LATEST TEST OF TRUMP ON THE TRAIL … POTUS TO NASHVILLE TODAY … WAPO’S MARY JORDAN in Fairfield Glade, Tennessee: “In Tennessee, Marsha Blackburn’s embrace of Trump tests her standing with female voters”: “Rep. Marsha Blackburn, the conservative lawmaker who boasts of packing a pistol in her purse and of her passion for President Trump, had just left a pancake breakfast Saturday when a woman moved close.
“‘How as a woman can you support Donald Trump?’ asked Marcia Storrison, a Democratic retiree in this heavily Republican area of hilly green golf courses. ‘His lies! I believe in facts. ... I don’t understand how a woman can be supportive of what is going on.’ ‘Trump is working very hard for us,’ replied the Republican congresswoman, touting his record on jobs and the economy.
“But Storrison wasn’t satisfied. Trump has taken women’s rights ‘back to the 1950s,’ she told Blackburn. In a year when a surging number of female candidates on the left are tapping into support from women such as Storrison, Blackburn — who is facing centrist Democrat and former governor Phil Bredesen in a close Senate race — is taking the opposite tack by embracing the polarizing president.
“Blackburn, one of Trump’s most vocal congressional surrogates, shares his hard-line views on immigration and often adopts a similarly pugilistic tone, calling herself ‘politically incorrect and proud of it.’ Her alliance with Trump will be center stage Tuesday, when the president is scheduled to appear with her at a rally in Nashville and then headline a fundraiser for her Senate campaign.” https://wapo.st/2IQsqMh
NYT’S JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS and MAGGIE HABERMAN: “With ‘Spygate,’ Trump Shows How He Uses Conspiracy Theories to Erode Trust”: “Now that he is president, Mr. Trump’s baseless stories of secret plots by powerful interests appear to be having a distinct effect. Among critics, they have fanned fears that he is eroding public trust in institutions, undermining the idea of objective truth and sowing widespread suspicions about the government and news media that mirror his own. ... Former aides to the president, speaking privately because they did not want to embarrass him, said paranoia predisposed him to believe in nefarious, hidden forces driving events. But they also said political opportunism informed his promotion of conspiracy theories.
“For instance, two former aides said Mr. Trump had resisted using the term ‘deep state’ for months, partly because he believed it made him look too much like a crank. But Mr. Trump saw that it played well in the conservative news media, and so in November, he began using it, the two aides said. The strategy appears to have yielded results. Several polls have shown a dip in public approval of the special counsel investigation over the past several months, as the president has repeatedly attacked it. And a Monmouth Poll released in March found that a bipartisan majority believes an unelected ‘deep state’ is manipulating national policy.” https://nyti.ms/2GYTZgC
Good Tuesday morning. The NBA Finals are set, and the Golden State Warriors are a hefty favorite to top the Cleveland Cavaliers to win the title. The Warriors are a 12-point favorite to win game one, which is Thursday night.
CONGRESS is out this week for the Memorial Day break.
GOOD DEAL … SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FLA.) disclosed in his financial disclosure that Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Fla.) flew him to D.C. from Miami on his private Gulfstream G280 jet in Oct. 2017. Rooney blocked the movements of his jet after we started asking questions about it. He was frequently flying the plane back and forth from Naples to D.C.
NANCY COOK -- “Ross tries to reclaim ‘killer’ status with Trump in China trade talks”: “Investor Wilbur Ross was brought into the administration as one of President Donald Trump’s ‘killers’ – but in recent months, the commerce secretary has been increasingly marginalized, with his agency widely seen in the White House as a mess.
“Trump himself has lashed out at Ross in Oval Office meetings, telling the man who once helped bail him out in Atlantic City that he’s ‘past his prime’ and ‘no longer a killer’ and trying to bench him from making trade deals, according to three people familiar with the comments. Despite being one of the administration’s leading protectionist voices early on, Ross was initially left off a May trade delegation to China led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
“But now Ross is heading back to China in early June in hope of cutting some type of trade deal that delivers on Trump’s campaign promises to extract concessions from Beijing on behalf of American workers.” https://politi.co/2xmBsLL
ON THE KOREAN PENINSULA …
-- AP: “Diplomacy heats up before summit, with trips by U.S., N. Korea,” by Kim Tong-Hyung in Seoul: “Diplomacy accelerated Tuesday ahead of a potential summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as a team of American diplomats involved in preparatory discussions left a Seoul hotel, possibly to continue talks with their North Korean counterparts.
“Meanwhile, in Beijing, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported that senior North Korean official Kim Yong Chol planned to head to the United States, potentially for more talks to set up the summit over the future of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. He would be the most senior North Korean official to visit the United States in 18 years.” https://bit.ly/2xmSYzh
-- “U.S. Holds Off on New North Korea Sanctions as Summit Talks Progress,” by WSJ’s Vivian Salama and Ian Talley: “The U.S. decided to hold off on implementing a major new sanctions push against North Korea while it looks to revive a summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un next month.
“The White House was prepared to announce the ramped-up sanctions regime as soon as Tuesday but decided Monday to indefinitely delay the measures while talks with North Korea proceed, a U.S. official said, citing progress in efforts to repair diplomatic relations between Washington and Pyongyang. ... The Treasury Department had prepared a package aimed at nearly three-dozen sanction targets, including Russian and Chinese entities, according to two administration officials.” https://on.wsj.com/2sn2ht8
-- NYT’S WILLIAM BROAD and DAVID SANGER: “North Korea Nuclear Disarmament Could Take 15 Years, Expert Warns”: “As the Trump administration races to start talks with North Korea on what it calls ‘rapid denuclearization,’ a top federal government adviser who has repeatedly visited the North’s sprawling atomic complex is warning that the disarmament process could take far longer, up to 15 years.” https://nyti.ms/2LEZ5Ck
THE INVESTIGATIONS …
-- “Stormy Daniels’s Lawyer Michael Avenatti Complicates Michael Cohen Probe,” by WSJ’s Joe Palazzolo, Michael Rothfeld and Nicole Hong: “[B]ehind the scenes, Mr. Avenatti has slowed prosecutors’ efforts to discuss the nondisclosure agreement with Ms. Clifford’s former lawyer, these people say. Mr. Avenatti also demanded to review documents investigators subpoenaed from Ms. Clifford’s former manager, they said. ...
“Mr. Avenatti hasn’t yet acted on multiple requests from federal prosecutors in Manhattan for Ms. Clifford to waive the attorney-client privilege that prevents her former lawyer from discussing their communications about the nondisclosure deal, the people familiar with the matter said. In April, Mr. Avenatti, acting in his capacity as Ms. Clifford’s current lawyer, sent a cease-and-desist letter to her former lawyer, Keith Davidson, ordering him not to disclose any communications related to her, one of those people said. Mr. Avenatti made similar demands of Ms. Clifford’s former manager, Gina Rodriguez, who helped engineer the hush-money deal.” https://on.wsj.com/2JddzuE
-- AT DOJ: “The Split-Screen Existence of Jeff Sessions and Rod Rosenstein,” by WSJ’s Sadie Gurman: “The two men talk often about the department’s other affairs, including at their daily 8:20 a.m. meeting, according to people familiar with the meetings. If Russia comes up in casual conversation during a staff meeting, they said, Mr. Rosenstein doesn’t divulge investigative details. They share a gallows sense of humor, and, though they didn’t know each other well before their appointments, they have developed a bond under the pressure of scrutiny from Mr. Trump and his congressional allies, people who know both men say.
“Mr. Sessions’ staffers gave him a bulletproof vest to mark the anniversary of his first year in office, reflecting the attacks he has faced. Once, after Mr. Rosenstein returned from a meeting at the White House, Mr. Sessions joked to those around him that he was glad to still have a deputy, according to people familiar with the exchange.” https://on.wsj.com/2skjQu4
AND THEN THERE WAS THIS -- “Rudy Giuliani gets booed when Yankees announce it's his birthday at Yankee Stadium” – N.Y. Daily News: “The former New York City mayor was at The Stadium to celebrate his 74th birthday on Memorial Day, with the PA announcer sharing the news with the crowd and wishing him a happy birthday. The fans, however, greeted him with hearty boos.” https://nydn.us/2sn29tE
A QUICK 180 ... “Garrett to quit Congress amid servant scandal, alcoholism,” by Alex Isenstadt: “Rep. Tom Garrett (R-Va.) said Monday that he has a drinking problem and will not seek reelection in November — a decision that came amid mounting scrutiny into his handling of his congressional office.
“The 46-year-old Garrett was the subject of a POLITICO report on Friday alleging that the congressman and his wife, Flanna, had used official staff to run errands and take care of their dog. In his Monday statement, he called the allegations ‘a series of half-truths and whole lies.’
“‘The recent attacks on my family are a series of half-truths and whole lies,’ he said, seeming to hold back tears. ‘But there’s one area where I haven’t been honest: The tragedy is that any person Republican, Democrat or independent who’s known me for period of time and has any integrity knows two things: I am a good man and I am an alcoholic.’” https://politi.co/2ITrJll … The original POLITICO story https://politi.co/2L3zGRz
THE JUICE …
-- ISAAC DOVERE talks with TOM STEYER in the latest “Off Message” podcast. “Steyer: Pelosi Is ‘Normalizing’ Trump By Not Talking Impeachment”: “Tom Steyer says the Democrats telling him to call off his impeachment crusade are like those who told civil rights activists to be patient, and says Nancy Pelosi and others holding back on calling for impeachment are ‘normalizing’ Donald Trump’s presidency.” https://politi.co/2L4CH42
-- FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Former Sens. Rick Santorum and Chris Dodd, former SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet and former Rep. Mary Bono are co-chairing a new task force for the Bipartisan Policy Center on paid family leave. Their mission: find a bipartisan solution to increase access to paid family leave 25 years after the Paid Family Leave Act passed Congress.
YOU’RE INVITED -- HOUSE MAJORITY WHIP STEVE SCALISE (R-La.) will sit down with us for his first live D.C. event since the shooting JUNE 12 at the D.C. Bar headquarters (901 4th Street NW). The conversation comes almost one year to the day after the baseball-practice shooting. Scalise, of course, is the No. 3 House Republican, and has an inside view of governing during these fascinating times. RSVP http://bit.ly/playbookscalise
TRUMP’S TUESDAY -- The president will have lunch with VP Mike Pence and HUD Secretary Ben Carson. He is meeting with HHS Secretary Alex Azar and NIH Director Francis Collins. Later in the afternoon, Trump will fly to the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville to participate in a roundtable and dinner with supporters. He will also host a “Make America Great Again” rally at the National Municipal Auditorium before returning to Washington.
SITUATION WORSENING IN ISRAEL … NYT’S ISABEL KERSHNER in Jerusalem: “Gaza Militants Fire Barrage of Mortars Into Israel”: “Gaza militants fired at least 27 mortar shells into southern Israel on Tuesday morning, setting off sirens, activating Israel’s air defenses and sharply raising the stakes after weeks of deadly protests, arson attacks and clashes along the border.
“Israel’s Iron Dome antimissile system intercepted most of the projectiles, according to the military, and there were no casualties, but this was the heaviest barrage fired out of the Palestinian coastal territory since the 50-day war in the summer of 2014. Israel has responded to events along the border in recent weeks with airstrikes against military targets in Gaza.” https://nyti.ms/2xjnDxv
WHAT BANNON AND CAMBRIDGE WERE UP TO … “Inside the Pro-Trump Effort to Keep Black Voters From the Polls,” by Bloomberg’s Lauren Etter and Michael Riley: “Bannon’s deployment of the psychological-operations firm Cambridge Analytica in the 2016 campaign drew fresh attention this month, when a former Cambridge employee told a U.S. Senate panel that Bannon tried to use the company to suppress the black vote in key states. [Bruce] Carter’s story shows for the first time how an employee at Bannon’s former news site worked as an off-the-books political operative in the service of a similar goal.
“Carter’s recollections and correspondence, which he shared after a falling-out with his fellow Trump supporters, provide a rare look inside the no-holds-barred nature of the Republican’s campaign and how it explored new ways to achieve an age-old political aim: getting the right voters to the polls—and keeping the wrong ones away. ‘If you can’t stomach Trump, just don’t vote for the other people and don’t vote at all,’ Carter, 47, recalls telling black voters. It’s the message he says the Trump campaign wanted him to deliver. ‘That’s what they wanted, that’s what they got.’ ...
“The Trump campaign and the White House didn’t respond to repeated requests for comment. Bannon dismissed allegations that he sought to suppress the black vote, blaming their lower turnout on Clinton. ‘When you ask them why they didn’t vote for her or why they didn’t turn up, it’s because they didn’t like her policies,’ he told Bloomberg in an interview last week. Bannon didn’t respond to separate requests to explain his involvement with Carter.” https://bloom.bg/2xmb849
SURREAL ESTATE … “Richard M. Nixon’s Western White House is back up for sale at $63.5 million,” by LA Times’ Lauren Beale: “Dubbed La Casa Pacifica by the 37th U.S. president, the walled estate sits in a gated enclave on an isolated bluff that overlooks the ocean and a popular surfing spot. Panoramic views can extend 60 miles to San Clemente Island.
“The 5.45-acre property has 450 feet of beach front. In addition to the Spanish Colonial Revival-style main residence, there’s a two-bedroom guesthouse, multiple staff residences and offices, a greenhouse, a swimming pool, a tennis court, formal gardens and large expanses of lawn. The 9,000-square-foot main house, built in 1926, features tile and hardwood flooring, arched doorways and groin-vaulted ceilings.” https://lat.ms/2ISXwPm
REMEMBERING BOB FUSS – CBS News: “Robert J. ‘Bob’ Fuss, a veteran radio journalist, died Sunday at his Falls Church, Virginia, home. He was 64. The cause was a rare form of leukemia, his close friend Peter Maer said. Fuss served as a CBS News congressional correspondent from 1998 until his retirement in 2014. ... Prior to joining CBS News, Fuss covered Congress for Mutual and NBC Radio for seven years.” https://cbsn.ws/2kuoL8a
TRANSITION – TREASURY ARRIVAL LOUNGE: Jennifer Debes Bang is starting on Tuesday at Treasury as a deputy assistant secretary in legislative affairs. She previously was principal at Capitol Counsel.
WEEKEND WEDDINGS -- Brent Scher, a staff writer for the Washington Free Beacon, on Sunday married Cassie Williams, communications associate at Nahigian Strategies and an RNC alum, in Charlottesville. They met on a brunch Tinder date five years ago. Pics http://bit.ly/2ky8sam ... http://bit.ly/2kw2V4b
SPOTTED: Best man Todd Scher, Katie Fetsch, Elizabeth Harrington, Matt Continetti, Bill McMorris, Fred Brown and Rebecca Schieber, James Hewitt, Cara Read, Taylor Mason, Natalie Strom and Michael Short, Ali Pardo, Natalie Johnson and Adam Kredo.
-- Stephanie Beasley, a transportation security reporter for POLITICO Pro, married Emanuel Cavallaro, a contributing editor for Naval Aviation News, on Saturday in Dayton, Ohio. The ceremony was held at the Yellow Cab Tavern -- a renovated, former Yellow Cab Company building. Pics http://bit.ly/2IXeXT2 … http://bit.ly/2kyiHM5
WELCOME TO THE WORLD – Alyssa Rosenberg, culture columnist for the Washington Post’s Opinions section, and Matt Gertz, senior fellow at Media Matters for America, on Friday night welcomed a baby daughter. “Mom and baby are both doing well, and everyone’s glad to be home and re-learning how to sleep.” Pic http://bit.ly/2GYnLBS
ENGAGED -- Christine Brennan, communications director for Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), got engaged to Brendan Hennessey, associate at the Pillsbury law firm. They met while working for Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) on the Hill. Pic http://bit.ly/2IZyWwk
BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Matthew Dowd, chief political analyst at ABC News. A fun fact about him: “I grew up in Detroit one of 11 kids in Irish Catholic family and first job was delivering Detroit News.” Read his Playbook Plus Q&A: https://politi.co/2smGr9b
BIRTHDAYS: Uber’s Jill Hazelbaker (hat tip: Tucker Bounds) ... Sandy DeFrees … Pete Seat, executive director of strategic comms and talent development at the Indiana Republican Party, is 35 ... D.C. Examiner managing editor Philip Klein … Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) is 62 ... Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) is 63 ... Kara Genderson … FP1 Strategies’ Jon Conradi is 29 ... Susan Osnos (h/t son Evan) ... Jacob Kornbluh, Jewish Insider’s NYC-based reporter ... Freakonomics’ Steven Levitt is 51 ... Todd Flournoy (h/t Kelley McCormick) ... Bri Gillis ... Sam Ford … Dayna Geldwert ... Kimberly Rawson ... Yale Scott ... Dan Froomkin ... Eugene Gelfgat (h/t Hayley Andrews) ...
... Lee Satterfield, EVP and COO at Meridian International Center ... Annette Guarisco Fildes, president and CEO of the ERISA Industry Committee (h/t Kelly Broadway) … Chris Johnson … Tom Giusto … Andrew Laskar, finance director at End Citizens United (h/ts Bridgette Harrison and Christine Fujiki) … Danny Maiello ... Kathy Lash (h/t Jon Haber) … Edelman’s Alex Buffer and Chris Broomall ... Mary Ryan Douglass ... Danny Crouch … Dave Yonkman is 32 … Terence Samuel, deputy managing editor at NPR … Alexander Berger ... former Time Inc. CEO Ann Moore ... Brian McClung ... Charlie Gerow ... Aleen Sirgany ... Tulin Daloglu ... Ellen Kurz ... Mary Anne Schmitt (h/ts Teresa Vilmain)