New corruption claims snare Clinton insiders

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Buzz Cut:
• New corruption claims snare Clinton insiders
• Bush bros walk fine line in family’s sixth White House run
• Congress shrugs off Obama lather over Israel
• Cruz takes shot at wife’s Wall Street firm
• Big Enos, Little Enos deemed persons of interest

Investigators say a former Clinton appointee, now in a key post at the Department of Homeland Security, improperly intervened on cases that benefitted presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s brother, Tony Rodham, her former campaign chairman and other key Democratic donors. This is the second recent revelation of unseemly conduct inside Clinton’s universe. The other involves Rodham tapping the connections from his sister’s problematic family foundation to get in on a controversial gold mine in disaster-wracked Haiti. The Obama administration is sticking by embattled Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Even so, the report is sure to deepen questions about the contents of the tens of thousands of emails from her time as secretary of state that Clinton said she destroyed in the interest of protecting her privacy.

Power Play: Dems’ false hope for phony primary – Democrats don’t want anyone to beat Hillary Clinton, but they would like a symbolic contest to distract reporters from her ongoing problems, force her stake out liberal policies and tune up for the general election. Chris Stirewalt explains, in 60 seconds, how the Democrats are trying to drum up a “fake” primary. WATCH HERE.

Hillary can blow off key issues in primary - NYT: “The last time she ran for president, Hillary Rodham Clinton did not have to take a position on the Common Core, Race to the Top or teacher evaluations in tenure decisions. She won the endorsement of one of the nation’s largest teachers’ unions in 2007 after deploring the use of standardized tests and the underfunding of the No Child Left Behind law by President George W. Bush’s administration… Her allies believe that with no strong primary opponent to force her into the open, Mrs. Clinton has plenty of time to maneuver before taking sides. But advocates will be using what leverage they possess to draw her out sooner.”

More clout for Team Obama in Hillaryland - WaPo: “Teddy Goff, the digital director of President Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign, is advising the Clinton campaign-in-waiting on its digital strategy, while longtime Clinton aide Katie Dowd is on board to be the campaign’s digital director with Jenna Lowenstein as her deputy, according to several Democrats with knowledge of the moves.”

Daily Beast: “Mossad reportedly listened into nuclear talks and used the information to lobby Capitol Hill. Democrats and Republican greeted the news with a big shrug…. If anything, lawmakers said they were perturbed that the Israelis were being accused of spying—not that they did any actual surveillance. Learning the details of the nuclear talk, lawmakers argued, was less like ‘spying’ and more like information gathering…. ‘ I haven’t had any of them coming up and talking with me about where the deal is, so I was kind of wondering who it was they were meeting with. I kind of feel left out, if you know what I’m saying,…‘If you think about it, if the White House was doing the normal advise and consent [function] with the Senate, then it wouldn’t be necessary to get our information [elsewhere],’ said [Sen. Bob Corker].”

“This can’t be reduced to a matter of somehow let’s all, you know, hold hands and sing ‘Kumbaya.’ This is a matter of figuring out how do we get through a real knotty policy difference that has great consequences for both countries and for the region.” – President Obama talking to reporters about his disapproval of Israel’s elected officials.

Jeb weighs in against Iran deal, Israel slights - In an op-ed at National Review, GOP 2016 candidate Jeb Bush writes that nothing will sway President Obama on Israel and Iran, “It is clear that nothing, not public opinion, not opposition from his own party in Congress, and not even the facts, will deter President Obama from a potentially risky agreement that may well allow Iran to intimidate the entire Middle East, menace Israel, and, most of all, threaten America. This policy choice is a reflection of the way Obama has handled a range of foreign-policy matters. Instead of projecting American determination and leadership, he has either withdrawn from the stage or chosen to trust our enemies.”

NATO boss snubbed too? - Bloomberg’s Josh Rogin reports:  “President Barack Obama has yet to meet with the new head of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and won't see Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg this week, even though he is in Washington for three days.  Stoltenberg’s office requested a meeting with Obama well in advance of the visit, but never heard anything from the White House, two sources close to the NATO chief told me.”

[Afghan President Ashraf Ghani will address a joint meeting of Congress today.]

Google caches in on Obama access - WSJ: “Since Obama took office, employees of the Mountain View, Calif., company have visited the White House for meetings with senior officials about 230 times, or an average of roughly once a week, according to the visitor logs reviewed by the Journal.”

WashEx: “Six Democratic senators and one independent have asked the Department of Health and Human Services to a delay a new rule that would likely force small businesses to pay more for employee health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. The senators warn that if the administration goes ahead with the change it would be ‘particularly harmful and disruptive’ to small businesses. Starting in 2016, the Obamacare change will require businesses that employ between 51-100 people to purchase insurance in what the government defines as the ‘small group market,’ rather than the market for large group plans. The senators warn that the change will inflate health care costs for those businesses.”

Irreconcilable differences - AP: “House and Senate Republicans steamed ahead Tuesday toward likely approval of balanced budget outlines, essential early steps along a path to send President Barack Obama legislation to wipe out his five-year-old health care law and eliminate deficits within a decade. Obama is all but certain to veto the follow-up legislation if and when it reaches his desk later this year, but Republican rebels and establishment-minded conservatives alike in the House paid that little mind… Senate Republicans forced a vote late...[Tuesday]...on Obama’s budget, which includes higher taxes on the wealthy and smokers, far more spending than Republicans favor and unending deficits…The plan failed, 98-1, with Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., casting the sole vote in its favor. A final vote was expected Wednesday on the House plan, and late Thursday or early Friday on the Senate's slightly different version.”

A federal appeals court in New Orleans has set an April 17 hearing date to decide whether President Obama’s executive amnesty for as many as 5 million illegal immigrants should go into effect while the underlying legal battle continues. If the administration, which has been ramping up for months in preparation of the amnesty, can begin issuing work permits and other documents while the case drags on, it could render moot the so-far-successful effort by 26 states seeking to block the president’s actions.

It took a while and there’s no one around to present a trophy, but for NASA, crossing the finish line of the inaugural Red Planet Marathon is reason for celebration. On Tuesday the Mars Rover, better known as Opportunity, marked an extraterrestrial milestone: covering a distance of 26.219 miles. The distance took approximately 11 years and two months to traverse. Late last year, Opportunity exceeded all long distance records set by off-Earth vehicles. Scientists working on the project are trying to keep their focus on the mission at hand, though Steve Squyres, Opportunity principal investigator at Cornell University said, “Still, running a marathon on Mars feels pretty cool.” Opportunity has far exceeded its original three month mission and as the rover continues to motor on, scientists have expanded research locations to explore on the Red Planet. To celebrate the marathon, the project team based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab is planning a marathon-length relay run of their own.

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Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval
: Approve – 45.1 percent//Disapprove – 51 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 30.4 percent//Wrong Track – 60.4 percent

IBT: “Don’t expect to see George W. Bush showing up at campaign rallies for brother Jeb Bush anytime soon. While the elder Bush brother is attending a fundraiser for the younger Wednesday, it’s unlikely he’ll be able to overcome his liabilities and become a real asset for the growing campaign. … It’s still possible Jeb Bush can make his brother’s presidency a net gain. The Bush family has an extensive donor network. Jeb Bush has been working to reactivate that network, which generously contributed to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, to scare other likely Republican candidates out of the race. The ready-made donor infrastructure could ultimately render most of the GOP field unable to compete. Romney found that after raising historic totals in 2012, some donors were proving more loyal to the Bush family.”

[Sagacious seer Josh Kraushaar lays out Jeb Bush’s nightmare scenario: A collapse of Giuliani-sized proportions.]

National Review’s Eliana Johnson reports: “[Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker] watchers have long questioned his ability to take his Wisconsin organization national. And his proto-presidential operation is in many ways a Wisconsin one: steering the ship are Keith Gilkes, who managed Walker’s 2010 campaign and his recall election, and served as the governor’s chief of staff during his first term in office; R. J. Johnson, Walker’s longtime campaign strategist; and Stephan Thompson, who served as deputy campaign manager for Walker’s 2010 bid and ran his 2014 campaign for reelection.”

“According to several people who have worked with Walker over the years — most of whom requested anonymously to speak candidly — the central problem in the Walker organization is that the governor has long served as his own campaign strategist — and he’s obviously a good one. As a result, he’s never had to build a large team of political professionals and delegate to it. ‘He’s his own chief strategist, he’s his own speechwriter, he’s his own PR person,’ says a Wisconsinite who has known the governor since his days as a county executive. ‘That may work when you’re a county executive. It’s a little more problematic when you’re the governor of a state, but you absolutely can’t do that when you’re running for president.’”

Picks up a top Romney staffer - AP: “Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is adding another senior staffer with national experience as his political operation grows ahead of a likely 2016 presidential run. The Republican governor's political action committee has tapped Matt Hall to serve as director of operations. Hall held a similar position for 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.”

Walker, Jeb tied in N.H. poll - Scott Walker and Jeb Bush are in a statistical tie in a poll of N.H GOP voters by Gravis Marketing. With a margin of error of +/- 4 points, Walker leads at 19 percent to Bush’s 18 percent. “Unsure” is third at 16 percent. Chris Christie and Rand Paul follow, tied at 10 percent. Marco Rubio has 7 percent, Ted Cruz and Ben Carson tied at 6 percent. Carly Fiorina and Mike Huckabee drew 4 percent each, with Rick Santorum at 1 percent.

[Walker campaigns in Phoenix today]

Bloomberg: “One day after announcing himself as presidential candidate, Texas Senator Ted Cruz fired a few shots across the bow of Wall Street, and the firm that employs his wife as managing director. In an interview with Bloomberg’s With All Due Respect, Cruz was asked by host Mark Halperin whether, on balance, Goldman Sachs was a positive or a negative force on society. ‘Like any institution, there’s some of both,’ Cruz responded, adding, ‘Goldman is one of the biggest banks on Wall Street, and my criticism with Washington is they engage in crony capitalism. … I think big business, if they’re building a better mousetrap, great, but it shouldn’t be government favoring, and let me give you an example: Dodd-Frank. Sold to the American people as stopping ‘too-big-to-fail.’ What happened? The big banks have gotten bigger. Goldman has gotten bigger...’”

Signs up for ObamaCare - Des Moines Register: “Ted Cruz, one of the loudest critics of Obamacare, will soon be using it for health insurance coverage. ‘We will presumably go on the exchange and sign up for health care, and we're in the process of transitioning over to do that,’ Cruz, a Republican candidate for president, told The Des Moines Register on Tuesday. Cruz’s wife, Heidi, is going on an unpaid leave of absence from her job at Goldman Sachs to join Cruz full time on the campaign trail, Cruz told the Register…”

Says politics drove switch to country music - WaPo: “In an interview with CBS News Tuesday, Cruz said he grew up listening to classic rock, but became a country fan after 9/11 because of how musicians responded to the attacks. ‘I actually find this intellectually curious, but on 9/11, I didn't like how rock music responded, and country music collectively, the way they responded, it resonated with me, and I just have to say just at a gut level, I had an emotional reaction that said these are my people,’ he said.”

“We’re both first-term senators…Both went to Harvard, but there are marked differences. In [Barack Obama’s] time in the Senate, he was basically a back-bencher, did not lead on any issues of real significance. And in my time in the Senate, there are a lot of faults I have, but nobody would accuse me of being a back-bencher.” –Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, on “The Kelly File” Watch here.

New Hampshire Union Leader: “Ohio Gov. John Kasich, in New Hampshire exploring a run for President, said a factor in his consideration is whether he can be a true contender this time. He likened his run in 2000 to running into a wall and not making a dent. The Republican said the ideal nominee in 2016 will be someone who ‘isn’t going to play hard-core, partisan politics’ and can unite the country in the ‘same way we’ve done it in Ohio.’ Kasich, in an interview Tuesday with the New Hampshire Union Leader, confronted two issues with sharp partisan edges for some in his party: Common Core and immigration reform…He also touted the importance of a balanced budget amendment, and a convention of states to amend the Constitution to achieve it. ‘I am shocked that there are Republicans who just somehow think that this discipline is going to be imposed on Congress. It’s mind-boggling to me,’ he said.”

[Kasich will deliver remarks to economists today in Manhattan at the 21 Club following similar remarks by Gov. Scott Walker last month.]

Bloomberg: “Former Texas Governor Rick Perry sounded an awful lot like a candidate for president as he questioned U.S. policies on energy, immigration and education at a Bloomberg-sponsored forum in Houston. Perry also cited his blue-collar background and military service Tuesday, and said he could win Iowa and Pennsylvania's presidential nominating contests if he runs in what is expected to be a crowded Republican field in 2016. Whoever wins, it will have nothing to do with ‘what your last name is,’ Perry said, referring to pundits’ assertions that the White House will be won by another Bush or a Clinton”

AP: “New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is heading to Philadelphia to raise money for his political action committee - and protesters from New Jersey are following. Christie is scheduled to attend a fundraising reception for his Leadership Matters for America PAC Wednesday evening. …  Christie has a busy few days of travel. He’ll go to Texas for fundraisers Thursday and deliver a speech at a Michigan Lincoln Day dinner Friday.”

[New Hampshire Union Leader: “New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is confirmed as a speaker at the New Hampshire Republican Party’s ‘First in the Nation’ Leadership Summit on April 17-18.”]

“Like most psychopaths. That’s why they’re successful. That’s the way they look. They all look great.” – Ben Carson quoted in a GQ profile regarding President Obama’s appearance during the State of the Union address.

The Indianapolis Star’s Tom LoBianco has the breakdown on the early frontrunners to replace retiring Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind. The short list includes Coats’ state director, Eric Holcomb, a former state legislator, state party chairman and protégé of former Gov. Mitch Daniels. Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind., whom Coats edged out for the GOP nomination in 2010, may also be weighing a bid. With former Sen. Evan Bayh taking himself out of the running, Democrats will have to hope former Democratic Rep. Baron Hill or another potential candidate could take advantage of a GOP fumble like the one in 2012.

With the recent news that the Ringling Brothers circus will eliminate elephants in its acts, two of the animals appear to have found work as first responders. The Natchitoches Parish, La. Sheriff’s Department responded to a call to assist with diverting traffic around an 18-wheeler obstructing an exit on Interstate 49. The tractor-trailer, which was transporting three elephants from Florida to Texas, had gotten stuck in the mud when the driver pulled off to the rain-soaked shoulder. The driver and trainer coaxed two of the animals out of the trailer to help prop up the tilted side of the trailer until a tow truck arrived. The department has helpfully provided photos of the pachyderms at work.

“This is not [Hamid Karzai], who insisted on tweaking and insulting the United States, and really sort of implying he was sympathetic with the Taliban. [Afghan President Ashraf Ghani] is a guy who is really very pro-American. What we heard him say is a thing we never heard him say from Karzai, which I think turned America against the war more than anything else: no expression of gratitude.” —Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier” Watch here.

Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News.  Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up