with Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve

With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve.

THE BIG IDEA: President Trump’s promises to take meaningful action on guns after Florida look increasingly hollow. His moves to get right with the National Rifle Association on Thursday reflect how much the contours of the debate have shifted and the degree to which the Republican Party has radicalized in recent years.

After 20 kids and six adults were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012, NRA leader Wayne LaPierre responded by calling on Congress to pony up for armed personnel in every single school in America.

This was treated as a fringe proposal and rejected by most leaders in education, law enforcement and the GOP.

After 14 kids and three adults were murdered in Parkland, Trump has emerged as the leading champion of the same idea. He suggested arming 1 in 5 teachers on Thursday, paying them bonuses to pack heat in their classrooms. He revealed that he had spoken “often” with NRA executives during the previous two days and praised them as “Great American Patriots.”

So it should not be surprising that the president’s comments at the White House yesterday afternoon closely mimicked a speech that LaPierre delivered earlier in the day at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

“Our banks [are] all more protected than our children at school,” said LaPierre.

“I want my schools protected just like I want my banks protected,” said Trump.

LaPierre said “gun-free zones” are “wide-open targets for any crazy madman bent on evil.”

Trump said “a gun-free zone to a killer or somebody who wants to be a killer [is] like going in for the ice cream” because, “When they see 'this is a gun-free zone,' that means that nobody has a gun except them, nobody's going to be shooting bullets in the other direction.”

The NRA chief spoke of “hardening” schools. “God help us if we do not harden our schools,” LaPierre said. “Schools must be the most hardened targets in this country.”

“We have to harden our schools, not soften them,” Trump said a little later. “You want a hardened school, and I want a hardened school too.”

-- It wasn’t always this way. “Crooked Hillary said that I want guns brought into the school classroom,” Trump tweeted in May 2016. “Wrong!”

The NRA also embraced the idea of gun-free schools after the shooting at Columbine in Colorado two decades ago. “First, we believe in absolutely gun free, zero tolerance, totally safe schools,” LaPierre said at the NRA’s annual meeting in 1999. “That means no guns in America's schools, period, with the rare exception of law enforcement officers or trained security personnel.”

-- Trump has certainly changed his views on guns over the years, but he’s now been parroting for several years the NRA mantra that “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” In classic Trumpian fashion, he takes ideas that other Republican politicians have espoused and goes one step further.

After the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando in June 2016, Trump said: “It's too bad some of the people killed over the weekend didn’t have guns attached to their hips, where bullets could have thrown in the opposite direction. … Had people been able to fire back, it would have been a much different outcome.”

“At the time, even leaders of the NRA said arming drunk clubgoers was a bad idea,” John Wagner and Jenna Johnson note.

-- In 1995, LaPierre referred to FBI agents as “jackbooted thugs” after the siege of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Tex. In protest, former president George H.W. Bush resigned as a member of the group. He said it was a “vicious slander on good people” that offended his personal sense of “decency and honor.”

LaPierre once again attacked federal agents yesterday. “As we’ve learned in recent months, even the FBI is not free of its own corruption and its own unethical agents,” he said at CPAC. “What is hard to understand is why no one at the FBI stood up and called B.S. on its rogue leadership.”

But this time he is preaching to the choir. The sitting president tweeted this last weekend:

-- This is just the latest data point that underscores the degree to which the Republican Party has been radicalized. Ideas that just a few years ago were widely considered kooky, like concealed-carry reciprocity, have moved from the fringe to the mainstream.

The same thing has happened on immigration. Before Trump took office, almost every member of the Republican elite considered the idea of reducing legal immigration extreme. But Jeff Sessions is now attorney general, and GOP congressional leaders are insisting that such draconian changes to the law must be part of any package to protect the “dreamers” from deportation.

When Trump first proposed a Muslim ban as a candidate, all his Republican rivals — and Mike Pence — balked. But when he rolled out a travel ban as president that targeted predominantly Muslim countries, they cheered. When federal judges appointed by previous Republican presidents called it unconstitutional, they jeered them.

When billionaire industrialist David Koch was the Libertarian Party’s nominee for vice president in 1980, he got 1.1 percent of the popular vote. Now he’s not just one of the richest men in the country, but undeniably one of its most powerful. The Koch network has supplanted the official Republican Party apparatus in its influence and ability to shape the agenda, which includes several of the ideas he ran on 38 years ago.

None of this is meant to pass judgment about the quality of the underlying policy ideas. The point is not that the old bulls were correct and the new guard is wrong. It is that the party has inarguably transformed. Long-term trends have been supercharged since Trump rode down the escalator at Trump Tower to launch his campaign in June 2015. Just 10 years ago, Steve Schmidt was the chief strategist for Republican presidential nominee John McCain. Now he’s warning of fascism in America:

-- Just as Trump was suggesting that arming teachers would be a panacea to stop future shootings, new details emerged about how the armed sheriff’s deputy who was at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School during last week's attack failed to stop the killer. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said he suspended School Resource Deputy Scot Peterson on Thursday after seeing a video that showed him standing around outside the school building where the shooter was inside and attacking. “He said Peterson was armed, and was in uniform, and should have gone into the building during the 6-minute event,” Lori Rozsa and Mark Berman report. “Peterson, 54, a resource officer at the school since 2009, resigned after Israel suspended him. ... When asked what he is seen doing on the video, Israel replied: ‘Nothing.’ ... Israel said two other officers have been placed on a restricted assignment, pending an internal investigation related to the shooting.”

-- POTUS has given himself lots of wiggle room by floating lots of ideas without committing to anything. “At Wednesday’s event and elsewhere, Trump broached several policies … but was vague and always changing on the specifics,” Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker report. “Eager to be seen as leading the debate, Trump tossed out ideas like so much fish food. … Even his allies who are intimately involved in the gun debate were left confused about what he was proposing. On background checks, for instance, Trump was unclear about whether he was advocating for a universal system that closes loopholes and has been long championed by Democrats, or simply making tweaks to shore up existing law.”

Trump has offered no details on how a program of arming teachers would work, how much it would cost and how school districts already strapped for cash would fund it,” Jenna and John note. “The Education Department estimates there are 3.1 million public school teachers and 400,000 private-school teachers. Arming 20 percent of teachers would mean arming more than 700,000 people.”

“Right now, we’re in a listening phase,” White House spokesman Raj Shah said during yesterday’s press briefing. “I wouldn’t say that we are or aren’t going to propose something that is as specific as legislative language.”

-- The Washington Post-ABC poll published Tuesday found that 51 percent of Americans think the Florida shooting “could not have been prevented” by allowing teachers to carry guns, while 42 percent said it could have been prevented.

-- To be sure, there are some signs of movement. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) told the Wichita Eagle that nobody under 21 should be able to buy an AR-15, but he’s unlikely to ever face voters again.

But Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who plans to run for Senate this year and feels like he needs NRA support to win what will be a close race, has stayed in lockstep with the group since the shooting. “Scott has responded to questions about the issue with answers that quickly turn to mental health and the need for enhancing safety protocols in schools,” Robert Costa reports. “Although he initially told CNN last week ‘everything’s on the table,’ Scott declined an invitation [to appear at the network’s town hall] … Scott could face a reckoning on the issue in the coming days, with GOP lawmakers engaged in talks with Democrats designed to produce a potentially modest gun restriction bill before the legislature’s session ends next week.”

-- Top Democrats on the Hill who work on this issue have grown much more pessimistic over the last 24 hours that Trump will follow through on his tough talk. They now anticipate that he’ll drag his feet on specifics until the public loses interest, and that he’ll insist on adding poison pills to placate the NRA. If something gets through Congress, the conventional wisdom among insiders is now that it will be so watered down as not to make a meaningful difference.

-- Follow the money: After Trump’s friendly comments toward the NRA, gun stocks popped. Sturm Ruger rose 3.6 percent. The value of the company that was until recently known as Smith & Wesson, which made the AR-15 used in Florida, increased 0.6 percent.

-- Meanwhile, Trump is still struggling to show empathy for the Florida victims and connect on a human level. Consider this remarkable anecdote from Julie Hirschfeld Davis in today’s New York Times: “Samantha Fuentes, who was shot in both legs during the Parkland assault, said she had felt no reassurance during a phone call from the president to her hospital room last week. ‘He said he heard that I was a big fan of his, and then he said, ‘I’m a big fan of yours too.’ I’m pretty sure he made that up,’ she said in an interview after being discharged from the hospital. ‘Talking to the president, I’ve never been so unimpressed by a person in my life. He didn’t make me feel better in the slightest.’ Ms. Fuentes, who was left with a piece of shrapnel lodged behind her right eye, said Mr. Trump had called the gunman a ‘sick puppy’ and said ‘‘oh boy, oh boy, oh boy,’ like, seven times.’

“The account of the call was reminiscent of the last time Mr. Trump drew public scrutiny for his reaction to a tragedy, with his private condolence call to Myeshia Johnson, the widow of Sgt. La David T. Johnson, one of four American soldiers killed in an attack in Niger,” Julie notes. “In that case, in October, Ms. Johnson said she had been deeply offended by Mr. Trump’s words and tone, saying that he had not referred to her husband by name, calling him only ‘your guy,’ and had upset her by saying that Mr. Johnson ‘knew what he signed up for, but it hurts anyway.’”


-- In the mainstream media:

  • Moriah Balingit and Nick Anderson: “‘No way I would do that’: Educators decry Trump proposal to arm teachers.”
  • New York Times: “Justice Dept. to Prioritize Prosecutions for Lying in Gun Background Checks.”
  • CNN: “School shooter threatened others with a gun, first host family told police.”
  • New Yorker: “The N.R.A. Lobbyist Behind Florida’s Pro-Gun Policies.”
  • CBS News: “Poll: Support for stricter gun laws rises; divisions on arming teachers.”
  • Joe Heim and Donna St. George: “For student protesters, consequences are across the map.”
  • Justin Wm. Moyer: “Organizers plan for 500,000 attendees at ‘March For Our Lives’ gun-control march in Washington.”
  • Boston Globe: “MIT to applicants: Being disciplined for protesting guns won’t affect admission.”
  • Omaha World-Herald: “First National Bank of Omaha ends relationship with NRA.”
  • Louisville Courier Journal: “This rural Kentucky lawmaker is turning his back on the NRA and supporting students.”
  • Salvador Rizzo: “Fact-checking Trump, NRA claims on gun background checks.”
  • Aaron Blake: “The NRA goes to DEFCON 1 with its new talking points.”
  • Callum Borchers: “Trump brings the gun-control conversation back to himself and 'fake news.’”
  • Philip Bump: “The economics of arming America’s schools.”
  • The Atlantic: “[LaPierre’s] Cynical Exploitation of Outrage.”
  • The Wrap: “Trump Wants a ‘Rating System’ for Movies and Games (Which Already Have Rating Systems).”

-- On the right:

  • National Review: “[LaPierre] Turns His Attention to the FBI’s ‘Rogue Leadership.’”
  • Daily Caller: “[LaPierre]: Mentally Ill List Skirts Due Process.”
  • Townhall: “[LaPierre]: Why Are NBA Stars Better Protected than Our Children?”
  • CNS News: “[LaPierre] Warns of ‘New Socialist Wave in America.’”
  • Washington Free Beacon: “[LaPierre] Slams Schumer for Not Following Through on Promise to Use Mental-Health Records in Checks.”
  • Breitbart: “[LaPierre] Warns CPAC Attendees of ‘Socialist Agenda’ After Florida Shooting.”
  • LifeZette: “[LaPierre] Offers Free Armed Guard Training for All Schools.”
  • Washington Examiner: “[LaPierre] turns discussion from school safety into fear of creeping socialism.”

-- On the left:


-- “What I Saw Treating the Victims From Parkland Should Change the Debate on Guns,” by Heather Sher in The Atlantic: “As I opened the CT scan last week to read the next case, I was baffled. I have been a radiologist in one of the busiest trauma centers in the nation for 13 years, and have diagnosed thousands of handgun injuries … I thought that I knew all that I needed to know about gunshot wounds, but the specific pattern of injury on my computer screen was one that I had seen only once before. … I was looking at a CT scan of one of the victims of the [Parkland shooting], who had been brought to the trauma center during my call shift. The organ looked like an overripe melon smashed by a sledgehammer, with extensive bleeding. The injury along the path of the bullet from an AR-15 is vastly different [from a typical handgun injury]. … [The bullet] does not have to actually hit an artery to damage it and cause catastrophic bleeding. … Exit wounds can be the size of an orange.”

-- Related reading: “What Bullets Do to Bodies,” by HuffPost’s Jason Fagone from April 2017: “The main thing people get wrong when they imagine being shot is that they think the bullet itself is the problem. The lump of metal lodged in the body. The action-movie hero is shot in the stomach; he limps to a safe house; he takes off his shirt, removes the bullet with a tweezer, and now he is better. This is not trauma surgery. Trauma surgery is about fixing the damage the bullet causes as it rips through muscle and vessel and organ and bone. The bullet can stay in the body just fine.”

-- A former Minnesota teacher spoke to the New Yorker’s Daniel A. Gross about surviving a deadly school shooting in 2005 — and the grief that endures long after the television crews pack up and move on. Here were some of her quotes from the interview:

  • On the shooter: “'He shot the lock, and it melted. Next to my door there was a panel of glass that he literally walked through. And that’s how he got in. We were all lined up. And he literally just went down the row. We were sitting ducks. … Five were killed. By the time he got to me, when he pulled the trigger, there were no more bullets.”
  • On going to her classroom to help identify bodies: “I remember just total shock. … and I kept saying, ‘Oh, it’s fine. It’s fine.’ It looked just like ‘CSI.’ I have not been able to watch a show like that in thirteen years.”
  • On PTSD: “I never cried until I got home … And I don’t think I cried again for six months. You just shut down. … My sister was pregnant [at the time], and, in August, I was there for the birth. They put him in my arms, and I had absolutely no feelings. And that scared me. I realized, in therapy, that I can’t go back to teaching. That was one of the big things for me to admit.”
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-- A Russian oligarch and Putin ally believed to control mercenaries blamed for a recent attack on U.S. troops had been in contract with the Kremlin. Ellen Nakashima, Karen DeYoung and Liz Sly report: “In intercepted communications in late January, the oligarch, Yevgeniy Prigozhin, told a senior Syrian official that he had ‘secured permission’ from an unspecified Russian minister to move forward with a ‘fast and strong’ initiative that would take place in early February. Prigozhin made front-page headlines last week when he was indicted by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III on charges of bankrolling and guiding a long-running Russian scheme to conduct ‘information warfare’ during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. … [T]he attack marked the biggest direct challenge to the U.S. military presence in eastern Syria since U.S. Special Operations forces began deploying there in 2015[.] … The episode also raises questions about ongoing U.S. cooperation in Syria with Russia[.]”

-- Russians Alina Zagitova and Evgenia Medvedeva took the gold and silver medals, respectively, in women’s figure skating. Canada’s Kaetlyn Osmond took the bronze. Team USA has now gone 12 years without medaling in the event that it once dominated. (Liz Clarke)

-- Ivanka Trump arrived in South Korea for the closing ceremonies. Anna Fifield reports: “The South Korean government is going to great lengths to give Trump a royal welcome, especially given the precarious state of relations between Washington and Seoul[.] … To lead its delegation to the closing, North Korea is sending Kim Yong Chol, a senior official who is widely considered the mastermind behind the 2010 torpedo attack on a South Korean naval corvette, which killed 46 sailors. … Although [South Korea’s president] will meet with the North Korean delegation after the closing, the Blue House has said there are no plans for any meetings or even encounters between Trump and Kim during the closing ceremony.

-- The U.S. remains in fourth in the medal count with 21 medals. 


  1. Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R) was indicted on a felony invasion of privacy charge. He allegedly threatened to blackmail a woman with whom he had an affair by distributing a nude photo that he took of her. Greitens, who had presidential ambitions, acknowledged having the affair but denied trying to blackmail the woman, calling the indictment a “disappointing and misguided political decision.” (Marwa Eltagouri and Sean Sullivan)
  2. Texas state Sen. Carlos Uresti (D) was convicted on 11 felony charges of money laundering and fraud related to his tenure at a now defunct oil field company. The ruling could land him in federal prison for years. (San Antonio Express-News)
  3. Nashville Mayor Megan Barry faced questions over early-morning visits to the city cemetery with her police bodyguard, with whom she was having an affair. Barry has repeatedly insisted Sgt. Rob Forrest was never paid when the two were sharing personal time, an assertion on which the cemetery trips cast doubt. (Nashville's NewsChannel 5)

  4. Forensic psychologist Shannon Edwards, who had an affair with former congressman Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), declared her candidacy for Congress. Murphy was forced to resign after reports that the antiabortion rights Republican asked Edwards to have an abortion during a pregnancy scare. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

  5. Australia’s deputy prime minister resigned in the wake of a sexual harassment allegation. Barnaby Joyce had recently weathered the political storm of acknowledging an extramarital affair with a woman now carrying his child, but the sexual harassment claim sealed his fate. (A. Odysseus Patrick)

  6. The KIPP charter network fired its co-founder Mike Feinberg for sexual misconduct. An independent investigation concluded a student’s sexual abuse claim from two decades ago had “credibility.” (Valerie Strauss)

  7. A Florida businessman pledged thousands of dollars to fund a Mar-a-Lago gala just two weeks after being tapped as Trump’s ambassador to Barbados. The gala’s organizer said Leandro Rizzuto Jr.'s contribution would likely equate to “upwards of probably $15,000 or $20,000 or $25,000.” (David A. Fahrenthold)

  8. West Virginia teachers went on strike over pay and benefits, triggering a shutdown of all public schools. Education officials have warned the work stoppage could adversely affect the state’s more than 277,000 public school students. (Sarah Larimer)
  9. Black lung disease is storming back with a vengeance in coal country, where federal investigators just identified the largest cluster of advanced cases in U.S. history. Nearly a quarter of patients were miners for less than 20 years and add to a growing body of evidence that a new black lung epidemic could be emerging in America’s coal belt. (New York Times)
  10. CBS News’s Margaret Brennan was named moderator of “Face the Nation.” The senior foreign affairs correspondent has been with the network since 2012. (CBS News)

  11. Comedian Michelle Wolf will headline the White House correspondents’ dinner. She will be the second consecutive “Daily Show” contributor to headline the event after Hasan Minhaj’s appearance last year. (Elahe Izadi and Helena Andrews-Dyer)

  12. A Swedish “museum of failure” pays homage to some of the world’s biggest innovation flops. Inductees include Colgate’s line of beef lasagna dinners, or “Blak,” and a short-lived Coca-Cola drink that mixed Diet Coke with coffee. But contrary to its name, the gallery is designed to celebrate failure, and museum visitors are encouraged to scrawl their own imperfections on Post-it notes scattered throughout the exhibit. (Fortune


-- Robert Mueller’s team filed a new 32-count indictment against Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, outlining a multiyear scheme of fraud and tax evasion that continued even as Manafort ascended to the top ranks of Trump’s presidential campaign. The additional charges were filed in Virginia — where both men filed their tax returns — and significantly escalate pressure for their cooperation in the special counsel’s ongoing Russia probe. Devlin Barrett, Rosalind S. Helderman and Spencer S. Hsu report: “Mueller accused the men of lying on their income-tax returns and conspiring to commit bank fraud to get loans. A court filing indicates that prosecutors initially sought to combine the new charges with the preexisting indictment in federal court in Washington, but Manafort declined to agree, leading to the possibility of separate trials in neighboring jurisdictions. … The new indictment offers a more detailed portrait of what prosecutors say was [a years-long effort by] Manafort and Gates to use their income from working for a Ukrainian political party to buy properties, evade taxes and support a lavish lifestyle even after their business connections in Kiev evaporated.” 

The charging documents claim both men continued the alleged conspiracy even as FBI agents were breathing down their necks: “On Oct. 25, 2017 — just days before the first indictment was revealed — Gates submitted a false tax document for the 2013 tax year … And both men were charged with a bank fraud conspiracy involving a $9.5 million loan that investigators said continued even after that indictment was unsealed.”

Gates’s legal strategy is a question mark: “Three of his lawyers had asked to leave the case, a request the judge granted Thursday. The details of his issues with his lawyers have not been described publicly, beyond a court filing that said they involve ‘highly sensitive matters’ … Shortly after Thursday’s indictment was filed, a new lawyer, Thomas C. Green, filed notice with the court that he is now representing Gates.”

-- “This is pretty raw criminality,’’ former federal prosecutor Patrick Cotter told our colleagues. “’According to the indictment, these are two fellows on a multiyear tear of lying to every bank they could find about their income. … It’s extensive and bold and greedy with a capital ‘G’ … Cotter added that the indictment suggests serious risk for the defendants — if convicted at trial … they could be facing de facto life prison sentences.”

-- “The original indictment did not explicitly bring tax charges, an omission that experts had predicted that Mr. Mueller would ultimately correct,” the New York Times’s Michael S. Schmidt and Matt Apuzzo report. “The first indictment also relied heavily on accusations that Mr. Manafort violated foreign lobbying laws, which have rarely been used at trial. The new indictment gives prosecutors more options.” (Read the full indictment here.)

-- Mueller’s probe is blocking Jared Kushner’s ability to receive a full security clearance. CNN’s Shimon Prokupecz, Jeremy Diamond and Dana Bash report: “Kushner's application for a top-level security clearance has been held up for over a year in part because it cannot be completed while the special counsel's team continues to probe Kushner's contacts with Russians and his financial dealings with foreigners, [two] sources said. … There is no indication that Mueller is close to wrapping up his investigation, ... [which] could leave Kushner without a security clearance for months to come, even as he tackles sensitive issues like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the United States' relationship with Mexico.”

-- Sweden is working to preemptively “Russia-proof” its political system ahead of its September elections. Officials say the country’s expansive efforts may have already dissuaded the Kremlin. Michael Birnbaum reports: “Hundreds of local election workers have been trained to spot and resist foreign influence. The country’s biggest media outlets have teamed up to combat false news. Political parties scour their email systems to close hacker-friendly holes. … In a Stockholm conference center one recent afternoon, about 70 local lawmakers and election officials heard a presentation on how to recognize and address vulnerabilities. [Attendees also] watched a news clip of Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) talking about Russian influence … [and] ways the Kremlin is thought to have targeted the U.S. election.” 

-- Paul Ryan and the White House have decided to replace the head of a federal commission meant to protect election systems. From Reuters’s Dustin Volz: “Matthew Masterson, a member of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission who currently serves as its chairman, has been passed over for a second four-year term as one of the agency’s four commissioners. … [Ryan’s spokeswoman] rejected the notion that Masterson was being removed or shoved aside, characterizing the change as routine. … Masterson has been a popular figure among state election officials, many of whom have praised his expertise and leadership on cyber security issues and expressed chagrin at his pending departure.”

-- Marc Fisher and Sari Horwitz just posted an in-depth comparison piece of the life paths of Mueller and Trump: “They are the sons of wealth, brought up in families accustomed to power. They were raised to show and demand respect, and they were raised to lead. They rose to positions of enormous authority, the president of the United States and the special counsel chosen to investigate him. … Yet [Mueller] and [Trump], born 22 months apart in New York City, also can seem to come from different planets. One is courtly and crisp, the other blustery and brash. One turned away from the path to greater wealth while the other spent half a century exploring every possible avenue to add to his assets.”


-- Trump publicly pondered whether to remove federal immigration officials from California. Jenna Johnson reports: “‘If we ever pulled our ICE out, if we ever said, “Hey, let California alone, let them figure it out for themselves,” in two months they'd be begging for us to come back,’ Trump said during a roundtable discussion about school shootings Thursday with state and local officials. ‘They would be begging. And you know what, I'm thinking about doing it.’ … ‘If I wanted to pull our people from California, you would have a crime mess like you've never seen in California,’ Trump said. … [California’s Democratic Gov. Jerry] Brown responded with a statement Thursday afternoon: ‘In California, we protect all of our people from criminals and gangs, as well as dangerous assault weapons. We do our job, Mr. President, you do yours.’”

-- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is removing the phrase “a nation of immigrants” from its mission statement. Agency Director L. Francis Cissna first announced the change in a staff email Thursday. The Intercept’s Ryan Devereaux reports: “The director highlighted, specifically, the removal of the word ‘customers’ from the new mission statement, making the case that the word gave a false impression.”

  • Here’s the former statement: “USCIS secures America’s promise as a nation of immigrants by providing accurate and useful information to our customers, granting immigration and citizenship benefits, promoting an awareness and understanding of citizenship, and ensuring the integrity of our immigration system.”
  • And the new statement: “U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services administers the nation’s lawful immigration system, safeguarding its integrity and promise by efficiently and fairly adjudicating requests for immigration benefits while protecting Americans, securing the homeland, and honoring our values.”

-- Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is expected to propose that transgender troops be allowed to continue serving in the U.S. military, despite Trump's string of tweets last July banning them. Dan Lamothe, Anne Gearan and Josh Dawsey report: “The defense secretary was scheduled to brief the president on Wednesday, but the meeting was postponed and will occur soon ... Dana White, a spokeswoman for Mattis, said the secretary will meet with Trump this week and the president will make an announcement at some point afterward. It’s unclear whether Trump will adopt Mattis’s recommendations, which the president requested in an Aug. 25 executive order.”

-- GOP megadonor Sheldon Adelson has offered to partially pay for a new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem. The AP’s Josh Lederman reports: “Lawyers at the State Department are looking into the legality of accepting private donations to cover some or all of the embassy costs, the administration officials said. … In one possible scenario, the administration would solicit contributions not only from Adelson but potentially from other donors in the evangelical and American Jewish communities, too. One official said Adelson, a Las Vegas casino magnate and staunch supporter of Israel, had offered to pay the difference between the total cost — expected to run into the hundreds of millions of dollars — and what the administration is able to raise.”

-- Trump is expected to discuss what one official called “the largest package of new sanctions against the North Korea regime” in his CPAC speech this morning. The vice president previewed the sanctions during his Asia trip earlier this month. (Reuters)

-- U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley said the administration’s Mideast peace proposal is nearly finished. From Anne Gearan: “Haley added that U.S. negotiators [Kushner] and Jason D. Greenblatt are ‘still going back and forth,’ and she gave no more specific timeline. ‘They’re coming up with a plan. It won’t be loved by either side, and it won’t be hated by either side.’ … [Former Obama top adviser] David Axelrod ... pressed Haley on whether the United States would propose an independent Palestinian state ... ‘It’s for them to decide,’ Haley said of Israel and the Palestinians. She added that ‘it is hard for me to see how they would want’ a single state, and added that she thinks ‘they are pushing toward a two-state’ outcome.”

-- “This year’s Conservative Political Action Conference began 472 days after the 2016 presidential election. Its first day ended with jeers for Democrat Hillary Clinton,” writes David Weigel. “Ben Shapiro, a conservative pundit and college campus speaker, told attendees Thursday afternoon that President Trump had ensured that Clinton ‘will never be president of the United States.’ The chant started within seconds: ‘Lock her up! Lock her up!’ ‘She’s already in a jail of her own making,’ said Shapiro, ‘somewhere in the woods in Upstate New York.’ … Like the president, who peppers his remarks and tweets with references to the defeat of ‘Crooked Hillary,’ the CPAC conservatives lacked a clear, new adversary.”


-- Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 House Democrat, is on a listening tour this week with stops in Pittsburgh, Toledo and Indianapolis to hone the party’s economic message. Erica Werner reports: Hoyer “ventured into states that are hosting some competitive House races and where [Nancy Pelosi], already featured in numerous GOP attack ads this cycle, might be less welcome. … In sessions on topics including entrepreneurship, the education skills gap and infrastructure, Hoyer gathered suggestions from local officials and others on everything from how to improve technology at local airports to how to move forward with improving aging infrastructure. … [O]ne point emerged clearly: ‘I think we Democrats just need to focus like a laser on the economic issues,’ Hoyer said.”

-- The next political dynasty? Bernie Sanders’s son is considering a congressional run in New Hampshire. From Vice News’s Alex Thompson: “Levi Sanders, [the senator’s] only biological child, [said] that he is actively considering running for Congress in New Hampshire’s 1st District, an open seat expected to be one of the most contested in the country in 2018. ‘Oh absolutely, I’m definitely considering it. I’m excited, motivated, and interested in the race,’ Levi said. ‘I’m just dotting my i’s and crossing my t’s.’ The 48-year-old Levi said that he would run on a similar platform of Medicare for all and free college tuition that animated his father’s presidential run in 2016, when the elder Sanders beat Hillary Clinton by 22 points in New Hampshire[.]”

-- Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s team is gearing up for a potential 2020 presidential bid. Politico’s Gabriel Debenedetti reports: “[His advisers are] actively weighing the prospect of a Republican primary challenge to [Trump] against the feasibility of a long-shot general election campaign as an independent. And there’s one consideration driving their thinking perhaps more than any other: what some of his advisers consider the very real, maybe even likely, possibility that Trump doesn’t run again — by choice or not — or that the president becomes so politically hobbled by late next year that the political landscape fundamentally shifts in Kasich’s favor. That’s one reason Kasich has yet to decide whether to pursue an independent bid or a primary challenge.”

-- The calls for judicial impeachment are growing louder in Pennsylvania, where judges just redrew the state’s congressional map. Christopher Ingraham writes: “Judicial impeachment in Pennsylvania requires the support of a majority of House members and two-thirds of the Senate. Republicans currently hold enough seats in both chambers to carry out an impeachment without any Democratic support. Pennsylvania House Speaker Mike Turzai and Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati have been sharply critical of the court, saying that it ‘conspicuously seized the redistricting process.’ But they have not weighed in on the question of impeachment. Legal experts say the comments from other Republican lawmakers are alarming.”

-- Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R), facing a tough reelection this year, caught flak for an event in which he drank a glass of chocolate milk to demonstrate his commitment to diversity. From the Chicago Tribune’s Kim Janssen: “‘It’s really, really good,’ Rauner said after taking a sip of the sugary drink. ‘Diversity!’ The clunky corporate metaphor was the brainchild of Hyatt Hotels diversity and inclusion executive Tyronne Stoudemire[.] … Stoudemire, who is black, poured a glass of milk to represent the white men who lead most organizations (including, um, the state of Illinois). ‘This chocolate syrup represents diversity,’ Stoudemire said, before squirting a healthy dash of brown syrup that immediately sank to the bottom of the glass. ‘When you look at most organizations, diversity sits at the bottom of the organization,’ Stoudemire continued. ‘You don’t get inclusion until you actually stir it up.’ Rauner then stirred the syrup into the milk, turning it brown, and he took a sip and pronounced it good.”

-- The DCCC took the rare step of posting negative research on a candidate running in the Texas 7th’s Democratic primary. The Texas Tribune’s Abby Livingston reports: “The [DCCC] posted negative research on [Laura] Moser, a Houston journalist vying among six other Democrats in the March 6 primary to unseat Republican U.S. Rep. John Culberson. Democrats locally and nationally have worried that Moser is too liberal to carry a race that has emerged in recent months as one of the most competitive races in the country. The DCCC posting, which features the kind of research that is often reserved for Republicans, notes that Moser only recently moved back to her hometown of Houston and that much of her campaign fundraising money has gone to her husband's political consulting firm. It also calls her a ‘Washington insider.’”


Trump made a pitch for the border wall in a morning tweet:

The Toronto Star's Washington correspondent fact-checked the president:

Barack Obama joined his wife in applauding the student activists rising up in the wake of the Parkland shooting:

A House Republican pushed back on Trump's call to raise the age requirement for purchasing a rifle:

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) responded to the NRA chief's attacks on her in his CPAC speech:

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) addressed the assault weapons bans following his CNN town hall appearance:

This 2008 tweet from NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch also recirculated after the town hall:

Obama's former senior adviser celebrated reports of companies cutting ties with the NRA:

CPAC enforced strict security measures:

A former White House adviser clashed with a HuffPost reporter at the conference:

A New York Times opinions editor bemoaned the state of the conservative movement:

Conservative and former independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin replied:

A spokesman for Obama's Justice Department analyzed the latest Manafort indictment:

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch placed the state's indicted governor on its front page:

This quote from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) prompted some pointed responses from congressional reporters:

A Weekly Standard congressional reporter:

And Obama's former foreign policy adviser announced some personal news:


-- BuzzFeed News, “He Became A Celebrity For Putting Science Before God. Now Lawrence Krauss Faces Allegations Of Sexual Misconduct,” by Peter Aldhous, Azeen Ghorayshi and Virginia Hughes: “BuzzFeed News has learned … of many wide-ranging allegations of Krauss’s inappropriate behavior over the last decade — including groping women, ogling and making sexist jokes to undergrads, and telling an employee at Arizona State University, where he is a tenured professor, that he was going to buy her birth control so she didn’t inconvenience him with maternity leave. In response to complaints, two institutions — Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario — have quietly restricted him from their campuses. Our reporting is based on official university documents, emails, and interviews with more than 50 people.”

-- “‘I don’t know how you got this way,’” by The Post’s Terrence McCoy: “He was two years out of high school now, and he didn’t have a job, or a car, or a place of his own, or much money beyond what his mother gave him — nothing at all to occupy his time except a computer that had carried him to the most extreme parts of the Internet, and to beliefs that no one in his family could understand. In the year since the 2016 presidential election, Kam had gone from supporting white supremacists, to joining a neo-Nazi group, to shouting ‘white lives matter’ at a rally, to standing beside Richard Spencer outside the White House, to increasingly tense conversations with his mother and grandmother, both of whom were beginning to fear that what they had once thought was just a phase was quickly becoming his life. How did this happen?”

-- “Enough with the rancid conspiracy theories,” National Review’s Kevin Williamson writes in a powerful column, excoriating right-wing figures including David Clarke, Dinesh D’Souza and Scott Baio, who has suggested on Twitter that Charlottesville murder victim Heather Heyer was the same woman who was presented as the mother of a Sandy Hook victim years ago. “The implication — that the events [were] some sort of hoax pulled off by a powerful and far-reaching conspiracy of wily political operators who could not be bothered to hire an extra actress to fortify their schemes — is poisonous, lunatic conspiracy-theory stuff. Normally, I would not give one furry little rat’s patootie … but this is a man who was invited to speak on the opening day of the Republican National Convention in 2016, who is a regular representative of the conservative view on Fox News and other outlets, and who is, therefore, a figure of some cultural consequence[.]

“[Conservatives should be ashamed of] bending the knee to … every other third-rate celebrity who has something nice to say about a Republican from time to time. And we should be ashamed of ourselves if we come to accept this kind of dishonesty in the service of political expediency. If conservative ideas cannot prevail in the marketplace of ideas without lies, they do not deserve to prevail at all.”

-- New York Times, “Am I Going Blind?” by Frank Bruni: “They say that death comes like a thief in the night. Lesser vandals have the same M.O. The affliction that stole my vision, or at least a big chunk of it, did so as I slept. I went to bed seeing the world one way. I woke up seeing it another. This was about four months ago, though it feels like an eternity. So much has happened since.”


“Black History Month Menu at N.Y.U.: Kool-Aid, Watermelon and Controversy,” from the New York Times: “On Tuesday, a dining hall at New York University advertised a special meal in honor of Black History Month. On the menu? Barbecue ribs, corn bread, collard greens, and two beverages with racist connotations: Kool-Aid and watermelon-flavored water. Nia Harris, a sophomore in N.Y.U.’s College of Arts & Science, sought an explanation from [the dining hall’s] head cook. The cook dismissed her objections … [adding] that the employees who planned the menu were black. Ms. Harris, 19, posted a screen shot of her email on Facebook, along with a post that began, ‘This is what it’s like to be a black student at New York University.’ Within a day, Andrew Hamilton, the university president, had released a statement calling the menu ‘inexcusably insensitive.’”



“Florida House approves bill to post ‘In God We Trust’ in all public schools,” from the Tampa Bay Times: “[T]he Florida House overwhelmingly passed a measure Wednesday its sponsor said aimed at bringing ‘light’ to the schools. The bill (HB 839) would require all public schools to post the state motto, ‘In God We Trust,’ in a ‘conspicuous place.’ Sponsor Rep. Kim Daniels, a Jacksonville Democrat who runs her own ministry, said Florida needed the legislation, given the goings on in the state. ‘He is not a Republican or a Democrat. He is not black or white,’ Daniels said. ‘He is the light, and our schools need light in them like never before.’ She spoke directly of the [Parkland] school shooting, and said it's no secret that the state has ‘gun issues’ that must be addressed. ‘But the real thing that needs to be addressed are issues of the heart,’ Daniels said.”



Trump will address CPAC this morning. He will then return to the White House for a meeting and joint news conference with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. He also has an afternoon meeting with the secretary of state. (Philip Rucker and Ashley Parker document how Trump and Turnbull’s relationship recovered after their disastrous phone call in January of last year.)

Pence and the second lady will host a luncheon for members of the National Governors Association. He will later join Trump’s meeting with the Australian prime minister. 


Sen. Ted Cruz told CPAC attendees, “I think the Democrats are the party of Lisa Simpson, and Republicans are happily the party of Homer and Bart and Maggie and Marge.” (Michael Cavna)


The head of “The Simpsons” took issue with Cruz’s analogy:


-- Gross: It will be cloudy, clammy and damp in Washington today. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “You may want that umbrella, especially during the morning hours. Drizzle seems likely to be in store for some. Perhaps even a small period of light showers for morning commuters. Clouds dominate from there but it shouldn’t rain much during the day, with only a few more showers a risk at times. … Temperatures make a slow struggle toward mid-40s to near 50.”

-- The Capitols lost to the Florida Panthers, who gave an emotional tribute to the victims of the Parkland shooting. Isabelle Khurshudyan reports: “Players from both teams [sat] on the bench, some wiping away tears, as the names of all 17 victims from last week’s school shooting in nearby Parkland appeared on the ice in spotlights. And then one by one, each name went dark during a minute-long moment of silence. … BB&T Center is just 20 minutes away from the high school, and Thursday’s game between the Florida Panthers and Washington Capitals marked the first time the Panthers played at their home rink since the tragedy.”

-- The Wizards beat the Cavaliers 110-103. (Candace Buckner)

-- The man who killed a Prince George’s County police officer was ordered by a court to give up his guns at least three times. (Lynh Bui, Ann E. Marimow and Clarence Williams)

-- The Virginia House and Senate approved radically different budgets centered around possible Medicaid expansion. Laura Vozzella and Gregory S. Schneider report: “[The House budget] would not only tap federal funds to provide health care to as many as 400,000 uninsured Virginians, but also would allow the state to take more than $420 million currently devoted to health care and spend it on other priorities. On the other side of the Capitol, the Republican-controlled Senate seemed to stand more firmly than ever against expansion. That forced the upper chamber to cut $420 million from the budget[.]”

-- Metro rejected Amnesty International’s ads featuring “hateful rhetoric” from global leaders including Russian President Vladimir Putin, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and … Donald Trump. (Faiz Siddiqui)


Stephen Colbert mocked Trump's idea about arming teachers:

Trevor Noah critiqued Marco Rubio's town hall appearance:

Pence celebrated “a year of promises made and promises kept” at CPAC:

The White House dodged questions about an alleged payout to Trump's alleged former mistress Stormy Daniels:

And a DACA recipient explained how the program allowed him to start his career in nursing: