John Light

John is TPM‘s Prime editor. His writing has also appeared at The Atlantic, Mother Jones, Salon, Slate, UN Dispatch, Vox, Worth, and Al Jazeera, and has been broadcast on Public Radio International. Before joining TPM, John was a producer for Bill Moyers and WNYC, and worked as a news writer for Grist. He grew up in New Jersey, studied history and film at Oberlin College, and got his master‘s degree in journalism from Columbia University.

Articles by John

Last night’s government shutdown lasted five hours. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) made his point about spending — “I didn’t come up here to be liked,” he said — and held up the Senate vote until after midnight. As the East Coast was waking up, the House voted to lift spending caps. Seventy-three Democrats supported the bill against House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) urging. Now the government is back open, and a solution for Dreamers will have to wait until next week. Here’s what our team is watching today.

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Good morning. Today’s the day we could see another government shutdown.

It looks nearly certain that the budget deal will sail through the Senate, which votes at 11:30 a.m. It will be a much heavier lift in the House. The House Freedom Caucus is against the agreement — the hardline conservative group opposes any and all domestic spending hikes, though they support the large increase in military funding. That means, Alice Ollstein reports, that House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) will need Democrats’ votes to get the legislation across the finish line. Democrats want Ryan to promise to hold a vote on DACA — as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has done in the Senate — but Ryan has so far refused to do so. The question today is how many Democrats will cave and vote for the bill anyway. The Democrats’ riled-up progressive base is watching closely, waiting to see if House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) eight-hour speech yesterday will be followed by real action, or whether it was simply a stunt. The government will shut down at midnight if they can’t reach a deal.

Here’s what else we’re watching today.

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In a post earlier today, Josh points out that conventional media is not equipped to deal with willful lying in the public sphere. The effects of the resultant lopsided coverage is clear in recent polling of Republicans’ views of the FBI. It is remarkable the extent to which GOP voters’ trust in the agency has done a 180 during Trump’s presidency.

From Axios yesterday:

Meanwhile, a Reuters poll released today, and conducted over the weekend, found that 73 percent of Republicans agreed that “members of the FBI and Department of Justice are working to delegitimize Trump through politically motivated investigations.”

It’s not just the Nunes memo — Trump has been driving this shift all year. A Gallup poll from December 2017 finds that Republican support for the FBI fell from 62 percent in 2014 to 49 percent. In fact, Gallup found that the FBI was the only federal agency to see its poll numbers drop among Republicans. From the CDC to FEMA to the postal service, Republicans like government agencies better under Trump. All agencies, that is, except for the FBI. You can’t directly compare polls from different polling firms, but the Reuters and Axios polls at least suggest things have only gotten worse in the month and a half since Gallup spoke with voters.

As Allegra Kirkland wrote yesterday, Nunes’ dud of a memo might be backfiring in Washington DC, with Republicans, including Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), saying in interviews that the memo doesn’t undermine the Russia investigation. But that reality is not reaching the base.

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Certain Republicans had high hopes for the Nunes memo before it landed Friday — after President Donald Trump cleared its release — with a dull-at-best thud.

CNN reported yesterday that Trump was hopeful the memo would undermine special counsel Robert Mueller and discredit the federal Russia investigation he is overseeing. Other members of his party predicted that its impact would be even greater, though now that the memo has been made public, it looks as if the White House official who worried to the press that the memo was a “dud” may have hit the nail on the head.

Here’s a look back at some of the lofty predictions Republicans have made over the last month about the memo’s import and impact.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL)

“I believe the consequence of its release will be major changes in people currently working at the FBI and the Department of Justice,” Gaetz told Fox News in January.

In a separate appearance, he told Sean Hannity, “I think this will not end just with firings. I believe that there are people who will go to jail.”

“I think there will be criminal implications here,” Gaetz added.

Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC)

Duncan tweeted on Thursday that he expected the memo to “shake” the FBI “down to its core.”

“Having read ‘The Memo,’ the FBI is right to have ‘grave concerns,'” he posted.

Duncan predicted that the document would show “Americans just how the agency was weaponized by the Obama officials/DNC/HRC to target political adversaries.”

Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA)

“You think about, ‘is this happening in America or is this the KGB?’ That’s how alarming it is,” Perry told Fox News in January.

Rep. Steve King (R-IA)

Not one to avoid controversy, King claimed in January that the memo would kick off a scandal “worse than Watergate.”

“The sickening reality has set in,” King tweeted. “I no longer hold out hope there is an innocent explanation for the information the public has seen. I have long said it is worse than Watergate.”

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC)

“It’s troubling. It is shocking,” Meadows told Fox News last month. “Part of me wishes that I didn’t read it because I don’t want to believe that those kinds of things could be happening in this country that I call home and love so much.”

Later, in a tweet, he said, “This report needs to be released — now. Americans deserve the truth.”

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Good morning, and happy Friday. Today is quite possibly the day the Nunes memo will be released, and, as David Kurtz notes, the President kicked it off by fanning the flames of his ongoing battle with his DOJ. Here’s what our team is watching today.

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