At Least We Think That’s What Trump Thinks
As one of the few Cabinet Secretaries in the room during Trump’s “shithole” rant, she’s become the face of the Administration’s efforts to explain it away through a series of half-truths, semi-denials, and general obfuscation. Nielsen does admit there was a lot of “rough talk” during the meeting, but says it came from “a lot of people in the room”.
Her exchange at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing with Democratic Senator Dick Durbin, who was also in the room (and who vigorously defends his Republican colleague, Lindsey Graham), is textbook. Infuriating to the rest of us, maybe. But completely demonstrative of exactly what’s required to work for Trump, and keep him happy.
While Nielsen is no stranger to the White House, or the President, having served as Deputy Chief of Staff under former Homeland Security Chief John Kelly, Trump seems to like a show of loyalty from new appointees, frequently involving some level of humiliation. (The most famous examples thus far: a tie between former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer insisting Trump’s inauguration drew the biggest crowd in history, and fired FBI Director James Comey’s refusal of a loyalty pledge to Trump, which seems to have cost him his job.)
Also of note in the clip we just provided for you, Durbin revealing, and Nielsen confirming that in that same meeting, Trump demanded “the wall” be paid for in its entirety, up front. Trump apparently realizing, all of a sudden, that if he only gets a down-payment in this budget, and funds are allocated year-by-year on an as-needed basis, future Congresses (which might end up being controlled by Democrats) could simply stop agreeing to fund it.
Do Democrats Have The Guts To Shut Down The Government Over DACA?
We’ve tried to break down, as best we can, who’s talking to whom, and what the most likely scenarios are right now:
• Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland and Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin, are likely to meet today for the first time since Trump scuppered a bipartisan agreement that would’ve allowed undocumented immigrants who have been here since they were children stay in this country.
• Republicans seem to be adopting the attitude that since DACA doesn’t expire until March 5th, there’s no real urgency to fix it this week; better to do another extension until both sides can sort things out (and perhaps the President settles down). Democrats are less inclined to do nothing on DACA: especially since they swore they wouldn’t leave at the end of last year until they got something passed. And then didn’t. Citing momentum at the time in negotiations with Republicans that have now completely stalled out.
• This underscores a weakness in the Schumer/Pelosi strategy of largely backing off and letting Republicans light themselves on fire: sometimes Republicans just don’t really care. As we’ve said before: Trump wants DACA, many Republicans want DACA, but they all can plausibly pretend they’re willing to let it go if they don’t get their deal. Democrats can’t negotiate from that position without alienating a good portion of their base. Likewise, if Democrats bend over backwards just to get something Republicans also actually want, they end up looking foolish.
• House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, who seems to have emerged as the Democratic point person on this, told Roll Call he expects Democrats to oppose a continuing budget resolution without DACA. Meaning a shutdown, right? “While there are many reasons why we would be opposed to kicking the can down the road, we haven’t made that decision yet”. Hardly fighting words. Which leads us to think Democrats will probably back off again. Although Hoyer’s a reasonably tough guy, so maybe…
• Republicans have one gambit that could be effective: coupling yet another budget extension with funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, which predated Obamacare and is imperiled after it ran out of funding last year. The idea being Democrats won’t dare stand in the way of crucially needed funds to help out sick kids.
• At the same time, Ultra Right-wing Republicans are deriding the plan as a “gimmick”, so House Speaker Paul Ryan will really need to thread the needle: attracting enough Democratic votes, without losing too many Republicans.
• Fivethirtyeight reminds us while Republicans were reviled for shutting down the government in 2013 over Obamacare, in 2014 they weren’t punished at all by voters, and in fact retook control of the House and Senate.
• Finally, it’s worth keeping an eye on the stock market. While Wall Street is not a good predictor of events, it is a good predictor of risk. After completely ignoring the possibility of a shutdown last week, and continuing to soar in the morning, a complete reversal by the close of the first trading session this week. In the end, stocks were down, not much. The more real the prospect of a shutdown becomes, the more likely we’ll see a more significant downturn in the market, at least temporarily. So keep an eye out for that as an indicator of how real the threat is becoming.
Trump Administration Asks Supreme Court To Let It Continue Dismantling DACA
The Justice Department arguing a single federal court judge should not have the power to countermand an order by the President. And that kind of makes sense. Except that the tactic was first employed on a large scale by Republican State Attorneys General to attack President Obama’s agenda, so now it’s only fair Democrats get their turn, right?
The Court helped out in a similar request by the Administration after Trump’s “travel ban” was blocked by several federal judges. Generally, if the Justices believe one side is likely to prevail, they will favor that side in cases that have yet to be decided.
Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security reopened DACA extentions, following the federal judge’s orders, and people covered by the program rushed in to renew, since they foresee the window closing again very quickly. It’s not clear however, if DHS will continue to process the applications should the ruling be overturned.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the Court is not likely to take action before March 5th, which is when DACA protections are due to start expiring.
We also wanted to point you to this heartbreaking story we missed yesterday, chronicling the human toll of Trump’s immigration policy, and how it’s tearing apart families. Even those that are law-abiding and have made the U.S. their home for decades.
Bannon Is Far From Finished
Steve Bannon turned up at a Capitol Hill hearing, and over a course of 10 hours, refused to say much of anything, because, he says, the White House told him not to.
Bannon at first appeared before the House Intelligence Committee voluntarily. Then, when he was continually uncooperative was slapped with a subpoena by the Committee, after which he consulted with the White House, and continued to be uncooperative. That according to participants in the closed door session.
The New York Times reports Bannon’s also been subpoenaed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller to testify before a grand jury in the Trump/Russia case.
So Trump’s got a lingering problem stemming from hiring a professional rabble-rouser. Because they can’t help rabble-rousing: that’s what they do.
At the same time, if the Trump Presidency is truly a reality show, as unlikely as it seems right now, there’s destined to be some kind of grand Trump/Bannon reconciliation sometime in the future. Perhaps when Trump finds himself mightily behind in the 2020 elections.
Is Trump Planning To “Punish” San Francisco With Unprecedented Immigration Crackdown?
According to the sfgate news site: yes. While the site doesn’t say when it will occur, it reports ICE is seeking to round up 1,500 undocumented immigrants in the area, in what would be the largest operation so far under the Trump Presidency. According to a source, the action will be coupled with a message that California’s being targeted by the feds because it’s calling itself a “sanctuary state”.
Trump’s “Fake Media” Awards Ceremony Is Supposed To Be Today
But the President’s been silent about it since last week, when he announced they’d be delayed until today. While the concept certainly fits the President’s agenda and could be viewed as a heightening of his attacks on the First Amendment, for now it could also backfire in a big way. Recipients of “THE MOST DISHONEST & CORRUPT MEDIA AWARDS” are likely to wear them as a badge of honor. And several late night political and talk show hosts have even been jokingly (but really, dead seriously) lobbying to “win” one.
Why Is It Such A Surprise Trump Passed His Physical Exam With Flying Colors?
The man has extraordinary stamina! We are decades younger than he is, and we can’t keep up with him! Face it: he practically borders on the superhuman. Especially given that his dietary and lifestyle choices are so poor.
By the way, his superb bill of health did not come from Trump’s private doctor, it came from Navy Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson, a physician who also served under President Obama. He also conducted a basic cognitive test. Which Trump aced too.
Maybe now liberals will finally stop wasting good, well-intentioned time and energy on short-cuts and cheats for getting Trump out of office (remember all those petitions demanding the electoral college not legitimize Trump’s election? How’s that going for you?) and instead start focusing on:
- Diminishing Trump’s power by powering Democrats to victory in this year’s Congressional elections.
- Beating the President so bad in 2020 that he starts crying like Bannon.