Thursday's HOT MIC
Good Thursday morning.
Here's what is on the president's agenda today:
- The president has lunch with the secretary of defense
- President Trump meets with the secretary general of NATO
- The president participates in an expanded bilateral meeting with the secretary general of NATO
Lots of jibber-jabber on the RUSSIA-collusion front
As you read stories about the Trump Tower transcripts, remember that Natalia Veselnitskaya (RUSSIAN) was a client of Fusion GPS, the firm responsible for the salacious and unverified dossier. Remember that Glenn Simpson met with Veselnitskaya right before and after the Trump Tower meeting. Crazy coincidence, right?
Senate releases interview transcripts from Trump Tower investigation. Read them at the link.
Miscellaneous RUSSIA-collusion roundup
The New York Times has an awful, biased, misleading story: Code Name Crossfire Hurricane: The Secret Origins of the Trump Investigation. The piece is really a propaganda/PR piece for the intelligence community, extolling their virtues and how they toiled and battled with ethical dilemmas over the Clinton and Trump investigations. Gimme a break. It's so obvious an attempt to get out in front of whatever will be revealed in the IG report.
Yesterday we learned the FBI acknowledged it can't indict a sitting president because they want you to know that they would indict Trump but they can't. Of course we have no evidence of any crimes that Trump would be indicted for, yet CNN reports its wishcasting:
That conclusion is likely based on longstanding Justice Department guidelines. It is not about any assessment of the evidence Mueller's team has compiled.
A lack of an indictment would not necessarily mean the President is in the clear. Mueller could issue a report making referrals or recommendations to the House of Representatives.
They ignored the offer, but ABC News left that out of the headline: Russian social media giant offered pro-Trump effort during campaign
Senate passes net neutrality
Senate Democrats approved a measure to quash the Federal Communications Commission's plan to overturn so-called net neutrality rules.
But major hurdles still face supporters of net neutrality, the principle that Internet Service Providers should give consumers access to all legal content and applications on an equal basis, not favoring some sources or blocking others.
Three Republicans crossed over to vote with the Democrats to drag the bill the across the finish line: Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine; Sen. John Kennedy, R-La.; and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. Thanks, guys.
Because it's campaign season, elected officials shun voting on anything "controversial" and start acting on legislation they think will gain them favor with their voters.
By forcing a public vote on the issue — one that's popular with voters — Democrats hope to hike pre-midterm election pressure on enough lawmakers to gain a majority in the House. Passage in the Senate would “send a clear message to American families that we support them, not the special interest agenda of President Trump and his broadband baron allies," said Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., who sponsored the CRA resolution.
And speaking of making stupid legislative moves during campaign season...
More GOPers sign on to DACA after Ryan tells them not to
So far, 20 Republicans have signed on to the bill. Only five more are needed to force a vote.
Two more Republicans signed on to a measure that would force an immigration vote in the House just hours after Speaker Paul Ryan urged his colleagues not to in a closed-door meeting Wednesday.
The momentum of the petition, paired with threats from conservatives to cause problems if the effort continues to move, prompted House leadership to summon both key moderate and conservative members to meet in Ryan's offices with the full GOP leadership team Wednesday evening. But the issue remained far from resolved.
If you are unaware of what's going on with this DACA bill and if you thought the GOP was in charge of the House, let me help you out:
A group of moderate Republicans are backing a plan to bypass GOP leaders by forcing a floor vote on four competing bills to preserve the Obama-era DACA program, which protected young undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children. Trump has decided to end the program, though it's currently tied up in the courts.
The move, called a discharge petition, now has 20 Republican supporters. When Katko and Trott signed during the first vote series of the day -- which is the main opportunity that lawmakers have to sign by hand the petition kept on the House floor -- Republican petition backers, California's Jeff Denham and Curbelo, were seen walking the floor, talking to members and each other.
"Obviously we do not agree with discharge petitions. We think they're a big mistake -- they dis-unify our majority," Ryan said. "We want to advance something that has a chance of going into law where the President would support it."
Your daily WTF
Historical picture of the day:
And that's all I've got, now go beat back that angry mob!
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Annunciata d'Alesandro, aka Nancy Pelosi, aka Maerose Prizzi, the once (and future?) speaker of the House:
I was surprised by this:
I really expected a lot of anti-Trump wishcasting (Can you blame me?) in the article but it's a pretty good assessment of why Kennedy might stay.
On May 15th, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma found in favor of four Christian universities in the state, in a consolidated case known as Southern Nazarene University v. Azar.
For five years, the four universities (Southern Nazarene University, Oklahoma Wesleyan University, Oklahoma Baptist University, and Mid-America Christian University) had been seeking the ability to operate according to their Christian, pro-life beliefs. The case had been originally filed with the same federal district court as Southern Nazarene University v. Sebelius.
The contraceptive mandate was dealt a blow by the court — but not merely with regard to the four universities, which are permanently protected. The ruling also found that the mandate is in violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which was part of the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion when ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Woods.
Who knows how long it will take to undo the Obamacare plague. The Republican majority in Congress can't make it happen (Thanks Maverick!) but with time and the president's loading of the courts with non-activist judges, sanity and freedom will creep back into the American way of life.
Some Republicans must have a death wish this election year. A bunch of "moderates" (moderate compared to who?) want to bring a bill to the floor to legalize DACA recipients and are just 5 votes short of getting a discharge petition to bypass the leadership and bring it to the floor.
What's called a discharge petition -- a rare procedural move that bypasses the committee and leadership process to put a bill directly on the floor (more on that below) -- is that close to reaching the number of Republicans that would be needed, assuming all Democrats sign on as well. A floor vote on a series of immigration bills would likely result in the passage of a bill that would offer DACA recipients a path to citizenship along with a package of border security funding and policy changes.
The effort has gotten so close that it is spooking leadership and conservatives, who are seeking ways to fight back that only further put pressure on House leadership.
This is where the immigration battle is as of Thursday:
There is no chance the senate will even take up an immigration bill this year and Trump will almost certainly veto such a measure.
So why bother?
Moderates are tired of being promised a vote they still haven't had and it's moderates who feel like their jobs will be on the line in November if they don't do something. Rep. Mike Coffman, a moderate with a large Latino population in Colorado, said for example he's just tired of being patient.
This is a big deal because Republican leadership in the House is finally having to reckon with immigration, an issue that deeply divides their party and could become a liability for them in the midterms.
The party as a whole is apt to lose more votes by even taking up the issue than leaving it be. Republicans are going to need every one of their voters to make the effort to vote if they are going to hold on to the House.
Bringing an immigration issue to the floor -- especially DACA -- will be seen as another betrayal by conservatives. How many will stay home as a result is anyone's guess but it could conceivably cost the GOP a few seats.