Day 355: Sunk.
1/ Trump’s secretaries of state and defense are trying to convince him not to conduct a “bloody nose” attack against North Korea. Mattis and Tillerson are warning Trump that “a sharp, violent response to some North Korean provocation” is risky and could result in a global – possibly nuclear – catastrophe. (Business Insider)
- The Trump administration plans to loosen constraints on the use of nuclear weapons and develop a new low-yield nuclear warhead for US Trident missiles. (The Guardian)
2/ Dianne Feinstein released the full transcript of Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson’s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The head of the research firm behind the dossier of allegations against then-candidate Trump told congressional investigators that someone from inside Trump’s network had also provided the FBI with corroborating information during the campaign. Simpson had asked the committee last week for the transcript to be made public, but Republican leaders declined prompting Feinstein to post the transcript today with “no agreement” from committee Republicans. (CNBC / Washington Post / Politico)
Read the full transcript of Glenn Simpson’s Senate testimony. (Senate.gov)
3/ Robert Mueller could interview Trump in the next few weeks on a limited set of questions. Mueller told Trump’s lawyers in late December that he’d likely request an interview with Trump. A person familiar with the discussions said Mueller is most interested in whether Trump tried to obstruct justice. (The Washington Post / New York Times)
- Trump’s Russia ambassador warned lawmakers that the U.S.-Russia relationship would be “done” if the Kremlin interferes in the 2018 midterm elections. Jon Huntsman warned the House Foreign Affairs Committee in a closed-door meeting that “I don’t think Russia is going to quit,” and that “Putin probably has never been stronger.” (The Daily Beast)
4/ White House officials believe that Trump will be “sunk” if Robert Mueller looks into Trump’s finances as part of the Russia probe. “People don’t think in the White House — don’t think that he colluded with Russia,” Michael Wolff said, author of Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House. “They do think that if the investigation goes near his finances, he’s sunk.” (The Hill / CNBC)
5/ The Russian lawyer met Ivanka Trump after the Trump Tower meeting with Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner in June 2016. Natalia Veselnitskaya said that as she was leaving the building and waiting for an elevator, she exchanged pleasantries with a blond-haired woman whom she believed was Trump. (NBC News)
6/ Steve Bannon stepped down as executive chairman of Breitbart News. The moves comes after Rebekah Mercer cut financial ties with Bannon over his unflattering comments about Trump and his family in the Michael Wolff book. (New York Times / Politico)
7/ Trump said he would support a two-phase, bipartisan immigration deal in order to avoid a government shutdown. A potential deal would first address DACA protections and border security with what he called a “bill of love,” followed by a comprehensive immigration bill. Trump said such a deal must include money for his border wall and strict immigration limits. (New York Times / Associated Press)
The Trump administration spending plan calls for cuts to proven security measures in order to pay for his wall along the Mexican border. (New York Times)
Trump renominated two judicial nominees that the American Bar Association rated as “not qualified” to serve. The ABA said one was unqualified for a lifetime seat on the bench due to his “work habits,” while the other wasn’t qualified due to her lack of trial court experience. In total, Trump resubmitted 21 judicial nominees to the Senate after their nominations expired in 2017. (HuffPost)
Joe Arpaio, the former Arizona sheriff known for his hard-line immigration tactics, says he’s running for Senate. Arpaio was convicted of criminal contempt for defying a court order to stop racially profiling Latinos. He was pardoned by Trump. (CNN)
The White House wants to find a new role for Andrew Puzder, the former head of Carl’s Jr. who declined the nomination to become labor secretary after old domestic abuse allegations resurfaced. The White House, however, is apparently considering finding another role for Puzder inside the Trump administration. (Politico)
Ahead of his first diplomatic trip to Israel, Jared Kushner’s family real estate company received roughly $30 million in investment from one of Israel’s largest financial institutions. (New York Times)
Trump was named the world’s most oppressive leader for “overall achievement in undermining global press freedom” by the Committee to Protect Journalists, beating out Erdoğan and Putin. Trump plans to announce his “MOST DISHONEST AND CORRUPT MEDIA AWARDS OF THE YEAR” on Wednesday. (HuffPost)
Trump will attend the World Economic Forum in Davos – an event synonymous with wealth and elite prestige. (New York Times)
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