President Trump mixed calls for unity with the tough talk he's known for during his first State of the Union address. The President talked up the booming economy, the soaring stock market and the big tax cuts he signed into law. He also offered up his hard-line views on immigration, touted his executive order keeping open the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, doubled down on the ISIS fight and called on Congress to pass an infrastructure package. Trump made no mention of the Russia investigation, didn't talk about recent school shootings, and only brought up the Las Vegas mass shooting once. A CNN Instant poll gave Trump the least positive reaction for a State of the Union speech in two decades. Republicans in Congress heaped on the praise, though Dems were not impressed.
President Donald Trump called for special counsel Robert Mueller's firing last June, according to one person familiar with the matter. White House counsel Don McGahn refused to order the Justice Department to fire Mueller because he disagreed with the President's reasoning, the source said. However, according to the source, McGahn did not threaten to resign directly to the President. The New York Times was first to report that Trump called for Mueller's departure in June 2017. Trump, as he entered the World Economic Forum in Switzerland this morning, called the report "fake news."
Oprah Winfrey confirmed to InStyle magazine that she won’t be running for president in 2020. In an interview with Editor in Chief Laura Brown, the talk-show mogul said that she “always felt very secure and confident with myself in knowing what [she] could do and what [she] could not.” Winfrey continued, “And so [a presidential campaign is] not something that interests me. I don’t have the DNA for it.” Winfrey even mentioned how she met with one individual “who said that they would help [her] with a campaign,” but she stated, “That’s not for me.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced early today on the Senate floor that his party will provide enough votes to pass a Republican plan to reopen the federal government until at least Feb. 8. The bipartisan deal was contingent upon a promise from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that he will open debate on an immigration bill protecting so-called DREAMers from deportation. In the end, 33 Democrats flipped to vote for the temporary spending bill, including Senators Schumer, Dick Durbin, Sherrod Brown, and Tammy Baldwin. Among the holdouts were senators who’ve been floated as potential 2020 Democratic candidates, including Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Kamala Harris.
Pennsylvania's Supreme Court threw out the state’s congressional map today, ruling that its districts had been unconstitutionally gerrymandered. Pennsylvania’s 18 congressional districts were specifically drawn to benefit Republicans, the court ruled. The Keystone State’s Republican-majority legislature will have until February 9 to agree on a new district map.
Former White House top strategist Steve Bannon allegedly relayed questions from an interview with the House Intelligence Committee to the West Wing in real time on Tuesday via his attorney Bill Burck. According to the Associated Press, the White House then instructed Bannon—over the course of the day-long interview—to remain silent about his work on President Trump’s transition and his work for the administration. The report, based on anonymous sources, does not say whether Burck was specifically in communication with White House lawyer Don McGahn or someone else in the administration.
The government's going to shut down Friday without a spending bill. But passage of that bill seems far less likely after last week's drama over immigration and DACA. Democrats say they straight-up won't vote on a spending plan without a deal on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that protects undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children. Congress could just pass another short-term spending bill, but the GOP's more conservative members may balk at that. And no one on Capitol Hill trusts anybody after President Trump's "s-hole" quip torpedoed a bipartisan compromise on immigration. It's about to be a crazy week in Washington!
Will President Trump agree to an interview with special counsel Robert Mueller? Trump didn't answer that question during a news conference, but he really, really, really wants us all to know that such an interview wouldn't be necessary anyway because he thinks the whole Russia investigation is a witch hunt and there was "no collusion," a phrase he used seven times in one answer. But the President's hedging on this flies in the face of what he said last year, that he'd be "100%" willing to testify under oath about former FBI Director James Comey.
North Korea's going to send athletes to the Winter Olympics. That's the first breakthrough to come out of the high-level talks (the first in two years) taking place between the North and the South. And the North is sending more than just athletes to next month's Games in Pyeongchang. The regime is also sending a cheering squad, an art troupe, a visitors' group, a Taekwondo demonstration team and a press corps. The two countries also discussed family reunifications and having military talks to prevent accidental conflicts.
The fire and fury over Fire and Fury, the book that allegedly contains bombshell information about Team Trump, is growing. After excerpts exposed some distressing claims from insiders, the President's lawyers fired off cease and desist letters to ex-aide Steve Bannon, who is widely quoted, and to author Michael Wolff's publisher. The publisher responded by moving up the book release date to today. In response, Trump tweeted his complaints, saying the author had no White House access, calling the book "full of lies" and coining a degrading nickname for Bannon: "Sloppy Steve."
Remember the commission Trump started in May to battle the nearly nonexistent problem of voter fraud that he said cost him the popular vote? Well, it's gone now. In a statement, the White House said the commission was disbanded because too many states declined to hand over voter information. The panel was widely panned, even by those supportive of the President, with critics saying it was unnecessary and self-serving. Nonetheless, the White House and officials close to the matter have suggested it's possible that Homeland Security may be encouraged to look at the issue in the future.
President Donald Trump rang in 2018 with shout-outs to his billionaire friends and a warning to his "enemies" during short remarks just before midnight at his posh South Florida club. It's a yearly tradition at Mar-a-Lago: As the ball gown- and tuxedo-clad crowd waits for the stroke of midnight, the estate's owner mounts the stage to commemorate the passing of the year. On his first New Year's Eve as President, Trump heralded the accomplishments of his first 12 months in office, but acknowledged it hadn't been easy. "We're going to have a great 2018. It's going to be something very, very special. It's all kicking in," he said, according to a recording of his remarks obtained by CNN. "We have some pretty good enemies out there, but step by step they're being defeated. They're some bad people. Bad people. But that's ok. Someday maybe they'll love us. I don't know."