Good Monday morning. TWO POWER PLAYERS MAKING MOVES …
-- SCOOP: HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER KEVIN MCCARTHY sent $1.2 million from his campaign account to the NRCC in February. He’s now given the party committee more than $7 million this cycle. Team McCarthy says this is more than any majority leader has transferred in cycle. NRCC CHAIRMAN STEVE STIVERS: “Kevin is a patriot, a leader, and an invaluable asset to keeping our GOP majority. He’s willing to criss-cross the country to ensure all our candidates and campaigns have the resources to compete -- raising 3 times more than any majority leader in history. I’m thankful for all he’s done.” McCarthy raised $20 million in 2017.
-- FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: HOUSE DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS CHAIR JOE CROWLEY (D-N.Y.) raised $900,000 for 12 Democratic candidates Thursday at the kick off fundraising event for his joint fundraising committee the “Better Days Fund.”
The event at the Ides at the Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg featured Caroline Kennedy. Candidates supported include: Anthony Brindisi (N.Y.), Kate Browning (N.Y.), Veronica Escobar (Texas), Abby Finkenauer (Iowa), Chuy Garcia (Ill.), Brendan Kelly (Ill.), Susie Lee (Nev.), Joe Neguse (Colo.), Max Rose (N.Y.), Mikie Sherrill (N.J.), Elissa Slotkin (Mich.) and Greg Stanton (Ariz.).
-- THAT IS A BIG HAUL for Crowley to bring in supporting Democratic candidates in the midterm elections and to grow loyalty among potential incoming freshman lawmakers. NEWSFLASH: One day Nancy Pelosi and Paul Ryan will both be gone. That day might be soon. And, although no one will say it aloud, the positioning for who’s next is already underway.
THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION -- NANCY COOK and ANDREW RESTUCCIA: “Donald Trump’s bubble presidency: He has largely done away with the political optics of rubbing shoulders with members of the public, instead cloistering himself in the White House and at his clubs”: “In his 14 months as president, Trump hasn’t yet followed his predecessors’ habit of dropping by local watering holes (even though he’s made no secret of his love for junk food) or public service events either at home or on the road. He hasn’t gone to a baseball game or stopped at a soup kitchen.
“On Saturday, he ventured out of the White House to attend the annual Gridiron Dinner, taking a baby step into Washington’s elite social scene. But his appearance at the white-tie event did little to bring him closer to ordinary Americans. ... Trump promised the night of his victory to govern on behalf of ‘the forgotten men and women of our country.’
“Yet as president, he rarely comes into contact with regular people except in the structured setting of the White House or during tightly orchestrated events set up by staff, including a West Wing listening session last month with Stoneman Douglas families that featured some attendees who were critical of his proposals. His announcement last week of new tariffs, the timing of which surprised even some senior staffers, came at a table packed with industry executives rather than at a Rust Belt steel mill.” http://politi.co/2H1nDSP
-- “‘Like a pinball machine’: Lawmakers struggle to negotiate with an erratic Trump,” by WaPo’s John Wagner and Seung Min Kim: “After more than a year of the Trump presidency, members of Congress have learned to brace themselves for unpredictable, confusing and often contradictory positions from the commander in chief on issues ranging from health care to immigration to gun rights. ‘It’s totally not on a straight line,’ Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.) said of Trump’s negotiating style. ‘It’s zigzagging, something like a pinball machine. But he does move [the ball] down.’” http://wapo.st/2FcmAmH
2018 WATCH …
-- ELENA SCHNEIDER in HOUSTON: “The battle for Congress kicks off in Texas”: “The opening primaries of the 2018 midterm elections on Tuesday feature the first critical test of national Democrats’ strategy for handling the crowded primaries that could threaten the party’s chances of winning control of the House next year.” http://politi.co/2D19na9
-- “GOP fears midterm backlash from Trump’s tariffs: The clash suggests that what might be good politics for Trump might not work for the entire party,” by Rachael Bade and Burgess Everett: “President Donald Trump’s threatened trade war has opened a rift within the Republican Party that some lawmakers and strategists believe could undermine their effort to keep their majorities in Congress.
“Republicans plan to brag about the economy in midterm campaigns in hopes of countering Trump’s unpopularity, touting a strong stock market, low unemployment rate and -- most importantly -- their increasingly popular tax legislation. But Trump’s suggestion Saturday that he might slap penalties on European cars, in addition to the tariffs on aluminum and steel he already promised, could upend that strategy completely, Republicans say.” http://politi.co/2FlqZTs
THE BIG READ -- “As Congress moves to drop tariffs, some U.S. firms cry foul,” by Reuters’ Andy Sullivan in Naples, Florida: “Even as President Trump threatens to slap protective tariffs on steel and aluminum, lawmakers are moving forward with legislation to lower trade barriers on hundreds of other products, from chemicals to toasters, in a bid to lower costs for U.S. companies and consumers. Supporters of the so-called miscellaneous tariff bill, which unanimously passed the House of Representatives in January, say it would boost the economy by getting rid of tariffs designed to protect U.S. industries that no longer exist.
“The National Association of Manufacturers says U.S. companies pay hundreds of millions of dollars each year on unnecessary import fees. Critics say that miscellaneous tariff bills, which began decades ago as modest efforts to help U.S. manufacturers, have in recent years become sprawling packages of tariff reductions that undercut domestic producers without the means to defend their interests in Washington.” http://reut.rs/2FTpQ3p
-- WHERE THE PRESIDENT STANDS -- @realDonaldTrump at 7:10 p.m.: “We are on the losing side of almost all trade deals. Our friends and enemies have taken advantage of the U.S. for many years. Our Steel and Aluminum industries are dead. Sorry, it’s time for a change! MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”
PAGING ADAM SCHIFF -- “State Dept. Was Granted $120 Million to Fight Russian Meddling. It Has Spent $0,” by NYT’s Gardiner Harris: “As Russia’s virtual war against the United States continues unabated with the midterm elections approaching, the State Department has yet to spend any of the $120 million it has been allocated since late 2016 to counter foreign efforts to meddle in elections or sow distrust in democracy. As a result, not one of the 23 analysts working in the department’s Global Engagement Center — which has been tasked with countering Moscow’s disinformation campaign — speaks Russian, and a department hiring freeze has hindered efforts to recruit the computer experts needed to track the Russian efforts.” http://nyti.ms/2H4Nvxf
HILL WATCH -- “Congress requires many unpaid interns to sign nondisclosure agreements” – by Vox’s Rachel Wolfe: “For unpaid interns on Capitol Hill, secrecy is so much a part of the job that on their first day, many are required to sign sweeping nondisclosure agreements. Employment lawyers reviewed two Hill NDAs obtained by Vox and said they are written in a way that could discourage interns from speaking up about anything, potentially protecting members of Congress and their staff even in cases of harassment or abuse. ...
“[L]awyers questioned the scope of the language, the absence of an exception for incidents of harassment, discrimination, or abuse, and the fact that interns are not guaranteed a copy of what they signed. In interviews, 20 current and former Capitol Hill interns said they signed NDAs while working in Republican and Democratic offices in the House and Senate.” http://bit.ly/2CZzezq
M.I.A. -- “Vulnerable lawmakers answer a noisy gun debate with silence,” by AP’s Steve Peoples: “Despite a clamor for action in the wake of the Florida school shooting, a powerful group of vulnerable lawmakers — both Republicans and Democrats — have pointedly avoided the national conversation about guns. They often choose strategic silence rather than get crosswise with the National Rifle Association’s die-hard supporters on the right or the growing movement of passionate gun control advocates on the left.” http://bit.ly/2oQuY03
THE JUICE …
-- AMERICAN ACTION NETWORK, if you hadn’t heard, thinks Republicans need to sell tax reform early and often. They’re launching a $1-million ad campaign today to thank lawmakers for the legislation. The script: “As a working mom, I’m thrilled with the middle-class tax cut. My paycheck is bigger every two weeks. And I’m one of the millions of Americans who got a bonus. The extra thousand dollars was a big help. Now my bonus and bigger paycheck are giving my family peace of mind. And making it easier to take care of what really matters – my family.” The ad http://bit.ly/2I6BpoE
TRUMP’S MONDAY -- The president and first lady will greet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife at the White House. Trump and Netanyahu will meet and hold a working lunch before the Israeli prime minister and his wife leave the White House in the afternoon. Later, Trump will meet with UN Ambassador Nikki Haley.
-- VP MIKE PENCE is speaking at AIPAC tonight.
HA’ARETZ: “In Dramatic Development, Third Netanyahu Confidant Likely to Turn Against Him”: “Nir Hefetz, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ‘spin doctor’ and confidant, is in talks with police to turn state’s evidence in the bribery case involving the Bezeq telecom giant and the Walla news site. Hefetz is suspected of receiving bribes and obstructing justice as part of what is called Case 4000.
“If the deal is signed, Hefetz will become the third Netanyahu confidant to turn against the prime minister in the ongoing corruption cases. One of Hefetz’s attorneys, Ilan Sofer, told Haaretz Monday he is ‘optimistic’ a deal will be signed.” http://bit.ly/2oQI6Cc
HOLLYWOODLAND -- VARIETY -- “Academy Award Winners 2018: The Complete List” http://bit.ly/2oTfjge
NYT’S GLENN THRUSH: “Ben Carson on His Vexing Reign at HUD: Brain Surgery Was Easier Than This”: http://nyti.ms/2D07wlZ
SUSAN GLASSER talks with SEN. JIM RISCH (R-IDAHO) in the latest “Global POLITICO” podcast. “The Dance of the Pro-Trump Republican”: “Sen. Jim Risch, the conservative Idaho Republican who now stands to take over Foreign Relations next year, said in a new interview for The Global Politico that [Sen. Bob] Corker is wrong about his Trump-as-wrecking-ball theory and that he plans to air disagreements with the White House far more privately than Corker has done.
“In his first extensive remarks about his outlook on Trump and foreign policy since Corker said last week he will definitely not run again, Risch praised Trump for ‘gaining traction,’ ‘moderating’ his views and having ‘picked up on how important diplomacy is.’ ‘I think he’s dealing with it substantially better than what he started with, which is to be expected because obviously, experience is a huge asset, particularly when you’re dealing with diplomacy,’ the senator, a hawkish former critic of Trump’s, told me.” http://politi.co/2FgdvVQ
KELLYANNE FILES -- “Defying the Odds, Kellyanne Conway Steps Back and Hangs On,” by NYT’s Katie Rogers and Maggie Haberman: “A year ago, few “on the outside” — a phrase perhaps tellingly favored in the Trump White House — would have guessed that Kellyanne Conway would be the one hanging on as other high-profile aides pull their rip cords. ...
“More than a dozen high-profile departures later -- and amid tumult, scandal and an ever-unfolding investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia -- Ms. Conway, 51, is one of the few remaining prominent aides from the campaign. In a White House with the highest turnover rates in decades, she has survived by knowing when to step back from the spotlight, keeping the president’s ear, focusing on a policy issue significant to the poor and working class, and maintaining an unflinching loyalty to President Trump even as she outmaneuvers rivals on the staff.” http://nyti.ms/2FpvIU7
FOR YOUR RADAR – “As populists surge, Italy heads for political impasse,” by Giulia Paravicini, Giada Zampano and Jacopo Barigazzi in Rome in Politico Europe: “Populist, anti-establishment parties were the big winners of Sunday’s Italian election, raking in a combined total of more than 50 percent of the vote. Early results indicate the country may be headed for a hung parliament or drawn out negotiations, with no single party or coalition garnering enough votes to govern alone. The anti-establishment 5Stars led by 31-year-old Luigi Di Maio is likely to emerge as the largest party, with over 30 percent of the vote. ...
“The biggest upset is the emergence of the Matteo Salvini’s far-right League (formerly the Northern League) as the most popular force on the right. The League was headed for about 18 percent of the vote, making it the country’s third-largest party. Its share of support also makes it by far the largest member in a right-wing alliance with former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and the far-right Brothers of Italy.” http://politi.co/2F9WLDw
SPOTTED at The Shakespeare Theater: Madeleine Albright for the last show of longtime theater director Michael Kahn’s final version of “Hamlet” ... Tim Pawlenty on a flight to D.C. from Minneapolis ... Elizabeth Dole Sunday at Fiola Mare.
OUT AND ABOUT -- The Embassy of Qatar, Ambassador of Qatar Sheikh Meshal bin Hamad Al-Thani, and T. Dean Reed, a senior member of the Gridiron Club, hosted a post-Gridiron Sunday brunch at the Four Seasons Hotel Sunday. SPOTTED: the Ambassador of Afghanistan Hamdullah Mohib, Ireland’s Ambassador Daniel Mulhall, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and Hilary Ross, Greta Mulhall, Josh Rogin, Coach Kathy Kemper, Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), Wendy Chamberlin, Norm Ornstein, Megan Smith, Chris Golden and Greg Myre.
TRANSITIONS -- SHANE MCDONALD, House Ways and Means Committee speechwriter and former communications director for Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Texas), is joining the Business Roundtable as a senior communications advisor.
BIRTHWEEK (was yesterday): Maria Recio, who writes about arts/culture and Texas politics from D.C. for the Austin American Statesman/RGV
BIRTHDAYS OF THE DAY: GOP admaker Fred Davis, CEO of Strategic Perception based in Hollywood. How he got his start in politics: “My uncle is Jim Inhofe. I did the media for his Oklahoma governor’s race when both of us were very young. Then, his Tulsa mayor races, then U.S. Congress. Since I did his U.S. Senate special in the mid-90s, the phone has fortunately never stopped ringing.” Read his Playbook Plus Q&A: http://politi.co/2I2ER3D
-- MJ Lee, CNN national political reporter. A fun fact about M.J.: “That I didn’t start learning English until I was about 8. It’s probably the reason that I’m so impressed by people who are good at puns!” Q&A: http://politi.co/2FUGuj4
BIRTHDAYS: Obama alum Ellie Schafer (hat tip: Tammy Haddad) ... Christian Elliot is 42 ... Chad Pergram, the longtime Capitol Hill producer for Fox News and “the hardest working man I know” (h/t wife Carrie) … Mike Kruger, director of comms at the Smart Electric Power Alliance and an Obama Commerce alum, is 42 ... Elliot Gault ... April Mellody, head of comms for Group Nine Media ... Stephen Goepfert, deputy commissioner for the N.Y. State Dept. of Transportation and a Biden alum ... Diana Fakhouri, social media strategy at Condé Nast and a Hillary alum ... Alan Miller, president/CEO and founder of the News Literacy Project ... Erick Mullen, managing director at Mercury (h/t Jon Haber) ... Politico’s Nish Gnanadoss ...
... Roy Gutman is 74 ... John O’Brien, deputy assistant secretary for health policy at HHS ... Jyoti Jasrasaria ... Matt Dorf, president and founder of West End Strategy Team, is 48 (h/t Alissa Kaplan Michaels) ... Phil Hardy ... Brian Kresge ... Jordan Fabian, White House correspondent at The Hill … Lauren Kidwell, partner at 270 Strategies … Clint Hackney, “Austin super lobbyist and a proud Fighting Texas Aggie” (h/t Randy White) … Aaron Freedman ... Sharon Block ... Daniel Schwarz ... Colleen Evans ... Tony Cincotta ... Joyce Wise Dodd ... John Schachter ... Molly Reilly ... Jon Loritz … Deanna Carlson Stacy ... Ron Boehmer ... Win Ellington ... Drake Henle ... Alyssa Dougherty ... Sarah Little ... Andrew Leiferman ... Kolby Keo ... Brian Bolduc.