With Joanie Greve and Mariana Alfaro
THE BIG IDEA: Former congressman Beto O’Rourke (D-Tex.) released 10 years of tax returns last night. He and his wife reported $1,166 of charitable giving from a total income of $370,412 in 2017, the most recent year for which they released a return. That’s one-third of 1 percent.
How much someone gives to charity is a meaningful metric of their values and priorities, though far from the only one. The flurry of returns from 2020 contenders in recent days offers a lot to chew over.
Candidates who release their tax returns deserve credit for transparency, especially because President Trump refuses to disclose his. Trump is the first president since Richard Nixon to conceal his tax returns from the American people. One reason many politicians do not like to share their returns for everyone to see is because they don’t want people to scrutinize things like their effective tax rate, their deductions and their charitable giving.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and his wife gave $19,000 to charity out of an income of $566,000 last year, or 3.4 percent. They provided $36,300 to charity in 2017, according to returns released last night. “The Sanders campaign said those rates do not reflect charitable proceeds given from one of his books, which he did not deduct from his taxes,” Michael Kranish and Sean Sullivan report. “The campaign did not say how much was given in that case.”
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) released 15 years of tax returns on Sunday, showing that she and her husband earned $1.9 million last year and gave $27,000 to charity — or 1.4 percent. Harris reported no charitable giving at all during her first three years as California’s attorney general. But then she married Doug Emhoff in 2014. The first year they filed jointly, Harris and Emhoff — a partner at the law firm DLA Piper — reported giving $60,000 to charity. Their giving dropped off to between $18,000 to $37,000 in the years that followed.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and her husband donated $6,600 of their $338,500 income to charity last year, or just under 2 percent, according to a return her campaign published on its website yesterday.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and her husband made $215,000 last year and gave $3,750 to charity, also just under 2 percent.
-- Trump’s past claims of generous charitable giving have been widely debunked. My colleague David Fahrenthold won a Pulitzer Prize in 2017 for his investigation into the president’s personal charity. (Read his winning work here.) Trump donates his government salary as president, but that’s a small fraction of his total income. It’s impossible to know how much Trump has given to charity without seeing his tax returns.
-- When Mitt Romney finally relented under pressure and released his tax returns in 2012, they showed that he and his wife had given away $4 million out of the $13.7 million they took in during the previous year, or 29.4 percent. Romney didn’t even deduct $1.8 million of donations that year so that he could live up to his statement that he’d always paid an effective tax rate of at least 13 percent.
Barack and Michelle Obama had given away 22 percent of their incomes to charity in 2011, donating $172,000 out of $790,000 of income. But Joe and Jill Biden gave just 1.5 percent of their income to charity, $5,500 out of $379,000.
-- Biden took heat during the 2008 campaign when his tax returns showed that he and his wife had donated only $3,690 to charity in total over the previous 10 years — an average of $369 a year. The most recent year for which Biden has released his tax returns is 2015. The then-vice president and second lady gave $6,900 of the $392,000 they earned to charity, about 1.8 percent. It will be interesting to see whether the rate of giving went up after Biden started giving high-priced paid speeches in 2017 and 2018.
-- In addition to Biden, we’re still waiting to see tax returns from other top-tier contenders — including Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind.
Booker said yesterday that he’ll release his returns “soon.” He didn’t say how soon, but he did unveil a plan to cut taxes for about half the country. Booker called for expanding the earned income tax credit to cover couples with a maximum income as large as $90,000. He would pay for it by taxing income from investments at the same rate as other income, rather than the lower capital gains rate.
-- The Wall Street Journal notices that the O’Rourkes appear to have underpaid their 2013 and 2014 taxes by more than $4,000 total because of an error in the way they reported their medical expenses. “They took deductions for those costs without regard to the limit that only allowed that break for medical and dental expenses above 10% of income for people their age,” Richard Rubin reports. “Had they not taken the nearly $16,000 in medical deductions, their taxable income would have been higher. In those years it would likely have been subject to the rates they were paying under the alternative minimum tax.”
-- Meanwhile, Trump and his legal team are actively combating efforts by House Democrats to review his tax returns and other financial records.
1) The president’s attorneys are pressing an accounting firm not to comply with a subpoena from the House Oversight Committee. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) announced his intention last week to subpoena Mazars USA after the company refused a March request to hand over Trump’s financial documents, citing laws and rules that require a subpoena for such documents. “On Monday, lawyers for the president and the Trump Organization wrote in a letter to the accounting firm’s counsel that a committee subpoena ‘would not be valid or enforceable,’” Tom Hamburger reports. “In a statement, Mazars USA said that the firm ‘believes strongly in the ethical and professional rules and regulations that govern our industry, our work and our client interactions.’”
2) The House Intelligence and Financial Services committees issued a separate subpoena to Deutsche Bank, Trump’s longtime lender, for Trump’s personal and business records. “The two committees … also demanded documents from numerous other financial institutions, including JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Citigroup, related to possible money-laundering by people in Russia and Eastern Europe,” the New York Times’s Emily Flitter and David Enrich report. “'This subpoena is an unprecedented abuse of power and simply the latest attempt by House Democrats to attack the president and our family for political gain,’ Eric Trump said in a statement. … Alan Garten, the Trump Organization’s lawyer, said the company was weighing its options for potentially blocking Deutsche Bank from complying with the subpoena.”
3) Trump’s lawyer, William Consovoy, publicly urged the Treasury Department not to comply with a formal request by the House Ways and Means Committee to hand over the president’s tax returns. In an open letter, he said the intent of the law is more important than the letter of the law. “Congress’s motives do matter under the Constitution,” he wrote, arguing that seeing Trump’s taxes does not serve any legislative purpose.
-- Now that Tax Day has come and gone, Heather Long assesses whether the 2017 overhaul of the tax code has lived up to its promises: Taxes didn’t fit in a postcard, though the main form most tax filers fill out did shrink. The vast majority of Americans did get a tax cut, though. But the bill has not paid for itself. Early results indicate that the $1.5 trillion price tag of the tax cuts will be funded mostly by a larger national debt. Trump said about $4 trillion to $5 trillion would “come flooding back from abroad” from companies who stashed their earnings overseas because of taxes. According to government data, only $665 million has come back. It remains to be seen whether businesses will use that extra cash to invest inside the United States. Trump said Americans would love the tax bill, but polls show more people give it a thumbs down than a thumbs up. Trump made no promises on refunds, but fewer people are receiving them this year.
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- France rose Tuesday to confront the smoldering remains of the Notre Dame Cathedral, as officials announced they had extinguished the inferno that partly destroyed the nation’s symbol. Donations began to pour in, and authorities started to take stock of the damage. From James McAuley, Michael Birnbaum and Reis Thebault: “From certain angles, it was almost possible to look head-on at the front of church and see its centuries-old rose windows and carved statues and imagine all was intact. But to stray to any other angle made clear the devastation. The roof was burned away, and there was an aching absence where the spire had been. Char and smoke marks licked the walls out of rose-round window frames where once there was stained glass. Water gushed in arcs onto wooden roof beams that once seemed eternal and now looked like used matchsticks.
“Culture Minister Franck Riester said many priceless works of art in the cathedral were saved and that Notre Dame’s organ had survived. He also confirmed the preliminary reports from firefighters that they had been able to save the church’s two most hallowed relics: a tunic worn by Saint Louis, a 13th-century French king, and the crown of thorns that Jesus is said to have worn. The cathedral’s most precious stained-glass rose windows, an ensemble that dates to the 12th and 13th centuries, are also likely intact, said André Finot, a cathedral spokesman.”
“In an address to the nation just before midnight, President Emmanuel Macron said the worst had been avoided, that the exterior structure had been preserved and that the cathedral would rise again. ‘I tell you solemnly tonight: We will rebuild this cathedral,’ he vowed. French luxury magnate François-Henri Pinault declared his family would dedicate about $113 million to the effort. Hours later, the family of Bernard Arnault, the CEO of the LVMH luxury conglomerate and the richest man in Europe, pledged a gift of $226 million. … There were no deaths, but two police officers and one firefighter were injured. The fire began in the early evening, just minutes after the building closed to tourists.”
-- “The cathedral, completed in the 14th century, has withstood the test of time and the assault of history,” McAuley writes. “Notre Dame survived the French Revolution, when revolutionaries smashed its statues of Judean kings under the mistaken view that they were French kings instead. It survived the Paris Commune in the spring of 1871. And it survived two world wars, including Hitler’s foiled plans to raze the city to the ground in 1944. ‘Is Paris burning?’ This is what Hitler allegedly asked just before Paris was ultimately liberated from Nazi occupation in August of that year. The answer then — and ever since — has been ‘never.’ But then came Monday afternoon, and the unshakable bedrock turned out to be far more fragile than anyone could have ever imagined.”
- See more pictures of the blaze here.
- Emily Tamkin prepares an inventory of what else could be lost as engineers continue to assess the damage.
- From the Editorial Board: “The world weeps for Notre Dame.”
-- YouTube’s “information panels,” a new tool to correct misinformation, erroneously linked the fire to the 9/11 attacks. Craig Timberg and Drew Harwell report: “The 9/11 tragedy is a frequent subject of hoaxes, and the information panels were posted automatically, likely because of visual similarities that computer algorithms detected between the two incidents. YouTube began rolling out the information panels providing factual information about the subjects of frequent hoaxes in the past few months. The misfire underscored the ongoing limits of computerized tools for detecting and combating misinformation — as well as their potential for inadvertently fueling it.”
-- An unrelated fire broke out at Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third-holiest site in Islam. The mosque, which sits on the Old City section of East Jerusalem, is central to the Israel-Palestine conflict. Authorities have not revealed the cause behind this blaze. (Newsweek)
-- The number of U.S. cases of measles increased by 90 last week, approaching the record for most cases since the country declared the disease “eliminated” in 2000. The total number of those sickened so far this year is now 555, not far behind the 2014 record of 667 cases. That's not a record anyone wants to break. (Lena H. Sun)
-- Patient Zero: A man raising money for charity in Brooklyn’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish community traveled from New York to Michigan and, unaware that he had measles, infected 39 people. Lena has an incredible story about the damage one man can do: “He felt sick en route and saw a doctor when he got there. But the doctor, who had never seen measles, misdiagnosed the man’s fever and cough as bronchitis. … The traveler ... stayed in private homes, attended synagogue daily and shopped in kosher markets.” The man, who’d come from Israel last November, called the doctor back to complain about a rash. The doctor then suspected measles and tried to connect him with health officials, who couldn’t reach him because of a problem with his phone. Officials managed to track him down because of his blue rental car, “knowing it would stand out among the minivans used by virtually every family. … The traveler, as it turned out, had had hundreds of contacts with community members that health officials needed to trace. … On March 13, blood tests confirmed the traveler’s measles. The strain matched the genetic fingerprint of the New York City outbreak.”
GET SMART FAST:
The South Florida Sun Sentinel won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize in public service for its coverage of the Parkland shooting. The Washington Post took home three awards, for criticism, feature photography and editorial cartooning. Here is a full list of winners. (Paul Farhi)
Actress Lori Loughlin and several other parents pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from the college admissions scandal. Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, are facing charges of fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy related to accusations that they paid $500,000 to secure their two daughters’ admission to USC. (Nick Anderson)
The Supreme Court is weighing whether “scandalous” trademarks, including those that allude to vulgar words or racial slurs, violate free-speech protections. An L.A. artist is challenging the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s decision not to register the trademark for his “FUCT” clothing line, and now the justices must decide whether the government should endorse his brand’s name by providing it with a trademark. (Robert Barnes)
Freshmen Democratic governors have been rolling back the policies of their GOP predecessors in the first three months on the job. In Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has been pushing a gasoline-tax hike to pay for highway repairs that she says were neglected by her predecessor, Rick Snyder. In Wisconsin, Gov. Tony Evers is promoting a plan to expand Medicaid to 82,000 low- and moderate-income state residents, a change that was opposed by Scott Walker. New Democratic governors in Kansas and New Mexico have made clean energy and climate change a centerpiece of their early efforts. (Tim Craig)
An Australian woman traveled to a Syrian refugee camp to see her grandchildren, whose parents joined the Islamic State, for the first time in five years. Karen Nettleton has been lobbying the Australian government to allow her three surviving grandchildren, one of whom has had two children of her own since being brought to Syria, to return to their home country. (Adam Taylor)
- The euroskeptic Finns Party, riding a wave of populism and promising to slow down efforts to fight climate change, came within 6,800 votes of winning Finland’s parliamentary election. With all votes counted, the top three parties in the election were separated by only two seats in the nation’s legislature. (AP)
The National Rifle Association is suing one of its largest contractors: Ackerman McQueen, the Oklahoma ad firm that runs NRATV. The suit alleges that Ackerman concealed details about how the agency spends the nearly $40 million that it and its affiliates receive annually from the NRA. (New York Times)
The Seattle Seahawks have made Russell Wilson the highest-paid player in the NFL. Wilson has signed on to a four-year, $140 million extension of his contract that includes a $65 million signing bonus. (ESPN)
Kenyan Lawrence Cherono won the men’s race at the Boston Marathon, while Ethiopian Worknesh Degefa took home first place on the women’s side. Degefa maintained a lead for much of the marathon, but Cherono edged out Ethiopia’s Lelisa Desisa by only a second. (Cindy Boren)
Former House speaker Paul Ryan will join the University of Notre Dame's faculty. He will be a guest lecturer in political science and economics. (Notre Dame News)
- The death industry has undergone a transformation in recent years as many families move away from funerals and toward memorial services to honor their lost loved ones. A new career, celebration-of-life planner, has sprung up in some cities to help organize cocktail receptions and potluck dinners to commemorate the lives of the recently departed. (Karen Heller)
THERE’S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:
-- A redacted version of special counsel Bob Mueller’s report will be released to Congress and the public on Thursday morning, the Justice Department announced. Devlin Barrett reports: “The House Judiciary Committee is poised to issue a subpoena for the report’s redacted portions. As Barr’s standoff with House Democrats continues, at least one influential Republican — Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) — has signed on to an effort to demand that the attorney general provide the House Intelligence Committee with any redacted intelligence and counterintelligence information Mueller considered in compiling his report. In a letter to Justice Department leaders dated March 27 but made public only Monday, Nunes and Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) cited laws that entitle the Intelligence Committee to review such information.”
-- The past is prologue: While serving as head of DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel in 1989, Barr wrote a misleading summary for Congress of his controversial legal memo authorizing the FBI to forcibly abduct people in other countries. New York University law professor Ryan Goodman reports for Just Security: “When the OLC opinion was finally made public long after Barr left office, it was clear that Barr’s summary had failed to fully disclose the opinion’s principal conclusions. It is better to think of Barr’s summary as a redacted version of the full OLC opinion. That’s because the ‘summary’ took the form of 13 pages of written testimony. The document was replete with quotations from court cases, legal citations, and the language of the OLC opinion itself. Despite its highly detailed analysis, this 13-page version omitted some of the most consequential and incendiary conclusions from the actual opinion. And there was evidently no justifiable reason for having withheld those parts from Congress or the public.”
-- White House officials are now worried that the release of the Mueller report will expose them as being the source of damaging information about the president. A former official said the more than a dozen staffers interviewed fear the president’s wrath if he finds out they shared details. (NBC News)
-- Vladimir Pregelj, the foreman of Watergate grand jury No. 1, called for the information gathered by Mueller’s grand jury to be made publicly available. Spencer S. Hsu reports: “At 91, he still lives in the same Capitol Hill townhouse where he resided 45 years ago when he commuted to court to hear evidence in a special prosecutor’s investigation of Richard M. Nixon and the coverup of his campaign’s break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters. Pregelj, a retired Library of Congress researcher, is tight-lipped about [Trump]. But of the work behind closed doors by [Mueller], he said, ‘In my citizen’s heart I feel the information gathered by the grand jury should be made public.’”
-- Yujing Zhang, the Chinese woman who was arrested at Mar-a-Lago, will remain jailed after a judge said she’s a flight risk and that it seems as if she was “up to something nefarious." Lori Rozsa and Mark Berman report: “Zhang, 33, is charged with entering restricted grounds and making a false statement to the Secret Service, according to an indictment filed Friday. On Monday, she entered a plea of not guilty and asked for a jury trial. According to the penalty sheet filed with the indictment, she could face up to six years in prison and more than $250,000 in fines if convicted on the two counts. … Additional charges in the case are ‘possible,’ Assistant U.S. Attorney Rolando Garcia told Matthewman on Monday. … Garcia said that Zhang got ‘within arm’s length’ of computers at Mar-a-Lago, which [the judge] said he found ‘concerning.’ The judge also said that the electronics Zhang had on her were ‘especially troubling.’”
ASSANGE ARREST FALLOUT:
-- A December 2017 criminal complaint filed against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and unsealed on Monday details the case prosecutors have built against him, including chat transcripts used to accuse him of conspiring against the Defense Department with former intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning. Rachel Weiner reports: “The conversations come either from Manning’s own computer, seized after her arrest in 2010, or from Adrian Lamo, a hacker who turned Manning in to the FBI. ‘Chats reflect that on March 8, 2010, Assange agreed to assist Manning in cracking a password,’ FBI agent Megan Brown wrote. She makes clear that agents never found any evidence ‘as to what Assange did, if anything, with respect to the password’ other than saying he had passed it on to someone at WikiLeaks who specialized in the security system involved.”
-- The U.S. made a verbal pledge to Ecuador that it would not seek the death penalty for Assange. Before allowing British officials to capture Assange, the South American nation reached out to U.S. and British authorities to make sure he wouldn’t be extradited to a country where he could face the death penalty. (ABC News)
-- The Ecuadoran president accused Assange of using the country’s embassy in London as a “center for spying.” Kayla Epstein reports: “Lenín Moreno expressed frustration with the WikiLeaks founder … ‘We cannot allow our house, the house that opened its doors, to become a center for spying,’ Moreno told the Guardian. ‘This activity violates asylum conditions. Our decision is not arbitrary but is based on international law.’ The allegations appear to stem in part from a batch of leaked personal photos of Moreno and his family that appeared last month on an anonymous website, while the president was in the midst of a political battle at home. Moreno blamed WikiLeaks for the release of the photos, the New York Times reported.”
THE IMMIGRATION WARS:
-- The husband of a fallen soldier was deported to Mexico and forced to leave behind his 12-year-old American daughter, but ICE reversed the decision after his story was shared and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) got involved. The Arizona Republic’s Daniel González reports: “Jose Gonzalez Carranza, 30, was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers last Monday on his way to his welding job and then deported to Nogales, Mexico, on Wednesday, said Ezequiel Hernandez, his Phoenix attorney. Reached by phone earlier Monday, Gonzalez said he had been living in a shelter for deported migrants in Nogales, Mexico, a city he didn't know, and was worried about his daughter … After his wife was killed in Afghanistan, Gonzalez was granted what is known as parole in place, which allows immigrants in the country illegally to remain in the U.S. without the threat of deportation, Hernandez said. An immigration judge then terminated deportation proceedings against Gonzalez based on the parole in place, Hernandez said. However, ICE refiled the case in 2018, Hernandez said. A judge ordered Gonzalez deported in December 2018 after Hernandez didn't show up for his court hearing, Hernandez said. But the reason Gonzalez didn't show up is because he never received the notice, Hernandez said. He said ICE sent it to the wrong address.”
-- Trump officials will resume forcing asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their claims are investigated. The Los Angeles Times’s Molly O’Toole reports: “U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officials told staff at the agency’s main asylum office in Arlington, Va., on Monday to prepare for asylum seekers to again be sent back across the border … The Mexican government, which has insisted the returns policy is unilateral although it has cooperated so far, issued a careful statement last week rejecting the Trump administration’s suggestion that the policy was part of a ‘cooperative program extensively negotiated’ with Mexican counterparts.”
-- ICE has received “enhanced intelligence capabilities,” including collection ability, from a DHS office that belongs to the intelligence community. David Glawe, the DHS undersecretary for intelligence and analysis, wrote in a letter to Congress late last year that ICE is working more closely with the department’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis, a change that worries some civil liberties advocates. One senior ACLU attorney expressed concern that Glawe’s letter indicates the use spying or data-mining capabilities for immigration enforcement. (Daily Beast)
-- House Democrats launched a probe into reports that the White House pressured immigration enforcement officials to release migrants into “sanctuary cities,” particularly those in the districts of political adversaries. (Rachael Bade)
ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN AND WOMEN:
-- The Interior Department’s internal watchdog opened an investigation into ethics complaints against David Bernhardt, its new secretary, days after the Senate confirmed him. Darryl Fears reports: “A spokeswoman for Interior’s inspector general’s office, Nancy DiPaolo, said the probe is ‘based on requests from multiple lawmakers and others.’”
-- Stephen Moore, Trump’s pick to serve on the Fed board, once criticized the president’s positions on immigration, describing them as “extreme nativist,” “crazy” and “dangerous.” CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski reports: “Moore made the comments in an August 2015 radio interview with Larry Kudlow, who now serves as the President's top economic adviser. In that interview, Kudlow compared Trump's immigration plans to the worst parts of World War II -- in an apparent reference to the Holocaust -- and said Trump's only real supporters came from the ‘nativist fringe.’ … Moore told CNN on Monday that he said ‘a lot of negative things about Donald Trump before I met him.’
-- Maryland prosecutors dropped charges of second-degree assault and disorderly conduct against a woman accused of accosting Kellyanne Conway. Mary Elizabeth Inabinett allegedly approached the White House adviser at a Mexican restaurant before shaking Conway’s shoulders and yelling comments like “Shame on you.” A trial was set to begin yesterday, but prosecutors essentially argued that Inabinett would not merit the types of punishment triggered by a potential conviction. (Dan Morse)
-- When acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney took over the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the agency was revered as Washington’s “most feared financial regulator.” Now, its mission is a matter of dispute. The New York Times Magazine’s Nick Confessore writes: “’The bureau was constructed really deliberately to protect ordinary people,’ says Lisa Donner, the head of Americans for Financial Reform. ‘He’s taken it apart — dismantled it, piece by piece, brick by brick.’ … Mulvaney’s slow-rolling attack on the bureau’s enforcement and regulatory powers wasn’t just one of the Trump era’s most emblematic assaults on the so-called administrative state. It was also, in part, an audition.”
-- The far left’s frustration rose with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over her response to attacks against Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). Rachael Bade and Paul Kane report: “Omar’s allies over the weekend were upset by what they viewed as Pelosi’s delayed response in standing up for one of the two Muslim women in Congress after Trump accused Omar of playing down the tragedy of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Pelosi, whose initial statement criticizing Trump made no mention of Omar, said Monday that it was ‘beneath the dignity of the Oval Office’ for Trump to have shared a video on Twitter of Omar spliced with footage of the burning twin towers. But liberals seethed that Pelosi (Calif.) and Democratic leaders did too little, too late. They were equally baffled by Pelosi’s quip seeming to dismiss [Rep. Alexandria] Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) during a CBS ‘60 Minutes’ interview Sunday, suggesting her ‘wing’ of the party included ‘like five people.’”
-- Trump continued escalating his attacks against Omar, pushing divisive messages during an event in Minnesota that was billed as a roundtable on taxes and the economy. Seung Min Kim and Toluse Olorunnipa report: “’People come in, they read a line from a lawyer that a lawyer hands them out online,’ Trump said at the event as he mimicked an asylum seeker reading from a piece of paper. ‘It’s a big con job.’ … [Trump’s words] highlighted a parallel dynamic at play ahead of his reelection bid: While the broader GOP apparatus is attempting to focus on the economy, the campaigner in chief is seizing on more confrontational messages that may appeal to the base but potentially turn off swing voters.”
-- Ocasio-Cortez quit Facebook and called social media a “public health risk.” Hamza Shaban reports: Ocasio-Cortez “said she stopped using her Facebook account and was scaling back on all social media, which she described as a ‘public health risk’ because it can lead to ‘increased isolation, depression, anxiety, addiction, escapism.’ … She still has accounts on the site, she said, and according to the company’s ad library, her official Facebook account has dozens of active advertisements sponsored by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for Congress. … Ocasio-Cortez, who writes all of her own tweets and Instagram posts, said she’s trying to limit her consumption of social media to the workweek.”
-- A man in Germantown, Md., said he was beaten and robbed for wearing a red Make America Great Again hat. The man, a Trump supporter, said he was out on a walk when two men approached him and asked him why he was wearing the hat before attacking him. (WJLA)
-- The Pew Research Center found there's been a sharp rise in the number of Americans who believe Jews face discrimination in the country. According to a new poll, 64 percent of Americans say Jews face at least some discrimination, a 20 percent increase from 2016. Muslims are seen as facing more discrimination than any other group, with 56 percent of those polled saying Muslims encounter a lot of discrimination, the highest among the nine groups in the survey.
-- Former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld officially announced that he would launch a long-shot bid against Trump for the 2020 GOP nomination. Robert Costa reports: “Weld made the announcement in an appearance on CNN’s ‘The Lead With Jake Tapper,’ where he described himself as ‘a Republican who works across the aisle and gets things done.’ … Weld, 73, will face a steep climb against Trump, an incumbent who is deeply popular with Republican voters. Weld last won an election in 1994 and has drifted politically in recent years, even serving as the vice presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party in 2016. But he is now determined to offer the GOP a moderate alternative. … A White House official, who was not authorized to speak publicly, dismissed Weld on Monday as a ‘relic’ and someone who ‘is a big liberal’ on climate change and drug issues.”
-- Trump has built an impressive fundraising machine that will be difficult for Weld — and the president’s Democratic opponents — to match. Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Anu Narayanswamy report: “In the first three months of 2019, Trump’s campaign and two affiliated committees raised $39 million, records made public Monday show — his best fundraising quarter since his election, according to the campaign and federal records. That brings the sum raised by his 2020 campaign and the two committees to $130 million, the most ever raised by an incumbent president at this point. Fourteen Democratic primary candidates together raised $82.3 million from Jan. 1 until March 31, according to the campaigns and federal records. At this point in the 2008 election cycle, eight Democratic candidates had together raised $85.4 million.”
-- Sanders’s campaign continued its attacks against the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, whose news website ThinkProgress criticized Sanders for his millionaire status. Sean Sullivan and Michael Scherer report: Sanders’s campaign advisers accused “the group of using corporate donations to mount a ‘consistent effort to belittle or demean’ the independent Vermont senator while seeking to ‘kneecap’ populist support for policies such as Medicare-for-all. … In a sign of Sanders’s newfound power, the targeted think tank, [CAP], sought to defuse the conflict Monday afternoon with a conciliatory message. … The president of the think tank, Neera Tanden, released a statement Monday saying she had no editorial control over the publications of CAP Action or its news website ThinkProgress, but nonetheless disagreed with the tone of the video.”
-- This is not the first time Tanden, a former top Hillary Clinton aide, has clashed with Sanders or his aides. The New York Times's Elizabeth Williamson and Kenneth P. Vogel report: In 2008, Tanden, “then a top aide on Hillary Clinton’s first presidential campaign, accompanied Mrs. Clinton to what was expected to be an easy interview at the [CAP]. ... But Faiz Shakir, the chief editor of the think tank’s ThinkProgress website, asked Mrs. Clinton a question about the Iraq war, an issue dogging her candidacy because she had supported it. Ms. Tanden responded by circling back to Mr. Shakir after the interview and, according to a person in the room, punching him in the chest. 'I didn’t slug him, I pushed him,' a still angry Ms. Tanden corrected in a recent interview.” Now the tables have turned: Neera runs CAP, and Faiz is Bernie's campaign manager.
-- Another policy proposal from Warren: The Massachusetts senator outlined her vision for the use of public lands, which would include a ban on new oil and gas leases. The New York Times’s Matt Stevens reports: “Ms. Warren’s plan, which she outlined in a post on Medium ahead of trips to Colorado and Utah this week, promises an executive order that would prohibit new leases for fossil fuel drilling offshore and on public lands, calls for the creation of ‘a 21st century Civilian Conservation Corps’ staffed by 10,000 young people and seeks to reduce inaccessible public acreage by 50 percent. It also aims to undo some of the environmental actions undertaken by the Trump administration … Ms. Warren said she would reinstate Obama-era air and water protections and wield the Antiquities Act, a 1906 law, to restore national monuments that [Trump] shrank.”
-- An Indiana judge will soon decide whether to release tapes of secretly recorded conversations linked to the demotion of South Bend’s first black police chief, which has become a point of contention in Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign. The Hill’s Jonathan Easley reports: “The South Bend City Council subpoenaed Buttigieg to win release of the tapes, which were at the center of a police department shake-up and a series of lawsuits. Buttigieg’s critics say he’s gone to great lengths to conceal the contents of the tapes, which some believe could include racist language by white police officers. There is roiling anger in South Bend over the allegations of racism. Black leaders in the city say that if there is evidence of racism, it could call into question scores of convictions that stemmed from white police officers investigating black suspects in a city that is 25 percent black.”
-- Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) secured the endorsement of former South Caroline state legislator Bakari Sellers. The Charleston Post and Courier’s Jamie Lovegrove reports: “Sellers’ endorsement adds to a slate of S.C. backers that Harris picked up last month, including three current state lawmakers, the Berkeley County Democratic Party chairwoman and a former gubernatorial candidate. Only a select few other candidates in the crowded Democratic primary field have drawn endorsements from South Carolina in the early months of the race.”
-- Joe Biden’s Spanish-language ad shoot in Florida became a “hot mess.” Politico’s Marc Caputo reports: “The Saturday film shoot was a hushed affair — paid local actors signed non-disclosure agreements promising not to discuss the job. But some posted images on social media of the Fort Lauderdale commercial anyway, prompting a flurry of emails warning of legal exposure and requesting that those involved delete any images of the shoot and not talk to the media about it.”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
The front pages of French newspapers mourned the fire at Notre Dame:
Notre drame - la une de Libération du mardi 16 avril 2019 pic.twitter.com/dRCIexgGZ4— Libération (@libe) April 15, 2019
Trump suggested using water tankers to suppress the blaze:
So horrible to watch the massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out. Must act quickly!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 15, 2019
But the French agency in charge of emergency management quickly shot down the suggestion:
Hundreds of firemen of the Paris Fire Brigade are doing everything they can to bring the terrible #NotreDame fire under control. All means are being used, except for water-bombing aircrafts which, if used, could lead to the collapse of the entire structure of the cathedral.— Sécurité Civile Fr (@SecCivileFrance) April 15, 2019
The Post's Fact Checker columnist quoted a 2008 story in response to Trump's tweet:
"Fire commanders say they are often pressured to order planes and helicopters into action on major fires even when the aircraft won't do any good. ...The reason for the interference is that aerial drops of water and retardant make good television." https://t.co/J5tt4mxZ5Z https://t.co/6gVuhYFGrK— Glenn Kessler (@GlennKesslerWP) April 15, 2019
The House Intelligence Committee chairman offered a message in French saying the fire represented “an incalculable loss” but promising that “we will rebuild”:
Les cœurs des Français, des Américains et de tous ceux qui ont été témoins de la grandeur de la cathédrale Notre-Dame sont brisés aujourd'hui. Quelle tragédie, une perte incalculable. Nous pleurons ensemble, mais nous reconstruirons.— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) April 15, 2019
From a former Wall Street Journal reporter:
When was the last time we collectively built anything as magnificent as Nortre Dame? https://t.co/NUBQXCWps2— Neil King (@NKingofDC) April 15, 2019
A presidential historian shared this photo from World War II:
A Daily Beast reporter said this of Mueller's report:
Imagine for a second we didn’t already know about the Trump Tower meeting. And Mueller’s report came out this week and revealed it. It would be cataclysmic.— Sam Stein (@samstein) April 15, 2019
One Twitter user imagined that the attorney general took the redaction pen to Charles Dickens's work:
Bill Barr's "A Tale of Two Cities" pic.twitter.com/U51pLToETO— Ward Q. Normal (@WardQNormal) April 9, 2019
The House speaker met with the leader of the British Labour Party:
Pleased to have had a candid discussion with @jeremycorbyn today about the direction of Brexit, Northern Ireland, NATO, acting boldly on climate, protecting human rights, and the necessity of forcefully confronting anti-Semitism & Islamophobia. pic.twitter.com/xadfAaZO8d— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) April 14, 2019
The president highlighted Cher's concerns about bringing more immigrants to Los Angeles:
Trump's former campaign manager slammed Bill Weld's primary challenge against the president:
Republican Bill Weld makes it official: He’s challenging Trump for GOP presidential nomination. This guy is a total loser. He hasn’t been elected in 25 years. Clown! https://t.co/Ux58OKuGZd— Corey R. Lewandowski (@CLewandowski_) April 15, 2019
A former Iowa governor donated to the primary opponent of Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa):
A Time reporter recalled a story about Pete Buttigieg:
One time last year I was walking around South Bend with Mayor Pete and somebody was smoking a joint and I said “smells like someone is having a good time.”— Charlotte Alter (@CharlotteAlter) April 15, 2019
Pete was confused.
I said “because it smells like weed” and Pete said “oh, is that what that is?”
A Democratic presidential candidate fired back at Trump's press secretary:
A CBS News reporter noted this of rapper Cardi B's support for Bernie Sanders:
I first heard of Cardi B when she made that viral video venting about the government taking 40% of her income in taxes.— Kathryn Watson (@kathrynw5) April 15, 2019
Her taxes would definitely go up under a President Bernie Sanders. https://t.co/BTKAYFmrQc
Chelsea Clinton reacted to a report that two freshman congresswomen's names keep getting mixed up:
“Is that Katie Porter or Katie Hill? New California congresswomen keep getting mixed up,” though it seems no one consistently mixes up the 15 men named John who are also currently serving in Congress. via @latimes https://t.co/xGIsGyaTd4— Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) April 15, 2019
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
-- Wired, “15 Months of Fresh Hell Inside Facebook,” by Nicholas Thompson and Fred Vogelstein: “Facebook’s powerful network effects have kept advertisers from fleeing, and overall user numbers remain healthy if you include people on Instagram, which Facebook owns. But the company’s original culture and mission kept creating a set of brutal debts that came due with regularity over the past 16 months. The company floundered, dissembled, and apologized. Even when it told the truth, people didn’t believe it.”
- Leaked documents show that Mark Zuckerberg leveraged Facebook user data to fight rivals or favor companies. (NBC News)
-- The Atlantic, "The Next George Bush Bet Everything on Trump,” by Elaina Plott: “George P. Bush is running. For what? Probably governor of Texas. When? It’s too soon to say. But he’s inched his way into the national consciousness in the past two years, first as the lone Bush to endorse Donald Trump for president, and more recently as the final person to eulogize George H. W. Bush before he was laid to rest. Which is to say, Bush is moving now to claim his title as Future of the GOP. But will the party of Trump tolerate a candidate who mirrors a past class of conservatives in tone, in temperament, in ideology? And even if Bush does manage to satisfy the base’s newly populist appetites, can he do so without alienating the broader cross-section of voters needed to win a general election?”
-- New Yorker, “Guantánamo’s Darkest Secret,” by Ben Taub: “The U.S. military prison’s leadership considered Mohamedou Salahi to be its highest-value detainee. But his guard suspected otherwise.”
-- Wall Street Journal, "Please Let Tiger Woods Stay Human,” by Jason Gay: “Woods’s personal and physical decline did an interesting thing: they humanized him. After setting impossible standards, he grew accustomed to failure. He failed in small ways and spectacular ones. He began to show a little self-deprecating humor (!) and humility (!). Woods set smaller, more fulfilling goals: playing pain free; spending time with his children; personal growth. He remained far too famous to ever truly be like the rest of us, but in the tiniest way…he became like the rest of us.”
HOT ON THE LEFT:
“Trump says he ‘has always liked’ Jimmy Carter. He previously called him the worst president in U.S. history,” from Felicia Sonmez: “Trump’s praise for the 94-year-old Democrat, the longest-living president in U.S. history, came after Carter sent him a ‘beautiful letter about the current negotiations with China,’ the White House said in a statement. The two then spoke by phone Saturday. ‘The President has always liked President Carter and First Lady Rosalynn Carter, and extended his best wishes to them on behalf of the American people,’ the White House statement reads. In 2013, Trump ridiculed Carter in a tweet, comparing him to the president at the time, Barack Obama. ‘Former President Jimmy Carter is so happy that he is no longer considered the worst President in the history of the United States!’ Trump said in the tweet.”
HOT ON THE RIGHT:
“Abrams attorney to Ga. ethics panel: She’s got ‘nothing to hide,’” from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Greg Bluestein: “The letter from Joyce Gist Lewis said Abrams was ‘surprised to learn through media coverage’ that David Emadi, who started his job last week, planned to issue subpoenas for bank and finance records for Abrams and political action committees that backed her 2018 campaign. ‘Assuming that you are willing to articulate the good faith reasons for the records sought, my client will offer its full cooperation without the need to resort to a subpoena,’ wrote Lewis. ‘Should any technical reporting errors be identified by your office, my client will promptly amend its reports, as is routine for campaign committees in the State of Georgia.’ The response came days after Emadi, a former Douglas County prosecutor, used his first press conference to announce he would pursue investigations against Abrams and possibly the campaigns of Atlanta mayoral candidates.”
Trump will have lunch with Pence and participate in the ceremonial swearing-in of EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.
Looking ahead: Trump reportedly plans to attend the final day of the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament in Tokyo on March 26. (Politico)
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“We come from a broken family, we are a little unsettled. … Sometimes you spend the weekend with divorced dad. That feels like fun but then you get sick. That is what America is going through. We are living with divorced dad.” — Michelle Obama. During a London event to promote her memoir, the former first lady appeared to unleash a string of jabs against Trump without mentioning the president’s name. (The Independent)
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- Enjoy today’s weather because it’s the best we’ll see this week. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Our weather gets an upgrade today as winds relax, the sun shines and temperatures rise. It’s cloudier Wednesday and Thursday, but we stay dry, with mild to warm temperatures. A big storm system approaches Friday with potential for strong to severe thunderstorms by the afternoon and night. The weekend is still somewhat uncertain as a lingering disturbance could trigger some clouds and showers.”
-- In one of their worst performances this season, the Capitals were shut out by the Hurricanes 5-0 during the Stanley Cup playoffs. They still lead the series 2-1. (Isabelle Khurshudyan, Neil Greenberg, Samantha Pell and Mike Hume)
-- The Washington Monument won't reopen until at least August because of the presence of possibly contaminated underground soil. The contaminated soil is below the ground, a National Park Service spokesman said, and poses no risk to public health. (Michael E. Ruane)
-- Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam will no longer be the commencement speaker at Virginia Military Institute, his alma mater, or other commencement ceremonies. Laura Vozella reports: “Northam all but disappeared from public view after Feb. 1, when a racist photo surfaced from his 1984 medical school yearbook. ... In recent weeks, Northam had pushed ahead with some limited public events and wrangled some victories out of the General Assembly. Spokeswoman Ofirah Yheskel said the governor’s decision to stay away from graduations was not a reversal of that trend. He decided weeks ago to skip those ceremonies 'out of concern he would pull focus from the achievements of graduates and their families.'"
-- Montgomery County schools will hire an outside firm to help investigate reporting practices and investigation issues surrounding a sexual assault case in which football players allegedly attacked four of their teammates with a broomstick at Damascus High School. Donna St. George and Dan Morse report: “Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Jack Smith described the move in a letter to Damascus families that included an update on the school system’s internal review and on a broader inquiry by prosecutors after the Oct. 31 incident. The case, which has roiled the nationally regarded school system, has raised questions about the culture of sports teams and the procedures used by coaches and administrators to report sexual assaults at school.”
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Seth Meyers took a look into the many excuses Trump has used to avoid releasing his tax returns:
Trevor Noah and Stephen Colbert swapped seats on “The Late Show”:
A newspaper captured the minute its staff members learned they had won the Pulitzer Prize:
The moment The Advocate's New Orleans newsroom found out they were Pulitzer Prize winners. Incredible moment. pic.twitter.com/fY9IVb92Yj— New Orleans Advocate (@theadvocateno) April 15, 2019
One of the world's best classical cellists, Yo-Yo Ma, played a concert this weekend in a border town along the Rio Grande to highlight cultural links between the U.S. and Mexico:
And Pete Buttigieg showed off his Spanish skills: