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Wake Up To Politics - September 15, 2017

I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It's Friday, September 15, 2017. 417 days until Election Day 2018. 1,145 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!

Developing Now: London Terror Attack

At least eighteen individuals were injured in an explosion on the London Underground this morning. Police are treating the blast as a "terrorist incident." President Donald Trump has already weighed in on Twitter, calling for "loser terrorists" to be "dealt with in a much tougher manner." Trump also tweeted about his "travel ban," saying it "should be far larger, tougher and more specific-but stupidly, that would not be politically correct!" In an additional tweet, the President included a hit at his predecessor, claiming "we have made more progress in the last nine months against ISIS than the Obama Administration has made in 8 years."

Deal or No Deal? (Part Two)

  • Confusion persists in Washington as talks continue between President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats over protections for so-called "DREAMers," illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States at a young age. It remains unclear where the negotiations stand, with both parties unsure of what Trump's next move will be.
  • "We're working on a plan for DACA,' the President told reporters on Thursday, referring to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, an Obama-era action his Administration rescinded last week but is now attempting to enshrine into legislation. Trump added that he and lawmakers are "fairly close" to an agreement, insisting that House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) are "very much on board," despite being shut out of a Wednesday night dinner with Trump and Democratic leaders.
  • House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) emerged from the dinner declaring victory, releasing a joint statement announcing that the framework of an agreement had been reached, to pass "DREAMer" legislation in exchange for increased border security funding. The two Democrats said the agreed-upon package would not include funding for the President's signature promise, a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border.
  • The White House denied that claim, but Trump seemed to confirm it on Thursday, saying the deal must include "massive border security" — but "the wall will come later." Later, he said that an agreement on the wall would have to come before a DACA bill is passed; Trump also said that the legislation would include a path to citizenship for "DREAMers."
  • Deputy White House press secretary Lindsay Walters insisted in a press gaggle on Thursday that "there was no deal made" at the Pelosi/Schumer dinner, simply "constructive conversation on how to move forward." Walters added that Trump spoke to Ryan and McConnell on Thursday morning, shooting down rumors of a rift.
  • In a statement, McConnell placed the ball firmly in the President's court, saying: "We look forward to receiving the Trump Administration's legislative proposal as we continue our work" on immigration. Ryan echoed this sentiment, telling reporters Thursday if Trump throws his weight behind an immigration package that includes "security and enforcement," then "a majority of our members" will support it, "because our members support President Trump."
  • At least one reality has become crystal-clear in the past 48 hours of confusion: Trump enjoys working with the Democratic leaders much more than he does with the leaders of his own party. Trump's attempt to strike an immigration deal with Schumer and Pelosi comes one week after a meeting with the duo resulted in an unexpected fiscal deal.
  • The President, known for his signature bestseller "The Art of the Deal," was reportedly elated by the coverage of his agreement with the Democrats, calling both leaders later to celebrate. Again, Trump is likely pleased by news reports of his progress with Schumer and Pelosi — or "Chuck and Nancy," as he has called them — despite frustration from his own base of supporters. Trump has watched much of his legislative agenda, driven solely by Republican support and led by Ryan and McConnell, go down on flames on Capitol Hill the last eight months.
  • With Democratic support, the President has found quick results — as well as an easier camaraderie. Reports have abounded of the rapport between Schumer and Trump, two born-and-bred New Yorkers, a stark contrast to Trump's uncomfortable relationship with top Republicans, who he shares little in common with.
  • Schumer, for his part, provided a simple explanation on Thursday for his productive talks with a President he largely opposes. "He likes us," the Democrat was overheard saying on the Senate floor. "He likes me, anyway."
  • A new President Trump? Not so fast. Clearly, the President's latest deal-in-progress with the Democrats is another sign of his pivot towards a more bipartisan posture, announcing plans to work across the aisle on issues from immigration to tax reform (and maybe even health care) after finding his agenda stalled during months of working just with his own party.
  • But the same Donald Trump remains. The President was asked on Thursday about his meeting the day before with Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), who told reporters that he spoke at length with Trump on his response to Charlottesville. Trump seemed to double down on his controversial "both sides" remark, returning to a low point in his Presidency amidst what seems to be a high.
  • "You have some pretty bad dudes on the other side also and essentially that what's I said," Trump told reporters. "Now because of what's happened since then with Antifa, when you look at really what's happened since Charlottesville, a lot of people are saying and people have actually written, 'Gee, Trump may have a point.' I said there's some very bad people on the other side also."
  • For further proof, look no further than the President's Twitter feed, where he interrupted positive coverage of his dinner with Democrats on Wednesday to attack his favorite target. "Crooked Hillary Clinton blames everybody (and everything) but herself for her election loss," Trump said, referencing his former opponent's new memoir. "She lost the debates and lost her direction!"
  • NYT: Inside the Trump-Sessions relationship Trump's talks with Democrats on DACA is a further embarrassment to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who announced the Administration's opposition to the program just last week. The New York Times reported on Thursday that Sessions is staying in his job solely to achieve action on his pet issue, illegal immigration, a goal set back by Trump's latest moves.
  • The NYT story reported on the breakdown in relations between Trump and Sessions, after an Oval Office meeting in which the President blamed the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller on his Attorney General's recusal from the Russia investigation. Trump called Sessions an "idiot," provoking the Attorney General's resignation, which Trump declined on the advice of a number of aides. The Times said that Sessions had described the experience as his "most humiliating moment in decades of public life."

The President's Schedule

  • At 9:45am, President Donald Trump meets with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. They will likely discuss the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) renegotiations, which Ross is participating in. Ross said on Thursday that the U.S. wants NAFTA 2.0 to include a five-year sunset provision, which would require constant examinations of the deal. Mexico and Canda, the other nations in the trilateral agreement, have rejected that proposal.
  • At 10am, President Trump receives his daily intelligence briefing. At 11am, he speaks to Jewish leaders by telephone, continuing a presidential tradition of calling leaders of rabbinical groups ahead of the Jewish New Year, which will be celebrated next week. While Orthodox Jewish leaders are expected to take the call, four coalitions of Reform, Reconstructionist, and Conservative rabbis that normally participate in the call announced plans to decline the White House invitation in the wake of Trump's response to the violence in Charlottesville last month.
  • At 1pm, the President meets with Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Corker (R-TN). At the outset of the Trump Administration, Corker was a leading contender to be Secretary of State; the two have since had a falling-out, over Corker's comments in August that "the President has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability, nor some of the competence, that he needs to demonstrate in order for him to be successful."
  • At 2:05pm, President and First Lady Trump depart the White House for Joint Base Andrews, where they will arrive at 2:15pm. At 2:25pm, Trump participates in a demonstration by the air fleet of the joint base. At 3pm, Trump participates in a discussion with airmen. At 3:35pm, he delivers remarks to military personnel and families.
  • At 4:05pm, the President will depart D.C. for Morristown, New Jersey, where he will arrive at 4:55pm. Trump will then head for his Bedminster property, where he is set to spend the weekend.

Today in Congress

  • Neither house of Congress is in session today.