French President Slams Trump for Paris Remarks

French President Francois Hollande fired back at Donald Trump after the U.S. president remarked in a speech that a friend thought “Paris is no longer Paris” after attacks by Islamist militants, Reuters reports.

Said Hollande: “There is terrorism and we must fight it together. I think that it is never good to show the smallest defiance toward an allied country. I wouldn’t do it with the United States and I’m urging the U.S. president not to do it with France.”

He then added: “I won’t make comparisons but here, people don’t have access to guns. Here, you don’t have people with guns opening fire on the crowd simply for the satisfaction of causing drama and tragedy.”

Perez Wins Bid to Become DNC Chairman

Former Labor Secretary Tom Perez has defeated Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) to become the next chairman of the Democratic National Committee in a blow to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and the progressive wing of the party, The Hill reports.

“Perez won with 235 votes on the second ballot, with 218 votes needed to reach a majority. He fell just shy in the first ballot, totaling 213.5 votes.”

Politico: “The election closes a tumultuous chapter for the party committee, which was rocked last summer by a Russian hack and publication of internal emails.”

Trump Sees GOP as ‘Party of the American Worker’

Boston Globe: “Attempting to put a defining framework on his tumultuous first month in office, President Trump on Friday articulated a new vision for the Republican Party as a populist defender of the working class that will challenge elites at home and abroad. Trump, speaking to hard-line GOP activists at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, made it clear how much the world has changed for rank-and-file Republicans since his insurgent campaign upended the party. At times, he promoted positions that could have been ripped from the playbook of liberals Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.”

Said Trump: “The GOP will be from now on the party also of the American worker. First, we need to define what this great, great unprecedented movement is and what it actually represents. The core conviction of our movement is that we are a nation that will put its own citizens first.”

Democratic Groups Do Their Own Autopsy

“Unable to get closure on the party’s stunning losses in November, nearly 20 Democratic interest groups, operatives, and state committees have commissioned their own private 2016 election autopsy reports,” Politico reports.

“The projects, which aim to diagnose the party’s ills and pave a path forward, are designed in part to fill the void left by Hillary Clinton’s campaign, which has yet to offer any formal explanation for its defeat. Instead, leaders of her campaign effort have let the candidate’s complaints to donors about Russia and FBI Director Jim Comey’s intervention stand alone, leaving a public silence about the details of her defeat that has spawned tangible frustration among party operatives.”

GOP Senators Seemingly Embrace Russia Probe

“A Senate Intelligence Committee investigation of Russia’s effort to influence last year’s U.S. election is shaping up as an unexpectedly bipartisan effort that could take months to complete as it explores the most significant controversy shadowing the new Trump administration,” Bloomberg reports.

“The investigation, which will involve scouring highly classified material, is still in its early stages, but Republicans are so far joining Democrats on the panel in pledging to conduct it in a serious manner.”

Issa Calls for Special Prosecutor on Russia Ties

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) called for a special prosecutor to oversee the investigation into Trump associates’ contacts with Russia, the San Diego Union Tribune reports.

Said Issa: “You cannot have somebody, a friend of mine Jeff Sessions, who was on the campaign and who is an appointee. You’re going to need to use the special prosecutor’s statute and office to take — not just to recuse. You can’t just give it to your deputy. That’s another political appointee.”

Still No New Travel Ban from the White House

“Just two weeks ago, President Donald Trump was a man in a hurry — itching to move forward with a revised version of his travel ban executive order because, he said, the security of the nation depended on it. But there’s still no sign of it,” Politico reports.

“Several factors are contributing to the delay, including Trump’s stated desire to ‘tailor’ the new order to withstand inevitable legal challenges and an effort to consult in advance with agencies that will have to implement the new policy once it’s issued.”

Grass Roots Activism Masks Intense Democratic Anxiety

“They’re energized by the marches and excited about the crowds showing up at town halls held by Republican lawmakers. But not far below the surface, Democrats are just as anxious, depressed and strung out as they’ve been since the night Donald Trump won the presidential election,” Politico reports.

“Gathered here for the Democratic National Committee winter meeting at which they’ll elect a new chair and other officers on Saturday, state leaders and top operatives can’t go long in the hallways or at the hotel bar without sighing, grimacing, shaking their heads at how bad the situation still is.”

Muhammad Ali Jr. Detained by Immigration Agents

“The son of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali was detained for hours by immigration officials at a Florida airport,” a family friend told the Louisville Courier-Journal.

“Officials held and questioned Ali Jr. for nearly two hours, repeatedly asking him, ‘Where did you get your name from?’ and ‘Are you Muslim?’ When Ali Jr. responded that yes, he is a Muslim, the officers kept questioning him about his religion and where he was born. Ali Jr. was born in Philadelphia in 1972 and holds a U.S. passport.”

Blistering Trump Speech Follows Bannon Blueprint

“Stephen Bannon brought the battle plan. President Trump brought the fight,” the New York Times reports.

“A day after his secretive chief strategist laid out a hard-edged new definition of conservatism animated by attacks on ‘the administrative state,’ globalism and the ‘corporatist media,’ Mr. Trump delivered a visceral gut punch of a speech that executed almost all of the tactics that define the forever-war philosophy of the Trump-Bannon West Wing.”

Bannon “has a hand in nearly every scripted public Trump utterance.”

For members: A Few Thoughts on Stephen Bannon

Top Trump Donors Are Part Owners of Breitbart

Breitbart News CEO Larry Solov acknowledged “that the Mercer family — top Republican donors and key backers of President Trump’s campaign — are part owners of the controversial news site,” USA Today reports.

“The ownership of Breitbart has been a closely guarded secret, and Solov said he was reluctant to disclose it publicly. Breitbart is applying for press credentials through the Senate Daily Press Gallery, and the Standing Committee of Correspondents that serve as the gallery leadership had requested information about the site’s ownership to ensure Breitbart meets the gallery’s requirements for editorial independence.”

GOP Lawmakers Push Bills to Limit Protesting in 18 States

“Since the election of President Trump, Republican lawmakers in at least 18 states have introduced or voted on legislation to curb mass protests in what civil liberties experts are calling ‘an attack on protest rights throughout the states,'” the Washington Post reports.

“Some are introducing bills because they say they’re necessary to counter the actions of ‘paid’ or ‘professional’ protesters who set out to intimidate or disrupt, a common accusation that experts agree is largely overstated... Others, like the sponsors of a bill in Minnesota, say the measures are necessary to protect public safety on highways. Still other bills, in states like Oklahoma and South Dakota, are intended to discourage protesting related to oil pipelines.”

White House Sought Help to Counter Russia Stories

“The Trump administration has enlisted senior members of the intelligence community and Congress in efforts to counter news stories about Trump associates’ ties to Russia, a politically charged issue that has been under investigation by the FBI as well as lawmakers now defending the White House,” the Washington Post reports.

“Acting at the behest of the White House, the officials made calls to news organizations last week in attempts to challenge stories about alleged contacts between members of President Trump’s campaign team and Russian intelligence operatives… The White House insisted the officials speak on the condition of anonymity — a practice President Trump has condemned.”