With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve.
THE BIG IDEA: Republican members of the House fared especially poorly Tuesday in primaries across four states, offering fresh evidence that this fall will bring another change election and a new batch of outsiders promising to shake up Washington.
North Carolina Rep. Robert Pittenger was felled by former Baptist pastor Mark Harris despite a massive spending advantage, an outcome that caught D.C. Republicans off guard. Harris portrayed the third-term lawmaker as a creature of “the swamp” and relentlessly hammered him over his March vote for the $1.3 trillion spending bill. Pittenger is the first incumbent of either party to be forced out of Congress this year.
In the primary to take on Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly (D), wealthy businessman Mike Braun won an upset over two GOP congressmen, Todd Rokita and Luke Messer, who have been rivals since college and spent months beating the tar out of each other.
In West Virginia, Rep. Evan Jenkins (R) lost to state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey in the primary to challenge Sen. Joe Manchin (D). The ex-convict Don Blankenship, who garnered so much attention in recent days, finished in third place — averting another national GOP nightmare a la Roy Moore.
In Ohio, support for Rep. Jim Renacci (R) was surprisingly soft in the primary to challenge Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown. Despite being endorsed by President Trump, who recorded a robo-call on his behalf and appeared alongside him at a recent event, the congressman could only garner 47 percent against four unknown candidates.
That’s five GOP members who will not return to the House next year.
Having “congressman” on a resume is not just a liability for Republicans in this environment. Dennis Kucinich, who served 16 years in the House and ran for president in 2008, lost the Democratic primary for governor in Ohio to Richard Cordray, who ran the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau until last November.
It didn’t used to be this way. Historically, House members have been perceived by voters as being the most qualified for promotion to the upper chamber. Many Republican senators came over from across the Capitol. And the presumptive GOP nominees for Senate in Arizona (Martha McSally), North Dakota (Kevin Cramer) and Tennessee (Marsha Blackburn) are currently in the House.
But the restive Republican base has been increasingly conditioned to hate Washington and everyone who is a part of it. These trends have been supercharged in the Trump era.
Even Washington insiders now run against Washington. Morrisey ran unsuccessfully for Congress in New Jersey in 2000. Before moving to West Virginia, he spent years in D.C. as a lobbyist for pharmaceutical and health-care companies. (His wife remains a lobbyist.) Yet he’s been running commercials that depict a mountain crushing the U.S. Capitol.
Braun, who has a more legitimate claim to run against “the swamp,” spent more than $5 million of his own money on ads that attacked his opponents as career politicians. During their debates, the two congressmen wore suits and ties. Braun showed up in open-collared shirts without even a sports coat. In one especially effective Web video, Braun walked around his home town with cardboard cutouts of Rokita and Messer asking people on the street to try telling them apart:
This tried-and-true playbook has proved effective. Braun is following in the footsteps of outsider GOP businessmen like Sens. David Perdue in Georgia and Ron Johnson in Wisconsin, who toppled better-known and more established political figures. Also like Braun, Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) won her seat in 2012 because the two GOP front-runners trained their fire on each other and thus created an opening for a third candidate.
“That Trump’s election, along with Republican control of Congress, did not fully satisfy voter frustration remains a defining feature of the party,” Michael Scherer observes. “In late 2017, 19 percent of Republicans told Pew Research Center that they were ‘angry’ at the federal government, down from 33 percent at the end of the Obama presidency. But the number remains more than twice as high as the 9 percent of Republicans who said they were angry in President George W. Bush’s second term. Even for naturally upbeat candidates, frustration and anger have become the dominant emotion they must appeal to for the Republican base. GOP consultants nationwide have been telling even their mild-mannered candidates to turn up their fury on the trail.”
-- Pittenger’s defeat in North Carolina will ensure that sitting congressmen work even harder to distance themselves from Washington during upcoming primaries. It also increases the odds that Democrats can pick up his Charlotte-area seat. “Harris will now face Dan McCready, a veteran and former Republican who easily won the Democratic nomination in the district,” David Weigel reports. “According to the last FEC filings from both campaigns, McCready had $1.2 million for the general election; Harris had a little over $70,000. Democrats were also buoyed by the turnout in the district, which had been drawn to elect a Republican and which had backed Trump over Hillary Clinton by 11.6 points. Just 35,494 votes were cast in the Republican primary, while 45,660 votes were cast in McCready’s [noncompetitive] primary.”
-- But if last night’s results embolden House Democrats, they should worry Senate Democrats. Braun’s victory could be bad news for Donnelly since he is an outsider who voted as a Democrat until as recently as 2012. He might have less baggage than the two members of Congress.
If Blankenship had won in the West Virginia, that race would have been off the map. But Morrisey can beat Manchin. And there were some red flags in the incumbent’s noncompetitive primary: Three in 10 Democrats voted for a no-name activist over Manchin, who was also weaker than expected in coal country. (Trump won Indiana by 19 points and West Virginia by 42 points in 2016.)
To be fair, national Democrats have said privately for some time that Jenkins posed much more of a threat to Manchin in a general election than Morrisey. Their internal polls show that hitting the GOP nominee for his past as a lobbyist — especially vis-a-vis the opioid crisis — will be potent. A Democratic super PAC even funneled money into the state during the past few weeks to run attack ads against Jenkins because party strategists were concerned about him.
-- In their primaries, Democrats mostly followed their heads over their hearts — prioritizing electability over purity. “Kucinich’s run was seen as a test of whether Democrats would back left-wing candidates against the ‘establishment.’ But in Ohio and other states, the party’s left fell short as better-funded candidates easily won their primaries,” Weigel notes. “In Indiana’s 2nd District, a health-care executive and former Republican named Mel Hall defeated candidates who backed a ‘Medicare for All’ single-payer health-care system. In West Virginia’s 3rd District, state Sen. Richard Ojeda (D) romped to a win — even after telling primary voters that he had backed Trump in 2016. And in North Carolina’s 9th and 13th districts, moderate Democrats won landslides over more left-wing challengers.”
-- Dynasty watch: Vice President Pence’s older brother Greg Pence won the Republican primary in Indiana’s 6th District, a safely red district.
-- Five Republican state legislators in North Carolina also went down to primary challenges, as did a Democrat who faced allegations of sexual harassment. One had misidentified herself as a nurse and called the students who walked out after the Parkland shooting “Tide Pod eaters.”
-- 2018 really is shaping up to be another year of the woman. “There were 20 open Democratic House primaries with women on the ballot Tuesday night, and voters selected a female nominee in 17 of them,” Politico notes.
-- Rachel Crooks, one of at least 19 women who have publicly accused Trump of sexual assault, won an uncontested primary for a seat in the Ohio state House. The 35-year-old Democrat will face an incumbent Republican outside Toledo in a district Trump carried but that Barack Obama won twice. Crooks alleges that in 2006, when she was a 22-year-old receptionist who worked at Trump Tower, the president kissed her on the lips. Trump has dismissed all his accusers as liars.
-- Finally, one of the biggest winners last night was Mitch McConnell. Blankenship persistently ripped into the Senate majority leader on the stump and on the air. He branded him “Cocaine Mitch” in his ads, a reference to a drug bust on a ship owned by a company his father-in-law started. McConnell allies funneled money into West Virginia through a group they called Mountain Families PAC to saturate the airwaves with anti-Blankenship ads. The Kentuckian also persuaded Trump during a phone call over the weekend to attack Blankenship on Twitter.
McConnell has a wry sense of humor that most folks don’t appreciate. He’s been answering his phone by saying “Cocaine Mitch” in the past few days. And he got the last laugh last night. After Blankenship conceded, the leader’s political team tweeted out this picture:
It’s an edited version of an advertisement promoting the Netflix series “Narcos,” which is about a cocaine cartel in Colombia. The show’s account responded:
-- For his part, Trump celebrated the results this morning:
The Republican Party had a great night. Tremendous voter energy and excitement, and all candidates are those who have a great chance of winning in November. The Economy is sooo strong, and with Nancy Pelosi wanting to end the big Tax Cuts and Raise Taxes, why wouldn’t we win?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 9, 2018
And he took a swipe at Cordray, calling the former head of the CFPB a socialist:
Congratulations to Mike Dewine on his big win in the Great State of Ohio. He will be a great Governor with a heavy focus on HealthCare and Jobs. His Socialist opponent in November should not do well, a big failure in last job!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 9, 2018
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- Trump announced on Twitter that North Korea has released three American prisoners, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is bringing them home and the president plans to greet them at the airport tomorrow at 2 a.m. Trump also said a time and place has been set for his meeting with Kim Jong Un. “The three men, all who had been working in North Korea, had been accused of espionage or 'hostile acts' against the regime and were being held as 'prisoners of war,'" Anna Fifield and Carol Morello report. “Former Virginia man Kim Dong-chul, who was detained in October 2015, had been sentenced to 10 years in prison on charges of espionage and subversion. But the other two, accounting professor Tony Kim and agricultural consultant Kim Hak-song, had not been put through the kind of sham trial that always results in a conviction. The three had not been seen since June last year, when a State Department official was allowed a brief visit with them while collecting Otto Warmbier, the college student who fell into a coma in North Korea and died shortly after his return to the United States."
I am pleased to inform you that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in the air and on his way back from North Korea with the 3 wonderful gentlemen that everyone is looking so forward to meeting. They seem to be in good health. Also, good meeting with Kim Jong Un. Date & Place set.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 9, 2018
Secretary Pompeo and his “guests” will be landing at Andrews Air Force Base at 2:00 A.M. in the morning. I will be there to greet them. Very exciting!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 9, 2018
IN THE HOT SEAT:
-- During her confirmation hearing today before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Gina Haspel will pledge that — if confirmed as CIA director — she will never restart the enhanced interrogation programs that critics have compared to torture. Karoun Demirjian and Shane Harris report: “In addressing the interrogation program, Haspel is expected to acknowledge her service ‘in that tumultuous time’ and to reinforce her ‘personal commitment, clearly and without reservation,’ not to restart the CIA’s detention and interrogation program. ... She will have the opportunity to provide more details about her tenure during a closed-door hearing following her public testimony. ... The panel’s chairman, Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), told reporters Tuesday that the committee could vote on Haspel’s nomination as soon as next week, and that he expected Haspel to receive a positive endorsement. But her chances of being confirmed on the Senate floor — where not all Republicans have pledged to support her — is not certain.”
-- Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the principal architect of the Sept. 11 attacks, has asked to share information on Haspel with the committee. The New York Times’s Charlie Savage reports: “[Mohammed] was captured in March 2003 and tortured by the C.I.A. This week, he asked a military judge at Guantánamo Bay for permission to share six paragraphs of information about Ms. Haspel with the Senate Intelligence Committee. … Ms. Haspel ran a black-site prison in Thailand where another high-level detainee was tortured in late 2002. But it is not known whether she was involved, directly or indirectly, in Mr. Mohammed’s torture. Mr. Mohammed was held in secret C.I.A. prisons in Afghanistan and Poland.”
-- Over 100 former U.S. ambassadors have signed an open letter opposing Haspel’s nomination. Among the signatories: Samantha Power, Thomas Pickering, Jack Matlock and James R. Jones. They write in the letter, “There remains much we do not know about the specific roles and responsibilities Ms. Haspel held in relation to the CIA’s rendition, detention, and interrogation program generally, and the use of so-called ‘enhanced interrogation’ specifically. … What we do know, based on credible, and as yet uncontested reporting, leaves us of the view that she should be disqualified from holding cabinet rank.”
GET SMART FAST:
- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) directed Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas to investigate abuse allegations against Eric Schneiderman, the state attorney general who resigned this week after four women accused him of physical assault. (Renae Merle and Mark Berman)
- Paul Ryan swore the House chaplain back into office after facing blowback for forcing him out. The Rev. Patrick Conroy’s return comes less than a week after he rescinded his letter of resignation and the speaker agreed to reinstate the Catholic priest. But the controversy could still be brewing. A shouting match over Conroy’s initial firing broke out on the House floor yesterday between Reps. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) and Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.). (Mike DeBonis and Paul Kane)
- Former CIA officer Jerry Chun Shing Lee was indicted on espionage charges. Lee was previously charged with retaining classified information, but the latest accusations could land the suspected Chinese mole in prison for decades. (Rachel Weiner)
- Five pharmaceutical executives testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. They faced intense grilling over their role in the nation’s opioid epidemic and accusations of “pill dumping” millions of powerful painkillers into small West Virginia pharmacies. (Katie Zezima and Scott Higham)
- The United States has a record 6.6 million job openings, enough for every unemployed person in the country. But economists see a mismatch between job openings and job seekers, who don’t always have the right skills or live in the right location for the available work. (Heather Long)
The Boy Scouts of America has lobbied against state proposals that would allow adults who experienced childhood sex abuse a second chance to file lawsuits. The group acknowledged last year it has suffered financially from settlements in child abuse cases. (Elise Viebeck)
- A self-identified Ku Klux Klan leader is facing up to 10 years in prison after he was found guilty of illegally firing a weapon during last year’s “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville. (Ian Shapira)
Another five Australian lawmakers left office because they were dual citizens. The 117-year-old constitutional ban already ended the careers of nine lawmakers last year. (AP)
- Two studies released this week provide new evidence linking climate change to disastrous hurricanes, which have produced record levels of rain and flooding in the past year, and could be growing stronger more quickly. (Jason Samenow)
- Employees at a Nordstrom Rack store near St. Louis called the police on three black teenagers who were shopping for prom. When the cops showed up, the kids showed them their receipts. (Rachel Siegel)
- Seth Meyers said Trump wanted him to apologize on-air for making fun of him at the 2011 White House correspondents' dinner. The late-night host tried to book Trump on his show in 2015, but it did not happen when Meyers refused to concede to Trump’s nonnegotiable request — which was relayed by Michael Cohen. (Politico)
- The Seattle Mariners’ James Paxton became the first Canadian to pitch a no-hitter in his home country. Fans of the Toronto Blue Jays rooted for Paxton in the final innings as they realized he was a fellow Canadian. Fun fact: All three no-hitters this season have been pitched in different countries! (AP)
FALLOUT FROM TRUMP'S DECISION TO PULL OUT OF IRAN DEAL:
-- “After Trump’s announcement, the leaders of Britain, France and Germany issued a joint statement expressing ‘regret and concern’ and pledging their ‘continuing commitment’ to terms of the agreement,” Anne Gearan and Karen DeYoung report. “While the U.S. exit does not render the rest of the deal moot, it is not clear whether there is enough incentive on the parts of Iran and its international trading partners to sustain the agreement. ... The United States will reimpose all sanctions [that existed before the 2015 deal] and could add new ones, U.S. officials said. Discussions with allies about new negotiations would begin Wednesday, White House national security adviser John Bolton said. Bolton, filling in some of the blanks in Trump’s remarks, said that all U.S. nuclear-related sanctions lifted as part of the agreement are now back in effect. ‘We’re out of the deal. Right now. We’re out of the deal,’ he said.
“The [domestic] reaction to the president’s decision did not split neatly along party lines. While some GOP leaders applauded his decision, heralding it as an opportunity to strike a new and better arrangement, several other senior Republicans — including those who voted against the Iran deal — said the decision to withdraw was ‘foolhardy’ and ‘a mistake.’ … Even [Paul Ryan] said in a statement that it was ‘unfortunate’ that the United States could not come up with a way of fixing the Iran deal instead of withdrawing, and he thanked the European parties to the pact for trying to work with Washington ‘toward that goal.’ He expressed hope that they might be able to find a new way of addressing Iranian aggression before new sanctions are implemented.”
-- “Boeing, Airbus to lose $39 billion in contracts because of Trump sanctions on Iran,” by Steven Mufson and Damian Paletta: “The aircraft sales were among the most-sought-after contracts for Iran.”
-- Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said he “remains committed” to a nuclear pact and has directed his diplomats to negotiate with remaining signatories in Europe, China and Russia. Erin Cunningham and Bijan Sabbagh report: “But Rouhani warned that Iran would begin enriching uranium beyond the levels allowed in the accord if the government decides the country's needs are not being met. He said Iran would decide in ‘a few weeks’ whether or not to ramp up enrichment. It was a stark warning from an otherwise pragmatic politician who has long championed diplomacy with the West. … A senior adviser to Rouhani … tweeted Tuesday that Iran's ‘answer to Trump will not be rushed, but it will be painful.’
“The comments underscored a growing debate among political factions in Iran over what to do after the U.S. withdrawal. Some politicians have urged the government to continue to work with Europe to salvage the accord. ... [Iran’s deputy parliament speaker, Ali Motahari,] said Iran should wait several months to see whether Europe plans to resist U.S. pressure to disengage from the Iranian economy … But others have been less forgiving, urging Iran's leaders to immediately withdraw and restart suspended elements of the country's nuclear program.”
-- “For Trump’s longtime advisers, the only surprise in Tuesday’s announcement shredding the Iran deal was that it took the president 15 months to make,” John Hudson and Philip Rucker report in a ticktock. “This isn’t the first time Trump has had to decide whether to continue to waive sanctions against Iran. The first two times, his State Department — then led by Rex Tillerson — advocated waiving the sanctions to provide European allies time to address the United States’ concerns …. The second time, Trump, as well as [Vice President Pence], expressed skepticism but were persuaded by the secretary of state to give the Europeans more time. In the administration’s private talks, officials said, [Jim Mattis] agreed with Tillerson to explore the possibility of a supplemental agreement … Unlike in October, Trump’s Cabinet put up little resistance to a decision many viewed as a fait accompli, given the president’s March firing of two key Iran deal defenders. ... Mattis, perhaps realizing he was outnumbered after the ouster of Tillerson, refrained from aggressively rehashing his earlier opposition.”
-- “As with most of his major foreign policy pronouncements, [Trump] couched his decision to withdraw from the Iranian nuclear agreement in terms of how badly his predecessor had negotiated the deal and how he was keeping his campaign promise to dump it,” Karen DeYoung writes. “But Trump gave little indication of what happens now. He proposed no new strategy. He offered no ideas for how to achieve what he called ‘a real, comprehensive and lasting solution …’ beyond ‘working with our allies’ and remaining open to a change of heart by an Iranian government under the yoke of reimposed sanctions. To many of his critics, including some in both parties and the European leaders who spent the past several months trying to address his concerns, there is no Plan B.”
-- This is one of the biggest blows yet to Barack Obama’s legacy of the past 16 months. The former president, who considered the deal a signature accomplishment, criticized the decision in a Facebook post: “The reality is clear. The [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] is working — that is a view shared by our European allies, independent experts, and the current U.S. Secretary of Defense. The JCPOA is in America’s interest — it has significantly rolled back Iran’s nuclear program.”
-- More smart analysis:
- “Iranians Fear Deeper Crisis as Trump Ends Nuclear Deal,” from the New York Times’s Thomas Erdbrink: “Iran’s economy was already in free fall. Now the lifeline offered by a deal that was supposed to lift barriers to the West is coming apart, too.”
- “Mideast allies pressed Trump to ditch the Iran deal. Are they ready for what’s next?” from Kareem Fahim and Loveday Morris: “[Trump’s] decision, analysts said, is almost certain to further destabilize a Middle East crippled by civil wars and proxy skirmishes that have sent weapons pouring in and millions of refugees streaming out.”
- “Trump’s Iran-Deal Withdrawal Is His Biggest Gamble Yet,” from the Wall Street Journal’s Gerald F. Seib: “[The] move represents a series of wagers with a number of downsides to losing.”
- “Fresh U.S. Sanctions Not Likely to Strangle Iran’s Oil Market,” from Foreign Policy’s Keith Johnson: “Trump walks away from the nuclear deal, but big Asian buyers are likely to keep snapping up Iranian crude.”
- “Trump axes the Iran deal and creates a new crisis,” from WorldViews's Ishaan Tharoor: “[Critics fear Trump] is dooming a landmark agreement that is widely seen as effective — and setting the stage for Iran to make an actual push toward an atomic device.”
- “Arab youth now see the U.S. as an enemy,” from Axios: “[T]he latest ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey reveals a dramatic shift in how youth in the region view America: 57% of those surveyed this year see the U.S. as an enemy, and 35% consider the U.S. an ally. That's almost a complete reversal of the numbers from 2016.”
THERE’S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:
-- Michael Cohen is facing new scrutiny after revelations that his shell company, which he used to pay Stormy Daniels $130,000 in hush money, also received payments from an American firm linked to a Russian oligarch and Putin ally. The New York Times’s Mike McIntire, Ben Protess and Jim Rutenberg report: “Financial records [show that Mr. Cohen] used the shell company, Essential Consultants L.L.C., for an array of business activities that went far beyond what was publicly known. Transactions adding up to at least $4.4 million flowed through Essential Consultants starting shortly before Mr. Trump was elected president … Among the previously unreported transactions were payments last year of about $500,000 from Columbus Nova, an investment firm in New York whose biggest client is a company controlled by Viktor Vekselberg, the Russian oligarch. … Other transactions described in the financial records include hundreds of thousands of dollars Mr. Cohen received from Fortune 500 firms with business before the Trump administration, as well as smaller amounts he paid for luxury expenses like a Mercedes-Benz and private club dues.”
References to the transactions first appeared in a document posted to Twitter on Tuesday by Daniels’s lawyer, Michael Avenatti: “The Times’s review of financial records confirmed much of what was in Mr. Avenatti’s report. In addition, a review of documents and interviews shed additional light on Mr. Cohen’s dealings with the company connected to Mr. Vekselberg, who was stopped and questioned at an airport earlier this year by investigators for [Robert Mueller].”
-- The documents also show AT&T paid Cohen hundreds of thousands of dollars last year. The company released a statement confirming its business relationship with Cohen. From Rosalind S. Helderman, Tom Hamburger and Emma Brown: “The document from Avenatti says AT&T paid Cohen $50,000 a month for four months starting in October 2017, just weeks before Trump’s Justice Department filed suit to block AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner. A spokesman for AT&T confirmed that the company engaged Essential Consultants, a company formed by Cohen in early 2017 ‘to provide insights into understanding the new administration.’”
-- Meanwhile, Cohen has put up his family’s Manhattan apartment as collateral for loans to his embattled taxi business. From Bloomberg News's Caleb Melby and Shahien Nasiripour: “The transaction, outlined in public filings this week, indicates the financial pressure on Cohen is hitting close to home as federal prosecutors delve into a broad range of his business activities … ”
-- The safety of a top-secret intelligence source is at the center of the latest battle between the Justice Department and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), Robert Costa, Carol D. Leonnig, Devlin Barrett and Shane Harris scoop: “Top White House officials, with the assent of [Trump], agreed to back the decision to withhold the information. They were persuaded that turning over Justice Department documents could risk lives by potentially exposing the source, a U.S. citizen who has provided intelligence to the CIA and FBI, according to multiple people familiar with the discussion and the person’s role. The showdown marked a rare moment of alignment between the Justice Department and Trump … But it is unclear whether Trump was alerted to a key fact — that information developed by the intelligence source had been provided to the Mueller investigation. … The role of the intelligence source in the Mueller investigation may now be seized upon by conservative Republicans who have publicly accused the Justice Department and intelligence agencies of overreach and misuse of their surveillance powers.”
-- The Senate Intelligence Committee released an interim report from its Russia investigation with recommendations to improve election security. From Karoun Demirjian: “The interim report, which identified at least 18, and potentially as many as 21, states whose election systems were targeted, is the first of four installments the committee is planning to release as part of its ongoing investigation into Russian interference during the 2016 elections, before concluding a final report in the fall that will address the greater themes of the investigation, including allegations of collusion between affiliates of [Trump] and Russian officials. … While the report chastises the DHS of both the Trump administration and the Obama administration for a slow response — pointing out it took committee pressure and until September 2017 for the department to reach out to chief elections officials in each state that had been targeted — it also congratulates the agency for making ‘tremendous progress’ over the past six months.”
Sick burn: “Late last month, the Republican majority of the House Intelligence Committee released its final Russia report, finding that the intelligence community did not adhere to its best practices when it determined that Russia had interfered in the U.S. election with the aim of aiding Trump. When asked whether the Senate Intelligence Committee’s interim report might make the same determination, [panel chairman Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.)] said: ‘I’m not sure that the House was required to substantiate every conclusion with facts.’”
-- Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort added a new attorney to represent him against Mueller’s prosecutors. Politico’s Josh Gerstein reports: “Jay Nanavati, a former Justice Department tax-crimes prosecutor, filed a formal appearance Tuesday in a Virginia-based case in which special counsel [Mueller] has charged Manafort with tax evasion, bank fraud and failing to report overseas bank accounts. Nanavati is a founding partner of the Washington office of Kostelanetz & Fink, a New York-based law firm.”
-- Dutch attorney Alex van der Zwaan became the first person imprisoned in connection with Mueller’s investigation. From Gerstein: “[V]an der Zwaan, 33, reported to a low-security Federal Bureau of Prisons facility near Allenwood, Pennsylvania, on Monday to serve the 30-day sentence he received for lying to investigators in the course of Mueller’s investigation, according to a bureau spokesperson.”
THE REST OF TRUMP'S AGENDA:
-- Senior U.S. diplomats warned the Trump administration that mass deportations of Central Americans and Haitians could destabilize the region and increase illegal immigration. Nick Miroff, Seung Min Kim and Joshua Partlow report: “The warnings were transmitted to top State Department officials last year in embassy cables now at the center of an investigation by Senate Democrats, whose findings were recently referred to the Government Accountability Office. … The cables’ contents, which have not been previously disclosed, reveal career diplomats’ strong opposition to terminating the immigrants’ provisional residency, known as temporary protected status (TPS), and the possible deportation of hundreds of thousands of people to some of the poorest and most violent places in the Americas. Then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson dismissed the advice.”
-- New details emerged from the time when Scott Pruitt’s security detail had to knock down a door to verify the safety of the EPA leader in March 2017. From the New York Times’s Eric Lipton and Lisa Friedman: “It began that day when Mr. Pruitt’s staff made repeated phone calls to him that went unanswered. So they called Washington emergency dispatchers. ‘They say he’s unconscious at this time,’ a 911 operator was told that evening, according to recordings of the emergency call … ‘I don’t know about the breathing portion.’ The emails detail what happened next. An agent ‘is on site and is breaching [name redacted] door to gain access,’ said a 5:20 p.m. email sent to the E.P.A. inspector general’s office and to the head of the agency’s criminal investigations unit ....” The EPA later reimbursed the condo association over $2,000 to replace the broken door.
-- The first lady’s staff responded harshly to charges of plagiarism tied to the rollout of her “Be Best” initiative. From the New York Times’s Katie Rogers: “Observers on Twitter quickly pointed out that one of the primary materials with ‘Be Best’ branding, a booklet on social media guidelines called ‘Talking With Kids About Being Online,’ had been circulated by the Federal Trade Commission during the Obama era. As the story spread, Mrs. Trump’s communications director published an extraordinary statement on Tuesday that admonished the news media for reporting on the plagiarism claims. ‘Our office will continue to focus on helping children, and I encourage members of the media to attempt to Be Best in their own professions,’ the communications director, Stephanie Grisham, wrote.”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Trump threatened to take away the credentials of news outlets that cover him negatively:
The Fake News is working overtime. Just reported that, despite the tremendous success we are having with the economy & all things else, 91% of the Network News about me is negative (Fake). Why do we work so hard in working with the media when it is corrupt? Take away credentials?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 9, 2018
The online conversation yesterday was dominated by the Iran news.
From Obama's former foreign policy adviser:
Beyond the potentially catastrophic consequences with Iran, Trump's decision is devastating to U.S. credibility globally. After this, why would anyone trust an international agreement that the U.S. negotiates?— Ben Rhodes (@brhodes) May 8, 2018
From the former U.S. ambassador to Russia:
Can someone please explain to me what US security interest Trump advanced by pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal? I honestly don't even understand the theory of the case.— Michael McFaul (@McFaul) May 8, 2018
But the opposition was not limited to Democrats:
John Kasich is out with a statement against the U.S. withdrawing from the Iran deal pic.twitter.com/upRKQGGmfC— Ben Jacobs (@Bencjacobs) May 8, 2018
From Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.):
The JCPOA had many flaws but withdrawing now does not serve our national interest. Iran has already realized the benefits of sanctions relief and the release of frozen assets. Now they are let off the hook when it comes to honoring their nuclear obligations under the agreement.— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) May 8, 2018
Meanwhile, two foreign leaders expressed gratitude toward Trump:
As I said before with regards to the deal, we are on auto pilot heading towards a mountain. Deal has fueled Iran’s malicious expansion driven by its extremist ideology. It provided Iran with a financial windfall that it used to further sectarian strife/chaos in the region.— Khalid bin Salman خالد بن سلمان (@kbsalsaud) May 8, 2018
From a longtime State Department official:
The decision to abandon the nuclear agreement with Iran isolates the United States, frees Iran, reneges on an American commitment, adds to the risk of a trade war with America’s allies and a hot war with Iran and diminishes the prospects of eliminating the DPRK nuclear threat— James Dobbins (@Jim_Dobbins) May 8, 2018
From the publisher of Talking Points Memo:
The biggest thing to realize about Trumps decision about the Iran Deal is that he doesn’t actually know what is even in it. This is all about what he said on the campaign, ego vs Obama. He doesn’t even know what it’s in the deal or how it works.— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) May 8, 2018
From a reporter for CQ-Roll Call:
Waiting for the "no one knew how complicated" it was moment to emerge in the coming weeks/months. https://t.co/EMccLZ5ZRK— Gopal Ratnam (@g_ratnam) May 8, 2018
From a veteran NBC journalist:
Trump bought Netanyahu argument about the computer files showing Iran's prior nuclear program even tho that program was well known to U.S. years before the 2015 deal was negotiated— Andrea Mitchell (@mitchellreports) May 8, 2018
From a Post reporter:
Sheldon Adelson to meet with Trump in D.C. tomorrow. Described as a “friendly,” long-planned meeting, not related to today’s Iran news.— Ashley Parker (@AshleyRParker) May 8, 2018
From the Boston Globe's deputy Washington bureau chief:
During idle hours in Vienna, State Department officials would debate who would portray top negotiators in a movie version of the Iran deal. Those officials may not like the sequel. Will there be a part three? pic.twitter.com/ZFKfARzMaQ— Matt Viser (@mviser) May 8, 2018
AT&T's automated responses missed the mark after the Cohen news broke:
Hi Star, we are here to help answer your questions. Can you please tell us more about what you mean by pay to play? We look forward to your response. ^TobiO https://t.co/7m6RT3Hk4n— AT&T (@ATT) May 9, 2018
Andy Slavitt, who ran Medicare and Medicaid during the Obama adminsitration, reacted to the Cohen reports:
Before you judge...— Andy Slavitt (@ASlavitt) May 9, 2018
Let he who has never sold access to a pharmaceutical company by having them buy off his blackmail payment to a porn star he silenced so he could illegally support his campaign after being caught bragging about sexual assault cast the first stone. pic.twitter.com/1fIRI93v0Y
From a former federal prosecutor:
Since Trump's election, corporations paid millions of dollars to a shell company created by Michael Cohen, a man who doesn't appear to practice law and is known as a "fixer" for Trump. Why? Isn't this the "swamp" Trump promised to drain?— Renato Mariotti (@renato_mariotti) May 9, 2018
From a former deputy chief of staff to former Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.):
Ok everyone time for some game theory that’ll advance a unified explanation of the entire universe of Trump/Russia/Collusion/Stormy D/Emoluments/Corruption scandals - *if* you can manage to stick with me.— Adam Jentleson (@AJentleson) May 8, 2018
Buckle up, here we go:
Trump doesn’t have any money.
And Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) prepared to become a grandfather:
Today our daughter Jessica and son-in-law Shappy announced she is pregnant. Very proud - we are going to become grandparents at last!!— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) May 8, 2018
-- New York Times Magazine, “The Quiet Americans Behind the U.S.-Russia Imbroglio,” by Keith Gessen: “The continuing wars in Ukraine and Syria, the apparent Russian campaign of targeted assassinations on foreign soil, the widening gyre of sanctions and countersanctions and the still-festering question of Russian meddling in the 2016 election have made for the worst relations between the two countries since the 1980s. Understanding how to get out of this mess will require understanding how we got into it. There may be no better place to start than with the people inside the American government who have been working on the subject since 1991 — the Russia hands. There are two kinds of Russia hands, or maybe there are six kinds of Russia hands, or maybe there is an infinite variety of Russia hands. … And yet the mystery is this: After all the many different Russia hands who have served in the United States government, the country’s relations with Russia are as they have always been — bad.”
-- Terrifying: “Russian hackers posed as IS to threaten military wives,” by the AP’s Raphael Satter: “Army wife Angela Ricketts was soaking in a bubble bath in her Colorado home … when a message appeared on her iPhone: ‘Dear Angela!’ it said. ‘Bloody Valentine’s Day!’ ‘We know everything about you, your husband and your children,’ the Facebook message continued, claiming that the hackers operating under the flag of Islamic State militants had penetrated her computer and her phone. ‘We’re much closer than you can even imagine.’ ... The warnings led to days of anguished media coverage of Islamic State militants’ online reach. Except it wasn’t IS. The [AP] has found evidence that the women were targeted not by jihadists but by the same Russian hacking group that intervened in the American election and exposed the emails of [John Podesta] …”
-- Yahoo News, “Is Cory Booker for real?” by Hunter Walker: “The reasons for the presidential buzz surrounding Booker are clear. Whenever Booker hits the campaign trail, he is a potent weapon. His rise has largely been propelled by his inspiring personal story — and his unique ability to tell it. … [But] the captivating narrative and presentation that has inspired support for Booker has also provoked skepticism, including fears from progressives about his close ties to donors from Wall Street and the pharmaceutical industry. There are also substantive questions about his record in Newark and in the Senate.”
-- “I went back to the man who hit me. Why?” by Megan McArdle: “He’d never hit me before. But the fact remained that he had been in one of his frequent, vehement rages, and during that rage, he hit me. Another fact remains: I went back to him. And even with 25 years to think about it, I’m still pondering why. To be honest, I’ve tried not to ponder it much over those years, and mostly I’ve succeeded. But I’m thinking about it now because of the disturbing allegations leveled against ... Eric Schneiderman.”
HOT ON THE LEFT:
“Congress wanted to grill the Trump official responsible for the census citizenship question. He didn’t show up,” from Vox News: “John Gore … drafted the letter to the Census Bureau asking for the citizenship question to be added ... [Research shows] that asking such a question could deter people from responding and cause an undercount of vulnerable communities. Gore already had a history of defending voting and redistricting laws that would hurt communities of color ... Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) was prepared to make an argument to subpoena Gore to show up. But Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), chair of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, cut her off and said he, too, would like to get Gore in front of them to answer questions.” “We are going to bring him, by legal compulsory if necessary,” Gowdy said.
HOT ON THE RIGHT:
“Orrin Hatch apologizes to John McCain for funeral comment: ‘I shouldn’t have said anything,’” from Sean Sullivan and Paul Kane: “Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) has apologized to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for saying it was ‘ridiculous’ for McCain to request that [Trump] not attend his funeral, a remark that drew a swift rebuke from McCain’s daughter Meghan McCain. ‘I agree with the daughter,’ a remorseful Hatch [said Tuesday]. ‘I shouldn’t have said anything yesterday. I agree a hundred percent with her.’ Hatch also sent a letter to McCain apologizing for his comment and for suggesting that McCain would not return to the Senate … The [Times] reported over the weekend that McCain’s close associates have informed the White House that their plan for his funeral is for Vice President Pence to attend but not Trump.”
Trump will hold a morning Cabinet meeting and later participate in the Celebration of Military Mothers and Spouses event at the White House. He will have dinner with lawmakers tonight.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
A 72-year-old cattle rancher from Texas explained why he might pick Democratic contender Beto O’Rourke over Ted Cruz in this year’s Senate election: “I always felt like the body politic is kind of like the human body. The liberal faction represents the heart, the conservative faction represents the mind, and the body needs both to stay alive.” (Time Magazine)
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- Another sunny, beautiful day is expected in the District. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “More good stuff today as high pressure keeps us mostly sunny with low humidity. Temperatures couldn’t be more perfect, climbing out of the 50s into the 60s this morning, with afternoon highs hitting the upper 70s to near 80.”
-- The Nationals beat the Padres 4-0. (Chelsea Janes)
-- Legislation aimed at overhauling sexual harassment policies in the Maryland statehouse was signed into law. From Rachel Chason: “The legislation … includes a requirement that an independent investigator handle harassment complaints involving statehouse employees.”
-- Alexandria’s City Council voted to put a proposed ordinance changing the name of Jefferson Davis Highway on its June 23 agenda. (Patricia Sullivan)
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Late-night hosts made jokes about Trump's decision to pull out of the Iran deal:
One West Virginia voter explained his surprising decision to back Blankenship:
West Virginia voter who says he lost three cousins in mine disaster tied to Don Blankenship tells @TomLlamasABC he's voting for the coal baron anyway.— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) May 8, 2018
"I want an honest crook, and that's Blankenship." https://t.co/mbZF5AC1FW pic.twitter.com/DuhAjh7U6b
Mitch McConnell explained the differences between hemp and marijuana:
Stormy Daniels's lawyer defended his media strategy:
Avenatti responds to the critics of his always-on-TV strategy: "Here's the bottom line, Anderson: It's working. It's working in spades... Because we're so out front on this, people send us information, people want to help our cause..." https://t.co/eKFkSdG7tt— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) May 9, 2018
And a Hawaiian resident captured an active lava fissure spewing lava next to his backyard: