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Happy Friday morning.
Former President Donald Trump was indicted in Manhattan Thursday. He’s expected to be booked and processed Tuesday. He’s running for president. Being indicted is bad.
Beyond those facts, it’s hard to say anything confidently about the unprecedented criminal case against the former president. CNN reported that Trump will face more than 30 counts of falsifying business records, including covering up alleged hush-money payments to former porn star Stormy Daniels. The specific charges will be unveiled at Trump’s arraignment next week.
We can say, however, that the former president’s legal travails will keep him as the central figure for Hill Republicans — particularly in the House — for the foreseeable future.
Like Trump, House Republicans expected the former president to be indicted. The top rung of the GOP leadership – Speaker Kevin McCarthy and House Majority Leader Steve Scalise – didn’t hold a conference call Thursday night to strategize their response. They already knew what they had to do, as well as what many of their rank-and-file members would say.
McCarthy, who like everyone else hasn’t seen the indictment, tweeted Thursday evening that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has “irreparably damaged our country.” McCarthy continued:
“The American people will not tolerate this injustice, and the House of Representatives will hold Alvin Bragg and his unprecedented abuse of power to account.”
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the chair of the House Judiciary Committee and its Weaponization of the Federal Government subcommittee, simply tweeted, “Outrageous.”
That’s been the general reaction from the House Republican Conference, long the nucleus of Trump support within the party.
Jordan, along with House Oversight and Accountability Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) and House Administration Committee Chair Bryan Steil (R-Wis.), had set a March 31 deadline for Bragg to testify about his pursuit of the Trump case. Bragg has repeatedly refused. The trio of committee chairs will now have to subpoena the Manhattan D.A. after he’s indicted Trump, a much dicier proposition both legally and politically.
A number of Senate Republicans also defended Trump, but it was a more muted response than the angry outbursts from their House counterparts.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a Trump ally, called the indictment “one of the most irresponsible decisions in American history by any prosecutor.” Senate Republican Conference Chair John Barrasso (Wyo.), No. 3 in the GOP leadership, termed it a “politically motivated prosecution by a far-left activist.”
Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) called it a “gross abuse of power by a blue state government to fabricate the outcome they’ve wanted since 2015.” And Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) compared the situation to the Duke lacrosse players controversy from 2006, a touchstone in the nation’s culture wars.
But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Whip John Thune — frequent targets of Trump’s vitriol — had nothing to say.
Unlike congressional investigations and the two impeachments that Trump faced, even his staunchest allies can’t shield him from this case. Trump’s fate rests with jurors who will hear arguments from both Manhattan prosecutors and the former president’s defense attorneys — if this ever goes to trial. So there’s very little Republicans can do at this point except make political speeches.
In many ways, Trump’s indictment fits neatly into the narrative that Republicans have been pushing this entire Congress. The federal government is against them, tech companies don’t like them, banks don’t espouse their values, the media is biased against them and law-enforcement agencies are trying to take out their party leader.
Democrats took a careful approach when the indictment news broke. They universally deployed the “No one is above the law, not even a former president” mantra. Literally every Democrat used this line. And yes, it’s true.
Democrats also said Trump has the right to a robust legal defense, but they warned that neither he nor his allies should incite violence or attempt to interfere in the Manhattan criminal case.
Here’s Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer:
“[Trump] will be able to avail himself of the legal system and a jury, not politics, to determine his fate according to the facts and the law… I encourage both Mr. Trump’s critics and supporters to let the process proceed peacefully and according to the law.”
The White House, as expected, has no comment on the situation. President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will head to Mississippi today to meet with survivors of last week’s devastating tornado.
News Analysis: “A President Faces Prosecution, and a Democracy Is Tested,” by Peter Baker
“At Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Camp Is Caught Off Guard,” by Maggie Haberman
— Jake Sherman, Andrew Desiderio and John Bresnahan
PRESENTED BY META
Field trips in the metaverse will take learning beyond the textbook.
Students learning about prehistoric eras will use virtual reality to take field trips to the Ice Age and visit the woolly mammoths. As a result, students will not only learn their history lessons – they’ll experience them.
The metaverse may be virtual, but the impact will be real.
Tuberville won’t budge as senators contemplate endgame
News: Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s (R-Ala.) office has asked the GAO if the Pentagon’s abortion access policy is subject to congressional review, the latest twist in a Senate drama that has left crucial military promotions on hold.
Tuberville has been blocking more than 160 promotions over what he sees as an overreaching Defense Department policy directive that grants paid leave and travel reimbursements for servicemembers seeking abortion services.
Senate Democratic leaders have been hammering the Alabama Republican all week on the floor and during press conferences, accusing Tuberville of playing politics with military readiness. But Tuberville insists he won’t back down until the Defense Department’s abortion policy is rescinded or suspended.
“I’m used to this,” Tuberville, a former college football coach, told us. “I stood on the sidelines with thousands of people screaming and yelling at me and throwing beer bottles at me. I’ve had zero beer bottles thrown at me in the Senate yet.”
The GAO request is notable because it gives Tuberville a possible off-ramp: Demanding a vote to overturn the policy in exchange for lifting his holds on military promotions.
But Tuberville suggested to us that a disapproval vote wouldn’t, on its own, lead him to lift his holds. What’s more, Tuberville said he’s had “zero communication” with Senate Democratic leaders about a possible negotiation.
“I’m not doing this to be hard-headed,” Tuberville said. “First of all, what can we do to compromise? And let’s get on [with it].”
One potential compromise pushed by Republicans would be for the Pentagon to suspend its abortion policy and allow the Senate to vote on the issue as part of the debate over the annual defense authorization later this year.
This seems unlikely. First, we don’t expect the Pentagon to back down from the policy, and secondly, a large cohort of Democrats — led by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) — has been publicly urging Defense Department leaders to maintain the abortion policy amid the GOP criticism.
We had an extended conversation about this issue with Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Jack Reed (D-R.I.), too. Here’s what he said:
“One thing we can’t do is allow military nominations to be political tokens. Because what goes around comes around. Next week it’ll be somebody else…
“It’s very disruptive to the military both in terms of the readiness and the leadership, but also in terms of the families and the decision to stay and serve. So we have to work this out and it has to be a reasonable solution. Demanding a policy change is not reasonable.”
Several Senate Republicans indicated to us earlier this week that while they agree with Tuberville on the abortion policy, they don’t think military promotions should be used as leverage.
Yet other GOP senators are backing Tuberville. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), a member of GOP leadership, said Tuberville is right to use military promotions to get “a definitive answer” from the Pentagon regarding his concerns with the abortion policy.
“I don’t think we should get Tommy Tuberville to stand down,” Tillis said. “We should get DOD to stand up.”
So how does this all end? Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told us he believes that “sensible Republicans, maybe quietly, will go to Tuberville and say this is a real danger to American security and a loser for the Republican Party.”
An exasperated Schumer added: “If one person plays this game, everyone is going to play this game… If everyone did it, we’d wreck the military. We’d have no military.”
— Andrew Desiderio
It’s dues time! Have your favorite House Dems paid up?
If you know Punchbowl News, then you know we love covering which lawmakers have — and haven’t — paid their dues to the party campaign arms. Last cycle, drama over House Democratic contributions to the DCCC reached a boiling point when then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi complained that her colleagues weren’t ponying up enough cash.
We’ve got our hands on the most recent dues report that covers the first two months of 2023.
Some stand-out numbers:
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries has already raised $14.4 million for DCCC. This is a huge number and is already almost halfway to his $30 million goal. Jeffries has also paid half of his dues, $550,000 toward a $1.1 million goal.
Pelosi has already paid $300,000 of her $500,000 dues assessment. More importantly, Pelosi – a legendary fundraiser – has raised $1.6 million and funneled another $350,000 to Frontline members. She trails only Jeffries on that front.
House Minority Whip Katherine Clark has paid $500,000 of her $880,000 in dues and has raised $2.2 million of the $3 million she is expected to raise.
DCCC Chair Suzan DelBene raised $7 million for DCCC, more than half of her $12.5 million goal this cycle. DelBene has also paid roughly a third of her $630,000 dues.
Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (Ill.) has already raised $2.6 million for the DCCC, far surpassing his $300,000 goal. Krishnamoorthi is also part of a select group of just four non-leadership members — including Reps. David Trone (D-Md.), Jared Huffman (Calif.) and Jason Crow (Colo.) — who have paid more than half of their dues already.
Fourteen members are in the 25% to 50% range, 44 are in the 1% to 24% category and 109 members haven’t paid a cent in dues yet. But it’s still early. We’re just a couple of months into the 2024 cycle — there’s plenty of time!
Read the full document here.
— Max Cohen
PRESENTED BY META
Mace, a two-term member of Congress is an advocate for small businesses and wants to ease federal regulations that make it harder for those kinds of companies to operate. Mace is also trying to woo fellow Republicans to support cannabis legalization, which she says is a “no-brainer.” You can watch our interview with Mace here.
Missed our previous profiles? Follow the links to read about what Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens, and Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Ohio) are doing to grow their local economies and boost job-creation.
Check back with us in coming weeks for what’s next with The Leaders as we wrap things up.
… AND THERE’S MORE
Rep. August Pfluger (R-Texas), one of the party’s up-and-coming fundraisers, raised north of $1 million in the first quarter and gave $200,000 to his colleagues. Pfluger is from a very safe GOP seat, so the cash is an extra flex.
Dell Technologies has hired Akin Gump – including former Texas GOP Rep. Lamar Smith – to lobby on “[f]ederal policy including federal funding, international issues, defense and national security issues.”
– Jake Sherman
PRESENTED BY META
All times eastern
8 a.m.: President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will leave the White House for Andrews, where they will fly to Jackson, Miss. Karine Jean-Pierre will brief en route.
10:40 a.m.: The Bidens will arrive in Jackson and then travel to Yazoo City, Miss.
12:25 p.m.: The Bidens will get a briefing by state, local and federal officials in Rolling Fork, Miss.
1:55 p.m.: The Bidens will meet with community leaders and local residents.
2:25 p.m.: Biden will speak about his “commitment to supporting the people of Mississippi as they recover and rebuild from the devastating storms.”
4 p.m.: The Bidens will leave Mississippi for Philadelphia, where they are scheduled to land at 7 p.m.
7:10 p.m.: The Bidens will arrive in New Castle, Del.
“Kushner Firm Got Hundreds of Millions From 2 Persian Gulf Nations,” by Jonathan Swan, Kate Kelly, Maggie Haberman and Mark Mazzetti
“Lobbyists Begin Chipping Away at Biden’s $80 Billion I.R.S. Overhaul,” by Alan Rappeport
“U.K. Joins Trans-Pacific Partnership as It Seeks to Diversify International Commerce,” by Max Colchester in London and Peter Landers in Tokyo
“U.S. Considers Asking Black Americans on Census if They Are Slave Descendants,” by Michelle Hackman and Paul Overberg
“Taiwan’s leader, in US, stresses security for her island,” by Ellen Knickmeyer, Michael Weissenstein in New York and Lisa Mascaro
Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. Political ads courtesy of AdImpact.
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The metaverse will give doctors new tools to make decisions faster.
In the ER, every second counts. Doctors will use the metaverse to visualize scans and quickly make decisions, helping patients get the specialty care they need in a timely manner.
The metaverse may be virtual, but the impact will be real.
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