Playbook: Four things to watch as Washington begins the summer

- Juni 04, 2018


-- IMMIGRATION BLOW UP: A petition to force a wide-ranging immigration debate on the House floor stands at 213 -- five short of the requisite 218. House Republican leaders have been working feverishly behind the scenes to strike a compromise that would avoid the free-flowing debate, and instead give Republicans a series of circumscribed votes this month. The GOP has scheduled a two-hour policy meeting Thursday to discuss immigration. No matter what happens, these next four weeks will be dominated, in part, by the immigration debate that Congress has been yearning for for the last six years. This could be a defining moment for the GOP, and there is lots of skepticism that this will go smoothly. Read Rachael Bade on the state of play

-- TRUMP’S TRADE WAR: The president’s decision to target key allies like Canada and Mexico has enraged Republicans. Up until now, Hill Republicans have taken the position that the president has the ability to alter trade policy without Congress’s say. Look for Republicans to weigh in -- and weigh their options -- when it comes to a tariff policy with which they vehemently disagree.

-- SPENDING FIGHTS: Government funding runs out Sept. 30, and Congress has vowed to spend a bunch of time this summer passing appropriations bills. The House is in the driver's seat, and will lead the process. President Donald Trump is going to push, vehemently, for more funding for his border wall, and that might complicate the process. In the coming weeks, you’ll hear conservatives push for immediate consideration of a funding bill that avoids the September shut down. On another note, the budget-cutting recessions bill is still stalled in the House, as leaders have had a hard time convincing enough Republicans that spending cuts are a good idea at the moment. OMB is tweaking the request in order to get more votes.

-- REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP DRAMA: Over the recess, The Atlantic’s Elaina Plott published a profile of Steve Scalise, which included this gem: Scalise said “he’s working at it” when Plott asked if Kevin McCarthy had 218 votes to become speaker. (Story: Members and aides might publicly say that there’s no beef and things are totally cool in the leadership. That’s not true. Paul Ryan has a few more months in power, and almost everything is viewed at the moment as jockeying between Scalise and McCarthy for the top slot.

Good Monday morning. ABC’S MERIDITH MCGRAW (@meridithmcgraw): “NEW: First Lady Melania Trump will not attend the G7 or Singapore summit with President Trump, @FLOTUS Communications Director Stephanie Grisham tells me.”

ONE WAY TO LOOK AT THINGS … HUFF PO’S S.V. DATE: “Giuliani: Trump Could Have Shot Comey And Still Couldn’t Be Indicted For It”: “Candidate Donald Trump bragged that he could shoot someone on New York’s Fifth Avenue and not lose any support, and now President Donald Trump’s lawyer says Trump could shoot the FBI director in the Oval Office and still not be prosecuted for it. ‘In no case can he be subpoenaed or indicted,’ Rudy Giuliani told HuffPost Sunday, claiming a president’s constitutional powers are that broad.

“‘I don’t know how you can indict while he’s in office. No matter what it is.’ Giuliani said impeachment was the initial remedy for a president’s illegal behavior -- even in the extreme hypothetical case of Trump having shot former FBI Director James Comey to end the Russia investigation rather than just firing him. ‘If he shot James Comey, he’d be impeached the next day,’ Giuliani said. ‘Impeach him, and then you can do whatever you want to do to him.’”

AXIOS’ JONATHAN SWAN … “Michael Cohen’s secret dream”: “On election night 2016, shortly after Donald Trump’s team realized he would win the presidency, Michael Cohen told a handful of people on the 14th floor of Trump Tower about his own dreams for the future -- to be mayor of New York.

“‘This is the beginning of a dynasty,’ Cohen told the group, according to a source who heard him. Surprised by the remark, one of the people asked Trump’s longtime personal attorney that if by ‘dynasty’ he meant Ivanka or Don Junior was going to get the political bug next. Cohen replied: ‘I’ve already got the bug.’ Cohen then added: ‘Nobody’s going to be able to fuck with us. I think I’m going to run for mayor.’ Later that night, around 3:30 a.m., the Trump team was leaving its victory party at the Hilton Hotel on Manhattan’s 6th Avenue.

“In the hotel, escalators took the crowd from the party down to the lobby. A member of Trump's entourage saw Cohen near the bottom of the escalator and yelled out: ‘Cohen for mayor!’ Cohen appeared to have no idea who said it, but looked over his shoulder and pumped his fist in the air. ...

“I asked Cohen today about his mayoral plans. He told me: ‘Despite many friends suggesting that I run for mayor... I obviously chose not to. Additionally, I believe that Mayor de Blasio is doing a fine job for our city.’”

CUE THE CONGRESSIONAL INVESTIGATION -- “Facebook Gave Device Makers Deep Access to Data on Users and Friends,” by NYT’s Gabriel J.X. Dance, Nick Confessore and Michael LaForgia: “As Facebook sought to become the world’s dominant social media service, it struck agreements allowing phone and other device makers access to vast amounts of its users’ personal information.

“Facebook has reached data-sharing partnerships with at least 60 device makers — including Apple, Amazon, BlackBerry, Microsoft and Samsung — over the last decade, starting before Facebook apps were widely available on smartphones, company officials said. The deals, most of which remain in effect, allowed Facebook to expand its reach and let device makers offer customers popular features of the social network, such as messaging, “like” buttons and address books.

“But the partnerships, whose scope has not previously been reported, raise concerns about the company’s privacy protections and compliance with a 2011 consent decree with the Federal Trade Commission. Facebook allowed the device companies access to the data of users’ friends without their explicit consent, even after declaring that it would no longer share such information with outsiders. Some device makers could retrieve personal information even from users’ friends who believed they had barred any sharing, The New York Times found.”

FOR YOUR RADAR -- REUTERS: “Iran calls on world to stand up to Trump, save nuclear deal”: “The world should stand up to Washington’s bullying behavior, Iran’s foreign minister was quoted as saying on Sunday by state media in a letter to counterparts, as the top diplomat intensifies efforts to save a nuclear deal after a U.S. exit.”


-- BRYAN BENDER: “The ‘buzzsaw’ experience of negotiating with North Korea”: “Expect lies. Do your homework — because they will have. Choose your words very carefully. And have Job-like patience. Oh, and remember that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un considers himself a supreme being.

“These are some of the tips offered by half a dozen of the select American diplomats who have actually sat face-to-face with North Korea’s mercurial and often maddening regime. They provide some guidance to President Donald Trump and his advisers as they prepare for a June 12 summit with Kim in Singapore aimed at convincing him to surrender his nuclear arsenal.”

-- “Trump’s man with the Singapore plan: Joe Hagin,” by CNN’s Jeremy Diamond and Kevin Liptak: “‘Normally this kind of thing, you would have months to set it up,’ said Josh Bolten, Bush’s former chief of staff who has known Hagin for more than two decades. ‘So it can’t be as smooth as you would like, but Joe’s presence gives me a lot of confidence. … As turbulent as this White House often appears, without Joe Hagin there I think it would be considerably more turbulent.’ That view is one that Hagin appears to share, according to three current and former White House officials who requested anonymity to speak more candidly.

“‘He is known for having an air of he’s going to kind of save the country from the President,’ one White House official said, adding that Hagin has repeatedly demonstrated a disdain for the President’s unconventional style and use of Twitter. Two officials said Hagin has kept sensitive logistical details from Trump -- including during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Mar-a-Lago last year -- for fear that the President might tweet about them and upend the plans.”

-- WAPO’S BRIAN MURPHY and MICHELLE YE HEE LEE in SEOUL: “North Korea replaces three top military leaders, Yonhap news agency reports”: “Three of North Korea’s top military officials have been replaced, a South Korean news agency reported Monday, marking an apparent shake-up in leader Kim Jong Un’s inner circle before next week’s planned summit with President Trump. …

“[I]f confirmed, the moves suggest another step in Kim’s ongoing reorganization in military leadership -- this time bringing in younger military overseers to replace older ranks possibly at odds with his outreach to the United States and its ally South Korea, experts said.
The officials who reportedly were dropped are from some of the highest echelons of the North’s military structure, including Ri Myong Su, the chief of general staff for the Korean People’s Army. Ri was thought to be a confidant of Kim’s father, the late leader Kim Jong Il.”


-- NYT’S ALAN RAPPEPORT: “How Mnuchin Keeps a Steady Grip in a Tug of War on Trade”: “He has so far managed to stay in Mr. Trump’s good graces while advocating a more free-trade approach, but that balancing act is showing signs of strain. Mr. Mnuchin, unflappable in public, is privately making his case with a president who campaigned on blowing up trade agreements and surrounded himself with hard-line advisers who continue to toe that line.

“‘You have an intellectual slugfest going on in the White House,’ said Stephen Moore, the Heritage Foundation economist who advised Mr. Trump’s campaign. ‘Sometimes Mnuchin has victories and sometimes he has failures, but he is clearly one of the strongest voices for the free-trade position.’ ... But when it comes to the president, Mr. Mnuchin puts up little resistance when policy decisions are made, and he even keeps his pet peeves to himself. While Mr. Mnuchin insists that most people refer to him by his given name, Steven, he does not flinch when Mr. Trump just calls him Steve.”

IT’S THE ECONOMY … WSJ’S MICHAEL WURSTHORN, DANIEL KRUGER and BEN EISEN: “Global Economic-Growth Story Fades, Dimming Market Optimism”: “Stock indexes that rode accelerating global growth to fresh records in January are now hamstrung by a moderate but unmistakable slowdown in economic momentum in Europe and elsewhere.

“Business activity globally has slowed from multi-year highs, according to the JPMorgan Chase and IHS Markit global purchasing managers index. The global manufacturing index fell to 53.1 in May, a nine-month low. The services index for April, which will be updated for May on Tuesday, slid to 53.8 from 54.8 two months earlier. And business activity in the eurozone fell to its lowest level in a year and a half last month.

“The Baltic Dry Index, a measure of shipping costs that investors often look to as a proxy for global demand, has fallen 22% from a recent peak last month. Copper prices, another gauge of economic activity, have been on the decline. Among developed economies, data on the whole have been missing economists’ expectations by a wide margin, according to Citigroup’s index on economic surprises, after easily exceeding expectations for most of 2017.”

2018 WATCH -- “End of an era? Tea party class of House Republicans fades,” by AP’s Lisa Mascaro:

-- NYT’S VIVIAN FLAP in Irvine, California: “Democrats Hope an Asian Influx Will Help Turn Orange County Blue”: “Whether Asians are also good for votes is one of the biggest political questions driving this year’s midterm races in Orange County, where Democrats are counting on immigrants to help the party pull off, if not quite a blue wave, then at least an unmistakable purpling. …

“In the 45th Congressional District, whose biggest city is Irvine, three of the four Democratic candidates were born to immigrants, including one of the front-runners, Dave Min, a Korean-American law professor at the University of California, Irvine. Whichever Democrat does best in the June 5 primary will challenge Representative Mimi Walters, the Republican incumbent, in a district that has never elected anyone but Republicans — an area once famous for nurturing the political careers of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan.”

-- What challenge? Feinstein romps ahead in California primary with turns to the left,” by WaPo’s Dave Weigel: “[Dianne] Feinstein has bent the race her way by portraying herself as a reliable liberal in the Senate minority — and by moving further left and co-opting issues key to the state’s Democrats. And as she prepares to turn 85, she has allied herself with the party’s young activists.”

TRUMP’S MONDAY -- Trump is having lunch with VP Mike Pence and Defense Secretary James Mattis. In the afternoon, the president is meeting with Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum. He and first lady Melania Trump will host the Gold Star families for a Memorial Day reception.

-- The Gold Star ceremony is closed press. MELANIA TRUMP hasn’t appeared in public since last month.

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). RSVP


-- REP. JIM RENACCI’s first general election ad brands Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) a “career politician” who is “full of bull.” The buy is roughly $65k in Cleveland, $61k in Columbus, $25k in Dayton, $6,600 in Toledo and $9,300 in Youngstown.

-- HANNAH SMITH is joining Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) as deputy communications director. She previously was communications director for Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.). … Michael Comer is joining House Majority Whip Steve Scalise’s (R-La.) team as digital strategist.

OUR MAN IN BERLIN -- “Trump’s Right Hand Man in Europe [Richard] Grenell Wants To ‘Empower’ European Conservatives,” by Breitbart’s Chris Tomlinson in Berlin: “‘I absolutely want to empower other conservatives throughout Europe, other leaders. I think there is a groundswell of conservative policies that are taking hold because of the failed policies of the left,' he added.”

-- @thomaswright08, senior fellow at Brookings: “Bombshell interview to Breitbart by Ric Grenell, U.S. Ambassador to Germany. He says he will personally intervene in internal politics of Europe to empower anti-establishment conservatives. Directly contradicts State Dept line that Trump admin is neutral”.

VALLEY TALK -- “Facebook Tried to Rein In Fake Ads. It Fell Short in a California Race,” by NYT’s Sheera Frenkel: “Regina Bateson had just finished an Easter egg hunt with her children on April 1 when her phone started buzzing. Take a look at Facebook, messages from her friends and colleagues urged. Ms. Bateson, a Democrat running for Congress in the California primary on Tuesday, quickly opened up the social network. There, she saw what appeared to be a news article that painted her as underhandedly trying to torpedo the campaign of a rival Democratic candidate.

"When Ms. Bateson clicked through the article, she was directed to a Facebook page run by Sierra Nevada Revolution, a local progressive group she had clashed with in the past. The article was not a news story, she found, but a political ad paid for by Sierra Nevada Revolution. And while Facebook rolled out new rules on April 6 mandating that campaign ads be clearly labeled and say who had purchased them, Sierra Nevada Revolution’s ad about Ms. Bateson continued to be targeted to local voters throughout that month without any of those disclosures.”

AP’S TERRY SPENCER in SUNRISE, FLORIDA: “Fallon to Parkland students: ‘Don’t let anything stop you’”: “Graduating seniors at the Florida high school where a gunman killed 17 people in February received diplomas Sunday and heard from surprise commencement speaker Jimmy Fallon, who urged them to move forward and ‘don’t let anything stop you.’

“Four families received diplomas on behalf of loved ones slain in the attack that gave rise to a campaign by teens for gun control. Principal Ty Thompson underscored the honors for the dead students in a tweet. ‘Remember those not with us, and celebrate all the successes the Class of 2018 has brought to the community and the world!’ Thompson tweeted.”

MEDIAWATCH … TOM BOSSERT, former homeland security adviser for President Trump, is now an ABC News contributor. (h/t @MaggieNYT)

WELCOME TO THE WORLD -- Xan Fishman, chief of staff for Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.), and Kate Cassling, a legislative assistant for Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), welcomed Diana Cassling Fishman. Pic

BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Mike Murphy, senior partner at Revolution Agency, analyst for NBC News, president of Bonaparte Films and fellow at JFK School’s Belfer Center. How he got his start in politics: “Georgetown College Republicans. First internship was on the Hill helping R House members put out a short TV show for the new gee-whiz invention of local cable TV back home. We had the ‘Star Wars’ actor from inside the Darth Vader suit (David Prowse) on the show one day, and a distinguished member from the great Midwest thought the laser swords in the movie were real. I decided then and there: plenty of room at the top in politics.” Read his Playbook Plus Q&A:

BIRTHDAYS: Steve Lombardo, chief marketing and comms. officer for Koch Industries (hat tip: Mark Holden) ... Bryan Sanders (h/t Phil Musser) ... Hannah Castillo, associate director of the WH office of public liaison ... May Davis, special assistant to the president and associate WH staff secretary ... Mort Zuckerman is 81 ... Emily Gold, associate producer for “Meet the Press” (h/t Sarah Gadsden) ... Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) is 47 ... Politico’s Traci Schweikert ... Jim Wallis, president and founder of Sojourners, is 7-0 … Talley Sergent ... George Burns … John Arundel, associate publisher of Washington Life magazine (h/t Kevin Chaffee) ... D.C. photographer Daniel Swartz (h/t Kelley McCormick) ... Anders Ericson … Camden Stuebe, chief of staff at IJR (h/t Alex Skatell) ... ProPublica’s Justin Elliott ... Dana Edwards Manatos ...

... Joey Coon, SVP at Niskanen Center ... Gena Wolfson, digital producer for SiriusXM Politics (h/t Danielle Lynn) ... Polly Kreisman ... 0ptimus partner Scott Tranter (h/t Kurt Bardella) ... WaPo’s Colby Itkowitz … Lauren Spurr (h/t Kendall Breitman) ... Jason Attermann, LA and press secretary for Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), is 3-0 … Robert Schulte ... David Bolger, founder of Executive Briefing, is 56 (h/t Chris Lapetina) ... Deb Callahan, executive director at Bay Area Open Space Council (h/t Jon Haber) ... Joel Packer ... Abigail Strayer ... Vinnie Wishrad ... Steve Weinberg is 7-0 ... Amelia Showalter, co-founder and CEO of Pantheon Analytics ... The Raben Group’s Ryan Daniels ... former Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle is 65 ... Lori Ann LaRocco, CNBC’s senior editor of guests, business news … Greg Anrig … Jack Buechner ... Ranya Kadri ... Nathan DeWitt ... Andrew Meehan ... Tracey Lewis (h/t Teresa Vilmain)


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