Monday, January 24, 2017
651 Days until Election Day 2018
1,379 Days until Election Day 2020
Good morning! Reporting from WUTP world HQ (in my bedroom), I'm Gabe Fleisher: this is your wake up call.
White House Watch
- The President's Schedule It may be Day Four of his Administration, but President Donald Trump is planning his first real day of action. "I will consider [my first day] to be Monday as opposed to Friday or Saturday," he told The London Times last week. "Right? I mean my Day One is gonna be Monday because I don’t want to be signing and get it mixed up with lots of celebration." And he's diving right in.
- The newly-minted President's day will start at 9am, with a "breakfast and listening session with key business leaders" in the Roosevelt Room.
- At 10:30am, Trump will head to the Oval Office to sign some of his first Executive Orders as President, building on the Obamacare order he signed on Friday. The White House has not announced the extent or subject of today's orders, but multiple news outlets have reported that as many as 200 could be coming, on issues including trade (withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership), immigration (enacting "extreme vetting"), energy (reversing restrictions on carbon emissions), and possibly even foreign policy (moving the Israreli embassy to Jerusalem).
- At 11am, he will receive the Presidential Daily Briefing - an intelligence report from many of the same agencies he railed against during the transition.
- At 12pm, President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence will have lunch together in the Presidential Dining Room. All presidential-vice presidential pairs since Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale have shared a weekly lunch.
- At 3pm, the President will hold another Roosevelt Room listening session, this one with "union leaders and American workers."
- At 5pm, Trump will hold his first meeting with congressional leadership, hosting a reception for the two leading members of all four party caucuses: House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL).
- Finally, at 6pm, the President will huddle with just Speaker Ryan for a private meeting after the other leaders leave.
- Also today: Press Secretary Sean Spicer holds his first official briefing at 1:30pm, a chance to redeem himself with the White House Press Corps after a rocky start in the position.
- Takeaway Just an observation, based on 5+ years of reporting the President's daily schedule: as far as I remember, Obama never started his day this early (or did anything before his intelligence briefing, which was almost always at10am) or had this many events on his public schedule. Of course, it's still the first week of the Trump Administration, so it will be interesting to see if schedules like this are the exception or the rule in the days ahead.
- Two Things Threatening to Distract from Trump's "First Day"
- Lawsuit The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a progressive watchdog group, is filing a federal lawsuit at 9am "to stop President Trump from violating the Constitution by illegally receiving payments from foreign governments."
- Their argument, led by the chief ethics lawyers for Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, will be that until he divests from his businesses, whenever the Trump Organization receives benefits from any foreign country they do business with, the President is in violation of the Emoluments Clause (which prohibits the President from accepting gifts from foreign governments).
- Legislation A bipartisan group of four legislators - Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Ben Cardin (D-MD), John McCain (R-AZ), and Lindsey Grahm (R-SC) - will introduce a bill today to require congressional approval of any attempt to lift sanctions on Russia.
- The Trump Presidency, So Far Some examples of what President Trump and staff have done since taking office:
- Inaugural Address "We are transferring power from Washington, D.C., and giving it back to you, the people," President Trump declared on Friday, promising a change to "the establishment protect[ing] itself but not the citizens of our country." Trump's address also painted a darker picture of the country than presidents normally do. "The American carnage stops right here and stops right now," he said, discussing closed factories, impoverished citizens, crime and drugs, and crumbling infrastructure.
- CIA Speech President Trump continued to take on "the establishment" on Saturday, using a speech that was meant to focus on praise for intelligence officers to instead go after the media. Reviving lines from the campaign trail, Trump labeled journalists "the most dishonest human beings on earth," complaining about their coverage of the crowd at his Inauguration, claiming that there was "a million, a million and a half people" (the estimate is 250,000) and that they "went all the way back to the Washington Monument" (they didn't). "I have a running war with the media," the President told CIA employees, an unprecedented remark by a President, especially in front of a wall honoring the CIA agents who have died in the line of duty.
- Like his campaign stump speeches, Trump also went off-track a number of times, riffing on his support for the CIA ("you’re going to say, ‘Please, don’t give us so much backing. Mr. President, please, we don’t need so much backing'"), the war on Iraq ("I wasn't a fan of Iraq"), his intellect ("I'm, like, a smart person), and his age ("I feel like I'm 30, 35, 39").
- Twitter From his personal @realDonaldTrump account, the President declared that his CIA speech was a "WIN!", thanked Fox News for "the GREAT reviews of the speech," and bragged about his Inauguration ratings ("11 million more than the very good ratings from 4 years ago!"). He also mentioned Saturday's Women's March on Washington, which reportedly received twice as many attendees as his Inaugural the day before, tweeting: "Watched protests yesterday but was under the impression that we just had an election! Why didn't these people vote? Celebs hurt cause badly."
- His next tweet, however, offered praise for the marchers, in a much more conciliatory fashion: "Peaceful protests are a hallmark of our democracy. Even if I don't always agree, I recognize the rights of people to express their views." Meanwhile, his new account @POTUS has tweeted 12 times since Trump took over the account: five were to thank the American people or another group of individuals, four were quotes from the Inaugural or about the Inauguration, two were retweets of Vice President Pence, and one came from Trump himself, on the "busy week planned." The @POTUS tweets are a sharp difference from @realDonaldTrump and more evocative of how Trump's predecessor used the site.
- Press Briefings The Trump Administration made waves on Saturday, with press secretary Sean Spicer's first statement from the Briefing Room podium. Spicer used the opportunity to join his boss in bashing the reporters in attendances, making a number of false statements about the Inauguration crowd size and railing against the media in his first day on the job. Reportedly, President Trump was upset with how far Spicer went; many of the reporters in the room were visibly shocked.
- More than the tone, however, Spicer's ease in overtly spreading falsehoods from the White House podium - on Day 1 - was noted by many reporters. When asked about the incorrect statements he made, Trump aide Kellyanne Conway told NBC that they weren't lies, just "alternative facts."
- Other Actions All the while, photo-ops have captured the President performing many actions more expected from a President, such as signing legislation and calling foreign leaders.
- Takeaway In the months leading up to the election, the Trump campaign continually promised a "pivot": when the candidate would stop his bombastic comments and act more "presidential." The pivot never came.
- Now we're seeing a half-pivot, of sorts; two Presidents Trumps can be made out from the actions of the new Commander-in-Chief so far. At one moment, Trump is attacking reporters; the next, he is praising intelligence agencies. In one tweet, he is criticizing protesters; in the next, he is recognizing their freedoms.
- My prediction: Trump will continue to keep America on its toes, flitting between our image of an "average" President and his campaign persona of shocking the room with whatever's on his mind. Some examples:
Capitol Hill News
- Today in the Senate Having confirmed only two of President Trump's Cabinet appointees so far, the Senate will continue to consider his nominees.
- The chamber will vote at approximately 9pm on confirmation of Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) to be Director of the CIA, a vote that was supposed to be held on Friday along with other national security nominations but was delayed due to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), who insisted on a full debate.
- A deal between Sens. McConnell and Schumer was struck to have six hours of debate and then a vote today; since the director and deputy director of the CIA stepped down at the end of the Obama Administration, the agency was led by its No. 3 official, executive director Meroe Park, over the weekend.
- In addition, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will vote at 4:30pm today on the nomination of former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson to be Secretary of State. The committee is made up of 12 Republicans and 11 Democrats, meaning a single GOP defection could result in an unfavorable report for Tillerson. After grilling Tillerson at the nominee's hearing earlier this month, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) has yet to announce how he will vote today.
- However, it's not likely to matter: Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Corker (R- TN) has pledged to send Tillerson's nomination to the Senate floor no matter today's committee vote, a rare move. On the floor, Tillerson will need 51 votes, a simple majority: there are 52 Senate Republicans, meaning the nominee will likely be approved with or without Rubio.
- Other Republicans are expected to support their party leader's pick for the leading Cabinet position, especially after a joint announcement Sunday by leading GOP Trump critics John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) that they will support Tillerson. Some Democrats, including Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), both Democrats vying for re-election in 2018, may even vote for Tillerson's confirmation
- Today's Question Cabinet nominees rejected by committee are rarely brought to the Senate floor for a vote, although committee approval is not required for confirmation. Who is the only Cabinet nominee to be rejected by committee but then confirmed by the full Senate?
- Email me (email@example.com) to answer the question; correct respondents get their name in tomorrow's newsletter!
*All Times Eastern
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