President Trump “used his first full work day in 2018 to rekindle one of his favorite political pastimes from 2017: throwing haymakers on Twitter.
“The president returned to his full combative form Tuesday after arriving in Washington the day prior from a holiday stay in Mar-a-Lago, taunting news outlets with the prospect of awarding them for their ‘dishonest & corrupt’ coverage, threatening on social media to curb U.S. aid to Palestinians, calling for the jailing of former Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, and publicly competing with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over the size of their nuclear buttons.”
“On Tuesday evening, Trump seemingly cast aside his prior comments expressing optimism about finding a diplomatic solution to the nuclear standoff with North Korea, sending a warning to leader Kim Jong Un that the U.S.’s nuclear button is ‘much bigger & more powerful one than his,’ and that unlike Kim’s, his actually ‘works.’ ‘North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the ‘Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times,’’ the president tweeted. ‘Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!’
“The rhetoric marked a momentary shift for Trump, who earlier Tuesday appeared to entertain the possibility that South Korea would be able to persuade the Kim government to scale back their weapons testing after the North Korean leader appeared to offer up an olive branch of sorts to their neighbor to the south during a national address.” (Politico)
DREAMERS. “Trump escalated tensions with Democratic leaders Tuesday over the fate of young undocumented immigrants known as ‘dreamers,’ claiming the lawmakers are ‘doing nothing’ to protect them from deportation as a key deadline nears, even though last year he ended the Obama-era program that allowed those immigrants to stay in the country.
“But the Twitter salvo masked a murkier reality as lawmakers returned to Washington: Trump remains open to negotiations on a charged issue that has vexed him since his presidential campaign—and his brash partisanship was widely seen as a nod to his base rather than a sudden turn in the talks.
“Inside the White House and the Republican Party, Trump is caught in a thicket of political pressures as he maps out possible requisites for a deal. Many of his supporters are clamoring for a standoff over funding for his promised, gigantic wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, while some aides and GOP officials are reminding him of his pledge last year to ‘show great heart’ toward dreamers—immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children.”
“Trump groused that because Democrats, in his view, were unwilling to work with him on the GOP tax plan that passed last month, he could not expect them to work with him on the dreamers issue, either, and he warned he would be quick to blame them if discussions fell apart, the people said. But Trump also expressed hope that he could find a way to persuade some red-state Democrats to support funding for the wall and would keep prodding them throughout January.” (Washington Post)
Meanwhile, “Congressional leaders will meet with top White House officials on Wednesday to discuss a deal to avert a government shutdown and make headway on an immigration impasse.” (Politico)
WASHINGTON. “Susan Hutchison, the former KIRO TV anchor who has chaired the state party since 2013, announced Tuesday she’ll resign her position effective Feb. 5. She gave no specific reason for her departure apart from declaring it a good time for a transition, with the state GOP organization in a solid financial position.” (Seattle Times)
LAST YEAR’S VOTE. “Not long before a deluge of sexual harassment claims engulfed Capitol Hill, congressional Republicans and … Trump quietly repealed safeguards to protect hundreds of thousands of American workers from such harassment.
“Their target was an August 2016 regulation issued by the Obama Labor Department that required businesses to disclose certain labor violations—including sexual harassment—whenever they bid on large federal contracts.
“The vote last year is especially relevant now that Congress, under immense public pressure, is weighing legislation to outlaw the very same secrecy agreements that it voted to keep legal less than a year ago. … The earlier Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces rule followed a 2014 executive order from former President Barack Obama. It was predicated on the notion that the federal government had an obligation to consider whether a private company had a record of ‘serious, repeated, willful and/or pervasive’ labor violations before awarding it a large contract. Before the rule, such background checks were not required.” (Politico)
CALIFORNIA. “Trump is about to become the first president since Dwight D. Eisenhower 64 years ago to skip a visit to California during his first calendar year in office. And he doesn’t appear to have any plans to take Air Force One to the country’s most populous and economically powerful state before he marks his first full year in office Jan. 20.
“Even past presidents who, like Trump, didn’t win the state’s electoral votes made it a destination, if only for California’s allure as the Golden State of campaign cash. For Trump, it’s ground zero for ‘the resistance.’”
“California has been at the forefront … pushing back against Trump’s policies to vastly scale back federal healthcare subsidies, environmental protections and safety regulations, and to crack down on legal as well as illegal immigration.”
“Of the 29 states Trump has visited since taking office, just eight are west of the Mississippi River. He’s mostly visited friendly red states in the Southeast and the Northern industrial belt that he won, often holding political rallies indistinguishable from his campaign events. Of the 20 states that went to Clinton, Trump has been to eight.” (Los Angeles Times)
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"Former veteran Senate Intelligence Committee staffer James Wolfe pleaded guilty on Monday to one count of making false statements to federal agents." Wolfe was indicted "earlier this year on three counts of making false statements to the FBI, which questioned him about his contacts with reporters ... According to the indictment, in October 2017 Wolfe gave a reporter ... information about an unidentified man who had been served with a subpoena to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee. The reporter published stories about the subpoena and the man's upcoming testimony in a closed committee hearing."
"The federal deficit widened last year amid higher government spending—including rising interest costs on the debt and increased funding for the military—and flat revenues following last year’s tax cut. The government ran a $779 billion deficit in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, the Treasury Department said Monday. That is the largest annual deficit in six years and 17% higher than the $666 billion deficit in fiscal 2017. As a share of gross domestic product, the deficit totaled 3.9%, up from 3.5% a year earlier and the third consecutive increase."
"Saudi Arabia has given Turkey permission to search its Istanbul consulate Monday afternoon, a Turkish diplomatic source told CNN. Saudi officials first granted permission for the consulate to be searched last week, but later asked for a delay and no search has yet taken place. Turkish officials also want to search the nearby consul general's residence, and have repeatedly accused the Saudis of failing to cooperate with their investigation."