BEHIND THE SCENES …. HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CALIF.) headlined his first CONGRESSIONAL LEADERSHIP FUND event this morning at Fiola, the Italian restaurant in Penn Quarter. CLF, as many of you know, is the main House GOP super PAC. WAYS AND MEANS CHAIRMAN KEVIN BRADY (R-TEXAS) also attended the event.
A SOURCE PASSED ALONG THE DETAILS in a presentation by Corry Bliss, who runs CLF and the American Action Network, almost all of which have not been revealed before:
-- CLF has raised $71.4 MILLION, compared to $2 million this time last cycle. THE AMERICAN ACTION NETWORK has raised $117.8 MILLION, compared to $16.7 million this time last cycle. This fundraising haul represents an unimaginable warchest for the super PAC.
-- INTERNAL CLF POLLING: CLF polled 23 Republican-held districts Hillary Clinton won, and the 25 Republican-held districts she lost but received at least 44% of the vote. In December, the generic ballot was D+11, but now it is a mere D+3. That represents a significant tightening.
-- MORE PEOPLE THINK THE COUNTRY IS ON THE RIGHT TRACK: In December, just 31% of people thought the country was on the right track. That’s up to 39% now. That’s still not great.
MCCARTHY being brought into the big-donor CLF fold is an important step in his quest to becoming the top GOP leader.
PRESIDENT TRUMP at the 37th Annual National Peace Officers' Memorial Service at the U.S. Capitol: “We believe that criminals who kill our police should get the death penalty. Bring it forth.”
THE PRESIDENT will be in the Capitol this afternoon for the Senate GOP lunch. We are told that nominations will come up, as will midterm messaging and immigration. (Immigration might be headed the Senate’s way, considering the House is close to closing out a discharge petition on the subject). We also imagine the president might bring up government funding and his desire for a border wall. You have to imagine that the president’s aide’s remarks about Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) might come up.
Good Tuesday afternoon. It’s another big primary night tonight. Follow along with POLITICO as voters head to the polls in Pennsylvania (https://politi.co/2L0Ux93), Idaho (https://politi.co/2rIsDX8), Nebraska (https://politi.co/2L5Hh2C) and Oregon (https://politi.co/2L0VsGk). Plus, our election team will host a live chat once we get closer to poll closing times (https://politi.co/2L3EO8X), so tune in if you have any questions.
NOW YOU TELL US! … CNN’S MANU RAJU and JEREMY HERB: “Haspel says CIA should not have conducted interrogation program”: “Gina Haspel, President Donald Trump's pick to be the next CIA director, says in a new letter that the CIA should not have conducted then-President George W. Bush's interrogation and detention program where waterboarding and other brutal interrogation tactics were used on detainees.
“In the letter to Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Haspel takes a position she wasn’t willing to state publicly last week, writing that the interrogation program ‘is not one the CIA should have undertaken.’
“‘While I won’t condemn those that made these hard calls, and I have noted the valuable intelligence collected, the program ultimately did damage to our officers and our standing in the world,’ Haspel wrote in the letter, which was obtained by CNN. ‘With the benefit of hindsight and my experience as a senior agency leader, the enhanced interrogation program is not one the CIA should have undertaken.’” https://cnn.it/2IntYJk … The letter https://cnn.it/2ILtdgN
UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT -- @nahaltoosi: “SecState Mike Pompeo (@SecPompeo) just announced that he’s lifting the State Department’s hiring freeze. So bureaus can start hiring again at ‘current funding levels.’ … To be clear, the ‘current funding levels’ are much higher than what Trump proposed, thanks to Congress. Pompeo, in an email, says ‘The Department’s workforce is our most valuable asset.’ ...
“He adds: ‘We need our men and women on the ground, executing American diplomacy with great vigor and energy, and representing our great nation.’ … Pompeo is holding his first town hall tomorrow at 10 a.m. So this gives staffers a big morale boost going into that.”
ON THE PRESIDENT’S MIND -- @realDonaldTrump at 8:26 a.m.: “Our great First Lady is doing really well. Will be leaving hospital in 2 or 3 days. Thank you for so much love and support!” … at 8:35 a.m.: “Trade negotiations are continuing with China. They have been making hundreds of billions of dollars a year from the U.S., for many years. Stay tuned!” …
… at 10:08 a.m.: “Can you believe that with all of the made up, unsourced stories I get from the Fake News Media, together with the $10,000,000 Russian Witch Hunt (there is no Collusion), I now have my best Poll Numbers in a year. Much of the Media may be corrupt, but the People truly get it!”
SOFT LANDING -- “Embattled ex-congressman Blake Farenthold finds safe harbor at the Port of Port Lavaca,” by the Corpus Christi Caller-Times’ Chris Ramirez: “‘I’m starting a new job today that has an hour-and-a-half commute,’ [former Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas)] said on 1360 KKTX-AM’s ‘Lago in the Morning’ talk show. ‘You’re gonna have me listening and calling in a whole lot now.’
“His annual salary will be $160,000.10, just below the $174,000 he earned in Congress. In a statement, the port said Farenthold would be its full-time legislative liaison and will be tasked with promoting the port’s agenda. That’s a challenge in a Gulf of Mexico region where the race is on among ports of call to expand to meet a growing global energy market.” http://bit.ly/2GhOqcH
ON THE WORLD STAGE -- WaPo’s JOSH ROGIN: “After top Trump officials went to Beijing last month, the Chinese government wrote up a document with a list of economic and trade demands that ranged from the reasonable to the ridiculous. On Sunday, President Trump caved to one of those demands before the next round of negotiations even starts, undermining his own objectives for no visible gain.
“The Chinese proposal is entitled, ‘Framework Arrangement on Promoting Balanced Development on Bilateral Trade,’ and I obtained an English version of the document, which is the Chinese government’s negotiating position heading into the next round of talks. That round begins this week when Xi Jinping’s special economic envoy Liu He returns to town.
“Bullet point 5 is entitled, ‘Appropriately handling the ZTE case to secure global supply chain.’” https://wapo.st/2Gh6PX6
IN MARYLAND … “Maryland Rep. Anthony Brown recovering after minor stroke,” by Eli Okun: “Rep. Anthony Brown had a minor stroke Friday night but is ‘expected to make a full recovery,’ his office said Tuesday. … Brown suffered the stroke at his home in Bowie, where he began feeling extremely dizzy and ill, spokesman Matt Verghese said in a statement. He was transported to University of Maryland Prince George’s Hospital Center.
“Brown stayed at the hospital until Sunday. He is now recovering back home, though his return date to Capitol Hill remains uncertain and ‘he will have a limited public schedule,’ Verghese said.” https://politi.co/2L5Jawe
CAMPAIGN STOP -- “AP, Fox News launch new exit polling project,” by Steven Shepard: “The Associated Press unveiled a new project Tuesday to supplant traditional exit polling -- beginning with the 2018 midterm elections. AP VoteCast will combine traditional, probability-based polling with an online, opt-in survey of voters in targeted states. It will measure the preferences and opinions of those who have or will cast ballots in this year’s midterms, and also non-voters about why they chose not to turn out.
“The project is being launched in conjunction with Fox News -- with both news organizations abandoning the embattled model of in-person exit polling that has dominated election nights for decades.” https://politi.co/2L5FHhc
VALLEY TALK -- “Twitter Is Going To Limit The Visibility Of Tweets From People Behaving Badly,” by BuzzFeed’s Alex Kantrowitz: “On Tuesday, Twitter announced a massive change to the way its conversations will work, evaluating not just the content of individual tweets, but the way users’ behave more broadly on the service. Twitter will now use thousands of behavioral signals when filtering search, replies, and algorithmic recommendations. If it believes you are trying to game its system, or simply a jerk, it will push your tweets lower down.” https://bzfd.it/2GjgpbY
MEDIAWATCH -- “Tom Wolfe, Pyrotechnic Nonfiction Writer and Novelist, Dies at 88,” by the NYT’s Deirdre Carmody and William Grimes: “Tom Wolfe, an innovative journalist whose technicolor, wildly punctuated prose brought to life the worlds of California surfers, car customizers, astronauts and Manhattans moneyed status-seekers in works like ‘The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby,’ ‘The Right Stuff’ and ‘Bonfire of the Vanities,’ died on Monday in a Manhattan hospital. He was 88.
“His death was confirmed by his agent, Lynn Nesbit, who said Mr. Wolfe had been hospitalized with an infection. He had lived in New York since joining The New York Herald Tribune as a reporter in 1962.” https://nyti.ms/2KZZTRM
SPORTS BLINK -- THE CHARLOTTE OBSERVER: “Hedge fund manager to buy Carolina Panthers for record price”: “Hedge fund manager David Tepper is expected to sign a deal Tuesday to buy the Carolina Panthers for $2.2 billion in cash. A source close to the process told the Observer that the deal will be subject to an owners’ vote at the next NFL meeting, which runs next Monday through Wednesday in Atlanta. The $2.2 billion would be a record for an NFL franchise, besting the $1.4 billion price for the Buffalo Bills in 2014.” http://bit.ly/2rHEKnc
SPOTTED: Rudy Giuliani chatting on his cellphone as he boarded a Delta shuttle this morning from LGA to DCA. Pic http://bit.ly/2jWgycz
TRANSITIONS -- TJ Helmstetter is starting at the Democratic Party of Wisconsin as a senior adviser for the gubernatorial race. He is an alum of the DNC and Americans for Tax Fairness. … Lou Penrose has launched his own government relations and public affairs firm, Lou Penrose Government Relations, in South California. He was previously district chief of staff for former Rep. John Campbell (R-Calif.) and senior aide and adviser to Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and former Rep. Mary Bono (R-Calif.).
WEEKEND WEDDING -- Kenzie Clift, a press assistant to Vice President Mike Pence, on Saturday married Nick Barbknecht, a strategist at Majority Strategies, in a ceremony at the Historic Ambassador House & Heritage Gardens in Fishers, Ind. The couple, who met while working at the statehouse in Indiana, will honeymoon in Playa del Carmen in Mexico. Pics http://bit.ly/2IjNW7S ... http://bit.ly/2IlTXEQ
BONUS BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Ruth Marcus, Washington Post deputy editorial page editor/columnist, is 6-0. How she got her start in journalism: “I got my start in journalism at the Yale Daily News, with an article about where to buy firewood for your dorm. (My dorm was the only one on the freshman quad that didn’t have a fireplace.) Also, I was too shy to put in my byline so it ended up with a byline Roseanne Marcus, who had also written for the paper. Still, it was a thrill and got me launched on a career I never imagined.” Read her Playbook Plus Q&A: https://politi.co/2KmjiLB