Washington Brief: Trump Voters Supportive of His New Policy Positions

Washington Brief

  • President Donald Trump has walked back his previous positions on the Export-Import Bank and whether to label China a currency manipulator. His supporters say that while they share his previous views, they also back his revised policy positions on those topics, according to a new poll. (Morning Consult)
  • House conservatives and moderates are nearing a deal on health care legislation. However, the proposed amendment might make the plan unpalatable to other Republicans. (The Huffington Post)
  • Trump is expected to sign an executive order as early as today that would direct the Commerce Department to investigate whether steel imports to the United States should be prohibited on national security grounds. (Politico)
  • Vice President Mike Pence said Trump will attend three Asian summits in November. Pence said the subject of the meetings will include security issues and trade, as well as the South China Sea. (Reuters)

Clarification: A previous version of this brief referenced polling on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Due to an editing error, the poll referred to an incorrect name for NATO. That section has been removed from the accompanying story.

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Events Calendar (All Times Local)

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Putin-linked think tank drew up plan to sway 2016 U.S. election – documents
Ned Parker et al., Reuters 

A Russian government think tank controlled by Vladimir Putin developed a plan to swing the 2016 U.S. presidential election to Donald Trump and undermine voters’ faith in the American electoral system, three current and four former U.S. officials told Reuters. They described two confidential documents from the think tank as providing the framework and rationale for what U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded was an intensive effort by Russia to interfere with the Nov. 8 election.

Supreme Court Weighs State Aid to Church Programs
Adam Liptak, The New York Times 

The Supreme Court seemed ready to chip away at the wall separating church and state on Wednesday, with several justices suggesting that states must sometimes provide aid to religious groups. The case concerned a Missouri program to make playgrounds safer that excluded ones affiliated with churches, but it had implications for all kinds of government aid to religious institutions.

Marijuana advocates vow to smoke pot and get arrested on steps of U.S. Capitol
Aaron C. Davis, The Washington Post 

Dozens of activists, including some military veterans, plan to light joints Monday on the steps of the U.S. Capitol — federal land where committing the offense could draw a sentence of up to a year in jail — as part of an effort to urge a reluctant Congress to support marijuana legalization. “Monday @ High Noon” reads a flier for the event, calling on Congress to also remove marijuana from the nation’s list of most-dangerous drugs.

Secret Service restricts public access to southern fence of White House after recent intruder
Mark Berman, The Washington Post

The U.S. Secret Service said it plans to further restrict public access to areas around the White House, a decision officials announced a month after a man carrying mace scaled the White House fence and was able to roam the grounds. These new restrictions, which prohibit access to a sidewalk alongside the White House’s southern fence-line, are relatively limited, but they come as the Secret Service has faced critical questions following that incident.

How Donald Trump’s Success Produced Bill O’Reilly’s Downfall
Alex Wagner, The Atlantic

On Wednesday afternoon, the king of cable was summarily—and in the eyes of many, finally—dethroned. O’Reilly’s stunning fall was both swift and extraordinarily prolonged: Swift for a public newly woken to his alleged transgressions, courtesy of a bombshell New York Times investigation earlier this month that revealed O’Reilly’s employers at Fox News had paid out some $13 million to women who claimed the bombastic TV host had sexually harassed them or otherwise exposed them to inappropriate behavior (just yesterday another woman came forward).


Trump plans executive order on steel imports
Doug Palmer and Adam Behsudi, Politico

President Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order as early as Thursday directing the Commerce Department to investigate whether steel imports into the U.S. should be blocked on national security grounds, according to sources familiar with the plan. A number of steel industry executives have been invited to the White House for an event with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

Trump to attend three Asian summits in November: Pence
Roberta Rampton, Reuters

U.S. President Donald Trump will attend three summits in Asia in November, Vice President Mike Pence said in Jakarta during a visit to the headquarters of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Thursday. Pence said in a statement after meeting the secretary general of ASEAN that Trump would attend the U.S.-ASEAN summit and the East Asia summit in the Philippines, as well as the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Vietnam.

Bold, Unpredictable Foreign Policy Lifts Trump, but Has Risks
Glenn Thrush and Mark Landler, The New York Times

President Trump turned in his chair at Mar-a-Lago to get a better look at China’s president, Xi Jinping — intent on detecting his first reaction to the news he had just dropped: American missiles were slamming into an airfield in northern Syria. It took a few moments, but Mr. Xi’s eyes widened in surprise, and he asked his translator to repeat what was said, according to three people who spoke with Mr. Trump after that night two weeks ago.

Once critical of global deals, Trump slow to pull out of any
Matthew Lewis and Josh Lederman, The Associated Press

The “America First” president who vowed to extricate America from onerous overseas commitments appears to be warming up to the view that when it comes to global agreements, a deal’s a deal. From NAFTA to the Iran nuclear agreement to the Paris climate accord, President Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric is colliding with the reality of governing.

Sessions: ‘We can’t promise’ DREAMers won’t be deported
Ted Hesson, Politico

Attorney General Jeff Sessions could not promise that so-called DREAMers, or participants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, will not be deported, when he was interviewed Wednesday morning on Fox News. Sessions fielded questions from host Jenna Lee about an undocumented immigrant who claims he was deported to Mexico despite his enrollment in the program, which was created through administrative action during the Obama administration.

A New Ad From Trump Allies Praises Republicans Who Opposed Trumpcare
Henry J. Gomez, BuzzFeed News 

America First Policies, a pro-Trump nonprofit staffed by the president’s top campaign aides, finally is in the TV advertising game. But the strategy behind a 30-second spot airing in 12 congressional districts has some Republicans confused.


Slow Pace of 2018 Senate Bids a Growing GOP Concern
James Arkin, Real Clear Politics

Senate Republicans are bullish about the 2018 midterms as they target Democrats running for re-election in states carried by President Trump. But facing a turbulent political environment and seasoned Democrats who have won tough races before, some Republicans are growing concerned about their recruitment progress, anxious that potential GOP challengers aren’t stepping up to run in top-tier races.

Trump and Schumer: Bonding over, of all things, milk?
Jerry Zremski, The Buffalo News

The most powerful man in the world and America’s most powerful Democrat haven’t exactly gotten along well since Donald Trump called Chuck Schumer a clown. But it now looks as if Trump and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York might conceivably be able to bond – over a glass of milk.


Some Republicans Think They May Have A Health Care Deal
Matt Fuller and Jonathan Cohn, The Huffington Post 

GOP moderates and conservatives are nearing a deal on health care that in theory could get the Republican alternative to the Affordable Care Act out of the House and over to the Senate. The changes also might move Republicans even further away from passage ― no one really knows.

U.S. must keep military options open on North Korea: House speaker Ryan
William James, Reuters 

The United States must keep military options on the table when it comes to North Korea, but it does not want to use them unless it has to, U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan said during a visit to Britain on Wednesday. “… of course we don’t want to have military options employed, but we must keep all options on the table,” he said when asked if the U.S. administration would be willing to drop bombs on North Korea.

House panel to hold hearing on airline consumer issues
Melanie Zanona, The Hill

A House panel is planning a hearing on airline consumer issues, as United Airlines remains in the hot seat following criticism last week over an incident where a passenger was violently dragged off a plane. Top lawmakers on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee announced Wednesday that they will schedule an oversight hearing in the coming days in order to “provide Members an opportunity to learn more about consumer issues related to the commercial airline industry.”

After Georgia’s Close Race, Montana Democrats Demand Party’s Attention
Jonathan Martin, The New York Times 

Rob Quist surveyed his audience last week at an annual powwow of Montana’s Native American tribes, a kaleidoscope of feathers, moccasins and beads, before turning his thoughts to a very different audience, far to the east: the national Democratic Party. “They’ve been on the sidelines a little too long, and it’s time for them to get in the game,” said Mr. Quist, the banjo-playing Democratic nominee in a special May election to fill Montana’s at-large House seat.

Can Elections Like Georgia’s Help Predict Future Races?
Jonah Engel Bromwich, The New York Times 

The congressional election in Georgia this week was billed as having potential national implications, as an early test of whether anti-Trump energy could fuel Democratic victory in a traditionally Republican district. It seems likely that the same will be said for scattered upcoming special elections in other states.


Roy Moore’s suspension upheld by Alabama Supreme Court; decision next week on Senate race
Kent Faulk, AL.com 

The Alabama Supreme Court upheld the decision that removed Roy Moore from his position as chief justice. Moore in a press conference after the decision called the prosecution “politically” motivated and declared that he remains Chief Justice despite the suspension regarding an administrative order against the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

MT House speaker kills mail-ballot bill with parliamentary power
Mike Dennison, KXLH 

Republican House Speaker Austin Knudsen is using his parliamentary power to kill a measure allowing counties to hold an all-mail ballot in Montana’s May 25 special congressional election. Knudsen has refused to schedule a floor vote on House Bill 83, which Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock sent back to the House on April 7, with amendments giving counties the option to conduct an all-mail ballot.

Rep. Keith Ellison expects Rep. Tim Walz will be Minnesota’s next governor
Bill Salisbury, Twin Cities Pioneer Press 

U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison predicted Wednesday that his fellow Minnesota Democrat, Congressman Tim Walz, will be Minnesota’s next governor. “I’m not advocating; I’m simply predicting,” Ellison said of Walz during an appearance at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

Gold Star Khan family endorses Tom Perriello to be Virginia’s governor
Fenit Nirappil, The Washington Post 

Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the Gold Star Muslim parents from Charlottesville whose campaign feud with President Trump vaulted them to a national spotlight, are endorsing former congressman Tom Perriello in the Virginia Democratic gubernatorial primary. The Khans say Perriello, who represented them in Congress from 2009 to 2011, is the best candidate to resist Trump and his values.


Exxon Seeks U.S. Waiver to Resume Russia Oil Venture
Jay Solomon and Bradley Olson, The Wall Street Journal 

Exxon Mobil Corp. has applied to the Treasury Department for a waiver from U.S. sanctions on Russia in a bid to resume its joint venture with state oil giant PAO Rosneft, according to people familiar with the matter. Exxon has been seeking U.S. permission to drill with Rosneft in several areas banned by sanctions and applied in recent months for a waiver to proceed in the Black Sea, according to these people.

Pesticide maker tries to kill risk study
Michael Biescker, The Associated Press

Dow Chemical is pushing the Trump administration to scrap the findings of federal scientists who point to a family of widely used pesticides as harmful to about 1,800 critically threatened or endangered species. Lawyers representing Dow, whose CEO also heads a White House manufacturing working group, and two other makers of organophosphates sent letters last week to the heads of three Cabinet agencies.

A Message from the Electronic Payments Coalition:

NEW REPORT: 66% of small merchants are satisfied with what they pay for debit card acceptance. When it comes to interchange, small merchants want value, not price caps. So who is putting small merchants’ choice and flexibility at risk? Get the facts from EPC.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Donald Trump Threatens to Sabotage Obamacare
The Editorial Board, The New York Times

After Republican leaders in Congress failed to destroy the Affordable Care Act last month, President Trump tweeted that the law would “explode.” Now he seems determined to deliver on that prediction through presidential sabotage.

The March for Science could save lives
Editorial Board, The Washington Post

When Ebola began to spread in West Africa in December 2013, it was invisible. A 2-year-old who had been playing near a bat-filled tree in southeastern Guinea died, apparently the first victim, but it took months for health workers to detect and report the spread of a disease with a high mortality.

Bernie Sanders, King of Dysfunction Junction
Heather Wilhelm, National Review

Poor Tom Perez. The new chair of the Democratic National Committee just can’t catch a break. It’s quite heart-wrenching, really: On his new cross-country “unity tour” with socialist superstar Bernie Sanders, he’s even been pelted with boos.

Unfinished Preet Bharara Business
The Editorial Board, The Wall Street Journal

President Trump dumped Preet Bharara as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and the celebrity prosecutor is conducting another media vindication tour. But a few problems from his tenure are left to resolve, including the ongoing legal crusade against David Ganek.

A Message from the Electronic Payments Coalition:

Don’t be fooled by big box retailers’ claims about the Durbin amendment. A new Javelin study found small merchants choose their card processor based on value, not cost. In fact, despite price controls applying only to debit transactions, more merchants prefer credit card payments than debit card payments. Learn the truth about the interchange system from the Electronic Payments Coalition.

Research Reports and Polling

Many Trump Supporters Embrace His New Positions
Eli Yokley, Morning Consult 

Campaign postures on a variety of subjects have been abandoned by President Donald Trump as he closes in on his 100th day in office. Many voters still back his original positions, but when told of his new stances, a new survey by Morning Consult/POLITICO found the president’s supporters are sticking with the Trump train, even as it switches tracks.

Grading Trump’s First 100 Days in Office
Eli Yokley, Morning Consult

A quarter of Americans would give President Donald Trump an “F” for the job he has done during his first 100 days in office, according to a new Morning Consult/POLITICO poll. The survey asked voters to assign letter grades — “A” through “F” — to Trump’s handling of a number of presidential responsibilities.