Four D.C. heavy hitters with WNY ties
Major endorsements flow into St. Louis mayoral race
Seeing double: Phillip Huffines could seek to join twin Don in Texas Senate
Axiom Strategies receives five awards for excellence


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American virtue of integrity in politics is collapsing.
National Review

There is humor in almost everything, even the fast-motion collapse of honesty and integrity in American political discourse. On Tuesday the Washington Post (no, not the Onion) actually published a piece by former Obama national security-adviser Susan Rice titled, “When the White House twists the truth, we are all less safe.” Yes, that happened. The woman who went on every major Sunday-morning news program after the Benghazi terrorist attacks and told flat-out falsehoods about its nature and motivations is now lecturing America about integrity. A person who was one of the chief national-security officials when the Obama administration was spinning false narratives about the Iran nuclear deal actually wrote this: The foundation of the United States’ unrivaled global leadership rests only in part on our military might, the strength of our economy and the power of our ideals. It is also grounded in the perception that the United States is steady, rational, and fact-based.

More than 200 migrants feared drowned.

More than 200 migrants are feared dead in a boat sinking off the coast of Libya, a Spanish aid organisation says. Proactiva Open Arms said it had recovered five bodies floating near two capsized boats, which can each hold more than 100 people. The group's Laura Lanuza said the five they pulled from the Mediterranean were young men who appeared to have drowned. A spokesman for Italy's coast guard, which co-ordinates rescues, confirmed the five deaths. But he told the BBC that they could not confirm the estimates of deaths given by Proactiva, and said they had received no distress calls from any boats. Ms Lanuza said at least 240 migrants may have died as the boats were often overloaded by smugglers. "We brought on board five corpses recovered from the sea, but no lives," the group wrote on its Facebook page. "It is a harsh reality check of the suffering here that is invisible in Europe."

Health care bill vote rescheduled for Friday.

After calling off the health care vote today, a source in House leadership now says the plan is to vote tomorrow, CBS News’ Catherine Reynolds reports. Multiple members confirmed the timing, although it’s still not clear whether or not the measure has the votes to pass the House. White House OMB Director Mick Mulvaney came to the GOP conference with a message to deliver: Negotiations are over. He told them President Trump wants a vote tomorrow, and then he will move on to his other priorities. If Republicans fail, we are stuck with Obamacare, Mulvaney warned, and we all get blamed. The Congressional Budget Office also released a new score for the bill Thursday. It’s unlikely to change any minds, given that the manager’s amendment earlier this week had a minimal impact on the score. The numbers of uninsured remained unchanged (there are still expected to be 24 million more people uninsured under the AHCA, than under the ACA in 2026), but the revised measure would be a little worse for deficit reduction, cutting $151 billion, instead of the $337 billion in the original bill. The higher costs are a result of the repeal of some of the Obamacare taxes, other changes to the tax code and to Medicaid per capita allotments.

Trump climbs into an 18-wheeler.
The Hill

Donald Trump, trucker in chief? That's the role the president briefly assumed Thursday when he climbed into the drivers seat of a Mack 18-wheeler parked on the South Lawn of the White House. Trump, who wore an "I Love Trucks" button on his lapel, tried his best to emulate a truck driver: He enthusiastically pumped his fists, made a series of facial expressions that lit up the Twittersphere, and excitedly tooted the big rig's horn at least six times. And Trump clearly didn't run out of gas: following his spirited session of trucker role play, he met with truckers and CEOs from the American Trucking Association to discuss healthcare. "No one knows America like truckers know America," he said during the meeting. "You see it every day. You see every hill, and you see every valley and you see every pothole in our roads that have to be rebuilt."

Iowa lawmaker files paperwork for gubernatorial run.

A Democratic state lawmaker has filed paperwork to consider running for Iowa governor in 2018. Rep. Todd Prichard of Charles City announced Thursday that he's formed an exploratory committee for the upcoming gubernatorial race. Prichard, an attorney and veteran, says in a press release that he's considering a run because he disagrees with the current Republican administration's efforts on jobs and wages. One Democrat, former Iowa Department of Natural Resources director Rich Leopold, already has announced a run for governor. Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds is widely expected to launch a formal gubernatorial campaign. Records show she has more than $1 million in campaign funds. If Gov. Terry Branstad is confirmed by the U.S. Senate as ambassador to China, Reynolds will be sworn in as governor.

Trump delivers ultimatum on Obamacare.
The Hill

Donalt Trump is done being nice. The president on Thursday night gave an ultimatum to House conservatives, telling them he’ll leave ObamaCare in place unless they get on board with White House-backed legislation to repeal and replace the seven-year-old healthcare law. At a dramatic closed-door House GOP conference meeting, Trump’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney, delivered the message to rank-and-file Republicans: After weeks of talks, Trump is done negotiating the bill and wants a vote on Friday, according to a source in the room. The House had been set to vote Thursday on the American Health Care Act (ACHA), but the vote was delayed after Trump and leadership couldn’t corral the necessary 215 GOP votes. If the vote fails Friday, Mulvaney warned, Trump will move on to other priorities like tax reform, and ObamaCare will stay as the law of the land. Mulvaney attended the Thursday night meeting in the basement of the Capitol along with White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and top Trump aides Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway.

Collins gets a shot at a longtime enemy, Cuomo

Rep. Chris Collins, a conservative from Western New York and a top ally of President Donald Trump, has long loathed Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the state's tough-nosed and ambitious Democratic governor. Collins delivered a blow to his nemesis on Monday by pushing a last-minute provision in the Republican health care law that could blow a $2.3 billion hole in the governor's budget — and then he ignored Cuomo's phone call Tuesday to complain. Collins' amendment was an unusual provision in an expansive bill that affected only one state. The bill would bar federal reimbursements for state Medicaid funds raised from local governments. In essence, it would force the state to pick up the portion of Medicaid that counties now pay. The move left some in Washington puzzled. But many in New York knew exactly what was up.

Bone no longer sporting a sweater in his new look.
Washington Examiner

Ken Bone, the undecided voter best known for his mustache and red sweater, has a new look. In a post to Twitter on Wednesday the man who became an Internet sensation after the second presidential debate debuted what he called the "Spring Ken" look at a local town hall meeting. His new get-up notably replaces a red sweater for a red vest. Bone also included a brief public service announcement. "Get informed about local government! It impacts your life more than the feds," he said. Bone, whose look inspired many Halloween costumes last year, has fallen out of the spotlight in recent months following the election, but still commands a Twitter following of over 200,000 users.

Joe Piscopo ‘more serious’ about NJ governor bid.
The Hill

Joe Piscopo says he’s now considering a New Jersey gubernatorial run as an independent, rather than as a Republican. The choice came down to the April 3 registration deadline to file as a Republican in the state’s primary, the 65-year-old “Saturday Night Live” alum told the Associated Press on Tuesday. "I am more serious about this than ever before. We're coming up with initiatives. It's all working out.” The deadline to declare in the primary as an independent is June 6. "I'm very, very excited to have an opportunity to help the people of New Jersey. I'm not being coy. I'm very careful and respectful," Piscopo, a radio host, said. Piscopo, known for his roles as Frank Sinatra and Jerry Lewis on “SNL,” has long flirted with a potential gubernatorial bid.

Illinois lawmakers introduce bill to legalize marijuana.

Illinois State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) and Illinois State Representative Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) introduced identical legislation Wednesday in both General Assembly chambers to legalize and tax recreational marijuana for adults in the state. Senate Bill 316 and House Bill 2353 would legalize the possession of up to 28 grams of marijuana and allow facilities to sell marijuana products for adults over 21 and tax those sales "in a manner similar to alcohol." The bill also calls for marijuana to be regulated in similar ways as alcohol, thus requiring purchasers to show proof of age, sales to anyone under 21 would be illegal, driving under the influence would remain a crime and any marijuana sold in the state would be subject to testing, labeling and regulation as a consumer protection measure. Steans also said the taxes collected from legal marijuana sales would help plug holes in the state budget. "Legalizing and taxing marijuana will not and should not solve all of our budget woes, but it should be a part of the conversation about resolving Illinois' worsening budget problems. Every bit of new revenue will help to close the governor's $5 billion budget gap," she said.

5 dead in London terror attack near Britain’s Parliament.

A knife-wielding man went on a deadly rampage in the heart of Britain's seat of power Wednesday, plowing a car into pedestrians on London's Westminster Bridge before stabbing a police officer to death inside the gates of Parliament. Five people were killed, including the assailant, and 40 others were injured in what Prime Minister Theresa May condemned as a "sick and depraved terrorist attack." Lawmakers, lords, staff and visitors were locked down after the man was shot by police within the perimeter of Parliament, just yards (meters) from entrances to the building itself and in the shadow of the iconic Big Ben clock tower. He died, as did three pedestrians on the bridge, and the police officer. A doctor who treated the wounded from the bridge said some had "catastrophic" injuries. Three police officers, several French teenagers on a school trip, two Romanian tourists and five South Korean visitors were among the injured. Police said they were treating the attack as terrorism. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

The election wasn’t stolen by Moscow.
Jonathan Tobin, National Review

The assumption that WikiLeaks altered the outcome is still nonsense. No matter how the White House tries to spin the testimony of FBI director James Comey to the House Intelligence Committee on Monday, the damage can’t be denied. Though it merely confirmed what everyone already knew, Comey’s statement that an investigation into possible collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign has been going on since last summer provides ammunition for the president’s critics. Even more than Comey’s willingness to add his voice to those officials who have dismissed the president’s foolish tweets about the alleged wiretapping of Trump Tower, the FBI inquiry gives a measure of credence to the conspiracy theories about Russia that liberals have been using to undermine the president.

Special elections worth watching in 2018.
The Hill

Five special elections are scheduled for the first months of President Trump’s new term, offering an early chance to see how the national political mood and the young administration could play into 2018’s midterms. While a majority of the seats likely won’t change parties, Democrats are seeking to test if anti-Trump backlash helps them flip seats ahead of 2018. Republican candidates, meanwhile, will see whether tying themselves closely to Trump boosts their chances in general elections. Here are the five open-seat House races to watch: California’s 34th District The special elections will kick off in Los Angeles on April 4 in a 23-candidate, all-party primary to replace Xavier Becerra, who left the seat to become California’s attorney general. The deep blue, heavily Latino district is expected to remain in Democratic hands. Candidates are playing up their progressive credentials in an area where Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) defeated Hillary Clinton by a few points in the Democratic presidential primary...

Sasse: ‘How in the world is Gorsuch able to go so many hours at a time without peeing?’
Washington Examiner

Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse wondered aloud about Judge Neil Gorsuch's "SCOTUS bladder" at Tuesday's Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on the federal judge's Supreme Court nomination. Tuesday's hearings gave senators a chance to ask the Supreme Court nominee about any topic, so the Nebraska Republican chose to start off talking about Gorsuch's sparing bathroom use. "My wife also sent me a text a little bit ago and said, and I'm sure she didn't expect me to read it, but 'How in the world is Gorsuch able to go so many hours at a time without peeing?'" Sasse asked as the room erupted in laughter. "I won't make you answer. "The SCOTUS bladder is something the whole country stands in awe of."

For Democrats, 2018 won’t be easy.
The Boston Globe

Donald Trump won the White House and Republicans hold majorities in the US House and Senate, but Democrats have held out hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel. History suggests that by the time the midterm elections come along, the party not holding the White House will make significant gains. Just as Republicans took over Congress in 1994 and 2010 two years into a new president’s term, so too would Democrats take over Congress in 2018 and push back on Trump’s agenda. That isn’t likely to happen. Democrats need a tremendous amount to go right politically next year for them to even have a shot at a majority in either house of Congress.

Trump signs funding bill to send astronauts to Mars.

President Donald Trump has signed a bill authorizing $19.5 billion in funding for NASA, which includes an increased focus on deep space exploration and a new goal of a manned mission to Mars. The NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017, or S. 442, provides funding for fiscal year 2018, which begins October 1. It specifically appropriates money for NASA’s deep space exploration, including the Space Launch System and the Orion spacecraft, as well as for the ongoing medical monitoring and treatment of astronauts. It builds on the current public-private partnership for space, with commercial companies transporting American astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) and NASA focusing on deep space and the mission to Mars. “For almost six decades, NASA’s work has inspired millions and millions of Americans to imagine distant worlds and a better future right here on Earth. I’m delighted to sign this bill,” Trump said. “With this legislation, we support NASA’s scientists, engineers, astronauts and their pursuit of discovery. We support jobs. It’s about jobs, also.”

Falling trees kill at least 19 at Kintampo waterfall in Ghana.
New York Times

A rainstorm toppled trees onto people at the Kintampo Waterfall in Ghana, killing at least 19, most of them students who were visiting and swimming at the popular tourist site, officials said on Monday. The bodies of 13 high school students, three university students and three local residents had been recovered at the waterfall in the Brong-Ahafo region, about 250 miles north of the capital, Accra, according to Siegfried Kwame Addo, a municipal official in Kintampo. Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia of Ghana led a delegation of officials who visited relatives of those who died to express the government’s condolences, the state-owned Ghana News Agency reported. Mr. Bawumia told the bereaved families the government would provide burials. He described the accident as a “tragic shock to the nation” and asked the relatives of the dead, as well as the chiefs and people of Kintampo, to remain calm and allow the security agencies to investigate, the news agency reported.

Conversations with Judge Gorsuch.
J. Bishop Grewell, National Review

A lawyer recounts the wisdom of a valued mentor. Ten years ago, I received my first advice from Neil Gorsuch. He was new to the Tenth Circuit. I was a young man working for one of his colleagues. When I said that I’d met the woman I would marry — she and I had dated for two months — a fellow clerk pronounced the prediction premature. “Not so,” said Judge Gorsuch. He recognized that his own wife Louise was the one almost immediately after he met her at Oxford. He and I were right. Every year, Judge Gorsuch and Judge Tymkovich, for whom I clerked, invite their past clerks to a ski trip on the slopes of Breckenridge, Colo. I don’t ski, but I go for the conversation. Judge Gorsuch and I love the law, although we spend our time talking about books, family, and living the good life.

Comey’s testimony became two separate hearings.
Business Insider

FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Mike Rogers took to Capitol Hill Monday to testify during what became essentially two separate hearings before the House Intelligence Committee. Democrats on the panel were focused on drawing connections between President Trump, his campaign, and Russian interference in the 2016 election. Their Republican counterparts appeared to wage war on the leakers of classified information to the press, particularly those who provided the information that led to Michael Flynn's ouster as national-security adviser. In a number of circumstances, Democrats and Republicans both used their opportunities to ask questions of Comey and Rogers to enter lengthy statements into the record that neither director could provide answers to...

Sen. Daniel Biss announces run for Illinois Governor.

The Democratic field for Illinois governor is adding one more candidate. State Sen. Daniel Biss announced Monday he is joining the growing list of Democrats challenging Gov. Bruce Rauner in his bid for re-election in 2018. Biss, who represents the 9th District, announced his candidacy during a Facebook live, saying he "plans to build a movement to take our state back from wealthy and insider interests." In his announcement, Biss answered questions from users on a number of topics, including how he plans to combat President Donald Trump's stance on immigration, how he plans to fund Illinois' education system and whether or not he thinks Speaker Michael Madigan should remain in office. Biss told Illinoisans they can "resist [Trump's] actions at every turn" and proposed a law that would protect people from the "unethical actions from the Trump administration." He said he was in favor of an elected school board in Chicago and supported term limits for politicians, saying Madigan has "been there too long."

John Elway endorses Neil Gorsuch for Supreme Court.
Washington Examiner

Former Denver Broncos quarterback and NFL legend John Elway on Monday gave his "highest recommendation" for Judge Neil Gorsuch to be confirmed for the Supreme Court. "A native of Colorado, Neil has demonstrated tremendous intelligence, character and fairness while serving for more than a decade on the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit," Elway said in a letter released on the first day of Gorsuch's confirmation hearings. "His credentials, integrity and sound moral compass are major reasons why he's already received so much bipartisan support for his nomination." The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, where Gorsuch has served since 2006, is located in Denver. Elway became general manager of the Broncos in 2011.

GOP leaders unveil changes to healthcare bill.
The Hill

House Republican leaders on Monday night released a set of changes to their ObamaCare replacement bill as they seek to win more votes for the legislation. The changes include two measures that conservative Republican Study Committee members won at the White House on Friday: allowing states to require Medicaid recipients to work and allowing states to choose a Medicaid block grant over the cap system in the current bill. The revisions also include a change targeted at New York state, which is expected to bring on board several wavering Republicans there. That change would cut off federal Medicaid reimbursement for county contributions to Medicaid. New York Republican lawmakers argue this will relieve counties from having to pay into Medicaid and lead to property tax relief for constituents. Democrats are already labelling the New York move as a “backroom amendment.”

9/11 families sue Saudi Arabia in terror attacks.

Hundreds of families of Sept. 11 victims are suing the government of Saudi Arabia, alleging the kingdom knowingly provided material support and resources to al-Qaeda and facilitated the terror attacks that killed thousands in New York, the Washington, D.C. area and Pennsylvania. Fifteen of the 19 plane hijackers in the Sept. 11 attacks were Saudi nationals. The lawsuit was filed in New York City Friday by law firm Kreindler & Kreindler. The families accuses Saudi Arabia of raising and providing money to al-Qaida for terrorist activities, including terrorist training camps in Afghanistan, safe houses, weapons and false passport and travel documents, according to the lawsuit.

Cruz crushes his foes in Gorsuch confirmation hearing.
Susan Wright, RedState

This is what we need, if we want to see men like Neil Gorsuch make it through confirmation hearings: solid endorsements from men like Senator Ted Cruz. Notably, Senator Cruz pointed out that a decade ago, Gorsuch was confirmed for the Federal Court of Appeals and he was apparently fine with the same Democrats who are attacking him, now. Are there different standards of competence and fitness to wear the robe, in the eyes of Democrats? Senator Mike Lee suggested that Gorsuch would get the 60 votes needed for confirmation.

Axiom Strategies wins four Pollies in Huntington Beach.
American Association of Political Consultants

The Pollie Awards are the most prized and sought-after awards in the political communications and public affairs industries. Every entry – whether submitted by a large consulting company or an individual consultant – is considered equal in competing for honors of excellence. A blind jury of professional peers selects AAPC award winners. The 2017 Pollie Award results are in and Axiom Strategies is proud to be taking home more awards for direct mail than any other Republican firm in the nation once again! This includes:
• The Best Direct Mail in a Congressional Race: Martha McSally in Arizona
• The Best Direct Mail in a Gubernatorial Race: Doug Burgum in North Dakota
• The Best GOTV Direct Mail: Ted Cruz for President in Iowa
• The Best Use of Social Pressure: Roy Blunt in Missouri
Congrats to our team and all this year's winners!

Cruz warns against plans that raise premiums.

Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said if the Republicans and President Donald Trump repeal and replace Obamacare and premiums continue to rise “people will be ready to tar and feather us in the streets.” Cruz said, "My biggest concern with the House bill is it doesn’t lower premiums.” He added, “If Republicans hold a big press conference and pat ourselves on the back that we have repealed Obamacare, and everyone’s premiums keep going up, people will be ready to tar and feather us in the streets and quite rightly.”

Report: Uber president to resign.
The Hill

Uber president Jeff Jones is quitting his post at the technology company, Recode reported on Sunday. Sources told the news outlet that Jones determined the current conditions at Uber were “more problematic than he realized.” The news of his departure comes after a series of scandals for Uber in 2017. Uber CEO Travis Kalnick in February apologized after video emerged of him arguing with an Uber driver. That same month, a former engineer wrote a blog post describing experiences with sexual harassment during her time a the company. Uber announced Jones’ hire in August of 2016, according to the company’s website.

Uncertainty on who or how many people were wiretapped.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes was on Fox News Sunday... the whole interview is much more nuanced and has a lot of good stuff... Rather than give you the whole transcript I’m going to break it up into pieces. We don’t know who, if anyone, in Trump’s campaign was wiretapped incidentally. WALLACE: As I said, we’re going to get to the unmasking issue, which is a serious issue, in a moment. But is — do you know what he’s talking about? Is there any evidence of any surveillance, electronic surveillance — NUNES: Well, if he’s talking about the unmasking of names, and so if there were other surveillance activities where names were picked up and then unmasking occurred, and that was spread throughout the intelligence community, that is very — that is very possible, and we don’t have the answers to those questions yet. I don’t know if the president has those are not. But we had a deadline of Friday for the NSA, FBI and CIA to get us those names that were unmasked through the FISA system. We didn’t get those names on Friday. So until we get those names, we can’t rule this out.

All eyes on China as U.S. signals new tack on North Korea.
New York Times

Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson signaled on Friday that the Trump administration was prepared to scrap nearly a decade of United States policy toward North Korea in favor of a more aggressive effort to eliminate the country’s nuclear weapons program. Whether that means pre-emptive action, which he warned was “on the table,” will depend a great deal on how China responds. North Korea relies on Chinese trade and aid to keep its economy afloat, and China has long been unwilling to withdraw that support. Up to 40 percent of the North’s foreign currency — essential for buying goods abroad — comes from a network of about 600 Chinese companies, according to a recent study by Sayari Analytics, a Washington financial intelligence firm. Mr. Tillerson went to China on Saturday, a day after saying in Seoul, South Korea, that the United States would not negotiate with North Korea on freezing its nuclear and missile programs.

Gorsuch presents Dems with two paths.
New York Times

When it comes to the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Neil M. Gorsuch, Senate Democrats appear to have two options: Get out of the way or get run over. Senate Republicans’ enthusiastic backing of President Trump’s nominee ensures majority support even before the confirmation hearing begins Monday. But the Republicans also hope that enough Democrats are won over by Judge Gorsuch — or recognize the inevitability of his confirmation — that they join in efforts to head off an explosive showdown over a filibuster. Should Democrats ultimately deny the judge the necessary backing to clear the way for an up-or-down vote, Republicans seem more than ready to take the potentially volatile procedural steps to eliminate the 60-vote threshold on high court picks and summarily install him over Democratic objections. In either case, Judge Gorsuch winds up on the Supreme Court, filling the vacancy created by Justice Antonin Scalia’s death in February 2016.