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Wake Up To Politics - March 12, 2019

I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Tuesday, March 12, 2019. 328 days until the 2020 Iowa caucuses. 602 days until Election Day 2020. Have comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at gabe@wakeuptopolitics.com.

The Investigations

--- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is opposed to impeaching President Donald Trump, she told the Washington Post in an interview published Monday. "I'm not for impeachment," she said, adding: "Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there's something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don't think we should go down that path, because it divides the country. And he's just not worth it." Pelosi's comments split members of her caucus, many of whom have called for the House to initiate impeachment proceedings against the president.

--- The New York attorney general's office on Monday "issued subpoenas to Deutsche Bank and Investors Bank for records relating to the financing of four major Trump Organization projects and a failed effort to buy the Buffalo Bills of the National Football League in 2014," the New York Times reports. The inquiry, which is a civil (not criminal) investigation, was prompted by former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen's testimony before the House Oversight Committee last month, per the Times: "Cohen testified under oath that Mr. Trump had inflated his assets in financial statements" and "provided copies of statements he said had been submitted to Deutsche Bank," which was one of the few lenders that did business with the Trump Organization in recent years.

--- House Oversight Committee chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) is seeking testimony from two lawyers he says "may have provided false information" when questioned by federal ethics officials about hush money payments to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels: former deputy White House counsel Stefan Passantino, who now represents the Trump Organization, and Trump personal attorney Sheri Dillon. According to CNN, the White House has responded to Cummings' request on Passantino's behalf, refusing to make him available for an interview.

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Trump releases $4.75 trillion budget request

President Trump released his 2020 budget request on Monday, a $4.75 trillion plan that would dramatically increase spending on military and border security programs (boosting defense spending to $750 billion and adding $8.6 billion for construction of a border wall) while making substantial cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, and other government benefits.

Graphics via the Washington Post:

2020 Central

--- Former Vice President Joe Biden is headling his first political event since the midterm elections today, addressing the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF), one of his key longtime allies. According to NBC News, Biden — fresh off of a vacation in St. Croix with his family — is gearing up for a presidential campaign launch in mid-April; the network reported on the policy proposals Biden is considering for the campaign, including a "tax code overhaul to treat investment income as earned income" to help pay for free community college, a "$15-per-hour minimum wage," "free tuition at public colleges and universities," and a major infrastructure investment.

--- Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) announced Monday that he will make his first trip to Iowa as a potential presidential candidate this weekend, campaigning for a Democrat running in a state Senate special election. Related: "Beto O'Rourke Moves Toward a 2020 Race He Could Upend, Ready or Not" (New York Times)

--- The Democratic presidential primary field might already include more than a dozen contenders, but there are even more names that could still be added. A presidential run in "2020 is definitely on the table," former Georgia state Rep. Stacey Abrams, the 2018 Democratic gubernatorial nominee in the state, tweeted Monday.

--- The 2020 Democratic National Convention will be held in Milwaukee, the party announced on Monday. The other finalists were Houston and Miami. Republicans are holding their convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Quote of the Day

"That's a question you ought to ask the Democrats." — White House press secretary Sarah Sanders on Monday, at her first press briefing in six weeks, refusing to directly answer whether President Trump believes Democrats "hate Jewish people," after Axios reported that he told GOP donors as much over the weekend.

White House schedule

--- At 11:45 a.m., President Trump will be presented with the Boy Scouts’ Report to the Nation. At 1:45 p.m., he participates in a signing ceremony participates in a signing ceremony for S. 47, the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act.

--- At 10 a.m., Vice President Mike Pence delivers remarks to the Credit Union National Association’s Governmental Affairs Conference.

Congress schedule

--- The Senate convenes at 10 a.m. today. The chamber will recess from 12:30 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. to allow for the weekly caucus meetings. At 2:30 p.m., the chamber will vote to confirm Paul B. Matey to be a U.S. Circuit Judge for the Third Circuit, followed by a procedural vote advancing the nomination of Neomi J. Rao to be a U.S. Circuit Judge for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Matey formerly served as deputy chief counsel to Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ); Rao, a former law professor, has served as Administrator of the U.S. Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) since July 2017. She is seen as a potential future Supreme Court nominee: the D.C. Circuit, which she is being nominated to, is a frequent stepping-stone to the high court; she is filling the seat vacated by now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh. However, her confirmation process ran into issues as senators from both parties "raised concerns about her past writings on issues ranging from LGBT rights and affirmative action to sexual assault and abortion," according to Fox News.  

--- The House convenes at 10 a.m. today. The chamber is scheduled to vote on seven pieces of legislation, including a series of bills designed to take aim at Russian president Vladimir Putin.

  1. H.Res. 156 – Calling for accountability and justice for the assassination of Boris Nemtsov, as amended
  2. H.R. 596 – Crimea Annexation Non-recognition Act, as amended
  3. H.R. 1404 – Vladimir Putin Transparency Act, as amended
  4. H.R. 1617 – KREMLIN Act
  5. H.R. 1582 – Electronic Message Preservation Act
  6. H.R. 1608 – Federal Advisory Committee Act Amendments of 2019
  7. H.R. 1654 – Federal Register Modernization Act, as amended

Supreme Court schedule

--- The Supreme Court has no oral arguments or conferences scheduled today.

*All times Eastern