Despite Widespread Pushback, Trump Finds Some Support for Tariff Plan

U.S. President Donald Trump’s plan to impose tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum has met criticism from his Republican allies in Congress, many of whom worry the measures could trigger a trade war that damages U.S. businesses. But the president does have supporters among some Senate Democrats from states where voters are concerned about the long-term loss of American manufacturing jobs.

“This welcome action is long overdue for shuttered steel plants across Ohio and steelworkers who live in fear that their jobs will be the next victims of Chinese cheating,” Senator Sherrod Brown, a Democrat from Ohio, said in a statement released after the plan was announced. “If we fail to stand up for steel jobs today, China will come after other jobs up and down the supply chain tomorrow.”

American labor unions have also broadly favored Trump’s proposed tariffs, saying they have been complaining for years that foreign countries frequently subsidize their own steel industries, putting American competitors at a disadvantage. 

Economists have been mostly critical of the plan, saying that overall it will hurt American manufacturers, some of whom may be targeted by trading partners for retaliatory sanction. They argue that the benefits to steel and aluminum workers are outweighed by job losses among Americans in other industries. 

Tariffs in focus in special election 

A test of how much the issue is resonating with American voters comes next week, when voters in Pennsylvania’s 18th congressional district, vote in a special election to fill a vacated seat. 

Many voters are looking to the president to fulfill his campaign promise of protecting manufacturing jobs in America’s heartland.

The race for the seat left vacant by Rep. Tim Murphy’s sex scandal is coming down to the wire between Republican candidate Rick Saccone and Democrat Conor Lamb.

Saccone’s campaign endorsed Trump’s tariff plan in a statement, saying “If other countries aren’t playing by the rules and tariffs are needed to protect steel and aluminum jobs in Southwestern Pennsylvania, Rick would support those measures.”Pennsylvania’s Democratic Senator Bob Casey also voiced his support for the president’s plan in a Facebook statement Thursday.

“I commend the President for announcing his intent to take action to protect our steelworkers from countries, like China, that cheat on trade. I have repeatedly called on this and previous Administrations to aggressively enforce our trade laws. For years, foreign countries have been dumping steel into our markets and costing our workers their jobs and suppressing their wages,” he wrote.

But Trump’s plan to impose the new tariffs prompted White House Chief Economic Advisor Gary Cohn to resign Tuesday.

McConnell, Ryan concerned

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan also expressed their concerns to the president, urging him to target the tariffs against specific countries to avoid a potential trade war.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told cable news network CNBC Wednesday the administration is not seeking a trade war. 

“We’re going to have very sensible relations with our allies,” said Ross. “We hope and we believe that at the end of the day, there will be a process of working with the other countries that are our friends.”

Trump dismissed concerns about a trade war during a joint press conference with the Swedish prime minister Tuesday.

“When we’re behind on every single country, trade wars aren’t so bad,” he told reporters. “In some cases we lose on trade plus we give them military where we’re subsidizing them tremendously. So, not only do we lose on trade, we lose on military.”

The administration is considering the new tariffs under a so-called “232 report.” It allows the president to impose trade quotes or tariffs if a probe finds imports threaten national security.

‘National security’

“It’s about our economy,” Vice President Mike Pence said of the need to enact tariffs, during a February meeting with lawmakers. “It’s about our national security.”

A March 7 Politico/Morning Consult poll of 2,000 registered voters, found that 65 percent of Republicans support the president’s plan.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Wednesday the administration was still on pace to fully roll-out the tariffs at the end of this week.

Texas Voting Shows Energized Democrats, Determined Republicans

Democrats flexed their muscles in the first primary voting of the 2018 midterm congressional election cycle in Texas on Tuesday.  More than one million Democrats cast ballots in the Senate primary for U.S. Senate, the highest number since 1994, the last time Democrats were able to win a statewide race in a state that has remained firmly in the Republican column ever since.

Republicans also delivered a strong turnout showing on Tuesday.  More than 1.5 voters cast ballots in the Republican primaries, setting a new record for a non-presidential election.

The Texas primary voting marked the official beginning of the 2018 congressional election campaign when all 435 seats in the House of Representatives and about one-third of the 100 Senate seats will be on the ballot.  This year’s midterm election is fraught with huge political consequences for President Donald Trump, his Republican allies in Congress and opposition Democrats.

One trend already apparent from Texas is a huge jump in the number of women candidates, especially Democrats, who are running for Congress and state offices around the country this year.  “We feel like it is time for our voices to be heard and for us to have a seat at the table,” said Democratic congressional candidate Lizzie Pannill Fletcher, who will now face a runoff election in May for her party’s nomination.

Trump is focus

Democrats have made opposition to Trump a central theme in their bid to win back control of the House of Representatives and the Senate.

But Republican voters also turned out in force in the Texas primaries this week and many are standing by the president.  “He is doing a lot of good for this country and I hope they see that we have people of all ethnicities here supporting our president,” said Trump supporter Jennifer Drabbant.  She helped organize a pro-Trump rally this past weekend in Austin.

Trump is also warning his supporters not to be complacent this year.

“You know, you are sitting back, you’re watching television and saying, ‘Ah, maybe I don’t have to vote today.  We just won the presidency.’  And then we get clobbered and we can’t let that happen,” Trump told attendees at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference outside Washington.

Despite a politically rocky first year in office, Trump seems to have solidified Republicans behind him.  “The more strongly a voter identifies with the Republican Party, the more strongly he or she tends to approve of Donald Trump,” said Brookings Institution analyst Bill Galston.  “And so in a very real sense, I think the Republican Party is now the party of Trump.”

But Trump’s success with his base may have come at the expense of his overall approval rating, which remains historically low.  And that is a worry for many Republican candidates.  “As the president goes down, the trust and desire to vote for Republicans goes down, and that is a trend that is just quietly building against the Republicans,” said Quinnipiac pollster Tim Malloy in a Skype interview.  “They have a very rough midterm ahead.”

Bucking history

Even veteran Republicans like Republican National Committeeman Morton Blackwell of Virginia has noticed the energy among Democrats.  “There are signs that the Democrats as a movement rather than as a party are doing, I think, more than Republicans are doing to generate grass roots support.”

In another sign of what could be a Democratic surge this year, several Republicans have already decided to retire from Congress.  “There are many members who are retiring because of what the political landscape looks like,” said John Hudak of Brookings.  “There are many more targets among Republican-held seats than Democratic-held seats.”

Democratic victories in November could stall Trump’s agenda in Congress, setting the stage for a difficult two years for the president leading up to the next presidential election in 2020.

Republicans are hoping to confound history in this year’s elections.  The president’s party loses an average of 30 seats in a midterm election, and that number can go higher if the president’s approval rating is below 50 percent.  Of late, Trump’s approval has averaged about 40 percent.

Democrats need a gain of 24 seats to retake control of the House, and a pickup of two Senate seats to reclaim a majority in that body.

 

Senior Trump Adviser Kushner to Visit Mexico on Wednesday

Senior adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump, Jared Kushner, will visit Mexico on Wednesday and meet President Enrique Pena Nieto, the Mexican foreign ministry said, after a ratcheting up of tensions over trade and plans for a border wall.

Late last month, Trump and Pena Nieto postponed plans for the Mexican leader’s first visit to the White House, after a testy phone call involving the U.S. leader’s push to make Mexico pay for a border wall.

Trump has repeatedly insisted Mexico must pay for the wall, a stance Mexican leaders have just as often rejected.

Kushner is a top foreign policy adviser as well as the president’s son-in-law but has recently lost access to the most valued U.S. intelligence report, U.S. officials told Reuters last week.

Accompanied on his visit by other U.S. diplomats and security officials, the foreign ministry statement said Kushner will also meet Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray, who has often visited him in the White House, most recently to try to broker a Trump-Pena Nieto meeting.

The bilateral relationship was again rocked last weekend as Trump announced steel and aluminum tariffs that he later described served as an incentive to reach a favorable re-negotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

The tariff announcement came during the latest round of talks to update NAFTA, which wrapped up in the Mexican capital on Monday.

Senior Trump Adviser Kushner to Visit Mexico on Wednesday

Senior adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump, Jared Kushner, will visit Mexico on Wednesday and meet President Enrique Pena Nieto, the Mexican foreign ministry said, after a ratcheting up of tensions over trade and plans for a border wall.

Late last month, Trump and Pena Nieto postponed plans for the Mexican leader’s first visit to the White House, after a testy phone call involving the U.S. leader’s push to make Mexico pay for a border wall.

Trump has repeatedly insisted Mexico must pay for the wall, a stance Mexican leaders have just as often rejected.

Kushner is a top foreign policy adviser as well as the president’s son-in-law but has recently lost access to the most valued U.S. intelligence report, U.S. officials told Reuters last week.

Accompanied on his visit by other U.S. diplomats and security officials, the foreign ministry statement said Kushner will also meet Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray, who has often visited him in the White House, most recently to try to broker a Trump-Pena Nieto meeting.

The bilateral relationship was again rocked last weekend as Trump announced steel and aluminum tariffs that he later described served as an incentive to reach a favorable re-negotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

The tariff announcement came during the latest round of talks to update NAFTA, which wrapped up in the Mexican capital on Monday.

Porn Star Sues Trump Over Nondisclosure Agreement

A porn star who has said she had sex with President Donald Trump filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking to invalidate a nondisclosure agreement that she signed days before the 2016 presidential election, which prevented her from discussing the alleged sexual encounters.

 

The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, alleges that the agreement is “null and void and of no consequence” because Trump didn’t personally sign it.

 

Adult film actress Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, said she wanted to go public with the details of her alleged sexual relationship with Trump in the weeks leading up to the election, according to the lawsuit. Clifford and Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen signed the nondisclosure agreement on Oct. 28, 2016.

 

Clifford alleges that she began an “intimate relationship” with Trump in 2006 and that it continued “well into the year 2007,” according to the lawsuit. She said the relationship included encounters in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, and Beverly Hills, California.

 

Trump married his current wife, Melania Trump, in 2005.

 

Clifford has claimed she had sex with Trump once and then carried on a subsequent yearslong platonic relationship. She has also, through a lawyer, denied the two had an affair. Cohen has denied there was ever an affair.

 

Cohen has said he paid the porn actress $130,000 out of his own pocket as part of the agreement. He has also said that “neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford, and neither reimbursed me for the payment, either directly or indirectly.”

 

The lawsuit charges that the “hush agreement” is legally invalid because it was only signed by Clifford and Cohen. The agreement refers to Trump as David Dennison and Clifford as Peggy Peterson, but an attached exhibit details their true identities.

 

Clifford’s lawsuit also alleges that Trump and Cohen “aggressively sought to silence Ms. Clifford as part of an effort to avoid her telling the truth, thus helping to ensure he won the Presidential Election.”

 

“To be clear, the attempts to intimidate Ms. Clifford into silence and ‘shut her up’ in order to ‘protect Mr. Trump’ continue unabated,” the lawsuit said. Clifford alleges that as recently as last week, Trump’s attorney tried to initiate an arbitration proceeding against her.

 

Neither Cohen nor the White House immediately responded to requests for comment Tuesday evening.

 

NBC News first reported the existence of the lawsuit.

Porn Star Sues Trump Over Nondisclosure Agreement

A porn star who has said she had sex with President Donald Trump filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking to invalidate a nondisclosure agreement that she signed days before the 2016 presidential election, which prevented her from discussing the alleged sexual encounters.

 

The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, alleges that the agreement is “null and void and of no consequence” because Trump didn’t personally sign it.

 

Adult film actress Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, said she wanted to go public with the details of her alleged sexual relationship with Trump in the weeks leading up to the election, according to the lawsuit. Clifford and Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen signed the nondisclosure agreement on Oct. 28, 2016.

 

Clifford alleges that she began an “intimate relationship” with Trump in 2006 and that it continued “well into the year 2007,” according to the lawsuit. She said the relationship included encounters in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, and Beverly Hills, California.

 

Trump married his current wife, Melania Trump, in 2005.

 

Clifford has claimed she had sex with Trump once and then carried on a subsequent yearslong platonic relationship. She has also, through a lawyer, denied the two had an affair. Cohen has denied there was ever an affair.

 

Cohen has said he paid the porn actress $130,000 out of his own pocket as part of the agreement. He has also said that “neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford, and neither reimbursed me for the payment, either directly or indirectly.”

 

The lawsuit charges that the “hush agreement” is legally invalid because it was only signed by Clifford and Cohen. The agreement refers to Trump as David Dennison and Clifford as Peggy Peterson, but an attached exhibit details their true identities.

 

Clifford’s lawsuit also alleges that Trump and Cohen “aggressively sought to silence Ms. Clifford as part of an effort to avoid her telling the truth, thus helping to ensure he won the Presidential Election.”

 

“To be clear, the attempts to intimidate Ms. Clifford into silence and ‘shut her up’ in order to ‘protect Mr. Trump’ continue unabated,” the lawsuit said. Clifford alleges that as recently as last week, Trump’s attorney tried to initiate an arbitration proceeding against her.

 

Neither Cohen nor the White House immediately responded to requests for comment Tuesday evening.

 

NBC News first reported the existence of the lawsuit.

White House Wants User-friendly Electronic Health Records

The Trump administration Tuesday launched a new effort under the direction of presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner to overcome years of problems with electronic medical records and make them easier for patients to use.

 

Medicare will play a key role, eventually enabling nearly 60 million beneficiaries to securely access claims data and share that information with their doctors.

 

Electronic medical records were ushered in with great fanfare but it’s generally acknowledged they’ve fallen short. Different systems don’t communicate. Patient portals can be clunky to navigate. Some hospitals still provide records on compact discs that newer computers can’t read.

 

The government has already spent about $30 billion to subsidize the adoption of digital records by hospitals and doctors. It’s unclear how much difference the Trump effort will make. No timetables were announced Tuesday.

 

The government-wide MyHealthEData initiative will be overseen by the White House Office of American Innovation, which is headed by Kushner. His stewardship of a broad portfolio of domestic and foreign policy duties has recently been called into question due to his inability to obtain a permanent security clearance.

 

Medicare administrator Seema Verma said her agency is working on a program called Blue Button 2.0, with the goal of providing beneficiaries with secure access to their claims data, shareable with their doctors. Software developers are already working on apps, using mock patient data.

 

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is also reviewing its requirements for insurers, so that government policy will encourage the companies to provide patients with access to their records.

 

“It’s our data, it’s our personal health information, and we should control it,” Verma said, making her announcement at a health care tech conference in Las Vegas.

 

The longstanding bipartisan goal of paying for health care value — not sheer volume of services — will not be achieved until patients are able to use their data to make informed decisions about their treatment, Verma added.

Independent experts said the administration has identified a key problem in the health care system.

 

“This is a good first step, but several key challenges need to be addressed,” said Ben Moscovitch, a health care technology expert with the Pew Charitable Trusts.

 

For example, the claims data that Medicare wants to put in the hands of patients sometimes lacks key clinical details, said Moscovitch. If the patient had a hip replacement, claims data may not indicate what model of artificial hip the surgeon used.

 

“Claims data alone are insufficient,” said Moscovitch. “They are incomplete, and they lack key data.”

The administration could address that by adding needed information to the claims data, he explained.

White House Wants User-friendly Electronic Health Records

The Trump administration Tuesday launched a new effort under the direction of presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner to overcome years of problems with electronic medical records and make them easier for patients to use.

 

Medicare will play a key role, eventually enabling nearly 60 million beneficiaries to securely access claims data and share that information with their doctors.

 

Electronic medical records were ushered in with great fanfare but it’s generally acknowledged they’ve fallen short. Different systems don’t communicate. Patient portals can be clunky to navigate. Some hospitals still provide records on compact discs that newer computers can’t read.

 

The government has already spent about $30 billion to subsidize the adoption of digital records by hospitals and doctors. It’s unclear how much difference the Trump effort will make. No timetables were announced Tuesday.

 

The government-wide MyHealthEData initiative will be overseen by the White House Office of American Innovation, which is headed by Kushner. His stewardship of a broad portfolio of domestic and foreign policy duties has recently been called into question due to his inability to obtain a permanent security clearance.

 

Medicare administrator Seema Verma said her agency is working on a program called Blue Button 2.0, with the goal of providing beneficiaries with secure access to their claims data, shareable with their doctors. Software developers are already working on apps, using mock patient data.

 

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is also reviewing its requirements for insurers, so that government policy will encourage the companies to provide patients with access to their records.

 

“It’s our data, it’s our personal health information, and we should control it,” Verma said, making her announcement at a health care tech conference in Las Vegas.

 

The longstanding bipartisan goal of paying for health care value — not sheer volume of services — will not be achieved until patients are able to use their data to make informed decisions about their treatment, Verma added.

Independent experts said the administration has identified a key problem in the health care system.

 

“This is a good first step, but several key challenges need to be addressed,” said Ben Moscovitch, a health care technology expert with the Pew Charitable Trusts.

 

For example, the claims data that Medicare wants to put in the hands of patients sometimes lacks key clinical details, said Moscovitch. If the patient had a hip replacement, claims data may not indicate what model of artificial hip the surgeon used.

 

“Claims data alone are insufficient,” said Moscovitch. “They are incomplete, and they lack key data.”

The administration could address that by adding needed information to the claims data, he explained.

In Reversal, Former Trump Aide Says He’ll Probably Cooperate with Mueller Probe

A former Trump campaign aide spent much of the day promising to defy a subpoena from special counsel Robert Mueller, even throwing down the challenge to “arrest me,” then backed off his defiance by saying he would probably cooperate in the end.

In an interview Monday night with The Associated Press, Sam Nunberg said he was angry over Mueller’s request to have him appear in front of a grand jury and turn over thousands of emails and other communications with other ex-officials, among them his mentor Roger Stone. But he predicted that, in the end, he’d find a way to comply.

 

“I’m going to end up cooperating with them,” he said.

 

It was a reversal from his tone throughout the day, when he lashed out at Trump and his campaign and threatened to defy Mueller in a series of interviews.

 

“Why do I have to do it?” Nunberg told CNN of the subpoena. “I’m not cooperating,” he said later as he challenged officials to charge him.

 

In the earlier interviews, Nunberg said he thought Mueller may already have incriminating evidence on Trump directly, although he would not say what that evidence might be.

 

“I think he may have done something during the election,” Nunberg told MSNBC of the president, “but I don’t know that for sure.” He later told CNN that Mueller “thinks Trump is the Manchurian candidate.” A reference drawn from a Cold War novel and film, a “Manchurian candidate” is an American brainwashed or otherwise compromised to work on behalf of an adversarial government.

 

Shortly after Nunberg lobbed the first allegation, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders rebuffed him during the White House press briefing.

 

“I definitely think he doesn’t know that for sure because he’s incorrect. As we’ve said many times before, there was no collusion with the Trump campaign,” Sanders said. “He hasn’t worked at the White House, so I certainly can’t speak to him or the lack of knowledge that he clearly has.”

 

Nunberg also said he thinks former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page, a key figure in the Russia investigation, worked with the Kremlin. “I believe that Carter Page was colluding with the Russians,” Nunberg said on CNN. “That Carter Page is a weird dude.”

 

Page called Nunberg’s accusations “laughable” in a comment to The Associated Press.

 

The Justice Department and FBI obtained a secret warrant in October 2016 to monitor Page’s communications. His activities during the presidential campaign that raised concerns included a July 2016 trip to Moscow.

 

In the interviews, Nunberg said he believes the president probably knew about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between his eldest son, top campaign staff and a team of Russians, which Trump has denied. And he blamed Trump for the investigation into Russia meddling, telling MSNBC that he was “responsible for this investigation … because he was so stupid.”

 

A spokesman for the special counsel’s office declined to comment.

 

During his afternoon tirades, Nunberg detailed his interview with Mueller’s investigators, mocking them for asking such questions as if he had heard Russian being spoken in Trump Tower. He then said he would reject a sweeping demand from Mueller for communications between him and top Trump advisers.

 

“I think it would be funny if they arrested me,” Nunberg said on MSNBC.

 

He later added on CNN: “I’m not going to the grand jury. I’m not going to spend 30 hours going over my emails. I’m not doing it.”

 

Nunberg said he’d already blown a 3 p.m. Monday deadline to turn over the requested communications. He said he’d traded numerous emails a day with Stone and former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, and said spending 80 hours digging through his inbox to find them all was unreasonable.

 

But in his call with the AP, Nunberg said he might be more willing to comply if Mueller’s team limits the scope of its request.

 

“I’m happy if the scope changes and if they send me a subpoena that doesn’t include Carter Page” he said, insisting the two had never spoken.

 

He also said he believes the only reason he’s being asked to testify before the grand jury is to provide information that would be used against Stone, a longtime Trump adviser, which he says he won’t do.

 

Nunberg is the first witness in the ongoing federal Russia investigation to openly promise to defy a subpoena. But he’s not the first to challenge Mueller: Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort filed a lawsuit in January challenging Mueller’s authority to indict him.

 

It’s unclear how much Nunberg would know about the inner workings of the Trump campaign or the White House. He never worked at the White House and was jettisoned from the Trump campaign early on, in August 2015, after racist social media postings surfaced. Trump filed a $10 million lawsuit against Nunberg in July 2016, accusing him of violating a nondisclosure agreement, but they settled the suit one month later.

 

John Dean, a White House counsel to President Richard Nixon during Watergate, tweeted Monday that Nunberg can’t flatly refuse to comply with a grand jury subpoena.

 

“This is not Mr. Nunberg’s decision, and he will be in criminal contempt for refusing to show up. He can take the Fifth Amendment. But he can’t tell the grand Jury to get lost. He’s going to lose this fight.”

 

Nunberg appeared pleased by his performance, telling the AP that he was “doing something I’ve never seen.”

 

“They don’t know what’s going on,'”he said, speculating that Mueller would not appreciate his comments and suggesting the authorities might send police to his apartment.

 

His usual cockiness, however, did appear, at times, to ebb. At the end of an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Nunberg asked whether the TV anchor thought he should instead cooperate with Mueller.

 

“If it were me, I would,” Tapper responded, telling Nunberg: “Sometimes life and special prosecutors are not fair, I guess.”

 

 

 

In Reversal, Former Trump Aide Says He’ll Probably Cooperate with Mueller Probe

A former Trump campaign aide spent much of the day promising to defy a subpoena from special counsel Robert Mueller, even throwing down the challenge to “arrest me,” then backed off his defiance by saying he would probably cooperate in the end.

In an interview Monday night with The Associated Press, Sam Nunberg said he was angry over Mueller’s request to have him appear in front of a grand jury and turn over thousands of emails and other communications with other ex-officials, among them his mentor Roger Stone. But he predicted that, in the end, he’d find a way to comply.

 

“I’m going to end up cooperating with them,” he said.

 

It was a reversal from his tone throughout the day, when he lashed out at Trump and his campaign and threatened to defy Mueller in a series of interviews.

 

“Why do I have to do it?” Nunberg told CNN of the subpoena. “I’m not cooperating,” he said later as he challenged officials to charge him.

 

In the earlier interviews, Nunberg said he thought Mueller may already have incriminating evidence on Trump directly, although he would not say what that evidence might be.

 

“I think he may have done something during the election,” Nunberg told MSNBC of the president, “but I don’t know that for sure.” He later told CNN that Mueller “thinks Trump is the Manchurian candidate.” A reference drawn from a Cold War novel and film, a “Manchurian candidate” is an American brainwashed or otherwise compromised to work on behalf of an adversarial government.

 

Shortly after Nunberg lobbed the first allegation, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders rebuffed him during the White House press briefing.

 

“I definitely think he doesn’t know that for sure because he’s incorrect. As we’ve said many times before, there was no collusion with the Trump campaign,” Sanders said. “He hasn’t worked at the White House, so I certainly can’t speak to him or the lack of knowledge that he clearly has.”

 

Nunberg also said he thinks former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page, a key figure in the Russia investigation, worked with the Kremlin. “I believe that Carter Page was colluding with the Russians,” Nunberg said on CNN. “That Carter Page is a weird dude.”

 

Page called Nunberg’s accusations “laughable” in a comment to The Associated Press.

 

The Justice Department and FBI obtained a secret warrant in October 2016 to monitor Page’s communications. His activities during the presidential campaign that raised concerns included a July 2016 trip to Moscow.

 

In the interviews, Nunberg said he believes the president probably knew about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between his eldest son, top campaign staff and a team of Russians, which Trump has denied. And he blamed Trump for the investigation into Russia meddling, telling MSNBC that he was “responsible for this investigation … because he was so stupid.”

 

A spokesman for the special counsel’s office declined to comment.

 

During his afternoon tirades, Nunberg detailed his interview with Mueller’s investigators, mocking them for asking such questions as if he had heard Russian being spoken in Trump Tower. He then said he would reject a sweeping demand from Mueller for communications between him and top Trump advisers.

 

“I think it would be funny if they arrested me,” Nunberg said on MSNBC.

 

He later added on CNN: “I’m not going to the grand jury. I’m not going to spend 30 hours going over my emails. I’m not doing it.”

 

Nunberg said he’d already blown a 3 p.m. Monday deadline to turn over the requested communications. He said he’d traded numerous emails a day with Stone and former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, and said spending 80 hours digging through his inbox to find them all was unreasonable.

 

But in his call with the AP, Nunberg said he might be more willing to comply if Mueller’s team limits the scope of its request.

 

“I’m happy if the scope changes and if they send me a subpoena that doesn’t include Carter Page” he said, insisting the two had never spoken.

 

He also said he believes the only reason he’s being asked to testify before the grand jury is to provide information that would be used against Stone, a longtime Trump adviser, which he says he won’t do.

 

Nunberg is the first witness in the ongoing federal Russia investigation to openly promise to defy a subpoena. But he’s not the first to challenge Mueller: Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort filed a lawsuit in January challenging Mueller’s authority to indict him.

 

It’s unclear how much Nunberg would know about the inner workings of the Trump campaign or the White House. He never worked at the White House and was jettisoned from the Trump campaign early on, in August 2015, after racist social media postings surfaced. Trump filed a $10 million lawsuit against Nunberg in July 2016, accusing him of violating a nondisclosure agreement, but they settled the suit one month later.

 

John Dean, a White House counsel to President Richard Nixon during Watergate, tweeted Monday that Nunberg can’t flatly refuse to comply with a grand jury subpoena.

 

“This is not Mr. Nunberg’s decision, and he will be in criminal contempt for refusing to show up. He can take the Fifth Amendment. But he can’t tell the grand Jury to get lost. He’s going to lose this fight.”

 

Nunberg appeared pleased by his performance, telling the AP that he was “doing something I’ve never seen.”

 

“They don’t know what’s going on,'”he said, speculating that Mueller would not appreciate his comments and suggesting the authorities might send police to his apartment.

 

His usual cockiness, however, did appear, at times, to ebb. At the end of an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Nunberg asked whether the TV anchor thought he should instead cooperate with Mueller.

 

“If it were me, I would,” Tapper responded, telling Nunberg: “Sometimes life and special prosecutors are not fair, I guess.”

 

 

 

Democrats Head into US Primaries With Bumper Crop of Candidates

Two years ago, just one Texas Democrat volunteered to run against Republican Rep. John Culberson in a metro Houston congressional district. This year, not even that failed Democrat’s double-digit loss could scare seven Democrats away from jumping in the race.

 

As primary season opens on Tuesday with the Texas vote, Democrats across the country are enjoying a bumper crop of candidates. It’s the latest sign of enthusiasm — like massive women’s marches and victories in state races around the country — heading into midterm elections that look increasingly hopeful for the opposition party.

 

But the abundance of volunteers also comes with a reality check: The crowded primaries are giving the party’s ideological divide a full public airing and could give party leaders less control over who carries the mantle in November.

 

Conversations with more than a dozen Democratic candidates, party officials and strategists found confidence that a glut of crowded primaries won’t damage the party’s overall prospects for a big November. Yet Democrats acknowledged the lively nomination fights could result in victories for candidates with little experience, scant scrutiny or political views that are out of step with general electorate.

 

That’s largely because it’s the party’s left flank that has provided much of the enthusiasm since President Donald Trump’s election capped nearly a decade of Democrats’ losing more than 1,000 federal and state offices.

 

“Just any blue won’t do,” says Nina Tuner, a former Ohio legislator who leads Our Revolution, the spinoff of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign. Like Sanders, the group calls for a $15 minimum wage, free public university tuition and a national health insurance plan.

 

“People are not just voting for people because they are Democrats,” Turner adds. “They want to vote for people who are fighting for their values.”

 

In Washington, though, there’s a hint of worry about what kinds of candidates can win in Republican-leaning areas Democrats may need to regain majorities on Capitol Hill and dent GOP advantages in some statehouses. Even in Democratic strongholds, where partisan control isn’t at play, the battles will help determine the direction of the party.

 

The tensions will get their next test in Texas with primaries Tuesday.

 

The party has candidates in every Texas congressional district — 36 of them — for the first time in 24 years. There are 25 contested Democratic primaries, including in each of the five districts that appear on national Democrats’ target list of 98 GOP-held seats. Democrats need to flip 24 seats to win control of the House.

 

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised eyebrows in Culberson’s district when it publicly released a memo calling one of its seven candidates, Laura Moser, a “Washington insider” who’d once declared she’d “rather have my teeth pulled out without anesthesia” than live in Paris, Texas.

 

Meredith Kelly, a party spokeswoman, explained the move saying the committee wants to “ensure that there’s a competitive Democrat on the ballot” in November, the implication being that Culberson and Republicans would use the same material to make Moser unelectable.

 

Local members of Our Revolution, Sanders’ political organization, endorsed Moser soon after the party memo surfaced.

 

For her part, Moser turned the flap into a television ad blasting Washington for meddling.

 

Meanwhile, in California, the state Democratic Committee ensured an internal fight when it snubbed Sen. Dianne Feinstein after 26 years in office and instead endorsed her more liberal Democratic rival.

Feinstein still leads in the polls and may not be seriously threatened in California’s so-called jungle primary system, which places all candidates, regardless of party, on the same first ballot, with the top two vote-getters advancing to a second round of voting. But the environment within the party still forces Feinstein to withstand a challenge from the left.

 

The same system that may help Feinstein, however, means a free-for-all among Democrats running for California congressional seats. The party is seriously targeting about a half-dozen Republican-held seats, with multiple Democrats running for each. Five signed up for retiring Republican Rep. Darrell Issa’s seat in San Diego County. Seven are taking on Rep. Mimi Walters in Orange County, while eight want to unseat Republican Dana Rohrbacher in a nearby district.

 

The same party committee that endorsed Feinstein’s Democratic challenger opted to stay out of the crowded House races.

 

Tom Perriello, who ran for Virginia governor in 2017 with backing from party liberals, says intense primaries, crowded or otherwise, don’t have to spell doom the winner. “I think people try to impose the 2016 Bernie-Hillary divide” on every matchup, he said, referring to the presidential nominating fight between Hillary Clinton and Sanders.

 

It’s rarely that simple. Perriello lost the Democratic nomination to Ralph Northam, viewed as the more moderate choice.

 

“We agreed on 90 percent of things,” Perriello says, remembering “a respectful primary based on ideas.” Afterward, Perriello campaigned for Northam and Virginia legislative hopefuls. Northam won by 9 percentage points, while a slate of liberal nominees changed the direction of the Virginia Assembly.

 

Periello says the Virginia results show there’s room in the party — even in the same primary — for a range of philosophies and styles.

 

In the Texas 7th, one of Moser’s opponents agrees.

 

“Even though it’s a crowded Democratic primary field, I think the upside of that is a lot of people working to turn out the vote and telling people this is a district where people can win,” says Lizzie Pannill Fletcher. “We all agree that our opponent is John Culberson.”

Democrats Head into US Primaries With Bumper Crop of Candidates

Two years ago, just one Texas Democrat volunteered to run against Republican Rep. John Culberson in a metro Houston congressional district. This year, not even that failed Democrat’s double-digit loss could scare seven Democrats away from jumping in the race.

 

As primary season opens on Tuesday with the Texas vote, Democrats across the country are enjoying a bumper crop of candidates. It’s the latest sign of enthusiasm — like massive women’s marches and victories in state races around the country — heading into midterm elections that look increasingly hopeful for the opposition party.

 

But the abundance of volunteers also comes with a reality check: The crowded primaries are giving the party’s ideological divide a full public airing and could give party leaders less control over who carries the mantle in November.

 

Conversations with more than a dozen Democratic candidates, party officials and strategists found confidence that a glut of crowded primaries won’t damage the party’s overall prospects for a big November. Yet Democrats acknowledged the lively nomination fights could result in victories for candidates with little experience, scant scrutiny or political views that are out of step with general electorate.

 

That’s largely because it’s the party’s left flank that has provided much of the enthusiasm since President Donald Trump’s election capped nearly a decade of Democrats’ losing more than 1,000 federal and state offices.

 

“Just any blue won’t do,” says Nina Tuner, a former Ohio legislator who leads Our Revolution, the spinoff of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign. Like Sanders, the group calls for a $15 minimum wage, free public university tuition and a national health insurance plan.

 

“People are not just voting for people because they are Democrats,” Turner adds. “They want to vote for people who are fighting for their values.”

 

In Washington, though, there’s a hint of worry about what kinds of candidates can win in Republican-leaning areas Democrats may need to regain majorities on Capitol Hill and dent GOP advantages in some statehouses. Even in Democratic strongholds, where partisan control isn’t at play, the battles will help determine the direction of the party.

 

The tensions will get their next test in Texas with primaries Tuesday.

 

The party has candidates in every Texas congressional district — 36 of them — for the first time in 24 years. There are 25 contested Democratic primaries, including in each of the five districts that appear on national Democrats’ target list of 98 GOP-held seats. Democrats need to flip 24 seats to win control of the House.

 

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised eyebrows in Culberson’s district when it publicly released a memo calling one of its seven candidates, Laura Moser, a “Washington insider” who’d once declared she’d “rather have my teeth pulled out without anesthesia” than live in Paris, Texas.

 

Meredith Kelly, a party spokeswoman, explained the move saying the committee wants to “ensure that there’s a competitive Democrat on the ballot” in November, the implication being that Culberson and Republicans would use the same material to make Moser unelectable.

 

Local members of Our Revolution, Sanders’ political organization, endorsed Moser soon after the party memo surfaced.

 

For her part, Moser turned the flap into a television ad blasting Washington for meddling.

 

Meanwhile, in California, the state Democratic Committee ensured an internal fight when it snubbed Sen. Dianne Feinstein after 26 years in office and instead endorsed her more liberal Democratic rival.

Feinstein still leads in the polls and may not be seriously threatened in California’s so-called jungle primary system, which places all candidates, regardless of party, on the same first ballot, with the top two vote-getters advancing to a second round of voting. But the environment within the party still forces Feinstein to withstand a challenge from the left.

 

The same system that may help Feinstein, however, means a free-for-all among Democrats running for California congressional seats. The party is seriously targeting about a half-dozen Republican-held seats, with multiple Democrats running for each. Five signed up for retiring Republican Rep. Darrell Issa’s seat in San Diego County. Seven are taking on Rep. Mimi Walters in Orange County, while eight want to unseat Republican Dana Rohrbacher in a nearby district.

 

The same party committee that endorsed Feinstein’s Democratic challenger opted to stay out of the crowded House races.

 

Tom Perriello, who ran for Virginia governor in 2017 with backing from party liberals, says intense primaries, crowded or otherwise, don’t have to spell doom the winner. “I think people try to impose the 2016 Bernie-Hillary divide” on every matchup, he said, referring to the presidential nominating fight between Hillary Clinton and Sanders.

 

It’s rarely that simple. Perriello lost the Democratic nomination to Ralph Northam, viewed as the more moderate choice.

 

“We agreed on 90 percent of things,” Perriello says, remembering “a respectful primary based on ideas.” Afterward, Perriello campaigned for Northam and Virginia legislative hopefuls. Northam won by 9 percentage points, while a slate of liberal nominees changed the direction of the Virginia Assembly.

 

Periello says the Virginia results show there’s room in the party — even in the same primary — for a range of philosophies and styles.

 

In the Texas 7th, one of Moser’s opponents agrees.

 

“Even though it’s a crowded Democratic primary field, I think the upside of that is a lot of people working to turn out the vote and telling people this is a district where people can win,” says Lizzie Pannill Fletcher. “We all agree that our opponent is John Culberson.”

Washington Becomes First State to Approve Net-neutrality Rules

Washington became the first state Monday to set up its own net-neutrality requirements after U.S. regulators repealed Obama-era rules that banned internet providers from blocking content or impairing traffic.

“We know that when D.C. fails to act, Washington state has to do so,” Gov. Jay Inslee said before signing the measure that lawmakers passed with bipartisan support. “We know how important this is.”

The Federal Communications Commission voted in December to gut U.S. rules that meant to prevent broadband companies such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon from exercising more control over what people watch and see on the internet.

Because the FCC prohibited state laws from contradicting its decision, opponents of the Washington law have said it would lead to lawsuits.

Inslee said he was confident of its legality, saying “the states have a full right to protect their citizens.”

Oregon law has not been signed 

The new law also requires internet providers to disclose information about their management practices, performance and commercial terms. Violations would be enforceable under the state’s Consumer Protection Act. 

While several states introduced similar measures this year seeking to protect net neutrality, only Oregon and Washington passed bills. But Oregon’s measure would’t put any new requirements on internet providers. 

It would stop state agencies from buying internet service from any company that blocks or prioritizes specific content or apps, starting in 2019. It’s unclear when Oregon’s measure would be signed into law.

Washington state was among more than 20 states and the District of Columbia that sued in January to try and block the FCC’s action. There are also efforts by Democrats to undo the move in Congress. 

Governors in five states — Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, Montana and Vermont — have signed executive orders related to net-neutrality issues, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Expect new rules by mid-June 

Big telecom companies have said net neutrality rules could undermine investment in broadband and introduce uncertainty about what are acceptable business practices. Net-neutrality advocates say the FCC decision would harm innovation and make it harder for the government to crack down on internet providers who act against consumer interests.

The FCC’s new rules are not expected to go into effect until later this spring. Washington’s law will take effect mid-June.

Messages left with the Broadband Communications Association of Washington, which opposed the bill, were not immediately returned.

 

 

            

Washington Becomes First State to Approve Net-neutrality Rules

Washington became the first state Monday to set up its own net-neutrality requirements after U.S. regulators repealed Obama-era rules that banned internet providers from blocking content or impairing traffic.

“We know that when D.C. fails to act, Washington state has to do so,” Gov. Jay Inslee said before signing the measure that lawmakers passed with bipartisan support. “We know how important this is.”

The Federal Communications Commission voted in December to gut U.S. rules that meant to prevent broadband companies such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon from exercising more control over what people watch and see on the internet.

Because the FCC prohibited state laws from contradicting its decision, opponents of the Washington law have said it would lead to lawsuits.

Inslee said he was confident of its legality, saying “the states have a full right to protect their citizens.”

Oregon law has not been signed 

The new law also requires internet providers to disclose information about their management practices, performance and commercial terms. Violations would be enforceable under the state’s Consumer Protection Act. 

While several states introduced similar measures this year seeking to protect net neutrality, only Oregon and Washington passed bills. But Oregon’s measure would’t put any new requirements on internet providers. 

It would stop state agencies from buying internet service from any company that blocks or prioritizes specific content or apps, starting in 2019. It’s unclear when Oregon’s measure would be signed into law.

Washington state was among more than 20 states and the District of Columbia that sued in January to try and block the FCC’s action. There are also efforts by Democrats to undo the move in Congress. 

Governors in five states — Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, Montana and Vermont — have signed executive orders related to net-neutrality issues, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Expect new rules by mid-June 

Big telecom companies have said net neutrality rules could undermine investment in broadband and introduce uncertainty about what are acceptable business practices. Net-neutrality advocates say the FCC decision would harm innovation and make it harder for the government to crack down on internet providers who act against consumer interests.

The FCC’s new rules are not expected to go into effect until later this spring. Washington’s law will take effect mid-June.

Messages left with the Broadband Communications Association of Washington, which opposed the bill, were not immediately returned.

 

 

            

Elizabeth Warren Seeks to Neutralize ‘Pocahontas’ Barbs

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is hoping to defuse an issue that has dogged her for years, her claims of Native American heritage, ahead of a possible run for president in 2020.

Last month, Warren addressed the National Congress of American Indians, trying to cast her family’s story in the larger context of challenges facing native peoples. The prominent Democrat has also met with tribal leaders, signed on to legislation supported by Native American activists, and called on Republican President Donald Trump to nominate a director for the Indian Health Service.

The push is in part a rebuttal to Trump, who has repeatedly referred to Warren as “Pocahontas” to try to discredit a potential rival in 2020 by calling into question her claims of heritage.

“Every time someone brings up my family’s story, I’m going to use it to lift up the story of your families and your communities,” Warren told those gathered for the Washington event.

The story is largely consistent with what the Oklahoma native has said for years, including during a 2012 interview with The Associated Press, when she said she and her brothers were told her paternal grandparents didn’t want her father to marry her mother because she “was part Cherokee and part Delaware.”

In the speech, Warren, who doesn’t claim citizenship in a tribe, said “my mother’s family was part Native American. And my daddy’s parents were bitterly opposed to their relationship. So, in 1932, when Mother was 19 and Daddy had just turned 20, they eloped.”

Many Native Americans have welcomed Warren’s advocacy.

Cheryl Andrews-Maltais, chairwoman of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), introduced Warren at the gathering as “a formidable force and an Indian country ally.”

“She truly understands Indian country and what sovereignty really means,” Andrews-Maltais said.

Cedric Cromwell is tribal council chairman for the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, which has tried for years to persuade federal officials that it qualifies to have more than 300 acres of land in Massachusetts taken into trust.

“We especially appreciate her remarks about how this government owes its native citizens ‘a fighting chance to build stronger communities and a brighter future — starting with a more prosperous economic future on tribal lands,’” Cromwell said.

Not all Native American advocates embrace Warren’s story.

Rebecca Nagle, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation living in Oklahoma, has said Warren needs to apologize for her “false claims,” saying there’s no evidence the former Harvard Law School faculty member has Native American heritage.

“How can a former law professor at the most prestigious university in the country examine the mountain of evidence about her own family and not come to the only logical conclusion?” Nagle wrote in an opinion piece in The Boston Globe following Warren’s speech.

Warren’s public embrace of her family story could carry political risks — but not necessarily from Trump. Rob Gray, a Republican political analyst, said the criticism could hurt Warren more if it came from a rival Democrat.

“Her Indian heritage claims have the potential to be a wildfire, but it will take one of her primary opponents raising it to strike the match,” Gray said. “It comes down to authenticity and whether she’s believable and trustworthy.”

Warren has been discussed as a possible 2020 presidential candidate but has said she is focused on winning re-election in November.

But Warren is also maintaining a national profile, butting heads with Trump on issues from health care to immigration, while stockpiling more than $14 million in her campaign account and donating hundreds of thousands to Democratic state committees and candidates through her PAC for a Level Playing Field.

Warren’s playbook has precedent. Think Mitt Romney’s 2007 speech to quell concerns about his Mormon faith or Obama’s 2008 address about race.

For her critics, Warren’s speech did little to quell suspicions she used claims of Native American heritage to give herself a leg up early in her academic career.

“Only Elizabeth Warren can answer why she assumed a Native American identity as she was climbing the career ladder in academia,” said Beth Lindstrom, a Republican hoping to unseat Warren.

Warren has acknowledged telling Harvard and her previous employer, the University of Pennsylvania, of her Native American heritage, but only after she had been hired.

Harvard Law School professor Charles Fried, who helped recruit Warren, has called any suggestion she enjoyed an affirmative-action benefit “nonsense.”

Jeffrey Berry, a professor of American politics and political behavior at Tufts University, said no speech will make the narrative go away, in part because conservative groups and Trump enjoy taunting her.

In the end, he said, voters are more interested in fundamentals like the economy.

“Side issues may be fun to talk about for ideologues, but by and large the public isn’t paying attention,” he said.

Gabby Archilla, a 26-year-old law student in Boston, said taking a DNA test might help Warren, but probably wouldn’t silence her critics.

“It could maybe put that issue to rest,” Archilla said, “but I think a lot of people just have issues with Elizabeth Warren in general.”

Elizabeth Warren Seeks to Neutralize ‘Pocahontas’ Barbs

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is hoping to defuse an issue that has dogged her for years, her claims of Native American heritage, ahead of a possible run for president in 2020.

Last month, Warren addressed the National Congress of American Indians, trying to cast her family’s story in the larger context of challenges facing native peoples. The prominent Democrat has also met with tribal leaders, signed on to legislation supported by Native American activists, and called on Republican President Donald Trump to nominate a director for the Indian Health Service.

The push is in part a rebuttal to Trump, who has repeatedly referred to Warren as “Pocahontas” to try to discredit a potential rival in 2020 by calling into question her claims of heritage.

“Every time someone brings up my family’s story, I’m going to use it to lift up the story of your families and your communities,” Warren told those gathered for the Washington event.

The story is largely consistent with what the Oklahoma native has said for years, including during a 2012 interview with The Associated Press, when she said she and her brothers were told her paternal grandparents didn’t want her father to marry her mother because she “was part Cherokee and part Delaware.”

In the speech, Warren, who doesn’t claim citizenship in a tribe, said “my mother’s family was part Native American. And my daddy’s parents were bitterly opposed to their relationship. So, in 1932, when Mother was 19 and Daddy had just turned 20, they eloped.”

Many Native Americans have welcomed Warren’s advocacy.

Cheryl Andrews-Maltais, chairwoman of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), introduced Warren at the gathering as “a formidable force and an Indian country ally.”

“She truly understands Indian country and what sovereignty really means,” Andrews-Maltais said.

Cedric Cromwell is tribal council chairman for the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, which has tried for years to persuade federal officials that it qualifies to have more than 300 acres of land in Massachusetts taken into trust.

“We especially appreciate her remarks about how this government owes its native citizens ‘a fighting chance to build stronger communities and a brighter future — starting with a more prosperous economic future on tribal lands,’” Cromwell said.

Not all Native American advocates embrace Warren’s story.

Rebecca Nagle, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation living in Oklahoma, has said Warren needs to apologize for her “false claims,” saying there’s no evidence the former Harvard Law School faculty member has Native American heritage.

“How can a former law professor at the most prestigious university in the country examine the mountain of evidence about her own family and not come to the only logical conclusion?” Nagle wrote in an opinion piece in The Boston Globe following Warren’s speech.

Warren’s public embrace of her family story could carry political risks — but not necessarily from Trump. Rob Gray, a Republican political analyst, said the criticism could hurt Warren more if it came from a rival Democrat.

“Her Indian heritage claims have the potential to be a wildfire, but it will take one of her primary opponents raising it to strike the match,” Gray said. “It comes down to authenticity and whether she’s believable and trustworthy.”

Warren has been discussed as a possible 2020 presidential candidate but has said she is focused on winning re-election in November.

But Warren is also maintaining a national profile, butting heads with Trump on issues from health care to immigration, while stockpiling more than $14 million in her campaign account and donating hundreds of thousands to Democratic state committees and candidates through her PAC for a Level Playing Field.

Warren’s playbook has precedent. Think Mitt Romney’s 2007 speech to quell concerns about his Mormon faith or Obama’s 2008 address about race.

For her critics, Warren’s speech did little to quell suspicions she used claims of Native American heritage to give herself a leg up early in her academic career.

“Only Elizabeth Warren can answer why she assumed a Native American identity as she was climbing the career ladder in academia,” said Beth Lindstrom, a Republican hoping to unseat Warren.

Warren has acknowledged telling Harvard and her previous employer, the University of Pennsylvania, of her Native American heritage, but only after she had been hired.

Harvard Law School professor Charles Fried, who helped recruit Warren, has called any suggestion she enjoyed an affirmative-action benefit “nonsense.”

Jeffrey Berry, a professor of American politics and political behavior at Tufts University, said no speech will make the narrative go away, in part because conservative groups and Trump enjoy taunting her.

In the end, he said, voters are more interested in fundamentals like the economy.

“Side issues may be fun to talk about for ideologues, but by and large the public isn’t paying attention,” he said.

Gabby Archilla, a 26-year-old law student in Boston, said taking a DNA test might help Warren, but probably wouldn’t silence her critics.

“It could maybe put that issue to rest,” Archilla said, “but I think a lot of people just have issues with Elizabeth Warren in general.”

Ohio Race Shows How NRA Flexes Its Political Muscle

The National Rifle Association pounced when former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat running for the U.S. Senate, declared at an AFL-CIO event in Cleveland that the death of conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia “happened at a good time.”

Scalia remains a hero to many gun owners and the NRA alerted its members to Strickland’s disrespect. It was part of a barrage by the group to portray its one-time ally as an anti-gun politician interested only in money and power.

“That was painful,” said Strickland, recalling the NRA’s effort to tear down the public trust he’d spent years building. “They were out to get me.”

The anti-Strickland campaign in the battleground state of Ohio two years ago is a window into how the influential gun rights group wields its political muscle. That clout will be on display heading into the 2018 midterm elections as gun control advocates demand swift action following the Feb. 14 shooting at a high school in Florida.

The NRA’s deep pockets and bare-knuckled approach leave the impression it effectively purchases loyalty from lawmakers. But the NRA actually donates small amounts of money to candidates when compared to the large sums it spends on potent get-out-the-vote operations and ad campaigns.

NRA-funded advertisements that air on cable networks and travel across the internet during the months and weeks before an election are carefully crafted to warn members of candidates that, if elected, will come for their guns. The NRA’s political action committee, the Political Victory Fund, also grades elected officials on an A to F scale, a shorthand voting guide that steers members to pro-gun candidates.

The Political Victory Fund and the NRA’s lobbying arm spent about $52.5 million overall during the 2016 elections on “independent expenditures,” according to political money website OpenSecrets.org. There’s no limit on this type of campaign spending and it includes money for television and online advertising, mailers and other forms of communication designed to support or oppose a particular candidate.

Nearly 70 percent of the NRA’s 2016 budget was used to target Democrats, with Hillary Clinton topping the list of candidates the group sought to defeat. The rest went to backing Donald Trump and congressional Republicans who’ve consistently shot down attempts by Democrats to approve gun control measures in the wake of mass shootings in the United States.

But pressure for at least modest firearms restrictions is heavy after 17 people were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which in turn raises the stakes for the NRA. Trump stunned his GOP allies last week when he sided with Democrats by urging quick and substantial changes to the nation’s gun laws. Yet later, after meeting with Trump, NRA leaders declared the president and his administration “don’t want gun control.” The mixed messages brought action on gun legislation in Congress to a halt.

The figures compiled by Open Secrets show that in Ohio the NRA spent nearly $1.6 million to oppose Strickland in the 2016 Senate race, while devoting about half as much to support the Republican incumbent, Sen. Rob Portman, who defeated Strickland by a wide margin.

The NRA donated $9,900 directly to Portman’s campaign, the same amount the group gave to 12 other Republican lawmakers. Unlike independent expenditures, donations from individuals and PACs are capped for each election cycle. Portman said the NRA’s money represented just a fraction of the more than $25 million his campaign raised in 2016 and he denied the gun group acquired any leverage through the donations.

“I never make a decision based on a contribution,” Portman said. “That’s just not how you operate.”

The NRA’s Political Victory Fund ran its first ad against Strickland in July when the Ohio Senate race was still competitive, and the 30-second spot illustrates the gun group’s tactics. Strickland is portrayed as a traitor for turning his back on gun rights.

“Ted Strickland. Out for power. Out for money. Out . . . for himself,” the narrator said as suspenseful music plays in the background.

Strickland said the NRA succeeded in shifting the impression many Ohioans had of him. Suddenly it didn’t matter as much that he was a steelworker’s son who’d grown up on a dirt road in the state’s Appalachia region. Or that he was raised among guns and just a few years before the Senate race had earned the NRA’s coveted A+ rating.

All that mattered to the NRA was that Strickland, troubled by a spate of mass shootings, had changed his mind. After stepping down as governor, he joined a liberal advocacy group and backed comprehensive background checks for gun buyers and a ban on assault-style rifles.

David Niven, a professor of American politics at the University of Cincinnati, said the NRA almost certainly wanted to punish Strickland for being an “apostate” on top of ensuring the gun-friendly GOP maintained its majority in the Senate. Political action committees and other outside groups tend to sweep in during the last stages of an election, but Niven said the NRA got an early start in Ohio.

“I don’t think there’s any question that they intended their participation in this race to send a message,” Niven said. “There was something intolerable to them about having an ally turn into a skeptic.”

Strickland served in Congress for more than a decade until 2006, when he successfully ran for governor with the NRA’s backing. He got the group’s support a second time when he ran for re-election in 2010, but lost to Republican John Kasich as the governor’s race centered on economic woes gripping the state.

The NRA’s endorsement commended Strickland as “an unwavering defender of our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms” and noted his opposition to a 2004 ban on certain semi-automatic weapons while in Congress and his signature on an update of concealed carry laws.

But that opinion changed drastically after Strickland in 2014 became president of the left-leaning Center for American Progress Action, which the NRA called a “radical anti-gun group” for proposing gun control measures.

When Strickland sought to unseat Portman two years later, the NRA “reframed the race in ways that were detrimental to me,” he said. Trump won Ohio by about 447,000 votes. Scioto, Strickland’s home county on the border with Kentucky, backed Trump and Portman overwhelmingly.

The NRA’s opposition had an effect, Strickland said, but he didn’t believe it was the deciding factor in his loss to Portman.

Portman raised $25 million, more than twice as much as Strickland did, and won over labor unions that had once been firmly in Strickland’s corner. As Strickland failed to gain traction with voters, national Democrats pulled millions of dollars in planned pro-Strickland ads out of the state more than a month before the election.

The NRA wasn’t the only one funneling money into Ohio. Outside groups, including those tied to the billionaire Koch brothers, spent upward of $30 million on anti-Strickland ads focused on Ohio’s economy during his governorship, which coincided with the national recession.

The NRA struck out in Nevada and New Hampshire, where the Democratic candidates won despite the gun group’s opposition. In Nevada, a battleground state like Ohio, the NRA plowed $2.4 million into the race to stop Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto. She narrowly won.

“They spent millions of dollars to try to beat me and didn’t,” said Masto, a former federal prosecutor who served for eight years as Nevada’s attorney general before her Senate run. “It was ridiculous.”

Ohio Race Shows How NRA Flexes Its Political Muscle

The National Rifle Association pounced when former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat running for the U.S. Senate, declared at an AFL-CIO event in Cleveland that the death of conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia “happened at a good time.”

Scalia remains a hero to many gun owners and the NRA alerted its members to Strickland’s disrespect. It was part of a barrage by the group to portray its one-time ally as an anti-gun politician interested only in money and power.

“That was painful,” said Strickland, recalling the NRA’s effort to tear down the public trust he’d spent years building. “They were out to get me.”

The anti-Strickland campaign in the battleground state of Ohio two years ago is a window into how the influential gun rights group wields its political muscle. That clout will be on display heading into the 2018 midterm elections as gun control advocates demand swift action following the Feb. 14 shooting at a high school in Florida.

The NRA’s deep pockets and bare-knuckled approach leave the impression it effectively purchases loyalty from lawmakers. But the NRA actually donates small amounts of money to candidates when compared to the large sums it spends on potent get-out-the-vote operations and ad campaigns.

NRA-funded advertisements that air on cable networks and travel across the internet during the months and weeks before an election are carefully crafted to warn members of candidates that, if elected, will come for their guns. The NRA’s political action committee, the Political Victory Fund, also grades elected officials on an A to F scale, a shorthand voting guide that steers members to pro-gun candidates.

The Political Victory Fund and the NRA’s lobbying arm spent about $52.5 million overall during the 2016 elections on “independent expenditures,” according to political money website OpenSecrets.org. There’s no limit on this type of campaign spending and it includes money for television and online advertising, mailers and other forms of communication designed to support or oppose a particular candidate.

Nearly 70 percent of the NRA’s 2016 budget was used to target Democrats, with Hillary Clinton topping the list of candidates the group sought to defeat. The rest went to backing Donald Trump and congressional Republicans who’ve consistently shot down attempts by Democrats to approve gun control measures in the wake of mass shootings in the United States.

But pressure for at least modest firearms restrictions is heavy after 17 people were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which in turn raises the stakes for the NRA. Trump stunned his GOP allies last week when he sided with Democrats by urging quick and substantial changes to the nation’s gun laws. Yet later, after meeting with Trump, NRA leaders declared the president and his administration “don’t want gun control.” The mixed messages brought action on gun legislation in Congress to a halt.

The figures compiled by Open Secrets show that in Ohio the NRA spent nearly $1.6 million to oppose Strickland in the 2016 Senate race, while devoting about half as much to support the Republican incumbent, Sen. Rob Portman, who defeated Strickland by a wide margin.

The NRA donated $9,900 directly to Portman’s campaign, the same amount the group gave to 12 other Republican lawmakers. Unlike independent expenditures, donations from individuals and PACs are capped for each election cycle. Portman said the NRA’s money represented just a fraction of the more than $25 million his campaign raised in 2016 and he denied the gun group acquired any leverage through the donations.

“I never make a decision based on a contribution,” Portman said. “That’s just not how you operate.”

The NRA’s Political Victory Fund ran its first ad against Strickland in July when the Ohio Senate race was still competitive, and the 30-second spot illustrates the gun group’s tactics. Strickland is portrayed as a traitor for turning his back on gun rights.

“Ted Strickland. Out for power. Out for money. Out . . . for himself,” the narrator said as suspenseful music plays in the background.

Strickland said the NRA succeeded in shifting the impression many Ohioans had of him. Suddenly it didn’t matter as much that he was a steelworker’s son who’d grown up on a dirt road in the state’s Appalachia region. Or that he was raised among guns and just a few years before the Senate race had earned the NRA’s coveted A+ rating.

All that mattered to the NRA was that Strickland, troubled by a spate of mass shootings, had changed his mind. After stepping down as governor, he joined a liberal advocacy group and backed comprehensive background checks for gun buyers and a ban on assault-style rifles.

David Niven, a professor of American politics at the University of Cincinnati, said the NRA almost certainly wanted to punish Strickland for being an “apostate” on top of ensuring the gun-friendly GOP maintained its majority in the Senate. Political action committees and other outside groups tend to sweep in during the last stages of an election, but Niven said the NRA got an early start in Ohio.

“I don’t think there’s any question that they intended their participation in this race to send a message,” Niven said. “There was something intolerable to them about having an ally turn into a skeptic.”

Strickland served in Congress for more than a decade until 2006, when he successfully ran for governor with the NRA’s backing. He got the group’s support a second time when he ran for re-election in 2010, but lost to Republican John Kasich as the governor’s race centered on economic woes gripping the state.

The NRA’s endorsement commended Strickland as “an unwavering defender of our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms” and noted his opposition to a 2004 ban on certain semi-automatic weapons while in Congress and his signature on an update of concealed carry laws.

But that opinion changed drastically after Strickland in 2014 became president of the left-leaning Center for American Progress Action, which the NRA called a “radical anti-gun group” for proposing gun control measures.

When Strickland sought to unseat Portman two years later, the NRA “reframed the race in ways that were detrimental to me,” he said. Trump won Ohio by about 447,000 votes. Scioto, Strickland’s home county on the border with Kentucky, backed Trump and Portman overwhelmingly.

The NRA’s opposition had an effect, Strickland said, but he didn’t believe it was the deciding factor in his loss to Portman.

Portman raised $25 million, more than twice as much as Strickland did, and won over labor unions that had once been firmly in Strickland’s corner. As Strickland failed to gain traction with voters, national Democrats pulled millions of dollars in planned pro-Strickland ads out of the state more than a month before the election.

The NRA wasn’t the only one funneling money into Ohio. Outside groups, including those tied to the billionaire Koch brothers, spent upward of $30 million on anti-Strickland ads focused on Ohio’s economy during his governorship, which coincided with the national recession.

The NRA struck out in Nevada and New Hampshire, where the Democratic candidates won despite the gun group’s opposition. In Nevada, a battleground state like Ohio, the NRA plowed $2.4 million into the race to stop Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto. She narrowly won.

“They spent millions of dollars to try to beat me and didn’t,” said Masto, a former federal prosecutor who served for eight years as Nevada’s attorney general before her Senate run. “It was ridiculous.”

Roles Reduced, Kushner and Ivanka Trump’s Fate Uncertain

They spent their first year in Washington as an untouchable White House power couple, commanding expansive portfolios, outlasting rivals and enjoying unmatched access to the president. But Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have undergone a swift and stunning reckoning of late, their powers restricted, their enemies emboldened and their future in the West Wing uncertain.

Kushner, long the second-most powerful man in the West Wing, is under siege. President Donald Trump’s son-in-law has lost influential White House allies. He remains under the shadow of the Russia probe and has seen his business dealings come under renewed scrutiny. He has been stripped of his top security clearance, raising questions how he can successfully advance his ambitious agenda — including achieving Mideast peace, a goal that has eluded presidents for generations.

Kushner’s most powerful patron, the president himself, has wavered recently on whether his daughter and son-in-law belong in the White House anymore.

A frustrated Trump has griped about the wave of bad headlines generated by probes into Kushner’s business dealings and the status of his security clearance, according to two people familiar with the president’s thinking but not authorized to publicly discuss private conversations. The president also has wondered aloud if the couple would be better off returning home to New York.

At the same time, though, Trump has said he believes many of the attacks against Kushner are unfair and has lamented that the couple is going through such a turbulent time, according to the two people.

“I think he’s been treated very unfairly,” Trump said late last month. “He’s a high-quality person.”

Kushner’s woes mushroomed in the past month, when accusations of spousal abuse emerged against White House staff secretary Rob Porter. Initially, the resulting firestorm — including questions about how Porter had interim clearance for top-secret information despite red flags in his background — threatened to engulf Chief of Staff John Kelly, the retired Marine hired to bring order to Trump’s chaotic West Wing.

Kelly seemed to stabilize his own standing, in part by ordering a reform of the White House security clearance process. And among senior aides, that change fell the hardest on Kushner, who had been working with interim access to top-secret information. And he was doing that as investigators worked through his family’s complicated real estate dealings and as special counsel Robert Mueller probes Russian connections to the Trump team.

A week ago, Kushner’s security clearance level was downgraded, leaving White House aides to wonder just how many indignities Kushner and Ivanka Trump are willing to suffer. Even if recent events and revelations don’t trigger a departure, they have demonstrated that the West Wing clout of “Javanka,” as the couple is often referred to, is a far cry from what it once was.

Since taking office last year, Kelly has prioritized creating formal lines of authority and decision-making. Kushner resisted efforts to formalize his role — which early in the administration made him something of a shadow secretary of state — and he has grown frustrated with the chief of staff’s attempts to restrict the couple’s access to the president. The couple perceives Kelly’s crackdown on security clearances as a direct shot at them, according to White House aides and outside advisers.

Kelly, in turn, has been angered by what he views as the couple’s freelancing. He blames them for changing Trump’s mind at the last minute and questions what exactly they do all day, according to one White House official and an outside ally. Kushner prevailed in previous power struggles within the White House, including one against former chief strategist Steve Bannon, but allies of the president on the outside openly cheered the power couple’s weakened position.

“Only a son-in-law could withstand this sort of exposure and not be fired,” said Jennifer Palmieri, former communications director for President Barack Obama. “Kushner’s vulnerable and in an accelerated fall from grace. Even though his departure would leave Trump even more isolated, a decision could be made that it’s just not worth it for him to stay.”

Those close to the couple insist the duo has no plans to leave Washington. But a soft landing spot has emerged if they choose to take it.

At a senior staff meeting Wednesday, Kushner spoke about the 2020 campaign at Kelly’s behest, talking up the selection of Brad Parscale to run the campaign, according to an administration official who was not authorized to speak publicly about internal discussions. Kushner has a close relationship with Parscale, whom he recruited to work on the 2016 campaign.

News of Parscale’s appointment was first reported in the Drudge Report, a favored outlet of Kushner’s, in a move that was seen by some in the West Wing as an attempted reminder of Kushner’s clout just hours before his humbling security clearance downgrade became public.

One veteran of the 2016 campaign suggested that there had always been a tentative plan for Kushner to resume a role on the re-election campaign but not this early in the president’s first term.

In a White House populated with attention-seekers, Kushner has been an ascetic, discreet figure. Almost always standing at the periphery in dark business suits, Kushner is rarely heard in public, his impact felt but not seen. His diplomatic trips abroad have either been shrouded in secrecy or conducted with minimal media coverage.

“I am not a person who has sought the spotlight. First in my business and now in public service, I have worked on achieving goals, and have left it to others to work on media and public perception,” Kushner told congressional investigators in a prepared statement last July.

But it is not immediately obvious what he’s achieved. There has been little progress on Mideast peace and relations with Mexico, another top Kushner priority, remain contentious over Trump’s proposed border wall. Kushner’s much ballyhooed project to reinvent the federal government has gained little traction. And questions persist about his family business’s global hunt for cash just a year before a $1.2 billion mortgage on a Manhattan skyscraper must be paid off by the company.

The Kushner Co. says it is in solid financial shape, but skeptics note that the company has been scrambling to raise funds from investors in nations with which Kushner has had government dealings and questions about potential Kushner conflicts of interest have scuttled some efforts.

Ivanka Trump, meanwhile, promotes the administration’s tax overhaul, including a family-friendly tax credit she championed. She continues to talk with lawmakers about paid family leave and recently led the U.S. delegation to the closing ceremonies at the Winter Olympics in South Korea.

But her role has come with unique challenges and calculations. Trump has portrayed herself as an advocate for women and families within the administration, which at times puts her in an awkward position given the allegations against her father and some of his public comments about women.

Trump recently said in an NBC interview that she believes her father’s denials of sexual misconduct, but argued that questions to her on the topic were “pretty inappropriate” — an answer that prompted eyerolls in some quarters of the West Wing yet again.

Roles Reduced, Kushner and Ivanka Trump’s Fate Uncertain

They spent their first year in Washington as an untouchable White House power couple, commanding expansive portfolios, outlasting rivals and enjoying unmatched access to the president. But Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have undergone a swift and stunning reckoning of late, their powers restricted, their enemies emboldened and their future in the West Wing uncertain.

Kushner, long the second-most powerful man in the West Wing, is under siege. President Donald Trump’s son-in-law has lost influential White House allies. He remains under the shadow of the Russia probe and has seen his business dealings come under renewed scrutiny. He has been stripped of his top security clearance, raising questions how he can successfully advance his ambitious agenda — including achieving Mideast peace, a goal that has eluded presidents for generations.

Kushner’s most powerful patron, the president himself, has wavered recently on whether his daughter and son-in-law belong in the White House anymore.

A frustrated Trump has griped about the wave of bad headlines generated by probes into Kushner’s business dealings and the status of his security clearance, according to two people familiar with the president’s thinking but not authorized to publicly discuss private conversations. The president also has wondered aloud if the couple would be better off returning home to New York.

At the same time, though, Trump has said he believes many of the attacks against Kushner are unfair and has lamented that the couple is going through such a turbulent time, according to the two people.

“I think he’s been treated very unfairly,” Trump said late last month. “He’s a high-quality person.”

Kushner’s woes mushroomed in the past month, when accusations of spousal abuse emerged against White House staff secretary Rob Porter. Initially, the resulting firestorm — including questions about how Porter had interim clearance for top-secret information despite red flags in his background — threatened to engulf Chief of Staff John Kelly, the retired Marine hired to bring order to Trump’s chaotic West Wing.

Kelly seemed to stabilize his own standing, in part by ordering a reform of the White House security clearance process. And among senior aides, that change fell the hardest on Kushner, who had been working with interim access to top-secret information. And he was doing that as investigators worked through his family’s complicated real estate dealings and as special counsel Robert Mueller probes Russian connections to the Trump team.

A week ago, Kushner’s security clearance level was downgraded, leaving White House aides to wonder just how many indignities Kushner and Ivanka Trump are willing to suffer. Even if recent events and revelations don’t trigger a departure, they have demonstrated that the West Wing clout of “Javanka,” as the couple is often referred to, is a far cry from what it once was.

Since taking office last year, Kelly has prioritized creating formal lines of authority and decision-making. Kushner resisted efforts to formalize his role — which early in the administration made him something of a shadow secretary of state — and he has grown frustrated with the chief of staff’s attempts to restrict the couple’s access to the president. The couple perceives Kelly’s crackdown on security clearances as a direct shot at them, according to White House aides and outside advisers.

Kelly, in turn, has been angered by what he views as the couple’s freelancing. He blames them for changing Trump’s mind at the last minute and questions what exactly they do all day, according to one White House official and an outside ally. Kushner prevailed in previous power struggles within the White House, including one against former chief strategist Steve Bannon, but allies of the president on the outside openly cheered the power couple’s weakened position.

“Only a son-in-law could withstand this sort of exposure and not be fired,” said Jennifer Palmieri, former communications director for President Barack Obama. “Kushner’s vulnerable and in an accelerated fall from grace. Even though his departure would leave Trump even more isolated, a decision could be made that it’s just not worth it for him to stay.”

Those close to the couple insist the duo has no plans to leave Washington. But a soft landing spot has emerged if they choose to take it.

At a senior staff meeting Wednesday, Kushner spoke about the 2020 campaign at Kelly’s behest, talking up the selection of Brad Parscale to run the campaign, according to an administration official who was not authorized to speak publicly about internal discussions. Kushner has a close relationship with Parscale, whom he recruited to work on the 2016 campaign.

News of Parscale’s appointment was first reported in the Drudge Report, a favored outlet of Kushner’s, in a move that was seen by some in the West Wing as an attempted reminder of Kushner’s clout just hours before his humbling security clearance downgrade became public.

One veteran of the 2016 campaign suggested that there had always been a tentative plan for Kushner to resume a role on the re-election campaign but not this early in the president’s first term.

In a White House populated with attention-seekers, Kushner has been an ascetic, discreet figure. Almost always standing at the periphery in dark business suits, Kushner is rarely heard in public, his impact felt but not seen. His diplomatic trips abroad have either been shrouded in secrecy or conducted with minimal media coverage.

“I am not a person who has sought the spotlight. First in my business and now in public service, I have worked on achieving goals, and have left it to others to work on media and public perception,” Kushner told congressional investigators in a prepared statement last July.

But it is not immediately obvious what he’s achieved. There has been little progress on Mideast peace and relations with Mexico, another top Kushner priority, remain contentious over Trump’s proposed border wall. Kushner’s much ballyhooed project to reinvent the federal government has gained little traction. And questions persist about his family business’s global hunt for cash just a year before a $1.2 billion mortgage on a Manhattan skyscraper must be paid off by the company.

The Kushner Co. says it is in solid financial shape, but skeptics note that the company has been scrambling to raise funds from investors in nations with which Kushner has had government dealings and questions about potential Kushner conflicts of interest have scuttled some efforts.

Ivanka Trump, meanwhile, promotes the administration’s tax overhaul, including a family-friendly tax credit she championed. She continues to talk with lawmakers about paid family leave and recently led the U.S. delegation to the closing ceremonies at the Winter Olympics in South Korea.

But her role has come with unique challenges and calculations. Trump has portrayed herself as an advocate for women and families within the administration, which at times puts her in an awkward position given the allegations against her father and some of his public comments about women.

Trump recently said in an NBC interview that she believes her father’s denials of sexual misconduct, but argued that questions to her on the topic were “pretty inappropriate” — an answer that prompted eyerolls in some quarters of the West Wing yet again.

Politics a Subtext at Oscars

The Academy Awards, or Oscars, will be presented in Hollywood on Sunday, celebrating the movies and showcasing Hollywood glamour. Mike O’Sullivan reports, the ceremony will probably have some political moments in a year when many in Hollywood have their minds on politics.

Politics a Subtext at Oscars

The Academy Awards, or Oscars, will be presented in Hollywood on Sunday, celebrating the movies and showcasing Hollywood glamour. Mike O’Sullivan reports, the ceremony will probably have some political moments in a year when many in Hollywood have their minds on politics.

Trump Puts Aside Feud With Media For Annual Dinner

President Donald Trump engaged in a good-natured duel of one-liners with political rivals and the press at the annual Gridiron Dinner this weekend, largely putting aside his ongoing criticism of the media for a night.

Trump dished out sharp one-liners throughout his comments Saturday night, occasionally lapsing into recurring themes about the 2016 election and media bias.

“Nobody does self-deprecating humor better than I do. It’s not even close,” said Trump, who skipped last year’s dinner. He also said: “I was very excited to receive this invitation and ruin your evening in person. That’s why I accepted.”

The annual dinner of the Gridiron Club and Foundation, now in its 133rd year, traced its history to 1885, the year President Grover Cleveland refused to attend. Every president since has come to at least one Gridiron.

“Rest assured, Mr. President, this crowd is way bigger than Cleveland’s,” Club President David Lightman, congressional editor for McClatchy News, told the white-tie audience at the Renaissance Washington Hotel. The organization said the event attracted about 660 journalists, media executives, lawmakers, administration officials and military officers.

Members of the Washington press corps sharpened their wits for musical and rhetorical takedowns of the president, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama. Trump’s speech lasted more than a half hour and included plenty of one-liners.

A sampling:

— On his son-in-law: “We were late tonight because Jared could not get through security.”

— On Vice President Mike Pence: “He is one of the best straight men you’re ever going to meet … he is straight. Man.” Trump also said, “I really am proud to call him the apprentice ”

— On Attorney General Jeff Sessions: “I offered him a ride over and he recused himself. What are you going to do?”

— On The New York Times: “I’m a New York icon. You’re a New York icon. And the only difference is I still own my buildings.”

— On former chief strategist Steven Bannon: “That guy leaked more than the Titanic.”

— On the first lady: Trump said he doesn’t understand why everyone says #Freemelania. He said she’s actually having a great time.

Toward the end of his comments, Trump couldn’t resist some of his favorite themes, revisiting his election night victory and chiding reporters to be fair.

He closed by saying: “I just want to say this, this is one of the best times I’ve had with the media — this might be the most fun I’ve had since watching your faces on election night.”

He recalled the close race in Michigan, saying the media wouldn’t call it for him, even though he had a good margin of victory. And he accused some reporters of not being impartial in their coverage.

For much of the night he was a good sport — laughing and applauding at times during the evening’s entertainment. Hours earlier, Trump had fired off a sharp tweet at the national press:

“Mainstream Media in U.S. is being mocked all over the world. They’ve gone CRAZY!” He linked to a story by a conservative pundit saying Trump and his family are victims of “unparalleled” press attacks.

The major political parties found themselves skewered in parody songs in musical skits. By Gridiron tradition, comments came from one Republican, Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, and one Democrat, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

Cotton made light of what he called the source of his personality: the common touch of Harvard, the sensitivity of the Army, and the personal touch of Dick Cheney. On the Russia investigation, he said, “Everyone knows the Trump campaign couldn’t collude with the RNC in Pennsylvania.” The only senator in his 30s says he’s looking for a role model and “the search continues.”

With an eye on the president, Landrieu said: “We’re both overweight and balding. I just have an easier time admitting it.” Noting that Trump had a lonely job, the mayor remarked, “I understand lonely because I’m a Democrat from the South.” The New Orleans official also observed, “No matter how many times we say it, we don’t drain the swamps either.”

The Gridiron Dinner’s reputation as a night of bipartisan mirth was evidenced by those who accepted invitations, including last year’s headliner, Vice President Pence. Also accepting invitations were at least eight members of Trump’s Cabinet, six senators, four House members, and presidential relatives-turned-advisers Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, the foundation said in a statement.

By tradition, the evening’s musical entertainment revolved around musical skits and takeoffs of well-known songs performed by journalists pretending to be newsmakers.

A cast member playing House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi turned to “I’m Against It,” a song from the Marx Brothers film “Duck Soup,” to explain her attitude toward Trump: “I don’t know what Trump has to say/It makes no difference anyway/Whatever it is, we’re against it/Even if our own side once professed it/We’re against it.”

A cast member playing Hillary Clinton offered her version of the song “You’re So Vain,” the title referring to her, but the lyrics aimed at the president: “You walked into my West Wing/My White House or so I thought/Your tie strategically dropped below your belt/Your hair it was apricot.”

A charitable organization, the Gridiron Club and Foundation contributes to college scholarships and journalistic organizations. Active membership is limited to 65 Washington-based journalists.

Trump wrapped up the evening on an upbeat note.

“I want to thank the press for all you do to support and sustain our democracy,” he said in closing.

Trump Puts Aside Feud With Media For Annual Dinner

President Donald Trump engaged in a good-natured duel of one-liners with political rivals and the press at the annual Gridiron Dinner this weekend, largely putting aside his ongoing criticism of the media for a night.

Trump dished out sharp one-liners throughout his comments Saturday night, occasionally lapsing into recurring themes about the 2016 election and media bias.

“Nobody does self-deprecating humor better than I do. It’s not even close,” said Trump, who skipped last year’s dinner. He also said: “I was very excited to receive this invitation and ruin your evening in person. That’s why I accepted.”

The annual dinner of the Gridiron Club and Foundation, now in its 133rd year, traced its history to 1885, the year President Grover Cleveland refused to attend. Every president since has come to at least one Gridiron.

“Rest assured, Mr. President, this crowd is way bigger than Cleveland’s,” Club President David Lightman, congressional editor for McClatchy News, told the white-tie audience at the Renaissance Washington Hotel. The organization said the event attracted about 660 journalists, media executives, lawmakers, administration officials and military officers.

Members of the Washington press corps sharpened their wits for musical and rhetorical takedowns of the president, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama. Trump’s speech lasted more than a half hour and included plenty of one-liners.

A sampling:

— On his son-in-law: “We were late tonight because Jared could not get through security.”

— On Vice President Mike Pence: “He is one of the best straight men you’re ever going to meet … he is straight. Man.” Trump also said, “I really am proud to call him the apprentice ”

— On Attorney General Jeff Sessions: “I offered him a ride over and he recused himself. What are you going to do?”

— On The New York Times: “I’m a New York icon. You’re a New York icon. And the only difference is I still own my buildings.”

— On former chief strategist Steven Bannon: “That guy leaked more than the Titanic.”

— On the first lady: Trump said he doesn’t understand why everyone says #Freemelania. He said she’s actually having a great time.

Toward the end of his comments, Trump couldn’t resist some of his favorite themes, revisiting his election night victory and chiding reporters to be fair.

He closed by saying: “I just want to say this, this is one of the best times I’ve had with the media — this might be the most fun I’ve had since watching your faces on election night.”

He recalled the close race in Michigan, saying the media wouldn’t call it for him, even though he had a good margin of victory. And he accused some reporters of not being impartial in their coverage.

For much of the night he was a good sport — laughing and applauding at times during the evening’s entertainment. Hours earlier, Trump had fired off a sharp tweet at the national press:

“Mainstream Media in U.S. is being mocked all over the world. They’ve gone CRAZY!” He linked to a story by a conservative pundit saying Trump and his family are victims of “unparalleled” press attacks.

The major political parties found themselves skewered in parody songs in musical skits. By Gridiron tradition, comments came from one Republican, Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, and one Democrat, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

Cotton made light of what he called the source of his personality: the common touch of Harvard, the sensitivity of the Army, and the personal touch of Dick Cheney. On the Russia investigation, he said, “Everyone knows the Trump campaign couldn’t collude with the RNC in Pennsylvania.” The only senator in his 30s says he’s looking for a role model and “the search continues.”

With an eye on the president, Landrieu said: “We’re both overweight and balding. I just have an easier time admitting it.” Noting that Trump had a lonely job, the mayor remarked, “I understand lonely because I’m a Democrat from the South.” The New Orleans official also observed, “No matter how many times we say it, we don’t drain the swamps either.”

The Gridiron Dinner’s reputation as a night of bipartisan mirth was evidenced by those who accepted invitations, including last year’s headliner, Vice President Pence. Also accepting invitations were at least eight members of Trump’s Cabinet, six senators, four House members, and presidential relatives-turned-advisers Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, the foundation said in a statement.

By tradition, the evening’s musical entertainment revolved around musical skits and takeoffs of well-known songs performed by journalists pretending to be newsmakers.

A cast member playing House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi turned to “I’m Against It,” a song from the Marx Brothers film “Duck Soup,” to explain her attitude toward Trump: “I don’t know what Trump has to say/It makes no difference anyway/Whatever it is, we’re against it/Even if our own side once professed it/We’re against it.”

A cast member playing Hillary Clinton offered her version of the song “You’re So Vain,” the title referring to her, but the lyrics aimed at the president: “You walked into my West Wing/My White House or so I thought/Your tie strategically dropped below your belt/Your hair it was apricot.”

A charitable organization, the Gridiron Club and Foundation contributes to college scholarships and journalistic organizations. Active membership is limited to 65 Washington-based journalists.

Trump wrapped up the evening on an upbeat note.

“I want to thank the press for all you do to support and sustain our democracy,” he said in closing.