Wake Up To Politics - May 8, 2018
I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Tuesday, May 8, 2018. 183 days until Election Day 2018. 911 days until Election Day 2020. Have comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
New York AG resigns amid physical abuse allegations
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman resigned on Monday night, less than four hours after The New Yorker published a report on allegations of assault by four women.
"It's been my great honor and privilege to serve as Attorney General for the people of the State of New York. In the last several hours, serious allegations, which I strongly contest, have been made against me," the New York Democrat said in a statement. "While these allegations are unrelated to my professional conduct or the operations of the office, they will effectively prevent me from leading the office's work at this critical time. I therefore resign my office, effective at the close of business on May 8, 2018."
Two women, Michelle Manning Barish and Tanya Selvaratnam, accused Schneiderman of choking and hitting them repeatedly, "often after drinking, frequently in bed and never with their consent." Two additional unnamed women detailed similar experiences in the report. All four were romantically involved with Schneiderman but said that the violence was not consensual.
Schneiderman denied the allegations, saying that he had never "assaulted anyone" or "engaged in nonconsensual sex."
The New York Democrat was a longtime foe of President Trump's, leading a lawsuit in 2013 against Trump University and more recently emerging as a face of many legal challenges to Trump Administration actions. At the time of his resignation, Schneiderman was also in the midst of suing alleged sexual abuser Harvey Weinstein and was widely seen as a chief proponent of the #MeToo movement — until he was swept up in it.
Trump to announce Iran deal decision
President Donald Trump will announce his decision on the future of the Iran nuclear agreement at 2pm today, he announced in a Monday tweet with a typically suspenseful air.
The nuclear deal, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was signed in July 2016 by Iran, the P5+1 (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Germany), and the European Union. In the pact, Iran agreed to eliminate its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium and cut its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by 98%. In exchange, the U.S., European Union, and United Nations Security Council promised to end economic sanctions long placed against Iran.
According to the Washington Post, President Trump is expected to announce today that he will no longer continue to waive those sanctions, effectively withdrawing the United States from the deal. The sanctions, imposed by 2012 legislation, "require other countries to reduce Iranian oil imports or risk U.S. sanctions on their banks and their ability to conduct Iran-related financial transactions," according to The Post. Trump is expected to signal that he will not sign documents to waive the sanctions at the next deadline, which is Saturday. However, The Post reported, he is not expected to immediately address other sanctions lifted by the deal with waiver deadlines in July.
The New York Times also reported that European diplomats had concluded "that they had failed to convince him that reneging on America's commitment to the pact could cast the West into new confrontation with Tehran."
Trump has criticized the Iran deal since the 2016 campaign, calling the agreement "insane" and labeling it a "disaster." However, he has yet to exit from the deal, subjected to a lobbying campaign from European allies, with leaders from France, England, and Germany visiting Washington in recent weeks to urge the Trump Administration not to withdraw from the agreement and risk an Iranian response.
Four states hold key primaries
Today is the first multi-state primary day of the 2018 midterm elections: voters in Ohio, Indiana, North Carolina, and West Virginia head to the polls to choose their party nominees. Some of the key races...
WV-SEN (GOP): Three Republicans are competing for the nomination to face Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) in November: Rep. Evan Jenkins, state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, and ex-convict coal baron Don Blankenship. Many Republicans are worried by recent internal polling showing Blankenship in the lead, despite spending a year in prison for violating mine-safety standards as a CEO and waging a racially-charged campaign against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's Chinese-American relatives. In a Monday tweet, President Trump urged West Virginia voters to reject Blankenship, positing that he "can't win the General Election in your State." Trump urged West Virginians to "Remember Alabama," a reference to the Alabama Senate special election last year in which the Republicans nominated controversial ex-judge Roy Moore, who went on to lose to a Democrat in the solid-red state. Blankenship was undeterred by Trump's message, saying it only proved that he is "Trumpier than Trump," continuing to vie for the president's mantle against his more "establishment" opponents.
IN-SEN (GOP): Trump's shadow also looms large over the three-way race to challenge Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN). In Indiana as well, an outsider businessman (Mike Braun) faces two establishment Republicans (Reps. Luke Messer and Todd Rokita), with all three competing to prove that they are fiercer supporters of the president.
OH-GOV (DEM): While Democrats do not have any contested Senate primaries, they are divided in selecting the candidate to seek Ohio's open governorship. Former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) director Richard Cordray leads in most public polling against former Rep. Dennis Kucinich, although both field dueling endorsements from the party's progressive wing. Cordray is backed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), as well as many of the state's top Democrats, while Kucinich has the support of Bernie Sanders' machine, including his nonprofit group Our Revolution and many of his top surrogates.
NC-9, NC-3 (GOP): Reps. Robert Pittenger (R-NC) and Walter Jones (R-NC) both face serious primary challenges, at risk of becoming the first incumbents to be defeated in 2018 primaries. Pittenger is in a rematch with former pastor Mark Harris, whom he defeated by just 134 votes in 2016, while Jones faces off against Craven County commissioner Scott Dacey. Like GOP primary fights across the country, support for President Trump and his agenda is again seen as a deciding factor, with both challengers questioning the "MAGA" credentials of the incumbents.
Polls close at 6pm and 7pm in Indiana, and at 7:30pm in North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia.
The Trump Administration
--- President Trump is expected to send a plan to Congress today calling for $15 billion in spending cuts. About $7 billion of the proposed cuts come from the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP); the White House says the cuts would only affect accounts within the program that are expired or not being used. This is the first in a series of "recission packages" expected to be submitted by the White House, a rarely-used tool that allows the president to request the stripping of previously-authorized funds. Congress has 45 days to vote on the plan by a simple majority. The package is supported by many House conservatives, but carries less enthusiasm in the Senate.
--- The president's enthusiasm for Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt "may be cooling," the New York Times reported, as senior White House aides are encouraging Trump to fire him. Pruitt faces 11 federal investigations on a range of ethical controversies. Axios previously reported over the weekend that Trump was beginning to sour on Pruitt "as the negative press about him piles up."
--- Trump is also growing frustrated with his new personal attorney, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, according to Politico. The president is reportedly upset that Giuliani has failed to "shut down the Stormy Daniels hush money saga," complaining that his frequent "media appearances are raising more questions than they are answering." If his behavior doesn't change, per Politico, some aides expect Trump to fire Giuliani. According to the Associated Press, Trump "is growing increasingly irritated" with the ex-mayor's media blitz and is considering whether Giuliani "should be sidelined from television interviews."
--- Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced plans on Monday "to take a tougher approach to some families who enter the U.S. illegally by separating parents from their children, instead of keeping them in detention together," according to NBC News.
--- First Lady Melania Trump unveiled her formal platform on Monday, launching the "Be Best" initiative focused on the well-being of children, combatting opioid abuse, and encouraging positivity on social media.
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The President's schedule
At 11:15am, President Trump meets with a group of Republican senators.
At 12:30pm, President Trump has lunch with Vice President Mike Pence and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.
At 2pm, President Trump gives remarks on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the Iran deal.
At 5pm, President Trump addresses a reception of the Federal Judges Association.
The Senate meets at 2:30pm today. The chamber is set to resume consideration of the nomination of Kurt Engelhardt to be a U.S. Circuit Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Engelhardt, who currently serves as the Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, was advanced by the Senate in a 64-31 vote on Monday, with 16 Democrats joining all present Republicans in voting "yea." Engelhardt will be President Trump's 16th federal circuit judge nominee to be confirmed; five othe rs are expected to be considered by the Senate this week.
The House meets at 10am today. The chamber will consider seven bills focused on small businesses, as well as legislation eliminating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's indirect auto lending rule, which "limited loan markups and compensation for dealers on auto loans - specifically on the basis of race, national origin, or credit score," according to Reuters. The Senate has passed the bill, so if the House signs off, it will mark the 16th time that Congress has sent a repeal of an Obama-era regulation under the Congressional Review Act to President Trump's desk since he took office.
*All times Eastern