President Trump geared up to launch “a fundraising initiative that mimics the famed George W. Bush ‘Pioneer’ program. … As with Bush, the president will reward donors who’ve bundled thousands of dollars in contributions, giving them an entree to exclusive dinners, political briefings, and future retreats.
“Under the plan, which is intended to provide a fundraising infrastructure that was lacking from Trump’s 2016 campaign, donors who raise $25,000 will join the ‘Trump Train’ and those who bundle $45,000 will be part of the ‘45 Club.’ The program, which will jointly benefit Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee, will introduce higher class levels for larger dollar amounts in the future. Funds raised will also go toward the party’s 2018 efforts.”
“Trump is slowly building a 2020 campaign apparatus even as he endures the most tumultuous stretch of his presidency. While top advisers bolt the White House and a special counsel zeroes in on the president’s ties to Russia, Trump is tapping a new campaign manager, taking steps to fend off would-be primary challengers, and lining up travel to critical 2020 states.
“He has told friends privately that he wants to raise a massive amount of money in the months to come. Plans for the bundling program have been in the works for weeks.”
Former Trump spokesman Jason Miller: “Just because the Democrats and many in the media refuse to get over 2016 doesn’t mean President Trump should take his focus off 2020,. It’s important that President Trump continue to lay the groundwork for a strong reelection campaign because he’s not going to be able to drain the swamp overnight.” (Politico)
TEXAS. “Making an extraordinary effort to unseat state Rep. Sarah Davis—a fellow Republican—Gov. Greg Abbott has called it a ‘fight for the very future of both the Republican Party and the state of Texas.’ … On the line Tuesday is not only the political career of an all-but-extinct breed in Texas—a moderate, pro-abortion rights Republican—but also Abbott’s ability to influence a down-ballot election as the most popular GOP statewide official.”
Davis: “I represent so many Republicans that are just like me and feel that I give them a voice and a home in the party, and without someone like me, they are starting to wonder: What does it even mean to be a Republican? We have to be a big-tent party.” (Texas Tribune)
TARIFFS. “Trump’s threatened trade war has opened a rift within the Republican Party that some lawmakers and strategists believe could undermine their effort to keep their majorities in Congress.
“Republicans plan to brag about the economy in midterm campaigns in hopes of countering Trump’s unpopularity, touting a strong stock market, low unemployment rate and—most importantly—their increasingly popular tax legislation. But Trump’s suggestion Saturday that he might slap penalties on European cars, in addition to the tariffs on aluminum and steel he already promised, could upend that strategy completely, Republicans say.”
“The clash suggests that what might be good politics for Trump personally might not work for the entire party. While narrow action directed at China alone might be well received, two top Republican congressional campaign sources said any broader trade actions—such as what Trump is floating now—could be devastating.
“And it’s also allowing Democrats to hug Trump just when Republicans have been trying to position the opposing party as detrimental to Trump’s economy. Vulnerable Democratic incumbents from the Rust Belt have rushed to praise Trump for taking action that could help industries in their states.” (Politico)
CONTEXT: “Mr. Trump argues that free trade has hollowed out America’s industrial base and saddled the country with huge trade deficits. He has promised to recover lost ground with an ‘America first’ trade policy. But putting America first may not put all American workers ahead.
“‘There are more losers than winners,’ said Monica de Bolle, an economist at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. ‘If the point is to protect American jobs, if the point is to protect small and medium-sized businesses, this is exactly the wrong way to do things.’
“The mills and smelters that supply the raw material, and that would directly benefit from the tariffs, have been shrinking for years. Today, those industries employ fewer than 200,000 people. The companies that buy steel and aluminum, to make everything from trucks to chicken coops, employ more than 6.5 million workers, according to a Heritage Foundation analysis of Commerce Department data.”(New York Times)
Meanwhile, the National Association of Manufacturers “says U.S. companies pay hundreds of millions of dollars each year on unnecessary import fees. Critics say that miscellaneous tariff bills, which began decades ago as modest efforts to help U.S. manufacturers, have in recent years become sprawling packages of tariff reductions that undercut domestic producers without the means to defend their interests in Washington.” (Reuters)
KASICH. Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) “praised the young people advocating for gun reform measures following the Florida school shooting in February.”
Kasich: “What I hope is going to happen is, we will make some steps. And young people, the millennials, the Gen Xers are saying, ‘Look, we have heard enough. Deliver something. Deliver something. We don’t want all these excuses. Deliver something.’” (The Hill)
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The Trump Administration will sanction China over the purchase of Russian-made fighter jets and anti-aircraft weapons systems. "The sanctions are being imposed pursuant to the 2017 sanctions law punishing Russian interference in the 2016 elections, which threatens to sanction any third party that conducts a 'significant transaction' with the Russian defense industry." State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert cited "the delivery to China of Su-35 combat aircraft in 2017 and S-400 surface-to-air missile system-related equipment in 2018" as the transactions that led to the sanctions.
President Trump named retiring Rep. Darrell Issa "to head the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, setting up what could be a contentious confirmation battle in the Senate." As former House Oversight Committee chairman, Issa accused top IRS officials "of targeting conservative groups for political purposes, led the charge to hold former Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt, and accused President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton of trying to covering up the Benghazi, Libya, terrorist attacks in 2012." If confirmed, Issa would lead the Trump Administration's multi-front effort to renegotiate more favorable trade deals.
"Christine Blasey Ford told Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley Tuesday night that she wants the FBI to investigate her claims of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, raising further doubts about whether she and Kavanaugh will appear before the committee on Monday." Grassley still wants her to