What We’re Following Today
It’s Wednesday, January 9. President Donald Trump had lunch with Senate Republicans on Capitol Hill today to talk about the government shutdown, now in its 19th day. Members said the president urged the caucus to stay strong, and described him as “resolute.” Later in the day, Trump reportedly walked out of a meeting with Democratic leaders because they wouldn’t agree to funding a border wall.
Just left a meeting with Chuck and Nancy, a total waste of time. I asked what is going to happen in 30 days if I quickly open things up, are you going to approve Border Security which includes a Wall or Steel Barrier? Nancy said, NO. I said bye-bye, nothing else works!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 9, 2019
The Shutdown Continues: A federal-employee union has now filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration, alleging that it’s violating the law by requiring hundreds of thousands of public employees to work without pay, reports Russell Berman. Unpaid staff deemed essential legally aren’t allowed to go on strike—and not showing up for work could mean getting fired.
In Case You Missed It: President Trump made his case for more spending on border security during his address from the Oval Office Tuesday night, but he didn’t offer any new arguments—nor did he declare a national emergency. Notably, his remarks had the typical stylistic flair of his speechwriter Stephen Miller: blood, gore, and provocation. He also invoked the country’s opioid epidemic—an issue that has become integral to his border-wall rhetoric, but doesn’t seem to be an urgent part of his policy agenda.
Yikes: Paul Manafort’s lawyers accidentally revealed sensitive information about his contacts on Tuesday. It’s the latest in a series of missteps for his legal team, writes Natasha Bertrand.
Going Without: The federal government spends billions of dollars on higher education each year, but millions of college students struggle to afford food: A review by the Government Accountability Office found that at least two dozen recent studies estimate that around 30 percent of college students lack access to nutritious, affordable food.
Senator Susan Collins of Maine speaks with reporters as she arrives at the Capitol building in Washington on Wednesday. (Andrew Harnik / AP)
Ideas From The Atlantic
Why Conservatives Can’t Stop Talking About Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Adam Serwer)
“The focus on undeserving minorities receiving unearned benefits at white expense is not an incidental element of modern Republican politics; it is crucial to the GOP’s electoral strategy of dividing working-class voters along racial lines.” → Read on.
Trump’s Oval Office Speech Was Never Going to Succeed (Conor Friedersdorf)
“But Trump is an undignified, popular-vote loser with underwater approval ratings. After decades of tawdry tabloid headlines, flagrant greed, and countless lies, he is last among us in moral authority. And he makes daily demands on our attention like no president before.” → Read on.
Why Trump Is Trying to Create a Crisis (Peter Beinart)
“The real purpose of Trump’s speech wasn’t to persuade Americans to support a wall. It was to convince them that America faces an immigration “crisis.” He used the word in his first sentence, and then an additional five times. And most of his speech was a catalog of horrors, a collection of reasons that, because of illegal immigration, Americans should lock themselves inside their houses and pray to make it through the night.” → Read on.
What Tucker Carlson Gets Right (W. Bradford Wilcox and Samuel Hammond)
“Just as Carlson suggested in his monologue, conservatives need to think more seriously about the role that contemporary capitalism, public policy, and culture have played in eroding the strength and stability of working-class family life.” → Read on.
What Else We’re Reading
Conservative Evangelicals Attempt to Disentangle Their Faith from Trumpism (Eliza Griswold, The New Yorker)
Amendment 4: ‘A Day of Celebration’ in Florida as 1.4 Million Ex-felons Have Voting Rights Restored (Steven Lemongello and Skyler Swisher, Orlando Sentinel)
Elizabeth Warren Knows Something Other Presidential Hopefuls Don’t (Ruby Cramer, BuzzFeed News)
Cutting Carbon Requires Both Innovation and Regulation (Jonathan Thompson, High Country News)
Telling the Story of Small-Town America, Without Donald Trump (John W. Miller, 100 Days in Appalachia)
Denied: How Some Tennessee Doctors Earn Big Money Denying Disability Claims (Anita Wadhwani and Mike Reicher, Nashville Tennessean)