HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-Calif.) and REP. MARK MEADOWS (R-N.C.) — two of Trump closest Hill allies — were both on the campaign trail yesterday. McCarthy was in Ohio, Meadows was in South Carolina. The same thing happened. Trump called them.
— THE STATE’S TOM BARTON: “Keynote speaker, North Carolina U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows, chairman of the hardline conservative House Freedom Caucus, interrupted McMaster’s remarks with a phone call from President Donald Trump.
“‘I love South Carolina,’ Trump said via speaker phone. ‘We’re very proud of Mark, and, you know, Henry I assume is giving a speech every bit as good as anything Winston Churchill delivered. It must be very exciting to hear Henry speak, but we love him, and Mark is a special friend.’” The State
— COLUMBUS DISPATCH’S DARREL ROWLAND (@darreldrowland): “Check out this scene from the special OH 12 congressional election campaign: House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of CA holds a speakerphone with Donald Trump on the line talking to GOP candidate Troy Balderson…standing outside new veterans facility in Columbus this afternoon.” Tweet, with pic
PRESIDENT TRUMP to SEAN HANNITY on his radio show: “I am going to work very hard, I will go six or seven days a week when we’re 60 days out and I will be campaigning for all of these great people that do have a difficult race and we think we’re going to bring them over the line.”
— MANY ENDANGERED REPUBLICANS represent districts that Hillary Clinton won. Trump might not be particularly helpful in those places.
SPOTTED: Corey Lewandowski relaxing with his eyes shut in the lobby of the Trump Hotel. Pic
TOP TALKER … RONAN FARROW ON LES MOONVES — The New Yorker: “Les Moonves and CBS Face Allegations of Sexual Misconduct: Six women accuse the C.E.O. of harassment and intimidation, and dozens more describe abuse at his company”: “Six women who had professional dealings with him told me that, between the nineteen-eighties and the late aughts, Moonves sexually harassed them. Four described forcible touching or kissing during business meetings, in what they said appeared to be a practiced routine. Two told me that Moonves physically intimidated them or threatened to derail their careers.
“All said that he became cold or hostile after they rejected his advances, and that they believed their careers suffered as a result. … Thirty current and former employees of CBS told me that such behavior extended from Moonves to important parts of the corporation, including CBS News and ‘60 Minutes,’ one of the network’s most esteemed programs. During Moonves’s tenure, men at CBS News who were accused of sexual misconduct were promoted, even as the company paid settlements to women with complaints. …
“Nineteen current and former employees told me that Jeff Fager, the former chairman of CBS News and the current executive producer of ‘60 Minutes,’ allowed harassment in the division. … In a statement, Moonves said[:] … ‘I recognize that there were times decades ago when I may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances. Those were mistakes, and I regret them immensely. But I always understood and respected—and abided by the principle—that ‘no’ means ‘no,’ and I have never misused my position to harm or hinder anyone’s career.” New Yorker
— ANOTHER TOP TALKER … “‘If I kissed that one, would it lead to more?’ Federal housing chief investigated for sexual harassment,” by Victoria Guida, Katy O’Donnell and Lorraine Woellert: “Mel Watt, the powerful regulator of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, is under investigation for alleged sexual harassment of an employee.
“A Federal Housing Finance Agency staffer accused the FHFA director of repeatedly making inappropriate sexual advances when she tried to discuss career and salary concerns. The conversations included a 2016 meeting during which Watt steered the discussion to his feelings for the woman, according to documents and partial transcripts of tapes obtained by POLITICO.
“In a separate encounter, Watt asked about a tattoo on her ankle, saying, ‘If I kissed that one would it lead to more?’ The employee’s lawyer, Diane Seltzer Torre, confirmed the investigation after POLITICO received copies of the documents related to the case. The employee has filed an Equal Employment Opportunity complaint.
“‘There is an investigation in progress,’ Torre said. ‘Our preference is to let that investigation proceed.’ POLITICO is not naming the employee, who requested privacy during an ongoing investigation. Through an FHFA spokeswoman, Watt, 72, released a statement calling the leak of documents political. … Watt said in an email[:] … ‘I am confident that the investigation currently in progress will confirm that I have not done anything contrary to law.’” POLITICO
Good Saturday morning. The Nationals are above .500! They beat the Marlins 9-1 last night.
SPOTTED: REINCE PRIEBUS at Andrews Air Force Base on Friday, where he talked with recruiters as he explores potentially joining the Navy Reserve, which has a recruiting station at Andrews. He is considering trying to be an intelligence officer, a JAG or working in HR. His sister was a doctor in the Navy and his dad was 101st Airborne in the Army.
INTERESTING STORY … FRONT PAGE of the ARIZONA REPUBLIC: “Kelli Ward broadcasts photo with Donald Trump even though he asked her not to, source says,” by Yvonne Wingett Sanchez: “Trump agreed to pose for a photo with Ward during the December 2017 visit, but specifically asked that it not be shared, according to a White House official who witnessed the brief exchange but is not authorized to speak publicly about it.
“Ward, a former state senator from Lake Havasu City, has been seeking the president’s endorsement since the earliest days of her campaign; she also failed to capture Trump’s endorsement during her unsuccessful 2016 primary challenge of U.S. Sen. John McCain. For nearly a year, Ward has touted a tweet in which Trump invoked her name while slamming U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, who is retiring. …
“Zachery Henry, Ward’s spokesman, said in an emailed statement that the White House official’s description of the ‘photograph/conversation’ was inaccurate.
“‘Dr. Ward is quite proud to have spent time with the President and received his tweet of encouragement last year,’ Henry wrote, adding that the other two GOP candidates are playing up their own relationships with Trump. The White House’s press office did not respond to a request for comment.” AZ Republic … A1 PDF
WHAT AMERICA IS READING … TAMPA BAY TIMES: “Scott paperwork sets worth at $255 million” … PALM BEACH POST: “Trump key issue in both governor races” … WICHITA EAGLE: “Deluge of campaign ads to air next week” … COLUMBUS DISPATCH: “Pence making campaign stop in 12th District” … PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: “Economy surges at fastest pace since ‘14”
WAPO’S PHIL RUCKER, JOSH DAWSEY and ASHLEY PARKER, “Venting about press, Trump has repeatedly sought to ban reporters over questions”: “President Trump has sought repeatedly to punish journalists for the way they ask him questions, directing White House staff to ban those reporters from covering official events or to revoke their press credentials, according to several current and former administration officials. At various moments throughout his presidency, Trump has vented angrily to aides about what he considers disrespectful behavior and impertinent questions from reporters in the Oval Office and in other venues.
“He has also asked that retaliatory action be taken against them. ‘These people shouting questions are the worst,’ Trump has said, according to a current official. ‘Why do we have them in here?’ Until this week, the officials said, Trump’s senior aides have resisted carrying out his directives. They convinced him that moves to restrict media access could backfire and further strain the White House’s fraught relationship with the press corps, whose members the president routinely derides as ‘fake news’ and ‘dishonest people.’” WaPo
KEN VOGEL and ELIZABETH DIAS on NYT A1: “At Prayer Breakfast, Guests Seek Access to a Different Higher Power”: “[T]he annual event has become an international influence-peddling bazaar, where foreign dignitaries, religious leaders, diplomats and lobbyists jockey for access to the highest reaches of American power. … One lobbyist, Herman J. Cohen, offered what he billed as an exclusive invitation to last year’s breakfast, and three days of meetings around it, to an African leader for $220,000. … [H]e said that lobbyists have long brokered access to the breakfast, and opportunities surrounding it, for their foreign clients, often as part of a larger package of services.” NYT
SCOOP — “Accused Russian agent met with suspected Kremlin spy,” by Josh Meyer: “Accused Russian sleeper agent Mariia Butina met in January with the head of a Russian government-affiliated cultural center that authorities have long suspected of being a front for recruiting young American spies.
“Authorities believe the meeting with Oleg Zhiganov, the longtime director of the Russian Cultural Centre, was one of several pieces of evidence that Butina was a flight risk, and a judge recently agreed. But Butina’s attorney insists the get-together was nothing more than a nice dinner out between two Russian expatriates who had met a few times at the embassy, where Zhiganov serves as first secretary.
“‘As far as I know, they went out to dinner that one time,’ Butina’s defense attorney, Robert Driscoll, told POLITICO. ‘And she might have known him from events at the embassy.’” POLITICO
XAVIER BECERRA UPDATE … L.A. TIMES: “California’s attorney general is waging war against Trump. These are the battlefronts” L.A. TIMES
YIKES — “Homicides using guns up 31 percent, CDC finds,” by NBC News’ Maggie Fox: “The CDC found a 31 percent increase in homicides involving firearms from 2014 to 2016. In 2014, 11,008 homicides involved a gun. The number rose to 14,415 by 2016 … Guns were by far the most common weapon used in homicides.” NBC
POLITICO GETS RESULTS – “HHS official who spread conspiracy theories forced out,” by Dan Diamond: “Ximena Barreto — a Donald Trump political appointee who used social media to spread conspiracy theories about a supposed pizza shop sex ring and made other inflammatory remarks — was escorted from Health and Human Services Department headquarters Friday, according to an individual with knowledge of the situation. Barreto resigned …
“Before joining HHS as a deputy communications director in December 2017, Barreto spread conspiracy theories on social media and through online videos — among them that Hillary Clinton was engaged in a child-sex ring at a Washington pizza shop, involved in the murder of [DNC] aide Seth Rich and employed pedophiles in her campaign. … Barreto is the third HHS staffer to depart after POLITICO profiled the way Trump appointees were using social media to spread conspiracy theories and make controversial statements.” POLITICO … The original Dan Diamond story
ERIC GELLER, “Despite Trump’s assurances, states struggling to protect 2020 election”: “President Donald Trump on Friday promised an intense, ‘whole-of-government’ focus on securing the nation’s elections from cyberattacks — but a POLITICO survey of states finds ample reasons to worry about both this year’s midterms and 2020. Only 14 states plus Washington, D.C., say they plan to replace their voting machines in time for the next presidential election using their shares of the $380 million in election technology funding that Congress approved in March, according to POLITICO’s survey of election agencies nationwide. At least six other states have paid for new voting equipment with other money.
“But 22 states either have decided not to upgrade their machines or are unsure of their plans — with some saying they would need much more federal aid to swap out their equipment. POLITICO has previously reported that states expected to have few security upgrades in place before November, when voters will decide whether to keep Trump’s Republican allies in charge of Congress. Of the 42 states that described aspects of their plans to POLITICO, none indicated they would have new voting machines purchased with federal funding in place this year.” POLITICO
MEDIAWATCH – “Cheddar, a TV Disruptor, Launches a Traditional Cable Channel,” by WSJ’s Benjamin Mullin: “Cheddar Inc. set out to upend traditional cable TV with its financial news-focused streaming service. Now it is making a push onto the cable dial.
“The company this week went live on WOW, a Denver-based cable and broadband provider with close to 800,000 subscribers. The network has been made available to about 400,000 of WOW’s cable subscribers in states including Alabama, Florida and Michigan, marking the first time that Cheddar’s content has been offered as a traditional cable channel. Separately, Cheddar recently signed a deal with the National Cable Television Cooperative, which represents roughly 840 small U.S. cable operators covering some 8 million households.” WSJ
CLICKER – “The nation’s cartoonists on the week in politics,” edited by Matt Wuerker – 10 funnies
GREAT WEEKEND READS, curated by Daniel Lippman:
— “This Is What It’s Like to Be Kidnapped by Pirates,” by Michael Scott Moore in GQ: “We tried to play cards, but during the long afternoon the tropical heat mounted, and we had little to keep us from remembering our status as prisoners, or the tons of rigid tuna in the freezer, or the captain, who had been shot dead when the pirates boarded, now stored in there like a fish. We wondered if he would decompose. A smell rose from the corner grate we used for a latrine.” GQ (h/t TheBrowser.com)
— Schlitterbahn’s Tragic Slide,” by Skip Hollandsworth in Texas Monthly: “Jeff Henry often said that his goal in life was to make customers of his family’s legendary water parks happy—‘to put a smile on their faces, to give them a thrill or two.’ It was a beautiful vision. Until it went horribly wrong.” Texas Monthly (h/t Longform.org)
— “The Great CNN Baby Boom,” by Patti Greco in Cosmo: “An unprecedented number of the network’s most prominent women are proving they can handle a maddening news cycle and morning sickness.” Cosmo
— “Dying Alone in Japan: The Industry Devoted to What’s Left Behind,” Adam Minter in Bloomberg Businessweek: “As the country’s population ages and shrinks, there’s increasing demand for services that clean out and dispose of the property of the dead.” Bloomberg
— “New York On ICE” – The Marshall Project and New York Magazine – per Longreads.com’s description: “A massive, polyphonic account of the plight of undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers in New York City, where ICE’s increased presence has sent entire communities reeling.” Marshall Project
— “How the definitive Obama White House oral history came together,” by Joseph Longo in Entertainment Weekly, reviewing “Obama: An Oral History,” by Brian Abrams: “One fascinating anecdote concerns White House Director of Operations David Cusack, who was the last holdover Obama staffer to work in the West Wing: As ‘An Oral History’ tells it, he demanded that Trump aides who were moving in five minutes early on Inauguration Day vacate the space until exactly 11:59 a.m.” EW … $14.95 on Amazon
— “When the World Opened the Gates of China: Was it a mistake for the U.S. to allow China to join the World Trade Organization? …” by Bob Davis in WSJ’s Saturday Essay: “A study by the MIT economist David Autor and colleagues calculated that Chinese competition cost the U.S. some 2.4 million jobs between 1999 and 2011, battering factory towns that made labor-intensive goods. That result haunts one of Mr. Clinton’s senior China negotiators, Robert B. Cassidy, who believes that his work only helped big businesses, not ordinary workers. ‘When you retire you like to think that you accomplished a lot,’ he says now, at age 73. ‘What kind of benefit did I produce from working around the clock? I was incredibly disappointed.’” WSJ
— “The Fish That Gave Too Much,” by Paul Greenberg in Hakai Magazine: “The Italian fish sauce—colatura—is made from anchovies and literally adds the Mediterranean into the famously healthy Mediterranean diet. So many good things, however, have a downside.” Hakai (h/t Longreads.com)
— “The Gulp War,” by Dave Stroup in Eater: “In a state where too many towns don’t have clean tap water, the world’s largest water tasting [in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia] is still going strong after nearly three decades.” Eater
— “How Goop’s Haters Made Gwyneth Paltrow’s Company Worth $250 Million,” by Taffy Brodesser-Akner in tomorrow’s NYT Magazine: “Inside the growth of the most controversial brand in the wellness industry.” NYT
— “Lovers of Wisdom,” by Jim Holt in the N.Y. Review of Books, reviewing “Lives of the Eminent Philosophers,” by Diogenes Laertius, translated from the Greek by Pamela Mensch and edited by James Miller: “He may have been a flaming mediocrity. He may have been credulous and intellectually shallow. He may have produced a scissors-and-paste job cribbed from other ancient sources. But those other sources are lost, which makes what Diogenes Laertius left behind truly priceless. He is keenly attuned to the philosopher as a social type, and an eccentric one at that.” NYRB … $41.97 on Amazon
— “Portrait of an Artist as an Old Man: Mel Brooks in His 90s,” by David Denby in the Atlantic: “Mel Brooks has just turned 92. He has blue-gray eyes and a rakish smile; the voice remains powerfully hoarse. No one is ever likely to miss a Mel Brooks joke, since he speaks, sometimes roars, with great precision. His normal speaking voice could be called classical Brooklyn, the sound I remember as a New York kid from encounters with taxi drivers, baseball fans, and teachers. Those men had a definite flavor, and they meant to be understood.” The Atlantic
SPOTTED at Due South yesterday after the Zac Brown concert: Jayson Werth and Mike Rizzo.
BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Courtney Kube, a national security and military reporter for NBC News. How she got her start in journalism: “During my time as an undergrad, I wanted to be a doctor. The summer before senior year, I came home to Bethesda to live with my parents (and save some money). I wanted to do something interesting and outside of my normal science and biology world, so I applied for an internship at ‘Meet the Press.’ Plus, they only needed someone a couple days per week, so I could still wait tables to earn money. The first time I walked in the studio and met Tim Russert, I was hooked. I changed my major and started working at NBC News the following spring.” Playbook Plus Q&A
BIRTHDAYS: Huma Abedin … BuzzFeed’s Ruby Cramer (hat tip: Rosie Gray) … Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) is 52 … Jay Zeidman, managing partner at Resolute Venture Partners … Scott Pelley is 61 … Bill Bradley is 75 … Dick Ebersol is 71 … Patrick Boland … Torrie Miller Matous … Kathy Dedrick … Betsy Werronen … Sam Mondry-Cohen of the Nats … Scott Pearson, executive director of the DC Public Charter School Board (h/t Jon Haber) … Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) is 59 … Satish Narayanan (h/t Tim Burger) … Sarah Jackson … Politico’s Laura Nahmias, Kidron Lewis and Tanya Snyder … Lauren Kaplan … WaPo’s Beth Reinhard … Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is 44 … Susan Berghoef … Becky Able … conservative radio host Steve Deace … Steve Glasser … Abigail Alger …
… Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, is 67 (h/t David Andelman) … New Hampshire’s Kevin Smith … Stacey Barton … Ann Tumolo … Colin Hart, VP of crisis and issues management at FleishmanHillard (h/t Marc Smrikarov) … George Cook … Sophie White (h/t Madeleine Weast) … Shannon Salk … Brad Crowell … former U.S. attorney general Michael Mukasey is 77 … columnist John Feinstein is 62 … Anne Wojcicki, co-founder and CEO of 23andMe … Grant Allen … Amanda Fogarty …. Bill Cheney … Kelly Landis … Chandler Thornton, national chairman of the College Republican National Committee (h/t Alex Schriver) … Lea O’Neal … Brian Dotts … Kirsten Fedewa … Christopher M. Schroeder … Scott Ferrell … Susanna Fleek Green … Lacey White … Jesse Boatwright … Theresa Kehoe … Phil Rawson … Solenne Trequesser … John Lease … Henry Wachs (h/ts Teresa Vilmain)
THE SHOWS, by @MattMackowiak, filing from Austin:
“Meet the Press”: Sam Nunberg … Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) … Michael Isikoff. Panel: Matt Continetti, Eddie Glaude, Jr., Andrea Mitchell and Peggy Noonan
“This Week”: Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) … Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.) … Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio). Legal panel: Dan Abrams and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Political panel: Rick Klein, Dan Balz, Mara Gay and Mary Jordan
“Face the Nation”: Rudy Giuliani … Larry Kudlow … Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) … Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.). Panel: Anne Gearan, Ed O’Keefe, Shannon Pettypiece and Salena Zito
“Fox News Sunday”: Rudy Giuliani … Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Panel: Jonah Goldberg, Gillian Turner, Jonathan Swan and Mo Elleithee
“MediaBuzz”: Sara Fischer …Guy Benson … Adrienne Elrod … Morgan Ortagus … Bill Press … Brent Lang … Charles Gasparino
“Sunday Morning Futures”: Vice President Mike Pence … Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) … Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.)
“Inside Politics”: Abby Phillip, Mike Shear, Mary Katharine Ham and Phil Mattingly
“State of the Union”: Larry Kudlow … Anthony Scaramucci … Mitch Landrieu. Panel: Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), David Urban, Nina Turner and Amanda Carpenter (“Gaslighting America: Why We Love It When Trump Lies to Us”)
“Fareed Zakaria GPS”: Reuel Marc Gerecht and Trita Parsi … Husain Haqqani (“Reimagining Pakistan: Transforming a Dysfunctional Nuclear State”) and Laurel Miller … Yale University Comparative Cognition Laboratory director Laurie Santos
“Reliable Sources”: Ronan Farrow … Carl Bernstein … Jessica Rosenworcel … Olivier Knox and Katie Rogers … S.E. Cupp.
“Al Punto”: Parents reunited with their child (Johan Bueso) Adalicia Montecinos and Rolando Bueso … President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador transition team member Tatiana Clouthier … Rep. Norma Torres (D-Calif.) … musician Luis Enrique … author Cecilia Ramírez Harris
“The Communicators”: British conservative member of European Parliament Syed Kamall, questioned by David Shepardson … “Newsmakers”: Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), questioned by Lisa Mascaro and Anne Gearan … “Q&A”: author and constitutional lawyer David Stewart (“Impeached: The Trial of President Andrew Johnson and the Fight for Lincoln’s Legacy”)
“Kasie DC”: Alan Dershowitz … Katie Arrington … Sam Stein … Ken Vogel … Seung Min Kim … Maria Teresa Kumar … Guy Cecil … Paul Butler … Mimi Rocah … Sara Fischer … Jo Ling Kent
“Mack on Politics” weekly politics podcast with Matt Mackowiak (download on iTunes, Google Play, or Stitcher or listen at MackOnPolitics.com): Randy Barnett.