With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve.
THE BIG IDEA: A spike in support for stricter gun laws is a testament to the power and possibility of presidential leadership.
Challenging the cynicism of insiders who have reconciled themselves to inaction after mass shootings, two new polls show surprising shifts since the massacre in Florida.
A CNN-SSRS poll published Sunday finds that 70 percent of Americans now back tougher gun laws, up from 52 percent last October after the shooting in Las Vegas. Republicans account for a sizable chunk of this movement. After 58 people were murdered during a country concert, only 30 percent of GOP voters favored stricter gun laws. After 17 were killed at a high school in Parkland, that number is 49 percent.
The main difference: President Trump opposed any changes to existing gun laws four months ago, but he’s been vocal for the past week that Congress ought to act this time. To the chagrin of the National Rifle Association, he’s been pushing for better background checks and raising the minimum age from 18 to 21 to buy an assault-style rifle.
There are many reasons to doubt that the president has the will or backbone to prod a reluctant GOP-controlled Congress to follow through on his rhetoric, or that he has the stomach for a battle with his patrons in the gun lobby. But his tweets and other public comments, combined with the sympathetic student survivors who have been agitating for action relentlessly on television, are undeniably changing people’s minds.
“Bumps in support for tighter laws following mass shootings have rarely lasted, but they have also rarely been as large as the shift seen in this poll,” notes CNN pollster Jen Agiesta. “The new poll also finds a deepening intensity of support for stronger gun laws. A majority, or 52%, say they ‘strongly’ favor stricter gun laws, well above the previous high mark of 37% in polling back to 2013. … Overall support for stricter laws includes a majority of those who live in gun-owning households (57%) as well as majorities across gender, race and age categories.”
A remarkable 64 percent of respondents said that government and society can take action that will effectively prevent shootings like the one in Parkland. “That is higher by far than the share to say so in CNN polls after mass shootings in Las Vegas (47%), Orlando (46%), Charleston (35%), Newtown, Conn. (46%) and Tucson (33%),” Jen notes. “Majorities across party lines say they feel effective action can be taken, including 79% of Democrats, 59% of independents and 52% of Republicans.”
A Washington Post-ABC News poll that went into the field immediately after Parkland didn’t pick up the magnitude of the movement perhaps because Trump hadn’t started aggressively advocating for stricter laws.
-- The new numbers demonstrate the enduring potency of the bully pulpit, even when the president is unpopular. They also show how individual leadership can still move the needle, even in a hyperpolarized country with such a fragmented media environment.
The last time a CNN poll showed this level of support for stricter gun laws was 1993, the year that the Brady Bill passed. That legislation, which established the federal background check system, was named for former White House press secretary James Brady, who was wounded during the 1981 assassination attempt against Ronald Reagan.
A key reason the Brady Bill could pass was because Reagan endorsed it. The same was true a year later of the assault weapons ban. Reagan endorsed the measure in an open letter to Congress that was co-signed by Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. “We can dry up the supply of these guns, making them less accessible to criminals,” the three former presidents wrote. Lawmakers listened.
-- Viewed another way, the shift in polling also underscores the tribalism that has become so endemic in American politics. Because Trump is the leader of the red team, most Republicans no longer care too much about deficits and they’ve changed their minds about the benefits of legal immigration. They’re also less committed to traditional family values, among other things. (I’ve highlighted this phenomenon repeatedly since Trump took office, including in the context of changing GOP views about intervention in Syria as well as the special elections in Montana and Alabama.)
To be sure, just because 7 in 10 people support stricter laws also doesn’t mean that will come to fruition. More than 90 percent of Americans have consistently supported strengthening background checks, but that didn’t happen after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School because of the political muscle of the NRA — including among red state Democrats who were up for reelection in 2014.
-- Indeed, the gloom among elites that society is unable to address its gun violence epidemic has broken through to the public at large. A USA Today-Suffolk University poll out this morning finds that Americans overwhelmingly support tougher gun laws, but few think Congress will act anytime soon. “By almost 2-1, 61%-33%, they say tightening gun-control laws and background checks would prevent more mass shootings,” Susan Page and Marilyn Icsman report on the front page of USA Today. “By more than 2-1, 63%-29%, they say semiautomatic weapons like the AR-15, used by the Florida shooter, should be banned. By more than 6-1, 76%-12%, they say people who have been treated for mental illness should be banned from owning a firearm. Even gun owners are inclined to support those three measures.”
Yet only 1 in 5 think the odds are excellent or good that Congress will do any of those three things. More than three in four, 76 percent, say the chances are fair or poor. Interestingly, twice as many Republicans think Congress will act (28 percent) than Democrats (14 percent).
-- One broader takeaway from the gun numbers: Trump does not need to stay captive to his base. There is another way. One of the most popular things Trump did in 2017 was to cut a deal with Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi to raise the debt ceiling and fund the government. Conversely, this was one of the nadirs in his relationship with congressional Republicans. If Trump hadn’t outsourced policymaking on issues like immigration to the hard line ideologues and had pursued a more pragmatic streak, his approval rating would probably be higher.
MOVEMENT IN THE STATES:
-- At the National Governors Association meeting in Washington this weekend, several governors signaled openness to raising the age limit for purchasing “long” guns to 21 or said there should be better ways for family members to take concerns about unstable individuals to a judge and have weapons confiscated. “Both measures were endorsed Friday by Florida’s Republican governor, Rick Scott, a longtime supporter of the NRA, who opposed new gun laws after the 2016 mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Florida and the 2017 mass shooting at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport,” Michael Scherer and Dan Balz report.
- “I haven’t heard a good answer to: Why should a 20-year-old be able to buy an assault rifle and not a beer?” said Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R), who is leaving office this year.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) has removed pro-Second Amendment language from his website since the Florida shooting and replaced it with a call for “common sense.” Kasich voted for the assault weapons ban in 1994, which prompted the NRA to endorse his Democratic opponent in 2010 (he got the group’s support in 2014). “What I ask people to do is, you’ve got to search your heart on this,” Kasich said on ABC’s “This Week.” “Nobody wants to take everybody’s guns away. Nobody wants to repeal the Second Amendment — oh, a few people. But this is about reasonable approaches to keep our community safe.”
-- Several governors from both parties also said they oppose arming teachers and that educators should teach and not become law enforcement officers. “Putting more guns into the mix is not something I believe is an answer,” said Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R).
- An exception was Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), who noted that nearly 20 percent of Texas schools have already trained and armed educators.
MORE FALLOUT IN FLORIDA:
-- Republican state lawmakers called on Scott to suspend Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, accusing him of “incompetence and neglect of duty” in the months before the Parkland shooting. “Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran and 73 Republican colleagues urged [Scott] to suspend Israel, a Democrat who was reelected in 2016,” Drew Harwell and Mark Berman report. “Israel said before the letter’s release that the agency had stumbled in its handling of red flags about the shooter … but that he should not be held personally responsible.” The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said Sunday afternoon that it would launch a full investigation into the law-enforcement response.
Asked why his deputy remained outside the school as the shooting occurred, Israel told a local NBC affiliate on Sunday: “I gave him a gun. I gave him a badge. I gave him the training. If he didn’t have the heart to go in, that’s not my responsibility.”
-- Records show Broward County officers responded to at least 45 calls involving the shooter or his family, nearly double the number that the department previously cited. The sheriff’s office has pushed back against reports of higher call numbers but did not respond to questions about why newly-uncovered calls were not included in an earlier official statement. (Buzzfeed News)
-- On a more uplifting note: The Marjory Stoneman Douglas hockey team won the state title this weekend. “We’re pretty much fighting for the 17 that passed away out here,” said player Matthew Horowitz.
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- The Weinstein Co. will file for bankruptcy after negotiations for a sale fell apart. The LA Times’s Ryan Faughnder reports: “The decision came after the board was unable to revive a deal to sell the struggling studio to an investor group led by Maria Contreras-Sweet, who ran the Small Business Administration under President Obama from 2014 to 2017. … Under the proposed deal, Weinstein Co. was to be renamed under a new board of directors, the majority of which would be composed of women. The bidders had promised to raise at least $40 million for a fund to compensate Weinstein's accusers. But the discussions came to a sudden halt Feb. 11 when the New York attorney general's office filed a civil rights lawsuit against Weinstein Co. and its co-founders. The following day, Atty. Gen. Eric Schneiderman blasted the proposed sale and questioned the existence of the promised victims fund based on documents he'd reviewed.”
GET SMART FAST:
- China is moving to remove presidential term limits, potentially paving the way for President Xi Jinping to stay in power indefinitely. (Emily Rauhala)
- Team USA fell short of expectations at the Winter Games, winning just 23 medals, the fewest since 1998. The U.S. Olympic Committee privately anticipated a minimum of 25 medals, with an expected target of 37 and as many as 59. (Rick Maese)
- The Jerusalem church where Christians believe Jesus was crucified was shuttered over unpaid taxes. Christian leaders have accused Israel of waging a “systematic campaign against the churches and the Christian community in the Holy Land in flagrant violation of the existing status quo.” (Ruth Eglash)
The Southern Poverty Law Center reported the number of U.S. hate groups grew for the third year in a row. The organization counted 954 active hate groups nationwide, representing a 4 percent rise from 2016. (Catherine Rentz)
Oakland’s mayor issued a news release warning residents of an impending ICE operation in California's Bay Area. The city leader has repeatedly stressed her commitment to Oakland’s status as a “sanctuary city.” (Cleve R. Wootson Jr.)
The Supreme Court will hear arguments tomorrow in the second rendition of Lozman v. City of Riviera Beach. Citizen-activist Fane Lozman has repeatedly clashed with officials in his Florida town as he has sought to sniff out local corruption. Tuesday’s case focuses on Lozman’s 2006 arrest at a city council meeting after he attempted to use his public comment time to call out corruption in Palm Beach County. (Robert Barnes)
- Michelle Obama’s memoir, “Becoming,” is slated for release this November. Random House promises the former first lady's book will be “an unusually intimate reckoning from a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations — and whose story inspires us to do the same.” (CNN)
- An Australian tourist with measles visited multiple sites in New York City, prompting a warning from the state’s health department. The virus is highly contagious for those who have not been immunized, a growing trend in the United States. (Alex Horton)
- A rising star at the CDC left work sick two weeks ago and hasn’t been heard from since. The family of Harvard-educated epidemiologist Timothy J. Cunningham has offered a $10,000 reward for information on his disappearance that could lead to an arrest. (Alex Horton)
TRUMP'S FOREIGN POLICY:
-- “North Korea is ‘willing to have talks’ with the United States, South Korea’s presidential Blue House said Sunday, as the PyeongChang Winter Olympics closed in a burst of fireworks and diplomacy,” Anna Fifield reports. “President Moon Jae-in achieved his goal of using the Olympics as ‘peace games’ to encourage both North Korea and the United States to ease off their threats, at least temporarily. During an hour-long meeting in PyeongChang on Sunday night, North Korea’s chief representatives at the Closing Ceremonies told Moon that Pyongyang was open to dialogue with Washington. The statement did not make any mention of North Korea’s nuclear program or whether the dialogue would be about denuclearization. Pyongyang has previously insisted that its nuclear weapons are not up for discussion. The White House on Sunday took a wait-and-see stance.”
“Ivanka Trump ... represented the United States at the closing event and sat in the same VIP box as North Korea’s lead delegate, Kim Yong Chol, who is under U.S. sanctions for his involvement in North Korea’s nuclear program. Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, the commander of U.S. forces in South Korea, who was in full military uniform, sat just two seats from Kim. They watched, without speaking to one another, as the hosts put on an elaborate display involving K-pop stars, drones in tiger formations and skating pandas ...
“In a reminder that any diplomatic gains will be hard-won — if they are won at all — North Korea on Sunday issued a tirade against the Trump administration over its announcement Friday of another wave of potentially crippling sanctions. The administration blacklisted 56 vessels, shipping companies and other entities in an attempt to cut off North Korea’s ability to skirt existing sanctions targeting its nuclear program.”
-- Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto called off his White House visit after a tense exchange with Trump about the border wall. From Philip Rucker, Joshua Partlow and Nick Miroff: “Peña Nieto was eyeing an official trip to Washington this month or in March, but both countries agreed to call off the plan after Trump would not agree to publicly affirm Mexico’s position that it would not fund construction of a border wall that the Mexican people widely consider offensive[.] … One Mexican official said Trump ‘lost his temper.’ But U.S. officials described him instead as being frustrated and exasperated, saying Trump believed it was unreasonable for Peña Nieto to expect him to back off his crowd-pleasing campaign promise of forcing Mexico to pay for the wall.”
-- Many Mexicans wondered why their leader had even considered going to the White House to begin with, reports David Agren. “Mexicans questioned what purpose the meeting could have served and wondered if the president and foreign minister, Luis Videgaray, had learned from the humiliations of Peña Nieto’s previous interactions with Trump. … Others wondered whether the administration still harbored the belief that it could convince Trump of the value of the Mexican relationship and sticking with [NAFTA] amid tricky renegotiations.”
-- The seventh round of NAFTA negotiations began amid low expectations. Joel Baglole reports: “[T]here are signs that the trade talks have strained relations between the United States and Canada, as the neighbors remain far apart on issues such as automotive manufacturing and trade dispute resolutions. … Even [Canadian Prime Minister Justin] Trudeau has sounded negative about the NAFTA negotiations. In a speech this month, he said that ‘Canada is willing to walk away from NAFTA if the United States proposes a bad deal. … We are not going to take any old deal.’”
-- The majority owner of Trump’s Panama City hotel escalated his months-old campaign to rebrand the property – by kicking out its employees. Ana Cerrud, David A. Fahrenthold and Jonathan O'Connell report: “[Cypriot businessman Orestes Fintiklis] blames Trump’s brand and Trump’s company for declining revenue and empty rooms. So far, his tactics had been confined to lawsuits and angry letters. That changed on Thursday, when Fintiklis and a group of others arrived at the hotel, seeking to deliver letters of termination to the staff. That caused at least one confrontation, which included yelling but no physical altercation, according to a Trump Organization official. The police came, … but did not allow Fintiklis to eject the staff. At one point, the hotel’s power was turned off, apparently by an ally of Fintiklis, the Trump official said. The power has been restored.”
-- Trump’s threats to embargo Venezuelan oil could cripple an already suffering industry and exacerbate gas prices. From Rachelle Krygier and Anthony Faiola: “During his trip to Latin America this month, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson suggested that the ‘nuclear option’ could be imminent — in other words, restrictions on U.S. imports of Venezuelan oil[.] … A senior U.S. official … said that a study is underway by U.S. executive departments — including State, Energy and Treasury — to assess the potential effects of such oil restrictions.”
THE REST OF TRUMP’S AGENDA:
-- Trump could be able to follow through on threats to slash agencies’ budgets as soon as next month. Juliet Eilperin explains: “Until now, the administration has been largely prevented from making such moves because the government has been operating under a series of continuing budget resolutions. Those generally require agencies to maintain funding for existing programs. … The ground is about to shift, however. Having cut a deal earlier this month to increase agency spending over the next two years, lawmakers expect in March to approve formal appropriations bills that will allow them to re-order agency priorities. Once the legislation passes, a House Appropriations Committee aide confirmed Friday, [the U.S. Geological Survey] will be able to shutter both [its whooping crane restoration program] and the Biological Survey Unit.”
-- An influential Koch-back group launched a new digital ad pushing for permanent relief for DACA recipients. Michelle Ye Hee Lee reports: “The ad, titled ‘We Are Patriots,’ will run on Facebook, Twitter and Google. It highlights ‘dreamers’ as Americans and patriots, and incorporates messages of economic and family values as an appeal to conservative audiences. This is the first ad campaign specifically focused on the fate of dreamers by The LIBRE Initiative … and its first major immigration ad push since the Gang of 8 immigration negotiations in 2013. Monday's ad launch is a part of the group's broader immigration advocacy on behalf of [dreamers.]”
-- Trump has been pushing to install his personal pilot, John Dunkin, as head of the FAA, Axios’s Jonathan Swan reports: “[The FAA] has a budget in the billions and which oversees all civil aviation in the United States. One industry insider equated this to the Seinfeld episode when Cosmo Kramer used his golf caddy as a jury consultant. [A] source confirmed Trump recommended Dunkin and that he’s sat for an interview for the post.”
A White House official confirmed to John Wagner that Dunkin is “in the mix” to lead the FAA.
-- Swan also reports Trump has expressed admiration for Singapore’s policy of executing drug traffickers. A senior administration official said of Trump, “He often jokes about killing drug dealers ... He’ll say, 'You know the Chinese and Filipinos don’t have a drug problem. They just kill them.'” Swan adds: “But the president doesn't just joke about it. According to five sources who've spoken with Trump about the subject, he often leaps into a passionate speech about how drug dealers are as bad as serial killers and should all get the death penalty. Trump tells confidants a softer approach to drug reform — the kind where you show sympathy to the offenders and give them more lenient sentences — will never work. … Trump may back legislation requiring a five-year mandatory minimum sentence for traffickers who deal as little as two grams of fentanyl. Currently, you have to deal forty grams to trigger the mandatory five-year sentence.”
-- John Kelly is unlikely to grant Jared Kushner a security clearance waiver but is unlikely to resign if Trump does grant it. Politico’s Eliana Johnson reports: “Trump's ad hoc decision not to intervene in the clearance process on behalf of his son-in-law and senior adviser in effect left both Kelly and Kushner in limbo, prolonging an uncomfortable situation that White House aides say is unlikely to be resolved anytime soon. … [But] The president is hesitant to intervene in the process due to the potential blowback he would suffer in the news media if he gives Kushner a pass[.]”
-- Trump told Fox News that his military parade would most likely occur on Veterans Day. “It would be up and down Pennsylvania Avenue,” Trump said, adding that there would be “a lot of plane flyovers.” (John Wagner)
-- In case you missed it: Warren Buffett said the new tax law has created a $29 billion windfall for his conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway. The gains derive from Republicans’ decision to drop the top corporate rate from 35 percent to 21 percent. (Thomas Heath)
THE DEMOCRATIC CIVIL WAR:
-- “California Democrats snub of party icon Dianne Feinstein could be a speed bump, or a signal,” by the Los Angeles Times’s Seema Mehta and Phil Wilson: “California Democrats overwhelmingly decided not to endorse Sen. Dianne Feinstein this weekend, an embarrassing rebuke of a party icon who has represented California in the Senate for a quarter-century. Nearly two-thirds of the party's delegates voted against backing her campaign for a fifth full term, a reflection of the dissonance between an increasingly liberal state party and the moderation and pragmatism that have been hallmarks of Feinstein's political career. … Feinstein's opponent, state Senate leader Kevin de León of Los Angeles, won 54% of the delegates' votes Saturday, just shy of the 60% needed to secure the endorsement. Feinstein received 37%.
“De León, 51, still faces significant obstacles in his bid to topple a powerful, wealthy incumbent. He trails Feinstein by 29 percentage points in the most recent public poll and started the year with $360,000 compared with Feinstein's $10 million. … Feinstein's longtime political advisor, Bill Carrick, dismissed the significance of the endorsement vote as a beauty contest among party activists who do not represent the broader California electorate.”
-- Dave Weigel explains the convention increases the odds of Democratic-only contests for Senate and governor in November, which will likely suppress down-ballot GOP turnout and may cost Republicans a few House seats: “No serious Republican challenger has emerged to take advantage of the Democratic split; Gary Coson, the one Republican contender who has filed a campaign finance report, had just $130 on hand at the start of the year. In 2016, that system locked Republicans out of a Senate race that was eventually won by Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.). With Trump leading the GOP ticket and no marquee race down the ballot, Democrats swamped Republicans that year, retaining a supermajority in the state legislature and carrying Orange County for the first time since the 1930s. This helped Hillary Clinton carry several House districts once comfortably won by Republicans and nudged two of them into retirement.”
-- Moderate Democrat Daniel Lipinski (Ill.) is feeling the heat of the “resistance” with a primary challenge. Weigel writes from Chicago: “Lipinski, one of the last antiabortion Democrats in the House, and one of only a few to oppose the Affordable Care Act, was confronting many of the voters who want to oust him [at a recent forum]. Working with them are a number of liberal groups that have tried and failed to beat Lipinski in the past, but that are now piling into his suburban Chicago district, trying not just to replace him, but also to send a message about who should and shouldn’t represent the Democratic Party. … For months, Democrats looked at [Lipinski’s challenger, Marie Newman,] and saw yet another candidate who would probably come up short. … That changed last month, after local Democrats saw polling that found Newman gaining on the incumbent.”
-- And the DCCC has still declined to endorse Lipinski’s reelection, causing tension among House Democrats. Politico’s Heather Caygle reports: “The DCCC’s actions, [some Democrats] argued, could have a chilling effect on current members and potential candidates who don't line up with the progressive purity test liberals are pushing.”
-- Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a likely 2020 hopeful, is leading a “concerted campaign” to tackle the “Pocahontas” label conferred on her by Trump, writes Politico’s Gabriel Debenedetti. “Warren has met with close to a dozen tribal leaders and prominent activists recently. She has also signed onto at least six bills directly related to Native American policy. It’s clearly an organized effort: Four of those co-sponsorships came within two days of her speech [to the National Congress of American Indians], and Warren endorsed two bills around that time even though they’d been introduced months earlier. … The aim is to neutralize what’s seen as an Achilles' heel for a potential national bid, turning wary activists into allies.”
-- Possible 2020 contender and LA Mayor Eric Garcetti visited the early-primary state of South Carolina. From the Post and Courier’s Jamie Lovegrove: “He stopped by a Waffle House in Mauldin. He autographed baseballs. He roused a diverse crowd in the Democratic stronghold of lower Richland County. He toured an automotive research center at Clemson University wearing a tiger paw lapel pin. He raised more than $30,000 for local Democrats and met with many of the state party's most influential movers and shakers. If only he had kissed a few babies' foreheads, the White House ambitions would have risen beyond doubt.”
- Dead giveaway quote: “I think,” Garcetti said, “this is the first of many visits to South Carolina for me.”
THERE'S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:
-- The White House legal team is trying to keep any interview of Trump by special counsel Robert Mueller's team as “limited” in scope as possible to reduce the odds the president perjures himself. The Wall Street Journal’s Peter Nicholas reports: “Mr. Trump’s legal team is weighing options that include providing written answers to Mr. Mueller’s questions and having the president give limited face-to-face testimony ... Lawyers for Mr. Trump hold different views on whether he should testify and under what conditions. One member of the Trump legal team said Sunday that Mr. Trump’s testimony could set a bad precedent for future presidents, eroding their powers. ... If Mr. Trump’s legal team offers an interview under specific terms, it is unclear whether Mr. Mueller would agree.”
-- “In Watergate, 69 people ended up being charged and 48 pleaded guilty or were found guilty at trial. Mueller has already brought charges against 19,” Garrett M. Graff notes in a piece for Wired.
-- Where did Trump lawyer Michael Cohen go? The Daily Beast’s Brandy Zadrozny and Asawin Suebsaeng write: “For over a decade, Cohen was Trump’s right-hand man and the two rarely spent much time away from their offices on the 26th floor of Trump Tower. But the presidency has changed things, creating a rare and growing distance between these kindred spirits. … [Cohen] said that his lawyer suggested the separation continue until Cohen complied with an invitation for any information and testimony he might provide to congressional investigators looking into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. …
“It’s his unshakable devotion coupled with this tendency to be creative with his construction of the truth that has some Trump insiders concerned about the prospect of Cohen potentially being ensnared in Mueller’s investigation[.] … If Mueller’s team wants to know what was happening inside Trump Tower or Donald Trump’s mind in the run-up to the election — and they clearly do — talking to Michael Cohen would be smart. Few other people outside of Trump’s own family, after all, have spent as much time with the president.”
-- ICYMI: The Democratic response to the Devin Nunes memo was finally released Saturday night after Trump delayed its release for weeks. “There’s not much new in it — but it did reconfirm some reported information, and there are some new components,” Philip Bump writes.
- “The investigation into whether Trump’s campaign was aiding Russian interference began July 31, 2016 ... four days after Trump publicly asked Russian hackers during a news conference to release emails stolen from [Hillary] Clinton’s private server if they had them.”
- “The Democratic memo says the information compiled by [Christopher] Steele into his infamous ‘dossier’ … didn’t get to the FBI’s counterintelligence team until the middle of September." We can conclude that by that point the FBI had already opened investigations into four members of Trump’s campaign team: Carter Page, George Papadopoulos, Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn.
- Some of Steele’s research was also corroborated by the FBI after the initial warrant.
- “The initial warrant application for Page and the three renewals of it were approved by Republican-appointed judges.”
-- Read the full memo with annotations from Amber Phillips here.
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) embraced possible talks with North Korea – with a caveat:
If #NorthKorea's offer is genuine, we should agree to talks. But make no mistake, Kim Yong Chol is responsible for the deaths of scores of South Koreans and multiple cyberattacks.https://t.co/Y7P0HGlJCu— Ed Markey (@SenMarkey) February 25, 2018
Markey's Democratic colleague from Hawaii added this warning:
Still no nominee for Ambassador to South Korea. At this point I cannot think of a more important vacancy.— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) February 26, 2018
Obama's former ethics czar assessed the Democrats' memo on FBI surveillance:
Have now read and analyzed Nunes & Schiff memos. Can come to only 1 conclusion: Nunes, GOP leaders, & Trump intentionally lied 2hurt FBI & USA and benefit Russia. That is unlike anything we have seen—far worse than McCarthy or Nixon, who were not aiding our foreign adversaries— Norm Eisen (@NormEisen) February 25, 2018
Obama's former NSC spokesman critiqued Trump's legal team's logic for avoiding a Mueller interview:
Love this argument from Trump's lawyers about why he shouldn't testify. Can't interrupt Executive Time. Who would live tweet Fox and Friends? pic.twitter.com/KZ8roQ0d63— Tommy Vietor (@TVietor08) February 26, 2018
A former Obama speechwriter replied:
For me, this comes in a close 2nd to their other argument: Trump can’t sit for an interview with Mueller because he might commit a federal crime during it. https://t.co/ehtqL8ARwJ— Jon Favreau (@jonfavs) February 26, 2018
A Post columnist expressed this hope for social media amid the push to crack down on bots:
I wish @Twitter would just give everybody an easy way to verify their identity and then give us an easy way to filter out those who won't. The whole platform would be a nicer, safer, better place to hang out.— Josh Rogin (@joshrogin) February 25, 2018
CNN's Jake Tapper wished this tweet a happy second anniversary:
Mitt Romney, who was one of the dumbest and worst candidates in the history of Republican politics, is now pushing me on tax returns. Dope!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 25, 2016
A reporter for The Post questioned one of Trump's claims about a military parade:
The Post's fact-checker commented on reports that Trump may name his personal pilot head of the FAA:
Previous FAA administrators were four-star admirals, ran aircraft manufacturers, airports, pilots union, etc. https://t.co/roUFYregFS— Glenn Kessler (@GlennKesslerWP) February 25, 2018
A former congressman mourned the loss of his father:
Today we laid to rest my dear father, Rev. Lawson E. Jolly Jr., into the loving arms of our God.— David Jolly (@DavidJollyFL) February 25, 2018
I once saw a hand-written note he kept on his desk that read, "Who can I encourage today?"
Encourage someone today. It could change a life, and it will honor a most remarkable man. pic.twitter.com/8qvb2Fhu6d
A former secretary of state marked an important anniversary:
70 years ago today a communist coup destroyed democracy in my native Czechoslovakia. The coup forced my family into exile, and months later we were welcomed as refugees in the USA. Ever since I’ve been a grateful American, and I’ve learned to never take democracy for granted.— Madeleine Albright (@madeleine) February 25, 2018
The conclusion of the Olympics turned up a 2014 Trump tweet:
Two American Olympians had very different reactions to Ivanka Trump's presence at the closing ceremonies:
It’s important to remember that we don’t have to agree on everything to get along, be civil to each other and enjoy each others company. #itsforamerica it was a pleasure to meet you both! pic.twitter.com/bEkenz3EF5— Lauren Gibbs (@lagibbs84) February 25, 2018
So proud of all these people! Everybody here has worked so hard to make it to the Olympics and have the opportunity to walk in the closing ceremony! Well... Everyone except Ivanka. Honestly, tf is she doing here?? pic.twitter.com/sfJKi0VTDb— Gus Kenworthy (@guskenworthy) February 25, 2018
The Wall Street Journal's Seoul bureau chief announced a career change:
And now for some personal news: After much introspection and reflection, I've decided to retire as WSJ curling correspondent to focus on my duties writing about Korean denuclearization issues, effective immediately.— Jonathan Cheng (@JChengWSJ) February 26, 2018
And Team USA's Olympic gold medalists received this negative response from Delta Airlines, making them more relatable than ever:
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
-- Vanity Fair, “Emerging from ‘the House of Gaslight’ in the Age of #MeToo,” by Monica Lewinsky: “The reason this is difficult is that I’ve lived for such a long time in the House of Gaslight, clinging to my experiences as they unfolded in my 20s and railing against the untruths that painted me as an unstable stalker and Servicer in Chief. … I now see how problematic it was that the two of us even got to a place where there was a question of consent. Instead, the road that led there was littered with inappropriate abuse of authority, station, and privilege. … But I know one thing for certain: part of what has allowed me to shift is knowing I’m not alone anymore. And for that I am grateful.”
-- New York Times, “Behind a Key Anti-Labor Case, a Web of Conservative Donors,” by Noam Scheiber and Kenneth P. Vogel: “In the summer of 2016, government workers in Illinois received a mailing that offered them tips on how to leave their union. By paying a so-called fair-share fee instead of standard union dues, the mailing said, they would no longer be bound by union rules and could not be punished for refusing to strike. … The mailing, sent by a group called the Illinois Policy Institute, may have seemed like disinterested advice. In fact, it was one prong of a broader campaign against public-sector unions, backed by some of the biggest donors on the right. It is an effort that will reach its apex on Monday, when the Supreme Court hears a case that could cripple public-sector unions by allowing the workers they represent to avoid paying fees.”
HOT ON THE LEFT:
“Former stripper who filmed lovers seeks pardon from Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens,” from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “A former law student and male stripper prosecuted for invasion of privacy for secretly filming sex partners two decades ago is now seeking a pardon from Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, indicted under the same criminal statute last week. A letter sent Sunday to a lawyer for Greitens cites Greitens’ own motion to dismiss his case and his ‘published position on this statute,’ and requests that the lawyer forward the request. … The pardon request, sent by lawyer Albert Watkins, is on behalf of Paul Henreid, of Walnut Creek, Calif., who is a documentary filmmaker and lawyer. Watkins … said in a news release that it would be ‘mighty hypocritical’ for Greitens to reject the request given Greitens’ dismissal motion.” “What’s good for the governor should be good for the gander,” Watkins said.
HOT ON THE RIGHT
“Luther Strange makes play to return to D.C.,” from Politico: “Voters sent Luther Strange back to Alabama last year, but the former senator is quietly plotting a return to Washington. Strange, who had been appointed to the seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions but was defeated by Roy Moore in the Republican primary in September, has been on the hunt for a job in Washington over the past few weeks, according to three people familiar with his plans. He’s been sounding out professional contacts, and weighing whether he can get a job at a federal agency or set up his own consulting shop. Those close to him say he’s increasingly likely to land at a law firm, where he’ll split his time between Alabama and D.C. … While he is not expected to land a job in the administration in the near future, some White House aides have nonetheless been eyeing him for a position.”
Trump will host a business session with a group of governors. He will later have lunch with Pence, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. He also has two meetings with credit union representatives and House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady.
This evening Pence and the second lady will participate in the Indiana Society of Washington’s “Tribute to a Hoosier Vice President and Second Lady.”
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“Ooh, freedom, I’ve been emancipated,” Omarosa Manigault said of her recent exit from the Trump White House. “I feel like I just got freed off of a plantation.” She also expressed interest in writing a tell-all book about her experiences with the president. (Vulture)
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- It will be cloudy with highs in the 50s today. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Look out for patchy fog early on. The wedge of cool, cloudy air that refused to relent this weekend may linger into the afternoon, especially near and east of Interstate 95. Skies should brighten enough to push temperatures to near 50 — maybe low-to-mid 50s where sunshine emerges.”
-- The Wizards beat the Sixers 109-94. (Candace Buckner)
-- A monument to Chile’s Orlando Letelier was unveiled on Massachusetts Avenue. Letelier was killed in a 1976 car bombing after Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet ordered his assassination, a tragedy that became a rallying cry for human rights advocates. (Michael Laris)
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
John Oliver announced his candidacy to become Italy’s next prime minister:
Teachers responded to Trump's suggestion that they arm themselves with a viral social media campaign:
The Post compared the Trump administration's Harvest Box, a proposal to replace food stamps, with Blue Apron:
These American Olympians made history:
And a D.C. speed camera met its end: