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Wake Up To Politics - April 3, 2019

I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Wednesday, April 3, 2019. 306 days until the 2020 Iowa caucuses. 580 days until Election Day 2020. Have comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at gabe@wakeuptopolitics.com.

Trump escalates threat to close U.S.-Mexico border despite economic risks

President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he is "totally prepared" to close the southern border, or "large sections of it," if Mexico does not do more to stop border crossings. According to CNN, Trump's threats to close the border have sparked a "scramble inside the White House"; per Politico, his "senior economic aides are scrambling to impress upon him the potentially dire economic costs" of such a move.

Trump acknowledged the economic risks on Tuesday. "Sure, it's going to have a negative impact on the economy, but security is most important," he said. "Security is more important to me than trade."

But congressional Republicans seemed to differ, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) telling reporters: "Closing down the border would have a potentially catastrophic economic impact on our country. I would hope that we would not be doing that sort of thing."

According to the New York Times, closing the border would result in "food shortages, skyrocketing prices, people out of work, and a plummeting stock market"; "economists warn that the move would effectively paralyze the United States economy given the huge volume of bluejeans, cars, flat-screen TVs, avocados and other goods that cross the border every day."

--- Big picture: "Trump leaves Washington reeling with policy whiplash as he struggles with domestic agenda" (Washington Post)

House Democrats to authorize Mueller report subpoena

The Democratic-controlled House Judiciary Committee will vote today to authorize a subpoena to obtain special counsel Robert Mueller's full Russia investigation report and underlying evidence from Attorney General William Barr.

The move comes after Barr missed the April 2 deadline set by Democratic committee chairs for him to release the full report; the AG said in a letter to lawmakers last week that he would produce the nearly 400-page report, with some redactions, to Congress by mid-April.

"As I have made clear, Congress requires the full and complete special counsel report, without redactions, as well as access to the underlying evidence," House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) said in a statement Monday. "The attorney general should reconsider so that we can work together to ensure the maximum transparency of this important report to both Congress and the American people."

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters Tuesday that the forthcoming subpoena vote "just shows again what sore losers the Democrats are," while President Trump took to Twitter to urge Democrats to move on and "focus exclusively on properly running our great Country!"

--- Related: "Trump Aides Fear He Is Overselling His 'Exoneration'" (New York Magazine)

--- Meanwhile: The House Oversight Committee issued four subpoenas to the Trump administration on Tuesday. The panel voted to subpoena the testimony of former White House personnel security director Carl Kline, who has been accused by a whistleblower of overturning career officials to grant security clearances to 25 individuals, including the president's daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner. The Oversight Committee also voted to subpoena Attorney General Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for records relating to the Trump administration's controversial decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 subpoena, and to issue a subpoena for a deposition of Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Gore over the matter.

2020 Central

--- Two more women came forward on Tuesday to describe interactions with former Vice President Joe Biden that made them uncomfortable: Caitlyn Caruso, a sexual assault survivor, told the New York Times that Biden rested his hand on her thigh and hugged her "just a little bit too long" at an event on sexual assault when she was 19 years old; D.J. Hill told the Times that Biden dropped his hand down her back while taking a photograph with her and her husband in 2012.

Biden allies have sought to stem the tide of controversy surrounding his affectionate style of politicking, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and numerous former female Biden staffers coming to the ex-VP's defense on Tuesday.

President Trump addressed the allegations against his potential 2020 rival at a GOP fundraising event on Tuesday. "Welcome to the world, Joe," he said. "You having a good time, Joe?"

More: "Joe Biden's Long History Shadows 2020 Bid" (Wall Street Journal)

--- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) announced on Tuesday that he raised $18.2 million in the first six weeks of his presidential bid, a reminder of his financial prowess among the large field of Democratic presidential contenders. Other 2020 candidates who have announced their first-quarter fundraising totals: South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg ($7 million), California Sen. Kamala Harris ($12 million), and entrepreneur Andrew Yang ($1.7 million).

--- The National Action Network, a civil rights group founded by Rev. Al Sharpton, opens its four-day annual convention in New York City today. 10 announced or prospective Democratic presidential candidates will address the gathering.

--- On the GOP side: "Trump's Takeover of the Republican Party is Almost Complete" (New York Times)

The Rundown

--- "Lori Lightfoot elected Chicago mayor, will be 1st black woman and 1st openly gay person to hold post" (NBC News)

--- "Chinese woman carrying malware allegedly got into Mar-a-Lago" (Associated Press)

--- "Trump to Fed Chairman Powell: 'I Guess I'm Stuck With You'" (Wall Street Journal)

--- "GOP Rep. Mark Walker entangled in federal corruption probe" (Politico)

--- "'It Just Went Poof': The Strange Aftermath of Virginia's Cascade of Political Scandals" (New York Times)

--- "White House spokesman twice calls Puerto Rico 'that country' in TV interview" (Washington Post)

--- "She blasted Trump as 'disgusting' in 2016. Now she may join his administration." (CNN)

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White House schedule

--- At 6 p.m., President Trump participates in a briefing with senior military leaders. At 7:35 p.m., he has dinner with senior military leaders.

--- At 11 a.m., Vice President Mike Pence attends the address by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to a Joint Meeting of Congress. At 1:30 p.m., he delivers remarks at NATO Engages: The Alliance At 70. He will then join President Trump for the briefing and dinner with senior military leaders.

Congress schedule

The House and Senate will come together for a Joint Meeting of Congress today to host Jens Stoltenberg, the Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Stoltenberg will address the Joint Meeting, which takes place the day before NATO's 70th anniversary, at 11 a.m.

--- Following the Joint Meeting, the Senate will hold a 2 p.m. cloture vote on the nomination of Jeffrey Kessler to be an Assistant Secretary of Commerce. The Kessler nomination could be the starting point for Senate Majority Leader McConnell to trigger the "nuclear option" today and change Senate rules to reduce the required debate time on district court and sub-Cabinet nominees from 30 hours to two.

--- The House will begin consideration of H.R. 1585, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, and then held postponed votes on H.Res. 271, "condemning the Trump administration's legal campaign to take away Americans' health care," and H.R. 829, which would rename a New York post office for the late Army Specialist Thomas J. Wilwerth.

Supreme Court schedule

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

*All times Eastern