Aaron Blake: Stone arrest is deja vu all over again

Political reporter Aaron Blake calls out the GOP’s latest red herring — the handling of the arrest of Roger Stone. “One of the mainstays of the special counsel’s investigation into Russian election interference is the near-constant criticism of law enforcement from the Trump side. What better way to insulate yourself from potentially adverse findings than to undermine the entire process? But to accomplish that, conservative media and Trump’s supporters have employed a series of red herrings related to law enforcement procedures.”

Juan Guaido: Strength through unity in Venezuela

“Mr. Maduro’s time is running out, but in order to manage his exit with the minimum of bloodshed, all of Venezuela must unite in pushing for a definitive end to his regime. For that, we need the support of pro-democratic governments, institutions, and individuals the world over. It is imperative that we find effective solutions for the grave humanitarian crisis we are suffering, just as it is to go on building a path toward understanding and reconciliation.”

Tech cold war: Apple vs Facebook

Declaring privacy a “fundamental human right,” Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, slammed Facebook for violating Apple’s rules with a research app that allowed Facebook to snoop on users’ online activity. Facebook promoted the app through an Apple program that gives developers the ability to install apps for testing without going through the normal approval process. Apple responded by cutting off Facebook’s access to apps and updates that it was working on internally.

NC’s 9th district closer to resolution

The investigation into North Carolina’s alleged election fraud moved closer to a possible February resolution when Gov. Roy Cooper Thursday named a new state elections board to oversee the probe of the last undecided congressional race in the nation. The chairman of the new State Board of Elections said a vote could come next month on whether to certify the election of Republican Mark Harris or order a new election in the 9th Congressional District.

Klobuchar, Sasse introduce work skills bill

Senators Amy Klobuchar and Ben Sasse introduced bipartisan legislation that would help equip American workers with skills and training for the 21st century economy. The Skills Investment Act of 2019 would expand Coverdell Education Savings Accounts — tax-advantaged savings accounts for educational expenses — so American workers could use the accounts to pay for skills training, apprenticeships, and professional development.

White House whistleblower suspended

A White House security specialist has been suspended without pay for defying her supervisor Carl Kline, less than a week after NBC News reported Kline approved Jared Kushner for top secret clearance over the objections of career staff. In her 18-year career, she has not faced any prior formal disciplinary action. “It’s clearly reprisal for her whistleblowing,” her attorney, Ed Passman, said. “[It] has no basis in merit whatsoever.”

So who did Junior call?

Donald Trump Jr.’s mysterious phone calls to blocked numbers ahead of the 2016 Trump Tower meeting were not with his father. Records provided to the Senate Intelligence Committee show the calls were between Trump Jr. and two unidentified business associates, which may open up another line of questioning. Who are they? What was discussed? Was there any relevance to the Trump Tower meeting?

Senate rebukes Trump

The Senate, in a stinging bipartisan rebuke to President Trump’s foreign policy, voted overwhelmingly to advance legislation drafted by the Senate majority leader to express strong opposition to the president’s withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Syria and Afghanistan.

New Trump comms staffer to handle scandals

It’s probably a bad sign when you need a full-time person just to develop talking points and field media inquiries about all the investigations into your administration, but here we are. The White House has assigned one of its lawyers, Steven Groves, as deputy press secretary to handle the stepped-up oversight coming from Democratic-led congressional committees.

Canada’s plan to prevent election meddling

Canada will set up a special panel to warn voters of any attempts by foreign actors to interfere with a federal election set for October. “This is not about refereeing the election. This is about alerting Canadians of an incident that jeopardizes their rights to a free and fair election,” Democratic Institutions Minister Karina Gould said. “Our hope is that such a public announcement never happens.” Ottawa expects social media platforms to assist in their efforts.

Reform opponents get more PAC money

The 206 members of the House of Representatives who haven’t agreed to support H.R. 1 — a major democracy reform package that would make sweeping changes to the nation’s campaign finance, voting rights, and ethics laws — typically received about $150,000 more from corporate political action committees during the midterm elections than sponsors of the measure, according to a MapLight analysis.

Mueller requests time in ‘complex’ Stone case

The evidence collected in the Roger Stone case is “voluminous and complex,” Special Counsel Robert Mueller said in a court filing Thursday. The evidence includes “multiple hard drives containing several terabytes of information,” as well as search warrant documents, financial records, and communications in a raft of electronic devices spanning “several years.” The special counsel requested that U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson label the case “complex” in light of the scope of the potential evidence. Doing so would exempt the case from the time constraints of the 70-day “speedy trial period.”

Jennifer Rubin: GOP must learn to ignore Trump

“Indeed, it’s fair to say the only hope for the GOP and the country is to ignore Trump entirely and govern as the first branch of government — even on foreign policy, which is usually the province of the executive branch. On foreign policy, Republicans have started doing just that…”

Kimberly Ross and Andrea Ruth: Why we are quitting RedState

“We learned personally that writers who dare to examine President Trump or the MAGA mentality are purposely suppressed in private or even publicly criticized. In one case, one of us (Kimberly) wrote a piece that was critical of Trump supporters’ attempts to dismiss bomb threats as a liberal hoax. It was published, but any references to it on Twitter or Facebook were deleted and done so repeatedly without explanation. Only after speaking up did she learn the piece wouldn’t get shared on social media, and instructions came down from Salem management to stop discussing the incident with colleagues.”

Trump sending more troops to the border

Donald Trump spent the better part of Thursday morning on Twitter, ranting about everything from China to falsehoods about the “crisis” at the U.S-Mexico border. “More troops being sent to the Southern Border to stop the attempted Invasion of Illegals, through large Caravans, into our Country. We have stopped the previous Caravans, and we will stop these also. With a Wall it would be soooo much easier and less expensive. Being Built!”

So far, GOP is all talk no action when it comes to Trump’s treatment of US spy agencies

The same phenomenon keeps occurring whenever Donald Trump does something disgraceful: GOP lawmakers express “deep concern” over his actions, and continue business as usual. This time, Republican Senators are “deeply concerned” over President Trump’s reluctance to listen to his senior military and intelligence advisers, “fearing it could erode national security.” Will they finally do something about it?

Bloomberg is building a political organization to crush Trump

Michael Bloomberg is investing hundreds of millions of dollars into a data-centric political operation designed to ensure Donald Trump doesn’t get reelected. The organization would almost certainly become the biggest, best funded, and most powerful political organization in the country overnight.

EPA refusing to limit 2 toxic chemicals in drinking water

The EPA’s decision means the chemicals will remain unregulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act, according to a still unreleased draft plan that was signed off on in late December. Under the current plan, utilities face no federal requirements for testing for and removing the chemicals from drinking water supplies, although several states have pushed for their own limits.

What does Trump do all day?

Donald Trump’s schedule this week showed he took part in one intelligence briefing, a lunch with Vice President Mike Pence, and a private Trump campaign fundraiser at his own Washington hotel. Throughout January, the President averaged one event a day, begging the question…what exactly does he do all day?

Wave of Russian cyberattacks against the US continues

The hits keep coming as the 2020 election approaches. Russia’s military intelligence directorate (GRU) has been caught in a new round of data theft attempts aimed at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a D.C. think tank. “CSIS is under consistent cyber-attack from a variety of state actors,” said CSIS chief communications officer Andrew Schwartz. “We spotted this incident immediately and were able to work with Microsoft to put a stop to it.”

Dana Milbank: A whole latte trouble

“Americans have discovered, painfully, that running the country is not the same thing as running a real estate business based on dodgy accounting and stiffing partners. But running the country really is like making coffee. As goes Starbucks, so goes the nation… Contrary to his early utterances, Howard Schultz will not be president for just the 1 percent. He will also represent the 2 percent, the half-and-half and the soy — and he would leave room for milk! Only a man of his experience could unite this vast land, from the Vermont Maple Nut Muffin to the Michigan Cherry Oat Bar.”

INF Treaty negotiations fail

The United States and Russia announced this morning that they failed to reconcile their differences over a Cold War-era nuclear pact. The U.S. is expected to withdraw from the agreement, citing Russian violation of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

Maduro: ‘US invasion would be worse than Vietnam’

One week after the U.S. administration recognized an opposition leader as Venezuela’s interim president, the Latin American nation’s disputed leader Nicolas Maduro warned that the United States was in danger of turning his country into another conflict similar to the Vietnam War. “If the U.S. intends to invade us, they will have a Vietnam worse than they can imagine,” Maduro said.

Freezing cold continues in Midwest

The polar vortex is gripping the Midwest with some of the coldest temperatures in a generation, killing at least four people. The vortex brought wind chills of -66 degrees Fahrenheit in Minnesota overnight and wind chills of -58 degrees Fahrenheit in Wisconsin and Iowa.

NRA wanted access to Putin

A former NRA president hoped to win access to Vladimir Putin on a trip to Moscow, according to an email from one of the trip’s organizers. That organizer, Republican operative Paul Erickson, also said the trip could have “enormous diplomatic consequences.” The email, sent in November 2015, came just months before the Kremlin’s election meddling went into full gear.

Kim Davis may pay gay couples’ legal fees

Attorneys for Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin say Kim Davis, a former county clerk who stopped issuing marriage licenses because of her opposition to gay marriage, broke the law, and the state shouldn’t have to pay legal fees for people who sued her. A federal appeals court is scheduled to hear arguments Thursday about who should pay the lawyers for several gay and straight couples who sued Davis in 2015.

Mysterious illness strikes Canadian diplomats

Canada has confirmed a 14th case of unusual health symptoms experienced by some Canadian diplomatic staff and their family members posted in Havana, Cuba. The U.S. Embassy has also cut staffing after its diplomats suffered mysterious illnesses that some U.S. officials initially thought were the result of “sonic weapons.” Cuban officials have said they have not carried out or permitted any third countries to attack foreign diplomats on Cuban territory.

Never Trump in name only?

In 2016, a number of prominent Republicans made the rare political decision to oppose Donald Trump as their party’s nominee. They were known as “Never Trumpers.” Well, apparently never doesn’t mean never, as Rob Portman and Cory Gardner say they will support Trump in 2020. Others, like Susan Collins and Mitt Romney, won’t commit either way, while Ben Sasse and Lisa Murkowski won’t comment at all.

Trump-Pelosi showdown boosts Dems’ approval ratings

While Donald Trump’s already dismal approval ratings plummeted during the government shutdown, Democrats are experiencing their highest level of popularity in nearly a decade, a Quinnipiac University poll shows. Along the same lines, nearly half of American voters (49%) said they trust House Speaker Nancy Pelosi more than Trump “on issues that are important” to them, while 42% prefer Trump. Among independents, 49% trust Pelosi more and 36% trust Trump more.

Fired Trump employee to attend SOTU

Victorina Morales, an illegal immigrant who was fired from the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., after going public about her immigration status, will reportedly attend President Trump’s State of the Union address next week as a guest of Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman.