Early Warning for 14 January 2019

Good morning. Here’s your Early Warning for Monday, 14 January 2019.


InFocus: Peter Baker, reporting for the New York Times this morning, summarized President Trump’s situation: ‘survival’ is a good word for it.

“The real battle has yet to begin. With Democrats now in charge of the House, the special counsel believed to be wrapping up his investigation, news media outlets competing for scoops and the first articles of impeachment already filed, Mr. Trump faces the prospect of an all-out political war for survival that may make the still-unresolved partial government shutdown pale by comparison.”

Between the 85-100 investigations House Democrats will launch into Trump Inc., and the Mueller report which right now is falling far short of a case for collusion, I still expect Democrats to make a sustained case for impeachment, potentially for something as little as firing James Comey, which Democrats say is an abuse of authority.

Now, Democrats are focusing on the interpreter during President Trump’s 2017 meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin. House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) says he will work “to obtain notes or testimony from the interpreter”.

Meanwhile: Bernie Sanders is staffing his run for president. And Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), who last Friday announced she was running for president in 2020, was just outed last night for working for an anti-gay group in the late 1990s. Her run was good while it lasted.


White House

The President is scheduled to give a speech at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 100th Annual Convention in New Orleans, Louisiana, and then host a welcoming ceremony to the Clemson Tigers football team at the White House.

Shutdown: At 24 days, it’s now the longest on record. President Trump took to Twitter last night to say: “[America’s Southern] Border is eventually going to be militarized and defended or the United States, as we have known it, is going to cease to exist…And Americans will not go gentle into that good night. Patrick Buchanan. The great people of our Country demand proper Border Security NOW!”. [source]

According to Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), President Trump sees a national emergency as an option of last resort. The president is being lobbied heavily by Congressional Republicans not to make that precedent, fearing what the next Democrat president could do with it, such as making climate change a national emergency to enact whatever policies he or she can’t get through the Congress.


State Department

Secretary Pompeo is in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to discuss with Saudi officials the killing of Jamal Khashoggi and the blockade of Qatar.


Defense Department

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has no publicly scheduled events.


These are the last publicly reported locations of these ships. Conflict requiring an aircraft carrier/carrier strike group does not appear imminent.

The Carl Vinson (CVN-70) was last reported on a three month deployment to the Western Pacific.

The Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) was last reported as having returned to Norfolk.

The John Stennis (CVN-74) was last reported as in the Persian Gulf.

The Harry Truman (CVN-75) was last reported as having returned to Norfolk.

The Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) was last reported as having returned to home port in Yokosuka, Japan.

The George H. W. Bush (CVN-77) was last reported as having returned to Norfolk.


Bold indicates significant changes to last reported location or other amplifying information.



Significant House Activity:

  • Nothing significant to report.

Significant Senate Activity:

  • Nothing significant to report.

* Only events pertinent to national security are listed. Significant reporting will appear in this week’s Strategic and National Intelligence reports



We’re officially in corporate earnings season and are about to see how U.S. corporations fared in the last quarter. By Wednesday, we should hear from major banks and financial institutions, including Citibank (today), JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, BlackRock, and Goldman Sachs. Higher-than-expected earnings may ward off some recession talk, while poor earnings will drive recession fears. (UPDATE: Citigroup misses revenue expectations but beats earnings expectations.)

Finally. New data from China shows some real cracks forming in their trade battle with President Trump. December imports dropped 7.7 percent and exports dropped 4.4 percent (year over year), putting more pressure on Chinese president Xi Jinping to cut a deal to stop the trade war. Analysts were surprised because they expected a 2.0 percent increase in exports and 4.5 percent increase in imports. The latest numbers show that not only are the Trump tariffs hurting Chinese exports, but also that Chinese domestic demand is weakening, evidenced by falling imports.


What I’m Looking at this Morning

Trump threatens economic sanctions on Turkey if they attack Kurds

Indonesia arming up in the South China Sea

China sends ballistic missiles to northwest region


Notable Quotable

“I’m going to let it be up to [Democrats]. You pick these fights at your own peril. [Barr will] be challenged for sure. Hopefully respectfully.” – Senator Lindsey Graham, comparing William Barr’s nomination process to Attorney General and Kavanaugh’s nomination process to the Supreme Court

Samuel Culper is a former military intelligence NCO and contract Intelligence analyst. He spent three years in Iraq and Afghanistan and is now the intelligence and warfare researcher at Forward Observer.

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