WASHINGTON – President Trump delivered a blunt message to Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer of New York, saying there would be no agreement to help Dreamers without funding for the president’s long-promised border wall, according to The Hill.
Trump tweeted, “Cryin’ Chuck Schumer fully understands, especially after his humiliating defeat, that if there is no Wall, there is no DACA. We must have safety and security, together with a strong Military, for our great people!”
DACA is the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, an Obama-era program that offers certain protections to undocumented immigrants, popularly known as Dreamers, who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children.
Senate negotiations on immigration are back to square one after Democratic Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York withdrew the Democrats’ offer to fully fund President Trump’s proposed border wall, according to The Hill.
And members of the liberal-heavy House Democratic Caucus are furious that Senate leaders, after forcing a government shutdown, agreed to reopen it without a firm commitment from the GOP to enact legislation protecting recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
The friction threatens to weaken the Democrats’ hand heading into the next shutdown deadline, Feb. 8, according to The Hill, as well as undermine their bid to win protections for DACA recipients; and complicate their efforts to rally behind a unified message ahead of November’s midterm elections.
Top Democrats warn of ‘ongoing attack by the Russian government
Top Democrats called on Facebook and Twitter to investigate what lawmakers said are Russian efforts to promote the release of a classified Republican memo criticizing the FBI probe of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 campaign, according to The Washington Post.
Hashtags such as “#ReleaseTheMemo” have been trending on Twitter in recent days, and accounts affiliated with Russian influence efforts have been supporting this campaign, according to the Alliance for Securing Democracy, a U.S.-based group that examines efforts by Russia and other nations to interfere in democratic institutions.
California Democrats Rep. Adam B. Schiff and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, top members of their party on the House Intelligence Committee and Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a letter to Facebook and Twitter, “If these reports are accurate, we are witnessing an ongoing attack by the Russian government through Kremlin-linked social media actors directly acting to intervene and influence our democratic process.”
Calls for stronger gun laws following deadly Ky. school shooting
Law enforcement officials will look for additional information today into what prompted the horrific school shooting in Benton, Ky., according to USA Today.
Authorities say a 15-year-old student opened fire at Marshall County High School early Tuesday, killing at least two people and wounding a dozen more.
The incident marked the deadliest shooting at a high school in Kentucky since 1997 when three people were killed and five others were injured at Heath High School in West Paducah, about 30 miles away from Benton.
Community leaders and politicians, including former Democratic Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, took to social media to express their condolences and called for stronger laws to prevent gun violence in schools.
Hippo happy birthday!
The Cincinnati Zoo’s baby Nile hippopotamus was born six weeks early a year ago and things didn’t look so good, according to USA Today. She was just 29 pounds — 25 pounds lighter than the smallest Nile hippo ever recorded.
But little by little, ounce by ounce, she grew — and grew and grew.
Along the way, she became a media star, with legions of fans “hearting” Facebook videos of her and buying T-shirts adorned with her face.
With Fiona now at a robust 632 pounds, her handlers at the zoo are recalling those scary first days, when they would lay next to their Little Spoon to keep her warm and alive.
Sentencing nears for Nassar after emotional hearing
Former physician Larry Nassar, who is accused of sexually abusing more than 100 girls and women while working for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University, is expected to be sentenced today at the end of a seven-day court hearing in Michigan.
Over 100 women are expected to have testified when victim-impact statements are complete, according to USA Today.
Nassar has been sentenced to 60 years in prison after pleading guilty to federal child pornography charges. He faces another 125 years after pleading guilty to state charges of sexually assaulting seven girls.
Top leadership of USA Gymnastics’ board of directors resigned Monday in the wake of the scandal, and many have called for Michigan State’s president to step down, too.
Pope Francis condemns “fake news”
Pope Francis released a message today condemning “fake news,” saying that it’s a “sign of intolerant and hypersensitive attitudes, and leads only to the spread of arrogance and hatred.”
The Vatican says the message is part of the Pope’s World Communications Day, but some at St. Peter’s Square say the Pope was probably sending a message to President Trump and other world leaders who have been using the phrase “fake news.”
The tragic history of human sin, the Pope says in his message, is the first “fake news” and it dates to the book of Genesis when the “crafty serpent” lied to the woman. In the present day, according to the Pope’s message the fast digital world helps fuel the spread of “fake news.”
Trump slams the FBI for lost messages
President Donald Trump slammed the FBI for blaming phone supplier Samsung for the loss of thousands of messages exchanged between FBI agents Lisa Page and Peter Strzok, according to Fox News.
Trump tweeted Tuesday, “Where are the 50,000 important text messages between FBI lovers Lisa Page and Peter Strzok? Blaming Samsung!”
The Department of Justice has opened an investigation into how the FBI “failed to preserve” text messages sent between Strzok, the FBI’s top counterintelligence officer, and Page, a senior FBI lawyer,
leaving the nation’s premier law enforcement agency scrambling to defend its reputation amid an explosion of criticism from the White House, Congress and conservative media.
Veterans face crisis as federal funding evaporates for neighborhood health clinics
The Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare, established the Community Health Center Fund to provide money for the operation, expansion, and construction of community health centers to improve access for low-income Americans and veterans who live far from a VA hospital.
Without new funding from Congress, centers will face an immediate 70 percent cut in funding, according to the National Association of Community Health Centers, resulting in 9 million patients losing care and 2,800 of an estimated 10,400 delivery sites closing.
Community health center funding expired at the end of September along with money for a children’s health program. The bill re-opening the government signed by President Trump Monday included a six-year extension of funding for the children’s health program known as CHIP but did not include money for the community centers.
Lack of long-term federal spending bill undermines nation’s public health
Congress’s inability to pass a long-term spending bill has major ramifications for the nation’s public health, advocates and former agency officials warn.
The short-term measures hinder efforts to plan, recruit staff and scale up if there’s a public health emergency, even as they keep the government open, advocates say.
To maintain services, state and local agencies — like health departments — rely on federal funding and grants from agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health.
Prison reform gains new momentum under Trump
Momentum is building under the Trump administration for criminal justice reform, with a bill expected before the first quarter ends in April. The path forward is looking a little different than it has in the past, according to The Hill.
Previous efforts to reform the justice system have focused on cutting prison time for convicted felons. But those taking part in the current discussions say the focus has shifted to preventing ex-convicts from returning to jail, suggesting this approach has the best chance of winning approval from both Congress and the White House.
A source familiar with the talks between the White House and GOP members of Congress said a bipartisan prison-reform bill offered by GOP Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia is expected to be marked up in the House Judiciary Committee before the end of the first quarter.
Trump administration message at Swiss economic forum: “America First is not America alone”
President Trump, accompanied by 10 Cabinet members and other top advisers at the economic forum of global elites in Davos, Switzerland, today, is fighting back at the global perception that the United States is anti-globalization and against free trade.
Gary Cohn, the head of Trump’s National Economic Council, said: “America First is not America alone.”
Resetting the world’s perception of Trump is likely to be difficult with thousands of protesters gathered in Zurich, the closest major town to Davos, saying “Trump not welcome.”
Some world leaders took economic jabs at Trump, notably Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who announced Canada had finalized a major trade deal with 10 Asia-Pacific countries, essentially a revised version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership that Trump pulled out of last year.
Trump is the first U.S. president since Bill Clinton in 2000 to attend the economic gathering widely viewed as a gathering of leaders who value globalization, migration, trade and cooperation.
Powerful Warthogs back in Afghanistan
A squadron of A-10C “Warthog” Thunderbolts has begun flying missions over drug-growing areas of Afghanistan, part of growing U.S. and Afghan efforts targeting Taliban redoubts and proliferate drug facilities.
The single-seat A-10 is beloved by U.S. troops for the versatile, sturdy and intense ground support the heavily’-armored aircraft provides. The A-10s arrived over the weekend from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri.
The aircraft deployment is the latest sign of escalating military operations and deepening U.S. military involvement by the Trump administration against the Taliban.
Afghanistan is the global leading producer of poppies, supplying about 80 percent of the world’s opium. In 2017, a record of almost 10,000 tons of opium was produced, according to a joint survey conducted by the United Nations and the Afghan government.
Pompeo interviewed in Mueller’s Russia probe, Yates cooperating
CIA Director Mike Pompeo has been interviewed as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference, NBC News reports.
Former acting attorney general Sally Yates has also cooperated with the special counsel, the network reported.
President Trump last year fired Yates from her post after she refused to defend his travel ban. She has since become a frequent critic of the Trump administration.
Pompeo and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, who has also spoken with Mueller’s team, are “peripheral witnesses” to the firing of former FBI director James Comey, one person familiar with the matter told NBC News.
The report comes one day after news broke that Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who recused himself from the Russia investigation despite criticisms from Trump, was interviewed last week in the Mueller probe. Trump ordered White House counsel Don McGahn to block Sessions from recusing himself, but the attorney general refused.
Toys R Us to close up to 182 stores
Toys R Us filed court documents outlining plans to close up to 182 stores as part of its bankruptcy reorganization plans.
The company noted that some closings may be avoided if it is able to negotiate more favorable lease terms. But most of the stores listed in the documents are expected to close as Toys R Us tries to reinvent itself as a leaner, smarter retailer.
Going-out-of-business sales are scheduled to begin in February and be completed in April.
Trump’s Federal Reserve chair pick confirmed
The Senate confirmed President Trump’s pick for Federal Reserve chair, Jerome Powell.
The upper chamber approved the nomination, 84-13.
Powell has a been a member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors since May 2012. He served as Under Secretary of the Treasury for Domestic Finance in the administration of President George H.W. Bush.
Powell will succeed Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen next month when her term expires.
The king of beers is dead
Budweiser, the king of beers, has officially been dethroned, USA Today says.
Budweiser no longer is among the top three best-selling beers in the U.S., according to Beer Marketer’s Insights, as people drink less beer or switch to craft brews, wine or spirits.
Miller Lite has supplanted Budweiser as the No. 3 favorite beer, behind No. 1 Bud Light and No. 2 Coors Light, according to 2017 estimates from the trade publication, which has tracked the industry for more than 40 years.
Flynn met with FBI investigators without Trump’s knowledge
President Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, met with FBI investigators early last year without the president’s knowledge, according to a report from NBC News.
Flynn reportedly met with FBI investigators interested in his past correspondence with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. That meeting was held last January behind closed doors in Flynn’s White House office without a lawyer, NBC reported.
White House counsel Don McGahn learned of the meeting from former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, according to the network.
Yates reportedly told McGahn that Flynn had lied to Vice President Pence and other administration officials about his communications with Kislyak and other Kremlin officials.
U.S. tourism down since Trump took office
Tourism to the United States has dropped during President Trump’s time in the White House, NBC News reported.
The result of the decline in tourism has caused $4.6 billion in lost spending and 40,000 jobs, the network reported, citing the latest data from the National Travel and Tourism Office.
Travel spending has dropped 3.3 percent. The data also shows a 4 percent drop in inbound travel.
The U.S. is also no longer the world’s second-most popular destination for foreign travel.
Adam Sacks, the president of Tourism Economics, told The New York Times that it’s “not a reach to say the rhetoric and policies of this administration are affecting sentiment around the world, creating antipathy toward the U.S. and affecting travel behavior.”
Unprecedented numbers of women running for office in 2018, and into the future
EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock said in a new interview that the political action committee encouraging women to run for office will not always be needed and that women will be launching campaigns in every election.
Schriock told Politico’s “Women Rule” podcast, “Someday, EMILY’s List will not be needed,” adding …This isn’t just the candidates for 2018, this is the next decade of leadership in this country.”
The interview comes as women across the country voice interest in running for office.
EMILY’s List has reported 26,000 women as launching interest in launching their own campaigns for office or to help other women run.
Don Lemon warns Trump of effects of rhetoric after man allegedly threatened to kill CNN employees
CNN’s Don Lemon warned President Trump of the effects of his rhetoric after a man was arrested after allegedly threatening to shoot and kill CNN employees.
Lemon said on CNN, “There’s nothing random about this. Nothing.”
Lemon said that the caller who allegedly threatened to kill CNN employees used the words “fake news.”
Lemon asked,”Fake news, I wonder where he got those words?”
Lemon played a series of clips in which Trump is shown railing against the news media, referring to it as “fake news” and saying the fake news is the enemy of the people.
Lemon then spoke directly to the president, saying, “We are not the enemy. We are not trying to silence you. It is the job of the free press to report the facts, to ask questions, tough questions, ones you don’t like.”
GOP senator: DACA fix must be tied to border security, including wall
GOP Sen. David Perdue of Georgia said today that a solution for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program must be tied to border security, including a wall.
Perdue told “Fox and Friends,” referring to President Trump’s demands, “Any DACA solution has got to include border security to include a wall, an end of chain migration, and an end to this diversity lottery.”
Georgia Republican said. “He wants a compassionate solution to the DACA situation. He wants to give them certainty.”
GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky earlier this week pledged to bring up an immigration bill in February as part of negotiations with Democrats to end the government shutdown.
Oregon votes to expand Medicaid
Oregon voters voted to approve new taxes to pay for increased Medicaid costs in the state.
Voters approved new taxes on hospitals, health insurers and managed care costs Tuesday.
The vote is noteworthy because voters were the sole decision makers on how to pay for rising health care costs. The measure enacts a 0.7 percent tax on some hospitals in the state and a 1.5 percent tax on managed care organizations and on entire health insurance premiums.
The measure is short-term because lawmakers must come up with a funding plan down the line for the over 350,000 people added to Medicaid in the state.
Only 5 percent of the state’s population is without insurance after Oregon worked to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare.
Bankers praise Trump ahead of Davos speech
President Trump won high praise today from the United States’ most powerful bankers ahead of his impending trip to an elite Swiss global economic conference.
Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein and JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon touted Trump’s impact on the economy and the coming effects of the GOP tax plan in Wednesday CNBC interviews.
Both said that Trump’s approach to regulation and economic policy kicked an already cruising economy into another gear.
Trump will speak Friday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, a yearly meeting of global business, finance and government titans, to tout his efforts to boost the U.S. economy.