Friday, January 6, 2017
14 Days until Inauguration Day - Two Weeks!
669 Days until Election Day 2018I'm Gabe Fleisher for Wake Up To Politics, and reporting from WUTP world HQ in my bedroom - Good morning: THIS IS YOUR WAKE UP CALL!!!
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- The President-Elect's Schedule: Intelligence Briefing The leaders of the U.S. intelligence community will sit down with President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower today, presenting their evidence of Russian interference into the U.S. election process. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, CIA Director John Brennan, and FBI Director James Comey will brief Trump on their report, which President Barack Obama was briefed on Thursday and is expected to be released to the public (as a declassified version) as early as Monday.
- The President-elect has repeatedly and publicly expressed doubt about the intelligence community's conclusion that Russia was behind the email hackings of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman John Podesta. This week alone, he tweeted on Tuesday claiming that this intelligence briefing had been delayed. "Perhaps more time needed to build a case. Very strange!" he tweeted (intelligence officials told reporters that the briefing was never postponed). On Wednesday, Trump seemed to believe WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's claim that Russia did not assist in the hacks, tweeting: "Julian Assange said "a 14 year old could have hacked Podesta" - why was DNC so careless? Also said Russians did not give him the info!" Finally, on Thursday, Trump noted a new report that the DNC did not allow the FBI to study its server after they were "supposedly hacked by Russia," asking: "What is going on?"
- According to a Washington Post report, the intelligence briefing will also include evidence that Russia had a motive to intervene, using intercepted communication showing high-level Russian officials celebrating Trump's victory. The Post also reported that U.S. intelligence had also identified the go-betweens used by the Russians to provide the stolen emails to WikiLeaks.
- As the intelligence community's top officials come to his home, the President-elect has reportedly decided who his own intelligence point man will be. According to a number of news outlets, Trump has chosen former Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN) as his Director of National Intelligence (DNI). Coats retired from the Senate on Tuesday, after serving 16 years in two stints in the upper chamber, as well as eight years in the U.S. House. Coats, who sat on the Senate Intelligence and Armed Services Committees, also served abroad as George W. Bush's Ambassador to Germany. As DNI, he will coordinate the 16 agencies in the intelligence community and serve as the principal advisor on intelligence to the President; he will succeed James Clapper, who will be at Trump Tower today.
- The Wall Street Journal has reported that the Trump transition team is weighing limits to the DNI's authority, although incoming White House communications director Sean Spicer denied the report.
- Also today: at 10am, the President-elect will head to the Condé Nast offices at One World Trade Center in New York City for an off-the-record meeting with the top editors and digital directors of the media company's publications, which include The New Yorker, Vogue, Teen Vogue, Wied, GQ, and Glamour. A number of those magazines have been critical to Trump, especially Vanity Fair; the President-elect has a longtime feud with Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter, who will be attending the meeting.
- Carter has been writing about Trump for decades, since calling him a "short-fingered vulgarian" in Spy Magazine in 1988 and as recently as last month, when Vanity Fair labeled Trump Tower Grill "the worst restaurant in America." Trump, meanwhile, tweeted in 2012 that Carter was a "dummy" and a "real loser"; after the Trump Tower Grill review last month, he took aim at Carter on Twitter once again: "Has anyone looked at the really poor numbers of @VanityFair Magazine. Way down, big trouble, dead! Graydon Carter, no talent, will be out!"
- Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour will also be among the attendees of the meeting; Wintour is a major Democratic donor who supported Hillary Clinton. Politico was first to report about the meeting.
Capitol Hill News
- Today in Congress: Counting Electoral Votes The House and Senate will meet together today for a joint session of Congress to count the electoral ballots for President and Vice President, the final step in formalizing Donald Trump and Mike Pence's Electoral College victory.
- The House will gavel in at 12pm, then immediately recesses until reconvening for the Joint Session at 1pm. The Senate will gavel in at 12:45pm; after the prayer and pledge, the 100 senators will then proceed as a body to the House chamber for the Joint session.
- As President of the Senate, the Vice President presides over the Joint Session; in alphabetical order, he opens the sealed certificates of electoral votes from all 50 states and the District of Columbia (the certificates are signed and certified after the electors cast their votes at their state capitals last month) and presents them to be read, recorded, and counted by House and Senate tellers.
- At the end of the process, the Vice President will formally announce which candidates have a majority of the electoral votes for President and Vice President, their Electoral College victories cemented.
- When the electoral votes were cast last month, Donald Trump and Mike Pence received 304 votes to Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine's 227. More electors voted against their pledged candidate than in any other U.S. presidential election, with five pled two pledged Trump electors and five pledged Clinton electors voting against them (three other pledged Clinton electors attempted to vote against her, but were replaced). These "faithless electors" cast three votes for former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and one each for Gov. John Kasich (R-OH), former Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Native American activist Faith Spotted Eagle. Their defections will become official today.
- However, there is one more avenue for anti-Trump forces to attempt to stop his impending Presidency: members of Congress are allowed to object to a state's electoral vote count, as long as the objection is supported by a member of each chamber. If one is, both chambers meet separately to debate the objection and vote if the electoral votes in question. This has happened twice in U.S. history: in 1969, when a challenge was filed objecting to counting a North Carolina faithless elector's vote, and in 2005, when Democrats objected to the Ohio count due to voting challenges in the state. Both objections failed, as did an attempted Democratic objection to the Florida votes in 2000, which was never debated as a senator did not sign on.
- Politico reported this morning that a group of Democratic lawmakers, led by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) will attempt to challenge the electoral votes in states with voter ID laws. No senator has stepped forward to join the objection, although House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) told ABC News on Thursday that if one did, he would support the effort. Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) was also planning to file an objection, but will not after failing to find a senator.
White House Watch
- The President's Schedule: Obamacare Interview, Goodbye Party Besides the Presidential Daily Briefing at 10am, President Obama has just one event on his public schedule today: a 11:10am livestreamed interview at the Blair House, just across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House, with the "explanatory journalism" website Vox. In the interview, the President will "discuss some of the lessons we've learned since the passing of the Affordable Care Act" (the law's successes and failures, as well as its future) with Vox's Editor-in-Chief/co-founder Ezra Klein and senior correspondent Sarah Kliff.
- Not on the public schedule: a goodbye party that the Obamas are reportedly hosting for close friends and donors tonight. According to the Washington Post, A-list celebrities including Usher, Samuel L. Jackson, Oprah Winfrey, Bradley Cooper, Beyoncé, Jay Z, Stevie Wonder, J.J. Abrams, George Lucas, and others are all rumored to be invited. According to NME, Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, Daid Letterman and Chance the Rapper are other expected guests.
- Following the First Lady: Last Speech First Lady Michelle Obama will deliver the final speech of her White House tenure at 11am today, at an East Room event honoring the 2017 School Counselor of the Year.
- School counselors from across the country will gather to attend the ceremony, and a panel before the First Lady's remarks featuring Education Secretary John B. King, Jr., his predecessor Arne Duncan, actress Connie Britton (who played a guidance counselor on "Friday Night Lights"), the 2016 School Counselor of the Year, and a Baltimore education activist.
- In her remarks, Mrs. Obama will be honoring Terri Tchorzynski, a counselor in Battle Creek, Michigan, who was chosen by the American School Counselor Association from 50 state awardees. The First Lady has held a recognition ceremony for the Counselor of the Year since 2015.
- Trump Moving Forward with Border Wall Plans "President-elect Donald Trump's transition team has signaled to congressional Republican leaders that his preference is to fund the border wall through the appropriations process as soon as April, according to House Republican officials. The move would break a key campaign promise when Trump repeatedly said he would force Mexico to pay for the construction of the wall along the border, though in October, Trump suggested for the first time that Mexico would reimburse the US for the cost of the wall."
- "Trump defended that proposal Friday morning in a tweet, saying the move to use congressional appropriations was because of speed. "The dishonest media does not report that any money spent on building the Great Wall (for sake of speed), will be paid back by Mexico later!" Trump tweeted Friday...The Trump team argues it will have the authority through a Bush-era 2006 law to build the wall, lawmakers say, but it lacks the money to do so. Transition officials have told House GOP leaders in private meetings they'd like to pay for the wall in the funding bill, a senior House GOP source said. " (CNN)
- Former Democratic Congressman, an Obama Ally, Joins Virgina Governor Race "Tom Perriello, the former congressman from Virginia, is making a surprise entry into his state’s governor’s race, disrupting Democrats’ well-laid plans in what promises to be the most-watched election in the country this year. Mr. Perriello on Wednesday telephoned Lt. Gov. Ralph S. Northam, who had been widely presumed to be the party’s nominee, to tell him he was entering the race, according to three Democrats directly familiar with the conversation."
- "...By entering the race to succeed Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat who is limited to a single term, Mr. Perriello will hinder Mr. McAuliffe’s effort to avert a contentious primary...A run by Mr. Perriello will expose the tensions between the moderate and progressive wings of the Democratic Party in Virginia, which is increasingly dominant in a once-conservative state."
- "...Swept into office in the Democratic wave of 2008, [Perriello] quickly became a favorite of the White House for his willingness to vote for Mr. Obama’s agenda despite representing a right-of-center district. Mr. Obama took a liking to the congressman, a Yale University-trained lawyer and human rights advocate...Republicans, meanwhile, have their own primary battle. Ed Gillespie, a former Republican National Committee chairman; President-elect Donald J. Trump’s onetime state campaign chairman, Corey Stewart; and State Senator Frank Wagner, from the Tidewater region." (New York Times)
- Obamacare Repeal to Defund Planned Parenthood "House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday that the House will vote to defund Planned Parenthood this year in the same reconciliation bill they’ll use to repeal Obamacare. That means Republicans will need just a simple majority of members to pass both measures." (BuzzFeed)
- Obama Ambassadors Told to Leave By Jan. 20 "In an unusual step, President-elect Donald Trump's transition team has decided not to let U.S. ambassadors who are political appointees of President Barack Obama stay on for a grace period beyond Inauguration Day, a source confirmed Thursday...In typical presidential transitions, politically appointed ambassadors have at times been allowed to stay on the job for weeks or months after the new president has taken office. It's partly been done this way out of personal courtesy for their family situations, but it can also help allow for some continuity as the new administration moves to fill a vast number of postings stateside and abroad." (Politico)
- Former Bush Strategist Considering Independent Bid Against Cruz "Matthew Dowd, an Austin-based television news commentator and former George W. Bush strategist, is mulling an independent challenge to U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz. 'I don’t know what I will do,' he told The Texas Tribune. 'But I am giving it some thought, and I appreciate the interest of folks.' Dowd said this has been a draft effort, as prominent members of both parties have approached him to run against Cruz." (Texas Tribune)
- Indiana Mayor Joins DNC Chair Race "Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., on Thursday entered the race for the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee, calling for a “fresh start” and a “new plan” for Democrats in the wake of their devastating 2016 election defeat. Mr. Buttigieg, who at 34 is the youngest Democrat in the growing field of candidates, is joining a race that so far has been dominated by the two perceived front-runners, Rep. Keith Ellison, 54, and Labor Secretary Tom Perez, 55." (Wall Street Journal)
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