On Monday, as expected, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) announced in Austin that he plans to send 1,000 National Guard troops to the state's border with Mexico, to be a "force multiplier" for Operation Strong Safety, a state operation Perry initiated last month that includes sending state troopers to the border to help local law enforcement deal with an influx of Central American children and families in recent months. Processing and housing the children and teenagers has tied up U.S. Border Patrol agents.
The deployment of National Guard troops will cost an estimated $12 million a month, on top of the $1.3 million Texas is already spending on its state operation each week. Perry didn't say how he planned to pay for that, though state officials at his press conference said they'll ask the federal government to pick up the bill.
It's also not clear what exactly the 1,000 National Guard troops will do in the Rio Grande Valley. "If we were asked to, we could detain people," Texas Adjutant Gen. John Nichols said at Perry's briefing. "But we're not planning on that. We're planning on referring and deterring." A Texas National Guard spokeswoman later added that the guard forces "will not exceed their authorities," and will be operating under the "umbrella" of the state police.
State and local law enforcement can't detain people based solely on their immigration status, but they can tell the Border Patrol about people they suspect are in the U.S. illegally.
The Obama White House says it is open to deploying National Guard troops for humanitarian purposes as part of the president's $3.7 billion border package proposal. But it doesn't seem too excited about the idea as a standalone plan and suggested that Perry is motivated by political concerns at least as much as public safety. Perry, widely expected to run for president again in 2016, spent last weekend in Iowa, his fourth visit to the first-presidential-contest state in eight months. Here's an excerpt from Perry's announcement:
And below is a brief analysis from The Wall Street Journal. --Peter Weber
Forget livestreams or long waits exposed to the elements. Some wealthy spectators in Washington, D.C., could be splurging as much as $500,000 for an "Inauguration Day package" at Trump Hotel, The New York Times reports.
The deal was actually available as early as July last year, and did not hinge on Trump becoming president — "It's a pretty safe bet that no Democrat would want to help line the pockets of the GOP candidate, so if it's Hillary Clinton taking the oath of office [in January], the potential clientele will be all but nil," The Washington Post wrote last summer.
But with Trump just hours away from assuming the title of commander-in-chief, it's possible someone has taken the hotel up on the deal, which offers perks "including a dinner in the two-bedroom suite's oversized dining room, selecting from your choice of favorite POTUS menus from past galas" and "24/7 car service and two roundtrip first-class tickets from anywhere in the United States," Travel Market Report notes. Any travel agent who sold the package earned a $50,000 commission. Jeva Lange
President-elect Donald Trump heads into his inauguration Friday with historically low approval numbers that have dropped from 40 percent earlier this week to as low as 37 percent via a Fox News poll released today. For comparison, President Obama's favorables were around 80 percent when he took office in 2009, and it is typical for presidents to enjoy a sort of honeymoon period around the time of the inauguration.
One theory as to why Trump's numbers are so low: He's now subject to the same public distrust of authority that got him elected. Reason's Jesse Walker explains:
[L]ong before Trump ran for office, Americans' confidence in everything from Congress to banks to the media has been sinking. For years polls have told the same story: People are putting less faith in authority. Now the polls are telling a new variation on that story. ... The public distrust that helped propel Trump into the White House isn't going to go away now that he's there. Americans may yet persuade themselves that Trump is making the nation's institutions great, but for now he's the face of another institution in decline. [Reason]
In other words, Trump was elected to repudiate The Man. As of today, he is The Man. Bonnie Kristian
The main inaugural event is in Washington, D.C., but President-elect Donald Trump's supporters are partying in Eastern Europe, too.
Festivities are underway in incoming first lady Melania Trump's childhood town of Sevnica, Slovenia, a village of about 5,000 people. Sevnica Mayor Srecko Ocvirk has organized a celebration of local industry and products, as well as free tours of the town and its ancient castle.
Meanwhile, some in Russia are reportedly in the grip of "Trumpomania," with craftsmen creating commemorative trinkets including coins and nesting dolls to celebrate Trump's new position. The most enthusiastic are hosting all-night parties to watch the president-elect be sworn into office. "Trump's election has generated enormous enthusiasm in Russia because [of] his warm words about Russia," said Sergei Markov, a pro-Putin former lawmaker, adding, "We don't know for sure if there will be an improvement [in U.S.-Russian relations] or not. But we Russians are optimists." Bonnie Kristian
President-elect Donald Trump is set to be sworn into office Friday morning in Washington, D.C., becoming the 45th president of the United States. Inauguration Day involves several traditions for the incoming president, not least of which is the traditional welcome to the White House by the incumbent to his successor.
To that end, President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama welcomed Trump and his wife Melania at the White House's North Portico on Friday morning. Melania Trump presented Michelle Obama with a gift, and the four posed for a photo on the portico steps — watch the whole thing below. Kimberly Alters
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama welcome President-elect Trump and future First Lady Melania Trump to the White House. pic.twitter.com/umxRiHtnL0
— ABC News (@ABC) January 20, 2017
Kellyanne Conway indicated Friday morning that President-elect Donald Trump will waste no time getting down to business once he's sworn into office. In an interview on CBS This Morning, just hours ahead of Trump's inaugural ceremony, the top Trump adviser revealed Trump will "take a few of" his first actions as president "today." "It will be a shock to the system that is Washington, D.C., where the glacial pace has never seen a businessman in New York come through with ... the pen of the executive orders," Conway said.
Conway did not indicate what actions Trump may take Friday, but she did say the president-elect has a "five- or six-point plan in short order" that includes "repealing and replacing ObamaCare, regulatory relief, [and] tax reform." Most of what the president-elect will be doing between now and Monday is allowing "people to soak in the moment of this great time," Conway said. "I've seen him through many different emotions," Conway said. "I feel like he's just so ebullient and buoyant."
Catch Conway's interview below. Becca Stanek
Hours before President-elect Donald Trump is set to be sworn into office Friday, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) urged Americans still grappling with the reality of a Trump presidency to stand strong. In a lengthy Facebook post, Booker reminded Americans that this "is not a time to curl up, give up, or shut up," but to "stand up, to speak the words that heal, help, and recommit to the cause of our country."
Though Booker has pushed back against Trump, becoming the first sitting senator to testify against a fellow senator at the confirmation hearing of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Trump's nominee for attorney general, in his Facebook post Booker also noted the importance of building bridges and working to find "common ground." "Let us be humble and do the difficult work of finding ways to collaborate and cooperate with those whose political affiliations may differ from ours," Booker wrote. "But let us never, ever, surrender, forfeit, or retreat from our core values."
Read the entire post below. Becca Stanek
The Washington, D.C., metro might be nearly empty ahead of Donald Trump's inauguration Friday, but the same cannot be said for DuPont Circle:
Not a joke: There is a stream of people coming to get free marijuana in Dupont. Organizers guess ~8,000 free joints. pic.twitter.com/m20g1sWhCD
— Martin Austermuhle (@maustermuhle) January 20, 2017
Why are hundreds of people in line at DuPont Circle? "Free weed!" "Marijuana for all!" Whole block smells like, well, people smoking weed. pic.twitter.com/njGX7qSORm
— Josh Dawsey (@jdawsey1) January 20, 2017
It's legal in D.C. to possess two ounces or less of marijuana, to grow it, or to give it away. The free joints are courtesy of the D.C. Cannabis Coalition, which is pushing for federal legalization of pot. Later, the group will march to the National Mall, where four minutes and 20 seconds into Trump's speech, they plan to light up. Jeva Lange