In reversal, Kelly will join lawmakers in briefings on FBI informant

White House chief of staff John Kelly will attend two briefings at the Justice Department on Thursday about an FBI informant who interacted with the Trump campaign in the 2016 election — ensuring that President Donald Trump will have a high-level emissary there for a discussion of sensitive evidence connected to his associates.

Kelly’s presence comes despite previous White House assurances that no member of the president’s team would attend the Justice Department gathering.

It’s unclear if the briefings will include documents or details about the informant’s work for the FBI or whether they’ll cover the intelligence community’s reluctance to share the highly classified information with members of Congress. Trump allies in Congress spent the day Wednesday expressing doubts that the Justice Department would provide substantive information, though the Justice Department has declined to reveal what it will share.

At the first briefing, Kelly will join Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, FBI Director Christopher Wray, and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats to brief two top House Republicans who have demanded information on the informant: Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes and Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy.

Nunes and Gowdy have been invited to the second briefing, as well, along with the House and Senate leaders of both parties, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, and the leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

It’s unclear why Nunes (R-Calif.) and Gowdy (R-S.C.) are receiving a briefing separate from the subsequent one with other lawmakers. But the two chairmen have demanded information from the Justice Department about the FBI’s use of an informant who interacted with at least two members of Trump’s foreign policy team in 2016, amid an investigation into the campaign’s contacts with Russians.

Democrats have accused Nunes, in particular, of trying to unearth facts about the Russia investigation in an effort to help protect the president from the investigation being run by special counsel Robert Mueller. Kelly’s presence at the meeting is certain to reinforce that perspective, especially after White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders assured reporters that “no member of the White House staff” would attend.

Rudy Giuliani, one of Trump’s lawyers, has also publicly insisted that the president should learn the facts about the informant’s role in the campaign, telling POLITICO that it’s important for Trump to obtain “exculpatory” evidence — though he hasn’t been charged in the ongoing investigation.

“He wants them to turn over the information that exists about the informant to the House and Senate committees,” Giuliani told POLITICO. “All the memos they have. That’ll indicate what the informant found. Then those should be made available to us on a confidential basis. We should be at least allowed to read them so we know this exculpatory evidence is being preserved.”

The first briefing for Nunes and Gowdy is set for noon, while the following briefing for the broader pool of members is slated for 2 p.m.

Advertisements

Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off

The Nobel committee will presumably be disappointed, but President Donald Trump should cancel his planned June 12 summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

The meeting is much more likely to serve Kim’s interests rather than ours and could well begin the unraveling of the pressure campaign that is our most reliable point of leverage against the regime. There is every reason for Kim to want a superficially successful summit in Singapore, and the easiest way to deny him one is to call the whole thing off.

The past week has shown that the North Koreans aren’t to be underestimated—something that is easy to forget because the regime is not just heinous and evil, but ridiculous. Pyongyang managed to wrap the president around the axle on “the Libyan model” and got him to go wobbly on rapid and complete denuclearization with just a few pointed statements.

The Hermit Kingdom can barely feed its people and can’t keep its lights on, but it is good at this. Its existence literally depends on its shrewd diplomatic gamesmanship with the West, winning concessions that give it an economic lifeline while still preserving and advancing its weapons systems.

Trump deserves credit for tightening a sanctions regime with considerable slack in it and intimidating Kim with his battery of insults and bombast. But the president was pushing on an open door: If history is any guide, the North wanted to use its bout of missile tests to get back to the negotiating table, and so it has.

While Trump imagines himself doing what no president has before—solving the conflict on the Korean Peninsula — the North Koreans believe they can get Trump to do what other presidents have done before—give it a favorable deal in the hopes of solving the conflict on the Korean Peninsula.

Although the North Koreans surely worry about the “madman” theory of Trump, they also must consider him in some respects an easy mark. His weakness is obviously his susceptibility to flattery and his self image as the world’s best deal-maker. Throw in an allergy to details and the North Koreans have plenty of material to work with.

Their threat to pull out of the summit was clearly meant to exploit Trump’s eagerness for the meeting, demonstrated by his premature boastfulness. And they’ve had early success in starting a negotiation over a negotiation that pushed Trump to, at least momentarily, soften the core U.S. demand of swift denuclearization.

The president has attempted to prove that he doesn’t want the meeting more than Kim by saying that the summit isn’t guaranteed, but calling it off would render what was supposed to be a prospective signature foreign policy triumph a complete fizzle.

This is a testament to the shrewdness of the North Koreans—something that wasn’t imaginable a few months ago, a face-to-face meeting between the president of the United States and the Supreme Leader, would now be painful for Trump to give up.

For their part, the North Koreans almost certainly want the summit. If nothing else, it’s a prestige boost to Kim. And then there’s possible strategic benefits of a good meeting. Kim will have every incentive to be deferential to Trump and tell him what he wants to hear in the hopes of a warm embrace and encouraging words at summit’s end.

It’s possible to imagine Kim going further and making a theatrical gesture. What if he immediately agrees to decommission a handful of nuclear weapons and ship them to the United States in a mediagenic sign of his alleged good faith? A sweeping tide of favorable international news coverage of the historic meeting would make holding the line on sanctions difficult to impossible.

South Korea would push to send humanitarian relief to the North and begin economic projects with Pyongyang, on the strength of the supposed breakthrough. We would be hard-pressed to deny the South, and then the policy of maximum pressure would be on the way to steadily loosening pressure. If this isn’t their goal, the North Koreans have learned nothing from the past 30 years.

Of course, superficial success isn’t the only possible outcome in Singapore. The summit could make sense if Trump decides to use it to highlight the treachery and oppressiveness of the North Korean regime. Such a meeting could be a useful exercise in coercive diplomacy, but would have to be considered as another step in a campaign of escalating pressure rather than the forum for an instantly transformed relationship with the North.

Such an approach would carry its own risks if the U.S. takes the blame for the perceived failure of the meeting. So why go to Singapore in the first place?

There’s always the very remote chance that the North is willing to give up its nuclear weapons. If so, let the North Koreans demonstrate their good faith and their new strategic orientation during a year or so of low-level talks building up to a high-profile meeting. In the meantime, maximum pressure can continue.

Trump loves high drama and believes he can size up anyone across the negotiating table. That makes Singapore all the more alluring, but he’d be better off staying home and playing a round of golf.

Mueller fights media access to secret court filings

Special counsel Robert Mueller is fighting a drive by media organizations to unseal secret court filings relating to searches and surveillance efforts undertaken as part of the investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia in the 2016 election.

While lawyers for President Donald Trump have suggested in recent weeks that the inquiry appears to be winding down, Mueller’s prosecutors submitted a court filing on Wednesday that painted a very different picture of an investigation that is moving forward on multiple fronts and could be jeopardized by premature disclosure of the records sought by news outlets.

“The Special Counsel’s investigation is not a closed matter, but an ongoing criminal investigation with multiple lines of non-public inquiry,” prosecutors wrote in a brief submitted to U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson. “The investigation consists of multiple lines of inquiry within the overall scope of the Special Counsel’s authority. Many aspects of the investigation are factually and legally interconnected: they involve overlapping courses of conduct, relationships, and events, and they rely on similar sources, methods, and techniques. The investigation is not complete and its details remain non-public.”

While Mueller’s inquiry has now been underway for more than a year and the FBI was investigating even earlier, none of a slew of search warrants, surveillance requests and similar filings have been officially unsealed by the courts. However, defense lawyers for Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman, have made public some details on two search warrants they have challenged in the criminal cases against their client.

Last month, five news organizations — POLITICO, The Associated Press, The New York Times, CNN and The Washington Post — asked Jackson to unseal an unknown number of warrants and similar orders obtained during the course of the investigation.

“The gravity and importance of this criminal investigation is second to none in our nation’s history, and therefore the public’s interest in the transparency of that investigation could not be greater,” lawyers Jay Ward Brown and Matthew Kelley wrote on behalf of the media coalition.

The news outlets suggested that deletion of some details could accommodate any concerns about particularly sensitive aspects of the filings, but Mueller’s team said Wednesday that such an alternative would not prevent damage to the ongoing investigation. Indeed, the prosecutors said that revealing even bare-bones information about when warrants were issued could inflict grave damage on the inquiry.

“The dates and volume of warrants also reveal the evolution and direction of investigative interests,” Mueller attorneys Michael Dreeben, Andrew Weissmann and Adam Jed wrote. “Making this information public while an investigation is ongoing could pose a clear and ominous threat to the investigation’s integrity.”

Mueller’s team offered one concession: It said it would agree to a fuller but still less-than-complete release of the two search warrants being battled over in the Manafort cases.

“Because these are among the earliest warrants obtained in the investigation and only two warrants are at issue,” the prosecutors wrote, “the government believes that it could practicably redact sensitive information and nonetheless leave unredacted certain information whose disclosure would not harm the ongoing investigation.”

Midterms are in Putin’s crosshairs, ex-spy chief says

Not content with installing Donald Trump in the White House in 2016, Russian President Vladimir Putin is now revising his sophisticated meddling operation in order to outflank U.S. security agencies and tip the scales in the upcoming congressional midterm races, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told POLITICO on Wednesday.

Clapper made that assertion as part of a wide-ranging interview timed with the release of his memoirs about his 50-plus years in the U.S. intelligence community, “Facts and Fears: Hard Truths From a Life in Intelligence.”

Clapper, 77, says he thinks the Kremlin, led personally by Putin, is already engaged in an ongoing and active influence effort that is even more elaborate than the one he believes was used during the 2016 campaign to swing the election. That’s based on his years of government service at the highest echelons of the security apparatus, he said in the interview, as well as information he has learned since leaving office Jan. 20, 2017, the day Trump was sworn in as president.

“I have no doubt that they are doing that now, and I think they’re going to do it in ways that are more subtle and harder to detect,” Clapper said of the Russian meddling effort. “I’m sure they went to school to critique what they did in the presidential election in 2016. I think they will find more ways to be subtle, and be a lot less noisy than they were the last time.”

This time, he added, “I think some of the competition among the intelligence services will be moderated.” For Russia, that would be a big improvement over 2016, when its various security agencies — and hacker groups known by nicknames such as Fancy Bear and Cozy Bear — were deployed.

In the book, the veteran spook — and son of an intelligence officer — provides previously undisclosed detail about his lead role in the frenzied U.S. effort to stop the Kremlin influence campaign from changing the outcome of the presidential race. Administration officials also had to do that, he said, without creating concerns that President Barack Obama was trying to help the Democratic nominee, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Clapper, who has served under every president since John F. Kennedy, has often criticized Putin and Trump for what he says are their mutually beneficial roles in the 2016 meddling effort. Since leaving office, he has also been an outspoken critic of Trump for his attacks on the U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies investigating the interference campaign.

Clapper further elaborates on those criticisms in the book, contending that Trump has tarnished the office of the presidency and threatened fundamental democratic institutions by claiming that he is the victim of a politically motivated witch hunt. He also notes that while in office, he could not go beyond the joint assessment he issued with Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson in October 2016. That report concluded that the intelligence community was “confident” of the Russian government’s interference in the election, but it did not have the mandate to weigh in on whether the Kremlin effort impacted the outcome of the election.

But Clapper goes much further in his interview, and in the book, by describing how successful he believes the Russian campaign was in putting Trump over the top in a closely fought race that virtually every expert said he was going to lose.

“What I’m offering is what I would call informed opinion, because I didn’t do empirical research on voter decisions, either,” Clapper told POLITICO. “But when I looked at the evidence, the massive effort the Russians made and the multi-dimensional aspects of it — the number of people that the Russians reached, in many cases who were unknowing, and the fact that the election turned on less than 80,000 votes in three states — it just stretches logic and credulity to think that it didn’t have impact.”

“I feel, and this is just my opinion,” he said, “that they swung the election.”

Notoriously averse to media interviews, Clapper made that point even more bluntly in the book, which was released Tuesday evening. “Of course the Russian efforts affected the outcome,” he wrote. “Surprising even themselves, they swung the election to a Trump win.”

Clapper stops short of saying there was active collusion between Trump campaign operatives, and Trump himself, and Russian agents and their proxies. But Trump’s refusal to even acknowledge — and address — the issue, is of grave concern, he said, as is his support for positions friendly to Russia.

“Allegations of collusion and the results of the election,” he writes, “were secondary to the profound threat Russia posed — and poses — to our system.”

Now, as the U.S. government mounts what many critics say is an inadequate response to future Russian meddling efforts, Putin is overseeing an intensive effort to do it again, Clapper told POLITICO.

One of his most serious concerns, Clapper said, is that Russian cyberspooks could use a wealth of knowledge gained from their intrusions of state electoral systems in the 2016 campaign to affect the actual vote this time around. There is no indication that Moscow deleted, manipulated or outright stole state voter data, he said, and “as best we can tell, there was no interference with voter tallies.”

“That’s not to say that they won’t resort to that in the future,” he said. “I don’t think they reconnoitered our voting systems for nothing.”

“In those cases where they reconnoitered voter registration rolls,” Clapper added, “my assumption was that they were just trying to get smart so that if they do it again, they will be a lot more subtle about it.”

Trump considering 25 percent tax on car imports, citing national security

President Donald Trump wants to put a 25 percent tariff on imports of automobiles under a similar authority that allowed him to slap duties on imports of steel and aluminum in order to protect U.S. national security, a senior administration official confirmed.

The potential tariffs, which would only come after a lengthy investigation into the national security threat of imported automobiles, are being threatened at the same time as U.S. negotiators are trying to get Canada and Mexico to agree to demands that would overhaul NAFTA’s auto rules.

The investigation, which would run through the Commerce Department, could take several months to complete and would likely end with Commerce making recommendations on whether and how to restrict car imports, which Trump could then choose whether or not to accept.

Mexico and Canada are two of the three largest exporters of autos to the U.S. Trump has also repeatedly complained about auto imports from Germany and Japan, and has raised the issue in talks with world leaders.

Manufacturers of foreign brand autos like Toyota, Nissan and Aston Martin expressed alarm after The Wall Street Journal first reported Wednesday afternoon that the Trump administration is considering a hefty tax on imported cars to protect U.S. national security. The news outlet, quoting industry officials briefed on the broad outline of the plan, said the Trump administration is considering an inquiry to justify up to a 25 percent tariff on auto imports, which totaled $176 billion in 2017. That‘s exponentially larger than the imports of about $30 billion for steel and $18 billion for aluminum.

"If these reports are true, it’s a bad day for American consumers," John Bozzella, CEO of Global Automakers, said in a statement. "The U.S. auto industry is thriving and growing. Thirteen, soon to be 14 companies, produced nearly 12 million cars and trucks in America last year. To our knowledge, no one is asking for this protection. This path leads inevitably to fewer choices and higher prices for cars and trucks in America.”

On Wednesday morning, Trump indicated some action is coming on autos, although it was unclear whether he was referring to ongoing talks with China, NAFTA negotiations with Canada and Mexico or something else.

"There will be big news coming soon for our great American Autoworkers. After many decades of losing your jobs to other countries, you have waited long enough!" Trump wrote on Twitter.

Trump appeared to link a potential action on autos with NAFTA talks when he told reporters later on Wednesday that he felt the auto industry would “be very happy with what’s going to happen.”

“You’ll be seeing very soon what I’m talking about,” he said before his trip to Long Island. “NAFTA is very difficult. Mexico has been very difficult to deal with. Canada has been very difficult to deal with. They have been taking advantage of the United States for a long time. I am not happy with their requests. But I will tell you, in the end, we win. We will win, and we’ll win big.”

Trump has already imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum after a Commerce Department investigation determined that current imports of both metals were large enough to threaten the long-term viability of both domestic industries, thereby putting U.S. national security at risk. Any new inquiry would also rely on the so-called Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, a, gives the executive branch the ability to conduct investigations to “determine the effects on the national security of imports.”

Last year, the U.S. imported $43 billion worth of cars from Canada, $39 billion from Japan, $30 billion from Mexico, $21 billion from Germany, $16 billion from South Korea and additional amounts from other suppliers.

The White House, Commerce Department and Office of the U.S. Trade Representative did not respond to requests for comment.

Adam Behsudi contributed to this report.

Senate Republicans shun ‘Spygate’

As House Republicans rage against the FBI and join President Donald Trump’s war on the Justice Department, their counterparts in the Senate are deliberately avoiding the crossfire.

Two prominent House Intelligence Committee members are set for an unprecedented briefing from FBI Director Chris Wray and deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Thursday regarding whether an informant was installed in the Trump campaign. But Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) wasn’t even complaining about his omission before the White House late Wednesday announced a separate meeting on the matter with him, as well as congressional leaders in both parties.

It’s not that GOP senators aren’t interested in potential misconduct by law enforcement officials. But their default is to defend the FBI rank-and-file, not trash its leadership, as House members did at a press conference on Tuesday.

"Unfortunately, the politics over in the House have become the issue. And in the Senate we’ve tried not to become to the issue, we’ve tried to investigate the facts," said Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas), who recently gave a speech defending FBI agents in the face of attacks from the House.

Senate Republicans are not dismissive of the FBI informant matter and are still demanding documents from the Justice Department about it. Plus, a trio of Senate Republicans on the Judiciary Committee quietly asked to attend Thursday’s event, including Cornyn, who serves on both the Intelligence and Judiciary committees.

But Burr and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) have maintained a cooperative bipartisan rapport during the panel’s probe into Russia’s influence on the 2016 elections. And senators don’t want it to devolve into the months-long food fight that the House’s Intelligence Committee has become.

In a sharp contrast to the House’s dueling partisan assessments of the Russia investigation, the Senate panel has released several reports together with sign-off from both parties. And the White House’s plans for a bipartisan briefing after Memorial Day with the intelligence committee’s leaders marked a victory for the upper chamber’s approach.

“There’s a stylistic difference. We’re trying to be able to work through it in a bipartisan way as much as we can,” said Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.). “It’s important for the country because this is going to be a very contentious investigation … whatever the decision is at the end, we’ve got to be able to say we were together on this.”

The split has House members patting themselves on the back for their more aggressive posture.

"We’ve been leaning forward into this I think a little faster and a little further than the Senate has," said Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah).

Whether Senate Republicans are succeeding in their efforts to depoliticize their own investigatory efforts is another question. Senate Republicans have tried to stay above the rhetoric from Trump and his allies, underscoring their support for Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into potential collusion with Russia by the president’s allies.

Thursday’s meeting between senior law enforcement officials and House Republicans, however, further tests the Senate GOP’s ability to conduct oversight without blocking and tackling too much for Trump. Many Democrats are clamoring for the inclusion of the bipartisan leaders of the House and Senate, as well as their respective intelligence committee leaders — the “Gang of Eight" that often participates in high-level national security briefings.

Among the highly skeptical Democrats is Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a liberal on the Judiciary panel who lamented the lack of transparency surrounding the White House’s involvement in the informant spat. It’s “hard to evaluate what value” GOP senators could add, he said, without Democrats being involved.

“What kind of congressional oversight only involves one party?” Whitehouse asked. Limiting the number of lawmakers privy to such sensitive law enforcement information, he noted, typically involves the Gang of Eight as a matter of custom.

“So if this isn’t traditional oversight, because it’s partisan, then what the hell is it?” Whitehouse added. “Is it just planning and scheming to help the president and obstruct an investigation?”

South Dakota Sen. John Thune, the No. 3 GOP leader, said that having Senate Republicans at the meeting “would probably be a good thing” and suggested that top Democrats in the Gang of Eight should also be involved even before the White House agreed — yet another oblique criticism of the House’s unicameral, partisan approach.

Burr has studiously avoided even commenting on the informant issue, wary of how partisan the issue has become on the other side of the Capitol. He and most other members of his committee are worried about the lasting damage that could come from portraying the FBI as a political enemy and the precedent that will be set from outing a confidential informant in a partisan way.

Asked on Thursday whether his stance on the informant meeting had changed, Burr said in a brief interview that “I’d leave it up to the process.” It’s clear that if he had agreed to attend and leave Warner behind, it could damage their relationship.

Warner warned that he might “start to lose faith and trust in individuals that would attend such a meeting, since this is against any of the traditional procedures and protocols that the intelligence community has used for decades.”

Reminded that some Senate Republicans have sought to attend the meeting, Warner decried “antics driven by these House guys.”

The three GOP senators who requested to attend the Thursday meeting with DOJ and FBI, Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and Cornyn, had yet to receive a reply as of late Wednesday. Grassley had earlier received a pledge from Rosenstein to get “access to the same information” that the House intelligence panel has received in its ongoing probe of the FBI’s investigative activity ahead of the 2016 election.

“There has to be accountability and oversight by the Congress of how the Department of Justice and the FBI do their work,” Cornyn said on Wednesday. “The idea that they’re going to say what we can see and what we can’t see is offensive.”

Two Democrats on the Judiciary panel, Sens. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Patrick Leahy of Vermont, pushed back Wednesday with a plea for DOJ to cancel the meeting. They cited the “danger of illegal disclosure potentially catastrophic to confidential sources and operations.”

Similarly, Maine GOP Sen. Susan Collins, an intelligence committee member, highlighted the risks of such a meeting.

“It becomes very dicey when you’re talking about a confidential FBI informant,” she said. “I can understand [Burr and Warner’s] reservations.”

A top House GOP ally of Trump’s, Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, told reporters that he doesn’t expect DOJ to disclose the informant-related documents that the president’s supporters have pushed for access to.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), another Intelligence member, said he‘s not concerned with the Justice Department’s actions and believes the department was targeting people claiming to be “agents of a foreign government … they were targeting those individuals, not the campaign.”

“On this particular case, if something was done inappropriate, we should know about it,” Rubio said. “But that hasn’t been my sense up to now.”

Kyle Cheney contributed to this report.

New Jersey’s top lawmaker calls on states to reject sports betting ‘integrity fees’

The top lawmaker in New Jersey is calling on governors in all 50 states to reject efforts by professional sports leagues to collect an “integrity fee” on sports betting revenue, saying their demands were tantamount to “extortion.”

State Senate President Steve Sweeney, a Democrat who championed New Jersey’s years-long effort to overturn a federal ban on state-sanctioned sports betting, said the leagues are more concerned with getting a piece of the action than protecting the integrity of their games. The leagues spent millions of dollars fighting New Jersey’s sports betting laws, leading to last week’s Supreme Court ruling in the state’s favor.

“The Leagues fought with all of their resources to stop states from allowing their citizens to legally wager on sports,” Sweeney wrote in a letter to governors and lawmakers in each state. “Now that their efforts have been ultimately unsuccessful they wish themselves to make ‘the fast buck’ and to ‘get something for nothing.’ Essentially, the Leagues are asking to be paid to allow games to be played fairly.”

Last week’s 6-3 Supreme Court ruling, which strikes down a 1992 federal law that banned most states from passing laws that regulate sports betting, will open up a number of states to a multibillion-dollar business that’s thrived illegally for generations. As states across the country race to pass laws allowing athletic wagering, the sports leagues are angling for both the so-called integrity fees and also a say in the types of regulations that will be put in place.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell this week called on Congress to enact a nationwide regulatory scheme, saying he had “no greater priority” than protecting the integrity of football and that he moving forward with “substantial education and compliance trainings for our clubs, players, employees and partners.” He said lawmakers should enact “core standards” for states that choose allow legal sports betting.

But Sweeney, who is sponsoring a sports betting bill in Trenton that’s likely to be sent to Gov. Phil Murphy on June 7, said giving the leagues some of the gaming revenue would not boost confidence in the integrity of the game. Instead, he said, it would result in “increased skepticism.”

“Taking the Leagues at their word, giving them a ‘piece of the action,’ would make suspicions grow whenever turning-point calls in close games go in favor of the more popular team — whose presence in the ‘big game’ would drive ratings and betting,” Sweeney wrote.

At an unrelated event with Sweeney on Wednesday, Murphy declined to say whether he would support such integrity fees. But he said he was moving quickly to settle on a regulatory scheme agreeable to all the top players in Trenton.

“We’re working well with the Senate president and his team, the speaker and team, as we pull this thing together. I think it will happen sooner than later,” Murphy said. “We’re having a meeting on Friday and that’s something we’re going to talk about, among other things.”

In a statement Wednesday, Major League Baseball said the league’s focus is on “developing meaningful partnerships with state governments and operators across the country."

“We will use our expertise, rights and footprint to help the states that have smart and modern sports betting laws develop the country’s most successful betting markets within a regulatory framework that protects the integrity of our games, which is most paramount," MLB said in its statement.