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TRUMP AGENDA: Trump ends first year in office with 39 percent job rating

From our latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll: “President Donald Trump ends his first year in office with 39 percent of Americans approving of his job performance, according to the latest national NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll — the lowest mark in the poll’s history for any modern president ending his first year. Fifty-seven percent disapprove of Trump’s job, including a majority of respondents — 51 percent — who now say they strongly disapprove, which is a record high for Trump in the survey. That’s compared with 26 percent of Americans who strongly approve of the president’s job.”

Leigh Ann Caldwell has the latest on the shutdown showdown: “House Republicans overcame a major obstacle late Thursday when the most conservative wing of the conference announced its support for the short-term spending measure to avoid a government shutdown. The measure passed the House on a mostly party line 230-197 vote. But the fate of the measure is uncertain in the Senate where at least six Republican senators have come out against the measure and Democrats are confident they can block it from advancing. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer has proposed a shorter stop-gap measure, lasting just four or five days, to be used as a hard deadline on an agreement on government spending levels and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program known as DACA.”

More, in the Washington Post: “By Thursday evening, nine Senate Democrats who had voted for a prior spending measure in December said they would not support the latest proposed four-week extension, joining 30 other Democrats and at least two Senate Republicans — and leaving the bill short of the 60 votes needed to advance. As a result, Republican leaders — long on the defensive against claims that they were failing to govern — appeared emboldened as they sought to cast the Democrats as the obstacle to a compromise to keep critical government functions operating.”

POLITICO notes that all the shutdown chaos is coming as morale in the White House sinks. “After ending 2017 with the passage of a sweeping rewrite of the tax code, White House officials had hoped to return from their holiday breaks refreshed and refocused. Instead, they’ve been thrust into yet another real-life game of Whac-A-Mole, forced to deal with an explosive tell-all book; racially charged remarks by the president that upended negotiations over an immigration deal; and now the prospect of a government spending crisis.”

Can the GOP govern? “Never before has the government experienced a furlough of federal employees when a single party controls both the White House and Congress, but that’s what will happen after midnight Friday if a spending bill fails to pass Congress,” writes the Washington Post. “While Democrats criticized Republicans for failing to do what was necessary to win their support to keep the government open — a responsibility that has historically fallen to the party in charge — even some Republicans acknowledged there had been a profound breakdown in how Washington is run.”

The New York Times details Trump’s relationship with John Kelly: “Both Mr. Trump and Mr. Kelly are used to being in charge, and both are prone to dramatic outbursts of temper, according to interviews with a half-dozen White House officials. Both have a tendency to say different things to different audiences, and Mr. Kelly is more strident about the need to restrict immigration than some people had realized. They depart over management philosophy: Mr. Trump favors chaos, and Mr. Kelly believes in strict command and control. And while Mr. Trump believes in his abilities as a salesman, Mr. Kelly is unused to being thrust in front of the national political spotlight.”

In the Wall Street Journal: “President Donald Trump’s lawyer used a private Delaware company to pay a former adult-film star $130,000 in return for her agreeing to not publicly discuss an alleged sexual encounter with Mr. Trump, according to corporate records and people familiar with the matter. The lawyer, Michael Cohen, established Essential Consultants LLC, on Oct. 17, 2016, just before the 2016 presidential election, corporate documents show. Mr. Cohen, who is based in New York, then used a bank account linked to the entity to send the payment to the client-trust account of a lawyer representing the woman, Stephanie Clifford, one of the people said.”

From CNN: “Trump administration appointee Carl Higbie resigned Thursday as chief of external affairs for the federal government's volunteer service organization after a CNN KFile review of racist, sexist, anti-Muslim and anti-LGBT comments he made on the radio.”

OFF TO THE RACES: A potential nightmare scenario for Dems in California

CA: From POLITICO: “Democrats who cheered the retirement announcements of Reps. Darrell Issa and Ed Royce last week are sobering up to a new fear: A potential nightmare scenario in which no Democratic candidate ends up on the November ballot in either seat, dealing a blow to the party’s efforts to retake the House. The problem is California’s unusual, top-two primary system, where the top two vote-getters regardless of party affiliation advance to the November general election.”

MS-SEN: A distant cousin of Elvis Presley who was thought to be a strong Democratic contender for Senate in Mississippi says he won’t run.

NC: “North Carolina lawmakers will not have to draw new congressional election districts by next week, and voters across the state could go to the polls in the coming year to elect its 13 members of Congress from districts that three judges have found to be unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court issued an emergency stay of a partisan gerrymandering ruling that was the first of its kind for congressional districts.”

PA-18: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette sums up Trump’s visit for Saccone.

SC-GOV: Joe Biden is backing one of the two Democrats running for governor.

WV-SEN: Don Blankenship has officially launched his Senate bid