Good Monday morning. Administration insiders say they expect President Trump's Supreme Court pick today or tomorrow, moved up from Thursday. The announcement will touch off Washington's biggest battle since the election, with millions spent on each side, including massive campaigns in the states of key senators.
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Friends and colleagues say President Trump, chief strategist Steve Bannon and policy guru Stephen Miller think they're off to a terrific start. They see complaints about the travel ban as media misinformation and hype — amplified by Republicans they don't like and that they know will never like them.
On a conference call with reporters last night, a senior administration official said: "It really is a massive success story in terms of implementation on every single level."
And asked about the softening yesterday of the administration's stand on green-card travelers from the seven restricted countries, a senior administration official told our Jonathan Swan: "The only issue is the media created an issue that never existed, and then asked us to resolve an issue that never existed. … The EO [executive order] is not going to be changed."
Despite the bravado, others who are high-up inside the administration worry that the ham-handed handling of the ban and its rollout are indicative of bigger problems ahead. These sources say:
"Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that's my goal, too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today's establishment." —Steve Bannon in 2013, as quoted by the Daily Beast
Jim VandeHei and I posted an updated list of chief strategist Steve Bannon's power plays and signs of his rising clout: Understanding his worldview is the Rosetta Stone to Trump's rhetoric and actions.
In an above-the-fold N.Y. Times front pager, "Adviser Seizes A Security Role From Generals," Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman add this layer: "People close to Mr. Bannon said he is not accumulating power for power's sake, but is instead helping to fill a staff leadership vacuum created, in part, by Michael Flynn's stumbling performance as national security adviser. Mr. Flynn still communicates with Mr. Trump frequently, and his staff has been assembling a version of the Presidential Daily Briefing for Mr. Trump, truncated but comprehensive, to be the president's main source of national security information."
Their colleague David Sanger has palace intrigue on Bannon's elevation to the National Security Council's Cabinet-level principals' committee, "and the diminishment of the president's top intelligence and military advisers": "[M]ilitary officials said they suspected that the decision, in part, was prompted by the national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn … Throughout the transition, Mr. Flynn was reportedly hesitant to place many people around the National Security Council table who had outranked him in the military."
… when the White House press secretary briefs at 1:30 p.m.:
Snapchat, expected to file for its IPO late this week, "boldly compares itself with TV" in conversations with investors, per Mashable. One media executive who talks to the big platforms said: "Facebook, Amazon, even Apple are willing to write massive checks, tens of millions, hundreds of millions, to build specific content for that platform."
—Why Snapchat plans more shows: "Few on the street recognized Peter Hamby, Snap's head of news and host of 'Good Luck America,' when he was a political reporter at CNN. Now, he's the 'Snapchat guy.' Exclusivity, Snapchat says, means quality."
Axios' Kim Hart draws on her wide sourcing and deep experience for "Why tech CEOs fear Trump": "[T]hey fear Trump will single them out for outsourcing jobs or shut down the so-called H-1B visa program they use to hire high-skilled foreign employees for crucial engineering and technical jobs."
A Wall Street Journal front-pager sets up the week with "The Rally's Next Test: Can Earnings Keep Up With Stock Prices?":
Jack Quinn, White House counsel to Bill Clinton, will leave Quinn Gillespie & Associates in March to begin a new "Law and Strategy" venture based in D.C. Quinn told us he likes practicing law and will use that umbrella to build a network for corporations that need help with investigations, litigation or expansion.
Quinn will also serve as a senior adviser to Burson-Marsteller, keeping him in the WPP family, and will expand his advisory and investment activities with emerging companies and technologies.
Just posted … "Samantha Bee to Roast Trump on Same Night as Correspondents' Dinner," by NYT's Dave Itzkoff: "Ms. Bee … and her colleagues are planning a counter-event that will take place in Washington on April 29, the same night as the Correspondents' Association dinner."
Wednesday is National Signing Day, when highly recruited high-school athletes commit for college, with the most prized recruits theatrically donning the winning cap for their local news or even ESPN. But it looks like this is the last year for the spectacle, since the NCAA is creating a new signing period in December.
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