With Joanie Greve and Mariana Alfaro
THE BIG IDEA: President Trump threw around words like “evil” and “treasonous” on Monday as he lashed out at his critics while celebrating Attorney General William Barr’s summary of Bob Mueller’s report.
He and his aides showed little interest in striving for national healing or reconciliation in the wake of seemingly good news from the special counsel. Instead, they looked for ways to seek payback and to weaponize Barr’s letter as a partisan cudgel.
“A lot of people out there that have done some very, very evil things, very bad things,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. “I would say treasonous things against our country.”
This speaks volumes about Trump’s worldview — counterpunching is his default move — but it also foreshadows the nastiness that will likely occupy the 19 months between now and the 2020 election.
Trump might be squandering a key moment to take the high road after Mueller’s two-year probe didn’t establish collusion between his 2016 campaign and the Russians. But there’s also little indication that Democratic leaders would accept an olive branch if the president extended one. They view him with visceral disdain and are focused on defeating him at the ballot box next year. Either way, rather than break the partisan fever, the still-confidential Mueller report seems to be bogging down the parties in trench warfare and underscoring the depths of tribalism.
-- Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey report that the Trump operation is formulating a strategy to seek vengeance against critics: “Barr made it clear that the special counsel was not exonerating the president on the question of obstruction of justice. And details of the report, if made public, could prove troublesome for Trump. Still, the president’s aides and allies have shown little desire to turn the page, preferring to write a new book detailing what they say is a rush to judgment from a Washington establishment unwilling to ever give Trump an unbiased assessment.”
- “This is not something to put behind us and move on,” said David Bossie, Trump’s 2016 deputy campaign manager.
- “What he says is, he wants this investigated,” Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said of the president.
- Another adviser who talked to the president also said Trump has an appetite to see his critics investigated.
-- Trump’s allies in Congress and on cable gleefully jumped on the investigate-the-investigators bandwagon. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who spent the weekend golfing with Trump at Mar-a-Lago, held a news conference to announce that the Senate Judiciary Committee he chairs will launch an investigation into what he called “all of the abuse by the Department of Justice and the FBI” during the 2016 election.
“Time to investigate the Obama officials who concocted and spread the Russian conspiracy hoax,” tweeted Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), another Trump golfing buddy, who has previously downplayed Russian interference in the 2016 election and even traveled to Moscow last summer.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) accused senior officials at the FBI and the National Security Division of the Justice Department of trying to “sabotage the transition of power to the Trump administration.” “At the top, in Washington, at the leadership level, it appears that there is a serious cultural problem in some of these organizations,” he told radio host Hugh Hewitt this morning. “There needs to be an accounting of that.”
Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) lost to Roy Moore in the 2017 GOP primary for the Senate seat that had belonged to Jeff Sessions until he stepped down to become Trump’s attorney general. As Brooks mulls a 2020 challenge against Sen. Doug Jones (D), who beat Moore in the general, he’s been working to demonstrate fealty to Trump to lock down activist support. Against that backdrop, Brooks took to the House floor yesterday to liken Democrats to Adolf Hitler and read from “Mein Kampf.”
“For more than two years, Socialist Democrats and their fake news media allies … have perpetrated the biggest political lie, con, scam and fraud in American history,” Brooks said on the floor, according to the Birmingham News. “The accusations of collusion between President Trump and Russia in the 2016 elections are nothing but a ‘Big Lie.’ … America must reject their 'Big Lies’ or succumb to the danger that lurks and the horrific damage that results.”
Fox News host Sean Hannity pledged to his followers, “We will hold every deep state official who abused power accountable. We will hold every fake news media liar accountable. We will hold every liar in Congress accountable.”
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway even called on House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) — a frequent Trump critic on cable — to resign his seat, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) urged him to relinquish his chairmanship.
-- Mueller notified Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on March 5, three weeks ago, that he would not offer a definitive conclusion on whether Trump sought to obstruct justice. “The decision — which a Justice Department official on Monday said the special counsel’s office came to ‘entirely’ on its own — left a gap ripe for political exploitation,” per Matt Zapotosky, Devlin Barrett, Carol Leonnig and John Wagner. After accepting the report, Barr and Rosenstein “made the call Mueller would not, determining that the evidence was insufficient to allege that Trump had obstructed justice. The decisive maneuver … sparked allegations that the two Trump appointees had rushed to a judgment no one asked them to make.”
-- The Democratic chairs of six House committees, including Schiff, sent a letter last night asking Barr to provide them with a copy of the full Mueller report, as well as its underlying evidence, “no later than Tuesday, April 2.”
-- “Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and members of her leadership team agreed in a Monday night huddle that the caucus needs to stop talking about collusion with Russia because it was distracting from their legislative agenda, according to three people in the meeting or familiar with the discussion,” per Rachael Bade, Karoun Demirjian and Paul Kane. “Notably, two Democrats in the room who brought up concerns about the nationwide focus on their high-profile probes — Rep. David N. Cicilline (D-R.I.) and House Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairwoman Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) — are from opposite sides of the caucus: one a liberal, the other from a Trump district. Both argued that the House needs to megaphone pocketbook issues that won them the majority.
“During a Sunday afternoon phone call with Pelosi and House committee chairs, Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) argued that Barr, rather than Mueller, should be their most immediate target … Some House Democrats on the Judiciary Committee had been pushing to call Mueller to the Hill first. But Nadler insisted that because it was Barr’s decision to forgo obstruction charges, he should be their first priority.”
-- The House Appropriations Committee has a tentative hearing already scheduled for April 9 to review the Justice Department’s budget request, at which any attorney general would customarily appear, but other committees may seek Barr’s appearance before then.
-- On the Senate side, meanwhile, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) blocked an effort last night by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to force an up-or-down vote on the resolution urging the Justice Department to release the Mueller report. It passed the House unanimously earlier this month.
-- The toxic tribalism that’s been tearing apart the country’s civic culture has been on display over the past 36 hours.
“We can’t all seem to agree that it’s a good thing the president didn’t conspire with Russia, nor can we all admit that the Kremlin may have helped elect Trump,” laments Politico editor in chief John Harris. “Forty-five years ago, after Watergate resulted in Richard Nixon’s resignation, even Republicans joined in the ritual sermonizing about how the episode proved the primacy of law. No doubt even in those days there was ample pretense beneath the piety—of course Democrats were gloating and Republicans were plotting payback. But the very fact that they bothered to pretend revealed a basic respect that American political culture was on the level.
“These days, the one point on which warring sides all seem to agree is that American political culture in the Trump era is fundamentally not on the level. The Trump-Russia episode proves the primacy not of law or even of politics, both of which are designed to reconcile conflicting values and lead to resolution. It shows the primacy of psychology, in which current events represent a nonstop Rorschach test — what does it look like to you? — and virtually no factual assertion can be embraced at face value. In this prism, the main purpose of argument is to show fidelity to the home team, and not to settle a matter but to keep it going.”
-- Polling shows that many people have already made up their minds on Trump and Russia, and new information cannot change how they think. Trump famously said he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and his supporters would stick with him. A Fox News poll conducted last week, before Mueller wrapped up his investigation, found that 4 in 10 Americans said there was “no chance” that anything in the report could change their minds. “Among those who voted for Clinton in 2016, fully half said that nothing in Mueller’s findings would change their minds — presumably including complete exoneration. Among Trump voters, 4 in 10 said the same thing,” Philip Bump notes. “More Republicans and Trump voters said there was at least a small chance that their minds might be changed than did Democrats. But across the board, 7 in 10 respondents said that, at most, there was only a small chance that their minds would be changed about Trump.”
-- Monday brought other reminders that the various investigations into Trump, his orbit and Russia’s role in the 2016 election are not actually over.
The Supreme Court announced that it would not review a lower-court order requiring an unnamed foreign-owned corporation to comply with a subpoena from Mueller. “As is customary, the court did not give a reason for turning down the company’s appeal, nor were there noted dissents,” Bob Barnes reports. “The entity that is the subject of the cloaked legal battle — known in court papers simply as a ‘Corporation’ from ‘Country A’ — is a foreign financial institution that was issued a subpoena by a grand jury hearing evidence in the special counsel investigation. It is thought to be the first time an aspect of Mueller’s wide-ranging probe into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign has reached the Supreme Court. … It is unclear if [Mueller] or other prosecutors will pursue the information his subpoena sought. The grand jury remains empaneled.”
The House Intelligence Committee last night announced the indefinite postponement of a Wednesday hearing at which Trump’s former business associate Felix Sater had agreed to testify. Schiff said he first wants to hear from senior DOJ and FBI officials, as well as people involved in the special counsel probe. Sater, a Soviet-born felon, was accused in a lawsuit yesterday of plotting to use Trump-branded skyscrapers to launder money allegedly stolen from a Kazakhstan bank. BTA Bank and the city of Almaty, Kazakhstan, alleged that Sater conspired to use some of their $440 million to develop a Trump Tower in Moscow. Sater didn’t respond to the AP’s request for comment.
-- Another potential flash point to keep an eye on: Trump is not ruling out pardons now that Mueller has wrapped up. Some Trump allies have been urging him publicly and privately to issue pardons soon, particularly for former national security adviser Michael Flynn, Roz Helderman reports: “On Monday, a lawyer for George Papadopoulos, a former campaign aide to Trump who served 12 days in prison for lying to the FBI in the Russia investigation, said she has already submitted an application to the White House requesting a pardon. ‘It would be malpractice not to,’ said Caroline Polisi, Papadopoulos’s attorney.” He’s one of five Trump associates who pleaded guilty to crimes as part of the special counsel’s investigation. A sixth, longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone, is scheduled to go on trial in November.
The president has reveled in his constitutional ability to issue pardons, handing them out to right-wing compatriots like Joe Arpaio, Dinesh D’Souza and Scooter Libby. Asked yesterday about pardoning his associates whom Mueller prosecuted, however, Trump demurred. “I haven’t thought about it,” he said.
-- Looking ahead to the 2020 campaign, the Mueller investigation specifically and the Russia scandal generally have gotten much less attention from regular people than you might think from watching television. From CNN:
I just check with @jennagiesta on this. CNN's last poll asked "In your own words, please tell me what 1 issue will be most important to you in deciding whom to support in next year’s prez election?" 0 (!) respondents said the Russian/Mueller investigation. https://t.co/j4fNwjF7fU— (((Harry Enten))) (@ForecasterEnten) March 25, 2019
-- Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld said the Mueller report hasn’t altered his calculus about challenging Trump in the Republican primaries next year. “I wasn’t really counting on the president getting caught in the soup,” he said at an event in Concord, N.H., per the AP.
-- Democrats running for president see an opening “to focus anew on matters that many of them have argued are more critical to winning back swing voters than the findings of any investigation,” Bob Costa and Sean Sullivan report. “Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) once again urged ‘multibillion dollar companies’ to offer higher wages. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) underscored his calls to address global climate change. Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) put an emphasis on her plan to boost teacher salaries and to curb the rising cost of prescription drugs. … Over the weekend, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) held three town halls across northern New Hampshire, taking 25 questions from voters. None of them asked about the Mueller findings. After an event in Conway ended without a Russia question, Warren cited ‘a huge disconnect between Washington and the rest of America.’”
With Trump looking better positioned for reelection this week than he did last week, electability may begin to matter more to the Democratic rank and file. David Axelrod, the former chief strategist for Barack Obama, told Bob and Sean that there’s a “big market out there for decency.” He thinks Beto O’Rourke, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Cory Booker stand to gain the most if Democrats put more of an emphasis on temperament. “Regardless of the report, Trump’s disdain for norms and people is part of who he is, and the latest developments are unlikely to make him more reflective or humble,” he said. “Who will speak to that?”
- “It’s not going to be a case of slap anybody on the ballot and that person is going to win. We have to look for our most electable candidate,” said Ed Rendell, the former Democratic National Committee chairman and Pennsylvania governor.
- “Hanging the entire nomination, or the election, on an anti-Trump message, I don’t believe is a winning message or a winning strategy,” said Stephen Benjamin, the Democratic mayor of Columbia, S.C., who is neutral in the primary. “I would caution anyone seeking the nomination to not put all their eggs in an anti-Trump basket.”
-- Finally, the 2020 election remains vulnerable to Russian interference. The Post’s Editorial Board warns that perhaps the most important point in Barr’s letter is being overlooked in the political squabbling: “The country was attacked during the 2016 presidential election, and the nation’s leaders must work to prevent another such attack in 2020. … National security experts have warned again and again that Russia has not been deterred from engaging in more mischief during next year’s presidential race.”
-- First look: The group Republicans for the Rule of Law is going up with a new commercial calling for the release of the Mueller report. Watch:
HOW IT’S PLAYING—
-- More WaPo team coverage:
- Roz Helderman: “What we are still waiting to learn from the Mueller report.”
- Jacqueline Alemany: “'I assumed I'd be indicted.' Jerome Corsi says he's vindicated by conclusion of Mueller probe.”
- Deanna Paul: “What Barr’s letter does – and doesn’t – tell us about proving conspiracy and collusion.”
- Robin Givhan: “Pictures of Robert Mueller tell the story of a man who is finally free.”
- Aaron Blake: “Legal experts question William Barr’s rationale for exonerating Trump.”
- Chris Ingraham: “Barr’s memo comes at a time of deep distrust in the executive branch.”
- Paul Sonne, Anton Trolanovski and John Hudson: “With Mueller gone, can Trump pursue his dream of a Russian reset?”
- Anton Trolanovski: “Russia joins Trump in post-Mueller report victory lap.”
- Adam Taylor: “The Chinese proverb that Russia cited to respond to the Mueller report does not appear to be a Chinese proverb.”
- Margaret Sullivan: “Serious journalists should be proud of – not bullied over – their Russia reporting.”
-- Commentary from the opinion page:
- George F. Will: “Thanks to Mueller, 2020 won’t be about 2016.”
- Anne Applebaum: “The Mueller probe shows that our laws need fixing.”
- Max Boot: “No conspiracy or coordination. But lots of Trump-Russia ties and lies.”
- Danna Milbank: “Barr has made this a win for Moscow.”
- Joe Scarborough: “The Mueller war is over – and Trump won.”
- Richard Cohen: “The best way to get rid of Trump? Beat him at the ballot box.”
- Charles Lane: “It’s time to let go of collusion. There’s a bigger message from the Mueller findings.”
- Helaine Olen: “Mueller won’t save us from Trump’s corruption. What will?”
- Henry Olsen: “Hold off on your victory laps, conservatives.”
- John Podesta: “The biggest lesson from the Mueller probe? It’s about character.”
- Gary Abernathy: “Trump Country’s reaction to the Mueller report: ‘So what?’”
- Joyce White Vance: “One person the Mueller report didn’t ‘exonerate’? Vladimir Putin.”
- Alexandra Petri: “Never mind! Rigged witch hunts are the best!”
- Tom Toles: “In Trumpland, ‘not exonerated’ means ‘complete and total exoneration.’”
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- In a significant shift that could have greater 2020 implications than the Mueller report, the Trump administration said it now backs a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Isaac Stanley-Becker reports: The Justice Department “divulged its position in a legal filing Monday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, where an appeal is pending in a case challenging the measure’s constitutionality. A federal judge in Texas ruled in December that the law’s individual mandate ‘can no longer be sustained as an exercise of Congress’s tax power’ and further found that the remaining portions of the law are invalid. He based his judgment on changes to the nation’s tax laws made by congressional Republicans the previous year.
“Previously, the Trump administration had not gone as far, arguing in a brief last June that the penalty for not buying insurance could be distinguished from other provisions of the law, which could still stand. … But in the new filing, signed by three Justice Department attorneys, the administration said that the decision of U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor should be affirmed and the entirety of the ACA should be invalidated. … If it were successful, the Justice Department’s position supporting the judge’s ruling would potentially eliminate health care for millions of people and create widespread disruption across the U.S. health-care system — from removing no-charge preventive services for older Americans on Medicare to voiding the expansion of Medicaid in most states.”
“This refutes any notion that people might have that Attorney General Barr would retreat from some of the most partisan litigation choices made by the previous attorney general,” said Nicholas Bagley, a professor of law at the University of Michigan, referring to Jeff Sessions.
-- Democrats pounced:
Tonight in federal court, the Trump Admin declared all out war on affordable, dependable health care. In the courts, in the Congress, all across America, Democrats will fight relentlessly to #ProtectOurCare! https://t.co/WLZl5X9GGr— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) March 26, 2019
Trump and his administration are trying to take health care away from tens of millions of Americans — again.— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) March 26, 2019
We must fight back again with everything we've got. And in 2020, we need to elect a president who will make health care a right.https://t.co/O3gLYa7Yzy
-- “Purdue Pharma and the state of Oklahoma have agreed to settle a lawsuit over the drugmaker’s role in the deadly opioid crisis, a milestone in the legal effort to force pharmaceutical companies to pay some of the costs of the epidemic,” Lenny Bernstein and Katie Zezima report. “The deal, which is scheduled to be announced at a news conference Tuesday, will require Purdue and the family that owns the company to pay approximately $270 million. Most of the money will fund a new center for research, education and treatment of addiction and pain at Oklahoma State University in Tulsa. Oklahoma is free to continue its lawsuit against two other defendants and their subsidiaries — Johnson & Johnson, the 37th-largest company in the United States, and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, an Israel-based manufacturer that focuses mainly on generic drugs. The two companies, which have asked to be tried separately from Purdue, are slated to go to trial on May 28.”
-- Former president Barack Obama warned a group of freshman House Democrats last night to think more about the costs of their liberal ideas because, he said, voters care about price tags. Rachael Bade reports: “Obama didn’t name specific policies. And to be sure, he encouraged the lawmakers — about half-dozen of whom worked in his own administration — to continue to pursue ‘bold’ ideas as they shaped legislation during their first year in the House. But some people in the room took his words as a cautionary note about Medicare-for-All and the ambitious Green New Deal, two liberal ideas popularized by a few of the more famous House freshmen, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). … People in the room, who asked for anonymity to describe the evening, said Obama’s cost warnings weren’t deficit-scolding, per se. Rather he argued that voters care about the costs associated with policies and that Democrats should be ready to answer questions about how they will pay for an idea while making big promises to constituents.
“He told them to work across the aisle but also warned against becoming trapped by 'phony bipartisanship,' as one person described his remarks. ... Obama also gave the freshmen some advice: Find the policy you’re willing to lose your seat over and fight for it. The Affordable Care Act was that policy for him as well as a handful of Democrats who took the vote knowing it would cost them their seats. They don’t regret that, he said, after millions of people got health insurance. Or, at least, he certainly didn’t."
-- Energy experts warned that emissions from coal-fired plants are on the rise. Chris Mooney and Brady Dennis report: “Energy demand around the world grew by 2.3 percent over the past year, marking the most rapid increase seen in a decade, according to the report from the International Energy Agency. … [Fossil fuels] satisfied nearly 70 percent of the skyrocketing electricity demand, according to the agency, which analyzes energy trends on behalf of 30 member countries, including the United States. In particular, a fleet of relatively young coal plants located in Asia, with decades to go on their lifetimes, led the way toward a record for emissions from coal fired power plants — exceeding 10 billion tons of carbon dioxide ‘for the first time,’ the agency said.”
GET SMART FAST:
Michael Avenatti, the former attorney for Stormy Daniels, was arrested in New York and charged in what prosecutors called an attempt to extort millions of dollars from Nike. Authorities said they have him on tape threatening to hold a news conference to air damaging allegations against the shoe company unless it paid his client $1.5 million and gave him up to $25 million. He was simultaneously charged in Los Angeles with taking his client’s settlement money and putting it toward his coffee shop business. (Devlin Barrett and Elise Viebeck)
The father of a Sandy Hook victim died in an apparent suicide. Jeremy Richman, who lost his 6-year-old daughter, Avielle, in the 2012 rampage at an elementary school, died days after two teenagers in Parkland, Fla., separately took their own lives. (Lindsey Bever)
The U.S. is said to have tapes of phone calls between Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and three of his co-conspirators that were recorded months before the 9/11 attacks, a defense lawyer said. Defense lawyers were not told how the prosecution received these tapes. (New York Times)
Women who say they were sickened by breast implants are demanding that the Food and Drug Administration provide more risk information and ban devices linked to serious complications. The women said the implants caused multiple issues, including swollen lymph nodes, migraines, autoimmune problems and lymphoma. (Laurie McGinley)
- NASA canceled its first all-female spacewalk, in part because the agency doesn’t have enough suits that fit both of the astronauts. Christina Koch and Anne McClain were supposed to participate in the walk, but McClain will now stay behind because only one medium-size suit can be crafted by Friday. (The Guardian)
A second guidance counselor at a Catholic high school in Indiana will lose her job because she’s in a same-sex marriage. Lynn Starkey’s attorney said the school won’t renew her contract for the next academic year, much like it did to her co-worker, Shelly Fitzgerald, who was placed on leave after the school learned that she married a woman. (Indianapolis Star)
The Sackler family, which built its wealth from the sale of opioids through its company, Purdue Pharma, will stop making donations after three major art museums declined its help. Museums such as the Guggenheim, the National Portrait Gallery in London and the Tate have announced they will not accept money from the family. (Peggy McGlone)
Apple announced it will launch an entertainment service that would allow the tech giant to produce its own films and television series. The service will feature work from major stars like Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston and Steven Spielberg. (Reed Albergotti)
A case centered on whether Trump blocking critics on Twitter violates the First Amendment will be argued on appeal today. A federal judge ruled in May that the comments attached to Trump’s tweets are a public forum and that blocking users based on their political beliefs is unconstitutional. In response, the president unblocked the seven people behind the lawsuit but appealed the ruling. (Ann E. Marimow)
Facebook and Instagram removed 2,632 pages, groups and accounts that engaged in “coordinated inauthentic behavior.” All these accounts were linked to Iran, Russia, Macedonia and Kosovo. (Reuters)
The Mexican president wants the king of Spain and the Pope to apologize for the conquest of the Americas. Andrés Manuel López Obrador sent a letter to both entities, and, so far, only the Spanish government has answered, saying it rejects Lopez Obrador’s letter “with all firmness.” (AP)
- An infestation of thousands of poisonous cane toads is causing panic in the South Florida town of Palm Beach Gardens. The toads secrete a toxic substance from their heads that poses a serious danger to cats and dogs if ingested. (Eli Rosenberg)
IF YOU READ ONE STORY TODAY:
-- “Puerto Rico faces food-stamp crisis as Trump privately vents about federal aid to Hurricane Maria-battered island,” by Jeff Stein and Josh Dawsey: “At the Casa Ismael clinic for HIV-positive men with severe health complications, the staff used to immediately change patients’ diapers after they were soiled. But last week, clinic administrator Myrna Izquierdo told the nurses that had to stop. To save money, the nonprofit clinic, which relies on its patients’ food-stamp money for funding, will ask patients to sit in diapers in which they have repeatedly urinated, sometimes for hours. The Casa Ismael clinic is short on funds in part because of cuts in food stamps that hit about 1.3 million residents of Puerto Rico this month — a new crisis for an island still struggling from the effects of Hurricane Maria in September 2017. … Now, about 43 percent of Puerto Rico’s residents are grappling with a sudden cut to a benefit they rely on for groceries and other essentials. …
“After initially vowing to reject the food-stamp funding, President Trump has agreed to the emergency request to help Senate Republicans pass a broader disaster-relief package, which may be taken up for a vote this week. But at an Oval Office meeting on Feb. 22, Trump asked top advisers for ways to limit federal support from going to Puerto Rico, believing it is taking money that should be going to the mainland, according to senior administration officials ... Trump has also privately signaled he will not approve any additional help for Puerto Rico beyond the food-stamp money, setting up a congressional showdown with Democrats who have pushed for more expansive help for the island.
“A senior administration official with direct knowledge of the meeting described Trump’s stance: ‘He doesn’t want another single dollar going to the island.’ … He has occasionally groused about how ungrateful political officials in Puerto Rico were for the administration’s help, the official said. … Current and former officials say Trump often complains in meetings that Puerto Rico does not even know how to spend the money the island has been allocated. … Additionally, Trump administration officials who defended the island — Tom Bossert, the former homeland security adviser, and Pam Patenaude, the former deputy HUD secretary — are no longer in the administration. Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s acting chief of staff, has also been critical of how the island has spent its money.
-- It apparently requires repeating: Puerto Ricans are Americans. This is happening to U.S. citizens. The islanders who fled to Florida after the hurricane also get to vote in 2020.
ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN:
-- Vice President Pence talked Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats out of quitting and persuaded Trump not to fire him. In the past two years, Trump, among other things, has demanded that Coats prove that Obama wiretapped him and accused Coats of leaking classified information, NBC News's Carol Lee and Courtney Kube report. “But the tipping point for Coats came in December with Trump's abrupt decision to withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria, and the contentious departure of former Defense Secretary James Mattis after protesting the policy, according to the current and former officials. The vice president, who has repeatedly played the role of envoy between Trump and Coats, convinced his long-time Indiana friend to stay until at least this summer. ... Officials said the dynamic between Trump and Coats has stabilized for now. Yet they note that Trump could decide the date of Coats's departure at any time.”
-- Separately, the vice president attacked Democrats who have been critical of the U.S. relationship with Israel during a speech yesterday at AIPAC’s annual conference. Pence also called for Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) to be removed from the House Foreign Affairs Committee — a direct partisan rebuke delivered at a forum that publicly aspires to be assiduously bipartisan, Mike DeBonis reports.
-- Education Secretary Betsy DeVos opened an investigation into the college admissions scandal. It will look into whether the eight universities targeted in the scheme violated any laws or rules related to federal financial aid programs, per Politico.
Several former coaches pleaded not guilty to racketeering and conspiracy charges related to their alleged roles in helping kids circumvent the admissions process. There will be more court appearances in connection with the case later this week and next week. (Karen Weintraub and Nick Anderson)
Yale rescinded the admission of a student who got there as part of the cheating scheme. Her parents allegedly paid $1.2 million in the alleged fraud, and she was accepted based on a fake athletic endorsement from former women's soccer coach Rudy Meredith. (CNN)
-- Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao is creating a special committee to review certification procedures for Boeing’s planes. Boeing is already facing several other inquiries after the crashes of two 737 Max jets. (Michael Laris)
-- Some elite economists, including veterans of past Republican administrations, are aghast that Trump nominated Stephen Moore for the Federal Reserve Board. Bloomberg News’s Brendan Murray reports: “’He does not have the intellectual gravitas for this important job,’ Greg Mankiw, a Harvard professor who was chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush, wrote in a blog post. … Some private-sector economists who’ve generally supported Trump’s efforts to accelerate growth with lower taxes, less regulation and fairer trade deals were nonplussed by the selection of Moore, an official at the conservative Heritage Foundation think-tank.”
THE NEW WORLD ORDER:
-- Israeli bombed targets in Gaza in response to a rocket fire that injured a family of seven in Tel Aviv. Ruth Eglas and Loveday Morris report: “The airstrikes lit the Gaza skyline with orange fireballs, as civilians in both Gaza and communities in Israel braced for a night of violence. Israel’s military said it struck three targets: the home of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, a building that served as a secret headquarters for Hamas military intelligence and a five-story internal security office in the Rimal neighborhood of Gaza City. Palestinian heath authorities in Gaza did not report fatalities but said seven people were injured. …
“The escalation comes just two weeks before Israel’s April 9 elections, presenting [Benjamin] Netanyahu with a delicate situation. … Israeli commentators said that if the prime minister agreed to a cease-fire, it would probably hurt his campaign. … The violence overshadowed Trump’s signing of an official proclamation recognizing Israeli sovereignty of the Golan Heights, considered by much of the international community to be illegally occupied by Israel since the 1967 war.”
-- Syrians who were once loyal to President Bashar al-Assad are increasingly turning against his government as living standards in the country continue to deteriorate. Liz Sly reports: “For the first time, those living in the pro-government areas that were spared the worst of the violence are experiencing some of the harshest deprivations, including in the capital, Damascus. Residents there say life has become more difficult in recent months than at any point in the past eight years, bringing a realization that there will be no swift recovery from the immense damage inflicted by the war on Syria’s economy, social fabric and standing in the international community. … The unhappiness is reflected in an unprecedented torrent of complaints on social media by Assad loyalists, including some of the celebrities and television personalities who have used their stature in the past to rally support for his regime.”
-- The House of Commons voted to wrest control of the Brexit timeline from Prime Minister Theresa May’s government. The AP’s Jill Lawless and Lorne Cook report: “The move came after May conceded that Parliament would defeat her twice-rejected divorce deal with the EU again if she put it to a third vote. With Brexit delayed and the new departure date up in the air, the House of Commons voted to give itself temporary control of the parliamentary timetable starting on Wednesday so lawmakers can vote on alternatives to May’s withdrawal deal. The government usually controls the scheduling of votes in Parliament. Lawmakers who backed Monday’s motion, which passed 329-302, hope the planned ‘indicative votes’ will narrow the options down to one that can secure majority support. Possible options include a ‘soft Brexit’ that maintains close economic ties with the EU or scrapping Britain’s departure altogether.”
-- The European Commission announced that it is prepared for the possibility that Britain crashes out of the E.U. without a deal, which seems increasingly likely as British lawmakers appear no closer to an agreement. British news outlets are also reporting that cabinet members are pushing to oust May. Emily Tamkin reports: “‘While a ‘no-deal’ scenario is not desirable, the EU is prepared for it,’ the commission’s statement said.”
-- Despite the disastrous state of Brexit, British citizens appear to be mesmerized by the United Kingdom’s clumsy efforts to leave the E.U. William Booth and Karla Adam report: “It’s not an exaggeration to say that ordinary people hurry home to watch Parliament TV in the evening. The streaming service — Britain’s low-rent C-Span — is posting record-breaking numbers, for a seemingly endless number of ‘non-binding’ votes. House of Commons Speaker John Bercow — the ‘order! order!’ fellow with the colorful ties and erudite put-downs — has become a rock star, in need of a body guard.”
-- A massacre in central Mali left 154 people dead, and the head of an ethnic Dogon militia that has been implicated in other deadly attacks over the past year denied that his fighters had been involved. From the AP’s Baba Ahmed: “Suspicion immediately fell on the group after Saturday’s massacre in Ogossagou, an ethnic Peuhl village in central Mali. Graphic video after the attack showed bodies burned inside homes with some wreckage still on fire. At one point the body of a young boy in a football jersey can be seen. [Youssouf] Toloba maintained in an interview with The Associated Press on Monday that his fighters were not responsible. He defended his militia, saying it was necessary because the Malian military was failing to respond to violence in Dogon villages.”
-- The House will vote at noon to try overriding Trump’s veto of its resolution of disapproval on the national emergency to build a border wall, but Democrats will fail to muster the two-thirds support needed. The AP’s Alan Fram reports: “‘The president will be fine in the House,’ said Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. … The House approved the resolution blocking Trump’s emergency by 245-182 in February. On Tuesday, Trump opponents will need to reach 288 votes to prevail. Just 13 Republicans opposed Trump in February, around 1 in 15. Another 30 would have to defect to override his veto.”
-- The Pentagon formally notified Congress that it has authorized the transfer of $1 billion for the construction of 57 miles of wall along the border. CNN's Barbara Starr and Jeremy Herb report: “The Department of Defense authorized the Army Corp of Engineers to begin planning and construction for the project Monday night. The department will direct the funds toward 18-foot-high fencing along the Yuma and El Paso sections of the border, according to a letter acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan sent to Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen.”
-- Gay and transgender detainees held at the Otero County Processing Center, a large Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center in New Mexico, allege that they faced physical and verbal abuse while under the government’s watch. Robert Moore reports: In a letter, attorneys for several immigrant rights groups allege that “12 gay and transgender detainees at the Otero County Processing Center, a 1,000-bed facility about 30 miles north of this border city, routinely suffered sexual harassment and abuse from other detainees, that guards verbally assaulted them and that ICE officials violated their own regulations in denying hormone therapy to transgender detainees. They also allege that they were placed in solitary confinement after complaining about their treatment. … The man said he didn’t file a complaint with officials because he feared retaliation. When a friend filed a complaint alleging that he was being sexually harassed and abused by fellow detainees, he and his friend were both placed in solitary confinement, he said.”
-- Nearly 108,500 undocumented immigrants have been released inside the U.S. by the federal government in the past three months, ICE acting director Ronald Vitiello said. The San Antonio Express-News’s Guillermo Contreras reports: “The migrants are being released, with notices to appear later before immigration judges, because detention facilities are at capacity, Vitiello said. ICE later added that the crush on the feds’ ability to transport immigrants to detention facilities, and an agreement on how long asylum-seekers can be held also contributed to the releases.”
-- A federal appeals court in California ruled that the parents of a woman fatally shot by a five-time deportee can’t sue the city of San Francisco for failing to notify immigration officials that the man had been released from a local jail weeks before the killing. NPR’s Richard Gonzalez reports: Kate Steinle was shot in 2015. Her parents filed a general negligence claim against the city, which was following “sanctuary city” policies, but “a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, in a unanimous decision, ruled that San Francisco's then-sheriff, Ross Mirkarimi, violated no federal, state or local laws when he released Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, also known as José Inez Garcia Zarate, on a minor marijuana charge without notifying Immigration and Custom Enforcement."
THE CHANGING OF THE GUARD:
-- Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) announced he won't run for a third term next year. John Wagner reports: “Udall, a former congressman and state attorney general, was reelected to the Senate in 2014 with nearly 56 percent of the vote, and New Mexico had trended more heavily Democratic in recent years. … New Mexico’s three House members, all Democrats — Deb Haaland, Xochitl Torres Small, Ben Ray Luján — are viewed as potential successors. Another potential candidate is Hector Balderas, the state’s Democratic attorney general who is considered a rising star. The National Republican Senatorial Committee said with Udall’s announcement, Republicans believe the state could be competitive in 2020.”
-- Rep. José Serrano, a Democrat who has represented the South Bronx since 1990, said he would not seek reelection because of his struggle with Parkinson’s disease. Serrano represents the bluest district in the country. Hillary Clinton got 94 percent of the vote there in 2016. New York City Council member Ritchie Torres has already announced he will run for the seat in what will probably be a competitive primary. Serrano's son also might get in. Serrano has served as one of Congress’s most ardent defenders of Puerto Rico, where he was born. (AP)
-- Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) won’t run for the Senate in 2020, clearing the field for retired astronaut Mark Kelly to challenge incumbent Republican Sen. Martha McSally for the seat. The Arizona Republic’s Yvonne Wingett Sanchez reports: “Gallego’s decision will disappoint the left flank of the party. … By removing himself from running, Gallego also dashes GOP hopes of a competitive Democratic primary race that could have freed McSally to focus on her own campaign message while Gallego and Kelly battled it out for their party's nomination. In Gallego, Republicans saw an opportunity to wound Kelly by forcing him to answer for the more liberal positions that reflect the party's general direction.”
-- Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) drew a primary challenger from her right as she contemplates running for reelection in 2020. Derek Levasseur, a conservative blogger and former police officer, said that he was inspired to challenge Collins after she voted against Trump’s emergency declaration at the southern border and that he would be a champion of the president’s “America First” agenda. But Levasseur is still a long shot, given his relatively unknown status and a 2012 incident in which he was charged with assaulting four people, including his then-15-year-old daughter. (Bangor Daily News)
-- Pushed by advisers to not talk just about policy, Bernie continues to struggle with how much to tell his personal story on the stump. Cleve R. Wootson Jr. reports: “‘I don’t like talking about myself,’ Sanders (I-Vt.) confessed Saturday. ‘I prefer to talk about ideas and vision.’ Then, for more than six minutes, Sanders shared more personal details about himself than he’d revealed during three weeks of policy-heavy speeches in Iowa and South Carolina. He spoke of growing up a son of poor immigrants in a rent-controlled Brooklyn apartment. … He spoke of reading books about the Holocaust with tears running down his face. Then, raising his voice, he expressed outrage at the latest example of animus centered on race and religion and ethnicity that left 50 Muslims dead in a mosque in Christchurch … The off-the-cuff, emotion-laden remarks earned Sanders a standing ovation."
-- Elizabeth Warren released the findings of a new Government Accountability Office report this morning that suggests the need for stronger consumer privacy protections following the 2017 Equifax breach. Through the report — the second of its kind requested by Warren and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) — the GAO recommended that the Federal Trade Commission be given stronger civil penalty authority to enforce laws to protect consumers. It also asks that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau improve its supervision of consumer credit reporting agencies. "The GAO has issued very clear recommendations on how to protect consumers, so let's follow them. We need to give the FTC more tools to crack down on consumer data abuses and the CFPB needs to do its job, hold these firms accountable, and protect consumers,” Warren and Cummings said in a news release.
-- In an op-ed for The Post, Kamala Harris outlines a plan to give all teachers in America a raise: “The ‘pay gap’ between what teachers earn and what people with similar educations earn is creating disastrous consequences. Teachers are leaving their dream jobs because they can’t make ends meet. … As president, I will make the largest federal investment in teacher pay in U.S. history. We will fully close the teacher pay gap during my first term, and provide the average teacher a $13,500 raise.” Under the California Democrat's plan, the federal government would pay $3 for every $1 the state contributes to increasing teacher pay and make a multibillion-dollar investment in “evidence-based programs that elevate the teaching profession.” Half of this funding will be dedicated to historically black colleges and other minority-serving institutions. Harris said she would pay for the plan by increasing the estate tax for the richest 1 percent.
-- No love for BDB in NYC: More than 250 New Yorkers gathered to cheer on a mayor who is considering a 2020 run. It wasn’t their mayor, though. It was South Bend, Indiana’s. The New York Times’s Jeffery C. Mays reports: New York Mayor Bill de Blasio “has appeared before small crowds in early primary states such as Iowa, South Carolina and New Hampshire, and came in last in a recent Quinnipiac University poll that asked which New York politician would make the best president. … Katie Held, 35, a tech product manager who has lived in Manhattan for four years, said [Pete] Buttigieg has ‘East Coast values with a Midwestern knowledge.’ Asked about a potential de Blasio campaign for president, Ms. Held said, ‘No. Stay where you are. Work on that.’”
-- Stacey Abrams, who lost the Georgia governor's race and is now trying to decide whether to run for president or Senate in 2020, launched a nonprofit aimed at ensuring that hard-to-count groups are included in the 2020 Census. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Greg Bluestein reports: “The organization, Fair Count, will focus on minorities, non-English speakers, renters and others who are more likely to be skipped in the once-a-decade headcount of the U.S. population. Based on the latest census estimates, roughly 20 percent of Georgians live in hard-to-count neighborhoods.”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders made her own bracket:
The president weighed in again this morning:
The Mainstream Media is under fire and being scorned all over the World as being corrupt and FAKE. For two years they pushed the Russian Collusion Delusion when they always knew there was No Collusion. They truly are the Enemy of the People and the Real Opposition Party!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 26, 2019
Trump's campaign attempted to profit off Mueller's investigation:
The Trump re-election campaign's featured products right now: pic.twitter.com/zj3tzmuUxr— Julie Bykowicz (@bykowicz) March 25, 2019
Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, responded to the Trump campaign sending a memo to bookers saying he shouldn’t be invited as a guest on cable TV:
The only person who has been caught lying about Russia is Donald Trump. If he thinks I’ve made a false statement, he can sue me. And I’ll beat him in court. https://t.co/x9UvPnTqkO— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@RepSwalwell) March 25, 2019
A Democratic senator laughed at the idea of a second special counsel:
Asked by @Emma_Dumain about Graham's call for another special counsel to look into the Hillary Clinton email probe, Chris Coons said "Seriously?" several times and doubled over in laughter.— Igor Bobic (@igorbobic) March 25, 2019
"I can't believe this is my job," he said
The executive editor of Lawfare, a former lawyer at the National Security Agency, said this of Barr's letter:
There is no way to fairly assess the political impact or even legal meaning of the Mueller report until we've seen it. While it's an interesting preliminary document, the Barr summary is not the Mueller report. Now, we just have to wait for the real deal.— Susan Hennessey (@Susan_Hennessey) March 25, 2019
A former senior adviser to Obama critiqued the media coverage of the letter:
Reading the coverage today one would assume that the release of the Mueller report ended the criminal investigations into Trump his inauguration, his business, and his foundation.— Dan Pfeiffer (@danpfeiffer) March 25, 2019
It didn't. He still has more criminal exposure than all the other Presidents combined.
The Russian Embassy in Britain trolled those who contended that Trump’s campaign conspired with Russia in 2016:
That awkward moment when another anti-Russian fake crumbles to dust.— Russian Embassy, UK (@RussianEmbassy) March 25, 2019
Excuses, anyone? pic.twitter.com/dcQePEVAmD
A New Yorker cartoonist portrayed an emboldened Trump this way:
Michael Avenatti's former client addressed his arrest:
My statement regarding my former attorney Mr. Avenatti.. pic.twitter.com/9aKYCPNN6y— Stormy Daniels (@StormyDaniels) March 25, 2019
The president's son gloated about Avenatti's legal trouble:
Don Jr. later added this:
Don’t get overconfident guys. Michael Avenatti has @realDonaldTrump right where he wants him. It’s all part of his plan. Just look at his impeccable record so far🤣👍. #MAGA - aka - Michael Avenatti Got Arrested.— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) March 25, 2019
A Republican strategist joked about Avenatti's phone going straight to voice mail:
It’s in the East River somewhere— Doug Stafford (@dougstafford) March 25, 2019
A CNN reporter reflected on the timing of Avenatti's arrest:
This Avenatti news is icing on the cake for President Trump's week.— Abby D. Phillip (@abbydphillip) March 25, 2019
Another CNN reporter emphasized this of the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York:
It is notable the SDNY will be holding a press conference on the Avenatti charges while they’re in the middle of still investigating campaign finance law violations which is centered around his now former client.— Shimon Prokupecz (@ShimonPro) March 25, 2019
And other SDNY investigations that remain ongoing concerning Trump
A Post editor highlighted this tweet from Avenatti just before his arrest:
A Daily Beast reporter re-shared this photo:
every few months i remember this picture exists pic.twitter.com/GLwDwtx4gW— Max Tani (@maxwelltani) January 10, 2019
Another Daily Beast reporter noted a contribution to Avenatti's PAC from Ari Emanuel, a well-known talent executive and the brother of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel:
Just noticed that Ari Emanuel appears to have donated to Michael Avenatti's PAC late last year pic.twitter.com/W71GxMZJf7— Lachlan Markay (@lachlan) March 25, 2019
Connecticut officials mourned the loss of Sandy Hook father Jeremy Richman:
Annie and I are heartbroken for the Richman family. Thoughts and prayers just don't feel like enough in times like these. Words cannot even begin to express our sorrow.— Gov. Ned Lamont (@GovNedLamont) March 25, 2019
My god. This is awful, horrible, devastating news. Jeremy was a good friend and an unceasing advocate for better research into the brain’s violence triggers. He was with me in my office two weeks ago, excited as could be about the Avielle Foundation’s latest amazing work. https://t.co/xhy89JlXG8— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) March 25, 2019
Romania's prime minister tweeted a photo with the vice president from the AIPAC conference:
Glad to meet Vice-president Mike Pence @VP, in #WashingtonDC. 🇷🇴 and 🇺🇸 have a strong #StrategicPartnership. We will continue to work together in strenghtening the economic and security dimensions of our cooperation. pic.twitter.com/DM2a9xvUFW— Viorica Dăncilă (@VDancila_PM) March 25, 2019
A Post reporter took note of Trump's high-dollar fundraising attractions:
Trump is going to California next week to fundraise, per invite. $150,000 for a round table, $50,000 for a picture, $15,000 for dinner. pic.twitter.com/IyzsOCRjVm— Josh Dawsey (@jdawsey1) March 25, 2019
Beto O'Rourke's new campaign manager said she'll move to El Paso for the job:
I’m so excited to join the @betoorourke team and get to work building a campaign that will lift people up and unite them to meet our challenges, and that will show up everywhere and listen to & value every voice.— Jen O'Malley Dillon (@jomalleydillon) March 25, 2019
A Post reporter reflected on the Senate retirements of 2020:
The biggest deficit in Washington these days is decency -- just not enough decent people. And a Senate in 2021 without @SenatorTomUdall & @SenAlexander is going to be less decent Senate.— Paul Kane (@pkcapitol) March 25, 2019
Sure hope their replacements understand the import of decency.
The Stanley Cup paid a visit to the White House:
And two of Trump's lawyers stopped in to see it:
Also in the Oval Office with President Trump this afternoon for Caps ceremony: Rudy Giuliani and Jay Sekulow pic.twitter.com/iZpFLbbVCV— Meridith McGraw (@meridithmcgraw) March 25, 2019
-- “A brutal attack almost killed her husband. It transformed Abby Maslin into a different person,” by Ellen McCarthy: “On the day everything changed, Abigail Maslin sat on the front stoop of a Capitol Hill apartment building, watching her 21-month-old son play in the small yard while she dialed 911. Her husband, Thomas, who goes by ‘TC,’ had gone to the Nationals game the night before and hadn’t come home. … On a stranger’s porch, several blocks away, TC had spent the night clinging to life. He had been walking home when three young men accosted him. They took his wallet and phone, and one of them cracked him in the head with a baseball bat. … When her husband finally woke up, he couldn’t speak or walk. Even after relearning those skills, he wouldn’t be the same. And neither would she.”
-- New York Times, “Adventurous. Alone. Attacked,” by Megan Specia and Tariro Mzezewa: “Recent headlines about the deadly violence inflicted on women traveling alone have raised questions about how the world is greeting the documented rise in female solo travelers and about the role of social media in promoting the idea that far-off lands are easily accessible and safe. … Thousands of women go abroad every year without incident. Many women experience catcalls and myriad other forms of harassment while traveling; women of color have written about being dismissed or ignored abroad because of their race. And while violence against male tourists is just as devastating, the harrowing experiences of female solo travelers can still shock the senses.”
-- Wall Street Journal, “Haikus About Space/Make Science Less Tedious/So Hope Scientists,” by Daniela Hernandez: “The use of haiku, which traditionally describe the wonder of natural phenomena, is part of a growing push, fueled in part by social media, to use unconventional means to make science more accessible. In November, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab added a poetry-themed lesson plan to help grade-school teachers explain planetary science. The journal Science recently published a collection of haiku about the periodic table. ... The practice started in 2001 as a bit of a joke, when Allan Treiman, a Lunar and Planetary Institute scientist, submitted the first. Since then, it has evolved into a conference tradition, with a Twitter handle and hashtag, plus a best-in-show competition.”
HOT ON THE LEFT:
“The DCCC Is Trying to Put Me Out of Business — and I’m a Democrat,” from Monica Klein in the Intercept: “Six hours after the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced that it was blacklisting firms that work with primary challengers, I met with a potential client who was considering a Democratic primary. The client told me that two consultants dropped out that morning — and now the candidate may not run at all. … This is precisely what the DCCC wants. The committee is hoping that these young women will stop contemplating challenges against Democratic incumbents. … The DCCC and other national ‘Democratic’ organizations are wrapping their arms more tightly around the heavily white, male incumbent Democrats in Washington.”
HOT ON THE RIGHT:
“CNN Drops Mark Geragos as Contributor After Being Reported as Michael Avenatti's Co-Conspirator,” from the Hollywood Reporter: “CNN has parted ways with legal commentator Mark J. Geragos after multiple outlets reported Monday that he is the ‘unnamed co-conspirator’ in a criminal complaint filed in New York against [Avenatti]. ‘Mark Geragos is no longer a CNN contributor,’ a spokesperson [said] on Monday afternoon. According to The Wall Street Journal, citing the complaint, ‘Mr. Avenatti and Mr. Geragos, the alleged co-conspirator, met with lawyers for Nike in New York on March 19 and threatened to release damaging information unless the company agreed to pay the two lawyers millions of dollars and another $1.5 million to the client Avenatti claimed to represent.’”
Trump will receive his intelligence briefing and then go to the Capitol for the Senate Republican policy lunch. He will also meet with lawmakers back at the White House to discuss trade.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he told his late colleague John McCain to turn over the Trump-Russia dossier to the FBI: “John McCain showed me the dossier. And I told him the only thing I knew to do with it, it could be a bunch of garbage, it could be true, who knows? Turn it over to somebody who's job it is to find these things out and John McCain acted appropriately.” (CNN)
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- The sun will be out today, but prepare for a freeze at night. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “A cool air mass pushes spring out of the way today and tomorrow. While abundant sunshine takes a slight edge off the chill, today’s wind and tonight’s subfreezing temperatures offer some winter flashbacks. But then we aim for highs in the 60s Thursday and 70s by Friday and Saturday before showers sneak back into the picture late this weekend.”
-- The cherry blossoms have reached “peduncle elongation,” two stages away from peak bloom. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts that the flowers will reach peak bloom between April 1 and 5, centered on April 3. (Jason Samenow)
-- The D.C. auditor said the mayor's proposed budget is not “fiscally responsible.” Peter Jamison report: “Although the resulting budget would be balanced through tax increases, [auditor Kathleen] Patterson said, it would put the District on a path that is unsustainable in the long term. She invoked the specter of the financial control board that Congress established to oversee the city in the 1990s as it was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy — a humiliating period when many basic powers were stripped from D.C. officials. ... The auditor, who works for the D.C. Council, also noted the large amount the District is spending on debt repayment — more than $800 million, more than the police department’s budget.”
-- Students in Charlottesville walked out of class to demand racial justice after a racist threat closed schools across the city. Debbie Truong reports: “The students issued 10 demands that included calls for leaders in the 4,300-student school system to denounce racism against black and brown students, hire more black teachers and overhaul student discipline policies. About 130 students from Charlottesville High and 21 students from Buford Middle School participated in the walkout Monday, the first day back in class after the shutdown, according to the school system."
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Trevor Noah thinks Robert Mueller answered a question with another question:
Jimmy Kimmel said Trump got into the White House in the same way actress Lori Loughlin got her daughter into USC:
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) spoke to Stephen Colbert and said the Mueller report needs to be made public:
Warren not only appeared on Colbert's show. She also outran a reporter (and her staff) at New York's Penn Station. And Joe Lieberman makes a cameo:
Former GOP congresswoman Karen Handel, who narrowly lost her Georgia race to Democrat Lucy McBath last year, announced she would seek the seat again. She kicked off her campaign with this ad highlighting controversial comments from prominent Democrats: