Situational awareness – May 9, 2018

Good Wednesday morning from Salt Lake City.

The LDS Church is severing ties with the Boys Scouts. Utah is running into roadblocks on the path to Medicaid expansion. Trump trashes the Iran deal. A Russian oligarch hired Trump’s personal lawyer as a consultant. 

Happy anniversary! One year ago today, President Trump abruptly fired FBI Director James Comey, which led to the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller.


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  • 20 days until the last day to register to vote by mail for the 2018 primary election (5/29/2018)
  • 21 days until the last day to change your party affiliation before the primary election (5/30/2018)
  • 27 days until primary election mail-in ballots are sent to voters (6/5/2018)
  • 34 days until in-person early primary voting begins (6/12/2018)
  • 41 days until the final day to register to vote online or in person before the primary election (6/19/2018)
  • 44 days until in-person early primary voting ends (6/22/2018)
  • 48 days until the 2018 Primary Election (6/26/2018)
  • 181 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 264 days until the first day of the 2019 Utah Legislature (1/28/2019)
  • 909 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)


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Scouting split

The LDS Church announces they will sever ties with the Boy Scouts of America in 2020, replacing it with a new church-led program [Deseret News, Tribune (paywall), Standard-Examiner].

Medicaid problems

Utah lawmakers passed a limited Medicaid expansion this year that depends on waivers from the Trump administration. It turns out those waivers are more difficult to get than legislators anticipated [Utah Policy].

More economic good news

Utah’s GDP grew at the 5th fastest rate between 2016 and 2017 [Utah Policy].

Hatch apologizes

Sen. Orrin Hatch apologizes for saying it was “ridiculous” for Sen. John McCain to bar President Trump from his funeral [Utah Policy].


  • Utah leaders react to President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal [Deseret News, Associated Press, Tribune (paywall)].
  • Utah restaurants can finally take down those “This is a restaurant, not a bar” signs [Fox 13, Tribune (paywall)].
  • The Salt Lake Tribune is facing staff cuts and possibly shrinking the print edition because of continuing losses in ad revenue and falling circulation numbers [Tribune (paywall), Deseret News].
  • Opponents of the medical marijuana ballot initiative claim supporters are offering money to prevent signature removal forms from being submitted [Tribune (paywall)].
  • Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill is lending his support to the ballot initiative to legalize medical cannabis [Deseret News].
  • Utah Democrats file six bills targeting gun violence for next year’s legislative session [Tribune (paywall)].
  • A wannabe spy managed to get a job with the Utah Department of Technology and sent sensitive documents to Russia [Tribune (paywall)].
  • Salt Lake City approves a tax incentive package for a Swiss rail car maker that will bring an estimated 1,000 jobs to the city’s northwest quadrant [Deseret News].


  • As expected, President Trump scraps the Iran nuclear deal. However what comes next remains to be known [Reuters]. Iranian President Rouhani says that country is ready to restart their uranium enrichment programs, but will “wait and see how others react” [BBC].
  • WOAH! President Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen was hired last year as a consultant by the U.S.-based affiliate of a Russian company owned by a Russian oligarch who is on a list of Russians who have sanctioned for election interference. The money flowed through the shell company Cohen used to pay off adult film actress Stormy Daniels [CNN]. Cohen also received thousands of dollars from other companies, including AT&T which, at the time, was seeking government approval of their acquisition of Time Warner [New York Times].
  • The GOP establishment avoids a nightmare in West Virginia. Former Coal baron Don Blankenship, who described himself as “Trumpier than Trump” was soundly defeated in the U.S. Senate primary in that state [Washington Post].
  • President Donald Trump’s job approval hits 42%, which is the highest point it’s been in the last year [Gallup].
  • Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team rejects an offer from President Trump’s legal advisers for Trump to submit to a written interview as part of the Russia investigation [Politico].
  • The confirmation hearings for CIA nominee Gina Haspel begin in Washington on Wednesday [The Hill].
  • White House aides are pushing President Trump to fire embattled EPA head Scott Pruitt [CNN]. Pruitt reportedly fast-tracked an environmental clean-up in California after conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt brokered a meeting [Politico].
  • Democratic 2020 presidential hopefuls are already hitting the campaign trail [The Hill].
  • Russian hackers are reportedly posing as ISIS members to threaten U.S. military families [Associated Press].


  • 1502 – Christopher Columbus set sail from Spain on his fourth and final voyage to the New World.
  • 1887 – Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show opens in London.
  • 1926 – Admiral Richard E. Byrd and Floyd Bennett claim to have flown over the North Pole.
  • 1945 – The final German Instrument of Surrender is signed at the Soviet headquarters in Berlin.
  • 1974 – The House Judiciary Committee opens formal impeachment hearings against President Richard Nixon.
  • 1979 – The U.S. and Soviet Union reached a basic accord on the SALT II nuclear arms treaty. The agreement was signed in June but never went into effect.