Shutdown Over, Peace And Calm Return To Washington…Who Are We Kidding?!

Mueller Investigation Comes Closer To Touching Trump Than Ever Before

The Washington Post reports Trump’s Attorney General, Jeff Sessions has already been interviewed by Special Counsel Mueller’s team. So has fired-FBI Director James Comey. And Trump could be next. That’s nothing new, the Post previously reported Trump’s lawyers have been talking to Mueller’s folks since Decembers about parameters for such a meeting. For instance, would it involve face-to-face Q&A or would written answers from the President suffice? At this point we don’t know.

Trump says he’s not concerned “at all”. See if you believe him by clicking on the photo below:

One thing’s very curious to us about the Post story: the sourcing. It’s attributed to “two people familiar with [Mueller’s] plans”. That’s very strange wording. Mueller’s team has been impressively leak free. Does this represent a shift in strategy? Or is it coming from someone on the Trump side who’s been trying to schedule stuff with Mueller?

Either way, this big leak should energize Republican counter-attacks. Which mainly consist of legitimizing conspiracy theories about the FBI trying to do Trump in. Tired of hearing about “Hillary’s 30,000 missing emails?” Well now, you’re going to start to hear a lot about “50,000 missing text messages”. In fact, that’s what Trump chose to Tweet about late last night:



Schumer Reengages Trump By Taking “The Wall” Off The Table

It all started with a report in Politico where Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said he was withdrawing the simple offer he’d made to the President last week: DACA for Trump’s wall. The initial response from the White House: no big thing, since according to them, Schumer’s wall offer “never existed”.

But…wait for it…til almost midnight…AND BINGO!:

One very important thing that isn’t really getting much attention: if you’ve listened to Trump in recent days, he’s made it very clear that he wants funding for the entire wall up front, in a lump sum. For two reasons:

  1. He believes he can build the entire thing in 1 year. He keeps referring to the time he fixed the ice skating rink in Central Park after the city had failed to do so for years, and how he did it “under budget and ahead of schedule”.
  2. He is astutely aware that if he only gets a down payment this year, and Democrats retake the House Or Senate next year, he’ll never get the rest of the funding.

Schumer had offered him that lump sum he was looking for. More, in fact. The Washington Post says $25-billion dollars.

Meanwhile, bipartisan talks on a DACA package both coalesced and fragmented, with more Senators joining the core group that’s working on it, and that’s making the path forward murkier.

Democrats got some good news: Democratic Senator Manchin of West Virginia will run again this fall. He’s considered the most conservative of all Democrats currently, and the only Democrat that could possibly win that state right now. Trump had considered offering Manchin a cabinet position to wrest that seat away.


Trump, along with Olympians Dorothy Hamill and Scott Hamilton reopen the Wollman ice skating rink in Central Park in 1986



Turkey Is Attacking U.S. Allies In Syria; Creating Huge Challenge For Trump

This story is going to get huge over the next several days and weeks. Turkish troops are attacking Kurdish forces in Northern Syria, claiming they’re terrorists. Those same Kurds have been assisting the U.S. in fighting ISIS.

So far, the State Department says it’s warned Turkey that the U.S. priority is focusing on ISIS. At the same time, it also called Turkey “an important NATO ally”. Trump can’t continue having it both ways.



A Few Other Important Stories, In Brief…

Pence’s Quiet Visit To Israel. Amid all the tumult in Washington, Pence snuck off on a long-anticipated trip that had been put off since last year. Originally, it was intended as a tour of diplomatic goodwill following Trump’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. And while Pence met with some regional leaders, his main focus was support for Israel. In a speech, he assured the Israeli Parliament the Embassy move would take place next year. (Much earlier than expected: “under budget and ahead of schedule”.)  Another statement in Pence’s speech: “We stand with Israel. Your cause is our cause, your fight is our fight” is causing conjecture in Israeli editorial pages that Mideast peace might now only be accomplished by “circumventing the U.S.


VP Mike Pence


Trump’s Noisy Trip To Davos. The President departs today for Switzerland where he’ll speak at the World Economic Forum, an annual gathering of the global financial elite, which this year has transformed into something resembling an economic General Assembly, with many world leaders popping in and speaking out. Trump’s visit comes against the backdrop of his recent decision to put huge tariffs on imports of washing machines and solar panels to the U.S., with hints there’s more to come.

The Trans Pacific Partnership will be signed after all, with the U.S. on the outside. The free trade pact which is intended to slow China’s spreading economic influence in the Pacific (China’s not part of it), got final approval from all the countries involved and is due to be signed in Chile in early March. TPP was vigorously supported by President Obama. But Trump immediately killed U.S. involvement when he took office (Bernie Sanders was against it too), and probably thought he’d killed it altogether. Instead, the remaining countries decided to push forward. For countries like Canada and Mexico it might provide  a buffer if Trump also decides to pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Another round of NAFTA talks just got underway in Montreal.

Mick Mulvaney Says Corporations Are People Too! The new head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, who’s also Trump’s budget director, says the agency should get a little less aggressive, writing in a memo: “We don’t just work for the government, we work for the people. And that means everyone: those who use credit cards, and those who provide those cards; those who take loans, and those who make them; those who buy cars, and those who sell them….And all of them deserve to be treated fairly by their government.”

Which makes no sense. As Slate points out, it’s the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau…

Yet Another Mass Shooting Leaves 2 Teens Dead, 13 Wounded. 5 additional students at Marshall County High School in Kentucky were injured escaping from the school. A 15-year old, who has not yet been identified by police was apprehended and is in custody, charged with murder and attempted murder. The New York Times points out that less than a month into 2018, there already have been 11 school shootings nationwide.