Wake Up To Politics - April 16, 2019
I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Tuesday, April 16, 2019. 293 days until the 2020 Iowa caucuses. 567 days until Election Day 2020. Have comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DOJ: Mueller report to be released on Thursday
Special counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 election will be released to Congress and to the public on Thursday morning, a Justice Department spokesperson said Monday.
Attorney General William Barr is currently in the process of making redactions to the 400-page report before its public release, removing grand jury material, classified information, material related to ongoing investigations, and details that would violate the privacy of "peripheral" figures in the probe.
Congressional Democrats have called on Barr to release the full report; they have also criticized the AG for his initial four-page summary of the special counsel's findings released just after Mueller ended his investigation last month. In the summary, Barr announced that Mueller "did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election." He also revealed that Mueller "did not draw a conclusion" on whether President Donald Trump attempted to obstruct justice during the investigation; Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein controversially decided to step in and conclude that the evidence found by Mueller's team did not rise to the level of obstruction of justice.
While Democrats accused Barr of trying to protect the president, Trump immediately took to Twitter to declare that the report constituted a "total exoneration" for him, even though the full document has yet to be viewed. Barr has provoked further controversy in the run-up to the report's release, testifying before a Senate subcommittee last week — without evidence — that he believes "spying did occur" by U.S. intelligence agencies on the Trump campaign in 2016. Once again, Trump seized on Barr's comments to advance his message on Twitter shortly thereafter.
According to the New York Times, Trump's "mood has been lighter" and his confidence increased since Mueller closed up shop and submitted his report; the president has felt "emboldened" by Barr's actions in recent weeks, the Times also reported. He is prepared to confront the report's release "head-on," the report said.
But many White House officials don't share his confidence, according to NBC News. "Some of the more than one dozen current and former White House officials who cooperated with special counsel Robert Mueller are worried that the version of his report expected to be made public on Thursday will expose them as the source of damaging information about President Donald Trump," the network reported, adding that some of the officials have contacted the DOJ seeking to ensure that their names will be redacted from the report so it is not obvious who shared damaging details about Trump as part of Mueller's probe into potential obstruction of justice.
Fundraising: The 2020 presidential candidates were required to file their first-quarter fundraising reports with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) on Monday. Here's a rundown of how much money each candidate took in, via Axios (including candidates' transfers from previous federal campaign accounts):
For more on 2020 fundraising, Politico has a summary of the most interesting details from each candidate's report...
Tax returns: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX), two of the highest-polling Democratic presidential contenders, marked Tax Day on Monday by releasing 10 years of their tax returns.
Sanders has been under pressure for months to disclose his returns, which show that the self-described democratic socialist's earnings swelled after his 2016 presidential campaign and subsequent best-selling book. Sanders and his wife reported more than $1 million in income in 2016 and 2017 — an awkward revelation considering his frequent broadsides against "millionaires and billionaires" during his last campaign. Their adjusted gross income in 2018 was $561,293. According to the New York Times, Sanders' income "now puts him within the top 1 percent of taxpayers," another group he has been known to rail against.
"These tax returns show that our family has been fortunate," Sanders said in a statement. "I consider paying more in taxes as my income rose to be both an obligation and an investment in our country. I will continue to fight to make our tax system more progressive so that our country has the resources to guarantee the American Dream to all people."
Meanwhile, O'Rourke and his wife Amy reported an adjusted gross income of $366,455 in 2017, the most recent year he made available. According to the Wall Street Journal, O'Rourke and his wife "appear to have underpaid their 2013 and 2014 taxes by more than $4,000 combined because of an error in the way they reported their medical expenses."
In addition to Sanders and O'Rourke, Democratic presidential candidates Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Jay Inslee, Amy Klobuchar, and Elizabeth Warren have released at least 10 years of tax returns.
Weld: Former Gov. Bill Weld (R-MA) officially entered the race for president on Monday, becoming the first Republican to challenge President Trump in the 2020 primaries.
"It is time for patriotic men and women across our great nation to stand and plant a flag. It is time to return to the principles of Lincoln – equality, dignity, and opportunity for all," Weld said in a statement announcing his candidacy. "There is no greater cause on earth than to preserve what truly makes America great. I am ready to lead that fight."
Weld, a former Justice Department official in the Reagan era, served as Governor of Massachusetts from 1991 to 1997. He was the 2016 vice presidential nominee for the Libertarian Party, briefly exiting the GOP to run alongside former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson. His long-shot presidential bid is being managed by former New Hampshire Republican Party chair Jennifer Horn, according to the Washington Post; his top strategist is Stuart Stevens, the architect of Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign.
House Democrats subpoena Trump financial reocrds
Via the New York Times:
"Congressional investigators on Monday intensified their pursuit of President Trump's personal and business financial records by issuing a subpoena to his longtime lender, Deutsche Bank."
"The two committees that issued the subpoena, the House’s Intelligence and Financial Services committees, also demanded documents from numerous other financial institutions, including JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Citigroup, related to possible money-laundering by people in Russia and Eastern Europe, according to three people with knowledge of the investigation."
..."Alan Garten, the Trump Organization’s lawyer, said the company was weighing its options for potentially blocking Deutsche Bank from complying with the subpoena."
"Deutsche Bank’s longstanding relationship with Mr. Trump is a central element of the joint committee investigation. Over the past two decades, Deutsche Bank has been the only mainstream bank consistently willing to do business with Mr. Trump, who has a long history of defaults and bankruptcies. The bank has lent him well over $2 billion, and Mr. Trump had more than $300 million in outstanding loans from Deutsche Bank by the time he took office, making the German bank the president’s biggest creditor."
..."Representative Adam Schiff, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, described the subpoena to Deutsche Bank as “friendly” and said the German lender had been cooperative."
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White House schedule
At 12:15 p.m., President Trump has lunch with Vice President Mike Pence. At 4 p.m., the president and vice president participate in the ceremonial swearing-in of newly-confirmed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler.
Both chambers of Congress are on recess.
Supreme Court schedule
The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Parker Drilling Management Services, Ltd. v. Newton and North Carolina Department of Revenue v. The Kimberly Rice Kaestner 1992 Family Trust today.
--- Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) continues his "Justice For All" tour through Iowa with events in Sergeant Bluff, Carroll, Nevada, and Des Moines.
--- South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg holds a town hall in Fort Dodge, Iowa and a rally in Des Moines, Iowa.
--- Former Rep. John Delaney (D-MD) attends a pancake breakfast in Deerfield, New Hampshire.
--- Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) will hold meet and greets in Iowa City and Muscatine, Iowa.
--- Former Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-CO) will receive an endorsement from the Greater Denver Ministerial Alliance at an event in Denver, followed by a meeting with survivors of the Columbine High School and Aurora movie theater mass shootings.
--- Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) travels to Florida, holding a health care roundtable in Miami and meeting with leaders from the state House Democratic Caucus in Tallahassee.
--- Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) becomes the first Democratic presidential candidate to visit Virginia, holding meet and greets in Norfolk, Hampton, Williamsburg, Henrico County, and Charlottesville.
--- Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who is considering an Independent presidential bid, continues his "Heart of America" tour with a visit to the southern border and a town hall in Nogales, Arizona.
--- Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) holds an organizing event in Aurora, Colorado.
--- Former Gov. Bill Weld (R-MA) will launch his GOP presidential primary campaign with a tour of New Hampshire diners in Manchester and Nashua, followed by a foreign policy address at the World Affairs Council of New Hampshire in Manchester.
*All times Eastern
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