Thursday, March 30, 2017
586 Days until Election Day 2018
1,314 Days until Election Day 2020
An abbreviated late-sleep edition...
Trump vs. Freedom Caucus After days of blaming the conservative group for the failure of the GOP health care bill, President Donald Trump declared war on the Freedom Caucus this morning, seemingly calling for primary challenges to each of the 30 or so Republican congressmen. "The Freedom Caucus will hurt the entire Republican agenda if they don't get on the team, & fast," he tweeted this morning. "We must fight them, & Dems, in 2018!"
Trump's tweet comes as negotiations resume on health care, with the hardline Freedom Caucus meeting with members of the moderate Tuesday Group to attempt to hammer out a consensus bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. The President and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) are also singing different tunes on health care, with Trump repeatedly speaking of his hopes to work with Democrats. "I don't want that to happen," Ryan told CBS.
White House Staff Shake-Up Politico, and now other news outlets, reported this morning that the first significant staff shake-up of the Trump era has begun: Deputy White House Chief of Staff Katie Walsh, a top ally of Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, is moving on to advise the pro-Trump group America First.
Happening Now: Senate Russia Hearing The Senate Intelligence Committee is currently holding a hearing on Russian intervention into the 2016 election. The panel's leaders, chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and ranking member Mark Warner (D-VA), held a press conference Wednesday affirming their commitment to the investigation. The duo said they have already scheduled 20 interviews and begun reviewing thousands of documents.
Warner and Burr's close relationship and commitment to the probe was a clear divide from the situation in the House Intelligence Committee, where ranking member Adam Schiff (D-CA) has called for chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) to recuse himself.
Breaking Now: Nunes has come under fire for his handling of information that conversations of Trump transition members were "incidentally collected" by intelligence agencies. Schiff and other Democrats have accused Nunes for briefing the White House on the information before sharing with his colleagues on the panel; earlier this week, the chairman admitted to receiving the information from a source on the White House grounds.
Just before publication of this newsletter, the New York Times reported that Nunes received the information from two White House officials, confirming suspicion that he coordinated with the Administration to vindicate President Trump's claim that he was wiretapped by his predesscor.
Travel Ban Blocked, Again The Trump Administration has lost on its travel ban for a third time, with a Hawaii judge extending his ruling blocking the revised executive order. In response to a request from the federal government to drop his order, U.S. District Court Judge Derrick Watson instead changed it from a temporary restraining order to a preliminary injunction.
The judge's ruling puts an even longer hold on the executive order, which halts the U.S. refugee program and the issuance of visas to six majority-Muslim nations.
Shutdown Clock 29 days until government funding runs out. President Trump is insisting that a continuing resolution funds his border wall, which both sides say they are willing to shut down the government over. The House Freedom Caucus wants to defund Planned Parenthood in this CR, which is opposed by Democrats and Speaker Ryan alike. Meanwhile, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) told CNN on Wednesday that he would support a shutdown if the spending bill doesn't increase military spending.
The President's Schedule At 11am, President Trump will meet with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin in the Oval Office. The likely topic: tax reform, reportedly the next item on the White House agenda.
At 12pm, President Trump will host a "legislative affairs lunch on opioid and drug abuse" in the Roosevelt Room, one day after forming an opioid commission chaired by Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ).
At 3:10pm, President Trump will meet with Prime Minister Rasmussen in the Oval Office. According to the White House, the two leaders will discuss "our strong bilateral relationship and how we can progress on our shared priorities, including deepening already robust economic ties, defeating ISIS, and strengthening our defense and security relationship, both bilaterally and through the North Atlantic Treaty Organization."
Trivia Tuesday's trivia question: who was the only Supreme Court nominee to be filibustered? The answer I was looking for was Abe Fortas, a sitting justice who was nominated for Chief Justice by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Fortas soon came under fire for ethics troubles, and Republican senators held a four-day filibuster to block his nomination. He never received an up-or-down confirmation vote, as the cloture vote (which then required 67 votes, but now requires 60) was 45-43, with 12 senators absent. There is some debate as to whether the Fortas affair was a true filibuster, which is discussed more in this Washington Post piece that lays out why it really was.
GREAT JOB...Steve Gitnik, Garret Cohn, Joan Zucker, Dr. Mark Smith, Mary Alice Lucius, Gwen-Marie Lerch, Randy Fleisher, and Tom Alpert!
I got a lot of other answers, including a lot of people saying Robert Bork - who did receive a confirmation vote, but was famously rejected.