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Wake Up To Politics - May 7, 2019

I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Tuesday, May 7, 2019. 272 days until the 2020 Iowa caucuses. 546 days until Election Day 2020. Have comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at gabe@wakeuptopolitics.com.

The latest: Congress vs. the White House

--- Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told the House Ways and Means Committee in a letter on Monday that he will not comply with Democratic requests for President Donald Trump's tax returns, setting up a likely legal battle between the executive and legislative branches. Mnuchin, who faced a third deadline to furnish the returns on Monday, wrote in the letter that he had determined, in consultation with the Justice Department, that the panel's request "lacks a legitimate legislative purpose." Ways and Means Committee chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) formally requested six years of Trump's personal and business tax returns in March, invoking a 1924 law that allows the tax-writing panel to request any Americans' returns from the IRS. "I will consult with counsel and determine the appropriate response," Neal said after Mnuchin's letter.

--- Attorney General William Barr on Monday missed a second deadline set by the House Judiciary Committee for him to hand over a full, unredacted copy of special counsel Robert Mueller's report. In response, the panel moved forward with plans to formally punish Barr, scheduling a Wednesday vote on a resolution holding him in contempt of Congress. Nadler announced late Monday that the Justice Department had agreed to meet with Judiciary Committee staff today — a potential sign that the two sides could head off a clash, although Nadler noted that the panel still planned to hold the contempt vote on Wednesday. "It remains vital that the Committee obtain access to the full, unredacted report and the underlying materials," he said in a statement.

--- Former White House counsel Donald McGahn faces a deadline from the House Judiciary Committee today to turn over 36 types of subpoenaed documents, most relating to the Mueller investigation. According to the Washington Post, the White House may attempt to claim executive privilege to bar McGahn — who emerged as a key witness in many of the potential incidents of obstruction of justice detailed in the Mueller report, which cites him 157 times — from complying. In that event, the Post added, Democrats are discussing holding an additional vote to hold McGahn in contempt as well.

The Rundown

2020 Central: Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) unveiled a 14-part gun control plan on Monday, in what his campaign called "the most sweeping gun violence prevention proposal ever advanced by a presidential candidate." Booker's plan would implement a national gun licensing program, which would require any person seeking to purchase a firearm to apply for a gun license. As part of obtaining the license, an applicant would have to undergo a federal background check, submit fingerprints, sit for an interview, and complete a certified gun safety course. The plan would also strengthen background checks and ban assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and bump stocks.

--- For more on where the 2020 candidates stand on key issues, check out this series from the Washington Post... so far, it includes each candidates' stance on health care, immigration, and proposed changes to democracy...

--- "Some Look at Joe Biden’s Campaign and See Hillary Clinton’s" (New York Times)

NC-SEN: Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) has drawn a primary challenger in his 2020 re-election race, per the Raleigh News & Observer: businessman Garland S. Tucker III. Tillis has sparked anger among some conservatives for taking stances in opposition to President Trump; earlier this year, he penned an op-ed opposing the president's declaration of a national emergency on the southern border, although he ultimately sided with Trump against a resolution of disapproval on the declaration.

DOJ alumni statement: More than 600 former federal prosecutors have signed on to a statement asserting that President Trump would have been charged with obstruction of justice based on special counsel Mueller's findings, if not for the Justice Department's prohibition on indicting a sitting president. The signatories include onetime career and political appointees who served under both Republican and Democratic presidents dating back to Dwight D. Eisenhower. "We believe strongly that, but for the [Justice Department policy against charging the sitting president], the overwhelming weight of professional judgment would come down in favor of prosecution for the conduct outlined in the Mueller Report," the former DOJ officials said in the letter.

Inside the White House: "Mulvaney aims for 'more proactive, less reactive' Trump message" (Politico)

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White House schedule

--- At 11 a.m., President Trump joins First Lady Melania Trump for an event celebrating the anniversary of her "Be Best" initiative, which aims to promote healthy living, kindness, and respect among children.

At 12:15 p.m., the president has lunch with Vice President Mike Pence.

At 3 p.m., he participates in a meeting with a group of Republican senators. According to Politico, the meeting will focus on the Trump administration's soon-to-be-released immigration plan (which senior adviser Jared Kushner has spent months crafting); Sens. David Perdue (R-GA), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Mike Lee (R-UT), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Martha McSally (R-AZ), and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) are expected to attend.

--- In addition to his 12:15 p.m. lunch with the president, Vice President Pence addresses the 49th annual Washington Conference on the Americas at 3:20 p.m.

According to the New York Times, Pence will also address a group of 200 Trump campaign bundlers from across the country who are gathering at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., for a series of meetings about the president's re-election effort.

Congress schedule

--- The Senate convenes at 10 a.m., recessing from 12:30 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. to allow for weekly caucus meetings. Roll call votes on executive nominates are expected.

Also today: FBI Director Christopher Wray testifies before the Senate Appropriations Committee at 9:30 a.m.

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

  1. H.R. 2002 – Taiwan Assurance Act of 2019
  2. H.Res. 273 – Reaffirming the United States commitment to Taiwan and to the implementation of the Taiwan Relations Act
  3. H.R. 1704 – Championing American Business Through Diplomacy Act of 2019

Supreme Court schedule

--- The Supreme Court has no oral arguments or conference scheduled today.

2020 schedules

--- Former Vice President Joe Biden holds a campaign stop at a union hall in Henderson, Nevada.

--- Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) will both address the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C.

--- Former HUD Secretary Julián Castro embarks on a tour of Iowa colleges, holding meet and greets at Iowa State University in Ames, Grinnell College in Grinnell, and Grand View University in Des Moines. He will also discuss his recent book at a meeting of the Grand View University 2020 Presidential Book Club.

--- Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke swings through Iowa, attending house parties in Adel, Charles City, and Fayette, and holding town halls in Boone and Waverly.

*All times Eastern