With Joanie Greve and Mariana Alfaro
THE BIG IDEA: Nancy Pelosi wants Democrats to maintain control of the House. Kamala Harris wants to win the Democratic nomination for president in a field of 19 candidates. These divergent priorities explain why the barrier-breaking liberal women from San Francisco find themselves on opposite sides of the raging intraparty debate over whether to impeach President Trump.
During a New Hampshire town hall televised on CNN last night, Harris endorsed Congress “taking the steps” toward impeachment. “It is very clear that there is a lot of good evidence pointing to obstruction,” she said, referring to special counsel Bob Mueller’s report. Acknowledging that Senate Republicans likely wouldn’t vote to convict Trump if he were impeached by House Democrats, Harris added: “We have to be realistic about what might be the end result, but that doesn't mean the process should not take hold.”
Meanwhile, Pelosi convened a rare, hour-and-a-half conference call last night for all House Democrats so she could address calls from her left flank for impeachment. The speaker said she has no plans to open impeachment proceedings but instead wants individual committees to continue pursuing their various investigations of Trump. “We don’t have to go to articles of impeachment to obtain the facts,” she said.
Pelosi also poured cold water on impeachment talk in a letter to her members on Monday afternoon. “As we proceed … we must show the American people we are proceeding free from passion or prejudice, strictly on the presentation of fact,” she wrote.
The speaker is taking this tack largely because she’s trying to protect the nearly two dozen freshmen who got elected in districts Trump carried in 2016 — and where he could very well win again in 2020. She also believes there will never be 67 votes in the Senate for removing Trump. And she wants to focus on bread-and-butter issues like health care and infrastructure that average voters care about more and where her party is on solid ground.
But Harris is trying to appeal to liberal activists who vote in primaries and regain some of the momentum she’s lost since announcing her candidacy. A Washington Post-Schar School poll conducted after Attorney General Bill Barr sent his brief summary to Congress but before the redacted report was released last week found that about 6 in 10 Democrats want Congress to begin impeachment hearings. But only 4 in 10 Americans do. In fact, a 54 percent majority of respondents said lawmakers should not pursue impeachment.
-- Harris, a first-termer, is following the lead of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who staked out a similar position on Friday. Warren made an impassioned case for impeachment during her own CNN town hall, in which five candidates appeared back to back for an hour each. (Julián Castro also said Congress should seriously consider impeachment.)
“There is no ‘political inconvenience’ exception to the United States Constitution,’” Warren said. “I took an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States, and so did everybody else in the Senate and in the House. … If there are people in the House or the Senate who want to say that’s what a president can do when the president is being investigated for his own wrongdoings or when a foreign government attacks our country, then they should have to take that vote and live with it for the rest of their lives,” she said. “If you’ve actually read the Mueller report, it’s all laid out there. It’s not like it’s going to take a long time to figure this out. It’s there. It’s got the footnotes. It’s got the points. It connects directly to the law.”
-- “Members of Pelosi’s leadership team reaffirmed her cautious approach, according to four officials on the call,” per Rachael Bade, Karoun Demirjian and Jackie Alemany. “But Pelosi’s message did not go over well with several Democrats, who argued that Congress has a duty to hold Trump to account with impeachment despite the political blowback Pelosi has long feared. Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.), a member of the House Judiciary Committee, argued that as someone with more than 25 years of experience in law enforcement, she thought the House had enough evidence to proceed. … Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) said the party has a duty to openly discuss the downside of not impeaching Trump for his actions and the precedent it could set for the future. …
“Despite leadership’s effort to tamp down impeachment talk, they did not rule it out completely. In fact, after some of her members spoke up, Pelosi clarified that ‘if it is what we need to do to honor our responsibility to the Constitution — if that’s the place the facts take us, that’s the place we have to go.’ … Officials following the House probes closely say that’s intentional. Should Pelosi declare ‘no impeachment’ flat out, she probably would undercut her chairmen’s bid to sue the Trump administration for the full Mueller report, including grand jury information. To get those documents, impeachment probably would have to be on the table, lawyers say, justifying the House move to get such information.”
-- Part of the Harris-Pelosi divide is generational, and part of it is experiential. Pelosi, 79, was in the House when Republicans impeached Bill Clinton. Harris, 54, was a junior prosecutor in the 1990s.
-- Bernie Sanders made a pragmatic case against impeachment during his town hall on CNN last night. It’s another fresh example of the Vermont senator, who is trying to appeal to disaffected Trump voters, refusing to pander to the far left. Because he has more credibility with the hardcore liberal base than anyone else, Sanders can reject grass-tops pressure to embrace reparations, change the rules of the Senate and pack the Supreme Court.
While Trump is “the most dangerous president in the modern history of this country,” Sanders said, trying to remove the president from office could lead to four more years of him. The 77-year-old, who was in the House during Clinton impeachment, said he supports vigorous investigations but wants to stay focused on other issues. “At the end of the day, what is most important to me is to see that Donald Trump is not reelected president,” Sanders said. “If for the next year and a half, going right into the heart of the election, all that the Congress is talking about is impeaching Trump and ‘Trump, Trump, Trump’ and ‘Mueller, Mueller, Mueller,’ and we're not talking about health care … the minimum wage … climate change … sexism and racism and homophobia, and all of the issues that concern ordinary Americans, what I worry about is that works to Trump's advantage.”
-- Pete Buttigieg punted but struck a somewhat similar tone as Sanders: “I think he's made it pretty clear that he deserves impeachment,” he said to applause on CNN, “but I'm also going to leave it to the House and Senate to figure that out, because my role in the process is trying to relegate Trumpism to the dust bin of history, and I think there's no more decisive way to do that, especially to get Republicans to abandon this kind of deal with the devil they made, than to have just an absolute thumping at the ballot box for what that represents.”
The mayor of South Bend, Ind., added that “Congress is going to have to figure out how to do several things at once”: “But while we're making sure there is oversight and accountability, which there's got to be, we've also got to make sure we're talking about the things that most affect people in an immediate and concrete sense,” he said. “Again, these are some of the reasons why a lot of voters where I come from are disaffected with the system entirely. The more we're talking about him, if we're only talking about him, then folks at home feel like nobody's talking about them. … It’s hard to look away from a horror show. … It's mesmerizing. But we have got to figure out a way to change the channel.”
-- Not surprisingly at all, key Republicans in the Senate dismissed any talk of impeachment over the long weekend. Campaigning for reelection in Kentucky, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said “it’s time to move on.” On the stump in South Carolina, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham told CNN: “The Mueller report is over for me. Done.” Like Harris and Pelosi, they’re responding to their own incentives: Both are up for reelection in 2020 in red states where Trump is more popular than they are.
-- Eugene Robinson opens his column today with this quote from Graham making the case for impeaching Clinton in 1999: “You don’t even have to be convicted of a crime to lose your job in this constitutional republic if [the Senate] determines that your conduct as a public official is clearly out of bounds in your role … because impeachment is not about punishment,” Graham said. “Impeachment is about cleansing the office. Impeachment is about restoring honor and integrity to the office.”
“The political case for moving deliberately but fearlessly toward impeachment is even clearer: If timorous Democrats do not seize and define this moment, Trump surely will,” Robinson argues. “The conventional wisdom is that Republicans made a political error by impeaching Clinton. But they did win the White House in 2000 and go on to dominate Congress for most of President George W. Bush’s tenure. If impeachment was a mistake, it wasn’t a very costly one. Does it ‘play into Trump’s hands’ to speak of impeachment? I think it plays into the president’s hands to disappoint the Democratic base and come across as weak and frightened. Voters who saw the need to hold Trump accountable decided to give Democrats some power — and now expect them to use it.”
-- Joe Lockhart, who was Clinton’s White House press secretary from 1998 to 2000, makes the case against impeachment in an op-ed for today’s New York Times: “Nothing will unite an increasingly fraying Republican Party more than trying to remove the president anywhere but at the ballot box. Democrats risk the kind of overreach that doomed the Republicans 20 years ago. And in any case Democrats are not likely to succeed in getting votes in the Senate to convict the president. And in politics, a loss is a loss — there are no moral victories. ….
“For Democrats, leaving Donald Trump in office is not only good politics — it is the best chance for fundamental realignment of American politics in more than a generation,” Lockhart adds. “Trumpism has become Republicanism, and that spells electoral doom for the party. … We’re not quite there yet — but keeping President Trump in office is the best way to cement Trumpism’s hold on the Republican Party.”
THE STONEWALLING CONTINUES:
-- Trump sued House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and his own accounting firm to try to block a subpoena for the president’s financial records. David Fahrenthold, Rachael Bade and John Wagner report: “The lawsuit, filed in federal court in the District of Columbia, seeks a court order to quash a subpoena issued last week by the committee to Mazars USA. Trump’s lawyers also are asking a federal judge to temporarily block the subpoena until the court has had a chance to review their request. The move amounts to Trump — the leader of the executive branch of government — asking the judicial branch to stop the legislative branch from investigating his past. Former House counsels from both sides of the aisle called the challenge a long shot and an apparent delay tactic.”
-- The White House instructed Carl Kline, a former personnel security director, to not show up for questioning by the House Oversight Committee. Tom Hamburger reports: “White House deputy counsel Michael M. Purpura wrote a letter Monday asking [Kline] … not to show up as the committee had requested. Kline is now working at the Defense Department. In a letter to Kline’s lawyer obtained by The Washington Post, Purpura wrote that a committee subpoena asking Kline to appear ‘unconstitutionally encroaches on fundamental executive branch interests.’ In a separate letter Monday, Kline's attorney, Robert Driscoll, told the panel that his client would adhere to the White House recommendation. ‘With two masters from two equal branches of government, we will follow the instructions of the one that employs him,’ Driscoll wrote in the letter addressed to Cummings.”
-- And the IRS is poised to blow off the second deadline — at the close of business today — that was set by Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richie Neal (D-Mass.) to turn over Trump’s tax returns.
-- Meanwhile, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-Mass.) issued a subpoena on Monday to former White House counsel Donald McGahn — both to testify before his panel next month and to hand over documents pertaining to the federal investigations of Trump, his finances, his campaign and allegations he sought to obstruct justice.
-- Connecting the dots: The reaction to the Mueller report shows how Trump threatens to redefine the legal and ethical standards that have long served as constraints on the American presidency. “And they suggest that few, if any, of the traditional guardrails that have kept Trump’s predecessors in check remain for this president and possibly those who will follow him,” Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey report. “On Sunday, Trump lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani seemed to further define downward acceptable presidential conduct, telling CNN’s ‘State of the Union’ that ‘there’s nothing wrong with taking information from Russians.’ … He said the issue was not one of ‘immorality,’ arguing that nearly every presidential campaign in history has engaged in some sort of immoral or unethical behavior.
“White House aides said they think the report will cause little long-term political damage because … even some of the president’s most ardent supporters do not view him as a paragon of morality. Several advisers added that they expect Mueller’s conclusions to cost Trump few votes. … Current and former aides say they do not expect Trump to change his behavior, saying he is unlikely to be responsive to anything other than political pain in the form of a real revolt by Republican leadership or a sharp drop in poll numbers. … Trump was showing no signs of backing down on Monday. Asked at the White House Easter Egg Roll whether he was worried about impeachment, he replied, ‘Not even a little bit.’”
-- Giuliani said yesterday that Trump’s legal team has decided to shelve its plan to issue a formal rebuttal to Mueller’s report. He told Bloomberg News it was smart for Trump not to give an interview to Mueller or answer questions related to obstruction of justice. “I am convinced I had the right strategy,” Giuliani said. “Thank God he didn’t go into questioning.”
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- A 6.1-magnitude earthquake shook the Philippines, killing at least eight people. Regine Cabato reports: “Manila residents described it as the strongest quake in years, and Clark International Airport, about 50 miles northwest of Manila on the main island of Luzon, had to be closed after part of its ceiling caved in. Local media said a number of churches were also damaged.”
GET SMART FAST:
The number of U.S. measles cases increased by 71 last week, bringing the total this year to 626. The latest figures suggest the United States is on track to surpass the record number of cases in a single year — which was set in 2014 with 667 cases — since health officials declared measles eliminated in 2000. (Lena Sun)
Medicare’s Hospital Insurance Trust Fund is expected to run out of funding by 2026 partly because of lower tax revenue and higher payments to medical providers. Medicare’s costs overall are expected to continue rising over the next few decades from about 3.7 percent of the total U.S. economy to 5.9 percent. (Jeff Stein)
Federal prosecutors are wrapping up an investigation that could result in the first criminal case involving a major opioid distributor. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and the Drug Enforcement Administration have been investigating possible wire and mail fraud among drug distributors and are expected to bring still-unknown charges against Rochester Drug Cooperative. (New York Times)
The rate of ice loss from Greenland’s glaciers has increased nearly sixfold since the 1980s. According to a new study, the country’s glaciers went from losing about 51 billion tons of ice between 1980 and 1990 to losing 286 billion tons between 2010 and 2018. (Chris Mooney and Brady Dennis)
- Two of the Google employees who helped organize a November walkout over the company’s alleged mishandling of sexual harassment complaints say they have experienced retaliation. One walkout organizer, Claire Stapleton, said she was demoted two months after the walkout and encouraged to go on medical leave even though she wasn’t sick. Google reversed the demotion only after Stapleton hired a lawyer and an investigation was conducted. (Wired)
Samsung announced that it was delaying the release of its new Galaxy Fold phone after reviewers complained of screen defects. The $2,000 phone, which folds like a sandwich and was expected to arrive in stores Friday, was touted as an innovative way to revive the stagnant smartphone market. (Reed Albergotti)
Broward County in Florida vowed to police more aggressively after the Parkland shooting. Now an officer has punched a 15-year-old. The officer straddled the teen and smashed his forehead into the asphalt after he tried to pick up a cellphone dropped by another teen who’d been caught trespassing in the past. (Alex Horton)
- The importation of cheap Chinese caviar has caused prices to nosedive and put its status as a luxury good at risk. Wholesale prices for caviar have fallen more than 50 percent since 2012, allowing restaurants to more easily incorporate the food into their menus. Even the NBA has started its own caviar line that the league hopes to soon roll out in arenas. (Laura Reiley)
THE LATEST FROM SRI LANKA:
-- In a speech to Parliament today, Sri Lanka's defense secretary described the devastating string of Easter bombings that killed 321 people as a direct response to last month's attack on two mosques in New Zealand, even as the Islamic State extremist group claimed responsibility. Joanna Slater, Amantha Perera and Shibani Mahtani report: “Three hotels and three churches were attacked by suicide bombers on Sunday in an operation that authorities appear to have had advance warning about. ... In the statement carried Tuesday by the Islamic State’s Amaq News Agency, the extremist group said the attacks were targeting Christians and “coalition countries” and were carried out by fighters from its organization. … [State Minister of Defense Ruwan] Wijewardene did not mention the Islamic State, but only said the attack was carried out by members of two local radical Islamist groups, the National Thowheed Jamaath and the little known Jammiyathul Millathu Ibrahim. A U.S. official said the the Thowheed group has links to the Islamic State, but their significance is unclear. …
“Leaked copies of a report by intelligence officials earlier this month warned of plans by the National Thowheed Jamaath group to attack churches. Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne has called for the resignation of the top police official for not taking any action. … Two officials provided The Washington Post with the three-page intelligence report … in which a senior police official warned of potential suicide attacks. …
“A Sri Lankan security official characterized Thowheed Jamaath as a shell for the Islamic State and said it has been active in Kattankudy, an area in the eastern part of the country and home to one of its largest Muslim populations. The group’s leadership is believed to be based there… By Tuesday morning, 40 people had been arrested … Authorities said the main attacks — on churches and hotels — were carried out by seven suicide bombers. … Police have been given emergency powers to detain and question suspects without a court order. Such powers were used extensively during Sri Lanka’s civil war but have not been implemented since 2011. …
“As news of the supposed advance notice about the attacks spread, mourners responded with rising anger mixed with grief at funerals and other gatherings in Christian communities. ‘This is the government’s fault. They are incompetent. They knew and they did nothing,’ said one man who was weeping Monday outside a funeral in Negombo.”
-- A team of FBI agents is on the ground. The intelligence community is trying to figure out whether the local group — whose name translates to something like National Monotheism Organization — had overseas help.
-- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed “Islamic radical terror” for the attacks: “This is America’s fight, too,” Pompeo said at a Monday news conference. Although the Islamic State’s “caliphate” has been destroyed with the collapse of the group’s last strongholds in Syria, “radical Islamist terror remains a threat,” he said.
-- At least four Americans are among the dead and “several” others were seriously injured, per the State Department. Katie Mettler and Michael Brice-Saddler report: “Officials at an elite Washington-area private school, Sidwell Friends, confirmed the death of one of its students ... The fifth-grade boy, Kieran Shafritz de Zoysa, had been on leave for the past year in Sri Lanka. ... Ben Nicholson and his wife, Anita, were sitting down for breakfast with their two children when the bombs went off. The family was on holiday in Sri Lanka, something Nicholson attributes to his wife's commitment to providing a culturally fulfilling life for their children. The British family of four went in to the restaurant at the Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo, but Ben Nicholson was the only one that survived the explosion, detonated by a suicide bomber in line at the restaurant’s buffet. Anita Nicholson and their children, 14-year-old son Alex and 11-year-old daughter Annabel, ‘died instantly, with no pain or suffering,’ Nicholson said in a heart-breaking statement.”
-- The attacks have intensified fears about religious violence, particularly coming on the heels of the mosque massacre in Christchurch and the killings at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. Michelle Boorstein and Sarah Pulliam Bailey report: “Experts who study long-term trends of religious intolerance and violence disagree, however, on whether things are getting worse, better or generally have remained level. Even so, religious leaders say the attacks have come at a fragile time. Religious institutions are losing power, and anger, tribalism and controversy boil away online every minute of the day. It’s hard to gauge or stop tensions from ballooning, they say, and the Sri Lanka attacks are a reminder of the risks.”
-- Sri Lanka shut down access to social media sites in the aftermath of the attacks. Tony Romm, Elizabeth Dwoskin and Craig Timberg report: “A decade ago, Facebook, Twitter and their social media peers helped spearhead pro-democracy uprisings that toppled dictators throughout the Middle East, and their services were seen as a way to help in catastrophes, allowing authorities a vehicle to convey crucial information and organize assistance. Today, though, those same social media sites appear to some as a force that can corrode democracy as much as promote it, quickly spreading disinformation to an audience of millions and fueling ethnic violence before authorities can take steps to stop it.”
-- The Supreme Court will rule on whether federal laws prohibit discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation. Robert Barnes reports: “The justices announced Monday that they accepted three cases involving gay and transgender employees for the term that will begin in October. The issue has percolated for years in lower courts, and the justices spent months deciding whether now was the time to review those rulings. It’s sure to be one of the new docket’s most controversial topics, raising the profiles of the Supreme Court and gay rights as Democrats challenge [Trump] for the White House. The cases involve a transgender funeral home director who won her case after being terminated; a gay skydiving instructor who successfully challenged his firing; and a social worker who was unable to convince a court that he was unlawfully dismissed because of his sexual orientation. … They will be the Supreme Court’s first major gay rights cases without Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who was the deciding vote and wrote the majority opinions in all of the landmark victories for gay rights, including the right to marriage in 2015’s Obergefell v. Hodges.”
-- The court will hear oral arguments today in the case challenging the Trump administration’s move to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, which could bring renewed scrutiny to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s false claim that the Justice Department originally requested the question’s inclusion. Salvador Rizzo reports: “Emails show that Ross pressed Justice Department officials behind the scenes to send him the question and then, in public, claimed it was their idea, not his. Three federal judges, in California, Maryland and New York, have called Ross’s stated reason for adding the question a ‘pretext’ and concluded that he violated federal law by concealing the question’s origins.”
-- Research indicates the inclusion of a citizenship question would make some Americans, particularly immigrants and Latinos, less likely to participate in the census. According to a survey conducted by a UCLA political scientist, 7 to 10 percent of respondents said they would not respond to the census if it asked about citizenship. That included 11 to 18 percent of immigrants and 14 to 17 percent of Latinos.
-- The 6th Circuit ruled that tire-chalking is unconstitutional and violates the Fourth Amendment’s bar on unreasonable searches. “The decision, while undoubtedly bringing joy to parking scofflaws everywhere, could cost some cities money, either from lost revenue or having to install meters where none exist,” Fred Barbash reports. “On the other hand, as Fourth Amendment expert Orin Kerr of the University of Southern California law school tweeted, it ‘seems easy enough these days for parking enforcers to just take a photo of the car, or even just a close-up photo of the tire, rather than chalk it. . . . No 4A issues then.’” The case could be appealed.
-- The 4th Circuit declined to release Chelsea Manning from jail over her contempt-of-court charge after she refused to testify in the case against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Rachel Weiner reports: “‘The court finds no error in the district court’s rulings and affirms its finding of civil contempt,’ a three-judge panel ... wrote in a brief order. The panel also rejected Manning’s bid to be let out of jail while she fights the subpoena. She can still appeal to the full 4th Circuit or Supreme Court.”
THE NEW WORLD ORDER:
-- Pompeo announced that the Trump administration would end waivers on Iranian oil exports, threatening to impose sanctions on key U.S. allies if they continue business with the country. Carol Morello reports: “The waiver decision came after oil prices have already risen by a third this year and threatens to take more than a million barrels a day off the market. In anticipation of the move, crude oil prices rose 2.4 percent … Last November, the administration reimposed sanctions that had been lifted with the 2015 nuclear agreement. [Trump] granted waivers to eight of Iran’s biggest customers, allowing them a six-month grace period to wind down their purchases. The affected buyers are China, India, Japan, South Korea and Turkey. The administration also is letting waivers lapse for Italy, Greece and Taiwan, but they have already stopped buying Iranian oil.”
-- Iran is threatening to cut off access to the Strait of Hormuz, a key waterway for global oil shipments, in retaliation. “If we are prevented from using it, we will close it,” Iran’s state-run news agency reported. But the United States has said it would push back against any attempt to block the waterway, which Iran has previously threatened to close. (Bloomberg News)
-- Myanmar’s Supreme Court rejected the appeal of Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo a week after they won a Pulitzer Prize for international reporting. The two journalists have served more than 16 months in jail on phony charges of violating the country’s colonial-era secrets law. Kyaw Ye Lynn and Timothy McLaughlin report: “The appeal was the last legal hope for a reversal of charges. A lawyer for the pair said the journalists have ‘lost faith’ in the judicial process, and will not pursue a second, final appeal to the Supreme Court. The court’s rejection upholds their seven-year conviction and underscores the government’s unwillingness to free the journalists despite overwhelming foreign pressure and outrage.”
-- The U.S. threatened to veto a United Nations resolution on combating the use of rape as a weapon of war because of its language on reproductive and sexual health. The Guardian’s Julian Borger reports: “The draft resolution has already been stripped of one of its most important elements, the establishment of a formal mechanism to monitor and report atrocities, because of opposition from the US, Russia and China, which opposed creating a new monitoring body. Even after the formal monitoring mechanism was stripped from the resolution, the US was still threatening to veto the watered-down version, because it includes language on victims’ support from family planning clinics.”
-- Volodymyr Zelensky, a comedian who stars in a sitcom about a teacher who becomes president, defeated incumbent Petro Poroshenko in Ukraine’s presidential election. Now he's trying to figure out how to govern. Anton Troianovski reports: “Zelensky swept to the presidency amid intense popular discontent with Ukraine’s political elites five years after the country’s pro-Western revolution. He is expected to be inaugurated in late May or early June. … He will need to show voters that he is as serious about tackling corruption as the exactingly moral president he plays on TV — and whose regular-guy approach Zelensky often echoed in his real-life campaign.”
MORE ON 2020:
-- Nineteen candidates and counting: Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) announced that he will seek the Democratic presidential nomination. From David Weigel and John Wagner: “The Massachusetts congressman, 40, a former Marine Corps captain who served in the Iraq War, was first elected in 2014 after ousting a scandal-plagued Democratic incumbent. He is the sixth current or recent member of the House to enter the Democratic contest and one of three veterans seeking the nomination. … Moulton is also the second House member to mount a presidential bid after waging an effort to replace Nancy Pelosi ... Like Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), who entered the race earlier this month, Moulton campaigned for multiple House candidates last cycle while calling for fresh leadership. And like Ryan, Moulton eventually voted to give the gavel back to Pelosi, but only after some negotiations over the party’s rules.”
-- Joe Biden plans to close his personal charity, the Biden Foundation, after his imminent campaign launch. The New York Times’s Alexander Burns reports: “Mr. Biden, the former vice president, and his wife, Jill, formed the nonprofit group after he left office in 2017. The group had raised $6.6 million by the end of that year, financing initiatives on issues like expanding gay rights, making college more affordable and ending violence against women. … By preparing to unravel his flagship organization, Mr. Biden may be hoping to avoid some of the financial and conflict-of-interest questions that shadowed Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election, when her family foundation continued to operate and receive large donations and grants as she was pursuing the White House.”
-- But his campaign launch is facing potential delays. The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Jonathan Tamari and Chris Brennan report: “If the former vice president does launch his presidential campaign this week, it won’t involve a trip to Charlottesville, Va., and plans for potential public events in Pennsylvania are also uncertain, according to sources familiar with his plans. … Two sources close to Biden’s campaign told The Inquirer on Friday that they expected him to begin his campaign in Charlottesville on Wednesday, followed by potential events in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Two more sources later confirmed that those plans appeared likely, though they all stressed that the plans were preliminary and might change. … On Monday, however, one of The Inquirer’s original sources said the considerations involving those sites had been scuttled, and another person close to Biden said definitively that the former vice president would not be traveling to Charlottesville.”
-- Bernie's campaign released new internal polls that purport to show him leading Trump in hypothetical matchups in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. According to the data released by the campaign, Sanders is up by double digits in Michigan and Wisconsin and leads in Pennsylvania by eight points. (NBC News)
-- Elizabeth Warren unveiled a $1.25 trillion proposal to cancel most student loan debt and eliminate tuition at public colleges. Danielle Douglas-Gabriel reports: “Her plan would wipe away up to $50,000 in student debt for borrowers with an annual household income of less than $100,000, an estimated 42 million Americans. It also would cover tuition at all two- and four-year public colleges, while expanding federal Pell Grants for low-income students by $100 billion and creating a $50 billion fund for historically black colleges and universities. The cost? Roughly $1.25 trillion over 10 years. Debt forgiveness alone would involve a one-time cost of $640 billion. Warren, who unveiled the plan in a piece posted on Medium, plans to pay for the plan with her Ultra-Millionaire Tax, a 2 percent annual tax on 75,000 families with $50 million or more in wealth.”
-- During last night's CNN town hall, Kamala Harris also said she would give Congress 100 days to pass broad gun-control legislation. If it fails to do so, Harris said she would take executive action to expand background checks, restore fugitives to the list of people who can’t buy a handgun and revoke the licenses of gun dealers who break the law. A Harris aide said that she also plans on closing the “boyfriend loophole” to prevent convicted domestic abusers from purchasing guns. (Chelsea Janes)
-- Amy Klobuchar had a “please clap” moment during the town hall. “It’s when you guys are supposed to cheer, okay?” Klobuchar told the audience when they didn’t react to her boast that she’d won every congressional district in her state in each of her elections, including that of former Republican congresswoman Michele Bachmann. Klobuchar also said she felt town hall moderator Chris Cuomo kept “creeping” over her shoulder. (Fox News)
-- Kirsten Gillibrand said she won't use stolen, hacked materials from foreign adversaries in her campaign and called on other 2020 candidates to make the same pledge. A senior adviser to Julián Castro’s campaign tweeted a similar message, and Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez asked his Republican National Committee counterpart to refrain from engaging in the weaponization of stolen data in the 2020 electoral process. (CNN)
-- Pete Buttigieg’s competitors are scrambling to dig up dirt on the South Bend mayor. NBC News’s Josh Lederman reports: Buttigieg’s rivals “are rushing to file a flood of Freedom of Information Act requests, according to officials, collecting everything he's ever said in public or posted on social media, and poring over years-old budgets from South Bend, Indiana, where he's served as mayor since 2012. One official from a rival Democratic presidential campaign described Buttigieg as ‘a 37-year-old kid mayor, who nobody knows anything about.’”
THE IMMIGRATION WARS:
-- The FBI arrested the leader of an armed militia that “detained” migrants at the border after a video of the group holding the migrants against their will sparked outrage. Kayla Epstein, Lindsey Bever and Eli Rosenberg report: “Larry Mitchell Hopkins, 69, was arrested in the New Mexico border city of Sunland Park on charges of being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition, the FBI said. … Hopkins leads the United Constitutional Patriots, or UCP, one of several militias that have taken to patrolling the U.S.-Mexico border. … The militia’s stated objective is to ‘uphold the Constitution of The United States of America’ and to protect citizens’ rights ‘against all enemies both foreign and domestic’ — which mimics the Oath of Enlistment taken by U.S. service members. … The FBI said it had been given information that Hopkins had ‘allegedly made the statement that the United Constitutional Patriots were training to assassinate George Soros, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.’”
-- Trump is directing the secretaries of state and homeland security to find ways to take action against countries with high visa-overstay rates. Felicia Sonmez and Seung Min Kim report: “In its statement announcing the move, the White House said recommendations from the Departments of State and Homeland Security on limiting nonimmigrant visa overstays are due within 120 days. One step under consideration, according to the White House, is the suspension or restriction of entry for individuals from countries with high overstay rates. ‘The rampant problem of visa overstays is undermining the rule of law and straining resources that are needed to address the crisis at our southern border’ the statement reads. The move is aimed at countries with visa overstay rates of higher than 10 percent — a figure that applies to 20 countries — as well as those participating in the Visa Waiver Program.” Several nations in Africa are among those with double-digit overstay rates, according to 2017 DHS figures.
-- Mexican police and immigration agents detained about 500 Central American migrants in the largest single raid on a migrant caravan since the groups started arriving at the border last year. The AP’s Sonia Pérez reports: “The migrants were driven to buses, presumably for subsequent transportation to an immigration station for deportation processing. … Some of the women and children wailed and screamed during the detentions on the roadside. Clothes, shoes, suitcases and strollers littered the scene after they were taken away. … Agents had encouraged groups of migrants that separated from the bulk of the caravan to rest after some seven hours on the road, including about half of that under a broiling sun. When the migrants regrouped to continue, they were detained. Agents positioned themselves at the head of the group and at the back. Some people in civilian clothing appeared to be participating in the detentions.”
ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN AND WOMEN:
-- The release of the Mueller report has further damaged Sarah Sanders’s credibility, especially among the people who deal with her every day. Paul Farhi reports: “One White House reporter, April Ryan, has openly called for Sanders to be fired. While others don’t go that far, they acknowledge that Sanders’s public statements have damaged her, perhaps permanently, as the president’s spokeswoman. … 'I hope and trust that she understands why this is a big deal and why it matters to us and to her,’ said Peter Baker, the veteran New York Times White House reporter, in an interview Monday. ‘A press secretary’s most important asset is credibility. If you don’t have that, there’s not much point. But we all make mistakes. The test is what you do about it to make things better.’ … Ryan, a CNN political analyst who covers the White House for American Urban Radio Networks, was having none of that on Monday. ‘She has acknowledged that she lied under oath,’ she said. ‘You can’t trust her. End of story.’”
-- The president announced that he will not nominate Herman Cain, bowing to the political reality that he couldn't get confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate. But Trump is still eyeing allies for the central bank's board. Heather Long reports: “Cain called the White House on Monday morning to say he did not want to be considered for the position anymore, according to Cain and a person familiar with the call. … With Cain out, the focus now shifts to Stephen Moore, Trump’s other planned nominee for the board.”
-- Moore wrote in a 2002 National Review column that women referees should be banned from college basketball games. Moore wrote during the 2002 March Madness tournament: “How outrageous is this? This year they allowed a woman ref a men's NCAA game. Liberals celebrate this breakthrough as a triumph for gender equity. … I see it as an obscenity. Is there no area in life where men can take vacation from women? What's next? Women invited to bachelor parties? Women in combat? (Oh yeah, they've done that already.) … Here's the rule change I propose: No more women refs, no women announcers, no women beer venders, no women anything.” Asked about the column, as well as other controversial writings, Moore said, “This was a spoof. I have a sense of humor.” (CNN)
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Trump started the day early attacking the New York Times and one of its columnists:
Paul Krugman, of the Fake News New York Times, has lost all credibility, as has the Times itself, with his false and highly inaccurate writings on me. He is obsessed with hatred, just as others are obsessed with how stupid he is. He said Market would crash, Only Record Highs!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 23, 2019
I wonder if the New York Times will apologize to me a second time, as they did after the 2016 Election. But this one will have to be a far bigger & better apology. On this one they will have to get down on their knees & beg for forgiveness-they are truly the Enemy of the People!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 23, 2019
Here’s Krugman’s column that seems to have set the president off.
The president said he should be “basically immune” from criticism:
In the “old days” if you were President and you had a good economy, you were basically immune from criticism. Remember, “It’s the economy stupid.” Today I have, as President, perhaps the greatest economy in history...and to the Mainstream Media, it means NOTHING. But it will!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 23, 2019
He then moved on to express his approval of Fox News:
Sorry to say but @foxandfriends is by far the best of the morning political shows on television. It rightfully has BY FAR the highest ratings, not even close. Morning Psycho (Joe), who helped get me elected in 2016 by having me on (free) all the time, has nosedived, too Angry...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 23, 2019
....Dumb and Sick. A really bad show with low ratings - and will only get worse. CNN has been a proven and long term ratings and beyond disaster. In fact, it rewarded Chris Cuomo with a now unsuccessful prime time slot, despite his massive failure in the morning. Only on CNN!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 23, 2019
A Daily Beast reporter noted this of Trump's Twitter feed:
at this point trump is basically filling in for the fox news twitter account, which hasn't tweeted in months pic.twitter.com/msFzjWAxJs— Max Tani (@maxwelltani) April 22, 2019
On Monday night, the president retweeted 24 posts in about 30 minutes that went as far back as a year and covered topics ranging from the Mueller report to the White House’s Easter festivities:
Isn’t it amazing that the people who were closest to me, by far, and knew the Campaign better than anyone, were never even called to testify before Mueller. The reason is that the 18 Angry Democrats knew they would all say ‘NO COLLUSION’ and only very good things!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 22, 2019
He also tweeted a taunt at CNN before firing off several tweets sharing Fox News clips:
The president shared some love during the White House Easter Egg Roll:
"I love them. I know they like me too. It's the egg farmers of this country, the egg farmers," Trump says at the White House Easter Egg Roll.— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) April 22, 2019
The National Archives shared pictures of past White House Easter Egg Rolls:
Stories about egg rolling date back to Abraham Lincoln, but President Rutherford B. Hayes presided over the first official White House Easter Egg Roll in 1878, two years after Congress banned the activities from happening on the Hill. 📸https://t.co/3tzLrQfT5V #EggRoll2019 pic.twitter.com/GP1qEb1D63— US National Archives (@USNatArchives) April 22, 2019
Though the egg roll moratorium ended in 1953, Presidents began skipping the Egg Roll. The tradition of a Presidential appearance wasn’t revitalized until President Gerald Ford’s appearance in 1976, the first since since 1960. https://t.co/1gnGyELo3k #EggRoll2019 @GWBLibrary pic.twitter.com/fsYPdx5MrI— US National Archives (@USNatArchives) April 22, 2019
The executive editor of the Washington Examiner shared his views on Warren's education plan — and was widely ridiculed:
Plans to regulate food would be a slap in the face to all those who died of salmonella— Sam Sykes (@SamSykesSwears) April 22, 2019
As someone who has paid off my student loan debt, I'd love to live in a world where my friends and loved ones can be freed of the financial weight of theirs https://t.co/csJQxPkdBP— Wesley (@WesleyLowery) April 22, 2019
Jenna Bush Hager announced she's having another child:
These gorillas struck a pose:
View this post on Instagram
1, 2, 3… strike a pose! 📸 Two gorillas have been photographed posing in a very nonchalant way - with the rangers who rescued them as babies. This image was taken at a gorilla orphanage in Virunga National Park, DR Congo, where the animals were raised after poachers killed their parents. Innocent Mburanumwe, deputy director of the park, said they are “imitating the humans”, because they’ve grown up with the rangers who rescued them. Tap the link in our bio to find out more about these sassy posers ⬆️ #bbcnews #posers #drcongo #virunganationalpark
And a watchdog group shared a map of every report of human feces made to the city of San Francisco in the past eight years:
-- “A climate change solution slowly gains ground,” Steven Mufson reports from Hunstville, Ala.: “At the end of a cul-de-sac called Fresh Way, two bright green structures the size of shipping containers gleam in the warm sunlight, quietly sucking from the air the carbon dioxide that is warming the planet … This is Global Thermostat, one of just three companies at the leading edge of the hunt for ways of skimming carbon dioxide from the air. It is a tiny step, but a hopeful one, toward reducing global warming. Amid a steady drumbeat of grim news about climate change, more and more people are captivated by the idea that a feasible process can help offset decades of damage to the atmosphere.”
-- The New Yorker, “The Jewish trumpeter who entertained Nazis to survive the Holocaust,” by Amanda Petrusich: “In 1961, sixteen years after Eric Vogel leaped from a transport train headed toward the Nazi concentration camp at Dachau, he recounted his escape for Downbeat, an American jazz magazine: ‘This is a story of horror, terror, and death but also of joy and pleasure, the history of a jazz band whose members were doomed to die.’ … While Vogel was imprisoned by the Nazis … he and a dozen or so others played in a jazz band called the Ghetto Swingers. There were similar groups at many camps throughout Nazi-controlled Europe: musicians who were forced to perform, on command and under inconceivable duress, for the S.S. The particular cruelty of this … remains wildly perverse, though Vogel was nonetheless grateful for any chance, however grim, to make the music that he loved.”
-- The New York Times Magazine, “The company that sells love to America had a dark secret,” by Taffy Brodesser-Akner: “Fourteen years was a long time to abide deep and overt discrimination at your job. It’s also a long time to be a named claimant in a lawsuit, which at one point grew to include nearly 70,000 women. It is a long time for that lawsuit to have made just about no progress toward a resolution. And it is a long time to wonder just how an enormous, publicly traded company was able to keep the details of its working conditions from its shareholders and from the public, and why those secrets might have been the company’s most valuable assets after all.”
HOT ON THE LEFT:
“Trump mixes up Sri Lankan president and prime minister in tweet after Easter Sunday attacks,” from Felicia Sonmez: “Trump deleted a tweet Monday in which he had mistakenly said he had spoken by phone with Sri Lanka’s president instead of the country’s prime minister in the wake of the Easter Sunday explosions that killed 290 people and wounded more than 500. … According to a statement from White House spokesman Hogan Gidley, Trump called Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Monday morning to express condolences for the attacks and pledge the support of the United States. But in a tweet Monday afternoon, Trump misstated both the name of the leader and the day of the call. Trump said he had called Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on Sunday, according to Factba.se, which archives the president’s tweets and other public comments.”
HOT ON THE RIGHT:
“Why Having a Gun in New Jersey Could Soon Cost 20 Times as Much,” from the New York Times: “Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey wants to put the state at the forefront of a movement to raise fees on gun permits in order to expand efforts to tackle gun violence and reduce the flow of illegal firearms. Though New Jersey has strict gun control laws, its firearms fees have not changed since the mid-1960s, making it a bargain for gun owners. A firearm identification card costs $5, while a permit to own a firearm is $2. A permit to carry a gun costs $20. New York City, which also has stringent gun laws, charges $340 to apply for a permit to own and carry a gun. Mr. Murphy, a Democrat, has proposed fees that would be among the highest in the country. An identification card would cost $100, an owner’s permit would be $50 and a carry permit $400.”
Trump will participate in a photo op with the recipients of the White House News Photographers Association award. He will then have lunch with Pence and later participate in a swearing-in ceremony for Interior Secretary David Bernhardt.
Pence will join the president for the swearing-in ceremony.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“Nobody disobeys my orders.” — Trump in response to the Mueller report, which outlines several instances of administration officials ignoring the president’s legally questionable directions. (Aaron Blake)
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- It’s a beautiful day with a possible high of 83 and clear skies. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “We’ve got some Southern California-style weather today. In other words, conditions are spectacular with low humidity, warm temperatures and lots of sunshine. The lovely weather continues for much of the week, with the first real chance of rain not coming until Thursday night into Friday.”
-- The Nationals lost to the Rockies 7-5. (Jesse Dougherty)
-- The Capitals lost to the Hurricanes 5-2, tying the series 3-3. (Samantha Pell)
-- Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D) received a $50,000 donation from Andrew Rosen, a friend, the day he filed a campaign finance report showing he hadn’t raised any money since two women publicly accused him of sexual assault. Laura Vozzella reports: “Rosen and Fairfax are both graduates of Duke University and served together on the board of visitors at the Sanford School of Public Policy until Feb. 6, when Fairfax was asked to step down in the wake of the allegations against him. Rosen, who remains on the board, has consistently donated to Fairfax since he entered politics. … Fairfax spokeswoman Lauren Burke indicated in a statement that other substantial donations were on the way and two fundraising events are planned over the next two weeks.”
-- A Virginia legislative hopeful is facing calls to end his candidacy over a racist video he shared on Facebook last year. Antonio Olivo reports: “Kevin M. Wade, an audiovisual technician from Woodbridge, entered the race against Torian (D-Prince William), who is African American, last month. Last week, an image from the video containing a version of the n-word began circulating among Prince William County Democrats. ... The video is composed of scenes set to music, including a short cartoon of a man who tricked a woman into giving Halloween candy to three puppets dressed as ghosts. The caption reads: 'Ooga booga you got spooked n----.' There is also a scene with an older woman saying 'Heil Hitler' while giving a Nazi salute and another with a young man who appears to be flashing a symbol for white power. Wade, 27, said he was unaware of those images when he shared the nearly five-minute video.”
-- An ice cream truck caught fire at the Mall. Police said the fire hydrant closest to the burning truck was blocked by another food truck. (Martin Weil)
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
The president and the first lady welcomed children to the White House for the annual Easter Egg Roll:
The trailer for the movie “Knock Down the House,” which focuses on Democratic congressional candidates in 2018, was released:
Trevor Noah said the Mueller report doesn't vindicate Trump the way William Barr said it did:
ICYMI: John Oliver also tackled the Mueller report:
And gun salutes rang out in London for Queen Elizabeth's 93rd birthday: