As the government shutdown enters its 18th day, President Trump is planning to address the nation Tuesday night—tonight—from the Oval Office. He is also set to visit the border Thursday. Trump requested the prime-time broadcast slot of 9 p.m., which all major networks agreed to accommodate. Networks are not required to satisfy such requests; in 2014, networks declined to air an Obama address on immigration policy. Shortly after Trump’s announcement, Democratic congressional leaders released a statement demanding equal television time. The statement reads, “if his past statements are any indication, [President Trump’s address] will be full of malice and misinformation.” Democratic lawmakers are planning to move ahead with a series of appropriations bills today that would reopen most government agencies, although Trump and the Republicans have not said they would sign onto the measures.
This comes as the effects of the shutdown—now the second-longest shutdown in U.S. history—continue to be felt across the country. TSA agents, who have been working without pay as essential employees, have been calling in sick in record numbers to protest the shutdown, making for long wait times and possible security concerns at airports. Meanwhile, Democratic lawmakers are raising concerns that funding for food stamp benefits may run out for the nearly 39 million people who depend on the federal program each month.
On Monday, Democratic Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen held a roundtable with federal workers affected by the shutdown. This is LaVerne Byrd, a union representative from the Census Bureau.
LaVerne Byrd: “The president doesn’t understand that we are human beings. We are people. Federal workers, that’s just like, you know, words: 'federal workers.' No, no, no. I am the federal worker. He is the federal worker. We are people. We have bills to pay. We have mortgages to pay. We have food we need to eat to survive, just like everybody else. It’s not a game to us. I mean, it seems like it’s a game to him. 'Oh, I'll keep it shut, keep the government shut down for months, for years.’ Well, what about the 800,000 people? Do you even care? Do you have a heart? It doesn’t seem so.”
A delegation of Democratic lawmakers visited a U.S. Border Patrol station in New Mexico where an 8-year-old Guatemalan boy was held before he died last month. New York congressmember and new House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler blasted President Trump’s recent claims that immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border constituted a national emergency.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler: “The only emergency at the border is a humanitarian emergency caused by this war on children. The fact of the matter is that the number of apprehensions, the number of migrants crossing the border is way down over the last few years. There’s not an emergency of that nature.”
Meanwhile, Fox News host Chris Wallace challenged White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders Sunday on her claims that terrorists are entering the country via the southern border.
Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders: “We know that roughly nearly 4,000 known or suspected terrorists come into our country illegally. And we know that our most vulnerable point of entry”—
Chris Wallace: “Wait, wait, wait.”
Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders: —”is at our southern border, Chris.”
Chris Wallace: “Wait, wait, wait, because I know the statistic.”
Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders: “Yeah.”
Chris Wallace: “I didn’t know if you were going to use it, but I studied up on this. Do you know where those 4,000 people come—where they’re captured? Airports.”
Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders: “Not always, but certainly”—
Chris Wallace: “Airports.”
Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders: “Certainly a large number.”
Chris Wallace: “The State Department says there hasn’t been any terrorist that they found coming across the southern border from Mexico.”
Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders: “Certainly, it’s—it’s by air, it’s by land, and it’s by sea.”
Republican Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam granted full clemency to Cyntoia Brown Monday, after she had served 15 years in prison and after months of intense public pressure and outrage over her case. Brown was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of first-degree murder for shooting her rapist as a teenager. She was sexually trafficked and repeatedly abused and drugged. The shooting happened when Brown was just 16 years old, but she was tried as an adult. Brown, who is now 30 years old, is set to be released in August.
In Thailand, a Saudi teenager who says she is fleeing her abusive family has been permitted to temporarily remain in the country. Eighteen-year-old Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun landed in Thailand over the weekend on her way to Australia, where she planned to request asylum. Saudi and Thai officials initially said the teenager would be sent back to Kuwait, where her family is. She reportedly had her passport confiscated by Saudi agents before being brought to a guarded hotel room. On Monday, al-Qunun barricaded herself inside the room, where she chronicled her ordeal on Twitter and demanded to speak with U.N. refugee agency officials. Al-Qunun left the hotel room later in the day after meeting with U.N. representatives and receiving assurances she would not be deported. Michael Page of Human Rights Watch said of her case, “Apparently, Saudi authorities not only want to perpetuate systematic discrimination of women at home and prevent Saudi women from freely traveling abroad, but also ensure that those who manage to escape are forced back to a life of abuse.”
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is in China for a 3-day trip, his fourth visit to the country over the past year. Few details of his trip have been released, but he is expected to hold talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping over trade and the possible upcoming nuclear summit with the United States. Kim’s visit comes as U.S. and Chinese officials are holding trade talks in hopes of ending the ongoing trade war between the two countries. In December, President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to a temporary truce, which is due to expire in March.
In Brazil, 300 troops were deployed over the weekend to the northeastern coastal city of Fortaleza after a spate of gang-related violence followed the announcement of new measures related to the management of prisons. The deployment comes in the first week of Jair Bolsonaro’s presidency, after the far-right former Army captain campaigned on a pro-military, law-and-order platform.
Meanwhile in Rio, human rights advocates are sounding alarm bells after the new governor, Wilson Witzel, said Thursday that city security forces were authorized to shoot to kill suspects. Later on, he said Rio should have its own Guantánamo Bay to house criminals, whom he labeled “terrorists.”
The president of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, will step down at the end of the month, three years before his current term was due to end. The World Bank has been headed by Americans appointed by the U.S. president since its creation in the 1940s.
In Canada, armed forces raided native Wet’suwet’en territory in British Columbia Monday, with at least 14 arrests being reported. Land defenders faced off with Royal Canadian Mounted Police as the police breached two checkpoints set up to keep pipeline workers out of protected territory. Indigenous leaders are reportedly being blocked from their territory.
Wet’suwet’en land defender: “The Wet’suwet’en have won rights and title to their lands. We did not hurt anyone. The hereditary chiefs say, 'No, you cannot go through our lands.' And under your law, the authority is them.”
On the eighth anniversary of the shooting of former Arizona Congressmember Gabrielle Giffords, Democratic lawmakers are set to introduce new gun control legislation later today. The bill will call for universal background checks for private gun sales. However, the legislation will reportedly not address an assault weapons ban. Congressmember Giffords survived the 2011 shooting near Tucson that left six people dead and 13 others wounded. She has since become a vocal advocate for gun control and is expected to join House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for an event in D.C. later today.
The New York Times is reporting that Democratic operatives created a fake social media campaign during the 2017 special Senate election in Alabama, pushing for a statewide ban on alcohol, in an effort to help get Democrat Doug Jones elected. The “Dry Alabama” campaign on Facebook and Twitter was designed to look like an initiative from religious supporters of Republican Roy Moore, and sought to scare off moderate Republicans who supported him. In December, The New York Times reported that a group of Democrats in another cyber scheme admitted to using “false flag” operations to make it look like Russian bots were helping Roy Moore’s campaign. Doug Jones narrowly beat out Moore in the historically conservative state, after at least nine women accused Moore of sexually harassing or assaulting them when they were teenagers.
In more news from Alabama, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is coming under fire after rescinding a human rights award for civil rights activist and author Angela Davis. They have also canceled the event associated with the prestigious award. The institute announced in September that Davis, a Birmingham native, would receive the Fred L. Shuttlesworth award, but on Saturday they released a statement saying they were withdrawing the award after “supporters and other concerned individuals and organizations, both inside and outside of our local community, began to make requests that we reconsider our decision.” Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin said he was “dismayed” by the institute’s decision, which he said came after “protests from our local Jewish community and some of its allies.” Angela Davis has been a longtime outspoken defender of Palestinian rights and is critical of Israeli government policy.
Click here to see our recent hour-long broadcast with Angela Davis.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was not on the bench Monday morning as justices met for the first day of oral arguments of 2019. The 85-year-old, three-time cancer-surviving Justice is recuperating after she had two malignant tumors removed from her left lung just a few weeks ago. This marks the first time Ginsburg has missed a day of oral arguments since she was confirmed to the court over a quarter of a century ago. She will still be involved in the cases by reading the briefs and transcripts of the arguments.
In more news from the Supreme Court, justices rejected a bid Monday by ExxonMobil to block Massachusetts from investigating whether the oil giant misled the public and stakeholders about climate change. In response to the news, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey tweeted: “Today’s #SCOTUS victory clears the way for our office to investigate Exxon’s conduct toward consumers and investors. The public deserves answers from this company about what it knew about the impacts of burning fossil fuels, and when.” In October, New York launched a lawsuit against Exxon for deceiving shareholders over the financial risks of climate change.