THIS SCOOP MIGHT IRK TRUMP -- SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN IS GOING AFTER JARED’S COMPANY … The Massachusetts Democrat -- along with Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) -- sent letters to Apollo and Citigroup, asking about loans to Kushner Companies. from just after Jared joined the White House.
-- THE LETTER asks for the dates the loans were offered, conditions of the loan and a description of the process by which the Kushner Companies got the loans. It asks for ALL MEETINGS between the two firms and Kushner, and various details about those meetings. They request ALL DOCUMENTS from the loan process and whether any of the loans included foreign financing. The letter to Citibank http://politi.co/2FryVPW … The letter to Apollo http://politi.co/2IekyQz.
A BREAKTHROUGH … TRUMP TO MEET WITH KIM JONG UN BY MAY! … WAPO’S ANNA FIFIELD in Tokyo, DAVID NAKAMURA and SEUNG MIN KIM: “Kim has also committed to stopping nuclear and missile testing, even during joint military drills in South Korea next month, Chung Eui-yong, the South Korean national security adviser, told reporters at the White House on Thursday. Chung extended the invitation from Kim to meet while briefing Trump on the four-hour dinner he had with the North Korean leader in Pyongyang on Monday.
“After a year in which North Korea fired intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching all of the United States and tested what is widely thought to have been a hydrogen bomb, such a moratorium would be welcomed by the United States and the world.
“But there is also significant risk for Trump in agreeing to a meeting apparently without the kind of firm preconditions sought by previous U.S. administrations. There has never been a face-to-face meeting, or even a phone call, between sitting leaders of the two nations because American presidents have been wary of offering the Kim regime the validation of a leaders-level summit on the global stage.” http://wapo.st/2Ib9q78
-- ANALYSIS, by FT’s Bryan Harris in Seoul: “Who stands to gain: On the surface, it is a win-win situation for all leaders. Mr. Trump demonstrates that his signature foreign policy initiative is making headway. Mr. Kim garners domestic prestige and the international spotlight from meeting a U.S. president for the first time. [South Korean President Moon Jae-in] reaps the rewards of successful diplomacy and the benefits of reduced tension on the Korean peninsula, which months ago appeared close to conflict. Trouble may arise later, however, if talks begin to flounder.
“Likelihood of success: For Mr. Kim, simply hosting the meeting will count as a success as it will generate prestige and legitimacy for the reclusive regime. For the U.S. leader, the equation is more complex. Experts are sceptical that Pyongyang will genuinely give up its nuclear programme, which it views as a deterrent to US aggression.
“The regime may promise to do so but history shows it has a poor record of upholding such pledges. In 1994 it signed the Agreed Framework to freeze its plutonium weapons programme in exchange for aid. The deal collapsed in 2002 amid US intelligence revelations that the regime was secretly pursuing a uranium enrichment programme. In 2005 Pyongyang committed to de-nuclearisation following multilateral talks; it tested its first nuclear device the very next year.” http://on.ft.com/2DaF94x
-- STEPBACK … PETER BAKER in the NYT, “Trump’s Meeting With Kim Jong-un Is Another Pledge to Do What Nobody Else Can”: “When the establishment told him he should talk with North Korea, President Trump scorned the idea. …
“Five months later, Mr. Trump cast aside his skepticism and agreed to talk to North Korea with no more promise of success at negotiating an end to its nuclear and missile programs than his predecessors had. The main difference this time around is who will do the talking for the United States: Donald J. Trump. Shocking and yet somehow not surprising, Mr. Trump’s decision to do what no other sitting president has done and meet in person with a North Korean leader reflects an audacious and supremely self-confident approach to international affairs.
“Whether it is Middle East peace or trade agreements, Mr. Trump has repeatedly claimed that he can achieve what has eluded every other occupant of his office through the force of his own personality. So far, he has little to show for that.
“He has yet to successfully negotiate any new trade deals or renegotiate any old ones. A resolution between Israel and the Palestinians, which he once said would be ‘maybe not as difficult as people have thought,’ looks more distant than when he came into office.
“Beyond threatening ‘fire and fury,’ he has offered no original formula that suggests a path to unlock the North Korea puzzle. But in his penchant for unpredictability, his willingness to shift at a moment’s notice and his sense that only he can make the important decisions, Mr. Trump may find a kindred spirit in the man who would sit across the table, Kim Jong-un of North Korea.” http://nyti.ms/2oUURg0
WHAT WASHINGTON THINKS … Last night we were pinging some Republican aides about this, and many of them were too shocked to render judgment. THE GOOD: Trump has given himself a chance to strike a deal with North Korea, a dangerous global actor that has bedeviled many administrations. It’s a stunning development
THE RISKY: Trump likes to rely on no one but himself, and with a rogue state like North Korea, that could be risky. One can definitely see the wisdom of cutting out the middleman and having Trump deal directly with Kim Jong Un -- the first time a U.S. president has spoken directly with a North Korean leader. But, at the same time, experts might also be useful in this situation. North Korea resumed nuclear efforts after the last round of talks. In short, Trump has to make sure he doesn’t get taken for a ride.
THIS ISN’T LIKE GUNS OR HEALTH CARE or immigration, where Trump can say one thing, believe another and let the issue fade to the background. This is a rogue nuclear state. The entire planet will be watching these talks. The stakes couldn’t be higher.
THE THEATER OF THIS ANNOUNCEMENT, was, unsurprisingly, pretty amazing. South Korean officials -- fresh off their historic talks with the North Koreans -- made the announcement from the White House after talks with the president.
WE’RE NOT SAYING THIS WAS THE GOAL, but Trump knocked Stormy Daniels and GOP opposition to his tariff plan off the front burner.
BUCKLE UP -- @maggieNYT: “Trump reaching out more directly to reporters - a la popping into briefing room, working phones - is likely in the post-Hicks era”.
THE REVOLVING DOOR -- “The big challenge for Cohn’s successor: Staying close to Trump,” by Nancy Cook and Ben White: “White House economic adviser Gary Cohn has one more thing he wants to do before he leaves his post: help Trump pick his successor.
“Behind the scenes, one candidate Cohn is pushing is his deputy director of domestic policy, Shahira Knight – a former Hill staffer and ex-lobbyist – to replace him as director of the National Economic Council, according to two people familiar with the discussions. As the NEC’s resident tax expert, she was integral to working with lawmakers to develop the historic tax legislation and has allies throughout the Hill and downtown. One Republican lobbyist said she had ‘the inside track if she wants it.’ Knight did not respond to a request for comment.” http://politi.co/2Fmnhdd
THE TARIFF NEWS … WHAT REPUBLICANS ARE SAYING BEHIND THE SCENES: Yeah, this tariff deal is no good. We don’t like it. But Speaker Paul Ryan worked behind the scenes to convince Trump to issue exemptions -- and senior Hill Republicans believe there will be more exemptions and say they are to thank.
-- HEADS UP: MANY REPUBLICANS told us last night that they believe the tariffs will be knocked down in court due to the loose use of a national security exemption.
FIRST IN PLAYBOOK -- Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, is sending a letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross asking for details about the analysis that went into deciding to enact steel and aluminum tariffs. http://politi.co/2G9O0Xv
2018 WATCH -- ONLY IN PLAYBOOK … FROM ALEX ISENSTADT: TEXAS BILLIONAIRE ANDY BEAL has cut a $500,000 check to a super PAC supporting Arizona Republican Senate candidate Kelli Ward. The donation makes Beal, a banker and poker player, the single biggest contributor to Kelli PAC this cycle. Ward, a firebrand conservative, is running in the primary against former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and establishment-aligned Rep. Martha McSally.
-- HELLER THE FORTUNE TELLER -- “The endangered GOP senator who thinks Justice Kennedy could save him,” by Burgess Everett: “Dean Heller knows he’s the most vulnerable Republican senator in the country. But he thinks Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy might just help him hang on to his seat. ‘Kennedy is going to retire around sometime early summer,’ Heller predicted in Las Vegas last week, according to audio of an event he spoke at that was obtained by POLITICO. ‘Which I’m hoping will get our base a little motivated because right now they’re not very motivated. But I think a new Supreme Court justice will get them motivated.’
“The 45-minute recording of the media-shy Heller shows a senator defending President Donald Trump repeatedly, breaking only delicately with the president on issues like trade and gun control. It’s in line with the tightrope Heller has to walk to have any hope of winning reelection against a Trump-inspired Republican primary opponent and a highly touted Democratic general election challenger — in a state that Hillary Clinton won in 2016.” http://politi.co/2G8le9t
CAN’T STOP, WON’T STOP -- “Obama in Talks to Provide Shows for Netflix,” by NYT’s Mike Shear, Katie Benner and John Koblin: “Former President Barack Obama is in advanced negotiations with Netflix to produce a series of high-profile shows that will provide him a global platform after his departure from the White House, according to people familiar with the discussions. Under terms of a proposed deal, which is not yet final, Netflix would pay Mr. Obama and his wife, Michelle, for exclusive content that would be available only on the streaming service, which has nearly 118 million subscribers around the world.
“The number of episodes and the formats for the shows have not been decided. Mr. Obama does not intend to use his Netflix shows to directly respond to President Trump or conservative critics, according to people familiar with discussions about the programming. They said the Obamas had talked about producing shows that highlight inspirational stories.” http://nyti.ms/2G8bHPV
THE LUXE ADMINISTRATION -- “Interior spending $139K to fix doors in Sec. Zinke’s office,” by AP’s Michael Biesecker and Matt Daly: Interior Secretary Ryan “Zinke was not aware of the contract for the work prior to a request about it from The Associated Press, spokeswoman Heather Swift said. The project was planned by career facilities and security officials as part of the decade-long modernization of the historic building erected in 1936 a few blocks from the White House, she said.
“‘The secretary was not aware of this contract but agrees that this is a lot of money for demo, install, materials and labor,’ Swift said Thursday in an emailed statement. ‘Between regulations that require historic preservation and outdated government procurement rules, the costs for everything from pencils to printing to doors is astronomical. This is a perfect example of why the secretary believes we need to reform procurement processes.’ The current door from a hallway to the secretary’s sixth-floor office does not lock, so a security upgrade is needed, Swift said.” http://bit.ly/2Ft9sWm
-- @SopanDeb: “this is such poor context-less reporting. The AP leaves out that the door leads to another dimension.”
SOMETHING TO WATCH -- “Trump threatens veto over Gateway tunnel funding,” by John Bresnahan, Burgess Everett and Eliana Johnson: “President Donald Trump has threatened to veto a massive omnibus spending package if it includes money for the Gateway tunnel project in New York City, according to multiple sources. Trump's threat has complicated the outlook for the $1 trillion-plus spending measure, which Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) want to pass before government funding runs out on March 23.
“While it is highly unusual for a Republican president to threaten a veto on a funding bill coming from a GOP-run Congress — and risking a potential government shutdown — Trump is adamant in his opposition to the federal government underwriting the project, the sources said. ... The Gateway program costs an estimated $30 billion, with the long-sought tunnel project tallying $13 billion. Under an agreement worked out by the Obama administration, New York and New Jersey would pay half the cost, with the federal government picking up the rest.” http://politi.co/2DcyeIf
BRIAN FALER: “Hidden blacklist in GOP tax law could hit everyone from LeBron James to doctors”: “Republicans have created a big tax break for businesses, but not just any businesses.
“Their new tax law includes a little-noticed blacklist barring people working in certain fields, and earning more than $157,500, from claiming a new 20 percent deduction for unincorporated businesses called pass-throughs. It could prevent everyone from doctors to tanning salon owners to LeBron James from claiming the break.” http://politi.co/2G8tlTy
PLAYBOOK EVENTS -- RSVP for Bill Gates http://bit.ly/playbookbillgates … SXSW event with Reps. Nanette Barragan (D-Calif.), Will Hurd (R-Texas) and Terri Sewell (D-Ala.). http://bit.ly/playbooksxsw … Get involved in the Playbook Pool http://bit.ly/2Ga22bL
YOU MIGHT’VE NOTICED -- MSNBC’S “MORNING JOE” is airing live quite frequently from D.C. these days. The show has been live almost daily from NBC’s Capitol Hill studio, with a shot of the Capitol in the background.
JOE SCARBOROUGH TELLS US WHY: “Mika and I love doing the show from Washington. Spending more time in DC gives us one-on-one time with our sources and allows us to interview newsmakers on set instead of by remote. On a personal note, Mika gets to spend more time with her mother after the passing of Dr. Brzezinski. The two are also excited to be preparing for Mrs. Brzezinski’s upcoming art show in New York March 15th.”
IT’S A HARD KNOCK LIFE -- “Things Are So Bad For Paul Manafort He Now Has To Wear Two GPS Monitoring Bracelets,” by BuzzFeed’s Zoe Tillman: “Paul Manafort will stay under home confinement after pleading not guilty Thursday to the latest set of charges filed by special counsel Robert Mueller's office, but now he'll wear two GPS monitoring bracelets, instead of just one. ... He made his first appearance in the Alexandria courthouse on Thursday afternoon. US District Judge T.S. Ellis III ruled Manafort could be released pending trial, subject to home confinement and electronic monitoring, the same conditions he's under in DC. A Virginia probation officer explained to the judge that because of limits to the technology, she couldn't access the data from the DC bracelet, hence the need for two.” http://bzfd.it/2Fo0LAx
-- ABOUT ALL THOSE MUELLER STORIES -- “Mueller tight-lipped as media leaks shape Russia narrative,” by Darren Samuelsohn: http://politi.co/2oZZmVV
SPOTTED: “Trump lawyer Cohen seen at Mar-a-Lago amid porn star drama,” by CNN’s Elizabeth Landers and Kevin Liptak: “Michael Cohen, the private attorney who remains entangled in an ongoing legal spat with Stormy Daniels, visited Mar-a-Lago this past weekend as his legal disputes with the porn actress swelled, two sources told CNN.
“In a photograph posted on Instagram, Cohen is seen embracing televangelist Mark Burns, a Trump supporter. Burns posted the photo and said he was happy to see Cohen ‘2 days ago at #MarALago.’ President Donald Trump was also at the club headlining a series of Republican fundraisers. Cohen was seen on Friday evening greeting guests at a small event held in the Mar-a-Lago ballroom.” http://cnn.it/2Hkggpy
SUNDAY SO FAR – “Fox News Sunday,” guest-hosted by John Roberts: Panel: Jason Riley, Catherine Lucey, Charles Hurt, Juan Williams
-- NBC’s “Meet the Press”: Matt Bai, Elise Jordan, Peggy Noonan and Eugene Robinson
-- CBS’ “Face the Nation”: Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) ... North Korea panel: David Sanger, Mike Morrell and Jung Pak. Political panel: Molly Ball, Mike Gerson, Susan Glasser and Sharon Pettypiece
-- ABC’s “This Week”: Panel: Mary Bruce, Donna Brazile, Chris Christie, Jonathan Swan
-- CNN’s “State of the Union,” guest-hosted by Jim Acosta: Panel: Bakari Sellers, Amanda Carpenter, Anthony Scaramucci and Neera Tanden
-- CNN’s “Inside Politics” hosted by John King: Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Karoun Demirjian, Eliana Johnson, Nia-Malika Henderson
NYT’S JONATHAN MARTIN in PITTSBURGH: “Why G.O.P. Is Spending Millions on a Soon-to-Vanish Seat in Trump Country” http://nyti.ms/2oUGFDw
TWO ISAAC DOVERE STORIES … “Milwaukee steps up pitch for Dem convention” http://politi.co/2oWfOr0
-- “Team Biden mulls far-out options to take on Trump in 2020”: “On the list: announcing his candidacy either really early or really late in the primary process so that he'd define the field around him or let it define itself before scrambling the field; skipping Iowa and New Hampshire and going straight to South Carolina, where he has always had a strong base of support; announcing a running mate right out of the gate and possibly picking one from outside of politics; and making a pitch that he can be a bridge not just to disaffected Democrats, but to Republicans revolting against President Donald Trump.
“They've also discussed an idea some donors and supporters have been pitching Biden on directly for months: kick off by announcing that he'd only run for one term. One person who's pitched the idea said Biden would try to sell voters on "a reset presidency." The former vice president would pick a younger Democratic running mate and argue that he'd be the elder statesman to get the country and government back in order post-Trump and be the bridge to the next generation.” http://politi.co/2IenYmt
2020 WATCH -- “Democrats Consider Dropping Superdelegates Altogether,” by BuzzFeed’s Ruby Cramer and Ryan C. Brooks: “The Unity Reform Commission, formed by Sanders and Clinton to review the party’s nominating process, has since proposed a new system to effectively reduce superdelegates by about 60%: Elected officials and distinguished party leaders would remain ‘unpledged’ superdelegates, able to cast their vote for any candidate. The remaining superdelegates, namely the 447 members of the DNC, would have their delegates ‘bound’ to the their state’s primary or caucus vote.” http://bzfd.it/2p1kgnx
K-FILED – “Senior adviser at HUD spread conspiracy theory that Clinton campaign chairman was Satanist,” by CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski: “A senior adviser at the Department of Housing and Urban Development spread a false conspiracy theory that claimed Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign chairman took part in a Satanic ritual, a CNN KFile review of his tweets show. John Gibbs is a former conservative commentator who initially joined the HUD as the director for Strong Cities and Strong Communities, a program aimed at spurring economic development at the local level. In August of 2017, Gibbs, a political appointee, transitioned to the role of senior adviser, working in the office of the assistant secretary for community planning and development.” http://cnn.it/2Idk7Gn
THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION -- “Refugee skeptic lands top State Department refugee job,” by Nahal Toosi: “A White House aide close to senior policy adviser Stephen Miller who has advocated strict limits on immigration into the U.S. has been selected for a top State Department post overseeing refugee admissions, according to current and former officials. Andrew Veprek’s appointment as a deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) is alarming pro-immigration activists who fear that President Donald Trump is trying to effectively end the U.S. refugee resettlement program.” http://politi.co/2Dd5vD7
MEDIAWATCH -- “Jared Kushner Tried To Sell His Newspaper To Trump’s Political Enemies,” by BuzzFeed’s Charlie Warzel: “Just days before heading to a West Wing job, Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, was secretly engaged in talks to sell his struggling news organization, the New York Observer, to Clinton megadonor and Univision chair Haim Saban and Hillary Clinton ally David Brock — a progressive media figure with aspirations to turn the news outlet into ‘the Breitbart of the left.’
“After the 2016 election, Kushner and Observer Media chair Joseph Meyer reportedly sought to offload the paper to Trump allies, including American Media, the parent company of the National Enquirer, one of the media publications that portrayed Trump in a positive light during the campaign. But according to two sources, Kushner and Meyer found more attractive suitors in Hillaryland. In the days after the election, Observer Media executives took part in discussions with Saban and Brock.” http://bzfd.it/2DcpXE8
-- “Fox News settles gender discrimination lawsuit with female reporter, her lawyer says,” by CNN’s Oliver Darcy: “Diana Falzone, a reporter who covered entertainment and issues related to sexual harassment, has settled a lawsuit with Fox News and left the company, her lawyer told CNN Thursday evening. ‘We resolved Diana Falzone's case against Fox News and she no longer works there,’ Nancy Erika Smith, the attorney representing Falzone, told CNN in a statement. Smith said she could not disclose the terms of the settlement. Neither Falzone nor a spokesperson for Fox News immediately returned a request for comment.” http://cnnmon.ie/2Ihj4Fu
SPOTTED: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin flying coach to LaGuardia from DCA with chief of staff Eli Miller, assistant secretary for public affairs Tony Sayegh and the secretary’s security detail ... Corey Lewandowski on the phone yesterday afternoon at DCA before flying out to Boston
OUT AND ABOUT … PETER MIRIJANIAN PUBLIC AFFAIRS celebrated its 18th anniversary party last night at Teddy & The Bully Bar last night complete with Mirijanian at the mike belting out Sinatra. SPOTTED: former Rep. Tom McMillen (D-Md.), Abbe Lowell, Carl Hulse, Brody Mullins, Lyndon Boozer, David and Kitty DiMartino, Sara Glenn and Scott Salmon, Gerry Harrington, John Hughes, Lorraine Woellert, Bill Nelson, Hampton Pearson and Yebbie Watkins.
BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Tiffany Muller, president and executive director of End Citizens United. How she got her start in politics: “I grew up in rural Missouri but moved to Topeka, Kansas when I was in my 20s for what was, relatively, a more welcoming LGBT community. I got involved in grassroots activism, and through a mix of hard work and happenstance ended up becoming a member of the Topeka City Council, where I was the first openly gay public official in the state. It was a life-altering experience and taught me the importance of grassroots organizing.” Read his Playbook Plus Q&A: http://politi.co/2oWeKDw
BIRTHDAYS: Charlie Gibson is 75 ... Michael Kinsley is 67 … Faith Daniels is 61 ... Kristy Campbell of Jeb Bush-world (hat tip: Tim Miller) ... former USAID Administrator Raj Shah, now president of the Rockefeller Foundation, is 44 ... James Wallace is 8 (h/t grandfather Chris Wallace) ... Sarah Swinehart, VP of media at Edelman ... Pulitzer Prize winner and former chief White House photographer David Hume Kennerly of Roseburg, Oregon, who tells us he is “masking [his] age in the name of national security. The Russians or the FBI must not find out” ... former Sen. James L. Buckley (Conservative-N.Y.), is 95 ... NBC’s Andrew Rafferty is 31 ... Jake Lipsett ... Orlando Sentinel’s Bianca Padró Ocasio ... John Bisognano, director of campaigns and state engagement at the NDRC ... ASG’s Tony Harrington ... Warren Rojas, editor of Eater DC ... Sadie Weiner, comms director for N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper … Chloe Rockow, comms manager at the North Carolina Chamber (h/t Liz Johnson) ... Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-Texas) is 46 ... former Rep. Vito Fossella (R-N.Y.) is 53 ... NBC News senior politics desk editor Doug Adams … Edelman’s Polly Zintak ... Gabriela Hasaj is 21 (h/t boyfriend Christopher Forte) … Darrell Walker (h/t Randy White) ...
... Reagan Payne, government relations and public affairs manager at Cruise Automation ... Ryan Diffley, LA for Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ga.) (h/t Hadley Dreibelbis) ... Graham Brookie ... Margaret Carlson of Edge Research and the pride of Winston Salem ... Brooks Kraft … Jim Holmes ... Tom Matzzie, founder and CEO of CleanChoice Energy … Nicole Scro ... Julian Ingram … Michelle Merlin ... Marjorie Dannenfelser, Susan B. Anthony List President ... TIME’s Haley Sweetland Edwards ... Stefani Jones, comms manager at Microsoft ... Gordon Platt ... Terri Fish … Menza Weiss ... Matt Vogel … Amit Paley, CEO and executive director of the Trevor Project… Rev. E. Terri LaVelle ... Didem Nisanci … Facebook’s David Ginsberg ... Russell Drapkin ... Manish Kumar ... Stefanie Bassin ... Sarah Burke ... Hanan Rubin is 36 ... Neal B. Shapiro, president and CEO of WNET, is 6-0 ... Phil Neuenfeldt ... Lowell Junkins ... Kathryn Mitchell Ramstad ... Pat Alea ... Dani Lomasney ... Katie Schoettler ... Eric Williams ... Ryan Diffley ... Ron Hammond ... Lynda Boudreau.