U.S. intel officials cite cooperation between China and Russia as top security threat

U.S. intelligence officials delivered their annual assessment of global threats to national security to Congress, identifying cooperation between China and Russia as their top concern.
During a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Chris Wray, and Central Intelligence Agency Director Gina Haspel said that cyber warfare, weapons of mass destruction, and terrorism pose the biggest threats to the U.S.
The threat assessment report focused on the relationship between China and Russia and stated that the two countries “are more aligned than at any point since the mid-1950s, and the relationship is likely to strengthen in the coming year as some of their interests and threat perceptions converge, particularly regarding perceived US unilateralism and interventionism and Western promotion of democratic values and human rights.”
Intelligence officials said that they expect Russia and China to continue to interfere in U.S. elections. They also warned that China is capable of launching cyberattacks that could disable U.S. critical infrastructure.
Intelligence officials warned members of Congress about the ongoing threats posed by chemical weapons and terrorism. They found that “North Korea, Russia, Syria, and ISIS have used chemical weapons on the battlefield or in assassination operations during the past two years.” Additionally, they identified Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and Southeast Asia as hotspots for terrorism, and they said that ISIS would continue to pose a global threat despite losing territorial ground in Syria.

U.S. to suspend INF treaty with Russia

The Trump administration said that it will suspend its obligations under the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, effective February 2, 2019. The administration said that Russia is not complying with the treaty.
In a statement, President Donald Trump explained the decision to leave the treaty, saying, “The United States has fully adhered to the INF Treaty for more than 30 years, but we will not remain constrained by its terms while Russia misrepresents its actions. We cannot be the only country in the world unilaterally bound by this treaty, or any other. We will move forward with developing our own military response options and will work with NATO and our other allies and partners to deny Russia any military advantage from its unlawful conduct.”
The process of leaving the treaty is expected to be completed in six months, but Trump said that the U.S. would consider complying with the treaty if Russia destroys all of its missiles, launchers, and associated equipment prohibited by the treaty.
NATO released a statement in support of the Trump administration’s decision. “Unless Russia honours its INF Treaty obligations through the verifiable destruction of all of its 9M729 systems, thereby returning to full and verifiable compliance before the U.S. withdrawal takes effect in six months, Russia will bear sole responsibility for the end of the treaty,” the statement said.
In 2014, members of the Obama administration accused Russia of violating the treaty because of its development of a 9M729 cruise missile, and the Trump administration reiterated the same concerns in December 2018.
The INF Treaty, which was signed in 1987 by President Ronald Reagan and President of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev, prohibits the use of intermediate- and shorter-range rockets. It also prohibits testing, producing, or fielding ground-based missiles.

Three years ago, presidential candidate field thins

Early 2016 primaries and caucuses three years ago beginning February 1, 2016, prompted a wave of candidates to withdraw from the presidential election that month.
From February 1 through February 20, seven Republicans and one Democrat dropped out of the presidential race. Below is a look at the timeline of the early 2016 primaries and caucuses, and the candidates who dropped out of the race in their aftermath.
February 1, 2016: Iowa caucuses
Winners: Clinton (D), Cruz (R)
Dropped out:
Martin O’Malley (D)
Mike Huckabee (R)
Rand Paul (R)
Rick Santorum (R)
February 9, 2016: New Hampshire primaries
Winners: Sanders (D), Trump (R)
Dropped out:
Chris Christie (R)
Carly Fiorina (R)
Jim Gilmore (R)
February 20, 2016: South Carolina Republican primary
Winners: Clinton (D), Trump (R)
Dropped out:
Jeb Bush (R)

229 years ago today, the first SCOTUS session

The Supreme Court hears its next case in a few weeks. But 229 years ago today, the Court’s first session was commencing.
On February 1, 1790, SCOTUS met to convene for the first time in New York City. No quorum was met that day, however, so the court officially came to order for the first time the following day.
President George Washington nominated six initial justices to that first court. They were:
  • John Jay (Chief Justice)
  • John Rutledge
  • William Cushing
  • John Blair
  • James Wilson
  • Robert Harrison
The size of the United States Supreme Court changed six times during the 19th century, from as many as 10 justices to as few as five.
Click here to learn more about the history of SCOTUS.

On this day, the 13th Amendment was approved in Congress

One-hundred-fifty-four years ago today, in 1865, the United States Congress passed the 13th amendment. The vote was 119 to 56— clearing the two-thirds majority by seven votes. The amendment was later ratified by the states and abolished slavery in the United States.
The exact text of the 13th Amendment:
Section 1:
“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”
Section 2:
“Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”
The United States Constitution has received 27 amendments. The most recent amendment was in 1992, which related to Congressional pay.

Cruz and Clinton won Iowa caucuses in first 2016 presidential primary contest three years ago

Three years ago, Iowa was preparing for the first primary contest of the 2016 presidential election on February 1.
More than 180,000 turned out to the Republican caucuses, smashing 2012’s turnout record by 60,000 people. Sen. Ted Cruz took the top spot with 27.6 percent of the vote and eight delegates. Donald Trump came in second with 24.3 percent and seven delegates. Sen. Marco Rubio also received seven delegates, coming in third with 23.1 percent.
In the Democratic caucus, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders were virtually tied for much of the night. Several precincts were decided by a coin toss because the results were so close. The Democratic Party of Iowa declared Clinton the winner with a lead of a quarter of one percentage point. Clinton was awarded 23 delegates and Sanders 21.
The next Iowa presidential caucus is scheduled to take place on February 3, 2020.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) expected to appoint new state election board this week; NC-09 election results remain uncertified

A revamped North Carolina State Board of Elections is expected to go into effect on or after January 31, 2019, following the dissolution of the old board last month.
Gov. Roy Cooper (D) will appoint three Democrats and two Republicans to the board from a list of nominees provided by each state party. Democratic nominees include three former members of the state board—Stella Anderson, Bob Cordle, and Valerie Johnson—and former Wake County election board member Greg Flynn.
Republicans have put forward former state board member Stacy Eggers, former Wake County board member Eddie Woodhouse, Buck Newton, and Francis De Luca.
While there is no board in place now, the results of North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District election are still pending as the board’s professional staff continues to investigate alleged election fraud. On January 22, Wake County Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway denied Mark Harris’ request to certify the election results, saying it would be inappropriate for him to order certification while there was a pending investigation.

Senate rejects two proposals to end the partial government shutdown

On January 24, 2019, the U.S. Senate rejected two proposals to end the partial government shutdown that began on December 22, 2018. The plan backed by President Donald Trump failed by a vote of 50-47. It needed 60 votes to pass. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) was the only Democrat who supported the bill. Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) were the only Republicans who opposed the bill. The legislation proposed allocating $5.7 billion in border-wall funding, providing temporary protections for DACA and certain Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients, and funding unfunded government agencies.
The Democratic-backed plan failed by a vote of 52-44. Six Republicans—Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Cory Gardner (Colo.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Mitt Romney (Utah), and Johnny Isakson (Ga.)—voted with Democrats for the continuing resolution to fund the government through February 8, 2019. It did not include funding for border security.
The votes took place on the 34th day of the partial shutdown. Trump said that he would not sign legislation to reopen the federal government if it does not include funding for a border wall or barrier. Democrats have refused to vote for funding for a border wall.

Richard Ojeda suspends 2020 presidential campaign

Former West Virginia State Senator Richard Ojeda (D) suspended his 2020 campaign for President of the United States on Friday. Ojeda served in the West Virginia State Senate from 2016 through 2019. He lost a bid to represent the state’s 3rd Congressional district in 2018 to Carol Miller (R).
Ojeda was one of nine Democratic elected officials or notable public figures that had filed to run for president with the Federal Election Commission or announced exploratory committees.
Ojeda is the first to suspend a campaign.
The others still running:
* Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, announced that he was running for president on January 23, 2019.
* Julian Castro, a former U.S. secretary of housing and urban development and San Antonio mayor, formally announced his candidacy on January 12, 2019.
* John Delaney, a former U.S. representative from Maryland, filed to run for president on August 10, 2017.
* Tulsi Gabbard, a U.S. representative from Hawaii, announced that she had decided to run for president on January 11, 2019.
* Kirsten Gillibrand, a U.S. senator from New York, announced that she was running for president on January 15, 2019.
* Kamala Harris, a U.S. senator from California, announced that she was running for president on January 21, 2019.
* Elizabeth Warren, U.S. senator from Massachusetts, announced she had formed an exploratory committee on December 31, 2018.
* Andrew Yang, an entrepreneur from New York, filed to run for president on November 6, 2017.
As of January 24, 2019, 479 candidates had already filed with the FEC to run for president.

Federal Register weekly update; four final rules published as government shutdown continues

The Federal Register is a daily journal of federal government activity that includes presidential documents, proposed and final rules, and public notices. It is a common measure of an administration’s regulatory activity.
During the week of January 21 to January 25, the number of pages in the Federal Register increased by 212 pages, bringing the year-to-date total to 406 pages. A total of 41 documents were included in the week’s Federal Register, including 26 notices, nine presidential documents, two proposed rules, and four final rules.
One proposed rule was deemed significant under E.O. 12866—meaning that it may have large impacts on the economy, environment, public health, or state or local governments. Significant actions may also conflict with presidential priorities or other agency rules.
Due to the government shutdown, fewer pages have been added the Federal Register in 2019 as compared to recent years. During the same week in 2018, the number of pages in the Federal Register increased by 1,052 pages. As of January 25, the 2019 total trailed the 2018 total by 3,530 pages.
The Trump administration has added an average of 102 pages to the Federal Register each week in 2019 as of January 25. In 2018, the Trump administration added an average of 1,301 pages to the Federal Register each week. Over the course of the Obama administration, the Federal Register increased by an average of 1,658 pages per week.
According to government data, the Federal Register hit an all-time high of 95,894 pages in 2016.
Click here to find more information about weekly additions to the Federal Register in 2018 and 2017. Click here to find yearly information about additions to the Federal Register from 1936 to 2016.
Ballotpedia maintains page counts and other information about the Federal Register as part of its Administrative State Project. The project is a neutral, nonpartisan encyclopedic resource that defines and analyzes the administrative state, including its philosophical origins, legal and judicial precedents, and scholarly examinations of its consequences. The project also monitors and reports on measures of federal government activity.