The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

The Daily 202: Meet the Senate’s new culture warrior. Josh Hawley fashions a right-wing populism for the Trump era.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) questions Attorney General William Barr during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

with Joanie Greve and Mariana Alfaro

With Joanie Greve and Mariana Alfaro

THE BIG IDEA: Josh Hawley, the youngest member of the Senate, was born on Dec. 31, 1979 — the final day of a sclerotic decade. The freshman Republican from Missouri argues that the GOP must now move away from the shibboleths of his childhood to become the party that stands in unflinching opposition to elites.

“It's not 1980 anymore. We've got to wake up to the problems of today,” Hawley said in an interview. “For my own party, there is a tendency to want to live in the past and to live in a time when Republican orthodoxy was fixed by the 1980 Reagan campaign. Listen, the Reagan presidency was extraordinarily successful and extraordinarily significant historically. But that's a long time ago now. And I think that it is past time for Republicans to stop living in the 1980s and start living in 2019 and facing the problems of this day.”

Ronald Reagan famously declared during his first inaugural address that “government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem.”

“Government has a role to play,” Hawley explained. “We need a shift in policy. This is why I say it is time to move beyond the old and tired policy debates of the last 30 and 40 years, which we just rehash and rehearse over and over again. … In a weird way, our politics has kind of been captured by nostalgia in the last 10 or 15 years. As the glaring problems of the great middle of our society have become worse, in some ways politics has become more and more blinkered. It's just more trapped in the past. There's this aversion to facing things as they are. If anything, our politics has become more nostalgic and more backward-looking. We need to stop that.”

-- For Hawley, stopping that means challenging the power of big technology companies and the pharmaceutical industry. “Prescription drug prices have got to get lower,” he said. “We need prescription drugs that actually are affordable. We need a prescription drug system that actually is portable.”

-- Hawley is trying to forge a future for Trumpism that is bigger than President Trump, who won by breaking with GOP orthodoxy on a host of issues like trade and decrying what he railed against as a system rigged by elites. Much of the party, including Hawley, has moved with Trump. But it remains to be seen what the post-Trump GOP looks like.

-- Four months after his swearing-in, Hawley plans to address some of these questions on Wednesday with his maiden speech on the Senate floor. He shared a copy of the latest draft of his speech, which he’s still tinkering with, and we discussed it last night. He sees a political realignment underway, accelerated by Trump, and he’s trying to sketch out a populist vision that he believes matches the moment. The conservative mood has changed, and the appetite for using government to achieve desired ends has grown. So has the hostility toward big business.

“Most people don't want to live a life centered around high-priced wine and cheese and theater tickets and so on. They don't want to start a tech company. They don't want to be a tech billionaire … and there's nothing wrong with that,” Hawley said. “They want to have a life centered around their school and their church, and we need a politics that recognizes that, respects that and makes that way of life possible. And my biggest concern is that that way of life is withering away and, as it withers away, our democracy is in danger because it is that way of life and the great American middle, the middle of our society, that has defined our common citizenship.”

-- For Hawley, “the great middle” is more than geography. It’s a state of mind. The 39-year-old, who defeated incumbent Claire McCaskill in November, said his interactions with people on the campaign trail impressed upon him the depth of anger and the need to do things differently.

“They are angry at Big Tech. They are angry at Big Pharma. They are angry at being ignored by Washington and by the elites. This is why President Trump won the state of Missouri by 20 points,” Hawley said. “It's because they are angry and they don't feel that they have a voice in our politics, in our government or in our society anymore. That is a major, major problem for us as a democracy. … We've got to get a politics that honors that and is focused towards rebuilding and renewing those folks and their way of life. If we do not, then I think we'll probably look back on the rancor and the division of these years and say, 'That was pleasant,' in comparison to what might come.”

-- Hawley believes politics is downstream of culture, and that the culture has become corrupted. “We must put aside the tired orthodoxies of years past and forge instead a new politics of national renewal,” he plans to say, according to his prepared remarks. “We must begin by acknowledging that GDP growth alone cannot be the measure of this nation’s greatness, and so it cannot be the only aim of this nation’s policy. Because our purpose is not to make a few people wealthy, but to sustain a great democracy, and so we need not just a bigger economy, but a better society.”

“We must repair the torn fabric of our common life,” he will add. “We need a politics that prioritizes strong marriages and encourages strong families, where children can know their parents. … We need strong schools and churches and co-ops because these are the things that make liberty possible, for liberty is more than selling or buying or the right to be left alone.”

-- Hawley grew up in Lexington, Mo., population 4,500, studied American history at Stanford University, attended Yale Law School and clerked for Chief Justice John Roberts. That’s how he met his wife, a fellow clerk named Erin Morrow. After three years of practicing law in D.C., they moved to Missouri. He taught constitutional law at Mizzou, got elected Missouri’s attorney general in 2016 and jumped into the Senate race months later. In November, he denied McCaskill a third term.

-- Hawley has made waves since arriving on Capitol Hill in January. The latest fight he picked is against Candy Crush. Yes, the children’s game. He introduced a bill last week to prohibit video games popular among kids from offering “loot boxes,” or randomized assortments of digital weapons, clothing and other items that can be purchased for a fee. These video games also would be banned from offering “pay to win” schemes, where players must spend money to access additional content or gain digital advantages over rival players. Hawley said such games exploit children, and that government should step in to stop them.

-- The conservative senator is open to breaking up Facebook. “All options should be on the table,” he told me. “We may need to break them up. That might be the right move from an antitrust perspective and from a policy perspective. I'm not sure about that. What I do know is that the Facebook business model of extracting information from consumers without telling them, monetizing it without their permission and then getting them addicted to your products so that you can make billions of dollars is not something that we should have going forward. We need to have a conversation as a society about whether this is really the best that we can do. … Silicon Valley needs to do better, and this had better not be the future of the American economy. Because, if it is, we're going to be in big trouble.”

-- He wants to change the debate about the role of technology in society. “My great worry is that Silicon Valley might truly come to define our future economy, which is an economy that works for a small group of people who are billionaires and then everybody else gets their information taken from them and monetized,” he said. “Are these social media platforms and the business model that animates them really good for our economy and our society? We need to ask those questions. We shouldn't just say, 'Oh, well they exist. So therefore they must be fine.' They're not fine! Their social effects are deleterious. Their economic effects are highly questionable. We need to have that conversation.”

-- Hawley also argues that society’s drift toward “the Uber economy” is a nightmare for the people he represents in the Show Me state. “Uber is paying its drivers 60 cents a mile ... but the cost of wear and tear on the vehicle is 58 cents a mile. That means that the Uber economy is an economy where the driver makes two cents a mile,” he said. “Really? This is the future? We've got to get technology and innovation that actually produce something of value to our economy and our society and doesn't drain away value from the great middle of our society.”

-- Sometimes his diagnosis of the problem — of regular people being left behind by powerful interests — sounds like something you might hear from Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. They too criticize Facebook, Uber and billionaires. But Hawley has a different prescription, and he keeps coming back to culture — not big money — as the root of America’s systemic problems.

-- Hawley said that “big banks, big tech, big multinational corporations — along with their allies in the academy and media — are the aristocrats of our age”: “The new aristocrats seek to remake society in their own image: to engineer an economy that works for the elite and few else, to fashion a culture dominated by their own preferences. These modern aristocrats often claim to be a meritocracy. Many of them truly believe they are. What they don’t see, or won’t acknowledge, is that the society they have built works primarily for themselves. They’ve effectively run this country for decades, and their legacy is national division and national decline. They live in the United States, but they consider themselves citizens of the world. They operate businesses or run universities here, but their primary loyalty is elsewhere, to their own agenda for a more unified, progressive and profitable global order.”

-- In his view, Republicans have focused too much on promoting the selfish ideal of rugged individualism at the expense of the selfless virtue of communitarianism. “Individuals find control over their own lives and opportunities for their own lives in healthy communities,” the senator explained. “I don't see the two as being an opposition. In fact, I think it's one of the great mistakes of the last 30 to 40 years to preach a politics of unfettered individualism, that individuals can create and re-create themselves and should be able to choose their own destinies without family or tradition or community impinging in any way. This leads to the breakdown of community, the breakdown of the family and the breakdown of the neighborhood. And those are the very institutions that actually give individuals control over their lives and give them a sense of agency and empowerment to change their world.”

-- Hawley said many problems come down to a question of who respects who. “The crisis reaches well beyond economics,” he said. “Being a free person, being an American, isn’t just about what you can buy. It’s about the pride that comes in supporting a family. It’s about contributing something of worth to your community. It’s about being able to look a neighbor in the eye and know you’re his equal. It’s about respect, and too many Americans aren’t getting it anymore. They’re certainly not getting it from our elite-driven culture: The media, Hollywood and academia relentlessly press their values and priorities on the rest of us. … They idealize fame and preach self-realization through consuming more stuff. … That has produced, predictably, a good deal of dislocation and alienation and rightly so. People feel that they are not respected, that they are not heard, and it's produced what I do believe is the great crisis of our time.”

-- Hawley is especially focused on the problems afflicting rural America, where life expectancy is declining, especially for women without high school degrees. Missouri contains several of the poorest counties in America, in rural areas that once boasted thriving small towns. He ran up the score in places like the Bootheel on his path to victory last fall.

-- The senator has been thinking about these themes for a long time, but he started putting pen to paper over the Easter holiday. His wife’s mother unexpectedly passed away on her ranch in New Mexico, so Josh and Erin Hawley drove across the country with their two sons: Elijah, 6, and Blaise, 4. “I've gone through many different drafts trying to get it to the place where I feel like I'm saying what it is I want to say,” he said. “I'm trying to speak to the needs of our time but also the hopes of our time. … I hope it's kind of a call to arms, because the future is here.”

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-- Montana Gov. Steve Bullock has joined the 2020 presidential race. Michael Scherer reports: “Bullock made his announcement in a video released early Tuesday that castigated what he called ‘evidence of a corrupt system all across America that serves campaign money, not the people.’ … ‘I believe in an America where every child has a fair shot to do better than their parents,’ said Bullock, who was expected to hold a public event later Tuesday. ‘But we all know that that kind of opportunity no longer exists for most people; for far too many, it never has. That’s why we need to defeat Donald Trump in 2020 and defeat a corrupt system that lets campaign money drown out the people’s voice so we can finally make good on the promise of a fair shot for everyone.’ … A former chairman of the Democratic Governors Association who now chairs a national group of governors, Bullock, 53, has criticized the Democratic Party for focusing too much on its base voters and not enough on reaching out to Republicans and independents. In Montana, a rural state that tends to be less polarized in its voting patterns than others are, Bullock won reelection in 2016 by four points even as Trump won the state by 20.”

-- For those keeping count: There are now 23 Democrats running for the presidency. 

-- “At a meeting of Trump’s top national security aides last Thursday, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan presented an updated military plan that envisions sending as many as 120,000 troops to the Middle East should Iran attack American forces or accelerate work on nuclear weapons,” the New York Times’s Eric Schmitt and Julian Barnes report.

The revisions were ordered by hard-liners led by John R. Bolton, Mr. Trump’s national security adviser. They do not call for a land invasion of Iran, which would require vastly more troops … The development reflects the influence of Mr. Bolton, one of the administration’s most virulent Iran hawks, whose push for confrontation with Tehran was ignored more than a decade ago by President George W. Bush. … The 120,000 troops would approach the size of the American force that invaded Iraq in 2003. Deploying such a robust air, land and naval force would give Tehran more targets to strike, and potentially more reason to do so, risking entangling the United States in a drawn out conflict.

Defense Department and senior American officials said Mr. Bolton sought similar guidance from the Pentagon last year, after Iranian-backed militants fired three mortars or rockets into an empty lot on the grounds of the United States Embassy in Baghdad in September. In response to Mr. Bolton’s request, which alarmed Jim Mattis, then the defense secretary, the Pentagon offered some general options, including a cross-border airstrike on an Iranian military facility that would have been mostly symbolic. But Mr. Mattis and other military leaders adamantly opposed retaliation for the Baghdad attack, successfully arguing that it was insignificant.”

Bottom line: Mattis has been gone for six months now, and Shanahan is just an acting secretary who has not been confirmed yet by the Senate. So this gives Bolton and other hard-liners in the West Wing even more influence. 

-- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo crashed a meeting of European foreign ministers in Brussels yesterday to push for a united transatlantic front against Tehran. Michael Birnbaum and Liz Sly: “Pompeo’s last-minute decision to visit the European Union capital, announced as he boarded a plane from the United States, set up a confrontation between the top U.S. diplomat and his European counterparts, who have been scrambling to save the 2015 Iran nuclear deal in the wake of the U.S. withdrawal last year. At least one, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, said he feared that unintentional escalation from the United States and Iran could spark a conflict — an unusually bold statement that appeared to assign equal culpability to Washington and Tehran. … Neither Saudi Arabia nor the United Arab Emirates produced photographs to support claims that Saudi tankers had incurred ‘significant damage.’ The incidents did not cause any casualties or oil spills, according to a statement by Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih.”

-- A senior arms control official and Iran hawk resigned from the State Department after being in the position just over a year. John Hudson and Paul Sonne report: “The State Department on Monday did not offer a statement explaining the planned departure of Yleem Poblete, the assistant secretary of state for arms control, verification and compliance. Her departure, which is expected to take effect in the coming weeks, creates a vacancy as the Trump administration faces major new threats and challenges specifically related to arms control. … During her tenure, Poblete clashed with her boss, Undersecretary of State Andrea Thompson, Vice President Pence’s former national security adviser, said the officials and aides familiar with the infighting. In particular, disagreements surfaced over the State Department’s report on international compliance with arms control accords.


  1. Jimmy Carter underwent surgery to repair his hip, which he broke in a fall at his Georgia home. The Carter Center said the surgery was successful and that the former president is recovering at Phoebe Sumter Medical Center in Americus, Ga. “President Carter said his main concern is that turkey season ends this week, and he has not reached his limit,” the Carter Center said in a statement. “He hopes the State of Georgia will allow him to rollover the unused limit to next year.” (Felicia Sonmez)

  2. Felicity Huffman pleaded guilty to fraud conspiracy in the college admissions scandal. The actress tearfully told a federal judge that her daughter had no knowledge of a scheme to pay $15,000 to improve her SAT score. (Karen Weintraub and Nick Anderson)

  3. Two sightseeing planes crashed off the coast of Alaska, killing at least four people and leaving two missing. The 14 passengers had come from a Royal Princess cruise ship on a seven-day trip from Vancouver, B.C., to Anchorage. The planes crashed about 1 p.m. local time yesterday near George Inlet in southeast Alaska. (New York Times)

  4. An airport employee jumped out of a van to take a picture of German Chancellor Angela Merkel as her plane landed, but the employee forgot to put on the hand brake, causing the vehicle to crash into the aircraft. No one was injured, but the nose of Merkel’s jet is damaged. (The Local)

  5. A federal judge ruled that the Coast Guard lieutenant accused of plotting a terrorist attack will remain jailed while he awaits trial. The decision reverses a magistrate judge’s earlier decision to release Christopher Paul Hasson on home arrest given that he is not currently facing any terrorism charges. But U.S. District Judge George Hazel said Hasson’s “history and characteristics” should prevent him from being let out. (Lynh Bui)
  6. Robert Kraft won a court victory after a judge decided to suppress video footage of him in a massage parlor. The footage seemed crucial to the case against the New England Patriots owner, who’s been accused of soliciting prostitution. (Des Bieler
  7. The White House requested an additional $1.6 billion to spend on NASA’s moon mission. Trump said he wants to restore NASA’s “greatness.” (Christian Davenport)
  8. The Wisconsin Republican Party’s finances are in bad shape after going all in for Scott Walker, who lost. The state GOP has been racking up $600 a month in interest on a maxed-out credit card. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
  9. Submissions have started pouring in for the international competition to replace the iconic spire at Notre Dame that was lost in last month’s fire. Many submissions envision replacing the cathedral’s wooden beams with steel and glass, while others have proposed making the roof a public space to take in a panoramic view of Paris. (Olivier Laurent)

  10. Thousands of parents named their children after the “Game of Thrones” character Daenerys Targaryen, a decision (spoiler!) they might be regretting now. The popular character, known by her royal title of Khaleesi, inspired at least 3,500 American parents to name their baby girls after her, a name that may now be marred by the happenings of Sunday's episode of the HBO series. (Christopher Ingraham)

China plans to impose tariffs on $60 billion worth of U.S. goods, the finance ministry said on May 13. (Video: Reuters)


-- The Trump administration is moving to slap tariffs on roughly $300 billion more of Chinese imports, a jolt to the global economy that could raise prices for everyday products such as phones, TVs and sunglasses. David J. Lynch, Taylor Telford, Damian Paletta and Gerry Shih report: “'There will be price hikes at Target, Costco, Home Depot and Walmart,’ said Nelson Dong, a partner with Dorsey & Whitney in Seattle. ‘The importers are going to pass on some or all of the tariff to the consumer and that will become much more readily apparent and harder to mask.’ With hopes fading for an early resolution of the year-long U.S.-China trade dispute, the president said he would meet Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 leaders summit in Osaka, Japan, on June 28-29. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC that the two sides remained in ‘ongoing’ negotiations. ‘I love the position we’re in,’ the president told reporters.”

-- Republican senators representing the farm belt are still backing Trump's trade war, despite punishing new tariffs from China on the agriculture sector. CNBC’s Brian Schwartz reports: “Farmers will see the most pain from the tariff increases that target a wide range of agricultural products. The tax on these goods, which will not go into effect until June 1, is in retaliation for the Trump administration’s decision on Friday to increase duties on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports to the U.S. from 10% to 25%. Senator Chuck Grassley, the Iowa Republican, backed the president after China announced retaliatory measures on products such as frozen spinach, natural honey, and potassium sulfate, which is often used in fertilizers. As of 2017, the U.S. Department of Agriculture listed Iowa as the second largest agricultural producer. … Senator Mike Rounds, R-SD, in an interview on Fox Business said farmers in his state are taking a hit from the trade deliberations but explained his constituents believe the president will find a way to make a deal with China.”

-- The Dow tanked 617 points, or nearly 2.4 percent. Thomas Heath reports: “The blue-chip index slumped to its lowest close since January. ‘Investors have reassessed the trade issue,’ said Howard Silverblatt of S&P Dow Jones Indices. ‘They weren’t factoring enough risk into it.’”

-- The gay dating app Grindr fell victim to U.S.-China tensions. CNN’s James Griffiths reports: “The United States doesn't trust a Chinese company to own gay dating app Grindr and will force it to sell by 2020. … Beijing Kunlun Tech acquired a 60% stake in Grindr — which describes itself as ‘the world's largest social networking app for gay, bi, trans and queer people’ — in 2016 and was expected to take the app public after completing the acquisition last year. … Kunlun said it had reached an agreement with CFIUS to sell the app by June 30, 2020. Until then, the firm says Grindr will not transmit any sensitive information to China, though it is not clear how that will be enforced.”

The Supreme Court ruled May 13 that consumers could forge ahead with a lawsuit against Apple over the way it manages its App Store. (Video: Reuters)


-- Brett Kavanaugh and the four liberals on the Supreme Court teamed up to rule against Apple, allowing a lawsuit targeting its App Store to proceed. Tony Romm and Robert Barnes report: “The 5-4 decision allows device owners to proceed with a case that alleges Apple has acted as a monopoly by requiring iPhone and iPad users to download apps only from its portal while taking a cut of some sales made through the store. … The court’s opinion ... did not rule on the merits of the lawsuit itself. ‘Apple’s line-drawing does not make a lot of sense, other than as a way to gerrymander Apple out of this and similar lawsuits,’ Kavanaugh wrote. … Apple long has taken a commission on every paid app sold through this portal, rankling some developers that essentially see it as a tax.”

-- Apple’s loss sent shock waves across Silicon Valley, threatening a new surge of consumer lawsuits that could erode the power of the tech industry. Tony Romm and Reed Albergotti report: The ruling “could open the door for similar actions against a wide array of other companies such as Amazon, Google and Microsoft, all of which had urged the Supreme Court to side with the iPhone maker in legal briefs submitted by their top Washington advocates last year. … ‘I would expect a bunch more cases to be filed against a bunch more companies,’ said Avery Gardiner, a top competition expert at the Center for Democracy and Technology, a Washington-based think tank. ‘There are other people who have app stores. Google has an app store. Somebody is going to be looking hard for practices that might have had effects on the prices in the Google app store.’”

-- Joe Biden said breaking up tech giants like Facebook is “something we should take a really hard look at.” The AP’s Hunter Woodall reports: “While Biden didn’t fully embrace her proposal — saying it’s ‘premature’ to make a final judgment — he praised [Elizabeth] Warren and said she ‘has a very strong case to be made’ for cracking down on tech giants. … Regardless of whether Facebook is ultimately broken up, Biden [said], the Trump administration hasn’t done enough to enforce antitrust laws in a variety of industries.”

-- WhatsApp calls have been used to inject Israeli spyware onto phones, which can then be monitored. CNBC’s Kate Fazzini reports: “WhatsApp confirmed the vulnerability of its app but did not name the perpetrator. … The Financial Times named Israel-based cybersecurity company, NSO Group, for the incident. WhatsApp has already indicated the attack looks as though it was conducted by a private company that works with governments to deliver spyware, and a ‘select number’ of users were targeted.”

-- Many cashiers fear they’re going to lose their jobs because of automation. There are still more than 3 million cashier jobs in the United States, but at least 50,000 of these jobs have gone to machines in the past five years. (NBC News)


-- Taking a long view, this was probably the most consequential story from yesterday: The Supreme Court’s conservative majority voted to overturn a 40-year-old precedent. Robert Barnes reports: “The issue in Monday’s 5-to-4 ruling was one of limited impact: whether states have sovereign immunity from private lawsuits in the courts of other states. In 1979, the Supreme Court ruled that there is no constitutional right to such immunity, although states are free to extend it to one another and often do. But the court’s conservative majority overruled that decision, saying there was an implied right in the Constitution that means states ‘could not be haled involuntarily before each other’s courts,’ in the words of Justice Clarence Thomas, who wrote Monday’s decision. … Liberals are worried about what other court precedents the newly fortified conservative majority will find wrongly decided. Justice Stephen G. Breyer had other issues — abortion rights, for instance, or affirmative action — in mind in his dissent. It is ‘dangerous to overrule a decision only because five Members of a later Court come to agree with earlier dissenters on a difficult legal question,’ Breyer wrote, adding: ‘Today’s decision can only cause one to wonder which cases the Court will overrule next.’”

-- Is Roe v. Wade next on the chopping block? The Alabama Senate will vote today on an abortion bill that would effectively outlaw the procedure in the state, which could set up a test of the precedent. Despite the chamber’s conservative majority, the vote is expected to be close, as some Republican lawmakers have expressed hesitation about supporting a bill that doesn’t make exceptions for rape or incest. (Emily Wax-Thibodeaux)

-- Last-minute decisions over executions have exposed a wide and bitter rift at the high court. Robert Barnes reports: “Decisions on last-minute stays usually come with only a minimum of reasoning. But three justices issued a set-the-record-straight opinion that took aim at one of [Breyer’s] dissents from a month ago. Breyer had said that the court’s conservatives deviated from ‘basic principles of fairness’ in refusing to take more time to consider the plea of an Alabama murderer, Christopher Lee Price, who had asked to be executed by inhaling nitrogen gas rather than risk a ‘botched’ lethal injection. … The back-and-forth exposes raw feelings among the justices over the death penalty and whether it can be carried out in an equitable manner. The catalyst seems to have been Kavanaugh’s replacement of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy. Kennedy was not seen as a reliable vote either for liberals, who often but not always are willing to delay executions for another look, or conservatives, who seem to have had enough of last-minute requests for stays from inmates whose crimes were committed long ago.”


-- Attorney General Bill Barr tapped U.S. Attorney John Durham to investigate the origins of special counsel Bob Mueller’s probe, capitulating to Trump's demand that he “investigate the investigators.” Matt Zapotosky and Felicia Sonmez report: “Barr picked Durham in recent weeks to work on the review, which is designed to ensure the U.S. government’s ‘intelligence collection activities’ related to the Trump campaign were ‘lawful and appropriate,’ a person familiar with the decision said. Barr had confirmed the review publicly, though the person leading it was not previously known. … Durham was confirmed as a U.S. attorney in February 2018 and had previously earned a reputation as a dogged career prosecutor tapped by previous attorneys general for other high-profile roles. In 1999, Attorney General Janet Reno appointed Durham to investigate law enforcement corruption in Boston, and more recently, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. called on him to investigate the treatment of CIA detainees and the destruction of videotapes.”

-- Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) encouraged Donald Trump Jr. to avoid questions from the Senate Intelligence Committee by pleading the Fifth. Karoun Demirjian and Mike DeBonis report: “‘You just show up and plead the Fifth and it’s over with,’ Graham told reporters Monday, adding that Trump Jr.’s lawyer would ‘have to be an idiot’ to let him testify again. ‘This whole thing is nuts,’ Graham continued. ‘To me, it’s over.’ … [Graham’s comments are] a remarkable display of one Republican Senate panel chairman undercutting another’s work by dispensing free legal advice to a witness in an ongoing investigation — and reflects a greater GOP divide about whether the Senate should hold Trump Jr. in contempt if he continues to flout the Intelligence Committee’s subpoena.”

-- Trump Jr.’s decision not to show up for scheduled interviews with the Intelligence Committee, despite volunteering to do, led to the subpoenas. Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), the panel’s chairman, told colleagues this last week during a GOP lunch as he pushed back against a pressure campaign from the president’s son to back down. (New York Times

-- A court filing reveals that former Trump campaign adviser Rick Gates is still cooperating with the feds in the prosecution of Roger Stone and former Obama White House counsel Gregory Craig. Spencer S. Hsu reports: “The disclosure came in a joint filing Monday to delay Gates’s sentencing made by the office of U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu of the District and by Gates’s attorney, Thomas C. Green. The filing departed from several similar joint requests since November by confirming two cases in which Gates’s cooperation had been expected. Previously, both sides referred only to his cooperation in ‘several ongoing investigations’ without specification.”

-- Former deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein criticized Jim Comey as a “partisan pundit” in a speech, defending the memo he wrote to justify Trump's termination of the former FBI director. Matt Zapotosky reports: “Speaking to the Greater Baltimore Committee just days after stepping down as the Justice Department’s No. 2 official, Rosenstein fired back at criticism that he acted inappropriately for [Trump] and sought to present his legacy as one of an official who was thrust into a political maelstrom and did what he thought was right. ... Rosenstein seemed to minimize the effect Comey’s firing could have had on the inquiry. He said that when a White House lawyer first told him Trump had decided to fire Comey, ‘Nobody said that the removal was intended to influence the course of my Russia investigation.’ ‘I would never have allowed anyone to interfere with the investigation,’ he asserted, though he conceded later that he ‘recognized that the unusual circumstances of the firing and the ensuing developments would give reasonable people cause to speculate about the credibility of the investigation.’”

-- Trump’s strategy of resisting subpoenas will face its first test today, as a federal judge is poised to rule on the House Oversight Committee’s subpoena of an accounting firm’s stash of Trump’s financial records. (Politico)


-- Shortly before the president purged them, top Homeland Security officials challenged Trump’s plan for mass family arrests. Nick Miroff and Josh Dawsey report: “In the weeks before they were ousted last month, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and top immigration enforcement official Ronald Vitiello challenged a secret White House plan to arrest thousands of parents and children in a blitz operation against migrants in 10 major U.S. cities. … Vitiello and Nielsen halted it, concerned about a lack of preparation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, the risk of public outrage and worries that it would divert resources from the border. Senior Trump adviser Stephen Miller and ICE Deputy Director Matthew Albence were especially supportive of the plan, eager to execute dramatic, highly visible mass arrests that they argued would help deter the soaring influx of families. … DHS officials said the objections Vitiello and Nielsen raised regarding the targeted ‘at large’ arrests were mostly operational and logistical and not as a result of ethical concerns about arresting families an immigration judge had ordered to be deported.”

-- A new analysis undercuts Trump's false claims that a rise in undocumented immigrants corresponds to increased levels of crime. The Times’s Anna Flagg reports: “A large majority of the areas recorded decreases in both violent and property crime between 2007 and 2016, consistent with a quarter-century decline in crime across the United States. The analysis found that crime went down at similar rates regardless of whether the undocumented population rose or fell. Areas with more unauthorized migration appeared to have larger drops in crime, although the difference was small and uncertain. … For undocumented immigrants, being arrested for any reason would mean facing eventual deportation — and for some a return to whatever danger or deprivation they’d sought to escape at home. … Preliminary findings indicate that other socioeconomic factors like unemployment rates, housing instability and measures of economic hardship all predict higher rates of different types of crime, while undocumented immigrant populations do not.”

-- Jared Kushner is selling his inexperience as an asset to solving the immigration debate and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, astounding those who have spent decades working on the intractable issues. Kushner has been talking up his immigration plan with the aid of a PowerPoint presentation, which detractors have derided as laughably simplistic,” Politico’s Eliana Johnson and Burgess Everett report. “Kushner has ramped up his private briefings and public comments since the departure this winter of White House chief of staff John Kelly. … Kushner also viewed the conclusion of [Mueller's] probe as a personal victory and a green light to ramp up his public presence in D.C., allies say. His longshot policy efforts have the blessing of acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, who made clear when he took the reins from Kelly that he would not get in Kushner’s way.”

-- Nearly 100 people were charged in association with an alleged sham marriage ring operated out of the Houston area. The Houston Chronicle’s Jay R. Jordan reports: “Law enforcement with several federal agencies investigated the ring for nearly a year, allegedly led by 53-year-old Ashley Yen Nguyen, AKA Duyen. Prosecutors claim individuals paid Duyen up to $70,000 to help organize illegitimate entry into the United States through sham marriages with United States citizens.” 


-- The Philippine midterm elections delivered a resounding endorsement of and mandate for Rodrigo Duterte’s presidency, which has been marked by extrajudicial killings and a drift toward authoritarianism. Regine Cabato reports: “Winners of Monday’s vote will allow Duterte to consolidate power and push through some of his most controversial policies — allowing children as young as 12 to be tried like adults and continuing a brutal war on drug peddlers and users — despite international condemnation. The president himself was not running, but had made his picks clear. Twelve senate seats, 200 representatives of the lower house and thousands of other positions were up for grabs. Early unofficial results show a landslide defeat for the opposition. Liberal candidates who ran on platforms of justice and inclusion lost to former police chief Ronald ‘Bato’ Dela Rosa, who oversaw the drug war, and Imee Marcos, the daughter of deposed president Ferdinand Marcos. The two were among the senatorial candidates who got the most votes, and will almost certainly be among 12 senators elected Monday.” It's a reminder that many people are looking to strongmen in this era of disillusionment.

-- Hungary’s hard-right leader Viktor Orban visited the White House, where Trump shrugged off concerns about Hungary’s slide into authoritarianism and human rights abuses. Anne Gearan reports: “Seated beside Orban in the high-backed gold chairs he uses to receive foreign visitors, Trump said Orban has ‘done a tremendous job in so many ways’ and has ‘kept his country safe.’ ‘Highly respected,’ Trump continued. ‘Respected all over Europe. Probably like me a little bit controversial, but that’s okay.’ … The Oval Office invitation is a coup for Orban, who has shrugged off his outcast status in Europe but is seeking a measure of rehabilitation ahead of elections to the European Parliament next month. The Trump administration has largely shrugged off Orban’s anti-democratic actions and said that the invitation is less an embrace of a like-minded figure and more about heading off Orban’s drift toward U.S. competitors Russia and China.”

-- Pompeo will meet with Vladimir Putin today in an attempt at striking better relations between the U.S. and Russia. Carol Morello reports: “We are not going to solve these issues overnight, but … we have to be engaging to create opportunities for progress,’ a State Department official told reporters in advance of Pompeo’s departure. The official said they are taking a ‘realistic approach’ to a full range of disagreements that have undermined U.S.-Russian relations.”

-- The Venezuelan opposition’s attempt at ousting President Nicolás Maduro, led by Juan Guaidó, was a failure. Anthony Faiola has the best tick tock yet to chronicle how it fizzled.

-- Protesters camping in the Venezuelan Embassy in D.C. have been issued an eviction notice. Marissa J. Lang reports: “It was the first step in what many thought would be the forcible removal of the demonstrators, who have been living inside the embassy since April 10. But instead, a stalemate returned. … As of 10 p.m., no activists had been removed from the embassy.”

-- North Korea is demanding the return of a cargo shipped seized by the U.S. The Times’s Choe Sang-Hun reports: “American prosecutors say the North Korean ship, the Wise Honest, was used to export coal and import heavy machinery in violation of sanctions imposed on the North over its nuclear arms program. The ship was detained in Indonesian waters by the authorities there in April of last year, and its seizure by the United States was announced last week. The ship has since been taken to American Samoa. ‘The United States’ action is an extension of its calculation aimed at subjugating us through the so-called maximum pressure and flatly denies the spirit of the June 12 Joint North Korea-U.S. Declaration where both sides agreed to build new relations,’ the North Korean Foreign Ministry said in a statement, referring to the broad agreement reached between Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim at their first meeting, in Singapore.”

-- The president will reportedly present the “Trump Cup” to the winner of a sumo tournament when he visits Japan later this month. David Nakamura reports: “Trump’s state visit near the end of May coincides with the final day of the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament, and Trump is expected on May 26 to present a custom-made trophy to the victor at the Ryogoku Kokugikan, the sumo hall in the capital city, according to a report in the Asahi Shimbun, citing Japanese government officials. … Experts said it is not unusual for sumo champions to receive special awards from foreign dignitaries, private companies and provincial officials across Japan. But, they emphasized, the awards are typically named after a country or business, rather than an individual.”

-- The U.S. denied a visa to a senior Palestinian official who was scheduled to travel here this week. Hanan Ashrawi, a top official in the Palestine Liberation Organization, said she believes she was rejected for political reasons. (AP)

-- Guatemala is the only country that followed Trump’s example and moved its embassy to Jerusalem. (Haaretz)


-- Bill Nye, the famously zany scientist known for his PBS show that introduces children to scientific concepts, is talking about global warming now, and he is in no mood to mess around. Reis Thebault reports: “Gone was the Nye of the ’90s, the man whose show was a middle school substitute teacher’s secret weapon. This was the Science Guy of 2019, delivering a sermon aimed directly at the legions of Gen Xers and Millennials who were weaned on Nye’s brand of wacky pedagogy. And he had a message for his erstwhile pupils, especially those who eventually became members of Congress. ‘Grow up,’ he said, injecting some more language that wouldn’t fly in public broadcasting. ‘You’re not children anymore. I didn’t mind explaining photosynthesis to you when you were 12. But you’re adults now, and this is an actual crisis; got it?’”

-- Authorities concluded that a mosque in New Haven, Conn., was set on fire intentionally this weekend. From the Hartford Courant’s Zach Murdock: “The fire just before 4 p.m. Sunday at the Diyanet Mosque on Middle Avenue rendered the building uninhabitable at the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which includes daily fasting from dawn to sunset and ends with the major holiday Eid al-Fitr.”

-- Last week, Trump found time to tweet about an obscure House bill that would give a Massachusetts Indian tribe control of 321 acres of land to use for a gambling casino. His decision to weigh in on the bipartisan measure doomed the plan, but a closer look into the deal shows ties between the proposal and the many Trump-related interests it was connected to. Marc Fisher reports: “Trump’s decision to weigh in on a measure that had strong bipartisan support seemed unusual for a chief executive who doesn’t like to be bothered with the little stuff. But a closer look at House Resolution 312 and the favor it would do for the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe reveals a sprawling network of Trump-related interests, from the National Enquirer to a Rhode Island casino company — a small but strikingly intricate example of the ways this president’s business dealings, personal bonds and political alliances can complicate and color the ordinary doings of government.”

-- Trump Tower is now on the list of New York City's least-desirable luxury buildings. (Bloomberg News)

2020 WATCH:

-- Former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman has requested to join a lawsuit alleging pay discrimination by Trump's 2016 campaign. Katie Mettler reports: “Alva Johnson, an Alabama woman who worked for the Trump presidential campaign for all of 2016, alleged in February that Trump kissed her without her consent at a campaign rally in Florida. Johnson, who is black, also alleged in the original lawsuit that Donald Trump for President Inc. paid her less than her white and male colleagues with similar job titles and responsibilities. … Monday’s filing by Johnson’s attorneys, which asks the judge to certify the suit as a collective action, provides more information about those pay discrimination allegations. It includes an initial pay study conducted by Phillip M. Johnson, an economist and managing director of Econ One Research, which found that, on average, female campaign staffers were paid 18.2 percent less than their male counterparts between May and December 2016. … In a statement, Manigault Newman said the suit addresses the ‘gender pay gap’ that exists not just between women, but between people of color and their white counterparts.”

-- Bernie Sanders’s anti-establishment message is clashing with the aid he is receiving from outside groups. The Wall Street Journal’s Julie Bykowicz reports: “One of his top messages [in 2016] was opposition to outside groups that are unaffiliated with campaigns yet support candidates with money from donors they don’t reveal. Yet, in this campaign, two such outside groups that he set up, structured in the style he has decried, have already helped Mr. Sanders. … Together, the groups have spent more than $5 million since late 2016 on an agenda that promotes progressive policies and candidates—chief among them Mr. Sanders. In a Democratic presidential primary field of more than 20 candidates, Mr. Sanders joins only [Biden] as having founded outside groups that now aid their presidential runs.”

-- Sanders and Warren are both actively seeking the endorsement of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). Politico’s Holly Otterbein and Alex Thompson report: “Sanders' team [said] that he and Ocasio-Cortez ‘have had phone calls.’ Ocasio-Cortez's work on Sanders' 2016 campaign — and the fact that several staffers from that bid went on to work for her and the pro-Ocasio-Cortez group Justice Democrats — suggest the Vermont senator has the inside track for her coveted endorsement. But [Warren] is making an aggressive pitch for Ocasio-Cortez's nod, too: She’s met with her privately and wrote a gushing essay about her for Time magazine.... Landing Ocasio-Cortez's endorsement would be a coup for Warren; even getting her to hold off on formally backing Sanders might be considered a win. For Sanders, an endorsement from her would symbolize that he was consolidating his grip on the left wing of the party even with Warren, a fellow progressive populist, in the race.”

-- “What Do Native Americans Want From a President?” by David Montgomery: “As the field of presidential contenders seems to grow larger each week, Indian Country is wearily anticipating another round of genuflections to the ‘sovereignty of tribes’ and the ‘special government-to-government relationship’ between the United States and this land’s First Nations. If campaign history is any guide, those lofty principles will trip off candidates’ tongues. But how would candidates apply those ideals to make concrete improvements in people’s lives? After hundreds of years of cruelty, indifference and insufficient good intentions, what is left for a candidate to say that could allow Native Americans to suspend their disbelief?”

-- North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District will hold its GOP primary today for the do-over election that was called after officials uncovered ballot fraud in last year’s race, and Republicans are hoping to avoid a runoff. The Wall Street Journal’s Valerie Bauerlein reports: “Avoiding a four-month runoff would be a boon to the Republican candidate, who will face Democrat Dan McCready in the fall. Mr. McCready had $1.6 million in cash on hand as of April 24, according to federal filings, and has been campaigning for the seat since spring 2017.” State Sen. Dan Bishop and Union County Commissioner Stony Rushing, who owns a gun range, are seen as the top candidates in the primary.


Trump started the day off by, once again, tweeting about China:

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) reacted to the news that Trump is considering sending 120,000 troops to Iran: 

A billionaire hedge fund manager responded to Trump's claims that some people just don't get” his trade policy:

Trump joined fellow Republicans in accusing Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) of being insensitive about the Holocaust:

Tlaib accused Republicans of twisting her words after two GOP House leaders falsely said that the freshman Democrat told an interviewer she has a “calming feeling” when thinking about the Holocaust:

The House majority leader came to Tlaib's defense:

A Times reporter recalled instances when Trump used dirt from foreign countries in the 2016 election:

Another Times reporter noted this pattern:

Pete Buttigieg is still having trouble reaching black voters: 

The head of Google’s editorial side is done with the cryptic posts and comments from men dealing with the Russia investigation:

A reporter for the Mexican newspaper Reforma highlighted this comment from Kamala Harris:


-- BuzzFeed News, “YouTube’s Newest Far-Right, Foul-Mouthed, Red-Pilling Star Is A 14-Year-Old Girl,” by Joseph Bernstein: “Soph’s scripts, which she says she writes with a collaborator, are familiar: a mix of hatred toward Muslims, anti-black racism, Byzantine fearmongering about pedophilia, tissue-thin incel evolutionary psychology, and reflexive misanthropy that could have been copied and pasted from a thousand different 4chan posts. … By now, we’re used to this stuff coming from grown men — some of whom have even used the platform as a launching pad for political aspirations. But Soph is a child. Despite the vitriol of her words and her confidence in delivering them, she’s still just a 14-year-old kid. And hearing this language lisped through braces, with the odd word mispronounced as if read but never before said, is clarifying.”

-- The Atlantic, “The Damage That Harvard Has Done,” by Conor Friedersdorf: “Its shameful capitulation to popular passions began earlier this year, when Ronald Sullivan, an African American law professor and faculty dean with a long history of freeing marginalized innocents from prison, announced that he would be working as a defense attorney for the disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. … Sullivan was verbally abused and the residence where his family lives was vandalized with graffiti. … Harvard administrators were warned about the unavoidable conflict between upholding an important civic norm … and giving in to the demands of the undergraduates most aggrieved by their faculty dean’s choice of clients. And rather than infer a responsibility of the extremely privileged to uphold civic norms for the benefit of those in society who most need them, this institution, which purports to educate future leaders, chose to prioritize transient discomfort felt by its most aggrieved students.”


“Trump claims White House visit is the anti-SI jinx after Red Sox’ 3-0 streak,” from Cindy Boren and Neil Greenberg: “A .500 team going into Thursday’s visit at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, [the Red Sox] promptly swept a three-game weekend series with the Seattle Mariners. And here’s one explanation for that modest winning streak: ‘Has anyone noticed that all the Boston @RedSox have done is WIN since coming to the White House!’ Trump tweeted Monday morning. ‘Others also have done very well. The White House visit is becoming the opposite of being on the cover of Sports Illustrated!’ … Since the Red Sox visited the White House on May 9, four other MLB teams are undefeated: the Astros (3-0), Pirates (3-0), Braves (3-0) and Mets (2-0). Among those five, the Mets have been the most impressive, outscoring opponents, 15-3. … Boston’s wins came at home at the expense of the 20-23 Mariners, who are now third in the American League West.”



“‘Worst Mayor Ever’: Escalator-riding protesters crash de Blasio’s event at Trump Tower,” from Felicia Sonmez and John Wagner: “On Monday, [New York Mayor Bill] de Blasio held an event in the foyer of Trump Tower to tout the New York City Green New Deal. Flanked by supporters holding ‘NYC Green New Deal’ signs, de Blasio, who is weighing a 2020 White House bid, declared that he was putting the president’s family business on notice for not cutting greenhouse emissions. Then the protesters showed up. ‘Well, everybody, the Green New Deal — the New York City Green New Deal is here to stay,’ de Blasio told the crowd, while behind him a small group of Trump supporters could be seen riding the escalators. Waving and holding signs reading ‘Trump 2020,’ ‘Failed Mayor,’ ‘LGBT for Trump’ and ‘Worst Mayor Ever,’ the protesters rode up and down the escalators, over and over again, providing some enthusiastic counterprogramming as de Blasio delivered his remarks.”



Trump will travel to Hackberry, La., where he will take a tour of the Cameron LNG export facility and speak about “promoting energy infrastructure and economic growth.” He will then fly to Metairie, La., for a roundtable with supporters and a fundraising reception.


“There will be some sacrifice on the part of Americans, I grant you that, but I also would say that sacrifice is pretty minimal compared to the sacrifices that our soldiers make overseas, that our fallen heroes who are laid to rest in Arlington make.” – Republican Sen. Tom Cotton on how Trump’s tariffs would affect farmers in his home state of Arkansas. (CBS News)



-- It’s not yet time to leave your jacket at home, but we’re getting close. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Hang in there. This soggy, dreary, chilly buzzkill of a pattern is finally breaking free for better weather with a mostly dry day today, and then sunny and milder tomorrow. The warmth continues to build later this week, setting the stage for what could be our warmest and nicest weekend so far this spring!”

-- Some D.C. residents will soon be able to issue parking tickets on their own as part of a pilot program. WTOP’s Keara Dowd reports: “The Citizen Safety Enforcement Pilot Program is part of a larger 'Vision Zero' omnibus bill introduced by Ward 6 Councilman Charles Allen last week. ‘It would start small,’ Allen told FOX5. ‘Just 10 people per ward to be trained, make sure that they’re ready to go.’ Those selected would then use an app from the city to take a picture of the infraction on their phone.”

-- The prestigious D.C. Catholic school Georgetown Visitation has sparked a community debate with its decision to start including announcements of same-sex unions in its alumnae magazine. Joe Heim reports: “The decision, which stands in contrast to official church teaching on gay marriage, was greeted with a mixture of responses by the school community. Some called it ‘beautiful’ and ‘overdue.’ Others labeled it a ‘great disappointment.’ In some quarters, there was unhappiness it took so long for the school to reach this point, while a smaller number expressed anger that the school was veering from Catholic doctrine.”


Seth Meyers looked into Trump's meeting with the Hungarian prime minister and his escalating trade war with China: 

Trump wants to rename his trade war with China to “trade negotiation,” and Stephen Colbert doesn't think that's a great idea: 

Pete Buttigieg slow-jammed the news with Jimmy Fallon:

And this family tried to make it into the White House: