Wake Up To Politics - May 17, 2019
I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Friday, May 17, 2019. 262 days until the 2020 Iowa caucuses. 536 days until Election Day 2020. Have comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at email@example.com.
New filing details Flynn's cooperation with Mueller probe
As part of his guilty plea, former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn assisted special counsel Robert Mueller in his investigations into Trump campaign's ties to WikiLeaks and into potential obstruction of justice, a court filing made public on Thursday revealed.
"The defendant informed the government of multiple instances, both before and after his guilty plea, where either he or his attorneys received communications from persons connected to the [Trump] Administration or Congress that could’ve affected both his willingness to cooperate and the completeness of that cooperation," the filing said, referring to evidence Flynn offered in the obstruction probe. "The defendant even provided a voicemail recording of one such communication."
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan ordered the Justice Department to publicly release the transcript of the voicemail, which could be the message (referred to in the Mueller report) left by one of President Trump's lawyers to an attorney for Flynn addressing Flynn's possible cooperation with prosecutors in the days before he pleaded guilty. Sullivan also ordered the release of a transcript of Flynn's December 2017 phone call with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, which he later pleaded guilty to lying about to the FBI, as well as a new version of the special counsel's report with any redactions related to Flynn removed. All of these disclosures must be made by the end of the month, Sullivan ordered.
The allusion to a person "connected to ... Congress" in the Thursday filing is "believed to mark the first public acknowledgment that a person connected to Capitol Hill was suspected of engaging in an attempt to impede the investigation into Russian election interference," according to NBC News, although it remains unknown who the person was.
Flynn also assisted Mueller's WikiLeaks probe, the court filing said, telling prosecutors about "conversations with senior campaign officials after the release of the [John] Podesta emails, during which the prospect of reaching out to WikiLeaks was discussed."
--- From the archives: "It is time to buckle down, and listen up, and stand ready to fight for our way of life and our traditions. ... I will never stop fighting." — Michael Flynn in a September 2018 speech in St. Louis, one of his few public addresses since pleading guilty in the Mueller probe. (Read the Wake Up To Politics report from the speech)
--- Special counsel Mueller's testimony before the House Judiciary Committee "has been stalled partly due to discussions on whether the White House’s assertion of executive privilege would limit his testimony," the Wall Street Journal reports. On Attorney General William Barr's recommendation, the White House asserted executive privilege over the unredacted parts of the Mueller report last week, in response to a Judiciary Committee subpoena. But Barr has denied that he is blocking Mueller from testifying before the panel, telling the Journal: "It's Bob's call whether he wants to testify."
Polling roundup: A new poll released by Fox News shows former Vice President Joe Biden remains well ahead of his competitors in the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. In the poll, Biden was supported by 35% of the Democratic electorate (up from 31% in the network's March poll), while Sen. Bernie Sanders took 17% (down from 23%). They were followed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren at 9%, Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 6%, Sen. Kamala Harris at 5%, and former Rep. Beto O'Rourke at 4%. Harris and O'Rourke dropped three percentage points and four percentage points, respectively, from March; both Warren and Buttigieg gained five percentage points.
The policy primary: After weeks of criticism over his lean policy offerings, Buttigieg unveiled 27 new policy proposals on Thursday, backing a nationwide gun licensing system, a $15 minimum wage, the Green New Deal, and abolition of the Electoral College, among other stances.
--- Continuing her series of detailed policy rollouts, Warren released a plan on Thursday to reduce corporate influence at the Pentagon, which would prohibit defense contractors from hiring former Defense Department officials for four years after they leave the government.
--- Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA) released an "Evergreen Economy Plan," a $9 trillion proposal aimed at creating eight million "green jobs" over 10 years.
Iran: "President Trump has sought to put the brakes on a brewing confrontation with Iran in recent days, telling the acting defense secretary, Patrick Shanahan, that he does not want to go to war with Iran, administration officials said, while his senior diplomats began searching for ways to defuse the tensions." (New York Times)
--- The backstory: "Intelligence Suggests U.S., Iran Misread Each Other, Stoking Tensions" (Wall Street Journal)
Trump's financial disclosure: President Donald Trump reported income of at least $434 million in 2018, according to his annual financial disclosure released Thursday by the White House. That includes $40.8 million in revenue from his Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC, just blocks from the White House." (CNN)
Border wall design: "At a moment when the White House is diverting billions of dollars in military funds to fast-track construction, the president is micromanaging the [border wall] project down to the smallest design details. But Trump’s frequently shifting instructions and suggestions have left engineers and aides confused, according to current and former administration officials." (Washington Post)
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White House schedule
--- At 2 p.m., President Trump delivers remarks at the National Association of REALTORS Legislative Meetings and Trade Expo at a hotel in Washington, D.C.
--- At 11:30 a.m., Vice President Mike Pence meets with Purdue University honors students at his ceremonial office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.
--- The Senate is not in session today.
--- The House convenes at 9 a.m. The chamber will consider H.R. 5, the Equality Act, which would "prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation."
Supreme Court schedule
--- The Supreme Court does not have any oral arguments or conferences scheduled today.
--- Gov. Steve Bullock (D-IA) will tour Iowa with the state's attorney general Tom Miller. At 9 a.m., the duo will host a meet and greet in Newton, followed by a tour of a tribal community in Tama, and meet and greets in Independence and Dubuque.
--- South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg travels to Iowa today. He will attend a house party in Adel and participate in the "2020 Book Club" in Des Moines.
--- Former HUD Secretary Julián Castro holds a town hall at Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, California.
--- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio travels to Iowa today. He will tour a biorefining ethanol facility in Gowrie with former Agriculture Secretary (and ex-Iowa governor) Tom Vilsack, meet with small family farmers in Churdan, participate in a mental health & substance misuse roundtable discussion in Des Moines with the city's mayor Frank Cownie, and deliver remarks at a fundraiser in Sioux City.
--- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) travels to North Carolina today. He will hold rallies in Asheville and Charlotte.
*All times Eastern