Michael Scherer authored the Big Idea in today's edition as James is on vacation. We have a full slate of Post authors for you this week before James returns on Monday.

With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve.

THE BIG IDEA: When it comes to electoral politics, this is not normal long ago became the new normal. The latest transgression by the transgressor in chief just doesn’t seem to move the needle. (Send a bodyguard to raid a doctor’s office? Yawn.) Barring something major, like firing special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, it’s not clear the daily outrages have much more downside. And that’s good news for President Trump, who needs the upside of outrage to stay afloat.
Though many who work in Washington are wary of saying it, Trump’s big gambit has so far paid off — at least for him. He broke onto the scene as a political punchline making an argument no one else dared: He would gain more from breaking political, democratic and social norms than he would lose. To put it another way, losers behave like elites. Winners speculate baselessly about President Barack Obama’s birth certificate.
Just think of the past few months: The feds raid the personal lawyer of the president? A member of his senior staff is outed for alleged domestic violence? A porn star on "60 Minutes”? A Playboy playmate on CNN? 3,001 false or misleading claims in 466 days? 

The crowds were still ravenous in Washington, Mich., on Saturday, and Trump's approval numbers have ticked back up from their depths. April’s Quinnipiac poll had him at 41 percent approval, the highest level since March of 2017. 

Of course, those around Trump fare less well. Trump’s excesses are almost certain to hurt congressional Republicans in November, when Democrats are set to pick up seats in both the House and the Senate, if not control of the chambers.

The battleground House map runs right through suburban districts of blue cities like Philadelphia and Los Angeles, where independent women have outsized influence. Trump’s trade threats, meanwhile, imperil Republican hopes in farm country. 

But when Democratic strategists try to figure out how to go beyond those already driven to the streets by anger toward Trump, things quickly get complicated. Research by the Democratic super PAC Priorities USA has consistently pointed to the limits of targeting the spectacle of Trump. “I don’t think Stormy Daniels is going to produce one additional vote in almost any race that we run in 2018,” says Guy Cecil, who is overseeing the digital spending for the outside House and Senate Democratic groups this year. “We need to put a whole new set of issues in front of people.”
To highlight just how counterintuitive this can be for partisans, Cecil points to focus groups Priorities did with “Color of Change” in late 2017. 

“Overusing Donald Trump with black millennials is not only not effective, it actually decreases their likelihood to turnout and vote,” he says. “For 70 percent of our black millennials in ad testing and online panels, the fact that Donald Trump won, that he was the reaction to the first black president, is a sign that the whole system is rigged against them, that in fact their vote doesn’t actually contain power.”

That means Democrats need to bring something new to the table.

For this year's midterms, Democrats more or less know who they are: They are running to provide a check on Republican power, an idea that plays well even in red states like Tennessee, according to internal party polls. Democrats plan to focus on pointing to alleged Republican failures — the rising health-care costs, the tax cuts going disproportionately to the wealthy, the threat of more entitlement cuts. “A Better Deal” probably doesn’t need to get too wonky. Americans like to hedge their bets in off years.
But come 2020, the fight is going to shift back to Trump’s terrain, with a set of battleground states filled with working, white swing voters who have been caught for years in an economic vice and fear further status slippage.

As the University of Virginia’s Kyle Kondik has pointed out, some election models suggest Trump would have a better than even chance at winning, even if his approval number stays in the low 40s. Incumbency and a good economy tend to help. 
What is the Democratic deliverable then? Will it be another list of Clintonesque targeted priorities — minimum wage for the working poor, health care for the uninsured, cheaper college for young people, broadband for the countryside? Will it be something more radical like universal basic income? Will a candidate emerge to put it all together into some bigger theme that actually brings the country back together?
It’s too soon to tell. But it’s clear that Trump knows what he is running on. If you didn't watch Trump's speech Saturday night, take a good look. Between the typical outrages, the president spent an hour talking about what he is doing for the great middle of America. He is taking it to elites. He is appointing judges. He is defending the borders. He is fighting China. He is cutting regulations. He is trying something new in North Korea. 

At one point, in the political equivalent of a Freudian slip, Trump even brought on stage Corey Lewandowski, his fired 2016 campaign manager. “Thank you for supporting Donald J. Trump as your next President of the United States,” Lewandowski said.

The race is on. 

The Cybersecurity 202 is coming to your inboxes on May 9Derek Hawkins will break down the latest news on election security, major hacks and what lawmakers are planning to do about it all in the newest member of our 202 franchise. Sign up here.

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-- Mueller said he could subpoena Trump to appear before a grand jury if the president wouldn't agree to an interview with his team, scoop Carol D. Leonnig and Robert Costa: "In a tense meeting in early March with the special counsel, President Trump’s lawyers insisted he had no obligation to talk with federal investigators probing Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential campaign." The special counsel "responded that he had another option if Trump declined: He could issue a subpoena for the president to appear before a grand jury, according to four people familiar with the encounter."

"Mueller’s warning — the first time he is known to have mentioned a possible subpoena to Trump’s legal team — spurred a sharp retort from John Dowd, then the president’s lead lawyer. 'This isn’t some game,' Dowd said, according to two people with knowledge of his comments. 'You are screwing with the work of the president of the United States.'"

Carol and Bob say the "flare-up sparked weeks of turmoil" among Trump's lawyers about whether the president should talk to Mueller and the episode ended in Dowd's resignation. The March 5 meeting culminated in Mueller agreeing to give Trump's lawyers details about the subjects on which he wanted to question him. "With those details in hand, Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow compiled a list of 49 questions that the team believed the president would be asked, according to three of the four people." That list was first reported in the New York Times.

New Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani met with Mueller's team last week to reopen negotiations over a presidential interview. “Still, Trump remains strongly opposed to granting Mueller an interview — resistance fueled largely by the raids last month on the office and residences of his personal attorney Michael Cohen,” Carol and Bob report.

-- More security clearance problems: Trump’s lawyers lack the proper clearance to discuss issues surrounding the president’s possible interview with Mueller’s team. Bloomberg News's Shannon Pettypiece and Chris Strohm report: “Dowd had been the only member of the president’s personal legal team with a security clearance, [two sources] said. When Dowd quit in March over disagreements with Trump on legal strategy, Jay Sekulow became the lead lawyer on the investigation and is still waiting for his clearance.”

-- The New York Times's Charlie Savage explains why talking to Mueller may be a “minefield” for Trump: “Many of Mr. Mueller’s questions ... are so broad that Mr. Trump would need a detailed command of a range of issues. And, complicating efforts to try to adequately prepare him for such an encounter, the president’s lawyers do not know everything that the special counsel has learned ... 'This list reinforces the notion that the president should not go in for an interview with Mueller,' said Sol Wisenberg, a white-collar defense lawyer who was a deputy independent counsel in the Whitewater investigation. 'Mueller knows all kinds of things — we don’t know exactly what he knows — and these are both broad and detailed questions, making real land mines.'

-- Trump proved Michael's point that he knows his message in a tweet this morning (while trying to distract from the probe):


  1. A white supremacist captured beating a black man during last year’s violence in Charlottesville was found guilty of malicious wounding. The jury recommended a sentence of 10 years and a $20,000 fine as punishment for Jacob Scott Goodwin’s assault on DeAndre Harris. (Ian Shapira)

  2. The Trump administration is looking to bring James Shaw Jr., the man who took down the Waffle House shooter, to the White House. Trump has attracted criticism for failing to publicly thank Shaw, who is African American, or acknowledge the shooting’s four victims, who were all people of color. (Politico)

  3. Demonstrators in San Juan protesting against school closings, university tuition increases and potential pension cuts were met with tear gas. Puerto Ricans fear the austerity measures could force even more people to leave the island for the mainland United States. (New York Times)

  4. A new CDC report found that illnesses caused by ticks, mosquitoes and fleas have more than tripled in the United States between 2004 and 2016 — jumping from 27,388 annual cases to more than 96,000. (Lena H. Sun)

  5. Police in Washington, D.C., New York, Chicago and Las Vegas have loosened their policies to allow officers to shoot at fast-moving vehicles seeking to run down groups of pedestrians. Authorities said that, in extreme instances, opening fire on the driver of the vehicle might be the only way to save lives. (Peter Hermann)

  6. Facebook has begun implementing a system that ranks news organizations based on trustworthiness. Mark Zuckerberg said the company is gathering data on how consumers view news brands and whether they trust them. (BuzzFeed News)

  7. Facebook also announced it would create a dating tool through its platform. The move is several years in the making and continues the social media giant's trend of copying successful products from other companies. (Elizabeth Dwoskin)

  8. Kanye West said during a TMZ interview he believed slavery to be a “choice.” “When you hear about slavery for 400 years — for 400 years?” West said. “That sounds like a choice. Like, you was there for 400 years and it’s all of y’all? It’s like we’re mentally in prison.” TMZ employee Van Lathan replied, “I actually don’t think you’re thinking anything. … I think what you’re doing right now is actually the absence of thought.” (Marwa Eltagouri)


-- Rod Rosenstein, who is supervising the Mueller probe as the deputy attorney general, dismissed an attempt by a faction of hard-line House Republicans to impeach him. Rosenstein spoke at Law Day at the Newseum the day after the articles of impeachment were drafted by members of the House Freedom Caucus angry about the DOJ's document production (or lack thereof) about the Russia probe and the investigation into Hillary Clinton's email server. Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) called impeachment a “last resort,” but it's also a long shot as Republican leaders in Congress have urged Trump to allow Mueller to do his work.

“I think they should understand by now that the Department of Justice is not going to be extorted,” Rosenstein said, arguing he wouldn't comment on documents “that nobody has the courage to put their name on.” “We’re going to do what’s required by the rule of law, and any kind of threats that anybody makes are not going to affect the way we do our job.”

Meadows replied in a statement this way: Rosenstein’s “response to the draft articles of impeachment is reminiscent of our interactions with him over the past few months: a lot of rhetoric with little facts. If he believes being asked to do his job is ‘extortion,’ then Rod Rosenstein should step aside and allow us to find a new Deputy Attorney General — preferably one who is interested in transparency.”

-- Mueller’s team requested a two-month delay in sentencing Michael Flynn. Mueller’s prosecutors and Flynn’s lawyers told a federal court, “Due to the status of the special counsel's investigation, the parties do not believe that this matter is ready to be scheduled for a sentencing hearing at this time.” Prosecutors added they would provide an update on the sentencing, which was previously delayed, by June 29. (CNN)

-- As a personal-injury lawyer, Michael Cohen represented numerous clients who deliberately crashed cars to collect insurance money, according to a Rolling Stone investigation. From the magazine’s Seth Hettena: “Furthermore, investigations by insurers showed that several of Cohen's clients were affiliated with insurance fraud rings that repeatedly staged ‘accidents.’ And at least one person Cohen represented was indicted on criminal charges of insurance fraud while the lawsuit he had filed on her behalf was pending. Cohen also did legal work for a medical clinic whose principal was a doctor later convicted of insurance fraud for filing phony medical claims on purported ‘accident’ victims.

Taken together, a picture emerges that the personal attorney to the president of the United States was connected to a shadowy underworld of New York insurance fraud, a pervasive problem dominated by Russian organized crime that was costing the state's drivers an estimated $1 billion a year.” But there’s no evidence Cohen knowingly filed false claims, and he was never charged with any wrongdoing.

-- Former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein said she has turned over hundreds of campaign documents to the Senate Intelligence Committee as part of its Russia investigation — but not others she argues are protected by the Constitution. BuzzFeed News’s Emma Loop reports: “In a telephone interview … Stein said many of the documents she and her campaign recently sent to the [committee] were emails with RT, a Russian state-funded media network ... Stein, who made several appearances on RT during the 2016 presidential race, said the emails were largely about setting up interviews. Stein, however, has refused to hand over some documents from two of the six categories about which the committee inquired. One of those categories, according to a March letter from Stein’s lawyer … was for communications with ‘Russian persons,’ while the other asked for ‘all communications related to the campaign’s policy discussions regarding Russia.’”

-- Former Trump campaign aide Michael Caputo said the Senate Intelligence Committee's Russia has cost him over $125,000. After being interviewed by the panel behind closed doors yesterday, Caputo issued a statement saying, “Your investigation and others into the allegations of Trump campaign collusion with Russia are costing my family a great deal of money — more than $125,000 — and making a visceral impact on my children.” Caputo, who lives in the Buffalo area, added, “Now I must to move back to Washington, New York City, Miami or elsewhere, just so I can make enough money to pay off these legal bills. And I know I have you to thank for that.” (CNN)

-- Politico's Annie Karni has a theory about why Mueller hasn't yet called the first daughter to be interviewed: Is he saving those closest to the president for last? “She’s involved in everything,” said one former White House adviser who has previously clashed with the Trump children. “It’s odd. Unless they consider her that ‘T’ word,” for “target” of an investigation. “So far, only Ivanka Trump’s Washington enemies are actively floating the idea that she might be a 'target' of Mueller’s investigation – and therefore not called in as a witness. But former prosecutors and Justice Department lawyers said the fact that she has yet to be tapped — and that Mueller’s team, according to people familiar with the case, has not yet requested any documents related to her — says more about Mueller’s risk-averse process than it does about her lack of involvement in the events underpinning the Russia inquiry.”


-- Remember the glowing assessment of Trump's health from his longtime doctor, Dr. Harold Bornstein, during the 2016 campaign? Apparently it was not real. CNN’s Alex Marquardt and Lawrence Crook III have the story: “When [Bornstein] described in hyperbolic prose [Trump's] health in 2015, the language he used was eerily similar to the style preferred by his patient. It turns out the patient himself wrote it, according to Bornstein. ‘He dictated that whole letter. I didn't write that letter,’ Bornstein [said]. ‘I just made it up as I went along.’ The admission is an about face from his answer more than two years when the letter was released …'His physical strength and stamina are extraordinary,' he crowed in the letter, which was released by Trump's campaign in December 2015. 'If elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.' ... ‘That's black humor, that letter. That's my sense of humor,’ he said. ‘It's like the movie 'Fargo': It takes the truth and moves it in a different direction.’”

-- Bornstein said Trump's bodyguard Keith Schiller and the top Trump Organization lawyer showed up unannounced to his New York office in February 2017 and seized all of the president’s medical records. NBC News's Anna R. Schecter reports: “The incident, which Dr. Harold Bornstein described as a ‘raid,’ took place two days after Bornstein told a newspaper that he had prescribed a hair growth medicine for the president for years. In an [interview] … Bornstein [said] he felt ‘raped, frightened and sad’ when [Schiller] and another ‘large man’ came to his office to collect the president's records … At the time, Schiller … was serving as director of Oval Office operations at the White House. ‘They must have been here for 25 or 30 minutes,’ [said Bornstein], who described the incident as frightening. Bornstein said he was not given a form authorizing the release of the records and signed by the president — known as a HIPAA release — which is a violation of patient privacy law.”

Bornstein appeared to corroborate NBC's story while speaking to a CBS News reporter:

-- EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s controversial trip to Morocco was partly organized by a lobbyist who shortly afterward received a lucrative contract with the Moroccan government. From Kevin Sullivan, Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis: “Richard Smotkin, a former Comcast lobbyist who has known the EPA administrator for years, worked for months with Pruitt’s aides to hammer out logistics, according to four individuals familiar with those preparations. In April, Smotkin won a $40,000-a-month contract, retroactive to Jan. 1, with the Moroccan government to promote the kingdom’s cultural and economic interests. He recently registered as a foreign agent representing that government. … Smotkin’s role in arranging the whirlwind visit raises many questions. Federal laws prohibit public officials from using government resources to financially benefit friends, relatives or other people with whom they have personal connections. … Ethics experts note that it is highly unusual for someone outside the U.S. government to help arrange such travel details for the head of a federal agency.”

Pruitt’s trip also cost more than twice as much as originally reported: “Information obtained by The Washington Post shows the visit’s cost exceeded $100,000, more than twice what has been previously reported — including $16,217 for Pruitt’s Delta Air Lines fare and $494 for him to spend one night at a luxury hotel in Paris. He was accompanied by eight staffers and his round-the-clock security detail.”

And many Moroccan officials would not even confirm having met with Pruitt: “Pruitt’s public schedule lists back-to-back appointments on the morning of Dec. 12 with Mounia Boucetta, a top official in the foreign ministry; Aziz Rabbah, the minister of energy, mines and sustainable development; and Justice Minister Mohamed Aujjar. Reached on his cellphone, Aujjar was asked about his meeting with Pruitt. He said ‘Who?’ three times as the reporter repeated Pruitt’s name, then referred questions to his spokeswoman, who did not answer repeated requests for confirmation of the two men’s meeting. Boucetta and her spokesman did not respond to repeated requests for confirmation of her meeting with Pruitt. Rabbah’s spokeswoman initially said he would do an in-person interview, then a few hours later said he was no longer available. She later would not confirm that meeting because she said his schedule was ‘confidential.’”

-- Two top aides to Pruitt have left the EPA amid their own ethics controversies. From Juliet, Brady and Emma Brown: “[Albert ‘Kell’ Kelly] joined Pruitt at the EPA a year ago to head up a task force examining ways to improve and streamline the agency’s Superfund program. Around the same time, as part of a civil settlement, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation fined him $125,000, and it later banned him from banking altogether. Kelly’s resignation was one of two high-profile EPA departures Tuesday. The head of Pruitt’s personal security detail, Pasquale ‘Nino’ Perrotta, also announced his retirement from the agency. Perrotta faces congressional scrutiny for his role in Pruitt’s security arrangements, which have been more extensive than those of previous EPA administrators. He initially had planned to step down this summer but accelerated his retirement, officials said.”

-- With no clear front-runner to be the next Veterans Affairs secretary, the White House is preparing for another difficult confirmation battle. From CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, Sarah Westwood, Pamela Brown and Juana Summers: “A White House official said five candidates are under consideration to lead the VA, a number that could fluctuate. The official didn't detail the names on the list, though speculation about potential candidates is rampant. West Wing staffers met Tuesday to discuss how to move forward, the official said. The fact that there's no clear plan B — rumored candidates range from chief of staff John Kelly to a former Florida congressman who has never served in the armed forces and has been previously passed over for the job — suggests the administration is poised for another tumultuous nomination process even as it tries to learn lessons from the Jackson debacle.”

-- The Pentagon has launched an investigation into Ronny Jackson. From the Wall Street Journal’s Nancy A. Youssef: “The Defense Department’s Office of Inspector General is conducting the probe into allegations against Dr. Jackson and will decide afterward what further investigation or action should be taken, Pentagon spokesman Tom Crosson said in a statement. The Pentagon didn’t detail the specific allegations being reviewed or their source.”

-- Jared Kushner has had multiple conversations with Kim Kardashian West about a potential presidential pardon for Alice Marie Johnson, who is serving a life sentence for a non-violent drug offense. Mic’s Jake Horowitz and Kendall Ciesemier report: “The telephone calls, according to a source with knowledge of the conversations, have taken place over the course of the past several months and have picked up in intensity over the last several days. … The source with knowledge of the conversations also [said] that Johnson’s case has been reviewed by White House attorneys. Johnson, who has been in federal prison since October 1996, has captured international attention from criminal reform activists — and Kardashian West.”

-- A former Trump administration official who resigned over past racist comments he made on his radio show is now defending his remarks. CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski reports: “[Carl] Higbie is the director of advocacy at America First Policies, a nonprofit that works to promote Trump's agenda. A former Navy SEAL, Higbie resigned from his position in January as the public face of the federal government agency that oversees AmericCorps and other public service programs … Higbie said on his radio show in 2013 and 2014 that ‘the black race’ has ‘a lax of morality’ and that black women ‘think that breeding is a form of employment.’ Higbie initially apologized in January for his remarks but is now defending them. Speaking Friday with ‘The John Fredericks Show,’ a Virginia-based local radio program, Higbie claimed some of his comments were ‘statistical’ observations and taken out of context.”


-- Solicitor General Noel Francisco, defending the third version of Trump’s travel ban before the Supreme Court, admitted he misstated the date when the president made it “crystal clear” the policy was not a Muslim ban. From Robert Barnes: “Francisco told the court in a letter Tuesday that he meant to say the statement came on Jan. 25, 2017, in an ABC interview that is cited in the government’s briefs — not on ‘September 25th,’ as he said in oral arguments last week. … At issue was whether Trump’s past statements about a ban on Muslim entry forever tainted his actions and showed a discriminatory intent, or whether an apology would essentially clear the slate.” Two issues with Francisco’s correction: That interview concerned the first version of the travel ban, but the court is considering the third version. And Trump makes no mention in the January 2017 interview of the “crystal clear” reference Francisco cited, instead simply saying the policy is “not the Muslim ban.”

-- Eighteen states led by California sued the Trump administration over its efforts to roll back the Obama-era fuel efficiency standards. Chris Mooney reports: “Pruitt in April said he would revisit the Obama-era rules, which aim to raise efficiency requirements to about 50 miles per gallon by 2025. Pruitt’s agency said that the standards are ‘based on outdated information’ and that new data suggests ‘the current standards may be too stringent.’ But in the lawsuit, the states contend that the EPA acted ‘arbitrarily and capriciously’ in changing course on the greenhouse gas regulations. … California has a separate set of standards that, because of the state’s huge car market, have pushed automakers to produce more fuel-efficient vehicles. … But the Trump administration is poised to argue that the state’s current efforts conflict with a 1975 law setting up federal fuel-economy standards … ”

-- Meanwhile, seven other states led by Texas sued the administration over its failure to cancel DACA. From Maria Sacchetti: “The lawsuit signals growing GOP frustration with President Trump’s struggles to advance his immigration policies and could lead to conflicting federal court decisions that would put the fates of 690,000 immigrants known as ‘dreamers’ in the hands of a deeply divided Supreme Court.” The lawsuit argues the Obama-era program is unlawful because it did not receive congressional approval.

-- U.S. officials allowed a second group of Central American asylum seekers into the country, breaking with Trump and other GOP allies who have seized on members of the so-called caravans as proof of a broken immigration system. Kevin Sieff and Seung Min Kim report: “By Tuesday morning, 14 of the 150 migrants had been escorted to the San Ysidro port of entry in San Diego to begin their asylum proceedings — what appeared to be a blow to Trump's stern pledge to prevent them from reaching American soil ... The U.S. government was obliged to grant the migrants asylum interviews under international treaties, but the arc of their cases is impossible to predict and the process could take months or even years.”

-- The administration has ignored an executive order requiring officials to release a report on how many civilians are killed in U.S. counterterrorism strikes. Greg Jaffe reports: “The mandate for the report, which was due May 1, was established by [Obama] in 2016 as part of a broader effort to lift the veil of secrecy surrounding drone operations in places such as Yemen, Somalia and Libya. The White House has not formally rescinded the Obama-era executive order but has chosen not to comply with some aspects of it. ‘The executive order that requires the civilian casualty report is under review’ and could be ‘modified’ or ‘rescinded,’ a White House spokesman said. The White House declined to say who is conducting the review, how long it has been ongoing and when it is expected to be completed.”

-- Trump’s former HHS secretary, Tom Price, predicted Americans purchasing insurance through Obamacare exchanges would pay more due to the GOP tax bill. “There are many, and I’m one of them, who believes that [the repeal of the individual mandate] actually will harm the pool in the exchange market, because you’ll likely have individuals who are younger and healthier not participating in that market, and consequently that drives up the cost for other folks within that market,” Price said at the World Health Care Conference in Washington. By contrast, Price said last summer, “The individual mandate is one of those things that is actually driving up the cost for the American people in terms of coverage.” (Jeff Stein)

-- White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said any country granted an exemption from Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs will face other restrictions. From Politico’s Megan Cassella: “‘The guiding principle of this administration, from the president down to his team, is that any country or entity like the European Union, which is exempt from the tariffs, will have a quota and other restrictions,’ [Navarro] said at a meeting of steel industry executives hosted by the American Iron and Steel Institute and the Steel Manufacturers Association.”


-- Nancy Pelosi reiterated her intention to run for the speakership if Democrats take back the House. From David Weigel: “[Pelosi told] the Boston Globe that it’s ‘important that it not be five white guys at the table’ in negotiations between Congress and the White House. ‘I have no intention of walking away from that table,’ Pelosi said. … But in competitive races, many Democrats have put distance between themselves and Pelosi, with some outright refusing to back her for speaker. In North Carolina, where [House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (Md.)] is spending Tuesday and Wednesday raising money and meeting candidates in two swing districts, both of the candidates in those races have declined to support Pelosi.”

-- Tea leaves? Florida Democrats secured their fourth victory in local races since the 2016 election. From Politico’s Marc Caputo: “On Tuesday, in Florida’s 114th House District in Miami, Javier Fernandez beat Republican Andrew Vargas by about 4.1 percentage points, despite being outspent by at least 2-1 in a swing seat where voters split their tickets between both parties in the 2016 elections. … Fernandez’s win follows a shocking February victory by Democrat Margaret Good in Florida’s 72nd House District, which voted for [Trump]. Democrats also won Florida’s 40th Senate District in Miami-Dade and St. Petersburg’s mayoral race. Those last two elections had Democratic-leaning electorates with significant minority populations, unlike the 72nd in Sarasota and, to a lesser degree, the 114th District.”

-- Former Democratic congressman Alan Grayson, who faced domestic abuse allegations and got into an altercation with a reporter during his 2016 Senate bid, is running for his House seat in Florida again. From John Wagner: “His decision sets up a showdown in the Democratic primary with Rep. Darren Soto, the first Florida congressman of Puerto Rican descent, who succeeded Grayson after he made an unsuccessful Senate bid in 2016. Grayson, an unabashed liberal who once bragged that his supporters would be willing to ‘crawl naked over hot coals’ to vote for him, said in an interview that he’s running again ‘because it’s what the people want.’ ‘My support in my old district is still very high,’ Grayson said … ”

-- Florida’s Republican Gov. Rick Scott has already spent more than $5 million on television ads in his Senate bid against incumbent Bill Nelson (D). Scott has likely used his personal wealth to boost his early funding as he did for his gubernatorial campaigns. (Politico)

-- Self-funded businessman Mike Braun is on the brink of defeating Reps. Luke Messer and Todd Rokita in Indiana’s GOP Senate primary. Politico’s Steven Shepard reports: “[Braun] emerged seemingly out of nowhere last fall and is now on the brink of dispatching Rokita and Messer by portraying them as a pair of interchangeable D.C. swamp creatures. Powering Braun’s effort is nearly $6 million of his own money that he’s loaned or given to his campaign to capture the nomination to face Sen. Joe Donnelly in the fall. If Braun prevails next week — he is seen as the nominal favorite and has vastly outspent his opponents — it would stand as one of the first real surprises in a Republican primary this election cycle. It would also serve as a blunt demonstration of how anti-Washington, anti-incumbent sentiment could shape the outcome of the November elections.”

-- Almost 13,000 television ads have mentioned Hillary Clinton since the start of the year. USA Today’s Chrissie Thompson and Deirdre Shesgreen report: “More than 5,000 TV commercials this year have mentioned Clinton, all in [Ohio’s] GOP primary for governor. Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor and Attorney General Mike DeWine each claim real-Republican status, using Clinton to try to cast doubt on their opponent's conservative credentials. … Republicans in the Ohio governor's race ran the most ads, followed by West Virginia Republicans running for governor and the GOP candidates for Indiana Senate. Only [Obama] has appeared in more ads. … The strategy could forecast a slew of anti-Clinton ads this fall in states [Trump] won handily as Republicans try to beat back Democrats' push to regain control of Congress.”

-- A Democrat running to unseat Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.) released an undercover video that showed him purchasing a semiautomatic rifle at a gun show without a background check in under 10 minutes. From Jenna Portnoy: “Dan Helmer, an Army veteran, said he bought a firearm similar to the one he carried in Iraq and Afghanistan to show how easy it is to legally obtain an ‘incredibly dangerous piece of weaponry that’s meant for war’ from a private seller. … Helmer wants to close the ‘gun show loophole’ that allows anyone to buy a weapon from an unlicensed seller without scrutiny. The video is the latest volley in the six-way Democratic primary, in which each candidate is calling for tougher gun laws.”


The Twitterati had much to say about Trump's reported dictation of Dr. Bornstein's health report. From a New York Times reporter:

From HuffPost's Washington bureau chief:

Another Post writer provided this list:

From a writer for the Atlantic:

From a Daily Beast reporter:

The news caused this 2015 Trump tweet to recirculate:

Fair point from a Post reporter:

From a former Democratic congressman:

Former secretary of state John Kerry defended the Iran nucelar deal:

Obama's former NSC spokesman responded to reports that Israel coordinated its release of Iran documents with the White House:

The managing editor of the Washington Examiner replied:

Vice President Pence applauded former sheriff Joe Arpaio:

From a CNN reporter:

An NPR anchor criticized some of her fellow journalists' response to the White House Correspondents' Association dinner:

And a Democratic commentator responded to Kanye West's latest controversial remarks:


-- “‘Is this a thing? Is this a . . . boom?’: How Washington copes with the insane Trump-era news cycle,” by Ben Terris: “Across the country, but especially in and around Washington, people are trying to figure out how to consume news when the news is all-consuming. Every time news breaks, it means thousands of people look to their loved ones, to Twitter, to Slack and ask: Does this matter? Is this a thing? Is this . . . a boom?

-- “Syria, a love story,” by Louisa Loveluck, Suzan Haidamous and Greg Betza: “The uprising back home in Syria had put her family on a collision course with tragedy from day one. Marwa had not chosen her husband’s sacrifices, but her life had been overtaken by them. She was tired, lonely, sometimes angry. She wanted a sign that he still remembered, that he was sorry for how he’d left her. She wanted him back. So she asked the caller to tell her everything, and as she closed her eyes and listened, time seemed to freeze.”

-- New York Times, “A Very German Love Story: When Old Left and Far Right Share a Bedroom,” by Katrin Bennhold: “He accuses her of forgetting history. She accuses him of obsessing with history. He calls her a racist. She calls him a national masochist. Helmut Lethen, 79, and Caroline Sommerfeld, 42, are both writers. They represent two generations and two intellectual camps in an ever more divided Germany. They are political enemies. And they are married.”

-- Politico Magazine, “The Baby Boom in Congress,” by Jennifer Haberkorn: “Forty-five years before Tammy Duckworth made history on April 9 by becoming the first to give birth while serving as a senator, then-Rep. Yvonne Brathwaite Burke, a Democrat from Los Angeles, did so by becoming the first member of Congress to announce that she was expecting a baby. Of the 10 women who have given birth while serving in Congress, five are still in office. I talked with nine of the women — let’s call them the Labor Caucus — to find out what the Capitol is like for a working mother. For 535 lawmakers and their staffs, Congress, too, is a workplace — one that is just now catching up to changes that started taking place decades ago.”


“Sen. Dianne Feinstein says she no longer opposes legal marijuana,” from Keith McMillan: “Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) no longer opposes the legal use of marijuana, she told McClatchy in an interview on Tuesday. ‘Federal law enforcement agents should not arrest Californians who are adhering to California law,’ said Feinstein, who is facing a challenge in the Democratic primary from state Sen. Kevin de León. The senator, a longtime opponent of legalization who has been called ‘California’s last prohibitionist’ by Leafly, a pro-cannabis website, changed her views after meetings with constituents, her office said. California, which is one of nine states that allow recreational marijuana use, along with the District of Columbia, voted to legalize in 2016, via Proposition 64. Feinstein was strongly opposed at the time, although she supported medical marijuana use. Citing her time on the California parole board in the 1960s, Feinstein told an Associated Press reporter that marijuana is a gateway drug. She said Prop 64 did not do enough to protect young people and motorists.”



‘It’s just a dress:' Teen’s Chinese prom attire stirs cultural appropriation debate,” from Samantha Schmidt: “Like many [teenagers], Utah senior Keziah Daum wanted to find a [prom] dress that would stand out, [and] came across a red cheongsam, also known as a qipao — the high-collared, form-fitting traditional Chinese dress. ‘I thought it was absolutely beautiful,’ said Daum, who is not Chinese. …. She had no idea it would elicit such a response. ‘My culture is NOT your …. prom dress,’ a man named Jeremy Lam tweeted days later, sharing the photos she posted. ‘I’m proud of my culture, including the extreme barriers marginalized people within that culture have had to overcome …’ Lam also wrote. ‘For it to simply be subject to American consumerism and cater to a white audience, is parallel to colonial ideology.’ The tweet [was shared some] 42,000 times [and] spurred an onslaught of similar criticism … Others condemned the attacks on the high school student who just barely turned 18.” “So this dude found a random girl online and convinced 100k people to bully her over a prom dress,” tweeted YouTube personality Ethan Klein.



Trump will participate in Secretary Mike Pompeo’s swearing-in ceremony at the State Department today. He will later have lunch with Pence and HHS Secretary Alex Azar before delivering a speech at the National Teacher of the Year reception.


Trump addressed speculation he could win the Nobel Peace Prize for bringing change to the Korean Peninsula: “I just think that President Moon was very nice when he suggested it. I want to get peace. The main thing, we want to get peace. It was a big problem, and I think it's going to work out well.”



-- Temperatures could near 90 in the District today. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “With high pressure parked over the western Atlantic Ocean, we have a decidedly summerlike flow of air from the southwest. That means morning temperatures rising into the 60s and 70s, and afternoon highs reaching the mid-80s to near 90 under mostly sunny skies.”

-- The Capitals defeated the Penguins 4-3. Washington now leads the series 2-1. (Isabelle Khurshudyan, Roman Stubbs, Scott Allen and Neil Greenberg)

-- The Nationals beat the Pirates 12-4. (Chelsea Janes)

-- A candidate in Virginia’s Republican Senate primary sued the state GOP for allegedly unfairly excluding him from the ballot. Jenna Portnoy and Laura Vozzella report: “First-time candidate Ivan Raiklin filed a lawsuit in federal court in Richmond, asking the court to temporarily block the state from printing or sending absentee ballots without his name on them.”

-- The president of George Mason University called for a review of financial gift agreements supporting faculty positions. From Sarah Larimer: “[George Mason President Ángel Cabrera] said that he wanted to ensure that the university’s polices and practices provided strong protection for its academic independence. He said that if officials did find active agreements or flag policies that compromise that independence, the university would take ‘swift and transparent corrective action.’”

-- A teenage boy was fatally stabbed near the NoMa-Gallaudet Metro station. Officials at KIPP DC College Preparatory high school said the victim was enrolled there. (Peter Hermann)


Seth Meyers imagined what questions Trump might have for Mueller if their roles were reversed:

A pro-Trump super PAC released an attack ad on Sen. Jon Tester as the president has called on the Montana Democrat to resign for tanking Ronny Jackson’s nomination as VA secretary:

The Post fact-checked whether James Comey leaked classified information:

Trump met with crew and passengers from the Southwest Airlines flight that suffered engine failure, killing one woman, last month:

Former Obama White House staffer Darren Martin, who is African American, recounted having the police called on him as he attempted to move in to his New York apartment:

Drivers in Houston faced off in a battle of rock, paper, scissors to determine whether one motorist could merge into a crowded lane:

And a pair of pelicans crashed Pepperdine University's graduation ceremony: