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What Now?! – 5/10/19

President Trump seemed to hedge a bit on his months-long chant of “no obstruction, no collusion,” saying that the redacted Mueller report revealed “essentially no obstruction” during a bill signing, TPM reports. Said Trump: “At the end of the testimony, no collusion. And essentially no obstruction.”

Meanwhile, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she agrees with House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler’s claim yesterday that the U.S. is in a “constitutional crisis” over the White House’s stonewalling of congressional oversight, Axios reports. Said Pelosi: “The administration has decided they are not going to honor their oath of office.”

She added that she will bring Attorney General William Barr’s contempt of Congress resolution to the floor when they are ready: “We’ll just see because there might be some other contempt of Congress issues that we want to deal with at the same time.”



“Alarm bells are starting to go off on Capitol Hill over a looming fight to fund the government and prevent a shutdown later this year,” The Hill reports.

“Though Congress has until the end of September to pass legislation preventing another funding lapse, lawmakers are sending up warning signs to their colleagues and the White House that they are heading toward a fall train wreck, with deadlines for raising the debt ceiling and preventing across-the-board budget cuts and the second shutdown of the year all in the same month.”


“President Trump is questioning his administration’s aggressive strategy in Venezuela following the failure of a U.S.-backed effort to oust President Nicolás Maduro, complaining he was misled about how easy it would be to replace the socialist strongman with a young opposition figure,” the Washington Post reports.

“The president’s dissatisfaction has crystallized around national security adviser John Bolton and what Trump has groused is an interventionist stance at odds with his view that the United States should stay out of foreign quagmires.”


“After a fight broke out, Alabama Senate on Thursday voted to table a controversial bill to criminalize abortions by making the act of performing a woman’s pregnancy a felony punishable by up to 99 years imprisonment,” the Washington Post reports.

“The bill, which appeared to pass by a vote of 23 to 6, was then tabled. Democrats shouted demands for a roll-call vote.” “The vote was then tabled until next week. The bill would be the most restrictive in the country and would impose what is in effect a near-total abortion ban.”



“U.S. authorities have seized a North Korean ship used to sell coal in alleged violation of international sanctions,” the Washington Post reports. “Justice Department officials confirmed the ship, the ‘Wise Honest,’ is approaching U.S. territorial waters.”

This was after “North Korea on Thursday fired at least one unidentified projectile from the country’s western area, South Korea’s military said, the North’s second weapons launch in the last five days and a possible warning that nuclear disarmament talks with Washington could be in danger,” the AP reports.

“The launch comes as U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun visits South Korea, and hours after the North described its firing of rocket artillery and an apparent short-range ballistic missile on Saturday as a regular and defensive military exercise.”


Members of President Trump’s inner circle are frustrated that the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee subpoenaed Donald Trump Jr., CNN reports.

“Those close to Trump are exasperated that Republican Sen. Richard Burr, in their minds, just handed Democrats a talking point. Multiple Republicans had coalesced around Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s talking point of ‘case closed’ in recent days, but now Democrats can argue that even members of the President’s own party don’t agree that all Russia inquiries should end immediately.”

“The subpoena was issued more than two weeks ago… and it compelled Trump Jr. to testify before the committee.”

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said Donald Trump Jr. should go to jail if he doesn’t comply with a subpoena to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee, The Hill reports. Said Blumenthal: “The subpoena should be enforced. If he refuses to obey it, he should be locked up.” He added: “There are no privileges for Donald Trump Jr. The son of the president doesn’t have any of those privileges.”



“President Trump was tickled Wednesday when an audience member at a Florida rally suggested shooting migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border,” USA Today reports. “Trump was bemoaning the legal protections afforded migrants and espousing the need for a border wall when he asked rhetorically, ‘How do you stop these people?’”

Someone shouted: “Shoot them!”

“The remark drew a chuckle from the president, who then shook his head, pointed in the audience member’s direction and said, ‘Only in the Panhandle you can get away with that statement. Only in the Panhandle.’”

Washington Post: “Though Trump didn’t explicitly endorse the suggestion to shoot migrants, his joking response raised concerns that he was tacitly encouraging extrajudicial killings and brutality against asylum seekers and undocumented immigrants.”



“In January the Supreme Court appeared poised to act on President Trump’s bid to end deportation protection for hundreds of thousands of young immigrants. Then the case disappeared,” Bloomberg reports.

“The case has become one of the many mysteries in a Supreme Court term that so far is defined less by the issues the justices have decided than by those they’ve deferred. The court has also put off taking action in cases involving abortion, same-sex wedding cakes and transgender bathroom access.”

“The delays have kept the court out of the some of the country’s most polarizing issues, at least during the nine-month term that ends in June. The court now faces the possibility of a massive 2019-20 term, issuing major decisions in the heat of the next presidential election campaign.”



Playbook: “Some extreme action — like launching impeachment proceedings against President Trump — is getting likelier by the day. It’s not overwhelmingly likely, but the vibe on Capitol Hill is getting worse: Democrats are angry that they are getting stonewalled. Republicans are angry that Democrats do not seem willing to let this go.”

“House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has handled the politics of impeachment well. She’s kept her foot hovering above the brake pedal, cognizant of the risk of immediate acceleration. She has kept her chairmen in line, kept her members mostly calm and her leadership on the same page. She even went to the White House with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to talk infrastructure, which showed Trump she’s not singularly consumed with oversight, but also interested in governing.”

“But the White House is doing practically everything it can to taunt Pelosi. Most administrations slow-walk document production; this White House is flat-out saying, ‘No, your oversight is overzealous, and we won’t participate in it.’ This is going to force Democrats to file lawsuits to obtain documents — lawsuits that even top Republicans privately concede Pelosi will win.”

“Trump seems to be daring Democrats to take the impeachment road. Talk people in his administration, and you’ll hear that all of this Hill saber-rattling is good for them. Impeachment is unpopular, they believe, and will help Trump in 2020.”


“Ahead of the second summit in Hanoi, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un requested as part of the agreement between the countries moving forward that the U.S. send ‘famous basketball players’ to normalize relations between the two countries,” ABC News reports.

“The request was made in writing, officials said, as part of the cultural exchange between the two countries, and at one point the North Koreans insisted that it be included in the joint statement on denuclearization. The North Koreans also made a request for the exchange of orchestras between the two countries.”



“In a highly unusual move, National Security Adviser John Bolton convened a meeting at CIA headquarters last week with the Trump administration’s top intelligence, diplomatic and military advisers to discuss Iran,” NBC News reports.

“The meeting was held at 7:00 a.m. on Monday, April 29, and included CIA Director Gina Haspel, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joe Dunford, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats.”

“National security meetings are typically held in the White House Situation Room… it is extremely rare for senior White House officials or cabinet members to attend a meeting at CIA headquarters.”



“The new hard line taken by China in trade talks—surprising the White House and threatening to derail negotiations—came after Beijing interpreted recent statements and actions by President Trump as a sign the U.S. was ready to make concessions, said people familiar with the thinking of the Chinese side,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“High-level negotiations are scheduled to resume Thursday in Washington, but the expectations and the stakes have changed significantly. A week ago, the assumption was that negotiators would be closing the deal. Now, they are trying to keep it from collapsing.”


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