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Wake Up To Politics - January 17, 2019

I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Thursday, January 17, 2019. 382 days until the 2020 Iowa caucuses. 656 days until Election Day 2020. Have comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at gabe@wakeuptopolitics.com.

Letter from the Editor

Hi all —

I'm headed to Doha, Qatar (!) tomorrow for a Model United Nations conference with a group from my school. I'm going to be a member of the press team (big surprise) producing a newspaper for each day of the conference, along with students from around the globe. I'm incredibly excited for this opportunity, but unfortunately, it means I can't write Wake Up To Politics tomorrow or next week. The newsletter will return on Monday, January 28. Thanks for your understanding.

See you on the other side!
Gabe Fleisher

DAY 27: Pelosi attempts to reschedule State of the Union amid shutdown

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) penned a letter to President Donald Trump on Wednesday asking him to postpone his State of the Union address, currently slated for January 29. Pelosi wrote that the Secret Service could not prepare for the massive security risks the annual address entails while it is not receiving funding during the shutdown.

"Sadly, given the security concerns and unless government re-opens this week, I suggest that we work together to determine another suitable date after government has re-opened for this address or for you to consider delivering your State of the Union address in writing to the Congress on January 29th," Pelosi wrote.

However, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen (who oversees the Secret Service) pushed back against Pelosi's claims in a tweet, saying the agency was "fully prepared to support and secure the State of the Union." So far, the White House has yet to formally respond to Pelosi's request, which House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) called "unbecoming of a speaker."

And with that, a dispute over the State of the Union address became another subplot in the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, which still has no end in sight. The letter was an attempt by Speaker Pelosi to flex her muscle, a show of strength in her continued battle with President Trump, as two profiles published Wednesday painted it: the Washington Post described her attempting to "belittle and undercut Trump," while Politico said she was waging "war" on him. After two years of relative ease dealing with a Republican-led Congress, Trump is now fighting with perhaps his strongest adversary yet.

Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of senators continued to search for a fix to end the shutdown on Wednesday, but "hit a major snag," according to Politico, as Democrats blamed the White House for lobbying Republican senators against signing the planned letter, which would have urged President Trump to sign a bill reopening the government for three weeks, with a commitment to double down on border security negotiations during that time.

According to the New York Times, President Trump has grown frustrated at times as the shutdown has dragged on, complaining to his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney: "We are getting crushed! Why can't we get a deal?"

The Investigations

Giuliani moves the goalposts on collusion: During a CNN interview on Wednesday, President Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, seemed to open the door to the possibility that members of the Trump campaign colluded with Russia. "I never said there was no collusion between the campaign, or people in the campaign" and Russia, he said. "I said the President of the United States" himself never colluded. The president has repeatedly denied that anyone in his campaign participated in collusion of any kind with Russia.

Cohen subpoena: "Senators nearing subpoena for Michael Cohen, Trump’s former attorney, in probe of Russian election interference" (ABC News)

Gates cooperation: "Mueller says Gates' cooperation continues, a possible sign investigation isn't done yet" (CNN)

Mueller report: "Will We Ever See Mueller's Report on Trump? Maybe." (New York Times)

The Rundown

Syria withdrawal complicated by attack: "A suicide bombing claimed by Islamic State militants killed at least 16 people, including two U.S. service members and two American civilians, in northern Syria on Wednesday, just a month after President Donald Trump declared that IS had been defeated and he was pulling out U.S. forces.

"The attack in the strategic northeastern town of Manbij highlighted the threat posed by the Islamic State group despite Trump’s claims. It could also complicate what had already become a messy withdrawal plan, with the president’s senior advisers disagreeing with the decision and then offering an evolving timetable for the removal of the approximately 2,000 U.S. troops." (Associated Press)

GSA inspector general says agency ignored Constitution in leasing Trump Hotel: "Officials leasing the Old Post Office Building for the Trump International Hotel in Washington improperly ignored the Constitution's anti-corruption clauses when they continued to lease the government property to President Trump even after he won the White House, according to an internal federal government watchdog.

"The Inspector General for the General Services Administration, the agency that leased the building to Trump in 2013, said in a report published Wednesday that agency lawyers decided to ignore the constitutional issues when they reviewed the lease after Trump won the 2016 election." (NPR)

HUD official departs over policy disagreements: "A top Department of Housing and Urban Development official is leaving the agency Thursday following disagreements with other members of the Trump administration over housing policy and the White House’s attempt to block disaster-recovery money for Puerto Rico, according to five people with direct knowledge of the situation.

"Deputy Secretary Pam Patenaude, second-in-command at the agency helmed by Ben Carson and widely regarded as HUD’s most capable political leader, is said to have grown frustrated by what a former HUD employee described as a 'Sisyphean undertaking.'" (Washington Post)

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White House schedule

POTUS: At 11 a.m., President Trump participates in a missile defense review announcement at the Pentagon. At 1:45 p.m., he receives his intelligence briefing in the Oval Office.

VP: At 11 a.m., Vice President Mike Pence joins the president for the missile defense review announcement.

At 4 p.m., he participates in a roundtable with pro-life advocates, ahead of the March for Life tomorrow.

Congress schedule

Senate: The Senate convenes at 4 p.m. today. Following Leader remarks, the chamber will begin debate over S.109, a bill to prohibit taxpayer-funded abortion, also scheduled ahead of the March for Life. A procedural vote on the legislation will be held at around 4:30 p.m.

Also today: Senate Republicans will hold their annual retreat at Nationals Park.

House: The House convenes at 9 a.m. The chamber will vote on H.J.Res 28, which would reopen the government through February 28, the chamber's third short-term funding bill of the week.

Then, the house will vote on H.J.Res. 30, a resolution to block the Trump administration's plan to lift sanctions on three Russian companies linked to oligarch Oleg Deripaska. The measure requires a 2/3 majority to pass. A companion resolution failed to advance in the Senate on Wednesday by a 57-42 vote, falling three votes short of the required 60. 11 Senate Republicans supported the resolution, breaking with the Trump administration and their party's leadership.

The chamber is also scheduled to vote on H.R. 251, the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standard Program Extension Act, and H.R. 150, the Grant Reporting Efficiency and Agreements Transparency Act.

Also today: According to USA Today, the House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee is hosting a session for House Democrats on using social media, led by Reps. Jim Himes (D-CT) and prominent freshman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), whose Twitter handle @AOC has 2.4 million followers.

Supreme Court schedule

The Supreme Court does not meet today.

*All times Eastern