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The districts that worry House GOP leadership the most

Lights reflected on a curtain reveal the shape of the GOP elephant
Photo: L.E. Baskow/AFP via Getty Images

The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC endorsed by House Republican leadership, announced it will be spending $48 million on initial ad reservations in 30 competitive congressional districts for the fall 0f 2018 — the first outside conservative group to do so ahead of the midterms.

The bottom line: This is a huge ad spend for an outside group so early on in the election cycle, and the 30 districts targeted reveal which areas across the country that House Republican leadership are most concerned about come November. Most of the targeted districts align with the Cook Political Report's "Republican Toss-Up" rating.

Between the lines: CLF is running ads in several districts across the country where incumbent House Republicans are hoping to retain their seats in districts Hillary Clinton won in 2016.

  • But what's more interesting to note: Some of the targeted districts are in places that didn't lean blue in 2016 and aren't currently considered toss-ups by Cook — especially in traditionally Republican-leaning states like Texas, Kansas, and Kentucky.

By the numbers

  • For comparison: In the last election cycle, CLF announced its first reservation of $10 million in August 2016.

Television Reservations: CLF is spending $38 million in 20 districts. Here are the six districts with the most money being spent:

*Indicates a district Clinton won in 2016

  • MN-08 (Open), $2.6 million 
  • *TX-07 (Culberson), $2.45 million (TU)
  • *CA-10 (Denham), $2.35 million (TU)
  • *MN-03 (Paulsen), $2.3 million (TU)
  • *CA-45 (Walters), $2.3 million
  • *CO-06 (Coffman), $2.3 million (TU)

Digital Spending: CLF is spending $10 million in 30 Districts.

*CA-10 (Denham); *CA-21 (Valadao); *CA-25 (Knight); *CA-45 (Walters); *CO-06 (Coffman); FL-18 (Mast); FL-26 (Curbelo); IA-01 (Blum); *IL-06 (Roskam); IL-12 (Bost); KS-02 (Open); *KS-03 (Yoder); KY-06 (Barr); ME-02 (Poliquin); MI-08 (Bishop); *MN-03 (Paulsen); MN-08 (Open); NC-13 (Budd); NE-02 (Bacon); NJ-03 (MacArthur); *NJ-07 (Lance); NY-22 (Tenney); *NY-24 (Katko); PA-01 (Fitzpatrick); PA-17 (Rothfus); *TX-07 (Culberson); TX-23 (Hurd); VA-02 (Taylor); WA-05 (McMorris Rodgers); *WA-08 (Open)

Worth noting: The launch also comes less than a week after Speaker Paul Ryan announced he is not running for reelection, a move that has added to concerns that House Republicans may be facing a wave against them this fall.

Editor's note: This post has been corrected to note that CLF is targeting 30 congressional districts, not 50.

Mike Pompeo’s first foreign trip

Mike Pompeo
CIA Director Mike Pompeo testifies on worldwide threats. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

If he is confirmed as Secretary of State tomorrow, Mike Pompeo will embark on his first foreign trip as secretary to Brussels for the NATO Summit, Axios has learned. Bloomberg first reported the contingency planning for the potential trip.

The details: “The acting secretary John Sullivan is ready to go to the NATO summit in Brussels Thursday,” a senior administration official told Axios. “The secretary-designate Mike Pompeo is prepared to travel to the meeting of foreign ministers to reaffirm our commitment to NATO and coordinate the alliance’s response to Russian aggression.”

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect the latest developments.

Haley Britzky 15 hours ago
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Cohen is pleading the Fifth in Stormy Daniels case

Michael Cohen walking next to photographers.
Michael Cohen. Photo: Yana Paskova/Getty Images

Michael Cohen is excersising his Fifth Amendment rights regarding his role in the payoff of former porn star Stormy Daniels, according to court papers he filed on Wednesday, CNN reports.

What they're saying: Cohen wrote in the filing that "[b]ased upon the advice of counsel, I will assert my 5th amendment rights in connection with all proceedings in this case due to the ongoing criminal investigation by the FBI and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York." Trump has previously said, "If you're innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?"