Mike Allen
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Russia erupts: "I'm President and you're not"

Evan Vucci / AP

In an interview out this morning, President Trump tells TIME Washington Bureau Chief Michael Scherer, in response to a question about the risk to his reputation caused by false and ever-changing utterances: "Hey, look, I can't be doing so badly, because I'm President and you're not."

That "My Way" approach is part of the reason the Russia story has been festering, and now is erupting.

Health-care reform will be dead and born again many times before its true fate is sealed. That's how complicated legislation works.

But the Russia story is going from fishy, to career-ending (Manafort, Flynn), to investigation-worthy, to FBI criminal probe, to a wide, Watergate-like scandal that could bring all of government to a halt:
  • House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), without informing his Democratic counterpart, saying he "recently confirmed that on numerous occasions, the intelligence community incidentally collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition." (What he revealed, what he didn't.)
  • Trump saying he feels "somewhat" vindicated.
  • Feds have evidence suggesting Trump associates coordinated anti-Hillary releases with Russians.
  • The Manafort contract: You don't pay $10 million to play small ball. You pay it to blow up enemies.

If you read only 1 paragraph: Watergate was a coverup of a burglary. This could be the coverup of a nuclear-armed U.S. nemesis that infiltrated our politics with the specific aim of disrupting the very foundation of our democracy — a presidential election — and did so, possibly, in a manner that elected its preferred candidate and locked in all party control that could decimate the opposition party for years.

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1 big thing: Russia erupts

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) speaks to reporters in the White House driveway after meeting with Trump / AP's Pablo Martinez Monsivais

In an interview out this morning, President Trump tells TIME Washington Bureau Chief Michael Scherer, in response to a question about the risk to his reputation caused by false and ever-changing utterances: "Hey, look, I can't be doing so badly, because I'm President and you're not."

That "My Way" approach is part of the reason the Russia story has been festering, and now is erupting.

Health-care reform will be dead and born again many times before its true fate is sealed. That's how complicated legislation works.

But the Russia story is going from fishy, to career-ending (Manafort, Flynn), to investigation-worthy, to FBI criminal probe, to a wide, Watergate-like scandal that could bring all of government to a halt:

If you read only 1 paragraph ... Watergate was a coverup of a burglary. This could be the coverup of a nuclear-armed U.S. nemesis that infiltrated our politics with the specific aim of disrupting the very foundation of our democracy — a presidential election — and did so, possibly, in a manner that elected its preferred candidate and locked in all party control that could decimate the opposition party for years.

Bulletin ... APNewsAlert at 6 a.m., "US probes banking of ex-Trump campaign chief": "Treasury Department agents have recently obtained information about offshore financial transactions involving President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman."

"[T]he information about Paul Manafort's transactions was turned over earlier this year to U.S. agents working in the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network."

2. What Comey knew

CNN's Pamela Brown, Anderson Cooper and Evan Perez

After a day of surprises, CNN popped the biggest one at 8 p.m.: "The FBI has information that indicates associates of ... Trump communicated with suspected Russian operatives to possibly coordinate the release of information damaging to Hillary Clinton's campaign," per CNN's Pamela Brown, Evan Perez and Shimon Prokupecz.

  • "[T]hat information ... includes human intelligence, travel, business and phone records and accounts of in-person meeting.
  • "The information is raising the suspicions of FBI counterintelligence investigators that the coordination may have taken place, though officials cautioned that the information was not conclusive and that the investigation is ongoing."
  • "One law enforcement official said the information in hand suggests 'people connected to the campaign were in contact and it appeared they were giving the thumbs up to release information when it was ready.'"

Yesterday's events will increase pressure for independent commission ... Nick Kristof column in N.Y. Times, "'A Smell of Treason in the Air,'" postulates "soft collusion": "The fundamental question now isn't about Trump's lies, or intelligence leaks, or inadvertent collection of Trump communications. Rather, the crucial question is as monumental as it is simple: Was there treason?"

3. Frantic White House scrambles for deal

The White House, short of votes with time running out, worked into the night trying to cut a deal with conservatives before tonight's wild House vote on Obamacare:

  • How it could pass ... Axios' Jonathan Swan tells me one key may be for the White House to make big enough changes that the hard right can say it was a victory for Trump, not Speaker Paul Ryan. The hardline House Freedom Caucus will return to the White House late this morning. Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), who now holds the whip hand on the Hill, told Sean Hannity that he is "really optimistic we can get there ... The President and I came to an agreement in principle."
  • Why it might not ... The bill could still be brought down by moderates — worried that they could lose their seats over the real-life effects of a bill that has no chance of passing the Senate. The Koch organization last night announced a "seven-figure fund" to sink the bill. (Axios' Caitlin Owens: "Trumpcare gives more money to the rich, less to the poor.")

The Sunday shows foretold ... "Trump's awkward alliance with Ryan faces biggest test," by L.A. Times' Noah Bierman and Mike Memoli: "Ryan has learned that his wonky style of communication is wasted on Trump given the president's lack of interest in policy details, [former GOP leadership aide Michael] Steel said. But he has come to value Trump's eagerness to exert pressure on wavering Republicans."

Missed opportunity ... George Will's column in the WashPost points out that "whatever replaces the ACA's tapestry of subsidies, regulations and mandates will be a tapestry of subsidies, regulations and mandates ... hardly ... a revolution in the relation of the citizen, or the health-care sector, to the government."

4. Trump Tantrum looms on Wall Street

After eight hours of debate, House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas) and Vice Chair Tom Cole (R-Okla.) listen to arguments from committee chairs yesterday as the panel shapes the final version of the health-care bill before it goes to the floor / AP's J. Scott Applewhite

"Investors extrapolated that a stalling bill could mean uphill battles for other Trump proposals," per Reuters' Megan Davies and Rodrigo Campos in N.Y:

  • "Any hint of further trouble for Trump's agenda, especially his proposed tax cut, could precipitate a stock market correction."
  • "Strategists have been cautioning for weeks that markets are pricing in a scenario where nothing goes wrong with Trump's agenda."
  • "While investors and strategists have said they do not see an immediate threat to the eight-year-old bull market, there is a risk of a 5-to-10 percent drop. Only a bear market -a 20 percent decline- would put an end to the bull."
  • Nicholas Colas, chief market strategist at Convergex, a global brokerage company based in New York, in a research note: "U.S. equities have been priced for perfection since the start of 2017 and (Tuesday) was a rude reminder that the legislative process is imperfect."

5. "Attack on democracy ... knifed Britain in the heart"

Breaking ... "Seven held after Westminster attack" — BBC/London: "Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the 'working assumption' was that the attack was linked to 'Islamic terrorism in some form.'"

The Guardian: "Seven arrested in six counter-terrorism raids in London, Birmingham and elsewhere."

6. Amazing Trump quotes

TIME's new cover, "Is Truth Dead?," echoes the typography of TIME's classic "Is God Dead?" cover from April 8, 1966. In a phone interview from the Oval on March 22, Trump told TIME's Michael Scherer:

  • On accusing President Obama of wiretapping: "I'm a very instinctual person, but my instinct turns out to be right. I have articles saying that it happened."
  • "When I said 'wire tapping,' it was in quotes."
  • On his unsubstantiated claim that 3 million undocumented immigrants voted illegally, Trump said he would be proved right eventually, though he hinted that he no longer stood by all parts of that claim: "When I say that, mostly they register wrong. In other words, for the votes, they register incorrectly, and/ or illegally. I'm forming a committee on it."
  • On Sweden: "I was right about that."

7. Talk of tech

This could cost Google "hundreds of millions of dollars" ... Wall Street Journal, bottom of front page, "AT&T, Verizon Pull Ads From Google Over 'Hate' Videos: Carriers also aim to compete with Google for ad dollars":

  • The cause: "The advertising backlash began in the U.K. following a report in the Times of London about videos made by supporters of terrorist groups. Subsequently, it was found that many American brands continued to be shown alongside controversial clips, prompting the wave of ad cancellations Wednesday."
  • The twist: "AT&T and Verizon, ... in addition to being big advertisers, are building online video and ad services to compete with Google."
  • The outlook: "This probably gets worse before it gets better for Google," said Brian Wieser, Pivotal Research Group analyst, who downgraded Alphabet's stock to hold from buy on Monday because of advertisers' reactions. Google's recent policy changes "did nothing to alleviate concerns."

8. Bite of the day

Sen. John McCain to Greta Van Susteren: "China is ... the only one that can control Kim Jong Un, this crazy fat kid that's running North Korea." (Video)

9. The price of the South’s manufacturing renaissance

"[A]uto parts workers in the American South are poorly paid, barely trained, not protected by unions, and under relentless pressure to produce," according to a Bloomberg Businessweek cover story by Peter Waldman, "Inside Alabama's Auto Jobs Boom: Cheap Wages, Little Training, Crushed Limbs."

  • Why it matters: "Many of the same woes that typify work conditions at contract manufacturers across Asia now bedevil parts plants in the South."

10. 1 fun thing

Instant classic: A video mashup of Sean Spicer scolding and cajoling ABC's Jonathan Karl during their daily sparring session in the briefing room, brought to life by Axios' Rob Groulx, Bubba Atkinson, Stef Kight and Eli Sinkus.

P.S. "It's Not Your Imagination: There are Loads of Jalens in College Basketball" — Wall Street Journal A-Hed: "[T]housands of babies born during the 1990s heyday of Jalen Rose, the 'Fab Five' University of Michigan star, ... are reaching adulthood. This year there are 65 Jalens, Jaylens, Jaylans and other versions ... on Division I basketball teams, up from 58 last year. Six years ago, there were just four."

Featured

Trump needs a "no" man

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

In the West Wing, the single biggest mistake President Trump has made is not elevating someone who can and will say "no" to him, and make it stick.

  • One discouraged confidant, worried that the Russia investigation will be a long-term problem, emailed Axios: "DJT has been sort of brilliant at times about navigating things. But... he was never held accountable by anyone."
  • The N.Y. Times' Tom Friedman wrote a memo to Trump's War Cabinet this morning, urging the "five adults with the most integrity in the Trump administration" to act as Trump's parents.
  • The Daddy for today is burly economic adviser Gary Cohn, according to the juiciest (and last) paragraph of an account by the N.Y. Times' Thrush and Haberman: "In a recent meeting in the Oval Office, Mr. Cohn was speaking when Mr. Trump interrupted him. 'Let me finish,' Mr. Cohn interjected ... Trump, unaccustomed to ceding the floor, let him make his point."

No one else does that. Frank Bruni writes in his N.Y. Times column today, "Tweeting Toward Oblivion," that Trump's demons are winning: "He can tweet, or he can govern. ... Trump is no victim. He's the luckiest man alive — or has been, until now." This is the week that it either runs out — or the series gets extended.

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1 big thing: "Let me finish"

Trump and HHS Secretary Tom Price arrive on Capitol Hill yesterday to rally support on health-care reform / AP's J. Scott Applewhite

Trump's need for Yes Men ... and even greater need for No Men (and Women).

Tomorrow night's pivotal healthcare repeal vote in the House — on Day 63 of the Trump presidency — will be super-tight. One on-the-scene vote counter tells me that 4 more hard nays would kill it.

Leadership aides and top lobbyists tell us it'll ultimately pass for a single reason: Given the country's political geography (and House Republicans' well-founded fear of primaries), in the end, the bubble members are going to have trouble saying "no" to Trump personally.

But on "Morning Joe," Joe Scarborough says he talks to members who are no longer afraid of Trump — they're frustrated by him.

In the West Wing, the single biggest mistake Trump has made is not elevating someone who can and will say "no" to him, and make it stick.

One discouraged confidant, worried that the Russia investigation will be a long-term problem, emails: "DJT has been sort of brilliant at times about navigating things. But ... he was never held accountable by anyone."

"Here's the lesson: ... When you operate by the seat of your pants for too long, you will eventually get tripped up."

Tom Friedman's N.Y. Times column today is a memo to Trump's War Cabinet ("the five adults with the most integrity in the Trump administration"), urging them to act as Trump's parents.

The Daddy for today is burly economic adviser Gary Cohn, according to the juiciest (and last) paragraph of an account by the N.Y. Times' Thrush and Haberman of White House aides' "nearly paralytic inability to tell Mr. Trump that he has erred or gone too far on Twitter."

"In a recent meeting in the Oval Office, Mr. Cohn was speaking when Mr. Trump interrupted him. 'Let me finish,' Mr. Cohn interjected ... Trump, unaccustomed to ceding the floor, let him make his point."

No one else does that. Frank Bruni writes in his N.Y. Times column today, "Tweeting Toward Oblivion," that Trump's demons are winning: "He can tweet, or he can govern. ... Trump is no victim. He's the luckiest man alive — or has been, until now." This is the week that it either runs out — or the series gets extended.

2. Breaking

"Manafort's plan to 'greatly benefit the Putin Government,'" by AP's Jeff Hortwitz: "Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, secretly worked for a Russian billionaire to advance the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin a decade ago and proposed an ambitious political strategy to undermine anti-Russian opposition across former Soviet republics."

  • "The work appears to contradict assertions by the Trump administration and Manafort himself that he never worked for Russian interests."
  • "Manafort pitched the plans to Russian aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska, a close Putin ally with whom Manafort eventually signed a $10 million annual contract beginning in 2006."
  • "In a statement to the AP, Manafort confirmed that he worked for Deripaska in various countries but said the work was being unfairly cast as 'inappropriate or nefarious' as part of a 'smear campaign.'"

3. Will the Trump Rally become the Trump Tank?

The lunchtime Fox Business headline blared: "STOCKS DROP AMID UNCERTAINTY OVER REPUBLICAN HEALTH CARE PLAN." And, even more, tax reform. The Wall Street Journal's "Heard on the Street" column yesterday afternoon: "Why Trump's Tax Cut May Be Later and Smaller Than Investors Think."

Stocks yesterday had their biggest slide sine the election, "as investors rethink the crowded Trump trade," per WSJ p. B1. The S&P 500 fell 1.24% — the first 1% drop since way back in October.

Many market watchers are wondering if this is the official end of the Trump rally, Axios' Chris Matthews writes from New York.

A survey of money managers circulated yesterday among Bank of America clients suggests it is:

  • Reasons for optimism: Investors believe that 2017 will bring us both higher global growth, higher corporate profits, and lower corporate taxes. More than half of respondents say tax reform will get done this year.
  • Reasons for pessimism: A higher share of investors say the market is overvalued than at any point since 2000. A plurality think that the eventual trigger for a recession will be Federal Reserve rate hikes.

4. Calculus and calendar

Rebecca Zisser / Axios

  • "Why the Trumpcare vote could hurt Republicans no matter how they vote," by Axios' Caitlin Owens and Bob Herman: Members are "left with a terrible choice: Vote against Obamacare repeal after campaigning on repeal for seven years, or vote to cover 24 million fewer people and potentially raise premiums for senior citizens."

"It's not every day — or maybe ever — that the far-right, the left and nearly every health care group are on the same page. But these three different factions all oppose the House bill. It's mainly establishment Republicans that support it."

Chris Krueger of Cowen Washington Research Group has the paragraph of the day in his D.C. Download:

"The GOP is going to attempt legislative Triple Lindy: pass AHCA [GOP's American Health Care Act] in House Thursday night, use reconciliation in Senate next week & final vote around Friday (3/31), then House eats Senate bill before April 7 Recess. Using Recess as a hammer is a tried and true strategy, though this requires an ironclad deal in Senate within a week."

Krueger's calculus:

  • 70% chance for House passage Thursday.
  • 40% odds of the Triple Lindy.

Drew Altman, president and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation, moves his column to Axios! His debut, "Why deductibles would rise under the GOP health care plan": "When advocates of the AHCA talk about expanding choice of lower cost plans, keep in mind that they are focusing on the premiums, not the overall costs to consumers."

5. Quote of the day

SecState Tillerson last week with Gen. Vincent K. Brooks as a North Korean soldier takes a pic through a window at the U.N. Command Military Armistice Commission in the border village of Panmunjom, which separate the two Koreas / AP photo

SecState Rex Tillerson, to IJR's Erin McPike: "I didn't want this job. I didn't seek this job. ... My wife told me I'm supposed to do this. ... When he asked me at the end of that conversation to be secretary of state, I was stunned."

McPike: '"He was so cagey when Russia came up ... that his answer wasn't even worthy of inclusion."

6. #1 point from Court confirmation

At yesterday's hearing, Supreme Court Justice nominee Neil Gorsuch talks about playing basketball with former Justice Byron White / AP's Susan Walsh

Judge Neil Gorsuch endured 11-plus hours of Senate questioning yesterday during his Supreme Court confirmation hearing. Today is third and likely last day. AP says he's "largely unscathed."

Asked about Trump's "so-called judge" tweet, Gorsuch said: " I find that disheartening, I find that demoralizing."

Tom Goldstein of SCOTUSblog had this read-between-the-lines on NPR's "All Things Considered":

"The big issue in the law between conservatives and liberals is this thing called originalism ... the idea that you interpret the Constitution the way it was understood when it was written. And other judges, including conservative nominees who've come before this committee before going on the Supreme Court, have said: Well, you know, we don't have one strict rule for how we interpret the Constitution.

"But Judge Gorsuch took the very hard line that Justice Scalia did when he was a justice, and that is: We always look back to how the Constitution was originally understood, and then we apply that to modern problems. So that's a very conservative view of the law."

7. The great ad scam

"Almost 20% of digital ad spending could be wasted," per Axios' Sara Fischer: "A new study estimates that $12.48 billion of ad spending in 2016 was fraud, or was the result in invalid traffic, which is double the earlier $7.2 billion industry estimate."

  • Why this matters: The amount lost to digital ad fraud is greater than the total digital advertising revenue for all of the 80 premium publishers of Digital Content Next, a trade group which includes the AP, NBC, NPR, PBS, Turner and many more.

8. Top-eds

Wall Street Journal editorial, "A President's Credibility": "[T]he President clings to his [wiretapping] assertion like a drunk to an empty gin bottle ... [I]f he doesn't show more respect for the truth most Americans may conclude he's a fake President."

"How the White House Got James Comey Wrong," by New Yorker's Ryan Lizza: "[T]he larger takeaway from the White House's spin is that the top people around Trump may have no idea how much exposure the President has on the issue of Russian collusion."

"Reality creeps into the reality show" — David Ignatius column in WashPost: "He is often described as a narcissist, but he's not suicidal. ... With his approval rating below 40 percent, he needs to broaden his base. Trump wants to disrupt, but he also wants to succeed."

"Falsehoods that endanger national security" — Susan Rice, national security adviser to President Obama, op-ed in WashPost: "U.S. power is frequently a function of our ability to rally other countries ... [S]hould America someday determine that Iran is violating the nuclear accord, we may struggle to convince other nations to re-impose sanctions if they doubt our intentions or the evidence we present."

9. Tops in tech

Uber damage control ... "Uber will release its first diversity report this month," by Axios' Kia Kokalitcheva: "Several journalists pointed out that all executives on the call were women, while CEO Travis Kalanick and board member and investor Bill Gurley were busy with interviewing potential COO candidates. Hornsey and Huffington both said that they were also involved with the COO search."

Steve Case announces: "J.D. Vance, an experienced Silicon Valley tech investor and the bestselling author of 'Hillbilly Elegy,' has joined Revolution LLC as a Partner, where he will work to expand the firm's Rise of the Rest initiative, which shines a spotlight on startup ecosystems located outside of Silicon Valley, New York City, and Boston. Vance's focus will include identifying and investing in startups, and exploring ways to get more institutional capitalto invest in entrepreneurs in these rising cities."

10. 1 fun thing

Few March Madness brackets were left intact after Villanova, last year's champion, was upset in Round 2 by the Wisconsin giant-slayers. The best bracket in D.C. may belong to Greta Van Susteren, who entered a $5 pool at MSNBC and was proudly displaying her entry on the anchor desk when I stopped by last night's show.

Van Susteren, an Appleton native and Packers shareholder, is a 1976 Wisconsin graduate and faithfully picks the Badgers to go all the way every year: "A little bit stupidity, a little bit loyalty."

Featured

Trump insiders fear long, lawyerly fight under the "big gray cloud"

Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

Republicans already thought the day couldn't have gone worse. As David Leonhardt begins his column in today's paper, "All the President's Lies": "The ninth week of Donald Trump's presidency began with the F.B.I. director calling him a liar."

And then a final exchange, ending FBI Director Jim Comey's astonishing five hours of testimony, was considered by insiders to be the most devastating of all, making Trump advisers fear West Wingers will have to lawyer up — and face distractions, legal bills and paranoia.

House Intelligence Chair Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) asked for "any evidence that any current Trump White House or administration official coordinated with the Russian intelligence services."

Comey: "Not a question I can answer."

Nunes persisted: "How about counselor to the president, Kellyanne Conway?"

Comey: "It's the same answer. ... I'm not going to comment on anybody."

By saying that, Comey was putting everyone under Nunes' "big gray cloud." It's a sign that the cloud will last at least for months, maybe longer.

A Trump insider told me: "You flush people out by making a comment like that. You let it sit there, then later go get everybody's email and texts [to see how they reacted to it]. This is how you get a lot of people having to hire lawyers. ... It's what makes people ask: Why do you want to work in a place like that?"

Matt Miller, a Justice Department official under Obama, told me to always take the "over" in how long a federal investigation is going to last: "The underlying thing is huge (potentially) ... Even if the underlying thing ends up not being real, investigations can still produce leaks and charges over cover-up (lying to investigators, obstruction of justice, etc.)."

First look ... David Brock will announce this morning: "American Bridge is calling on the U.S. Senate to hit the pause button on the Supreme Court nomination hearings until such time as the investigation is complete ... If the Judiciary Committee will not halt the hearings, Democrats should walk out and refuse further participation."

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1 big thing: A momentous, ominous day

FBI Director Comey and National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers react to a lawmaker's remark / AP's Manuel Balce Ceneta

Republicans already thought the day couldn't have gone worse. As David Leonhardt begins his column in today's paper, "All the President's Lies": "The ninth week of Donald Trump's presidency began with the F.B.I. director calling him a liar."

And then a final exchange, ending FBI Director Jim Comey's astonishing five hours of testimony, was considered by insiders to be the most devastating of all. House Intelligence Chair Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) asked for "any evidence that any current Trump White House or administration official coordinated with the Russian intelligence services."

Comey: "Not a question I can answer."

Nunes persisted: "How about counselor to the president, Kellyanne Conway?"

Comey: "It's the same answer. ... I'm not going to comment on anybody."

By saying that, Comey was putting everyone under Nunes' "big gray cloud." It's a sign that the cloud will last at least for months, maybe longer.

A Trump insider told me: "You flush people out by making a comment like that. You let it sit there, then later go get everybody's email and texts [to see how they reacted to it]. This is how you get a lot of people having to hire lawyers. ... It's what makes people ask: Why do you want to work in a place like that?"

Matt Miller, a Justice Department official under Obama, told me to always take the "over" in how long a federal investigation is going to last:

"The underlying thing is huge (potentially) ... Even if the underlying thing ends up not being real, investigations can still produce leaks and charges over cover-up (lying to investigators, obstruction of justice, etc.)."

First look ... David Brock will announce this morning: "American Bridge is calling on the U.S. Senate to hit the pause button on the Supreme Court nomination hearings until such time as the investigation is complete ... If the Judiciary Committee will not halt the hearings, Democrats should walk out and refuse further participation."

2. Tops in tech: Augmented reality to iPhone

"Apple's Next Big Thing: Augmented Reality... CEO Tim Cook is betting on augmented reality, a cousin of VR that he believes will keep his company on top and may even supplant the iPhone," by Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, longtime Apple scoop machine:

  • "Apple has embarked on an ambitious bid to bring the technology to the masses — an effort Cook and his team see as the best way for the company to dominate the next generation of gadgetry and keep people wedded to its ecosystem."
  • "Apple has built a team combining the strengths of its hardware and software veterans with the expertise of talented outsiders ... [T]he group includes engineers who worked on the Oculus and HoloLens virtual reality headsets sold by Facebook and Microsoft as well as digital-effects wizards from Hollywood."
  • "Apple is working on several AR products, including digital spectacles that could connect wirelessly to an iPhone and beam content — movies, maps and more — to the wearer. While the glasses are a ways off, AR features could show up in the iPhone sooner."

3. Ivanka moving in to West Wing

Ivanka Trump accompanies her father to Marine One on the South Lawn on Feb. 1 / AP's Evan Vucci

Ivanka Trump, already a powerful force in the West Wing, will be taking an office next to Dina Powell, who will remain in her same West Wing digs with her promotion to Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategy, from her initial role as the President's senior counselor for economic initiatives.

  • A source said Ivanka wants to complete and expand initiatives she has been championing, including legislation on family leave and other issues affecting women who balance workplace and home.
  • With the difficulty of getting traditional policy wins in the current environment, she "will likely focus on smaller initiatives that can still produce results": "Working with Dina, there are opportunities to help women on a global scale ... focused on a business/entrepreneurial perspective, which is ... familiar to both of them."
  • AP's Catherine Lucey reports: "Jamie Gorelick, an attorney and ethics adviser for Ivanka Trump, said ... the first daughter will not have an official title, but will get a West Wing office, government-issued communications devices and security clearance to access classified information. Gorelick said Ivanka Trump would follow the ethics rules that apply to government employees."

4. High drama ahead of Thursday health vote

Happier times: Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), chairman of House Freedom Caucus, shakes with Paul Ryan after his re-election as Speaker in January / AP's J. Scott Applewhite

Axios' Jonathan Swan reports that ahead of the nip-and-tuck health-care vote planned Thursday night, Trump's team is intensely courting Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), chair of the House Freedom Caucus. He was invited to Mar-a-Lago over the weekend, and is in regular touch with Steve Bannon — they text regularly and have 90-second phone calls.

Although other Republicans remain optimistic that Speaker Ryan will pull out a win, Swan talked to Meadows last evening and then posted: "Freedom Caucus chair pessimistic about health bill."

Meadows: "I've now reached a conclusion that our leadership ... will dare us to vote against it."

Why this matters: If the White House loses most of the Freedom Caucus members they can't pass this bill. Meadows was only speaking for himself tonight, but his is a voice to move votes.

House Republicans last night announced "Updates to Strengthen American Health Care Act."

  • AP's Alan Fram and Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar: "Their proposals were largely aimed at addressing dissent that their measure would leave many older people with higher costs. ... Included was an unusual approach: language paving the way for the Senate ... to make the bill's tax credit more generous for people age 50-64."

The closer: Trump travels to the Capitol to meet with House Republicans at 9:15 this morning.

Sam Geduldig and his CGCN Group lobbying firm will email clients today, "Trump's New 'Art of the Deal'": "A victory on the House floor would ... serve as another powerful reminder ... that the noise created by our unconventional president often obscures the real action playing out right in front of us."

5. Laptop ban

Homeland Security plans to bar passengers on certain flights originating in eight Middle Eastern countries from bringing laptops, iPads, cameras and most other electronics in carry-ons starting today, AP reports:

  • "The ban was revealed ... in statements from Royal Jordanian Airlines and the official news agency of Saudi Arabia."
  • "A U.S. official [said] the ban will apply to nonstop flights to the U.S. from 10 international airports serving ... Cairo in Egypt; Amman in Jordan; Kuwait City in Kuwait; Casablanca in Morocco; Doha in Qatar; Riyadh and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia; Istanbul in Turkey; and Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates."
  • U.S. officials told Reuters the new ban was "in response to an unspecified terrorism threat."

6. Hot spots

"Trump administration weighing broad sanctions on North Korea," by Reuters' Matt Spetalnick and David Brunnstrom:

  • "U.S. officials, including [SecState] Tillerson, had privately warned China about broader 'secondary sanctions' that would target banks and other companies that do business with North Korea, most of which are Chinese.
  • "The move under consideration would mark an escalation of Trump's pressure on China to do more to contain North Korea."
  • "[E]xpected to reach the president's desk within weeks, possibly before a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping in early April ... North Korea is expected to top the agenda at that meeting."

7. Futurecast: The coal industry is sick — and it's terminal

Data: Energy Information Administration, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

Like much of Trump's rhetoric surrounding the manufacturing industry, talk of a resurgence of coal jobs ignores economic realities, Axios' Shane Savitsky writes:

  • The energy market has moved past coal, and those jobs simply aren't coming back.
  • Robots are more of a threat than regulation: Any coal revival would mean putting autonomous trucks to work in Wyoming — rather than miners in West Virginia.

8. Fox pulls Judge Napolitano

"Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano is being kept off the air indefinitely amid the controversy over his unverified claims that British intelligence wiretapped Trump Tower at the behest of former President Obama," per L.A. Times reporter Stephen Battaglio.

"Napolitano was conspicuously missing from the network's coverage of the confirmation hearings on Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch — an event in which he typically would have played a significant role. He has not been on the air since Thursday. People familiar with the situation ... said Napolitano is not expected to be on Fox News Channel any time in the near future."

9. Joe and Mika interview with Variety

Andy Kropa/Invision/AP

"'Morning Joe' Duo Reach Tipping Point: What was it that made MSNBC's Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski finally turn on Donald Trump?" by Brian Steinberg in Variety:

Brzezinski, on Kellyanne Conway's comment that a microwave can be a surveillance camera: "[N]ow my microwave is named Kellyanne. And every time I open it, which is frequently, because I don't cook, I say, 'Thank you, Kellyanne!'"

How do you feel about reports that the president has stopped following you on Twitter?

Scarborough: "That's good news."

Brzezinski: "It's probably healthy."

Scarborough: "He doesn't understand that you step into the White House and you get ripped to shreds whether you are Barack Obama or Bill Clinton or George W. Bush."

You've been on the air for nearly a decade. Do you have any new ideas or concepts you'd like to try?

Brzezinski: "I like vintage 'Morning Joe.' Tweaking a show is always the death of the show."

Scarborough: "Every time we think of trying a new concept, or every time a consultant has come in with their ideas, if we ever move off center course, things always go badly. We always go back to basics, and the basics are Willie [Geist], Mika, and Joe talking about whatever we want to talk about."

Full Variety interview will post here this morning.

10. 1 fun thing: Red Bull courage

"Red Bull gives you wings" — and attitude? ... "Drinkers who have vodka Red Bulls at greater risk of injury than other drunk people since they have excess energy":

"A review of 13 medical reports reveals high rate of injury in people who mix alcohol with highly-caffeinated drinks like ... Red Bull ... Researchers [at the University of Victoria] in Canada ... believe the increased risk of injury boils down to the person's excessive energy, which drives them to be reckless."

Featured

The White House looks for a trifecta

Alex Brandon / AP

It's the first day of spring, and the White House hopes that a trifecta this week of trade, health care and the Supreme Court will be the start of a points-on-the-board phase — after a spate of tempests that helped push Trump's Gallup approval rating to a low of 37%, down 8 points from the week before:

  • White House officials tell me that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross met with President Trump at Mar-a-Lago this weekend to walk POTUS through an aggressive trade agenda for the coming weeks, including five executive orders that are slated to begin rolling out this week.
  • Thursday night is the epic House vote on health care. The votes aren't there yet, but a Republican lobbyist tells me Speaker Ryan had to be The Gambler: "It was either call the hand, or fold."
  • And today at 11 a.m. is the start of an expected four days of Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing for Judge Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court. Opponents admit it was a savvy pick that already looks like a win for the White House.

What it means: Trump has a new runway for showing capacity to lead, govern and cut deals — a chance for the Art of the Donald to prevail over the self-inflicted din. Allies pray that past performance is not an indicator of future outcomes.

Featured

Axios AM

1 big thing: Points on the board

Trump talks to the press aboard Air Force One at Palm Beach International Airport yesterday, accompanied by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft / AP's Manuel Balce Ceneta

First day of spring … The White House hopes that a trifecta this week of trade, health care and the Supreme Court will be the start of a points-on-the-board phase — after a spate of tempests that helped push Trump's Gallup approval rating to a low of 37%, down 8 points from the week before:

  • White House officials tell me that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross met with President Trump at Mar-a-Lago this weekend to walk POTUS through an aggressive trade agenda for the coming weeks, including five executive orders that are slated to begin rolling out this week.
  • Thursday night is the epic House vote on health care. The votes aren't there yet, but a Republican lobbyist tells me Speaker Ryan had to be The Gambler: "It was either call the hand, or fold."
  • And today at 11 a.m. is the start of an expected four days of Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing for Judge Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court. Opponents admit it was a savvy pick that already looks like a win for the White House.

What it means: Trump has a new runway for showing capacity to lead, govern and cut deals — a chance for the Art of the Donald to prevail over the self-inflicted din. Allies pray that past performance is not an indicator of future outcomes.

2. Digital shakeup for both parties

In the third part of their series on campaign data, Sara Fischer and Kim Hart go inside the ways competitive politics sharpened data tools and tactics:

"After Trump's surprise victory, sources say a major operational shakeup is in store for Democrats, who've enjoyed the lead in the digital race for nearly a decade. GOP operatives, who significantly grew their data and ground games since 2008, are continuing to develop big data platforms and new media tactics to better target specific voters while also broadening their base."

3. Hot spots

North Korean leader Kim Jon Un watches ground jet test of a Korean-style high-thrust engine in undated photo provided Sunday / Korean Central News Agency via Reuters

"North Korea rocket-engine test shows 'meaningful' progress," by Reuters' Ju-min Park in Seoul: "[A]n analyst said it was a dangerous step towards the North's goal of developing a rocket that could hit the United States. [The regime's] news agency said ... the engine would help North Korea achieve world-class satellite-launch capability, indicating a new type of rocket engine for an intercontinental ballistic missile."

"The North's announcement of a successful engine test came as U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was in Beijing at the end of his first visit to Asia for talks dominated by concern about North Korea."

Palace intrigue ... "What China wants from Trump," by Jonathan Swan: "The Chinese ambassador in Washington — Cui Tiankai, a silky operator — has been focusing intensely on the White House rather than the State Department, particularly cozying up to Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.

"One source says Cui has been dealing mostly with Kushner, and has been AWOL at State. Tillerson ... should be responsible for that relationship. But he's still got no Asia lead installed at State (and, in fact, doesn't even have a Number Two there)."

4. "Pay raises are back in style" — for CEOs

Shot ... Wall Street Journal lead of B1, "CEO Pay Climbs With the Market," by Theo Francis and Joann Lublin: "Median pay for the chief executives of 104 of the biggest American companies rose 6.8% for fiscal 2016 to $11.5 million, on track to set a post recession record."

Chaser ... Financial Times, top of second front, "Wall Street chill: Analysts rein in profit outlook as risks emerge to record-breaking stocks rally," by Adam Samson and Nicole Bullock in N.Y.: "Earnings for companies listed on the S&P 500 index ... are predicted to rise 9 per cent in the first quarter, ... a reduction from the 12.3 per cent expected at the start of this year."

5. Wall Street frets over fate of corporate tax cut

Axios' Chris Matthews writes from New York: "Between Election Day and March 1, the S&P 500 rose nearly 11%, but has fallen 0.17% in the roughly three weeks since. This loss of momentum indicates that investors are beginning to worry about the fate of corporate tax reform, as the debate over healthcare is revealing broader divisions among Republicans in Washington, according to the Wall Street Journal."

  • Why it matters: Corporate tax cuts are the simplest way for Washington to cheer up Wall Street — Goldman Sachs recently estimated that the House GOP tax reform plan would boost S&P 500 income by 10%, more than enough to justify the recent run up in stocks. But a closer look at the data shows that investors have lost some confidence in the Republican Party's ability to shepherd major corporate tax relief into law.

6. Hot in Silicon Valley

Axios' Kia Kokalitcheva writes from S.F. ... Uber's executive exodus continues: Jeff Jones, the former Target CMO who joined Uber six months ago as its president of ride-sharing, has left the company. While Jones says it's because his values conflict with Uber's, the company has strongly hinted that it has to do with its search for a COO to become CEO Travis Kalanick's No.2.

Uber's head of mapping, former Googler Brian McClendon, is also leaving, according to the N.Y. Times. He's leaving on amicable terms and will pursue politics in Kansas, where he grew up.

What's next? One of the biggest remaining questions is what exactly happened. Jones' departure seemed abrupt, and he made a pointed statement about Uber's culture and values to Recode — not what you'd expect from a seasoned brand expert who worked at public companies.

@DanPrimack: "Makes sense that Jones is leaving Uber after not getting #2 job. Spilling out into open also makes sense as he may not have vested yet."

Techmeme's influence in Silicon Valley: In a profile of Techmeme founder Gabe Rivera ("Meet The Man Whose Site Mark Zuckerberg Reads Every Day"), BuzzFeed looks at the news aggregator's enduring influence on Silicon Valley's news consumption.

It's the go-to source for top tech execs like the CEOs of Facebook, Google, and LinkedIn, and the tech press regularly reads it even if it's not necessarily concerned with being included among the links its editors cherry-pick.

7. Tops in media trends

Coming attractions: The newspaper industry's decades-long holy grail, The Daily Me, is coming to fruition — online ...

Liz Spayd reports in her N.Y. Times Public Editor column: "By midyear, The Times will begin an ambitious new effort to customize the delivery of news online ... What readers see when they come to The Times will depend on factors like the specific subjects they are most interested in, where they live or how frequently they come to the site."

"Several ideas are being evaluated. Some, readers will choose, like signing up for alerts when a favorite columnist publishes. Others, The Times will enact on its own. For example, a story could be moved out of the lead position for a reader who has already seen it, or it could be kept in the lead longer for those who come to the site infrequently. Fans of particular subjects might see more of that content visible on their mobile device or home page."

8. "Chronicler of wise guys and underdogs"

"A look back at some of Jimmy Breslin's best columns": "Breslin's legacy was already set in stone by the time his Pulitzer Prize for commentary arrived in 1986. The Pulitzer board honored him for 'columns which consistently champion ordinary citizens.'"

"His award-winning Daily News pieces that year were not his most famous — there were no legends, no murderers. Instead, Breslin's winning works gave a voice to marginalized New Yorkers, like his story about the AIDS epidemic rendered through one gay man dying of the disease."

Best passage in Dan Barry's A1 N.Y. Times obit, "Acidic Yet Empathetic, His Pen Rattled the Mighty in New York":

"With prose that was savagely funny, deceptively simple and poorly imitated, Mr. Breslin created his own distinct rhythm in the hurly-burly music of newspapers. Here ... is how he described Clifton Pollard, the man who dug President John F. Kennedy's grave, in a celebrated column from 1963 that sent legions of journalists to find their 'gravedigger.'"

"Pollard is forty-two. He is a slim man with a mustache who was born in Pittsburgh and served as a private in the 352nd Engineers battalion in Burma in World War II. He is an equipment operator, grade 10, which means he gets $3.01 an hour. One of the last to serve John Fitzgerald Kennedy, who was the thirty-fifth President of this country, was a working man who earns $3.01 an hour and said it was an honor to dig the grave."

9. A Muppet on the spectrum

Julia, an autistic Muppet character debuting April 10 on the 47th season of "Sesame Street" / Zach Hyman for Sesame Workshop, via AP

"A Muppet with autism to be welcomed soon on 'Sesame Street,'" by AP Television Writer Frazier Moore: "Julia, a Muppet youngster with blazing red hair, bright green eyes — and autism[,] ... is one of the gang":

  • "On this friendliest of streets (actually Studio J at New York's Kaufman Astoria Studios, where 'Sesame Street' lives) Julia is about to play a game with Oscar, Abby and Grover. In this scene being taped for airing next season, these Muppet chums have been challenged to spot objects shaped like squares or circles or triangles. 'You're lucky,' says Abby to Grover. 'You have Julia on your team, and she is really good at finding shapes!'"
  • "She makes her TV debut on 'Sesame Street' in the 'Meet Julia' episode airing April 10 on both PBS and HBO. Additional videos featuring Julia will be available online."
  • "Developing Julia and all the other components of this campaign has required years of consultation with organizations, experts and families within the autism community."
  • Jeanette Betancourt, Sesame Workshop's senior vice president of U.S. Social Impact: "In the U.S., one in 68 children is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder ... We're modeling the way both children and adults can look at autism from a strength-based perspective: finding things that all children share."
  • The role of Julia is played by "Stacey Gordon ... a Phoenix-based puppeteer who ... has a [13-year-old] son with autism, and, before she started her family, was a therapist to youngsters on the spectrum."

10. 1 fun thing: Twin toddlers make a break for it

52 million views ... Captured by a Nest monitoring system, 2-year-old twins Andrew and Ryan Balkin of New York City star in a hyperlapse video of their nighttime shenanigans, including pillow forts, gymnastics and an earnest chat on the sofa.

Their parents, Jonathan and Susana Balkin, keep putting them back in their cribs, but the overnight party continues.

Featured

White House sets timeline for tax reform

Evan Vucci / AP

Sean Spicer to Ireland's Sunday Independent newspaper, in an interview during Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny's visit: "We are going to have tax reform after we get healthcare completed ... I think we are looking at late spring to summer."

A prolonged fight over healthcare would therefore delay the tax reform push, which Trump considers a top priority.

He said last week of tax reform: "I would've loved to put it first."

Featured

White House factions take fight to front pages

Carolyn Kaster / AP

Two White House factions trashed their rivals in mirror-image stories on the Sunday front pages. We have talked to both sides, and they think they know with dead certainty who the sources are. And they're going to react. So this Kremlinology is just beginning to play out.

The feud was at the top the WashPost front page, "Inside White House, a class war brews: Trump's populist aides tangle with N.Y. executives," by Phil Rucker and Bob Costa:

  • "[T]hey are dismissed by their rivals as 'the Democrats.' ... Led by Gary Cohn and Dina Powell — two former Goldman Sachs executives often aligned with Trump's eldest daughter and his son-in-law — the group and its broad network of allies are the targets of suspicion, loathing and jealousy from their more ideological West Wing colleagues."
  • "On the other side are the Republican populists, ... led by chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, who has grown closer to Chief of Staff Reince Priebus in part to counter the New Yorkers."
  • "For the most part so far, the ideologues are winning."
  • "Cohn, Powell and other aides have chafed at Priebus's protocols because he and Deputy Chief of Staff Katie Walsh tried to exert complete control over the president's daily schedule. ... Priebus recently started giving other senior staffers and Cabinet members more influence over ... face time with Trump."

Here's the view from the other faction, in the 12th graf of a New York Times front-pager by Julie Davis and Maggie Haberman:

"Gary Cohn ... is on the rise, and has the ear of the president's powerful son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Mr. Kushner also gained an ally on the National Security Council with the appointment of Dina Powell, a Republican and another former Goldman official who worked with Mr. Cohn, as a deputy for strategy."

Be smart: This is a White House of many factions — by design. Trump likes the chaos but it creates insane levels of rivalry, backstabbing and leaking. This is the rare instance where the hour-to-hour reality is even worse than what you read.

Be even smarter: You think it's a coincidence that every story about Ivanka, Jared and Dina portray them as the sane, soft ones? They want the world to know Operation Normal is underway.