President Trump is meeting with conservative leaders on his immigration proposal this afternoon.
An official said the meeting is expected to include former Attorney General for Virginia Ken Cuccinelli, National Review editor-in-chief Rich Lowry and American Conservative Union chairman Matt Schlapp, among other figures.
The White House’s plan right now is to essentially dare House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to formally disinvite President Trump from addressing the nation.
Officials said they are planning to scale up pressure on Pelosi in the coming days to say one way or the other whether if he will be allowed to deliver the speech in the House Chamber. The hope is to force her hand — either to say he cannot speak from the House Chamber, or to allow it to move forward.
The White House hopes to throw into question her concerns about security, citing the Department of Homeland statements saying the United States Secret Service would be able to secure the venue, officials said. White House officials have also been driving that message during television appearances over the past 24 hours.
Why Trump wants an address (and not a rally): White House officials said they are hesitant to hold a campaign style rally instead of the State of the Union address because they realize it’s not formal enough to look like the traditional speech. The message they planned to deliver at the Capitol — even one shaped around the shutdown — would be much more tamped down than the President's usual rhetoric at a rally, where he often deviates from the script and works off the crowd.
It would also include other topic areas, like the economy and foreign policy, that might be hard to include in a speech on the border or in a political venue. And officials believe they have a positive message on both of those areas they want to break through.
Some officials believe a rally would just be seen as another campaign speech, which they acknowledge people have started to tune out. And there's a recognition it's harder to keep Trump on-message in a rally versus a more formal address. Officials also noted that networks rarely carry the rallies live.
The White House is looking at other venues: Right now, the White House is floating the idea of holding a rally outside Washington but not seriously, according to one official.
Officials have also looked again at the Oval Office and at other venues in the White House. The Oval Office is a tough sell for the President since he disliked the last one and the polls showed it changed zero people's minds. They like the East Room/Cross Hall and the Diplomatic Room. East Room would be easier to invite Republicans as an audience.
The White House just released a letter from President Trump to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi regarding the State of the Union address.
The President said he will be “fulfilling my constitutional duty” and that he looks “forward to seeing you on the evening on January 29th in the Chamber of the House of Representatives.”
Read the full letter below:
A White House official said the White House staff is continuing to look at a variety of options for President Trump’s speech next Tuesday, including speeches at the White House or perhaps outside of Washington. The official declined to shed light on what specifically is being discussed.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has not disinvited Trump from speaking at the US Capitol next Tuesday. However, last week, she sent Trump a letter asking him to postpone the speech until after the shutdown is over.
The official noted that there could be some wiggle room for Trump as a way out of the shutdown standoff. But the official warned Trump will not “cave” on the wall.
“He’ll deal, but not cave,” the official added.
President Donald Trump has not spoken with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi since the January 9 meeting that Trump abruptly left in the White House, according to an aide familiar with the matter.
A congressional aide also confirmed that the President has not spoken to Sen. Chuck Schumer since that January meeting.
The Speaker of the House's office said the White House never responded in writing to Nancy Pelosi's letter suggesting the State of the Union be postponed until after the shutdown.
Also of note: Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill also told CNN that the speaker has never received an official acceptance of the initial invitation to the President to deliver the speech January 29, after she initially invited Trump to do so on January 3, the first day of the new Congress.
Where Trump stands: The White House yesterday said it is forging ahead with plans for Trump to deliver his State of the Union address at the Capitol next week, as it had originally been scheduled.
The Transportation Security Administration has released its numbers for Tuesday. Nationwide, 7.4% of TSA employees called out, up from 3.2% a year earlier. That figure is similar to the unschedule absent rate the TSA saw on Monday.
Wait times continue to be reasonable nationwide, with 99.9% of travelers waiting less than 30 minutes to get through security. But there are pockets of problems at individual airports. In Atlanta and Boston, maximum wait times surpassed half an hour.
Democratic Caucus Chair Rep. Hakeem Jeffries told reporters this morning that it’s “highly unlikely” the State of the Union will happen in the House amid the government shutdown.
What this is all about: Last week, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi wrote President Tump a letter asking him to change the date of the State of the Union address because of the shutdown.
That letter did not call off the State of the Union, but keep this in mind: It’s up to the House speaker's to invite the President to give the State of the Union. And while there’s no precedent for it (that we're aware of), if Pelosi decides the President shouldn’t give his State of the Union at the US Capitol, he won't.
Both Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer have advised members NOT to bring family to Washington next week — an implication that the State of the Union is not going to happen, per source in a morning caucus meeting.
Members often invite spouses and other family to attend the State of the Union.
Last week, Pelosi wrote President Tump a letter asking him to change the date of the State of the Union address because of the shutdown.
But make no mistake: This is up to Pelosi. It’s the House speaker's prerogative to invite the President to give the State of the Union. While there’s no precedent for it (that we're aware of), if Pelosi decides the President shouldn’t go to the Capitol to speak on Jan. 29, the President will not go on Jan. 29