Morning must reads for Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Good Wednesday morning from Salt Lake City. Today is the 158th day of the year. There are 207 days remaining in 2017. Today is the 139th day of Donald Trump’s presidency.

Utahns aren’t sure why President Trump fired James Comey. Bears Ears’ fate could be decided this weekend. Trump asked another intelligence official to pressure the FBI to back off the investigation into Flynn.

The clock:

  • 10 days until the Utah Republican 3rd District nominating convention at Timpview High School (6/17/2017).

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

  • 69 days until the 2017 Utah primary election (8/15/2017)

  • 153 days until the 2017 election (11/7/2017)

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

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

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

  • 1,245 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

Today’s political TL; DR –

  • NEW POLL: On the eve of former FBI Director James Comey‘s public testimony before Congress, Utahns are split over the reason President Donald Trump fired him. Some believe he was let go because Trump wanted to foil the investigation into Russia, while nearly the same number think he was fired because he wasn’t doing his job well [Utah Policy].
  • Utah Democrats will start deciding what to do with the allegations of sexual misconduct made against party chair candidate Rob Miller on Wednesday night. There’s a debate for the chair candidates on that evening as well, and some are threatening to disrupt it if Miller shows up [Utah Policy].
  • Without citing any sources, Rep. Mike Noel says federal officials will announce their decision on what to do with the Bears Ears National Monument. Noel thinks the monument size will be reduced, but it won’t be totally rescinded [Utah Policy].
  • The group pushing a mix of sales and income tax increases to better fund Utah’s schools officially launched their effort to put the proposal on the 2018 ballot [Utah Policy, Deseret News, Tribune].
  • The race for the Republican nomination in the special election to replace Rep. Jason Chaffetz got an unexpected jolt when a little-known candidate, Stewart Peay, had Ann Romney join him for a campaign event [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • Salt Lake County officials are urging their counterparts in Salt Lake City to up their efforts to clamp down on the problems in the Rio Grande area in downtown [Deseret News].
  • Top Salt Lake County administrators want the state to put up more money to pay for criminal justice reform because the changes are putting a tremendous strain on their resources [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • Mayors in Salt Lake County claim the process for allocating state road money is difficult to understand, and state leaders often play favorites with the funds [Tribune].

National headlines:

  • President Donald Trump will nominate former federal prosecutor Christopher Wray to be the new director of the FBI [New York Times].
  • ISIS has claimed responsibility for a pair of attacks in Tehran. It is believed to be the first time the Islamic state has carried out attacks inside Iran [Reuters].
  • President Donald Trump reportedly asked Dan Coates, Director of National Intelligence, to intervene in the FBI investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Coats is scheduled to testify before Congress on Wednesday [Washington Post].
  • Former FBI Director James Comey will testify before Congress on Thursday where he will reportedly say he never told President Trump he was not under investigation. That will contradict Trump’s claim that Comey told him that [CNN]. Meanwhile, the White House is looking for ways to undermine Comey’s credibility to lessen the impact of his testimony [Washington Post]. 
  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions reportedly offered to resign prior to President Trump’s overseas trip because of rising tensions between Trump and the A.G. Trump is reportedly upset over Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the probe into whether Russia interfered with the 2016 election [ABC News].
  • Former FBI Director James Comey told Attorney General Jeff Sessions that he did not want to be left alone in a room with President Trump ever again following the incident where Trump pressured Comey to back off the investigation into Michael Flynn [New York Times].
  • Some of his closest allies are warning President Donald Trump that it’s time to get off Twitter because his online missives are fueling chaos in the White House and giving ammunition to his foes [Bloomberg]. A new national poll shows most Americans agree that the President should abandon his use of the social media platform [Politico].
  • The ultra-right wing Freedom Caucus says Congress should cancel their August recess in order to work on tax reform and other legislative priorities [Politico].
  • President Donald Trump is now suggesting that he could pay for his proposed wall on America’s southern border by covering it with solar panels and using the electricity generated by them to cover the cost [Axios].
  • Texas Democrat Rep. Al Green is ramping up his campaign to impeach President Trump [Politico].
  • The number of reporters inside hallways in Washington has exploded during the Trump administration, which is posing problems for lawmakers and their staffers [Washington Post].
  • Schoolchildren are quoting President Trump to bully minority students and teachers are having difficulty stopping it [BuzzFeed].

On this day in history:

  • 1776 – Richard Henry Lee of Virginia proposed to the Continental Congress a resolution calling for a Declaration of Independence.
  • 1892 – Homer Plessy was arrested when he refused to leave a whites-only train car in New Orleans. (The case led to the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark “separate but equal” decision in Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896.)
  • 1965 – The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Connecticut law banning contraceptives.
  • 1998 – James Byrd Jr., a 49-year-old African-American man, was chained to a pickup truck and dragged to his death in Jasper, Texas.
  • 2001 – President George W. Bush signed a $1.35 trillion, 10-year tax cut into law.