Jan 30, 2017

The takeaways from Spicer's Monday press briefing

One quote to sum it all up: "The president is taking steps to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to our nation's safety and security."

  1. Minimizing the executive order's impact: "It's a shame that people were inconvenienced, but it's a couple of hours. I'm sorry that people had to wait a little while." Repeating a line from the Sunday morning shows, Spicer said that only 109 people were detained out of 325,000 entering the country in the first 24 hours of the order.
  2. Clarifying the NSC: Spicer said that reports that the Director of National Intelligence and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs are being bumped from National Security Council meetings are "utter nonsense." The administration is also amending the memo to include the CIA Director as a part of the NSC. The inclusion of Steve Bannon in the memo was an attempt to be transparent and "he'll be in and out as needed."
  3. SCOTUS pick: Trump's pick tomorrow is on the previously-released list. Spicer accidentally referred to the pick as "he."
  4. What about Garland?: On Dems blocking SCOTUS pick: "That just shows you that it's all about politics, it's not about qualifications. The president has a right to have his nominees taken up." (Senate Republicans blocked Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland from March of 2016 until his nomination expired on the first day of the 115th Congress.)
  5. Trump's empty Cabinet: Spicer again decried Democratic Senate obstruction of Trump nominees, which the White House Press Office supplemented with a press release while he was still discussing the topic.

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America's rundown roads add to farmers' struggles

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

American farmers are struggling to safely use the roads that cut through their fields; decades of neglect and lack of funding have made the routes dangerous.

The big picture: President Trump has long promised to invest billions in rural infrastructure, and his latest proposal would allocate $1 trillion for such projects. Rural America, where many of Trump's supporters live, would see a large chunk of that money.

South Korea and Italy see spikes in coronavirus cases

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The novel coronavirus continues to spread to more nations, and the U.S. reports a doubling of its confirmed cases to 34 — while noting those are mostly due to repatriated citizens, emphasizing there's no "community spread" yet in the U.S. South Korea's confirmed cases jumped from 204 on Friday to 433 on Saturday, while Italy's case count rose from 3 to 62 as of Saturday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 2,362 people and infected more than 77,000 others, mostly in mainland China. New countries to announce infections recently include Israel, Lebanon and Iran.

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Centrist Democrats beseech 2020 candidates: "Stand up to Bernie" or Trump wins

Bernie Sanders rallies in Las Vegas, Nevada on Feb. 21. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Center-left think tank Third Way urgently called on the Democratic front-runners of the 2020 presidential election to challenge Sen. Bernie Sanders on the South Carolina debate stage on Feb. 25, in a memo provided to Axios' Mike Allen on Saturday.

What they're saying: "At the Las Vegas debate ... you declined to really challenge Senator Sanders. If you repeat this strategy at the South Carolina debate this week, you could hand the nomination to Sanders, likely dooming the Democratic Party — and the nation — to Trump and sweeping down-ballot Republican victories in November."