Good morning. Here’s your Early Warning for Wednesday, 24 April 2019.
Politics & Governance
ThinkProgress justice editor Ian Millhiser was disappointed yesterday after he attended the hearing for the Supreme Court’s case on the citizenship status question for the 2020 Census. In a sign that the Supreme Court will again be split 5-4 in favor of upholding the citizenship question, Millhiser writes, “[Chief Justice] Roberts appeared unsympathetic to the challengers’ arguments — and he asked a handful of questions that suggest he will also back the Trump administration’s play.” (Analyst Comment: Although three lower courts rejected Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’ attempt to have the citizenship question added, the Supreme Court could well vote in favor of allowing it for the 2020 Census. This is one of the biggest developments for the Trump administration’s domestic policy, and will likely result not only in several blue states losing House seats during 2020-2021 redistricting, but also funding cuts to blue states. But this does come with the potential to generate protests and civil unrest. Democrats are angry that the government would inquire about citizenship status, warning that it will result in an inaccurate count because, as they say, many immigrants — some of whom are here legally — will refuse to answer the Census. And some progressive activists have called for illegally boycotting the Census. This will have profound implications for the country and add to Democratic fury against President Trump.)
The Trump administration is set to go toe-to-toe with Congress over subpoenas. In an interview with the Washington Post yesterday, President Trump said, “There is no reason to go any further [cooperating with investigations], and especially in Congress where it’s very partisan — obviously very partisan.” On Tuesday, the House Judiciary Committee issued a subpoena for former White House counsel Don McGahn, but the White House plans to ignore it. The House Oversight Committee issued a subpoena for another Trump administration official, Carl Kline, which White House officials also pushed back on. Kline was later held in contempt of Congress for not appearing. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has repeatedly said that he’ll follow the law when dealing with the Congressional subpoena of Trump’s tax returns, although there’s been little movement on that, too.
House Oversight Committee chairman Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) accused the Trump administration of lawlessness, saying, “Based on these actions, it appears that the President believes that the Constitution does not apply to his White House, that he may order officials at will to violate their legal obligations, and that he may obstruct attempts by Congress to conduct oversight.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi piled on, accusing the Trump administration of “stonewalling of the facts coming to the American people.”
(Analyst Comment: It’s difficult to say just where this is headed. Politico described this as “total war.” Speaker Pelosi and others have correctly framed the fight against Trump as an electoral issue heading into 2020; essentially saying, ‘Let the American People decide in November 2020.’ Pelosi also fears the unpopular move of impeachment and how it might harm the Democrats’ chances in 2020. Meanwhile, unfortunately for the GOP, the Trump administration is reinforcing a precedent and proving that Congress has little power to enforce subpoenas of administration officials. And, like many other things, Democrats will remember that once they get back into power. That said, there will be Congressional subpoenas for special counsel Robert Mueller and Attorney General Bill Barr, and I’ve seen where they could appear in May.)
In a Wall Street Journal opinion piece last week, Karl Rove writes, “… [Bernie] Sanders could be perceived as an agent of change. If he is the Democratic nominee, Mr. Trump’s task will be to convince Americans that a socialist turn would be a ruinous change. Based on Monday’s town hall, that won’t be as easy as Republicans may think. Mr. Sanders is a real contender.”
Far Left Daily
“What’s clear from this administration and frankly what’s clear throughout the entirety of his business practices is that they will lie, cheat, and steal. They will do anything to win. They have so eroded institutions of democracy… We won in 2018 across this country in historic manners, but I am very sober about the realities of the upcoming campaign.” – DNC Chair Tom Perez
“If liberal billionaires like Tom Steyer want to get more bang for their political bucks, they should consider taking a note from Rupert Murdoch and friends: Buying up media outlets and then sprinkling ideological propaganda into their regular programming is an effective way to influence political outcomes while turning a profit!” – Eric Levitz, writing at The Nation
“I think [President Trump’s] made it pretty clear that he deserves impeachment.” – Mayor Pete Buttigieg, running for president
Strategic/Defense Situational Awareness
North Korea’s Jim Jong-Un arrived in Vladivostok, Russia today for a meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin. The two will be discussing security issues on the Korean Peninsula, among other topics.
“Trump can run out the clock by taking a hardline position… The president thinks it’s in his political interest to keep the fight going, and make it harder for the Democrats to have a coherent message.” – Source familiar with the situation, as reported by Axios’