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Talks to avoid shutdown teeter on words from the tweeter

President Donald Trump makes a statement on the

President Donald Trump makes a statement on the military before heading to the Pentagon for a meeting on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018. Credit: EPA / REX / Ron Sachs

Trump stays in (280) characters

Republican leaders in Congress trying to put together enough votes to avert a government shutdown included a sweetener to attract Democrats — an extension of the Child Health Insurance Program.

They didn’t expect Trump to undermine them with a Thursday morning tweet: “CHIP should be part of a long term solution, not a 30 Day, or short term, extension!”

Some speculated that the president was not aware that the CHIP funding would be extended for six years, rather than the four weeks of the spending bill. By lunchtime, the White House said Trump was fine with it.

That didn’t end the crisis. Divisions persisted between Republicans and Democrats and within the GOP on the ingredients of a bill. Democrats want DACA protections; Republicans accuse them of holding military funding hostage to press the issue. The bill can’t pass the Senate without some Democratic support.

The White House expressed frustration with Congress for “being unable to do its job.”

Gets yelly over Kelly

The ice beneath White House chief of staff John Kelly isn’t necessarily thin, but it can be slippery.

Such was the case after Kelly, negotiating with Democrats and talking to Fox News Wednesday, said Trump’s campaign promise to build a wall along the Mexican border was “not fully informed.” His views on it have evolved, Kelly said — there would not be “a 50-foot wall from sea to shining sea.”

Trump called Kelly Wednesday night to complain, according to The Wall Street Journal, and tweeted Thursday morning that “The Wall is the Wall, it has never changed or evolved from the first day I conceived of it.”

See Newsday’s story by Laura Figueroa Hernandez.

Janison: Theory of evolution

It’s not just that Trump has “evolved in the way he’s looked at things,” as Kelly put it.

What’s jarring is that the transformation can come at lightning speed, like a mutation in a sci-fi movie.

Such was the case when immigration discussions last week fell into — um — a rabbit hole, and when he did two full flip-flops within hours on a foreign intelligence surveillance bill. That makes Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wary as lawmakers seek to avert a shutdown.

“I’m looking for something that President Trump supports, and he has not yet indicated what measure he is willing to sign,” McConnell said Wednesday. “As soon as we figure out what he is for, then I would be convinced that we were not just spinning our wheels.”

See Dan Janison’s column for Newsday.

The last word wins

With Mideast peace efforts going nowhere, Trump wanted to cut off aid to the Palestinians. UN Ambassador Nikki Haley egged him on to end all of it. Her rival, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, argued a total cutoff would be damaging and urged Trump to hold back just half of it.

Tillerson won the argument by making sure he had the last word with the president, according to an Associated Press account. At first, Trump agreed with Tillerson. Then Haley reached out to Trump personally and got him to change his mind.

So Tillerson went back again, brought the president around to his way of thinking, and worked to keep the decision a secret so Haley didn’t know until four days later.

Compensing adult

Weeks before 2016 election, Trump’s lawyer used a private Delaware company to pay a former adult film star $130,000 in return for her agreeing to not publicly discuss an alleged sexual encounter with Trump, The Wall Street Journal (pay site) reports.

The story cited corporate records and people familiar with the matter.

Since the Journal first reported the payment last week, several media organizations said Stephanie Clifford, who performed in porn films under the name Stormy Daniels, described having sexual escapades with Trump in 2006.

Palm reading

Potential shutdown in Washington notwithstanding, Trump was still scheduled early Friday to fly to Palm Beach so he could celebrate his first year with friends and supporters.

The House has passed a short-term spending extension, but the Senate has not, and Democrats were doubling down to resist the proposal, increasing prospects of an interruption, the last of which occurred in 2013.

In one of his jeering morning tweets, the “non-politician” president publicly taunted Democrats on behalf of the GOP. “Shutdown coming? We need more Republican victories in 2018!”

What else is happening

  • The Trump administration worked on plans to keep hundreds of national parks and monuments open to blunt public anger if there is a government shutdown, The Washington Post reported.
  • Before, during and since his seven months as a White House staffer, Sebastian Gorka has had an active warrant out for his arrest in Hungary on a weapons-related charge, according to the Hungarian police’s website, BuzzFeed reports.
  • With almost a year gone by since he took office, Trump’s inauguration committee, which raised $106.7 million for the event, has not disclosed how much surplus money it still has or provided a final accounting of its finances, USA Today reports.
  • Trump touted the tax overhaul and signs of a strong economy in a western Pennsylvania appearance to boost a GOP candidate in a special House election.
  • The FBI is investigating whether a top Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to help Trump in 2016, according to a McClatchy news report.

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