I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Wednesday, December 5, 2018. 425 days until the 2020 Iowa caucuses. 699 days until Election Day 2020. Have comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dignitaries gather for Bush's funeral
The funeral for the late President George H.W. Bush will be held at the Washington National Cathedral today at 11 a.m.
Who will be there: Following tradition, the full "President's Club" will be in attendance to remember one of their own. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump are set to attend, joined by former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush (the late Bush's son), Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter, as well as former First Ladies Michelle Obama, Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton, and Rosalynn Carter. Trump's attendance comes despite his uneasy relationship with the Bush family; according to Politico, the Bush family still made clear to the White House that the sitting president would be welcome at his funeral, a marked difference from the family of the late Sen. John McCain, who reportedly disinvited Trump from the Arizona Republican's August funeral.
Other dignitaries in attendance will include King Abdullah II and Queen Rania of Jordan, Polish President Andrzej Duda, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Prince Charles of Wales.
The eulogists: Bush will be eulogized by George W. Bush, his son and successor; former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney; former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-WY); and historian Jon Meacham, author of the definitive Bush biography "Destiny and Power."
National Day of Mourning: President Trump has declared that today will be a National Day of Mourning to mark the 41st president's death and celebrate his life. The federal government will be closed today as a result, including the Postal Service and other agencies, as will the financial markets, as the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq suspend trading.
The schedule: Bush's remains are set to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol until 8:45 a.m. this morning, with a departure ceremony set for 10 a.m. Following the 11 a.m. funeral, his body will be transported to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, departing at 1:15 p.m. and arriving in Houston, Texas at 5:30 p.m. An arrival ceremony will be held at St. Martin's Episcopal Church at 6:45 p.m. and his remains will lie in repose at the church beginning at 7:45 p.m.
Big picture: "A Funeral for a President, and a Fleeting Unity for a Nation": a New York Times piece on the significance of presidential funerals. This will be the first funeral for a former president since the service for Gerald Ford in 2007. "Presidents can be more unifying in death than they ever were in life," the NYT piece says.
"At farewell to Bush, a yearning for decency, moderation and compromise": a Washington Post piece on the visitors who came to pay their respects while Bush was lain in state at the Capitol.
GOP senators split with Trump over Saudi role in Khashoggi killing
Via the New York Times:
"A bipartisan group of senior senators said on Tuesday that a classified briefing by the C.I.A. director had only solidified their belief that Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, ordered the killing of the Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi.
"Prince Mohammed 'is a wrecking ball,' Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, told reporters after an hourlong briefing by the C.I.A. director, Gina Haspel. 'I think he’s complicit in the murder of Mr. Khashoggi to the highest level possible.'
"Senator Richard C. Shelby, Republican of Alabama and the Appropriations Committee chairman, echoed that 'all evidence points to that, that all this leads back to the crown prince.'
..."The clear and unusually biting assessment put Republican senators at odds with the White House, which has steadfastly refused to cast blame on Saudi Arabia’s leadership for the grisly death of Mr. Khashoggi, an American resident and Washington Post columnist. His killing prompted international outrage over the kingdom’s heavy-handed tactics and renewed attention to the Saudi-led war in Yemen.
..."Tuesday’s briefing offered a stark contrast to one given a week ago to the entire Senate by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Senators emerged from that session largely unpersuaded, and irritated, by the Trump administration’s case for the Saudi-led war in Yemen; they had griped that Ms. Haspel was not there to provide a fuller understanding of Mr. Khashoggi’s death.
..."President Trump has maintained his support for Saudi Arabia and, specifically, Prince Mohammed. In an extraordinary statement last month that appeared calculated to end debate on the killing, Mr. Trump said it was possible that the crown prince 'had knowledge of this tragic event — maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!'"
The Russia investigation
Flynn sentencing memo: Special counsel Robert Mueller said in a court filing Tuesday that former national security adviser Michael Flynn had offered "substantial assistance" to several investigations, and recommended that Flynn serve no prison time after pleading guilty to lying to the FBI last year.
The filing stated that Flynn had assisted with three investigations: a criminal investigation, the special counsel's investigating probing links between the Trump campaign and Russia, and a third investigation. Details of the first and third investigation were almost entirely redacted, but the filing did outline parts of Flynn's assistance with the Mueller probe, stating that Flynn "provided firsthand information about the content and context of interactions between the [Trump] transition team and Russian government officials" and about other, redacted matters.
Flynn was fired as Trump's first national security adviser in February 2017 after revelations about his contacts with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislayk during the transition, which he lied about to federal investigators.
In the filing, Mueller also revealed that Flynn had participated in 19 interviews with attorneys from the special counsel's office or the Justice Department as part of his cooperation.
Stone pleading the Fifth: Longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone has declined Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Dianne Feinstein's requests that he appear before the committee. Feinstein (D-CA) on Tuesday released a letter sent by Stone's attorney invoking his client's Fifth Amendment right not to testify. The release came after Trump praised Stone on Twitter earlier this week for having the "guts" not to testify against him to special counsel Mueller, who is investigating whether Stone was in contact with WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign.
Nunberg to testify: Former Trump aide Sam Nunberg will meet with the Senate Intelligence Committee in January as part of the panel's Russia investigation, the Washington Post reported.
NRCC hack: The email accounts of four senior aides at the National Republican Congressional were hacked during the 2018 campaign, "exposing thousands of sensitive emails to an outside intruder," Politico reported. No hacked emails from NRCC officials were published during the campaign, and according to the report, top House Republicans were not informed of the breach for months. It is unclear who was behind the hack.
Trump Organization lawsuit: "The attorneys general for Maryland and the District of Columbia issued subpoenas for financial records and other documents from as many as 13 of President Trump’s private entities Tuesday as part of an ongoing lawsuit alleging that his business violates the Constitution’s ban on gifts or payments from foreign governments." (Washington Post)
2020 Central: As a number of prospective presidential candidates reportedly ready to announce their intentions, the 2020 Democratic field appeared to winnow somewhat Tuesday as two potential candidates signaled plans not to run. Attorney Michael Avenatti tweeted a statement that he would not make a presidential bid "out of respect for [his] family"; the announcement comes after his domestic violence arrest last month. In addition, Politico reported that former Gov. Deval Patrick (D-MA) has told his close advisers that he won't be running for president. Patrick, a top ally of former President Barack Obama, had been mulling a 2020 bid.
--- Keep track of what potential 2020 presidential candidates are saying about whether they will launch White House bids with this running list by Wake Up To Politics.
White House schedule
President Donald Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and Second Lady Karen Pence attend the state funeral service of President George H.W Bush at 11 a.m.
The Senate will hold a 4 p.m. cloture vote on the nomination of Bernard McNamee to be a Member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The House will hold no votes.
Supreme Court schedule
In honor of the National Day of Mourning, the Supreme Court has postponed oral arguments scheduled for today to tomorrow.
*All times Eastern