Republican sources tell us that the Department of Homeland Security may issue "implementation guidance" that would allow for softening, and even policy changes, to President Trump's travel restrictions on migrants. The White House insists that any further guidance wouldn't constitute a walk-back.
But the internal conversation, led by Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, reflects the widespread view among top Republicans that the current chaotic situation -- beset with blame-casting, backstabbing and unintended consequences -- is untenable.
An official at one of the top firms in corporate America emails: "The pressure from inside these companies is intense. One of my deputies spent all day with a relative who needs to go back to Iran to see her mom who is dying. Worried she might get stuck but had to go. Lots of needless worrying. They have been Americans since the Shah left" 38 years ago.
Yesterday was a day that'll be dissected by historians and political scientists forever:
That all happened AFTER a crazy day of drama over the executive order that has become the defining opening act of Trump's presidency. Check out the fallout from the refugee ban over a 12-hour period, from Trump allies alone:
Dems are more torn about how to react than you'd think. Some well-known Democrats told us they think the first polls will show Trump's plan is more popular than the current coverage suggests -- maybe 45% to 52% support, tracking the fault lines of the country. So Dems thinking about the presidency, like Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, will make hay. But senators facing reelection in Trump states have a tricky balancing act.
The author ... Even Democrats told us that Stephen Miller, 31, the Trump senior policy adviser who was a key author of the ban, looked remarkably composed as he did television interviews calmly, even robotically defending his handiwork: "[I]f nobody's disagreeing with what you're doing, then you're probably not doing anything that really matters in the scheme of things," he said on CNN.
A David Brooks column in the N.Y. Times warns "The Republican Fausts" in Congress who don't particularly trust, admire or agree with Trump, but "respect the grip he has on their voters": "[I]f the last 10 days have made anything clear, it's this: The Republican Fausts are in an untenable position. The deal they've struck with the devil comes at too high a price. It really will cost them their soul."
The worst-kept secret inside Democratic circle is how bitter Hillary Clinton's team is at President Obama over her election loss. We have heard from numerous, anguished people in Clinton-land blaming Obama -- more than Putin, FBI Director James Comey or, um, Hillary herself -- for the defeat.
The reason: Clintonites feel that if Obama had come out early and forcefully with evidence of Russian interference in the campaign, and perhaps quicker sanctions, she might be president today. His caution, they argue, allowed the public to have a foggy sense of clear, calculated, consistent Russian meddling in the campaign. We can't stress enough how upset some Democrats are. It's testing relationships between Clinton and Obama loyalists. It's making efforts to form a new Trump opposition coalition harder.
On the flip side, Obama has let it be know he remains befuddled how she missed what to him was an easy layup of a win, given his own popularity on Election Day and Trump's vulgarity:
Houston, we have a problem. In new findings from Edelman's 2017 Trust Barometer, only 15% of Trump voters trust the media after the election, compared with 51% of Clinton voters. Even after the election, only 26% of Trump voters trust government, compared with 46% of Clinton voters. Other findings:
Trump plans to announce his nominee to replace Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court at 8 p.m., and CNN's Brian Stelter points out the "Apprentice" aura: "Trump was counterprogramming: pitting one show (his announcement) against another (the rolling and largely negative coverage of his exec order and the protests against it). By turning one of the most consequential decisions of the presidency into a primetime television event, ... Trump is governing in the way a TV executive might."
Axios' Jonathan Swan has this inside look at the pick: A source who knows the final decision would only tell us it's one of two men: Judge Neil Grouch, 49, who serves on United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit; or Judge Thomas Hardiman, 51, who sits on United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and works out of Pittsburgh.
The day's most arresting headline is on a New York Times business story, "Trump's Trade War May Have Already Begun," which reports that traditional allies in Europe, Asia and Latin America are already "shifting focus to other potential partners for new sources of trade and investment" -- most notably China.
The kicker to the article, which the paper makes its Quotation of the Day, is from a lunch in Davos two days after the address by China's President Xi Jinping asserting that Beijing will be a reliable champion of expanded trade if the United States steps back. André Loesekrug-Pietri, Berlin-based private equity fund manager, said: "We heard a Chinese president becoming the leader of the free world."
Axios' Dan Primack got his hands on a draft Trump executive order showing plans "to kill a program that would have encouraged startup company founders to immigrate to the United States ... The International Entrepreneur Rule (IER) generally would make special immigration exceptions for foreign entrepreneurs who meet [certain] requirements."
"Instagram Stories is stealing Snapchat's users," TechCrunch reports: : "[A] dozen analytics providers, social media celebrities, and talent managers [said] they've seen a decline in Snapchat Stories usage since Instagram Stories launched on August 2nd.."
The women's marches after the inauguration have amped up interest in Galentine's Day, per AP: "Designating Feb. 13 for the ladies has endured since 2010, when Amy Poehler's 'Parks and Recreation' character, Leslie Knope, declared the fictional holiday her favorite day of the year: ... 'Ladies celebrating ladies ... It's like Lilith Fair, minus the angst. Plus frittatas.' ... Since, women in real life have embraced the idea of gathering when Valentine's Day rolls around."