Wake Up To Politics - May 14, 2018
I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Monday, May 14, 2018. 176 days until Election Day 2018. 904 days until Election Day 2020. Have comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at email@example.com.
Happening today: U.S. embassy opens in Jerusalem
The new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem will open today, a symbolic move from Tel Aviv that follows President Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel last year, one of his key foreign policy decisions since taking office.
--- Breaking: Thousands of Palestinians have converged at the fenced border between Gaza and Israel ahead of the embassy opening. According to Gaza's Health Ministry, at least 28 protestors have been killed by Israeli army fire today, making this the deadliest day since the series of border protests known as the "March of Return" began in late March.
--- Who's there: The presidential delegation to attend the opening of the interim embassy is being led by Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan. Also on the delegation: U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman; Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin; White House advisers Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, the president's daughter and son-in-law; and Jason Greenblatt, Trump's Special Representative for International Negotiations.
A congressional delegation consisting of Republican Sens. Ted Cruz (TX), Lindsey Graham (SC), Dean Heller (NV), and Mike Lee (UT) is also on hand.
--- This day in history: Today marks the 70th anniversary of Israel's declaration of independence, followed by President Harry Truman's formal recognition of the Israeli government 11 minutes later.
--- TV exec-in-chief: President Trump tweets at 6:54 Eastern Time this morning... "U.S. Embassy opening in Jerusalem will be covered live on @FoxNews & @FoxBusiness. Lead up to 9:00 A.M. (eastern) event has already begun. A great day for Israel!"
No White House apology for aide's comment mocking McCain
The controversy surrounding White House communications official Kelly Sadler continues, as the aide has yet to apologize for her remark about Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) in an internal meeting — that his opposition to CIA Director Gina Haspel "doesn't matter" because "he's dying anyway" — which was first reported by The Hill and later confirmed by a number of other news outlets.
The White House has so far neither confirmed nor denied the reported comments, issuing a written statement: "We respect Senator McCain's service to our nation, and he and his family are in our prayers during this difficult time." White House press secretary Sarah Sanders declined to apologize for the remark in her Friday press briefing, as did national security adviser John Bolton on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday. Bolton praised McCain and said he would "never forget" the Arizonan's support for him during a 2005 confirmation battle, but asked if he would apologize for Sadler's comment, Bolton replied: "I've said what I'm going to say."
Meghan McCain, the senator's daughter, told ABC News on Sunday that in a phone call to her last week, Sadler said that she would publicly apologize. "I have not spoken to her since and I assume that it will never come," the younger McCain said.
A number of Republican lawmakers have also called on Sadler to apologize. Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) tweeted Sunday that she should "show some respect and apologize," adding that making light of McCain's health "especially in the senseless and classless manner that’s been described in the media – is simply sad and speaks more broadly to the low levels of civil discourse & respect that have infected our politics on both sides of the aisle."
Sen. McCain, 81, has been battling brain cancer since his diagnosis in July.
--- The Sadler flap has also re-ignited internal angst about leaks inside the White House. After the initial comment leaked, details of a White House meeting in which Sarah Sanders lambasted colleagues for leakers, leaked to Axios. "I am sure this conversation is going to leak, too. And that's just disgusting," Sanders reportedly said, correctly, at the meeting.
And then, a made-for-the-Trump-era headline in Axios on Sunday: "White House leakers leak about leaking," anonymous interviews with "some of the Trump administration’s most prolific leakers" about why they talk to reporters.
Trump reversal on Chinese phonemaker
Via the Wall Street Journal...
"President Donald Trump said he was working with Chinese President Xi Jinping to keep ZTE Corp. in business, throwing an extraordinary lifeline to the Chinese telecommunication giant that has been laid low by U.S. moves to cut off its suppliers."
"The surprise intervention comes less than a month after ZTE was hit with an order banning U.S. companies from selling components to the Chinese business. The U.S. Commerce Department directed companies to stop exporting to ZTE in mid-April, saying the Chinese firm violated the terms of a settlement resolving evasion of U.S. sanctions against Iran and North Korea."
"The Commerce Department is reviewing ZTE’s request for a stay of that order."
"Mr. Trump said in a tweet that he is working with Mr. Xi to get ZTE 'a way to get back into business, fast. Too many jobs in China lost.' He said the Commerce Department has been instructed to 'get it done!'"
"‘Buckle up’: As Mueller probe enters second year, Trump and allies go on war footing" (Washington Post)
--- "The Mueller operation, like the former Marine Corps platoon commander who leads it, is secretive and methodical. Ten blocks west in the White House, President Trump combats the probe with bluster, disarray and defiance as he scrambles for survival." The one-year anniversary of special counsel Robert Mueller's appointment is Thursday.
"How The Congressional Baseball Shooting Didn't Become The Deadliest Political Assassination In American History" (BuzzFeed).
--- "You may love them, or you may disagree almost everything they stand for, but that morning, the roughly two dozen people on that field [during the baseball practice shooting that involved Republican members of Congress] just tried to stay alive. Those nine minutes were a near miss of modern American history, between the dark aftermath of a deadly, mass political assassination and our own reality, in which most people don’t think very often about June 14, 2017, the difference between everything changing, and almost nothing changing at all."
"Donald Trump and Sean Hannity Like to Talk Before Bedtime" (New York Magazine)
--- "On the phone, [Fox News host Sean Hannity] and the president alternate between the 'witch hunt!' and gabbing like old girlfriends about media gossip and whose show sucks and who’s getting killed in the ratings and who’s winning (Hannity, and therefore Trump) and sports and Kanye West..."
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Today in Washington
--- President Donald Trump has no public events on his schedule today. At 11am, he receives his daily intelligence briefing. At 12pm, he has lunch with Vice President Mike Pence.
--- At 7pm, Vice President Mike Pence will deliver remarks at a celebration marking Israel's 70th Independence Day.
--- The Senate convenes at 3pm today. The chamber will continue its confirmation spree of President Trump's appellate court nominees, voting on the nominations of Michael Scudder and Amy St. Eve to be U.S. Circuit Judges for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. If both are approved, the Senate will have greenlighted 19 circuit court judges nominated by Trump; two more are expected to be confirmed tomorrow.
--- No votes are expected in the House today.
*All times Eastern