“Two months of feuding with congressional Democrats and the longest government shutdown in history has exacted a heavy political toll from President Donald Trump. Top conservatives were furious when he appeared to cave to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after Congress refused to fund his border wall. At the same time, polls show that his wall crusade has turned off the independent voters he’ll need to win reelection.
Yet Trump allies insist the president isn’t as damaged going into the 2020 campaign as Democrats might hope… On Thursday afternoon, Trump announced a two-step maneuver that could appease frustrated supporters. He will grudgingly sign a massive congressional spending bill that includes just $1.4 billion for border security, less than a quarter of his last demand, but he will also declare a national emergency to unlock Pentagon funds he can unilaterally steer to a border wall as well as use money from other projects.
Before the White House announced Trump’s plans, Rep. Mark Meadows… chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus and a Trump confidant, predicted that Trump’s base would forgive him for signing congress’s spending bill if he then took unilateral steps to find more border wall money.
Meadows: “I think there’s very little political liability from conservatives.” … One outside adviser to the White House predicted that Trump’s many fans at Fox News, including Hannity, would wind up defending him… Nor are Trump’s conservative backers prepared to embrace Democrats, or even one of the more moderate Republicans contemplating a GOP primary challenge to Trump. But locking down his conservative base isn’t enough to put Trump in a strong position for reelection in 2020. He still needs to win over at least some independents, and that task might be harder.” (Politico)
WELD. Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld (R) “is launching a presidential exploratory committee to challenge President Trump in the Republican primaries, saying the country is 'in grave peril' and he 'cannot sit quietly on the sidelines any longer.'
"Weld becomes the first Republican to officially announce he is exploring a run against Trump, and sets up a potential match-up in the first-in-the-nation New Hampshire presidential primary and in other states.
“In prepared remarks at the ‘Politics & Eggs’ breakfast in Bedford, N. H., Weld delivered a blistering critique of Trump, saying ‘we have a president whose priorities are skewed toward promotion of himself rather than toward the good of the country.’”
Weld: “To compound matters, our President is simply too unstable to carry out the duties of the highest executive office—which include the specific duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed—in a competent and professional matter… He is simply in the wrong place.” (Boston Herald)
TIPPING THE SCALES. “Despite telling his doctor that he would like to lose 10 to 15 pounds, President Trump gained weight over the past year and is now officially obese.The president was weighed last week as part of his annual physical, and is now at 243 pounds, according to Dr. Sean Conley, the White House physician, a four pound gain since last year’s physical. At 6 feet 3 inches tall, Mr. Trump now has a body mass index of 30.4. Anything over 30 is considered obese."
"Dr. Conley, a Navy commander and the director of the White House medical unit, reported Mr. Trump’s weight without comment in a memorandum describing some results of the physical that was released by the White House. After a team of 11 specialists examined the president for four hours at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Dr. Conley said the president was in 'very good health' and was expected to remain so 'for the remainder of his presidency and beyond,' but did not release any other details."
“Mr. Trump, 72, the oldest president to ever take office, is known for his love of fast food and pride in not exercising, and his weight has been a moving target in recent years." (New York Times)
ARIZONA. The Republican Party of Arizona “has officially named Leslie White as its new Executive Director.” (release)