}

GOP embarrasses Democrats on procedure


“Vote ‘no.’ Just vote ‘no,’ because the fact is a vote ‘yes’ is to give leverage to the other side, to surrender the leverage on the floor of the House,” Pelosi told reporters. Pelosi’s plea follows an embarrassing defeat on Wednesday during a vote on a key gun reform bill to require universal background checks when the motion to recommit that 26 Democrats voted to support added language to the bill to require the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to be alerted if an undocumented immigrant tries to buy a gun.

Netanyahu uses familiar defense, claims corruption allegations are a ‘witch hunt’


The prime minister cast himself as innocent victim and escalated his attacks on the rule of law in the same way President Trump is tearing down institutions in the US. Rather than account for the mountains of evidence that point to his alleged greed and corruption, Netanyahu concocted an Israel in which the rule of law has been suborned to ‘serve the left and its lackeys.’

Trump ordered security clearance for Kushner


Less than a month ago, Ivanka Trump claimed Jared Kushner and her received no special treatment from her father in a obtaining security clearance. While the fact that that’s not true is obvious to anyone following the Trump administration, there finally seems to be solid reporting on the way the clearances were obtained.

Josh Rogin: Trump got played by Kim Jong Un


“Most likely, Kim’s offer was a poison pill, meant to signal just enough flexibility to get Trump to Hanoi but to ensure that the negotiations would fail. Trump walked directly into the trap and doesn’t even seem to realize it…Additionally, by accepting Kim’s claim he wasn’t aware of Warmbier’s treatment, Trump once again believed a dictator over his own officials while undermining any future attempts by Warmbier’s family to hold Kim responsible for their son’s death.”

Sweden arrests Russian spy on espionage charges


Personal information on the suspect has not been released but authorities say that the individual has been passing information to Russia since 2017. The individual was reported as working in the high-technology sector and was recruited by a Russian intelligence officer working under diplomatic cover.

House Oversight to interview Ivanka, Don jr., and others


The House Oversight committee will seek interviews with some of the individuals Michael Cohen mentioned during his six-hour long testimony. The individuals, which include Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump jr, Allen Weisselberg, and others, are sought for their knowledge of potential crimes or misdeeds within the Trump Organization mentioned by Cohen during his testimony.

Roy Moore eyes 2020 retry


Roy Moore wrote to supporters this last week that he may be considering another run for the Alabama senate seat he lost to Doug Jones in 2017. Sen. Jones is aware of Moore’s consideration, and even encouraged Moore to run again.

Trump walks from NoKo deal as China watches


As Trump walks away from his summit with Kim Jong Un empty-handed, the Chinese observe that Trump is willing to walk away from potential deals. As both sides work toward a trade deal, the Chinese will recognize that Trump is unpredictable and the outcome of a trade deal will be uncertain until the very end.

American to remain in Russian jail


In a fraud case that has garnered the attention of Vladimir Putin, Michael Calvey has been denied bail and house arrest. The American investor’s case has shaken investor confidence in Russia, as Calvey could face up to 10 years in prison on potentially fake charges.

Israel PM indicted


Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has been formally charged with one count of bribery and three counts of fraud and breach of trust. This is the first time in Israeli history that a sitting PM has been charged with a crime, and it is unclear what will happen moving forward.

Internet companies fail on disinfo…again


Google, Facebook, and Twitter have fallen short of their pledges to combat disinformation, three months before key European elections. The tech companies signed up to a voluntary code of conduct in October to tackle the spread of disinfo, aiming to stave off more heavy-handed legislation. Europe’s Security Commissioner Julian King criticized the lack of progress saying, “Sadly they have fallen further behind. They need to live up to the standards we are asking of them, and that they signed up to.”

Trump inaugural committee subpoenaed


The District of Columbia Attorney General’s Office has subpoenaed the Trump inaugural committee for documents related to its finances. The attorney general, Karl Racine, is investigating “whether the Committee’s expenditures of its nonprofit funds were wasteful, mismanaged, and/or improperly provided private benefit, causing the Committee to exceed or abuse its authority or act contrary to its nonprofit purpose.”

Serious flooding in CA wine country


One of the winter’s strongest storms brought flooding across Northern California’s wine country Wednesday, as some 3,600 people in about two dozen communities in the Russian River Valley were evacuated. Sonoma County authorities declared a local emergency and warned that those who chose to stay in their homes could be stuck there for days.

Stephen Collinson: NoKo no-deal ’embarrassing for the president’


“Washington’s decision to offer Kim equal billing with the world’s most powerful man — a priceless propaganda coup — in two major summits and Trump’s entire impromptu and ego-centric negotiating style are now open to question. Criticism that Trump is engineering summits with North Korea as big photo-ops that are devoid of substance looks more valid after his Hanoi trip. And his ‘art of the deal’ diplomacy has come up empty-handed again.”

An American Story: Centenarian vet receives thousands of birthday cards


A World War II veteran had a special request that has since turned into a global heartwarming gesture. A photo of Joe Cuba of Wichita Falls, Texas, with a sign reading, “I’m a WWII veteran who will be turning 100 on March 2, 2019. I would like to receive 100 birthday cards” has been shared thousands of times on social media. Since it was posted, Cuba has received more than 2,500 birthday cards. Cuba said he is humbled and had no idea his request would get such a big response.

Analysis: Inflating Trump’s net worth


During Michael Cohen’s testimony on Wednesday, Rep. William Lacy Clay asked him to explain how President Trump estimated his net worth before the 2016 campaign. Later, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez asked about asset inflation. According to Washington Post correspondent Philip Bump, “Cohen’s testimony included at least two significant future paths for investigation by House Democrats: Instances in which Trump and his company offered misleading financial information to banks and insurers.”

Scandal intensifies for Trudeau


A political firestorm surrounding Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau became more damaging Wednesday, as his ex-justice minister accused his top aides of repeatedly pressuring her to drop the prosecution of a global engineering and construction firm. “I experienced a consistent and sustained effort by many people within the government to seek to politically interfere in the exercise of prosecutorial discretion,” Jody Wilson-Raybould said.

Jonathan Chait: The beginning of the impeachment


“The persistent nagging skepticism that has surrounded President Trump’s legal travails arose again in recent days when reports claimed that Robert Mueller would soon publish his final report. If Mueller was almost done, he couldn’t have much more, and none of it would touch Trump directly. Michael Cohen’s testimony destroys that presumption completely. Trump’s former fixer alleges not only systematic criminality by his former boss, but deep culpability in the Russia scandal itself. There is no longer any serious chance that Trump will avoid impeachment proceedings. Cohen’s testimony should be seen as the first hearing.”

India-Pakistan conflict latest in fraught history


“When two populists go to war, there is every chance their people will suffer more than they will. These are the stakes that face both the recently-elected Imran Khan in Pakistan and Narendra Modi, of the Hindu Nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party in India, who is soon to face the electorate again. To avoid escalating their current confrontation, the two prime ministers will have to face down the powerful pull of historic rivalries and mistrust, coupled with the more immediate needs of their own political careers.”

Gaetz says sorry to Cohen


In an obvious attempt to avoid further charges of witness tampering, Rep. Matt Gaetz tweeted Wednesday night: “I’ve personally apologized to [Michael Cohen] 4 referencing his private family in the public square. Regardless of disagreements, family members should be off-limits from attacks from representatives, senators & presidents, including myself. Let’s leave the Cohen family alone.”

Cohen hearing a disaster for Trump & GOP


In their obsessive haste to discredit Michael Cohen, Jim Jordan and his Republican colleagues on the House Oversight Committee forgot one thing: to defend President Trump. “Truthfully, it is tough to ignore some of the gross immoral behavior by the president,” said one senior House Republican who requested anonymity to speak frankly. “The reason there was no defense is because there is no defense.”

Beto to throw hat in the 2020 ring?


Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke has decided not to run for U.S. Senate next year against Texas Republican incumbent John Cornyn and likely will announce a campaign for president soon. “Amy and I have made a decision about how we can best serve our country,” he said in a statement to The Dallas Morning News. “We are excited to share it with everyone soon.”

Shooting at veterans hospital


A 59-year-old U.S. Army veteran shot and wounded a doctor at a VA hospital in Riviera Beach, Florida, on Wednesday night. Larry Ray Bon, a double amputee from Michigan, arrived at the center in the morning and was combative for hours. He was about to undergo a mental health evaluation when he pulled out a gun and shot the doctor in the neck. The doctor subdued him, and was treated for his gunshot. Another employee was grazed by a bullet.

Trump believes Kim on Warmbier


Gullible Donald Trump on Thursday said he does not hold North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un responsible for Otto Warmbier’s death after Kim denied knowledge of the American student’s maltreatment. “He felt badly about it. He felt very badly,” Trump said. “He tells me that he didn’t know about it, and I will take him at his word.” Trump makes a habit of taking dictators and autocrats at their word.

‘No widespread voter fraud’ in TX


A federal judge ordered the Texas Secretary of State to ensure counties not remove anyone from voter rolls as a part of a citizenship review of thousands of voters. The judge noted in his four-page opinion that out of 98,000 on the Texas voter list only about 80 had been deemed ineligible to vote. “It appears this is a solution looking for a problem,” he wrote. The order temporarily halts any voter purge while the lawsuit plays out.

No deal: NoKo summit abruptly collapses


President Trump and Kim Jong-un abruptly ended their second summit meeting on Thursday when negotiations collapsed after the two sides failed to agree on even the first steps on nuclear disarmament, a peace declaration, or reducing sanctions on the North. “It was about the sanctions,” Trump said at a press conference. “Basically they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety, but we couldn’t do that. … Sometimes you have to walk.”

Rep Ben McAdams: The center left is alive and strong


“A moderate is not a liberal who lacks courage. Moderates see all points of view and listen for the reasons for different viewpoints while searching for pragmatic solutions that can move us forward. It takes immense grit and a steel spine to stand for centrist principles and coalition-building at a time when ideologues on the left and the right would reduce our options to all-or-nothing hashtags or an unrealistic, unaffordable grab bag of goodies.”

Russia drops the ultimate gaslight


Vladimir Putin’s spokesman says Russia is pursuing an autonomous Internet because Russian entities and people are constantly under cyberattack by the U.S. Sanja Kelly of democracy watchdog Freedom House says, “They are using this geopolitical angle to try to defend their own steps. But in reality it’s generally just the pretext for censoring the Internet even more so than in the past.” They’re “more generally concerned about retaliation” for their own actions, she adds.

Judge slams Stone’s CNN claim


District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson said Wednesday night there is nothing in the record to substantiate Roger Stone’s claim that a CNN news crew knew the time and place of the arrest and was provided by the special counsel’s office with an unfiled, draft copy of the indictment the court had sealed.

Two-week Brexit reprieve for May


British Prime Minister Theresa May won a two-week reprieve on Wednesday from British MPs, who postponed a threatened rebellion aimed at blocking a no-deal Brexit after she agreed to a possible delay to Britain’s departure from the EU. But that means British citizens and businesses will not learn how, or possibly even whether, they are to leave the EU until the final weeks, or even days, before the deadline.

Putin pal’s kid takes EU internship


Wait, what? As the EU devotes energy to combating Russian efforts to subvert their political systems, finding out the daughter of Vladimir Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov is interning in the office of a far-right French member of the European Parliament, came as a surprise. Some lawmakers said the internship fit into a pattern of Kremlin efforts to undermine the West, often with a twist of black humor. “This is a very specific kind of trolling,” said Aleksejs Loskutovs, a Latvian member of the parliament.

Doyle McManus: Why primary Trump?


“It might seem odd to accuse [Bill] Weld, [Larry] Hogan, and [John] Kasich of passion; all three are relatively moderate in tone and policy. As governors, they won support from Democratic voters and struck deals across the aisle. But that’s what they’re passionate about. They all miss the days when the Republican Party tried to make itself a bigger tent, championed compromise and sound management, and didn’t focus only on mobilizing an increasingly conservative base.”

Germany still trying to adjust to Trump


Halfway through Donald Trump’s first term in office, Germany is still trying to adapt. Trump has criticized Europe’s largest economy more than any other European ally. He has said that Germany is “captive to Russia” (ironically enough) and “the Germans are bad, very bad.” Those remarks had consequences. “The German public has reservations concerning Trump and there is a public mood to distance ourselves from the USA,” says Peter Beyer, Merkel’s trans-Atlantic coordinator.