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Wake Up To Politics - November 20, 2018

I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Tuesday, November 20, 2018. 714 days until Election Day 2020. Have comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at gabe@wakeuptopolitics.com.

Programming note: There will be no editions of Wake Up To Politics sent for the remainder of this week, since all three branches of government are on vacation. Have a great Thanksgiving, I'll be back in your inbox on Monday!

16 Democrats announce opposition to Pelosi

Sixteen Democrats released a letter Monday vowing to oppose Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in the January floor vote for House speaker, a serious threat to the longtime Democratic leader.

While the Democratic dissidents praised Pelosi in the letter as a "historic figure," the group said they were "committed to voting for new leadership in both our Caucus meeting and on the House floor." The letter stated: "Our majority came on the back of candidates who said they would support new leadership because voters in hard-won districts, and across the country, want to see real change in Washington. We promised to change the status quo, and we intend to deliver on that promise." Four of the sixteen signatories are incoming freshman members (one more is currently locked in a tight race against a Republican incumbent).

While Pelosi is poised to easily receive the Democratic caucus's nomination during the caucus vote later this month (when she will only need support from a majority of Democratic members), opposition from the sixteen Democrats could imperil her chances in the January floor vote. The speaker must be elected with a majority of the votes cast, which is 218 votes (if all members participate). If no Republicans vote for her and Democrats hold 233 seats in the next Congress (the number of seats they have won or are winning), Pelosi could only afford to lose the support of 15 Democrats to remain above the needed threshold.

According to a Washington Post whip count, 22 House Democrats have said they plan to vote against Pelosi for speaker, although six did not sign on to the public letter.

But the anti-Pelosi faction still faces one problem: they have yet to field an opposing candidate. Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) has said she is considering a bid for the House gavel, but has yet to make her intentions clear; Fudge did not sign the public letter.

Meanwhile, Pelosi has locked down the support of almost one-half of the Democratic caucus, as well as endorsements from leading Democratic interest groups such as the AFL-CIO, NARAL, the League of Conservation Voters, and MoveOn. Pelosi's allies have adopted a motto, according to the New York Times: "You can't beat somebody with nobody," pointing to the absence of a candidate to oppose her.

While the California Democrat is set to face a potential insurrection, neither of Pelosi's top deputies are expected to face any challenge in receiving re-election to their leadership position. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) on Monday dropped a bid to become House Majority Whip, leaving Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC) safe to reclaim the position. Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), is not expected to face any opposition in being elected Majority Leader.

The all-septuagenarian trio of Pelosi, Hoyer, and Clyburn have led the House Democratic Caucus consecutively since 2006. Pelosi and Clyburn are both 78; Hoyer is 79.

--- Recommended read: "Nancy Pelosi's Last Battle," a masterful profile of the Democratic Leader just published in The New York Times Magazine.

Federal judge overturns Trump asylum ban

In a ruling late Monday, U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar barred the Trump administration from refusing asylum to immigrants who cross the U.S.-Mexico border illegally.

Tigar's ruling temporarily overturned a proclamation implemented by President Trump earlier this month that sought to automatically deny asylum to any immigrants who cross the southern border between official ports of entry. According to a Department of Homeland Security estimate, 70,000 people seek asylum between official ports of entry each year.

The San Francisco-based judge cited the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which states that individuals may seek asylum upon arrival in the United States, "whether or not at a designated port of arrival." Responding to the Trump administration's attempt to cite the same sweeping immigration powers used to enforce the "travel ban" last year, the Obama-appointed judge declared: "Whatever the scope of the President's authority, he may not rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden."

Tigar issued a temporary restraining order, which implemented a one-month prohibition on the administration enforcing Trump's proclamation.

The Trump Administration

Ivanka Trump emails: First Daughter Ivanka Trump, who serves as a formal White House senior adviser, "sent hundreds of emails last year to White House aides, Cabinet officials and her assistants using a personal account, many of them in violation of federal records rules," the Washington Post reports.

According to the Post, some White House aides were "startled" by the number of emails from her personal account on which she discussed official business; other advisers were "alarmed" by the similarities her practices bore to Hillary Clinton's use of personal email, which President Trump made into a core tenet of his 2016 presidential campaign.

The use of personal email by Ivanka Trump, as well as by her husband and fellow presidential adviser Jared Kushner, are expected to be among the topics congressional Democrats investigate upon seizing the House majority in January.

Trump vs. Acosta: The White House restored CNN correspondent Jim Acosta's access on Monday, after a federal judge last week ordered his credentials be at least temporarily reinstated. Trump aides had sought to bar Acosta from the White House complex after he verbally sparred with the president at a post-election press conference, during which he resisted as a White House intern attempted to take his microphone. In response to the restoration of Acosta's access, CNN dropped its lawsuit against the White House.

However, while reinstating Acosta's "hard pass," White House aides on Monday announced new rules governing future presidential press conferences. According to the new rules, journalists will face suspension or revocation of their "hard pass" if they ask follow-up questions of the president without his permission and refuse to "yield the floor to other journalists."

The White House said that "we would have greatly preferred to continue hosting White House press conferences in reliance on a set of understood professional norms," but the release of formal rules was necessitated by CNN's complaint in its lawsuit that Acosta's "hard pass" was revoked even though no "explicit...standards" for White House reporters had been issued, which the judge deemed a violation of his due process.

Border troops: The nearly 6,000 troops who were sent to the U.S.-Mexico border just before the midterm elections will start coming home as early as this week, the general overseeing the deployment told Politico. According to the general, all the troops should be home by Christmas.

Many Trump critics accused the president of using active-duty military forces to his political advantage, as he sought to spread fears of a Central American caravan as part of his pre-midterm closing message. Since the elections, mentions of the caravan have mostly disappeared from his tweets and speeches.

Mueller questions: President Trump will give special counsel Robert Mueller written answers to his questions as early as today, according to Politico. Trump's legal team have set an informal Thanksgiving deadline to finalize their responses to the special counsel's inquiries, which focus only on events leading up to the president's inauguration.

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White House schedule

POTUS: At 1:05pm, President and First Lady Trump participate in the presentation of the National Thanksgiving Turkey (otherwise known as the annual turkey pardoning) in the Rose Garden. This year, turkeys Peas and Carrots are competing for the honor of the presidential pardon (the winner will be selected through a Twitter poll that lasts for a few more hours), although both fowl will spend the rest of their days in the care of Virginia Tech's veterinarians.  

--- A history of the Thanksgiving turkey pardon, via NPR (including an interesting tie to the Iran-Contra scandal)

After the turkey pardoning ceremony, President Trump will depart for his Mar-a-Lago resort, where he and his family will spend the rest of the week.

VP: Vice President Mike Pence has no public events scheduled.

Congress schedule

Both houses of Congress are on Thanksgiving recess until Monday, November 26.

Supreme Court schedule

The Supreme Court is on Thanksgiving break; the justices will next hear cases on Monday, November 26.

*All times Eastern