Extreme Cold Grips Large Swaths Of US – Freezing temperatures hit large parts of the United States, including the tristate area and the Midwest, resulting in at least 10 deaths. Temperatures dropped to as low as -75 Fahrenheit, with RealFeel temperatures on the East Coast dropping to -20 degrees, causing precarious road conditions and causing water pipes to burst. The temperatures are expected to rise slowly, with temperatures in the tristate area expected to reach the 20’s next week.
State Of The Union Rescheduled – President Trump’s annual State of the Union address was rescheduled for February 5th after it was postponed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi due to the government shutdown and “security issues”. Pelosi had originally invited Trump to deliver the address on January 29th but withdrew the invitation most likely as a political stunt during the prolonged government shutdown. The address is likely to focus heavily upon Trump’s repeated demands for Congress to provide funding for his proposed wall along the southern border with Mexico.
Mueller Probe Wrapping Up? – In his first public remarks since being named acting Attorney General, Mathew Whitaker said that he has been “fully briefed” regarding Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into illegal activities surrounding the 2016 presidential election, and he believes that Mueller is close to completing his probe. Whitaker said he looks forward to seeing Mueller’s final report, and declined to discuss details of the ongoing investigation. It is not clear whether or not Whitaker was simply guessing that the investigation would soon be completed, or that he had concrete knowledge of the probe winding down.
Trump Contradicts Intel Chief – President Trump lashed out at National Director of Intelligence Dan Coats after the Director made comments saying that US intelligence does not believe North Korea will fully dismantle their nuclear weapons program, contrary to what Trump has claimed. In a tweet, Trump attacked the Coats, writing “Perhaps Intelligence should go back to school!”. Trump also called intelligence officials “passive and naïve” in regards to Iran, and also sparred with intel regarding the threat posed by ISIS. But following a Thursday meeting in the Oval Office with Dan Coats and other senior intelligence officials, President Trump said they were “on the same page” and said he was told the press “mischaracterized” what Coats had said at a Senate hearing regarding the North Korean nuclear program.
US Sanctions Venezuela – The Trump administration announced new sanctioned placed upon Venezuela’s state-owned oil company. The move is intended to further damage Venezuela’s crippled economy, which continues to spiral into chaos as the country experiences serious political upheaval. The United States is supporting dictator Nicolas Maduro’s opponent, Juan Guiado, who claimed the presidency for himself following his election as leader of the National Assembly of Venezuela, the last remaining democratic institution in the country.
US, Taliban Agree To Deal Framework – United States envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said in a statement that US negotiators and the Taliban have agreed to an agreement in principle following extensive talks in Qatar. President Trump said Thursday the US would be bringing “our people back home” if an agreement could be reached with the militant group.
Democrats Fear Schultz Run – Former Starbucks CEO and self-made Jewish billionaire Howard Schultz is exploring a possible presidential run as an Independent in 2020, causing Democrats to fear that he may split the liberal vote, allowing President Trump to be elected to a second term. Priorities USA, the most influential Democratic SuperPAC, has vowed to target Schultz and do all they can to ensure that his candidacy is unsuccessful.
Another Big Jobs Month – The US economy added 304,000 jobs in January, as employers continue to ignore fears of a possible coming recession, which many economists have been predicting. The jobless rate ticked up to 4.0%, up from 3.9% the previous month. The U6 rate, considered to be the broadest metric of unemployment, rose a half point to 8.1. The labor force participation rate also went up to 63.2%, the highest level since September of 2013, with the total size of the workforce shrinking by 11,0000.
US Pulls Out Of Nuke Treaty – President Trump has ordered the United States to withdraw from the Intermediate Range Nuclear-Forces Treaty with Russia, which has been a centerpiece of the post-Cold War world order. The treaty, signed by President Reagan and Russian President Gorbachev in 1987, bars the US and Russia from having any land-based nuclear weapons with a range of 310-3,410 miles. Russia has been in violation of the treaty for the past 5 years. “We will not remain constrained by its terms while Russia misrepresents its actions,” said Trump