Playbook Power Briefing: SHULKIN and his staff misled ethics officials and the public on European trip

YOUR ADMINISTRATION TODAY …

BREAKING — ANDREW RESTUCCIA — "Third White House official resigns after being told he wouldn’t qualify for full clearance": "A senior official on the National Economic Council resigned on Tuesday after being informed that he would not receive a permanent security clearance, as the White House faces increasing scrutiny over the number of high-ranking officials allowed to work on interim clearances.

"George David Banks, who had served since February 2017 as special assistant to the president for international energy and environmental policy, told POLITICO that he was informed by the White House counsel’s office Tuesday that his application for a permanent clearance would not be granted." http://politi.co/2Er6zbX

— HOLY MOLY: “Veterans Affairs chief Shulkin, staff misled ethics officials about European trip, report finds,” by WaPo’s Lisa Rein: “Veterans Affairs Secretary David J. Shulkin’s chief of staff doctored an email and made false statements create a pretext for taxpayers to cover expenses for the secretary’s wife on a 10-day trip to Europe last summer, the agency’s inspector general has found.

“Vivieca Wright Simpson, VA’s third-most senior official, altered language in an email from an aide coordinating the trip to make it appear that Shulkin was receiving an award from the Danish government — then used the award to justify paying for his wife’s travel, Inspector General Michael J. Missal said in a report released Wednesday. VA paid $4,312 for her airfare. …

“Shulkin also improperly accepted a gift of tickets to a Wimbledon tennis match worth thousands of dollars, the investigation found, and directed an aide coordinating the trip to act as what the report called a ‘personal travel concierge’ to him and his wife.” http://wapo.st/2EqZmEX

— THE LATEST ON PORTER: “Lawmakers question Trump’s security procedures after Porter resignation,” by Louis Nelson: “Republican lawmakers raised questions Wednesday about the Trump administration’s security clearance process and an oversight panel launched an investigation, as the controversy surrounding former aide Rob Porter starts to eat into Capitol Hill’s confidence in President Donald Trump’s White House.

“Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) said his House Oversight Committee on Tuesday night kicked off an investigation into Trump’s employment of Porter — the White House staff secretary who resigned last week — and what White House officials knew about domestic abuse accusations against him.”

“‘You can call it official. You can call it unofficial,’ Gowdy said on CNN Wednesday morning. ‘I’m going to direct questions to the FBI that I expect them to answer. And if they don’t answer them, then they’re going to need to give me a really good reason.’” http://politi.co/2svU49pLetter from Gowdy to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly requesting more information http://bit.ly/2BtRhjW

— BIG CHUNK OF CHANGE: “Trump’s military parade would cost between $10M and $30M, Mulvaney says,” by CNN’s Gregory Wallace and Daniella Diaz: “Budget director Mick Mulvaney said Wednesday that he has seen estimates that a potential military parade requested by President Donald Trump could cost between $10 million and $30 million.

“Mulvaney told a congressional hearing that a parade is not included in the administration’s budget proposal because it came up late in the planning process. But if the administration decides to go forward with a parade, the Office of Management and Budget would study the costs. The wide range between estimates is because parades of different lengths and equipment would have different costs. A one-hour parade, he noted, would cost less than a five-hour parade.” http://cnn.it/2sxLuXX

Good Wednesday afternoon. FROM JOHN BRESNAHAN: “In response to a question about Gowdy’s investigation into the Porter scandal, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said the White House has to improve its vetting system for employees. Ryan also said Gowdy told House GOP leaders of his plans to launch a Porter probe.

“‘They have work to do to improve their vetting system,’ Ryan told reporters on Wednesday. ‘I don’t know how exactly they’ll do that, I will leave that to them. But Chairman Gowdy is doing his proper job on oversight, and yes, he did give us a heads up.’

“Ryan said as well that White House officials should condemn domestic violence. ‘Clearly, I think clearly — come on — clearly we should all be condemning domestic violence,’ Ryan said. ‘If a person who commits domestic violence gets in government, then there’s a breakdown in the system. There’s a breakdown in the vetting system, and that breakdown needs to be addressed.’”

MCCARTHY ON A MOVE TO THE OTHER SIDE OF PENNSYLVANIA — @BresPolitico: “/1 @GOPLeader on whether he has talked to Trump about being White House cos: ‘I have not spoken to the president about anything about a job, and I never have. And there is no job opening.’”

— MCCARTHY ON HUGH HEWITT HEWITT: “Let me begin after a string of legislative victories – the tax bill, the spending breakthrough, the breaking of the sequester, you are linked now with the short list of people to become the new White House chief of staff. Have you discussed that with the president?”

MCCARTHY: “No, I have made no decis…I have not discussed anything like that with the President. There’s no opening, either, so…”

AN IMMIGRATION UPDATE … “Senate moderates reach immigration deal — but GOP opposition builds,” by Burgess Everett and Elana Schor: “The accord would provide $25 billion for border security and a wall, a path to citizenship for 1.8 million young immigrants and restrictions on those immigrants’ parents becoming citizens, according to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

“‘We can do what we’ve done for the last 35 years, just quit and continue this mess. Or we can make this a substantial down payment on fixing a broken system,’ Graham said. Asked about what happens if the president explicitly condemns the deal, he replied: ‘Then we won’t go very far, and we’ll have three presidents that failed: Obama, Bush and Trump.’

“Senate GOP leaders have backed Trump’s framework that would include steep cuts to legal immigration. If all Democrats support the compromise — hardly a guarantee — at least 11 Republicans will also need to back it to reach the Senate’s 60 vote threshold. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell supports Trump, and whether he whips against the bipartisan bill will determine its fate.” http://politi.co/2EDVLXs

— JAKE asked a House conservative about this proposal, and they said it will not get any consideration.

NBC’S FRANK THORP — (@frankthorp): “Q: How optimistic are you that the Senate will pass an immigration bill this week? GRASSLEY: ‘As of right now, I would have some doubt if we get 60 votes…’”

FREEDOM CAUCUS VS GOP LEADERSHIP — “Meadows puts Ryan on notice on immigration,” by Rachael Bade: “House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) on Wednesday called for ‘new leadership’ in the House Republican Conference, accusing Speaker Paul Ryan’s team of dragging its feet on holding a vote on a GOP immigration bill,. In a briefing with reporters, Meadows blasted House GOP leaders for waiting for the Senate to act on immigration before taking up legislation in the House.

“‘I don’t think there’s really any conversations right now that would involve a new speaker,’ Meadows said when asked if Ryan’s speakership was in jeopardy. ‘But there are certainly new conversations that would involve new leadership.’

“Meadows continued, ‘Any time that the Senate can take up an immigration bill quicker than the House is a day that should defy history. The Senate is notorious for taking naps, not votes… Yet the Senate is here beating us to votes on immigration?’” http://politi.co/2sxbvGK

EARLIER THIS MORNING — “NSA: Several hospitalized after vehicle tried to enter,” by the AP’s Brian Witte: “Several people were hospitalized after a shooting Wednesday morning outside the National Security Agency campus at Fort Meade, but none of the injuries were caused by gunfire, the spy agency said.

“It began when a vehicle tried to enter the agency’s secure campus without authorization shortly after 7 a.m., the NSA said in a statement. The statement said weapons were fired but ‘preliminary reports do not presently indicate that there are injuries attributable to gunfire.’ The FBI is investigating. The incident did not have any links to terrorism, said a federal official who did not want to be named because they were not authorized to speak publicly.” http://bit.ly/2ECOIyf

MEMO MADNESS — “Schiff complains FBI, Justice Department making too many demands on Russia memo,” by Kyle Cheney: “The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee suggested Tuesday that the FBI and Justice Department are asking for excessive redactions from a memo written by Democrats to rebut GOP assertions that the FBI unlawfully spied on a Trump campaign adviser.

“Rep. Adam Schiff said that FBI and Justice Department officials have flagged "everything that isn’t already a matter of public record" from the memo, whose release President Donald Trump blocked last week on national security grounds. … Complaining that the officials’ requests would leave little of value in the memo, Schiff urged a focus on ‘redactions that are necessary to protect sources and methods.’” http://politi.co/2EIQcH9

FIRST IN PLAYBOOK — CASH DASH IS ON … DSCC MAJORITY TRUST members Brian Griffin, Mike Smith, Amy Tejral, Tracy Spicer and Manny Ortiz raised more than $300,000 last night for the Democratic campaign arm. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (N.Y.), DSCC Chair Chris Van Hollen (Md.), along with nearly 20 Democratic senators were on hand for the event. SPOTTED: Terri Fariello, Jamie Houton, Gael Sullivan, Jenelle Krishnamoorthy, David Pryor and Meredith Mellody.

GETTING IN THE SPIRIT OF IT — @MichelleObama: “Happy #ValentinesDay to my one and only, @BarackObama. To celebrate the occasion, I’m dedicating a little Valentine’s Day playlist to you!” The playlist on Spotify http://spoti.fi/2ED1xbP

SUSAN GLASSER on CHICAGO MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL in the NEW YORKER. http://bit.ly/2BuG9n5

HE’S RUNNING — @MittRomney: “Looking forward to making an announcement on February 15th about the Utah Senate race.”

IN THE AGENCIES — “VA employees wanted a gender-neutral mission statement. The agency refused,” by WaPo’s Emily Wax-Thibodeaux: “What began as a rallying cry among post-9/11 military veterans has revealed deep divisions within the Department of Veterans Affairs headquarters, where, in an apparent act of rebellion, staffers amended the agency’s 59-year-old motto on a newly released strategic document because the words exclude mention of women’s service and sacrifice.

“The document, outlining VA’s objectives through 2024, was posted to the agency’s website Monday evening and removed a day later when officials learned its mission statement had undergone unauthorized editing. At issue is omission of the word him, which appears in a line from Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address in 1865 — and VA’s motto since 1959: ‘To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan.’

“The strategic document instead phrased VA’s mission statement this way: ‘To fulfill President Lincoln’s promise to care for those ‘who shall have borne the battle’ and for their families, caregivers, and survivors.’” http://wapo.st/2EGphM0

2020 WATCH — “Warren addresses claims of Native American heritage,” by The Boston Globe’s Matt Viser and Liz Goodwin: “Senator Elizabeth Warren made a surprise appearance at the National Congress of American Indians Wednesday morning, forcefully responding to President Trump’s derisively calling her’“Pocahontas’ and addressing her claims of Native American heritage more directly — and far more expansively — than she ever has before.

“She did not apologize for her claims that her mother’s family had Cherokee blood — instead, reaffirming: ‘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.’ …

“But she also planned to tell the gathered tribal leaders from around the country she understood the distinction of being a member of a tribe, and that while it was part of her heritage she was not a tribal member. She repeatedly referred to Trump’s insensitivity, not only in calling her Pocahontas but in doing it last year during an event at the White House meant to honor Navajo code-talker veterans of World War II.” http://bit.ly/2stNjVT

MARKETWATCH — “Consumer prices jump much more than forecast, sparking inflation fears,” by CNBC’s Jeff Cox: “U.S. consumer prices rose considerably more than expected in January, fueling fears that inflation is about to turn dangerously higher. The Consumer Price Index rose 0.5 percent last month against projections of a 0.3 percent increase, the Labor Department reported Wednesday. Excluding volatile food and energy prices, the index was up 0.3 percent against estimates of 0.2 percent.” http://cnb.cx/2EIIWen

SAD! — “Hashtag, fewer hugs from Ernst in #MeToo era,” by The (Carroll, Iowa) Daily Times Herald’s Douglas Burns: “Sen. Joni Ernst, an old-school rural populist with a folksy approach to retail politics, says she’s suspended the practice of giving hugs — gestures that have been primary features of her small-town way of greeting constituents and others in professional settings — for fear the embraces will be misinterpreted in the #MeToo era, the modern climate of evolving protocol on personal interaction. … ‘I do have concerns now that a pat on the shoulder might be taken the wrong way,’ Ernst said in an interview with this newspaper. ‘It’s possible that you could be accused of something. You know, I’m a big hugger, and I love to hug people, and that’s just who I am, and I have given pause to that now, even. I don’t like that. But I don’t want to be accused of hugging somebody who didn’t want a hug. So it’s unfortunate in some aspects.’” http://bit.ly/2EFxNe7

THE POST FBI LIFE — JAMES COMEY was spotted by The Daily Caller coaching a girls basketball team http://bit.ly/2EGdVHL

MEDIAWATCH — “Trump lawyer’s radio show slams Russia probe,” by Darren Samuelsohn: “In recent weeks, Trump personal attorney Jay Sekulow has turned the live weekday talk-radio show he hosts into a regular forum for trashing the legitimacy of the federal probes into Trump’s Russia connections. Fourteen of the past 19 episodes of ‘Jay Sekulow Live’ have involved freewheeling conversations about the Trump-Russia saga and what he calls the ‘deep state’ bureaucrats out to get the president. Sekulow also piles on during his regular appearances on Fox News.” http://politi.co/2EIOJR9

— “Forbes Will Pay All of Its Contributors, but Purge the Worst,” by WSJ’s Benjamin Mullin: “The financial news publisher is putting each of its 1,500 contributors on a contract that guarantees them a minimum of $250 a month beginning immediately. This new plan also calls for Forbes to review its roster of contributors periodically and cut 10% of the worst performers every year. This strategy makes Forbes the latest publisher to adjust its approach toward contributor networks as the focus in the media industry turns to quality content.” http://on.wsj.com/2EI9qMU

— CHARLIE SYKES is the new host of the relaunched Daily Standard Podcast, from the Weekly Standard.

SPOTTED: Paul Manafort going into the building housing the new office (http://politi.co/2nZZvrJ) of his lawyers this morning on New Jersey Ave NW … David Urban walking this morning on M Street at the intersection of 21st Street in West End.

SPOTTED: Newt Gingrich meeting in H-139 yesterday with a number of House Republican members including Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.), Jodey Arrington (Texas), Ted Budd (N.C.), Drew Ferguson (Ga.), Robert Pittenger (N.C.) and Roger Williams (Texas). He talked about how to speak about tax reform and also recommended Karl Rove’s book “The Triumph of William McKinley: Why the Election of 1896 Still Matters” and talked about how to apply the lessons of that election, according to a source in the room.

FUN — Colorado Sens. MICHAEL BENNET and CORY GARDNER practicing their curling to celebrate the Olympics. 80-second video http://bit.ly/2EIeyRa

BONUS BIRTHDAY: Rick Saccone, who’s running in the special election for Pennsylvania’s 18th congressional district, is 6-0.

TRANSITIONS — Arielle Mueller and Anthony Cruz are now deputy press secretaries for Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).

CategoriesUncategorized

Leave a Reply