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On the roster: Donald does Davos, what will Team MAGA do? - I’ll Tell You What: Tora, Tora, Tora! - Kelly tries to make a deal on immigration - Grassley readies mega document dump - But are the humps real?
DONALD DOES DAVOS, WHAT WILL TEAM MAGA DO?
Just because Steve Bannon did foolish things does not make him a fool. And it doesn’t mean he was wrong about President Trump, either.
The only subject on which we have found Bannon to be wholly unreliable is himself. But he certainly seems sincere in his views, even the ones broadly thought disreputable. And he most definitely understands the sensibilities of the roughly one-third of the country that was at least kind of digging the heavy-duty nationalism he was preaching.
If there’s one thing Bannon and his acolytes most sincerely believed it was that Trump was liable to sell them out to the broad establishment. If you read Bannon’s blatherskyte to gossipy author Michael Wolff, it’s clear his overwhelming concern was having been marginalized by his own incompetence and the plotting of his rivals that he could lay a trap for his foes even after he was gone.
In Bannon’s telling the New York faction and the administration was just waiting to turn Trump’s head like a top with promises of economic booms and the respect of the world.
And it doesn’t sound like a bad offer, after all.
But to achieve it, Trump would have to repudiate core principals and, more importantly, people and groups who had initially fueled his improbable rise.
Given the fact that Trump talks constantly of his flexibility and enthusiastic disregard for political conventions Bannon didn’t have to go far to make his case. Like all cast-aside courtiers, Bannon knew the truth: ideological flexibility is only welcome when it’s moving in your direction.
One wonders what Team Pepe was thinking when they watched Trump, nestled in the bosom of financiers, tech moguls and the, God help us, “influencers,” in Davos, Switzerland today.
“When I decided to come to Davos, I didn’t think in terms of elitist or globalist, I thought in terms of lots of people that want to invest lots of money,” Trump told CNBC. “And they’re all coming back to the United States, they’re coming back to America.”
Those are, in fact, the only terms in which Bannon and Trump’s initial followers think.
But there was the president they made using his first televised interview with a straight news reporter in months to talk about how much he loves all of Jeff Bezos’ buddies. Even Alexa must have blushed at the language.
If Trump was selling out, you could hardly blame him the deeper into the embrace of the establishment that Trump has retreated, the better things have gone. Trump the Twitter troll and dealer of dank memes clocked in with an approval rating in the low 30s and nothing but talk of scandal and legislative defeat. Trump, Davos edition, on the other hand, boasts a 45 percent approval rating and constant coverage of successive legislative victories and what appears to be sincere discussion of a comprehensive immigration package.
If Trump really is ready to deal on immigration, it is not the end of the movement that made him, but it would certainly be a crushing, lasting defeat.
The message we hear on immigration from many Trump supporters is similar to the warnings lately offered to Trump from his prominent Evangelical supporters, that no sea is too Stormy for them to sail with the commander-in-chief… as long as he delivers the policies they demand.
To prove their power, anti-immigration nationalists would have to be willing to ruin Trump’s presidency if he offers a broad amnesty to those in the country illegally.
How well the year goes for Trump, Congress and a great deal else may depend on those supporters’ willingness to look the other way, as well as Trump’s willingness to discipline his former disciples.
THE RULEBOOK: COPIOUSLY VENTED, INDEED
“[That government would have the power to set and collect taxes] is so clear a proposition, that moderation itself can scarcely listen to the railings which have been so copiously vented against this part of the plan, without emotions that disturb its equanimity.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 33
TIME OUT: DRY BONES
New Yorker: “A little more than a hundred years ago, German colonists stole these bones from what they called German Southwest Africa, following a Herero rebellion, in 1904. General Lothar von Trotha had moved quickly and brutally to put down the uprising. ‘Within the German boundaries, every Herero … will be shot,’ he wrote in his Vernichtungsbefehl, or extermination order. … In what has been called the first genocide of the twentieth century, colonists pushed Herero into the desert and forced others into concentration camps. Sixty-five thousand Herero died. … In 1906, Felix von Luschan … sent letters to colonial officers asking that they gather bones and ship them to him in Berlin, for research. … Luschan eventually sold his entire personal collection … to the American Museum of Natural History. … The museum does not deny that its Namibian remains, from eight individuals, may include the products of genocide; the bones of two people, collected at an unspecified date, were taken from locations where Germans killed Herero in concentration camps. At least one skull shows damage that may have resulted from violence.”
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Trump job performance
Average approval: 38.6 percent
Average disapproval: 57 percent
Net Score: -15.8 points
Change from one week ago: up 6.2 points
[Average includes: ABC News/WaPo: 38% approve - 58% disapprove; CNN: 43% approve - 53% disapprove; NBC News/WSJ: 39% approve - 57% disapprove; Fox News: 45% approve - 53% disapprove; Gallup: 36% approve - 59% disapprove.]
Control of House
Republican average: 40.4 percent
Democratic average: 48.8 percent
Advantage: Democrats plus 8.4 points
[Average includes: ABC News/WaPo: 51% Dems - 39% GOP; CNN: 49% Dems - 44% GOP; NBC News/WSJ: 49% Dems - 43% GOP; Quinnipiac University: 51% Dems - 38% GOP; Fox News: 44% Dems - 38% GOP.]
I’LL TELL YOU WHAT: TORA, TORA, TORA!
This week Dana Perino and Chris Stirewalt discuss the Niagara Falls of leaks from Congress, the chance of another government shutdown and an update on Tora the diabetic cat. Plus, Dana talks about her love for the Olympics and Chris attempts some FBI related trivia. LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE HERE
KELLY TRIES TO MAKE A DEAL ON IMMIGRATION
Roll Call: “White House Chief of Staff John Kelly remained in Washington after being scheduled to join President Donald Trump in Davos, to continue work on a possible bipartisan immigration breakthrough. Kelly is expected to head to Capitol Hill on Thursday to brief lawmakers on a White House overhaul framework due out on Monday, according to a senior administration official. A couple hours before Trump departed for the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, he interrupted a Wednesday evening session between Kelly and reporters and told his chief of staff he wants an immigration deal before he returns from a Switzerland. Trump also appeared to endorse a path to citizenship for so-called ‘Dreamers’ while saying he may extend his March 5 deadline for termination of the DACA program if lawmakers and his White House have yet to figure out how to legalize the program. The remarkable 14-minute back-and-forth with reporters showed — again — how the president himself often alters White House policy.”
Trump wants a pathway to citizenship for DREAMers - LAT: “President Trump said for the first time Wednesday that he will call for a path to citizenship for so-called Dreamers, immigrants brought to the country illegally as children, many of whom now face deportation as a consequence of his past action. Trump told reporters that he wanted a law that would give the mostly young immigrants legal status and ultimately a way to achieve full citizenship in 10 to 12 years. The change would be part of a package, however, including new limits on legal immigration and money for his proposed southern border wall. White House officials said they would send the proposal to Congress on Monday. ‘Tell them not to be concerned,’ Trump said of the Dreamers. ‘Tell them not to worry. We will solve the problem.’”
Trump matches all-time high approval rating in Fox News Poll - Fox News: “A Fox News Poll conducted at the end of President Trump’s first year in the White House finds more voters rate the economy positively today than have in nearly two decades. And they give the White House credit for that: nearly twice as many say the Trump administration has made the economy better than made it worse: 40 percent vs. 22 percent. One-third says the administration has not made a difference (34 percent).Approval of the job the president is doing on the economy is above 50 percent for the first time. Trump’s overall approval stands at 45 percent, while 53 percent disapprove. That comes close to matching his highest ratings, which he received soon after taking office: 48-47 percent (February 2017). His low point was in the previous Fox News Poll, when 38 percent approved and 57 percent disapproved (October 2017).”
Senate Dems split immigration from fiscal fight - Politico: “Senate Democrats are willing to drop their demand that relief for Dreamers be tied to any long-term budget agreement — a potential boost for spending talks, but one that could face opposition from their House counterparts. The shift comes in response to the deal struck between Senate leaders Monday to reopen the government and begin debate on an immigration bill next month. Meanwhile, budget negotiators are expressing optimism that a two-year agreement to lift stiff caps on defense and domestic spending is increasingly within reach. ‘We’re viewing [immigration and spending] on separate terms because they are on separate paths,’ Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Tuesday.”
Rubio shuns return to immigration negotiations - Politico: “Marco Rubio is done with gang life in the Senate. The Florida GOP senator, a key co-author of the 2013 Gang of Eight comprehensive immigration bill, has no plans to join a swelling bipartisan group of senators trying to strike a deal to protect Dreamers. In an interview, the Cuban-American senator said that with Republicans in full control of Washington, a gang of senators from each party will not dictate Congress’ solution to protecting hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from deportation. … ‘There won’t be a 12-person gang. What we do here cannot be a product of a group of people that come out of a room and say: ‘This is a direction we’re going.’’ … And his reluctance to join the new gang underscores the steep challenge — and sense of pessimism — for reaching an agreement on a tight schedule…”
Trump loves markets, but markets might not love his trade war - NYT: “No president has taken more delight, or claimed more credit, for the roaring stock market than Donald J. Trump. The Dow Jones industrial average has become for him what the Rasmussen Poll was during the 2016 presidential election: a daily source of validation. … Now, though, Mr. Trump’s fixation with Wall Street is colliding with one of his most cherished legislative projects — a more protectionist trade policy — and it is not clear which one will win. Mr. Trump, for example, has repeatedly threatened to pull the United States out of the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Korea Free Trade Agreement. But two top economic advisers, Gary D. Cohn and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, have warned him that withdrawing from those deals would hurt the stock market, several officials said.”
Meet Walter Russell Mead, MAGA nation’s favorite historian - Politico: “In the rumpled Mead and his writings about the ‘Jacksonian’ tradition in American foreign policy, Bannon saw a populist kindred spirit—and a suitably rabble-rousing model for the anti-establishment course he hoped Trump would follow. Trump agreed, which is why the Jackson portrait went up … never mind the instant outcry that greeted Trump’s embrace of a slave-holding, Native American-fighting early 19th century predecessor as his role model. … Even now, exactly a year after Trump’s inauguration, Mead says that while Bannon has been purged from the White House, Bannonism—and by extension the bowdlerized, 21st century version of Jacksonianism he was peddling—has not. If you want to understand Trump’s otherwise incomprehensible presidency, Mead argues, you need to understand America’s seventh president. … After all, Mead notes … ‘He still has a portrait of Andrew Jackson hanging in the Oval Office.’”
GRASSLEY READIES MEGA DOCUMENT DUMP
WaPo: “The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee plans to release transcripts of its interviews with President Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., and others who participated in a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer allegedly promising damaging information about Hillary Clinton. Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) said Thursday that the committee would start releasing ‘all witness interviews that we have done related to that meeting’ right away and ‘get them out to the public for everyone to see,’ as the panel’s interviews with ‘witnesses surrounding the Trump Tower meeting are complete.’ Ranking Democrat Dianne Feinstein (Calif.) said Thursday she was ‘delighted’ by Grassley’s intentions, and ‘very grateful for your decision to proceed.’ The committee spoke with Trump Jr. in September, and in the last several months has also interviewed other participants in the Trump Tower meeting…”
Trump would ‘love’ to testify with the special counsel - WaPo: “President Trump said Wednesday he is ‘looking forward’ to testifying under oath to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III as part of the probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election while also mounting a preemptive defense of potential obstruction accusations. ‘I would love to do it, and I would like to do it as soon as possible,’ Trump told reporters at the White House. ‘I would do it under oath, absolutely.’ The president suggested he could be investigated for obstruction of justice as part of the Russia investigation because he was ‘fighting back’ and reiterated there was ‘no collusion’ between his campaign and Moscow. … Trump has repeatedly railed against the investigation, calling it a "witch hunt" and vowing there was no collusion.”
Not so fast… Trump legal team tapes the breaks on testimony - The Hill: “White House lawyer Ty Cobb clarified Wednesday night that President Trump is ready to meet with special counsel Robert Mueller, but will be guided by his attorneys on such a meeting, The New York Times reported. Trump told reporters earlier Wednesday night that he would speak with Mueller under oath. He added that he expects an interview to occur in the next two to three weeks, but said his lawyers are still determining the specifics. Cobb told The New York Times that Trump was speaking hurriedly, and only meant that he is willing to meet with the special counsel, not that he will speak in front of a grand jury.”
Tit for tat from leaky House Intel panel - WaPo: “Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee have drafted a document they say will counter Republican efforts to discredit the FBI probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign. The panel’s top Democrat, Adam B. Schiff (Calif.), intends to ask the panel Monday to allow all House members to read the minority’s take on how the FBI and Justice Department handled sensitive information in the Russia investigation. Committee members voted last week to provide lawmakers with access to a GOP memo that suggests federal investigators conducted surveillance in 2016 on people close to President Trump based on bad information procured from a now-famous dossier containing allegations of financial and personal ties between Trump and the Kremlin.”
DOJ comes hard for Nunes - Fox News: “A top Justice Department official is urging House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes not to release a much-buzzed-about memo circulating in Congress that purportedly reveals government surveillance abuses. In the letter, which Fox News has obtained, Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd wrote, ‘We believe it would be extraordinarily reckless for the Committee to disclose such information publicly without giving the Department and the FBI the opportunity to review the memorandum and to advise the HPSCI of the risk of harm to national security and to ongoing investigations that could come from public release.’ Boyd continued, ‘Though we are currently unaware of any wrongdoing relating to the FISA process, we agree that any abuse of that system cannot be tolerated.’ Nunes is traveling this week in the Middle East. But the demand is not being well-received on Capitol Hill.”
The Judge’s Ruling: Read and reread - Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano talks about the specific language of the Fourth Amendment: “This enactment came about notwithstanding the guarantee of the right to privacy -- the right to be left alone -- articulated in the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution and elsewhere. Though the surveillance expansion passed the Senate by just one vote, it apparently marks a public policy determination that the Constitution can be ignored or evaded by majority consent whenever it poses an obstacle to the government’s purposes.” More here.
HUD official Lynne Patton apologizes to journalist April Ryan for ‘Miss Piggy’ tweet - WashEx
Price’s predecessor, Alex Azar, confirmed by Senate as new head of HHS - WaPo
Read this book review: ‘The Mind of a Founder’ - National Review
Sen. Kennedy making a splash in the Senate with his one-line zingers - Fox News
Pennsylvania special election will be the first test of 2018 - WashEx
John Kerry reportedly considering a second presidential run - The Hill
AUDIBLE: THE OBJECT OF THE PROPOSITION
“If the objective is politics, this is not ever going to be solved – we will be in the same spot from six months from now. If the objective is good policy, then we can get this done.” – Sen. Corey Gardner, R-Colo., discussing immigration policy on “Fox News @ Night with Shannon Bream.”
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Most pundits who are pro-Trump are advising him not to take the Mueller Interview verbally, written or under oath. They are promoting this because there is a higher risk of the President incriminating or embarrassing himself and they do not want that to happen. Most who are against President Trump are saying he needs to take the interview. They are promoting this for the exact same reason of possible incrimination and they do want that to happen. What no one is discussing is that as Mr. Trump, he was one of the most sued people in the United States. He is not an amateur at testimony like most of us. He is a professional. The protectors are not giving President Trump the credit for his experience and ability to handle the situation, and the aggressors are doing the same. I believe President Trump looks at this as a contest between Robert Mueller and himself that he wants to win. The Mueller Team is the best investigating team assembled in the world and President Trump is saying bring it on. That is why he is looking forward to taking the interview under oath against his legal council’s advice. This will be fascinating. Like two bulls fighting for the prize.” – Jim Hain, Omaha, Neb.
[Ed. note: If only we could get them to televise it!!!!]
“Perhaps it was an oversight on your part but it has become common when reporting on immigration issues to not separate the people who come here with our permission vs. those who just show up unannounced. That's grossly unfair to the many good people who followed the rules. I suspect the public will continue to rally to prevent ‘comprehensive’ reform because of similar promises in the past: amnesty now, the promise of better security and enforcement next time, (wink-wink). There's no reason to give eventual legal status to anyone beyond the most promising DACA folks and legal immigrants simply don't need it. Both major parties are benefiting handsomely from the current broken way our country handles the ‘illegal’ part of the immigration system, mostly because the wealthy and powerful aren't affected in the same way as the regular Joe living check to check. It's a considerable reason the folks between I-5 and I-95 voted for 'security before amnesty’ this time.” – Mark Hoffman, Des Moines, Iowa
[Ed. note: I wholly agree with your read on the political dynamics, Mr. Hoffman. I treat the issue of legal immigration and the disposition towards illegal immigrants as separate but related topics when it comes to popular opinion. And you are quite correct that the concern on the right about getting hornswoggled has been the driving force in blocking an immigration deal. But I would also say that Republicans have a once-in-a-generation moment right now to reshape the policy. If cynical, self-serving politicians use those concerns block a deal now with an immigration hardliner in the White House, I doubt the GOP will ever again get such a chance.]
“To me as a Republican in the Goldwater-Reagan-Milton Friedman tradition, the anti-immigration stance of Tom Cotton and a few others is simply very upsetting; add to that Trump’s anti-trade agenda, and I have nowhere to turn.” – John A. Johnson, Tucson, Ariz.
[Ed. note: Would it be churlish of me, Mr. Johnson, to suggest that you ignore them? Parties are and have always been poor vessels for ideologies, a trend that has intensified as the parties increasingly fall to pieces. I have written often about the dangers of ending the two-party system that has served us so well for so long, but I would respectfully submit that you embrace the upside of the chaos. You can pick and choose the recipients of you vote aware of partisan labels but without adhering to them as doctrine. It’s a weird, wild world out there. Make sure you’re taking advantage of the good stuff, too.]
“If it is ‘the belief among many Democrats that Hispanic voters are the key to the future’ and probably most of all a reaction to Trump’s rise; and it has increased the number of Democrats who are pro-immigration especially if they are from the ‘south of our border’, THAT is insane immigration policy. That confirms, at least to me, that many Democrats do not have the good of this country on their agenda. If they couldn't get enough voters on their side, especially because Trump was the Republican candidate, they are doing nothing more than ‘buying’ votes which last I heard is illegal, and definitely not in the best interests of American citizens.” – Eleanor Korf, Glendale, Ariz.
[Ed. note: What’s wrong with people from “south of our border,” Ms. Korf? It’s certainly reasonable to demand better enforcement of immigration laws. It’s also reasonable for a nation to set parameters for how many immigrants it will accept and even the attributes it seeks in those immigrants. But if we are going to accept immigrants, why not those from Latin America? It’s not like a million Europeans are beating a path to our door every year. As it has always been, the places that will produce the most immigrants for the U.S. are places that are poor, war-torn or oppressed. Like the wave of Eastern and Southern European immigrants to upended American politics, life and culture a century ago, or the Irish before them, or the Germans before them or the Scots-Irish before them, I assume the influx of Hispanic immigrants that came to America over the past 30 years will ultimately make us stronger and better. And I also assume that, like those other waves, the political outlook of Hispanic voters will continue to change over time and over successive generations. But that depends on how we address the matter, though. As a result of political shenanigans, we have neither adequate enforcement nor an encouraging, assimilative approach to those who are already here. But as the polls we shared show, hardliners on both sides are holding hostage reasonable solutions that would provide for not only improved security but also greater domestic tranquility.]
“Chris, so you equate the people that come here illegally, but have been here several years, and have contributed to whatever, to actual citizens that have obeyed the law all their lives and are not ongoing law breakers? What about, just for example, a Nazi guard in the Jewish camps that was forced to obey his superiors or he would be executed? Some fled to this country, got jobs, contributed, obeyed the law, actually had automobile driving skills, and otherwise lived exemplary lives, but like the Latinos, were here illegally. But every one that was caught and found to be in that category was tried, convicted, and expelled from this country, to where they faced prison at an advanced age. Now, tell me that is humane, where expelling the Latino illegals is not. The only way I would let the illegals stay is that, once they are identified, their voting rights, and possibly other rights, be suspended until they pass a citizenship qualification of some sort. Then and only then, should they have the right to participate in any local, state, or federal election of any definition. Any fool with one eye and half sense knows that the only reason the democrats are fighting so hard for them, is not that they give a rat’s ass about their personal welfare, but about their substantial help at the ballot box. Without the illegal vote, it would create a more difficult path to converting this country from capitalism to socialism, which is their ultimate goal. And that should be unacceptable to every patriotic citizen.” – Name and hometown redacted
[Ed. note: Do you know what else should be unacceptable to every patriotic citizen? Equating illegal immigrants with men who worked at Nazi death camps. Those men were tried overseas for their crimes against humanity in general and their specific victims. All American authorities did was to extradite them to face trial in the courts of our allies. You sympathize with these men, saying that they were forced to murder or to face death themselves. Rather, they were put to a terrible test and failed. We know of many men and women in that moment and other trials of the human spirit who declared that they would rather die than be instruments of murder. I pray to God Himself that I would have the strength to accept my own death before I would herd men, women and children into gas chambers. None of us can know how we would meet such a moment, but we should at least know right from wrong as it relates to the question. To equate men who failed that unambiguous moral test with people who came to the United States illegally over a 30-year span when immigration laws were often lightly enforced, if at all, is, frankly, abhorrent. People coming to America in search of economic opportunity and safety are not the same as international fugitives, especially those who participated in the slaughter of millions of innocents. What I find nearly as remarkable is that the offer you propose for allowing illegal immigrants to remain in the country and seek citizenship is exactly what the law is today. I am afraid that you have been badly misinformed about not only our immigration and naturalization laws but, more sadly, the complicity of the functionaries of the Holocaust. I have chosen to withhold your name and hometown for fear that your casual expression of such a slur could result in some form of vigilantism against you or your family. I hope that by sharing your letter, I will give you and perhaps some others an opportunity to think through your disposition towards God’s other children.]
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BUT ARE THE HUMPS REAL?
The National: “In pursuit of the perfect pout, a dozen camels have been disqualified from a camel beauty pageant in Saudi Arabia for receiving Botox injections. What distinguishes a beautiful camel is not just its height, shape and the placement of its hump. A full, droopy lip and large features are essential to achieving camel celebrity-status in the multi-million dollar industry of camel pageantry. ‘They use Botox for the lips, the nose, the upper lips, the lower lips and even the jaw,’ said Ali Al Mazrouei, 31, a regular attendee at Gulf festivals and son of a top Emirati breeder. ‘It makes the head more inflated so when the camel comes it’s like, ‘Oh look at how big is that head is. It has big lips, a big nose’.’ Beauty season is in full swing and 30,000 camels have gathered for the second annual King Abdulaziz Camel Festival, the largest pageant in the Gulf.”
Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.