Washington Brief: Appeals Court Blocks Travel Ban

Washington Brief

  • A three-judge panel unanimously refused to reinstate President Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban. Trump’s message: “SEE YOU IN COURT.” (The New York Times)
  • The Senate voted, 52-47, to confirm Obamacare critic Tom Price to be secretary of Health and Human Services. The Senate will next vote Monday on Steve Mnuchin for Treasury Secretary. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • Sen. Chuck Schumer called on Trump’s nominee to lead the Labor Department, fast food executive Andy Puzder, to be withdrawn. (Morning Consult)
  • A leaked memo from Rep. Jeb Hensarling, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, revealed the House GOP’s plan to weaken the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and its leadership. (The New York Times)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

Senate convenes 9:30 a.m.



National security adviser Flynn discussed sanctions with Russian ambassador, despite denials, officials say
Greg Miller et al., The Washington Post

National security adviser Michael Flynn privately discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with that country’s ambassador to the United States during the month before President Trump took office, contrary to public assertions by Trump officials, current and former U.S. officials said. Flynn’s communications with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak were interpreted by some senior U.S. officials as an inappropriate and potentially illegal signal to the Kremlin that it could expect a reprieve from sanctions that were being imposed by the Obama administration in late December to punish Russia for its alleged interference in the 2016 election.

Inside the protest movement that has Republicans reeling
Elana Schor and Rachael Bade, Politico

Hill Republicans are openly accusing liberal mega-donors of bankrolling the tide of local protesters storming their offices. They’re beefing up their physical protection from demonstrators.

Americans Renouncing Citizenship at Record High
Suzanne Wooley, Bloomberg News

The number of Americans renouncing their citizenship rose to a new record of 5,411 last year, up 26 percent from 2015, according to the latest government data. Why?

State-sponsored hackers targeting prominent journalists, Google warns
Daniel Lippman, Politico

Google has warned a number of prominent journalists that state-sponsored hackers are attempting to steal their passwords and break into their inboxes, the journalists tell POLITICO. Jonathan Chait of New York Magazine said he received several messages from Google warning him about an attack from a government-backed hacker starting shortly after the election.

Financial Industry Worried About Effects of Border Adjustment Tax Plan
Tara Jeffries, Morning Consult 

Financial sector leaders are uncertain about how the House GOP’s proposed border adjustment provision, which would tax imports and exempt exports, will affect their industry, according to interviews with industry participants. The tax proposal, which House Republicans say is necessary to pay for broader cuts in the corporate rate, has both rattled retailers and prompted other industry leaders to come to its defense.

Tom Perez wants to lead a more aggressive, more local Democratic Party
Alice Miranda Ollstein, ThinkProgress 

On February 25, the 447 members of the Democratic National Committee will pick a new chairman to lead the party into the age of Donald Trump. Of the seven candidates battling it out for the job, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and former Labor Secretary Tom Perez have won over the most institutional and grassroots support, and are considered front-runners for the job.


Court Refuses to Reinstate Travel Ban, Dealing Trump Another Legal Loss
Adam Liptak, The New York Times

A federal appeals panel on Thursday unanimously rejected President Trump’s bid to reinstate his ban on travel into the United States from seven largely Muslim nations, a sweeping rebuke of the administration’s claim that the courts have no role as a check on the president. The three-judge panel, suggesting that the ban did not advance national security, said the administration had shown “no evidence” that anyone from the seven nations — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — had committed terrorist acts in the United States.

Senate Confirms Tom Price as Health and Human Services Secretary
Michelle Hackman, The Wall Street Journal

The U.S. Senate confirmed House Budget Chairman Tom Price (R., Ga.), President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, in a 52-47 party-line vote early Friday morning, placing him atop a sprawling agency tasked with dismantling the Affordable Care Act. Mr. Price’s nomination served as the first major proxy fight in Congress over the fate of former President Barack Obama’s signature health law, which Republicans have vowed to repeal and replace.

Trump backs ‘One China’ policy in first presidential call with Xi
Demetri Sevastopulo, Financial Times

President Donald Trump has told Chinese President Xi Jinping that he will respect the “One China” policy, in a move that will ease tensions between the powers. In his first conversation with Mr Xi since entering the Oval Office, Mr Trump said the White House would honour the “One China” policy under which the US recognises Beijing — and not Taipei — as the seat of the Chinese government.

Trump Will Use Abe Visit to Soothe Worried Asia-Pacific Allies
Carol E. Lee and Alastair Gale, The Wall Street Journal

President Donald Trump plans to use the White House visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday to reassure America’s Asia-Pacific allies that his administration values U.S. alliances in the region, despite his earlier comments raising doubts about his support for the relationships. The new president views alliances generally as the “cornerstone” of security for the U.S. and the world, and will make clear during Mr. Abe’s visit that he views those in Asia as “central to our success both in terms of security and prosperity in the region,” a senior administration official said.

Neil Gorsuch’s Criticism Wasn’t Aimed at Trump, Aides Say in Reversal
Julie Hirschfeld Davis, The New York Times

White House officials insisted on Thursday that Judge Neil M. Gorsuch, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, was not referring to Mr. Trump’s recent denigration of judges when he said privately that he was disheartened by attacks on the courts. Mr. Trump said on Twitter that the nominee’s remarks had been misrepresented, a sentiment echoed by the White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, during a contentious briefing.


Hatch: CMS Nominee to Get Confirmation Hearing Next Week
Jon Reid, Morning Consult

The Senate Finance Committee is expected to hold a confirmation hearing next week for Seema Verma, President Donald Trump’s pick to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Chairman Orrin Hatch told Morning Consult on Thursday. The Utah Republican declined to offer a specific date for her confirmation hearing.

Schumer Calls On Trump to Withdraw Puzder Nomination
Eli Yokley, Morning Consult

Flanked by fast food workers at the Capitol, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Thursday demanded that President Trump withdraw Andy Puzder’s nomination to lead the Labor Department. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Trump “ought to withdraw Puzder’s” nomination before the CKE Restaurants chief executive “further embarrasses the administration and further exposes the hypocrisy of President Trump, who will say one thing to the workers of America and do another.”

Thousands More Troops Needed in Afghanistan, Top U.S. Commander Tells Senate Panel
The Associated Press

A few thousand more troops are needed to help end the stalemate in Afghanistan, according to a senior U.S. military commander who also told lawmakers that Russian meddling was complicating the counterterrorism fight. Army Gen. John Nicholson, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, didn’t provide the Senate Armed Services Committee with an exact number of additional forces.

Bipartisan group of senators demand Yemen briefing
Austin Wright, Politico 

A bipartisan group of four senators is demanding a briefing on the U.S. military’s objectives in Yemen, as new details emerge about a Navy SEAL raid that left one U.S. service member and a number of civilians dead. Republicans Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah have joined Democrats Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Al Franken of Minnesota to request “a classified briefing” from the Trump administration on “our actions and objectives” in Yemen.


Consumer Watchdog Faces Attack by House Republicans
Alan Rappeport, The New York Times

The chairman of the House Financial Services Committee will move forward on legislation to neuter the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and its power to crack down on predatory business practices, according to a leaked memo that emerged on Thursday and infuriated Democratic defenders of the bureau. The memo, drafted by the chairman, Representative Jeb Hensarling, a Republican from Texas and a longtime foe of the consumer agency, aligns House Republicans with President Trump in the latest attack on President Barack Obama’s legacy.

Should House Democrats write off rural congressional districts?
Paul Kane, The Washington Post

Rep. Sean Maloney has one of the most sensitive jobs in Washington. The third-term Democrat, representing parts of New York’s Hudson Valley, is leading a review into what House Democrats did wrong in 2016.

How one GOP congressman tamed pro-Obamacare protesters
Rachael Bade, Politico

It had all the makings of the anti-Trump town hall meetings Republicans have come to fear. Retired health care industry worker Paul Bonis stood up and implored Republican Rep. Justin Amash to commit to keeping Obamacare — his life, the 61-year-old cancer survivor said, might actually depend on it.

Democrat moves to force House debate on Trump’s alleged business conflicts and Russia ties
Mike DeBonis, The Washington Post 

In an escalation of Democratic efforts to highlight questions about President Trump’s potential conflicts of interest and alleged ties to Russia, a senior House Democrat is dusting off a little-used legislative tool to force a committee debate or floor vote on the issue. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) filed a “resolution of inquiry” Thursday, a relatively obscure parliamentary tactic used to force presidents and executive-branch agencies to share records with Congress.


Metro GM Paul Wiedefeld to meet with new Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao
Martine Powers, The Washington Post 

Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld said he will soon meet with newly-confirmed Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to discuss the future of Metro and the federal government’s role in helping get the region’s transit system back on track. “I actually did run into her at one event and just introduced myself, and she obviously was aware of some of the issues that we are dealing with,” Wiedefeld said Thursday.


Nations turn to lobbyists amid Trump upheaval
Megan R. Wilson, The Hill 

No matter where they go, Washington’s lobbyists are finding they can’t escape President Trump. Lobbyist Nathan Daschle recalled a trip in December to a country that had been in Trump’s crosshairs during the presidential campaign.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Worried about the separation of powers? Then confirm Judge Gorsuch
Sen. Orrin Hatch, SCOTUSblog

Last week, President Donald Trump nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace Justice Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court. Judge Gorsuch is an ideal choice to fill this seat: He has impeccable credentials and a decade-long record on the bench demonstrating a keen understanding of the proper role of a judge.

What Comes After Acheson’s Creation?
Peggy Noonan, The Wall Street Journal

Let’s step back from the daily chaos and look at a big, pressing question. Last fall at a defense forum a significant military figure was asked: If you could wave a magic wand, what is the one big thing you’d give the U.S. military right now?

Trump’s nominees face ethics, divestment challenges
Ian Tuttle, National Review

Cory Booker should think about consulting a physician. He seems to be suffering a severe case of amnesia. Last month, Booker became the first senator in history to testify against a colleague in a Cabinet confirmation hearing — in this case, Alabama senator Jeff Sessions, Donald Trump’s nominee for attorney general.  

A Game Plan for Senate Democrats
Sarah Binder, The New York Times

The Republican majority in Washington has vowed to bulldoze the legacy of President Barack Obama. Because Democrats — despite round-the-clock efforts this week in the confirmation votes of Betsy DeVos as education secretary and Jeff Sessions as attorney general — have yet to block any member of President Trump’s cabinet, Democrats might appear to have little hope of stopping the Republican juggernaut.

Trump’s Judicial Debacle
The Wall Street Journal

President Trump’s immigration executive order has been a fiasco from the start, but the damage is spreading as a federal appeals court on Thursday declined to lift a legal blockade. Now the White House order has become an opening for judges to restrict the power of the political branches to conduct foreign policy.

THIS Is What Comes After The Women’s March
Stephanie Schriock, Refinery29 

Across the country, women are coming together in historic numbers to protect our values and stand up for what we know is right. We are marching, organizing, and speaking out.

Research Reports and Polling

How Long Trump’s Voters Are Willing to Wait for Him to ‘Make America Great’
Cameron Easley, Morning Consult 

President Donald Trump swept into power by pledging to “make America great again,” and Morning Consult survey data shows a sizable portion of the voters who elected him are willing to give him two years or less to make good on that promise. According to a new Morning Consult/POLITICO poll, 35 percent of registered voters who supported Trump in the 2016 presidential election said they would give him about two years or less.