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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"Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman on the Supreme Court has stepped back from public life. ...She last made public appearances over two years ago. This summer she turned over an office she had kept at the Supreme Court to the court’s most recently retired justice, Anthony Kennedy. Her son Jay O’Connor said in a telephone interview that his mother began to have challenges with her short-term memory. That made some public events more difficult. He says she now stays close to her Phoenix home."
"The Department of Health and Human Services is spearheading an effort to establish a legal definition of sex under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that bans gender discrimination in education programs that receive government financial assistance, according to a memo obtained by The New York Times. The department argued in its memo that key government agencies needed to adopt an explicit and uniform definition of gender as determined 'on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable.' The agency’s proposed definition would define sex as either male or female, unchangeable, and determined by the genitals that a person is born with."
"Saudi Arabia said Saturday that Jamal Khashoggi, the dissident Saudi journalist who disappeared more than two weeks ago, had died after an argument and fistfight with unidentified men inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Eighteen men have been arrested and are being investigated in the case, Saudi state-run media reported without identifying any of them. State media also reported that Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri, the deputy director of Saudi intelligence, and other high-ranking intelligence officials had been dismissed."
"Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is scrutinizing how a collection of activists and pundits intersected with WikiLeaks, the website that U.S. officials say was the primary conduit for publishing materials stolen by Russia, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Mueller’s team has recently questioned witnesses about the activities of longtime Trump confidante Roger Stone, including his contacts with WikiLeaks, and has obtained telephone records, according to the people familiar with the matter."