Shutdown Could Hurt Democrats In Trump States

Washington Post: “As the blame game launched following the shutdown of the U.S. government at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, it quickly and ferociously began playing out on perhaps the most contentious battlefield of the 2018 midterms: the Senate races where Democrats are seeking reelection in states that Trump won.”

“Six such Democrats voted against the spending bill in the Senate late Friday. But the vote divided the party, with five Senate Democrats, all from Trump states, voting to avoid a government shutdown — and setting up a fight over what Republicans have tried to brand “the Schumer Shutdown,” after Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY).”

McConnell and Schumer Hit Rock Bottom

“Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer were supposed to bring a new, more productive relationship to the Senate after years of bitterness and dysfunction at the helm of the chamber,” Politico reports.

“Instead, it’s been a year of slights and one-upmanship between the two men. While there may not be the level of vitriol that marked McConnell’s dealings with former Democratic leader Harry Reid, a new era of bipartisan comity this is not.”

Why Democrats Keep Winning Special Elections

Reid Wilson: “Pollsters routinely measure how enthusiastic voters are about upcoming elections. This year, those surveys have found a gap between an energized Democratic base and a comparatively demoralized Republican electorate.”

“The dozens of special elections that have occurred since Trump took office indicate the enthusiasm gap is real: Compared with prior elections, Democratic voters have shown up at higher rates in ordinarily low-turnout special elections than Republicans have.”

“In the last year, states have conducted 98 special elections for legislative seats, ranging from a U.S. Senate seat in Alabama to state House races in New Hampshire. Democrats have flipped 16 of those seats… Republicans have won only three formerly Democratic-held seats, in Louisiana, Mississippi and Massachusetts.”

Flashback Quote of the Day

“Well, very simply, you have to get everybody in a room. You have to be a leader. The president has to lead. He’s got to get the Speaker of the House and everybody else in a room, and they have to make a deal. You have to be nice, and be angry, and be wild, and cajole, and do all sorts of things. But you have to get a deal.”

— Donald Trump, on Fox News during the government shutdown in 2013.

Trump Takes Even Harder Line on Immigration

The Trump campaign released a new campaign ad calling Democratic lawmakers “complicit” in all murders committed by undocumented immigrants.

TPM:”The spot seems unlikely to ease tensions on Capitol Hill as the Senate tries to negotiate a compromise on the fate of the 700,000 immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally as children in order to reopen the shuttered federal government.”

Both Sides Dig In Over Shutdown

“Republicans and Democrats spent the first hours of the government shutdown Saturday taking partisan shots and moving no closer to resolving the funding crisis,” Politico reports.

“Republicans accused Democrats of prioritizing “illegal immigrants” over American citizens by insisting that protections for young immigrants facing deportation be included in any spending deal… Democrats countered that the situation is a product of President Donald Trump’s constantly shifting positions and embrace of the most hard-line stance on immigration.”

Washington Post: “Sensing the upper hand, top House Republicans have ruled out negotiating on a major Democratic priority — immigration policy — until the shutdown ends.”

Members of Russia’s Elite Attended Trump Inauguration

Washington Post: “The attendance of members of Russia’s elite at Trump’s inauguration was evidence of the high anticipation in Moscow of a thaw in U.S.-Russia relations, following a campaign in which Trump stunned U.S. foreign policy experts by repeatedly praising Russian President Vladi­mir Putin.”

“As questions about Russia’s interference in the 2016 election were beginning to percolate publicly, prominent business leaders and activists from that country attended inaugural festivities, mingling at balls and receptions — at times in proximity to key American political officials.”

“Their presence caught the attention of counterintelligence officials at the FBI.”

Bonus Quote of the Day

“Negotiating with President Trump is like negotiating with jello. It’s next to impossible. As soon as you take one step forward the hard right forces the president three steps back… It’s next to impossible to strike a deal with the president because he can’t stick to the terms.”

— Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), quoted by The Hill, on President Trump’s efforts to prevent a government shutdown.

Greitens Says He Won’t Resign

In his first interview since acknowledging an extramarital affair, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R) told the Associated Press that there was “no blackmail” and “no threat of violence” by him in what he described as a months-long “consensual relationship” with his former hairdresser.

Greitens added that he has no plans to resign from office as a result of the affair: “I’m staying. I’m staying.”

“Grietens did not directly say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ when asked if he had bound and blindfolded and taken a photo of the woman. But he firmly denied that he had attempted to coerce the woman.”

GOP Lawmaker Settled His Own Harassment Case

Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-PA), “who has taken a leading role in fighting sexual harassment in Congress, used thousands of dollars in taxpayer money to settle his own misconduct complaint after a former aide accused him last year of making unwanted romantic overtures to her,” the New York Times reports.

“A married father of three, Mr. Meehan, 62, had long expressed interest in the personal life of the aide, who was decades younger and had regarded the congressman as a father figure… But after the woman became involved in a serious relationship with someone outside the office last year, Mr. Meehan professed his romantic desires for her — first in person, and then in a handwritten letter — and he grew hostile when she did not reciprocate.”

“She later reached a confidential agreement with Mr. Meehan’s office that included a settlement for an undisclosed amount to be paid from Mr. Meehan’s congressional office fund.”

For members: Republicans Are Reeling In Pennsylvania

This is very bad news for Republicans. They’ll either have a damaged incumbent or an open seat in a very competitive district.

GOP Lawmaker Says Country ‘Being Run by Idiots’

Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) blasted Congress on Friday as a government funding deadline approached, slamming the government as being “run by idiots,” The Hill reports.

Said Kennedy: “Our country was founded by geniuses, but it’s being run by idiots.”

Another of Kennedy’s colleagues, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), made similar remarks on the Senate floor, saying that the Senate has “some really stupid people.”