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POLITICO Playbook: Election chaos: There’s an app for that, apparently

WAIT, YOU MEAN TO tell us that you have trouble certifying the results of an election whose centerpiece is shoving people into different corners of gyms? Who would’ve thought?

AP/DES MOINES, 3:57 a.m.: “Dems lay a big caucus egg: No results from Iowa election”: “Democratic party officials in Iowa worked furiously Tuesday to deliver the delayed results of their first-in-the-nation caucus, as frustrated presidential candidates claimed momentum and plowed ahead in their quest for the White House.

“Technology problems and reporting ‘inconsistencies’ kept Iowa Democratic Party officials from releasing results from Monday’s caucus, the much-hyped kickoff to the 2020 primary. It was an embarrassing twist after months of promoting the contest as a chance for Democrats to find some clarity in a jumbled field with no clear front-runner.

“Instead, caucus day ended with no winner, no official results and many fresh questions about whether Iowa can retain its coveted ‘first’ status. State party officials said final results would be released later Tuesday and offered assurances that the problem was not a result of a ‘hack or an intrusion.’ Officials were conducting quality checks and verifying results, prioritizing the integrity of the results, the party said in a statement.” AP

N.Y. POST COVER: “Duh Moines: Democrats in chaos as Iowa caucus implodes”

— WAPO: “Sean Bagniewski, chair of the Polk County Democratic Party, said that local officials were aware of problems with the app since last Thursday and that they had requested state officials resolve the problems — to no avail.

“‘We knew the app was a problem last Thursday,’ Bagniewski said. When local party officials asked the state party about issues they had with the app, they were referred to a ‘dedicated staffer’ who was not able to solve the problems, he said.

“‘We had had so many complaints about the app that we started telling our chairs that if they were having problems with the app then you should call in the results,’ Bagniewski said. The state party did not provide any training on how to use the app, he said, adding that while the caucus trainings are done at the county level, the app itself came from the state level.” The headline on WaPo’s Isaac-Stanley Becker’s story called it another hiccup in American democracy

THE RESULTS are supposed to come out at some point today, officials in Iowa say.

R.I.P. IOWA CAUCUS … NATASHA KORECKI, DAVID SIDERS and ALEX THOMPSON: “If one thing was certain from Monday’s debacle, Iowa had just signed its death warrant as the first-in-the-nation caucus state, the legendary Des Moines Register political reporter David Yepsen said.

“‘This fiasco means the end of the caucuses as a significant American political event. The rest of the country was already losing patience with Iowa anyway and this cooks Iowa’s goose. Frankly, it should,’ Yepsen said. ‘The real winner tonight was Donald Trump, who got to watch his opponents wallow in a mess. A lot of good Democratic candidates and people who fought their hearts out here for … nothing.’ ‘I expect Iowans will move themselves to kill it off by holding a primary, and let the state move to someplace behind New Hampshire along with other states.’” POLITICO

JOHN HARRIS writes: “The winner is … no one” TIM ALBERTA on “The death of Iowa”

WAPO’S DAN BALZ in Des Moines: “The one conclusion from the numbers that were being collected by the media suggested that the eventual winner would receive a lower percentage of the vote than any previous winner since 1972, when the modern caucuses were born. But that could end up being the secondary story. On Monday night, it was all about Iowa and not the candidates.” WaPo

JOE BIDEN’S campaign sent a letter to the Iowa Democratic Party’s executive director: “The app that was intended to relay Caucus results to the Party failed; the Party’s back-up telephonic reporting system likewise has failed. Now, we understand that Caucus Chairs are attempting to — and, in many cases, failing to — report results telephonically to the Party. These acute failures are occurring statewide.” The full letter

PETE BUTTIGIEG declared victory: “Thank you. What a night. Because tonight, an improbable hope became an undeniable reality. So we don’t know all the results, but we know by the time it’s all said and done, Iowa, you have shocked the nation because by all indications, we are going on to New Hampshire victorious.”

NYT’S MATT FLEGENHEIMER and SYDNEY EMBER on Buttigieg’s “shocked the nation” line: “No argument there.”

@jaketapper: “Well, it’s true Iowa shocked the nation, I’ll give him that one.”

WHAT TEAM WARREN SAYS, via strategist Joe Rospars (@rospars): “It’s a very close race among the top three candidates (Warren, Sanders, Buttigieg) and Biden came a distant fourth.”

DEMOCRATS TOTALLY HAVE THIS UNDER CONTROL — “2020 Democratic Host Committee under investigation,” by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s Daniel Bice: “The two top officials overseeing Milwaukee’s host committee for the 2020 Democratic National Convention were sidelined Monday amid allegations of a toxic work culture.

“In a letter to staff obtained by the Journal Sentinel, the board said it had retained an attorney to investigate ‘concerns about the work environment’ for the Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee. During the investigation, Liz Gilbert, president of the host committee, will not be in the office and ‘will not have direct contact with staff,’ the letter says. Adam Alonso, the chief of staff for the group, has been placed on administrative leave, pending the outcome of the probe. …

“In interviews with the Journal Sentinel over the weekend, two experienced political hands who have worked with the host committee described it as having a toxic culture rife with power struggles, backbiting and mismanagement. They accused the top two officials, Gilbert and Alonso, of giving contracts to their friends in New Jersey, calling meetings and then failing to attend them and being more focused on accumulating power than promoting Milwaukee.” The letter, sent from “senior women of the host committee” to the board of the convention

NEXT UP … WAPO’S MICHAEL KRANISH in Concord, N.H.: “Ann Kuster, the daughter of two New Hampshire politicians, has been involved in the state’s presidential campaigns since 1972 and has played key roles in the campaigns of John F. Kerry and Barack Obama.

“But the four-term congresswoman marvels at what she called the historic number of undecided voters with just a week before the nation’s first primary is held here on Feb. 11. ‘I have never in my lifetime seen such a high number of undecided voters here,’ said Kuster, 63, a Democrat.” WaPo

— Feb. 7: WMUR-ABC-Apple News debate (Manchester, N.H.) … Feb. 11: New Hampshire primary … Feb. 19: NBC News-MSNBC-Nevada Independent debate in Las Vegas … Feb. 22: Nevada caucus … Feb. 25: CBS/CBC Institute debate in Charleston, S.C. … Feb. 29: South Carolina primary.


— BIDEN: Nashua and Concord.

— BUTTIGIEG: Manchester, Hampton, Portsmouth, Laconia and Concord.


— ELIZABETH WARREN: Keene and Nashua.

ON THE OTHER SIDE … “Melania Trump to start raising campaign cash for her husband,” by Alex Isenstadt: “The first lady is listed as the host of a March 18 fundraiser in Beverly Hills and also for a March 25 event at the president’s Mar-a-Lago club, according to invitations to the two events. The fundraisers benefit Trump Victory, a joint fundraising account for the Trump 2020 campaign and the Republican National Committee.”

Good Tuesday morning.

SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI spoke to NYT’S SHERYL GAY STOLBERG: “‘I think that we have pulled back a veil of behavior totally unacceptable to our founders, and that the public will see this with a clearer eye, an unblurred eye,’ she said, adding: ‘Whatever happens, he has been impeached forever. And now these senators, though they don’t have the courage to assign the appropriate penalty, at least are recognizing that he did something wrong.’”

… THE SPEAKER on Trump’s State of the Union tonight: “This time, Ms. Pelosi said Democrats stand ready to work with the president on the issues he is expected to discuss, like infrastructure and lowering the cost of prescription drugs, but she did not sound entirely eager to hear him speak. ‘It will have a beginning, a middle and an end — and then it will be over,’ she said. ‘So what’s the big deal?’”

WAPO’S PHIL RUCKER and SEUNG MIN KIM: “In addressing Congress during impeachment, Trump to sound the starting gun toward November”: “The theme of Trump’s speech will be ‘the Great American Comeback,’ which is how he and his advisers see his presidency now after nearly six months of impeachment proceedings that have scrutinized the president and his administration’s conduct with Ukraine.

“Trump plans to present a vision of ‘relentless optimism,’ as one aide put it, and to summon lawmakers from both parties to work together on economic policies and other issue areas. But the traditionally presidential tone previewed by the White House has been belied by the president’s own messages of discord and disunity, and his vow to seek retribution on the Democrats he feels wronged him by searing his impeachment into history.”

— BEN WHITE: “President Donald Trump will use his State of the Union address Tuesday night to pull out the strongest card in his reelection deck: a U.S. economy that continues to chug along despite impeachment, trade wars and the most bombastic, polarizing president in modern American history.

“He’ll have to employ a little sleight of hand when he addresses the nation, given growth hit just 2.3 percent last year — a long way from the president’s promise to expand the economy at a 4 percent pace or more for years to come. He’s yet to hit 3 percent for a full year, though he came close in 2018.

“The pace of job creation is slowing a bit, business investment is sluggish and manufacturing just barely slipped into expansion after five straight months of contraction. And the deficit is soaring past $1 trillion per year. Trump’s numbers, in fact, in many ways trail those of his predecessor, President Barack Obama.”

MERIDITH MCGRAW on TRUMP’S “teleprompter man”: “It’s a talent [Gabe] Perez has honed over nearly four years in what some describe as one of the White House’s toughest jobs. Hired by chance after the Trump campaign Googled ‘teleprompters’ and the company he worked for in New York came up, Perez has become the one person Trump trusts to manage his oratory acrobatics, embellishments and ad-libs during even the most scripted appearances.” POLITICO

IMPEACHMENT UPDATE … “Lisa Murkowski will vote to acquit Trump,” by Marianne LeVine: “Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said on Monday that she would not vote to convict President Donald Trump, but also offered a damning portrayal of Congress for its handling of the impeachment proceedings. In her floor speech, Murkowski described Trump’s behavior as ‘shameful and wrong,’ but said Congress had failed, too.

“‘The House failed in its responsibilities and the Senate — the Senate should be ashamed by the rank partisanship that has been on display here,’ Murkowski said. ‘So many in this chamber share my sadness for the present state of our institutions. It’s my hope that we’ve finally found bottom here.’” POLITICO

CNN’S MANU RAJU: “‘I just don’t think that’s the question at hand’: GOP punts on Trump conduct”

THE PRESIDENT’S TUESDAY — TRUMP is planning to leave the White House at 8:30 p.m. for the Capitol. He is scheduled to give the State of the Union at 9:10 p.m., and is scheduled to leave at 10:30 p.m.

OK BOOMER … AP: “US adds ‘low yield’ nuclear weapon to its submarine arsenal,” by Robert Burns: “The U.S. military has deployed a new addition to its nuclear arsenal — a long-range missile armed with a nuclear warhead of reduced destructive power. The so-called low-yield missile joins other, more powerful weapons aboard stealthy submarines prowling the oceans.

“The debut deployment aboard long-range submarines, known as boomers, is a landmark in U.S. nuclear weapons policy. It is the first major addition to the strategic nuclear arsenal in recent decades and is a departure from the Obama administration’s policy of lessening dependence on nuclear weapons in pursuit of a nuclear-free world.”

WUHAN CORONAVIRUS LATEST — “States scramble to carry out Trump’s coronavirus travel order,” by WaPo’s Lena Sun, Lori Aratani, William Wan and Antonio Olivo: “After a weekend of panicked calls and emergency meetings, federal and state officials were still struggling Monday with how to carry out stringent new travel restrictions ordered by the Trump administration and where to quarantine passengers arriving from China to control the spread of the coronavirus in the United States.

“In interviews, state officials said the order came on Friday with no advance notice and little planning. The restrictions ban non-U.S. citizens who recently visited China from entering the country and quarantine Americans who visited Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak, within the past 14 days. (Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and flight crew members are exempted from the ban.)” WaPo

— SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST: “China predicts fall in mortality rate as mainland deaths hit 425”: “Health authorities in China announced on Tuesday that coronavirus fatalities had risen to 425 nationwide and that total confirmed cases hit 20,438 as of Monday. The global death toll is now 427, with a fatality reported in Hong Kong on Tuesday morning. …

“The [National Health Commission] said the national coronavirus mortality rate would drop further as more suitable treatments and medical resources were mobilised in Wuhan.”

MORE MUELLER MEMOS — “Hundreds Of Pages Of FBI Witness Interviews Declassified,” by BuzzFeed’s Jason Leopold, Anthony Cormier and Emma Loop: “Stephen Miller, Hope Hicks, and Jared Kushner sometimes drafted tweets for President Donald Trump. Steve Bannon didn’t think the ‘Putin stuff’ was a big deal. Former national security adviser Michael Flynn sought guidance from former Obama administration officials Susan Rice and Ben Rhodes ‘about how to do things.’

“Those are some of the key findings in hundreds of pages of FBI interview summaries from former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, which were released Monday to BuzzFeed News and CNN in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

“The documents also contained a summary of an interview that Kushner, the president’s adviser and son-in-law, had with FBI agents and federal prosecutors in November 2017. But the five-page summary, known as an FBI 302, was almost entirely redacted.” BuzzFeed The memos

THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION — “The Auto Industry Wanted Easier Environmental Rules. It Got Chaos,” by WSJ’s Mike Colias, Ben Foldy and Andrew Restuccia: “When Ford Motor Co. Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr. called the president last spring, he was hoping to defuse what was looking like a lengthy legal battle over the nation’s fuel-economy regulations for vehicles.

“The Trump administration wanted to significantly ease U.S. environmental rules. California had sued to stop that. The car industry was caught in the middle. Mr. Ford, calling from his Dearborn, Mich., office, urged the president to broker a compromise with California, according to people with knowledge of the conversation.

“President Trump was puzzled and told Mr. Ford his view was out of step with his industry peers. ‘He basically said: “You’re on your own”’ to Mr. Ford, one of the people briefed on the call said.” WSJ

MEDIAWATCH — “Rush Limbaugh Discloses Treatment for Advanced Lung Cancer,” by WSJ’s John Stoll, Gerald Seib (!) and Anne Steele

“White House excludes CNN from annual pre-SOTU lunch with news anchors,” by CNN’s Brian Stelter

— Lara Seligman is joining POLITICO as a Pentagon reporter. She previously was Pentagon correspondent for Foreign Policy.

Send tips to Eli Okun and Garrett Ross at

SPOTTED at a screening of “Parasite” at the Motion Picture Association on Monday night: Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) and Megan Beyer, South Korean Ambassador Lee Soo Hyuck, Portuguese Ambassador Domingos Fezas Vital, Charles Rivkin, Margaret Carlson, Robin Sproul, Roxanne Roberts, Anne Gearan, Ki Young Lee, Kurt Tong, Oi Chul Yun, Jai Joon You, Hungu Lee, Ho-Kwon Ryu, Seungjin Choi, Siwoon Kim, Gary Maristela, Emorie Broemel, Cort Bush, Jon Deuser, Daryl Auguste, Irene Castagnoli, Diane McWhorter and Byron Auguste.

TRANSITIONS — Andrew Jerome is now director of external and member communications at the International Dairy Foods Association. He previously was a director at Michael Torrey Associates. … Solomon Messing and Shannon Fitzgerald are joining Acronym. Messing will be chief scientist and previously was a research scientist at Facebook. Fitzgerald will be head of content and previously was national video director for Pete Buttigieg’s campaign. … Joseph Cirincione is retiring as president of the Ploughshares Fund in mid-2020.

WELCOME TO THE WORLD — Mike Flynn, senior counsel handling the cyber portfolio on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Jen Flynn welcomed Samantha Flynn. Pic Another pic

BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Shimon Prokupecz, CNN crime and justice correspondent. A fun fact about him: “I learned just the other day that Lev Parnas and I grew up in the same building in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. I had the chance to speak with him while he was at CNN for his interview with Anderson Cooper. We spoke in Russian (yes, I speak Russian) and I was able to learn some things about him. Even though we grew up floors apart, our lives went in very different paths.” Playbook Q&A

BIRTHDAYS: Fed Chairman Jerome Powell is 67 … Hunter Biden is 5-0 … former VP Dan Quayle is 73 … Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.) is 73 … Rep. Michael Guest (R-Miss.) is 5-0 … Nicolle Wallace … Adrienne Arsht … L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti is 49 … Anchorage, Alaska, Mayor Ethan Berkowitz is 58 … Patrick Whitesell is 55 … Jonathan D. Gray is 5-0 … John Czwartacki … Matt McDonald, partner at Hamilton Place Strategies, is 42 … Gabrielle Bluestone … retired Adm. Dennis Blair, former DNI and No Labels co-founder, is 73 (h/t Margaret Kimbrell) … John LaBombard, comms director for Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) (h/t Mitchell Rivard) … Justin Meservie … Abby Cable … Thad Inge, head of government relations for Paychex, is 4-0 (h/t Michael Berson) … David Saleh Rauf … former Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-N.Y.) is 59 … CTV’s Will Dugan … Jessica Byrd … Ashley (Huggins) Laryea … Center for a New American Security’s Ilan Goldenberg … Eli Woerpel … POLITICO’s Annie Rees and Terry Ticey … Albert Fonticiella … Dan Berger is 54 …

… Amelia Chasse, communications director for the Republican Governors Association … Rachael (Kahne) Freitas … Robert Buckley, director of house research at America Rising (h/t Christian Martinez) … Nissa Koerner, press secretary for Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) (h/t Grace Segers) … former VA Secretary Jim Nicholson, now senior counsel with Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, is 82 (h/t Christine Burtt) … Susanna Billings of Joe Biden’s campaign … Mariah Hill, South Carolina deputy state director for Biden’s campaign … Blair Bender … Justin Richards, NRCC political director … Dwight Bullard is 43 … Morgan Rako … Vox’s Sean Illing … David Edelman, director of MIT’s Project on Technology, Economy & National Security … Seth Michaels, comms officer at Union of Concerned Scientists, is 41 … Sara Himeles … Susan Roth is 65 … Janice Laurente … Deborah Steelman Macon … Joe Thompson … HP Patel … Chuck Pruitt … Ann Liston (h/ts Teresa Vilmain) … Taimoor Shah … Eugene Sepulveda … former Argentine President Isabel Perón is 89