SOMETHING MIGHT BE HAPPENING IN THE LONGHORN STATE -- Early voting numbers in Texas has GOP political operatives nervous -- Democrats outvoted Republicans in the top 15 counties. BY THE NUMBERS: 23.7% of Democratic primary voters are new. Only 10.8% of Republicans were first-time early voters in the primary.
THE TRENDLINE: Republicans are worried that could translate to a significant increase in Democratic-leaning general election voters across the state -- and, in worst case for Republicans, across the country. Check out this three-page PDF breaking down the stats: http://politi.co/2tld376
-- TEXAS TRIBUNE’S ANNIE DANIEL: “[More than] 650,000 Texans voted early in the state’s ten counties with the highest number of registered voters.
“Overall, 370,219 Democrats voted early in those ten counties compared to 282,928 Republicans. Four years earlier, Republicans outvoted Democrats in early voting in those ten counties 253,019 to 184,489, respectively. That means Democratic turnout more than doubled from four years ago, while Republican turnout rose less than 15 percent.
“When we factor population growth in these ten counties, Republican turnout was largely unchanged, with the percent of the voting-age population voting early remaining on-trend with previous years. Democratic turnout, however, was up in all ten counties except for Hidalgo County, which saw a drop in Democratic voter turnout from 6.1% of the voting age population voting early in 2014, to 5.1% in 2018.” http://bit.ly/2FgBBnt
STEVEN SHEPARD and ELENA SCHNEIDER: “5 things to watch in the first primary of 2018”: 1. Democrats are showing up in droves 2. Suburban watch: Dallas and Houston 3. Washington meddling in Democratic primaries 4. The personality primaries 5. A threat to the Bush name. Read the full story http://politi.co/2tlgjzh
PLAYBOOK AT SXSW: Going to SXSW? Join us for a fun conversation with REP. NANETTE BARRAGAN (D-CALIF.), REP. WILL HURD (R-TEXAS) and REP. TERRI SEWELL (D-ALA.) -- three young and up and coming leaders in Congress. WHEN: Sunday, March 11 at noon. WHERE: Just like last year, we’re holding our events at the WeDC house, which this year is centrally located blocks from the convention center at 709 E. 6th Street in Austin. RSVP, space is limited! http://bit.ly/playbooksxsw
-- PSST: We have a bunch of big-time events we’re going to announce in the coming days, so keep your eyes peeled.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING ABOUT SAM NUNBERG -- @KatyTurNBC -- Katy got the first TV interview: “Nunberg tells me he'll probably cooperate with Mueller in the end. He just doesn't want to make it easy. He thinks it isn't fair that they are asking for his personal communications. As of 8pm he says he had not talked to his lawyer.” …
NUNBERG called Sarah Huckabee Sanders a “fat slob” and a “joke” on New York 1, a local TV station. @jonathanvswan: “Nobody who knows Sam thinks he has anything interesting to offer Mueller. But his friends are worried about him.”
WAPO’S JOSH DAWSEY (who broke the story of Nunberg’s non cooperation) and PHIL RUCKER: “Following his interview with The Post, Nunberg called in live to MSNBC, CNN and other networks for lengthy phone interviews -- a spectacle reminiscent of Trump routinely calling into cable television control rooms during the 2016 campaign.” http://wapo.st/2oN2J3b
-- NUNBERG’S REVERSAL COMPLETE … AP’S JONATHAN LEMIRE at 4:23 a.m.: “In an interview with The Associated Press, Sam Nunberg said he was angry over Mueller’s request to have him appear in front of a grand jury and turn over thousands of emails and other communications with other ex-officials, among them his mentor Roger Stone. But he predicted that, in the end, he’d find a way to comply.
“‘I’m going to end up cooperating with them,’ he said.” http://bit.ly/2FhzrnG
-- SUSAN MCDOUGAL, a former business associate of Bill Clinton, spent 18 months in prison for doing what Nunberg is threatening to do. WAPO: “She said in an interview Monday she would not do anything differently — though Nunberg should know that being incarcerated is no joke. She said she was moved from facility to facility and spent a good deal of time in isolation.
“‘It is not an easy thing to do,’ McDougal said. ‘You don’t just go sit and work out in the afternoons.’”
-- NUNBERG sat down for a one-on-one with Mueller’s team in late February.
THE PLACE TO BE LAST NIGHT: JOE’S SEAFOOD. SPOTTED: House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy arriving at Joe’s Seafood last night with Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), who later sat in a booth with Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.). House Majority Whip Steve Scalise also was seen at the restaurant, as well as Reps. Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.), Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.) and Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) and Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.); Democratic Sens. Michael Bennet (Colo.), Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Joe Manchin (W.Va.) were also at the restaurant, as well as Frank Luntz.
Good Tuesday morning. FIRST IN PLAYBOOK -- A NEW WAVE COMING: GUN PROTESTS ACROSS THE COUNTRY: It won’t just be students participating in the “March for Our Lives” gun protest in Washington on March 24. Everytown for Gun Safety is announcing today that nearly 400 sibling protest marches in all 50 states are being organized in cities like Fairbanks, Alaska, Belfast, Maine and Mission, Texas. The group is giving out $2.5 million in grants for up to 500 student organizers to help pay for operational expenses.
TRUMP ON TARIFFS …
-- NYT’S ANA SWANSON, MARK LANDLER and MAGGIE HABERMAN on A1: “Trump Reaffirms Commitment to Tariffs but Opens Door to Compromise”: “President Trump, facing an angry chorus of protests from leaders of his own party, including the House speaker, Paul D. Ryan, insisted on Monday that he would not back down from his plan to impose across-the-board tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. But the White House was devising ways to potentially soften the impact of the measures on major trading partners.
“The intense maneuvering, which began before Mr. Trump’s unexpected announcement of the tariffs last Thursday, is likely to delay any formal rollout of the measures until next week, according to several officials who have been briefed on the deliberations.” http://nyti.ms/2FXzAtt
-- “Frustrated White House free traders mount campaign to weaken Trump tariffs,” by Andrew Restuccia, Ben White and Nancy Cook: “Gary Cohn and other free-trade advocates inside the White House and the Treasury Department are mounting a last-ditch effort to blunt the impact of Trump’s head-turning decision …
“West Wing aides led by Cohn, who directs the National Economic Council, are planning a White House meeting for Thursday with executives from industries likely to be hurt by big tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, two officials familiar with the matter said. The meeting is tentative and the participants have not yet been set in stone, but industries that could be hit hard by the tariffs include automakers and beverage companies.” http://politi.co/2FkaSCv
TIT-FOR-TAT -- “EU Proposes Retaliatory Tariff of 25% Against U.S. Goods,” by Bloomberg’s Viktoria Dendrinou and Jonathan Stearns: “The European Union intends to target 2.8 billion euros ($3.5 billion) of U.S. goods ranging from T-shirts and whiskey to motorcycles should President Donald Trump go ahead with his plan to impose a 25 percent tariff on foreign steel.” https://bloom.bg/2FWVvkf
TRUMP’S MIDDLE EAST PLAY -- “Trump’s Hopes of Being the ‘Neutral Guy’ in the Mideast Seem Long Gone,” by NYT’s Peter Baker and David Halbfinger: “In the midst of his campaign, President Trump vowed to bring peace to the Middle East by playing it down the middle between Israel and the Palestinians.
“‘Let me be sort of a neutral guy,’ he said. Two years later, any hopes of being the neutral guy are long gone. In a meeting at the White House on Monday, Mr. Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel put on display perhaps the closest relationship between leaders of their two countries in the seven decades since Israel declared independence.
“As for the Palestinians, they are no longer on speaking terms with the president, who is busy cutting their aid. ... ‘The Palestinians, I think, are wanting to come back to the table very badly,’ he said, despite evidence to the contrary. Then he acknowledged what would happen if he is wrong. ‘If they don’t, you don’t have peace.’” http://nyti.ms/2FYvgdh
BURGESS EVERETT … KNOWING CORY GARDNER -- “‘He’s a brave man’: The lonely existence of Cory Gardner: The head of the Senate GOP campaign arm is ripping Democrats one minute, and trying to cut deals with them the next”: “Senate Republican campaigns chief Cory Gardner might’ve had the easiest job in Washington — if only Hillary Clinton had won.
“Instead, the centrist-minded Coloradan has found himself in one of the toughest predicaments in town: leading the Republican battalion in what’s instead shaping up as an anti-Trump Democratic wave election, while at the same time trying to cut legislative deals with some of the senators he’s campaigning hardest to defeat.
“Gardner is going to need bipartisan accomplishments to survive his own swing-state reelection race in 2020. It’s not exactly what the sunny, glad-handing pol was signing up for when he put in for the job just before the 2016 election. ‘He’s a brave man,’ said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a former [NRSC] chairman and now the party whip. ‘I admire him for being willing to take on the challenge.’” http://politi.co/2FfStKX
TRUMP’S TUESDAY -- The president will meet and participate in an expanded bilateral meeting with Sweden Prime MInister Stefan Löfven. Afterward, he will meet with Swedish business representatives and hold a joint press conference with the prime minister.
FIRST IN PLAYBOOK -- MARYLAND GOV. LARRY HOGAN is out with a new gerrymandering video (titled “Dragons, and Cows, and Dogs...Oh My!”) featuring Hogan and man on the street interviews of people talking about what they think Maryland’s gerrymandered 3rd congressional district looks like, held by Democratic Rep. John Sarbanes. 90-second video http://bit.ly/2FuIG32
NEW OFF MESSAGE PODCAST -- DGA CHAIR JAY INSLEE to Isaac Dovere on getting Democrats to make governors races the rallying cry of the resistance: “It’s a great awakening that we have to fight on a state-by-state basis.”
“We have Republican governors who are kowtowing to Donald Trump and will continue to do so, who have been lackeys to his abysmal record and his moral depravity and his inhumane policies, and that all across the country they will be called to account for that chaotic behavior,” Inslee said. “It’s been amazing to me, shocking and disappointing, that we have so many Republicans who now aspire for governor who just are afraid and shaking in their boots and won’t stand up against this man in the White House.” http://politi.co/2FtDts1
THE STORY THAT NEVER ENDS – “Trump Lawyer’s Payment to Stormy Daniels Was Reported as Suspicious by Bank,” by WSJ’s Joe Palazzolo and Michael Rothfeld: “The bank used by President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer to wire $130,000 to a former adult-film actress flagged the transaction as suspicious and reported it to the Treasury Department, according to a person familiar with the matter. The lawyer, Michael Cohen, wired the money to a lawyer for former actress Stephanie Clifford, known professionally as Stormy Daniels, from an account at First Republic Bank. The money was received on Oct. 27, 2016, 12 days before the presidential election, another person familiar with the matter said.
“It isn’t clear when First Republic reported it to the government as suspicious. Mr. Cohen said he missed two deadlines earlier that month to make the $130,000 payment to Ms. Clifford because he couldn’t reach Mr. Trump in the hectic final days of the presidential campaign ... Ms. Clifford was owed the money in return for signing an agreement that bars her from discussing an alleged sexual encounter with Mr. Trump in 2006 ... After Mr. Trump’s victory, Mr. Cohen complained to friends that he had yet to be reimbursed for the payment to Ms. Clifford.” http://on.wsj.com/2FuCGHy
-- Joshua Partlow (@partlowj): “Trump’s name comes off the hotel in Panama. Video by @aicerrud” http://bit.ly/2oLSOuz
MEGATRENDS -- “U.S. Will Be the World’s Largest Oil Producer by 2023, Says IEA,” by WSJ’s Sarah Kent and Timothy Puko: “The U.S. is likely to overtake Russia to become the world’s largest oil producer by 2023, accounting for most of the global growth in petroleum supplies, a top industry monitor said Monday. U.S. crude production is expected to reach a record of 12.1 million barrels a day in 2023, up from 10.6 million a day this year, said the International Energy Agency, which advises governments and corporations on industry trends. American oil output will surge past Russia, currently the world’s largest crude producer at roughly 11 million barrels a day.” http://on.wsj.com/2oTgGeW
FOR YOUR RADAR -- “U.S. Government Intervenes in Broadcom’s Bid for Qualcomm,” by WSJ’s Kate O’Keeffe, Stu Woo and Ted Greenwald: “The U.S. government inserted itself into the technology industry’s biggest potential takeover, postponing a key shareholder vote on grounds that the deal could endanger the country’s technological prowess and, in turn, national security.
“The Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., an interagency group chaired by the Treasury Department that can recommend the president block deals, ordered Qualcomm to delay its annual shareholder meeting by 30 days to give CFIUS time to review Singapore-based rival Broadcom Ltd.’s proposed $117 billion takeover of the chip maker. Qualcomm has rejected Broadcom’s advances, consistently flagging a national-security review as a potential stumbling block to a deal.” http://on.wsj.com/2FmsZr6
HMM -- “A Top Trump Fund-Raiser Says Qatar Hacked His Email,” by NYT’s David Kirkpatrick in London: “A cyberwar in the Persian Gulf reverberated in the United States this week as a top Republican fund-raiser accused agents for Qatar of hacking into his email to plant damaging articles in the American news media. The fund-raiser, Elliott Broidy, 60, a national deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee, is the owner of a company with hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts to provide services to the United Arab Emirates.
“Qatar called Mr. Broidy’s charges a false ‘diversionary tactic to distract from the serious allegations against himself and his client, the United Arab Emirates.’ Mr. Broidy and Qatar each threatened legal actions. The dispute illustrates how conflicts around the globe can echo through American news media, politics and courts, as rivals compete for the favor of Washington and the sympathies of the West.” http://nyti.ms/2FWOos3
MEDIAWATCH -- NYT’S MICHAEL GRYNBAUM and JOHN HERRMAN: “New Foils for the Right: Google and Facebook”: “Conservatives are zeroing in on a new enemy in the political culture wars: Big Tech.
“Arguing that Silicon Valley is stifling their speech and suppressing right-wing content, publishers and provocateurs on the right are eyeing a public-relations battle against online giants like Google and Facebook, the same platforms they once relied on to build a national movement.
“In a sign of escalation, Peter Schweizer, a right-wing journalist known for his investigations into Hillary Clinton, plans to release a new film focusing on technology companies and their role in filtering the news.
“Tentatively titled ‘The Creepy Line,’ Mr. Schweizer’s documentary is expected to have its first screening in May in Cannes, France — during the Cannes Film Festival, but not as part of the official competition. He used the same rollout two years ago for his previous film, an adaptation of his book ‘Clinton Cash’ that he produced with Stephen K. Bannon, the former head of Breitbart News.” http://nyti.ms/2FjXz4N
-- WHAT’S NEW AT ROLLING STONE: “‘He Can Go From a B Player to an A Player’: At Rolling Stone, Ryan Lizza is Writing, Jann and Gus Wenner are Still Kicking Around, and Jay Penske is the Media Tycoon Du Jour,” by Vanity Fair’s Joe Pompeo: “It’s been two-and-half months since the onetime counterculture bible, founded by Jann Wenner in 1967, found its safe harbor in Jay Penske, a 39-year-old automotive scion whose Penske Media Corporation acquired a 51 percent stake in Rolling Stone after Wenner finally unloaded the other 49 percent to a Singapore-based music start-up, BandLab, in 2016. ...
“Jann and his 27-year-old son, Gus, are staying on the payroll—as editorial director and president/chief operating officer, respectively—and Gus has been given a seat on PMC’s advisory board. ... PMC is also on the prowl for brand-name recruits. One person Rolling Stone has approached is Ryan Lizza, the veteran political journalist who became one in a long list of #MeToo casualties ... CNN, where Lizza is a contributor, ‘found no reason to continue to keep Mr. Lizza off the air’ after a six-week investigation into the matter.) … [A]fter Lizza was cleared by CNN, and Rolling Stone had conducted its own due diligence, the editors moved forward with freelance assignments, as originally planned. (He currently has two pieces in the works for the magazine.)” http://bit.ly/2D3rxIc
SPOTTED: former Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) in first class on Alaska Airlines from LAX to DCA Monday afternoon – pic http://bit.ly/2Ff59S9
TRANSITIONS -- Faith Vander Voort, press secretary and digital director for Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) and digital adviser to the Republican Study Committee, is heading to the Department of the Interior to become deputy press secretary to Secretary Ryan Zinke. (h/t Morning Media)
BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: David Bradley, chairman and CEO of Atlantic Media, which owns and operates the Atlantic, Quartz, National Journal Group and Government Executive Media Group. Something he thinks deserves more attention: “A freelance reporter, Austin Tice, has been missing in Syria for five and a half years. We are almost certain he is alive. Austin is one of us. He is a Georgetown grad, now on leave from Georgetown law school. It’s long past time for him to come home.” Read his Playbook Plus Q&A: http://politi.co/2tlkDP1
BIRTHDAYS: Catherine Wilkins of the White House (hat tip: Cassie Williams) ... Alan Greenspan is 92 ... Jennifer Skyler, head of public affairs at WeWork ... John Stossel is 71 ... Saul Anuzis, former chairman of the Michigan Republican Party, is 59 ... Bill Huey is 71 ... Reuters’ Jim Bourg ... sports correspondent Armen Keteyian is 65 ... former FBI and CIA director William Webster is 94 ... former Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) is 79 ... Pablo Chavez, general manager of Microsoft U.S. policy and LinkedIn global policy (h/t Mistique Cano) ... Blake Gottesman, principal at Berkshire Partners and a Bush 43 WH alum ... Theodore Furchtgott ... Kara Carscaden, an Obama alum ... Anthony Foti, COS for Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.) ... WashPost assistant Outlook editor Jenny Rogers ... Jonathan Day, COS for Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) (h/ts Blain Rethmeier and Matt Everson) ...
... Alex Stroman of TransCanada’s D.C. office ... Baltimore Sun’s Erin Cox ... Sandra Salstrom ... Joe Perticone, politics reporter at Business Insider, is 28 (h/ts AnnaMaria Di Petro and Mallory Shelbourne) … Phil Basser is 100 ... Jacqui Newman, COO of the DCCC ... Brooke Gladstone, co-host of WNYC’s “On the Media” ... Chris Leavitt ... Alyssa Backlund ... Lisa Todorovich Porter ... Anna Kopperud ... Brendon Plack, staff director of the Senate Republican Conference ... Ellen Canale … Emily Leviner, LD and chief counsel for Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) ... Abby VandeHei ... Karen Lightfoot … Mike Thigpen … Courtney Beese ... Shannon Moriarty, comms director at NYU Furman Center (hubby tip: Joe Cutrufo) ... Ghana turns 61 on its Independence Day (h/t @BCIU) ... Alyssa Denise ... Sam Spence … Katy Bayless, director of federal relations for Clemson University … Andie Coller ... Kathleen J. Becker ... Steve Fox ... Jenny Vidas ... Joseph Porcelli ... Kim Moxley ... Tim Bergreen ... Karen Lightfoot ... Lanon Baccam (h/t Teresa Vilmain)