THE BIG IDEA:
-- The big tent is being strained in a big way.
The Republican schism over Donald Trump is so sensational that it has overshadowed the equally problematic fissures that threaten to rip apart the three-legged stool Ronald Reagan built when he realigned American politics in 1980. Reagan forged a coalition with fiscal conservatives, national security hawks and social conservatives. The latter group was traditionally Democratic and went strongly for Jimmy Carter in 1976.
Trump’s success, whether or not he ultimately gets the GOP nomination in Cleveland, has highlighted an enormous disconnect between the party’s donor class and its base on a host of issues. Wealthy, conservative elites want comprehensive immigration reform, including a path to citizenship. They want free trade deals that the rank-and-file blame for lost jobs. They want entitlement reform that the base of the party, which is getting older every year, worries will endanger their Social Security and Medicare benefits. Hawks in Washington are more supportive of military intervention to project American power. The families who provide the “boots on the ground” are more leery about using force.
-- By giving the donor class more influence, the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United has further empowered fiscal conservatives at the expense of social conservatives.
-- The religious right has been making strides at limiting women’s access to abortion but remains on the defensive in the culture war over same-sex marriage. The Koch brothers, for example, are libertarians who see social issues as a distraction. Or, at best, a wedge to mobilize votes to advance their economic agenda. Billionaire Paul Singer, one of the GOP’s biggest donors, is an outspoken supporter of same-sex marriage and presses candidates he contributes to on this issue. Almost every single Republican operative in D.C. sees gay marriage as a settled issue after last year’s Supreme Court decision, but many in the grass roots disagree.
-- Fights playing out in the South this week reflect these broader trends.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) yesterday vetoed a religious liberties bill that had provoked outrage from corporations and major donors, who saw it as discriminating against gay and transgender people. Deal had to weigh the strong opposition of Republican donors like Arthur Blank, the co-founder of Home Depot and owner of the Atlanta Falcons, against the strong support from evangelical voters, who make up the lion’s share of the GOP electorate. Companies like AT&T, Bank of America and Delta also spoke out against the bill. “If signed into law, the Georgia bill would have allowed pastors to opt out of performing same-sex weddings and would have given religious organizations the ability to refuse certain services, including charitable services, if doing so clashed with their religious beliefs,” Sandhya Somashekhar explains. “Faith-based organizations also would have been permitted to use their religious beliefs to govern hiring and firing decisions.”
The script is reversed in North Carolina. A special session last week passed a law reversing civil rights protections for gay and transgender people that had been passed in the city of Charlotte and requires transgender people to use restrooms that correspond with their genders on their birth certificates. “The law, which was introduced, passed and signed by Gov. Pat McCrory (R) on the same day, also provoked criticism from businesses and sports leagues, including the National Basketball Association, which threatened to move next year’s All-Star game out of the state,” Sandhya notes.
-- One big difference between the Tar Heel State and the Peach State: McCrory is up for reelection this November, and Deal won his second term in 2014. McCrory needs votes right now more than he needs campaign donations or a friendly business climate. The North Carolina governor has pleased evangelicals, but he’s getting hammered in the local press, and businesses are threatening to move.
-- This tension is not new.
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence probably derailed his dream of one day becoming president with his botched handling last year of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. He signed the bill. Then after a week of backlash, largely from business-minded donors and the Indianapolis Star, he pushed his Republican legislature to pass a separate bill that explicitly provided protections for LGBT customers, employees and tenants. The result was that everyone was sort of unhappy with him, and he looked like a weak leader. Now he faces a tough reelection fight.
In Arizona, then-Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed a religious liberty bill in 2014 under pressure from the business community. Her move also angered social conservatives, but it ensured that the state could continue to host last year’s Super Bowl. In Arkansas, Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson refused to sign a religious freedom bill that passed the legislature after Walmart publicly opposed it. He later signed a watered-down compromise bill, which basically restates federal law.
-- Business groups, from Disney and Coca-Cola to the Atlanta Metro Chamber, praised the Georgia governor’s veto while social conservatives expressed outrage.
- “The Devil has gone down to Georgia again, but this time it was in the form of big business and cowardly politicians,” said Family Research Council President Tony Perkins. “Governor Deal’s veto of a watered-down religious liberty bill, which would have barely afforded pastors and priests protections from the state over their beliefs over natural marriage, reveals how LGBT activists and their allies in big business are now not even willing to allow religious freedom within the four walls of a church.”
- “A very large number of Southern Baptist congregations had committed to praying for Governor Deal yesterday during their Easter services. Issuing the veto the day after was just deeply insulting,” wrote conservative blogger Erick Erickson, who lives in Georgia. “On top that, the Governor really wants evangelicals to help him with his education reform effort. I sat in on a meeting last year where the Governor talked to faith leaders in the black community, many who also supported this legislation. The veto means the Governor is going to see his remaining agenda hijacked.… The issue will not only not go away, but if the Governor remains recalcitrant on the issue, it is going to become the biggest issue in the 2018 Republican gubernatorial primary. … What conservatives in Georgia are now seeing is that big businesses have the ear of Governor Deal in a way small businesses and churches do not.”
- “In failing to enact this bill, Governor Deal has worked to further isolate, alienate and stigmatize the millions of citizens with a religious belief about marriage,” the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention declared in a blog post. “Ultimately, Governor Deal has cowed to corporate interests and bowed to hype and fear, rather than the interests of Georgia’s faith community who he so fervently campaigned off of and has now ultimately, and memorably, failed.”
-- Ted Cruz, trying to get evangelical votes, piled on in Wisconsin. “I thought that was very disappointing to see Governor Deal in Georgia side with leftist activists,” Cruz told reporters outside a restaurant in Altoona.
-- These battles will rage on…
In the courtroom: The ACLU announced it will file suit on behalf of several individuals who say they will be harmed by the North Carolina law.
And in state capitols around the country: Other states are considering bills similar to both North Carolina’s and Georgia’s. Republican state Sen. Mike Crane, who helped shepherd the measure through the legislature in Atlanta, pledged to try overriding Deal’s veto. “This fight is not over,” he said.
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WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- An Egyptian plane carrying dozens of passengers and several crew members was hijacked by a passenger who claimed to be wearing an explosive belt. It was forced to land in Cyprus. "Egypt Air flight MS 181 was flying from the Egyptian city of Alexandria to Cairo, and was scheduled to land at 7.15 am before being diverted to Cyprus,” report Sudarsan Raghavan and Daniela Deane. “Egypt Air tweeted that its flight was ‘officially hijacked.’ Later, it tweeted that ‘negotiations ... resulted in the release of all the passengers, except the crew and four foreigners.’ It was not immediately clear how many crew members were on board the flight.”
- “Passengers were seen disembarking in waves from the Airbus at Larnaca airport carrying luggage. Some appeared to be wearing crew uniforms.… An Egyptian civil aviation authority spokesman told The Washington Post there were 56 people on board, including 30 Egyptians, 11 Italians, eight Americans, two Belgians, two Greeks, a French citizen and a Syrian.”
- “Egypt state television reported the hijacker was a Egyptian national named Ibrahim Samaha. Cyprus’s president said the hijacking incident was ‘not something which has to do with terrorism.'"
- Local media reports the hijacker is demanding asylum in Cyprus.
- “The hijacking arrives as militant attacks in Egypt have surged … driving tourists and foreign investors away … If the hijacker was able to get on the flight with an explosives belt or other kind of arms, it would be a major embarrassment to the Egyptian government, highlighting lingering concerns about the country’s poor airport security.”
-- The Justice Department asked a judge to dismiss an order compelling Apple’s assistance in unlocking an iPhone belonging to a San Bernardino terrorist after investigators found an alternate way into the phone, bringing some resolution to a months-long legal battle between the FBI and the tech giant. “It is unclear how investigators got into the phone or what FBI agents learned about the plot from the materials they were able to review,” writes Matt Zapotosky. “In a statement, Apple said: ‘From the beginning, we objected to the FBI’s demand.… We believed it was wrong and would set a dangerous precedent. As a result of the government’s dismissal, neither of these occurred. This case should never have been brought.’” (Read the government’s court filing here.)
-- But the government and Apple could face future legal spats: “The government will now be left to decide whether it will outline the method to Apple in keeping with a little-known process in which federal officials are supposed to consider disclosing security vulnerabilities they find."
-- Apple has egg on its face: The FBI’s announcement is an embarrassment for CEO Tim Cook and shows the risk of using a legal fight with the Justice Department to improve the iPhone’s brand. Apple boasted about its encryption and refusal to cooperate with the authorities. Now, instead of being the poster child for privacy, the tech giant’s products look more vulnerable to hacking than ever in the eyes of customers.
-- A man with a gun was shot by police yesterday afternoon at the U.S. Capitol’s Visitor Complex. "Authorities identified the wounded suspect as Larry Russell Dawson, a minister from Tennessee. The 66-year-old Dawson previously was arrested in October in the District after he allegedly disrupted Congress by shouting that he was a 'prophet of God,'" report Peter Hermann, Clarence Williams and Ian Shapira. "Police said Dawson walked into the visitor center about 2:40 p.m. Monday and was going through security screening when at least one officer opened fire. In the chaotic moments that followed, loudspeaker alerts warned tourists in the center of an 'active shooter,' and officers yelled at people to get down. 'My husband said he heard a shot followed by a full clip,' said Diane Bilo of Ohio, who was in the cafeteria as her husband and two of their children were in the visitor center."
- Monday night, police said Dawson had been charged with assault with a deadly weapon and assault on a police officer while armed. They said he was in stable but critical condition and would appear in D.C. Superior Court after his release from the hospital.
- Two officials familiar with the case said Dawson was shot in the chest and thigh.
- U.S. Capitol Police Chief Matthew R. Verderosa: "There is no reason to believe this is anything more than a criminal act.”
- "No officers were injured, but a female bystander between 35 and 45 years old suffered what appeared to be a minor injury and was taken to a hospital, the chief said, without elaborating on how she had been hurt. Two police officials said she had a wound on her face that they believe was caused by a bullet fragment."
Social video showed panic inside the Capitol Visitor Center:
Where it happened:
Here's the disturbance that the suspect caused last year:
GET SMART FAST:
- More than 7 million Americans are now at risk of “man-made earthquakes” caused by oil and gas drilling, according to a report from the U.S. Geological Survey. The assessment said individuals in Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Colorado, New Mexico and Arkansas are now just as likely to experience an earthquake as Californians. (Joel Achenbach)
- The FBI is investigating a computer virus at MedStar Clinic that forced the Washington health-care behemoth to shut down its email and records database. MedStar officials claim no information was stolen in the breach, which comes weeks after similar cyber attacks hit medical institutions in California and Kentucky. (John Woodrow Cox, Karen Turner and Matt Zapotosky)
- Gov. Jerry Brown announced California will raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022, a deal that gives the Golden State the highest mandated wages in the country. The governor said he hopes the plan will “lead the way” in reducing poverty, though opponents claim wage hikes will force employers to downsize. (Jim Tankersley and Lydia DePillis)
- The Obama administration is proposing a rule to increase medication-based treatment for thousands of Americans addicted to opioids. The proposal coincides with Obama’s trip to Atlanta today, where he will participate in a panel at the National Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit. (AP)
- The Supreme Court declined to review the case of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D), upholding an appeals ruling that he illegally sought money in exchange for filling Obama’s vacant Senate seat. The court next month will hear the case of former Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell (R), who was convicted of corruption for his efforts on behalf of a businessman who later bestowed gifts on the governor. (Robert Barnes)
- The Justice Department is resuming a controversial program allowing local police officers to keep assets seized from citizens, including those never charged with a crime. The federal “equitable sharing” program allows local authorities to keep up to 80 percent of assets they seize, which critics say incentivizes “policing for profit,” pushing cops to focus on payoff rather than justice. (Christopher Ingraham)
- Gov. Gary Herbert (R-Utah) signed a bill requiring the use of anesthesia in abortions at 20 weeks or later. Supporters say it prevents the fetus from feeling pain, but experts say the mandate will complicate procedures. (Sarah Kaplan)
- The Archdiocese of Boston agreed to cash and counseling settlements with seven victims of sexual abuse by priests. The church pays $778,500. (Boston Globe)
- Arctic Sea ice levels hit a record low for the second month in a row due to global warming. (Chris Mooney)
- Michael Bloomberg joined several philanthropists in donating $125 million to fund a new immunotherapy center at Johns Hopkins University. Scientists are heartened by new breakthroughs in the field, which fueled the recovery of former President Jimmy Carter, among others. (Laurie McGinley)
- Hip-hop mogul Sean Combs, or “Diddy,” quietly helped create a charter school his hometown of Harlem, N.Y. The school is set to open for the 2016-17 school year with 160 students. (New York Times)
- Researchers said they are closer than ever to developing a blood test to detect concussions. A study suggests a protein linked with head trauma may be present in concussion patients up to a week after injuries. (Ariana Eunjung Cha)
- An Australian man is being charged with murder after attempting to detain a burglar who broke into his home. (Lindsey Bever)
- A 26-year-old Delta Airlines employee was arrested in Palm Beach after he was caught carrying $282,400 in a backpack. The ex-employee faces charges of illegal money transmitting. (CNN)
- Prominent Florida blogger Javier Manjarres was charged with the attempted murder of his sister’s boyfriend. The “Shark Tank” blogger reportedly left the man with a broken nose and bullet holes in his pickup truck following an argument. (Sun-Sentinel)
- Seven people were charged in connection with the murder of a Georgia man who won the lottery. They were allegedly trying to steal his $434,272 instant prize. (WALB)
- A California woman set herself and her house on fire to avoid being evicted. The 44-year-old woman was rescued by her son and is being treated for burns at a local hospital. (Sarah Kaplan)
- A Utah woman died on the way to her mother’s funeral. She lost control of her vehicle. (Peter Holley)
-- Correction: Yesterday’s Big Idea incorrectly characterized the racial composition of Hawaii. I was trying to make the point that New York has a larger African American population than the trio of states that had low-turnout caucuses over the weekend. Hawaii, of course, is the least white state in the country. According to the Census Bureau, non-Hispanic whites account for 23 percent. The islands are 38 percent Asian. An additional 23 percent identify as mixed race. Hispanics account for another 10 percent, and African Americans account for 1.6 percent. Apologies to my friends in the Aloha State. (Alaska is 67 percent white, and Washington State is 81 percent white.)
-- Obama calls for more facts and fewer insults from the media: “The president lamented the 'divisive and vulgar' state of American politics at an annual journalism dinner in Washington, calling on reporters to hold politicians accountable. ‘People depend on you to uncover the truth,’ Obama said. ‘People [need to be] getting information that they can trust, that has substance and facts behind it.’ Although Obama hasn’t shied away from press criticism in office, this was his first major speech on the role of media in American democracy. Obama’s remarks often sounded like a lament for a bygone era of fact-based journalism before Twitter, Facebook and even cable television news. ‘What we’re seeing right now does corrode our society,’ he said. ‘When our elected officials and campaigns become entirely untethered to reason and facts; when it doesn’t matter what is true and what’s not, that makes it all but impossible for us to make decisions on behalf of future generations.'" (Greg Jaffe)
-- The death toll in Lahore, Pakistan, rose to 72, with another 230 injured. Security forces arrested a "number of terrorist suspects and facilitators" in at least five separate raids in cities across the Punjab province, where Lahore is located. From our Annie Gowen, Shaiq Hussain and Erin Cunningham:
- “The identification card of the suicide bomber was discovered amid the debris, which identify the bomber as Muhammad Yousaf Farid, born in 1988. Those reports could not be confirmed … Police in Lahore are investigating whether the suicide bomber – who detonated an explosives-packed vest in the crowded park— had accomplices. … Authorities reported a large cache of arms and ammunition was recovered in the operations, but did not specify where the weapons stockpile was found.”
- “Pakistani authorities noted that more Muslims than Christians were killed and injured. Of those who died at the scene, 14 were Christian, 44 were Muslim, and nine could not immediately be identified.”
- “Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif arrived in Lahore to visit the wounded in one of the city’s many hospitals ... He also announced that he was canceling a trip to Washington, where he had planned to attend this week’s nuclear summit.”
-- Belgian police issued a fresh call to help identify the “man in white,” one of the three attackers at the Brussels airport and the only man believed to have survived the bombings, Steven Mufson and Missy Ryan report: “The appeal came after investigators released Faysal Cheffou, a man who was taken into custody after he was thought to resemble the man in the airport footage. His release has reopened the manhunt for the 'man in white,' which gained new urgency as authorities raised the death toll from the attacks to 35. Nearly half of those killed were foreign nationals, including at least four Americans."
-- Meanwhile, top E.U. officials are calling for a “security union” to bolster pan-European policing and intelligence. "Some policymakers have proposed creating the European equivalent of an FBI — a security agency that would have sweeping powers to operate across borders. But Belgium’s staunchly-divided political system could complicate efforts," Michael Birnbaum explains. Its political dysfunction has come to be seen as a security problem, with the Molenbeek area of Brussels drawing special attention as a haven for radicalism. Politicians representing French-speaking Belgians “let this situation rot,” said the mayor of Antwerp. And Europe’s geography has contributed to security problems, with “Schengen areas,” that have no cross-border security force or intelligence agency, allowing travelers to pass freely among all 26 countries.
-- Turkish police are less sympathetic, saying they directly contacted Belgian officers last year when they deported one of the men who took part in last week’s attacks. From Karen DeYoung: “Belgian authorities acknowledged receiving diplomatic communications regarding the terrorist, information that Turkey’s foreign minister said was communicated to Belgium and the Netherlands through embassies in Ankara. Turkey and Europe have long mutually complained about lukewarm cooperation on terrorism matters, saying a ‘lack of political will’ exists between them."
WHAT’S UP IN WISCONSIN?
-- Scott Walker will announce who he is endorsing during a radio interview later this morning. The smart money is on him picking Cruz. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
-- Kasich’s campaign is pulling its radio ads in the state. Campaign spokesman Chris Schrimpf said they will “reallocate media in a dynamic atmosphere,” but declined to disclose further specifics. (Bloomberg)
-- Trump walked into a talk-radio buzzsaw. The local conservative radio hosts in the Badger State are particularly influential, and they hate The Donald. But his staff apparently booked him on the key shows without giving him a heads up. From David Weigel: "Fourteen minutes into a radio interview with Milwaukee-area host Charlie Sykes, he said, 'Mr. Trump, before you called into my show, did you know that I’m a #NeverTrump guy?' 'That I didn’t know,' Trump responded. The Wisconsin Journal Sentinel says Trump sounded perplexed by the hostility and reproach from right-leaning outlets. “I’m a little surprised that talk show hosts would be supporting somebody. You’d think there’d be a certain impartiality,” Trump told Green Bay radio host Jerry Bader, a supporter of Cruz. (Listen to the full Sykes interview here.)
-- Cruz is trying to position himself as some kind of working class hero ahead of next Tuesday's primary, by David Weigel in Madison: “Cruz has been demoing a new message for a voter bloc that has mostly spurned him. In TV ads and artfully staged rallies, Cruz is talking more about trade … Cruz’s economic pitch is an attempt to pour the old wine of supply-side into the even older bottles of ‘America first’ populism. Cruz’s basic plan, which would replace the current code with a 10 percent income tax and 19 percent ‘business flat tax,’ has remained unchanged and controversial since he introduced it last year. On trade and immigration, he has edged steadily closer to Trump’s position that current trade deals are unfair and undocumented workers suppress wages for everyone else.”
- “In one of three new TV ads, which began airing in Wisconsin over the weekend as part of a $350,000 buy, Cruz says that families are ‘worried they’re falling behind’ and promises to ‘raise wages and bring jobs back to America’ as the phrase ‘fair trade’ floats onscreen. Another, straight-to-camera ad has the senator sounding more populist than ever. A narrator promises that ‘Cruz’s plan will bring jobs back from China.’”
- “It’s a work in progress. The Ivy League lawyer who paces factories in ostrich-skin boots does not yet sound as natural as Trump – whose collars are even whiter.”
THE DAILY DONALD:
-- Trump’s campaign is opening a D.C. office to serve as “home base” for a delegate selections team and congressional relations staffers. Campaign adviser Barry Bennett says the office will open “as soon as next week.” (AP)
-- The Secret Service reaffirmed that firearms will not be allowed at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, putting the kibosh on a petition signed by 42,000 requesting they change policies to allow for open carry. (Niraj Chokshi)
-- Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.) gave away $3,000 donated to her by Trump, passing along the funds to two recuperation centers for wounded veterans in her congressional district. Comstock has not said whether she will support the nominee should he win the GOP nomination, though she previously called his proposal to ban Muslims from entering the country “unconstitutional” and “un-American.” (Rachel Weiner)
-- Eight out of 21 GOP senators up for re-election this year said they would “definitely” back Trump as the party’s nominee, according to a month-long NBC News survey. Six senators of the senators opted to “observe the rest of the primary season” first, and seven refused to answer. None of the 21 senators facing re-election said they planned to actively oppose Trump as the party’s nominee.
-- Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) said he hasn’t decided whether he would back Trump as a prospective party nominee, saying there are “too many unanswered questions.” “I would need to know where he stands on a lot of the issues,” said Lee, who has endorsed Cruz. (Buzzfeed)
-- Callum Borchers examines the “very cozy” relationship between Trump and the National Enquirer: “Let’s point out that Trump has a very friendly relationship with the Enquirer. At a minimum, the Enquirer's unsubstantiated story about Cruz affairs is the work of a publication with an obvious rooting interest in the election. Although the tabloid has printed sensational claims about other candidates — Bush had a former cocaine habit; Carson crippled surgical patients— Trump has been conspicuously spared this treatment, and it was later reported that Trump was behind the Carson story. What's more, a February Enquirer issue promising exposés about presidential candidates contained this faux revelation about Trump: ‘Donald Trump has also been hiding a secret — he has greater support and popularity than even he's admitted to!’ Ouch indeed.”
-- Trump and Cruz are battling it out for remaining delegates in Colorado. Cruz will definitely attend the state GOP assembly on April 9, with Trump and Kasich “tentatively” planning to go. From Politico: “Next week’s assembly offers Trump and Cruz a major opportunity to win a significant pile of delegates chosen almost completely by party insiders … Now, it’s up to the three candidates to convince the party to pick delegates who promise to vote in their favor. Cruz is eyeing Colorado as an opportunity to notch another win and prevent Trump from hitting the 1,237-delegate threshold needed to clinch the nomination before the convention ... Steve House, Colorado's GOP chairman, has put all [delegate candidate names] and allegiances on the state GOP website, which shows Cruz with more than 100 would-be delegates in his corner, compared to just over 70 for Trump. ‘Trump claims he's a great closer. Well, closing in Colorado is happening on April 8 and 9,’ said Congressman Ken Buck.”
-- The Trump campaign also announced it will file a formal complaint with the RNC over Louisiana’s delegate allocation. (Jose A. DelReal)
MORE ON THE DEMOCRATIC RACE
-- Sanders’ campaign says it has raised $4 million since his string of Saturday victories.
-- Top campaign operatives for Clinton and Sanders held nothing back in dueling conference calls with reporters. From MSNBC: “The top operatives sparred over upcoming New York primaries, superdelegates, and Sanders’ political morbidity. ‘Reports of our death are greatly exaggerated,’ Sanders’ top strategist Tad Devine said on the first call, plotting a course for Sanders to take over Clinton’s lead in California’s June primary. ‘You won’t even make it there,’ said Clinton campaign chief strategist Joel Benenson, adding that Vermont senator has ‘no credible path’ to the winning the nomination. And Sanders’ operatives said they are making a ‘big commitment’ in New York despite Clinton’s massive lead in the polls, calling him the ‘voice of New York.’ ‘Sanders may campaign like a Brooklynite, Benenson replied, but Clinton is ‘going to campaign like a senator.’”
-- “Sanders supporters' courtship of Clinton superdelegates may be backfiring." From Reuters: “Isabel Framer of Ohio, a superdelegate for Clinton, for example, got a voice mail last week urging her to vote for Sanders ‘in accordance with the will of the people.’ On the voice mail, the anonymous male caller says: ‘I think it’s crap that you get to vote whichever way you want... I’ll be watching your vote.’ Akilah Ensley, a North Carolina superdelegate, said she started hearing more often from Sanders supporters after her name appeared on a Wikipedia list noting her support for Clinton. ‘Some of them were nice, and some were rather abrasive,’ she said, adding ‘attacking my decisions is probably not the best way’ to change her mind. Luis Heredia, an Arizona superdelegate for Clinton, said he has received over 30 phone calls, emails and instant messages from Sanders supporters. ‘The majority of them are more angry, and the tone is more demanding,’ Heredia said. Lacy Johnson, an Indiana superdelegate backing Clinton, meanwhile, said he had received a mix of messages, including one that he said threatened: ‘we will make you pay.’”
-- Senate Democrats proposed holding April confirmation hearings for Merrick Garland followed by an up-or-down vote in May. The timeline is entirely symbolic, however, since Republican leaders have made clear they will not act on any Supreme Court nomination until after the election. (Mike DeBonis and Kelsey Snell)
-- Illinois's Mark Kirk will become the first Republican senator to sit down with Garland today.
-- In Wisconsin, Clinton said Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley should “step up and do his job.” And Grassley hit right back just as hard, saying the former secretary of State seized on the issue as a “scapegoat” to distract from the FBI investigation into her emails. “I see a person who has recently been badly defeated in three states,” Grassley said. “I see a person that the FBI is getting ready to question her about the emails … and she’s trying to change the story to something else.” (Kelsey Snell reports from Iowa)
-- “Former Defense Intelligence Agency deputy had ‘personal limousine service’ to work, says report,” by Greg Miller: “There are a lot of things in Washington that spies dread. Being summoned to testify before Congress. Sitting down for a polygraph test. Further down the misery scale is making the commute to Joint Base Bolling-Anacostia, a sprawling compound where the Defense Intelligence Agency is based. The agency’s former deputy director routinely avoided having to make that drive through a commenting arrangement that caught the eye of the Pentagon inspector general ... Instead of driving from his home to Bolling, former DIA deputy director David R. Shedd would park his car at a closer intelligence facility, briefly go into an office there, and then get into a Pentagon-provided vehicle for the rest of the trip. Shedd’s way of getting to work ‘could be characterized as a personal limousine service,’ the inspector general concluded. Shedd, who retired six months before the inspector general’s report, vehemently disputed report, saying travel was ‘100 percent for work.’”
-- “The latest destination for China’s billions: U.S. hotels,” by Abha Bhattarai: “A business group led by a Beijing insurance firm significantly raised its multibillion-dollar bid to buy Starwood Hotels and Resorts, one of the largest hotel companies in the U.S., providing the latest example of Chinese interest in prime American real estate. Anbang Insurance Group offered $14 billion in cash for Starwood, roughly $400 million more than a competing proposal from Marriott International … If successful, Anbang’s acquisition would mark the largest purchase of a U.S. company by a Chinese firm. The deal is among a flurry of deals being pursued by cash-flush Chinese companies hunting for safer investments overseas … Already this year, Chinese companies have announced plans to buy 153 foreign companies worth $103 billion, according to Dealogic, a data research firm in New York. “Where the Chinese lead is that they’re willing to pay a premium in order to go forward,” Mermelstein said. “There are very few that can compete with the Chinese in terms of dollar amounts.”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Sanders supporter Susan Sarandon made waves when she suggested she wouldn't turn out for Clinton:
Commentators on the left did not respond well:
Former Cruz aide Amanda Carpenter blasted Trump's attitude toward women:
Trump's social media director responded to Carpenter's tweets by linking to a video that agues she had an affair with Cruz (something she vigorously denies):
Here's how Carpenter responded:
Their back-and-forth continued:
The White House celebrated Easter with its annual Egg Roll:
Beyonce, Jay-Z and Blue Ivy were in attendance:
Here are other images from the day, including Obama holding another baby:
Maryland's junior senator met with Garland:
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
-- “G.O.P. Women Try to Reach Other Women With Their Own Message,” by Carl Hulse: “When Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers took a position in the House leadership, she knew she had a lot of work to do. Her party had lost multiple constituencies, and she was bothered by the party’s poor standing with women. Acutely aware that the Democrats [would likely] have a woman topping their ticket in 2016, McMorris Rodgers and some female colleagues undertook an unconventional campaign. They decided to reach out to women via women’s magazines … recording upbeat tales of Republican women through the pages of Glamour, Marie Claire, and Elle. Now, [they] face not only the prospect of Clinton as the Democratic nominee, but also Trump as their nominee. They fear that his well-documented negative remarks about women could unravel their efforts to cast Republican women in a positive light … ‘I find [Trump’s comments] inappropriate,’ McMorris Rodgers said. ‘I find them hurtful and hurtful to the party, a party founded on equal opportunity for all.’”
-- Will the GOP nominee pick one of his rivals for VP? It’s actually pretty rare in the post-war era: “Republicans have selected a vice presidential nominee who was a failed candidate for president that cycle just once since 1948 – George H.W. Bush in 1980,” the University of Minnesota’s Smart Politics blog notes. “Only one other running mate chosen during this six-plus decade span had ever previously run for the nation’s highest office – Jack Kemp in 1996, who had a failed bid in 1988. Meanwhile, during this 16-cycle span, Democrats have selected five vice presidential nominees who came up short in their bids for the White House that cycle: Estes Kefauver in 1956, Lyndon Johnson in 1960, Walter Mondale in 1976, John Edwards in 2004, and Joe Biden in 2008. It was not always the case that Republican VP nominees were so rarely chosen from the pool of that cycle’s failed presidential candidates. During seven of the nine cycles between 1916 and 1948, the VP pick had run for president that year.”
HOT ON THE LEFT:
“Ex-Trump Aide Fired For Racist Facebook Posts Endorses Cruz,” from Talking Points Memo: “A former Trump adviser fired over his racially charged Facebook posts endorsed Cruz. Sam “Nunberg, who was fired last summer over posts … using the N-word in reference to Rev. Al Sharpton's daughter, [said] Trump’s failure to denounce an endorsement from former KKK leader David Duke was one of his ‘last straws.’" Remarkably, the publication that broke the news did not mention why he got fired...
HOT ON THE RIGHT:
“Obama Admin Funds Blitz To Naturalize Anti-Trump Voters,” from Daily Caller: “The Obama administration is supporting several non-profit groups — with federal funding through a major White House initiative — that are part of an organized effort aimed at converting green-card holders into U.S. citizens in order to vote against Trump. ... The group is also affiliated with one of the leftist groups that helped shut down a Trump rally in Chicago earlier this month."
On the campaign trail: Once again, everyone is in Wisconsin. Here is the rundown:
- Clinton: Milwaukee, La Crosse and Green Bay
- Sanders: Appleton and West Allis
- Trump: Janesville
- Cruz: Brookfield
- Kasich: Waukesha
At the White House: President Obama travels to Atlanta to speak at the National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit. Vice President Biden speaks at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore on the cancer moonshot initiative, then speaks at the International Women of Courage Awards at the State Department.
On Capitol Hill: The Senate and House are out of session.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
Fidel Castro, in his first statement since Obama’s trip to Cuba, said the president’s “sugary” diplomatic calls for brotherhood and diplomacy were enough to give locals a “a heart attack.”
“We don’t need any gifts from the empire,” he scoffed in an article published by a Cuban Communist Party newspaper. (Karen DeYoung)
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- Another sunny day with lots of bluster. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Mostly sunny skies, but still windy thanks to a tight pressure gradient between a Great Lakes high and a Canadian low. Winds from the northwest range from 15-20 mph with gusts to 30. The winds feel brisk/cool thanks to the dry air from the north. Nonetheless, we still manage to reach highs in the upper 50s to lower 60s.”
-- The Capitals beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-1, clinching the President’s Trophy for the second time in franchise history.
-- American University President Neil Kerwin announced plans to step down in May 2017, after serving in the position for more than a decade. He will take a sabbatical and then return as faculty. (Susan Svrluga)
-- A Maryland Senate panel delayed its confirmation vote for former Larry Hogan aide Michael T. Richard after he was accused of improperly collaborating with the governor’s office while serving on the Public Service Commission on an interim basis. The committee did not set a new date for the vote. (Josh Hicks)
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
TRAGEDY: "Last year, 12-year-old Zarriel Trotter spoke out against the violence roiling his Chicago neighborhood. 'I don’t want to live around my community where I’ve got to keep on hearing and hearing: People keep on getting shot, people keep on getting killed,' Trotter said in a public service announcement about the effect of gun violence on the city’s black youth. The video won an award, but gun violence in Chicago only got worse. And on Friday, in a tragic and ironic twist, Trotter became one of its latest victims. Trotter, now 13, was struck by a stray bullet Friday night while walking home after playing basketball, according to the Chicago Tribune. He was shot in the back, close to his spine, and remains in critical condition. No one else was injured, and there have been no arrests so far." Read Michael E. Miller's story here. Watch the video here:
"Mean girls" reading Trump’s tweets works surprisingly well:
A new DNC video blames the GOP for creating Trump:
Take a look behind the scenes of the Obamas' recent trip:
Gif of the day: FLOTUS (sort-of) nae-naeing:
Watch Cruz's awkward ALS challenge video from 2014:
Here are six things you might not know about Ivanka Trump:
Finally, Judge Judy gave Sarah Palin advice for her new TV show: