What The Fuck Just Happened Today?

Today's essential guide to the daily shock and awe in national politics.
Curated by @matt_kiser

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Day 364: Irresponsible.

1/ Trump will back a short-term funding legislation after causing confusion on Twitter. Hours earlier Trump tweeted: "CHIP should be part of a long term solution, not a 30 Day, or short term, extension!" Trump contradicted the Republican legislative strategy by calling for a separate, long-term extension of the Children's Health Insurance Program with less than 48 hours before a shutdown. The Republican proposal included a six-year extension of CHIP as part of their short-term spending bill, which would fund the government through February 16. (Politico / Washington Post / New York Times)

2/ Senate Democrats have the votes needed to block the stop-gap spending bill that the House is taking up, raising the likelihood the government will close. At least nine members of the Senate Democratic Caucus said they will oppose the latest short-term spending bill, which would keep the government open through February 16th, extend the Children’s Health Insurance Program for six years, but also roll back several Affordable Care Act taxes. It doesn't, however, include a deal on DACA, which Democrats have demanded in exchange for their votes. Paul Ryan believes that he has the votes needed in the House to pass the short-term funding measure on Thursday night. (Politico / Washington Post)

3/ In the event of a shutdown, Mitch McConnell plans to keep the Senate in session and stage a series of votes. They're intended to place blame for the shutdown on 10 Democratic senators, who are up for reelection this fall in states won by Donald Trump in 2016. McConnell called the Senate Democrats' plan "irresponsible" for being "willing to shut down the government and the Children's Health Insurance Program because they have yet to conclude a deal on DACA." (Politico)

4/ Trump contradicted John Kelly's statements about the proposed border wall, saying "The Wall is the Wall" and his plan "has never changed or evolved from the first day I conceived of it." Yesterday, Kelly said that the U.S. would never actually build a physical wall along the entire U.S. border with Mexico. Trump recently said that the wall would be funded by Mexico "indirectly through NAFTA." (The Hill / New York Times / Washington Post)

5/ Ty Cobb said Trump is "very eager" to talk to Robert Mueller in the hope that this will help wrap up the Russia investigation as quickly as possible. Trump's personal lawyer expects the investigation to end in the next four to six weeks. (The Hill)

6/ The White House's top lawyer may have a conflict of interest. Don McGahn was personally involved in instructing Steve Bannon about what questions he shouldn't answer from the House Intelligence Committee's Russia investigation. He is also a witness to events under investigation by both Congress and Robert Mueller. (Bloomberg)

7/ The House Intelligence Committee released the interview transcript with Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson. In the interview, Simpson claimed the Kremlin used the publication of the Trump dossier as pretext to "purge" people, including those who may have been sources for the American intelligence community. Dianne Feinstein previously released a transcript of Simpson's interview with the Senate Judiciary Committee. (Politico / The Daily Beast / Reuters)

8/ The FBI is investigating whether a Russian banker illegally funneled money to the NRA in order to help Trump win the presidency. Alexander Torshin is the deputy governor of Russia's central bank and has a close relationship with Putin. Torshin spoke with Trump Jr. during an NRA gala in May 2016, when Trump won the NRA's presidential endorsement. The NRA spent $30 million to support Trump in the 2016 election – three times what they devoted to Mitt Romney in 2012. (McClatchy DC)

poll/ 53% of Americans see Trump's first year as a failure. 61% believe Trump has divided the country. (NPR)

poll/ 37% of Americans approve Trump's job performance after his first year in office. (CBS News)


Notables.

  1. Trump released his 2017 Fake News Awards. (GOP.com)

  2. Hundreds of Yelp reviewers have been giving the Trump International Hotel in Washington one-star reviews, describing the property as a "shithole." (Washington Post)

  3. The Trump administration is finalizing its infrastructure plan, which it hopes will encourage more than $1 trillion in state, local, and private financing to build and repair bridges, highways, and other infrastructure. Trump is expected to preview parts of the plan on January 30th during his State of the Union address. (Reuters)

  4. The past four years were the hottest recorded period in the planet's history, according to both NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (Washington Post)

  5. Haitians will no longer be eligible to receive temporary agricultural and seasonal work visas. The decision by the White House removes Haiti from the list of countries that are eligible for H-2A and H-2B visas. (CNN)

  6. House members introduced a bipartisan sexual harassment bill that would prohibit lawmakers from using taxpayer funds to settle claims. (NBC News)

  7. Mick Mulvaney requested no additional funding for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The bureau has $177 million in the bank. Last quarter the CFPB asked for $217.1 million and it required $86.6 million the quarter before that. (Politico)

  8. The Trump administration will protect health workers who oppose abortions or gender confirmation surgery based on religious or moral objections. Officials want people to report discrimination to the new conscience and religious freedom division of the office for civil rights at the Department of Health and Human Services. (New York Times) *[Editor's note: I originally used the term "sex-change operation" but changed it to "gender confirmation surgery," the correct term. More here.] *

Day 363: Gag order.

1/ Trump accused Russia of helping North Korea evade sanctions and claimed that Pyongyang is getting "closer every day" to being able to deliver a long-range missile to the United States. Russian tankers were caught supplying fuel to North Korea on at least three occasions in recent months. North Korea requires imported fuel to keep its intercontinental ballistic missile and nuclear program functioning. "Russia is not helping us at all with North Korea," Trump said. (Reuters)

2/ The Pentagon wants to allow nuclear retaliation in response to cyberattacks against the United States. The latest draft of the U.S. nuclear strategy, which was sent to Trump's desk for approval, is the first to expand the list of justifications for "first use" nuclear strikes. It includes attempts to destroy national infrastructure via cyberattack. (New York Times / HuffPost)

3/ Steve Bannon cited executive privilege and refused to answer questions from the House Intelligence Committee yesterday. House investigators in both parties were outraged by his refusal, leading the committee to subpoena Bannon on the spot, vowing to force him to answer their questions about Russian interference in the 2016 election. (Politico)

  • What Steve Bannon told Congress yesterday. Bannon admitted that he'd had conversations with Reince Priebus, Sean Spicer and legal spokesman Mark Corallo about Don Junior's infamous meeting with the Russians in Trump Tower in June 2016. (Axios)

4/ Bannon didn't respond to House Intelligence Committee questions because the White House directed him not to. During Bannon's testimony, his attorney relayed questions in real time to the White House asking if his client could answer the questions. Bannon was instructed not to discuss his work on the transition or in the White House. White House officials believed they had an agreement with the committee to limit questions to the presidential campaign. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the committee, called the "gag order" an "audacious" move by the White House. (Associated Press / CNN / CNBC)

5/ Bannon struck a deal with Robert Mueller to be interviewed by prosecutors instead of testifying before the grand jury. A source close to Bannon said he will cooperate with the special counsel and that "Mueller will hear everything Bannon has to say." (The Daily Beast / CNN)

6/ The chance of a government shutdown increased as Trump aligned himself with the conservative House Freedom Caucus on immigration, criticizing a proposed bipartisan deal as "horrible" on border security and "very, very weak" on legal immigration reform. Democrats are threatening to vote against any spending bill that doesn't include a DACA fix. Republicans, meanwhile, need 60 votes to pass a spending bill in order to keep the federal government funded past the Friday deadline. Trump is confident that Americans will blame Democrats for a shutdown, despite Republicans controlling the House, Senate, and the White House. (Reuters / NBC News)

7/ Robert Mueller's probe would continue in the event of a government shutdown. Employees in the special counsel's office are exempt from furlough and would continue their work, despite a potential lack of appropriations. The government is set to shut down Friday night if lawmakers are unable to agree on a spending bill. (CNN)

8/ The Justice Department asked the Supreme Court to review an order to restart DACA. A federal judge ordered that previous beneficiaries of DACA must be allowed to renew their status in the program, but the government is not required to accept new applications. The Justice Department also appealed a related decision, which imposed a nationwide stop on the Trump administration's decision to end the program until the case can be heard. (New York Times)


Notables.

  1. Robert Mueller's team is investigating newly uncovered financial transactions from Russian diplomatic accounts and people or businesses inside the United States. Among them are transactions by former ambassador Sergey Kislyak 10 days after the 2016 presidential election and a blocked $150,000 cash withdrawal five days after the inauguration. (BuzzFeed News)

  2. Trump's alleged affair with a porn star and the reported $130,000 in hush money scandal, explained. (Vox)

  3. Three-quarters of the National Parks Service advisory panel resigned in frustration. Nine out of 12 members abruptly quit, citing frustration that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke had refused to meet with them or hold a single meeting last year. All of the members who resigned had terms that were set to expire in May. (Washington Post)

  4. Wisconsin Democrats flipped a state senate seat in a special election. The district voted for Trump and Mitt Romney in the past two presidential elections. (The Hill)

  5. Jeff Flake delivered a speech from the Senate floor comparing Trump's anti-press rhetoric to former Soviet dictator Josef Stalin that Trump inspires modern-day authoritarians. Trump promised to announce his "Fake News Awards" today. (Los Angeles Times / Reuters)

  6. John Kelly told Democratic lawmakers that the U.S. will never construct a physical wall along the entire stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border and that some of Trump's campaign promises on immigration were "uninformed." (Washington Post)

  7. Border patrol agents routinely vandalize containers of water and supplies left in the Arizona desert for migrants in an attempt to deter and punish people who illegally cross from Mexico. (The Guardian)

Day 362: Subpoenaed.

1/ Steve Bannon was subpoenaed to testify in front of a grand jury as part of special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe. It's the first time Mueller has used a grand jury subpoena to get information from someone in Trump's inner circle. Mueller, however, may end up letting Bannon forgo the grand jury appearance if he allows investigators to question him at the special counsel's offices in Washington. (New York Times)

2/ Bannon met with the House Intelligence Committee this morning behind closed doors. Lawmakers are sure to question Bannon on what he knew about the Trump Tower meeting, which he's previously called "treasonous." (The Hill)

  • Hope Hicks is expected to meet with the House Intelligence Committee as early as Friday. The White House Communications Director will be one of the closest Trump confidants to be privately interviewed as part of the Russia probe. The committee plans to ask her about any contacts that may have occurred between Trump associates and the Russians. (CNN / NBC News)

3/ The government could shut down if lawmakers can't agree on a spending bill by Friday. GOP leaders are looking to a short-term funding measure to keep certain government agencies open while talks continue, but Democrats are unlikely to support any deal that doesn't include protections for young undocumented immigrants who were brought to this country as children. (Washington Post)

4/ Trump preemptively blamed democrats for a shutdown, tweeting "The Democrats want to shut down the Government over Amnesty for all and Border Security. The biggest loser will be our rapidly rebuilding Military, at a time we need it more than ever." Democrats presented Trump with a bipartisan immigration bill last week, and said Trump and Republicans would be to blame for a government shutdown. Current federal funding expires on Saturday. (NBC News)

5/ Senate Democrats have 50 votes in favor of restoring net neutrality. Only one more Republican vote is needed in order to reverse the FCC's decision to deregulate the broadband industry. The attorneys general from 22 states have filed a lawsuit to block the net neutrality repeal. (Washington Post / New York Times)

6/ Sarah Huckabee Sanders claimed Trump can't be racist because he was on "The Apprentice." Sanders said claims that Trump is racist were "outrageous," adding, "Frankly, if the critics of the president were who he said he was, why did NBC give him a show for a decade on TV?" (Bloomberg)

7/ The White House doctor said Trump is in "excellent" overall health and that he performed "well" on a cognitive exam. At 6'3", 239 pounds, Trump is one pound away from being considered obese as defined by the Centers for Disease Control. (The Hill / Politico)

poll/ The number of uninsured Americans rose by 3.2 million in Trump's first year in office. The uninsured rate increased 1.3 percentage points since the last quarter of 2016, leaving 12.2% of Americans without health insurance. (Gallup)

poll/ 42% of Republicans consider negative news stories that are accurate to be "fake news." (Washington Post)


Notables.

  1. Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee want Devin Nunes to release the Fusion GPS transcript. Fusion also supports the release of the transcript. (Business Insider)

  2. U.S. counterintelligence officials warned Jared Kushner about Wendi Deng Murdoch, who could be using their friendship to further the interests of the Chinese government. (Wall Street Journal)

  3. Kim Jong-Un called Trump's nuclear button tweet the "spasm of a lunatic." (The Independent)

  4. Paul Manafort's trial will likely to start in September at the earliest after a federal judge rejected Robert Mueller's bid to kick off the trial in May. (Politico)

  5. Sixty-four trade groups, foreign governments, Republican candidates and more stayed at or held events at Trump properties during his first year in office. Before taking office, Trump said he would hand off control of his global business empire to his sons Donald Jr. and Eric. He didn't, however, divest himself of assets that could cause a conflict of interest. (Reuters)


Watch Orrin Hatch remove a pair of glasses he's not wearing: