Attempting to turn the page from the disastrous rollout of his immigration ban, President Trump last night cheered conservatives and rallied Congressional Republicans back to the fold with his selection of U.S. Circuit Court Judge Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court. Democrats, eager for revenge after the GOP successfully stonewalled President Obama’s choice to fill the vacancy, will likely focus their fire on Gorsuch’s social conservatism. He’s got a thinner record on corporate issues, in part, as the Wall Street Journal notes this morning, because his Denver-based court doesn’t see a lot of cases involving big business. Two of his highest-profile opinions — in the cases known as Hobby Lobby and Little Sisters of the Poor, both of which reached the Supreme Court — sided with religious employers objecting to including contraception in workers’ health plans. And the 49-year-old onetime corporate lawyer in December eased the path for defendant companies seeking to move class action suits from state to federal court. At the same time, Gorsuch has been a committed opponent of “executive overreach,” suggesting he could line up against Trump’s use of executive orders; he’s also signaled he opposes so-called Chevron deference, the principle that courts should defer to regulatory agencies in determining the reach of rules — an attitude that could cut both ways for businesses petitioning the court. If confirmed, Gorsuch could tip the balance on a number of key business cases before the high court this year.
Meanwhile, CNN had a splashy report Tuesday evening that the White House was forced to cancel a Thursday trip to a Harley Davidson factory in Wisconsin — a visit planned to showcase a new “Buy American” executive order Trump was going to sign while there — because the motorcycle maker was growing concerned about “planned protests.” The visit hadn’t been announced publicly, which makes the threat of a gathering protest sort of curious. Another explanation, from one source close to the company, is that Harley Davidson as a matter of informal policy no longer hosts national political figures looking to use its rugged, made-in-America brand as a backdrop. The company offers factory tours to Members of Congress from both parties, but George W. Bush was the last president to visit. The Obama administration twice asked to stage events at the Wisconsin facility, the source says — and it was quietly, gently turned away. The reason it matters: If the specter of protests keeps Trump from visiting even supposedly friendly territory — he was the first Republican to carry Wisconsin since Ronald Reagan in 1984 — the resulting bunker mentality could prove toxic to his White House (see: Nixon, Richard). More news below.
Anthony Scaramucci’s bid to join the Trump administration as a liaison to business is in limbo, pending questions about the sale of his investment fund to a subsidiary of HNA Group, a conglomerate with deep ties to China’s Communist Party.
Senate Democrats are raising new questions about whether Steve Mnuchin misled the Senate Finance Committee during his confirmation hearings over the extent of foreign investment in his off-shore hedge fund.
CEO Tim Cook says the ban affects hundreds of Apple employees; he’s pressing “very, very senior” administration officials to reverse it, while the company considers legal options for challenging the order.
Drug makers’ shares rose after their White House huddle on hopes that Trump won’t target the industry as directly as he’s threatened to even in recent days.
Number of the day
The share of voters skeptical of Trump’s voter fraud claims, according to a new Morning Consult/POLITICO poll. And if fraud did occur, 35%, a plurality, believe that Trump benefited more than Hillary Clinton.
Why corporate America must stand up to Trump [New Yorker]