With real estate mogul Donald Trump (R) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) “battling for the Republican nomination, two powerful factions of their party are now clashing over the question: Which man is more dangerous? Conservative intellectuals have become convinced that … Trump … poses a dire threat to conservatism. … However, the cadre of Republican lobbyists, operatives and elected officials based in Washington is much more unnerved by … Cruz, a go-it-alone, hard-right crusader who campaigns against the political establishment and could curtail their influence and access, building his own Republican machine to essentially replace them.” (New York Times)
“In private, some veteran conservative Republicans have been reaching out to Trump. And Trump himself called … Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell … for a talk late last year. … Perhaps most notably, parts of the establishment are starting to think Trump can win.” (Washington Post)
DEBATE CLUB. “The last Republican debate before the … Iowa caucuses will again feature a prime-time debate for the leading candidates and an undercard forum for the long-shots. In criteria announced by Fox News … on Thursday, the Republican debate in Des Moines on Jan. 28 will also use national, Iowa and New Hampshire polls to determine which candidates are invited to participate. … GOP candidates who poll in either the top six nationally or the top five in Iowa or New Hampshire will be eligible for the prime-time debate. … The network will look at an average of the five most recent national, Iowa and New Hampshire polls when making its determination.” (USA Today)
GAME CHANGER! Former New York Gov. George Pataki (R) could make an endorsement in the GOP race on Jan. 29 in New Hampshire. (Wall Street Journal)
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North Korea has expressed its commitment to 'complete denuclearisation' of the Korean peninsula and is not seeking conditions, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Thursday. ... South Korea announced on Wednesday that it is considering how to change a decades-old armistice with North Korea into a peace agreement as it prepares for the North-South summit this month." The leaders of the respective countries are also expected to connect a phone line so they can communicate directly.
"California reached an agreement with the federal government that the state’s National Guard troops will deploy to the border to focus on fighting transnational gangs as well as drug and gun smugglers, Gov. Jerry Brown said. ... Brown said Wednesday he secured federal funding for terms similar to those outlined in last week’s proposed contract: The Guard cannot handle custody duties for anyone accused of immigration violations, build border barriers or have anything to do with immigration enforcement."
President Trump's personal attorney Michael Cohen has dropped two libel suits against Buzzfeed News and private investigation firm Fusion GPS. Buzzfeed published the "so-called dossier" compiled by employees at Fusion GPS, which alleged "that Cohen met with Russian operatives" in order to "clean up the mess created by public disclosures of other Trump associates’ reported ties to Russia." Cohen's attorney said his client was dropping the suit to focus on the legal battle over "documents and electronic files seized from [Cohen's] home, office and hotel room" during an FBI raid last week.