With Joanie Greve and Mariana Alfaro
THE BIG IDEA:
SAUSALITO, Calif. — A cyber arms race is underway, and few Americans have noticed.
Lisa Monaco, who served as the homeland security adviser in Barack Obama’s White House, said many countries are changing how they approach the digital battlefield, from focusing primarily on espionage toward “geopolitical one-upmanship.”
“The game is getting disrupted,” she said. “If we had this conversation two and a half years ago, I would have described the threat I was seeing at the time as more diffuse, more sophisticated and more dangerous than at any other time in my career in government. Today I have an overwhelming sense that if we look at the threat actors as basically aligned in a drag race – nation states, non-state actors, hacktivists, criminal groups – the nation states have far and away set themselves apart.”
Monaco spoke on Friday night during a four-day cybersecurity conference sponsored by the nonpartisan Hewlett Foundation, which convened a few dozen insiders from the national security community along with executives from technology companies to discuss threats facing the United States in the brave new digital world and how to better respond to them.
While Russia and election interference still garnered significant attention, many of the conversations were about other emerging – and sobering – risks. There is a desire among many experts not to fight the last war but to prepare for the next one.
“You can’t understate how much damage Edward Snowden really did because what he did was expose how sophisticated United States efforts were, and now everyone feels like they have to catch up,” said Matthew Prince, chief executive of the Internet security firm Cloudflare, referring to the former NSA contractor who is now a fugitive in Moscow.
Monaco pointed to recent reporting about Vietnam targeting multinational automotive companies, possibly for the benefit of its domestic auto industry. She said Americans need to impose high costs on bad actors and to isolate them. “We should not be naive about how difficult deterrence is in cyberspace,” she said, “but we’re not practicing it enough.”
-- It’s easier than ever for countries with cash to hire mercenaries to do their bidding in cyberspace. Many regimes around the globe appear to be increasingly aggressive about contracting with commercial spyware companies. Ron Deibert, the director of the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto, oversees a team of researchers who track the commercial abuse of spyware and surveillance technologies against dissidents, journalists and other pillars of civil society. They have collected evidence that for-profit companies in countries like Israel have helped government forces in places such as Saudi Arabia and Mexico infect the phones of people who are critical of their policies. They trick people into clicking phishing links and take over their phones without their knowledge. Once that happens, they can turn on the microphone, the camera and location services and even read texts on encrypted apps. The technologies have stealth mode capabilities so that the villains can cover their tracks.
“We feel this is becoming something of a crisis,” Deibert said in an hour-long briefing on his research. “Civil society organizations are being targeted, but they don’t have the same defense mechanisms as government or industry.”
-- Microsoft President Brad Smith expressed concern about emerging artificial intelligence and facial recognition technology falling into the wrong hands. “To me, the most dangerous abuse would be its use by authoritarian governments to really seek to chill, if not eliminate, all rights of people to assemble to express their points of view,” he said during a lunch-hour conversation on Friday. “It’s actually a big challenge because facial recognition … favors those who have the most data. … That’s the quintessential incentive for a race to the bottom [in which companies take any deal they can get]. … Arguably, the only way to prevent a race to the bottom is to have a regulatory floor. So we need laws to be put in place.”
Smith said Microsoft has been turning down revenue for this reason. “One deal we turned down roughly a year ago was to an authoritarian government that wanted to roll it out over a capital city where we concluded that we just wouldn’t have confidence that human rights would be protected,” he said in a lunchtime Q&A. “Now if there were a hospital in that same country where there was a specific way to use it to promote better health care, and if it was tied to a service that ran in our own data center – so that the technology wouldn’t be in the wild … and I had confidence that we could control it in a way that was responsible – I wouldn’t necessarily say no.”
-- With the proliferation of cyber-operations by other state actors, Monaco warned that U.S. government sites remain vulnerable and pressed for more focus on data security. She said the hacks of the Office of Personnel Management in 2014 and 2015 underscored systemic weaknesses. U.S. officials have said that the Chinese government is responsible for the OPM breach, which gave Beijing access to major databases and exposed the sensitive information of about 22.1 million people, including not just federal employees and contractors but their families and friends.
“OPM was a parade of horribles, beginning with legacy systems that frankly were incapable of being secured because they were so old,” Monaco said. “It is a function of a failure of the federal government and Congress to fund an actual revolving fund to replace systems that actually can be secured. Your home system or the company you work in wouldn’t dream of having some of these legacy systems.”
She said that military servers and classified networks are in a much better position, but civilian agencies remain weak links. “There are marks of progress, but there’s a lot more work to do on the federal side,” said Monaco, a former federal prosecutor who served as chief of staff to Bob Mueller when he was FBI director and worked at the Justice Department during Obama’s first term. “Incidentally, we’re not better off now that we don’t have a cybersecurity coordinator in the White House.”
The Obama administration rolled out a Cybersecurity National Action Plan that sought $300 million in a revolving fund to replace legacy systems across the federal government. She said they asked every single agency in the government – down to the Marine Mammal Commission – to identify the information in its possession that could be most valuable to a foreign government.
“It’s still not fully funded,” she said. “The lesson was that we need to look at data in a whole new way. It’s no longer an issue of securing your systems. That continues to be an issue, but a lot of us and a lot of organizations have pretty much gone to school on that. But we have to be looking at the data that we gather, that we consume and that we use.”
-- Eric Rosenbach, who was the chief of staff to Defense Secretary Ash Carter during Obama’s second term and now co-directs the Belfer Center at Harvard, said other countries are much less responsible and cautious about conducting offensive cyber-operations than the United States. He warned that 2016 offered only a small taste of the danger.
“What really happened with the election was very, very, very minimal compared to what it could be. Even though we see that as a risk, it’s maybe even bigger now because what the bad guys saw was a very weak response,” he said. “Imagine there is the big attack – maybe it’s against GPS, that’s something that is really worrisome.”
What worries him is an overreaction or an overcorrection to something like that. “Imagine the next day – like after 9/11 – all of the things that are passed, in particular if it’s with this administration,” Rosenbach said. “What’s actually worse: The reaction and what that would do to civil liberties, privacy and democracy? Or GPS going down for who knows how long? That’s actually a little frightening.”
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- First look: Scott Walker is joining the Institute for Reforming Government as its national honorary chairman as he flushes out his post-gubernatorial role in the conservative movement. Through the 501(c)(3) nonprofit, which operates like a think tank, the Republican will give advice to leaders in other states on how they can replicate what he did in Wisconsin vis-à-vis rolling back regulations, overhauling the tax code and more. The group has been looking to expand. Walker has also signed on with another organization pushing for a federal balanced budget amendment to the Constitution and a separate group that focuses on helping Republicans win in redistricting fights. “We turned Wisconsin around with bold conservative reforms that made government get out of the way, and the Institute for Reforming Government is all about furthering that mission across the country,” Walker said in a statement.
GET SMART FAST:
- Tiger Woods won the Masters, his first major victory in nearly 11 years. He secured his fifth green jacket 14 years after winning his previous one. (Cindy Boren)
- Strong storms that swept across the South killed at least eight people. Dozens more have been injured, and nearly 90,000 people remain without electricity. (AP)
- American Airlines extended its cancellations of Boeing 737 Max flights through Aug. 19. Southwest Airlines has already said it will cancel 737 Max 8 flights through early August, reflecting a growing realization among Boeing's airline customers that the planes’ grounding will continue longer than initially anticipated. (Aaron Gregg)
- A Columbia University student’s contentious encounter with police triggered campus protests. Alexander McNab, a senior who is black, was asked for his student ID and pinned onto a countertop while trying to pick up some leftovers from a campus library, an exchange that was filmed by a fellow student. (Katie Mettler)
- Wilton Gregory, the new leader of the Archdiocese of Washington, helped take the most aggressive action against abuse in U.S. church history during the early 2000s. Gregory will now take what is arguably the most important leadership role in America for the Catholic Church. (Michelle Boorstein, Julie Zauzmer and Sarah Pulliam Bailey)
- Mainstream retailers are embracing cannabidiol, a hemp and marijuana compound that doesn’t cause a high, despite little evidence supporting its health benefits. Skin creams, oils and some snacks infused with CBD are becoming popular. (AP)
- A Florida man was killed by an enormous bird that he raised on his farm. Marvin Hajos was attacked by a cassowary, which experts have called the “world’s most dangerous bird.” (Kayla Epstein)
- One of the world’s rarest turtles died in China, leaving just three remaining. The Yangtze giant softshell turtle, which was over 90 years old, died after experts tried to artificially inseminate it. The species is critically endangered because of overfishing and the destruction of its habitat. (BBC)
- HBO's “Game of Thrones” returned last night for its final season. We gathered some of the things you might've missed in the first episode of Season 8 for this spoiler-packed review. (David Malitz)
THERE’S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:
-- Driving the week: With the redacted version of special counsel Bob Mueller's report expected in the coming days, Democrats and Republicans are preparing their responses. The Wall Street Journal’s Aruna Viswanatha reports: “The wait over exactly when the report is arriving has much of the Washington region agonizing over whether to cancel travel plans. Congress is scheduled to be on recess, and public schools in Washington and some Virginia and Maryland suburbs will be on spring break. Last Tuesday, [Attorney General Bill] Barr said it would come within a week. There also is a question of in what form the report will be delivered. Will it be on paper or digitally? Which color-coding will be used for the redactions? Will it be a searchable PDF document or sheets of paper fed into a scanner?
“Some congressional offices have stockpiled whiskey and drafted pizza orders in anticipation of a reading marathon. ... Once the report does arrive, House Judiciary Committee lawyers and aides plan to crowd into a staff office and pore over it. Among their goals will be determining how big a gap is between what they have requested and what the redacted copy offers. That measure will inform whether the committee issues a subpoena to obtain evidence underlying the report. … Lawyers for Mr. Trump have for months been preparing a counter-report. It is now 140 pages long, but lawyers want to whittle it down to about 50, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said in an interview.”
-- Trump “has revived an idea that his administration rejected — sending immigrant detainees to so-called sanctuary cities — in part, people close to him said, to distract from the report,” the New York Times’s Annie Karni and Maggie Haberman report. “Mr. Trump is purposefully escalating his language, people who know him said, expressly to enliven his base of supporters and to enrage his political rivals and the news media.”
-- The president’s allies say they feel vindicated after Barr told the Senate that “spying” occurred against Trump’s 2016 campaign, even though the attorney general later appeared to backtrack. Devlin Barrett and Rachael Bade report: “The reaction has underscored a deep distrust between Trump’s allies and top law enforcement officials, and between the Justice Department’s current and past leadership. … The president’s reelection campaign, meanwhile, is selling T-shirts depicting [Obama] lurking in thick green shrubbery with a set of spy glasses. An advertisement circulated Friday night read: ’AG Barr believes the Obama Admin illegally spied on Pres Trump. We Need Answers! Fight Back!’ [Barr did not use the word illegally.] ... Yet for those who worked on the Russia probe and other high-profile political investigations, Barr’s words were a below-the-belt attack.”
-- Stonewalling watch: White House press secretary Sarah Sanders claimed that lawmakers are not “smart enough” to examine Trump’s tax returns. “Frankly, Chris, I don’t think Congress — particularly not this group of congressmen and women — are smart enough to look through the thousands of pages that I would assume that President Trump’s taxes will be,” Sanders told “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace. “My guess is most of them don’t do their own taxes, and I certainly don’t trust them to look through the decades of success that the president has and determine anything.” (Felicia Sonmez)
-- Ten members of Congress are certified public accountants, CNN notes.
-- House Democrats set a new deadline for the IRS to provide Trump’s tax returns. Ways and Means Chairman Richie Neal (D-Mass.) gave the IRS an extension until April 23 to produce the returns after the executive branch refused to comply with the previous deadline last week. A subpoena, and court fight, could follow. (Roll Call)
THE IMMIGRATION WARS:
-- Several House Democrats called on White House policy adviser Stephen Miller to testify about immigration policy. Mike DeBonis, Rachael Bade and Felicia Sonmez report: “Miller has emerged as a key target for Democrats who see him as an influential survivor in an administration that has otherwise churned through personnel. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) on Sunday cited Miller’s role in developing the targeted-release plan in calling on him to testify. … Nadler on Sunday conceded that Miller is likely to invoke executive privilege to avoid testimony, but he said that would be a 'misuse' of the claim. 'He seems to be making the decisions — not the Cabinet secretaries who come and go,' Nadler said.”
-- Sarah Sanders said Sunday that the plan to send immigrants apprehended at the border to sanctuary cities remains on the table. The press secretary said that the proposal is not an “ideal solution" but that if Democrats refuse to make concessions to Trump on border security, the White House is prepared to "put some of those people into their communities" and see how they react. (Sonmez and DeBonis)
-- On Twitter, Trump attacked Mayor Libby Schaaf (D) of Oakland, Calif., for not wanting immigrants released in her city. But Schaff had, in fact, said Oakland “welcomes all” when asked the day before. (Kayla Epstein)
-- The White House is weighing broader curbs to immigration that would target countries whose citizens overstay their short-term visitor visas. The Wall Street Journal’s Louise Radnofsky and Rebecca Ballhaus report: “The effort would target nationals of countries with high overstay rates of such visas, which include the African nations of Nigeria, Chad, Eritrea, Liberia and Sierra Leone … The U.S. as part of a new rule would tell the countries’ governments that if rates don’t reverse, then future visas could be shorter or harder to get, according to an administration official who described the move as putting those countries ‘on notice.’” The administration is also reportedly still considering tightening student and investor visas; working on preventing immigrants from coming to the U.S. or becoming citizens if they’re likely to use publicly funded benefits; publishing a rule revoking work authorization from the spouses of some high-skilled H-1B visa holders; and setting a maximum length of authorized stay for student visas.
-- Trump’s reelection campaign said it raised $30 million in the first quarter. (NBC News)
-- Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) raised an unimpressive $3 million during the first quarter, an especially low figure for someone who represents New York. Her campaign chalked it up to her early condemnation of Al Franken, which they say soured big donors on the senator. But she's also been unable to excite small-dollar donors or progressives. Sonmez reports: “Gillibrand has more than $10 million cash on hand ... That number includes a $9.6 million transfer from Gillibrand’s Senate campaign account. ... Gillibrand’s campaign said there was ‘no question’ that its fundraising in the first quarter ‘was adversely impacted by certain establishment donors — and many online — who continue to punish Kirsten for standing up for her values and for women.’”
-- Pete Buttigieg officially launched his presidential bid in South Bend, Ind. Robert Costa reports: “The scene for Buttigieg’s rally was a hulking former Studebaker assembly plant, whose closure decades ago rocked this region’s economy. The site has since become a data and education hub pushed by his administration — and central to his technocratic, hopeful pitch that he is ready to help communities still struggling with the effects of globalization. … Some attendees drove from around the country after being inspired by Buttigieg’s message and the historic nature of his campaign as a gay presidential candidate. … Buttigieg’s challenge in the coming months: translating this meteoric momentum and goodwill among Democrats who are eager to cheer a confident, youthful voice from the Midwest into a sustained national campaign that can outpace candidates whose careers have made them popular with activists and donors.”
-- Buttigieg continues to enjoy the media spotlight, including a new cover story in New York magazine by Olivia Nuzzi.
-- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is unique among Democratic presidential candidates for his attempts to reach voters who backed Trump in 2016. Sean Sullivan reports: “It’s a sharp contrast with other Democratic candidates who are focused on mobilizing Trump opponents. Not incidentally, it is also a way to signal to Democrats that Sanders is their best hope for knocking off Trump, at a time when many fear he is the opposite. … Sanders argues that he can reclaim these voters by convincing them he can deliver the economic relief they were seeking all along.”
-- Sanders accused the Center for American Progress, an influential liberal think tank, of “using its resources to smear” him in an open letter. The New York Times’s Ken Vogel and Sydney Ember report: “Mr. Sanders sent the letter days after a website run by the action fund, ThinkProgress, suggested that his attacks on income inequality were hypocritical in light of his growing personal wealth. The letter is tantamount to a warning shot to the Democratic establishment that Mr. Sanders — who continues to criticize party insiders on the campaign trail — will not countenance a repeat of the 2016 primary, when he and his supporters believe party leaders and allies worked to deny him the Democratic nomination.”
-- Sen. Kamala Harris released 15 years of tax returns showing she and her husband made nearly $2 million last year. Chelsea Janes reports: “Most of the adjusted gross income of $1,884,319 in 2018 reported by Harris (D-Calif.) came from her husband Doug Emhoff’s earnings as a lawyer. Harris reported $157,352 in Senate salary and $320,125 in net profit from the memoir she released before announcing her campaign. … Harris joins Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), [Gillibrand], and Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), as well as Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, in making tax returns public.” Sanders, Buttigieg, Beto O’Rourke and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) have not released their returns, although Sanders said he would do so by today.
-- Klobuchar, who had already released 12 years of returns, posted her 2018 filing this morning.
-- Joe Biden intends to campaign for the White House by casting himself as an heir to Barack Obama’s legacy. But he's struggling to re-create the former president’s diverse coalition. The AP’s Thomas Beaumont and Julie Pace report: “The former vice president has begun testing the approach as he nears an expected campaign launch later this month. After remarks at a recent labor union event, Biden said he was proud to be an ‘Obama-Biden Democrat,’ coining a term that his advisers define as pragmatic and progressive, and a bridge between the working-class white voters who have long had an affinity for Biden and the younger, more diverse voters who backed Obama in historic numbers.”
THE NEW WORLD ORDER:
-- As the crisis in Venezuela drags on, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled to the region and defended the Trump administration's faltering approach. John Hudson reports: “As Maduro maintains his grip on the military and the pace of nations recognizing opposition figure Juan Guaidó as the rightful leader slows, Pompeo has more forcefully defended U.S. leadership in the crisis and the righteousness of its intent. During a news conference in Lima, Pompeo responded testily when a Washington Post reporter asked whether Peru might consider engaging with Maduro if Western sanctions against the regime worsen the humanitarian and refugee crisis. ‘Your question showed an incredible lack of understanding,’ Pompeo said. ... ‘To have suggested that somehow the policies that Peru has taken or that the Lima Group has taken or that the United States has taken have driven these refugees. You shouldn’t ask questions like that.’”
-- The Trump administration’s Israeli-Palestinian peace plan is expected to stop short of endorsing a two-state solution. Anne Gearan and Souad Mekhennet report: “The White House is expected to roll out its long-anticipated peace package later this spring or by early summer, after more than two years of effort by Trump adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner. Officials have kept details of the plan secret, but comments from Kushner and other U.S. officials suggest that it does away with statehood as the starting premise of peace efforts as it has been over the past two decades. … Most analysts give Kushner little chance of success where decades of U.S.-backed efforts have failed. His prospects are worsened by the perception among European and some Arab leaders that Trump has shown his cards through a series of actions favorable to Israel. Arab officials familiar with Kushner’s sales pitches said he has offered no specifics but suggested that the plan turned on economic opportunities for Palestinians and an enshrining of Israeli control of disputed territory.”
-- The Red Cross said a nurse kidnapped by the Islamic State five years ago may still be alive. The New York Times’s Rukmini Callimachi and Adam Goldman report: “Louisa Akavi, 62, a New Zealand nurse and midwife … was abducted in late 2013 in the northwest Syrian city of Idlib. She is one of the last links to the group of at least 23 Western hostages held by ISIS, a majority of whom were released for ransom while others were killed in widely publicized beheadings. For more than five years, her employer and her government imposed an especially strict media blackout, warning that any mention not only of her identity, but even of her nationality, could endanger her. But now that ISIS’ caliphate has collapsed, the aid group has broken its silence in hopes that the public can help find her and two Red Cross drivers, both Syrians, kidnapped alongside her.”
-- The FBI has barred some Chinese scholars from visiting the U.S. over spying fears. The New York Times's Jane Perlez reports: “The F.B.I. has mounted a counterintelligence operation that aims to bar Chinese academics from the United States if they are suspected of having links to Chinese intelligence agencies. As many as 30 Chinese professors in the social sciences, heads of academic institutes, and experts who help explain government policies have had their visas to the United States canceled in the past year, or put on administrative review, according to Chinese academics and their American counterparts. It follows the warning of the F.B.I. director, Christopher A. Wray, at a Senate hearing last year that China presented ‘a whole-of-society threat on their end’ that required a ‘whole-of-society response.’”
-- Only one Ukranian presidential candidate showed up to what was supposed to be a debate between the two candidates in the runoff. Volodymyr Zelensky, a comedian and the front-runner, failed to show at the debate, leaving current president Petro Poroshenko to discuss Ukraine's future by himself. (New York Times)
-- The German far right is capitalizing on migrant crimes as it appeals to voters in preparation for the European Parliament elections next month. Although police statistics show that 39 percent of violent crimes in Germany were committed by foreigners last year, the country is also experiencing its lowest crime rates since its reunification in 1990. (The Local)
-- Ivanka Trump is visiting Ethiopia this week to promote women’s empowerment. (AP)
-- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) asked the Capitol Police to increase protection for Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) after Trump tweeted a video of the congresswoman spliced with footage of the 9/11 attacks. Felicia Sonmez reports: “Typically, only members of congressional leadership have designated Capitol Police security details. … Pelosi had earlier come under criticism from some Democrats, including Rep. Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), for a statement in which she condemned the video Trump shared but made no mention of Omar. On Sunday, in addition to mentioning Omar, Pelosi called on Trump to ‘take down his disrespectful and dangerous video.’ ‘The President’s words weigh a ton, and his hateful and inflammatory rhetoric creates real danger,’ the speaker said. Last week, a man in New York was arrested and charged with threatening to kill Omar, whom he had described as a ‘terrorist.’”
-- Omar said she’s faced increased death threats since Trump tweeted that video. “Violent rhetoric and all forms of hate speech have no place in our society, much less from our country’s Commander in Chief,” she said. “We are all Americans. This is endangering lives. It has to stop.” (Tim Elfrink)
-- Omar is the latest target in a trend of conservatives demonizing women of color, observes New York Times columnist Charles Blow: “While the unrelenting attacks on Omar are newsworthy unto themselves as a conservative peculiarity, I believe that the attacks should be viewed through a wider and longer lens. Omar is only the most recent minority woman onto whom conservatives have trained their fire. … The strategy is simple: While sexism and racism are potent individually, they are devastating in combination, particularly when appealing to a party dominated by white men and which exalts white supremacy and white patriarchy. The only women they truly honor are white women who obsequiously condone or actively participate in the oppression.”
ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN:
-- Mike Pence kowtows to Trump more than anyone else in the White House, per the Atlantic’s Peter Nicholas. “The keys: praising Trump, mastering skills that he values, and forging alliances in a rivalrous West Wing. If none of that works, plant yourself in front of a TV camera and impress the boss. ... Perhaps the most obsequious of all the president’s men and women is his No. 2, present and past White House staff members say. … Pence rarely disagrees with Trump in staff meetings, a practice that has irritated some White House aides who wish he’d take a bolder stand.”
- Breaking with tradition, Trump and Pence don’t have regular one-on-one lunches but instead eat together with their top aides present as a TV tuned to cable news plays in the background. Aides have said Trump will sometimes yell at the TV while eating chicken and cheeseburgers with Pence.
- Trump has also made it clear that Pence is in his debt, particularly after Pence endorsed Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) in the 2016 Indiana primary. “I won the primary,” Trump reportedly told Pence in 2017, “and now look at where you are, Mike.”
- While in Congress, Pence voted repeatedly for free-trade deals, touting NAFTA and the benefits it brought to Indiana farmers. Given his history, aides were hopeful that he would dissuade Trump from ending the treaty. Instead, Pence told Trump “he was ‘a strong leader’ and said that pulling out of NAFTA would ‘send a powerful message,’ people familiar with the matter said."
- Trump is pleased with Pence’s loyalty. Giuliani has said Trump refers to his No. 2 as “probably the best choice I made — and I made a few bad ones.”
-- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has learned to play by Trump’s rules. The New York Times’s Glenn Thrush reports: “Seeking little credit — and getting even less — Mr. McConnell has expedited virtually everything Mr. Trump has asked of him since 2017 … But critics say Mr. McConnell’s acquiescence — he even strong-armed Senate rule changes to ease the president’s nominations to confirmation — has only encouraged Mr. Trump to go further out of the mainstream. ... Mr. McConnell, speaking in his office last week, promoted his collaboration with the White House on nominations and tax reform but pushed back when asked if Mr. Trump’s unpredictable behavior had hijacked his legacy. ‘My legacy is shaped by how I handle myself and what I do,’ he said. … Democrats disagree. ‘Anyone that deals with the president is part of the Trump message,’ said former Senator Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat ... ‘It’s not anything you want to define who you are, you know, by virtue of Donald Trump.’”
-- Stephen Moore, Trump’s nominee for the Federal Reserve Board, is a self-described “radical” who has been critical of democracy. CNN’s Andrew Kaczynksi and Paul LeBlanc report: “In speeches and radio interviews ... Moore advocated for eliminating the corporate and federal income taxes entirely, calling the 16th Amendment that created the income tax the ‘most evil’ law passed in the 20th century. … In other interviews and appearances, Moore repeatedly said he believed capitalism was more important than democracy."
-- Renewing his attacks on the Fed, Trump said the stock market would be “5000 to 10,000” points higher had it not been for the central bank’s actions, saying quantitative tightening was a “killer.” Bloomberg News’s Margarat Talev reports: “U.S. stocks have risen sharply this year after the Fed’s dovish pivot, reversing a late-2018 swoon. The benchmark S&P 500 Index closed Friday at 2,907.41, less than one percent below its record high close from September. U.S. central bankers in March signaled no rate moves in 2019, based on their outlook for solid if unspectacular economic growth with inflation near goal.”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Trump criticized Pelosi after CBS's 60 Minutes” aired an interview with her last night, and she responded:
Buttigieg relaunched his website with a new color scheme:
A Post reporter noted that Buttigieg finishing third in the DNC chair race last year turned out to be a lucky break:
Both runner-ups for the DNC chairmanship -- MN Attorney General Keith Ellison and first-tier presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg -- are having a *lot* more fun than they would have in that DNC job.— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) April 14, 2019
An MSNBC host had some thoughts on the growing enthusiasm for Buttigieg:
In a lifetime of following politics, the only time I have heard as excited a reaction to a campaign as I heard today about @PeteButtigieg’s launch was @BarackObama in 2008 and Ronald Reagan in 1980.— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) April 14, 2019
Yes, it’s very early. But the reaction has been remarkable. pic.twitter.com/MGyexI1Og0
Obama's former campaign chief strategist praised Buttigieg's speech:
A powerful, coherent and well-delivered announcement speech from @PeteButtigieg. Rooted himself in the middle of the country and American values AND heralded a new generation and new era.— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) April 14, 2019
Who knows where it goes, but this is not a thing. It’s real.
Buttigieg's husband commented on the candidate's speechwriting process:
Yes. This morning. He’s been noodling on it for weeks. Didn’t even have a cup of coffee because he gave it up for lent. (How?!?!) Buddy, Truman, and I felt very guilty for sleeping in.— Chasten Buttigieg (@Chas10Buttigieg) April 15, 2019
Buttigieg and other 2020 candidates criticized Trump for attacking Rep. Ilhan Omar:
The president today made America smaller. It is not enough to condemn him; we must model something better.— Pete Buttigieg (@PeteButtigieg) April 13, 2019
For two years, this President has used the most powerful platform in the world to sow hate & division. He's done it again. Putting the safety of a sitting member of Congress @IlhanMN at risk & vilifying a whole religion is beyond the pale. I'll be blunt — we must defeat him.— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) April 13, 2019
The President is inciting violence against a sitting Congresswoman—and an entire group of Americans based on their religion. It's disgusting. It's shameful. And any elected leader who refuses to condemn it shares responsibility for it.— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) April 13, 2019
Warren also made a “Game of Thrones” joke about her dog:
Too late to audition to be a direwolf? pic.twitter.com/UT0N3Ey6gM— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) April 14, 2019
A CNN analyst noted Barr's choice of words:
Barr quotes Mueller: “[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”— Elie Honig (@eliehonig) April 14, 2019
Barr omitted first part of that sentence. Want to bet it starts with “Although”?
A CBS News reporter highlighted a personnel gap in the Trump White House:
Bill Shine resigned as White House communications director more than a month ago, and no one has been named to replace him.— Kathryn Watson (@kathrynw5) April 12, 2019
Trump congratulated Tiger Woods on his Masters victory:
Love people who are great under pressure. What a fantastic life comeback for a really great guy! https://t.co/41MtJtYEjq— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 14, 2019
In a rare instance of being on the same page as Trump, so did Obama:
Congratulations, Tiger! To come back and win the Masters after all the highs and lows is a testament to excellence, grit, and determination.— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) April 14, 2019
And other athletes celebrated the phenomenal comeback:
I am literally in tears watching @TigerWoods this is Greatness like no other. Knowing all you have been through physically to come back and do what you just did today? Wow Congrats a million times! I am so inspired thank you buddy.— Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) April 14, 2019
Greatest comeback story in sports! Congrats @TigerWoods Let me hold one of those 5 jackets one time!— Stephen Curry (@StephenCurry30) April 14, 2019
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
-- The Atlantic, “The Utter Inadequacy of America's Efforts to Desegregate Schools,” by Alana Semuels: “The Trump administration discontinued a $12 million Obama-era grant to help local school districts boost diversity, and is scaling back federal efforts to enforce fair-housing laws. It is throwing support behind charter schools, which teachers’ unions have argued are a way to undermine integration. ... Massachusetts could be an example, a state pushing back against integration’s demise; it was, after all, where the first law prohibiting segregated schools was passed, in 1855. When METCO was established, suburban districts volunteered seats in their under-enrolled schools; in 1964, white families in Boston participated in a 'Freedom Stay-Out,' boycotting segregated schools and speaking publicly about the need for integration. White residents living in wealthy suburbs wrote letters to the mayor of Boston asking the city to end 'de facto segregation' of schools and spend more money on inner-city schools.”
-- New York Times, “One Month, 500,000 Face Scans: How China Is Using A.I. to Profile a Minority,” by Paul Mozur: “The Chinese government has drawn wide international condemnation for its harsh crackdown on ethnic Muslims in its western region, including holding as many as a million of them in detention camps. Now, documents and interviews show that the authorities are also using a vast, secret system of advanced facial recognition technology to track and control the Uighurs, a largely Muslim minority. It is the first known example of a government intentionally using artificial intelligence for racial profiling, experts said. The facial recognition technology, which is integrated into China’s rapidly expanding networks of surveillance cameras, looks exclusively for Uighurs based on their appearance and keeps records of their comings and goings for search and review. The practice makes China a pioneer in applying next-generation technology to watch its people, potentially ushering in a new era of automated racism.”
-- Foreign Policy, “The World's Many Measles Conspiracies Are All the Same,” by Laurie Garrett: “Measles is surging, crossing borders all over the world, as immunization rates drop. And the reason why is simple to sum up: trust—or rather, a lack of it. Overall in 2017, the most recent year for which global death tolls are tallied, more than 109,000 people died of measles, most having either never been vaccinated or only received their first shots, not their boosters. Measles has become the barometer of trust, or the lack thereof, in the post-truth world. Vaccination isn’t just an individual choice; it’s a social contract entered into by the public and its government. ... When governments fail to fulfill their side of the social contract, not providing vaccines to the population in an appropriate and affordable manner, outbreaks soon follow.”
HOT ON THE LEFT:
“Chris Wallace Refuses to Play More Than 5 Seconds of Trump’s ‘Horrible’ Ilhan Omar Vid During Sarah Sanders Interview,” from Mediaite: “On this week’s edition of Fox News Sunday, Wallace interviewed Sanders on a range of subjects, including the inflammatory video that Trump posted in order to attack Omar, which many have called an incitement to violence. Wallace began by introducing Trump’s video, but only played about four seconds of it. ‘Now, that was the only five seconds we felt comfortable showing,’ Wallace said. ‘It goes on in a much worse way for about 43 seconds, of her seeming, no question about it, to minimize 9/11, and then horrible images from 911.’ ‘Why is the president comfortable putting out horrible images like that?’ Wallace asked.”
HOT ON THE RIGHT:
“Face It: You (Probably) Got a Tax Cut,” from the New York Times: “Ever since [Trump] signed the Republican-sponsored tax bill in December 2017, independent analyses have consistently found that a large majority of Americans would owe less because of the law. … Yet as the first tax filing season under the new law wraps up on Monday, taxpayers are skeptical. A survey conducted in early April for The New York Times by the online research platform SurveyMonkey found that just 40 percent of Americans believed they had received a tax cut under the law. … To a large degree, the gap between perception and reality on the tax cuts appears to flow from a sustained — and misleading — effort by liberal opponents of the law to brand it as a broad middle-class tax increase.”
Trump will travel to Burnsville, Minn., for a roundtable discussion on the economy at Nuss Truck & Equipment. The AP’s Steve Karnowski previews the visit: “Minnesota, which gave the country Democratic Vice Presidents Hubert Humphrey and Walter Mondale, hasn’t given its 10 electoral votes to a Republican since Richard Nixon in 1972. Trump came within 1.5 percentage points of carrying the state in 2016 thanks to his strength among rural voters. The state’s Democrats saw a huge overall resurgence during the anti-Trump backlash of 2018, notably in traditionally Republican suburbs of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Giving the president hope is the memory that his popularity outside the Twin Cities area helped the GOP flip two Democratic U.S. House seats last year.”
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“The horror show in Washington is mesmerizing. It’s all-consuming. But starting today, we’re going to change the channel.” Pete Buttigieg (Costa)
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- This should be a pleasant spring workweek for weather, though there might be rain on Friday. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “It’s a blustery, cool day behind the vigorous weather front that swept through the region overnight. But we’re rewarded with delightful spring weather Tuesday through Thursday featuring sunshine and mild to warm temperatures. Another potent storm system may spark some strong storms Friday.”
-- The Nationals lost to the Pirates 4-3. (Sam Fortier)
-- Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam dropped out of a fundraiser appearance because of safety concerns. Moriah Balingit reports: “Northam (D) was scheduled to appear at an event for state Sen. David W. Marsden (D-Fairfax), who is up for reelection this year, at a community center in a quiet suburban enclave in Burke. But after the Fairfax County NAACP and the state Republican Party assembled protesters outside the center, the governor’s office canceled. His spokeswoman said it was ‘due to concerns for the safety and security of everyone in attendance.’”
-- Capital Bikeshare is pulling its electric bikes. Ian Shapira reports: “Capital Bikeshare announced that it was removing electric bikes from its fleet after receiving a 'small number' of complaints from people who said the front wheels’ braking force was ‘stronger than expected,’ according to the operator’s announcement. The company said it would replace those ‘e-bikes’ or ‘pedal-assisted’ bikes with normal bikes that require users to pedal them on their own. The number of e-bikes in Washington reached about 200, out of Capital Bikeshare’s fleet of 4,300. Although the operator told The Post the bikes were quite popular, the bikes still received reports of a small number of incidents that included unspecified injuries.”
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
John Oliver once again talked about the opioid epidemic, this time looking at the recent revelations about the Sackler family's role in it:
Hasan Minhaj tried to apply for a job at the CIA:
SNL’s cold open mocked actress Lori Loughlin for her involvement in the college admissions scandal:
And Nike celebrated Tiger Woods’s Masters victory: