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Wake Up To Politics - August 18, 2022

Wake Up To Politics: A key Senate ratings change
Wake Up To Politics - August 18, 2022

by Gabe Fleisher

Good morning! It’s Thursday, August 18, 2022. Election Day 2022 is 82 days away. Election Day 2024 is 810 days away.

Instead of leading with one top story today, I want to cover three different topics in the news and make sure you’re caught up on the latest developments in all of them. Let’s dive in:

Catch up: Trump investigations

>> Federal magistrate judge Bruce Reinhart, who signed off on the FBI’s Mar-a-Lago search warrant, will hold a hearing today to consider arguments on whether the affidavit used by federal investigators to justify the search warrant should be unsealed.

A consortium of news organizations are pressing for the affidavit to be made public; the Justice Department will urge Reinhart to keep it under seal, arguing that the affidavit “would serve as a roadmap to the government’s ongoing investigation” and “compromise future investigative step.”

>> Former President Trump and his allies claim to have taped the FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago even though agents asked them not to, CNN reports. Trump is now considering releasing the surveillance footage, possibly in the form of campaign-style ads.

>> Longtime Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg is expected to plead guilty today to 15 felony charges related to a long-running tax fraud scheme carried out while he was a top Trump executive. As part of his plea deal, Weisselberg is likely to serve jail time and be required to testify at an upcoming trial on the Trump Organization’s role in the scheme.

>> The federal grand jury investigating Trump’s post-election efforts subpoenaed the National Archives in May for all documents that the agency had given to the House January 6 committee, the New York Times reports.

A hearing today will focus on the FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago. (Flickr)

Catch up: Midterm elections

>> The well-respected Cook Political Report has changed its rating in the Pennsylvania Senate contest, now labeling the key race “Lean Democrat” instead of “Tossup.” Although he has barely held campaign events since his stroke in May, Democrat John Fetterman has engaged in an extensive — and apparently effective — social media campaign tagging Dr. Mehmet Oz, his Republican rival, as an out-of-touch carpetbagger.

A Democratic win in Pennsylvania would mark a critical pickup as the party vies to hold on to the 50-50 Senate. The seat is currently held by retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey.

>> The prognosticators at Cook also moved the Colorado Senate race from “Likely Democrat” to “Lean Democrat,” upgrading the chances of moderate Republican Joe O’Dea knocking off Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, and moved the Utah Senate race from “Solid Republican” to “Likely Republican,” a nod to Independent Evan McMullin’s upstart bid (backed by the Democratic Party) to unseat Republican Sen. Mike Lee.

>> Democratic groups are launching a $10 million ad campaign aimed at selling the so-called “Inflation Reduction Act” — the Democrats’ new climate change, health care, and tax package — to voters, Politico reports. With the measure now signed into law, the party faces pressure to explain it to voters and convince them of its import.

Democrat John Fetterman is gaining ground in the Pennsylvania Senate race. (Pennsylvania governor’s office)

Catch up: Pandemic response

>> The CDC is planning a massive reorganization, with the goal of creating a nimbler agency that releases easier-to-understand public health guidance and is more transparent about publicizing up-to-date scientific research. The plans follow an internal review which found the CDC “did not reliably meet expectations” in its Covid response, including by “confusing and overwhelming” the public at times.

>> But some experts argue that the U.S. is already making the same mistakes with its monkeypox response. Not only has the vaccine and testing rollout again been bungled, experts now say that guidance about the virus’ transmission was inaccurate. The CDC has maintained that the virus is largely transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, often during sex between men — but “an expanding cadre of experts has come to believe that sex between men itself” is the main driver of monkeypox transmission, NBC News reports.

CDC director Rochelle Walensky is overhauling the agency. (White House)

What’s going on in Washington today

All times Eastern.

President Joe Biden is on vacation in Wilmington, Delaware. He has nothing on his public schedule.

Vice President Kamala Harris is on vacation in Kauai, Hawaii. She has nothing on her public schedule.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre does not have a press briefing scheduled.

The Senate is on recess until September 6.

The House is on recess until September 13.

The Supreme Court is on recess until October 3.

Before I go...

On this day in 1920, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution — giving women the right to vote — was approved by the 36th and final state it needed for ratification.

The story of that final vote is actually one of my favorites, and it’s a poignant reminder of the power a single vote can have to sway elections.

The 19th amendment ratification battle came down to Tennessee, and the vote in Tennessee came down to 24-year-old Harry Burn, the swing vote in a legislature that was evenly deadlocked between those who supported and opposed women’s suffrage.

As he voted, Burn — the youngest member of the legislature — carried in his suit pocket a letter from his mother, Febb Burn, who told him to “be a good boy” and vote for ratification.

And so he did. And that’s how, on the advice of one state legislator’s mother, women gained the right to participate in American elections by a single vote.

“I knew that a mother’s advice is always safest for a boy to follow and my mother wanted me to vote for ratification,” Burn later said. “I appreciated the fact that an opportunity such as seldom comes to a mortal man to free 17 million women from political slavery was mine.”

Here’s the full story from the National Constitution Center.

The envelope of the letter sent from mother to son. (Knox County Public Library)

That’s it for today. If you enjoy Wake Up To Politics, it’s always appreciated if you donate to support the newsletter or buy some merch. Or if you tell your friends and family to sign up at wakeuptopolitics.com.

If you have any questions or feedback, feel free to email me: my inbox is always open.

Thanks for waking up to politics! Have a great day.

— Gabe