PLAYBOOK SCOOP … PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP played golf Sunday with Fox News anchor Bret Baier, Australian Ambassador to the U.S. Joe Hockey and OMB Director Mick Mulvaney at Trump National in Virginia. The original foursome was scheduled to include Chris Liddell, but he dropped out due to work. The White House called Mulvaney and told him that Trump was on his way to play. The foursome played nine holes in the wind and rain. Baier lobbied Trump to sit down with him for his show, “Special Report.” It’s been 535 days since Baier interviewed candidate Trump.
PREVIEW: HOUSE REPUBLICANS have a political meeting today at the Capitol Hill Club. SPEAKER PAUL RYAN is expecting to talk about his fundraising — Ryan’s retirement and political activities will be a main focus of the meeting. NRCC CHAIRMAN STEVE STIVERS will talk about the need to keep pushing tax reform, and will emphasize that every candidate needs to step up their game during this election season.
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— PLAYBOOK SCOOP: THE DCCC teamed up with comedy writer Ben Wexler, who has written for “Funny or Die” and “Arrested Development,” for a new digital ad “Diamond Teeth.” It pokes fun at the Republican tax plan. The 52-second spot https://bit.ly/2JQ6td6
— ATTN NRCC: THE CONGRESSIONAL LEADERSHIP FUND announced $38 million in TV reservations, and $10 million in digital buys for the 2018 election. Top 10 TV reservations: Minnesota’s open eighth district ($2.6 million), Texas Rep. John Culberson ($2.45 million), California Rep. Jeff Denham ($2.35 million), Minnesota Rep. Erik Paulsen ($2.3 million), Colorado Rep. Mike Coffman ($2.3 million), California Rep. Mimi Walters ($2.3 million), Michigan Rep. Mike Bishop ($2.2 million), California Rep. Steve Knight ($2.1 million), Texas Rep. Will Hurd ($2.1 million), and Washington’s open eighth district ($2.1 million). Full list of digital and TV buys https://politi.co/2H9g6Sb
… OF COURSE — THE NRCC will look at CLF’s buy closely and determine the outside group’s strategy. The NRCC and CLF are not permitted to talk about spending.
WAPO’s MIKE DEBONIS provides some context that might be useful for the NRCC: “In five of them — held by GOP Reps. Don Bacon (Neb.), Garland ‘Andy’ Barr (Ky.), Steve Knight (Calif.), Claudia Tenney (N.Y.) and Mimi Walters (Calif.) — the reservations are extensive enough to keep CLF on air from Labor Day, the unofficial start of campaign season, all the way through Election Day on Nov. 6.” https://wapo.st/2H6DwvC
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Good Tuesday morning, and happy tax day. Republicans are going to remind you — on repeat — that this is the last time filing taxes under the old tax code.
SIREN — BIG FIGHT BREWING ON THE LEFT — “Crowley prepares to pounce if Pelosi falls short,” by Heather Caygle and John Bresnahan: “Rep. Joe Crowley — buoyed by a caucus thirsty for change and his rising national profile — is angling to become the next House Democratic leader if Nancy Pelosi and other top Democrats fall short.
“Whether Democrats win the House majority or not, the affable Queens party boss and current Democratic Caucus chairman would have to first go through the party’s long-time septuagenarian leaders — Pelosi, Steny Hoyer and Jim Clyburn — who’ve shown no hurry to head for the exits. In fact, the three have already started sending strong signals that if Democrats take the House they’re prepared to beat back a younger generation clamoring for new leaders.
“But in interviews with nearly 30 Democratic lawmakers and aides, almost all said it’s no secret that Crowley — a 6-foot-5, lifelong New Yorker who towers over many of his colleagues and can often be heard walking through the Capitol singing a tune in his trademark Queens accent — is doing everything possible to position himself for if and when there’s a shakeup at the top.” https://politi.co/2H4TRgi
— TELLING QUOTE (and something we’ve been hearing rumblings about since Ryan announced his departure): “‘I think Pelosi and Hoyer ought to take the message from [Paul] Ryan’s retirement and realize it’s time for this caucus to move on. And I think Crowley fits the bill to be our next leader,’ said Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Texas), an outspoken critic of current leadership.”
NEXT UP — “GOP to push forward on Pompeo confirmation as secretary of state,” by Elana Schor and Burgess Everett: “Senate Republican leaders are pressing ahead with plans for a floor vote on CIA Director Mike Pompeo’s nomination as secretary of state as soon as next week, despite the prospect of his getting an unfavorable recommendation in committee.
“After a confirmation hearing marked by contentious exchanges with Democrats on the Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) — one of 15 members of the minority who backed Pompeo to lead the CIA — became the fifth Democrat on the panel to announce he would vote no. Coupled with opposition from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), unified resistance to Pompeo from the committee’s 10 Democrats would deal him an unfavorable recommendation, but top Republicans are still vowing to ensure his confirmation.
“‘He’s got the votes once he gets to the floor,’ Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the No. 3 GOP leader, told reporters. ‘So I think it’s just a question of, you know, them having to report him out.’” https://politi.co/2JR7ilT
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THE INVESTIGATIONS …
— WAPO’S PHILIP BUMP and DEVLIN BARRETT: “Federal judge weighs special master to review seized Trump-Cohen records”: “A federal judge signaled Monday that she is unlikely to grant President Trump’s request to let him unilaterally determine what material seized last week from his personal lawyer is privileged, but she indicated that she may appoint an outside attorney to assess the records in an effort to carefully navigate the high-stakes case. …
“Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas McKay urged the judge to reject the requests from the president and Cohen. ‘Just because he has a powerful client doesn’t mean he should get special treatment,’ said McKay, who warned that if the judge gives them an inch, ‘they’re going to take a mile.’ Trump attorney Joanna Hendon told the judge that the president ‘is objecting to anyone other than himself making the initial determination of privilege,’ urging caution over haste.” https://wapo.st/2Hr1v8h
WSJ’S ERICA ORDEN and NICOLE HONG: “Sean Hannity Was a Client of Trump Lawyer Michael Cohen”: “In a text message Monday, Mr. Hannity said he and Mr. Cohen ‘have been friends a long time.’ In a separate statement Monday, Mr. Hannity said Mr. Cohen ‘has never represented me in any matter. I never retained him, received an invoice, or paid legal fees.’ While the two have had ‘brief discussions’ about legal matters, he said, those talks ‘never involved any matter between me and a third-party.’
“Speaking on his radio show Monday, Mr. Hannity said he hadn’t paid Mr. Cohen legal fees but that ‘I might have handed him 10 bucks’ and asked for attorney-privilege on certain issues.” https://on.wsj.com/2ET8Ace
— @seanhannity: “Michael Cohen has never represented me in any matter. I never retained him, received an invoice, or paid legal fees. I have occasionally had brief discussions with him about legal questions about which I wanted his input and perspective.”
DARREN SAMUELSOHN: “Cohen crisis shows short-handed Trump legal team’s scramble”: “When President Donald Trump’s newest lawyer appeared in a Manhattan federal court on Friday, she had an apologetic message for the judge: I’m new around here. ‘Now, I should say my firm was engaged Wednesday evening, April 11,’ the president’s attorney, Joanna Hendon, told the presiding judge. ‘That’s a day and a half ago.’
“The sudden enlistment of Hendon, a former federal prosecutor from New York, underscores Trump’s scramble to manage an expanding array of legal crisis with a bare-bones legal team that has lacked a quarterback for nearly a month.
“That could change soon: Multiple attorneys have offered to help with the president’s defense in the wake of last week’s FBI raid of longtime Trump personal lawyer Michael Cohen, sources familiar with the matter say, and new lawyers could assume senior positions on his team as soon as this week. That would likely include one or more replacements for John Dowd, who resigned in March as the president’s top outside attorney.” https://politi.co/2J1ue0l
AROUND THE HORN WITH COMEY …
— Interview with NPR’S STEVE INSKEEP and CARRIE JOHNSON. They asked Comey about why he described the president’s appearance and the length of his tie. “I’m not making fun of the president, I’m trying to be an author, which I’ve never been before in my life. While I’m typing I can hear my editor’s voice ringing in my head, ‘bring the reader with you, show them inside your head.’ And by the way, not that this matters, but I found his hands to be above average in size. I’m not making fun of the man, I’m trying to tell the reader what’s in my head.” https://n.pr/2HE86K5
— NYT INTERVIEW: “James B. Comey: By the Book” https://nyti.ms/2J4fH4h
— “James Comey’s Attacks on Trump May Hurt a Carefully Cultivated Image,” by NYT’s Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Jonathan Martin: “For decades, James B. Comey cultivated an image of purity as a lawman who stood above politics and politicians. Then came the book tour. … Mr. Comey’s description of the president as an unethical liar ‘morally unfit’ for office; his call for voters to decide Mr. Trump’s fate at the ballot box in 2020; and even his observations about Mr. Trump’s appearance — his ‘orange’ skin, his too-long ties, his hands — are stark departures from the law-enforcement mission of his old agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
“The personal potshots in particular have surprised some former colleagues who thought of Mr. Comey as relatively sober and serious. Observers on both the left and right — including many who count themselves as fierce critics of Mr. Trump’s — say that in embarking on his star turn, Mr. Comey may be undercutting his own indictment of the president’s character and conduct.” https://nyti.ms/2H4llqk
FOR YOUR RADAR — “U.S. Seeks Arab Force and Funding for Syria,” by WSJ’s Michael R. Gordon: “The Trump administration is seeking to assemble an Arab force to replace the U.S. military contingent in Syria and help stabilize the northeastern part of the country after the defeat of Islamic State, U.S. officials said. John Bolton, President Donald Trump’s new national security adviser, recently called Abbas Kamel, Egypt’s acting intelligence chief, to see if Cairo would contribute to the effort, officials said. The initiative comes as the administration has asked Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to contribute billions of dollars to help restore northern Syria. It wants Arab nations to send troops as well.” https://on.wsj.com/2JT59pF
ABOUT THOSE SANCTIONS — “Trump puts the brakes on new Russian sanctions, reversing Haley’s announcement,” by WaPo’s Phil Rucker, Carol D. Leonnig, Anton Troianovski and Greg Jaffe: “President Trump on Monday put the brakes on a preliminary plan to impose additional economic sanctions on Russia, walking back a Sunday announcement by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley that the Kremlin had swiftly denounced as ‘international economic raiding.’ Preparations to punish Russia anew for its support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government over an alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria caused consternation at the White House. …
“But Trump conferred with his national security advisers later Sunday and told them he was upset the sanctions were being officially rolled out because he was not yet comfortable executing them, according to several people familiar with the plan. Administration officials said the economic sanctions were under serious consideration, along with other measures that could be taken against Russia, but said Trump had not given final authorization to implement them. Administration officials said Monday it was unlikely Trump would approve any additional sanctions without another triggering event by Russia, describing the strategy as being in a holding pattern.” https://wapo.st/2ETFLML
GARCETTI’S STORY … L.A. TIMES’ DAKOTA SMITH and EMILY ALPERT REYES: “Mayor Eric Garcetti, fresh off a trip to Iowa to test the waters for a presidential run, delivered a State of the City address Monday that billed Los Angeles as a thriving, progressive metropolis that has hiked the minimum wage, snagged the Olympics, invested in its subway system and is tackling big issues such as climate change and gun violence.
“‘I want to say to anyone who wants to understand who Americans are: Don’t look to D.C. — come to L.A.,’ Garcetti said, heralding ‘an era of growth and of change in L.A.’” https://lat.ms/2qDtx5X
THE RNC dropped $281,250 in late March to get out the vote for Debbie Lesko, the Republican candidate for the special election in Arizona’s 8th congressional district, according to a recently filed FEC report. This is a district Trump won by 21 points.
MCCAIN UPDATE — ARIZONA REPUBLIC: “Sen. John McCain undergoes surgery at Mayo Clinic; condition called stable,” by Dan Nowicki, Ronald J. Hansen, Yvonne Wingett Sanchez and Ken Alltucker: “Sen. John McCain is in stable condition after undergoing surgery for an intestinal infection related to diverticulitis, his family and Senate office said Monday. McCain, 81, who is battling a deadly form of brain cancer, has been in Arizona since Dec. 17. …
“Doctors not involved in McCain’s care said that such complications are common in people undergoing brain-cancer treatments. … Diverticulitis is an intestinal condition in which pouches form to obstruct the colon wall. It can bring on pain and nausea and, in severe cases, requires surgery, according to information from the Mayo Clinic’s website.” http://bit.ly/2JPnlk6
INCHING TOWARD THE 21ST CENTURY — “Senate poised to allow Duckworth’s newborn on the floor,” by Jen Haberkorn: “The hidebound U.S. Senate is expected to change its rules soon for a member who just made history as a new mom. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, who this month became the first sitting senator to give a birth while in office, has submitted a resolution that would allow senators to bring a child under 1 year old onto the Senate floor during votes.
“Senate leaders appear poised to approve the request, according to Senate sources. The Illinois Democrat has been on a campaign to change the chamber’s rules, which prohibit children from the floor, arguing that the archaic ban doesn’t support working parents and would make it difficult for her to vote. The Senate sometimes stacks several votes in a row or gets sidelined by delays, requiring lawmakers to be on the floor for an extended period of time.” https://politi.co/2qBrPTs
FULL LIST OF PULITZER WINNERS http://bit.ly/2HHhsF9
THE JUICE …
— SCOOPLET: SENS. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-N.Y.) and CORY BOOKER (D-N.J.) will be the featured speakers June 6 at Run for Something’s first annual “Party for Something” gala. The group, which focuses on recruiting young, diverse progressives to run for local offices, has recruited 18,000 people to run since launching last year. Their goal: 50,000 by the midterm elections.
— @gdebenedetti: “Donald Trump Jr back on the money circuit … for Greg (Mike’s brother) Pence >”. The invite http://bit.ly/2HGNfFU
TRUMP’S SCHEDULE — The president will hold a bilateral meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the afternoon at Mar-a-Lago. He and first lady Melania Trump will have dinner with Abe and his wife.
2018 WATCH — ALEX ISENSTADT: “GOP Senate candidate compares McConnell to the Russians”: “A brewing fight between West Virginia GOP Senate candidate Don Blankenship and national Republicans spilled into the open Monday when the coal baron compared Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell to Russians interfering in his state’s election.
“‘McConnell should not be in the U.S. Senate, let alone be the Republican Majority Leader. He is a Swamp captain,’ Blankenship said in a statement Monday. ‘The Russians and McConnell should both stop interfering with elections outside their jurisdictions.’ ‘West Virginians are aware that McConnell cannot vote in their election,’ Blankenship adds. ‘They want him to mind his own business and do his job. A job he has not done now for over 30 years. Balance the budget Mitch and stay out of West Virginia.’” https://politi.co/2H4Bp7C
PRUITT FILES — “Watchdog reports provide new ammo for Pruitt’s critics,” by Alex Guillén and Anthony Adragna: “Critics of Scott Pruitt got fresh ammunition against the embattled EPA administrator on Monday, with two federal reports revealing that EPA had broken the law in building him a secure phone booth and that the agency had granted previously undisclosed pay raises of more than 20 percent to his political appointees.
“EPA failed to notify lawmakers that it spent more than $43,000 to build a secure phone booth for Pruitt’s office, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office on Monday morning. A few hours later, EPA’s inspector general detailed the steep pay hikes — but did offer some support for Pruitt’s claim that he had been unaware of controversial raises at the agency, though the internal watchdog stressed its investigation is ongoing.” https://politi.co/2J3puHx
THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION — “Ryan Zinke Is Opening Up Public Lands. Just Not at Home,” by NYT’s Julie Turkewitz in Whitefish, Mont.: “When Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke was a state senator from this idyllic mountain town, he drove a Prius, sported a beard and pushed President Barack Obama to make clean energy a priority. Today, the beard and Prius are gone, and Mr. Zinke has emerged as a leading figure, along with Scott Pruitt of the [EPA], in the environmental rollbacks that have endeared President Trump to the fossil fuel industry and outraged conservationists. …
“But here in Montana, where support for drilling in certain beloved areas can be a career killer, Mr. Zinke has struck a different note. … In the past year, Mr. Zinke has halted the sale of oil and gas leases near Yellowstone National Park, opposed gold mining in that area, and urged the president to protect one national monument, Montana’s Upper Missouri River Breaks, while creating another, the Badger-Two Medicine, just miles from his childhood home.” https://nyti.ms/2qDHuB2
— K-FILE — “Zinke invited birthers, questioned Obama’s college records on his radio show in 2013,” by CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski: “Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke invited a self-professed birther on his radio show in 2013 and raised questions about then-President Barack Obama’s college records. Before serving in President Donald Trump’s Cabinet and as a US congressman, Zinke interviewed fellow former Navy SEAL and political activist Larry Bailey on ‘Commander Z,’ Zinke’s Montana radio show that aired on the Military Appreciation Channel. Bailey, a co-founder of the anti-Obama group Special Operations Speaks, described himself in 2012 as a birther and said, falsely, that Obama wasn’t born in the United States. The interview with Bailey and two other radio appearances reviewed by CNN’s KFile show Zinke engaging with and promoting fringe, conspiratorial views.’” https://cnn.it/2Hvgez4
WASHINGTON, INC. – SCOOP — per Politico Influence: “A billing dispute between the law firm Lewis Baach Kaufmann Middlemiss and Sphere Consulting, a public affairs firm, has spilled into court, POLITICO’s Daniel Lippman reports. Lewis Baach, in a civil complaint filed in late March in the District’s Superior Court, alleges that Sphere — founded by Jim Courtovich— owes the firm roughly $573,000 in unpaid legal bills. … The firms fired counter-proposals back and forth last week but haven’t reached a final agreement.” https://politi.co/2qEK9dp
SPOTTED: Sean Duffy in jeans and a sweatshirt with AirPods getting off of a Delta flight from Atlanta to DCA.
TRANSITIONS — Shawn Bennett, former EVP for the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, has been named deputy assistant secretary for oil and gas at the Energy Department’s office of fossil energy.
— TRUMP ALUMNUS: RICK DEARBORN is joining the Cypress Group’s leadership team. He most recently was deputy chief of staff at the White House and was chief of staff for Jeff Sessions in the Senate.
BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Julie Hirschfeld Davis, NYT White House reporter and CNN political analyst. A fun fact about Julie: “I appeared on an episode of the Captain Kangaroo show once as a child, and was featured in the opening credits for a couple of seasons. Also, Mr. Moose and Bunny Rabbit spent several years in my parents’ closet when I was a kid. (My dad was the producer and director, so like many kids of the generation before mine, Captain Kangaroo was a big part of my childhood.) In case you were wondering, Mr. Greenjeans was the nicest.” Read her Playbook Plus Q&A: https://politi.co/2Hqivvr
BIRTHDAYS: Jim Acosta, CNN’s chief White House correspondent … Ieva Augstums, deputy VP for strategic planning, operations and public affairs at PhRMA … Angelo Roefaro is 34 … Ben Butterfield … Erika Soto Lamb, national director of strategic communications at Democrats for Education Reform … Annie Hughes … Rep. George Holding (R-N.C.) is 5-0 (hat tip: Doug Heye) … Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.) is 57 … Tom Giovanetti … Alex Kellner, senior director at Bully Pulpit Interactive (h/t Rob Flaherty) … Jackie Whisman, VP at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (h/t the ITIF team) … Dean Lieberman, comms director for Rufus Gifford for Congress … Emily Cooper … Chris Durlak, managing director at Purple Strategies … David Lindsey, executive editor of news and features at NatGeo … Will Leaverton … Greg Lemon, founder of Sagamore Strategies … Alex Schaffer (h/t wife Nicole Berns) … Tom Hunt … Valentina Cano … Julie Almacy, manager of Mount Vernon’s Leadership Fellows program and a Porter Goss alum … Miri Belsky … Andrea Catsimatidis … Jennifer Laptook LaTourette … Lara Robillard …
… Matt Kravitz … NYU political scientist and Monkey Cage editor Joshua Tucker … Shelly Banjo of Bloomberg News … Adekunle Ogunfolu … Ellen Dargie … Atul Shembekar … Valentina Cano … Uber’s Susan Effler … writer Melanie Griffin … John Spencer Rodgers … Matt Aks, MBA student at Harvard … Michael Myers, managing director at the Rockefeller Foundation … Ed Gilroy … Sean Dalton, executive officer of the NTSB … Trait Thompson … Edelman’s Gregory St. Claire … John Collins … Rachel Pryor … Clay Hanna is 4-0 … Chris Gilbert … Sandra Fluke is 37 … Brian Temple Smith is 39 … John Cahill … Micah Kleit … Benjamin Runkle is 46 … Gabrielle Porter … Robert Bateman is 51 … legal affairs journalist Ken Jost … Jessica Ehrlich … Robin Canter … Monica Fischer … Eric Sayers, VP at Beacon Global Strategies … Rooney Mara — cousin of Rep. Tom Rooney — is 33 (h/t AP)
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