With Joanie Greve and Mariana Alfaro

THE BIG IDEA: The resurgence of measles across the United States is generating growing bipartisan alarm on Capitol Hill, where the Senate is holding a hearing today about how the government can better combat anti-vaccination conspiracy theories that are putting lives at risk.

It’s an especially important topic for Sen. Patty Murray, the top Democrat on the health committee. Her home state of Washington has had 71 confirmed cases of measles since the start of the year. “Diseases aren’t stopped by borders, or walls or bans,” she said in her opening statement. “They are stopped by doctors and nurses — by vaccines and public health awareness.”

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the chairman of the committee, also stressed the importance of aggressively promoting vaccinations. “There is a lot of misleading and incorrect information about vaccines that circulates online, including through social media,” he said in his opening statement. “Here is what I want parents … to know: Vaccines are approved by the FDA and meet the FDA’s gold standard of safety. … Vaccines save lives — the lives of those who receive vaccines and the lives of those who are too young or vulnerable to be immunized.”

-- During the first two months of 2019, the CDC confirmed 206 individual cases of measles across 11 states. There are six active outbreaks, defined as a cluster of three or more incidents. There have also been confirmed cases this year in California, Oregon, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, New Jersey, New York and Texas.

-- Late winter and early spring are prime time for transmission, so public health experts are on edge about the possibility of a major national outbreak in the coming weeks.

-- Until the vaccine was introduced in 1963, measles used to kill an estimated 400 to 500 Americans a year, many of them young kids, and sent thousands more to the hospital. In 2000, measles was technically eliminated in the United States. But now it’s back with a vengeance because so many parents have stopped vaccinating their children. Murray lamented that, because the vaccine has been around for 56 years, “a generation of new parents may not appreciate just how dangerous measles is.”

-- The percentage of American children under 2 years old who haven’t received any vaccinations has quadrupled in the past 17 years, according to federal health data.

-- All but one of the 71 cases in Washington state so far in 2019 have come from Clark County, which is just across the Columbia River from Portland, Ore. Nearly a quarter of the kids in the county, the epicenter of the anti-vaccine movement, go to school without immunizations. “Experts say in order to establish herd immunity against measles—in order to prevent an outbreak from occurring within a community—at least 95 percent of people should be vaccinated,” Murray notes. “Each case isn’t just a concern for family members worried about their loved ones who are sick. It’s a threat to neighbors and communities.”

Murray was a preschool teacher and taught a parenting class at Shoreline Community College in the 1980s before she ran for school board and state Senate. She got elected to the U.S. Senate in 1992, the original Year of the Woman, by running as a “mom in tennis shoes.” Now she’s No. 3 in Democratic leadership. “They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That’s certainly the case here,” Murray said. “A dose of MMR vaccine, covering measles, mumps, and rubella, is about $20. Meanwhile, Washington state has already spent over $1 million addressing the current measles outbreak.”

-- The House Energy and Commerce Committee held its own hearing last Wednesday to discuss the national response to the measles threat, but it was entirely overshadowed by Michael Cohen’s simultaneous appearance before the Oversight Committee. In contrast to the contentiousness of Cohen’s appearance, there was bipartisan agreement. “These outbreaks are tragic since they’re completely avoidable,” said Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.). “This is a public health problem for which science has already provided a solution,” added Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.).

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, testified that the spike in cases is “really unacceptable” because it’s so preventable. He bemoaned the difficulty of combating disinformation once it gets on the Internet. “The people who read that information may not know it’s false,” he said, according to the AP. “They may be well-meaning, but the spread of false information is a major problem.”

-- A focus of today’s Senate hearing is promoting strategies for the government to improve confidence among well-intentioned parents who have been duped by all this disinformation. The committee heard testimony from an Emory University epidemiologist, a University of Tennessee pediatrician and the Immune Deficiency Foundation’s president. But the star witness is likely to be a high school student from Norwalk, Ohio.

Ethan Lindenberger lived for years without his proper immunizations because his mother believes in vaccine conspiracies. But the teenager consulted research from the CDC and, after he turned 18 and legally became an adult, decided to get himself vaccinated in December. His mother, Jill Wheeler, told Undark, the science magazine that first reported on the story, that her son’s decision was “like him spitting on me, saying ‘You don’t know anything, I don’t trust you with anything.’”

Some boys buy cigarettes, guns and/or adult magazines to celebrate turning 18. Lindenberger got his vaccinations. After going viral for all the right reasons, he’s quickly emerged as an important voice in the movement to raise awareness. He wanted to testify about his four younger siblings. His mother has indicated she will not allow his 16-year-old brother to be immunized, although he wants to be, Lindenberger told my colleague Alex Horton in an interview. He also has a 2-year-old sister. “It breaks my heart that she could get measles and she’d be done,” Lindenberger said.

-- His home state of Ohio is one of 17 states that allow parents to opt out of vaccines for “philosophical” or moral reasons:

-- Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D), who launched his presidential campaign last Friday, declared a state of emergency in January to contain the measles outbreak. He’s pushing his legislature to change the law so parents can no longer opt out of vaccinations for personal or philosophical reasons. Inslee said it’s been “really painful” to see his state in the national news because of the outbreak.

Inslee's health secretary, John Wiesman, appeared at the hearing to call on the federal government to launch a national campaign to counter anti-vaccine groups spreading false information. He told Lena Sun in an interview that a national campaign similar to the U.S. government campaign against smoking is what’s needed to help parents understand the importance of immunizations to prevent not just measles but a variety of childhood diseases. “We don’t have anything to counter the media of a very well-organized and connected group of a small number of folks who are having a huge impact,” he said. “We’re really lacking that.”

-- As politicians debate, there is a pervasive climate of fear among parents in the Evergreen State. “Amber Gorrow is afraid to leave her house with her infant son because she lives at the epicenter,” Sun and Maureen O'Hagan reported last month from Vancouver, Wash. “Born eight weeks ago, Leon is too young to get his first measles shot, putting him at risk for the highly contagious respiratory virus … Gorrow lives in a community where she said being anti-vaccine is as acceptable as being vegan or going gluten free. … The outbreak has changed nearly every aspect of her life, which is now laser-focused on avoiding contact with children who may carry measles germs. … She canceled a family outing to a children’s museum, regular trips to the library, the weekly Costco run and play dates for her daughter. ‘I hate to say it but I’m even nervous about having people over — especially people who have small children and I’m not sure where they stand’ on vaccinations, said Gorrow, 29, who had her older child vaccinated.”

-- For the first time ever, the World Health Organization listed “vaccine hesitancy” as one of the top 10 global threats in 2019. “Nearly 1,000 people, mostly children, have died of the illness in Madagascar this year,” Sun reports. “In Europe, measles cases are at a 20-year high, with 60,000 cases and 72 deaths. A quarter of those are in Italy, where anti-vaccine groups allied with populist politicians won passage last year of a law to end compulsory vaccines — a law repealed a short time later because of soaring measles cases.”

“Doctors in the Philippine capital are battling an acute measles crisis, with more than 4,000 cases and 70 deaths so far, that has been blamed in part on an unwillingness to immunize babies after a scare surrounding a separate vaccination program last year,” Regine Cabato and Shibani Mahtani reported recently from Manila.

-- “The latest evidence unequivocally denying any link between autism and the vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella — a two-dose course that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says is 97 percent effective — came Monday in a paper published in the Annals of Internal Medicine,” Isaac Stanley-Becker reports this morning. “Researchers at Copenhagen’s Statens Serum Institut examined data for Danish children born from 1999 through the end of 2010, more than half a million people all together. The epidemiologists and statisticians then used population registries to link information on vaccination status to autism diagnoses, as well as to sibling history of autism and other risk factors. The findings show that the vaccine does not increase the risk of autism, lending new statistical certainty to what was already medical consensus. The researchers further concluded that vaccination is not likely to trigger the developmental disorder in susceptible populations and is not associated with a clustering of cases appearing after immunization.”

-- Still, the conspiracy theories emanate from the fever swamps of the far left and the far right.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. went to Olympia, Wash., last month to attend a public hearing and rally opposing Inslee’s efforts to tighten vaccine exemptions.

Texas state Rep. Bill Zedler (R), pushing legislation to allow parents to more easily opt out of vaccinations for their children, falsely suggested last week that antibiotics can be used to treat measles. (It’s a virus!)

Arizona state Rep. Kelly Townsend (R) said mandating measles shots is “Communist” last Thursday as she tried to rally opposition to an effort supported by the GOP governor to increase vaccinations. “The idea that we force someone to give up their liberty for the sake of the collective is not based on American values but rather, Communist,” Townsend wrote on Facebook.

Darla Shine, the wife of White House communications director and former Fox News executive Bill Shine, has routinely peddled anti-vaccine messaging on her Twitter account. She made the completely erroneous claim last month that illnesses such as measles, mumps and chickenpox “keep you healthy & fight cancer.” The White House declined to comment on the tweets, per Lindsey Bever.

-- Some technology companies are taking drastic steps to contain the flow of misinformation. Pinterest announced the week before last, for instance, that it is blocking all search results related to vaccinations, whether the results are medically accurate or not, as executives try to come up with a more reliable solution.

Others have dragged their feet. Under pressure from lawmakers in both parties, Facebook — which has been a haven for anti-vaxxers — said three weeks ago that it’s looking at removing misleading or harmful content about vaccinations.

-- The Russians are also a threat vector, and they’ve been making matters worse for policymakers and health professionals. Experts have identified Russian troll farms seeking to sow division inside the United States by tweeting pro- and anti-vaccine messages. Russian bots that spread malicious software have used anti-vaccine messages to attract clicks, according to cybersecurity researchers. “Apparently only the elite get ‘clean’ #vaccines. And what do we, normal ppl, get?! #VaccinateUS,” a Russian troll account tweeted last year in a message that sought to link vaccine fearmongering and income inequality.

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WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

-- A London man has been in remission from HIV for a year and a half, without drugs, after receiving a stem cell transplant of virus-resistant cells — raising the prospect that he has become the second person to be cured of the disease,” Carolyn Johnson reports. “The London patient’s case, cautiously reported in the journal Nature as still too 'premature' to be declared a cure, comes a decade after Timothy Brown, known in medical circles as the 'Berlin patient' was cured by a similar stem cell transplant, galvanizing the field of HIV research and sparking the search for a cure. The London patient, infected with HIV and suffering from Hodgkin’s lymphoma, received bone marrow cells from a donor who had a malfunctioning CCR5 gene as part of his cancer treatment. The gene is known to create a protein that is crucial for HIV to invade blood cells.

-- Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) said he will not run for president, opting instead to run for reelection to his Senate seat. Sean Sullivan reports: “‘I’ve got this limited number of years of life on this planet — how can I have the biggest impact?’ Merkley said in an interview. ‘That’s what I’ve been weighing. And I’ve reached the conclusion that the biggest impact I can have is here in the Senate.’ … Merkley, who is one of the Senate’s most liberal members, identified three ‘mega crises’ he wants to help address: a ‘crisis of our democracy,’ rooted in voting and campaign finance laws; an ‘opportunity crisis’ for families to thrive; and ‘climate chaos.’” 

The Oregonian is heavily favored to retain his Senate seat, which he has held since 2008. He was the only senator to endorse Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in the 2016 Democratic primary, but he said this time around he doesn’t have “any plans to endorse anybody for a good length of time.”

-- “I’m not running,” Hillary Clinton told a local TV affiliate in New York, “but I'm going to keep on working and speaking and standing up for what I believe.” (John Wagner

-- Former attorney general Eric Holder revealed in a Post op-ed yesterday that he would not run for president.

-- The National Security Agency shut down a disputed program established by President George W. Bush’s administration that analyzed the logs of Americans’ domestic calls and texts and that was brought to light by Edward Snowden. The New York Times’s Charlie Savage reports: “The way that intelligence analysts have gained access to bulk records of Americans’ phone calls and texts has evolved, but the purpose has been the same: They analyze social links to hunt for associates of known terrorism suspects. … Congress ended and replaced the program disclosed by Mr. Snowden with the U.S.A. Freedom Act of 2015, which will expire in December. Security and privacy advocates have been gearing up for a legislative battle over whether to extend or revise the program — and with what changes, if any. …

“The disclosure that the program has apparently been shut down for months ‘changes the entire landscape of the debate,’ said Daniel Schuman, the policy director of Demand Progress, an advocacy group that focuses on civil liberties and government accountability. Since ‘the sky hasn’t fallen’ without the program, he said, the intelligence community must make the case that reviving it is necessary — if, indeed, the National Security Agency thinks it is worth the effort to keep trying to make it work. The phone records program had never thwarted a terrorist attack, a fact that emerged during the post-Snowden debate.”

-- Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson said he plans on staying in his post through the end of Trump's first term. Tracy Jan reports: “‘I will certainly finish out this term,’ Carson said during his interview with Newsmax. But he added, ‘I would be interested in returning to the private sector because I think you have just as much influence, maybe more, there.’ … Carson’s signature EnVision Centers initiative has gone nowhere, having failed to attract much financial support from either the White House or private foundations. Carson had touted the centers as a way to help low-income families access employment, education and health care. But the concept has existed for decades, with limited success in moving families out of poverty, HUD staffers told The Post.”

GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. North Carolina election officials voted unanimously to hold May primaries and a September general election for the 9th Congressional District seat. Republicans are preparing for a wide-open primary to replace Mark Harris on the ballot, but Democrat Dan McCready is expected to easily seize his party’s nomination for the election do-over. (Amy Gardner)
  2. The Affordable Care Act has left significant holes in the ability of older, middle-class people to afford coverage, particularly in rural areas. Sixty-year-olds with a $50,000 income must pay at least one-fifth of what they earn for the least expensive premiums for health plans in ACA marketplaces across a broad swath of the Midwest, a new analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows. In much of the country, those premiums require at least one-sixth of such people’s income. (Amy Goldstein)
  3. OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma is preparing to file for bankruptcy. The company is facing lawsuits from more than 1,600 cities, counties and states claiming that Purdue fueled the opioid epidemic and should be forced to shoulder some of its steep costs. (Wall Street Journal)
  4. A new report finds that 91 percent of U.S. coal plants have leaked toxic chemicals into nearby groundwater. The groups Environmental Integrity Project and Earthjustice noted in their report that the levels of toxic contaminants were often far higher than the thresholds set by the EPA. (Steven Mufson and Brady Dennis)
  5. The ex-boyfriend of a day spa co-owner was arrested in connection with an explosion at the Southern California business last May. Ildiko Krajnyak was killed in the blast, and her ex-boyfriend Stephen Beal has been charged with malicious destruction of a building resulting in death. (Kyle Swenson and Lindsey Bever)
  6. A school in California bet its future on four works of art that were supposed to be worth millions of dollars. Only after the school had taken out a $400,000 loan and hired more staff did it discover that the pieces might be duplicates. (Michael Brice-Saddler)  
  7. Actor Luke Perry died at 52 after a massive stroke. Perry became a household name in the 1990s while playing the moody loner Dylan McKay on “Beverly Hills, 90210,” which later served as a model for other teen dramas such as “Dawson’s Creek” and “The O.C.” (Harrison Smith)
  8. A Japanese court granted bail to former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn after he spent nearly four months in prison. The Tokyo District Court set bail at 1 billion yen ($8.9 million) and said Ghosn had to submit to video surveillance and communications monitoring. (Simon Denyer and Akiko Kashiwagi)

THERE’S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:

-- The House Judiciary Committee opened a sprawling investigation into whether the “president and his administration have engaged in obstruction of justice, corruption and abuse of power” by requesting documents from 80 Trump-affiliated people and institutions. Rachael Bade, Karoun Demirjian, Ellen Nakashima and Philip Rucker report: “But rather than a targeted approach, Monday’s request was broad, reaching current and former campaign staffers, top Trump Organization officials, even documents and communications of the National Rifle Association and the British consulting firm Cambridge Analytica. The inquiry touched on a wide array of matters, from the president’s business dealings with Russia to the firing of former FBI director James B. Comey to hush payments made to women. … Those receiving letters from the House Judiciary Committee include the president’s two eldest sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump; his son-in-law, Jared Kushner; his former personal secretary and senior vice president of the Trump Organization, Rhona Graff; Allen Weisselberg, the chief financial officer of the Trump Organization; and former top White House aides Hope Hicks, Sean Spicer and Stephen K. Bannon. Other demands for documents have been directed to institutions including the White House, the Justice Department, the Trump campaign, the Trump presidential transition team and the Trump Organization. …

The vast range of the request raised the specter of unfocused inquiries that could last years and involve multiple committees competing for witnesses and documents. …Hours after [House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry] Nadler’s letters went public, for example, the chairmen of three committees asked acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for any documents on Trump’s interactions with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Nadler’s inquiries sought the same information.”

-- White House press secretary Sarah Sanders called Nadler’s investigation “shameful” and “disgraceful” in a statement sent to reporters last night: “Chairman Nadler and his fellow Democrats have embarked on this fishing expedition because they are terrified that their two-year false narrative of ‘Russia collusion’ is crumbling,” she said. “Democrats are harassing the President to distract from their radical agenda of making America a socialist country, killing babies after they’re born, and pushing a ‘green new deal’ that would destroy jobs and bankrupt America. The American people deserve a Congress that works with the President to address serious issues like immigration, healthcare, and infrastructure. … The Democrats are not after the truth, they are after the President.”

-- Attorney General William Barr formally announced, as expected, that he will not recuse himself from overseeing special counsel Bob Mueller’s investigation. Kerri Kupec, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who intends to leave the department in the coming weeks, continues to be the primary liaison between the special counsel and Barr. “During his confirmation hearing in January, Barr refused to say whether he’d recuse himself from overseeing Mueller. He said that he would consult with career Justice Department officials on the recusal matter, but the decision would ultimately be his to make,” Bloomberg News’s Chris Strohm reports.

-- Jim Comey has an op-ed in The Post today making the case that Barr can abide by DOJ guidelines and still be transparent about Mueller’s investigation. The former FBI director writes: “Providing detailed information about a completed investigation of intense public interest has long been a part of Justice Department practice. … Republicans are wrong now when they claim Justice Department rules forbid transparency about the completed work of the special counsel. … It’s always important to consider guidelines and routines. But don’t listen to those who tell you transparency is impossible. Every American should want a Justice Department guided first and always by the public interest. Sometimes transparency is not a hard call.”

-- Former acting attorney general Matt Whitaker has left the Justice Department. The Los Angeles Times’s Del Quentin Wilber reports: “Justice Department officials said Whitaker’s last day at the agency was Saturday. He had spent recent weeks working as a senior counselor in the office of the associate attorney general. He has not settled on what to do next in his legal career.”

-- Michael Cohen’s lawyers raised the possibility of a pardon with the president’s attorneys after federal agents raided Cohen’s properties in April, people familiar with the conversations said. The Journal’s Rebecca Ballhaus, Joe Palazzolo and Michael Rothfeld report: Cohen’s attorney at the time, Stephen Ryan, discussed the option with “the president’s lawyers, including Jay Sekulow, Rudy Giuliani and Joanna Hendon, [who] dismissed the idea of a pardon at the time ... But at least one of them, Mr. Giuliani, left open the possibility that the president could grant Mr. Cohen one in the future. … Mr. Ryan also brought up the subject of a pardon with Alan Futerfas, an outside lawyer for the Trump Organization, and the company’s general counsel, Alan Garten, some of the people familiar with the matter said. Mr. Ryan left the impression that if Mr. Cohen couldn’t rely on a pardon, he might cooperate with prosecutors from the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office investigating Mr. Cohen.”

Cohen testified before the House Oversight Committee last week that he had “never asked for” a pardon from Trump, and there is no indication that Cohen personally asked for a pardon or was aware that a possibility of one was raised: “Mr. Cohen stands by his testimony before the House Oversight Committee,” a spokeswoman for Mr. Cohen said in response to questions for this article. 

-- Roger Stone’s lawyers told a federal judge it “did not occur” to them to inform her that a new book may violate a gag order. Spencer S. Hsu and Manuel Roig-Franzia reports: “Stone attacks [Mueller] as ‘crooked’ and accuses ‘Deep State liberals’ of seeking to silence him in an updated introduction to his book about Trump’s 2016 campaign, retitled ‘The Myth of Russian Collusion.’ Stone was put under a gag order Feb. 21 by U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson of Washington, and Stone attorneys led by Bruce S. Rogow told the judge that ‘not a single word of the book was created’ after that date. Rogow urged Jackson not to find Stone in violation because he could not have known about prohibitions not yet in place. … Jackson had ordered Stone’s defense attorneys to explain why they did not mention a book whose existence, the judge noted, ‘was known to the defendant.’”

-- Conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi retracted an article that falsely accused the late DNC staffer Seth Rich and his brother of leaking the organization’s emails. Felicia Sonmez reports: “Corsi said in a statement that the allegations he made in his article, which was posted on the Infowars website last March, ‘were not based upon any independent factual knowledge’ about the Rich brothers. … ‘It was not Dr. Corsi’s intent to rely upon inaccurate information, or to cause any suffering to Mr. Rich’s family. To that end, Dr. Corsi retracts the article and apologizes to the Rich family,’ the statement reads. … [The retraction] represents a victory for the Rich family, which has been battling the conspiracy theory and seeking to hold accountable those who have promoted it.”

-- Christopher Steele, the author of the infamous Trump dossier, backed out of his first planned public appearance since the dossier’s publication. Politico’s Ben Schreckinger reports: “Steele, a former MI6 officer, had been scheduled to speak about disinformation next Thursday at the Reawakening the Spirit of Democracy Conference at the George Peabody Library in Baltimore. Steele was scheduled to speak on a panel moderated by Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum. … Though Steele is listed as a speaker in promotional materials, Applebaum said that he had gotten ‘cold feet’ last week and canceled. She added that he backed out on advice of counsel.”

-- “I feel like I know you,” Trump said to D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine (D) during a White House visit. Racine is suing the president and just last week became the third law enforcement official to subpoena documents from the president's inaugural committee. Peter Jamison reports: "'I feel like I know you as well, Mr. President,' Racine replied ... Racine has been among the most aggressive of the multiple Democratic attorneys general confronting the Trump administration. ... The exchange between Trump and Racine began when the president was discussing the First Step Act, a bipartisan criminal justice bill that Trump signed in December. After thanking the association [of attorneys general] for its help with the bill, Trump singled out Racine."

THE #METOO ERA:

-- Twenty-one states sued the Trump administration to block changes to a federal family planning program that would divert funding from Planned Parenthood toward faith-based clinics. The two separate lawsuits, probably the first of many against the proposed rule, are asking for a court injunction to prevent the president’s proposed changes from taking effect. (Ariana Eunjung Cha)

-- A man was charged with trying to set a Planned Parenthood clinic on fire in Missouri. The man allegedly tried to burn down the empty building last month, and the FBI is investigating the attack as a possible hate crime. (AP)

-- The Democratic women running for president in 2020 have largely been avoiding Bill Clinton, whom they see as radioactive in the #MeToo era. The AP’s Julie Pace reports: “So far, none of the party’s early front-runners has had a formal meeting with Clinton. Nor have the women who are running in the historically diverse primary field. 

Instead, Clinton has spoken mostly with male candidates who are considered longshots for the Democratic nomination, including Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, former Housing secretary Julian Castro and former Maryland Rep. John Delaney. ... Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper was meeting with Hillary Clinton at the couple’s Chappaqua, New York, home when the former president stopped by and sat in on the rest of the meeting. While he doesn’t have much of a relationship with some of the younger White House hopefuls, like Beto O’Rourke, some of his contemporaries are considering running, including former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Vice President Joe Biden. Neither has had a formal meeting with Clinton about the campaign, but they’ve talked politics with him for years.

New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who had been backed by the couple throughout her political career, said Clinton should have resigned from office because of his affair with a White House intern. The former president has tried to publicly brush off the comment, saying Gillibrand … is ‘living in a different context.’ But Clinton allies say the couple’s anger at Gillibrand runs deep and their relationship may be irreparable. Other women seeking the Democratic nomination also haven’t met with Clinton, including Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and California Sen. Kamala Harris. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar spoke with Clinton briefly at last month’s funeral for John Dingell, the retired Democratic congressman.”

Flashback: Remember when Al Gore distanced himself from WJC in 2000 because of Monica Lewinsky? Bill's defenders note that it didn't turn out well for the then-vice president.

-- Trump continues to snub female champions. The president yesterday brought the North Dakota State football team, which won a championship in the NCAA’s secondary division, to the White House for a big celebration on par with what the Clemson football team got for its Division I championship. This drew attention to the fact that Trump has not held a single solo event to honor a women’s championship team, in college or professional sports, during his two years in office. The last time a lower-level-division college football team scored an invite to the White House was 1995. Clinton's political team brought in the Youngstown State team because it wanted to carry Ohio in 1996. In this case, Trump agreed to hold an event for North Dakota State at the personal request of Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.). 

The past two WNBA champions, the Minnesota Lynx in 2017 and the Seattle Storm in 2018, were not invited,” David Nakamura reports. “Nor was the Notre Dame women’s basketball team, which won the NCAA title in 2018 before a crowd of 19,599 — more than the number, 17,802, who attended North Dakota’s football title game in January. Two White House officials did not respond to requests for comment. ...

Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama regularly invited women’s teams. The Lynx made three trips to the White House during the Obama era and the Storm made two. Every women’s college basketball champion was invited to the White House since 1983 before Trump took office, spanning five presidents. Trump invited the South Carolina women’s basketball team, which won the 2017 title, to participate in an event with 18 other men’s and women’s college championship teams in November 2017. But the Gamecocks turned down the visit.”

-- The NHL is finally looking to incorporate female referees. The hockey league is alone among the five major professional sports in not having female officiates, and it has started reaching out to potential female recruits about participating in the league’s annual scouting event for referees. (Isabelle Khurshudyan)

-- Virgin Atlantic will no longer require that female flight attendants wear makeup and skirts. Female cabin crew members will now be provided with a pair of pants if they want to wear them instead of what has been the mandatory, standard red skirt. (HuffPost

-- Google’s annual salary study found that more men are being underpaid compared with women for the same work, but the search giant acknowledged that the results do not paint a full picture of the pay gap. Workplace experts say that women and minorities often have to overcome biases when they are hired or compete for promotions, which are not necessarily considered when comparing compensation among similar job titles. (New York Times)

DIVIDED AMERICA:

-- House Democrats have crafted a resolution condemning anti-Semitism in response to comments from Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) suggesting that supporters of Israel are showing “allegiance to a foreign country.” Mike DeBonis reports: “The draft resolution ‘acknowledges the dangerous consequences of perpetuating anti-Semitic stereotypes’ and ‘rejects anti-Semitism as hateful expressions of intolerance that are contradictory to the values that define the people of the United States.’ But it does not specifically rebuke Omar. Still, chastising her indirectly represents an uncomfortable development for Democrats who have been celebrating Omar, a Somali American immigrant, as a symbol of a historically diverse House freshman class.”

-- Omar’s supporters say she has cast a spotlight on the outsize influence of the pro-Israel group AIPAC. The New York Times’s Sheryl Gay Stolberg reports: Questions about AIPAC’s influence “will grow louder still in the run-up to this month’s annual Aipac policy conference — a three-day Washington confab that is expected to draw more than 18,000 people, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and leaders of both parties in Congress. To critics, Ms. Omar had a point, even if it was expressed with unfortunate glibness. Aipac’s money does have an outsize influence. … Today Aipac boasts 17 regional and satellite offices, a gleaming headquarters building near the Capitol and an annual budget so hefty that its chief executive, Howard Kohr, earned more than $1 million in salary and benefits in 2016.”

-- Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) has once again attracted criticism for quoting a white nationalist on Twitter. HuffPost’s Christopher Mathias and Roque Planas report: “On Friday, the congressman quote-tweeted Faith Goldy, a Canadian white nationalist who has publicly recited the ‘14 words,’ a white supremacist mantra, and who once recommended a book that calls for the ‘elimination of Jews.’ … King is well aware of who Goldy is. In October, he endorsed Goldy in her longshot run for mayor of Toronto. The endorsement led to widespread condemnation of the congressman.”

-- Sacramento police arrested 84 demonstrators and a reporter at a march protesting the decision not to prosecute two cops who fatally shot Stephon Clark, an unarmed black man, last year. The reporter, the Sacramento Bee’s Dale Kasler, sat on the ground in handcuffs for about an hour before being released with no charges. Tim Elfrink reports: “Critics accused the force of overreacting after days of protests against the ruling that there won’t be charges for the two officers who killed Clark in his grandmother’s backyard after mistaking an iPhone in his hands for a gun. ‘I’m very disappointed that the protest ended the way it did. I have many questions about what caused the order to disperse and the subsequent arrests,’ Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg said in a statement.”

-- A feud between Sen. Rick Scott and Rep. Matt Gaetz, both Republicans from Florida, has gone public, putting the two Trump allies at war with each other after Scott doubled down on his criticism of Gaetz’s decision to publish a tweet aimed at Michael Cohen that many saw as witness intimidation. Politico’s Marc Caputo and Gary Fineout report: “The broadside highlighted the toxic feelings between the freewheeling Gaetz and the oft-scripted Scott, who seldom speaks ill of a fellow Florida Republican. Once a semi-secret rivalry, the relationship changed in January after Gaetz helped lead the transition team for Scott’s successor, Gov. Ron DeSantis, and publicly criticized Scott for being disrespectful of the new GOP leader in Tallahassee. … 

“At times, the two have been able to put their differences aside in the company of the president, with whom they flew on Air Force One to a Tampa rally for DeSantis in July. While aboard the plane, Gaetz said, Scott was ‘fumbling through his asks’ of the president after opening a large notebook titled ‘Issues to Discuss with the President on Air Force One’ that was filled with maps and engineering drawings of Lake Okeechobee and materials concerning other water-related issues important to Florida. ‘The president listens politely for about 30 seconds and then just looks at the governor, looks at me, looks back at the governor and then says, ‘Isn’t Matt Gaetz great on television?’ Gaetz recalled. Scott closed the notebook.”

-- School officials in California are investigating photos taken at a high school party showing red plastic cups arranged in the shape of a swastika. The teenage partygoers also appear to be offering a Nazi salute in the photos, which have prompted rebukes from many local officials and community organizations. (Allyson Chiu)

THE IMMIGRATION WARS: 

-- White House officials know the Senate will pass a rebuke of Trump’s emergency declaration, but they’re trying to limit defections. Erica Werner, Jacqueline Alemany and John Wagner report: “Over the weekend, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) became the fourth Republican to announce he would vote for the disapproval resolution, ensuring its passage ... The Senate vote is expected next week. ... Paul said he held out hope that if GOP opposition in the Senate reached into double digits, Trump might be prevailed upon to change his view. Paul said that for himself, after he had accused President Barack Obama of exceeding his authority on immigration and other issues, it would be hypocritical to consent to Trump doing something similar.”

-- More than 70,000 migrants were detained at the border in February, one of the coldest and busiest months there in years. The majority of those detained by U.S. authorities were Central American children and parents. Nick Miroff reports: “Department of Homeland Security officials say they expect the influx to swell in March and April, months that historically see large increases in illegal crossings as U.S. seasonal labor demand rises. … The Central American families — called “give-ups” because they surrender instead of trying to sneak in — have left frustrated U.S. agents viewing their own role as little more than the facilitators for the last stage of the migrants’ journey. They are rescuing families with small children from river currents, irrigation canals, medical emergencies and freezing winter temperatures. … ‘The numbers are staggering, and we’re incredibly worried that we will see another huge increase in March,’ said a Homeland Security official.”  

-- An Argentinian immigrant who created a documentary about activists who infiltrated the for-profit immigration center in Florida where he once was detained has been locked up by ICE again, ahead of the film’s release. Tim Elfrink and Isaac Stanley-Becker report: Claudio Rojas “won’t be able to catch the film’s South Florida debut, because last week, he was once again arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Rojas’s attorney doesn’t think the timing of his latest detention is a coincidence. ‘I definitely think it’s retaliation,’ Sandy Pineda told The Washington Post on Sunday. ‘For them to take this stance and to just arrest him so suddenly for no apparent reason, it’s very unusual.’”

-- Gun use among U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents is dropping as fewer people cross the border illegally. (AP)

THE NEW WORLD ORDER:

-- Amid fears that he might be arrested, opposition leader Juan Guaidó returned to Venezuela and addressed thousands at an anti-government rally. Mary Beth Sheridan, Rachelle Krygier and Mariana Zuñiga report: “Diplomats from the United States, Europe and Latin America had gathered at the airport Monday to ensure Guaidó was not harmed. Officials including Britain’s foreign minister, Jeremy Hunt, and Vice President Pence had publicly warned Maduro against detaining the opposition leader. … Maduro had said that Guaidó would ‘face justice’ if he returned, and Venezuelans were uncertain until virtually the last minute about when and where he would arrive ... But the opposition leader cleared immigration and went on to lead a packed rally in a plaza in southeastern Caracas, with no interference from police. …

“Many appeared relieved and re-energized by Guaidó’s appearance. ‘The international pressure is causing the government to retreat, and that’s why Guaidó was able to enter,’ said Giuseppe Di Yorio, 47, a computer engineer at the rally. ‘Now, we must continue to take to the streets.’ … Maduro did not comment publicly on Guaidó’s return. On the president’s Twitter account Monday, he urged Venezuelans to enjoy Carnival holidays this week.”  

-- National security adviser John Bolton is approaching his first anniversary in the post and, in the past year, has proved to be the chief translator of Trump’s unorthodox foreign policy views with an influence over the president that, at times, falls short. Karen DeYoung, Greg Jaffe, John Hudson and Josh Dawsey report: “The contradictions of Bolton’s tenure were apparent in the wake of last week’s collapsed Hanoi summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Bolton dutifully reiterated Trump’s assessment that the summit was a success. But he offered little support for that judgment or the president’s approach beyond saying in an interview with CNN on Sunday that Trump ‘remains optimistic.’ Asked whether the summit effort was worth it, Bolton took a pass. ... 

“Some officials said Trump grouses at times that Bolton has pursued an independent foreign policy that isn’t always in line with the administration’s ‘America First’ agenda and has berated him for some of his public remarks on the Middle East and North Korea. He has jokingly warned Bolton not to start any wars. But there are no signs that Trump is considering replacing him. … The tension between his conservative views and Trump’s ‘America First’ instincts was clearly apparent in the case of Syria. Trump’s decision to announce a withdrawal came during a Dec. 14 telephone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. When Erdogan offered to use his own security forces to clean up Islamic State remnants, allowing the withdrawal of U.S. troops, Trump gladly accepted. Bolton, who listened in on the call, spent the next several days gingerly trying to talk Trump out of an immediate troop departure, to no avail.”

-- India is Trump’s next target in his trade wars. The president announced that the country will no longer receive benefits under a system set to promote trade from developing countries. Nina Masih reports: “India is the [Generalized System of Preferences’] biggest beneficiary and exports approximately $5.6 billion in goods to the United States under the program, including motor vehicle parts, precious-metal jewelry and insulated cables. … India’s response so far has been muted. Indian Commerce Secretary Anup Wadhawan said the decision would not have a ‘significant impact’ on exports, according to news agency Asian News International. The ‘economic value of GSP benefits are very moderate,’ he said. Just over 10 percent of India’s current exports to the United States actually benefit from the program.” 

-- The U.S. tightened its Cuban embargo, reversing two decades of policy toward the island and allowing lawsuits by American citizens against Cuban government entities that trafficked in property confiscated six decades ago by Fidel Castro’s government. Karen DeYoung reports: “Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement that the administration was lifting a prohibition against such suits, as long as they were filed against one of about 200 companies and businesses in which the Cuban security services have a financial interest. Last year, U.S. companies and travelers were prohibited from conducting any business with the listed Cuban entities.”

-- Germany adopted a controversial measure to turn back immigrants at its borders last year, almost causing the collapse of Angela Merkel’s government. The program has, so far, stopped only 11 people from entering the country. From the Telegraph’s Justin Huggler: “Under a compromise deal, [Interior Minister Horst] Seehofer negotiated agreements with Austria, Greece and Spain — three of the main countries affected — to take back migrants turned away at the border.  Now it appears the measures have been strikingly ineffective at limiting migrant numbers. According to the newly released figures, since they were introduced nine migrants have been returned to Greece, two to Spain, and none to Austria.”

-- A federal judge declined to fast-track a lawsuit brought by the family of an Alabama woman who joined the Islamic State and now wants to return home. The lawsuit alleges that the Trump administration unlawfully denied Hoda Muthana’s request to return to America. Spencer S. Hsu and Carol Morello report: “U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton of Washington rejected an emergency motion to recognize the U.S. citizenship claim of Hoda Muthana, saying her family’s attorneys had not proved she would be ‘irreparably harmed’ by remaining in a refu­gee camp with her 18-month-old son while litigation continued at a normal pace. … While she was living in the self-declared caliphate in Syria, Hoda Muthana helped spread Islamic State propaganda on social media and called for the death of Americans.”

-- Chinese hackers targeted at least 27 American universities in the chase for maritime military secrets, hitting among them the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Washington. From the Wall Street Journal’s Dustin Volz: “The majority of the universities targeted either house research hubs focused on undersea technology or have faculty on staff with extensive experience in a relevant field, and nearly all have links to a Massachusetts oceanographic institute that also was likely compromised in the cyber campaign, iDefense said. Some have been awarded contracts by the Navy. Others, including Sahmyook University in South Korea, appeared to be targeted due to their proximity to China, and relevance to the South China Sea, the analysts said. … The Chinese hacking group, which multiple security firms and officials have linked to Beijing, is the same one that has been linked to breaches of Navy contractors and subcontractors that have resulted in the theft of sensitive military information, such as submarine missile plans and ship-maintenance data.”   

-- Meanwhile, China blocked Internet searches abroad as President Xi Jinping prepares to deliver a major speech at the National People’s Congress. The Telegraph’s Sophia Yan reports: “Analysts suggest China is keen to control the narrative from the rubber stamp parliament more than ever as President Xi Jinping faces one of his toughest years in office due to a slowing economy, a damaging trade war with the US and growing discontent about investment abroad. … For Beijing, keeping negative or critical news at bay, and having even greater control than usual over the messaging, is a key priority ahead of major events. … Although they are technically illegal, Virtual Private Networks are commonly used to sidestep the Great Firewall, allowing internet users inside China, including foreign firms to see beyond state-sanctioned content.”

MORE 2020:

-- Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) visited Iowa again but gave no clear signal on whether he would challenge Trump for the GOP nomination. Sean Sullivan reports: “He said he was here to attend to National Governors Association business, not lay the groundwork for a campaign. ‘It currently makes no sense, with a president that has the kind of approval rating that he does in his own party,’ Hogan said in an interview. ‘Having said that, I’ve said things can change, and we don’t know what it might look like a few months from now.’ Variables such as the outcome of [Mueller’s] probe, Democratic talk of impeachment and the president’s fluctuating political standing are all potential factors in his decision, Hogan acknowledged. In the meantime, he’s taking things slowly.”

-- Several top donors have told 2020 Democrats they are waiting to see whether former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe runs before committing to a candidate. CNN’s Dan Merica reports: “McAuliffe has deep ties to the Democratic donor community after years of raising money for Bill and Hillary Clinton, the Democratic National Committee and his two campaigns for governor of Virginia. He has publicly said he will decide whether to run for president in the next month, but as he waits, a number of prolific Democratic donors are sitting on the sidelines.”

-- Former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper’s coziness with the oil and gas industry could become a challenge as he seeks the Democratic nomination. The LA Times’s Eli Stokols reports: “Some Colorado Republicans were known to joke during Hickenlooper’s tenure that he was the best governor their party ever had because of his conservative positions on some issues. … Hickenlooper once drank fracking fluid in a congressional hearing to demonstrate that it’s safe, an element of his biography that might not play well with progressive primary voters.”

-- Chuck Schumer met with MJ Hegar over the weekend to discuss challenging Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) next year. HuffPost’s Dana Liebelson reports: “Hegar is a tattooed, motorcycle-riding, Purple Heart recipient whose personal story — and a viral campaign ad about the challenges she’s overcome— helped her mount a competitive Democratic challenge last year against Republican Rep. John Carter in Central Texas’ 31st Congressional District. She lost by about 3 percentage points, but in 2016, Carter won re-election by more than 20 points.”

-- Former Kansas City Chiefs player Dave Lindstrom is considering a Senate bid after Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) announced his retirement. From the Kansas City Star’s Bryan Lowry: “Lindstrom, an Overland Park Republican, currently serves as board chairman for the Kansas Turnpike Authority and as a member of Johnson County Community College’s Board of Trustees. He said he would decide within the next 90 days whether to join the Senate race in Kansas.”

-- Longtime New York GOP Chairman Ed Cox is running for another term despite the party’s widespread losses across the state last year. The Wall Street Journal’s Jimmy Vielkind reports: “Dissatisfaction with Mr. Cox has simmered among county chairs and elected officials since the midterm elections. They say the GOP needs to reboot, and that Mr. Cox has lost touch with the party base. As elsewhere, Mr. Trump’s election laid bare existing divisions between moderate and conservative Republicans in New York. Mr. Cox, the son-in-law of former President Richard Nixon, has long been viewed warily by Mr. Trump’s more conservative supporters.”

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

Lawyer Keith Davidson, who represented Stormy Daniels when she made her deal with Michael Cohen, reacted to the House Judiciary Committee's document request:

Lawyer George Conway, who is married to White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, expressed alarm over the New Yorker report on Trump's relationship with Fox News:

From a Democratic congressman:

From a former Fox News contributor:

The House Judiciary Committee chairman accused one of Trump's congressional allies of anti-Semitism after he used a dollar sign to spell the name of billionaire activist Tom Steyer, whose father was Jewish:

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) tweeted this as he prepared to vote against Trump's emergency declaration:

A Post reporter shared this story as a reminder of a past GOP plan: 

An LA Times editor highlighted this surprising trip taken by the secretary of state:

A Post book critic reflected on something that happened six months ago:

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) called for term limits:

A Morning Consult reporter noted this in response:

Trump doubled down on his relationship with Fox News and its hosts amid new scrutiny of his ties with the network: 

Kyle Swenson collected the president's latest tweets on the subject. 

Meanwhile, Cornyn introduced Twitter to his new pet:

Another Texas lawmaker also had a dog in his office, per an NPR reporter:

Julián Castro’s deputy press secretary shared this look from the campaign trail:

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) mourned Luke Perry, who had a special connection to his family:

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) opened her district office. From a New York magazine contributor:

The Post's China team provided this look from Beijing:

The White House prepared this spread for the FCS national championship-winning North Dakota State Bison, per a Newsday reporter:

GOOD READS:

-- “Surveillance cameras, suitcases and billionaires: How an investigation into massage parlors unfolded in Florida,” by Lori Rozsa, Tom Jackman and Mark Berman: “The story law enforcement officials detailed was deeply Floridian, filled with vice and iniquity, entwining celebrity and extreme wealth with allegations of prostitution and human trafficking. But more than a week after authorities announced that a sprawling web of investigations into massage parlors across this region had found women performing sex acts for money, officials have not yet filed any trafficking charges. … And while current and former law enforcement officials and advocates for victims say they suspect human trafficking was part of what occurred in the Florida parlors, they also acknowledge it probably will be difficult to prove.”

-- “Every Michael Jackson song sounds different today,” by Chris Richards: “How do we make the most famous entertainer our world has ever known instantly and permanently disappear? We don’t. We can’t. … And whether or not you want to listen to another Michael Jackson song in your life, it’s not really up to you. There will still be house parties, and wedding receptions, and karaoke contests, and barbecues, and Friday nights on dance floors where ‘Billie Jean’ makes the room spin. … For the rest of us, every Michael Jackson song sounds different today. … Now, the evidence has never been more damning that he preyed on the vulnerable behind closed doors. Our listening has to change again.”

-- The Atlantic, “The secrets that might be hiding in the Vatican’s archives,” by David I. Kertzer: “Francis’s opening of the Pius XII archives makes available not only the 17 million pages of documents in the central Vatican archives, but many other materials in other Church archives. Not least of these are the archives of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (formerly known as the Holy Office of the Inquisition) and the central archives of the Jesuit order. They, too, are likely to have much that is new to tell us. Demands that the Vatican open its archives for the war years began to be heard in 1963, following the premiere in Germany of Rolf Hochhuth’s play, The Deputy. It portrayed a coldhearted Pius XII spurning all pleas to condemn the slaughter of the Jews, concerned only with protecting the institutional interests of the Church. In an effort to respond to the critics, the Holy See commissioned four Jesuits to plow through the archives and publish a selection of documents shedding light on the controversy. The result, over a 16-year period beginning in 1965, was 12 thick volumes containing thousands of documents. Although skeptics suspected the Jesuit editors of selecting out documents unflattering to the Church, the volumes are far from a simple whitewash of this troubled history.”

HOT ON THE LEFT:

“Big-dollar donors, including Donald Trump, fueled Kamala Harris’ political rise in California,” from the Sacramento Bee: “In 2011 and again in 2013, Trump donated a total of $6,000 to Harris’ campaign for California attorney general. His daughter, Ivanka, also gave Harris $2,000 in 2014. The first donation from Trump, for $5,000 in September 2011, came months after he had begun popping up on cable news promoting [birtherism] … Harris campaign spokesman Ian Sams [said that] Harris donated the $6,000 Trump had contributed to a non-profit that advocates for civil and human rights for Central Americans. But that donation wasn’t made until 2015, a year after she won her reelection for attorney general and as she was launching her run for the Senate.”

 

HOT ON THE RIGHT:

“Greenpeace co-founder tears into Ocasio-Cortez, Green New Deal: ‘Pompous little twit,’” from Fox News: “Patrick Moore, the co-founder of the environmentalist group Greenpeace, ripped into [Ocasio-Cortez] over the weekend as a ‘pompous little twit,’ saying the Green New Deal plan she’s advocating is ‘completely crazy.’ … Moore left Greenpeace after 15 years and is now critical of the group, later writing the book, “Confessions of a Greenpeace Dropout: The Making of a Sensible Environmentalist.” Greenpeace, years ago, distanced themselves from Moore and say he overstates his past affiliation with them. Referring to the New York Democrat as a ‘pompous little twit,’ Moore said, ‘You don’t have a plan to grow food for 8 billion people without fossil fuels, or get food into the cities.’”

 

DAYBOOK:

Trump will sign an executive order on a “national roadmap to empower veterans and end veteran suicide.”

Pence will travel to Phoenix, where he will speak at an event by the National Association of Manufacturers before meeting with the association’s executive council and Small Business Administration Administrator Linda McMahon. Later in the day, the vice president will tour a Drug Enforcement Administration facility.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

“I would go to Mitch McConnell, to his office, and I would sit down with him and say, 'Now, what is the issue again?' And we would talk … Sounds silly, right? But this works.” — John Hickenlooper on working with Republicans if he is elected president. (ABC News)

 

-- A ProPublica reporter reacted to Hickenlooper’s quote with skepticism:

NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:

-- Winds will be lighter than yesterday and the weather will be much drier, but the cold continues. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “After so much moisture, this drier weather is welcome, but the January-like cold is not. High temperatures continue to struggle through the 30s today and tomorrow, with hard overnight freezes. Then we see some very slight warming late week. That’s followed by a small snow chance Friday and milder weekend conditions, including the chance of rain Sunday.”

-- A towing contractor in D.C. pleaded guilty to bribing city officials at the Department of Public Works and the D.C. Taxicab Commission (now the Department of For-Hire Vehicles), paying them nearly $50,000 in exchange for towing and compounding assignments. After pleading guilty in 2014, the man, who owns a tow truck business, paid $13,000 to a third official to maintain an exclusive towing contract, violating his plea agreement. He now faces 16 months in prison. (Ann E. Marimow and Peter Jamison)

-- D.C. Council member Jack Evans’s use of his government email to send business proposals to potential employers and offers to use his connections as an elected official has landed him in hot water. Fenit Nirappil, Steve Thompson and Peter Jamison report: “‘I believe our code of conduct provides that a member should not use council resources for personal purposes, for personal gain,' Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) said. 'On the face of it, that appears to be exactly what happened.' ... Mendelson said that the D.C. Council would also respond in some way but that he wanted to first consult with Evans and other council members, as well as the council’s lawyer, with whom he met Monday. ... The D.C. Council has a variety of ways to punish one of its own, including a vote of reprimand or censure, forming a special committee to investigate a lawmaker, and removal of committee assignments." 

-- About half of Marylanders oppose a bill navigating the state's General Assembly that would allow gender-neutral driver’s licenses. Ovetta Wiggins reports: “51 percent of Marylander voters said they do not favor giving drivers the option to identify as 'unspecified' on their licenses. The legislation approved by the Senate last month would require the state Motor Vehicle Administration to issue licenses or identification cards that show an 'M' for male drivers, an 'F' for female drivers and an 'X' for drivers who don’t identify with a specific gender. ... The poll findings, much like the 32-to-14 vote in the Senate last month, largely fall along partisan lines. Sixty percent of registered Democrats and 36 percent of unaffiliated voters favor gender-neutral licenses. Twelve percent of Republicans said they support the idea.” 

-- While addressing the multiple scandals surrounding his state’s executive office, Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring (D) said he demanded the resignation of Gov. Ralph Northam (D) not because the governor once wore blackface but because he flip-flopped on the subject so much it showed his inability to lead. Laura Vozzella reports: “Breaking a month of silence since acknowledging that he, too, had dressed in blackface as a young man, Herring took pains to differentiate his situation from Northam’s. … ‘It was really about the public trust. I would hold myself to the same standard,’ [he said.] … The attorney general said that after Northam’s revelations, he ‘agonized’ about whether to disclose that he had dressed in blackface for a party as a 19-year-old student at the University of Virginia. … Herring, who announced in December his intention to run for governor in 2021, declined to say whether he will still run.”

The sexual assault accusations made against Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D), Herring said, are “different but a very difficult situation,” Herring said: “The women who say they were sexually assaulted by the lieutenant governor ‘deserve to be heard; they deserve respect,’ he said. ‘What needs to happen is some type of impartial situation so we can get to the facts,’ he said. ‘In the current situation, it’s hard to see how that takes place. It’s an excruciating situation to be in.’”

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

Stephen Colbert came back from his break to discuss Trump's CPAC speech:

Jimmy Kimmel also spoke about Trump’s CPAC speech, poking fun at the president’s embrace of the American flag:

A conspiracy theorist is still pushing birtherism claims against former president Barack Obama: 

The Marine Biological Laboratory has launched an initiative to make octopuses the next lab animals:

The Post's Fact Checkers explain what socialism really is: 

Drivers in Colorado were shocked when an avalanche consumed the highway they were driving down:

(Thankfully, no one was injured or killed in the avalanche.)