The Republican Party’s biggest donors are descending on DONALD TRUMP’S turf, Palm Beach, this weekend to huddle over the future of the party. But don’t take the location as a sign that these donors will be pledging allegiance to Trump at the RNC’s spring retreat, like the grassroots did at CPAC in Orlando last month.
The program will focus on how to grow the party after Trump’s 2020 defeat. And a big part of that, said one attendee who advises a top Republican donor, is limiting Trump’s influence if the GOP is going to win back the suburbs.
“The thing on every donor’s mind is how much sway Trump should have on the party,” this person told Playbook, citing disappointment among donors about Trump’s role in the Jan. 6 riot and the losses in the Georgia Senate races.
Another worry among GOP officials and fundraisers ahead of the big event, as reported by McClatchy’s Adam Wollner this week, is that Trump’s “own political group will cannibalize a significant portion of the party’s financial base heading into a critical midterm election cycle.”
The challenge for these titans of industry, of course, is that tens of millions of Republican voters remain loyal to Trump.
The event will feature a roster of 2024 hopefuls including former Secretary of State MIKE POMPEO, Sens. MARCO RUBIO (R-Fla.), TOM COTTON (R-Ark.), and RICK SCOTT (R-Fla.), and Govs. RON DESANTIS of Florida and Gov. KRISTI NOEM of South Dakota. Sens. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-S.C.) and RON JOHNSON (R-Wis.) and House Minority Leader KEVIN MCCARTHY will also be speaking.
The RNC has rented out the entire Four Seasons hotel for the weekend, but attendees will have to migrate over to Mar-a-Lago to hear Trump speak at a cocktail event.
The RNC donor retreat is one of several political events for the GOP this weekend. Former White House chief of staff MARK MEADOWS and former Sen. JIM DEMINT are holding a two-day event at Mar-a-Lago for their newly formed 501(c)(3), the Conservative Partnership Institute. While it would appear to be the Trumpier of the two events, it’s causing headaches for aides running Trump’s political operation because CPI can raise unlimited funds, putting it in direct competition with Trump’s nascent super PAC.
Finally, “Women for America First” will be hosting a three-day event dubbed the “Save America Summit” at Trump’s Doral golf course in Miami. It’s slated to draw speakers including Reps. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-Ga.) and MATT GAETZ (R-Fla.) and Sen. RAND PAUL (R-Ky.). Women for America First helped organize the “March for Trump” rally on Jan. 6.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM TODAY’S GUNS ANNOUNCEMENT — “Biden to take a flurry of actions on gun control,” WaPo: “The president will also tap David Chipman — a veteran ATF special agent who for five years has served as senior policy adviser at Giffords — as his nominee to lead the bureau, a key agency in the fight against gun violence that has gone without a permanent director for years. …
“Biden on Thursday will also direct the Justice Department to draft a new rule regulating a device that, once placed on a pistol, turns it into a short-barreled rifle. DOJ will also craft a template for states to enact red-flag laws … The other actions include a directive to the Justice Department to issue a report on gun trafficking and an order for more funding of community violence intervention programs.”
BIDEN’S THURSDAY — President JOE BIDEN and VP KAMALA HARRIS will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 10:45 a.m. They’ll deliver remarks, along with A.G. MERRICK GARLAND, about gun violence prevention. at 11:45 a.m. in the Rose Garden. Biden and Harris will have lunch together at 1 p.m. and receive a Covid-19 briefing at 4:15 p.m.
— Press secretary JEN PSAKI will brief at 12:30 p.m. with Energy Secretary JENNIFER GRANHOLM.
THE HOUSE will meet at 3 p.m. and THE SENATE at 5:30 p.m. in pro forma sessions. Speaker NANCY PELOSI will hold her weekly presser via teleconference at 2 p.m.
IN CASE HE WASN’T CLEAR THE LAST THOUSAND TIMES — “I will not vote to eliminate or weaken the filibuster,” by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va) in WaPo
PARLIAMENTARY HANGOVER — “Schumer’s filibuster workaround spurs mass confusion,” by Caitlin Emma: “The parliamentarian had advised that Democrats can revisit the complex budget maneuver that was used to pass Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package and unlock a second opportunity at clearing major legislation without Senate Republican votes. Still, even as Schumer’s aide touted the ruling as ‘an important step forward’ in giving Democrats a powerful extra pathway to avert a GOP filibuster, he acknowledged that ‘some parameters still need to be worked out.’
“The befuddlement that still surrounds the parliamentarian’s opinion has major consequences for the Democratic agenda. The decision could give Democrats at least three more opportunities to steer bills past Republican opposition before the midterm elections without trying to axe the Senate filibuster — a move that doesn’t yet have universal support within their party. But if the ruling carries certain constraints, enduring the grueling budget process could be much less appetizing for Democratic leaders.”
WHY YOU NEED TO START TAKING ANDREW YANG SERIOUSLY — “What If Andrew Yang Wins?” The Atlantic: “His proposals are radical. He’s obsessed with robots. He’s never even worked in government. And next year he might be running New York. … Given the horrors of the past year, many [New York City] voters have lost what patience they had for incremental progress and technocratic small ball. Yang is going big. He has a deep campaign war chest and better name recognition than any other candidate in the crowded race. While it remains competitive — Eric Adams, Brooklyn’s borough president, and Maya Wiley, a former counsel to Mayor Bill de Blasio, have significant support — as of mid-March, Yang led the field by a 13-point margin.”
AND THIS: “‘A mini-Trump’: New York mayoral candidates look to take down Yang,” by Erin Durkin: “Everybody’s ganging up on Andrew Yang. The New York City mayor’s race has grown more vicious in recent weeks — and the favorite target is Yang, who has come under attack for everything from his basic income and tax plans to his employment history and his second home upstate.
“The aggressive hits on Yang reflect his status as front runner in recent polls, as the more established politicians who are now trailing him in the Democratic primary race scramble to take him down a notch and make an impression with the roughly half of voters who remain undecided.”
NEW THIS A.M. — “AP Exclusive: Northam endorses McAuliffe for Va. governor”
FOR YOUR RADAR — “Quarterly Gap in Party Affiliation Largest Since 2012,” Gallup: “[A]n average of 49% of U.S. adults identified with the Democratic Party or said they are independents who lean toward the Democratic Party. That compares with 40% who identified as Republicans or Republican leaners. The nine-percentage-point Democratic advantage is the largest Gallup has measured since the fourth quarter of 2012.”
THE WHITE HOUSE
BIDEN’S WEDNESDAY SPEECH — “Biden says he’s open to compromise with Republicans on $2 trillion infrastructure plan,” WaPo
ON THE OTHER HAND … @jmartNYT: “The 10 GOP senators who tried to cut a covid deal are angry about Biden’s comments today. ‘The Administration roundly dismissed our effort as wholly inadequate in order to justify its go-it-alone strategy,’ they say in a new statement.”
GOOD LUCK WITH THAT — “Biden’s Tax Plan Aims to Raise $2.5 Trillion and End Profit-Shifting,” NYT: “Large companies like Apple and Bristol Myers Squibb have long employed complicated maneuvers to reduce or eliminate their tax bills by shifting income on paper between countries. The strategy has enriched accountants and shareholders, while driving down corporate tax receipts for the federal government. President Biden sees ending that practice as central to his $2 trillion infrastructure package.”
WHAT AOC IS READING — “Biden Can Go Bigger and Not ‘Pay for It’ the Old Way,” by Stephanie Kelton, author of “The Deficit Myth,” in the NYT: “By focusing on how much revenue they hope to raise from tax increases on the well-off, Democrats risk limiting the scope of their ambitions.”
AND — “How Bidenomics Seeks to Remake the Economic Consensus,” WSJ: “Declaring end to neoliberalism, new thinkers play down constraints of deficits, inflation and incentives.”
TOP-ED — “When Biden targeted the All-Star Game, he hit the wrong Georgia,” by Charles Hayslett in WaPo: “President Biden and Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred apparently never got the memo about the Two Georgias. That’s about the only conclusion to be drawn from their reaction to the enactment of Georgia Senate Bill 202, a.k.a. “‘The Election Integrity Act of 2021.’ When Biden publicly urged MLB to strip Atlanta of this year’s All-Star Game, he was basically calling in friendly fire on his own party’s home turf in perhaps the most politically important state in the nation right now.
“More specifically, the president targeted Cobb County, home of the Atlanta Braves’ Truist Park, which had long been a GOP bastion before finally tipping Democratic in 2016 and then giving Biden a 56,000-vote margin in 2020. Kudos to the political wizards who helped him think that one through.”
LAWYERING UP — “Trump Organization Hires Criminal Defense Lawyer,” WSJ: “The Trump Organization has hired Ronald Fischetti, an experienced New York criminal-defense attorney, to represent it in Manhattan prosecutors’ investigation into the business dealings of the former president and his company.
“Mr. Fischetti, 84 years old, is a former law partner of Mark Pomerantz, the former federal prosecutor working on the investigation for the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.”
SHOW ME THE MONEY — “Trump relaunches his fundraising machine after months of quiet,” by Alex Isenstadt: “Former President Donald Trump is reigniting his small-dollar fundraising operation for the first time since leaving the White House, part of his political ramp-up to stake out an outsize role in the 2022 midterm elections and expand his financial network ahead of a potential 2024 comeback bid. Trump on Wednesday reopened his online merchandise store, which was shuttered following the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, when Shopify, the e-commerce company that had been hosting the site, closed it down.
“The proceeds are filling the coffers of Trump’s political action committee, Save America, which he can use for an array of political activities, such as holding campaign events and dishing out cash to favored candidates. Save America PAC currently has around $85 million in the bank, according to a Trump adviser, a substantial sum that is likely to dwarf what other conservative committees have on hand at such an early point in the 2022 election cycle.”
(NOT) FOR THE HISTORY BOOKS — “Twitter won’t let National Archives revive @realDonaldTrump,” by Quint Forgey: “Twitter will not allow the National Archives to make former President Donald Trump’s past tweets from his @realDonaldTrump account available on the social media platform, the company told POLITICO on Wednesday, in the latest display of Silicon Valley’s power over communications channels used by the U.S. government.”
TAKE THIS JOB AND … “Anchor Brooke Baldwin claims CNN’s leadership too male-dominated,” NY Post: “With little over a week left on the job, outgoing CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin is raising the curtain on the network’s male-dominated executive staff and how she had to ‘fight for women’s stories.’ ‘The most influential anchors on our network, the highest-paid, are men. My bosses, my executives, are men. The person who oversees CNN Dayside is a man, and my executive producer for 10 years is a man. So I’ve been surrounded by a lot of men,’ Baldwin, 41, said on the Ms. Magazine podcast Monday.
“‘I was surrounded by a lot of dudes,’ she said of her experience rising through the ranks.”
WHEN POLITICIANS PODCAST — “Pod Can’t Save America: Why are powerful leaders all trying to be Oprah Winfrey?” Jacobin: “To be clear, nothing in this profusion of content is objectionable — and some of it, like the disability rights doc Crip Camp and Oscar-winning American Factory — is worthwhile. But the shows in which the Obamas themselves take top billing tend to be ambling good-natured conversations most notable for their tepid blandness. … This focus on storytelling and feeding yourself more nutritious media seems to reflect a curious lack of urgency in the face mounting crises. It’s as if the forces corroding our institutions and threatening the planet represented long-term philosophical dilemmas that need to be calmly workshopped and TED-talked rather than a series of imminent disasters.
“Why clench your fist in resistance, Obama seems to be asking, when you can extend an arm for a handshake?” (It’s not just the Obamas: The author has some words for the Clintons and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, too.)
FIRST AMENDMENT RULING — “Former Rep. Katie Hill loses first round in her lawsuit alleging revenge porn,” L.A. Times: “A British tabloid did not violate California’s revenge-porn law by publishing intimate pictures of then-Rep. Katie Hill without her consent, a judge ruled on Wednesday. The Daily Mail’s news gathering and publication of images depicting a nude Hill brushing another woman’s hair and holding a bong are protected by the 1st Amendment, and the content of the pictures was in the public interest because of Hill’s position as an elected official, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Yolanda Orozco wrote in a decision that dismissed Hill’s case against the Daily Mail. Hill vowed to appeal.”
AMERICA AND THE WORLD
COMING SOON — “Biden About to Make Huge, Last-Second Gamble on Afghanistan,” The Daily Beast: “With less than a month to go before a diplomatic accord with the Taliban requires U.S. forces to withdraw from their longest-ever overseas war, the Biden administration is now trying to make their May 1 drawdown deadline irrelevant.
“According to multiple sources in and close to the administration, none of whom would speak for attribution ahead of President Biden announcing a decision on Afghanistan, a forthcoming diplomatic summit in Istanbul is crucial. There, U.S. negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad will attempt to sell the Taliban and Washington’s client Afghan government on something approaching a power-sharing deal.”
TO RUSSIA, WITH LOVE — “Biden Eyes Russia Retaliation After Review of Meddling, Hacking,” Bloomberg: “Biden administration officials have completed an intelligence review of alleged Russian misdeeds … Possible moves could involve sanctions and the expulsion of Russian intelligence officers in the U.S. under diplomatic cover.”
BOOK CLUB — Former VP Mike Pence will publish his autobiography with Simon & Schuster. It’s a two-book deal, with the first (as yet untitled) planned for 2023. More from CNN: “Pence signs a seven-figure book deal, but Trump and other administration alums face a tough market in publishing”
REAL ESTATE SECTION — “Trump Adviser Stephen Miller Selling His Luxury DC Condo for $1.2M,” Realtor.com: “The conservative aide credited as the architect of the Trump administration’s controversial immigration policy purchased the newly built condo in 2014 for $973,000. … Miller’s apartment is a high-end urban retreat. Built in 2013, and located in the upscale CityCenter, the two-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom layout has 1,176 square feet of living space. Details include wide-plank floors, full-height windows, and custom details incorporating environmentally responsible materials, according to the listing.”
MEDIAWATCH — Lawfare is today launching a new six-part podcast, “After Trump,” with Bob Bauer, Jack Goldsmith and Virginia Heffernan. It’s based on Bauer and Goldsmith’s book last year of the same name, and explores “how Congress and the Biden administration can repair the damage left by Trump, reform the presidency and limit future abuses of executive power.” Listen
— Joe Schoffstall will join Fox News as a producer/reporter. He currently is a staff writer at the Washington Free Beacon covering money in politics. … John Eligon will be Johannesburg bureau chief for the NYT. He currently is a national correspondent who’s covered race and inequality. Announcement … Job posting to replace him
TRANSITIONS — Ben Weingrod is joining Foreign Policy for America as senior director for policy. He previously was director of government relations at CARE. … Christina Gungoll Lepore is now director of Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt’s D.C. office. She’s a Joni Ernst, Frank Lucas and Tom Bliley alum. … Thomas Kahn has been named a distinguished fellow at American University’s Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies. He was House Budget Committee staff director for 20 years and currently teaches a course about Congress at American. … Morgan Ortagus has started as one of the founding investment professionals at Rubicon Founders, a health care investment firm launched by Adam Boehler. She most recently was the State Department spokesperson.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) … Chuck Todd … Mary Beth Cahill … Susan Brophy … former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay … Seymour Hersh … Robin Sproul of Javelin … Mike Leiter of Skadden Arps … NYT’s Dave Shaw … WaPo’s Zach Goldfarb … Madeline Beecher … Annie Palisi … Mike Cohen of the Cohen Research Group … Ro’s Meghan Pianta … WSJ’s Lukas Alpert … Jack Daly … NBCUniversal’s Lauren Skowronski … Targeted Victory’s David Crane … Raymond Siller … Melissa Wagoner Olesen … Maria Orilla … Aaron Klein … E&E News’ Corbin Hiar … Dan Gainor … Liz Wasden … Kate Stence … Jim Garamone … NPR’s Emily Hamilton … POLITICO’s Christian Guirreri … Brady Brookes … Liza Georges … Wendy Ruderman
Send Playbookers tips to [email protected]. Playbook couldn’t happen without our editor Mike Zapler and producers Allie Bice, Eli Okun and Garrett Ross.