Good Tuesday morning, and happy State of the Union!
You're invited ... to join our SOTU postgame show tomorrow, Wednesday, at 7:45 a.m. in downtown D.C. As part of my Axios News Shapers series, I'll host back-to-back interviews with Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), whose office became "Switzerland" during bipartisan talks to reopen the government, and House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland. RSVP here. I look forward to seeing you for breakfast and conversation.
Rep. Adam Schiff, top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, is surrounded by media on Capitol Hill yesterday. (AP's Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
The coming release of a secret House memo, hotly sought by conservatives, will intensify the great muddying of the Russia investigation in the public's mind.
I have been flooded with email from conservatives who have been ignited by the #ReleaseTheMemo campaign that has flourished online, fed by Fox News.
That smoldering fire ignited yesterday after the House Intelligence Committee voted along party lines to release the memo, with the final decision up to President Trump.
Jonathan Swan and I are told that President Trump has already made up his mind to release the memo, which he sees as vindication, despite Justice Department resistance. Trump believes it will solidify in the public's mind that there's a Deep State out to get him.
Last night, I saw how hot the House was burning when I interviewed Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the Intelligence Committee's top Democrat, just after Sean Hannity had told his prime-time Fox audience that the memo would expose "the biggest political scandal in American history."
Hannity said he has been told memo's contents "will shock the conscience," and that the bias in the early stages of the Russia investigation "makes Watergate like stealing a Snickers bar from a drugstore."
Schiff told me his office has received obscene calls and death threats over the what he calls a "Republican spin memo," and said the right's "reckless hyperbole is just so destructive of our democracy."
Be smart: This strategy is working better than you think. Trump portrayed Hillary Clinton as an enemy of the state, and she lost. He turned the media into an enemy of the state, if you looks at polls of Republicans. And, perhaps most alarming of all, he's trying to make the FBI look like an enemy of the state.
Forget the memo. Fundamentally, President Trump and big chunks of conservative media are arguing that the Russia investigation is unwarranted, tainted and malicious — that the special counsel shouldn't exist.
But take the known knowns — 10 undisputed facts — and the smoke clears considerably:
Be smart: No sane person looking at those known knowns would say this is a crazy investigation.
President Trump hosts lunch with the U.N. Security Council, at the White House yesterday. (Chris Kleponis / Pool / Getty Images)
President Trump's special guests for tonight's 9 p.m. (ET) State of the Union address make up an all-American cast: a African-American welder from Ohio who bought his first home last year; the first blind, double amputee to reenlist in the Marine Corps; a policeman who adopted a baby from opioid addicts.
But the lead story of the Boston Globe provides a reality check:
AP's Matt Slocum
Hype Week begins ... Philadelphia Eagles players take pictures during Super Bowl 52 Opening Night at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.
Child development experts and advocates are urging Facebook to pull the plug on its new messaging app aimed at kids, AP reports:
Ken Chenault, 66, is days away from stepping down after 17 years as chairman and CEO American Express. He guided the company through 9/11 (the HQ, across the street from the World Trade Center, was left unusable), the global financial crisis, and numerous challenges to AmEx as the go-to payment option for the wealthy and well-traveled, AP's Ken Sweet writes:
Will Fischer, a former Marine lance corporal, on the long U.S. war in Afghanistan (in a New York Times front-pager, "Attacks Belie U.S. Optimism In Afghan War"):
MoviePass, the mobile app that lets you access one theater movie ticket daily for a $9.95 flat monthly fee, has withdrawn from 10 of AMC’s popular theaters.
Danny DeVito gets dunked in chocolate in a Super Bowl ad for M&M's. (M&M’s via AP)
"After a year of political and cultural upheaval, Super Bowl advertisers [more than $5 million for 30 seconds] appear to be pulling back from themes of unity in favor of in-game stunts and ads that aim for the heart — and in some cases even lower," AP's Mae Anderson writes:
Thanks for reading. See you all day — and tonight — in the Axios stream ...