The First House Elections of the Trump Era

FiveThirtyEight: “Election junkies need not wait until November 2018 to get their next fix. They don’t even need to wait for the gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia later this year. Five special elections for the House of Representatives are expected to take place over the next few months: California 34, Georgia 6, Kansas 4, Montana At-large and South Carolina 5.”

“These elections are ‘special’ in the sense that they occur outside the normal two-year November House election cycle — to fill a vacant seat. But other than that, there’s nothing all that special about special elections, making them a decent thermometer reading on the country’s political mood and how voters are responding to President Trump.”

Daily Kos has compiled a spreadsheet of all the important elections in 2017.

Nominees Say White House Isn’t Defending Them

Politico: “Candidates for top jobs in President Trump’s administration are getting spooked after Andrew Puzder’s nomination was scuttled and they fear the White House isn’t doing enough to protect them from grueling confirmations… The concerns are affecting not only some of the highest profile nominations, including agriculture secretary pick Sonny Perdue, but also candidates for ambassadorships, judicial positions and a range of other nominees.”

“The chill that’s settled in even has some people considering bowing out of contention, meaning that Trump’s attempt to quickly fill out his government could drag out even further.”

Republicans Face an Earful at Town Halls

David Nather: “The more you look, the more the Obamacare repeal effort is starting to resemble a mirror image of the turmoil when the law was passed. Remember that in 2009, it started out with fairly broad public support — when it was still at the level of generalities — and it was definitely a top priority for Democratic voters. Then it got less popular, and Democrats had to decide whether to plow through the angry resistance.”

New York Times: “They have faced shouts and jeers, and no shortage of sharp, and at times angry, questions. Protest signs have been hoisted. Cellphones have been held up to record it all.”

“Republicans home for the congressional recess have been greeted with an earful at town hall-style meetings. Many lawmakers have no such meetings scheduled — sparing them the possibility of a “YouTube moment,” but opening them up to criticism that they are ducking their constituents.”

Tips for Trump Addressing Congress Next Week

Mike Allen: “Come across as someone who can get stuff done. You’ll never be seen as a statesman or unifier — don’t bother trying. But Republicans need their confidence bolstered that the GOP-controlled government can deliver Obamacare repeal-and-replace and tax reform. If you do that, plus win confirmation of your Supreme Court nominee, nothing else will matter — your Hill game will be a hit with the party and GOP critics will forgive other sins.”

“Get past campaign rhetoric and be specific. Lawmakers consider it insulting to be barraged with slogans instead of substance.”

McMaster Will Be Able to Pick His Own Staff

The Guardian reports that President Trump’s new national security adviser, H.R. McMaster is expected to pick his own staff, though “as a serving military officer, McMaster was not in a position to attach many preconditions to his service.”

Also interesting: “In contrast to Trump’s stated enthusiasm for torture, McMaster ordered detainees be treated humanely, and even polled detainees on how well the regiment followed through. And in contrast to the dark view of Islam put forward by Trump, his strategy chief Steve Bannon and, most notably, Flynn – who once tweeted that fear of Muslims is ‘rational’ – McMaster ordered his troops not to use derogatory terms to refer to Muslims.”

Wave of Threats Made to Jewish Centers

“In the wake of 11 new threats today against Jewish centers, from New York to New Mexico, the FBI said it is investigating, along with the Department of Justice, bomb threats to the centers across the country,” ABC News reports.

“Federal authorities are looking into threats communicated to at least 60 Jewish centers around the country this year. The threats started in January and the FBI began investigating later that same month. The threats have come in ‘different waves,’ with more threats phoned in to centers today, according to one source familiar with the matter.”

Trump Continues Attack on Sweden, With No Evidence

President Trump “escalated his attack on Sweden’s migration policies on Monday, doubling down on his suggestion — based on a Fox News report — that refugees in the Scandinavian country were behind a surge in crime and terrorism,” the New York Times reports.

“Mr. Trump set off consternation and ridicule on Saturday when he seemed to falsely imply to a throng of supporters at a rally in Florida that a terrorist attack had occurred in Sweden, which has admitted tens of thousands of refugees in recent years.”

Can Mattis Push Trump Towards the Conventional?

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis “appears to be at odds with President Donald Trump on Russia and other key issues, setting up potential discord but also helping to nudge the White House toward more conventional policy stances,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“In recent days, other top administration officials have aired foreign-policy views that don’t align perfectly with the new president… But it is Mr. Mattis who has differed with the president on the most issues. And while that could set up a clash with a White House that has said those who don’t agree with the president should leave, the defense chief seems to have had the most success in prodding Mr. Trump away from some of his positions.”

Yiannopoulos Loses Book Deal

Simon & Schuster is canceling the publication of Dangerous by Milo Yiannopoulos, according to USA Today.

Yiannopoulos received a $250,000 advance for the book.

Yiannopoulos to the Hollywood Reporter in December: “I met with top execs at Simon & Schuster earlier in the year and spent half an hour trying to shock them with lewd jokes and outrageous opinions. I thought they were going to have me escorted from the building — but instead they offered me a wheelbarrow full of money.”

Meanwhile, The Hill reports employees at Breitbart News “are reportedly prepared to leave the company if controversial senior editor Milo Yiannopoulos is not fired.”

White House Admits Trump Played Full Round of Golf

President Trump “played a full round of golf Sunday, enjoying once again a habit he regularly assailed Barack Obama for. After initially saying Trump had only played a few holes, the White House reversed itself Monday after professional golfer Rory McIlroy posted on his website that he had played 18 holes with the president,” Politico reports.

CNN notes how Trump suggested the 2016 presidential campaign that if elected he was “not going to have time to go play golf.”

Trump’s Revised Travel Ban Targets Same 7 Countries

A draft of President Trump’s “revised immigration ban targets the same seven countries listed in his original executive order and exempts travelers who already have a visa to travel to the U.S., even if they haven’t used it yet,” the AP reports.

“A senior administration official said the order, which Trump revised after federal courts held up his original immigration and refugee ban, will target only those same seven Muslim-majority countries — Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan and Libya.”

“The official said that green-card holders and dual citizens of the U.S. and any of those countries are exempt. The new draft also no longer directs authorities to single out — and reject — Syrian refugees when processing new visa applications.”

Le Pen Gains In French Polls

A new OpinionWay poll in France finds that first-round support for anti-euro candidate Marine Le Pen rose one percentage point to 27%, with Emmanuel Macron and Francois Fillon unchanged at 20% each.

“While no surveys so far have shown Le Pen even close to a victory in May’s run-off, she’s quickly narrowing the gap to her rivals. OpinionWay showed Macron would defeat Le Pen by 58 percent to 42 percent in the second round. His advantage has halved in less than two weeks.”

Trump Picks McMaster as National Security Adviser

President Trump picked Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, a widely respected military strategist, as his new national security adviser, calling him “a man of tremendous talent and tremendous experience,” the New York Times reports.

The Washington Post reports that retired Army Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, who has been serving in an acting capacity as national security adviser, will be the chief of staff on the National Security Council.

Thomas Ricks: “Picking McMaster is not a bad thing. I’ve known him since he was major. He’s smart, energetic, and tough… That said, the basic problems remain. To do the job right, McMaster needs to bring in his own people. And it remains unclear if he can get that.”