“Our New American Moment”

Wednesday, January 31, 2018Screen Shot 2018-01-31 at 8.41.30 AM

Good Wednesday morning, 
Here are some of the stories making news in Washington and politics today:
  • Addressing a deeply divided Congress and nation in his first State of the Union address, President Trump called for bipartisan efforts on issues like infrastructure and immigration. Amid some jeers, he laid out a four-pillar immigration plan, one of the major debates looming over his first year in office.

  • At one hour and 20 minutes longit was the third-longest State of the Union in the past 50 years.
  • In a chaotic Washington, the annual ritual brought back a feeling of normalcy.
  • Times reporters weighed in on the facts, falsehoods and statements that needed context from Mr. Trump’s address.

  • Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III of Massachusetts delivered the Democratic response. He chastised the Trump administration without uttering the president’s name.

  • In other news, the administration faced backlash from both Kremlin leaders and Russia’s biggest Washington critics over the handling of a new sanctions law intended to punish the Kremlin for interference in the 2016 American elections.
  • Led by Representative Devin Nunes, the House Intelligence Committee is pivoting from examining Russia’s election meddling to instead investigating F.B.I. and Justice Department officials connected to the inquiry. Here’s what you need to know about the committee’s secret memo.

— The First Draft Team
News Analysis

Trump Can Sell an Improved Economy, but Not Himself

By PETER BAKER
President Trump greeting the speaker of the House, Paul D. Ryan, before delivering his address on Tuesday.

President Trump greeting the speaker of the House, Paul D. Ryan, before delivering his address on Tuesday. Tom Brenner/The New York Times

When he took office, President Trump painted a bleak picture of a country ravaged by economic turmoil, a landscape of “American carnage,” as he so memorably put it. A year later, he presented the nation on Tuesday night with a different narrative, one of a booming economy and a “new American moment.”
The stock market has “smashed one record after another.” Retirement accounts have “gone through the roof.” Companies are “roaring back” to the United States. “We haven’t seen this in a long time,” he exulted from the rostrum of the House chamber as he delivered his first formal State of the Union address. “It’s all coming back.”
Never mind that in some fundamental ways the economy is growing no faster than it did at points during President Barack Obama’s second term. Mr. Trump is at heart a salesman, and he rarely lets details get in the way of a good story. And by some measures, he has managed to convince many Americans, especially corporate leaders, that the economy really is surging in a way it has not for years.
The challenge for Mr. Trump is that even as he sells the economy with the fervor of a real estate developer, he has not been able to sell himself. His approval ratings remain at historic depths, and effectively unchanged after a year in office. His success at passing tax cuts and the continued progress of the economy he inherited have not changed the dismal views that a sizable majority of Americans hold of their president.
Read more »

Transcript: Trump’s State of the Union Address, With Annotations

New York Times reporters analyzed President Trump’s prepared remarks.

President Trump delivered his first State of the Union address at the Capitol on Tuesday.
CRITIC’S NOTEBOOK

Sanding Down the Edges, at Least for a Night

By JAMES PONIEWOZIK

Sounding reserved and sticking to his prepared text, President Trump attempted the music, if not necessarily the lyrics, of comity.

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Senate minority leader, wore a purple ribbon at the State of the Union address on Tuesday night to bring attention to the opioid crisis in the United States.

Why Were Some Attendees Wearing Purple Ribbons?

By MATTHEW HAAG

At least a dozen members of Congress wore purple ribbons at the State of the Union to help raise awareness about the country’s opioid crisis.

Melania Trump, the first lady, at her husband’s first State of the Union.
ON THE RUNWAY

Fashion Statements in Black and White

By VANESSA FRIEDMAN

From Melania Trump to the Congressional Black Caucus, people dressed with a point at the State of the Union.

Young undocumented immigrants with Democratic lawmakers, including Representative Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico, left, at a news conference on Tuesday.

Congressman Suggests ‘Dreamers’ Be Arrested. Capitol Hill Rolls Its Eyes.

By SHERYL GAY STOLBERG

After Democrats invited young undocumented immigrants to attend the State of the Union address, Representative Paul Gosar, Republican of Arizona, called for their arrests.

Hillary Clinton making her concession speech during the 2016 presidential election. Mrs. Clinton had shielded a top adviser in her 2008 campaign accused of harassment.

Clinton Says She Should Have Fired Campaign Aide Accused of Harassment

By MAGGIE HABERMAN

In a Facebook post, Hillary Clinton said she regretted shielding a 2008 campaign adviser accused of sexual harassment.

President Trump with President Moon Jae-in of South Korea in New York in September. The ambassadorial candidate, Victor D. Cha, identifies as a hawk on North Korea but has voiced opposition to a preventive strike against the country.

Trump Vows a Muscular America to Confront a World of Enemies

By MARK LANDLER

Celebrating gains against the Islamic State but warning of threats like Iran and North Korea, President Trump sketched a dark view of a perilous world.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said that Americans should see a secret memo that portrays the early stages of the Trump-Russia investigation as a partisan endeavor.
NEWS ANALYSIS

Real Aim of the Secret Memo Is the Mueller Investigation

By CHARLIE SAVAGE

The memo has emerged as the latest attempt by Republicans to portray the actions of the investigators in the Russia inquiry as the real scandal.

First Lady Melania Trump at the State of the Union on Tuesday.

First Lady, Traveling Again Without Husband, Emerges at State of the Union

By KATIE ROGERS

The high-profile appearance by Melania Trump ended several weeks of few public appearances and fewer public statements.

Scott Pruitt in January. “I believe that Donald Trump in the White House would be more abusive to the Constitution than Barack Obama,” he said in 2016.

E.P.A. Chief Assailed Trump in a 2016 Interview

By CORAL DAVENPORT

Speaking on a radio show in 2016, Scott Pruitt said that Donald Trump, if elected, would act in a way that is “truly unconstitutional.”