President Donald Trump gets to be a Davos man, at least for a few days. And, from Paris to Pittsburgh, the Trump effect is on full display – with the president sometimes finding friends in unexpected places.
From its very existence to its theme for this year – “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World” — the World Economic Forum stands as an implicit rebuke to the sentiments Trump has sought to bring to the world stage. Trump is set to challenge Davos, but Davos will also challenge Trump.
The president’s visit comes at a time of uncommon policy challenges at home. He is seeking to craft an immigration plan with major consequences for the American economy and the nation’s standing in the world, while mulling a trade war that the Davos crowd would most certainly want to avoid.
Trump may enjoy the trappings of Davos, and even some of the company. The fractured world is no less unified, but neither is it as splintered as some in Davos might have expected one year into the Trump era.
The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks
Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Isn’t that the saying?
But what about when the “will” seems little more than a politician’s promise?
President Donald Trump on Wednesday reiterated two of his big aspirations, telling reporters he wanted to sign a bill providing long-term solutions for Dreamers and that he wants to talk as soon as possible to special counsel Robert Mueller’s team of investigators.
What the president did not comment on though is what, if anything, he is doing to make those desires a reality.
That’s glaring, because presidents in particular have a lot of (albeit not unlimited) tools and means to make sure things they think are good ideas actually come to pass.
It is a long-time trope of the president’s, actually, to say something so many times out loud he convinces folks it must be in the works.
The question for several weeks has not only been if the president wants to sign a bill to help those 800,000 young immigrants who came to the country as children, but what is he doing to help a bill work its way through congress?
And, as for testifying under oath to the special counsel’s team, the president acknowledged briefly and conveniently at the end of his Q&A that it would be up to his lawyers “and all of that.”
The TIP with Ali Rogin
Just over a year into the Trump administration, Vice President Mike Pence has cast eight tie-breaking votes in the Senate.
On Wednesday night, he was brought in to push the confirmation of Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback over the finish line as ambassador for religious freedom, a role within the Office of International Religious Freedom that monitors religious persecution worldwide. It was just hours after he touched down in Washington, D.C., from a big trip to the Middle East.
He actually cast two votes — one to end debate and the other to confirm him.
Of Pence’s five closest predecessors, only Vice President Dick Cheney cast as many tie-breaking votes, but he did so over the course of seven years.
The fact that Pence has already been called in for the same amount in just one year indicates both how deeply divided the Senate is and how polarizing some of President Trump’s nominees have been: Pence was also called up for the Betsy Devos confirmation vote.
The Senate already has a different makeup than at the beginning of last year. Republicans lost a Senate seat in Alabama, giving the GOP a slimmer, 51-49 majority, and several senators are facing health issues that may keep them from the chamber.
That means Pence could be called in even more going forward.
But he still has a while to catch up with the all-time vice presidential tie-breaker. That distinction goes to John C. Calhoun, who broke 31 Senate tied votes between 1826 and 1832.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I’m looking forward to it actually. Just so you understand. There’s been no collusion whatsoever. There’s no obstruction whatsoever. And I’m looking forward to it,” Trump said in response to a question on whether the president is willing to talk to special counsel Robert Mueller. “I would love to do that. I’d like to do it as soon as possible,” he added.
And, he said, he will “do it under oath.”
NEED TO READ
Trump: I am willing to talk to Mueller under oath. Until today the president had not fully committed to an interview with Mueller under oath, saying two weeks ago that it was “unlikely.” (Jonathan Karl) http://abcn.ws/2DDgYB5
The full ‘secret society’ text between FBI agents: Was it meant in jest? For the past 24 hours, a number of Republican lawmakers have been suggesting that a months-old text message between two FBI officials reveals a “secret society” of federal law enforcement officials clandestinely plotting against President Donald Trump. (Mike Levine) http://abcn.ws/2DGEgFn
Drug sellers exploit the Postal Service to ship fentanyl to U.S.: report. Sellers of illicit fentanyl in China prefer to ship through the U.S. Postal Service because delivery is “basically guaranteed,” according to a new Congressional investigation. (Geneva Sands) http://abcn.ws/2rAepdj
Trump says he doesn’t remember asking acting FBI director about 2016 vote. “The president and Andrew McCabe have had limited and pretty nonsubstantive conversations,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said when asked about the story at Wednesday’s press briefing. “I can’t get into the details of what was discussed. I wasn’t there.” (Adam Kelsey) http://abcn.ws/2FbRuHc
Trump says he could push back DACA deadline, wants $25 billion for border wall. President Trump Wednesday expressed optimism about reaching a bipartisan deal on immigration, suggesting he is even open to granting citizenship to Dreamers after a 10- to 12-year period as part of a comprehensive plan. (Stephanie Ebbs) http://abcn.ws/2DAgfg0
DOJ warns House Intel chairman about purported secret memo on FBI. The Justice Department is urging the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, whose staff has compiled a secret memorandum purporting to show “shocking” political bias within the FBI, to give the department a chance to see the memo and warning that first sharing information from the memo with reporters would be “unprecedented” and dangerous. (Mike Levine) http://abcn.ws/2E7HZtn
Mayors of 3 largest US cities snub WH meeting after DOJ immigration threat. The mayors skipped a previously scheduled meeting at the White House receiving a letter — on the same day of the meeting — from the Department of Justice threatening sanctuary cities. (John Verhovek) http://abcn.ws/2rFcGDo
Pennsylvania congressman denies sexually harassing aide. Rep. Patrick Meehan is the latest lawmaker facing an ethics investigation after he purportedly used taxpayer dollars to finance a settlement with an aide who alleged the four-term Pennsylvania Republican sexually harassed her and became hostile when she turned him down. (John Parkinson) http://abcn.ws/2rBmGhj
West Virginia’s Manchin confirms he’ll seek re-election, renewing Democratic hopes. Manchin warned Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and other fellow Democrats about his frustrations with Washington politics Tuesday before conceding he plans to run again. (Kendall Karson) http://abcn.ws/2DCtJf7
‘A grave threat’: Lawmaker sounds alarm over deficiencies in security clearance process. Congressional investigators have learned that the Department of Defense approved 165 interim security clearances over a three-year time period for access to the government’s sensitive and secret information for people who later failed their background checks, according to a letter released on Wednesday. (Matthew Mosk and Pete Madden) http://abcn.ws/2DyPtZc
Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates hires lawyer known for negotiating plea deals with feds. Rick Gates, an embattled former campaign aide to President Trump, has added a veteran Washington defense attorney to his legal team to oversee discussions with the special counsel investigating possible collusion with Russia. (Matthew Mosk and John Santucci) http://abcn.ws/2ncvkgO
Senate confirms Alex Azar as new Health and Human Services secretary. It has been almost four months since Tom Price stepped down as secretary of HHS after a Politico investigation showing his use of private jets for official department business became an embarrassment for President Donald Trump and the White House. (Meridith McGraw) http://abcn.ws/2DycKqj
White evangelicals — who strongly supported Trump in 2016 — may be neglecting their future in longing for the past, writes Daniel Cox of FiveThirtyEight. “As a group, they’re drifting further away — politically and culturally — from the American mainstream,” he says. http://53eig.ht/2BtEQ4g
The Washington Post reports that the former head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Richard Cordray, called his successor, Mick Mulvaney, a “squatter” Wednesday in a blistering rebuke of his leadership. Adding, “The fish rots from the head down.” http://wapo.st/2DyYWvL