Washington Brief: Trump to Discuss Defense, Trade With Trudeau Today

Washington Brief

  • President Donald Trump will host Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today in Washington. The two leaders are expected to discuss defense and trade policies. (The Globe and Mail)
  • The White House is considering a new executive order on immigration, even as Trump expressed confidence that he’d emerge victorious in a legal battle over his Jan. 27 immigration order. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • The Senate is poised to confirm Steven Mnuchin, a former banker, to lead the Treasury Department. A vote is scheduled for this evening. (Reuters)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

AEI event on school finance 10:30 a.m.
House and Senate convene 12 p.m.
Senate confirmation vote for Treasury secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin 7 p.m.
No events scheduled
Heritage event on conservatism and populism 9 a.m.
Sir John Jenkins at CAP event on Muslim Brotherhood 11 a.m.
Confirmation hearing for Andrew Puzder to lead Labor Dept. 10 a.m.
Confirmation hearing for Seema Verm to lead Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services 10 a.m.
No events scheduled



‘NOT a drill’: 188,000 evacuated, emergency declared, as Calif’s massive Oroville Dam threatens floods
Samantha Schmidt and Derek Hawkins, The Washington Post

About 188,000 residents near Oroville, Calif. were ordered to evacuate Sunday after a hole in an emergency spillway in the Oroville Dam threatened to flood the surrounding area. Thousands clogged highways leading out of the area headed south, north and west and arteries major and minor remained jammed as midnight approached on the West Coast.

D.C. region braces for shock from Trump effect on spending, federal workforce
Robert McCartney, The Washington Post

The Washington region’s prospects aren’t all bad under the Trump administration. A top local economist joked at a recent business conference that demonstrators flocking to rallies in the District will drop bundles of cash, spurring growth from “protest tourism.”

Employers Balk at Curbs on Generous Health Plans
Anne Wilde Mathews, The Wall Street Journal

The Affordable Care Act’s tax on high-cost employer health plans faced sharp opposition from employers and unions. Now, Republicans are drawing equal fire for ACA replacement proposals that those groups say would have some of the same effects.

Mexican Presidential Hopeful Wins Support With Trump Stance
Santiago Pérez and Juan Montes, The Wall Street Journal

Leftist presidential hopeful Andrés Manuel López Obrador is gaining momentum in the race to lead Mexico, tapping into a nationalist backlash against the U.S. as President Donald Trump upends bilateral relations. The former Mexico City mayor, narrowly beaten in Mexico’s two previous presidential elections, is now widening his lead in opinion polls ahead of next year’s contest.

Behind The Rise Of The Anti-Trump Twitter Conspiracy Theorists
Charlie Warzel, BuzzFeed News 

Just after 3:00 A.M. last Friday morning, Huffington Post contributor and progressive advocate Alex Mohajer set to work on a brief investigative project on Twitter. Pulling together red marker-circled articles, graphs, and screenshots from numerous financial websites, he rifled off 16 tweets with prosecutorial zeal and one ambitious goal: to build a compelling case linking Donald Trump to Russia’s $11 Billion sale of its oil giant, Rosneft.


Justin Trudeau will tread carefully on global security in Trump meeting
Cambell Clark, The Globe and Mail 

Justin Trudeau was going to bring Canada back into UN peacekeeping. Now, that’s on hold as he waits to understand Donald Trump’s global priorities.

Trump Is Sifting Options on Immigration Ban, Adviser Says
Rebecca Ballhaus, The Wall Street Journal

The White House is examining several options—including issuing a new executive order or continuing its legal battle—for how to proceed on its immigration policy after a setback dealt by the courts last week, top White House adviser Stephen Miller said Sunday. President Donald Trump was handed a judicial defeat last week when the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco upheld a lower-court decision suspending his executive order, which halted U.S. entry by visitors from seven predominantly Muslim countries for at least 90 days, froze the entire U.S. refugee program for four months and indefinitely banned refugees from Syria.

Turmoil at the National Security Council, From the Top Down
David E. Sanger et al., The New York Times 

These are chaotic and anxious days inside the National Security Council, the traditional center of management for a president’s dealings with an uncertain world. Three weeks into the Trump administration, council staff members get up in the morning, read President Trump’s Twitter posts and struggle to make policy to fit them.

Trump reviews top White House staff after tumultuous start
Josh Dawsey and Alex Isenstadt, Politico

President Donald Trump, frustrated over his administration’s rocky start, is complaining to friends and allies about some of his most senior aides — leading to questions about whether he is mulling an early staff shakeup. Trump has told several people that he is particularly displeased with national security adviser Michael Flynn over reports that he had top-secret discussions with Russian officials about and lied about it.

At Mar-a-Lago, Trump tackles crisis diplomacy at close range
Kevin Liptak, CNN 

The iceberg wedge salads, dripping with blue cheese dressing, had just been served on the terrace of Mar-a-Lago Saturday when the call to President Donald Trump came in: North Korea had launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile, its first challenge to international rules since Trump was sworn in three weeks ago. The launch, which wasn’t expected, presented Trump with one of the first breaking national security incidents of his presidency.


Senate expected to confirm Mnuchin as Treasury secretary
David Lawder, Reuters 

The U.S. Senate is expected to confirm former Goldman Sachs banker and Hollywood financier Steven Mnuchin as Treasury secretary on Monday, returning a Wall Street veteran to the top U.S. economic and financial job for the first time in eight years. Mnuchin’s appointment to Treasury signals the Trump administration’s trust in bankers and other senior business executives after Democrat Barack Obama launched his presidency with career regulator Timothy Geithner running Treasury and a mandate to rein in Wall Street for its role in the 2007-2009 financial crisis.

G.O.P. Lawmakers Like What They See in Trump. They Just Have to Squint.
Jonathan Martin and Matt Flegenheimer, The New York Times 

Republican congressional aides have set their iPhones to flutter every time President Trump hurls a thunderbolt on Twitter. Senators nod politely at his false claims of mass voter fraud during private White House meetings.

Terminal Velocity? McConnell skips airport protest
Joseph Gerth, Louisville Courier-Journal  

As an addendum to my column that appeared in the Friday, Feb. 10, newspaper, a group of about a dozen and a half protesters showed up at Louisville International Airport to greet American Airlines Flight 4711 – the plane that Sen. Mitch McConnell took from Reagan National Airport back to Louisville. They figured if they couldn’t get through on the phone, they might be able to talk to him in person.

Bernie Sanders cries foul over canceled town hall meeting in West Virginia
David Weigel, The Washington Post

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is raising questions about the surprise cancellation of a town hall meeting in West Virginia, which was scheduled for Monday morning and was to be filmed for an MSNBC special. In a statement, Sanders said that a National Guard armory that had been booked for the town hall had canceled without explanation, and that the network was unable to find a new venue on short notice.

Franken dings Trump over Warren insult
David Cohen, Politico

Minnesota Sen. Al Franken on Sunday assailed President Donald Trump over his latest reported insult of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, saying he would have told the president the remark was “racist.” At a White House meeting Thursday with some of Franken’s Senate colleagues, Trump was reported to have referred to Warren as “Pocahontas,” a moniker he had previously used to ding the Massachusetts Democrat over her past claim to some sort of Native American heritage.


Cummings: Flynn should lose security clearance
Daniel Strauss, Politico

Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said national security adviser Michael Flynn’s security clearance should be revoked in response to reports that he discussed with Russia lifting sanctions put in place by then-President Barack Obama. Host George Stephanopoulos asked Cummings on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday whether he agreed with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi that Flynn’s security clearance should be revoked, pending the completion of an investigation into the matter.

House to Take First Step to Overturn D.C. Assisted Suicide Law
Stephanie Akin, Roll Call

A House committee will take the first official step Monday evening to overturn a new Washington, D.C., assisted suicide law, raising concerns locally that a Republican-controlled Congress will be emboldened to interfere with city government under President Donald Trump. Actually overturning the so-called Death With Dignity Act would require an improbable series of events.

For Democrats, Being Out of Power Has Its Perks
Emmarie Huettman, The New York Times

There is something liberating about not being in charge. House Democrats seemed jovial, occasionally even buoyant, last week as more than 140 members of their caucus gathered for a retreat in a hotel overlooking Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, unencumbered by the raucous protests and heavy expectations that followed Republicans to their own retreat in Philadelphia two weeks ago.


Protesters mob provocative Va. governor candidate as he defends Confederate statue
Fenit Nirappil, The Washington Post

Republican gubernatorial candidate Corey Stewart came to this town to defend its statue of Robert E. Lee in a downtown park, only to be swarmed by dozens of protesters who shouted him down everywhere he went. It was the harshest reception yet for the provocative chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, who is campaigning for the GOP nomination for governor as Virginia’s Donald Trump, with a hard-line stance against illegal immigration.

Who will be Maine’s next governor? It could be one of these people.
Scott Thistle, Portland Press Herald

Mainers won’t choose their next governor for another 20 months, but some possible candidates are already beginning to jockey for position, build name recognition and earn partisan favor. Several prominent figures in both parties all but confirmed last week that they would likely be throwing their hats in the ring for the 2018 race for the Blaine House.

States find new ways to troll Trump
Natasha Korecki, Politico

A California lawmaker is demanding Melania Trump’s immigration records. New Hampshire lawmakers have introduced a resolution demanding a federal probe into Trump University and “illegal financial or business dealings in which President TRUMP may have been involved.”


Why President Trump is a godsend for lobbyists
Emily Cadei, Newsweek

Al Mottur admits to not only counting his chickens before they hatched but putting out all the fixings for a fried chicken feast. The veteran Democratic lobbyist went into Election Day assuming Hillary Clinton would be America’s 45th president, and as a member of Clinton’s national finance committee who helped raise more than $1 million for her campaign, that would have been a victory not just for his party but also for his bottom line.

Trump’s Watered-Down Ethics Rules Let a Lobbyist Help Run an Agency He Lobbied
Justin Elliot, ProPublica

Geoff Burr spent much of the last decade as the chief lobbyist for a powerful construction industry trade group. Burr sought to influence a host of regulations of the Department of Labor, opposing wage standards for federal construction contracts and working against an effort to limit workers’ exposure to dangerous silica dust.

A Message from the Electronic Payments Coalition:

The Durbin amendment is a failed policy and a broken promise. The worst part? Consumers have gotten screwed, failing to see billions of dollars in savings as promised. It is time to call out the retailers and repeal this merchant markup. Learn more from the Electronic Payments Coalition.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

A Conventional Way to Avoid the ‘Nuclear’ End
Mac Campbell, Morning Consult

Recently, there has been flippant talk about bending or changing U.S. Senate rules to advance Trump administration goals and nominees. The decision in the 113th Congress to use the “nuclear option” to provide simple-majority consent for nominees (save those to the Supreme Court) means that ultimately all of President Donald Trump’s appointments will be confirmed with a minimum of 51 votes.

Texas and the Real Forgotten Man
Mary Anastasia O’Grady, The Wall Street Journal

Donald Trump pledged in his inaugural address to stand up for the forgotten man and woman. But if the 45th president destroys the North American Free Trade Agreement in an attempt to rescue some Americans, millions more—including many who voted for him—could be added to the nation’s economically forgotten souls.

Tillerson must bridge the gap between his workforce and the White House
Josh Rogin, The Washington Post

One of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s most crucial missions is to ensure that the State Department he leads becomes an integral and influential part of the Trump administration and not an outpost of opposition to a White House set on radically altering U.S. foreign policy priorities. That strategy is playing out in his selection of key officials to manage his agency, including his new chief of staff.

A Rare Republican Call to Climate Action
The Editorial Board, The New York Times

The most important thing about a carbon tax plan proposed last week may be the people behind it: prominent Republicans like James Baker III, George Shultz and Henry Paulson Jr. Their endorsement of the idea, variations of which have been suggested before, may be a breakthrough for a party that has closed its eyes to the perils of man-made climate change and done everything in its power to thwart efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

A Message from the Electronic Payments Coalition:

What is the Durbin amendment? Broken promises worth $42 billion to big box retailers. Learn about the merchant markup and how it is hurting consumers from the Electronic Payments Coalition.

Research Reports and Polling

2018: A Tale of Two Parties
Eric Ostermeier, University of Minnesota 

Much has been made about the missed opportunity by Democrats to win back the U.S. Senate in 2016 – gaining only two of the five seats they needed to claim a majority – particularly in light of the brutal electoral map the party now faces in 2018. Next year Democrats will need to defend 23 of the 34 seats on the ballot for the nation’s upper legislative chamber, plus two other seats held by independents currently caucusing with the party.