With Joanie Greve and Mariana Alfaro
THE BIG IDEA: The white supremacist who live-streamed his Friday rampage at a New Zealand mosque posted a manifesto online that said the attack was partly inspired by Dylann Roof’s 2015 massacre of nine black churchgoers in South Carolina, police said.
Globalization has had positive impacts, but it’s also empowered evildoers. Friday’s terrorism underscores how much the contagion of white nationalism has spread internationally. Christchurch, New Zealand, is 8,545 miles from Charleston, S.C., but social media helps make the world more interconnected than ever. In this case, 21st-century technologies fostered kinship between people across borders and oceans over their shared hatred of Muslims and immigrants.
At least 49 people are dead and an additional 48 patients are being treated at hospitals after two mosques were hit during Friday prayers. Authorities say 41 were killed at the Al Noor Mosque across the street from a downtown park, and seven more were fatally shot at a suburban mosque in Linwood. The police announced that three people are in custody who they believe were involved in the violence. Police deactivated an improvised explosive device that was attached to one of the vehicles used by the suspects.
Investigators have confirmed that the same man who streamed 17 minutes of footage of himself opening fire at the downtown mosque from a helmet camera also published a 74-page manifesto that mentioned Roof. “In the manifesto, the purported shooter identified himself as a 28-year-old white man born in Australia,” Isaac Stanley-Becker. Eli Rosenberg and Alex Horton report. “He described his motivation, which he said involved defending ‘our lands’ from ‘invaders’ and ensuring ‘a future for white children.’ … Its title, ‘The Great Replacement,’ echoes the rallying cry of, among others, the torch-bearing protesters who marched in Charlottesville in 2017.
“He aimed to ‘directly reduce immigration rates,’ he said, explaining that he had chosen to target New Zealand to illustrate that there was nowhere ‘left to go that was safe and free from mass immigration.’ In a country of nearly 5 million, more than 46,000 residents are Muslim, according to data from the 2013 census, up 28 percent from 2006.
“Before the attack, someone with apparently advance knowledge of unfolding events posted links on Twitter and the message board 8chan to the manifesto, as well as to a Facebook page where the individual promised that the attack would be streamed live. The Twitter posts included images of weapons and ammunition, as well as the names of perpetrators of past mass-casualty shootings.”
-- The world is always a dangerous place, but it feels especially so this morning. Consider these eight other new stories:
1. North Korea threatened overnight to withdraw from denuclearization talks with the United States unless Washington makes major concessions. “Kim Jong Un is set to make an official announcement soon on whether to … maintain the country’s moratorium on missile launches and nuclear tests, Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui told foreign diplomats and journalists in Pyongyang,” per Simon Denyer. “The threat to suspend talks comes after evidence surfaced that North Korea has rebuilt a satellite rocket launchpad and amid speculation that it might be preparing a rocket launch.”
2. Israel announced that its military attacked “terror sites” in the Gaza Strip after two rockets targeted Tel Aviv. “While rocket launches from Gaza are not unusual, it was the first time in more than four years that they have targeted the major city of Tel Aviv,” Loveday Morris and Ruth Eglash report. “The escalation ... followed a day of unrest in Gaza, where Hamas, the militant group that controls the Palestinian enclave, had forcibly put down demonstrations against living conditions. Some analysts speculated that Hamas might have been trying to cause a distraction.”
3. The CDC warned that a raging Ebola outbreak in Congo, which has killed at least 600 people, is far from under control. The director of the U.S. government agency hopes to send experts over there in the next few weeks to help train local and international personnel on how to respond. But a worsening security situation will keep the Americans away from the epicenter of the outbreak.
“Government sources said the CDC hopes to send as many as 10 people for the temporary training assignments,” Lena Sun reports. “Armed attacks against Ebola treatment centers in North Kivu province have increased in recent weeks. One attack took place hours before CDC Director Robert Redfield and World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus arrived last week as part of a WHO delegation to assess the situation on the ground. Another attack took place Thursday when an Ebola clinic was burned down by people who then set fire to the home of a local official.”
4. Relations between the Trump administration and the government of Afghanistan fell to a new low Thursday, as officials exchanged public accusations of bad faith that exposed a schism over U.S. negotiations with the Taliban. “On a visit to Washington, Afghanistan’s national security adviser, Hamidullah Mohib, charged that any U.S. deal with the Taliban would ‘dishonor’ American troops who have fought and died in the war,” Karen DeYoung reports. “Afghan-born U.S. negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad was acting out of ‘personal ambition,’ Mohib said, and seeking to ‘create a caretaker government, of which he will become viceroy.’
“In Kabul, U.S. Ambassador John R. Bass responded Thursday … that it was ‘Afghan corruption and misuse of equipment, funds and other support provided by the American people’ that dishonored the troops. … In a sharply worded statement, the State Department said Mohib had been ‘summoned’ to a meeting with U.S. Under Secretary for Political Affairs David Hale, who reminded him that ‘attacks on Ambassador Khalilzad are attacks on the Department and only serve to hinder the bilateral relationship and the peace process. … The Afghan government has been excluded from talks between Khalilzad and Taliban representatives, who concluded a lengthy fifth round of negotiations Tuesday in Qatar.”
5. Britain is as adrift as ever. Brexit is now delayed after the British Parliament rejected Prime Minister Theresa May’s latest plan for leaving the E.U. “Now Britain almost certainly will not leave the European Union in two weeks — unless E.U. leaders reject its request for an extension and it crashes out with no deal,” William Booth, Karla Adam and Michael Birnbaum report. “The vote to delay Brexit passed 412 to 202. Also on Thursday, lawmakers voted against holding a second Brexit referendum, a complete do-over that could reverse the result of the historic June 2016 plebiscite. May is offering lawmakers a stark choice: support her now twice-rejected Brexit deal in a third ‘meaningful vote’ next week … or face the prospect of a Brexit delay that could stretch far into the future, perhaps a year or more. … European leaders will have to decide what to do with Britain when they gather for two days in Brussels starting next Thursday. They are divided over how much rope to give.”
“Brexit will mark the end of Britain’s role as a great power,” Fareed Zakaria writes in his column for today’s paper.
6. Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro is increasingly relying on motorcycle-riding paramilitary gangs to sow terror among anti-government protesters as he clings to power. He’s publicly urging the “colectivos” to intensify their efforts, as the country teeters on the edge of economic collapse and a U.S.-backed opposition movement presses for his ouster. These government-backed thugs are nimble and committed — and have an extraordinary ability to sow terror.
Mary Beth Sheridan and Mariana Zuñiga sketch this terrifying scene from Caracas: “The neighbors were fed up. For days, they’d had no electricity or running water because of a massive national blackout. So … they piled logs and garbage into a makeshift barricade in their middle-class Caracas neighborhood and started yelling slogans against the government. Then came the motorcycles. There were at least 20 of them, their motors buzzing, driven by men with scarves over their faces … The demonstrators scattered. But as people in surrounding buildings started hurling bottles at the bikers, the men raised their weapons — pistols and rifles — and opened fire. No one was injured. But the neighbors were terrified. ‘Now we can’t even protest, because they’ll shoot at us,’ said Delia Arellano, 72.”
7. Foreign leaders are taking advantage of President Trump's proclivity for personal diplomacy to go around diplomatic and national security experts. “Kim Jong Un, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russia’s Vladimir Putin are among the heads of state who have cut out the middle layers of aides and agency officials to talk to Mr. Trump,” the Wall Street Journal's Vivian Salama and Peter Nicholas report. “Mr. Trump has encouraged such approaches, but they have added a layer of ambiguity to foreign affairs. ...
“Some advisers worry that Mr. Trump, a foreign-policy novice when he became president, could overpromise where the U.S. isn’t prepared to deliver, or fail to properly hold leaders accountable on issues with national security implications. ... An official familiar with the inner workings of the White House said the president’s advisers suspect that he regularly speaks with world leaders on his phone. 'We never know who he’s talking to or what he’s agreed to,' the official said. ... Foreign officials have questioned whether conversations they have held with the president’s cabinet were 'representative of reality,' a former U.S. official who served under the Trump administration said.”
8. Bigger picture: Autocracy is on the march and the strongmen are striking back. Brookings fellow Robert Kagan argues in a sobering new essay, which will run in the print edition of Sunday’s newspaper, that the rise of authoritarianism poses an existential threat to the liberal democratic world. He calls it a profound ideological, as well as strategic, challenge that we have no idea how to confront.
“It has returned armed with new and hitherto unimaginable tools of social control and disruption that are shoring up authoritarian rule at home, spreading it abroad and reaching into the very heart of liberal societies to undermine them from within,” he writes. “The authoritarians now have regained their confidence and found their voice in a way they have not since 1942 and, just as was true in the decades before World War II, the most powerful anti-liberal regimes ‘are no longer content simply to contain democracy,’ as the editors of the Journal of Democracy observed in 2016. The regimes now want to ‘roll it back by reversing advances dating from the time of the democratic surge.’”
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- French aviation experts began work Friday on the heavily damaged data and voice recorders from Ethiopian Airlines flight 302, while new revelations have suggested additional links with an earlier crash in Indonesia involving the same type of aircraft. Paul Schemm reports: “The two so-called ‘black boxes’ arrived at France’s Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses, which has extensive experience analyzing crashes, on Thursday. Germany had earlier turned down the opportunity to examine the recorders. The data extracted from the recorders will be used to reconstruct the six minute flight before the Boeing 737 Max 8 crashed into a farm field about 40 miles from Addis Ababa, killing all 157 passengers and crew, including the voice communication of the pilots and the readings of the various sensors.
- “Bloomberg and several other media outlets cited investigators in the United States saying a device that sets the aircraft’s trim was found in the wreckage and it was in position to force the airplane down — another similarity with the Indonesian crash.
- “Within minutes the pilot radioed the control tower and reported ‘flight control’ problems and was given clearance to return. A description of the exchange reported by the New York Times describes Capt. Yared Getachew speaking in a panicky voice as he requested to return shortly before losing contact.
- “Because the country of origin of the aircraft is the United States, the National Transportation Safety Board will be involved in the investigation and has sent a team to Paris, in addition to its three investigators already in Ethiopia.”
-- Ethiopian Airlines organized a memorial service Thursday at the crash site, where mourners filled the air with cries as bulldozers swept through debris. Paul was there: “Most of the Ethiopian plane’s pieces have been pushed into piles, but signs of the tragedy are still everywhere: a torn business card from Kenya, a headrest cover from the flight’s Cloud 9 business class, a brochure for Parvati.org, whose director of strategic initiatives, Darcy Belanger, was on the flight to attend the environmental conference in Nairobi. … The plane plowed nose down into the earth, and much of the wreckage was buried at least 60 feet deep, said Zhang Jun, a construction engineer working at the site. … The issue of human remains was on the minds of many of the mourners as they plaintively asked how they could bury their dead.”
-- Domestic airfares in India have spiked sharply since the country grounded its Boeing 737 Max aircraft fleet. “An analysis by travel website Yatra.com showed an average fare hike of 65 percent on key routes compared to a year ago,” Niha Masih reports from New Delhi.
GET SMART FAST:
FBI agents were tipped off to the college admissions scheme by a man they were investigating for securities fraud. Once he was caught, the Los Angeles financial executive offered agents a tantalizing lead — the women’s soccer coach at Yale had suggested a bribe could get his child into the school. Meanwhile, University of Southern California rescinded the admissions of a half-dozen students linked to the scheme, and a class-action lawsuit was filed on behalf of applicants who were denied admission to several universities affected by the scandal. (Moriah Balingit, Nick Anderson, Susan Svrluga and Devlin Barrett)
Federal prosecutors brought terrorism and other serious charges against five people arrested last year on a New Mexico compound, alleging in a new indictment that the group was gathering weapons and training in their squalid quarters to kill FBI and military personnel. The case drew significant attention when the group was first arrested last year — in part because officials suggested they were Muslim “extremists.” (Matt Zapotosky)
The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that the families of Sandy Hook victims can sue the gunmaker Remington over the 2012 mass shooting. Adam Lanza used the company’s Bushmaster AR-15 rifle in the attack, and the families have argued that Remington negligently allowed civilians to use the weapon even though it was mainly intended for military and law enforcement purposes. (Fred Barbash)
The Southern Poverty Law Center fired co-founder Morris Dees for unspecified reasons. The president of the organization said in a statement that the group is committed to “ensuring that the conduct of our staff reflects the mission of the organization and the values we hope to instill in the world.” (Michael Brice-Saddler)
Safety advocates are urging Congress to move faster on the implementation of technology that could keep thousands of drunk drivers off the road. The former head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said automakers should be required by law to include passive ignition-interlock systems in all new motor vehicles within the next three years. (Fredrick Kunkle)
The reputed boss of the Gambino crime family was fatally shot outside his Staten Island home. Francesco Cali’s death marked the first killing of a reported New York Mafia boss since Paul Castellano was killed in 1985 in front of a Manhattan steakhouse. (New York Times)
A woman in South Carolina claimed her $1.5 billion Mega Millions jackpot — and chose to stay anonymous. She gets to take home a one-time gross payment of $878 million (the largest jackpot payout to a single winner ever) without the public finding out her identity, thanks to a state law. (Alex Horton)
Poland is threatening to jail an art dealer in New York for refusing to return a painting looted from a Polish museum by the Nazis in 1943. The painting is not the most valuable piece stolen back then — it’s worth $22,000, in fact — but the Poles are especially keen on getting it back. (New York Times)
California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) decision to declare a moratorium on executions highlighted how few states actually use capital punishment, even if the death penalty is legal. Executions have dwindled dramatically in recent years, even though 2,600 people are sitting on death rows nationwide. (Mark Berman)
Birch Bayh, the former Indiana senator, died at 91. Former senator and governor Evan Bayh's dad was also the main author and advocate of the 25th Amendment and co-wrote the Equal Rights Amendment, which led to the creation of Title IX, which bans gender discrimination in schools receiving federal support. (Laurence I. Barrett)
-- Twelve GOP senators joined all their Democratic colleagues to pass a resolution disapproving Trump’s “emergency” declaration, but the measure fell short of a veto-proof majority. Erica Werner, Seung Min Kim and John Wagner report: “The disapproval resolution passed the House last month, so the 59-to-41 Senate vote will send the measure to the president’s desk. Trump intends to use the first veto of his presidency to strike it down ... In the end, only one Republican who is up for reelection next year — Susan Collins of Maine — voted for the disapproval resolution. In addition to Collins and [Rob Portman (Ohio)], the other GOP senators voting for the resolution were Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Roy Blunt (Mo.), Mike Lee (Utah), Jerry Moran (Kan.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Rand Paul (Ky.), Mitt Romney (Utah), Marco Rubio (Fla.), Patrick J. Toomey (Pa.) and Roger Wicker (Miss.).”
-- Some Republicans said Trump’s strategy of framing the vote in personal terms, rather than providing a legal rationale for the declaration, may have prevented the White House from limiting the number of GOP defections. Seung Min Kim and Josh Dawsey report: “Trump’s personal pleas and pressure were among a series of missed opportunities and missteps by the White House that contributed to a defeat notably worse than the administration had hoped for, according to officials and lawmakers familiar with the efforts. … The administration, for example, failed to give opposing GOP senators legal opinions, project details and other information that they had requested about the national emergency, according to lawmakers and Capitol Hill aides. Vice President Pence was also unable or unwilling to make commitments on behalf of the president even while serving as Trump’s main emissary to negotiate with Republicans, people familiar with the debate said.”
-- Spooked by the threat of a Trump-backed primary challenge, Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) flip-flopped and decided to vote against the resolution after writing an op-ed explaining why he strongly supported it. Paul Kane writes. “Tillis’s actions highlighted a hardening reality in Washington: Republicans who have real near-term political skin in the game are not willing to stand up to him. ... Of the 22 Senate Republicans on the ballot in November 2020, Trump went 20 for 22 on the Yemen resolution and 21 for 22 on the border wall. Chief among those is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who pulled a slightly lower-profile version of Tillis’s reversal. McConnell initially opposed the emergency declaration and privately warned Trump in a White House meeting that he would face a significant bloc of GOP defections. Like most Republicans facing a reelection in 2020, McConnell’s most vulnerable election would come in a GOP primary, particularly if Trump does not vociferously support the 34-year veteran of the Senate.
“There’s no way to win reelection if you don’t first win the GOP primary, so even Republicans who could face difficult general elections lined up behind Trump rather than risk his wrath. Sens. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) voted to support Trump this week. ... Gardner simply kept his head down for weeks, avoiding a public position until Thursday.”
-- The Denver Post, which provided pivotal support for Gardner during the 2014 Senate race, said its endorsement was a mistake. From a blistering editorial in today’s paper: “We believed he’d be a statesman. … We see now that was a mistake — consider this our resolution of disapproval. Gardner has been too busy walking a political tight rope to be a leader. He has become precisely what we said in our endorsement he would not be: ‘a political time-server interested only in professional security.’ … We no longer know what principles guide the senator and regret giving him our support in a close race against Mark Udall.”
-- Meanwhile, Rep. Bob Bishop (R-Utah) joined the group of Republicans leveling hyperbolic attacks against the Green New Deal. He said the ideas within it are “tantamount to genocide.” It escalated from there. Antonia Noori Farzan reports: “Bishop argued that the plan had been formulated by people who ‘judge distance not in miles but in subway stops,’ an apparent reference to the resolution’s House sponsor, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). ‘The genesis of this concept is really coming from Easterners who live in an urban setting and have no view of what it’s like in the rest of America,’ he said. After the news conference was over, Axios reporter Amy Harder pointed out that the term ‘genocide’ refers to the deliberate mass murder of a particular national or ethnic group, and asked Bishop how the Green New Deal fit that definition. ‘I’m an ethnic,’ Bishop said. ‘I’m a Westerner.’ ‘And you think the Green New Deal is going to kill you?’ Harder asked. ‘If you actually implement everything they want to,’ Bishop replied. ‘Killing would be positive.’”
THERE’S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:
-- The House voted 420-0 to pass a resolution urging the Justice Department to publicly release all of special counsel Bob Mueller’s report, but Trump allies blocked it from getting an up-or-down vote in the Senate. Karoun Demirjian reports: “The resolution by itself cannot force Attorney General William P. Barr to publish more of the report than he intends to — and that is why even some of the Republicans supporting it complained that the measure was a waste of time. … The resolution is not expected to get a vote in the GOP-led Senate, where Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) tried to arrange one Thursday, but he was foiled by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).”
-- A New York appellate court ruled that a defamation lawsuit against Trump by former “Apprentice” contestant Summer Zervos should be allowed to proceed. She's one of more than a dozen women who have accused Trump of sexual misconduct. Felicia Sonmez and David A. Fahrenthold report: “The ruling, which Trump’s lawyers plan to appeal, means that attorneys for Zervos may have the opportunity to question Trump under oath in the coming months. The current schedule sets a deadline of June 28 for depositions, with document and electronic discovery expected to be concluded by the end of July.”
-- Unsealed documents from a Russian businessman’s libel lawsuit against BuzzFeed News have shed new light on how the DNC emails were hacked during the 2016 election. Rosalind S. Helderman, Tom Hamburger and Ellen Nakashima report: “The documents include a forensic analysis by a former top official in the FBI’s cybercrime division, which concluded that a Web server company owned by a Russian Internet entrepreneur was used by Russian operatives to hack Democratic Party leaders. The Russian businessman, Aleksej Gubarev, has denied involvement in the hack, and his lawyers argued for months that the forensic analysis should be kept under seal and hidden from public view. … A federal judge sided with BuzzFeed in the libel suit in December. … Gubarev has appealed the decision, but in the meantime the New York Times asked that the judge unseal evidence that had been submitted in the case.”
-- The top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee released the transcript from a closed-door interview with former FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok in which he argued that text messages he sent expressing disdain for Trump have been misconstrued to be more disparaging than intended. Karoun Demirjian, Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett report: “In the June interview, Strzok also vehemently objected to the Justice Department inspector general’s conclusion that he had prioritized the bureau’s Trump investigation, which he led, over an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, which he joined midstream. Strzok argued that he ‘never took resources off one and put it onto the other’ but that ‘a hostile foreign power … seeking to clandestinely influence our presidential election’ was a far graver threat than the charge that Clinton was mishandling classified information.”
-- Roger Stone’s trial has been scheduled to start on Nov. 5. Spencer S. Hsu reports: “U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington said the trial would be expected to last at least two weeks on the accusations that Stone lied about his efforts to gather information about hacked Democratic Party emails during the 2016 presidential campaign.”
-- Facebook’s top product executive is leaving the company, marking the social media giant’s highest-level departure as it continues to grapple with the fallout of mishandling user data during the 2016 election. Elizabeth Dwoskin reports: “[Chris] Cox’s unexpected departure, which he and [Mark] Zuckerberg announced in separate Facebook posts Thursday, comes months after Cox was promoted in a major reorganization. In May, Cox was put in charge of Facebook’s ‘family of apps,’ including Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp and Facebook itself — which together have over 2.7 billion users worldwide. These apps have been distinct until recently, when Zuckerberg announced plans to unify them with a new focus on privacy. … A person familiar with discussions at the company said Cox and [another departing executive] objected to unifying the apps.”
-- Related: Facebook blamed server issues for prolonged outages from Wednesday until Thursday afternoon on apps like Instagram and WhatsApp. (Hamza Shaban)
ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN AND WOMEN:
-- Trump drew criticism for hinting in an interview with Breitbart that his supporters could turn violent against his Democratic opponents if pushed too far. “I can tell you, I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump – I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad,” Trump said. “But the left plays it cuter and tougher.” (Aaron Blake)
-- House Democrats believe Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross still isn’t being honest about the origins of the citizenship question that the administration is trying to add to the 2020 Census. At the end of a 6 1/2-hour hearing last night, Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) gave Ross until Tuesday to produce documents or face a subpoena. Tara Bahrampour reports: “Democrats focused on emails showing that Ross discussed adding the citizenship question with Trump administration officials early in 2017. In the emails, he expressed frustration that it was not happening quickly enough, and said he would discuss it with then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions. When pressed about his emails, memos and related discussions, Ross frequently said that he didn’t remember or the discussions were confidential.
“Members of the House committee ... pointed to congressional hearings last spring at which he testified that his move to add the question came solely in response to a December 2017 request from the Justice Department. Litigation around the question later produced emails showing that Ross, who oversees the Census Bureau, had been pushing for the question for months before that. ‘You can’t lie to Congress,’ Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) said to Ross. ‘Michael Cohen lied to Congress and now he’s going to prison.’”
-- Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he would “protect” Trump if House Democrats seek the president's tax returns. The AP’s Marcy Gordon reports: “At a House Ways and Means Committee hearing, Mnuchin was asked whether he would meet a request for Trump’s past tax returns. Chairman Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., is expected to formally ask for those as Democrats seek to shed light on Trump’s financial dealings and potential conflicts of interest. ‘We will examine the request and we will follow the law ... and we will protect the president as we would protect any taxpayer’ regarding their right to privacy, Mnuchin said. … But Mnuchin did not specifically say he would turn them over.”
-- Former RNC finance chairman Steve Wynn met with Mnuchin and his team about a proposal that could reduce his personal tax burden months after he was forced to sell his stake in his casino empire amid sexual misconduct accusations. The Wall Street Journal’s Richard Rubin and Alexandra Berzon report: “Mr. Wynn met with senior Treasury officials on June 4 to discuss ‘opportunity zones,’ a break that was part of the 2017 Republican tax overhaul. The opportunity-zone program gives individuals a chance to defer and reduce capital-gains taxes if they make investments into low-income areas. Mr. Wynn … attended the meeting in the Treasury building with Daniel Kowalski, a counselor to [Mnuchin] who was helping write opportunity-zone regulations. Mr. Mnuchin stopped by the meeting to greet Mr. Wynn, according to a copy of the secretary’s calendar that the department periodically releases.”
-- Mnuchin’s work with the international film industry could pose conflict of interest concerns. The New York Times’s Alan Rappeport and Ana Swanson report: “[A]s Treasury secretary and one of the lead negotiators in trade talks with China, Mr. Mnuchin has been personally pushing Beijing to give the American film industry greater access to its markets — a change that could be highly lucrative to his former industry. While Mr. Mnuchin divested from his Hollywood film-financing firm after joining the Trump administration, he maintains ties to the industry through his wife, the actress and filmmaker Louise Linton. In 2017, Mr. Mnuchin sold his interest in the film production company StormChaser Partners to Ms. Linton, who at the time was his fiancée.”
-- Former White House staff secretary Rob Porter, who resigned after both of his ex-wives accused him of physical abuse, wrote an op-ed praising Trump’s approach to China for today’s Wall Street Journal.
-- A Miami prosecutor who helped Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta craft a lenient plea deal for alleged sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein was previously admonished for her handling of another child sexual abuse case. It turns out that Acosta was not only aware of the rebuke, but he even defended her. The Miami Herald’s Julie K. Brown reports: “The prosecutor, A. Marie Villafaña, was harshly rebuked by a federal judge in January 2007 for what he called her ‘intentional and/or serious lapse in judgment’ when she failed to explicitly inform him that the defendant, a Texas man who traveled to Florida to have sex with a 14-year-old girl, had a prior history of predatory behavior with minors, court records show. Acosta, her boss at the time, not only knew about Villafaña’s breach, but records show that he subsequently defended it.”
THE IMMIGRATION WARS:
-- ICE officials are considering phasing out family detention at the Karnes County Residential Center in Texas, a move that would lower the government’s capacity to hold migrant parents with their children. Nick Miroff and Maria Sacchetti: “ICE would instead use the Karnes facility to house easier-to-deport single adults … The Karnes facility is one of two large family ‘residential centers’ ICE operates in South Texas, with a current detainee population of 528 adults and children. Families held there would be issued notices to appear in immigration court and would then be released into the U.S. interior, according to two officials with knowledge of the discussions. … The plan under discussion comes days after the Trump administration rolled out a budget proposal with the goal of expanding the number of family detention beds to 10,000.”
-- The Congressional Hispanic Caucus called for an investigation into the Trump Organization’s use of undocumented labor, criticizing the Department of Homeland Security and calling on authorities to protect the fired workers from deportation. Joshua Partlow: “Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Tex.) and four other Democratic members of the caucus wrote a letter Tuesday to FBI Director Christopher A. Wray and to the acting inspector general of DHS. ‘Many of the Trump Organization employees have stepped forward to recount how the Trump Organization setup a pipeline to systematically obtain cheap immigrant labor and hired undocumented immigrants,’ the letter said. ‘This is clear evidence that the hiring of undocumented immigrants was not a one-time oversight but that this was done methodically and with a deliberate violation of the law. … it is critical that the victims and witnesses of the alleged criminal and civil violations be protected as material witnesses. … Some of the Trump Organization employees have been interviewed by the New York and New Jersey attorneys general’s offices in recent weeks, according to their attorney, Anibal Romero. But neither has announced a formal investigation of the company’s hiring practices.”
-- Acting defense secretary Patrick Shanahan appeared before Congress to make the case for a $750 billion defense budget, but he found himself under fire instead for the president’s decision to divert money from the military budget to build his wall. Paul Sonne reports: “Shanahan, who is hoping to receive Trump’s nomination to serve in his post on a permanent basis, sought to placate Democratic lawmakers who fumed at the Pentagon’s failure to indicate what military construction projects could be delayed.”
-- The majority of people in 18 nations surveyed by the Pew Research Center believe that immigrants strengthen their countries, rather than burdening them, including in the United States. Emily Guskin reports: “A median of 56 percent of people said immigrants were a strength to their country, while 38 percent said immigrants were a burden. In the United States, opinion didn’t differ much from countries overall … Across the countries, 50 percent said immigrants are no more to blame for crime than other groups, while 37 percent said immigrants are more to blame for crime than others. Americans were more likely to say that immigrants were not more to blame for crime … Majorities in many of the countries studied thought immigrants in their countries illegally should be deported, including 7 of the 10 European Union countries surveyed. … Americans were more divided about deportation — opinions were about split in the U.S.”
-- A high school student duped the Texas lieutenant governor, one of the state's most powerful Republicans, into posing with a sign that said “Abolish ICE.” The student and budding activist said he told Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick that he wanted him to run in 2020, then gave him a painting that had the words hidden in it. (Eli Rosenberg)
-- Beto O’Rourke spent his first day as a presidential candidate driving from town to town in Iowa. The former Texas congressman chatted with voters (in English and Spanish) and introduced himself to some who had never heard about him at all. Jenna Johnson and Matt Viser followed him around: “The day, launched by an early-morning video announcing his candidacy, was an effort to re-create the electricity of his recent run for the Senate, which made him a celebrity even as he narrowly lost. And it kicked off a test of whether the same freewheeling style can work amid the heightened pressures and scrutiny of a presidential campaign. … Throughout the day, O’Rourke introduced himself as ‘Beto from El Paso,’ took questions and began collecting stories that he built into a campaign-speech-in-the-making, modifying it from stop to stop to mention those he had just met. … O’Rourke said he plans to travel the country in the days ahead and will host a more official kickoff event in El Paso on March 30.”
-- O’Rourke told Gayle King that voting in 2020 is the best way to “resolve” Trump in his first interview after announcing his campaign. “How Congress chooses to address those set of facts and the findings which I believe [we] are soon to see from the Mueller report is up to them,” O'Rourke told King. “I think the American people are going to have a chance to decide this at the ballot box in November 2020, and perhaps that's the best way for us to resolve these outstanding questions.”
-- Important story: O’Rourke’s early political career depended on the financial backing not from liberal online donors but from wealthy conservative executives. “Born into one politically potent family and married into another, he benefited repeatedly from his relationships with ... several nationally known Republican moneymen,” Michael Scherer reports. “Several of El Paso’s richest business moguls donated to and raised money for O’Rourke’ s city council campaigns, drawn to his support for a plan to redevelop El Paso’s poorer neighborhoods. Some later backed a super PAC that would play a key role in helping him defeat an incumbent Democratic congressman. For his part, O’Rourke worked on issues that had the potential to make money for some of his benefactors. His support as a council member for the redevelopment plan, which sparked controversy at the time because it involved relocating low-income residents, many of them Hispanic, coincided with property investments by some of his benefactors. … As a congressman, O’Rourke supported a $2 billion military funding increase that benefited a company controlled by another major donor. That donor, real estate developer Woody Hunt, was friends with O’Rourke’s late father. Hunt also co-founded and funds an El Paso nonprofit organization that has employed O’Rourke’s wife since 2016.”
-- O’Rourke’s narrow Senate loss last year demonstrated how Texas is undergoing a political transformation, but it's more because of college-educated white voters than Hispanics. From the New York Times’s Nate Cohn: “Mr. O’Rourke’s strong showing had essentially nothing to do with the initial vision of a Blue Texas powered by mobilizing the state’s growing Hispanic population. The Texas electorate was only two points more Hispanic in 2018 than it was in 2012, but President Obama lost the state by 16 points in 2012, compared with Mr. O’Rourke’s 2.6-point loss. … Instead, Mr. O’Rourke’s improvement came almost exclusively from white voters, and particularly college-educated white voters. Whites probably gave him around 33 percent of their votes, up from a mere 22 percent for Mr. Obama in 2012.”
MORE ON 2020:
-- Actress Rosario Dawson confirmed that she’s dating Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and even said that she loves him. Dawson, who co-founded the Hispanic voter outreach organization Voto Latino, said she and the 2020 contender are “very much” in a relationship and called Booker “an amazing human being.” She demurred when a TMZ videographer asked if they're going to get married when she was approached at DCA. Booker said during a radio interview last month that he's got a “boo,” but he declined to say who it is. (CNN)
-- The Sanders Institute, a think tank founded by Sen. Bernie Sanders's wife and his son, is shutting down amid growing criticism that the organization blurred the lines between the Sanders family, campaigning and fundraising. From the AP's Steve Peoples and Stephen Braun: “Jane Sanders said the institute will not accept more money so long as her husband is a presidential candidate. [Sanders' son David] Driscoll and the organization’s two other employees would be laid off with no severance by the end of May, and its Burlington, Vermont, office would be closed, she said. Sanders said questions of nepotism have no merit because the senator himself played no role in the organization, which was led by an independent board of directors.”
-- Sen. Sanders (I-Vt.) pushed for the nationalization of most major U.S. industries in the 1970s, a far more radical position than he espouses now. CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski and Nathan McDermott report: “After moving to Vermont in 1968 several years after graduating college, Sanders became an active member of the left-wing Liberty Union Party. … Sanders and Liberty Union argued for nationalization of the energy industry, public ownership of banks, telephone, electric, and drug companies and of the major means of production such as factories and capital, as well as other proposals such as a 100% income tax on the highest income earners in America.”
-- One of the moms implicated in the college admissions scandal held a fundraiser for Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). Jane Buckingham, a marketing CEO who allegedly paid $50,000 to get her son into the University of Southern California, co-hosted the fundraiser in Beverly Hills, Calif., just days before being charged. (Fox News)
-- Joe Biden met privately with Stacey Abrams in D.C. The AP’s Bill Barrow reports: “A person close to Abrams confirmed the meeting, saying it was set at Biden’s request. … If Abrams doesn’t run or doesn’t win the Democratic nomination, she could be a vice presidential pick, especially if Biden or another white candidate won the nomination. … Biden endorsed Abrams’ 2018 campaign but did not come to Georgia to campaign.”
-- Trump aides keep assuring the president that Biden will not pose a threat to him in 2020. Politico’s Gabby Orr reports: “In recent weeks, Trump has peppered aides on more than one occasion for updates on how Biden is faring in early Democratic primary polls — a sign of how seriously Trump takes the potential candidacy. … Those close to the president have also calmed Trump, though, by insisting that even if Biden would be a strong general election candidate, there’s a considerable chance he won’t make it to the party’s nominating convention next July. Despite the early polling, they’ve argued the increasingly left-leaning Democratic primary electorate won’t settle on a 76-year-old white man already facing renewed scrutiny over his prior record on issues like criminal justice and race. … Some of Trump’s advisers have even compared Biden to Jeb Bush.”
-- The Post created an interactive graphic to track where each of the 2020 Democrats stand on Medicare-for-all.
-- New polling shows that most independent voters lean toward one of the two major political parties. From the Pew Research Center: “Among the public overall, 38% describe themselves as independents, while 31% are Democrats and 26% call themselves Republicans, according to Pew Research Center surveys conducted in 2018. … An overwhelming majority of independents (81%) continue to ‘lean’ toward either the Republican Party or the Democratic Party. Among the public overall, 17% are Democratic-leaning independents, while 13% lean toward the Republican Party. Just 7% of Americans decline to lean toward a party, a share that has changed little in recent years.”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
A Democratic congresswoman who co-chairs the centrist Blue Dog Coalition in the House endorsed Beto:
I proudly endorse my friend & former colleague @BetoORourke for President. Our party will benefit from his ideas, energy & pragmatism. Our country would benefit from his compassion, authenticity & unifying vision. He’s the candidate I trust with our nation’s future. Count me in! https://t.co/WPI4iWUJuV— Stephanie Murphy (@SMurphyCongress) March 14, 2019
O'Rourke's campaign launch attracted plenty of media attention:
every major cable news network is taking beto live in iowa pic.twitter.com/sTcdqWxjdM— David Mack (@davidmackau) March 14, 2019
A Post reporter noted this of O'Rourke's website:
Beto O’Rourke doesn’t seem to have any policy positions on his campaign website yet — but he does have lots of merchandise for sale. https://t.co/IU9gq62K2T— Jenna Johnson (@wpjenna) March 14, 2019
Another Post reporter provided this live look from Iowa:
Beto O’Rourke, driving himself in a Dodge Caravan while doing an interview with Radio Iowa. pic.twitter.com/SCKOnADSXl— Matt Viser (@mviser) March 14, 2019
A Texas Tribune reporter captured one question the new presidential candidate encountered:
In Fort Madison, man asks @BetoORourke how he’d distinguish himself from “that kooky guy” also appealing to young people in 2020 race. “I actually don’t know who you’re referring to, but that’s not important,” O’Rourke replies. pic.twitter.com/RGTMUTIlhk— Patrick Svitek (@PatrickSvitek) March 14, 2019
From an MSNBC reporter:
O’Rourke tells Iowans that adding judges to SCOTUS or pushing for term limits are both “ideas worth exploring.”— Garrett Haake (@GarrettHaake) March 14, 2019
It’s the kind of answer that drives his critics crazy. Folks hear what they want.
The communications director of the Democratic super PAC Priorities USA noted this of Trump's deputy press secretary:
Hogan Gidley's first name is actually John https://t.co/IDmobSKZ0L— Josh Schwerin (@JoshSchwerin) March 14, 2019
One 2020 Democrat and veteran contradicted Howard Schultz's claim that he had spent more time with the military than any other candidate:
I remember a Green Beans Coffee at the exchange at Bagram, and a decent espresso machine run by the Italian NATO element at ISAF HQ. But I don’t recall seeing any Starbucks over there... https://t.co/GOkL8Li3r8— Pete Buttigieg (@PeteButtigieg) March 14, 2019
Schultz later apologized for the comment:
A Texas congressman met with former vice president Joe Biden:
The vice president's press secretary pushed back against comments from Kamala Harris:
Hi, @SenKamalaHarris: I’m a female Senior Advisor to Mike Pence & am wondering why you are repeating this false claim? He’s elevated women to positions of leadership throughout his career & relies on their advice & counsel. Get your facts straight. https://t.co/oCTHKQpcdn— Alyssa Farah (@VPPressSec) March 14, 2019
A New York Times photographer tweeted this striking picture:
Roger Stone posted a photo of himself from outside the courthouse:
An MSNBC producer remembered his former teacher:
Birch Bayh was my teacher, taking college students through the legislative dogfights of the 60s and 70s... He was a farm boy who wrote constitutional amendments... and he remained a great friend for 15 years... RIP. pic.twitter.com/zYueuNu4Tj— Jack Bohrer (@JRBoh) March 14, 2019
A Seattle Times writer shared pictures of paintings by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D):
And the “Hamilton” creator offered this uplifting message:
Gmorning.— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) March 14, 2019
That imaginary fight you keep having in your head is taking up SO much room.
Write it out. Your most devastating line of attack. Tell it to a friend or a shrink. Or a canvas. Or chuck it.
Get it out.
You need your head and your heart for bigger things. Vamos.
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
-- BuzzFeed News, “Reddit Has Become A Battleground Of Alleged Chinese Trolls,” by Craig Silverman and Jane Lytvynenko: “Last week, a Reddit user posed a question on the Canadian news subreddit /r/onguardforthee: “Ever Wonder Why Canadian Subreddits Are Becoming Littered With Chinese Propaganda?” In their view, the reason is that Chinese government-sponsored users are engaging in a coordinated effort to spread propaganda and bury anti-China messages on Reddit. Many users agreed, saying they’ve seen threads about China downvoted or inundated with trolls posting comments they believe are in line with Chinese propaganda. … These public threads reflect growing concerns among redditors about what they say is coordinated activity on the site by pro-China accounts … and reflect intense discussions taking place behind the scenes among those who help oversee subreddits.”
-- Texas Monthly, “When Does an Accident Become a Crime?” by Michael Hall: “In Texas, it’s illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or above. But drivers can be held criminally responsible for a wreck even if they test below that level; by law, 'intoxication' means 'not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties' because of alcohol or any other substance, even noncontrolled substances, such as caffeine. It’s not illegal to drive with the mildest of buzzes, but if you get into an accident, that small amount of substance can get you into big trouble. Ultimately, it’s not always easy to figure out if a crime has been committed. Such determinations can even change from one community to another.”
-- Vulture, “Predicting how ‘SNL’ will cast the 2020 presidential hopefuls,” by Matthew Love: How you view “the Democratic Party’s nominating process for its 2020 candidate” depends “on your faith in overcrowded acts of political theater. The sheer volume of candidates who have announced their bids, launched exploratory committees, or vaguely mentioned to some friends at a party that it might be fun to ride around in a motorcade and pardon turkeys is immense. Unlike the messy Republican field of 2016 — which featured hordes of milquetoast party-liners and a few cringeworthy personalities alongside one outsize reality-show star — this year’s Democratic field is generally fiery ideologists appealing to varying factions within the party. So what’s a national, weekly, late-night variety show to do with all of this information? Prepare for the first debates while casting (or stunt-casting) the entire field, of course.”
HOT ON THE LEFT:
“Trump pledges support for health programs but his budget takes ‘legs out from underneath the system,’” from Amy Goldstein, Laurie McGinley and Lena H. Sun: “The White House’s 2020 budget request … does propose an additional $291 million as a down payment for a new HIV initiative. Yet the $4.7 trillion budget also calls for sharp spending reductions to Medicaid … Such a contradiction — giving while also taking away — runs through the budget arithmetic for many of the Trump administration’s health-care priorities. In addition to combating HIV, the president has taken aim at childhood cancer and the opioid crisis, but his budget would undermine all those efforts by shrinking the health infrastructure that people struggling with those issues rely on while throttling back national cancer research spending.”
HOT ON THE RIGHT:
“Democrats upset with Omar are seeking someone to primary her,” from the Hill: “Some Minnesota Democrats, aghast at controversial comments made by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D), are taking initial steps to recruit a candidate to run against her in next year’s primary election, seeking to buck history in one of the nation’s most progressive legislative districts. Several party leaders said they have had discussions about finding a candidate to take on Omar, just two months into her first term in Congress. … Some Democrats are eyeing Bobby Joe Champion, a state senator who has served in the legislature for a decade. Others hope to entice Minneapolis City Councilwoman Andrea Jenkins, the first openly transgender African-American woman elected to public office in the United States.”
Trump will meet with national security officials at the Pentagon and have lunch with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“I think he’s got a lot of hand movement. I said, ‘Is he crazy, or is that just the way he acts?’" — Trump on O'Rourke's announcement
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- It’s still pretty warm out there, but today might be cloudy with a chance of rain. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Today’s our warmest day for the foreseeable future, with chillier air coming in behind a cold front tonight, lasting through early week. After rain chances today, we look generally dry and sunny. We may lose the snow contest this year, though.”
-- The Capitals beat the Flyers 5-2. (Isabelle Khurshudyan)
-- Hundreds of students from D.C., Virginia and Maryland walked out of school and headed to the Capitol to protest gun violence. Morgan Smith reports: "'No more!' students chanted while holding signs that read, 'I should be writing my college essay, not my will' and 'Am I next?' The demonstration came a year to the day after thousands of students in the D.C. region participated in a national walkout to protest gun violence. ... The focus of Thursday’s demonstration was federal legislation requiring universal background checks for firearm sales that awaits a vote in the Senate, following House approval.”
-- Police arrested a man projecting the words “discrimination is wrong” onto the Rayburn House Office Building. Peter Hermann and Clarence Williams report: “The misdemeanor count against Robby Diesu, 30, marks the first time anyone involved in the group responsible for the displays has been criminally charged. The artist who heads the effort said participants have had encounters with many police agencies over the past few years. ... Robin Bell, the artist who has coordinated the unique protests, noted at least one projected phrase contained an obscenity that Trump used to describe Haiti and some African nations. Bell said he found it ironic that 'after everything we’ve done, you would think the one thing nobody would have an issue with would be “Discrimination is wrong,' a message intended for legislators debating the Equality Act, a bill to ban discrimination against the LGTBQ community.”
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Stephen Colbert joked about the Republicans who broke with Trump:
Seth Meyers took a look at the growing list of Democrats running for president:
O'Rourke shared an interesting reason broadband Internet is necessary everywhere:
Beto on rural broadband: "They can't go to Tinder and find a date tonight to find that special person who's going to make the difference in their lives." pic.twitter.com/NXqStKZPp8— Julio Rosas (@Julio_Rosas11) March 14, 2019
Two CNN hosts debated the merits of inviting Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway on air:
Cuomo interviewed Kellyanne Conway tonight. Then Cuomo and Lemon resumed their debate about whether it's worthwhile to have her on. @DonLemon: "For me, it feels beneath the dignity of this network to have someone on who just constantly lies and misconstrues things..." pic.twitter.com/OrGhdaJU2h— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) March 15, 2019
The FBI director explained why he is adding a new requirement for agents:
#FBI Director Wray describes why he has added a training requirement for new agents & intelligence analysts to visit the @Sept11Memorial in NYC: “There is no better reminder than this place of the importance of the work we do.” https://t.co/JYyXZmdVcg #911Memorial #911Museum pic.twitter.com/IvkUL0wp0W— FBI (@FBI) March 14, 2019
The Senate majority leader grew emotional and even started crying while bidding adieu to longtime communications chief Don Stewart:
And Alex Trebek gave thanks for all the messages of support he's received since his cancer diagnosis was made public: