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January 10, 2019

"President Trump has long said that keeping opponents off balance is the best way to win a negotiation," The Washington Post reports. "But nearly three weeks into a partial government shutdown, his usual playbook doesn't seem to be working. ... As he digs in against an emboldened Democratic opposition, Trump has found that his go-to arsenal of bluster, falsehoods, threats, and theatrics has laid bare his shortcomings as a negotiator." At this point, he has three options left.

1. Declare a national emergency, then victory, then blame the judges
The "increasingly likely option" for Trump is to declare a national emergency and redirect Pentagon construction funds to build his wall, The Wall Street Journal reports. In this scenario, Trump would "agree to sign a spending bill and reopen the government" and "be able to tell supporters he did everything he could to build the wall." And "if the courts strike it down, then the president can blame the judiciary, something he's done before," Politico notes. "It will come to this," one White House official told the Journal. "The question is when."

2. Strike a deal
A group of Republican senators huddled with Sen. Lindsey Graham's (R-S.C.) Wednesday to workshop a deal that would give Democrats immigration changes they want — like protecting DREAMers — in return for Trump's wall money, CNN reports. "GOP senators pitched the idea to senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, who said if they came up with a proposal that got Trump his border wall money and could pass the Senate, the White House would be open to more discussions on the matter."

3. Fold and spin
"There is an increasing recognition in the White House" that congressional Democrats won't give Trump any wall money, Politico notes, and if he goes it on his own, they "can cut the money Trump uses to build the wall in next year's appropriations cycle." But there's nothing stopping the master brander from declaring victory of some sort, even if the government reopens without his wall.
Peter Weber

9:26 p.m.

The White House is refusing to give the House Oversight Committee any documents or produce any witnesses for its investigations, Chair Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) wrote in a Washington Post op-ed published Tuesday night, choosing to engage in an "unprecedented level of stonewalling, delay, and obstruction."

Cummings said that Democrats were elected so the House could serve as a "truly independent check and balance on the executive branch." His committee is the House's primary investigative body, and he has sent the White House 12 letters on six topics, "some routine and some relating to our core national security interests." The White House, Cummings said, "has not turned over a single piece of paper to our committee or made a single official available for testimony during the 116th Congress."

One investigation is focusing on White House security clearances, in the wake of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn lying about his communications with the former Russian ambassador to the United States and reports that Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, received a clearance despite warnings. The White House "offered to let us read — but not keep — a few pages of policy documents that have nothing to do with the officials we are investigating, along with a general briefing on those policies during which they will answer no questions about specific employees," Cummings said.

Cummings shared the different requests that have been ignored, including to provide documents related to Trump's former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, making hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels, and White House officials allegedly using private email to conduct business, which is illegal. "If our committee must resort to issuing subpoenas, there should be no doubt about why," Cummings said. Read the entire revealing op-ed at The Washington Post. Catherine Garcia

8:09 p.m.

Postpartum depression affects as many as 400,000 women in the United States every year, and on Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first drug specifically created to treat the disorder.

Brexanolone, also known as Zulresso, is delivered intravenously. The infusion takes 60 hours, and during a clinical trial, most participants showed improvement within 24 hours of receiving the drug, and reported they still felt the effects 30 days later. Brexanolone contains a synthetic form of allopregnanolone, a derivative of progesterone, which increases during pregnancy and drops dramatically after giving birth. It is thought allopregnanolone could contribute to postpartum depression.

Women with postpartum depression often feel profound sadness, anxiety, or despair. Many are treated with antidepressants that take weeks to kick in, and sometimes don't work at all, as they do not address the hormonal changes that happen during and after pregnancy. Each infusion is expected to cost $20,000 to $35,000, NBC News reports, and it's unknown how much insurance will cover. Researchers said each patient will likely only need one infusion. It is expected the FDA will soon decide if the drug is safe for women while breastfeeding. Catherine Garcia

6:58 p.m.

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against the Catholic diocese of Wheeling-Charleston and its former bishop, Michael Bransfield, alleging that they violated the state's consumer protection laws by "knowingly" employing pedophiles.

The suit alleges that the diocese and Bransfield did not conduct substantial background checks on people hired to work in Catholic schools and camps, The Washington Post reports, and then tried to "cover up and conceal arguably criminal behavior of child sexual abuse." The first incident mentioned in the suit took place in 1965, when a priest accused of sexually abusing a child was hired by the diocese, and later became director of Camp Tygart despite new alleged victims coming forward. Morrisey is seeking to block the diocese from "continuation of any such conduct."

By using consumer law to file a civil lawsuit, the church's files could be viewed through legal discovery. The diocese, which covers the whole state, released a statement Tuesday saying it "strongly and unconditionally rejects the complaint's assertion that the diocese is not wholly committed to the protection of children." Last week, Baltimore Archbishop William Lori prohibited Bransfield from conducting any priestly duties, after multiple adults accused him of sexual harassment. Catherine Garcia

5:51 p.m.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein apparently likes being the Department of Justice's punching bag.

Multiple outlets reported Tuesday that Rosenstein, who once oversaw Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe, was planning to keep his job "a little longer" than he once thought. His decision to stay on reportedly came after a discussion with Attorney General William Barr, and CNN's Pamela Brown seems to have a reason why.

Rosenstein has long been seen as a stable voice in a tumultuous DOJ under Trump. He survived what seemed like an inevitable ouster late last year, and was reported to be considering an exit in mid-March. After plans of him staying on longer were reported Tuesday morning, national security expert Clint Watts devised his own explanation: that Barr found a first briefing on Mueller's report too "complicated" to work out on his own, he tweeted. Kathryn Krawczyk

5:51 p.m.

A group of German archaeologists found about 400 artifacts from World War II after excavating three rural sites near the towns of Warstein, Suttrop, and Eversberg, LiveScience reported on Tuesday.

While exploring the sites of former Nazi camps, the researchers said that most of the 400 artifacts came from Langenbach Valley near Warstein, where LiveScience says 60 women, 10 men, and a child "were taken into the forest, under the pretense of being moved to a different labor camp, and then shot." The vast array of personal items included everything from prayer books and dictionaries to shoes, harmonicas, and Soviet coins — all believed to have been owned by and buried with the massacre's victims.

Bullet cartridges were also found scattered in the area, which could suggest that some of the Polish and Russian forced laborers tried to escape the firing squad. Nazis killed 208 laborers in the region at the end of the war, and only 14 of the victims have ever been identified by name, due to Nazi efforts to conceal their crimes.

Matthias Löb, the director of the Landschaftsverband Westfalen-Lippe — the group behind the excavation — said in a statement that despite the tragic finds, these discoveries serve as an essential reminder of the atrocities committed during that period. Löb also said Germany has seen an increase in "trivialization" and denial of Nazi crimes, and that the discovery of these artifacts are proof of a part of German history "that we have to face." Read more at LiveScience. Marina Pedrosa

5:23 p.m.

Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) 2020 Democratic presidential campaign team announced 15 new hires today, including 10 women.

Among the slew of hirings is Briahna Joy Gray, a former attorney and the senior politics editor at The Intercept, who will join the staff as Sanders' national press secretary.

The campaign says that now every single one of its teams "has women, and predominantly women of color, in leadership positions," per Refinery29. Indeed, women make up around 70 percent of the national leadership team.

The campaign, HuffPost reported, was surely determined to address concerns leftover from the Vermont senator's 2016 presidential run, when the staff was criticized for including few women and people of color. That campaign staff was also plagued by allegations of sexual harassment, which several female staffers said were ignored.

Sanders also hired journalist Dave Sirota, who used to serve as Sanders' press secretary in the House of Representatives, as a speechwriter and senior adviser. Sirota, whom The Atlantic has called Sanders' "Twitter attack dog" because of his reputation for "savaging" Democratic opponents, had reportedly been working for the senator in an unofficial capacity for several months, despite Sanders' remarks that suggested he wanted his campaign to remain free of antagonism. Read more on Sirota's hiring at The Atlantic. Tim O'Donnell

5:04 p.m.

President Trump once reportedly considered nominating his personal pilot to manage the Federal Aviation Administration.

That was a year ago, and there's still no Senate-confirmed head of the FAA. But now, amid a worldwide crisis surrounding Boeing's 737 MAX 8 planes, Trump has decided on a candidate.

Trump announced Tuesday that he's nominating former Delta Airlines official Steve Dickson to the post, with The Wall Street Journal reporting the announcement earlier in the day. Dickson has been under consideration for the job since last November, the Journal also reported at the time. No other FAA head has come directly to the job from a senior position at an airline in 30 years. The White House reportedly planned to announce Dickson's appointment earlier this month, but put it on hold as two Boeing planes crashed in similar circumstances in October and two weeks ago, industry officials tell the Journal.

There hasn't been a permanent FAA head since Michael Huerta's five-year term ended in January 2018. Former President Barack Obama had nominated Huerta to the post. Since then, Daniel Elwell, who'd served in the FAA under former President George W. Bush, has led the agency in an acting capacity but was never brought to the Senate for a formal confirmation. Kathryn Krawczyk

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