British Prime Minister Theresa May stunned Britain “by announcing that she would call an early election, placing a bet that voters will give her Conservative Party a strong mandate as her government negotiates the country’s withdrawal from the European Union,” the New York Times reports. Under legislation introduced by her predecessor, David Cameron, the five-year terms of British governments can only be cut short with the approval of Parliament.
“She had repeatedly ruled out a snap election — the next one was scheduled to occur in 2020 — so her decision on Tuesday represents an abrupt U-turn.”
Wall Street Journal: “Mrs. May, who took office in July after the U.K. voted to leave the EU, has a parliamentary majority of 17. Opinion polls suggest she would increase that majority significantly in an election. That would give her more freedom of maneuver in EU negotiations and less dependent on the support of the euroskeptics of her Conservative Party who favor a clean break with EU.”
Both Kevin Drum and Josh Marshall write convincingly today that there are no good options when it comes to dealing with North Korea. But they missed an interesting development that seems to have been embraced by President Obama.
Three years ago, President Barack Obama ordered Pentagon officials to step up their cyber and electronic strikes against North Korea’s missile program in hopes of sabotaging test launches in their opening seconds.
Soon a large number of the North’s military rockets began to explode, veer off course, disintegrate in midair and plunge into the sea. Advocates of such efforts say they believe that targeted attacks have given American antimissile defenses a new edge and delayed by several years the day when North Korea will be able to threaten American cities with nuclear weapons launched atop intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Politico: “Throughout his presidential campaign, Donald Trump repeatedly declared that ‘the last thing we need is another Bush,’ as he vowed to take on two political dynasties — the Bushes and the Clintons. But as president, Trump has been increasingly dipping into the talent pool from the George W. Bush administration that he regularly vilified during the campaign to now fill critical administration posts.”
“Trump promised to drain the swamp and instead rely on Washington outsiders, but nearly 100 days into his term, the staffing and political realities have set in, and his team has been turning to some of the top old hands of the Bush administration. Just this past week, the White House sent out a press release announcing the nomination of four confirmation-level hires, with three out of the four being former Bush administration staffers.”
“The DNC announced on Sunday that Hillary Clinton’s campaign had turned over its email list, giving the party a major boost as it rebuilds under a new chair and prepares for the midterm elections next year and the 2020 presidential race,” the Huffington Post reports.
“The list, provided as an in-kind contribution from the Hillary for America campaign organization, includes more than 10 million new names that the DNC did not have on its voter files, according to both Clinton and DNC aides. The contribution was valued as $3.5 million.”
Hey Bernie, your move.
What a prick.
Politico: “Gary Cohn gave Richard Cordray, the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an ultimatum over dinner a few weeks ago: Go the easy way, or go the hard way. Cohn, President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser, had heard the rumors that Cordray wanted to run for governor in Ohio. He left dinner that night thinking that they were true… So the White House decided to hold off on firing Cordray. Trump didn’t want to cause a sensation that could boost his candidacy and juice his fundraising.”
“Cordray — whose five-year term expires next July — has yet to announce his political intentions and his window for launching a gubernatorial campaign is starting to close. But whether or not Trump ultimately decides to fire him, he may already have enough political support to lead the field to replace Republican Gov. John Kasich in 2018.”
A new Pew Research survey finds President Trump’s approval rating is 39% — precisely the same as two months ago. The percentage of Americans who disapprove of Trump is virtually unchanged: 54%, compared to 56% in February.
“The most profound shifts in the Pew survey are in Americans’ perceptions of the GOP beyond Trump. Just 40% of Americans have a favorable opinion of the Republican Party, down from 47% in January, prior to Trump’s inauguration.”
Caitlin Owens: “Moderate Republican House members have had a much tougher recess than conservatives when it comes to Trumpcare. Members from purple districts have had to weather angry liberals and disappointed conservatives, while conservatives have largely emerged as heroes.”
“With different factions of the GOP pointing fingers at one another, the blame game is only effective if members’ constituents are angry with their representative. Right now, it seems like the Freedom Caucus is actually being celebrated for blocking Trumpcare, which was extremely unpopular nationally.”
A federal judge has ordered Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach “to turn over a proposed changes to federal voting rights laws that he took to a meeting with President Trump,” the AP reports.
“After privately examining the documents, U.S. Magistrate James O’Hara ruled Monday that parts of documents from Kobach are ‘unquestionably relevant’ to a lawsuit challenging a state law requiring voters provide proof of their U.S. citizenship when registering.”
First Read: “We are 12 days away from Donald Trump’s 100th as president, but it isn’t too early to proclaim his start as the poorest in the modern era… This isn’t to say that Trump’s first 100 days have lacked successes or have failed to follow through on campaign promises — see his immigration policies or the rolling back of Obama’s regulations.”
“But here’s why Trump’s poor start matters: A president’s first three months in office are the EASIEST time to rack up legislative wins that can’t be simply erased by the next president. The honeymoon phase, traditionally, has been when a president’s power with his own party, with the opposition, and with independents is at its highest. But there’s been no honeymoon at all for the nation’s 45th president. And that’s arguably been the major storyline of Trump’s first 100 days in office.”
President Trump’s “promise to enact a sweeping overhaul of the tax code is in serious jeopardy nearly 100 days into his tenure, and his refusal to release his own tax returns is emerging as a central hurdle to another faltering campaign promise,” the New York Times reports.
“As procrastinators rushed to file their tax returns by Tuesday, the White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, emphasized again on Monday that Mr. Trump had no intention of making his public. Democrats have seized on that decision, uniting around a pledge not to cooperate on any rewriting of the tax code unless they know specifically how that revision would benefit the billionaire president and his family.”
“And a growing roster of more than a dozen Republican lawmakers now say Mr. Trump should release them.”
Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told the Financial Times that getting tax reform legislation to Trump by August is unlikely.
A new Clout Research poll in Georgia’s special election finds Jon Ossoff (D) remains the strong favorite ahead of the election, holding on to 41% of voter support.
Among Republicans, Bob Gray (R) now appears to be edging ahead of Karen Handel, 17% to 15%. Meanwhile, Judson Hill is pulling 10% support, while Dan Moody trails with 9%.