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Wake Up To Politics - May 24, 2019

I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Friday, May 24, 2019. 255 days until the 2020 Iowa caucuses. 529 days until Election Day 2020. Have comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at gabe@wakeuptopolitics.com.

All the latest news from Washington is below... but first a note from me:

From the Editor's Desk

Hi all —

First off, thank you for reading Wake Up To Politics. It means so much to me that so many people trust me to report the news to them, and it's a great honor and privilege (and a lot of fun) to be able to write this newsletter each morning. I'm really grateful, and I'm excited for what the future has to bring.

But longtime readers of mine will recognize what's coming: next week, I'll be taking my final exams, and then I'm off to summer camp in the Northwoods of Minnesota, where I'll be a counselor this summer. And so that means this will be the last edition of the newsletter until August. While I will, of course, miss writing WUTP, I am looking forward to the opportunity to unplug and refresh over the next two months. I appreciate your understanding, especially those of you who just recently subscribed.  

I promise: when I return, Wake Up To Politics will be back and better than ever. I can't wait to jump back into covering the 2020 elections and the rest of the political scene in earnest this fall, plus I hope to have even more exciting projects (hint: a podcast) coming soon!

Thank you, and have a great summer!
Gabe Fleisher

P.S. There will hopefully be one more special edition of WUTP coming before I leave for camp. Stay tuned...

Trump and Pelosi continue back-and-forth, with impeachment question hanging in the balance

President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) continued to go after each other on Thursday in increasingly personal terms, as pressure bears down on latter to move forward with impeachment proceedings against the former.

"She's a mess. She's lost it," the president said of the speaker on Thursday, at an event which was intended to focus on a $16 billion aid package for farmers hurt by the trade war with China but quickly devolved into an extended defense of Trump's conduct at a Wednesday infrastructure meeting with Democratic leaders, when he walked out after three minutes. Trump derisively labeled Pelosi as "Crazy Nancy," while reviving an old favorite to describe himself: "I'm an extremely stable genius." He then enlisted a series of White House aides to confirm his account of the infrastructure meeting.

"Very calm," one of them, presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway, asserted. "No temper tantrum." (Pelosi had told reporters after the meeting that Trump had "another temper tantrum," haranguing Democrats about their ongoing investigations into his administration before storming out.)

Pelosi, for her part, promptly responded to the attacks on Twitter: "When the 'extremely stable genius' starts acting more presidential, I'll be happy to work with him on infrastructure, trade, and other issues." At a press conference, she questioned Trump's fitness to lead, urging one of his aides to "have an intervention for the good of the country."

According to NBC News, Pelosi also called Trump's actions blocking congressional investigations "villainous" at a closed-door meeting Thursday, and said that he "wants to be impeached" so that he can be cleared by the Republican-led Senate.

House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY), whose panel would initiate such a process, told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Thursday that he has "urged the speaker to speed things up and consider an impeachment inquiry." But Pelosi has held firm so far, reiterating at the press conference that her caucus is "not on a path to impeachment," despite the growing number of House Democrats who are splitting with her on the issue.

By Thursday night, Trump's antagonizing of Pelosi feud escalated even further, as he pinned atop his Twitter profile a video splicing together some of her verbal stumbles from the presser. "PELOSI STAMMERS THROUGH NEWS CONFERENCE," he declared.

The Rundown

Trump authorizes Barr to investigate Russia probe origins: "President Donald Trump on Thursday gave Attorney General William Barr 'full and complete authority' to declassify information related to his inquiry into investigations of the 2016 presidential election."

"The president, in a memorandum, directed U.S. intelligence agencies to cooperate with Barr’s review, which he has said would look into allegations by Trump and his allies that his campaign was spied upon and that various figures in the Justice Department and the FBI were trying to undermine him." (Bloomberg)

Senate passes disaster aid package: "The Senate on Thursday passed a long-delayed disaster relief package, a step toward ending a monthslong impasse that had prevented the release of billions of dollars in aid for farmers and communities struggling to recover from an onslaught of natural disasters over the last two years."

"Minutes after a tornado warning blared through the Capitol chambers, the Senate voted 85 to 8 to allocate $19.1 billion for recovery efforts across the country. While the package included $900 million for Puerto Rico that President Trump had objected to, it did not include funds for the southwestern border that the White House had pressed for." (New York Times)

Trump trying to steer border wall deal to North Dakota firm: "President Trump has personally and repeatedly urged the head of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to award a border wall contract to a North Dakota construction firm whose top executive is a GOP donor and frequent guest on Fox News, according to four administration officials." (Washington Post)

Breaking from across the pond this morning: "Theresa May announced Friday that she will step down as U.K. Conservative Party leader on June 7, admitting defeat in her attempt to take Britain out of the European Union and sparking a contest to become the country’s next prime minister." (Associated Press)

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White House schedule

--- President and First Lady Trump travel to Tokyo, Japan, today, ahead of a four-day state visit next week.

--- Vice President Mike Pence has no public events scheduled.

Congress schedule

--- Neither chamber of Congress is in session today.

Supreme Court schedule

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

2020 schedules

--- Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) visits Iowa today, holding house parties in Newton, Chariton, and Fairfield.

--- South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg visits New Hampshire today, holding a discussion with veterans in Londonderry and a "Meet Pete" event in Exeter.

--- Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand holds a meet and greet in Fort Dodge, Iowa.

--- Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA) visits Las Vegas, Nevada today, participating in the Global Youth Climate Strike and in a roundtable with Service Employees International Union (SEIU) workers.

--- Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) meets with community activists and gun violence experts in Baltimore, Maryland.

*All times Eastern