Quote of the Day

“An American president who cannot take criticism — who must constantly deflect and distort and distract — who must find someone else to blame — is charting a very dangerous path. And a Congress that fails to act as a check on the President adds to the danger.”

— Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), in a speech on the Senate floor.

Doctor Says Trump Has Heart Disease

CNN’s chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta said that he believes tests reveal that President Trump has heart disease, The Hill reports.

Gupta said dating back to 2009, President Trump started to have “these tests that are actually looking for the presence of calcium in the blood vessels that lead to the heart.”

Said Gupta: “It was interesting when I spoke to Dr. Jackson at first, he said, he passed all the tests with flying colors. When I asked him specifically about that test, did he then concede that, in fact, the president does have heart disease. They’re going to be increasing the medications, including the cholesterol-lowering medications to try and combat that, but there’s no question, by all standards, by all metrics, anyway a doctor or cardiologist will look at it, the president does have heart disease.”

Porn Star Describes Her Affair with Trump

Porn star Stormy Daniels tells In Touch that she had sex with Donald Trump in his Lake Tahoe, NV, hotel suite in 2006 — a story that was corroborated by her good friend Randy Spears and supported by her ex-husband. She also took a polygraph test.

Said Daniels: “The sex was textbook generic. I actually don’t even know why I did it, but I do remember while we were having sex, I was like, ‘Please, don’t try to pay me.’”

After having sex, Daniels said: “We hung out for a little while and he just kept saying, ‘I’m gonna call you, I’m gonna call you. I have to see you again. You’re amazing. We have to get you on The Apprentice.’”

Daily Beast: “According to a source familiar with the matter, later this week, InTouch is planning to run the entire unedited interview it conducted with Daniels. All 5,500 words of it.”

Is Trump Counting on a Terrorist Attack?

Washington Post: “In private conversations, Trump has told advisers that he doesn’t think the 2018 election has to be as bad as others are predicting. He has referenced the 2002 midterms, when George W. Bush and Republicans fared better after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, these people said.”

Matthew Yglesias: “I’m pretty skeptical that the political dynamics of September 2001 would be replicated today. But regardless, this is a frightening line of thought for an incumbent president and his team to be entertaining.”

Trump Has Lost All Credibility on Capitol Hill

Politico: “On the cusp of a deal for the second time with Democrats to enshrine protections for 700,000 young undocumented immigrants, Trump once again destroyed the underpinnings of the potential agreement… So now, instead of securing a bipartisan deal to fund the government and help a large group of immigrants that Trump said deserve compassion, the president and Republican Congress are scrambling, yet again, just to keep the government open.”

“It demonstrates once again to Democrats — and Republicans — that Trump is an unpredictable, unreliable partner who cannot be trusted to keep his word. To lawmakers on Capitol Hill, there may be no greater crime, since all members and senators know their word is their bond. Once you lose that credibility, you’re done as a deal-maker.”

Online Interest In Trump Has Plummeted

Brookings: “Public interest in Trump has plummeted over the course of 2017. After peaking during inauguration week, searches for him have dropped to 20 percent of the initial level as the public has soured on the chief executive.”

“Impeachment interest has surged during Trump’s first year. In May and November, there were major spikes in public interest in that topic as Trump fired FBI Director James Comey in May and saw leading advisers face federal indictment in November.”

New Russian Payments Are a Focus of Investigation

“Officials investigating the Kremlin’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election are scrutinizing newly uncovered financial transactions between the Russian government and people or businesses inside the United States.”

“Records exclusively reviewed by BuzzFeed News also show years of Russian financial activity within the U.S. that bankers and federal law enforcement officials deemed suspicious, raising concerns about how the Kremlin’s diplomats operated here long before the 2016 election.”

“Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, charged with investigating Russian election interference and possible collusion by the Trump campaign, is examining these transactions and others by Russian diplomatic personnel.”

Pawlenty Passes on Senate Run In Minnesota

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) told Fox Business that he will not run for the Senate this year in Minnesota.

Said Pawlenty: “I am very interested in public service and service for the common good, there are a lot of different ways to do that, but I’ll tell you today that running for the United States Senate in 2018 won’t be part of those plans.”

Politico: “Republican leaders have failed to secure their top-choice candidate in eight of the 10 Senate races in states that Trump won in 2016.”

U.S. Democracy Experienced Biggest Drop In 40 Years

A new Freedom House report finds “democracy is in retreat around the world” for the 12th year in a row.

Most striking: “The United States retreated from its traditional role as both a champion and an exemplar of democracy amid an accelerating decline in American political rights and civil liberties… The United States experienced its sharpest one-year drop since we began doing the survey more than 40 years ago.”