With Joanie Greve and Mariana Alfaro

THE BIG IDEA: Vice President Pence is traveling to Michigan today to sell President Trump’s overhaul of the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement to skeptical autoworkers. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will travel to Beijing next week for continuing negotiations to extract the United States from the costliest trade war since the 1930s. As the administration shifts toward reelection mode, the president seems increasingly willing to prioritize his 2020 hopes over his hardball tactics and protectionist impulses.

Congress still needs to ratify the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, known as USMCA, and Trump’s team is working to emphasize its benefits. The deal, as agreed to last year, could transform North American auto production by mandating that 40 percent of each vehicle be produced by workers earning $16 per hour — something aimed at steering jobs away from lower-wage Mexican workers.

Pence will tour Ford’s Dearborn truck plant at 1 p.m. and then speak to auto industry leaders about the deal at Motor City Solutions at 2:30 p.m. Both of the VP’s events are in the congressional district represented by Debbie Dingell (D), who is undecided on the deal. “I will tell you: I hear more about trade than I do the Mueller report,” Dingell said in a phone interview last night.

She wants changes before she’ll commit to supporting the USMCA, but Dingell said she’ll probably get on board if the United Automobile Workers union endorses it. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has been pushing for negotiators from all three countries to return to the bargaining table to strengthen the enforcement provisions related to labor.

Dingell remains angry about the decision by General Motors over the winter to close several plants across the heartland while increasing production south of the border. “What in this deal will prevent GM from putting another Blazer plant in Mexico like they did last July? That’s not okay with me,” said Dingell, who spent 32 years as an executive at the auto giant. “How do you have a smart trade policy that levels the playing field without increasing the cost?”

-- Trump’s path to victory probably depends on another sweep of the industrial Midwest, from Michigan and Wisconsin to Pennsylvania and Ohio, and the White House seems very mindful of that. Pence has been blitzing these battlegrounds to talk about trade. This is the vice president’s ninth visit to Michigan alone since taking office, per the Detroit News. Trump held a raucous rally last month in Grand Rapids. He’s skipping the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner on Saturday to hold a rally in Wisconsin.

-- Meanwhile, Trump has directed his negotiators to hammer out a deal with China that will remove the cloud of uncertainty that hangs over the world’s two biggest economies, months after the temporary truce of sorts between Trump and Xi Jinping.

Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, says he’s “cautiously optimistic” an agreement can be inked soon. “We're not there yet, but we've made a heck of a lot of progress,” Kudlow told reporters yesterday at the National Press Club, per Reuters.

Mnuchin will be accompanied in China on Tuesday by U.S. Trade Representative Bob Lighthizer. Vice Premier Liu He, who is representing the Chinese, has agreed to lead a delegation to Washington for an additional round of negotiations starting May 8. “The subjects of next week’s discussions will cover trade issues including intellectual property, forced technology transfer, non-tariff barriers, agriculture, services, purchases, and enforcement,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement last night.

-- The S&P 500 hit an all-time high yesterday, buoyed in part by the signs of progress in the trade talks with China. “The S&P 500 has now recovered all of the ground it lost last fall, gaining 24.8% since it hit a bottom on Christmas Eve,” per the AP. “Investors are more confident in the prospects for steady, if slower, growth. And they’ve been encouraged by an increasingly hands-off Federal Reserve, which has signaled this year that it may not raise interest rates at all in 2019 after seven increases the prior two years. Traders are also feeling more optimistic about the global economy. In China, economic growth held steady at 6.4% in the first quarter of the year as increased government efforts to stem a slowdown gained traction. In the U.S., job growth rebounded in March following a surprisingly weak February.”

-- The president has often telegraphed that he’ll do whatever it takes to keep the economy juiced enough to avoid a slowdown before November 2020, including attacking his own pick for Fed chair. Earlier this month, Trump threatened to close the entire southern border and told reporters that border security “is more important to me than the USMCA.” But he backed off that threat under pressure from the business community and in the face of warnings from his own top advisers that such a move would cause economic calamity that could imperil his reelection. Now his focus is on making the deal look like a big win.

-- The Trump tariffs are best viewed as the equivalent of tax hikes on American consumers, who suffer when higher costs are passed along to them. An approaching election therefore creates stronger political incentives to roll them back.

The tariffs that Trump imposed last year on foreign washing machines, for example, have cost U.S. consumers $815,000 for every job created, according to a new study by economists at the University of Chicago and the Federal Reserve. There was the expected rise in retail prices from foreign manufacturers such as Samsung and LG. “Then domestic manufacturers followed suit, simply because they could,” Chris Ingraham explains. “All told, the research shows, U.S. consumers are spending an additional $1.5 billion a year on washers and dryers as a result of the tariffs. That’s an extra $86 for each washing machine and $92 for each dryer. And less than 10 percent of that goes to the U.S. treasury — about $82.2 million.”

-- Polling underscores the political imperative for Trump to look like he’s making headway on winding down the trade wars, which he once declared would be “easy” to win. Last summer, the Chicago Council found that 82 percent of Americans believe international trade is good for the U.S. economy and that 63 percent thought that NAFTA is good for the U.S. economy. Last spring, Pew Research Center found that 56 percent of Americans think free trade agreements between the U.S. and other countries have generally been a good thing.

-- It was overshadowed by the Mueller report, but an independent analysis released last Thursday by the International Trade Commission showed that the USMCA will have a marginally positive impact on the U.S. economy, boosting output by 0.35 percent and delivering an even smaller gain to the labor market. The 379-page report was mandated by Congress.

“The largest gains would arise from eliminating ‘uncertainty’ by preventing future barriers to cross-border e-commerce, services and investments,” David Lynch reports. “Notably, the deal would increase auto parts production and employment, key administration goals. But the narrow benefits for the auto sector would come at the expense of the broader economy, making overall U.S. production more expensive, reducing exports, and denting wages and employment, the report said. The administration sought to preempt the report, releasing an assessment that concluded the deal would create 76,000 auto jobs over the next five years and trigger $34 billion in new auto plant investments and $23 billion in added auto parts purchases.”

-- For her part, Nancy Pelosi continues pressing the White House to reopen negotiations to add worker protections before she’ll bring the measure up for a vote on the House floor. She said she also won’t take up the deal until Mexico changes its labor laws. “Exploiting workers in Mexico is not good for workers in the United States,” the speaker said earlier this month. “No enforcement, no treaty,” she added.

Dingell said she agrees with Pelosi’s demands. “That’s step one for everybody,” she said.

-- This legislative process could drag on for several more months, as top congressional Republicans have their own concerns. They also want Trump to remove tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada and Mexico before they vote on the deal.

-- This is all playing out against the backdrop of presidential politics and a Democratic primary that’s now in full swing: Bernie Sanders used a Michigan foray the weekend before last to emphasize his opposition to the USMCA. The Vermont senator won a shocking upset over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Democratic primary in Michigan, a harbinger of her vulnerability there in the general election. Now he’s trying to appeal to disaffected Trump voters in places like Macomb County who had voted for Barack Obama in 2012 and 2008. Sanders sees the president’s failure to deliver on his big promises vis-à-vis trade deals and manufacturing jobs as a lever to do so.

Sanders said Trump should “go back to the drawing board” on reworking NAFTA. “Do not send it to Congress unless it includes strong and swift enforcement mechanisms to raise the wages of workers and stop corporations from outsourcing American jobs to Mexico,” he said at a rally.

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-- The U.S. Coast Guard officer accused of planning a widespread terrorist attack on politicians and media personalities in D.C. was driven by his “views on race,” prosecutors allege in a new filing. Lynh Bui reports: Lt. Christopher P. Hasson, 49, “conducted Internet searches for the best gun to kill black people and the home addresses of two Supreme Court justices before going to firearms sales websites. [The filing doesn't identify which justices.] ... Hasson is set to appear in federal court in Greenbelt, Md., on Thursday for a review of his detention status. ... Hasson searched for 'white homeland,' 'when are whites going to wake up,' and 'please god let there be a race war' in 2017. ... His federal public defender has argued that the government has no proof Hasson intended to launch an attack and that it would be inappropriate to keep him in jail on drug and weapons charges.”

-- Eight pedestrians were injured in Sunnyvale, Calif., after a speeding driver may have deliberately plowed into a crowd, police said. The driver, identified as an adult male, is in custody. All eight people, who were walking through a crosswalk or standing nearby, were transported to hospitals, Capt. Jim Choi of the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety told Allyson Chiu. The youngest victim is 13 years old. Police have not offered updates on their conditions. Based on a preliminary investigation, Choi said, “it looks like this may have been an intentional act by the driver.”


  1. Navy SEALs said they saw their platoon chief commit shocking acts in Iraq and spoke up about it to their commander. But instead of launching an investigation, the commander and a senior aide warned the SEALs that reporting their chief could cost them and others their careers. (New York Times)

  2. Trump’s tax cut was a disaster for some Gold Star families who’ve had to spend thousands more on their taxes. The increase was due to a change to the “kiddie tax,” which previously allowed survivor benefits allocated to the children of fallen service members to be taxed at the parent’s rate. They are now treated the same as a trust or estate. (Task & Purpose)

  3. The U.S. charged an American engineer and a Chinese businessman with economic espionage and conspiring to steal sophisticated turbine designs for the government of China and their own business interests. The two men are accused of stealing millions of dollars’ worth of General Electric secrets. (Ellen Nakashima)

  4. Federal prosecutors announced the first charges against a major drug distributor in connection to the opioid epidemic. Rochester Drug Cooperative and two of its former executives were charged with three crimes, including conspiracy to distribute controlled narcotics for nonmedical reasons. The company agreed to pay a $20 million fine to avoid prosecution, while the two men are facing a mandatory 10-year sentence. (Lenny Bernstein)
  5. A NASA subcontractor will pay a $46 million fine after admitting to falsifying test results in aluminum manufacturing for nearly 20 years. NASA blamed the aluminum parts for two failed rocket launches, something the company disputes. (Rachel Weiner)

  6. A researcher found that nearly 8,000 Boy Scout leaders have been accused of sexual abuse since 1944. The Scouts said every account of suspected abuse was reported to law enforcement agencies. (New York Times)

  7. Former Tampa police chief Jane Castor won the city’s mayoral election. She prevailed by a large margin against retired banker David Straz and will become the first openly gay woman to lead a major Southeastern city. (Tampa Bay Times)

  8. A lobbyist in Missouri launched a campaign to change Title IX for every campus in the state after his son was expelled from college through the school’s Title IX process. Richard McIntosh said the federal law, which bars sexual discrimination in education and mandates that schools police sexual violence, is unfair to the accused. (Kansas City Star)

  9. A sheriff in Alabama was placed on leave after he wrote an anti-LGBTQ post mocking a teen who took his own life after being bullied for his sexuality. The sheriff’s post began with a mockery of the LGBTQ label, saying the letters stand for “Liberty Guns Bible Trump BBQ.” (Kyle Swenson 

  10. A former CBS executive accused the network of having a “white problem.” In a letter published by Variety, Whitney Davis claimed the company had allowed a workplace culture “fraught with systemic racism, discrimination and sexual harassment” to flourish. She recounted several incidents of being denied opportunities for advancement and hearing co-workers make racist comments or jokes.

  11. “Jeopardy!” contestant James Holzhauer has racked up more than $1 million in winnings, second only to Ken Jennings’s 74-game total. The professional sports gambler from Las Vegas has scrambled the traditional playing of the decades-old game by fearlessly making huge bets and hunting for the Daily Double questions. (Emily Yahr)


-- In an interview with The Washington Post last night, Trump said he’s opposed to current and former White House staffers providing testimony to congressional panels in the wake of the Mueller report. Robert Costa, Tom Hamburger, Josh Dawsey and Rosalind S. Helderman report: “Trump said that complying with congressional requests was unnecessary after the White House cooperated with [special counsel Bob Mueller]. … ‘There is no reason to go any further, and especially in Congress where it’s very partisan — obviously very partisan,’ Trump said. … White House lawyers plan to tell attorneys for administration witnesses called by the House that they will be asserting executive privilege over their testimony … In his interview with The Post, Trump maintained that the White House Counsel’s Office has not ‘made a final, final decision’ about whether it will formally assert executive privilege and try to block congressional testimony. But he said he opposes cooperation with House Democrats, who he claimed are trying to score political points against him.”

-- The White House plans to vigorously fight a subpoena issued by the House Judiciary Committee for Don McGahn to testify. Dawsey, Costa and Helderman report: “McGahn’s lawyer, William Burck, began discussions with the Judiciary Committee about his potential testimony after the panel issued a subpoena Monday. … Public testimony from McGahn could create a spectacle that would parallel the June 1973 testimony of President Richard Nixon’s former White House counsel, John Dean, whose live televised appearance before a Senate committee painted a vivid portrait for the country of the White House coverup of the Watergate burglary. People close to McGahn, who were not authorized to speak publicly, said McGahn is ‘following the process’ and working with the White House on his next steps.”

-- The House Oversight Committee moved to hold former White House personnel security director Carl Kline in contempt of Congress after he failed to appear at a hearing to probe alleged lapses in security clearance procedures. (Hamburger)

-- In a temporary victory for Trump, the Oversight Committee agreed to postpone its deadline for a subpoena of Trump’s financial records until after a court rules on a lawsuit filed by the president against his own accounting firm and the panel’s chairman. A hearing has been set for May 14, according to Tuesday’s court filing. (Felicia Sonmez)

-- Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin missed a deadline to provide Trump’s tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee, saying he would make a final decision on whether to turn in the reports by May 6. Damian Paletta and Erica Werner report: “In a 10-page letter to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.), Mnuchin said the Democrats’ request for Trump’s tax returns raised constitutional and privacy issues that needed to be resolved by the Justice Department before he could make a decision on how to proceed. … House Democrats must now decide how forcefully to respond. They could wait until May 6 or move more aggressively and subpoena the records under a 1924 law that appears to give them access to virtually any tax return. Several House Democrats have accused the White House of stalling and implored their colleagues to ratchet up pressure.”  

-- Like his boss, the vice president has also refused to release his tax returns since assuming office. The Wall Street Journal’s Richard Rubin reports: “It is just as much of a break from his predecessors: Going back to Walter Mondale in the 1970s, all have disclosed their returns. Mr. Pence released 10 years of returns through 2015 during the presidential campaign. Mr. Pence’s office has said that he is following Mr. Trump’s lead by refusing to release returns until audits are finished and has repeatedly declined to answer questions about the status of the audits. A spokeswoman said Monday Mr. Pence plans to release all tax returns before the 2020 election, provided they are no longer under audit.”

-- A former Trump transition staffer and a law professor at George Mason University, J.W. Verret, called for the president to be impeached. He writes in the Atlantic: “Politics is a team sport, and if you actively work within a political party, there is some expectation that you will follow orders and rally behind the leader, even when you disagree. There is a point, though, at which that expectation turns from a mix of loyalty and pragmatism into something more sinister, a blind devotion that serves to enable criminal conduct. The Mueller report was that tipping point for me, and it should be for Republican and independent voters, and for Republicans in Congress.”

-- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) continued pushing back on liberal clamoring for impeachment, even as more of her members joined the call to begin proceedings. Rachael Bade reports: “Asked about impeachment during a Tuesday interview for the Time 100 Summit in New York, Pelosi said that ‘if the … fact-finding takes us there, we have no choice. But we’re not there yet.’”

-- Attorney General William Barr received a waiver to participate in the investigation of a Malaysian development company under investigation by the FBI and the Justice Department on allegations of money laundering. The case is linked to an inquiry into the president’s reelection effort. Politico’s Natasha Bertrand reports: “The waiver could also give Barr a window into an investigation in the Eastern District of New York that involves the Trump Victory committee, a political action committee dedicated to re-electing Trump in 2020.”

-- Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, was transferred to a federal prison in Pennsylvania. Manafort is expected to serve his seven-and-a-half-year sentence at a facility outside Scranton. (NBC News)


-- Before she was ousted from the Department of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen tried to prepare the administration for new and different Russian forms of interference in the 2020 election. But Trump’s chief of staff directed her not to mention it to the president. The New York Times’s Eric Schmitt, David E. Sanger and Maggie Haberman report: “Officials said she had become increasingly concerned about Russia’s continued activity in the United States during and after the 2018 midterm elections … But in a meeting this year, Mick Mulvaney, the White House chief of staff, made it clear that Mr. Trump still equated any public discussion of malign Russian election activity with questions about the legitimacy of his victory. … As a result, the issue did not gain the urgency or widespread attention that a president can command. And it meant that many Americans remain unaware of the latest versions of Russian interference.”

-- Kim Jong Un arrived in Russia overnight for his first-ever summit with Vladimir Putin, a deliberately provocative act meant to send a message to Washington that North Korea can work with other authoritarian regimes to erode sanctions. Amie Ferris-Rotman reports: “‘I’ve heard so many good things about your country and have long dreamed of visiting,’ said Kim, according to Interfax news agency. ‘I’ve led my country for already seven years, and have only now been able to visit Russia.’ … The Kremlin has said no major agreements will be signed nor joint statements planned during Kim’s meeting with Putin, which is expected to take place behind closed doors. … Kim is eager to save face after the breakdown in talks on his country’s nuclear program with Trump. For Putin, the summit will offer him another chance to intervene in high-stakes nuclear talks and flex Russia’s muscles on the global stage, where Moscow is increasing its diplomatic clout.”

-- Jared Kushner yesterday downplayed Russia’s role in getting his father-in-law elected, saying a few Facebook ads didn’t hurt democracy as much as the Mueller probe did. But DOJ and the intelligence community have a starkly different view, as highlighted in a new court filing. Former FBI counterintelligence assistant director Robert Anderson explained how Maria Butina's overtures to gun rights groups like the NRA tie in with broader Russian espionage operations. Politico's Natasha Bertrand reports: The DOJ is arguing “that it doesn’t take a master spy to do serious harm. … Allowing Russia to ‘bypass formal channels of diplomacy, win concessions, and exert influence within the United States’ by entertaining backchannel lines of communication could result in ‘commensurate harm to the United States … Russia’s efforts targeting the United States take a myriad of forms — it is, in essence, a numbers game,’ Anderson wrote. ‘Not every intelligence campaign needs to be successful for Russia to have achieved its goals.’”


-- Authorities have identified eight of the suicide bombers behind the Easter attacks. Joanna Slater and Amantha Perera report: “The group included two brothers and a woman, who blew herself up on Sunday when police closed in on a house in the capital, Colombo. Ruwan Wijewardene, the state minister for defense, told reporters that the bombers used two safe houses in Colombo and Negombo. They came from middle-class and upper-class backgrounds, he said, and some were ‘quite well-educated people.’ One of them had studied in Britain and Australia. Sixty people have been arrested in connection with the attacks on churches and hotels, including Mohamed Ibrahim, a wealthy businessman who imported spices and owned the home in Colombo’s Dematagoda neighborhood where the police conducted a raid on Sunday.”

-- President Maithripala Sirisena ordered two of Sri Lanka’s top national security officials — its police chief and its defense secretary — to step down as public outcry grows over the government’s handling of advance intelligence related to the attack. 

-- The Easter attacks across Sri Lanka demonstrated the resilience of the Islamic State despite recent territorial losses. Shane Harris, Ellen Nakashima, Souad Mekhennet and Slater report: “Even a landless Islamic State is influential, as a facilitator of attacks and an inspiration for its followers, including the ones who blew themselves up in churches and hotels Easter morning, killing at least 359 people, terrorism experts said. On Tuesday, video emerged of the suspected ringleader of the attacks and seven followers, their faces obscured by scarves, swearing allegiance to the Islamic State and its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The Islamic State also issued a formal communique asserting responsibility for the attacks, which it said targeted Christians and ‘coalition countries.’ … State Minister of Defense Ruwan Wijewardene told Parliament that the bombings were carried out in retaliation for shootings that claimed 50 lives at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, by an avowed white supremacist. But others were skeptical of that connection.”

-- The bombings come at a time of “terrorism fatigue” in the United States, and it is time to change that, writes columnist David Ignatius: “What’s the alternative? Unfortunately, it’s the slow and unglamorous work of preventing weak states from collapsing to the point that they’re terrorism havens. It’s about building governance and economic development, rather than night raids by Special Operations forces. … Nations, like individual human beings, often seem condemned to make the same mistakes over and over. That’s certainly true with countering terrorism. Policymakers in the United States and allied countries understand intellectually that a safe and stable world requires reasonable governance, a public belief that some sort of rough justice prevails and enough jobs that adolescent men aren’t tempted to join terrorist groups.”

-- Sri Lanka’s capital of Colombo is in mourning. Slater and Terrence McCoy report: “The most horrific of days in recent Sri Lankan memory began with a prayer. It was Easter morning, and St. Anthony’s Shrine — the largest Catholic congregation in a city where Christianity is a small but vibrant minority faith — was bursting with congregants, nearly 1,000 people in all. … Then the clock hit 8:45. An explosion ripped through the church. And a newly retraumatized country came into being — rattled by one of the worst terrorist attacks since Sept. 11, 2001 ... and afraid of not only more possible strikes but also the potential for religious violence in a nation still haunted by a decades-long civil war and a history of suicide bombs.”

-- “How terror detonated with precision across Sri Lanka,” by Joe Fox, McCoy, Leslie Shapiro and Slater: “Twenty-five miles north of Colombo, in the Catholic-majority town of Negombo, is St. Sebastian’s Church. … Toward the end of Mass, at about 9 a.m., a ‘young and innocent-looking man’ came into the church, wearing a backpack, Dilip Fernando told Agence France-Presse. ‘He touched my granddaughter’s head on the way past. It was the bomber.’”

-- Alex Arrow, who lost his son Kieran in the attack, remembered the 11-year-old as a successful student who dreamed of becoming a neuroscientist so he could discover a cure to Alzheimer’s. Kieran Shafritz de Zoysa was on leave from Washington’s Sidwell Friends School and was expected to return for sixth grade in the fall. “I just want the world to know what these particular terrorists took from the world,” Arrow said. “In addition to being a neuroscientist, which we knew he was going to be, he was at the top of his class at Sidwell. And at his school in Sri Lanka, he had an A double star average and was the only one in his school that had that. He was very determined, and he was going to achieve his goals.” (Joe Heim)


-- MBS is NOT a reformer, cont.: “Saudi Arabia said Tuesday it had executed 37 people convicted of terrorism-related offenses, bringing the number of executions there in the first four months of the year to 105, according to the Saudi interior ministry and Reprieve, a human rights group that tracks the use of the death penalty in the kingdom,” Kareem Fahim reports. “It was the largest mass execution in Saudi Arabia since early 2016, when 47 people were put to death, also on terror-related charges. The vast majority of those executed on Tuesday were members of Saudi Arabia’s Shiite Muslim minority, according to Shiite activists. Those put to death included at least three people who were minors at the time of their alleged crimes and confessed to prosecutors’ charges under torture, according to Reprieve, which said it provided assistance to five of the people executed. Saudi Arabia generally beheads prisoners condemned to death, in ceremonies performed by executioners using a sword — a punishment in line with the kingdom’s strict interpretation of Islamic law.

Mujtabaa al-Sweikat, one of the people executed on Tuesday, was arrested at an airport in Saudi Arabia’s eastern province in December 2012 as he was preparing to leave the country for a college visit to Western Michigan University, the group said. He was 17 at the time. He was charged with disobeying the Saudi monarch, attacking security forces and other offenses, according to Reprieve. The group said he was tortured in prison, denied access to a lawyer during interrogations and forced to sign a confession admitting prosecutor’s charges, including attending protests.” 

-- The art of sucking up: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he thought a community in the Golan Heights should be named after Trump. “All Israelis were deeply moved when President Trump made his historic decision to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights,” Netanyahu said in a newly released video. “Therefore, after the Passover holiday I intend to bring to the government a resolution calling for a new community on the Golan Heights, named after President Donald J. Trump.” (Loveday Morris)

-- Trump is considering revoking sanctions waivers that have allowed some countries to collaborate with Iran’s civil nuclear projects. CNN’s Jeremy Diamond and Zachary Cohen report: “Trump administration officials have held several meetings in recent weeks to discuss eliminating some or all of the nuclear sanctions waivers, but a decision has not yet been reached ... National security adviser John Bolton, a longtime Iran hawk, has been among those pushing for the US to take this next step and eliminate the waivers, the sources said. The idea has received pushback from some within the administration including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.”

-- Trump will make his first official state visit to Britain in early June. Anne Gearan and John Wagner: “The invitation is an all-the-trappings diplomatic plum. Queen Elizabeth II, on the throne since 1952, has hosted only two other U.S. presidents for these ceremonial visits — George W. Bush and Barack Obama. This trip follows what was billed as a ‘working visit’ to Britain last July that featured a giant balloon depicting Trump as a screaming baby in a diaper hovering above tens of thousands of protesters in London. … The state visit has been repeatedly put on hold because of the prolonged British divorce from the European Union that has preoccupied May, and by concern among advisers to both leaders about the chilly reception Trump would receive. … ‘I think there will be protests,’ London Mayor Sadiq Khan told the BBC on Tuesday. ‘I mean, it doesn’t take a crystal ball for people to predict there will be protests.’”

-- A Hong Kong court imprisoned the leaders of the 2014 “Umbrella movement,” five years after hundreds of thousands of residents protested the Chinese Communist Party. Gerry Shih reports: “A court sentenced two professors who founded the movement, Benny Tai and Chan Kin-man, to 16 months imprisonment on public nuisance charges. A third founder, the 75-year old pastor Chu Yiu-ming, also received 16-months but will not serve time in jail due to his age and contributions to society, the court said. … Scores of supporters holding yellow umbrellas appeared outside the court on Wednesday chanting their demands for universal suffrage.”


-- The Supreme Court’s five Republican-appointed justices appear likely to let Trump add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, despite considerable evidence the question will lead to an undercount of millions of people. Robert Barnes and Mark Berman report: “The court’s ideological divide was on full display, and its ruling, which is likely to come in June, could be its most important of the term. ... Every lower-court judge to consider the issue found that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross violated federal law and regulations in attempting to include the question on the census. The lower-court judges starkly rebutted Ross’s claim that the information was requested by the Justice Department to enforce the Voting Rights Act, which protects minorities, and they noted his consultations with hard-line immigration advocates in the White House beforehand. The Supreme Court’s liberal justices were just as skeptical. 'You can’t read this record without sensing that this — this need is a contrived one,' said Justice Elena Kagan.”

-- Border Patrol agents found a crying 3-year-old left behind in a cornfield with his name and phone number written on his shoes. Antonia Noori Farzan reports: Agents “believe the toddler had been traveling with a larger group of migrants who ran away when they spotted Border Patrol agents approaching, leaving him alone in the field. … Rodolfo Karisch, the chief Border Patrol agent in the Rio Grande Valley, told NBC News that he believed the toddler, who was found near Brownsville, Tex., had been abandoned by smugglers. Agents took the boy to a nearby border station and gave him movies to watch while they tried to contact his parents.” They haven't been able to reach them.

-- The House asked a federal judge to block Trump’s plan to build a wall using Defense Department funds. In its 56-page motion, the House accuses Trump of trying to work around the Constitution by ignoring Congress’s power of the purse. (Politico)

-- Kushner claimed that Trump will review a new immigration plan put together by his top advisers “soon.” Reuters’s Steve Holland and Roberta Rampton report: “The plan will cover stopping illegal immigration — one of Trump’s signature campaign issues — and will also include proposals for a merit-based immigration system, a guest worker program for agriculture and seasonal work, and measures for improving trade flow, Kushner said. … ‘He’ll make some changes, likely, and then he’ll decide what he wants to do with it,’ Kushner said.”


-- Stephen Moore, Trump’s pick to join the Federal Reserve's board, said his opponents are “pulling a Kavanaugh against” him amid a stream of damaging revelations. The latest: He penned columns in the 2000s in which he made derogatory statements about women and made a joking reference to AIDS. Felicia Sonmez reports: “Moore is also coming under scrutiny for saying in 2016 that it would be a ‘betrayal’ for Trump to pick former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (R) to be secretary of state. Romney now represents Utah in the Senate, which would have to approve Moore’s nomination if he is to be confirmed to the position. … Moore [said] in an email Monday that he does not stand by any of the comments and that the article was a ‘spoof,’ although he did not cite a particular column or explain a later piece in which he defended his remarks.”

-- Six Trump Interior appointees are under investigation by the department's inspector general on allegations of violating federal ethics rules by engaging with former employers or clients while on department-related business. Juliet Eilperin and Dino Grandoni report: “The new inquiry, which the office confirmed in an April 18 letter to the nonprofit Campaign Legal Center, is looking into senior Interior officials, including Assistant Secretary for Insular and International Affairs Doug Domenech, White House liaison Lori Mashburn, three top staffers at the Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs, and the department’s former energy policy adviser. The Campaign Legal Center detailed the officials’ actions in a Feb. 20 letter to the inspector general’s office, suggesting a probe is warranted.”

-- The government-controlled housing companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac appear to have found a way around a congressionally mandated pay cap, allowing them to pay some executives more than $3 million. Renae Merle reports: “Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac created a new job — president — transferring some of the work traditionally done by the CEOs to the new positions, according to government investigators. The presidents will be paid more than $3 million each. That arrangement has been challenged by federal investigators and lawmakers. The companies’ new government regulator, Mark Calabria, said he is ‘reviewing’ the matter. … The Treasury Department was alerted to the new plan late last year but did not raise significant concerns.”

-- A bipartisan group of senators said the Trump administration’s proposed hiring requirement to force federal job applicants to disclose whether they went through a criminal diversion program, allowing them to avoid prison, would make it harder for former offenders to find work. Felicia Sonmez and Lisa Rein report: “In a letter to Office of Personnel Management acting director Margaret Weichert, Sens. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) wrote that the proposed change would ‘no doubt exclude deserving applicants from valued federal employment opportunities’ and ‘is flatly at odds’ with the goals of the First Step Act, which Trump signed into law last year.”

2020 WATCH:

-- Joe Biden is expected to announce his presidential campaign tomorrow in a video, followed by a Monday trip to a Pittsburgh union hall. Matt Viser reports: “One of the first events for the campaign will be a high-dollar fundraiser Thursday night, sponsored by a group of supporters including Comcast senior executive vice president David L. Cohen. Biden over the next week or so is expected to travel to Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. Biden will enter the race in an unfamiliar position, generally at the top of polls nationally and in early states, following campaigns in 1988 and 2008 that ended in failure. … Biden is planning to make the case that he is best positioned to win back key blue-collar swing voters in states that Trump carried in 2016. His advisers and supporters have watched with dismay as the Democratic primary discussion has been dominated by liberal positions on questions such as whether to launch impeachment hearings and, separately, debates over reparations. They said Biden is planning to introduce a message that is far more centrist and focused on the economy.”

-- Biden’s entry into the race could complicate Kamala Harris’s 2020 strategy, which rests on winning South Carolina. Politico’s Christopher Cadelago reports: “The pivotal early primary state is the linchpin of Harris' strategy to capture the Democratic nomination, yet the former vice president’s experience, pragmatism and close association with [Obama] have given him a significant advantage here — even more so than in other states, according to more than two dozen interviews with state operatives and elected leaders, as well as public and private polling.”

-- Bernie Sanders is under fire for his comments at a CNN town hall on Sunday night that everyone in prison, including violent offenders and the Boston Marathon bomber, should be allowed to vote. Cleve R. Wootson Jr. reports: “Support has been growing nationally for re-enfranchising felons after they are released, and several states have taken steps in that direction. But the notion of voting rights for those still in prison has already opened up Sanders and other Democratic candidates to attacks from Republicans painting them as soft on criminals. … Sanders’s comments, and the reaction to them, reflect Democratic candidates’ tricky path ahead. They’re striving to ignite support among a liberal, unusually energized Democratic primary electorate — while knowing that in a general election they’ll face a far more conservative voting population, prodded by a GOP eager to paint Democrats as extreme.”

-- Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said he is seriously considering a primary challenge against Trump and intends to visit 16 states in the next few months as he mulls the possibility. Erin Cox reports from Manchester, N.H.: “Speaking to reporters after an appearance at Politics & Eggs, a testing ground for candidates, Hogan criticized other Republicans for staying silent in the wake of [Mueller’s] report, which he called ‘very disturbing’ and ‘unsavory.’ ‘There’s no profiles in courage here,’ Hogan said. … Hogan said he has been approached ‘by a lot of people and a growing number of people’ about getting into the race. He plans to visit 16 states in the next few months — including an event in Utah in June at the invitation of former House Speaker Paul D. Ryan and U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah). … Hogan previously had said ‘it makes no sense’ to challenge Trump unless he is considerably weakened. But on Tuesday he said he is willing to do so if he believes a contested primary would benefit the Republican Party, even if he does not see a way to win.”

-- A longtime Republican legislator in Iowa announced he is leaving the GOP because of dissatisfaction with the party’s direction under Trump. The Des Moines Register’s Robin Opsahl and Barbara Rodriguez report: “Rep. Andy McKean, an Anamosa lawmaker, announced Tuesday that he plans to register as a Democrat and vote with the minority caucus. ‘With the 2020 presidential election looming on the horizon, I feel, as a Republican, that I need to be able to support the standard bearer of our party,’ McKean said during a news conference at the Capitol. ‘Unfortunately, that's something I'm unable to do.’ McKean said Trump is just one part of a bigger trend of partisanship in the country, which made him feel out of place in the Republican caucus. McKean said when he joined the Legislature 40 years ago, there were many moderates in the Republican Party. But now, according to him, the ranks have thinned.”

-- Trump 2020 advisers are descending on Pennsylvania to meet with the state’s GOP officials amid growing alarm over the president’s prospects in the battleground state. The meeting is the first of what the aides say will be a series of visits to key states. (Politico)

-- Newly released census data showed that last year’s spike in voter turnout was particularly high among young adults. From Scott Clement and Ted Mellnik: “The Census found that 36 percent of citizens ages 18-29 reported voting in last year’s midterm elections, jumping 16 percentage points since 2014 (when turnout was 20 percent) and easily surpassing any midterm election since the 1980s. Turnout also increased sharply among adults ages 30-44, rising from 36 percent in 2014 to 49 percent in 2018. While turnout among younger adults still lags that of their elders, last year’s election marked a clear break from the past two decades of anemic turnout among the youngest citizens.”

-- Fox News announced it would host a town hall with Pete Buttigieg. The Indiana mayor will become the third Democratic presidential candidate to visit the network, after Bernie Sanders and Amy Klobuchar. The May 19 event will be held in Claremont, N.H., and moderated by “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace. (Politico)

-- Former Democratic congressional candidate MJ Hegar announced that she will challenge Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) next year. Despite her impressive fundraising numbers, Hegar lost her race against incumbent Rep. John Carter (R-Tex.) last year by less than 3 points, an unexpectedly close result given the district’s traditionally Republican leanings. Hegar referenced the race in her campaign launch video, which also attempted to tie Cornyn to Mitch McConnell. In response to the announcement and ad, Cornyn’s campaign dismissed Hegar as “Chuck Schumer’s handpicked candidate.” “Texans rejected her radical views once and they will again,” the statement added. (John Wagner)

-- You know the Democratic resistance. Now meet the Republican one. The New York Times’s Mark Leibovich writes: “While there appeared to be some semblance of an opposition to Trump inside the G.O.P. in 2016 even after he won the party nomination, the dissidents in Republican officialdom steadily dropped off as he settled into the White House. … The die-hard remnant population of Never Trumpers comes most visibly from the class of Republican consultants, conservative media personalities and a few G.O.P. officeholders safely removed from the considerations of re-election campaigns. The best-known Never Trumpers have seen their profiles soar in disproportion to their actual influence among Republicans. Still, ‘there is merit in maintaining a rebel army,’ the Republican strategist Rick Wilson told me. ‘There is a moral case to be made for standing up for nonauthoritarian conservatism.’”


-- Trump ordered all administration officials to join him in boycotting the White House Correspondents' Association dinner on Saturday night. CNN’s Jake Tapper, Brian Stelter and Allie Malloy report: “The order was issued Tuesday morning by White House Cabinet Secretary Bill McGinley ... An administration official adds that the order came from Trump personally, though staffers have been trying to talk him out of it. … The dinner will still take place, but the White House boycott is another example of a tradition coming to an end -- or at least being put on pause. There won't be a comedian, either. Last November, the White House Correspondents' Association decided to invite author Ron Chernow as the featured speaker instead. The change was a recognition that the dinner's meaning has changed amid constant attacks on the media and increasing political polarization.”

-- “For years, the White House Correspondents’ Association annual dinner was an embarrassment,” columnist Margaret Sullivan writes. “It involved journalists cozying up to the government officials they are supposed to treat with a sense of adversarial independence, all while trying to get selfies with the likes of Helen Mirren, Jeff Goldblum and Scarlett Johansson. … Trump has changed all that. By refusing to attend the dinner himself and by making the government-press relationship truly adversarial — ‘enemy of the people,’ etc. — he’s sandblasted the high gloss off the party. What’s left is a high-minded journalism awards dinner, which is what the organizers, all along, defended it as.”

-- But even as Trump has raged against media outlets, he has heaped praise upon White House photographers. The president participated in a reception yesterday to celebrate the winners of the White House News Photographers Association’s annual awards, his third consecutive year attending the event. David Nakamura reports: Trump “was hobnobbing in the Oval Office with a group of White House news photographers, signing their photos of him and joking that they should hold a fundraiser at his golf course. Trump kept some of the prints and returned others with such praise as ‘Fantastic Job!’ and ‘Amazing Talent!’ in his distinctive handwriting. He chatted with Doug Mills, the New York Times’s lead White House photographer. … Trump has been so taken with pictures of himself published in newspapers that aides have requested high-quality prints on his behalf, and the president has retweeted images from photojournalists on social media.”


-- The hacking of Nest cameras has showcased how tech companies balance user convenience against security risks. The security cameras are easy targets for hackers, which has led to some high-profile incidents of virtual home invasion. One parent complained that hackers played pornography through the intercom of her toddler’s baby monitor. But Nest has been hesitant to increase security measures that would make the cameras less user-friendly. (Reed Albergotti)

-- During a closed-door meeting with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Trump accused the platform of tampering with his follower count. Tony Romm reports: “The meeting came as Trump continues to attack the tech industry, threatening to regulate Facebook, Google and Twitter out of concern that they censor conservatives online — an allegation those companies fiercely deny. … Trump said he had heard from fellow conservatives who had lost followers for unclear reasons as well. But Twitter long has explained that follower figures fluctuate as the company takes action to remove fraudulent spam accounts. In the meeting, Dorsey stressed that point, noting even he had lost followers as part of Twitter’s work to enforce its policies.”

-- Google received its first Federal Aviation Administration approval to operate a fleet of drones that will regularly deliver consumer goods. The Wall Street Journal’s Andy Pasztor reports: The move “could jump-start various companies’ commercial drone services nationwide. … Industry officials in the past have said it was likely to take until 2020 or 2021 for the FAA to implement wide-ranging drone rules establishing a framework for package deliveries.”

-- Ireland is the designated lead regulator of data privacy guidelines that Europe imposed last year. But instead of enforcing any action against big tech, Ireland is catering to it. Politico’s Nicholas Vinocur reports: “Despite its vows to beef up its threadbare regulatory apparatus, Ireland has a long history of catering to the very companies it is supposed to oversee, having wooed top Silicon Valley firms to the Emerald Isle with promises of low taxes, open access to top officials, and help securing funds to build glittering new headquarters. … Ireland’s failure to safeguard huge stores of personal information looms larger now that the country is the primary regulator responsible for protecting the health information, email addresses, financial records, relationship status, search histories and friend lists for hundreds of millions of Americans, Europeans and other users around the globe.”

-- After the release of Mueller’s report, more than 5,000 pro-Trump Twitter bots pushed the claim that the investigation was a “Russiagate hoax.” NBC News’s Ben Collins reports: “These bots, however, did not appear to come from Russia. Instead, the bots had ties to a social media operation that previously pushed messages backing the government of Saudi Arabia and were connected to a person who claimed to be a private social media consultant, according to internet domain and account registration records. The bots, which were created last November and December, were pulled down by Twitter on Sunday night for breaking the social network’s rules against ‘manipulation,’ the company said.”


A New York Times columnist reacted to Trump's latest attacks on the newspaper:

Bernie took heat for saying that inmates should be allowed to vote. Both of the president's sons weighed in:

From the House Republican Conference chair:

A CNN reporter tweeted a photo from a Sanders event in Boston:

A Post reporter shared this moment from the campaign trail:

Two spouses of Democratic presidential candidates bumped into each other:

A University of Florida professor highlighted an interesting voting trend from 2018:

And conservative commentator Bill Kristol shared this airport exchange:


-- New Yorker, "The politicians who love 'Ulysses,'" by Kevin Dettmar: "In the current political environment, name-checking the writing of James Joyce may not seem like the canniest move. It’s a dog whistle, meant to appeal to refined impulses, to élite rather than populist sympathies. How shall we put it? Joyce is a snob whistle. 'Ulysses' in particular, and Joyce more broadly, have long served this function in American culture." 

-- Mother Jones, "I'm an environmental journalist and I hate Earth Day," by Rebecca Leber: "Clearly one day of the year will never sufficiently heighten awareness of the world’s problems. But Earth Day is especially cynical in its exploitation by industries like fashion and tech that for the other 364 days of the year contribute to excessive overconsumption and human rights abuses. Earth Day provides a fine opportunity to showcase how their generally negligible corporate gestures demonstrate their commitment to 'going green.' This year, Ikea pointed me to its 'energy-saving' products like a drying rack; Colgate promoted its Michael Phelps–endorsed initiative that asks Americans to turn off the faucet while they brush; Silicon Valley sneaker darling Allbirds has limited-edition colors with proceeds going toward the National Audubon Society." 

-- New York Times, "Michael Jackson Musical Creators: ‘We’re Not Judge and Jury,'" by Michael Paulson: "A Broadway-bound Michael Jackson musical is already stirring controversy, and it hasn’t even been seen yet. Last week, the show’s book writer, Lynn Nottage, stepped into a minefield when she gave an interview to the Daily Mail in which she suggested that she found the two men who detailed abuse allegations against Jackson in a new documentary to be truthful. Jackson’s most passionate defenders — a group known for its ardency — went to war, immediately demanding that Ms. Nottage, a two-time Pulitzer winner and one of America’s most respected dramatists, be fired. This was not the first time the documentary, “Leaving Neverland,” has cast a shadow over the embryonic musical, 'Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough.'"


“Steve King says he relates to what Christ 'went through for us,’” from the Sioux City Journal: “Referencing the recent Easter season, Iowa 4th District Rep. Steve King said Tuesday the criticism he's faced from his ‘accusers’ in the U.S. House has given him ‘better insight into what (Christ) went through for us.’ ‘For all that I've been through -- and it seems even strange for me to say it -- but I am at a certain peace, and it is because of a lot of prayers for me,’ King told about 30 people at a town hall meeting in Cherokee. ‘And, when I have to step down to the floor of the House of Representatives, and look up at those 400-and-some accusers, you know we just passed through Easter and Christ's passion, and I have better insight into what He went through for us partly because of that experience.’”



“Hillary Clinton: Anyone other than Trump would have been indicted for obstruction,” from Fox News: “Hillary Clinton said Tuesday she believes [Trump] would have been indicted in [Mueller’s] probe if he weren't president, though stopped short of calling for his impeachment. Clinton, the Democratic nominee for president in 2016, argued during a Q&A session in New York that Mueller’s report ‘could not be clearer’ in making the case Trump tried to obstruct the Russia investigation – even though Mueller did not come to an explicit conclusion on that question. … Clinton, who was defeated by Trump in the election, said it’s too early to call for Trump’s impeachment. She said she supports Congress investigating Mueller’s findings ‘based on evidence’ and without a ‘preordained conclusion.’”



Trump and the first lady will attend the Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit in Atlanta. 

Pence takes his day trip to Michigan.


“You look at, you know, what Russia did, buying some Facebook ads, to try to sow dissent … and it’s a terrible thing, but I think the investigations and all the speculation that happened for the past two years has had a much harsher impact on democracy than a couple Facebook ads.” — Jared Kushner commenting publicly for the first time on the Mueller report, which found that the Kremlin interfered in the 2016 election “in sweeping and systematic fashion.” (John Wagner)



-- It’s another beautiful day outside, but the chances of rain increase tomorrow and Friday. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Mighty fine weather continues today, just a little cooler than yesterday with a bit of a breeze. Shower chances return tomorrow, with pockets of heavier rain possible Friday, as we remain on the mild side. And then it should be a mostly nice weekend, despite the chance of a few Sunday showers.”

-- The Nationals beat the Rockies 6-3. (Jesse Dougherty)

-- The recent death of a cycling activist has spurred emergency legislation from the D.C. Council to improve road safety. Luz Lazo reports: “The bill, introduced by Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), aims to expedite plans to redesign Florida Avenue NE into a safer space for pedestrians and bicyclists following the death Friday of David Salovesh, 54, of Northeast Washington. Police had attempted to stop a van when its driver sped away, hit a vehicle at 12th Street and Florida Avenue NE and then struck Salovesh, who was pronounced dead at the scene. The bill was one of two introduced Tuesday. A second bill would require the District to build protected bike lanes on roads being repaired or rebuilt.”


Trevor Noah talked about the marathon of CNN town halls: 

An NBC News reporter looked back on Biden's 1988 run:

C-SPAN tweeted a video of Biden dropping out just three months later:

A former Obama speechwriter remembered one joke that didn't make it into the president's speech at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner in 2011 — for good reason:

And a California woman was captured on video throwing out a trash bag that turned out to be filled with several days-old puppies. The dogs were rescued just in time by a passerby, and the suspect is now facing seven counts of felony animal cruelty: