President Donald Trump “averaged 41% job approval during his first quarter as president, 14 percentage points lower than any other president in Gallup’s polling history. Bill Clinton had the previous low mark of 55%. The average first-quarter rating among post-World War II presidents elected to their first term is 61%, with John Kennedy’s 74% the highest.” (release)
100 DAY MARK LOOMS. The Trump White House is looking to avoid a government shutdown right around the 100 day mark of his presidency. “The White House, under internal pressure to show legislative achievements ahead of the 100-day mark, is gearing up for a government shutdown fight to secure money for a border wall, more immigration enforcement officers and a bigger military. … Officials could also strike a one-week compromise, giving them more time for a broader agreement.” (Politico)
Trump is also “pushing Congress toward another dramatic showdown over the Affordable Care Act, despite big outstanding obstacles to a beleaguered revision plan and a high-stakes deadline next week to keep the government running. …The effort reflects Trump’s sense of urgency to score a victory on Obamacare replacement and move on to other legislative objectives, notably tax restructuring. Passing an Affordable Care Act revision would also allow the president to show progress toward a major campaign promise as he completes his first 100 days in office.” (Washington Post)
RUSSIA INVESTIGATION. Mary McCord, the “woman leading the Justice Department’s investigation of foreign meddling into the 2016 election and possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia has told staff members she will leave the department in May.” (NPR)
“US authorities have prepared charges to seek the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange…The Justice Department investigation of Assange and WikiLeaks dates to at least 2010, when the site first gained wide attention for posting thousands of files stolen by the former US Army intelligence analyst now known as Chelsea Manning. …US intelligence agencies have also determined that Russian intelligence used WikiLeaks to publish emails aimed at undermining the campaign of Hillary Clinton, as part of a broader operation to meddle in the US 2016 presidential election.” (CNN)
TRUMP FAMILY BUSINESS. Out of ethics concerns, Ivanka Trump won’t promote her new book and will donate all proceeds to charity. (The Hill)
“China is defending its handling of trademark applications from … Ivanka and her company, saying that all such requests are handled fairly.” (Los Angeles Times)
FRENCH ELECTION. “Trump weighed in on French politics on Friday, asserting on Twitter that ‘another terrorist attack’ in Paris would ‘have a big effect on the presidential election!’” The tweet was “referring to a deadly shootout on the Champs-Elysees, Paris’s most famous avenue, on Thursday night that claimed the life of a police officer.”
Marine Le Pen, “one of the leading candidates in the race, has echoed many of Trump’s campaign themes, including dire warnings that her country is losing its identity,” but Trump didn’t advocate for her by name. (Washington Post)
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"A former C.I.A. officer suspected of helping China identify the agency’s informants in that country has been arrested, the Justice Department said on Tuesday. Many of the informants were killed in a systematic dismantling of the C.I.A.’s spy network in China starting in 2010 that was one of the American government’s worst intelligence failures in recent years, several former intelligence officials have said. The arrest of the former agent, Jerry Chun Shing Lee, 53, capped an intense F.B.I. investigation that began around 2012 after the C.I.A. began losing its informants in China."
"Three-quarters of the members of a federally chartered board advising the National Park Service abruptly quit Monday night out of frustration that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke had refused to meet with them or convene a single meeting last year. The resignation of nine out of 12 National Park System Advisory Board members leaves the federal government without a functioning body to designate national historic or natural landmarks. It also underscores the extent to which federal advisory bodies have become marginalized under the Trump administration."
"House GOP leaders on Tuesday night pitched a new strategy to avert a looming government shutdown that includes children's health funding and the delay of ObamaCare taxes. Lawmakers need to pass a short-term stopgap bill by midnight Friday, when money for the federal government runs out. The latest GOP plan would keep the government’s lights on through Feb. 16, and be coupled with a six-year extension of funding for the popular Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The continuing resolution or CR would also delay ObamaCare's medical device and Cadillac taxes for two years, and the health insurance tax for one year starting in 2019."
"A key Senate negotiator and White House official on Tuesday expressed little hope for an immigration deal this week but nonetheless predicted that Congress can avoid a government shutdown." Marc Short, the White House Capitol Hill liaison, said he's optimistic about a deal on DACA overall, but not this week. Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn also said he doubts an agreement can be made before week's end.
"Homeland Security Kristjen Nielsen confirmed that President Trump used 'tough language' in an Oval Office meeting last week over immigration policy, but she said she did not hear him describe some African countries and Haiti as 'shithole countries,' as has been reported." When pressed she, also said she "didn't know" whether Norway was a predominately white country.