With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve.
THE BIG IDEA: Three new deep dives into Donald Trump’s strength in Midwestern counties that were previously Democratic strongholds — written by conservatives, liberals and a nonpartisan journalist — each highlight a deep craving for respect among supporters of the president and an enduring resentment toward coastal elites that buoys his popularity.
Republicans and Democrats who have traveled to Macomb County in the Detroit suburbs, which Trump won by 12 points after Barack Obama carried it twice, including by 16 points in 2008, came away struck by these dynamics.
-- Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg, who helped orchestrate Bill Clinton’s 1992 victory, has obsessively studied the “Reagan Democrats” in Macomb for more than three decades. He went back after the 2016 election to understand how Trump won Michigan and recently returned to conduct another round of focus groups. “Trump voters complain that there is no respect for President Trump or for people like them who voted for him,” Greenberg writes in a new memo summarizing his latest findings, with Nancy Zdunkewicz of Democracy Corps.
One older white working-class woman recalled that, when she first started voting, “There was so much respect for the president. And I don't care what he did, or what he said, there was always respect. It was always ‘Mr. President.’” She said she is disgusted by the way people talk about Trump.
“A healthy diet of Fox News is feeding the white working-class men fending off the challenges of Trump’s opponents, including those within their own families,” Greenberg and Zdunkewicz write. “They … feel vindicated that a businessman like Trump has produced a strong macro-economy and kept his promises on immigration. They continue to appreciate how he speaks his mind, unlike a typical politician. … One white working class man shared that he ‘lost contact with [his] own daughter because of the election.’ Others complain that their children and millennial friends challenge their views and suggest the media manipulates them. … Families dividing over the 2016 election reflects just how central feelings about Trump have become to people’s identities.”
-- Respect is also a central undercurrent in “The Great Revolt,” a new book by Republican operative Brad Todd and conservative columnist Salena Zito. Macomb is one of 10 counties they studied across the five states that tipped the election to Trump to chronicle how he forged his conservative-populist coalition. Here is sampling of quotes from Trump voters interviewed for the book:
“We voted for President Obama and still we are ridiculed. Still we are considered racists,” said Cindy Hutchins, a store owner and nurse in Baldwin, Mich. “There is no respect for anyone who is just average and trying to do the right things.”
“Our culture in Hollywood or in the media gives off the distinct air of disregard to people who live in the middle of the country, as if we have no value or do not contribute to the betterment of society,” said Amy Giles-Maurer of Kenosha, Wis. “It’s frustrating. It really wants to make you stand up and yell, ‘We count,’ except of course we don’t. At least not in their eyes.”
“Live in a small or medium-sized town, and you would think we were dragging the country down,” said Michael Martin of Erie, Pa. “We aren’t a country just made up of large metropolitan areas. Our politics and our culture up until now has dictated that we are less than in the scale of importance and value.”
Todd is a partner at OnMessage, a powerhouse GOP consulting firm, who has helped elect seven senators, five governors and more than two dozen congressmen. Zito is a syndicated columnist from Pittsburgh. Together, they identify seven archetypes of voters who fueled Trump’s victory. The chapters include vignettes about three individual voters who fit each mold.
Some categories are obvious, like blue-collar workers who have personally experienced a job loss in the past seven years or independents who were amenable to Ross Perot’s campaigns two decades earlier. Others are more surprising, such as women under 45 who support gun rights for self-defense reasons. A majority in that category admit in post-election polling that they felt uncomfortable telling friends they supported Trump because they knew they would face disapproval.
“King Cyrus Republicans” is what the authors call evangelicals who stuck with Trump after the “Access Hollywood” tape came out because they wanted a conservative to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. That’s a reference to the sixth-century pagan Persian king who released Jews from bondage in Babylon.
Trump’s margin was weaker than Mitt Romney’s in 86 of the 100 most educated counties in the country. Trump’s level of support was higher than Romney’s in 1,449 of the 1,500 American counties with the lowest concentration of bachelor’s degrees. “The driver of this split is not the college education itself, but the social pressure that comes with living exclusively among other college graduates,” Zito and Todd write. “Rotary Reliables” is the name the authors give to the kind of country-club Republicans who refused to support Trump in more highly educated areas of the country but stuck with him in the Rust Belt because they spend their days hanging or working around less-educated blue-collar types.
Notably, people in all seven of their categories expressed frustration, even a year after the election, that they are not understood, respected or valued by the powers that be on the East and West coasts. “In the short span of a generation, the face and focus of the Democratic Party nationally has shifted from a glorification of the working-class ethos to multiculturalist militancy pushed by the Far Left of the party,” Zito and Todd argue. “The driving construct of otherness … is at its core driven by perceptions of respect. … The professional Left focuses heavily on race-related questions in analyzing the Trump vote, but race-tinged subjects were rarely cited by Trump voters interviewed for this book.”
-- Trump appealed to the “forgotten man,” a term his campaign often used, with a message that was infused less with ideology than grievance. He repeatedly benefited from his opponent giving him fodder. “You could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables,” Hillary Clinton said in September 2016 at an “LGBT for Hillary” gala in New York. “The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic -- you name it. And, unfortunately, there are people like that. And he has lifted them up.”
The Democratic nominee added that “the other half” of Trump’s supporters were “people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they're just desperate for change.” But this nuance was lost. Many heard Clinton saying they were deplorable, and the gaffe helped galvanized wobbly Republicans. It still stings in some quarters.
-- Dan Balz, The Washington Post’s chief correspondent, spent the past 16 months interviewing voters in rural areas of the upper Mississippi River valley where Obama won but then broke decisively for Trump. Macomb is suburban and wasn’t part of the area Balz explored, but there are notable echoes in his piece. His fascinating report filled a special section in Sunday’s newspaper. Some relevant nuggets:
“One of the places I would agree with the hardcore Trump people, they’re tired of being treated as the enemy by Barack Obama,” said Dennis Schminke, 65, a retired manager at Hormel, the company makes Spam in Austin, Minn., an area just north of the border with Iowa.
Trump was the first Republican to carry Mower County, which includes the meatpacking town, since Richard Nixon beat John F. Kennedy there in 1960. Schminke said Trump’s appeal there was born in part of resentment toward the Obama presidency. “His comment, the whole thing, it’s been worn out to death, that clinging to God and guns, God and guns and afraid of people who don’t look like them, blah, blah, blah. Just quit talking down to me,” he explained. “I despise Barack Obama. I think primarily because I don’t think he thinks very much of people like me. That’s just the long and short of it.”
Andrew Chesney, 36, a conservative businessman in Freeport, Ill. — the site of the second Lincoln-Douglas debate in 1858 and a county that Obama carried in 2008 — said Midwesterners feel let down by political leaders from both parties. “We’re constantly being preached to by those that in many cases have never done it,” he said. “This is an area that we try to work hard, play by the rules. It’s not a fast pace, it’s not a fancy pace, but we appreciate it. We like our big vehicles and our large parking spots, and that works for some people and it doesn’t work for others.”
-- Other reporters on our staff routinely hear similar sentiments when interviewing voters. David Miller, a white 54-year-old, talked with The Post at a polling place in Cleveland last Tuesday as he pulled a Republican primary ballot for the first time he could remember to vote in the governor’s race. Like so many others, he said he came to feel left behind before the 2016 election. “I mainly was a mainstream Democrat,” he told Afi Scruggs. “Every time I turned on the TV, there’s a Democrat calling me a racist and I just got tired of it.”
-- One reason Balz’s piece is great is that it’s longitudinal: It tracks in a nuanced way how specific people’s attitudes about Trump have shifted gradually since he took office. In some cases, folks who reluctantly backed him are more strongly supportive now than then. Others have peeled away as they became fatigued by the drama and scandal that follows this president.
The best illustration is Kurt Glazier, 50, from Sterling, Ill. He’s a state worker, a union member and chairman of the Republican Party in Whiteside County, where Ronald Reagan was born. Balz visited him four times, including long talks in the dining room of his home.
Eight days before the inauguration, Glazier lamented the political divisions that had been building for years. “I very much dislike the fact that a lot of people stereotype Republican individuals, Republican people, that we’re racists. I think that is further from the truth,” he said.
By midsummer of 2017, Glazier had growing concerns about Trump. “Every night when I watch the national news, I wonder what circus is going to be on the news, what they’re going to talk about,” he said. “I hoped for more of the making America great again … It’s almost like it’s ‘The Apprentice’ on a daily basis.”
Near the first anniversary of the president taking office, Glazier worried especially that those who voted for Trump are now viewed by others as therefore being like Trump. “I’m far from being a racist,” he said. “I’m far from being a bigot. Not everybody makes the crude comments. Not everybody walks and talks like he’s a big bully, like the president can do sometimes.”
A few weeks ago, Glazier watched Stormy Daniels’s interview on CBS’s “60 Minutes” and felt “a little saddened” by the steady stream of Trump’s self-inflicted mistakes. “It does nothing for his reputation,” he said. “Of course, the real die-hard Donald Trump lovers eat this up and they eat these scandals up.”
But Glazier drew a distinction between the staunchest Trump supporters and other Republicans — like him. “I think the real party faithful, the educated voters, might be beginning to distance themselves from him, and I wouldn’t be too surprised to see a Republican challenger or challengers against Trump,” he said. “They wanted so much of a change. But he has some changing to do himself before I would be supportive of him again. … A 71-year-old man like he is, I don’t foresee him changing a whole lot.”
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi suffered a major setback as influential Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr took a surprise lead in the country’s parliamentary elections. From Tamer El-Ghobashy and Mustafa Salim: “If the results hold, Sadr, a strident critic of the United States who commands a militia that fought American troops during the occupation of Iraq, could be in a position to determine Iraq’s next leader. Sadr did not run in the election but holds sway over the electoral ticket, which has defied predictions by amassing the largest number of votes across 10 of country’s 18 provinces. … Abadi’s coalition, which had been forecast to win and was Washington’s choice, came in fifth in the capital and was running third overall, according to the preliminary results.”
GET SMART FAST:
- The suspect in the Paris knife attack was a French citizen born in Chechnya. Identified in media reports as Khamzat Asimov, he allegedly killed one man and injured four others before being shot dead by police. (BBC)
Italy’s anti-establishment 5 Star Movement has reached an agreement with the anti-immigration League Party. The likely coalition government would mark a victory for non-mainstream political movements. (Wall Street Journal)
- The father of four children killed in an Australia mass shooting last week said he believes their grandfather planned the attack before turning the gun on himself in an apparent to murder-suicide. “He’s thought this through,” Aaron Cockman told reporters. “I think he’s been thinking this through for a long time.” This was Australia’s most deadly mass shooting in more than a decade. (Kristine Phillips and Lindsey Bever)
The Broward County, Fla., school district has been criticized for lack of transparency following the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High. The district is currently fighting a court battle to avoid releasing school surveillance footage, and the schools superintendent has blocked parents who criticize him on Twitter. (David Fleshler)
Meanwhile, Waffle House hero James Shaw Jr. met with the Parkland shooting survivors at a Denny’s in Florida. Shaw posted a photo to Twitter of himself and student activist Emma González with the caption, “I met one of my heros today.” (Alex Horton)
- Another severed human foot was discovered on a beach in Canada last week, bringing to 14 the number of athletic shoe-clad human feet that have washed ashore there since 2007. The phenomenon has alarmed residents and captivated local law enforcement officials, who continue to diligently log the appendages in hopes of identifying the deceased. (Amy B Wang)
An 81-year-old dubbed the “man with the golden arm” has retired from donating blood after 60 years — and after making a whopping 1,173 donations to the Red Cross. The rare antibodies contained in James Harrison’s blood helped save the lives of 2.4 million babies. (Amy B Wang)
WATCH WHAT THEY DO, NOT WHAT THEY SAY:
-- The Education Department is neutering a special team tasked with investigating widespread abuses by for-profit colleges. The New York Times’s Danielle Ivory, Erica L. Green and Steve Eder report: “The unwinding of the team has effectively killed investigations into possibly fraudulent activities at several large for-profit colleges where top hires of [Secretary Betsy DeVos] had previously worked. During the final months of the Obama administration, the team had expanded to include a dozen or so lawyers and investigators who were looking into advertising, recruitment practices and job placement claims at several institutions, including DeVry Education Group. Now only three employees work on the team … In addition to [DeVry], investigations into Bridgepoint Education and Career Education Corporation, which also operate large for-profit colleges, went dark. Former employees of those institutions now work for Ms. DeVos as well, including Robert S. Eitel, her senior counselor, and Diane Auer Jones, a senior adviser on postsecondary education.”
THE NEW WORLD ORDER:
-- The Trump administration will formally move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem today, which is expected to trigger another set of violent demonstrations across Palestinian territories. Loveday Morris, Ruth Eglash and Hazem Balousha report: “[The] Israeli army will be readying for its nightmare scenario: thousands of Palestinians bursting through the fence with Gaza. 'We really believe that’s what they will do, the motivation is very, very big,’ an Israeli army official from the southern command said of the potential for protesters to break through the fence … He pointed out fresh rolls of barbed wire, ready for areas perceived as weak spots. [Protests] are expected to be largest in Gaza, where six weeks of demonstrations dubbed the ‘March of Return’ will reach a climax this week. Israeli snipers have already killed at least 49 Palestinians in the unrest at the fence … and shot 2,240 more.
“But Israel is not letting the threat of violence dull its party. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs gathered 1,000 guests for a celebratory event on the ministry grounds on Sunday. Among them were [Steven Mnuchin, Sheldon Adelson and Ivanka Trump]. …As guests sipped wine in front of a stage with a backdrop of American and Israeli flags, the mosques in Gaza were urging people to attend protests."
-- Gaza officials said that the number of Palestinians killed in border clashes today has reached at least 18, with another 918 wounded. (Loveday Morris and Hazem Balousha)
-- The Trump administration has reversed its position on the boycott of Qatar, but it has been unable to convince Persian Gulf leaders to relent. Liz Sly reports: “On a visit to Saudi Arabia two weeks ago, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a stern message to the Persian Gulf leaders, urging them to resolve their differences and stressing that gulf unity is imperative if the United States and its allies are to confront Iran, a Trump administration priority. But Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which have led the embargo campaign, show no sign they are prepared to budge. Anwar Gargash, the UAE minister of state for foreign affairs, made it clear in a tweet this month that Washington’s intervention would not be welcome. ‘I sincerely advise Qatar that there will not be any mediation from outside the gulf,’ he posted.”
-- Relaxing penalties on Chinese telecom company ZTE has become a flash point in trade negotiations between the United States and China. Damian Paletta, Ellen Nakashima and Steven Mufson report: “The talks are fluid, and President Trump has shown a willingness to veer between extremes in how he interacts with Beijing. But Trump said Sunday on Twitter that he wanted federal regulators to take the unusual step of relaxing penalties on ZTE, even though the Chinese company has been accused of illicitly shipping goods to North Korea and Iran. … Trump pledged on Sunday to help ZTE return to business, days after the company said it would ‘cease major operating activities’ because of the U.S. government’s recent trade restrictions. Those restrictions bar U.S. firms for seven years from exporting critical microchips and other parts to ZTE.
“The comment marked a sharp shift in tone for a president who has long accused China of stealing U.S. jobs. The Treasury and Commerce departments had been strongly aligned against ZTE as recently as several days ago in one of the toughest actions to date against a Chinese company. With Trump’s tweet, some officials familiar with the ZTE issue believe a compromise is possible. ‘A mini-deal is in sight,’ said a person familiar with the matter. ‘China gets relief for ZTE, and in exchange agrees to return to the status quo for U.S. agriculture,’ easing tariffs and implementing other non-tariff remedies. But the talks have not been amicable. Chinese President Xi Jinping has been irate about the sanctions on ZTE, and his top economic adviser, Liu He, has told U.S. negotiators that there is no chance of a deal without the United States removing the seven-year ban on ZTE ...”
-- Mike Pompeo said the United States is assuring Kim Jong Un that it will not invade North Korea or otherwise seek his ouster during next month’s summit with Trump — seeking to further incentivize Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons program. Carol Morello and Anne Gearan report: “Pompeo added he told Kim that what Trump wants is “to see the North Korean regime get rid of its nuclear weapons program, completely and in totality, and in exchange for that we are prepared to ensure that the North Korean people get the opportunity that they so richly deserve. 'No president has ever put America in a position where the North Korean leadership thought that this was truly possible, that the Americans would actually do this, would lead to the place where America was no longer held at risk by the North Korean regime,' Pompeo said. 'That's the objective.'”
-- John Bolton described the types of steps Pyongyang would need to take to comply with a denuclearization process. While North Korea should “not look for economic aid from us,” said the national security adviser, “I think what the prospect for North Korea is to become a normal nation, to behave and interact with the rest of the world the way South Korea does. … The prospect for North Korea is unbelievably strong if they'll commit to denuclearization. That's what the president is going to say." (ABC)
THERE'S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:
-- As Bob Mueller’s probe enters its second year, an increasingly agitated Trump is lashing out against his own team with bluster and defiance — heightening the risk of a more direct confrontation with federal investigators. Ashley Parker, Philip Rucker, Tom Hamburger, Robert Costa and Matt Zapotosky have a deep look at the state of play, based on interviews with 22 administration officials, witnesses and others in Trump's circle:
- On Trump’s mood: “The president vents to associates about the FBI raids on his personal attorney Michael Cohen — as often as ‘20 times a day,’ in the estimation of one confidant — and they frequently listen in silence, knowing little they say will soothe him. Trump gripes that he needs better ‘TV lawyers’ to defend him on cable news … And he plots his battle plans with [Rudy] Giuliani, his new legal consigliere.”
- On Mueller's operation: “The Mueller operation, like the former Marine Corps platoon commander who leads it, is secretive and methodical. [Grand jury witnesses say] they are struck first by how commonplace the setting feels — more classroom than courtroom. The questioning is polite yet aggressive, surprising witnesses with its precision and often accompanied by evidence — including text messages and emails — displayed on a large old-fashioned overhead projector. ... The range of witnesses Mueller has called in has been breathtaking … [including interviews with White House counsel] Donald McGahn — at least twice — to Avi Berkowitz, the 29-year-old personal assistant to Kushner.”
- On the fate of his allies: While many Trump officials say they are “confident” he will be exonerated, they have privately worried about others in his orbit being ensnared — especially family members. There is “particular worry” about Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner, the president's son and son-in-law.
- On the special counsel's opaque timeline: “Even [Giuliani, who initially predicted the probe] would wrap up within two weeks, now seems uncertain of where Mueller’s investigation will conclude. ‘From our point of view, it’s a two-track possibility for what’s next,’ Giuliani said, referring to the possibility that Trump may sit for an interview with Mueller or, if he refuses, that Mueller may subpoena him. ‘But we don’t know which track it’ll end up being.’”
-- The Wall Street Journal has more details on how Cohen sought to capitalize on his relationship with Trump to build a consulting business. From Rebecca Ballhaus, Peter Nicholas, Michael Rothfeld and Joe Palazzolo: “Mr. Cohen’s pitch was blunt. He would tell prospective clients — large corporations worried about their lack of connections to [Trump’s] administration — that he didn’t know who was advising them, but that the companies ‘should fire them all’ … ‘I have the best relationship with the president on the outside, and you need to hire me,’ Mr. Cohen told them[.] Mr. Cohen repeatedly pitched Uber, which said no, citing Mr. Cohen’s ownership of New York taxi medallions as a potential conflict[.] He modified his pitch in response those objections, reminding the company he was ‘the president’s lawyer,’ this person said. The company, this person said, was ‘bemused.’
- “Mr. Cohen talked to associates about building a huge practice. He mused about approaching foreign governments and foreign firms. But a broad review of his Washington dealings … shows his efforts were scattershot and met only with mixed success — both for Mr. Cohen and his clients.
- “In March, Mr. Cohen confided in friends he felt undervalued by Mr. Trump and questioned whether he should continue his work as lawyer for the president ... Less than a month later, the FBI raided his home, [hotel, and office].”
-- A former Trump campaign aide is helping a firm controlled by Russian oligarch and Vladimir Putin ally Oleg Deripaska try to shed newly imposed U.S. sanctions. CNN's Sarah Westwood and Sara Murray report: “Bryan Lanza, who is in regular contact with White House officials, is lobbying on behalf of the chairman of EN Group, an energy and aluminum firm presently controlled by [Deripaska], according to several sources. Lanza is representing the chairman of EN Group, but not Deripaska directly. The company is seeking to reduce Deripaska's ownership in the company enough to be freed from US sanctions. Deripaska is expected to maintain a substantial stake in the company.” (In the summer of 2016, Trump chairman Paul Manafort allegedly offered to provide Deripaska with private campaign briefings.)
ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN:
-- Fox News host Sean Hannity is on Trump’s list of cleared callers to reach him at the White House, and the pair sometimes speak multiple times a day, according to a profile by New York magazine’s Olivia Nuzzi. Also on the list are Eric and Don Jr., private-equity billionaire Stephen Schwarzman, Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch, real estate billionaire Tom Barrack and Patriots owner Robert Kraft. Here are some other juicy nuggets from Olivia's story on the president's unofficial chief of staff:
- Reince Priebus and Sean Spicer coordinated a campaign to get Trump to stop hate-watching MSNBC and CNN: “Like all other ideas, this had the highest chance of implementation if Trump believed he’d thought of it on his own. Priebus and Spicer worked talking points about the network’s high ratings and importance to his base of supporters into conversation until, eventually, it stuck, so that the president’s television consumption is today what the current White House official called ‘mainly a complete dosage of Fox.’”
- “I was told by one person that Hannity ‘fills the political void’ left by Steve Bannon, a statement Bannon seemed to agree with: ‘Sean Hannity understands the basic issues of economic nationalism and ‘America First’ foreign policy at a deeper level than the august staff of Jonathan Chait and the ... clowns at New York Magazine,’ he said.”
- “On the phone, he and the president alternate between the ‘witch hunt!’ and gabbing like old girlfriends about media gossip and whose show sucks and who’s getting killed in the ratings and who’s winning (Hannity, and therefore Trump) and sports and Kanye West, all of it sprinkled with a staccato f--- … f---ing … f---ed … f---er.”
- “Hannity doesn’t entertain calls from network leadership, according to a source, though they rarely try to call him anyway. He’s only met James Murdoch once, at a baseball game. His relationship with Fox News management is nonexistent, according to the source. … If he wants to defend the president’s lawyer every night without telling anyone the president’s lawyer is also his lawyer, he can do it.”
- “Privately, Hannity has expressed openness to a different kind of retirement, far removed from a dog farm: running for office, something he hadn’t considered in the past. [Hannity’s friend John] Gomez, whose own unsuccessful congressional race Hannity advised on, said he thought the only way he’d do it is if he didn’t think there was anybody else for the job — something, incidentally, Trump used to say before the beginning of his political career.”
-- Former NSC staffer Ezra Cohen-Watnick searched for ways to surveil White House staffers’ communications as a means of preventing leaks. The Daily Beast’s Spencer Ackerman reports: “[Cohen-Watnick] sought technical solutions in early 2017 for collecting and analyzing phone and other data on White House colleagues for interactions with reporters. He portrayed his desired leak hunt as an ‘insider threat’ detection effort, according to the ex-officials. Those who heard of it presumed it would focus on NSC staffers held over from the Obama administration. It is unknown whether Cohen-Watnick’s efforts actually resulted in any monitoring program. The former officials noted the overwhelming technical and legal hurdles to doing so. … Some staffers considered Cohen-Watnick’s insider-threat focus ironic, considering that Cohen-Watnick himself reportedly played a role in a Trump White House effort to leak intelligence reports to Devin Nunes, the House intelligence committee chairman.” Cohen-Watnick now works as a senior adviser to Attorney General Jeff Sessions on counterintelligence and counterterrorism.
-- Trump’s White House leaks “like there’s no tomorrow.” But why? Axios’s Jonathan Swan reached out to the Trump administration’s most prolific leakers to find out why they’re so eager to divulge information:
- “To be honest, it probably falls into a couple of categories,” one White House official said. “The first is personal vendettas. And two is to make sure there's an accurate record of what's really going on …”
- Another former official said grudges have a lot to do with it. “Any time I leaked, it was out of frustration with incompetent or tone-deaf leadership,” the source said.
- “The most common substantive leaks are the result of someone losing an internal policy debate,” one current senior administration official offered. “By leaking the decision, the loser gets one last chance to kill it with blowback from the public, Congress or even the President. … Otherwise, you have to realize that working here is kind of like being in a never-ending 'Mexican Standoff.' Everyone has guns (leaks) pointed at each other and it's only a matter of time before someone shoots … so you might as well shoot first.”
-- Bolton declined to apologize on the Sunday shows for White House aide Kelly Sadler mocking John McCain's battle with brain cancer. Paul Kane reports: “In an appearance Sunday on CNN’s ‘State of the Union,’ [Bolton] said he remained grateful for McCain’s past support, particularly during Bolton’s 2005 confirmation battle to be ambassador to the United Nations … ‘He did it because he thought I was being treated unfairly. I’ll never forget it, I’ll be grateful forever, and I wish John McCain and his family nothing but the best,’ Bolton [said]. Pressed by CNN’s Jake Tapper on whether he would apologize for Sadler’s remark, Bolton demurred.” “I’ve said what I’m going to say,” he said.
- On CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) criticized Sadler’s remarks as a “disgusting thing to say.” “If it was a joke, it was a terrible joke,” Graham said. He would not state an opinion on whether Trump should apologize on her behalf, however: “I’ll leave that up to him, but if something happened like that in my office — somebody in my office said such a, such a thing about somebody, I would apologize on behalf of the office.”
- Meghan McCain, the senator’s daughter, told ABC News that Sadler had called her to apologize but has “still not acquiesced” to her request for a public apology. “I asked her to publicly apologize and she said she would. I have not spoken to her since and I assume that it will never come,” she said.
- Sadler took the shot at the senator after he announced his opposition to Gina Haspel's nomination to lead the CIA. Sen. Joe Donnelly (Ind.) became the second Democrat to endorse Haspel on Saturday, likely securing her confirmation. The other is Joe Manchin (W.Va.). Both look more vulnerable after last Tuesday's primaries, and they're sitting in states Trump handily won.
-- White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow has developed a reputation as “the nicest guy in the West Wing,” write Politico’s Ben White and Nancy Cook. “Unlike Gary Cohn, his hard-charging predecessor at the helm of the National Economic Council, Kudlow doesn’t yell. He doesn’t have a reputation for knifing policy opponents in the press or badmouthing them to colleagues, as do many aides in the fractious administration. … Instead, he’s trying to avoid the collapse of the North American Free Trade Agreement and a bitter trade war with China … by seeking consensus with colleagues who are inclined to impose stricter trade barriers, staying close to his boss and wooing members of Congress. … Some staffers grumble that the rigorous policy process put in place by Cohn when he was NEC director is gone and that spending time with Trump and on TV is not sufficient to oversee the administration’s economic decision-making.”
-- Missouri Republican Gov. Eric Greitens’s fight to keep his job points to “a powerful new lesson: The shape of the American sex scandal has shifted,” Marc Fisher writes. “Adultery itself may no longer end a career, but if you use coercion or violence against women, you’re as good as done. The governor, a dynamic young Republican ex-Navy SEAL who carried an assault rifle in his best-known TV ad, is on trial in St. Louis on a felony charge stemming from his affair with a hairdresser who says Greitens slapped, spanked and shoved her, in addition to taking a partially nude photo of her and threatening to blackmail her with it. … ‘Sex scandals, underneath the salacious details and entertainment value, offer a window onto our cultural perspectives on sex, gender and sexuality,’ said Juliet Williams, a gender studies professor at the University of California at Los Angeles. ‘It seems almost quaint to consider that just 20 years ago, a mere extramarital affair was enough to create a national crisis. The dominant frame then was a moral one — adultery, a young woman being taken advantage of.’ Now, criminality plays the role that morality once did in defining public debate.”
-- Trump’s presidency may be “the best thing that ever happened” to George W. Bush, who traveled to D.C. to accept the Atlantic Council’s international leadership award last week. Roxanne Roberts writes: “Washington, it seems, has developed Bush nostalgia. Just nine years after he left the White House, many conservatives pine for their misunderestimated good old boy from Texas. Looking in the rearview mirror, the last Republican president suddenly appears measured, compassionate, principled — in short, presidential. Even liberals who could not wait for Barack Obama to move into the White House are grudgingly penitent, privately admitting that they didn’t appreciate Bush’s good qualities. But this newfound appreciation may have less to do with history and more to do with political beer goggles: It’s 2 a.m. in the nation’s capital, and suddenly every past president looks good.”
-- California’s new sanctuary state law is dividing residents and lawmakers. Scott Wilson reports from Dublin, Calif.: “Growing opposition to the law is challenging California’s identity as the heart of liberal resistance to the Trump administration. Protests from conservative residents and politicians are emerging in courthouses and council meetings from here in the Bay Area to San Diego County. Known officially as the California Values Act, the law prohibits nearly all communication between local law enforcement officials and federal immigration agents. … [T]he measure’s supporters say [the law is] necessary to prevent undocumented immigrants who do not pose a public-safety threat from being swept up in deportations. In recent weeks, more than a dozen small cities and three counties in California have joined the Trump administration’s lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the sanctuary-state law. There is a sense among conservatives facing a difficult midterm election season that California has become ‘a rogue state,’ in the words of a San Diego County supervisor who voted to join the federal lawsuit last month.”
-- Lawmakers who sponsored a bill that critics say hampered the DEA’s enforcement of the opioid industry appear vulnerable politically. Scott Higham, Reis Thebault and Steven Rich report: “Twenty-six lawmakers sponsored or co-sponsored versions of the legislation in the House and the Senate, 23 of them Republicans, three of them Democrats. While some are retiring, and others are not up for reelection, 15 sponsors and co-sponsors — 12 Republicans and all three Democrats — are running for reelection or seeking higher office during a volatile political cycle that defies prediction. In nine of those races, the lawmakers’ support of the law and the money they accepted have become key campaign themes.”
-- Democratic leaders fear they are losing their advantage in the midterms. From Sean Sullivan and Seung Min Kim: “Driving their concerns are Trump’s approval rating, which has ticked upward in recent weeks, and high Republican turnout in some recent primaries, suggesting the GOP base remains energized. What’s more, Republicans stand to benefit politically from a thriving economy and are choosing formidable candidates to take on vulnerable Democratic senators. One of their biggest sources of anxiety is the Senate race in Florida, where some Democrats fear that three-term Sen. Bill Nelson has not adequately prepared to defend his seat against Gov. Rick Scott, a well-financed former businessman handpicked for the race by Trump. Scott and Nelson are close in early polls.”
-- Liberals are frustrated with the establishment’s support of more centrist candidates in the Democratic primaries. From the New York Times’s Alan Blinder and Alexander Burns: “In a string of important races across the country, national Democrats have been embracing recruits near the political center, hoping they will give the party the chance to compete in states like Utah and Kansas where a liberal Democrat might stand little chance of winning. About a dozen crucial House races this fall are likely to feature Democratic nominees who are positioned markedly closer to the middle than the national party’s activist base — more than enough to determine control of the House. … Lawmakers and advocacy groups on the left object that recruiting a generation of less-than-liberal Democrats might cripple the party’s ability to enact sweeping policy changes in Washington.”
-- Organizational upheaval at the progressive group Wellstone Action underscores the emerging Democratic schism. The organization was created after the death of Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.) to train progressive candidates and organizers. But the late senator’s sons were voted off the group’s governing board after they voiced concerns that Democrats were abandoning disaffected white voters in rural areas. (Politico)
-- Starting early: Mitch McConnell is already hiring staff for his 2020 reelection campaign, and he’s not even in cycle yet. The Senate majority leader — who often quotes former Kentucky Sen. Happy Chandler’s famous line, “you can start too late, but never too soon” — has never started his reelection efforts so early. (Spectrum News)
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner arrived in Israel to commemorate the new embassy:
Thank you Prime Minister @netanyahu & Mrs. Netanyahu for the warm welcome to Israel. I am honored to join you & the US Delegation in commemorating the dedication of our new @usembassyjlm & celebrating the friendship between our two countries. #USEmbassyJerusalem 🇺🇸 🇮🇱 pic.twitter.com/DY4z9sXnnS— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) May 14, 2018
Mitt Romney questioned the choice of pastor to lead the opening prayer at the embassy's dedication:
Robert Jeffress says “you can’t be saved by being a Jew,“ and “Mormonism is a heresy from the pit of hell.” He’s said the same about Islam. Such a religious bigot should not be giving the prayer that opens the United States Embassy in Jerusalem.— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) May 14, 2018
Jeffress responded to the criticism:
Historic Christianity has taught for 2,000 years that salvation is through faith in Christ alone. The fact that I, along with tens of millions of evangelical Christians around the world, continue to espouse that belief, is neither bigoted nor newsworthy.— Dr. Robert Jeffress (@robertjeffress) May 14, 2018
Trump defended his decision on the Iran deal:
Remember how badly Iran was behaving with the Iran Deal in place. They were trying to take over the Middle East by whatever means necessary. Now, that will not happen!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 13, 2018
And he called for "[c]hanges to our thought process on terror":
So sad to see the Terror Attack in Paris. At some point countries will have to open their eyes & see what is really going on. This kind of sickness & hatred is not compatible with a loving, peaceful, & successful country! Changes to our thought process on terror must be made.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 14, 2018
The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee criticized Trump's announcement on ZTE:
Our intelligence agencies have warned that ZTE technology and phones pose a major cyber security threat. You should care more about our national security than Chinese jobs. https://t.co/7Ygh7805jg— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) May 13, 2018
From a former CIA analyst:
What? Why? ZTE is also a known national security threat. Who do you even work for? https://t.co/fRr5UqCYrE— 𝙽𝚊𝚍𝚊 𝙱𝚊𝚔𝚘𝚜 (@nadabakos) May 13, 2018
From a Weekly Standard editor:
It might be the case that Trump’s ignorant narcissism, which invites fundamental miscalculation about Xi and Kim, poses as much of a threat to our national security as whatever corruption exists with respect to Putin.— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) May 13, 2018
From a former British professor:
Can one of the Americans who told me how important it was for Europeans to get sanctioned for sticking to an international agreement that the US has just walked away from now explain why Trump is going all out to protect a company originally sanctioned for selling to Iran. https://t.co/zf94rPg0OA— Lawrence Freedman (@LawDavF) May 13, 2018
Stormy Daniels's lawyer posted an image appearing to show Michael Cohen getting into an elevator at Trump Tower with a Qatari banker accused of bribing Washington officials:
Warning ignored. So here it goes.— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) May 13, 2018
December 12, 2016 - Trump Tower. Details to follow... pic.twitter.com/aEuuhRHB4a
Why was Ahmed Al-Rumaihi meeting with Michael Cohen and Michael Flynn in December 2016 and why did Mr. Al-Rumaihi later brag about bribing administration officials according to a sworn declaration filed in court?— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) May 13, 2018
A Republican senator went after the White House official who made a controversial remark about John McCain:
Making light of this – especially in the senseless and classless manner that’s been described in the media – is simply sad and speaks more broadly to the low levels of civil discourse & respect that have infected our politics on both sides of the aisle. We all need to do better.— SenDanSullivan (@SenDanSullivan) May 13, 2018
As to the White House official who offered such an insult, she should show some respect and apologize.— SenDanSullivan (@SenDanSullivan) May 13, 2018
A former Democratic presidential candidate had harsh words for Fox News:
Amazing how ignorant Fox staff and guests are about American history. Willfully ignorant, which makes them a much more powerful version of RT. They are a threat to American security https://t.co/Sj4P3HZM04— Howard Dean (@GovHowardDean) May 14, 2018
And Twitter celebrated Mother's Day:
The president's son recognized his ex-wife Vanessa, whom he recently divorced:
Happy #MothersDay to all the moms around the country & the world! I’m especially grateful for my remarkable mom Roberta & my extraordinary wife @cindymccain, whose selflessness, devotion & courage give our family great strength. pic.twitter.com/zWqZTTkxdf— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) May 13, 2018
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
-- BuzzFeed News, “How The Congressional Baseball Shooting Didn't Become The Deadliest Political Assassination In American History,” by Kate Nocera and Lissandra Villa: “If you ask the people who survived, a series of miracles took place that morning, which Roger Williams considers ‘angels,’ and Rep. Jeff Duncan, ‘God winks.’ That the shooter never got a good shot into the dugout. That his first shot hit the fence, diverting the bullet’s path away from Rep. Trent Kelly who was standing directly in front of him, at third base. That he never thought to climb the announcer’s booth. That the pitchers weren’t there that day, instead of trapped in a batting cage. … That the gate next to third base — through which the shooter could’ve walked through right onto the field — was locked, another fact nearly everyone on the team credits with saving their lives. ‘If it was just one thing, you could maybe call it a coincidence, but when you add them all up together, the only way you can explain it is that they were all miracles,’ [Steve] Scalise says.”
-- The New Yorker, “Trump vs. the ‘Deep State,’” by Evan Osnos: “Midway through its second year, Trump’s White House is at war within and without, racing to banish the ‘disloyals’ and to beat back threatening information. Bit by bit, the White House is becoming Trump’s Emerald City: isolated, fortified against nonbelievers, entranced by its mythmaker, and constantly vulnerable to the risks of revelation.”
-- New York Times, “Surest Way to Face Marijuana Charges in New York: Be Black or Hispanic,” by Benjamin Mueller, Robert Gebeloff and Sahil Chinoy: “With crime dropping and the Police Department under pressure to justify the number of low-level arrests it makes, a senior police official recently testified to lawmakers that there was a simple reason for the racial imbalance: More residents in predominantly black and Hispanic neighborhoods were calling to complain about marijuana. An analysis by The Times found that fact did not fully explain the racial disparity. Instead, among neighborhoods where people called about marijuana at the same rate, the police almost always made arrests at a higher rate in the area with more black residents, The Times found.”
-- Politico Magazine, “The College That Wants to Take Over Washington,” by Alice Lloyd: “Hillsdale College might be cozying up to Trump, but its acolytes are playing the long game.”
-- After spending years as a tireless critic of the Iran deal, Washington think tank CEO Mark Dubowitz is insisting he wanted to save it — earning him scathing criticism from high-minded experts across the country. The New York Times’s Gardiner Harris reports: “[His lament] has enraged the pact’s supporters … who blame Mr. Dubowitz above all others for providing the intellectual foundation for its passing. ‘It is unbelievably galling to see him, of all people, trying to escape responsibility,’ said [Win Without War’s] Ben Armbruster … During the congressional debate on the deal, he and his foundation colleagues testified in opposition to the deal 17 times[.] More recently, Mr. Dubowitz was the only nongovernmental official routinely consulted by both European and American negotiators in a monthslong back-and-forth over a possible side agreement to the deal, and he sometimes reviewed secret drafts. He wrote, according to two administration officials … parts of a report on Iran that Brian H. Hook, the chief American negotiator in the recent talks, took to White House meetings — a highly unusual step. … Now that Mr. Trump has decided to withdraw … Mr. Dubowitz’s campaign to draw attention to what he saw as its flaws has taken its place among the most consequential ever undertaken by a Washington think tank leader.”
HOT ON THE LEFT
“Va. election officials assigned 26 voters to the wrong district. It might’ve cost Democrats a pivotal race,” from Laura Vozzella and Ted Mellnik: “Last year’s race for state delegate in Newport News went down in Virginia history for its razor-thin margin. Republican David E. Yancey won on Election Day by 10 votes; Democrat Shelly Simonds beat him by a single vote in a recount. Then, a judicial panel declared a tie, so officials picked a name out of a bowl to determine a winner, and it was Yancey. Now, a review of voter registration records and district maps by The Washington Post has found more than two dozen voters — enough to swing the outcome of that race — cast ballots in the wrong district, because of errors by local elections officials. The misassigned voters lived in a predominantly African American precinct that heavily favored Democrats in the fall, raising the possibility that they would have delivered the district to Simonds had they voted in the proper race.”
HOT ON THE RIGHT
“Apple CEO Praises Left Wing Activists During Commencement Speech,” from the Daily Caller: “Apple CEO Tim Cook took time to praise left wing activists during his commencement speech at Duke University on Sunday, calling them ‘fearless.’ Cook began his speech by acknowledging that ‘our country is deeply divided and too many Americans refuse to hear any opinion that differs from their own,’ then went on to praise liberal activists in front of new Duke graduates. Cook, who graduated from Duke business school in 1988, said that students seeking gun control from Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland … are ‘fearless’ and that gun violence in the U.S. was an ‘epidemic.’ After cheering-on the gun-control and the #metoo movements, Cook commended ‘fearless’ immigrants and those ‘who fight for the rights of immigrants, who understand that our only hope for the future is one that embraces all who want to contribute.’”
Trump will receive his intelligence briefing and have lunch with Pence today. He has no other events on his public schedule.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“People decide about an article's validity based only on its headline or the language in the tweet linking to it. They judge books by their covers. … I urge you to read the story. I urge you to think for yourself. I urge you to click the link.” — CNN host Jake Tapper delivering the commencement address at University of Massachusetts Amherst
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- It will be muggy in D.C. today, with more storms possible later. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “We’ll have some areas of low clouds and fog early this morning, and we’ll need to watch out for a passing shower through midday. In the afternoon, it turns partly sunny, warm and humid (dew points in the upper 60s), with highs probably reaching into the 80s. By late in the day, some storms could erupt (at least a 50-50 chance), a few of which could be strong to severe.”
-- The Capitals defeated the Lightning 6-2. They now lead 2-0 in the Eastern Conference Finals. (Isabelle Khurshudyan, Samantha Pell, Scott Allen and Neil Greenberg)
-- The Nationals beat the Diamondbacks 6-4, completing a four-game sweep. (Chelsea Janes)
-- D.C. Circulator drivers are trying to convince the District to municipalize the bus system. The workers believe city control would provide them with better benefits and job stability. (Luz Lazo)
-- Percy Ronald Chess, a veteran who was found dead in the Tidal Basin in March, spent 20 years wandering the country, writes Peter Hermann. “Over the years, Chess’s relatives scoured the Internet, tracking his travels through his arrest record of mostly petty crimes of loitering, prowling, stealing and receiving stolen property. They found signs he’d been in Florida, Alabama, Washington, Tennessee. Mississippi, Georgia, Virginia. They think Chess hitchhiked and earned a few dollars fixing cars and broken machines — skills he learned as a child. They tried to find him, to help him, but they were never able to catch up. His story came to a sad end on March 31, when a tourist in a paddle boat found his body floating in the Tidal Basin near the Jefferson Memorial.”
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
SNL cast members welcomed their moms to the set for Mother's Day:
John Oliver described the “epic mismanagement” of Venezuela for his viewers:
The National Retail Federation recreated a scene from “Ferris Bueller's Day Off” to explain the downsides of tariffs:
North Korea detailed plans to destroy its nuclear test site:
And two expecting parents arranged for their baby's sex to be revealed by the Ferris wheel at the National Harbor: