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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"A stopgap spending bill stalled in the Senate Friday night, leading to a government shutdown for the first time since 2013. The continuing resolution funding agencies expired at midnight, and lawmakers were unable to spell out any path forward to keep government open. The Senate on Friday night failed to reach cloture on a four-week spending bill the House had already approved."
"The FBI is investigating whether a top Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump win the presidency." Investigators have focused on Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank "who is known for his close relationships with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and the NRA." The solicitation or use of foreign funds is illegal in U.S. elections under the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) by either lobbying groups or political campaigns. The NRA reported spending a record $55 million on the 2016 elections.
"Hundreds of new and supplemental FARA filings by U.S. lobbyists and public relations firms" have been submitted "since Special Counsel Mueller charged two Trump aides with failing to disclose their lobbying work on behalf of foreign countries. The number of first-time filings ... rose 50 percent to 102 between 2016 and 2017, an NBC News analysis found. The number of supplemental filings, which include details about campaign donations, meetings and phone calls more than doubled from 618 to 1,244 last year as lobbyists scrambled to avoid the same fate as some of Trump's associates and their business partners."