Early Warning for 29 January 2019

Good morning. Here’s your Early Warning for Tuesday, 29 January 2019.


White House

The President has no publicly scheduled events.

17: The number of days Pelosi and Trump have left before another partial shutdown.

SOTU: Speaker Pelosi has invited President Trump to give the State of the Union address in the House chamber on Tuesday, 05 February.

Venezuela: The Trump administration announced sanctions against Venezuela’s state-owned oil company yesterday. (And National Security Advisor John Bolton appeared to have scrawled “5,000 troops to Colombia” on a notepad yesterday — presumably to deter Venezuelan military action, or as peacekeepers.) The Bank of England recently refused to repatriate Venezuelan gold. It’s clear that the West is trying to starve out the Maduro regime, reduce their access to money, and ultimately depose Maduro. Consider this: Russia went into Syria to prop up the Assad regime because the prospect of a pro-U.S. government there was untenable for Russia’s strategic objectives. China has also objected to what amounts to regime change. There exists a distinct possibility that either country will move to offer material support to Maduro.

Crisis: A former Obama staffer accused the Trump administration of not being prepared to face a foreign policy crisis. Notable quote from his New York Times op-ed: “There is no shortage of possible candidates [for a crisis] — a major terrorist attack; a debilitating cyberattack; an infectious disease outbreak; an incident with North Korea, Iran, China or Russia that escalates into a broader conflict.” [source]

Mueller: “The [Mueller] investigation is, I think, close to being completed, and I hope that we can get the report from Director Mueller as soon as possible.” – Matt Whitaker, Acting Attorney General


State Department

Secretary Pompeo is scheduled to meet with the Algerian foreign minister.


Defense Department

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan is scheduled to hold an off-camera press conference.

National Security Director Gen. Paul Nakasone is scheduled to provide Senate testimony on worldwide threats.

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

The John Stennis (CVN-74) was last reported as in the North Arabian Sea.

The Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) is forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan. (h/t Ray for the clarification)



Significant House Activity:

  • The Budget Committee will hold a hearing on the Congressional Budget Office’s economic outlook for 2019-2029.

Significant Senate Activity:

  • The Intelligence Committee will hold a hearing on worldwide threats.
  • The Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on China and Russia.
  • The Budget Committee will hold a hearing on the Congressional Budget Office’s economic outlook for 2019-2029.

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



Trade talks between U.S. and Chinese officials resume tomorrow, and both sides are pumping up the importance. “The scope of these talks will be the broadest and deepest in U.S.-China history. We’ve never had anything this comprehensive,” said White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow. The Chinese will reportedly offer larger purchases of American farm and energy products, but I wouldn’t count on substantial structural changes that the Trump administration wants.

Far Left Daily

“Don’t help elect Trump, you egotistical billionaire a**hole!” – A stranger at a Howard Schultz book event. (AC: Schultz’s run as a “centrist independent” is widely seen by the Left as helping President Trump win re-election.)

“We’ve broken the social compact… At some point, people decided they didn’t want to pay to educate other people’s kids.” – Christopher Eisgruber, president of Princeton University


What I’m Looking at this Morning

USG seen as most corrupt in seven years

Brexiters preparing for economic instability

Davos elites fear populist revolt


Notable Quotable

“Social frictions remain a challenge for democracies around the world, and we wonder when investors might take more notice of this… Social cohesion is essential for those who have capital to invest… It can’t be business as usual amid constant protests, riots, shutdowns and escalating social tensions…There is no way to know how much debt is too much, but America will inevitably reach an inflection point whereupon a suddenly more skeptical debt market will refuse to continue to lend to us at rates we can afford. By the time such a crisis hits, it will likely be too late to get our house in order.” – Seth Klarman, Baupost Group, which manages $27 billion

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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