Wake Up To Politics - March 23, 2018
I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Friday, March 24, 2018. 228 days until Election Day 2018. 956 days until Election Day 2020. Have comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at email@example.com. Tell your friends to sign up to receive the newsletter in their inboxes at wakeuptopolitics.com/subscribe!
I'm back! Thanks for your understanding while I slept in a bit during my Spring Break the past week. Below the breaking news, find a roundup of some of the storylines I missed while I was gone...
Breaking: Trump threatens to veto omnibus spending bill
The threat of a government shutdown returned this morning as President Donald Trump tweeted that he is "considering a VETO" of the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill. The legislation, which was passed by the Senate in a 65-32 vote early this morning and 256-167 in the House on Thursday, would keep the government open until September and combines a number of other bills.
Trump said that he was mulling rejecting the package, which now sits on his desk, "based on the fact that the 800,000 plus DACA recipients have been totally abandoned by the Democrats (not even mentioned in Bill) and the BORDER WALL, which is desperately needed for our National Defense, is not fully funded." A potential deal to fund the $25 billion border wall in exchange for protections for DACA recipients fell through in congressional negotiations.
Trump's veto threat comes as many lawmakers have already left town: both houses of Congress adjourned for a two-week recess after approving the omnibus spending bill. OMB Director Mick Mulvaney promised Thursday that President Trump would sign the measure into law. "Is the president going to sign the bill?" he said to reporters. "The answer is yes."
Government funding expires at midnight.
Trump appoints John Bolton to replace H.R. McMaster as national security adviser
After weeks of speculation that he would ditch his national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, President Trump named former UN Ambassador John Bolton to the post on Thursday. Trump announced on Twitter that Bolton would formally become national security adviser on April 9; he will be the third person to hold the high-ranking position in fifteen months.
As national security adviser, Bolton will serve as the president's top White House aide on all national security matters, briefing the president and presenting information to him before many key decisions. Bolton served as U.S. Ambassador totheUnitednations under George W. Bush, as well as in the State Department under both Presidents Bush and in the Reagan Justice Department.
He is known for his hawkish views, a top advocate for the Iraq War (which President Trump has criticized) who has recently called for pre-emptive strikes against Iran and North Korea. Bolton isalsoacontributoron Fox News, Trump's latest personnel pick who is a frequent TV pundit, following CNBC commentator turned National Economic Council director Larry Kudlow.
Trump's decision to remove McMaster is the latest move he has taken to shake up his administration, replacing advisers who he has disagreed with (such as McMaster, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and NEC director Gary Cohn) with individuals he is more comfortable with and whose personalities he prefers (Bolton, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, and Kudlow, respectively). Trump has also shaken up his legal team in recent days: his lead outside lawyer in the Russia probe, John Dowd, resigned on Thursday, just after attorney Joseph diGenova was added.
The White House said that Trump and McMaster "mutually agreed" that the latter would resign as national security adviser, adding that they had been "discussing this for some time" and that it was "not related to any one moment or incident." In a statement thanking President Trump and his National Security Council staff, McMaster said that he plans to retire from the U.S. Army this summer after 34 years of service.
Trump's staff shake-up may not be over: White House chief of staff John Kelly had reportedly been planning to announce the departures of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson along with McMaster, although Trump has reportedly mused about parting ways with Kelly as well — and not replacing him at all.
Week in Review
Just some of the storylines that I missed while on Spring Break the past week...
- Former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe was fired, just days before he was set to retire and become eligible to collect his pension. In a statement, McCabe claimed that the firing was part of a Trump Administration "war on the FBI" and stemmed from what he witnessed after former FBI Director James Comey's firing. It was then reported that McCabe kept memos on his interactions with Trump (and that special counsel Robert Mueller now has them) and that McCabe authorized a criminal probe of Attorney General Jeff Sessions before being fired. Trump later called McCabe's memos "fake," attacking him and Comey, who has fired back ahead of his book's release next month.
- In the days after McCabe's firing (and amid reporting that the special counsel had subpoenaed his business), Trump also attacked Mueller on Twitter by name for the first time, stepping up his assault on the special counsel's investigation and drawing rebuke from many GOP lawmakers. Trump's new legal strategy was previewed by his top lawyer John Dowd, who called for the Mueller investigation to end, then said he wasn't speaking on behalf of the president (after saying he was), then resigned on Thursday and said Trump had supported his statement all along.
- President Trump called Russian president Vladimir Putin to congratulate him on winning re-election, despite his aides telling him to "DO NOT CONGRATULATE" and Republicans criticizing the move.
- Facebook suspended Trump-linked data firm Cambridge Analytica after reporting that the company stole data from 50 million of the social network's users. Mark Zuckerberg then apologized for the data breach, although lawmakers continued calls for the Facebook CEO to testify. It was then reported that special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating the relationship between the Trump campaign and Cambridge Analytica.
- President Trump faced a trio of lawsuits relating to allegations about relationships with a porn star, a Playboy model, and a former "Apprentice" contestant.
- It was revealed that President Trump required White House aides to sign nondisclosure agreements last year.
- Vice President Joe Biden and President Trump fantasized about fighting each other.
Trump: At 11am, the President receives his intelligence briefing. At 11:30am, Trump meets with Defense Secretary James Mattis, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan (who is performing Tillerson's duties until Pompeo is confirmed).
At4pm, Trump departs the White House for Palm Beach, Florida; tonight, he will arrive at Mar-a-Lago, where he and First Lady Melania Trump are set to spend the weekend.
Briefing: White House press secretary Sarah Sanders is scheduled to give an on-camera press briefing at 1pm.
Congress: Neither chamber of Congress was scheduled to meet today, but recess plans are up on the air now that Trump has said he may veto the omnibus spending bill and set off a government shutdown.
*All times Eastern