President Donald Trump has been tweeting up a storm over the last few days about Russia and the ongoing investigation into its efforts to influence the 2016 election. In vintage @RealDonaldTrump fashion, the president has cited Fox & Friends over the public assurances of the National Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, revisited Hillary Clinton being given the question to a Democratic primary debate, and seemingly directed the FBI to investigate his claims. These sideshows are doing little to boost his support among the American public, which has sagged to near-record levels, nor do they help reset his beleaguered legislative agenda. The first 100 days marker is less than four weeks away, and Trump is all-but-guaranteed to hit it without any substantial legislative achievement.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is prepared to send Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court to the full Senate Monday. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has set the final vote for Friday, but Democrats are pledging to filibuster, creating a high-stakes showdown that could dramatically reshape the U.S. Senate. Republicans have pledged to use the “nuclear option” to approve Gorsuch, eliminating the requirement for 60 votes on a Supreme Court nomination. The rationale for Democrats is as short-sighted as it is flawed: As they seek to be seen as opposing Trump at every turn, Republicans will still be able to confirm Gorsuch if they rewrite the chamber’s rules over Democratic objection. (And for all the Democratic crowing about precedent, they were the ones who first went “nuclear” on non-Supreme Court judicial nominees in the Obama era.) It would remove one of the most significant moderating forces on the high court, setting the stage for more extreme judges from both parties in the future. Some Republican lawmakers worry that it could also lead to the death of the filibuster on legislation, in the words of one GOP lawmaker, “turning the Senate into a six-year House term.”
White House signals a shift on Syria’s Assad. How PBS is fighting back. And we’re 25 days from a potential government shut down.
Here are your must reads:
Also failed to disclose income from Turkey and Russia [TIME]
TIME’s Tessa Berenson on the Republicans who just can’t wait to go nuclear
TIME’s Maya Rhodan on how public broadcasters are betting on their viewers
There’s a method to the chaos [Associated Press]
In interview he warns China against inaction [Financial Times]
A foreign policy shift under Trump [Yahoo]
“No, we don’t track every single person who’s on the 18 acres.” —White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer explaining why he couldn’t account for the whereabouts of House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes.
“Nope.” —Spicer asked Friday whether the White House is concerned that General Flynn has damaging information about the President, his aides, his associates about what occurred during the campaign with respect to Russia.
Bits and Bites
US ambassador to UN says no question of Russian interference [Associated Press]
Jared Kushner Visits Iraq on Invitation From Joint Chiefs Chairman [New York Times]
Trump’s Changing Trust, Annotated [ProPublica]