THE BIG IDEA: Scott Walker will chair a nonprofit group that aims to enact a federal balanced-budget amendment by convincing state legislatures to call for a new constitutional convention.
The Republican is stepping back onto the national stage after he was narrowly defeated in his quest for a third term as governor of Wisconsin. He left office in January after signing controversial legislation to limit the power of his successor during a lame-duck session.
Born in 1967, Walker is only 51. We definitely haven’t heard the last of him, and he’s being strategic about how he spends these years in the wilderness. “What I was looking at was stuff I could do that’s mission oriented,” he said in an interview last night. “There’s a lot of business opportunities out there. Nothing wrong with that. But I was looking for things that were really consistent with what I worked on as governor.”
That led him to accept the new role with the Center for State-led National Debt Solutions, a 501(c)(3) non-profit. Under Article V of the Constitution, a new convention can be held to amend the founding document if two-thirds of the states request one. That’s 34 states. It’s an improbable push. No one has ever used this mechanism, though many have tried to do so on the right and the left. Until Walker did it in 2012, on the other hand, no governor in U.S. history had survived a recall election either.
Intense fights have been playing out at the state level over the past few years around whether to call a constitutional convention. In 2017, Walker supported a successful push for Wisconsin to become the 28th state to do so. Wyoming and Arizona also joined that year. But other states that had supported conventions in the past rescinded their resolutions, including Maryland and Nevada.
Walker plans to make trips to South Carolina and Minnesota during this legislative session to encourage those states to call for a convention to enact a balanced-budget amendment. This summer he hopes to visit Idaho, Montana, Kentucky and Virginia – four other top target states – to make the case. Lower on his priority list are Washington, Nevada, Maine and even Connecticut. Walker noted that he got to know a lot of local leaders around the country during his 2016 run for president and his tenure as chairman of the Republican Governors Association.
-- Walker told me he is keeping the door open to another run for statewide office in Wisconsin. He noted that Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) has said in the past that he won’t seek a third term in 2022, which would create an opening that intrigues him. He said he’s not sure if Johnson will “follow through with what he said previously.” “I would defer to him,” Walker said. “If he chose to run again, I wouldn’t run.”
He could also run against Gov. Tony Evers, the Democrat who defeated him, in a 2022 rematch. “As you know, I think six months is a lifetime in politics,” Walker said. “I’m not ruling anything out. My wife … told me, ‘Don’t pretend you wouldn’t ever running again.’”
For now, he plans to offer conservative media commentary and write a forthcoming column. He’s joined a speaker’s bureau and may guest-host a news-talk AM radio show in Milwaukee from time to time. He’s staying engaged with parochial issues important to the state. He appeared, for example, at the Wisconsin GOP’s 8th Congressional District convention this past Saturday. “I wanted to go around and thank people,” he said.
-- President Trump and congressional Republicans slashed taxes while jacking up spending during the two years they had unified control of government. This will result in annual deficits topping $1 trillion for the foreseeable future. It’s unprecedented to run such massive deficits when the economy is booming.
The national debt eclipsed $22 trillion last month. The federal government will need to spend $482 billion next year just on interest payments, more than the entire budget for Medicaid. By 2024, according to the budget released by the White House last week, the U.S. government will spend more servicing the debt than on the entire military.
-- Walker declined to directly criticize Trump or GOP leaders for their specific roles in adding to the deficit. He prefers the pox-on-all-their-houses message and to blame Washington writ large. “Washington’s got their head buried in the sand,” he said. “Both parties share a significant amount of the blame for the failure to act. Maybe one more than the other.”
He complained that both parties often come together and agree to omnibus deals that give everyone what they want. “Someone asked if I believe in bipartisanship,” he quipped. “I said it depends.”
Asked how Trump is faring generally, Walker said “substantively great.” Like many other Republicans, Walker added, “There are times I wish he would tweet or say things a hair differently.”
-- Walker noted that he had to balance the budget each of the eight years he was governor, including when the economy was still in the doldrums after the Great Recession. “It forces tough decisions,” he said. “It doesn’t allow you to push them off. … That’s been a godsend for us. … Depending on which way the pendulum swings I may not always like the decision, but at least it’s being made.”
-- I asked why Republicans are talking so much less about the debt than they did when Barack Obama was president. “You kind of have these ebbs and flows,” Walker said. “It’s like any other issue. In 2012, we weren’t talking about border security. … That doesn’t mean it wasn’t an issue. … It’s who are the voices, who are the personalities.”
He said he’s going to do everything he can to “elevate” the issue during the 2020 presidential election. “This is really going to have to be state driven,” he said.
-- A balanced-budget amendment is a less fashionable idea than it was during the 1980s and 1990s. In 1995, a proposed amendment passed the House and failed by just one vote in the Senate. Otherwise it would have gone to the states for ratification.
Liberals believe a balanced-budget amendment, if enacted, would inevitably force steep cuts to Medicare and Social Security. They also say it would worsen economic downturns by forcing the government to raise taxes and cut spending when a slowing economy results in less government revenue.
Some conservatives worry that an amendment to the Constitution would force tax increases to close the deficit because it’s too politically difficult to cut popular programs. (In columns last year, George Will made the case for a balanced-budget amendment and Catherine Rampell argued against it.)
-- Separate from the substance, if Walker got his way, there are fears among legal scholars about the possibility of a “runaway” convention that would alter our founding charter in unintended ways. After all, the first Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia was supposed to only clean up the Articles of Confederation – not toss them out and start over. There would be nothing to stop a constitutional convention, once it convened, from taking up issues far beyond its original mandate, and tiny states like Vermont or Wyoming would be on equal footing with megastates like California and Texas. This is why Antonin Scalia, among others, was against the idea.
Walker countered that 38 states – three-quarters of the country – would need to ratify any changes that a convention made to the Constitution.
-- Loren Enns, the president of the group Walker is joining, was a successful network engineer for Cisco Systems and a computer engineer for Microsoft who grew alarmed about the debt over the years. In 2015, he decided to focus full-time on the nonprofit. Enns, 46 of Clearwater, Fla., has recruited a board of directors that includes conservatives like former governor Mike Huckabee, as well as former senators Judd Gregg, George Allen and Norm Coleman. He reached out to Walker shortly after his term ended and then pitched him on joining the initiative. “It is the biggest threat that we face as a country,” Enns said.
-- Regardless of the outcome of the fight, embracing the role of fiscal hawk dovetails with – and could burnish – the national brand Walker has spent the past decade trying to cultivate. In the long-term, decrying the debt while Republicans in D.C. continue to spend like drunken sailors on shore leave could tee up a useful contrast against potential rivals who currently sit in the Senate if Walker were to run for president again in 2024, 2028 or even 2032. He will turn 65 the day before that election.
There is even a precedent. “You look way back,” Walker told me. “Ronald Reagan talked a lot about this issue between being governor of California and president.”
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- Bob Mueller obtained court-approved warrants to search the emails of Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen in July 2017, according to search warrants unsealed this morning. Devlin Barrett, Matt Zapotosky and Rosalind Helderman report: “[They] offer new insight into how Mueller and his team handed off a key part of the Cohen investigation to federal prosecutors in New York in early 2018, and how much evidence prosecutors already had against Cohen even before they searched his office, home, and hotel room in April of that year.”
-- Trump has promised an economic boom that will last for years to come, but that’s unlikely without Congress passing major new legislation, according to new estimates released this morning by the White House Council of Economic Advisers. Heather Long reports: “To achieve about 3 percent growth for the next decade, Trump would need a big infrastructure bill, more tax cuts, additional deregulation, and policies that transition more people off government aid and into full-time jobs, according to the 2019 Economic Report of the President. The report shows for the first time that the White House is predicting a lot weaker growth if all of those new policies do not come through. Growth would be about 2.5 percent in 2022 if no additional policies are implemented, according to White House calculations. By 2026, growth could fall to about 2 percent, the model suggests.
“A lot is riding on whether Trump can achieve his promised 3 percent growth. Without it, his tax cuts would add substantially more to the debt than they already have. The 3 percent White House growth prediction — which is used in the president’s budget and has been criticized by outside experts as a ‘gimmick’ — also assumes more deregulation, especially in the finance industry, and a push for ‘improving self-sufficiency’ by placing more work requirements on recipients of government aid.”
-- Trump is expected to name Mick Mulvaney as the official White House chief of staff, dropping the “acting” part of his title. Politico’s Nancy Cook reports: “It’s a recognition that Mulvaney has successfully navigated a tumultuous West Wing. The former South Carolina congressman and White House budget chief talks to the president multiple times a day and maintains good relations with Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner — Trump family members who also happen to be the White House’s two most powerful staffers — while giving them and other top staffers more leeway to operate than his predecessor, John Kelly. Mulvaney has also quietly installed roughly eight loyal aides within the West Wing. ‘He has stayed out of a lot of people’s way,’ said one senior administration official. ‘No one is saying he is killing it but staying out of people’s way has helped.’”
-- Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) took a swipe at his 2020 rivals – Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) – for “bragging” about their marijuana use. Felicia Sonmez reports: “‘We have presidential candidates and congresspeople and senators that now talk about their marijuana use almost as if it’s funny,’ he said. ‘But meanwhile, in 2017, we had more arrests for marijuana possession in this country than all the violent crime arrests combined.’ He told the crowd that he is ‘all for legalizing marijuana,’ but that it needs to be part of a broader policy shift on the issue. ‘Do not talk to me about legalizing marijuana unless in the same breath you talk to me about expunging the records of millions of people that are suffering with not being able to find a job,’ he said, prompting applause from the crowd.”
GET SMART FAST:
Dutch authorities arrested a suspect in the shooting on a tram in Utrecht, which left three dead and five injured. After an hours-long manhunt, police arrested a 37-year-old Turkish-born man, Gokmen Tanis, who they said was the main suspect. They also took into custody another person they said was connected to the attack. Prime Minister Mark Rutte said terrorism is a possible motive. (Michael Birnbaum)
Labor economist Alan Krueger, who advised Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, died by suicide at 58. Krueger was well-known for using empirical data to draw conclusions about everyday life, including the rising price of concert tickets and the effect of classroom size on a child's education. (Harrison Smith)
Rick Singer, the admissions adviser at the center of the massive college cheating scandal, wrote two college guides fundamentally at odds with the schemes he pursued. For example, Singer assures students that universities don’t care much about SAT scores, an odd assertion from someone who collected five-digit bribes to help clients’ children cheat on the standardized test. (Stephanie Merry)
One in three students in Harvard’s incoming class are legacies. That means people with a close relative who went to Harvard were three times more likely to get in. (CNBC)
The National Enquirer reportedly paid Michael Sanchez $200,000 for texts and photos proving the affair between his sister, Lauren Sanchez, and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. Sanchez denied sharing explicit pictures of Bezos, who owns The Post, but declined to comment on whether he provided other evidence to the Enquirer. (Wall Street Journal)
Nevada is considering allowing police to use technology described as a “breathalyzer for texting” to curb distracted driving. Critics, however, say the technology raises privacy concerns and could violate constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure. (Hamza Shaban)
Scientists are debating whether to support state proposals to ban sunscreens containing chemicals that may damage coral reefs. Some experts say barring the sale of sunscreens with oxybenzone and octinoxate could make the difference in saving endangered corals, but others argue that such bans will be irrelevant unless governments address the larger threat of climate change. (Rebecca Beitsch)
Nearly 100 female economists said they have have been sexually assaulted by a colleague. A report compiled by the American Economic Association showed that half of the women surveyed believe they’ve been treated unfairly because of their gender. (New York Times)
Two local National Weather Service offices were forced to go offline because of the “bomb cyclone” hitting the Plains and Midwest. The NWS office in Omaha, Neb., remains abandoned, but its employees temporarily relocated in order to continue monitoring the state’s historic flooding. (Matthew Cappucci)
Facebook said its efforts to supply users with local news are being stunted by the closures of many smaller outlets. The social media giant said that 40 percent of Americans live in places where there is too little original local reporting to support the service, data that the company intends to share with major universities that are studying news deserts. (AP)
MySpace lost 12 years worth of photos, videos and audio files uploaded by users. The company, which was the most popular social media site between 2005 and 2008, blamed a migration error. (CNN)
Kevin Tsujihara, who has run Warner Bros. since 2013 and just scored a big promotion a few weeks ago, is being pushed out in the wake of allegations he sought to find acting roles for a young woman, Charlotte Kirk, with whom he was having an affair. The Hollywood Reporter revealed Tsujihara involved executives and filmmakers in his effort. (Steven Zeitchik)
ESPN accidentally posted the NCAA women’s tournament bracket hours before it was set to be revealed. The network said an “unfortunate technical error” led to the bracket being shown on air, forcing ESPN to push up its selection show by two hours. Notre Dame, Louisville, Mississippi State and Baylor received the No. 1 seeds. (Ava Wallace and Des Bieler)
Hot temperature records have fallen twice as often as cold ones over the last 20 years, the AP found. In a stable climate, the numbers should be roughly equal but the weather records reviewed were consistent with scientists’ assessment that the changes are an effect of human-caused climate change. (AP)
An endangered orangutan was shot 74 times and, though she survived, she lost her baby and was left blind. Villagers in Indonesia encountered the wounded orangutan days after she and her baby were attacked and transported them to a doctor, where the baby died of malnutrition after it was unable to nurse from its wounded mother. (Angela Fritz)
Plastic keeps ending up in the bellies of whales -- and it’s killing them. An autopsy performed recently on a dead whale found more than 88 pounds of waste inside, including grocery bags, banana plantation sacks and garbage bags. (Deanna Paul)
FALLOUT FROM THE MOSQUE MASSACRE:
-- Trump still has not directly condemned the white supremacy invoked by the alleged perpetrator of the New Zealand shooting at two mosques. Nor has the president expressed explicit sympathy with Muslims around the globe, highlighting his fraught and combative relationship with Islam. Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey report: “By Monday morning, Trump still had not heeded the plea of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern — whom he spoke with on the phone Friday — to offer his nation’s ‘sympathy and love for all Muslim communities.’ But the president had contorted himself into a victim of the tragedy, griping on Twitter: ‘The Fake News Media is working overtime to blame me for the horrible attack in New Zealand.’ … The president has a long history of disparaging Muslims and other minorities, while simultaneously refusing to forcefully condemn white supremacy and violent nationalism.
- "One former senior administration official said Trump often associated Muslims with terrorism and rehashed grim Muslim terrorist attacks, even in private. ‘He thinks, and says sometimes, that Muslims are taking over Europe,’ this person said.
- “In a broader planning meeting, administration officials briefly considered holding a roundtable featuring persecuted religious minorities — Muslims, as well as Christians and Jews — but the idea was scuttled when the group decided they couldn’t pull off such an event on short notice, a White House official said.”
-- In contrast to her boss, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen connected the New Zealand attack to recent acts of racist violence in the United States. Bloomberg News’s Daniel Flatley reports: “‘We, too, have seen the face of such evil with attacks in places such as Charlottesville, Pittsburgh, and Charleston,’ Nielsen said in a speech at George Washington University in Washington. … Nielsen on Monday pledged that her department would seek to prevent attacks like the New Zealand incident. … ‘We spend more and more of our time talking about domestic terrorism,’ she said.”
-- The House Judiciary Committee is planning to hold a hearing in early April on the rise of white nationalism. The Daily Beast’s Erin Banco and Sam Stein report: “Though plans are still being finalized, the committee expects to bring in officials from within the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI for questioning on the rise of white nationalism in the U.S and the efforts the agencies are currently adopting to combat it.”
-- New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has won praise for her handling of the tragedy. Anna Fifield reports: “She swiftly labeled the attacks ‘terrorism’ and bluntly called an Australian lawmaker’s suggestion of a link between Muslim immigration and violence ‘a disgrace.’ … When she went to Christchurch on Saturday, a day after the attacks, Ardern visited members of the refugee and Muslim community. Dressed in black and wearing a Muslim-style headscarf known as a hijab, she tearfully told them that the whole country was ‘united in grief.’ Wearing hijab was ‘a sign of respect,’ wrote Negar Mortazavi, an Iranian American journalist and commentator. … Many people also praised her pledge to cover the funeral costs of all 50 victims and offer financial assistance to the families, as well as her swift action on gun control.”
-- In her first speech to parliament since the shooting, Adern said the gunman should not receive the publicity he's seeking. "That's why you will never hear me mention his name," said Ardern. "He is a terrorist, he is a criminal, he is an extremist. But he will, when I speak, be nameless." (NPR)
-- New Zealanders mourned the mosque victims by performing the haka, a ceremonial dance of the country’s Maori people. Jennifer Hassan and Emily Tamkin report: “In particularly evocative haka tributes, students, bikers and other groups chanted in unison, channeling their grief, shock and sadness into a physical act that symbolized respect for the victims. Video footage of the tributes was widely shared on social media, where many hailed the haka’s power and beauty.”
-- Members of the Tree of Life synagogue, which lost 11 congregants in an October mass shooting, have raised thousands of dollars for the New Zealand mosques. (Alex Horton)
THE IMMIGRATION WARS:
-- Acting defense secretary Patrick Shanahan sent Congress a list of military projects that could be delayed to free up $3.6 billion for Trump’s border wall. Paul Sonne and Erica Werner reports: “The $12.9 billion pool of initiatives includes military construction projects approved and appropriated by Congress but not yet contracted out by the Pentagon. Of those, projects that involve military housing or that carry award dates before Sept. 30, 2019, won’t be touched, the statement said. … The projects on the list run the gamut, including a hangar for drones at Kunsan Air Base in South Korea and a wastewater treatment plant at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. … Many of the projects are updates to facilities that affect daily military life on bases — dining halls, schools, fire stations, medical facilities, roads and parking lots.”
-- Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) was disinvited from a Lincoln Day dinner in his home state because he voted for the resolution disapproving of Trump’s emergency declaration. Felicia Sonmez reports: “The Christian County Republican Central Committee rescinded its invitation to Blunt to attend next month’s Lincoln/Trump Day Dinner in Ozark, Mo. … Blunt was one of 12 Republicans in the Senate to defy Trump and vote in favor of a resolution overturning his declaration of a national emergency at the border. In an email to Blunt’s office quoted by the Kansas City Star, Christian County Republican Central Committee member Wanda Martens wrote that she was ‘so disappointed in [Blunt] now that I can hardly speak.’ … The ‘yes’ vote by Blunt in particular caught many by surprise. The No. 4 Senate Republican was the only member of the chamber’s GOP leadership to back the resolution.”
-- George W. Bush, speaking at a naturalization ceremony, said we must “never forget that immigration is a blessing and a strength.” Felicia Sonmez reports: “‘America’s elected representatives have a duty to regulate who comes in and when,’ the former president said. ‘In meeting this responsibility, it helps to remember that America’s immigrant history made us who we are. … Bush, who left office in 2009, said that he regretted that his administration’s efforts at comprehensive immigration reform ‘came up short.’ He urged policymakers in Washington to ‘dial down the rhetoric’ and work toward modernizing the country’s immigration laws."
-- The Supreme Court is divided over a Republican-drawn plan for legislative districts in Virginia that raised suspicions of discrimination against black voters in a lower court. Robert Barnes report: “Several justices wondered whether the case was properly before the Supreme Court. One seemed to want a delay that would effectively leave the current map in place for this fall’s election. … A panel of lower-court judges ruled last year that 11 Virginia House of Delegates districts were racially gerrymandered and ordered a new map to correct them. … The first issue for the court was whether the Republican-led House had the legal standing to appeal the panel’s decision. Virginia’s governor and attorney general, who are Democrats, say it does not, and the Department of Justice agreed with them. So, it seemed, did Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor. … Conservative justices seemed skeptical of the lower court’s decision that the House leadership had taken race into consideration too much.”
-- The justices accepted two key criminal justice cases for next term, including one questioning whether the UConstitution requires unanimous juries for criminal convictions. Robert Barnes reports: “Louisiana and Oregon do not require unanimity for major crimes, and attorneys representing defendants convicted in those states for years have urged the Supreme Court to revisit the question. … The Louisiana case was brought by Evangelisto Ramos, convicted of second-degree murder in 2016 on a 10-to-2 jury vote and sentenced to life in prison. His attorneys said Louisiana’s law was a Jim Crow attempt to diminish the impact of African Americans serving on juries.”
The other case, Kahler v. Kansas, asks whether a state may abolish the insanity defense. James Kraig Kahler “was convicted and sentenced to death for killing his wife, Karen, his daughters Lauren and Emily, and Karen’s grandmother in 2009. Kahler’s attorneys argued he was so mentally ill he did not understand his actions. But, ‘in Kansas, along with four other states, it is not a defense to criminal liability that mental illness prevented the defendant from knowing his actions were wrong,’ Washington lawyer Jeffrey T. Green told the Supreme Court.”
But the court turned down the case of a Georgia death-row inmate convicted of killing his sister-in-law and raping his estranged wife but who discovered that a juror in the case harbored racist sentiments. The justices also refused to take the case against a bed-and-breakfast owner who declined to offer a room to a lesbian couple.
-- The high court also said it will consider whether the Beltway sniper, Lee Boyd Malvo, can challenge his sentence of life in prison without parole. Malvo was 17 when he and John Allen Muhammad, who was executed in 2009, killed 10 people in a series of sniper attacks around the D.C. area. The Supreme Court’s recent rulings on juvenile murderers, which are retroactive, could trigger a new sentencing for Malvo. (Robert Barnes)
THERE’S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:
-- Federal authorities raided Elliott Broidy’s office last summer in connection with an investigation into whether the former Republican National Committee deputy finance chairman attempted to sell his influence with the Trump administration to foreign officials. ProPublica’s Robert Faturechi and Justin Elliott obtained a sealed search warrant: “Agents were authorized to use the megadonor’s hands and face to unlock any phones that required fingerprint or facial scans. … [The warrant] also shows that the government took a more aggressive approach with the Trump ally than was previously known, entering his office and removing records … The search warrant cites three potential crimes that authorities are investigating: conspiracy, money laundering and violations of the law barring covert lobbying on behalf of foreign officials.”
The warrant also appears to connect Broidy for the first time to the Miami Beach club promoter Joel Rouseau, linked to a shadowy company called Intelligent Resources: “There is a company by that name incorporated in Miami Beach by a Joel Rousseau … The search warrant does not describe Rousseau or Intelligent Resources’ role in the case. Rousseau’s Instagram account shows him bouncing from Rio to Paris to Ibiza, frequently surrounded by models. … Filings in a court case over unpaid taxes describe Rousseau as an ‘entrepreneur’ with income swinging from under $1,000 for 2009 to over $2 million in 2013. He paid a long-standing bill for back taxes and penalties of more than $700,000 in late 2017, the filings show.”
-- Deutsche Bank has tried to downplay its relationship with Trump. After he won the 2016 election, the German bank shifted into damage-control mode in a bid to tamp down scrutiny of its deals with the president. The New York Times’s David Enrich reports: “Deutsche Bank officials have quietly argued to regulators, lawmakers and journalists that Mr. Trump was not a priority for the bank or its senior leaders and that the lending was the work of a single, obscure division. But interviews with more than 20 current and former Deutsche Bank executives and board members, most of them with direct knowledge of the Trump relationship, contradict the bank’s narrative. ... Mr. Trump and Deutsche Bank were deeply entwined, their symbiotic bond born of necessity and ambition on both sides: a real estate mogul made toxic by polarizing rhetoric and a pattern of defaults, and a bank with intractable financial problems and a history of misconduct."
-- The Justice Department might soon decide whether it will prosecute a former Obama White House counsel with ties to Paul Manafort as part of its crackdown on illegal foreign lobbying. The Times’s Kenneth P. Vogel and Katie Benner report: “The case involving the lawyer, Gregory B. Craig, was transferred in January from federal prosecutors in New York to those in Washington … The investigation centers on whether Mr. Craig should have disclosed work he did in 2012 — while he was a partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom — on behalf of the Russia-aligned government of Viktor F. Yanukovych, then the president of Ukraine. The work was steered to Mr. Craig by Paul Manafort, who was then a political consultant collecting millions of dollars from clients in former Soviet states. … Mr. Craig, 74, would be the first Democrat to be charged in a case spinning out of the special counsel’s investigation.”
-- British political consultants who worked for Trump’s campaign allegedly covered up Cambridge Analytica secrets. The Daily Beast’s Nico Hines reports: “The High Court in London heard on Monday that Cambridge Analytica was up to its old tricks from beyond the grave—by surreptitiously trying to halt investigations that could expose allegedly nefarious tactics before the company was shut down for good. … A lawyer representing a New York professor, who believes his private data was misused by the notorious campaign operatives, claims Cambridge Analytica’s data secrets are being shielded from justice and exposure by administrators in the pay of a shadow company set up by a band of executives linked to the Trump campaign veterans.”
-- White House lawyers believe they will get to review in advance any version of Bob Mueller's report that Attorney General William Barr plans to submit to Congress. CNN’s Pamela Brown, Jeremy Diamond, Kevin Liptak and Sarah Westwood report: “The attorneys want the White House to have an opportunity to claim executive privilege over information drawn from documents and interviews with White House officials. … Justice Department lawyers could advise [the president] against certain assertions if they don't feel it's legally defensible. If Trump does assert executive privilege, the decision could be litigated in court if it's challenged, which Democrats would almost certainly do."
-- A USA Today-Suffolk poll shows that Trump's relentless attacks on Mueller's probe have eroded public trust slightly in recent months, as more Americans agree with Trump’s characterization of the probe as a “witch hunt.” USA Today’s Susan Page and Deborah Barfield Berry report: “Support for the House of Representatives to seriously consider impeaching the president has dropped since last October by 10 percentage points, to 28 percent. … Twenty-eight percent say they have a lot of trust in former FBI director Mueller's investigation to be fair and accurate. That's the lowest level to date and down 5 points since December. In comparison, 30 percent express a lot of trust in Trump's denials, the highest to date. … Fifty percent say they agree with Trump's assertion that the special counsel's investigation is a ‘witch hunt.’” Trump touted the poll in a tweet yesterday.
-- The last prosecutor who oversaw Michael Flynn’s plea deal has left Mueller’s office, signaling the special counsel is unlikely to bring more charges against the former national security adviser. Yahoo News’s Luppe B. Luppen reports: “The end of [Zainab] Ahmad’s detail is sure to be seen as another indication that the special counsel’s investigation is winding down. … Ahmad and Brandon Van Grack together signed Flynn’s guilty plea agreement in November 2017. … Van Grack left the special counsel’s office earlier this year and was recently appointed the head the Justice Department’s foreign influence unit.”
-- Flynn’s family members are publicly clashing over QAnon, the conspiracy theory whose believers have thrown their support behind the disgraced ex-general. The Daily Beast’s Will Sommer reports: “Many QAnon fans, who have seized on a series of internet clues posted by the anonymous Q to imagine a world in which Trump is engaged in a secret war against high-ranking Democratic pedophiles, think Flynn is, in fact, secretly working with Mueller to help Trump defeat the deep state. … Because of Flynn’s role in QAnon lore, believers of the conspiracy theory are desperate for him to confirm that QAnon is real. But Flynn has never discussed the conspiracy theory publicly. Into that void, his family members have stepped—but not with a unified voice. Instead, they’ve come down on opposite sides of the conspiracy, with his siblings Joseph Flynn and Barbara Redgate eagerly signaling support to QAnon believers, and his son Michael Flynn Jr. becoming a vocal QAnon skeptic.”
OVERSIGHT FROM THE NEW CONGRESS:
-- House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) said his panel has already received tens of thousands of documents for its investigation into whether Trump has abused his presidential power. Rachael Bade reports: “Recipients of the requests had until Monday to respond to dozens of questions pertaining to such issues as Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, hush-payments for women alleging affairs with the president and the firing of former FBI director James B. Comey. … The panel declined to specify which Trump officials, agencies and associates had answered the document requests. … Nadler said in the statement that the panel is still negotiating with many of the document-request recipients. Some have asked for subpoenas as well, the panel said.”
-- Senior House Democrats asked the FBI to launch a counter-intelligence investigation into Cindy Yang, the GOP donor who founded the Florida massage parlor allegeldy frequented by Bob Kraft and who has apparently been trying to sell access to Trump and his advisers. Karoun Demirjian reports: “In a letter to the heads of the FBI, national intelligence agencies and Secret Service, the top Intelligence and Judiciary committee Democrats in the Senate and House asked for investigations into ‘credible allegations of potential human trafficking, as well as unlawful foreign lobbying, campaign finance and other activities’ by Li ‘Cindy’ Yang, a naturalized U.S. citizen from China. … Yang operates a company called GY US Investments, which offered prospective clients a chance to rub elbows with Trump and other powerful politicians through dinners, fundraisers and other events — including at Mar-a-Lago.”
-- Civil liberties groups are urging the House Judiciary Committee to investigate whether the National Security Agency has overstepped its bounds on collecting Americans’ data. Ellen Nakashima reports: “The groups want Congress to investigate whether the government has exceeded the limits imposed by lawmakers on the use of what is known as Section 215 of the Patriot Act. That authority is due to expire in December."
-- Beto O’Rourke has so far avoided specifics on the campaign trail as he encourages Democrats in early voting states to suggest their own solutions to the problems facing America. Jenna Johnson reports: “In the first five days of his campaign, O’Rourke asked voters to shape him into the presidential candidate they want him to be, to help him draft a vision for America. He’s operating without a campaign manager and with an often-exhausted skeleton staff, driving himself from Iowa to New Hampshire in a rented minivan and appearing at dozens of hastily organized events. … O’Rourke has heavily focused not on specifics but on two sentiments: positivity and humility. … O’Rourke, while not completely void of policy ideas, spends much more time detailing the challenges facing the country than suggesting fixes.”
-- The executive director of the Louisiana GOP was arrested in New Orleans this weekend for allegedly shoving a police officer on his wedding night. The Baton Rouge Advocate’s Ramon Antonio Vargas reports: “According to court records, a hotel manager and a police officer had asked GOP official Andrew Bautsch, 31, to leave an unnamed establishment at the Pontchartrain Hotel in the 2000 block of St. Charles Avenue about 1:30 a.m. Saturday. But Bautsch allegedly would not get onto an elevator leading out. The officer who arrested Bautsch was a member of the Orleans Levee District police force working an off-duty security detail at the hotel. That policeman booked Bautsch — apparently still dressed in his tuxedo — on municipal counts of criminal trespassing, resisting police and battery on an officer.” The state party chairman is standing by Bautsch and said he will contest the charges.
-- Another top adviser to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) who left her office over sexual harassment allegations continued to be paid for months, according to the Washington Examiner’s Naomi Lim and Alana Goodman: “Marc Brumer, 32, the New York Democrat's communications director, resigned from Gillibrand's staff in spring 2017 after making at least one sexist remark that distressed and offended a more junior woman who worked as a scheduler, two former Gillibrand aides [said]. But Brumer continued to be paid despite his misconduct. He was not dismissed and was kept on Gillibrand's staff. He remained on the senator's payroll ‘for about three months after the incident, even though he didn’t do any work,’ one former aide said.”
-- Gillibrand defended her office’s handling of internal sexual harassment complaints during an MSNBC town hall. Politico’s Elena Schneider reports: “The New York Democrat [said] that the Senate staffer’s allegations ‘did not rise to sexual harassment, but we did find evidence of derogatory comments,’ adding that her senior aide Abbas Malik, who allegedly made unwanted sexual advances, ‘was punished.’"
-- On MSNBC, Gillibrand also expressed regrets for her "A" rating from the NRA when she represented a conservative House district. The Detroit Free Press’s Kathleen Gray reports: “‘My community didn’t have the gun violence, so the biggest issue was hunting rights,’ she said. ‘My mother didn't just cook the Thanksgiving turkey, she shot the Thanksgiving turkey too.’ Gillibrand, who grew up in upstate New York, said she supports universal background checks for gun purchases, restrictions on high-magazine ammunition clips and getting money out of politics so that gun manufacturers can't buy the support of politicians. While she accepts money from political action committees, she said she wants to switch to a system where campaigns are publicly financed.”
-- During her own CNN town hall last night in Jackson, Miss., Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said she backs a congressional proposal for a reparations study. Politico’s Alex Thompson reports: “‘I love the idea of this congressional commission,’ she said at Jackson State, a historically black university. ‘I believe it’s time to start the national, full-blown conversation about reparations.’” The bill Warren was referring to was reintroduced by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tex.) earlier this year and would “make recommendations concerning any form of apology and compensation to begin the long delayed process of atonement for slavery,” according to Lee."
-- Warren also called for an end to the Electoral College. The Times’s Astead Herndon reports: “‘I believe we need a constitutional amendment that protects the right to vote for every American citizen and makes sure that vote gets counted,’ Ms. Warren said in response to a question about voter disenfranchisement. ‘We need to put some federal muscle behind that, and we need to repeal every one of the voter suppression laws that is out there.’ She then noted that most presidential candidates never campaign in Mississippi or her home state of Massachusetts during a general election because those are not battleground states in the Electoral College."
-- The Los Angeles Times is the latest major publication to scrutinize Joe Biden’s long voting record and highlight fundamental differences with today’s Democratic Party. Janet Hook runs through some of the apostasies: “[Biden] voted for a measure aimed at outlawing gay marriage in the 1990s. … He eulogized Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.), who rose to prominence as a segregationist. He backed the Iraq war. Many of Biden’s positions were well within the mainstream of the Democratic Party at the time he took them. But the party is now far more sensitive to discrimination against gays, sexual harassment and racial inequality than when Biden first came to Washington. … Biden’s record, even though he has reversed himself on some issues, provides ammunition to skeptics who see him as a politician of another era — a beloved figure, but one whose time has come and gone.”
-- Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) is brushing off concerns about her mistreatment of employees. “I would first point to that over 60 of our former staff came together, everyone from chiefs of staff to people on the frontline that worked with me, that were in the car with me all day and said that they had a good experience working in our office,” Klobuchar told NPR for an interview that aired this morning. “Secondly, I do have high standards. I do push people hard. I have high standards of myself of our staff and also for our nation. And so that is the way I'm going to look at this going forward. And that is - I can always do better and I will.”
-- Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) might challenge John Cornyn (R-Texas) for his Senate seat, and Cornyn already has an attack plan prepared. The Star-Telegramp’s Andrea Drusch reports: “Cornyn’s team plans to focus on votes Castro took against bills providing aid for Texans impacted by Hurricane Harvey — at times separating Castro from other Texas Democrats. It also highlights places where the San Antonio Democrat, who hasn’t faced a Republican challenger since 2014, sided with the liberal wing of his party on issues such as immigration and the environment. Castro ‘is the most liberal member from Texas — even more than Beto,’ said Cornyn’s campaign manager John Jackson, ‘The more Texans learn about his record the less they’re going to like.’”
-- A private meeting between Muslim and Jewish House Democrats showcased how hard it has been for lawmakers trying to overcome a rift over Rep. Ilhan Omar's (D-Minn.) comments on Israel. Rachael Bade and Mike DeBonis report: “Suddenly, Rep. Dean Phillips, a Jewish Democrat, shattered a moment meant to be about listening and learning — not politics. … Phillips told [Omar] that she had to apologize and said the group should publicly affirm Israel’s right to exist and protect itself. … Rep. Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), a Palestinian American who is critical of the Israeli government’s treatment of the Palestinians, grew emotional and started to cry as she spoke of her grandmother’s suffering in the West Bank at the hands of Israelis. ‘She would treat you like a grandson,’ she said to Phillips.”
-- Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) says he is suing Twitter for "defamation and negligence, alleging that the social media platform “knowingly acted as a vessel for opposition research” and censors conservative voices." But some questioned whether the lawsuit was a "publicity stunt," per The Post's Allyson Chiu.
-- Fox News’s opaque handling of complaints against hosts Jeanine Pirro and Tucker Carlson highlights how the network tries to balance appeasing advertisers and pleasing viewers, Erik Wemple writes. “Fox News wants to show advertisers that it’s serious about countering the hatred that so often surfaces on its programs. That’s good business. Fox News also wants to avoid angering the legions of Trump fans who tune in for the overreaching commentary. That’s good business, too. Or they’re a sign of weakness, as the No. 1 fan of Fox News believes. That’s why Carlson and Pirro have remained defiant and unrepentant.”
-- A new poll found that New York voters are against Amazon canceling its planned headquarters in Queens and many blame Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) for the company’s decision. The Siena College Research Institute reports on its latest poll: “By a 67-21 percent margin, New Yorkers say that Amazon cancelling its planned second headquarters in Queens was bad for New York. … ‘More people think that Amazon, Governor Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio, the State Senate, and local Queens activists were villains in this saga than they were heroes. However, voters say the biggest villain was Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Only 12 percent call her hero, while 38 percent label her a villain,’ [pollster Steven] Greenberg said.” The poll also showed Ocasio-Cortez has a negative 31-44 percent favorability rating.
-- Of the 895 spots available, only seven black students got into New York City’s highly selective Stuyvesant High School. The Times’s Eliza Shapiro reports: “These numbers come despite Mayor Bill de Blasio’s vow to diversify the specialized high schools, which have long been seen as a ticket for low-income and immigrant students to enter the nation’s best colleges and embark on successful careers. But Mr. de Blasio’s proposal to scrap the entrance exam for the schools and overhaul the admissions process has proved so divisive that the state’s most prominent politicians, from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to [AOC], have mostly avoided taking a definitive position."
-- The alleged murderer of a New York mob boss had the words“MAGA Forever” scrawled on his hand as he appeared in court. Anthony Comello has been charged with the first murder of an NYC crime boss in more than 30 years, a killing investigators believe might not be related to organized crime. (NJ.com)
-- An employee with the Kansas Department of Transportation was fired after using one of the agency’s official Twitter accounts to call Trump a “delusional Communist.” From Deanna Paul: “‘You know it’s Communist countries that try to control media, right?’ the state’s south central agency posted. The message followed Trump’s criticism of Fox News anchors Arthel Neville and Leland Vittert, asking whether they had been ‘trained by CNN before their ratings collapse.’"
-- White House staffers were searching for clues on what set off the president's weekend Twitter spree. The Times's Annie Karni, Katie Rogers and Maggie Haberman report: "Mr. Trump’s advisers have shared with him data showing that even his supporters do not like the tweet storms, and have advised him to act more 'presidential' as his re-election campaign draws nearer ... People who spoke with Mr. Trump on the phone over the weekend said he seemed to be in good spirits. Others who communicated with him said he had spent some time railing privately against Andrew G. McCabe, the former deputy F.B.I. director. But they also said he appeared to be a little aimless, and the outpouring seemed to be more driven by a lack of structure. Mr. Trump had skipped his regular weekend trip to Mar-a-Lago, his Florida estate, because of a family commitment that kept him grounded in Washington."
-- “The real danger in so desensitizing ourselves to Trump’s tweets is that we normalize deviant behavior and begin to accept what is unacceptable,” Peter Wehner, an alum of the Reagan and both Bush White Houses, writes for the Atlantic. “It doesn’t take a person with an advanced degree in psychology to see Trump’s narcissism and lack of empathy, his vindictiveness and pathological lying, his impulsivity and callousness, his inability to be guided by norms, or his shamelessness and dehumanization of those who do not abide his wishes. His condition is getting worse, not better—and there are now fewer people in the administration able to contain the president and act as a check on his worst impulses. … Donald Trump is not well, and as long as he is president, our nation is not safe.”
-- Senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway brushed off questions about her husband’s recent tweets criticizing Trump's mental state. John Wagner reports: “That included a series of tweets Monday that included images from the American Psychiatric Association’s ‘Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.’ In addition to the manual’s cover, Conway highlighted pages that include diagnostic criteria for ‘narcissistic personality disorder’ and ‘antisocial personality disorder.’ … Presented with her husband’s concerns Monday, Kellyanne Conway dismissed them. ‘No, I don’t share those concerns,’ she said ... ‘I have four kids and I was getting them out of the house this morning to talk to the president about substance, so I may not be up to speed on all of them,’ Kellyanne Conway said, referring to her husband’s tweets.”
THE NEW WORLD ORDER:
-- The speaker of Britain’s House of Commons threw a wrench into Prime Minister Theresa May’s latest attempt to get her Brexit deal passed. William Booth and Karla Adam report: “John Bercow said he would not allow the government to present May’s European Union withdrawal agreement to the House again unless that deal was ‘substantially’ different from the first two times it was voted down. The ruling, which overturned May’s strategy to revive her Brexit deal at the 11th hour, appeared to blindside 10 Downing Street. … Bercow’s ruling stoked further uncertainty about a process that has already been widely condemned as chaotic — and left stunned lawmakers wondering aloud what comes next. Britain is scheduled to leave the European Union on March 29.”
-- The Afghan government, estranged from Washington and shut out of Taliban peace talks, is running out of time, friends and options. Pamela Constable reports: “President Ashraf Ghani, who once hoped to win reelection as a champion and orchestrator of peace after 17 years of grueling conflict, has been denied that role at Taliban insistence. … [Ghani foreign policy aide Hamdullah] Mohib stunned Washington last week by saying a U.S.-Taliban deal would ‘dishonor’ fallen U.S. troops and by denouncing Zalmay Khalilzad, the Trump administration’s peace envoy, as an American ‘viceroy’ with ambitions to head an interim Afghan government. … [Afghans] fear that the United States would abandon the country after making a deal and that the Taliban would reverse the political and social gains of the past 17 years.”
-- As the U.S. continues its push to oust Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro, its military is also focusing on the growing threat of Colombian rebels. Reuters’ Phil Stewart reports: “U.S. officials see a growing threat from both Colombia’s National Liberation Army and factions of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia that refuse to adhere to a 2016 peace agreement to end five decades of civil war. The United States believes the rebels are taking advantage of Venezuela’s crisis to expand their reach in that country and the scope of long-standing illegal activities, including drug trafficking."
-- The U.S. has continued pressuring Iraq to isolate Iran by punishing Iraqi militias and politicians who remain connected to Iranian officials, increasing tensions between not only Washington and Baghdad but among officials in the Trump administration. From the Times’s Edward Wong and Eric Schmitt: “American military and intelligence officials said the increasing pressure on Iraq risks infuriating its Parliament, including politicians linked to Iran, which could limit the movements of the 5,200 United States troops based in Iraq."
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) posted a meme warning that red states have "8 trillion bullets" in the event of a second Civil War:
Just an elected official joking on his verified Facebook account over the weekend about a civil war and how his side would be more heavily armed pic.twitter.com/DrzHr0q4V5— Tim Mak (@timkmak) March 18, 2019
The former managing editor of Time magazine, who served as an under secretary of state during the Obama years, reacted to the USA Today poll on Mueller's investigation:
Depressing ratification of the Goebbels thesis that if you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth for many people. Media has to avoid needlessly repeating Trump disinformation as it creates 'belief echoes' among many Americans. https://t.co/B9d2VfjRJu via @usatoday— Richard Stengel (@stengel) March 18, 2019
Meghan McCain escalated her criticsm of Trump after the president attacked her late father:
.@MeghanMcCain addresses Pres. Trump’s Saturday tweet criticizing her father Sen. John McCain: “He spends his weekend obsessing over great men because he knows it and I know it and all of you know it — he will never be a great man.”https://t.co/p6oiZYUr74 pic.twitter.com/8HSpllAcEz— The View (@TheView) March 18, 2019
Another cohost of "The View," whose father serves as Trump's ambassador to Russia, added this:
Proud of my good friend @MeghanMcCain for staying so composed through this nonsense. The McCain family doesn’t deserve it and neither does this great country. Leadership and decency may not matter on a reality show, but it sure as hell matters when you’re running the free world.— Abby Huntsman (@HuntsmanAbby) March 18, 2019
A Post reporter talked to White House aides about Trump's tweeting spree:
Several current and former aides described Trump’s weekend Twitter episode as borne out of idle hands. Limited staff around, few obligations, no golf, 48 hours looking at the walls... “it never works out well,” one former senior aide said. Averaged more than a tweet an hour.— Josh Dawsey (@jdawsey1) March 19, 2019
A Republican senator offered this veiled advice to Trump:
A former Republican senator also expressed concern about Trump's tweeting habit:
Former GOP Sen. Rick Santorum on Pres. Trump's Twitter habit: "This is his therapy... He sees Twitter as his outlet... I wish he wouldn't do it. I wish he'd write them and send e-mails to... a therapist, as opposed to sending tweets to the general public." https://t.co/sOVi9FxA6Y pic.twitter.com/w8yxUspciF— CNN (@CNN) March 19, 2019
The president shared a check he sent to the Department of Homeland Security:
While the press doesn’t like writing about it, nor do I need them to, I donate my yearly Presidential salary of $400,000.00 to different agencies throughout the year, this to Homeland Security. If I didn’t do it there would be hell to pay from the FAKE NEWS MEDIA! pic.twitter.com/xqIGUOwh4x— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 18, 2019
A former CIA analyst criticized comments from one of Trump's top advisers on the mosque shooting:
This is really dangerous. White Supremacist terrorism and jihadist terrorism must have the same approach. I spent a decade at CIA analyzing al Qaida’s manifestos, Conway’s analogy is basically saying AQ’s manifestos were trivial and they are confused abt their ideology. https://t.co/yv55VM7j5s— Nada Bakos (@nadabakos) March 18, 2019
Meanwhile, Conway mocked the New York mayor for his poorly attended event in New Hampshire:
There are more people than this in my house every night for dinner. https://t.co/tatwrUOmDH— Kellyanne Conway (@KellyannePolls) March 18, 2019
A Daily Beast reporter joked about the timing of the Mueller report:
Sources with direct knowledge tell me that the Mueller report is expected to be sent to DoJ sometime between this afternoon and when the sun eventually forms into a red dwarf and engulfs the planet in its entirety— Asawin Suebsaeng (@swin24) March 18, 2019
Columnist Connie Schultz, who is married to Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), tweeted this:
Teaching writing over the past three years has forced me to reflect on why I do what I do. Repeatedly, I tell my students: We learn the rules and then decide which ones to break. Works in writing, and in life.— Connie Schultz (@ConnieSchultz) March 18, 2019
Bill Clinton remembered his former economic adviser:
Alan Krueger was a brilliant economist for the public interest—from his research proving that raising the minimum wage doesn't increase unemployment, to his recent work showing that America's opioid epidemic has increased it. My thoughts are with his family. We lost him too soon.— Bill Clinton (@BillClinton) March 18, 2019
And a CNN reporter shared one of the tweets Rep. Devin Nunes is suing Twitter over:
This is a tweet Devin Nunes included in his complaint. pic.twitter.com/fjwuIaDQhK— andrew kaczynski (@KFILE) March 19, 2019
-- “Stanford helped pioneer artificial intelligence. Now the university wants to put humans at its center,” by Elizabeth Dwoskin: “On Monday, the university will launch the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (HAI), a sprawling think tank that aims to become an interdisciplinary hub for policymakers, researchers and students who will go on to build the technologies of the future. They hope they can inculcate in that next generation a more worldly and humane set of values than those that have characterized it so far — and guide politicians to make more sophisticated decisions about the challenging social questions wrought by technology. … The institute — backed by the field’s biggest leaders and industry players — is not the first such academic effort of its kind, but it is by far the most ambitious: It aims to raise more than $1 billion. And its advisory council is a who’s who of Silicon Valley titans, including former Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, former Yahoo chief executive Marissa Mayer and co-founder Jerry Yang, and the prominent investor Jim Breyer. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates will keynote its inaugural symposium on Monday.”
-- The Atlantic, "White Nationalism's Deep American Roots," by Adam Serwer: "The concept of 'white genocide'—extinction under an onslaught of genetically or culturally inferior nonwhite interlopers—may indeed seem like a fringe conspiracy theory with an alien lineage, the province of neo-Nazis and their fellow travelers. In popular memory, it’s a vestige of a racist ideology that the Greatest Generation did its best to scour from the Earth. History, though, tells a different story. King’s recent question, posed in a New York Times interview, may be appalling: 'White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization—how did that language become offensive?' But it is apt. 'That language' has an American past in need of excavation. Without such an effort, we may fail to appreciate the tenacity of the dogma it expresses, and the difficulty of eradicating it. The president’s rhetoric about 'shithole countries' and 'invasion' by immigrants invites dismissal as crude talk, but behind it lie ideas whose power should not be underestimated."
-- “Chicago’s new mayor will be a black woman. Can she bridge the city’s divides?” by Antonio Olivo, Annie Gowen and Kari Lydersen: “No matter who wins the April 2 runoff, Chicago will make history: [Lori] Lightfoot’s opponent, Cook County Board of Commissioners President Toni Preckwinkle, is also a black woman. But neither candidate won a majority of the city’s black vote. While Chicago has a long history of pioneering black political leaders, from the Rev. Jesse Jackson to President Barack Obama, their successes have not translated into improved conditions in the city’s worst neighborhoods, leaving black voters here skeptical.”
-- New York Times, “3 Young Lawmakers Share a Progressive Vision, and a 7-Room Apartment,” by Vivian Wang: “State Senator Alessandra Biaggi had just wondered aloud at the challenges facing working mothers, leading a Senate colleague, Jessica Ramos, to mention a bill she had introduced to exempt breast pumps from sales taxes. That prompted Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou to interject: ‘Let’s talk, too, because I’m on the insurance committee.’ The conversation, in the middle of the year’s budget negotiations, was hardly unusual. More unexpected was the location: Ms. Niou’s bed, where the three women were perched, in their shared apartment about two miles west of the State Capitol.”
HOT ON THE LEFT:
“A Republican pushed mandatory AR-15s. After mosque shootings, he says it was a ploy to bait the left,” from Isaac Stanley-Becker: Andrew McDaniel, a Republican member of Missouri’s House of Representatives, “introduced legislation late last month that would require residents in that age range to purchase a version of the semiautomatic rifle. … Another measure, the ‘McDaniel Second Amendment Act,‘ would require everyone over the age of 21 to own a handgun. … As the AR-15 became a flash point in the response to the terrorist violence in New Zealand, McDaniel’s legislation emerged from the obscurity of Missouri’s legislative docket. … Soon, McDaniel was forced to clarify that he didn’t — technically speaking — support his own bills, at least not as written. He wants the tax credits for firearms purchases, but that part about requiring everyone to own a gun? It was a tactic to try to bait the left.”
HOT ON THE RIGHT:
“Fox News hires Donna Brazile, liberal pundit ousted from CNN in 2016,” from Paul Farhi: “Fox said Monday that it has hired Donna Brazile, the former interim Democratic National Committee chair and a longtime CNN commentator … CNN forced Brazile to resign as an on-air contributor in October 2016 after emails revealed that she had tipped off [Hillary] Clinton’s aides about questions likely to be asked by CNN moderators during the debates and town hall meetings carried by CNN. … The DNC, which Brazile led on an interim basis during 2016, decided earlier this month to exclude Fox News from televising any of its candidate events. … In a statement released Monday, Brazile said: ‘I know I’m going to get criticized from my friends in the progressive movement for being on Fox News. My response is that, if we’ve learned anything from the 2016 election, it is that we can’t have a country where we don’t talk to those who disagree with our political views.’”
Trump will meet with Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro throughout the day before participating in the swearing-in ceremony of his anti-regulation adviser Neomi Rao to replace Brett Kavanaugh on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
Pence will visit flood-stricken Omaha, Neb., where he will meet with affected community members and first responders.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
Trump “did, to his credit, go to Vietnam – although not until he was in his 70s and with Secret Service protection.” – CNN anchor Ana Cabrera on the president’s attacks against John McCain. (Alex Horton)
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- Spring is almost here but today will remain cool. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts:“Spring officially hits tomorrow at 5:58 p.m. Eastern time, even if our weather over the next few days is only somewhat springlike. That stronger March sunshine gets temperatures close to where they should be the next few days, but overall we’re slightly cooler than normal. Increasing clouds later tomorrow could give way to some showers tomorrow night and Thursday, with some clearing by Friday, before a mostly sunny weekend in the 50s and 60s.”
-- The spring equinox will be followed by a supermoon and a full moon. This rare occurrence is called a "worm moon" after, well, the earthworms that pop out of the soil during the spring. (Martin Well)
-- The Wizards lost 116-95 to the Jazz. (Roman Stubbs)
-- D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) said in her State of the District address that the city would make its Circulator bus free and proposed raising some commercial property taxes to fund more affordable housing. Fenit Nirappil and Peter Jamison report: "As her second term gets underway, Bowser emphasized the need for more subsidized housing in a city where real estate values have soared, pricing out many longtime residents. She wants to increase the city’s annual contribution to the Housing Production Trust Fund, which provides grants and loans to developers to build affordable housing, from $100 million to $130 million. The mayor also wants to add $5 million to a separate $10 million fund to rehabilitate and preserve existing subsidized housing and to create a $20 million fund for 'workforce housing' for teachers, police, firefighters, janitors and other middle-class residents."
-- Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) lashed out against the Democrats in the state's assembly, calling them "pro-criminal" and saying their policies are financially "reckless." Ovetta Wiggins and Erin Cox report: "As lawmakers entered the frenzied final three weeks of their annual legislative session, Hogan said bills that would significantly increase spending on education and raise the minimum wage would 'devastate' the state’s economy. He accused Democrats of “pandering” to special interests on school funding. And he lambasted them for ignoring his proposal to impose mandatory minimum sentences for repeat violent offenders who use guns and rejecting a bill to allow school resource officers in Baltimore City to carry guns."
-- Maryland state Sen. William C. Smith Jr. (D), who chose to enlist in the Naval Reserve after 9/11, is facing his first deployment to a war zone. Ovetta Wiggins reports: “He is scheduled to spend eight months in Afghanistan as an intelligence officer, part of what the military calls Operation Resolute Support. … Before his departure, the Democratic-controlled Senate is moving swiftly to act on key pieces of legislation in which Smith’s vote could be needed to override anticipated vetoes by Gov. Larry Hogan (R). Among them is a bill to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour, a measure to give local school districts control over school calendars, and legislation to strip control of alcohol and tobacco regulation from the state comptroller’s office.”
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Trevor Noah said O'Rourke shouldn't apologize for saying he was "born" to run for president:
Gov. Jay Inslee (D) also stopped by Noah’s show to chat about his 2020 candidacy.
Seth Meyers examined Trump's Twitter "meltdown":
Stephen Colbert had some words on Trump's reaction to the New Zealand shooting: