Whatever sticks to the wall
Donald Trump broadly favors strong borders, tougher immigration standards and protection for the undocumented young people known as dreamers. As for the details:
“I think my positions are going to be what the people in this room come up with,” Trump told a bipartisan group of nearly two dozen lawmakers at the White House. “I am very much reliant upon the people in this room.”
Not negotiable? Building a wall on the Mexican border.
Negotiable, maybe: Just how long the wall would be. Trump wants “a fairly good portion” built.
He also indicated he was willing to risk the wrath of some hard-line supporters with “a bill of love” to save DACA.
“I’ll take the heat, I don’t care. I don’t care. ... I’ll take the heat off both the Democrats and the Republicans. My whole life has been heat,” he said.
Trump allowed reporters to watch the meeting for almost an hour — possibly to rebut the recent flurry of questioning about his fitness.
Later Tuesday, U.S. District Judge William Alsup granted a request by California and other plaintiffs to prevent Trump from ending the DACA program while lawsuits play out in court. The White House predictably called the ruling "outrageous."
See Newsday’s story by Laura Figueroa Hernandez.
Oprah Winfrey’s longtime friend, “CBS This Morning” co-anchor Gayle King, told viewers that Winfrey is “intrigued" by the idea of running for president.
“I don’t think at this point she’s actually considering it, but listen, there are people who have said they want to be her campaign manager, who want to quit their jobs and campaign for her,” said King, recounting a Monday night conversation with the entertainment mogul.
Politico points out potential risk to the Oprah brand: “Winfrey has consistently placed herself just close enough to the political fray to exert her gravity on it, but not close enough to be burned by its heat.”
The Oprah 2020 boomlet took off after Winfrey’s rousing speech at the Golden Globe Awards. See Newsday’s story by Frank Lovece.
Trump: Bring her on
He still praises her, but Trump said he would electorally bury Winfrey, if it ever came to that.
Recalling his guest appearances on her show, Trump told reporters, “I like Oprah, but I don’t think she’s going to run. I don’t think she’s going to run. I knew her very well,” he added.
And if she did?
“Yeah, I would beat Oprah,” he said to reporters. “Oprah would be a lot of fun.”
Later, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, “I disagree very much on her policies.” It wasn’t clear what Sanders meant by that. Winfrey has supported Democrats in the past, but hasn’t been cranking out position papers.
Janison: Deep state delusions
Onetime Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski reflexively blamed “the deep state” — bureaucracy sabotaging the president’s agenda — after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission shot down an administration plan to subsidize coal and nuclear plants.
Newsday’s Dan Janison points out a flaw in that analysis: Four of the commissioners in the unanimous 5-0 ruling are Trump appointees. They couldn’t find a justification to prop up and protect coal- and nuclear-powered electricity plants in competition with other energy sources.
After Florida Gov. Rick Scott met with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke at Tallahassee's airport on Tuesday, it was suddenly announced that Florida is "unique" and would be "taken off the table" regarding Trump's new plan to allow new leases for off-shore oil drilling.
The policy change was seen as helping Scott, a Republican, run against the Sunshine State's Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson in the fall.
The announcement also prompted Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to rhetorically ask Zinke how New York can sign up for the same exemption.
Unfollow the bouncing Bannon
Breitbart News is saying adios to its chairman, Steve Bannon, whose derision of Trump and his family to “Fire and Fury ...” author Michael Wolff was the last straw for onetime financial patron Rebekah Mercer.
Breitbart has become more dependent on Mercer money and other conservative donors to stay afloat because of an advertiser boycott promoted by foes of the website’s hard-right nationalism, according to Bloomberg News. But the content wasn’t a problem for the backers. Angering Trump was.
The Trump White House has signaled there will be no reconciliation with its former chief strategist. He’s also losing his Breitbart-affiliated SiriusXM radio show.
The former British spy who compiled a dossier of allegations on Trump and Russia took the document to the FBI in July 2016 because he was worried about “whether a political candidate was being blackmailed,” according to a congressional interview transcript released Tuesday.
The account was in a closed-door interview with Glenn Simpson, a co-founder of the political opposition research firm Fusion GPS, which hired ex-intelligence agent Christopher Steele.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, made the transcript public over the objections of the chairman, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa.) The squabble reflects partisan battles in which Republicans have portrayed the dossier as a smear job.
Simpson attorney Josh Levy told the committee that his client “wants to be very careful to protect his sources” because “somebody’s already been killed as a result of the publication of this dossier.” There was no further explanation, but some reports have suggested a former Russia intelligence official who died under mysterious circumstances was a source.
What else is happening
- It won’t get out of the starting gate anytime soon, but legislation that Reps. Peter King (R-Seaford) and Nita Lowey (D-Rye) introduced would undo the GOP tax overhaul’s caps on state and local deductions, Newsday’s Tom Brune reports.
- Also going nowhere: Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.) introduced a bill to require a mental health exam for all presidential candidates. He calls it the “Stable Genius Act.”
- Critics of the tax bill say it could actually make it attractive for companies to put more assembly lines on foreign soil, The New York Times reports. One reason: Income made by U.S. companies’ overseas subsidiaries will face federal taxes of 10.5 percent — half the new 21 percent rate on their domestic income.
- The White House is looking for a job that doesn’t require Senate confirmation for Andy Puzder, the former burger chain CEO whose nomination as labor secretary imploded after old allegations of domestic abuse resurfaced.
- A newly noticed feature of Trump’s wardrobe: At the immigration meeting Tuesday, his shirt had “45” embroidered on the cuff.
- Trump plans to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, later this month, sharing a stage with many of the “globalist” elites of finance, politics and media whom he has attacked in the past.
- The White House is bracing for an exodus of top staffers and struggling to fill expected vacancies, CNN reports. Said one official about the burnout rate: “It’s been a year, but doesn’t it feel like a decade?”