Morning must reads for Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Good Wednesday morning from Salt Lake City. Today is the 102nd day of the year. There are 263 days remaining in 2017.

Hatch has a massive campaign war chest. Another Democrat steps up to take on Hatch. The FBI was monitoring a Trump advisor’s communications with Russian officials.

The clock:

  • 38 days until the Utah Republican State Convention (5/20/2017)
  • 66 days until the Utah Democratic State Convention at Weber State University (6/17/2017)
  • 209 days until the 2017 municipal elections (11/7/2017)
  • 285 days until the opening day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (1/22/2018)
  • 330 days until the final day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (3/8/2018)
  • 573 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 1,301 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

Today’s political TL; DR – 

  • Sen. Orrin Hatch has a whopping $3.5 million in the bank ahead of a possible run for an 8th term next year [Utah Policy].
  • Danny Drew,  another Utah Democrat hoping to unseat Hatch in 2018, says his experience as an educator gives him a unique perspective as a candidate [Utah Policy].
  • Somehow,’s online classified ads are more popular than Craigslist in Utah [Utah Policy].
  • It may take a few more weeks before former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman is officially named U.S. ambassador to Russia [Deseret News].
  • Sen. Mike Lee wants President Trump to get congressional approval before using the military to carry out humanitarian missions [Utah Policy, Deseret NewsTribune].
  • A new nationwide poll ranks Gov. Gary Herbert as the nation’s 9th most popular governor, while Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee are near the middle among all U.S. Senators [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • Two Utahns put up a billboard in Utah County slamming Rep. Jason Chaffetz for refusing to investigate the connections between the Trump administration and Russia [Tribune].
  • Bombshell! The FBI obtained a secret court order to monitor the communications of Carter Page, an adviser to then-candidate Donald Trump. This is the clearest sign yet that the FBI was concerned about ties between Trump campaign staffers and Russian officials [Washington Post].
  • Republicans and Democrats in Congress say they still have seen no evidence that the Obama administration did anything illegal or out of the ordinary during their investigation into possible ties between Trump campaign staffers and Russia [CNN].
  • The White House announces they will lift the federal hiring freeze implemented on day one of the Trump administration. Critics have complained that the hiring ban has hampered federal agencies from performing core functions [The Hill]. 
  • The White House plans to direct federal agencies to make deep cuts to personnel over the next year. The cuts include big reductions in domestic programs to offset an increase in military spending [Politico].
  • Here’s another sign that White House adviser Steve Bannon is in serious danger of losing his job. In an interview, Donald Trump kneecapped Bannon, who is said to be involved in a feud with Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. “I like Steve, but you have to remember he was not involved in my campaign until very late,” said Trump [New York Post].
  • In another interview, President Trump denies there are any plans to send troops into Syria to end the brutal civil war in that country. “We’re not going into Syria,” said Trump [Fox Business Channel].
  • Republicans hold on to a congressional seat in a deep red district in Kansas. There was some worry that Trump’s unpopularity would put that seat in play, prompting Republicans to make a last-minute push to win the special election [Washington Post].
  • White House spokesperson Sean Spicer is apologizing for a terrible gaffe in which he claimed that Adolf Hitler did not use chemical weapons during World War II [Politico].
  • The White House is claims Russia had knowledge that the Assad regime used sarin gas on its own people and is trying to help Syria cover it up [New York Times].

On this day in history:

  • 1861 – The Civil War began as Confederate forces fired on Fort Sumter in South Carolina.
  • 1945 – Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the longest-serving president in U.S. history, died of a cerebral hemorrhage at Warm Springs, Ga., three months into his fourth term. About 3 hours later, Vice President Harry S. Truman was sworn in as president.
  • 1961 – Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man to fly in space, orbiting the Earth once before making a safe landing.
  • 1981 – The space shuttle Columbia blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on its first test flight.
  • 1999 – U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright found President Bill Clinton in contempt of court for giving “intentionally false” testimony in a lawsuit filed by Paula Jones about his relationship with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.