Sarah Sanders says ‘the president looks forward to meeting Kim at a place to be announced at a later date’
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Colorado Gov. Jared Polis will permit federal workers required to work without pay to file for unemployment.
“Those federal employees who are required to report for work are feeling the same economic squeeze as those who have been furloughed. They should not be denied the immediate financial assistance provided by unemployment benefits while being mandated to show up to work,” Polis said in a statement. “I have authorized an emergency rule that makes all unpaid federal workers eligible for unemployment benefits, whether they are reporting for work or not.”
Special counsel Robert Mueller issued a rare statement refusing the explosive BuzzFeed report that the president directed ex-fixer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.
Asked if @POTUS will use Saturday announcement to declare a national emergency to build a border wall, @PressSec says she won’t get ahead of @POTUS. “I suggest everybody tune in.” She says he’s continuing to look for an end to the crises at the border. pic.twitter.com/O3o1vIvexd
Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz may launch an independent bid for president, the Washington Post is reporting.
Advisers to the billionaire Democrat are exploring the possibility. Former Ohio governor John Kasich, a 2016 Republican candidate for president, is also considering an independent run.
Former President George W. Bush delivered pizza to his Secret Service agents, who are working without pay during the shutdown. He wrote that he and former First Lady Laura Bush are “grateful to our Secret Service personnel and the thousands of Federal employees who are working hard for our country without a paycheck.”
@LauraWBush and I are grateful to our Secret Service personnel and the thousands of Federal employees who are working hard for our country without a paycheck. And we thank our fellow citizens who are supporting them. It’s time for leaders on both sides to put politics aside, come together, and end this shutdown.
I will be making a major announcement concerning the Humanitarian Crisis on our Southern Border, and the Shutdown, tomorrow afternoon at 3 P.M., live from the @WhiteHouse.
California Senator Kamala Harris may not have announced her candidacy for president (it’s being speculated that she will make the announcement in her hometown of Oakland on Monday), but she appears to have already selected her campaign headquarters, The Baltimore Sun is reporting.
“Harris picked Baltimore because of its diversity, its proximity to Washington and because it is in the Eastern time zone, the sources said, who requested anonymity because Harris has not yet announced her plans.”
Hello, this is Vivian Ho with the west coast bureau, taking over for Joanna Walters.
In the latest news on the government shutdown, the Associated Press reports that the Democratic state governors of Michigan, New York and Washington have asked the Trump administration to let states offer unemployment benefits to federal employees who are working without pay.
Governors Gretchen Whitmer, Andrew Cuomo and Jay Inslee said in a joint statement that their states are providing the benefits to furloughed workers. But federal regulations prevent those who are on the job without pay from eligibility.
As rising Florida Democrat Andrew Gillum says of the MLK holiday: “It’s not a day off, it’s a day on.” He may have tweeted it last year, before he narrowly lost his bid to become state governor in November, but it doesn’t grow old.
He added: “We should have conversations about race, racism, sexism, and all the other -isms, because if it sits unconscious, we’ll allow it to continue to perpetuate.”
Julián Castro popped up in New Hampshire earlier in the week and Kirsten Gillibrand is zooming into Iowa this weekend, on Warren’s heels. All three are formally running. But the Monday holiday, marking what would have been Martin Luther King Jr’s 90th birthday, is the all-you-can-eat buffet of the maybes as well as the definite.
Speculation continues to build that Kamala Harris will announce her candidacy “in or around” MLK Day. Joe Biden is making his first public appearance of the year at Al Sharpton’s civil rights breakfast in Washington on the day.
The Guardian is marking Trump’s two-year mark in office with a series of articles over the next few days. The first one was published today.
It examines the effects the Trump administration has had on key issues: the environment, the economy, foreign policy, immigration and the judiciary.
The empress of soul, Gladys Knight, has defended her decision to perform the American national anthem at the Super Bowl, after receiving criticism from supporters of former quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who used football’s pre-game tradition to protest racial injustice, especially police brutality against people of color.
But Knight, a 74-year-old native of Atlanta, where the game will be played, has agreed to sing “the Star Spangled Banner”, Reuters reports.
Her decision was blasted on social media today by supporters of the “take a knee” stance championed by NFL players who kneel during the anthem as a form of activism. Donald Trump, who lobbied for rebels to be fired, has led a chorus of conservative voices calling such actions unpatriotic.
Knight argued that she wanted to “give the anthem back its voice” in order to include Americans struggling for racial justice. She said she did not need to prove her commitment to civil rights.
“I have fought long and hard for all my life, from walking back hallways, from marching with our social leaders, from using my voice for good,” the “Midnight Train to Georgia” singer said in a statement.
It’s a big weekend for presidential hopefuls – with many potential candidates using the upcoming three-day weekend to take the first steps in the 2020 campaign.
Senator Kristen Gillibrand, a Democrat in New York, has landed in Iowa:
Gillibrand makes her first stop in Iowa at Pierce Street Coffee House in Sioux City: “I’m going to be fighting for you as hard as I would fight for my own kids,” she tells a 15 year old Iowan pic.twitter.com/p2B3btYo8O
Michael Fuchs, a former deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, said Trump is heading into the second North Korea summit with “no sense.”
Fuchs, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, said:
Once again, President Trump is rushing into a summit meeting with Kim Jong Un with no sense of what it will achieve other than showering a brutal dictator with more international acceptance. Diplomacy with North Korea is necessary, but what Trump has done so far is more of a show than real diplomacy. With North Korea, we can’t trust – we must verify. So far, Trump’s engagement with North Korea has produced nothing for America while North Korea continues to expand its nuclear program. Let’s hope the second summit produces real results, but don’t hold your breath as we wait for episode two of the Trump-Kim show.
More on the North Korea news from the Guardian’s Julian Borger:
This week the vice-president, Mike Pence, conceded that Washington was still “waiting for concrete steps” from the Kim’s regime, and the US unveiled a plan for a significantly expanded missile defence system, much of it designed to counter what the Pentagon termed “an extraordinary threat” from North Korea.
Donald Trump’s meeting with North Korean envoy, Kim Yong Choi, has ended, according to the White House pool report.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders sent this readout from the meeting:
President Donald J Trump met with Kim Yong Chol for an hour and half, to discuss denuclearization and a second summit, which will take place near the end of February. The President looks forward to meeting with Chairman Kim at a place to be announced at a later date.
As the longest government shutdown in US history drags on, the president is encouraging his supporters to donate to his 2020 campaign.
In return, his campaign claims it will send “red faux bricks” to Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, and House majority leader, Nancy Pelosi.
TRUMP FUNDRAISING EMAIL: “Starting today, Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. is offering red faux bricks to be sent to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in exchange for a campaign contribution in the amount of $20.20 each.” pic.twitter.com/UaGjmWCAmZ
This weekend is the third annual Women’s March, but it is going forward under a cloud of controversy because of ties between its top organizers and anti-semite, Louis Farrakhan.
The Guardian’s Erin Durkin writes that the controversy has seen march sponsors withdraw and led local chapters of the group to disaffiliate from the central organization.
The result is that there will be two major women’s marches taking place on the streets of New York and many other cities around the country on Saturday – the original one, which emphasizes leadership by women of color, and another – March On – formed in opposition to antisemitism.
“Founded by the leaders of many of the marches across the country, March On is women-led, but open to all, and will employ a sophisticated political strategy to coordinate concrete actions at the federal, state, and local level through the joint efforts of millions of marchers,” the March On website states.
Senator Jeff Merkley, a Democrat from Oregon, has asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to investigate Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to see if she committed perjury while testifying under oath about family separation.
Last night, the senator published a leaked memo that showed the Trump administration had been planning the family separation policy in December 2017.
I’m formally requesting that the @FBI investigate whether @SecNielsen committed perjury during her testimony under oath before @HouseJudiciary. The memo I released yesterday flat-out contradicts her statement that there was no child separation policy. https://t.co/Bj6FDsACv6 pic.twitter.com/KJBxp5A06O
Donald Trump and Mike Pence made surprise remarks at the country’s largest demonstration against abortion, the March for Life, this afternoon.
While Pence attended the rally in-person, Trump addressed the march in videotaped remarks.
A bombshell report in Buzzfeed that Donald Trump directed his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about a real estate deal in Moscow has impeachment chatter at a fever pitch.
There are 14 members of the Senate who were in Congress in 1999 during the Clinton impeachment trial and voted to remove him from office:
The White House sent a statement to the press pool earlier, without naming the person quoted. It accuses Pelosi’s camp of a “flat out lie” in accusing the WH of leaking her plans to fly commercial after Trump blocked her war-zone trip on government flights.
Requests from the pool for a named statement on the record have so far gone unanswered.
Mitch McConnell lends himself to cartoons almost as well as Trump. Rob Rogers has skewered the Senate majority leader today. Rogers has become more seething, less subtle, in his art since being ousted from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last year. Here’s his offering on Mitch today.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could end the shutdown at any moment. But like so many other cowardly republicans on the hill, he has become another lackey for the president. Sad. https://t.co/TMbTj17wOM #TrumpShutdown2019 #Trump #MitchMcConnellShutdown #GOP #Obama pic.twitter.com/awMObSbNvZ
The US Senate was very briefly in session this morning. Just a handful of senators rattling around the chamber, but enough for the Democratic side to attempt to advance legislation re-opening the Department of Homeland Security and the GOP side to block it.
The Hill reported that Virginia Democrat Tim Kaine asked to take up a bill passed by the Dem-dominated House that would fund the DHS until February 8 (lest we forget, the day after Michael Cohen is due to testify on Capitol Hill).
Donald Trump is reportedly at this minute meeting in the White House with North Korean envoy Kim Yong-choi. Reuters reported that press sec Sarah Sanders announced the meeting. We await further details.
“Pelosi told reporters that WH leaking of their travel plans scrapped their trip, calling it “very irresponsible” and saying it endangered lawmakers traveling there,” CNN’s Manu Raju just tweeted, after Pelosi addressed a media huddle in the halls of Congress.
She’s accused Trump of leaking her plans to fly commercial as an alternative to using government-provided aircraft, which the president blocked yesterday afternoon just as Pelosi and a congressional entourage was about to leave for the airport.
Nancy Pelosi was asked if she believed Trump’s White House may have leaked details of her trip as “retaliation” for her request on Wednesday that the president delay his State of the Union speech, due January 29, because of security concerns during the government shutdown.
“I would hope not,” she said. “I don’t think the president would be that petty, do you?”
Nancy Pelosi is speaking with reporters this minute on Capitol Hill. She’s slamming the White House for, as she believes, “leaking” details of her planned trip to Afghanistan – a war zone, which breaks protocol. The White House has denied leaking anything.
“We’ll go again. We’ll go another time,” she said.
Meanwhile, World Affairs! The Associated Press reports that the US and North Korea began fresh talks today aimed at resuming stalled efforts to end the North’s nuclear weapons program.
So the buzz is all about arranging a second summit between Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, following the fanfare around what the Guardian figured was littel more than a glorified photo-op in June last year.
A slightly different take from Chris Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, who said on Twitter: “Listen, if Mueller does have multiple sources confirming Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress, then we need to know this ASAP. Mueller shouldn’t end his inquiry, but it’s about time for him to show Congress his cards before it’s too late for us to act.”
Got it. But in this hyper-speed, information saturation, 24-7 connectivity news time warp we now live in, a little shy of two years is really not long for an investigation of the complexity and scale of Robert Mueller’s.
Here’s the full statement:
Chairman Schiff Statement on BuzzFeed Report
Washington, DC — Today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following statement:
“On October 24, 2017, Michael Cohen testified before the House Intelligence Committee under oath. We now know that he made false statements about the efforts to consummate the Trump Tower Moscow deal during the campaign.
Adam Schiff, Democrat of California and chairman of the House intelligence committee, has put out a statement pledging in strong terms to investigate allegations that Donald Trump had business dealings with Russia during the 2016 election campaign and has since directed ex-fixer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about it.
He calls the latest revelations and claims: “A counterintelligence concern of the greatest magnitude” and pledges that the powerful committee will “get to the bottom of this.”
If presidential crime and punishment discussions aren’t going away any time soon, neither is the issue of the US-Mexico border.
Starting off in the ‘you have to laugh or you’d cry’ zone, here is the latest cover of the New Yorker.
We won’t sidetrack for more than a moment on Cohen’s father-in-law Fima Shusterman, but as Trump keeps bringing him up, here’s a quick recap.
Shusterman, was charged with two other men in 1993 with conspiring to defraud the IRS in connection with his New York taxi business. He pleaded guilty to a related charge that same year, and was placed on probation for two years.
Donald Trump has responded to the BuzzFeed story. By quoting Fox News! And repeating his odd reference to Michael Cohen’s father-in-law, while, again, accusing his former close friend and lawyer Cohen of lying.
Kevin Corke, @FoxNews “Don’t forget, Michael Cohen has already been convicted of perjury and fraud, and as recently as this week, the Wall Street Journal has suggested that he may have stolen tens of thousands of dollars….” Lying to reduce his jail time! Watch father-in-law!
More high-level reaction to the account that Donald Trump is said to have directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.
Jerry Nadler, representative of New York and chairman of the House judiciary committee, tweeted this morning that directing a subordinate to lie to Congress is a federal crime.
We know that the President has engaged in a long pattern of obstruction. Directing a subordinate to lie to Congress is a federal crime. The @HouseJudiciary Committee’s job is to get to the bottom of it, and we will do that work.
The heat in Washington doesn’t seem to lessen whether Congress is in session or not, these days. The public record noting that Donald Trump has no public events scheduled and Congress isn’t sitting makes no different to the red hot stream of volcanic news gushing down Pennsylvania Avenue.
House speaker Nancy Pelosi has just issued a statement, following the chaos triggered yesterday afternoon when the president escalated his feud with her by canceling her previously undisclosed trip abroad, denying her the use of a military aircraft to visit American troops in Afghanistan.
Casting your mind back … oh, just a couple of days … Donald Trump’s choice for attorney general, William Barr, told senators at his confirmation hearing that it would be a crime for a president to try to coach a Congressional witness. South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham asked Barr if it was a crime if “the president tried to coach somebody not to testify, or testify falsely?” Barr didn’t obfuscate or equivocate. “Yes,” he said. “Under an obstruction statute, yes.” For avoidance of doubt, Democrat Amy Klobuchar said to Barr: “You wrote … that a president persuading a person to commit perjury would be obstruction, is that right?” Barr replied, yes. Here’s the clip:
.@AmyKlobuchar: You wrote on page 1 that a president persuading a person to commit perjury would be obstruction, is that right?
William Barr: Yes. pic.twitter.com/mBcRl0mgD7
David Axelrod, long-time Democratic party insider and Barack Obama’s former senior adviser, said on CNN on Friday morning that if the Buzzfeed story was true then Trump was “in a new type of trouble, no question about it.”
Other commentators called the article a “bombshell”, in the already-cratered legal landscape surrounding the president. As special counsel Robert Mueller continues the Trump-Russia investigation and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani suddenly switches to say he “never said there was no collusion” between the campaign and Russia, is this what “American carnage” begins to look like?
Democrats have come flying out of the gate over the BuzzFeed story that Trump directed his ex-fixer and lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.
A very sober-sounding Adam Schiff, California Democrat and the new chairman of the House intelligence committee, whom Trump has delighted in calling puerile names, went straight for the P-word. He posted on Twitter: “The allegation that the President of the United States may have suborned perjury before our committee in an effort to curtail the investigation and cover up his business dealings with Russia is among the most serious to date. We will do what’s necessary to find out if it’s true.”
The allegation that the President of the United States may have suborned perjury before our committee in an effort to curtail the investigation and cover up his business dealings with Russia is among the most serious to date. We will do what’s necessary to find out if it’s true. https://t.co/GljBAFqOjh
If the @BuzzFeed story is true, President Trump must resign or be impeached.
Good morning. The Guardian US team plans to take you through what promises to be another action-packed day in American politics. There’s no sense of TGIF when Donald Trump’s in the White House.
The president is apparently in a “whole new type of trouble” today after BuzzFeed broke an explosive story reporting that he directed ex-fixer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.
Link : Trump to hold second summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un – as it happened