I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It's Thursday, June 15, 2017. 509 days until Election Day 2018. 1,237 days until Election Day 2020. Have comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell your friends to sign up to receive the newsletter in their inbox at wakeuptopolitics.com/subscribe!
Programming Note This is the second-to-last edition of Wake Up To Politics before I depart for camp. I am leaving this weekend, for eight weeks in the wilderness — without Internet, Twitter, TV... or politics. But, don't worry: I will be back in August, ready to resume helping you navigate through the world of politics. And, don't go anywhere: there's one more issue tomorrow!
Mass Shooting Targets GOP Baseball Practice A gunman opened fire on an Alexandria baseball field on Wednesday morning while dozens of Republican lawmakers were practicing for the annual Congressional Baseball Game. More than 50 shots were fired, and five were injured: House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), lobbyist Matt Mika, GOP staffer Zachary Barth, and U.S. Capitol Police officers David Bailey and Crystal Griner.
According to a Wednesday night statement from MedStar Washington Hospital Center, where he is being treated, Scalise was shot in the left hip and sustained bone fractures, injuries to his internal organs, and severe bleeding. After being transported "in shock" to the hospital, "he underwent immediate surgery, and an additional procedure to stop bleeding." Additionally, Scalise has received "multiple units of blood transfusion" and "will require additional operations." He remains in critical condition, the hospital said. Scalise is the 9th member of Congress to be shoot in U.S. history, and the first since then-Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ) was attacked in 2011.
Barth and Bailey have been released from the hospital; as of last night, Mika also remained in critical condition, while Griner was at the hospital in "good condition." President and First Lady Trump visited Scalise at the hospital on Wednesday night, meeting with his wide and doctors before speaking with him by his bedside. The Trumps also met with Griner and her family, giving both victims bouquets of flowers. "Just left hospital," the President tweeted later. "Rep. Steve Scalise, one of the truly great people, is in very tough shape - but he is a real fighter. Pray for Steve!"
Meanwhile, law enforcement officials identified the shooter as 66-year-old James Hodgkinson of Belleville, Illinois. Hodginkson was killed on the scene by police. His social media profiles reveal a fierce opponent of President Trump, and a strong supporter of Bernie Sanders, whose presidential campaign Hodkinson volunteered for last year. The attacker also had a record of incidents with the police, many involving firearms.
The Congressional Baseball Game will still be played tonight, continuing a 108-year-old tradition. Republican and Democratic lawmakers play against each other in the game, but in light of Wednesday's shooting, much of Washington united as a single team. "We may have our differences, but we do well, in times like these, to remember that everyone who serves in our nation’s capital is here because, above all, they love our country," President Trump said in a televised address. "We can all agree that we are blessed to be Americans, that our children deserve to grow up in a nation of safety and peace, and that we are strongest when we are unified and when we work together for the common good."
House Speaker Paul Ryan and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered back-to-back remarks on the House floor on Wednesday, also encouraging unity amid the tragedy "We are all horrified by this dreadful attack on our friends and on our colleagues and those who serve and protect this Capitol," Ryan said. "We are united in our shock. We are united in our anguish. An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us."
"To my colleagues, you're gonna hear me say something you've never heard me say before: I identify myself with the remarks of the Speaker," Pelosi said, echoing her GOP counterpart. "We are not one caucus or the other in this House today, but we speak for each other in saying we send our thoughts and prayers to our colleague Steve Scalise."
Reports: Mueller Investigating Trump for Obstruction of Justice According to former FBI director James Comey's blockbuster testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee last week, President Trump repeatedly asked him if he was under investigation. Three times, Comey said "no." Then, Trump fired Comey — and that answer quickly changed.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who was appointed to investigate Russia's interference int he 2016 election and ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, has expanded his probe to also examine whether President Trump attempted to obstruct justice, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday.
The Post called Mueller's move a "major turning point in the nearly year-old FBI investigation," and said it came soon after Comey's termination last month. According to the report, the Special Counsel has requested interviews with Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats and NSA chief Mike Rogers.
The Post reported last month that Trump asked Coats and Rogers to "publicly deny the existence of any evidence of collusion during the 2016 election," and reported last week that he asked Coats to intervene in the FBI's probe of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.
According to the Wall Street Journal, which confirmed the Post report, recently retired NSA deputy director Richard Ledgett penned a memo documenting Trump's request of Rogers, which was made in a phone call where the President also expressed skepticism on intelligence reports that Russia interfered in the elections.
Coats and Rogers refused to comment on those reports at a recent Senate hearing; they may do the same in their interviews with Mueller, which they have already agreed to. Ledgett has also consented to sitting for an interview with the Special Counsel.
The Post's scoop comes after a New York Times report on Tuesday that President Trump has discussed firing Mueller, although his staff has temporarily convinced him doing so would be to explosive. "But people close to Mr. Trump say he is so volatile they cannot be sure that he will not change his mind," the Times noted. According to the report, Trump hopes public rumblings by his allies threatening Mueller's position will pressure the Special Counsel to issue a "blanket public exoneration" of the President.
In classic Trumpian fashion, the President tweeted on Thursday morning in response to the Post report: "They made up a phony collusion with the Russians story, found zero proof, so now they go for obstruction of justice on the phony story. Nice." A follow-up tweet said: "You are witnessing the single greatest WITCH HUNT in American political history - led by some very bad and conflicted people!
A spokesman for Trump's personal attorney Marc Kasowitz did not deny the story in a comment to the Post, instead saying: “The FBI leak of information regarding the president is outrageous, inexcusable and illegal." RNC chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel had the same focus in a statement on Wednesday, saying: "This unfounded accusation against the president changes nothing...The continued illegal leaks are the only crime here."
The President's Schedule At 10am, President Trump receives his daily intelligence briefing in the Oval Office.
At 10:45am, Trump drops by the Workforce of Tomorrow roundtable with eight U.S. governors in the Cabinet Room. The roundtable will be led by Vice President Mike Pence, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, and First Daughter Ivanka Trump, a formal White House adviser. At 11am, he speaks on the Apprenticeship and Workforce of Tomorrow initiatives in the RooseveltRoom, and signs an Executive Order on workforce development.
According to Politico, the executive order will "virtually eliminate oversight of government-subsidized apprenticeship programs," shifting "certification of federally funded apprenticeship programs from the Labor Department to grant recipients ." Trump will also announce a plan to more than double government funding allotted for apprenticeship grants.
Finally, at 2pm, the President and First Lady will participate in the ceremonial Investiture Ceremony for Justice Neil Gorsuch at the Supreme Court. This will be Trump's first visit to the Court since his election, coming at an awkward time, as "The Nine" are considering cases involving his travel ban.
Today in the Senate The upper chamber meets at 9:30am. Following Leader remarks, the Senate will resume debate on the Countering Iran's Destabilizing Activities Act, with the time until 11am equally divided between both parties. The measure, advanced in a 91-8 vote last week, would impose new sanctions on Iran over its "ballistic missile program, support for acts of international terrorism, and violations of human rights."
At11am, the chamber will vote on two amendments to the bill, before voting on its passage.
Today in the House The lower chamber meets at 10am, and is scheduled to vote on two pieces of legislation: the Veterans Equal Treatment Ensures Relief and Access Now (VETERAN) Act and the Broader Options for Americans Act.
In addition, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy will introduce a resolution recognizing the victims of Wednesday's shooting and commending the first responders.
Trivia Answer Monday's trivia question asked for the three Presidents who testified before congressional committees while in office. The answers... Abraham Lincoln, who testified before the House Judiciary Committee on a leak of his State of the Union address; Woodrow Wilson, who testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the League of Nations; and Gerald Ford, who went before the House Judiciary Committee's Criminal Justice Subcommittee to explain his pardon of former President Richard Nixon.
As promised, I will recognize the first ten and last ten of the many correct respondents. GREAT JOB... the first ten: Cody Monville, Leonard Goodkin, Julie O'Hara, Beth Cooper-Zobott, Kathy Daniel, Liz Sullivan, Andi MacLeod, John Peloquin, Jill Davidson, and Paulo One!!!
And GREAT JOB... the last ten: Melissa Locher, Sheila Gordon, Carolyn Tripp, Mark Macumber, Evy Okerstrom, Mark Andrews, Tyna Elbe, Rosine Salazer, Jacquelyn Sullivan, and Saavan Nanavati!
Thanks to everyone who answered!