With Breanne Deppisch
THE BIG IDEA: During Richard Nixon’s first year in the White House, his attorney general sought to reassure African-American activists by telling them that they should not worry too much about the president’s troubling rhetoric on voting rights. He was trying to woo Southern whites to convert to Republicanism, but that didn’t mean he was a racist. “You will be better advised to watch what we do instead of what we say,” John Mitchell said.
I have thought of Mitchell’s quote at least once during each of Donald Trump’s 103 days in power, and it is truer now more than ever.
Consider yesterday: A reporter for Bloomberg News asked the president during an Oval Office interview if he’s going to follow through on his campaign promise to enact a “21st century” version of the 1933 Glass-Steagall law that required the separation of consumer and investment banking.
“I’m looking at that right now,” Trump replied. “There’s some people that want to go back to the old system, right? So we’re going to look at that.”
If Barack Obama had made this same pronouncement during the first year of his presidency, it would have sent shockwaves across Wall Street. Bank stocks would have collapsed, and the industry would have poured millions into a furious lobbying campaign.
When Trump said it, the markets yawned. Immediately after the Bloomberg story posted, the share prices for all the major bank stocks dropped. But they recovered within 25 minutes. Not only that, they closed up for the day!
Why? Because investors don’t take Trump seriously. They know he’s surrounded by Wall Street guys, and they see this as just the latest campaign promise he plans to break. In short, the money men are not afraid of him anymore.
A guest on CNBC confidently advised traders that it is safe to disregard this president. "Stop — please don't make changes to your portfolio based on things that get blurted out," said Josh Brown, the CEO of Ritholtz Wealth Management, a few minutes after the Bloomberg story appeared on the terminal. “Do not trade this news!”
Trump doesn’t appreciate it yet, but this dynamic cheapens the presidency and devalues his own currency. From the House floor to the trading floor, he is increasingly perceived as the boy who cries wolf.
Ironically, Steve Mnuchin addressed an audience of well-heeled finance people in Beverly Hills, California, almost simultaneous to Trump’s interview with Bloomberg.
Indeed, bank stocks have been among the biggest winners since Trump’s unexpected victory. The Standard and Poor's index of shares in major financial institutions is up 18.6 percent since the November election.
-- That is because investors are watching what Trump does, and who he appoints, more closely than what he says:
During an event outside the White House yesterday afternoon, for example, Trump was chummy with a group of 100 community bankers. He told them he will keep fighting to “roll back burdensome regulations” that were implemented as part of Dodd-Frank. Trump loved that his visitors from the trade association wore red hats that said, "Make Community Banking Great Again." He joked as he walked away, “No bad loans, please!” Everyone laughed.
The front page of this morning’s Wall Street Journal reports that Trump is preparing, as early as this week, to replace the top banking regulator – who was appointed by Obama – with a former banker who is friends with Mnuchin. The Comptroller of the Currency oversees the federal banking system and hundreds of bank supervisors stationed inside the biggest financial institutions. The Journal says the frontrunner is Joseph Otting, a former banker at OneWest Bank.
The president has already taken several steps to unwind some of the rules and institutions that were put in place to prevent the big banks from causing another financial crisis a la 2008.
In February, he had J.P. Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon to the White House. “There’s nobody better to tell me about Dodd-Frank than Jamie,” Trump said. The same day, he confessed that he wants to cut “a lot of Dodd-Frank” because, “I have so many people, friends of mine, with nice businesses, they can’t borrow money, because the banks just won’t let them borrow because of the rules and regulations.”
That afternoon, the president signed a memorandum to study unwinding parts of the 2010 law and another related to getting rid of the fiduciary rule. Despite repeatedly promising to do so, and much to Wall Street’s delight, Trump also did not label China a “currency manipulator.”
-- Trump’s credibility gap stems from more than just his willingness to make false statements and his refusal to ever apologize for them. It grows with his inconsistency. There is a wild dissonance on almost every big issue. The more you pay attention, the more you suffer whiplash.
In that same Bloomberg interview yesterday, he said he would be “honored” to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “under the right circumstances.” Just one day earlier, the president said in another interview that he would not rule out military action against North Korea. Last Thursday, he said “there is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely.”
Trump also said he is open to raising the federal tax on gasoline when Bloomberg asked. “It’s something that I would certainly consider,” the president said. This caught his aides and allies on the Hill off guard. White House press secretary Sean Spicer quickly clarified that it’s not actually a serious proposal but that he was considering it "out of respect" for a trucking trade association.
All of this gets back to the bigger question of whether we’re supposed to take Trump seriously but not literally, as his campaign said last year. The truth is we must do both: take him seriously and literally. He is the commander-in-chief, and he has followed through on certain promises.
The Bloomberg interview underscored Trump’s willingness to say yes when asked if he is considering something, even when he is definitely not. Raising the gas tax, meeting with the North Korean dictator and breaking up the big banks have never been under serious consideration, but the president suggested they were and created headaches for his advisers.
-- This is part of a pattern. It’s a crutch of sorts. Philip Bump has rounded up many examples of Trump appearing to acquiesce when someone asks if he’s open to something – no matter how big or small. Last summer, for example, a woman asked Trump during an event in New Hampshire if he would replace Muslim TSA agents with veterans. She suggested that the Muslims might be identified by the "hebee-jabis" (hijabs) they wear. "You know, we are looking at that," Trump replied said. "And we are looking at that. We're looking at a lot of things."
When the Washington Examiner asked last Wednesday if Trump has thought about splitting up the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, he replied: "Absolutely.” “I have,” he said. “There are many people that want to break up the 9th Circuit.”
In December 2015, a reporter asked Trump if was open to requiring Muslims in the United States to register in a database. “We’re going to have to look at a lot of things very closely,” he replied. When another reporter followed up by asking how such a database would be different from Jews having to register in Nazi Germany, Trump tried to turn it around. “You tell me,” he said.
Other examples of things Trump has said he’ll consider include banning guns for those on the no-fly list, suing Ted Cruz over his eligibility to run for president, increasing the minimum wage, creating a commission on immigration and extending the Renewable Fuel Standard.
-- The implication that Trump is actively considering nearly every policy you can possibly imagine has become a punchline on social media:
Jeb Bush’s former communications director, who was Sean Spicer’s deputy at the RNC in 2012:
Q: One proposal is to exterminate all the rats & pigeons and use their fur and feathers to warm the homeless.— Tim Miller (@Timodc) May 1, 2017
Trump: We're looking at that
The White House correspondent for Breitbart News:
Meetings, taxes, NAFTA, banks, health care — Ask yourself if Trump is ever *not* open to anything when media asks him about it— Charlie Spiering (@charliespiering) May 1, 2017
A reporter for the conservative Washington Free Beacon:
When are you guys going to learn that if you ask Trump if he's "open to X," the answer will always, always be yes.— Alex Griswold (@HashtagGriswold) May 1, 2017
A former senior adviser to Obama:
100 days in and everyone discounts everything Trump says bc they know he has no clue what he is talking about on every subject— Dan Pfeiffer (@danpfeiffer) May 1, 2017
A conservative commentator:
"We're looking into that" is the Trump version of Ron Burgundy reading whatever is on the screen. He can't help it. pic.twitter.com/1mptvAGiCi— Liam Donovan (@LPDonovan) June 30, 2016
Former congressman Joe Walsh to @KatyTurNBC: "As a Trump supporter I do my best not to pay attention to what he says."— Ben Terris (@bterris) May 1, 2017
-- Some exciting news: PowerPost continues to expand. Paige Winfield Cunningham, one of the smartest and most deeply-sourced health care reporters in Washington, will launch a newsletter next Tuesday called THE HEALTH 202. Her daily digest will be chock full of insights on health policy and politics. Sign up here.
|Welcome to the Daily 202, PowerPost's morning newsletter. |
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WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- After getting rolled in his first budget negotiation, President Trump this morning threatened a government shutdown this fall:
The reason for the plan negotiated between the Republicans and Democrats is that we need 60 votes in the Senate which are not there! We....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 2, 2017
either elect more Republican Senators in 2018 or change the rules now to 51%. Our country needs a good "shutdown" in September to fix mess!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 2, 2017
-- “Capitals survive Game 3 in overtime after blowing late two-goal lead vs. Penguins,” by Isabelle Khurshudyan in Pittsburgh: “On a power play, Kevin Shattenkirk scored to lift the Capitals to a 3-2 win … in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference semifinal. That cut Pittsburgh’s lead in the series to 2-1, a deficit Washington surmounted in just the last round against Toronto. But first, this roller coaster of a playoff game saw Pittsburgh’s best player get injured and the Capitals get out to a two-goal lead only to lose it in the last two minutes of regulation. The hero was the beleaguered Shattenkirk, traded to Washington in late February. Entering Monday night, he had a team-worst minus-seven rating in the postseason. Yet he was the one who helped extend the series to at least five games.” Two smart takes:
- Jesse Dougherty: “With Sidney Crosby’s injury, the Capitals-Penguins series may have just taken a sharp turn.” (We’re still awaiting word on Crosby’s status.)
- Dan Steinberg: “The Caps were headed toward a familiar collapse. Somehow, they’re still alive.”
Picture of the suspect outside Gregory. pic.twitter.com/fEQQxscXhm— The Daily Texan (@thedailytexan) May 1, 2017
GET SMART FAST:
- One person was killed and three were others wounded in a stabbing attack at the University of Texas at Austin, grinding activity on the 40-acre campus to a halt as police scrambled to respond to the brazen attack. Authorities said the suspect, who was taken into custody, was armed with a large “bowie-style” hunting knife. “It was described to us that the individual calmly walked around the plaza … and basically attacked these four unfortunate students,” UT’s police chief said. The suspect is believed to be a student at the university. (Susan Svrluga and Sarah Larimer)
- Dallas authorities retracted earlier accounts suggesting a vehicle was reversing toward police in “an aggressive manner” before one of the officers opened fire – striking and killing 15-year-old Jordan Edwards. In a news conference, the Dallas police chief said he originally “misspoke,” and that the driver had, in fact, begun to drive away at the time the officer opened fire. “After reviewing the video, I don’t believe that (the shooting) met our core values,” he said. (Katie Mettler, Lindsey Bever and Wesley Lowery)
- Police say a gunman who opened fire at a San Diego pool party in his condominium complex Sunday -- killing one and leaving six others injured -- was “despondent” over a recent breakup, and, before being gunned down by police, phoned his ex-girlfriend and made her listen as he carried out his rampage. (Mark Berman, Abigail Hauslohner, Wesley Lowery and Alice Crites)
- Another gunman opened fire on a Dallas paramedic responding to a gunshot victim yesterday, leaving him critically injured and prompting police to lock down the residential area for hours in pursuit of the assailant. The gunman and another person – believed to be his neighbor – were found dead in a home not far from the crime. (Mark Berman)
- The State Department issued a new travel alert advising all Americans to be cautious if they travel to Europe this summer due to the spike in terrorist attacks on the continent. It’s the fourth travel warning for Europe issued by the State Department in the last year, and is slated to end in September. (Carol Morello)
- A U.S. antimissile defense system recently installed in South Korea is now operational. Installation of the THAAD battery was hotly contested in Seoul, where critics say the U.S. scrambled to install the device before that country holds a presidential election that might lead to a decision to halt its use altogether. (Missy Ryan)
- A prominent militant who fought with Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine and participated in far-right European politics has completed U.S. Army training and is serving in an infantry division in Hawaii, according to military records. The 29-year-old’s ability to join the Army has raised a host of questions about both the military's recruiting and vetting process. (Thomas Gibbons-Neff)
- The Supreme Court ruled that anti-discrimination laws allow cities to sue banks for predatory lending practices, but said the plaintiffs must meet a strict burden of proof for showing how the practices harmed local governments. (Robert Barnes)
- A federal appeals court declined to rehear a landmark case to overturn net neutrality – letting the current regulation stand, and paving the way for opponents to appeal to the Supreme Court. (Brian Fung)
- Thousands of demonstrators gathered in major cities across the U.S. for “May Day” protests on Monday, using the forums largely to speak out against Trump’s labor and immigration policies. The demonstrations occurred as the scope of Trump’s approach to immigration is coming into focus – with immigrant arrests rising 33 percent in the first weeks of his administration. (Sandhya Somashekhar)
- The Writers Guild of America reached a new contract agreement with television and movie studios overnight, averting a potentially devastating strike that would have impacted some 240,000 employees who work in the industry. (LA Times)
- Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said his country will vote on whether or not to continue pursuing E.U. membership, accusing the bloc of being insincere and making Turkey “wait at its gates” since it began membership negotiations more than 10 years ago. In turn, the EU has said Ankara must meet higher criteria on human rights and the rule of law. (AP)
- Embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro called for a new constitution, seeking to mollify hundreds of thousands of protesters who have demanded his ouster. Opposition leaders immediately objected, however, charging that Maduro was seeking to further erode Venezuela’s constitutional order. (AP)
- The U.S.-led coalition in Iraq and Syria killed 45 civilians in airstrikes between November and early March, Pentagon officials announced. The new findings resulted from investigations into nine airstrikes that were part of a broader campaign against ISIS. (Greg Jaffe)
- Jim Mattis has revoked a Defense Department policy allowing some of the top athletes from military service academies to avoid active-duty service after graduating by pursuing professional sports full-time instead. The new policy will require all athletes to again serve at least two years on active duty if they attend a service academy. (Dan Lamothe)
POWER PLAYERS IN THE NEWS:
- Rep. Joaquin Castro said he will not challenge Ted Cruz for his Senate seat in 2018, clearing the field for another Democratic congressman to take on the former presidential candidate who, despite his national profile, remains unpopular in his home state. (Ed O’Keefe)
- An internal poll conducted for Democrat Jon Ossoff’s congressional campaign shows him locked in a dead heat with Republican rival Karen Handel, 48 percent to 47 percent, ahead of the June 20 runoff election in Georgia. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
- Kirsten Gillibrand says she is “ruling out” the possibility of running for president in 2020, tamping down – at least temporarily – speculation that the New York Democrat will launch a bid. “I’m focused entirely on running for Senate, so yes, I’m ruling it out,” she told reporters. (New York Magazine)
- Conservative firebrand Tomi Lahren settled with Glenn Beck and his media outlet, The Blaze, after suing for wrongful termination. Most details were not disclosed, but the settlement reportedly did not include a non-compete clause – allowing Lahren to immediately begin work elsewhere. A spokesman for The Blaze said the company was "pleased to announce" that its relationship with the 24-year-old had concluded. (CNN)
- Eminem launched court action against New Zealand’s ruling political party, accusing it of using an unlicensed version of his song, “Lose Yourself,” in a campaign ad. Defendants are slated to argue the tune was merely “Eminem-esque,” but it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which Slim (and his infamous, chart-topping hit) do not ultimately emerge as the victors. (France 24)
HEALTH CARE HANGING BY A THREAD:
-- “The aim has become very simple for House Republicans stumbling closer to passing a bill to revise the Affordable Care Act: just get it off their plates and over to the Senate," David Weigel and Paige Winfield Cunningham report: “In the messy effort to rally their often unruly party around a measure to replace big parts of [Barack Obama’s] health-care law, House leaders have been forced to leave other objectives by the wayside and focus on one simple, political goal: pass a bill they can say repeals Obamacare — even if it has no hope of survival in the Senate — to shield their members in next year’s elections. ‘I would hope it gets changed over there,’ [said] Rep. Peter T. King … echoing other center-right members who explicitly said they were willing to pass the new revision in hopes that the Senate would strip out the harsher provisions. Even that goal, however, is proving elusive. By late Monday, House leaders had collected more votes than ever but still appeared to be shy of the 216 Republicans they need to pass the measure. They’re stuck between conservatives and moderates, both keenly aware of how they can be attacked on the issue next year...
“The White House, where aides have suggested a Wednesday vote is possible, continued to lobby members Monday even though no vote had been scheduled. [But] even some members who won their seats partially on promises to repeal the ACA are blinking, citing changes to the proposed replacement that would allow insurers to charge higher premiums to patients with preexisting conditions if their state got permission from the federal government."
THE PERMANENT CAMPAIGN:
-- Trump’s campaign released a political ad Monday commemorating his first 100 days in office. John Wagner reports: “The $1.5 million buy offers a rapid-fire run through Trump’s first 100 days in office, with a narrator making the claim that ‘America has rarely seen such success.’ Among the victories touted are the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, a rollback of regulations and ‘the biggest tax cut plan in history.’ The latter refers to the single-page blueprint issued by the administration last week. There is no mention in the ad of the botched attempts to implement a travel ban or pass legislation overhauling the Affordable Care Act. The ad also takes aim at the media, branding it FAKE NEWS, and claiming that viewers wouldn’t be aware of Trump’s accomplishments by watching the news.”
-- The president abruptly ended a CBS interview that was slated to air Monday after being asked about his unsubstantiated claim that Obama had spied on him. The New York Times’ Glenn Thrush and Julie Hirschfeld Davis report: “In the interview, which was timed to place a capstone on his first 100 days, Mr. Trump resurfaced allegations made in a bombshell Twitter post from early March that Mr. Obama had tapped his phones in Trump Tower, saying that while the former president had been ‘very nice to me,’ the two have had ‘difficulties.’ ‘You saw what happened with surveillance,’ [he said]. Asked to elaborate by host John Dickerson, Trump said: ‘You can figure that out yourself.” When Mr. Dickerson asked whether Mr. Trump stood by his characterization of Mr. Obama as ‘sick and bad,’ the president appeared to become agitated and said, ‘You can take it any way you want.’ ‘I have my own opinions,’ Mr. Trump continued, as Mr. Dickerson tried in vain to ask him for an explanation. The president then ended the interview, saying, “O.K., it’s enough.’
“The testy exchange … was at odds with the image of competence and message discipline that White House officials have labored to show over the past week … [while] Trump reverted to his favorite political gear: picking fights and, at times, saying the first thing that pops into his head, giving free range to his opinions, grudges and unique interpretations of American history, and insisting on superlatives to describe his achievements.”
-- Emboldened by the concessions they got in the spending bill, Democrats think they have set the stage to block Trump’s policy priorities for years to come. Kelsey Snell and John Wagner report: “[Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer] secured nearly $5 billion in new domestic spending by exploiting disagreements between Trump and GOP lawmakers over spending priorities. Democrats’ lopsided victory on the five-month deal, which is likely to be approved this week, means it will be very difficult — if not impossible — for the GOP to exert its will in future budget negotiations, including when it comes to Trump’s 2018 budget blueprint. That’s because Republicans are hopelessly divided over how much to spend on government programs, with a small but vocal minority unwilling to support such measures at all. That has forced Republicans to work with Democrats to avoid politically damaging government shutdowns. And that means Democrats are in the driver’s seat when it comes to budget battles, even with Trump in the White House.”
“I think we had a strategy and it worked,” Schumer told The Post. “Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate were closer to one another than Republicans were to Donald Trump.” The extra domestic spending will now be that much harder to strip from future budgets – preventing yet another obstacle for some of Trump’s key priorities, such as money for a border wall.
MORE FALLOUT AT FOX:
-- The turmoil at Fox News continued on Monday with the ouster of co-president Bill Shine, who succeeded Roger Ailes amid a sexual-harassment scandal last summer despite Shine’s alleged role in abetting Ailes in tolerating a workplace hostile to women. Paul Farhi reports: “Shine, a 20-year Fox News veteran, appeared to have the backing of Fox chairman Rupert Murdoch in the wake of the firing of Bill O’Reilly, Fox’s biggest star. Instead, Shine appeared to come under increasing pressure all week, as rumors began circulating that Murdoch’s sons … were seeking his successor.”
-- Shine’s departure fueled speculation that Hannity could be the next to leave Fox News, per The Daily Beast: “Shine was Hannity’s long-time ally [and] in recent days, Hannity warned it would be the ‘total end’ of Fox News should Shine leave, and he rallied conservative activists to back him up. Initially, insiders said, Hannity’s army of lawyers had hoped to discuss with Fox ways of protecting his 8-year-old primetime show, amid fears that Lachlan and James Murdoch … were looking to push the network away from hard-right politics. However, with Shine’s departure on Monday, [said one source] … there’s no reason for Hannity to stay. ‘The network now belongs to the Murdoch sons,’ another Fox insider said after learning that Shine was gone. One insider speculates that the negotiations could end this week and Hannity might be out by Friday.” However, the network emphatically denied that Hannity — a favorite of conservatives and a staunch Trump supporter— was planning to exit the network. Hannity himself said in a tweet that he has no such plans.
-- “Hannity’s current contract is supposed to extend through 2020,” Variety’s Brian Steinberg notes. “And though he was one of a number of Fox News anchors who had a ‘key man’ clause in his contract that allowed him to leave if Ailes stepped down, he opted to stay. A Fox News spokeswoman said Hannity did not have a similar clause that related to Shine.” As Steinberg noted: “At Fox News Channel, Sean Hannity is in some ways the last man standing. The network would no doubt like to keep it that way.”
-- HuffPost, “With Trump In The White House, MSNBC Is Resisting The Resistance,” by Ryan Grim: “[NBC executive Andy Lack] has made quite clear his plan to move the cable news network away from its bedrock liberalism and toward a more centrist approach personified by Brian Williams — even including hosts of a conservative bent … But Lack, in seeking to make this vision a reality, has an unusual problem for a TV executive: sky-high ratings. Since the election of Trump, MSNBC’s liberal primetime programs … have surged not just in ratings but in the share of the cable news audience they’re capturing. Tossing those primetime hosts overboard while they’re raking in viewership and revenue has so far proved an elusive task. ‘Hayes, Maddow, O’Donnell ― the entire primetime lineup is doing record numbers and Lack can’t stand it. It makes him furious,’ said one senior MSNBC source, echoing the sentiment of many other insiders … The gap between the success of the primetime lineup and the investment of leadership in that very success has started to become public. ‘Every hour that Andy has not touched are the strongest hours on the network. Everything he has touched is lower rated,’ said one well-placed insider.”
CONFLICT OF INTEREST WATCH:
-- Jared Kushner didn’t identify on his government financial disclosure form that he is currently a part-owner of a real-estate finance startup and has a number of loans from banks on properties he co-owns, according to securities filings. The Wall Street Journal’s’ Jean Eaglesham, Juliet Chung and Lisa Schwartz report: “Mr. Kushner’s stake in Cadre—a tech startup that pairs investors with big real-estate projects—means the senior White House official is currently a business partner of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. GS 0.47% and billionaires including George Soros and Peter Thiel, according to people close to the company. The Cadre stake is one of many interests—and ties to large financial institutions—that Mr. Kushner didn’t identify on his disclosure form … Others include loans totaling at least $1 billion, from more than 20 lenders, to properties and companies part-owned by Mr. Kushner, the Journal found. He has also provided personal guarantees on more than $300 million of the debt, according to the analysis. Jamie Gorelick, a lawyer representing Mr. Kushner, said in a statement that … the Cadre stake is described in a revised version of his financial-disclosure form that will be made public after it has been certified by ethics officials.” She also claimed he previously discussed his ownership with the Office of Government Ethics, who did not respond to a request for comment.
-- Contrary to the White House's assertions, the Office of Government Ethics says it was not actually consulted before Ivanka Trump was formally brought on as an adviser. CNN reports: “[On March 20, it was reported that] … the president's older daughter was working out of a West Wing office. The next day, [Spicer] assured reporters that Ivanka would follow the ethics restrictions that apply to federal employees. He said she was acting ‘in consultation with the Office of Government Ethics.’ But the ethics office, in a letter made public Monday, said it was not consulted. Director Walter Shaub said he reached out to the White House and to Ivanka's lawyer on March 24 to tell them that Ivanka should be considered a federal employee, subject to those rules.”
-- New York Times, “Ivanka Trump’s West Wing Agenda,” by Jodi Kantor, Rachel Abrams and Maggie Haberman: “The two trade thoughts from morning until late at night, according to aides. Even though she has no government or policy experience, she plans to review some executive orders before they are signed … and calls cabinet officials on issues she is interested in, recently asking [UN ambassador Nikki Haley] about getting humanitarian aid into Syria. She has his eye for image and branding, his sensitivity to perceived criticism. Like him, she sometimes makes sweeping, and arguably overreaching, claims: She portrayed Mr. Trump as an advocate for women in last summer’s convention speech, and described her brand as a stereotype-shattering movement. Like him, she appears confident she can master realms in which she has little expertise or experience. The two even speak in similar streams of superlatives: ‘tremendous,’ ‘unbelievable.’ … By inserting herself into a scalding set of gender dynamics, she is becoming a proxy for dashed dreams of a female presidency and the debate about [Trump’s] record of conduct toward women and his views on them. [And] she has one skill unmatched by almost anyone else, family members and aides say: She can effectively convey criticism to a man who often refuses it from others, and can appeal to him to change his mind.”
ROLLING BACK THE OBAMA LEGACY, FLOTUS EDITION:
-- Newly-confirmed Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue moved to stall one of Michelle Obama’s signature accomplishments as first lady: stricter nutritional standards for school breakfasts and lunches. Caitlin Dewey and Moriah Balingit reports: “Speaking at Catoctin Elementary School in Leesburg, Va. … Perdue announced that his department would be slowing the implementation of aggressive standards on sodium, whole grains and sweetened milks that passed under the Obama administration. ‘We know meals cannot be nutritious if they're not consumed, if they're thrown out,’ Perdue told reporters after eating chicken nuggets and salad with a group of fifth graders. ‘We have to balance sodium and whole grain content with palatability.’ The changes will likely be cheered by conservatives, who have long cited the previous restrictions as examples of gross federal overreach. But such rollbacks have been rejected by public health and nutrition advocates, who say the stricter nutrition rules are critical tools in the fight against obesity.”
-- Hours after the publishing of an internal White House document calling for the “immediate” discontinuation of Michelle's signature “Let Girls Learn” initiative, the White House insisted the program had not actually changed. CNN’s’ Kevin Liptak reports: "There have been no changes to the program," said a State Department spokesperson. "The Administration supports policies and programs to empower adolescent girls, including efforts to educate them through the completion of secondary school. We are committed to empowering women and girls around the world and are continuing to examine the best ways to do so." The White House’s response appears to break from an earlier document reported by CNN, however: "Moving forward, we will not continue to use the 'Let Girls Learn' brand or maintain a stand-alone program," it read.
TRUMP HUGGING DANGEROUS STRONGMEN:
-- “It’s no longer just [Putin],” Philip Rucker reports. “As he settles into office, [Trump’s] affection for totalitarian leaders has grown beyond Russia’s president to include strongmen around the globe. In an undeniable shift in American foreign policy, Trump is cultivating authoritarian leaders, one after another, in an effort to reset relations following an era of ostracism and public shaming by Obama and his predecessors. Every American president since at least the 1970s has used his office at least occasionally to champion human rights and democratic values around the world. Yet, so far at least, Trump has willingly turned a blind eye to dictators’ records of brutality and oppression in hopes that those leaders might become his partners in isolating North Korea or fighting terrorism. Indeed, in his first 102 days in office, Trump has neither delivered substantive remarks nor taken action supporting democracy movements or condemning human rights abuses, other than the missile strike he authorized on Syria …
- “He doesn’t even pretend to utter the words,” said Michael McFaul, a U.S. ambassador to Russia under Obama. “Small-d democrats all over the world are incredibly despondent right now about [Trump] — and that’s true in China, in Iran, in Egypt, in Russia. They feel like the leader of the free world is absent.”
“Yet Trump’s advisers said the president’s silence on human rights matters is purposeful, part of a grand strategy to rebuild alliances or create new ones. Trump’s outreach is designed to isolate North Korea in the Asia-Pacific region and to build coalitions to defeat the Islamic State in the Middle East and North Africa, senior administration officials said. Inside the Trump White House, the thinking goes that if mending bridges with a country like the Philippines … means covering up or even ignoring concerns like human rights, then so be it.”
-- The Senate has put a Russian sanctions bill on hold, “indefinitely” tabling the legislation until the Senate Intelligence Committee completes its investigation into the Kremlin’s activities. Karoun Demirjian reports: “Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker said Monday that the Senate would wait ‘to get some facts’ before moving ahead with the bill, which codifies existing sanctions against Russia imposed by executive order since 2014 and introduces new punitive measures against anyone supporting Russian cyber-hacking against public or private infrastructure. The measure has support from high-ranking Democrats and Republican hawks, but struggled to get support from Corker, who earlier had insisted on renegotiating the bill before allowing it to proceed to the floor. It is not clear when the Senate Intelligence Committee will complete its probe into allegations of Russian meddling … [and] the committee has recently come under some fire from Democrats for not moving more quickly.” Ranking Democrat Sen. Benjamin Cardin had hoped that the Russia sanctions bill would advance to a vote alongside compromise legislation to impose stricter sanctions against Iran, which may be held at the end of this month.
-- New York Times, “Trump’s Volatility in Asia Upsets a Longtime U.S. Ally: Australia,” by Damien Cave: “South Korea, Japan and the U.S. have grown accustomed to North Korea’s diatribes, but Pyongyang recently threatened a new target with a nuclear strike: Australia. During a visit by [Mike Pence] to Sydney, the North warned Australia to think twice about ‘blindly and zealously toeing the U.S. line’ and acting as ‘a shock brigade of the U.S. master.’ Australian and American troops have fought side by side in every major conflict since World War I, and there are few militaries in the world with closer relations: 1,250 United States Marines recently arrived in Darwin for six months of joint exercises; the two countries share intelligence from land, sea and even outer space … But North Korea’s threat against the country, far-fetched as it might seem, is an example of how Australia’s most important military alliance faces a new challenge: the risk that [Trump] will draw the nation into a conflict or other unexpected crisis that destabilizes the region, angers its trading partners or forces it to side with either the U.S. or China. “What Australia and the United States are now trying to work out is how to manage that military momentum in an increasingly tense part of the world. If the military is a hammer in the Trump era, at what point does every dispute start to look like a nail?”
-- “As arrests of protesters soar in Russia, this small monitoring group struggles to keep track,” by Andrew Roth: “Opposition street politics in Russia are a numbers game, and there are two figures that matter. The first is turnout. When opposition leader Alexei Navalny sparked one of the largest unsanctioned protests in years this March, [police] … said just 8,000 people attended. Navalny claimed as many as 30,000. The other figure that matters comes later: The number of protesters detained by police and thrown into ‘avtozaks,’ Russian police vans bound for the precincts and city jails. Enter OVD-Info, a website whose founders described it at first as a ‘start-up’ to monitor political oppression. For several years, it has served as a one-stop shop for digging up information on political prosecutions in Russia. [Founded by a software engineer and a journalist in 2011], OVD-Info is now run out of a one-room office in downtown Moscow with computer workstations and a large whiteboard for strategy-planning sessions. After six years of monitoring, the team might be the country’s best repository of knowledge about arrests at demonstrations and ongoing prosecutions of opposition figures. 'We got tired of the police systematically understating the numbers of people being arrested,' co-founder Grigory Okhotin said in an interview. “We knew there were far more.” Now, their knowledge will likely be put to use as new protests spring up across Russia this summer."
ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN:
-- Sebastian Gorka’s White House role has become the subject of debate, with some administration officials pressing for him to be reassigned, even as others insist his job is safe. Greg Jaffe reports: “Gorka has been singled out by some in the White House as a liability for his hard-line stands on Islam and terrorism and his past involvement in right-wing Hungarian politics. Gorka initially joined the White House as a deputy assistant to the president and senior member of the Strategic Initiatives Group, an internal White House think tank that briefly reported to Bannon and Jared Kushner. … The group has since been disbanded, leaving Gorka, who specializes in counterterrorism and national security issues, without a clear portfolio. Some senior administration officials said that he could be reassigned in the next few months to a senior job in the [DHS], the State Department or the Pentagon. But other officials insisted that Gorka’s role with the administration has not changed and that he will continue to advise Trump and Bannon on broad counterterrorism and national security strategy.”
Spicer sought to downplay the possibility of his imminent departure on Monday: “I have no belief he is currently leaving the White House,” he told reporters. “So there’s nothing to update you on, with respect to that, and we wouldn’t talk about personnel matters at this time.” Gorka also appears to have the strong backing of Trump, who has privately praised his combative television appearances and tirades against the “fake news” media.
-- Trump’s Army secretary nominee Mark Green is a self-described “creationist” who delivered a lecture using the example of a lawn mower left in the backyard to argue against the theory of evolution. CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski and Chris Massie report: "'If you put a lawn mower out in your yard and a hundred years come back, it's rusted and falling apart. You can't put parts out there and a hundred years later it's gonna come back together,’ [he said]. ‘That is a violation of a law of thermodynamics. A physical law that exists in the universe.’ Green also argues that processes allowing human life, such as blood-clotting, are 'irreducibly complex' and says that is evidence of a creator.” But Green’s controversial comments do not stop there: the Tennessee lawmaker has also faced opposition for his anti-LGBT remarks, including one from September, in which he said: "If you poll the psychiatrists, they're going to tell you that transgender is a disease."
-- Trump has tapped anti-abortion activist Teresa Manning to oversee a federal family planning section at the HHS. placing the former National Right to Life Committee lobbyist in charge of a program that provides family planning funding for poor Americans or those without health insurance. Her selection drew swift rebuke from proponents of abortion rights, who cite a string of incendiary claims made by Manning about birth control and women’s health. “Of course, contraception doesn’t work,” she said in a 2003 interview. (Juliet Eilperin)
-- Trump said infighting among his top White House staffers has subsided, praising both Bannon and Kushner in his interview with Bloomberg’s Jennifer Jacobs and Margaret Talev: "Bannon is a very decent guy who feels very strongly about the country. Likewise, Jared. And they’re getting along fine," Trump said, calling Kushner “a very brilliant young guy.” "We have a lot of people that are getting along well," Trump said. "It’s coming out better now than it was, you know, for a while. And for a while it was a little testy, I guess for some of them, but I said, ‘You’ve got to get your acts together." He also said he didn’t expect to see any departures from the White House soon: “Now, I will tell you, probably people are going to get job offers. You know, things happen,” he said. “But I’m very happy with our group. We’re doing very well.”
-- “Congress would allocate more than $120 million in additional money to help cover the escalating costs of protecting the Trump family and Trump Tower under a bipartisan spending agreement that appears poised to pass this week,” the New York Times’ Nicholas Fandos notes. “About half of the money, nearly $60 million, is earmarked for the Secret Service, with most of it going toward protecting the president while he is traveling and security for Trump Tower … Another roughly $60 million would be set aside in a rare provision to reimburse localities, like New York City and Palm Beach County … The additional funding, which comes after weeks of mostly behind-the-scenes lobbying, reflects the tremendous costs associated with protecting the lifestyle of Mr. Trump and his family. … The legislation provides the Secret Service with $34 million for the increased cost of physical protection of Mr. Trump for the rest of the fiscal year. The money could be used flexibly to protect the first family in New York and when it travels. Another $23 million would go specifically toward covering the costs of outfitting Trump Tower with the necessary equipment and personnel, as well as to rent space inside the building for agency personnel."
- New York police have spent $300,000 a day protecting Trump Tower between Election Day and Inauguration Day, and $127,000 to $145,000 a day since then.
- In Florida, home of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office has said it was spending an additional $60,000 a day in overtime when Trump was in town. (That’s been a total of 25 days so far this year.)
-- There will be no Mar-a-Lago trip for Trump this weekend, though. The president is planning to go to his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, instead. The Palm Beach Post’s Kristina Webb reports: "It appears the president will spend this weekend in New Jersey. When the Mar-a-Lago Club is closed for the season, with brocade curtains hidden behind hurricane shutters and croquet mallets packed away from the pounding sun, the leader of the free world is not likely to spend his weekends at some other tropical paradise. Instead, all indications are that he will make the occasional weekend trip from the White House to his Trump National Golf Club in rural Bedminster, New Jersey. In fact, it looks like Trump is planning to spend his first weekend there as president this coming Friday through Sunday, according to a Federal Aviation Administration notice posted Monday morning."
-- “Trump’s re-election campaign has sent $274,000 in rent to Trump’s office building during the first three months of this year, even though fewer than two dozen employees are on the payroll for an election more than three years away," HuffPost’s S.V. Date reports: “That total works out to a monthly average of $91,000, which is more than half of what Trump’s campaign was paying Trump Tower each month at the height of the presidential race last year. Back then, though, the campaign had 168 employees with a New York City address on the payroll, compared with just 20 now, according to [an analysis] … It cannot be determined through Trump’s FEC filing for the first quarter of this year how many employees remained on the payroll at the end of March 31, or whether the campaign and Trump Tower have settled on a monthly rent for the future. … The smaller number of employees now means the campaign has paid an average of $4,567 per person in rent over the first three months of 2017. Last fall, the campaign was paying an average of $1,012 per employee in rent.”
-- Trump’s bizarre comments about Andrew Jackson – along with his claim that no one ever asks the question “why was there the Civil War?” – were more discussed than any other story yesterday. In a radio interview with the Washington Examiner's Salena Zito, he suggested that the Tennessean with whom he identified might have negotiated a resolution. “He was a swashbuckler,” Trump said. “Had Andrew Jackson been a little later, you wouldn't have had the Civil War. He was a very tough person, but he had a big heart. And he was really angry that -- he saw what was happening with regard to the Civil War. He said, ‘There's no reason for this.’ People don't realize, you know, the Civil War — if you think about it, why? People don't ask that question, but why was there the Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?”
-- The New York Times ran a story about what Trump might have meant on the front page: “Jackson, a slave owner who believed in the use of force if necessary to preserve the Union, did not live to see the Civil War, but Mr. Trump may have been thinking of the Nullification Crisis of 1832-33, when Jackson threatened to send troops after South Carolina declared tariffs imposed by the federal government null and void and threatened to secede. That was a precursor, in a sense, to the crisis that precipitated the Civil War in 1861. ‘That’s similar in vein to what one would say about the Civil War,’ said Michael Dubke, the White House communications director. ‘I’m sure something along those lines is what the president was referring to.’ Jon Meacham, a Jackson biographer, agreed that Mr. Trump probably meant the Nullification Crisis, but he said the question on what caused the Civil War suggested that Mr. Trump might have been referring to a deal to avert conflict short of the abolition of slavery. ‘The expansion of slavery caused the Civil War,’ he said. ‘And you can’t get around that. So what does Trump mean? Would he have let slavery exist but not expand? That’s the counterfactual question you have to ask.’”
-- Five takes from people at The Post:
- Satirist Alexandra Petri on her ComPost blog has a funny parody: “‘Donald Trump’s Civil War’ by Ken Burns.”
- Jonathan Capehart: “Trump’s woefully ignorant beliefs about the Civil War and Andrew Jackson.”
- Ishaan Tharoor on WorldViews: “Trump’s right-wing populism is built on historical amnesia.”
- Valerie Strauss on the Answer Sheet blog: “Trump (really) asked why there was a Civil War. Here’s why.”
- For a taste of Jackson's cruel attitude toward slaves, read DeNeen Brown’s post on his hunt for runaway slaves on our Retropolis blog.
-- The external clips are also brutal for Trump:
- The Atlantic’s Yoni Applebaum has an essay on why there needed to be a Civil War: “Some issues aren’t amenable to deal-making; some principles don’t lend themselves to compromise.”
- NPR posted a fact check: “Could Jackson Have Stopped The Civil War, As Trump Said?” Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep, who wrote a book about Jackson in 2015 called “Jacksonland,” thinks not: “People did try, desperately, to ‘work out’ that problem before the shooting started in 1861, but it was in the end an irreconcilable difference.”
- Politico: “Historians see a dark underside to Trump's Civil War riff.”
- Yahoo News: “Historians react to Trump’s Civil War comments: ‘That’s entirely wrong in every respect.’”
- CNN: “Trump's wacky history lessons continue.”
- New York Daily News: “Our current President's ignorance about the past is painful.”
- The Daily Beast: “Trump’s revisionist, Andrew Jackson-related history can be traced to none other than Steve Bannon.”
- Mother Jones: “Historian on Trump's Civil War Comments: ‘God Help Us.’”
- The Nation: “Seven things Trump gets absolutely wrong about Jackson.”
-- Trump’s media blitz, including the Jackson interview, was a mess. White House officials say privately there was no broader strategy behind the interviews. "They were not helpful to us," one senior administration official told Politico. "There was no point to do all of them." GOP strategists and Capitol Hill aides were puzzled by it all. "I have no idea what they view as a successful media hit," one senior GOP consultant with close ties to the administration told Josh Dawsey. "He just seemed to go crazy today," a senior GOP aide said. "It seems to be among the most bizarre recent 24 hours in American presidential history," said Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian. "It was all just surreal disarray and a confused mental state from the president."
WHY THE JACKSON GAFFE MATTERS:
-- This is not some obscure academic dispute. America still lives every day with the moral stain of our original sin.
-- The chairman of Trump’s campaign in Virginia last year has made the Confederate flag a centerpiece of his ongoing gubernatorial bid. “Trying to orange-wash the Civil War as a messy business deal that didn’t involve the inhumane practice of enslaving and murdering millions of people and could have been worked out by a jolly populist who owned 150 slaves is ridiculous,” columnist Petula Dvorak writes. “It’s almost as ludicrous as the Civil War stuff that governor-wannabe Corey A. Stewart is pulling in Virginia. Stewart, a Prince William County Republican who’s originally from Minnesota, has been wrapping himself in the Rebel flag, trying to use Confederate symbolism as his campaign brand — in 2017. Stewart, who also is chairman of the Board of County Supervisors, even dressed as a Confederate reenactor and then had his campaign fly his banner along with a Confederate flag behind an airplane.”
Last week, in response to New Orleans taking down a monument that has long served as a rallying point for white supremacists, Stewart tweeted: “Nothing is worse than a Yankee telling a Southerner that his monuments don’t matter.” To which singer John Legend tweeted in reply, “Like, literally, nothing? Nothing is worse?”
-- One of George W. Bush’s White House speechwriters, Michael Gerson, argues that George Wallace would have gladly given the speech Trump gave in Harrisburg on Saturday night: “Trump used his bully pulpit quite literally, devoting about half his speech to the dehumanization of migrants and refugees as criminals, infiltrators and terrorists. Trump gained a kind of perverse energy from the rolling waves of hatred, culminating in the reading of racist song lyrics comparing his targets to vermin. It was a speech with all the logic, elevation and public purpose of a stink bomb…
“Those who find the president surprisingly ‘conventional’ must somehow dismiss or discount this kind of speech,” Michael writes in his must-read column today. “They must somehow ignore the children in the audience, soaking up the fears and prejudices of their elders. They must somehow believe that presidential rhetoric — capable of elevating a country — has no power to debase it. It is not sophisticated or worldly-wise to become inured to bigotry. The only thing more frightening than Trump’s speech — arguably the most hate-filled presidential communication in modern history — is the apathetic response of those who should know better.”
A DIVIDED AMERICA:
-- There are many disturbing reports of racism across America every day. Too often they get covered as isolated incidents, but we must connect the dots and we must not turn a blind eye. It’s also important to acknowledge that this is not a Southern problem but a national problem. Here are three stories published by The Washington Post just yesterday from places that were part of the Union during the Civil War:
1. Baltimore Orioles all-star Adam Jones said he was “called the n-word a handful of times” by Boston fans at Fenway Park. Red Sox officials confirmed that one fan threw a bag of peanuts at him. (Des Bieler)
2. Bananas were found hanging from string “in the shape of nooses” at three locations on the campus of American University in Washington in what the school described as a “racist incident” that is under investigation. The fruit had been “marked with the letters AKA.” Those are the letters of the sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha, whose membership is predominantly African American. (Sarah Larimer)
3. Administrators at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, canceled classes Monday to meet with students following a weekend of protests against hate speech on campus. Hundreds of students at the bucolic liberal arts school staged a peaceful protest inside a student union building after racist expressions against classmates. The latest (likely this is all from a single perpetrator) came when a black student reported having found a note on the windshield of her car that read: “I am so glad that you are leaving soon. One less n‑‑‑‑‑ that this school has to deal with. You have spoken up too much. You will change nothing. Shut up or I will shut you up.” (Lindsey Bever)
IMMIGRATING TO TRUMP'S AMERICA:
-- “Despite Trump, millions hope to win what could be the last U.S. green-card lottery,” by Michael E. Miller: “On Tuesday, more than 14 million people around the world … will begin checking computers and smartphones in one of the strangest rituals of the U.S. immigration system. When the clock strikes noon in the nation’s capital, they will be able to visit a State Department website, enter their names, years of birth and 16-digit identification numbers. Then they will press ‘submit’ to learn whether they have won one of the world’s most coveted contests: the U.S. green-card lottery. Each year, the Diversity Visa Lottery, as it is officially known, provides up to 55,000 randomly selected foreigners — fewer than 1 percent of those who enter the drawing — with permanent residency in the U.S. In the eyes of its supporters, the lottery provides the United States with positive public relations, countering the perception that the country no longer lives up to the ideals symbolized by the Statue of Liberty. For past winners and current applicants, the lottery is something simpler: a golden ticket that not even the United States’s current political turmoil can tarnish."
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Clean up on aisle 1865:
President Andrew Jackson, who died 16 years before the Civil War started, saw it coming and was angry. Would never have let it happen!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 2, 2017
Well, someone has been asking the question of every imminent U.S. citizen:
Incidentally, “Why was there the Civil War?” is also one of the questions on the U.S. citizenship test. pic.twitter.com/wJosbOgJLB— Ryan Teague Beckwith (@ryanbeckwith) May 1, 2017
Twitter jokes abounded:
tell me how Andrew Jackson could have stopped this. I'll wait. pic.twitter.com/wRRSehrESD— Tim Murphy (@timothypmurphy) May 1, 2017
From this congressman:
I asked a top scholar on slavery and the Civil War about Trump's Jackson comments. His answer: "God help us." https://t.co/0InLU6bVVz— Tim Murphy (@timothypmurphy) May 1, 2017
President Trump doesn't understand why there was a Civil War.— Rep. Barbara Lee (@RepBarbaraLee) May 1, 2017
It's because my ancestors and millions of others were enslaved. https://t.co/dFjpbp1pUy
POTUS says that Andrew Jackson (who died in 1845) "was really angry" about the Civil War. Paging the Department of Education... https://t.co/eNrkcvTmbj— Senator Tim Kaine (@timkaine) May 1, 2017
So the guy whose legacy is stained by the Trail of Tears would have found a way around the Civil War?— Karen Tumulty (@ktumulty) May 1, 2017
From this MSNBC host:
When you hop onto Twitter to see what's going on and discover that Donald Trump thinks Andrew Jackson was alive for the Civil War... pic.twitter.com/BpdDLMStvw— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) May 1, 2017
Obviously, the main cause of the Civil War was economic anxiety.— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) May 1, 2017
This former Ted Cruz adviser is not impressed with one-party GOP rule:
WH in chaos. Congress not passing bills. Fox News imploding. Heritage in shatters. Are we having fun yet? When does it get good???— Amanda Carpenter (@amandacarpenter) May 1, 2017
Six years ago....
6 yrs ago tonight Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice" was interrupted in progress by a breaking news report on bin Laden https://t.co/aouCRAzLif— Chris Donovan (@chrisdonovan) May 1, 2017
Lawmakers celebrated immigrant rights day:
Mitch McConnell got a nice feather in his cap for his 2020 reelection campaign:
Bradley Whitford, who played Josh Lyman on "The West Wing," posts this picture from the Grand Canyon:
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
-- New York Times, “Sent to Prison by a Software Program’s Secret Algorithms,” by Adam Liptak: “Using artificial intelligence in judicial decisions sounds like science fiction, but it’s already happened in Wisconsin.”
-- The Atlantic, “The Fight for Control of the Heritage Foundation,” by Rosie Gray and McKay Coppins: “The drama over the attempt to remove the president of the Heritage Foundation, Jim DeMint, is partly classic Washington power politics. But it also reflects tensions over the organization’s relationship with the Trump administration and with Trumpist ideology. DeMint … is widely expected to be ousted soon—either by resigning, or being voted out by the board, which is meeting on Tuesday. Multiple people close to the situation called DeMint's ouster a ‘coup’ … [driven by Heritage Action CEO] Mike Needham. But nowadays, it’s difficult for a conflict like this on the right to unfold outside the context of ideological friction over [Trump and his nationalist agenda. To the Trump-averse elements on the board, Needham has pointed to DeMint's growing coziness with the new administration as evidence that the think tank, a beacon of movement conservatism, needs a new steward. At the same time, Needham has been telling pro-Trump board members like Rebekah Mercer that Heritage needs a leader who will follow the president's lead—even going so far as to float [Steve Bannon], a key Mercer ally, as a potential future president …
“One prominent conservative senator, worried about Heritage's new direction, is cutting ties with the think tank for the foreseeable future, according to an aide. Another Senate source said Heritage staff are no longer welcome at Senate Steering Committee meetings or in several members’ offices as a result of DeMint’s ouster. Amid the upheaval, Heritage abruptly cancelled Monday's installment of a weekly meeting between conservative Congressional aides and Heritage staffers—a sign that the internal turmoil is already producing uncertainty.”
HOT ON THE LEFT:
“Kansas City Archdiocese boots Girl Scouts, calls group reflective of ‘troubling trends,’” from Samantha Schmidt: “Any current or former Girl Scout can recall the first words of the group’s promise: ‘On my honor, I will try to serve God and my country.’ God, faith and spirituality have been ingrained in the backbone and history of the secular organization ….For the better part of the past decade, however, the Catholic Church has eyed the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. suspiciously, claiming the organization is too close to groups such as Planned Parenthood that are in conflict with the faith’s views on abortion and the family. In the latest instance, the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas is ending its relationship with the Girl Scouts and transitioning its support to a Christian-based scouting group, saying the Girl Scouts’ programs and materials are ‘reflective of many of the troubling trends in our secular culture,’ and that the organization is ‘no longer a compatible partner in helping us form young women with the virtues and values of the Gospel.’”
HOT ON THE RIGHT:
“Immigrant Workers Stunned To Be Fired After Skipping Work For Protest,” from the Daily Caller: “More than 20 immigrant workers in Michigan were stunned to find themselves out of a job after they skipped work to attend a “Day Without Immigrants” rally in February. The former employees of Detroit-area auto parts maker EZ Industrial Solutions LLC say they were wrongfully fired, despite warnings from company management that there would be repercussions for missing work without permission. They are now taking their case to federal labor regulators, the Detroit Free Press reported. In a charge filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the immigrant workers from Mexico and Central America claim EZ Industrial Solutions unjustly fired them for taking part in a political protest. EZ Industrial Solutions says it acted within the law when it fired the workers. ‘The law is quite clear that employees can’t just not show up to work when they’re expected, and also that they are not free to participate in political, non-work related protests during their work day without consequences,’” a spokesman said.
At the White House: Trump will participate in the departure ceremony for Lt. Col. Wesley Spurlock, USAF, and in the U.S. Air Force Academy Commander-in-Chief trophy presentation. In the afternoon, Trump and Putin will speak by phone. Later, Trump will meet with National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster.
Pence will participate in the U.S. Air Force Academy Commander-in-Chief trophy presentation before traveling to the Capitol to participate in the Senate Republican Policy Luncheon and hold a series of meetings with lawmakers. Later in the day, Pence will participate in an Israel Independence Day Commemoration event.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross recalled the scene at Mar-a-Lago on April 6 when Trump’s summit with the Chinese president was interrupted by the strike on Syria: “Just as dessert was being served, the president explained to Mr. Xi he had something he wanted to tell him, which was the launching of 59 missiles into Syria. It was in lieu of after-dinner entertainment.” As the crowd laughed, Ross added: “The thing was, it didn’t cost the president anything to have that entertainment.” (Variety Magazine)
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- Another sunny, warm – but super windy – day ahead. Today’s Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Some early morning clouds give way to partly to mostly sunny skies. Temperatures advance to the more comfortable middle to upper 70s by the afternoon, especially with much lower humidity levels. The one issue preventing a Nice Day stamp is a brisk breeze that runs at 15 to 20 mph with higher gusts mainly from the southwest and west.”
-- The federal spending bill maintains full funding for DC’s Metro system – a positive sign for the beleaguered transit agency as it seeks continued support to update its aging infrastructure. Faiz Siddiqui reports: “The bill authorizes $150 million in grant funding through the end of September, but it’s unclear whether Congress will approve funding for the remainder of the 10-year, $1.5 billion federal program — or renew it after the two remaining years of payments. Congressional Republicans have indicated they want to see significant changes from Metro, including labor concessions, before renewing it.”
-- Members of the Alexandria City Council signaled they are planning to raise the local property tax rate by 5.7 cents later this week – attempting to address “years” of overcrowded schools, aging buildings in the area, and a beleaguered metro system whose bill continues to grow. Officials say the proposal will cost the average Alexandria homeowner an extra $356 annually in property taxes. (Patricia Sullivan)
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Jimmy Kimmel talks about his son's heart disease in an emotional appeal for health care:
Stephen Colbert takes on Trump's civil war questions:
Are these truck drivers' jobs in jeopardy with NAFTA on the hot seat?
See Trump cut off Jon Dickerson in an interview:
! Watch this, even if you don't speak French: Le Pen plagiarizing verbatim a mid-April speech from Francois Fillon. pic.twitter.com/JHo5YODxHS— Taniel (@Taniel) May 1, 2017
Get your #Metgala on: