I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Monday, May 13, 2019. 266 days until the 2020 Iowa caucuses. 540 days until Election Day 2020. Have comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The top 2020 storylines to pay attention to...
Big picture: "Biden’s entry into the Democratic race provides a jolt to the Sanders candidacy" (Washington Post)
--- Another way to look at it: "For all their differences, [Vermont Sen. Bernie] Sanders and [former Vice President Joe] Biden have a mutual interest in preserving their duopoly and using each other as foils. Sanders needs an establishment antagonist, while Biden, 76, may prefer running against the 77-year-old Sanders than 20 younger options." (NBC News)
Inside Team Biden: "As the famously voluble Mr. Biden makes his first retail campaign stops in the Democratic primary, and grows accustomed to the front-runner status he never enjoyed in his two previous White House bids, his campaign is grappling with how to showcase Mr. Biden’s never-met-a-stranger persona without exposing him to an environment where he may commit a gaffe."
"So far, they have struck a safe, if precarious, balance." (New York Times)
State of play in Iowa: "Across the field, Iowa offers a series of ideological, racial and generational sub-primaries: between [Senators Elizabeth] Warren and [Bernie] Sanders for the mantle of progressive leader, between Senators Cory Booker and Kamala Harris to be the leading black candidate before the race pivots to more diverse states, and between Mayor Pete Buttigieg, [former Congressman Beto] O’Rourke and other fresh faces offering a turn-the-page-on-the-past candidacy."
..."Just how important has Iowa been? The last Democratic nominee not to win it was Bill Clinton in 1992." (New York Times)
--- What Iowans are asking: "What's on Iowans' minds going into 2020 caucuses? A look at 300 questions they asked candidates in April" (Des Moines Register)
New entry: "[Montana Gov. Steve] Bullock currently sits at 0 percent in the few polls that have included him as an option, but 2020 is proving to be a race where even the expected heavyweights are struggling to break through. Bullock is poised to enter this week with a network of top advisers and the clear support of Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, the only Democrat currently elected statewide in the first caucus state. And he’s hoping to lean into a distinction that no one else in the field can claim."
"'You look at this field and there’s only one that’s won in a Trump state when Trump was on the ballot, or won statewide in a Trump state, period,' Bullock told me." (The Atlantic)
--- But, but, but: "Democrats' fear: 2020 race killing chances to win Senate" (Axios)
O'Rourke plans new strategy: "In a tacit recognition that [his current] approach isn’t working, O’Rourke is planning to try again, taking a hands-on role in staging a 'reintroduction' ahead of next month’s premier Democratic presidential debate. As he finalizes his plans, O’Rourke has entered an intentional 'quiet period' to build out campaign infrastructure, according to an adviser who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the campaign’s strategy.
..."O’Rourke plans to step up his national media appearances after skipping most of that kind of exposure in recent months. He is scheduled to appear on MSNBC’s 'Rachel Maddow Show' on Monday night and ABC’s 'The View' the next day."(Associated Press)
Biden-Harris?: "The Congressional Black Caucus may have found an answer to its Joe Biden dilemma: Vice President Kamala Harris."
..."Harris is everything the 76-year-old Biden is not. The freshman senator from California is younger, a woman and a person of color. As Biden gets dinged for his bipartisan bromides, Harris is winning applause from progressives for her merciless cross-examination of Trump officials." (Politico)
U.S.-China trade talks: "China has invited U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to Beijing to continue trade negotiations, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said [in an interview on 'Fox News Sunday.']"
..."The U.S. raised punitive tariffs to 25%, from 10%, on $200 billion of Chinese imports, starting Friday. Mr. Trump also ordered staff to begin the paperwork to impose levies on the more than $300 billion of everything else China sells to the U.S."
"Mr. Kudlow acknowledged Sunday that Americans, not the Chinese, pay the tariffs, contradicting Mr. Trump’s assertion that China pays." (Wall Street Journal)
Oversight wars: "President Trump and his allies are working to block more than 20 separate investigations by Democrats into his actions as president, his personal finances and his administration’s policies, according to a Washington Post analysis, amounting to what many experts call the most expansive White House obstruction effort in decades."
"Trump’s noncooperation strategy has shifted from partial resistance to all-out war as he faces mounting inquiries from the Democratic-controlled House — a strategy that many legal and congressional experts fear could undermine the institutional power of Congress for years to come. All told, House Democrats say the Trump administration has failed to respond to or comply with at least 79 requests for documents or other information." (Washington Post)
Trump vs. McGahn: "President Donald Trump lashed out at Don McGahn on Saturday, tweeting that he was 'Never a big fan' of the former White House counsel amid an ongoing battle between House Democrats and the administration over documents and testimony related to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation."
..."The broadside follows a Friday report by The Wall Street Journal that McGahn rebuffed a request from the White House last month to publicly state that he did not believe the president obstructed justice when Trump ordered McGahn to seek Mueller’s firing in June 2017." (Politico)
Financial crisis in the offing: "The US government is hurtling toward a potential financial crisis, and no one in Washington seems to know how to stop it."
"As lawmakers trade fire over contempt votes and impeachment, there's been no progress toward reaching a budget agreement or extending the federal government's ability to borrow before September, when the money runs out. That's raising the ugly prospect of more than $100 billion in mandatory cuts as well as an unprecedented default on US debt -- a situation that could trigger a worldwide economic catastrophe." (CNN)
White House schedule
--- At 11:30 a.m., President Trump receives his intelligence briefing. At 12:15 p.m., he signs an executive order on the economic empowerment of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. At 12:30 p.m., he has lunch with Vice President Mike Pence.
At 2 p.m., the president participates in the arrival of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán of Hungary. At 2:05 p.m., Trump and Orbán participate in a bilteral meeting. At 2:20 p.m., the two leaders participate in an expanded bilateral meeting. At 2:50 p.m., Trump participates in Orbán's departure.
Trump and Orbán "will discuss ways to deepen cooperation on a range of issues, including trade, energy, and cyber security," the White House said in a statement. Per the New York Times, this will be the far-right Hungarian prime minister's first private audience with a president at the White House since 1998. "His welcome at the White House is seen by Mr. Trump’s critics as emblematic of the president’s preference for strongman leaders who seek to undermine the liberal international order," according to the Times.
At 8:30 p.m., Trump participates in a White House Iftar dinner, continuing a tradition that dates back to 1805.
--- The Senate convenes at 3 p.m. today. At 5:30 p.m., the chamber will hold a cloture vote on the nomination of Michael J. Truncale to be a U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Texas.
--- No votes are expected in the House today.
Supreme Court schedule
--- The Supreme Court will release orders from the justices' Thursday conference at 9:30 a.m. There is a possibility that opinions will be released at 10 a.m.
--- Former Vice President Joe Biden visits New Hampshire, holding campaign stops in Hampton (with state Reps. Mike Edgar and Tom Loughman) and Manchester (with former Gov. John Lynch and state Senate President Donna Soucy).
--- Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) holds an event in Concord, New Hampshire.
--- Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) holds the first fundraiser of his campaign in New York, New York.
--- Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) participates in an American Federation of Teachers (AFT) town hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
--- Spiritual author Marianne Williamson holds a town hall in Detroit, Michigan.
--- In Thursday's newsletter, I erroneously stated the location of the R & J Johnson Farms, which Vice President Mike Pence visited that day. The farm is located in Glyndon, Minnesota. Thanks to Stevie Larson for the correction!
*All times Eastern