Hi, pals. The government might shut down, Steve Bannon got subpoenaed and various senators have selected their hill to die on: the one where the president said "shithouse" instead of "shithole" in a meeting last week.

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Today, let’s talk about “shithole countries.”

What’s at stake

The government is facing another shutdown deadline, a DACA fix is on the ropes (again) and we're still arguing about exactly what derogatory term President Trump used to describe Haiti and African countries last week.

Some lawmakers have dismissed the comments as a distraction amidst intense DACA negotiations. But language like the kind the president used last week cuts to the core of what his presidency means — and what it's doing to foreign relations, to the business of governing, and to the future of hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants, nearly 6,000 of them in Pennsylvania, and more than 22,000 in New Jersey.​

The backstory

Last week Trump, in a bipartisan meeting at the White House, reportedly questioned why the U.S. was allowing in immigrants from "shithole countries" like Haiti and African nations. Sen. Dick Durbin, a Democrat, confirmed the remarks a day later; Sens. Tom Cotton and David Purdue, both Republicans, first said they didn't recall those remarks and then conveniently remembered that Trump hadn't said anything of the sort. He said "shithouse" instead! Big difference, pals.

The Washington Post reported last night that this conversation took place during a bipartisan meeting over DACA that was actually supposed to go pretty smoothly. On the phone that morning, Trump had praised a plan that Durbin and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham were working out; two hours later, the pair reportedly arrived at the White House to find Trump surrounded by immigration hardliners like Cotton and raring for a fight.

What’s ahead 

These are familiar themes, of course: the vulgarity, the racially-charged comments, the notion that Trump changes his mind based on the last person he's spoken to are tropes you could apply to half the big news from the last year.

And so the latest comments aren't a distraction: they're how this president does business. And the way he does business is tying up efforts to find a solution to DACA by a deadline that he set — and unleashing yet another debate over the way our lawmakers literally perceive reality. This presidency is a year old on Saturday. This is how it works now.

What they’re saying

"Senator Dicky Durbin totally misrepresented what was said at the DACA meeting. Deals can't get made when there is no trust! Durbin blew DACA and is hurting our Military."
"The president is indispensable to getting a deal. Time will tell." — Sen. Lindsey Graham, talking to the Post about a DACA deal Monday.
"You can't hold a debate on humane and equal terms, if the very terms of the debate undermine human equality."
— — President Trump on Twitter, coming up with a less inspired nickname than usual.

In other news…

  • Steve Bannon, tell-all star and erstwhile White House chief strategist, has been subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury in the Russian investigation, the New York Times reports
  • A year after the Women's March became the largest protest in U.S. history, local organizers are holding another march this Saturday in Philly that's geared toward more local issues. The theme? "We resist. We persist. We rise."
  • Here's what you need to know about the government shutdown deadline on Friday: It's unlikely Congress will be able to pass a long-term spending bill, so a short-term deal is the last best hope.
  • Politico and Morning Consult asked poll respondents to grade the president's first year and found that while disapproval ratings have spiked among Democrats and independents, the president's base is hanging on.

What I’m reading

  • My colleague Will Bunch looks at the race for the House seat currently occupied by U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, the head of the city's Democratic party — "one of the most interesting elections in America."
  • As Gov. Chris Christie, who once decried "the crazies" in the Republican party, leaves office, my colleague Andrew Seidman writes about his legacy: "You could say the crazies won. And to a certain extent, by lending his credibility to Trump, Christie joined them. But it was never that simple with Christie."
  • With the full knowledge and awareness that I spent last week's newsletter yelling about the perils of hot gossip, this Wall Street Journal story about Wendy Deng Murdoch (Rupert's ex-wife), Jared Kushner, and a Chinese spy garden is some HOT GOSSIP.

A non-political palate cleanser

My colleague Juliana Feliciano Reyes has a fun and thoughtful story on the Asian immigrants behind some of Philly's best French bakeries.