1 Accused US Spy Allegedly Found With "State Secrets"
Things just got a lot more complicated for Paul Whelan, the American accused of spying in Russia. Officials claim he was found with evidence that "constitutes state secrets." According to his Russian lawyer, Whelan was handed a flash drive he thought contained cultural information – and pictures – not secrets. What it reportedly had on it? A list of Russian agents. As the story goes, Whelan had asked for some information that was originally emailed. When he couldn’t download it, he asked the unnamed person to put it on a flash drive. He later got it, and his lawyer says he hadn’t even had an opportunity to open the files before he was picked up. Now 48-year-old Whelan stands charged with suspicion of carrying out an act of espionage. And while his family has denied the accusation, saying Whelan was in the country only for a short vacation and a wedding, the Moscow City Court, ruled to keep him in custody. He faces 20 years in prison.
2 McConnell: Time To Get Serious About Ending Shutdown
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says it is time to get serious about ending the partial government shutdown. McConnell praised the compromise Trump floated Saturday, trading temporary protections for Dreamers for nearly six-billion dollars in border wall funding. Of course, Democrats called it a “non-starter” and demanded that Trump open the government first. Now? McConnell plans a vote on Trump's proposal today. If that fails, a competing measure from Senator Minority Leader Chuck Schumer will get a crack – one that would extend government funding for three weeks. Neither measure is expected to advance, but the move is described as a compromise between McConnell and Schumer. Trump could veto one or both of the bills, prolonging the partial shutdown, which enters its 34th day today.
3 Despite Uncertainty, White House Still Prepping State Of Union Address
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s “suggestion” to delay aside, the White House is still planning for President Trump to deliver his State of the Union address on January 29th. As we told you before, Pelosi asked Mr. Trump to postpone the big speech until after the partial government shutdown is over. She cited security concerns, related to the shutdown, but has not officially rescinded her invitation to Trump to address Congress. Of course, it’s possible that Trump could deliver the address from another venue, including the Oval Office or the Senate. Republicans control the Senate, but the Senate chamber is considerably smaller than the House chamber. No matter the locale, the White House is still preparing for the annual event. A small army of White House speechwriters and aides typically spend weeks preparing notes and drafts for the address. So one way or another, President Trump will give his address January 29th.