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Wake Up To Politics - May 20, 2019

I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Monday, May 20, 2019. 259 days until the 2020 Iowa caucuses. 533 days until Election Day 2020. Have comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at gabe@wakeuptopolitics.com.

Michigan's Amash becomes first GOP lawmaker to call for Trump impeachment

Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) broke with his party on Saturday, becoming the first Republican member of Congress to publicly call for President Donald Trump's impeachment.

"President Trump has engaged in impeachable conduct," Amash declared in a 13-part tweetstorm detailing his conclusions after reading special counsel Robert Mueller's redacted report, which he said Attorney General William Barr "deliberately misrepresented." Amash added: "Contrary to Barr's portrayal, Mueller's report reveals that President Trump engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meets the threshold for impeachment."

"In fact," he continued, "Mueller’s report identifies multiple examples of conduct satisfying all the elements of obstruction of justice, and undoubtedly any person who is not the president of the United States would be indicted based on such evidence."

Amash, who has represented Grand Rapids in Congress since 2011, was ranked as the 12th most conservative member of Congress by Conservative Review last year. He has long been a vocal critic of President Trump, whom he declined to support in 2016; Amash was one of the 13 House Republicans to join a Democratic effort to block the president's southern border national emergency declaration earlier this year. He told local newspaper MLive last month that he was considering challenging Trump in 2020 as a Libertarian Party candidate.

In calling for the House to move forward with impeachment proceedings, Amash went further than many congressional Democrats have gone on the matter. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has said impeachment is "just not worth it," and urged Democratic lawmakers to focus on the 2020 elections instead. According to the Washington Post, the Democratic caucus has mostly fallen behind her, despite some early calls from rank-and-file members to initiate the impeachment process.

President Trump returned the Twitter fire at Amash on Sunday, referring to the Michigan congressman as a "loser" and a "total lightweight who opposes me and some of our great Republican ideas and policies just for the sake of getting his name out there through controversy."

Despite Amash's tweets, the leadership of the Republican Party remains firmly in Trump's corner. Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel attacked Amash in a statement, accusing him of "parroting the Democrats' talking points on Russia." Even fellow Trump critics have refused to go as far as Amash: Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) called the congressman's comments "courageous" in a CNN interview on Sunday, but said that Amash "has reached a different conclusion than I have" on impeachment.

2020 Central

--- Joe Biden held his campaign launch rally in Philadelphia on Saturday, focusing on a message of unity and bipartisanship. "They say Democrats are so angry, the angrier a candidate can be, the better chance he or she has to win the Democratic nomination," Biden said. "Well, I don’t believe it, I really don’t."

"If the American people want a president to add to our division, lead with a clenched fist, closed hand, a hard heart, to demonize the opponents and spew hatred — they don’t need me," he added. "They’ve got President Donald Trump. Folks, I am running to offer our country — Democrats, Republicans, and independents — a different path. Not back to a path that never was, but to a future that fulfills our true potential as a country."

--- Pete Buttigieg became the third Democratic presidential candidate to participate in a Fox News town hall on Sunday, joining Bernie Sanders and Amy Klobuchar. The decision of whether to appear on President Trump's favorite network has divided the 2020 field, with Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris refusing town hall invitations. Buttigieg used the opportunity to criticize the network's primetime anchors and call the president's rhetoric "grotesque." He also detailed his position on abortion, opposing governmental limits to ending a pregnancy at any stage.

--- Kamala Harris rolled out a plan to close the gender pay gap this morning. Harris' proposal would "require corporations to demonstrate they are not engaging in pay discrimination and fine companies that fail to close their pay gaps," according to her campaign, which promised the plan would be "the most aggressive effort to enforce pay equity in history."

--- Bernie Sanders unveiled a comprehensive education plan on Saturday, calling for an end to public funding of for-profit charter school and a moratorium on the creation of new charter schools. Sanders' plan would also set a starting salary of $60,000 for teachers and guarantee free school meals for all students.

--- Recommended read: "Nos. 44 and 45 broke the mold. What does that mean for the future of the presidency?" (Washington Post)

The Trump Administration

--- President Trump is preparing to soon release his long-awaited Middle East peace plan, which the president's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner has spent more than two years drafting. The White House announced the first stage of the peace plan rollout on Sunday, previewing an "economic workshop" with leaders from across the globe to take place in Bahrain on June 25 and 26. According to the New York Times, "the idea [behind the conferene] is to secure financial commitments from wealthy Persian Gulf states as well as donors in Europe and Asia to induce the Palestinians and their allies to make political concessions to resolve the decades-old conflict with Israel." CNN also reported early details of the forthcoming plan, which is expected to have four major components: "infrastructure, industry, empowering and investing in people, and governance reforms."

--- The Trump administration continued to rachet up its rhetoric toward Iran this weekend. "If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran," President Trump tweeted on Sunday. "Never threaten the United States again!" The tweet came as tensions between the two countries are rising, with both the U.S. and Iran preparing for a possible military attack from the other.

--- "Anti-money-laundering specialists at Deutsche Bank recommended in 2016 and 2017 that multiple transactions involving legal entities controlled by Donald J. Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, be reported to a federal financial-crimes watchdog," the New York Times reported on Sunday. President Trump called the report "phony" in a series of tweets this morning.

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White House schedule

--- At 12 p.m., President Trump receives his daily intelligence briefing. The president will then depart for Montoursville, Pennsylvania, where he will headline a "Make America Great Again" rally at 7 p.m.

Related: "Trump scrambles to reverse Rust Belt slide" (Politico)

--- Vice President Mike Pence travels to Jacksonville, Florida, today. At 12:25 p.m., Pence delivers remarks at an event on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement hosted by America First Policies. At 2:15 p.m., he tours the P-8 aircraft at Naval Air Station Jacksonville. At 2:50 p.m., he delivers remarks to U.S. service members at the base.

Congress schedule

--- The Senate convenes at 3 p.m. today. At 5:30 p.m., the chamber will hold a cloture vote on the nomination of Daniel P. Collins to be a U.S. Circuit Judge for the Ninth Circuit.

--- The House convenes at 12 p.m. today. The chamber is scheduled to consider seven pieces of legislation:

  1. H.R. 2116 – Global Fragility Act
  2. H.R. 615 – Refugee Sanitation Facility Safety Act of 2019
  3. H.R. 1359 – Digital Global Access Policy Act of 2019
  4. H.R. 1952 – Intercountry Adoption Information Act of 2019, as amended
  5. H.R. 753 – Global Electoral Exchange Act of 2019
  6. H.Res. 106 – Denouncing female genital mutilation/cutting as a violation of the human rights of women and girls and urging the international community and the Federal Government to increase efforts to eliminate the harmful practice
  7. H.R. 2480 – Stronger Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, as amended

Supreme Court schedule

--- The Supreme Court justices will release orders from their Thursday conference at 9:30 a.m. today. There is a possibility of opinions being released at 10 a.m.

2020 schedules

--- Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) holds a discussion on his new climate change plan at  Des Moines Area Community College in Ankeny, Iowa.

--- Former Vice President Joe Biden attends fundraisers in Nashville, Tennessee, and Miami, Florida.

--- Former Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-CO) delivers an address on American foreign policy at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs in Chicago, Illinois.

--- Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) tours recent flood damage in Davenport, Iowa, and holds a town hall in the city.

--- Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) visits Iowa today, holding meet and greets in Carroll, Denison, Logan, and Council Bluffs.

--- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) holds a town hall in Montgomery, Alabama.

--- Rep. Eric Swalwell visits Iowa today, holding meet and greets in Muscatine and Burlington and a town hall on gun violence with Parkland activist Cameron Kasky in Fairfield.

--- Spiritual author Marianne Williamson holds a town hall in Washington, D.C.

*All times Eastern