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Wake Up To Politics - October 12, 2018

I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from Washington, D.C. It’s Friday, October 12, 2018. 25 days until Election Day 2018. 753 days until Election Day 2020. Have comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at gabe@wakeuptopolitics.com.

Live from DC: I'm currently writing to you from the nation's capital, where I had a very exciting day yesterday, running around the Capitol building (I spoke to a few lawmakers, including my home-state senator Claire McCaskill, who told me she expects her re-election race to be "as close as a fingernail") and touring The Washington Post newsroom with CEO Fred Ryan. On deck today: college tours!

The Trump Show

President Trump, rarely media-shy, has had a particularly ubiquitous presence on TV in recent weeks. On Thursday's episode of the Trump Show, Kanye West was a featured guest. Today, he heads to Ohio for another campaign rally, his eighth in the past two weeks (so many that even Fox News has cut back on airing them live). His pace of media interviews has also picked up: per a Wake Up To Politics analysis, he has sat for 11 interviews so far in the month of October, approaching his record for a single month (12 in April 2017). That number includes three Fox News phone interviews in the past week, as well as an interview with CBS' "60 Minutes" that is set to air on Sunday, according to CNN.

--- "Live from the Oval Office, it’s Kanye West with a jaw-dropping performance. The rapper didn’t rap. But, seated across from President Donald Trump at the Resolute Desk, the musician delivered a rambling, multipart monologue Thursday that touched on social issues, hydrogen planes, mental health, endorsement deals, politics and oh so much more. Seizing the spotlight from the typically center-stage president, West dropped the F-word, floated policy proposals and even went in for a hug." (Associated Press)

--- "Is there a such thing as to much Trump?" (Politico) Inside Trump's new media strategy, attributed to White House communications chief Bill Shine

The Russia investigation

--- President Trump's legal team "is preparing answers to written questions" provided by special counsel Robert Mueller on "matters related to the investigation of possible collusion between Trump associates and Russians seeking to meddle in the 2016 election," CNN reported. Other news outlets later confirmed the report.

However, negotiations continue about whether President Trump will sit for an interview with Mueller's investigators probing potential obstruction of justice committed by the president. Despite his attorneys' hesitance, President Trump expressed openness to an interview with Mueller on "Fox and Friends" on Thursday. "It seems ridiculous that I'd have to do it when everybody says there's no collusion, but I'll do what is necessary to get it over with," he said.

The Administration

--- Former Trump aide Dina Powell has withdrawn from consideration to succeed outgoing UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, Reuters and other outlets reported. Powell, who served as deputy national security adviser until January of this year, will remain as an executive at Goldman Sachs. Powell had reportedly been seen as the top candidate for the position since Haley announced earlier this week that she planned to resign at the end of the year; according to Bloomberg, she had already discussed it twice with Trump. But, per Reuters, she told him over the phone Thursday that she planned to stay at Goldman.

According to Politico, the White House is eyeing a number of other women for the UN job, including Susan G. Koman Breast Cancer Foundation founder Nancy Brinker; former Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH); Kelly Knight Craft, the U.S. ambassador to Canada; and Kay Bailey Hutchison, the U.S. ambassador to NATO.

--- President Trump has begun considering candidates to replace Jeff Sessions as Attorney General "on the assumption" that Sessions will step down later this year, the Wall Street Journal reports. According to the report, the potential candidates include: Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Transportation Department general counsel Steven Bradbury, former Attorney General Bill Barr, Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, and retired appeals court judge Janice Roger Brown.

--- Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross testified to Congress in March that he hadn't discussed adding a question to the 2020 census about people's citizenship with President Trump or any White House aides. But a document filed by the Justice Department on Thursday shows that Ross now recalls discussing the question with then-White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, according to the Washington Post.

Election Central

--- Republican leaders "are racing to reinforce their [House] candidates in about two-dozen [mostly moderate suburban] districts, trying to create a barricade around their imperiled majority," while beginning to "pull millions of dollars away from Republican candidates who have fallen substantially behind in once-competitive races," the New York Times reports.

--- "Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams' campaign is calling on Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp to resign following a report his office is using a controversial verification law to effectively suppress the minority vote in their race to become the state's next governor." (CNN)

--- Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) is trailing by double digits in his bid for a third term, according to an NBC News/Marist poll. According to the poll, Democrat Tony Evers has the support of 53% of likely voters in the state, while Walker is backed by 43%.

--- "'Who doesn’t want to be a celebrity?': Democrats ponder the stars in challenging Trump in 2020" (Washington Post)

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White House schedule

POTUS: At 11:30am, President Trump receives his intelligence briefing.

At 2:50pm, he departs the White House for Cincinnati, Ohio, arriving at 4:35pm. At 5:15pm, Trump participates in a roundtable with supporters in Cincinnati. At 7pm, he hosts a Make America Great Again rally in Lebanon, Ohio. Following the rally, Trump will return to the White House.

VP: Vice President Mike Pence travels to Illinois and his home state of Indiana. At 2:55pm, he addresses an event for Illinois Rep. Rodney Davis' re-election campaign in Springfield. At 6:35pm, he speaks at the 2018 Indiana Republican Party Fall Dinner in Indianapolis.

Congress schedule

Both houses of Congress are on recess through the midterm elections. The Senate left town on Thursday after Democrats agreed to confirm 15 more of President Trump's judicial nominees, including three circuit court judges and 12 district court judges. According to Bloomberg's Sahil Kapur, Trump has now placed 84 appointees on the federal bench (53 on district courts, 29 on circuit courts, 2 on the Supreme Court).

Trivia Desk

The answer to Thursday's trivia question... White House press secretary Ron Nessen was the first political figure to host "Saturday Night Live," in a 1976 episode that included a cameo by then-President Gerald Ford, who delivered the show's "Live from New York, it's Saturday night!" tagline.

Congratulations to the many of you answered correctly. The first correct respondent... Kim Green of St. Louis, Missouri. And the last correct respondent before the end of the day... Abigail Wallace of Detroit, Michigan.

*All times Eastern