BREAKING THIS MORNING — AP at 5:06 a.m.: “STOCKHOLM (AP) – Sweden’s top prosecutor drops 7-year rape investigation against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.” … at 5:42 a.m.: “LONDON (AP) – UK police: Assange still wanted for jumping bail, will face arrest if he leaves Ecuadorean embassy in London.” … at 6:22 a.m.: “STOCKHOLM (AP) – Prosecutor: Probe could be reopened if Assange returns to Sweden before statute of limitations ends in 2020.”
Story Continued Below
Good Friday morning. We are beginning to sense a trend with THE WHITE HOUSE: they oftentimes act as if politicians are completely consistent in their views. For example, the president seemed convinced dismissing James Comey would be popular with both parties, just because Democrats criticized him during the campaign. And now, they seem to think, just because Joe Lieberman was a Senate Democrat (at one point), the entire caucus would vote to confirm him as FBI director. (Don’t feel bad, guys. We kind of thought so too.) Lieberman is the leading contender, according to the White House. See Burgess Everett and Seung Min Kim’s story http://politi.co/2qDrHSl
— SENIOR DEMOCRATIC AIDE: STAY WHERE YOU ARE, JOE: “Anyone who thinks Senate Democrats are going to welcome a Lieberman nomination with open arms doesn’t understand Senate Democrats. This is the worst possible time to hand the FBI over to a politician of any stripe, let alone one whose judgment led him to praise the hiring of General Flynn for National Security Adviser. If the White House is spoiling for a fight on this, they’ll get one.”
IF YOU READ ONE THING — GARRETT GRAFF, author of “The Threat Matrix: The FBI at War,” in POLITICO Magazine, “What Donald Trump Needs to Know About Bob Mueller and Jim Comey: The two men who could bring down the president have been preparing their entire lives for this moment”: “What unfolds ahead will be territory all too familiar to both Comey and Mueller—the field of play where they have made their careers and risen to the highest levels of government—yet the way that a Washington scandal takes on a life of its own amid independent investigations and looming prosecutions is deeply unfamiliar to Trump and many associates around him. … It is as if, after having an unrelated disagreement over movie trivia in a bar, Trump has challenged Usain Bolt to a 100-yard dash or John Cena to a cage match to the death.” http://politi.co/2qZ1rVy
NYT, A1 — MIKE SCHMIDT STRIKES AGAIN — “Comey, Unsettled by Trump, Is Said to Have Wanted Him Kept at a Distance”: “President Trump called the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, weeks after he took office and asked him when federal authorities were going to put out word that Mr. Trump was not personally under investigation, according to two people briefed on the call.
“Mr. Comey told the president that if he wanted to know details about the bureau’s investigations, he should not contact him directly but instead follow the proper procedures and have the White House counsel send any inquiries to the Justice Department, according to those people. After explaining to Mr. Trump how communications with the F.B.I. should work, Mr. Comey believed he had effectively drawn the line after a series of encounters he had with the president and other White House officials that he felt jeopardized the F.B.I.’s independence. At the time, Mr. Comey was overseeing the investigation into links between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia. …
“The day after the Flynn conversation, Reince Priebus … asked Mr. Comey to help push back on reports in the news media that Mr. Trump’s associates had been in contact with Russian intelligence officials during the campaign.” http://nyti.ms/2q332o5
— WAPO: “Comey prepared extensively for his conversations with Trump,” by Devlin Barrett, Ellen Nakashima and Adam Entous: “FBI Director James B. Comey prepared extensively for his discussions with President Trump, out of concern that the president was unlikely to respect the legal and ethical boundaries governing their respective roles, according to associates of the now-fired FBI chief.” http://wapo.st/2qDtab4
REMEMBER MIKE PENCE? The vice president is nowhere to be found these days. The separation Pence’s team is putting between the VP and the president in this CNN piece is stunning.
— CNN’S ELIZABETH LANDERS: “After a fast and furious news cycle at the White House this week, the last few days may have worn on Vice President Mike Pence. Though Pence will continue to be a ‘loyal soldier’ because he is a ‘relentlessly positive guy,’ he ‘looks tired,’ a senior administration adviser observed on Thursday, outlining the vice president’s schedule and trying to explain his relative absence from the public eye.
“While an aide to the vice president says he spent the last few days in speech preparation, it conveniently kept him out of the firing line, missing a regular Senate lunch on Capitol Hill on Tuesday while he worked behind closed doors with President Donald Trump at a bilateral meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“The Pence team knew what they were getting themselves into when they joined the Trump ticket and team almost a year ago. ‘We certainly knew we needed to be prepared for the unconventional,’ but, the source adds, ‘not to this extent.’” http://cnn.it/2qy9uqT … AP story with a similar tone http://apne.ws/2ryeVUX
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THE FIRST FOREIGN TRIP …
THE CHARTER with most reporters traveling with Trump left Andrews Air Force Base last night.
— PETER BAKER, who is traveling with the president to Saudi Arabia and Israel: “Tips for Leaders Meeting Trump: Keep It Short and Give Him a Win”: “For foreign leaders trying to figure out the best way to approach an American president unlike any they have known, it is a time of experimentation. Embassies in Washington trade tips and ambassadors send cables to presidents and ministers back home suggesting how to handle a mercurial, strong-willed leader with no real experience on the world stage, a preference for personal diplomacy and a taste for glitz.
“After four months of interactions between Mr. Trump and his counterparts, foreign officials and their Washington consultants say certain rules have emerged: Keep it short — no 30-minute monologue for a 30-second attention span. Do not assume he knows the history of the country or its major points of contention. Compliment him on his Electoral College victory. Contrast him favorably with President Barack Obama. Do not get hung up on whatever was said during the campaign. Stay in regular touch. Do not go in with a shopping list but bring some sort of deal he can call a victory.” http://nyti.ms/2pZWmrF
— AP’S JULIE PACE: “Worldwide effort set to keep Trump happy on 1st trip abroad”: “When President Donald Trump sits down for dinner in Saudi Arabia, caterers have ensured that his favorite meal — steak with a side of ketchup — will be offered alongside the traditional local cuisine. At NATO and the Group of 7 summits, foreign delegations have gotten word that the new U.S. president prefers short presentations and lots of visual aids. And at all of Trump’s five stops on his first overseas trip, his team has spent weeks trying to build daily downtime into his otherwise jam-packed schedule.” http://apne.ws/2q01FaG
— “5 things to watch on Trump’s foreign trip,” by Michael Crowley: “1. Will he say ‘radical Islamic terrorism’? … 2. Will he play Middle East peacemaker? … 3. Does he really support NATO? … 4. Can he stick to a script? … 5. Can he change the subject?” http://politi.co/2qA9zuE
— ANNIE KARNI: “Ivanka and Jared get a rabbinical pass to fly Air Force One”: “Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner will be flying aboard Air Force One to Saudi Arabia with President Donald Trump on Friday, after receiving a rabbinical dispensation to travel on the Jewish Sabbath, according to a White House official. The two practicing Orthodox Jews typically observe the weekly Shabbat holiday, unplugging from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. But they have made exceptions, on a few occasions, for their jobs. On Inauguration Day, they received the same kind of rabbinical pass to travel by car, an activity that is typically prohibited for observant Jews on the Sabbath. The rules can be broken in life-threatening situations, or if there is a safety concern, according to Jewish law. It was not clear on what grounds the exception was made for Trump’s first foreign trip.” http://politi.co/2ry7RYA
— “Stephen Miller Is Writing Trump’s NATO Speech, Too,” by BuzzFeed’s John Hudson: “President Donald Trump has tapped Stephen Miller, a senior adviser at the White House and an outspoken NATO critic, to draft his speech before the military alliance in Brussels next week, people familiar with the plans tell BuzzFeed News. The prospect of a speech penned by the 31-year-old anti-globalist adds a new layer of anxiety for NATO allies uncertain about which version of Donald Trump will show up in Belgium’s capital: The one that believes NATO is ‘no longer obsolete’ or the one that thinks the 28-member military alliance is a relic of the past.” http://bzfd.it/2ryooe7
— “European leaders fear Trump’s political chaos is undermining U.S. power,” by WaPo’s Michael Birnbaum in Brussels: “After nearly four months of the Trump administration, many fear that mounting domestic scandals could sap Washington’s ability to respond to challenges ranging from Russia to terrorism to North Korea.
“…[O]ne senior European intelligence officer said if his agency ever came into possession of information that was incriminating to Trump or his circle, it would hold back from sharing with the United States for fear the U.S. president would seek revenge.” http://wapo.st/2qZcOfZ
BEHIND THE SCENES — “Behind closed doors, Al Franken, Kirsten Gillibrand blast Rosenstein for withholding information,” by WaPo’s Ed O’Keefe: “Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s meeting with senators on Thursday grew especially heated when he faced questions from two frustrated liberal Democrats, according to multiple people familiar with the meeting. Rosenstein came to Capitol Hill to discuss the firing of FBI Director James B. Comey and his decision to hire Robert Mueller as a special counsel to probe Russian meddling in last year’s elections. … Rosenstein faced especially aggressive questions from Democrats about the scope of the investigation set to be led by Mueller; why Attorney General Jeff Sessions was involved in the firing of Comey; and why Sessions is helping select the new director, according to multiple people.” http://wapo.st/2qDtSFs
UH OH … — “F.B.I. Once Warned G.O.P. Congressman That Russian Spies Were Recruiting Him,” by NYT’s Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman and Mark Mazzetti: “The congressman, Dana Rohrabacher of California, has been known for years as one of Moscow’s biggest defenders in Washington and as a vocal opponent of American economic sanctions against Russia. He claims to have lost a drunken arm-wrestling match with the current Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, in the 1990s. He is one of President Trump’s staunchest allies on Capitol Hill. …
“In a secure room at the Capitol, an F.B.I. agent told Mr. Rohrabacher in 2012 that Russian spies were trying to recruit him as an ‘agent of influence’ — someone the Russian government might be able to use to steer Washington policy-making, former officials said.” http://nyti.ms/2q2WrKy
NEW POLITICO/MORNING CONSULT POLL — “Poll: Majority disapprove of Trump sharing intel with Russians,” by Cristiano Lima: “A majority of voters say it was ‘inappropriate’ for President Donald Trump to share highly classified information with Russian officials, according to a new poll released Friday. And a plurality of voters — 41 percent — say Trump’s disclosure means they are ‘not confident at all’ in the president’s ability to handle highly classified material.
“Fifty-eight percent of those surveyed in a new Morning Consult/POLITICO poll disapproved of the president’s decision to divulge sensitive materials to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak during an Oval Office meeting last week. Only 22 percent of those polled deemed Trump’s actions ‘appropriate,’ while 20 percent remained undecided.” http://politi.co/2pRHHmF
ISAAC DOVERE on “Trump’s divisive unity plea”: “President Donald Trump loves division, except when he’s the one under attack. Then he goes all kumba-do-what-I-say. ‘I hate to see anything that divides,’ said the man who ran one of the most divisive campaigns in one of the most divisive elections in history, when he was asked about his view on the appointment of a special counsel to investigate whether his own aides were involved in Russian efforts to swing the 2016 election.
“Thursday, under the most intense fire of his fire-filled presidency, Trump tried a defense of saying he had nothing to do with the offense, and that it’s all a ruse by a small number of entrenched politicians who were trying to shake him from his great goal of bringing the country together—’whether it’s Russia or anybody else, my total priority, believe me, is the United States of America,’ he said. It also gave him cover to sneak in a few more punches along the way. Standing in the East Room of the White House at a press conference with the Colombian president, Trump went on to bash Obamacare and anyone who doesn’t believe in his border wall. He also took time to point out the differences between Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the ‘much more successful Trump campaign.’” http://politi.co/2q2ZaDA
FIRST PERSON – BENJAMIN WITTES on Lawfareblog.com, “What James Comey Told Me About Donald Trump”: “Comey understood Trump’s people as having neither knowledge of nor respect for the independence of the law enforcement function. And he saw it as an ongoing task on his part to protect the rest of the Bureau from improper contacts and interferences from a group of people he did not regard as honorable. … The first incident he told me about was the infamous ‘hug’ from Trump after the inauguration: The hug took place at a White House meeting to which Trump had invited law enforcement leadership to thank them for their role in the inauguration.
“Comey described really not wanting to go to that meeting, for the same reason he later did not want to go to the private dinner with Trump: the FBI director should be always at arm’s length from the President, in his view. … [A]s he told me the story, he tried hard to blend into the background and avoid any one-on-one interaction. He was wearing a blue blazer and noticed that the drapes were blue. So he stood in the back, right in front of the drapes, hoping Trump wouldn’t notice him camouflaged against the wall. … Comey was disgusted. He regarded the episode as a physical attempt to show closeness and warmth in a fashion calculated to compromise him before Democrats who already mistrusted him.” http://bit.ly/2q344Ao
CALLING IN THE LAWYERS — “Trump meets with lawyers at the White House,” by Alex Isenstadt and Josh Dawsey: “President Donald Trump convened his legal team on Thursday to discuss the escalating investigation into whether his campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 election. The huddle, according to four people briefed, took place the day after it was announced that former FBI Director Robert Mueller would serve as the investigation’s special counsel. One White House official said the discussion, which came the day before Trump leaves for his first trip abroad since taking office, centered around the nuts and bolts of how the investigation would work – and how the administration will need to handle the inquiry.
“Among those in attendance was longtime Trump Organization attorney Michael Cohen, who came down from New York to attend. Cohen declined to comment when reached Thursday afternoon. McGahn and his team, one official said, is urging the White House – and Trump – to be cautious in its comments with a special prosecutor involved. McGahn has begun explaining to aides in detail about records retention and potential requests, two people familiar with the conversations say. One objective: to keep Trump from hurting himself any further. Two senior administration officials said they believed Trump’s letter firing Comey was a mistake. White House spokespeople declined to comment. … Mueller’s appointment has put the administration in bunker mode – and there is a growing realization, officials say, that life in the administration will grow more difficult in the months to come. Some aides have begun reaching out to lawyers to see if they need counsel, according to one attorney who has spoken to several of them.” http://politi.co/2ryv64H
JARED FOR THE WIN! — “$110 Billion Weapons Sale to Saudis Has Jared Kushner’s Personal Touch,” by NYT’s Mark Landler, Eric Schmitt and Matt Apuzzo: “On the afternoon of May 1, President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, welcomed a high-level delegation of Saudis to a gilded reception room next door to the White House and delivered a brisk pep talk: ‘Let’s get this done today.’ Mr. Kushner was referring to a $100 billion-plus arms deal that the administration hoped to seal with Saudi Arabia in time to announce it during Mr. Trump’s visit to the kingdom this weekend. The two sides discussed a shopping list that included planes, ships and precision-guided bombs. Then an American official raised the idea of the Saudis’ buying a sophisticated radar system designed to shoot down ballistic missiles.
“Sensing that the cost might be a problem … Mr. Kushner picked up the phone and called Marillyn A. Hewson — the chief executive of Lockheed Martin, which makes the radar system — and asked her whether she could cut the price. As his guests watched slack-jawed, Ms. Hewson told him she would look into it, officials said. Mr. Kushner’s personal intervention in the arms sale is further evidence of the Trump White House’s readiness to dispense with custom in favor of informal, hands-on deal making. It also offers a window into how the administration hopes to change America’s position in the Middle East, emphasizing hard power and haggling over traditional diplomacy.” http://nyti.ms/2rl2QWf
COMING UP: HILL GOP-WHITE HOUSE CLASH — “U.S. could get first paid family leave benefit under Trump budget proposal,” by WaPo’s Danielle Paquette and Damian Paletta: “President Trump’s budget proposal next week will include a new benefit for America’s working parents, one Democrats have long championed and Republicans have long opposed: paid family leave. The president’s first detailed budget request on Tuesday will seek funds for the creation of a program to grant mothers and fathers six weeks of paid leave after the birth or adoption of a child, two senior White House budget office officials said.” http://wapo.st/2qYVPuu
MNUCHIN’S TAX REFORM PLAY — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is trying to ignore all the noise about Trump and Russia keep his eye on the prize: a major tax reform package. Mnuchin met Thursday with Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee, has huddled with Rep. Richie Neal (D-Mass.), ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee, and has stepped up outreach to K Street. “There’s an emphasis on engagement at the trade association level and with industry groups,” according to a source familiar with the agency’s strategy. The “listening sessions” tactic is similar to the strategy House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy has employed over the years to meet with lawmakers and others to discuss the substance of legislative packages, but not push policy on them.
THE JUICE …
— SPOTTED: COREY LEWANDOWSKI having lunch Thursday at the Hay-Adams. … LAURA INGRAHAM having dinner last night at Ristorante La Perla in Georgetown. … SEN. ED MARKEY (D-MASS.) and TED OLSON of Gibson Dunn last night at Cafe Milano.
— ISRAELI PM BENJAMIN NETANYAHU met with Aerosmith yesterday. Video from Jerusalem http://bit.ly/2q31RVC
TRUMP’S FRIDAY — He is meeting with OMB Director Mick Mulvaney at 11 a.m., and leaves for Saudi Arabia on a nine-day voyage to the Middle East by 2:10 p.m.
COME ON … — “Donald Trump Talked Michael Flynn Into White House Job — and Wants Him Back in the Administration,” by The Daily Beast’s Lachlan Markay, Asawin Suebsaeng, Kim Dozier and Jana Winter: “Trump doesn’t just hope that Flynn will beat the rap. Several sources close to Flynn and to the administration tell The Daily Beast that Trump has expressed his hopes that a resolution of the FBI’s investigation in Flynn’s favor might allow Flynn to rejoin the White House in some capacity—a scenario some of Trump’s closest advisers in and outside the West Wing have assured him absolutely should not happen. Those sources said Trump didn’t believe Flynn should be under investigation in the first place. ‘Trump feels really, really, really bad about firing him, and he genuinely thinks if the investigation is over Flynn can come back,’ said one White House official.” http://thebea.st/2qZ0fS4
NO LOVE LOST — “Republicans shove Chaffetz on his way out,” by Rachael Bade: “A handful of top Republicans have a message for outgoing Rep. Jason Chaffetz: It’s time to relinquish the House Oversight Committee gavel.Several senior GOP lawmakers are quietly encouraging Chaffetz to step down from his chairmanship soon, even though the Utah Republican doesn’t plan to resign from Congress until June 30. While his retirement announcement Thursday said nothing about his future work, Chaffetz has told lawmakers he’ll be heading to Fox News.
“But GOP insiders say Chaffetz has been reluctant to let go of his panel’s leadership before he leaves Congress — and now he’s thrown himself into the thick of the Russia scandal that’s consuming Washington. It’s made for an uncertain transition at the committee and a sore subject for House Republicans. ‘If the chairman is on his way out… he should step down and allow the Steering Committee to move immediately to appoint a new chairman,’ said Rep. Steve Womack, an Arkansas Republican who sits on the Steering panel, which selects committee chairmen. ‘Sooner, not later.’” http://politi.co/2q2Vq55
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THE RESISTANCE — “Dem super PAC to air late TV ads in Montana special election,” by Alex Isenstadt: “With the Trump White House reeling, national Democrats are looking to capitalize — and making a late investment in next week’s special election for a Montana congressional seat. House Majority PAC, the principal Democratic outside group focused on House races, is purchasing $25,000 of TV airtime in the state. The buy is a small one; the candidates and parties have so far spent over $8 million on the Montana race. But it underscores how Democrats are making a late play in the contest.
“National Democrats, wary of wasting money on a conservative seat seen as a reach, have largely stayed out of the race, which pits Republican technology executive Greg Gianforte against Democratic musician Rob Quist. Until now, House Majority PAC hadn’t spent anything, while the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spent only around $280,000 on commercials. Republican outside groups, meanwhile, have combined to air over $4 million of ads.” http://politi.co/2pZxgtb
HOW DETROIT IS BEATING ITS BLIGHT: Land banks are the Swiss Army knives of urban reclamation efforts, wielding an array of powers to make abandoned, tax-foreclosed properties useful again. In the latest installment of POLITICO Magazine’s “What Works” series, we visit the city of Detroit, which went from a robust city of 1.8 million in 1950 to barely a third of that size today. Learn how Mayor Mike Duggan’s administration created the largest land bank in the U.S., taking control of 98,000 properties to help his city rebound from bankruptcy and an unprecedented level of decline. http://politi.co/2pZPjiE
NERDCAST PODCAST: A week of damaging leaks on President Donald Trump’s interactions with Russian diplomats and former FBI Director James Comey have once again pulled the focus away from Republicans’ legislative agenda. POLITICO’s Scott Bland, Charlie Mahtesian, Eliana Johnson and Ken Vogel discuss on the latest episode of POLITICO’s Nerdcast — plus, Elena Schneider joins to preview next week’s special House election in Montana. Listen and subscribe http://apple.co/2qA91oh
THE PLAYBOOK INTERVIEW: GEOFF MORRELL
Geoff Morrell — a veteran Washington operator — is leaving the U.S. for London as he takes on a new role at BP as group head of communications and external affairs. Morrell will report to BP’s Group Chief Executive Bob Dudley. “It will be a big change for our family, but one we’re looking forward to,” D.C. native Morrell said of his upcoming move to London.
Morrell joined BP in 2011 as the company was facing a series of investigations and lawsuits related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. His hire was widely seen as a signal that the company was taking a more aggressive approach inside the Beltway. Morrell joined the company after serving as deputy assistant secretary of defense for public affairs and Pentagon press secretary to Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Prior to that he covered the White House for ABC News. Mary Streett, a former Clinton administration official and regulatory attorney who has been at BP for the past three years, will take over for Morrell in Washington.
As he takes on this new role, Morrell said he is focused broadly on the changes in how people communicate. BP operates in nearly 80 countries around the world — a vast, and complex canvas for a corporation. “We need to do government relations different in all of those places, but what is universal to them all is there is enormous changes underway in how we communicate and what’s expected from companies in terms of transparency and accountability and we need to keep pace. I think that is the biggest challenge our organization will face.”
Excerpts from the interview
THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION MORE WILLING TO ENGAGE: “There is no question that [the Trump administration’s] commitment to regulatory reform, regulatory relief to some degree, is welcomed by the oil and gas industry. We are not anti-regulation, but we also don’t believe that if you have more sensible regulations that that somehow is anti-environment. We think you can have sensible regulations that protect the environment and still promote investment in America … What we’ve seen from the administration thus far is a willingness to have conversations about how to strike that balance.”
COMPANIES SHOULD TALK, EVEN DURING LITIGATION: “A lot of companies may say, ‘This is being adjudicated in court. We’re going to do our speaking in court and refrain from doing so in the media.’ But I think that’s naive and fails to appreciate that they have shareholders and partners and contractors and employees who very much need to know what the company is thinking and doing on these issues. … I am a strong believer that you cannot bunker down and you have to communicate even during intense litigation. You can tell your story without putting yourself in greater legal jeopardy. It can and should be done.”
ADVERTISING MATTERS: “People are skeptical about the power of advertising today. It’s become almost as dirty a word as lobbying, but both of them are still alive and well because they work. When you you have messages to get out, stories to tell and the media is focused elsewhere, perhaps justifiably, often times paid advertising is the only way to communicate to your stakeholders. I’ve come to believe it is still a really important tool in your toolbox.”
MEDIAWATCH — “Reporter manhandled by FCC guards because he asked question,” by Julie Schoo on the National Press Club’s website: “Security guards at the Federal Communications Commission headquarters here manhandled a well-regarded reporter at a public hearing [on Thursday] and forced him to leave the premises after he had tried to politely ask questions of FCC commissioners. … Throughout the FCC meeting, the security guards had shadowed [CQ Roll Call’s John M.] Donnelly as if he were a security threat, he said, even though he continuously displayed his congressional press pass and held a tape recorder and notepad. They even waited for him outside the men’s room at one point. When Donnelly strolled in an unthreatening way toward FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly to pose a question, two guards pinned Donnelly against the wall with the backs of their bodies until O’Rielly had passed. O’Rielly witnessed this and continued walking.” http://bit.ly/2qZ0bSe
REMEMBERING ROGER AILES — MICHAEL WOLFF in The Hollywood Reporter, “Roger and I spoke a week ago, just after the last ouster at Fox — Bill Shine, his lieutenant who had taken over his job, following by a week the ouster of Bill O’Reilly — and, invariably, the subject was Fox’s quickly eroding fortunes and the possibilities for a new conservative network. Roger, yet proscribed by the non-compete provisions of his separation agreement, nevertheless had a plan in his head, and was taking calls. ‘I can’t call. But I can’t stop people from calling me,’ he said. As we spoke, Beth texted pictures of their view and of a newly svelte Roger lying lazily in the sun.” http://bit.ly/2pZXews
TV TODAY — At 8:30 a.m David Gura will interview NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg live on Bloomberg TV and Bloomberg Radio in a broadcast exclusive.
SPOTTED: Sen. Ted Cruz deep in coach on an American flight to Dallas from DCA … Scott Pruitt taking his staff to dinner last night at Le Diplomate … Kellyanne Conway getting out of her SUVs at DCA yesterday … Geraldo Rivera in black jeans and a white T-shirt, riding a bike down Fifth Avenue near 66th Street (h/t Ellis Wishingrad’s dad, Ian)
SUNDAY SO FAR – “Fox News Sunday”: Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Panel: Brit Hume, Jane Harman, Kim Strassel, Juan Williams
–CNN’s “State of the Union”: Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.)
–CBS’ “Face the Nation”: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). Anthony Salvanto will have a new Nation Tracker. Political panel: Ed O’Keefe, David Ignatius, Molly Ball and Ramesh Ponnuru.
WELCOME TO THE WORLD — Jessica Loker, executive producer of “FOX News Sunday,” and Mark Loker welcomed a beautiful baby boy Tuesday night. Mason Robert Loker was born 10:52 p.m. on his exact due date 5/16/17 (hung on thru Mother’s Day FNS). Mason weighed 8 lbs 7.5 oz, 21 inches. His parents and proud big sisters Eliza and Evelyn are all doing well.
–Emily Renard, senior policy analyst for Africa at the Open Society Foundations and former State Department official, and her husband, Joao Morgado, a graphic designer, welcomed Eleanor Morgado Renard into the world on Tuesday.
TRANSITIONS — Benjamin Milakofsky earlier this week joined the National September 11 Memorial and Museum as chief of staff. He previously was deputy chief of staff at the Department of the Interior. … Melina Milazzo has joined Freedom Now’s Washington office as its director. She was previously senior policy counsel for the Center for Victims of Torture. … Alex Dominguez is moving to EPA to serve as the policy analyst to the senior adviser to the administrator for air and radiation starting Monday. Today is his last day as energy and trade LA for Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Ohio).
OUT AND ABOUT — SPOTTED last night at the Library of Congress for the U.S.-Colombia Business Partnership and Atlantic Council reception and dinner for Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos: National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), Bill Burlew, Brian Donahue, Colombian Ambassador Juan Carlos Pinzon, John Lopes, Jonathan Miller, Rodney Lopez, Alexandra Valderrama and Tom DeWald
SPOTTED last night at a reception in Dirksen marking the 2017 Presidency of Malta of the Council of the European Union: Amb. Pierre Clive Agius of Malta, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Kelley Paul, Sergio Gor, Chase Kroll, Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), Travis Korson, Neville Mifsud, Natalie Burkhalter, EU Amb. David O’Sullivan, Juliegrace Brufke, Amb. Rolandas Kriščiūnas of Lithuania, Amb. Domingos Fezas Vital of Portugal, Amb. Piotr Wilczek of Poland
–POOL REPORT: “At a home connected by a thin wall to that of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, former U.S. Ambassador to the IAEA John Ritch and wife Christina feted Clinton Land key-keeper Sidney Blumenthal for his second volume on the 16th President of the United States, ‘Wrestling with His Angel: Abraham Lincoln, Volume II, 1849-1856.’ On a historically prescient note, Blumenthal read from some Lincoln letters, including this short passage on Know-Nothings, the trials of liberty in America, and Russia.” $21.59 on Amazon http://amzn.to/2rl4G9g
SPOTTED: John and Christina Ritch, Caroline Croft, Sarah Stephens, Steve Clemons, Michael Tomasky, Georgia Abraham, Afsaneh and Michael Beschloss, David Dreyer, Edward Luce, Joshua Gotbaum, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), Ryan Grim, Julian Borger, Barbara and John Cochran, Tom Hamburger, Frank Foer, Ruth Sherlock and Paul Wood, Linda Drumheller, Jamie Stiehm, Paul Blumenthal, Max Blumenthal, John Henry and Anne Crittenden, James Mann, Jeff Stein, Diane McWhorter and James Reston.
BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Cindy Hensley McCain, businesswoman, humanitarian, wife of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) — how she’s celebrating: “I will be spending my birthday with my husband and some of my children at our cabin in Cottonwood, Arizona. No place better than that!!!!!!” Read her Playbook Plus Q&A: http://politi.co/2q01r37
BIRTHDAYS: David Marin, principal at the Podesta Group, is 48 (h/t Jon Haber) … Allie Brandenburger (h/t Tim Miller) … Jim Lehrer is 83 … David Hartman is 82 … Daily Beast columnist Michael Daly … Time’s Phil Elliott, an AP alum … Sydney Simon, comms. manager for The Atlantic, is 27 … Grace and Henry, twins of Norah O’Donnell and “Chef” Geoff Tracy, are 10 … Carol “CJ” Guthrie, now living in Paris as the head of public affairs and media at the OECD (h/t Ben Chang) … Brian McKeon, senior policy advisor at Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck and Shaheen alum … EY’s Bob Schellhas, a Portman/Boehner alum, is 51 … Mandy Quinn, restaurant partnerships manager at Uber and a Politico alum … former Sen. Mark Andrews (R-ND) is 91 … Mary Hager … Anton Becker, comms director for Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) … Ashley Mettler … Dem consultant John Hlinko … Blair FitzGibbon … Rebekah Allen …
… Breitbart White House reporter Charlie Spiering is 35 … Yelberton (Yebbie) Watkins, longtime chief of staff to House Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn … Lucas Boyce … Bob Juliano … Warren Coats … Paul Schur … Katie Sander … Lindsey Parham … Jillian Martin … Beth Rossman … Phillip Carnegie Smith is 65 … Peggy Wilhide Nasir … Kathleen Gleason Prayias … consultant Adrian Gray, a Bush-Cheney alum … Matthew Doering … Melissa Cross … Margaret O’Meara … Cynthia Alksne … Eric Bakker … Branda Weix … Brendan Martin (h/ts Teresa Vilmain) … Pete Townshend (The Who) is 72 … pop singer Sam Smith is 25 (h/ts AP)
****** A message from JPMorgan Chase & Co.: JPMorgan Chase’s investment in Detroit goes well beyond just writing a check. Through the firm’s Detroit Service Corps, dozens of senior level employees spent more than 10,000 hours on the ground, working with local nonprofit partners and using their expertise to assist with strategic and business planning, market analysis and much more: http://politi.co/2r9hUCy ******
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