On Politics: The Biggest Stories of the Week

From the ongoing government shutdown to foreign policy changes in the Middle East, it’s been a busy week in American politics. Here are some of the biggest stories you might have missed (and some links if you’d like to read further).


The partial government shutdown has entered its 22nd day, making it the longest in American history.

Privately, many Republicans say the stalemate over the border wall has been made exponentially worse by White House ineptitude on Capitol Hill. On Friday, the president stepped back from declaring a national emergency under pressure from congressional Republicans, but there is still no end in sight.

On Tuesday night, President Trump used his first prime-time Oval Office address — one that was filled with misleading assertions — to pressure Congress into paying for his long-promised border wall.

More connections between Mr. Trump’s circle and Russian officials came to light this week. A formatting error by Paul Manafort’s lawyer revealed that Mr. Manafort, a former manager of the Trump campaign, shared polling data with a man tied to Russian intelligence.

House Democrats summoned Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, for a classified briefing about the government’s plans to end sanctions on companies linked to a Russian oligarch, Oleg V. Deripaska. Mr. Mnuchin told lawmakers that the White House played no formal role in the decision, and he said later that he would consider delaying the lifting of the sanctions so skeptics in Congress could have more time to review it.

Additional Reading

Prosecutors Examining Ukrainians Who Flocked to Trump Inaugural

Supreme Court Stays Out of Secret Case That May Be Part of Mueller Probe

Democrats Start Investigative Gears, but Slowly

President Trump’s national security adviser, John R. Bolton, appeared to roll back Mr. Trump’s decision to rapidly withdraw from Syria on Sunday, laying out conditions for a pullout that could leave American forces there for months or even years. Mr. Bolton — who found himself scrambling after Mr. Trump’s announcement — is at least partly responsible for the conditions that led to the president’s sudden move.

The president’s withdrawal plan fell into further disarray on Tuesday after Turkey’s leader rebuffed Mr. Bolton, angrily dismissing his demand that Turkey agree to protect America’s Kurdish allies.

Regardless of the turmoil, the American military began withdrawing some equipment (but no troops yet) from Syria on Friday.

Additional Reading

Pompeo Speech Lays Out Vision for Mideast, Taking Shots at Obama

Trump and Pompeo Embrace Autocrats and Disparage Opponents at Home

As U.S. Exits Syria, Mideast Faces a Post-American Era

Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s former personal lawyer, who implicated him in a hush-money scheme, will appear before Congress next month to give what he called “a full and credible account” of his work on behalf of Mr. Trump.

Emboldened House Democrats, seeking a politically charged debate on gun control, unveiled legislation to expand background checks to nearly all firearms purchases.

The federal budget deficit is on pace to top $1 trillion for the 2019 fiscal year, as revenue from Mr. Trump’s tariffs fails to keep up with losses from his signature corporate tax cuts.

A federal court has rejected Mr. Trump’s first major effort to cut payments for prescription drugs, saying the administration went far beyond its legal authority.

Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, who has earned a reputation for sometimes breaking from the Democratic Party line, said Friday that she would run for president.

Senator Bernie Sanders apologized to women on his 2016 presidential campaign after a series of reports revealed mistreatment of female staff members.

Gavin Newsom took the oath as California’s new governor, ending the Jerry Brown era and pledging to focus on the economic disparities that have plagued the state.

Former felons in Florida have begun registering to vote, after the approval in November of a historic ballot measure that restored the voting rights of as many as 1.5 million people.


Today’s On Politics briefing was compiled by Isabella Grullón Paz in New York.

Is there anything you think we’re missing? Anything you want to see more of? We’d love to hear from you. Email us at onpolitics@nytimes.com.