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Week One: Getting Started

5/28/19: Plans and Primaries


Democratic candidate Joe Biden rolled out his education plan on Tuesday in a forum for the American Federation of Teachers’ union in Houston, Texas. While the plan covered a broad array of issues, Biden focused on lessening the gap between funding of majority white and non-white school districts by spending $45 billion on federal grants to low-income districts under the Title I program, which is almost triple the current level. Biden tweeted to emphasize the points he made in the forum, stating, “I’ve seen firsthand how hard teachers work with little support and few resources. We’ve got to do better. That’s why today, surrounded by America’s teachers, we laid out our plan for educators, students, and our future,” adding that “Our plan will increase teacher pay and provide them with the support they deserve. We’ll invest in all children from birth, so that regardless of their zip code, parents’ income, race, or disability they are prepared to succeed in tomorrow’s economy.”

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Democratic candidate for president Kamala Harris participated in an MSNBC town hall on Tuesday night in South Carolina. During the event, she answered questions ranging from the reproductive rights debate to immigration, but also emphasized the importance of the 2020 election cycle in terms of the democratic party’s power across both the executive and legislative branch. Harris stated that “2020 is about the White House, but it’s also about the United States Senate,” and that without the democratic majority in the Senate, the democratic party would struggle greatly with implementing their policies, which makes sense as any bill must pass both the house and senate before it is signed by the president and becomes a law. Harris also announced her campaign plan to restrict states from passing anti-abortion legislation, a topic that has become more widely discussed with controversial legislation over the past week. Harris’ plan includes a section in which states with a history of passing restrictive abortion laws would have to receive preclearance from the Justice Department to enact new abortion laws.

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In a tweet from Bill Weld, the Republican candidate for president described the growing desire on the GOP side to have a primary between the incumbent President Trump and any challengers: “43% of @Gop and GOP leaners want @POTUS to have a primary - and that number is growing. Voters deserve a better choice!” The poll was completed by Pew Research Center, and was administered to a sample of over 10,000 Republican or Republican-leaning voters. This 43% is a 6% increase from the last poll completed on the topic after the 2018 midterm elections. In an email released by veteran New York political strategist Bruce Gyory, “the mission of a primary challenge to Trump is not a fool’s errand.”

If you would like to read Gyory’s full email that was included on the article shared by Weld, click here


5/29/19: Mueller Address


On Wednesday, now former special prosecutor Robert Mueller addressed the findings and conclusions of his report to press at the Department of Justice. In his speech, Mueller described both the “concerted attacks” by Russia on the 2016 presidential election and specifically candidate Hillary Clinton, but also the obstruction of justice case of President Donald Trump:

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“As set forth in our report, after that investigation, if we had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said that. We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the President did commit a crime. The introduction to volume two of our report explains that decision. It explains that under long-standing Department policy, a President cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office. That is unconstitutional. Even if the charge is kept under seal and hidden from public view, that too is prohibited. The Special Counsel's Office is part of the Department of Justice and, by regulation, it was bound by that Department policy. Charging the President with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider.”

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Despite the inability for the Department of Justice to take action on their findings of the president, Mr. Mueller described that the opinion from the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) that set the precedent of prohibiting presidential charges also outlined a separate process (impeachment) for accusing the president of wrongdoing:

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“First, the opinion explicitly permits the investigation of a sitting President because it is important to preserve evidence while memories are fresh and documents are available. Among other things, that evidence could be used if there were co-conspirators who could now be charged.

And second, the opinion says that the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting President of wrongdoing.

And beyond Department policy, we were guided by principles of fairness. It would be unfair to potentially accuse somebody of a crime when there can be no court resolution of an actual charge.”

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For a full Transcript of Mr. Mueller’s address, click here

Presidential candidates and the president himself responded quickly to Mr. Mueller’s address:

In an interview with MSNBC, and in a twitter post, democratic candidate Pete Buttigieg stated in reference to Mueller’s address that “This is as close to an impeachment referral as it gets. Robert Mueller could not clear the president, nor could he charge him — so he has handed the matter to Congress, which alone can act to deliver due process and accountability.”

Other democratic candidates reiterated this point, with Kamala Harris stating that congressional process must begin to take its course. Fellow candidate Julian Castro stated his belief that it would be a “mistake” for congress not to begin his impeachment process for the president.

On a separate note, candidate Castro also described that his first executive order as president would recommit the United States to the Paris Climate Accord of 2015.

Republican candidate Bill Weld tweeted on the report as well, saying that “Today Bob Mueller reminded all Americans of why Donald Trump is not worthy of the Oval Office. Americans should have confidence that our President will always put the interest of America first and represent our highest standards. America deserves better.”

In response to the report, President Trump himself tweeted that “Nothing changes from the Mueller Report. There was insufficient evidence and therefore, in our Country, a person is innocent. The case is closed! Thank you.” President also tweeted an image of Press Secretary Sarah Sanders’ response to the Mueller address (image on right). President Trump also retweeted a statement from his campaign manager on the “spying” on his campaign by the previous administration (image on left).


5/30/19: Research Reporting and Candidate Updates


A new report from Pew Research Center found that Midterm voter turnout reached a modern high in the 2018 midterm elections. In specific though, the younger generations (generation Z, millennials, and Generation X) came out to vote in droves, with over 62 million of the total 120 million-plus votes falling within the category, surpassing the voting presence of Baby Boomers and prior generations who have held the majority of the vote for decades. Millenial turnout nearly doubled between 2014 and 2018.

Click here to read the whole story from Pew.

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In several Instagram posts, Democratic candidate Beto O’Rourke shared an outline of his plan for immigration. He commented that he would “use his executive authority to immediately remove the fear of deportation for dreamers… then begin work on a legislative solution.” O’Rourke met with community members in Dallas, Texas, where he discussed his “new vision of immigration.”

Candidate John Hickenlooper unveiled his plan to expand access to women’s contraception, specifically IUDs. Hickenlooper plans to base this national plan on that which he has implemented during his time as Colorado’s governor.

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On Thursday evening, President Trump tweeted that he plans on imposing new tariffs on Mexico in an effort to curb illegal immigration from the country.

The tweet read as follows: “On June 10th, the United States will impose a 5% Tariff on all goods coming into our Country from Mexico, until such time as illegal migrants coming through Mexico, and into our Country, STOP. The Tariff will gradually increase until the Illegal Immigration problem is remedied,..”

President Trump followed this tweet with a presidential statement where he detailed the specifics of the plan. Tariffs will be raised to 10% on July 1 “if the crisis persists,” and then by an additional 5% each month for three months, remaining at a maximum of 25% until Mexico acted, he said


5/31/19


Two Democratic candidates spoke with constituents in Nevada over the past few days. Amy Klobuchar discussed mental health care for veterans, posting an image from her meeting on instagram with the comment “we have to do more for those who have given so much.” Klobuchar has made addiction and mental health a priority of campaign. Cory Booker met with members of the Clark County Black Caucus and Black Student Union members to discuss the various issues surrounding this round of elections.

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Tragedy also marked the day on Friday, with a shooting in Virginia Beach leaving a dozen dead. Democratic candidates went out on social media to share their condolences, but also took the chance to discuss their hopes for gun reform in the future.

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Four Democratic candidates also attended an Immigration Forum in Pasadena, California on Friday, where they discussed their plans for immigration reform. Read more on what the candidates said here.

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President Trump tweeted on Friday that he would officially be announcing his second term presidential run on June 18th in Orlando, Florida. He will be accompanied by his wife and First Lady Melania Trump, as well as how Vice President Mike Pence. To commence national pride month, President Trump also took to Twitter to announce that he has launched a “global campaign to decriminalize homosexuality and invite all nations to join us in this effort!” This announcement comes on the heels of his administration’s decision to rollback legislation that protects transgender people from discrimination in healthcare and insurance coverage last week. Under the new rollback, healthcare discrimination against transgender would still be illegal, but not as strictly regulated.


6/1/19: Cali Convention and Social Media Visas


More than a dozen of the current Democratic presidential candidates will be making their way to California on Saturday to participate in the state party’s annual convention. With over 400 delegates, California is the largest stronghold for the democratic party. California senator and presidential candidate Kamala Harris kicked off the main event on Saturday, but fellow candidate Elizabeth Warren was noted as the speaker who “electrified the crowd the most,” repeatedly bringing voters to their feet following her pledges to action. Candidate Joe Biden is the only major candidate to not attend the event this weekend, instead taking his time to campaign in Ohio, a crucial swing state in the 2020 election. This is the largest gathering of presidential candidates thus far in the primary cycle.

Amid recent efforts to augment immigration-security measures, the State Department announced Saturday that it will now require nearly all applicants for U.S. visas to submit social media usernames, previous email addresses and phone numbers. By doing such, they hope to enhance the screening of potential immigrants and visitors to the country. Over 15 million foreigners apply for visas each year, but the department estimates that the new policy will affect 710,000 immigrant visa applicants and 14 million nonimmigrant visa applicants (those coming to the U.S. for business or education)

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Democratic candidate Jay Inslee participated in a climate strike on Saturday, commenting on Instagram “Young people are leading the way — adults would be smart to follow.” Inslee has framed much of his campaign around climate change.

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