With Joanie Greve and Mariana Alfaro
THE BIG IDEA: President Trump often demands legally dubious solutions to complex problems. When he’s denied, he blames others — including his own staff. That’s really the nub of why he’s pushing out Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.
The 30-minute sit-down in the White House residence at 5 p.m. on Sunday wasn’t like the end of an episode of “The Apprentice.” It wasn’t televised in prime time, for one, and he didn’t dramatically say “You’re fired” at the end.
But it had the same effect. Just like the partial government shutdown he forced earlier this year in a futile effort to get money for a wall, Trump telegraphed to his base that he’s willing to do whatever it takes to secure the southern border and conveyed that he intends to make this issue a centerpiece of his reelection campaign.
“Two senior administration officials said that Nielsen had no intention of quitting when she went to the meeting Sunday with the president and that she was forced to step down,” Nick Miroff, Josh Dawsey, Seung Min Kim and Maria Sacchetti report. “Trump told aides last fall that he wanted to fire Nielsen … She appeared to regain her footing after U.S. Border Patrol agents used tear gas to repel a large crowd attempting to break through a border fence — the kind of ‘tough’ action Trump said he wanted … The president grew frustrated with Nielsen again early this year as the number of migrants rose and as she raised legal concerns about some of Trump’s more severe impulses, particularly when his demands clashed with U.S. immigration laws and federal court orders.”
This is a central theme in all the news accounts of why Trump turned on her.
“The president called Ms. Nielsen at home early in the mornings to demand that she take action to stop migrants from entering the country, including doing things that were clearly illegal, such as blocking all migrants from seeking asylum,” the New York Times reports. “She repeatedly noted the limitations imposed on her department by federal laws, court settlements and international obligations. Those responses only infuriated Mr. Trump further.”
It’s part of a pattern. Trump has repeatedly shown disdain for the rule of law. The president declared a national emergency on Feb. 15 so he could divert money from the military to build his wall, even though his own lawyers at the White House and Justice Department advised him against doing so.
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Here are 10 other takeaways from the news:
1) Trump alone cannot fix it, but he’s still learning the limits of the presidency and the added constraints that come with divided government.
The law needs to change to accomplish most of what Trump wants at the southern border, and this is very unlikely to happen now that Democrats control the House. The president ran promising that he alone can fix it, and he appears to still be learning that this is not how republican government works.
Nielsen “believed the situation was becoming untenable” because Trump was “becoming increasingly unhinged about the border crisis and making unreasonable and even impossible requests,” a senior administration official told CNN.
The Wall Street Journal’s conservative editorial board describes her termination as “a ritual sacrifice”: “Ms. Nielsen wasn’t responsible for the surge of Central American migrants arriving at the border to claim political asylum, but Donald Trump and Democrats in Congress both needed a fall guy.”
2) Trump prefers to surround himself with yes men.
This is a major reason that the administration has experienced historically high turnover.
“Nielsen's ouster fits with a pattern of Trump forcing out officials who have pushed back against his more radical instincts or been unable to carry them out, or who have earned his ire for being unwilling to match his defiance for governing practice and convention,” CNN’s Stephen Collinson notes. “They include former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, ex-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, former national security adviser H.R. McMaster and former chief of staff John Kelly.”
3) The proliferation of “acting” secretaries continues.
Trump announced that Kevin McAleenan, the commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, will take over as acting DHS secretary. Normally, the deputy secretary would take over on an acting basis, but the president hasn’t nominated a No. 2 despite all his talk of there being a national emergency. Nielsen tweeted that she’ll stay on through Wednesday — the day after tomorrow — “to assist with an orderly transition.”
This means that there will be interim leaders, who have not been confirmed by the Senate for the jobs they hold, atop the departments of Defense, Interior and Homeland Security. There is also not a permanent director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Mick Mulvaney remains the acting White House chief of staff.
Trump has said that he prefers it this way, and he’s “in no hurry” to name permanent replacements who can hold the jobs indefinitely. He wants his people at places like the Pentagon to feel like they’re on a tight leash. It means they’re constantly trying to curry favor.
4) Only three women will remain in Trump’s Cabinet after this week. There are 15 men.
An acting administrator will also take over the Small Business Administration when Linda McMahon steps down on Friday.
As a point of comparison, there are two Alexanders and two Roberts.
The female survivors in Trump’s Cabinet are CIA Director Gina Haspel, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. Trump recently blamed DeVos for his administration’s failed efforts to defund the Special Olympics.
5) McAleenan does not appear to fully share Trump’s vision for restricting immigration.
“A longtime CBP official who received the nation’s highest civil service award from President Obama in 2015, McAleenan has praised the effectiveness of U.S. aid to Central America — immediately putting him at odds with the president, who has cut aid to those countries,” Miroff writes in a sidebar. “And McAleenan refers to the migrants arriving at the border not as scammers looking to cheat their way into the country but as ‘vulnerable families’ who need more humanitarian treatment, urging a fast and responsible screening process that will let true asylum seekers start their new lives in the United States once a court rules on their claims. And he is well-regarded by Democrats, in part because he speaks of border and immigration issues as a neutral, nonpolitical law enforcement professional, not a partisan firebrand.”
This is how he got confirmed to run CBP on a 77-to-19 vote just over a year ago.
He’s also reportedly married to an immigrant from El Salvador.
6) It’s not clear that someone who will be “tough” enough for Trump can get confirmed to lead ICE or DHS.
Trump said Friday that he wants someone “tougher” to lead ICE after he unceremoniously dumped Ron Vitiello, a 30-year veteran of the U.S. Border Patrol, just weeks before he was poised to win confirmation. No one from the White House bothered to tell Vitiello he was being dumped. He found out the nomination had been formally rescinded in the press. His staff initially thought it was a clerical error. The challenge is finding someone who will be as “tough” as Trump wants without turning off moderate Senate Republicans.
Former Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli is under consideration to replace Nielsen and has been at the White House recently, according to my colleagues on the White House beat. But he could run into trouble over his efforts to block Trump from winning the Republican nomination in 2016.
One name getting a lot of attention is Kris Kobach, the former Kansas secretary of state who lost the governor’s race in November. He’s a hard-liner who co-chaired Trump’s ill-fated commission to explore voter fraud. For several reasons, a Kobach nomination would put a bunch of Republican senators in a tough spot. The likeliest role for him would be a post that doesn’t require Senate approval.
Energy Secretary Rick Perry is seen inside the White House as the most confirmable of the names being floated, per Bob Costa.
Conservative provocateur Ann Coulter, who has publicly soured on Trump over his failure to deliver the wall, celebrated Nielsen’s departure but worried on Twitter that her replacement won’t be any better.
7) Stephen Miller is ascendant.
The White House policy adviser has recently gotten more control over this issue internally. Trump said in a recent Oval Office meeting that Miller is now in charge of all immigration initiatives. He’s encouraged Trump’s nativist tendencies and criticized both Vitiello and Nielsen to the president.
“Miller has pushed for someone to take over the ICE role who would be more receptive to his policy ideas,” per Nick, Seung Min and Josh. “He also is ‘particularly adept,’ one administration official said, at placing blame on others in the White House when ideas he promotes do not work. ‘Ron Vitiello has spent as much time defending our nation’s borders as Stephen Miller has been alive,’ one official said of Miller, who is 33. One senior official said: ‘This is part of an increasingly desperate effort by Stephen to throw people under the bus when the policies he has advocated are not effective. Once it becomes clear that Stephen’s policies aren’t working, he tells the president, “They’re not the right people.”’”
“Miller has also recently been telephoning mid-level officials at several federal departments and agencies to angrily demand that they do more to stem the flow of immigrants into the country,” Politico reports. “The officials at the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice and State, who each handle different parts of the immigration process, were initially surprised that a high-ranking White House official like Miller would call them directly, rather than contact their bosses. ‘It’s intimidation,’ one of the people who was briefed on the calls [said]. ‘Anytime you get a call like this from the White House it’s intimidation ... Under normal circumstances, if you were a deputy in one of these agencies, it would be very unusual.’”
The story quotes “a person close to Nielsen” saying: “They failed with the courts and with Congress and now they’re eating their own.”
8) Nielsen’s departure is also a win for John Bolton, who has consolidated power since John Kelly left as chief of staff.
The national security adviser has repeatedly told the president that Nielsen isn’t the right fit for her job, a senior administration official told The Post.
Nielsen, 46, was Kelly’s chief of staff when he was the secretary of homeland security and replaced him when he became White House chief of staff. With her protector gone, and her enemies in such close proximity to the president, Nielsen struggled to survive.
9) Democrats feel no sympathy for Nielsen, and they’re determined not to let her rebrand herself.
Jim Mattis she is not.
“When even the most radical voices in the administration aren’t radical enough for President Trump,” you know he’s completely lost touch with the American people,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement.
House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) called her “a disaster from the start.”
The Democratic presidential candidates wished Nielsen good riddance, as well.
.@SecNielsen separated mamas from their babies and locked little children in cages.— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) April 8, 2019
I’m not sorry to see her go. I only wish she’d been fired long ago, before she ever had a chance to resign.
10) The problems at the border remain.
The end of the family separation policy, because of political blowback, has now created an unintended incentive for Central American families to try crossing the border together in search of asylum.
Coyotes are even selling their services south of the border by telling people that they should try to cross before the wall goes up.
In a Friday news dump, the Trump administration told a federal judge that it will take at least one year and potentially two years to identify all the immigrant children who were taken from their parents.
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- Baylor defeated Notre Dame 82-81 to seize the NCAA women’s championship title. Ava Wallace reports: “Defending champion Notre Dame tested the Bears as they had rarely been tested this season, rebounding from a 14-point deficit in the second half to tie the score with 16 seconds to play. But a driving layup from 2014 All-Met Player of the Year Chloe Jackson put Baylor up two, and Arike Ogunbowale, the breakout star of last year’s Final Four, missed a free throw with a second remaining. With their 82-81 win, the No. 1 overall seed Bears survived to cap a near-perfect season with a national title, the program’s third in addition to crowns in 2005 and 2012.”
GET SMART FAST:
Economists fear the rise in risky corporate loans could pave the way for another financial crisis. Major U.S. banks have issued more than $1 trillion in such leveraged loans, which companies may be unable to repay if economic growth slows or interest rates rise. The increase in these loans was precipitated in part by the Trump administration’s rollback of financial regulations put in place after the Great Recession to prevent another financial crisis. (Damian Paletta)
American Airlines acknowledged it will need to cancel about 90 daily flights through June 5 to comply with the continued grounding of 737 Max planes. The new timeline, which extends the airline’s earlier projection for canceled flights by more than a month, comes days after Boeing and the FAA said the company would need more time to update the flight control system suspected of being involved in two recent plane crashes. (AP)
Stanford University expelled a student whose application was linked to the college admissions scandal. The student was admitted with fabricated sailing credentials, and her admission was followed by a $500,000 donation to the university's sailing program. Stanford's president said he's confident that no one in the incoming freshman class is tainted by fraud. (Stanford Daily)
- A New York judge ruled that a county in the state can't ban unvaccinated children from going to school. The decision came 10 days after Rockland County leaders decided to fight a measles outbreak by telling parents to keep their unvaccinated children at home. (Frances Stead Sellers)
- Seven Motel 6 locations in Washington state shared the personal information of their guests with federal immigration officials regularly for nearly two years, resulting in the detention of at least nine guests. Now the motel chain must pay a $12 million settlement to the affected guests. The state says the practice violated the Consumer Protection Act and Washington state laws against discrimination. (Eli Rosenberg)
The Kennedy Library Foundation announced that Nancy Pelosi will receive the JFK Profile in Courage Award. Caroline Kennedy, the foundation’s honorary president, said Pelosi would be recognized at a ceremony next month. (Felicia Sonmez)
- Pelosi invited AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka to speak to House Democrats on Wednesday about the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Republicans close to the process have taken this as a sign that Trump's proposed replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement is in trouble. (Axios)
California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) visited El Salvador during his first trip abroad as the state’s leader. Newsom, who has said he’s not running for the White House in 2020, said he chose to visit the Central American country to better understand the “diverse cultures” of California, which is home to nearly 680,000 Salvadoran immigrants. (Sacramento Bee)
Demonstrators in Toronto are protesting a trendy new restaurant located near where a homeless encampment was recently demolished. Activists complained that the pop-up restaurant, where the cheapest dining experience for a minimum of four customers costs $550, flaunts the wealth of Toronto’s richer residents while ignoring the city’s housing crisis. (Kayla Epstein)
The remains of a suspected rhino poacher who was killed by an elephant in Kruger National Park were devoured by a pride of lions. The park said rangers were able to retrieve only the man’s skull and pants. (New York Times)
A 17-foot, 140-pound Burmese python was captured in Big Cypress National Preserve in the Florida Everglades. The female snake, which contained 73 developing eggs, was the largest python ever captured in Big Cypress. (Katie Mettler)
THERE’S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:
-- Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said House Democrats will “never” see Trump’s tax returns, abandoning the president’s public promises that he will eventually release them. Colby Itkowitz reports: “Mulvaney and other Trump allies spent the weekend casting Democrats as politically motivated for formally asking the Internal Revenue Service to turn over six years of Trump’s personal and business tax returns. … Mulvaney seemed to contradict the president at one point during his [‘Fox News Sunday’] interview, saying that even under audit ‘you could always allow people to see’ the tax returns. He also argued that while the law allows the IRS to hand over tax returns to Congress, the American public has already said it doesn’t care about Trump’s returns. … Trump’s personal attorney, Jay Sekulow, argued during an appearance on ABC’s ‘This Week,’ that the Democrats were using the IRS ‘as a political weapon.’ He then suggested that Trump could turn around and ask for Nancy Pelosi’s tax returns but hasn’t.”
-- Attorney General Bill Barr will face questions about expected redactions of special counsel Bob Mueller’s report when he appears on Tuesday and Wednesday before House and Senate Appropriations committees for hearings ostensibly about the Justice Department's budget. Devlin Barrett reports: “Barr is redacting at least four categories of information from the report, which spans nearly 400 pages, before issuing it to Congress and the public. Legal experts say he has wide discretion to determine what should not be revealed, meaning the fight over blacked-out boxes is likely to spawn months of fights between Congress and the Justice Department, and it may end up in the courts.”
- “Barr is working with [Rod] Rosenstein, Mueller and their key aides to produce an edited version of the report. In a March 29 letter to lawmakers, he spelled out four areas that would be redacted: grand jury material, which could include any documents and testimony presented; information that could reveal the government’s intelligence-gathering sources or methods; information that could compromise ongoing investigations; and details that would violate the privacy of those deemed ‘peripheral’ to the investigation.”
- The redaction of grand jury material could be voluminous. “Under the federal rules of criminal procedure, government officials are not allowed to share material from grand jury proceedings. There are few exceptions. … Mueller’s investigators issued more than 2,800 subpoenas and executed nearly 500 search warrants, so the potential grand jury material is voluminous. In an odd stroke of timing, the federal appeals court in Washington issued a ruling Friday in an unrelated case that buttresses the argument for keeping a close hold on grand jury information.”
-- The federal rule governing the disclosure of grand jury information is more ambiguous than it first appears, Jeffrey Toobin argues in the New Yorker: “The Supreme Court has never precisely defined the scope of [the rule]. In its narrowest (and best) interpretation, it means that grand-jury testimony cannot be released to the public. But some courts have suggested that it covers any subject that was discussed in the grand jury—potentially a much broader category. Barr did not disclose what definition he plans to adopt, but a broad conception could keep substantial amounts of Mueller’s report out of public reach. Barr had the option of petitioning the federal district court in Washington, D.C., to relieve him of the demands of grand-jury secrecy. (Such a ruling allowed wide public disclosure of grand-jury matters during Watergate.) But there is no sign that he sought this kind of permission.”
-- Former White House counsel Don McGahn met with 40 senior Republican Senate aides and said Trump could do “180 degrees opposite” of what he’s been advised and still get away with it. “I spent the last couple of years getting yelled at,” McGahn said. “And you may soon read about some of the more spirited debates I had with the president.” Sources in the room said they understood him to be talking about the Mueller report, according to Axios's Jonathan Swan and Alayna Treene:
- “McGahn said the president runs the White House with a ‘hub and spokes model,’ often assigning the same task to multiple people. The point … is that there is no chief of staff in the usual sense. Trump doesn't trust one person as a gatekeeper, per McGahn. He dislikes intermediaries. And no member of staff is empowered because Trump is the hub and he makes the decisions; all the senior aides are spokes.”
- “McGahn said they looked for potential judges who wanted to reconsider the ‘Chevron deference,’ which requires the courts to defer to federal agencies’ ‘reasonable’ interpretations of ambiguous laws. McGahn said Trump's judges will spend 30-40 years unwinding the power of executive agencies.”
THE NEW WORLD ORDER:
-- The head of U.S. Africa Command said American forces in Libya were evacuated out of concern for a brewing war between rival militias near the country’s capital. Sudarsan Raghavan reports: “The temporary U.S. pullout, after evacuations by other countries and international businesses, underscored the fluid and tenuous environment in the country three days after a renegade commander from eastern Libya launched an offensive to seize Tripoli. On Sunday, the U.N.-backed government in Tripoli vowed to defend the capital against Gen. Khalifa Hifter, declaring that his intention is to stage a military coup. … The offensive threatens to throw Libya into full-blown civil war and usher in the most significant escalation of violence since the 2011 overthrow of dictator Moammar Gaddafi by a popular rebellion backed by NATO airstrikes. … By Sunday, at least 21 people had been killed and 27 wounded, a spokesman for the Tripoli government said.”
-- Britain unveiled a landmark proposal to penalize Facebook, Google and other tech giants for failing to stop the spread of harmful content. Tony Romm reports: “The aggressive, new plan — drafted by the United Kingdom’s leading consumer-protection authorities and blessed by Prime Minister Theresa May — targets a wide array of web content, including child exploitation, false news, terrorist activity and extreme violence. If approved by Parliament, U.K. watchdogs would gain unprecedented powers to issue fines and other punishments if social-media sites don’t swiftly remove the most egregious posts, photos and videos from public view. … Experts said the idea potentially could limit the reach of sites including 8chan, an anonymous message board where graphic, violent content often thrives and that played an important role in spreading images of last month’s mosque attack in New Zealand.”
-- An American tourist and her Ugandan driver who were kidnapped at gunpoint in Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park were released unharmed. Ugandan special forces found Kimberly Sue Endicott and Jean-Paul Mirenge Remezo near the country’s border with Congo after the tour company that organized the excursion paid a ransom to the unidentified kidnappers. Trump confirmed the hostages’ rescue over Twitter. (Max Bearak)
-- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he plans to annex settlements in the West Bank, and Palestinians have vowed to resist. Siobhán O’Grady reports: “Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki told the Associated Press on Sunday that ‘if Netanyahu wants to declare Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank, then you know he has to face a real problem,’ referring to the fate of the millions of Palestinians who live there. ‘We will stay there,’ Malki said of the West Bank. ‘The international community has to deal with us.’ Reuters quoted Palestine Liberation Organization official Hanan Ashrawi as saying that Netanyahu’s declaration would have repercussions beyond the election, calling it ‘the end of any chances of peace.’ Foreign leaders, including Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, called Netanyahu’s remarks an ‘irresponsible statement to seek votes.’”
-- Arab Israeli candidates hit the campaign trail hard in a last-ditch effort to encourage Israel’s minority Arab population to participate in the upcoming election because, if they do, they have the potential to stop a right-wing coalition led by Netanyahu from winning. Loveday Morris reports: “Arabs make up 20 percent of Israel’s electorate but historically have turned out at significantly lower rates than the majority Jewish population. Turnout in the 2015 election, energized in part by majority Arab parties joining a single parliamentary list, hit a record 63.5 percent. But on Tuesday, it’s expected to crash — some polls show that just over half of Arab Israelis plan to cast ballots. Frustration is high: The joint list has split, crime and poverty riddle Arab Israeli communities, and some say they’ve seen few results from their elected representatives. Meanwhile, a law that many Arabs complain codifies their status as second-class citizens has bolstered calls for a boycott.”
-- A 42-year-old Russian lawyer, Sevil Novruzova, has helped bring home at least 120 people from what was once the Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate. Amie Ferris-Rotman reports: “Her work — in a corner of Russia’s Caucasus region — represents just a tiny fraction of the fighters, families and others who made their way to Islamic State territory in recent years. But Novruzova’s efforts stand in sharp contrast to the political indecision in the West over whether to repatriate citizens who sided with the Islamic State. Her outreach is even more remarkable for the shift it reflects in President Vladimir Putin’s Russia. … Normally, Islamist insurgents inside Russia would receive long prison sentences. Their families were also arrested and tortured, according to human rights groups. Now, the Kremlin is attempting to reintegrate Islamic State members into society, by way of shorter stints in jail and close monitoring.”
-- Cheap antibiotics have helped fuel deadly drug-resistant infections in the developing world. The New York Times’s Andrew Jacobs and Matt Richtel report: “Antibiotics, the miracle drugs credited with saving tens of millions of lives, have never been more accessible to the world’s poor, thanks in large part to the mass production of generics in China and India. Across much of the developing world, it costs just a few dollars to buy drugs like amoxicillin, a first-line antibiotic that can be used against a broad range of infections, from bacterial pneumonia and chlamydia to salmonella, strep throat and Lyme disease. … But the increasing availability of antibiotics has accelerated an alarming downside: The drugs are losing their ability to kill the germs they were created to conquer. Hard-wired to survive, many bacteria have evolved to outsmart the medications.”
-- Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who has put out a slew of policy proposals since announcing her presidential bid, is banking on her governing expertise to attract voters. But her campaign has so far failed to attract the kind of attention and fundraising powering her opponents’ bids. Annie Linskey reports: “The risk is that these detailed initiatives may excite activists but not voters, fill the op-ed pages but not the front pages, and leave Warren with an effort that resembles a policy roadshow rather than a political campaign. … Plus, it remains to be seen whether her policies will connect to voters on an emotional level, which is how many voters make their decisions. Warren, long seen as a strong candidate, has faced a rocky start to her campaign, her allies admit privately. … She hopes to rebound with a stream of non-flashy town hall meetings where she embraces her ideas-heavy reputation. ... It’s fitting for a woman who once considered launching what she called a Center for Middle Class Policy at the New York-based Roosevelt Institute, a liberal think tank, but instead decided to run for U.S. Senate."
-- Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) raised $5 million in the first quarter of the 2020 race, an impressive haul that still puts him behind several of his competitors. Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), as well as Beto O’Rourke and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, all raised more than Booker. “Booker’s total since he announced his candidacy on Feb. 1 is less than the amount that O’Rourke and Sanders brought in the first 24 hours of entering the race,” Colby Itkowitz and David Weigel report.
-- Bernie and Beto's paths came within a few miles of each other in Iowa this weekend as both showed up in Poweshiek County, home to 19,000 people. Cleve R. Wootson Jr. and Holly Bailey report: “Both men spent the weekend campaigning heavily in Iowa and tweaking messages to address some criticisms they’ve received on the campaign trail as they fight for groups of energized and increasingly young voters ... For Sanders, who has been criticized for having little interaction with voters, that meant answering dozens of questions … For O’Rourke, who has been accused of being heavy on rhetoric and skimpy on policy specifics, it meant talking to voters in all the detail and length he could muster.”
-- O’Rourke called Bibi “racist” during one of his Iowa town halls. In response to a voter’s question about his stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Beto reiterated his commitment to a two-state solution and said the Israeli prime minister’s reelection campaign promise to annex Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank “will make peace in the long term impossible.” He said that Netanyahu has “joined forces with far-right parties who are inherently racist in their speech and the way that they want to treat their fellow human beings in that part of the world.” (Holly Bailey)
-- In an emotional speech, Mayor Pete described his struggle with his sexual orientation as a young man. NBC News’s Josh Lederman reports: Buttigieg “described wrestling with his sexual orientation as ‘a kind of war’ — one he said he was only able to win when he came home from serving in Afghanistan. As a youngster in high school and college, he said, the situation was very different. ‘If you could have offered me a pill that could make me straight, I would have swallowed it before you could give me a swig of water,’ Buttigieg said … ‘Thank God there was no pill.’ … Taking direct swipes at Vice President Mike Pence, he said his marriage last year to schoolteacher Chasten Buttigieg had made him a better man. … ‘That’s the thing I wish the Mike Pences of the world would understand: That if you have a problem with who I am, your quarrel is not with me,’ Buttigieg said. ‘Your quarrel, sir, is with my creator.’”
-- Trying to break through in a crowded field, Harris has thrown caution to the wind and continues lurching further left. The Atlantic's Elizabeth Weil reports: “Harris, on the trail, seems bolder than she has in the past. She’s declared that she’s for reparations, for the Green New Deal, for decriminalizing sex work and legalizing pot. She comes across as a woman who is cashing in her chips, taking all the political and social capital she was safeguarding for all those years and putting it on the table, declaring that her moment is now.”
-- The latest example: Harris is calling for a federal moratorium on all executions. After California's new governor signed an executive order placing a moratorium on capital punishment, more Democrats have been recalculating and reposturing on the death penalty. Beto followed Harris. “The moment marked a generational shift for a party where some candidates long supported the death penalty to protect themselves from being portrayed as soft on crime,” the New York Times’s Tim Arango reports. “Many feel that Mr. Newsom was doing his party no favors politically by forcing Democrats to talk about an issue that can still be fraught in a general election. Even in solidly Democratic California, voters in 2016 rejected a ballot initiative to end the death penalty and instead approved one to expedite executions.”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Democratic presidential candidates were busy campaigning this weekend. Here are some of the funniest moments from the campaign trail. From a writer for the Atlantic:
In Nashua, NH, @SenatorBennet just jumped on a small bench and started waving his hands in the air, making fun of @BetoORourke. This has become a running joke among other Democrats - @PeteButtigieg joked about standing on things at events last night and this morning in NH. pic.twitter.com/DEuxzsGk31— Edward-Isaac Dovere (@IsaacDovere) April 6, 2019
New York magazine highlighted this scenery around the South Bend, Ind., mayor:
Team of Vipers, a book by a former Trump aide, on the shelf behind Buttigieg, as a reporter asks him how he will respond to Trump “once the name calling begins.” pic.twitter.com/V4lRZ65yvA— Olivia Nuzzi (@Olivianuzzi) April 6, 2019
A Post reporter reacted to Buttigieg's embrace of “democratic capitalism”:
Apropos of nothing, Elizabeth Warren's campaign theme song is "9 to 5," which includes the line— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) April 7, 2019
"They just use your mind and they never give you credit
It's enough to drive you crazy if you let it"https://t.co/l5Cj7Yiev7
An MSNBC reporter caught this comment at a party held for Beto O'Rourke:
Overheard at @BetoORourke’s 5th house party today: “He had me at Teddy Roosevelt.”— Garrett Haake (@GarrettHaake) April 6, 2019
(O’Rourke regularly name-drops TR as a progressive who took on economic inequality)
Cory Booker appeared to be in search of a magic wand, per a New York Times reporter:
Question for Booker starts off: "There are some magic people who can cast spells. real spells..."— Nick Corasaniti (@NYTnickc) April 6, 2019
Booker: "This may be my favorite question. So keep going."
Former senator Mike Gravel, who has entered the 2020 field with the sole aim of appearing in the primary debates to push the field to the left, got in this dig against Booker:
if you want a vision of the future under Cory Booker, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever. and every once in a while it stops for an inspirational lecture on how we should never stop dreaming— Mike Gravel (@MikeGravel) April 6, 2019
Gov. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) responded to a New York magazine piece on high school yearbook photos of 2020 candidates:
Columnist Connie Schultz, who is married to Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), complimented two of the 2020 candidates:
This is who I know these two women to be. And like so many strong women, they carry as they climb. https://t.co/FVAd6f8Uqq— Connie Schultz (@ConnieSchultz) April 7, 2019
She also congratulated her husband on his new book:
More book news in our family: @SenSherrodBrown’s new book, “Desk 88: Eight Progressive Senators Who Changed America,” will be published by Farrar Straus Giroux on November 5.— Connie Schultz (@ConnieSchultz) April 7, 2019
Sherrod has worked on this book for a decade. So proud of you, honey.https://t.co/H6G4qSHkhb pic.twitter.com/oUJV14o6xm
Meanwhile, an Obama-era DOJ spokesman slammed the White House's response to House Democrats' request for Trump's tax returns:
The worst part about this is how the WH isn’t even pretending the IRS will make a decision on its own, free from political interference. A total breakdown in the rule of law. https://t.co/TEsjpauHns— Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) April 7, 2019
George Conway, who is married to White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, joked about possible redactions in Mueller's report:
... how much are they gonna charge if the report looks like this? pic.twitter.com/Vt0TKTrEWj— George Conway (@gtconway3d) April 7, 2019
Conservative pundit Bill Kristol criticized Republicans backing Trump's picks for the Fed board:
In 2005, many of us who'd voted for George W. Bush the year before opposed his nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, and we prevailed. Which Trump supporters will speak up against the (perhaps more egregious) nominations of Stephen Moore and Herman Cain to the Fed?— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) April 7, 2019
A Nevada Independent editor noted this piece of Trump-themed religious wear:
The House speaker's daughter celebrated Pelosi receiving the Kennedy Profile in Courage Award:
Always loved this picture of young Mom and young JFK. Who would have guessed when they met that Nancy D’Alesandro Pelosi would be elected the first woman US House Speaker, JFK would be elected US President - and NDP would receive the JFK Profile In Courage Award? #womenlead pic.twitter.com/Mm1PCv4ZKP— this account fights scaredy-cats🙀 (@sfpelosi) April 7, 2019
And, up in the air, a Southwest flight attendant decided to make a joke:
our Southwest flight attendant, preparing to collect beverage cups before landing, advises passengers to “drink up like Judge Kavanaugh”— John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) April 8, 2019
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
-- Foreign Policy, “The Improbable Rise of Huawei,” by Keith Johnson and Elias Groll: “In less than a decade, allegedly thanks in part to billions of dollars in support from the Chinese government, the privately held Huawei has become the world’s largest telecom equipment company, last year posting more than $107 billion in revenue from operations in some 170 countries. More important, Huawei has, by most accounts, taken the lead in the race to develop one of the modern world’s most important technologies: fifth-generation mobile telephony. Unlike its various predecessors, which simply offered consumers the ability to send texts, then to surf the web on their phones, and finally to stream video, 5G promises to revolutionize the entire global economy. And for perhaps the first time in China’s modern history, Huawei’s growing market share and technological prowess are putting a champion of the Chinese government in a position to dominate a next-generation technology.”
-- New York Times, “Hunger and an ‘Abandoned’ Hospital: Puerto Rico Waits as Washington Bickers,” by Patricia Mazzei: “A newborn’s cries rarely echo anymore though the hallways of what passes as a hospital on the ravaged island of Vieques, off the coast of Puerto Rico. … Hurricane Maria closed the island’s only labor and delivery room, forcing expectant mothers to travel, usually by sea, to the big island eight miles away to have their babies. … Puerto Rican leaders say the delay to the Vieques hospital and thousands of other stalled projects is a reflection of unequal treatment from the White House and Congress, which last week failed to pass disaster relief legislation because of a dispute over how much money to send the island.”
-- ProPublica, “The IRS Tried to Take on the Ultrawealthy. It Didn’t Go Well,” by Jesse Eisinger and Paul Kiel: “On June 30, 2016, an auto-parts magnate received the kind of news anyone would dread: The Internal Revenue Service had determined he had engaged in abusive tax maneuvers. ... The IRS wanted over $1.2 billion in back taxes and penalties. The magnate, Georg Schaeffler, was the billionaire scion of a family-owned German manufacturer and was quietly working as a corporate lawyer in Dallas. Schaeffler had extra reason to fear the IRS, it seemed. He wasn’t in the sights of just any division of the agency but the equivalent of its SEAL Team 6. ... The billionaire’s lawyers and accountants first crafted a transaction of unusual complexity, one so novel that they acknowledged, even as they planned it, that it was likely to be challenged by the IRS. Then Schaeffler deployed teams of professionals to battle the IRS on multiple fronts. ... Schaeffler’s representatives complained to top officials at the agency; they challenged document requests in court. ... In the end, Schaeffler’s team emerged almost completely victorious.
HOT ON THE LEFT:
While he visited the border on Friday, Trump said “our country is full,” a statement that, in Germany, a local division of the anti-immigrant, nationalist Alternative for Germany group celebrated. Isaac Stanley-Becker reports: “‘Can’t take you anymore,’ he said, as if he were addressing migrants from Mexico and Central America directly, though none were in the room for the roundtable in Calexico, Calif. ... Trump’s language ... fits a pattern of far-right rhetoric reemerging globally. Fear of an immigrant takeover motivates fascist activity in Europe, where, historically, the specter of overcrowding has been used to justify ethnic cleansing. Adolf Hitler promised ‘living space’ for Germans as the basis of an expansionist project, which historians said distinguishes the Third Reich from today’s xenophobic governments. Still, experts found parallels.”
HOT ON THE RIGHT:
“Nunes sending eight criminal referrals” to the attorney general, from CNN: “California Rep. Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, said Sunday he was planning to send eight criminal referrals to [Barr] as soon as this week. [Nunes] did not say who he would be referring in a Fox News interview on Sunday. Appearing on Fox's ‘Sunday Morning Futures,’ Nunes said five of the referrals are related to lying to Congress, misleading Congress and leaking classified information. The other referrals, Nunes said, are allegations of lying to the FISA court that approves foreign surveillance warrants, manipulating intelligence and what he described as a ‘global leak referral,’ which Nunes said wasn't tied to one individual.”
Trump will participate in a credentialing ceremony for new ambassadors before meeting with the secretary of state.
Pence will meet with the Brazilian vice president.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
Pete Buttigieg made a pitch for his potential presidency, saying it would provide relief from Washington’s “mesmerizing horror show”: “Here you have this moment, probably the only moment in American history where it just might make sense for somebody my age, coming from experience in the industrial Midwest, nonfederal, different background, bringing something that will actually help Americans envision the world as it will be in 2054 and just change the channel from this mesmerizing horror show that's going on in Washington right now.” (Politico)
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- Go out and enjoy the warmest day we’ll have this week! The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “For several days this week, it’s like we’re skipping ahead to May. Today, tomorrow and Friday, temperatures should climb well into the 70s, at least. But it’s a bit unsettled, too, with the chance for showers and storms today, Friday and again Sunday.”
-- The Nationals beat the Mets 12-9. (Jesse Dougherty)
-- The Wizards lost to the Knicks 113-110. (Candace Buckner)
-- Michael Busch, the longest-serving speaker of Maryland’s House, died at 72, a day before the end of the annual legislative session. The Democratic delegate passed away a week after being hospitalized for pneumonia. Adam Bernstein reports: “Busch, a former collegiate football star who parlayed his esteem on the gridiron into a political career, and who as [speaker] helped shepherd laws that improved access to health care and legalized same-sex marriage, died April 7 at a hospital in Baltimore. … Busch, an Anne Arundel County Democrat, was a low-key but highly influential fixture in the Maryland State House until his death. He was regarded as a respected dealmaker, known for a folksy style that leaned heavily on consensus-building. He skillfully managed his party and his chamber, with all its egos.”
-- The Maryland House will end the legislative session mourning its longtime leader. Erin Cox and Ovetta Wiggins report: “Traditionally a frenetic and celebratory day of lawmaking, Monday will instead open on a somber note, with lawmakers awaiting word of funeral plans and uncertain about who will claim the speaker’s mantle. ... His death prompted an outpouring of condolences from allies and opponents who worked with him over his decades in politics. [Gov. Larry] Hogan (R), a political adversary, called Busch ‘a giant in our government’ and said ‘this is a profoundly sad day for Maryland.’ … It was an unexpected and solemn coda to a legislative session that began with the announcement that Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert), the legislature’s other top leader, was battling Stage 4 prostate cancer. The two men have dominated Democratic politics in Maryland for decades.”
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
John Oliver discussed how large investment companies are making mobile homes less of an affordable housing option:
Saturday Night Live” took a stab at the way former vice president Joe Biden handled his response to the allegations against him:
The show also musicalized what a day in British Prime Minister Theresa May's life might look like:
And the Bush family revealed a forever stamp honoring President George H.W. Bush: