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January 10, 2018

A whopping 31 House Republicans will not be seeking re-election in November, NPR reports, including Rep. Darrell Issa (Calif.), who announced his impending retirement from Congress on Wednesday. The 2018 GOP exodus is a new record: The last time there was such a massive departure from Congress was when 28 Democrats left in 1994, and Republicans subsequently seized control.

Most significantly, Republicans in states won by Hillary Clinton are leaving in droves. "Vulnerable House Republicans would clearly rather call it quits than stand for re-election with a deeply unpopular agenda hanging over their heads," Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman Tyler Law told NPR. NBC News' Jesse Rodriguez made a similar point:

Twelve of the Republicans who will not be running for another term in 2018 will remain in politics, including Rep. Steve Pearce (N.M), who is running for governor.

Democrats would need to flip 24 seats to take back the House, with the Senate being more of a long shot; in the upper chamber, Democrats have to defend 25 seats and pick up an additional three in order to take back the majority. A Washington Post/ABC News poll from November found that hypothetical Democratic candidates are favored by voters against their Republican counterparts 51 percent to 40 percent. Jeva Lange

12:13 p.m. ET
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President Trump's former chief strategist and campaign CEO Stephen Bannon was reportedly subpoenaed last week by Special Counsel Robert Mueller to testify before a grand jury, a person familiar with the decision told The New York Times. This is the first known instance of a grand jury subpoena being used on someone in Trump's inner circle, and "could be a negotiating tactic," the Times writes, noting that Mueller "is likely to allow Mr. Bannon to forgo the grand jury appearance if he agrees to instead be questioned by investigators in the less formal setting of the special counsel's offices in Washington."

But as Solomon L. Wisenberg, who served as a prosecutor for the independent counsel that investigated former President Bill Clinton, observed: "By forcing someone to testify through a subpoena, you are providing the witness with cover because they can say, 'I had no choice — I had to go in and testify about everything I knew.'"

Bannon testified behind closed doors Tuesday in front of the House Intelligence Committee which, like Mueller, is looking for evidence of Russian interference in the election. Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told ABC News that he has questions for Bannon about Trump-related money laundering, among other inquiries. Jeva Lange

10:35 a.m. ET
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Americans are predictably polarized on whether President Trump aced or failed his first year, a new Politico/Morning Consult poll published Tuesday reveals.

While 34 percent say he should get an A or B for the last 12 months, slightly more — 35 percent — give Trump an F. Middle ground is sparse, with 11 percent scoring Trump's year with a D and 14 percent a C average. At the individual issue level, Trump scored best on the economy, jobs, and fighting terrorism and worst on draining the swamp.

Broken down by demographic markers, the poll results stayed consistent with past survey trends. Men remain more positive about Trump than women, as do Republicans compared to both Democrats and independents. Trump's grades have gotten worse overall since his 100-day mark, when Politico/Morning Consult conducted the same grading poll, but Republicans are actually happier with him now than they were then. Bonnie Kristian

10:27 a.m. ET
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On Tuesday, Japan's state broadcasting organization, NHK, sent out a terrifying mobile notification which read: "NHK news alert. North Korea likely to have launched missile. The government J alert: evacuate inside the building or underground." Japanese residents only had a very brief time to contend with existential questions about how to spend their final moments; the apocalyptic warning was retracted minutes later, CNN reports.

Japan's false alarm occurred just three days after a similar alert was sent by mistake to residents in Hawaii on Saturday, sparking widespread panic before it was rescinded. NBC News notes that Tuesday's alert was only sent to people who had NHK's app installed on their phones, and while NHK published the alert on its website, it did not air on TV. "Due to the quick response from [NHK]," NBC News explains, "there was limited social media commentary regarding the incident in Japan." By comparison, Hawaii's weekend nuclear scare — complete with blaring sirens — went out to basically everyone with a cell phone, and continued for an exhausting 38 minutes before it was deemed a false alarm caused by human error.

Exactly how Japan's false alarm occurred isn't yet clear. Kelly O'Meara Morales

10:21 a.m. ET

Negotiations concerning Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which indefinitely defers deportation for immigrants illegally brought to the United States as children, have stalled, but Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said Tuesday participants shouldn't be too worried.

Deporting DACA registrants, who are also called DREAMers, is "not gonna be a priority of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement to prioritize their removal. I've said that before. That's not the policy of DHS," Nielsen said on CBS. She added that as long as DACA recipients are properly registered and do not commit any crimes, they will remain low priority for deportation "in perpetuity."

Nielsen did not say whether she has issued formal guidance to that effect, something critics say is necessary for her promise to be meaningful. At present, DREAMers are protected by a judge's order directing DHS to continue processing DACA renewal applications for prior registrants, a reversal of the Trump administration's September decision to rescind DACA, which included a six-month deadline for Congress to save the program.

Watch an excerpt of Nielsen's comments below. Bonnie Kristian

10:06 a.m. ET

HLN anchor Ashleigh Banfield came to the defense of Aziz Ansari on her show, Crime & Justice, after a pseudonymous woman, "Grace," accused the actor of sexual assault in an article published over the weekend. "Grace" claimed her date with Ansari was "the worst experience with a man I've ever had" and that the actor repeatedly pressured her to have sex despite her objections.

Addressing Grace directly, Banfield said: "I'm sorry you had a bad date. I've had a few myself. They stink. I'm sure it must be really weighing on you." Banfield clarified, though, that "after protesting [Ansari's] moves, you did not get up and leave right away. You continued to engage in a sexual encounter. By your own clear description, this was not a rape, nor was it a sexual assault." Banfield added that if Grace was indeed sexually assaulted, "you should go to the police right now."

Otherwise, seeing that the encounter did not "affect your workplace or your ability to get a job," Banfield inquired: "What exactly was your beef — that you had a bad date with Aziz Ansari?" She concluded: "What you have done, in my opinion, is appalling. You went to the press with the story of a bad date. And you have potentially destroyed this man's career over it, right after he received an award for which he was worthy."

Watch the segment below, and read why Damon Linker says the Ansari takedown is a setback for the #MeToo movement here at The Week. Jeva Lange

9:10 a.m. ET

Republican Sen. Joni Ernst faced open ridicule by her constituents at an "otherwise friendly" event in Red Oak, Iowa, on Sunday after she fumbled an answer about which foreign countries President Trump is "standing up for," Shareblue Media writes. The awkward moment followed a question by Stanton resident Barb Melson, who asked if Ernst is "taking a stand or doing something about the damage Trump is doing to our neighbors around the world with his white supremacy talk."

Ernst initially deflected the question, saying she would rather talk about things that are important to Iowa specifically, but then suggested Trump is "standing up for a lot of the countries." She was interrupted by a shouted demand to "name a few."

"Norway," Ernst said, drawing open laughs.

Norway is one of the least ethnically diverse countries in the world, with 83 percent of residents being Norwegian and another 8 percent being from somewhere else in Europe. The country was reportedly offered by Trump as an alternative to "shithole" places like Haiti, El Salvador, and unspecified African nations during a meeting with lawmakers last week.

In Boone, Iowa, on Monday, Ernst drew further "groans from the crowd" when she told voters that she doesn't believe Trump is a racist "deep inside," the Des Moines Register writes. "I think he's brash and he says things that are on his mind, but I don't truly believe that he's a racist," Ernst said. Watch Ernst speak in Red Oak below. Jeva Lange

8:36 a.m. ET
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The percentage of U.S. adults without health insurance grew by 1.3 percentage points in 2017, or about 3.2 million people, Gallup reports, based on its Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index survey. This is first rise since the Affordable Care Act was enacted and the single largest increase in the uninsured rate since Gallup and Sharecare began measuring it in 2008, though at 12.2 percent uninsured it is below the peak uninsured rate of 18 percent in the third quarter of 2013, before the ACA's exchange markets and individual mandate took effect. The jump in uninsured adults was highest among young adults and Latino, black, and low-income Americans, Gallup said.

Gallup attributed the growing uninsured rate to rising premiums, insurers leaving markets, well-publicized and unsuccessful Republican attempts to repeal the ACA, more succesfull attempts to undermine it, and the common perception that the GOP would scrap the individual mandate, which they did in their tax overhaul. Republicans are looking to change the funding mechanisms for Medicaid and Medicare, and "with less federal assistance from these programs to help offset the rising cost of health insurance, fewer Americans may be able to afford health insurance," Gallup predicted. Gallup conducted more than 25,000 interviews from October through December, and the margin of sampling error is ± 1 percentage points. Peter Weber

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