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Wake Up To Politics - March 4, 2019

I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Monday, March 4, 2019. 336 days until the 2020 Iowa caucuses. 610 days until Election Day 2020. Have comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at gabe@wakeuptopolitics.com.

House Democrats readying 60+ subpoenas of people tied to Trump

The House Judiciary Committee plans to requests for documents from more than 60 people with ties to President Donald Trump today, chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) told ABC's "This Week" on Sunday.

Nadler said that the document requests were intended "to begin the investigations to present the case to the American people about obstruction of justice, corruption, and abuse of power," adding that it was important to "persuade the American people" before initiating impeachment proceedings, which his panel is empowered to do. Asked if he thought President Trump had obstructed justice, Nadler responded: "Yes, I do."

According to the Wall Street Journal, the list of 60+ includes members of the Trump family (Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, and White House advisers Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner), Trump Organizations executives (chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg and Trump's longtime assistant Rhona Graff), and ousted White House aides (former chief of staff John Kelly and former White House counsel Don McGahn). Nadler also said that the list, which will be released later today, includes current White House and Justice Department officials.

The Judiciary Committee list "represents the most comprehensive and far-reaching effort by Congress to probe the president and his associates since Democrats took control of the House in January," the WSJ reported.

Other investigation news...

  • House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) described his panel's investigations on CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday. Schiff said the Trump Tower Moscow deal, which he called "among the most disturbing" issues, was one of the main avenues being probed; he also said the committee is "looking at persistent allegations that the Russians have been laundering money through the Trump Organization."
  • Senate Intelligence Committee vice chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) said on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday that lawmakers have found "enormous evidence" of possible collusion between Trump campaign officials and Russians.
  • House Oversight Committee chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) sent a letter to the White House on Friday calling for "full and immediate compliance" by today with his requests for information related to the security clearance process. "I am now writing a final time to request your voluntary cooperation with this investigation," he said.
  • Lawmakers are investigating whether former Trump attorney Michael Cohen "was involved in any discussions about possible pardons," "which they view as a potentially ripe area of inquiry into whether anyone sought to obstruct justice," per the Washington Post.
  • The House Ways and Means Committee is preparing "a request for years of President Donald Trump's personal tax returns that is expected to land at the Internal Revenue Service as early as the next few weeks," NBC News reports.
  • Trump ripped into his investigators during his Saturday address to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), his longest speech as president, CNN reports.

Hickenlooper launches 2020 presidential bid

Former Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-CO) announced his candidacy for president today, becoming the second current or former state executive to join the crowded field of Democratic hopefuls.

"I'm running for president because we need dreamers in Washington, but we also need to get things done," Hickenlooper said in a launch video released this morning, which focused on his personal biography. "I've proven again and again I can bring people together to produce the progressive change Washington has failed to deliver."

Hickenlooper, 67, served two four-year terms as governor of Colorado until stepping down due to term limits earlier this year; he previously served as mayor of Denver from 2003 to 2011, his first foray into politics. Before seeking the mayorship, Hickenlooper was a geologist and co-founder of a Denver-based brewpub. His Twitter bio reads: "Former Governor of Colorado. Dad. Husband. Craft brewer and occasional banjo player. A name you won't forget."

According to the New York Times, Hickenlooper plans to run as a "pragmatic progressive," citing the "careful, consensus-building approach that won him praise from both sides of the aisle and helped him guide Colorado out of a recession and through a series of floods, wildfires and mass shootings in the first years of his tenure" as governor. His accomplishments as governor included passing universal background checks, becoming the first state to enact methane capture requirements, approving Medicaid expansion, and legalizing marijuana.  

Hickenlooper's campaign was made official on Sunday when he filed with the FEC; he will kick off the effort with a Denver rally on Thursday, followed by a trip to Iowa on Friday and Saturday.

Other 2020 news...

  • Former Attorney General Eric Holder announced in a Washington Post op-ed this morning that he will not wage a presidential campaign in 2020, instead pledging to focus on his redistricting reform effort with former President Barack Obama.
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) kicked off his 2020 campaign over the weekend, highlighting his familiar policy platform but with a new addition: talking about himself, per the New York Times.
  • Waiting on Joe: "Biden's Hamlet act ripples across 2020 field" (Politico)
  • Recommended read: "Andrew Cuomo’s Case for 2020—No, Really" (The Atlantic)

Paul to oppose Trump national emergency declaration

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) announced Sunday that he would back a House-passed resolution overturning President Trump's declaration of a national emergency on the southern border, likely providing the deciding vote for the measure to clear the Senate.

"I stand with the president often, and I do so with a loud voice," Paul wrote in Fox News op-ed. "Today, I think he's wrong, not on policy, but in seeking to expand the powers of the presidency beyond their constitutional limits." He added: "Every single Republican I know decried President Obama’s use of executive power to legislate. We were right then. But the only way to be an honest officeholder is to stand up for the same principles no matter who is in power."

Paul is the fourth Senate Republican to announce their plans to support the resolution of disapproval, the number needed for the measure to pass if all Democrats vote for it; he joins Susan Collins of Maine, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Other GOP senators, including Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Ted Cruz of Texas, and Cory Gardner of Colorado, could also back the resolution. "One GOP senator who supports the national emergency declaration estimated that five to seven Republican would vote to disapprove, though others said the number is likely to be higher," per Politico.

Under the National Emergencies Act of 1976, the Senate is required to vote on the House-passed resolution within the next two weeks. This would be the first time Congress has voted to overturn a president's national emergency declaration. If it passes the Senate, the measure would go to President Trump's desk, where he has already threatened to make it his first veto since taking office.

Quote of the Day

"My opinion doesn't matter." — National security adviser John Bolton when asked on CNN's "State of the Union" if he agreed with President Trump that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was unaware of American college student Otto Warmbier's suspected torture.

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White House schedule

POTUS: At 11:30 a.m., President Trump participates in a photo opportunity with the 2018 Divison I FCS National Champions, the North Dakota State Bison.

At 12:30 p.m., he has lunch with Vice President Mike Pence.

At 1:45 p.m., the president receives his daily intelligence briefing. Related: "To Woo a Skeptical Trump, Intelligence Chiefs Talk Economics Instead of Spies" (New York Times)

At 2:30 p.m., Trump signs an executive order on "Supporting the Transition of Active Duty Service Members and Military Veterans into the Merchant Marine."

At 4:15 p.m., he addresses the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG).

VP: The vice president's public schedule includes two events today: his 12:30 p.m. lunch with the president, and joining Trump for the NAAG speech.

FLOTUS: First Lady Melania Trump travels to Tulsa, Oklahoma and Seattle, Washington today. In Tulsa, she will "visit an award-winning elementary school that focuses on incorporating character education throughout its curriculum"; in Seattle, she will visit a tech company "to receive a tour and briefing on some of their programs and applications meant to teach children online safety, as well as technology innovations meant to help children with disabilities."

Congress schedule

Senate: The Senate convenes at 3 p.m. today. At 5:30 p.m., the chamber will hold a cloture vote on the nomination of Allison Jones Rushing to be a U.S. Circuit Judge for the Fourth Circuit. Rushing, a former law clerk for Justice Clarence Thomas, is a partner at prominent D.C. law firm Williams & Connolly; her nomination was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee in a party-line vote last month.

House: The House meets today for a pro forma session at 11:30 a.m. No votes are expected to be held.

Supreme Court schedule

The justices will release orders from their Friday conference at 9:30 a.m.; opinions may also be released at 10 a.m.

*All times Eastern