NEW: HOUSE MINORITY LEADER NANCY PELOSI raised $16.1 million for House Democrats in the first quarter of 2018, a massive pile of cash that brings her total this cycle to $66.7 million. She is outpacing her fundraising of the 2016 cycle by nearly $10 million, according to sources familiar with the effort. Pelosi has an unmatched ability to raise cash, and that's crucial for any Hill leader. Her ability to raise money for the party is always the subject of chatter in the Capitol. NEXT UP: Pelosi is doing fundraisers in New York, Boston, Tampa and south Florida this recess.
A MESSAGE FROM WHCA PRESIDENT MARGARET TALEV: “I want to tell you how much your kind words meant to me following my personal remarks at [Saturday] night’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner about the roots of my belief in journalism’s essential role.
“I also have heard from members expressing dismay with the entertainer’s monologue and concerns about how it reflects on our mission. Olivier Knox, who will take over this summer as our president, and I, recognize these concerns and are committed to hearing from members on your views on the format of the dinner going forward.
“Last night’s program was meant to offer a unifying message about our common commitment to a vigorous and free press while honoring civility, great reporting and scholarship winners, not to divide people. Unfortunately, the entertainer’s monologue was not in the spirit of that mission.
“Every day we are working hard to advocate for our members and ensure coverage that benefits the public, and the dinner is an important opportunity to highlight and maintain our essential work. The White House Correspondents’ Association remains dedicated to that mission.”
-- THERE WAS A LOT OF TALK at the Sunday post-WHCD brunches about making a change to the format of the dinner if the president doesn’t attend. One idea gaining steam: scrapping the comedian altogether.
WHAT’S ON TRUMP’S MIND ... @realDonaldTrump at at 10:38 p.m.: “The White House Correspondents’ Dinner was a failure last year, but this year was an embarrassment to everyone associated with it. The filthy ‘comedian’ totally bombed (couldn’t even deliver her lines-much like the Seth Meyers weak performance). Put Dinner to rest, or start over!”
… at 10:59 p.m.: “Headline: ‘Kim Prepared to Cede Nuclear Weapons if U.S. Pledges Not to Invade’ - from the Failing New York Times. Also, will shut down Nuclear Test Site in May.”
RONNY JACKSON, OUT -- ELIANA JOHNSON: “Ronny Jackson won’t return to old job as Trump’s physician”: “White House physician Ronny Jackson will not return to his role as the president’s personal physician, according to two senior administration officials, after a string of allegations caused the Navy rear admiral to withdraw his nomination last week to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“Sean Conley, a Navy officer who took over Jackson’s role as the president’s personal doctor last month, will continue in the role, the officials said.” https://politi.co/2HHqp0p
STAT’S HELEN BRANSWELL: “Bill Gates got President Trump fired up about a universal flu vaccine — and also (maybe) got a job offer”: “The idea fired up the president, who Gates described as ‘super interested.’ In a matter of moments, Trump had Scott Gottlieb, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, on speakerphone, asking him about a vaccine that could generate lasting protection against a range of seasonal and animal flu viruses with pandemic potential. ‘Hey, Gates says there’s a universal flu vaccine. Is that crazy?’ the philanthropist, bemused, recalled the president asking. ...
“Trump [also] hasn’t named anyone to fill the vacant post of White House science adviser. The last director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, John Holdren, resigned at the end of the Obama administration. Many in the scientific community are worried about this vacancy. Gates brought it up during his 40-minute meeting with Trump. ‘I mentioned: “Hey, maybe we should have a science adviser.”’ And? ‘He said: Did I want to be the science adviser?’ ... ‘That’s not a good use of my time,’ Gates recalled telling the president.” http://bit.ly/2KkyN7v
THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION -- “‘Ready, shoot, aim’: President Trump’s loyalty tests cause hiring headaches,” by WaPo’s Ashley Parker, Phil Rucker and Josh Dawsey: “Credentialed candidates have had to prove loyalty to the president, with many still being blocked for previous anti-Trump statements. Hundreds of national security officials, for example, were nixed from consideration because they spoke out against Trump during the campaign. But for longtime Trump loyalists, their fidelity to the president is often sufficient, obscuring what in a more traditional administration would be red flags. ...
“Trump’s operating principle is ‘ready, shoot, aim, as opposed to ready, aim, shoot,’ said one White House official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to comment candidly. A Republican strategist who works closely with the West Wing was even more blunt: ‘The Trump White House vetting machine is an oxymoron. There’s only one answer — Trump decides who he wants and tells people. That’s the vetting process.’” https://wapo.st/2HBa5ST
-- TRUMP TO DALLAS: “Trump expected to address NRA’s annual meeting,” by CNN’s Jeremy Diamond: “President Donald Trump is expected to speak at the National Rifle Association's annual meeting later this week in Dallas, two sources familiar with the matter told CNN. The trip would be Trump’s third consecutive address to the NRA's annual meeting. But this year, Trump is set to speak to the gun lobby just two months after he drew concerns from conservatives after urging lawmakers to not fear the NRA and suggesting law enforcement officials should take guns away from dangerous individuals without due process. A White House spokesperson said the White House is ‘finalizing exact details,’ but declined to comment on plans for the President to address the gun rights group.” https://cnn.it/2HBlfXE
Good Monday morning. Congress is out this week. The Milken Global Conference is this week in Los Angeles. BEN WHITE has a special pop-up newsletter for the occasion (sign up here https://politi.co/2jivCkA). Paul Ryan, Chuck Schumer, Cory Booker, Kevin McCarthy, Bob Corker, Robert Gates, Steven Mnuchin, Wilbur Ross, Ed Royce, Tim Ryan, Mac Thornberry, Greg Walden and Jeb Hensarling are all attending.
THE ADMINISTRATION …
-- KATY O’DONNELL: “Mick Mulvaney isn’t blowing up the CFPB”: “Mick Mulvaney wanted to get rid of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau when he was in Congress, once calling the watchdog agency he now heads a ‘sick, sad’ joke.
“But to the surprise of consumer advocates and people who worked at the bureau under former President Barack Obama, he hasn’t blown the place up. Mulvaney has continued with dozens of lawsuits and nearly 100 investigations into corporate abuses in the five months since President Donald Trump installed him as the bureau’s acting director.” https://politi.co/2JCJEbM
-- ARTHUR ALLEN: “‘Who the hell is this person?’ Trump’s Mar-a-Lago pal stymies VA project”: “A West Palm Beach doctor’s ties to Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago social circle have enabled him to hold up the biggest health information technology project in history — the transformation of the VA’s digital records system.
“Dr. Bruce Moskowitz, an internist and friend of Trump confidant Ike Perlmutter, who advises the president informally on vet issues, objected to the $16 billion Department of Veterans Affairs project because he doesn’t like the Cerner Corp. software he uses at two Florida hospitals, according to four former and current senior VA officials. Cerner technology is a cornerstone of the VA project.
“With the White House’s approval, Moskowitz has been on two or three monthly calls since November with the contracting team responsible for implementing the 10-year project, according to two former senior VA officials. Perlmutter, the Marvel Entertainment chairman, has also been on some of the calls, they said.” https://politi.co/2HZeAG9
UP NEXT … “U.S. Allies Brace for Trade War as Tariff Negotiations Stall,” by NYT’s Jack Ewing in Berlin and Ana Swanson in Washington: “A few weeks ago, it felt as if a trade war pitting the United States against allies like Australia, Canada and the European Union was over before it even began. The Trump administration dispensed so many temporary exemptions to steel and aluminum tariffs that many countries figured the threats were just political theater.
“But with only days left before the exemptions expire and punitive tariffs take effect, it’s dawning on foreign leaders that decades of warm relations with the United States carry little weight with a president dismissive of diplomatic norms and hostile toward the ground rules of international trade.
“What began as a way to protect American steel and aluminum jobs has since become a cudgel that the Trump administration is using to extract concessions in other areas, including car exports to Europe or negotiations to revise the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada.
“As a May 1 deadline looms, the decision on whether to grant permanent exemptions to the steel and aluminum tariffs, and to whom, appears likely to come down to the whims of President Trump, who has seesawed between scrapping and rejoining global trade deals.” https://nyti.ms/2vZsRh6
CNN: “Eight journalists among 29 killed in twin Afghanistan blasts” https://cnn.it/2HHIM54
BUCKEYE STATE POLITICS -- “GOP civil war in Ohio threatens another special election loss,” by Elena Schneider: “Republicans’ latest special election headache is unfolding in central Ohio, where a chaotic primary has divided the party and stoked fears of losing another seat in Donald Trump territory to Democrats.
“The race pits the two wings of the House Republican Conference against each other, going all out to nominate rival candidates. On one side is the scrappy co-founder of the House Freedom Caucus, Rep. Jim Jordan, who is lining up behind Melanie Leneghan, a self-described Trump Republican. Jordan is going up against former Rep. Pat Tiberi, a close ally of GOP leadership who resigned from his seat in January and has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars from his old campaign account to boost state Sen. Troy Balderson as his successor.
“A week before the primary, the Club for Growth, a longtime conservative antagonist of business-backed Republicans like Tiberi, is jumping into the 10-candidate race with TV ads attacking Balderson, Club strategists told POLITICO.” https://politi.co/2HD9kZt
-- “Left vs. Left: Richard Cordray and Dennis Kucinich Battle for Governor of Ohio,” by NYT’s Matt Flegenheimer in Akron, Ohio: https://nyti.ms/2vSVBYS
RICHARD UIHLEIN PROFILE -- WAPO, April 29, “Meet the little-known ‘big fish’ megadonor setting the tone for GOP primary races” https://wapo.st/2JEycMU
-- FLASHBACK: MAGGIE SEVERNS, March 19, “The biggest Republican megadonor you’ve never heard of: Richard Uihlein is spending tens of millions to reshape the GOP, including almost single-handedly funding Bruce Rauner’s primary challenger in Illinois.” http://politi.co/2pqL9Bl
NYT’s PETER BAKER, “Libya as a Model for Disarmament? North Korea May See It Very Differently”: “When John R. Bolton looks at North Korea, he sees Libya. It is not a perfect comparison, he acknowledges, but if there is a model for how to peacefully rid a hostile dictatorial state of its nuclear program, he points to the disarming of Libya some 15 years ago. It is easy to grasp why the United States views that as a success. A ruthless despot with a history of sponsoring terrorism surrendered his efforts to build a catastrophic weapon. But that despot, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, might not see it as such a good deal today. No one will ever know for sure because he is dead.
“Which is why North Korea might not find it such an uplifting model either. The divergent vantage points on Libya may be instructive to understand how President Trump and Mr. Bolton, his new national security adviser, are approaching the coming talks with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un. The divide also underscores the challenges Mr. Trump and Mr. Bolton face: As they seek to replicate the feat of eliminating Libya’s nuclear program, analysts said, they could face distrust because of the unexpected turn of events that led to Colonel Qaddafi’s demise.” https://nyti.ms/2Fs8qcp
-- “James Mattis woos John Bolton with breakfast club invite,” by CNN’s Zachary Cohen and Pamela Brown: “Defense Secretary James Mattis is keenly aware of John Bolton's rapid ascension within the White House and is making a concerted effort to make nice with President Donald Trump’s new national security adviser amid a shifting power dynamic at the highest levels of the administration. Mattis invited Bolton to the Pentagon for breakfast on Wednesday as part of his push to establish a cooperative working relationship that mirrors the dynamic he once had with former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.” https://cnn.it/2r99RqY
POST-WHCD BRUNCH CIRCUIT -- SPOTTED at Robert and Dr. Elena Allbritton’s Georgetown house yesterday for their annual brunch, which this year had a British theme: Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), Terry and Dorothy McAuliffe, Reince and Sally Priebus, Rebecca Spicer, Reps. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.), Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) and Nanette Barragan (D-Calif.), Andrea Mitchell, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, Gloria Dittus, Heather Podesta and Stephen Kessler, Kellyanne Conway, Marc Adelman, Mark and Sally Ein, Geoff Morrell, Wilbur and Hilary Ross, Norah O’Donnell and Geoff Tracy, Dan Glickman, Margaret Brennan, Tina Tchen, Valerie Jarrett, Mignon Clyburn ...
... Susan Rice and Ian Cameron, Tammy Haddad, Michael Chertoff, Susan Molinari and Bill Paxon, Dina Powell and Dave McCormick, Kyle Dropp, Josh and Blair Holmes, Mike and Michelle Tuffin, Tekedra Mawakana, Jason Miller, Tim and Kiki Burger, Alex Skatell, Michael Avenatti, Audrey Gelman, Josh Dawsey, Ryan Williams, Jackie Rooney, Jonathan Swan, David Rhodes, Margaret Brennan, Joe and Giovanna Lockhart, Adrienne Arsht, Brett and Amy Baier, Alex and Caitlin Conant, Bob Costa, Jack Evans, U.K. Ambassador Kim Darroch, Alyssa Farah and Norah Weinstein.
-- PICS: Robert and Elena Allbritton with Reince and Sally Priebus http://bit.ly/2jgMrwj ... Wilbur Ross and Dave Urban http://bit.ly/2KmEB0m ... Nancy Pelosi and Joe Lockhart http://bit.ly/2HGHdoe ... Barbara Allbritton, Kellyanne Conway, Dana Bash, Adrienne Arsht http://bit.ly/2HCZLWo ... Terry McAuliffe and Robert Allbritton http://bit.ly/2JA1MTy
SPOTTED yesterday at the CNN “Political Hangover Brunch” at the Long View Gallery: Don Lemon, Lynn Sweet, Sahil Kapur, Kaitlan Collins, Brian Stelter, Betsy Klein, Sam Vinograd, Adrienne Elrod, Constance Boozer, Jim Acosta, Sara Murray, Jeff Zucker, Allison Gollust, Virginia Moseley, Dana Bash and Spencer Garrett, Jake and Jennifer Tapper, Kate Bennett, Gloria Borger, Sen Chris Coons (D-Del.), Hogan Gidley, Lindsay Walters, Ninio Fetalvo, Alex Phillips, Matt Gorman, Jordan Klepper, Brian Bartlett, John Legittino, Jill Barclay, Olivia Perez-Cubas, Leah Malone, Alexa Henning, Sara and Ron Bonjean, Hilary Rosen ...
... Andrew Kaczynski, Josh Dawsey, Laura Howard, Norm Eisen, Paris Dennard, Gary Ginsberg, April Ryan, Jack Kingston, Brian Karem, David Urban, Zeke Miller, Rodell and Sheena Mollineau, Chris Cillizza, Harry Enten, Julie Tarallo, Michael Avenatti, Catherine Frazier, Brian Danza, Ben Khouri, Danielle Hagen, Rachel Cohen, Olivia Alair Dalton, Brendan Buck, Neil Chatterjee, Ray Zaccaro, Jonathan Kott, Emily Benavides, Symone Sanders, Jason Miller, Matt Dornic, Mark Preston, Steve Clemons, Phil Rucker, Ashley Parker, Byron Tau and Michael Steel.
TRUMP’S MONDAY -- The president is meeting and having a working lunch and joint press conference with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari. He is attending a private dinner in Washington with supporters.
YOU’RE INVITED ... We’ll sit down with HOUSE MINORITY LEADER NANCY PELOSI on May 8 in D.C. Six months ahead of Election Day, Democrats have as good of a chance as ever at taking back the House majority. Who better to talk to than the former speaker, who could be House Democrats’ next speaker. RSVP http://bit.ly/playbookpelosi
HMM – “The Justice Department Deleted Language About Press Freedom And Racial Gerrymandering From Its Internal Manual,” by BuzzFeed’s Zoe Tillman: “Since the fall, the US Department of Justice has been overhauling its manual for federal prosecutors. In: Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ tough-on-crime policies. Out: A section titled ‘Need for Free Press and Public Trial.’ References to the department’s work on racial gerrymandering are gone. Language about limits on prosecutorial power has been edited down. The changes include new sections that underscore Sessions’ focus on religious liberty and the Trump administration’s efforts to crack down on government leaks — there is new language admonishing prosecutors not to share classified information and directing them to report contacts with the media.” https://bzfd.it/2FsZdAm
STAR TRIBUNE: “Former George W. Bush ethics lawyer ditches GOP, to seek U.S. Senate in Minn. as Democrat,” by Paul Walsh: “Richard Painter, a longtime Republican who was chief ethics lawyer for George W. Bush’s White House, intends to run for the U.S. Senate in Minnesota this year as a Democrat, according to a filing he made recently with federal elections officials. Painter, a persistent and frequent critic of President Donald Trump on national cable TV news appearances and on Twitter, is expected to announce his candidacy at a Monday news conference. ... [The] seat is up this fall in a special election, and [Tina] Smith has said she intends to run for a full six-year term.” http://strib.mn/2Kqx4Og
BUSINESS BURST -- “T-Mobile Agrees to Buy Sprint in $26 Billion Deal,” by WSJ’s Drew FitzGerald, Dana Cimilluca and Dana Mattioli: “T-Mobile US Inc. struck a $26 billion deal to buy Sprint Corp in a combination that, if allowed by antitrust enforcers, would leave the U.S. wireless market dominated by three national players.
“It is the third time in the last four years the two rivals have attempted the combination. The leaders of both companies are determined to close a deal, if only because their prospects going it alone grow dimmer by the year.
“New technology, stiff competition from wireless rivals and an aging cellphone sector keep driving Sprint and T-Mobile into each other’s arms. Both companies hope to squeeze billions in savings by uniting operations despite their owners’ different management styles and a tough regulatory environment.” https://on.wsj.com/2HBQwd6
-- THIS WILL SPUR A TON OF LOBBYING ACTIVITY in Washington with the companies looking to ease any obstacles to the merger.
SPOTTED: Olympia Snowe at Peking Gourmet in Falls Church.
BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: John Gomperts, president and CEO of America’s Promise Alliance. A trend he thinks deserves more attention: “We hear a lot about the need for educated workers, and that is right and important. But let’s not overlook the progress that we are making as a nation. In the past decade, high school graduation rates have increased from 71 percent to over 84 percent. In that time, an additional 3 million young people were able to graduate with their class – real progress for them, for their families and their communities.” Read his Playbook Plus Q&A: https://politi.co/2jjqmxd
BIRTHDAYS: Lindsay Walters, White House deputy press secretary (hat tips: Sean Spicer, Hogan Gidley and Jessica Ditto) ... Jim Margolis, senior partner and president of GMMB (h/ts Erik Smith and Jon Haber) ... Bob Livingston is 75 ... Politico’s Luiza Savage and Caitlin Jennings ... Tina Flournoy, chief of staff to former President Clinton ... Fred Hiatt, WaPo editorial page editor ... Ian Brown ... Brooke Sammon, SVP at Firehouse Strategies (h/t Alex Conant) ... Nate Lubin … Matt Wall, VP at Black Rock Group (h/t Tyler Houlton) ... Sam Youngman is 41 (h/t Scott Jennings) ... cartoonist and illustrator Barry Blitt is 6-0 ... Matt Loffman of PBS Newshour ... Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) is 62 ... Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) is 71 ... former Rep. Bill Clay (D-Mo.) is 87 ... Nick Brown ... Tori Taylor, campaign manager for Kathy Manning’s Congressional campaign in North Carolina ... Sophia Kim, FDNY deputy press secretary, is 26 (h/t Ben Chang) … John Mulligan, partner at Monument Policy Group (h/t Stewart Verdery) ... Joe Hagan, special correspondent for Vanity Fair and author of “Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine,” is 47 ... Paul Gates (h/t Ed Cash) ... Anastasia Economides ... Taylor Weeks, who works for Sen. Cornyn, is 26 ...
... Courtney Rice, DSCC deputy press secretary, is 28 ... Caitlin Yilek, senior digital engagement editor at the Washington Examiner, is 28 (h/t Naomi Lim) ... John Mulligan, partner at Monument Policy Group (h/t Stewart Verdery) ... Matt Segneri, Director at HBS Social Enterprise Initiative … Brian Bennett, senior WH correspondent for Time ... Daniel Wolman, a JD candidate at GW Law ... Gen McGahey ... Politico Europe’s Paul Dallison ... Michael Stroud ... Rachel Wolfe of Vox ... Ali Solis, president and CEO of Make Room (h/t Kelley McCormick) ... Chai Feldblum, EEOC commissioner ... Jamienne Studley ... Michael Herson, president and CEO of American Defense International ... Rachel Cohen ... Ally Waters ... Tyler Bulakul ... Jonathan J. Harsch ... Allan Katz, former U.S. ambassador to Portugal … Dave Kranich … Jonathan Jagoda … Bill Meierling, CMO and EVP at ALEC ... Joshua Elvis ... Aaron Levy … Sarah Baldauf … Caleb Graves ... B.R. Kelley ... Ted Stux ... James Barron of Barron Associates ... Doug Harbrecht ... Joseph Bottum ... Jay Keller ... Andy Mosher is 61 ... Josh Levy is 46 ... Stone Workman ... Jerilyn Goodman ... Kerry Schumann ... Cindi Bannink (h/ts Teresa Vilmain) ... former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is 6-0 (h/t AP)