POLITICO Playbook: Trump purged DHS. Now, the real fight begins. – POLITICO
THE PRESIDENT AND THE WHITE HOUSE are fond of saying that it’s Democrats who are standing in the way of a big-time rewrite of the nation’s immigration laws. Next time he tries to squarely blame Democrats, we should ask him this: “How did purging the top officials at DHS move you closer to an immigration overhaul?”
THE PRESIDENT has been stymied by both the legislative process and his own administration. If you’re a vulnerable Republican senator, how do you feel about the president vowing to get tougher at the border?
– WAPO’S SEUNG MIN KIM: “Grassley warns White House not to oust any more top immigration officials”: “The most senior Senate Republican is warning the White House not to oust another top immigration official, making appeals to the administration against dismissing Lee Francis Cissna, the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, amid a purge of Homeland Security leaders.
“In an interview with The Washington Post, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) said he was ‘very, very concerned’ regarding reports that Cissna could be next in a series of rapid-fire DHS dismissals that began late last week when the White House suddenly pulled the nomination of Ronald Vitiello, who had been tapped as director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“‘One, those are good public servants,’ Grassley said Monday evening, after rumors of Cissna’s potential exit percolated all day. “Secondly, besides the personal connection I have with them and the qualifications they have, they are the intellectual basis for what the president wants to accomplish in immigration.” WaPo
– BURGESS EVERETT, JOHN BRESNAHAN and MELANIE ZANONA: “Trump’s DHS purge floors Republicans”: “‘It’s a mess,’ Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said, summing up the dynamic on the border and in Washington.
“‘Strikes me as just a frustration of not being able to solve a problem. Honestly, it wasn’t Secretary Nielsen’s fault. It wasn’t for lack of effort on her part. I don’t know if there’s anybody who’s going to be able to do more,’ said Cornyn, who spoke to Nielsen on Monday and planned to speak to her interim replacement, Kevin McAleenan, later in the day.
“‘I thought that Nielsen was doing a fantastic job,’ added Joni Ernst of Iowa, the No. 5 Senate GOP leader. ‘I would love to see some continuity. I think that’s important.’” POLITICO
WHAT THIS ALL MEANS … NYT A1: “Trump Signals Even Fiercer Immigration Agenda, With a Possible Return of Family Separations,” by Michael Shear, Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Maggie Haberman: “President Trump’s purge of the nation’s top homeland security officials is a sign that he is preparing to unleash an even fiercer assault on immigration, including a possible return of his controversial decision last summer to separate migrant children from their parents, current and former administration officials said Monday. …
“But the longer term effect of the eruption of Oval Office frustration is likely to be a burst of hard-line policies that stand out even in an administration that has pursued an unprecedented series of executive actions and rules changes aimed at reducing legal and illegal immigration into the United States.
“In addition to urging Mr. Trump to revisit the idea of family separation, several of the president’s closest immigration confidants have been pushing him to consider even harsher measures. Those include further limits on who can seek asylum; stronger action to close ports of entry along the Mexican border; an executive order to end birthright citizenship; more aggressive construction of a border wall; and a more robust embrace of active-duty troops to secure the border against illegal immigration.
“In an administration that is famous for chaos and last-minute decision-making, it is unclear on which of those policies the president might choose to move forward. But by removing Ms. Nielsen, Mr. Vitiello and perhaps others, Mr. Trump is getting rid of voices who sometimes cautioned him against taking actions they believed to be illegal or unwise.” NYT
BUT, BUT, BUT … Meanwhile, in Palm Beach: “At Trump’s Florida Resort Empire, a Quiet Effort to Eliminate an Undocumented Work Force,” by NYT’s Miriam Jordan, Annie Correal and Patricia Mazzei
– “House Dem, experts question legality of Trump move to replace Nielsen,” by JOSH GERSTEIN and STEPHANIE BEASLEY: “[I]n a letter to Trump on Monday, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) wrote that ‘the law of succession at the Department is clear’ that upon Nielsen’s departure the temporary duty to lead the agency would pass to Undersecretary for Management Claire Grady.
HOW TRUMP FIRES PEOPLE — DANIEL LIPPMAN and ANDREW RESTUCCIA, “‘I would have preferred not to have been ejected like an Austin Powers villain’: From Nielsen to Mattis to Mooch, an optics-obsessed president narrates exits.” POLITICO
Good Tuesday morning. “THE HILL TO DIE ON” is in stores everywhere today. JAKE and ANNA will sit down with NYT’S MAGGIE HABERMAN at Murmrr Ballroom in Brooklyn tonight at 7:30 to talk about the book, and news of the day. The event … Order the book
SPOTTED: Former Virginia A.G. KEN CUCCINELLI, who has been mentioned as a potential nominee for DHS secretary and is a 1991 U.Va. grad, hanging out with hundreds of other U.Va. basketball fans at the Marquette Hotel in downtown Minneapolis, before Monday night’s NCAA national championship.
Asked if he had been contacted about being on the short list for DHS secretary, he said he was “just here rooting for U.Va. tonight,” according to our tipster. Pic
HOT POLL … “Biden still tops Democratic field after rough week,” by Steven Shepard: “The spate of negative stories about Joe Biden’s interactions with women hasn’t upended the former vice president’s standing as presumptive 2020 Democratic frontrunner, according to the first national poll of the presidential field conducted since the controversy erupted.
“The survey, from Morning Consult, finds Biden still atop the list of other candidates with the support of 32 percent of voters who say they intend to participate in a Democratic primary or caucus next year. He is 9 points ahead of the next closest candidate: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), at 23 percent.” POLITICO
– “Early state Dems stand by Biden,” by Natasha Korecki and Chris Cadelago
HOT SEAT … BILL BARR faces Capitol Hill, via ANDREW DESIDERIO and KYLE CHENEY: “Democrats plan to use hearing to press Barr on Mueller report”: “House Democrats plan to grill Attorney General William Barr about his handling of special counsel Robert Mueller’s final report when he appears before an Appropriations subcommittee on Tuesday morning.
“The hearing is ostensibly focused on the Justice Department’s budget, but it will be Barr’s first public appearance since crafting a four-page summary of Mueller’s findings. Members of Mueller’s team were reportedly frustrated with the summary, claiming it doesn’t accurately represent their 22-month investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and potential Trump-Russia collusion.
“Democrats plan to lean heavily into Barr’s decision-making process in crafting the summary.” POLITICO
– SECRETARY OF STATE MIKE POMPEO will also appear before the Senate Appropriations Committee today.
HOW TO THINK ABOUT BIBI … Israeli P.M. Benjamin Netanyahu is up for re-election today against what many believe to be a dream team of former defense officials who banded together to take down the Israeli premier. During this campaign, Netanyahu has floated annexing the West Bank. Was he just posturing? Or will he use the rest of Trump’s tenure to lock in whatever diplomatic gains he can with a kindred spirit in the White House?
– L.A. TIMES’ NOGA TARNOPOLSKY in Jerusalem: “Netanyahu says Trump named Iran’s Revolutionary Guard a terrorist group at his request” LAT
– Front page of the Adelson-owned Israel Hayom: “IT’S IN YOUR HANDS” … The front page, with Netanyahu at the Western Wall and Gantz taking a selfie
2020 WATCH … AND THEN THERE WERE 18: ERIC SWALWELL announced his presidential run Monday night. Because sure, why not?
– ESQUIRE’S @ryanlizza: “Swalwell was in the same 2012 House class as Beto O’Rourke and Tulsi Gabbard. They are all friends and are now all running for president.” … NYT’S ALEX BURNS points out that Beto, Swalwell and Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) all came to D.C. after taking out Democratic incumbents.
– AP’S SARAH BURNETT: “LGBT donors helping Pete Buttigieg defy 2020 expectations”
– FLASHBACK … June 17, 2015, Indiana: “When WSBT 22 asked [Mike] Pence what he thought of Buttigieg’s announcement, he replied, ‘I hold Mayor Buttigieg in the highest personal regard. We have a great working relationship. I see him as a dedicated public servant, and a patriot.’” WSBT
THE JUICE …
– JOHN ROGERS, who served as executive director of the NRCC during the 2018 cycle, is launching TORCHLIGHT STRATEGIES with longtime ad-maker JASON MEATH. The firm will focus on TV and digital creative work, general consulting and public affairs. More from Scott Bland
– DEPT. OF NEVER TOO EARLY — The RNC transferred $540,000 to the Committee On Arrangements For The 2020 Republican National Convention.
TRUMP’S TUESDAY — Trump will participate in the arrival and then hold a bilateral meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in the Oval Office at 12:05 p.m. The two will participate in an expanded working lunch in the Cabinet Room at 12:35 p.m. Sisi will depart at 1:35 p.m.
BREXIT LATEST — With the big deadline now just three days away, British P.M. Theresa May is meeting separately with her European counterparts Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron today to beg for yet another extension. Parliament finally passed a Brexit deal late Monday, but she needs more time to work through the details. CNN … More from London Playbook
MAR-A-LAGO IMBROGLIO — Yujing Zhang, the 32-year-old Chinese woman accused of unlawfully entering Trump’s Florida retreat, was found with four cellphones, a hard drive, “a thumb drive infected with malware,” “a radio frequency device that detects hidden cameras,” “nine U.S.B. drives and five SIM cards,” “several debit cards” and “about $8,000 in cash.”
She hasn’t been charged with spying (yet), though: “After the authorities determined that the event she said she had come to attend did not exist, she was arrested and charged with lying to a federal officer and accessing a restricted area.” NYT
– N.Y. Post cover: “MAR-A-HARI” — @nypost
– MORE on Zhang’s bail hearing from the Miami Herald, which has been all over this: Miami Herald
THE ARAB SPRING IS BACK, according to NYT’s David Kirkpatrick: NYT
TRADE WARS — “U.S. Moves to Impose Tariffs on $11 Billion of EU Goods,” by WSJ’s Josh Zumbrun: “The U.S. has been in litigation at the World Trade Organization over the case of Airbus subsidies since 2004, and said it was releasing a list of items proposed for tariffs in anticipation of a ruling soon from the WTO on the case.
“‘This case has been in litigation for 14 years, and the time has come for action,’ said Robert Lighthizer, the U.S. Trade Representative. ‘Our ultimate goal is to reach an agreement with the EU to end all WTO-inconsistent subsidies to large civil aircraft. When the EU ends these harmful subsidies, the additional U.S. duties imposed in response can be lifted.’
“Though the tariffs are in response to the WTO case, the move is sure to ratchet up tensions between Washington and Brussels, where negotiators have struggled for nearly a year to make progress on proposed trade talks.” WSJ
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS WITH JOE BIDEN — LILLY JAY in SLATE: “Holding hands with the vice president felt a little odd—when was the last time I had held hands with anyone? But I didn’t experience it as intrusive or unsettling. I remember later being disappointed that most of the press pictures of me that day captured some degree of physical contact with either the vice president or president. I could have sworn there was a moment I stood on my own.” Slate
PHEW … NBC WASHINGTON: “A Maryland man stole a U-Haul van with the intent of using it as a weapon in an ISIS-inspired plot against pedestrians at National Harbor, the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office said. …
“The accused, 28-year-old Randall Henry of Germantown, ‘wanted to create the kind of ‘panic and chaos’ that happened in France … According to prosecutors, Henry said, ‘I was just going to keep driving and driving. I wasn’t going to stop.’” NBC … Read the complaint
SANCTIONED — Late Monday evening, the State Department barred 16 Saudis from visiting the U.S. for their alleged roles in the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Missing from the list: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is widely believed to have signed off on the hit.
TOP-ED — State Department Iran envoy BRIAN HOOK in the NYT: “The peoples of the United States and Iran should have diplomatic ties. We can foresee a new American Embassy in Tehran issuing visas to tourists, business travelers, and teachers. There should also be direct flights from Tehran to New York or Los Angeles. Before the revolution, America was Iran’s second-largest trading partner. It should be again.” NYT
VALLEY TALK — Facebook and Google execs face questioning today by the House Judiciary Committee about how they’re handling white supremacist content on their platforms. (hat tip: The Hill)
MEDIAWATCH — NUNES SUES MCCLATCHY, via Fox News’ Gregg Re: “House Intelligence Committee ranking member Devin Nunes filed a $150 million lawsuit in Virginia state court against The McClatchy Company and others on Monday, alleging that one of the news agency’s reporters conspired with a political operative to derail Nunes’ oversight work into the Hillary Clinton campaign and Russian election interference.
“The filing, obtained by Fox News, came a day after Nunes, R-Calif., revealed he would send eight criminal referrals to the Justice Department this week concerning purported surveillance abuses by federal authorities during the Russia probe, false statements to Congress and other matters.” Fox News
– D.D. Guttenplan has been named the top editor of The Nation. Per Morning Media: “Guttenplan, a longtime Nation writer and editor, succeeds Katrina vanden Heuvel, who has served as top editor for 25 years.” She will become editorial director and continue as publisher. POLITICO
– Chris Lehmann has been named editor of The New Republic. He most recently was a consulting editorial director at the publication and also editor-in-chief of The Baffler. He’ll remain an editor-at-large for The Baffler. (J.J. Gould was the most recent editor until he resigned in December.)
– Peabody award nominees will be announced later today @PeabodyAwards.
SPOTTED: Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) flying coach on an American Airlines flight to D.C. from Las Vegas on Monday. They were seated in opposite rows and greeted each other and fellow passengers as they passed by them, per two tipsters. … Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) on Monday night at Cafe Milano. Former Rep. Newt Gingrich was there earlier with two men.
BIRTHWEEK (was Sunday): MacKenzie Bezos turned 49
BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, who first visited D.C. only about nine years ago when he was 46 years old, is 55. How he’s celebrating: “My day job keeps me busy — even on birthdays. But on Tuesday night I’m looking forward to spending time with my sons and wife at an event where Ben Shapiro will be headlining. We’re big fans!” Playbook Plus Q&A
BIRTHDAYS: Joe Scarborough is 56 … Jeff Zucker is 54 … Alex Witt, host of “MSNBC Live with Alex Witt” on weekends … Alex Anderson … Cynthia Nixon is 53 … Katie Dowd … Interior’s Caroline Boulton … Larry Kamer (h/t Jon Haber) … David MacKay … POLITICO’s Alexandra Manzano and Molly Dunphy … Mike Berman, president emeritus of Duberstein Group, is 8-0 … The Hill’s Miranda Green … Elizabeth Santorum … Neal Kemkar … Brad Perseke, a partner at GMMB … Samantha Cotten, press secretary for America Rising (h/t Sarah Dolan) … Marathon Strategies’ Ross Wallenstein is 41 … WJLA’s Brett Holton … Jon Silvan, founding partner and CEO of Global Strategy Group (h/t Erin Billings) … former Swiss President Alain Berset is 47 …
… Amy Dudley, chief spokesperson for the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative … Stephanie Dreyer … Lucia Graves of The Guardian … GOP operative Dennis Lennox … Paul Jhin … Roy Ramthun … Todd Foley, SVP for policy and gov’t affairs at American Council on Renewable Energy … Christopher Turman, SVP of National Strategies, is 48 … Frank Gargon, a former Joe Kennedy staffer and president of the Andean Group (h/t Chris Lapetina) … Facebook’s Brittany Uter … Ali Aslan … Emma Allen … Jill Gershenson-Cohen … Allen Jamerson … Rob Green … David Mork … Jeff Kepnes, senior EP for specials at MSNBC … Ryan Webb is 49 … Gregory Flap Cole … Bonnie Campbell … Eric Norrby (h/ts Teresa Vilmain)