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Morning Briefing: Trump Remains Defiant, But the GOP May Be Softening; Chris Christies Torches Jared Kushner

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | January 16, 2019 |

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | January 16, 2019 |


The government shutdown heads into its 26th day today, and there has been no progress made between Democrats and Donald Trump, because there is not progress that can be made. For Trump, it’s all or nothing with the Wall, and both sides refuse to budge, although the blame has largely fallen on Trump and the Republicans.

Now the White House has called back in 50,000 government employees on furlough — labelling them as “essential” — which is good for people who want their food inspected, safer flights, and tax refund disbursements. It’s not so good for those 50,000 employees who are not only not getting paid but from what I understand can’t even apply for unemployment benefits during the shutdown since they’re, like, “employed.”

That said, a bipartisan letter is being drafted this morning asking the White House to reopen the government while negotiations continue over border security. It’s being spearheaded by Republican Senator Lamar Alexander, but the White House has already suggested they will reject it.

Meanwhile, the Governor of Texas and 22 Congresspeople from that state have also sent a letter to the President asking him not to use Hurrican Harvey relief funds to build the wall.

Related: The White House is now confirming that the economic damage inflicted by the shutdown may be double what was originally anticipated and could push the economy into a contraction.

As CNN’s Robert Costa notes, there may be only one way to end this shutdown:

— Speaking of Republicans breaking ranks, 11 Republican Senators have joined Democrats to oppose the Treasury Department’s plans to lift sanctions against Russian companies controlled by a Putin ally.

— Meanwhile, in news of the more gossip-y, salacious variety, Chris Christie has a memoir coming out later this month, and in it, he torches the White House for hiring “deeply flawed individuals — amateurs, grifters, weaklings, convicted and unconvicted felons” — and then takes aim at Jared Kushner:

I did everything I could to make sure my friend Donald reached the White House fully prepared to serve. But a handful of selfish individuals sidetracked our very best efforts. They set loose toxic forces that have made Trump’s presidency far less effective than it would otherwise have been. If this tragedy is ever going to be reversed, it is vital that everyone know exactly how it occurred.

Once Steve Bannon started unburdening himself … in his Trump Tower office, he couldn’t seem to stop. “The kid’s been taking an ax to your head with the boss ever since I got here,” he blurted out. “It’s been constant. He never stops. Ancient bitterness, I guess.”

In Bannon-speak, the KID is only one person. Not Donald Jr. Not younger son Eric. Not Ivanka or Tiffany. The kid is Jared Kushner, the husband of Ivanka Trump and the son of the real estate developer Charles Kushner, a man I once sent to prison.

That should be fun (it also may explain why Chris Christie pulled himself out of the running for Chief of Staff).

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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