Jennifer Rubin: Robert Mueller’s da man

In naming Special Counsel Robert Mueller “Distinguished Person of 2018,” conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin lauds him for “performing his duties with…professionalism and ruthless efficiency,” and acknowledges that “his prosecutorial team and the courts prove week after week that the rule of law, while battered, hasn’t been demolished under Trump.”

Virus leads to slimmed-down newspapers

A computer virus disrupted production of the Chicago Tribune and other Tribune Publishing newspapers across the country this weekend. Some newspapers were published without features such as death notices and classified ads, while others were delivered a day late. The malware did not affect Tribune Publishing’s news websites.

Graham ‘feels better’ after lunch with Trump

Sen. Lindsey Graham says he convinced Trump to ‘pause’ on Syria while at lunch with the president on Sunday. After the obligatory ego-stroking, Graham gingerly explained why the U.S. mission in Syria should continue. He thinks he made progress: “He has not reversed his decision,” Graham said, but “the pause is to assess the effects of the conditions on the ground.”

Four-star Army general calls Trump immoral and dishonest

In an interview with journalist Martha Raddatz, the former top commander of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan, retired general Stanley McChrystal, criticized Donald Trump’s behavior and handling of the presidency, and said he would not take a job in the administration. “I think it’s important for me to work for people who I think are basically honest.”

Dems: United on Trump, divided on everything else?

Democrats will take control of the House in a few days, and a number of prominent Democrats are considering 2020 presidential runs, but opposition to Donald Trump might be the only issue that unifies them. Major disagreements on trade, Middle East policy, raising the minimum wage, and expanding access to health care may threaten the party’s legislative agenda.

John Kelly: ‘To be honest, it’s not a wall’

In an interview to the LA Times the outgoing White House chief of staff gave an inside look into how the meaning of ‘wall’ changed over time: “The president still says ‘wall’,” he said. “Oftentimes frankly he’ll say ‘barrier’ or ‘fencing,’ now he’s tended toward steel slats. But we left a solid concrete wall early on in the administration, when we asked people what they needed and where they needed it.”

They’re down with TPP…without the USA

The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership goes into effect on Sunday, reshaping trade rules among 11 countries, including economic powerhouses like Japan, Canada, Mexico, and Australia — with the U.S. conspicuously absent. “Our competitors in Australia and Canada will now benefit from those provisions, as U.S. farmers watch helplessly.”

Report: Russian ex-spy pressured Manafort

A U.S. sanctions list released on Dec. 19 named Victor Boyarkin, a low-profile former Russian intelligence officer accused of working for a Russian oligarch. Turns out, he was a key link between Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and a powerful ally of Vladimir Putin. “He owed us a lot of money,” Boyarkin says of Manafort. “And he was offering ways to pay it back.”

Trump inexplicably blames deaths at border on Democrats

On one of his frequent weekend Twitter tears on Saturday, Donald Trump placed blame for the recent deaths of migrant children at the U.S.-Mexico border squarely on Democrats and their “pathetic immigration policies.” The tweet represented Trump’s first public acknowledgment of the children’s deaths, which he attempted to twist into a rationalization for the border wall.

Outgoing governor gives ‘We the People’ the finger

On his way out of office, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed controversial legislation on Friday that makes it more difficult for citizens to drive the state’s legislative agenda through ballot drives. Opponents say it limits citizens’ ability to gain required signatures in densely populated urban districts, and may violate the people’s constitutional right to petition the government.

Trump golf club accused of immigration crimes

According to the New York Daily News, New Jersey prosecutors have collected evidence that supervisors at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster may have committed federal immigration crimes. Club managers allegedly procured fraudulent green cards and Social Security numbers and gave them to illegal immigrants who were employed by the club.

US prosecutor: Saudi Arabia helped a murderer escape the country

The Saudi government confirmed that Abdulrahman Sameer Noorah, a Saudi national awaiting trial for murder of a 15-year-old girl, had made it back to Saudi Arabia despite having no passport, and no apparent means of doing so. The Oregon prosecutor in charge of the case believes the only way Noorah could have fled had to include considerable help from a powerful state actor.

Paul Kane: An embarrassing end to two years of Republican control

“Time and again, Trump has paid lip service to these issues that Republicans consider wins and instead has focused on his demands for a border wall. Early this year, after the tax cuts took effect, GOP leaders winced as Trump focused on other issues and saw public approval for the legislation fade away.”

Trump’s new year’s party: One big conflict of interest

Will Donald Trump celebrate the new year by mingling with Mar-a-Lago members who will pay over $1,000 dollars for a chance to rub shoulders with the president, all while federal employees are furloughed? This isn’t the first time Trump has had to deal with impasses like this one, but the backdrop of a government shutdown is making the ultimate choice even more difficult for the president.

Child soldiers of the war in Yemen

A closer look into the devastation caused by the conflict in the region, and the toll it has on some of the youngest members of Sudanese society who are caught in the crossfire. Most of the fighters have to make the difficult choice between starving and fighting for a cause they don’t truly believe in.

Mystery grand jury case: Government files sealed response

The mystery foreign company asked the Supreme Court to intervene after a federal appeals court ordered the company to comply with a subpoena from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office, which required it to turn over “information” about its commercial activity in a criminal investigation.

House GOP wraps investigation of FBI handling of cases

House Republicans have sent a summary of findings of their investigation into the FBI’s handling of Hillary Clinton’s email server and the probe into alleged coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia. They recommended further investigation of bias, but also defended the Mueller investigation and offered no additional evidence to justify charging Clinton.

FCC investigating 911 outage

The Federal Communications Commission has launched an investigation into CenturyLink, the telecommunications company at the center of a phone and internet outage that disrupted 911 services across the country on Thursday and Friday. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai described the outage as “completely unacceptable.”

Whom will the shutdown affect next?

The government shutdown is expected to last for an indeterminate amount of time, so as it lumbers on, more and more will be affected by it. Initially, about a quarter of the government was impacted, with pay delayed to about 420,000 federal employees. However, thousands of others forced to stay home will likely never see any compensation for having to take off.

Bre Payton, 26

The staff writer for The Federalist died Friday after falling ill with H1N1 flu just one day earlier.