6 min read

Wake Up To Politics - September 4, 2019

I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Wednesday, September 4, 2019. 62 days until Election Day 2019. 152 days until the 2020 Iowa caucuses. 426 days until Election Day 2020. Have comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at gabe@wakeuptopolitics.com.

Pentagon approves diversion of military construction funds for Trump's border wall

The Pentagon is moving forward with plans to divert $3.6 billion in military construction funds to build President Donald Trump's proposed border wall, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in a letter to key congressional committees on Tuesday. The move, a result of President Trump's national emergency declaration in February that cleared the way for federal funds to be used for the border wall's construction over lawmakers' objections, will cause 127 Pentagon projects to be delayed or suspended.

Esper said in his letter that the funds will go to 11 military construction projects along the U.S.-Mexico border, which "are necessary to support to the use of the armed forces in connection with the national emergency" and "will reduce the demand for DoD personnel and assets at the locations where the barriers are constructed and allow the redeployment of DoD personnel and assets to other high-traffic areas on the border without barriers."

According to The Washington Post, Defense Department officials will today begin notifying lawmakers who represent districts where military construction projects will be delayed because of the diversion of funds; about half of the $3.6 billion will reportedly be taken from projects overseas, while half will be taken from projects in the United States.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said Tuesday that Esper told him some of the money will come from planned projects taking place at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. "It is a slap in the face to the members of the Armed Forces who serve our country that President Trump is willing to cannibalize already allocated military funding to boost his own ego and for a wall he promised Mexico would pay to build," Schumer said in a statement.

The Rundown

A North Carolina court threw out the state's Republican-drawn legislative districts on Tuesday, ruling that the map was an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. The decision came in a unanimous ruling by a three-judge panel in Raleigh, just months after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that "partisan gerrymandering claims present political questions beyond the reach of the federal courts," leaving it to state judges to rein in the practice of drawing legislative districts to favor one political party. The North Carolina judges said in a 357-page ruling that the state's current legislative maps "do not permit voters to freely choose their representative, but rather representatives are choosing voters based upon sophisticated partisan sorting." The state legislature will now be required to draw new maps, without "partisan considerations." The leader of the North Carolina state Senate, a Republican, blasted the decision but said the legislature would not appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) announced Tuesday that he will stay in the Senate and not run for governor of West Virginia. Manchin had been publicly considering challenging Gov. Jim Justice (R-WV) in 2020 to reclaim the job he held from 2005 to 2010. Recent polling showed Manchin may have been able to defeat Justice, but such a move would likely have surrendered his Senate seat after just winning another six-year term in a hard-fought battle in 2018. Manchin, one of the few bipartisan dealmakers left in the Senate, said in a statement that remaining in Congress would allow him to "be the most effective for the Mountain State."

Vice President Mike Pence defended his decision to stay at a Trump-owned golf club in Doonbeg, Ireland, in comments to reporters about the controversy on Tuesday. Pence said staying at the club was "logical" because it is "a fairly small place" that could "accommodate the unique footprint that comes with our security detail and other personnel," even though it was about an hour's drive away from his official meetings in Dublin the next day. (Pence also said he had wanted to visit Doonbeg, where his great-grandmother once lived and he still has distant cousins, anyway.) However, according to Politico, the idea that staying at Trump resorts was logistically easier for law enforcement "prompted some eye rolling in the Secret Service community." Pence's chief of staff Marc Short said Tuesday that the vice president stayed at the golf club at President Trump's "suggestion," but aides for the vice president clarified later in the day that it was "solely a decision by the Office of the Vice President" and "at no time did the president direct our office to stay at his Doonbeg resort." Democrats have accused the VP of using taxpayer dollars to enrich the president by staying at the resort on a government trip.

Do you like Wake Up To Politics? Share it with your colleagues, friends, and family! Please forward this newsletter and tell them to subscribe at wakeuptopolitics.com.

Today at the White House

--- At 11:30 a.m., President Trump receives an update on Hurricane Dorian, as the storm inches toward Florida after devastating the Bahamas. At 12:45 p.m., he has lunch with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. At 2:15 p.m., he participates in the announcement of state opioid response grants.

--- Vice President Pence travels to Iceland today. According to the White House, he will use the trip to "highlight Iceland’s strategic importance in the Arctic, NATO’s efforts to counter Russian aggression in the region, and opportunities to expand mutual trade and investment."

At 10 a.m., he and Second Lady Karen Pence have coffee with Icelandic President Gudni Johannesson and his wife Eliza Reid. At 10:30 a.m., the vice president participates in a roundtable discussion on U.S.-Iceland trade and investment. At 11:35 a.m., he tours the Hofdi House, the location of the 1986 summit between President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. At 1:20 p.m., Pence participates in a briefing on North Atlantic security. At 2:45 p.m., he participates in a bilateral meeting with Icelandic Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir. The Pences will then depart Iceland for the United Kingdom.

Today on the trail

--- Ten Democratic presidential candidates will participate in a seven-hour "Climate Crisis Town Hall" event on CNN tonight. The network only invited candidates who met a certain polling threshold. The contenders who will participate are: former HUD Secretary Julián Castro (5 p.m.), entrepreneur Andrew Yang (5:40 p.m.), California Sen. Kamala Harris (6:20 p.m.), Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar (7 p.m.), former Vice President Joe Biden (8 p.m.), Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (8:40 p.m.), Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (9:20 p.m.), Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg (10 p.m.), former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke (10:40 p.m.), and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker (11:20 p.m.).

A number of the candidates have unveiled new climate plans ahead of the town hall. Warren announced on Tuesday that she would adopt former presidential candidate Jay Inslee's 10-year climate plan, a $3 trillion investment in combatting global warming. Harris and Buttigieg both released climate plans this morning; the former's $10 trillion plan would aim to establish the U.S. as a carbon-neutral economy by 2045, while the latter's $1.1 trillion proposal calls for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Booker, Klobuchar, and Castro have also unveiled climate plans in recent days.

--- While in New York City for the climate town hall, Biden will also tape an episode of CBS's "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert," his first appearance on late-night television since launching his presidential bid.

--- Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) travels to South Carolina, touring Clafin University at 10 a.m. and South Carolina State University at 11 a.m., and then holding an event in Columbia at 4 p.m.

--- Former Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) campaigns in Iowa, participating in the Iowa Caucus Consortium's Candidate Forum Series at 7:30 a.m. and addressing groups of local Democrats in Des Moines at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m.

--- Spiritual author Marianne Williamson visits Nevada, holding an event at the University of Nevada - Las Vegas at 3:30 p.m. and another at the Las Vegas Enlightenment Center at 10 p.m.


--- In the ninth paragraph of the "2020 Central" section in Tuesday's newsletter, while discussing general election polling, I mistakenly left out a few important words that made the sentence very unclear.

The sentence should have read: "Looking ahead to the general election, President Trump trails his potential Democratic challengers in recent polls by 'a historically large margin,' as CNN points out..."

My apologies for the misunderstanding, and thanks to the readers who pointed the error out!

*All times Eastern