With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve.
THE BIG IDEA:
Every time President Trump threatens to fire Bob Mueller, it gets harder for congressional Republicans to dismiss questions about why they are not protecting the special counsel.
For the better part of a year, GOP lawmakers have tried to straddle the fence — saying Mueller’s investigation should be allowed to run its course while expressing confidence that Trump wouldn’t fire him.
The president’s rage since his personal attorney Michael Cohen’s home, office and hotel room were raided on Monday has made this balancing act harder.
-- This morning, Trump tweeted fresh attacks on Mueller’s probe: “I (we) are .... doing things that nobody thought possible, despite the never ending and corrupt Russia Investigation, which takes tremendous time and focus. No Collusion or Obstruction (other than I fight back), so now they do the Unthinkable, and RAID a lawyers office for information! BAD!” And White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders asserted the president’s prerogative to fire Mueller during her briefing yesterday.
Much of the bad blood with Russia is caused by the Fake & Corrupt Russia Investigation, headed up by the all Democrat loyalists, or people that worked for Obama. Mueller is most conflicted of all (except Rosenstein who signed FISA & Comey letter). No Collusion, so they go crazy!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 11, 2018
-- Separately, a bipartisan group of four senators also announced today that they’ve merged their legislative proposals to allow for a review process if the special counsel is fired. Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) signed onto a combined bill with Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) called the Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act. The measure would codify into law current regulations that say a special counsel can only be fired for “good cause.” There would then be a mechanism by which a special counsel could go to court within 10 days of getting fired to challenge whether his termination was justified. The removal would then be overturned.
“This compromise bipartisan bill helps ensure that special counsels — present or future — have the independence they need to conduct fair and impartial investigations,” Tillis said in a statement. “The integrity and independence of special counsel investigations are vital to reaffirming the American people’s confidence in our nation’s rule of law.”
-- GOP congressional leaders have made clear they don’t plan to bring this legislation up for a vote on the floor. They don’t want to force rank-and-file members to take a tough vote that could put them crosswise with the president or the base voters who love him. They note that Trump would veto the bill anyway, so it would just needlessly antagonize him. They also hint that they’ve received assurances Trump won’t fire Mueller. “I haven’t seen clear indication yet that we needed to pass something to keep him from being removed, because I don’t think that’s going to happen,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said yesterday.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) also said Tuesday that it would be “suicide for the president to want, to talk about firing Mueller,” yet he has refused to schedule a hearing to consider the legislation to protect Mueller. “The less the president said on this whole thing, the better off he would be, the stronger his presidency would be,” Grassley said on the Fox Business Network.
-- Meanwhile, a new group calling itself Republicans for the Rule of Law paid to run a pro-Mueller commercial on “Fox & Friends” in the D.C. media market this morning. That’s the president’s favorite show. Conservative Never Trumper Bill Kristol is a founding director. Watch the 30-second spot here:
-- On the other side, many of Trump’s most fervent supporters and closest friends are ramping up public calls for the special counsel to get the ax. “The Mueller-must-go strain of commentary ballooned after Trump openly considered deposing the special counsel on Monday,” Annie Linskey and Astead Herndon report on the front page of the Boston Globe. “The drumbeat … has grown especially intense on Fox News … ‘I’d fire the SOB in three seconds if it were me,’ opined conservative TV commentator Lou Dobbs of Mueller during a segment … Monday night … Gregg Jarrett, a Fox News legal analyst, went even further, pushing for regime change at the Department of Justice. … ‘Shut it down,’ said Tom Fitton, the president of Judicial Watch, a conservative group that led the push to uncover Hillary Clinton’s State Department e-mails during the 2016 election.”
-- House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) even floated the idea to Laura Ingraham on Fox last night of impeaching Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray. He’s been pushing privately to hold them in contempt if the Justice Department doesn’t turn over documents he wants, so this represents an escalation.
JUST HOW VULNERABLE IS MUELLER?
-- “In early December, President Trump, furious over news reports about a new round of subpoenas from the office of the special counsel … told advisers in no uncertain terms that Mr. Mueller’s investigation had to be shut down,” Maggie Haberman and Michael Schmidt report on the front of today’s New York Times. “The president’s anger was fueled by reports that the subpoenas were for obtaining information about his business dealings with Deutsche Bank, according to interviews with eight White House officials, people close to the president and others familiar with the episode. To Mr. Trump, the subpoenas suggested that Mr. Mueller had expanded the investigation in a way that crossed the ‘red line’ he had set last year …
“In the hours that followed Mr. Trump’s initial anger over the Deutsche Bank reports, his lawyers and advisers worked quickly to learn about the subpoenas, and ultimately were told by Mr. Mueller’s office that the reports were not accurate, leading the president to back down. …“Mr. Trump’s frustrations have tended to flare up in response to developments in the news, especially accounts of appearances of witnesses, whom Mr. Trump feels were unfairly and aggressively approached by investigators. They include his former communications director, Hope Hicks, and his former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski. The venting has usually been dismissed by his advisers, many of whom insist they have come to see the statements less as direct orders than as simply how the president talks, and that he often does not follow up on his outbursts. One former adviser said that people had become conditioned to wait until Mr. Trump had raised an issue at least three times before acting on it.”
-- Trump spent yesterday privately griping about Rosenstein, who personally approved the move to seek a search warrant for Cohen’s records and oversees Mueller’s investigation. “Many in the president’s orbit think Rosenstein’s position is currently the most endangered if the president decides to take action to try to halt the probe,” Ashley Parker, Devlin Barrett, Carol D. Leonnig and Matt Zapotosky report. “[P]eople described Trump as furious and ‘lit up’ by the recent developments, and floating a trial balloon to test the boundaries of trying to halt Mueller’s burgeoning probe. ‘His anger is unabated,’ said a Republican strategist in frequent touch with the White House, who added that the mood there is ‘extremely grim.’
“Someone else in contact with the White House said aides have likened the current atmosphere to two previous crises — when Trump fired [James Comey and Rob Porter] … Alan Dershowitz, a retired Harvard Law School professor whose cable-television commentary has captured Trump’s attention, had dinner Tuesday at the White House with the president, son-in-law Jared Kushner and a handful of other advisers. Reached by phone following the dinner, Dershowitz said he was there to advise Trump on Middle East policy and the conflict in Syria. Asked whether they discussed the Russia investigation, Dershowitz would not say.”
Trump’s decision to cancel his trip to Latin America this week “further inflamed the anxiety of aides, who worry about the president stewing in Washington … as Comey gives his first interview to ABC News on Sunday evening as part of a planned book tour launch. ‘I think it’s going to get gnarly this weekend,’ said a Republican strategist in frequent touch with the White House.”
-- “Multiple people familiar with the discussions” told CNN that Trump is considering firing Rosenstein. From a story with six bylines: “This is one of several options — including going so far as to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions — Trump is weighing … Officials say if Trump acts, Rosenstein is his most likely target, but it's unclear whether even such a dramatic firing like this would be enough to satisfy the President. … A senior administration official said the White House has been discussing potential options with key congressional Republican leaders, fearful of ‘blindsiding them.’ A person familiar with the conversations says a top congressional Republican advised the White House not to fire Rosenstein.”
-- “In the past, Trump’s impulses could be tempered by the calming presence of loyal aides like Hope Hicks and longtime security chief Keith Schiller. But both Hicks and Schiller are gone, leaving Trump to operate largely unchecked,” Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman reports. Three blind quotes from his piece:
- “He’s brooding and doesn’t have a plan,” said a Republican close to the White House.
- “I could see him having a total meltdown and saying, ‘[Screw] it, I’m firing all of them,’” said a Trump friend. “Trump’s just doing his own thing now.”
- “This is very dry tinder. If someone strikes a match to it, you could see it catching fire,” said a former official.
-- “Were Rosenstein fired, authority over Mueller’s investigation would kick down to solicitor general Noel Francisco until a permanent replacement was identified,” Philip Bump explains. “Except that Trump might be able to quickly and easily get a more pliable person to fill Rosenstein’s shoes. A law passed in 1998 gives the president the authority to fill any vacant positions that require Senate confirmation with any other person working in the government who’s already been confirmed by the Senate. This is what Trump did with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau … to give control of the bureau to Mick Mulvaney — already confirmed as budget director — after its director resigned. So in theory Trump could fire Rosenstein and then quickly name, say, Environmental Protection Agency director Scott Pruitt as deputy attorney general. There’s one caveat. It’s not entirely clear that Trump could use the Vacancies Act after having fired someone.”
WHAT DROVE THE RAID:
-- “Federal prosecutors investigating [Cohen] are seeking records related to two women who received payments in 2016 after alleging affairs with Trump years before — adult-film star Stormy Daniels and ex-Playboy model Karen McDougal,” Ashley Parker, Devlin Barrett, Carol D. Leonnig and Matt Zapotosky report. “The interest in Daniels and McDougal indicates that federal investigators are trying to determine whether there was a broader pattern or strategy among Trump’s associates to buy the silence of women whose accounts could have harmed his electoral chances and whether any crimes were committed in doing so … Investigators are also seeking all communications about Daniels and McDougal among Cohen, David Pecker — a friend of Trump and the chief executive of American Media Inc., which publishes the National Enquirer — and Dylan Howard, the chief content officer for American Media and a reporter there. Daniels is cooperating with federal prosecutors, according to a source familiar with the investigation.
“Some White House allies think this one, like many of the administration’s pockets of turbulence, was brought on by Trump himself — specifically, by comments he made last week aboard Air Force One, when he claimed he had no knowledge of the payment Cohen made to Daniels, according to three people familiar with the discussions.
“If both the lawyer and the client insist that Trump had no idea that Cohen had made the payment, they cannot assert that those activities were protected by attorney-client privilege … Several lawyers noted that public statements from Cohen and Trump that the president was unaware of the payment may have significantly aided federal prosecutors’ legal arguments to justify searching the lawyer’s office, home and hotel room.”
-- Cohen told CNN's Don Lemon that FBI agents who conducted the raids were “extremely professional,” a sharp contrast with Trump's claim that the feds “broke into” his personal attorney's office. “I am unhappy to have my personal residence and office raided. But I will tell you that members of the FBI that conducted the search and seizure were all extremely professional, courteous and respectful. And I thanked them at the conclusion,” he said. “I would be lying to you if I told that I am not [worried].”
-- The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Geoffrey Berman, was not involved in the decision to raid Cohen’s office because he recused himself from the investigation. “Berman is a Trump appointee with ties to Rudy Giuliani who donated money to the 2016 Trump campaign,” ABC News’s Jon Karl and Josh Margolin report.
THE LATEST ON THE INVESTIGATION:
-- “Dana Boente, the former acting attorney general who now serves as general counsel at the FBI, has been interviewed by the special counsel’s office and turned over handwritten notes that could be a piece of evidence in the ongoing investigation into whether President Trump obstructed justice,” Matt Zapotosky reports. “Boente was interviewed some months ago by [Mueller team] on a wide range of topics, including his recollections of what [Comey] told him about troubling interactions with Trump … The interview is significant because it shows how Mueller is exploring whether the president obstructed justice and keying in on conversations Trump had with his former FBI director about the probe involving his presidential campaign. It also shows the extent to which Mueller has gone to corroborate Comey’s account. ... The notes, which were first shown on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show and confirmed as authentic to The Washington Post by a person familiar with the matter, seem to confirm that what Comey told Boente in the spring of 2017 was consistent with what Comey would later tell Congress about his interactions with Trump.”
Exclusive: Handwritten notes we believe were written by Dana Boente on his talking with James Comey about the "cloud" of the Russia investigation: pic.twitter.com/7VkJtX2WHb— Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) April 11, 2018
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- Paul Ryan is leaving Congress. “The Speaker has told friends and several colleagues that he has decided not to seek reelection this year and will soon inform House Republicans of his plans, according to people with knowledge of the situation,” Robert Costa, Seung Min Kim and John Wagner report. “The 48-year-old Ryan, who was one of the youngest House speakers to be elected, was up for reelection in his Wisconsin district this year. He was the reluctant speaker, taking the top job in October 2015.” Axios’s Jonathan Swan broke the story: “This decision has been long rumored but his final deliberations were held extremely closely. Friends say that after Ryan passed tax reform, his longtime dream, he was ready to step out of a job that has become endlessly frustrating, in part because of [Trump]. The two most likely to replace him are Kevin McCarthy and Steve Scalise, though Scalise has said he won’t run against McCarthy, who appears to have first bite at the Apple.”
-- “Get ready Russia”: Trump warned that U.S. missiles “will be coming” to Syria in response to a suspected chemical attack that killed dozens of people outside Damascus. In an early morning tweet, the president taunted Moscow after its threat to shoot down any incoming strikes:
Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and “smart!” You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 11, 2018
Trump yesterday canceled his trip to Latin America so he could oversee the U.S. response, and he conferred on Syria in phone calls with the leaders of France and Britain. “Trump said Monday that he would decide within 48 hours how best to respond, but the impending visit of experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons may push the timetable further out,” Carol Morello reported Tuesday night. “As pressure and threats mounted, the United States and Russia used their vetoes at the United Nations Security Council to cancel out each other’s proposals for investigations into the attack and who was responsible. In Damascus, the Syrian military was put on alert as measures were taken to protect airports and military bases against a possible airstrike. The USS Donald Cook, a guided missile destroyer, arrived in the eastern Mediterranean in recent days.”
-- Moscow warned that “disaster” could follow if Washington launches airstrikes. Anton Troianovski reports: “Igor Korotchenko, a Russian military scholar and a member of the Defense Ministry’s public advisory council, said a U.S. attack that killed Russians in Syria would compel a military response, potentially against a U.S. plane or ship. That could bring about a chain of events as dangerous as the Cuban missile crisis, … Korotchenko said, and potentially ‘provoke World War III.’”
-- “There's no victory for Trump in Syria, but he could court disaster,” Ishaan Tharoor explains in his WorldViews newsletter. “No matter how [Trump] follows through on his promise of a ‘very tough’ response to the [Syrian regime], he still has to swallow a tougher reality: When it comes to the brutal war there, his administration is boxed into a corner. ... [Trump] has neither a plan nor the appetite to stop Assad's brutal consolidation of power … To be fair, the complexity of what has unfolded in Syria has tied far more experienced foreign-policy practitioners in knots. Emile Hokayem of the International Institute for Strategic Studies [said] this week that the ‘time for intervention had passed.’ That's a reflection of both a battlefield tilted solidly in Assad's favor and the Trump administration's confused messaging.”
-- Also breaking: An Algerian military transport plane crashed Wednesday, killing at least 257 people after outside the capital city Algiers. Paul Schemm reports: “The Russian-built Ilyushin Il-76 was headed to the southwestern city of Bechar when it crashed just outside the Boufarik military air base in a farm field, said a statement from Algeria’s Ministry of Defense. There was no immediate information about the cause of the crash."
GET SMART FAST:
- Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) said Trump asked her to switch parties during a December 2016 Trump Tower meeting. At the time, she was seen as a potential Cabinet pick. “He says, ‘You should switch parties’ … I said, ‘You should give me an Ex-Im bank,’” she said, chuckling. (Sean Sullivan)
- The pastor of a prominent Chicago-area megachurch, Bill Hybels, announced he is stepping down from Willow Creek amid allegations of misconduct from several women. Before founding Willow Creek, Hybels served as a spiritual adviser to Bill Clinton around the time of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. (Sarah Pulliam Bailey)
- U.S. immigration courts will temporarily halt a program that offers legal assistance to detained foreign nationals facing deportation while it audits the program’s cost-effectiveness. (Maria Sacchetti)
- Trump signed an executive order strengthening existing work requirements for low-income Americans who receive government assistance through programs such as Medicaid, food stamps and welfare. The move is part of a broad overhaul of low-income assistance programs and directs federal agencies to review all policies related to current work requirements and report back to the White House with recommendations in 90 days. (Tracy Jan)
- European Commission investigators raided the London offices of Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox as part of a broader investigation into possible anti-competitive practices. A spokesperson for Fox Networks Group confirmed the “unannounced inspections” and said the company was “cooperating fully” with the inspection. (Variety)
- Facing an FBI probe into his overseas travel, Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R) announced that he is stepping down from his leadership post and will resign his seat by the end of the month. (Columbus Dispatch)
- A new study found that despite a decline in the number of opioid painkillers prescribed in the United States, opioid deaths have continued to skyrocket. The spike comes as international cartels have moved to fill the void, supplying cheap heroin and powerful synthetic drugs. (Katie Zezima)
- Blood-testing company Theranos has laid off most of its remaining staff, slashing the workforce from some 125 employees to less than two dozen as part of a last-ditch effort to hold off bankruptcy for a few more months. The layoffs come just one month after Theranos settled civil fraud charges with the SEC. (Wall Street Journal)
- The gap between high- and low-achieving students in math and science in the United States appears to be widening, according to the results of a national exam. (Moriah Balingit)
- A powerful spring storm is expected to upend weather in the Northeast this weekend, again, sending temperatures plummeting by as much as 40 degrees in a single day. The Capital Weather Gang’s words of advice? If you’re aching to do some warm-weather activities, Saturday is your day.
-- Mark Zuckerberg was grilled over more than four hours by 42 senators during a joint hearing of the Judiciary and Commerce committees. “The Facebook chief executive “repeatedly apologized and promised privacy reforms but also pointedly defended his company against the threat of new legislation,” Craig Timberg, Tony Romm and Elizabeth Dwoskin report. “[T]here was no flash point or loss of composure for Zuckerberg, who was appearing in his first congressional hearing ... His steadiness in the face of tough questioning helped quell the air of crisis that surrounded not just Facebook but also Silicon Valley in general … Facebook’s stock price … rose during his testimony to end up 4.5 percent for the day … Zuckerberg singled out Facebook’s inability to identify and combat Russian disinformation efforts as one of his 'biggest regrets' and added, 'One of my top priorities in 2018 is getting this right.' He also confirmed for the second time since February that Facebook officials have been interviewed by investigators for [Mueller].”
-- “Zuckerberg tried to walk a tightrope on regulation,” Brian Fung writes in a story with 10 key moments from the hearing: “Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) pressed Zuckerberg on whether he would support greater regulation of the tech industry. ‘If it's the right regulation, then yes,’ Zuckerberg said. That pattern played out repeatedly over the course of the hearing, with lawmakers demanding specific commitments to support specific bills or proposals and Zuckerberg playing coy, declining to endorse policies but instead expressing support for the ‘principles’ behind them. ‘We've seen the apology tours before,’ said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.). ‘Unless there are specific rules and requirements enforced by an outside agency, I have no assurance that these kinds of vague commitments are going to produce action.’”
-- "[Zuckerberg] looked like a 33-year-old man burdened with having to explain technology to legislators who are more than twice his age and don’t really want to hear about how users can change their settings; they just want him to fix what’s wrong with the damn thing,” Robin Givhan writes. “He was wearing the tie, but he clearly didn’t want to be. … One suspects that once Zuckerberg finishes his Washington grilling, he will return to Silicon Valley and to his T-shirts and hoodies. … [But] Zuckerberg is one of the suits now. He has to be. The question is whether he can ever get comfortable in one.”
-- Read the transcript of the full hearing here.
-- And get ready to do it all again: Zuckerberg will appear before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has its own hearing scheduled for this morning.
-- Meanwhile, Internet service providers are seeking to press their advantage in Washington — with one of the largest cable companies in the country proposing legislation to rein in social media platforms and other tech giants. Brian Fung reports: “The proposal by Charter Communications on Monday calls for requiring ‘greater privacy and data security protections’ of companies such as Google and Facebook ... Charter's call to more heavily regulate Facebook and Google reflects longstanding tensions between broadband providers and Silicon Valley after years of policy battles under the tech-friendly Obama administration. … Now, amid rising political scrutiny of the biggest names in tech, the policy proposals from [Charter Communications] and others could put broadband companies in a stronger position to carve out their own place in the digital ad market — while conveniently placing new restrictions on their rivals in Silicon Valley.”
-- And outside Washington: “The privacy debate raging in policy and corporate circles can feel distant in rural western North Carolina, but [the town of] Forest City plays an unusual role,” Todd C. Frankel reports: “It is home to a massive Facebook data center, one of just four in the United States, digital attics where the company stores the information at the center of the current controversy. The Facebook user data obtained by Cambridge Analytica and others has probably spread far out of reach, experts say, to other databases and the dark Web. But it is also here — in bytes stored on tens of thousands of computer servers tucked inside three well-guarded and ever-expanding buildings — that the amorphous discussion about privacy is made concrete. And residents [here] are just starting to dig in — both creeped out by what they find and resigned to an online world where the loss of privacy is taken for granted.” “I’m afraid to see what Facebook has on me,” said Stephanie Henderson, 38. “This is just so embarrassing.”
ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN:
-- White House homeland security adviser Tom Bossert was forced out by John Bolton, the new national security adviser. Josh Dawsey, Greg Jaffe and Ellen Nakashima report: “Bossert, a favorite of [John Kelly], was believed to be on shaky footing in the Bolton era … Bossert and [H.R. McMaster] feuded bitterly throughout their tenure in the White House in meetings that on occasion devolved into screaming[.] McMaster and others in the White House were particularly frustrated that Bossert was slow to move forward with a strategy to both defend the United States and punish Russia for its efforts to undermine the U.S. elections. Bossert insisted that he reported directly to the president and not to the national security adviser, which became a major source of frustration for McMaster. His sudden forced resignation suggests that Bolton may be intent on ensuring that Bossert’s replacement on cyber and counterterror strategy reports directly to him.”
-- Two Democratic senators are seeking a congressional inquiry into EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s round-the-clock security detail and first-class travel, citing new documents that suggest that level of security is not justified. Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis report: “Writing to Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), fellow panel members Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.) reference several internal EPA documents … that allude to the kind of threats that have not traditionally triggered 24/7 protection. Those include messages threatening to leave scrapings of old paint at the administrator’s office and one telling Pruitt “we are watching you” on the agency’s climate-related policies. In a Feb. 14 [memo] from the EPA’s Office of Homeland Security Intelligence Team … agency officials used all caps and bold print as they concluded that the justification for the coverage outlined by Pruitt’s protective security detail … ‘DOES NOT employ sound analysis or articulate relevant ‘threat specific’ information appropriate to draw any resource or level of threat conclusions regarding the protection posture for the Administrator.’”
-- Trump frequently criticizes Veterans Affairs for the long wait times that many veterans face to receive health care. But according to newly compiled data, the agency has a whopping 33,000 full- and part-time vacancies nationwide. Emily Wax-Thibodeaux reports: “Most urgently, the agency’s health-care network needs thousands of primary care physicians, mental-health providers, physical therapists, social workers — even janitorial staff, Sen. Jon Tester (Mont.), ranking Democrat of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, [said] … Of equal concern, he said, VA lacks enough human resources personnel to vet candidates and make the hires. Max Stier, president and chief executive of the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service, said that when Trump took office, he put into place a federal hiring freeze that has been a particular problem for VA as it looks to add staff. While doctors were exempt from the hiring freeze, the human resources professionals needed to make the hires were not, he noted ... VA’s human resources division remains short-staffed and continues to struggle with hiring even after the freeze was lifted, Stier said.”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Former House speaker John Boehner announced that he’s changed his views on marijuana:
I’m joining the board of #AcreageHoldings because my thinking on cannabis has evolved. I’m convinced de-scheduling the drug is needed so we can do research, help our veterans, and reverse the opioid epidemic ravaging our communities. @AcreageCannabis https://t.co/f5i9KcQD0W— John Boehner (@SpeakerBoehner) April 11, 2018
Sen. Mark Warner, the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, was one of many Democratic lawmakers using the hashtag #ProtectMueller:
From the chief strategist for John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign:
Should the firing come it will be time for the American people to engage in the largest peaceful civil demonstrations in the countries history. Trump will have crossed a line that demands his impeachment and removal from office. Failure to do so will betray America— Steve Schmidt (@SteveSchmidtSES) April 10, 2018
The Zuckerberg hearing offered ripe opportunities for memes:
That face when you just wanted a faster way to rank girls by looks and ended up installing a fascist government in the most powerful country on earth pic.twitter.com/VEaQjz9Z6s— Zack Bornstein (@ZackBornstein) April 10, 2018
Michael Cohen was spotted at a restaurant near Park Avenue:
That didn't take long ... Michael Cohen was all smiles tonight after dinner at La Goulue near the Lowes Regency Hotel. pic.twitter.com/CWJfWndwzW— David Martosko (@dmartosko) April 11, 2018
A Washington Examiner reporter witnessed this scene outside the Trump hotel:
Spotted outside Trump Hotel: Alex Jones making out with an unidentified blonde woman, while her child rests next to them in a stroller— Gabby Morrongiello (@gabriellahope_) April 10, 2018
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
-- “A video obtained by NBC News shows U.S. Border Patrol agents attempting to break international law by forcing an injured and mentally unstable man back into Mexico by falsely claiming that he is not in their custody, failing to identify him and assuming he is Mexican because ‘he looks like it,'" Julia Ainsley reports: “U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) provided the video after a whistleblower first alerted NBC News to the existence of the footage. The anonymous videographer was ready to film the encounter because Mexican agents had identified the area as a place where American agents frequently tried to deport migrants covertly … The incident occurred at the U.S.-Mexico border in Calexico, California … and sparked a complaint by Mexican officials to CBP, which launched an investigation that ended with the agents being reprimanded, but ultimately keeping their jobs.”
HOT ON THE LEFT:
“‘Bullies on the left’: Laura Ingraham returns with promise to fight ‘Stalinist’ forces,” from Allyson Chiu: “Fox News host Laura Ingraham defiantly returned to the airwaves Monday, lashing out at ‘left-wing retaliatory hit squads’ that aim to silence conservative voices … Throughout the show, Ingraham referenced instances in which conservative voices have been squashed, sometimes with violence. She showed video footage of people she called ‘left-wing nutcases’ attacking Trump supporters in San Jose at a rally in 2016. ‘This is the intolerant left in action,’ she said as the video of the attack played. Throughout her hour-long broadcast, Ingraham continued to rail against the left, calling their efforts ‘Stalinist,’ resulting in more backlash on social media.”
HOT ON THE RIGHT:
“Sinclair attacks CNN with video alleging ‘hypocrisy’ in ‘fake news’ debate,” from Paul Farhi: “The nation’s largest owner of TV stations has mounted an unusual video attack on CNN for what it calls ‘dishonesty and hypocrisy’ in the cable giant’s coverage of the company’s widely panned news promotions. Stations owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group on Tuesday began posting on their websites a corporate-produced video that challenges CNN’s reporting on Sinclair’s controversial promos — a script, echoing [Trump’s] criticism of the mainstream news media, that Sinclair distributed to its local stations and required dozens of its TV anchors to deliver. The new four-minute Sinclair video, titled ‘Did CNN Attack Sinclair For Doing Exactly What CNN Has Done For Years?’ was created last week … in response to widespread coverage of Sinclair’s ‘journalistic responsibility’ promotional campaign.”
-- At the White House: In the morning, Trump will sign H.R. 1865, the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017, before joining Pence for lunch. Later, he will have dinner with Republican congressional leadership.
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- Today’s temps will (finally!) feel a bit more like spring — with seriously warm weather expected to roll in overnight. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “We start the day with that familiar chill, as morning temperatures rise out of the 30s and into the 40s under mostly cloudy skies. We should turn partly to mostly sunny during the afternoon, though, which helps highs reach the mildish mid-50s to near 60.”
-- Metro said it will begin allowing customers to pay train and bus fares with their cellphones by 2019 — a systemwide upgrade that is estimated to cost $294 million. Officials said the new hardware will allow customers to use the same tap-and-go technology with their phones that they use with SmarTrip cards. (Martine Powers)
-- The Nationals beat the Braves, 4-1.
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Lawmakers react to Mark Zuckerberg’s Senate hearing:
Five awkward moments from the Facebook hearing:
Zuckerberg repeatedly promised to "follow up" with answers to various questions. Here's a super cut:
Sen. Lindsey Graham pressed Zuckerberg on who he thought was his biggest competitor:
Seth Meyers’s wife gave birth to their second son in their lobby — and their Uber driver charged them for a canceled ride: