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Melania stands back from her man, keeps distance from impeachment drama

First lady Melania Trump gives out toys on

First lady Melania Trump gives out toys on Dec. 9 at the annual Marine Toys for Tots event at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington. Credit: AFP via Getty Images / Andrew Caballero-Reynolds

His battle, not hers

When Donald Trump sent his rage-infused letter to Nancy Pelosi, the president assailed the House speaker for the “great damage and hurt” the impeachment process has “inflicted upon wonderful and loving members of my family.”

But there is no sign Melania Trump is bleeding from anywhere. Stephanie Grisham, who serves as spokeswoman for both Trumps, rejected the idea that the first lady has been somehow wounded, The Associated Press reports.

“As always, Mrs. Trump is focused on being a mother and wife, and is busy serving our great nation," said Grisham. “She is very strong, and after many years now, has become used to political harassment.”

The first lady also is keeping her distance, unlike wives of past impeachment targets. Hillary Clinton spent the morning of impeachment on Capitol Hill rallying Democrats to Bill Clinton's side, despite his unfaithfulness. Pat Nixon kept assuring reporters her husband wouldn’t quit — right up until he did.

Melania Trump has said that the president is the one the public needs to hear from since he was the one elected. Her silence has been consistent whatever the scandal, from the Russia investigation to Trump's porn star payoffs. 

But she's not hiding either. On the same day that a group of House Republicans stormed a secure briefing room during the early phase of the impeachment inquiry, she was elsewhere on Capitol Hill, marking the anniversary of legislation her husband signed to tackle opioid abuse.

The president, however, seems preoccupied. On Christmas Eve morning, asked by reporters what he's getting his wife for the holiday, Trump said he had only "a beautiful card" and is "still working on a Christmas present." He added, "We love our family and we love each other."

No New Year's resolution?

The partisan impasse over rules for a Senate impeachment trial looks increasingly likely to last into the new year and until the holiday recess ends in two weeks.

“We’ll find out when we come back in session where we are,” Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky told reporters in Louisville.

Trump lashed out Tuesday, blaming Pelosi.

“She hates the Republican Party. She hates all of the people that voted for me and the Republican Party,” Trump said in Mar-a-Lago after a Christmas Eve teleconference call with troops stationed across the globe. “She’s doing a tremendous disservice to the country.”

Bloomberg's jailhouse rock the vote

Michael Bloomberg's presidential campaign used prison labor to make phone calls to voters, a story in The Intercept reveals.

It happened because the campaign hired a third-party vendor, the New Jersey call center company ProCom. Two of its call centers in Oklahoma operate from state prisons, and in least one of them, inmates were put to work to make Bloomberg calls.

The Bloomberg campaign said it didn't know about the arrangement until The Intercept inquired “and we never would have allowed it if we had.” Spokeswoman Julie Wood said, “We don’t believe in this practice, and we’ve now ended our relationship with the subcontractor in question.”

Their money's no good?

Big donors to Elizabeth Warren's past Senate campaigns remain miffed at her attacks on big donors in the presidential campaign, like those at Pete Buttigieg's California "wine cave" fundraiser, The Washington Post reports.

“I am frustrated because she said, ‘I don’t do this. This isn’t something I do.’ And two years ago she very much did do that, and I was in the room,” said Chase Williams, who had a photo taken after writing a $500 check at a 2017 reception in the vault of a former Cleveland bank. He now backs Buttigieg.

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell co-hosted a Warren fundraising event in 2018 for maximum-amount donors. Rendell added that Warren sent him a “wonderful” thank you note. “And less than 12 months later, I’m an influence peddler and a fat cat.” He supports Joe Biden.

A schism on Trump

Strife in the Christian publishing world since the magazine Christianity Today released an anti-Trump editorial has led another top editor to quit his job.

Napp Nazworth said he quit as politics editor on the editorial board of The Christian Post because its website was planning to publish a pro-Trump editorial that would slam Christianity Today.

Nazworth said The Christian Post website has sought to represent both sides of the argument. "I never got the gist they were gung-ho Trumpian types,” he told The Washington Post. He has written that leaders who supported Trump have “traded their moral authority."

Mark Galli, who wrote the Christianity Today editorial, is retiring. Other conservative Christian leaders and writers who criticized Trump have described losing book sales, conference attendees, donors, church members and relationships.

Rudy's always been a self-promoter

Rudy Giuliani started a Facebook page with an "about" section describing himself as "Former Attorney General of the United States."

If deliberate, that would be resume embellishment and a new variation on "truth isn't truth" by Trump's personal lawyer.

Or it could just be that Giuliani just forgot that he ran the Manhattan U.S. Attorney's Office, not the entire U.S. Justice Department. He did serve in several subordinate Justice posts, but not the top job.

What else is happening:

  • Biden made the best impression with voters among the seven candidates in last week's Democratic debate, though it was no runaway, according to a Morning Consult/Politico poll. The ranking was Biden, 23%; Bernie Sanders, 16%; Andrew Yang, 12%; Amy Klobuchar, 11%; Buttigieg, 10%; Warren, 9%; and Tom Steyer, 4%.
  • Klobuchar is the one candidate outside the top tier still viewed as having a shot at pulling a surprise in the Feb. 3 Iowa caucus, Politico reports.
  • Trump promoted an official who defied a subpoena to testify in the House impeachment inquiry. Robert Blair, a top aide to acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, was named special representative for international telecommunications policy.
  • Prompted by a soldier's question during Tuesday's teleconference call, Trump reminisced about his cameo role in the 1992 movie "Home Alone 2: Lost in New York." "It’s a big Christmas hit — one of the biggest," noted Trump. A prankster edited the film's Wikipedia page the other day to say Trump was "the first cast member from Home Alone 2 … to be impeached."
  • Trump said Tuesday his administration will be prepared to handle North Korea’s ominous promise of a "Christmas gift." He joked to reporters: "Maybe it’s a present where he sends me a beautiful vase as opposed to a missile test.”
  • The 1600 will be taking a one-day holiday hiatus. We'll be back on newsday.com on Thursday night and in subscribers' inboxes on Friday morning. Not signed up? It's easy — just go to newsday.com/the1600.

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