IF YOU HAVE A LEGISLATIVE PRIORITY, this is the week to bring it up, as Congress has its last must-pass bill of the year on the floor. The massive omnibus spending package — which will fund the government through the end of September — could include language on everything from campaign finance to pesticides to labor policy. It is scheduled come out today. That will give Congress five days to get it through both chambers. What can go wrong?
Happy Monday. SITUATIONAL AWARENESS: SEN. BOB CORKER (R-TENN.) will meet with MIKE POMPEO this afternoon as he begins to make rounds before his confirmation hearings. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which Corker chairs, will hold hearings on Pompeo’s nomination for secretary of state in April.
FIRST IN PLAYBOOK … BIG KAMALA HARRIS PROFILE — Vogue’s April issue: “Dreaming Big: After a year in Washington, Kamala Harris has proved she doesn’t back down from a fight. How far can the star senator go? Abby Aguirre reports”: “[I]n the seventeen months since Donald Trump was elected president, Harris has been propelled into an altogether different stratum of political celebrity—one that raises certain questions about her future. (Questions she is well practiced at deflecting. ‘I honestly am focused on 2018,’ she tells me when I ask her for her thoughts about a presidential run. But you haven’t ruled it out, I say. ‘I’m not focused on it,’ she repeats.) …
“Harris has become a force due to her authority on the very issues Trump warps for his own gain: crime and immigration. A robust body of research has established that immigrants are less likely than native-born citizens to commit crimes, including violent ones. As the state’s former top cop, Harris knows this better than anyone. From the moment President Trump delivered his inaugural address, linking immigration to crime in a macabre vision of ‘American carnage,’ Harris was—to put it bluntly—uniquely poised to call bulls***.” http://bit.ly/2tZaGqX
— A BAD HEADLINE IN CALIFORNIA … L.A. TIMES: “Villaraigosa and his campaigns have benefited from groups that critics say prey upon the poor, people of color” http://lat.ms/2podW9S
EARLY AND OFTEN … SENATE MAJORITY PAC just reported $301,602 in spending to boost Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and dump on her opponent, Josh Hawley.
DEPT. OF TRUMPOLOGY …
— MAGGIE HABERMAN in the NYT, “Newly Emboldened, Trump Says What He Really Feels”: “A dozen people close to Mr. Trump or the White House, including current and former aides and longtime friends, described him as newly emboldened to say what he really feels and to ignore the cautions of those around him. …
“‘This could be the manifestation of growing confidence,’ said Roger J. Stone Jr., one of the president’s oldest confidantes. Projecting strength, control and power, whether as a New York developer or domineering reality television host, has always been vital to Mr. Trump. But in his first year in the White House, according to his friends, he found himself feeling tentative and anxious, intimidated by the role of president, a fact that he never openly admitted but that they could sense, people close to the president said.
“This, after all, is someone for whom leaving the security of Trump Tower and moving to Washington and the White House was a daunting prospect. Even now, as he has grown more comfortable in the job, he rarely leaves the White House unless he is certain the environment will be friendly, such as at one of his own properties. Rallies are rarely scheduled in areas that could invite large protests. … Some of Mr. Trump’s allies have said that Mr. Trump was trapped in a West Wing cage built by Mr. Kelly, and has finally broken loose.” http://nyti.ms/2IAgLx6
— OLIVIA NUZZI on the cover of New York Magazine, “What Hope Hicks Knows: The departure of the Trump whisperer has left the White House in even deeper chaos. Which surely pleases some outsiders angling to get back in” (headline on the cover: “White House Snakepit! Tabloid Triangle Rocks Oval Office! What Hope Hicks Learned in Washington)”: “While others were left wondering what the president was thinking, Hicks could often hear him shouting, even with her door closed. ‘Hope!’ he’d scream. ‘Hopey!’ ‘Hopester!’ ‘Get in here!’
“Many requests were mundane. ‘He doesn’t write anything down,’ one source close to the White House told me. … A second source who meets regularly with the president told me that Hicks acted almost as an embodiment of the faculties the Trump lacked — like memory. ‘He’ll be talking, and then right in the middle he’ll be like, “Hope, what was that … thing?”’
“When the name of a senator or congressman or journalist came up, Trump would prompt Hicks to provide a history of their interactions, asking, ‘Do we like him?’ ‘And she f***ing remembers!’ (Trump has said his own memory is ‘one of the greatest memories of all time.’) … For as long as he’d been in politics, Lewandowski had been defined by two qualities: his ruthless pursuit of an enemy’s destruction and always having an enemy. … There were plenty of reasons for Lewandowski to consider Porter his enemy. Whatever was or wasn’t true about his relationship with Hicks, Lewandowski’s unusual preoccupation with her was well established. ‘He has, sort of, Single White Male characteristics,’ a source who had worked with Hicks before the campaign told me.
“In the fall, he began asking around, trying to figure out whom she was dating. ‘I think that he thinks he should control her,’ a second source said. ‘He got wind that she was dating Porter, and he could not handle that,’ a third source, who is close to the White House and worked with Lewandowski, said. ‘There were still raw feelings.’ …
“[J]ust as Kelly didn’t understand Jared and Ivanka, he also didn’t understand Hicks, and he sometimes blamed her for habits Trump had been forming for 71 years. ‘He was extraordinarily dismissive of her. He would refer to her as ‘the high-schooler,’ he would joke about how she was inexperienced, she was in over her head, she was immature,’ a former senior White House official told me.” http://nym.ag/2tWZOKd … The cover http://bit.ly/2DDz9Bu
— OLIVIA TWEETED: “I spent some time with Hope Hicks during the last several weeks. She declined to speak on the record. This is the result of interviews with more than 30 current & former senior White House officials, campaign staffers, & sources close to the president”.
JUST POSTED – “Inside California’s War on Trump: As the state resists the White House on issues from immigration to climate change, Governor Jerry Brown is determined to avoid a pitched battle,” by Connie Bruck in The New Yorker: “Brown has said that he follows ‘the canoe theory’ of politics: ‘You paddle a little on the left and a little on the right, and you paddle a straight course.’ His public image is similarly enigmatic: in the seventies, he dated Linda Ronstadt and Natalie Wood, and yet he managed to project the austerity of a monk. …
“When I asked [his wife Anne] Gust Brown whether they might launch another campaign instead, she said, ‘Who knows? I’ve learned to just take life as it comes, right?’ She added that she thought Brown would be ‘an extraordinary President.’” http://bit.ly/2DCYtYH
IT HAPPENS TO ALL OF US … “Engine failure forces Ivanka, Jared’s helicopter to return to airport,” by CNN’s Noah Gray: “A helicopter carrying Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner had to return to an airport in Washington on Thursday after one of its engines failed, two law enforcement sources told CNN. President Trump’s daughter and son-in-law were flying from Washington to New York on Thursday afternoon in a two-engine helicopter when one engine failed, causing the chopper to return to Washington. The helicopter safely made it back to Ronald Reagan National Airport and the couple scrambled to get on a commercial flight instead. The sources could not say why the couple were flying to New York via a helicopter instead of a plane.” http://cnn.it/2GHaYFG
COMING ATTRACTIONS … “White House tweaks plan to seek death penalty as part of opioid response,” by Dan Diamond: “President Donald Trump’s plan to fight the opioid epidemic will call for the death penalty in some cases, White House officials said Sunday, scaling back the administration’s plan to punish drug dealers. ‘The Department of Justice will seek the death penalty against drug traffickers when appropriate under current law,’ said Andrew Bremberg, the White House’s director of the Domestic Policy Council. White House officials referred follow-up questions to DOJ. An earlier version of the plan, obtained by POLITICO last week, would have called for the death penalty in some cases involving drug dealers, too.” http://politi.co/2pnntid
— “Hundreds of millions in state opioid cash left unspent,” by Rachana Pradhan and Brianna Ehley: “Congress sent states hundreds of millions of dollars to fight an opioid crisis claiming more than 100 lives a day — money they’ve largely been unable to spend after a year. Mixed signals from the Trump administration on how to use the money and state challenges ramping up their efforts have left untouched more than three-quarters of the $500 million Congress set aside under the 21st Century Cures Act in late 2016.” http://politi.co/2IAsBY5
ABOUT MICHAEL FLYNN — “What Michael Flynn Could Tell the Russia Investigators: The former national security adviser mingled business with government. That could help Robert Mueller look for similar overlaps among Trump insiders,” by Bloomberg’s David Kocieniewski and Lauren Etter: “Flynn’s troubles trace back to a previously unreported million-dollar contract for computer chips forged with a friend, Bijan Kian, a suave, Iranian-born businessman. A former governor at the Export-Import Bank, Kian was chairman of a Persian cultural nonprofit group, the Nowruz Commission, that gave him entrée into high Washington circles.
“He built a relationship with former CIA Director James Woolsey and, in 2013, used it to get Flynn, then the Pentagon’s top intelligence officer, to support his computer chip company’s bid for a contract. The next year, when Flynn was forced out by the Obama administration, his friendship with Kian blossomed into a business partnership. Kian brought him into the chip company, GreenZone Systems Inc., as a board member.” https://bloom.bg/2HLrfc7
YOU’RE INVITED … Join us for our first Playbook University in North Carolina with GOV. ROY COOPER on March 29 at Penn Pavilion at Duke University. Doors open at 11:45 a.m. RSVP http://bit.ly/2IqsO09
TOP TALKER — RON LAUDER in the NYT: “Israel’s Self-Inflicted Wounds”: “[T]he Jewish democratic state faces two grave threats that I believe could endanger its very existence. The first threat is the possible demise of the two-state solution. I am conservative and a Republican, and I have supported the Likud party since the 1980s. But the reality is that 13 million people live between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. And almost half of them are Palestinian. If current trends continue, Israel will face a stark choice: Grant Palestinians full rights and cease being a Jewish state or rescind their rights and cease being a democracy. To avoid these unacceptable outcomes, the only path forward is the two-state solution.” http://nyti.ms/2G3Ijge
QUOTE OF THE DAY from SAUDI ARABIAN PRINCE MOHAMMED BIN SALMAN to NORAH O’DONNELL on CBS’S “60 MINUTES”: “As far as my private expenses, I’m a rich person and not a poor person. I’m not Gandhi or Mandela.” Full interview http://cbsn.ws/2poWFNM
REP. MARK POCAN (D-WIS.) on offering ANDREW MCCABE a job on MSNBC’s “KASIE DC” last night: “We actually put a legitimate offer beyond the tweet, which is we have some very nonpartisan work around election integrity. The bottom line is, I think people are just tired of the way this president operates, whether it’d be — when he tweets like a petulant man-child or when he’s a ruthless demagogue, like he is here, you know, to fire someone literally a couple days before their retirement, that’s attacking a person and their family, their pension.
“And people are just so tired of that. This president lacks human — the human qualities of compassion and everything that we expect to have in a president. And he doesn’t do it. So, all I’m trying to do is say, look, I don’t care if he comes and work for me or anyone, but we should make sure that he has his pension at minimum. And what the president did was just wrong.” http://on.msnbc.com/2DClDhG
TRUMP’S MONDAY — The president and first lady will head to Manchester, N.H. this afternoon. Trump will give a speech at Manchester Community College about combating the opioid crisis. They are scheduled to fly back to D.C. after the speech.
SUSAN GLASSER talks with REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CALIF.) in the latest “Global Politico” podcast. http://politi.co/2FTxBWh
CONFIRMATION WATCH … TOP-ED – JOHN KIRIAKOU in WaPo, “I went to prison for disclosing the CIA’s torture. Gina Haspel helped cover it up”: “Putting Haspel in charge of the CIA would undo attempts by the agency — and the nation — to repudiate torture. The message this sends to the CIA workforce is simple: Engage in war crimes, in crimes against humanity, and you’ll get promoted. Don’t worry about the law. Don’t worry about ethics. Don’t worry about morality or the fact that torture doesn’t even work. Go ahead and do it anyway. We’ll cover for you. And you can destroy the evidence, too. …
“Mike Pompeo, the outgoing CIA director and secretary of state designee, has lauded her ‘uncanny ability to get things done and inspire those around her.’ I’m sure that’s true for some. But many of the rest of us who knew and worked with Haspel at the CIA called her ‘Bloody Gina.’” http://wapo.st/2pmPTrK
2020 WATCH — “Curtain rises in New Hampshire with president’s appearance,” by WaPo’s John Wagner in Manchester, N.H.: “Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) received a standing ovation from a crowd of business leaders and political junkies here on Friday after decrying the ‘degradation of the United States and her values’ by the current occupant of the White House. Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), who ran for the GOP nomination in 2016, will return to the nation’s first primary state early next month for a ‘fireside chat’ at a college in Henniker.
“And on Monday, President Trump — whose New Hampshire primary win two years ago set him on a course for the presidency — is slated to make an appearance in the state for the first time since 2016. The next presidential primaries here are nearly two years away, but the unusual flurry of activity is stoking speculation about whether a sitting president could face a serious challenge from within his own party for the first time in a quarter-century. … ‘I’m certain that Trump will draw a serious primary challenger,’ said Fergus Cullen, a former chairman of the New Hampshire Republican State Committee. ‘A lot of voters are getting tired of this act.’” http://wapo.st/2FJYmjY
MAGGIE SEVERNS: “The biggest Republican megadonor you’ve never heard of”: “Richard Uihlein [is] a little-known Republican donor who had until recently been one of [Illinois Gov. Bruce] Rauner’s biggest supporters. After a fallout out with the governor over abortion policy, Uihlien gave $2.5 million to Ives in a single week this past January — essentially bankrolling her campaign to defeat Rauner in a Republican primary on Tuesday.
“It’s the latest example of Uihlein’s burgeoning role as one of the most influential, but still little-known, political donors in the country. His early six- and seven-figure contributions to emerging Republican candidates, and penchant for disruptive politics, have been crucial to building a raft of anti-establishment Republicans seeking to emulate Donald Trump’s formula for success during this year’s midterm elections.
“And Republicans say he has found a pitch-perfect political moment to push his rigorous social and economic conservatism on the national stage, to the detriment of opponents, like Rauner, who cross his path.” http://politi.co/2pqL9Bl
MEDIAWATCH — Per Michael Calderone’s Morning Media: “Brian Bennett, currently White House reporter at the Los Angeles Times, is joining Time magazine as senior White House correspondent, according to a staff memo.”
SPOTTED: Eric Trump leaving Aspen Sunday morning on a United flight to Chicago … Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper departing the Sunday afternoon matinee showing of “Hamilton” at the Buell Theatre in Denver with his son Teddy and wife, Robin Pringle … Lynda and Chuck Robb celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary with a black tie dinner at their McLean home Saturday night – their actual wedding day was Dec. 9, 1967. … Gen. Joe Dunford with a “bunch of friends laughing and enjoying himself” outside The Smith on Sunday.
FIRST IN PLAYBOOK –– TRANSITION: Sally Canfield is joining Definers Public Affairs as SVP. She most recently was senior director of government relations at the ONE Campaign and is the former deputy chief of staff to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).
ENGAGED – JEB ALUMNI — Mike Thom, deputy director of Iowa for Jeb 2016 who is now regional political director for the NRCC, on Sunday night proposed to Emily Benavides, traveling press secretary for Jeb 2016 who is now deputy communications director for Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), at sunset on a walk around the waterfront at Navy Yard. The couple met in Iowa when Tim Miller sent Emily to work the caucus in 2016. Instapics http://bit.ly/2FKhFcO
BIRTHWEEK (was yesterday): Andrew McCabe turned 5-0 … Joe Dougherty, director of comms at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, turned 53
BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Jill Abramson, columnist for The Guardian, senior lecturer at the Harvard English Dept., author of an upcoming book on news, and former executive editor of The New York Times. How she got her start in journalism: “I got my start in journalism from Francine Sasso in the Boston bureau of Time Magazine in 1974. I covered the Harvard campus as a stringer and the 1976 primaries in NH, Massachusetts and RI for Time’s Boston bureau and worked there one year 1976-77. Francine got me the Harvard stringer’s job and gave me my assignments, which often involved calling John Kenneth Galbraith to ask him if the West was in decline. I collaborated on a piece about campus humor with the Yale stringer, Jane Mayer.” Read her Playbook Plus Q&A: http://politi.co/2ppvqCy
BIRTHDAYS: Zach Parkinson, WH deputy research director and director of vetting (hat tip: Adam Kennedy) … Ed Rollins is 75 …. Teddy Downey … Brent Scowcroft, former White House national security adviser, is 93 … Trey Hardin, founder of War Room Strategies and ABC News political analyst who calls him a “member of GOP establishment” in his bio on Twitter, is 49 … Lynda Johnson Robb … Politico’s James Benson and Betsy Barrows … Kayla Cook Brown, chief of staff at Axios … C-SPAN is 39 … Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) is 63 … Alexander Trowbridge, producer for Stephen Colbert’s “Late Show” … CBS News’ Kia Baskerville … Anatole Jenkins, deputy national field director at the DCCC, is 27 … Van Scott of ABC News … Kivvit’s Ian Hainline (h/t Mallory Shelbourne) … Leonard Lauder is 85 … Annie Policastro, director of federal gov’t affairs at UPS … Ric Cunningham … Kyle Hill, senior LA for Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.) (h/t Mitchell Rivard) … Ali Chartan, director at Powell Tate/Weber Shandwick … Tara McGuinness … WashPost reporter Sarah Pulliam Bailey … Katie Bosland, a coordinating producer at ABC News’ GMA … David Colton …
… Carla Frank, finance manager at American Possibilities PAC, is 27 (h/t Rob Flaherty) … Grace Hoefer … Andy Wong … John Gossel … Doug Hill, director of outreach for Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) … Nishant Surapaneni … Joel Rogers … Emma Lieberth … Scott Bates … ProPublica senior investigative reporter T. Christian Miller … Mary Streett … Kate Gordon … Liz Plank … Jen Gerson Uffalussy … Rob Varsalone … Jerry Fritz … Maria Osborn Howard … TVNewser contributor Alissa Krinsky … Dave Arnold of Saudi Aramco … Cody Sigel … Michael Makarski … Seth Rogovoy of the Rogovoy Report … Jen Gerson Uffalussy … Nataly Morales of Sen. Murray’s office … Bernard Schmit … Yujin Lee … Jose Borjon … Jake Westlin … Joseph Puente … Angela Ellard.