POLITICO Playbook: Edging closer to shutdown with Trump showing no signs of caving
THE GOVERNMENT SHUTS DOWN TOMORROW NIGHT AT MIDNIGHT. Unemployment benefits have already run out. But the president, comfortably enveloped at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, seems to be growing more indignant that the rescue package deal his treasury secretary cut with Congress is insufficient. He is showing no signs whatsoever that he is going to sign it. NYT’s Emily Cochrane with more on the state of play
TRUMP at 12:38 a.m.: “Increase payments to the people, get rid of the ‘pork’.” … at 12:36 a.m., linking to his video in which he announced his gripes with the bill: “Speaking for America!” … at 9:56 p.m.: “$2000 + $2000 plus other family members. Not $600. Remember, it was China’s fault!” … at 9:10 a.m. Saturday: “I simply want to get our great people $2000, rather than the measly $600 that is now in the bill. Also, stop the billions of dollars in ‘pork’.”
THE PRESIDENT’S AIDES and allies are working to try to get him to reverse his stance, with evidently little success.
THIS MAY BE THE LEAST LOGICAL fight of TRUMP’S presidency. In the past, he turned on Congress when they ignored him — see the shutdown after the 2018 midterm election, when they left out money for his border wall. TRUMP didn’t make this ask until after the deal was cut.
AND WHAT ABOUT STEVEN MNUCHIN, the eager-turned-scorned Treasury secretary, who seemed to revel in his prowess to make deals with Democrats. What a humiliating episode for him.
KEEP AN EYE ON THIS: In the Democrats’ $2,000 check bill from last week, they included language that would make it contingent on TRUMP signing the overall Covid/funding bill. THE LANGUAGE: “b) EFFECTIVE DATE.—The amendments made by this section are contingent upon the enactment of the COVID-related Tax Relief Act of 2020 and shall apply (if at all) as if included in the enactment of section 272 of such Act.”
PRESIDENT-ELECT JOE BIDEN criticized TRUMP on Saturday in a statement for his refusal to sign the Covid relief and government funding bill calling it an “abdication of responsibility.”
SUNDAY BEST … RETIRING SEN. PAT TOOMEY (R-Pa.) told MIKE EMANUEL on FOX NEWS’ “FOX NEWS SUNDAY” that he didn’t know if there would be a government shutdown. However, he made a damning prediction if TRUMP shuts down the government and doesn’t sign the Covid package TRUMP will be “remembered for chaos and misery and erratic behavior.”
— ON IF THEY HAVE THE VOTES FOR A VETO OVERRIDE: “Well, I think we’ll find out pretty soon. This legislation has been passed by Congress every year for I think about 60 years running. It’s when signed by presidents. I think it does put the right priorities behind our defense policy and it passed both houses with huge overwhelming votes. But we’ll see. That’s why you have the vote.”
— ON TRUMP’S PARDONS: TOOMEY said he agreed with MIKE FLYNN getting pardoned, but said in “some of these other cases, my goodness, we have tax fraud and bank fraud, witness tampering, obstruction of justice, but because they were close to the president they got pardoned.”
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-Vt.), who has been pushing for $2,000 direct payment checks, told JONATHAN KARL on ABC’S “THIS WEEK” that he hadn’t heard “a word” from TRUMP about the issue while they were negotiating the deal and that “everybody assumed, everybody, that Mnuchin was representing the White House.”
— ON IF BIDEN’S CABINET PICKS ARE PROGRESSIVE ENOUGH: “Well, what I have said many, many times is the progressive movement itself probably is 35 or 40 percent of the Democratic Coalition. And I believe that the progressive movement deserves seats in the Cabinet, that has not yet happened.
“So I would like to see strong progressives in the administration who are going to stand up for the working families of this country, who believe that health care is a human right, who believe we’ve got to make sure that public colleges and universities are tuition free and that we have to be aggressive on issues like climate change, racial injustice, immigration reform.” More from David Cohen
KARL also interviewed Maryland Republican Gov. LARRY HOGAN and asked him why more Republicans aren’t standing up to the president. HOGAN: “Well, I think more and more are and will. And I can tell you, there’s an awful lot of concern right now. I mean, Republicans were put in this position, a lot of them came to support this bill even though they didn’t like everything that was in it, even though perhaps it didn’t have all the things we needed in it. …
“And if the president wants to come up with more money to help more people, terrific. Let’s sign this bill now so we can start getting our unemployment benefits out right away, and then quickly pass another bill.”
ALSO WORTH WATCHING: REP.-ELECTS CORI BUSH of Missouri and JAMAAL BOWMAN of New York would not tell DANA BASH on CNN whether they would back NANCY PELOSI for Speaker. (h/t Lauren Fox)
Good Sunday morning.
THE LATEST IN NASHVILLE — “Nashville explosion investigation prompts FBI to search home,” by AP’s Kimberlee Kruesi, Michael Balsamo and Eric Tucker: “Federal agents converged Saturday on the home of a possible person of interest in the explosion that rocked downtown Nashville as investigators scoured hundreds of tips and leads in the blast that damaged dozens of buildings on Christmas morning.
“More than 24 hours after the explosion, a motive remained elusive as investigators worked round-the-clock to resolve unanswered questions about a recreational vehicle that blew up on a mostly deserted street on a sleepy holiday morning and was prefaced by a recorded warning advising those nearby to evacuate. The attack, which damaged an AT&T building, continued to wreak havoc Saturday on cellphone service and police and hospital communications in several Southern states.
“Investigators from multiple federal and local law enforcement agencies were at a home in Antioch, in suburban Nashville, after receiving information relevant to the investigation, said FBI Special Agent Jason Pack. Another law enforcement official, who was not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, said investigators regard a person associated with the property as a person of interest.
“Federal agents could be seen looking around the property, searching the home and the backyard. A Google Maps image had shown a similar recreational vehicle parked in the backyard when the photo was captured in May 2019; an AP reporter at the scene did not see the vehicle at the property in the late afternoon Saturday.”
— WAPO: “Gunfire, warnings, then an explosion: What videos show about the Nashville bombing,” by Joyce Sohyun Lee and Elyse Samuels
— MARGARET BRENNAN spoke with Nashville Mayor JOHN COOPER on CBS’ “FACE THE NATION” about the explosion. BRENNAN: “CBS is reporting that a person of interest in this explosion has been identified. Is there any update yet on the motive behind this bombing or who carried it out?”
COOPER: “Well, there’s no update yet, but I think everybody feels like there is a lot of momentum behind the investigation, and I expect a lot of answers — a lot of questions will be answered relatively soon. We’ve got hundreds of agents on the ground working very hard.”
THE CORONAVIRUS CONTINUES TO RAGE … 18.9 MILLION Americans have tested positive for the coronavirus … 331,929 Americans have died.
— ANTHONY FAUCI told BASH on CNN’S “STATE OF THE UNION” that he agreed with BIDEN that the worst is yet to come in the pandemic. “And the reason I’m concerned and my colleagues in public health are concerned also is that we very well might see a post-seasonal, in the sense of Christmas, New Year’s, surge, and, as I have described it, as a surge upon a surge, because, if you look at the slope, the incline of cases that we have experienced as we have gone into the late fall and soon-to-be-early winter, it is really quite troubling. …
“If you put more pressure on the system by what might be a post-seasonal surge because of the traveling and the likely congregating of people for the good, warm purposes of being together for the holidays, it’s very tough for people to not do that.”
— “Adm. Giroir: Not clear if Christmas travel will lead to surge in Covid cases,” by David Cohen: Adm. Brett Giroir said Sunday it’s too early to tell if a spike in travel during the Christmas season will lead to a spike in Covid-19 cases. ‘It really depends on what the travelers do when they get where they’re going,’ Giroir said on ‘Fox News Sunday.’”
— SOLVING THE DISTRIBUTION PROBLEM: “Churches, groceries and vans: How states plan to get vaccines to poor communities,” by Joanne Kenen
— ON THE GROUND: “Inside a Rhode Island field hospital, preparing for the worst of the pandemic,” by WaPo’s Lenny Bernstein in Cranston, R.I.
— IN EUROPE: “Believe in science:” EU kicks off COVID-19 vaccine campaign,” by AP’s Nicole Winfield and Vanessa Gera in Rome: “Doctors, nurses and the elderly rolled up their sleeves across the European Union to receive the first doses of the coronavirus vaccine Sunday in a symbolic show of unity and moment of hope for a continent confronting its worst health care crisis in a century.
“Even though a few countries started giving doses a day early, the coordinated rollout for the 27-nation bloc was aimed at projecting a unified message that the vaccine was safe and Europe’s best chance to emerge from the pandemic and the economic devastation caused by months of lockdown.
“For health care workers who have been battling the virus with only masks and shields to protect themselves, the vaccines represented an emotional relief as well as a public chance to urge Europe’s 450 million people to get the shots for their own health and that of others.”
— DEEP DIVE: “The CDC’s failed race against covid-19: A threat underestimated and a test overcomplicated,” by WaPo’s David Willman
WSJ’S TED MANN and BRODY MULLINS: “Texas Fracking Billionaires Drew Covid-19 Aid While Investing in Rivals”: “As the coronavirus pandemic and low oil prices walloped U.S. frackers this spring, Texas billionaires Dan and Farris Wilks got a $35 million relief loan to help one of their fracking companies stay afloat. At the same time, they were on a buying spree in the country’s oil patch.
“Since spring, businesses controlled by the Wilks brothers have hunted for deals among fracking firms going through bankruptcy and taken or increased stakes in at least six other companies, corporate filings show. But when it looked like the oil-and-gas industry would be shut out of a key pandemic lending program, they and others in the industry turned their attention to Washington, making an appeal for help in meetings with home-state senator Ted Cruz.
“The twin dynamics of acquisitions and government rescue show how the economic tumult caused by the pandemic has reshaped the landscape for a key U.S. industry. One result: The Wilkses have expanded their presence in a still-youthful industry where they first invested in 2002, soon to become billionaires as fracking flourished.” WSJ
THE LATEST IN GEORGIA — “Warnock and Loeffler work to consolidate voters for runoff,” by AP’s Jeff Amy in Atlanta: “One thing helping line voters up is the decision of the candidates in both races to run as tickets, with joint appearances and advertisements. J. Miles Coleman of the University of Virginia Center for Politics said the joint effort has helped Warnock wrap up Democratic voters.
“‘He and Ossoff have done a better job of running as a ticket,’ Coleman said. ‘I think overall that’s going to benefit Warnock and help him consolidate some of his support.’ With the candidates running as tickets, it’s unlikely the parties will split the seats. Two wins would put Democrats in control of the U.S. Senate with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris breaking a 50-50 tie. A split or two GOP wins would keep Republicans in control.” AP
TRUMP’S SUNDAY — The president has nothing on his public schedule.
BIDEN and VP-ELECT KAMALA HARRIS will meet with transition advisers.
NYT’S JIM RUTENBERG, NICK CORASANITI and ALAN FEUER: “Trump’s Fraud Claims Died in Court, but the Myth of Stolen Elections Lives On”: “After bringing some 60 lawsuits, and even offering financial incentive for information about fraud, Mr. Trump and his allies have failed to prove definitively any case of illegal voting on behalf of their opponent in court — not a single case of an undocumented immigrant casting a ballot, a citizen double voting, nor any credible evidence that legions of the voting dead gave Mr. Biden a victory that wasn’t his.
“‘It really should put a death knell in this narrative that has been peddled around claims of vote fraud that just have never been substantiated,’ said Kristen Clarke, the president of the National Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a nonprofit legal group, and a former Justice Department attorney whose work included voting cases. ‘They put themselves on trial, and they failed.’
“Yet there are no signs that those defeats in the courts will change the trajectory of the ongoing efforts to restrict voting that have been core to conservative politics since the disputed 2000 election, which coincided with heightened party concerns that demographic shifts would favor Democrats in the popular vote.”
— ERIC GELLER: “Forget the conspiracy theories — here are the real election security lessons of 2020”: “The foreign cyberattacks that so many intelligence officials feared didn’t upend the 2020 elections — but this year’s contests nonetheless showed how much the nation still needs to do to fix its security weaknesses.
“Paper trails protected the integrity of the votes in closely watched states, thanks to hundreds of millions of dollars in federal aid, but many counties still lack that protection. States mostly rejected the riskiest voting technology — internet balloting — but a few embraced it. And a pandemic-ravaged nation managed to vote safely and reliably, but election offices are still woefully short of money and staff.
“Perhaps most of all, this year also exposed the United States’ vulnerability to election threats from within, as President Donald Trump and other leading Republicans promoted discredited conspiracy theories to try to nullify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
“‘The big picture lesson from 2020 is that ensuring an accurate result isn’t enough,’ said J. Alex Halderman, a University of Michigan computer science professor and leading election security expert. ‘Elections also have to be able to prove to a skeptical public that the result really was accurate.’”
BUSINESS BURST — “Consumer Brands Bet Working From Home Is Here to Stay,” by Annie Gasparro and Sharon Terlep: “Consumer-product companies are expanding factories and revamping production lines, wagering that work-from-home habits like growing beards and fixing quick lunches will outlast the coronavirus pandemic. Millions of Americans spent much of the year working from home. While legions of employers are planning to reopen their offices, many have said they would let employees continue working remotely some or all of the time once the pandemic subsides.
“As a result, many food-and-consumer-products companies are investing in factories, equipment and brands to provide more of those items for years to come, seeking to accommodate consumers who are making more coffee, buying more casual clothes and tending beards with trimmers and balm rather than shaving them off.
“Conagra Brands Inc. and Kraft Heinz Co. are buying and upgrading equipment to make more at-home lunch foods. General Mills Inc. has added a manufacturing line for Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal at a Georgia factory, which the company said is one of its most expensive capital projects ever. Kimberly-Clark Corp. is converting a plant to make toilet paper for homes instead of offices, and Procter & Gamble Co. is adding beard-care products in addition to Gillette razors.”
Send tips to Eli Okun and Garrett Ross at [email protected].
IN MEMORIAM … CNN’S ANDREW KACZYNSKI: “Francesca Kaczynski, also known as Bean, Beanie or Beans, died December 24th of complications from cancer. She was nine months old. In her short life, Francesca was an outgoing, bold and curious baby. She had huge, deep brown eyes that followed whatever her parents were doing. She loved eating and being held close, particularly in the evenings.
“A Brooklyn-based Sesame Street fan, Francesca enjoyed taking long walks around New York City and Boston, playing with her toys and balloons, attending speech therapy, and ‘petting’ (i.e. grabbing) her cat Ryland. One of her favorite activities was to practice rolling in her crib from side to side. She loved seeing her parents, Andrew Kaczynski and Rachel Ensign, and greeting them with the world’s biggest smile and an excited kick when she woke up from a nap.” Medium … Fundraiser benefiting pediatric oncology and ATRT research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
ENGAGED — Ian Sams, a Democratic consultant and Kamala Harris and Hillary Clinton alum, and CadeAnn Smith, a contract attorney for the Justice Department, got engaged on Christmas morning at their apartment in D.C. The two met while students at the University of Alabama. Pic
WELCOME TO THE WORLD — Rodell Mollineau, partner at ROKK Solutions, and Sheena Mollineau, senior manager at PWC, welcomed Broderick “Brody” Franklin Mollineau on Monday. Pic
BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Laura Lott, president and CEO at the American Alliance of Museums. A trend she thinks doesn’t get enough attention: “There are significant shifts in the world of philanthropy, and they will have deep and lasting effects on nonprofit organizations, especially in the world of arts and culture. Whether it’s the younger generation and their giving priorities aimed at measurably solving societal ills, or wealthy philanthropists donating enormous sums to name buildings, museums’ reliance on private philanthropy is unsustainable. Many people are surprised to learn that museums receive very little financial support, on average, from federal, state and local government. With the ongoing disruption in private philanthropy, many organizations have a once-in-a-generation window of opportunity to reinvent themselves and attempt new business models.” Playbook Q&A
BIRTHDAYS: GSA Administrator Emily Murphy … Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) is 6-0 … … Geri Palast … Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D-Iowa) is 32 … Yael Belkind … Julie Benkoske (h/ts Teresa Vilmain) … Savannah Guthrie, “Today” show co-anchor and NBC News chief legal correspondent … former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) is 59 … Mercedes Schlapp … Kurt Volker is 56 … Trygve Olson, president of Viking Strategies … Brennan Bilberry … Andi Lipstein Fristedt of the Senate HELP Committee … Glen Carey … Bill Connor … Jacqueline Policastro, Gray Television’s D.C. bureau chief … Osaremen Okolo … Jessica McCreight Brown … Marc Smrikarov of Chatham Strategies and Swing Left … James Burnham … Andi Pringle … Emily Hytha, comms director for the House Agriculture GOP …
… Kamau Marshall, senior adviser for the Presidential Inaugural Committee … Jeb Fain is 35 … Joseph Grieboski … TPM’s Tierney Sneed … Joe Harris … Josh Litten … Moyer McCoy … Alex Baren … Alex Milwee … Holli Holsan … Karen Hughes, worldwide vice chair of BCW Global … Healthsperien’s Ethan McChesney and Eddie Garcia … Sheri Treadwell … POLITICO Europe’s Shéhérazade Semsar, Tim Ball and Nick Vinocur … Ben Lazarus … Arthur Kent is 67 … Dale Vieregge … Benji Backer, president of the American Conservation Coalition, is 23 (h/t Karly Matthews) … Jessica Bachman … Hemanshu Nigam … Mike Thomas is 52 … Barclay Palmer … Joseph Collins … Sarah Guinan Nixon … Andrew Chesley … Catherine Marx