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Essential Politics: ‘Let’s shut it down,’ says Trump

Essential Politics: ‘Let’s shut it down,’ says Trump
Essential Politics (LAT)

President Trump has made unconventional comments part of the conventional wisdom about his approach to being the nation's chief executive.

Now, a second shutdown of the United States government in less than three weeks is not only likely but — in his words — maybe even justified.

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The clock is ticking. Current funding authorization expires on Thursday.

'LET'S SHUT IT DOWN,' SAYS TRUMP

Trump's comments on Tuesday came just hours before the House approved a stopgap funding measure that now faces the rough waters of the Senate.

"I'd love to see a shutdown if we can't get this stuff taken care of," he said during a White House event on gang violence that quickly turned to immigration and border security issues.

"If we have to shut it down because the Democrats don't want safety … let's shut it down."

The partisan political temperature in Washington was already elevated. After all, it was just Monday that president called Democrats "un-American" and perhaps guilty of "treason" for not clapping during his State of the Union address last week.

AND THEN, THE STOCK MARKET…

Trump, unlike his predecessors, has bragged repeatedly about stocks as the market rose. Monday, he avoided the topic as they plunged. During the bull market of the last year, Trump complained that he wasn't getting enough praise for the record highs in securities values.

And you wouldn't know any of this was an issue by listening to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. "I'm not overly concerned about the market volatility," he said Tuesday morning at a hearing of the House Financial Services Committee. "The fundamentals are quite strong."

And that's not the only rhetoric-versus-reality item from the past 24 hours: Federal officials have reported the U.S. trade deficit widened last year to the highest level since 2008, fueling criticism that the president has done little to make good on his promise to curb America's long-standing imbalance with the rest of the world, particularly China.

THE DEMOCRATS' MEMO AND ALL THINGS RUSSIA

The House Intelligence Committee voted unanimously Monday to release a Democratic rebuttal to the GOP's memo on the Russia investigation that Trump declassified last week. So what will the president do? He has only a few days to decide whether to declassify it.

Meanwhile, the same House panel must wait a little longer before hearing from Steve Bannon, the former White House chief strategist.

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And two professors of government at Harvard University are arguing that the president's attacks on the investigation are a threat to American democracy. Their new book suggests parallels with fascism in Germany and Italy before World War II and with Latin America's long struggle with dictatorships.

NATIONAL POLITICS LIGHTNING ROUND

-- Trump has asked the Pentagon to plan a grand parade of the U.S. armed forces in Washington this year to celebrate military strength, officials said Tuesday.

-- Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has left open the possibility of face-to-face talks between officials traveling with Vice President Mike Pence and North Korean officials on the sidelines of the Olympic Games.

-- The father of the U.S. college student who died after being jailed in North Korea will visit South Korea this week to attend the opening ceremonies of the Olympics as a guest of Pence.

-- A federal appeals court on Tuesday refused to derail a $25-million Trump University settlement after a former student wanted to take the president to trial.

-- Jerome H. Powell was sworn in Monday as chairman of the Federal Reserve and vowed to remain vigilant about risks to the financial system.

-- The president plans to nominate Beverly Hills tax attorney Charles "Chuck" Rettig to head the Internal Revenue Service as it implements the nation's tax code revamp.

TULARE IS A LONG WAY FROM D.C.

Rep. Devin Nunes represents the Central Valley's 22nd Congressional District, home to half a million cows. The region grows 50% of the world's supply of raisins. The partisan spat over his memo on the Russia investigation may have consumed Washington and made Nunes a national name, but residents here are paying scant attention.

Are Democratic dreams of making this district where GOP voters have a 10 percentage point advantage competitive at all realistic?

Jazmine Ulloa takes a look at what it was like on the streets of Nunes' hometown of Tulare the day that Trump suggested the congressman might be remembered as a "hero."

DEMOCRATS DOMINATE THE DOLLARS

Democratic challengers in California's key congressional races have raised nearly twice as much money as the GOP incumbents they're hoping to oust. A close look at the latest money picture in the competitive races shows Democrats are already raising historic amounts of money, even in unexpected districts.

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REPUBLICANS RUMBLE IN SAN FRANCISCO

The three most prominent Republicans in the race for governor squared off in a boisterous debate deep in the heart of Democratic-friendly San Francisco on Tuesday night. Much of it focused on sexual misconduct in politics and a comparison of conservative bona fides.

The matchup came on the heels of news that one of the GOP contenders, Assemblyman Travis Allen of Huntington Beach, was named in a harassment complaint disclosed Friday by the California Legislature. The event also marked the first time former Sacramento-area Rep. Doug Ose appeared on a debate stage since joining the race last month.

Ose pitched himself as the most experienced politician in the room and showed an eagerness to attack his opponents, Allen and businessman John Cox of San Diego County. The discussion was interrupted several times by heated personal exchanges.

TODAY'S ESSENTIALS

-- A Los Angeles-area lawmaker wants to tax legal work, accounting and other services in an effort to insulate state government finances from the boom and bust of income tax payments.

-- Four years after the proposal was originally introduced, the Legislature approved a bill to extend whistleblower protections to its own staff this week. Gov. Jerry Brown signed the measure hours after it passed.

-- Any California registered lobbyist found to have committed sexual harassment could be banned from similar work for up to four years under a plan introduced Tuesday at the state Capitol.

-- Changes to Capitol Hill's sexual harassment policy will put victims first, says Rep. Jackie Speier.

--A majority of likely voters are "disinclined" to reelect GOP Reps. Dana Rohrabacher and Steve Knight, according to new poll.

-- A ballot measure championed by Republican candidate Cox for electing 12,000 "neighborhood" legislators has failed to qualify for November's election because the campaign turned in too many invalid signatures.

-- A proposed statewide ballot measure to increase property taxes on commercial and industrial lands could raise between $6 billion and $10 billion a year, a new analysis found.

-- Los Angeles County paid more than $145 million settling and fighting lawsuits in 2016-17, a 10% jump from the previous fiscal year, according to a report made public Tuesday.

-- Tuesday was Ronald Reagan Day in California.

LOGISTICS

Essential Politics is published Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

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