Wednesday was the first day of public hearings for the controversial impeachment hearing. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for the official inquiry after ongoing pressure from highly progressive Democratic representatives. The inquiry is in regards to the president’s call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, in which the Democrats claim President Trump abused his power.
The Israeli government has decided not to allow two Muslim female congressmen to enter the country. Israel earlier accepted the two women’s request for the trip, but in a re-examination decided not to allow it. Blocking the two congresswomen has sparked a backlash and even outraged some conservatives.
During his testimony Robert Mueller’s most common response seemed to be “I’m not going to discuss that.” Although Mueller made it clear that his testimony would be limited, his constant aversion to seemingly relevant questions began to annoy lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. However Muller’s reluctance to answer many of the questions directed to him only slightly added to the fact that the nearly eight hours of testimony revealed nothing new and was more or less a waist of the nation’s time and energy. At the end of all the questioning it’s still clear Republicans think the entire investigation is a farce, and Democrats believe they have grounds for impeachment.
- “Mid-April” has arrived, and with it, the anticipated release of the Mueller report by the Justice Department. Attorney General William Barr believed he could complete redactions to the report according to this timeline. The AG said he’s also willing to testify before the House and Senate Judiciary Committees in early May.
- Special Counsel Robert Mueller submitted his long-awaited report Friday, investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, and possible obstruction of justice by President Trump. What is to become of the confidential report remains unclear.
- President Trump issued the first veto of his administration Friday, blocking a congressional resolution that rejected his national emergency declaration. The move came a day after twelve Republicans joined every Senate Democrat to send the resolution to his desk. “Congress has the freedom to pass this resolution and I have the duty to veto it,” Trump said at an Oval Office ceremony.
- Members of the House will vote Tuesday on a resolution to block President Trump’s emergency declaration, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Friday night. If successful, it would be the first time Congress has blocked such an action since the National Emergencies Act came in to force in 1976.
- President Trump’s planned address to Congress is back on. With the longest government shutdown in American history in the rear-view mirror (and another possibly ahead), the president will deliver his annual state of the union address, Tuesday at 9 PM Eastern.
- The president again hinted at announcing some kind of action toward a border wall during the address. When asked, he refused to rule a declaration of a state of emergency in or out, instead urging the media, and his audience, to watch the speech.
- The ongoing partial government shutdown entered its 22nd day Friday, officially becoming the longest in American history. The previous record was 21 days, between President Clinton and the Republican Congress, lasting from December 1995 to January 1996.
- Government workers have resorted to shopping at discount stores and selling their things on Facebook Marketplace while bracing for their first missed paycheck on Friday. Some 800,000 are working without pay or being furloughed as the shutdown continues.
- Conservative Republicans in Congress are privately warning President Trump not to try to declare an emergency to build his border wall. Members of the House Freedom caucus are worried both about the protracted legal battle and the precedent for a future Democratic president.
- The current turmoil in Washington has also caught the attention of credit rating agencies. Should the shutdown last until March, it could prevent Congress from raising the debt ceiling. Fitch warns that could cost the United States its AAA credit rating.
- Game theorists have long studied the sort of dilemma currently confounding Pennsylvania Avenue. So, who is to blame for the shutdown? According to FiveThirtyEight, we are. We, the voters, are watching, which alters the bargainers’ incentives.
- Nancy Pelosi become the first person since Sam Rayburn in 1955 to regain the Speakership, as the new 116th Congress was sworn in on Thursday. The Democrats retook the House after eight years in opposition, but Republicans increased their majority in the Senate.
- The new Congress will include a record number of women, and be the most racially and religiously diverse in American history. The vast majority of such gains came from House Democrats, although Republican Marsha Blackburn will serve as Tennessee’s first woman senator.
- Democrats face long odds at accomplishing much of their ambitious agenda, with the White House and Senate still Republican. However, they did pass a number of sweeping rules changes, and seated new committee chairs— who will now have subpoena power.
- One of Speaker Pelosi’s first official acts was to invite President Trump to deliver the annual State of the Union address on January 29. With no end in sight to the current funding impasse, it is quite possible that by that date, the government will still be shut down.
- Meanwhile, Senate Republicans’ top priority is likely to be confirming more of President Trump’s judicial nominees. The upper chamber already moved at breakneck speed over the last year, outpacing the last five presidents.
- Two full weeks (and one new Congress) after the federal government entered a partial shut down, neither congressional Democrats nor the Trump administration seem any closer to a deal. Instead, both sides dug in their positions on whether or not to provide $5 billion for President Trump’s border wall.
- At a press conference in the Rose Garden on Friday, the president confirmed a threat made to Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader Schumer to keep the government closed for “months or even years.” He also hinted at using emergency powers to bypass congress and build the wall.
- The Transportation Security Administration insists an increase in employees calling in sick since the shut down began is having “minimal impact” on the agency. This was in response to a CNN report that mass call-outs by personnel forced to work without pay had affected four major airports.
- The shutdown is also having adverse effects on everyone’s favorite government agency, the Internal Revenue Service. Tax refunds may be delayed, questions may not be answered, and those requiring proof of income for loans may not be able to receive transcripts.
- Will the Democrats cave, or will President Trump declare victory and leave? Politico Magazine sat down with eleven analysts across the political spectrum to collect their thoughts on how we got here, and how we might get out.