Wake Up To Politics - April 22, 2019
I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Monday, April 22, 2019. 287 days until the 2020 Iowa caucuses. 561 days until Election Day 2020. Have comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mueller report renews Democratic divide on impeachment
The release of special counsel Robert Mueller's report on Thursday has brought back a question Democrats have struggled with on-and-off almost for the past two years: should they seek to impeach President Donald Trump?
Mueller's 448-page report said that the special counsel's exhaustive investigation found "insufficient evidence" of a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia, and stopped short of accusing the president (or exonerating him) of obstruction of justice, yet some Democrats claim the probe found enough damaging information about Trump to merit moving forward with impeachment proceedings.
"To ignore a President's repeated efforts to obstruct an investigation into his own disloyal behavior would inflict great and lasting damage on this country, and it would suggest that both the current and future Presidents would be free to abuse their power in similar ways," Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), a Democratic presidential candidate, tweeted on Friday. "The severity of this misconduct demands that elected officials in both parties set aside political considerations and do their constitutional duty. That means the House should initiate impeachment proceedings against the President of the United States."
However, many of Warren's rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination declined to go that far in comments to reporters since the Mueller report's release. House Democratic leaders have also been hesitant to call for Trump's ejection from office, instead urging their party rank-and-file to focus on defeating him in 2020.
"Based on what we have seen to date, going forward on impeachment is not worthwhile at this point," House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) told CNN on Thursday. "Very frankly, there is an election in 18 months, and the American people will make a judgment."
Hoyer's view echoed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)'s comments to the Washington Post last month opposing impeachment: "I don't think we should go down that path, because it divides the country. And he's just not worth it."
Pelosi will convene a conference call with House Democrats today to discuss the caucus's next steps in responding to the special counsel's report. Already, House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) on Friday subpoenaed the Justice Department for the full, unredacted report, as well as the underlying grand jury evidence and testimony. Nadler and other Democratic committee chairmen have also signaled their plans to call Attorney General William Barr, special counsel Mueller, and other relevant witnesses to testify before their panels about the investigation. In a Sunday interview on NBC's "Meet the Press," the New York Democrat revealed his plan to call former White House counsel Don McGahn to testify as well.
Mueller made extensive use of McGahn's notes in the obstruction portion of his report, leading the president to reportedly place blame on his former counsel for the negative episodes detailed in the document and his attorneys to criticize McGahn's account.
In the same "Meet the Press" interview, Nadler — whose committee would initiate the impeachment process — declined to close the door on taking that route, while cautioning that he first hoped to read the full report and hear from Barr and Mueller. "Some of this would be impeachable," he said. "Obstruction of justice, if proven, would be impeachable."
President Trump himself weighed in on the impeachment question with a tweet on Sunday: "How do you impeach a Republican President for a crime that was committed by the Democrats?" he asked, without clarifying what crime he was referring to.
More post-Mueller coverage:
---- "Inside the special counsel’s long hunt to uncover whether the Trump campaign conspired with Russia" (Washington Post)
--- "Mueller Witnesses Who Once Served in White House Now Fear Trump's Ire" (New York Times)
--- "Giuliani: 'There's nothing wrong with taking information from Russians'" (CNN)
Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton announces 2020 bid
Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) entered the 2020 Democratic presidential race this morning.
"We need to restore our moral authority in everything we do. Whether it’s appointing a Cabinet member, negotiating a treaty or signing an executive order, I will always uphold America’s values," he declared in his announcement video. "I’m running because we have to beat Donald Trump. And I want us to beat Donald Trump because I love this country."
Moulton, 40, has represented northeastern Massachusetts in Congress since 2015. A former Marine Corps officer who served four tours in Iraq, he has focused on national security issues since arriving in Washington. In an interview on "Good Morning America" announcing his presidential bid, Moulton said that he planned to "talk about patriotism, about security, about service" in his campaign, calling them "issues Democrats for too long have ceded to Republicans."
The Massachusetts Democrat has also reached notoriety for criticizing his own party, leading an unsuccessful movement to oust House Speaker Pelosi after the November 2018 midterms.
Moulton is the 20th Democrat to join the presidential race; he is also the four sitting congressman in the race, all of whom are embarking on what has historically been a difficult path. Only one president has been elected directly from serving in the House: James Garfield, in 1880.
More 2020 news:
--- Former Vice President Joe Biden is expected to make his presidential candidacy official with an announcement video on Wednesday, per The Atlantic.
--- "Buttigieg scrambles to turn 2020 buzz into momentum" (Associated Press)
--- "Cory Booker's message of love falls flat" (Politico)
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White House schedule
--- At 10:15 a.m., President and First Lady Trump participate in the White House Easter Egg Roll breakfast reception. At 11 a.m., the president and first lady participate in the 141st annual White House Easter Egg Roll, continuing a tradition dating back to the Rutherford B. Hayes Administration. Over 30,000 attendees are expected to take part.
At 1:30 p.m., the president receives his intelligence briefing.
--- Vice President Mike Pence has no public events scheduled today.
--- Both chambers of Congress are on recess.
Supreme Court schedule
--- The Supreme Court hears oral arguments in Food Marketing Institute v. Argus Leader Media and Fort Bend County, Texas v. Davis today. The justices will also release orders from their Thursday conference at 9:30 a.m.
--- Five Democratic presidential candidates will appear in back-to-back CNN town halls focused on youth issues tonight. The town halls will take place on the campus of Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire; candidates will field questions directly from young New Hampshire Democrats and students from Saint Anselm College's Institute of Politics as well as the Harvard Kennedy School's Institue of Politics, which is co-hosting the events. The participating candidates are: Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar (7 p.m.), Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (8 p.m.), Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (9 p.m.), California Sen. Kamala Harris (10 p.m.), and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg (11 p.m.).
--- Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) continues his "Justice For All Tour" with a 1:15 p.m. visit to the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant in Playa Del Ray, California. He will be joined by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.
--- Buttigieg will participate in festivities marking Dyngus Day, a Polish holiday celebrating the end of Lent, in his hometown of South Bend, Indiana throughout the morning and early afternoon.
--- Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA) continues his "Climate Mission Tour" today with a 2 p.m. visit to the Copper Mountain Solar 3 complex in Boulder City, Nevada, one of the largest photovoltaic solar facilities in the nation.
--- Klobuchar hosts a 9:30 a.m. meet and greet in Peterborough, New Hampshire.
--- Entrepreneur Andrew Yang continues his "Humanity First Tour" with a 9 p.m. rally in Los Angeles, California.
*All times Eastern