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Wake Up To Politics - May 14, 2019

I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Tuesday, May 14, 2019. 265 days until the 2020 Iowa caucuses. 539 days until Election Day 2020. Have comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at gabe@wakeuptopolitics.com.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock announces presidential campaign

Gov. Steve Bullock (D-MT) entered the crowded Democratic presidential primary field this morning, becoming the 23rd candidate in the race.

"I believe in an America where every child has a fair shot to do better than their parents. But we all know that kind of opportunity no longer exists for most people; for far too many, it never has," Bullock said in his announcement video. "We need to defeat Donald Trump in 2020 and defeat the corrupt system that lets campaign money drown out the people’s voice, so we can finally make good on the promise of a fair shot for everyone."

"This is the fight of our time. It's been the fight of my career," he continued. "I'm running for president and with your help, we will take our democracy back."

Bullock, 53, is expected to draw heavily on his status as the only Democratic presidential candidate to hail from a state that President Trump carried by more than 20 percentage points. He has been elected to statewide office in deep-red Montana three times: as attorney general in 2008, and as governor in 2012 and 2016.

According to the New York Times, "Bullock made his name in Montana as a pragmatist who was able to win Republican support for liberal priorities like expanding Medicaid while burnishing his local credentials by protecting public lands." He has also established himself as an aggressive advocate for campaign finance regulations, an issue that features prominently in his announcement video. "This is the fight of our time," he said in the video of the role in money in politics, "it's been the fight of my career."

Bullock will launch his presidential campaign at his alma mater, Helena High School, in Helena, Montana, at 3:30 p.m. today. Later this week, he will embark on a three-day swing through Iowa, the first-in-the-nation presidential caucus state. Bullock is expected to be backed by Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, one of the most powerful Democrats in the state. According to CNN, Bullock is also being boosted by an influential stable of outside advisers, including Jennifer Palmeri, who served as communications director in the Obama White House and for Hillary Clinton's 2016 bid; Nick Baldick, Al Gore's 2000 chief strategist and John Edwards' 2004 campaign manager; and Matt McKenna, Bill Clinton's former post-presidential spokesman.

According to a Wake Up To Politics analysis, Bullock has already received 1% support in at least three polls, qualifying him for the first two Democratic presidential debates.

Trade war escalates as China announces retaliatory tariffs

The trade dispute between the United States and China continued to escalate on Monday, as Beijing announced plans to impose tariffs on $60 billion worth of U.S. products, in response to President Trump's increase of tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods on Friday.

Trump has threatened to go even further, extending increased tariffs to all $540 billion in annual Chinese imports, which would likely raise prices for products such as "cell phones, sunglasses, cameras, and televisions," according to the Washington Post. The Chinese tariff increase will tax American imports such as "beer, wine, swimsuits, shirts, and liquefied natural gas," per the New York Times.

"You never really know right?" Trump said Monday of the outcome of his tariffs ploy. "But I have a feeling it's going to be very successful."

He also announced plans to meet with Chinese president Xi Jinping at the G-20 summit in Japan next month. "When the time is right we will make a deal with China," Trump said in one of his 12 tweets about the trade dispute on Monday. "My respect and friendship with President Xi is unlimited but, as I have told him many times before, this must be a great deal for the United States or it just doesn’t make any sense."

"China does not want or wish for a trade war, but it is by no means afraid of one," Geng Shuang, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, responded. "If someone brings the war to our doorstep, we will fight it to the end," he added.

The effects of the tensions between the world's two largest economies could be seen in the global stock market slump throughout Monday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (which dropped 617 points, or 2.4%) and the S&P 500 (which dropped 70 points, also a plunge of 2.4%) both posting their biggest one-day losses since January.

The Rundown

IMMIGRATION: "In the weeks before they were ousted last month, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and top immigration enforcement official Ronald Vitiello challenged a secret White House plan to arrest thousands of parents and children in a blitz operation against migrants in 10 major U.S. cities." (Washington Post)

--- "The Trump administration is considering deporting migrant families with court-ordered removals, a move that senior Department of Homeland Security officials have resisted in the past, multiple officials tell CNN." (CNN)

IRAN: "At a meeting of President Trump’s top national security aides last Thursday, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan presented an updated military plan that envisions sending as many as 120,000 troops to the Middle East should Iran attack American forces or accelerate work on nuclear weapons, administration officials said." (New York Times)

OVERSIGHT WARS: "President Donald Trump’s strategy of outright resistance to House subpoenas will face its first test in federal court on Tuesday, setting up a ruling that could boost Democrats’ efforts to investigate the president’s business dealings."

"U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta is set to rule on the Democrat-led House Oversight and Reform Committee’s subpoena to accounting firm Mazars USA for eight years of Trump’s financial records. The committee’s demand is part of its investigation into alleged financial crimes committed by Trump." (Politico)

--- "Trump Jr. subpoena could force GOP loyalty test" (Politico)

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White House schedule

--- President Trump travels to Lousiana. At 2:10 p.m., he delivers remarks on "promoting infrastructure and economic growth" at Sempra Energy's Cameron LNG Export Facility in Hackberry. At 5:35 p.m., he participates in a roundtable with supporters at a private residence in Metairie, followed by a joint fundraising committee reception there at 6:05 p.m.

--- At 11:30 a.m., Vice President Mike Pence participates in a call with President-elect Laurentino Cortizo of Panama from his West Wing office. At 1 p.m., he participates in the weekly Senate Republican Policy Lunch at the U.S. Capitol. At 7:15 p.m., he attends the reception and premiere screening of Apollo 11: First Steps Edition at the National Air and Space Museum.

Congress schedule

--- The Senate convenes at 10 a.m. today. At 10:45 a.m., the chamber will vote on confirmation of Michael J. Truncale to be a U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Texas, followed by a cloture vote on the nomination of Kenneth Kiyul Lee to be a U.S. Circuit Judge for the Ninth Circuit. The Senate will recess from 12:30 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. for weekly caucus meetings. At 2:15 p.m., the official photograph of the 116th Congress will be taken on the Senate floor.

--- The House convenes at 12 p.m. today. The chamber is scheduled to vote on 13 pieces of legislation:

  1. H.R. 299 –  Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019, as amended
  2. H.R. 2379 – To reauthorize the Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Program, as amended
  3. H.R. 1999 – FLAG Act of 2019
  4. H.R. 1594 – First Responder Access to Innovative Technologies Act
  5. H.R. 1313 – Transit Security Grant Program Flexibility Act, as amended
  6. H.R. 1437 – Securing Department of Homeland Security Firearms Act of 2019
  7. H.R. 1912 – DHS Acquisition Documentation Integrity Act of 2019
  8. H.R. 1892 – Quadrennial Homeland Security Review Technical Corrections Act of 2019
  9. H.R. 2066 – DHS Intelligence Rotational Assignment Program of 2019
  10. H.R. 2578 – National Flood Insurance Program Extension Act of 2019
  11. H.R. 389 – Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Rewards Act, as amended
  12. H.R. 1060 – BUILD Act, as amended
  13. H.R. 1037 – Banking Transparency for Sanctioned Persons Act of 2019

Supreme Court schedule

The Supreme Court does not have any conferences or oral arguments scheduled today.

--- "Justice Breyer's warning and other things we learned at the Supreme Court Monday" (CNN)

2020 schedules

--- Former Vice President Joe Biden holds a house party hosted by former state Sen. Bette Lasky in Nashua, New Hampshire.

--- Gov. Steve Bullock (D-MT) launches his presidential campaign with an event at his alma mater, Helena High School, in Helena, Montana. He will be joined by current and former HHS students and teachers.

--- Spiritual author Marianne Willaimson holds an event in Anderson, South Carolina.

--- Entrepreneur Andrew Yang holds a rally in New York, New York.


Monday's newsletter included an excerpt of an Atlantic piece on Montana governor Steve Bullock that incorrectly referred to Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller as the Hawkeye State's only Democratic statewide elected official. That piece has since been corrected; State Auditor Rob Sand and State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald are also Democrats. Thank you to the Wake Up To Politics subscribers who caught the error!

*All times Eastern