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On the roster: How hard will McCarthy go against Mueller? - Poll: Trump like Clinton, Obama before midterm routs - Here we go again: Bloomberg toys with third party run - Pompeo wins support from key Democrats -Would you believe ‘meow’?
HOW HARD WILL MCCARTHY GO AGAINST MUELLER?
The race to replace Paul Ryan as House speaker is going to be interesting for a lot of reasons, but some of them may be more consequential than others.
The state of the race as it stands right now is that Ryan’s designated successor, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, is trying to cobble together a coalition for the sake of seamless transition when Ryan is through.
In Ryan and McCarthy’s best-case-scenario, Republicans would retain control of the House this fall, Ryan would step aside and McCarthy would take one step forward into the big job.
But there are other ideas. Majority Whip Steve Scalise has said that he won’t run against McCarthy, but it’s not hard to see that he is trying to maintain pole position in case McCarthy’s current bid for speaker ends the way his last one did. McCarthy was the chalk to replace House Speaker John Boehner in the fall of 2015 but could not build a coalition to make it happen.
Not waiting around to see which shoes are dropping is Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, former chairman of the House Freedom Caucus. Jordan is out campaigning among his fellow members and on TV.
Now, Jordan doesn’t have enough votes to become speaker, but the Freedom Caucus represents a large enough bloc that it could stop McCarthy again. One scenario is that we get a repeat of 2015 and McCarthy is forced to step aside for a consensus candidate like Scalise or a handful of others in leadership.
Timing is also a consideration here.
Ryan and McCarthy’s plan counts on a smooth transition of power after the midterm elections. But if the House is forced to consider contentious subjects between now and November, lame duck Ryan might not be able to prevent a revolt. Ryan and his team will have to narrowly navigate make-or-break votes like fiscal cliffs.
Presuming that Ryan can go the distance, though, McCarthy’s calculus starts to look pretty interesting. He needs to shore up his support with the Freedom Caucus while not making himself sound like either a lulu or a rank opportunist to the rank and file members who are initially well disposed to an orderly succession.
While the members of the Freedom Caucus want many things, their dominant causes of recent months have related to trying to help President Trump zap the Department of Justice. Efforts to discredit DOJ and the FBI have been enormously helpful to the president’s effort to keep his base intact throughout the slow-rolling scandals that have dogged his administration every day.
Keep an eye on McCarthy to see if he becomes more enthusiastic about efforts to make trouble for Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Jordan is out in front in a new attack on the Justice Department, demanding answers of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein about the federal investigation into alleged crimes by the president’s private lawyer Michael Cohen. McCarthy will feel extra pressure now to join the anti-Mueller squad.
How far McCarthy can go in aping Jordan on this subject depends on how much concern there is among the silent majority of members that Congress might end up obstructing legitimate inquiries.
Stories like the one from Bloomberg today pointing out inconsistencies in the narrative about Trump’s 2013 trip to Moscow will tend to tighten the tether on McCarthy. But the president’s defenders are not going to let up on the other side, leaving McCarthy stuck in the middle.
Just as these investigations and investigations of investigations have sucked up so much of the oxygen from this Congress, it seems likely that they will play a considerable role in choosing the next Republican leader.
Hovering over all of it is the considerable probability that Republicans will lose the House and will choosing a minority leader instead of a speaker. Both Jordan and McCarthy know that the Republican conference in the House will be smaller and more dominated by hardliners after the election washes away more moderate members from swing districts.
McCarthy’s best bet is to placate the members running interference for Trump sooner rather than later, but do it in a way that does not startle the rest of the conference – or the political equivalent of hitting a two-iron off the deck of a destroyer in high seas.
THE RULEBOOK: FIND YOU A REPUBLIC THAT CAN DO BOTH
“The continual necessity for their services enhances the importance of the soldier, and proportionably degrades the condition of the citizen.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 8
TIME OUT: RESTORATION DAY
On this day in 1661 England’s brief experiment with republicanism came to an official end with the coronation of Charles II. It was also the beginning of a rather raucous period in British history – great fires, cavalier and outrageous feathered hats. Charles’ father had been quite impolitely executed in 1649. Parliament abolished the monarchy and the House of Lords and took a stab at self-governance. After a few years of meandering, though, Oliver Cromwell, a member of parliament turned generalissimo led a coup d’état. Cromwell and his fellow Puritans beat and bullied their way into the position of “lord protector” for him. A puritanical military dictatorship suited neither the aristocracy nor the burgeoning middle class. His son survived in power for just 264 days after Cromwell’s death. Once parliament was able to reconvene, it swiftly asked Charles’ son to come home from the Netherlands and take the throne, ushering in a return to licentiousness absent under Puritan rule.
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Trump job performance
Average approval: 40.4 percent
Average disapproval: 54.4 percent
Net Score: -14 points
Change from one week ago: no change in points
[Average includes: NPR/PBS/Marist: 39% approve - 54% disapprove; Gallup: 39% approval - 55% disapprove; ABC News/WaPo: 44% approval - 54% disapprove; NBC News/WSJ: 39% approve - 57% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 41% approve - 52% disapprove.]
Control of House
Republican average: 41.8 percent
Democratic average: 46.8 percent
Advantage: Democrats plus 5 points
Change from one week ago: no change Democratic advantage
[Average includes: NPR/PBS/Marist: 44% Dems - 39% GOP; ABC News/WaPo: 47% Dems - 43% GOP; NBC News/WSJ: 47% Dems - 40% GOP; Quinnipiac University: 46% Dems - 43% GOP; CNN: 50% Dems - 44% GOP.]
POLL: TRUMP LIKE CLINTON, OBAMA BEFORE MIDTERM ROUTS
Gallup: “U.S. registered voters solidly believe that President Donald Trumpdoes not deserve to be re-elected, by 59% to 37%. The percentage of voters who say Trump deserves re-election is essentially identical to that of Bill Clinton andBarack Obama at the time of the 1994 and 2010 midterm elections, respectively. More voters said George W. Bush deserved re-election at the time of the midterm elections in his first term, in 2002. The latest results are based on an April 9-15 poll of U.S. registered voters. Trump's re-elect number roughly matches his 39% job approval rating among all U.S. adults in the same week of Gallup tracking. Trump's approval ratings have been significantly worse than those of his predecessors at similar points in their presidencies. And his re-elect figures do not match those of Clinton (40% in April 1994) and Obama (46% in March 2010) in the spring of their first midterm election years.”
Ryan’s former driver merges into race replace his old boss - AP: “A former driver for House Speaker Paul Ryan who has been active in Wisconsin Republican politics for years announced Sunday that he is running to succeed Ryan in Congress. Bryan Steil, an attorney from Ryan's hometown of Janesville and a member of the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents, becomes the likely Republican front-runner after the field of better-known potential candidates cleared for his entry. ‘I want to take my problem-solving skills to Congress. I think they need problem solvers, doers ... not talkers,’ Steil said in prepared remarks announcing his candidacy. He cited the need for a good education, quality schools and skilled workers for jobs of the future. … Steil, 37, entered the race less than two weeks after Ryan said he would not seek re-election. Ryan said Friday that he had no immediate plans to endorse anyone.”
Kraushaar: ‘Indiana’s Lesson for Republicans’ - National Journal: “Indiana’s Senate primary on May 8 is offering an instructive lesson on the Republican Party’s future—with or without President Trump. The emerging GOP front-runner in the conservative-minded state, businessman and state legislator Mike Braun, is running as a political outsider who’s a critic of free-trade agreements and an ardent opponent of illegal immigration. He ties himself to Trump on the campaign trail, but his campaign ads focus mostly on the issues animating the president’s coalition. Republican expectations have started to tilt in Braun’s favor: One public poll released last week shows Braun has pulled ahead of Todd Rokita and Luke Messer, the two congressmen he’s running against—a finding Braun’s own campaign has seen in its internal tracking.”
Romney gets snubbed at convention, heads to primary - WashEx: “Mitt Romney on Saturday suffered a disappointing but ultimately meaningless snub from grassroots Republicans when delegates to the state party convention declined to endorse his bid for U.S. Senate. Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, came up short to Mike Kennedy, an attorney and physician, in a vote of more than 3,300 delegates. But Romney is nonetheless in the pole position to capture his party’s nomination for Senate. He submitted petitions to appear on the regular June primary ballot, and is expected to defeat Kennedy — whose convention finish earned him the right to join Romney in that contest — with minimal trouble. Before the vote, Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, a Republican, told the Washington Examiner that ‘regardless of what happens today … he’ll do very well in a primary.’”
Dems coming hard for primary insurgents in California - NYT: “The Democrats’ message to Mai Khanh Tran was polite but unsparing. With half a dozen Democrats running for Congress in her Orange County district, they showed her a discouraging poll and argued that she could not win — and risked fracturing the party in the June primary election. … ‘I said to them, frankly, let the voters decide,’ recalled Ms. Tran, a pediatrician. The national Democratic Party was not chastened: On Wednesday, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee took sides in that House race and backed Gil Cisneros, a Navy veteran and former Republican. With their forceful intervention in Orange County, national Democrats have lunged into an impatient new phase of the 2018 primary season — one in which they are clashing more openly with candidates and local political chieftains in their drive to assemble a slate of recruits for the midterms.”
Corker slights Blackburn with weak endorsement - WaPo: “Retiring Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) offered faint praise on Sunday for the Republican [Rep. Marsha Blackburn], telling interviewers on two Sunday talk shows that his party was making trouble by questioning his loyalty. ‘It’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve seen politically in recent times, but apparently they want you to ask me about the Tennessee race,’ Corker said on ABC News’s ‘This Week with George Stephanopoulos.’ In a separate interview with CNN’s ‘State of the Union,’ Corker accused the National Republican Senatorial Committee of ‘leak[ing]’ news of tensions with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) over Corker’s public comments about former governor Phil Bredesen, the likely Democratic nominee, and his advantages in the race.”
Flynn re-emerges to plump for House candidate - The Hill: “President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn will campaign in Montana for Republican Senate candidate Troy Downing. Downing, one of four Republican candidates vying to take on Democratic Sen. Jon Tester in the midterm elections, announced the news on Twitter on Friday. The candidate has aligned himself with Trump by backing the building of a border wall and the Republican tax law. … Downing's campaign manager told CNN that Flynn ‘is an American Patriot and combat veteran who has served our country for 33 years. He is coming to Montana to support Troy Downing, a fellow combat veteran, because he is the best candidate to defeat career politician Jon Tester.’”
HERE WE GO AGAIN: BLOOMBERG TOYS WITH THIRD PARTY RUN
CBS News: “Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose name has been floated as a possible contender to take on President Trump, says that while running for president would be a ‘great challenge,’ he's not considering a run in the 2020 election ‘at the moment.’ … While the former three-term New York mayor would certainly be able to fund a campaign without breaking a sweat, he's also flirted with running for president in the past. Asked by CBS' ‘Face the Nation’ moderator Margaret Brennan what his odds were for a potential run, Bloomberg responded: ‘Not very high.’ … Looking ahead to a possible field of candidates, Bloomberg predicted the would-be challenger is still an unknown at this point.”
Mitch Landrieu looking at 2020 - The Times-Picayune: “Mayor Mitch Landrieu leaves office next month in a political spotlight unprecedented for New Orleans -- one that suggests the city's chief executive could step out of City Hall and into a run for president of the United States. That's according to political speculation over the 2020 presidential race, pinning Landrieu as a potential anti-Trump contender after the tearing down of Confederate monuments followed by his book on the experience. ‘It would be disingenuous to say that I don't hear the chatter,’ Landrieu said, in his most extensive public comments on the issue…”
POMPEO WINS SUPPORT FROM KEY DEMOCRATS
Fox News: “Cracks are beginning to show in the wall of Democratic opposition to secretary of state pick Mike Pompeo, even as the CIA director contends with rare turbulence on the key Senate panel considering his nomination. Indiana Sen.Joe Donnelly was the latest Democrat to announce his support, saying Monday on Twitter that Pompeo is ‘capable of advancing U.S. interests and leading the State Department.’ He follows Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, who both are facing tough reelection battles, in backing Pompeo. But President Trump’s pick for America’s chief diplomat nevertheless faces the prospect of a rare rebuke Monday afternoon from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where every Democrat and Republican Sen. Rand Paul has expressed opposition to him. Given that Republicans have only a one-seat majority on the panel, this means the committee could either narrowly recommend against Pompeo or not issue a recommendation at all to the full Senate…”
Trump's first state dinner held in honor of French President Macron Tuesday - Fox News
Justices to hear challenge of lawfulness of Trump’s travel plan on Wednesday - Reuters
Greitens charged with using charity donor list for 2016 campaign - PBS
Trump admin plans to roll back ObamaCare era rules effecting underrepresented groups - Axios
Dems wonder how far Koch network’s influence goes - AP
AUDIBLE: NEW YORK STATE OF MIND
“I'm closer to him on trade than I was to either Obama, a Democrat, or Bush, a Republican, because we've got to get tougher on China.” – Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., in an interview on New York's AM 970 radio, praising President Trump’s trade policies.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Chris, Speaking as an almost septuagenarian, I think there is an increasing number of septua- and octogenarians who ought to get out of politics and relegate their role to sage and behind the scenes, not on camera, ‘wise old people.’ One could make a list but high on it are former VP Joe Biden and former NYC Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Their personal peccadilloes combined with their fawning attitude only enable them to come across as want to be ‘hep cats.’ That went away with Dobie Gillis. As Charles Lane of the WAPO recently said of Giuliani's boast that he would clear up the Mueller Investigation in two weeks, ‘he must have super powers.’” – James B. Ronan, Lake Wylie, S.C.
[Ed. note: I take your point Mr. Ronan, and I wish more people did too. But I am also leery of setting hard and fast rules for matters like this. There are plenty of people who aren’t worth a plugged nickel at age 40 and plenty more who are only really hitting their prime in their 60s. I think we have to rely on forces of democracy here to sort out good and bad of every age. Demography tells me, though, that your wish for a youth movement will be upon us soon enough no matter what we do.]
“G'day Chris. Another (short) comment from here ‘at the end of the world’! Re the recent discussion on party partisanship - isn't it possible that politicians AND voters are losing sight of the primary objectives? For example, the primary task of the opposition (democrats currently) is NOT to just ‘oppose’, which is often easy and mindless; surely the primary objective is to provide voters with a viable alternative? Now THAT would make sense - but it obviously requires thought and application - which appears to be beyond politicians, aided and abetted by voters' expectations nowadays?” – Mike O'Neill, New Zealand
[Ed. note: And isn’t that the trick, Mr. O’Neill? One of the most alarming trends of the past political generation has been a shift from disagreeing on policies to questioning motives. If Americans come to see the people who disagree with them not just as rivals for power but actually traitors then there is no hope for a reasonable discussion and compromise becomes impossible. This kind of politics is not new to our history, but tends to coincide with unpleasant chapters of the American experience. This kind of tribalism is both a cause and a consequence of trouble. May we be satisfied with a small draught of poison this time!]
“I am unhappy with Mitch McConnell for a number of reasons and I am sure nobody cares that I am unhappy. It feels good to vent. My number one reason is he does not bring bills to the floor unless he has the votes. I think he should just have a vote and let the chips fall where they may. Citizens would have a better idea how their Senators feels about a policy and who knows, things might even move along at a faster pace. What do you think?” – Jean Farrell, Fleming Island, Fla.
[Ed. note: We care! The greatest power of having your party in control of the Senate is not about what bills you bring to the floor, but which ones you do not. There are dozens of bills that Democrats would love to force votes on right now – legislation that would either produce desired policy outcomes and/or force Republicans into painful votes. And, to an extent, this is by design. Senators have a tremendous amount of latitude compared to individual members of the House. But the limitation on their personal privilege is an intentionally authoritarian style regime for leadership. The Senate is a very republican institution by design. Members select leaders and then those leaders wield broad powers. I would imagine that in time as the Senate comes to look more like the House, we may see something closer to what you’re talking about in that future majority leaders may act more like recording secretaries and move forward whatever legislation rates a majority of the majority.]
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WOULD YOU BELIEVE ‘MEOW’?
AP: “Firefighters in Virginia have rescued a man who got stuck in a tree while trying to retrieve a cat. The Virginian-Pilot reported Friday that the man was trying to rescue a feline perched on a limb in Norfolk. The man climbed past the ladder he had used and ultimately went about 50 feet up the tree before getting stuck. Firefighters brought him to safety within 30 minutes. And because their gear was already deployed, they used their ladder truck to rescue the cat, too. Norfolk Fire-Rescue Battalion Chief Harry Worley stressed that cat rescues are ‘not something we normally do.’ But Worley said the cat's owners were very happy and thankful. And the man who got stuck was ‘relieved to be back on the ground.’”
Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.