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Furious Democrats hope to pound Starbucks chairman emeritus Howard Schultz into early departure from his exploration of an independent 2020 bid.
One of Washington's best-wired party operatives told me: "I've talked to six dozen Democrats, and the overwhelming sentiment is that he will be pushed out by this incredible wave of disgust and disdain rolling his way."
Bill Burton, a former campaign and White House aide to President Barack Obama, is enduring the skepticism of friends to serve as a message and communications adviser to Schultz.
But for many powerful Dems, this is personal. They view Schultz's dabbling as a dangerous gamble, indulgence and diversion. They told Alexi:
What's next: Schultz appears in Phoenix today on the tour for his new book, "From the Ground Up," then continues on to Seattle and other major cities.
"Donald Trump sat down with Vladimir Putin for several minutes of conversation at the end of an evening event at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires in November, with no translator or note-taker from the US side to record the dialogue between the leaders," the Financial Times' James Politi, Demetri Sevastopulo and Henry Foy report (subscription):
"According to a Russian government official’s account, the two leaders spoke for about 15 minutes about a number of foreign policy issues, including the Azov Sea incident, and the conflict in Syria."
The context: "The Washington Post reported that Mr Trump had sought to hide details of previous conversations with Mr Putin, including at the G20 summit in Hamburg in 2017, frustrating some top officials."
FBI Director Chris Wray, CIA Director Gina Haspel and Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats testify yesterday. Photo: Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images
"U.S. intelligence officials warned [on the Hill yesterday] of increased threats to national security from tighter cooperation between China and Russia," the Wall Street Journal's Dustin Volz and Warren Strobel report (subscription):
How it played ... ABC: "Top U.S. intel chiefs challenge Trump's security claims" ... CBS: "Intel chiefs contradict Pres. Trump on North Korea, ISIS" ... MSNBC: "Intel leaders contradict Trump on North Korea, ISIS, Iran, Russian influence" ... CNN: "U.S. intel chiefs contradict Trump on ISIS, Russia, Iran."
"A deadly arctic deep freeze enveloped the Midwest, ... prompting the U.S. Postal Service to take the rare step of suspending mail delivery to a wide swath of the region," per AP:
🍕 In Chicago, some restaurants and pizza-delivery chains closed out of concern for employee safety. (Bloomberg)
For plugged-in Democrats, "Stacey" and "Beto" are nearly as familiar as "AOC."
Vox.com founder Ezra Klein pointed out the midterm phenomenon:
"[M]embers of Congress sleeping in their offices may soon come to an end," BuzzFeed News' Paul McLeod reports:
"Progressive Caucus cochair Mark Pocan said he heard as many as 80 members did so in the previous Congress that ended in January. Others told BuzzFeed News the number might have been over 100."
"Top Republicans in Texas are sounding the alarm about 2020, warning President Trump could lose the usually reliably red state unless he devotes resources and attention ... typically reserved for electoral battlegrounds," the Washington Examiner's David Drucker reports.
"Chris Homan, a veteran GOP operative in Texas who worked several 2018 contests, said Republicans suffered because Democrats were more energized, more organized, and better funded."
"Tesla chief Elon Musk's corporate jet flew more than 150,000 miles last year, or more than six times around the Earth, as he raced between the outposts of his futuristic empire," the WashPost's Drew Harwell reports:
"A Tesla spokesman said his heavy air travel was an indispensable part of doing business. 'Until we can teleport, there’s unfortunately no alternative that would allow him to do his job as effectively,' spokesman Dave Arnold said."
Roger Stone arrives yesterday at the federal courthouse in D.C. to plead not guilty to felony charges in the Mueller probe.
An employee of Pozorski Hauling & Recycling collects trash during the snowstorm in Manitowoc, Wis.