BULLETIN — “Russia Detains U.S. Citizen in Moscow on Espionage Suspicion,” by Bloomberg’s Olga Tanas: “The investigation department of the FSB, as the domestic security service is widely known, started a criminal case and investigations are underway, Interfax said, citing the FSB.” Bloomberg
SHUTDOWN LATEST … BURGESS EVERETT and GABBY ORR: “Inside the Pence-Schumer showdown”: “For two straight days, Mike Pence and Chuck Schumer traded proposals and sat face-to-face in a breakneck sequence of meetings to prevent — then quickly end — a government shutdown. In reality, though, the back-channel talks never stood a chance.
“The failure by two men with little shared history and no apparent personal chemistry highlighted a critical difference between this showdown and those in the past: For years under President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell each maneuvered his party out of repeated political crises. But under President Donald Trump, who’s made no concerted effort to establish a genuine rapport with congressional Democrats, there’s no such release valve.” POLITICO
THE PRESIDENT VS. JOHN KELLY — @realDonaldTrump at 7:51 a.m.: “An all concrete Wall was NEVER ABANDONED, as has been reported by the media. Some areas will be all concrete but the experts at Border Patrol prefer a Wall that is see through (thereby making it possible to see what is happening on both sides). Makes sense to me!”
… at 8:03 a.m.: “If anybody but Donald Trump did what I did in Syria, which was an ISIS loaded mess when I became President, they would be a national hero. ISIS is mostly gone, we’re slowly sending our troops back home to be with their families, while at the same time fighting ISIS remnants……”
… at 8:12 a.m.: “…I campaigned on getting out of Syria and other places. Now when I start getting out the Fake News Media, or some failed Generals who were unable to do the job before I arrived, like to complain about me & my tactics, which are working. Just doing what I said I was going to do!”
… at 8:19 a.m.: “…..Except the results are FAR BETTER than I ever said they were going to be! I campaigned against the NEVER ENDING WARS, remember!”
— Yesterday afternoon he tweeted: “President and Mrs. Obama built/has a ten foot Wall around their D.C. mansion/compound. I agree, totally necessary for their safety and security. The U.S. needs the same thing, slightly larger version!”
Good Monday morning. Blake Hounshell and Daniel Lippman here, on day 10 of the partial government shutdown. It’s also New Year’s Eve, so please drink responsibly if you do indulge — and there are many, many folks in Washington drinking these days.
Send us your New Year’s resolutions! If they’re especially good or funny or poignant, we just might publish them. Email them to [email protected].
With that, here are “Six Smart Thoughts on the Stupid Shutdown,” from our colleague JOHN BRESNAHAN, POLITICO’s Capitol Hill bureau chief:
1) House GOP hardliners don’t have an end game strategy. The Freedom Caucus types know how to start a fight, but they don’t know how to end one. This feels like the 2013 government shutdown for House GOP hardliners all over again, except this time Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) won’t bail them out. There aren’t many good options here since there’s no clear bailout opportunity, or backroom dealmakers who can talk this out in private.
2) Few Republicans are breaking with Trump. The shutdown won’t end until that happens. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) made some noise on Sunday, but it was just Graham freelancing. Rs are sticking with Trump so far, especially McConnell. Dems are counting on R senators who are up for re-election in 2020 (Cory Gardner, Thom Tillis, Susan Collins) to pressure McConnell to put a stop to this. So far, it hasn’t happened. Congress hasn’t been in session, either, which makes this the strangest shutdown ever. That changes later this week when the press begins to hound rank-and-file lawmakers and leadership to find a solution.
3) Trump’s threat to shut down the border feels like a bluff, according to top GOP and Democratic sources. Even Republicans say that in private. It’s a “nuclear bomb” that will do serious damage to the U.S. economy and shock Wall Street. No one believes Trump will go that far, even though White House aides continue to study the issue.
4) What we have here is a failure to communicate. In this age of hyper-partisanship, all anyone cares about is messaging to their own side. That makes it harder for lawmakers to work across the aisle.
5) Trump and GOP leaders have misjudged how much ‘The Wall’ has become a moral issue for Democrats. The president is counting on pressuring Dems — via the government employee unions — to get the anti-wall activists to back down. But for Dems, rejecting the wall has become a rejection of all that is Trumpism. Stop the wall, the thinking goes, and you stop Trump — even if he is still president.
6) Trump will actually have to lead us out of this morass. Dems don’t trust him; Republicans don’t totally trust him either. He will have to put an offer directly to Pelosi and Schumer — then back it up publicly — for anyone to even start negotiating. Nobody else can do it — not Mike Pence, not Mick Mulvaney, not Jared Kushner. It has to be Trump.
YIKES — “Videos: Migrant children dragged, pushed at Southwest Key shelter,” by Arizona Republic’s Mary Jo Pitzl: “Videos from a Southwest Key shelter for migrant children show staffers dragging and pushing children, incidents that occurred shortly before the federal government suspended the shelter’s operations early this fall.” AZ Republic
WHAT JOHN KELLY REALLY THINKS — NYT’s MAGGIE HABERMAN: “Mr. Kelly is leaving after a 17-month tenure that he described to the paper as a ‘bone-crushing hard job.’ Mr. Kelly was known to tell aides that he had the ‘worst job in the world,’ and frequently told people that Mr. Trump was not up to role of president, two former administration officials said.” NYT
2020 WATCH — “Bernie alumni seek meeting to address ‘sexual violence’ on ‘16 campaign,” by Alex Thompson: “More than two dozen women and men who worked on Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign are seeking a meeting with the senator and his top political advisers to ‘discuss the issue of sexual violence and harassment on the 2016 campaign, for the purpose of planning to mitigate the issue in the upcoming presidential cycle,’ according to a copy of letter obtained by POLITICO.” With the letter. POLITICO
LINDSEY’S LUNCH — “Lindsey Graham Suggests Syrian Troop Drawdown Will Take Longer Than 30 Days,” by NYT’s Maggie Haberman: “Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a vocal Republican critic of President Trump’s plan for a 30-day troop withdrawal of American troops from Syria, suggested on Sunday that the pullout had been slowed and that he felt ‘a lot better’ about it after a lunch with the president. ‘I think we’re in a pause situation where we are re-evaluating what’s the best way to achieve the president’s objective of having people pay more and do more,’ Mr. Graham said.” NYT
— Full video of Graham’s remarks after lunch with the president on Sunday: 13-min. video, via C-SPAN
WHAT FORT MEADE IS READING — “Suspect’s Twitter messages played role in NSA hacking-tools leak probe,” by Josh Gerstein: “Hours before a 2016 leak of some of the National Security Agency’s most closely guarded hacking tools, a former NSA contractor sent a cryptic Twitter message that prompted alarm on the part of federal investigators, a federal judge has revealed. … ‘In these messages, @HAL_999999999 asked for a meeting with the [redacted] and stated “shelf life, three weeks,”’ [Judge Richard] Bennett wrote, describing the government’s assertions in court filings still under seal.” POLITICO
BUT ARE RETWEETS ENDORSEMENTS? — “Trump’s tweets: Judges in government secrecy cases say they are ‘speculation’ and not ‘pure fact,’” by USA Today’s Bart Jansen: “‘Speculation.’ ‘Unofficial information.’ ‘Political statements rather than assertions of pure fact.’ Those are words federal judges have used to describe President Donald Trump’s tweets while guarding the secrecy of ongoing investigations that have shadowed his presidency. And in an unusual twist, these rulings mark victories for Trump’s own Justice Department, which has argued repeatedly that the president’s comments on the probes are not always to be taken literally, or to be trusted.” USA Today
OBAMACARE ISN’T GOING AWAY YET — A federal judge on Sunday said that the Affordable Care Act can stand while Democratic-led states appeal his Dec. 14 decision that the entire law is unconstitutional. POLITICO … PDF of the judge’s order
— Watch the calendar: Depending on potential appeals, this case could be in front of the Supreme Court in 2020 — injecting Obamacare’s fate into a presidential election year. (h/t Dan Diamond)
HAPPENING TONIGHT — ABC NEWS’ ELIZABETH MCLAUGHLIN (@Elizabeth_McLau): “THREAD: How do Mattis and Shanahan transfer #SecDef authority? Late on Monday, the Office of the Secretary of Defense communications team will bring Mattis & Shanahan into a phone call, which will be complete by 11:59 p.m. They don’t have to be in the Pentagon for the call. … The phone call follows an approved script (which DOD can’t release). Once the call is complete, DOD will notify the White House that Shanahan has assumed authority as Acting Secretary of Defense. …
“The purpose of the call is to ensure all members within government know who is in command. It’s also a courtesy and a mark of respect for the incoming #SecDef. And that’s how, on Jan. 1, @DepSecDef will walk into work as Acting #SecDef! Info courtesy of U.S. defense official.”
COOL THING by POLITICO’s interactives team — “Trump’s Twitter Year of Outrage and Bragadoccio”: “Like a window into the presidential soul, Trump’s feed illuminated his obsessions, his mood and, often, his television viewing habits.
“POLITICO examined all of this year’s @realdonaldtrump output — excluding retweets — and categorized each post into two general categories: promoting or attacking. Fifty-two percent of his tweets promoted himself or his administration, we found, while 32 percent attacked his adversaries.” POLITICO
— RELATED: “The Day Trump Never Stopped Tweeting”: “In late August, the president reached his peak performance of 2018,” by Derek Robertson. POLITICO Magazine
FOR YOUR RADAR — “Investigation: Fighters siphon off food as Yemenis starve,” by AP’s Maggie Michael: “Documents reviewed by The Associated Press and interviews with … officials and aid workers show that thousands of families in Taiz are not getting international food aid intended for them — often because it has been seized by armed units that are allied with the Saudi-led, American-backed military coalition fighting in Yemen. … Across Yemen, factions and militias on all sides of the conflict have blocked food aid from going to groups suspected of disloyalty, diverted it to front-line combat units or sold it for profit on the black market.” AP
BREXIT UPDATE — Per London Playbook: “Nearly 200,000 U.K. citizens applied for an Irish passport in the past year, up more than a fifth on 2017, according to Ireland’s department of foreign affairs. Can’t think why.”
M.I.A. — “Facebook Data Scandals Stoke Criticism That a Privacy Watchdog Too Rarely Bites,” by NYT’s Nick Confessore and Cecilia Kang: “Almost alone among industrialized nations, the United States has no basic consumer privacy law. … In more than 40 interviews, former and current F.T.C. officials, lawmakers, Capitol Hill staff members, and consumer advocates said that as evidence of abuses has piled up against tech companies, the F.T.C. has been too cautious. Now, as the Trump administration and Congress debate whether to expand the agency and its authority over privacy violations, the Facebook inquiry looms as a referendum on the F.T.C.’s future.” NYT
CLICKER — NPR and WILL SHORTZ: “Sunday Puzzle: New Names In The News 2018”
VALLEY TALK — “Amazon Plans to Add Whole Foods Stores,” by WSJ’s Heather Haddon and Laura Stevens: “Amazon.com Inc. is planning to build and expand Whole Foods stores across the U.S. … to put more customers within range of the e-commerce giant’s two-hour delivery service. … Whole Foods employees have visited potential retail spaces in parts of Idaho, southern Utah and Wyoming, where the grocer doesn’t have stores now.” WSJ
TOP-ED — “If we ease pressure on the Islamic State, we could be attacked again,” by Michael Morell (former acting CIA director) and Mike Vickers (former Pentagon intel chief).WaPo
SO, A HOLE IN ONE? — “Man, upset with slow play, stabs fellow golfer” Golf Digest (h/t Dusty Geibel)
BONUS GREAT HOLIDAY WEEKEND READS, curated by Daniel Lippman, filing from Los Angeles:
— “As U.S. soldiers battle landlord, confidential records shine light on his lucrative business,” by Reuters’ Joshua Schneyer and Andrea Januta: “Developer John Picerne’s company stands to earn $1 billion in fees on long-term contracts to house Army families. The rare insight into the finances of military housing operators comes as tenants are clamoring for repairs to flawed homes.” Reuters
— “I Was A Cable Guy. I Saw The Worst Of America,” by Lauren Hough in HuffPost: “For 10 years, I worked as a cable tech in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C. Those 10 years, the apartments, the McMansions, the customers, the bugs and snakes, the telephone poles, the traffic, the cold and heat and rain, have blurred together in my mind.” HuffPost
— “American Dreams in a Chinese Takeout,” by Katie Salisbury in The Ringer: “The grueling nature of Chinese restaurant work in the U.S. has been well-documented, but the immigrants living that life understand the trade-offs they’ve made. They see America as a place they might build a life for themselves. The question is how to go about building that life.” The Ringer (h/t Longform.org)
— “Here’s How A Colorado Dentist Became Big Sugar’s Worst Nightmare,” by BuzzFeed’s Stephanie Lee: “For decades, companies worked to cast doubt on whether sugar harms — until Cristin Kearns started digging up the dirt.” BuzzFeed
— “The Rise and Fall of Carlos Ghosn,” by NYT’s Amy Chozick and Motoko Rich: “Mr. Ghosn, the ousted Nissan executive, wasn’t supposed to succeed in Japan, but he never expected to fail like this. He faces charges of financial wrongdoing at the company he helped save.” NYT
WELCOME TO THE WORLD — OBAMA ALUMNI: Mike Czin, VP at SKDKnickerbocker and a DNC and Obama 2012 alum, and Ashley Czin, a senior director at PhRMA, on Christmas Eve welcomed Callum Benjamin Czin, who came in at six pounds 11 ounces. Pic… Another pic
FUN FACT — @MikeDuHaime of Christie-world: “I drove a zamboni as a college job. It was, perhaps, the best job ever, and it was also a great conversation-starter for my first round of interviews post-college.”
REMEMBERING DESMOND BOYLAN — AP’S MICHAEL WEISSENSTEIN: “Desmond Boylan, a photographer who covered war and conflict across the world before dedicating his life to documenting the daily joys and tribulations of life in Cuba for The Associated Press, died suddenly while on assignment on Saturday afternoon in Havana. He was 54. … Born in Ireland in 1964, Boylan moved to Spain as a child and began working as a photographer for The Associated Press in Spain in 1989. He went on to become a photographer for Reuters, where he covered conflicts during the end of apartheid in South Africa; the U.S. invasion of Iraq; and war in the former Yugoslavia.” With 19 pics of his best work in Cuba. AP
BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Mark Ein, founder and CEO of Capitol Investment Corp and Venturehouse Group, is 54. A fun fact about Mark: “I am probably the oldest person to ever have a professional tennis ranking. I played a lot of tennis in my youth, but never at close to a pro level. I made my pro tennis debut at age 45 and played 6 ATP doubles events over the next 5 years in places like Salinas (Ecuador), Cancun (Mexico), Lexington (Kentucky) and Calabasas (California). After winning a match, I reached a career high world doubles ranking of 1098 at age 46!” Playbook Plus Q&A
BIRTHDAYS: Donald Trump Jr. is 41. He’s celebrating at Mar-a-Lago (hat tip: Andy Surabian) … Josh Rogin, WaPo columnist and CNN analyst … David Wilezol, chief speechwriter for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (h/t Heather Nauert) … Pete Souza, who has more than 2 million followers on Instagram, is 64 … Sir Alex Ferguson, CBE, is 77 (h/ts Ben Chang) … Brian Danza, COO of Daily Caller, is 38 (h/ts Blain Rethmeier, Tim Burger and Rob Saliterman) … WaPo’s Joel Achenbach is 58 … Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) is 56 … Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) is 81 … former Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) is 47 … WSJ’s Naftali Bendavid … Dick Short … Karina Cabrera Bell … Peter G. Miller … Diane von Furstenberg is 72 … Betsy Barrett (h/t Adrienne Elrod) … John Davis … Henry Hunter (h/ts Jon Haber) … Bloomberg’s Simon Kennedy … Sen.-elect Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) is 39 … Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud is 83 …
… Ronnie Cho is 37 … POLITICO Europe’s Jillian Deutsch … Robyn Bryan, press secretary for Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) (h/t Mitchell Rivard) … Wayne Pines, president of APCO’s health care practice … Nathan Martin is 32 … Jim Long is 54 … Travis Wolfe … Nati Nieuwstraten … WaPo alum Martin J. Kady is 73 … Wade Atkinson … Axios’ Shannon Vavra … Shelby Hodgkins … Danny Shea, head of global expansion at Thrive Global … Reuben Johnson is 3-0 … Meeghan Prunty … former Obama WH photographer Lawrence Jackson … Becca Brukman … Bill Bagley … Jeff Milstein … Jackson Fauvre … Marni Karlin … UChicago’s Darren Reisberg … Andy Sere … Bob Dietz … Lisa Lindo … John Francis Kucera is 59 … Meg Boland … Chris Donesa is 52 … Becca Ferguson (h/t Teresa Vilmain)
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