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Wake Up To Politics - January 12, 2018

I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Friday, January 12, 2018. 298 days until Election Day 2018. 1,026 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!

Using vulgar language, Trump rejects bipartisan DACA deal

With the government funding deadline just one week away, a bipartisan group of senators reached a DACA deal on Thursday. Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham (SC), Jeff Flake (AZ), and Cory Gardner (CO), as well as Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin (IL), Michael Bennet (CO), and Robert Menendez (NJ), announced in a statement that they had reached the framework of an agreement.

Graham and Durbin went to the White House later in the day to brief the President, as well as other GOP lawmakers who have been working on the issue, on their agreement. According to the Washington Post (and numerous other outlets that have confirmed the report), Trump used explosive language to savage the deal at the meeting. When the group discussed protecting immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries, the President reportedly asked, "Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?" According to The Post, "Trump then suggested that the United States should instead bring more people from countries such as Norway, whose prime minister he met with Wednesday." Trump then reportedly insisted that the deal could not include immigrants from Haiti specifically, adding: "Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out."

The President received swift condemnations from many Democratic lawmakers, and some Republicans, for his reported comments, as it became clear that the two sides were no closer to a DACA deal that could become law. The White House did not deny that Trump made the "shithole" comment. "Certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American People," White House spokesperson Raj Shah said in a statement responding to the report.

President Trump, however, issued a denial using Twitter on Friday morning. "The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used," he said. "What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made - a big setback for DACA!" In a series of tweets earlier in the morning, Trump called the bipartisan agreement "a big step backwards." He added: "Wall was not properly funded, Chain [Migration] & [Visa] Lottery were made worse and USA would be forced to take large numbers of people from high crime countries which are doing badly."

According to Politico, the deal presented to the President by Graham and Durbin "includes $2.7 billion for border security, which includes Trump's $1.6 billion request for wall planning and construction, as well as $1.1 billion for security infrastructure and technology." Politico also reported that the agreement would greenlight a 12-year pathway to citizenship for "Dreamers," with a 10-year path for current DACA recipients. "The plan would also delay green card holders from being able to sponsor their adult children until they obtain citizenship," the report said.

"President Trump called on Congress to solve the DACA challenge," the bipartisan group of six senators said in a statement. "We have been working for four months and have reached an agreement in principle that addresses border security, the diversity visa lottery, chain migration/family reunification, and the Dream Act -- the areas outlined by the President. We are now working hard to build support for that deal in Congress."

In a joint statement, Republican Sens. Tom Cotton (AR), Chuck Grassley (IA), and David Perdue (GA), who have been part of the immigration negotiations, said that the bipartisan plan "simply put, isn't serious," saying that it does not do enough to "protect our borders and secure the interior."

Responses to the "shithole" report...

  • Rep. Mia Love (R-UT): "The President's comments are unkind, divisive, elitist, and fly in the face of our nation's values. This behavior is unacceptable from the leader of our nation."
  • Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL): "If the White House will not deny the reports regarding the degradation of other nations and their peoples, it is necessary for the President to apologize immediately. That's the least he can do."
  • Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL): "The President calling #Haiti a 'shithole country' ignores the contributions thousands of Haitians have made to our #SoFla community and nation. Language like that shouldn't be heard in locker rooms and it shouldn't be heard in the White House."
  • Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC): "If these are the President's words they are disappointing to say the least...Our strength lies in our diversity, including those who came here from Africa, the Caribbean and every other corner of the world. To deny these facts would be to ignore the brightest part of our history."
  • Sen. James Lankford (R-OK): "If these comments are accurate, they are disappointing."

House passes surveillance reauthorization

The House voted Thursday to reauthorize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which grants intelligence agencies authority to monitor foreign communications, despite attempts by lawmakers in both parties to enact limits on the government's ability to use communications involving Americans. The bill passed, 256-164, with 45 Republicans and 119 Democrats voting "no." The measure now heads to the Senate, which will begin consideration on Tuesday.

The bill passed with the support of the White House and Republican leaders, despite a confusing pair of tweets from President Trump. On Thursday morning, Trump noted that the House was scheduled to vote on the bill, and seemed to criticize the FISA program, which healleged "may have been used...to so badly surveil and abuse the Trump Campaign." The President clarified his stance in a tweet just under two hours later. "Today's vote is about foreign surveillance of foreign bad guys on foreign land," he said in the follow-up tweet. "We need it!"

Trump cancels London trip

President Trump said Thursday that he will not be visiting London next month to open the new U.S. embassy; he had been expected to accept United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May's invitation for a state visit, which was likely to be met with mass protests.

In his tweet, Trump claimed that he canceled his trip because he is "not a big fan of the Obama Administration having sold perhaps the best located and finest embassy in London for 'peanuts,' only to build a new one in an off location for 1.2 billion dollars." The decision to move the embassy was made during the George W. Bush Administration.

St. Louis Circuit Attorney launches Greitens investigation

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner will launch a criminal investigation into allegations against Missouri governor Eric Greitens, she announced on Thursday. A local television station reported on Wednesday that Greitens had an extramarital affair with his hairdresser in March 2015, which he then admitted to; the station also obtained a recording of the hairdresser explaining the incident to her then-husband, in which she alleges that Greitens (who had yet to enter politics) bound her, blindfolded her, and took a photograph of her as blackmail. Through an attorney, Greitens denies the allegations of blackmail, as well as the existence of a photograph. Gardner's move came after Missouri state legislators of both parties called for an investigation.

In an email interview with Wake Up To Politics, Albert Watkins, the attorney representing the hairdresser's ex-husband (who provided the details of the affair to news organizations), said he and his client was contacted by the St. Louis City Circuit Attorney's office on Thursday to request his cooperation. "My client has been and remains fully committed to cooperate with all law enforcement investigations," Watkins said, adding that "we have been in ongoing contact with federal law enforcement authorities since October of 2016."

The attorney insisted that his client "is not invested in the Governor and the Governor's future," but "simply seeks to ensure that no one in like positionbe exploited or victimized." Watkins said that the allegations were "the worst kept secret in North America," and that his client decided to allow publication of the story after repeated contacts from national media outlets, including one that contacted his client's child. Watkins called this event "the straw that broke the camel's back," which he characterized as a "noble impetus.

"Once he made the decision [to come forward], there was no hesitation, only genuine trepidationand regret that he was compelled to address the choice between bad and worse," Watkins said.

Watkins also hinted that other recording existedof his client and his ex-wife. "The full scope of the recordings maintained by my client has not been disclosed and will not be disclosed to anyone other than law enforcement and prosecutorial personnel," he said.

Watkins also responded to Greitens' admitting the affair but denyingexistence of the photograph, which he said "is not a surprise." He added, "It is respectfully suggested that when one elects to belly up to the bar to own their shit, they opt to belly all the way up to the bar."

The President's Schedule: physical exam

At 11am, President Trump receives his intelligence briefing.

At 11:30am, the President signs a proclamation to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, which is Monday.

At 12:45pm, Trump has his annual physical exam at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. The White House will decide which details from the physical are released to the public; a spokesperson said last week that the exam will not include "a physiatric test," when asked by a reporter. The physical comes after weeks of questions about the President's mental fitness, after insisting that he is a "Very Stable Genius" despite the explosive book "Fire and Fury" describing him as unprepared for the office and semi-literate.

At 4pm, the President will begin his trip from Washington, D.C. to Palm Beach, Florida. Trump is scheduled to arrive at 6:55pm, and will spend his three-day weekend at Mar-a-Lago.

Today in Congress

Neither chamber of Congress is scheduled to conduct business today.