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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
In a closed-door meeting with Iranian-American community leaders last Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the Trump administration is "not going to do a military exercise inside Iran" to expedite a regime change, according to three sources who were in the room, including one who took detailed contemporaneous notes and shared them with me.
Behind the scenes: Pompeo met with around 15 Iranian-American community leaders on Monday morning in a conference room at the Renaissance Dallas Hotel. The secretary gave brief opening remarks and then spent most of the session listening and answering questions.
Pompeo used euphemisms and diplo-speak to describe the administration's position on Iran.
Between the lines: Pompeo said the Trump administration would have handled the 2009 Green Movement uprising against the regime very differently than the Obama administration did. But he did not say how.
Pompeo also distanced the administration from the People's Mujahedin of Iran, or MEK (Mujahedin-e Khalq), an anti-regime group that the U.S. once designated as a foreign terrorist organization.
Why this matters: With Trump as president, Bolton as national security adviser and Pompeo as secretary of state — the American people have never had a government so hostile to the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
The White House and top lawmakers from both parties think a bill to lower drug prices has a better chance of becoming law before the 2020 election than any other controversial legislation, according to numerous sources who spoke with Axios' Caitlin Owens and me.
Between the lines: Republican politics on drug prices have changed rapidly. The White House has told Democrats it has no red lines on the substance of drug pricing — which should make the pharmaceutical industry nervous.
What they're saying: "I think if we get a bipartisan deal on anything, it's going to be this," a senior administration official told Axios, of the thinking at the top level of the White House.
Top lawmakers and lobbyists have told Axios over the last several months that real momentum has been building behind the issue — making them cautiously hopeful in a year when most everything else is dead on arrival on Capitol Hill.
The other side: The drug industry says that government intervention on prices will result in less innovation, and Trump has shown an intense interest in new treatments, perhaps leaving him open to industry persuasion.
What we're watching: Bipartisan bills have already started moving through the House, and Senate Republicans have recently put forward a slate of new bills, some of which could have been written by liberal Democrats.
Go deeper: For details on the bills we're tracking, read our full item.
Eastern fascade of Supreme Court building. Photo: John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images
The 2020 Census will redraw the electoral map and guide billions of dollars in federal spending for the next decade. And critics say the Trump administration is skewing those results by adding a question about citizenship to the census, Axios' Sam Baker writes.
The big picture: The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Tuesday over the citizenship question — about whether it's unconstitutional, if it violates other federal laws, and whether this dispute even belongs in court.
Why it matters: The basic point of the census is to figure out how many people live in the U.S., and where. Countless decisions flow from that, including how many seats each state gets in the House. The survey also includes basic demographic questions, including age and sex.
Between the lines: The Census Bureau itself told Ross that adding the question would make the census less accurate, because some non-citizens will lie or refuse to fill out the survey. It would probably end up undercounting about 6.5 million people, the bureau said.
Critics believe that's the whole point, and sued.
The other side: The Justice Department argues, first and foremost, that this isn't the courts' business, as the Commerce secretary has considerable authority over the census.
What's next: A ruling is expected by June.
A number of Republican Party officials and Trump advisers are studying a trend that has received scant national media coverage but could pose a jarring dilemma for the president: Will Trump have to choose between releasing his tax returns and having his name on the ballot in some blue states for the 2020 election?
The big picture: Illinois is not alone. Per the National Conference of State Legislatures...
"As of February 20, 2017 legislators in 18 states (Arizona, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia) have introduced bills" to require "future presidential candidates to disclose income tax returns in order to be placed on the general election ballot."
The bottom line: None of these bills have been signed into law (yet). But it seems possible — even likely — that at least one blue state might put it in place. And that potential scenario is giving Trump allies pause.
Our thought bubble: Given Trump's determination so far to keep his taxes hidden, it's not crazy to imagine that he'd rather not be on the ballot in a state he's certain to lose than turn over his taxes.
President Trump with First Lady Melania Trump at the 2018 White House Easter Egg Roll. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images
The House and Senate are still on their Easter break.
President Trump's schedule, per a White House official:
Unending gold is buried in the Mueller report. As the Washington Post's book critic Carlos Lozada writes, "the Mueller report is the best book by far on the workings of the Trump presidency ... special counsel Robert Mueller has it all under oath, on the record, along with interviews and contemporaneous notes backing it up."
Here's one remarkable tidbit, from page 285 of the report:
"The next day, on May 11, 2017, the President participated in an interview with Lester Holt. The President told White House Counsel's Office attorneys in advance of the interview that the communications team could not get the story right, so he was going on Lester Holt to say what really happened."
Flashback: The Lester Holt interview became infamous because Trump told the NBC anchor that when he fired FBI Director James Comey, "I said to myself — I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story."
Behind the scenes: This scene in the Mueller report brought back memories for one of my sources who was in the Oval Office with Trump shortly before the Holt interview.