THE INVESTIGATIONS — BOMBSHELL — NYT’S ADAM GOLDMAN, MIKE SCHMIDT and NICK FANDOS: “F.B.I. Opened Inquiry Into Whether Trump Was Secretly Working on Behalf of Russia”: “In the days after President Trump fired James B. Comey as F.B.I. director, law enforcement officials became so concerned by the president’s behavior that they began investigating whether he had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests, according to former law enforcement officials and others familiar with the investigation. The inquiry carried explosive implications. Counterintelligence investigators had to consider whether the president’s own actions constituted a possible threat to national security.
“Agents also sought to determine whether Mr. Trump was knowingly working for Russia or had unwittingly fallen under Moscow’s influence. The investigation the F.B.I. opened into Mr. Trump also had a criminal aspect, which has long been publicly known: whether his firing of Mr. Comey constituted obstruction of justice. Agents and senior F.B.I. officials had grown suspicious of Mr. Trump’s ties to Russia during the 2016 campaign but held off on opening an investigation into him, the people said, in part because they were uncertain how to proceed with an inquiry of such sensitivity and magnitude.
“But the president’s activities before and after Mr. Comey’s firing in May 2017, particularly two instances in which Mr. Trump tied the Comey dismissal to the Russia investigation, helped prompt the counterintelligence aspect of the inquiry, the people said. The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, took over the inquiry into Mr. Trump when he was appointed, days after F.B.I. officials opened it.” NYT
— PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP lashed out about the report on Twitter this morning. More from Brent D. Griffiths
Good Saturday morning. SHUTDOWN … DAY 22 … Trump’s Washington has now produced the longest shutdown in American history.
WHAT WE’VE LEARNED SO FAR …
— IF THERE WAS ANY DOUBT, WHEN NANCY PELOSI SAYS NO, SHE MEANS IT … People in the White House ranging from PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP to VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE have made clear they want to negotiate with SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI on the wall. She has said no. She doesn’t believe the U.S. needs the wall, as described by the president, and has now kept that position for three weeks. They keep asking when she’ll put an offer on the table, but why would she? She doesn’t want what the president wants.
— THE WHITE HOUSE HAS A TOUGH TIME KEEPING ITS STORY STRAIGHT … Washington has been wrestling with this funding mess for more than a month now. White House aides have been making it up as they go along. They’ve said the president would be fine with spending bills without wall money, then he threatened to veto them, putting the government in shutdown.
THE PRESIDENT has said he wants this fight. But this week he said he didn’t, and it’s the Democrats’ fault. The White House has been on every side of whether they’d be interested in a DACA-for-wall trade. There’s one guy who matters here, and it’s the president, and even he is shifting. NYT’S Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Maggie Haberman on ‘mercurial Trump’
— THE PRESIDENT’S BAG OF TRICKS IS NEARLY EMPTY … He’s tried the Oval Office address and he’s stormed out of a negotiation. He went down to the border, did an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity and launched his usual Twitter attacks, but none of it has moved the needle.
— … BUT TRUMP HAS A STOMACH FOR CONFLICT: The president has finally decided to have an all-out fight with Democrats, and this is what it looks like. He’s being pushed along by the Freedom Caucus, which believes if you hold out in a situation like this, you can win.
— DEALMAKING IS OVERRATED … At the moment, talks have broken down, and don’t look to be starting up again anytime soon. Remember during past conflicts like this when lawmakers would be in the Capitol all night? Not here! People missed their paychecks yesterday, and the House and Senate are out until Monday.
— WHEN MITCH MCCONNELL IS ON THE SIDELINES, NOTHING HAPPENS … This is a statement based on a small sample size, but MCCONNELL is not involved in ending this standoff, and it’s now the longest shutdown ever. He’s not the key, but he’s a key.
— DON’T LISTEN TO PEOPLE WHO SAY THEY KNOW HOW THIS WILL END … If the president declared a national emergency, there’s a thought that the president will open government right up, and things will be normal once again. Don’t believe it. It might happen, we suppose, but why? Until the ink is on the bill, there is no reason to make any predictions any more. Gabby Orr’s piece detailing the White House’s end-of-shutdown thinking
WHAT TO WATCH — So far, 12 House Republicans have broken ranks and voted for the bills to reopen parts of the government. If the stalemate isn’t over next week, Democrats won’t leave for the Martin Luther King Jr. recess and will continue to keep voting on these measures. Will more Republicans break off as the pain of the shutdown increases? That could be the dynamic that changes this fight if enough Republicans defect from Trump and call for the government to open.
— THE WHITE HOUSE has begun planning for this shutdown to stretch into February.
THE IMPACT — “T.S.A. Agents Refuse to Work During Shutdown, Raising Fears of Airport Turmoil,” by NYT’s Patrick McGeehan: “Near Raleigh-Durham International Airport in North Carolina, a church-sponsored food pantry has been delivering food to T.S.A. workers, said Jessica Whichard, a spokeswoman for the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina. …
“The workers, many of them still in their T.S.A. uniforms after finishing their shifts, showed up to collect food at a makeshift pantry the foundation set up in a parking lot near the airport, said Kathleen Lee, director of services for the foundation. … Ms. Lee said the workers were not sheepish about accepting the handouts. She said that one of them told her, ‘If I’m getting free groceries then I can pay my light bill.’” NYT
— “Federal Shutdown’s Uneven Toll: Some Americans Are Devastated, Others Oblivious,” by NYT’s Julie Bosman in St. Louis, Patricia Cohen in New York and Julie Turkewitz in Lakewood, Colo.
— “77 (and counting) very real direct effects of the partial government shutdown,” by CNN’s Z. Byron Wolf, Veronica Stracqualursi and Devan Cole
PAGING ELIZABETH WARREN — “‘Could you make these guys essential?’: Mortgage industry gets shutdown relief after appeal to senior Treasury officials,” by WaPo’s Lisa Rein and Jeff Stein: “After an intense lobbying campaign by the mortgage industry, the Treasury Department this week restarted a program that had been sidelined by the partial government shutdown, allowing hundreds of Internal Revenue Service clerks to collect paychecks as they process forms vital to the lending industry.
“The hasty intervention to restore the IRS’s income verification service by drawing on revenue from fees — even as 800,000 federal employees across the country are going without their salaries — has intensified questions about the Trump administration’s unorthodox efforts to bring certain government functions back online to contain the shutdown’s impacts.
“Critics, including many former IRS officials, described the move as an act of favoritism to ease the burden on a powerful industry. ‘It seems crazy to me that a powerful bank or lobby gets to bring their people back to do their work,’ said Marvin Friedlander, who served as a senior IRS official in the mid-2000s. ‘How about the normal slob who can’t even pay his rent?’” WaPo
2020 WATCH — NATASHA KORECKI and DANIEL STRAUSS: “‘You couldn’t spend a dime?’: Jay Inslee ticks off the wrong state”: “When Washington Gov. Jay Inslee heads to the first-in-the-nation presidential primary state of New Hampshire later this month to test the 2020 waters, he might want to consider adding an apology tour.
“Inslee’s decision while he chaired the Democratic Governors Association not to invest in New Hampshire’s competitive governor’s race last year still burns some of the state’s leading Democrats. Ray Buckley, the New Hampshire Democratic Party chair, said the move was so surprising that state Democrats assumed Inslee had abandoned any 2020 aspirations.” POLITICO
THE GROWING DEMOCRATIC FIELD … — “Tulsi Gabbard to run for president,” by Daniel Strauss … “Castro launches 2020 bid with nod to party’s future,” Nolan D. McCaskill
CLICKER – “The nation’s cartoonists on the week in politics,” edited by Matt Wuerker — 12 keepers
NBC NEWS’ BRANDY ZADROZNY and BEN COLLINS: “Behind the viral #GoFundTheWall fundraiser, a rising conservative star and a shadowy email harvesting operation”: “Through his border-wall campaign, [Brian Kolfage] claims to have gathered 3.5 million email addresses, which are essential to his broader operation — a wide-ranging and multipronged effort to collect a list of Trump supporters who have proven to be sources of donations for conservative efforts, former employees told NBC News.
“Kolfage has repeatedly created GoFundMe campaigns and published inflammatory fake news articles, pushing them both from websites that he sought to hide behind shell companies and false identities, in part to harvest email addresses. Those addresses were then used to push people back to Kolfage’s websites, to sell a brand of coffee he owns, or to be stockpiled for future use by conservative campaigns.” NBC
HMM — “Thief breaks into two State Department buildings, steals phones,” by WaPo’s Carol Morello: “It is unclear why someone apparently targeted two different State Department facilities across the river from each other on the same day, suggesting they were not chosen at random. … Police said a man had ‘piggybacked’ into the secure building [in Rosslyn] at 9:35 a.m., slipping in behind someone else, made his way to an upper-floor suite and allegedly stole 53 electronic devices, including 44 cellphones that were a combination of private and government-owned phones.” WaPo
TRUMP INC. – “Trump Sold $35 Million Of Real Estate In 2018,” by Forbes’ Dan Alexander: “Just before Trump took office, one of his lawyers promised, ‘No new foreign deals will be made whatsoever during the duration of President Trump’s presidency.’ But on October 2, a man named Yu Zhang purchased a unit in the Las Vegas tower for $255,000, listing his address as Taiyuan City, China.” Forbes
— “Trump Organization hires former White House ethics lawyer to handle Hill investigations,” by CNN’s Cristina Alesci: “Stefan Passantino, the former White House deputy counsel who was responsible for overseeing compliance with ethics and conflict-of-interest rules, will handle its responses to Democratic investigations … Passantino left the White House last year to join Michael Best & Friedrich, a Milwaukee-based firm headed by former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus.” CNN
SCOOP – “Trump wants to bypass Congress on Medicaid plan,” by Rachana Pradhan and Dan Diamond: “The Trump administration is quietly devising a plan bypassing Congress to give block grants to states for Medicaid, achieving a longstanding conservative dream of reining in spending on the health care safety net for the poor.” POLITICO
MEDIAWATCH — “It’s Final: Megyn Kelly and NBC Part Ways. And She Will Be Paid in Full,” by NYT’s John Koblin and Michael M. Grynbaum: “[A]ccording to two people familiar with the negotiations, Ms. Kelly was paid the outstanding balance on her contract, a figure that amounts to roughly $30 million. At the time of the separation, Ms. Kelly was in the middle of a three-year, $69 million contract with the network.” NYT
GREAT WEEKEND READS, curated by Daniel Lippman:
— “‘Come On Down to the Rio Grande Valley. I’ll Show You Around,’” by Mattathias Schwartz on the cover of NYMag (print cover headline: “The Human Wall”): “Would patrolling with the Border Patrol change your mind about the border?” NYMag
— “The Weight I Carry: What it’s like to be too big in America,” by Tommy Tomlinson in the Atlantic: “When I was a kid, I never climbed a tree or learned to swim. When I was in my 20s, I never took a girl home from a bar. Now I’m 50, and I’ve never hiked a mountain or ridden a skateboard or done a cartwheel. I’ve missed out on so many adventures, so many good times.” The Atlantic (h/t TheBrowser.com)
— “What It Felt Like When ‘Cat Person’ Went Viral,” by Kristen Roupenian in the New Yorker: “For a few hours after ‘Cat Person’ went viral, I got to live the dream and the nightmare of knowing exactly what people thought when they read what I’d written.” New Yorker … The original essay (h/t Longreads.com)
— “‘What Happens When Trump Isn’t Around?’” by Vanity Fair’s Joe Pompeo: “With a new book [“Merchants of Truth: The Business of News and the Fight for Facts”], Jill Abramson dishes about new-media unicorns, old-media survivors, and her tumultuous Times years.” VF … $19.49 on Amazon
— “Meet America’s Only Jewish Political Dynasty: The Levins Of Michigan,” by Steve Friess in the Forward: “[Besides the Levins, no] other Jew has served in Congress alongside another immediate family member or bequeathed a seat to one of their children. One reason is that few Jews were elected to federal office until deep into the second half of the 20th century, so there hasn’t been enough time to build a brand or family tradition in politics the way so many Christian families have.” The Forward
— “How Cities Make Money by Fining the Poor,” by Matthew Shaer in the N.Y. Times Magazine: “In many parts of America, like Corinth, Miss., judges are locking up defendants who can’t pay — sometimes for months at a time.” NYT
— “Jair Bolsonaro’s Guru,” by Brian Winter in Americas Quarterly: “Olavo de Carvalho might be the most important voice in Brazil’s incoming government. And he doesn’t even live there.” Americas Quarterly
— “When You Give a Teacher a Gun,” by Jay Willis in GQ: “The question is no longer ‘should we arm teachers?’ Now, it’s ‘how many armed teachers are already out there?’ We flew down to Ohio to embed with the men and women behind FASTER Saves Lives, a group that has trained thousands of teachers from all across the country how to shoot to kill.” GQ
— “Viktor Orbán’s Far-Right Vision for Europe,” by Elisabeth Zerofsky in the New Yorker: “The Prime Minister of Hungary, who thrives on conflict, has consolidated power in his own country. Now he is turning his attention to the E.U.” New Yorker
— “Is Marijuana as Safe as We Think?” by the New Yorker’s Malcolm Gladwell: “Permitting pot is one thing; promoting its use is another.” New Yorker
— “The Many Lives of Liberalism,” by David A. Bell in the N.Y. Review of Books – per ALDaily.com’s description: “From the French Revolution to 19th-century Germany to the founding of The New Republic, liberalism has lived many lives. Will it continue to survive?” NYRB
— “Elwood, Illinois (Pop. 2,200), Has Become a Vital Hub of America’s Consumer Economy. And It’s Hell,” by Alexander Sammon in TNR: “The rural town south of Chicago is now a crucial stop for Amazon, Wal-Mart, IKEA, Home Depot, and other giant retailers. Developers had promised growth and good jobs. So why is everyone so miserable?” TNR (h/t Longreads.com)
OUT AND ABOUT — Pool report: Former “President Barack Obama dropped by the State Theatre in Falls Church, Va. on Friday night to surprise 600 of his former White House staff members and their spouses at a reunion party hosted by Denis and Kari McDonough and Jeff and Mary Zients. He told the crowd: ‘I miss you guys. I could not be prouder of what we accomplished together. I’m even prouder of what I’m seeing people accomplish post-Administration … you’re doing interesting work and making a difference in the lives of people, and I would’ve expected no less.
“One of the great joys of my presidency was seeing so many incredible people who, over time, continued to grow and flourish and never lost their sense of idealism and purpose. And seeing that continue is the thing that makes me proudest of the work we did.’” Pic of him speaking (in a black leather jacket)
SPOTTED: Denis McDonough, Jeff Zients, Cecilia Munoz, Susan Rice, Lisa Monaco, Shailagh Murray, Tony Blinken, Valerie Jarrett, Sylvia Burwell, Rahm Emanuel, Gina McCarthy, Tom Donilon, Mike Froman, Shaun Donovan, Pete Selfridge, Gene Sperling, Steve Ricchetti, Katie Hill, Katie Beirne Fallon, Joe Paulsen, Bernadette Meehan, Amy Rosenbaum, Liz Allen, Kristie Canegallo, Dana Remus, Julianna Smoot, Nancy-Ann DeParle, Yohannes Abraham …
… Eric Schultz, Jen Psaki, Keith Maley, Kori Schulman, Rachel Racusen, Paulette Aniskoff, Kate Kochman, Courtney Rowe, Stephanie Cutter, Kaitlin Gaughran, Patrick Rodenbush, Pete Boogaard, Carol Browner, Brian Deese, Meredith Bohen, Greg Lorjuste, Michael Brush, Peter Velz and Samantha Tubman.
WELCOME TO THE WORLD — Fritz Brogan, managing partner of Mission Group, co-chair of Maverick PAC and finance chairman to Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Fla.), and Brooke Brogan on Thursday welcomed Francis Bernard Brogan IV, who came in at 8 lbs 8 oz and 22 inches. Instapic … Another pic
BIRTHDAYS: Jeff Bezos is 55 … Christiane Amanpour … Rush Limbaugh is 68 … Howard Stern is 65 … Ryan Murphy, principal deputy assistant secretary of public affairs at HHS (hat tips: Judy Stecker, Caitlin Oakley and Natalie Boyse) … Michael B. Williams of the OMB counsel’s office … POLITICO’s Sarah Karlin-Smith, Jon-Eric Olson and Alex Weiss … Doug Thornell, managing director at SKDKnickerbocker (h/ts Hilary Rosen and Kelley McCormick) … Stephanie Rigizadeh, MSNBC planning producer in D.C. … Case Button (h/t Gordon Bronson) … Stephanie Taylor, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee … Annie Dickerson … Chris Laible, CBS News Asia bureau chief based in Beijing … Theo Baker … Basil Smikle … A.J. Rice …
… Madeline Osburn, radio producer at The Federalist … Kevin Curran, managing partner of Rock Creek Advisors and senior adviser of Maverick PAC, is 39 (h/t Morgan Ortagus) … Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) is 69 … Andre Delattre, SVP and COO for program at the Public Interest Network (h/t Katie Murtha) … Andrew Fosina is 25 … Sam Hananel, associate director of media relations at CAP … Kandi Walker … Eliza Hanson … author John Aloysius Farrell is 66 … Chris Marston … Taylor Foran … AIPAC’s Jonathan Schulman is 37 … WTOP’s Debra Feinstein … Kate Noel … Lisa DePaulo … Anne Mosle … Danny O’Brien of GE’s global gov’t affairs team (h/ts Teresa Vilmain)
THE SHOWS, by @MattMackowiak, filing from Austin:
“Meet the Press”: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) … Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) … Claire McCaskill. Panel: Cornell Belcher, Al Cardenas, Carol Lee and Peggy Noonan
“This Week”: Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) … House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) … John Delaney. Panel: Jonathan Karl, Chris Christie, Heidi Heitkamp, Alicia Menendez and Reihan Salam
“Face the Nation”: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo … House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) … Julián Castro … Jeh Johnson. Panel: Michael Crowley, Jeff Goldberg, David Nakamura and Seung Min Kim
“Fox News Sunday”: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) … Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.). Panel: Karl Rove, Josh Holmes, Jane Harman and Juan Williams
“State of the Union”: Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) … Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.). Panel: Luis Gutierrez, S.E. Cupp, Karen Finney and Scott Jennings
“Sunday Morning Futures”: Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) … Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.) … Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) … Joe Lieberman
“MediaBuzz”: Emily Jashinsky … Beverly Hallberg … Richard Fowler … Buck Sexton… Bill Press … David Martosko … Chelsia Marcius … Charlie Gasparino
“Inside Politics”: Panel: Julie Pace, Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Nia Malika Henderson and Mike Bender
“Fareed Zakaria GPS”: Panel: Martin Indyk, Tarek Masoud and Robin Wright … Elizabeth Goitein and John Yoo … Nigerian presidential candidate Obiageli Ezekwesili
“Reliable Sources”: Panel: Katie Rogers, Gabby Orr and Carl Bernstein … Indira Lakshmanan and Mark Lukasiewicz … Joanne Lipman … Oliver Darcy
“Al Punto”: Julián Castro … Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) … Venezuelan Supreme Court Justice Christian Zerpa … Alfonso Cuarón
“The Communicators”: Susan Crawford (“Fiber: The Coming Tech Revolution – and Why American Might Miss It”) … “Newsmakers”: Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), questioned by Nick Fandos and Stephen Dinan … “Q&A”: James Grant
“Kasie DC”: Lanny Davis … Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) … Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) … Ryan Costello … Jon Meacham … Katty Kay… Michael Steele … Yamiche Alcindor … Joyce Vance … Alexi McCammond … Gregg Nunziata … Julia Ainsley
“Mack on Politics” weekly politics podcast with Matt Mackowiak (download on iTunes, Google Play, or Stitcher or listen at MackOnPolitics.com): AB Stoddard.