BREAKING -- “Puerto Rico suffers island-wide power outage,” by CNN’s Ray Sanchez and Lonzo Cook: “Puerto Rico has suffered an island-wide power outage, Puerto Rico's power authority said Wednesday -- nearly seven months after Hurricane Maria destroyed much of the island's infrastructure and its electrical grid. The authority said it estimates power will be restored within 24 to 36 hours. The cause of the blackout is unclear.” https://cnn.it/2EUWLSR
BIG WASHINGTON MUST READ … WSJ’S BRODY MULLINS and JULIE BYKOWICZ: “How Tony Podesta, a Washington Power Broker, Lost It All: The Democratic lobbyist had money, connections and a rarified art collection. Then came a divorce, Paul Manafort and Donald Trump, and his world came crashing down.” https://on.wsj.com/2EWtA21
JUST A THOUGHT … WHY WOULD KEVIN MCCARTHY want DONALD TRUMP’S endorsement -- especially now. The race for the next Republican leader isn’t going to be any time soon. It’s no secret he’s close to Trump. Why force the point … especially now? Wouldn’t it be much more effective for the president to endorse him in the midst of the race, days or a week before balloting?
… AT THE MOMENT, McCarthy is hardly acknowledging there’s an election publicly. That’s smart. Don’t mistake silence for inaction. McCarthy has the luxury of letting everyone else run around like chickens with their heads chopped off. He can sit still, organize and listen.
LOTS OF SENATE NEWS …
-- WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE … Tennessee’s Democratic candidate for the Senate PHIL BREDESEN to the NYT’s Tom Kaplan: “Skepticism of a Democratic takeover of the Senate has come from an unlikely voice in Tennessee: Mr. Bredesen. To Republicans who suggest a vote for him is a vote to make Mr. Schumer the majority leader, he pushed back on the idea.
“‘I don’t think it’s possible, I’ll be honest with you,’ he said, naming Florida, Missouri and North Dakota as states where Democratic incumbents could be in danger. ‘My expectation is that I will be in the minority in the Senate.’” https://nyti.ms/2HC3Ay2
-- GETTING (A BIT) MORE INTERESTING IN CALIFORNIA -- “Billionaire Democratic activist Tom Steyer endorses Kevin de León in his insurgent bid against Sen. Dianne Feinstein,” by the L.A. Times’ Seema Mehta: “Billionaire Democratic activist Tom Steyer is endorsing state Sen. Kevin de León in his insurgent challenge to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, and did not rule out funding an outside effort to boost De León’s chances.
“‘I think he’s the kind of young progressive that reflects California and would be a very strong advocate for our state nationally,’ Steyer said in an interview on Tuesday, pointing to De León’s efforts on issues such as immigration, climate change and gun control while he was the state Senate leader. ‘I know him well and he’s a friend. We share a lot of values.’
“Steyer, who flirted with running for the Senate seat, did not criticize Feinstein as he has in the past.” https://lat.ms/2HKSlkD
Good Wednesday afternoon. MORE MOVEMENT TOWARDS HOUSE DEMOCRATS FROM COOK POLITICAL REPORT -- SEVEN DISTRICTS shifted away from the GOP in their latest report, based off FEC filings: The vacant AZ-08, Rep. Jack Bergman’s MI-01, Rep. Dave Joyce’s OH-14 and Rep. Ralph Norman’s SC-05 all moved from solid Republican to likely Republican. Rep. French Hill’s AR-02, Rep. Randy Hultgren’s IL-14 and Rep. Thomas Garrett’s VA-05 moves from likely to lean Republican. Analysis from David Wasserman http://bit.ly/2HJPZT1
JOHN BRESNAHAN files to us from CHICAGO: “Lawyers for ex-Rep. Aaron Schock and Justice Department prosecutors clashed in a federal appeals court today as the Illinois Republican seeks to derail his indictment on corruption charges.
“But Chief Judge Diane Wood of the Seventh Circuit of Appeals in Chicago – as well as Judge Frank Easterbrook – appeared unconvinced by arguments that the case against him should be thrown out. A trial for Schock is on hold while the legal issues are sorted out. ...
“In oral arguments on Wednesday, Schock’s defense team claimed House rules on mileage reimbursement for car travel are too vague to base criminal charges upon. Schock has been accused of pocketing tens of thousands of dollars in reimbursements after submitting false mileage reports following a POLITICO report.”
-- BRES spoke to Schock in court in Chicago. He said he is doing well. He had no comment after the hearing.
-- FLASHBACK, by Jake Sherman, Anna Palmer and John Bresnahan on March 17, 2015: “Schock billed the federal government and his campaign for logging roughly 170,000 miles on his personal car from January 2010 through July 2014. But when he sold that Chevrolet Tahoe in July 2014, it had roughly 80,000 miles on the odometer, according to public records obtained by POLITICO under Illinois open records laws. The documents, in other words, indicate he was reimbursed for 90,000 miles more than his car was driven.” https://politi.co/2qMzEGb
PRUITT PROBLEMS… -- “Mulvaney will investigate Pruitt's spending,” by Anthony Adragna: “White House budget director Mick Mulvaney told a House Appropriations subpanel he would probe EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's spending, especially his procurement of a $43,000 privacy booth.
“‘I'm not interested in covering for anybody else,’ Mulvaney told the House Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee. ‘I'm not any happier about it than you are.” https://politi.co/2voaGRX
GEORGE W. BUSH to MARIA BARTIROMO on FOX BUSINESS, via NYT’s PETER BAKER: “At one point, Mrs. Bush turned to her doctor. ‘You want to know why George W. is the way he is?’ she asked. The doctor looked a little surprised. ‘Because I drank and smoked when I was pregnant with him,’ she said. …
“‘It’s the end of a beautiful life,’ Mr. Bush told Maria Bartiromo on Fox Business Network on Wednesday morning in his first interview following Mrs. Bush’s death. ‘She truly believes that there’s an afterlife, that she’ll be wonderfully received in the arms of a loving God and therefore did not fear death. And as a result of her soul being comforted on the deathbed, my soul is comforted.’” https://nyti.ms/2EYkdyK
FIRST LADY MELANIA TRUMP will attend the funeral, per Cristiano Lima: “‘Mrs. Trump intends to pay her respects to Barbara Bush and the entire family at the funeral on Saturday,’ spokesperson Stephanie Grisham said in an email. Grisham did not respond when asked if President Donald Trump or other Trump family members would also attend.” https://politi.co/2vpDCt0
-- AFP’s Jerome Cartillier, today’s pooler: “According to Sarah Sanders, flags have now been lowered at half-staff both at Mar-a-Lago and Trump International Golf Club”.
MIKE POMPEO’S CONFIRMATION MEETINGS TODAY: Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.): 1:20 p.m.-2 … Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.): 3-3:45 … Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.): 4-4:45 … Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas): 5-5:45
SPOTTED: Joe Biden, rocking aviators and an Apple Watch, getting on the 11 a.m. Delta Shuttle from DCA to LaGuardia; he sat in coach -- pic http://bit.ly/2JVf5PD (former NYT executive editor Jill Abramson was also on board) … Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (in economy) and former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on an American Airlines shuttle this morning from LaGuardia to DCA.
HAPPENING NEXT WEEK -- German Chancellor ANGELA MERKEL will visit THE WHITE HOUSE on APRIL 27. From Sarah Huckabee Sanders: “On the occasion of Merkel’s re-election as Chancellor, the two leaders will reaffirm the German-American partnership -- a bedrock of the transatlantic relationship and the NATO Alliance -- as both nations work together to address a broad range of geopolitical and economic challenges. The two leaders will convene for an extended set of bilateral meetings, followed by a press availability in the Rose Garden.”
SHOT: @realDonaldTrump at 8:05 a.m.: “Slippery James Comey, the worst FBI Director in history, was not fired because of the phony Russia investigation where, by the way, there was NO COLLUSION (except by the Dems)!”
… CHASER: TRUMP in an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt on May 11, 2017: “And in fact when I decided to just do it I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won.’” https://nbcnews.to/2vqIQ7B
-- TRUMP on DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL ROD ROSENSTEIN in that same interview: “He’s highly respected, very good guy, very smart guy. The Democrats like him, the Republicans like him.” How times have changed!
-- “Comey: ‘The Republican Party has left me and many others’,” by ABC News’ Brad Mielke and Kelly Terez: “He said he believes the Republican Party began to change during the 2016 presidential campaign and has continued to change with President Donald Trump in office. It wasn’t until he was fired by Trump that Comey started to focus more on politics and realized, ‘These people don’t represent anything I believe in.’” https://abcn.ws/2vp99Lx
ON THE TRAIL -- “Trump campaign rebukes Indiana candidate signs,” by the AP’s Brian Slodysko in Brownsburg, Ind.: “Donald Trump’s re-election campaign has demanded that Rep. Todd Rokita take down yard signs it says give the false impression the president endorsed the Indiana Republican’s Senate bid, two people with direct knowledge of the matter told The Associated Press.
“The rebuke came after two volunteers who led Trump’s bare-bones 2016 campaign in Vice President Mike Pence’s home state endorsed Rokita during an Indianapolis news conference last week. … Rokita spokesman Nathan Brand refused to say if the campaign will comply with the Trump campaign’s request.” http://bit.ly/2vpKV3B
OH, OKAY -- “Trump campaigner accused of sexual harassment picked as VA information officer,” by Arthur Allen: “The White House has appointed an acting VA information chief who repeatedly clashed with career staff at two agencies and was accused in a recent lawsuit of sexually harassing a fellow employee on Donald Trump‘s presidential campaign.
“The new acting chief information officer, Camilo Sandoval, is a former director of data operations for Trump’s 2016 campaign. He and other political appointees at the VA had warred with former Secretary David Shulkin, leading to Shulkin’s ouster last month. Shulkin accused them of pushing to privatize the VA's health services.” https://politi.co/2vlyA0k
STARTING TODAY – THE BUSH CENTER is hosting a three-day “Forum on Leadership” in Dallas; among the speakers are former President George W. Bush, Laura Bush, Ben Bernanke, Jeff Bezos, John Boehner, Josh Bolten, Arthur Brooks, Priscilla Chan, Dick Cheney, John Hickenlooper, Dina Powell, Ed Lazear, Susana Martinez, Peter Pace, Hank Paulson, and Condoleezza Rice, as well as Bono, who will receive the first-ever George W. Bush Medal for Distinguished Leadership. http://bit.ly/2H9Iaox … Dallas Morning News article on the conference http://bit.ly/2HKNJLo
MEDIAWATCH -- END OF AN ERA!! -- “The Hill says goodbye to 50 Most Beautiful,” by The Hill’s Judy Kurtz: “After nearly 15 years, The Hill is bidding a beautiful bye-bye to its annual 50 Most Beautiful list. While it’s had a remarkably gorgeous run, The Hill team feels the time has come for 50 Most Beautiful to be added to that big, beautiful list in the sky.” http://bit.ly/2EWHZLH
-- EVAN VUCCI was promoted to senior Washington photographer at the AP. He has been at the D.C. bureau since 2003.
-- TV THIS WEEKEND: Fox News will air CHRIS WALLACE’S pretaped interview with French President EMMANUEL MACRON on Sunday at 2 p.m.
-- Annabelle Timsit is joining Quartz as a reporter on early childhood development and will be based out of the publication’s London office. She most recently was a fellow at The Atlantic and is a Politico alum.
WELCOME TO THE WORLD -- Melike Yetken, senior adviser for corporate responsibility at State and an NSC alum, and Jeff Krilla, VP for public policy and government affairs at Kosmos Energy and a Bush 43 State alum, welcomed a baby girl on Monday night. “Introducing Elodie Ruth Krilla (‘Elodie’ sounds like ‘Melody’). 12oz and 19 1/4 inches. Mom and baby are doing wonderfully.” Pics http://bit.ly/2HaEIhP ... http://bit.ly/2JTFKMz