IN MEMORIAM — @SenatorEnzi: “Former Wyoming U.S. Senator MIKE ENZI passed away peacefully today surrounded by his family. His family expresses their deep appreciation for all of the prayers, support and concern. They now ask for privacy and continued prayers during this difficult time. The family is planning to hold a celebration of a life well-lived, with details to be shared later.” More from the Casper Star-Tribune
THIS IS GOING TO BE AN ALL-AROUND TOUGH DAY for House Minority Leader KEVIN MCCARTHY — and to a large degree, it’s a self-inflicted predicament.
The House’s Jan. 6 committee makes its debut this morning.
For the first time across dozens of high-profile Trump-related oversight hearings, Republican leadership and allies will have no voice on the panel. (It’s going to be weird for us Hill watchers who are used to Rep. JIM JORDAN (R-Ohio) lobbing procedural grenades into proceedings to start fights. More on that from Olivia Beavers …)
McCarthy’s rather abrupt decision last week to pull his members from the Jan. 6 committee means that Democrats — and their two GOP allies on this issue, LIZ CHENEY (Wyo.) and ADAM KINZINGER (Ill.) — will have free rein to set the narrative. (This is why several folks on McCarthy’s own leadership team thought that pulling out was a bad idea.)
Here’s how that narrative is shaping up:
— Uniformed police officers who put their lives on the line to defend Congress on Jan. 6 will testify about the horrors they endured that day. Rep. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-Miss.), the chair of the panel, previews their stories in a WaPo op-ed: “[Metropolitan Police officer MICHAEL] FANONE voluntarily rushed to the Capitol … [then] suffered a traumatic brain injury and a heart attack … [MPD officer DANIEL] HODGES can be seen being crushed by the mob as he and his fellow officers sought to defend a narrow hallway leading to a Capitol entrance … [U.S. Capitol Police officer HARRY] DUNN was one of the first officers to speak publicly about … the racial epithets he and others faced. [USCP officer AQUILINO] GONELL, a veteran who had been deployed to Iraq … was beaten with a pole carrying an American flag.”
— Their testimony alone is a public relations disaster for Republicans. The GOP likes to boast that they “back the blue” and are the party of “law and order.” But in snuffing out the possibility of a nonpartisan commission to probe the Jan. 6 attacks, McCarthy effectively brushed aside pleas from law enforcement to authorize the investigation. Now, after pulling out from the select committee, Republicans (save for Cheney and Kinzinger) will be absent as the officers speak.
— Meanwhile, where will some of the most vocal pro-Trump House Republicans be instead? Reps. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-Ga.), MATT GAETZ (R-Fla.), PAUL GOSAR (R-Ariz.) and LOUIE GOHMERT (R-Texas) will head to the Justice Department to protest the “treatment of Jan. 6th prisoners.” (Note the language: not “rioters” charged with violent acts; “Jan. 6th prisoners,” as if locked up for their political views.) This comes as some of the most hardcore Trumpies in the House have sought to cast the siege as a peaceful protest — a rewriting of history that McCarthy, frankly, has done little to push back on publicly.
— Meanwhile, McCarthy wants to focus attention on Speaker NANCY PELOSI’s unprecedented power move last week to block two Republican lawmakers from the Jan. 6 committee. House GOP leaders will have a press conference this morning before the hearing, no doubt looking to try and frame the day’s proceedings.
— But ask yourself this: Do you think McCarthy’s complaints about Pelosi will mollify DONALD TRUMP when he turns on his TV and sees no Republicans on the dais defending him?
What’s next for the probe? Kicking off with nonpartisan cops is a politically smart move for Democrats — who can argue against police in uniform? — but there’s already plenty of chatter about where they go from here. We’ve heard conflicting things from folks close to the committee about whether they’ll subpoena people like then-White House chief of staff MARK MEADOWS or congressional Republicans who spoke with Trump that day. But it’s hard to imagine this probe could be considered complete until they have.
— “Democrats prep a somber yet TV-ready first hearing in Jan. 6 probe,” by Nicholas Wu, Heather Caygle and Olivia Beavers: “Democrats want Americans glued to their TVs Tuesday for the first hearing of the Jan. 6 select committee. They also don’t want a circus. … The four officers will be dressed in their uniforms to testify, despite appearing in a personal capacity. Questions to them will be limited and interwoven with video footage. And members are restricted to one round of back-and-forth, ensuring the hearing lasts only a few hours.”
NEW POLLING ON JAN. 6 — Beyond all of the political jousting is a public that wants more information about what happened on Jan. 6. According to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, 58% of American voters support a congressional commission to investigate the events of Jan. 6. But that support breaks down along party lines: It’s supported by 83% of Democratic voters but just 34% of Republicans (52% outright oppose it).
IN LIGHTER NEWS — “Michigan lawmaker reports $221 campaign spending at strip club,” by the Detroit News’ Beth LeBlanc and Craig Mauger: “A Michigan lawmaker reported spending $221 of his campaign money at a strip club in Dearborn for a March 8 ‘constituent meeting’ to discuss ‘potential economic projects,’ according to a disclosure filed Sunday.”
— Line of the day: “‘We have (to) meet people where they’re at some times … #HOLLA,’ [state Rep. JEWELL] JONES said in a text message after the interview. He added that the club had ‘great lamb chops.’”
JOE BIDEN’S TUESDAY:
— 10:15 a.m.: The president and VP KAMALA HARRIS will receive the President’s Daily Brief.
— 2:20 p.m.: Biden will speak to the Intelligence Community workforce and leadership at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in McLean, Va.
— Noon: The VP will speak virtually to the National Bar Association.
— 4:15 p.m.: The VP will host a conversation along with Interior Secretary DEB HAALAND focused on voting rights, meeting with tribal and other Alaska Native and American Indian leaders.
Press secretary JEN PSAKI will brief at 12:30 p.m.
THE HOUSE will meet at 10 a.m. The Jan. 6 select committee will hold its first hearing at 9:30 a.m.
THE SENATE will meet at 10:30 a.m. to take up TODD KIM’s nomination as an assistant A.G., with a vote at 11:30 a.m. The chamber will recess from 12:30 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. Haaland will testify before the Energy and Natural Resources Committee at 10 a.m. Secretary of Homeland Security ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS will testify before the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee at 10 a.m. American Federation of Teachers President RANDI WEINGARTEN and New York A.G. TISH JAMES will testify before a Banking subcommittee hearing on student loan borrowers at 3 p.m.
NEVER-ENDING INFRASTRUCTURE YEAR
STATE OF PLAY — “High-stakes infrastructure talks stall out as deadline passes,” by Marianne LeVine and Burgess Everett: “Senators capped off a day of trading blame and stalled efforts on their bipartisan infrastructure proposal with a Monday meeting that quickly broke up, signaling a tough path forward as negotiators missed yet another self-imposed deadline.
“The core 10 senators huddled in the office of Sen. ROB PORTMAN (R-Ohio), the lead Republican negotiator, hoping to get past a rough weekend of fruitless talks. … Portman said he was still optimistic about a deal despite rejected offers, finger pointing and impasses. He and White House counselor STEVE RICCHETTI will help finish the deal, negotiators said, with input from the rest of the group. … Senate Majority Leader CHUCK SCHUMER … warned that more foot-dragging could require the Senate to stay in over the weekend or cuts to some of the upcoming August recess.”
THE WHITE HOUSE
MUCK READ — “Brother of top Biden advisor lobbied Executive Office of the President on behalf of GM,” by CNBC’s Brian Schwartz: “The report shows that JEFF RICCHETTI, brother of White House counselor Steve Ricchetti, engaged with the NSC for the car-making giant on ‘issues related to China.’ The company paid Ricchetti $60,000 last quarter for his lobbying services.
“Jeff Ricchetti’s work to lobby the NSC, which is part of the Executive Office of the President, comes as he tries to publicly distance his work from his brother … Jeff Ricchetti said in an email to CNBC that he no longer lobbies the White House Office … He did not answer several other questions, including whom he spoke with at the National Security Council on behalf of GM, and specifically what he was lobbying about with regard to China.”
HERE WE GO AGAIN — “Biden team weighs return to mask mandates in some states,” by Erin Banco, Adam Cancryn and Anita Kumar
IS IMMIGRATION INFRASTRUCTURE? — On Monday, calls grew for comprehensive immigration reform to be added to the reconciliation package, with both Reps. LUCILLE ROYBAL-ALLARD (D-Calif.) and JAMAAL BOWMAN (D-N.Y.) signing on via Twitter — though stopping short of saying they’d otherwise block the legislation. More on that from Roll Call … Bloomberg’s Laura Litvan has the readout on what the policy could look like
ALL IN THE FAMILY — “Matt Gaetz’s Future Sister-in-Law Says He’s a Gaslighting ‘Creep,’” by The Daily Beast’s Roger Sollenberger
THE PANDEMIC CONGRESS — “Pelosi’s new COVID plans,” by Axios’ Hans Nichols: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is expected to extend proxy voting through the fall — and potentially until the end of the year.”
CLEAR EYES, EMPTY SHELVES — “From ports to rail yards, global supply lines struggle amid virus outbreaks in the developing world,” by WaPo’s David Lynch: “Fresh coronavirus outbreaks are forcing factory shutdowns in countries such as Vietnam and Bangladesh, aggravating supply chain disruptions that could leave some U.S. retailers with empty shelves as consumers begin their back-to-school shopping.”
DEEP DIVE — “How Unemployment Insurance Fraud Exploded During the Pandemic,” by ProPublica’s Cezary Podkul: “Bots filing bogus applications in bulk, teams of fraudsters in foreign countries making phony claims, online forums peddling how-to advice on identity theft: Inside the infrastructure of perhaps the largest fraud wave in history.”
IN THE DANGER ZONE — “‘What’s Covid?’ Why People at America’s Hardest-Partying Lake Are Not About to Get Vaccinated,” by Natasha Korecki in Osage Beach, Mo.: “A year ago, Backwater Jack’s made national news after photos went viral of partiers packed inside the pool area, ignoring guidelines to avoid crowds and keep a distance from others. Today, as revelers laugh and toss back drinks in shallow pool water, some 600,000 deaths later, they aren’t just forgoing masks, they are forgoing the vaccine. …
“Interviews with dozens of the clientele frequenting dockside bars, restaurants and resorts in this area … revealed an opposition to the vaccine campaign and a disbelief in news around the Delta variant so intense it bordered on belligerence. No promise, they say, would entice them to voluntarily get vaccinated, not a $1 million check, or a plea from a loved one, or the encouragement of Donald Trump himself.”
THE NEW WAVE — As it becomes ever clearer that a lackluster vaccination rate is imperiling the whole country’s ability to extricate itself from the Covid-19 pandemic, a flurry of activity Monday showed governments getting impatient with cajoling vaccinations and starting to require them — marking “an abrupt shift in policy for some of the nation’s largest public employers,” as Victoria Colliver writes in her 10,000-foot view from Oakland.
— “V.A. Issues Vaccine Mandate for Health Care Workers, a First for a Federal Agency,” by NYT’s Jennifer Steinhauser
— “California government, health workers must show proof of vaccination or be tested regularly,” by L.A. Times’ Luke Money, Emily Alpert Reyes and Taryn Luna
— The legal underpinning: “Federal law doesn’t prohibit Covid-19 vaccine requirements, Justice Department says,” CNN
AMERICA AND THE WORLD
MOMMY, WHY DOES EVERYBODY HAVE A BOMB? — “A 2nd New Nuclear Missile Base for China, and Many Questions About Strategy,” by NYT’s William Broad and David Sanger: “In the barren desert 1,200 miles west of Beijing, the Chinese government is digging a new field of what appears to be 110 silos for launching nuclear missiles. It is the second such field discovered by analysts studying commercial satellite images in recent weeks.
“It may signify a vast expansion of China’s nuclear arsenal — the cravings of an economic and technological superpower to show that, after decades of restraint, it is ready to wield an arsenal the size of Washington’s, or Moscow’s. Or, it may simply be a creative, if costly, negotiating ploy. The new silos are clearly being built to be discovered.”
TODAY’S SPECIAL ELECTION — “Susan Wright, Jake Ellzey make final pitches to voters in runoff to replace Ron Wright in Congress,” by Dallas Morning News’ Gromer Jeffers Jr.
AND THE NEXT ONE — “Left goes all-in for Nina Turner in tightening Ohio race,” by Ally Mutnick in Cleveland: “Desperate for a victory after centrist candidates prevailed in Virginia, New York City and Louisiana, [Rep. ALEXANDRIA] OCASIO-CORTEZ and other stars of the left are barnstorming the district to help [NINA] TURNER in next week’s special Democratic primary — as polls show her once-yawning lead dwindling. …
“While knocking doors last weekend, Turner’s fame was clearly on display. A few voters were visibly starstruck by her appearance on her doorstep, and two told her the stop had made their day. … But the same outspokenness that made her a breakout star at [BERNIE] SANDERS rallies has also handed detractors some ammunition.”
WHAT THE LEFT IS READING — “What the Congressional Black Caucus Lost When It Won Power,” by N.Y. Mag’s Zak Cheney-Rice
QUITE A READ — “Kathy Barnette’s futile hunt for voter fraud outside Philadelphia — and what it says about the GOP,” by Philly Inquirer’s Andrew Seidman: “[As KATHY] BARNETTE energized the denial movement with her futile hunt for voter fraud on Philadelphia’s Main Line, which hasn’t been previously reported, the movement elevated her. She’s now running in Pennsylvania’s critical 2022 Senate race, raising more money than better-known opponents.”
BEG, BORROW AND THIEL — “A political bogeyman of Silicon Valley,” by Axios’ Lachlan Markay: “Tech billionaire PETER THIEL is injecting huge sums into some crucial 2022 midterm contests — and drawing fire from Republicans eager to tie their rivals to the GOP’s Silicon Valley bogeymen. … JOSH MANDEL hit [J.D.] VANCE for positioning himself against Big Tech while he has ‘a guy who is on the board of Facebook as his biggest political funder.’ … Text messages reviewed by Axios show Mandel flagged his candidacy announcement for Thiel and followed up to request meetings with him in February and March. Thiel does not appear to have responded.”
BEYOND THE BELTWAY
THE SHADOW 2024 FRONT-RUNNER — “‘Sellout’: Anti-vax conservatives come for DeSantis,” by Matt Dixon in Tallahassee: “Florida’s Covid crisis has wedged Gov. RON DESANTIS between two competing forces: public health experts who urge him to do more and anti-vaxxers who want him to do less. … [A]s Covid infections swell across the state, DeSantis’ major achievement has the potential to backfire on him ahead of his 2022 reelection campaign and potential 2024 presidential bid.”
THE NEW VOTING RESTRICTIONS — “The Texas Election Bill Contains a New Obstacle to Voting That Almost No One Is Talking About,” by Votebeat’s Jessica Huseman in Texas Monthly: “[M]ost lawmakers have apparently overlooked a provision that would force counties to automatically reject some mail-in ballot applications. … 1.9 million voters — about 11 percent of the total — have only one of the two [required] numbers on file with the state.”
THE MOST VALUABLE GET IN POLITICS — “Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton gets all-important endorsement from Donald Trump over fellow Republican George P. Bush,” by Texas Tribune’s Patrick Svitek
SCARY NEWS — “Former California Sen. Barbara Boxer robbed, assaulted in Oakland,” by the San Francisco Chronicle’s Emma Talley
BARRACK’S ROW — “Tom Barrack Pleads Not Guilty to Foreign Agent Charges,” Variety
THE THREAT WITHIN — “Facebook and tech giants to target attacker manifestos, far-right militias in database,” by Reuters’ Elizabeth Culliford: “A counterterrorism organization formed by some of the biggest U.S. tech companies including Facebook and Microsoft is significantly expanding the types of extremist content shared between firms in a key database, aiming to crack down on material from white supremacists and far-right militias …
“Until now, the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism’s (GIFCT) database has focused on videos and images from terrorist groups on a United Nations list and so has largely consisted of content from Islamist extremist organizations such as Islamic State, al Qaeda and the Taliban.”
LADIES’ NIGHT FOR GOP WOMEN — It’s been eight months since Election Day, but House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (N.Y.) and Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) are hosting a little party tonight at the Capitol Hill Club to celebrate the historic number of Republican women elected to Congress last fall. (We at Playbook fully endorse parties of all sorts, even a quarter-year late!) We hear RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel will attend, too. For context, read Rachael’s story from last fall about the very diverse — and FEMALE! — freshman class
DCCC COVID SCARE — Two fully vaccinated DCCC staffers have tested positive for the coronavirus following a happy hour last week, we’re told by two sources familiar. The DCCC confirmed the cases to Playbook, and said “staff and event attendees were … notified.” “The office is optionally open to fully vaccinated individuals and fully in compliance with CDC guidelines,” the committee said. It’s a reminder that while life returns to something like normal, we’re still in the throes of a historic pandemic. Be safe.
SPOTTED at the 20th anniversary of the First Tee “Politics and Pros” charity golf event Monday at TPC Avenel, where Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), Lyndon Boozer and Baker Elmore got “spirit awards”: Reps. Rick Allen (R-Ga.), Blake Moore (R-Utah), Troy Balderson (R-Ohio) and Carlos Gimenez (R-Fla.), Matt Kuchar, Doug Ghim, Billy Hurley III, Gary Hallberg, Shasta Averyhardt, Jan Stephenson, Ken Harvey, Marty Russo, Bryan Anderson, Mike Johnson, Jesse McCollum, Steve Ubl, Kathryn Kennedy, Robert Fisher, Tony Kavanagh, Michael Hutton, P.C. Koch, Gerry Harrington, Jake Perry, Josh Brown, Tony Russo, Dontai Smalls, Yong Choe, Robbie Aiken, Bryan Jacobs, Rick Lombardo, David Culver, Clint Sanchez, Katie Casper and Will Lowery.
FIRST IN PLAYBOOK — The America First Policy Institute is announcing Ken Blackwell and Hogan Gidley as the chair and director of their center for election integrity. Blackwell is a former Ohio secretary of state, and Gidley was deputy press secretary in the Trump White House.
— Nicole Lewis is joining Slate as senior editor for the jurisprudence section. She most recently has been a staff writer at The Marshall Project, and is a WaPo alum.
MEDIA MOVES — The NYT is shuffling David Halbfinger to be politics editor (most recently Jerusalem bureau chief) and Manny Fernandez to be deputy politics editor (currently Los Angeles bureau chief). Announcement
TRANSITIONS — Keaghan Ames is now director of government affairs at the Institute of International Bankers. He most recently was head of regulatory policy at Credit Suisse. … Bethany Torstenson is joining Harris Media LLC as a senior account executive. She previously was deputy campaign manager for Amanda Makki’s Florida congressional bid.
ENGAGED — Mike Carroll proposed to Mallory Quigley, VP of comms at Susan B. Anthony List, on Friday evening at the National Basilica in the Our Lady of Guadalupe chapel. They both grew up in Gaithersburg and had many friends in common, but never met until they matched on Hinge in the early days of the pandemic. Pic
— Tim Churchill, federal legislative affairs manager at the NRA, and Victoria Snitsar, Virginia field coordinator at American Majority and American Majority Action and an Iowa Trump Victory alum, got engaged Saturday outside the U.S. Capitol building following dinner at Fogo de Chão. They originally met when she was in D.C. for a conference in 2017 and he led her group on a Capitol tour. Pic
WEEKEND WEDDING — Zeke Miller, an AP White House reporter, and Jessie Crystal, a second grade teacher at the Sheridan School, got married Sunday at her family home in Westhampton Beach, N.Y. They were introduced in 2017 by Jessie’s sister and brother-in-law, Lara Crystal and Rob Saliterman. Pic
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Rep. Glenn “G.T.” Thompson (R-Pa.) … Sean Savett … former Rep. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) … Priscilla Painton of Simon & Schuster … Katie Wheelbarger … Alex Wirth of Quorum … Andy Spahn … BuzzFeed’s Paul McLeod … Cecilia Muñoz of New America … Berin Szóka … U.S. Southern Command’s Adm. Craig Faller … RNC’s Johanna Persing … Jeremy Adler of Rep. Liz Cheney’s (R-Wyo.) office … Prime Policy Group’s Stefan Bailey (45) … John Connell of Sen. Todd Young’s (R-Ind.) office (38) … Linda Feldmann … Gaurav Parikh of Smart Policy Group and Significant Consulting … Jason Lindsay … Bobby Cunningham of VH Strategies … Live Action’s Lila Rose … Bobby Saparow … Jeremy Deutsch of Capitol Venture … Anna McCormack of Rep. David Rouzer’s (R-N.C.) office … MSNBC’s Denis Horgan … Juan Mejia … Ashley Howard of Sen. Rob Portman’s (R-Ohio) office … Paul Dranginis … Andrew Grossman … former Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.) … Lauren Aratani … former Commerce Secretary Don Evans … Susan Durrwachter … former CIA Director John M. Deutch … PJ Wenzel
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