But nothing about Donald Trump is normal, and the fast food CEO is already a forgotten footnote in the frenzied opening chapter of his administration.
-- The first three tumultuous months of Trump’s term have seen a perhaps unprecedented number of personnel casualties. A big part of the problem is that his transition team did a lousy job of vetting. Red flags that might have been discovered by a simple Google search didn’t emerge in some cases until after nominees were named publicly. The president also gravitated toward billionaires as he stocked the government, and the richer someone is the more conflicts they are likely to have. Complying with the requirements of the Office of Government Ethics proved too onerous for some. The premium that this president places on loyalty over experience and qualifications cost others their postings. Backstabbing and palace intrigue — which created a brutal, joyless work environment in the West Wing — drove others away after only weeks in their dream jobs.
-- Trump’s pick for deputy commerce secretary, Todd Ricketts, withdrew last Wednesday. The son of TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts, a major GOP donor, could not easily unload his share in some of the family’s holdings, such as the Chicago Cubs.
The president’s nominee for Navy secretary, venture capitalist Philip Bilden, also cited his inability to meet the OGE ethics agreement when he pulled out in February.
Trump’s first choice for Army secretary, billionaire high-frequency trader Vincent Viola, apparently dropped out for similar reasons. When his company was planning to go public in 2014, though, it disclosed that regulators were looking into its trading practices. It also came out that he was involved in an altercation last summer, in which he allegedly punched a concessions worker at a racehorse auction. (He was never charged.)
-- Puzder’s withdrawal never got much attention because it happened just two days after Trump fired Michael Flynn as his national security adviser over his contacts with the Russian ambassador. These conversations are part of a gray cloud that continues to hang over the White House.
The longtime CEO of the company that owns Carl’s Jr. was bowing to the reality that he wouldn’t have the votes to get confirmed by the Senate. His past employment of an undocumented housekeeper and his support for more liberalized immigration policies ultimately did more to doom his hopes in the GOP-controlled chamber than his ex-wife’s past allegations, made during an appearance on Oprah Winfrey’s show but later recanted, that he had abused and threatened her.
It's still not clear how much of Puzder’s past, if any, Trump knew about before he named him to run the Labor Department. The vetting process became especially messy after Trump fired Chris Christie as head of the transition team just days after the election. The president was reportedly prodded by son-in-law Jared Kushner, whose father Christie had sent to jail as U.S. attorney in New Jersey. Christie’s ouster was part of a broader purge that put family members and conservative hard-liners linked to Mike Pence and Jeff Sessions in charge of the effort.
-- Because the president has no fixed ideology, the people who occupy decision-making jobs in the government matter more than usual. That’s why the turmoil has been especially significant.
-- The deputy White House chief of staff didn’t even survive until the end of March. Katie Walsh, who had been Reince Priebus’s deputy at the Republican National Committee, abruptly left her West Wing post the week after the collapse of the president’s health-care plan in the House. The administration claimed she was leaving to assist a pro-Trump outside group, even though several loyalists were already helping the effort.
-- Boris Epshteyn, who as a special assistant to the president was in charge of managing all TV appearances by White House officials, also didn’t make it until the end of the first quarter. Russian-born, he got plugged into Trump World because he was a college buddy of Eric Trump at Georgetown. But Boris lost juice after antagonizing key people at the very networks with which he was supposed to be building bridges. “Earlier this year, Epshteyn threatened to pull all West Wing officials from appearing on Fox News after a tense appearance on anchor Bill Hemmer’s show,” Politico reported shortly before his departure. “Epshteyn also earned a reputation as someone who is combative and sometimes difficult to work with, even when he arrives at studios as a guest of a network. He has offended people in green rooms with comments they have interpreted as racially insensitive and demeaning.” He got a soft landing at Sinclair Broadcast Group, which the administration sees as a friendly media platform.
-- Gerrit Lansing gave up his job as the White House’s chief digital adviser after a month because he was unwilling to cut financial ties to a company in which he held an ownership stake, Politico reported last week: “The Republican Party’s top digital strategist in 2016 got a nearly $1 million payout from a firm he co-founded that collected online contributions to the party and [Trump] — despite earlier claims that the strategist had severed his ties to the company. … The controversy put White House press secretary Sean Spicer in an awkward spot. As the RNC’s chief strategist, Spicer denied to Politico in mid-2016 that Lansing had any financial stake in Revv. ‘He has zero connection to Revv,’ Spicer said then. ‘He had to sever the ties.’ In fact, Lansing never did. He received a $909,000 payout from the company last year. ‘The statement that was issued last year was based on information provided by Gerrit,’ Spicer [said last week].”
-- Others who were poised to get plum jobs in the White House never even got the chance to report for work:
Jason Miller was supposed to be White House communications director until he suddenly announced on Christmas Eve that he wanted to focus on his family instead. Suggestive tweets from the account of A.J. Delgado, an adviser to Trump’s campaign and a member of the transition team, added intrigue and raised questions that were never answered. Miller instead took a job at Teneo Strategy, the firm founded by former Bill Clinton loyalists which Republicans used to frequently attack.
-- The NSC was a hotbed of dysfunction until recently when Flynn’s replacement, H.R. McMaster, finally asserted himself fully. Deputy national security adviser K.T. McFarland, who had been brought on by Flynn, is expected to leave her post soon to become U.S. ambassador to Singapore. McFarland initially resisted but later accepted the reassignment, an administration official told Abby Phillip on April 9. McMaster also removed White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon from the principals committee as part of a shake-up.
Trump’s own pick to be the NSC’s senior director for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Craig Deare, was dismissed in mid-February after word got back to the White House that he’d trashed the president [and Bannon] during an off-the-record event hosted by the Woodrow Wilson Center. Deare had complained to a group of academics that senior national security aides did not have access to the president.
Deare, of course, is not the only Trump appointee to get fired for being insufficiently loyal: A senior adviser to Ben Carson was escorted out of the Housing and Urban Development department headquarters by security after someone completing his background check found a critical op-ed he wrote about Trump last fall for The Hill. Shermichael Singleton, one of Trump’s relatively few African American political appointees, had been planning a cross-country tour for Carson.
-- Today is Day 95. Will anyone else be gone before the week is over?
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- Jim Mattis arrived for a surprise visit to Afghanistan today, as the Trump administration weighs boosting U.S. military support for the struggling country. Thomas Gibbons-Neff is traveling with him: “The visit, Mattis’s first as secretary of defense, comes just days after a devastating Taliban attack on one of Afghanistan’s largest and most secure bases killed at least 140 soldiers — leading to Monday’s resignation by the country’s army chief and defense minister. The brazen attack was the largest ever by the Taliban on a military base and involved gunmen dressed in army uniforms that penetrated the base and then gunned down unarmed service men and set off suicide vests. President Ashaf Ghani accepted the resignations of Defense Minister Abdullah Habibi and Army Chief of Staff Qadam Shah Shahim — who were likely to have been scheduled to meet Mattis. Mattis, who last visited Afghanistan in 2013 … is wrapping up his six-nation trip through the Middle East and the Horn of Africa."
-- France held its first round of presidential voting Sunday, advancing independent centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron and National Front leader Marine Le Pen to a May 7 runoff. Macron, a former investment banker, led the field with 23.9 percent, while Le Pen followed with 21.4 percent. He is the heavy favorite to win in the second round, with 20-plus point leads in all the head-to-head polling. Regardless, the vote marks a stunning rebuke of legacy political parties that have dominated France since World War II. And the next two weeks will see an intense battle between Le Pen, an anti-immigrant firebrand who wants to "seal France tight against the tides of globalization," and Macron, who seeks a more muscular European Union. Le Pen has said she will seek to pull France out of the E.U., a move that would doom the 28-nation bloc after Brexit. She also would rekindle relations with Vladimir Putin. Michael Birnbaum and James McAuley are on the ground for us:
- At a rally in Paris, a jubilant Macron told his supporters France would prosper in a revitalized E.U.: “I’ve heard the anger, the fears of the French people, their fear of change,” he said. “I want to be the president of all patriots against the nationalist threat.”
- Le Pen’s rally was in a rust belt town in northern France. It resembled a county fair more than the celebration of an ascendant presidential campaign. “What is at stake in this election is a referendum for or against lawless globalization,” Le Pen said. “Either you choose in favor of a total lack of rules, without borders, with unlawful competition, the free circulation of terrorists, or you make the choice of a France that protects. ... This is truly what is at stake: It is the survival of France.”
-- Trump has made pretty clear that he favors Le Pen. “Le Pen says the 'tide of history' is on her side, pointing to Brexit and Trump’s election as evidence that voters around the world are rejecting globalism and immigration," Birnbaum writes in a sidebar. "Even so, she says, Trump’s main failing so far is that he has turned into a more 'conventional' politician and failed to uphold his more extreme campaign promises: 'He is in contradiction with the commitments he made,' she said in a radio interview. 'I am coherent. I don’t change my mind in a few days.'" Reince Priebus insisted on NBC yesterday that Trump does not actually have a favorite and that the United States will support whoever wins.
-- “Marcus Johansson’s overtime goal for Capitals clinches series against Maple Leafs,” by Isabelle Khurshudyan: “Marcus Johansson was about to answer a reporter’s question when he was interrupted to be showered with some well-earned affection. Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis smacked a kiss on Johansson’s cheek and held up his iPhone for a selfie. This is the kind of attention you get for scoring the only two goals in a 2-1 overtime win. The victory lifted the Capitals past the Toronto Maple Leafs in this couldn’t-be-tighter first-round playoff series, and they now will get a second chance against the Pittsburgh Penguins, who ousted Washington last season en route to the Stanley Cup. … Fortunately for the Capitals, goaltender Braden Holtby outdueled Andersen with 37 saves.”
GET SMART FAST:
- Trump will sign a series of executive orders this week on offshore drilling, cybersecurity, veterans affairs and agriculture. One order will call for a "review of the locations available for offshore oil and gas exploration and of certain regulations governing offshore oil and gas exploration." By Friday, Trump will have signed 32 executive orders, the most signed by a president in the first 100 days since World War II, White House officials boasted to Politico.
- North Korea detained a U.S. citizen at the Pyongyang airport Friday, making him the third American to be held by the Kim regime as tensions on the Korean Peninsula continue to escalate. Media in Seoul identified the man as a Korean American professor reportedly involved in aid work, who had been teaching a class at a sister university in Pyongyang for about a month prior to his arrest. (Anna Fifield)
- Piracy is back on the rise off the coast of Somalia. U.S. officials said Sunday that they will continue to monitor the situation after “five or six” recent attacks in the area. Authorities attribute the spike in piracy to widespread drought and famine that have gripped the region. Ships targeted recently have carried goods such as food and oil. (Thomas Gibbons-Neff)
- Conservationist Kuki Gallmann, known for her best-selling book, “I Dream of Africa,” was airlifted to a hospital after being ambushed and shot by gunmen at her ranch in Kenya. The gunmen are believed to be armed cattle-herders who have been invading private ranches as they search for grazing land during a fierce drought. (Samantha Schmidt)
- A freshman at Wheaton College died tragically while volunteering at a track meet this weekend after he was accidently struck by a hammer during a hammer-throw competition. The 19-year-old hoped to become a minister. (Cindy Boren)
- Steve Kerr said he will not coach the Golden State Warriors in their playoff game today, and he will be out “indefinitely” in the post-season, due to ongoing symptoms from complications from a back surgery in 2015. (Tim Bontemps)
-- Barack Obama will make his first public comments since leaving office this morning: On a two-day visit to Chicago, he met privately with at-risk young men on the South Side yesterday afternoon to talk about gang violence, jobs skills and employment. “The meeting was with participants in a program created by Obama's longtime friend and former education secretary, Arne Duncan — and signified a return to Obama's roots as a community organizer 30 years ago,” the Chicago Tribune reports. At 11 a.m., the 55-year-old former president will speak at the University of Chicago to a group of about 300 students in what’s being billed as a "Conversation on Civic Engagement." He will moderate an hour-long discussion with half a dozen young leaders from Chicago-area colleges and universities. Watch a livestream here.
--This is the first in a series of planned public events for Obama in the United States and Europe, writes The New York Times's Michael Shear: "Aides have said Mr. Obama does not intend to use his platform to directly challenge President Trump, despite his successor’s aggressive efforts to reverse many of Mr. Obama’s legacy-making accomplishments. ... But the young people will be free to ask whatever they want, and they might choose to press the former president on topics like immigration, climate change or racial justice — all areas where anything Mr. Obama says is likely to be interpreted as a critique of Mr. Trump."
THE TRUMP TEAM CANNOT GET ON THE SAME PAGE —
ON GOVERNMENT FUNDING:
-- Trump and White House aides pressed congressional Republicans on Sunday to use the looming threat of a government shutdown to win funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Kelsey Snell and Robert Costa report: “Trump’s push for fast action on his pledge to build the border wall is part of a mounting and, at times, tense scramble inside the administration to kick-start the president’s agenda, even if it risks dire political consequences. The wall … has emerged as a crucial sticking point for the White House, with the president insisting privately and publicly that progress toward its funding and eventual construction must be showcased this week.” On Sunday, West Wing aides made calls to allies on the Hill, while Trump tweeted and reached out to several advisers on the issue:
- In an interview with The Post, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said Trump and his advisers remain “strong” in their commitment to securing border funding: “This is what the president ran on. We want to get to a place this week where border-security money is being directed to the [DHS] so that we can begin surveillance and preliminary work, and then we will keep working on getting DHS what it needs for the structure.”
- DHS Secretary John Kelly said Trump will be “insistent” that funding for the border wall gets included in the spending bill: "I think it goes without saying that the president has been pretty straightforward about his desire and the need for a border wall," Kelly said on CNN. "So I would suspect he'll do the right thing for sure."
- Budget director Mick Mulvaney walked back the shutdown threat, saying on "Fox News Sunday" that border wall funding is just one of “several” issues being negotiated.
-- Trump’s posture also puts him at odds with Republican leaders, including Paul Ryan, who made clear this weekend that their top priority is to keep the government open. Marco Rubio is in this camp, as well. “We’re just trying to finish out the current cycle, the current budget year," the Florida senator said on “Face the Nation." "And so I think that’s a fight worth having and a conversation and a debate worth having for 2018," he said. "And if we can do some of that now, that would be great. But we cannot shut down the government right now.”
-- Democrats remained staunchly opposed, holding a united front as they insist that none of their members will vote for any bill that gives the White House money or flexibility to move forward on wall construction. “The burden to keep it open is on the Republicans,” Nancy Pelosi said on “Meet the Press.” “Building a wall is not an answer. Not here or any place.”
-- The administration is struggling to clarify its policy on illegal immigrants, specifically children protected by Obama's DACA order. Joel Achenbach reports:
- On Friday, Trump said in an AP interview that those protected under the Obama-era DACA law should “rest easy” and not worry about deportation.
- On Sunday, Jeff Sessions walked that back. Even though DHS is targeting those engaged in criminal activity, he said on ABC, anyone in the country illegally could be deported. Asked whether “dreamers” can indeed rest easy, the attorney general answered: “Well, we'll see. I believe that everyone that enters the country unlawfully is subject to being deported; however, we've got — we don't have the ability to round up everybody, and there's no plans to do that.”
- Kelly also said that, while he is not looking to deport “dreamers," broader deportations are still “possible." Addressing the immigrant community, he said Sunday on CNN: “If you are simply here illegally, we don’t really have the time go after you. We're looking for bad men and women.”
ON TAX REFORM:
-- Top Trump administration officials are offering conflicting details about Trump’s tax plan he promises will be released this Wednesday, calling into question whether they have ironed out some of the most difficult components. Damian Paletta reports: “Among the major decisions the president and his party face on taxes is whether to go for a short-term tax cut that keeps much of the existing tax code intact but reduces rates or whether to go for a more fundamental shift that makes long-term changes to how the government collects revenue. Putting in place long-term changes to the tax code would give businesses certainty to help guide their investment decisions, but these sorts of changes to the tax code are much more difficult politically, as they would require bipartisan support."
- Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin suggested Wednesday’s announcement will pursue a long-term overhaul of the tax code, saying at an IMF event over the weekend that one of the White House’s top priorities is to complete “comprehensive economic tax reform" and dramatically simplify how people file their annual returns. When asked about the deficit impact of their plan, Mnuchin claimed that the tax overhaul "will pay" for itself eventually by sparking economic growth. “Under static scoring, there will be some short-term issues,” he acknowledged.
- But Mulvaney, the OMB director, appeared to cast doubt on these statements, saying Sunday that the White House hadn’t yet decided whether to pursue a long- or short-term tax overhaul. He also said the administration is undecided on whether to offset rate cuts with other changes that would reduce the budget deficit. “I don’t think we’ve decided that part yet,” Mulvaney said on Fox News Sunday. “You can either have a small tax cut that’s permanent or a large tax cut that’s short-term.”
THE REVOLUTION WILL BE TELEVISED:
-- “Inside Trump’s obsession with cable TV,” by Ashley Parker and Robert Costa: “For Trump … television is often the guiding force of his day, both weapon and scalpel, megaphone and news feed. And the president’s obsession with the tube — as a governing tool, a metric for staff evaluation, and a two-way conduit with lawmakers and aides — has upended the traditional rhythms of the White House, influencing many spheres, including policy, his burgeoning relationship with Congress, and whether he taps out a late-night or early-morning tweet. But Trump’s habits have consequences far beyond being the quirky, unchanging ways of a 70-year-old man who keeps an eye on cable as he goes about his day."
Six nuggets from the story:
- During a small working lunch at the White House last month, one of the attendees wondered whether Sean Spicer might soon be let go. The president’s response was swift and unequivocal. “I’m not firing Sean Spicer,” Trump said, according to someone familiar with the encounter. “That guy gets great ratings. Everyone tunes in.” He even likened Spicer’s daily news briefings to a daytime soap opera, noting proudly that his press secretary attracted nearly as many viewers.
- Trump's favorite programs: “In the morning, the president typically flips between ‘Fox & Friends,’ Maria Bartiromo’s show on Fox Business and CNBC’s ‘Squawk Box.’ ... Some White House officials have started tuning into 'Fox & Friends' because they know the president habitually clicks it on after waking near dawn."
- He is still in touch with ousted Fox News CEO Roger Ailes: "But, Trump has told friends, he thinks Fox News is ‘nicer’ to him in the post-Ailes era."
- One way staffers deal with the cable habit: “West Wing staffers have begun including local news clippings in his morning briefing, said one, noting that an issue such as rolling back environmental regulations may earn the president poor press nationally but a more positive headline — ‘Trump saves coal jobs,’ for example — in a local paper."
- "Foreign diplomats have urged their governments’ leaders to appear on television when they’re stateside as a means of making their case to Trump, and U.S. lawmakers regard a TV appearance as nearly on par with an Oval Office meeting in terms of showcasing their standing or viewpoints to the president.”
- Trump continues watching late into the evening when he’s back in his private residence: “Once he goes upstairs, there’s no managing him,” said one adviser.
-- Trump is hosting members of the conservative media for a small White House reception Monday. Attendees include One America News Network, the Daily Caller and Breitbart, as well as some columnist and talk radio hosts. (Politico’s Hadas Gold)
-- USA Today, “Trump, Pence allies rake in millions as new Washington lobbyists,” by Fredreka Schouten and Maureen Groppe: “Former campaign aides, fundraisers and others with ties to [Trump and Pence] have attracted dozens of new lobbying clients in Washington, raking in more than $2.2 million in lobbying fees in the first months of the administration. … Brian Ballard, a longtime Florida lobbyist and a fundraiser for both Trump’s campaign and inaugural committee, appears to lead the pack, signing up 20 federal clients since opening his Washington lobbying operation this year. His company, Ballard Partners, has earned more than $1.1 million in a three-month period, new lobbying reports show. Ballard is one of more than a dozen White House allies launching new firms, taking new jobs in lobbying firms or signing up new clients this year as companies and other interests look for ways to shape policy in the Trump administration.… One lobbying and consulting startup makes no secret of its ties to the administration: Avenue Strategies, started last year by Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s first campaign manager, and other campaign advisers.”
THERE'S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:
-- Daily Beast, “Senate Trump-Russia Probe Has No Full-Time Staff, No Key Witnesses,” from Tim Mak: “The Senate Intelligence Committee’s probe into Russia’s election interference is supposedly the best hope for getting the public credible answers about whether there was any coordination between the Kremlin and Trump Tower. But there are serious reasons to doubt that it can accomplish this task, as currently configured. More than three months after the committee announced that it had agreed on the scope of the investigation, the panel has not begun substantially investigating possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. … The investigation does not have a single staffer dedicated to it full-time, and those staff members working on it part-time do not have significant investigative experience. [And] no interviews have been conducted with key individuals suspected of being in the Trump-Russia orbit.”
CLEAN UP ON AISLE NINE:
-- Trump explicitly mourned the murder of 6 million Jews during the Holocaust in a video message taped for the World Jewish Congress, trying to make up for his administration’s earlier omission of that fact from an International Holocaust Remembrance Day statement issued in his name in January. Abby Phillip reports: "On Yom HaShoah we look back at the darkest chapter of human history," Trump said in the video, which was played Sunday night during the plenary assembly of the WJC in New York. "The mind cannot fathom the pain, the horror and the loss. Six million Jews, two-thirds of the Jews in Europe, murdered by the Nazi genocide. They were murdered by an evil that words cannot describe and that the human heart cannot bear." Trump’s video, which follows Spicer's Hitler gaffe, comes just two days before he is scheduled to headline a Days of Remembrance event at the Capitol, hosted by the Holocaust Memorial Museum. (Watch the four-minute video here.)
-- “The ‘global elite’ breathe a sigh of relief as Trump backs off campaign promises,” by Ana Swanson: “The polyglot business leaders, government workers and researchers gathered for the annual spring meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund seemed reassured by the Trump administration’s actions thus far, though still anxious about what coming months could hold."
- "I believe that the current administration after 100 days has been more moderate than was expected. And I think we need to reinforce such behavior," said Felipe Calderón, the former president of Mexico.
- "The bite has been way less intense than the bark," said Mário Mesquita, chief economist at Itaú Unibanco, one of Brazil’s largest banks. "Things may change ... but as yet they have been more cautious and more moderate than people feared right after the election."
-- Mike Pence is returning to D.C. from Asia a day earlier than planned because there’s so much to deal with in the Capitol this week.
-- To bracket the White House Correspondents' Association dinner, Trump will hold a campaign rally in Pennsylvania on Saturday night. (David Nakamura)
-- “How the Murdochs took a multimillion-dollar gamble on Bill O’Reilly — and lost,” by Paul Farhi: “Earlier this year, when Rupert Murdoch and senior executives at Fox News’s parent company signed Bill O’Reilly to a new multiyear contract, they knew something the rest of the world didn’t: The star host had been accused of sexual and verbal harassment by women at Fox five times over the preceding 15 years. They also knew that the public was unlikely to find out because attorneys for O’Reilly and the company had signed his accusers to agreements binding them to confidentiality. Those settlements came on top of some $10 million that O’Reilly himself had paid earlier to three other women … They also came after a bruising sexual harassment scandal involving Fox News co-founder and chairman Roger Ailes last summer. … In effect, Rupert Murdoch and his sons James and Lachlan, who run 21st Century Fox, took a calculated risk. They re-signed O’Reilly — Fox News’s most valuable asset — fully aware of his history but in the apparent hope that they could continue with business as usual. In the end, the Murdochs’ bet on their guaranteed moneymaker didn’t pay off. [And] the O’Reilly debacle raises questions about 21st Century Fox’s stated commitment to ensuring a hostility-free environment.”
-- O’Reilly is returning to the air today with a new episode of his “No Spin Zone” podcast, according to his personal website. (Elahe Izadi)
-- “Warring cousins, a grisly execution: A Tunisian family torn apart by ISIS,” by Sudarsan Raghavan in Kasserine, Tunisia: “One evening last fall, the Islamic State fighters came down from the mountains. Sayed Ghozlani was visiting his family during a break from the army, and the fighters wanted to find him. They stormed his house during dinner and corralled the men … [forcing] them all to kneel. Then one fighter pressed a gun against Ghozlani’s head and demanded his name. ‘Abdul Malik,’ he replied. ‘That’s not the truth,’ another militant said in a voice that was familiar. … His face bloodied, Ghozlani looked up to see a figure carrying an AK-47 rifle and smiling triumphantly. It was his cousin, Muntasir. ... In the mountains of western Tunisia, radical Islamists are spreading their ideology, cowing villagers with brute violence and dividing families. The struggle lays bare the Islamic State’s aspirations as it loses territory in Iraq and Syria, security officials and analysts say. The militants are searching for new safe havens and areas to control, as well as sow chaos. … On that November evening, these colluding forces led one cousin to betray another.”
-- “The March for Science was a moment made for Bill Nye,” by Caitlin Gibson: “The moment he emerged onstage in a black jacket and red bow tie, the crowd noise hit near-deafening decibels. It was a significant moment — for science, for William Sanford Nye and for the masses who have followed him for decades, from fuzzy TV screens in their middle school classrooms to the grounds of the Washington Monument at Saturday’s March for Science. He is beloved by millennials who came of age watching the ’90s-era PBS series ‘Bill Nye the Science Guy,’ a role that made him an icon: half mad professor, half Mr. Rogers, perpetually clad in a pale-blue lab coat and bow tie. … More than 20 years later, the 61-year-old still wears the bow ties, and he still punctuates his speech with impassioned catchphrases. But now his disheveled locks and vaguely Vulcan eyebrows are streaked with gray, and his persona has assumed a new edge. He has become more than the zany educator-entertainer who charmed kids with cartoonish sound effects. He is an activist for science, leading those now-grownups into political battle. Of all the roles he has played, this is the one he was preparing for all along.”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Trump tweeted a lot this weekend:
Trump, of course, did not win the popular vote in 2016 (and The Post's national poll was actually well within the margin of error in predicting the popular vote):
Trump also admitted that Mexico won't be paying for the wall anytime soon:
Someone still has a sense of humor:
From this former Reagan and Bush aide:
A picture is worth a thousand words:
Lots of blowback on this:
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) stirred up waves when he replied with a picture of a fetus in the womb:
Donald Trump Jr. campaigned for the Republican candidate to replace Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke:
One of the reporters on the story replied:
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
-- New York Times, “Uber’s C.E.O. Plays With Fire,” by Mike Isaac: "[Uber CEO] Travis Kalanick .. visited Apple’s headquarters in early 2015 to meet with [Tim Cook], who runs the iPhone maker. It was a session that Mr. Kalanick was dreading. For months, Mr. Kalanick had pulled a fast one on Apple by directing his employees to help camouflage the ride-hailing app from Apple’s engineers. The reason? So Apple would not find out that Uber had been secretly identifying and tagging iPhones even after its app had been deleted … a fraud detection maneuver that violated Apple’s privacy guidelines. If Uber’s app was yanked from the App Store, it would lose access to millions of iPhone customers — essentially destroying the ride-hailing company’s business. In a quest to build Uber into the world’s dominant ride-hailing entity, Mr. Kalanick has openly disregarded many rules and norms, backing down only when caught or cornered. He has flouted transportation and safety regulations, bucked against entrenched competitors and capitalized on legal loopholes and gray areas to gain a business advantage. But the previously unreported encounter with Mr. Cook showed how Mr. Kalanick was also responsible for risk-taking that pushed Uber beyond the pale, sometimes to the very brink of implosion.”
-- Politico, “Obama’s hidden Iran deal giveaway,” by Josh Meyer: “When [Obama] announced the ‘one-time gesture’ of releasing Iranian-born prisoners who ‘were not charged with terrorism or any violent offenses’ last year, his administration presented the move as a modest trade-off for the greater good of the Iran nuclear agreement and Tehran’s pledge to free five Americans. In reality, some of them were accused by Obama’s own Justice Department of posing threats to national security. Three allegedly were part of an illegal procurement network supplying Iran with U.S.-made microelectronics with applications in surface-to-air and cruise missiles like the kind Tehran test-fired recently, prompting a still-escalating exchange of threats with the Trump administration. Another was serving an eight-year sentence for conspiring to supply Iran with satellite technology and hardware. As part of the deal, U.S. officials even dropped their demand for $10 million that a jury said the aerospace engineer illegally received from Tehran.
“When federal prosecutors and agents learned the true extent of the releases, many were shocked and angry. Some had spent years, if not decades, working to penetrate the global proliferation networks that allowed Iranian arms traders both to obtain crucial materials for Tehran’s illicit nuclear and ballistic missile programs and, in some cases, to provide dangerous materials to other countries. In its determination to win support for the nuclear deal and prisoner swap from Tehran — and from Congress and the American people — the Obama administration did a lot more than just downplay the threats posed by the men it let off the hook.”
-- The New Yorker, “How Hollywood Remembers Steve Bannon,” by Connie Bruck: “These days, Bannon is a dishevelled presence in the Oval Office, but he cut a different figure in Beverly Hills, where he looked the part of a Hollywood executive—fast-talking, smartly dressed, aggressively fit, carrying himself with what one former colleague described as an ‘alpha swagger.’ He was passionate and knowledgeable about film, and boasted about his connections, his production credits, and his background in mergers and acquisitions at Goldman Sachs. He was a Republican, but not dogmatic, and he tried not to let his political beliefs get in the way of his work. People in Hollywood were bewildered by Bannon’s story of himself as a major dealmaker[:] He worked hard to join the Hollywood establishment, and several people who knew him said that they were startled by his conversion to what one called ‘conservative political jihad.’ Another said, ‘All the years I knew him, he just wanted to make a buck.’”
-- Cincinnati Enquirer, “10 things John Kasich's book says about Donald Trump (and a few other people),” by Chrissie Thompson: “He marks [Trump's] election with an ‘alas,’ he says Hillary Clinton and her campaign represented ‘slow, tired and worn-out approaches’ and he reveals details of backroom campaign conversations with former presidential rival Ted Cruz. John Kasich's book, ‘Two Paths: America Divided or United,’ is scheduled for release Tuesday and is set to position the Ohio governor and 2016 GOP presidential candidate as a long-term critic of President Trump.” Some highlights:
- "I could never have worked with Donald Trump." “The book retells a widely reported tale that [Trump's] son, Don Jr., called a Kasich adviser and asked if the governor would consider being Trump's vice president. Kasich, Don Jr. said, could be in charge of ‘all domestic and foreign policy,’ and Trump would ‘be busy making American (sic) great again …’”
- "Sometimes it's just not possible to do a merger”: “That's what Kasich says he told Trump when the GOP nominee called to ask the Ohio governor for his endorsement. ‘I suggested that he read a copy of my 'Two Paths' speech.’ [Kasich said.] ‘I never heard back from him on this.’”
- “Team Kasich didn't have a lot of respect for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush”: “’For whatever reason,’ Kasich explains, ‘people weren't excited about Jeb's candidacy.’ That helped push Kasich into the race. When Bush dropped out … Kasich says: ‘Voters just hadn't responded to his message.’ It's clear Kasich views his campaign differently.”
- So is he running in 2020? “On this topic, Kasich is silent. Kasich has denied he plans to run again, although he is taking steps, advisers have acknowledged, to keep his options open in case he gets another chance."
HOT ON THE LEFT:
“Brooklyn Moves to Protect Immigrants From Deportation Over Petty Crimes,” from the New York Times: “The Brooklyn district attorney’s office, promising to seek ‘equal and fair justic’” for the borough’s vulnerable foreign-born residents, has created a policy that tailors prosecutions to avoid, when possible, the deportation or detention of immigrants charged with certain misdemeanors or nonviolent crimes. The policy … calls for hundreds of Brooklyn prosecutors to notify defense lawyers about the potential immigration consequences of their clients’ cases and to try, without compromising public safety, to prosecute foreign-born defendants to achieve what the district attorney’s office describes as an ‘immigration-neutral disposition.’
HOT ON THE RIGHT:
“A popular public school Bible class in West Virginia faces legal challenge,” from Joe Heim: “Gym is Trenton Tolliver’s favorite class. But the 7-year-old is also a huge fan of the weekly Bible course at Princeton Primary, his public elementary school. For decades, the county’s public schools have offered a weekly Bible class during the school day — 30 minutes at the elementary level and 45 minutes in middle school. Now Bible in the Schools is facing a stiff legal challenge. Two county residents with school-age children argue in a lawsuit that the program violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment and the West Virginia constitution. Filed in January … the suit charges that the Bible class ‘advances and endorses one religion, improperly entangles public schools in religious affairs, and violates the personal consciences of nonreligious and non-Christian parents and students.’ Supporters are adamant that the weekly class is an elective meant to explore the history and literature of the Bible, not to promote religious belief.”
At the White House: Trump will speak by phone to German Chancellor Angela Merkel before holding a video conference with NASA astronauts aboard the International Space Station. Trump will hold a working lunch with ambassadors of countries on the U.N. Security Council, before signing a proclamation on Holocaust Remembrance. He will then host a credential ceremony for newly appointed ambassadors to Washington, D.C. Later in the afternoon, the president will meet with Jim Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford, and participate in a reception with conservative media. In the evening, Trump will have dinner with Sen. and Mrs. John McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham.
Mike Pence is flying back to D.C. from Sydney, Australia on Air Force Two. He stopped in Pago Pago for refueling and will visit Hawaii.
Congress is coming back from recess. The Senate has votes today, and the House will tomorrow.
On Trump’s docket for the rest of the week—
- Tuesday: Speak at the National Holocaust Memorial Museum’s National Day of Remembrance event; Roundtable discussion with farmers, followed by the signing of a related executive order; Swearing-in for Sonny Perdue, the new secretary of agriculture; Dinner with Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.).
- Wednesday: Release tax reform plan.
- Thursday: Host Argentine President Mauricio Macri at the White House; Sign executive order on veterans’ issues; Dinner with Supreme Court justices.
- Friday: Sign executive orders on energy issues; Speak at National Rifle Association’s Leadership Forum in Atlanta.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
Jeff Sessions defended his dismissal of Hawaii as just “an island in the Pacific” on Sunday, claiming that his attack on a federal judge there was just a joke. “Nobody has a sense of humor anymore,” Sessions said on “This Week,” after host George Stephanopoulos asked why he didn’t just say “the state of Hawaii.” (Amy B Wang)
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- More rain on the radar for today, and unseasonably-chilly temps. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Expect periods of mostly light rain today. As you head north through the metro region, the rain may become spottier. The overcast skies, rain and winds from the northeast (near 10 mph) make it unseasonably cool, with highs only in the mid-50s.”
-- The Nationals beat the Mets 6-3, their seventh straight win.
-- Pitcher Stephen Strasburg is going on paternity leave Monday, utilizing the league’s three-game absence policy as he and his wife await the birth of their second child. He is slated to be back in time to pitch next weekend against the Mets at Nationals Park. (Jorge Castillo)
-- Lawrence J. Hogan Sr., a combative Maryland political figure who rose to national prominence in 1974 by being the first Republican member of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee to call for President Richard M. Nixon’s impeachment, died April 20 at Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis. He was 88. From Matt Schudel’s obituary: “His son, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan Jr. (R), announced the death. A spokesman for the governor said the elder Mr. Hogan died of complications from a stroke. A onetime FBI agent, Mr. Hogan projected an image as a scrappy politician and conservative stalwart as a three-term congressman in the 1960s and 1970s and later as Prince George’s county executive. Nevertheless, he possessed an independent streak, most visibly when he put his political future at risk by turning against a president from his own party during the Watergate scandal. After being an early volunteer for his fellow Massachusetts native, Democratic presidential hopeful John F. Kennedy, Mr. Hogan switched parties during the 1960 campaign and threw his support to Nixon.”
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Watch Alex Jones call out Stephen Colbert in court testimony:
Watch the Steve Bannon diaries:
Watch a professional climber rescue this eaglet from his nest:
These students built a prosthetic bow arm for a 10-year-old violinist:
See these kids who are suing Trump over climate change:
Watch Funny Or Die on Trump's "Minority Report."