With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve.
THE BIG IDEA:
President Trump promises “extreme vetting” of all immigrants, but he has repeatedly failed to hold his own Cabinet picks, senior White House staff and judicial nominees to the same standard. Ronny L. Jackson’s imperiled nomination to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs is just the latest example.
Senate lawmakers postponed the White House doctor’s confirmation hearing last night after top Republicans and Democrats raised concerns about his qualifications and oversight of the White House medical staff.
Jackson’s Wednesday hearing before the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs was set to be brutal because several lawmakers fear he lacks the experience to lead an agency with 360,000 employees and an annual budget of $186 billion. They’re also frustrated that Trump sprung the pick on them without advance consultation, and that Jackson did not go through a formal vetting process. It’s unclear whether it will be rescheduled.
A lack of due diligence is a feature, not a bug, of Trumpism. Trump promised to hire “the best and most serious people” as a candidate, but there’s been historically high turnover, an enormous number of withdrawn nominations and many of his appointees who made it through now operate under clouds of scandal. The Rob Porter fiasco spotlighted how many people were operating at the highest levels of government with interim security clearances and incomplete background checks.
-- CBS News reports that Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), the top Democrat on the Veterans' Affairs committee, is reviewing multiple allegations he's heard from current and former White House medical staff that Jackson created a “hostile work environment.” The accusations include excessive drinking on the job and improperly dispensing medication, per Ed O’Keefe and Nancy Cordes. “The other people familiar with the stories also confirmed those details. If proven true, ‘it'll sink his nomination,’ said one of the sources. Tester's office began hearing the allegations from current and former employees in the last several days and over the weekend … Some — though not all — of the seven Democratic senators on Veterans' Affairs Committee met Monday evening to discuss what to do about the allegations.”
-- “The White House also is assessing whether questions that have been raised about Jackson have validity,” our Seung Min Kim, Lisa Rein and Josh Dawsey report. “Three White House officials said Monday that they worried the nomination was in peril.”
In recent days, they scoop, committee Chairman Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) called the White House to express his concern that Jackson was unqualified. He vouched instead for his former top aide Thomas Bowman, who is currently VA’s deputy secretary.
-- The aforementioned allegations, which are apparently coming at least partly from people who literally work at the White House, would normally come out as part of routine vetting for any Cabinet secretary. But this has been a constant struggle since Trump took office. Recall Andy Puzder’s failed nomination to be secretary of labor. Several Trump nominees who couldn’t get through the Republican-controlled Senate still work in government because they were shifted into jobs that don’t require confirmation.
In his rush to remake the courts, Trump has put up many people for judgeships who would have been very unlikely to get nominated if they went through a more rigorous vetting process. There was the guy in Alabama who had defended the Ku Klux Klan, the guy in Texas who said transgender children are proof that “Satan’s plan is working,” and the nominee for the U.S. Court of Federal Claims who called Justice Anthony Kennedy “a judicial prostitute.”
-- The Presidential Personnel Office, the White House office responsible for vetting political appointees, has suffered from chaos, dysfunction and nepotism under the leadership of young and inexperienced Trump loyalists who seem to enjoy partying more than working. Investigative reporters Robert O'Harrow Jr. and Shawn Boburg wrote about what’s happening three weeks ago: “[T]wo office leaders have spotty records themselves: a college dropout with arrests for drunken driving and bad checks and a Marine Corps reservist with arrests for assault, disorderly conduct, fleeing an officer and underage drinking. … Under President Trump, the office was launched with far fewer people than in prior administrations. It has served as a refuge for young campaign workers, a stopover for senior officials on their way to other posts and a source of jobs for friends and family … One senior staffer has had four relatives receive appointments through the office.
“From the start, the office struggled to keep pace with its enormous responsibilities, with only about 30 employees on hand, less than a third of the staffing in prior administrations … Since the inauguration, most of the staffers in the PPO have been in their 20s, some with little professional experience apart from their work on Trump’s campaign … Even as the demands to fill government mounted, the PPO offices on the first floor of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building became something of a social hub, where young staffers from throughout the administration stopped by to hang out on couches and smoke electronic cigarettes, known as vaping, current and former White House officials said.
“PPO leaders hosted happy hours last year in their offices that included beer, wine and snacks … In January, they played a drinking game in the office called ‘Icing’ to celebrate the deputy director’s 30th birthday. Icing involves hiding a bottle of Smirnoff Ice, a flavored malt liquor, and demanding that the person who discovers it, in this case the deputy director, guzzle it.”
-- The disregard for serious vetting can be traced back to the immediate aftermath of the 2016 election. When Trump fired Chris Christie as the head of his transition team on Nov. 11, after the then-New Jersey governor expressed opposition to hiring Michael Flynn as national security adviser, Flynn and Steve Bannon, who would be White House chief strategist, celebrated by tossing binders full of potential personnel picks into the trash, according to a Politico report last year.
Christie lamented earlier this month that people like Scott Pruitt, the Environmental Protection Agency administrator now embroiled in controversies over his spending and management practices, would never have gotten tapped if he had stuck around.
“This was a brutally unprofessional transition,” Christie said. “This was a transition that didn’t vet people for this type of judgment issues. … If Mr. Pruitt’s going to go, it’s because he never should’ve been there in the first place.”
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- A white rental van plowed through a group of pedestrians on a Toronto sidewalk, killing 10 people and injuring 15. The vehicle sent people and baby strollers flying in what eyewitnesses described as a deliberate act. Amanda Coletta, Alan Freeman and Chico Harlan report: “Officials said the incident did not appear to have a connection to national security, though they did not yet know of a motive. Toronto’s police chief identified the driver as Alek Minassian, 25, of Richmond Hill, Ontario. Minassian, who was not carrying a weapon, was taken into custody after a showdown in which he brandished an object and told officers, ‘Shoot me in the head.’”
GET SMART FAST:
- Nashville police arrested suspected Waffle House gunman Travis Reinking, ending a frantic manhunt for the 29-year-old accused of killing four people on Sunday. Authorities found him in the woods about a mile from the diner with a backpack containing a firearm and ammunition. (Katie Zezima, Kristine Phillips, Mark Berman and William Wan)
- George H.W. Bush was hospitalized one day after his wife was laid to rest. A family spokesman said the 41st president was admitted to Houston Methodist Hospital Sunday morning “after contracting an infection that spread to his blood.” He said Bush is responding to treatments and appears to be recovering. (Marwa Eltagouri)
- A veteran of the Afghanistan war whose genitals were blown off in a roadside bomb received a transplant in what doctors called a medical first. A team of 11 doctors conducted a 14-hour surgery. (Eli Rosenberg)
- Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein argued his first case before the Supreme Court, fulfilling a lifelong dream — and drawing a massive audience — after weeks of recent speculation Trump might fire him. (Sari Horwitz)
- Armenian Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan resigned amid large-scale protests. Anti-government protesters accused the pro-Russian leader of changing the law so he could effectively retain power into a second decade. (Amie Ferris-Rotman)
- South Korea says it stopped blaring earsplitting K-pop music at the North Korean border. The latest sign of a possible thaw on the peninsula comes just days before President Moon Jae-in’s planned meeting with Kim Jong Un. (New York Magazine)
- White Americans are more likely than black Americans to see the recent Starbucks arrests as an isolated incident rather than societal pattern, according to a new poll. A third of white respondents said the arrests indicated a broader problem, compared to 57 percent of black respondents. (HuffPost)
- Amazon sellers are finding shoppers on Facebook to boost their products with fake positive reviews in exchange for money or other compensation, a violation of company policy that allows merchants to artificially inflate the popularity of their items. (Elizabeth Dwoskin and Craig Timberg)
- The duke and duchess of Cambridge’s baby boy is fifth in line for the throne. The still-unnamed child follows grandfather Prince Charles, father William, brother George and sister Charlotte in the royal succession. (Karla Adam and William Booth)
ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN:
-- Secretary of state nominee Mike Pompeo eked out an endorsement from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last night after Trump personally intervened to convince Rand Paul to change his vote, all but guaranteeing that he will be confirmed by the full Senate later this week. Pompeo was not expected to secure a majority of the panel’s support until the president called the Kentucky Republican “several times” yesterday. The two have become golfing buddies.
After calling continuously for weeks for Director Pompeo to support President Trump’s belief that the Iraq war was a mistake, and that it is time to leave Afghanistan, today I received confirmation the Director Pompeo agrees with @realDonaldTrump— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) April 23, 2018
Having received assurances from President Trump and Director Pompeo that he agrees with the President on these important issues, I have decided to support his nomination to be our next Secretary of State.— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) April 23, 2018
If you read between the lines, the senator didn't really get much for caving.
Pompeo’s confirmation before the full Senate was basically assured when Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) broke with her caucus and endorsed him last Friday, much to the chagrin of her colleagues and a constellation of progressive groups. Seeing no point in casting symbolic “no” votes, two other Democrats from red states who are facing very tough reelections in 2018 followed her yesterday: West Virginia’s Joe Manchin and Indiana’s Joe Donnelly.
A bipartisan moment during last night’s markup offered a reminder of what the Senate used to be like in the old days: “The committee ultimately voted 11 to 10 along party lines to endorse Pompeo,” Karoun Demirjian reports. “But because of a quirk in the Senate rules, the panel could not send its recommendation to the full Senate, as one of those 11 Republicans — Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) — was not present for the vote. He was out of town delivering a eulogy at his best friend’s funeral … At the urging of panel chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Democratic Sen. Christopher A. Coons (Del.) volunteered to change his vote to ‘present’ — making the vote 11 in favor, 9 opposed and 1 present … The gesture was an increasingly rare one in the politically divided Congress, where it is difficult for lawmakers to extend personal gestures without facing political scrutiny. As Coons explained his decision to reporters outside the committee room, a protester yelled at him: ‘You care more about your friend than you do this country!’ Coons said he still intended to vote against Pompeo’s nomination on the Senate floor.”
-- White House officials are discouraging Republican lawmakers from vigorously defending EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. Bloomberg News's Jennifer A. Dlouhy and Jennifer Jacobs report: “Republicans are now sharpening their criticisms about Pruitt amid a revelation that he met at least once with the lobbyist whose wife rented him a bedroom on Capitol Hill. … Pruitt’s performance in front of two congressional committees this week could be key in determining how long he remains at the agency’s helm. The back-to-back House hearings scheduled for Thursday — nominally on the EPA budget — are set to be Pruitt’s first public appearance on Capitol Hill since the deluge of damaging revelations that began late last month.”
-- Trump is increasingly relying on his personal cellphone to contact outside advisers, a sign of White House Chief of Staff John Kelly’s waning influence. CNN’s Pamela Brown and Sarah Westwood report: “During the early days of Kelly's tenure … Trump made many of his calls from the White House switchboard — a tactic that allowed the chief of staff to receive a printed list of who Trump had phoned. [One] source close to the White House speculated that the President is ramping up the use of his personal device recently in part because ‘he doesn't want Kelly to know who he's talking to.’ … Trump has also increased his direct outreach to GOP lawmakers over the past several weeks, sometimes employing his cell phone. ‘Definitely, the walls are breaking,’ one source close to the White House said of the procedures Kelly initially established to regulate access to Trump.”
-- Mike Pence named retired Army Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, a Trump ally, to serve as his personal national security adviser. “Pence had planned to select Jon Lerner, an adviser to [U.N. Ambassador Nikki] Haley, but Lerner withdrew his name from consideration after Trump raised questions about his past criticism of the president,” the AP’s Ken Thomas reports.
-- Charles Kushner took responsibility for the decision to purchase a New York skyscraper at 666 Fifth Avenue, which he called “bad timing and bad judgment.” CNN’s Cristina Alesci reports: “In 2007, Charles's firm, Kushner Companies, paid a record $1.8 billion for [the skyscraper]. The purchase was meant to elevate the family's business from its roots buying middle-income housing in the tri-state area. [Jared Kushner] was the face of the deal. ‘I pushed Jared to do the deal,’ explained Charles, who said Jared expressed reservations about buying the office tower. … [T]he elder Kushner said he's nearing a deal that will resolve questions about whether Kushner Companies keeps control of the gleaming office tower.”
THERE’S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:
-- Trump twice told James Comey that he did not spend the night in Moscow during a 2013 trip to the Miss Universe pageant. But flight records now place him in Russia for Friday and most of Saturday night in a combined total of 45 hours and 43 minutes. Bloomberg News's Vernon Silver reports: “According to Comey’s [memos], Trump said the Moscow trip was so quick that his head never hit a pillow — even for one night. [But] a reconstruction of events shows the future U.S. president’s journey to Moscow began in North Carolina, where he attended a birthday tribute to [Billy Graham] … While flight records show Trump’s own Cessna jet headed back to New York that night from [Asheville], Trump himself apparently wasn’t aboard. Instead, Trump flew to Moscow on a Bombardier Global 5000 private jet owned by Phil Ruffin, his partner in the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Las Vegas …”
-- “A conscious effort by Trump to mislead [Comey] could lend weight to the allegation … that Trump engaged in compromising activity during the trip that exposed him to Russian government blackmail,” writes Politico’s Ben Schreckinger. “It has also likely caught the eye of [Robert Mueller], legal analysts say. ‘False statements to Comey about the trip could demonstrate that Trump has ‘consciousness of guilt,’ according Pete Zeidenberg, a former federal prosecutor … Although many analysts doubt that Mueller has the legal authority to indict a sitting president, Trump's assertions could factor into any written report from Mueller that might draw conclusions about whether Trump sought to obstruct justice or colluded with the Kremlin, and which could be transmitted by the Justice Department to Congress.”
-- The Treasury Department softened its position on Russian metals giant Rusal. The department said it would provide relief from planned sanctions if Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska relinquished control of the company. Treasury also extended the deadline for companies to wind down dealings with Rusal by almost five months, Bloomberg News's Jack Farchy, Yuliya Fedorinova, and Saleha Mohsin report: “Rusal petitioned to be removed from the sanctions list and Treasury granted the extension while it considers the appeal, according to a statement from [Secretary Steven Mnuchin]. ‘Rusal has felt the impact of U.S. sanctions because of its entanglement with Oleg Deripaska, but the U.S. government is not targeting the hardworking people who depend on Rusal and its subsidiaries,’ Mnuchin said. Aluminum plunged in response as traders speculated that supply disruptions could ease. Prices fell as much as 9.4 percent, the most ever. U.S. metal producers also dropped, with Alcoa Inc. sliding 12 percent.”
-- The White House struggled to answer questions about Trump’s weekend Twitter thread denying Michael Cohen would “flip” against him. Callum Borchers writes: “During a White House press briefing on Monday, Bloomberg's Justin Sink said the president's Twitter thread ‘prompts two questions: The first is what the president believes his personal attorney might have done to get him in trouble with the government. And, secondly, what the president's done that he is worried Michael Cohen could flip about.’ ‘The president's been clear that he hasn't done anything wrong,’ White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders replied. ‘I think we've stated that about a thousand times. Beyond that, I don't have anything to add.’ It is the absence of ‘anything to add’ that is striking. The simple, playing-it-cool response would be that the president encourages Cohen to cooperate fully with an investigation that will surely end in exoneration. But the White House hasn't said anything of the kind. In fact, the White House appears to be leaving open the door to a presidential pardon for Cohen — which, of course, would be necessary only if there were a crime to pardon.”
-- Even if Cohen wanted to flip on Trump, legal obstacles could make doing so difficult. Politico’s Josh Gerstein explains: “[L]egal ethics might deter federal prosecutors from coaxing [Cohen] to betray his professional confidences with Trump, legal veterans and experts say. ‘This idea of 'flipping' Cohen—they can't just flip a lawyer to testify against a client,’ longtime defense attorney Harvey Silverglate said. ‘Even if Cohen doesn't know better, one would think the FBI and the prosecutors would know better.’ Silverglate said not only Cohen but prosecutors could be disbarred for overstepping the well-established ethical boundaries.”
MEN BEHAVING BADLY:
-- Rep. Martha McSally, an Arizona Republican running to replace outgoing Sen. Jeff Flake, said she was sexually abused by her track coach in high school. The Wall Street Journal's Kristina Peterson reports: “Ms. McSally … hasn’t previously discussed [the] alleged sexual abuse of her when she was 17, which she said she didn’t tell her friends or family about until a decade later. … One of her first running coaches had become a father figure for her, she said, and when a different coach succeeded him, she put the same kind of trust in him. Two decades older than her, the new coach pressured Ms. McSally into having sex with him, she said … As she grew increasingly uncomfortable with the situation, he used a variety of psychological tactics to keep her silent, according to Ms. McSally. ‘Even though he didn’t physically force me, it certainly was an emotional manipulation,’ Ms. McSally said. She intensified her running in an effort to shut down her menstrual cycle ... ‘I was freaking out that he would get me pregnant,’ she said.” The coach has denied her allegations.
-- “Inside A Divisive Fight Over How A Top Progressive Think Tank Handled Sexual Harassment,” by BuzzFeed News’s Sarah Mimms: “The Center for American Progress, the politics and policy hub for the Democratic establishment, has put out four different policy proposal papers on handling sexual harassment in the workplace, as well as data on how pervasive the issue is ‘across all industries.’ … But only an hour after the Access Hollywood tape was made public, top officials at CAP received an exit memo from a young woman who'd just quit detailing the sexual harassment she experienced from Benton Strong, a manager on her team — harassment, she wrote, that management already knew about — and how she faced retaliation for reporting it. … Documents obtained by BuzzFeed News and interviews with 19 current and former staffers describe a chaotic internal culture, in which, according to a July 2016 memo written by CAP’s employee union, there were ‘several incidents of sexual harassment against several members of our unit.’ The documents and interviews pull back the curtain on a culture in which young staffers felt there was a gap between the organization’s mission and its everyday realities.”
-- Olympic gold medalist McKayla Maroney says she tried to tell a USA Gymnastics coach about Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse in 2011 following a particularly harrowing incident in Tokyo. That conversation occurred five years before he was ultimately arrested and accused of molesting more than 200 women. NBC News’s Sarah Fitzpatrick and Tracy Connor report: “[After] a long day of training, while being driven back to the hotel with other gymnasts and USA Gymnastics coach John Geddert, Maroney [said she] couldn't hold in the secret any longer. ‘I just said, 'Last night, it was like Larry was fingering me,'’ she said. ‘I said this loud.’ Three other people who were there told NBC News they remember the conversation.”
-- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will announce a plan for the federal government to guarantee a job for every American that would pay $15 an hour and provide health-care benefits for every American “who wants or needs one.” Jeff Stein reports: “Sanders's jobs guarantee would fund hundreds of projects throughout the United States aimed at addressing priorities such as infrastructure, care giving, the environment, education and other goals. Under the job guarantee, every American would be entitled to a job under one of these projects or receive job training to be able to do so … A representative from Sanders's office said they had not yet done a cost estimate for the plan or decided how it would be funded[.]
-- Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said in a radio interview she will no longer accept donations from corporate PACs, in a shift from her public position several weeks ago. John Wagner reports: “[S]he joins a handful of other progressive Democratic senators who are also considered possible 2020 presidential candidates in pledging not to take PAC money. 'Money has now really tipped the balance between an individual having equal power in an election to a corporation,’ Harris said … At a town hall in California this month, Harris was asked by an audience member if she would turn down donations offered by a corporation or corporate lobbyist. ‘Well, it depends. It depends,’ Harris said, prompting the audience member to respond: ‘Wrong answer.’ On the radio show Monday morning, Harris said she had come to her new view after reflecting on that exchange.” Others in the Senate who have made similar pledges include Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
-- Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) was kicked off the state’s primary ballot after Colorado’s Supreme Court ruled that hundreds of signatures on his candidate petitions were collected by people outside his district. David Weigel reports: “Lamborn’s campaign pledged immediately to fight the decision. ‘We are disappointed by the outcome and believe it was wrongly decided,' said Lamborn spokesman Dan Bayens. ‘We are immediately bringing an action in federal court …’ ”
-- Arizona’s 8th District will hold its special election today to choose a replacement for Rep. Trent Franks (R). From the Arizona Republic’s Ronald J. Hansen: “Republican Debbie Lesko is the favorite to replace [Franks] because of her party's 17-percentage-point registration advantage in the district. But at a time when independents, and even some Republicans, nationally are increasingly wary of the GOP, Democrat Hiral Tipirneni has mounted a serious challenge to Lesko. How close is the race? Recent polls show anything from Lesko winning by 10 percentage points to Tipirneni by 1.”
-- A new poll found recently imprisoned coal baron Don Blankenship slipping in West Virginia’s GOP Senate primary. According to the results, state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey leads the race with 24 percent of the vote, followed by Rep. Evan Jenkins with 20 percent. Blankenship trails with 12 percent. (Politico)
-- Outside money from both parties is pouring into Wisconsin’s Senate race. The New York Times’s Stephanie Saul reports: “For many national Republicans, [Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D)] has emerged as the top target in the 2018 midterms: Donors from outside the state are spending twice as much money on the race so far as on any other Senate contest this year … The big spending doesn’t just signal that each party sees the Senate seat as winnable. It’s also a measure of intensity on both sides to prevail in Wisconsin after [Trump] shocked Democrats in 2016 by being the first Republican presidential nominee to carry the state since 1984. National Democrats are bent on winning it back in 2020 — and getting Ms. Baldwin re-elected is a crucial step toward that goal.”
-- “The Bros Of The Ultimate Fighting Championship Are All In On Trump,” by BuzzFeed News's Tarini Parti: “[Trump] was in mixed martial arts promoter Ultimate Fighting Championship’s corner in the early 2000s, when lawmakers equated the sport with ‘human cockfighting’ and banned it in most states. He hosted two UFC events at the then-glitzy Trump Taj Mahal … Now the former co-owners of UFC are returning the favor: Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta III, who sold UFC for $4 billion in 2016, have quickly become among the president's biggest early reelection supporters. The brothers, their families, and their company have already contributed about $5.3 million to Republican candidates and groups that disclose their donors since Trump took office ... One source who knows the brothers put it bluntly: “I do think that they see this as an opportunity to be closer to the administration.”
-- The RNC spent more than $224,000 at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort last month, according to a newly filed FEC report. The Daily Beast’s Sam Stein reports: “The expenditures, which were for rental and catering fees, were to cover the costs of an RNC fundraiser there … Outside of that expense, the RNC dropped nearly $30,000 for venue rental and catering at the Trump National Doral in Miami. It also spent $4,796.82 on ‘donor mementos’ to Simon & Schuster. The expense report does not detail which book the committee purchases in order to give to donors. But Simon & Schuster is the publishing house for Trump’s book, Crippled America, which was later retitled Great Again.”
-- Sanders sought to dismiss criticism of Trump’s use of the term “breeding concept” in a tweet last week in regard to California's “sanctuary areas.” John Wagner reports: “Asked by CNN’s Jim Acosta … whether Trump had used a derogatory term to refer to Latinos, Sanders said that wasn’t the case. ‘No, he’s talking about the problem itself growing and getting bigger,’ said Sanders … A few minutes later, April Ryan of American Urban Radio Networks returned to the issue, telling Sanders that ‘when you think of breeding, you think of animals.’” “I’m not going to begin to think what you think,” Sanders said.
-- Scott Pruitt plans to introduce a rule limiting what science can be used to write EPA regulations. Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis report: “The rule, which Pruitt has described in interviews with select media over the past month, would only allow EPA to consider studies for which the underlying data are made available publicly. Advocates describe this approach as an advance for transparency, but critics say it would effectively block the agency from relying on long-standing, landmark studies linking air pollution and pesticide exposure to harmful health effects.”
-- A congressional report found the GOP tax bill will return $17 billion to millionaire owners of “pass-through” businesses. NBC News’s Jonathan Allen reports: “The deduction, which ranges up to 20 percent, will shower $40.2 billion in tax breaks on owners of pass-throughs — largely businesses owned by an individual or a partnership, or those ‘S’ corporations that kick income and losses to shareholders for tax purposes — in 2018, the Joint Committee on Taxation estimated. … In 2018, the lion's share of the benefit — $17.4 billion, or 44.3 percent of the total — will go to roughly 200,000 Americans making $1 million or more who claim the pass-through deduction, the committee said. Another $3.6 billion, or 8.9 percent, will go to a similar number of taxpayers who earn $500,000 to $1 million. By 2024, the tax deductions will amount to $60.3 billion, and those making $1 million or more will account for $31.6 billion (52.4 percent) of that.”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Trump returned to the subject of the caravans:
Despite the Democrat inspired laws on Sanctuary Cities and the Border being so bad and one sided, I have instructed the Secretary of Homeland Security not to let these large Caravans of people into our Country. It is a disgrace. We are the only Country in the World so naive! WALL— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 23, 2018
He also renewed his threat to tie his immigration demands to the renegotiation of NAFTA:
Mexico, whose laws on immigration are very tough, must stop people from going through Mexico and into the U.S. We may make this a condition of the new NAFTA Agreement. Our Country cannot accept what is happening! Also, we must get Wall funding fast.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 23, 2018
And he boasted about food-stamp figures:
Here’s a great stat - since January 2017, the number of people forced to use food stamps is down 1.9 million. The American people are finally back to work!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 23, 2018
From The Post's fact-checking columnist:
From Jan. 2016 to Jan. 2017, it went down 2.2 million under Obama. It went down 3.4 million from Oct. 2015 - Jan. 2017. https://t.co/vsDA9AHtbW— Glenn Kessler (@GlennKesslerWP) April 23, 2018
The son of former national security adviser Michael Flynn defended his father:
American Patriot @GenFlynn did not lie to Pence (or anyone else in the admin) about his perfectly legal and appropriate conversations w Russian AMB Kislyak in Dec 2016.— 🇺🇸MFLYNNJR🇺🇸 (@mflynnJR) April 23, 2018
Why would a highly decorated military intel officer lie about something legal?
Been a MSM lie from day 1
An NBC News reporter replied:
This is very interesting. Because, if true, it means the president lied about the reason he fired Flynn. It's a reminder that we still don't know what Flynn has given Mueller -- on Kushner, on the president, on anyone else. https://t.co/wzzb5urxlr— Ken Dilanian (@KenDilanianNBC) April 23, 2018
A New York Times writer summed up Rand Paul's progression on Pompeo's nomination:
A spokesman for Obama's Justice Department responded to Paul's shift:
For the thousandth time, I don’t know what it is about Trump that makes GOP politicians humiliate themselves for him like this. https://t.co/EHDCdeUS97— Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) April 23, 2018
From a Cook Political Report editor:
So, half of D's who voted for Pompeo as CIA won't confirm as SoS. The one R who voted NO is now OK. Seems to me that "policy" isn't the real issue here....— amy walter (@amyewalter) April 23, 2018
A Senate Republican attacked his Democratic colleagues for their opposition to the nomination:
From Obama's former NSC spokesman and a Crooked Media founder:
Tom Cotton held up an Obama nominee until she died just to spite the president. He redefined shameful political behavior. https://t.co/iBIfZwWqGX— Tommy Vietor (@TVietor08) April 23, 2018
Another House Republican called for the EPA administrator's resignation:
Yes EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt should resign. Wrong fit from start for agency dedicated to protecting our environment. #EarthDay2018 reinforces our need to promote pristine planet via clean air & water, leaving it better for future generations. Requires leadership & balance. https://t.co/kxuU0os8F9— Frank LoBiondo (@RepLoBiondo) April 22, 2018
A Post reporter added this detail:
Lots (and I mean lots) of folks in White House want EPA head Scott Pruitt gone. The one who makes the ultimate decision doesn't seem to agree. So Pruitt hangs on.— Josh Dawsey (@jdawsey1) April 23, 2018
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) returned home after his recent surgery:
The first lady sent her best wishes to George H.W. Bush:
Sending healing thoughts of strength, along with prayers, for President George HW Bush tonight.— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) April 24, 2018
A presidential historian shared this photo from 1948:
George H.W. Bush, Yale baseball captain, with Babe Ruth, 70 years ago this June: pic.twitter.com/Xzi9WxaCQ2— Michael Beschloss (@BeschlossDC) April 23, 2018
The French president took to the streets of D.C.:
French President Macron takes a stroll down 17th St. in DC pic.twitter.com/DqPPfuxafz— Jordan Fabian (@Jordanfabian) April 23, 2018
The two presidents discussed Trump's poll numbers:
The French Presidency has this in its readout of the Trump - Macron dinner at Mount Vernon: "they spoke about the US economy, President Trump's polls and preparations for the US midterm elections." Yes, his polls.— Philip Crowther (@PhilipinDC) April 24, 2018
A Talking Points Memo reporter provided this handy guide for the French president's D.C. visit:
And a royal family welcomed its newest member:
A former first lady offered her best wishes to the royal family:
Barack and I are thrilled to congratulate The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on their newest arrival! We hope to meet him soon for a Kensington Palace pajama party. I’ll wear my robe! pic.twitter.com/9zR7M049HR— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) April 23, 2018
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
-- ProPublica and Mother Jones, “Shutdown of Texas Schools Probe Shows Trump Administration Pullback on Civil Rights,” by Annie Waldman: “One Friday afternoon last October, after an incident at nearby Arthur L. Davila Middle School, a police officer arrested 13-year-old Trah’Vaeziah Jackson and brought her to the juvenile detention facility. She cried as employees patted her down, cut off her hair extensions, and took her photo and fingerprints. … Only after 8 p.m. was she permitted a phone call. She called her mother and sobbed into the receiver. How could this accident have turned into a jail sentence? … Across the country, hundreds of thousands of students of color, like Trah’Vaeziah, bear the brunt. Black students are almost four times as likely to receive an out-of-school suspension and twice as likely to be arrested as their white peers … ” But Betsy DeVos's Department of Education has closed at least 65 school discipline investigations opened by the Obama administration.
-- Bloomberg News, “Amazon Has a Top-Secret Plan to Build Home Robots,” by Mark Gurman and Brad Stone: “The retail and cloud computing giant has embarked on an ambitious, top-secret plan to build a domestic robot … Codenamed ‘Vesta,’ after the Roman goddess of the hearth, home and family, the project is overseen by Gregg Zehr, who runs Amazon’s Lab126 hardware research and development division[.] People briefed on the plan say the company hopes to begin seeding the robots in employees’ homes by the end of this year, and potentially with consumers as early as 2019 …” (Amazon's founder, Jeff Bezos, also owns the Washington Post.)
-- New York Times, “When — if Ever — Will the Super Bowl Champion Eagles Visit the White House?” by Ken Belson and Michael D. Shear: “Nearly three months after they won their first Super Bowl title, the Eagles have not announced details of a White House visit, raising questions about whether many members of the team, which has one of the most liberal owners in the N.F.L. and several prominent players who have said they oppose President Trump’s policies, want to be seen shaking hands with the president.” According to a recording of a meeting at NFL headquarters last October, Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie described Trump’s presidency as “disastrous,” using a vulgarity to emphasize the description before adding, “Don’t quote me.”
HOT ON THE LEFT:
“People Voted for Trump Because They Were Anxious, Not Poor,” from the Atlantic: “Less-educated whites were President Trump’s most enthusiastic supporters. But why, exactly? … In a new article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, [the University of Pennsylvania political scientist Diana C. Mutz] added her conclusion to the growing body of evidence that the 2016 election was not about economic hardship. ‘Instead,’ she writes, ‘it was about dominant groups that felt threatened by change and a candidate who took advantage of that trend.’ … [A] few things did correlate with support for Trump: a voter’s desire for their group to be dominant, as well as how much they disagreed with Clinton’s views on trade and China.”
HOT ON THE RIGHT
“Trump's Re-Elect Figures Similar to Those of Obama, Clinton,” from Gallup: “U.S. registered voters solidly believe that [Trump] does not deserve to be re-elected, by 59% to 37%. The percentage of voters who say Trump deserves re-election is essentially identical to that of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama at the time of the 1994 and 2010 midterm elections, respectively. … [Trump’s] re-elect figures do not match those of Clinton (40% in April 1994) and Obama (46% in March 2010) in the spring of their first midterm election years. However, by the time voters cast ballots in those presidents' first midterms that fall, the percentage of voters believing Clinton and Obama deserved to be re-elected had fallen to the same level Trump is at now.”
Trump and the first lady will participate in a ceremony this morning for the arrival of the Macrons. They will then receive guests from the official French delegation. Trump has meetings and a news conference with Macron before having lunch with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. And tonight the White House will host the state dinner with the Macrons.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“No sanctions lifted until we see concrete actions taken by North Korea to denuclearize.” — Sarah Huckabee Sanders
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- Rain will begin today and last through tomorrow in Washington. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Rain starts early to affect our morning commute. In most cases, it should be on the light side, but we could see some moderate/heavier periods at times during the day under cloudy skies. Rains and Atlantic breezes (from the east at 10 to 15 mph with higher gusts) hold temperatures to highs only in the 50s when we should be closer to 70 this time of year.”
-- The Capitals won their first-round playoff series against the Blue Jackets, defeating Columbus 6-3 in Game 6. They will next play the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins. (Isabelle Khurshudyan, Roman Stubbs, Mike Hume and Neil Greenberg)
-- The Nationals lost to the Giants 4-2. (Jorge Castillo)
-- Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) is enjoying an approval rating of 69 percent, an eight-point boost since February and his highest mark since fall 2016. As Hogan seeks to become only the second GOP Maryland governor in 60 years to be reelected, his approval rating in the state is a mirror image of Trump’s. Seventy percent of Marylanders disapprove of the president in the Goucher College poll. (Steve Thompson and Scott Clement)
-- The D.C. Council decided against reprimanding member Trayon White Sr. (D) for donating $500 to an event where Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan denounced Jews. White was already under fire for suggesting a Jewish banking family controlled the weather. (Fenit Nirappil and Peter Jamison)
-- “D.C.’s ride-hailing market has exploded over the past three years, more than quadrupling since late 2015 as Metro and taxi ridership have steadily fallen, statistics show, a sign that Uber and Lyft are probably creating thousands of new vehicle trips in the city,” Faiz Siddiqui reports.
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Stephen Colbert reveled in Trump's weekend tweeting spree:
The Trumps and the Macrons planted a tree on the White House's South Lawn:
White police officers wrestled a black woman to the ground at an Alabama Waffle House, sparking a sit-in and a response from the NAACP:
Cellphone footage captured a tornado ripping through a Florida town:
A “town crier” announced the birth of the new royal baby:
And The Post's video department decided to bring the town crier's pomp and circumstance to Washington: