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HC Wake-Up Call: Trump Postpones State of the Union, Cohen Cancels Testimony Before Congress & Sanders Defends Lack of Press Briefings

Good morning, Her Campus! With a break-neck news cycle, there is no possible way for you to stay on top of every story that comes across your feeds—we’re all only human, after all.

But, life comes at you fast. So grab a cup of coffee and settle in for this quick and dirty guide to stories you might’ve been sleeping on (like, literally. It’s early.)

President Trump Postpones State of the Union Address Until the Shutdown is Over

The back and forth between President Donald Trump and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi appears to have at least come to a temporary stop as Trump announced Wednesday night that he will postpone his State of the Union address until after the government shutdown is over.

Posting his message just before midnight on Twitter, Trump wrote, “As the Shutdown was going on, Nancy Pelosi asked me to give the State of the Union Address. I agreed. She then changed her mind because of the Shutdown, suggesting a later date. This is her prerogative – I will do the Address when the Shutdown is over.”

In the two-part tweet, Trump also ended speculation that he might hold the annual address in another venue, The Huffington Post reports.

“I am not looking for an….alternative venue for the SOTU Address because there is no venue that can compete with the history, tradition and importance of the House Chamber,” Trump wrote. “I look forward to giving a “great” State of the Union Address in the near future!”

According to ABC News, Pelosi took the opportunity to also send a message via Twitter, encouraging the president to support a bill to fund the government while discussions over border security and funding continue.

“Mr. President, I hope by saying ‘near future’ you mean you will support the House-passed package to #EndTheShutdown that the Senate will vote on tomorrow,” Pelosi said. “Please accept this proposal so we can re-open government, repay our federal workers and then negotiate our differences.”

This was just the latest in the political feud between Trump and Pelosi, as Pelosi sent a letter to Trump Wednesday, essentially rescinding her invitation to deliver the State of the Union address at the Capitol until after the government shutdown had ended.

Michael Cohen Cancels His Testimony Before Congress Due to “Threats Against His Family”

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, has postponed his public congressional testimony that as scheduled for February 7th due to “ongoing threats against his family” by the president and Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani.

“Due to ongoing threats against his family from President Trump and Mr. Giuliani, as recently as this weekend, as well as Mr. Cohen’s continued cooperation with ongoing investigations, by advice of counsel, Mr. Cohen’s appearance will be postponed to a later date,” Lanny Davis, Cohen’s attorney, said in a statement. “Mr. Cohen wishes to thank Chairman Cummings for allowing him to appear before the House Oversight Committee and looks forward to testifying at the appropriate time.”

“This is a time where Mr. Cohen had to put his family and their safety first,” Davis added.

According to CNN, a source said that Cohen’s wife and father-in-law have felt threatened by Trump’s and Giuliani’s comments, while it has been Cohen’s intention to testify before Congress, he ultimately rescinded due to concerns for his family.

When Cohen had accepted an invitation to testify the House Oversight and Reform Committee, he had said, at the time, that he was looking forward to “having the privilege of being afforded a platform with which to give a full and credible account of the events which have transpired.”

According to ABC News, when asked to respond to Cohen’s allegations that he was threatened by the president and his attorney, Trump said Cohen was not threatened by him, but “threatened by the truth.”

“No, I would say he’s been threatened by the truth. He’s only been threatened by the truth,” Trump said. “And he doesn’t want to do that probably for me but probably for his clients, he has other clients also I assume, and he doesn’t want to tell the truth for me or his other clients.”

But now Democrats are considering whether to subpoena Cohen to compel his testimony before he reports to prison next month.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, told reporters that while he felt Cohen was acting in good faith, he was determined to get Cohen to testify before Congress.

“I promise you we will hear from Mr. Cohen. Now, we will make those determinations soon and we will let you know how we plan to proceed, but we will get the testimony as sure as night becomes day and day becomes night,” Cummings said.

Cummings and House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff issued a joint statement, criticizing Trump and Giuliani for their “efforts to intimidate witnesses, scare their family members, or prevent them from testifying before Congress.”

“We understand that Mr. Cohen’s wife and other family members fear for their safety after these attacks, and we have repeatedly offered our assistance to work with law enforcement to enhance security measures for Mr. Cohen and his family,” Cummings and Schiff said.

“When our Committees began discussions with Mr. Cohen’s attorney, not appearing before Congress was never an option,” the two chairmen said. “We will not let the President’s tactics prevent Congress from fulfilling our constitutionally mandated oversight responsibilities. … We expect Mr. Cohen to appear before both Committees, and we remain engaged with his counsel about his upcoming appearances.”

Press Secretary Sarah Sanders Defends Lack of Press Briefings

After President Donald Trump’s recent Twitter post justifying the recent lack of press briefings at the White House, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders has criticized some reporters for their behavior and etiquette.

During an interview with Fox & Friends on Wednesday, Sanders suggested that some reporters merely seek to boost their profiles during the briefings.

“We’re in the business of getting information to the American people, not making stars out of people that want to become contributors on CNN,” Sanders said during the interview. “And that’s, a lot of times, what we see take place in the briefing room.”

“We’re more than happy to take questions, but we think that there should be a certain level of decorum and a certain level of honesty and responsibility that comes with that,” she added.

Trump tweeted out on Tuesday that he told Sanders “not to bother” with the press briefings since, as he claims, the Trump administration has been covered unfairly by the media.

According to The Huffington Post, the last press briefing was over a month ago, on December 18th. Prior to that, a press briefing hadn’t been held since November 27th.

Press briefings have also become shorter over time, as opposed to the press briefings given at the beginning of the Trump administration, NPR reports.

Ainsley Earhardt, Fox & Friends co-host, asked Sanders about the criticism surrounding the lack of White House press briefings, and how it seems to demonstrate a lack of transparency at the White House.

“The idea that this White House isn’t accessible to the press is laughable,” Sanders said. “I’ve done over a hundred briefings, answered thousands of questions from members of the press.”

“I stopped last night after I finished an interview, where I took questions, and took more questions from a gaggle of reporters standing right outside the building behind me,” Sanders added.

When she was asked if she would hold formal press briefings in the future, Sanders said, “We’ll see what happens.”

What to look out for…

Guys, our favorite candy conversation hearts won’t be available this Valentine’s Day, and I’m honestly heartbroken.

Emily has also authored political articles for Restless Magazine and numerous inspirational and empowering pieces for Project Wednesday. When she isn't writing, she can be found flying off to her next adventure, attempting new recipes, listening to one of her infinite playlists on Spotify, or cuddling with her dogs. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter @emilycveith.