A HEADLINE TRUMP WON’T LIKE — “Obama: Presidents need to watch their behavior,” by Isaac Dovere: “Barack Obama’s advice on the presidency: Watch your behavior — because everyone else is watching it, and taking cues from it.
“‘One of the things that Michelle figured out, in some ways faster than I did — was part of your ability to lead the country doesn’t have to do with legislation, doesn’t have to do with regulations, it has to do with shaping attitudes, shaping culture, increasing awareness,’ Obama said in a conversation recorded last fall but released on Friday as the first episode of David Letterman’s new Netflix show, ‘My Next Guest Needs No Introduction.’” http://politi.co/2mx5eoX
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… AND ONE HE WILL: “Fiat Chrysler will invest $1B in Warren Truck plant; bring Ram work back from Mexico,” by Detroit Free Press’ Eric D. Lawrence: “Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will invest more than $1 billion to modernize the company’s Warren Truck Plant in metro Detroit, adding 2,500 jobs and moving production of its Ram Heavy Duty trucks from Mexico. The changeover is to be complete in 2020. The company said Thursday evening that the new federal tax law made the shift possible. … FCA also announced $2,000 bonuses that will be paid in the second quarter of this year to 60,000 hourly and salaried employees in the U.S., excluding senior leadership.” http://on.freep.com/2mwonY4
CONSIDER THIS… MANY CAME TO THE CONCLUSION THIS WEEK that PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP WAS IN CONTROL. He held his own during a 55-minute impromptu back and forth with members of Congress, during which he showed a decent enough command of immigration policy. BUT … ON THURSDAY … TRUMP:
… SAID HE CANCELED his trip to London because he is “not a big fan of the Obama Administration having sold perhaps the best located and finest embassy in London for ‘peanuts,’ only to build a new one in an off location for 1.2 billion dollars. Bad deal. Wanted me to cut ribbon-NO!” The decision was not, in fact, made by the Obama administration but was made by George W. Bush in October 2008. And it was made for security reasons — the U.S. embassy could not be altered to meet security needs.
HEADLINE in the Evening Standard: “Donald Trump abandons UK visit to open new US embassy ‘amid fears he won’t be welcome’” — London Playbooker Jack Blanchard: “Trump is a truly random factor, and officials were fearful of some unexpected incident that could drag the prime minister into trouble.”
… TWEETED that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was used to “surveil and abuse the Trump Campaign … and others” at the same time his administration — including his chief of staff — was lobbying for a key section’s renewal hours before a vote on the House floor. After some lobbying from the Hill, Trump walked back his tweet. And the House renewed the FISA provision.
… CALLED HAITI AND AFRICAN NATIONS a “shithole,” and said the United States should, instead, accept more immigrants from countries like Norway. Aides told multiple media outlets this comment would help with the president’s base. “‘Why do we need more Haitians?’ Trump said, according to people familiar with the meeting. ‘Take them out.’” Full story from WaPo’s Josh Dawsey http://wapo.st/2D53xbX
… TOLD THE WALL STREET JOURNAL that Mexico would pay for the wall through NAFTA. Direct quote, from an interview with the Journal: “They can pay for it through … they can pay for it indirectly through Nafta. OK? You know, we make a good deal on Nafta, say I’m going to take a small percentage of that money and it’s going to go toward the wall. Guess what? Mexico’s paying.
“Now Mexico may not want to make the Nafta deal and which is OK, then I’ll terminate Nafta … which I think would be frankly a positive for our country. I don’t think it’s a positive for Mexico, I don’t think it’s a positive for the world. But it’s a positive for our country because I’d make a much better deal. There is no deal that I can make on Nafta that’s as good as if I terminate Nafta and make a new deal. OK? But I feel that we have a chance of making a reasonable deal, the way it is now.”
… AND TOLD THE WSJ THAT he thought he “probably” had a “very good relationship with Kim Jong Un of North Korea.” Asked if he ever spoke to the North Korean leader, Trump said “I don’t want to comment on it — I don’t want to comment, I’m not saying I have or I haven’t.” He added: “[Y]ou see that a lot with me and then all of a sudden somebody’s my best friend. I could give you 20 examples. You give me 30. I’m a very flexible person.” http://on.wsj.com/2ASnP32 … The full transcript http://on.wsj.com/2D3CYod
WHY THIS ALL MATTERS — NEXT WEEK, Republicans will be trying to keep government open, squeeze through what will be a massively controversial immigration bill and boost government spending by nearly $100 billion. NONE OF THIS will be possible if Trump expresses a shred of doubt on the deals Congress is trying to cut. He has a habit of taking cues from the conservative Freedom Caucus. They are sure to express some level of opposition to this triad of bills. Trump’s itchy trigger finger could give Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell serious heartache next week.
— A BITE YOU MUST READ, from the WSJ interview: “I went to the Wharton School of Finance, did well. I went out, I—I started in Brooklyn, in a Brooklyn office with my father, I became one of the most successful real-estate developers, one of the most successful business people. I created maybe the greatest brand.
“I then go into, in addition to that, part-time, like five percent a week, I open up a television show. As you know, the Apprentice on many evenings was the number one show on all of television, a tremendous success. It went on for 12 years, a tremendous success. They wanted to sign me for another three years and I said, no, I can’t do that. That’s one of the reasons NBC hates me so much. NBC hates me so much they wanted—they were desperate to sign me for—for three more years. …
“I was always the best athlete, people don’t know that. But I was successful at everything I ever did and then I run for president, first time—first time, not three times, not six times. I ran for president first time and lo and behold, I win. And then people say oh, is he a smart person? I’m smarter than all of them put together, but they can’t admit it. They had a bad year.”
COME ON!: He’s president! Who cares about his athletic prowess or his college education! IMAGINE THE REACTION… On the right if Barack Obama constantly talked about how he went to Columbia and Harvard Law School, and bragged about his jump shot.
HOW IT PLAYED — “After Donald Trump Said It, How News Outlets Handled It,” by NYT’s Mike Grynbaum: “Lester Holt opened the ‘NBC Nightly News’ on Thursday with a parental warning: ‘This may not be appropriate for some of our younger viewers.’ His counterpart at ‘ABC World News Tonight,’ David Muir, described President Trump ‘using a profanity we won’t repeat.’ … Media outlets on Thursday took the unusual step of allowing the word ‘shithole’ to be used in print and on air, after a report that Mr. Trump had used the term to describe African nations and Haiti during a White House meeting with lawmakers on immigration.
“The unexpurgated expletive appeared, in capital letters, on the graphics known as chyrons that dominate the lower portion of the screen on CNN and MSNBC. (Fox News spelled the word with asterisks.) It showed up on smartphone push alerts sent by The Washington Post, which broke the story, and The Associated Press.” http://nyti.ms/2FucolO
TOP TWEET — @JohnAvlon: “Worth noting that today is Alexander Hamilton’s Birthday – you know, the immigrant kid who came from the shithole of Nevis to create the USA”.
****** A message from DaVita: The time is now to give thousands of vulnerable patients access to integrated care. Support the PATIENTS Act. MyKidneyCare.org ******
BANNON, CHAPTER INFINITY — “Trump Says He Feels ‘Betrayed’ by Bannon, Doesn’t Rule Out Reconciliation,” by WSJ’s Peter Nicholas: “In an interview with The Wall Street Journal on Thursday, Mr. Trump said that any number of his campaign aides contributed more to the 2016 election result than Mr. Bannon. ‘Steve’s greatest asset is that he was able to convince a corrupt media that he was responsible for my win,’ the president said. … Asked if the split with Mr. Bannon was permanent, Mr. Trump said: ‘We’ll see what happens.’ … In the interview Thursday, Mr. Trump said: “Steve had nothing to do with my win, or certainly very little.’ Mr. Trump offered to take Wall Street Journal reporters around the White House and introduce them to people who he said were more valuable to his victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton than Mr. Bannon.” http://on.wsj.com/2mkX56o
2018 WATCH — TRUMP ALL-IN IN PENN. — “Trump races to head off another special election debacle,” by Alex Isenstadt: “The White House is scrambling to avoid another special election disaster, this time in a Pennsylvania congressional district in the heart of Trump country. After a humiliating loss in the Alabama Senate race last month, the administration is drawing up ambitious plans that will kick off next Thursday when Trump travels to the conservative district to appear with Republican candidate Rick Saccone. Vice President Mike Pence and an assortment of cabinet officials are also expected to make trips; Pence may go twice ahead of the March 13 special election, two administration officials said. …
“It is unusual for a White House to expend so much political capital on a single House race, particularly in what’s typically seen as a safe Republican district. But the involvement underscores the high stakes confronting the administration as it approaches a midterm election where the party’s hold on the House majority is in grave danger. A loss in the working class Pennsylvania district, which the president won by 20 percentage points, would show that few GOP seats are safe.” http://politi.co/2EBsqsV
— ANOTHER SPECIAL ELECTION LOSS would be a massive embarrassment for Trump. It would also demoralize the base, hurt GOP fundraising efforts and could convince more House Republicans to retire. BUT … This special election is between Rick Saccone, a 59-year old Republican who D.C. insiders aren’t crazy about, and Conor Lamb, an attractive 33-year old Democrat with an impressive bio.
THE LATEST ON DACA — “Trump rebuffs Dreamers deal reached by senators,” by Seung Min Kim: “A bipartisan group of six senators has reached a deal that would shield Dreamers from deportation and make other changes to immigration laws and border security — but the framework has yet to win over the White House and other key players on Capitol Hill. The package negotiated by the senators includes $2.7 billion for border security, which includes Trump’s $1.6 billion request for wall planning and construction, as well as $1.1 billion for security infrastructure and technology, three sources directly familiar with the negotiations confirmed to POLITICO …
“Lawmakers rushed to the White House for a hastily called meeting Thursday to present details of the Senate group’s plan to President Donald Trump, which he arranged after phone calls with Graham and Durbin earlier in the day. But White House legislative affairs director Marc Short said on Capitol Hill that the president has not yet signed off — and other influential Republicans said the negotiators had a long way to go. ‘Not even a fig leaf,’ said Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who attended the impromptu White House meeting and is a close adviser to the president. ‘It’s a pine needle.’ Graham shot back at Cotton’s criticism, saying: ‘Well, Sen. Cotton can present his proposal.’” http://politi.co/2D4o8ht
— THIS PLAN was never going to be *the* plan. The one to keep an eye on is the deal being hashed out by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas), Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.). That group has White House buy in — and participation.
BEN WHITE and IAN KULLGREN: “Tax payouts deliver a wave of hope and hype”: “Republicans are basking in a wave of good publicity for their giant tax cut. WalMart, the nation’s largest private employer, just bumped up its minimum wage. Cash bonuses are flowing to employees from major employers including AT&T, Comcast and big banks due to the big corporate tax cut. Automakers and giant engineering companies are promising big new U.S. investments. … But economists have a warning: Enjoy it while it lasts. While the wage hikes and bonuses are undoubtedly positive, they may produce only a temporary economic boost that fades in later months. Gains could be undercut by rising deficits caused by slashing federal revenue by at least $1.5 trillion over ten years.” http://politi.co/2CRBNUL
WEST WING TENSION — “Steven Mnuchin’s ever-expanding orbit,” by Nancy Cook and Ben White: “Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin loves being at the center of the White House action, a place he found himself again on Thursday, in the briefing room talking about the latest round of corporate pay hikes and bonuses. The latest West Wing appearance was right in Mnuchin’s sweet spot, on the implementation and impact of the big GOP tax cut bill. But the Treasury secretary keeps trying to insert himself into other major policy debates, from the Iran deal and North Korea to trade, infrastructure, and the Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity efforts.
“This always-on-the-scene behavior is causing tension with White House chief of staff John Kelly, who has tried to impose structure and keep people in their lanes, as well as with other senior administration officials and fellow Cabinet members, according to a dozen current and former senior administration officials and close advisers to the White House. Mnuchin arrived in the administration a year ago fresh from President Donald Trump’s campaign plane, and his boundless enthusiasm for his job has led him to constantly expand his domain. Many observers see the Treasury chief using his proximity to the White House and his close relationship with the president to grab hold of any issue he can and bring it into his portfolio.
“Those senior administration officials say that Kelly has been particularly annoyed by Mnuchin’s desire to attend as many meetings as possible and participate in photo-ops, on the reasoning that all policy matters are tangentially related to Treasury.” http://politi.co/2muWgsi
TRUMP’S FRIDAY — TRUMP is signing a proclamation for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. At 12:15, he is scheduled to have a physical. He then leaves from Walter Reed for Andrews Air Force Base. He departs for Florida at 4:35 p.m.
THE JUICE …
— SPOTTED at a DINA POWELL’S farewell dinner at Cafe Milano last night with her White House and administration colleagues hosted by Dave McCormick and H.R. McMaster: Jim Mattis, Mike and Susan Pompeo, Steven Mnuchin, Mick Mulvaney, Wilbur and Hilary Ross, Paul and Janna Ryan, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, Gary and Lisa Cohn, Hope Hicks, Sarah Sanders, Rob Porter, Johnny DeStefano, Marc Short, Jeremy Katz, Josh Raffel, Matt and Mercy Schlapp, Jason Greenblatt, Kellyanne Conway, Rick Dearborn, Brian Hook, Eli Miller, Sally Donnelly, and Julie Radford.
— HEIDI PRZYBYLA is joining NBC as a national political reporter and VAUGHN HILLYARD has been named a political reporter. Przybyla was most recently senior political correspondent at USA Today.
LISTEN IN — MAJOR GARRETT talked with Anna and Jake for this week’s CBS News’ podcast “The Takeout” at local eatery D.C. Taco. http://cbsn.ws/2CTWaAB
VALLEY TALK – “Facebook Overhauls News Feed to Focus on What Friends and Family Share,” by NYT’s Mike Isaac: “Facebook has introduced sweeping changes to the kinds of posts, videos and photos that its more than two billion members will see most often, saying on Thursday that it would prioritize what their friends and family share and comment on while de-emphasizing content from publishers and brands. The shift is the most significant overhaul in years to Facebook’s News Feed … Over the next few weeks, users will begin seeing fewer viral videos and news articles shared by media companies. Instead, Facebook will highlight posts that friends have interacted with — for example, a photo of your dog or a status update that many of them have commented on or liked.” http://nyti.ms/2Fu32GV … Mark Zuckerberg’s post on the change http://bit.ly/2qX5fY3
ON HAROLD FORD — “A Wall St. Executive’s Downfall Seemed Sudden. It Was Years in the Making,” by NYT’s Kate Kelly and Aaron Sorkin: “Late last year, Morgan Stanley got a tip: Reporters were asking about allegations that a high-profile executive, the former congressman Harold E. Ford Jr., had harassed a female journalist. Morgan Stanley conducted a quick investigation, interviewing the accuser and Mr. Ford, who denied the allegations. According to Morgan Stanley officials briefed on the internal process, the Wall Street bank concluded that it was a he-said, she-said situation and didn’t find proof of harassment.
“Then Morgan Stanley fired Mr. Ford. Why? It depends on whom you ask. The Morgan Stanley officials briefed on the process say that amid a national outcry over sexual harassment, the bank had little choice but to fire Mr. Ford after it learned of the allegation. Even though the harassment charge was never corroborated, they said, the bank found evidence that Mr. Ford had misled executives about some of his behavior, which itself constituted cause to remove him. And they say Mr. Ford already had received a final written warning about abuse of his expense account and other conduct. Mr. Ford and his lawyer say there’s a different explanation: that Morgan Stanley used the journalist’s allegations as a pretext to fire him simply because he was disliked internally.” http://nyti.ms/2D4OIpD
HUFFPOST: “Exclusive: Here Is A Draft Of Trump’s Nuclear Review. He Wants A Lot More Nukes: His first Nuclear Posture Review: more nukes, more posturing,” by Ashley Feinberg: http://bit.ly/2EzbB1M
TRUMP TAPS THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION — “Trump Expected To Tap Ex-Rumsfeld Adviser For Top Middle East Job,” by BuzzFeed’s John Hudson: “President Donald Trump is expected to nominate a Levant scholar and former adviser to Donald Rumsfeld to become the top U.S. diplomat to the Middle East, a senior Trump administration official tells BuzzFeed News. The decision to hire David Schenker, a director at the pro-Israel Washington Institute for Near East Policy, would place a political appointee in a position that has been held by career diplomats since the 1990s. Though it’s rare for a State Department outsider to receive the nomination, Middle East analysts expressed some relief given the urgent need for a nominee to lead the bureau and concerns about other potential candidates for the job.” http://bzfd.it/2mn3bmG
****** A message from DaVita: WE CAN HELP THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE LIVE BETTER BY PASSING THE PATIENTS ACT. People with kidney disease are among the most critically ill populations in our country, and most of them are on Medicare. We know integrated care works for dialysis patients, and the PATIENTS Act would expand access to care that could help reduce hospitalizations. Congress should pass the PATIENTS Act to give kidney patients access to integrated care. MyKidneyCare.org ******
MEDIAWATCH — GABE SHERMAN in Vanity Fair, “‘A Safe Space for Trump’: Inside the Feedback Loop Between the President and Fox News: With Roger Ailes gone, the network’s chief de-facto programmer is the president …”: “According to sources, Trump doesn’t explicitly dictate talking points the way Ailes did, but over time, the effect can be similar. ‘What he usually does is he’ll call after a show and say, ‘I really enjoyed that,’’ a former Fox anchor told me. ‘The highest compliment is, ‘I really learned something.’ Then you know he got a new policy idea.’ But knowing Trump always could be tuning in means the network is being programmed for an audience of one. ‘He has the same embattled view as a typical Fox viewer—that ‘the liberal elites hate me; they’re trying to bring me down,’’ an executive said.” http://bit.ly/2EA0Ufe
— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff): “HBO says it’s signed @RonanFarrow to a 3-year TV deal to develop and lead a series of investigative documentary specials. ‘His stories will continue to document the abuse of power by individuals and institutions,& will proceed in tandem with ongoing reporting for the New Yorker’”.
SUNDAY SO FAR — CBS’ “Face the Nation”: Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) … Sen. Joe. Manchin (D-W.Va.). Political panel: Jamelle Bouie, Jonah Goldberg, Susan Page, and Amy Walter … a new CBS News Nation Tracker poll with Anthony Salvanto.
— NBC’s “Meet the Press”: Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). Panel: David Brodsy, Helene Cooper, Elise Jordan, Chris Matthews
— ABC’s “This Week”: Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) … Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.)
— CNN’s “State of the Union”: former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), Neera Tanden, Carlos Gutierrez and Karine Jean-Pierre
— CNN’s “Inside Politics”: Julie Pace, Mike Bender, Margaret Talev, Manu Raju
— “Fox News Sunday”: Panel: Marc Lotter, Adrienne Elrod, John Bussey, Juan Williams. Power Player: Derrick Dockery
MSNBC’s “KASIE DC”: Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.), Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), Jake Sherman, Ashley Parker, Jeremy Peters, Jeremy Bash and Carrie Dann
SPOTTED: U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand Scott Brown and Colin Reed last night at spin class at the Gold’s Gym in Rosslyn. Brown leaves D.C. today for a trip to New Hampshire — pic http://bit.ly/2FusbRC … on a Thursday night Southwest flight to Kansas City from DCA: Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and his wife Franki, and Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) … Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) at Terminal B at DCA on Thursday afternoon – pic http://politi.co/2CVRGth … Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) yesterday on a United flight from Reagan to Houston in Economy Plus. Pic http://bit.ly/2mnforp
REMEMBERING SHAWN BRIMLEY – “Shawn Brimley’s Town: Washington, D.C., can be an easy city to mock or resent—but it’s full of workers who’ve given up opportunities to serve something larger than themselves,” by Andrew Exum in the Atlantic: “He served in the Obama administration in a variety of different national security roles, culminating in the Director for Strategic Planning on the National Security Council. … After leaving the Obama administration in 2012, he returned to Center for a New American Security, a D.C. think tank, as its director of studies. … About a month ago, Shawn let us know that he had been diagnosed with a serious form of cancer—an incongruous diagnosis, given his age and fitness. He fought very hard, but a week ago, Shawn’s health took a turn for the worse, and he was given weeks, not months, to live. Those weeks turned out to be mere days. He died on Tuesday.” http://theatln.tc/2AT58wl
ENGAGED — Renuka Rayasam, POLITICO’s Austin-based health care correspondent, got engaged to Ricardo Gilb, a classical guitar teacher turned law student at the University of Texas. “Ricardo proposed at sunset during New Year’s Eve 2017 on a hill overlooking the plaza in Santa Fe, New Mexico, after they spent the holidays with his family in El Paso. Renu and Ricardo went to rival schools in the Bay Area, but they didn’t meet until more than a decade later in May 2016 when they were both in Austin, where Renu landed after spending six years as a freelancer in Berlin, Germany and Ricardo came looking for a fresh start.” Pic http://bit.ly/2AS4yyP
BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Doug Thornell, managing director at SKDKnickerbocker. How he got his start in politics: “I got my start in politics as a field organizer in Iowa for the Gore campaign back in 1999. It was a life changing experience and I would encourage anyone interested in politics to do a campaign and if you could can cut your teeth in Iowa or New Hampshire, even better.” Read his Playbook Plus Q&A: http://politi.co/2r170Uc
BIRTHDAYS: Christiane Amanpour … Theo Baker is 13 … Jeff Bezos is 54 … Rush Limbaugh is 67 … Howard Stern is 64 … Case Button, speechwriter for Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and former HRC aide and speechwriter (hat tip: Gordon Bronson) … Sarah Karlin-Smith of Politico’s health team … Politico’s Jon-Eric Olson … Stephanie Rigizadeh, MSNBC planning producer in DC … Stephanie Taylor, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee … Chris Laible, CBS News Asia bureau chief based in Beijing … Basil Smikle … A.J. Rice … Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) is 68 … Will Nelligan … Kevin Curran, managing director of Rock Creek Advisors and executive director of Maverick PAC, is 38 …
… Sam Hananel, associate director of media relations at CAP and an AP alum … Kandi Walker, finance assistant at the DSCC, is 25 (h/t Grace McKellip) … Jamie Kamlet Fragale … Ben Kamlet … Eliza Hanson … author John Aloysius Farrell … Bush 43 alum Chris Marston … Taylor Foran … AIPAC’s Jonathan Schulman is 36 (h/t Max Neuberger) … WTOP’s Debra Feinstein … Angela Foster Birdseye … Kate Noel … Lisa DePaulo … Dana Perri Miller … Julian Potter … Allison Cutler … Anne Mosle … Danny O’Brien, a Biden and Menendez alum now on GE’s global gov’t affairs team … Natalie Gregory … Tien Hunter (h/ts Teresa Vilmain)
****** A message from DaVita: SOME OF OUR COUNTRY’S MOST VULNERABLE PATIENTS ARE DEPENDING ON CONGRESS TO DO THE RIGHT THING. People with kidney disease are among the most critically ill populations in our country, and most of them depend on Medicare. Integrated care can help reduce hospitalizations and improve the lives of thousands of people. The PATIENTS Act would expand access to integrated care, allowing dialysis providers, nephrologists and caregivers to better coordinate care for kidney patients. Congress should pass the PATIENTS Act to expand access to integrated care for kidney patients. MyKidneyCare.org ******
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