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Why Mitch McConnell is stepping down
Mitch McConnell's resignation: What are the implications? | Jon Lieber | US Politics In :60

Why Mitch McConnell is stepping down

Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, DC, shares his perspective on US politics.

What are the implications of the retirement of Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell from his leadership post?

This week Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell announced his intention to step down as leader of the Republicans after serving longer in that post than anybody else in American history. There are really two implications that I can see.

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Trump continues to lead the GOP charge
Trump continues to lead GOP's charge | Ian Bremmer | Quick Take

Trump continues to lead the GOP charge

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take: Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here and a Quick Take to kick off your week. Thought I'd talk about the US election. I try not to do that every week because it would get really boring.

It is, of course, the longest and most expensive and most dysfunctional of any major democracy. And would we have it any other way in the United States? Trump, of course, is getting closer and closer to the nomination on the Republican side. It is all over except for the fact that Nikki Haley does not want to drop out. She is still in it. Her arguments are that everybody should get a chance to vote and that she would be much more likely to win in the general election against Joe Biden.

All of those things are true. But as we all know, that's not the way the US electoral system works. She can't win a single state. She can't come close. South Carolina, her home state, where not just Republicans that are registered, but others can actually vote. So an open primary and she still lost by 20 points, could have lost by more. It was a respectable showing, considering just how popular Trump is. But she's got no shot. And she lost her funding just now from the Koch network, which is a big deal. When they stood up and said that they wanted to give a lot of money to Haley, they understand that they're not going to throw good money after bad.

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A gavel in a court room.

REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

Legal limbo: Canada, US behind on judicial appointments

A court in Canada has ordered the Trudeau government to appoint more judges. The move comes after the Supreme Court warned the Liberals last year that vacancies were affecting the course of justice. Justice Henry Brown, a federal court judge, said the government has “failed all those who rely on them for the timely exercise of their powers in relation to filling these vacancies.”
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A "Help Wanted" sign hangs in a restaurant window.

REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo

Jobs are up, but Biden and Trudeau still risk losing theirs

January was an encouraging month for job growth in the US and Canada. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 353,000 new jobs stateside with unemployment holding steady at 3.7%. Meanwhile, Statistics Canada says jobs were up by 37,000 during the same period and unemployment was down to 5.7% – a modest drop of 0.1%. Both countries exceeded expectations.

You might think better-than-expected economic news would herald brighter fortunes for President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, but you would almost certainly be wrong. Both men’s polling numbers are nowhere near where they’d like them to be.

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Munich Security Conference 2024: What to expect
Munich Security Conference 2024: What to expect | Ian Bremmer | Quick Take

Munich Security Conference 2024: What to expect

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take: Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here. It is the Munich Security Conference. It's that time of year, yet again, the 60th Munich Security Conference this year. And you would think that that would be like a big anniversary. It's like platinum or diamonds or something very valuable and exciting. And yet the value of the conference is becoming undermined. And it's becoming undermined not because it doesn't matter, but rather because leaders are less committed to it.

And that is a very deep concern. There's no annual theme to this year's conference, but every year they do put out an annual report. Came out a couple of days ago, and the theme this year was “lose-lose” dynamics. In other words, less focus on multilateralism, less focus on collective security, less focus on global cooperation and instead a prioritization of individual gain of countries and even of leaders. And that's not a great backdrop against a incredibly contentious US election, a war between Russia-Ukraine that isn't going very well, certainly not from the perspective of those that are attending the security conference and also a Middle East war that is expanding and threatens to get the Europeans and the Americans more and more involved. A couple of things that are worth paying attention to that may not be getting as much attention outside Germany.

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NATO has a Trump problem
NATO has a Trump problem | Ian Bremmer | Quick Take

NATO has a Trump problem

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take: Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here. And a Quick Take to kick off your week. Could be so much to talk about. I say kick off. So you think it's Super Bowl, but no, no, I'm not going there. Don't. I mean, I care, but not after the game's over. Then I'm kind of done. It's exciting that way. I love sports. I get very excited and then over immediately.

Let's move on to NATO and lots of hair on fire because former President Trump, about to become the Republican nominee, could easily be president again, says that recounting a conversation he had with a leading European leader. (I suspect he's talking about Angela Merkel and Germany.) And that if they refused to pay, that he wouldn't be interested in defending them Indeed, he would tell the Russians they could do whatever the hell they wanted to countries that refused to pay for their own self-defense. And predictably, this got Europeans very agitated. The NATO' secretary-general, the European Council president, both saying this is only good for Putin. It weakens the alliance with Trump saying that and especially saying that publicly and the Europeans are indeed, almost all the Europeans are panicked about what might happen if Trump were to become president in 2025.

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Mayorkas impeachment: Reps. Lofgren & Spartz on House vote on DHS secretary
Mayorkas impeachment: Reps. Lofgren & Spartz on House vote on DHS secretary | GZERO World

Mayorkas impeachment: Reps. Lofgren & Spartz on House vote on DHS secretary

The US House of Representatives is voting on a Republican-led resolution to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas over his handling of the immigration crisis on the southern border. On GZERO World, Ian Bremmer sat down with Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-IN), who both sit on the House Immigration subcommittee, moments before the vote took place for their thoughts on the first impeachment of a cabinet secretary in modern history.

“[The impeachment] has nothing to do with meeting the constitutional standards,” Lofgren, former chair of the Subcommittee on Immigration Integrity, Security, and Enforcement, tells Bremmer, “It’s a complete waste of time.”

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Senator James Lankford (R-OK) speaks to media during a Senate vote, at the U.S. Capitol, in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, February 1, 2024.

Graeme Sloan/Sipa USA via Reuters Connect

Senate announces plan for Ukraine-Border deal – Trump calls it “meaningless”

A bipartisan group of US Senators released an outline of a deal Sunday that would send billions to Ukraine, Israel, and Gaza and beef up US border security after months of wrangling. Too bad House Speaker Mike Johnson called it “dead on arrival.”

Show me the money. Overall, the price tag will cross $118 billion, including ~$60 billion for Ukraine, ~$20 billion for border security, ~$14 billion in security aid to Israel, and ~$10 billion for humanitarian aid in Gaza. The bill also creates new pathways to legal migration and raises the standards of evidence a migrant faces persecution at home needed to claim asylum. Folks who meet the new standards will be able to work and live in the US pending a hearing, and especially compelling cases may even be granted asylum on the spot by an immigration officer.

Will it see the light of day? With former President Donald Trump actively campaigning against the bill, smart money says “no.” He’d like to keep the immigration issue in the headlines to hammer President Joe Biden with – and the situation underscores the dynamics within the Republican Party, where a candidate who holds no office is influencing legislative priorities.

The fact is, Johnson stands to lose his job – just like his predecessor did – if he crosses Trump on this, so his diagnosis may prove prescient.

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