Playbook: A buckle-up type of week

- Mei 08, 2018



BUCKLE UP… The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer and Ronan Farrow dropped a bombshell story before 7 p.m. Monday that detailed extensive allegations of physical abuse and excessive drinking by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who has been one of the leading legal figures in the state against “Me Too” perpetrators like Harvey Weinstein (http://bit.ly/2FTLH9k). He resigned by 10 p.m. …

… THE PRESIDENT is expected to announce whether he is going to pull out of the Iran nuclear accord today at 2 p.m. AP quoted Iran’s president as saying “It is possible that we will face some problems for two or three months, but we will pass through this" ...

… In West Virginia, Don Blankenship, a former coal CEO who spent time in prison, could win the GOP primary race tonight to run against Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin. Blankenship has made outwardly racist remarks. If he wins, Republicans on Capitol Hill and in the White House believe it could alter the balance of power in the Senate. …

… DEVIN NUNES, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, is threatening to hold Republican Attorney General Jeff Sessions in contempt for not forking over documents he wants. “It wasn’t a threat. It’s what’s going to happen,” Nunes told John Bresnahan yesterday. (https://politi.co/2rqp5J0) … GINA HASPEL, the president’s embattled nominee to lead the CIA, will go before the Senate Intelligence Committee Wednesday. She’s on the Hill today, meeting Democratic Sens. Jack Reed (R.I.) and Ron Wyden (Ore.).

Good Tuesday morning. WE’LL SIT DOWN with NANCY PELOSI this morning at the Liaison Hotel. Doors open at 8 a.m., and the program will start around 8:30 a.m. If you can’t make it, we’ll livestream it. Watch it here https://politi.co/2HV3z9y

RESCISSIONS PACKAGE EXPECTED TO DROP TODAY -- “Trump tries to woo conservatives with bid to cut spending,” by Sarah Ferris and Kaitlyn Burton: “The White House on Tuesday will send $15 billion in proposed spending cuts to Congress in an attempt to demonstrate fiscal austerity to skeptical conservatives, senior administration officials confirmed Monday night.

“The administration had last week planned to send Congress a package of $11 billion in spending reductions. But since then, some conservatives have quietly pushed for an even bolder proposal, particularly after the GOP’s spending binge in recent months, said Republicans familiar with the discussions.” https://politi.co/2wihSQf


-- SOMETHING TO WATCH: One of the White House’s biggest targets in the cuts package is $7 billion from the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which provides health care to 9 million low-income children, per Sarah and Kaitlyn. Of that $7 billion, $5 billion is from unspent money and $2 billion is from an emergency fund. It’s hard to see a lot of Republicans up for reelection wanting to cut health care for poor kids no matter where it comes from. The package is expected to pass the House. Its future is more uncertain in the Senate.

THIS EXPOSES THE BIG GULF between the Senate and the House. If you talk to Senate GOP folks, they’ll just shake their head and say some version of: “the juice isn’t worth the squeeze.” Why, Senate Republicans ask, hand Democrats a talking point of “Republicans want to cut health care for poor kids.” They say this kind of stuff is political poison and self-inflicted pain.

-- FOR YOUR RADAR: Democrats are going to challenge the use of a simple-majority vote in the Senate, because this package cuts from mandatory spending. Non-partisan parliamentarians will play a big role in determining whether this can pass by majority.

A BIT OF PALACE INTRIGUE … A House GOP aide sends along that the legislative branch appropriations subcommittee is cutting funding for the office of the former speaker from five years to one year, at the request of Speaker Paul Ryan. The aide notes that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi wants to completely eliminate the funding for former speakers -- and Ryan is cool with that. This is minor, but interesting. It will play out today. This perk is tricky, because the last two speakers who have left -- Dennis Hastert and John Boehner -- have both gone to law firms. Jake and Bresnahan wrote about this nine years ago. https://politi.co/2K32qt8

MEMBERS OF TEAM SCALISE past and present threw the majority whip a party on the Adams and Reese rooftop celebrating his 10 years in Congress. (Scalise took office in Jan. 2008 after Bobby Jindal left the seat to become governor.) SPOTTED: Brett Horton, Lynnel Ruckert, Megan Miller, Bart Reising, Lauren Fine, Chris Bond, Ben Napier, David Planning, Bill Hughes, Marty Reiser, Kelley Hudak, Tyler Daniel, Stephanie Belk, Jenny Drucker, and Scalise alums including Lynnel Ruckert, Matt Bravo, Chris Hodgson, Eric Zulkosky, Will Dunham, Megan Becker and Matt Jewell. Photo of Scalise chief of staff Horton, former COS Ruckert and personal office chief Megan Miller http://bit.ly/2K1GD4ZA group shot http://bit.ly/2KJErQM

SHOT … DARREN SAMUELSOHN speaks to RUDY GIULIANI: “Giuliani: Russia probe will motivate Trump voters for midterms”: “‘It has his people much more excited now than before,’ the former New York mayor, who last month took on a new assignment as the president’s personal attorney, said in an interview on Monday. …

“He says the president is satisfied with his work as his attorney despite recent controversies stemming from television interviews in which he disclosed contradictory information about payments to the adult film actress Stormy Daniels. ‘If I’m not up to it, I don’t know who is,’ Giuliani said. ‘I know the Justice Department better than just about anyone.’” https://politi.co/2K31uVE

CHASER -- “Trump grows frustrated with Giuliani as Stormy Daniels drama rages on,” by Eliana Johnson, Annie Karni and Darren Samuelsohn: “President Donald Trump has shaken up his legal team in the last three weeks — and he’s still not happy. The president has been griping to associates that Rudy Giuliani, his new personal attorney, has failed to shut down the Stormy Daniels hush money saga.

“And he has expressed frustration that Giuliani’s media appearances are raising more questions than they are answering, turning the story into a days-long drama capped by the admission Sunday that the president may have made similar payments to other women.

“For now, White House aides said, Giuliani still has a direct line in to Trump – the two speak almost daily – and nobody in the West Wing is eager to insert themselves between the two irascible New Yorkers by yanking Giuliani off TV. But some aides said they expect the president to fire Giuliani if his behavior doesn’t change.” https://politi.co/2rsEKXw

TOODALOO TEHRAN -- “Unswayed by Allies, Trump Is Expected to Leave Iran Deal, Diplomats Say,” by NYT’s David E. Sanger and Steven Erlanger: “President Trump is expected to announce on Tuesday that he is withdrawing the United States from the Iran nuclear deal, European diplomats said after concluding that they had failed to convince him that reneging on America’s commitment to the pact could cast the West into new confrontation with Tehran.

“If the diplomats are correct, the announcement will be the most consequential national security decision of Mr. Trump’s 15 months in office — though it could be eclipsed in coming weeks by his direct negotiation with North Korea’s leader over surrendering its nuclear arsenal. One senior European diplomat who has been deeply involved in trying to persuade Mr. Trump to stay in the deal told reporters on Monday the chance that the president would keep the agreement intact was ‘very small.’” https://nyti.ms/2rrOQbQ


NOMINATION WATCH -- “National security officials preparing contingency plans if Haspel’s nomination fails,” by CNN’s Jenna McLaughlin: “One of the contingency plans being discussed involves preparing Susan Gordon, the deputy director of national intelligence, to potentially take Haspel’s place in case Republican senators or Trump balk, two intelligence sources familiar with the matter said. Two additional sources who spoke with Republican strategists and lawmakers were also aware of general contingency planning. It's unclear how formal these conversations are, but two of the sources said Gordon was in varying stages of being prepared.” https://cnn.it/2FUmED0

WILD AND WONDERFUL WEST VIRGINIA …

-- ALEX ISENSTADT in MOUNT HOPE, W.VA: “Blankenship, predicting victory, thumbs his nose at GOP”: “A defiant Don Blankenship on Monday shrugged off President Donald Trump’s last-minute plea for Republican primary voters to reject his insurgent Senate candidacy — and flatly predicted it would fail to halt his momentum.

“On the final day of the dramatic West Virginia campaign, the coal baron and ex-prisoner seemed unbothered by the president’s foray into the contest, arguing that voters would see through it as the latest ploy in an establishment-led effort aimed at keeping him from winning the nomination.

“‘I think it’s still over,’ he declared to reporters here during a frenzied final day of the race. ‘It probably tightens it a point or two, but I don’t think it matters much.’ At another point in the day, after a reporter asked if he was feeling confident, Blankenship had a deadpan response: ‘Yeah, we’re gonna win.’” https://politi.co/2whFEvw

-- WHO IS REALLY TO BLAME: “Flake blames Trump for rise of Blankenship in West Virginia,” by John Bresnahan: “[A]ccording to Flake, Trump’s use of racially charged language and messages during the 2016 race for the White House —and his success in doing so — has inspired other GOP hopefuls to try to do the same, including Blankenship.

“‘The problem with normalizing statements and behavior like we’ve seen over the last couple years leads to this kind of thing,’ Flake said. ‘If it’s still OK to talk about “China people” or whatever else. But that’s not too dissimilar a word from some of the language we’ve heard used successfully.’ Flake added: ‘When you talk about “Mexican rapists” or a judge who can’t judge fairly because of his Mexican heritage. Words have meaning, and this isn’t going to be helpful to anyone.’” https://politi.co/2KKVxhi

-- FLASHBACK: “Before the Blankenship-McConnell Feud, the Senator Aided the Mining Executive,” by ProPublica’s Alec MacGillis: “What has gone overlooked amid this extraordinary clash, is that 18 years ago, both McConnell and Chao effectively sprang to the defense of Blankenship, sparing his company considerable cost and consequences for a disaster that unfolded in their home state of Kentucky in the middle of the night on Oct. 11, 2000.” http://bit.ly/2HX8uXy

-- THE OBVIOUS QUESTION HERE is what does Mitch McConnell, the NRSC and the constellation of big-money outside groups that support Senate Republicans do if Blankenship wins. It’s very difficult to see McConnell supporting Blankenship after he called the majority leader’s wife’s family “China people,” and suggested the Kentucky Republican has mixed allegiances because of Elaine Chao’s family’s heritage. But knocking Sen. Joe Manchin out of the Senate has always been part of the GOP plan to keeping -- or expanding -- their majority in the Senate.

THE PRUITT FILES …

-- NYT’S CORAL DAVENPORT and MAGGIE HABERMAN: “White House Aides Are Urging President Trump to Fire Scott Pruitt, the E.P.A. Chief”: “Senior White House staff members are encouraging President Trump to fire Scott Pruitt, his embattled [EPA] chief, according to two top administration officials. While Mr. Trump has until now championed Mr. Pruitt, the officials say the president’s enthusiasm may be cooling because of the ongoing cascade of alleged ethical and legal missteps.

“Over the past few months, as Mr. Pruitt’s problems have mounted — he is now the subject of at least 11 federal investigations and some Republicans have called for his resignation — Mr. Trump has continued to support his E.P.A. chief on Twitter and in public and private remarks.

“But that is likely to change in the coming weeks, the two officials said. Since last month’s confirmation of Mr. Pruitt’s deputy, the former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler, White House staff members say they believe that if Mr. Pruitt is fired or resigns, Mr. Wheeler will continue to effectively push through Mr. Trump’s agenda to help the coal industry and roll back environmental regulations.” https://nyti.ms/2KLiCQP

-- “Pruitt fast-tracked California cleanup after Hugh Hewitt brokered meeting,” by Emily Holden and Anthony Adragna: “EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt placed a polluted California area on his personal priority list of Superfund sites targeted for ‘immediate and intense’ action after conservative radio and television host Hugh Hewitt brokered a meeting between him and lawyers for the water district that was seeking federal help to clean up the polluted Orange County site.

“The previously unreported meeting, which was documented in emails released by EPA under a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by the Sierra Club, showed Pruitt’s staff reacting quickly to the request last September by Hewitt, who has been one of Pruitt’s staunchest defenders amid a raft of ethics controversies around his expensive travel, security team spending and a cheap Washington condo rental from a lobbyist. ...

“Hewitt, a resident of Orange County whose son James works in EPA’s press office, emailed Pruitt in September to set up a meeting between the administrator and the law firm Larson O’Brien, which employs Hewitt and represents the Orange County Water District. Pruitt had been planning to meet with the lawyers in California a month earlier, but cancelled the trip to undergo knee surgery.” https://politi.co/2FTgD9m

TRUMP’S TUESDAY -- The president is meeting with Senate Republicans in the morning. He will have lunch with VP Mike Pence and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. This afternoon he will give remarks on the Iran deal followed by a speech for the Federal Judges Association.




FIRST PERSON – ANNA KAIN in WaPo, “I’m sharing my #MeToo story because Congress is broken, and we have to fix it”: “It has been about three months since the House passed #MeToo legislation to reform how cases of harassment are handled on Capitol Hill. ... But similar legislation sits idly in the Senate, with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) unwilling to bring it to the floor for a vote. This is shameful and unconscionable. Congress must pass this bill. ... The employment contracts and nondisclosure agreements required by some congressional offices upon hiring should never be allowed to prevent a staffer from protecting himself or herself.

“There should be no time limits on when a complaint can be filed. The proposed Office of Employee Advocacy must be required to disclose the limits of the counsel it provides, including any guidance on civil action. And the impartiality of advocates assigned by the office to guide staffers through this process must be ensured.” https://wapo.st/2wtn2bU

HAPPENING TODAY -- “HUD Secretary Ben Carson to be sued for suspending Obama-era fair-housing rule,” by WaPo’s Tracy Jan: “Fair-housing advocates planned to file a lawsuit early Tuesday against the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and HUD Secretary Ben Carson for suspending an Obama-era rule requiring communities to examine and address barriers to racial integration. The 2015 rule required more than 1,200 communities receiving billions of federal housing dollars to draft plans to desegregate their communities — or risk losing federal funds.

“After nearly 50 years of inaction, the rule was seen as a belated effort by HUD to enforce the landmark civil rights legislation of the 1968 Fair Housing Act, which compelled communities to use federal dollars to end segregation in residential neighborhoods. ... Carson, who has long criticized federal efforts to desegregate American neighborhoods as ‘failed socialist experiments,’ suspended the rule in January, allowing local and state governments to continue receiving HUD grants without compliance with the full requirements of the Fair Housing Act.” https://wapo.st/2K0mD2O


AGENCY WATCH -- “‘Like a Mosquito in a Nudist Colony.’ How Mick Mulvaney Found Plenty to Target at Consumer Bureau,” by NYT’s Glenn Thrush and Alan Rappeport: “In his time in the Trump administration, Mick Mulvaney has produced two budgets that slashed federal spending and were heralded as blueprints for the deconstruction of the administrative state. Even Republicans ignored them, and Congress then added billions to the very programs he targeted in what seemed a personal rebuke. But Mr. Mulvaney — President Trump’s exasperate d, restless, but deeply determined budget director — has found an alternative path to relevance in Mr. Trump’s Washington.

“A firebrand fiscal hawk as a congressman from South Carolina, Mr. Mulvaney has seized on his second job as the interim chief of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as an opportunity to dismantle an Obama-era watchdog agency vilified by Republicans since its inception as an example of government overreach. ... ‘There are lots of targets of opportunity over there for Mick,’ said Marc Short, Mr. Trump’s legislative affairs director. ‘He’s like a mosquito in a nudist colony.’” https://nyti.ms/2I1ZpIW

MEDIAWATCH – SCOOP: “Qatar eyes stake in Newsmax,” by Ben Schreckinger with Daniel Lippman: “The Qatari government has sought to acquire a major stake in Newsmax, the conservative media company run by President Donald Trump’s friend Chris Ruddy, according to two people with knowledge of the talks. Qatari officials met with Newsmax representatives on multiple occasions this year … Ruddy, reached for comment, declined to address specific questions, saying only ‘this is all false.’ A spokesman for the Qatari embassy also declined to comment. … The Qataris have eyed a $90 million investment, according to the people. The money would be used in large part to expand the company’s television operations.” https://politi.co/2rri9ez

-- Kyle Feldscher is now CNN’s PM breaking news editor. He previously held a similar role at the Washington Examiner.



ENGAGED -- Chad Rhoades, counsel to Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), on Sunday proposed to Blair Ellis, deputy national press secretary for the RNC, on Roosevelt Island. “The native North Carolinians met while working at the State House for then-House Speaker Tillis.” Pic http://bit.ly/2K1BSZb

BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Anson Kaye, partner at GMMB. How he got his start in politics: “Standing with my dad as a kid, holding a Ted Kennedy for president sign.” Read his Playbook Plus Q&A: https://politi.co/2rsnzWX

BIRTHDAYS: Melissa Moss of strategic consulting firm Moss Advisors (hat tip: Kelley McCormick) ... Amy Little Thomas ... NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is 57 ... Dave Catanese, senior politics writer at U.S. News ... Politifact’s Manuela Tobias ... Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) is 67 ... Rep. John Moolenaar (R-Mich.) is 57 ... Adam Hitchcock, managing partner at Guggenheim Partners and an Obama alum … Meredy Talbot-Zorn ... Kim Greenhouse ... Stephen Peters, senior national press secretary and spokesman at Human Rights Campaign ... L.A. Times’ Chris Megerian ... Bill Oldaker, partner at the Oldaker Group ... Josh Lockman ... Alix Haber (h/ts Jon Haber) ... CAP’s Miranda Peterson ... Joan Doty ... John Martin ... Cristina Allegretti ... Seth Freeland … Mike Neal … FT’s Jim Brunsden ... Molly Devereaux (h/t dad Jack Howard) ... Danny Danon, Israel’s Permanent Representative to the UN, is 47 …

... Ed Meagher, weekend programming manager at CNN (h/ts Adam Chariton and Kevin Bohn) ... Geoffrey Cowan is 76 … Politico’s AndrĂ© Bransford and Shahab Rahmani ... NBC News’ Clare Hiler ... Tyler Hatch is 27 ... Kelley Greenman … Ashley Pratte of the Herald Group ... Eileen Davis ... Daniel Ki of the Obama Foundation ... John Lott, Jr. ... Eric Rodrigues ... Claire Guthrie Gastanaga, executive director of ACLU of Virginia ... Edelman’s Marissa Maggio ... Molly Howard … former Sen. Dennis DeConcini (D-Ariz.) is 81 ... Adam Feiler ... Sian Wetherill ... Cathy Duvall ... Shane Grady ... Valerie Bhappu ... Jim Cope ... Heather Handyside ... Stephanie Sanchez ... David Lam ... John Stirrup ... Tom McCuin ... Lisa Katz Pagel.


 

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