FIRST IN PLAYBOOK -- SPEAKER PAUL RYAN and HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER KEVIN MCCARTHY are teaming up to do a bunch of fundraisers together for the CONGRESSIONAL LEADERSHIP FUND and PROTECT THE HOUSE.
-- MCCARTHY and RYAN will appear with VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE at the Protect the House events (Protect the House is the joint McCarthy-Pence fundraising vehicle. CLF is the House GOP super PAC). In May, the two will attend events in Illinois, two in Washington and in New York for CLF, and in South Florida for Protect the House. They will also do a June swing in Pennsylvania and Texas which will include stops for both fundraising outfits. Protect the House will have an event in Midland, Texas, in June.
-- VIEW THIS AS A PASSING OF THE TORCH, OF SORTS. CLF, the major House GOP super PAC, raises and spends tens of millions of dollars for House Republicans. That they are trying to get McCarthy in the big donor fold is as clear of a recognition that the California Republican is up next to lead the GOP. The Protect the House events with McCarthy, Ryan and Pence will immediately become a very hot ticket for donors.
-- ONE OF THE CHALLENGES House Republicans will face in a post-Ryan world is that he’s been able to raise huge piles of money because of the Romney/Ryan donor network. Many of those donors are more interested in helping Paul Ryan than House Republicans. Anything the GOP can do to mitigate that will be useful. McCarthy has shown that he's a strong fundraiser, and he'll be additive to CLF's efforts. Only time will tell if donors jump ship because Ryan is retiring. They've seen little fall off, as of now, and this tag-team effort could help keep donors in the fold.
Good Tuesday morning and happy May. 189 DAYS until Election Day 2018. LOTS OF NEWS …
THE INVESTIGATIONS …
-- NYT’S MIKE SCHMIDT: “Mueller Has Dozens of Inquiries for Trump in Broad Quest on Russia Ties and Obstruction”: “Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating Russia’s election interference, has at least four dozen questions on an exhaustive array of subjects he wants to ask President Trump to learn more about his ties to Russia and determine whether he obstructed the inquiry itself, according to a list of the questions obtained by The New York Times.
“The open-ended queries appear to be an attempt to penetrate the president’s thinking, to get at the motivation behind some of his most combative Twitter posts and to examine his relationships with his family and his closest advisers. They deal chiefly with the president’s high-profile firings of the F.B.I. director and his first national security adviser, his treatment of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and a 2016 Trump Tower meeting between campaign officials and Russians offering dirt on Hillary Clinton.
“But they also touch on the president’s businesses; any discussions with his longtime personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, about a Moscow real estate deal; whether the president knew of any attempt by Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to set up a back channel to Russia during the transition; any contacts he had with Roger J. Stone Jr., a longtime adviser who claimed to have inside information about Democratic email hackings; and what happened during Mr. Trump’s 2013 trip to Moscow for the Miss Universe pageant.” https://nyti.ms/2HIDtCC … The full list of questions https://nyti.ms/2HL7G3X
-- WAPO’S BOB COSTA, SARI HORWITZ and MATT ZAPOTOSKY: “Trump-allied House conservatives draft articles of impeachment against Rosenstein as ‘last resort’”: “Conservative House allies of President Trump have drafted articles of impeachment against Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, who oversees the ongoing special counsel probe, setting up a possible GOP showdown over the federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
“The document, which was obtained by The Washington Post, underscores the growing chasm between congressional Republican leaders, who have maintained for months that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III should be allowed to proceed, and rank-and-file GOP lawmakers who have repeatedly battled the Justice Department during the past year.
“The draft articles, which one of its authors called a ‘last resort,’ would be unlikely to garner significant support in Congress. But the document could serve as a provocative political weapon for conservatives in their standoff with Mueller and the Justice Department.” https://wapo.st/2HHFYVC
-- MICHAEL COHEN UPDATE: “Trump campaign has paid portions of Michael Cohen’s legal fees: Sources,” by ABC News’ Katherine Faulders, John Santucci and Soo Rin Kim: “The Trump campaign has spent nearly $228,000 to cover some of the legal expenses for President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen, sources familiar with the payments tell ABC News, raising questions about whether the Trump campaign may have violated campaign finance laws.
“Federal Election Commission records show three payments made from the Trump campaign to a firm representing Cohen. The ‘legal consulting’ payments were made to McDermott Will and Emery — a law firm where Cohen’s attorney Stephen Ryan is a partner — between October 2017 and January 2018. It was those three payments, sources tell ABC News, that were related to Cohen’s legal defense.” https://abcn.ws/2rdkZmH
-- “Michael Cohen Hit With New Taxi Taxes, Owes New York $282,000,” by Bloomberg’s Bob Van Voris: “Michael Cohen, already under pressure from a federal criminal investigation into his business and financial dealings, has been hit this month with more than $185,000 in new state warrants for unpaid taxes on his taxicab companies.
“Added to his previous tab, that brings the total to $282,000 owed to New York state by 16 taxi medallion-holding companies owned by Cohen or members of his family, including Mad Dog Cab Corp., Smoochie Cab Corp., Golden Child Cab Corp. and N.Y. Futon Taxi Corp. A lawyer for Cohen declined to comment.” https://bloom.bg/2Ktckp0
-- CNN’S JIM ACOSTA (@Acosta): “Source close to Trump says National Enquirer story on Michael Cohen appears to be a strong sign the president is turning against his personal attorney. Asked whether a message is being sent, Cohen replied: ‘what do you think.’”
THE ZOOM OUT … CHRISTOPHER CADELAGO, JOSH GERSTEIN and LOUIS NELSON: “Being Trump means never having to say you’re sorry”: “Donald Trump has been president 465 days. He’s traveled to more than a dozen countries, tweeted hundreds of times and uttered tens of thousands of words. But very seldom has he expressed regret.
“Even more infrequently has he apologized. ‘He’s not into apologizing,’ a former Trump administration official said, bluntly. ‘Generally speaking, he’s not a big believer in backing down.’ Trump didn’t back away amid calls to apologize for his remarks following deadly violence in Charlottesville, Va. He refused to distance himself from his repeated inaccuracies about widespread voter fraud.
“And, more recently, he blamed a corrosive and cutthroat culture in Washington -- not his own administration’s lack of vetting -- for the derailment of White House physician Ronny Jackson’s nomination to run the Department of Veterans Affairs. On Monday, Trump again rejected any show of penitence, saying ‘there’s nothing to apologize for’ when asked if he would disavow his past incendiary comments on a Muslim ban as a way to potentially salvage his broader travel ban policy.” https://politi.co/2jmkUJQ
TRADE WARS … “Trump grants key U.S. allies an extra month of tariff relief: The deadline has been moved back to June 1,” by Megan Cassella: “President Donald Trump has decided to extend by one month a temporary exemption from steel and aluminum tariffs for Canada, Mexico and the European Union, the White House announced Monday evening.
“The move gives key allies -- and three of the U.S.' four largest trading partners -- until June 1 to reach some sort of deal with the Trump administration to avoid duties of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum exports sent to the United States. The tariffs had been set to take effect at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday if Trump had not moved to extend the deadline.
“The administration has also reached preliminary agreements with three other countries that had initially been granted a temporary exemption -- Argentina, Brazil and Australia -- allowing them to escape the duties as details are finalized over the next 30 days, the White House said. Trump did not set a deadline for those details to be worked out but said he would consider reimposing the tariffs if the agreements are not finalized ‘shortly.’” https://politi.co/2rcCBiF
-- POLITICO EU’S CHRISTIAN OLIVER: “In a statement released Tuesday, the European Commission said ‘the U.S. decision prolongs market uncertainty, which is already affecting business decisions,’ arguing that the bloc ‘should be fully and permanently exempted from these measures, as they cannot be justified on the grounds of national security.’” https://politi.co/2KneN49
TELL ‘EM HOW YOU REALLY FEEL, JOHNNY! --- WAPO’S JOSH DAWSEY: “Kelly denies calling Trump an ‘idiot,’ says news report is ‘pathetic attempt to smear people’”: “White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly on Monday denied he said President Trump is an ‘idiot,’ calling an NBC News story that said he had done so ‘total BS.’
“Kelly’s statement came about 45 minutes after NBC News published a report that described a number of fights between Trump and his embattled chief of staff. The outlet reported that Kelly often tells senior aides that they have to save the president from himself and his impulses — and that Trump does not understand policy.
“‘He doesn’t even understand what DACA is. He’s an idiot,’ Kelly told White House aides, according to NBC News, which cites two White House officials present for the meeting. DACA refers to a program that protects from deportation young undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children.
“‘I spend more time with the President than anyone else and we have an incredibly candid and strong relationship. He always knows where I stand and he and I both know this story is total BS,’ Kelly said in a statement released by the White House press office in response to the story. ‘I am committed to the President, his agenda, and our country. This is another pathetic attempt to smear people close to President Trump and distract from the administration’s many successes.’” https://wapo.st/2JJo59z …
-- The original NBC News story, by Carol Lee, Courtney Kube, Kristen Welker and Stephanie Ruhle https://nbcnews.to/2FvxbEB
-- CNN’s JEREMY DIAMOND (@JDiamond1): “John Kelly told sr national security officials last month that he believed the President was becoming ‘unhinged,’ a senior admin official tells me. Kelly made the comments in a room w/ Mattis, Dunford & NSC officials after Trump said publicly he wanted to pull troops from Syria.”
-- “Trump Considering Kelly as Possible Candidate to Lead VA,” by WSJ’s Peter Nicholas: “The search for a new Veterans Affairs chief is wide open, with President Donald Trump considering as potential nominees a former Republican congressman, a hospital executive and his White House chief of staff, John Kelly, people familiar with the matter said. …
“[One] priority is picking someone with a strong chance of winning Senate confirmation, a person close to the White House said. Mr. Kelly, who took over as chief of staff last year with a mandate to bring discipline to a White House beset by infighting, is a retired Marine general who previously served as secretary of homeland security. The Senate confirmed him for the homeland security post 88-11.” https://on.wsj.com/2JKbDqi
-- LET’S BE REAL: It’s tough to know who is a candidate for what when reporting indicates that everyone is candidate for everything.
FOGGY BOTTOM REPORT -- “Chatty Pompeo strikes early contrast with reclusive Tillerson,” by Nahal Toosi: “Within hours of being confirmed last week, Pompeo took along several journalists on a trip to Europe and the Middle East, answering their questions in public and private, and appearing Sunday on ABC News’ ‘This Week.’ He’s planning a town hall meeting with State Department staff soon. And he may even start tweeting.” https://politi.co/2HK1Srx
-- GOING FROM THE CIA to the State Department is a big adjustment. But Pompeo is a former House guy, meaning he’s accustomed to existing in an environment where interacting with reporters is an integral part of the job.
FRONT PAGE OF SHELDON ADELSON’S “ISRAEL HAYOM”: “THE IRANIAN LIE” http://bit.ly/2jYPwAZ
MIAMI HERALD’S CAROL ROSENBERG in GUANTANAMO BAY, CUBA: “Lawyers: Scan suggests alleged 9/11 plotter suffered head injury in CIA custody”: “Brain scans conducted on the man accused of orchestrating the 9/11 attacks show damage consistent with abuse he might have suffered in CIA custody, his lawyers reveal in a war court memo obtained by McClatchy.
“If proven, the development could make it less likely that he would face the death penalty. Lawyers for Khalid Sheik Mohammed, 53, who revealed the terror suspect’s brain damage in a memo to be raised at pretrial hearings this week, are seeking more sophisticated studies. Mohammed and four alleged accomplices are in pretrial, capital case proceedings for the terror attacks that killed 2,976 people in New York, Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001. Proof of a traumatic brain injury could cause a court to spare him the death penalty. And if it didn’t happen at the trial court level, attorneys could appeal any death sentence.” https://hrld.us/2FvUyhc
WORTH THE CLICK – “‘No More Hope’: The Work of a Photojournalist Killed in Kabul,” by NYT’s Mujib Mashal -- 16 of Shah Marai’s pix on one page https://nyti.ms/2HIIBq6
JOE LOCKHART is joining Edelman as vice chairman, Public Affairs. He most recently was EVP of comms and public affairs for the NFL and served as press secretary to President Clinton. Lockhart, who co-founded Glover Park Group, will be based in D.C. http://bit.ly/2KqXv6l
THE PRESIDENT’S DAY … TRUMP presents the Commander in Chief Trophy to the U.S. Military Academy at noon. At 1:45, the crew and passengers of Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 come to the White House. Sarah Huckabee Sanders is scheduled to brief at 2:30 p.m.
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
KNOWING MATT AND MERCY SCHLAPP – “Meet the Schlapps, Washington’s Trump-Era ‘It Couple,’” by NYT’s Elizabeth Williamson: “‘I hate losing friends, which I have lost,’ Mr. Schlapp said, acknowledging the ire the couple’s support for Mr. Trump has drawn from some fellow Republicans. He spoke in a cafe near his office in Alexandria, Va., where the Schlapps just bought a $3 million home to go with their weekend retreat, Victory Farm, a 30-acre idyll in the Blue Ridge Mountains. ...
“By the end of the campaign, the Schlapps were making some 30 press appearances a week for Mr. Trump. Before falling asleep each night, the couple would lie in bed rehearsing how they would explain this or that Trumpian tweet or uproar on TV the next morning.” https://nyti.ms/2KqyesV
SORRY MOOCH! -- “HNA Scuttles Deal for Scaramucci’s SkyBridge,” by WSJ’s Julie Steinberg, Kate O’Keeffe and Rob Copeland: “Chinese conglomerate HNA Group Co. dropped its pursuit of SkyBridge Capital, the investment firm founded by former White House communications chief Anthony Scaramucci, after resistance from a U.S. national security panel. The multiagency panel, called the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., privately told both firms it would only approve the deal subject to concessions that would have essentially left the two companies operating separately, people familiar with the matter said.
“Both sides decided to move on, the companies said in a news release Monday evening, confirming The Wall Street Journal’s earlier report. A spokesman for the Treasury Department, which leads the panel, declined to comment. Instead, Mr. Scaramucci will return full time to SkyBridge as co-managing partner and oversee efforts that could include a joint venture with HNA. The arrangement being discussed would involve the two firms selling products together in Asia, an arrangement that would be dramatically more watered down and less lucrative than the deal that once looked to make Mr. Scaramucci much richer.” https://on.wsj.com/2jm8ZMf
JOSH GERSTEIN: “Manafort seeks court hearing on leaks”: “Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign manager, is demanding a hearing into a flurry of media leaks that his defense says unfairly accused him of improper collusion with the Russian government.
“Lawyers for Manafort, who is facing separate indictments in two federal courts, argued in a motion filed Monday night that government officials had engaged in repeated leaks of classified information, grand jury secrets and sensitive investigative details that have jeopardized his right to a fair trial.
“Manafort’s effort to raise the profile of the leak issue in connection with his prosecution could draw the attention and the favor of President Donald Trump, who has railed against what he contends are illegal leaks from the FBI and elsewhere. Many analysts believe Manafort’s best strategy for escaping punishment in the cases he is involved in is to obtain a pardon from Trump either now or after the midterm elections in November.” https://politi.co/2JGijp6
PRUITT FILES -- “EPA whistleblower says Pruitt ‘lied’ to Congress,” by ABC News’ Kyra Phillips, Stephanie Ebbs, John Santucci and Matthew Mosk: “A whistleblower from the [EPA] says that Administrator Scott Pruitt was ‘bold-faced’ lying when he told members of Congress that no EPA employees were retaliated against for raising concerns about his spending decisions. In an exclusive interview with ABC News’ Kyra Phillips, former deputy chief of staff Kevin Chmielewski said he was ‘100 percent’ forced out after raising concerns about Pruitt’s spending on first-class travel.
“Chmielewski said chief of staff Ryan Jackson called him into his office and said: ‘Hey -- Administrator Pruitt either wants me to fire you or put you in an office so that he doesn’t have to see you again,’ Chmielewski told ABC News adding that ‘And in addition to that, he wants to put Millan (Hupp) in your spot, as your title and your pay grade.’ ‘I think Ryan Jackson, the chief of staff, is a very honorable guy. I think he’s just in a weird situation,’ Chmielewski said. ‘Because he was — he was the biggest advocate about doing the right thing. We would talk about it all the time.’” https://abcn.ws/2JHShls
CNN’S MANU RAJU: “Exclusive: Pence’s doctor alerted WH aides about Ronny Jackson concerns last fall”: “Vice President Mike Pence’s physician privately raised alarms within the White House last fall that President Donald Trump’s doctor may have violated federal privacy protections for a key patient -- Pence’s wife, Karen -- and intimidated the vice president's doctor during angry confrontations over the episode. …
“According to copies of internal documents obtained by CNN, Pence’s doctor accused Jackson of overstepping his authority and inappropriately intervening in a medical situation involving the second lady as well as potentially violating federal privacy rights by briefing White House staff and disclosing details to other medical providers -- but not appropriately consulting with the vice president's physician.” https://cnn.it/2Fu0s2k
MEDIAWATCH -- “Baby Breitbarts to pop up across the country?: The Tennessee Star, a right-wing publication with a mainstream name, makes waves while looking to expand,” by Jason Schwartz: “Launched in February 2017, the Star is part of a growing trend of opaque, locally focused, ideological outlets, dressed up as traditional newspapers. From the Arizona Monitor to the Maine Examiner, sites with names and layouts designed to echo those of nonpartisan publications — and with varying levels of credibility — have emerged across the country, aimed at influencing local politics by stepping into the coverage void left by the collapsing finances of local newspapers.” https://politi.co/2JJfALR
SPOTTED: Chris Matthews in first class on a Miami to DCA flight Monday night. … Justice Neil Gorsuch having lunch outside with six other people on the patio of Hawk N’ Dove – pic http://bit.ly/2HGqi53 ... Van Jones in coach from SFO to EWR ... on the Jumbotron last night at the Nats game: Ethan Cohen, CNN associate producer for Jake Tapper, participating in the Steal Second in-game contest. (He won.) Pic http://bit.ly/2rbMrRH ...
... Bill Kristol holding court last night at the Jefferson – pic http://bit.ly/2HGAWZC ... former U.S. Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte in the United Airlines Global First Class Lounge at Dulles Airport Monday night
LIVE FROM MILKEN -- FROM BEN WHITE’s pop-up newsletter Morning Money at the Milken Institute Global Conference: “SPOTTED SUNDAY NIGHT — Trump friend and private equity investor Tom Barrack holding court at a Spago dinner and trying to translate the Trump administration for an audience of strongly pro-free trade financiers and officials from Mexico and Canada … [Steven] Mnuchin and wife Louise Linton chatting with Jane Goodall at Tony Pritzker’s LA mansion for his annual Milken dinner (MM has been to Pritzker’s pad. It is RIDICULOUS); Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) also chatted with Goodall.
“SPOTTED [MONDAY] … Jared Bernstein and Business Insider’s Josh Barro in deep lobby conversation … Kevin O’Leary in line at the Starbucks getting a bagel, and very worried about the lack of cream cheese … Eric Cantor lunching with Mitch Daniels at Circa 55 … [Tony] Blair exiting a black SUV outside the Beverly Hilton … Eric Schmidt walking out of the Beverly Hilton ... Norm Coleman in the Wilshire Garden at the Beverly Hilton … David Shulkin in the Wilshire Garden.” Subscribe to Ben’s pop-up Milken newsletter https://politi.co/2w1wVO9
TRANSITIONS … DEIRDRE WALSH is leaving CNN to join NPR as the new Congress editor. She most recently was CNN senior congressional reporter/producer.
AMANDA CARPENTER’S NEW BOOK, “Gaslighting America: Why We Love It When Trump Lies To us” is out. $24.14 on Amazon https://amzn.to/2HJtsoG
BIRTHWEEK (was yesterday): Chris Mindnich, the pride of Mendham, New Jersey (hat tip: Nic Breeding)
BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Abby Huntsman, co-host of FOX News Channel’s “FOX & Friends Weekend”. How she got her start in media: “As an ABC News desk assistant -- answering phones, running scripts, and logging tape. On a big day, I would sub in as a prop to test out lighting for Sam Donaldson’s evening report!” Read her Playbook Plus Q&A: https://politi.co/2Kn9Bxn
BIRTHDAYS: Ninio Fetalvo, assistant White House press secretary (h/ts Natalie Strom, Kelly Love and Judd Deere) ... Leonard Downie Jr. is 76 ... David Winston ... Alex Wellen, global chief product officer at CNN ... Tom Walsh of the DNC ... Maria Pica Karp, VP and general manager of gov’t affairs at Chevron ... Amy Smith ... Molly Levinson, president of the Levinson Group (h/t Josh Wachs) … Meredith Schultz … Shivam Mallick Shah, on the education team at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative ... Michael Freedman ... Alan Kaye is 48 ... Anthony Cimino of the Financial Services Roundtable ... Seth London, founder of Ground Control Partners and a Tusk Ventures alum, is 33 (h/t Herbie Ziskend) ... Stacie Paxton Cobos ... Jordan Quinn ... Rachael Dean Wilson, PR director for Mid-Atlantic and South at Whole Foods Market and a John McCain alum ... Josh Tonsager … Shaina Goodman ... Politico Europe’s Emmet Livingstone ... John Bridgeland, founder and CEO of Civic and a Bush WH alum ... Liz Stark ... Roger Conant (h/t son Alex) … Graham Veysey, principal of North Water Partners ... Jeff Schapiro is 63 ... Jeff Wice ...
... The Guardian’s Ben Jacobs ... Abraham Foxman, national director emeritus of the ADL, is 78 … Julia Mazzone ... Megan Lowry, comms specialist at the American Public Health Association and a GPG alum ... WaPo’s Jon Gerberg ... Caroline Chen, healthcare reporter at ProPublica ... Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.) is 57 ... Anjana Padmanabhan … Kami Spicklemire ... Dawn Livingston ... Joe Gillespie ... Elizabeth Stanley, COS to Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) and the pride of Grove Hill, Ala. ... Pete Jeffries is 54 ... Jessica Marie Gallo ... Arash Ghadishah ... Anashen Sarkisian … Fox News alum Nelson Lewis is 34 ... Emily Lamont ... Alex Cisneros ... Andrew Tyrrell ... Maureen Garde ... Ellen Moran ... Susan Mudd ... Rebecca Carson ... Mary Hughes ... Nan Gibson ... Jake Hajdu ... Mike Zeitlin (h/ts Teresa Vilmain)