President Donald Trump notes that he footed the fast-food bill...

President Donald Trump notes that he footed the fast-food bill for a White House ceremony Monday honoring Clemson University, the 2018 College Football Playoff national champions. Credit: AFP/Getty Images/Saul Loeb

The 'least racist' is at it again

Donald Trump's "Pocahontas" jokes about Sen. Elizabeth Warren never get old to Donald Trump. They first appeared on his Twitter account in 2014. In 2017, he made a Pocahontas crack at a White House event honoring three elderly Navajo Code Talkers who were heroes in World War II.

Native American leaders call that a slur. But with Warren now a declared candidate for the 2020 Democratic nomination, the president is not going to stop mocking the Oklahoma-born Massachusetts senator for tracing part of her ancestry to the nation's original inhabitants, no matter who finds it hurtful.

On Sunday night, the president retweeted the recent campaign video Warren made from her home. "If Elizabeth Warren, often referred to by me as Pocahontas, did this commercial from Bighorn or Wounded Knee instead of her kitchen, with her husband dressed in full Indian garb, it would have been a smash!" he commented.

Hilarious. Bighorn was an apparent reference to the 1876 battle in Montana known as Custer's Last Stand in which hundreds of Cavalry soldiers died at Little Bighorn. Hilarious. Wounded Knee in South Dakota was the site of a U.S. Cavalry massacre in 1890 of hundreds of Sioux men, women and children — an atrocity so repugnant that Congress formally apologized for it a century later.

“This isn’t funny, it’s cold, callous, and just plain racist,” tweeted Ruth H. Hopkins, a Dakota/Lakota Sioux writer, reports The Washington Post. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) told the newspaper: "I do not think he gains any points by using the site of that atrocity in a political speech or a tweet."

Meanwhile, Trump — who repeatedly calls himself the "least racist" person there is — stayed away from the fray as Republican leaders in Congress, fed up with the latest in a long series of inflammatory remarks, stripped Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) of his committee assignments. The breaking point came from a New York Times interview in which King said: "White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?”

Asked Monday about King's comments, Trump said, "I don't — I haven't been following it. I really haven't been following it." The night before, Trump approvingly quoted from an overtly white nationalist column by Patrick Buchanan in support of a border wall. In a section Trump did not quote, Buchanan warned against a "more multiracial, multiethnic, multicultural, multilingual America" that looks less "like Ronald Reagan's America."

What's the emergency?

Last week's "probably" and "I would almost say definitely" are this week's fat chance.

Trump said Monday he is “not looking” to declare a national emergency to get $5.7 billion for his border wall, backing away from one of the few options his administration had been weighing to break the stalemate and end the partial government shutdown.

“I'm not looking to do that because this is too simple. The Democrats should say, 'We want border security.’ ”

The Democrats show no sign of yielding. The longest shutdown on record will be 25 days old Tuesday. For more, see Newsday's story by Laura Figueroa Hernandez.

Janison: Trump's worst enemy revealed

Spoiler alert: It's him. That's because simple and/or honest answers that might bring skeptics around seem to be absent from his toolkit, writes Newsday's Dan Janison.

Given a chance Saturday to deny he was ever a Russian agent, he could have "No" or "No, of course not" or "No, even the notion is preposterous." Instead, he called it "the most insulting thing I’ve ever been asked" and went on a long diatribe that, as was noted in the news stories that followed, failed to include a denial. (He has caught up since.)

In trying to sell his border wall, he churns up so intense a dust storm of false and misleading claims that if there are grains of truth behind the case for better barriers, who can see them anymore?

It's Barr exam time

William Barr, Trump's nominee for attorney general, said in testimony prepared for his confirmation hearing Tuesday that it's "vitally important" that Mueller be allowed to complete his Russia investigation.

He also said Congress and the public should be given the results. "My goal will be to provide as much transparency as I can consistent with the law," he said.

Barr also will tell the Senate Judiciary Committee that Trump never sought any promises, assurances or commitments before selecting him to succeed Jeff Sessions, who drew the president's everlasting enmity for recusing himself from Russia investigation matters.

Democratic senators have been troubled by Barr's past comments calling the firing of FBI Director James Comey appropriate and not grounds for an obstruction-of-justice inquiry. Click here for Barr's full statement.

Rules are for suckers?

Speaking to a farm group Monday, Trump mocked immigrants who show up for their court hearings.

"Those people you almost don’t want because they cannot be very smart. Those two percent are not going to make America great again, I tell ya." Trump said. Though the president said only 2% appear, Justice Department data indicates the real figure is between 60% and 75%.

At least the immigrants knew where they were going. Trump tweeted Monday morning that he was excited to be headed to Nashville, Tennessee, for the American Farm Bureau Federation's annual convention. He deleted it minutes later, because the convention was in New Orleans.

What else is happening:

  • House Democrats may seek testimony from a U.S. translator who was the only American present at a private Trump meeting in Helsinki with Vladimir Putin last summer.
  • Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is expected to announce she’s formed an exploratory presidential campaign committee as early as Tuesday, when she is appearing on CBS’ “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” Newsday's Yancey Roy reports.
  • Reps. Thomas Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) and Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) said the shutdown has created a dangerous and unnecessary distraction for air traffic controllers working without at a Westbury facility, reports Newsday's Robert Brodsky.
  • Transportation Security Administration officials are closing more security lanes amid increased absences — more than double the typical rate — from officers not being paid during the shutdown, ABC News reported.
  • A federal judge blocked Trump administration rules from taking effect in New York and California that would allow more employers to opt out of providing women with no-cost birth control.
  • Amid the new questions about Trump and Russia, Hillary Clinton tweeted a video clip of their October 2016 debate confrontation when she suggested he would be a "puppet" of Putin. At the time, Trump responded, "No puppet. You're the puppet." Said Clinton Monday: "Like I said: A puppet."
  • With the White House short on catering staff because of the shutdown and a snowstorm, Trump said he reached into his pocket for "McDonald's, Wendy's and Burger King's with some pizza" to serve at an event honoring Clemson University's champion football team. "We have some very large people that like eating," said Trump.