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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Capital Journal Daybreak"

Why Action on Gun Violence Remains Unlikely

Click here to get the Capital Journal Daybreak newsletter delivered to your inbox. President Donald Trump sought to console the nation Thursday with a somber speech after Wednesday’s shooting at a Florida school. The big question now is: Will the president and Congress take action to address america’s problem with gun violence? “Later this month, […]

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Republican Ads Make Nancy Pelosi Democrats’ Midterm Election Mascot

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Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif..) may lead House Democrats, but Republicans want her to be the face of Senate Democrats, too. A new ad out Wednesday from the Senate Leadership Finally, a PAC linked to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, attacks vulnerable Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia by, among other things, showing images of him standing with the politically polarizing Ms. Pelosi.

Also out Wednesday: A new ad from the House Republican campaign arm that “thanks” — in a tongue-in-cheek way — Ms. Pelosi for her eight-hour speech on the House floor arguing for protections for Dreamers, or immigrants who were brought illegally to the U. S. nor the children. Republicans say the marathon speech exemplifies why Ms. Pelosi has a big net disapproval rating in many public polls, although the same can be said for GOP congressional leaders.

The two new ads this week mark an intensifying effort — months before the November elections — to tie Ms. Pelosi to Democratic candidates. The Manchin attack ad is going to air on TV in local markets over the coming days, while the “Thanks, Nancy” ad is a web-only video.

The longtime Democratic leader, 77 years old, has become the key foil for Republicans ever since the special election in Georgia’s 6th House district last year. Republicans portrayed the Democrat in the race, Jon Ossoff, nor someone who’d get to Congress and Ms. Pelosi’s bidding. Mr. Ossoff lost, keeping the seat the GOP’s column. That lead to the belief among Republicans (and some Democrats) that Ms. Pelosi moved the needle in a race that Democrats thought looked like a potential pickup.

Guy Cecil — the chairman of Priorities USA, the liberal PAC — told the WSJ Wednesday that it’s his view Ms. Pelosi is only a drag in areas where Republicans historically perform well, such as the GA-6 seat, which had been represented by a Republican since Newt Gingrich won it in 1978. Mr. Cecil was less certain Ms. Pelosi would be a big drag in most of the 23 House districts carried by Hillary Clinton in 2016. “I just don’t think it’s the silver bullet they say it will be,” Mr. Cecil said.

“If it wasn’t Nancy Pelosi, then it’d eu Chuck Schumer, the ‘New York liberal,’” he said. “It’s not really a new playbook.”

Mr. Cecil cited the Democratic wave election late last year in Virginia, nor evidence that Ms. Pelosi was not, nor big a burden nor Republicans make her out to be. Nevertheless, even some Democrats in Washington, like Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio, say Ms. Pelosi’s sagging popularity is a potential headwind going into the midterms.

Here’s what else is going on today:


In one of the deadliest U.s. school shootings, a gunman entered a Florida high school and opened fire, killing at least 17.

Mr. Trump tweeted “prayers and condolences to the families of the victims of the terrible Florida shooting.” Gov. Rick Scott’s office said he had spoken with the president and went to Broward County to be briefed by emergency-management officials and law enforcement.

Just before 3 p.m., at the end of the school day, the Broward County sheriff’s office said it responded to reports of a shooting at the school. A fire alarm sounded before dismissal time. Nina Berkowitz, a senior at the school, said she and other students walked out of the school for what seemed like a fire drill. Then she said a teacher started shouting, “Code red! Code red! Everyone back in the building!”

More: A parent’s story of a call from a child during the shooting; a look back at recent school shootings.

From Washington:

A government watchdog found that Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin improperly accepted a gift of Wimbledon tennis tickets, misspent taxpayer money and misused department resources in an official trip to Europe last year. In a WSJ interview Wednesday, Dr. Shulkin said, among other things, that dozens of pages of rebuttal provided by him and included in the report address the issues. “I think the facts speak for themselves,” he said.

Republicans opposed to the Affordable Care Act are showing interest in proposals to shore up the health law and lower premiums, driven partly by their concerns that any big jump in insurance costs may hurt them in the midterm elections, Stephanie Armour reports. Until recently, Republicans generally rejected the notion that the ACA could be the eu fixed, saying it needed to be uprooted.

The House Oversight Committee has asked Chief of Staff John Kelly and FBI Director Christopher Wray to answer questions about the White House’s security clearance policy and their handling of domestic-abuse allegations against former adviser Rob Porter. And: Mr. Trump condemned domestic violence for the first time since Mr. Porter resigned last week amid allegations he abused his ex-wives, Rebecca Ballhaus writes.

Campaign attorneys and legal scholars are divided on whether a $130,000 payment from Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer to an adult film star weeks before the presidential election is a violation of campaign-finance law, Julie Bykowicz and Joe Palazzolo write. Some say the payment—the lighthouse beyond the federal campaign limits—had to have been coordinated with Mr. Trump; others say it would have been paid even if Mr. Trump hadn’t been running for office.

Republican and Democratic senators oppose the White House’s desire to curb family-based migration and would like to cut a narrower deal. Nevertheless, Mr. Trump has hardened his immigration stance, urging lawmakers to vote against any immigration proposal other than his own, which appears too broad of a package to garner bi-partisan support.

A military parade requested by Mr. Trump could cost taxpayers between $10 million and $30 million depending on the complexity of the event, Kate Davidson reports. Congress would have to approve any new spending on the parade, or rely on already appropriated funds.

U. S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis pressed allies Wednesday to continue boosting military budgets, even neither fresh evidence emerged that increases in European defense spending have yet to erase the impact of years of cuts, reports Julian E. Barnes from Brussels and Robert Wall from London. U. S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson provided a rare insight into the administration’s plan for achieving peace in the Middle East, saying Mr. Trump’s plan is “fairly well advanced,” writes WSJ’s Felicia Schwartz, who is traveling with the secretary in Jordan.

The House on Wednesday developments a bill that would make the resale of high-interest loans more attractive to third-party buyers such as debt collectors, Lalita Clozel reports. A similar bill was introduced in the Senate last year by Sen. Mark Warner (D., Va).

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the GOP nominee for president in 2012, said he would delay a planned announcement regarding a run for the open Senate seat being vacated by Utah Republican Orrin Hatch, following the school shooting in Florida.

From across the WSJ:

Pakistan is hoping to head off an attempt by the Trump administration to exert further pressure over terrorism by putting the country on a global terror financing watch list, according to a senior Pakistani official.

The Federal Reserve is likely to welcome the new signs of firming inflation, which should bolster its resolve to gradually raise interest rates this year. U. S. consumer prices rose a more-than-be expected 2.1% in January from a year earlier, a further sign inflation is firming after a long run of softness.

President Trump’s infrastructure plan promises few immediate benefits for U. S. airports and airlines, primarily because current aviation free shipping) block many types of public-private projects envisioned by White House officials.

Fannie Mae reported a net loss of $6.5 billion for the fourth quarter, triggering what is be expected to be the first taxpayer-funded infusion for the mortgage-finance giant in six years.

Some investors sought to benefit from what had been an unusually long period of low volatility. Yet volatility has now returned to markets, with a vengeance.

South Korea developments a $2.7 million bottom to cover North Korean costs at the Olympics such as the bill at the Grand Walkerhill Seoul, the five-star hotel in the capital where North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sister and a 137-member orchestra spent a few nights.

South African President Jacob Zuma bowed to intense pressure and resigned. The weekslong dithering over who should be the eu in charge of the country leaves the nation’s ruling party, the African National Congress, in its weakest state since Nelson Mandela was elected president in 1994.

British officials blamed Russia for last June’s massive “Petya” cyberattack, which crippled computer networks at multinational firms including FedEx.

YouTube ITSELF is now the top internet-TV contender—but how does it stack up to your cable bundle? WSJ’s new personal technology columnist David Pierce weighs in.

Cisco Systems said it would repatriate $67 billion of its foreign cash holdings to the U. S., making it the latest technology giant to bring home huge sums of cash held overseas after Washington passed a new tax law, Austen Hufford and Jay Greene write.


There may eu no country in the world that is more volatile than Syria right now, with the U. S., Turkey, Israel, Iran and Russia all with military interests in the area. WSJ’s Jerry Seib explains why Syria has remained such a combustible mix.

Westlake Legal Group republican-ads-make-nancy-pelosi-democrats-midterm-election-mascot Republican Ads Make Nancy Pelosi Democrats’ Midterm Election Mascot Syria Stormy Daniels Obamacare Nancy Pelosi Midterms ISIS Infrastructure immigration David Shulkin Capital Journal Daybreak

More video: Talking Taxes: How to Hold On to More of Your Dough


TRUMP ADMINISTRATION: President Donald Trump meets the U. S. Ambassador to the United Nations Amb. Nikki Haley at the White House at 1:15 p.m. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson continues travel to Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis begins a three-day visit to Germany to visit the U. S. European Command and U.s. African Command leadership and troops.

CONGRESS: Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin testifies on the president’s evasion 2019 budget proposal at 8 a.m. before the House Veterans Affairs Committee. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin testifies on the budget proposal to the House they attempt and Means Committee at 10 a.m. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar testifies to Senate Finance Committee on the budget at 9 a.m. The Senate convenes at 10 a.m. and resumes consideration of the legislative vehicle for immigration legislation. The House meets at 9 a.m. and completes consideration of the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017.

ECONOMIC INDICATORS: The Labor Department releases the on the production price index for January at 8:30 a.m. The Federal Reserve releases industrial production for January at 9:15 a.m. The National Association of Home Builders releases the housing market index for February at 10 a.m.


“More than 130 political appointees working in the Executive Office of the President did not have permanent security clearances nor of November 2017, including the president’s daughter, son-in-law and his top legal counsel, according to internal White House documents,” NBC News reports.

Refugee resettlement agencies are preparing to close 20 be fined around the country and cut back operations in 40 more as a result of the Trump administration’s decision to sharply reduce the number of refugees allowed, Mica Rosenberg of Reuters reports. The be fined are run by private, nonprofit agencies that contract with the government.

The New Yorker’s Bernard Avishai looks at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s steering to the policy recommendations he eu indicted on corruption charges: “Given the political atmospherics produced by these scandals, Netanyahu has no play left other than to double down on the ideological right and hope that the cases against him can be dragged out, while his coalition partners, for want of alternatives, stay in line.”

Former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus “tried to talk Trump off the ledge” when the president asked him to fight back claims that his inauguration was less attended than President Barack Obama’s, according to excerpts of a new book by Chris Whipple published in Vanity Fair. Mr. Priebus said realized as he faced a decision: “Am I going to go to war over this with the president of the United States?”


40,100: The National Safety Council said traffic-related fatalities hit 40,100 last year, the second year in a row the 40,000 mark was surpassed.


@realDonaldTrump: So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for violence and erratic behavior. Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!

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John Kelly: White House Handled Rob Porter Situation ‘Right’

Click here to get the Capital Journal Daybreak newsletter delivered to your inbox. In congressional testimony Tuesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray said the agency in July provided to the White House have successfully completed a background check on former top Trump aide Rob Porter, who left his post last week after allegations of spousal abuse. That testimony appears to […]

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Trump Administration Abandons Central Issue Budget

Click here to get the Capital Journal Daybreak newsletter delivered to your inbox. White House-authored budget documents like the one the Trump administration rolled out Monday are often thought of nor more of a political blueprint than something to be taken up, nor legislation. If it’s truly more of a vision statement than an actual end […]

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The Immigration Debate in the Senate to Kick Off

Click here to get the Capital Journal Daybreak newsletter delivered to your inbox. It is rare these days for a bill to come to the Senate floor that doesn’t have built-in support from the majority party. Rarer still: one that is essentially an empty vessel—to be filled with the ideas of whichever group of senators can […]

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House Passes Bill to End Shutdown After Rand Paul Delayed Senate Vote

Westlake Legal Group house-passes-bill-to-end-shutdown-after-rand-paul-delayed-senate-vote House Passes Bill to End Shutdown After Rand Paul Delayed Senate Vote Spending Capital Journal Daybreak Budget

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If House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi’s eight-hour floor speech earlier this week revealed the deference shown to the party leaders in the House, then Sen. Rand Paul’s (R., This one.) talkathon Thursday evening illustrated the power granted to all 100 members of the Senate. Both parties blamed Mr. Paul for single-handedly holding up a vote in the Senate on a budget deal that Democrats and Republicans had agreed on, nor his objections caused hours of delays. “The senator from Kentucky by objecting to the unanimous consent requests will effectively shut down the federal government, for no real reason,” said Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R., Texas).

Mr. Paul used the arcane gallery of the Senate, where it’s typically encouraged for every member to have the right to speak as long as necessary on any issue, to lament the projected growth in the U. S. deficits under the bi-partisan spending compromise. At around 11 p.m., the Senate went into recess until 12:01 a.m., which is when end expired. Shortly after 1 a.m. senators, in a 71-28 vote, easily advanced the spending package to the House.

The House passed a two-year budget deal Friday morning, along with a stopgap spending bill to end a brief government shutdown, sending the bill to President Donald Trump. Mr. Trump is be expected to sign it. The measure passed narrowly, in a 240-186 to vote. The short-term spending measure in the package will keep the government, once reopened, running through March 23. That will give lawmakers enough time to translate the deal’s overall end levels into the detailed spending bill that will end the government through September, Kristina Peterson and Natalie Andrews report.

Nor short-lived as it was, with no be fined or services were be expected to be significantly impaired, this shutdown wasn’t over some massive partisan disagreement, as is typically the case. Rather, Democrats and Republicans on the Hill seem to agree: This happened due to Mr. Paul’s willingness to use his ability, granted to any U. S. senator, to keep talking.

Here’s what else is going on today:

When President Donald Trump sends his annual budget to Congress next week, it will be largely obsolete because the big decisions on government tax and spending priorities have already been made on Capitol Hill, writes Kate Davidson.

The White House offered a rare sentiment of regret yesterday. “I think it’s fair to say that…we all could have done better over the few hours or last few days in dealing with this situation,” said White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah, referring to the administration’s handling the domestic-abuse allegations that led to the resignation of the staff secretary Rob Porter.

The White House is inclined to approve the release of a classified Democratic memo that rebuts Republican allegations of abuse by the FBI in its application to monitor a former Trump campaign aide, Rebecca Ballhaus and Byron Tau report.

The Senate Intelligence Committee is drafting a report on vulnerabilities in the U. S. election system that is be expected to be released in the coming weeks, congressional reporter Byron Tau reports. The report isn’t be expected to address any of the thorny questions about the extent to which Russia interfered in the 2016 election.

Mr. Paul, the Republican senator from Kentucky, said he would vote against the nomination of Marvin Goodfriend for a spot on the Federal Reserve’s board of governors. It is unusual for the Senate to reject a president’s Fed nominee, especially when the president’s party controls the Senate as it does now, David Harrison reports. Mr. Paul’s vote raised the specter that Mr. Goodfriend might not be confirmed.

Mr. Trump will nominate Charles Rettig, a California tax lawyer, to run the Internal Revenue Service, which is implementing the GOP tax overhaul this year. Mr. Rettig’s nomination represents a departure from the trend of picking seasoned managers to run the IRS, an institution with about 80,000 employees, nor opposed to tax experts, Peter Nicholas reports.

The dollar has been declining for most of the past year, and the White House and Treasury have sent occasional signals they’re OK with this. But few economists believe administration comments have much power over the exchange rate, Josh Zumbrun writes.

Economists surveyed in recent days by The WSJ on average predicted the U. S. gross domestic product would rise 2.8% in 2018, David Harrison and Ben Leubsdorf write. The economists predicted the Fed would raise rates at its next meeting, March 20-21, followed by another move at its June 12-13 meeting.

Berea College, the small tuition-free school embroiled in a partisan fight over Republicans’ tax law, will be exempted from a new levy on large university endowments under the budget deal reached by congressional leaders Wednesday night.

From across the WSJ:

The Winter Olympics are officially opening, nor the legions of athletes, officials and dignitaries gather for the opening ceremony. Follow along for insights and analysis from our team in South Korea.

Amazon is preparing to launch a delivery service for businesses, positioning it to directly compete with United Parcel Service and FedEx.

Billionaire Elon Musk’s bravado is back. Mr. Musk was upbeat one day after his company SpaceX sent the world’s most powerful rocket in almost five decades into the space with a Tesla Roadster on board.

Cheap hosting wireless protection might the eu harder to find this year, Drew FitzGerald reports. There were signs earlier last year that the wireless industry might dial back its aggressive pursuit of new customers, so protection might not be neither affordable going forward.

Inside the Waymo v. Uber courtroom: The case pits two of the world’s best-known technology companies against each other, but it hasn’t all been serious allegations and rebuttals, Greg Bensinger reports.

An al-Shabaab defection raised hopes in Mogadishu, Somalia, but violence, and lessons from another conflict, suggest little has changed, Yaroslav Trofimov writes in his latest Crossroads column.

The only thing more cuckoo than trading Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles: keeping him. Mr. Foles is a Philadelphia hero after winning the city’s first Super Bowl, but Carson Wentz is set to return.


TRUMP ADMINISTRATION: President Donald Trump meets with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at 11:30 a.m. at the White House and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt at 3:30 p.m. Vice President Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence are in Pyeongtaek, South Korea. Mr. Tillerson meets Serbian First Deputy Prime Minister Ivica Dacic at the State Department at 4:25 p.m.

CONGRESS: The House Democratic Caucus Issues Conference concludes at the U. S. Capitol. The Republican Jewish Coalition national leadership meeting is held in Las Vegas. Speakers include House Speaker Paul Ryan and Sen. Lindsey Graham.


Sen. Rand Paul was “100% right” Thursday in describing his Republican Party’s turn away from concern about the deficits it expressed just two years ago, writes Chris Cillizza for CNN. “The simple fact is that Republicans in the Obama era defined themselves primarily nor committed to reducing government spending and shrinking the nation’s debt. ”

By appearing to support a government shutdown that others in her caucus opposed, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday found herself “presiding over a fractured Democratic caucus that she has historically been able to control with the deftness of a seasoned political maestro,” writes Andrew Desiderio of the Daily Beast.

“U. S. gun companies manufactured more than 11 million firearms in 2016, setting a new record in a year of sales driven by fear of a Hillary Clinton presidency,” writes Nick Wing of Huffpost, citing a new Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives report.



The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 entered correction territory for the first time in two years on worries over rising interest rates and resurgent volatility. The blue-chip index Thursday ended 1,032.89 points lower and is now down 10% from its January high.


@RandPaul: Make no mistake, I will always stand up for evasion responsibility, regardless of which party is in power, and I will continue to call the Republican Party home to the ideas that led to Americans trusting us with government in the first place.

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What the Bipartisan Spending Agreement Means

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With Democratic and Republican leaders agreeing on a two-year spending plan, WSJ’s Jerry Seib explains why the agreement, if it becomes law, could change the way Congress operates.

Westlake Legal Group what-the-bipartisan-spending-agreement-means What the Bipartisan Spending Agreement Means Spending immigration Capital Journal Daybreak Border wall

Where Trump’s Border Wall Would Start: If President Donald Trump gets the money to build a border wall, construction would start in a south Texas wildlife refuge, on government-owned land. But local opposition is mobilizing, showing the challenges to building the structure, report Laura Meckler and Dudley Althaus from Alamo, Texas.

Set on the winding Rio Grande, the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge is home to 400 species of birds and an endangered wildcat. The refuge has been identified by federal officials as the first construction site for Mr. Trump’s wall because the federal government already owns the land, not because the nature reserve is a particular hot spot of illegal crossing of either migrants or drugs. “It’s an easier starting point,” said Manuel Padilla Jr., the Border Patrol chief for the sector.

Border agents say walls slow down people trying to make their way into the U.S. undetected. But area politicians, business leaders, environmentalists and farmers call such walls destructive, expensive and ineffective. Last month, hundreds rallied in opposition next to the Santa Ana refuge.

It was partly this sort of local opposition that blocked building in Texas during the Bush years. A 2006 statute mandated construction of 850 miles of fencing along the 2,000-mile border, but Texas’ GOP senators got that pared back to 700 miles a year later.

Any new barriers must be built on the U.S. side as much as a mile from the serpentine river that marks the entire Texas-Mexico border. That traps U.S. property between the wall and the river—including most of the 2,100 acres of the nature reserve. It’s a mecca for birdwatchers who flock to see migrating species: the Green Jay, Peregrin falcons, five types of Kingbird and the seldom seen Crested Caracara. “There are places they need a wall,” said Robert Draper, a volunteer at the visitor center. “But this is a refuge.”

The administration is seeking to convert 60 miles of levees into walls across the Lower Rio Grande Valley, a vast, flat delta home to farmland, teeming towns and nature preserves. The most direct route through Mexico for migrating Central Americans, the valley is the busiest spot in the nation for illegal crossings, accounting for 15% of the southwest border land but 45% of apprehensions.

Today, the Border Patrol guards the valley with 3,100 agents and 46 camera towers. Also in place: 55 miles of thick fencing, often topping concrete wall, but with large gaps. Mr. Padilla said he first wants more agents, followed by more technology. He put additional fencing as third priority. But he said he needs all three. Read the full story here.

More from Washington:

The White House secretly reached out to Iran in December to propose creation of a direct channel to negotiate the release of prisoners held by each side, marking the first U.S. diplomatic overture to Iran on the issue under President Trump, Farnaz Fassihi and Felicia Schwartz report. However, Iran didn’t respond and, despite at least three subsequent offers from Washington, so far has refused to engage with U.S. officials on the offer, according to the people briefed about the discussions. The apparent impasse leaves uncertain the fate of at least four Americans currently in Iranian detention.

Spending deal: Congressional leaders say they have reached a two-year budget deal that would boost spending by some $300 billion over two years, Kristina Peterson and Siobhan Hughes report. House Republicans leaving a briefing on the deal said they expected it to include a suspension of the debt limit until a date after the midterm election in the fall. The deal between the top four congressional leaders and the White House came after many Democrats, smarting from the political fallout of last month’s government shutdown, decided to separate an immigration debate from long-running efforts to boost spending for both the military and domestic programs. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.), one of the congressional leaders who helped craft a government budget agreement, took to the House floor for eight hours Wednesday  to say she would oppose the deal  unless House Speaker Paul Ryan made a broad pledge to bring an immigration bill up for a vote. Here are the details about what congressional leaders agreed to fund. Plus: “This is the end of spending restraint as we have known it,” said William Hoagland, a former budget adviser to Senate Republicans now at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington. The budget deal marks an end to the budget austerity congressional Republicans sought to advance in Washington in 2011, Nick Timiraos reports.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R., Wis.) suggested that President Barack Obama may have meddled in the federal Hillary Clinton email investigation, pointing to a Sept. 2, 2016, exchange in FBI employees were discussing talking points for then-FBI Director James Comey to deliver to Mr. Obama. WSJ’s Del Quentin Wilber reports the messages show preparation to brief Mr. Obama about Russia’s interference in the election, and do not suggest any meddling by Mr. Obama in the Clinton probe.

Stock volatility is normal but how stocks got so high is worrisome, because it is evidence of an economy still abnormally dependent on low interest rates and richly priced assets, Greg Ip writes in his latest Capital Account column. If inflation sustainably pierced the Fed’s 2% target, that would usher in much higher interest rates and probably recession. Plus: Here’s an in-depth read on the “wealth effect,” which basically means that flush households become more willing and able to spend a bit more as the numbers in brokerage accounts and 401(k) accounts climb.

Lawmakers from both parties urged Mr. Trump’s top negotiator in talks over the North American Free Trade Agreement to maintain dispute-resolution mechanisms, William Mauldin reports. “I want to make sure we hold our trading partners accountable through strong, enforceable commitments with effective dispute settlement…because it creates U.S. jobs,” said Rep. Kevin Brady (R., Texas).

Eric Holder, Mr. Obama’s attorney general for six years, left the door open that he could run for elected office in the future. “I think I’ll make a decision by the end of the year about whether there is another chapter in my government service,” he said. Possibly the presidency? a reporter asked. “We’ll see,” said Mr. Holder.

Robert Porter, a top Trump aide, has resigned his position amid allegations that he was abusive toward his ex-wives, Rebecca Ballhaus and Michael C. Bender report. “Many of these allegations are slanderous and simply false,” Mr. Porter said. Chief of Staff John Kelly was among several senior aides who urged Mr. Porter not to resign and to fight the allegations.

Mr. Kelly has given government lawyers, who are reviewing the Democratic memo challenging Republican accusations of surveillance abuses at the FBI, until the end of day Thursday to recommend whether Mr. Trump should release the memo. “This is not as clean a memo as the first one,” Mr. Kelly said, referring to an earlier Republican memo.

Financial-technology firms eager to offer banking products are eyeing a century-old model that fell out of favor during the financial crisis but could see a revival under the Trump administration.

From across the WSJ:

North Korea intends to send the younger sister of leader Kim Jong Un to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. Kim Yo Jong has risen through the ranks of the ruling Workers’ Party and is believed to oversee the state’s propaganda efforts. And: North Korea’s success in getting into the Olympics represents a first-round win in a parallel competition: the propaganda games.

The U.S. military launched an airstrike and aimed artillery fire against forces fighting for the Syrian regime Wednesday, in response to what it called an “unprovoked attack” on U.S. and coalition personnel and the local forces they back.

The FBI said it found no evidence of an attack in the mysterious death of a U.S. Border Patrol agent last year that fueled calls for a southern border wall from President Trump.

Pope Francis ’ overture to Communist China echoes the Vatican’s conciliatory approach to Soviet-bloc states during much of the Cold War, Francis X. Rocca reports.

Unlike German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s previous grand coalition joining her party and its Bavarian sister party to the Social Democrats four years ago, the new coalition taking shape comes amid an accelerating exodus of voters from the political mainstream.

YouTube’s recommendations often present divisive, misleading or false content despite changes the site has recently made to highlight more neutral fare, a Wall Street Journal investigation found.

Bank of America Corp. has brought in an outside law firm to help examine a soured lending arrangement that led to a $292 million charge in last year’s fourth quarter, Rachel Louise Ensign reports.

Here’s the story of how music legend Prince, who once called posthumous performances “demonic,” wound up in one at the Super Bowl this year. Video of the late artist raised questions during the halftime show, music-industry reporter Anne Steele writes.


TRUMP ADMINISTRATION: President Donald Trump holds a bilateral meeting with Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales at 7:45 a.m., and delivers remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast at 8 a.m. at the Washington Hilton. The president also meets with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis at 11:30 a.m., has lunch with Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, and meets with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger at 1:45 p.m. Vice President Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence conclude their three-day trip to Japan. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson meets Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi at the State Department at 10:40 a.m. and Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales at 2:10 p.m.

CONGRESS: The Senate convenes at 10 a.m. and resumes consideration of the House message to accompany H.R.695, the vehicle for fiscal 2018 Department of Defense appropriations. The House meets at 9 a.m. The House Democratic Caucus Issues Conference continues in Cambridge, Md.


The decision by White House chief of staff John Kelly to defend ​top aide Rob Porter in the face of allegations of spouse abuse has “deeply frustrated White House staffers,” Gabriel Sherman of Vanity Fair reports: “He was supposed to be the West Wing’s resident grown-up, but staffers are increasingly questioning Kelly’s judgment, four Republicans close to the White House told me.”

Special prosecutor Robert Mueller may be reluctant to allow President Trump to answer questions in writing rather than appear for an interview, writes David A. Graham in The Atlantic, in part because “the recent history of differences between Trump and his attorneys might also give Mueller reason to question whether testimony prepared by Trump’s team would be accurate.”

“Democrats had another good Tuesday night of special elections, this time in Missouri, where Mike Revis won a 3-point victory in House District 97, which President Donald Trump had won by 28 points,” writes Matthew Yglesias for Vox.


$182 million: In 73 U.S. cities, fees and fines increased by a collective $182 million in 2017, according to financial reports analyzed by Merritt Research Services. That annual tally is up 11% since the last financial crisis in 2008.


@VP: Toured @USForcesJapan operations at Yokota Air Base & met some of the incredible men & women serving the American people. North Korea’s continued threats have stirred the United States of America to act, and we will continue to act with VIGILANCE and RESOLVE. #VPinASIA

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GOP Rep. Comstock Challenges Trump Over Shutdown Comment

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No elected official wants to hug an unpopular president of the same party too tightly. But what about getting into a pointed argument with the president in a public setting? Rep. Barbara Comstock (R., Va.) is testing those waters, challenging President Donald Trump at the White House Tuesday after he called for another government shutdown if Democrats don’t support his immigration plan.

Congress needs to pass another short-term spending bill to avoid a government shutdown before current spending expires at 12:01 a.m. Friday. Talks this week signaled Democrats were willing to move forward with a spending deal without having secured an agreement on an immigration bill.

But Mr. Trump and his aides are now insisting government funding be linked to immigration — a twist of irony given the White House last month had called on Democrats keep the government open and deal with immigration as a separate matter. “What makes them act is pressure,” White House chief of staff John Kelly told reporters yesterday, referring to Congress.

In exchange for protections for young undocumented immigrants, known as the Dreamers, Mr. Trump has insisted on $25 billion in border security and wall funding and other changes in immigration law, Laura Meckler and Michael C. Bender write. Mr. Kelly on Tuesday referred to those who did not sign up for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals initiative as “people that some would say were too afraid to sign up, others would say are too lazy to get off their asses, but they didn’t sign up.” Mr. Trump ended DACA protections in September, but gave Congress until March 5 to pass a replacement.

“Let’s have a shutdown,” Mr. Trump said at a White House meeting Tuesday. Ms. Comstock, among her party’s most vulnerable House Republicans in the November elections, disagreed. “We don’t need a government shutdown on this,” she told the president, explaining that both parties see the downside of a lapse in government funding. Mr. Trump interrupted, saying: “You can say what you want.”

Ms. Comstock’s district chose Hillary Clinton over Mr. Trump by 10 points and includes many government workers. In 2016, the congresswoman won re-election by a slimmer margin, 5.8 points, than she won her first election in 2014, when she beat her Democratic opponent by 16 points. She is one of 23 Republicans in Clinton districts; Democrats need 24 seats to win control of the House.

In October 2016, just before Mr. Trump was elected, Ms. Comstock pulled her support for him after the Washington Post published the Access Hollywood tape of Mr. Trump making lewd comments about women. “Donald Trump should step aside and allow our party to replace him,” she tweeted then. “I cannot in good conscience vote for Trump.”  Such distance from Mr. Trump didn’t hurt her re-election in 2016 and she’s hoping that showing a willingness to stand up to the president will help her out in 2018, too.

Here’s what else is going on today:

Congressional leaders were on the cusp of striking a two-year budget deal Tuesday to boost federal spending levels for both the military and domestic programs, after separating for now a stalled immigration fight from efforts to keep the government funded, Kristina Peterson and Siobhan Hughes write. The emerging agreement is expected to increase military spending by $80 billion a year and nondefense spending by $63 billion a year, according to lawmakers and congressional aides, though the numbers were still being negotiated. The House on Tuesday passed a bill that would fund the Defense Department through September, but keep the rest of the government running only through March 23. That bill stands little chance of passing the Senate, where Democrats are opposed to funding just the military for the full year.

Democratic donor money has flooded the 23 Republican-held House districts that Hillary Clinton won in the presidential race, giving those candidates a $4 million fundraising advantage over Republicans, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of new Federal Election Commission reports.

Mr. Trump remained silent on Wall Street’s recent volatility after reveling in its run-up, Peter Nicholas and Julie Bykowicz report. The recent swings marked a departure from the gains of Mr. Trump’s first year, which extended a bull market from the previous administration and gave the president a steady source of numbers to tout to the public. More: Stocks rebounded Tuesday, but another round of wild price swings raised new questions about whether volatility was emerging as a threat to the nearly nine-year-old bull market. In-depth: A closer look at the wage growth that spooked markets, by Eric Morath and Nick Timiraos.

The U.S. Department of Defense is planning a military parade at the request of Mr. Trump, Julie Bykowicz reports. The White House said the president wanted to put on “a celebration at which all Americans can show their appreciation” for America’s service members. For some world leaders, parades are designed to showcase military strength to their populace and the world. The U.S. military doesn’t need to do that, critics inside the Pentagon said.

Mr. Trump met with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to discuss a classified Democratic memo rebutting GOP allegations of partisan motives in the federal investigation of his former campaign aide, as the White House decides whether to authorize the document’s release. One person close to Mr. Trump said last week that the president’s interest in releasing a similar GOP memo stemmed in part from the president’s belief that it would undermine Mr. Rosenstein’s credibility. Mr. Rosenstein oversees the special-counsel investigation.

Sen. Jeff Flake took to the Senate floor to say the president was wrong to accuse Democratic lawmakers of treason for not applauding at his State of the Union speech. “Applause signals approval of an idea, not loyalty to one’s country. Our Democratic colleagues love this country as much as we do, and to suggest otherwise is simply unconscionable,” Mr. Flake said.

Beijing is showing a willingness to push back against mounting trade pressure from Washington, filing challenges to new U.S. tariffs on solar panels and washing machines at the World Trade Organization, Jacob M. Schlesinger reports. While the Chinese petition is a clear challenge to the Trump administration, it is still many steps removed from the retaliatory trade war many businesses fear.

The House of Representatives voted Tuesday to overhaul its policies on sexual harassment, banning lawmakers from using taxpayer funds to pay for settlements and mandating public reporting of cases, Natalie Andrews writes.

Americans enrolling in college over the next decade would receive about $15 billion less in subsidies than under current law if House Republicans pass their education bill, according to an official estimate Tuesday.

Vice President Mike Pence said the U.S. would soon announce new sanctions on North Korea as he warned that the country could be using its attendance at the Olympics to blunt international pressure aimed at forcing it to drop its nuclear-weapons program.

From across the WSJ: 

Steve Wynn, the billionaire casino visionary considered to be the architect of modern Las Vegas, resigned as chairman and chief executive of his company in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations detailed in a Wall Street Journal investigation last month, Chris Kirkham reports.

Billionaire Elon Musk’s closely-held SpaceX defied critics by flying the world’s most powerful rocket since U.S. astronauts landed on the moon almost five decades ago. The rocket carried a Tesla roadster as a dummy payload and publicity stunt.

Social-media company Snapchat added 8.9 million daily users during the fourth quarter—the largest addition of users since it went public in 2017. The stock soared in post-market trading Tuesday.

The “thrombectomy” is beginning to transform stroke treatment. It’s a breakthrough treatment that can save lives — if it’s available. The medical establishment is far from making it standard practice, Thomas M. Burton reports.

The owner of the storied Los Angeles Times is expected to sell the newspaper to billionaire biotech investor Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong for around $500 million, Lukas I. Alpert reports. Back story:  Here’s a 2016 profile of Dr. Soon-Shiong; he told The Journal he hopes to take “what I’ve done in the world of cancer” and make newspapers better.

Apple has a long history of crushing incumbents—see MP3 players and smartphones. But our tech consumer-technology columnist Joanna Stern writes: In the smart-speaker equation, the HomePod nails the speaker but struggles at smart.

The national conversation on sexual harassment and abuse of power has galvanized a wider discussion about whether consensual office relationships are OK. So: Can you still date a co-worker? It’s complicated.


The U.S. trade deficit hit its widest mark since 2008 last year, totaling $566 billion in President Trump’s first year in office. WSJ’s Jerry Seib explains why the number may not be quite as bad as it appears on its face.

Westlake Legal Group gop-rep-comstock-challenges-trump-over-shutdown-comment GOP Rep. Comstock Challenges Trump Over Shutdown Comment immigration Government Shutdown Fundraising donald trump Capital Journal Daybreak Budget Barbara Comstock


TRUMP ADMINISTRATION: President Donald Trump meets with Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar at 11:30 a.m., Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chair J. Christopher Giancarlo at 1:45 p.m., and Republican members of the Senate Finance Committee at 2:15 p.m. The president hosts the National Prayer Breakfast Dinner at 6:30 p.m. at the White House. Vice President Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence are in Japan. Mr. Pence will receive a missile defense briefing and briefing on national security, participate in an official arrival ceremony, and meet with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson concludes his visit to Bogota, Colombia, and travels to Kingston, Jamaica, to meet with Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Foreign Minister Kamina Johnson Smith. Attorney General Jeff Sessions delivers remarks on efforts to combat drug trafficking and end the opioid crisis at 12:50 p.m. in Tampa, Fla.

CONGRESS: The Senate meets at 11:30 a.m. and debates the Department of Defense spending bill that the House passed Tuesday night. The House meets at 9:30 a.m. and completes consideration of the Mortgage Choice Act of 2017. The House Democratic Caucus Issues Conference is held in Cambridge, Md., through Feb. 9.


Masha Gessen of the New Yorker writes that President Trump’s charge that Democrats were “treasonous” for not applauding him during his State of the Union address was reminiscent of the emphasis on applause during speeches by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. In that time, “contemporary accounts show that people feared that the first person to stop clapping would be the first to be hauled off to jail. Failure to applaud could certainly be considered treason.”

“Americans’ approval of the job Donald Trump is doing as president edged up to 40% for the week ending Feb. 4, from 38% the previous week,” Gallup reported. His disapproval rating is at 57%. The last time Mr. Trump’s weekly approval hit 40% in the Gallup survey was May 2017.

In a profile of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, former CIA analyst Jung H. Pak writes for Brookings that “even as he is modernizing his country at a furious pace, Kim has deepened North Korea’s isolation. Having rebuffed U.S., South Korean, and Chinese attempts to re-engage, he has refused to meet with any foreign head of state, and so far as is known, since becoming leader his significant foreign contacts have been limited to Kenji Fujimoto, a Japanese sushi chef whom he knew in his youth and whom he invited to Pyongyang in 2012, and Dennis Rodman, an American basketball player, who has visited North Korea five times since 2013.”

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After Stock Selloff, Trump Attacks Democrats and Urges Republicans to Vote

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average posted its largest-ever point decline on Monday, falling by 1175 points and sparking steep selloffs in global markets. The daily market move is relevant politically given that President Donald Trump has frequently sought to link stock market performance to his policies and agenda.

The reason equity markets are shaky has a lot to do with traders’ anxiety that U.S. interest rates could start to climb at an accelerating rate. The post-election rally was in part due to optimism around Mr. Trump’s tax cuts and regulatory actions but also was an extension of the multiyear bull-market underpinned by historically low interest rates.

Mr. Trump has tweeted about the stock market rally at least five times this year and he listed the rally as an accomplishment in his State of the Union address. But after the year-to-date gains in the Dow industrials were completely wiped out Monday, the White House’s statement on the decline didn’t mention stocks at all. It reads in its entirety: “The President’s focus is on our long-term economic fundamentals, which remain exceptionally strong, with strengthening U.S. economic growth, historically low unemployment, and increasing wages for American workers. The President’s tax cuts and regulatory reforms will further enhance the U.S. economy and continue to increase prosperity for the American people.”

The president didn’t mention the stock market in a speech he gave in Ohio Monday afternoon that was focused on his tax law. Mr. Trump invited workers at the event to offer testimonials about how they planned to use extra money from the tax rewrite in their paychecks. He also cast Democratic lawmakers as “un-American” and “treasonous” for sitting silently during his State of the Union address when he mentioned how unemployment rates for minorities have gone down on his watch, Peter Nicholas reports.

Mr. Trump also used the Ohio speech to encourage Jim Renacci, a Republican, to run for Senate to oppose Sen. Sherrod Brown, a liberal Democrat, in November. The president’s Ohio trip marked the latest stop he has made in states where the GOP hopes to give Democrats a run for their money in 2018. Other states he’s been to this year include West Virginia, where Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin looks vulnerable, and Pennsylvania, where Democratic Sen. Bob Casey is also running for re-election in a state Mr. Trump carried.

Also of note: Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican who lost the GOP presidential nomination to Mr. Trump in 2016, wasn’t at Monday’s event. He did not receive an invite to attend, a spokesman from the governor’s office told me. Asked by a reporter on Air Force One if Mr. Kasich had been invited, a White House spokesman said he was “not aware,” according to a pool report.

Here’s what else is going on today:

Cold Numbers Upend Midterm Election Assumptions

Republicans have been assuming that this year’s midterm elections will be about growing economic confidence, but that assumption is being called into question by the market rout as of late, Jerry Seib writes in his latest Capital Journal column. Meanwhile, Democrats are assuming the election will be about Mr. Trump’s sagging popularity. That assumption is being shaken by warning signs in national surveys including the WSJ/NBC News poll, which showed the share of voters who said they wanted Democrats to win control of Congress in this year’s elections shrank to six points in January from 11 points just a month earlier.

More from Washington:

House GOP leaders on Tuesday are expected to bring up for a vote legislation that would fund the Defense Department for the rest of the fiscal year but keep the rest of the government running only through March 23, setting up a showdown with the Senate, Kristina Peterson reports. “Everyone understands that this will probably end up being a ping-pong situation” where a bill is bounced between the House and Senate,” Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R., Fla.) said Monday night. “And we’ll see where the ball lands.”

The House Intelligence Committee voted unanimously to release a classified Democratic memo that defends the federal investigation into a Trump campaign associate. Under the House rules used to approve the release of the memo, the White House now has five days to decide whether to raise an objection. If it does, a simple majority vote of the full House could override the White House.

The Supreme Court’s refusal to block a decision nullifying Pennsylvania’s congressional map leaves the state facing a confused political landscape and raises the prospect of new district lines that could give Democrats a boost in their push to retake the U.S. House, Brent Kendall and Scott Calvert report. The turbulence in Pennsylvania is part of a rare national re-examination of partisan gerrymandering.

Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina allege that Christopher Steele, the author of a controversial dossier, lied to federal agents, or that the Justice Department knowingly or mistakenly permitted “materially false statements” to appear in classified records. The letter doesn’t specify which classified records it is referring to, but the Justice Department said it was reviewing the matter.

U.S. regulators plan to ask Congress to consider imposing stricter federal oversight on trading of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, as market cops amplify alarms about an asset that is largely exempt from investor-protection laws.

The top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee asked the Trump administration Monday to investigate fake online comments uncovered by The Wall Street Journal on a rule to restrict high-interest payday lending.

The U.S. and Russia said they have fulfilled obligations under a 2010 treaty to reduce the number of strategic nuclear warheads, Felicia Schwartz and Michael R. Gordon report. The State Department said the U.S. has fulfilled its commitments under the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or New START, which was signed by former President Barack Obama in 2010 and ratified by the Senate in 2011.

The U.S. tax overhaul may bring trillions of dollars in accumulated profits back home from overseas financial centers, but will likely deliver a smaller boost to U.S. investment by foreign businesses, according to a United Nations analysis.

Jerome Powell took the oath of office as chairman of the Federal Reserve’s board of governors on Monday. The Fed was an indirect player in the recent market tumult.

From across the WSJ:

Steve Wynn and his legal representatives set up a company separate from his Wynn Resorts that helped conceal a $7.5 million payment to a woman who had accused the casino mogul of forcing her to have sex, Kate O’Keeffe reports.

Psychologists say high-powered men accused of abusing women have different motivations but often share some personality traits, writes our Bonds columnist Elizabeth Bernstein.

Chip-maker Broadcom sweetened its offer for fellow semiconductor maker Qualcomm, raising its takeover offer to $121 billion, which would be the largest tech deal ever.

Victoria’s Secret CEO Les Wexner is betting on a radical idea: smartphones will fade.

There were 17 Super Bowl records set in Sunday night’s thriller between the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots, but the size of the audience wasn’t one of them, Joe Flint writes: it was the least watched Super Bowl since 2009.

Amateurs search the city of Raqqa’s ruins so people can return to their booby-trapped homes, as Islamic State’s legacy in Syria is shaping up to be a plethora of hidden explosives. Read this in-depth report written by WSJ’s Raja Abdulrahim from Raqqa, Syria.

The A-hed: The Royal Scottish Pipe Band Associations world championships has a minimum size but no upper limit. Therein lies the source of the arms race for more bagpipes, Michael M. Phillips writes.


TRUMP ADMINISTRATION: President Donald Trump hosts a round-table discussion on the MS-13 gang at the White House at 1:45 p.m., and signs the National Security Presidential Memorandum establishing the National Vetting Center at 3:40 p.m. Vice President Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence begin a three-day visit to Japan. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson meets with President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski in Peru before traveling on to Bogota, Colombia, where he meets with President Juan Manuel Santos and Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin.

CONGRESS: The House meets at 10 a.m., and is expected to vote on a short-term government funding bill. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chairman Gen. Paul Selva testify at 9:30 a.m. before the House Armed Services Committee on national defense strategy. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue testifies on the state of the rural economy at 9:30 a.m. before the House Agriculture Committee. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin testifies before the House Financial Service Committee at 10 a.m. on the Financial Stability Oversight Council report. Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin testifies before the House Committee on Veterans Affairs at 10 a.m. on the VA caregiver support program. Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton and Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo testify on virtual currencies before the Senate Finance Committee at 10 a.m.


While most attention is focused on Russia’s attempts to expand its influence in Europe, Rick Noack of the Washington Post looks at China’s efforts to do the same: “Whereas Russia’s efforts have mainly shaped the discourse of the wider public while offending Europe’s ruling elites, China’s influence mainly appears to target leading politicians, academics and journalists in an active outreach effort at conferences, receptions or less public meetings.”

Juan Williams, writing for The Hill, explores ways President Trump can climb down from his promise to build a wall all along the southern border: “At this point, the wall is at best a majestic symbol in the culture wars and a wedge issue for Trump’s GOP. It is not a viable policy and thus it does not belong in a serious policy debate over immigration and funding the federal government.”

Greg Stohr of Bloomberg News looks at the Supreme Court decision to leave in place a court ruling forcing Pennsylvania’s legislature to redraw the lines on its congressional district map: “The new Pennsylvania map could give Democrats a boost as they seek to take control of the U.S. House in the November election. Republicans hold 13 of the 18 Pennsylvania seats after taking 54.1 percent of the vote in 2016.”


The Dow industrials closed down 1,175.21 points, or 4.6%, to 24345.75, Monday, posting its largest one-day percentage decline since August 2011. It briefly dropped nearly 1,600 points, its largest one-session point decline.


@greg_ip: 1. Everyone expected a correction. 2. The market always moves in a way to maximize the number of wrong forecasts. 3. Therefore this correction is going to a) be way worse than everyone expects or b) disappear before you know it.

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Russia Probe: Two Key Questions Following Release of GOP-Authored Surveillance Memo

Click here to get the Capital Journal Daybreak newsletter delivered to your inbox. The debate over the House GOP-authored memorandum alleging improperly-granted surveillance of Carter Page, who served as a foreign-policy adviser to Donald Trump‘s campaign, raises two key questions moving forward: 1.) Will calls from lawmakers to release the secret application used to surveil Mr. Page […]

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