with Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve

With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve.

THE BIG IDEA: Most stories about kids these days provide reasons to feel pessimistic about the next generation. They’re addicted to video games. They’re taking the Tide pod challenge. They don’t appreciate the importance of the First Amendment or capitalism. They’re self-centered, entitled and need constant validation.

But what’s happened since the Valentine’s Day rampage in Florida forcefully challenges this caricature. As is so often the case, the worst of humanity also brings out its best.

Madison Geller, 17, and Angelyse Perez, 18, remember JROTC cadets who died after a gunman opened fire at Marjory Sonteman Douglas High School on Feb. 14. (Elyse Samuels, Whitney Shefte, Alice Li/The Washington Post)

-- “I am the future of the United States of America” is part of the creed that members of the Junior ROTC recite. More than 300,000 students across 1,700 schools participate in the national program, which is designed to prepare teenagers for military service. The chapter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School had 275 cadets. Three were among the 17 murdered in Parkland last Wednesday.

Peter Wang, 15, was killed after holding a door open so his classmates could escape. His dream was to attend West Point, then serve in the Army. He died wearing his JROTC uniform. Now his little brothers are wondering what happened, especially 5-year-old Alex. “He keeps asking, ‘When will Peter be home?’” family friend Jesse Pan told Lori Rozsa. Members of the military community have organized online to attend his funeral later today in full regalia.

Alleged shooter Nikolas Cruz, 19, had once been a member of the same JROTC chapter. To blend in, authorities say he wore a polo shirt from the group when he arrived at his old school with an assault-style rifle in a black bag. “We all have those shirts,” said Angelyse Perez, an 18-year-old senior and a company commander. “We’re never wearing them again. We’re going to destroy them all.”

Parkland shooting survivor Emma Gonzalez called for tougher gun laws during a rally in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Feb. 17. (Reuters)

-- To a vastly greater degree than after any previous school shooting, several of the surviving students emerged over the long weekend to loudly call for stricter gun laws and decry elected officials for failing to keep them safe. They’ve flooded social media, appeared on Sunday shows and written op-eds for national newspapers. They are even organizing a gun-control march in Washington and other cities on March 24.

Emma Gonzalez, 18, delivered a fiery speech at a rally on Saturday that quickly went viral. “We are going to be the kids you read about in textbooks,” she said. “Not because we’re going to be another statistic about mass shooting in America … [but because] we are going to be the last mass shooting.”

David Hogg survived the Florida shooting and is demanding that Congress take action to stop it from happening again. (Whitney Shefte, Jorge Ribas/The Washington Post)

David Hogg, 17, filmed and interviewed his classmates while they were hiding in a closet from the shooter last week. He told reporters that he decided to record their testimonies because, if he died that day, he wanted to show the world that, “Blood was being spilled on the floors of American classrooms.”

“We’ve seen a government shutdown, we’ve seen tax reform, but nothing to save our children’s lives,” Hogg said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “Are you kidding me? You think now is the time to focus on the past and not the future to prevent the deaths of thousands of other children? You sicken me.”

-- Consider this staggering statistic: Emma and David are among a group of more than 150,000 students across at least 170 primary or secondary schools who have experienced a shooting on their campus since the killings at Colorado’s Columbine High School in 1999, according to a tabulation by John Woodrow Cox and Steven Rich.

High school students from in and around Washington, D.C., staged a die-in in front of the White House to protest against gun violence in schools. (Reuters)

-- Inspired by the outpouring in Parkland, two young women at the Potomac School in McLean, Va., created a Facebook group called Teens for Gun Reform and organized a “lie-in” at the White House yesterday. Seventeen high school students lay down for three minutes to represent the lives lost during the Valentine’s Day rampage, as several hundred protesters gathered around them. “This could be a breaking point,” organizer Whitney Bowen, 16, told Rachel Chason. “We’re still just 16, but at least we’re old enough to have our voices be heard. … We’re not 18 yet so we can’t vote, but we have an advantage living in D.C. and as teenagers with access to social media. I don’t want to be known as a member of the mass shooting generation. It’s horrible and it’s devastating and it’s not the legacy I want to leave.”

-- Regardless of how you feel about gun control, all these young people have shown themselves to be authentic, articulate and impressive while in the spotlight after such a traumatizing event. Philip Bump outlines eight reasons this cohort might be so outspoken: They are a post-Columbine generation that grew up with these mass casualty events as a sort of new normal. They are now old enough to speak out. They are at an age at which political awareness blooms. They’re not cynical yet. They live in a world in which the voice of the individual is powerful because of social media. Young people are less likely to own guns. It’s a moment when political disruption seems more possible than ever. And they have a president who they know uses Twitter and watches cable news.

The millennial generation is now the largest, most ethnically diverse generation in American history. (Daron Taylor/The Washington Post)

-- Where the energy goes from here and whether the survivors have staying power as a political force to be reckoned with is unclear. Is this the beginning of a sea change or just the venting of intense emotion? To answer that question, you must understand that millennials are by no means a monolith.

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll, conducted after the shooting and released this morning, shows that most Americans continue to say these incidents are more reflective of problems identifying and addressing mental health issues than inadequate gun laws. A 77 percent majority says Congress is not doing enough to prevent mass shootings and 62 percent say the same of Trump. At least half feel “strongly” that Congress and the president have not taken adequate action. Interestingly, the 18-to-29-year-old respondents in the cross tabs are not meaningfully different from other age groups on this and other questions.

Overall, 77 percent of Americans said they think more effective mental health screening and treatment could have prevented the shooting — compared to 58 percent who said stricter gun laws could have prevented it. Among 18-to-29-year-olds, it was 79 percent and 60 percent.

The poll shows that there has not been a spike in support for banning assault weapons compared with two years ago, with a partisan divide that is as stark as ever. Overall, 50 percent support a nationwide ban on the sale of assault weapons. Among 18-to-29-year-olds, it’s 48 percent — which is within the margin of error. (Scott Clement and Emily Guskin have a detailed rundown here.)

-- To be sure, not everyone in Parkland is advocating for new gun laws either. Chicago Cubs all-star Anthony Rizzo, 28, is an alumnus of Douglas High School. His agent’s niece and the football coach his brother played under were among the dead. He flew home to speak at a candlelight vigil and returned to spring training in Arizona yesterday. “Rizzo chose his words carefully Monday, never once using the words ‘gun control’ or even ‘guns’ — except to clarify to a questioner determined to go down that road that he hadn’t spoken them at all, a clarification he made with firm conviction,” Dave Sheinin reports from the Cubs locker room in Mesa.

“To be clear, I did not say the word ‘gun’ once … Anyone out there who wrote [that] I called for gun control I think is very irresponsible,” Rizzo told reporters. “I don’t know what needs to be done. I don’t know enough about it. I know there’s a lot of shootings. I know they’re done with a specific make [of semiautomatic rifle]. But I don’t know what needs to be done. … It’s hard enough to hit a baseball. It’s [impossible] to be a baseball player and a politician at the same time.”

His sensitivity and caution offer a reminder that not all young people are on the same page. Yet they all yearn for change. And that could be a powerful force. “You just hope that somewhere up the line of command, people are thinking the same things that a lot of innocent kids are thinking: Why? Why? Why?” Rizzo said. “I think it’s great for the kids to go out and show that they have a voice. They just went through the scariest time of their life, that no one should ever have to go through. For them to be outspoken about it [shows] they’re not just going to sit back and be another statistic.”

-- Bottom line: Members of the next generation will be forced to clean up many of the messes being left by the leaders of today, and there are signs from Florida that they’ll be up to the task.

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-- The American siblings Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani took bronze in the Olympic ice dancing competition. Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir won the gold medal, while Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France took silver. The Shibutanis edged out two other American teams — Madison Chock and Evan Bates, as well as Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue — to make it to the podium. (Chelsea Janes)

-- The U.S. team now has 12 Olympic medals, including five gold medals, putting it fifth in the rankings

In July 2017, a federal judge blocked enforcement of President Trump's three-month-old directive barring transgender troops from serving in the military. (Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)


  1. The Pentagon is slated this week to announce its new policy on transgender troops. It's unclear, however, what the decision will be following months of legal battles after Trump called for a ban on transgender individuals serving in the military, which was later prevented by the courts and stalled by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. (USA Today)
  2. The Trump administration may need to bend national security rules to allow a Westinghouse-led consortium to build nuclear reactors along the Persian Gulf. Saudi Arabia will announce next month the finalists for the multibillion dollar contracts, which could also go to Russian or Chinese companies. (Steven Mufson)
  3. Marion Marechal-Le Pen, niece of far-right French nationalist Marine Le Pen, will speak at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference. The younger Le Pen announced she was leaving politics last year for “personal and political reasons,” but said she was “not giving up the political fight forever.” Trump and Mike Pence will also address the confab. (Daily Beast)
  4. Former DHS secretary Tom Ridge says he is “lucky to be alive” after suffering a sudden heart attack during a Republican Governor's Association gathering last fall. The otherwise-healthy 72-year-old says he barely made it to a hotel phone before going into cardiac arrest and — as he would later be told — flatlining three times. “I woke up six days later,” Ridge said, noting that only about 5 percent of people who suffer such an attack survive it. (Dan Balz)
  5. An Uber Eats driver in Atlanta was charged with shooting and killing one of his customers shortly after delivering his food. An attorney for the driver said there was an “argument” before the shooting, and that his client was acting in self-defense. (Lindsey Bever)
  6. A new Google algorithm can predict whether an individual has high blood pressure or increased risk of a heart attack simply by scanning their eyes. Researchers say the approach needs to be broadly validated before it can be used but could offer a quick and easy way for individuals to screen themselves before consulting a physician. (Drew Harwell and Carolyn Y. Johnson)
  7. A New York woman who was captured on video berating and threatening the job of a Delta flight attendant has been placed on leave after footage of the confrontation went viral. The woman, who said she worked for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, can be heard in the video complaining about her proximity to a crying baby. The mother who filmed the video says she does not regret sharing it but feels badly it affected the woman’s job. (CBS News)
  8. KFC closed more than half of its 900 outlets in the U.K. after they ran out of chicken. On Twitter, the company blamed the supply disruption on “operational issues” due to a new delivery contract. “The chicken crossed the road, just not to our restaurants,” KFC said. (BBC)
  9. Scientists are tracking a dwindling storm on Neptune for the first time. The observations from the Hubble Space Telescope have revealed surprising patterns in how such storms die out. (Fox News)
  10. “Black Panther” had the fifth-biggest opening weekend ever. The Disney/Marvel movie grossed $201.7 million, giving it the biggest opening ever for a stand-alone film. (Michael Cavna)
Nikolas Cruz, the former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who allegedly killed 17 people, attended a status hearing in Fort Lauderdale Feb. 19. (Reuters)


-- A law enforcement source said that alleged Parkland gunman Nikolas Cruz had obtained at least 10 guns, all of them rifles, CNN’s Eliott C. McLaughlin and Madison Park report. “Investigators are trying to track the purchases, which Cruz appears to have made in the past year or so[.] CNN obtained a 2016 report from the Florida Department of Children and Families that said Cruz engaged in self-destructive behavior after a breakup with a girlfriend. DCF spoke with the teen's now-deceased mother, Lynda Cruz, who told them he suffered from depression, ADHD and autism. After the breakup, she said, he began cutting his arms and posting it to Snapchat. Previously, Cruz had put a Nazi symbol on his backpack, and ‘had hate signs on a book bag, stating, 'I hate n*****s,' according to the report. The DCF report ultimately found that the ‘final level of risk is low’ because Cruz was residing with his mother, receiving in-home mental health services and attending school.” According to the public defender’s office, Cruz is willing to plead guilty to charges of premeditated murder to avoid the death penalty.

-- Cruz patronized Sunrise Tactical Supply, a family-run gun shop, to purchase his AR-15 last February. According to lawyer Douglas Rudman, who is representing store owners Michael and Lisa Morrison, Cruz had passed their “eyeball test” and did not present any red flags at the time. The New Yorker’s Charles Bethea reports: “Rudman also noted that the Morrisons had, in the past, refused to sell to would-be gun buyers based upon the appearance of mental instability. … He added that the Morrisons would, in the future, ‘appreciate more information, to allow greater discretion about who should be able to buy a gun.’ Rudman was hesitant to use the word ‘regulations,’ though that seemed to be what his clients … were open to.”

-- A different kind of fallout: Suspected Russian bot accounts seized on the gun control debate starting an hour after the shooting occurred, report the New York Times’s Sheera Frenkel and Daisuke Wakabayashi. “The accounts addressed the news with the speed of a cable news network. Some adopted the hashtag #guncontrolnow. Others used #gunreformnow and #Parklandshooting. Earlier on Wednesday, before the mass shooting ... many of those accounts had been focused on the investigation by [special counsel Robert Mueller] into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. … The bots’ behavior follows a pattern, [one expert said]. The bots target a contentious issue like race relations or guns. They stir the pot, often animating both sides and creating public doubt in institutions like the police or media.”

Politicians and others discussed gun control on Feb. 18, following a school shooting in Florida that left 17 dead. (Patrick Martin/The Washington Post)


-- Trump signaled support for one piece of gun-control legislation proposed in the Senate. Josh Dawsey reports: “’The president is supportive of efforts to improve the federal background check system,’ [Sarah Huckabee Sanders] wrote in a statement Monday morning. Sanders said the president spoke to Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) on Friday to express support for the bill Cornyn has introduced with Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.). … The statement did not address how the president would react to more aggressive gun control measures.”

“The senators’ bill is narrow in focus, reinforcing the requirement that federal agencies report all criminal infractions to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and creating financial incentives for states to do so, as well. Federal agencies are required to report various felonies, indictments and other crimes … into the federal database, but Congress has no power to compel states to do the same. The Murphy-Cornyn legislation would offer direct financial incentives, as well as favorable future access to other federal assistance programs, to states that report infractions into the system.”

-- Gun violence restraining-order laws are also attracting some conservative backers. Katie Zezima reports: “Five states — California, Washington, Oregon, Indiana and Connecticut — have passed gun violence restraining-order laws, which allow firearms to temporarily be taken away from people whom a judge deems a threat to themselves or others. Federally, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-Calif.) introduced legislation last year urging states to adopt such laws. At least 18 states, including Florida, have similar bills pending in their legislatures.”

-- A driver in Trump’s motorcade was removed from his duties after the Secret Service found a gun in his bag outside Mar-a-Lago. Josh Dawsey reports: “The driver, who could not be immediately identified, was briefly detained and questioned by the Secret Service a little after 8 a.m., just before Trump headed to the golf course for much of the day. He was driving one of three vans for members of the news media and had been in the presidential motorcade all weekend.”

 -- A Dallas city council member has asked the NRA to find a new home for its annual meeting this May. The Dallas Morning News’s Dana Branham and Tristan Hallman report: “In a written statement, [Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway] said that it's ‘time to put the heat on the NRA.’ He followed up his written comments with a news conference outside City Hall in which he decried high-powered civilian-owned weapons and gun violence in Dallas, referencing both the 1963 Kennedy assassination and the July 7, 2016, ambush on police. Caraway said asking the NRA to reconsider was ‘a tough call’ but would put the city's residents first. He said the NRA's political positions would lead to demonstrations that Dallas would be forced to handle and that the organization needs to ‘come to the table’ and be part of a solution.”

-- The NRA appears to be downplaying an appearance by its CEO Wayne LaPierre at CPAC. The Guardian’s Lois Beckett reports: “LaPierre’s name is nowhere to be found on the official agenda for CPAC[.] … An NRA spokesman said that the firebrand executive vice-president and CEO had not cancelled his speech, but that he did not know when he would be speaking.”

-- “To beat the NRA at its own game, the gun control movement needs to better understand how the NRA has built an army of single-issue voters,” Bill Scher writes in Politico Magazine. “NRATV is a new piece of the puzzle, having been launched only in late 2016. But it’s a window into the culture that the NRA has nurtured for decades. Every minute, the network pumps out a message that can be delivered regardless of external events: Liberal elites want to take away your guns and freedom. … Like the tobacco industry, the NRA has been cultivating an image of guns as a source of freedom and cool, with the extra value of protection from grievous harm.”

Correction: An earlier version of this newsletter misstated Caraway’s position. Caraway is a member of the Dallas city council and mayor pro tem. He served as acting mayor from Feb.-June 2011.


-- For some inside Trump’s White House, Parkland offered a “reprieve” from a near-constant stream of scandals gripping the administration in recent weeks. Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker report: “While the White House mourned the loss of life in Parkland, Fla., some aides privately acknowledged that the tragedy offered a breather from the political storm. A tentative plan for [John Kelly] to address the news media from the briefing room Wednesday — where he would have faced intense scrutiny [over the Rob Porter allegations] — was scuttled. One White House official said the shooting forced the White House to focus on critical and serious issues …  rather than getting bogged down in what they view as more trivial West Wing drama.

Wednesday’s attack also halted intense speculation that Kelly’s job was at risk, and he was among those present during Trump’s trip to Mar-a-Lago this weekend. “[The shooting] stabilized Kelly’s standing internally, officials said, shifting the media glare away from him and giving [him] a chance to perform his job in helping to coordinate the federal response. Although Trump remains frustrated and at times angry with his chief of staff, Kelly’s presence on the weekend trip … was interpreted as an indication that he was on firmer ground with his boss.”

-- Paul Farhi delves into how the Porter story first broke: “It’s not clear who nudged reporters to look into Porter, who had previously kept a low public profile, or why the story was ultimately broken by DailyMail.com — the tabloidy American offshoot of the British newspaper that’s often been friendly to President Trump — and the Intercept, a website co-founded by journalist Glenn Greenwald that specializes in hard-hitting reporting about national affairs. But two weeks later, what began as gossip has evolved into a story about national security that continues to roil the White House, with officials offering conflicting accounts about what they knew and when. …

“And yet the Porter story appears to have been hiding in plain sight for months. The keys to cracking it were an obscure blog essay and an Instagram post by Jennie Willoughby, Porter’s second ex-wife, describing his mistreatment of her. She posted them April 24, using her name though not his. But ‘I had no followers,’ Willoughby said in an interview last week. ‘No one knew about this blog.’ She was aware of two readers, though: Porter, who asked her to take down the essay several times last year (she refused), and Porter’s recent ex-girlfriend, who Willoughby says contacted her and Porter’s first ex-wife about her own troubled relationship with Porter. Journalists didn’t enter the picture until late January, when reporters at the Intercept began pursuing a tip about Porter’s history of domestic abuse.”

-- Porter’s sterling resume may have helped to obscure the allegations against him. The New York Times’s Katie Rogers writes: “Described as charismatic, intense and privileged, Mr. Porter, the son of Roger B. Porter, a Harvard professor and a former domestic policy adviser to President George Bush, spent years building on his pedigree. He grew up Mormon in a family with close ties to the elite Mormon enclave of Belmont, Mass., collected degrees from Harvard and Oxford University and amassed prestigious job titles. Though many described him as composed and calm, others in his ultracompetitive workplaces described him as tightly wound, revealing occasional glimpses of how angry he could become, particularly if anyone got in his way. A former White House official said the temper flare-ups left him with the sense that Mr. Porter was more volatile and troubled than his clean-cut image let on.”

-- Over the weekend, Trump publicly rebuked national security adviser H.R. McMaster, whom the president considered ousting late last year. From Politico’s Eliana Johnson: “For a few weeks in late November, as speculation over whether [Trump] would fire his secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, reached a fever pitch, Trump and [John Kelly] also considered pushing out [McMaster]. … [McMaster] has never quite clicked with the president, according to six senior White House officials. He is disciplined and focused, and has frequently clashed with Trump, who loves small talk and meanders from one subject to another. … Trump and a small circle of senior aides involved in the conversation about McMaster's fate, including Kelly, ultimately decided to keep McMaster in place. Among their reasons for doing so: Removing him would have launched them on a search for the president’s third national security adviser in a year, and Trump and Kelly could not agree on a replacement[.]”

 -- Donald Trump Jr. is slated to give a foreign policy speech in India this week while on an “unofficial” trip to promote the Trump Organization’s real estate projects. Annie Gowen reports: “Beginning Tuesday, Trump Jr. will have a full schedule of meet-and-greets with investors and business leaders throughout India … Indian newspapers have been running full-page, glossy advertisements hyping his arrival and the latest Trump Tower project under the headline: ‘Trump is here — Are You Invited?’ The ads also solicited home buyers to plunk down a booking fee (about $38,000) to ‘join Mr. Donald Trump Jr. for a conversation and dinner.’ During the visit, [Trump Jr.] … will take a break from his private promotional tour to give an address on ‘Reshaping Indo-Pacific Ties: The New Era of Cooperation’ at a global business summit [with Prime Minister Narendra Modi]. News that the Trump Organization would be offering buyers in the Trump Tower the chance to meet the president’s son sparked criticism of potential conflicts of interest …”


-- Mueller’s investigation into Jared Kushner has grown to include Kushner’s efforts during the presidential transition to secure foreign financiers for his family company. CNN’s Shimon Prokupecz, Kara Scannell and Gloria Borger report: “This is the first indication that [Robert] Mueller is exploring Kushner's discussions with potential non-Russian foreign investors, including in China. US officials briefed on the probe had [said in May] that points of focus related to Kushner … included the [campaign's] 2016 data analytics operation, his relationship with [Michael Flynn], and Kushner's own contacts with Russians. Mueller's investigators have been asking questions, including during interviews in January and February, about Kushner's conversations during the transition to shore up financing for 666 Fifth Avenue, a Kushner Companies-backed New York City office building reeling from financial troubles.”

-- Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is under increasing pressure to cooperate with Mueller’s team following reports that his top deputy, Rick Gates, has agreed to testify against him in exchange for leniency. The Guardian’s Stephanie Kirchgaessner reports: “The reports of Gates’ possible cooperation come after prosecutors stated in court on Friday that they had unearthed additional evidence of criminal activity by Manafort. Experts say any deal with Gates would only be struck if investigators were confident he had valuable testimony to offer on a more senior figure in their ongoing inquiry. The two developments — the alleged additional evidence of wrongdoing and Gates’s possible testimony — could give Mueller and his team additional ammunition to force Manafort to cooperate in their inquiry ... "

-- Meanwhile, Trump’s supporters are urging him to pardon former campaign aides swept up in Mueller’s probe. Politico’s Darren Samuelsohn reports: “So far, the talk of pardons has mostly centered around Flynn, whose clemency Trump did not rule out in a brief mid-December exchange with reporters. ‘I don’t want to talk about pardons with Michael Flynn yet. We’ll see what happens,’ Trump said. That ‘yet’ was music to the ears of Flynn’s supporters and family members[:] During a video interview with the prominent alt-right activist Jack Posobiec at the Trump International Hotel ... last week, Flynn’s outspoken adult son, Michael Flynn Jr., encouraged viewers to promote online messages calling for his father’s exoneration and pardon. ‘Just keep pushing out those hashtags, the ‘#ClearFlynnNow’ and the ‘#PardonFlynnNow,’ Flynn Jr., said.” Trump’s legal team has insisted publicly that it’s “premature” to discuss the possibility of pardons, with White House counsel Ty Cobb telling reporters Friday there have been “no pardon discussions at the White House.”

-- The New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin explores Trump’s decision to hold the 2013 Miss Universe connection in Moscow – and how it may have also helped win him the presidency: “Trump has long viewed his businesses as mutually reinforcing, with all the products — from hotels to steak, vodka to golf resorts — complementing one another. ... Today, the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow looks like a harbinger of the Trump campaign and Presidency, featuring some of the same themes and characters. Miss Universe represents a paradigmatic example of Trump’s business style in action — the exaggerations that teeter into lies, the willingness to embrace dubious partners, the hunger for glamour and recognition.”

-- ICYMI: “Inside the Russian troll factory,” by the New York Times’s Neil MacFarquhar: “At first, new recruits to the Internet Research Agency, the notorious Russian troll factory, were thrilled by the better-than-average salaries they earned simply for posting on the internet. But one says he eventually realized that the work hid a darker reality: both they and their audience were meant to turn into zombies. They worked in 12-hour shifts, either day or night, and the assigned topics popped up in their email: [Vladimir Putin, or President Obama], … the war in Syria; Russian opposition figures … The key words and subject line were always assigned. The English speakers discussed the best time to post commentary to attract an American audience … and bragged about creating thousands of fake social media accounts.”

-- Former Defense Secretary Ash Carter told Politico magazine's Susan B. Glasser that both the Obama and Trump administrations didn't respond strongly enough to Russia’s election interference: “Days after U.S. intelligence chiefs testified that Russian hacking efforts directed at U.S. politics are ongoing, I asked Carter about the American response. Has the U.S. done enough? ‘Obviously not,’ Carter responded, ‘because they’re still at it. It hasn’t changed the behavior of Vladimir Putin, and that means neither the Obama administration nor the Trump administration has done enough.’”


-- Rep. Thomas Rooney (Fla.) became the 28th Republican congressman to announce he would retire rather than seek reelection in November. From Paul Kane: “Rooney, 47, was considered a rising star among Florida Republicans, but he never hid his frustration with the gridlock that gripped Congress for most of his decade in office. … He said that he looked forward to ‘serving Florida again in the future in a different capacity.’ Originally a coastal district around Palm Beach, Rooney’s district now stretches across Florida toward Tampa and is home to some of the state’s more conservative terrain. He and President Trump won the district in 2016 with about 62 percent.”

-- Pennsylvania's Supreme Court has redrawn its congressional district map to more closely reflect the partisan composition of the state, overturning the GOP gerrymander governing the past three congressional elections. Christopher Ingraham reports: “The new map … all but [ensures] that Democrats will pick up several new U.S. House seats in November. It's also more compact than Republicans' original map, and it splits fewer counties and municipal areas — a key concern of the court as it sought to ensure voters' ability to participate in ‘free and equal’ elections.”

-- A majority of Americans now approve of the GOP tax plan, buoying Republicans’ hopes for the midterms. The New York Times’s Ben Casselman and Jim Tankersley report: “The growing public support for the law coincides with an eroding Democratic lead when voters are asked which party they would like to see control Congress. And it follows an aggressive effort by Republicans, backed by millions of dollars of advertising from conservative groups, to persuade voters of the law’s benefits. That campaign has rallied support from Republicans, in particular. But in contrast with many other issues — including Mr. Trump’s job approval rating — it also appears to be winning over some Democrats. Support for the law remains low among Democrats, but it has doubled over the past two months and is twice as strong as their approval of Mr. Trump today.”

-- Ellen McCarthy explores how anger is fueling many campaigns this year, particularly among female candidates: “When Amy McGrath was 12, her congressman told her she couldn’t fly combat missions. Naturally, she grew up to do just that and is running for Congress in Kentucky. In 2013, Tippi McCullough married her longtime partner, Barb, and was forced to resign from her teaching job because she’s gay. Now she’s campaigning for the Arkansas House of Representatives. And, of course, there are the legions of women running for office across the country in the wake of Hillary Clinton’s loss, Donald Trump’s election, the Women’s March and the #MeToo movement. When it comes to the forces that motivate potential politicians, anger is apparently second only to ambition.”


-- Eli Saslow profiles Rachel Crooks, one of the 19 women who have accused Trump of sexual misconduct and who is now a candidate for the Ohio House: “‘It all happened at Trump Tower,’ she said. ‘I had just moved to New York, and I was working as a secretary for another company in the building. That’s where he forced himself on me.’ Crooks, 35, had been publicly reliving this story for much of the past two years, ever since she first described it in an email to the New York Times several months before the 2016 election. ‘I don’t know if people will really care about this or if this will matter at all,’ she had written then[.] … In early February, she launched a campaign to become a Democratic state representative in Ohio, in part so she could share her story more widely with voters across the state. And yet, after dozens of retellings, she still wasn’t sure: Did people really care? Did it matter at all?”

-- Jenna Johnson spoke to women voters in Missouri about Trump’s thoughts on sexual misconduct and domestic violence: “When women living in the Kansas City suburbs discuss President Trump’s comments on issues such as domestic violence and sexual abuse, they keep using the same word: frustrating. … Although Missouri has become a reliably red state, Democrats are hopeful that the frustration felt by many women here — especially moderates living in the suburbs of Kansas City and St. Louis — will influence the way they vote in the midterm elections this fall, especially with Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) facing a tough reelection contest in a state that Trump won by more than 18 percentage points.”

-- Cristina Garcia, the California assemblywoman and outspoken advocate of #MeToo, is under investigation for sexually harassing staffers — one of whom says he was fired after refusing her request to play a game of “spin the bottle.” Kristine Phillips reports: “David John Kernick, a former field representative for Garcia, said that the Democratic lawmaker … approached him after a fundraiser at a whiskey bar in 2014 and suggested that they play spin the bottle in her hotel room ... Kernick said he was written up for insubordination after he questioned the appropriateness of Garcia’s suggestion and was fired two days later. Kernick’s complaint is the latest allegation of sexual misconduct against Garcia, who has taken a voluntary unpaid leave. Another former staffer, Daniel Fierro, [said] Garcia approached him after an assembly softball game in 2014, squeezed his buttocks and tried to touch his crotch. He said Garcia was visibly intoxicated.”


Capping off a weekend flurry of tweets, Trump endorsed Mitt Romney's Senate bid:

A flashback to Romney's 2016 thoughts on Trump:

What a difference two years make:

Meanwhile, a conservative Twitter account slammed CPAC for not including Romney:

The chair of the American Conservative Union defended the choice and threw a jab at Romney:

Trump also once again placed the blame on Obama for failing to act against Russia for its election meddling:

A House Democrat fired back at Trump:

Some additional context from a CNBC correspondent:

Trump's breakneck tweeting speed this weekend baffled one Post reporter:

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) analyzed the state of play on gun control:

The gun-control group Moms Demand Action has experienced an explosion in interest:

Trump's hometown paper shamed him for his weekend agenda:

A Democratic strategist offered some advice on 2018, per a National Journal editor:

Members of Congress celebrated Presidents' Day:

And a former first lady gave a shoutout to Marvel's latest movie:


-- Wall Street Journal, “Inside an Immigration Roundup: Crying Children, Closed Doors, Coffee,” by Alicia A. Caldwell: “When officers reached their first apartment in Los Angeles just after 6 a.m. on a recent Sunday, the front gate was open and the building’s front door was missing a lock, giving them an entry into the building. … Two children, a boy and a girl, eventually opened the door. An officer asked for an adult to come to the door. ICE officers explained in Spanish that they were looking for Mariano Lopez, a native of Guatemala, who ICE said had served 90 days in jail for a battery charge. The officers identified Mr. Lopez once inside the apartment. … He was handcuffed in the hallway, out of the view of the children.”

-- New York Times, “Will Anthony Kennedy Retire? What Influences a Justice’s Decision,” by Adam Liptak: “For the second year in a row, rumors that Justice Anthony M. Kennedy may retire from the Supreme Court are sweeping Washington. He is 81, and he is doubtless weighing many factors in deciding whether to stay. Among them, experts in judicial behavior said, are the tug of party loyalty, the preservation of his judicial legacy and how close his retirement would be to a presidential election.”

-- Politico, “Is Trump trying to make amends with the press?” by Michael Calderone: “Still, the news on Monday that Trump plans to rub shoulders with members of Washington’s media elite [at the Gridiron Club dinner] is surprising given that his persistent attacks on news media haven’t abated since skipping such chummy galas last year. … Trump’s surprise decision to participate in a journalistic ritual suggests a desire to maintain some sense of respect and decorum, and was welcomed by some veteran Gridiron Club members. But it is also likely to renew questions about whether journalists should break bread with the president given his virulent anti-press rhetoric.”


“A Texas council member advocated for banning Islam in schools. He refuses to resign,” from Lindsey Bever: “A council member in [Plano] is rejecting calls for his resignation over a series of anti-Muslim and anti-black Facebook posts, including one saying that [Trump] should ban Islam in U.S. schools. The meme [shared by Tom Harrison], which showed a young girl wearing a hijab, read: ‘Share if you think Trump should ban Islam in American schools.’ The post sparked a public outcry, with Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere calling for Harrison’s removal from the council ... ‘I find this Facebook post abhorrent and believe this is a stain on our city and does not represent who we are,’ LaRosiliere said … saying that Harrison had refused to step down over the incident.” The council voted 7 to 1 to censure Harrison, with Harrison casting the only dissenting vote.



“Fox News Plans a Streaming Service for ‘Superfans,’” from the New York Times: “[T]he mass migration of viewers away from traditional cable and satellite packages is accelerating. And now Fox News is plotting a leap into the uncertain digital future that rivals like CNN have so far put off. On Tuesday, Fox News is set to announce Fox Nation, a stand-alone subscription service available without a cable package. The streaming service, expected to start by the end of the year, would focus primarily on right-leaning commentary, with original shows and cameos by popular personalities like Sean Hannity. It would not overlap with Fox News’s 24-hour cable broadcast — not even reruns — because of the channel’s contractual agreements with cable operators. Instead, the network is planning to develop hours of new daily programming with a mostly fresh slate of anchors and commentators.”



Trump will have lunch with Pence and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. He will also meet with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and host the Public Safety Medal of Valor awards ceremony.


David Gergen, who served as Richard Nixon’s chief speechwriter and stayed until the bitter end, said Trump’s erratic tweeting “reminds me very much of the last days of President Nixon when he became deeply, deeply insecure, lashed out in all sorts of ways and didn't remain focused on the job at hand." (CNN)



-- Washingtonians will see springlike weather today, with highs in the 70s. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Reduced visibility this morning with patchy dense fog and cloudy skies continuing through the commute window. Sunshine breaks through by late morning and temperatures pop into the 70s this afternoon in most areas.”

-- The Nationals signed veteran reliever Joaquin Benoit to a one-year contract. The news comes after bullpen asset Koda Glover was shut down over shoulder soreness. (Jorge Castillo)

-- The Capitals beat the Sabres 4-3. (Isabelle Khurshudyan)

-- Rushern Baker, the current front-runner in Maryland’s Democratic gubernatorial primary, plans to name Elizabeth M. Embry as his running mate. Embry currently serves in the state attorney general’s office and unsuccessfully ran in Baltimore’s 2016 mayoral election. (Ovetta Wiggins)

-- The D.C. schools chancellor dismissed growing calls for his resignation after it was revealed he sought special treatment in enrolling his daughter in school. Perry Stein and Peter Jamison report: “Five members of the D.C. Council and the city’s auditor say Chancellor Antwan Wilson should step down following revelations that he sought special treatment to enroll his daughter in a top D.C. high school, just two months after Wilson crafted rules prohibiting such behavior. … Wilson said he plans to host a virtual town hall next week where parents can ask him about the controversy.”

-- A new report found 3 out of 4 homeless women in D.C. living without children are survivors of violence. (Michael Alison Chandler)


The Post's fact-checker awarded Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) four Pinocchios for a claim about firearm purchases:

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is the latest Democrat to repeat this long debunked claim. (Meg Kelly/The Washington Post)

The Florida PTA held a statewide vigil to honor the Parkland victims:

People gathered in Miami for a series of candlelight vigils on Feb. 19, after a shooting killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. (Reuters)

One gun owner had a change of heart after the Parkland shooting:

A wardrobe malfunction sidetracked a French Olympian:

Gabriella Papadakis struggled to get through a routine after a wardrobe malfunction during a figure skating program at the Winter Olympics on Feb. 19. (Reuters)

And the Nationals' Bryce Harper looked to the team's season ahead:

Right fielder for the Washington Nationals, Bryce Harper, shared his thoughts on the upcoming Major League Baseball season in Feb. 2018. (Jorge Castillo/The Washington Post)