The Hill’s Morning Report — McConnell tells Pence shutdown must end
***BREAKING NEWS … President Trump’s former adviser Roger Stone has been indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller on charges of witness tampering and lying to Congress. Read the indictment HERE.***
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Republicans are wavering as the partial government shutdown reaches 35 days and polls show President Trump absorbing the bulk of the blame.
On Thursday, six GOP senators peeled off to vote in favor of a bill to reopen the government with no additional wall funding, compared to only one Democrat who voted in favor of Trump’s proposed immigration deal. Both “messaging votes” failed in the Senate, as expected (The Hill).
But the real drama happened behind closed doors, where GOP senators – from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on down – vented their frustration to Vice President Pence and demanded that Trump bring the shutdown to an end as soon as possible.
From The Hill’s Alexander Bolton:
One of the most remarkable moments during the Senate luncheon came when McConnell told Pence that shuttering the government to try to secure funding for a border wall was not a smart approach.
“McConnell talked about how we need to bring this process to a close; we should never have had a shutdown; they don’t work; I’ve said this numerous times; I don’t know how many times I’ve told you there’s no education in the second kick of a mule,” said a GOP source familiar with the meeting.
The Washington Post: GOP senators clash over shutdown blame.
Here’s where things stand:
The White House
Pressure is growing on Trump after his proposal went down in the Senate and GOP senators vented their frustration to the vice president.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) says he spoke to the president on Thursday and urged him to consider temporarily reopening the government while negotiations over wall money continue.
Trump said he would consider a three-week continuing resolution – if it includes “some sort of pro-rated down payment on the wall.” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the down payment would have to be “large.”
Senate Democrats and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) shot that down immediately.
“This is not a reasonable agreement.” – Pelosi
Trump also said he has “other alternatives” he’s considering. One of these options is to declare a national emergency.
McConnell and Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) huddled immediately after the dueling bills went down in the Senate, a sign of the sudden urgency to find a compromise.
A bipartisan group of moderates is pitching a three-week stopgap bill, hoping that Trump will agree to temporarily reopen the government while negotiations continue (The Hill).
There was also some talk about “broadening negotiations” in hopes of finding new incentives that could lead to a way out.
“I actually think the president will have moved this process forward … by beginning the process of expanding it so that we can reach a conclusion.” – Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.)
Either way, Senate Republicans are growing restless and are eager to bring an end to the impasse, with wall money or not.
“You can’t [resolve the border dispute] when the government is shut down.” – Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)
“Compromise is not a dirty word. It is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength.” — Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine)
Pelosi is riding it out.
There was talk from some top Democrats about a counteroffer to Trump that would include billions of dollars for “smart wall” technology but nothing for a physical barrier.
Pelosi disputed reports that House Democrats are preparing to offer anything additional to Trump (The Hill).
“That’s not true. That’s not true. That’s not true.” – Pelosi
The Hill: Dems strengthen hand in shutdown fight.
The Hill: Trump, GOP losing shutdown fight in court of public opinion.
Federal workers impacted by the shutdown will miss their second consecutive paychecks on Friday. Tax filing season begins on Monday and could get messy (CNBC).
LEADING THE DAY
CONGRESS: The Senate Intelligence Committee subpoenaed former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen to testify in February and he will comply, Cohen’s lawyer said.
Cohen pleaded guilty last year to lying to Congress in 2017 and will be asked by senators to correct the record about matters related to his previous testimony (CNN). He is due to report to federal prison in March.
The Senate committee’s hearings about Russia and matters that intersect with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation have to date been conducted behind closed doors, a likely scenario with Cohen.
The man who once called himself Trump’s “fixer” postponed his public testimony scheduled Feb. 7 before the House Oversight and Reform Committee, citing “threats” he said Trump and attorney Rudy Giuliani made about him and his family.
The chairmen of the House Oversight and Intelligence committees have said they will continue to pursue testimony from Cohen, but dates and details, and whether subpoenas will be issued, remained unclear on Thursday.
Meanwhile, progressive groups want Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), the chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, to request from the Treasury Department copies of the president’s tax returns, which Trump maintains are under IRS audit and will not be made public (The Hill).
Neal is defending his approach at the outset of the new Congress (Bloomberg).
“This has to be part of a carefully prepared and documented legal case,” the chairman told reporters Thursday.
Many Democrats in 2016 objected in principle to candidate Trump’s decision not to disclose his business and personal tax filings. Others continue to assert that as president, Trump seeks to obscure financial details he believes might be politically or legally injurious. Analysts recently told Hill.TV that most Americans want to see the president’s tax filings.
➔ Profiles: Meet Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), the first Muslim women to serve in Congress. They’re attracting unusual scrutiny from Republicans and conservative media outlets during their early weeks in Washington (The Hill). … And The New York Times profiles Pelosi as “tough as nails.”
IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
POLITICS: The 2020 Democratic presidential contenders are fanning out across the country to lay out their platforms, defend past positions and shape their biographical stories.
> The Washington Post reports that Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) will propose a “wealth tax” on Americans with $50 million or more in assets.
> Former Vice President Joe Biden, who has taken heat from the left for giving a paid speech last year in support of a GOP incumbent who was in a tight House race with a Democrat, says he’s unmoved by the criticism (The Daily Beast).
“I read in The New York Times today that one of my problems is, if I ever run for president, I like Republicans. Well, bless me, father, for I have sinned.” — Biden
> Sen. Kamala Harris’s (D-Calif.) past has come into focus for her relationship with then-San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown when she was an up-and-coming prosecutor (Politico).
> Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo), who was under consideration to be Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential nominee, ginned up his own presidential buzz on Thursday with a fiery floor speech denouncing the shutdown (The Washington Post).
> Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) released a new presidential campaign ad highlighting her military service and warning against “interventionist regime change wars.”
Gabbard has a lot of enemies on the left. The Daily Kos announced Wednesday they’ll back her primary challenger in the House, citing Gabbard’s “problematic history on abortion rights, her support for Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, and her refusal to join her Democratic colleagues in the House in backing progressive priorities like an assault weapons ban.”
More from the campaign trail … The Koch network, which holds a retreat for donors this weekend, decided to stay out of the 2020 presidential race and will not back Trump for reelection (The Washington Post) …Young voters keep moving to the left on social issues, including Republicans (The New York Times).
➔ And spotted at last night’s Washington Wizards game…
Pelosi watched her hometown Golden State Warriors beat the Wizards 126 to 118 last night at Capital One Arena. Shortly before the game, the Warriors hung out with former President Obama. Obama and Warriors star Stephen Curry are golf buddies.
The Morning Report is created by journalists Jonathan Easley & Alexis Simendinger. We want to hear from you! @firstname.lastname@example.org and @email@example.com. We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!
White House immigration agenda hurts Senate Republicans in 2020, by Jordan Bruneau, opinion contributor, The Hill. http://bit.ly/2FWXzed
Venezuela’s curse is nearing his end, by Carolyn Kissane of New York University, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2MuY4NV
WHERE AND WHEN
The House meets for pro forma purposes at 2 p.m.
The Senate meets at noon for pro forma business.
The president has lunch with Pompeo at 12:30 p.m. At 1:45 p.m., Trump hosts a discussion with U.S. mayors about the economy, and at 2:45 p.m. he holds a roundtable with Hispanic pastors.
> Venezuela: The United States is shifting its financial support for the Venezuelan people to the interim government of Juan Guaidó (Reuters). However, during a press conference on Thursday top military brass in Caracas vowed to back President Nicolás Maduro amid continued national unrest (The Associated Press). Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged allies in Latin America and in Europe to support Guaidó (Reuters).
“The Venezuelan people rose up to take back their country.” — Pompeo, interviewed on Fox News
“What we’re focusing on today is disconnecting the illegitimate Maduro regime from the source of its revenues.” — White House national security adviser John Bolton
On Thursday, the State Department ordered non-emergency U.S. government employees to leave Venezuela and advised all other Americans in the country to consider departing for safety reasons.
> Khashoggi murder: A United Nations expert will lead an international inquiry into the October killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi (Reuters). Meanwhile, at the annual World Economic Forum in Switzerland this week, participants from Saudi Arabia attempted to move beyond the Khashoggi slaying, which was committed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, during events in the Alps with international peers (Reuters).
> Media: BuzzFeed, HuffPost and Gannett wrestled this week with announcements of employee layoffs, citing ongoing struggles to find revenue models that can sustain the digital news and newspaper companies. This week alone, the media industry nationwide lost about 1,000 jobs (CNN). “Profits have proved elusive in an advertising market dominated by two giants — Google and Facebook,” wrote The Washington Post’s Paul Farhi about challenges faced inside digital news outlets.
> Manafort: Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is due back in court today as prosecutors and defense lawyers argue over whether he lied to investigators (The Associated Press).
> Alzheimer’s: Researchers have found a strong link between toxic enzymes produced by bacteria in gum disease and patients with Alzheimer’s, raising hopes for diagnostic tests and possible treatment (Science News).
> Sleep: Lack of sleep is hazardous to human health and may shorten life, scientists warn (The Washington Post). … Rocking motion puts adults to sleep faster, makes slumber deeper and improves memory, scientists report. Beyond swaying in a hammock, rocking beds are a thing (Science News).
And finally … Kudos to Morning Report quiz winners!
We were inspired by the anniversary of the first sales of Macintosh computers in 1984 and want to congratulate the quiz masters this week who correctly answered five questions tied to news about Apple: Milt Mungo, William Chattam, David Straney, Barbara Gary, Rosemary Morretta, Carolyn Dixon and Sandy Sycafoose.
They knew that Wall Street analysts trimmed projections this month for the price of Apple stock because iPhone sales are projected to decline in 2019 (The New York Times and Investors.com).
In 1984 when Steve Jobs unveiled the Macintosh in California, the price tag was $2,500 (watch his presentation HERE).
Apple stirred some controversy last year when it introduced the latest Apple Watch and boasted it can detect cardiac performance akin to a medical electrocardiogram (The New York Times).
Apple’s now-famous and award-winning “1984” commercial for the Macintosh computer, which aired once during the 1984 Super Bowl, was the work of film director Ridley Scott, who was already hailed at that time for 1979’s “Alien” and 1982’s “Blade Runner.” (During an interview HERE, Scott said he envisioned the Macintosh commercial as a mini-film drawn from ad agency Chiat/Day’s story boards and script.)
Apple CEO Tim Cook last week advocated for greater consumer privacy online with a proposal for a clearinghouse of data brokers, to be regulated by the Federal Trade Commission, which he argued could allow consumers to delete their data (TIME and WIRED).
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