With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve.
THE BIG IDEA: President Trump sometimes seems impervious to the second and third order consequences of his decisions.
Several recent developments have highlighted the unintended — though often foreseeable — consequences the president’s policies are having on his own supporters.
In many cases, he’s following through on campaign promises — like cutting the flow of immigrants, renegotiating trade deals and rolling back regulations put in place by Barack Obama. But in the deeply interconnected global economy, the devil is always in the details and the implementation of some policies may do more to hurt than help the people who put their faith in him to fix their problems.
Here are four examples:
-- Small business owners who voted for Trump might be forced to shut down because the president is making it harder for them to hire guest workers. Here’s a story that appeared over the weekend in the Herald Leader of Lexington, Ky.:
“Eddie Devine voted for [Trump] because he thought he would be good for American business. Now, he says, the Trump administration’s restrictions on seasonal foreign labor may put him out of business. ‘I feel like I’ve been tricked by the devil,’ said Devine, owner of … Devine Creations Landscaping. ‘I feel so stupid.’ Devine says it has been years since he could find enough dependable, drug-free American workers for his $12-an-hour jobs mowing and tending landscapes for cemeteries, shopping centers and apartment complexes across Central Kentucky. So for years he has hired 20 seasonal workers, mostly from Guatemala, through the U.S. Labor Department’s H2-B ‘guest worker’ program. Importing these workers for a few months cost him an additional $18,000 in fees and expenses beyond their wages, which must be the same as he pays American workers. But that’s the only way he could serve his customers.
“Restrictions on guest-worker visas, which began during President Barack Obama’s second term as immigration became a hot issue for conservatives, have gotten worse under Trump. And it’s even more of a problem now that the unemployment rate is the lowest it has been in years. Devine says he lost a $100,000 account because he didn’t have enough men to do the job. …
“He isn’t alone. Cuts in H-2B visas are hurting small businesses across the country that can’t find Americans willing to do hard, manual labor: Maryland crab processors, Texas shrimp fishermen, and Kentucky landscapers and construction companies. Devine said he believed Trump’s America-first promises. But cutting off a good supply of seasonal foreign labor when Americans won’t take those jobs is only hurting American business owners and the U.S. workers they employ, he said. These workers aren’t immigrants, and there is no path to U.S. citizenship. When their seasonal work is done, they return home. That’s why Devine thinks the Trump administration’s stifling of guest-worker programs has more to do with racism than economics. ‘I think there’s a war on brown people,’ he said.
“But what makes him most angry is that Trump’s properties in Florida and New York have used 144 H-2B workers since 2016. ‘I want to know why it’s OK for him to get his workers, but supporters like me don’t get theirs,’ Devine said.”
-- General Motors is cutting its second shift at the Lordstown Assembly plant outside of Youngtown, Ohio, next month. The move could cost 1,500 jobs at the 3,000-employee plant that builds the Chevrolet Cruze. This is in the heart of the Mahoning Valley, long a Democratic stronghold that broke toward Trump in 2016 because of his popularity with the kinds of blue-collar workers who are about to lose their jobs or reluctantly take buyouts.
GM says it’s downsizing because there is “lower customer demand for compact cars.” The plant already downsized last year, moving from three shifts to two, partly because consumers are buying more crossovers, SUVs and trucks at the expense of smaller vehicles.
Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), who represents the plant, blames reduced demand, and the pending layoffs, on Trump’s decision to scrap fuel efficiency standards — which the auto companies did not want. “While low gas prices paved the way for the decline of compact cars … Trump’s April announcement to weaken fuel economy standards put his thumb on the scale in favor of the larger cars and SUV’s made elsewhere, hurting our community specifically,” the congressman said in a statement last Friday. “The truth is, the fuel economy standards help sell more Chevy Cruzes.”
-- Ironically, gas prices might go up because Trump pulled out of the Iranian nuclear agreement last week. (Iran is the world’s fifth-biggest oil producer.)
-- The president’s decision to pull out of the Iran deal, and reimpose sanctions, will cost Boeing contracts worth as much as $20 billion to replenish Iran’s aging fleet of commercial planes. The Chicago-based aerospace giant downplayed the impact last week, noting that there’s already a backlog of orders for 737 aircraft so production won’t slow. But $20 billion in planes represents quite a lot of manufacturing work.
Those jobs will now go to other countries — specifically Russia. “Russian aircraft makers, who can skirt the U.S. sanctions, are already working on deals,” the Puget Sound Business Journal reports. “A Russian aircraft maker is exploring plans to make a modified version of its Sukhoi Superjet 100 regional airliner so Iranian airlines can buy the jet.”
-- The trade war with China is increasing uncertainty for farmers and may still lead to punishing retaliatory tariffs.
China buys 60 percent of all U.S. soybean exports, and growers of the crop could be pressed hard if the administration cannot cut a deal with Beijing. Soybean-producing counties went for Trump by a margin of more than 12 percent in 2016.
Dave Walton, who voted for Trump and tends soybeans, corn and livestock in eastern Iowa, is not sure his farm could take the added stress. “If this turns into a longer-term thing, we’re going to see friends and neighbors go out of business,” he told Caitlin Dewey last month. “If this stretches into years, we ourselves won’t be able to sustain it.”
Walton’s 800-acre farm, in his family for 118 years, has already been struggling to stay above water with falling crop prices, and tariffs could make profitability difficult. “Right now, soybean growers in Iowa and across the nation are encouraging the administration to engage positively with China,” he said. And if that doesn’t happen, he added: “Iowa leads the nation in many things. The presidential election is one of them.”
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- “St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner dropped her prosecution of Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R) in the face of the defense team’s plan to call her as a witness,” the Kansas City Star reports. “Yet Republican legislative leaders said later that evening that Gardner's decision would have no impact whatsoever on whether the Missouri General Assembly moves forward with impeachment, a process set to begin at 6:30 p.m. Friday. GOP leaders also renewed their call for Greitens to resign immediately. Gardner’s office asked the court to appoint a special prosecutor to refile the felony charge of invasion of privacy against the governor … Gardner's decision to drop the case came after more than 100 potential jurors had been interviewed for the trial that was set to begin this week. … Scott Rosenblum, a member of Greitens' team, said the judge's decision was based on the probability that Gardner had knowledge of perjury committed by a private investigator hired by her office.”
Greitens declared victory outside the courthouse: “This experience has been humbling, and I have emerged from it a changed man.”
But, but, but: House Speaker Todd Richardson (R) said his chamber’s investigation of the onetime GOP rising star, who had presidential ambitions until the scandal broke, has uncovered “additional concerns relating to the governor’s conduct.”
Even if he survives impeachment, the governor has mounting legal problems: “In addition to the invasion-of-privacy charge, Greitens also was indicted on felony computer tampering last month over allegations he illegally obtained and used a donor list belonging to a veterans charity to raise money for his 2016 campaign,” the Star reports. “In a related accusation, the attorney general's office thinks Greitens knowingly filed false campaign finance disclosure reports to the Missouri Ethics Commission, a Class A misdemeanor. A lawsuit in Cole County accuses the governor and his staff of using a self-destructing text message app to circumvent the state’s open records law. And Washington University and the John Templeton Foundation are investigating whether Greitens violated an agreement by allegedly using an academic grant to pay his political staff as he was planning his campaign for governor.”
GET SMART FAST:
- The Supreme Court struck down a federal law forbidding states from authorizing betting on college and professional sports. The decision is likely to trigger a scramble among states to legalize and tax sports betting — a billion-dollar business that some predict will change spectator sports. (Robert Barnes)
- SCOTUS also ruled a lawyer cannot disclose his client’s guilt without the defendant’s consent. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in the 6-to-3 decision that such a decision rests solely with the accused, even if admitting guilt would be a good legal strategy. The ruling will allow Robert L. McCoy, who was convicted of murdering three members of his estranged wife’s family, to receive a new trial. (Robert Barnes)
- Melania Trump underwent a medical procedure at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to treat a benign kidney condition. An aide to the first lady said her surgery — which was vaguely described as an “embolization procedure” — was successful, and she is expected to remain hospitalized for the rest of the week. (Jenna Johnson and Lenny Bernstein)
- The WHO said it will send an experimental Ebola vaccine to Congo, where a recent outbreak of the virus has killed 19 people and infected at least 39 others. Officials hope to prevent another massive outbreak like the one in West Africa, where 11,300 people were killed between 2014 and 2016. (Kristine Phillips)
- The Seattle City Council approved a massive tax increase to try tackling the city’s worsening homeless epidemic. Amazon and other companies opposed the initial proposal — $500 per employee at businesses making at least $20 million a year — forcing the city to accept a compromise tax of $275 on each employee. (Jonathan O'Connell and Gregory Scruggs)
Uber will move to end forced arbitration for passengers, drivers and employees who allege sexual harassment or assault. Critics say forcing accusers to sign confidentiality agreements to receive settlements promotes a culture of silence around sexual violence. (Danielle Paquette)
- Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) proposed reviving the state’s death penalty for mass murderers and people who kill police officers. Illinois is one of 19 states that ban the death penalty. (Mark Berman)
- Former Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is receiving treatment for pancreatic cancer and underwent surgery yesterday at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. A person close to the Nevada Democrat said doctors “caught the cancer early.” (Politico)
- Former congressman Blake Farenthold has landed a new gig as the legislative liaison to the Port of Port Lavaca. The Texas Republican resigned from Congress last month following revelations that he used taxpayer money to settle a sexual harassment case. His annual salary will be $160,000. (Corpus Christi Caller-Times)
- Margot Kidder, who played Lois Lane in the “Superman” movies, died at 69. She attracted media attention over the years for her struggles with bipolar disorder and later became an advocate for mental health awareness. (Adam Bernstein)
- Meghan Markle’s father may not attend her wedding. Thomas Markle was originally scheduled to walk his daughter down the aisle at St. George’s Chapel. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle asked for “understanding and respect to be extended to Mr. Markle in this difficult situation.” (Karla Adam)
WATCH WHAT THEY DO, NOT WHAT THEY SAY:
-- The White House and Scott Pruitt's EPA intervened to block the publication of a federal health study on a nationwide water-contamination crisis, after a White House official warned that its release would trigger a “public relations nightmare.” Politico’s Annie Snider reports on emails obtained under the Freedom of Information Act: “The intervention early this year — not previously disclosed — came as HHS' Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry was preparing to publish its assessment of a class of toxic chemicals that has contaminated water supplies near military bases, chemical plants and other sites from New York to Michigan to West Virginia. The study would show that the chemicals endanger human health at a far lower level than EPA has previously called safe ... ‘The public, media, and Congressional reaction to these numbers is going to be huge,’ [an unidentified White House] aide said in an email [to OMB's James Herz, who oversees environmental issues] ... The email added: ‘The impact to EPA and [the Defense Department] is going to be extremely painful.’ ... More than three months later, the draft study remains unpublished, and the HHS unit says it has no scheduled date to release it for public comment.”
-- Meanwhile, the White House recently canceled a NASA program aimed at monitoring levels of carbon dioxide and methane. (Science)
THE NEW WORLD ORDER:
-- Israeli forces killed 59 Palestinians and injured at least 2,700 others during yesterday's protests along the Gaza border as the new U.S. Embassy opened in Jerusalem. The violence marked the territory's bloodiest day since the Israel-Gaza conflict in 2014. Loveday Morris and Hazem Balousha report: “Tens of thousands of Palestinians had gathered on the edges of the fenced off blockaded territory from midmorning. Many came to peacefully demonstrate, bringing their children, carrying flags. Food stalls sold snacks and music blared. But the protests appeared to have a more violent edge … At [one gathering point], organizers urged protesters over loudspeakers to burst through the fence, telling them Israeli soldiers were fleeing their positions, even as they were reinforcing them. Israeli snipers were determined not to allow a breach, and ambulances soon began screaming back and forth from the fence, as gunshots rang out over the crowd. No Israeli soldiers were injured, though, and Israel drew widespread condemnation for an excessive use of force.”
-- The Trump administration refused to admonish Israel and sought to blame Hamas solely for the violence. John Hudson reports: “'The responsibility for these tragic deaths rests squarely with Hamas,' [deputy White House press secretary Raj Shah said]. 'Israel has the right to defend itself.' During the White House briefing, a reporter noted that Israeli snipers have killed people who were throwing rocks 50 meters from the wall. Shah responded by saying, ‘Again, we believe that Hamas is responsible for this.’ Later Monday at the State Department, [Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo was asked about the violence. The top diplomat turned his back and walked away.” But Monday's violence drew swift condemnation from the United Nations and Human Rights Watch, which described the killings as a “bloodbath.”
-- As tear gas and live ammunition rained down on Gaza protesters, a very different scene was unfolding in Jerusalem — where members of a high-level presidential delegation, including Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, gathered to celebrate the opening of embassy. Ruth Eglash reports: “Amid the happy bustle of about 800 guests, as [Kushner] spoke, the controversial evangelical pastor Robert Jeffress blessed the occasion … there was little indication of what was unfolding [in Gaza]. In his video address Monday, Trump said that he was still hopeful for peace between Israelis and Palestinians, despite almost universal criticism of the embassy move from some of the United States’s closest allies in Europe, from Arab nations and from the Palestinians.”
-- Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced his country will recall its ambassadors to the United States and Israel in protest of the embassy relocation, saying the move proves the United States prefers “to become part of the problem rather than the solution.” “With this last step … the United States has lost its role as mediator in the Middle East peace process,” Erdogan said. South Africa also plans to pull its envoys from Israel. (CNN)
-- This story should be getting a lot more attention: The surprisingly strong performance of a ticket backed by Moqtada al-Sadr in the Iraqi elections will rattle U.S. relations with the country. Tamer El-Ghobashy and Mustafa Salim report from Baghdad: “Sadr is a ferocious critic of American policies in the Middle East, and his unexpected electoral haul immediately calls into question the continuing presence of U.S. troops in Iraq. ... Sadr’s ticket won the most seats in Iraq’s parliamentary election, according to results from all 18 provinces released Monday, placing him in the best position to select the country’s next prime minister and set the course for how the nation emerges from a costly war against the Islamic State. His ascendancy comes at the expense of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, the preferred candidate of the United States, who came in third.”
How he's rebranded himself: “The Shiite cleric first gained international notice as a young militia leader who fought U.S. troops after the 2003 invasion of Iraq. But Sadr has grown increasingly pragmatic over the years and formed a cross-sectarian electoral alliance emphasizing Iraqi nationalism over loyalty to Iranian clerics and American military and political backing.” He's presented himself as a technocrat.
How he won: Sadr's base was ginned up in an election that saw very low turnout. He campaigned as a change agent promising to fight corruption and reform the patronage system. This helped his ticket fare better than expected in some provinces.
A silver lining: The Iranians also distrust this guy. They see him as too independent, and he’s pushed back when Tehran tried to dictate the agenda for Shiite politicians. And his spokesman sounded a conciliatory tone toward Washington yesterday: An aide said Sadr supports honoring commitments between Iraq and the United States concerning the training of Iraq’s security forces and weapons purchases as long as they serve Iraq’s interests and there “is no interference on the sovereignty of Iraq.”
-- America’s three closest European allies — Britain, France and Germany — are still fuming over Trump’s decision to exit the Iran deal, which has triggered a frenzy of meetings and phone calls between leaders as they weigh how — or if — to respond. Karen DeYoung reports: “The Europeans have not yet decided how far they are willing to go in antagonizing Trump. On Wednesday, government heads of all 28 E.U. countries will gather in Sofia, Bulgaria, where they will talk about the Iran agreement and their separate beef with the United States over looming steel and aluminum tariffs. But they are hesitant to deepen the wound, even as they want the United States to take responsibility for healing it. ‘It’s vital that we continue to engage with the USA and continue to interrogate our friends in Washington,’ [Boris] Johnson said, to find out how the administration intends to achieve what Trump says he wants — a new deal with Iran[.] So far, the officials say, they have no idea how the administration plans to accomplish that. ‘We haven’t heard anything that is close to a strategy,’ said one of several European officials.”
-- Trump’s tweet about Chinese telecoms giant ZTE threw trade negotiations between U.S. and Chinese officials into chaos. Damian Paletta, David J. Lynch and Josh Dawsey report: “[Chinese Vice Premier Liu He] and other Chinese officials have demanded that the Commerce Department ease restrictions on ZTE, but until Trump’s Sunday tweet, the administration had resisted. … After Trump’s Sunday tweet, White House officials spent much of the next 24 hours attempting to walk back his statement, saying ZTE’s fate would ultimately be left up to a review by [Commerce Secretary Wilbur] Ross. And Monday afternoon, Ross insisted in a speech at the National Press Club that ZTE would not be a factor in the trade talks, saying, ‘Our position has been that that’s an enforcement action separate from trade.’ Just three hours later, Trump tweeted again, contradicting Ross’s statement that the issues would be kept apart.”
-- Amid the chaos, infighting and converging investigations that have roiled Trump’s White House, Mike Pence has quietly moved to expand his influence within the GOP — even when his own political agenda doesn’t align with his boss. The New York Times’s Alexander Burns, Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman report: “Even as he laces his public remarks with praise for the president, Mr. Pence and [chief of staff Nick Ayers] are unsettling a group of Mr. Trump’s fierce loyalists who fear they are forging a separate power base. … In addition to addressing dozens of party events in recent months, Mr. Pence has effectively made himself the frontman for America First Policies, an outside group set up to back Mr. Trump’s agenda. And Mr. Pence has worked insistently to shape Mr. Trump’s endorsements, prodding him in the contests for governor of Florida and speaker of the House, among others. For now, Mr. Pence and his aides have found a yawning opening within the West Wing, as Mr. Trump’s principal political aides spend much of their time managing his impulses … instead of overseeing the party[.]”
-- During a meeting in which Trump told Brad Parscale that he would manage his 2020 reelection bid, the Times reports that Pence “stood behind Mr. Parscale, rubbing his shoulders, as Mr. Trump spoke.” (New York Magazine compiled a list of 17 times Pence praised Trump’s shoulders on the campaign trail.)
-- But Trump has repeatedly sought to undercut Pence’s influence — sometimes by attending the same events. Politico’s Matthew Nussbaum reports: “Trump wasn’t planning to attend the recent National Rifle Association convention — that is, until he learned that [Pence] would be giving the keynote address. That led to a change of plans in the West Wing, according to two people familiar with the arrangement, and nearly a week after the NRA announced Pence would speak, the president was added to the schedule to speak moments after Pence. … And Trump is elbowing Pence out in other, smaller, ways: on Tuesday, the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List announced Trump would be headlining its annual Washington gala this year, after Pence gave the keynote address last year. … [And] on Tuesday, Trump’s first campaign manager and frequent adviser Corey Lewandowski announced he’ll be joining Pence’s own political action committee, Great America.”
-- In another illustration of how the politics of immigration have changed on the right, Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) — who is running for Jeff Flake’s open Senate seat — has dropped her support for immigration legislation that offers “dreamers” a pathway to citizenship. McSally is instead backing a less-generous alternative that calls for a sharp reduction in legal immigration, sponsored by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.). McSally’s political shift is part of an effort to fend off a primary challenge from Joe Arpaio, the anti-immigrant county sheriff who Trump pardoned last year after he was held in contempt of court for ignoring a judge's order to stop racially profiling Hispanics. (Arizona Republic)
-- Today is the Pennsylvania primary. “Pennsylvania was [Trump’s] proudest conquest in 2016, a state no Republican had won in a presidential election for nearly three decades and a victory he is still talking about,” David Weigel reports. “But in both suburbs and rural areas this year, Democrats are mounting a comeback with implications not only for November’s midterm elections, but the 2020 presidential race — just as soon as they settle Tuesday’s messy primaries. The contests, the first based on a congressional map drawn by the state’s Supreme Court, are a collection of rowdy ideological battles between Democrats running on universal Medicare, a $15 minimum wage, and whether to make college free or just cheaper. Democrats see the state as the launchpad for their party’s comeback. Few states in this cycle offer so many additional pickup opportunities. For Democrats, that means competitive primaries all over the state.”
-- Former congressman Tim Murphy (R-Penn.) has been working to sink the primary bid of Rick Saccone, who lost a separate congressional bid to Rep. Conor Lamb (D) in March. From Politico’s Rachael Bade: “[Saccone] is now running for the GOP nomination in a newly drawn, heavily Republican district that includes much of Murphy’s old turf. The fight has gotten personal: Murphy has directed hundreds of thousands of dollars from his old campaign account to an outside group supporting Saccone’s GOP primary opponent, state Sen. Guy Reschenthaler. Murphy also sent around a cropped video clip of Saccone that he believed would damage him. At one point, Murphy accidentally forwarded that link to Saccone while trying to send it to someone else. The inadvertent exchange about opioids triggered a nasty back-and-forth that ended with Murphy calling Saccone ‘heartless,’ while Saccone argued that his comments were taken out of context.”
-- Rep. Al Green (D-Tex.) accused Nancy Pelosi of “trivializing” the issue of Trump’s impeachment, which the House minority leader has described as a “gift” to Republicans for the midterms. “President [Trump] can be impeached, and should be impeached, for his hateful, hurtful and bigoted policies,” Green said ... “Trivializing his bigotry also allows Trump supporters to hypothesize that while Trump may be an objectionable jerk, he is not an impeachable bigot, which is not true.” (David Weigel)
-- Michael Scherer and Kevin Uhrmacher made a graphic on what influential Democrats have said about running for president in 2020.
THERE'S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:
-- Andrii Artemenko, a Ukrainian politician who communicated with Trump associates regarding a controversial peace plan between the Kremlin and Ukranian rebels, has been called to testify before Robert Mueller’s grand jury. Politico’s David Stern and Josh Meyer report: “[Artemenko] said he assumed he would be asked about the peace plan, about which he communicated with Michael Cohen … in early 2017. [The Times] reported in February 2017 that Artemenko had contacted Felix Sater … to find out how he could make his plan for peace in Ukraine known to the Trump administration. Sater introduced Artemenko to Cohen, who left the plan in the office of [Michael Flynn]. … Artemenko’s testimony could help Mueller’s team fill in the gaps on the peace plan, which he has been investigating in part because of the roles of Cohen and Sater, who also worked together to try and launch a Trump-branded development in Moscow … The plan may also be of interest to Mueller because it reportedly was hatched shortly after Flynn discussed dropping sanctions against Russia in a call with the Russian ambassador …”
-- Michael Avenatti’s take-no-prisoners media strategy could imperil his ability to represent Stormy Daniels. Emma Brown and Beth Reinhard report: “Scrutiny of his business record and of his motives has provided grist for distracting headlines in recent days. And his publication last week of Cohen’s banking history — hard-to-get information touching on some of the most sensitive issues before the White House — could jeopardize his ability to represent Daniels in court, some experts say. ‘Nothing he has been doing in the last four to six weeks with his multiple television appearances advances the interests of his client in the California action,’ said Stephen Gillers, a New York University law professor who specializes in ethics. ‘He’s catapulted himself to be the story. There are dangers when a lawyer becomes so publicly vocal.’”
-- Mueller’s team argued a federal judge should reject Paul Manafort's request for a hearing over an alleged “campaign” of negative leaks by government officials. Spencer S. Hsu reports: “Prosecutors said the sampling of press reports cited by (the former Trump campaign chairman) failed to include any sensitive matters before a grand jury specific to his case — disclosure of which would violate federal criminal rules to prevent biasing potential jurors — but instead simply revealed information about a law enforcement investigation. … [Prosecutor Andrew Weissmann] added that Manafort’s ‘speculative claim’ fell far short of warranting a hearing or risking derailing the case.”
-- Worth the read: “The Untold Story of Robert Mueller's Time in Combat,” by Wired’s Garrett M. Graff: “Before he became special counsel, Mueller freely and repeatedly told me that his habits of mind and character were most shaped by his time in Vietnam, a period that is also the least explored chapter of his biography. This first in-depth account of his year at war is based on multiple interviews with Mueller about his time in combat — conducted before he became special counsel — as well as hundreds of pages of once-classified Marine combat records, official accounts of Marine engagements, and the first-ever interviews with eight Marines who served alongside Mueller in 1968 and 1969. They provide the best new window we have into the mind of the man leading the Russia investigation.”
PERSONNEL IS POLICY:
-- A classified memo on Gina Haspel’s role in the post-9/11 enhanced interrogation program has left some senators disturbed. NBC News’s Ken Dilanian reports: “The document, which has been made available to senators and cleared aides, [cites] cable traffic and internal CIA messages that were not discussed in her public confirmation hearing. The sources, some of whom support Haspel and some of whom do not, say the document describes comments by Haspel in support of the CIA's brutal interrogation program at the time it was ongoing. But they said there was nothing explosive that would change the dynamic of her confirmation chances, which appear to be strong.”
-- The EPA’s inspector general said Pruitt began receiving round-the-clock security from his first day as EPA chief, which came at the behest of former Washington state senator and Trump political appointee Don Benton. Brady Dennis and Juliet Eilperin report: “In a Feb. 12, 2017, email to several EPA security officials, Benton framed the decision as a precautionary measure given the controversy sure to ensue from some of the president’s early policy decisions. ‘I have requested 24-7 protection for the new administrator for the first week at least and then evaluate from there,’ Benton wrote. EPA officials discussed the increased costs and strain on the agency’s criminal-investigations division that would stem from such a move. The acting special agent in charge, Eric Weese, wrote colleagues that nonstop protection would entail doubling the number of agents on Pruitt’s security detail to 16. … The inspector general’s office, which investigates threats made against any EPA employee, 'played no role in this decision,' [Inspector General Arthur Elkins] added."
-- A $1 million contribution to Trump’s inaugural committee appears to have come from a group of conservative legal activists who have been in the driver's seat in picking Trump's judicial nominees. Robert Maguire reports for McClatchy: “The $1 million inaugural gift came from a Northern Virginia company called BH Group, LLC. Unlike other generous corporate inaugural donors ... BH Group was a cipher, and likely was set up solely to prevent disclosure of the actual donor's name. … While the source of the money used to make the gift was masked from the public, a trail of clues puts the contribution at the doorstep of some of the same actors — most notably Leonard Leo, an executive vice president at the conservative Federalist Society — who have helped promote Trump’s mission, and that of his White House counsel, Don McGahn, to fill judicial vacancies as quickly as he can with staunchly conservative, preferably young jurists.”
-- The White House once again declined to apologize for press aide Kelly Sadler’s nasty remark about Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). “I understand the focus on this issue, but it's going to be dealt with, and has been dealt with, internally,” deputy White House press secretary Raj Shah said. “I was told Kelly Sadler called the McCain family late last week and did apologize. Beyond that, I don't have any further comment.” (Callum Borchers)
-- McCain’s Republican colleagues are publicly pushing for a White House apology. Politico’s Burgess Everett and Eliana Johnson report: “‘Just out of common decency they should apologize. And the person who said it should apologize. It’s wrong,’ said Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) .... ‘Everything happens for a reason. And sometimes the reason is you’re stupid and made a bad decision,’ said Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.). ‘She ought to apologize publicly. If it were my administration, and it’s not, I would also apologize on behalf of the administration.’”
-- Mitch McConnell visited McCain in Arizona over the weekend. “John and Cindy and I had a chance to sit on their back porch and reminisce,” the Senate majority leader said in a floor speech. “He still had plenty to say about work, I assure you. He misses his colleagues. He’d rather be here. And I told him we miss him, too. All of the jokes, the smart-alecky comments — he’s a joy to be around.” (David Weigel)
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
The president tweeted this morning that the first lady will leave the hospital in two or three days:
Our great First Lady is doing really well. Will be leaving hospital in 2 or 3 days. Thank you for so much love and support!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 15, 2018
Lots of talk about the violence in Gaza following the U.S. Embassy move. From the former CIA director:
Deaths in Gaza result of utter disregard of Messers Trump & Netanyahu for Palestinian rights & homeland. By moving Embassy to Jerusalem, Trump played politics, destroyed US peacemaker role. New generation of Israelis/Palestinians need to isolate extremists to find path to peace.— John O. Brennan (@JohnBrennan) May 14, 2018
Anti-immigration commentator Ann Coulter reacted to the Israeli use of weapons at the border:
From an MSNBC host:
Is it the official position of the Israeli and US governments that lethal force is justified for unarmed protesters who approach a border fence with intent to climb it?— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) May 14, 2018
The president’s daughter and senior adviser was present for the dedication:
Today we dedicated the new #USEmbassyJerusalem, a longtime promise to the American & Israeli people. As Jared shared today “While many Presidents before him have backed down from their pledge... this President delivered. Because when President Trump makes a promise, he keeps it.” pic.twitter.com/4iNdozAiRF— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) May 14, 2018
A group of Republican senators joined Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner in Jerusalem:
Moments away from making it official. 🇺🇸🇮🇱 pic.twitter.com/OlrctQ6yEE— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) May 14, 2018
From a Post columnist:
On the new U.S. embassy plaque, "Donald J. Trump" is in a larger font size than "Jerusalem, Israel" pic.twitter.com/OIkW2NJF9x— Josh Rogin (@joshrogin) May 15, 2018
A former Trump campaign aide criticized Corey Lewandowski's hiring to Pence's political team:
Very disappointed that @VP would announce that he hired the psychopath Lewandowski on the same day the US Israeli Embassy is opening in Jerusalem. Sad!— Sam Nunberg (@NunbergSam) May 14, 2018
Trump claimed the media exaggerates about leakers and then went on to denounce leakers:
The so-called leaks coming out of the White House are a massive over exaggeration put out by the Fake News Media in order to make us look as bad as possible. With that being said, leakers are traitors and cowards, and we will find out who they are!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 14, 2018
A former U.S. attorney who Trump fired replied to his tweet:
From an Axios reporter:
Talking to a prolific leaker right now. I asked him why he leaks. His response: “It’s like playing with matches.”— Jonathan Swan (@jonathanvswan) May 15, 2018
A Republican senator posed this question over Twitter earlier in the day:
Since the WH leaks like a sieve will 1 of the leakers tell me Does @POTUS do his own tweeting? Or does someone help him? Or does he dictate into the microphone? He’s much more prolific than I am— ChuckGrassley (@ChuckGrassley) May 14, 2018
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) questioned the president's logic on the Chinese telecom company ZTE:
Problem with ZTE isn’t jobs & trade, it’s national security & espionage. Any telecomm firm in #China can be forced to act as tool of Chinese espionage without any court order or any other review process. We are crazy to allow them to operate in U.S. without tighter restrictions https://t.co/AXtTDgufc9— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) May 14, 2018
Democratic senators warned about the imminent end of net neutrality rules:
A Fox News host denounced Mueller's investigation:
This week marks the 1 yr anniv of the Mueller probe. Costing millions & our political system has been brought to a virtual standstill. The public is recognizing the investigation for what it is: A political witch hunt created by an elite cabal frantic to keep its hold on power.— Tucker Carlson (@TuckerCarlson) May 15, 2018
The CEO of Tesla took issue with The Post's coverage of Tesla:
It’s super messed up that a Tesla crash resulting in a broken ankle is front page news and the ~40,000 people who died in US auto accidents alone in past year get almost no coverage https://t.co/6gD8MzD6VU— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 14, 2018
A Politico reporter mocked Blake Farenthold's new high-paying job:
hey kids, you too can grow up and sexually harass women, skip out on promised repayments to the government and quit in the middle of your term and still land a job: https://t.co/WhY00pBCP9— Edward-Isaac Dovere (@IsaacDovere) May 14, 2018
An anti-Trump GOP strategist wished the first lady and Harry Reid well:
I just lost a close friend to pancreatic cancer, a cruel disease. I’m rooting for Harry Reid and wish him & his family the best.— Ana Navarro (@ananavarro) May 14, 2018
I also hope for a speedy and full recovery for Melania Trump.
Because you see, we dont have to support somebody or agree politically, to feel empathy.
And John McCain sent his prayers to Reid as well:
From one cantankerous senator to another, sending my prayers & best wishes to @SenatorReid as he recovers from a successful surgery— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) May 14, 2018
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
-- The Atlantic, “How China's Tech Revolution Threatens Silicon Valley,” by Alec Ash: “China’s booming start-up scene has become as much a feature of its top-tier cities as traffic and smog. It used to be that college graduates applied for jobs at banks or state-owned enterprises, the proverbial ‘iron rice bowl’ that their parents sought for them after the chaos of the Cultural Revolution. … Now, with public and private funding flowing into Chinese start-ups, entrepreneurship has become an appealing alternative for a generation disillusioned with the conveyor-belt career paths of their forebears. Within the next decade, China wants to be the world leader in robotics, artificial intelligence, and clean-energy cars … [And] President Xi Jinping’s consolidation of power … means that policy can reshape economy through a level of top-down control that democracies cannot emulate.”
-- New York Times, “Medical Mystery: Something Happened to U.S. Health Spending After 1980,” by Austin Frakt: “America was in the realm of other countries in per-capita health spending through about 1980. Then it diverged. It’s the same story with health spending as a fraction of gross domestic product. Likewise, life expectancy. In 1980, the U.S. was right in the middle of the pack of peer nations in life expectancy at birth. But by the mid-2000s, we were at the bottom of the pack.”
HOT ON THE LEFT:
“Younger Republicans Are Slightly More Liberal on Climate Change,” from The Atlantic: “The newest version of the Pew Research Center’s annual environmental poll covers a lot of familiar ground. [But one bit of] intriguing news comes from the poll’s dive into generational attitudes in the Republican party. Millennial Republicans are more likely to endorse centrist environmental positions than their Boomer or Gen X co-partisans, the study found. More than a third of Millennial Republicans agree that the ‘Earth is warming mostly due to human activity,’ as compared to 18 percent of Boomers and older generations. Almost 60 percent of young Republicans say that climate change is having ‘at least some effect on the United States’ ... [And] nearly half of millennial Republicans say the government is doing too little to ‘reduce effects of climate change,’ as compared to 27 percent of Boomer Republicans … This might seem like a promising sign for the environmentally concerned.”
HOT ON THE RIGHT:
“A California Democrat Wants to Make International Workers’ Day a Paid Holiday,” from the Washington Free Beacon: “The California State Assembly debated legislation Thursday introduced by Democratic Assemblyman Miguel Santigo that would make ‘International Workers' Day,’ a holiday with Socialist and Communist roots, a paid state holiday. If signed into law, the legislation would make California the first state in the nation to require schools shut their doors in observance of International Workers' Day. While the measure was being debated, Republican Assemblyman Matthew Harper took to the floor to denounce the legislation.” "This is ridiculous; this is insane; this is un-American. And for folks who think that the U.S. won the Cold War with the Soviet Union, this makes it sound like we’re going in the other direction — that indeed California is kowtowing to the Soviet domination of the Cold War," Harper said.
Trump will be on Capitol Hill today to give a speech at the National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service and attend a Senate Republican policy lunch.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“We seldom engage with Fox News … [and] I encourage my audience to not watch Fox News. I don't think you should put yourself through that.” — Trevor Noah on why “The Daily Show” focuses less on attacking the network than it did under his predecessor, Jon Stewart. (The Hollywood Reporter)
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- Another hot and humid day in D.C. with storms possible later on. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Mostly sunny skies today with hotter weather as temperatures crank up to the upper 80s and low 90s along with moderate humidity. Scattered storms pop up later in the afternoon into the evening, and some of them could be severe with hail and gusty winds.”
-- Health-care advocates staged a “die-in” at Richmond’s Capitol Square to agitate for a Medicaid expansion. From Laura Vozzella: “The Senate gathered to assign the House’s two-year, $115 billion spending plan to the Senate Finance Committee, which met immediately afterward but did not vote. The panel is expected to vote on the bill at a meeting Tuesday or Wednesday.” The House’s plan approved the expansion, while Senate has opposed it.
-- CVS announced it would continue selling SmarTrip cards. The retailer had said it would discontinue the service amid disputes with Metro over faulty SmarTrip equipment. (Luz Lazo)
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Seth Meyers said the phrase “drain the swamp” has lost all meaning amid the White House's ethics controversies:
Trevor Noah dove into John Kelly’s remarks on immigration:
The D.C. region was hit with torrential rain and damaging wind:
Actress Emma Thompson does not want to talk about the royal wedding:
And a caged tiger joined a high school prom in Miami: