Obama Ready For War, Measles Still Spreading, Journalists Think U.S. Government Is Spying On Them: A.M. Links

By ANNA PALMER, JAKE SHERMAN, DANIEL LIPPMAN, ELI OKUN and GARRETT ROSS 

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President Donald Trump waves on the South Lawn of the White House on Tuesday, May 14. | Andrew Harnik/AP Photo

PRESIDENT

DONALD TRUMP spoke to reporters before leaving on Marine One for Joint Base Andrews, and later to Louisiana for a visit to a liquified natural gas plant and a private fundraiser.

-- The president called the trade war with China “a little squabble” and rejected the characterization that talks have broken down.

-- Trump also dismissed this morning’s big

NYT story on the administration’s internal debate over sending 120,000 troops to the Middle East to counter Iran as “fake news.” But, he added: “Would I do that? Absolutely. But we have not planned for that. Hopefully we won’t have to plan for that. If we did that we would send a hell of a lot more troops than that.”

-- STEVE SCALISE, the No. 2 House Republican who represents the New Orleans area, is traveling with the president.

DEPT. OF VERY DOUBTFUL THINGS … BLOOMBERG’S @sahilkapur in Concord, N.H.:

“In New Hampshire, Joe Biden predicts that once President Trump is out of office, Republicans will have ‘an epiphany’ and work with Democrats toward consensus.”

-- ONE TRULY WONDERS what available evidence there is to come to a conclusion like this. When Biden was last in office, he was Obama’s link to

MITCH MCCONNELL -- so he does have recent experience working with Senate Republicans. But very, very few people think the GOP is on the brink of a bipartisan epiphany.

DARREN SAMUELSOHN (@dsamuelsohn): “The House Judiciary Committee as expected has noticed a May 21 hearing with former Trump WH counsel Don McGahn, who got a subpoena to appear on that date. But two sources familiar with the Democrats’ plans say there's still no agreement yet on McGahn actually appearing.”

Good Tuesday afternoon. Montana Gov.

STEVE BULLOCK has created his FEC committee to run for president: Bullock for President. As Bullock joins the race, per Zach Montellaro, 19 candidates have crossed one of the two thresholds to make it to the early Democratic primary debates.

IVANKA TRUMP is on the Hill today meeting with Sens. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) about the higher ed reauthorization act.

ANTHONY WEINER is out of a halfway house, per MSNBC. “Weiner did not discuss future plans, saying he is glad to get back to his family and to be putting this part of his life behind him. ‘It’s good to be out,’ he said. ‘I hope to be able to live a life of integrity and service. I’m glad this chapter of my life is behind me.’” MSNBC

MORE ON BARR’S RUSSIA PROBE REVIEW -- CNN’S LAURA JARRETT: “Attorney General William Barr is working closely with the CIA to review the origins of the Russia investigation and surveillance issues surrounding Donald Trump's presidential campaign, according to a source familiar with the matter, broadening an effort that the President has long demanded to involve all major national security agencies.

“Barr is working in close collaboration with CIA Director Gina Haspel, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and FBI Director Chris Wray, the source said. … There had been speculation as to why Haspel had been spotted at the Justice Department in recent weeks.” CNN

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THE PRESIDENT’S LATEST TARIFF TWEETS -- “Trump insists U.S. in ‘much better position now’ to make trade deal with China,” by Caitlin Oprysko: “As stocks showed possible signs of a recovery after Monday's dive, the president predicted he could produce a trade deal with China ‘tomorrow’ but that it will happen ‘when the time is right.’

“Though he asserted a deal to end yearlong impasse would happen ‘much faster than people think,’ the president also sought to reassure farmers who will likely bear the brunt of China’s retaliatory tariffs announced Monday, and urged manufacturers to move their production to the U.S., a potential signal that he is prepared for a more drawn-out battle with Beijing.” POLITICO

-- “China exporters react to Donald Trump’s new trade war tariff plan: ‘This will kill my U.S. market,’” by South China Morning Post’s Finbarr Bermingham and Orange Wang

USMCA UPDATE… “Grassley says U.S., Canada could soon resolve steel tariffs,” by Sabrina Rodríguez: Iowa Sen. Chuck “Grassley, in a call with reporters, said he’s hopeful U.S. and Canadian officials are working to conclude negotiations ‘based on the fact that it seems to me … that they’re talking. … That’s my understanding. And [there’s] even the possibility of some face-to-face talks very soon. And maybe in 48 hours I’ll have a more definitive answer for you,’ the Iowa Republican added.

“Removing the duties, which Trump imposed on national security grounds, would clear a major hurdle in the effort to ratify the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement in all three countries. … Grassley did not indicate the status of talks with Mexico.” POLITICO

-- Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office released a readout of a call he had with VP Mike Pence this morning. The two discussed steel and aluminum tariffs, USCMA, China and Venezuela, according to the statement.

>The full statement

POMPEO ABROAD -- AP’S @JonLemire: “MOSCOW (AP) — US secretary of state says he told Russian foreign minister that ‘interference in American elections is unacceptable’”

-- WAPO’S ANTON TROIANOVSKI in Sochi, Russia:

“Pompeo set to meet Putin, with the U.S. and Russia at odds over a raft of crises”: “After landing in Sochi, Pompeo quickly told his Russian hosts that the United States was interested in improving ties with Moscow despite a wide range of disagreements between the two nuclear superpowers. …

“Later in the day, Pompeo is scheduled to meet with Putin at the Russian president’s summer residence here. The two will likely square off over Venezuela and Iran, two countries where the United States and Russia are increasingly at odds. They will navigate through a host of other global hotspots — potentially including China, North Korea, Syria, Afghanistan and Ukraine — where Moscow and Washington each have their own, often clashing, interests.” WaPo

ANOTHER FLORIDA COUNTY GOT HACKED -- “Russians accessed voter records in 2 Florida counties, FBI confirms,” by Gary Fineout: “Russian hackers had a successful ‘intrusion’ into the voting registration files of two Florida counties in 2015, Gov. Ron DeSantis said today. The FBI asked that the names of the counties not be disclosed, DeSantis said in a press conference.

“The hacking did not affect any vote tallying and DeSantis said there is no evidence of ‘manipulation.’ Florida was singled out in special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 elections. The FBI will hold classified briefings with members of the Florida congressional delegation this week about the suspected Russian hacking.” POLITICO

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THE TRUMP EFFECT -- “Trump’s election has boosted Israeli settlement construction,” by AP’s Josef Federman in Jerusalem: “Israel’s government went on a spending binge in its West Bank settlements following the election of President Donald Trump, according to official data obtained by The Associated Press.

“Both supporters and detractors of the settlement movement have previously referred to a ‘Trump effect,’ claiming the president’s friendlier approach to the settlements is leading to additional West Bank construction. While the new Israeli figures obtained in a freedom of information request do not prove a direct connection, they indicate this process may already be underway, showing a 39% increase in 2017 spending on roads, schools and public buildings across the West Bank.” AP

SWAMP WATCH -- WAPO’S JOSH ROGIN: “China is using the Washington swamp against us”: “Lots of countries hire Washington lobbyists and lawyers, even adversaries, but China and its state-directed corporations are stepping up their campaign to buy up parts of the swamp. In Congress, there’s an effort to stop that, especially when it comes to China hiring former top national security officials to use them against the United States.

“After the news broke last month that [Samir] Jain, who served as National Security Council senior director for cybersecurity policy in the Obama White House, had registered as a Huawei lobbyist, President Trump tweeted: ‘This is not good, or acceptable!’ But the president didn’t explain why Jain working for Huawei was bad. Lawmakers want to put new rules in place to restrict adversary countries — like China — from gaining access to sensitive U.S. national security information by hiring former officials.” WaPo

HAPPENING TODAY -- AP’S EMERY DALESIO in Raleigh, N.C.:

“Candidates face off in GOP primary for NC congressional race”: “The in-person balloting by Republican and unaffiliated voters in the 9th Congressional District follows two weeks of early voting to decide which of 10 GOP candidates will face Democrat Dan McCready.

“The general election will be Sept. 10 if one of them collects more than 30 percent of the votes in Tuesday’s primary. If no one tops that milestone, that September date will be used for a runoff between the top two Republicans and the general election will be Nov. 5.” AP

2020 WATCH -- “‘A hate-for-profit racket’: Warren refuses Fox town hall invite,” by Alex Thompson: “Bernie Sanders and Amy Klobuchar already done the events, while Pete Buttigieg and Kirsten Gillibrand are scheduled to. All of them have criticized the network’s coverage of the Trump administration but defended going on the network as a means to reach voters.

“Without mentioning her rivals, [Sen. Elizabeth] Warren argued that agreeing to go on the network would implicitly help Fox News. ‘A Fox News town hall adds money to the hate-for-profit machine. To which I say: hard pass,’ she wrote in a Twitter thread. ‘Fox News is welcome to come to my events just like any other outlet.’” POLITICO

-- NYT’S JENNIFER STEINHAUER in Leawood, Kan.:

“How Democrats Who Beat Republicans Last Year Plan to Keep Their Seats”: “Desperate to maintain their one perch of power in Washington, House Democrats are moving aggressively to defend their majority. Incumbents, under intense pressure from the party to begin their campaigns, raised a record $11.6 million in the first quarter of the year and are moving quickly to protect the 31 seats they hold in districts where President Trump prevailed in 2016. …

“[T]he battle for control of the chamber rests with majority-makers, like [Sharice] Davids, who picked off Republican incumbents in more conservative districts. Those members — many of them women — are eager to create an impression among constituents that they are essentially customer service representatives for the government, often distancing themselves from their party’s most liberal impulses to maintain their hold on the suburban voters who were greatly responsible for their victories.” NYT

CLIMATE FILES -- NBC’S DENISE CHOW: “Carbon dioxide hits a level not seen for 3 million years. Here's what that means for climate change — and humanity”

CLICKER -- “The Navy’s probe into sky penis,” by the Navy Times’ Geoff Ziezulewicz:

“It was the work of two junior officers with the ‘Zappers’ of Electronic Attack Squadron 130, who had sky time to kill and noticed that the white contrails their jet produced were particularly robust that afternoon. But they never counted on those contrails lingering long enough for folks on the ground to see their phallic rendering, according to a copy of the military’s sky penis investigation obtained exclusively by Navy Times.” Navy Times

‘QUANTICO’ SEASON 4 -- An FBI lawyer was charged with shoplifting at the Marine base in Quantico, Va.

From the complaint: “The OIG substantiated and the FBI attorney admitted to placing numerous cosmetic items, valued at $257.99 and belonging to the MCB Quantico Exchange, into her purse without the intention to pay for them and did not pay for them before leaving the store. The FBI attorney further admitted that between February 2016 and her arrest in February 2018 she had shoplifted at the MCB Quantico Exchange one to two additional times, and at other private retailers in the area on two to three occasions.”

VALLEY TALK -- “AT&T CEO: We'll pull TV shows, movies from rivals as we launch new Netflix-like service”: “ AT&T chief executive Randall Stephenson said Tuesday that the company will pull popular TV shows and movies from streaming rivals as it launches its own Netflix-like video service. … AT&T's new subscription video service is expected to launch in late 2019.” Dallas Morning News

MEDIAWATCH -- “An Iranian Disinformation Operation Impersonated Dozens Of Media Outlets To Spread Fake Articles,” by BuzzFeed’s Craig Silverman: “Since early 2016, the operation published

135 fabricated articles on websites designed to mimic outlets such as The Guardian, Bloomberg, Al Jazeera, The Independent, The Atlantic, and Politico. …

“Citizen Lab concluded with ‘moderate confidence’ that the network is tied to actors in Iran after analyzing domains, articles, and Twitter accounts among other information, and combining it with findings from investigations published by Facebook and FireEye. Citizen Lab did not find evidence linking it to the Iranian government, but did conclude that the operation was focused on spreading anti-Saudi narratives.” BuzzFeed

TOP-ED -- HOSSEIN MOUSAVIAN and

ABDULAZIZ SAGER in the

NYT, “It’s Time for the Leaders of Saudi Arabia and Iran to Talk: Two foreign policy experts, from each side of the Islamic Middle East’s most prominent rivalry, say common ground can be found.”

SPOTTED: Former A.G. John Ashcroft and his wife, Janet, at DCA on Tuesday morning.

TRANSITIONS -- Bobby McMillin has been named director of federal government affairs at biotech company Illumina. He previously was general counsel for the Senate HELP Committee under Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). …

Stanley Pierre-Louis will be president and CEO of the Entertainment Software Association. He previously was senior VP and associate general counsel for intellectual property at Viacom.

ENGAGED -- OBAMA ALUMNI: Alex Lasry, an Obama WH alum who is now SVP for the Milwaukee Bucks and host of the bid committee for Milwaukee 2020, proposed to

Lauren Markowitz, communications director for Milwaukee County Exec Chris Abele and a Rahm Emanuel alum, on Saturday on the Gapstow Bridge in Central Park.

>Pic ...

>Another pic

--

Heather Neilson, former press secretary for Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.), got engaged to

Grady Nutt. Pic

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