The Hill's Morning Report: Trump, Bibi tag-team on Iran

 

Welcome to The Hill's Morning Report, and happy first day in May! This daily email, a successor to The Hill’s Tipsheet, is reported by Jonathan Easley and Alexis Simendinger to get you up to speed on the most important developments in politics and policy, plus trends to watch.  (CLICK HERE to subscribe!)

Seven years is tomorrow. -- President TrumpDonald John TrumpTed Cruz knocks New York Times for 'stunning' correction on Kavanaugh report US service member killed in Afghanistan Pro-Trump website edited British reality star's picture to show him wearing Trump hat MORE to The Hill’s Jordan Fabian, arguing the current deal with Iran does little to slow Tehran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon.

If an alternative agreement can’t be reached by the May 12 deadline, mark April 30 as the day President Trump walked away from the Iran nuclear pact.

Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tag-teamed on Monday to argue that Iran is violating the terms of a nuclear agreement that former President Obama’s foreign policy team negotiated with Iran on behalf of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, plus Germany and the European Union.

All of the cable networks cut to Netanyahu’s dramatic speech from Tel Aviv in front of a massive screen flashing images from a trove of intelligence documents he said show Tehran violated the deal’s provisions. Netanyahu’s claims:

  • Iran lied about its nuclear ambitions and retained more lethal inventory than the government declared before the original deal was reached in 2015.
  • Iran preserved its nuclear know-how throughout.
  • Iran has violated the terms of the deal by maintaining secret weapons facilities.

International inspectors and the rest of the signatories to the nuclear deal maintain that Iran continues to comply with the terms of the agreement, although it’s unclear whether they’ve reviewed Netanyahu’s findings. Iran called the dramatic presentation “a rehash of old allegations.”

Trump, who spoke with Netanyahu over the weekend, followed the prime minister’s presentation by minutes on Monday, arguing that the Israeli intelligence affirmed “that I’ve been 100 percent right” about Iran.

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoThe Hill's 12:30 Report: NY Times story sparks new firestorm over Kavanaugh Gabbard warns Trump: Acting like 'Saudi Arabia's b---- is not "America First"' Trump ramps up rhetoric on Iran MORE ducked a question from reporters about whether the documents contain hard evidence that Iran violated the nuclear agreement since it was concluded. “We’ll leave that to lawyers,” he said as he left the Middle East.

The president left the door open to finding a last-minute fix before the May 12 deadline: “That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t negotiate another agreement; we’ll see what happens.

LEADING THE DAY

WEST WING:

Time to start the clock on chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE’s remaining tenure at the White House? NBC News reported that Kelly described Trump as an “idiot” and generally cast himself as the last defense against an erratic president. Not an auspicious sign.

Kelly responds: “[Trump] and I both know this story is total BS.”

Trump tweeted his retorts Monday night:

 

 


 

 

Flashback: Former Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonPompeo sees status grow with Bolton exit Trump blasts 'Mr. Tough Guy' Bolton: 'He made some very big mistakes' Fox's Cavuto roasts Trump over criticism of network MORE never denied calling the president a “moron.” He’s back in Texas now.

The Wall Street Journal: Trump considering Kelly as possible candidate for Veterans Affairs secretary.

The New York Times: Meet the Schlapps, Washington’s Trump-era “It Couple.”

AGENCIES:

The Wall Street Journal: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement director to retire.

LAWSUITS & INVESTIGATIONS:

The New York Times reports that special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerFox's Cavuto roasts Trump over criticism of network Mueller report fades from political conversation Trump calls for probe of Obama book deal MORE has at least four dozen questions he’d like to ask President Trump in an interview, including queries tied to potential obstruction of justice and contacts with Russia. The newspaper published open-ended questions shared with Trump’s legal team by Mueller’s investigators. Example: “What is the reason for your continued criticism of Mr. Comey and his former deputy, Andrew G. McCabe?”

The Hill: House conservatives draft articles of impeachment for Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinHouse Democrats seeking Sessions's testimony in impeachment probe McCabe's counsel presses US attorney on whether grand jury decided not to indict US attorney recommends moving forward with charges against McCabe after DOJ rejects his appeal MORE, who is overseeing the Mueller probe.

Politico: Former Trump campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortDemocrats return to a battered Trump Manafort's legal team argues NY prosecution constitutes double jeopardy Clip surfaces of Paul Manafort and wife on Nickelodeon game show MORE requests hearing on media leaks.

Meanwhile, ABC News reports that the Trump campaign paid some legal fees to the president’s personal attorney Michael Cohen. It’s possible those payments pertain to the Russia investigation and are on the level. But if investigators find the payment was  related to hush money Cohen paid Daniels, it could bring campaign finance violation allegations into play.

Reuters: Stormy Daniels sues Trump for defamation.

IMMIGRATION:

Trump said Monday the administration continues to strictly enforce entry to the U.S., including discouraging undocumented Central American asylum-seekers who reached the border Sunday as part of a weeks-long caravan trek through Mexico.

***BREAKING OVERNIGHT: The Justice Department filed criminal charges against 11 members of the caravan who tried to enter the country illegally. (CNN) ***

AP: Bottleneck at border remains.

The president, who said other nations disparage U.S. immigration laws “for their stupidity,” called on Congress to toughen statutes, support new border wall construction and prevent “thousands of people just pouring into our country.”

Trump spoke in the Rose Garden as Vice President Pence arrived in California’s Imperial Valley for a tour of a fortified construction area slated for a new border barrier.

The Los Angeles Times: Most of the asylum-seekers who reached the border are from Honduras. U.S. Customs and Border officials told some migrants they would have to wait on the Mexico side of the divide at the Tijuana-San Ysidro crossing because they said U.S. facilities are at capacity.

Human Rights First, an advocacy organization monitoring the government on the ground, reported that Customs and Border employees began processing eight individuals seeking asylum late Monday after 26 hours at the border.

The Hill: Federal judge in New York questions whether Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) lawsuits can use Trump’s remarks.

The Hill: Trump and Nigeria’s president said they did not discuss the president’s previously reported “shithole countries” remarks. Trump has denied using the term to denigrate some African and Caribbean countries that benefit from U.S. immigration policies.

IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

➔ CONGRESS:

Sen John McCainJohn Sidney McCain The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation Biden's debate performance renews questions of health At debate, Warren and Buttigieg tap idealism of Obama, FDR MORE (R-Az.) on the final chapter of his life (Daily Beast) … Rising GOP star Rep. Mark WalkerBradley (Mark) Mark WalkerTo boost minority serving institutions, bipartisan Future Act needs immediate action Pressure rises on Cheney to make decision NCAA urges California governor not to sign 'fair pay' bill for college athletes MORE (R-N.C.) stumbles in leadership bid (The Hill) … Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio Rubio The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation GOP group's ad calls on Graham to push for election security: 'Are you still trying?' Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick joins CBS News as contributor MORE (R-Fla.) says “no evidence” corporate tax cuts are benefitting workers (The Hill) … Trump calls for term limits, an old idea also backed by some House conservatives:

 

 

➔ POLITICS:

Democrats and Republicans are making key strategic decisions as the 2018 midterm election cycle enters a pivotal stretch. These two stories at The Hill about impeachment illustrate the intra-party debates going on:

From The Hill’s Niall Stanage, influential figures close to the president want to turn the midterm elections into a referendum on the president’s possible impeachment, believing it will help them match Democratic enthusiasm. (The Hill)

Juan Williams: Democrats must take nothing for granted.

And from The Hill’s Alexander Bolton and Melanie Zanona – Trump is ramping up his efforts to protect the House amid fears that Democrats will vote to impeach him. Democratic leaders are trying to pump the brakes on impeachment talk, but it plays well among the liberal base. Republicans, meanwhile, are aiming to ensure that no GOP lawmakers vote for articles of impeachment. (The Hill)

Polls round-up

Gallup: Trump approval rises to 42 percent, highest in 11 months.

Reuters/Ipsos: Democrats lose ground among millennial voters; view GOP as better on the economy.

Emerson College: Missourians want scandal-plagued Gov. Eric Greitens (R) gone.

NBC: Missouri Senate a dead heat.

Campaigns round-up

Fox News: Politics editor Chris Stirewalt’s “power rankings” for seven contested Senate seats.

CNN: A dozen GOP-held House seats get more competitive.

Public Discourse: Social conservatives must adapt or die.

The Hill: GOP more confident about West Virginia Senate seat as controversial former coal CEO Don Blankenship fades.

The Hill: Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) posts huge fundraising haul ahead of Senate bid. (That doesn’t count the millions he could use from his bank account).

And check out NBC’s five primaries to watch: The GOP’s three-way primary fight in Indiana…National Republicans look to sink Blankenship in West Virginia … Battle of progressives in the Democratic gubernatorial primary … Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s successor … Racial divisions on the left for Democratic gubernatorial primary in Georgia.

➔ TRADE TARIFFS:

The administration delayed a decision about whether to impose steel and aluminum tariffs on the European Union, Canada and Mexico for another 30 days, giving key allies a reprieve as the countries carry out further negotiations.

  • A deadline of midnight Tuesday now shifts into June (Reuters).
  • The government also granted Argentina, Brazil and Australia permanent waivers from the tariffs.
  • The European Union, which also seeks a permanent exemption, said the uncertainty prompted by the United States harms corporate planning (Reuters).

The New York Times: Trump plans to send a senior trade delegation to Beijing on Thursday, including Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinIran: Rouhani, Trump won't meet at United Nations Trump denies reports he's willing to meet with Iran with 'no conditions' Turkey confirms delivery of second Russian anti-missile system MORE, but China says it will refuse to discuss key U.S. trade demands, a stance that could scuttle a meeting.

OPINION

The end of intelligence, by former CIA Director Michael Hayden, The New York Times. https://nyti.ms/2I4f4e1

Kim Jong Un makes stunning nuclear concessions to ‘crazy guy’ Trump, by Gordon G. Chang, commentary, The Daily Beast. https://thebea.st/2I0ETvG

WHERE AND WHEN

The House and Senate are out this week.

President Trump presents the commander in chief’s trophy to the U.S. Military Academy football team. He’ll meet with the crew of Southwest Airlines’ Flight 1380, which experienced in-flight engine failure and one passenger death.

Vice President Pence flies today from Los Angeles to Phoenix to headline a midday political event for Gov. Doug Ducey. Later, he’ll speak in Tempe at an America First Policies event with local businesses to tout the impact of GOP tax cuts. Also in Phoenix before flying back to Washington, Pence will also speak in the evening at a National Republican Senatorial Committee fundraising event along with chairman and Sen. Cory GardnerCory Scott Gardner The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation Bolton returns to political group after exiting administration The Hill's Morning Report — Trump's hurricane forecast controversy won't go away MORE (R-Colo.).

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, back from four days abroad, will address his department’s employees today for the first time since being sworn in.

ELSEWHERE

> No signs of investment boom from Trump’s tax cuts. (The New York Times)

> Cities pay for workers to move amid labor shortage. (The Wall Street Journal)

> Fed likely to keep rates steady; investors bet on a June hike. (Reuters)

THE CLOSER

And finally … what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger: Brazilian Rodrigo Koxa broke a world record by surfing a massive, 80-foot wave in Portugal in the same spot where he nearly died in 2014. Koxa accomplished his feat in November and accepted the top award from the World Surf League on Saturday.

The 38-year-old surfer called it “the best day of my life” and described the experience.

 “I had an amazing dream the night before,” he said. “Where I was talking to myself, ‘You gotta go straight down. You gotta go straight down.’ I didn’t really know what it meant. But I figured somebody was talking to me. When I got my wave, I let go of the rope, I started to use my rail to angle toward the shoulder, but then realized, if I used my rail, I’d never get deep. And then I remembered: ‘Go straight down.’ When I said it, I remembered my dream. I turned and I almost fell, but then I got my feet again and went super fast. I’ve never had a big wave like that where I didn’t use the rail at all. Just went straight down. It was amazing.” (Surfline.com)

Don’t miss video of Koxa heading straight down what some called a “liquid mountain”: https://bit.ly/2r9Lt9f