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Because it's Donald Trump's Washington, the news arrived via Twitter at 6:02 pm ET, broken across two tweets: "Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen will be leaving her position, and I would like to thank her for her service....I am pleased to announce that Kevin McAleenan, the current U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner, will become Acting Secretary for @DHSgov. I have confidence that Kevin will do a great job!"
Between the lines: CBS' Paula Reid reported about an hour ago that Nielsen is "expected to resign" in her meeting with Trump tonight, but Trump's ambiguous wording reflects the predictably messy end to this relationship, which was formalized in a meeting in the White House residence, according to a senior White House official.
In a letter to Trump, provided by an administration source, Nielsen wrote:
A source close to DHS tells Mike Allen that tonight's meeting amounted to a showdown: "Frustrations were building on both sides."
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
Speaking to Senate Republicans over lunch, Mitch McConnell dryly mimicked Gerald Ford's inaugural address after the disgrace of Richard Nixon.
Between the lines: McConnell was trying to empathize with a Republican conference that had fretted for weeks about Trump's emergency decision. McConnell publicly supported the president's use of emergency powers, but his message was for the dozen Republicans who would defy Trump that day.
Two of McConnell's top White House allies — White House counsel Don McGahn and chief of staff Gen. John Kelly — had departed. And a tactical foe — White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney — was ascendant.
The big picture: Republican senators have noticed an evolution in McConnell's relationship with Trump. When Trump first became president, McConnell avoided any public disagreement with him. But in the past two weeks, McConnell has condemned two of Trump's ideas as politically disastrous:
Trump quickly backed off of both ideas, and he didn't show any annoyance with McConnell.
The bottom line: Trump and McConnell have a businesslike relationship, and it works for McConnell. The past few months have nearly broken the Republican conference, but don't expect McConnell to become a regular Trump critic.
Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images
Don McGahn, who has kept his head down since leaving as White House counsel, shared some off-the-record thoughts on Thursday in a lunch with about 40 senior Republican Senate aides.
McGahn was invited as part of a regular series of off-the-record lunches. Mitt Romney's staff served Mexican food. And while McGahn mostly praised Trump, he also hinted at the brutality of his tenure, according to sources who were there.
McGahn said a big part of his job as White House counsel was to deregulate and rein in the "administrative state."
McGahn marveled to the group about what Trump can get away with.
Trump administration officials expect to announce on Monday that the State Department will designate Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO). The Wall Street Journal first reported this expected move — the latest in Trump's "maximum pressure" campaign against the Iranian regime.
Why this matters, per the Journal: "The decision ... would mark the first time that an element of a foreign state has been officially designated a terrorist entity." (The IRGC is an important element within Iran's armed forces.)
Behnam Ben Taleblu, an Iran expert and hawk from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, gave me his take on the Trump administration's anticipated action:
"Placing the IRGC on the U.S. FTO list is consistent with the Trump administration’s maximum pressure strategy on Iran for three reasons:
The other side, per the Journal: "Opponents of the move say it may not be decisive in weakening Iran due to the IRGC's persistent efforts to camouflage its ownership of other entities. Designating a major element of Iran’s military forces as a terrorist organization, the opponents add, also would set a precedent that ... Washington's adversaries may now draw on by applying the label to elements of U.S. armed forces."
Photo: Chen Mengtong/China News Service/VCG via Getty Images
Nancy Pelosi has more power than anybody to decide whether Trump gets Congress' approval to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement with his renegotiated United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. And the signs Republicans are seeing from the speaker are not filling them with hope.
And now, per a source who shared the invitation with me, Pelosi has invited AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka to her speaker's meeting on Wednesday to present on the USMCA.
What to watch, per the IndyStar, on Thursday Pence promoted the USMCA to Indiana farmers who are concerned about tariffs the administration has imposed. Pence spokeswoman Alyssa Farah tells me the VP has more dates around the country lined up to sell the USMCA.
Attendees at the Republican Jewish Coalition's annual leadership meeting, Las Vegas, April 6. Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images
"Republicans are planning a multimillion-dollar offensive aimed at fracturing the Democratic Party’s decades-long stranglehold on the Jewish vote," Politico's Alex Isenstadt scoops from Las Vegas.
"'We're at the intersection of a very unique moment in time where we have the most pro-Israel president ever in history in Donald Trump, and we also at the same time have the Democratic Party — because of the pressure of the progressive left — moving away from the traditional support for Israel that has existed going back to 1948,' said Matt Brooks, who has served as RJC executive director for nearly three decades."
Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call
The House is in session Monday through Wednesday before House Democrats leave town for their policy conference in Leesburg, Virginia, per a senior House Democratic aide.
The Senate will confirm a slate of Trump nominees under the new rules that McConnell instituted to shrink debate time from 30 hours to 2, according to a Senate Republican leadership aide. This week's expected confirmations, per the aide:
President Trump's schedule, per a White House official:
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
You'll find a trove of deeply sourced reporting in the new book, out Tuesday, by Politico's Playbook authors Jake Sherman and Anna Palmer. Here's a taste of the reporting from Trump's Washington, found in "The Hill to Die On":
On November 10, [Paul] Ryan and Trump met face-to-face. The Speaker hosted Trump; his wife, Melania; and Mike Pence on Capitol Hill for lunch at the Capitol Hill Club, and a subsequent tour of the Capitol and the Speaker's balcony, the space off of Ryan's office.
When Ryan walked into the Capitol Hill Club, Trump grabbed the Speaker's hand and brought him close in. "I think I got you figured out," Trump said to him. "That thing really rattled you." He was talking about the Access Hollywood tape.
"Yeah, it really did," Ryan replied.
"I get you," Trump said. "You're just a Boy Scout. You're also kind of religious, aren’t you?"
"You're like Mike on that, aren't you?" Melania chimed into the conversation.
"I'm a devout Catholic," Ryan said, "and yes, I take that stuff very seriously."
"Oh, okay," Trump said. "You're just a Boy Scout. That's what it is."