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Wake Up To Politics - April 10, 2019

I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Wednesday, April 10, 2019. 299 days until the 2020 Iowa caucuses. 573 days until Election Day 2020. Have comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at gabe@wakeuptopolitics.com.

Thanks so much to everyone who filled out the podcast survey I posted in Tuesday's newsletter! If you didn't have a chance to weigh in, you can find the survey here.

The latest: DHS shakeup continues

The list of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials exiting the Trump administration continued to grow on Tuesday, as acting Deputy Secretary Claire Grady's plans to step down were announced.

"Acting Deputy Secretary Claire Grady has offered the President her resignation, effective tomorrow," outgoing DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen tweeted. "For the last two years, Claire has served @DHSgov [with] excellence and distinction. She has been an invaluable asset to DHS – a steady force and a knowledgeable voice."

According to the DHS line of succession, Grady was slated to lead the agency in an acting capacity once Nielsen steps down this week — despite President Trump's announcement that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Kevin McAleenan would take over as Acting Secretary. Grady's resignation paves the way for McAleenan to legally take over the department.

Once Grady leaves, DHS will be without a permanent secretary, deputy secretary, four under secretaries, general counsel, inspector general, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) director, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) director, or Customs and Border Protection (CBP) commissioner, among other vacant posts.


  • President Trump's next steps on immigration, via The New York Times: "The Trump administration plans to aggressively push for tougher screening of asylum seekers that will make it vastly more difficult for migrants fleeing persecution in their home countries to win protection in the United States, a senior administration official told reporters on Tuesday."
  • President Trump on Tuesday denied reports that he has urged administration officials to reinstate the controversial family separation policy at the border. "We're not looking to do that," he said, even as he defended the policy and falsely claimed that it began under the Obama administration.
  • Backstory: "Twelve days of chaos: Inside the Trump White House’s growing panic to contain the border crisis" (The Washington Post)
  • Big picture: "Mick Mulvaney Tries Letting Trump Be Trump" (The New York Times)
  • Key paragraph: "In his first 100 days as the president’s acting chief of staff, Mr. Mulvaney has assumed a central role in Mr. Trump’s circle but one markedly different than the previous two occupants of his corner office. For the first time since taking office, Mr. Trump has a chief of staff who has made it his job to encourage rather than restrain the president’s conservative instincts — to let Trump be Trump, in effect."

Senate Republicans raise doubts about controversial nominees

With controversial names for top positions at DHS and the Federal Reserve being floated, some senior Senate Republicans are raising doubts that they can be confirmed and calling on the White House to consult with them more on nominations.

President Trump has said he plans to nominate Herman Cain, the former Godfather's Pizza CEO and 2012 presidential candidate, and Stephen Moore, a conservative economic commentator, to two seats on the Fed. It is unclear whether either individual could make it through the confirmation process: on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) pointedly refused to endorse them. "Well, we're going to look at whoever he sends up, and once he does, we'll take a look at it," he told reporters.

"I think the chances of both getting through, I would say at the moment, are pretty steep," Senate Republican conference chair John Thune (R-SD) said Tuesday.

"It's hard for me to imagine he'd be confirmed," Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) said of Cain, whose nomination Republicans are urging the White House to drop, according to Politico and The Wall Street Journal.

Meanwhile, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) warned the White House that it needs to do a better job consulting with the Senate before announcing such controversial nominees, telling CNN that it's not "a given that everybody whose names gets sort of floated without vetting and without consultation can be confirmed."

"There are some names out there that aren't confirmable," Thune told The Washington Post. "And we would tell them that, if asked."

A similar battle is likely to play out over the president's as-yet-announced choice to lead the Department of Homeland Security. One name that has been floated is former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, known for his hardline conservative stances. Even Kobach's home-state senator discouraged such a choice on Tuesday: "Don't go there. We can't confirm him," Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) told The Kansas City Star.

The Rundown

--- Mueller report: "Attorney General William Barr said Tuesday he expects to release a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's report 'within a week,' but he does not plan to provide Congress with an unredacted version of the report, setting the stage for a showdown with congressional Democrats."

"Barr told a House subcommittee Tuesday that the redactions process was going 'very well,' and he would use color-coded categories and explain the rationale for the redactions that are made from Mueller's nearly 400-page report. But he said he would not accede to Democrats' demands that he provide the full, unredacted report to Congress, arguing that he cannot legally release grand jury material and that he did not plan to ask a court to release it." (CNN)

Related: "James Baker, the former top lawyer of the FBI, told lawmakers last fall that there were widespread concerns inside the FBI that President Donald Trump had attempted to obstruct the bureau's investigation into his campaign's links to Russians, according to a newly released transcript of Baker's testimony." (Politico)

--- Trump tax returns: "Treasury Department lawyers consulted with the White House general counsel’s office about the potential release of President Trump’s tax returns before House Democrats formally requested the records, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Tuesday."

..."Democrats are asking for six years of Trump’s returns, using a federal law that says the treasury secretary 'shall furnish' the records upon the request of House or Senate chairmen. The process is designed to be walled off from White House interference, in part because of corruption that took place during the Teapot Dome scandal in the 1920s." (The Washington Post)

--- 2020 Central: "Senator Bernie Sanders, whose $18 million fund-raising haul has solidified his status as a front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, said Tuesday that he would release 10 years of tax returns by Tax Day on Monday and acknowledged that he has joined the ranks of the millionaires he has denounced for years." (The New York Times)

Top quote: "I wrote a best-selling book. If you write a best-selling book, you can be a millionaire, too."

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White House schedule

--- President Trump travels to Texas today. He will participate in two fundraisers in San Antonio (1:35 p.m. and 2:05 p.m.), sign "an executive order on energy and infrastructure" in Crosby (4:40 p.m.), and then participate in two more fundraisers in Houston (6:40 p.m. and 7:10 p.m.).

--- Vice President Mike Pence travels to New York City today. At 11:05 a.m., he will deliver remarks to a Special Session of the United Nations Security Council on the Crisis in Venezuela. At 11:40 a.m., Pence participates in an office call with United Nations Security General António Guterres. At 12:50 p.m., he participates in a fundraiser for the Trump re-election campaign.

Congress schedule

--- The Senate convenes at 9:45 a.m.

At 11:45 a.m., the chamber will hold confirmation votes on the nominations of Cheryl Marie Stanton to be Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor and John P. Abizaid to be U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, as well as a cloture vote on the nomination of Holly A. Brady to be a U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of Indiana.

--- The House convenes at 9 a.m. The chamber is expected to vote on H.R. 1644, the Save the Internet Act of 2019, which would restore net neutrality regulations that require internet service providers to offer equal access to all web access. The rules were first enacted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 2015, during the Obama administration, and then repealed in 2017 under President Trump.

Also today: Education Secretary Betsy DeVos testifies before the House Education and Labor Committee at 9 a.m.

Supreme Court schedule

--- The justices have no oral arguments or conferences scheduled for today.

*All times Eastern