Good Wednesday morning and happy first day of summer. THE FACTS — KAREN HANDEL quite easily beat JON OSSOFF in Georgia. House Republicans are now 4-0 in contested special elections since PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP won the presidency. That means Democrats have failed — despite millions of dollars in spending — to win a single race with a president who has a record low approval rating. Democrats are even further from the majority than they thought. Let’s be clear: something ain’t working for Democrats, party insiders privately tell us. The Ossoff race galvanized national donors and activists in a way that led many to believe House Democrats were en route to wresting control of the chamber from Republicans. That’s not how they feel this morning. Caveat: this is a Republican seat. Being close is nice. But after six years in the minority, that’s about all it is.
— REP. SETH MOULTON (D-MASS.) (@sethmoulton): “#Ossof Race better be a wakeup call for Democrats – business as usual isn’t working. Time to stop rehashing 2016 and talk about the future.” … “We need a genuinely new message, a serious jobs plan that reaches all Americans, and a bigger tent not a smaller one. Focus on the future”.
— THE DCCC is holding a Georgia-6 debrief and consultant call at 1 p.m. today.
NATIONAL REPUBLICAN CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN STEVE STIVERS (R-OHIO), the guy that some Republicans were sniping at a month ago, has run through the tape in Montana, South Carolina, Georgia and Kansas with four victories.
— STIVERS SENT US THIS TEXT MESSAGE after the victory was announced: “Despite 30 mil spent and all the Democrat bluster, Republicans never took their eyes off the horizon. We were consistent focused on the issues and data that mattered and the results speak for themselves. Moral victories don’t get a vote in Congress.” Rachael Bade on Stivers http://politi.co/2rPV9Ip
SURE, all these districts are GOP held seats, and Republicans just squeaked by. Fair enough. But if Democrats want to win the majority, they need to knock off some Republicans — actually, lots of them. REMEMBER THIS: In 2011, Democrats flipped a GOP-held House seat in upstate New York — so it’s not unheard of for them to win these races. They just haven’t done it in a long, long time.
THERE IS A LOT OF BUZZ that this will help ease the passage of Trump’s agenda. Eh, kind of. The same fissures still exist within the GOP on issues like tax reform, health care and big government spending.
GABE DEBENEDETTI, who was at Handel HQ in Atlanta and also dropped by Ossoff’s election night event, sent us his takeaways: “Heading into the night, Democrats figured even a close loss would lead to a narrative about the party over-performing in GOP-heavy districts. That much is definitely true, but the recriminations started earlier than expected when Archie Parnell came closer than anyone anticipated in South Carolina’s Fifth District earlier in the night.
“There were some awkward moments for Republicans on Tuesday even at Handel’s party — a blue blazer-and-khakis crowd with a few MAGA hats and Bikers For Trump t-shirts scattered in — especially when she thanked the president without using his name. But no amount of GOP discomfort or polling numbers showing a nationwide swing to blue was enough to calm frustrated Dems.
“To Bernie-aligned progressives I’ve spoken with, the Ossoff loss was evidence that candidates need to be more liberal, more outspoken on economic populism. Others wondered why the party didn’t spend much money at all in Parnell’s race. But one Dem congressman texted me a question that summed up all the exasperation early in the night: ‘Lots of ‘moral victories.’ But when do we get actual victories???’”
— MORE DEBENEDETTI: “Lessons from the 2017 elections”: http://politi.co/2rTte5K
NYT’s JONATHAN MARTIN and RICHARD FAUSSET: “The apparent success of relentless Republican attacks linking Mr. Ossoff to the House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, and her ‘San Francisco values’ also affirmed the efficacy of tying Democratic candidates in conservative districts to their brethren in more liberal parts of the country. …
“Both parties now confront the same question: What does such a hard-won victory in the Lululemon-and-loafers subdivisions of Dunwoody and Roswell, where Mr. Trump prevailed in November, augur for Republicans who next year will be defending an array of less conservative seats outside the South?” http://nyti.ms/2tMxGEr
THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES at 11:48 p.m.: “Well, the Special Elections are over and those that want to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN are 5 and O! All the Fake News, all the money spent = 0” … KELLYANNE CONWAY (@kellyannepolls): “Thanks to everyone who breathlessly and snarkily proclaimed #GA06 as a ‘referendum on POTUS @realDonaldTrump’. You were right. #winning” … “Laughing my #Ossoff”
— WAIT A SECOND, GUYS. Republicans did spend tens of millions of dollars to defend these seats and they won’t be able to do that everywhere in November 2018. We’re not saying Republicans will lose the majority, just pointing out a touch of nuance here.
RAHM EMANUEL and BRUCE REED in The Atlantic, “How the Democrats Can Take Back Congress”: The party needs “to recruit candidates who match their districts and offer voters a detailed agenda … Democrats don’t need to spend the next year navel-gazing over how to motivate their base. In 2018, Trump will provide the greatest fundraising and get-out-the-vote machine the party has ever had. Wave elections are a chance to build on that base by winning back voters disappointed in the other side. Democrats will have plenty of disappointments to bring to their attention, including Republican health-care and tax-cut plans that betray the working-class voters who put Trump in the White House. To pull that off, though, Democrats must channel their anger, not be defined by it.” http://theatln.tc/2rBsUcs
THE RUSSIA PROBE CONTINUES … “Mueller meets with 2 House Intel members,” by Kyle Cheney: “Members of the House intelligence committee huddled Tuesday with Robert Mueller — the special counsel probing Russian interference in the 2016 election — to ensure their parallel investigations don’t conflict with one another. Reps. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) and Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the two lawmakers leading the House’s probe into the matter, huddled with Mueller in a secure Capitol conference room to begin setting parameters. ‘We are setting up a system to deconflict,’ Conaway said shortly after the meeting.” http://politi.co/2rQ0AqN
COMING ATTRACTIONS — “Fate of Obamacare repeal uncertain in Senate,” by Burgess Everett and Jen Haberkorn: “Senate Republicans are planning a pivotal meeting for Thursday morning to start the whipping process for Obamacare repeal, according to two sources familiar with the process. Mitch McConnell’s current whip count to repeal Obamacare is far short of 50 votes. There is still no bill, and even Republicans are moaning about the rush and lack of transparency.
“The GOP plan to jam through a bill over the next 10 days amounts to a rare political risk by McConnell with no guarantee of success — and one that could jeopardize his Senate majority long-term if the bill ends up being viewed as poorly as the House-passed bill, which has a 17 percent approval rating. McConnell himself wouldn’t guarantee passage on Tuesday, or even commit to a vote next week, though that is his plan.” http://politi.co/2rAtUO9
— KEY SENTENCE: “Regardless of the outcome, the vote is still planned for next week.” … NYT: “G.O.P. Rift Over Medicaid and Opioids Imperils Senate Health Bill” http://nyti.ms/2rPNWYQ
NEW POLITICO/MORNING CONSULT POLL — “Poll: Opposition to GOP health bill is on the rise,” by Steven Shepard: “Opposition to the Republican health bill is growing, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll. As the GOP-led Senate prepares to take up the measure, only 35 percent of voters surveyed approve of the bill passed by the House last month. Nearly half of voters, 49 percent, disapprove of the bill. The other 16 percent don’t know or don’t have an opinion, the poll shows.
“POLITICO/Morning Consult polling indicates the bill has become less popular since the House advanced it in early May. Immediately after the bill passed, slightly more voters approved of the bill, 38 percent. Opposition to the bill was lower, too, immediately after the House passed it: 44 percent.
“The poll underscores the risks Republicans face in pursuing legislation for which opposition is creeping toward a majority of voters. The Senate’s so-far behind-closed-doors drafting process also complicates Republicans’ efforts to sell the proposal to their own voters — and there’s some evidence of slippage among the GOP base on the party’s Obamacare repeal bid.” http://politi.co/2sSFtEo
CH-CH-CH-CH-CHANGES — “‘I’m Right Here!’ Sean Spicer Says While Toiling to Find Successor,” by NYT’s Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush: “The biggest shift Mr. Trump is discussing is a dramatic change to the briefing room schedule, including limiting briefings that he has described as a ‘spectacle’ to once a week and asking reporters to submit written questions. Some of Mr. Trump’s outside advisers, including the Fox News host Sean Hannity, have urged him to curtail the freewheeling — and often embarrassing — barrage of questions. Mr. Trump has been particularly irked by CNN, and other allies such as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich have suggested banning the cable network. …
“Several Trump aides, including [Jared] Kushner, Mr. Spicer, Stephen K. Bannon and the chief of staff, Reince Priebus, have made their own phone calls searching for potential job candidates, sometimes not telling others in the building what they’re doing. Some believe that the communications director needs his or her own lane; others believe that the person should report to Mr. Spicer, for whom a new role as a deputy chief of staff has been discussed.” http://nyti.ms/2spucda
VALLEY TALK — “Uber CEO Travis Kalanick Quits as Investors Revolt Over Scandals,” by WSJ’s Greg Bensinger: “Uber Technologies Inc.’s co-founder and chief executive, Travis Kalanick, has resigned after a group of investors pressured him to step down following a bruising six months of scandal and setbacks, marking a stunning turnabout for one of Silicon Valley’s highest-flying startups. Mr. Kalanick, 40 years old, handed in his resignation Tuesday, a spokesman said. Several investors pushed Mr. Kalanick to resign, people familiar with the matter said, to help turn around the company as it works to battle allegations that it has a workplace permissive of sexual harassment and sexism. Uber has no replacement for Mr. Kalanick and is running without financial and operating chiefs and other key executives after several recent departures, including one of the CEO’s top deputies who was pushed out last week by the board.” http://on.wsj.com/2sUEbZb
— UBER’s C-suite overhaul is likely to have a major impact on K Street. The tech company has been losing a number of in-house Washington employees in recent months. While examining the tech company’s D.C. operation and consultant spending is unlikely to be the first thing the next CEO does, it certainly will be high on their list as Congress looks to get more answers from the embattled company.
WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE … — CONGRESSMAN ELECT GREG GIANFORTE — the man who body slammed Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs, is showing up for his first “Montana Coffee” event this morning on Capitol Hill. Sen. Jon Tester’s (D-Mont.) staff plans to wear Committee to Protect Journalists pins to the event to show their support for freedom of the press. Gianforte gave CPJ $50,000 after being convicted of assaulting Jacobs.
FIRST IN PLAYBOOK — The Chinese Embassy in Washington is exploring hiring new public relations representation as they navigate Donald Trump’s Washington. BLJ Worldwide, a global strategic consulting firm that represents and advises foreign governments, companies and NGOs, is pitching the embassy to do their PR, according to sources familiar with the bid. Qorvis has represented the Chinese embassy since 2014 for $25,200 a month and is trying to keep them on the books. The firm currently does “public relations, media training, survey and polling, advertising, social media communication strategy and implementation, crisis planning, event planning and management, and reputation and search management,” for the embassy, according to a FARA filing.
Representatives of BLJ have been spotted in the Chinese embassy in Washington in recent weeks, according to a source. Mike Holtzman, a partner at the firm, managed the PR campaign for the 2008 Beijing Olympic bid when he was with Weber Shandwick. The current pitch process has taken a few months and no one firm has won out yet. BLJ, which earlier did some work for Syrian first lady Asma Al-Assad (and helped get her an infamous favorable profile in Vogue in March 2011), the Qaddafi Libyan government and the Ecuador embassy, declined to comment. The Chinese embassy did not respond to a request for comment.
THE PRESIDENT is rallying in Cedar Rapids today. WaPo’s John Wagner and Ashley Parker on the president wanting to get back on the road. http://wapo.st/2rUFQJM
FORMER DHS SECRETARY JEH JOHNSON is testifying about Russian interference this morning at 11 a.m. in front of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Text of testimony http://bit.ly/2sURKbd
THE JUICE …
— HAPPENING TODAY: LA STAMPA’s “The Future of Newspapers” conference in Turin, Italy. There are four panels featuring some big media heavyweights. “The editors’ view” features Bloomberg’s John Micklethwait, FT’s Lionel Barber, Hindustan Times’ Bobby Ghosh, HuffPo’s Lydia Polgren and O Globo’s Ascanio Seleme. “CEO’s View” features POLITICO’s Robert Allbritton, Le Monde’s Louis Dreyfus, South China Morning Post’s Gary Liu and New York Times’ Mark Thompson. “Industry’s view” features Jessica Lessin of the Information, NYT’s Andrew Ross Sorkin, Robert Thomson of NewsCorp and Julian Reichelt of BILD. Jeff Bezos and La Stampa’s owner John Elkann will speak on the “Owners’ view” panel.
— BONO honored Rep. Steve Scalise at his concert Tuesday night, saying he was “grateful” the Louisiana Republican survived the shooting. SPOTTED at the U2 show at FedEx Field: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), and Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Mick Mulvaney, David Brooks, Andrea Mitchell, Joel and Laura Cox Kaplan, Sally Canfield, Jim Kim, Frank Luntz, Matt Gorman, Ryan Thompson, Dwayne Carson, Dustin Carmack, Audrey Henson, Gayle Smith, Tom Hart, Andy Olson, Tom Mancinelli, Joan Condon, Janice Kaguyutan, Carrie Radelet, Tim Adams, Nilmini Rubin, Ryan Thompson, Dwayne Carson, Dustin Carmack.
— CONGRATS to PETER HAMBY and Snap’s “Good Luck America” for winning a 2017 Edward R. Murrow Award. They won for “Excellence in Innovation among Large Digital News Organizations”. Snap is the first tech platform to win a Murrow (Netflix also won one this year for a documentary it made). http://bit.ly/2rTVB3M
— FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: ALEX MISTRI, a managing director at the Glover Park Group, has joined Hess as vice president of government and external affairs.
— BIG DOUGH: Leslie Wexner, the chairman of the Limited Corporation, gave $237,300 to the NRCC in May. … Robert Mercer gave $334,000 to the RNC.
— PHIL VERVEER, most recently senior counselor to the FCC Chairman and earlier Ambassador for International Communications and Information Policy at State Department, has joined Venable as senior counsel.
— POLITICO Founder John Harris appeared last night on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. Watch http://on.cc.com/2tN2Hs4
TRUMP INC. — “Trump’s Net Worth Slips to $2.9 Billion as Towers Underperform,” by Bloomberg’s Caleb Melby: “Donald Trump’s office properties aren’t bringing in as much cash as banks that loaned him money had expected. That’s the biggest finding in an updated assessment of the president’s net worth, which has slipped to $2.9 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, down from $3 billion a year ago. … The decrease is driven mostly by a drop in the value of three office properties in Manhattan, where financial data compiled by Trump’s lenders offer a consistent picture: They’re underperforming appraisals conducted when Trump was issued loans. The buildings — 40 Wall Street, Trump Tower, and 1290 Avenue of the Americas, a tower in which Trump holds a 30 percent stake, are victims of a changing New York office market, where gleaming new skyscrapers are attracting tenants and demand for space in vintage properties is falling.” https://bloom.bg/2trWJxl
AMBASSADOR WATCH — “Grenell under consideration to be ambassador to Germany,” by Josh Dawsey: “Richard ‘Ric’ Grenell, a former United Nations official and prominent backer of President Donald Trump, is under consideration to be ambassador to Germany, according to three people briefed on the discussions. Grenell is now unlikely to be named the pick as NATO ambassador, as was previously reported, one of these officials said. Another person familiar with the talks said NATO could be a possibility for Grenell, but that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson wants Kay Bailey Hutchison, the former Texas senator, for the post, and is likely to get his way.” http://politi.co/2rBD4tp
INSIDE THE WEST WING — “Despite Concerns About Blackmail, Flynn Heard C.I.A. Secrets,” by NYT’s Matt Apuzzo, Matt Rosenberg and Adam Goldman: “Senior officials across the government became convinced in January that the incoming national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, had become vulnerable to Russian blackmail. At the F.B.I., the C.I.A., the Justice Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence — agencies responsible for keeping American secrets safe from foreign spies — career officials agreed that Mr. Flynn represented an urgent problem. Yet nearly every day for three weeks, the new C.I.A. director, Mike Pompeo, sat in the Oval Office and briefed President Trump on the nation’s most sensitive intelligence — with Mr. Flynn listening.
“Mr. Pompeo has not said whether C.I.A. officials left him in the dark about their views of Mr. Flynn, but one administration official said Mr. Pompeo did not share any concerns about Mr. Flynn with the president. The episode highlights a remarkable aspect of Mr. Flynn’s tumultuous, 25-day tenure in the White House: He sat atop a national security apparatus that churned ahead despite its own conclusion that he was at risk of being compromised by a hostile foreign power.” http://nyti.ms/2rBWHS6
FOR YOUR RADAR — “Saudi Arabia Rewrites Succession as King Replaces Heir With Son, 31,” by NYT’s Ben Hubbard: “King Salman of Saudi Arabia promoted his 31-year-old son, Mohammed bin Salman, to be next in line to the throne on Wednesday, further empowering a young, activist leader at a time when the kingdom is struggling with low oil prices, a rivalry with Iran and conflicts across the Middle East. The decision to remove the previous crown prince, Mohammed bin Nayef, 57, comes as some members of the royal family have chafed at the rise of the younger prince, who emerged from relative obscurity when his father, 81, ascended the throne in January 2015. Prince Mohammed bin Salman has since accumulated vast powers in the wealthy kingdom, a crucial ally of the United States, serving as defense minister, overseeing the state oil company and working to overhaul the Saudi economy. His supporters have praised him as hard-working and as offering a hopeful vision for the kingdom’s future, especially for its large youth population. His critics have called him inexperienced and power hungry.” http://nyti.ms/2tMsOzh
JOSH ROGIN in WaPo, “The Trump administration is working to free American hostages in Iran”: “Siamak Namazi, an Iranian American businessman, was arrested in Tehran in October 2015 and charged with espionage and collusion with an enemy country — the United States. … The following month the Iranians arrested his father Baquer Namazi, a former longtime United Nations official who is 81 years old and in poor health. … Two senior administration officials said that the Trump administration is now considering a range of measures to pressure the Iranians to release the Namazis and two other American citizens held by Iran. Those options are still secret, but include sticks more than carrots.” http://wapo.st/2sUUfKv
MEDIAWATCH — “Carol Lee to join NBC News,” by Hadas Gold: “Lee is joining NBC News as a national political reporter. Lee is currently a White House correspondent for The Wall Street Journal. A former White House Correspondents’ Association president, Lee has been with the Journal since 2011, having previously covered the White House for POLITICO. Already a frequent presence on television, Lee will appear across all NBC platforms including MSNBC … She starts in July.” http://politi.co/2ts2rzg
WOMEN RULE PODCAST: In the latest episode of Women Rule, actress Allison Williams joins POLITICO editor, Carrie Budoff Brown, to discuss the evolving role of women in entertainment and her “fascination” with the Trump era. The 29-year-old actress says she doesn’t believe that Girls could have taken place under the current administration, and that the show needed to happen while President Obama was in the White House. “I think there was a luxury to existential peace and calm that allowed the girls to live the lives they did,” Williams tells Brown. http://politi.co/2rQinyd … Listen and subscribe: http://apple.co/2lCPzCe
SPOTTED: At the Trump Hotel last night: Rudy Giuliani, Corey Lewandowski, Boris Epshteyn, and Keith Schiller at separate tables … Rep. David Kustoff (R-Tenn.) on the 2:02 p.m. Amtrak from NY to DC.
TRANSITIONS — Ali Pardo started as the communications director for Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.). She is coming from the RNC, where she served as a spokesperson since 2013. Ali also served as the press secretary for the 2017 inauguration. … Crystal Carson has started as press secretary for Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s PAC, Common Good VA. Crystal previously worked on Michael Blake’s campaign for DNC Vice-Chair, the Clinton campaign and in the Obama White House.
… Mark Linton, the former executive director of the White House Council on Strong Cities, Strong Communities, has joined The Raben Group. He will be based out of the SF Bay area. http://politi.co/2sPoemw
WEEKEND WEDDINGS — Austin Bone, legislative director for Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.), married Christina Nixon, consultant for Accenture, over the weekend at Brasstown Valley Resort and Spa in north Georgia. The couple met in college at Washington and Lee. Pic http://bit.ly/2spJOxx
WELCOME TO THE WORLD — Allison Clear Fastow, a partner at Blue Engine Message & Media, and William Fastow, the principal broker at Appleton Properties, email friends and family: “After 41 weeks and 1 day, Will and I were thrilled to meet Lucas Jacob Fastow at 6:17 a.m. this Father’s Day. The mostly sleepless night ended in a relatively easy labor, with Lucas weighing in at 8lbs 1oz and measuring 20 inches long, just like his big brother Eli when he was born. The Fastow Family is complete and we couldn’t be happier.” Pic http://politi.co/2tMCqKr
— Elliot Williams, principal at The Raben Group, and wife Eileen Yam have welcomed Vera Liu Williams, born Sunday. “Big brother Everett is excited to begin duties. Everyone is doing well!” Pic http://bit.ly/2rUIVtk
BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: early Trump aide Sam Nunberg, public affairs consultant based in NYC, is 36. How he’s celebrating: “I will celebrate by having dinner with my family and friends at Chef Ho’s Peking Duck Grill which has become a tradition.” Read his Playbook Plus Q&A: http://politi.co/2tN3lpC
BIRTHDAYS: Mike Allen, who celebrated last night at the U2 concert (h/ts Jonathan Karl, Geoff Morrell, Blain Rethmeier) … NYT editorial board member Elizabeth Williamson, a WSJ alum … WaPo alum Peter Perl, now senior consultant at The Reis Group … Jake Maccoby, HFA and DOJ alum … Tanya Singer, former general manager of Bloomberg Politics … John Rhoden … Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) is 7-0 … Oregon Gov. Kate Brown is 57 … WSJ’s Laura Meckler, the pride of Cleveland … Dan Wagner, investigative reporter at BuzzFeed and an AP and CPI alum (h/t Tim Burger) … Kate Kochman … Shara Mohtadi, senior advisor at the N.Y. State Energy Research and Development Authority … George Jahn, AP’s Austria bureau chief … Time’s Elizabeth Dias, covering religion and politics … Madeleine Morgenstern, digital editor at Washington Examiner … Jill Farquharson, Sen. Carper’s press secretary (h/t Jonathan Kott) … former Rep. Marjorie Margolies (D-Pa.) is 75 … Washington Institute fellow David Makovsky is 57 (h/ts Jewish Insider) … Caroline Weisser … Susan Tomai of Oratorio, which trains leaders from the World Bank, State, etc. on media training and how to put together “killer presentations” (h/t Chris Breene) …
… Jackie Berkowitz, manager of Netflix Originals Documentary Publicity … NBC and Reuters alum Chris Francescani … Politico’s Marc Sames and Sara Gilliam … Scott Allen … Mike Faulman, former Obama W.H. advance staffer and former body man to Mayor Emanuel … Mollie Leavitt, digital advertising intern for Precision Strategies, is 21 (h/t Ben Weinberg) … Brian Kamoie, the pride of Altoona, Pennsylvania, former Obama WH alum and current FEMA staffer … Bush 43 WH alum Leslie Shockley Beyer (h/ts Ed Cash) … former Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) is 79 … Campbell Matthews … Delece Smith-Barrow … Greg Hitt, VP of global corporate comms at Wal-Mart, is 55 … Stephen E. Merrill, 77th Governor of New Hampshire, is 71 … Mason Reynolds, JD candidate at Harvard Law … SEC economist Max Clarke … Cole Randle, Obama W.H. travel office alum now an associate at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer … Jessica Straus … Mary Meagher … Katherine Riley … Mary Beth Donahue … Gordon Stott … Ellen Golombek (h/ts Teresa Vilmain) … Dave Marcus … Gary Maloney … James Walton … Laura Icardi … Roger Jarrell is 47 … Prince William is 35 … pop singer Rebecca Black is 2-0 (h/ts AP)