THE ENDORSEMENT HEARD WHEREVER YOU LISTEN TO PODCASTS — Democratic Sen. JOE MANCHIN made waves when he endorsed Republican colleague and friend Sen. SUSAN COLLINS (Maine) for reelection in 2020. Now he’s making more in PLAYBOOK DEEP DIVE, a new weekly podcast launching this morning.
The West Virginia senator sat down with another GOP friend, Alaska Sen. LISA MURKOWSKI, for a rare joint interview with our co-congressional bureau chief BURGESS EVERETT. The conversation got personal, with the longtime friends finishing each other’s sentences — and covering everything from reconciliation to Murkowski’s fishing skills and parties on Manchin’s houseboat.
In between, they made some news: Manchin said he’s endorsing Murkowski’s reelection. The Alaskan has a tough race next year, with former President DONALD TRUMP vowing to take her out after her vote to convict him of inciting an insurrection. Manchin’s faced Trump’s wrath himself, having survived a challenge inspired by the president in 2018. More from Burgess
MAN BITES DOG — It’s a fascinating listen: two old-school lawmakers pining for the days of bipartisanship, which they insist are about to make a comeback (highly unlikely, explains Burgess). The pair talks about how legislators in Washington should get to know each other’s families, how CHUCK SCHUMER and MITCH MCCONNELL should grab coffee or dinner together more often, and how Congress should return to “regular order,” giving members the room to cut deals and make laws as opposed to leadership dictating most everything.
Here’s Burgess reflecting on the episode: “If there were more relationships like Manchin and Murkowski, we wouldn’t necessarily care about two senators being friends. That would be a dog-bites-man story in journalism parlance. And instead, it’s a man-bites-dog. This is unusual. These two people from different parties are actually friends, and one of them’s supporting the other’s reelection campaign. That’s what makes it interesting.”
Listen here — it’s the first episode of Playbook Deep Dive, where each Friday POLITICO’s top reporters and Playbook authors will bring you the most compelling stories that explain what’s really going on in Washington.
HOW TRUMP AND HIS ALLIES SAW BIDEN’S BORDER CRISIS COMING — A must-read this morning from our White House reporter ANITA KUMAR about how Trump and his allies anticipated the surge of migrants that President JOE BIDEN is now struggling to contain — and plotted to use it against Democrats in 2022.
“When Donald Trump took his final trip as president to the southwest border in January, the publicly stated purpose was to tout his record. Privately, however, his Republican allies had hatched a plan that they thought could get them back into the seats of power.
“In Alamo, Texas, supporters lined the route of the motorcade. Trump used a Sharpie to autograph a newly constructed piece of the 452 miles of a 30-foot steel wall. He was joined by Sen. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-S.C.), as well as the head of the federal agency charged with border enforcement, MARK MORGAN, and TOM HOMAN, a former Trump immigration official who had pushed for Republicans to speak more about the issue during the 2020 campaign. …
“The conversations around the trip were some of the earliest indications that Republicans anticipated the spike in migrants crossing the border — due to seasonal patterns and regional crises — and planned to use it as a political cudgel to try to retake Congress in the midterm elections. The topic turned out to be much more of a vulnerability for Biden than even they expected.”
WATCH: Chauvin found guilty, Trump pondering 2024, Bush still paints and Gaetz says thank you: On Tuesday, the murder trial of former Minneapolis police office DEREK CHAUVIN ended with a guilty verdict for all three counts including second-degree murder. Following the announcement, Biden called the Floyd family promising to make police reform a top priority. EUGENE shares his surprising reaction to the guilty Chauvin verdict, and TARA explains how Rep. MATT GAETZ (R-Fla.) could run for president. We also heard this week from former Presidents Trump and GEORGE W. BUSH, who both sat down with news networks to talk about the state of the Republican Party.
BIDEN’S FRIDAY — The president will deliver remarks and take part in the fifth session of the Leaders Summit on Climate at 9:15 a.m. Biden will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 11 a.m. and the weekly economic briefing at 1:45 p.m. He’ll take part in a virtual DOD senior leaders conference at 2:45 p.m. from the Situation Room.
— VP KAMALA HARRIS is heading to Plymouth and Concord, N.H., at 9:25 a.m. She’ll hold a listening session at 11:55 a.m. about broadband and the American Jobs Plan at New Hampshire Electric Cooperative in Plymouth. At 2 p.m. she’ll tour IBEW Local 490 in Concord; at 2:40 p.m. she’ll speak about the plan’s focus on workforce development and infrastructure. Then it’s back to D.C. at 4:45 p.m.
— The White House Covid-19 response team and public health officials will brief at 11 a.m. Press secretary JEN PSAKI will brief at 11:30 a.m. with Interior Secretary DEB HAALAND.
THE SENATE and THE HOUSE are out.
Friday’s four must-reads:
POLITICO’s Michael Grunwald explains why the Biden climate plan is all about “the rapid transformation of U.S. electricity,” where the U.S. in recent years has made enormous strides when it comes to carbon emissions, unlike “vehicles, buildings, factories and farms,” where the “United States has made almost no progress.”
WSJ’s Kristina Peterson and Andrew Duehren on the Democratic debate over whether Biden’s American Families Plan should include a Biden campaign promise to lower prescription drug costs. The sticking point: debate between progressives and centrists over how to spend the savings. The left, including Sen. BERNIE SANDERS (I-Vt.), wants to use the money to expand Medicare benefits, while others want to use it to boost the Affordable Care Act. The fight has pushed the White House to drop the proposal altogether, per the NYT.
But Speaker NANCY PELOSI says not so fast: “Lowering health costs and prescription drug prices will be a top priority for House Democrats to be included in the American Families Plan.” This is the first time we’ve seen Pelosi on the record forcefully at odds with Biden. One of them will have to blink.
NYT’s David Brooks explores how the left and right are dealing with what he sees as the illiberal movements within their ranks. The center-left is responding: “Over the last decade or so, as illiberalism, cancel culture and all the rest have arisen within the universities and elite institutions on the left, dozens of publications and organizations have sprung up. They have drawn a sharp line between progressives who believe in liberal free speech norms, and those who don’t.”
But the GOP is failing: “This is exactly the line-drawing that now confronts the right, which faces a more radical threat. Republicans and conservatives who believe in the liberal project need to organize and draw a bright line between themselves and the illiberals on their own side. This is no longer just about Trump the man, it’s about how you are going to look at reality — as the muddle [it’s] always been, or as an apocalyptic hellscape. It’s about how you pursue change — through the conversation and compromise of politics, or through intimidations of macho display.”
Time’s Lissandra Villa on House Minority Leader KEVIN MCCARTHY, “one of the most senior Republicans in the country,” but one who “has declined to articulate a clear vision for which direction the party should be headed.”
BIDEN CLIMATE SUMMIT
THE WORLD REACTS — “Biden’s climate plan faces global skepticism,” by Ryan Heath: “The U.S. government finds itself in an unfamiliar position midway through President Joe Biden’s global climate summit: struggling to deploy the moral authority and financial heft needed to assume global leadership.
“Washington’s history of backing out or failing to ratify climate commitments now jeopardizes widespread support for Biden’s just-announced plans to cut U.S. carbon dioxide output between 50 and 52 percent by 2030, compared with 2005 levels. Surface-level positive feelings from foreign leaders toward Biden belies fundamental tensions around how both the U.S. and its allies and competitors can achieve such cuts, and who should pay.”
AGGRAVATING TO ENVIRONMENTALISTS — “White House dances around a big contributor to climate change: Agriculture,” by Ryan McCrimmon: “[T]he White House hasn’t set any specific targets yet for agriculture, which accounts for 10 percent of all U.S. emissions … The administration has steered clear of discussing stricter environmental regulations that could scare off the largely conservative farm sector, as well as the rural lawmakers that Biden will need to advance many of his environmental goals. …
“So far, the Biden administration is leaning heavily toward awarding financial bonuses for farmers, ranchers and foresters who retool their operations to suck carbon from the atmosphere. … An especially thorny topic that could draw huge resistance from farmers and ranchers is what to do about methane emissions from cows and other livestock.”
SETTING THE DRAMA ASIDE — “World leaders pledge climate cooperation despite other rifts,” AP
WE TOLD YOU THIS WOULD HAPPEN — “The virtual summit makes history, but proves even world leaders aren’t immune to tech issues,” NYT: “The opening speeches by President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were beset with painful echoes, evidently a result of overlapping microphone or speaker devices. Secretary of State ANTONY J. BLINKEN introduced President VLADIMIR V. PUTIN of Russia, but the screen alternated between Mr. Putin and President EMMANUEL MACRON of France, as Mr. Putin sat in stony silence. And as China’s president, XI JINPING, launched into his speech in Chinese, there was a prolonged delay before an English-language translator joined in.”
THE WHITE HOUSE
THE AMERICAN FAMILIES PLAN PAY-FORS — “Biden Eyeing Capital Gains Tax as High as 43.4% for Wealthy,” Bloomberg: “The plan would boost the capital gains rate to 39.6% for those earning $1 million or more, an increase from the current base rate of 20% … Stocks slid on news about the plan …
“The proposal could reverse a long-standing provision of the tax code that taxes returns on investment lower than on labor. … The capital gains increase would raise $370 billion over a decade, according to an estimate from the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center based on Biden’s campaign platform.”
DEPRESSION WHERE? — “As economy spikes, Republicans are still waiting for the ‘Biden depression’ that Trump predicted,” WaPo: “With more businesses reopening and recalling workers to their jobs, the economy is expected to post impressive growth for the rest of this year. But as the boom inevitably fades, the opportunity will come for Republicans to attack, [American Action Forum head DOUGLAS] HOLTZ-EAKIN said. Already, some public opinion surveys show unease over the administration’s deficit-financed social spending.
“[A]s Trump fixated late last year on unfounded allegations of election cheating, the economy wobbled. A renewed coronavirus surge interrupted business reopenings and led employers to trim 306,000 jobs in December. The economy regained its footing in mid-January as Trump conceded defeat and the components of Biden’s first coronavirus relief plan came into focus. That signature legislative achievement, the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, has just begun feeding money into the economy. Its benefits are expected to become increasingly apparent over the remainder of the year.”
COMING ATTRACTIONS — @LeaderMcConnell: “@SenatorTimScott is not just one of the strongest leaders in the Senate. He is one of the most inspiring and unifying leaders in our nation. I’m glad he’ll be delivering the Republican Address following the President’s remarks on Wednesday.” … @SenatorTimScott: “Honored to have this opportunity. I’m as confident as I’ve ever been in the promise and potential of America and look forward to sharing my vision for our nation with all of you.”
RARE BIPARTISAN ACTION — “Senate passes anti-Asian American hate crime bill,” by Nicholas Wu: “The measure, which would create a Justice Department position focusing on the issue and beef up state and local hate crime reporting, soared through the chamber by a 94-1 vote. Sen. JOSH HAWLEY (R-Mo.) was the only vote against the bill. A series of Republican-led amendments, such as one from Sen. MIKE LEE (R-Utah), requiring a report on religious freedom during the pandemic, were all voted down.”
— @HawleyMO: “My big problem with Sen Hirono’s bill that Senate voted on today is that it turns the federal government into the speech police – gives government sweeping authority to decide what counts as offensive speech and then monitor it. Raises big free speech questions.”
LABOR PUTS THE SQUEEZE ON — “Unions warn Senate Democrats: Pass the PRO Act, or else,” by Eleanor Mueller and Holly Otterbein: “Union leaders told the Senate Democrats’ campaign arm in a private call Wednesday not to expect them to back lawmakers in upcoming elections unless they coalesce behind the pro-labor Protecting the Right to Organize Act … One lawmaker, in particular, became the center of attention, two sources said: Sen. MARK KELLY (D-Ariz.).”
JAN. 6 AND ITS AFTERMATH
HMM … “Capitol Police denies Lofgren claim they were focused only on anti-Trump forces on 1/6,” by Kyle Cheney: “‘The radio call does not mean USCP was only looking out for anti-Trump counter protestors,’ the department statement said. … The department’s statement indicated that the reason officers were told to look out for anti-Trump activists is that previous protests in D.C. featured violent clashes between pro- and anti-Trump demonstrators. …
“A [ZOE] LOFGREN aide said that’s precisely the point: The department’s focus on potential street skirmishes that morning — despite clear indications and persuasive intelligence of right-wing violence aimed at Congress — underscores that the Capitol Police did not understand the gravity of the event that was about to unfold.”
LOST HOPE — “Biden officials lose faith in Johnson & Johnson after repeated vaccine stumbles,” by Erin Banco, Adam Cancryn and Sarah Owermohle: “[P]rivately, frustrated senior health officials have largely written off the shot … [T]he Biden administration is bracing for yet another potential complication: If ongoing tests of remaining vaccine batches made by J&J’s contractor Emergent BioSolutions reveal further contamination, it could take the vaccine maker up to four months to replace those doses through manufacturing at alternate facilities …
“The Biden administration is still on track to have enough vaccine between Moderna and Pfizer to vaccinate every American adult by the end of May. But the outsize attention paid to J&J’s stumbles have frustrated officials who lamented that it’s distracted from the White House’s broader vaccination campaign.”
AMERICA AND THE WORLD
THE MYSTERY ATTACKS — “U.S. troops increasingly vulnerable to directed-energy attacks, Pentagon tells lawmakers,” by Lara Seligman, Andrew Desiderio and Betsy Woodruff Swan: “Two Defense Department officials briefed members of the House Armed Service Committee about the phenomenon in a classified setting on Wednesday … and told lawmakers they are increasingly concerned about the vulnerability of U.S. troops in places such as Syria, Afghanistan and various countries in South America. Briefers pointed to Russia as a likely culprit … but didn’t have a smoking gun.”
MAINTAINING SOME CONTROL — “Senior general says U.S. will maintain ability to launch air strikes in Afghanistan following troop withdrawal,” CNN
SYMBOLIC MOVE — “Blinken Will Allow U.S. Embassies to Fly Pride Flag,” Foreign Policy: “The directive marks a departure from how the Trump administration handled the matter … Blinken gave authority for diplomats to fly the Pride flag before May 17, which marks the international day against homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia, as well as June, which in the United States and many other countries is Pride month.”
2022 WATCH — “With Trump’s backing, Walker freezes Senate GOP field in Georgia,” CNN: “But the prospect that [HERSCHEL] WALKER could have the field to himself is causing anxiety among some Republicans in Georgia and Washington, who privately are uncertain whether the first-time candidate and Texas resident could handle the enormous challenges ahead. And they’re worried that Trump is propping up a candidate simply because he has been a loyal friend …
“In a brief phone call on Wednesday, Walker didn’t seem to be in any particular rush to announce. … The two top candidates in 2020 — former Sen. KELLY LOEFFLER and former Rep. DOUG COLLINS — are also considering running again. … Georgia Rep. BUDDY CARTER told CNN that he is encouraging Walker to run, calling him ‘a fighter,’ but added that if ‘Hershel doesn’t run, then I can run.’”
A TEXAS SWING VOTER — “George W. Bush Says He Wrote-In Condoleezza Rice in 2020 Election and Clarifies ‘Nativist’ Comment,” People
THE NEXT GENERATION — The Harvard Institute of Politics is out this morning with a new poll of 18- to 29-year-old Americans, and some of the results are fascinating: Biden has the highest favorability among this group of any first-term president over the 21 years this poll has been conducted. … Fifty-six percent of young Americans are hopeful about the country’s future, including 72% of Black people and 69% of Hispanic people. … Young Americans are more politically active than they used to be, and there’s been a big increase in progressive views.
More findings: Three-quarters of young Americans say they want more open-mindedness in politics. … They rank Facebook as the least trustworthy of 16 major institutions, and half want more Big Tech regulation. … Only 26% of young Republicans think Biden won fairly. … About one-third of young Americans have seen politics get in the way of a friendship. The full poll results
TV TONIGHT — PBS’ “Washington Week,” guest-moderated by Peter Baker: Josh Lederman, Toluse Olorunnipa, Susan Page and Pierre Thomas.
SUNDAY SO FAR …
“Fox News Sunday”: Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) … House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy … Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). Panel: Brit Hume, Julie Pace and Juan Williams. Plus a special broadcast celebrating the program’s 25-year anniversary — looking back at the show’s history, some of its special guests and how the world has changed.
“Full Court Press”: Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) … Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska).
“Face the Nation”: Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine … Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.) … Troy Finner … Sherrilyn Ifill … Scott Gottlieb.
“The Sunday Show”: Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) … Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.) … Virginia state Sen. Jennifer McClellan … Charles Blow.
“Inside Politics”: Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) … Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Mich.).
“Meet the Press”: Panel: Malcolm Gladwell, Peggy Noonan, Morgan Radford and Eugene Robinson.
TRUMP SAYS ‘NO’ TO WOODWARD — The former president sat down for an interview with MICHAEL WOLFF, who wrote two books exposing his dysfunctional administration. He let MAGGIE HABERMAN and JEREMY PETERS, who write for what Trump calls “the failing New York Times,” question him at Mar-a-Lago for their forthcoming books. A source in Trumpworld said he believes that if he can make a book even 10% more favorable to him it’s worth talking to the journalist.
Except one. Trump, we’re told, is refusing an interview with the legendary BOB WOODARD, who is writing his next book with WaPo’s BOB COSTA. In his latest bestseller, “Rage,” published just before the election, Woodward revealed that Trump downplayed the pandemic in its early days despite knowing how deadly the coronavirus would be. “President Trump is not participating in Bob Woodward’s book,” said Trump spokesman JASON MILLER. Woodward, Costa and their publisher, Simon & Schuster, did not respond to requests for comment.
SPOTTED: John Bolton in the first row of first class on a United flight from Houston to DCA, masked up and reading a book.
MEDIAWATCH — Robert Hayes has been appointed chief business officer for new ventures at Dow Jones. He most recently was EVP for NBC Entertainment and Peacock at NBCUniversal. Announcement
FIRST IN PLAYBOOK — Matt Pottinger is now senior adviser at the Marathon Initiative, a nonprofit think tank focused on developing strategies for great power competition. He previously was deputy national security adviser in the Trump White House.
STAFFING UP — The White House announced a suite of forthcoming climate and infrastructure nominees: Amit Bose as head of the Federal Railroad Administration, Tracy Stone-Manning as head of the Bureau of Land Management, Rick Spinrad as head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Carlos Monje, Robert Hampshire and Annie Petsonk at DOT, Shalanda Baker, Asmeret Berhe and Frank Rose at DOE, Monica Medina (who’s married to Ron Klain) at State, Bryan Newland at Interior and Margaret Schaus at NASA.
TRANSITIONS — Mark Smith is now political director for Latham Saddler’s Georgia Senate campaign. He previously worked for Sen. David Perdue’s campaigns and Atlanta office. … New Rep. Julia Letlow (R-La.) announced her congressional staff, including Ted Verrill as chief of staff, Andrew Bautsch as Louisiana chief of staff, Lindsay Linhares as legislative director, and Trey Williams as coombs director. … Halleh Seyson is joining CNA as a VP, heading the enterprise systems data analysis division. She previously was EVP and COO at Cathexis.
WELCOME TO THE WORLD — Massachusetts state Sen. Eric Lesser, an Obama White House alum, and Alison Silber, an attorney in private practice, welcomed David Wesley Lesser on April 5. He came in at 9 lbs, 0.3 oz and 20 inches, and joins big sisters Rose and Nora. Pic
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) … Pili Tobar, White House deputy comms director … Aaron Huertas … Jeff Wiener of Milne, Wiener & Shofe Global Strategies … John Oliver … Tim Lim of Lim Consulting and the Hooligans Agency … Kindred Motes … Hadar Susskind of Americans for Peace Now … Michael Moore … Doug Brake of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation … Kal Penn … Clarine Nardi Riddle of Kasowitz Benson Torres and No Labels … Bill Browder … Global Women’s Innovation Network’s Tizzy Brown … Neil Strauss … Camila Gonzalez of WilmerHale … Zachery Michael … POLITICO’s Blendi Qatipi, Phil Vavelidis and Julian Sharat … Alexis Kleinman … Ted Trippi … Sarah Nielsen … Darien Flowers … Chevron’s Jennifer Smith … Michael Celler … Bloomberg’s Paula Dwyer … WNYC’s Beth Fertig … Justin White … Vice News’ Jesse Seidman
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