Robert Mueller, then the FBI director, arrives for a speech at the bureau’s headquarters in 2009. (Brendan Smialowski/Bloomberg News)
With Joanie Greve and Mariana Alfaro
THE BIG IDEA: Americans across the partisan divide believe strongly and overwhelmingly that special counsel Bob Mueller’s final report on his investigation should be made public in its entirety, and a 56 percent majority trusts Mueller’s version of the facts more than President Trump’s, according to a new Washington Post-Schar School poll.
The survey finds that 81 percent of adults nationally believe Mueller’s report should be released, including 79 percent of Republicans. Overall, 64 percent of respondents said they feel “strongly” that the report must be made public. Just 15 percent think it should not be published.
These numbers are striking because Trump’s attorney general nominee, William Barr, who is poised to be confirmed by the full Senate this week on a largely party-line vote, has pointedly declined to commit to releasing Mueller’s report. Barr has said his goal will be to provide as much transparency as he can consistent with the law, but he’s also said that Mueller’s conclusions “will be handled as a confidential document” and emphasized that Justice Department guidelines discourage the disclosure of negative information about people who are not being charged with crimes. (DOJ guidelines say that a sitting president cannot be indicted.)
— The new poll finds that a 61 percent majority of Americans would support Congress impeaching the president and trying to remove him from office if Mueller’s report says Trump authorized his 2016 campaign to coordinate with the Russian government. That includes 29 percent of Republicans. Overall, 33 percent would oppose impeaching Trump even if Mueller finds that Trump authorized collusion with Russia, which the president vigorously denies, including 67 percent of Republicans and 30 percent of independents.
— Right now, 51 percent approve of Mueller’s handling of the investigation, with 34 percent disapproving. That’s essentially unchanged from a similar question asked a year ago. Meanwhile, 35 percent approve of Trump’s response to Mueller’s investigation, with 52 percent disapproving. “There are a significant number of people keeping an open mind about what the report will ultimately conclude,” said Mark Rozell, dean of the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University, which partnered with The Post on the poll.
— “Attitudes toward Trump and Mueller contrast sharply with views of President Clinton and Ken Starr before the independent counsel released his report 20 years ago,” Scott Clement and Matt Zapotosky note: “An August 1998 Post-ABC poll found 61 percent of Americans said Starr was mainly interested in hurting Clinton while 35 percent said he was mainly interested in finding the truth. The new poll finds views of Mueller are flipped in the positive direction, with 57 percent saying he is mainly interested in finding the truth compared with 36 percent who say he’s mainly interested in hurting Trump. Both polls today and in 1998 show people who affiliate with the president’s party overwhelmingly see investigations as politically motivated, but independents lean differently this year. A 57 percent majority of independents think Mueller is mainly interested in finding the truth, compared with 1998, when 59 percent of independents thought Starr was mainly interested in causing political damage to Clinton.”
— The public’s desire for transparency and Barr’s unwillingness to promise he’ll provide it sets the stage for a potentially titanic clash between Congress and the executive branch in the months to come.
Lowell Weicker, who as a Republican representing Connecticut was a member of the Senate Watergate Committee, says Congress must be willing to go to the mat to force the release of the report if Barr stonewalls. “This decision should not be left to the attorney general alone, even if it means using congressional tools — from subpoena power to the appropriations process — to make the report public,” Weicker, now an independent, wrote in an op-ed last week. “I don’t know what Mueller has found or will find … But I know that if the president is as innocent as he has argued from day one, then he should want Mueller’s report to be public and transparent, rather than rebutted and censored as Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s lawyer, has suggested he will do.”
The Post’s Editorial Board has endorsed legislation introduced by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Dick Blumenthal (D-Conn.) that would require public reports from Mueller and every other subsequent special counsel. The Special Counsel Transparency Act would require that a report be sent to Congress “at the conclusion of an investigation or within two weeks of a removal, transfer, or resignation.” It would need to include “all factual findings and underlying evidence.”
“The Mueller probe is not just another criminal investigation,” an editorial noted over the weekend. “It is also an inquiry into a foreign attack on the nation’s democratic system, the details of which are the public’s to know, and an inquest into official malfeasance at some of the highest levels of government. If the air can be cleared, it must be. … To be clear, not every potentially unflattering detail Mr. Mueller dredges up needs to be on the record. But core conclusions and evidence must be. And because special counsel investigations are rare and involve serious questions of official wrongdoing, the public will have a similar interest in transparency in later special counsel probes, as well. The bill should pass — and quickly.”
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The Post-Schar School poll was conducted by cell and landline telephone Feb. 6-10 among a random national sample of 841 adults and has an overall margin of sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points.
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
— Former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly announced this morning that he will challenge Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) next year. Kelly is married to former congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who survived an assassination attempt in 2011. Watch the video he posted on Twitter:
A DEAL IS REACHED:
— Key lawmakers reached a tentative compromise last night to avoid another government shutdown at the end of the week. “Hurdles remained, and Trump’s ultimate backing was in doubt after quick opposition emerged from conservatives,” Erica Werner, Damian Paletta and Sean Sullivan report:
“The deal includes $1.375 billion for 55 miles of fences along the border, compared with $5.7 billion Trump had sought for more than 200 miles of walls. The deal omits a strict new cap Democrats had sought on immigrants detained within the United States — as opposed to at the border. At the same time, it limits overall levels of detention beds maintained by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, although GOP aides said ICE would have enough money and flexibility to maintain its current detention levels and add more when needed. …
“White House officials were reviewing the terms of the deal, and [Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.)] said he was hopeful Trump would be supportive. But … Fox News host Sean Hannity, a Trump confidant, immediately called the shutdown deal a ‘garbage compromise.’ Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), a leader of the conservative House Freedom Caucus who talks regularly with Trump, said that it fails to address serious threats. … At a rally in El Paso on Monday night, Trump told a crowd of supporters that he was briefed on the conference committee’s progress as he was walking onstage. ‘Just so you know — we’re building the wall anyway,’ Trump declared to the audience.”
— Nancy Pelosi signed off on the agreement, per House Appropriations Committee Chairman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.).
— This deal would fund all government operations through September.
— If a shutdown still occurs on Friday night, though, the administration reassured Americans yesterday that they will still get their tax refunds. CNN’s Donna Borak reports: “If funding lapses again on Friday, the IRS will follow [a] contingency plan put in place in January, including a revised protocol to accommodate the tax filing season.”
— Trump and potential 2020 candidate Beto O’Rourke staged dueling rallies in El Paso last night. “In a meandering, 75-minute speech, Trump tried to paint an image of crime and lawlessness on the border while claiming falsely that violent crime went down in El Paso after a wall was built,” Philip Rucker, Toluse Olorunnipa and Jenna Johnson report. “Pausing to listen to chants of ‘Build that wall!,’ Trump sought to correct his supporters: ‘Now, you really mean finish the wall,’ he said, claiming that his promised border wall was already under construction. … He referred to O’Rourke several times during the rally, calling the former congressman ‘a young man who’s got very little going for himself.’
“About a mile down the road, several thousand demonstrators gathered at a high school carrying American flags, rainbow banners, ‘Beto for President’ flags, and flags for Mexico and Texas. There were also signs decrying Trump and his border wall — such as ‘Trump made America hate again’ — and chants from the crowd that included ‘Make tacos, not walls!’”
— A Trump supporter attacked a cameraman during the president’s rally, per the BBC: “Sporting a Make America Great Again cap, the man shoved and swore at the BBC’s Ron Skeans and other news crews before being pulled away. Mr Skeans said the ‘very hard shove’ came from his blindside. … Mr Trump saw the attack and confirmed Mr Skeans was well with a thumbs up after it happened. … A campaign official for Mr Trump afterwards suggested the attacker was drunk.”
More than 50 polar bears have come ashore on an Arctic archipelago in northern Russia, causing chaos. (Video still/YouTube)
GET SMART FAST:
Polar bears feeling the sting of climate change have overrun a Russian island town. As the sea ice where the bears live thins because of climbing temperatures, the animals have moved ashore, causing what local officials call a “mass invasion of polar bears in residential areas.” (Isaac Stanley-Becker)
A winter storm in Hawaii has brought violent winds and rare snow in spots. A 191-mph wind gust was generated on the Big Island’s mountain summit of Mauna Kea, and snow fell at Maui’s Polipoli State Park. State officials said it might be the first time ever. (Matthew Cappucci and Jason Samenow)
The FDA promises to beef up oversight of the $50-billion-a-year dietary supplements industry, warning that more supplements coming onto the market are “spiked” with unlisted drug ingredients. The agency also sent 12 warnings and five advisory letters to companies it says are selling products that contain unapproved drugs or making illegal claims about treating things like Alzheimer’s disease. (Laurie McGinley)
The Republican legislature in Utah voted to enact a Medicaid expansion plan that will cover tens of thousands fewer people than what voters called for in a ballot referendum that passed last November. (Amy Goldstein)
A new study found that a drug aimed at unleashing the immune system helped some patients suffering from the brain cancer glioblastoma live longer. That’s the form of cancer that killed Ted Kennedy and Beau Biden. (Laurie McGinley)
A Florida school hired two former combat veterans to protect students from active shooters. Responding to a new state law, the Manatee School for the Arts in Palmetto hired the vets to roam the halls carrying Glock handguns and semiautomatic riffles. (New York Times)
A Northern California school district is debating whether to change its name from Dixie. Opponents say the name is a reminder of the Confederacy and slavery, while supporters claim it is an homage to students who have been attending the district’s schools since 1864. (Joe Heim)
William Webster, 90, helped the feds nab a Jamaican phone scammer who unwittingly called the former FBI and CIA director asking for $50,000 in exchange for $72 million as part of a reverse sting operation. Keniel A. Thomas was arrested when he landed in the U.S. and has been sentenced to several years in prison. (Tom Jackman)
A Florida woman intends to sue Lime after a scooter accident left her daughter in a persistent vegetative state. Ashanti Jordan was struck by a car in December while riding a scooter home from work. Now her mother is suing for negligence on her daughter’s behalf. (Peter Holley)
McDonald’s lost its Big Mac trademark in Europe, and Burger King has jumped on the opportunity. Burger Kings in Sweden revamped its menu to poke fun at one of its main rival’s most popular items. (Taylor Telford)
The National Enquirer is seen at a convenience store last week. (Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
THERE’S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:
— The National Enquirer’s parent company, American Media, sought advice last year from the Justice Department over whether it should register as a foreign agent after publishing a magazine celebrating the Saudi crown prince. The Wall Street Journal’s Julie Bykowicz and Lukas Alpert scoop: “The company told Justice Department officials in the letter that although it followed the editorial and photography suggestions of [an adviser to the Saudis], it wasn’t under any contractual obligation to do so. The publisher also told the Justice Department that it didn’t receive any foreign money to produce the magazine. Based on those assertions, the Justice Department said the media company didn’t need to register as a foreign agent, noting that conclusion could change if the facts in the matter ‘are different in any way from those depicted in your submission.’”
— Former White House aide Cliff Sims is suing Trump after the president’s attorneys claimed Sims’s new book violated a nondisclosure agreement. Josh Dawsey and Felicia Sonmez: “Mark Zaid, a lawyer representing Sims, said [Trump] is trying to use a nondisclosure agreement from the campaign to punish Sims for discussing his time in the White House. … The lawsuit accuses Trump of having his campaign serve as ‘an illegitimate cutout and step into the shoes’ of the government in an attempt to silence Sims, in violation of his First Amendment rights. … It claims that the U.S. government, ‘for the first time ever through the use of private surrogates, is seeking to unconstitutionally censor and punish a former federal employee for disclosing unclassified information outlining what he saw and observed during his time in the White House.’ … Sims signed an NDA during his time working for the Trump campaign but does not know whether he signed an additional White House agreement regarding ‘confidential’ information, according to the lawsuit, which states that Sims is operating under the assumption that he did sign such a document.”
THE NEW CONGRESS:
— Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) apologized after a number of her Democratic colleagues, including Pelosi, rebuked her over a tweet widely criticized as anti-Semitic. Mike DeBonis and Rachael Bade report: “The Minnesota congresswoman’s Sunday evening tweet — ‘It’s all about the Benjamins baby,’ a reference to $100 bills — drew immediate denunciations from Republicans and fellow Democrats, especially Jewish members of Congress. Within hours, [the speaker] and the leadership issued a joint statement calling Omar’s ‘use of anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel’s supporters’ deeply offensive and insisted on an apology. In response, Omar said her intention was never to offend ‘my constituents or Jewish Americans as a whole. … This is why I unequivocally apologize.’ The firestorm exposed deep divisions within the Democratic Party over the unquestioned U.S. support of Israel, pitting long-standing Democratic backers of the Jewish state against the party’s newest lawmakers and several 2020 presidential candidates who have spoken out in favor of Palestinian rights.”
— Rookie mistake: The publication and subsequent retraction of a fact sheet from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s office about the Green New Deal has given ample fodder for the president and conservatives to mock her resolution — and the 2020 Democrats who have endorsed it. Jeff Stein and David Weigel report: “Ocasio-Cortez’s staff posted online and sent to reporters a list of ‘frequently asked questions’ about the Green New Deal. Those pages included language and policies not included in the resolution itself such as providing economic security to those ‘unwilling to work’ and ruling out nuclear power as part of the solution to the climate crisis. … None of the lawmakers or candidates signed off on the FAQ, which was prepared by Ocasio-Cortez’s staff to explain the separate Green New Deal resolution but was accidentally released prematurely with unfinished language. … The confusion over the document complicated the rollout of the Green New Deal plan, as more than a dozen media outlets, particularly in the conservative media, reported on policies in the FAQ page that the co-signers of the resolution have not agreed to support.”
— Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) said he would no longer put his assets in a blind trust despite doing so for eight years as governor. The Tampa Bay Times’s Steve Contorno reports: “Scott said Monday that instead he will report his assets to the public in annual financial disclosure forms required of all members of Congress. … Scott, the former head of a health care company before a scandalous exit, was the wealthiest governor in state history. His state financial disclosure report — filed late on a Friday evening last June — showed Scott had a net worth of more than $232 million at the end of 2017.”
RICHMOND IS REELING:
— Four members of his staff resigned after Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D) refused to do so himself following two sexual assault allegations against him, leaving him with a skeleton crew as he fights for his survival. Laura Vozzella, Gregory S. Schneider and Fenit Nirappil have the latest: “An attempt by Del. Patrick A. Hope (D-Arlington) to introduce articles of impeachment against Fairfax was shut down by House Democrats after an emotional conference call Sunday night, in which they debated the proper procedure and viability of such a plan, given that the alleged offenses — which Fairfax describes as consensual — did not take place during his tenure as lieutenant governor … The law firm where Fairfax has been a partner since September, Morrison Foerster, has hired an outside firm to conduct its own investigation into the allegations, and Fairfax has taken a paid leave of absence while it is pending. …
“Members of the Black Caucus, who have called on [Ralph] Northam to step down, said the first test of the governor’s rhetoric [that he is now committed to racial justice] is the spending plan — the biggest legislation they face this year. And, they said, it doesn’t measure up. Where Northam had initially proposed increasing the amount of Earned Income Tax Credit returned to low-income working families, the compromise deal eliminates that idea. The budget proposals tied to the package are stingier in many categories that affect low-income and minority communities … With that, all 16 members of the Black Caucus voted against the tax bill, joined by a handful of other Democrats to deprive it of the 80 votes needed to go into immediate effect …
“Members of the Black Caucus met with Republican leadership — including Speaker Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) — and eventually swung around and supported the House version of the bill. But they said they did so only after securing verbal commitments to pursue funding in the state budget for areas that affect low-income and minority populations. That could happen either through amendments to the budget bill, the tax bill or in budget negotiations between the two chambers.”
Neomi Rao testifies during her confirmation hearing last week. (Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
THE #METOO MOVEMENT:
— Neomi Rao, Trump’s nominee to replace Brett Kavanaugh on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, apologized for her controversial writings about date rape in college that gave some Republican pause. Seung Min Kim reports: “In a letter Monday to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Rao condemned ‘sexual assault in all forms’ as ‘abhorrent’ and stressed that she ‘particularly regret[s] the insensitivity demonstrated in my remarks on rape and sexual assault.’ She said that in college, she was ‘sheltered’ and that her perspective on the issue evolved as she grew more mature and became a mother to two children.” Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), who recently disclosed her own experience with sexual assault and expressed hesitation about Rao, said she felt “a lot better” after sitting down with her. “I haven’t made that firm commitment yet [on her nomination], but I’m just glad to know where she stands, and it allayed a lot of fears,” Ernst said.
— The family of Barry Myers, Trump’s nominee to lead the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, paid a $290,000 fine after a federal agency found that their company, AccuWeather, subjected female employees to sexual harassment and a hostile work environment. Myers is the former chief executive of AccuWeather. Michael Brice-Saddler reports: “The agreement alleges that AccuWeather did ‘not exercise reasonable care to prevent and correct’ the improper treatment and harassment against women there. … AccuWeather denies the allegations of harassment in the letter. However, as part of the agreement, the company promised to institute a number of changes — including mandatory in-person training for managers in how to identify and prevent unlawful harassment.”
— The Cleveland Browns have signed Kareem Hunt, the running back who was cut by the Kansas City Chiefs last year because he shoved and kicked a woman. Mark Maske reports: “It’s not clear when Hunt, 23, will play for the Browns. He faces a potential suspension without pay by the NFL next season under its personal conduct policy. … ‘We fully understand and respect the complexity of questions and issues in signing a player with Kareem’s history and do not condone his actions,’ Browns General Manager John Dorsey said … ‘We believe he deserves a second chance but certainly with the understanding that he has to go through critical and essential steps to become a performing member of this organization.’”
— The sexual abuse scandal within the Southern Baptist church has prompted calls for criminal investigations and drawn comparisons to the Catholic Church. Julie Zauzmer and Marisa Iati report: “‘The truth is that this is a cultural problem,’ said Marci Hamilton, the chief executive of anti-abuse nonprofit organization CHILD USA. ‘It goes across every single organization where any adult has had access to children alone. No prosecutor at this point could possibly believe there are parts of society where this didn’t happen. It did.’ … Alabama and Mississippi, two states with the largest concentration of churches in the Southern Baptist Convention, have some of the shortest limitations on prosecuting child-sex crimes, Hamilton said. Neither state has a large Catholic population, so the Southern Baptist investigation may bring more pressure to change those laws.”
Joe Biden speaks at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. (Rick Bowmer/AP)
— Iowa Democrats inched closer to adopting a new, optional “tele-caucus” that would vastly grow the number of people who vote in the state’s caucuses. Matt Viser reports: “The state party plan, which still must pass muster with the Democratic National Committee, marks the most significant change to the caucus process since its inception in 1972 and seems likely to complicate the campaigns’ strategies. … Although party officials don’t have estimates, the move could significantly increase the number of voters involved. … Not all of the details have been sorted out, but party officials say the voting will take place over a phone or smart device. … Party leaders have been conscious of any change that would make the caucus seem like a primary, which would provoke officials in New Hampshire, where state law requires them to hold the nation’s first primary.” Iowa Democrats checked their proposal by New Hampshire before announcing it.
— Recalling Bernie Sanders’s boasts of his average 2016 contribution being $27, Democratic candidates are fighting to build the strongest small-dollar donor bases. Michelle Ye Hee Lee reports: “Historically, these early low-dollar contributions were viewed largely as a sign of grass-roots support and an indication of potential voter enthusiasm. But that has changed in recent elections as small contributions have increasingly filled the coffers of many candidates — providing the fuel that allows them to be viable contenders. … Being able to raise a lot of money from a lot of small donors is now a test — not only of a candidate’s ability to tap this source of funds, but to go head-to-head against [Trump] and his army of grass-roots donors.”
— Many Democratic strategists are expressing skepticism about Joe Biden’s possible presidential bid. McClatchy’s Alex Roarty reports: “McClatchy interviewed 31 Democratic strategists — pollsters, opposition research experts, media consultants, ex-party officials, and communications specialists — from across the country about a potential Biden campaign. … Strikingly, these conversations yielded a similar view: The Democratic political community is more broadly and deeply pessimistic about Biden’s potential candidacy than is commonly known. While these strategists said they respect Biden, they cited significant disadvantages for his campaign — from the increasingly liberal and non-white Democratic electorate to policy baggage from his years in the Senate and a field of rivals that includes new, fresh-faced candidates. … ‘We heard it with Hillary, and we saw it happened,’ [one Pennsylvania-based Democratic strategist said]. ‘And there’s a lot of reason to think he would wind up a significantly weaker candidate than Hillary.’”
— If Biden decides to run, his wife, Jill, could become his most important surrogate. From Roxanne Roberts: “After Trump was elected, it looked like the Bidens might finally retire from public life. They bought a $2 million house in Rehoboth. They established foundations on global diplomacy and cancer research. … But the siren song of the White House, that ultimate and elusive prize, still calls to Joe. According to those closest to the Bidens, he really wants to run. Jill never aspired to be first lady … Ron Klain, former chief of staff to Joe when he was vice president, says Jill would be ‘a critical asset in the campaign.’ … Klain says she connects with people ‘in an authentic way’ as an advocate for education and especially military families.”
— New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is heading to New Hampshire as he considers a 2020 run. Politico’s Sally Goldenberg reports: “De Blasio is … soliciting City Hall staffers with national political experience and preparing to travel to the early primary state of New Hampshire this week. … There he will meet with Mayor Jim Donchess and may chat with locals at a diner… De Blasio has repeatedly said he is not ruling out a run and has long sought a national platform. But City Hall officials have privately lamented a de Blasio push for a higher national profile, worried it would generate negative headlines and distract de Blasio from his day job.”
— Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s Republican colleagues have praised her dealmaking abilities but have also expressed concern that such praise might hurt her chances. Politico’s Burgess Everett and Marianne Levine report: “In a Democratic caucus filled with presidential hopefuls taking a hard line against [Trump’s] presidency, the Minnesota senator’s brand of pragmatic politics stands out. And numerous Republicans are raving about Klobuchar — her personality, her respect for the other party, even her competitiveness in a general election. In fact, a dozen GOP senators were so effusive in interviews this month that some worried they might damage her candidacy in a Democratic nomination fight that has many candidates embracing the party’s left flank.” CNN will host a town hall with Klobuchar in New Hampshire next Monday.
— Klobuchar also became the latest Democratic candidate to say she would reject corporate PAC money. From CNBC’s Brian Schwartz: “Klobuchar has been no stranger to contributions from corporate PACs during her runs for Minnesota’s Senate seat. In her 2018 re-election campaign, she raked in just under a quarter of her total haul from PACs, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.”
— A split has emerged among Democratic 2020 candidates over whether to pursue Obama-esque hope and optimism or prepare for an all-out fight against Trump. The New York Times’s Alexander Burns reports: “Down one path, [Cory] Booker’s, lies a mission of healing and hope, with a campaign to bind up social wounds that have deepened in the Trump era. The other path, [Elizabeth] Warren’s, promises combat and more combat — a crusade not just to defeat Mr. Trump but to demolish the architecture of his government. … It is perhaps not an accident that the most confident Democratic tribunes of good feeling are all men, while the party’s sternest warriors are mainly women. In a contest for the presidency, a position traditionally viewed in martial terms, it may be easier for a man of Mr. Biden’s backslapping swagger or Mr. Booker’s athletic stature to show tenderness or vulnerability without fear of appearing weak.”
— Kirsten Gillibrand said the first Women’s March pulled her out of a deep depression after Trump’s election. Now, “as a woman, for women” is the main theme of her 2020 campaign. From the Times’s Lisa Lerer and Shane Goldmacher: “By using her gender to find a toehold in the Democratic electorate, Ms. Gillibrand risks pigeonholing herself in a race where voters may be seeking a broader populist message. ‘There may well be a risk,’ Ms. Gillibrand said, in what she calls her ‘women plus’ campaign platform. ‘But it is who I am. I think the country would be so much stronger if women had greater voices.’ … There is no real precedent for Ms. Gillibrand’s strategy: As a candidate, Hillary Clinton struggled to talk about her gender, and essentially tried to copy the approach of the male presidential candidates who had preceded her.”
— Tommy Hicks Jr., a longtime friend of the president’s family who became chair of the pro-Trump groups America First Policies and America First Action, has been named co-chair of the RNC. BuzzFeed News’s Tarini Parti reports: “Coordination rules governing how much outside groups can communicate with the campaign and elected officials had been limiting Hicks’ relationship with the president. In his new role, Hicks can now be more directly involved and play a larger role, especially with the president’s 2020 campaign creating a structure in which the RNC’s operations are intertwined with its own. The setup is shaping up to be dramatically different from the 2016 election when the campaign’s relationship with the RNC was more of a ‘forced merger,’ Hicks said.”
Sen. Kamala Harris before the State of the Union address. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)
— Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) defended the “the legitimacy of [her] blackness” in an interview. CNN’s Maeve Reston reports: “In an interview with The Breakfast Club hosts DJ Envy and Charlamagne Tha God that aired Monday, the show’s hosts asked the California Democrat to address a series of derogatory memes that have circulated on social media. One of the hosts cited a meme that said Harris is ‘not African-American’ because her parents were immigrants born in India and Jamaica and she spent her high school years in Canada. ‘So I was born in Oakland, and raised in the United States except for the years that I was in high school in Montreal, Canada,’ Harris responded with a laugh. … ‘I’m black, and I’m proud of being black,’ she said at a later point in the interview. ‘I was born black. I will die black, and I’m not going to make excuses for anybody because they don’t understand.’ … The junior senator from California was also asked about criticism she has faced on social media for marrying a white man. ‘Look, I love my husband, and he happened to be the one that I chose to marry, because I love him—and that was that moment in time, and that’s it,’ Harris said. ‘And he loves me,’ she added laughing.”
— Scrutiny of Harris’s record as a prosecutor is increasing. The Daily Beast’s Jackie Kucinich reports that lawyers in Harris’s AG office tried to make the argument that some nonviolent offenders had to remain in prison to provide cheap labor: “According to court filings, lawyers for the state said California met benchmarks, and argued that if certain potential parolees were given a faster track out of prison, it would negatively impact the prison’s labor program including one that allowed certain inmates to work fighting California’s wildfires for about $2 a day.”
— Harris backed a policy as San Francisco’s district attorney to turn over to ICE undocumented minors suspected of committing a felony. CNN’s Nathan McDermott and Andrew Kaczynski report: “Harris, who was San Francisco’s district attorney from 2004 to 2011, sided with then-Mayor Gavin Newsom in a political fight over San Francisco’s status as a sanctuary city that split the city’s municipal government … Multiple juveniles faced deportation over relatively minor crimes: in one instance reported by the [New York] Times, a 14-year-old who had been in the United States since he was 2 was handed over to ICE after he took a BB gun to school to show off to friends.”
— Harris developed a reputation as a prosecutor for trying to please all constituencies on criminal justice, per the New York Times’s Kate Zernike: “Years before ending mass incarceration became a bipartisan cause, she started programs to steer low-level drug offenders away from prison and into school and jobs. At the same time, she touted her success in increasing conviction rates, and as attorney general remained largely on the sidelines as California scrambled to meet a federal court order to reduce its swollen prison populations. She also repeatedly sided with prosecutors accused of misconduct, challenging judges who ruled against them.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stands yesterday next to a sculpture of Ronald Reagan in Budapest’s Liberty Square. (Attila Kisbendek/Pool/AP)
THE NEW WORLD ORDER:
— Trump’s refusal to comply with a law requiring a report to Congress on Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi’s death might push some Senate Republicans to vote for a Democratic-sponsored resolution cutting off U.S. support for the Saudis in Yemen, another example of the GOP’s discontent with the president’s foreign policy. “It’s not a good way to start the new Congress in its relationship with the Foreign Relations Committee,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). “It violates the law. And the law is clear about those timelines. I’m urging them and I expect them to comply with the law.” (Politico)
— On foreign soil, in Budapest, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo once again took a swing at the Obama administration while meeting with activists targeted by the Hungarian government. Carol Morello reports: “Pompeo is the first U.S. secretary of state to visit Hungary in more than seven years … The Obama administration shunned Hungary in a reproach of the authoritarian leanings of populist right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban. … In an impromptu news conference with reporters at the embassy, Pompeo said he would express U.S. concerns over human rights and democratic ideals when he talked privately with Hungarians.”
— Orban announced a new set of incentives to encourage citizens to have more children in the hope of countering the country’s population decline. Despite Hungary’s low birthrates and an exodus of its younger workers, Orban has refused to back away from his staunchly anti-immigration policies. Now he is offering women who have four or more children a guarantee that they will never again have to pay income tax. (Griff Witte)
— Venezuelans are once again protesting Nicolas Maduro’s control of their government as faith in the country’s leaders and economy plummets. Anthony Faiola reports: “Socialism’s role in Venezuela’s collapse, observers say, is not as clear as either side likes to think. At least fleetingly, socialist policies propped up by state petrodollars helped bolster the country’s status as one of the Western Hemisphere’s most equitable societies. But state-heavy policies that distorted prices and exchange rates, coupled with corruption, mismanagement and official repression, turned Venezuela’s economic landscape into scorched earth. Though perhaps worsened by Maduro’s stewardship, experts say an economic comeuppance was inevitable.”
— The Defense Department plans to ask Congress for an increase to its controversial war “slush fund.” Foreign Policy Magazine reports: “The fund, which Mick Mulvaney once vowed to eliminate, might double in size during fiscal year 2020 to a level not seen since the Iraq war years. Known as the Overseas Contingency Operations account, the fund is used to circumvent spending camps imposed by the federal budget in case the U.S. suddenly goes to war. The increase comes at a time when the Trump administration seeks to reduce the U.S.’s ‘footprint’ in military conflicts around the world.”
— Russia is considering briefly disconnecting the whole country from the Internet, ostensibly to test its cyberdefenses in the event of a foreign attack. NPR’s Sasha Ingber reports: “The experiment comes as lawmakers there assess the Digital Economy National Program, draft legislation which was submitted to Russia’s parliament last year, according to the RBK news agency. The bill would require Internet providers to make sure they can operate if foreign countries attempt to isolate the Runet, or Russian Internet. … The exercise follows aspirations of building an autonomous Internet infrastructure with the support of Russian President Vladimir Putin.”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Is the RNC trolling Hillary Clinton? The official GOP account highlighted Trump’s declaration last night that the country is “stronger together.” That was Clinton’s 2016 slogan:
A former U.N. ambassador criticized the suggestion by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) that lawmakers are paid to support Israel:
Former KKK grand wizard David Duke appeared to agree with Omar, one of the first Muslim congresswomen:
From a foreign policy adviser to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.):
A Post reporter noted the uncanny timing of Trump’s morning tweet about his work schedule:
An AP reporter added this:
Beto O’Rourke addressed the March for Truth in El Paso, meant to counter Trump’s campaign rally:
The House majority leader slammed Trump for holding a rally as Congress worked to avert another shutdown:
A presidential historian remembered another commander in chief’s visit to El Paso:
One Democratic presidential candidate attracted a large turnout in Iowa, per a Post reporter:
Kamala Harris’s husband celebrated their marriage:
The communications director of C-SPAN compared two presidential campaign launches:
The Democratic governor of Minnesota congratulated some of his constituents on gaining citizenship:
A future Supreme Court justice appeared in a photo of former Washington Nationals manager Frank Robinson, who died last week:
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
— New Yorker, “Private Mossad for Hire,” by Adam Entous and Ronan Farrow: Alex Gutiérrez “had recently joined a Tulare organization called Citizens for Hospital Accountability. The group had accused [Yorai Benzeevi, a doctor who ran the local hospital,] of enriching himself at the expense of the cash-strapped hospital, which subsequently declared bankruptcy. … The citizens’ group had drawn up an ambitious plan to get rid of Benzeevi by rooting out his allies on the hospital board. As 2016 came to a close, the group was pushing for a special election to unseat [Parnod] Kumar; if he were voted out, a majority of the board could rescind Benzeevi’s contract. … The recall was a clear threat to Benzeevi’s hospital-management business, and he consulted a law firm in Washington, D.C., about mounting a campaign to save Kumar’s seat. An adviser there referred him to Psy-Group, an Israeli private intelligence company. Psy-Group’s slogan was ‘Shape Reality,’ and its techniques included the use of elaborate false identities to manipulate its targets.”
— San Francisco Chronicle, “Two transgender women joined the migrant caravan. Only one survived journey to San Francisco,” by Tatiana Sanchez: “Moments before paramedics rushed Roxsana Hernandez out of an ICE jail in New Mexico, Charlotte consoled her dying friend. ‘I wasn’t sure if I was going to see her again,’ she said. ‘So I hugged her and told her, ‘God bless you. Take care. We’ll be here when you get back.’’ They’d known each other only a few months, but the Honduran women had formed a tight bond, traveling to the U.S.-Mexico border together last spring in a highly publicized migrant caravan and petitioning for asylum in San Ysidro (San Diego County). As openly transgender women, the pair were running from the grip of death in one of the most violent countries in the world.”
HOT ON THE LEFT:
“Fox host says he ‘hasn’t washed hands in 10 years,’” from BBC: “Fox News host Pete Hegseth has confessed on air that he has not washed his hands for 10 years because ‘germs are not a real thing’. Speaking on Fox and Friends, Hegseth said the infectious micro-organisms did not exist because they could not be seen with the naked eye. ‘I inoculate myself,’ added the Harvard and Princeton graduate. … Mr Hegseth later told USA Today that his remarks were intended to be a joke. ‘We live in a society where people walk around with bottles of Purell (a hand sanitiser) in their pockets, and they sanitise 19,000 times a day as if that’s going to save their life,’ he said. … Of the public reaction, he said it was ridiculous how people took things so ‘literally and seriously’ so that their ‘heads explode’.”
HOT ON THE RIGHT:
“A cartoonist inserted a vulgar anti-Trump message in his comic strip. This paper isn’t laughing,” from Kayla Epstein and Michael Cavna: “At first glance, Sunday’s Non Sequitur comic strip just showed bears dressed up like Leonardo da Vinci. … But much like da Vinci himself, Wiley Miller, whose work often tackles politics and has occasionally drawn controversy, inserted a secret message into his latest work. Hidden at the bottom right corner of the second panel, beneath a drawing of the Italian inventor’s flying machine, a semi-legible scribble appeared to read, ‘Go f— yourself Trump.’ The Butler Eagle, a family-owned newspaper north of Pittsburgh that syndicated Non Sequitur, decided to pull the strip on Monday after an irate reader alerted the newspaper.”
Trump will hold a Cabinet meeting and meet with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D).
Vice President Pence will visit Auschwitz on Friday during his visit to Poland for a conference on Middle East peace. (Anne Gearan)
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“Listen, I think it gives a lot of people joy. And we need more joy.” — Kamala Harris, on why she supports federal legalization of marijuana. (Politico)
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
— Prepare for more cold rain today with some slick spots in the morning. It’s about to get nicer, though. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Part two of our messy, mucky weather system rolls through today with more cold rain, clouds and some potentially slippery stuff this morning, mainly in our colder northern and western areas. Cold rain continues tonight before some sunshine sneaks back into the picture Wednesday. Thursday is a much nicer day, with temperatures rebounding into the 50s. Precipitation returns Friday and into the weekend as this active pattern continues.”
— Public schools in some counties will begin classes two hours late. Find the list here.
— The Wizards lost to the Pistons 121-112. (Candace Buckner)
— The Capitals beat the Kings 6-4. (Isabelle Khurshudyan)
— Oluremi Adeleye was convicted for the murder of Enita Salubi, an 8-month-old infant who prosecutors say died after she was force-fed by her nanny. (Lynh Bui)
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
This video of Trump testifying at a 1993 congressional hearing recirculated:
Stephen Colbert discussed the many things Trump does during his “executive time”:
Seth Meyers broke down the ways Trump has attacked the Democrats who may run for the White House against him:
The founder of HuffPost celebrated an important anniversary for the company:
Trump falsely claimed that a border wall lowered crime in El Paso:
And The Post’s Amy B Wang took us behind the scenes at the Westminster Dog Show:
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