night sky in Michigan, with some local residents comparing the sight to a “ball of flame”: