McConnell, Ryan warn Trump about government shutdown
Here are the stories our D.C. insiders are talking about in this week’s “Inside Politics” forecast, where you get a glimpse of tomorrow’s headlines today.
1. Averting a shutdown?
Republicans on Capitol Hill are worried about a pre-election government shutdown in October, and are trying to convince President Donald Trump it’s not a fight he wants.
CNN’s Phil Mattingly reports budget talks were the main topic last week when Trump met with House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. They told him that so far, negotiations with Democrats are going well.
“They’re moving forward, and one of the primary reasons Ryan and McConnell met with the president was basically to say, please don’t shut down the government,” Mattingly said. “One of the pitches McConnell made was, you don’t want to step on the Kavanaugh nomination, since that should be around the time he gets confirmed.”
Mattingly said sources told him the president seemed open to that argument. “But,” Mattingly warned, “everything can change based on a tweet.”
Sure enough, just minutes after Mattingly’s report on CNN, the president tweeted, he “would be willing to ‘shut down’ the government” unless Democrats give in to his demands on immigration.
2. Democrats set to meet with Kavanaugh
The Supreme Court fight enters a new phase this week, with nominee Brett Kavanaugh scheduled to meet with his first Senate Democrat — West Virginia’s Joe Manchin.
CNN chief national correspondent John King reports sitdowns with Indiana Democrat Joe Donnelly and North Dakota Democrat Heidi Heitkamp are coming up too.
“Manchin, Donnelly, and Heitkamp, of course, are the three Democrats — the only three — who backed Neil Gorsuch, and they’re the top White House targets now.”
So will they vote for Kavanaugh too?
“The Democratic base wants Chuck Schumer to hold the line, but Manchin, Donnelly, and Heitkamp are all up for re-election in states that went huge for President Trump,” King said. “Plus there is this wrinkle: Donnelly and Heitkamp are also among the farm state lawmakers not happy with the president’s trade tariffs. On the surface, that has absolutely nothing to do with Brett Kavanaugh, right? Unless your research shows voters will understand some fights with the president … But not too many.”
3. Fight for Kavanaugh documents
Meanwhile, behind the scenes Senate Democrats are pushing for the release of millions of documents from Kavanaugh’s time in the George W. Bush White House. They say they want to apply the same standards Republicans have demanded of Democratic nominees.
“That’s a big fight,” New York Times reporter Michael Shear said. “But watch for another, less-noticed fight over the trove of documents that the National Archives has of the time Kavanaugh spent working for Ken Starr.”
Shear said there are thousands of documents — and the National Archives says it could take years to release them. “Democrats on Capitol Hill are obviously going to want those documents sooner,” he said.
4. Supreme Court ad spending
While that fight goes on behind the scenes, a pro-Kavanaugh group is planning a $1.5 million ad buy to support the nominee, the Federalist’s Mary Katharine Ham reports.
“It’s targeting West Virginia, North Dakota, Indiana and Alabama,” Ham said. “There are poll numbers from those states of double digits in favor of confirming, which is going to make things a little bit more awkward for red-state Democrats who might want to vote against Kavanaugh. And Mitch McConnell will be not-too-hesitant to make it as uncomfortable for them as possible.”
5. New round of Iran talks?
Months after Trump announced the U.S. would withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, sanctions are set to snap back into place in September. CNN’s Abby Phillip reports the White House is watching the reaction very closely.
“The Trump administration believes that there are protests on the ground that are a response to the economic pressure,” Phillip said. “Trump would love for Iran to come back to the table, negotiate a new deal that he thinks is better than the old Iran deal.”
Phillip said time is of the essence — the administration is worried about rising oil prices as a result of the sanctions. “I think the administration officials are quite skeptical that Iran is going to do all the various things that they’ll need to do to get back to the table. But the president believes his threats this month against Iran will put pressure on them.”