5 min read

Wake Up To Politics - May 3, 2019

I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Friday, May 3, 2019. 276 days until the 2020 Iowa caucuses. 550 days until Election Day 2020. Have comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at gabe@wakeuptopolitics.com.

Democrats mull action against Barr

Attorney General William Barr's refusal to appear at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Thursday has only escalated tensions between Congress and the Trump administration, with Democratic lawmakers now mulling what steps they may take now to punish Barr.

"All options are on the table," Judiciary Committee member Ted Lieu (D-CA) told Politico.

Barr's decision not to appear at the Thursday hearing — which stemmed from a dispute with chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) over whether staff attorneys would be able to question the attorney general — came one day after the Justice Department missed a House-imposed deadline to hand over special counsel Robert Mueller's full, unredacted report.

Nadler has told reporters that he plans to give Barr "one or two more days" to comply with his panel's requests before moving forward with holding the attorney general in contempt of Congress. If the Judiciary Committee votes on a contempt citation against Barr, and then it is approved by the full House, the matter would be referred to the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia. If the U.S. attorney declines to prosecute, House Democrats could then sue Attorney General Barr in civil court, which would likely lead to a lengthy legal battle.

A similar process ensued in 2012 when the Republican-led House sued Attorney General Eric Holder over documents related to the "Fast and Furious" investigation, after voting to hold Holder in contempt of Congress.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Thursday accused Barr of committing perjury in congressional testimony last month. "He lied to Congress... That's a crime," she said, referring to Barr's testimony before the House Appropriations Committee that he was not aware of concerns from "members of the special counsel's team" about his four-page letter to Congress summarizing the Mueller probe's findings.

(It has since been revealed that prior to that testimony, Barr had received a letter from Mueller objecting to his summary and spoken on the phone with the special counsel. The attorney general told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that his answer was truthful because he "talked directly to Bob Mueller, not members of his team.")

President Trump defended Barr in a Fox News interview on Thursday, objecting to continued investigations led by congressional Democrats. "They've testified for many hours, all of them," he said, referring to his administration officials. "Nobody has ever done what I've done. I've given total transparency. It's never happened before like this. [Congressional Democrats] shouldn't be looking anymore. It's done."

--- Recommended read: "Trump finds in Barr the attorney general — and shield — he long sought" (Washington Post)

The Rundown

Moore withdrawal: "Stephen Moore, President Trump’s planned nominee for a seat on the Federal Reserve Board, on Thursday abandoned his bid to join the powerful U.S. central bank, the second presidential favorite to bow out in the face of Republican opposition."

..."A growing number of Republican senators said they had serious problems with Moore over his questionable writings, and the White House, which said Monday that it was reviewing those writings, never formally submitted his nomination." (Washington Post)

Baltimore mayor resigns: "Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh resigned Thursday, apologizing for the harm she has caused to the city’s image amid a growing scandal over her sales of a self-published children’s book series."

"It was the latest blow to the leadership of a city that’s seen two mayors resign in scandal in less than a decade and a third one decline to seek another term after a riot over police misconduct and a soaring murder rate." (Baltimore Sun)

"Spying" on the Trump campaign?: "The conversation at a London bar in September 2016 took a strange turn when the woman sitting across from George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign adviser, asked a direct question: Was the Trump campaign working with Russia?"

"The woman had set up the meeting to discuss foreign policy issues. But she was actually a government investigator posing as a research assistant, according to people familiar with the operation. The F.B.I. sent her to London as part of the counterintelligence inquiry opened that summer to better understand the Trump campaign’s links to Russia." (New York Times)

Do you like Wake Up To Politics? Share it with your colleagues, friends, and family! Please forward this newsletter to them and tell them to sign up at wakeuptopolitics.com/subscribe!

White House schedule

--- At 12:30 p.m., President Trump has lunch with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. At 1:50 p.m., the president meets with Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini of Slovakia. At 2:05 p.m., the president and prime minister participate in an expanded bilateral meeting. According to the White House, Trump and Pellegrini "will discuss recent, positive gains in bilateral security cooperation as well as our shared concerns on cyber threats and the importance of energy security."

--- At 1:05 p.m., Vice President Mike Pence visits Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church in Opelousas, Louisana, and meets with community leaders and parishioners impacted by recent acts of arson at black churches in the state. He will then travel to Lexington, Kentucky, where he will tour Hallway Feeds, a family-owned full-service feed company, at 6:10 p.m., and deliver remarks to Hallway Feeds employees about the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) at 6:35 p.m. Finally, at 8:10 p.m., the vice president participates in the Governor's Derby Ball in Frankfort, Kentucky.

Congress schedule

Neither chamber of Congress is in session today.

Supreme Court schedule

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

2020 schedules

--- South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks at a Dallas County Democratic Party dinner in Dallas, Texas.

--- Former HUD Secretary Julián Castro delivers the keynote address at the Fresno County Democratic Central Committee's annual fundraising dinner in Fresno, California.

--- Former Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-CO) visits New Hampshire, speaking at a Salem Democratic Party "coffee chat" in Salem, delivering an economic policy address at St. Anselm College in Goffstown, and meeting with Stonyfield Farm employees in Londonderry.

--- Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA) rolls out his "100% clean energy" plan at an event in Los Angeles, California, joined by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and SEIU Local 99 president Conrado Guerrero.

--- Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) gives remarks at the National Organization of Black County Officials (NOBCO) Economic Development Conference in Detroit, Michigan.

--- Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) holds a town hall in Fort Worth, Texas.

--- Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) visits Iowa, delivering a keynote address at a Dubuque County Law Day event in Dubuque, attending a house party in Bellevue, and speaking at the Clinton County Democratic Party's "Hall of Fame dinner" in Clinton.

--- Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) visits Iowa, holding an organizing event at Iowa State University in Ames and a house party in Iowa Falls.

--- Spiritual author Marianne Williamson addresses the  Clinton County Democratic Party's "Hall of Fame dinner" in Clinton, Iowa.

--- Entrepreneur Andrew Yang holds a rally in Seattle, Washington.

*All times Eastern