A weekly outreach to our friends and colleagues in Canada
Weekly Washington Wrap
In the Pipeline. This just in from Politico: “The Trump administration will approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline by Monday, reversing one of former President Barack Obama's most politically charged environmental decisions, according to two sources with knowledge of the plan.” According to Politico, “Undersecretary for political affairs Tom Shannon plans to sign the pipeline's cross-border permit on or before Monday, the last day for the 60-day timeline that President Donald Trump ordered in January. Secretary of State and former Exxon Mobil Chief Executive Rex Tillerson recused himself from the process.”
Such a Nice Gorsuch. President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch is using plain ol’ good manners and a polite demeanor as Senate Democrats continue to try and put him on the hot seat he apparently isn’t much interested in occupying. Gorsuch is facing his confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week and has sprinkled many of his responses to fiery questions from Democrat Senators with “golly” and “goodness” while refusing to answer questions on how he might rule from the bench – much in the way his successful predecessors have done. Gorsuch has repeatedly vowed to “apply the law impartially” that comes with a judge’s “honest black polyester” robe. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has told reporters the Senate is on track to vote on Gorsuch before lawmakers leave for a two-week recess on April 7. Senate Democrats say they want to postpone the vote.
Obamacare on Life Support? Speaking of Senate Leader McConnell, he’s vowing that next week the Senate is taking up legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare despite deep divisions on how best to tackle the massive national healthcare mandate that was passed without a single Republican vote in 2010. Premiums and costs have skyrocketed since then with many Americans losing the doctors President Obama had vowed they could keep under his signature legislation and millions opting out of the program and paying stiff penalties. House Republicans are grappling with the measure today and are split over their bill with some moderates fearing it goes too far and some conservatives saying it doesn’t go far enough. The Republican legislation would halt Obama's tax penalties against people who don't buy coverage and cut the federal-state Medicaid program for low earners, which the statute expanded. It would provide tax credits to help people pay medical bills and allow insurers to charge older Americans more and repeal tax boosts the law imposed on high-income people and health industry companies. Earlier Wednesday evening, President Donald Trump huddled with nearly 20 lawmakers – a mix of supporters and opponents of the measure – to try and forge consensus. Passage of the bill in both chambers still remains up in the air. In a count by The Associated Press, at least 26 Republicans said they opposed the bill and others were leaning that way, enough to narrowly defeat the measure. Republicans have pledged to roll back Obamacare for years, and McConnell argued Tuesday that GOP lawmakers have a "strong obligation" to keep that promise. Under the Senate's rules, lawmakers will be able to offer changes to the House bill during a marathon session known as “votearama.”
Listen In. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) revealed yesterday that the US Intelligence Community under the Obama administration collected “incidental” information about President-elect Donald Trump and his transition team during the three months following the 2016 election. According to Nunes, who briefed reporters on Capitol Hill yesterday as well as the President at the White House, the information was “legally” collected pursuant to a warrant issued by a FISA judge in a federal court and concerned “foreign” surveillance but “did not involve Russia or discussions with Russians.” Nunes told reporters he was “alarmed” by what’s he learned and said “it’s possible” that Trump’s personal communications were among those which were part of the “incidental” collection - but did not say definitively if that was the case. While the President’s tweet claiming his predecessor, Barack Obama, had “wiretapped” him inside Trump Tower last year has been met with widespread derision and Nunes says there is no evidence to support that specific claim, President Trump told reporters yesterday he feels “somewhat” vindicated by the new information Nunes presented.
Whipped Up in Washington
As usual, your former US ambassador to Canada is spending the majority of his week in Washington, DC, attending a host of meetings and events.
Highlights of his very busy week included events held by the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) that featured Vice President Mike Pence at a Tuesday luncheon and President Donald Trump at dinner that evening.
While in DC, Wilkins was delighted to catch up with California Republican Representative Kevin McCarthy who serves as the House Majority Leader. It was also great to see Ed McMullen who chaired the Trump campaign in South Carolina and played a key role in the Trump transition, as well as South Carolina Congressmen Joe Wilson, Jeff Duncan, Trey Gowdy and so many others. It’s always wonderful to see our ol’ pal and former colleague Britton Clark.
By the Brooks
Yesterday, Wilkins winged it back from DC to South Carolina’s capital city where he attended the Palmetto Promise evening featuring New York Times bestselling author and President of the American Enterprise Institute, Dr. Arthur Brooks.
Brooks is a conservative champion and classical musician who travels the globe to preach the cause of “free enterprise as the greatest anti-poverty force in human history.”
Wilkins was honored to attend Dr. Brooks’ talk with his great friend, Dan Adams, president and CEO of the Capital Corporation who is chairman of the Board of Directors of the Palmetto Promise.
They Said What?
- “Clearly there is a lot of information in the reports that I've seen, which were dozens, that would lead me to believe that the last administration and numerous agencies had a pretty good idea of what President-elect Trump was up to and what his transition team was up to and who they were meeting with,” -- House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) on CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper” regarding new information that the US Intelligence community under the Obama administration may have “incidentally” collected personal communication on President Trump and his team during the 2016 presidential transition.
- "I somewhat do. I must tell you I somewhat do, I very much appreciated the fact that they found what they found,” – President Donald Trump regarding the news that US intelligence may have “incidentally” been collecting personal communications on him during his 2016 transition.
- Well, he's upped the anti. When you decide that you're going to say that a President of the United States has wiretapped you, which you know -- which isn't true, you have invited comment. It's not -- this is -- it's no longer frivolous. This is serious and he should not have done it. He should apologize, not only to President Obama, but to the American people,” – House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on CNN with Anderson Cooper regarding the Trump wiretap claim.
- “Senator, I would have walked out the door. It's not what judges do. They don't do it at that end of Pennsylvania Avenue and they shouldn't do it at this end either, respectfully,” – Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch at his Senate confirmation hearing when asked by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) whether President Trump ever asked him to overrule the pro-abortion ruling Roe v. Wade.
- “Now, as you all know, Judge Gorsuch hearing is still going on, so we'll have more to say on that later. But I want to say one thing based on what we've seen so far. Judge Gorsuch looks like he's playing dodge ball with the Senate Judiciary Committee. He has bent over backwards to avoid revealing anything -- anything at all – about his judicial philosophy, or the legal issues that concern the American people. Ok,” – Senate Minority Leader and New York Democrat Chuck Schumer speaking with press Tuesday afternoon on the Gorsuch confirmation hearing.
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.