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Troops' protest of game blackout shuts down Trump scorn of NFL

By William Goldschlag and Dan Janison • Updated Jan 22, 2018 at 7:36 AM

Patriots’ games

Throughout the NFL season, Donald Trump encouraged fans to boycott the league, accusing the players who knelt during the national anthem of disrespecting America’s military.

Turns out, service members stationed overseas wanted respect for their wish to see Sunday’s playoff games.

When the American Forces Network went dark at midnight, blaming the government shutdown, its audience took their frustration to social media. The first response from the White House was to point a finger at Democrats.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, citing a message from an infantryman in Afghanistan, tweeted Saturday: “Sad that the men and women who have sacrificed so much are deprived of even the most basic connection to home bc Democrats are playing political games.”

On Sunday, Sanders and the Pentagon announced the AFN’s sports channel would be turned back on, based in part on “operational necessity,” and carry the games. What remained shut down, at least for the day, was White House cheerleading for those who switched off the NFL.

As for the games, New England rallied to defeat Jacksonville 24-20, while Philadelphia clobbered Minnesota 38-7. That means the Patriots and Eagles will meet Feb. 4 in the Super Bowl.

The same two teams played in Super Bowl XXXIX following the 2004 season, with New England winning 24-21.

American standoff

While conditions for a shutdown were already ripe, Trump’s racially charged remarks about “shithole countries” made a confrontation even more inevitable, The Washington Post writes.

Arguments over spending have taken a backseat to a conflict over immigration that pits nativist impulses unleashed by Trump’s 2016 campaign and now embraced by the GOP at large, against the demands of a Democratic base that more reflects and embraces an increasingly diverse nation.

Janison: Conflicts draw interest

Trump never put up a solid wall between the presidency and his business interests.

As he begins his second year in office, Trump’s personal-private issues still generate a regular drumbeat of news coverage, and the sons he put in charge of the Trump Organization regularly weigh in on politics, writes Newsday’s Dan Janison.

Among the latest: The Guardian reported a face-to-face meeting with Donald Trump Jr. was offered to the first 100 investors in a luxury property in India bearing the family name. Other reports describe how foreign governments have intervened to help improve areas around Trump-branded properties in their nations.

Conservatives cheer anniversary

Trump has done enough in his first year in office to make “people with conservative beliefs very happy and very surprised,” says New York Conservative Party chairman Mike Long.

That record includes getting conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch confirmed to the Supreme Court; passing a $1.5 trillion tax cut and ordering deregulation across agencies, largely through executive orders.

Pushed to the back burner are the more populist promises of Trump’s candidacy. See Emily Ngo’s story for Newsday.

Under-served at Genius Bar

By 73% to 21%, Americans disagree with Trump’s assessment of himself as a genius, according to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll. The survey also found 70% say he fails to acquit himself in a way that’s fitting and proper for a president, and two-thirds say his tweeting harms his presidency.

Even though approval of Trump remains low, a new CNN poll found the Democratic advantage on a generic congressional ballot for the midterm elections has tightened to 5 points among registered voters. Voters who say they are most enthusiastic about turning out to vote this fall favor Democrats by a wider 15-point margin.

No backup

The Justice Department gave Congress additional text messages involving an FBI agent who was removed from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigative team following discovery of derogatory comments about Trump.

But the department also said five months of messages were irretrievable because of a technical glitch. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who chairs the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said “the loss of records from this period is concerning.”

Meanwhile, House Republicans are divided over how to handle a classified memo compiled by House intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) that charges a surveillance program unfairly targeted the Trump campaign.

Some Trump allies signed on to a #releasethememo campaign on Twitter, but Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), a member of the committee, said making it public could compromise FBI sources and methods.

What else is happening

Trump is frustrated again at Senate rules that usually require 60 votes to end a filibuster so legislation can pass, report Newsday’s Laura Figueroa Hernandez and David M. Schwartz. He called for use of the “nuclear option.” A spokesman for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said no.

The Fire Island National Seashore was closed due to the federal government shutdown, but the iconic lighthouse remained open because it is operated by a private organization, Newsday’s Michael O’Keeffe reports.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Sunday he would use state funds to reopen the Statue of Liberty if the U.S. government shutdown continues.

Eric Trump strayed from the White House and Republican talking points about the shutdown being a terrible thing that the Democrats did. It’s a “good thing for us” politically, he said on Fox News’ “Justice with Judge Jeanine.”

U.S. intelligence officials have been unsettled by China’s efforts to cultivate and influence Jared Kusher, whose family business has sought Chinese investment, The New Yorker reports.


©2018 Newsday

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