with Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve

With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve.

THE BIG IDEA: 

Deploying the National Guard to defend the border with Mexico while instructing the military to prepare to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria and starting a trade war with China are entirely consistent with the “America First” creed that President Trump laid out as a candidate.

Anyone shocked by Trump’s most recent moves on foreign policy, trade and immigration either wasn’t paying attention during the 2016 campaign, has a short-term memory or selectively listened to hear what they wanted to hear.

The press was criticized after the election for taking Trump literally but not seriously, whereas his supporters took him seriously but not literally. Once again, it turns out Trump should have been taken literally. He’s repeatedly tried to follow through on promises that most mainstream Republicans found objectionable three long years ago, starting with the travel ban he announced soon after taking office.

-- His push to withdraw the 2,000 U.S. troops who are in Syria as soon as possible dovetails with the president’s long-expressed aversion to nation building. He has told military leaders that he wants Arab allies to take over and pay for stabilizing and reconstructing areas liberated from the Islamic State. “In a meeting with top national security aides Tuesday, Trump backtracked on his public insistence that the troop exit was imminent, now that the militants were ‘close to 100 percent’ defeated,” Karen DeYoung and Shane Harris report. “Pressed by the president to tell him how much more time they needed to finish the job, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph F. Dunford Jr. said it would probably be months, not years … Trump agreed that the military … could train local security forces. But officials said he stressed that U.S. strategic goals in Syria do not include longer-term stability or reconstruction efforts. He said he did not want to be having the same conversation about withdrawal six months or more from now.”

-- After he reluctantly agreed to escalate the war in Afghanistan, some analysts presumed that Trump didn’t necessarily mean his isolationist rhetoric about spheres of influence. Privately, though, the president has bristled at being pushed toward the traditional Washington consensus on the importance of the alliances that have benefited the United States so much since World War II. He may have signed off on more support for the Ukrainian government against Russian-backed separatists, but he’s told aides that he does not see this as America’s fight. Trump has also made clear that he doesn’t see the promotion of democracy and human rights as a primary goal of American foreign policy.

The president now seems more intent on getting out of the Iranian nuclear deal than at any time during his 15 months in office. Most diplomats now see it as almost inevitable that Trump will scuttle the multilateral agreement with Tehran, just as he did the Paris climate accord. The Associated Press reports that U.S. officials have “started actively planning for the likelihood” that “Trump will announce next month that the U.S. is withdrawing.”

-- The tariffs that have rattled the markets and upset congressional conservatives followed decades of protectionist harangues. Trump’s steadfast belief that the country is hurt more than helped by trade deals is as close to a core conviction as almost anything else he has espoused.

-- As some of the so-called “adults in the room” leave the administration — including Army Gen. H.R. McMaster, former Goldman Sachs president Gary Cohn and former ExxonMobil chief executive Rex Tillerson — the president feels increasingly liberated to pursue his personal outlook.

-- “Aides say Trump is more confident in his job than at any other point in his 14 months as president and feels empowered to act upon things he has long wanted to do,” Michael Scherer, Josh Dawsey and Philip Rucker report in today’s paper. “He has been frustrated by the slow pace of governing, they said, and is seizing opportunities now to take action and see immediate results, as he did when he ran his real estate and branding empire in New York. … Trump has often reminded aides about what he said on the campaign trail — and the crowds that came to hear it. … “Several people who have spoken to the president say he is telling advisers that he is finally expediting the policies that got him elected and is more comfortable without a number of aides around him who were tempering his instincts. And he often cites rising poll numbers in recent weeks as a reason he should do it his own way.”

-- But pursuing policies he was dissuaded from last year by cautious ex-advisers, Trump is discovering that concepts he once described as easy fixes are a lot more complicated.

In June 2016, Trump promised to slap tariffs on Chinese products. “This is very easy,” he said at the time. “This is so easy!”

Discussing the exact same issue at the White House on Monday, Trump declared: “Nothing is easy.”

-- Despite their best efforts, the wranglers on the White House staff have been unable to block Trump from going Bulworth. “Trump spent nearly three minutes at a luncheon this week welcoming the presidents of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania — whose difficult-to-pronounce names he never uttered publicly — and saying he should be given ‘credit’ for pressuring countries like theirs to give more money to NATO,” Jenna Johnson writes in a colorful scene piece. “As he concluded, White House staffers began to shepherd a small group of journalists out of the room — but Trump was far from done sharing his complaints. As reporters shouted questions about the plunging stock market and the brewing trade war with China, Trump quickly engaged. … Over the next 15 minutes, White House staffers would try at least a half dozen more times to move reporters out of the room, only to have the president stop them with another gripe or plea for credit.”

-- The recent shake-ups are also empowering and elevating shadowy figures like Erik Prince, who has spent the past decade in the wilderness after all the Blackwater scandals. “He spent $250,000 to help get Trump elected; his sister Betsy DeVos now serves as Trump's secretary of education; and when Prince pitched a plan to privatize the war in Afghanistan last year, the White House took him seriously,” Forbes’s Noah Kirsch writes in a new piece. “He actually had the most cogent argument, much more than the guys who were 'stay the course,’” former Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon told the magazine. “One major impediment to his privatization concept was national security advisor H.R. McMaster … Bolton's selection, particularly, is ‘going to take us in a really positive direction,’ a source close to Prince [said]. ‘Do the math.’ The assumption, of course: Prince would reap a big cut of the action.”

TROOPS TO THE BORDER:

-- “Administration officials on Wednesday disclosed few specifics about the planned deployment — such as how many troops will be sent to the border, how long they will be stationed there and what their tasks will be — citing ongoing discussions with the states,” Seung Min Kim reports. “Trump’s strategy will require cooperation with border-state governors who oversee their respective National Guard operations, giving them considerable power over the scope of the administration’s deployment plans.” Texas applauded the announcement. California was noncommittal about deploying its guard.

Reality check:In recent years, however, the number of people crossing illegally into the country has plummeted and is at its lowest level since 1971. Still, there are signs the numbers could rise. Statistics released Wednesday by the Department of Homeland Security showed that border agents apprehended about 50,300 people in March, a steep increase from March 2017, when that figure was about 16,600.”

-- Trump took credit for the drop in crossings this morning:

-- How it’s playing: The mainstream media is casting skepticism on the move and describing it as hasty. Border-state papers are focusing on how local politicians are responding. Conservative outlets like Breitbart are praising Trump after castigating him for not securing wall funding in the omnibus. Here’s a taste of this morning’s headlines:

  • New York Times: “‘All It Takes Is One Mistake’: Worries Over Plan to Send National Guard to Border.”
  • NBC News: “Trump sending National Guard troops to Mexico border, but they won't have contact with immigrants.”
  • Reuters: “Trump, stymied on wall, to send troops to U.S.-Mexico border.”
  • Alex Horton: “Trump claimed his plan to put troops on the border is extraordinary. It was routine for Obama.”
  • Los Angeles Times: “White House makes hasty plan to send National Guard to border, leaving mission and duration unclear.”
  • Houston Chronicle: “A point of crisis': Trump directs troops deployed to border.”
  • Long Island (N.Y.) Newsday: “Reality checks Trump’s border plans.”
  • Austin (Tex.) American Statesman: “Gov. Abbott welcomes Trump plan to send National Guard to Texas border.”
  • Stars and Stripes: “Trump orders National Guard to southern US border to bolster security.”
  • Quartz: “Trump picked an odd time to send troops to the US-Mexico border.”
  • Vox: “Trump is mobilizing the National Guard to the US-Mexico border for literally no good reason.”
  • Las Cruces (N.M.) Sun News: “Martinez offers support of New Mexico National Guard to secure border.”
  • McClatchy: “Send National Guard to border? California is undecided.”
  • Tucson (Ariz.) Sentinel: “'Time we get serious’: Az ranchers support Trump’s move to militarize border.”
  • Reuters: “Migrants at U.S.-Mexico border say Trump's tough talk will not deter them.”
  • Breitbart: “Trump’s Border Plan: Beyond Military Deployment, ‘Catch and Release’ Could Be Unilaterally Ended.”
  • Huntsville (Ala.) Times: “Mo Brooks backs Trump's use of troops on Mexican border.”
  • Raleigh (N.C.) News & Observer: “How will President Trump's border security plan affect the North Carolina National Guard?”
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WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

-- Ahead of today’s home opener, Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo has agreed to a contract extension through the 2020 season. “In a move that showed nearly unprecedented awareness of optics, and turned a spring of internal unrest into a newfound sense of stability, the Nationals signed Rizzo to a two-year extension that will keep him with the team through 2020,” Chelsea Janes reports. “His contract was set to expire on Oct. 31. The World Series is scheduled to end a few days after that.Rizzo is the fifth-longest tenured general manager in the majors. He is one of the last of a dying baseball breed, a general manager who got that job without the trappings of an Ivy League education, his resume built instead on long hours on the scouting trail and a hard-luck minor league career.” Today’s game against the Mets starts at 1:05 p.m. Hope to see you there!

GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. Police confirmed YouTube shooting suspect Nasim Najafi Aghdam appeared to be motivated by anger at the company. “There’s absolutely no link or relationship that we’ve identified between our suspect and anybody who was at the scene at the time of the incident,” said San Bruno police chief Ed Barberini. (Mark Berman)
  2. Four crew members are presumed dead after a U.S. Marine Corps helicopter crashed in Southern California. Authorities have not yet released the names of those aboard. The cause of the crash is under investigation. (Allyson Chiu)
  3. ICE is seeking to deport a Chinese immigrant who was honorably discharged from the military, defying a directive from Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Following his completion of basic training, Xilong Zhu, 27, was detained by ICE officials after he was swept up in an immigration dragnet involving fake student visas. (Alex Horton)
  4. The ex-fiancee of a prominent GOP campaign strategist accused him of sexually enslaving her. The woman showed proof of a signed contract outlining her duties as a “slave in training” to Benjamin Sparks, who worked on a number of Republican campaigns, including Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential bid. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
  5. The House Ethics Committee said it will continue to investigate whether Rep. John J. Duncan Jr. (R-Tenn.) misused campaign funds. More than $100,000 was spent on personal expenses, but lawyers for Duncan — who has already said he won’t seek reelection — said any wrongdoing was committed without the congressman’s knowledge. (Elise Viebeck)
  6. Bill O’Reilly’s settlement with former Fox News producer Andrea Mackris required her to dismiss any evidence of harassment “as counterfeit or forgeries” if it became public. The first details of O’Reilly’s settlements are emerging after a judge denied his request to keep them sealed amid a defamation lawsuit from three of his accusers. (CNN)
  7. Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani and his wife Judith are divorcing. The pair have been together for 15 years. (Page Six)
  8. The FDA commissioner asked for Internet providers’ help in cracking down on illegal online listings for opioids. A recent congressional investigation concluded those searching for fentanyl could easily find the drug online, pay for it using cryptocurrency and receive it through the mail. (Lenny Bernstein and Elizabeth Dwoskin)
  9. Anthony Borges, who shielded his classmates during the Parkland shooting, was released from the hospital. The 15-year-old was shot five times and is the last of the shooting’s wounded survivors to return home. An attorney for the family said he will need physical therapy and possibly treatment for PTSD. (Lindsey Bever)
  10. The Virginia cyclist who was fired after flipping off Trump’s motorcade is suing her former employer. “I filed this lawsuit against my former employer today because I believe that Americans should not be forced to choose between their principles and their paychecks,” Juli Briskman said. (Petula Dvorak)
  11. Gang of Four, a British post-punk rock band, is featuring Ivanka Trump on the cover of a new album dubbed “Complicit.” The second song is called “Ivanka (Things You Can't Have)." (Kyle Swenson)
  12. Two sisters with obsessive-compulsive disorder died in an apparent suicide pact. Identical twins Sara and Amanda Eldritch underwent groundbreaking surgery three years ago to try to address their mental illness, but they “finally succumbed to this insidious disease,” their mother wrote on a GoFundMe page. (Samantha Schmidt)

FACEBOOK FALLOUT:

-- Facebook acknowledged most of its 2 billion users were affected by “malicious actors” using the platform’s search tools to scrape users' personal information. Craig Timberg, Tony Romm and Elizabeth Dwoskin report: “The revelation came amid rising acknowledgment by Facebook about its struggles to control the data it gathers on users. Among the announcements Wednesday was that Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy hired by President Trump and other Republicans, had improperly gathered detailed Facebook information on 87 million people, of whom 71 million were Americans. But the abuse of Facebook’s search tools — now disabled — happened far more broadly and over the course of several years, with few Facebook users likely escaping the scam, company officials acknowledged. … Facebook didn’t disclose who the malicious actors are, how the data might have been used, or exactly how many people were affected.”

How it worked: “The scam started when malicious hackers harvested email addresses and phone numbers on the so-called ‘Dark Web,’ where criminals post information stolen from data breaches over the years. Then the hackers used automated computer programs to feed the numbers and addresses into Facebook’s ‘search’ box, allowing them to discover the full names of people affiliated with the phone numbers or addresses, along with whatever Facebook profile information they chose to make public, often including their profile photos and hometown ...

“Hackers also abused Facebook’s account recovery function, by pretending to be legitimate users who had forgotten account details. Facebook’s recovery system served up names, profile pictures and links to the public profiles themselves. … Names, phone numbers, email addresses and other personal information amount to critical starter kits for identity theft and other malicious online activity, experts on Internet crime say. The Facebook hack allowed bad actors to tie raw data to people’s real identities and build fuller profiles of them.”

--  The reckoning: Mark Zuckerberg has agreed to appear at a joint hearing of the Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees next Tuesday and before the House Energy and Commerce Committee next Wednesday. 

-- The Facebook founder admitted to a “huge mistake” in failing to consider how his platform could be abused by bad actors but has no plans to step down. “I started this place, I run it, I am responsible for what happens here,” Zuckerberg said. “I’m not looking to throw anyone under the bus for mistakes that we made here.” And: “It’s clear now we didn’t focus enough on abuse,” Zuckerberg said. “We didn’t take a broad enough view in what our responsibility is ... That was a huge mistake, that was my mistake.” (Fortune)

-- Another data breach: Panera Bread acknowledged users of its loyalty program may have had their data hacked. From Rachel Siegel: “The records belonged to customers who had registered for the MyPanera program to order food online. The details exposed included their names, email and physical addresses, birthdays, and the last four digits of user credit card numbers, according to the security news site KrebsonSecurity ... On Tuesday, Panera estimated that fewer than 10,000 customers had been affected by the leak. KrebsonSecurity put the number at closer to 37 million, though experts say the true number of compromised records may never be fully known.”

-- More details emerged on Cambridge Analytica’s attempts to influence elections — this time in Nigeria. The Guardian’s Carole Cadwalladr reports: “Cambridge Analytica sought to influence the Nigerian presidential election in 2015 by using graphically violent imagery to portray a candidate as a supporter of sharia law who would brutally suppress dissenters and negotiate with militant Islamists, a video passed to British MPs reveals. … [A] former Cambridge Analytica employee who worked on the campaign said: ‘It was voter suppression of the most crude and basic kind. It was targeted at [Muslim candidate Muhammadu Buhari’s] voters in Buhari regions to basically scare the s--- out of them and stop them from voting.’”

THERE’S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:

-- Robert Mueller is pursuing Russian oligarchs for questioning related to possible illegal contributions to Trump’s campaign. CNN’s Kara Scannell and Shimon Prokupecz report: “[Mueller has stopped] at least one [oligarch] and [searched] his electronic devices when his private jet landed at a New York area airport … A second Russian oligarch was stopped during a recent trip to the US, although it is not clear if he was searched … Mueller's team has also made an informal voluntary document and interview request to a third Russian oligarch who has not traveled to the US recently. The situations have one thing in common: Investigators are asking whether wealthy Russians illegally funneled cash donations directly or indirectly into [Trump's] presidential campaign and inauguration.”

-- Meanwhile, the United States is preparing new economic sanctions specifically targeting oligarchs with ties to Vladimir Putin. From John Hudson, Josh Dawsey and Shane Harris: “The final number of Russians facing punitive action remains fluid, [U.S.] officials said, but is expected to include at least a half-dozen people … The United States is expected to target individuals on a list of influential Russian political and business leaders that the Treasury Department released in January, officials said. The United States could also impose sanctions based on powers granted by Congress to target anyone conducting significant business with Russian intelligence and defense sectors.”

-- George Nader, an adviser to the UAE leader who is cooperating with Mueller’s probe, also has connections to Russia. The New York Times’s Mark Mazzetti, David D. Kirkpatrick, Ben Protess and Sharon LaFraniere report: “Mr. Nader used his longstanding ties to Kirill Dmitriev, the manager of a state-run Russian investment fund, to help set up a meeting in the Seychelles between Mr. Dmitriev and a Trump adviser days before [Trump] took office. Separately, investigators have asked witnesses about a meeting Mr. Nader attended in 2017 with a New York hedge fund manager, where he was joined by Jared Kushner and Stephen K. Bannon, who at the time were both senior advisers to Mr. Trump.”

-- Roger Stone predicted “devastating” disclosures about the Clinton Foundation the same day he sent an email claiming he had dined with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski and Gloria Borger report: “Stone's comments in his August 4, 2016, appearance are the earliest known time he claimed to know of forthcoming WikiLeaks documents. … [O]n August 10, 2016, Stone claimed to have ‘actually communicated with Julian Assange.’ … On the August 4, 2016, InfoWars show, Stone described the soon-to-appear WikiLeaks disclosures. He also mentioned that he spoke with then-Republican nominee Donald Trump on August 3 … ”

-- A court document indicates the Justice Department disagrees with Trump’s assertion that collusion is “not a crime.” The brief outlines how Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein authorized Mueller to investigate whether Manafort “[c]ommitted a crime or crimes by colluding with Russian government officials with respect to the Russian government’s efforts to interfere with the 2016 election for President of the United States, in violation of United States law.” As Jeffrey Toobin explains in the New Yorker, “That statement could not be clearer that Mueller can examine whether a member of the Trump campaign and the Russians were ‘colluding,’ and thus working together ‘in violation of United States law.’ In other words, according to Rosenstein, collusion would be a crime.”

-- House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) has requested the original document outlining the FBI’s rationale for opening the Russia investigation. From the Hill’s Josh Delk: “His deadline for the DOJ and FBI to provide the unredacted document is April 11. In a letter sent Wednesday to [Rosenstein] and FBI Director Christopher Wray, Nunes threatened to take legal action if the agencies do not comply, noting that the committee issued subpoenas in August that ‘remain in force.’ According to Nunes, the previous response to his request was a ‘heavily redacted version’ of the document, which Nunes called ‘unsatisfactory.’”

-- Paul Manafort’s attorneys asked a federal judge to bar Mueller from bringing future charges against Trump’s former campaign chairman. Spencer S. Hsu reports: “Manafort’s attorneys argue the provision in the May order appointing Mueller is so broad that it violates the department regulation governing the special counsel, which they argued required a ‘specific factual description’ of the matter to be investigated. … U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson of Washington made clear her skepticism as she questioned Manafort attorney Kevin M. Downing. How, she asked, did he expect a court to act against charges that have not yet been brought, and how could he know that Manafort would be prosecuted lawfully or unlawfully? ‘You have to wait until the harm is crystallized,’ Jackson said at one point.”

--The bigger picture: Mueller is relying on his link to Rosenstein and the DOJ to justify the scope of his probe. From Charlie Savage in the New York Times: “Mueller’s assertive use of a Trump appointee’s control over his investigation as a shield against Mr. Manafort’s attack was a remarkable moment in the history of recurring tensions over the independence of investigations touching on high-level executive branch officials.”

PRUITT UNDER FIRE:

-- EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt appears not to have maintained a Washington residence for a month after moving out of his lobbyist-linked condo, raising questions about taxpayer-covered expenses for transportation and security. Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis report: “Pruitt ended his housing arrangement with lobbyist Vicki Hart on Aug. 4 ... He then took an extended vacation, according to agency records, during which time officials said that he underwent knee surgery and recuperated at home [in Oklahoma] while receiving staff briefings. … Environmental Integrity Project Executive Director Eric Schaeffer said Pruitt’s month away from Washington last August raises additional cost and transparency questions. ‘Since Mr. Pruitt has insisted on round-the-clock protection, every day he spends in Oklahoma means taxpayers are covering hotel and food bills for his security detail,’ Schaeffer said.”

In an interview with The Post, Pruitt said the latest inquiries about his housing situation demonstrate “how crazy” the controversy surrounding him has become. “It was during recess, while the president was in Mar-a-Lago, etcetera. And so I scheduled this [surgery]. I had complications. I had physical therapy,” Pruitt said. “The next thing … is going to be, ‘Do you like brown shoes or black shoes?’ So, it gets frustrating.” He added the recent scrutiny is an attempted “distraction” from the reforms he has achieved at the EPA.

-- The EPA’s top ethics watchdog stated he didn't have all of the facts on Pruitt’s housing arrangement when he seemed to clear the administrator of wrongdoing. From CNN’s Cristina Alesci: “Last week, Designated Agency Ethics Official Kevin Minoli determined that Pruitt's rental was within federal ethics regulations regarding gifts … His conclusion was based on the assumption that Pruitt followed the lease terms as written. The new document makes clear that the old opinion doesn't cover facts that were excluded from the legal contract between Pruitt and the landlord. ‘Some have raised questions whether the actual use of the space was consistent with the terms of the lease. Evaluating those questions would have required factual information that was not before us and the Review does not address those questions,’ Minoli wrote.”

-- White House Chief of Staff John Kelly called Pruitt earlier this week to determine what else might be out there, according to the Daily Beast’s Asawin Suebsaeng and Lachlan Markay. “The chief of staff then impressed upon Pruitt that, though he has the full public confidence of President Trump for now, the flow of negative and damning stories needed to stop soon, as one source briefed on the contents of the call described. … Shortly thereafter, The Atlantic reported that Pruitt had defied the White House and directed his staff to give raises to a pair of employees … Kelly and other senior White House officials were blindsided by major details in The Atlantic’s article, left frustrated and wondering if Pruitt and the EPA still weren’t conveying damaging news to the West Wing.”

-- Pruitt claimed in a Fox News interview he just found out about the staffers' raises and had already acted to undo them. “My staff and I found out about it yesterday and I changed it,” Pruitt said, claiming he did not know who had authorized the raises. Fox News’s Ed Henry then pressed Pruitt on his controversial [housing] agreement. Henry asked, “Is draining the swamp, renting an apartment from the wife of a Washington lobbyist?” Pruitt said, “I don’t think that that’s even remotely fair to ask that question.”

MORE PALACE INTRIGUE:

-- An internal Education Department report shows that Secretary Betsy DeVos inquired about prosecuting employees who leaked information to news outlets. Valerie Strauss reports: “The response: It would be challenging, because the department has ‘little’ written policy or guidance on how employees are supposed to handle information. … The author of the report, Assistant Inspector General for Investigations Aaron R. Jordan, recommended the department establish policies to address unauthorized release of information and that it train employees on the protection and marking of ‘controlled unclassified information.’ … In a footnote, however, he added that any new policies should ‘take into consideration whistleblower rights and protections.’”

-- Rex Tillerson’s departure from the State Department has left his planned redesign of the agency with a murky future and a huge price tag. Politico’s Nahal Toosi reports: “[A]round $12 million dollars [were] spent just for private consultants who in some cases charged the State Department more than $300 an hour. … Most of the money has gone to the consulting firm Deloitte as part of a pre-existing federal contract whose ceiling was lifted to $265 million, an indication of the redesign’s ambitions. As many as 90 consultants worked on the project, according to one document. Many of the consultants have spent extensive time at the State Department, meeting with top officials, collecting and analyzing data, creating PowerPoint presentations and leading group discussions with skeptical employees.”

-- Incoming national security adviser John Bolton has been meeting with White House lawyers about possible ethics concerns. CNBC’s Brian Schwartz reports: “The exact sticking points for Bolton are unclear, but ethics experts say the appearance of a possible future role for Bolton with an entity such as a political action committee could be a cause for concern for White House officials. Bolton's PAC and super PAC, which are no longer receiving or spending capital, have been financial players in the early going of the midterm election cycle.” Bolton is slated to start work on Monday.

THE MIDTERMS:

-- Mitch McConnell predicted a difficult November for Republicans, saying he didn’t know whether it would be a “Category 3, 4 or 5” storm. From Sean Sullivan: “McConnell raised the possibility that Republicans will lose their House majority. In doing so, he offered a potential argument Republican Senate candidates could use on the campaign trail. ‘I’m hoping we can hold the Senate,’ he said, ‘and the principal reason for that, even if we were to lose the House and be stymied legislatively, we could still approve appointments, which is a huge part of what we do.’” Read: The Senate approves judges so conservatives had better turnout in November.

-- The tariffs could hurt the GOP’s chances of picking up a Senate seat in Ohio. Erica Werner reports from Akron: “Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown is running for reelection partly by touting his support for the president’s aggressive trade strategy and trumpeting his longtime opposition to the North American Free Trade Agreement and other trade deals Trump rails against. … For Brown’s likely Republican opponent, Rep. James B. Renacci, Trump’s trade moves are a growing political headache, forcing the candidate to explain his own past support for trade pacts and his concerns about the tariffs. … Similar upside-down trade politics could emerge in House races, too, in districts from California to Washington state to Michigan.”

-- More bad signs for the GOP: High turnout rates from Wisconsin’s bluest county powered the victory of liberal Judge Rebecca Dallet in the state’s Supreme Court race, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Craig Gilbert writes. “Dane, the state’s fastest-growing and ‘bluest’ county, showed once again it is on fire politically, galvanized in opposition to Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Republican [Trump]. The county turned out a rate 50% higher than the state as a whole. And it voted 4 to 1 — 81% to 19% — for [Dallet] over the more conservative [candidate], Michael Screnock.”

-- Meanwhile, Paul Ryan has a “circus” on his hands as he faces challengers from the right and the left at home. The New York Times’s Sheryl Gay Stolberg writes: “A Democrat, [Randy Bryce] has become a liberal media darling of sorts, as he seeks to do the unthinkable: unseat Mr. Ryan in Wisconsin’s First Congressional District this fall. … And on the right, Republicans are confronting an embarrassing spectacle: A white nationalist and anti-Semite, Paul Nehlen, who lost to Mr. Ryan by 68 points in the 2016 Republican primary, is running again, this time flaunting his bigotry to gain a national following. … But in an election cycle when Democrats have scored victories in places like Virginia, southwestern Pennsylvania and even deep-red Alabama, some analysts say it would be a mistake for the speaker to coast, especially against Mr. Bryce, who has captured the attention of Washington and Hollywood and had raised $4.75 million by the end of March … ”

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

There was confusion over this Trump trade tweet:

From a Post economic policy reporter:

A CNN correspondent joked:

From a CNBC correspondent:

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) criticized Trump's latest immigration move:

From a reporter for the Hill:

The Trump administration muddled its foreign policy, per an NBC News reporter:

An Atlantic contributor framed the Syria news in terms of Russia:

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) sought answers from Sinclair Broadcast Group:

Lawmakers recognized the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination. From a civil rights icon:

From Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.):

From Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.):

From Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.):

Bernie Sanders went to Memphis, the site of the assassination:

The president shared a video message honoring King:

But a #NeverTrump GOP strategist took issue with Trump's message:

A former senior adviser to Obama also went after the House speaker for his tweet about the anniversary:

A Democratic commentator tweeted this hours earlier:

The president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund replied:

GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:

-- New York Times, “‘It Has to Be Perfect’: Putting Out a Yearbook After the Parkland Shooting,” by Patricia Mazzei and Sam Hodgson: “At Stoneman Douglas High, where a former student is accused of killing 17 people in a deadly rampage, editors decided the shooting would not overtake their book. They insisted on preserving a record of the days that came before, the ones filled with the regular markers of high school life: Football games. Club activities. The Sadie Hawkins dance. But they also knew their classmates would keep their book for decades, lugging it with them from dorm rooms to first apartments and showing it to their own children, who would ask about the shooting at Parkland and the lives that had been lost. The book would have to tell that story, too.”

-- BuzzFeed News, “John Kasich Is Framing His 2020 Pitch Around Millennials,” by Henry J. Gomez: “Kasich loves the millennials, a term he uses liberally, seemingly to describe anyone under the age of 40. He sees potential voters who are embarrassed by Trump and open to a responsible conservative who’s moved, as Kasich has in recent months, to the left on gun control in response to deadly mass shootings. Kasich’s new conversation pieces range from HQ, the mobile trivia game, to YouTube celebrity Logan Paul (who entered the wider public consciousness after he filmed a video inside a Japanese ‘suicide forest’). He also wants you to know he listens to Justin Bieber, dropping the pop star’s name too often (a statehouse press conference, a New York Magazine interview, a ride-along with the Weekly Standard) for it to be a coincidence.”

HOT ON THE LEFT

“Oklahoma governor compares striking teachers to a ‘a teenage kid that wants a better car,’” from Moriah Balingit: “Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) is under siege after she compared striking teachers converging on the state Capitol to rally for education funding to ‘a teenage kid that wants a better car.’ Her comments, in response to a question from CBS correspondent Omar Villafranca, came amid a teacher walkout that has closed schools across Oklahoma for hundreds of thousands of students. Teachers began rallying at the Capitol on Monday and have returned each day since. Wednesday, the building was so packed that state troopers shut entrances. ‘Teachers want more,’ Fallin told Villafranca on Tuesday. ‘But it’s kind of like having a teenage kid that wants a better car.’”

 

HOT ON THE RIGHT

“Florida DNC member's wife calls on him to resign after 'colored people' comment,” from the Washington Examiner: “Florida Democratic National Committee member John Parker is being pressured by members of the Florida Black Caucus, and even his own wife, to resign after referring to African-Americans as ‘colored people,’ … Parker, the state committeeman for Duval County, told Politico that he meant to use the phrase ‘people of color’ and misspoke when he said ‘colored people.’ … State Rep. Kim Daniels, a black Democrat from Jacksonville, called on Parker and his wife, Lisa King, who is the chairwoman of the Duval County Democratic Executive Committee, to resign … Following the demands, King released a statement calling for her husband to resign.”

 

DAYBOOK:

Trump will participate in a roundtable discussion on tax cuts in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

John Lewis addressed a crowd in Indianapolis on the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr's death: “I got arrested 40 times during the '60s. And since I've been in Congress, another five times. And I'm probably going to get arrested again for something.”

 

NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:

-- D.C. will see temperature highs in the 50s and gusty winds today. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “A chilly dawn with wind chills in the 20s is slow to warm despite the stronger April sun. By afternoon a few clouds pop up but it is the brisk winds from the northwest that make outings unpleasant. Highs do no better than low-to-mid 50s.”

-- The Nationals lost to the Braves 7-1. (Chelsea Janes)

-- Robert Griffin III signed a one-year contract with the Baltimore Ravens. The former Washington quarterback sat out last season after being released with an injury by the Cleveland Browns. (Cindy Boren and Des Bieler)

-- Maryland lawmakers approved an incentive package worth up to $8.5 billion to lure Amazon’s second headquarters to Montgomery County. Steve Thompson, Ovetta Wiggins and Robert McCartney report: “The 79-to-59 House vote followed a lengthy debate about whether the state should provide such an unprecedented package to one company. The Senate voted 35 to 11 last month to approve the measure. It will now go to Hogan for his signature. … Of the bids that have become public, Maryland’s $8.5 billion package has now surpassed New Jersey’s $7 billion.”

-- Anacostia High’s entire teaching staff walked out of class to protest building conditions. Perry Stein reports: “Teachers said the cafeteria was flooded and no toilets were working when educators arrived at the Southeast Washington school at 8 a.m. Teachers made a last-minute decision to organize a 9:30 a.m. walkout.”

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

Dr. Evil explained to Jimmy Fallon why he had been fired from Trump’s Cabinet:

The Post fact-checked whether construction has actually started on the border wall:

King's family gathered in Atlanta to honor his life

11-year-old Naomi Wadler, who spoke at the March for Our Lives, sat down with Ellen DeGeneres:

A former commissioner repeatedly used the n-word during a city commission meeting in Georgia:

And the cherry blossoms are nearing peak bloom in Washington: