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Wake Up To Politics - September 16, 2019

I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Monday, September 16, 2019. 50 days until Election Day 2019. 140 days until the 2020 Iowa caucuses. 414 days until Election Day 2020. Have comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at gabe@wakeuptopolitics.com.

2020 Democrats call for Kavanaugh impeachment amid new allegation

Democrats can't seem to get their message straight on whether the House is conducting an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. But some in the party moved this weekend to call for a new impeachment process to begin: against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

The renewed attention on Kavanaugh came after The New York Times published an excerpt of a forthcoming book on the justice by two Times reporters, which revealed a previously unreported claim of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh, in which "friends pushed his penis into the hand of a female student" at a drunken party in his freshman year at Yale. According to the excerpt, friends of the female student say she does not recall the episode, which was reportedly witnessed by Max Stier, who now runs a non-partisan organization in Washington, D.C.

The excerpt also included additional reporting on the claims of sexual misconduct that Kavanaugh faced during his rancorous confirmation process, from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez.

Several Democratic presidential candidates quickly seized on the new allegation; contenders who called for Kavanaugh's impeachment from the Supreme Court include South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former HUD Secretary Julián Castro, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX), and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). Other candidates called for additional investigation into Kavanaugh, but stopped short of demanding he be impeached, including former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

According to Axios, the new anti-Kavanaugh push is part of a Democratic plan to portray President Trump, Kavanaugh, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (D-KY) as "the three villains defining the three branches of government for the 2020 campaign."

President Trump was quick to defend his Supreme Court pick in light of the new allegation. "Brett Kavanaugh should start suing people for libel, or the Justice Department should come to his rescue," the president tweeted on Sunday. "The lies being told about him are unbelievable. False Accusations without recrimination. When does it stop? They are trying to influence his opinions. Can’t let that happen!"

Only 15 federal judges have been impeached in U.S. history, and just one Supreme Court justice: Samuel Chase in 1805.

The Rundown

Trump contemplates military response to Iran after Saudi oil attack: "President Trump said Sunday that the United States was prepared to respond to the devastating attacks on two oil installations in Saudi Arabia that halved the state oil company’s production output, while Iran rejected U.S. accusations that it was responsible."

"'There is reason to believe that we know the culprit,' Trump said in a tweet Sunday evening. He said the United States was 'locked and loaded depending on verification.'"

"Trump did not name Iran, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had on Saturday, or specify whether he was contemplating a military response. He said he was waiting to hear from the Saudis on 'who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!'"

"His administration was contemplating what U.S. officials characterized as a serious military response, though some in the Pentagon were said to be urging restraint. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. Trump met with Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper on Sunday afternoon." (The Washington Post)

Schiff accuses acting DNI of withholding whistleblower complaint: "Congressman Adam Schiff claimed on Sunday that the official who sits atop the intelligence community is rejecting a subpoena to turn over a whistleblower complaint in order to protect an even higher-ranking official, possibly a top administration official or even President Trump."

"'According to the director of national intelligence (DNI), the reason he's not acting to provide it, even though the statute mandates that he do so, is because he is being instructed not to. This involved a higher authority, someone above the DNI,' Schiff, who is chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said in an interview with CBS News' 'Face the Nation.'"

"Schiff had issued a subpoena Friday to Joseph Maguire, the acting DNI, alleging that he was unlawfully withholding the whistleblower complaint from the committee. A letter sent with the subpoena said that Maguire's office had 'improperly" cited the complaint's 'confidential and potentially privileged communications' as its reason for withholding it." (CBS News)

White House prepares gun violence proposal: The White House is "preparing to roll out its plan to reduce gun violence" this week, according to The Washington Post. But the details of the plan remain unclear, as President Trump has flitted in recent weeks between supporting an expansion of background checks on gun sales and skepticism. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) spoke to the president by phone on Sunday, insisting that any gun control proposal must "include the House-passed universal background checks legislation." The two Democrats also sought to appeal to Trump's love of theatrics and showmanship, promising to "join him for a historic signing ceremony at the Rose Garden" if the legislation passes the Senate, according to a joint statement. The White House described the conversation as "cordial," but underlined that the president "made no commitments" on background checks.

2020 Central: "Biden and Warren Avoid Direct Conflict — But for How Long?" (The New York Times)

--- "Biden allies attack Warren’s electability" (Politico)

--- "Texas congressman pulls endorsement from Castro to support Biden" (CNN)

--- "Sanders shakes up campaign leadership in New Hampshire" (Fox News)

--- Race for the Senate: "Ed Markey supporters urge Joe Kennedy III to stand down on primary bid" (CBS News)

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Today at the White House

--- At 11:45 a.m., President Trump participates in a credentialing ceremony for newly appointed ambassadors to Washington, D.C. At 2 p.m., he presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to former New York Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera, who is also a philanthropist and Trump supporter. Rivera is the 12th person Trump has awarded with the nation's highest civilian honor since taking office, seven of whom have been professional athletes.

At 3 p.m., he participates in a working visit with Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince of Bahrain. According to a White House statement, "the two leaders are expected to discuss maritime security, countering the threat from Iran, efforts to promote peace in the region, and counterterrorism."

The president will then travel to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he holds a campaign rally at 9 p.m. Trump is hoping to target New Mexico in 2020, despite the state's traditionally Democratic bent.

Today in Congress

--- The Senate convenes at 3 p.m. today. At 5:30 p.m., the chamber will hold a procedural vote advancing the nomination of John Rakolta, Jr., to be U.S. Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates. Rakolta is the CEO of Walbridge, a construction company, and a top Republican donor.

--- The House meets at 1 p.m. in a pro forma session, with no votes expected.

Today on the trail

--- Four Democratic presidential candidates will participate in the biennial Galivants Ferry Stump event in Galivants Ferry, South Carolina: former Vice President Joe Biden, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). The Galivants Ferry Stump, which dates back to 1876, is referred to by organizers as "the oldest traditional campaign speech event in the country," according to The Associated Press.

"The gathering is like a scene out of the South of days gone by," the AP reports, "with politicians glad-handing and visiting over the strains of music, clog dancing and the aroma of chicken bog, a Lowcountry dish of chicken, sausage and rice."

--- Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) headlines an event at 92nd Street Y in New York City.

--- Biden will also attend a fundraiser in Sullivan's Island, South Carolina.

--- Buttigieg will attend a number of other events in South Carolina: a breakfast event in Greenville, a meet and greet in Spartanburg, a town hall in Spartanburg, a field office opening in Columbia, and an event with the state Democratic Black Caucus in Hopkins.

--- Former HUD Secretary Julián Castro holds an event celebrating his 45th birthday with his twin brother, Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX), in San Antonio, Texas.

--- De Blasio will also attend a meet and greet in Andrews, South Carolina.

--- Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) holds a town hall in Indianola, Iowa.

--- Klobuchar will also participate in an event at College of Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina.

--- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) was scheduled to campaign in South Carolina, but has canceled events for today and Tuesday "in order to rest his voice."

--- Former Gov. Mark Sanford (R-SC), who is challenging President Trump for the Republican presidential nomination, campaigns in his home state of South Carolina, holding events in Greenville, Columbia, and Mount Pleasant.

--- Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) delivers a speech at Washington Square Park in New York City, near the site of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. Warren will unveil her new "Plan to End Washington Corruption,"  which would aim to limit the influence of lobbyists and improve public integrity rules for federal officials in all three branches of government.

--- Entrepreneur Andrew Yang holds a rally in Boston.

*All times Eastern