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January 10, 2019

"President Trump has long said that keeping opponents off balance is the best way to win a negotiation," The Washington Post reports. "But nearly three weeks into a partial government shutdown, his usual playbook doesn't seem to be working. ... As he digs in against an emboldened Democratic opposition, Trump has found that his go-to arsenal of bluster, falsehoods, threats, and theatrics has laid bare his shortcomings as a negotiator." At this point, he has three options left.

1. Declare a national emergency, then victory, then blame the judges
The "increasingly likely option" for Trump is to declare a national emergency and redirect Pentagon construction funds to build his wall, The Wall Street Journal reports. In this scenario, Trump would "agree to sign a spending bill and reopen the government" and "be able to tell supporters he did everything he could to build the wall." And "if the courts strike it down, then the president can blame the judiciary, something he's done before," Politico notes. "It will come to this," one White House official told the Journal. "The question is when."

2. Strike a deal
A group of Republican senators huddled with Sen. Lindsey Graham's (R-S.C.) Wednesday to workshop a deal that would give Democrats immigration changes they want — like protecting DREAMers — in return for Trump's wall money, CNN reports. "GOP senators pitched the idea to senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, who said if they came up with a proposal that got Trump his border wall money and could pass the Senate, the White House would be open to more discussions on the matter."

3. Fold and spin
"There is an increasing recognition in the White House" that congressional Democrats won't give Trump any wall money, Politico notes, and if he goes it on his own, they "can cut the money Trump uses to build the wall in next year's appropriations cycle." But there's nothing stopping the master brander from declaring victory of some sort, even if the government reopens without his wall.
Peter Weber

5:23 a.m.

The two-decade-long relationship between Deutsche Bank and Donald Trump has been rocky and clearly beneficial only to Trump, The New York Times detailed Monday night. One branch of the giant German bank after another stopped doing business with Trump, after loan defaults, creative litigation, and other red flags and hiccups.

After Deutsche Bank's commercial real estate unit severed ties with Trump in 2004, he sought a large loan from the investment-banking division, the Times reports:

Mr. Trump told Deutsche Bank his net worth was about $3 billion, but when bank employees reviewed his finances, they concluded he was worth about $788 million, according to documents produced during a lawsuit Mr. Trump brought against the former New York Times journalist Timothy O'Brien. And a senior investment-banking executive said in an interview that he and others cautioned that Mr. Trump should be avoided because he had worked with people in the construction industry connected to organized crime. Nonetheless, Deutsche Bank agreed in 2005 to lend Mr. Trump more than $500 million for the project. [The New York Times]

After Trump sued the investment-banking unit when he couldn't pay back that loan, he started getting loans from the bank's private-banking arm. And when he sought $100 million for a golf course in Miami, "Deutsche Bank dispatched a team to Trump Tower to inspect Mr. Trump’s personal and corporate financial records," the Times reports. "The bankers determined he was overvaluing some of his real estate assets by as much as 70 percent, according to two former executives."

Still, by that time Trump "was swimming in cash from The Apprentice" and had little debt, so "aside from his history of defaults, he was an attractive borrower," the Times says. He got the loan, and cited it in the presidential campaign to fend off attacks on his business acumen. Read more at The New York Times. Peter Weber

4:51 a.m.

"The president does not drink, so he celebrated St. Patrick's Day by tweeting like the manic leprechaun-artist he is," Jimmy Kimmel said on Monday's Kimmel Live. Among Sunday's barrage of 29 tweets were two attacking, once again, late-night hosts. "And besides the fact that Trump hinting that the FCC should look into censoring late-night comedy shows because he doesn't like us making jokes about him is genuinely disturbing — this is what Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un do — what might be the craziest part is the episode of Saturday Night Live he was tweeting about ... not only was it a rerun, it was a rerun of their Christmas episode," Kimmel said. "He does know it's not Christmas, right?"

And "the idea that late-night shows are colluding with Russia is ridiculous," Kimmel said. "I mean, I know I'm not colluding with Russia." He threw to his writers' room, which confirmed the lack of collusion with a unanimous "nyet."

"Late-night shows colluding with Russia — that is insane, and completely paranoid," Stephen Colbert agreed on The Late Show. And, of course, he had to alert Moscow that Trump was onto him, earning a turnip. Sunday's tweetstorm generally suggests Trump "might have carpal thumbal, or mental illness, or a need to distract us from something else more Mueller-y," he suggested.

There's "so much going on" with those late-night tweets, Trevor Noah said at The Daily Show. For example, "it's interesting how he only complains about jokes that are about him. Like, he's never said, 'Leave my children alone!' In fact, he's probably like, 'Hello, SNL, do you take submissions? I have a few Eric jokes I could send.' And also, what does he mean, late-night shows are colluding with Russia? Really? The country that's famously known for their sense of humor? ... Also, we're colluding with the Democrats? What does that mean? They're the only people less funny than the Russians! You think comedy shows are getting material from these guys?" He made a persuasive case. Watch below. Peter Weber

3:18 a.m.

Judging people by their old tweets is dicey business — just ask Disney and Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn. And digging up very old tweets to vet 2020 presidential candidates "is a low blow," writer Anna Fitzpatrick tweeted Monday. "Every tweet from 2009 is bad." But her example of a bad tweet, from Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), didn't work out exactly as planned.

It turns out, as Fitzpatrick discovered, Booker joked about his love triangle with "Sleep" and "Coffee," with some variation of how "hot" his boo "Coffee" is, at least a dozen times, as recently as 2017. Fitzpatrick compiled all dozen iterations, but she still doesn't want this to define Booker's candidacy, urging people to "please base your votes on policy and not on how goofy a politician's twitter feed is or isn't." But there's definitely room for poking Booker about his corny joke.

Fitzgerald had one more request.

Since Booker and Rosario Dawson reportedly started dating last year, there was no documented overlap with "Coffee," so it's all good. Peter Weber

2:12 a.m.

After Friday's terrorist attack by a white supremacist on two mosques in New Zealand, President Trump phoned his condolences to New Zealand's prime minister, but expressing "sympathy and love for all Muslim communities," as she asked, is "not really Trump's brand," Stephen Colbert said on Monday's Late Show. "On the one hand, after a terror attack, to condemn the extremist ideology of the terrorist should be a slam dunk. On the other hand, he can't jump. Also, he never, ever condemns the racists."

Colbert listed some of Trump's past words and actions. "I'm just saying if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, then why does it goose-stepping?" he asked. White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney spent much of Sunday on TV insisting Trump is not a white supremacist, saying at one point, "I don't think anybody could say that the president is anti-Muslim." Colbert accepted the challenge: "The president is anti-Muslim. What did I win?"

"The president is anti-Muslim — yep, that was not hard at all," Seth Meyers agreed on Late Night. "Trump's aides have been trying to memory-hole his long history of racism and Islamophobia," but "asking Trump if he sees white nationalism as a threat is like asking Joe Camel if he sees tobacco as a threat." He also agreed with George Conway's diagnosis of Trump's weekend tweets, saying they "would make more sense if they were scribbled on the wall of a psych ward."

On The Daily Show, Trevor Noah said he doesn't blame Trump for the New Zealand shooting, exactly. Just like "I don't think you can pin any one storm on directly on climate change," he said, "I don't think he's the cause of any of these things, but he does in some ways raise the temperature enough that we'll see more of these things happening." And Trump and the New Zealand shooter "are products of the same white supremacy, they believe the same things," Noah said. Watch below. Peter Weber

2:02 a.m.

With the support of Gus, Waffle, and Westley, Thomas Panek made history as he crossed the finish line at the New York City Half Marathon on Sunday.

Panek is blind, and instead of using human guides during the race, he relied on three guide dogs. This was the first time a visually-impaired runner completed the race supported by canines. "It never made sense to me to walk out the door and leave my guide dog behind when I love to run and they love to run," Panek, president and CEO of Guiding Eyes for the Blind, told CNN. "It was just a matter of bucking conventional wisdom and saying why not."

Gus is Panek's longtime guide dog, and Waffle and Westley are siblings undergoing guide dog training. They spent months preparing for the race, and on Sunday, the dogs were outfitted with special harnesses and booties to protect their paws. Each Labrador took a turn running 3.1 miles with Panek, who finished the race in two hours and 21 minutes. Gus' duties as a guide dog officially ended once he crossed the finish line, and he is now retired. It was "emotional," Panek said, as Gus has "been there with me the whole time." Catherine Garcia

1:16 a.m.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) announced on Monday she wants to see the Electoral College eliminated.

During a CNN town hall in Jackson, Mississippi, the Democratic presidential candidate said she considers the need to get 270 electoral votes a form of disenfranchising voters who live in states where one political party dominates. "Come a general election, presidential candidates don't come to places like Mississippi, they also don't come to places like California or Massachusetts, because we're not the battleground states," Warren said.

As the crowd cheered, Warren added she holds the view that "every vote matters and the way we can make that happen is that we can have national voting and that means get rid of the Electoral College." In 2016, Hillary Clinton got three million more votes than President Trump, but lost the Electoral College 304 to 227. Catherine Garcia

12:24 a.m.

The private texts between Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez, published in January were supplied to the National Enquirer by her brother, Michael Sanchez, who was paid $200,000 for the messages, people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal.

The Enquirer published its story about their affair two days after Bezos was asked for comment, and the same day the billionaire announced he was separating from his wife. Michael Sanchez, a talent agent for reality show judges and pundits and a fervent supporter of President Trump, frequently passed along stories to top Enquirer editor Dylan Howard, the Journal reports. He began talking to the Enquirer and its publisher, American Media, about the affair in October, after the tabloid had already started investigating the relationship between Bezos and his sister, a former television reporter.

American Media CEO David Pecker — a longtime Trump friend who suppressed negative stories about him prior to the 2016 election — wasn't thrilled with the idea of publishing the story because he was worried Bezos would sue, the Journal reports. Trump is an unabashed critic of Bezos, and one of Pecker's advisers reportedly told him if the article did run, it might look like he was doing Trump's bidding. He eventually approved the deal, which was for more than the company usually pays sources, people with knowledge of the matter told the Journal.

The Enquirer's 11-page article featured quotes from texts and photos of Bezos and Lauren Sanchez, who is now separated from her husband, together. When reached by the Journal, Michael Sanchez said the story was based on "old rumors" and he didn't want to "dignify" the reporting. He also denied sending "the many penis selfies." Catherine Garcia

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