Trump’s not the cave man
By Donald Trump’s standards, his celebration was low-key after Senate Democrats accepted a deal to end the government shutdown, while setting the stage for another cliffhanger in less than three weeks.
“I am pleased that Democrats in Congress have come to their senses,” the president said in a written statement after he and Republicans emerged from the standoff as apparent victors.
The Democrats, led by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, already had made concessions on Trump demands such as funding a Mexican border wall. To approve the spending bill, they wanted the DACA program that protects young immigrants from deportation written into law.
They settled for a statement from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that it was his “intention” to take up legislation addressing DACA, border security and other issues if Democrats agreed to fund the government until Feb. 8. That guarantees nothing, and Democrats face a tougher struggle on DACA in the House. Trump has made no specific promises either.
“My Administration will work toward solving the problem of very unfair illegal immigration,” Trump said. “We will make a long-term deal on immigration if, and only if, it is good for our country.” See Newsday’s story by Laura Figueroa Hernandez.
Janison: Art of deal-me-out
During the 2013 shutdown, Trump ripped then-President Barack Obama for not doing enough to end it. “The president’s the leader, and he’s got to get everybody in a room, and he’s got to lead,” Trump said then.
When his shutdown arrived, Trump stood off to the side, limiting his role to grandstanding and finger-pointing. That was just as well: In the heat of the showdown, both sides seemed to treat Trump as something of an irritant who couldn’t make clear the details of what he wanted in the bill. But watching the Democrats cave may be what he wanted most of all.
See Dan Janison’s column for Newsday.
No after-tweets for him
More than three hours after a big earthquake off Kodiak, Alaska, set off tsunami warnings along the U.S. West Coast, Trump's real-time perpetual tweet machine was silent on the matter -- much as it was the other weekend when a false air raid warning spread in Hawaii.
Instead, his first tweets after the event was reported consisted of political advertisements for himself. One was about tangential FBI texts, an issue pushed by Fox News to detract from the Russia-collusion investigation. The other was about CNN's "crazy" Jim Acosta attributing a big "win" to Trump and "loss" to Schumer on the shutdown.
Terms of engagement
Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump was engaged enough during efforts to end the shutdown, even as he stayed out of the public eye.
“The president was putting pressure and standing firm on exactly what he was willing to do and what he wasn’t,” Sanders said. “And it very clearly worked, because we’re back where we basically started on Friday.”
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), a frequent Trump critic, said that Trump’s leadership will be more necessary when it comes to getting legislation through the House.
“It’s going to be very difficult to pass anything through the House without the president’s support,” Flake told reporters.
See Emily Ngo’s story for Newsday.
The Democrat-on-Democrat anger over the shutdown deal spiked at levels not seen since Bernie Sanders was challenging Hillary Clinton.
Progressive activists and immigrant advocates ripped it as a sellout.
“It’s official: Chuck Schumer is the worst negotiator in Washington — even worse than Trump,” said Murshed Zaheed, political director of the liberal group CREDO.
Ben Wikler, Washington director of MoveOn.org, said, “The grass-roots movement demanding unity and courage has a lot of work to do to ensure that the whole Democratic caucus is ready to fight when the time comes.”
But a GOP talking point — that the Democrats had given priority to “illegal immigrants over American citizens” — took its toll.
Two-thirds of Senate Democrats and allied independents went with Schumer, while 16 voted no, including several talked about as possible 2020 candidates: Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Cory Booker (N.J.), Kamala Harris (Calif.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Sanders (Vt.)
Trump approved big tariffs on imported solar-energy components and large washing machines in a move advertised as helping U.S. manufacturers and American workers against competition from China.
Most of the U.S. solar industry opposed new trade barriers, concerned they will halt the trend toward lower costs that have helped sales. The administration is considering tariffs on imports of aluminum and steel.
Feeling his impulse
The latest inside-the-White House book — this one by Howard Kurtz of Fox News — echoes Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury” in key respects: It portrays a White House frequently in chaos, trying to catch up with a president driven by impulse.
Example: Then-chief-of-staff Reince Priebus was en route to the Oval Office to discuss the four options awaiting the president in a decision memo about transgender people serving in the military. Before he could get there, Trump tweeted a decision to ban them.
Aides privately described Trump’s behavior as a defiance disorder — a seeming compulsion to do whatever it is his advisers are most strongly urging against, leaving them to handle the fallout. The book, “Media Madness: Donald Trump, the Press, and the War Over the Truth,” goes on sale Jan. 29.
What else is happening
- Trump has grown irritated with hearing that chief of staff John Kelly is getting or taking credit for being “the adult in the room” and has started thinking about a replacement, according to Vanity Fair. Ivanka Trump is playing a central role in the search, but nothing is imminent, the report said.
- George Papadopoulos, the Trump campaign foreign policy aide who is now a cooperating witness for special counsel Robert Mueller, will prove to be a “John Dean” in the case, his fiancee told The Washington Post. Dean was the Richard Nixon aide who provided crucial Watergate testimony.
- A $130,000 payment to buy the silence of former porn star “Stormy Daniels,” who claimed to have had an affair with Trump, violated federal election law, according to complaints filed by the watchdog group Common Cause.
- An end to the shutdown likely means Trump will go ahead with a trip to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Cabinet members in the delegation were expected to go Tuesday, one day late.
- Vice President Mike Pence told Israel’s parliament on Monday that the U.S. embassy will move to Jerusalem by the end of 2019, a faster timetable than U.S. officials previously indicated.
- Pence defended Trump’s vulgar remarks about immigration from Haiti and African countries. He told The Associated Press in an interview, “I know the president’s heart,” and Trump wants immigrants considered on merit “regardless of what country they come from or what their race and creed is.”
- Trump’s now-dissolved voter fraud commission tried to obtain the files from Texas that identified voters with Hispanic last names, The Washington Post reports.