TRUMP AGENDA: President gets a clean bill of health
"President Trump’s White House physician said Tuesday that the president received a perfect score on a cognitive test designed to screen for neurological impairment, which the military doctor said was evidence that Mr. Trump does not suffer from mental issues that prevent him from functioning in office," the New York Times writes. "Overall, Dr. Jackson said, Mr. Trump’s health was 'excellent,' with mostly normal results on a battery of tests and examinations. He said Mr. Trump, 71, has remarkably good cardiac health, probably because he does not smoke or drink alcohol."
From NBC’s Hallie Jackson, Kristen Welker and Julia Ainsley: “FBI agents showed up at Steve Bannon’s Washington home last week intent on serving him with a subpoena to appear before a grand jury investigating possible ties between President Donald Trump's campaign and Russia, according to a source familiar with the proceedings. The agents were unaware at the time that Bannon had retained Washington lawyer William Burck just hours earlier, according to two people familiar with the events that took place on Jan. 9. Once redirected, the agents sent the order to Burck, who is also representing two other witnesses in the probe being led by special counsel Robert Mueller, a former director of the FBI.”
And, from Welker and Mike Memoli: “Steve Bannon told lawmakers investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election that the White House instructed him not to answer questions related to his tenure as a top White House adviser, prompting a rare subpoena to compel testimony, multiple congressional sources tell NBC News.”
“The Associated Press reviewed hundreds of pages of depositions taken of Trump in the past decade, including in contract and defamation lawsuits. The interviews, taken together, not only reflect his deep experience in providing sworn statements to lawyers but also offer clues to a rhetorical style that could again be on display in the event Trump is questioned by Mueller’s team. The transcripts reveal a witness who is by turns voluble, giving expansive answers far beyond the questions asked; boastful, using unrelated queries to expound on his wealth or popularity; unapologetic, swift to defend incendiary comments or criticized actions; and occasionally combative, once deriding a lawyer for “very stupid” questions.”
Leigh Ann Caldwell has the latest on the stop-gap funding bill that could temporarily avert a government shutdown.
In the Washington Post: “A burst of public acrimony across Capitol Hill on Tuesday exposed how much negotiations on immigration and border security have been set back since President Trump’s use of a vulgar expression during a meeting on the issue… Behind the drama, a Friday deadline loomed to pass a new spending bill in time to avert a government shutdown. Aides to top congressional leaders met again Tuesday to try to salvage a deal to meet a March deadline to legalize the status of undocumented immigrants brought to this country as children, known as “dreamers,” while also beefing up border security. But leaders publicly doubted that they had time to pair such a deal with a short-term plan to keep the government open beyond Friday.”
And in the New York Times: “With little hope of an immigration agreement this week, Republicans in Congress are looking to head off a government shutdown this weekend by pairing another stopgap spending measure with long-term funding for the popular Children’s Health Insurance Program, daring Democrats to vote no.”
“The Justice Department on Tuesday said it would take the “rare step” of asking the Supreme Court to overturn a judge’s ruling and allow the Trump administration to dismantle a program that provides work permits to undocumented immigrants raised in the United States,” the Washington Post writes. “The Trump administration said it has appealed the judge’s injunction — which said the Obama-era program must continue for now — to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. But the Justice Department will also petition the Supreme Court later this week to intervene in the case, an unusual action that would allow the government to bypass the 9th Circuit altogether in its bid to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program starting in March.”
Via NBC’s Suzy Khimm: “The Environmental Protection Agency is shifting course under the Trump administration on how it assesses new chemicals for health and environmental hazards, streamlining a safety review process that industry leaders say is too slow and cumbersome. But some former EPA officials, as well as experts and advocates, say the agency is skipping vital steps that protect the public from hazardous chemicals that consumers have never used before, undermining new laws and regulations that Congress passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in 2016.”
From Phil Helsel, Andrea Mitchell and Abigail Williams: “Tillerson encourages talks with North Korea but says regime could ‘trigger an option.’”
The Wall Street Journal looks at how Trump has upended U.S. foreign policy.
OFF TO THE RACES: Some Missouri Republicans call on Greitens to resign
POLITICO sums up the GOP’s recruiting woes, particularly against Democrats who may challenge the president in 2020.
Wisconsin Democrats are buoyant after capturing a GOP-held state Senate seat yesterday. From the Journal-Sentinel: “Democrats snagged a GOP-leaning state Senate seat in western Wisconsin on Tuesday, buoying progressive hopes that they could ride a wave of victory this fall. Patty Schachtner, the chief medical examiner for St. Croix County, will take the seat that had been held for 17 years by former Sen. Sheila Harsdorf (R-River Falls). Harsdorf stepped down in November to take a job as GOP Gov. Scott Walker's agriculture secretary… The district has not been good to Democrats in the past. Mitt Romney won the district in 2012 even though he lost the presidential race in Wisconsin and nationally to Barack Obama. Trump crushed Hillary Clinton in the district in the 2016 presidential election and John McCain almost won the district in 2008, despite Obama's easy statewide victory.”
Gov. Scott Walker called the win for Democrats “a wake up call” for the GOP.
(A Republican won in South Carolina’s statehouse special election contest yesterday as well as in Iowa’s special election.)
Senate Democratic candidates are also stockpiling lots of campaign cash.
IL-GOV: Bruce Rauner is dealing with fallout over comments about race, Trump and David Duke.
IN-SEN: The GOP Senate candidates will debate next month.
MO-GOV: Some Republicans are calling on Eric Greitens to step aside.
MN-SEN: Tim Pawlenty is officially out for the state’s Senate race.
NJ-GOV: New Jersey’s new governor says he will “resist every move from President Trump.”
OH-GOV: Dennis Kucinich is officially in the governor’s race. (Kucinich announcing it on Fox News is, well, an unusual move for a Democrat.)