Playbook: U.S. averages a school shooting every 2.5 days in 2018

Good Thursday morning. EVERYTOWN, the gun-control group backed by Michael Bloomberg, says this is the 18th school shooting of 2018. We are seven weeks into the year. That means there’s a school shooting every 2.5 days. There have been 30 mass shootings this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

MIAMI HERALD — CARLI TEPROFF, CHABELI HERRERA and DAVID SMILEY: “An American nightmare unfolded Wednesday afternoon at a South Florida high school after an expelled teenager returned to campus and opened fire with an assault rifle, police say, killing 17 and wounding 15 more in the worst school shooting in Florida history.

“Just before dismissal at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, thousands of students puzzled at the sound of an unexpected fire alarm were launched into a panic when gunfire punctuated the din. As teachers and students fled through hallways and hid under desks, a gunman fired volley of bullets, leaving a trail of bodies and chaos in his wake.

“The Broward Sheriff’s Office says Nikolas Cruz, 19, walked the halls of the high school wielding an AR-15 and multiple magazines. U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson told reporters that Cruz pulled a fire alarm and then, wearing a gas mask, began tossing smoke bombs and shooting people as they ran through the haze. …

“In a theater class bathroom, Sarah Crescitelli typed a text to her parents: ‘If I don’t make it I love you and I appreciated everything you did for me.’ …

“Doctors would not disclose details regarding injuries to any of the patients or the suspect. However, Dr. Igor Nichiporenko, the medical director for trauma at Broward Health North, did say that all of the victims suffered from gunshot wounds. Three patients were still in the operating room, Nichiporenko said. ‘They’re going to have successful surgeries. They’re going to recover,’ Nichiporenko said. ‘They’re going to go home.’”

DETAILS — @maggieNYT: “Administration aides tell me that advisors have recommended [POTUS] say something, but he has opted not to”. … CNN’S SHIMON PROKUPECZ (@ShimonPro): “Law enforcement officials describe horrific scene inside school. Beyond the bodies and blood were also piles of backpacks and cell phones dropped, some still ringing unanswered as parents desperately tried to find their kids to see if they were ok.”

AIR PRUITT: Your (somewhat) daily report on EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s travel … PRUITT was on the 3:44 p.m. American Airlines departure from Hartford to DCA Wednesday. There was no first class on the plane but Pruitt boarded before everyone else and took the first row, first seat. His staff was in the back of the plane. Pic

— “EPA changes its story on Pruitt’s first-class travel,” by Eric Wolff, Emily Holden and Alex Guillen: “EPA on Wednesday retracted its claim that Administrator Scott Pruitt has received a ‘blanket waiver’ to fly first class whenever he travels, after POLITICO pointed officials to federal travel rules that appeared to bar such arrangements. …

“[EPA spokesman Jahan] Wilcox changed his explanation after POLITICO pointed out that section of the regulations. GSA does allow first-class travel for security reasons, but only if agencies request a waiver for each trip. ‘As such, for every trip Administrator Pruitt submits a waiver to fly in either first or business class,’ Wilcox said, amending the agency’s earlier statement, which yielded criticism from Republican lawmakers and led Democrats to request an inspector general investigation.”


— “Trump, a Week After Porter Resigned, Says He’s ‘Totally Opposed’ to Domestic Violence,” by NYT’s Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Maggie Haberman and Mike Shear: “Three people briefed on the situation said that [John] Kelly learned that the accusations would be published in The Mail last Tuesday, before leaving for a visit to Capitol Hill. In a meeting with a group of aides, including several from the press office, everyone agreed that Mr. Porter would have to resign, the people briefed on the situation said, and a statement from Mr. Kelly was drafted to provide to The Mail. But Mr. Porter continued to deny the accusations from his former wives.

“One aide in the discussions pushed back on the belief that Mr. Porter should resign, saying that these were mere allegations, and that if Mr. Porter were forced out over them, other people could be forced from their posts any time an allegation was made. Other aides agreed, and argued for waiting for the story to play out. At that point, they reached out to Mr. Kelly, who had left for the visit to the Capitol, by phone, the people said, and he said he agreed, telling them to make his statement about Mr. Porter more supportive. Mr. Kelly dictated specific language that he wanted in the statement to Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary.”

— AP’S JONATHAN LEMIRE and ZEKE MILLER: “West Wing aides have had their faith in the chief of staff shaken, and morale has plunged to levels not seen since last spring’s firing of FBI Director James Comey and the August uproar over Trump’s refusal to denounce white supremacists after the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.”

— “Sanders pushes for Kelly to face the press over Porter scandal,” by Darren Samuelsohn, Matt Nussbaum, Andrew Restuccia and Eliana Johnson: “Nine days into the Rob Porter scandal, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is pushing for senior officials who made the decisions surrounding the former White House staff secretary’s security clearance to take over the task of explaining—and defending—those decisions to the public. Since Tuesday … Sanders has moved to have White House counsel Don McGahn or chief of staff John Kelly brief the press directly, according to a person close to the White House. …

“‘I think the president is going to side with her,’ this person said. ‘I think the president is going to want them to clear it up.’ A senior administration official said later Wednesday that Kelly had been set to take the podium until the decision was made to cancel it. The White House denied there was any plan for Kelly to brief reporters Wednesday. Sanders did not respond to a request for comment.”

FOR AN ADMINISTRATION that has faced numerous controversies and quickly moved past issue after issue, this scandal has had impressive staying power.


THERE’S NO SECRET that House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the six-term Republican from California, is among the closest people in Washington to the president of the United States. They chat often. He’s a sounding board for DONALD TRUMP and his closest advisers. And he has an uncanny pulse for the mood of — and movements in — the House. BUT CHIEF OF STAFF? Let’s put aside the obvious question — is Trump looking to replace his chief of staff? — and explore whether it makes sense for McCarthy to do this.

PROS … McCarthy already fell short of the speakership once. He’s not guaranteed to get it whenever Paul Ryan leaves. He has no personal wealth, and the combination of majority leader and White House chief of staff could catapult him into a new stratosphere for post-government employment.

CONS … McCarthy is a principal in a town where that matters. He has flexibility in the Capitol to own some things, and brush others off. He has a healthy powerbase of well more than half of the House Republican Conference — and much of the other half is coming around to him. In other words, he could well be speaker whenever Ryan gets out of here. If Republicans lose the majority and Ryan leaves, he’ll be minority leader without breaking much of a sweat.

— ATTN. KEVIN, via Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Maggie Haberman: “Mr. Trump is said to seem more favorable toward Mr. McCarthy in some of his discussions, seeing him as someone who would be a more willing subordinate than Mr. Cohn might be, according to a person with direct knowledge of the discussions.”

SOME OF MCCARTHY’S INNER CIRCLE and friends believe he wants to be in the mix — but doesn’t want the job in the end. JOHN BRESNAHAN and RACHAEL BADE have a story up on McCarthy allies saying he actually wants to be speaker, not chief of staff.

THE LATEST ON IMMIGRATION REFORM … BURGESS EVERETT and ELANA SCHOR: “Senate immigration deal on life support”: “A bipartisan Senate proposal to protect thousands of young undocumented immigrants from deportation is struggling to survive. While negotiators in both parties reached a tentative agreement on Wednesday evening, prospects were dim amid strong opposition from President Donald Trump and Senate Republicans as well as tepid buy-in from Democrats.

“Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said some of her fellow Democrats are ‘upset about’ certain elements of the agreement, which she supports: ‘By and large, I’m hopeful that we’ll get there, but some of this stuff is hard to take’ for other Democrats. Likewise, Republicans followed Trump’s lead after he urged the Senate to defeat any amendment that does not mirror his own, which tackles border security, a path to citizenship for those in the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals program as well as cuts to legal immigration through the diversity lottery and family-based migration.

“‘The starting point should be something we know the president will support,’ said Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), who has been in talks with Democrats on immigration in recent weeks. ‘If it doesn’t have a reasonable approach for each of the four pillars, I can’t support it.’ Senators in both parties raced to finish the text of their amendment in time for the Senate to consider their bipartisan proposal before the week ends.”

— NOT EVERYBODY IS ON BOARD, FRUSTRATING DEMS: The progressive group Indivisible sent this email message to supporters last night: “Wanted to flag for you that the lead immigration groups and progressives are opposing the two Democratic amendments being offered on the immigration bill, unless they are significantly changed. In particular, the wall money that is being included and the family restrictions are nonstarters.

“We know that Dem leadership is going to whip for them hard, especially the Collins/Rounds/Bipartisan package. We will be issuing a formal vote recommendation later tonight or tomorrow morning but wanted to make sure you understood where we are on this.”

— THE DISCONNECT… Republicans and Democrats were pretty hyped about the bipartisan bill sponsored by Republican Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Maine Sen. Angus King (I). BUT …

… HERE IS WHAT DHS SAID ABOUT IT: “The Schumer-Rounds-Collins proposal destroys the ability of the men and women from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to remove millions of illegal aliens. … It is an egregious violation of the four compromise pillars laid out by the President’s immigration reform framework. Instead of helping to secure the border as the President has repeatedly asked Congress to do, it would do the exact opposite and make our border far more open and porous.”

BACK IN THE HOUSE — “Ryan struggles on Dreamers as GOP fractures,” by Rachael Bade and John Bresnahan: “Speaker Paul Ryan is struggling to come up with a game plan on immigration – and staring down a conservative backlash if he makes the wrong step.

“The Wisconsin Republican is under increasing pressure from hard-liners in the House Freedom Caucus to put a conservative Dreamer solution on the House floor. Chairman Mark Meadows said Wednesday that while he didn’t think there was talk about replacing Ryan at the moment, ‘there are certainly new conversations that would involve new leadership.’ ‘I can say that it is a defining moment for this speaker: If he gets it wrong, it will have consequences for him, but it will also have consequences for the rest of the Republican Party,’ Meadows told reporters.

“But many moderate Republicans are not on board with the conservative proposal, offered by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.). It does not provide a pathway to citizenship for hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants and includes a controversial provision to force employers to verify the legal status of their employees. In fact, GOP leaders are far from the 218 votes needed to pass it, according to multiple senior Republican sources familiar with the results of a tentative vote count Wednesday. And the speaker has told some members privately that he does not want to put the bill up for a roll call unless it can pass.”

HMM … THE END OF THE FREEDOM CAUCUS? — BEN WHITE talked with REP. MARK MEADOWS (R-N.C.) for his latest POLITICO Money podcast. Meadows said he’s more hopeful now that the GOP can retain the House given improved poll numbers. But he said if they don’t, it could spell the end of the Freedom Caucus.

“Certainly if we are in the minority the Freedom Caucus becomes less influential," he said. “The Freedom Caucus when you are in the majority has an out-weighted influence here on Capitol Hill. In the minority I don’t see that as being a direct correlation to power because everybody can be unified and be against something when you are in the minority.” Listen and subscribe to the full podcast

— HUFFPO’S MATT FULLER on MEADOWS: "In an interview in his office Wednesday afternoon, Meadows said he wasn’t threatening Ryan, but intimated that there very well could be repercussions for the speaker if he moves forward with an immigration bill conservatives don’t like.

“’Immigration is a defining moment for many of our members …To not recognize that, and think you’re gonna be able to make excuses on why a bad bill gets sent to the president, is not going to be accepted by the people we represent, and certainly not going to be accepted by a number of members.’"

THE BIG PICTURE — JOHN HARRIS and ELIANA JOHNSON: “Kelly’s uphill battle for redemption”: “Donald Trump is not the first president to have a crush on a tough-minded, tough-talking bull of a man as White House chief of staff, with an impressive resume that seemed to promise a reign of ass-kicking competence. And John Kelly is not the first chief of staff to be trailing blood from shards of porcelain in his hide after a bovine romp through the West Wing china shop.

“The latest readings from the Washington seismograph suggest the retired four-star general Trump tapped to impose order on chaos in his young presidency is likely safe for now, with three sources who talk regularly with Trump saying the president has no intention of firing him. Kelly may yet avoid the fate of temperamentally similar predecessors such as Donald Regan, the former Wall Street CEO who appealed to Ronald Reagan for reasons not unlike those that drew Trump to Kelly.

“For Reagan, going to war with Nancy Reagan turned out to be a bad career move. President George H.W. Bush dispatched his son George W. Bush to tell another chief of staff, former Gov. John Sununu of New Hampshire, that his tough-guy routine had worn out its welcome. But even if Kelly survives the uproar over his bungled handling of the Rob Porter spousal abuse allegations, he will do so as a diminished and vulnerable figure — stripped of the mystique of martial authority and professionalism that once made him imposing.

“Kelly has already lost his luster inside the White House, where his colleagues — who once considered his word unimpeachable — have begun to doubt his honesty in crisis situations. Few feel he has has been forthright with them about what he knew about the allegations against Porter, whose two ex-wives have accused him of physical and emotional abuse, or how long it took Kelly to tell the former White House staff secretary to pack his bags.”

ABOUT THOSE SECURITY CLEARANCES — “Scores of top White House officials lack permanent security clearances,” by NBC News’ Carol E. Lee, Mike Memoli, Kristen Welker and Rich Gardella: “More than 130 political appointees working in the Executive Office of the President did not have permanent security clearances as of November 2017, including the president’s daughter, son-in-law and his top legal counsel, according to internal White House documents obtained by NBC News. Of those appointees working with interim clearances, 47 of them are in positions that report directly to President Donald Trump. About a quarter of all political appointees in the executive office are working with some form of interim security clearance. … The documents also show that 10 months into Trump’s administration, at least 85 political appointees in the White House, vice president’s office and National Security Council were working without permanent security clearances.

"About 50 appointees were operating with interim security clearances while serving in offices closely linked to the West Wing, such as the National Economic Council, the Office of Management and Budget, the U.S. Trade Representative and the White House executive residence. White House officials who are listed as not having permanent security clearances as recently as this past November include Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and senior adviser; Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser; Dan Scavino, the president’s director of social media; and Christopher Liddell, assistant to the president for strategic initiatives, according to the documents.”

DON MCGAHN’S HIGH WIRE ACT — “White House counsel walks a fine line in serving Trump’s demands,” by WaPo’s Josh Dawsey, Ros Helderman and Matt Zapotosky: “President Trump had a request for his lawyer: Call a senior Justice Department official and get him to persuade the FBI director to announce that Trump was not personally under investigation in the probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election. White House counsel Donald McGahn made the call in April to acting deputy attorney general Dana Boente but failed to convince him that FBI Director James B. Comey should make the statement, according to several people familiar with the episode.

“The refusal further frustrated a president who had already twice appealed directly to Comey, who told him he should have McGahn call instead. The previously unreported episode underscores McGahn’s precarious position in the Russia probe as he seeks to both mollify and protect his client, the commander in chief.”

ROMNEY WATCH — “Inside Romney’s campaign strategy for Utah Senate,” by Alex Isenstadt: Mitt Romney is poised to launch his political comeback — but don’t expect him to talk much about his onetime nemesis, President Donald Trump. … Romney intends to carefully skirt questions about how he’ll deal with the president and what could be in store for his future, amid speculation that he’s already plotting a role in leadership or even another campaign for the White House.

“Instead, Romney plans to keep it hyperlocal, presenting himself as someone who will tend to the state’s needs even though his election is essentially a foregone conclusion, according to several people who’ve spoken to him in recent weeks. It’s an approach other big-name figures who’ve run for Senate have employed, such as Hillary Clinton and Al Franken: Don’t appear to be taking anything for granted or coasting on celebrity. Think more meet-and-greets with voters, a largely Utah-based campaign team, fewer TV commercials, and less give-and-take with national reporters.”

FOR YOUR RADAR — “Doctors find neurological damage to Americans who served in Cuba,” by WaPo’s Karen DeYoung: “Diplomats serving at the U.S. Embassy in Cuba ‘appeared to have sustained injury to widespread brain networks’ there, according to physicians who evaluated them for the State Department. But the physicians could find no definitive cause for their ailments, they said in an article in Thursday’s edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

“The article, written by specialists at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, provided the most detailed description to date of the injuries — including headaches, dizziness and hearing, vision, sleep and mood disorders. The specialists examined 21 of 24 diplomats who reported symptoms between late 2016 and August 2017.”

TRUMP’S THURSDAY — The president is scheduled to meet with U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley this afternoon.

IF YOU READ ONE THING – “‘Who Needs a Controversy Over the Inauguration?’ Reince Priebus Opens Up About his Six Months of Magical Thinking,” by Chris Whipple in the March issue of Vanity Fair: “Priebus’s account of his tenure as Trump’s chief confirms the portrayal of a White House in disarray, riven by conflict. ‘Take everything you’ve heard and multiply it by 50,’ Priebus said as we sat down. Being White House chief had been even more arduous than it looked from the outside. … ‘People mistake me for a laid-back guy from the Midwest,’ he continued. ‘I’m much more aggressive, and much more of a knife fighter. Playing the inside game is what I do.’ … [In May t]he president had subjected [Jeff] Sessions to a withering tirade in the Oval Office, calling him an ‘idiot’ and blaming Sessions’s recusal from the Russia investigation for the whole mess. Humiliated, Sessions said he would resign. Priebus was incredulous: ‘I said, “That can’t happen.”’

“He bolted down the stairway to the West Wing parking lot. He found Sessions in the backseat of a black sedan, with the engine running. ‘I knocked on the door of the car, and Jeff was sitting there,’ Priebus said, ‘and I just jumped in and shut the door, and I said, “Jeff, what’s going on?” And then he told me that he was going to resign. I said, “You cannot resign. It’s not possible. We are going to talk about this right now.” So I dragged him back up to my office from the car. [Vice President Mike] Pence and Bannon came in, and we started talking to him to the point where he decided that he would not resign right then and he would instead think about it.’ Later that night, Sessions delivered a resignation letter to the Oval Office, but, Priebus claimed, he ultimately persuaded the president to give it back.”

KUSHNER INC. — “Kushner Investors Said to Be Subpoenaed by U.S. Tax Authorities,” by Bloomberg’s David Voreacos: “U.S. tax authorities have requested documents from lenders and investors in real estate projects managed by Jared Kushner’s family, according to a person familiar with the matter. They have gathered information from people who lent money and assembled investors for Kushner Cos. real estate projects in New York and New Jersey, the person said. Those projects involve deals dating back to 2010. The Internal Revenue Service and the Justice Department issued the subpoenas within the past year, according to the person. The tax inquiry appears unrelated to other investigations that have since burst into public view.”

REBEKAH MERCER SPEAKS! – WSJ OP-ED: “Forget the Media Caricature. Here’s What I Believe: I support U.S. generosity, decentralized power, evidence-based science, and open discourse”: “Over the past 18 months, I have been the subject of intense speculation and public scrutiny, in large part because of the philanthropic investments of the Mercer Family Foundation and the political contributions made by my father and me. I don’t seek attention for myself and much prefer to keep a low profile. But my natural reluctance to speak with reporters has left me vulnerable to the media’s sensational fantasies. Some have recklessly described me as supporting toxic ideologies such as racism and anti-Semitism. More recently I have been accused of being ‘anti-science.’

“These absurd smears have inspired a few gullible, but vicious, characters to make credible death threats against my family and me. Last month a writer for the Financial Times suggested mysteriously that my ‘political goals are something she has never publicly defined.’ In broad strokes this is what I believe: I believe in a kind and generous United States, where the hungry are fed, the sick are cared for, and the homeless are sheltered. All American citizens deserve equality and fairness before the law. All people should be treated with dignity and compassion. I support a United States that welcomes immigrants and refugees to apply for entry and ultimately citizenship. I reject as venomous and ignorant any discrimination based on race, gender, creed, ethnicity or sexual orientation. …

“I own a minority stake in Breitbart News (where I have no editorial authority) because I believe it adds an important journalistic voice to the American conversation. Stephen Bannon, its former chairman, took Breitbart in the wrong direction. Now that Mr. Bannon has resigned, Breitbart has the opportunity to refine its message and expand its influence.”

SPEAKING OF BANNON — “House panel weighs contempt if Bannon fails to show for Thursday hearing,” by CNN’s Manu Raju, Jeremy Herb and Kara Scannell: “The House Intelligence Committee has scheduled a Thursday meeting to hear testimony from Steve Bannon — but it’s an open question whether President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist will even show up. The White House sent a letter to Capitol Hill late Wednesday laying out its explanation for why Trump’s transition period falls under its authority to assert executive privilege, a move intended to shield Bannon from answering questions about that time period, according to a person familiar with the discussions.

“But House members from both parties have so far rejected that broad interpretation of executive privilege, raising the stakes for Bannon’s standoff with Congress.Lawmakers from both parties say Bannon should be held in contempt if he fails to appear for the scheduled interview Thursday morning, a date that has already been pushed back three times as the committee has fought with Bannon’s lawyer and the White House over the scope of the lawmakers’ questions.”

THE HIGHEST BIDDER IS … “Trump Lawyer’s Payment to Porn Star Raises New Questions,” by NYT’s Maggie Haberman and Charlie Savage: “Keith Davidson, a Los Angeles lawyer who represented Ms. Clifford in the 2016 transaction, issued a statement Wednesday declaring that Mr. Cohen had told him at the time that the $130,000 payment was coming from his own funds. ‘I represented Stephanie Clifford in the Michael Cohen/Stephanie Clifford transaction,’ Mr. Davidson’s statement said. ‘I read today that Michael Cohen reports that the source of the $130,000 paid to Ms. Clifford was from his own personal funds. That assertion is in complete harmony with what he informed me of at the time of the transaction.’

“Ms. Clifford believes that Mr. Cohen, in making his statement, has breached a nondisclosure agreement she signed in connection with the payment, releasing her from the confidentiality commitment, according to Gina Rodriguez, her manager. Ms. Clifford, she said, is now offering to sell her story to media outlets so that she can tell her version of events.”

THE WRONG FIGHT TO PICK — “‘Incensed’ Grassley Rips Sessions for Torching Justice Overhaul,” by Bloomberg’s Steve Dennis: “Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley blasted Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday after Sessions criticized his criminal justice overhaul a day before a committee vote. Sessions wrote a letter charging that the legislation, if passed, could let the ‘very worst criminals’ and gang members out of prison early. Grassley accused the attorney general of being ungrateful, saying that he had supported Sessions when President Donald Trump wanted to fire him and protected him from repeated Democratic demands for public hearings on Sessions’ contacts with Russians in 2016.

“‘I think it’s legitimate to be incensed and I resent it, because of what I’ve done for him. He had a tough nomination, a tough hearing in my committee,’ Grassley, an Iowa Republican, said in an interview in his Capitol Hill office. ‘They wanted to call him back every other day for additional hearings about his Russian connection, and I shut them off of that until we had the normal oversight hearing in October I believe it was, see? And the president was going to fire him, and I backed him, you know? So why wouldn’t I be irritated?’”

THE ADMINISTRATION — “Trump’s Science Advisor, Age 31, Has a Political Science Degree,” by E&E’s Scott Waldman: “A job that’s been held by some of the nation’s top scientists is now occupied by a 31-year-old politics major from Princeton University. And it’s unlikely to change soon, observers say, leaving President Trump without a science adviser as the administration wrestles with a severe outbreak of the flu, lead-poisoned drinking water and record-breaking disasters that many scientists say are sharpened by rising temperatures. …

“[T]he job falls to Michael Kratsios, the deputy assistant in the Office of Science and Technology Policy. At least for now. Kratsios graduated from Princeton in 2008 with a political science degree and a focus on Hellenic studies. He previously served as chief of staff to Peter Thiel, the controversial Silicon Valley billionaire and Trump ally.”

HILLARY ALUMNI – “Former top Hillary Clinton aide Amanda Renteria enters race for California governor,” by LA Times’ Seema Mehta and Phil Willon: “Amanda Renteria, a top aide to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, is stepping down from her post at the California attorney general’s office to run for governor, according to Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra. ‘I wish her a great deal of luck. I obviously hired her because I knew she was pretty capable,’ Becerra told The Times on Wednesday.”

— “DNC hires new top fundraiser,” by Isaac Dovere: “Three and a half months after firing its top fundraiser, the [DNC] has hired a replacement. Clayton Cox, who has been serving as a senior adviser, will get the job, a DNC official confirmed Wednesday evening. Cox comes in as the DNC finished 2017 having raised half as much money as the Republican National Committee, and entered the midterms year with $6.5 million cash on hand and $6.2 million in debt.”

MEDIAWATCH — Kinsey Wilson has been named president of He was most recently adviser to the president and CEO of The New York Times and has also served as EVP and chief content officer at NPR.

SPOTTED: Ryan Zinke in coach yesterday on a flight from DCA to Charleston

UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO INSTITUTE OF POLITICS adds eight to its advisory board: Former Illinois GOP Rep. Bob Dold, Jennifer Granholm, Michael Morell, Shailagh Murray, Penny Pritzker, Kasim Reed, Bret Stephens.

TRANSITIONS – Rick Stengel has been named a distinguished fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab. He served as under secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs in the Obama administration.

SPOTTED at the Clinical Simulation Skills Center at GWU Hospital yesterday: Senate wives Gayle Wicker, Barbara Grassley, Jane O’Meara Sanders, and Bobbi Barrasso along with Dr. Janine Van Lancker and Ritu Ahuja Khanna.

BIRTHWEEK (was Tuesday): Nick Baer, second year NYU Law student and a Hillary alum

BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Ret. Adm. Jim Stavridis, now dean of the Fletcher School at Tufts, is 63. A trend he thinks deserves more attention: “The diminishment of our moral and ethical character worries me. We are increasingly willing to allow lies, adultery, and brutal incivility to be regarded as supposedly normal behavior. We can disagree about policy (and we should), but we should all agree that we will tell the truth, remain faithful to our vows (marital and otherwise), and be respectful and kind to others.” Read his Playbook Plus Q&A:

BIRTHDAYS: Harold Burson, founding chairman of Burson-Marsteller, is 97 (hat tip: Catherine Sullivan) … BuzzFeed’s Ben Purdy, a Comedy Central and ABC alum … TPM’s Josh Marshall is 49 … Katarina Price Frans … Mercury SVP Jen Wlach … WSJ’s Amanda Lilly … Jonathan Salant, Bloomberg alum now with NJ Advance Media … Jackie Kier, senior associate at Cranemere and an Obama WH alum … Carrie Sheffield, founder of Bold … Alex Siegel, deputy executive director of the RJC (h/t Matt Brooks) … Politico’s Toni Hall … Keely Herring … Politico Europe’s Madalina Ciulin … Jules Johnston … Sourav Bhowmick, MBA candidate at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management and a Brunswick alum … Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.) is 53 … Beth Solomon, managing director of external affairs and development at CARE … Peter Feldman (h/t Tim Burger) … Lindsey Teague … Bobby Panzenbeck … Jason Thielman, COS for Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) … Kent Talbert … Deloitte’s Priya Singh … Christopher Anderson, president of Sala Consulting and a Harry Reid alum … Andrea Bitely, director of comms and government affairs for Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette …

… Sarah Dolan, comms director for America Rising (h/t Colin Reed) … Francisco Bencosme, LA with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and president of the Congressional Hispanic Staff Association (h/t Eric Wall) … Linda Kramer Jenning, former DC bureau chief for People Magazine and Glamour and associate professor Georgetown (h/t Steve) … Amy Clark, VP of PR at BrandLinkDC … Valentina Pereda … Kerry Feehery, senior policy adviser at Holland & Knight, celebrating with dinner at Le Diplomate (hubby tip: John) … Clare Flannery … Dan O’Brien, senior manager of government relations PAC and events at Fidelity Investments … Shalini Vajjhala, EPA alum now at re:focus partners … Bobby Panzenbeck … John Bisio of Walmart public affairs … Brian Wilson, Fox alum now president of Right Tone Communications … George Alan Barger … William John Cox … Amanda Gordon … Janie Kim … Betsy Broadman … Robert Swan, Ted Kennedy alum … Gerry Dickinson … Alby Maccarone … Linda Roth … Carlos Sanchez … Kirk Brown … Andrew Moyer … Nick Bauer … Mona Murphy … Chad Maisel (h/ts Teresa Vilmain)


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