THE MEETING OF THE WEEK — Congress is gone. Passover begins tonight. D.C. will be unnaturally quiet this week, save the ongoing wars in President Donald Trump’s West Wing. This week’s headliner is a White House visit by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg Wednesday. Trump hasn’t been shy when it comes to NATO, saying that the United States shoulders too much of the financial burden for the 28-nation alliance.
ONE THOUGHT FROM INSIDE THE WHITE HOUSE — One West Winger tells us that PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP seems willing to give the Bannon-Kushner-Priebus detente time to try to take hold before making any drastic staff changes. Of course, no one truly knows what the president is thinking or what he will do, because his decision-making process is, well, unconventional. But this White House insider said the Syria bombing gave Trump some momentum, and with Congress out of town, Trump could be poised for another good week.
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SHANE GOLDMACHER GETS INSIDE THE ROOM — THE 100-DAY MARKER APPROACHES — “One hundred days is the marker, and we’ve got essentially two-and-a-half weeks to turn everything around,’ said one White House official. ‘This is going to be a monumental task.’ … More than 30 Trump staffers piled into a conference room in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building adjoining the White House, according to a half-dozen attendees who described the Tuesday meeting.
“Mike Dubke, Trump’s communications director, and his deputy, Jessica Ditto, kicked off the discussion of how to package Trump’s tumultuous first 100 days by pitching the need for a ‘rebranding’ to get Trump back on track. … Staffers, including counselor Kellyanne Conway, were broken into three groups, complete with whiteboards, markers and giant butcher-block-type paper to brainstorm lists of early successes. One group worked in the hallway. ‘It made me feel like I was back in 5th grade,’ complained another White House aide who was there. ‘That’s the best way I could describe it.’ …
"Dubke, who did not work on the campaign, told the assembled aides that international affairs would present a messaging challenge because the president lacks a coherent foreign policy. … ‘There is no Trump doctrine,’ Dubke declared. Some in the room were stunned by the remark. ‘It rubbed people the wrong way because on the campaign we were pretty clear about what he wanted to do,’ said a third White House official in the room, ‘He was elected on a vision of America First. America First is the Trump doctrine.’
“One of the administration officials lamented, ‘We’ve got a comms team supposedly articulating the president’s message [that] does not appear to understand the president’s message.’ Dubke told POLITICO he was disappointed White House staff would complain in the press rather than in real time. ‘It was a brainstorming session and I really wish they had spoken up in the room so that we could have had an open and honest conversation,’ he said. ‘It is unproductive adjudicating internal discussions through the media.’” http://politi.co/2nZvKpT
— A FEW THOUGHTS: This story by Shane is stunning for several reasons, not least because the White House communications director said the president doesn’t have a coherent foreign policy. Also, don’t expect much between now and the 100-day marker. Congress is gone for the next two weeks. The Republican health-care plan is on life support. And even the White House is getting wise that tax reform could be many months away. Funding the government and signing executive orders could be all Trump has to talk about. It’s a pretty striking contrast to past presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, who both passed significant pieces of legislation in their first 100 days.
SCOOP — “Trump makes nice with Koch brothers,” by Ken Vogel and Josh Dawsey: “President Donald Trump on Saturday night had a friendly chat at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach with twin mega-donor brothers David and Bill Koch, whose family had clashed with Trump during the campaign. Three people familiar with the interaction said it occurred when Trump stopped by as the billionaire brothers were eating dinner with conservative media entrepreneur Chris Ruddy, a friend of the president who is a member of Mar-a-Lago and is known to hold court with his guests at the membership-only club. The sources describe the chat as agreeable, but did not disclose the subject of the conversation. While Bill Koch supported Trump during the general election, David Koch and his older brother Charles Koch sidelined their massive political machine during the presidential campaign in protest of Trump.” http://politi.co/2ohjjs4
— SOMETHING TO WATCH: Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently elevated prosecutor Steven Cook to his inner circle to help him undo President Barack Obama’s Justice Department policies, which could include criminal justice reform, a major priority for the Koch brothers. (http://wapo.st/2op8STH) So this detente could just be temporary.
— WE HEARD … That President Trump and Melania were eating with Steve and Christine Schwarzman Saturday night at Mar-a-Lago. And Ruddy was also dining with Media General heiress Talbott Maxey and Miguel Forbes.
JMART SPECIAL FROM ATLANTA — “As Georgia Vote Nears, G.O.P. Asks if Ideological Purity Matters Anymore”: “Mr. Trump’s takeover of the Republican Party has blurred the bright-line ideological distinctions that defined the right for the past eight years. Driven more by personal loyalty and a ravenous appetite to win than by any fixed political philosophy, the deal-cutting president has been received warmly by some mainstream conservatives. At the same time, even ideological hard-liners who share the president’s pugilism but not his pragmatism have stuck by him because Mr. Trump has made the right enemies — and gleefully ridiculed them with public insults rarely heard from a president.
“These loyalties have upended the Tea Party-versus-establishment divide, which has dominated fratricidal primary seasons since 2010 but increasingly has the air of fins on the back of a car, a quaint relic from an earlier era. With Mr. Trump in charge, the political market for purity on the right has been devalued. … The shifting conservative fault lines are on display in the affluent and mall-dotted northern suburbs of Atlanta, which were at the front end of the South’s political realignment in the 1970s when they turned away from their Democratic roots and elected a loquacious young college professor named Newt Gingrich to Congress.” http://nyti.ms/2op7yA4
— JUST TO RECAP … Republicans are worried about this Georgia seat. The special election for CIA Director Mike Pompeo’s Wichita, Kansas-based seat has also turned competitive. And the DCCC is already sending senior staffers to California to try to knock off some Republicans there. http://lat.ms/2oWRNRB One thought on the California play: why don’t Democrats try to win some seats in cheaper media markets! Southern California will cost the party some serious coin.
PETER BAKER in the NYT, “For Obama, Syria Chemical Attack Shows Risk of ‘Deals With Dictators’”: “When it came time to make his case for the judgment of history, President Barack Obama had a ready rebuttal to one of the most cutting critiques of his time in office. Although friends and foes alike faulted him for not following through on his threat to retaliate when Syria gassed its own people in 2013, Mr. Obama would counter that he had actually achieved a better result through an agreement with President Bashar al-Assad to surrender all of his chemical weapons. After last week, even former Obama aides assume that he will have to rethink that passage in his memoir.” http://nyti.ms/2oWjZEa
–AP at 5:34 a.m.: “Israel shuts Egypt border crossing following terror warning”: “Israel closed its Taba border crossing to Egypt Monday following a warning by its anti-terrorism office of an ‘imminent’ militant attack there. The closure comes hours before the start of the Passover holiday, when Sinai is a popular destination for many Israelis. Soon after the announcement, sirens wailed in parts of southern Israel alerting residents to a rocket attack. The military said a rocket fired from Sinai exploded in an open field, causing no injuries. Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz said in a statement Monday there was intel regarding a potential ‘terror attack’ against tourists in the Sinai peninsula. The crossing remains open for those wanting to return from Egypt.” http://apne.ws/2nwTaqs
TRUMP’S MONDAY — The president is attending a swearing in ceremony for Neil Gorsuch, and will meet with OMB Director Mick Mulvaney.
THE JUICE …
— MOVEON.ORG is ramping up its activity in the Georgia special election, launching a six-figure TV and digital ad buy backing Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff. The ads focus on drawing a contrast between Ossoff and Trump and the Republican health care plan. The group is also mobilizing 15,000 of its members in the district to volunteer and vote and reports that its members have contributed more than $260,000 to his campaign since their endorsement. The ads http://bit.ly/2nwJrjT … http://bit.ly/2nZhY6p
— “Gun-control group vows $25M to fight ‘concealed carry’,” by Isaac Dovere: “Preparing for life with Donald Trump as president and Republican majorities in Congress, Mike Bloomberg’s gun control group is threaten to spend more than $25 million in 2018 races. Everytown for Gun Safety, founded and funded by the billionaire former New York City mayor, is hiring several new top staffers and turning much of its attention to state legislatures, while moving to a defensive posture in Washington as it tries to stop what’s known as ‘concealed carry reciprocity’ from becoming law. … Brynne Craig, most recently Hillary Clinton’s deputy director of state campaigns, is joining as Everytown’s managing director of external affairs and civic engagement. … Eric Schultz will oversee Everytown’s communications and political strategy while continuing his role as a senior adviser to former President Barack Obama.” http://politi.co/2oQLob6
–“TV ads slam Republicans over would-be Obamacare repeal,” by Kyle Cheney: “Save My Care, a coalition of left-leaning health care advocacy groups fighting to preserve Obamacare, is launching a seven-figure TV ad buy in seven competitive House districts across the country. … The ads target five Republican lawmakers from districts won by Hillary Clinton, including [Darrell] Issa, whose Orange County district Clinton carried by eight points. Other Republicans in Clinton-won districts include Arizona’s Martha McSally, Colorado’s Mike Coffman and Florida’s Carlos Curbelo and California’s David Valadao.” http://politi.co/2pkVzkz … The ad against Issa http://bit.ly/2op6QTs
SPORTS BLINK — “Sergio Garcia completes his transformation by winning the Masters,” by WaPo’s Barry Svrluga in Augusta, Georgia: “In Sergio Garcia’s folded knees and collapsing legs and in his bend at the waist that could not be controlled was everything from the past two decades, self-doubt and self-loathing and all the pain both can bring. He has been — pick a phrase because over the years we have used them all — star-crossed and whiny, unlucky and unsure, talented and tortured. Each applies. But Sunday night, so much of his life changed. … And so, this: a downhill putt on Augusta’s 18th green, one that curled ever so delicately into the bottom of the cup. It’s a putt he has missed his whole career. Heck, it’s a putt he missed not a half an hour earlier — not from the same spot but with the same stakes. This one that finally, gloriously went in? It came on the first extra hole of the 81st Masters. It settled in for birdie. It beat Englishman Justin Rose. It made him a Masters champion.” http://wapo.st/2oQM3cr
JEFFREY TOOBIN in The New Yorker, “The Conservative Pipeline to the Supreme Court: With the Federalist Society, Leonard Leo has reared a generation of originalist élites. The selection of Neil Gorsuch is just his latest achievement”: “Leo has for many years been the executive vice-president of the Federalist Society, a nationwide organization of conservative lawyers, based in Washington. Leo served, in effect, as Trump’s subcontractor on the selection of Gorsuch … Leo’s role in the nomination capped a period of extraordinary influence for him and for the Federalist Society. During the Administration of George W. Bush, Leo also played a crucial part in the nominations of John Roberts and Samuel Alito. Now that Gorsuch has been confirmed, Leo is responsible, to a considerable extent, for a third of the Supreme Court.” http://bit.ly/2oioKoM
BANNON WATCH — “How Bannon’s multimedia machine drove a movement and paid him millions,” by WaPo’s Shawn Boburg and Robert O’Harrow Jr.: “A Washington Post examination found that [Steve] Bannon was able to produce more than a dozen conservative documentaries over the past decade by drawing on a network of two dozen nonprofit organizations and private companies. Bannon helped arrange donations from wealthy Republicans to the nonprofits that paid him for films and other work, documents show. At the same time, Bannon and his firms took in at least $2 million from the nonprofits and an additional $5 million from the private companies, records show.
“Bannon, who had already made millions on Wall Street, often was paid in multiple ways for each project — a common practice in Hollywood, where he had worked as an entertainment financier. Because he was paid through the nonprofit and private companies, which have limited obligations to disclose details about their activities, the total pay to Bannon remains unknown … Bannon, the White House and Schweizer did not respond to repeated requests for comment. Tax specialists told The Post that some of Bannon’s activities raise questions about compliance with Internal Revenue Service restrictions against using tax exempt charities to attack a political candidate or for excessive personal financial benefit.” http://wapo.st/2oWqqqS
COMING ATTRACTIONS — “W.H. considers order that could lead to more tariffs,” by CNN’s Daniella Diaz: “President Donald Trump’s administration is drafting an executive order to investigate the extent to which the unfair dumping and subsidization of certain imports adds to the US trade deficit. If the results of the investigation show an impact, it could lead to more tariffs on imported goods, an administration official told CNN. The investigation could result in ‘everything from no action at all to the levying of supplemental duties,’ the official said.” http://cnn.it/2nZBIXG
THE GLOBAL POLITICO: TRUMP’S MEDIA WAR: After President Trump called her “Hillary Clinton’s P.R. Person,” NBC’s Andrea Mitchell has some choice words for him too. In an exclusive interview for The Global Politico, Mitchell said “I’ve never seen anything like” the flat-out lies of the Trump White House, with the briefing room being used to “mislead or misdirect or obfuscate.” http://politi.co/2nTdqxN … Transcript http://politi.co/2ohrHb5 … Listen on iTunes http://apple.co/2kJ9q1U
MEDIAWATCH — “How Stephen Colbert Finally Found His Elusive Groove: Mr. Colbert has done what was unthinkable a year ago: turned ‘The Late Show’ into the most viewed show in late night. And President Trump is not the only reason,” by NYT’s John Koblin: “One of the most surprising turnaround stories in recent television history began on one of the most surprising nights in political history. On Nov. 8, Stephen Colbert was hosting a live election night special for CBS’s sister cable network, Showtime. A program that was built around an expected Hillary Clinton victory went off the rails almost as soon as it went on the air at 11 p.m. As election returns came in, audience members, who had been asked to shut off their phones an hour earlier, gasped as it became clear that Donald J. Trump could very well become president. Mr. Colbert looked dumbstruck. Sensing the gravity of the moment, Chris Licht, the executive producer of ‘The Late Show With Stephen Colbert,’ walked over to Mr. Colbert’s desk during a musical performance. ‘Stop being funny and go and just be real,’ Mr. Licht told the host. …
“Mr. Licht, 45, had created a hit as the founding executive producer of MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe’ and then accomplished something no one had done before him: He created a morning show on CBS that actually drew some ratings.” http://nyti.ms/2oXnszI
— “Political talk helping ‘The View’ to comeback,” by AP’s David Bauder: “The unquenchable thirst for chatter about President Donald Trump has changed the dynamics of a fierce daytime television competition much as it has in late-night TV. ‘The View’ has spent more time talking politics with the arrival of a new administration, stopping the momentum of its rival ‘The Talk,’ which sticks to pop culture. It’s a turnabout similar to Stephen Colbert supplanting Jimmy Fallon as the new king of late-night, only it has received little attention in comparison. … Since the beginning of this year, the average audience for ‘The View’ has increased by 1 percent over 2016 while ‘The Talk’ is down 6 percent, the Nielsen company said. ‘The View’ regularly beats its rival now.” http://apne.ws/2oQAlPb
— “21st Century Fox will investigate L.A. radio host’s sexual harassment claim against Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly,” by L.A. Times’ Stephen Battaglio: “A Los Angeles radio personality’s claim that she was sexually harassed by Fox News host Bill O’Reilly in 2013 is being investigated by the cable channel’s parent company, 21st Century Fox. Lisa Bloom, the lawyer representing KFI talk radio host Wendy Walsh, told CNN on Sunday that 21st Century Fox attorneys say they will look into the claim that Walsh was denied an opportunity to become a contributor to Fox News because she rebuffed sexual advances made by O’Reilly. A representative for 21st Century Fox confirmed that the company is having the incident investigated by the law firm that fielded harassment complaints at Fox News last year following the lawsuit filed by former anchor Gretchen Carlson.” http://lat.ms/2nThQ7D
— MAEGAN VAZQUEZ promoted at IJR to White House reporter – Alex Skatell emails the staff: “Before coming to IJR, Maegan gained a wealth of experience across the cable news spectrum from MSNBC to CNN to FNC … As we scale our news team to do more original reporting, we intend to replicate this kind of tiered structure across additional beats. More immediate personnel announcements are on the way.”
THE PULITZER PRIZES are being announced today at 3 p.m. Livestream http://bit.ly/2oR2m9q
HAPPENING TONIGHT — “Tradition! Trump to keep Obama Passover custom alive with Seder Monday,” by The Times of Israel’s Eric Cortellessa: “US President Donald Trump will host a White House Passover seder Monday night, an administration official told The Times of Israel on Sunday, confirming that the new administration will continue a tradition started by former president Barack Obama. … The White House Seder began as an annual tradition under former president Barack Obama, who hosted the first such event in 2009, in the Old Family Dining Room. … Beyond his immediate family, Trump has several Jewish administration officials who could partake in the dinner, including Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn, Special Envoy for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt, and Senior Adviser Stephen Miller.” http://bit.ly/2nwP3uj (Jewish Insider scooped that Trump was hosting the Seder).
— Bill Clinton (@billclinton) April 9, 2017
SPOTTED — Tom Donilon leaving Millie’s on Massachusetts Avenue Sunday evening.
SPOTTED at Jack and Susanna Quinn’s house on Sunday afternoon to celebrate Ed Henry’s first book “42 Faith – The Rest of the Jackie Robinson Story” — ($15.52 on Amazon http://amzn.to/2oWyMPl): Ron and Sara Bonjean, Alex Wirth, Howard Kurtz, Ray LaHood, William Kennedy Smith, Margaret Carlson, Elizabeth Thorp, Virginia Coyne, Brendan Scanlon, Kate Glassman Bennett, Kevin Baron, Kristen Welker, Wolf Blitzer, Rebecca Cooper, Sarah Asterbadi, Mack McLarty, and Storm Quinn in a Superman costume — pic http://bit.ly/2oiBQTl
“60 MINUTES” on how technology hacks our brains. http://cbsn.ws/2nZIEUX Arianna Huffington launched a new vertical called Time Well Spent, to highlight addiction to technology.
OBAMA ALUMNI – LAUREN VRAZILEK has moved to the West Coast and joined the team at Universal Pictures in Los Angeles as director of national publicity. She previously was deputy press secretary for former First Lady Michelle Obama.
WELCOME TO THE WORLD — Josh and Natalie Earnest welcomed Naomi Caroline Earnest into the world last week at Virginia Hospital Center. Naomi weighed 7 lbs 1 oz and surprised her parents with her strawberry blonde hair. Big brother Walker is already looking forward to playing baseball with here.
WEEKEND WEDDING — Kelly Rzendzian and Kyle Hauptman got married in Playa Del Carmen in Mexico on Saturday. Kyle and Kelly met on the Romney campaign. Kelly is an appointee at Commerce and Kyle is on the beachhead team at Treasury. They celebrated with family, friends, margaritas and dancing. Pic http://bit.ly/2nwZsXc
BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Juan Williams, Fox News Channel’s political analyst and co-host of “The Five.” He’s celebrating at the “Nationals–Cardinals baseball game on Monday night … But the real party comes Saturday. That’s the start of Spring Break for my grandchildren who are in a D.C. charter school. My daughter proposed a family trip to Panama and I’m excited it comes around the time of my birthday.” Read his Playbook Plus Q&A: http://politi.co/2ohrTa4
BIRTHWEEK (was Tuesday): Politico Europe’s Stephan Faris, Nicholas Hirst, and Marie Bosquet
BIRTHDAYS: Melinda Henneberger, editorial writer and columnist for the Kansas City Star and the pride of Mount Carmel, Illinois … Hanna Rosin, co-host of NPR’s “Invisibilia” … Ann Klenk … Antoine Sanfuentes, senior supervising producer at CNN … Carter Yang, consultant at Hill+Knowlton Strategies and a CBS alum … Politico’s Adam Behsudi, Bridget Mulcahy, and Mitchell Murray … Lisa Belkin, chief national correspondent at Yahoo News and an NYT alum … Mark Tavlarides, principal at the Podesta Group and former NSC director in the Clinton White House, celebrating with his daughter, Eleni, and his girlfriend, Marilyn Rosenthal of AIPAC … two Biden alums: Amy Dudley and Elizabeth Alexander (h/ts Ben Chang) … Max Clermont … Chris Holden … Ann Marie Hauser, deputy staff director for Senate GOP conference … Josh Shultz, president of NJI Media and co-founder of FamousDC … Samantha Dravis, head of the EPA’s office of policy and alum of the Republican Attorneys General Association … Daniel Wolman, manager of digital strategy at the Podesta Group … David Endicott, who runs the Seattle-based Music4Life.org … Jon Sallet, who just stepped down as general counsel for the FCC (h/t Paul Equale) …
… Ray Zaccaro, comms director for Sen. Merkley … Chris Lydon, research assistant for Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) (h/t Nihal Krishan) … Bradley Saull, VP at the Professional Services Council … Ella Spektor McManus … Jen Judson, land warfare reporter at Defense News and a Politico alum … Katie Cline Malloy, an ABC News alum … Kim Smith Hicks … Mia Salvemini … Gabriel Arana, a Salon contributing writer and a HuffPost alum, is 34 … Jeffrey Frank, former senior editor at The New Yorker and a WashPost alum … Melissa Carson Thomas … Donusha Zgutowicz … MPAA’s Howard Gantman … Tom Kohn … Lauren Appelbaum, director of comms. at RespectAbility … Joseph Heaps is 53 … Josue Pinto is 33 … Chris Bauer … Rachel Weiser … Marisa McNee, Democratic consultant and president of Middle Coast LLC … Triada Stampas … Mia Salvemini … Matt McCarthy … Dave Parker … Mike Cody, the best fly fisherman in all of Wisconsin … Amy Bodette (h/ts Teresa Vilmain) … Grammy and ACM Award winner Maren Morris (h/t Kurt Bardella) … sportscaster John Madden is 81 … Steven Seagal is 66 … Orlando Jones is 49 … Haley Joel Osment is 29 (h/ts AP)