Morning must reads for Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Good Tuesday morning from Salt Lake City. Today is the 276th day of the year. There are 89 days remaining in 2017.

The clock:

  • 14 days until ballots for the 2017 general election are mailed to voters (10/17/2017)
  • 35 days until the 2017 election (11/7/2017)
  • 111 days until the opening day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (1/22/2018)
  • 156 days until the final day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (3/8/2018)
  • 399 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 1,127 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

Today’s political TL; DR –

  • POLL: Sen. Orrin Hatch‘s job approval rating sits under 50% right now, while Sen. Mike Lee is in positive territory at 51% [Utah Policy].
  • Democrat Kathie Allen says she’s not a supporter of current House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and would vote for someone else to lead the party in Congress if she were elected [Utah Policy].
  • Newly minted Russia ambassador Jon Huntsman is already in Moscow and plans to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • Backers of a proposal to put full Medicaid expansion on the 2018 ballot file paperwork to officially launch their effort [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer jokes that the GOP tax proposal is “anti-Mormon” because it reduces deductions for big families [Tribune].
  • Republican 3rd District candidate John Curtis deletes a Facebook post explaining why his campaign pulled social media ads on illegal immigration [Tribune].
  • Rep. Brian Greene is wondering why parents who choose not to vaccinate their children are asked to sign a statement taking responsibility for the risks of not doing so [Deseret News]. 
  • Sen. Todd Weiler wants to revive the long-dormant “porn czar” office with a wider focus on the public health risks posed by smut [Tribune].

National headlines:

  • Las Vegas massacre:
    • 59 people have died and more than 500 were injured in the rampage in Las Vegas on Sunday night [Washington Post].
    • Police are struggling to figure out who the shooter was and what his motivations might have been [New York Times].
    • Law enforcement officials say the shooter had two “bump stock” devices that could have converted his semi-automatic weapons into fully automatic ones [Associated Press]. 
  • Russia investigation:
    • Associates of President Donald Trump had even more previously unreported contacts with Russia during the 2016 campaign [Washington Post].
    • Special counsel Robert Mueller is researching whether President Donald Trump could issue pre-emptive pardons if the investigation into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election gets closer to his family or close advisers [Bloomberg].
    • Russian operatives used a Facebook advertising tool to target Americans and repeatedly send them messages designed to influence their behavior during the 2016 election [Washington Post].
    • The social media posts from Russians posing as Americans during the 2016 presidential election showed an astonishing level of sophistication. Investigators say the massive effort was part of a sprawling effort to influence last year’s election by Russia [New York Times].
    • Facebook announced they are hiring 1,000 people to review and remove objectionable ads in the wake of Russians using the platform to influence the presidential election [Recode].
    • Investigators are examining a third email account on Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump‘s private domain. Hundreds of emails have been sent to email addresses on the Kushner family domain since January. That account was accessible by both Kushner and Trump and was shared with their personal staff for scheduling [Politico].
    • The White House is close to launching a legal defense fund for staffers who face mounting legal bills from the Russia investigation [Politico].
  • Facepalm! Ron Estes, a freshman member of Congress from Kansas, was duped into holding a fake Congressional hearing for Ukranian television by former Florida Congressman Connie Mack, who is now a lobbyist. The fake “hearing” on the Ukranian banking sector was held in a basement room of the U.S. Capitol and broadcast on Ukranian TV. The event was billed as the “U.S. Congressional Committee on Financial Issues,” even though not a single member of Congress was present [Weekly Standard].
  • The Supreme Court will hear arguments on Tuesday in a case that involves partisan gerrymandering of state legislative districts [Associated Press].
  • President Trump is mulling issuing an executive order ordering federal agencies to review assistance programs for low-income Americans. The executive order would require those agencies to propose new requirements to help shift welfare recipients back into the workforce [Politico].
  • A Federal watchdog is looking into Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke‘s use of private and military aircraft for travel as well as his mixing official travel with political appearances [Washington Post].
  • Education Secretary Betsy DeVos‘ security detail could cost the agency more than $6 million over the next year [Politico].
  • President Donald Trump isn’t wrong about negative media coverage of him. A study by the Pew Research Center found only 5% of the news coverage of his early days in office was positive [NBC News].

On this day in history:

  • 1849 – Author Edgar Allan Poe is found delirious in a gutter in Baltimore under mysterious circumstances; it is the last time he is seen in public before his death.
  • 1863 – The last Thursday in November is declared as Thanksgiving Day by President Abraham Lincoln.
  • 1922 – Rebecca Felton, a Georgia Democrat, was chosen to become the first woman to serve in the U.S. Senate following the death of Sen. Thomas E. Watson.
  • 1990 – Formerly communist East Germany merged with West Germany, ending 45 years of post-war division.
  • 1993 – Battle of Mogadishu: A firefight occurs during a failed attempt to capture key officials of warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid’s organization in Mogadishu, Somalia, costing the lives of 18 American soldiers.
  • 1995 – O.J. Simpson is acquitted of the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.