WASHINGTON — Less than a week before President Donald Trump faces lawmakers for the first time at a Joint Session of Congress, he is trying to delegitimize protestors at Town Halls demonstrating against Representatives and Senators, accusing them of being “liberal activists.”
Your Wednesday at-a-glance briefing:
• Congress is on break this week and Trump is trying to downgrade protestors at Town Halls targeting GOP lawmakers.
• Trump’s new immigration policies trigger the potential of mass deportations – but he’s leaving Obama-era orders protecting DREAMers –youths in the U.S. illegally through no fault of their own – in place.
• Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly will be in Mexico City Wednesday for a meeting with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto. Trump has not sold Nieto on paying for his border wall.
There are multiple storylines percolating on this National Margarita Day; let’s start with Trump Wednesday morning Twitter posts:
“Very much enjoyed my tour of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture…A great job done by amazing people!” 6:50 Eastern Time
Backstory: The biggest news out of Trump’s Tuesday museum visit was Trump’s decision to denounce anti-Semitism, clearly and by name. That story got far more attention than his African American outreach.
Pressure was growing on Trump in the wake of his side-stepping questions at two press conferences last week about a wave of anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. since his inauguration. In the past few days almost 200 graves were vandalized at a Jewish cemetery in a St. Louis suburb and 11 Jewish Community Centers in the U.S. — including the Hyde Park JCC in Chicago — received bomb threats.
Trump condemned anti-Semitism as “horrible” and “painful.”
What is important are actions, as well as words: What actions will the Trump administration be taking? What will his Justice Department do about hate crimes?
By the way . . .
Daughter Ivanka, who was with him on the tour, beat her dad to the punch. Almost 12 hours earlier, she said in a Twitter post, “A very meaningful way to commemorate #AfricanAmericanHistoryMonth—visiting the @NMAAHC this morning. #Smithsonian #APeoplesJourney” 6:54 p.m. Eastern Time Feb. 22, 2017
DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIR BATTLE
“One thing I will say about Rep. Keith Ellison, in his fight to lead the DNC, is that he was the one who predicted early that I would win!” 6:20 a.m. Eastern Time
Backstory: Trump’s post comes as DNC members gather in Atlanta starting on Thursday to elect new officers at their Winter Meeting.
Trump’s praise for Ellison is based on the Minnesota Democrat’s prescient prediction that Trump would win – showing how Trump is still fixated on his election.
It won’t bolster Ellison in this insider contest which has ripened as a proxy fight between Obama/Clinton and Warren/Sanders wings of the Democratic Party.
Ellinson, the first Muslim elected to Congress, is the Warren/Sanders contender.
Former Labor Secretary Tom Perez is part of the Obama/Clinton faction.
South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is among the other contenders who want to shoot through, banking that neither Ellison or Perez can win on a first ballot. Buttigieg is favored by folks like Bill Daley and Howard Dean, a former DNC chair, who want a chairman aligned with neither wing.
All eight candidates will make their pitches this evening at a debate on CNN 10 p.m. Eastern Time hosted by Dana Bash and Chris Cuomo.
CONCERNS ABOUT MASS DEPORTATIONS, OBAMACARE
“The so-called angry crowds in home districts of some Republicans are actually, in numerous cases, planned out by liberal activists. Sad!” 5:23 p.m. Eastern Time Feb. 21, 2017
Backstory: Congress is out of session this week, with lawmakers, if they choose, back in their districts.
Meanwhile, a new travel ban executive order from Trump is expected at any time. Trump already issued orders to crack down in enforcing existing laws, triggering fears of massive deportations. A lot of folks are nervous.
Context: The Tea Party movement got its start at town halls protesting what became known as Obamacare. Democrats are trying to rebuild their party using the same technique to try to influence members of Congress as they head into, already, 2018 contests.
More context: Trump’s next big speech is Tuesday, when he address a Joint Session of Congress in the House chamber. It’s not called a State of the Union in the first year of a presidency because the theory is the new president needs more time to assess the state of the U.S.
Democrats will be free to hoot Trump at the speech. They can act as if they were rowdy members of the British Parliament. Trump has not played to a hostile crowd. Angry protestors at GOP members town halls may make them think twice about getting rid of Obamacare without a replacement.
With Congress needing a lot of attention, today Trump will discuss the federal budget with staffers and later hold a legislative affairs strategy session.
Trump’s Twitter post suggests the Democrats are stacking the deck against him at the town halls. They are trying to do just that.
The organizers may be paid to turnout out folks who will not get money to attend a protest or a town hall.
The Democratic Priorities USA Partners and Indivisible, a new group of Democratic organizers, just partnered on a project to influence the town halls.
There is a difference, however, between paid political organizers, and the people they organize to attend an event.
From a Priorities and Indivisible release last week: “In partnership with Indivisible, a grassroots group that has taken the lead in empowering citizen activists to attend town hall events across the country to hold their Members of Congress accountable, Priorities USA will launch a digital ad program to help ensure voters know about events during next week’s Congressional recess.
“The digital ads will run on social media, including Facebook, and across internet search engines. The ads will provide voters with information about events in their area. When a voter clicks on the ad, it will direct them to a landing page managed by Indivisible that asks the person to RSVP and provides information about how to prepare for the town hall and how to maximize their participation at the event. The ad targeting is designed to reach people mobilized by the organic protests that have sprung up on the left — by layering data gathered from our audience’s social media behaviors and ranking by their propensity to take an offline action.
“The upcoming recess week promises to provide even more scenes of grassroots activism by everyday citizens concerned about our country’s future,” said Guy Cecil, Priorities USA Chairman.”
TRUMP WEB SITES
CNN Money did the research and found “Trump has 3,643 websites that range from TrumpEmpire.com to TrumpFraud.org”