A weekly outreach to our friends and colleagues in Canada
Weekly Washington Wrap
- On Tuesday the Supreme Court announced it will hear a case in April relating to President Obama's immigration plan. The case goes before the highest court after the US Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit upheld Texas' challenge to Obama's executive action on immigration in November.
- Yesterday the Senate failed to invoke cloture on a House passed bill to require enhanced screening of refugees. 60 votes were required to proceed, but the vote was five votes short with 53 Republicans and two Democrats voting in favor of proceeding.
- A highly controversial Obama administration gun-walking operation is back in the spotlight this week with the stunning news that a .50-caliber rifle capable of taking down helicopters was found at the Mexican hideout of cartel kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman. The massive rifle was funneled through the US administration's gun-walking operation known as "Fast and Furious" – a Justice Department program begun in 2009 that allowed illegal gun sales in the US to Mexican criminals. Meanwhile, a federal judge ruled on Tuesday the Obama administration must turn over thousands of documents about this botched gun-tracking op to House Republicans, rejecting White House claims that the papers were shielded by executive privilege. In 2012, Obama's former Attorney General Eric Holder was held in contempt of Congress for withholding documents from a congressional committee investigating Fast and Furious in the wake of revelations that one of the 2,000 guns US officials let go over the Mexican border was traced to the murder of a US Border Patrol agent.
- The troubling questions involving President Obama's former secretary of state intensified this week with revelations that the emails on Hillary Clinton's private server contained classified intelligence from some of America's most secretive programs. This is according to confirmations from the office of the Intelligence Community Inspector General I. Charles McCullough III. Two government agencies flagged emails on Clinton's server as containing classified information including some on "special access programs," which are above "top secret" in classification level. Clinton's presidential campaign disputes the report's findings and blamed it on partisan politics and "another leak." Clinton is under investigation by the FBI for possible security violations that may have occurred as a result of her using a private email and a home server to exclusively conduct all official State Department business for the four years she worked in the Obama administration.
Business at the Border
Savvy Carolina-Canada Connections readers expect that when we're talking about the border in this space – we're focused on the doings up north.
But this week, David Wilkins has a decidedly Southern perspective – meeting with the George W. Bush Institute's North America Competitiveness Working Group down in San Diego, California.
CCC readers know Wilkins chairs this Working Group through the Bush Institute made up of influential business, governmental and thought leaders from across Canada, the US and Mexico who are working together to address critical energy, labor, economic and infrastructure issues facing North America.
The Bush Institute's Matt Rooney, your former US Ambassador to Canada, and former US Ambassador to Mexico Tony Garza talk tri-lat border issues this week in San Diego, California.
In order to see and experience for themselves firsthand the situation at our Southern border, Working Group members traveled to Tijuana, Mexico, observing operations at the El Chaparral border checkpoint. The Group also toured the Sempra Energy Wind Farm.
Sizin' Up South Carolina
Meanwhile, back home in South Carolina, another Bush is in the news as the rollicking presidential primaries roll on. According to recent polls, W's brother, Jeb, has been picking up steam in the Palmetto State as February's first-in-the-South primary vote date closes in.
Our ol' buddy, Aaron Gould Sheinin – a longtime reporter with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution who used to cover the SC statehouse as an ace political reporter with The State newspaper in Columbia – wrote a lengthy article for the AJC last Friday in advance of the GOP prez debate in Charleston, SC and he spoke with your former US ambassador to Canada.
Here are some excerpts from Sheinin's AJC report:
"Just more than a month before the South Carolina Republican presidential primary, many in the state’s GOP leadership are looking for the “anti-Trump.”
They better hurry…
South Carolina party leaders, however, are going elsewhere. U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney has endorsed Rand Paul. Fellow Congressman Trey Gowdy picked Marco Rubio in December. U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham endorsed Jeb Bush this past week…
Mulvaney, Graham, Gowdy and Haley are hardly the only prominent Republicans in the state, but they are the only four of 15 federal or statewide elected officials to endorse this cycle, although, many expect U.S. Sen. Tim Scott to join his friend Gowdy in endorsing Rubio, the Florida senator…
Haley’s endorsement could carry some weight. The second-term governor was a tea-party favorite when first elected in 2010 and has made her name as a union-busting job creator. She’s also gained national notoriety in the past year for her competent handling of the murder of nine black parishoners at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston in June and her subsequent effort to remove the Confederate flag from statehouse grounds.
“I do think her endorsement would have some impact,” Richard Quinn, one of the top Republican political consultants in the state, said. “She’s popular.”
Quinn, who helped lead Graham’s campaign, is now unaffiliated in the race. He said the South Carolina outcome won’t be clear until after Iowa and New Hampshire, no matter the endorsements.
“You know as well as I that everything can be rebooted by Iowa and New Hampshire,” Quinn said. “It always happens that way.”
If Trump wins both states, however, forget about it, Quinn said.
“He will certainly march to victory in South Carolina,” he said.
Graham’s exit from the race and, now, his endorsement of Bush, could also move voters. While Graham never caught on as a presidential candidate, even in his home state, he remains popular. Much of South Carolina’s political elite, as well as its top Republican funders, were with him. Now, a goodly portion of them have moved to Bush.
“The Graham supporters will give (Bush) extra momentum,” David Wilkins, former speaker of the S.C. House and ambassador to Canada under President George W. Bush, said. “We just have to wait and see.”…
They Said What?
- "Will Hillary Clinton get prosecuted?" – according to the search engine Google, the number one question googled about the former secretary of state and current Democrat presidential frontrunner during Saturday night's debate.
- "As many of you know, we began this campaign about nine months ago. And when we began, we were 50 points behind. We were 50 points behind the inevitable, the inevitable Democratic nominee! Well, guess what, that inevitable candidate ain't so inevitable today," – Vermont Senator and Democrat presidential candidate Bernie Sanders at a Monday night campaign rally in Birmingham, Alabama, regarding Sanders surging poll numbers versus Hillary Clinton. (Editor's note: A new CNN/WMUR poll shows Sanders, an avowed socialist, defeating Clinton by 27 points in the New Hampshire primary.)
- "Obviously there is no national primary, which is what a national poll would ostensibly measure, but it does show that the rest of the country does not mirror the polls we are seeing in Iowa and New Hampshire. Sanders’s base appears too narrow to win much on the road, beyond caucuses and New England," -- Political analyst and pollster Charlie Cook writing in the National Journal this week that Clinton is still on track to win the Democratic presidential nod.
- "I was total establishment. Now I'm like the worst thing that ever happened to the establishment," – GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump at a campaign rally at Liberty University this week.
- "I'm With Stupid!" – The New York Daily News front page take on former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's endorsement of Donald Trump in Iowa Tuesday.
If you are interested in the possibility of having Ambassador Wilkins speak at an event, please contact Christy Cox at Christy.Cox@nelsonmullins.com or call 803.255.9470.
The articles published in this newsletter are intended only to provide general information on the subjects covered. The contents should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Readers should consult with legal counsel to obtain specific legal advice based on particular situations.