Lazy Saturday Reads: #TrumpShutdown and Other NewsPosted: January 20, 2018
Well, they did it. For the first time in history, the government has shut down while one party controls both the executive and legislative branches. NBC News:
The federal government entered a partial shutdown Saturday as a key vote fell far short of the support needed to pass the Senate and the midnight deadline came and went without a deal.
One year to the day since President Donald Trump took office flanked by a Republican Congress, Washington waited for word of where it goes from here as both parties sought a way out of the impasse.
The proposal that failed was the one passed by the House on Thursday. It would have funded the government until Feb. 16, extended the low-income children’s health insurance program, or CHIP, for six years and suspended some Obamacare taxes for two years.
Senate Democrats, demanding progress on the fate of the young immigrants covered by the DACA program, withheld their support for the bill after the prospect of an agreement with Republicans and the White House fell apart.
But Republicans failed to assemble a simple majority for the measure as some within their own ranks, frustrated with the spate of month-long spending bills, also opposed the short-term solution.
After the vote failed, Democrats offered a measure to make sure that military salaries would be paid, but Senate Leader Mitch McConnell refused to allow a vote.
Democrats also wanted to pass short term agreements to keep the government open until today or Monday. McConnell blocked those efforts.
McConnell wants to blame the shutdown on Democrats, but it’s not going to work. Overnight, #TrumpShutdown was trending on Twitter worldwide.
Meanwhile, Louisiana Senator John Kennedy “blasted Congress on Friday as a government funding deadline approached, slamming the government as being “run by idiots.”
“Our country was founded by geniuses, but it’s being run by idiots,” Kennedy told reporters hours before the government was set to enter a shutdown.
Read more at The Hill.
What’s next? The Washington Post: Congress returns to work as lawmakers press to keep shutdown short-lived.
Republican and Democratic leaders both said they would continue to talk, raising the possibility of a solution over the weekend. Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said Friday that the conflict has a “really good chance” of being resolved before government offices open Monday, suggesting that a shutdown’s impacts could be limited.
But when the House reconvened Saturday morning, the partisan finger-pointing began immediately.
“Democrats in the United States Senate are holding government funding hostage. The people protecting this country will continue to work, but won’t get a paycheck,” Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) said in a floor speech.
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) shot back from across the aisle: “It is the Trump confrontation and chaos that continues. That is why this government is shut down.” [….]
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who is home in Arizona battling brain cancer, blasted both parties early Saturday, saying the shutdown “is a direct result of the breakdown of cooperation in Congress.”
“As Republicans and Democrats run to cable news to point fingers and assign blame, the hard reality is that all of us share responsibility for this failure,” McCain said in a statement.
The Trump gang announced that they would refuse to negotiate on immigration, but Trump is pretty irrelevant at this point after showing zero leadership and changing his mind multiple times over the past couple of weeks.
“We will not negotiate the status of unlawful immigrants while Democrats hold our lawful citizens hostage over their reckless demands,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. “This is the behavior of obstructionist losers, not legislators. When Democrats start paying our armed forces and first responders we will reopen negotiations on immigration reform.”
Of course Trump himself was only worried about how the shutdown would affect his weekend plans. The Daily Beast: Trump Whines: Shutdown Fight Could Make Me Miss ‘My Party.’
Before the federal government shutdown at midnight Saturday, President Donald Trump privately vented frustrations that the political impasse would possibly keep him from attending a glitzy inauguration anniversary bash and fundraiser set for Saturday at his Florida getaway Mar-a-Lago.
Two sources close to the president, one a White House official and the other a longtime confidant, told The Daily Beast how excited he was for the event and relayed his growing concern that the potential failure to strike a deal to keep the federal government open could keep him from “my party,” as the president has said….
The White House officially cancelled Trump’s trip to Florida that was scheduled for Friday afternoon, and he spent the day attempting to help congressional leaders reach a deal to forestall a shutdown.
Administration officials who briefed reporters on the logistics of the impending shutdown on Friday said the expiration of government funding would not necessarily impede the president’s travel plans to Mar-a-Lago or elsewhere. In particular, one official said, Trump will still be free to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos next week, though the White House did not say whether the shutdown would affect Trump’s plans to attend the glamorous gathering of globalists.
I expect Trump will end up going, although he’s not supposed to use Air Force One.
There will be women’s marches around the country today to promote voter registration and voting in November. CNN: Everything you need to know about women’s marches this weekend.
This weekend is the one-year anniversary of President Donald Trump’s swearing-in. But hundreds of thousands of activists across the US also are marking the anniversary of last January’s Women’s March, and the movement it sparked in 2017.
The organizers of the movement hope to keep up the momentum from last year with a weekend of events and rallies across the country. Here’s what you need to know about Women’s March and related events this weekend.
Read more at CNN or check out the Women’s March web page for events scheduled around the country.
Politico published a must-read article on Thursday by Jennifer Mendelsohn: How Would Trump’s Immigration Crackdown Have Affected His Own Team?
After President Donald Trump called it a “total disaster, which threatens our security and our economy and provides a gateway for terrorism” at a White House meeting in early January, “chain migration” quickly became the buzzword du jour for anti-immigration voices. But chain migration, a process also known as “family reunification” that allows a legal immigrant to bring his family members to the United States—spouses and minor children when he has a green card, and parents and siblings after he becomes a citizen—is nothing new. In fact, it’s how the families of some of the most prominent anti-immigration voices in Trump’s circle—and the president himself—came to the United States.
These ahistorical warnings about the evils of chain migration are part of a longstanding American tradition described by immigration historian Tyler Anbinder in a 2016 Chicago Sun-Timeseditorial: “From the days of the Puritans to the present, every generation of Americans has believed that the latest wave of immigrants is completely different from—and inferior to—their own immigrant ancestors and could never become true Americans.” From White House adviser Stephen Miller to Fox News commentator Tomi Lahren, many prominent anti-immigration voices advocate for immigration policies like merit-based systems and language-based preferences that would have barred their own families from coming to the United States.
But while our favorite immigration opponents may have forgotten their immigrant roots, lucky for them, I have an Ancestry.com account, and I know how to use it. In a project I call #resistancegenealogy, I’ve traced their family trees and found, not surprisingly, their own family’s stories are markedly similar to those of the immigrants they now would like to prevent from becoming Americans. (Except, of course, that today’s immigrants are less commonly white Europeans.)
Mendelsohn traced the immigrant roots of Dan Scavino of WH social media director Dan Scavino, Iowa Rep. Steve King, campaign spokeswoman Tomi Lahren, and Tucker Carlson, and found that their families had each used so-called “chain migration.” Read all the details at Politico.
I’ll end with three new articles on Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner’s troubles.
The New Yorker: Jared Kushner Is China’s Trump Card.
In early 2017, shortly after Jared Kushner moved into his new office in the West Wing of the White House, he began receiving guests. One visitor who came more than once was Cui Tiankai, the Chinese Ambassador to the United States, a veteran diplomat with a postgraduate degree from Johns Hopkins University. When, during previous Administrations, Cui had visited the White House, his hosts received him with a retinue of China specialists and note-takers. Kushner, President Trump’s thirty-seven-year-old son-in-law and one of his senior advisers, preferred smaller gatherings….
In Kushner, Cui found a confident, attentive, and inexperienced counterpart. The former head of his family’s real-estate empire, which is worth more than a billion dollars, Kushner was intent on bringing a businessman’s sensibility to matters of state. He believed that fresh, confidential relationships could overcome the frustrations of traditional diplomatic bureaucracy. Henry Kissinger, who, in his role as a high-priced international consultant, maintains close relationships in the Chinese hierarchy, had introduced Kushner to Cui during the campaign, and the two met three more times during the transition. In the months after Trump was sworn in, they met more often than Kushner could recall. “Jared became Mr. China,” Michael Pillsbury, a former Pentagon aide on Trump’s transition team, said.
But Cui’s frequent encounters with Kushner made some people in the U.S. government uncomfortable. On at least one occasion, they met alone, which counterintelligence officials considered risky. “There’s nobody else there in the room to verify what was said and what wasn’t, so the Chinese can go back and claim anything,” a former senior U.S. official who was briefed on the meetings said. “I’m sorry, Jared—do you think your background is going to allow you to be able to outsmart the Chinese Ambassador?” Kushner, the official added, “is actually pretty smart. He just has limited life experiences. He was acting with naïveté.”
By now, Americans are accustomed to reports of Russia’s efforts to influence American politics, but, in the intelligence community, China’s influence operations are a source of equal concern. In recent years, the F.B.I. and the C.I.A. have dedicated increased resources to tracking efforts by the Chinese government to spy on or to enlist Western officials in pursuit of their policy goals. (The F.B.I. and the C.I.A. declined to comment on this.) “The Chinese influence operations are more long-term, broader in scope, and are generally designed to achieve a more diffuse goal than the Russians’ are,” Christopher Johnson, a former C.I.A. analyst who specializes in China, said. “To be unkind to the Russians, you’d say they are more crass.”
Read the rest at The New Yorker.
A German business magazine is reporting that Deutsche Bank, the German financial giant which is a major lender to both President Donald Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, identified “suspicious transactions” related to Kushner family accounts, and has reported them to German banking regulators. The bank is reportedly willing to provide the information to special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s team of investigators.
Manager Magazin, a respected German business magazine, reported in its latest print edition, which hit German newsstands on Friday, that Paul Achleitner, chairman of Deutsche Bank’s board, had the bank conduct an internal investigation and the results were troubling. Those results have been turned over to the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority—Germany’s bank regulatory agency, which is commonly known as BaFin.
“Achleitner’s internal detectives were embarrassed to deliver their interim report regarding real estate tycoon [Jared] Kushner to the financial regulator BaFin,” the Manager Magazin article, translated from German, reports. “Their finding: There are indications that Donald Trump’s son-in-law or persons or companies close to him could have channeled suspicious monies through Deutsche Bank as part of their business dealings.”
Read more at Mother Jones.
In a six-floor retail space near Times Square, the Guy Fieri restaurant has closed and construction hasn’t begun on celebrity chef Todd English’s food hall. A tourist attraction featuring a 1/87th scale model of New York City was behind on rent for two months as of December, according to loan documents.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way.
When Kushner Cos. bought the property for $296 million in 2015, then-Chief Executive Officer Jared Kushner had big plans to capitalize on the tens of millions of tourists who visit the area every year. Deutsche Bank AG financed the endeavor before selling most of the debt to investors across Wall Street a year ago. Those investors were shown disclosures describing the retail space as 100 percent occupied and estimating it would throw off $24 million of rent annually.
But Fieri, English and Gulliver’s Gate, the operator of the miniature Manhattan, account for $9.9 million of that rent estimate, which underpinned a market-defying appraisal boost and helped justify $370 million of loans, the disclosures show. Problems with these spaces could make the economics challenging.
Poor Jared. Click the Bloomberg link to read the rest.
What stories are you following today?