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Wake Up To Politics - September 12, 2017

I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It's Tuesday, September 12, 2017. 420 days until Election Day 2018. 1,148 days until Election Day 2020. Have comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at gabe@wakeuptopolitics.com. Tell your friends to sign up to receive the newsletter in their inbox at wakeuptopolitics.com/subscribe!

The Rundown

  • Court Report: Justice Kennedy Reinstates Trump Refugee Ban Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy issued an administrative stay on Monday allowing the Trump Administration to enforce its ban on refugees, a key part of President Trump's controversial "travel ban."
  • Kennedy's temporary order came after the Administration's request that the Court respond to a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that would have allowed 24,000 refugees that had been accepted by a resettlement agency to enter the United States. The ruling would have gone into effect today.
  • The President's executive order banning immigration from six Muslim-majority countries, which was first signed in January and later revised in March, also suspended the U.S. refugee program for 120 days. Due to legal challenges, the order did not take effect until Supreme Court action in June, which greenlighted the ban but allowed exceptions for relatives of current U.S. residents.
  • The 9th Circuit interpreted the Supreme Court ruling as allowing the accepted refugees, which the Trump Administration challenged and saw successfully overturned (at least temporarily) on Monday. The lower court ruling also interpreted the Supreme Court opinion as allowing grandparents and cousins of U.S. citizens from the six countries to enter, a more expansive definition than previously enforced by the Trump Administration. The Justice Department chose not to challenge that part of the 9th Circuit opinion.
  • All nine Supreme Court justices are set to hear full oral arguments on the President's travel ban on October 10.
  • DRIP, DRIP, DRIP The latest in the Russia investigation: the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that members of President Trump's legal team concluded in June that Jared Kushner should step down as a White House senior advisor due to "possible legal complications" related to the probe of Russia's ties to the Trump campaign.
  • The lawyers were concerned that Kushner "was the adviser closest to the president who had the most dealings with Russian officials and businesspeople during the campaign and transition," interactions originally omitted from Kushner's security clearance form and now being investigated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and a slate of congressional committees.
  • According to the report, the lawyers brought their concerns to the President, going so far as to draft a statement explaining Kushner's departure before Trump decided that there was no need for Kushner to go. John Dowd, who has led the presidential legal team since June, confirmed that some of his colleagues believed Kushner should go, but said he was unaware of that proposal being taken to Trump; his predecessor, Marc Kasowitz, denied having any discussions with President Trump or any White House lawyers about Kushner stepping down.
  • Out Today: "What Happened" Former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's book on the 2016 campaign, "What Happened," is being released today. Clinton's publisher has promised that the book will be her "most personal memoir yet," and she has already ignited controversy over parts of the book blaming outside factors for her presidential loss, from Russian intervention to FBI director James Comey to former primary rival Bernie Sanders.
  • Clinton's book release coincides with a 16-stop book tour, opening in New York City today, and a media tour that will feature interviews with late-night, cable, and morning shows, newspapers, magazines, podcasts, and other outlets.
  • Election Central: New York Voters in the Empire State head to the polls today for local primary elections. New York City mayor Bill de Blasio faces five Democratic primary challengers, most notably former City Councilman Sal Albanese. De Blasio is expected to easily win his party's nomination for a second term; in the November election, he will face Republican State Assemblyman Nicole Mallioakis.

The President's Schedule: Malaysia PM, Bipartisan senators dinner

  • At 10am, President Donald Trump will meet with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt. At 10:30am, he will receive his daily intelligence briefing. At 11am, he will meet with National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster.
  • At 11:45am, Trump will welcome Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak of Malaysia to the White House. The two will meet at 11:50am in the Oval Office, before holding an expanded meeting at 12:10pm in the Cabinet Room. Najib is currently the target of a global investigation, led in part by the U.S. Justice Department, into alleged embezzlement and laundering of over $1 billion in assets from the state-owned 1Malaysia Development Bhd (IMDB) to relatives and associates of the Prime Minister.
  • At her daily press briefing on Monday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sander said the corruption probe is "apolitical and certainly independent of anything taking place tomorrow," adding that the two leaders planned to discuss ISIS, North Korea, the South China Sea, and other security issues.
  • At 2pm, President Trump will meet with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Finally, at 6:30pm, Trump will host six U.S. senators for dinner. According to the Washington Post, the dinner will include three Democrats (Indiana's Joe Donnelly, North Dakota's Heidi Heitkamp, and West Virginia's Joe Manchin) and three Republicans (Utah's Orrin Hatch, Pennsylvania's Pat Toomey, and South Dakota's John Thune).
  • The topic of the bipartisan meal will likely be Trump's latest legislative push, tax reform: all three Republicans are members of the Senate Finance Committee, which Hatch chairs, while all three Democrats are centrists facing re-election in Trump states next year. Donnelly, Heitkamp, and Manchin were the only Democratic senators to decline to sign a letter last month setting the party's conditions for tax reform. The Administration has been pressuring the trio to endorse its to-be-released tax reform plan: last week, President Trump appeared with Heitkamp and Vice President Mike Pence appeared with Manchin in events on tax reform in those lawmakers' home states. Pence will also travel to Indiana later this month, according to Politico, allowing him to pressure Donnelly.
  • After speeches in Missouri and North Dakota last week, Trump will continue an "aggressive" travel schedule of tax reform events, Bloomberg reported this morning. According to the report, Trump will travel to as many as 13 states to raise public support for tax overhaul, as Republicans on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue continue to finalize details of their tax plan. The President will focus on the 10 states where Democratic senators are up for re-election next year in states he won.

Today in Congress: Defense bill, CEA nomination

  • Both the House and Senate will convene at 10am today. The lower chamber will hold votes on twelve pieces of legislation, mostly focused on the Department of Homeland Security. The House will also continue consideration of the 200+ amendments offered to the Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act, the Republican "minibus" spending package bundling eight of the twelve annual appropriations bills.
  • Meanwhile, following Leader remarks, the Senate will continue post-cloture debate over the National Defense Authorization Act, the annual defense policy bill managed by Senate Armed Services Committee chairman John McCain (R-AZ). The chamber voted 89-3 on Monday to advance the legislation, with Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) voting "nay."
  • Paul threatened to "object to all procedural motions and amendments [to the defense bill] unless and until" a vote is scheduled on his amendment repealing the Authorizations of Military Force (AUMFs) approved before the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and later used by the second Bush and Obama Administrations as rationale for a variety of military actions. "Tonight I sit silently to protest the thousands of American soldiers who have died over the past decade in these wars," Paul said in a statement. "We have been there for 16 years. It is time for them to end. It is time for Congress to vote on whether or not they should end."
  • Paul's protest succeeded in blocking attempts by Senate leadership to shorten debate on the legislation; the chamber will now hold the required 30 hours of post-cloture debate, with Paul announcing that he was promised control over four of those hours. "I will continue to fight, and if necessary, object, to continue this debate, secure a vote and force Congress to do its duty," he said.
  • From 12:30pm to 2:15pm, the Senate will recess to allow for the weekly caucus meetings; at 2:15pm, the chamber will begin 20 minutes of equally divided debate on the nomination of Kevin Hassett to be Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA). At about 2:35pm, the Senate will hold a confirmation vote on Hassett.
  • The nominee is a leading right-wing tax expert, currently employed by the conservative American Enterprise Institute. He was also a top economic adviser to the presidential campaigns of Republican nominees George W. Bush, John McCain, and Mitt Romney. According to CNN, Hassett is seen as a moderate Republican, more aligned with National Economic Council director Gary Cohn and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin; the nominee's immigration stance has earned him opposition from Breitbart and other pro-Trump forces, the New York Times reported.
  • Hassett's nomination was advanced by the Senate Banking Committee in June, supported by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and other progressive Democrats and opposed only by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). The CEA chairman was a Cabinet-level position during the Obama Administration, suffering a demotion upon President Trump's entrance into office.
  • Hearing schedule Also today: the House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing to "examine additional steps to exert maximum pressure on North Korea," a day after the United Nations Security Council voted unanimously to impose its toughest sanctions yet on Kim Jong Un's regime.
  • And... the Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on health care, a day before dueling bills on the issue are set to be unveiled: a "Medicare For All" proposal from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and a state-based Obamacare replacement from Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

The Rundown (pt. 2)

  • 2018 Another moderate House Republican announced plans to retire on Monday, following announcements last week from Reps. Dave Reichert (R-MI) and Charlie Dent (R-PA). Rep. Dave Trott (R-MI) joined them on Monday, handing Democrats another prime pick-up opportunity. (RCP)
  • Charlottesville The Senate on Monday unanimously passed a resolution condemning "the violence and domestic terrorist attack that took place" in Charlottesville, Virginia last month. (Washington Examiner)
  • National debt After President Trump signed a bipartisan deal raising the debt limit on Friday, the U.s. national debt reache $20 trillion for the first time ever, the Treasury Department announced on Monday. (CBS)
  • Iran President Donald Trump "is weighing a strategy that could allow more aggressive U.S. responses to Iran's forces, its Shi'ite Muslim proxies in Iraq and Syria, and its support for militant groups." (Reuters)
  • Media Laura Ingraham is expected to become host of the 10pm hour on Fox News, cementing a shift in the network's lineup. Ingraham, a conservative radio host and Fox contributor, has been mulling a run for Senate against Tim Kaine (D-VA) next year and has also been long rumored as a contender for a post in the Trump White House. (CNN)
  • DACA California, Maine, Maryland, and Minnesota filed a lawsuit on Monday attempting to block President Donald Trump from rescinding the Deferred Action for Child Arrival (DACA) program, bringing the total of states suing the Administration over the move to 19. (BuzzFeed)
  • Palace intrigue Attorney General Jeff Sessions "has told associates he wants to put the entire National Security Council staff through a lie detector test to root out leakers." (Axios)