Wake Up To Politics - November 21, 2017
I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Tuesday, November 21, 2017. 350 days until Election Day 2018. 1,078 days until Election Day 2020. Have comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at email@example.com. Tell your friends to sign up to receive the newsletter in their inbox at wakeuptopolitics.com/subscribe!
Sexual harassment allegations continue; Franken, Conyers claimed
The national reckoning with sexual harassment and assault has reached Washington, D.C. in earnest, and the spate of recent allegations are unlikely to stop. On Monday, new accusations were reported against...
Rep. John Conyers (D-MI): BuzzFeed reported on signed affidavits from multiple former staff members alleging that Conyers, the longest-serving member of the U.S. House currently in office and ranking member of the powerful Judiciary Committee, "repeatedly made sexual advances to female staff that included requests for sexual favors, contacting and transporting other women with whom they believed Conyers was having affairs, caressing their hands sexually, and rubbing their legs and backs in public."
The affidavits were filed with Congress' Office of Compliance as part of a 2015 wrongful dismissal complaint aimed at Conyers, from a former employee who said she was fired because she would not "succumb to [Conyers'] sexual advances." She later received a settlement of over $27,000 from Conyers' office. The report is also a revealing look at the Office of Compliance's secretive complaints process; last week, the office released data showing that it has paid victims more than $17 million in 264 settlements with federal employees since 1997, over a range of violations including sexual harassment. The names of lawmakers who have settled such cases are unknown.
Sen. Al Franken (D-MN): A second woman came forward to accuse Franken of inappropriate touching, as Lindsay Menz told CNN that he "grabbed her buttocks while taking a photo at the Minnesota State Fair" in 2010, after he had joined the Senate. The report follows allegations last week by Los Angeles radio news anchor Leeann Tweeden that Franken forcibly kissed her while on a USO tour of the Middle East in 2006, and then posted a photo in which he appears to be grabbing her breast while she is asleep.
A number of liberal groups and commentators, including progressive organization Indivisible, have begun calls for Franken's resignation, although his aides have maintained that he intends to stay in office. "No," a staffer told the Minnesota Star Tribune when asked if Franken will resign. “He is spending time with his family in Washington, D.C., and will be through the Thanksgiving holiday, and he’s doing a lot of reflecting." Franken apologized to Tweeden in two statements last week; he told CNN that he does not remember the photo with Menz, adding: "I feel badly that Ms. Menz came away from our interaction feeling disrespected."
Members of the media: D.C.'s media elite has also been affected by the #MeToo campaign: Vox reported on allegations by four young women against White House correspondent Glenn Thrush of the New York Times, who was suspended on Monday, while the Washington Post reported on allegations of sexual harassment by eight women against longtime television host Charlie Rose. PBS and Bloomberg TV suspended distribution of Rose's talk show on Monday, while CBS suspended Rose from his co-hosting duties at "CBS This Morning."
Meanwhile... The Alabama Senate special election on December 12 draws near, as Republican nominee Roy Moore continues to face fallback over allegations of sexual abuse by numerous women who were teenagers at the time. While many Republican leaders have distanced themselves from Moore (pulling their support or calling for his withdrawal), the White House has been refusing to answer questions on President Donald Trump's support for Moore.
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway criticized Moore's Democratic opponent Doug Jones in an interview on "Fox and Friends" on Monday; when asked if she was encouraging voters to support Moore, she responded: "I'm telling you that we want the votes in the Senate to get this tax bill through." White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders seemed to echo Conway's message, saying at her Monday press briefing: "The president wants people in the House and Senate who support his agenda."
Plus... "Sexual harassment troubles mount in statehouses around the country": USA TODAY reports on accusations of sexual misconduct leveled against 40 lawmakers in 20 states by more than 100 people in the last year.
And there's more to come... "Members of Congress with histories of mistreating women should be extremely nervous," Axios reports. "Major outlets, including CNN, are dedicating substantial newsroom resources to investigating sexual harassment allegations against numerous lawmakers."
Net neutrality: "Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai will reveal plans to his fellow commissioners on Tuesday to fully dismantle the agency's Obama-era net neutrality regulations, people familiar with the plans said, in a major victory for the telecom industry in the long-running policy debate." (Politico)
Sanctuary cities: "A federal judge has permanently blocked US President Donald Trump's executive order to cut funding from cities that limit cooperation with US immigration authorities. " (CNN)
Haitian immigrants: "Some 50,000 Haitians who've lived and worked in the United States since a catastrophic earthquake there in 2010 are reeling from news that their special protected status will be canceled. They have 18 months until their Temporary Protected Status — or TPS — is terminated in the summer of 2019. A statement from The Department of Homeland Security says the 18-month lead time is to 'allow for an orderly transition before the designation terminates on July 22, 2019.'" (NPR)
AT&T-Time Warner: "The Justice Department sued to block AT&T’s $85.4 billion bid for Time Warner on Monday, setting up a showdown over the first blockbuster acquisition to be considered by the Trump administration and drawing limits on corporate power in the fast-evolving media landscape." (New York Times)
North Korea: "U.S. President Donald Trump said he is designating North Korea a state sponsor of terrorism, subjecting the regime to additional sanctions and reinforcing its status as an international pariah." (Bloomberg)
Trump Foundation: "President Donald Trump's charitable foundation, which last year admitted violating federal rules on "self-dealing," is in the process of dissolving, according to newly filed documents reviewed by NBC News." (NBC)
Azar: "Newly disclosed financial records show that President Donald Trump’s nominee to become Health and Human Services secretary reaped big earnings during his tenure as a top pharmaceutical executive. As a top drug industry veteran from 2007 to 2017, former Eli Lilly and Co. executive Alex Azar built a substantial financial portfolio now worth $9.5 million to $20.6 million, and he was paid nearly $2 million in his final year at the company." (Associated Press)
McMaster: "National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster mocked President Trump’s intelligence at a private dinner with a powerful tech CEO, according to five sources with knowledge of the conversation." (BuzzFeed)
The President's Schedule
President Donald Trump takes part in a historic tradition today...
At 12:55pm, President and First Lady Trump meet with the President of the National Turkey Federation, who will present them with the 2017 National Thanksgiving Turkey.
At 1pm, the President will pardon the National Thanksgiving Turkey in the annual Rose Garden ceremony, saving it from being eaten and sending it to a petting zoo instead. The turkey pardon is a tradition that supposedly has its roots in Abraham Lincoln, but formally began in 1982 with President Ronald Reagan.
The Trump White House is continuing the Obama Administration tradition of allowing the public to vote on which of two turkeys will receive the pardon; this year's choices are "Drumstick" and "Wishbone," who both hail from Jaindl's Turkey Farm in Orefield, Pennsylvania. As of this publication, "Drumstick" holds a commanding lead.
At 3pm, the President and First Lady will depart the White House for West Palm Beach, Florida, where they will spend Thanksgiving. The Trumps are slated to arrive at 5:35pm.
Also today... according to the Kremlin, Russian president Vladimir Putin will speak on the phone with President Trump this morning. The call comes after Putin hosted Syrian president Bashar Assad on Monday ahead of a new round of peace talks.
All times Eastern
Unless there's ~major~ news, this will likely be the last edition of Wake Up To Politics this week, in honor of the Thanksgiving holiday, with both houses of Congress out of session and the President out of town. Have a happy Thanksgiving!