Washington Brief: U.S. Expected to Announce New Sanctions Against North Korea Today

Top Stories

  • The Trump administration plans to announce what is being billed as the largest package of sanctions against North Korea, as Washington pressures Pyongyang regarding its nuclear and ballistic missile tests, according to an unnamed senior administration official. President Donald Trump is expected to talk about the new sanctions today during his remarks at the Conservative Political Action Conference. (Reuters)
  • Sheldon Adelson, the Republican mega-donor and Las Vegas casino magnate, has offered to pay for at least part of a new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, according to unnamed U.S. officials. State Department lawyers are considering the legality of using private donations, the officials said. (The Associated Press)
  • Trump said he is considering withdrawing Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents from California over what he called the state’s “lousy management job” in patrolling immigration. The Trump administration has stepped up enforcement of immigration laws in California as an effort to pressure so-called sanctuary cities. (CNN)
  • A grand jury in St. Louis indicted Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R) on a felony charge of invasion of privacy stemming from a 2015 affair and allegations that he threatened to release a nude photograph of the woman if she ever spoke publicly about the affair. Greitens, who was was arrested, arraigned and later released on his own recognizance, said in a statement that he “did not commit a crime,” and he gave no indication of plans to step down. (The Kansas City Star)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

Governors Coyler, Cooper and Hickenlooper participate in Axios event 7:45 a.m.
Conservative Political Action Conference 8:25 a.m.
Governors participate in Politico’s State Solutions Conference 9 a.m.
World Bank Group president speaks at Council on Foreign Relations event 1 p.m.

New Report: How Americans & Investors Are Reacting To Market Volatility

Recent tumult in the stock market has triggered a wave of concerns about investor confidence and the possibility of sustained downturn. To provide a better understanding of the real-time reaction to this volatility, Morning Consult conducted a comprehensive survey of both consumers and market investors. See the full report.


FBI’s deputy director admits there was “a mistake made” regarding tip on Florida shooter
CBS News

The FBI’s acting deputy director on Thursday admitted that there was a “mistake made” within the agency when it received a tip regarding concerns about the Florida school shooter. During a press conference, David Bowdich was asked about the missed tip, and he said that Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director Christopher Wray immediately ordered a full-scale review of the agency’s public access line, which is based in West Virginia.

US bank halts NRA credit card, car rental firm ends discount
Grant Schulte, The Associated Press

The nation’s largest privately-owned bank holding company and a major car rental chain said Thursday they will stop promotions aimed at National Rifle Association members. The Nebraska-based First National Bank of Omaha will not renew its contract to issue the group’s NRA Visa Card, spokesman Kevin Langin said in a statement.

Sources: Mueller probe stymies Kushner security clearance
Shimon Prokupecz et al., CNN

Jared Kushner has been unable to obtain a full security clearance in part because of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, according to two sources familiar with the matter. Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, is unlikely to obtain the full clearance as long as the special counsel’s probe is ongoing, one of the sources said.

Kasich’s team gears up for possible 2020 bid
Gabriel Debenedetti, Politico

John Kasich’s inner circle is gearing up for a possible presidential run in 2020 — actively weighing the prospect of a Republican primary challenge to President Donald Trump against the feasibility of a long-shot general election campaign as an independent. And there’s one consideration driving their thinking perhaps more than any other: what some of his advisers consider the very real, maybe even likely, possibility that Trump doesn’t run again — by choice or not — or that the president becomes so politically hobbled by late next year that the political landscape fundamentally shifts in Kasich’s favor.

Putin ally said to be in touch with Kremlin, Assad before his mercenaries attacked U.S. troops
Ellen Nakashima et al., The Washington Post

A Russian oligarch believed to control the Russian mercenaries who attacked U.S. troops and their allies in Syria this month was in close touch with Kremlin and ­Syrian officials in the days and weeks before and after the assault, according to U.S. intelligence reports. In intercepted communications in late January, the oligarch, Yevgeniy Prigozhin, told a senior Syrian official that he had “secured permission” from an unspecified Russian minister to move forward with a “fast and strong” initiative that would take place in early February.


Trump administration to target North Korea with new sanctions on Friday
Steve Holland, Reuters

The Trump administration plans to announce on Friday what is being billed as the largest package of sanctions yet against North Korea to increase pressure on Pyongyang for its nuclear and ballistic missile tests, a senior administration official said. President Donald Trump is expected to talk about the new sanctions during a mid-morning speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference, and the Treasury Department will get into the details later in the day.

AP sources: Adelson offers to help pay for Jerusalem embassy
Josh Lederman, The Associated Press

The Trump administration is considering an offer from Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson to pay for at least part of a new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, four U.S. officials told The Associated Press. Lawyers at the State Department are looking into the legality of accepting private donations to cover some or all of the embassy costs, the administration officials said.

Trump says he’s thinking about pulling ICE from California
Kevin Liptak and Tal Kopan, CNN

President Donald Trump declared on Thursday he was considering withdrawing Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents from California as punishment for what he claimed was a “lousy management job” in patrolling illegal immigration. “You know what, I’m thinking about doing it,” Trump said at a roundtable with state and local officials to address ideas to stop gun violence in the wake of the Parkland school massacre.

Mattis expected to back allowing transgender troops to stay in the military
Dan Lamothe et al., The Washington Post

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is expected to propose to President Trump that transgender members of the U.S. military be allowed to continue serving despite the president’s call last summer for a ban on all transgender service members, according to two U.S. officials with knowledge of the issue. The defense secretary was scheduled to brief the president Wednesday, but the meeting was postponed and will occur soon, officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss policy deliberations.


Gillibrand urges Senate to take up harassment policy overhaul
Elana Schor, Politico

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is urging her chamber’s leaders to follow the House in taking up a bipartisan overhaul of its rules for policing workplace misconduct. The New York Democrat made a simple push on Friday, asking that her Capitol Hill harassment reform proposal get a stand-alone vote or be included in next month’s must-pass government spending bill.

‘Reagan Republican’ to run as independent against Barrasso in Wyoming Senate race
Arno Rosenfeld, Casper Star-Tribune

After months of speculation, Wyoming’s U.S. Sen. John Barrasso finally has a Republican challenger. Sort of.


GOP lawmaker calls for Ryan to bring up gun safety legislation
Max Greenwood, The Hill

Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) is calling on Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to allow the chamber to immediately consider gun safety legislation, citing President Trump’s professed support for such measures. Curbelo tweeted that Ryan “should immediately allow the House to consider common sense gun safety proposals” that the Florida Republican has advocated, including raising the purchasing age of long guns to 21 and banning bump stocks, among other items.

House Cancels Votes for Billy Graham to Lie in Honor in Capitol Rotunda
Lindsey McPherson, Roll Call

The House is shortening its Feb. 26 work week, canceling votes that Wednesday and Thursday, for the late Rev. Billy Graham to lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda. “As is traditional, votes are no longer expected in the House on Wednesday, February 28, or Thursday, March 1,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s office announced.

In rare move, national Democrats come out against primary candidate Laura Moser in bid for Culberson’s seat
Abby Livingston, The Texas Tribune

The campaign arm of Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives set its sights on a surprising target Thursday: Democratic congressional hopeful Laura Moser. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee posted negative research on Moser, a Houston journalist vying among six other Democrats in the March 6 primary to unseat Republican U.S. Rep. John Culberson.

Trump super PAC to spend $1 million in Pennsylvania special election
Alex Isenstadt, Politico

The pro-Trump super PAC America First Action is launching a $1 million ad-buy in support of Pennsylvania special election candidate Rick Saccone, according to a person familiar with the group’s plans. The organization will start airing digital ads later this week and TV ads next week.

Exclusive: Bernie Sanders’ Son Wants to Run for Congress. Not Everyone Is on Board.
Alex Thompson, Vice News

Levi Sanders, Sen. Bernie Sanders only biological child, told VICE News that he is actively considering running for Congress in New Hampshire’s 1st District, an open seat expected to be one of the most contested in the country in 2018. “Oh absolutely, I’m definitely considering it. I’m excited, motivated, and interested in the race,” Levi said.


Gov. Greitens indicted for felony invasion of privacy stemming from affair
Jason Hancock et al., The Kansas City Star

Gov. Eric Greitens was indicted Thursday afternoon by a St. Louis grand jury on a felony charge of invasion of privacy. The charge stems from a 2015 affair and allegations that he threatened to release a nude photograph of the woman, taken while she was blindfolded and her hands were bound, if she ever spoke publicly about the affair.

West Virginia Teachers Go on Statewide Strike
Kris Maher, The Wall Street Journal

Public-school teachers in West Virginia went on strike Thursday, shutting schools across the state, as unions rejected pay and benefits proposals by state lawmakers. The walkouts affected some 270,000 students, according to the latest enrollment figures from the state Education Department.

Texas state Sen. Uresti, co-defendant Cain found guilty on all charges in criminal fraud trial
Patrick Danner and Guillermo Contreras, San Antonio Express-News

Texas state Sen. Carlos Uresti and co-defendant Gary Cain were found guilty on all charges in San Antonio federal court today in a criminal fraud trial that has stunned the city and state capitol. It took the 12 jurors roughly 11 hours over three days to reach a verdict.

Illinois GOP contender called AG candidate racial, gay slurs, colleagues say
Natasha Korecki, Politico

A Republican candidate for the Illinois Legislature is under fire from his own party amid allegations that he asked an African-American candidate for state attorney general whether she was a “lesbo” and used a racial slur during a conversation with her. Now, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Republican floor leader of the Illinois House, Peter Breen, are calling for the candidate, Burt Minor, to drop out of a race for state representative.

Gun violence: How governors of Conn., N.J., N.Y., R.I. think they can fight it together
Joseph Spector, USA Today

A collective approach to fighting gun violence could help states in the Northeast, governors said Thursday. Democratic governors of Northeastern states announced they have formed a coalition, “States for Gun Safety” to work together in the battle against gun violence.


N.R.A. Chief, Wayne LaPierre, Offers Fierce Defense of 2nd Amendment
Jeremy W. Peters, The New York Times

The head of the National Rifle Association, Wayne LaPierre, leveled a searing indictment on Thursday against liberal Democrats, the news media and political opportunists he said were joined together in a socialist plot to “eradicate all individual freedoms.” Mr. LaPierre’s remarks, his first since a gunman took the lives of 17 people at a Florida high school last week, seemed aimed at blunting the rising public pressure for stricter gun control.

Tom Steyer, gun safety groups plan voter registration drive for high school students
Gabriel Debenedetti, Politico

In response to last week’s deadly shooting in Florida, two prominent gun safety groups are joining with Tom Steyer, the Democratic billionaire activist, in a push ahead of the midterm elections to register high school students to vote around gun issues. Steyer’s NextGen America group is working with Giffords — the group founded by former Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, after she was shot in 2011 — and Everytown for Gun Safety, founded by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Defense Bill’s New Lobbying Restrictions May Send Contractors Scrambling
Shawn Zeller, Roll Call

Lobbying compliance lawyers around Washington are drawing attention to a provision in the defense authorization law Congress passed in December. It bars retiring military officers of high rank and top Defense Department civilians who leave the Pentagon from lobbying there for two years, while some lower level officers now face a one-year lobbying ban.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Time to Stop Relying on Magic Asterisks to Fix the Budget
Andrew Wilford, Morning Consult

President Donald Trump campaigned on a platform of limiting government spending and promised to eliminate the national debt within eight years, but one year into his presidency America’s fiscal outlook is gloomier than ever. If Republicans are going to reclaim the mantle as the party of responsible budgeting, they need to stop relying on unspecified future cuts and make spending restraint a reality.  

Let the Teachers Teach
The Editorial Board, The New York Times

President Trump on Thursday repeated his call for “highly trained” schoolteachers to pack heat in their classrooms. If they were armed, the president said, they could fire back immediately at school shooters like the young man with an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle who took 17 lives in Parkland, Fla. 

The Russians are coming. Republicans need to do something about it.
Editorial Board, The Washington Post

President Trump has shown an alarming unwillingness to respond to Russia’s hostile influence campaign during the 2016 election and to counter its effort to interfere in this year’s vote. That means Congress and the states must step in, and soon, to secure the midterms against an emboldened adversary that has already penetrated state election systems once and that continues to wield online provocateurs to disseminate lies and inflame national divisions.

How Putin meddles in Western democracies
The Economist

In the late 1980s, as Mikhail Gorbachev launched perestroika, Russia made peace with the West. It was possible to believe that each would give up trying to subvert the other with lies and cold-war conspiracy theories.

Research Reports and Polling

Trump Rated Best on Terrorism, the Economy; Better on Taxes
Lydia Saad, Gallup

President Donald Trump’s job approval ratings on various issues range from 34% of Americans approving of how he is managing relations with the news media to 52% approving of his handling of terrorism. Trump also earns bare majority approval, 51%, on the economy.

Voters still heavily undecided in Democratic gubernatorial primary; Senatorial primary strongly favors Cardin
Goucher College

The Goucher Poll asked Maryland residents about their opinions toward the Democrats current running for Governor of Maryland and US Senate. Goucher Poll surveyed 409 Maryland Democratic primary voters from February 12-18 and has a margin of error of +/-4.8 percent.