Morning must reads for Thursday, June 8, 2017

Good Thursday morning from Salt Lake City. Today is the 159th day of the year. There are 206 days remaining in 2017. Today is the 140th day of Donald Trump’s presidency.

A ballot initiative aims to establish an independent redistricting commission in Utah. Protesters drive a Utah Democratic Party chair candidate out of a public forum. Comey set to testify before Congress.

The clock:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • 1,244 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

Today’s political TL; DR –

  • A Utah good government group wants to put a proposal to create a seven-person independent redistricting commission on the 2018 ballot. The commission wouldn’t take power to draw political boundaries away from the Legislature. Instead, they would act as a sort of advisory committee for lawmakers [Utah Policy].
  • Protesters force Rob Miller, a candidate for Utah Democratic Party Chair, out of a candidate forum on Wednesday night. Seven women have accused Miller of sexual misconduct [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • If you look past the sideshow in the race for Utah Democratic Party Chair, the candidates really aren’t putting forward a whole lot of new ideas [Utah Policy].
  • Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams calls for County Recorder Gary Ott to resign. There are growing concerns that he is unable to handle the duties of his office [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • Rep. Chris Stewart says he hasn’t seen enough evidence to determine if President Trump obstructed justice by hampering the Russia investigation [Utah Policy].
  • There’s an impasse between Salt Lake City police and the city in negotiations over how big of a raise police officers will get next year. Mayor Jackie Biskupski budgeted for a 1% increase while the police union wants a 4.5% raise [Tribune].
  • Another candidate to replace Rep. Jason Chaffetz drops out, leaving 20 people vying for his seat in November’s special election [Deseret News].
  • 20 people have filed to run for the four Salt Lake City Council seats up for election this year [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • Joe Darger, who is a polygamist with three wives, is running for Mayor of Herriman [Tribune].
  • The days of tax-free online shopping in Utah are coming to an end [Deseret News].
  • The newly created United Utah Party will hold their first-ever convention on Saturday, June 17 [Utah Policy].
  • Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke suggests the National Park Service privatize some services, including campgrounds, to help reduce the $11 billion backlog of maintenance projects [Utah Policy].

National headlines:

  • Thursday is the day former FBI Director James Comey testifies before Congress [Politico].
  • Comey released his prepared statement for the Senate Intelligence Committee a day early, which detailed pressure by President Donald Trump to back off the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election [Wall Street Journal]. 
  • Yikes! Benjamin Wittes says Comey’s prepared statement is the “most shocking single document compiled about the official conduct of the public duties of any President since the release of the Watergate tapes” [Lawfare Blog].
  • There is a real danger that Comey’s testimony on Thursday could turn Congressional investigations toward whether President Trump obstructed justice in the Russia probe [Washington Post].
  • National Intelligence Director Dan Coats and National Security Agency Director Adm. Mike Rogers would not answer questions from the Senate Intelligence Committee about whether President Donald Trump tried to influence the investigation into Michael Flynn‘s contacts with Russia [Wall Street Journal].
  • Aides to President Donald Trump are urging him to keep Jeff Sessions as Attorney General despite the president’s growing frustration with sessions [Reuters].
  • Senators are considering leaving some Obamacare taxes in place as a way to pay for the plan to repeal the healthcare law [Politico].
  • The Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C. has turned into the new power spot in the nation’s capital for politicians and dealmakers [Time].
  • British voters head to the polls on Thursday with control of Parliament at stake [Washington Post].
  • North Korea fired several anti-ship cruise missiles into the waters between that country and Japan [Wall Street Journal].

On this day in history:

  • 1861 – Tennessee seceded from the Union.
  • 1915 – Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan resigned in a disagreement over U.S. handling of the sinking of the Lusitania.
  • 1982 – In the first speech by an American president to a joint session of the British Parliament, President Ronald Reagan predicted that Marxism-Leninism would wind up “on the ash heap of history.”
  • 1987 – Fawn Hall, secretary to national security aide Oliver L. North, testified at the Iran-Contra hearings, saying she had helped to shred some documents.