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Wake Up To Politics - November 26, 2018

I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Monday, November 26, 2018. 434 days until the 2020 Iowa caucuses. 708 days until Election Day 2020. Have comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at gabe@wakeuptopolitics.com.

Border crossing shut down amid unrest

"U.S. border agents fired tear gas on hundreds of migrants protesting near the border with Mexico on Sunday after some of them attempted to get through the fencing and wire separating the two countries, and American authorities shut down the nation’s busiest border crossing from the city where thousands are waiting to apply for asylum.

"The situation devolved after the group began a peaceful march to appeal for the U.S. to speed processing of asylum claims for Central American migrants marooned in Tijuana." (Associated Press)

--- In response to the attempted crossings, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) closed the San Ysidro Port of Entry, one of the busiest border crossings, on Sunday, although it was later reopened.

--- President Donald Trump tweeted this morning: "Mexico should move the flag waving Migrants, many of whom are stone cold criminals, back to their countries. Do it by plane, do it by bus, do it anyway you want, but they are NOT coming into the U.S.A. We will close the Border permanently if need be. Congress, fund the WALL!"

--- "Mr. Trump has made preventing caravan members from entering into the United States a signature stance of his administration over the past few weeks... The images of unrest Sunday will likely provide him with additional ammunition as he tries to keep out the caravan members and other immigrants and refugees fleeing poverty and violence in their homelands." After beginning to arrive in the border city Tijuana about two weeks ago, Sunday marked the first time a significant number of members of the Central American caravan gathered at the border fence. (New York Times:)


The new Congress: Some of the latest reports on House Democrats' plans for their new majority...

--- "It’s Not Just Trump in House Democrats’ Cross Hairs. His Family Is, Too." (New York Times)

--- "House Democrats pile on to scrutinize DeVos" (Politico)

--- "House Democrats Are Planning to Probe Trump's Financial Ties to Saudi Arabia" (TIME)

The lame-duck Congress: As Democrats gear up to take over the House, lawmakers return to the nation's capital today for the lame-duck session, the final days of full Republican control in Washington, D.C. The main issue facing Congress during the lame-duck: a potential government shutdown, with funding for many agencies set to expire on December 7. President Trump has threatened to veto spending legislation if it doesn't include funding for his proposed border wall. "Could there be a shutdown? There certainly could," he told reporters last week. "And it will be about border security, of which the wall is a part." 60 votes will be needed for any funding measure to pass the Senate, so Democrats have called for concessions as well, including a measure that would protect special counsel Robert Mueller.

--- Senate Republicans also increased calls over the weekend for oversight on the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. According to CNN, outgoing Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Corker (R-TN) is pushing for a full Senate briefing on Wednesday about Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's role in the assassination. Top Republicans have criticized President Trump for his statement last week defending Saudi Arabia, despite reports that the CIA had determined that the Crown Prince ordered Khashoggi's killing.

Coming up: House Democrats plan to hold leadership elections on Wednesday. Nancy Pelosi (CA), Steny Hoyer (MD), and Jim Clyburn (SC) are all unopposed for the party's top leadership spots; although Pelosi is expected to easily receive her party's nod for the speakership, she could face trouble when the full House votes in January. Pelosi will need support from a majority of those voting in that floor vote: if all 435 members vote and no Republicans support her, Pelosi will likely only be able to afford 16 Democratic defections (two House races remain uncalled, making the exact number uncertain).

While Pelosi faces opposition from multiple fronts, she has gained momentum since Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH), the only Democrat who had expressed interest in challenging her, dropped her potential bid and endorsed her Pelosi last week. In addition, one of the 16 members who signed a letter pledging to oppose Pelosi has already backed out, while another has signaled he may as well. In addition to the group of "never Pelosi" Democrats, the Californian also faces opposition from nine Democratic members of the House Problem Solvers Caucus, who have threatened to withhold support from her if she doesn't back their proposed rules changes.

White House

Trump pushes for new spending while calling for deficit reduction: "President Trump is demanding top advisers craft a plan to reduce the country’s ballooning budget deficits, but the president has flummoxed his own aides by repeatedly seeking new spending while ruling out measures needed to address the country’s unbalanced budget."

..."Even as Trump has told aides he’s finally interested in taking steps to reduce deficits, he has floated several ideas that would further expand them. He has proposed a 10 percent tax cut for the middle class, a huge package of infrastructure spending and billions of dollars for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. He hasn’t specified how he would pay for any of those things." (Washington Post)

The Russia investigation

Papadopolous to prison: Former Trump campaign foreign policy aide George Papadopoulos will report to federal prison in Oxford, Wisconsin to begin his two-week sentence today. Papadopoulos pleaded guilty last year to making false statements to the FBI about his contacts with Russia during the 2016 campaign; his was the first indictment or guilty plea entered by special counsel Robert Mueller.

In recent weeks, Papadopolous has sought to evade the jail time he was sentenced to in September, along with 200 hours of community service, a year of probation, and a $9,500 fine. But U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss ruled Sunday that Papadopolous' sentence would begin Monday, denying the former Trump adviser's request for a delay while a separate case challenging Mueller's appointment was being argued.

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White House schedule

POTUS: At 11:30am, President Trump receives his intelligence briefing. At 12:30pm, he has lunch with Vice President Mike Pence.

Trump will then depart the White House for Mississippi. At 5:15pm, he delivers remarks at a Make America Great Again rally in Tupelo. At 7:50pm, he participates in a roundtable on criminal justice reform in Gulfport. At 9pm, he delivers remarks at a Make America Great Again rally in Biloxi.

Trump will be campaigning for Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), who is competing in the special runoff election in Mississippi on Tuesday. Hyde-Smith faces Democrat Mike Espy, a former U.S. Agriculture Secretary and ex-congressman. Racial tensions have dominated the runoff's final days: after receiving criticism for her comments referencing a "public hanging," reports surfaced over the weekend about Hyde-Smith's attendance of an all-white "segregation academy" and her record of embracing Confederate history. According to Politico, Republicans believe Hyde-Smith will win Tuesday's runoff, but they are "on edge," especially in light of their loss in last year's Senate special election in Alabama.

VP: In addition to joining President Trump for lunch and for the stops on his Mississippi trip, Vice President Pence will deliver remarks at the Hidden Heroes 3rd Annual National Convening at 3:35pm.

Congress schedule

Senate: The Senate will convene at 3pm. At 5:30pm, the chamber will hold a cloture vote on the nomination of Stephen Alexander Vaden to be General Counsel of the Department of Agriculture.  

House: No votes are expected in the House today.

Supreme Court schedule

The justices of the Supreme Court hear oral arguments in two cases today, via SCOTUSBlog: Apple Inc. v. Pepper, "in which the justices will consider whether iPhone-app purchasers can bring an antitrust suit against Apple," and Nieves v. Barlett, "which revisits the question of whether probable cause defeats a First Amendment retaliatory-arrest claim."

*All times Eastern