Wake Up To Politics - December 6, 2017
I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Wednesday, December 6, 2017. 337 days until Election Day 2018. 1,065 days until Election Day 2020. Have comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell your friends to sign up to receive the newsletter in their inbox at wakeuptopolitics.com/subscribe!
John Conyers (D-MI) resigned on Tuesday, becoming the first member of Congress to step aside amid the recent spate of allegations of sexual harassment. Conyers had spent weeks insisting he would stay, despite multiple former employees coming forward accusing him of inappropriate behavior, but eventually bowed to pressure from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and other Democrats.
Conyers endorsed his son, John Conyers III, in the special election to succeed him. "My legacy can't be compromised or diminished in any way but what we are going through now," he said in a radio interview. "This, too, shall pass. My legacy will continue through my children."
Conyers III, a 27-year-old who has never held elected office, tweeted on Tuesday that he had yet to decide if he would run for the seat, despite earning his father's endorsement. Meanwhile, former Rep. Conyers' great-nephew Ian Conyers, a 29-year-old state senator, has told the New York Times that he plans to run in the special election, potentially setting off a family feud if two of the departing lawmaker's relatives run for the seat.
--- What Conyers said: "I am retiring today. I am in the process of putting together my retirement plans." Conyers was actually resigning effective immediately, not retiring at the end of his term, but his use of the latter term meant some media coverage portrayed his decision differently.
--- Big picture: Conyers was "Dean of the House," the longest-serving member still in office (as well as the oldest). With his resignation, Rep. Don Young (R-AK) becomes the Dean. Young began serving in Congress in 1973; the longest-serving member of the Senate, Patrick Leahy (D-VT), entered Congress in 1975. Conyers, elected in 1964, was the last remaining member of Congress to have been elected in the 1960's. Conyers also resigned as the third-longest-serving member of the House in U.S. history, as well as the longest-serving African-American member of Congress in history.
--- Double standard? "Black lawmakers resentful after Conyers resignation," a Politico headline read. Many in the Congressional Black Caucus are claiming a "double standard" exists, after bipartisan pressure forced Conyers to resign despite other allegations against Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) and Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX).
"I'm a little bit interested, though, in why the speaker of the House called for [Conyers'] resignation and has been radio silent on Blake Farenthold," Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC), a member of the Democratic leadership. "His settlement was three times what Conyers' was. He's accused of the same thing. And the speaker has not said a word. What's the difference?"
Trump to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital
President Donald Trump will formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel today, a shift in U.S. foreign policy that could affect the Middle Esat peace process.
In a briefing with reporters, senior administration officials called the move a "recognition of reality," according to Reuters. Trump is also expected to announce plans to direct the State Department to begin preparing for the U.S. embassy to move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, although the relocation may not occur for months or years.
Trump spoke to a number of Arab leaders about the policy change on Tuesday, as well as to Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian AuthroitAuthoritynt Mahmoud Abbas. The Arab leaders reportedly told Trump that the change could cause violence in the region and disrupt peace negotiations led in the U.S. by Trump's son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner.
--- Global reaction: Many foreign leaders have expressed concern about Trump's decision, from Pope Francis to Israel's neighbors. The Israeli government stands alone in cheering the move. Per Jerusalem Post Washington Bureau Chief Michael Wilner:
"A sampling of those opposed to Trump's
– Saudi Arabia
– Holy See
And of course, the Palestinians."
- #ALSEN: Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), the only GOP lawmaker to endorse Democratic candidate Doug Jones in the Alabama Senate special election, took his support one step further on Monday, tweeting a photo of a $100 check to Jones' campaign. In the memo line, he wrote: "Country over party." Jones faces Roy Moore, who has been accused of sexually assaulting multiple women when they were teenagers, in the December 12 election.
- Russia probe: President Trump's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., will testify on Capitol Hill today, facing questions from the House Intelligence Committee behind closed doors on his contacts with Russians during the 2016 campaign. NBC reported on Tuesday that Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya told a Senate committee that Trump Jr. asked "whether she had evidence of illegal donations to the Clinton Foundation " during a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower that has come under question.
- DHS: The Senate confirmed Kirstjen Nielsen as Secretary of Homeland Security in a bipartisan 62-37 vote on Tuesday. Nielsen formerly served as John Kelly's top aide during his DHS tenure at the outset of the Trump Administration, before moving with him to the West Wing as his deputy when Kelly was appointed White House Chief of Staff. Nielsen also served in the second Bush Administration.
- Person of the Year: TIME has announced that "the Silence Breakers" of the #MeToo movement will be the magazine's 2017 Person of the Year. The runner-up was President Donald Trump, who received the designation last year and tweeted in November that he "took a pass" at taking the cover spot this year, which TIME dnies.
The President's Schedule
At 11am, President Donald Trump receives his daily intelligence briefing.
At 11:30am, Trump holds a Cabinet meeting.
At 1pm, the President gives a statement on Jerusalem.
Today in Congress
The Senate convenes at 10am today. The chamber is expected to vote on the motion to go to conference with the House on tax reform; the lower chamber voted Monday to form a conference committee with the Senate to reconcile their differing tax bills.
The House meets at10am today. The chamber is set to vote on the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, which would allow gun owners with concealed carry permits to bring concealed firearms to other states where they might not be allowed.
"Second Amendment advocates maintain that gun owners should not lose their right to bear arms as they travel across state lines, and current laws that vary in different states could mean that licensed owners might unintentionally violate the law," CNN reports. "Under the proposed law, gun owners would be required to abide by the local and state regulations in place for concealed weapons."
According to the network, the bill (a top NRA priority) "has been combined with an additional measure that is designed to update the federal background check system after holes were exposed by November's mass shooting at a church in Texas," making the vote difficult for Democrats.
Also today: Rep. Al Green (D-TX) has told his colleagues that he plans to use a procedural tool to force a vote to impeach President Trump today, a headache for Democratic leaders who had hoped to avoid the issue being put to a vote.
According to the Washington Post, Green's impeachment resolution cites "Trump's dalliances with the far right — including his failure to quickly denounce the white-nationalist marchers in Charlottesville — and his recent tweeting of anti-Muslim videos circulated by a British extremist group, as well as public acts and statements denigrating various groups and individuals."
All times Eastern