Morning must reads for Thursday, May 18, 2016

Good Thursday morning from Salt Lake City. Today is the 138th day of the year. There are 227 days remaining in 2017. Today is the 119th day of Donald Trump’s presidency.

Utahns disapprove of Donald Trump’s job performance. The fight between Gov. Herbert and the legislature is turning nasty. Robert Mueller tapped as special counsel to investigate Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election.

The clock:

  • 2 days until the Utah Republican State Convention (5/20/2017)

  • 30 days until the Utah Democratic State Convention at Weber State University (6/17/2017)

  • 173 days until the 2017 municipal elections (11/7/2017)

  • 249 days until the opening day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (1/22/2018)

  • 294 days until the final day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (3/8/2018)

  • 537 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)

  • 1,265 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

Today’s political TL; DR –

  • NEW POLL: President Donald Trump is not gaining any traction in Utah. 54% of Utahns say they disapprove of his job as president, while 45% say they approve of his job performance. Trump won Utah in November with 45% of the vote, so it looks like his base of support hasn’t grown at all [Utah Policy].
  • Most Utahns would like all voters, not just party delegates to pick the nominees in a special election to replace Rep. Jason Chaffetz. Most Utahns also say they would rather the process take longer in order for all voters to have a say [Utah Policy].
  • The fight between Utah lawmakers and Gov. Gary Herbert over the process to replace Rep. Jason Chaffetz if he steps down is getting nasty. Lawmakers are threatening to pass a number of changes to Utah’s election laws if Herbert refuses to call a special session so they can set the rules for a special election to replace Chaffetz [Utah Policy, Deseret News, Tribune].
  • Salt Lake County officials reportedly threatened to cancel the contract the Utah GOP had to rent the South Towne Expo Center in Sandy for Saturday’s GOP convention over an unpaid balance on their rental contract. Party Chair James Evans says the party will make good on the outstanding balance before the event [Utah Policy].
  • Sen. Orrin Hatch pushes back against the growing scandal engulfing the Trump administration saying the whole issue with Russia is “overblown” [Utah Policy].
  • LaVarr Webb says voters don’t want party delegates making important electoral decisions for them anymore [Utah Policy].
  • Rep. Jason Chaffetz wants fired FBI Director James Comey to testify before his House Oversight committee next week [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • Bombshell #1 – The Trump campaign was in contact with the Kremlin at least 18 times during the final months of the 2016 election [Reuters].
  • Bombshell #2 – Former national security adviser Michael Flynn told President Trump’s transition team he was under federal investigation for secretly working as a paid lobbyist for Turkey during the campaign. Trump hired him anyway [New York Times].
  • The Justice Department taps former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to head up the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election [Wall Street Journal].
  • President Donald Trump did not learn about Mueller’s appointment as special counsel until shortly after deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein signed the order [Politico].
  • The appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel could be President Donald Trump‘s “worst nightmare” [Politico].
  • The highly classified information President Donald Trump shared with Russian diplomats last week was ISIS operatives have figured out how to hide explosives in laptop batteries [USA Today].
  • House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said last summer he believed Donald Trump was on Vladimir Putin‘s payroll according to a tape of his remarks. House Speaker Paul Ryan immediately stopped the discussion and swore the other Republicans present to secrecy [Washington Post].
  • The upheaval in Washington has rattled global financial markets. The world’s 500 richest people have lost $35 billion on Wednesday alone because of the market volatility [Bloomberg].
  • Here’s an in-depth look at how Russian intelligence operatives used social media to influence the 2016 election [Time].
  • Boring but important. Federal immigration agents are arresting more than 400 immigrants a day, with the sharpest increase among non-criminals [Washington Post].
  • Denver emerges as a finalist to host the Outdoor Retailers Show which is leaving Salt Lake City [Denver Post].
  • Lawmakers are starting to do the heavy lifting on tax reform [Tribune].
  • Utah lawmakers are looking at making minor changes to Utah’s DUI law which lowered the threshold to .05%, lowest in the nation [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • Legislators take a hard look at a proposal to enact “ranked-choice voting” in some Utah elections [Tribune].
  • Salt Lake City officials discuss their plans to clean up crime in the Rio Grande District in downtown [Fox 13].
  • County officials are asking the legislature to put up more funds to help them pay for implementing the reforms from the 2015 criminal justice reform bill [Deseret News].
  • More Utah school districts are hiking salaries in order to attract and keep teachers [Tribune].

On this day in history:

  • 1804 – The French Senate proclaimed Napoleon Bonaparte emperor.
  • 1860 – The Republican Party convention in Chicago nominated Abraham Lincoln for president.
  • 1896 – The Supreme Court endorsed the concept of “separate but equal” racial segregation in Plessy v. Ferguson, a precedent that was overturned in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954.
  • 1980 – The Mount St. Helens volcano in Washington state erupted, killing 57 people.