With Joanie Greve and Mariana Alfaro

THE BIG IDEA: Sen. Rick Scott has emerged as the most prominent and vocal booster for using American military might to support the removal of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.

The Republican from Florida swiftly issued a statement of support on Tuesday morning when opposition leader Juan Guaidó called for the Venezuelan military, which has stuck by Maduro, to remove him from power.

“The U.S. military MUST be ready to supply humanitarian aid and defend freedom and democracy in Venezuela,” Scott declared in the rare official statement from a U.S. senator that put certain words in ALL CAPS. “President Trump should immediately position American military assets to be ready to deliver aid to the people and defend freedom and democracy as well as U.S. national security interests in our hemisphere.”

Violent clashes quickly erupted across the country between Maduro’s forces and Guaidó’s supporters and are expected to continue today. At least one man was killed while dozens of others were reported wounded and at least 119 were reported detained. Video showed an armored vehicle plowing into a crowd of Guaidó supporters in Caracas. While thousands of opposition backers battled with security forces, by the end of the day there did not seem to be a widespread response by the Venezuelan army to Guaidó’s call.

Undeterred, Scott said in an interview last night that the U.S. should ratchet up support for Guaidó. “I still think the [Venezuelan] military is going to come to their senses and say, 'We can't kill our own families,’ because that's really what's going on here,” he said. “If people continue their fight, then I think we have a good shot at winning. Unfortunately, there's bloodshed today. But hopefully these individuals that lose their lives today are not going to lose their lives in vain.”

Scott came to the Senate in January after eight years as governor of a battleground state with a massive population of Venezuelan expats. He’s used his friendly relationship with President Trump to guide U.S. policy toward regime change. Along with former Trump primary opponent Marco Rubio, the senior senator who has been most publicly identified with the Venezuela crisis, Scott encouraged the president to recognize Guaidó as the rightful leader of the oil-rich country.

The 66-year-old traveled to Venezuela’s border with Colombia last Wednesday during the Senate’s Easter recess. He visited a soup kitchen funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, which he said serves about 5,000 meals a day of rice and beans to refugees. Scott recounted a conversation with a woman who fled Venezuela with her three children. “They’re sleeping on the streets,” he said. “They’re stranded there.” The senator met separately with Panama’s president on Tuesday, Colombia’s president on Thursday and Argentina’s president on Friday.

Scott said he’s been in touch with both Trump and national security adviser John Bolton. “I've been talking to the White House quite a bit,” Scott said. “I talked to the president again this weekend about how we can't let up. We've got to do everything we can. This is our chance. If we don't, we're going to have Syria here in our own hemisphere.”

Bolton told reporters at the White House yesterday afternoon that “the president wants to see a peaceful transfer of power.” Bolton repeated, as he has for months, that “all options” remain open to Trump but said nothing further about any potential use of U.S. military forces.

Scott, who characterizes Maduro’s repression as a “genocide,” advocates an “all-of-the-above approach” that uses every elements of American national power. Scott was enthusiastic after Trump accused Cuba of conducting military operations inside Venezuela and threatened to impose a “full and complete embargo” on the communist island if it does not “immediately” stop. “We have a big shot here, and I'm going to do everything I can,” the senator said last night. “I talk to the military. I talk to everybody every day and ask: What else can we do?”

I pressed Scott about the risk of U.S. military forces getting dragged into a protracted military intervention that could turn into a quagmire a la Iraq, Afghanistan or Vietnam. He said this situation is different. “We have an interim government in place, so we have a national assembly in place,” Scott explained. “So it's not like Iraq or things like that. That's a positive. I think what we ought to be doing is to focus on humanitarian aid, which makes it more difficult for people there to go against us. … We're going to do everything we can to create democracy. Thank God we have a president that cares about democracy for a change.”

-- Scott scored a seat on the Senate Armed Services Committee when he took office in January and has quickly carved out a niche as a leading hawk on the Hill. He enlisted in the Navy after attending community college and served on active duty as a radar man aboard the USS Glover. Then he used the GI Bill to attend college at the University of Missouri in Kansas City and law school at Southern Methodist University.

Scott’s father served as a paratrooper in the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division during World War II. On display in his Senate office is a rifle used by a man in his dad’s company during combat jumps back then. When I interviewed Scott recently, the senator invited me to grab the gun off its mount on the wall to feel how heavy it is. (He also pointed out that the firing pin was removed so that he could bring it onto the Capitol grounds.) Scott also proudly displays an array of military challenge coins that service members have given him over the years.

-- Florida, Florida, Florida: The state has a massive military presence. U.S. Southern Command, which would oversee any military operation related to Venezuela, is headquartered in Doral, Fla.

But the Sunshine State is also poised to once again be the biggest battleground in the 2020 presidential campaign. Trump narrowly beat Hillary Clinton there.

Scott visited Tyndall Air Force Base in the Florida Panhandle on Monday to inspect its recovery from Hurricane Michael. Trump’s reelection campaign announced while Scott happened to be there that the president will hold a rally in nearby Panama City on May 8. The news release noted that this will be Trump’s 39th rally in Florida since announcing his candidacy in June 2015.

Chatting on the Senate subway as I spent a recent afternoon shadowing him, Scott predicted that the president would carry the state if the election were held today. The senator added that there are probably 200,000 to 300,000 Venezuelans in Florida who can vote. “It’s a lot of votes,” he said.

But Scott is adamant that domestic political considerations aren’t why he’s pushing for Maduro’s removal. “The reality is I just do my job. … They’re all Floridians,” he said. “I do believe that American citizens don't know enough about what's going on in Venezuela. I think they'd put a lot more pressure on everybody to do something if they realized what was happening. … This guy is just a complete murderer and thug. Every bad word you could say, this guy is.”

Scott said he's been having substantive conversations with Trump about Venezuela since just weeks after the 2016 election. “The way President Trump works is he calls and asks what you think,” Scott said. “He asks a lot of people how they're thinking about things.”

The senator said he’s been speaking with the president an average of once a week since he came to Congress in January. The calls don’t come at a scheduled time, and they could be about whatever topic is on the president’s mind or on cable news. But often, Scott said, they wind up talking about Venezuela.

In January, Trump met with Scott and three other Florida GOP leaders at the White House to discuss the issue. Scott, Rubio, Gov. Ron DeSantis and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart strongly endorsed the idea of recognizing Guaidó as the rightful leader of the country. The next day, Guaidó asserted that he was. And Trump formally publicly backed him.

-- Scott sees what’s going on in Caracas as a proxy war, as well as a 21st-century test of whether something akin to the Monroe Doctrine still applies. James Monroe declared in 1823 that the United States would oppose European colonialism in its backyard, including South America.

“Our enemies are using Venezuela as a foothold in the Western Hemisphere,” the senator said. “This is a fight against Cuba, Russia, China, Iran and Hezbollah, who are all in Venezuela right now. … President Xi [Jinping], President [Vladimir] Putin, the Castro regime and Maduro are all committing genocide. … And we have to step up.

“Here's the positive,” he added. “We have way more focus on it. Our government for decades has not put enough effort into Latin America. They're our closest trading partner besides Canada and Mexico, so we ought to be putting more effort into it.”

-- “There’s opposition to Scott’s approach and language,” the Miami Herald notes today. “Republican Sen. Rand Paul [of Kentucky] said it’s a ‘mistake’ to send U.S. troops into Venezuela and that the president doesn’t have the authority to do it. California Democratic Reps. Ro Khanna and Barbara Lee also spoke out against military intervention on Tuesday. Miami Democrats Donna Shalala, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and Debbie Wasserman Schultz along with Central Florida Democrat Darren Soto expressed support for Guaidó at a press conference in Washington but did not think Scott’s call for U.S. military involvement was the right direction. ‘We’re getting way ahead of ourselves if we’re talking about what happens if this doesn’t work. We’re here to back up the support the United States has provided to Juan Guaidó,’ said Wasserman Schultz, whose district includes Weston, one of the largest Venezuelan communities in the United States.”

-- Scott is still adjusting to his membership in the world’s greatest deliberative body. He was chief executive of America’s third-most-populous state for eight years. Now, he’s No. 100 out of 100 in Senate seniority. He wasn’t declared the victor over Sen. Bill Nelson (D) until after a recount, and he wanted to finish out the final days of his gubernatorial term. That meant he wasn’t sworn in with the rest of the Class of 2018. But Scott has shown how a freshman can wield power if he’s in the majority and friendly with both the majority leader and president. He’s backed Trump up on tough votes and the issues the president cares about most, such as upholding the national emergency declaration to divert military construction funds for border wall construction.

For Scott, it’s all about cultivating relationships. He uses that word constantly. In his office, he’s got a framed — and autographed — picture of himself with Mitch McConnell from the early 1990s. “He was my senator because I bought all the Humana hospitals in 1993,” Scott explained. “So we got to know he and Elaine.”

Elaine is Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, McConnell’s wife.

“I've probably given away 5,000 of 6,000 copies of 'How to Win Friends & Influence People,’” Scott said in his office. “I did it in business. I did it in the governor's office. And I really do believe in that. … When you get married, you will find you don't get everything your way. But if you build a relationship, then it's a pretty good deal. I've been married since I was 19, and we figured it out. …

“One of my goals is to figure out how to sell here,” he added. “You do it in a different way than as governor and in business. One of my companies had 285,000 employees, so I had to sell a lot to get them to do what I believed in. It's not like you're a dictator, and they all do it. You've got to go sell constantly. What you find in politics is you have to figure out how to get your message out to get people to come along.”

Scott said it’s really helpful that GOP senators eat lunch together every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. With a net worth of at least $232 million, making him one of the richest members of Congress, Scott has gravitated toward fellow conservatives who have done well in business, especially Ron Johnson from Wisconsin and Mike Braun from Indiana. He said he really likes Tim Scott, too. The South Carolina Republican sits by him during Committee on Aging hearings, and Rick Scott jokes that they can share a nameplate.

Scott said he sits next to Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) during Armed Services Committee hearings, and she’s been teaching him about how the Air Force really works on the inside. McSally was the first American female fighter pilot to fly in combat.

He’s also been trying to make friends with some Democratic senators. Scott said he really likes West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, also a former governor, although he recalled that “it felt a little awkward” when the two were chatting on the Democratic side of the floor while Chuck Schumer was blasting McConnell for changing the rules of the Senate to accelerate the confirmation of judicial nominees. “When you’re new, you’re trying to figure out how to do this the right way,” he said.

Scott said partisanship is worse in Washington than Tallahassee, but that’s because Republicans have unified control of the Florida legislature. He took office during the partial government shutdown and with Democrats in control of the House.

Because he’s last in seniority, Scott is assigned to spend hours each week presiding over the Senate — a tedious, boring task for someone accustomed to being governor. He’s there around lunchtime every Tuesday and Thursday when the chamber is in session — and then from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday evenings. He uses the time to write thank-you notes and review briefing books. He’d always heard about it, but he finally understands how cloture works. “There’s a lot of rules here,” he said.

Scott has been trying to pick his spots, identifying a handful of issues on which he can establish himself as a leader in the Senate. Venezuela is one, along with Puerto Rico, prescription drug prices and the temporary protected status program. “Bob Corker said something really interesting to me. I used to live in Tennessee, so I knew him back when,” Scott said, referring to the recently retired former chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. “He said you will get a lot more opportunities to get involved in something in the Senate when you’re really knowledgeable about that issue. We’ll see how good I am. That’s the test.” 

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WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

-- Bob Mueller complained in a letter to Bill Barr that the four-page letter the attorney general sent to Congress describing the special counsel's principal conclusions in his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and regarding whether Trump obstructed it did not “fully capture the context, nature and substance” of his work. Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky scooped last night: “The letter and a subsequent phone call between the two men reveal the degree to which the longtime colleagues and friends disagreed as they handled the legally and politically fraught task of investigating the president. … The letter made a key request: that Barr release the 448-page report’s introductions and executive summaries, and it made initial suggested redactions for doing so.” Barr will testify later this morning before the Senate Judiciary Committee, where he will be questioned at length about his interactions with Mueller.

A direct quote from Mueller's letter: “There is now public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation. This threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the Department appointed the Special Counsel: to assure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigations. ... Release at this time would alleviate the misunderstandings that have arisen and would answer congressional and public questions about the nature and outcome of our investigation.”

Barr is set to testify this morning before the Senate Judiciary Committee at 10 a.m. The Justice Department shared his opening statement“A federal prosecutor’s task is to decide whether the admissible evidence is sufficient to overcome that presumption and establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If so, he seeks an indictment; if not, he does not,” Barr plans to say. “From here on, the exercise of responding and reacting to the report is a matter for the American people and the political process.”

The timeline for Barr's previous answers to congressional queries is now being called into question.

-- A chorus of Democrats called overnight for Barr to resign over his handling of the Mueller report. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) pointed to what he sees as false congressional testimony:

From the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee:

The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee called on Mueller to testify ASAP:

A Democratic presidential candidate floated the idea of impeaching Barr:

-- WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was sentenced to 50 weeks in a British prison for jumping bail. William Booth and Karla Adam report: “His sentencing comes a day before an extradition hearing in London related to separate charges in the United States of conspiring to hack a government password. … At the trial, his lawyer Mark Summers argued that Assange failed to surrender to a British court seven years ago and so violated his bail because he had a reasonable fear that if he were extradited to Sweden, he would then be extradited to the United States and even sent to Guantanamo Bay. … The judge said Assange could have left the embassy and surrendered at any time, that he used his ‘privileged position’ to insult the British judiciary, and that British police had spent 16 million pounds (nearly $21 million) securing the embassy.”

GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. Two people are dead and three others remain critically injured after a shooting on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. On the final day of classes, a 22-year-old now in custody allegedly opened fire. Cops were apparently able to stop him quickly because they were already converging on campus to provide security for a concert to celebrate the end of the school year. (Jodie Valade, Susan Svrluga and Debbie Truong)

  2. The man charged with killing five employees of the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis entered a plea of not criminally responsible because of a “mental disorder.” Public defenders representing Jarrod Ramos, who faces 23 charges, say he “lacked substantial capacity to appreciate the criminality of his conduct.” (Lynh Bui)

  3. The Minnesota police officer who in 2017 shot and killed an unarmed Australian woman who approached his squad car shortly after she called 911 for help has been convicted of killing her. Some believe he’s the first Minnesota police officer to be found criminally liable for an on-duty killing. (Reis Thebault)

  4. Swarthmore fraternities disbanded after intense outcry over leaked documents that contained allegations of a “rape attic” as well as homophobic, racist and misogynistic language. The two fraternities were suspended by university administrators after they received unredacted copies of the files. (Allyson Chiu)

  5. Facebook announced at its annual developer conference that it is redesigning its app. Mark Zuckerberg touted the company’s growing focus on private groups and encrypted messages but stopped short of outlining how Facebook would respond to ongoing criticism and potential increased regulation over its handling of user data. (Elizabeth Dwoskin)

  6. The NSA revealed the identities of many more citizens, permanent residents and corporations mentioned in intelligence reports last year through a process called “unmasking.” The statistics point to an increase in the number of American businesses or people being victimized by foreign governments and alerted about it by authorities. (Shane Harris)

  7. Two award-winning teachers boycotted a White House ceremony honoring educators to protest the president's policies toward LGBTQ and Latino youth. (Valerie Strauss)

  8. A federal judge threw out a child-endangerment conviction against former Penn State president Graham Spanier hours before he was supposed to begin his jail sentence. The decision gives state prosecutors three months to retry Spanier over his response to a complaint that former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky showered with a boy on campus. (Wall Street Journal)

  9. The FDA announced it will require commonly prescribed sleep aids to carry the toughest boxed warning about serious risks after at least 20 deaths were reported. Prescription insomnia pills that contain eszopiclone, zaleplon and zolpidem must now display a black-box warning about potential risks and a contraindication that they shouldn’t be taken by patients who have experienced complications such as sleepwalking or driving while asleep. (Wall Street Journal)

  10. Research indicates that suicide rates decline in states that raise their minimum wages or expand the earned-income tax credit. A working paper circulated by the National Bureau of Economic Research estimates that increasing the minimum wage and the tax credit for working families by 10 percent each could prevent about 1,230 suicides each year. (Andrew Van Dam)

  11. A new study shows that suicides spiked in the months after Netflix released “13 Reasons Why,” a popular teen series that critics and social scientists say glorifies suicide and puts impressionable young people at risk. The study found 58 more suicide deaths among 10- to 17-year-olds during that period than would normally be expected. (Steven Zeitchik)

  12. Barack and Michelle Obama's new Netflix-based production company announced a list of its first round of projects. These include three features and four series, including a show for preschoolers. (The Hollywood Reporter)

  13. Actor Jussie Smollett will likely not return to the Fox show “Empire” next season, despite pleas from his co-stars to the network. The show was renewed for a sixth season, and the main cast has been brought back, except for Smollett. However, the show still has the option of signing Smollett, so a comeback isn’t impossible. (Wall Street Journal)

  14. The musicals “Hadestown” and “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations” led the field of 2019 Tony nominations. Bur many theatergoers were surprised that Aaron Sorkin’s staging of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which has received critical acclaim and whose tickets have become some of the most sought after on Broadway, did not receive a nomination for best play. (Peter Marks)

  15. Former California congresswoman Ellen Tauscher died at 67. Her impressive career stretched from the New York Stock Exchange, where she became one of the first and youngest women to hold a seat, to the State Department, where she served as undersecretary for arms control and international security affairs. Hillary Clinton said Tauscher was “the most important person in getting us to the negotiation of the New START Treaty.” (Politico)

TRUMP INC.: 

-- The New York attorney general is investigating allegations that managers at the Trump National Golf Club Westchester pressured undocumented employees to work extra hours without pay. Joshua Partlow and David A. Fahrenthold report: “His bosses at the Trump country club called it ‘side work.’ On some nights, after the club’s Grille Room closed, head waiter Jose Gabriel Juarez — an undocumented immigrant from Mexico — was told to clock out. He pressed his index finger onto a scanner and typed his personal code, 436. But he didn’t go home. Instead — on orders from his bosses, Juarez said — he would stay on, sometimes past midnight. … All off the clock. Without being paid. ‘It was that way with all the managers: Many of them told us, ‘Just clock out and then stay and do the side work,’ ‘ said Juarez, who spent a decade at the golf club, before leaving in May 2018. ‘There was a lot of side work.’”

-- A federal judge allowed the emoluments lawsuit brought by congressional Democrats to proceed. Jonathan O’Connell, Ann E. Marimow and Carol D. Leonnig report: “The decision in Washington from U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan adopted a broad definition of the anti-corruption law and could set the stage for Democratic lawmakers to begin seeking information from the Trump Organization. … In a 48-page opinion, the judge refused the request of the president’s legal team to dismiss the case and rejected Trump’s narrow definition of emoluments, finding it ‘unpersuasive and inconsistent.’ … The emoluments cases, which could eventually end up at the Supreme Court, appear to mark the first time federal judges have interpreted these clauses and applied their restrictions to a sitting president. The lawsuits were early arrivals to what is now a wide range of investigations and legal battles over the president’s business interests and what information he and his family will be required to provide about them.”

-- Why is Trump so fixated on trying to stop Deutsche Bank, one of his largest lenders, from complying with subpoenas? The New York Times’s David Enrich reports: “Lawyers for the bank have spent months cooperating with investigators from two Democratic-controlled congressional committees, which issued what one lawmaker called a ‘friendly subpoena’ to the bank in mid-April. The bank could end up sharing decades of his personal and corporate financial records. That prospect prompted Mr. Trump to file a lawsuit in federal court in Manhattan on Monday in an attempt to block Deutsche Bank and another financial company, Capital One, from sharing documents. … The rich trove of records held by Deutsche Bank includes internal corporate documents, descriptions of the value of Mr. Trump’s assets, and portions of his personal and business tax returns.”

THERE'S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:

-- House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) made a criminal referral to the Justice Department for Trump ally Erik Prince, accusing him of making false statements to Congress. John Wagner and Karoun Demirjian report: “Prince’s statements ‘impaired the Committee’s understanding of Russia’s attempts to contact and influence the incoming Trump Administration,’ Schiff wrote [to Barr], describing six alleged instances in which Prince misled the panel about his January 2017 meeting in the Seychelles with a Russian banker tied to the Kremlin — and how much the Trump transition team knew about it. … Democratic lawmakers have long suspected that Prince lied to them during his November 2017 interview before the House Intelligence Committee, when he described his Seychelles meeting with Russian financier Kirill Dmitriev as a chance encounter, instead of one organized at the behest of the incoming administration. Their suspicions hardened after they read [Mueller’s] depiction of the Seychelles meeting, which differed in several key respects with Prince’s sworn testimony.”

-- A proposal to fine Trump administration officials who ignore subpoenas is picking up steam among some senior House Democrats. Rachael Bade and Mike DeBonis report: “During a private meeting with the centrist New Democrat Coalition, Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and [Schiff] suggested fines for officials who ignored compulsory measures was one possible response. Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) echoed that sentiment to reporters off the House floor — even refusing to rule out jailing some.” 

-- Schiff hired Patrick Fallon, the former chief of the FBI’s Financial Crimes Section, to assist his panel's probes of whether the president has been financially compromised by foreign powers. The Daily Beast’s Betsy Woodruff reports: “This won't be Fallon's first time working on a team scrutinizing the White House; during Bill Clinton's presidency, he was one of the FBI agents working on Independent Counsel Ken Starr’s probe of the president, and called Monica Lewinsky's lawyer on her behalf while Starr’s team questioned her. Fallon started at the FBI in 1992, according to his LinkedIn page, and left in 2017.”

-- Top Democrats are declining to review some of the secret information in the Mueller report because they still want the full report released. Politico’s Kyle Cheney and Marianne Levine report: “Barr offered access to a less-redacted version of the report to just 12 members of Congress — six Democrats and six Republicans. But as of Tuesday afternoon, only Rep. Doug Collins, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, opted to view it. A third, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he planned to review the report later Tuesday.”

-- Roger Stone, Trump’s former associate and adviser, appeared in court for the first time since the redacted version of the Mueller report was released. Stone and his legal team have tried to access the report in its entirety. ABC News’s Ali Dukakis, Allison Pecorin and Lucien Bruggeman report: “In court on Tuesday, U.S. Judge Amy Berman Jackson considered Stone’s argument to see the report but did not rule from the bench. ‘I think it's fair to say that some portions that relate to this defendant, in particular, are redacted from public view for largely appropriate reason,’ Jackson said. Jonathan Kravis, an assistant U.S. attorney who has taken over the special counsel’s case against Stone, said the government has no intention to willingly grant Stone and his legal team access to a less-redacted version of the Mueller report.”

-- The Mueller report outlines at least 77 times in which Trump’s campaign staff, administration officials, family members and associates lied or made false statements to the public, CNN’s Katelyn Polantz and Marshall Cohen tabulate: There are eight major topics around which the president and his associates pushed false stories. The Trump Tower in Moscow was the issue that involved the most false claims made by Trump and his team, with 31 of them recorded in the report. At least 13 false claims were made about the firing of former FBI director James Comey, including press secretary Sarah Sanders’s claims that “countless members of the FBI” reached out to tell her Trump was right to fire him.

-- Even with the Mueller probe wrapped up, Trump’s orbit still faces 16 known investigations, according to Wired’s Garrett Graff: Of the 17 investigations that Graff tallied in December, at least eight appear to still be open, and another eight have sprung up in recent months.

ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN:

-- Stephen Moore’s nomination to the Federal Reserve Board is in peril after several GOP senators publicly criticized his writings about gender equality. Heather Long and Josh Dawsey report: “Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) said she was ‘very unlikely’ to vote for Moore. Several others raised big questions about his potential nomination, including Trump ally Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), who called Moore a ‘problematic’ nominee. Ernst said she didn’t think Moore would be confirmed, adding that ‘several’ senators agree with her on Moore’s unsuitability for one of the nation’s top positions steering the economy. … At least seven GOP senators have taken issue with Moore’s provocative past columns and statements that have come to light since his name began to circulate publicly as a potential Fed nominee in March.”

-- Moore’s controversial writings date back as far as 1994, when he said the Violence Against Women Act “simply required every American household to write a $20 check to the radical feminist group of its choice.” CNN’s Paul LeBlanc and Andrew Kaczynski report: “More recently, he's wondered aloud whether women would concern themselves about gender parity once they start out-earning men and suggested that women shouldn't curse in public. It's part of a 25-year track record of dismissing women and criticizing gender equality in print and in interviews with conservative outlets. Moore's commentary covers everything from single mothers to the limited earning power of black men relative to black women — a problem, he's argued, because it made black families weaker. On Tuesday, Moore said the ‘biggest problem’ in the US economy is a relative decline in male earnings for both black and white men.”

-- Brad Parscale, Trump’s 2020 campaign manager, delivered a paid speech last month to a group of Romanian politicians and policy elites, a highly unusual engagement that Republican and Democratic veterans of past presidential campaigns say raises questions about conflicts of interest. Michael Birnbaum and Ioana Burtea report: “Legal analysts said that Parscale’s visit breaks no laws so long as he does not do any lobbying in the United States on behalf of foreign clients without registering. But ethics experts said any money changing hands between foreign citizens and campaign officials created an obstacle course of potential risks. And some ethics lawyers worried that Parscale’s engagement — which received little attention outside Romania at the time — is a sign that the 2016 Trump campaign’s freewheeling approach to foreign contacts may be carrying over to its 2020 successor.”

-- Hypocrisy watch: Many prominent conservatives who have decried liberals for looking to international laws, especially Supreme Court Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, have reversed their positions when it comes to justifying the addition of a citizenship question to the U.S. census. The New York Times’s Adam Liptak reports: “Two years ago, at his confirmation hearings, [Gorsuch] said that what happens abroad should not influence American judges in constitutional cases. … But last week, during arguments [in the census case], Justice Gorsuch did not hesitate to consider what he called ‘the evidence of practice around the world.’ … In 2010, when [Kavanaugh] was an appeals court judge, he wrote in a concurring opinion about a Guantánamo detainee that ‘international-law norms are not domestic U.S. law.’ But he was curious about those norms in the census case. ‘The United Nations recommends that countries ask a citizenship question on the census,’ he said.”

INFRASTRUCTURE WEEK, CONT.:

-- Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer emerged from their meeting with Trump saying the president embraced their proposal to invest $2 trillion in infrastructure projects. Mike DeBonis and John Wagner report: “Back on Capitol Hill, however, Trump’s fellow Republicans cast a much more skeptical note, questioning how any infrastructure program would be financed. Many ruled out one idea favored by Democrats: rolling back the 2017 Republican tax cuts for corporations and wealthy Americans. ‘That’s a nonstarter,’ McConnell told reporters. Unlike other previous bull sessions with congressional Democrats, Trump did not invite the media, even briefly, to observe the meeting — a decision that lawmakers credited with preserving the civil tone. But it also meant that Trump’s zeal for an infrastructure deal was only indirectly shared with the public.”

-- Trump and Democrats agreed on many aspects of a potential infrastructure deal, seemingly undercutting the president’s argument the Democratic-controlled House cannot simultaneously launch investigations and pursue legislation. Seung Min Kim reports. “Trump distanced himself from a proposal laid out by his own administration to use smaller amounts of public money to spur private spending on infrastructure — a public-private partnership concept that has been similarly shunned by Democrats. ‘That was a Gary bill,’ Trump said, according to a Democratic official who described the conversation on the condition of anonymity, referring to former National Economic Council director Gary Cohn. ‘That bill was so stupid.’ Trump and the Democrats also largely agreed on the potential scope of a massive infrastructure effort — that it should include not only roads and bridges, but also investments in broadband technology and the power grid, according to senators and aides. And while the group mostly skirted around the issue of exactly how to pay for such an extensive effort, Trump deferred to Pelosi — whose power over her rank-and-file members he privately admires.”

-- “Chances are this deal collapses well before the next meeting of this same group, tentatively set for three weeks off,” Paul Kane reports. “But the meeting served as the latest example of how differently Trump acts around [Pelosi] and [Schumer], depending on the optics. Give him a closed room, no TV cameras, without conservative handlers around — his chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, and [Mitch McConnell] were not on hand — and Trump turns into the wheeler and dealer of the Manhattan real estate world. … But if Trump ushers the top Democrats into a meeting with the press corps on hand, he turns into the blunt-talking reality-TV star who gained fame by insulting others and declaring ‘You’re fired.’”

-- Well, there goes another Infrastructure Week — and this one had a doubtful Mick Mulvaney in it, writes columnist Dana Milbank: “In the latest iteration of Infrastructure Week, Trump has no proposal. In Tuesday’s session, which both sides called productive, he readily agreed with Democrats on the $2 trillion target, and they put off the hard decisions for another day. But by the time they announced the agreement, Mulvaney had already pronounced the latest infrastructure gambit an exercise in masochism. ‘Oww,’ he said, gingerly taking his seat onstage at the Milken conference. ‘Kidney stones,’ he reported. He paused. ‘It was a fun night,’ he said. ‘But it’s better than going to the meeting with Chuck and Nancy at the White House.’”

-- After meeting with Trump, Pelosi rolled out a messaging campaign casting the president as trampling the Constitution and "sabotaging checks [and] balances." Rachael Bade reports: “The new push — laid out in a document that will be distributed to Democratic offices — argues that Trump’s flagrant attempt to block congressional oversight is 'immoral, unethical, corrupt and unpatriotic.' The three-page packet also accuses Trump of 'blanket, unprecedented stonewalling' that is ‘unwarranted and unconstitutional’ and 'is part of a … growing pattern of obstruction.’”

2020 WATCH:

-- Bernie Sanders wrote an op-ed defending his controversial position that anyone who is currently incarcerated should be able to vote. Sanders writes in USA Today: “If we are serious about calling ourselves a democracy, we must firmly establish that the right to vote is an inalienable and universal principle that applies to all American citizens 18 years and older. Period. As American citizens all of us are entitled to freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly and all the other freedoms enshrined in our Bill of Rights. We are also entitled to vote. Yes. Even if Trump’s former campaign manager and personal lawyer end up in jail, they should still be able to vote — regardless of who they cast their vote for.”

-- Joe Biden received an 11-point bump after formally announcing his presidential campaign, according to the latest CNN/SSRS poll. CNN’s Jennifer Agiesta reports: The poll “shows 39% of voters who are Democrats or Democratic-leaning independents saying [Biden] is their top choice for the nomination, up from 28% who said the same in March. That puts Biden more than 20 points ahead of his nearest competitor, [Sanders] -- who holds 15% support in the poll -- and roughly 30 points ahead of the next strongest candidate, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (8%).”

-- Biden took a swipe back at Trump’s explanation for his “very fine people on both sides” comment made after the 2017 violence in Charlottesville, saying the president knew that “hatred was on the march.” Felicia Sonmez reports: “The media had misunderstood, Trump argued. But Biden told supporters Tuesday that Trump’s version of events was ‘nonsense.’ ‘He now has come down and doubled down on concocting a phony story about how these violent thugs only wanted to protect the statue of Robert E. Lee. Give me a break. No, no, I mean, this is — enough’s enough, man,’ Biden said at a campaign event in Cedar Rapids.”

-- Pete Buttigieg released 10 years of tax returns and took a swipe at Trump for refusing to do the same. Amy B Wang and Colby Itkowitz report: “[Buttigieg] and his husband, Chasten, jointly earned $128,630 in taxable income in 2018 and paid just over $20,000 in taxes. Notably, the returns Buttigieg released — from 2009 to 2018 — included only the end of his time working as a management consultant for McKinsey & Co. He began working for McKinsey in 2007 and left his job in 2010 to run for Indiana state treasurer. In 2009, Buttigieg’s last full year at McKinsey, his taxable income was $136,129. The following year, in 2010, his taxable income was $21,317. … Most years, Buttigieg filed the standard deduction, which means his returns show no itemized charitable deductions.” Buttigieg’s campaign fundraising email accompanying the release said, “Unlike the current president, he doesn’t have anything to hide.”

THE NEW WORLD ORDER:

-- Crown Prince Naruhito ascended to the Chrysanthemum Throne, becoming the new emperor of Japan. Simon Denyer and Akiko Kashiwagi report: “Naruhito’s accession marks the start of the Reiwa era in Japan, a term taken from ancient Japanese poetry and translated as 'beautiful harmony.' But his own family circumstance is a constant reminder of the gender inequality at the heart of the conservative imperial system. Naruhito and his wife, now known as Empress Masako, had a daughter, Princess Aiko, in 2001. Under Japanese law, Aiko is not allowed to inherit the throne, and Masako is thought to have come under intense pressure from within the palace to produce a male heir.”

-- The U.S. military no longer tracks just how much of Afghanistan is controlled by the Taliban, saying the measure had limited “decision-making value” for commanders. The New York Times’s David Zucchino reports: “The decision to end the assessments, which have been produced in various forms since at least 2010, was published in the latest quarterly report by the American special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction. ‘We’re troubled by it,’ the inspector general, John F. Sopko, said in an interview. ‘It’s like turning off the scoreboard at a football game and saying scoring a touchdown or field goal isn’t important.’ … Ending the public assessments is the latest move by the military command in Afghanistan to limit public dissemination of information about the war, which is now in its 18th year.”

-- Trump’s efforts to make U.S. asylum laws more restrictive shows the White House acknowledging that the president’s proposed border wall would do little to limit the number of migrant families arriving at the border. David Nakamura and Josh Dawsey report: “Privately, current and former Trump aides described the move as the culmination of a year-long campaign by senior White House adviser Stephen Miller to force the administration’s hand. Miller has argued that restricting asylum would prove more effective than alternative border control measures to reverse the spike in migrant families from Central America, according to two former administration officials who worked closely with him. … White House allies and critics alike predicted that the changes would face legal challenges once they are unveiled, and they expressed doubt over the impact even if the rules are adopted after what could be a lengthy public process.”

-- A bank vault manager had planned the perfect heist, until he was busted by Mexican authorities. Kyle Swenson reports: “With a careful game plan, strategic lies and the right timing, Gerardo Adan Cazarez Valenzuela realized he could stroll out of the KeyBank branch where he worked in Anchorage with millions in cash. … He planned to be safely over the Mexican border. As he pulled out of the parking lot, a chartered private jet was already waiting to hurry him on the first leg of his journey south. But Cazarez never made his grand getaway. Busted by authorities in Mexico, he was dumped into a Mexican jail, conditions he referred to in a recent letter to a federal judge as ‘the filthiest place imaginable.’ Extradited back to the United States in 2018 after seven years of incarceration in Mexico, Cazarez was sentenced on Monday to 10 more years in prison in the United States, according to a Justice Department news release.”

-- Benito Mussolini’s great-grandson admitted he’s using his family’s name to attract support for his campaign in the European Union elections. Caio Mussolini has said he doesn’t consider himself to be a fascist but is using his surname to promote himself. (Euronews)

-- An annual anti-Semitism report found a spike in the number of Jews murdered worldwide. More Jews were killed in anti-Semitic attacks last year than in any other year over the past several decades, a report by Tel Aviv University found. (Haartez)

ON THE HILL:

-- The House held its first-ever hearing to consider Medicare-for-all. Felicia Sonmez reports: Ady Barkan, an activist with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, testified in favor of a Democratic bill, saying it’s the only solution to America’s health-care problem. “The disease has affected the 35-year-old activist’s tongue and diaphragm, making him unable to speak on his own. So he addressed the House Rules Committee with the aid of a computer that read his testimony out loud. … He told the lawmakers that even though he and his wife have ‘comparatively good’ health insurance, they still must pay $9,000 out-of-pocket every month for Barkan’s nearly 24-hour-a-day home care, relying on friends, family and a GoFundMe campaign."

-- Robocalls are a danger for hospitals, treatment centers and other health-related organizations. Dave Summitt, the chief information security officer of a cancer center and research institute, testified his office received about 6,600 robocalls over a recent 90-day period. Tony Romm reports: “These auto-dialed calls are a danger to doctors and patients alike — one that should prompt Congress to take action. The plea for help came Tuesday as House lawmakers embarked on a new effort to crack down on robocalls that rang consumers’ mobile phones roughly 26 billion times in 2018, according to one industry estimate. … [Some] robocalls misrepresented themselves as federal agencies … and sought to deceive the center’s doctors into surrendering information about their medical license ... In other cases, scammers spoofed the cancer center’s number and targeted some of its nearly 60,000 patients. … ‘They are making money, and they’re doing it on the backs of patients and other consumers,’ Summitt added. ‘And in the process, they’re hurting us very badly.’”

-- Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) said Islamophobia and anti-Semitism are “two sides of the same coin of bigotry.” “Because when we are talking about anti-Semitism, we must also talk about Islamophobia; it's two sides of the same coin of bigotry,” she said. “Just this week, when we've had the attack in California on a synagogue, it's the same person who's accused of attempting to bomb a mosque. So I can't ever speak of Islamophobia and fight for Muslims if I am not willing to fight against anti-Semitism.” (NBC News)

-- Patti Davis, Ronald Reagan's daughter, calls on congressional Republicans in an op-ed for The Post to stop invoking her father when justifying their silence on Trump: “You have claimed his legacy, exalted him as an icon of conservatism and used the quotes of his that serve your purpose at any given moment. Yet at this moment in America’s history when the democracy to which my father pledged himself and the Constitution that he swore to uphold, and did faithfully uphold, are being degraded and chipped away at by a sneering, irreverent man who traffics in bullying and dishonesty, you stay silent.”

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

Trump sent an early morning tweet attacking the largest firefighters union's decision to back Biden's campaign:

He then retweeted at least 50 tweets of purported firefighters supporting him. 

A Post reporter shared a few facts about the International Association of Fire Fighters: 

Twitter is dominated by conversation about Mueller's letter to Barr. From a former lawyer for the National Security Agency who is now executive editor of Lawfare and a Brookings senior fellow:

From a "Morning Joe" host:

From a presidential historian:

He added this:

Hillary Clinton mourned the loss of her close friend and former colleague:

From a Democratic presidential candidate who interned for Tauscher:

A presidential candidate shared devastating images of a flood in Iowa:

A Senate Democrat touted his latest proposal aimed at limiting robocalls:

A Post pollster analyzed Trump's thinking on infrastructure spending:

A CNN host shared good news about John McCain's son: 

Sailors awaiting a speech from the vice president were given this instruction, per a reporter for the local CBS affiliate in Norfolk:

A Politico reporter highlighted this major flip-flop from Trump's acting chief of staff:

A Post reporter noted this of recent polling for the Democratic nomination:

The Indian army was ridiculed for posting this photo of “yeti footprints”:

Many Twitter users were skeptical of the claim:

And a CNN reporter prepared for the release of his new book:

GOOD READS:

-- “A symbol of slavery — and survival,” by DeNeen L. Brown: “As the country marks the 400th anniversary of the arrival of those first slaves, historians are trying to find out as much as possible about Angela, the first African woman documented in Virginia. They see her as a seminal figure in American history — a symbol of 246 years of brutal subjugation that left millions of men, women and children enslaved at the start of the Civil War.”

-- “The Case of the Stolen Ruby Slippers,” by Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson: “On a rainy afternoon in September 2018, the FBI gathered national media in its Minnesota headquarters for an important announcement. Jill Sanborn, special agent in charge of the Minneapolis division, stood in front of a packed room and said, ‘We’re here today to share with you the recovery of one of the most significant and cherished pieces of movie memorabilia in American history: Dorothy’s ruby slippers from the 1939 movie “The Wizard of Oz.”’ When the ruby slippers were stolen in August 2005 from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minn., it made international news. … Jody Hane, a writer and researcher at the historical society, says her colleagues were impressed — at first. But as the event unfolded, another sentiment soon seeped in. ‘They didn’t say who took them,’ Hane marveled.”

-- “How Exercise Affects Our Memory,” by the New York Times's Gretchen Reynolds: “In animal experiments, exercise increases the production of neurochemicals and the numbers of newborn neurons in mature brains and improves the animals’ thinking abilities. Similarly, in people, studies show that regular exercise over time increases the volume of the hippocampus, a key part of the brain’s memory networks. It also improves many aspects of people’s thinking. But substantial questions remain about exercise and the brain, including the time course of any changes and whether they are short-term or, with continued training, become lasting.”

HOT ON THE LEFT:

“‘Bizarre, Dangerous, and Insulting’: Baby Nurses Fed Up With Trump’s Bogus Abortion Rants,” from the Daily Beast: “Trump’s latest rant about babies being executed after birth is riling up neonatal nurses, who say he’s twisted the palliative care they provide for the sickest of infants into an anti-abortion rallying cry that could endanger health providers. Anna Schmidt, who has worked in a neonatal intensive care unit for five years, [said] she was livid when she heard about Trump’s comments at a political rally in Wisconsin on Saturday. ‘The families that I've worked with, where I've handed them their babies for the first and last time, they don't deserve this kind of thing,’ she [said]. ‘They don’t deserve to be vilified or to be called an executioner.’ … The nurses claim what they do is sensitive, personal, and has absolutely nothing to do with abortion.”

 

HOT ON THE RIGHT:

“Vice President Pence says USS Truman will not be retired early,” from WTKR-TV: “The announcement comes after the Pentagon reportedly planned to retire the USS Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier decades early. Pence says he spoke with [Trump] on Tuesday morning before heading to Norfolk. The president made the decision on the spot, he said. ‘The president told me, “You go tell that crew that we're not retiring the Truman,”’ Pence told reporters. … With thousands of Sailors serving aboard the Truman, its early retirement could have had a big impact on the local economy.”

 

DAYBOOK:

Trump will meet with members of Congress and later participate in a dinner for the National Day of Prayer.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

“He has shown us that what’s black at 9 a.m. can be gray at 3 p.m. and white at 7 p.m.” — A Mexican diplomat on Trump’s critical tweets toward foreign governments. Karen DeYoung and Josh Dawsey report that such presidential missives no longer pack the same punch as when Trump first assumed office because the president often does not follow through.

 

NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:

-- It’ll be cloudy today with a chance of an isolated shower here and there. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Yesterday we were on the warm and sunnier side of a front located to our north, as highs topped out near 80. Today we’re on the cloudier and cooler side, with the front having slipped down to our south. The tables turn again tomorrow and Friday, with temperatures rising back into the 80s, maybe even flirting with 90 tomorrow, and a daily chance of showers and storms tomorrow into the weekend.”

-- The Nationals lost to the Cardinals 3-2. (Sam Fortier)

-- Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) said in a Post op-ed that he will veto two mandatory minimum sentencing bills this week: “The bills demonstrate how we have become too quick to impose mandatory minimum sentencing. One, House Bill 2042, would impose a 60-day mandatory minimum for assault and battery against a family or household member for someone with a prior assault and battery conviction in recent years. The other, Senate Bill 1675, establishes a six-month mandatory minimum for killing or injuring a law enforcement animal, which is already a felony under Virginia code.”

-- Three D.C. hospitals have launched a program that will provide medication-assisted addiction treatment to recent overdose victims in emergency rooms. Peter Jamison reports: “Howard University Hospital, MedStar Washington Hospital Center and United Medical Center have their treatment programs up and running, the D.C. Hospital Association announced Tuesday — meeting the April 30 deadline established by the District’s government. The programs involve outreach to opioid overdose victims, who will be able to begin taking buprenorphine — a medicine that diminishes cravings for heroin and other opioids — while still in the emergency room.”

-- Maryland politicians rebuked an image of two ninth-grade students at Walt Whitman High School wearing blackface. Donna St. George and Dan Morse report: “The Montgomery County Council weighed in on the incident Tuesday. Council President Nancy Navarro (D-District 4) spoke for the group, calling the incident severely disturbing and insensitive. 'It is unfortunate for us to be in 2019 and these types of incidents are still happening,' Navarro said. 'In light of this, it is imperative that we continue our work to engage in education and outreach to sensitize our residents on the harmful effects of racism on the residents of our communities.'”

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

Stephen Moore defended a joke about evicting a black family from public housing, a reference to the Obamas, by saying he often makes off-color jokes:

Stephen Colbert thinks it’s funny that Biden insists he asked Obama not to endorse him, while using clips of Obama in his campaign ads: 

Trevor Noah talked to Pete Buttigieg about his views on foreign policy and his meeting with the Rev. Al Sharpton in a Between the Scenes clip:

Jimmy Kimmel held a mock interview with the Trump family lawyer (played by Fred Willard): 

And a sea gull sat in front of a London traffic camera, sparking jokes online: