Wake Up To Politics - April 18, 2019
I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Thursday, April 18, 2019. 291 days until the 2020 Iowa caucuses. 565 days until Election Day 2020. Have comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at email@example.com.
Mueller report to be released today
After nearly two years of waiting, the public will finally lay their eyes today on a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's report, the findings from his exhaustive investigation into Russian interference into the 2016 election and potential obstruction of justice committed by President Donald Trump.
Attorney General William Barr is scheduled to hold a press conference at 9:30 a.m. to discuss the report's release. He will be joined by his deputy Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller in May 2017 and oversaw much of the resulting investigation. The report itself will not be made public until at least 90 minutes later, with copies expected to be distributed to members of Congress on CDs between 11 a.m. and noon. After it is delivered to lawmakers, the 400-page report — with an unknown amount of redactions made by Barr — will be posted online on the special counsel's website.
Congressional Democrats immediately took issue with Barr's planned rollout: speaking to reporters on Wednesday night, House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) accused the attorney general of taking "unprecedented steps to spin" the conclusions of the investigation, first by releasing his own summary of Mueller's topline conclusions last month and now by holding a press conference before releasing the report itself.
In a statement released just after Nadler's comments, he and four other House Democratic committee chairs called on Barr to cancel his press conference, which they described as an "unnecessary and inappropriate" attempt to "shape public perceptions of the report before anyone can read it," and instead "let the full report speak for itself."
Earlier Wednesday, President Trump raised eyebrows when he announced in a radio interview that Barr planned to hold the press conference, beating the Justice Department to the news. (Trump also said that he may hold a press conference today to respond to the report.) In addition, the New York Times reported that Justice Department officials have had "numerous conversations" with White House lawyers about Mueller's conclusions in recent days. According to the Times, "the talks have aided the president's legal team as it prepares a rebuttal to the report and strategizes for the coming public war over its findings."
After netting 37 indictments or guilty pleas, Mueller ended his investigation and submitted his report to the attorney general on March 22. Since then, Barr has been consulting with Justice Department lawyers to make redactions to the text, preparing it for public consumption. He told lawmakers in a March 29 letter that he was making four categories of redactions: grand jury material, classified information, material related to ongoing investigations, and details that would violate the privacy of "peripheral" figures in the probe.
The Justice Department said Wednesday that a second version of the Mueller report with fewer redactions will eventually be given to a limited number of lawmakers.
According to the Washington Post, the public version of Mueller's report will be "lightly redacted" and will offer a "granular look at the ways in which President Trump was suspected of having obstructed justice," including a "detailed blow-by-blow" analysis of his tweets, private threats, and other actions aimed at the investigators.
Regardless, Democrats lawmakers are likely to make a push for the full, unredacted report at some point. Nadler said on Wednesday that he expects to issue subpoenas for the report "in very short order"; in a joint statement this morning, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called for special counsel Mueller "to provide public testimony in the House and Senate as soon as possible."
"The American people deserve to hear the truth," they said.
Mueller remained quiet for much of his 675-day investigation, communicating to the public only through indictments and other court filings. So far, the only information about the report comes from a March 24 letter from Barr to lawmakers. In the letter, he revealed that the report is divided into two parts: one focused on Russian election meddling, the second on potential obstruction of justice.
According to Barr's letter, the report states that "the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities"; on obstruction, Barr said, Mueller neither concluded that President Trump committed or crime, nor formally exonerated him.
Soon after Barr's letter was released, the president took to Twitter to claim that he had received "complete and total exoneration" from the investigation that has hung over much of his time in the White House.
Read Wake Up To Politics tomorrow — and tell your friends to subscribe! — for a full rundown on what we learn from the redacted Mueller report...
2020 Central: Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D-VA) announced on Wednesday that he will not run for president in 2020. Instead, he will focus on boosting Democrats in his home state of Virginia, after the state party was engulfed by twin blackface and sexual assault scandals earlier this year. "I've listened to the Virginians and I'm going to help Virginia for the next six months," he said in an interview on CNN. "I could spend eight months traveling around the country running for president, or six months really making a difference." McAuliffe did not close the door, however, on running to reclaim Virginia's governorship in 2021.
If he had joined the crowded Democratic presidential field, McAuliffe likely would have fallen into the moderate/centrist lane, which is now mostly open for former Vice President Joe Biden, who is expected to announce a presidential campaign soon. McAuliffe's decision also frees up a number of high-profile Democratic donors who were waiting on the sidelines until the legendary fundraiser made his decision.
North Korea weapon test: "North Korea said on Thursday that it test-fired a new type of 'tactical guided weapon,' in what appeared to be a warning from Kim Jong-un to President Trump that unless once-promising negotiations with Washington resume, the two countries could again be on a collision course."
"The North’s official Korean Central News Agency did not specify what type of weapon was involved in the test. But there was no evidence the test involved a nuclear detonation or an intercontinental ballistic missile." (New York Times)
Trump Administration: Former Godfather's Pizza CEO and 2012 Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain told the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday that he has no intention of withdrawing his name from consideration for a seat on the Federal Reserve board, and is "very committed" to seeing the nomination through. President Trump has announced his plans to nominate Cain to a seat on the Fed board, but the path forward for the onetime restaurant executive appears difficult: four Republican senators have said that they will oppose his nomination, enough to ensure its failure.
--- "Ivanka Trump says she passed on World Bank job" (Associated Press)
--- "Rick Perry Plans His Exit as Trump's Energy Secretary" (Bloomberg)
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White House schedule
At 10:30 a.m., President Trump delivers remarks to the Wounded Warrior Project Soldier Ride. At 11:45 a.m., he meets with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. At 1:30 p.m., he receives his intelligence briefing. The president and the first lady will then depart Washington, D.C. for Palm Beach, Florida, where they will spend Easter weekend at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort.
Reminder: The president also said Wednesday that he may hold a press conference today to respond to special counsel Robert Mueller's findings.
Both chambers of Congress are on recess.
Supreme Court schedule
The justices meet for their weekly conference today.
--- Former Vice President Joe Biden, who has yet to formally announce a presidential bid, speaks at a rally in Boston, Massachusetts in support of the Stop & Shop strikers.
--- Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) holds a meet and greet in Las Vegas, Nevada as part of his "Justice For All Tour."
--- South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg holds a rally in Des Moines, Iowa.
--- Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) visits Iowa today, holding events in Indianola, Creston, Clarinda, Atlantic, and Council Bluffs as part of her "Rural Listening Tour."
--- Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA) tours the LA Cleanteach Incubator (LACI) in Los Angeles, California as part of his "Climate Mission Tour."
--- Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) visits New Hampshire today, holding a meet and greet in Derry and town halls in Concord and Nashua.
--- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) holds a town hall in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
--- Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) holds a meet and greet in South Hampton, New Hampshire.
--- Entrepreneur Andrew Yang holds a rally in Atlanta, Georgia as part of his "Humanity First Tour."
*All times Eastern
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