With Breanne Deppisch
During the 2016 campaign, I spent a lot of time trying to answer a simple question: Had Donald Trump followed through on his many public promises to donate money to charity?
The answer, for the most part, was “no.” Although Trump had spent years promising to give away his money – the proceeds from Trump University, his salary from “The Apprentice,” the money he made renting a tent to Moammar Gaddafi – I couldn’t find much evidence he’d actually done it. In fact, after trying 450 charities, I’d found only one gift to charity from Trump’s own pocket in the years between 2008 and 2015. And it was for less than $10,000. I also found that Trump had used his personal charity, the Donald J. Trump Foundation – which was filled with other people’s money – in ways that seemed to break the law.
And, along the way, I learned something about the president’s personality, by studying a lot of small decisions – when Trump gave money, and when he didn’t – that Trump made when he thought nobody was looking.
Now that Trump is in the White House, some of the same behavior patterns have appeared again. There are three main lessons that we learned last year….and now seem to be learning again:
1. The president’s decision-making is guided more by personal relationships than abstract ideals, and by short-term goals rather than long-term strategy.
One of the surprising themes of Trump’s charitable record was that it seemed to have no theme. Even when Trump was giving away other people’s money – through the Donald J. Trump Foundation – he didn’t focus that money on a particular university, or hospital, or other charity. [Eric Trump, by contrast, largely funneled his charity’s money to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis]. The money Trump gave away was instead scattered across a variety of vastly different nonprofits, everything from a charity for gay and lesbian youth to an outfit run by conservative provocateur James O’Keefe. When I dug into those individual donations, I found that they were often driven by Trump’s social or business connections: he gave to charities that were honoring his friends, or to charities that rented ballrooms from him at the Mar-a-Lago Club.
The result was that Trump – a man who loves putting his name on things – wound up with almost no physical evidence of his charitable giving.
I searched for any items that a charity had named in Trump’s honor, and came up with a theater seat in New Jersey, a theater seat in Florida, and a park bench in New York. By thinking only in the short-term, and tending to relationships rather than seeking a broader cause, Trump had missed a chance to make a real difference in the world – and to burnish his personal brand with a monument to his philanthropy.
As president, of course, Trump has seemed to prize personal relationships, and short-term wins, above long-term policy aims. He backed off tough rhetoric about China’s role in North Korea, after getting a 10-minute tutorial from Chinese President Xi Jinping. He was pulled away from his campaign-trail rhetoric on health care – promising to “take care of everybody” – by a desire for a policy “win,” and the wiles of a strong negotiator: House Freedom Caucus leader Mark Meadows (R-N.C.). In fits of pique, Trump has Twitter-roasted the very people whose help he will need later to make deals, like Freedom Caucus members and top Senate Democrat Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.).
The result, after nearly 100 days, is a familiar one. Trump’s list of presidential achievements so far looks like the policy equivalent of two theater seats and a park bench.
2. The president’s social world is rather small, and the peer group he values most – seeking out their advice and company – is defined by wealth, and centered in South Florida and New York.
In my charity reporting, I was surprised to find that Trump – a businessman with a global reputation, and a candidate with a zeal for forgotten voters in rural America – had given almost all his donations to charities in just two places: New York and Palm Beach. There were exceptions to that rule, but not many. Trump gave to charities in Chicago and Los Angeles, but these turned out to be related to contestants he met on “The Celebrity Apprentice.” He gave to a cancer charity in Buffalo, but that was related to a favor he’d asked of another guy named Donald Trump, who was a cancer doctor in Buffalo. He gave to a few conservative groups, as he was beginning his ascent in GOP politics.
But the lesson seemed to be that Trump divided his world into customers and peers (though the peers were often customers, too). He usually donated money to keep up relationships with peers, so his donations showed how narrowly his peers were clustered – in the two places Trump has spent the bulk of his adult life.
Now – even after winning an upset victory by capturing the hopes of rural and middle-class voters –President Trump’s most precious commodity has not been his money but his time. And he has given that time disproportionately to the same peer group he gave his money . Trump has spent about one-fifth of his presidency in Palm Beach, according to calculations by my colleague Philip Bump. He has not yet taken a trip west of the Mississippi River. And even within his inner circle, populists like former Breitbart News leader Steve Bannon are said to be losing ground to other advisers who came from the world of New York’s wealthy elite. They include chief economic advisor Gary Cohn, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
3. The president’s marketing strategy relies on promising big results -- and he relies on the assumption that public promises will be kept.
During my research, I went back and catalogued Trump’s promises to donate money to charity. I was struck by how many he’d made: in all, Trump’s public pledges after 2001 totalled $8.5 million or more. Usually, Trump didn’t name which charity he planned to help, which made it hard to check whether he’d kept his word. I searched far and wide, and found little evidence he did. I also found at least one case where Trump had made a specific pledge to a specific charity – a $250,000 promise to a charity that helps Israeli soldiers and veterans – and didn’t pay up (Another unnamed person paid Trump’s pledge instead, the charity said.)
But Trump seemed to suffer little reputational damage. The media covered his promise, but -- since Trump was just a reality-TV star, not a presidential candidate -- they didn’t usually check on the follow-through. During the campaign, when The Washington Post pressed Trump to supply details of his giving, he refused.
“I give mostly to a lot of different groups,” Trump said in one interview.
“Can you give us any names?” asked The Post’s Drew Harwell in May.
“No, I don’t want to. No, I don’t want to,” Trump responded. “I’d like to keep it private.”
Since his election, Trump has repeatedly used this tactic: promising major actions and revelations, and relying on the public belief that a president will keep promises. On a Saturday in late December, he promised to deliver major news about Russian hacking on “Tuesday or Wednesday.” He didn’t. Then, in January, he promised a major report on hacking “in 90 days.” This month, the 90th day passed with no report. He promised a “major investigation” into voter fraud during the 2016 election, but since then media reports have indicated that the investigation is going slowly, or not at all.
But this tactic is far harder to pull off now, because Trump and his promises are under far more scrutiny. This week, a Gallup poll found that only 45 percent of Americans believe Trump “keeps his promises,” a number that was down 17 points just since February.
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WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- Arkansas carried out its first execution in more than a decade Thursday, after the U.S. Supreme Court, in a last-minute series of orders, rejected requests by a death row inmate to stay his lethal injection. The eleventh-hour execution warrant would have expired four minutes after the prisoner was pronounced dead. Mark Berman reports: “The execution followed a wave of criticism and tumult in Arkansas, which had set an unprecedented scheduled of executions, plans that were imperiled by a round of court orders halting at least some of the eight lethal injections originally set for April. As part of its aggressive scheduling, which the state said was needed before one of its lethal-injection drugs expired, Arkansas had planned to carry out back-to-back executions on Thursday night at a state prison … But that was abandoned when a state court blocked one of those lethal injections, and officials instead focused solely on plans to execute Ledell Lee, 51.
“Court stays on Thursday night pushed the execution to the final minutes before the death warrant expired. Arkansas plans to carry out three more executions next week, although more court challenges are likely. Already, court orders have blocked off four of the other lethal injections planned this month.”
-- An Egyptian American charity worker imprisoned in Cairo for three years returned home to the United States Thursday, following quiet intervention from the Trump administration to negotiate her release. Philip Rucker and Karen DeYoung report: “[Trump] and his aides worked for several weeks with Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi to secure the freedom of Aya Hijazi … as well as her husband [and] four other humanitarian workers. Trump dispatched a U.S. government aircraft to Cairo to bring Hijazi and her family to Washington. Hijazi … was working in Cairo with the Belady Foundation, which she and her husband established as a haven and rehabilitation center for street children in Cairo.” Virtually no evidence was ever presented against the couple or their co-workers, and their charges were widely dismissed by human rights workers and U.S. officials as false.
The Obama administration unsuccessfully pressed Sissi’s government for their release, our colleagues write – but it was not until Trump moved to reset U.S. relations with Egypt by embracing Sissi at the White House that its posture changed: ‘Last Sunday, a court in Cairo dropped all charges against Hijazi and the others. [Jim] Mattis and deputy national security adviser Dina Powell, who were already planning to visit Egypt this week, met with Sissi on a range of topics. Hijazi and Hassanein reunited with the Hijazi family in Cairo this week, and as Mattis traveled on to Israel, Powell, who was born in Egypt and has helped smooth relations between the two countries, stayed behind to accompany the group, the senior administration official said.” The travelers touched down in Washington Thursday evening. Today, Hijazi and her brother will visit the White House to meet with President Trump, as well as Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.
GET SMART FAST:
- General Motors announced Thursday that it is pulling out of Venezuela after authorities seized its auto plant in the wake of massive anti-government protests that erupted in Caracas a day earlier. GM slammed the expropriation of its factory as an “illegal judicial seizure of its assets.” While they are not the first company whose assets have been confiscated by Venezuela’s socialist government, such actions are typically preceded by multiple public threats. (Nick Miroff)
- Berkeley said it will allow conservative firebrand Ann Coulter to speak at the university, reversing a Wednesday decision to cancel her appearance amid fears of violent, politically-charged protests that have recently erupted in and around the school. But officials have reportedly placed strict conditions on the event, and the Republican group organizing her appearance suggested they may reject the terms. (William Wan and Susan Svrluga)
- Members of an Iranian “vetting council” have disqualified former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from running for office, barring from competition a deeply polarizing figure whose shocking registration in the race was announced last week. Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei previously urged him not to run. (AP)
- Russia has effectively banned Jehovah’s witnesses from the country, after its Supreme Court sided with the Kremlin in a case that classifies the Christian group as “extremists” who pose a “threat” to public order and security. The decision – which allows the government to seize and liquidate nearly 395 churches – comes as the latest iteration of Russia’s decades-long persecution against the religious group, and sparked fear the Kremlin to go after other religious minorities. (Amanda Erickson)
- German prosecutors arrested a 28-year-old German-Russian citizen on suspicion of carrying out a bomb attack last week on a bus carrying members of the Borussia Dortmund soccer team, which blasted out its windows and left one player injured. Officials said the suspect was staying at a nearby hotel on the day of the attack, and had bought a “considerable” amount of team stock in hopes of profiting from potentially-plummeting shares after the blast. (CNN)
- Years after the Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 disappeared somewhere over the Indian Ocean with 239 people on board, prompting a sprawling investigation that remains one of the greatest mysteries in modern aviation, the airline has announced it will begin tracking its flights from space. They’re the first airline to incorporate the technology, which officials say will allow access to “minute-by-minute, 100% global flight tracking data” for all its planes. (Amy B Wang)
- The FDA warned parents against giving children prescription medicines containing codeine or tramadol, saying the opioids could cause severe breathing problems, and even death. Federal regulators ordered manufactures to make label changes warning against use for those under age 12. They also warned breast-feeding mothers to avoid using the medicines while nursing. (Laurie McGinley)
Lawyers for the Cherokee Nation are suing major drug firms and retailers in the U.S. for “flooding” its communities in Oklahoma with hundreds of millions of highly-addictive pain pills – accusing the groups of turning a blind eye to problems caused by opioid drugs, even as they circulated into the black market and “decimated” the nation’s 14 counties in the state. (Scott Higham and Lenny Bernstein)
- A New York man was indicted on fraud charges after he spent years pretending to be a registered architect – a case so closely resembling a “Seinfeld” plot that even the state’s attorney general couldn’t resist acknowledging the parallels. (New York Times)
- Naked mole rats are some of the most delightfully bizarre creatures in the animal kingdom. They are incapable of getting tumors, immune to types of chronic pain, and pack, some 300-strong, into underground colonies where they are ruled like insects by a mole-rat queen (and can survive past age 30). Now, scientists have discovered the strangest fact of all: when deprived of oxygen, they live like plants. The wrinkly creatures are capable of switching their body’s energy source from glucose – what humans and all other mammals use – to fructose, used by trees and root vegetables. (Ben Guarino)
TERROR STRIKES PARIS BEFORE FRENCH ELECTION :
-- ISIS claimed responsibility after a gunman opened fire on the famed Champs Elysees boulevard in Paris, killing one police officer and injuring two others just days before the start of the high-stakes French presidential election. Officials said the gunman was shot and killed by authorities as he attempted to flee the scene. James McAuley and William Branigin report: “According to [a police spokesman], the gunman opened fire on the police with an AK-47 assault rifle, targeting officers who were near a Marks and Spencer store on the corner of the busy avenue.
“Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Front party, wasted no time in using the attack as the latest evidence in her call for France to intensify its fight against ‘Islamist terrorism.’ By contrast, Emmanuel Macron, the popular independent candidate vying for the presidency, was quick to argue against any fearmongering. ‘We must not yield to fear today,’ he said Thursday. ‘This is what our assailants are waiting for, and it’s their trap.’
Former President Obama gently waded into France’s heated political fight earlier in the day, speaking by phone with center-left presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron -- considered the best-placed contender to stave off a victory by Le Pen. A spokesman for Obama said he does not plan to make a formal endorsement. Politico reports that Macron – who shares a pro-E.U. ideology similar to Obama’s vision for global politics – had sought the call.
-- The attack has darkened the final day of campaigning in France’s pivotal election, stoking fears of terrorist violence and causing candidates to suspend final-pitch campaign events before polls open Sunday. James McAuley reports: Analysts were quick to say the shooting was particularly advantageous for the right-wing, anti-immigrant presidential contenders -- especially ... Le Pen, known for her anti-immigrant views and sharp criticisms of “Islamist terrorism.”
Despite an earlier promise not to campaign, Le Pen held an impromptu press conference Friday morning, calling on the French government to immediately reinstate border checks and expel foreigners being monitored by the intelligence services. “My government of national unity will implement this policy, so that the Republic will live, and that France will live,” she said.
By contrast, Macron was quick to argue against any fearmongering: "We must not yield to fear today," he said Thursday. "This is what our assailants are waiting for, and it’s their trap."
SOME ELECTION-EVE ANALYSIS --> Most commentary about the French election essentially still comes down to one concern, The New York Times' Kamel Daoud writes: Could Le Pen really become president? “In both casual conversation and specialized coverage, in France, Europe and elsewhere, the answer to that question is often amazingly presumptuous: Ms. Le Pen will make it to the second round of the election, but she won’t become president. Hardly anyone seems to contemplate the possibility of her winning outright, with a simple majority, in the first round of voting this Sunday. Most polls promise the reassuring prospect of a final duel. … But it masks a peculiar form of denial no one wants to recognize as a potentially terrible mistake. And it leads to this contradiction: Even as the mainstream discusses the need to mobilize against a Le Pen presidency — with a ‘vote utile,’ or tactical vote — it dismisses the very possibility that she might win.
“Their analysis of the rise of populism is out of sync. It rests on assumptions, faulty reasoning and denial. The prospect of a Le Pen presidency upsets a kind of political positivism: the view that democracy can go only from good to better, from being a necessity to being a right. Ms. Le Pen’s election would run counter to the course of history, the reasoning goes, and therefore it cannot be. This is a happy ending for elites: a narrative convention, a marketable concept, a variant form of utopia — and the basis of an irrational political analysis.”
GET READY FOR NEXT WEEK:
-- Trump is turning up the heat on Congress to pass a new health-care overhal, pressuring lawmakers despite major remaining obstacles to a beleaguered plan and a high-stakes deadline next week to avoid a government shutdown. Paige Winfield Cunningham, Kelsey Snell and John Wagner report: In a news conference Thursday, Trump touted progress on the effort, telling reporters “We’re doing very well on health care.” “The plan gets better and better and better, and it’s gotten really good, and a lot of people are liking it a lot,” he said. “We have a good chance of getting it soon. I’d like to say next week, but we will get it.” Negotiations are being carried out largely by Tom MacArthur, head of the moderate Tuesday Group, and Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows, while House leadership and committees are taking a secondary role.
“The effort reflects Trump’s sense of urgency to score a victory on Obamacare replacement and move on to other legislative objectives, notably tax restructuring,” our colleagues write. “[But] several congressional GOP aides … said they worry that the rushed process threatens to create another embarrassing public failure over health care. The schedule would also make it nearly impossible for lawmakers to finish their work in time for official scorekeepers to provide a clear estimate of how much the legislation would cost or how it would affect coverage numbers.”
-- Meanwhile, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said he hopes to use negotiations on the spending bill to force Democrats to include funding for Trump’s border wall, signaling openness to funding some of their priorities if Democrats agree to fund some of the more controversial parts of his agenda. Kelsey Snell and Damian Paletta report: “The new request threatens to undermine weeks of negotiations between Republican leaders and Democrats in Congress to pass a stopgap spending bill to avoid a government shutdown. The negotiations so far have excluded talk of the border wall, which Republicans have argued should be taken up later to keep the government open. … Mulvaney stopped short of saying that the White House would refuse to sign a spending agreement that does not include those priorities, but he made clear that he expects Democrats to reopen talks.”
- Democrats saw his comments as evidence that the White House is meddling to undermine what they characterized as successful, bipartisan talks. “Everything had been moving smoothly until the administration moved in with a heavy hand,” said Matt House, a spokesman for Sen. Chuck Schumer. “Not only are Democrats opposed to the wall, there is significant Republican opposition as well.”
- “Elections have consequences,” Mulvaney told the AP Thursday. “There are a lot of people on the Hill, especially in the Democratic Party, who don't like the wall, but they lost the election,” he said.
-- “Republican said privately it would be helpful for Mulvaney and the White House to concede that the Democrats are not going to fund the wall and move on,” Politico reports. “But there is a combative element to the divided Trump White House that believes otherwise[:] ‘There are people in the West Wing who want the shutdown fight because they think that’s how you get things done. And there is another faction in the White House that knows that’s a bad idea,’ said a senior House Republican aide. Still, many Democrats are open to giving Trump some concessions to receive funding on their domestic priorities as part of a deal, which would likely mean more money for defense spending and some money for border security — but not a border wall. ‘Democrats have essentially accepted they’ll have to swallow some kind of defense [and] border funding and are OK with that as long as it’s not to build a stupid wall,’ said a House Democratic source.”
-- Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the administration will move to complete its overhaul of the tax code by the end of the year, even if health-care plans stall. Damian Paletta and Max Ehrenfreund report: “Whether health care gets done or doesn’t get done, we’re going to get tax reform done,” Mnuchin said Thursday. Meanwhile, he said economic growth that would result from the proposed tax cuts would be so extreme – close to $2 trillion over 10 years – that it would “pay for itself.” Some other new revenue would come from eliminating certain tax breaks, although he would not specify which ones. “In his argument, reducing business and individual tax rates will unleash so much economic growth that the lost revenue will be almost completely recouped,” Elise Viebeck notes. (This view has many skeptics...)
-- Meanwhile, House Republicans are launching an aggressive effort to undo Obama-era Wall Street regulations, an effort which could potentially offer the industry sweeping relief from dozens of rules, according to draft legislation. Renae Merle and Jonnelle Marte report: “The nearly 600-page draft … takes aim at several critical portions of 2010’s Dodd-Frank Act, including weakening the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and ditching rules that restrict banks’ ability to make risky financial bets. [House Financial Services Chairman] Jeb Hensarling has been working on the legislation for more than a year and initially introduced a version last year. Now, [Trump] has made regulatory relief a priority and has promised several times to ‘do a number’ on Dodd-Frank, giving Hensarling’s legislative efforts new life. The Financial Services Committee is scheduled to hold its first hearing on the bill next week. While it has a good chance of being approved in the House, it still faces long odds in the Senate, where it would need to gain the support of some Democrats.
- “At its core, the proposed legislation offers the country’s nearly 6,000 banks a choice: If they want to avoid many of the regulatory burdens imposed by Dodd-Frank, they must significantly increase their emergency financial cushion. That way even if they run into financial trouble, the banks will have enough money to survive without taxpayers’ help, Hensarling has said. Most big banks are likely to forgo that option. … Still, the bill proposes several changes that could provide significant relief to Wall Street and, in some cases, goes further than even industry officials had hoped.”
"I [DO NOT?] LOVE WIKILEAKS?":
-- The Justice Department is debating whether to bring criminal charges against members of WikiLeaks, further reviewing a 2010 leak of diplomatic cables and military documents, and investigating whether the group bears criminal responsibility for more recent revelations of sensitive CIA cyber-tools. Matt Zapotosky and Ellen Nakashima report: “The Justice Department under [Obama] decided not to charge WikiLeaks for revealing some of the government’s most sensitive secrets — concluding that doing so would be akin to prosecuting a news organization for publishing classified information. [Under Trump’s leadership, however, the DOJ] has indicated to prosecutors that it is open to taking another look at the case … Prosecutors in recent weeks have been drafting a memo that contemplates charges against members of the WikiLeaks organization, possibly including conspiracy, theft of government property or violating the Espionage Act, officials said. The memo, though, is not complete, and any charges against members of WikiLeaks, including founder Julian Assange, would need approval from the highest levels of the Justice Department.”
-- It is unclear whether prosecutors are also looking at WikiLeak’s role in distributing emails from the DNC and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta that U.S. officials say were hacked by Russia. Still, the decision comes as a notable shift after Trump famously declared at a Pennsylvania rally last year, “I love WikiLeaks!” (Last week, CIA Director Mike Pompeo denounced the group as a “non-state, hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors, like Russia.”) (Elise Viebeck)
TRUMP WORLD, CONT'D:
-- Trump quietly met a pair of former Colombian presidents last weekend at Mar-a-Lago, thrusting his administration into a decades-long Latin America power struggle that could risk undermining the country’s controversial peace agreement with leaders of the FARC rebel group. McClatchy reports: “Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos is expected to push Trump to support the peace accord with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia at their first meeting at the White House next month. He wants the Trump administration and Congress to maintain the $450 million in foreign aid promised by [Obama] to implement the plan to end Latin America’s longest armed conflict.” Colombian reports say the meeting between Trump and former presidents Álvaro Uribe and Andrés Pastrana was arranged by Sen. Marco Rubio, a critic of the peace plans – and has raised questions about whether Trump intends to support the plan. The meeting was not on Trump’s schedule, and was not disclosed to reporters who traveled with him to Palm Beach.
- As Colombian media exploded with speculation about the meeting and its potential significance, White House officials downplayed the encounter. Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders characterized it as “mere coincidence”: “They were there with a member from the club and briefly said hello when the president walked past them,” she said. “There wasn’t anything beyond a quick hello.” But the comments from the Colombian leaders contradict the White House’s characterization: Pastrana thanked Trump in a tweet later for the “cordial and very frank conversation." And Uribe’s former vice president said they raised concerns about the situation in Venezuela and Colombia, “including damage they say the peace process has caused.”
-- Trump criticized the nuclear deal with Iran on Thursday, speaking just hours after the Rex Tillerson certified that Tehran is complying with the terms of the agreement. He criticized the deal as “terrible” and “as bad as I’ve ever seen negotiated.” Ashley Parker reports: “As far as Iran is concerned, I think they are doing a tremendous disservice to an agreement that was signed,” Trump told reporters .... “It was a terrible agreement, it shouldn’t have been signed, it shouldn’t have been negotiated the way it was negotiated.” He continued: “Iran has not lived up to the spirit of the agreement, and they have to do that …”
-- Ivanka Trump is traveling to Berlin next week to participate in a panel discussion on women’s economic empowerment, White House officials announced, in what will be her first international trip since joining her father’s administration as an unpaid adviser. Officials said she was invited to the W20 summit by Angela Merkel. Following the panel, she plans to tour technical school and visit the Memorial of Murdered Jews of Europe. (AP)
-- Meanwhile, citing ethics concerns, Ivanka announced Thursday that she will not do any publicity for her book, Politico’s Annie Karni writes, “[No] tour, no book signings, and none of the television interviews that help boost a book to the bestseller lists. 'In light of government ethics rules, I want to be clear that this book is a personal project,' she wrote Thursday in a post on her Facebook page. 'I wrote it at a different time in my life, from the perspective of an executive and an entrepreneur, and the manuscript was completed before the election last November.' She said her decision to opt out of promotion was made 'out of an abundance of caution and to avoid the appearance of using my official role to promote the book.'"
PERSONNEL IS POLICY:
-- Trump has nominated conservative lawyer Neomi Rao to run the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, a gateway through which federal regulations must pass. If confirmed for the obscure role, she could become one of the most powerful officials in Washington. Steven Mufson reports: “The office, known as OIRA, would make Rao the Trump administration’s regulatory czar, responsible for vetting and tallying cost estimates for most regulations. The office also resolves conflicts between agencies, and can either sink a rule or send it back for major rewrites. Rao would also be in a position to promote her conservative views. A critic of ‘the administrative state’ that … [Steve Bannon] has vowed to deconstruct, Rao has written that the independence of federal agencies should be abolished, their rules subject to White House review, and the heads of those agencies subject to dismissal by the president. In past administrations, the OIRA administrator has played the role of a check on ideology."
-- Trump is planning to nominate as U.S. ambassador to New Zealand former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, an early endorser of Trump who helped stump for him before the New Hampshire primary. He was also considered for the position of VA secretary. (HuffPost)
-- House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz is weighing the possibility of vacating office early, a statement that comes less than a day after the powerful Utah Republican announced he will not seek reelection next year. The Wall Street Journal reports: “If I do step down early, it will be months from now,” Chaffetz said. “It’s hard for people to believe, I really do want to be with my family more. Maybe it’s more a midlife crisis more than anything else.” Meanwhile, officials in Utah have begun running informal special election scenarios should he decide to step down early, but said they have not been formally notified of his intentions.
In an interview with Politico’s Jake Sherman, Chaffetz swatted down the idea that is resigning because of a yet-to-be revealed scandal -- “absolutely, positively not” – and has “started poking around” at post-congressional employment opportunities, and hopes to serve on boards of directors and link up with a television network.
THE FOURTH ESTATE:
-- Bill O’Reilly is leaving Fox News with a $25 million payout, CNN’s Brian Stelter reported Thursday – the equivalent of one year’s salary that comes as part of a settlement agreement as O’Reilly exits the network. Sources said part of the reason he is leaving with the high-dollar payout is because he had signed a new contract with the network shortly before being ousted.
ANALYSIS --> With Bill O’Reilly’s ouster, the hard part “may be over for the scandal-scarred network,” Paul Farhi writes. “Now the harder part begins. Fox’s abrupt termination of O’Reilly’s contract … puts the leading cable-news network in rebuilding mode, beset by uncertainty. Already, the sponsor boycott that seemed to seal O’Reilly’s fate is showing signs of receding … But some of the largest questions still remain. Among [them]: Has Fox really reformed a workplace culture that saw the removal of its co-founder Roger Ailes last summer due to serial harassment allegations? Given that almost all of the senior executives hired by Ailes remain in place at Fox, that’s still an open question.”
-- Yahoo News' Matt Bai has an interesting take on “Shattered" and other modern campaign books, which he calls the “Us Weeklys” of political history: “The best campaign books of an earlier era captured the political moment in a way that reflected the upheaval happening everywhere else in the culture. Today’s imitators somehow manage to do the reverse; they grab a screenshot of political minutiae that seems to exist in isolation, as if it were totally disconnected from deeper trends in the society. More than any of this, though, the problem with the ’Shattered’ genre is that it treats politics, principally, as celebrity-driven drama … rich with characters and intrigue and climactic moments … but barren of any deeper insight or meaning.
“There’s no trust anymore – largely … because our industry almost overnight became more predatory and less thoughtful. And so today’s campaign chroniclers are left to ‘reconstruct’ events after the fact, eagerly inviting operatives to share endless anecdotes that burnish their own images while tearing down everyone else. Books like this one may not create the manifest dysfunction in our politics and our political journalism, but they certainly don’t help, either. They make our most serious politicians even more remote and unreachable, opening the door wider for self-interested dilettantes.”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Trump sought to lower expectations (at 3:50 a.m.):
No matter how much I accomplish during the ridiculous standard of the first 100 days, & it has been a lot (including S.C.), media will kill!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 21, 2017
The first 100 days construct was created by FDR - it's when a president's power and influence w Congress is likely greatest. https://t.co/BxQyjP8vaT— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) April 21, 2017
It's also a concept Trump has embraced. And insisted it would be easy because he would get so much done immediately. https://t.co/HSWlfQaAPn— Chris Cillizza (@CillizzaCNN) April 21, 2017
Inoculation in advance for next week's 100 day report card. "Mom, I'm just saying. I did good work. That teacher just HATES me." https://t.co/ALFrkupxPI— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) April 21, 2017
Pre-emptive whining from a president who has zero major legislative wins in his first 100 days https://t.co/PUpIGkHBpl— Emily C. Singer (@CahnEmily) April 21, 2017
Trump calls 100-day standard "ridiculous," but he's rushing proposal that will impact millions b/c he fears negative TV coverage of it. https://t.co/7cDkmlPoBS— Greg Sargent (@ThePlumLineGS) April 21, 2017
This Ready for Hillary founder had this to say about Bernie:
The DNC rolled out the DEM Unity Commission. Shouldn't Bernie change his party affiliation back to (D) to participate? Seriously. Insane.— Adam Parkhomenko (@AdamParkhomenko) April 21, 2017
Don't care who you supported in the primary. We have a two party system. Show up and vote for the (D) in every election & quit playing games— Adam Parkhomenko (@AdamParkhomenko) April 21, 2017
It's been one year since Prince died:
On the anniversary of Prince's death I learned that he never rehearsed this amazing performance. https://t.co/77AbAWQ68G— John Dickerson (@jdickerson) April 21, 2017
It's Queen Elizabeth's 91st birthday:
Kathy Griffin showed up at Ted Lieu's town hall:
Nate Silver's singular theory of the case:
THIS IS WHY TRUMP WON pic.twitter.com/oVScmOCPIy— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) April 21, 2017
Tulsi Gabbard at her town hall:
43 visits 41 in the hospital:
Big morale boost from a high level delegation. No father has ever been more blessed, or prouder. pic.twitter.com/ekX4VyG2aO— George Bush (@GeorgeHWBush) April 20, 2017
HOT ON THE LEFT:
“This Mom Of 4 With No Criminal Record Was Deported After Following ICE’s Rules,” from HuffPost: “ Maribel Trujillo Diaz, who has peacefully lived in the United States for 15 years, was deported to her native Mexico on Wednesday, her lawyers confirmed. About two weeks ago, the 41-year-old was reportedly seized by ICE officials outside her home in Cincinnati days after a regularly scheduled check-in … Her four children were apparently inside the house and never got a chance to say goodbye. Trujillo Diaz’s case was notable for the wide spectrum of support she received … Both of the state’s senators, [and] Ohio Gov. John Kasich had advocated on her behalf."
HOT ON THE RIGHT:
“Baltimore area women charged with hate crime in burning of Trump sign on Eastern Shore,” from The Baltimore Sun: “Two Baltimore-area women were charged with lighting a Trump sign on fire in Somerset County, officials said. [Police charged the two women] … with multiple offenses, including second-degree arson and committing a hate crime, the Maryland State Fire Marshal's Office said. ‘The intentional burning of these political signs, along with the beliefs, religious views and race of this political affiliation, directly coincides with the victim,’ a Princess Anne police officer wrote in charging documents to support the hate crime charge. The blaze was started Friday morning, and spread to nearby vegetation but was extinguished by the fire department, the fire marshal's office said. The fire caused $800 in damage …”
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- TGIF! The Capital Weather Gang forecasts another summery (and only slightly muggy) day ahead: “We should have partly sunny skies for the most part and high temperatures in the 81-87 degree range. Yep, fairly summery and muggy, with dew points above 60, indicating a moist atmosphere. Showers and storms can’t be ruled out, particularly from about midday until nearly sunset. However, nothing too long-lasting”
-- Tens of thousands of people are expected to flock to the National Mall on Saturday to participate in the “March for Science,” an Earth Day event that has earned international attention and prompted more than 400 “satellite marches” to be held in tandem on six different continents. Organizers have billed the event, somewhat delicately, as a “political, not partisan," and have sought to steer attendees from making personal attacks. Still, it is unclear how closely the droves of passionate demonstrators will respect the fine line. Said honorary national co-chair Lydia Villa-Komaroff: “This is a group of people who don’t take well being told what to do.” (Joel Achenbach, Ben Guarino and Sarah Kaplan)
-- The Nationals beat the Braves 3-2.
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Jimmy Fallon discusses Trump's meeting with Sarah Palin, Ted Nugent and Kid Rock:
Dana Carvey says there have been "maniacs" in the White House before:
Stephen Colbert hate tastes the Unicorn Frappucino:
Police arrest a Tennessee teacher accused of kidnapping:
An Arkansas court blocks multiple executions: