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Wake Up To Politics - March 28, 2018

I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Wednesday, March 28, 2018. 223 days until Election Day 2018. 951 days until Election Day 2020. Have comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at gabe@wakeuptopolitics.com. Tell your friends to sign up to receive the newsletter in their inboxes at wakeuptopolitics.com/subscribe!

Trump Administration

North Korea: President Trump on Twitter this morning, following North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un's meeting with Chinese president Xi Jinping in Beijing: "Received message last night from XI JINPING of China that his meeting with KIM JONG UN went very well and that KIM looks forward to his meeting with me. In the meantime, and unfortunately, maximum sanctions and pressure must be maintained at all cost!"

--- Another early-morning tweet: "For years and through many administrations, everyone said that peace and the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula was not even a small possibility. Now there is a good chance that Kim Jong Un will do what is right for his people and for humanity. Look forward to our meeting!"

South Korea:"President Donald Trump has reached the first trade deal of his administration, getting South Korea to make a few changes to a six-year-old pact he said was a horrible deal."

"Trump had largely criticized the previous agreement largely because of the U.S.’s auto trade deficit with South Korea, which has grown significantly since the deal went into force in 2012. At his insistence, the two countries launched talks last year to renegotiate the pact." (Politico)

Census: "At least 12 states signaled Tuesday that they would sue to block the Trump administration from adding a question about citizenship to the 2020 census, arguing that the change would cause fewer Americans to be counted and violate the Constitution."

"The New York State attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, said he was leading a multistate lawsuit to stop the move, and officials in Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Washington said they would join the effort. The State of California filed a separate lawsuit late Monday night." (New York Times)

Border wall: "President Trump, who repeatedly insisted during the 2016 campaign that Mexico would pay for a wall along the southern border, is privately pushing the U.S. military to fund construction of his signature project."

"Trump has told advisers that he was spurned in a large spending bill last week when lawmakers appropriated only $1.6 billion for the border wall. He has suggested to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and congressional leaders that the Pentagon could fund the sprawling project, citing a 'national security' risk." (Washington Post)

National security team: "Defense Secretary Jim Mattis acknowledged Tuesday that he and President Donald Trump’s incoming national security adviser, John Bolton, have different world views but predicted they will develop a working partnership."

"'I look forward to working with him — no reservations, no concerns at all,' Mattis told reporters at an impromptu news conference. 'Last time I checked he’s an American. I’m not in the least bit concerned.'" (AP)

Legal team: "A little-known former prosecutor with a doctorate in medieval history will play a central role on U.S. President Donald Trump’s legal team, as many top-tier lawyers shy away from representing him in a probe into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election."

"Andrew Ekonomou, 69, is one of a handful of lawyers assisting Jay Sekulow, the main attorney representing Trump in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Sekulow told Reuters on Tuesday that after the departure of Washington attorney John Dowd from Trump’s personal legal team last week, Ekonomou will assume a more prominent role."

..."Sekulow said Ekonomou, who works under contract as an assistant district attorney in Brunswick, Georgia, was a “brilliant strategist” who has handled complex investigations for decades. Ekonomou assisted Sekulow in a famous case involving the religious group Jews for Jesus before the Supreme Court in the 1980s."

"While Ekonomou has also worked on criminal matters, he has not handled cases as high-profile and complex as the Mueller probe." (Reuters)

TV Presidency: "The White House press office is getting a bit more Sunshine these days -- former Disney Channel star Caroline Sunshine, that is. She's joining the team as a press assistant."

"Sunshine, 22, is known for her role alongside Zendaya as Tinka Hessenheffer in 'Shake It Up,' a Disney Channel show about teen dancers that ran from 2010 to 2013. She was also in the 2010 film 'Marmaduke,' among other roles." (CNN)

Stormy Daniels: "Stormy Daniels' attorney asked a federal judge this morning for permission to depose President Donald J. Trump about his knowledge of an agreement to pay the porn star $130,000 a week and a half before the 2016 election."

"In a motion filed in federal court in Los Angeles, Daniels' attorney, Michael J. Avenatti, requested a deposition 'of no greater than two hours' of the President. Avenatti also asked for a court order to depose the President's personal attorney, Michael D. Cohen, who has said he made the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels with his own funds and without Mr. Trump's knowledge." (CBS News)


Balanced budget amendment: "House Republicans will take up a balanced-budget amendment when they return from recess, several sources tell us. This follows on the heels of their $1.3-trillion budget bill and their massive tax bill."

"Why do this now? Here's what we think: It's almost election season, and it would be helpful if GOP lawmakers could go home and be able to say they voted to support balancing the federal budget, even though they voted boosted discretionary spending by a ton, and have not touched entitlement spending, which, they have said for years, is the driver of U.S. budget deficits." (Politico Playbook)

Sexual harassment: "All 22 Democratic and Republican female senators have written a letter to Senate leadership expressing their "deep disappointment" in the Senate's "inaction" in moving sexual harassment legislation forward. They are calling for a vote on the legislation that would overhaul how sexual harassment claims are handled on Capitol Hill."

..."The letter, sent to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, was spearheaded by Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar, Kirsten Gillibrand and Patty Murray and signed by every woman US senator." (CNN)

Facebook: "Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook Inc.’s chief executive officer, is expected to testify before the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, according to a congressional official familiar with the plans."

"Zuckerberg has been the subject of withering criticism from both Republican and Democratic members of Congress, as well as members of the U.K.’s Parliament, over signs that the company he co-founded and leads has failed to protect user privacy. Lawmakers briefed this week by Facebook staff complained that the aides sent to closed-door briefings couldn’t answer many of their questions." (Bloomberg)

McCain memoir:"Veteran US Senator John McCain is to deliver a 'no-holds-barred' verdict on his fellow Republican Donald Trump's presidency in a new book of memoirs, his publishers announced Monday."

..."'Candid, pragmatic and always fascinating, John McCain holds nothing back in his latest memoir' which is entitled 'The Restless Wave' and will be released on May 22, according to the publishers Simon & Schuster." (Yahoo)

The Russia investigation

Manafort: "The FBI has found that a business associate of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort had ongoing ties to Russian intelligence, including during the 2016 campaign when Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates, were in touch with the associate, according to new court filings."

"The documents, filed late Tuesday by prosecutors for special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, also allege that Gates had said he knew the associate was a former officer with the Russian military intelligence service." (Washington Post)


Trump: At 11:30am, the President hosts a credentialing ceremony for newly appointed ambassadors to Washington, D.C. At 12:15pm, he has lunch with Defense Secretary James Mattis.

This is the President's fifth day in a row with no public events or opportunities for reporters to ask him questions. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders will brief at 1:30pm today.

Pence: Vice President Mike Pence wakes up in Minneapolis, Minnesota today, where he will keynote a "Tax Cuts to Put America First" event hosted by America First Policies, a pro-Trump 501(c)(4) group.

Supreme Court: "The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday will hear arguments from Maryland Republicans that the state’s 6th Congressional District was intentionally drawn by the Democratic-controlled state legislature to cost a GOP incumbent his seat. This comes after it heard a similar case from Democrats in Wisconsin who say the GOP-controlled legislature gerrymandered the entire state map to maximize their majority."

..."The court's decisions, expected by June, could impose constitutional limits on partisan gerrymandering or allow it to happen with virtually no limits." (Axios)

Congress: Both houses of Congress are on recess today.

*All times Eastern