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Wake Up To Politics - February 22, 2019

I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Friday, February 22, 2019. 346 days until the 2020 Iowa caucuses. 620 days until Election Day 2020. Have comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at gabe@wakeuptopolitics.com.

Friday Roundup

Stone silenced: Longtime Trump associate Roger Stone cannot speak publicly about his case, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson decided on Thursday. The gag order came after Stone posted a photo of Jackson on Instagram with crosshairs near her head. Stone apologized for his "stupidity," but the judge said his apology rang "hollow." Jackson warned that if Stone violated her gag order, he would be sent behind bars for the duration of his trial. "Today, I gave you a second chance," she said. "This is not baseball. There will be no third chance."

NC-09: The North Carolina Board of Elections voted unanimously on Thursday to order a new election in the state's Ninth Congressional District, the final unresolved race of the 2018 midterms. The board made its decision after days of testimony detailed operative L. McCrae Dowless' absentee ballot scheme designed to swing the race in favor of Republican Mark Harris, who beat Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes in November. Testifying on Thursday, Harris denied any knowledge of wrongdoing by Dowless, but urged the board to call a new election. "It's become clear to me that the public’s confidence in the Ninth District’s general election has been undermined to an extent that a new election is warranted," Harris said. McCready, his opponent, also applauded the decision, which he called "a great step forward for democracy in North Carolina."

Syria: "The White House said on Thursday that it plans to leave about 200 American troops in Syria, signaling a partial retreat from President Trump’s announcement in December that he would withdraw all 2,000 forces after what he described as a victory over the Islamic State."

"The move was a concession to allies and Pentagon officials who have argued that a complete American withdrawal risks returning key areas in Syria to the Islamic State. It came Thursday after a phone call between Mr. Trump and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, during which the two leaders agreed to continue working together to try to create a 'safe zone,' the White House said. (New York Times)

Emergency declaration: Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX), chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, is expected to file a joint resolution in the House today that would block President Trump's emergency declaration issued last week to finance the construction of his proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. According to Castro, 222 lawmakers have signed on as co-sponsors of the resolution, which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has promised will receive a vote in the coming days.

If the resolution passes in the House, the Senate is required to take it up. Just one Republican senator (Susan Collins of Maine) has said she would support the resolution, but other GOP senators have expressed concerns with Trump's invocation of his emergency powers to bypass Congress. Even if the measure passes the Senate, however, it can be vetoed by the president.

Biden Watch: "Biden gets closer to a White House bid but serious concerns remain" (NBC News)

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White House schedule

POTUS: At 2:30 p.m., President Trump meets with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, who is also the special envoy for China's ongoing trade talks with the United States. According to CNBC, the two nations "have started to outline commitments in principle on the stickiest issues in their trade dispute, marking the most significant progress yet toward ending a seven-month trade war." The talks face a March 1 deadline; if no agreement is inked by then, U.S. tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods are set to rise from 10 percent to 25 percent.  

At 7:35 p.m., the president delivers remarks at a Republican Governors Association event.

--- One of the governors in D.C. tonight: Gov. Larry Hogan (R-MD), who is weighing a 2020 primary challenge to President Trump. He told Politico that he is planning an exploratory trip to New Hampshire, while accusing the Republican National Committee of taking "unprecedented" steps to shield Trump from a contested primary.

VP: At 12 p.m., Vice President Mike Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence host a luncheon for members of the National Governors Association.

Congress schedule

The Senate is not in session today. The House meets in a pro forma session, with no votes expected to be held.

Supreme Court schedule

The justices meet for their Friday conference today.

*All times Eastern