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Wake Up To Politics - November 12, 2019

I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Tuesday, November 12, 2019. 83 days until the 2020 Iowa caucuses. 357 days until Election Day 2020. Have any comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at gabe@wakeuptopolitics.com!

Editor's note: Thanks to all of you who sent such kind birthday notes last week! (And, yes, I've already registered to vote!)

Supreme Court weighs Trump's attempt to end DACA

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments today over the legality of President Donald Trump's attempt to end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protects immigrants — known as "Dreamers" — who were brought into the United States illegally as minors.

Trump announced plans to phase out DACA in September 2017, although a series of lower court judges have kept the program alive by blocking his efforts. The Supreme Court will offer the final ruling in the case, deciding the fate of the roughly 800,000 "Dreamers" who are currently living in the U.S.

The plaintiffs in the case argue that President Trump's termination of DACA violated the Administrative Procedure Act, a 1946 law that requires the government to provide substantial justification before adopting public policies. Meanwhile, the Trump administration argues that DACA was an unconstitutional overreach of presidential power on Obama's part and within Trump's authority to strike it down.  

Theodore Olson, a conservative attorney who served as Solicitor General under President George W. Bush, will take the lead in defending DACA during the oral arguments today; he will also be joined as co-counsel by Luis Cortes, a first-time Supreme Court advocate who is a "Dreamer" himself. Solicitor General Noel Francisco will represent the federal government in the case. Both sides are likely to target their arguments to Chief Justice John Roberts, who is seen as the most likely swing vote on the court, which is made up of five conservatives and four liberals.

Trump has shifted his position on DACA numerous times since taking office, expressing sympathy for "Dreamers" while also fighting in court to end the program protecting them. The contradictions in his position were evident in a tweet he posted this morning, claiming that some DACA recipients "are very tough, hardened criminals" while also promising to craft a deal with Democrats to shield "Dreamers" from deportation if the Supreme Court ends the program. Multiple attempts at a bipartisan DACA deal have ended in failure throughout Trump's presidency.

Reports: Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick mulling 2020 presidential bid

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is not the only prominent Democrat who is now taking a second look at the 2020 presidential race after initially declining to run: according to the New York Times, former Gov. Deval Patrick (D-MA) has told Democratic officials that "he is considering making a last-minute entry" into the 2020 field as well.

Patrick served as governor of Massachusetts from 2007 to 2015; he was the state's first African-American chief executive. He is a close ally of former President Barack Obama and was being advised by a number of top Obama aides before announcing in December 2018 that he would not mount a White House campaign.

The Times reported that Patrick met with some of his advisers in Boston on Sunday "to discuss what a campaign would look like" and "personally began reaching out to potential staffers" on Monday, "telling them he was strongly considering a bid and asking if they’d consider working for his campaign."

"At the same time, Massachusetts Democrats close to Mr. Patrick have started contacting prominent party leaders in early nominating states to alert them that he may run," the Times added. The window to join the 2020 race is closing fast: Patrick has already missed the deadline to file for the Alabama and Arkansas primary, while the New Hampshire filing deadline is on Friday. (Although Bloomberg has yet to decide whether he will join the presidential race, he filed the papers necessary to qualify for the Alabama primary ballot just in case last week.)

According to the Times, Patrick has told other Democrats "that he doesn’t think any of the candidates [currently running for president] have established political momentum and that he thinks there is an opening for somebody who can unite both liberal and moderate voters."

Despite the size of the Democratic presidential field (with 17 candidates, it is the largest in U.S. history), many Democrats have expressed anxiety over the ability of their top choices — former Vice President Joe Biden, a moderate, and Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT), both progressives— to triumph over President Trump next year.

More 2020 news:

--- "Joe Biden edges ahead of opponents in New Hampshire poll" (USA TODAY)

--- "Biden’s rivals scramble to dent his support from black voters" (Washington Post)

--- "AOC brings star power to Iowa for Sanders" (Politico)

Impeachment: The latest

New deposition transcripts released: House investigators released the transcripts from three private impeachment depositions on Monday, publicizing the testimonies of Defense Department official Laura Cooper and State Department officials Catherine Croft and Christopher Anderson. Here's what they revealed:

"Two senior U.S. officials told House impeachment investigators that Ukrainian leaders were aware nearly $400 million in congressionally approved security assistance had been frozen well before that information became public, undercutting a key point of President Trump’s 'no quid pro quo' defense.

"Trump’s defenders have argued that the administration could not have leveraged the security assistance to procure a pledge from Kyiv to investigate his political rivals because, they say, Ukrainian officials did not know the money was being withheld before late August, when that information first surfaced in U.S. media reports. ...

"Together, the three transcripts released Monday depict how Trump, acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and the Office of Management and Budget — the agency Mulvaney led before his current White House posting — worked against the advice, expertise and counsel of every other U.S. governmental agency involved in Ukraine policy when it came to delivering the congressionally approved money." (Washington Post)

Mulvaney withdraws effort to join lawsuit: "Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, on Monday backed away from an attempt to join a pending lawsuit concerning testimony in the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.

"Mulvaney’s attorneys withdrew their request to be part of the suit, which involves a former senior national security official and seeks to clarify whether the House can force testimony from former presidential advisers. The reversal came after an objection from the official, Charles Kupperman, who stepped down last month as Trump’s deputy national security adviser, in which he said through his lawyers that it was inappropriate for Mulvaney to join the pending case." (Politico)

Recommended read: "Trump, Ukraine and Impeachment: The Inside Story of How We Got Here" (New York Times)

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's name was misspelled in Monday's newsletter. In addition, the colleague of Lev Parnas referenced in the newsletter should have been Igor Fruman. My apologies for the errors, and thanks to those of you who pointed them out!

Today at the White House

--- President Trump is in New York, New York. At 12 p.m., he delivers remarks at the Economic Club of New York. At 1:55 p.m., he participates in a roundtable with supporters. At 2:30 p.m., he delivers remarks at a fundraising committee reception. Trump will then depart New York, returning to Washington, D.C., at 5:25 p.m.

--- At 12 p.m., Vice President Mike Pence delivers remarks at the 2019 National Adoption Month Celebration at the Department of Health and Human Services headquarters. At 2:30 p.m., he meets with U.S. Ambassador to France Jamie McCourt at his West Wing office. At 7:05 p.m., he participates in the Kuwait-America Foundation 2019 Gala Dinner at the Kuwaiti ambassador's residence.

Today in Congress

--- At 3 p.m., the Senate convenes. At 5:30 p.m., the chamber holds a vote advancing the nomination of Chad Wolf to be Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Strategy, Policy, and Plans. (President Trump has announced his intention to tap Wolf as his next Secretary of Homeland Security, but Wolf must first be confirmed to the Under Secretary post.)

--- At 2 p.m., the House convenes. The chamber is scheduled to consider nine pieces of legislation:

  1. H.R. 4625 – Protect the GI Bill Act, as amended
  2. H.R. 4477 – Reducing High Risk to Veterans and Veterans Services Act, as amended
  3. H.R. 4771 – VA Tele-Hearing Modernization Act
  4. H.R. 4360 – VA Overpayment Accountability Act
  5. H.R. 4356 – Protecting Families of Fallen Servicemembers Act, as amended
  6. H.R. 4162 – GI Bill Planning Act of 2019, as amended
  7. H.R. 3996 – VA Design-Build Construction Enhancement Act of 2019
  8. H.R. 1424 – Fallen Warrior Battlefield Cross Memorial Act
  9. H.R. 3224 – Deborah Sampson Act, as amended

Today at the Supreme Court

--- The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California and Hernandez v. Mesa.

Today on the trail

--- Gov. Steve Bullock (D-MT) files for the first-in-the-nation New Hampshire presidential primary at the State House in Concord.

--- HUD Secretary Julián Castro (D) will meet with refugees and migrant workers in Iowa City, Iowa, before accompanying Jose Robinson, a Honduran refugee, to his "check-in" with the local Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office.

--- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) holds a grassroots fundraiser in Washington, D.C.

--- Former Gov. Mark Sanford (R-SC) files for the first-in-the-nation New Hampshire presidential primary at the State House in Concord.

--- Spiritual author Marianne Williamson (D) holds a meet and greet in Las Vegas, Nevada.

*All times Eastern