Wake Up To Politics
This is your wake up call.
Monday, March 6, 2017
610 Days until Election Day 2018
1,379 Days until Election Day 2020
Good morning! Reporting from WUTP world HQ (in my bedroom), I'm Gabe Fleisher: this is your wake up call.
Need to Know
Top news for you to start your morning:
- WEEKEND REVIEW: Trump Claims Obama Wire-Tapped His Phones, Provides No Evidence After in which positive reviews of his speech to Congress were drowned out by growing scrutiny over ties between his staff and Russia, President Donald Trump dropped a bombshell on Saturday: he claimed his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, was tapping his phones at Trump Tower before the election.
- "Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my "wires tapped" in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!" he tweeted on Saturday, the first in a series of four messages. He continued:
- "Is it legal for a sitting President to be "wire tapping" a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!"
- "I'd bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!"
- "How low has President Obama gone to tapp [sic] my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!"
- The President gave no evidence to support the claim, which appears to have originated from right-wing media sources such as conservative radio host Mark Levin and Breitbart News. White House press secretary Sean Spicer doubled down on the claim in a statement Sunday, declaring that "reports concerning potentially politically motivated investigations immediately ahead of the 2016 election are very troubling" and announcing the President's plans to request a congressional investigation into "whether executive branch investigative powers were abused in 2016," as part of the ongoing Russian investigation.
- "Neither the White House nor the President will comment further until such oversight is conducted," Spicer concluded, punting to Congress to try and find evidence Trump either doesn't have or won't produce. Later Sunday, House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) granted Trump's wish, announcing in a statement that his panel's review of Russian interference in the election will include "inquiries into whether the government was conducting surveillance activities on any political party’s campaign officials or surrogates."
- However, the intelligence community largely pushed back against the allegation. Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who left office in January but would have overseen the wire-tapping indicated by Trump, told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday that he "can deny" claims of a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court order authorizing the FBI to bug Trump Tower.
- The New York Times followed with a Sunday report that FBI director James Comey has asked the Justice Department to publicly reject Trump's assertion; sources told the paper that he "has argued that the highly charged claim is false and must be corrected." No such rejection has been made by the department, nor has Comey gone public with his rebuke, although ABC, NBC, CNN, NPR, USA Today, and other news outlets confirmed that he made the request.
- Meanwhile, a representative of former President Obama denied the claim as well. "A cardinal rule of the Obama Administration was that no White House official ever interfered with any independent investigation led by the Department of Justice," Obama's post-presidential spokesperson Kevin Lewis said. "As part of that practice, neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen. Any suggestion otherwise is simply false."
- WHITE HOUSE: New Travel Ban Expected Today A number of news outlets have reported that President Trump's revised executive order on immigration could be coming as soon as today. Trump's original order temporarily prohibiting entry into the United States for citizens of seven Muslim-majority country and ending the U.S. refugee program was blocked by a federal court.
- What will be different about the new executive order, according to numerous media reports?
- IRAQ The 90-day ban on travel to the U.S. will only affect six countries (Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Syria and Libya) removing Iraq, a key ally in the fight against ISIS.
- VISAS Holders of existing green cards and visas will no longer be affected.
- REFUGEES The original order suspended the entire refugee program for 120 days and ended the Syrian refugee program permanently. The Syrian program will now just be temporarily ended like all other refugees.
- RELIGION Priority to Christian refugees from Muslim-majority countries, a key part of the original travel ban, will no longer be granted.
- COMING UP: GOP Obamacare Plan Republicans are aiming for their Obamacare replacement bill to be released in the coming days, with mark-up of the text scheduled in two House committees (Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce) on Wednesday. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Energy and Commerce chairman Greg Walden (R-OR), and their staffs spent the weekend hammering out loose ends with Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney, HHS Secretary Tom Price, and others from the White House.
What's happening in the world of politics today? All Times Eastern:
- WHITE HOUSE 10:30am: The President receives his daily intelligence briefing in the Oval Office.
- 12:30pm: The President has lunch with Vice President Mike Pence in the Presidential Dining Room.
- 1:35pm: The President meets with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in the Oval Office.
- 3pm: The President meets with Federal Communications Commission chairman Aijit Pai.
- 4pm: The President leads a meeting of his National Economic Council.
- 5pm: The President meets with Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin.
- 6pm: The President has dinner with Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney and Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price in the White House Residence. According to the Washington Post, Mulvaney has "become the point person" on crafting a replacement for Obamacare, cutting Price out of the loop.
- SENATE 2pm: The Senate convenes for the day. Following Leader remarks, the chamber will hold four hours of debate on H.J.Res.37. The measure repeals the Labor Department's "blacklisting rule," which "requires federal contractors to disclose labor violations committed or alleged in the last three years for bidding on contracts over $500,000," according to The Hill.
- The resolution was passed by the House last month; it is the latest in a string of Obama Administration regulations being struck down by the Republican Congress under the Congressional Review Act.
- A vote on H.J.Res.37 is scheduled for 6pm; afterward, the Senate will vote to begin debate on an Obama-era land management rule.
- HOUSE 4pm: The House meets for a pro forma session, meaning no business will be conducted today
Try your hand at the question of the day...
- Today's Question On this day in 1857, the Supreme Court ruled in Dred Scott v. Sanford, a landmark decision that denied African-American slaves the right to citizenship. Name one of the two justices who dissented in the decision.
- Think you know the answer? Email me: email@example.com. Correct respondents get their name in tomorrow's newsletter!
For more on Wake Up To Politics, listen to Gabe on NPR's "Talk of the Nation", St. Louis Public Radio, the Political Junkie podcast, and on StoryCorps; watch Gabe on MSNBC's "Up with Steve Kornacki"; and read about Gabe in Politico, the Washington Post, Independent Journal, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Salon, the Globe, and the St. Louis Jewish Light.