6 min read

Wake Up To Politics - September 14, 2017

I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It's Thursday, September 14, 2017. 418 days until Election Day 2018. 1,146 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!

Deal or No Deal?

  • President Donald Trump hosted the two top Democrats in Congress, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), at the White House for an unscheduled dinner on Wednesday. Over Chinese food and chocolate pie, the trio — who shook Washington last week after sealing a fiscal deal without the Republican leadership — discussed a range of issues, including the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, an Obama-era action that protects immigrants who arrived in the U.S illegally at a young age. The Trump Administration announced plans last week to end DACA in six months, putting pressure on Congress to pass a law legalizing the program in that time.
  • Schumer and Pelosi emerged from the dinner triumphant, terming the meeting "very productive" in a joint statement and announcing: "We agreed to enshrine the protections of DACA into law quickly, and to work out a package of border security, excluding the wall [along the Mexican border proposed by President Trump], that's acceptable to both sides."
  • The reaction was immediate: many Trump loyalists began to criticize the President for cutting a pro-immigration deal and abandoning his promised wall; Democrats began to celebrate victory on the issue; and reporters picked up where they left off last week, continuing to write stories on Trump's pivot to bipartisan deal-making.
  • Soon, the White House was pushing back. A White House official gave an anonymous statement to reporters calling the dinner "constructive" and a "positive step toward the President's strong commitment to bipartisan solutions for the issues most important to all Americans." White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders directly denied the parameters of a deal as announced by Democratic leaders: "While DACA and border security were both discussed, excluding the wall was certainly not agreed to," she tweeted.
  • This morning, President Donald Trump also weighed in on Twitter to clarify that "no deal was made last night on DACA," adding that "massive border security would have to be agreed to in exchange for consent" and ensuring supporters that "the WALL...will continue to be built."
  • But Trump also gave hope to Democrats in two additional tweets this morning. The President tweeted: "Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military? Really!...They have been in our country for many years through no fault of their own - brought in by parents at young age. Plus BIG border security."
  • Essentially, the President had explained the deal Democrats had announced on Wednesday night: protections to ensure so-called "DREAMers" can remain in the United States in exchange for increased border security.
  • But Trump's tweet defending "DREAMers" is, on its own, a pretty stunning rebuke of supporters in his own base, many of whom support removal of these individuals. Pro-Trump leaders were furious Wednesday night after news of a deal had been announced, some blaming the President and others pointing fingers at Republican leaders, who were not involved in the discussions. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) tweeted that if reporting of a DACA deal was correct, "Trump base is blown up, destroyed, irreparable, and disillusioned beyond repair. No promise is credible." The bannoner on the Breitbart News website, run by President Trump's former strategist Steve Bannon, was: "AMNESTY DON."
  • In a letter to House Democrats last night, Leader Pelosi explained the deal struck over dinner at the White House. "Hopefully, we can get this all done in a matter of weeks," she wrote. But now, with the White House denying a deal was made, it is unclear where bipartisan talks go from here, and if a breakthrough ever truly occurred last night.
  • One thing is certain: the exchange outlined by Schumer and Pelosi is one that Trump seems to be in favor of. As his tweets this morning show, reports have said for weeks that Trump has been uncomfortable ending DACA, and clearly hoped Congress would act on the issue before the program expired on his watch. According to accounts of the meeting, Trump even expressed openness to a DREAM Act-for-border security trade at a meeting with moderate lawmakers earlier Wednesday; according to attendees, the President said the border wall could be done separately.
  • White House legislative director Marc Short said on Wednesday night that no deal has been reached yet, calling the Democratic statement "misleading." However, he did underline that both sides agreed to address the issue "quickly," and that wall funding would not have to be tied to DACA legislation if it is included in another bill.
  • According to reports, President Trump liked the news coverage of his deal with Democrats last week, even calling Schumer after the fact to celebrate. And he seemed to enjoy going around Ryan and McConnell to get something done with Democrats, observing a difference in the drawn-out, months-long legislative failures that have come from his working with Republicans and the two-day turnaround between announcement and passage of the fiscal deal.
  • The question now: in light of conservative backlash, can Schumer and Pelosi get Trump back to where they say he was last night? And what role will McConnell and Ryan, who control the Senate and House floors, play in such an agreement? As ever in Trump's Washington, nothing is certain and all could turn in just a matter of minutes — or in less than 140 characters.

The Rundown

  • TAX REFORM "After meeting with moderate members of Congress on Wednesday, Trump said he expects wealthy Americans to be 'pretty much where they are' under a new tax plan – but it's possible their tax bills could increase. 'If they have to go higher, they'll go higher, frankly,' Trump told reporters after meeting with a group of Democratic and Republican House members who could hold the balance of power on close votes. Trump's comments could open another rift with Republicans, who oppose tax hikes. But Trump’s eagerness to strike a deal on tax reform may mean he’s willing to partner with Democrats." (USA TODAY)
  • IRAN "The Trump administration is poised to extend sanctions relief to Iran, avoiding imminent action that could implode the landmark 2015 nuclear deal. But the move expected Thursday comes as the White House seeks ways to find that Tehran is not complying with the agreement. President Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized the deal, but has yet to pull out of it. Trump is working against a Thursday deadline to decide whether to extend the sanctions waivers, which were first issued by the Obama administration." (AP)
  • RUSSIA "Michael G. Flynn, the son of President Donald Trump's former national security adviser, is a subject of the federal investigation into Russian meddling in the presidential election and possible collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign, according to four current and former government officials." (NBC)
  • CHARLOTTESVILLE "President Donald Trump will 'absolutely' sign a joint resolution by Congress condemning white supremacists, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday. The House and Senate this week passed legislation condemning last month’s fatal white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. The joint resolution, which urges Trump to 'speak out against hate groups that espouse racism, extremism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, and White supremacy,' heads to the president’s desk." (Politico)
  • STAFF SHAKE-UP "Hope Hicks, one of President Trump’s longest serving advisers working in the White House, was formally named communications director on Tuesday, a title that most accurately describes the role she has played for years. Ms. Hicks’ appointment was one of a handful announced. Mercedes Schlapp, a Republican strategist and former Fox News contributor, will become the senior adviser for strategic communications, adding a new senior staff member to the reshuffled communications team." (NYT)

The President's Schedule: Florida recovery tour

  • At 8am, President Trump departed the White House for Fort Myers Florida, where he will arrive at 10:40am.
  • At 10:55am, the President receives a briefing on Hurricane Irma relief efforts, before departing Fort Myers at 11:30am. His next stop will be Naples, Florida, where Trump "visits with individuals impacted by Hurricane Irma" at 12:10pm. After meeting with victims of the storm, Trump will depart Florida at 1:15pm, arriving back at the White House at 4pm.
  • Finally, at 7pm, the President and First Lady will host a reception and dinner for the White House Historical Association.

Today in Congress

  • Both houses of Congress are in session today. The Senate continues consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act, the annual defense policy bill. The House will continue consideration of the Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act, the so-called "minibus" spending package that combines eight of the twelve annual appropriations bills. The lower chamber is also scheduled to vote on the Criminal Alien Gang Member Removal Act.