KEVIN MCCARTHY is in town for a super PAC dinner with PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, via Alex Isenstadt: “America First Action is raising funds with an eye toward spending $100 million ahead of the 2018 midterms. The super PAC has enlisted energy company executive Harold Hamm, a Trump ally, to help fill its coffers.
“Organizers said today’s dinner was not a fundraiser but rather an opportunity for the president to meet with the group's supporters. A White House spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.” https://politi.co/2Jm5Pns
HANDICAPPING THE MIDTERMS -- “McConnell on midterm elections: ‘The wind is going to be in our face’,” by Kentucky Today’s Roger Alford: “[Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell said he’s hopeful Republicans can hold a majority in the Senate and continue appointing conservative judges throughout the entirety of Trump’s tenure. ‘This is going to be a challenging election year,’ McConnell said. ‘We know the wind is going to be in our face. We don’t know whether it’s going to be a Category 3, 4 or 5.’” http://bit.ly/2uToTq3
Good Wednesday afternoon. MARK ZUCKERBERG will hold a conference call with reporters today at 4 p.m. to “give an update on Facebook’s efforts to better protect people’s information and will take questions.”
ZUCK will also testify in front of the HOUSE ENERGY AND COMMERCE COMMITTEE on April 11 at 10 a.m. More from John Hendel https://politi.co/2q6AcpK
BIG CHANGE IN SYRIA -- “Trump instructs military to begin planning for withdrawal from Syria,” by WaPo’s Karen DeYoung: “President Trump has instructed military leaders to prepare to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, but has not set a date for them to do so, according to a senior administration official. In a meeting with top national security officials Tuesday, Trump stressed that U.S. troops can be involved in current training tasks for local forces to ensure security in areas liberated from the Islamic State ...
“But the president said that the U.S. mission would not extend beyond the destruction of the Islamic State, and that he expects other countries, particularly wealthy Arab states in the region, to pick up the task of paying for reconstruction of stabilized areas, including sending their own troops, if necessary.
“Trump on Tuesday had repeated his desire to quickly ‘get out’ of Syria, even as his top commander for the Middle East outlined the need for an ongoing military presence there.” https://wapo.st/2Eg10s1
-- The White House statement, which does not dispute the story: “The military mission to eradicate ISIS in Syria is coming to a rapid end, with ISIS being almost completely destroyed. The United States and our partners remain committed to eliminating the small ISIS presence in Syria that our forces have not already eradicated. We will continue to consult with our allies and friends regarding future plans. We expect countries in the region and beyond, plus the United Nations, to work toward peace and ensure that ISIS never re-emerges.”
ON THE PRESIDENT’S MIND -- @realDonaldTrump at 7:19 a.m.: “Our Border Laws are very weak while those of Mexico & Canada are very strong. Congress must change these Obama era, and other, laws NOW! The Democrats stand in our way - they want people to pour into our country unchecked....CRIME! We will be taking strong action today.” …
… at 7:22 a.m.: “We are not in a trade war with China, that war was lost many years ago by the foolish, or incompetent, people who represented the U.S. Now we have a Trade Deficit of $500 Billion a year, with Intellectual Property Theft of another $300 Billion. We cannot let this continue!” … at 9:20 a.m.: “When you’re already $500 Billion DOWN, you can’t lose!” …
… at 10:50 a.m.: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the four U.S. Marines from the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing who lost their lives in yesterday’s Southern California helicopter crash. We pray for their families, and our great @USMC.”
TOP VIDEO -- Former PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA and REP. JOHN LEWIS (D-GA.) discuss the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. http://bit.ly/2q5YK1d
NOT GREAT -- “Outgoing White House emails not protected by verification system,” by Axios’ Joe Uchill: “The security advocacy group Global Cyber Alliance tested the 26 email domains managed by the Executive Office of the President and found that only one fully implements a security protocol that verifies the emails as genuinely from the White House. Of the 26 domains, 18 are not in compliance with a Department of Homeland Security directive to implement that protocol.” http://bit.ly/2q6R7Zp
IN THE STATES -- NYT’s SHANE GOLDMACHER: “Democrats in New York State Senate Appear Set to Reconcile”: “After years of Democratic infighting that has helped keep Republicans in control of the New York State Senate, two long-warring factions of Democratic lawmakers in Albany are on the brink of reunifying, according to five people familiar with the discussions.
“At a closed-door meeting at a Manhattan steakhouse on Tuesday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo asked the two rival Democratic leaders to consider reconciling immediately, according to people in the room and people briefed on the discussion. Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who leads the main group of Democrats, and Senator Jeff Klein, who leads the breakaway group, the Independent Democratic Conference, appeared to tentatively agree.” https://nyti.ms/2GyjBkN
VALLEY TALK -- “Facebook Scans What You Send Other People on Messenger App,” by Bloomberg’s Sarah Frier: “Facebook Inc. scans the text and images that people send each other on Facebook Messenger, making sure it all abides by the company’s rules governing content. If it doesn’t, it gets blocked. The company confirmed the practice after an interview published earlier this week with Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg raised questions about Messenger’s practices and privacy.” https://bloom.bg/2q3cOd0
SPOTTED: Rep. Ryan Costello (R-Pa.) having lunch at Central Michel Richard
TRANSITIONS -- Maya Arrieta-Walden started in the speaker’s communications operation today as adviser to the speaker. She was previously at Hamilton Place Strategies. … Andrew Fishbein is now chief of staff at the Halifax International Security Forum. He was previously with the Center for Democracy in the Americas. … Joy DiBenedetto, Maria Ebrahimji, Lori Levin and Nicole Schiegg are the founders and managing partners of C5 Collective, a new consulting firm.
ENGAGED -- Kathryn Lyons, managing editor of FamousDC, got engaged to Mike Dunkle, a director at Riveron Consulting, a financial consulting firm in D.C. “He proposed in front of the Lincoln Memorial on Friday -- one of our favorite spots in the city (fun fact: those geographic coordinates are engraved into my ring) -- we celebrated in Cuba this past weekend -- he surprised me with a trip to Havana to visit the place my mother’s family is from.” Pic http://bit.ly/2q6mXVv … Instapic http://bit.ly/2uOYJEG
-- Bill Cortese, a former Chris Christie operative and Mercury Public Affairs alum, on Friday proposed to Jamie Campisi. “Cortese, who is the principal of Warwick Strategy Group and Campisi, a student at Seton Hall Law School, will be planning a wedding for the summer of 2020.” Pic http://bit.ly/2uR94A4
WELCOME TO THE WORLD – Cherie Wilson, director of federal affairs at GM, and Jermaine Simmons of the office of Rep. Bonnie Watson-Coleman, recently welcomed Jordyn Alia Simmons. Pic http://bit.ly/2uMaT0T
-- Holly Skillin, external relations manager for capital projects and infrastructure at McKinsey and a Hill+Knowlton alum, and Noah Skillin, COO at Risk Cooperative, on Saturday welcomed Arlo Skillin. Pic http://bit.ly/2IpAsH6
-- Lt. Commander Andrew O’Connor of the U.S. Navy and Samantha Mulvany, Ph.D recently welcomed Dominic Mulvany O’Connor, who joins 18-month-old big sister Leilani. Pic http://bit.ly/2GzASdL
BONUS BIRTHDAYS: Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson (hat tip: Zach Roday) … Bloomberg Government’s Heather Rothman … (was yesterday): AC Grayling turned 69 and celebrated by speaking last night at a Hayden Center event at the Cosmos Club