Sen. Orrin Hatch (R), “the longest-serving Senate Republican, announced Tuesday that he will retire at the end of the year, rebuffing personal pleas from President Trump to seek an eighth term and paving the way for Mitt Romney, a critic of Mr. Trump’s, to run for the seat.”
“Romney’s potential ascent is particularly alarming to the White House because the former presidential candidate has an extensive political network and could use the Senate seat as a platform to again seek the nomination.”
Hatch “made his decision public on Tuesday afternoon via a video announcement.”
“When the president visited Utah last month, he said I was a fighter. I’ve always been a fighter. I was an amateur boxer in my youth, and I’ve brought that fighting spirit with me to Washington,” he said. “But every good fighter knows when to hang up the gloves. And for me, that time is soon approaching.”
“In a statement he posted on Facebook on Tuesday, Mr. Romney made no mention of his intentions; he only saluted Mr. Hatch.”
“By Tuesday evening, Mr. Romney had updated his Twitter profile to change his location to Holladay, Utah, from Massachusetts. Mr. Romney intends to make his intentions known in a matter of weeks, according to an adviser who spoke on the condition of anonymity. His senior campaign team will include … [Spencer] Zwick; Matt Waldrip, who had been running Mr. Romney’s annual policy retreats; and his former chief of staff, Beth Myers.” (New York Times)
“Romney advisers said Tuesday that they expect him to run for the seat, although the man known for employing a methodical decision-making process has not made a final decision. One adviser said that any announcement would not come anytime soon.” (Boston Globe)
STAYING OUT. Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox (R) said he will not run for the seat and endorsed a Romney bid. (Twitter)
WHITE HOUSE REACTION. “White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday she had not discussed Romney’s potential candidacy with Trump and could not say whether the president would support him.” (AP)
BEHIND THE SCENES. During a phone call with Romney last month, Trump “told Romney that he knew he was thinking about running. But according to one person familiar with the conversation, the details of which have not been reported before, Trump didn’t press the former Massachusetts governor about his thinking or ask why he might be interested in being a senator. Romney’s aides came away convinced the president was trying to suss out Romney’s intentions and position himself as an ally, when he’d been anything but.”
Meanwhile, two other Republicans are being floated for the seat, including state Auditor John Dougall and state Rep. Daniel McCay, though Romney will be the heavy favorite if he runs. (Politico)
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"Republican megadonor Foster Friess has told party leaders in Wyoming that he plans to run for governor," and is expected to make an announcement this afternoon. Friess has donated "millions of dollars to Republican candidates and causes over the last decade, according to federal campaign finance records," including over "$1.7 million to boost Santorum's [presidential] campaign" in 2016. Gov. Matt Mead (R) is term-limited, and "a handful of Republicans are running in an open primary to succeed him in one of the reddest states in the country."
Four Palestinian protestors have been killed by Israeli fire near the Gaza-Israel border, bringing the death toll to 38, in what marks the "fourth consecutive week of Gaza's March of Return mass protests." The marches are part of a "month-and-a-half-long protest organized by Hamas near the border fence," which organizers have said will not stop before May 15. The marches are intended to emulate anti-apartheid protests in South Africa, and to commemorate the forced expulsion of Palestinians from their homes in 1948, during the establishment of the State of Israel.
"Former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe is looking to sue for defamation, wrongful termination and other possible civil claims, his lawyer told reporters Friday." McCabe's attorney Michael Bromwich said that his team "hasn't managed to find any witnesses to corroborate McCabe's version of the story," although they have not had enough time to do so. "McCabe’s lawyers are also seeking ways to release the emails between McCabe and Comey, which would offer insight into their communication about the leaks to the Wall Street Journal."
"The Democratic National Committee filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit Friday against the Russian government, the Trump campaign and the WikiLeaks organization alleging a far-reaching conspiracy to disrupt the 2016 campaign and tilt the election to Donald Trump. The complaint, filed in federal district court in Manhattan, alleges that top Trump campaign officials conspired with the Russian government and its military spy agency to hurt Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and help Trump by hacking the computer networks of the Democratic Party and disseminating stolen material found there." The DNC is seeking "millions of dollars in compensation to offset damage it claims the party suffered from the hacks," and is arguing the cyberattack" undermined its ability to communicate with voters, collect donations and operate effectively as its employees faced personal harassment and, in some cases, death threats."
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency have fined Wells Fargo $1 billion dollars for convincing customers to buy insurance they did not need, and could not afford. "In October, the bank revealed that some mortgage borrowers were inappropriately charged for missing a deadline to lock in promised interest rates, even though the delays were Wells Fargo's fault." The bank has also apologized for . "charging as many as 570,000 clients for car insurance they didn't need," and found that about 20,000 of those customers "may have defaulted on their car loans and had their vehicles repossessed in part because of those unnecessary insurance costs."