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Wake Up To Politics - February 1, 2019

I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Friday, February 1, 2019. 14 days until government funding expires. 367 days until the 2020 Iowa caucuses. 641 days until Election Day 2020. Have comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at gabe@wakeuptopolitics.com. Not a subscriber? Sign up to receive the newsletter at wakeuptopolitics.com/subscribe.

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker launches presidential run

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) announced this morning that he was joining the crowded Democratic presidential primary field. Booker, who has served in the Senate since 2013 and was previously the mayor of Newark, made the announcement in a video that he tweeted and emailed to supporters.

"We are better when we help each other," Booker also said in the video, debuting his optimistic message. "I believe that we can build a country where no one is forgotten, no one is left behind; where parents can put food on the table; where there are good paying jobs with good benefits in every neighborhood; where our criminal justice system keeps us safe, instead of shuffling more children into cages and coffins; where we see the faces of our leaders on television and feel pride, not shame."

"Together, we will channel our common pain back into our common purpose," he declared later in the video. "Together, America, we will rise."

Launching his bid on the first day of Black History Month, the New Jerseyan is the second African-American candidate to enter the 2020 White House race, joining Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA). Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) and former HUD Secretary Julián Castro have also announced presidential bids. Two other U.S. senators, Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg have formed exploratory committees and are expected to formally jump into the field soon.

Booker, a 49-year-old bachelor, is a graduate of Stanford and Yale Law School, as well as a Rhodes Scholar. In the Senate, he notched a signature accomplishment late last year with the passage of a major bipartisan criminal reform package; he also gained fame (and infamy) with his "I am Spartacus" moment during the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings when he announced that he was releasing documents in violation of Senate rules, although they had actually already been cleared for release. Booker has also become known for his pro-business stances and ties to Wall Street, which could hurt him among progressive Democrats.

Booker is scheduled to hold his first campaign events in Iowa on February 8, followed by a trip to South Carolina.  

More 2020 news...

  • "Democrats' divisions bust open as 2020 primary heats up" (Politico)
  • "Is There Room in 2020 for a Centrist Democrat? Maybe One or Two" (New York Times)
  • "Bloomberg builds an all-star political team — and he might not even run" (Washington Post)
  • "Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz likely to visit early caucus and primary states as he considers running for president" (CNBC)
  • Warren is likely to officially jump in the presidential race with an announcement on February 9, she previewed on Twitter.

Top quotes: Trump's NYT interview

President Donald Trump sat down for an interview with the New York Times on Thursday. Some top quotes:

  • On border security negotiations: "I think it's a waste of time."
  • On whether he'll declare a national emergency to finance construction of a border wall: "I’ve set the table. I’ve set the stage for doing what I’m going to do."
  • On the Russia investigation: "[Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein] told the attorneys that I’m not a subject, I’m not a target."
  • On whether he spoke with indicted ally Roger Stone about WikiLeaks or directed anyone on his campaign to do so: "No, I didn't. I never did."
  • On the Trump Tower Moscow proposal: "This was a very unimportant deal."
  • On the 2020 Democratic field: "I would say, the best opening so far would be Kamala [pronouncing as Kameela] Harris."
  • On the presidency: "I don't know if I should love doing it, but I love doing it."

Friday Roundup

The Russia investigation: Longtime Republican political consultant Roger Stone, an early Trump campaign adviser, is due back at federal court today after pleading not guilty earlier this week to charges in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. Ahead of the hearing today, the defense and prosecution agreed to slow the timeline of a trial due to the "voluminous and complex" evidence in the case, including seized multiple hard drives containing terabytes of information that the FBI seized from Stones' phones and email accounts. Stone faces the prospect of a gag order at today's hearing; he told Politico he would fight if he receives one.

--- Senate investigators have learned the identities of the three calls Donald Trump Jr. made to blocked phone numbers before and after the June 2016 Trump Tower meetings, according to ABC News, and none of the calls were to his father, as some had suspected.

Trump administration to withdraw from INF treaty: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to announce this morning that the U.S. is suspending participation in the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, a 1987 nuclear arms control agreement with Russia. The U.S. has accused Moscow of violating the treaty since 2014.

GOP Senate rebukes Trump: The Senate voted Thursday in favor of an amendment criticizing President Trump's plans to withdraw troops from Syria and Afghanistan, a rare public rebuke by the Republican-led chamber and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who introduced the measure. The amendment passed in a 68-23 vote, with the support of 43 Republicans (out of 46 present) and 25 Democrats (out of 45 present).

Second Trump-Kim summit planned: President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un are planning to meet for their second major summit in Da Nang, Vietnam in late February, per CNN.

Abortion wars: "Republicans Seize on Late-Term Abortion as a Potent 2020 Issue" (New York Times)

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White House schedule

POTUS: At 11:45 a.m., President Trump holds a meeting to discuss fighting human trafficking on the southern border. At 12:30 p.m., the president has lunch with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The president will then depart Washington, D.C. for his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, where he and will spend the weekend. This is Trump's first visit to Mar-a-Lago since Thanksgiving, after remaining at the White House as the partial government shutdown stretched through Christmas and New Year's.

--- "Trump Returns This Weekend to Mar-a-Lago, His Gilded Comfort Zone" (New York Times)

VP: Vice President Mike Pence travels to Miami, Florida today to rally support for the Trump administration's backing of opposition leader Juan Gerardo Guaidó Márquez as the legitimate president of Venezuela.

At 11:40 a.m., the vice president participates in a roundtable discussion with Venezuelan exiles and community leaders. At 12:35 p.m., Pence delivers remarks at a "Venezuela solidarity event."

--- "U.S. Push to Oust Venezuela’s Maduro Marks First Shot in Plan to Reshape Latin America" (Wall Street Journal)

Congress schedule

Neither house of Congress is in session today.

Supreme Court schedule

The Supreme Court is currently between sittings.

*All times Eastern