Commerce Recommends Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum

Jonathan Swan: “The Department of Commerce will recommend tariffs on steel and aluminum that, if applied, would be the first shots in a global trade war.”

“The fight over whether to use the Section 232 law to impose tariffs has already become the hottest trade fight inside the Trump White House. Gary Cohn, Steven Mnuchin, Rex Tillerson and James Mattis have all been fighting against these tariffs on steel and aluminum — arguing they would harm the global economy and damage relationships with allies.”

Scott Leaning Towards a Senate Bid In Florida

“Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), in conversations with major Republican donors over the past week, has signaled that he is moving closer to challenging Sen. Bill Nelson and has mapped out financial and political plans that could guide his potential bid,” the Washington Post reports.

“Scott’s study of the race’s dynamics and his confidence that the veteran Democrat is vulnerable has led those donors to conclude that the governor is now leaning toward running, the people said, requesting anonymity to discuss private exchanges.”

Said one donor: “He thinks Nelson isn’t ready for the velocity of a 2018 campaign.”

Quote of the Day

“I don’t think that the campaign colluded in some meaningful way. I don’t think that they were organized enough, or competent enough as a campaign to do that.”

— Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), in an interview with CNBC, doubting that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.

Republicans Bet Their Majorities on a Tax Cut

Matthew Continetti: “Republicans want to tie the strong economy to the tax cut they passed last December. This is the most powerful weapon they have in the coming election, not just because the policy appears to be succeeding, but also because it’s the only major achievement of the 115th Congress. Republicans are keeping track of how many companies have pegged bonuses, raises, or 401(k) perks to the tax cut—the number currently stands at 348. They urge voters to “check their check,” beginning this week, to see the extra take-home pay the cut has given them. And they are telling candidates to highlight the impact on everyday people: Christmas toys purchased, vacations enjoyed, and small businesses expanded as a result of a policy the GOP embraced but every Democrat in Congress voted against.”

First Democratic Campaign Ads on the Tax Law

A Democratic super PAC unveiled these two television ads — in Indiana and Missouri — backing the endangered Senate incumbents.

Both ads feature the same message: The tax law gives 83% of the benefits to the richest one percent of the population while adding $1.5 trillion to the national debt. And to pay for it, there’s Republicans plan to cut Medicare.

Stalemate Over Guns and Immigration Isn’t Going Away

Ron Brownstein: “On both matters, Republicans are championing primarily non-urban and predominantly white constituencies that want fewer immigrants and more access to guns. Democrats reflect a mirror-image consensus: Their voters coming from diverse urban areas usually support more immigrants and fewer guns.”

“The predictability of deadlock testifies to the power of the intertwined cultural, demographic, and economic divide now separating urban and non-urban America—and how closely the nation’s partisan split follows the contours of that larger separation.”

Romney Announces Senate Bid

Mitt Romney announced in a video that he is running for U.S. Senate to “bring Utah’s values to Washington.”

Most interesting line: “Utah welcomes legal immigrants from around the world. Washington sends immigrants a message of exclusion.”

Salt Lake Tribune: “Romney, should he win, will enter the Senate with an oversized megaphone as one of the most well-known Republicans, able to garner attention for every word he utters or action he takes.”

McKay Coppins says Romney is running as a full-throated pitchman for his adoptive home state — making the case that Utah’s distinctive brand of conservatism could offer a better way forward for the GOP and the nation.

Inside the Senate’s Immigration Breakdown

Politico: “The Senate’s spectacular failure to address the plight of the most sympathetic batch of immigrants in the country illegally — a group that President Donald Trump once declared he had ‘great love’ for — was the latest display of legislative ineptitude in the upper chamber. This account, detailing the demise of the months-long immigration push, is based on interviews with more than a dozen senators and aides who’ve worked on the issue since Trump announced last fall he was rescinding the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.”

“While senators vowed to try again, there’s no apparent reason to think the next time will be any different. Immigration has always been polarizing and difficult to tackle, but Trump’s ascendance has made it that much more so, diminishing trust and depleting the group of dealmaking senators it would take to clear the chamber’s 60-vote threshold.”

For members: Trump Just Played Congress on Immigration

How Trump Concealed His Affairs

Ronan Farrow in the New Yorker reports that in 2006, Donald Trump and Karen McDougal, a former Playmate of the Year, “began an affair, which McDougal later memorialized in an eight-page, handwritten document… When I showed McDougal the document, she expressed surprise that I had obtained it but confirmed that the handwriting was her own.”

“The interactions that McDougal outlines in the document share striking similarities with the stories of other women who claim to have had sexual relationships with Trump, or who have accused him of propositioning them for sex or sexually harassing them. McDougal describes their affair as entirely consensual.”

“Her account provides a detailed look at how Trump and his allies used clandestine hotel-room meetings, payoffs, and complex legal agreements to keep affairs — sometimes multiple affairs he carried out simultaneously — out of the press.”

Is Donald Trump a Traitor?

James Risen: “One year after Trump took office, it is still unclear whether the president of the United States is an agent of a foreign power. Just step back and think about that for a moment.”

“His 2016 campaign is the subject of an ongoing federal inquiry that could determine whether Trump or people around him worked with Moscow to take control of the U.S. government. Americans must now live with the uncertainty of not knowing whether the president has the best interests of the United States or those of the Russian Federation at heart.”

Russia Attacked U.S. Troops In Syria

Eli Lake: “If you’ve been listening just to the Kremlin and the Pentagon, you probably didn’t know that Russia attacked American forces and their allies in Syria last week, suffering heavy casualties.”

“Yes, all sides admit that there was an incident at a U.S. base in Deir Ezzor. And that elements of the Syrian regime and Shiite militias participated in the assault. The Pentagon and Kremlin both acknowledge that Russian “mercenaries” participated, too. But the line for now is that those contractors had gone rogue, and Moscow didn’t know anything about it.”
“But make no mistake: There is overwhelming evidence that those Russian contractors were working at the behest of the Kremlin.”