IN CASE YOU MISSED IT (YOU PROBABLY DID) … AS OF LAST NIGHT, 87 HOUSE DEMOCRATS have signed a discharge petition to try to force a vote on a bill that would “ensure that all individuals who should be prohibited from buying a firearm are listed in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, and provide a responsible and consistent background check process.”
-- A DISCHARGE PETITION is really the only way the minority can pressure the majority to bring a bill to the floor. It needs another 129 signatures to make it to the floor -- that means Republicans need to sign on, as well. The signers http://bit.ly/2BU7U8L
Good Tuesday morning. BILLY GRAHAM LOGISTICS, from Steve Scalise’s office: “The Reverend Billy Graham will lie in honor in the Rotunda of the United States Capitol on Wednesday, February 28, 2018. An arrival ceremony will be held in the Capitol Rotunda at 11:00 AM. This ceremony will be open only to the Reverend Graham’s family, friends, Members of the House of Representatives, Senators, and other members of the government. Members are requested to assemble in the House Chamber at 10:10 AM and proceed into the Rotunda at 10:25 AM.”
GUN CONTROL IS HARD (#GCIH), via Burgess Everett: “The Senate stumbled out of the gate Monday in its efforts to enact even modest gun legislation, raising doubts about whether Congress can do anything in the wake of this month’s massacre at a Florida high school. Senate Republicans, backed by the National Rifle Association and President Donald Trump, are pressing to quickly pass a narrow bill aimed at improving records and information-sharing in the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
“But attempts to pass the bill, called Fix NICS, encountered resistance from opposite ends of the political spectrum on Monday: Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), a conservative, held up quick passage of the bill even as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) blasted the GOP for shirking a broader debate on gun violence.
“Senate Democrats say the Fix NICS bill falls far short of the action that Capitol Hill should take in an era of increasingly frequent mass shootings. ‘If we only pass Fix NICS, we’ll be right back here after the next shooting, in nearly the same place. If all Congress does in response to the Parkland shooting is to pass Fix NICS, we won’t have done our job. We must do more than that,’ Schumer said on the Senate floor Monday. He said the Senate should at least pass legislation implementing universal background checks.” http://politi.co/2EUG52J
-- BEHIND THE SCENES: FIX NICS urges governments to report to the nation’s criminal background check network -- and punishes those who don’t. But in the House, leaders promised conservatives that this would be tied up with a bill that allows people to carry concealed weapons across state lines. Unraveling that promise was the subject of a particularly long -- and animated -- House Freedom Caucus meeting Monday night on Capitol Hill. ...
... SPEAKER PAUL RYAN and the House GOP leadership says they’ll wait to see what the Senate passes before they make any decisions what to do on guns. The House has passed the NICS bill.
ATLANTA JOURNAL CONSTITUTION’S GREG BLUESTEIN -- “Delta’s tax break may not take flight after Georgia Senate blocks it”: “Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle said he would not support tax legislation that helped the airline ‘unless the company changes its position and fully reinstates its relationship with the NRA.’ He echoed a growing number of conservatives who opposed the measure over the weekend. …
“That move forced Gov. Nathan Deal and other supporters of the $50 million jet fuel sales tax exemption to shift to the defensive, and prompted a growing number of Republicans to try to strip the provision out of a broader tax-cut bill that has already passed the state House.” http://on-ajc.com/2GNcc0J
HEADS UP -- BORDER ADJUSTMENT TAX BACK? … KEEP YOUR EARS PEELED: A few sources told us yesterday that the president and the White House have expressed interest recently in reviving something that looks like the border-adjustment tax -- a Paul Ryan-promoted idea the GOP killed during the tax debate. This is a stunning development, as Republicans fought hard to kill this idea, partially because the president was skeptical of its utility. The BAT, as it was called in Republican circles, taxed imported goods. Many saw it as a way to fulfill Trump's promise on slapping tariffs on imported goods.
DISPATCH FROM DOUG PALMER -- STEEL COMPANIES TARGET TRUMP: “President Donald Trump tunes into Fox News, MSNBC or CNN this morning, he can expect to see an ad urging him to keep his promise to restrict steel imports, the leader of a group whose members include U.S. Steel, ArcelorMittal and the United Steelworkers union told Morning Trade. “President Trump, America’s workers are counting on you to protect our job and defend our national security. It’s time to keep the promise and protect American steel.” The 30-second spot http://bit.ly/2F68bHB
NOT A GOOD SIGN -- “Congress loses key immigration deal ingredient: A deadline,” by Elana Schor and Heather Caygle: “The already-dwindling political urgency for Congress to reach an immigration deal all but collapsed on Monday when the Supreme Court took a pass on the issue.
“The high court declined to take up the Trump administration’s request to quickly weigh in on the Obama-era program shielding young undocumented immigrants from deportation. It’s a blow to President Donald Trump, whose order to dismantle the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program has already been put on hold by two federal court rulings.
“And now there’s little bite left in the March 5 deadline Trump gave to lawmakers. In a Congress that was already at a stalemate over how to balance relief for DACA recipients with tougher border security, the ruling appeared to further dampen prospects for a legislative compromise — and leave the fate of Dreamers to the courts for months to come.” http://politi.co/2ouPGTF
-- WE ALL KNOW WELL that without a hard deadline, Congress is unlikely to do anything. As our colleague BURGESS EVERETT pointed out a few days ago -- the next best hope for reform advocates was the March 23 spending deadline. But that was before the court’s action. With the court relieving pressure from that deadline -- and Democrats wary to spark a shutdown -- it’s hard to see when immigration legislation might get moving.
TRUMP FAMILY’S MESS IN PANAMA -- “Bizarre legal brawl intensifies at Trump hotel in Panama,” by WaPo’s Joshua Partlow and David Fahrenthold in Panama City: “Last Thursday afternoon, the majority owner of the Trump International Hotel here in Panama arrived unexpectedly in the building’s swank Sky Lobby with an entourage. He wanted to fire the Trump Organization, which has managed the hotel since it opened in 2011. But the Trump Organization has refused to leave. Since that first confrontation, police have been called multiple times to referee disputes between owner Orestes Fintiklis -- who blames the company’s poor management and damaged brand for the hotel’s declining revenue -- and the Trump Organization, which says it still has a valid contract to manage the place.
“Offices have been barricaded. Several yelling matches have broken out. The power was briefly turned off, in a dispute over the building’s electronic equipment. At one point, Fintiklis — denied a chance to fire the hotel staff or even check into a room — played a tune on the hotel’s lobby piano as an apparent show of defiance. On Monday, Panama’s federal prosecutors said they had opened an investigation into the Trump Organization, after Fintiklis complained that he had been unlawfully blocked from his own property.” http://wapo.st/2EY9KUO
RUSSIA WATCH -- ISAAC DOVERE talks with former CIA Director MICHAEL HAYDEN in the latest “Off Message” podcast. “Hayden isn’t sure about collusion. But when he looks at Trump and the Russians, he sees what he calls ‘convergence.’
“‘There is an eerie and uncomfortable echo between some of the things the president tweets, the different points of emphasis on Fox News, the thematic stories in the alt-right media, and Russian bots,’ Hayden said. ‘I don’t have to create collusion here: Each for their own purposes are well-served by creating deeper divisions within American society. The president, to play to his base; Fox News, for ratings; the alt-right, because they have a conspiratorial view of everything; and the Russians, to mess with our heads.’
-- ON MUELLER: “Hayden reads each of Bob Mueller’s indictments with the eyes of a person who’s run and chased many close-hold operations himself. His own assessment of how much of the iceberg we’ve seen so far: ‘I don’t know, but we keep uncovering more bits of ice.’ And he says he’s ‘very concerned’ what’s coming in the 2018 and 2020 elections could be worse than 2016 -- much, much worse.” http://politi.co/2EW3mS1
A SHOT ACROSS THE BOW -- “Holder group sues Walker for not holding elections in Wisconsin,” by Isaac Dovere: “The National Redistricting Foundation sued Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin on Monday for not holding special elections for two state Legislature seats. The seats, left vacant by an assemblyman and state senator who resigned in December to take jobs in Walker’s Republican administration, will otherwise remain open until January 2019, following the regularly scheduled elections for the seats in November. ...
“‘The primary thing at this point is to just hold the damn elections,’ Holder said. ‘Those are basic and fundamental, democratic and American concepts. You hold elections. The question is: ‘What are you afraid of, Scott Walker?’” http://politi.co/2BSfTDb
FOGGY BOTTOM DEPARTURE LOUNGE -- “State Department point man on North Korea, Joe Yun, to retire Friday,” by WaPo’s Anna Fifield in Seoul: “The State Department’s point-man on North Korea, Joseph Yun, will leave his post on Friday, even as there are glimmers of hope that Pyongyang might finally be willing to sit down for talks with Washington. Yun, 63, is retiring as special representative for North Korea policy and deputy assistant secretary for Korea and Japan after more than three decades of service. His departure reflects the widespread frustration within the State Department at diplomats’ relative lack of power in the Trump administration, according to someone familiar with Yun’s thinking.” http://wapo.st/2sYBzut
THE ADMINISTRATION -- “Melania Trump Parts Ways With Adviser Amid Backlash Over Inaugural Contract,” by NYT’s Ken Vogel and Maggie Haberman: “The first lady, Melania Trump, has parted ways with an adviser after news about the adviser’s firm reaping $26 million in payments to help plan President Trump’s inauguration. Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, who has been friends with Mrs. Trump for years, had been working on a contract basis as an unpaid senior adviser to the office of the first lady. Stephanie Grisham, Mrs. Trump’s spokeswoman, said the office had ‘severed the gratuitous services contract with Ms. Wolkoff,’ who Ms. Grisham said had been employed as “a special government employee’ to work on specific projects. ‘We thank her for her hard work and wish her all the best.’ The contract was terminated last week, according to two people with direct knowledge of the situation.” http://nyti.ms/2sWE5Sf
THE JUICE …
-- SPOTTED: Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) playing the piano last night at the Prime Rib. In the audience at the restaurant: Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Grant King, A.J. Brigg, Jared Michael, James McDonald, Jared Parks, Andrew Kovalcin and Rachel Hicks – pic of Alexander playing with Perry in the background taking a pic http://bit.ly/2GNiaPh ... Peter Thiel last night having dinner at Fiola ... Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.) yesterday at the Capitol Hill Trader Joe’s and “being the responsible environmentalist that he is, had his own shopping bag!” per a tipster.
TRUMP’S TUESDAY -- After the president meets with Republican senators on renewable fuel standards, he will receive the Boy Scouts of America report to the nation. In the afternoon, Trump will meet with House Republicans on trade. Trump will also make an announcement about adding more leadership to the White House initiative on historically black colleges and universities.
FOR YOUR RADAR … NYT’S MAGGIE ASTOR: “The number of reported anti-Semitic incidents surged 57 percent in 2017, according to an annual report by the Anti-Defamation League. The organization’s Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents, released Tuesday, found 1,986 such incidents in 2017, compared with 1,267 in 2016. That increase was the largest in a single year since the A.D.L. began tracking in 1979.” http://nyti.ms/2Fzo8nz
SOMETHING TO WATCH – Per CNN’s Reliable Sources: “The New York Times has conquered the podcasting world with ‘The Daily.’ Now it wants to crack TV with a weekly news program. The Times is seeking an executive producer for the series, according to this job listing, which has been hiding in plain sight for a few weeks. Sam Dolnick, the assistant managing editor who is overseeing the NYT's new digital initiatives, told me ‘we’re hoping’ the untitled series ‘becomes a showcase for the most ambitious visual journalism of The Times.’
“A production company, Left/Right, is already on board. It has created several segments as tests. The idea is a once-a-week program, about 30 minutes long, although the length could vary. It will feature Times journalists at work and in the field.”
THE LUXE ADMINISTRATION -- “Housing official says she was replaced for rejecting Carson’s costly office redecoration,” by The Guardian’s Jon Swaine and Ben Jacobs: “A senior career official in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has alleged that she was demoted and replaced with a Donald Trump appointee after refusing to break the law by funding an expensive redecoration of Ben Carson’s office. Helen Foster said she was told ‘$5,000 will not even buy a decent chair’ after informing her bosses this was the legal price limit for improvements to the HUD secretary’s suite at the department’s Washington headquarters. Foster, 47, claimed that she also faced retaliation for exposing a $10m budget shortfall, and for protesting when she was barred from handling a pair of sensitive [FOIA] requests relating to Trump apparently because she was perceived to be a Democrat.” http://bit.ly/2BU5qar
SHOULD TRUMP PUT HIS PERSONAL PILOT IN CHARGE OF ALL FLYING AIRCRAFT? -- “Skepticism reigns about putting Trump’s pilot in charge of FAA,” by Brianna Gurciullo and Tanya Snyder: “[T]he notion of Trump’s pilot as FAA chief is drawing skepticism from people in the industry, who note that recent leaders of the technocratic, $16 billion-a-year agency have typically been people with long experience either in the government or running large organizations.
“In contrast, John Dunkin’s experience since 1989, according to a Smithsonian documentary, has been working ‘on and off’ for Trump as his personal pilot. Dunkin is the Trump Organization's director of aviation operations for a fleet that includes a Boeing 757, a Cessna Citation X business jet and three Sikorsky helicopters. ‘The only person that thinks it’s a good idea, from what I gather, is the president,’ said one lobbyist with aviation clients ... ‘I think it’d be a tough confirmation.’” http://politi.co/2BT7oYI
2018 WATCH -- WHAT REPUBLICANS SHOULD BE READING -- CHARLIE MAHTESIAN in Politico magazine -- “How Republicans Can Win the Midterms”: “As dire as the situation seems for Republicans, the elements of a skin-of-their-teeth escape are coming into focus. Beginning in late December, both the generic congressional ballot and Trump’s approval ratings began ticking upward. These numbers, apparent across almost all polls, were enough to curtail growing talk of a Democratic wave election on the horizon. Even Priorities USA, the biggest Democratic super PAC, took notice. …
“The snapback in the polls may be short-lived. Over the past two weeks, the generic ballot numbers have moved slightly in a Democratic direction. The Republican uptick in the polls could represent a sign that the president and his party are beginning to get credit for the economy and tax cuts, or it could be simply a dead cat bounce. Either way, if the party can keep the generic ballot deficit under about 9 percentage points and the president’s approval ratings can remain in the mid-40s, the GOP is in the range of where it needs to be to have a fighting chance of holding its House majority.” http://politi.co/2oza2dL
MARC CAPUTO: “Rick Scott gets gun control makeover”: “Florida Gov. Rick Scott broke with President Trump over the question of gun-toting educators. He’s ticked off the NRA. Suddenly, he’s in good graces with the state teachers’ union, his longtime adversary. Scott’s reaction to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting is making Democrats wonder if they’re witnessing a broader general-election makeover — one that could make him a far more potent challenger to Sen. Bill Nelson.
“‘That’s something I’m sure the Nelson people are worried about,’ said Allison Tant, the former Florida Democratic Party chair and a Nelson fundraiser and ally. ‘Rick Scott is trying to erase the memories of everybody on the stances he’s taken on guns for the past eight years. But it took not just one mass shootings in Florida, but two to get him to act. And he’s not doing much,’ Tant said, referencing the Pulse nightclub slaughter that happened during Scott’s term in 2016.” http://politi.co/2CmqTKc
-- “GOP showdown: McDaniel expected to challenge Wicker for Senate,” by Alex Isenstadt: “Mississippi Republican Chris McDaniel is expected to announce later this week that he will wage a 2018 primary challenge against GOP Sen. Roger Wicker, according to two people briefed on his plans. McDaniel, a conservative state senator who waged an unsuccessful 2014 primary bid against longtime GOP Sen. Thad Cochran, has scheduled a rally on Wednesday afternoon in Ellisville, Miss.
“McDaniel is slated to hold a Facebook Live event on Monday evening to encourage people to attend the rally. He has recruited two senior Republican strategists, Rick Tyler and John Yob, to assist him. Tyler most recently worked as a spokesman for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s 2016 presidential campaign, and was a staffer on former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s 2012 White House bid. Yob was a top aide on Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul’s 2016 presidential campaign.” http://politi.co/2ovDsu0
IN THE HOUSE: “Republicans fret sexting scandal could cost them easy House seat,” by Elena Schneider: “Republicans are fretting that a front-runner for an Arizona congressional seat — a married minister involved in a sexting scandal — will pull a Roy Moore and hand the seat to Democrats if he wins Tuesday’s special-election primary. The seat vacated by former GOP Rep. Trent Franks — who resigned last December over his own sex scandal — should be an easy hold for Republicans.
“But a bombshell report of nude photos and text messages exchanged between the candidate, former state Sen. Steve Montenegro, and a legislative staffer — published just a week before the election — has left GOP operatives worried that ‘it could be Alabama all over again,’ said Shiree Verdone, who ran Arizona Sen. John McCain's 2010 Senate race.” http://politi.co/2FyTvi7
-- “Republicans flock to take out scandal-plagued Duncan Hunter,” by Rachael Bade: http://politi.co/2t06W81
FIRST IN PLAYBOOK -- Penguin Random House is moving up the sale date of Ret. Gen. Michael Hayden’s next book to May 1. It’s titled “The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies” – excerpts from the intro: “There is no effort here to build a case for or against collusion. But whatever emerges from Robert Mueller’s investigation, it should not obscure the bigger story, which is still not adequately understood, and which is in a way this book’s climactic case study, namely that Russia has been actively seeking to damage the fabric of American democracy and that the Trump Administration’s glandular aversion to even looking at this squarely, much less mounting a concerted response to it, is an appalling national security lapse.
“Indeed, there is clear evidence of what I would call convergence, the convergence of a mutually reinforcing swirl of Presidential tweets and statements, Russian influenced social media, alt right websites and talk radio, Russian ‘white’ press like RT and even mainstream U.S. media like Fox News—all of whom do things for their own purposes, but all of which fits nicely with Russian purposes to sharpen and sustain divisions here.” The cover http://bit.ly/2F9569C … $14.99 on Amazon http://amzn.to/2ES5wlw
MEDIAWATCH -- “Comcast Makes $30.9 Billion Offer for Sky, Challenging Fox,” by WSJ’s Ben Dummett and Stu Woo: “Comcast Corp. on Tuesday made a tentative $30.9 billion offer for Sky PLC, topping a rival bid from 21st Century Fox Inc. to consolidate ownership of the U.K. broadcaster and moving to peel away one of the most attractive overseas assets that Walt Disney Co. has agreed to buy from Fox. …
“The move comes after Disney agreed last year to buy a big chunk of assets from Fox, including its stake in Sky, for more than $52 billion. Sky was seen as a particularly attractive asset in the package—a way Disney could grow its overseas footprint. Sky declined to comment and representatives of Fox and Disney couldn’t immediately be reached for comment early Tuesday.” http://on.wsj.com/2CJu0HT
-- ANNIE YU, former audience engagement editor for the L.A. Times, is joining POLITICO as director of engagement. Carrie Budoff Brown emails the staff: “In this new role, which is part of our ongoing effort to reach new readers and build stronger and deeper relationships with our unique audience, Annie will oversee social media and work closely with editors across the newsroom to give our journalism maximum impact. She will also develop distribution strategies and drive off-platform storytelling, helping us reach our readers wherever they are.”
SPOTTED: Justice Anthony Kennedy last night at the Shakespeare Theatre Company presiding over the mock trial “the Trial of Hamlet”. Abbe Lowell was one of the defense lawyers. The prosecutors were U.S. Attorney for D.C. Jessie Liu and Judge James Boasberg. D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, Thurgood Marshall Jr., Emily Lenzner, Alexandra Petri, and Stephen Ryan were among the jurors. “The jury voted 9-3 that Hamlet was responsible at the time of Polonius’ death,” per a tipster.
BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Gary Knell, president and CEO at National Geographic Society. A trend he thinks deserves more attention: “Wildlife trafficking. 100 elephants a day are being slaughtered for ivory. There were 500,000 lions in the wild when I was born. Today, there are 50,000. Do we really want a world without wildlife? It’s all human caused and preventable if we would just pay attention.” Read his Playbook Plus Q&A: http://politi.co/2EX2bO7
BIRTHDAYS: Chelsea Clinton is 38 ... Massachusetts State Sen. Eric Lesser, an Obama alum (hat tip: Herbie Ziskend) ... Robbie Aiken, VP of federal affairs at Pinnacle West ... ABC7 alums Maureen Bunyan and Greta Kreuz … Sasha Johnson, United’s managing director of regulatory and policy and an FAA alum ... Genevieve Ryan is 29. “Her fiancé, Chris Bellaire, just completed his duty as a Marine Corps officer [on Monday] and flew to NY to be with her” (h/t Dad, Fred) ... Ralph Nader is 84 ... Sarah Clements … Politico’s Mike Irwin and Kelsey Wessels ... Joseph Green ... Rebecca Sinderbrand, NBC News senior Washington editor and a Politico alum (h/t Olivia Petersen) ... Greg Lubar, international director for brokerage at JLL ... Greg Speed, executive director at America Votes (hat tips: Jon Haber) ... Nils Bruzelius ... Bush alum Sara McIntosh ... Vincent Polito, principal at mdg ... HFA alum Kathy Gasperine ... Brian Malte … Kelly Olsen ... Julie Merz ... Barb Prigge ... David Baumann ... Kate DePriest, assistant counsel to the IG at the SBA (h/t Adam Kaplan) ... Nick Minock, Michigan political reporter for Sinclair Broadcasting (h/t Mitchell Rivard) ... former Delaware GOP executive director John Fluharty ... Matt Herman ...
... David Merritt, VP for public affairs and strategic initiatives for AHIP (h/t Kristine Grow) ... investigative journalist and author Dan Moldea is 68 (h/t Nadia Szold) ... Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) is 6-0 ... Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) is 4-0 ... Rep. Luke Messer (R-Ind.) is 49 ... Jill Chappell ... Tim Morris is 4-0 ... Adam Elkington ... Anne Kimbell ... Mary Walsh ... Blanquita Cullum ... Adrienne Biggert Morrell ... Maria Koklanaris Bonaquist ... Ross Fitzgerald ... Alana Berkowitz ... Eddie W. Reeves is 56 ... Jim Norman Javinsky is 48 ... David Hercilla ... Dan Hull ... Craig Kennedy, former president and CEO of the German Marshall Fund of the United States ... Boehner alum Trevor Kolego, now SVP at the Smith-Free Group ... Mark Blumenthal ... Vivian Todini ... Justin Thiltgen.