THE PRESIDENT has just one thing on his schedule today: a lunch with VP Mike Pence. Congress is out of session this week.
BASEBALL SEASON starts this week. The Nats open up Thursday in Cincinnati. They have one last preseason game tomorrow at Nats Park versus the Minnesota Twins.
Good Monday morning. ABOUT LAST NIGHT … STORMY DANIELS …
-- THE MOST SURPRISING ELEMENT: “Stormy Daniels said she felt threatened to remain silent about Trump affair,” by Brent D. Griffiths: “Adult film actress Stormy Daniels said she had a sexual relationship with Donald Trump in 2006 but signed a statement this year denying it because she was afraid of repercussions from Trump attorney Michael Cohen.
“‘They made it sound like I had no choice,’ Daniels told Anderson Cooper in a interview airing Sunday night on ‘60 Minutes,’ specifying that she feared legal retribution. ‘As a matter of fact, the exact sentence used was, 'They can make your life hell in many different ways.’
“Daniels, whose given name is Stephanie Clifford, said it was not the first time she felt threatened over the affair. She said the first instance occurred when she spoke to InTouch Magazine in 2011. Daniels said an unknown man came up to her in a parking lot and threatened Daniels and her daughter. ‘I was in a parking lot, going to a fitness class with my infant daughter,’ she said. ‘And a guy walked up on me and said to me, ‘Leave Trump alone. Forget the story.’ The man looked at her infant daughter, then added, ‘that’s a beautiful little girl. It’d be a shame if something happened to her mom,’ Daniels told ‘60 Minutes.’” https://politi.co/2G9SzQR … The double-length segment https://cbsn.ws/2ufeXXy
WHAT DID WE LEARN LAST NIGHT? The most interesting nugget: Stormy says she was approached by a man who threatened her. Many of the other details have been out there.
-- MICHAEL CALDERONE reviews ANDERSON COOPER’S performance: “Anderson Cooper walked a fine line on ‘60 Minutes.’ For a newsman proud of visiting disaster zones and bringing attention to the dispossessed, Cooper risked embarrassment in his interview with porn star Stormy Daniels, but soldiered through with a deadpan stare and a furrowed brow. The ultimate verdict on his interview – almost certainly the most highly watched moment of his career – will be whether viewers accept his claim that this is serious news.” https://politi.co/2ITsKGo
-- 60 MINUTES OVERTIME: “Why the Stormy Daniels story matters: Anderson Cooper talks about his 60 Minutes interview with the porn star: ‘I think there’s more to come on this story.’” https://cbsn.ws/2GlPDDR
-- @maggieNYT: “NEWS - Trump had dinner with Michael Cohen [Saturday] night. Night before the Stormy Daniels interview.”
COHEN’s attorney sent Stormy a cease and desist, per the Daily Mail. https://dailym.ai/2ulwrBl
-- Megan Twohey (@mega2e): “One of the most pressing questions coming out of this Stormy interview: Who threatened her to stay silent about Trump while she was walking with her baby daughter in a parking lot in Las Vegas, implying that she would face physical harm if she spoke out?”
-- BOSTON GLOBE’S MATT VISER: “How Stormy Daniels is beating Trump at his own game”: “Stormy Daniels is proving that she is the master of the prolonged reveal.
“Over the past 2½ months, the adult film actress and her lawyer have rolled out a textbook negative media campaign against the master of media manipulation, with a series of tantalizing details and disclosures that has provoked a storm of salacious and damaging news coverage.
“And the worst for President Trump, who is in the rare position of struggling to win a tabloid-style media war, is yet to come. Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, is scheduled to appear in a ‘60 Minutes’ segment on Sunday in which she is expected to tell plenty more about her alleged affair with Trump in 2006.” http://bit.ly/2IR6o8w
DANIELS WAS pretty even-keeled, and came off sounding credible. Plus, having former FEC Chairman Trevor Potter (who was appointed by President George H.W. Bush) saying this looks more damning than the case against John Edwards also isn’t a great look for Trump.
THE BIG QUESTION: How will this impact the president? OUR BET: Not a lot, at least in the short term. The FEC takes a long time to prosecute these types of cases. THE WILDCARD: Like much in Trumpworld: Special Counsel Robert Mueller. How will he use the Daniels controversy in his ongoing investigation? Meanwhile, Trump has been silent. No big tweetstorm on Sunday night. Just a tweet about a book conservative Howie Carr wrote about his election.
THINGS MUELLER MIGHT BE INTERESTED IN …
-- WAPO’S CRAIG TIMBERG and TOM HAMBURGER in LONDON: “Former Cambridge Analytica workers say firm sent foreigners to advise U.S. campaigns”: “Cambridge Analytica assigned dozens of non-U.S. citizens to provide campaign strategy and messaging advice to Republican candidates in 2014, according to three former workers for the data firm, even as an attorney warned executives to abide by U.S. laws limiting foreign involvement in elections.
“The assignments came amid efforts to present the newly created company as ‘an American brand’ that would appeal to U.S. political clients even though its parent, SCL Group, was based in London, according to former Cambridge Analytica research director Christopher Wylie.” https://wapo.st/2pFoZMN
-- NYT’S KEN VOGEL and DAVID KIRKPATRICK: “Fund-Raiser Held Out Access to Trump as a Prize for Prospective Clients”: “For Elliott Broidy, Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign represented an unparalleled political and business opportunity. An investor and defense contractor, Mr. Broidy became a top fund-raiser for Mr. Trump’s campaign when most elite Republican donors were keeping their distance, and Mr. Trump in turn overlooked the lingering whiff of scandal from Mr. Broidy’s 2009 guilty plea in a pension fund bribery case. After Mr. Trump’s election, Mr. Broidy quickly capitalized, marketing his Trump connections to politicians and governments around the world, including some with unsavory records, according to interviews and documents obtained by The New York Times.
“Mr. Broidy suggested to clients and prospective customers of his Virginia-based defense contracting company, Circinus, that he could broker meetings with Mr. Trump, his administration and congressional allies. Mr. Broidy’s ability to leverage his political connections to boost his business illuminates how Mr. Trump’s unorthodox approach to governing has spawned a new breed of access peddling in the swamp he vowed to drain.
“Mr. Broidy offered tickets to V.I.P. inauguration events, including a candlelight dinner attended by Mr. Trump, to a Congolese strongman accused of funding a lavish lifestyle with public resources. He helped arrange a meeting with Republican senators and offered a trip to Mar-a-Lago, the president’s private Florida resort, for an Angolan politician. And he arranged an invitation to a party at Mr. Trump’s Washington hotel for a Romanian parliamentarian facing corruption charges, who posted a photograph with the president on Facebook.” https://nyti.ms/2pFrSwa
-- “Mueller probe witness secretly backed UAE agenda in Congress,” by AP’s Desmond Butler, Tom LoBianco and Brad Klapper: “A top fundraiser for President Donald Trump received millions of dollars from a political adviser to the United Arab Emirates last April, just weeks before he began handing out a series of large political donations to U.S. lawmakers considering legislation targeting Qatar, the UAE’s chief rival in the Persian Gulf, an Associated Press investigation has found. George Nader, an adviser to the UAE who is now a witness in the U.S. special counsel investigation into foreign meddling in American politics, wired $2.5 million to the Trump fundraiser, Elliott Broidy, through a company in Canada, according to two people who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.
“They said Nader paid the money to Broidy to bankroll an effort to persuade the U.S. to take a hard line against Qatar, a long-time American ally but now a bitter adversary of the UAE. A month after he received the money, Broidy sponsored a conference on Qatar’s alleged ties to Islamic extremism. During the event, Republican Congressman Ed Royce of California, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, announced he was introducing legislation that would brand Qatar as a terrorist-supporting state.” https://bit.ly/2DUO9eo
WHO HAS TRUMP’S BACK? … “At a Crucial Juncture, Trump’s Legal Defense Is Largely a One-Man Operation,” by NYT’s Mike Schmidt and Maggie Haberman: “As President Trump heads into one of the most critical phases of the special counsel’s investigation, his personal legal team has shrunk to essentially just one member, and he is struggling to find any top lawyers willing to represent him.
“Working for a president is usually seen as a dream job. But leading white-collar lawyers in Washington and New York have repeatedly spurned overtures to take over the defense of Mr. Trump, a mercurial client who often ignores his advisers’ guidance. In some cases, lawyers’ firms have blocked any talks, fearing a backlash that would hurt business. The president lost two lawyers in just the past four days, including one who had been on board for less than a week.
“That leaves the president with just one personal lawyer who is working full time on the special counsel’s investigation as Mr. Trump is facing one of the most significant decisions related to it: whether to sit for an interview. That lawyer, Jay Sekulow, is a conservative commentator who made his name on religious freedom cases. Mr. Sekulow is in talks with other lawyers about joining the team, although it is not clear how far those discussions have progressed.” https://nyti.ms/2I3Ctsq
WHO MIGHT REPLACE DAVID SHULKIN -- “AP sources: Trump plans to oust Shulkin as VA secretary,” by Hope Yen and Ken Thomas: “One person familiar with the White House discussions told the AP on Sunday that the White House was looking closely at roughly half a dozen candidates to head the VA, the government’s second-largest department with 370,000 employees.
“Among the candidates being vetted include [Pete] Hegseth, a former military officer and former CEO of the conservative Concerned Veterans for America; former Rep. Jeff Miller, who had been chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee; retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg; Michael Kussman, a former VA undersecretary of health; Toby Cosgrove, a former president and CEO of the Cleveland Clinic; and Leo Mackay Jr., a former VA deputy secretary who is now senior vice president at Lockheed Martin Corp.” https://bit.ly/2ISuxvb
-- HEADS UP MR. PRESIDENT: Former Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) is a lobbyist.
ABOUT RICK GATES -- DARREN SAMUELSOHN: “Though it is a virtual given that Gates will sell out his business partner and Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, less understood is the direct threat Gates could pose to President Donald Trump.
“That’s the conclusion of several lawyers involved in the Russia case and more than 15 current and former Trump aides and associates interviewed by POLITICO to determine how much danger Gates’s guilty plea could pose to the president and his inner circle, and how alarmed they might be by his testimony. …
“‘He saw everything,’ said a Republican consultant who worked with Gates during the campaign. The consultant called Gates one of the ‘top five’ insiders whom Mueller could have tapped as a cooperative government witness. One defense attorney in the case said that Gates’s plea has triggered palpable alarm in Trump world.” https://politi.co/2ukcr23
WSJ’S NICK TIMIRAOS: “New York Fed Eyes John Williams as Its Next Leader: San Francisco Fed president would succeed William Dudley, pending approval”: “The New York Fed’s board of directors has recommended Mr. Williams for the job, according to people familiar with the matter, to succeed the retiring William Dudley. Mr. Williams would need approval by the Fed’s Washington-based board of governors; a final decision could be announced next month.” https://on.wsj.com/2GcZtVe
ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST -- REP. RYAN COSTELLO (R-PA.) WON’T RUN FOR REELECTION via (the Chester County, Pa.) Daily Local News’ Michael Rellahan: “‘It was a combination of factors,’ Costello said of his startling decision, citing personal and political considerations that weighed heavily on him, as well as a distaste for the prospects of waging a bitter and costly campaign to hold the office he has occupied since 2015. ‘It has been a deeply personal decision and evaluation.
“‘But those who love me agree and those who I love agree with it,’ a seemingly resigned and subdued Costello said in a one-on-one interview in West Chester. ‘I will not be running for re-election.’” https://bit.ly/2G9npsx
-- COSTELLO talks to Kasie Hunt on MSNBC’s “Kasie DC.” http://bit.ly/2umkR96
THE JUICE …
-- FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: AMERICAN ACTION NETWORK is spending another $1 million to promote the Republican tax overhaul. Half will be on digital advertisements, half on television in 26 districts, they said.
The script: "The middle-class tax cut by the numbers. ... Three million Americans received bonuses. ... Wage growth fastest in eight years. ... Consumer confidence highest in almost eighteen years. ... Working families saving two thousand dollars a year. ... That’s more money for our mortgage. ... More for groceries and gas. ... More to save for college and retirement. ... Add it up. ... Then thank (Member of Congress) for cutting our taxes. ... And tell (him/her) to keep fighting for working families." The ad http://bit.ly/2I4Jt8B ... List of the districts http://bit.ly/2Gokv6K
-- BEN SCHRECKINGER is returning to POLITICO in April after a stint at GQ. From CARRIE BUDOFF BROWN in a 5:31 a.m. email to the POLITICO staff: “There have been countless times since his departure for GQ last fall that we kicked around some idea, for an article, only to realize that only Schreck could probably do it justice. We couldn’t be happier to have him back as the midterms, the 2020 campaign and the Russia investigation continue to heat up.”
YOU’RE INVITED … Join us for our first Playbook University in North Carolina with GOV. ROY COOPER on THURSDAY at Penn Pavilion at Duke University. Doors open at 11:45 a.m. RSVP http://bit.ly/2IqsO09
2018 READ … KEVIN ROBILLARD on DON BLANKENSHIP in TRIADELPHIA, West Virginia: “Can the Most Hated Man in West Virginia Win?” https://politi.co/2G9QT9Q
JUST POSTED -- MARGARET TALBOT in the New Yorker, “Dirty Politics: Scott Pruitt’s E.P.A. is giving even ostentatious polluters a reprieve”: “Renée Dagseth, who worked on the program that informed communities about toxic leaks, left the E.P.A. last summer. ‘Senior career management seems to be frozen out of decisionmaking,’ she said. ‘We’re trying to do the work while waiting for the floor to drop out. And to be led by people who have made it really clear that they don’t have respect for that mission is demoralizing. And I think intentionally so. The plan for ‘red’ and ‘blue’ teams to debate climate change? This isn’t some game show! We’re talking about the survival of the planet.’” https://bit.ly/2HZpcRE
AT WAR -- “U.S. Strikes Qaeda Target in Southern Libya, Expanding Shadow War There,” by NYT’s Declan Walsh in Benghazi and Eric Schmitt in Washington: “The United States military carried out its first ever drone strike against Qaeda militants in southern Libya this weekend, signaling a possibly significant expansion of the American counterterrorism campaign in the North African nation. Until now, the Pentagon had focused its counterterrorism strikes in Libya almost exclusively on Islamic State fighters and operatives farther north — eight since President Trump took office.
“In 2016, the military conducted nearly 500 airstrikes in the coastal city of Surt over several months to destroy the Islamic State’s stronghold there. But the attack on Saturday that the military’s Africa Command said had killed two militants — later identified by a spokeswoman as belonging to Al Qaeda’s branch in northwestern Africa — took place in the country’s southwest, a notorious haven for a deadly mix of Al Qaeda and other extremist groups that also operate in the Sahel region of Niger, Chad, Mali and Algeria.” https://nyti.ms/2G9CbUc
BEYOND THE BELTWAY -- “Newman: My family will never forgive Lipinski,” by Illinois Playbooker Natasha Korecki in Chicago: “The sting of defeat is still fresh, but just days after narrowly losing to longtime incumbent Rep. Dan Lipinski, progressive challenger Marie Newman isn’t ruling out a rematch. In her first public remarks since falling short of ousting Lipinski, a ‘ridiculously proud’ Newman, sounded like someone who wasn’t about to end her foray into politics.
“‘I don’t know what the future holds,’ she said Sunday in an exclusive interview with POLITICO. ‘I’m not closing any doors on anything. The next month will be about looking at where I can be most impactful. I’ve already been offered many things. I’ll be looking at a wide variety of things.’” https://politi.co/2GmcP57
SPOTTED: Valerie Jarrett at Brothers and Sisters Sunday morning … former VP Dick Cheney and wife Lynne boarding a Delta flight from Minneapolis to DCA Sunday … Eric Holder boarding the Delta shuttle to DC at LGA on Sunday … Steny Hoyer on Sunday in the Philadelphia airport -- pic https://bit.ly/2GnYW6t
BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Bob Woodward, associate editor of the Washington Post, is 75. He’s celebrating with a “birthday dinner at probably The Study in New Haven, Connecticut with wife Elsa and youngest daughter Diana.” How he got his start in journalism: “Started in journalism with a two-week tryout with The Washington Post in 1970; failed tryout; worked for a weekly paper in Washington suburbs for a year; hired by The Post in September 1971.” Read his Playbook Plus Q&A: https://politi.co/2ujpyAB
BIRTHDAYS: Russ Vought, deputy director of OMB (hat tip: wife Mary) ... Margaret Brennan (h/t Caitlin Conant) … House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is 78 ... Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao is 65 … NBC News alum Nancy Snyderman ... Larry Page, CEO of Google’s parent company Alphabet, is 45 ... former Rhode Island Sen. Lincoln Chafee is 65 ... Matt Lira ... Kelli Ritter ... James Gelfand … Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is 83 ... Riley Madden ... Jon Huntsman, U.S. Ambassador to Russia, is 58 (h/t Rick Ahearn) ... retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor is 88 ... Fox News personality Jason Chaffetz is 51 ... Jenny Kaplan ... Medium alum Kate Lee ... Amanda Lee House, deputy political editor at Breitbart ... Katie Hughes ... Sarah Iyere ... Caroline Darmody, law student at Harvard and a Joe Kennedy alum ... Joe Sangirardi, associate director of giving at the Human Rights Campaign (h/t Mitchell Rivard) … Chandler Hudson, managing director of digital at FP1 Strategies (h/t Laszlo Baksay) ... Miriam Warren, VP at DCI Group ...
… NYT’s Vivian Yee … Kira Kleaveland, producer for “CBS This Morning” … Kevin Zeithaml, O’Malley and Levar Stoney alum and current campaign manager for RD Huffstetler (VA-5), is 25 (h/t Matt Corridoni) … Michael Waxman, CEO of Waxman Strategies ... Chris Rovzar, editor of Bloomberg Pursuits ... Pamela Pulkownik ... FDIC’s Edward Garnett III … Carlos Mark Vera (h/t Nihal Krishan) ... Melanie Roussell Newman, chief public engagement and communications strategist of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund ... Lori D’Orazio … Phil Chui, associate at K&L Gates ... Stacy Rastauskas, VP for gov’t relations of Ohio State ... Jane Butterfield ... Lexi Neaman of Twitter DC ... Rachel Milkovich of Doctors Without Borders ... Kevin Zeithaml ... Melissa Turley Toufanian ... WaPo alum Patricia Weems Gaston ... Bill Lucey ... Parker Brettell … Bob McDevitt ... Michael Sean Comerford ... Lisa Quigley ... Kyla Peyton-Buzi ... Nelson Reyneri ... Danielle Engel ... Kristen Atwood ... Kate Mente.