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POLITICO Playbook PM: NEW: Dem super PAC hammers House GOP leadership in new ad


NEW … YOU NEED TO WATCH THIS BOMBSHELL AD … HOUSE MAJORITY PAC -- a top super PAC that aims to elect Democrats to the House -- drops a shockingly tough and sharp ad on House GOP leadership, reviving old personal scandals, allegations of affairs and government crises. This is a 30-second digital ad that they are putting five figures behind, for the time being. They wouldn’t disclose the precise size of the buy.

-- SCRIPT: “They’ve shut down the government” [Video of Newt Gingrich flashes]

“Resigned in shame” [Video of Bob Livingston, with headline “Speaker-elect Admits Illicit Sexual Affairs”]

“Paid hush money” [Video of Denny Hastert in a wheelchair, with a headline “Hastert Paid Sex-Abuse Accuser $1.7 Million to Stay Quiet”]

“And tried to end Medicare and Social Security” [Video of Paul Ryan]

“Here’s who Republicans might have to answer for next” [Photos of Jim Jordan, Steve Scalise and Kevin McCarthy, with the headline “Republicans Brace for a Brutal House Leadership Race”]

“Jim Jordan, remind you of Joe Paterno?” [Video of Jordan, with the headline “Rep. Jim Jordan is Named in New OSU Sexual Abuse Lawsuit”]

“Kevin McCarthy, Paul Ryan’s protege with a lot of baggage” [Video of Ryan and McCarthy, with the headline “2015: ‘Kevin McCarthy Quits Speaker Race Amid Allegations of Affair’”]

“And Steve Scalise, linked to KKK leader David Duke” [Video of Scalise, with the headline “Steve Scalise Once Defended Himself Against Links to David Duke”]

“No wonder they aren’t looking out for you” [With photos of Jordan, Scalise and McCarthy]

-- JORDAN AND MCCARTHY have denied both allegations they’re bringing up, and the Scalise story is a bit more complicated than presented. But this is a very tough ad, which is trying to amplify the message that the GOP is not fit, in any way, for office -- a message they’ve been trying to push for some time.

KNOWING MELANIA TRUMP -- NYT’s KATIE ROGERS, JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS and MAGGIE HABERMAN: “Melania Trump, a Mysterious First Lady, Weathers a Chaotic White House”: “A little more than a year later, Mrs. Trump remains an intensely private first lady still adjusting to the demands of a new life. She has few friends in Washington, keeps a light public schedule and when not watching over her 12-year-old son, Barron, returns home to New York — at least once per month, two people close to her say — for meetings and to visit a small circle of associates, including her sister and her hairstylist. …

Her staff is small — 10 people, compared with more than 25 who worked for Michelle Obama or Laura Bush — and she has struggled to put substance behind a public service project … Allies describe Mrs. Trump as warm, engaging and witty, traits at odds with the totemic stance she often takes in public. Just like her husband, she often ignores guidance from aides in favor of her own instincts, and directs her staff to fight back against news media coverage she dislikes. …

“Several friends and aides of the Trumps insist that the dynamic of the first couple’s marriage has not fundamentally changed from their days in Trump Tower. One friend of the Trumps in Palm Beach, Fla., said Mrs. Trump entered the relationship with Mr. Trump with her eyes open, and has weathered 13 years of scandal-plagued marriage and a rocky transition into the White House primarily for the benefit of keeping life stable for their son.” NYT

MICHAEL COHEN FILES -- “As ‘Access Hollywood’ Tape Surfaced, Michael Cohen Changed Tune on Paying Stormy Daniels,” by WSJ’s Joe Palazzolo, Nicole Hong, Rebecca Davis O’Brien and Rebecca Ballhaus: “Federal prosecutors in New York view the ‘Access Hollywood’ tape as a trigger that spurred Mr. Cohen to bury potentially damaging information about his boss, as they investigate whether the payment amounted to an illegal, in-kind contribution or an expenditure that should have been disclosed by the campaign, people familiar with the matter said. …

“A campaign-finance charge would require prosecutors to prove the payment to Ms. Clifford was meant to help Mr. Trump prevail in the coming presidential election.” WSJ


WAPO: “Trump blames D.C. officials for postponing his military parade; Bowser responds his plan was ‘sad,’” by John Wagner and Peter Jamison: “About an hour after the president’s tweet, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) delivered her own caustic response on Twitter, indicating the desired parade would have cost $21.6 million to organize in the nation’s capital. The federal government typically reimburses the District for a large share of the security and logistical costs for such events.

“‘Yup, I’m Muriel Bowser, mayor of Washington DC, the local politician who finally got thru to the reality star in the White House with the realities ($21.6M) of parades/events/demonstrations in Trump America (sad),’ Bowser tweeted.

“A city official said the planning process for the parade had been difficult to coordinate with White House officials, who had been slow to communicate details of the event, including plans for a specific date.” WaPo

-- “Here's how much D.C. thinks Trump's military parade will cost”: POLITICO

Good Friday afternoon. SCOOP -- “AP Sources: U.S. ends Syria stabilization funding,” by Matthew Lee: “U.S. officials said the administration notified Congress on Friday that it would not spend some $200 million that had been planned for Syria programs and would instead shift that money to other areas. … They said the cut will be more than offset by an additional $300 million pledged by coalition partners, including $100 million that Saudi Arabia announced …

“Still, the U.S. move is a sign the administration is heeding Trump’s demand to end U.S. involvement in Syria and reduce its commitment there.” AP


MANAFORT TRIAL, DAY 14 -- “Jury deliberates as Trump calls Manafort a ‘good person,’” by Darren Samuelsohn and Josh Gerstein: “After the jurors left the courtroom to deliberate Friday morning, Ellis acknowledged the trial ‘might end soon’ …

“Ellis also scheduled a hearing around 2 p.m. Friday to hear arguments from seven news organizations, including POLITICO, that are seeking access to several sealed transcripts from bench conferences during the trial, as well as other documents filed in the case that aren’t public, including records containing the names of jury members.” POLITICO

-- “Trump: Manafort trial is a ‘very sad day for our country,’” by Caitlin Oprysko: “Responding to a shouted question of whether or not he would pardon Manafort, Trump wouldn’t answer either way, instead saying that ‘I don’t talk about that.’” POLITICO

ALSO ON THE PRESIDENT’S MIND -- @realDonaldTrump at 7:30 a.m.: “In speaking with some of the world’s top business leaders I asked what it is that would make business (jobs) even better in the U.S. ‘Stop quarterly reporting & go to a six month system,’ said one. That would allow greater flexibility & save money. I have asked the SEC to study!”

ON THE WORLD STAGE -- “U.S. slaps sanctions on Myanmar for ‘atrocities,’” by Nahal Toosi: “The United States on Friday slapped sanctions on four Myanmar security officials and two of the country’s military units for human rights abuses, including ethnic cleansing against the country's minority Muslim Rohingya population.

“The announcement from the Treasury Department comes as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo deliberates on whether to declare what happened to the Rohingya a genocide.” POLITICO

-- NYT’S KEN VOGEL (@kenvogel): “TRUMP SETTING TONE FOR DICTATORS: The newspaper run by the party of Hungary's authoritarian anti-immigrant ruler VIKTOR ORBAN is going after @POLITICOEurope as — you guessed it — ‘FAKE NEWS.’” Image from Hungary, via Lili Bayer

WHAT JIMMY CARTER IS UP TO: “The un-celebrity president,” by WaPo’s Kevin Sullivan and Mary Jordan in Plains, Georgia: “Carter has been an ex-president for 37 years, longer than anyone else in history. His simple lifestyle is increasingly rare in this era of President Trump, a billionaire with gold-plated sinks in his private jet, Manhattan penthouse and Mar-a-Lago estate.

“Carter is the only president in the modern era to return full-time to the house he lived in before he entered politics — a two-bedroom rancher assessed at $167,000, less than the value of the armored Secret Service vehicles parked outside. …

“Carter has been notably quiet about President Trump. But on this night, two years into Trump’s term, he’s not holding back. ‘I think he’s a disaster,’ Carter says. ‘In human rights and taking care of people and treating people equal.’ ‘The worst is that he is not telling the truth, and that just hurts everything,’ Rosalynn [Carter] says.” WaPo

MAGGIE SEVERNS: “‘Oh that’s cool — do that!’: Super PACs use new trick to hide donors”: “Overall, at least two dozen super PACs that spent millions of dollars in recent elections used loopholes to get out of revealing their donors, according to information compiled by the Campaign Legal Center, a watchdog organization.

“It’s a sign that political operatives see more risk in revealing the big-money meddlers in congressional elections than in pushing the boundaries of campaign finance law — and many of the groups pushing the boundaries are aligned with Democrats, the party most associated with complaints about undisclosed ‘dark money’ affecting elections. … The PACs’ maneuvering ranges from legal trickery to blatant disregard for campaign finance law.” POLITICO

THE BIG PICTURE -- “In a Divided Era, One Thing Seems to Unite: Political Anger,” by NYT’s Jeremy W. Peters: “To a degree that is unique to this period and this president, disputes over politics have divided Americans’ homes, strained marriages, ruined friendships and invaded the workplace. …

“High tension, raw emotion and occasional violence have always been a feature of American democracy — in times of war and peace, through presidential impeachments and mass protest movements. But interviews with voters across the country, along with an analysis of recent research by political scientists who specialize in partisan division, suggest that politics is changing how Americans think and behave in new and unsettling ways.” NYT

THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION … “Trump readies new round of controversial Medicaid changes,” by Dan Diamond: “[T]hey are moving forward even after a federal judge blocked Kentucky’s work requirement in June, saying the Trump administration failed to consider how the plan would affect coverage, and new evidence that thousands of Arkansans will lose benefits because of the state's work requirement. Advocacy groups have sued to stop Medicaid work requirements in both states and threaten further litigation if more changes are OK’d.

“Nonetheless, the administration is expected to sign off soon on work requirements in three more states — Arizona, Wisconsin and Maine — while approving limited drug testing questions sought by Wisconsin’s GOP Gov. Scott Walker, according to four individuals with knowledge of the process.” POLITICO

WAPO’S ANNIE GOWEN in NEW DELHI: “Taxpayers’ bill for Trump Jr.’s business trip to India: $32,000 and counting, documents show”: WaPo

JARED KUSHNER READING ...“Criminal justice deal faces steep Senate hurdles despite Trump’s push,” by Elana Schor: “[I]nterviews with a dozen GOP senators show that those talks remain in a precarious state. That’s because the handful of Republicans who have long protested reducing mandatory-minimum sentences leave Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) without any incentive to call up legislation that would split his conference.” POLITICO

-- “‘Unbearable’ Noise and Dust: Kushner Companies Accused of Driving Out Tenants in Brooklyn Building,” by NYT’s Charles V. Bagli: “This is not a story of low-income families being forced out of their homes. But it is a classic tale of gentrification and profit-taking on the Brooklyn waterfront over the past two decades.” NYT

WAR REPORT -- “Officials worry Trump may back Erik Prince plan to privatize war in Afghanistan,” by NBC’s Carol E. Lee, Courtney Kube and Josh Lederman: “A year after Trump's strategy announcement, his advisers are worried his impatience with the Afghanistan conflict will cause him to seriously consider proposals like Prince's or abruptly order a complete U.S. withdrawal.” NBC

-- “Laser Beam Attacks Bedevil U.S. Military Pilots in Mideast,” by WSJ’s Gordon Lubold: “Hostile forces in the Middle East are targeting American pilots with laser pointers at a growing rate, imperiling aircrews and reflecting a problem more widespread and longstanding than the Pentagon has previously acknowledged.

“American pilots operating in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, the three most prominent conflict zones for American troops, experienced most of the more than 350 lasing incidents reported over the last seven months.” WSJ


E&E NEWS’ AMANDA REILLY (@apeterka): “JUST IN: In another big court loss for EPA, D.C. Circuit throws out rule delaying Obama-era safety standards for chemical facilities.”

WILD READ -- “Trump and Omarosa Had a ‘F*cking Weird’ Fight With Vietnam Vets,” by The Daily Beast’s Asawin Suebsaeng: “[Rick] Weidman was imploring the president and his team to permit access to benefits for a broader number of vets who have said they were poisoned by Agent Orange. Trump responded by saying, ‘That’s taken care of’ … His reply puzzled the group. Attendees began explaining to the president that the VA had not made enough progress on the issue at all, to which Trump responded by abruptly derailing the meeting and asking the attendees if Agent Orange was ‘that stuff from that movie.’ …

“[M]ultiple people—including Vietnam War veterans—chimed in to inform the president that the Apocalypse Now set piece he was talking about showcased the U.S. military using napalm … Trump refused to accept that he was mistaken and proceeded to say things like, ‘no, I think it’s that stuff from that movie.’” The Daily Beast


MORE JOHN BRENNAN FALLOUT -- “Bob Gates signs on to letter criticizing Trump for pulling security clearance,” by Rebecca Morin: POLITICO

-- @nprpolitics: “#Breaking: President Trump told reporters that he is likely to revoke Justice Department official Bruce Ohr’s security clearance ‘right away.’”

2018 WATCH -- “Fireworks at GOP 1st Congressional District debate in Concord,” by Paul Steinhauser in the Concord Monitor: “A debate between the two leading Republicans in the 1st Congressional District race turned into a spectacle Thursday night, with one of the candidates being asked to leave after refusing to sign a party unity pledge.” Concord Monitor

QUEENS CHRONICLE: “Ocasio-Cortez bans press from town hall

WHERE DEMOCRATS ARE HEADED? -- “The Lock-Him-Up Campaign,” by David Freedlander in POLITICO Magazine: “The New York AG’s office is known for the firepower of its prosecutors and the ambition of its occupants. … [Zephyr Teachout’s] anti-Trump battle plan has already shaped the contours of the race … Nationally, it represents maybe the most extreme example of a specific new theory of Democratic politics: that the President of the United States represents a red-level threat alert to the republic, and that the first job of Democratic politicians, and especially Democratic prosecutors, is to stop him. …

“But it has also led to critics, even within the Democratic Party, who fret over the prospect of law enforcement officials vowing to investigate their political opponents—and consider this personality-focused approach a dangerous direction for a prosecutor’s office to take, regardless of who the president is. … The critique gets to the heart of what it means to be a Democrat in the Age of Trump, or a principled officeholder of any party, where the job consists both of moving an agenda forward and also defending the system itself from a leader who flouts the norms that kept it healthy in the first place.” POLITICO Magazine

READY FOR THE SWAMP … “Czech ambassador to the U.S. once killed a crocodile with a knife,” by CBS’ Kylie Atwood: “When asked if he would pick up a rifle with Mr. Trump’s adult sons, who are both avid hunters, [Hynek] Kmoníček raises his eyebrows. ‘Well, if there is a chance, I would definitely go.’” CBS

TV TONIGHT … Bob Costa sits down with POLITICO’s Josh Gerstein, WaPo’s Michael Scherer, AP’s Julie Pace and Bloomberg’s Toluse Olorunnipa on PBS’ “Washington Week” at 8 p.m.

PAGING BERNIE BERNSTEIN -- GLOVER PARK GROUP’S ALEX BYERS (@byersalex): “Spotted: James O’Keefe getting ready to film a stand-up of some type across the street from the FBI building, dressed in a suit, tan trench coat (it’s sunny and 86 in DC right now?) and gray fedora. ‘50s private investigator vibe? Whatta town.”

SPOTTED: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in the Delta Sky Club at DCA. … Tom Perez on the phone outside the Dupont Circle Hotel this morning.

ENGAGED -- Amanda Thayer, deputy national communications director at NARAL, got engaged to Eric Heidenberger, partner/owner at DC Restaurant Group (Shaw’s Tavern, 801, Madhatter, Silo and others). “We met at Shaw’s Tavern and were actually introduced by our mutual friend, Mike Preston, a lobbyist for the National Rural Water Association.” Pic




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