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In today’s edition: Donald Trump romps in Iowa, the race moves onto New Hampshire, and Congress face͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌ 
snowstorm Washington
sunny Des Moines
snowstorm Manchester
rotating globe
January 16, 2024


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Today in D.C.
  1. Trump’s Iowa victory
  2. Next up: New Hampshire
  3. Hot Iowa takes
  4. Snow snarls D.C.
  5. Imports return to normal
  6. IRGC in Yemen

PDB: Poll: Majority of Americans back end of affirmative action

Punchbowl: Congress reaches $78 billion tax dealZelenskyy meets Wall Street CEOs in Davos … Israel launches cross-border operation in Lebanon

— edited by Benjy Sarlin, Jordan Weissmann and Morgan Chalfant


Trump romps in Iowa

REUTERS/Sergio Flores

Donald Trump won the Iowa caucus in a blowout, putting him on the precipice of a third straight Republican nomination. It was, in many ways, the dream scenario for Trump when he first announced after the 2022 midterms: A dominant performance, a divided field bitterly fighting for scraps, and little sign of consolidation behind any of them. In an unusually conciliatory victory speech, he opened with warm praise for the opponents he had been bashing for months, perhaps suggesting he felt their threat easing. “We want to come together, whether it’s Republican or Democrat or liberal or conservative,” he said. “It would be so nice if we could come together and straighten out the world and straighten out the problems and straighten out all of the death and destruction that we’re witnessing.”

The race was called by CNN at 7:30 p.m. local time, and similarly early at other outlets, before many precincts had even voted (a source of consternation for Ron DeSantis). But network entrance polls found only 1 in 5 voters made up their minds in the race’s final days and the electorate was very MAGA: 66% of caucusgoers said Biden did not legitimately win the 2020 election and Trump cleaned up with this group (Nikki Haley won the rest). Trump won the race with 51% unconventionally, eschewing traditional campaigning while putting in significant time in courtrooms. But while other candidates visited all of Iowa’s 99 counties, Trump won 98 of them, trailing Haley in Johnson County by a single vote as of this morning. He accomplished all this with Gov. Kim Reynolds backing Ron DeSantis.

The race for second was so closely watched that the New York Times created a second “needle” just to forecast the runner-up. In the end, DeSantis held onto a narrow 21% to 19% lead over Haley, who had overtaken him in some late polls. “I can tell you that because of you, in spite of all that they threw at us, everyone against us, we got our ticket punched out of Iowa,” a defiant DeSantis said. Haley predicted that ticket wouldn’t be valid long: “When you look at how we’re doing in New Hampshire, in South Carolina, and beyond, I can safely say that tonight, Iowa made this a two-person race.” As for Vivek Ramaswamy, he suspended his campaign and endorsed Trump after a single-digit finish.


The GOP race moves to New Hampshire

REUTERS/Brian Snyder

The three Republicans who made it out of Iowa will campaign in New Hampshire today — though Ron DeSantis will stop in South Carolina first. Trump will rally voters at a country club near the Massachusetts border, Haley will head to a resort near Mt. Washington, and DeSantis will hold his own town hall in Claremont before joining CNN for a primetime event. Haley’s hoped-for “two-person race” was already underway in New Hampshire, where DeSantis is polling in the single digits and has been off the air for weeks, while she’s looked vaguely competitive against Trump in some recent surveys. “As we head to New Hampshire, I have one more thing to say: Underestimate me, because that’s always fun,” she said in her speech last night. She’ll be playing on favorable terrain, with moderate Gov. Chris Sununu on her side and a large block of unaffiliated voters to woo who play a larger role than in other states.

But Haley also didn’t put DeSantis away, and Never Back Down staff who gathered at their Manchester headquarters on Monday were in a cheerful mood. They speculated that Ramaswamy’s exit, despite his instant Trump endorsement, could help DeSantis. By staying in, DeSantis will also get the chance to debate Haley again in a Thursday debate hosted by ABC News and WMUR and a Sunday debate hosted by CNN. Haley has not yet committed to the debates, which clash with her hope for a straight shot at Trump.

— David Weigel


The post-Iowa consensus: Trump is inevitable

REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

The headlines from around the web will only add to Donald Trump’s inevitability, after a historic showing in Iowa. The Washington Post’s Dan Balz writes that Iowa follows a “prewritten script” that ends with a rematch between Trump and President Biden in November. Lisa Lerer, Maggie Haberman, and Jonathan Swan write in the New York Times that the close finish of Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley “gave both a rationale for continuing their campaigns, which is likely to help Mr. Trump.” Adam Wren and Natalie Allison write in Politico that Trump “could all but end the primary next week in New Hampshire.” Politico’s Jonathan Martin says Haley had the worst night besides Vivek Ramaswamy because, after New Hampshire, the contest in South Carolina and beyond “looks more like Iowa.” “Donald Trump demonstrated Monday night that it’s still his Republican Party,” Eric Bradner writes for CNN. GOP voters see Trump “as the inevitable nominee, and they’re already falling in line,” one former Romney campaign aide told the Financial Times.


Snow shutters some of D.C., but not Congress (yet)

Rabia Iclal Turan/Anadolu via Getty Images

Could a not-quite-Iowa-level snowstorm in D.C. delay Congress’ work on a short-term bill to fund the government? The federal government and D.C. Public Schools are closed today due to the storm, and the wintry weather across the country could make it difficult for members to return to Washington. There’s no word yet on votes being canceled in the House and Senate, and Punchbowl News reports this morning that both chambers were moving forward with votes as of Monday night. The Senate is supposed to take a procedural vote on the vehicle for the stopgap funding bill that congressional leaders unveiled on Sunday. The government faces a partial shutdown on Friday night if the continuing resolution isn’t passed, but we’re not expecting that to happen. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. is also expected to force a vote this evening on a measure that would require the Biden administration to report to Congress on whether Israel is engaged in human rights abuses in Gaza (the Biden administration opposes it).


The quiet reason America fixed its supply chain crisis

Economists are still duking it out over the question of why inflation fell so much over the past year without much in the way of job losses. But it seems that at least part of the answer can be measured in shipping containers. In 2023, the physical volume of imports arriving at U.S. ports fell back to roughly pre-pandemic levels, according to data from Panjiva and S&P Global Market Intelligence. It was the second straight year of decline following the record surge of imports in 2021, which overwhelmed ports and warehouses, leaving lines of container ships idling offshore. Those boats became some of the most recognizable symbols of the supply chain crisis that helped fuel U.S. inflation. Falling container volumes have allowed that crisis to subside, taking some pressure off prices in the process. One lesson? Many of the “supply chain” problems that marred the economy in 2021 were the result of Americans going on an unprecedented shopping spree. “We’ve always characterized the pressure on shipping and ports as being driven primarily by a demand boom rather than an operational failure,” Chris Rogers, who manages the supply chain research team at S&P Global Market Intelligence, told me. “The decline in demand for consumer goods, combined with inventory destocking by retailers, effectively removed all the pressure from ports and shipping firms.”

Jordan Weissmann


Iranian advisers in Yemen as Red Sea confrontations deepen

Sayed Hassan/Getty Images

Iran has deployed personnel from its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to Yemen, according to Semafor’s Jay Solomon, who reports they are “playing a direct role in Houthi rebel attacks on commercial traffic in the Red Sea.” The advisers include missile and drone trainers and operators and personnel providing intelligence support to the Houthis. Iran has also transferred drones, cruise missiles, and medium-range ballistic missiles to them through its Qods Force. The news adds another layer of danger to the confrontations between the U.S. and Houthis in the Red Sea, and may further raise concerns about a widening war. The U.S. military said Monday that an American-owned commercial vessel in the Gulf of Aden was struck by a Houthi anti-ship ballistic missile, a day after the Pentagon said it shot down a Houthi missile fired at a U.S. destroyer in the Red Sea. Those attacks followed U.S.-led strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen. And in Iraq on Monday, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards took responsibility for strikes in Erbil that it said targeted “the espionage headquarters of Israel’s Mossad in Iraq’s Kurdistan.” The strikes were close to the U.S. consulate, but the White House said no U.S. personnel or facilities were targeted. The U.S. condemned the strikes, calling them “reckless.”


Beltway Newsletters

Punchbowl News: House and Senate lawmakers negotiating a tax package are expected to unveil a $78 billion framework later today.

Playbook: Media organizations’ decision to call the race after barely 30 minutes in Iowa confused voters, some of whom had not yet voted — and it happened so early that most of Donald Trump’s staff hadn’t even made it to the candidate’s election night party yet.

Axios: White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan is giving a speech at Davos today that will focus on the Biden administration’s handling of the wars in Gaza and Ukraine and competition with China.

White House

  • The White House announced that President Biden would meet with a bipartisan group of city leaders attending the U.S. Conference of Mayors on Friday.
  • The White House was the latest target of a swatting incident. A “significant number of emergency personnel” were sent to the building on Monday morning after a false 911 call about a fire and someone trapped inside. — CNN
  • Vice President Harris dropped in on the University of South Carolina’s women’s basketball team yesterday during a trip to the state for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
  • Harris laughed off attacks from Nikki Haley. “Let’s see what Iowa says to her!” she told ABC News ahead of last night’s results.
  • Some Biden administration employees are reportedly planning to walk out of work today in protest of President Biden’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war.

Outside the Beltway

A man was shot and killed on a subway train in Brooklyn while trying to break up a fight between two passengers arguing about loud music. — CBS


Boeing’s resumption of its 737 Max deliveries to China is now being delayed following the incident aboard an Alaska Airlines flight earlier this month, as Beijing orders additional safety inspections of the jets. — WSJ

While economists believe the impact of the Houthis’ Red Sea attacks on the price of goods will be “relatively contained,” the confrontations have raised larger concerns about the impact on oil prices. — FT


  • Donald Trump’s second defamation trial that will settle what damages he owes to columnist E. Jean Carroll for statements he made about her in 2019 kicks off in New York today. The judge is allowing Trump to testify, despite concerns raised by Carroll’s lawyers, but not until next week.
  • Meanwhile, attorney Joe Tacopina will no longer represent Trump in his criminal trial in New York or his separate effort to appeal the verdict in the first Carroll defamation case.
  • Nadine Menendez was charged alongside her husband, Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., but she’s asking a judge to separate their two cases.


Sixty-eight percent of U.S. adults say that the Supreme Court’s decision last year to strike down affirmative action is “mostly a good thing,” but views differ depending on race, according to new polling from Gallup. The share who view the decision positively is highest among white adults (78%) and lowest among Black adults (52%). And younger Black Americans are more likely than their older counterparts to view the court’s decision in a positive light: 62% of those aged 18-39 said so, while only 44% of those over 40 years old said so, according to Gallup’s research.


  • President Biden told Al Sharpton he decided to run for reelection in part due to “anti-democratic” statements voiced by Donald Trump.
  • Biden challenger Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn. suggested he could tap Elon Musk and Bill Ackman for Cabinet positions if he won a long-shot bid for the White House during an X Spaces conversation.

National Security

  • Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was discharged from Walter Reed, two weeks after he was admitted. The Pentagon says he will work from home for some period of time before returning to work. His doctors predicted he would make a “full recovery” and said his prostate cancer “was treated early and effectively” and would not require more treatment.
  • The U.S. military recovered Iranian-made missile warheads during the mission near Somalia last week during which two Navy SEALs went missing after falling into the water. — Washington Post

Foreign Policy

  • Ukraine claimed it shot down a Russian spy plane and a command center aircraft, in what would be a major blow to Russia’s war effort.
  • The Chinese have sent such a large delegation to Davos that Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s staff are trying to arrange a meeting with a Swiss official, just to make sure the host country doesn’t feel like it got short shrift from Washington. — Politico


  • John Deere is signing a deal with Elon Musk’s Starlink so that tractors and other products can connect to the internet in remote areas, accelerating the tractor maker’s digital push. — WSJ
  • OpenAI debuted new tools that the company says will help prevent its technology from being used to spread election misinformation.


Sinclair executive chairman David Smith purchased the Baltimore Sun from Alden Capital. The conservative Maryland businessman, who is purchasing a number of local publications, is known for making Sinclair’s local news stations read pro-Trump editorials on air.

Big Read

A teenage Israeli girl held captive by Hamas in Gaza, Agam Goldstein-Almog, shared her harrowing story with the Washington Post. She detailed how her captors forced her to recite Islamic prayers, renamed her “Salsabil,” permitted her only five showers in 51 days of captivity, and forbade her from crying over her family members slain by militants during the Oct. 7 attack. Her captors said she would remain in Gaza for years and would be married off to someone there. “They took me, what remained of my family and it felt like, ‘That’s it, now we are living in Gaza,’” Goldstein-Almog, who was released in November during the hostage exchange deal, told the Post.


Stories that are being largely ignored by either left-leaning or right-leaning outlets, according to data from our partners at Ground News.

What the Left isn’t reading: House Republicans plan to issue another subpoena to Hunter Biden.

What the Right isn’t reading: Business Insider stood by its reporting on plagiarism allegations made against Bill Ackman’s wife, former MIT professor Neri Oxman.

Principals Team

Editors: Benjy Sarlin, Jordan Weissmann, Morgan Chalfant

Editor-at-Large: Steve Clemons

Reporters: Kadia Goba, Joseph Zeballos-Roig, Shelby Talcott, David Weigel

One Good Text

Shelby Talcott is a reporter for Semafor covering Republican campaigns in 2024. She was at Donald Trump’s party in Iowa last night.

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