President Trump “went to Ohio on Monday to promote Republicans’ once-in-a-generation rewrite of the tax code, but he used his meandering 47-minute speech there to air his ever-growing list of grievances.
“In between testimonials from Ohioans about the benefits of the tax reform law, Trump went way off script, unleashing a series of complaints about Democrats’ chilly reaction to his recent State of the Union speech (‘Can we call that treason? Why not?’), Hillary Clinton’s use of the term ‘deplorable’ to describe his supporters in 2016 (‘It was not a good day for her’), and his contention that U.S. officials within his own government are working against him (‘We caught ‘em!’).
“Throughout Monday’s remarks, Trump returned to an issue that aides say is almost always on his mind: the upcoming midterms.
“‘We got to do well in ‘18, and I know we’re going to do great in ‘20,’ Trump said in the speech at Sheffer Corp. in Blue Ash, a suburb north of Cincinnati. ‘But I think we’re going to do well in ‘18. I think we’re going to do very well. They have gone left. They want to raise your taxes.’”
“His performance in Ohio on Monday quickly prompted eye rolling from some Republicans, who said the president made the speech more about himself than the tax law. … The speech also underscored the potential pitfalls of relying on an economic message heading into the midterms. As Trump was speaking, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was tanking, with CNN and other networks cutting away from his live remarks to cover the tanking stock market.” (Politico)
DOW CONTEXT. On TV screens, “a graphic showed the Dow Jones industrial average seemingly in free fall—down 500 points, down 600, down 800, down 1,000.
“By the time a bullish Mr. Trump was done speaking … the bearish market had plunged by nearly 1,600 points before recovering somewhat to close 1,175 points down.
“No president in modern times has connected his political fortunes to the stock market as much as Mr. Trump, who relentlessly cited its meteoric rise as a sign of his success at restoring confidence in the American economy. But the drastic sell-off on Friday and Monday demonstrated why most presidents scrupulously avoid talking about short-term gyrations in share prices: If you live by the Dow, you may die by the Dow.” (New York Times)
MAR-A-LAGO FUNDRAISER. “Trump will swing by Palm Beach March 3 for a fundraiser benefiting his 2020 re-election campaign. … The fundraiser is set to be held at Mar-a-Lago. … Attending alongside the president are Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel and RNC finance chair Todd Ricketts, who last week succeeded disgraced former finance chair Steve Wynn.” (Florida Politics)
STEELE DOSSIER. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) “released a copy of their request for a criminal probe of Christopher Steele, the author of a controversial dossier on … Trump’s ties to Russia, which alleges that he received information from an ally of Hillary Clinton while the Democrat’s campaign was financing his work.”
“The referral document released Monday regarding Steele cites a second, unpublished research document prepared by Steele, based on material given to him by a source who received it from ‘a friend of the Clintons.’” (Politico)
SHUTDOWN. “If Congress doesn’t act this week, the federal government will shut down for the second time this year.
“Lawmakers are up against two key deadlines that were put in place as part of the negotiations to reopen the government last month, creating a short window to show substantial signs of progress on a deal to protect undocumented immigrants who came to this country as children and their families.”
“The first deadline is Thursday, when government funding runs out. The second is to reach a long-stalled deal on immigration before Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell opens a promised freewheeling floor debate to try to settle the contentious issue.
“Congressional leader from both parties have said they don’t foresee a second shutdown, but as of Sunday evening, it’s not clear if congressional leaders have the votes to pass such a measure through both the Senate and the House.” (CNN)
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President Trump said that "unless the miracle of all miracles happens," that missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is dead. Trump "expressed confidence in intelligence reports from multiple sources that strongly suggest a high-level Saudi role in Mr. Khashoggi’s assassination. [He] stopped short of saying the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, was responsible for Mr. Khashoggi’s death."
"The U.S. Justice Department has opened an investigation of child sexual abuse inside the Roman Catholic Church in Pennsylvania, using subpoenas to demand confidential files and testimony from church leaders, according to two people familiar with the probe. The subpoenas, served last week, follow a scathing state grand jury report over the summer that found that 301 'predator priests' in Pennsylvania had molested more than 1,000 children over seven decades and that church leaders had covered up for the offenders."