FIRST IN PLAYBOOK — THE REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE will report raising $11.1 million in December, bringing their yearly haul to $132.5 MILLION — a figure the RNC says represents the largest non-election year haul by a party committee.
Good Thursday morning. ONE DAY CLOSER TO A GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN … THE THREAT of the government running out of spending authority is quite real. That doesn’t mean government is going to shut down. That just means that the nation’s finances are operating on a high wire, at the moment, and lots can go wrong.
Story Continued Below
AS OF RIGHT NOW, GOP leadership plans to bring the 28-day stopgap funding bill to the floor late today. Reminder: The measure contains a six-year extension of a key children’s health program, and a delay of a host of Obamacare taxes. The idea: attract some support from Democrats, and make it a bit sweeter for Republicans.
HOUSE MINORITY LEADER NANCY PELOSI is urging Democrats to vote against the measure — some will vote for it, after it’s clear Republicans have enough support to pass it. For example, Rep. Gerry Connolly, a Democrat who represents Northern Virginia, said he would vote for funding if the government was on the brink of a shutdown. He represents a whole host of federal workers. Some Democrats have privately said they would like to vote for the six-year child health insurance extension.
BIG MOMENT TO WATCH — If House Democrats jump in and support the bill after it gets across the finish line, it would be hard for Senate Democrats to vote no.
YESTERDAY EVENING, MARK MEADOWS and JIM JORDAN — the North Carolina and Ohio Republicans who run the powerful House Freedom Caucus — huddled with a whole bunch of members of the leadership, and some of their colleagues heard from the president. PATRICK MCHENRY — the party’s chief deputy whip who is leading the vote-counting effort in the absence of Steve Scalise, who is recovering from a surgery — spoke with Jordan and Meadows late Thursday night. Upon leaving the meeting — held in the Capitol — Meadows told the HuffPo’s Matt Fuller that they were making “good progress.”
WHAT MOST PEOPLE ARE BETTING — MEADOWS and JORDAN will not screw their president on the House floor on the brink of a government shutdown.
— WATCH FOR THIS: The Freedom Caucus can — if they so choose — extract a concession from leadership on something that they can frame as a victory. ONE THOUGHT … The Freedom Caucus is powerful enough to cause trouble and slow — or sometimes block — the passage of a deal. But they are clearly not powerful enough to ever completely change the contours of a debate. For example: at some point, Congress is going to pass a big budget deal and immigration passage despite their opposition. If they found one big concession each time they opposed something, that would add up.
DEFENSE HAWKS in the House largely fell into line. Why? They want the $80-billion increase in military spending that’s set to come on the other side of this deal.
AND THEN THERE’S THE SENATE … WAPO’S MIKE DEBONIS, ERICA WERNER and ED O’KEEFE: “Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters Wednesday that an ‘overwhelming number’ of Senate Democrats were opposed to another short-term funding bill without an accord on immigration.
“‘They believe if we kick the can down the road this time, we’ll be back where we started from next time, so there’s very, very strong support not to go along with their deal,’ he said. Several Democratic senators who voted for a similar bill in December, giving Republicans enough votes to avert a pre-Christmas shutdown, announced on Wednesday that they would not support another patch.
“Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) said he was ‘not willing to leave these bipartisan priorities behind and vote for a bill that gives President Trump and congressional Republicans more time to hold the country hostage.’
“At least one Senate Republican, Lindsey O. Graham of South Carolina, further complicated the GOP outlook, saying he, too, would oppose the bill. Sen. John McCain’s (Ariz.) absence because of cancer treatment left only 49 potential Republican votes for the bill, and two of those, Mike Lee (Utah) and Rand Paul (Ky.), voted against previous similar measures.” http://wapo.st/2DohR0k
FLASHBACK: SCHUMER on ABC’S “THIS WEEK” on Oct. 6, 2013: “[B]asically, it’s sort of like this. Someone goes into your house, takes your wife and children hostage and then, says, let’s negotiate over the price of your house. You know, we could do the same thing on immigration. We believe strongly in immigration reform. We could say, ‘we’re shutting down the government, we’re not gonna raise the debt ceiling, until you pass immigration reform.’ It would be governmental chaos.”
— RACHAEL BADE and CONNOR O’BRIEN: “Republicans’ no-win choice: Dreamers or defense” http://politi.co/2DqP7mB
ABOUT THAT GRAHAM-TRUMP DETENTE — “Trump’s on-and-off relationship with Graham hits the skids,” by Seung Min Kim and Burgess Everett: “Lindsey Graham and Donald Trump were daily phone partners in the throes of the Obamacare repeal debate. But now — in a similarly heated legislative battle, this time on immigration — Graham’s direct line to the president has gone quiet, with the two men last speaking on Saturday. Instead, the South Carolina Republican is appealing to Trump publicly through televised hearings and blaming White House aides as he tries to keep the president’s ear. It’s a critical relationship in the long-running immigration saga: Graham is perhaps the only Republican who had the combination of Trump’s trust, enough juice with Democrats to cut a deal and a line of communication with hard-charging Trump adviser Stephen Miller.
“After cozying up to Trump for months, Graham now finds himself again in a confrontational role with the president after the now-infamous White House session in which Trump used strong and, according to some participants, profane language to describe immigrants from African nations, El Salvador and Haiti. Graham objected to remarks he said were made during the meeting.” http://politi.co/2Dh87AI
MIXED MESSAGES FROM THE W.H. — JOHN KELLY BEHIND THE SCENES — “Kelly calls some of Trump’s campaign pledges on immigration and wall ‘uninformed,’ meeting attendees say,” by WaPo’s Ed O’Keefe: “White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly told Democratic lawmakers Wednesday that some of the hard-line immigration policies President Trump advocated during the campaign were ‘uninformed,’ that the United States will never construct a wall along its entire southern border and that Mexico will never pay for it, according to people familiar with the meeting. The comments were out of sync with remarks by Trump, who in recent days has reiterated his desire to build a border wall that would be funded by Mexico ‘indirectly through NAFTA.’” http://wapo.st/2DhfojX
— TRUMP SPEAKS … at 6:16 a.m.: “The Wall is the Wall, it has never changed or evolved from the first day I conceived of it. Parts will be, of necessity, see through and it was never intended to be built in areas where there is natural protection such as mountains, wastelands or tough rivers or water…..” … at 6:25 a.m.: “….The Wall will be paid for, directly or indirectly, or through longer term reimbursement, by Mexico, which has a ridiculous $71 billion dollar trade surplus with the U.S. The $20 billion dollar Wall is “peanuts” compared to what Mexico makes from the U.S. NAFTA is a bad joke!”
HAPPENING TODAY — SPEAKER PAUL RYAN is speaking this morning at the Center for Strategic and International Studies to talk about military readiness and a caps deal. Provided excerpt: “An adequate budget agreement fully funds our troops. That means lifting the spending caps that disproportionately hamstring the defense budget, holding our national security hostage. The Pentagon cannot plan for the future if it keeps operating under short-term spending bills. The days of budgetary uncertainty and underfunding need to end.
“Doing so will allow us to modernize our forces and maintain a forward presence, bolstered by commanders having the rapid response capabilities they need. Twice now, the House has passed an appropriations measure to back up our commitments, but it remains stalled because of opposition from Senate Democrats. They need to stop playing politics with this. Our men and women in uniform are not bargaining chips—they are our nation’s best and brightest, who put their lives on the line for us.”
****** A message from the National Retail Federation: Retail is community. From boats and flashlights to temporary housing, Academy Sports and Outdoors in Houston came to the rescue of its customers — and its city — when they needed it most. Watch the story. ******
TRUMP SPEAKS … REUTERS: — “Exclusive: Trump accuses Russia of helping North Korea evade sanctions; says U.S. needs more missile defense,” by Steve Holland, Roberta Rampton, and Jeff Mason: “U.S. President Donald Trump complained on Wednesday that Russia was helping North Korea to evade international sanctions, signaling frustration with a country he had hoped to forge friendly relations with after his 2016 election win. ‘Russia is not helping us at all with North Korea,’ Trump said during an Oval Office interview with Reuters. ‘What China is helping us with, Russia is denting. In other words, Russia is making up for some of what China is doing.’” http://reut.rs/2mPOZU2
— “Exclusive: Trump takes hard line on immigration, rejects ‘horrible’ bipartisan plan,” by Reuters’ Ayesha Rascoe and Roberta Rampton: “President Donald Trump on Wednesday aligned himself solidly with conservative Republicans on immigration, criticizing a proposed bipartisan deal as ‘horrible’ on U.S. border security and ‘very, very weak’ on reforms for the legal immigration system. The Senate proposal — aimed at addressing Democrats’ demands for protections for young adults brought to the United States illegally as children and dubbed ‘Dreamers’ — fell far short of what most Republicans believe needs to happen, the president said. ‘It’s the opposite of what I campaigned for,’ Trump told Reuters in an interview.” http://reut.rs/2rgqW5v
SIREN — “GOP reels after ‘electric shock’ defeat,” by Elena Schneider: “Gov. Scott Walker called the results a ‘wake-up call for Republicans in Wisconsin.’ But the alarm has been sounding for the past year — long before a state Senate special election delivered a solidly Republican seat to Wisconsin Democrats on Tuesday. Since 2016, Democrats have outperformed Hillary Clinton’s performance in more than two-thirds of state legislative special elections across the nation. And in the six congressional special elections held in 2017, Democrats overperformed in five of them — and that list doesn’t even the December pickup of a Senate seat in ruby-red Alabama.
“Democrats also made gains in off-year elections in New Jersey and Virginia — coming within a single vote in one district, or a random drawing of lots, from erasing the GOP majority in the Virginia state House of Delegates. All of it, together with the party’s latest victory in a rural and suburban seat in western Wisconsin that backed Trump by 17 points, is unnerving Republicans from Madison to Washington. ‘This special election hit the Wisconsin GOP like an electric shock,’ said Charlie Sykes, a former conservative radio host in Wisconsin. ‘In particular, they’re very worried about women. They are losing women, suburban women, and if you extrapolate across the country, you have a real problem.’” http://politi.co/2rdMKi0
— “Inside Obama’s midterm campaign plans,” by Isaac Dovere: “Since leaving office, Barack Obama has struggled with how to do what no previous president has: take on his successor. Over the past year, he’s appeared at rallies, done a robocall, made a few endorsements. His office in Washington’s West End neighborhood, about a mile from the White House, has become a destination for Democrats looking to tap the former president for advice. But with the midterms approaching, people close to him say he’ll shift into higher gear: campaigning, focusing his endorsements on down ballot candidates, and headlining fundraisers. He’ll activate his 15,000-member campaign alumni association for causes and candidates he supports — including the 40 who are running for office themselves.
“He’s already strategizing behind the scenes with [DNC] chair Tom Perez and Eric Holder, who’s chairing his redistricting effort. Throughout, Obama is determined not to become the foil that he can see President Donald Trump clearly wants, and resist being the face of the Resistance for his own party.” http://politi.co/2DoZRmf
2020 WATCH — “Senate Democrats Make Hard Turn Left in Warming Up for 2020 Race,” by NYT’s Sheryl Gay Stolberg: “It was a made-for-TV moment, perfect for a presidential campaign advertisement. His fists clenched and his voice rising, Senator Cory Booker, Democrat of New Jersey, delivered a 10-minute verbal thrashing to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen this week, recalling his ‘tears of rage’ when he learned that President Trump had used vulgarities to describe African nations. Not to be outdone, Senator Kamala Harris, Democrat of California, who was seated next to Mr. Booker, also skewered Ms. Nielsen, suggesting that Americans could draw a ‘reasonable inference’ that she is racist.
“The next presidential election is nearly three years away, but in the Capitol the race is already unfolding, with no fewer than six senators — Mr. Booker and Ms. Harris, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Kirsten E. Gillibrand of New York and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota — eyeing the Democratic nomination in 2020, with each angling to get to the left of the others. That is not making life easy for the 10 Democratic senators who must run for re-election this year in states carried by President Trump — so much so that one of them, Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, lamented openly in a recent interview that her colleagues running for president were ‘all trying to find their base.’” http://nyti.ms/2DrfHvW
THE FAKE NEWS AWARDS — JASON SCHWARTZ: “Trump gives out his ‘Fake News Awards’ to CNN, New York Times, Washington Post, others”: “President Donald Trump tweeted out the winners of his ‘Fake News Awards’ on Wednesday night, proclaiming, ‘And the FAKE NEWS winners are…’, with a link to the [RNC] website. There, an unsigned entry opened by saying, ‘2017 was a year of unrelenting bias, unfair news coverage, and even downright fake news.’
“Rather than specific awards, per se, the site listed 10 news stories from a range of mainstream outlets, including CNN, the New York Times, Washington Post that the Trump viewed as false. The entries focused on stories where the media outlets had admitted errors and issued corrections, like those by ABC News’ Brian Ross, who was suspended and then reassigned for an erroneous report on Trump and former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
“Other entries included Time’s mistaken report about Martin Luther King Jr.’s bust being removed from the oval office and CNN’s incorrect reporting on when Donald Trump, Jr. had access to hacked Wikileaks documents. Entry number 11 was not another news story, but Trump’s claim that ‘Russian collusion is perhaps the greatest hoax perpetrated on the American people. THERE IS NO COLLUSION.’” http://politi.co/2mPTrCu … The “awards” list http://bit.ly/2DfvEC8
FOR YOUR RADAR — “U.S. troops will stay in Syria to counter ‘strategic’ threat from Iran,” by WaPo’s Liz Sly and Carol Morello: “Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday committed the United States to an indefinite military presence in Syria, citing a range of policy goals that extend far beyond the defeat of the Islamic State as conditions for American troops to go home. … Speaking in a major Syria-policy address hosted at Stanford University by the Hoover Institution, Tillerson listed vanquishing al-Qaeda, ousting Iran and securing a peace settlement that excludes President Bashar al-Assad as among the goals of a continued presence in Syria of about 2,000 American troops currently deployed in a Kurdish-controlled corner of northeastern Syria.” http://wapo.st/2rgr1pP
HEADLINE REPUBLICANS LOVE — WSJ FRONT PAGE: “Apple to Pay $38 Billion in Taxes on Cash Overseas, Build New U.S. Campus,” by Tripp Mickle: “Apple Inc. said it would pay a one-time tax of $38 billion on its overseas cash holdings and ramp up spending in the U.S., as it seeks to emphasize its contributions to the American economy after years of taking criticism for outsourcing manufacturing to China. …
“Apple said it would invest $30 billion in capital spending in the U.S. over five years that would create more than 20,000 jobs. The total includes a new campus, which initially will house technical support for customers, and $10 billion toward data centers across the country. It also will expand from $1 billion to $5 billion a fund it established last year for investing in advanced manufacturing in the U.S.” http://on.wsj.com/2DfyS8O
NUMBERS TRUMP ISN’T GOING TO LIKE — “Poll: Under Trump, global approval of U.S. leadership hits historical low,” by Cristiano Lima: “Other nations’ approval of U.S. leadership under President Donald Trump hit a historical low of 30 percent in 2017, according to a Gallup poll released Thursday. The measure, the lowest since Gallup began tracking it worldwide in 2007, signals an 18-point drop from a year earlier, when 48 percent approved of the national influence under former President Barack Obama. It is the single largest year-to-year drop in approval of U.S. leadership — or of any country examined — to date. The steep decline, researchers said, can be largely attributed to the shift in leadership in the West Wing.” http://politi.co/2mTnn0v
BANNON WATCH — “House Republicans seethe at tight-lipped Bannon,” by Kyle Cheney: “Republican lawmakers fumed at Steve Bannon Wednesday, and some threatened to hold the former Trump White House strategist in contempt of Congress a day after he stonewalled the House’s Russia investigation. In the latest political battle for the deposed Brietbart News chief, House Republicans showed little patience with a political agitator who has often denounced them as Washington insiders—and who, according to one GOP lawmaker, even suggested Wednesday that their Russia inquiries serve a larger effort to delegitimize his former boss, President Donald Trump.
“Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said he might support a contempt citation for Bannon if he continues to buck questions on Russian election interference. ‘I have contempt for Bannon anyway,’ King said.” http://politi.co/2mRlG3y
TRUMP’S THURSDAY — The president is meeting with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in the morning followed by a trip to the Pentagon to meet with senior military leadership. This afternoon he will fly to Pittsburgh for a tour and speech at H&K Equipment. He will then return to D.C.
THE NYT EDITORIAL BOARD is running “letters from readers who voted for Mr. Trump but are now disillusioned, and from those reacting to today’s letters and our decision to provide Trump voters this platform.” They are doing this in lieu of an editorial today. http://nyti.ms/2rmdBZm
DIGGING IN TO TRUMP’S PHYSICAL — “Trump’s Physical Revealed Serious Heart Concerns, Outside Experts Say,” by NYT’s Mike Shear and Gina Kolata: “Cardiologists not associated with the White House said Wednesday that President Trump’s physical exam revealed serious heart concerns, including very high levels of so-called bad cholesterol, which raises the risk that Mr. Trump could have a heart attack while in office. Dr. Ronny L. Jackson, a rear admiral and the White House physician, said Tuesday in his report on the president’s medical condition that Mr. Trump was in ‘excellent’ cardiac health despite having an LDL cholesterol level of 143, well above the desired level of 100 or less.
“Dr. David Maron, the director of preventive cardiology at Stanford University’s medical school, said Wednesday that it was alarming that the president’s LDL levels remain above 140 even though he is taking 10 milligrams of Crestor, a powerful drug that is used to lower cholesterol levels to well below 100. Dr. Maron said he would ‘definitely’ be worried about Mr. Trump’s risk for having a heart attack if the president were one of his patients. Asked if Mr. Trump is in perfect health, Dr. Maron offered a blunt reply: ‘God, no.’” http://nyti.ms/2mICIQE
— “Exclusive: Exercise? I get more than people think, Trump says,” by Reuters’ Jeff Mason and Steve Holland: “Do not expect U.S. President Donald Trump to hit the gym, despite his doctor’s orders. He gets plenty of exercise on the golf course and at the White House complex, the president told Reuters on Wednesday. ‘I get exercise. I mean I walk, I this, I that,’ Trump, 71, said during an Oval Office interview. ‘I run over to a building next door. I get more exercise than people think.’” http://reut.rs/2DJReQj
BEYOND THE BELTWAY — FROM ILLINOIS PLAYBOOKER NATASHA KORECKI: “Gov. Bruce Rauner’s campaign is dipping deep into the campaign war chest for this one. After billionaire Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker complained that a new TV ad featured a ‘selectively edited’ recording of a 2008 conversation between Pritzker and Rod Blagojevich, Rauner’s campaign decided to go full throttle. This weekend, the Rauner campaign bought airtime to play all 11 minutes of the FBI wiretap conversation between Pritzker and Blagojevich.
“The ad will appear in all major media markets in the state on Saturday and Sunday, according to the campaign. The ad appears to be 14 minutes and 15 seconds long though in at least one market near St. Louis, the campaign reserved a 30-minute spot. Rauner, the most endangered Republican incumbent governor in the country is hoping to avoid a match-up against Pritzker in November. First, Pritzker must win a March 20 primary.” The ad http://bit.ly/2DJtT15
SPY GAMES — “Hunting a C.I.A. Mole, Agents Gambled and Let a Suspect Return to China,” by NYT’s Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman: “Face to face with a former C.I.A. officer in 2013, federal agents took a calculated risk. They did not confront him about the classified information they had found in his luggage. And they did not ask what they most wanted to know: whether he was a spy for China. It was a life-or-death call. … A mole hunt was underway, and the former officer, Jerry Chun Shing Lee, was the prime suspect. The F.B.I. could have arrested him on the spot for possessing classified information. But inside a secretive government task force, investigators argued against it, former American officials recalled. If Mr. Lee was a turncoat, arresting him on an unrelated charge would tip off the Chinese and allow them to cover their tracks. If he was not the mole — and some argued strenuously that he was not — an arrest might allow the real traitor to escape.” http://nyti.ms/2DtEcbK
AN ASSISTANT’S REVENGE — “Assistant to Goldman Sachs Executive Stole and Sold His Rare Wines, U.S. Says,” by NYT’s Matthew Haag: “For a more tranquil evening, [David] Solomon enjoys fine food and fine wine, and is known to arrive at steakhouses with a rare vintage from his cellar. For years, Mr. Solomon, a co-president at Goldman Sachs, tasked his personal assistant with helping manage a world-class collection of wine. But his assistant, Nicolas De-Meyer, was doing much more than simply stocking his boss’s wine cellar in the Hamptons, federal authorities said. Mr. De-Meyer stole some of the most coveted French vintages — worth more than $1.2 million — in Mr. Solomon’s collection and sold them, according to an indictment unsealed on Wednesday in United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.” http://nyti.ms/2mJDwF3
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HOLLYWOODLAND — TICK TOCK — “‘Harvey’s Concern Was Who Did Him In’: Inside Harvey Weinstein’s Frantic Final Days,” by Adam Ciralsky in Vanity Fair’s Hollywood issue: “[A]s Weinstein saw that his time and his options were running out, he began to scramble. And as revealed here for the first time, he decided to take matters into his own hands. Weinstein and a coterie of loyalists — according to a dozen current and former T.W.C. employees and Weinstein advisers, as well as the initial findings of an internal company investigation — would allegedly spend his last days at the company searching for and trying to delete documents; absconding with others; surveilling ex-employees’ online communications; and seeking to discover who, in the end, had orchestrated his downfall. …
“Nicole Quenqua, T.W.C.’s head of publicity, said she had been kept in the dark as well. Seven days before the Times piece would become public, Weinstein invited her to join him at the Tribeca Grill, Robert De Niro’s restaurant downstairs from the T.W.C. offices. And even though Quenqua was in charge of publicity and marketing, it was the first time, she said, that her boss had opened up to her, if cryptically, about the forthcoming news stories about him. ‘Everything’s going to be fine,’ she recalled him assuring her as he ate a serving of sorbet covered with colored sprinkles. ‘I didn’t do anything wrong. I mean, I might have done some things that are immoral. But I didn’t do anything that was illegal.’
“In those frantic final days, Weinstein’s appearance — haggard in the best of times — was deteriorating. ‘He looked awful and could not focus,’ said one colleague, who added that the producer was under tremendous financial pressure. ‘He was burning through [money]’ on attorneys and other advisers and, whether related or not, was working to unload some of his real estate. (He reportedly became so strapped for funds that he requested suspension of child-support payments to two daughters from his marriage to Eve Chilton, a former assistant of his.)” http://bit.ly/2mMeWTE
MEDIAWATCH — THE QUESTION EVERYBODY IS ASKING — “A porn star had a racy tale about Trump. Why are we only learning about it now?” by WaPo’s Paul Farhi: “Several journalists surely knew who Stormy Daniels was in 2016, and it probably wasn’t because they’d seen her in one of the many porn films she’d made. The adult-film actress was on the radar of a number of mainstream news outlets in the waning days of the presidential campaign. Reporters from ABC, Fox News, the Daily Beast and Slate.com were pursuing a potentially explosive story: that Daniels had allegedly had an affair with Donald Trump in 2006, only months after Trump’s wife, Melania, had given birth to their son, Barron. …
“Why wasn’t the story reported at the time, when it might have intensified questions surrounding Trump’s character just before voters went to the polls? Journalists say they held back because they couldn’t independently corroborate key elements of Daniels’s account, including in one instance from Daniels herself. The story, in other words, failed to rise to journalistic standards, never mind that it involved a man who regularly attacks the news media for lacking standards.” http://wapo.st/2DiyGWf
–“Sources: Rupert Murdoch Was Hospitalized With Serious Back Injury,” by Vanity Fair’s Gabe Sherman: “Rupert Murdoch suffered a serious back injury while vacationing on his son Lachlan’s yacht in the Caribbean earlier this month, three sources familiar with the incident told Vanity Fair. The 86-year-old media mogul was helicoptered off the boat and was, until recently, recovering in a Los Angeles hospital, one of the sources said. The incident is said to have happened shortly after the New Year’s holiday.
“Last Friday night, Murdoch sent an email to his senior management informing them of the accident: ‘I hope you all are having a great start to 2018. I suspect it has been better than mine,’ he wrote, according to a source who’s seen the email. ‘I am writing to tell you that last week I had a sailing accident and suffered a painful back injury. While I am well on the road to recovery, I have to work from home for some weeks. In the meantime, you’ll be hearing from me by email, phone and text!’” http://bit.ly/2DmcbUh
— “Shari Redstone Wants New CBS Directors, Renews Push for Merger With Viacom,” by WSJ’s Keach Hagey and Joe Flint: “Shari Redstone is advocating for new blood on the board of CBS Corp. as she renews her push to merge the company with Viacom Inc., according to people familiar with the matter. CBS is planning to propose replacing several of its board members at its annual meeting in May, and Ms. Redstone is already gathering names of possible candidates, people familiar with the matter said.
“Ms. Redstone, vice chairman of CBS and Viacom, is also dissatisfied with current succession planning at CBS and has suggested there is a general lack of long-range strategic planning at the company … Earlier this month, Ms. Redstone reached out to CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves to jump-start talks about merging CBS and Viacom — potentially as soon as this quarter … Mr. Moonves has resisted the idea in the past and still has concerns.” http://on.wsj.com/2EUikDH
— @agearan: “2 years ago today WaPo reporter Jason Rezaian was released from an unjust 18-month imprisonment in Iran. His return to reporting was announced today – read him in WorldViews. From the newsroom note: ‘For reasons that require little explanation, this is a moment for celebration.’”
POOL REPORT FROM MICHAEL WOLFF’s book party — Per Michael Calderone in Morning Media: “Wolff appeared Wednesday night in his … natural habitat, an Upper West Side book party surrounded by New York media and publishing types. … Steve Rubin, president and publisher of Henry Holt … recalled a December 2016 dinner in which Wolff — who had just signed a separate book deal with Holt — said he was invited to spend time with the incoming White House senior staff. Wolff later described how that access initially didn’t materialize and recalled the ‘humiliating experience’ of sitting all day on a West Wing couch just waiting for people to talk to him. ‘Everybody would look at you. You were kind of a pathetic person,’ Wolff said.
“Of course, Wolff gained access at the White House … and the finished product became a runaway bestseller and a future TV series — and the rights have been sold in 35 countries. Wolff said the book wouldn’t have come together without his publisher’s guidance throughout the process. ‘And for that I will forever thank you,’ he said, ‘as will my heirs.’”
SPOTTED at the party: Janice Min, Ann Coulter, Ed Epstein, Steve Hilton, David Rhodes, Peter Godwin, Niki Christoff, Juleanna Glover, Michael Grynbaum, Dylan Byers, Shawn McCreesh, Ian Prasad Philbrick, David Margolick, Andrew Wiley, Vanessa Grigoriadis, Ira Rosen, Eric Kuhn, Alex Koppelman, Sriram Krishnan, Lawrence O’Donnell, Brian Stelter, Lydia Polgreen, Steve Brill, Lisa Dallos, Joe Pompeo, Tammy Haddad, Emma Keller, Alex Koppelman, Pat Eisemann, James Ledbetter, Oliver Darcy, Larry Kramer, Matt Stone, Brian Braiker, Hillary Frey, Ed Pilkington, Emma Cline, Eric Nelson, Tim Wu, Lucia Moses, Keach Hagey, Maxwell Tani, Tina Andreadis, Brad Grossman, Don Weisberg and Andrew Wylie.
SPOTTED: Hope Hicks having dinner with her dad Paul last night at Momofuku in City Center … at Acqua al 2 last night (separately): Sen. Bob Menendez (R-N.J.) and Rep. Andy Barr (R-Ky.)
BIRTHWEEK (was yesterday): Robert E. Lewis, Jr., VP of legislative and political affairs at the Financial Services Institute, turned 39 (hat tip: wife Aisha)
BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Brian Callanan, deputy general counsel at Treasury. A book he’s currently reading: “I’m in the middle of Jane Jacobs’s classic, ‘The Death and Life of Great American Cities.’ Jacobs shows that the vitality and safety of the city depend to a large degree on spontaneous order – not comprehensive planning by self-appointed experts. The arguments in the book still resonate.” Read his Playbook Plus Q&A: http://politi.co/2rf8fPO
BIRTHDAYS: former Gov. Martin O’Malley is 55. He’s celebrating by working and “attending a fundraiser for states attorney candidate Mike Lyles in Prince George’s in the morning” (h/t Lis Smith) … Brennan Hart, acting chief of staff at GSA (h/t Emily J. McBride) … Ellen Eckert … Ben Adams is 37 … JoAnne Wasserman, creative director at the NYC Department of Education … former NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous, now a partner at Kapor Capital, is 45 … former Sen. Paul Kirk (D-Mass.) is 8-0 … Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) is 67 … Sandy Cannold, EP for CNBC’s “Power Lunch” (h/t Brian Steel) … Anna Morris, senior policy adviser at Treasury … Politico’s Lindsay Monaghan … Samara Yudof, SVP at GMMB … Caroline Ross, campaign manager for Tia Walbridge and an Obama WH alum … Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas) is 75 … Gadi Dechter, head of the public affairs practice in APCO’s DC office … former Rep. Mike Michaud (D-Maine) is 63 … Alex Korey, managing director at KK Travels Worldwide … Beth DeFalco …
… Paul Equale … Allie Wright, manager of media and comms at Save the Children Action Network … Ryan Taylor, comms director for Sen. Roger Wicker … Jonathan Hayes … NBC News’ Jane Timm, celebrating in New Orleans with her husband Matthew Cooley, who she married last fall – wedding pic by Lauren Kallen http://bit.ly/2DoIwct … Laura Maloney, press secretary for Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Ct.) (h/t Chris Harris) … David Jacobs, publisher of the Boston Guardian … Matthew Kemeny … NewsChannel 8 anchor Dave Lucas … freelance journalist Yudhijit Bhattacharjee, author of “The Spy Who Couldn’t Spell,” is 45 … Sarah Muntzing (h/t sister Lily) … Josh Orton … Abdul Wahid Sanjar … Bryce Cullinane is 32 … Craig Shaffer … Carly Lewis … Kara McKee … George Nassar … Tamir Goodman … George Aldrich … Nan Powers Varoga … Andrew Sullivan, partner at Hudson Pacific consulting firm (h/ts Teresa Vilmain)
****** A message from the National Retail Federation: Retail is community. From boats and flashlights to temporary housing, Academy Sports and Outdoors in Houston came to the rescue of its customers — and its city — when they needed it most. Watch the story. ******
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