Wake Up To Politics - April 23, 2019
I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Tuesday, April 23, 2019. 286 days until the 2020 Iowa caucuses. 560 days until Election Day 2020. Have comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Democratic leaders move forward with investigations while tamping down impeachment talk
In a conference call with her caucus on Monday to discuss their next steps after the release of special counsel Robert Mueller's report, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) reportedly rejected calls to move forward with impeachment proceedings for President Donald Trump.
According to Politico, the speaker emphasized that House Democrats would work to "uncover the truth" of Trump's "highly unethical and unscrupulous behavior in his alleged attempts to obstruct justice." But they wouldn't be doing it as part of an attempt to impeach him. "We can investigate Trump without drafting articles [of impeachment]," she said. "We aren't going to go faster, we are going to go as fast as the facts take us."
Pelosi's emphasis on caution comes as some Democratic lawmakers have called for the House to initiate impeachment proceedings. In a CNN town hall on Monday, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) joined fellow presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) in backing impeachment efforts. Plus, one of the highest-profile freshman members of the House Democratic majority, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), called for the House to move forward with impeachment in a tweet on Monday.
And on the caucus-wide conference call, some Democrats expressed impatience with their party's leadership. "We are struggling to justify why we aren't beginning impeachment proceedings," Rep. Val Dennings (D-FL), a member of the Judiciary Committee and a former police chief, said on the call, per Politico. "As a 27-year law enforcement officer, and while I understand we need to see the full report and all supporting documents, I believe we have enough evidence now."
Impeachment or not, the Democratic investigative efforts are ramping up, with House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) issuing a subpoena on Monday to former White House counsel Don McGahn. Nadler demanded McGahn hand over a number of documents related to interactions with the president detailed in the Mueller report, and called for him to testify before the Judiciary panel on May 21.
The McGahn subpoena also came as the White House has taken more aggressive steps in response to Democratic oversight. President Trump sued his accounting firm Mazars USA and House Oversight Committee chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) on Monday, an attempt to block the firm from handing over details about Trump's past financial dealings. In addition, today was supposed to be the day that former White House personnel security director Carl Kline (who reportedly granted Jared Kushner a security clearance over the objections of career officials) testified before the House Oversight Committee and that the Treasury Department turned over President Trump's tax returns. The latter request is not expected to be met, and the White House instructed Kline not to show up for questioning.
Meanwhile, President Trump has continued to swing back at his critics since the Mueller report came out, tweeting or retweeting more than 50 times in the past 24 hours. "Only high crimes and misdemeanors can lead to impeachment," he wrote on Monday. "There were no crimes by me (No Collusion, No Obstruction), so you can’t impeach. It was the Democrats that committed the crimes, not your Republican President! Tables are finally turning on the Witch Hunt!"
In a message this morning, he was even blunter. "In the 'old days' if you were President and you had a good economy, you were basically immune from criticism," Trump tweeted. "Remember, 'It's the economy stupid.' Today, I have, as President, perhaps the greatest economy in history...and to the Mainstream Media, it means NOTHING. But it will!"
Cain withdraws from Fed Board consideration
Former Godfather's Pizza CEO and 2012 Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain has withdrawn from consideration to be a member of the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors, President Trump announced in a tweet on Monday.
"My friend Herman Cain, a truly wonderful man, has asked me not to nominate him for a seat on the Federal Reserve Board," the president tweeted. "I will respect his wishes. Herman is a great American who truly loves our Country!"
Trump announced plans to name Cain to the board earlier this month, but the nomination quickly floundered as four Republican senators went public with their opposition (enough to deny him confirmation), citing Cain's lack of experience and sexual harassment allegations against him. Even so, as recently as last week, Cain claimed in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that he remained "very committed" to the nomination process and would move forward regardless.
The Cain withdrawal shifts focus to President Trump's other controversial pick for the Fed board, conservative economic commentator Stephen Moore. Like Cain, Moore has been criticized as too political of a choice for the traditionally-independent body; he also faced renewed criticism on Monday after CNN unearthed old writings in which he denigrates women.
Biden watch: The Atlantic's Edward-Isaac Dovere, who reported last week that former Vice President Joe Biden was expected to announce a 2020 presidential campaign on Wednesday, is now reporting that the Biden announcement has been pushed back once again.
Warren's student debt plan: "Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who has structured her presidential campaign around a steady unveiling of disruptive policy ideas, on Monday proposed her biggest one yet: a $1.25 trillion plan to reshape higher education by canceling most student loan debt and eliminating tuition at every public college."
"Ms. Warren’s sweeping plan has several planks. She would pay for it with revenue generated by her proposed increase in taxes for America’s most wealthy families and corporations, which the campaign estimates to be $2.75 trillion over 10 years. In addition to eliminating undergraduate tuition at public colleges and universities, she would expand federal grants to help students with nontuition expenses and create a $50 billion fund to support historically black colleges and universities."
"She would eliminate up to $50,000 in student loan debt for every person with a household income of less than $100,000; borrowers who make between $100,000 and $250,000 would have a portion of their debt forgiven." (New York Times)
Last night's town halls: "Democrats offer divergent takes on impeachment and other top takeaways from CNN's town halls" (CNN)
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White House schedule
At 11:45 a.m., President Trump participates in a photo opportunity with the White House News Photographers Association award recipients. At 12:30 p.m., the president has lunch with Vice President Mike Pence. At 3:45 p.m., the president participates in the swearing-in of Interior Secretary David Bernhardt.
Both chambers of Congress are on recess.
Supreme Court schedule
The Supreme Court hears oral arguments today in Department of Commerce v. New York and Rehaif v. U.S.
More on Department of Commerce v. New York, via the Washington Post:
"The Supreme Court this week takes up the most consequential Trump administration initiative since last term’s travel ban, with the justices considering whether a question about citizenship can be added to the 2020 Census."
..."A coalition of Democratic-led states, cities and civil rights organizations opposes the effort, saying the question is a political move that will intimidate households with ties to noncitizens and result in an undercount that will harm the nonpartisan goal of getting an accurate tally of everyone in the country."
..."Three lower-court judges, all nominees of President Barack Obama, have ruled that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s changing renditions of why the question should be added violated federal laws about administrative process. Two of the judges said his actions would result in a census tally so incomplete it would thwart the Constitution’s command to count the entire population every 10 years."
"Ross notes that at least a subset of the country has been asked about citizenship in every census, that asking the question of all households would provide more accurate information, and that it is needed for the Justice Department to protect minority voting rights."
"The stakes could hardly be higher... [The census] determines the size of each state’s congressional delegation. It informs how the electoral districts for those seats and others — down to local school board elections — will be drawn. It determines how billions of dollars in federal aid is distributed."
Massachusetts: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) holds a meeting with local organizers in Cambridge.
Nevada: Entrepreneur Andrew Yang participates in a moderated town hall in Las Vegas.
New Hampshire: Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) holds town halls at Keene State College in Keene and Dartmouth College in Hanover.
Gov. Larry Hogan (R-MD), who is considering a run for the Republican presidential nomination, speaks at a "Politics & Eggs" event at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, a quadrennial "must-stop" for presidential contenders.
Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) participates in a service project and a Facebook Live town hall in Manchester, and a roundtable discussion in Concord.
Sen. Sanders holds an organizing breakfast with supporters in Portsmouth.
South Carolina: Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) holds a meet and greet in Lexington.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) holds a student organizing event at Allen University in Columbia.
Wisconsin: Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) holds a roundtable discussion on gun violence prevention in Milwaukee.
*All times Eastern