Monday, November 15, 2016
67 Days until Inauguration DayI'm Gabe Fleisher for Wake Up To Politics, and reporting from WUTP world HQ in my bedroom - Good morning: THIS IS YOUR WAKE UP CALL!!!
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- Trump Considers Cabinet Picks With his top two White House aides announced, President-elect Donald Trump now turns to the immense task of choosing heads of all 15 executive departments (the individuals who will make up his Cabinet), as well as appointees for the 4,000+ other positions he must fill by Inauguration Day.
- The President-elect will meet with Vice President-elect Mike Pence, chairman of Trump's transition team, at Trump Tower today to review candidates for Cabinet slots. "I think we'll get more clarity on the senior team and the Cabinet" soon, Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway (now a senior adviser to the transition team) told reporters on Monday. According to the Wall Street Journal, Trump seemed daunted by the task of filling all thousands of White House jobs at his meeting with President Obama last week.
- "Mr. Trump seemed surprise by the scope [of the duties of the Presidency], said people familiar with the meeting," the WSJ reported. "Trump aides were described by those people as unaware that the entire presidential staff working in the White House had to be replaced at the end of Mr. Obama's term.
- According to the Boston Globe, Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, expected to take an informal but large role in the new Administration, was also unaware of this when given a tour of the mansion by White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough. The Globe reported: "As Kushner walked through the bustling West Wing during Trump’s visit last week, he was heard asking Obama aides, 'How many of these people stay?'"
- Here are some of the people Trump is favoring for top posts, according to new reports Monday:
- Secretary of State The Associated Press reported that Rudy Giuliani is the favorite to be Trump's Secretary of State: a senior Trump source told the outlet that "there's no real competition for the job and that it's the former New York mayor's if he wants it." Giuliani, one of Trump's top surrogates during the campaign, had thought to be under consideration for Attorney General, a post he said at a Wall Street Journal CEO Council event on Monday he will definitely not have.
- According to a number of news sources, the other main contender to be America's top diplomat is former UN ambassador John Bolton.
- Secretary of Defense Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the first senator to endorse Trump in the campaign and his biggest supporter in Congress, is in the lead to be appointed Pentagon chief, Politico reported on Monday. Sessions, a budget hawk who serves on the Armed Services Committee, is opposed by many establishment Republicans.
- According to Politico, Sessions has his pick of Cabinet posts: while it is most likely that he will end up at Defense, he may also be appointed to lead Justice or Homeland Security. Politico also reported that former National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, who served under George W. Bush; former CIA director Jim Woolsey, who served under Bill Clinton; former Sen. Jim Talent (R-MO); and outgoing Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) are other candidates for Defense Secretary.
- Secretary of the Treasury According to Bloomberg Politics, Trump's transition team is recommending to the President-elect that he tap former Goldman Sachs partner Steven Mnuchin as Treasury Secretary. Mnuchin was one of few Wall Street backers for the Trump campaign, and served as Trump's national finance chairman.
- Bloomberg also reported that investor Wilbur Ross Jr., JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) are other contenders.
- Press Secretary Although not a Cabinet position, Trump still has to fill top White House posts, especially senior ones like press secretary. According to The Hill, conservative radio host Laura Ingraham is "under consideration" to be the Trump Administration's liaison to the press. Selecting Ingraham would be a bold choice, and a sign that President Trump would continue the war against the media he waged in the campaign: Ingraham has raged against journalists as members of the "Hillary media" before, including many of the outlets she would be communicating with each day as Press Secretary.
White House Watch
- The President's Schedule President Barack Obama meets with Greek leaders in Athens (all times local: Eastern European Time, seven hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time)
- At 10:50am, the President arrives in Athens, Greece at the Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport.
- At 1:30pm, Obama will participate in a formal arrival ceremony with Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos at the Presidential Mansion in Athens,
- At 1:50pm, Obama will meet with Pavlopolous at the Presidential Mansion.
- At 2:25pm, he arrives at the Maximos Mansion in Athens, the Prime Minister's residence.
- At 2:30pm, President Obama meets with Greke Prime Minister Alexis Tspiras at the Maximos Mansion in Athens.
- At 3:55pm, the President holds a press conference with Tsipras at the Maximos Mansion, Obama's second time taking questions from reporters in two days.
- Finally, at 7:25pm, he attends a state dinner hosted by Pavlopoulous back at the Presidential Mansion.
- The President will remain in Athens overnight.
- Obama is expected to spend much of his time on this European trip assuaging foreign leaders' fears of a Trump Administration. He began the task on Monday at his press conference. "I don't think he is ideological, I think ultimately he is pragmatic in that way and that can serve him well as long as he has got good people around him and he has a good sense of direction," Obama said.
- More from the press conference Obama: "I won Iowa not because the demographics dictated that I would win Iowa, it was because I spent 87 days going to every small town and fair and fish fry and VFW hall. And there were some counties where I might have lost, but maybe I lost by 20 points instead of 50 points. There are some counties maybe I won that people didn’t expect because people had a chance to see you and listen to you and get a sense of who you stood for and who you were fighting for."
- In other words, candidate visits do matter. According to NBC, in the final 100 days: Trump made 133 visits to swing states, Clinton made 87 (including zero to Wisconsin). That's exactly why WUTP reported "Today on the Trail" every day for months: it really does matter where the candidates are.
- My other favorite line from the press conference: " I know myself well enough to know I can't keep track of paper. I am not well organized in that way. And so pretty quickly, after I'm getting stacks of briefing books coming in every night, I say to myself, I've got to figure out a system because I have bad filing, sorting and organizing habits. And I've got to find some people who can help me keep track of this stuff. That seems trivial, but actually it ends up being a pretty big piece of business." cc: my teachers
Capitol Hill News
- Congressional Schedule For the first time since late September, both houses of Congress are in session today. This session, which will last until the new Congress is sworn in on January 3, is known as the "lame-duck."
- The Senate will meet for the first time since its election recess at 4pm today, holding an hour of morning business (when senators are each allowed to speak for up to an hour.) The chamber will also reserve time for Leader remarks, when both Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) are given time to speak. Reid is expected to use his remarks today to go after Stephen Bannon, President-elect Trump's senior counselor and chief strategist-designate.
- At 5pm, the Senate will begin 30 minutes of debate over the Gold Star Families Voices Act, which the chamber will then vote on. The legislation would expand the Veterans’ Oral History Project to include video and audio records of "immediate family members of members of the Armed Forces who died as a result of their service during a period of war."
- Meanwhile, the House will meet at 12pm today, moving into votes at 4pm. The chamber will vote on the following legislation:
- A resolution calling for U.S. sanctions to be imposed against government officials in the Democratic Republic of the Congo who are blocking a democratic transition and credible elections.
- A bill requiring the President to "develop a plan to promote the participation of women abroad in conflict prevention, management, resolution, and recovery."
- A bill to impose sanctions on the military and intelligence agencies of the Syrian government, as well as entities conducting business with the government, and industries (such as the airlines, telecommunications, and energy) controlled by the government.
- A bill extending Iran sanctions for ten years (they are currently set to expire on December 31).
- Also today: House Republicans will vote on their leadership for the next Congress. No changes are expected in the conference's current lineup of Speaker Paul Ryan (WI), Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA), and Majority Whip Steve Scalise (LA). Unlike the other positions, where the majority picks someone and the minority picks someone, Ryan must be nominated for the Speakership: the full House will elect the presiding officer in early January.
- Ryan does not seem to be facing trouble in today's vote (where he just needs 121 Republicans, a majority of the majority), after he won over most members of the House Freedom Caucus. However, Ryan may face issues in the January vote, where he must win 218 votes (a majority of the full House), meaning he can risk losing no more than 23 Republicans (as he is not counting on any Democratic votes). Some Freedom Caucus members, including Reps. Raul Labrador (R-ID), have already announced plans to oppose Ryan then, with other considering such a move.
- Ironically, it is the Democrats that will be holding the more contentious leadership elections. While a vote on their minority leadership was set for Thursday, a group of 34 House Democrats are calling for a delay in the elections, as the party decides on a path forward after devastating losses last week. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), 76, and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), 77, have led the caucus for 13 years; no candidate has yet announced a challenge to either, although there is rumblings of calls for a new face of the party to emerge.
- Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) is reportedly weighing a run for Minority Leader. "Congressman Ryan has never had the ambition to run for Leader, but after last week’s election results and the conversations he has had with his colleagues, he is open to the idea," spokesman Michael Zetts said in a statement. "While he has not made any decisions about a leadership run, he strongly believes that the American people are asking for big changes and we need to figure out how best to deliver on their requests."
- Ryan, who was just elected to his seventh term, would have difficulty defeating Pelosi, but could gain support among members also hailing from the working-class Rust Belt districts that heavily rejected Hillary Clinton. A sign of her iron-grip on the caucus, Pelosi has only been challenged once since taking over as Leader: by Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC) in 2010, after the party was trounced in the midterm elections. Shuler received just 43 votes in that leadership election, according to Politico, and did not seek re-election to the House in 2012.
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