-- Is the president being naïve – or cunning? With Merrick Garland, Barack Obama made the safe, conventional, even boring choice for the Supreme Court. He’s trying to call the Republicans’ bluff and force their hand by nominating a centrist judge who has been praised extensively by the right. He's telling allies that he hopes this forces Republicans to reconsider their knee-jerk opposition to granting Garland a hearing. And then, once the judge gets in front of the Judiciary Committee, the president hopes obstruction would become politically untenable for the GOP. As Ruth Marcus puts it, Obama is trying to make Republicans “an offer they can’t afford to refuse.”

-- Right now, Garland looks dead on arrival. The chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will visit the Capitol today to meet with top Senate Democrats, including Harry Reid and Pat Leahy. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agreed to a phone call with the judge yesterday, but only to tell him that he won’t agree to a “perfunctory” sit-down. Only half a dozen Republicans, of 54 total, even expressed a willingness to take a courtesy meeting with Garland. As John Cornyn, the number two in GOP leadership, put it: “This person will not be confirmed. So there’s no reason going through some motions and pretending like it’s going to happen, because it’s not going to happen.”

-- Anyone who knows anything about McConnell knows he will not cave – unless or until it works to his party’s advantage.

It’s not a done deal, but it seems increasingly likely that Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee. The first-time candidate is more likely than not to lose the general election. He could take the GOP Senate majority down with him. It’s hard to imagine Republican incumbents surviving in Wisconsin, Illinois and Pennsylvania with The Donald at the top of the ticket, and it’s harder still to imagine GOP candidates winning in Florida and Nevada with the Trump headwinds. Trump as the nominee makes it much more likely that the Senate map expands in Democrats’ favor: Missouri’s Roy Blunt, North Carolina’s Richard Burr and even Arizona’s John McCain could each lose their seat because of Trump. Republican turnout could be depressed, as Hillary Clinton benefits from a yawning gender gap and record Latino turnout.

What worries the smartest people on the left is that McConnell will shepherd Garland’s confirmation through during the lame-duck session if Clinton wins, depriving the first woman president of her ability to pick a more progressive alternative. While Garland is 63, which means he has a relatively shorter shelf life on the bench, Hillary could pick someone who is still in her 40s.

Republican senators split yesterday on whether they’d vote for Garland during a lame-duck session if Clinton wins. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said he would. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.), who are both on the Judiciary Committee, said on the record that it would be inappropriate and disingenuous. “We can't have it both ways,” Graham said. "We cannot say 'let the people speak,' and then say 'no, you can't.' If you are going to let the people speak, let 'em speak and honor their choice.”

-- McConnell has said repeatedly that “the next president” should choose the nominee. But he’s also said quite a lot over the years about the Senate’s sacred obligation to confirm a president’s judicial picks (back when it was Republicans who were picking them). That’s certainly not stopping him from blocking Garland now.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley spoke with Garland and did not rule out a meeting. But he reiterated that there won’t be a hearing. “It’s a question of the next president,” Grassley told Iowa reporters. “Based upon on the principles we’ve laid out, it’s going to happen after Jan. 20, 2017.”

-- But, but, but: Will the Republicans try to have it “both ways”? Yes, it seems pretty likely they will…And this is an instance of Republican flip-flopping that Obama would be fine with. Indeed, it’s probably what he has in the back of his mind. “In private conversations with aides and political allies in recent days, the president emphasized that although he might have disappointed some supporters who were lobbying for a woman or a person of color, he picked someone with whom he has a personal affinity and someone whose record was, in Obama’s words, ‘unassailable,’” our White House bureau chief Juliet Eilperin reports. “Garland, who was appointed to the D.C. federal appeals court by President Bill Clinton in April 1997, was confirmed on a 76-to-23 vote.”

Clinton, though she praised Garland and said Republicans should give him a hearing, notably stopped short of committing to re-appoint him if she wins.

-- SCOTUS beat reporter Robert Barnes says it is probably accurate to describe Garland as “the most conservative Supreme Court nominee by a Democratic president in decades.If he gets confirmed (a big if), “Garland’s instinct for the middle could put him in the court’s most influential spot,” Barnes explains: The center of gravity could move from Anthony Kennedy to him. “Garland’s replacement of conservative icon Antonin Scalia would be the most significant shift on the Supreme Court since Clarence Thomas was confirmed in 1991 to replace the liberal civil rights giant Thurgood Marshall. … Most scholars of the court think that Garland would probably be just to the right of all of the court’s liberals. … More than 40 of his clerks have gone on to clerk for the justices, about a quarter of them for conservative members of the court. Such cross-pollination is increasingly rare. … Conservatives acknowledge they have come up with a limited list of complaints.”

  • “His prosecutor background and some of his rulings on the D.C. Circuit indicate that he would not take uniformly liberal positions on criminal justice issues; on the circuit, he is more likely to side with the government than his liberal colleagues.
  • Garland looks more like a left-leaning version of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.: a Midwesterner with double degrees at Harvard who clerked for the same circuit judge, moved on to work for Supreme Court justices, served on the D.C. Circuit and made friends on both sides of the aisle.”
  • Stephen I. Vladeck, a professor at American University’s law school, is most struck by the lack of controversy in a judge who has been on the bench nearly 20 years: “Chief Judge Garland’s jurisprudence is the epitome of centrist, case-by-case adjudication — not because he lacks deep methodological commitments, but because he’s never been prone to go out of his way to wax philosophical about those commitments. He has a remarkable dearth of separate opinions, and even his majority opinions tend to be fairly efficient, technical resolutions of the legal questions before him.

-- As Dana Milbank puts it, “Senate Republicans are unmoved and liberal activists are uninspired.” Charles Chamberlain, head of the liberal group Democracy for America, said in a statement that it was “deeply disappointing” that Obama “put forward a nominee seemingly designed to appease intransigent Republicans rather than inspire the grassroots he’ll need to get that nominee through the Senate.” National Organization for Women President Terry O’Neill called the nomination “unfortunate,” saying “the so-called political experts ruled that the best choice for the highest court in the nation was a cipher — a real nowhere man.”

-- In the Roosevelt Room yesterday afternoon, Obama privately made the case to leaders of 23 progressive groups that he did not sell them out. There are concerns about Garland’s moderate record and lack of a paper trail on certain issues important to supporters of abortion rights. “Obama emphasized he did not pick a nominee with an eye to pleasing a specific political constituency,” participants in the meeting told Juliet. “He said he thought many Americans would see the inherent unfairness of Republicans’ denying Garland a hearing. … ‘I chose a serious man and an exemplary judge,’ he said.”

-- The short-term problem for Democrats is that nothing about Garland will gin up their base, especially women and African Americans. A Washington Post/ABC News poll last week found that 63 percent of Americans want the Senate to hold hearings. Only one-third approve of waiting until next year. But this doesn’t capture the degree to which most voters just won’t care. “GOP advisers agree that public and private polling shows a 2-to-1 ratio in favor of holding hearings and possible votes on the Garland nomination,” Paul Kane reports. “But at the same time, they say that the intensity level on this issue is low and that voters are focused on the economy and national security as the most critical issues. The backlash from conservative voters, Republicans say, would be far worse than the small gain from going through the process with the nomination.”

Republican strategists also hope that the specter of the next president picking a justice will limit Republican defections from Trump: The NRA has already seized on Garland’s vote in Heller vs. DC to attack him as anti-Second Amendment.

-- The other challenge for Democrats: How do they keep GOP obstructionism in the news through November? They can use paid media to attack vulnerable incumbents for being rude and not doing their jobs. But it will be hard to command that many more news cycles, especially with the Trump Tornado overshadowing everything else. And because he’s an uninspired choice, as far as the base is concerned, there’s not going to be restless grassroots energy to keep the fight on the front-burner. Obama has a bully pulpit, and he can wring his hands, but it will be hard to get too much cable coverage off that.

A defining moment – Garland oversaw the prosecution of the Oklahoma City bombers: “He wore a suit and starched shirt in the building’s smoldering wreckage. He insisted on obtaining subpoenas for records — even when people were willing to hand them over without one — to insulate the government’s case against future appeals. And when conspirator Timothy McVeigh was arraigned at a nearby Air Force base, Garland was so determined to run the case by the book that he literally brought the book with him everywhere. A former colleague remembered Garland carrying around a paperback version of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.”

Called to public service: “Obama noted that Garland had clerked for two judges appointed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower and that he had signed up as a federal prosecutor under President George H.W. Bush. At the time of that switch, Garland was a partner in the Washington law firm of Arnold & Porter. ‘He took a 50 percent pay cut for a windowless closet [office] that smelled of stale cigarette smoke,’ Obama said. In that position, as an assistant U.S. attorney in Washington, Garland worked on one of the city’s legendary criminal cases: the prosecution of then-Mayor Marion Barry on drug charges in 1990.

A hard worker: “Inside his court chambers, Garland is known for long work hours — 10- or 12-hour days are common, often beginning with Garland eating a bowl of cereal in his office."

An observant Jew: “Garland has also hosted Passover Seder dinners at his home. One year, then-Attorney General Janet Reno was a guest. It was the night that the Justice Department was executing a search warrant at the Montana cabin of ‘Unabomber’ Ted Kaczynski, an investigation that Garland was overseeing. At one point during the dinner, Garland and Reno stepped away to take a phone call with colleagues to discuss the latest developments.”

Always an over-achiever: “Garland was president of the student council at his public high school, captain of the school’s quiz-bowl team and a star on the school debate team. He ran track, wrestled and appeared in school plays. He was also valedictorian of his class.”

A final fun fact,  via The Des Moines Register: Garland is the second cousin of Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R). The two had breakfast last month when Branstad was in D.C. for the National Governors Association meeting. But a spokesman says he supports whatever Grassley decides to do.

Although Obama was composed and even a bit defiant in his remarks, Garland choked up as he thanked the president. “This is the greatest honor of my life — other than Lynn agreeing to marry me 28 years ago,” he said. He mentioned his mother watching on television and “crying her eyes out” and his two sisters, “who have supported me in every step I have ever taken. I only wish that my father were here to see this today.” Watch the judge's speech:

(Read the transcript of Obama and Garland’s speeches here.)

Watch a video produced by the White House to tout the president's pick:

Welcome to the Daily 202, PowerPost's morning newsletter.
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UNREST IN BRAZIL: Hours after President Dilma Rousseff appointed her predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, to serve as her chief of staff, a judge released audio from tapped phone calls suggesting the appointment was made to shield Silva from possible detention in corruption probes. Under Brazilian immunity law, Silva’s appointment makes it harder for prosecutors to go after the former leader because only Brazil’s Supreme Court can authorize the investigation, imprisonment and trial of cabinet members and legislators. An attorney for Silva condemned the recordings, saying their release was sparking a “social convulsion ... which is not the role of the judiciary.”

-- Following the release of the audio recordings, thousands of protestors massed outside the Planalto presidential palace late into the night, prompting police to use tear gas and stun guns against the angry crowd. (AP)

Safety checks during Washington region’s rail system's 24-hour shutdown revealed severe cable damage in three sections. (YouTube/MetroFoward)

-- The D.C. Metro has reopened. Safety checks during the system's 24-hour shutdown revealed severe cable damage in three areas. The damage was so severe that, had officials been aware, they would have immediately stopped running trains through them. Metro's new General Manager, Paul J. Wiedefeld, said he hoped to send a forceful signal to staff that he is “determined to put passenger safety first” regardless of other consequences. (Robert McCartney and Paul Duggan)

-- No more killer whales for Sea World. The company just announced the current generation of orcas will be the last enclosed at the water park. “SeaWorld has been listening and we're changing … Society is changing and we're changing with it," the company said in a company announcement posted on its website. "SeaWorld is finding new ways to continue to deliver on our purpose to inspire all our guest to take action to protect wild animals and wild places." The company, which has come under fire for its treatment of killer whales following the release of the 2013 documentary “Blackfish,” said that “the orcas will continue to live at SeaWorld for many years to come, inspiring guests in new and natural ways. They will continue to receive the highest-quality care based on the latest advances in marine veterinary medicine and best practices. The company plans will also introduce new ‘natural orca encounters’ instead of the old theatrical shows.” (CNN)


  1. A Utah woman sued Richard Warren Roberts, the chief judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, claiming the former federal prosecutor sexually assaulted her during a 1981 trial, when she was 16 and a witness in a murder trial. Roberts's attorneys said the two had an “intimate relationship" but called the lawsuit’s allegations "categorically false." The judge yesterday filed paperwork to retire. (Salt Lake Tribune; Ann Marimow)
  2. A Michigan prosecutor known for his outspoken advocacy against human trafficking has been charged with paying for prostitutes “hundreds of times.” He faces 15 criminal charges, including for lending his legal services to a woman in exchange for intercourse. (Peter Holley)
  3. The Black Lives Matter movement is celebrating after the prosecutors in Cleveland and Chicago were thrown out of office. Cleveland prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty took heat for his handling of the Tamir Rice case, and Chicago state Attorney Anita Alvarez drew criticism for her handling of the Laquan McDonald case. (Janell Ross)
  4. The White House and State Department are urging North Korea to release Otto Warmbier, the University of Virginia student who was sentenced to 15 years of hard prison labor for attempting to steal a propaganda poster. “This is a kid,” said former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who met yesterday with both Warmbier’s parents and members of the North Korean mission. “His humanitarian release shouldn’t be complicated by tense relations between the U.S. and North Korea.” (Anna Fifield, Susan Svrluga and Carol Morello)
  5. Meanwhile, the U.S. is imposing new sanctions on North Korea, blacklisting more than a dozen government officials, agencies, and companies in response to Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile tests. (Carol Morello)
  6. The FBI’s elite Hostage Rescue program is under investigation after a report accused an agent of firing shots at Oregon protestor Robert “LaVoy” Finicum during the wildlife refuge standoff. (Adam Goldman)
  7. An administrative judge ruled in favor of a Chipotle employee who was fired after criticizing the company on Twitter, saying that the restaurant’s social media policy violated federal labor laws. (AP)
  8. The Senate failed to advance legislation to stop mandatory labeling of genetically modified foods. The Republican-backed effort is a setback for big players in the food industry, who argue that GMO’s are safe and the labels could be “costly” for agriculture, food companies and consumers. (AP)
  9. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) is considering a bill that would ban abortion in cases of Down syndrome and other fetal disabilities. The measure would also make Indiana the first state to require all fetal remains be buried or cremated. (Sandhya Somashekhar)
  10. A Milwaukee man is accused of killing his neighbors after finding out they didn’t speak English. (Sarah Larimer)
  11. Belgian police said an Algerian man who was killed during a counterterrorism raid has “potential links” to radical Islam. The 35-year-old attempted to open fire on police officers in Brussels before he was fatally shot by a sniper. (New York Times)
  12. The Islamic State has lost about 22 percent of its territory in Iraq and Syria in the past 15 months, according to a report that credits U.S. and Russian efforts for pinning back the extremist organization. (Ishaan Tharoor)
  13. A study in Sweden finds that refugees face a much higher risk of experiencing schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders than native-born Swedes. (Elahe Izadi)  
  14. The Kalamazoo Uber driver who fatally shot six people in an hours-long rampage has filed a complaint against the ride-sharing company, saying he is “currently in prison because of Uber.” Earlier this week, the shooter told detectives the app was “controlling him like a puppet.” (Mark Berman)
  15. Hundreds of colleges expect needy families -- making $30,000 or less -- to foot tuition costs that equal more than half of their annual earnings. A report from the New America Foundation says many schools offer merit-based scholarships to wealthier students instead of need-based assistance. (Danielle Douglas-Gabriel)


-- Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder will appear before a congressional committee today to discuss his role in Flint’s water crisis. Lenny Bernstein, who reviewed his prepared testimony, says Snyder plans to blame “systemic failures” at the state environmental agency: “Snyder will repeat his message that ‘a failure of government at all levels’ resulted in the catastrophe. He will also insist that a water specialist at the federal EPA was... ‘silenced’ by his superiors when he warned about the lead contamination in February 2015. Susan Hedman, former head of the EPA’s Midwest region, repeatedly denied muzzling or retaliating against the scientist when she testified before the same panel Tuesday.”

-- The EPA released thousands of pages of emails about the Flint debacle, detailing efforts to work with the state Department of Environmental Quality and the city as the crisis mushroomed.

  • Emails suggest Gina McCarthy grew concerned about the debacle in late September: “Seems like the Flint lead issue is really getting concerning,” McCarthy wrote to other agency officials. “This situation has the opportunity to get very big very quickly.”
  • …But the EPA didn’t take meaningful action until Jan. 21 when McCarthy accepted an employee's resignation.

-- Republicans on the Benghazi committee issued new rules that prohibit Democrats from accessing witness testimony outside business hours. Chairman Trey Gowdy called the move “necessary” to prevent Democrats from selectively leaking portions of their interviews. (Elise Viebeck)

-- Obama will travel with his family to Cuba on Sunday, as part of ongoing efforts to normalize relations between the two countries. From Karen DeYoung: The president will meet with political dissidents, entrepreneurs and President Raul Castro, attend a U.S.-Cuba baseball game and make a speech that is expected to be broadcast nationwide. The speech in Havana, “will address the very complicated history” between the U.S. and Cuba. Obama’s deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said the president will not shy away from discussing human rights, but will stress “that the United States is not a hostile nation seeking regime change, that in fact we can’t be blamed for challenges in Cuba, and that … we are there as a source of support for the Cuban people.” Obama also hopes to press the Cuban government to move quickly and take advantage of trade and other new openings as part of the thaw.


-- “Wild card for Trump: Who gets to be a convention delegate?” by Karen Tumulty and Jose A. DelReal: “With the increasingly loud talk of a contested Republican convention, the obscure process of picking delegates is about to be underway. These are the 2,472 people who will be filling Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena in July … Normally little more than props in a weeklong infomercial, delegates could instead be powerbrokers determining the nominee at the GOP convention this time around. The potential for intrigue is enormous. State delegations who vote for one candidate on the first ballot could actually turn out to be sleeper cells for another. Nor are they bound at any point to support the candidate to whom they are pledged on fights over rules, credentials, the platform or the vice presidential nominee … Those battles can determine whether the convention is an orderly coronation or a street fight. [And] were Trump to arrive with the most delegates and leave without the nomination? ‘I think you’d have riots,’ he told CNN.”

-- What happens to Rubio’s delegates? Roll Call: “The distribution of Rubio’s earned delegates could become critically important as the race to the convention continues. Rubio won 168 delegates during his primary run. Taking into account the arcane Republican Party rules that vary from state to state, at least 98 of those will be up for grabs … 45 delegates are still required to vote for Rubio at the convention for at least the first ballot, and other delegates will automatically fall to another candidate based on rules set up by each state. Because of those unique state processes, it may be some time before we know where all of Rubio’s delegates will end up. ‘We’ve had to go back and forth with them on our rules,’ said Jake Parsons, the director of operations for the Oklahoma Republican Party of the RNC.”

-- With Rubio out of the race, not all of his supporters are breaking the same way: South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley endorsed Cruz and Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe backed Kasich. And, a day after Florida voted, previously-neutral Gov. Rick Scott endorsed Trump. (Ahead of next Tuesday’s Arizona primary, Rep. David Schweikert endorsed Cruz.)

-- Meanwhile, the “Stop Trump” movement marches on – BUT some key GOP donors are retreating to the sidelines. From Matea Gold and Philip Rucker: “As Trump’s delegate lead expands, there [are] signs of further polarization within the party. Leaders of the Stop Trump movement said they would press on, hoping to prevent him from securing nomination … Still, it’s unclear whether wealthy conservatives who have been backing anti-Trump efforts will put much more money into a campaign. Some top Rubio fundraisers — deeply disappointed by his Tuesday exit —plan to stay out of the race for now. ‘It’s onto the next thing -- to keep control of the House and the Senate,’ said developer Bob Pence. ‘That’s what I view as my role for the rest of the cycle.’ Others urged unity behind Trump … And North Carolina executive Art Pope is considering running to be a state convention delegate, rather than raise money for another candidate. ‘I have not given up on the Republican party,’ said Pope. ‘The possibility of an open convention and its consequences are historic.’”

-- Trying to clean up his CNBC interview from Tuesday, Paul Ryan told Politico on Wednesday that he will not accept the GOP nomination: He said there is “no situation” in which he will agree to step in. It’s his firmest rejection of the fanciful notion that he’d be drafted during a contested convention. “I’ve been really clear about this,” said Ryan. “We should select our nominee from the people who are running for president.”

John Boehner, for his part, said Ryan should be the nominee if the party fails to choose someone on the first ballot. “If we don’t have a nominee who can win on the first ballot, I’m for none of the above,” he said in Florida. “They had a chance. So I’m for Ryan to be our nominee.”

-- Cruz declared that he has a “viable path” to nomination – but he needs help. From Dan Balz and Katie Zezima: “Next to Trump, Cruz has run the most successful campaign of any of the GOP candidates. But at crucial moments, he has fallen short ... Trump’s Florida victory knocked Rubio out, but Kasich’s Ohio victory prevented the governor from suffering the same fate. The overall result was twofold: Trump widened his delegate lead over Cruz, and Cruz failed to get a head-to-head competition with Trump. ‘The night was the worst of all worlds for Cruz … he couldn’t point to a Missouri, Illinois, or North Carolina to say ‘look, I can compete with Trump and win,’ said strategist Russ Schriefer. ‘So it became Kasich’s night.’ That is a critical problem for Cruz. His strategy is built on one major assumption, that if and when the GOP race becomes a two-candidate contest, he can beat Trump. ‘Trump is a high-floor but low-ceiling candidate,’ a Cruz adviser said. ‘He doesn’t have a path to 51 percent of the vote anywhere in America.’”

-- Kasich’s next big target is Pennsylvania, which votes April 26. Rubio’s campaign withdrew a challenge of the signatures Kasich had submitted to get on Pennsylvania’s primary ballot.

Visiting the Keystone State yesterday, Kasich made the case that neither Cruz nor Trump can win in November. "It's unlikely that anybody is going to achieve enough delegates to avoid a convention, and for those who worry about a convention, it'll be right in the open,” he said at Villanova. “I mean, there's no closed rooms, there's nothing but total transparency.” (David Weigel)

-- The Ohio governor’s immediate problem – he’s dangerously short on cash: From the Wall Street Journal: “Mr. Kasich’s campaign reported having just $1.5 million left to spend at the end of January, the least of any candidate in the race … His super PAC had just $2.3 million [and has since] spent at least $2.2 million, according to FEC filings. Among other issues, Mr. Kasich’s lack of cash hinders his ability to run advertisements in a campaign spanning the map … Last week, Kasich’s campaign and super PAC ran 2,463 ads, compared to 4,480 for Mr. Trump’s campaign and 4,473 for Mr. Cruz and his allies.” Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols said the campaign is on track for its “single greatest” 24-hour fundraising period of the race so far, but did not provide further specifics.

-- Fox canceled its GOP debate scheduled for next week after both Trump and Kasich backed out. Trump said he had a “very major speech planned” for AIPAC that day, and the Ohio governor said he would not participate without the GOP front-runner. Cruz said he's also speaking at AIPAC and would still like to debate. (Niraj Chokshi)


-- Five North Carolina sheriff's deputies have been temporarily suspended for their “unsatisfactory performances” at a Trump rally, where a protestor being escorted from the event was sucker-punched in the face. (Elahe Izadi)

-- The byzantine delegate-picking system in Illinois appears to have cost Trump: Delegates with “foreign,” or South Asian names, were found to have underperformed on ballots, allowing both Cruz and Kasich to net an extra vote for the convention. (David Weigel)

-- Are Trump playlists cultivating danger at rallies? Our pop music critic Chris Richards weighs in: “‘Tiny Dancer’ comes blaring from the speakers for the third time, weaponized at 100 decibels. Minutes later, a rumpled teen who has scribbled ‘Refugees matter’ onto a poster board is ambushed by Trump-Trump-Trumps and swiftly ejected from the building to the tune of Billy Joel’s ‘Uptown Girl.’ This is exactly how music is used most insidiously at Trump’s rallies. These songs don’t pump people up. They make everyone feel comfortable — in their indignation, in their suspicion, in their hostility. The songs that Trump has chosen couldn’t be more banal, yet it’s precisely their banality that makes them so incredibly effective. They infuse the hateful atmosphere he cultivates with an air of utter normalcy … In addition to agitating audiences, cranked volumes also stifle direct human conversation. Reporters have trouble interviewing folks at these rallies, which casts an ominous little prophecy: If you’d like to be heard in Donald Trump’s America, your options will be to shout or to be Donald Trump.”

-- Think about moving abroad to get away from President Trump? Think again. Minnesota radio personality Garrison Keillor pens a fun yarn for The Post, explaining why "exile is no bed of roses”: “In Boise or Tampa or Kansas City, you’re not a spokesperson for America, you’re just a great lover, a cool dude, and a smart cookie -- let de Tocqueville figure out what it means to be American … but when you go abroad, suddenly you’re hauling a knapsack full of nationality. I spent time in Europe during the George W. Bush era; I know.”


-- Sanders’s top staffers insist he can make up Clinton’s delegate lead and said they expect the Vermont senator to do well in Arizona, Idaho, New York, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin. “We are about halfway through … [and] the second half is much more favorable to Senator Sanders in terms of the calendar and geography,” said campaign manager Jeff Weaver.

The Vermont senator gave Clinton a run for her money in Missouri: With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Clinton "won" the state with a narrow lead of 310,602 to 309,071. But because the difference is less than 1 percent, Sanders has the right to request a recount four weeks from now – likely meaning a formal winner would not be declared until May.  

Why the nominating contest is basically over: “Do we have a new analogy for the heavyset lady that closes out the opera? No? Well, she hasn't yet sung, but she's waiting in the wings, warmed up and ready to go," writes Philip Bump. "In order for Sanders to pull even with Clinton in pledged delegates, he'd need to win 57.8 percent of the remaining delegates -- meaning, essentially, that he'd need to win about 57.8 percent of the vote in every remaining state. And once you include superdelegates -- who heavily favor Clinton -- in order to close the gap he'd need to win more than two-thirds of the delegates that are left.”

-- “Clinton’s Appalachian Problem,” by Bloomberg Politics's Sasha Issenberg:If Clinton becomes the party nominee, she will do so with a very different coalition than the one that helped her put ‘18 million cracks’ in the glass ceiling. On Tuesday, Clinton greatly increased her margins in urban areas where Obama triumphed during the 2008 primaries … fully integrating the non-white parts of the Obama coalition in areas with large African-American populations. But those gains were offset by significant losses among voters Clinton, until recently, considered a bedrock part of her primary coalition … Running against Sanders, Clinton is being abandoned by the voters Clinton infelicitously celebrated in May 2008 as ‘working, hard-working Americans, white Americans.’ They kept her afloat in the waning months of the 2008 calendar. ‘These are the people you have to win if you’re a Democrat in sufficient numbers to actually win the election,’ she told USA Today that May. ‘Everybody knows that.’”

-- Time, “The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy of Disliking Hillary Clinton,” by Deborah Tannen: “Clinton has been in the public eye for so long, journalists have long since formulated a storyline about her, as former presidential candidate Michael Dukakis observed. Their portrayal of her as ‘remote and programmed,’ is impervious to accounts by those who know or meet her -- she is actually warm, smart and funny. Yet the impression remains: she’s been the object of so many accusations and investigations, she must be doing something wrong. All these forces played a role in Clinton being seen as inauthentic and untrustworthy … and all are related to a double bind confronting women in positions of authority. Sanders is appealing when he comes across as tough by railing against Wall Street, [seen as] authentic. [But when] Clinton is tough, a characteristic many see as unfeminine, it doesn’t feel right, so she must not be authentic. This contrast is the metaphoric tip of a multifaceted iceberg of challenges facing Clinton because she’s a woman.”


Lightning struck the Trump Tower in Chicago on this week's primary night:

PBS Newshour ran a story Tuesday night about a family in North Carolina that supports Trump for president. The problem? One person featured has several visible white power tattoos that went unexplained, Gawker reported. Here's what the reaction was like on Twitter:

Here's a shot of a happy Hillary Clinton after Tuesday night's primaries:

Many journalists feel like Clinton vs. Trump will become a lesser-of-two-evils election:

More Republican elites are moving toward the fifth stage of grief when it comes to Trump:

Over at Power Post, we have a roundup of 19 different times Team Rubio expressed certainty that they'd win Florida:

Rick Wilson and Mike Murphy traded barbs:

Former Jeb Bush communications director Tim Miller sent an 'I-told-you-so' message to his "trolls":

Valerie Jarrett hosted Jen Welter at the White House:

The American Ireland Fund held their annual gala last night at the National Building Museum. Among the honorees was Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), a possible Clinton pick for VP. He broke out his harmonica for the after-party. Here's him performing with the 19th Street Band.

Brendan Buck received a special gift for his birthday:

View this post on Instagram

Birthday present

A post shared by Brendan Buck (@brendanbuckdc) on

John Dingell proved once again with this exchange that he is the king of Twitter. Of course, it was really all about finding Michigan basketball and March Madness:

Tim Ryan checked out the world's first 3D-printed car:

Tim Scott shot hoops at a charity basketball game:

D.C.-area residents are not pleased with this weekend's forecast. Here are some responses:

Will we ever have another president who looks like Van Buren? Judd Apatow says no:


-- US Weekly, “25 Things You Don’t Know About Me,” by Ted Cruz:

  • When I was in high school, (my parents) went bankrupt. I took out loans and worked two jobs to pay for Princeton.
  • I was once bitten by an octopus at the beach and got terribly ill.
  • In high school, I had a role in The Sound of Music twice. But I can’t carry a tune to save my life.
  • I was once suspended in high school for skipping class to play foosball.
  • I broke my hand playing basketball in law school [at Harvard] and almost had to take oral final exams.
  • My first car was a 1978 Ford Fairmont, nicknamed the Green Bomb.
  • I’m on level 350 of Candy Crush.
  • My favorite food is cheese. I hate avocados.
  • I’ve watched every episode of Criminal Minds, Game of Thrones, House of Cards and Breaking Bad.


The Economist calls Trump presidency one of top ten 'global risks.' From the Daily Kos: "The Economist Intelligence Unit  ... [has] marked the prospects of a named United States presidential candidate as one of the top ten risks to the world economy. For the April 2016 edition, 'Donald Trump wins the US presidential election' is ranked in severity between the possible Greece-inspired collapse of the euro zone and an increase in jihadi terrorism that rose to destabilize the world economy."



Michelle Obama says no plans to seek presidency. From AFP: "First lady Michelle Obama said Wednesday she had no desire to follow Hillary Clinton and run for president herself, saying she could have more impact outside of Washington's polarized politics. Obama made the remarks as she addressed the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, where she introduced a song for charity to support a UN-backed campaign to improve education access for the 62 million unschooled girls around the world."


On the campaign trail: Again, not much of a campaign schedule today. Sanders is in Flagstaff, Ariz. Clinton is in Nashville and Atlanta.

At the White House: President Obama participates in a conference call for supporters about Merrick Garland's confirmation process.

On Capitol Hill: The Senate meets at 9:30 a.m. The House meets at 9 a.m. for legislative business.

Here at The Post: On March 30, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius will interview Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work at Securing Tomorrow, a new live event series that will examine defense, intelligence and national security to better understand what’s at stake for the world in 2016 and beyond. Click here for more info.


“The media has created the perception that voters decide the nomination," Curly Haugland, the Republican national committeeman from North Dakota and a member of the RNC Rules Committee, complained to CNBC. He said the party gets to choose the nominee, not the people. 


-- A cloudy but relatively warm day ahead. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Mild temps and mostly sunny skies start the day but a few clouds pop up by midday. A stray shower or two are possible mid-to-late afternoon but most areas remain dry. Southwest winds pick up the pace during the day and gust up to 25 mph. Highs peak in the mid-to-upper 60s.”

-- The D.C. Council will hold a hearing on Muriel E. Bowser’s proposed family homeless shelters to determine how much taxpayer money would benefit a handful of well-connected private landowners and developers who are contributors to the mayor. (Aaron C. Davis and Jonathan O'Connell)

-- Legislative leaders in Maryland are pushing for a $290 million aid package that they say could help revive Baltimore. The group of eight bills would provide neighborhood revitalization and education programs, among other things. (Josh Hicks)


Trump said there could be riots if a brokered convention does not give him the nomination:

Ben Carson acknowledged that "it did work" when Trump called him a child molester. Watch here.

Who is Trump speaking with on foreign policy? His own brain, of course (click below for video):

Trump posted a nasty video on Instagram, featuring Clinton playfully barking like a dog during a recent speech. It says Vladimir Putin would laugh at her, and she'd be a punch line.

View this post on Instagram

Is this what we want for a President?

A post shared by President Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on

What does Elizabeth Warren think of Trump? She said she takes him "very seriously" (click below for video):

CNN's Jeff Zucker seemed pretty uncomfortable when asked if Trump is a demagogue:

John Kasich launched two new ads in Utah:

Watch Kasich learn he won Ohio:

The presidential campaign for Republican candidate John Kasich posted this video on Twitter the day after he won the GOP primary in Ohio. (John Kasich)

This super PAC ad compares Trump to Adolf Hitler:

Citizen Super Pac, which has a history of backing the Republican Party, funded this ad comparing GOP front-runner Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler. (Citizen Super Pac)

Finally, listen to the song by Missy Elliott, Kelly Clarkson, Lea Michele, Kelly Rowland and others inspired by Michelle Obama's Let Girls Learn Initiative: