STORM UPDATE: “After sixty-one weeks in the White House, President Trump has found two people he won’t attack on Twitter: Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal,” the New York Times reports. “[Trump] has been uncharacteristically silent in recent days — to the relief of his advisers — as a pornographic film star and a Playboy model described intimate details of sexual encounters with Mr. Trump.” He only had one nonspecific tweet this morning complaining about so much fake news.
The Daily Beast reports that the NDA implies that Stormy Daniels has pictures: “First, it’s chiefly concerned with ‘certain still images and/or text messages.’ Yes, later in the agreement, the ‘confidential information’ at issue is expansively defined, to include absolutely anything, tangible or intangible, that Daniels might know about Trump, including, of course, whether she spanked him with a magazine or not. But far more ink is spilled discussing what Daniels is supposed to do with those texts and images: give copies to Cohen and destroy the originals.”
“Now the strategy starts to make sense. This dispute isn’t about the affair: it’s about those pictures or texts. As viewers of Daniels’ 60 Minutes interview surely noticed, the only question Daniels refused to answer was about whether she’s got more evidence of the affair. Avenatti suggested the answer is yes: he tweeted a photo of a DVD inside a safe.”
Meanwhile, the night before 60 Minutes aired its interview with Stormy Daniels, President Trump had dinner with Michael Cohen, his longtime personal attorney, CBS News reports. I wonder what they talked about. Perhaps it was the cease and desist letter that Cohen sent to Daniels and her attorney late Sunday night, according to Fox News.
I truly wonder whether Donnie is going to mad or happy about this: Stormy Daniels’ 60 Minutes interview with Anderson Cooper looks to be the newsmagazine’s best rated in 10 years, according to the Hollywood Reporter. That reminds me of a old joke Obama made once. It goes like this: ‘Hey Donny, you were the subject of two segments on 60 minutes last night, and the show got the highest ratings in 10 years!’ Donny: “Great, what were they saying about me?”
POLLING UPDATE: Gallup: “Fifty-five percent of Americans worry ‘a great deal’ about the availability and affordability of healthcare, topping concerns about 14 other issues Gallup tested. Slim majorities also worry about crime and violence, federal spending and the budget deficit, and the availability of guns.”
A new SurveyUSA poll in Ohio finds Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) leading possible challenger Jim Renacci (R) by 14 points, 52% to 38%.
In the gubernatorial race, Richard Cordray (D) and Dennis Kucinich (D) are tied in the primary battle to oppose presumptive GOP nominee Mike DeWine (R). In general election match ups, DeWine leads Cordray, 47% to 39%, and tops Kucinich 51% to 38%. Why is space alien Trump lover Dennis Kucinich running?
A new Honolulu Star-Advertiser poll finds Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI) leading Gov. David Ige (D) in a Democratic gubernatorial primary by 20 points, 47% to 27% with Clayton Hee (D) at 11%. This would be the second time in four years that Democrats have dumped an incumbent governor in the primary. Ige beat Gov. Neil Abercrombie in 2014.
— Vox (@voxdotcom) March 26, 2018
2018 UPDATE: With the Cook Political Report shifting Pennsylvania’s 6th congressional district from Toss-Up to Likely Democrat, there are now 8 current Republican-held seats rated Lean-Likely Democrat and another 21 Republican-held seats rate Toss-Ups.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) is set to make a “major announcement” on April 9 amid long-running rumors he will run for U.S. Senate, Politico reports.
RUSSIA UPDATE: “President Trump ordered the expulsion of 60 Russians from the United States on Monday, including 12 people identified as Russian intelligence officers who have been stationed at the United Nations in New York, in response to Russia’s alleged poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain,” the New York Times reports. “The expulsion order, announced by administration officials, also closes the Russian consulate in Seattle. The Russians and their families have seven days to leave the United States.”
“The expulsions are the toughest action taken against the Kremlin by President Trump, who has been criticized for not being firm enough with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.”
Jonathan Swan: “Trump’s red line on Russia is Vladimir Putin. The president is loathe to criticize him by name or call him out in one-on-one conversations. But he has taken some steps against Russia that his predecessor didn’t. An example: sending lethal arms to Ukraine.”
“It’s part of the Trump paradox. He still believes the U.S. and Russia have plenty of shared interests and wants to mend the relationship. He also thinks the only way to do this is by building a warm personal relationship with Putin. But this dual-track strategy — be nice personally and tough administratively — becomes more fantastical every time Trump authorizes a harsh action against the Kremlin.”
“Today’s actions — expelling the Russian diplomats – make sense when you bear this in mind.”
Hours after this photo was taken, history was made.
In years to come we’ll teach our kids the speeches of Edna and Emma, Jackie and Yolanda, Zion and David, Cameron and D'Angelo, Ryan and Alex, Sarah and Delaney, Naomi and Christopher.
And when our children tell their story… pic.twitter.com/GYy7uG5ZLN
— Michael Skolnik (@MichaelSkolnik) March 26, 2018
James Hohmann: “A key reason the protests against the war in Vietnam were so much more potent than against the war in Iraq is that there was a draft back then.”
“Millions of young people lived in fear that they — or someone they loved — would have their number called, and they’d be shipped off against their will to the rice paddies and jungles of a faraway land for a cause they felt was unjust and futile. From 1964 to 1973, the U.S. military conscripted 2.2 million men — boys, really — out of an eligible pool of 27 million. This helped fuel the mass movement against the war.”
“Young people today aren’t worried about being drafted to fight Kim Jong Un in North Korea. But many are palpably concerned that they or someone they know could get shot at school. High-profile incidents, culminating with last month’s shooting in Parkland, Fla., have shaken many middle-class kids, who would not otherwise be inclined to activism, out of their suburban comfort zones.”
“The March for Our Lives was so big on Saturday because the fears are so personal.”
— Greg Sargent (@ThePlumLineGS) March 26, 2018
Monkey Cage: “Why are white Christians sticking so closely to Trump, despite these claims of sexual indiscretions? And why are religious individuals and groups that previously decried sexual impropriety among political leaders suddenly willing to give Trump a ‘mulligan’ on his infidelity?”
“Our new study points to a different answer than others have offered. Voters’ religious tenets aren’t actually what’s behind Trump support; rather, it’s Christian nationalism — their view of the United States as a fundamentally Christian nation.”
“Senate Republicans are privately saying they hope Justice Kennedy announces his retirement in the coming months, before the fall midterm elections, arguing the move would give Republicans something to rally their base as they work to maintain control of the Senate,” The Hill reports.
“While Kennedy, 81, has not directly signaled his plans for retirement, at least one senator has predicted it could come over the summer. Others maintain that confirming a conservative successor to Kennedy, who was nominated by Ronald Reagan in 1988, would be easier while Republicans control the Senate.”
— Talking Points Memo (@TPM) March 26, 2018
I am playing the world’s tiniest violin right now.
“As President Trump heads into one of the most critical phases of the special counsel’s investigation, his personal legal team has shrunk to essentially just one member, and he is struggling to find any top lawyers willing to represent him,” the New York Times reports.
“Working for a president is usually seen as a dream job. But leading white-collar lawyers in Washington and New York have repeatedly spurned overtures to take over the defense of Mr. Trump, a mercurial client who often ignores his advisers’ guidance. In some cases, lawyers’ firms have blocked any talks, fearing a backlash that would hurt business.”
“The president lost two lawyers in just the past four days, including one who had been on board for less than a week.”
— Jonathan Chait (@jonathanchait) March 26, 2018
“Cambridge Analytica dispatched dozens of non-U.S. citizens to provide campaign strategy and messaging advice to Republican candidates in 2014, according to three former workers for the data firm, even as an attorney warned executives to abide by U.S. laws limiting foreign involvement in elections,” the Washington Post reports. Said one: “We knew that everything was not above board, but we weren’t too concerned about it.”
Senator @brianschatz just introduced a bill that aims to make it possible for every college-ready American to pursue a bachelor’s degree — without taking on debt for tuition, room and board, or school expenses. I spoke with him about it. https://t.co/YZ5BbPRkg8.
— Eric Levitz (@EricLevitz) March 26, 2018
“Kim Jong Un made a surprise visit to Beijing on his first known trip outside North Korea since taking power in 2011,” Bloomberg reports. “The unannounced visit is the latest in series of diplomatic power plays in Asia as U.S. President Donald Trump’s battle to lower the U.S.’s trade deficit becomes entangled with his effort to get Kim to give up his nuclear weapons.”
— The New Republic (@newrepublic) March 26, 2018
Several employees at the Interior Department have told CNN that Secretary Ryan Zinke repeatedly “says that he won’t focus on diversity, an apparent talking point that has upset many people within the agency.” Three high-ranking Interior officials said that Zinke has made several comments with a similar theme, saying “diversity isn’t important,” or “I don’t care about diversity,” or “I don’t really think that’s important anymore.”
Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV) told Nevada Newsmakers that Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) may soon resign as Speaker of the U.S. House. Said Amodei: “The rumor mill is that Paul Ryan is getting ready to resign in the next 30 to 60 days and that Steve Scalise will be the new Speaker.”