With Breanne Deppisch
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THE BIG IDEA: Donald Trump blinked first – again.
After the bluster comes the inevitable bow to reality. Last night the president backed off his demand that any deal to fund the federal government include money to start construction on his border wall. At an event with conservative journalists, Trump said he’s okay waiting until September to have this fight.
While the mainstream media will cover this as another failure, the president’s core supporters will not see it that way. They see someone fighting to keep his promises and will give him an “A” for effort.
Elites routinely blast Trump for focusing too much on his base, rather than extending an olive branch to moderates who didn’t support him last November or reaching across the aisle to Democrats.
These critiques have validity, but the president’s focus on paying his respects to the populists who powered his unexpected victory — whether rhetorically or with executive orders — is paying dividends 96 days into his term that should not be ignored. It has helped solidify his firewall of support and prevented any cracks from forming in his coalition.
Trump’s approval rating is at record lows, but he maintains credibility with his base. Our new Washington Post/ABC News poll shows that his overall approval rating is 42 percent, but his rating among those who voted for him is 94 percent. Only 2 percent of his voters now regret doing so.
Especially after all his recent flip-flops on everything from NATO to China, the president is working to convince his supporters that he’s keeping his promises and getting things done. In our poll, 56 percent say Trump hasn’t accomplished much. Of those, 47 percent blame him while about a quarter blame congressional Republicans. Only 7 percent blame Democrats.
Trump’s posture in the border wall fight reflects a desire to shift those numbers. Immigration is one of the few populist rallying cries he has not backed away from. “My base definitely wants the border wall,” Trump told the Associated Press last Friday. “You’ve been to many of the rallies? The thing they want more than anything is the wall. … That wall’s getting built, okay? One hundred percent.”
Even after he realizes the border wall is infeasible, he is unlikely to ever acknowledge it publicly because it was such a central rationale of his candidacy. “I will build a great wall,” Trump promised in his June 2015 announcement speech. “And nobody builds walls better than me, believe me. … And I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.” (The Huffington Post created a timeline tracking his promises on the wall over the past two years.)
– The president’s aides have convinced him that he can present a little bit of money for border security, especially technology and more agents, as a victory. And he will avert a government shutdown that would have raised questions about his competence and basic leadership ability, especially with the GOP in total control of Washington. Trump has already begun taking credit for a drop in illegal border crossings and a reduction in crime along the border. He says his tough enforcement policies are deterring many from trying to enter the country.
– These dynamics mean that the White House is walking a delicate tightrope this week. While Trump is talking tough for the benefit of his base, his team has been trying to soothe the jittery nerves of Republican establishmentarians and graybeards around town. Administration officials yesterday backed off some of the ominous language they used on the Sunday shows. During his briefing, Sean Spicer said the money for the wall was always more of a priority than a demand. He also said he was “very confident” that an agreement would be reached by Friday. Compare that to what Trump was posting on Twitter around the same time:
The Wall is a very important tool in stopping drugs from pouring into our country and poisoning our youth (and many others)! If
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 24, 2017
….the wall is not built, which it will be, the drug situation will NEVER be fixed the way it should be!#BuildTheWall
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 24, 2017
The Democrats don’t want money from budget going to border wall despite the fact that it will stop drugs and very bad MS 13 gang members.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 23, 2017
– Democratic leaders are fine appropriating money for border security, even though they know it lets Trump save face, but they are insisting on language that guarantees it will not be spent on a wall, so that they don’t get hammered by their own left flank.
– Republicans tried to make a trade. The White House wanted $1.5 billion now for construction, and $2.6 billion more in the fall. Administration officials offered money for insurance subsidies under the Affordable Care Act if Democrats would go along with cash for the wall. But Democrats stayed united, and GOP negotiators backed off.
– The biggest reason Trump is caving: There is no appetite among Republican leaders in Congress for this fight right now. Trying to help their president save face, they too are working to define Trump’s campaign promise down, arguing that any form of border security would fulfill it. From a story on the funding fight by Philip Rucker, Robert Costa and David Weigel:
- “I think you’re going to get a down payment on border security generally,” said Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), a key appropriator and member of Senate leadership. He explained that “there could be a wall in some places and technology in other places,” implying that there would not be funding for the wall sketched out in campaign rhetoric.
- “There will never be a 2,200-mile wall built, period,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a supporter of immigration reform who faced Trump in the 2016 primaries. “I think it’s become symbolic of better border security. It’s a code word for better border security. If you make it about actually building a 2,200-mile wall, that’s a bridge too far — but I’m mixing my metaphors.”
– A good window into why GOP leaders are skittish: Polls consistently show that most Americans do not want a border wall. Kristine Phillips and Scott Clement review the important numbers from four surveys conducted in 2017:
- WaPo-ABC News: Sixty percent of adults oppose building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, while 37 percent support it. Nationally, 47 percent are “strongly” against the wall. Three-quarters of Trump voters support it, while 91 percent of Hillary Clinton voters don’t.
- Pew Research Center: The nonpartisan organization found in February that only 29 percent think a wall would lead to a “major reduction” in illegal immigration. An additional 25 percent think it would lead to a “minor reduction,” while 43 percent don’t think it would have much effect. Another key finding: 70 percent think the United States would ultimately foot the bill. Only 16 percent said they think Mexico will pay for the wall.
- Gallup: This poll from January found that a majority of Americans would rather see other campaign promises fulfilled. Sixty-nine percent think Trump should renew the country’s infrastructure. More than half want him to reduce income taxes, establish tariffs on imports and deport illegal immigrants with criminal records. Forty-six percent want Obamacare repealed and replaced. Only 26 percent say a wall should be a priority.
- Quinnipiac University: Five polls conducted over the past months show that an increasing number of voters oppose building a wall, and that support for a wall has been waning. In November, 55 percent were opposed, while 42 percent were in support. By March and April, 64 percent said they were opposed, while 33 percent said they were in favor.
– Karen Tumulty wrote a fantastic profile of Rep. Will Hurd, one of the most outspoken Republican critics of Trump’s border wall, for The Post’s front page: “The vast, volatile 23rd Congressional District of Texas is bigger in area than 29 states. It stretches from San Antonio to El Paso and includes about one-third of the entire U.S.-Mexico border. (Trump’s proposed wall would cover 820 miles in the district, much of it on private property.) The district’s overwhelmingly Latino electorate last year went for Hillary Clinton in the presidential race. … Hurd narrowly won a second term in what turned out to be the most expensive House race in Texas history. Democrats have put Hurd’s seat in their top five targets in 2018. He will also be running to beat the fickle tendencies of a district that has ousted four different incumbents since 2006….
“A scorching, dusty morning last week found the 39-year-old congressman in the desert outside El Paso, at the dedication ceremony of a project he has championed for two years. A border crossing was being renamed in honor of World War I’s most decorated Texan, a Mexican immigrant named Marcelino Serna. The 5-foot-6 Serna volunteered for the Army to avoid deportation, and at one point he single-handedly captured 24 enemy soldiers and killed 26 in France. That his Mexican citizenship made him ineligible for the nation’s highest military accolade, the Medal of Honor, has long been a sore point with El Paso-area veterans. It was lost on no one there that Hurd was standing just a few hundred yards from where Trump’s wall would go. Currently, there is a fence, which local residents say has been effective in stemming illegal traffic.”
Hurd says the wall would be an inefficient, impractical and wasteful “one-size-fits-all” means of controlling illegal immigration and reducing crime.
In interviews with several dozen of Hurd’s constituents, not one expressed the opinion that building a wall is the best way to control problems on the border: “In Hurd’s district and elsewhere throughout the state, support for enhancing border security runs strong. But there are also fears that a physical wall would violate the property rights that Texans hold dear, and be a kick in the gut to a regional economy heavily dependent on cross-border trade.” (Take the time to read Karen’s full piece here.)
– Hurd and the people he represents are not unique: “Not a single member of Congress who represents the territory on the southwest border said they support Trump’s request for $1.4 billion to begin construction of his promised wall,” according to a survey conducted by the Wall Street Journal’s Laura Meckler and Kristina Peterson. “Most lawmakers representing the region — both Democrats and Republicans — said they are opposed and many said they have unanswered questions. A few were noncommittal, but not a single member offered support.”
FOUR MORE POST STORIES ABOUT THIS FIGHT:
1. The Trump administration has quietly begun scaling back the proposed footprint for the wall, focusing only on the most highly trafficked corridors. A Department of Homeland Security planning document identifies as “high priority” the border sectors of the Rio Grande Valley in the southern tip of Texas — encompassing Rio Grande City, McAllen and Weslaco — as well as El Paso, Tucson and San Diego. “The areas were selected because of their proximity to urban centers and roads, allowing those who cross to vanish quickly,” Tracy Jan and David Nakamura report. “The preliminary plan anticipates adding more than 100 new miles of wall over the next two years, on top of the 700 miles of fencing that already exists, at an initial cost of more than $3.6 billion. The National Border Patrol Council, a union representing Border Patrol agents, hailed the targeted approach as a more practical and effective solution to illegal immigration than a 2,000-mile wall stretching from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico.”
2. Trump’s claim that the wall would halt the flow of drugs is dubious. From Fact Checkers Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Glenn Kessler: The president told the AP last week that the wall will stop “all” the illegal drug smuggling from Mexico to the U.S. “Experts say that drugs are actually shipped through the border on the underside of vehicles that have permits to cross the border in a special lane. ‘As long as the U.S. remains the world’s largest consumer of coke, and as long as Mexico continues to provide it, no wall will ever be able to stop the trade,’ wrote Roberto Saviano in Newsweek.”
3. The funding fight is galvanizing disheartened Democrats. From Amber Phillips: “Democrats have their own divisions to deal with. But opposing Trump’s wall is a near-perfect rallying cry almost everyone in their party can get behind. It’s just too good an opportunity to whack Trump and Republicans in Congress.”
4. Trump’s continued bellicosity may not get the wall built, but it could destabilize Mexico. From Adam Taylor: “Some critics worry that Trump, more used to negotiating cutthroat business deals, may push for a measure that humiliates Mexico or has a major negative effect on its economy (cutting off remittances to Mexico, for example, could be disastrous). Some suspect a hard line from Trump could even propel Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a populist compared by opponents to the late Hugo Chávez, to the Mexican presidency next year.”
THREE FRESH DISPATCHES FROM THE BORDER:
1. “Trump’s border wall faces another challenge with Indian reservation,” by CBS News: “The Tohono O’odham Nation is roughly the size of Connecticut. It straddles 62 miles along the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona. Tribal members live on both sides and are caught in the middle of the border debate. They allowed the federal government to build a vehicle barrier in 2006, but they strongly oppose a wall through their land. The current border fence cuts right through a ranch owned by a tribal family. Their well is now on the Mexican side and a wall would make it impossible to get to.”
2. “Mexico Worries That A New Border Wall Will Worsen Flooding,” by NPR’s Morning Edition: “Mexican engineers believe construction of the border barrier may violate a 47-year-old treaty governing the shared waters of the Rio Grande. If Mexico protests, the fate of the wall could end up in an international court. Antonio Rascón, chief Mexican engineer on the International Boundary and Water Commission, said in an interview that some border wall proposals he’s seen would violate the treaty, and that Mexico would not stand for that.”
3. “Texas border hurt by (EPA) cuts,” by the San Antonio Express-News: “Sewage gushing into the Rio Grande offers a pungent reminder of problems that could worsen under the Trump administration’s plan to reduce the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency budget by nearly a third and eliminate dozens of anti-pollution programs. Joint U.S.-Mexico spending under the 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement – including $650 million in EPA funding for water projects – has helped stop release of millions of gallons daily of Nuevo Laredo wastewater into the river. Despite those investments, an estimated 6 million gallons of untreated sewage flows daily into the river from Nuevo Laredo. … An EPA memo circulating among regional administrators and top staff asserts flatly that U.S.-Mexico border activities will be ‘eliminated’ starting next fall.”
– The New York Times fronts a story this morning about all the immigration hard-liners who have gotten key jobs inside the relevant agencies: “After sending more than 13,000 Twitter messages in less than three years, Jon Feere, an outspoken opponent of illegal immigration, suddenly went silent after Inauguration Day. As a legal policy analyst at the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington-based group that favors significant reductions in immigration, Mr. Feere had staked out tough positions on the subject, including pushing for an end to automatic citizenship for children born in the United States. Mr. Feere’s newfound reticence reflected not a change of heart but a new employer. He now works for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency tasked with finding and deporting people living in the United States illegally. His last Twitter post, on Jan. 20, read simply: ‘It’s time to make immigration policy great again.’”
In many cases, these people don’t just oppose illegal immigration. They’re also against any increases in legal immigration: “Julie Kirchner, who served for a decade as executive director of [FAIR] is now working as an adviser to the commissioner of Customs and Border Protection. Kellyanne Conway … worked regularly as a pollster for FAIR. … Stephen Miller worked tirelessly to defeat immigration reform as a staff member for Senator Jeff Sessions, now the attorney general. Gene P. Hamilton, who worked on illegal immigration as Mr. Sessions’s counsel on the Judiciary Committee, is now a senior counselor at the Department of Homeland Security.… Julia Hahn, who wrote about immigration for Breitbart — with headlines like ‘Republican-Led Congress Oversees Large-Scale Importation of Somali Migrants’ — has followed her former boss, Stephen K. Bannon, to the White House as a deputy policy strategist.”
Historical context: “Daniel Tichenor, an immigration politics scholar at the University of Oregon, called it ‘highly unusual’ in the post-World War II era to have proponents of sharply reduced immigration in such high-ranking positions. ‘You would have to go to the 1920s and 1930s to find a comparable period in which you could point to people within the executive agencies and the White House who favored significant restrictions,’ Mr. Tichenor said.”
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
– Must-see TV: Former acting attorney general Sally Yates will testify on May 8 before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee about Russia’s interference in last year’s elections. Sen. Lindsey Graham will chair the hearing. Yates, who got fired by Trump for refusing to defend his refugee ban, has also been invited to testify before the House Intelligence Committee on May 2. (CNN)
– Arkansas executed two inmates in back-to-back lethal injections Monday night, carrying out the first double execution in the U.S. since 2000. The deaths come just one week after Arkansas issued its first lethal injection in more than a decade — an unprecedented and harried pace that authorities say is propelled by an expiring drug. Mark Berman reports: The second execution Monday night was briefly delayed by a federal judge so she could consider claims that the first lethal injection may have been botched, but she lifted that stay shortly before 9:30 p.m. local time. The second inmate was pronounced dead about an hour later…. These lethal injections marked the first back-to-back executions in the United States since Texas carried out two death sentences in one night nearly two decades ago. Arkansas was also the first state to make such an attempt since a widely publicized [screw up] in Oklahoma in 2014. The two prisoners, Jack H. Jones Jr. and Marcel W. Williams, were both convicted of brutal murders two decades ago, and failed to delay their lethal injections in an appeal to the Supreme Court.”
– Bill O’Reilly shows no contrition. On the night he was scheduled to return to Fox News from vacation, the deposed King of Cable News spoke out on a podcast that went live last night about the sexual harassment allegations that led to his ouster and hinted at a coming campaign to clear his name.
“I am sad that I’m not on television anymore. I was very surprised how it all turned out,” O’Reilly said. “I can’t say a lot, because there’s much stuff going on right now. But I can tell you that I’m very confident the truth will come out, and when it does, I don’t know if you’re going to be surprised — but I think you’re going to be shaken, as I am. There’s a lot of stuff involved here. Now, I can’t say any more because I just don’t want to influence the flow of the information. I don’t want the media to take what I say and misconstrue it.”
The Fix’s Callum Borchers writes that the podcast sounded like the start of “a revenge tour” and forecasts that O’Reilly will portray himself as the victim of a left-wing conspiracy: “It is important to note that there is no clear reason O’Reilly ‘can’t say any more.’ The harassment allegations, chronicled in a New York Times report earlier this month, already have been settled. O’Reilly’s reported $25 million severance from Fox News presumably precludes him from suing the network, so there is no pending litigation that we know of.”
GET SMART FAST:
- A recent decision to tear down four Confederacy-linked statues in New Orleans has provoked such intense backlash that the mayor has ordered they be dismantled in the middle of the night. Workers also wear masks and are protected by police snipers. (Avi Selk)
- Virginia gubernatorial candidate Corey Stewart’s “Confederate-centric” campaign tactics have cost him the endorsement of a longtime political ally, Prince William County Sheriff Glendell Hill, and prompted four of the five Republicans who serve with him on a county board to back his GOP rival. The loss of support comes after Stewart’s participation in a Confederate-themed ball earlier this month, as well as a supporter who flew his plane, streaming both a Confederate flag and a Stewart banner, over an outdoor gathering. (Laura Vozzella)
- Chobani is suing InfoWars founder Alex Jones, after the well-known conspiracy theorist published false information linking the yogurt company to a sexual assault case involving refugee children in Twin Falls. Jones’s false accusations come after news that Chobani owner and Turkish immigrant Hamdi Ulukaya employs hundreds of immigrants and refugees at his company – prompting a barrage of outrage and threats from far-right corners of the internet. (Idaho Statesman)
- Republican student groups at UC-Berkeley are suing the university for cancelling a speech by Ann Coulter over security concerns, charging that the school’s actions “smother the speech” of the conservative “minority.” The back-and-forth comes after university police put the campus on lockdown and canceled a talk by another controversial figure, Milo Yiannopoulos, amid violent protests. (Susan Svrluga and William Wan)
- The Supreme Court is weighing whether defendants being tried for the death penalty are entitled to have a mental-health expert testify on their behalf. At issue is whether poor defendants should have a chance to obtain the kind of expert assistance that wealthy defendants and state prosecutors can afford, rather than relying on testimony from a neutral expert. (Robert Barnes)
- Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in a dissent that the court is developing a “disturbing trend” of siding with police officers accused of excessive force, breaking with seven of her colleagues as she argued that the court should have accepted the case of a man who was shot in the back by a Houston police officer in 2010. Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined her. (Robert Barnes)
- Members of the Writers Guild of America voted overwhelmingly to authorize their union to call a strike as contract negotiations barrel towards a May 1 deadline. If an agreement can’t be worked out, some of the most-loved shows on television may stop production. (Elahe Izadi)
- A recent string of extreme weather events has been substantially shaped by human-influennced global warming, according to a new study. The conclusion comes as scientists have become increasingly adept at analyzing what impact climate change has on bizarre weather patterns. (Chelsea Harvey)
- Four marijuana activists were arrested after lighting joints in front of the Capitol, part of a demonstration urging lawmakers to remove marijuana from the nation’s list of most dangerous drugs. A number of other protestors, also illegally in possession of marijuana on federal land, were not arrested. (Perry Stein)
- In Pennsylvania, real-estate executive and GOP bundler Jeff Bartos joined a growing field of candidates hoping to unseat incumbent Sen. Bob Casey (D) in 2018. Bartos sought to brand himself as a conservative businessman and Casey as an out-of-touch Washington insider, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Dave Weigel noticed that Bartos’s introductory video presented stock images from Hangzhou, China, as coming from D.C.
- A Tennessee teacher accused of abducting a 15-year-old student will be transferred to his home state to face charges after he was arrested in California. His capture ended a five-week manhunt in which the teacher allegedly traveled through nine states and had plans to take the teen girl to Mexico. (Lindsey Bever, Cleve R. Wootson Jr. and Peter Holley)
- In Japan, tattoos are associated with the mafia. Even tourists who are seen sporting body art larger than the size of a band-aid can be denied access to pools, restaurants, and convenience stores. But as Tokyo prepares to host the 2020 Summer Olympics – and the huge number of ink-sporting athletes who will compete – some are seeking to put an end to the bias. (Anna Fifield profiles one.)
– Trump will propose cutting the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent, moving to fulfill one campaign pledge even as he shatters another. Damian Paletta and Robert Costa preview tomorrow’s big announcement: “By doing so — but not committing to measures that would offset the revenue loss — Trump is making clear he is putting a priority on cutting taxes over the national debt. It also potentially creates a tension point with House Republicans, who have spent years advancing a vision for tax restructuring of their own. When Trump proposed the 15 percent rate during the campaign, the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center projected that this would reduce federal revenue by $2.4 trillion over 10 years. But White House officials have said that the tax cuts will create such a jump in economic growth that it will create new revenue, an assumption that has divided experts. If the amount of taxes paid by businesses falls, it could put more pressure on other taxpayers to make up the difference. But Trump has said he wants to put in place a ‘massive’ cut for the middle class, which means all tax revenue could fall.”
- House Republicans have pursued lowering the corporate tax rate to 20 percent.
- Trump’s push for unveiling his tax plan began last week during several meetings in the Oval Office where he expressed his frustration with the slow pace of legislation on several fronts.
- The president urged his top economic advisers to ready a rollout this week and to keep the details of the plan controlled as much as possible by Trump advisers and Cabinet members rather than GOP lawmakers.
– “The disrupter president and the do-little Congress,” by Dan Balz: “Will President Trump and congressional Republicans ever understand one another? Over time, they might accomplish things of mutual interest. Big things, perhaps. But the mismatch between the disrupter president and what has been a business-as-usual, do-little Congress seems especially evident as the 100-day mark of the administration nears. Even with a president of their own party and majorities in the House and Senate, congressional Republicans have been stuck. Trump tries to prod Congress to act, not always forgiving of why things move slowly. Congressional leaders try to educate the president on the limits and culture of the legislative process.”
On Trump’s tax announcement: “What’s coming appears likely to be little more than principles, rather than proposed legislation. Those principles might not go any further than the tax plans he proposed during the campaign. It will be more motion without real action. That’s the difference between the presidency and Capitol Hill. Trump likes to say things and sign things. And so, day after day, surrounded by aides or people from the outside, he makes announcements, or he puts his signature — in big strokes — on official documents, whether executive orders or presidential memorandums. These orders are not without impact, symbolically and eventually practically. He signs them and moves on. … The legislative process doesn’t comport with his approach to governing.”
LAUNCHING A TRADE WAR:
– The White House announced plans to impose a roughly 20 percent tariff on softwood lumber imported from Canada. Ana Swanson and Damian Paletta report: “Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in an interview that his department had reached a preliminary decision to impose the tax, the administration’s first major trade action against our northern neighbor. Ross portrayed the action as a tough measure to punish Canada after [Trump] declared last week that ‘we can’t let Canada or anybody else take advantage and do what they did to our workers and to our farmers.’ ‘What we are doing is dealing with another bad act on the part of the Canadians,’ Ross said. The Obama administration began the review of trade in softwood lumber last year out of concern that Canada was subsidizing its wood industry in a way that hurt U.S. rivals.”
How it works: “The decision to impose what are known as “countervailing duties” in retaliation for Canada’s wood subsidies … is subject to a final review by the International Trade Commission, an independent federal agency that advises the government on trade policy. Yet the decision allows U.S. Customs and Border Protection to begin collecting the funds from Canadian importers immediately. Five Canadian companies were a part of the investigation, and the United States will seek to collect money from four of them retroactively for actions taken in the past 90 days … Ross said this could amount to $1 billion in new tariffs, as well as $250 million in retroactive collections. All other Canadian softwood lumber companies will face the same tariff of 19.88 percent going forward.”
DECONSTRUCTING THE ADMINISTRATIVE STATE:
– Trump is going to sign an executive order on Wednesday instructing the Interior Department to review national monument designations made by his three predecessors – a move that could potentially upend more than two decades of protections put in place in Utah and across the country. Juliet Eilperin reports: “Presidents of both parties have invoked their executive authority under the 1906 Antiquities Act to provide safeguards for federal lands and waters. But some of these moves — including [Obama’s] designation of the 1.35 million-acre Bears Ears National Monument … and Bill Clinton’s 1996 declaration of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, both in Utah, have sparked fierce criticism from Republicans. Members of Utah’s congressional delegation started lobbying Trump shortly after his November win to take unilateral action to undo the designation for Bear Ears, which they said should have been protected instead through legislation.” The White House has not yet indicated whether it will remove protections for the monument.
– Trump coul be shutting down the EPA’s Open Data Web Service – a citizen-linked data tool that provides critical information on health and environmental issues. The Independent reports: “The [EPA’s service] … which stores information on climate change, life cycle assessment, health impact analysis and environmental justice – is to have its funding removed and will no longer be in operation, according to people working on the plan. A pop-up on the site appears to confirm the shutdown, with anyone visiting the Open Data page told that the site will not be operational from Friday. Since this story was first published, that message has been updated to read: ‘The data on this Web site will continue to be available on April 28, 2017.’ The EPA also tweeted to say that the website wasn’t going anywhere … though it seemed to be experiencing occasional outages. If the site does go offline, it will mean that citizens will no longer be able to access information on their environment and climate, keeping them from researching potentially fatal changes to their area.”
– USA Today, “Republicans in Congress push for religious liberty executive order,” by Eliza Collins: “Dozens of Republican lawmakers are asking [Trump] to scale back Obama-era protections for gays and lesbians in order to make good on a campaign promise to protect religious liberty. In early February, Trump was reportedly considering an executive order that would reverse [Obama’s] orders prohibiting discrimination against gays and lesbians in the federal workforce or by federal contractors. But the order was never signed. A group of 51 members of the House wrote to Trump this month [to request he sign the order].” Meanwhile, a senior White House official said Monday that some sort of policy to protect religious liberty is still in the works, but that Trump is “trying to find middle ground.” The official acknowledged it would be a “delicate balance,” adding that discussions were “ongoing” about how best to proceed.
CONFLICTS OF INTEREST:
– The State Department removed its promotion of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort Monday following a storm of criticism. The AP’s Julie Bykowicz reports: “In an April 4 blog post that was republished by several U.S. embassies abroad, Mar-a-Lago was described as ‘Trump’s Florida estate,’ where he has hosted foreign leaders. ‘By visiting this ‘winter White House,’ Trump is belatedly fulfilling the dream of Mar-a-Lago’s original owner and designer,’ the post said. Left unsaid: Mar-a-Lago is part of Trump’s business empire. After his election, the resort doubled its membership fee to $200,000. The State Department said late Monday that its intention was ‘to inform the public about where the president has been hosting world leaders’ and that it regrets ‘any misperception.’ The White House did not respond to questions about whether it had any involvement in the original posting or the decision to take it down.”
The Mar-a-Lago post was nearly three weeks old but gained traction Monday when several people noticed the U.S. embassy to the United Kingdom was featuring it: “Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, asked on Twitter why taxpayers are ‘promoting the president’s private country club’ and referred to the incident as ‘kleptocratic.’ Former Obama-era White House ethics attorney Norm Eisen said the promotion is ‘exploitation,’ comparing it to Kellyanne Conway’s promotion of Ivanka Trump’s clothing business during a West Wing interview earlier this year. ‘This idea of using government for private gain is metastasizing,’ Eisen said. ‘It must be stopped.’ And Richard Painter, who served in the ethics role for Bush, tweeted that the State Department post was, ‘Use of public office for private gain pure and simple.'”
– Ivanka Trump’s eponymous clothing line was relabeled and sold to Stein Mart under a different name, “Adrienne Vittadini Studio.” Business of Fashion reports: The decision to relabel the garments was made by a manufacturing and distribution company, without knowledge of the Ivanka Trump brand, came after several prominent retailers dropped her clothing line.
PERSONNEL IS POLICY:
– The Senate confirmed former Georgia governor Sonny Perdue as Agriculture secretary on Monday, voting 87-11 in his favor. Jose A. DelReal and Caitlin Dewey report: “Perdue, who received thumbs up from hundreds of food and agricultural groups nationwide, faced few obstacles in his confirmation. Still, he may have to contend with deep cuts to the USDA budget proposed by Trump – which could pit him between the White House’s priorities and those of rural and agricultural interest groups across the country.”
– Jeff Sessions vowed not to diminish the Justice Department’s focus on corporate fraud, telling a gathering of white-collar lawyers that his aggressive crackdown on violent crime would not diminish the department’s longstanding mission to prosecute white-collar offenders. Matt Zapotosky reports: “Sessions took aim at recent speculation that his Justice Department might be easier on white-collar crime, saying while there could be ‘some uncertainty’ when administrations changed, he would ‘still enforce the laws that protect American consumers and ensure that honest businesses are not placed at a disadvantage to dishonest businesses.’ He acknowledged that he had been focused in his first weeks on the job on violent crime and immigration but said that did not mean he would give other criminals a pass. ‘These are important priorities for our department,’ Sessions said. ‘But focusing on these challenges does not mean we’re going to reduce our efforts in other areas.’ This was the first time he addressed topics of public corruption and corporate fraud in a significant way since being confirmed as attorney general.”
– Retired Marine general Randolph Alles, who currently serves as the U.S. Customs and Border deput directory, is expected to be tapped to lead the Secret Service. Politico reports: “Alles has served as the acting deputy commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection since Trump’s inauguration. He previously served stints as the CBP’s acting executive assistant commissioner of enterprise services and leading the department’s Air and Marine Operations. Prior to serving in the federal government, Alles served for 35 years in the Marine Corps … [His] expected appointment comes after a search that purposefully looked outside of the Secret Service ranks — and process that hasn’t exactly been popular among former agents. The 6,500-person bureau has its own unique characteristics and culture, which are often best understood by someone who has served on a protective detail.” “Imagine taking a guy from USDA and moving him over to be the commandant of the Marine Corps,” said former deputy assistant director Bill Pickle. “They’re totally different jobs.”
– Former “Fox and Friends” anchor and ABC News correspondent Heather Nauert has been tapped as the State Department spokeswoman. “Heather’s media experience and long interest in international affairs will be invaluable as she conveys the administration’s foreign policy priorities to the American people and the world,” the State Department said in a statement. (Reuters)
– Trump welcomed about 50 people from conservative media organizations to a reception in the Roosevelt Room last night. It was supposed to be on background, a ground rule that was stressed to attendees at the start, but then Trump walked in and declared it on the record. There were people from Breitbart, the Washington Free Beacon, Daily Caller, Christian Broadcast Network, The Eternal Word Television Network, as well conservative radio hosts like Laura Ingraham, Larry O’Connor and John Fredericks, per Politico’s Hadas Gold. “Nearly the entire communications staff were in attendance in addition to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, chief of staff Reince Priebus, chief strategist Stephen Bannon, senior adviser Jared Kushner, National Security Council spokesperson Michael Anton and Deputy National Security Adviser K.T. McFarland.”
– Bloomberg, “Trump Adviser Gorka Walks Off Stage at a Discussion of Fake News,” by Nafeesa Syeed: “[Sebastian Gorka], under fire for his alleged association with a Hungarian nationalist group and his views on Islam, walked off the stage during a conference in Washington after facing questions from students and protesters he said distracted from other participants. Gorka, a deputy assistant to [Trump], was on a panel at Georgetown University on Monday titled ‘News, Alternative Facts and Propaganda: The Role of Cyber in Influence Operations.’ During the question-and-answer period … Gorka said, ‘You are the victims of fake news’ and he called his experience a ‘superb case study of fake news.’ After intense questioning, Gorka said he was leaving the stage ‘to allow my colleagues to actually get questions about the issues on the table.'”
– Huffington Post, “The Guide To Becoming Jared Kushner,” by Ben Walsh: “When Charles Kushner was heading to federal prison in 2005 … his son Jared got some advice from Howard Rubenstein ― the dean of New York damage control ― on how to rehabilitate the Kushner name, Charles would later tell a family friend. Step one: Buy a New York newspaper. Don’t be too particular, Rubenstein told Jared … Any newspaper will do. Step two: Buy a big Manhattan building. Any building will do. Step three: Marry the daughter of a rich New York family. Anyone will do. Whether or not Kushner was indeed working through a checklist, his actions during those years have served him well. They also laid the groundwork for the meticulous public relations strategy that has made possible Kushner’s current paradoxical role in the press, as a blameless yet uniquely powerful member of the Trump administration. ‘I don’t talk to the press,’ he told Forbes in December. But someone is clearly shaping his image in the media as a beacon of moderation, the man working to pull Trump toward consensus-minded policies and socially liberal politics.”
MOSCOW IS MEDDLING:
– The general in charge of U.S. forces in Afghanistan appeared to confirm that Russia is sending weapons to the Taliban – an intervention that will likely deepen complications in the country’s 15-year-war, as well as U.S.-Kremlin relations. Thomas Gibbons-Neff reports: “We continue to get reports of this assistance,’ [Gen. John Nicholson said Monday, speaking to reporters alongside Jim Mattis.] A senior U.S. military official … said the Russians have increased their supply of equipment and small arms to the Taliban over the past 18 months. The official said the Russians have been sending weapons, including medium and heavy machine guns, to the Taliban under the guise that the material would be used to fight the Islamic State in eastern Afghanistan. Instead, the official said, the weapons were showing up in some of Afghanistan’s southern provinces, including Helmand and Kandahar — both areas with little Islamic State presence.” “Any weapons being funneled here from a foreign country would be a violation of international law unless they were coming to the government of Afghanistan,” Mattis said, adding that they would “have to be dealt with as such.” Mattis and Nicholson’s remarks come just days after the Taliban pulled off the single deadliest attack against Afghan security forces since the beginning of the war.
– Emmanuel Macron, the frontrunner for president of France in the upcoming runoff with Marine Le Pen, appears to have been targeted by the same Russian operatives who targeted Hillary Clinton’s campaign ahead of the U.S. election, a cybersecurity firm warns in a new report. The news heightens concerns that Russia may have turned its playbook on France – seeking to bolster Le Pen’s candidacy the final round of voting May 7. The New York Times’ Nicole Perlroth reports: “Security researchers at the cybersecurity firm, Trend Micro, said that on March 15 they spotted a hacking group they believe to be a Russian intelligence unit turn its weapons on Mr. Macron’s campaign — sending emails to campaign officials and others with links to fake websites designed to bait them into turning over passwords. Those websites were registered to a block of web addresses that Trend Micro’s researchers say belong to the Russian intelligence unit they refer to as Pawn Storm, but is alternatively known as Fancy Bear, APT 28 or the Sofacy Group.” American and European intelligence agencies determined that the group was responsible for last year’s DNC hack.
– The Turkish man who gave Michael Flynn a $600,000 lobbying deal just before Trump tapped him to serve as national security adviser has business ties to Russia, including a 2009 aviation financing deal negotiated with Vladimir Putin. Politico’s Isaac Arnsdorf reports: “The man, Ekim Alptekin, has in recent years helped to coordinate Turkish lobbying in Washington with Dmitri ‘David’ Zaikin, a Soviet-born former executive in Russian energy and mining companies who also has had dealings with Putin’s government … This unusual arrangement, in which Alptekin and Zaikin have helped steer Turkish lobbying through various groups since at least 2015, raises questions about both the agenda of the two men and the source of the funds used to pay the lobbyists. The revelation of Russian business ties to the man who hired Flynn — which has not been previously reported — threatens to complicate the White House’s struggle to escape the shadow of the FBI investigation into whether members of the Trump campaign coordinated with Russian agents.”
THE NEW WORLD ORDER:
– The administration announced it will host a private briefing on North Korea for the entire Senate Wednesday at the White House – an unusual event that has prompted some lawmakers to question whether the administration plans to use the event as a photo op ahead of its 100-day mark. David Nakamura and Ed O’Keefe report: “[Sean Spicer] told reporters that the lawmakers would be briefed Wednesday by several senior administration officials, including [Rex Tillerson] and [Jim Mattis]. Yet the White House setting perplexed lawmakers who have grown accustomed to such briefings taking place in a secure location on Capitol Hill, where there is more room to handle such a large group. Past administrations … have traditionally sent high-level aides to Capitol Hill to hold discussions with larger groups in secure underground locations.”
“Congressional staffers suggested that the briefing’s proximity to Trump would make it easy for him to ‘drop by’ and perhaps take over the briefing. The image of senators meeting with Trump at the White House on a top national security concern could be touted by the White House as a key moment in the run-up to Trump’s 100th day in office — a milestone … that his administration is working aggressively to promote. … ‘These briefings are always, always, always done in the SCIF up here,’ said one Senate aide. ‘Does it mean classified information is going to be shared in an unsecured setting? Or that we’re not hearing about classified material?’ Another senior aide said it was Trump’s idea to hold the meeting at the White House.”
– Meanwhile, Trump just postponed the dinner he had scheduled at the White House for all nine Supreme Court judges. Aides cited scheduling conflicts. (Politico)
SIGNS OF ESCALATION:
– Trump spoke by phone to his counterparts in China and Japan on Monday, discussing concerns that North Korea could use a key anniversary Tuesday to stage a provocative missile or nuclear test. Simon Denyer and Anna Fifield report: “In his phone call with Trump, [Chinese President Xi Jinping] called for restraint from both Washington and Pyongyang … but he also stressed that China ‘resolutely opposes activities that violate U.N. Security Council resolutions’ and is willing to work with the United States and other countries to keep the peace. Japan’s [Prime Minister Shinzo Abe] had a 30-minute call with Trump to discuss North Korea, whose actions he called an ‘extremely serious threat’ to international society and to his country.”
In Beijing, the possibility of another missile test is leading to mounting frustration with Pyongyang and an increasingly obvious deterioration in relations with its neighbor: “On Monday, the Global Times newspaper said that if North Korea stages a sixth nuclear test, Beijing would ‘undoubtedly support’ the U.N. in adopting tougher sanctions against the regime, including an embargo on oil exports. … Meanwhile, naval destroyers from Japan started drills with the carrier strike group led by the USS Carl Vinson in the Philippine Sea on Sunday, and the South Korean navy is expected to do the same.”
The Japanese government is preparing its citizens to be ready in case of a missile strike: The prime minister’s office began issuing new “actions to protect yourself” guidelines this week — including for the first time instructions on how to respond if a North Korean ballistic missile is heading toward Japan. But Pyongyang has long had the technology to strike all of Japan. So the guide’s advice isn’t exactly helpful. (Anna Fifield)
– “Behind the Trump administration’s sudden urgency in dealing with the North Korean nuclear crisis lies a stark calculus: a growing body of expert studies and classified intelligence reports that conclude the country is capable of producing a nuclear bomb every six or seven weeks,” the New York Times’ David E. Sanger and William J. Broad report. “That acceleration in pace — impossible to verify until experts get beyond the limited access to North Korean facilities that ended years ago — explains why [Trump] and his aides fear they are running out of time. For years, American presidents decided that each incremental improvement in the North’s program — another nuclear test, a new variant of a missile — was worrisome, but not worth a confrontation that could spill into open conflict. Now those step-by-step advances have resulted in North Korean warheads that in a few years could reach Seattle. ‘They’ve learned a lot,’ said Siegfried S. Hecker, a Stanford professor who directed the Los Alamos weapons laboratory in New Mexico … from 1986 to 1997, and whom the North Koreans have let into their facilities seven times.
“But the North Koreans are discovering — as the U.S., the Soviet Union and China did before them — that it is far more complicated to design an intercontinental missile. To reach their goal, North Korean weapons designers are looking to miniaturize their warheads, making them far lighter and more powerful. How long will it take for the North Koreans to solve those problems? The best guesswork is around 2020 — while Mr. Trump is still in his first term.”
THE MIDDLE EAST:
– A devastating Taliban attack on an Afghan army base last week has shaken up the government in Kabul, forcing resignation of the country’s defense minister and army chief as Defense Secretary Jim Mattis arrived in to survey the deteriorating situation. Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Pamela Constable and Sayed Salahuddin report: “The Taliban, which is contesting control of one-third of Afghanistan, has continued to steadily gain territory and inflict record casualties on civilians and troops since most NATO troops withdrew from the country in 2014. The assault Friday — following a winter of repeated Taliban attacks on strategic cities and towns — adds to concerns that Afghanistan will not be able to defend itself without a major commitment of U.S. support.” With the conflict at a stalemate and no sign that peace talks will resume, it is unclear whether the White House will decide to send in more men or money. “But the continued weakness of the Afghan military adds urgency to a request from Gen. John Nicholson, in charge of U.S. forces here, for additional troops. He has told Congress that about 3,000 more troops are needed.” National security adviser H.R. McMaster is leading a review of U.S. strategy in the country, including troop levels.
— The White House announced that it is imposing sanctions on more than 270 employees of a Syrian government agency that produces chemical weapons and ballistic missiles, blacklisting them from travel and financial transactions in the wake of last month’s sarin attack on civilians. Karen DeYoung reports that the sanctions on members of Assad’s Scientific Studies and Research Center more than doubles the number of Syrian individuals and entities whose property has been blocked by the United States and who are barred from financial transactions with American people or companies.
IS THE E.U. MAKING A COMEBACK?
– “In this era of fiery populism and muscular anti-globalist forces, politicians across Europe are suddenly discovering an electoral surprise. It might actually pay to embrace the European Union,” Griff Witte and Michael Birnbaum report. “The top finisher in the first round of the French presidential election on Sunday is Macron, a [centrist] who is strongly favored to beat his anti-Europe rival, Le Pen, in a May 7 runoff. After years in which the E.U. was the favorite foil for ascendant politicians on the continent, the 28-nation club may be making a comeback despite Brexit and Trump’s euroskepticism…
“The Netherlands’ staunchly pro-European Green Left party quadrupled its support in elections last month. Former European Parliament president Martin Schulz is surging in polls ahead of September elections in Germany. And Macron has promised, if elected, to help lead ‘an ambitious Europe,’ restoring France to a preeminent place in the E.U. after years in which the French role has been diminished by its domestic struggles with unemployment, terrorism and political dysfunction. … For all their concerns about the E.U., voters may be becoming more wary of disruptive European politicians as they watch Trump churn up political turmoil in the United States and Britain solidify its E.U. divorce plans.”
– Still, French voters rejected both traditional parties for the first time in modern political history – making the next round of voting not just a question of governance, but also a question of national identity. Birnbaum and James McAuley report: “With just two weeks left before the next round of votes, Macron is seeking to bolster his appeal among centrist voters, while Le Pen has doubled down on her anti-immigrant rhetoric. And in a ploy to win over leftist voters who share some of her views – including an aversion to the E.U. – Le Pen on Monday temporarily stepped down from her position as the head of the National Front party. Macron is not without obstacles as he enters the runoff – especially if Le Pen can capitalize on the enthusiasm of leftist populists. (Combined, populist voters who said they wanted to ‘overhaul the system’ accounted for 49.8 percent of Sunday’s votes.) Now the question will be whether Macron can seize the moment and convert grudging support into enthusiastic backing.”
– Fun fact: The 39-year-old Macron could become the youngest contemporary French president. He would also be accompanied into the Élysée Palace by his wife, Brigitte, who is 24 years older than he is. From Rick Noack in Paris: “Born as Brigitte Marie-Claude Trogneux, the now 64-year-old is the daughter of a family of chocolatiers who are known for their macaroons. The two first met when Macron was 15 years old at the high school in Amiens where she taught a French and a theater class. ‘Whatever you do, I’ll marry you!’ Macron told her there. Despite reports that the 15-year-old even kissed his then-teacher on the cheek during a theater play, few voters seem to care.”
– British Prime Minister Theresa May has hired Obama’s former deputy chief of staff Jim Messina for her election campaign, reuniting the winning team behind David Cameron’s unexpected victory in 2015. Messina and his colleagues arrived in London this week to begin work on May’s bid – seeking to help her secure a larger Conservative Party majority, as well as a fresh mandate for her vision of “Brexit,” Bloomberg’s Tim Ross reports.
OUT OF HIBERNATION:
– Barack Obama didn’t mention Trump once as he spoke to a group of young voters at the University of Chicago yesterday afternoon in his first public appearance since leaving the White House. He urged attendees to find common ground and overcome divisiveness that has permeated national politics, Amber Phillips and Juliet Eilperin report: “‘The single most important thing I can do is to help in any way prepare the next generation of leadership to take up the baton and to take their own crack at changing the world,’ said Obama, who sat onstage … with a half-dozen Chicago-area activists in their teens and 20s, as dozens more student leaders watched on.”
He admitted that he failed to realize his “aspirational” goal of uniting Americans in red and blue states, but he argued that the country is not as divided as it sometimes seems: “In keeping with his previous vow not to criticize his successor, Obama made little mention of Republicans’ rush to dismantle his legacy back in Washington as quickly as possible. Instead, he focused on political polarization, which he ascribed to gerrymandered electoral districts, money in politics, a politicized media and voter apathy, especially among young people. ‘The one thing I’m absolutely convinced of is: Yes, we confront a whole range of challenges, from economic inequality and lack of opportunity, to the criminal justice system to climate change to issues related to violence,’ he said. ‘All those problems are serious, they’re daunting. But they’re not insolvable. What is preventing us from tackling them and making more progress really has to do with our politics and our civic life.”
– The session marked the start of a series of public appearances Obama will make in the U.S. and abroad – including planned speeches in Boston, Berlin, and Italy.
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Many online took umbrage when they found out about the State Department promoting Mar-a-Lago:
— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) April 24, 2017
Take out “Mar a Lago” and sub in “Clinton Foundation event” and imagine the reaction if State promoted it https://t.co/3tJtkZvYPk
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) April 24, 2017
— Mike Quigley (@RepMikeQuigley) April 24, 2017
Meanwhile, Rep. Rod Blum (R-Iowa) used the hashtag #First100 to promote Trump:
— Congressman Rod Blum (@RepRodBlum) April 24, 2017
Jimmy Carter’s Library is trolling Trump:
Jimmy Carter’s first 100 days..
Laws passed: 22
Executive orders: 16
Approval rating: 63 percent
— Jimmy Carter Library (@CarterLibrary) April 24, 2017
Scott Walker praised the president for siding with Wisconsin dairy farmers in a trade dispute with Canada:
Talked to POTUS on dairy issues. He is ready to take aggressive action.
— Governor Walker (@GovWalker) April 24, 2017
Obama nostalgia was ripe among Democrats as he spoke in Chicago:
In seeing President Obama today, I find it hard to forgive my fellow Americans for giving us Donald Trump and turning us into a pariah. pic.twitter.com/z0aAJTYOaY
— Russell Drew (@RussOnPolitics) April 24, 2017
“I think phones and social media should be eliminated” says HS student on panel w/ Obama. File under “Things you did NOT think you’d hear”
— Emily C. Singer (@CahnEmily) April 24, 2017
Sean Hannity’s friends showed support after a woman accused him of inviting her to his hotel room:
— Michelle Malkin (@michellemalkin) April 24, 2017
— Hugh Hewitt (@hughhewitt) April 24, 2017
On this day in 1943, the first class of Women Air Force Service Pilots graduated from training, paving the way for other women to serve. pic.twitter.com/yQ1KZZY6Qc
— Martha McSally (@RepMcSally) April 24, 2017
The president spoke with her yesterday:
Space Station astronaut Peggy Whitson says they are drinking their own pee
Trump: “That’s good, I’m glad to hear that, better you than me”
— Charlie Spiering (@charliespiering) April 24, 2017
The Capitol police have a new toy:
So does Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.):
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
– New York Magazine, “First, She Survived a ‘Cult.’ Now She’s Running for Office,” by Caitlin Moscatello: “The chicken legs wouldn’t cook right. Chelsea Savage, then 17, could feel tears welling up as she stood over the stove. She would be chastised for this, for not getting the skins crispy enough, for not pleasing the woman who ruled over her … If she lived in a world beyond the confines of a ‘church’ where members were forced to wear Victorian-style clothes and pulled out of school, she’d be like the girls in the magazines she was forbidden to read … But instead she was crying in a kitchen in rural Virginia, her hair pinned up like a turn-of-the-century housemaid. ‘I wasn’t even allowed to use the dishwasher, because then I wasn’t ‘building character,’’ [she said]. That was 1987. It’s hard to imagine that these are the beginnings of a woman who would go on to earn two advanced degrees … much less run for office. And yet this week, Chelsea Savage, now 46, is doing just that — she’s hoping voters in Virginia’s 73rd district will support her bid for the Democratic nomination for state delegate. A Democratic victory would be a major feat, but for Savage — an openly gay single mother who grew up not just poor, but about as far from political pedigree as one can get — it would also be a personal triumph. A signal of how far she’s come.”
HOT ON THE LEFT:
“New Kids’ Book Helps Parents Approach ‘The Talk’ About Police Brutality,” from HuffPost: “In the black community, ‘the talk’ with your children isn’t just that of the birds and the bees ― it’s the one where you explain to them how their skin tone may one day make them a police target. It’s a conversation so difficult that mother, former social worker … Sanya Gragg wanted to help fellow parents navigate it with her recently released book Momma, Did You Hear The News? Gragg, 46, said … her decision to go forth with it came after the police killing of Terence Crutcher last September. ‘I knew there would be many families having ‘the talk’ with their children,’ [said] Gragg … ‘It confirmed that this was my assignment.’ Gragg, who now has two grown sons and a 3-year-old daughter, said that the hardest part of having the talk with her sons was knowing it could only guarantee that they might practice greater caution when confronted by police.” “The most difficult part for me is knowing my sons and yours can do everything right and still end up in a tragic situation,” she said.
HOT ON THE RIGHT:
“Bill Nye’s Bizarre Video On Transgenderism Bombs On YouTube,” from the Daily Caller: “A clip of Bill Nye’s latest television show promotes transgenderism and other gender identities as hard science, and it’s performing horribly on YouTube, as of Monday. [The video] … published on YouTube Sunday, features actress Rachel Bloom singing a song about transgenders … and how sexuality is a fluid concept. The clip comes from an episode of Bill Nye’s show ‘Bill Nye Saves The World.’ ‘Sexuality’s a spectrum, everyone is on it. Even you might like it if you sit up on it,’ Bloom sings on stage. ‘Drag king, drag queen just do what feels right.’ Bloom also delves into a bizarre chant where she laments a world in which you have only two choices between gender identity: male or female. ‘Bill Nye Saves The World’ purports to look at various problems through a more scientific perspective, according to the International Movie Database.”
At the White House: Trump will travel to the Capitol to give remarks and participate in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s National Days of Remembrance. Later, he will travel back to the White House to meet with Steven Mnuchin and have a meeting on tax reform. Following that, the president will participate in a farmers’ roundtable and signing of the Executive Order Promoting Agriculture and Rural Prosperity in America. Afterward, POTUS will meet with H. R. McMaster and then have dinner with Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.
The White House just launched a new web site to tout Trump’s accomplishments in the first 100 days.
After a little over nine-hours flight, Air Force Two landed at Joint Base Andrews at 6:38 a.m. from Hawaii. “During the flight, the Vice President came back briefly to speak off the record, but the flight was otherwise uneventful,” the AFP’s Andrew Beatty writes in a pool report. “After nine days, an estimated 53 hours in the air, four countries (and) three domestic stops … the Vice President’s trip has come to an end. The Vice President will now head back to the Observatory, then to the White House and later to the Senate policy lunch.”
The House comes back from recess today. The Senate also has votes.
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
– Another day of gray and drizzles – but hopefully our last for the week. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Periods of rain, which could be moderate at times. Temperatures don’t move much as highs creep into the upper 50s to low 60s under heavy dense overcast skies. Rainfall totals today could range from a quarter to half inch, but locally heavier amounts can happen, especially east and north of the city.”
– Even with the recent spate of rainy, chilly weather we’ve seen, Washington is currently having its warmest April on record: Average temperatures for this month are nearly seven degrees higher than normal – putting us on track to have a month that more closely resembles a typical April in Memphis. (Jason Samenow)
– The Wizards lost to the Hawks 111-101 after falling apart in the fourth quarter. The series is now tied going into Game Five.
– The Nationals lost to the Rockies 8-4.
– Elizabeth Warren endorsed Tom Perriello in Virginia’s Democratic primary for governor, throwing her weight behind the challenger to Democrat Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam (who is favored by the Richmond establishment and Terry McAuliffe). Bernie Sanders backed Perriello earlier this month.
– Maryland Del. Richard K. Impallaria was ordered to serve two days in jail for drunk driving, after a judge suspended the rest of his 60-day sentence. Impallaria’s temporary detainment comes after he was convicted of a DWI in Ocean City last summer, during an annual Maryland Association of Counties conference. (Ovetta Wiggins)
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Trump said his U.N. ambassador “can easily be replaced:”
Watch Trump talk to astronauts at the International Space Station:
Seth Meyers talks about France’s “female Trump:”
Stephen Colbert talks about the 100-day mark:
Allison Janney feels sorry for Sean Spicer: