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Wake Up To Politics - August 25, 2017

I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It's Friday, August 25, 2017. 438 days until Election Day 2018. 1,166 days until Election Day 2020. Have comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at gabe@wakeuptopolitics.com. Tell your friends to sign up to receive the newsletter in their inbox at wakeuptopolitics.com/subscribe!

Friday Roundup

  • Hurricane Harvey approaches landfall President Trump's first natural disaster since taking office is expected to hit on Friday evening, when Hurricane Harvey is set to make landfall near Corpus Christi, Texas. The storm is currently a Category 2 hurricane, but is forecasted to hit Texas as the first Category 3 storm to make landfall in the United Since 2005.
  • Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX) tweeted Thursday that he had spoken over the phone with President Trump and other Administration officials ahead on federal assistance efforts; President Trump tweeted a video of his visit to FEMA headquarters earlier this month, urging Americans to "#PlanAhead."
  • According to the Washington Post, Harvey is projected to cause "catastrophic flooding and winds" and remain on the Texas coast for multiple days. Gov. Abbott has already declared a state of disaster in 30 counties.
  • Natural disasters are often key moments in a Presidency, most notably President George W. Bush's response to Hurricane Katrina. Drudge Report founder Matt Drudge labeled Harvey as Trump's "first serious crisis" and a "giant test for Trump [Administration] and new [government] efficiency." Drudge asked, "Is he ready?"
  • Trump, headed to Camp David, will have to tread carefully this weekend to avoid the appearance of vacationing during the disaster. And, as Drudge pointed out, this is a test for the entire Administration, especially White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, newly-confirmed FEMA Administrator Brock Long, and acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke (who is the top official overseeing FEMA with the DHS Secretary position vacant since Kelly moved to the White House).
  • "I think that we are in great shape having General Kelly sitting next to the President throughout this process -- and probably no better Chief of Staff for the President during the hurricane season," press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at Thursday's press briefing, in response to questioning over the lack of a Homeland Security Secretary. "And the President has been briefed and will continue to be updated as the storm progresses and certainly something he’s very aware of, and we’ll keep a very watchful eye on, and stands ready to provide resources if needed."
  • DACA decision coming President Trump faces an upcoming deadline to make a key decision on President Barack Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Texas attorney general Ken Paxton and ten other Republican attorneys general wrote Attorney General Jeff Sessions in late June, announcing plans to sue the federal government if DACA was not being phased out by then, setting a September 5 deadline for President Trump to decide if the Justice Department will defend DACA or not.
  • The program, implemented in 2012, has protected nearly 800,000 immigrants who arrived in the U.S. illegally while underage. According to Axios, Trump is "seriously considering" ending DACA, although internal debate continues inside the White House and Departments of Justice (where Sessions is urging Trump end the program) and Homeland Security.
  • While the President faces pressure from Republican AGs, a group of six Republican lawmakers penned a letter to Trump earlier this week urging him to continue enforcing DACA. McClatchy also reported this week on a large immigration deal in the works, which could involve Trump's support of protections for DREAMers (the immigrants who came as minors) in exchange for funding of his proposed border wall and other immigration enforcement programs. The report said that chief of staff John Kelly, Ivanka Trump, and Jared Kushner are proponents of the deal.
  • Trump continues Twitter attacks on GOP President Trump continued to go after his own party's congressional leadership on Thursday. "I requested that Mitch M[cConnell] & Paul R[ryan] tie the Debt Ceiling legislation into the popular V.A. bill (which just passed) for easy approval," he said. "They...didn't do it so now we have a big deal with Dems holding them up (as usual) on Debt Ceiling approval. Could have been so easy-now a mess!"
  • Trump's criticism of congressional Republicans' handling of the debt ceiling comes as Congress must vote by September 29 to increase the U.S.' $19.9 trillion borrowing limit; if the ceiling is not raised, the nation will default on its debt.
  • Later, he again attacked McConnell, tweeting: "The only problem I have with Mitch McConnell is that, after hearing Repeal & Replace for 7 years, he failed!That should NEVER have happened!" On Friday morning, he also repeated his call for Senate Republicans to end the legislative filibuster, which requires 60 votes to end debate on a bill.
  • Cohn: No White House tax plan President Trump will visit Missouri next week to launch his public campaign on tax reform, National Economic Council director Gary Cohn told Financial Times in an interview published Friday, but the White House is no longer expected to release its own plan.
  • “At the end of the day, tax legislation has to happen in Congress and the House,” Cohn said. The Ways and Means Committee will be drafting legislation and we will be on the road and holding meetings in Washington and elsewhere explaining why it is so important to have tax reform in America.”
  • Trump will become the plan's main cheerleader, Cohn said. “Starting next week, the president’s agenda and calendar is going to revolve around tax reform," he explained. He will start being on the road making major addresses justifying the reasoning for tax reform and why we need it in the US.” Meanwhile, congressional Republicans will set the details of the plan. "They have been holding hearings [on tax] for years...It’s not like they are just starting the process now,” Cohn said.
  • Bloomberg reports that the White House initially planned to release its own plan in September, as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin indicated in July, but congressional leaders no expect that they will finish crafting the legislation alone.
  • The FT interview was also Cohn's first since reports of his frustration over Trump's response to Charlottesville. "Citizens standing up for equality and freedom can never be equated with white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and the KKK," he said. "I believe this administration can and must do better in consistently and unequivocally condemning these groups and do everything we can to heal the deep divisions that exist in our communities."
  • Cohn added that he has "come under enormous pressure both to resign and to remain in my current position," but feels it is his duty "as a patriotic American" to stay in office. He added: "As a Jewish American, I will not allow neo-Nazis ranting 'Jews will not replace us' to cause this Jew to leave his job."
  • 2020 Central Whispers continue of a potential Republican primary challenge to the President in 2020. "I think he's inviting one," Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) said in a radio interview on Thursday, by "just drilling down on the base rather than trying to expand the base."
  • Axios is reporting Friday that Govs. John Kasich (R-OH) and John Hickenlooper (R-CO) are discussing a potential joint Independent presidential run. "The Johns" have been making joint appearances on health care, and are reportedly planning to expand into immigration and jobs as well.
  • The President's Schedule For the second day in a row, Trump has no public events on his schedule. At 10:30am, he will receive his daily intelligence briefing in the Oval Office; at 11:30am, he will sit down with Secretary of Sate Rex Tillerson, before departing for a weekend at Camp David at 3pm.
  • CNN's Elizabeth Landers noted yesterday: "A bit of a pattern: high tweet rates from @POTUS when has no public events on his schedule for the day."