with Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve
These pieces are getting overshadowed amid a slew of other dramatic developments: The Democratic attorney general of New York, Eric Schneiderman, resigned in disgrace after four women credibly accused him of assault. Don Blankenship, who served a year-long prison sentence following the deaths of 29 miners at his coal mine, may win today’s Republican primary for Senate in West Virginia. The National Rifle Association tapped as its next president Oliver North, a central figure in the Iran-contra scandal who was convicted of obstructing Congress, unlawfully mutilating government documents and taking an illegal gratuity. (These were later overturned on appeal.) Last but certainly not least, Trump could withdraw the United States from the Iranian nuclear agreement this afternoon — which would be his most significant foreign policy move since taking office.
There’s much more on all of that further down, but here are five tangible things the Trump administration is trying to do here at home that should also be on your radar:
1. Separating immigrant parents from their children:
Attorney General Jeff Sessions pledged that the Justice Department will prosecute every migrant who illegally crosses the southern border, even if it means separating children from their parents. “In separate speeches — one in Scottsdale, Ariz., the other in San Diego — Sessions said the Department of Homeland Security will begin referring such cases to the Justice Department for prosecution,” Sari Horwitz and Maria Sacchetti report. “Federal prosecutors will ‘take on as many of those cases as humanly possible until we get to 100 percent,’ he said. … The ‘zero-tolerance’ measure announced Monday could split up thousands of families because children are not allowed in criminal jails. Until now, most families apprehended crossing the border illegally have been released to await civil deportation hearings.”
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D) suggested that he might sue: “As a father, the last thing I would do is separate fathers and mothers from their children and I would hope the federal government thinks twice about doing this. There are constitutional protections we can look to.”
Said Sessions, “If you don’t want your child separated, then don’t bring them across the border illegally.”
In a news dump last Friday, DHS separately announced that more than 50,000 Hondurans who have been allowed to live and work in the United States since 1999 will have 20 months to leave the country or face deportation.
2. Rolling back anti-segregation rules at HUD:
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development quietly put a three-page notice in the Federal Register in January to suspend an Obama-era rule requiring communities to examine and address barriers to racial integration. HUD Secretary Ben Carson, who has long criticized federal efforts to desegregate American neighborhoods as “failed socialist experiments,” is now allowing local and state governments to continue receiving grants even if they don’t comply with the full requirements of the 1968 Fair Housing Act.
Fair-housing advocates are filing a lawsuit today against Carson that alleges HUD did not provide legally required advance public notice or opportunity for comment.
“The 2015 rule, developed over a six-year period, required every community receiving HUD funding to assess local segregation patterns, diagnose the barriers to fair housing and develop a plan to correct them,” Tracy Jan reports. “Most communities were supposed to submit their plans to HUD every five years, beginning in 2016. Communities without HUD-approved plans would no longer receive federal housing dollars …
“HUD said it based its decision on the fact that more than a third of the 49 plans initially submitted to the agency were rejected as incomplete or inconsistent with fair-housing and civil rights requirements. Fair-housing advocates who helped develop the rule under the Obama administration said that is precisely why the rule is necessary and that nearly all of the rejected plans were soon accepted after HUD officials stepped in to help. Housing advocates said the retreat would perpetuate housing segregation, given earlier assessments that the previous provisions were essentially toothless. … A HUD spokesman declined to comment on the lawsuit.”
3. Clawing back funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program:
To mollify fiscal conservatives who are angry about the trillion-dollar deficits he's racking up, Trump is sending a plan to Congress that would cut $15 billion in spending that’s already been approved. “Almost half of the proposed cuts would come from two accounts within [CHIP] that White House officials said expired last year or are not expected to be drawn upon,” Damian Paletta and Erica Werner report. “An additional $800 million in cuts would come from money created by the Affordable Care Act in 2010 to test innovative payment and service delivery models. Those are just a handful of the more than 30 programs the White House is proposing to Congress for ‘rescission’ … Once the White House sends the request to Congress, lawmakers have 45 days to vote on the plan or a scaled-back version of it through a simple majority vote. … White House officials insisted that the CHIP cuts would not affect access to health care.”
Democrats uniformly expressed opposition while Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) pronounced herself “greatly” concerned by the proposal. “I was an original co-sponsor … and it matters a lot to me,” she said.
Economics correspondent Heather Long makes the case that this is just political posturing by a president who remains fundamentally unserious about the debt: “Since becoming president, Trump enacted a massive tax cut for corporations and many individuals that is projected to add at least $1.3 trillion to the deficit over the next decade (plus additional interest costs), according to the Congressional Budget Office. Then Congress and the president agreed to a two-year budget deal that will add $300 billion more to America's debt, the CBO says. After approving an additional $1,600,000,000 in spending since December alone, Trump now wants to cut $15,000,000 (or 0.9 percent).”
4. The repeal of the individual mandate is contributing to rising premiums for sick people:
“Insurers are proposing double-digit premium increases in Maryland's individual-health-plan market, a consequence of what the state’s health insurance commissioner called a ‘death spiral,’” Carolyn Johnson reports. “CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield requested an 18.5 percent increase on the HMO plans used by the vast majority of its individual-plan members — and a whopping, 91.4 percent increase on its PPO plans. Kaiser Permanente requested a 37.4 percent increase on its HMO plans. The average rate increase requested, across insurers and plans, was 30 percent. The rate requests are an early sign of the trends in the individual marketplace …”
CareFirst chief executive Chet Burrell said he “believes the Trump administration’s move to zero out the individual mandate penalty for not being insured in 2019 will exacerbate the premium increases, but he said it is too soon to know precisely what those effects will be. … In a statement, Kaiser Permanente said its rate requests ‘reflect the expected costs of providing coverage for these members, including the impact of eliminating the individual mandate penalty.’”
Alfred W. Redmer Jr., Maryland’s health insurance commissioner, said soaring premiums are causing healthy people to drop out of the insurance pool, leaving only sick people behind: “He noted that in March 2017, there were 243,000 people enrolled in individual plans, and a year later, there are only about 211,000. He said those who dropped coverage were likely healthy people, whose premiums no longer help underwrite the costs of people who are heavy users of the health-care system.”
Gov. Larry Hogan (R), up for reelection in a blue state, called for federal help. “We are working with our federal partners to expedite approval for Maryland’s reinsurance waiver, and we continue to call for action at the federal level to fix our broken health insurance system,” he said in a statement.
5. Gutting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau:
Today’s New York Times highlights several of the ways Mick Mulvaney is working to gut the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. From Glenn Thrush and Alan Rappeport: “Since taking over in November, he has halted all new investigations, frozen hiring, stopped data collection and proposed cutting off public access to a database of consumer complaints. He dropped most cases against payday lenders — a primary focus of the consumer bureau — and also proposed scrapping a new rule that would have heightened scrutiny of an industry accused of trapping vulnerable customers in a cycle of debt. And he has tried hard to persuade Congress to take away funding authority for the bureau from the Federal Reserve — so that Congress can cut it. …
“At the bureau’s headquarters near the White House, Mr. Mulvaney has touched off a polite but ferocious civil war, walling himself off behind the new frosted glass walls, while career civil servants, largely excluded from decision making, battle him to preserve the original mission of the agency. … Some cases have been closed or paused indefinitely, and several current bureau staff members expressed concern that Mr. Mulvaney could soon drop a major case against Navient, the student loan company accused of cheating borrowers.”
“There are lots of targets of opportunity over there for Mick,” Marc Short, Trump’s legislative affairs director, told the paper. “He’s like a mosquito in a nudist colony.”
-- Some very exciting news: The Cybersecurity 202 launches tomorrow morning. We’re pumped about the continuing success of The Daily 202 franchise and thrilled to aggressively cover a new frontier with a reporter as talented as Derek Hawkins. To get daily scoops and smart analysis about the politics and policy of cybersecurity, sign up here.
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman resigned, just hours after he was accused of physically abusing four women in an article published by the New Yorker. From Mark Berman and Marwa Eltagouri: “Two women, Michelle Manning Barish and Tanya Selvaratnam, told the New Yorker on the record that they had been in romantic relationships with Schneiderman when he choked and slapped them, leading them to seek medical treatment. They described patterns of emotional as well as physical abuse. Selvaratnam said Schneiderman warned her he could have her followed and her phones tapped. Both women said he threatened to kill them if they ended their relationships with him … The New Yorker also said a third woman made similar accusations of nonconsensual physical violence, while a fourth — described as an attorney who has held high positions in the New York legal sphere — told the magazine that when she rejected one of Schneiderman’s advances, he ‘slapped her across the face with such force that it left a mark that lingered the next day.’ All four women said their physical abuse was not consensual.”
-- Read the full New Yorker piece, by Jane Mayer and Ronan Farrow.
-- Schneiderman denied assaulting the women: “In the privacy of intimate relationships, I have engaged in role-playing and other consensual sexual activity. … I have never engaged in nonconsensual sex, which is a line I would not cross.”
-- He resigned after a chorus of New York Democrats, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, quickly called on him to quit. But he was not contrite: “In the last several hours, serious allegations, which I strongly contest, have been made against me. While these allegations are unrelated to my professional conduct or the operations of the office, they will effectively prevent me from leading the office’s work at this critical time.”
-- Schneiderman, who was coasting to a third term this year, was considered a rising star and the probable next governor of New York. He’s been a leader of the anti-Trump resistance, filing as many suits against the administration as anyone else. He’d also positioned himself as a champion for women, launching a civil rights suit in February against the movie producer Harvey Weinstein. He’s also been reviewing how the Manhattan district attorney handled a sexual assault allegation against Weinstein. (Ironically, the same D.A. will likely now investigate him.) The New York Police Department said in a statement that it does not have any complaints on file regarding Schneiderman but will “investigate them thoroughly” if they are filed.
-- Trump has routinely attacked Schneiderman since the attorney general sued him five years ago for fraud related to Trump University. Trump settled for $25 million shortly after the election. (Philip Bump looks at the long, angry feud.)
-- The Capitals defeated the Penguins 2-1 in overtime of Game 6 of the second-round playoffs, reaching the Eastern Conference Finals. It's the first time since 1998 that one of D.C.'s four major sports teams have reached a conference final. From Isabelle Khurshudyan, Roman Stubbs, Scott Allen and Neil Greenberg: “The scene of the Washington Capitals vanquishing a 20-year-old ghost saw goaltender Braden Holtby skating up the ice, his glove and blocker thrown upward in celebration. Half the Capitals’ bench exalted around him. The other half mobbed Evgeny Kuznetsov, the hero who had smoothly skated up to the Pittsburgh Penguins’ net and buried his breakaway opportunity in overtime. Washington’s two celebratory huddles eventually merged. Captain Alex Ovechkin looked up and exhaled, a career-long weight suddenly lifted. ... 'Thank God it’s happened,' Ovechkin said. 'Move forward.'”
-- More team coverage:
- “Capitals’ win puts a dagger in the D.C. sports ‘curse,’” by Adam Kilgore.
- “On one play, Alex Ovechkin and the Caps exorcise decades of D.C. demons,” by Barry Svrluga.
- “Washingtonians go bonkers after Caps’ overtime win,” by Dan Steinberg.
- “Evgeny Kuznetsov’s overtime goal: Watch it, listen to it, never forget it,” by Scott Allen.
- “That Caps win was Washington’s biggest since … ” by Scott Allen.
- “‘We haven’t had this feeling for a little bit’: Sudden end leaves Penguins in unfamiliar position,” by Roman Stubbs.
GET SMART FAST:
Oliver North was named the new president of the National Rifle Association. The retired Marine lieutenant colonel is best known for his role in the Iran-contra affair, which led to his 1989 conviction of charges including obstructing Congress and unlawfully mutilating government documents. The charges were later dropped. (Katie Zezima)
Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.) was sworn into the House. Lesko won a special election last month to replace former congressman Trent Franks, who resigned in December amid accusations of harassment. (Mike DeBonis)
Federal rules requiring restaurant, grocery and convenience store chains to post calorie counts went into effect. Congress passed the menu-labeling law in 2010, but the FDA delayed the rules’ implementation last year. (Caitlin Dewey)
Hundreds of Hawaiian residents are waiting out the recent activity from the Kilauea volcano in Red Cross shelters and local churches. One woman discovered her home had been destroyed by lava through a video circulating online. (Amy B Wang)
Officials from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s district acknowledged accused shooter Nikolas Cruz participated in a controversial disciplinary program. The PROMISE program, which allows students who commit certain misdemeanors to avoid the criminal justice system, has been criticized by some as too lenient. (WJCT)
George Zimmerman was charged with stalking and harassing a private investigator who contacted him about a documentary on Trayvon Martin. The documentary series will be about the life and death of Martin, whom Zimmerman shot and killed in 2012. The charges allege Zimmerman “willfully, maliciously and repeatedly” cyberstalked and harassed the private investigator. (Marwa Eltagouri)
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was served dessert inside a leather shoe while visiting Israel, sparking controversy. “This was an insensitive decision,” one unidentified senior Israeli official told a newspaper. “There is nothing lowlier than a shoe in Japanese culture. Not only do they not wear shoes at home, you also won’t find shoes in their offices. This is disrespect of the first order.” (Ruth Eglash)
WHITHER THE IRAN DEAL?
-- Trump is signaling that he will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal when he makes an announcement about its fate at 2 p.m. Eastern today (the official deadline for a decision is May 12). Karen DeYoung, Anne Gearan and David Nakamura report: “The decision follows the failure of last-ditch efforts by the three European signatories to the agreement to convince Trump that his concerns about ‘flaws’ in the 2015 accord could be addressed without violating its terms or ending it altogether. … France and Germany, whose leaders visited Washington in recent weeks to appeal to Trump, have warned that nullification of the agreement could lead to all-out war in the Middle East. British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, in Washington on Monday, said that as far as he knows, the administration has no clear ‘Plan B’ for what to do next.”
-- The New York Times's David Sanger also says the tea leaves point to an exit — of some kind: “Diplomats who were familiar with the negotiations said Mr. Trump appeared inclined to scrap the deal and reimpose sanctions on Iran that were suspended in an accord reached in Vienna in July 2015. But it is unclear whether he would moderate that move, perhaps by allowing the European nations to move ahead with their economic relations with Tehran without being penalized by the United States.”
-- The International Atomic Energy Agency, a U.N. watchdog agency, is preparing for the possibility it will lose its unprecedented access to Iran’s uranium enrichment plants. Joby Warrick reports: “[B]y walking away from the deal, the Trump administration may lose its most important instrument for gauging whether Iran is telling the truth or not, according to former U.S. and U.N. officials and experts familiar with the IAEA’s oversight role. Many experts believe a collapse of the agreement will trigger a suspension of the unique, wide-ranging access accorded to the U.N. nuclear watchdog over the past three years. In effect, by rejecting the deal as inadequate for preventing Iran from getting the bomb, Trump could make it harder for U.S. officials to detect a secret Iranian effort to build nuclear weapons, the former officials and experts said.”
-- Trump went after a key architect of the pact, then-Secretary of State John Kerry. The Boston Globe reported last week he was working with foreign governments to try and salvage the deal.
John Kerry can’t get over the fact that he had his chance and blew it! Stay away from negotiations John, you are hurting your country!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 8, 2018
-- Here's what he's referencing, from the Globe's Matt Viser: “Kerry flew into New York City two weekends ago to sit down with Iraqi Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, their second meeting in two months about the deal. Kerry has been on an aggressive yet stealthy mission to preserve [the deal], using his deep lists of contacts gleaned during his time as the top US diplomat to try to apply pressure on the Trump administration from the outside ... Kerry also met last month with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and he’s been on the phone with top European Union official Federica Mogherini ... [He has] also met with French President Emmanuel Macron in both Paris and New York ... Kerry has quietly tried to bolster support in Congress. In recent weeks he’s placed dozens of phone calls and ... lobbied members of Congress, including House Speaker Paul Ryan.”
THE FIRST SUPER TUESDAY OF PRIMARIES:
-- Four states — Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio and West Virginia — will hold primaries today.
-- Indiana and West Virginia’s GOP primaries both include anti-establishment candidates who could test Trump’s sway over his supporters. From Michael Scherer, David Weigel, John Wagner and Sean Sullivan: “Don Blankenship, a former West Virginia coal baron who was convicted of conspiring to violate mine safety regulations, has been surging in several recent polls, despite unified resistance from elected Republican leaders in Washington, including Trump. The president told West Virginia voters to reject Blankenship in a tweet on Monday. ‘Tomorrow, West Virginia will send the swamp a message — no one, and I mean no one, will tell us how to vote,’ Blankenship responded, in a clear echo of the president’s rhetoric. ‘I am Trumpier than Trump, and this morning proves it.’ …
“In Indiana, the ascendant candidate is Mike Braun, the founder of a warehouse and distribution company who voted in the state’s Democratic primaries until 2012. Just like Blankenship, he is running against two more well-established GOP incumbents, who have spent much of the campaign attacking each other, as they calculated the outsider would face a traditional ceiling of support. The outcome of the contests could help shape not just the future of the Republican Party but the odds of Democratic control of the Senate.”
-- One internal poll recently showed Blankenship with a three-point lead over Rep. Evan Jenkins and a four-point lead over state Attorney General Patrick Morrissey. Another internal poll conducted by one of Blankenship’s rivals showed the coal baron with a one-point lead over Morrissey and a 14-point lead over Jenkins. “Two weeks earlier, the same rival campaign found Blankenship at 14 percent, Morrissey at 29 percent, and Jenkins at 26 percent,” the Weekly Standard’s John McCormack reports.
-- “Behind the scenes, there has been some finger-pointing among Republicans in recent weeks over Blankenship’s rise,” per John, Michael and Sean. “Some of the blame has been directed at the White House, and some of it has been aimed at the Republican National Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which have been accused of not doing more to stop him or elevate alternatives. … Until this weekend, Blankenship’s two rivals had focused on attacking each other, with large television campaigns of negative ads. Democrats also aided Blankenship indirectly by funding more than $1.8 million in negative ads against Jenkins and Morrisey through a super PAC called Duty and Country … Blankenship also benefited from his recent debate performances and unconventional campaign ads in which he insulted McConnell and the Senate majority leader’s family, effectively delivering the core message of his campaign: that he will shake up Congress.”
-- McConnell has privately made light of Blankenship’s attacks against his family, even taking to answering the telephone as “Cocaine Mitch.” (A reference to Blankenship’s most infamous ad attacking the Senate leader.)
-- Democratic incumbents face few potential upsets, per Michael, Dave, John and Sean: “The closest thing to a left-flank attack will play out Tuesday in Ohio’s gubernatorial primary, where former congressman Dennis Kucinich (D) is running against Richard Cordray, the former head of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency. Polls suggest a Cordray win.”
THERE’S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:
-- Trump’s legal team has set a deadline to determine whether the president should testify in Robert Mueller’s probe: May 17, the first anniversary of the special counsel's appointment. The Wall Street Journal’s Peter Nicholas reports: “In an interview, [Rudy] Giuliani said, ‘every day we swing a little different’ on whether to advise Mr. Trump to talk to Mr. Mueller, though he suggested that recent developments in the probe have made him more leery. The president’s initial position was ‘what do I have to lose? I’m telling the truth,’ Mr. Giuliani said. But Mr. Trump has also promised to weigh his lawyers’ advice. … Preparing Mr. Trump to testify would be a serious distraction to his work as president, eating into time he needs to deal with pressing global issues, Mr. Trump’s lawyers contend. In an informal, four-hour practice session, Mr. Trump’s lawyers were only able to walk him through two questions, given the frequent interruptions on national-security matters along with Mr. Trump’s loquaciousness, one person familiar with the matter said.”
-- Giuliani said Mueller rejected a request from Trump’s teams to answer investigators’ questions in writing. CBS News reports: “The president's legal team has previously signaled that this would be their preferred format for a possible interview as it helps protect Mr. Trump from the possibility of lying or misleading investigators, which is a criminal offense. Giuliani told CBS News that it will take up to three weeks for him to get fully up to speed on the facts of the investigation and be prepared to engage in formal negotiations with the special counsel about the terms of a possible interview with Mr. Trump.”
-- Trump has expressed growing frustration with Rudy’s recent media tour, per the AP’s Jonathan Lemire: “Trump has begun questioning whether [Giuliani] should be sidelined from television interviews, according to two people familiar with the president’s thinking … Trump also expressed annoyance that Giuliani’s theatrics have breathed new life into the [Stormy] Daniels story and extended its lifespan. … Trump, who has denied the affair with Daniels, was angry that Giuliani had given the impression that other women may make similar charges of infidelity, according to the people familiar with his views. Additionally, Trump has grown agitated in recent days by cable news replays of Giuliani’s Wednesday interview with Sean Hannity … Trump snapped at both men in recent days, chiding Hannity for using the word ‘funneled,’ which he believes had illegal connotations ...”
-- “For now, White House aides said, Giuliani still has a direct line in to Trump — the two speak almost daily — and nobody in the West Wing is eager to insert themselves between the two irascible New Yorkers by yanking Giuliani off TV. But some aides said they expect the president to fire Giuliani if his behavior doesn’t change,” add Politico’s Eliana Johnson, Annie Karni and Darren Samuelsohn.
-- ICYMI: I wrote in yesterday’s Daily 202 about how the former New York mayor is repeating seven of the mistakes that have brought down previous Trump advisers.
-- Giuliani’s explosive interviews have also complicated Michael Cohen's legal situation. Vanity Fair’s Emily Jane Fox writes: “According to people familiar with the situation, Cohen’s friends told him that Trump chiding Giuliani was a signal that the president was looking out for Cohen. … But, according to these people, Cohen’s friends also warned him that at the end of the day, Trump only looks out for himself. … Cohen, indeed, has been consumed with his legal challenges. … Since the government has started returning copies of what it seized to Cohen’s attorneys, Cohen has been spending up to 10 hours a day at his lawyers’ offices on Madison Avenue … ”
-- Roger Stone insists he had little contact with deputy Trump campaign chairman Rick Gates, disputing a recent report that Mueller is focusing on links between the two men. From the New York Times’s Maggie Haberman: “Those links included dinners before and after the campaign, according to CNBC, which cited unnamed people with direct knowledge of the matter, but Mr. Stone said in an interview that he recalled eating only one meal with Mr. Gates in 2016. 'The Gates story is somewhat perplexing,' said Mr. Stone … 'I only have a record of one dinner with Rick Gates,” he said, adding that the guest list included two other political operatives … '”
-- House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) reiterated his threat to hold Sessions in contempt of Congress for blocking access to certain classified documents. Politico’s Kyle Cheney and John Bresnahan report: “‘It wasn’t a threat. It’s what’s going to happen,’ Nunes declared on Monday night. He first raised the issue of a potential contempt charge during a weekend appearance on Fox News. Nunes said that a deal was still possible with Sessions for the material in question but that he’d been consulting with the House general counsel and was prepared to initiate contempt proceedings should the Justice Department continue to refuse.”
ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN AND WOMEN:
-- The CIA started revealing some details of Gina Haspel’s undercover work for the agency as she prepares for her Senate confirmation hearing tomorrow to lead the agency. Shane Harris reports: “Haspel’s chances of winning confirmation are considered uncertain, in part because Republicans hold only a slim majority and not all GOP senators have pledged to vote for her. On Monday, she called on senators, while the administration said it would share more classified information with lawmakers about Haspel’s career. … But her success is not guaranteed and could hinge on one chapter in her mysterious career: Haspel’s role in the CIA’s controversial program of detaining and interrogating suspected terrorists. … Current committee members have said that other ‘disturbing’ facts in Haspel’s record need to be declassified for the public to take the full measure of the nominee. Critics charge the CIA with selectively declassifying the most anodyne and flattering moments of Haspel’s work.”
Shane spoke with 15 current and former intelligence officials to gain insight into Haspel’s 32 years of undercover work for the CIA: “One summer night in the late 1980s, [Haspel], a young CIA field officer on her first overseas assignment, found herself standing outside a hotel in Addis Ababa talking to Jimmy Carter. The former president was visiting Ethiopia to foster peace talks between the government and Eritrean rebels and urgently needed to get word to a local guerrilla leader that he had to cancel their planned meeting. Learning that Haspel worked for the CIA, Carter asked to meet her after an official dinner they’d both attended and requested that she relay his message. Haspel used her contacts to successfully deliver the message through a back channel. The episode … was one of several clandestine assignments that left the young Kentuckian feeling as if she had entered a life ‘right out of a spy novel,’ as Haspel recalled three decades later.”
-- National security officials have devised contingency plans for the event Haspel is not confirmed. From CNN’s Jenna McLaughlin: “One of the contingency plans being discussed involves preparing Susan Gordon, the deputy director of national intelligence, to potentially take Haspel's place in case Republican senators or Trump balk, two intelligence sources familiar with the matter said.”
-- “Haspel is tainted by her torture involvement. But she understands Russia,” argues columnist David Ignatius: “She appears to have spent much of the first 15 years of her career in Russia-related operations, starting with a posting in a Soviet client-state in East Africa in 1987. Though she never served in Moscow, former colleagues say she ran operations against Russian targets in several postings. And as deputy chief of the Russian operations group of the Central Eurasia Division from 1998 to 2000, she reviewed most sensitive operations involving Russia. … ‘She has a Ph.D. in the FSB, SVR and GRU,’ jokes Dan Hoffman, a former Moscow station chief who worked closely with Haspel, referring to the initials of the three main Russian intelligence agencies. … Haspel is also said to have built a strong relationship with MI6, Britain’s spy service, when she was London station chief from 2014 to 2017.”
In a morning tweet, Trump reiterated his support for Haspel’s record on the interrogation of terrorist suspects:
Gina Haspel, my highly respected nominee to lead the CIA, is being praised for the fact that she has been, and alway will be, TOUGH ON TERROR! This is a woman who has been a leader wherever she has gone. The CIA wants her to lead them into America’s bright and glorious future!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 8, 2018
DRIP, DRIP, DRIP FOR SCOTT PRUITT:
-- A top official at the conservative Federalist Society paid for the EPA administrator's dinner at a fine Italian restaurant, only to be reimbursed later. Juliet Eilperin reports: “The meal at Al Ceppo … was one of several events that Leonard Leo, Federalist Society executive vice president, set up for Pruitt during his trip to Italy last June. Leo, a longtime Pruitt confidant and prominent American Catholic, personally arranged multiple events at the Vatican as well as three separate meals that included high-ranking Vatican officials.”
-- Pruitt fast-tracked the cleanup of a polluted California area after conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt brokered a meeting between him and lawyers for the water district, according to Politico’s Emily Holden and Anthony Adragna. “Hewitt, a resident of Orange County whose son James works in EPA’s press office, emailed Pruitt in September to set up a meeting between the administrator and the law firm Larson O’Brien, which employs Hewitt and represents the Orange County Water District. … Pruitt’s aides responded within minutes and quickly confirmed an Oct. 18 meeting for the lawyers and a project director. Six weeks after that meeting, on Dec. 8, the Orange County North Basin site appeared on Pruitt’s list of 21 contaminated areas to address. … Since then, Hewitt has been a robust defender of Pruitt, dismissing his recent controversies as ‘nonsense scandals’ on MSNBC in early April and saying his detractors were ‘just trying to stop the deregulation effort.’”
-- The Post obtained the May 1, 2017 memo used to justify dozens of Pruitt's first-class flights. Brady Dennis and Juliet Eilperin report: “Pasquale 'Nino' Perrotta wrote that Pruitt was being recognized more often in public and that those guarding him had noticed 'at times lashing out from passengers which occurs while the Administrator is seated in coach with [his personal security detail] not easily accessible to him due to uncontrolled full flights.' As a result, Perrotta wanted a way to better control the environment around the controversial EPA chief. 'We believe that the continued use of coach seats for the Administrator would endanger his life,' he wrote."
-- Other documents reveal that Pruitt was not facing an unusual number of threats when Perrotta recommended the first-class travel. From the New York Times’s Eric Lipton and Kenneth P. Vogel: “The [EPA] had a total of 33 threat investigations underway as of mid-March — 10 of them involving [Pruitt] from the last six months — a security assessment released Monday shows … The memos also show the degree to which Mr. Pruitt is not the first E.P.A. administrator or agency employee to receive threats. The total number of threat investigations by the agency has fluctuated from 47 in fiscal year 2015 to 43 in 2016 to 50 in 2017, most of which was during the Trump administration.”
-- Perrotta, the former head of security for Pruitt, told the Daily Caller that many of the accusations against the EPA chief were made up by “disgruntled employees — staffers — who, for whatever reason, decided to air dirty laundry — false dirty laundry to the press.”
-- New documents also show how Pruitt’s staff worked to shield him from the press. The Times’s Eric Lipton reports: “When Mr. Pruitt was scheduled in December to appear with an Iowa cattle rancher, aides at the E.P.A. intervened to make sure that the administrator would not face unfriendly or unexpected questions from the crowd or uninvited reporters. ‘It’s invite only press I thought?’ one aide to Mr. Pruitt wrote. ‘My sincere apologies for causing any difficulty but we cannot do open q&a from the crowd,’ a second aide wrote.”
-- Trump’s senior advisers are increasingly encouraging him to fire Pruitt. The Times’s Coral Davenport and Maggie Haberman report: “[Two top administration officials] say the president’s enthusiasm may be cooling because of the ongoing cascade of alleged ethical and legal missteps. … Since last month’s confirmation of Mr. Pruitt’s deputy, the former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler, White House staff members say they believe that if Mr. Pruitt is fired or resigns, Mr. Wheeler will continue to effectively push through Mr. Trump’s agenda to help the coal industry and roll back environmental regulations. … One official said there was recognition now that Mr. Pruitt’s problems were ‘a bottomless pit.’ But the White House doesn’t know how much more there is or what direction it could take.”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
One of the women accusing Schneiderman of assault shared the New Yorker article on social media:
From a writer for New York magazine:
It is, simply, everything awful: power abuse, violence, misogyny, disdain, racism, fear, threats, gaslighting, prosecution of the very crimes he's committing, dependence of progressives--of feminists--on him as powerful feminist ally. And sensation it was all part of a sick game.— Rebecca Traister (@rtraister) May 8, 2018
From a contributor to the Atlantic:
The Eric Schneiderman story is yet more confirmation of Czeslaw Milosz's idea of "Ketman": the man who rails the loudest against a sinner is often an even bigger sinner himself.— Julia Ioffe (@juliaioffe) May 8, 2018
From a New York Times reporter:
With Schneiderman quitting, 3 of NY’s last 5 independently elected state constitutional officers have resigned in disgrace— Alex Burns (@alexburnsNYT) May 8, 2018
Some Trump supporters celebrated Schneiderman's downfall. From the president's son:
As they reveled, a former Clinton campaign aide tweeted this:
the president of the united states is accused of sexual assault by more than 20 women, his administration's official line is that they are all lying, and not a single person in his party has called on him to resign.— Emmy Bengtson (@EmmyA2) May 8, 2018
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) responded to Trump's warning that GOP Senate candidate and formerly imprisoned coal baron Don Blankenship could not win a general election in the West Virginia race:
A New York Times reporter commented on Giuliani's recent media tour:
The new secretary of state made a bad first impression with journalists, per a CNN reporter:
New Secretary of State Pompeo welcomes reporters to his first press conference...then takes no questions...— Michelle Kosinski (@MichLKosinski) May 7, 2018
A CNN executive producer analyzed recent polling numbers:
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) commented on the latest Parkland news:
An opinions editor at BuzzFeed reacted to the news Oliver North would be the next president of the NRA:
Melania Trump launched her “Be Best” initiatives aimed at children's well-being, stopping opioid abuse, and better behavior on social media:
The Twitter memes began. From a BuzzFeed reporter:
From a comedian:
Be Best? Why not, Be Bestest— Sarah Cooper (@sarahcpr) May 7, 2018
From a Post satire writer:
be best is a juice cleanse, a Goop tab, a mail-order box full of sample emollients— Alexandra Petri (@petridishes) May 7, 2018
Guess who showed up at last night's Met Gala:
There is no DC cool. Only "first time cool" which is the phenomenon of people moving to DC and being cool, here, for the first time in their lives. It is distinctly uncool.— Kate Nocera (@KateNocera) May 7, 2018
And The Post celebrated the Capitals' victory:
From one of our sports reporters, on the road with the Nationals in San Diego:
I kid you not, a "Let's go Caps!" cheer just broke out at Petco Park.— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) May 8, 2018
-- “People think she’s a Parkland ‘crisis actor.’ It’s terrifying,” by Danielle Paquette: “The strangers mocked her on social media. They called her old boss, saying she should be arrested. Now she feared one was stalking her. Emma Gonzalez became an Internet obsession after a gunman killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day. She no longer felt safe walking home in her neighborhood of four years. … But she wasn’t that Emma — the Parkland, Fla., student leading a national gun-control movement who has appeared on CNN, ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’ and the cover of Time magazine. She was another Emma, a 31-year-old vegan chef in Brooklyn.”
-- “I’m sharing my #MeToo story because Congress is broken, and we have to fix it,” by Anna Kain: “Throughout 2014, while I was working on Capitol Hill for Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.), I was berated, punched and sexually harassed by Esty’s then-chief of staff, Tony Baker, whom I had dated before he became my boss. I kept quiet about this abuse at the time, worried about retaliation and concerned for the career of the congresswoman I had idolized since joining her first campaign. … As a 24-year-old in my first professional job, I mistook survival for complicity and suffering for weakness. I accommodated and rationalized to minimize and de-escalate. I made excuses, forgave and tried to forget. … I am sharing my story now because there is a problem in Congress, and something must be done.”
-- The Atlantic, “I’m Not Black, I’m Kanye,” by Ta-Nehisi Coates: “What Kanye West seeks is what Michael Jackson sought — liberation from the dictates of that we. … West calls his struggle the right to be a ‘free thinker,’ and he is, indeed, championing a kind of freedom — a white freedom, freedom without consequence, freedom without criticism, freedom to be proud and ignorant; freedom to profit off a people in one moment and abandon them in the next … ”
HOT ON THE LEFT
“NRA boycotts Dallas restaurant for supporting ‘reasonable and effective gun regulations,’” from Samantha Schmidt: “With about 80,000 people converging in Dallas for the National Rifle Association’s annual convention, one local restaurant decided to send a message to the flood of visitors. ‘Thanks for visiting Ellen’s!’ the downtown restaurant printed on the bottom of its receipts Friday morning. ‘A portion of this week’s proceeds will be donated to organizations dedicated to implementing reasonable and effective gun regulations. Welcome to Dallas!’ … It was a subtle but daring move in a gun-friendly city packed with even more gun enthusiasts than usual. And it didn’t take long for the NRA to notice. In a message to its more than 666,000 Twitter followers Friday night, the NRA wrote: ‘Steer clear of Ellen’s in downtown Dallas! Why go there when there are so many other great choices.’”
HOT ON THE RIGHT
“Hatch to McCain: Invite Trump to your funeral,” from Politico: “Sen. John McCain should reconsider his wish that President Donald Trump not attend McCain's funeral, said Sen. Orrin Hatch, the most senior GOP senator. McCain prefers instead that Vice President Mike Pence attend his funeral rather than Trump, who has mocked McCain for being tortured and attacked him for voting against Obamacare repeal. But Hatch said he thought keeping the president from his funeral was too much: ‘I think it's ridiculous.’ ‘Well, he's the president of the United States and he's a very good man. But it's up to [McCain]. I think John should have his own wishes fulfilled with regard to who attends the funeral,’ said the Utah senator. Asked whether McCain should change his mind about Trump, Hatch said: ‘I would.’”
Trump has a morning meeting with Republican senators followed by lunch with Pence and Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen. The president will make his announcement on the Iran deal at 2 p.m. and later deliver a speech at the Federal Judges Association reception.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said of Rudy Giuliani’s dramatic statements on Iran and North Korea, “He speaks for himself and not on behalf of the administration on foreign policy.” (AP)
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- It will be a “Nice Day!” in D.C., the Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Partly to mostly sunny and pleasant, with highs into the 70s and humidity relatively low, thanks to high pressure overhead. Breezes blow gently from the northeast.”
-- The Nationals beat the Padres 8-5. (Chelsea Janes)
-- Metro’s plan to refurbish 20 station platforms over three years will lead to service disruptions reminiscent of SafeTrack. Faiz Siddiqui reports: “There will be no service on Metro’s Blue and Yellow lines south of Reagan National Airport for 98 days beginning in May 2019 … The work, which will at times target the Red, Blue, Yellow, Green and Orange lines, will focus on rebuilding crumbling station platforms that the agency says pose a safety risk to riders and will mark Metro’s first major capital project since securing $500 million a year in dedicated funding from the region.”
-- Three people were shot to death in a house in Montgomery County. A suspect in the murders appeared to later shoot himself to death in his own nearby house. (Dan Morse and Martin Weil)
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Late-night hosts criticized Giuliani's latest media appearances:
The Post fact-checked Trump's claim that Iran will be able to create nuclear weapons seven years after the nuclear deal was implemented:
The Post’s Alan Sipress and Karen DeYoung explain how the Middle East could be affected if Trump pulls out of the deal:
And here's a look at what celebrities wore to the Met Gala: