President Donald Trump “averaged 41% job approval during his first quarter as president, 14 percentage points lower than any other president in Gallup’s polling history. Bill Clinton had the previous low mark of 55%. The average first-quarter rating among post-World War II presidents elected to their first term is 61%, with John Kennedy’s 74% the highest.” (release)
100 DAY MARK LOOMS. The Trump White House is looking to avoid a government shutdown right around the 100 day mark of his presidency. “The White House, under internal pressure to show legislative achievements ahead of the 100-day mark, is gearing up for a government shutdown fight to secure money for a border wall, more immigration enforcement officers and a bigger military. … Officials could also strike a one-week compromise, giving them more time for a broader agreement.” (Politico)
Trump is also “pushing Congress toward another dramatic showdown over the Affordable Care Act, despite big outstanding obstacles to a beleaguered revision plan and a high-stakes deadline next week to keep the government running. …The effort reflects Trump’s sense of urgency to score a victory on Obamacare replacement and move on to other legislative objectives, notably tax restructuring. Passing an Affordable Care Act revision would also allow the president to show progress toward a major campaign promise as he completes his first 100 days in office.” (Washington Post)
RUSSIA INVESTIGATION. Mary McCord, the “woman leading the Justice Department’s investigation of foreign meddling into the 2016 election and possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia has told staff members she will leave the department in May.” (NPR)
“US authorities have prepared charges to seek the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange…The Justice Department investigation of Assange and WikiLeaks dates to at least 2010, when the site first gained wide attention for posting thousands of files stolen by the former US Army intelligence analyst now known as Chelsea Manning. …US intelligence agencies have also determined that Russian intelligence used WikiLeaks to publish emails aimed at undermining the campaign of Hillary Clinton, as part of a broader operation to meddle in the US 2016 presidential election.” (CNN)
TRUMP FAMILY BUSINESS. Out of ethics concerns, Ivanka Trump won’t promote her new book and will donate all proceeds to charity. (The Hill)
“China is defending its handling of trademark applications from … Ivanka and her company, saying that all such requests are handled fairly.” (Los Angeles Times)
FRENCH ELECTION. “Trump weighed in on French politics on Friday, asserting on Twitter that ‘another terrorist attack’ in Paris would ‘have a big effect on the presidential election!’” The tweet was “referring to a deadly shootout on the Champs-Elysees, Paris’s most famous avenue, on Thursday night that claimed the life of a police officer.”
Marine Le Pen, “one of the leading candidates in the race, has echoed many of Trump’s campaign themes, including dire warnings that her country is losing its identity,” but Trump didn’t advocate for her by name. (Washington Post)
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"A long-simmering feud between two of President Trump’s top advisers reached a boiling point Thursday, as White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci publicly insinuated that chief of staff Reince Priebus is a leaker."
"President Donald Trump isn't going to just let go of Sen. Lisa Murkowski's no vote on Tuesday's health care. Early Wednesday, Trump took to Twitter to express displeasure with Murkowski's vote. By that afternoon, each of Alaska's two Republican senators had received a phone call from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke letting them know the vote had put Alaska's future with the administration in jeopardy."
President Trump has nominated Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback to be ambassador at large for international religious freedom at the Department of State. Governor since 2011, Brownback worked on religious freedom issues while a U.S. senator from 1996 to 2011.
"The Treasury Department imposed financial sanctions on a host of current and former senior Venezuelan officials on Wednesday and threatened to take more stringent action if President Nicolás Maduro proceeds with plans for a constituent assembly on Sunday that critics consider a danger to democracy."
LGBT groups are unsure how literally to take President Trump's tweet on Wednesday that he wants to ban transgender persons from the military, or whether it will be followed up by an official order. But if so, groups like Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union "are ready to take legal action."