Today’s edition of quick hits:
* The testimony won’t be optional: “The Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday subpoenaed Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer, Cohen’s attorney, Lanny Davis, confirmed to NBC News.”
* Asylum policy: “The Trump administration plans to begin turning asylum-seekers back across the southern border on Friday to wait in Mexico under a new policy designed to crack down on immigration by Central American families, according to three Department of Homeland Security officials familiar with the matter.”
* This sounds like a security risk: “The partial government shutdown is straining air travel and posing safety concerns, aviation unions warned as air traffic controllers and other federal aviation workers prepare to miss second paycheck.”
* This isn’t just bad news for an industry; it’s bad news for a democracy that needs a healthy free press to thrive; “Wednesday served as a harbinger of what’s in store for the [media] industry, with HuffPost’s parent company Verizon announcing a 7% cut to staff in its media division, a portfolio that also includes Yahoo and AOL. Within hours of that news breaking, BuzzFeed confirmed that it will lay off 15% of its staff. And journalists at Gannett, the nation’s largest newspaper chain, shared grim stories throughout the day on Wednesday as the company shed dozens of staffers throughout the country. In all, the media industry lost about 1,000 jobs nationwide this week.”
* Oh, Florida: “The newly-appointed secretary of state in Florida resigned Thursday after a 2005 photo of him reportedly in blackface mocking Hurricane Katrina victims surfaced. The photo, obtained by the Tallahassee Democrat, shows Secretary of State Mike Ertel with brown face paint, wearing red lipstick, earrings and a New Orleans Saints bandanna. Ertel also had fake breasts under a purple shirt that said ‘Katrina Victim,’ according to the Democrat.”
* This does not inspire confidence: “White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney has pressed agency leaders to provide him with a list of the highest-impact programs that will be jeopardized if the shutdown continues into March and April, people familiar with the directive said.”
* The Texas Democrat appears to have a problem: “House Democrats are sidelining Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee as she battles a lawsuit claiming that she retaliated against and fired a former employee who alleged rape by a colleague.”
* This was quite a sight: “Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, sparred with Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., in a fiery exchange on the Senate floor as lawmakers dueled over reopening the government as the shutdown reached its 34th day.”
* Gary Cohn, the former top economic voice in Donald Trump’s White House, was asked more than once on MSNBC this morning whether the president understands “basic economics.” He didn’t want to answer.
Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.