Situational awareness – May 18, 2018

Good Friday morning from Salt Lake City.

Rep. Stewart disagrees with a report saying Putin wanted to help Trump win in 2016. The LDS Church and NAACP reach a historic agreement. The White House plans a hard-right turn on abortion.


Thanks for reading Utah’s must-read daily political news roundup. If you would like to sign up for our morning newsletter, you can SIGN UP HERE.

Want to submit an op-ed? Got a story tip or idea? A complaint? An intriguing picture to share? I want to hear from you. Send me a secure email at [email protected].


  • 11 days until the last day to register to vote by mail for the 2018 primary election (5/29/2018)
  • 12 days until the last day to change your party affiliation before the primary election (5/30/2018)
  • 18 days until primary election mail-in ballots are sent to voters (6/5/2018)
  • 25 days until in-person early primary voting begins (6/12/2018)
  • 32 days until the final day to register to vote online or in person before the primary election (6/19/2018)
  • 35 days until in-person early primary voting ends (6/22/2018)
  • 39 days until the 2018 Primary Election (6/26/2018)
  • 172 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 255 days until the first day of the 2019 Utah Legislature (1/28/2019)
  • 900 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)


Subscribe to the award-winning “Bernick and Schott on politics” podcast, Utah’s longest-running political podcast. Hosts Bryan Schott and Bob Bernick have more than 60 years of combined experience covering Utah politics. Plus, you’ll get long-form interviews with Utah newsmakers. Subscribe (and leave a review) using iTunesGoogle Play, and Stitcher.


What a week!

Missing signatures. Count My Vote. LDS Church vs. medical marijuana. No rebrand for the Utah Transit Authority. The Salt Lake Tribune makes deep cuts. Plus, North Korea backtracks. Bob Bernick and Bryan Schott chew over a busy week in politics [Utah Policy].

You can also download our week in review as a podcast [Utah Policy].

Russia conflict

Rep. Chris Stewart says he disagrees with the Senate Intelligence Committee’s conclusion that Vladimir Putin tried to help Donald Trump win the 2016 election [Utah Policy].

Legal remedy

Bob Bernick says he hopes the Utah Supreme Court steps in and fixes Utah’s citizen petition process because it’s too onerous [Utah Policy].


  • The LDS Church and NAACP called for an end to prejudice and greater racial harmony [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • Utah County says they mistakenly placed dozens of uncounted signature packets in the wrong pile [Tribune].
  • Outgoing UTA board members are pleased that lawmakers are backing off changing the organization’s name [Deseret News].
  • Former Iron County Republican Party official Blake Cozzens pleaded guilty to misdemeanor sexual solicitation after he was arrested in a prostitution sting earlier this year [Tribune].


  • The Trump administration is planning a hard-right turn on abortion with a plan to stop federal funding for facilities that perform abortions or refer patients to those that do. The proposal takes direct aim at Planned Parenthood [New York Times].
  • A man was arrested at Trump National Doral golf resort in Miami after he was firing shots and “spewing information about President Trump” [Sun Sentinel].
  • The Senate confirms Gina Haspel as the next director of the CIA [The Hill].
  • Republican leaders in Congress are pushing to find a deal on immigration within the next 24-hours to end a revolt by some GOP representatives to force a vote on immigration measures [The Hill]. 
  • During the 2016 campaign, President Trump repeatedly claimed he had no business dealings with Russia. Turns out, his team was continuing to work on a proposal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow through the late stages of the campaign. Trump himself signed a letter of intent for the project the same day as the third presidential debate [BuzzFeed].
  • President Trump is joining an aggressive effort by Republicans in Congress to expose a top-secret FBI source they claim illegally spied on Trump’s campaign during the 2016 election [Washington Post].
  • Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s lawyer, says special counsel Robert Mueller has agreed to narrow the focus of questioning for the president in a bid to get Trump to agree to an interview [Washington Times].
  • Michael Avenatti, Stormy Daniels’ attorney, says he has heard from two other women who claim to have non-disclosure agreements tied with President Trump and his personal lawyer Michael Cohen [MSNBC].
  • President Trump offers “protections” for North Korea if they agree to give up their nuclear weapons program [The Hill].
  • President Trump’s company earned $40 million from their Washington, D.C. hotel during 2017 [USA Today].
  • Hopes for a deal on NAFTA this year are fading as talks have moved beyond a deadline imposed by Congress [New York Times].
  • Democrats up for election in states Trump won in 2016 are ignoring attacks from Trump ahead of the 2018 midterms, refusing to engage with Trump on his terms [Politico].
  • Jared Kushner’s family is close to a deal with a company linked to the Qatari government for a bailout on a financially troubled real estate project in Manhattan [New York Times].
  • Immigration agents are increasingly arresting immigrations who have not been convicted of crimes [Huffington Post].


  • 1631 – John Winthrop becomes the first Governor of Massachusetts.
  • 1652 – Rhode Island passes the first law in English-speaking North America making slavery illegal.
  • 1756 – The Seven Years’ War begins when Great Britain declares war on France.
  • 1860 – Abraham Lincoln wins the Republican Party presidential nomination over William H. Seward.
  • 1896 – The Supreme Court rules in Plessy v. Ferguson that the “separate but equal” doctrine is constitutional.
  • 1917 – The Selective Service Act of 1917 is passed, giving the president the power of conscription.
  • 1953 – Jackie Cochran becomes the first woman to break the sound barrier.
  • 1980 – Mount St. Helens erupts in Washington, killing 57 people and causing $3 billion in damage.