May 15, 2018

A quiet Pence flexes his political muscle in the GOP

Vice President Pence introduces President Trump at a campaign rally in Elkhart, Indiana, on Thursday. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The president "is mostly uninterested in the mechanics of managing a political party. ... So Mr. Trump’s supremely disciplined running mate has stepped into the void," the N.Y. Times' Alex Burns, Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman write. "Republican officials now see Mr. Pence as seeking to exercise expansive control over a political party ostensibly helmed by Mr. Trump."

Why it matters: "Even as he laces his public remarks with praise for the president, Mr. Pence and his influential chief of staff, Nick Ayers, are unsettling a group of Mr. Trump’s fierce loyalists who fear they are forging a separate power base."

  • "Trump and Mr. Pence remain on good terms personally, and the president has largely welcomed the vice president’s political guidance, according to people close to both men."
  • A great scene: "Pence ... joined Mr. Trump for the meeting where the president told Brad Parscale ... that he would manage the 2020 race. Mr. Pence stood behind Mr. Parscale, rubbing his shoulders, as Mr. Trump spoke."
  • Corey's back: "Pence allies sought to tamp down any suspicions of disunity by circulating word via Fox News that Corey Lewandowski, Mr. Trump’s first campaign manager, was signing on as an adviser to the vice president’s political committee."

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Democrats demand new Russia sanctions over 2020 election interference

Putin and Trump. Photo: Kremlin Press Office/Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Senate Democratic leaders will send a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Monday afternoon demanding they sanction Russia — and potentially Russian President Vladimir Putin himself — for attempting to influence the 2020 presidential election.

Why it matters: The letter follows reports that a senior intelligence official briefed Congress that Russia is again interfering in the November election to help Trump. White House national security adviser Robert O'Brien repeatedly rejected that assessment on Sunday, and CNN later reported that the briefer may have overstated the intelligence community's evidence about Russia's goals.