Why did Trump insiders instantly know that the "Sheriff of Wall Street," Preet Bharara of Manhattan, would be fired when he resisted President Trump's resignation order to all the holdover U.S. attorneys?
There's a school of thought that the whole purge was about Preet in the first place: He's a maverick, his Southern District of New York is powerful, U.S. attorneys have significant independence, and he has jurisdiction over Trump Tower. And he recently launched a personal Twitter feed.
If Preet ever flexed his muscles to undermine Trump, he'd be hard to stop. Better to ax him when you can.
After news reports yesterday that the prosecutor was resisting, Acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente gave him a buzz. An administration official tattles that Preet "refused to admit that this applied to him."
"As we talked to him and tried to reinforce that it did, he basically said: 'I'm interpreting that to mean you're firing me.'"
Preet then tweeted: "I did not resign. Moments ago I was fired."
The N.Y. Times' Maggie Haberman and Charlie Savage later popped the tantalizing scoop that Trump's office had phoned Preet on Thursday. But the prosecutor hadn't called back because of "protocols governing a president's direct contact with federal prosecutors."
Questions for next week ... Matt Miller of the strategic advisory firm Vianovo, who was a top aide to Attorney General Eric Holder, told me that it's "the manner with which the White House did this that, like so many other things, makes people suspicious about their motives":
As for Preet's future: There's a lot of buzz about him running for New York mayor or some other office: He'd be a great campaigner, and do well in the boroughs. But insiders remind us that he lives in Westchester County ...
"20 million at risk of starvation in world's largest [humanitarian] crisis since 1945, UN says," by CNN's Faith Karimi:
More details in the full statement.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) to George Stephanopoulos on ABC's "This Week": " I would say to my friends in the House of Representatives with whom I served: Do not walk the plank and vote for a bill that cannot pass the Senate, and then have to face the consequences of that vote."
Chaser ... HHS Secretary Tom Price, with Chuck Todd on NBC's "Meet the Press," embraces the bill and points to the non-legislative track: "[T]here are hundreds of regulations that were put in place by the previous administration. We're going to look at every single one of them and answer the questions: 'Does it help patients or harm patients?'"
"Cuomo takes key step toward launching presidential campaign" — N.Y. Post's Aaron Short: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo "has hired two Florida fundraisers, a sign he's building a national network ... The two consultants — one is former Hillary Clinton money man Jon Adrabi — will help plan events and build relationships with Democratic donors in the key swing state."
Cory Booker to Jake Tapper on CNN's "State of the Union": "This is a toxic environment that is being created right now. And I don't care who you are: If you consider yourself a leader, your obligation is getting up and doing something about it — and lead with love, and not appealing to peoples' darker angels."
Tapper: "Are you going to try to take this further than the United States Senate?"Booker: "No ... [I]f you're a senator thinking about being president, you're often not a very good senator."
Ruth Marcus' WashPost column is must reading for anyone in the White House, including the residence — "How will this White House respond to an emergency?":
The WashPost makes a surprisingly boring production of trying to establish residency for White House chief strategist Steve Bannon in "Bannon had no fixed address during his rise," by Bob O'Harrow and Shawn Boburg. Don't waste your life — here are the takeaways:
"Sarah Huckabee Sanders is a rising star in Trump's orbit," by AP's Catherine Lucey and Ken Thomas:
L.A. Times front page, "In Hollywood, conservatives keeping quiet: Some fear that their political beliefs are more of a career liability than ever," by David Ng:
Even if this March seems to have been plenty mad already, March Madness officially begins at 5:30 p.m. ET with the "NCAA Tournament Selection Sunday" show on CBS and the top storyline: "Is Duke (27-8) worthy [!] of a No. 1 seed?" (David Rubenstein, Charlie Rose and Mark Mazzetti say: "Aye!")
The N.Y. Times' Marc Tracy peaks behind the curtain in "N.C.A.A. and CBS Take Steps to Prevent Another Bracket Leak": "The anonymous Twitter poster who leaked last year's ... pairings halfway through CBS's televised selection show is on the minds of a lot of people this weekend." The changes:
Welcome to the beginning! Gus, will you fill out my bracket?
"Saturday Night Live" goes after Ivanka for the first time, with a mock perfume ad: "Every man knows her name. Every woman knows her face. ... She's IVANKA. ... She's beautiful. She's powerful. She's — Complicit. … She's a woman who knows what she wants — and knows what she's doing.
"She doesn't crave the spotlight, but we see her. … A feminist. an advocate. A champion for women. But, like: How? ... Complicit: The fragrance for the woman who could stop all of this. But won't! Also available in a cologne for Jared."
"Alien Attack" cold open on "Saturday Night Live": With the U.S. under attack by aliens from Planet Zorblatt 9, military leader Kenan Thompson informs Alec Baldwin that the aliens just vaporized the state of California and everyone is dead.
The commander-in-chief replies: "Even Arnold? ... Then I won the popular vote? ... I actually heard Zorblatt 9 is very beautiful."