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Yes, the shutdown has taken a toll on Trump

Yes, the shutdown has taken a toll on Trump
President Donald Trump, along with Vice President Mike Pence, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, speaks to reporters after the Senate Republican policy luncheon in Washington on Jan. 9, 2019. Copyright Jim Lo Sclazo EPA
Copyright Jim Lo Sclazo EPA
By Chuck Todd and Mark Murray and Carrie Dann with NBC News Politics
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First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.


WASHINGTON — So we guess that the buck doesn't stop with everybody after all.

In addition to national polls showing that a majority of Americans and voters blame President Trump more for the partial government shutdown — which is now in its 27th day and counting — they also have his approval rating below where it was on the eve of the 2018 midterms.

  • A new NPR/PBS/Marist poll has the president's approval at 39 percent among all adults - down from 42 percent in December.
  • Gallup has it at 37 percent - down from 39 percent last month.
  • Per Quinnipiac, Trump's job rating is at 41 percent among registered voters - up from 39 percent in December.
  • Pew has it at 37 percent among all Americans - down from 38 percent in September.
  • And CNN has it at 37 percent among all adults - down from 39 percent in December.

That's an approval rating average of 38 percent from those five different national surveys. (And just in case you wanted to throw in Rasmussen, Trump's favorite pollster, they have it at 43 percent.) Compare that with the fall of 2018, when most polls showed the president's job rating in the low- to mid-40s.

Many of us in the political community have grown numb to how poll numbers about Trump rarely change — most Americans made up their minds about the president in his first few months in office, and those opinions have barely budged since then.

But don't let that reality distract you from the clear evidence that this shutdown has chipped away at Trump's numbers.

As we learned in 2018, an approval rating in the low 40s is a terrible place for a president and his party to be. And right now, it's worse than that.

Trump: "We are getting crushed"

And if you don't believe these numbers on Trump's standing during the shutdown, then maybe you'll believe this, via the New York Times:

"'We are getting crushed!' Mr. Trump told his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, after watching some recent coverage of the shutdown, according to one person familiar with the conversation. 'Why can't we get a deal?'"

Also: "Mr. Trump has told them he believes over time the country will not remember the shutdown, but it will remember that he staged a fight over his insistence that the southern border be protected. He wants Democrats to come back to the table agreeing with his position on a wall, and he does not understand why they have not."

And: "But despite his public bravado, and the tweets about 'Radical Democrats,' Mr. Trump has had recurring moments of frustration as he takes in negative news coverage of the shutdown, pointing his finger at aides for not delivering the deal he wants."

Also on the shutdown front, Speaker Nancy Pelosi yesterday sent a letter to Trump, asking the president to delay his State of the Union address set for January 29 - or give it in writing - until the shutdown concludes.

Our question: Why did Pelosi make her argument about security — "[B]oth the U.S. Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security have not been funded for 26 days now — with critical departments hamstrung by furloughs," she wrote Trump" — and not that ordinary business should be postponed until the shutdown is resolved?

Rudy Giuliani: "I never said there was no collusion between the campaign or between people in the campaign"

You knew this was eventually coming, right?

Per NBC News:

"'I never said there was no collusion between the campaign or between people in the campaign,' Giuliani told CNN's Chris Cuomo, who immediately pushed back on that point."

"'I have not,' Giuliani said in doubling-down on his first remark. 'I said the president of the United States. There is not a single bit of evidence the president of the United States committed the only crime you could commit here, conspired with the Russians to hack the DNC.'"

But here's an earlier interview that Giuliani gave on Fox News, per MSNBC's Benjamin Pu:

BENSON: Regardless of whether collusion would be a crime, is it still the position of you and your client that there was no collusion with the Russians whatsoever on behalf of the Trump campaign?


GIULIANI: Correct.

And here was President Trump to Lester Holt in May of 2017:

"This was set up by the Democrats. There is no collusion between me and my campaign and the Russians. The other thing is the Russians did not affect the vote. And everybody seems to think that."

The question we have: Did Giuliani saying "I never said there was no collusion between the campaign" mean he knows there's a shoe about to drop? Or was Rudy just being Rudy on TV?

The Atlantic makes the case for impeachment —to have a debate about the president's conduct in office

In the Atlantic, Yoni Appelbaum makes the case to have impeachment proceedings against Trump — not to remove him from office, per se, but to have a national debate over whether he's upheld the oath of office he took.


On January 20, 2017, Donald Trump stood on the steps of the Capitol, raised his right hand, and solemnly swore to faithfully execute the office of president of the United States and, to the best of his ability, to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. He has not kept that promise.

Instead, he has mounted a concerted challenge to the separation of powers, to the rule of law, and to the civil liberties enshrined in our founding documents. He has purposefully inflamed America's divisions. He has set himself against the American idea, the principle that all of us—of every race, gender, and creed—are created equal.


The electorate passes judgment on its presidents and their shortcomings every four years. But the Framers were concerned that a president could abuse his authority in ways that would undermine the democratic process and that could not wait to be addressed. So they created a mechanism for considering whether a president is subverting the rule of law or pursuing his own self-interest at the expense of the general welfare—in short, whether his continued tenure in office poses a threat to the republic. This mechanism is impeachment.

[snip again]


The fight over whether Trump should be removed from office is already raging, and distorting everything it touches. Activists are radicalizing in opposition to a president they regard as dangerous. Within the government, unelected bureaucrats who believe the president is acting unlawfully are disregarding his orders, or working to subvert his agenda. By denying the debate its proper outlet, Congress has succeeded only in intensifying its pressures. And by declining to tackle the question head-on, it has deprived itself of its primary means of reining in the chief executive.

Gillibrand talks to the press a day after announcing her 2020 exploratory committee

"I believe that what people want in our state and around the country is someone who will fight for them and someone who not only understands what their problems actually are but will then do what it takes to solve that problem," Gillibrand told reporters in Troy, N.Y., yesterday. "You have to be willing to have the courage and the compassion and the fearless determination to take on those battles. And they just need to know that you understand them."

And here was Gillibrand on Maddow last night: "One of the reasons why I'm running for president is I want to restore that leadership in the world. We have to restore the integrity. We have to restore the stability. We have to make sure that America continues to be that beacon of light and hope for the world."

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