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Judge says Pence must testify to Jan. 6 grand jury

Politico -

A federal judge has ordered former vice president Mike Pence to testify in the federal probe of Donald Trump’s bid to subvert the 2020 election, according to a person familiar with the ruling.

Judge James Boasberg largely rejected an effort by the former president to assert executive privilege over Pence’s testimony, the person said. But Boasberg, the chief judge of the federal district court in Washington, agreed, at least in part, with Pence’s legal team that the former vice president enjoys immunity from testifying about certain topics due to his role as president of the Senate on Jan. 6, 2021.

It was not immediately clear whether Boasberg’s ruling, which remains under seal, is broad enough to satisfy Pence’s public resistance to the subpoena — issued by special counsel Jack Smith — or whether he intends to appeal.

Pence has indicated he’s open to answering certain categories of questions related to Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election despite losing the race to Joe Biden. But he has argued","link":{"target":"NEW","attributes":[],"url":"https://www.politico.com/news/2023/02/14/pence-subpoena-trump-election-00082637","_id":"00000187-29d7-d451-abff-e9d77d290000","_type":"33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df"},"_id":"00000187-29d7-d451-abff-e9d77d290001","_type":"02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266"}">he has argued that the vice president’s unusual role — both a top member of the executive branch and president of the Senate — entitles him to immunity typically afforded to members of Congress. He has indicated he’s willing to take the fight to the Supreme Court","link":{"target":"NEW","attributes":[],"url":"https://www.politico.com/news/2023/02/15/pence-confirms-he-will-fight-justice-department-subpoena-00083113","_id":"00000187-29d7-d451-abff-e9d77d290002","_type":"33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df"},"_id":"00000187-29d7-d451-abff-e9d77d290003","_type":"02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266"}">take the fight to the Supreme Court if he doesn’t like the outcome.

CNN and ABC first reported on Boasberg’s decision to require Pence to testify on some aspects of the Jan. 6 probe.

It’s a complex argument with extraordinary ramifications, both for the investigation into potential crimes by Trump in his bid to seize a second term, and for the separation of powers that define the federal government. Pence’s argument has been largely untested in courts, but the Justice Department has, on at least three occasions, argued that vice presidents should enjoy so-called “speech or debate","link":{"target":"NEW","attributes":[],"url":"https://constitution.congress.gov/browse/essay/artI-S6-C1-3-1/ALDE_00013300/","_id":"00000187-29d7-d451-abff-e9d77d290004","_type":"33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df"},"_id":"00000187-29d7-d451-abff-e9d77d290005","_type":"02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266"}">speech or debate” immunity that largely protects members of Congress from answering in court for their legislative acts.

Pence did not adopt Trump’s separate argument — that his assertion of executive privilege bars Pence’s potential testimony. Multiple courts have rejected claims of executive privilege and attorney-client privilege amid his efforts to prevent witnesses from testifying before Smith’s grand juries. One of those grand juries is probing Trump’s handling of classified records he retained at his Mar-a-Lago estate after leaving office.

Legal scholars generally agree that Pence has a legitimate case that his role as president of the Senate may warrant immunity from testimony sought by the executive branch. The federal appeals court in Washington is expected to rule imminently","link":{"target":"NEW","attributes":[],"url":"https://www.politico.com/news/2023/02/23/appeals-court-perry-speech-debate-jan-6-00084180","_id":"00000187-29d7-d451-abff-e9d77d290006","_type":"33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df"},"_id":"00000187-29d7-d451-abff-e9d77d290007","_type":"02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266"}">expected to rule imminently on a separate effort by Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) to cite the Constitution’s “speech or debate” clause to prevent Smith from accessing his cell phone data. U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell — who handed the chief’s gavel to Boasberg earlier this month — rejected most of Perry’s claims","link":{"target":"NEW","attributes":[],"url":"https://www.politico.com/news/2023/02/24/judge-rejected-scott-perrys-bid-to-shield-2-000-emails-from-jan-6-investigators-unsealed-filings-show-00084442","_id":"00000187-29d7-d451-abff-e9d77d290008","_type":"33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df"},"_id":"00000187-29d7-d451-abff-e9d77d290009","_type":"02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266"}">rejected most of Perry’s claims in a December ruling she recently unsealed.

Trump makes a big move in the Granite State

Politico -

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Donald Trump has tapped an operative to lead his 2024 efforts in New Hampshire. And for the role, he’s turned to a veteran of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s 2016 presidential bid.

Trevor Naglieri will serve as Trump’s New Hampshire state director, according to two GOP operatives familiar with the move.

Naglieri was a field coordinator for Bush in 2016 and went on to serve as New Hampshire field director and then national field director for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). He most recently managed Pennsylvania Republican Jeremy Shaffer’s unsuccessful 2022 congressional bid. He also did stints at Republican consulting firm Axiom Strategies.

Naglieri is Trump’s second big hire in New Hampshire. Two months ago, POLITICO first reported that former state GOP Chair Steve Stepanek, a longtime ally, would serve as a senior adviser to the former president in the first-in-the-nation primary state. The two join Alex Latcham, one of Trump’s Iowa hires, who’s overseeing all early state operations.

New Hampshire handed Trump his first primary win in 2016 — in which he defeated both Bush and Cruz. But he went on to lose the state in both the 2016 and 2020 general elections.

The Naglieri hire further illustrates the dual tracks that Trump is currently on: moving aggressively on a third run for the White House while simultaneously battling legal woes on several fronts.

His rivals have yet to take similar steps on the staffing front.

Former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley has been leaning on volunteers including former U.S. Senate candidate Don Bolduc and former congressional hopeful Matt Mayberry to help coordinate her meetings and events in New Hampshire. Mayberry also volunteered at a recent county GOP event for former Vice President Mike Pence.

And when former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who’s also mulling a bid, came to Manchester this week for a town hall and dinner with his 2016 supporters, former aide Matt Mowers was there to lend a helping hand.

White House: U.S. has no current plans for Netanyahu visit

Politico -

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not have any current plans to visit the United States following days of mass protests in Israel over plans for a judicial overhaul.

On Tuesday morning, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides said in a radio interview that the White House would soon invite Netanyahu to visit, according to the Associated Press. Nides said Netanyahu would most likely visit after the weeklong Passover holiday beginning next week.

Though later on Tuesday, Principal Deputy press secretary Olivia Dalton told reporters that the United States has no immediate plans for Netanyahu to visit.

"There's no plans for Prime Minister Netanyahu to visit Washington. Israeli leaders have a long history, tradition of visiting Washington, and Prime Minister Netanyahu will likely take a visit at some point, but there's nothing currently planned,” Dalton said.

After two days of protest, Netanyahu announced a delay in his judicial overhaul plan Monday, stating that he wanted to find a compromise with his political opponents. Over the weekend, Netanyahu also fired his defense minister for opposing the overhaul.

The White House on Monday said they welcomed Netanyahu’s announcement as an “opportunity to create additional time and space for compromise.”

“Compromise is precisely what we have been calling for. And we continue to strongly urge Israeli leaders to find a compromise as soon as possible,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Monday.

What Rupert Murdoch and Logan Roy Figured Out

Politico -

If you seek a quick synopsis of "Succession," the HBO prestige drama that just opened its fourth season, recall everything you’ve ever heard remember about tycoon Rupert Murdoch, his media conglomerate and his three adult children who have vied over the years to succeed him. Then, pour a habanero cocktail of familial back-stabbing, attempted patricide, drug dependence, sexual malfunction, craven ambition, more craven ambition, infidelity, wanton consumption, and if you have any spare craven ambition, more of that, over the clan. Having fixed the tableau, complete the vision by understanding that nearly every major character behaves like a Richard III clone, minus the limp. The series is such a chorus of detestables that it makes the real-life Murdoch family seem like the Brady bunch in comparison.

It’s great TV! But there are also real lessons for those fascinated by, or foolishly employed in, the media business, an industry that’s currently on the bust part of the boom-and-bust cycle.

For those who haven’t watched yet, the usual spoiler warning applies. The season opener finds the detestable "Succession" Kids — Shiv, Roman and Kendall Roy — canvassing investors for start-up cash for their new media outlet, The Hundred, now that their season three coup attempt against their father Logan has failed and he has cast them out of the family business, Waystar Royco. The Hundred pitch deck presents it as an amalgam of Substack and Masterclass plus the Economist and the New Yorker with the 100 top writers and thinkers as contributors. Hey! Did the writers’ room forget to include Ben Smith and Justin Smith’s much-hyped Semafor in the formula? Next time the Smiths should pay for product placement.

The "Succession" Kids lose interest in The Hundred the second they learn that papa Logan is bidding for Pierce Global Media, a conglomerate he tried and failed to buy in season two. After much swearing and bidding, the Kids outbid Logan for Pierce, paying $10 billion.

Which was a better business move for the Kids, The Hundred or Pierce? Should Logan have gone higher?

If The Hundred were a loaf of bread and not a media start-up, you’d quickly find it going for 75 percent off at a bakery outlet. Listen to The Hundred's worn-out pitch:

“The world’s leading experts provide humanity’s most invaluable knowledge in bespoke, bite-sized parcels, designed to improve the lives of subscribers and the world in general. The antidote to the modern malaise of empty-caloried input-overload.”

"Succession" writers are deliberately sending up the new media genre here, all but asking their viewers, “Can’t you just smell the mold?” The web abounds with bite-sized parcels, news digests, New York Times breaking news alerts on phones, self-help media, TikTok and other mini-diversions. It’s hard to imagine the "Succession" Kids putting their own trust funds into The Hundred, let alone convincing the investors they’ve summoned to pony up for the “disrupter news brand.” There’s no evidence they understand the new media property they’re conjuring into existence. Do they read any of the publications their pitch name-checks? Do they read anything? Can they read? They talk about finding subscribers, which appears to be essential for modern media plays, but discuss no reason why anybody would pay for their projection.

The Hundred proposal also echoes the tale of The Daily, a 2011 iPad-centric start-up that Murdoch personally shepherded into existence before it collapsed almost two years later due to lack of reader interest. “New times demand new journalism,” Murdoch said at the launch of his “visionary” property, which he said was for modern news consumers who expect “content tailored to their specific interests to be available anytime, anywhere.” Its initial investment was about $30 million, reported the New York Times, and the weekly cost of production was $500,000.

But what of Pierce Global Media? A couple of seasons ago, Logan who has a decade-long lust to buy Pierce, was willing to part with $25 billion for it. (Pierce is owned by a family that resembles the Bancrofts, who sold Dow Jones of the Wall Street Journal fame to Murdoch for $5.7 billion.) After Logan offers $6 billion for Pierce he gets topped by the Kids who have flown to matriarch Nan Pierce’s vineland home to “check out” a deal with her and end up chasing their own tails to a $10 billion offer.

The offer makes no business sense. If Pierce has lost this much hypothetical value in just a couple of seasons, it’s on a downward trajectory. Why get trapped in a bidding war? In earlier cross-talk, Roman tells Shiv she wants to buy Pierce to retaliate against her husband Tom, who double-crossed her in the season three finale, and tells Kendall he wants to retaliate against Logan who has ground him down for his entire life. They deny it, but it’s true. Roman, who should know better, goes along with them anyway, and the bid mushrooms to $10 billion to seal the deal. The Kids are as stupid as Logan makes them out to be. Buying Pierce, even at an inflated price, makes sense for Logan because it would leave him in control of a conservative cable channel, ATN, and the lefty Pierce broadcast properties. He would also accrue more political influence. The Kids, on the other hand, don’t seem to know much about running media properties, and owning one will only put them in competition with the old man, who does.

The episode leaves it unsaid, but perhaps allowing his offspring to win the bidding war at a ridiculous price might be the most injurious thing Logan has ever done to them. In real life, Murdoch grossly overpaid for Wall Street Journal","link":{"target":"NEW","attributes":[],"url":"https://archive.nytimes.com/dealbook.nytimes.com/2009/02/06/is-dow-deal-coming-back-to-haunt-news-corps-bottom-line/","_id":"00000187-29d7-d451-abff-e9d77d3d000c","_type":"33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df"},"_id":"00000187-29d7-d451-abff-e9d77d3d000d","_type":"02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266"}">Dow Jones and the Wall Street Journal when he threw down $5 billion for it. A little over a year later, his company took a large write-down, $3 billion of which reflected the declining value of his newspaper operation, which included Dow Jones and the Wall Street Journal. Murdoch, like Logan Roy, controls such an immense operation he can afford such a localized financial calamity. But can the Kids?

We can surmise where all this is going. First, the Kids did the right thing for the wrong reason by abandoning The Hundred for a run on Pierce. Then they did the wrong thing for the wrong reason by overbidding for a big company. Surely, they will discover that they overpaid and try to extricate themselves from the deal. The Pierces will demand — and receive — an enormous fee from the Kids for breaking the deal, and the Kids will pay through the snout. Then Logan will pounce at a more reasonable price, and taking possession of Pierce Global Media will allow him to expand his empire, out-duel the Pierce family at last, and punish his treacherous Kids.

"Succession" is no more a documentary about the Murdoch family, new media and the television business than Shakespeare’s plays are faithful histories of London, Venice, Rome and Verona. "Succession’s" writers rightly mock the likely success of new media startups in the episode, mockery that was rewarded this week as Grid, a worthy startup from early 2022 with a $10 million bankroll, shut down Monday after being acquired by the Messenger, yet another soon-to-launch site.

The media game has always been a gamble for its best players, like Rupert Murdoch and Logan Roy, as well as its suckers, like the Kids, who can’t even figure out what game they want to play. Legacy media might not be the blue chip that "Succession" seems to imply it is — the sector lost $500 billion in market cap last year. But if the episode convinced just one investor not to start a Substack meets Masterclass meets the Economist meets the New Yorker this year, it will have done its job.


Sarah Ellison wrote a good book about the Murdoch purchase of the Wall Street Journal: War at the Wall Street Journal: Inside the Struggle to Control an American Business Empire","link":{"target":"NEW","attributes":[],"url":"https://www.amazon.com/War-Wall-Street-Journal-Struggle/dp/0547152434","_id":"00000187-29d7-d451-abff-e9d77d3e0000","_type":"33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df"},"_id":"00000187-29d7-d451-abff-e9d77d3e0001","_type":"02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266"}">War at the Wall Street Journal: Inside the Struggle to Control an American Business Empire. Send Logan Roy insights to Shafer.Politico@gmail.com","link":{"target":"NEW","attributes":[],"url":"mailto:shafer.politico@gmail.com","_id":"00000187-29d7-d451-abff-e9d77d3e0002","_type":"33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df"},"_id":"00000187-29d7-d451-abff-e9d77d3e0003","_type":"02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266"}">Shafer.Politico@gmail.com. No new email alert subscriptions are being honored at this time. My Twitter","link":{"target":"NEW","attributes":[],"url":"https://twitter.com/jackshafer","_id":"00000187-29d7-d451-abff-e9d77d3e0004","_type":"33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df"},"_id":"00000187-29d7-d451-abff-e9d77d3e0005","_type":"02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266"}">Twitter feed reads the Wall Street Journal. My Mastodon","link":{"target":"NEW","attributes":[],"url":"http://journa.host/@jackshafer","_id":"00000187-29d7-d451-abff-e9d77d3e0006","_type":"33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df"},"_id":"00000187-29d7-d451-abff-e9d77d3e0007","_type":"02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266"}">Mastodon and Post","link":{"target":"NEW","attributes":[],"url":"https://post.news/jackshafer","_id":"00000187-29d7-d451-abff-e9d77d3e0008","_type":"33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df"},"_id":"00000187-29d7-d451-abff-e9d77d3e0009","_type":"02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266"}">Post accounts can’t decide whether Elon Musk is destroying Twitter or saving it. My RSS","link":{"target":"NEW","attributes":[],"url":"https://t.co/tfg9KzdCxq","_id":"00000187-29d7-d451-abff-e9d77d3e000a","_type":"33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df"},"_id":"00000187-29d7-d451-abff-e9d77d3e000b","_type":"02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266"}">RSS feed had a nightmare the other night that it was a Semaform","link":{"target":"NEW","attributes":[],"url":"https://www.semafor.com/article/10/18/2022/what-is-a-semaform-anyway-and-why-should-you-care","_id":"00000187-29d7-d451-abff-e9d77d3e000c","_type":"33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df"},"_id":"00000187-29d7-d451-abff-e9d77d3e000d","_type":"02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266"}">Semaform.

TikTok is a necessary evil for Democratic campaigns

Politico -

To Congress, TikTok is a bogeyman. To campaign strategists, it’s absolutely necessary.

The app, which says it has 150 million active users in the country, is one of the most popular social media apps for young people. Those voters, generally under 30, are sometimes credited with turning out in large numbers to bolster Democrats in last year’s midterm elections. And for some Democratic strategists, that’s exactly why campaigns should be on it.

“It would be a malpractice not to be on the platform,” said Paul Bell, senior vice president of digital at Precision Strategies.

Last week, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testified before Congress for the first time, where he faced a barrage of criticism from lawmakers. Both Republicans and Democrats raised security concerns about the Chinese-owned tech platform, which collects data from users. Officials are pushing ByteDance, the company that owns the app, to sell the app or risk an outright ban.

It’s unclear if a nationwide ban could be enacted. But as long as TikTok exists, strategists say it’s necessary for campaigns and candidates on the app.

They acknowledge that a presence on TikTok comes with some risks, but as long as campaigns are implementing safeguards — like using a separate phone for the app and not linking it to official campaign emails — it’s one of the best ways of reaching a core demographic. TikTok is not the only security concern a campaign may face, but is one that’s increasingly in the public eye.

Even if a campaign is wary of having an account on the app, there are still other ways to engage. Kasey O’Brien, director of social and texting at Democratic firm Middle Seat, said that tapping influencers to share the campaign’s message could be effective. That’s a strategy that addresses some security concerns, but also practical ones, especially if campaigns lack the resources or knowhow to produce content for the app.

“It's not so much that you the candidate needs to be on TikTok, but you need to have people who are speaking about you on TikTok and sort of spreading your message,” she said. “If you want your message to get across and to become part of popular discourse, it needs to be where the popular discourse is being created.”

The prospect of a ban is one that has the potential to impact Democratic candidates and campaigns in a substantial way, as Republicans have been less inclined to engage with TikTok.

In last year’s midterm elections, there were more than twice as many Democratic candidate accounts on TikTok compared to Republicans in Senate, House, governor and secretary of state races, according to a study from the Alliance for Securing Democracy.

Much of that has to do with Republicans being more vocal about China’s ownership of the app, said Lindsay Gorman, senior fellow for emerging technologies at the group and co-author of the study. But after last week’s hearing showing bipartisan concerns, Democrats could find themselves “in a tough spot.”

“The longer this uncertainty drags out, especially as it potentially bleeds into the 2024 election season, that's when we'll see hard choices among politicians that they're going to have to make, of if there are voters still on this platform — but we still haven't resolved the national security concerns, they’ll probably still continue to use it in some fashion,” she said.

The app is critical to a broader strategy, strategists argue, to reach voters who don't normally consume political content. A recent poll conducted by SocialSphere found that just one-third of Gen Z and millennial users of the app regularly view content about current events or politics. A majority are instead there for entertainment.

“The fundamental goal of all of our digital strategies across these platforms is to get in touch with voters, entice them to think about your campaign and your candidacy, the platforms, the issues that you care about, and then engage them offline,” Bell said. “Voting doesn't happen on TikTok.”

Eric Wilson, a GOP digital strategist, said Republicans who choose to not engage with TikTok out of principle are missing out on a core demographic.

A post-election survey conducted by the Center for Campaign Innovation, which Wilson is director of, found that 18 percent of Republicans between the ages of 18 and 49 use TikTok daily. That’s compared to 12 percent in that group who use any conservative social media, including Truth Social, Rumble, Parler, Gettr or Gab. Wilson said that the gap of not being on TikTok can be filled by relying on content creators who are. He pointed to influential media personalities like Joe Rogan and Ben Shapiro, whose clips from their podcasts are circulated on TikTok.

“If Republicans don't engage there at all, we run the risk of missing out on shaping narratives and reaching younger voters and I think that will be a mistake,” Wilson said. “You need to have a presence there. Now, whether it's the core of your strategy, it shouldn't be. But at least having positive information flow is a minimum.”

The SocialSphere poll also found that more than half of respondents are concerned about the app’s Chinese ownership, but there’s less of a consensus when it comes to supporting a ban unless the company sells its shares to U.S. operators. Sixty-six percent of Gen Z-ers have a favorable view of the app, as do 46 percent of millennials.

Still, strategists say they’re doubtful the increased governmental scrutiny on the app will change TikTok’s dominance among young people — and thus campaign strategies likely won’t change. What they do hope will change, however, is how digital communications are regulated.

“This also just really points to the need for a much broader set of regulations around data governance and privacy of America where we're having these conversations about one off apps like Tiktok, because we don’t have an overarching platform as a country, and that's something that our lawmakers really need to focus on,” said Mark Jablonowski, president of DSPolitical, a digital advertising firm that works with Democratic candidates and causes.

And some lawmakers agree. At last week’s hearing, House Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) called for Congress to pass privacy legislation that establishes baseline data minimization requirements and provides privacy protections for young people. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-N.Y.), who recently created her own TikTok account, said that banning the app is “putting the cart before the horse because our first priority should be” passing such legislation. Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), who’s been outspoken about not banning the app, also discussed legislation to deal with social media comprehensively.

Campaigns are reevaluating their balance of spending on platforms as they enter the 2024 cycle, but so far there's not a massive move away from TikTok — yet.

“That’s the challenge: Youth are still out there using it,” Bell said. “We need to continue to find avenues to engage people who are not engaged in the political process, traditionally, and bring them on to the campaign.”

Bruising budget battle in New York deepens Democratic divide

Politico -

ALBANY, N.Y. — Each day in recent weeks, the sounds of rallies and protests by activists and Democratic lawmakers have filled the cavernous granite and concrete halls of the New York State Capitol — most of the noise aimed at halting Gov. Kathy Hochul's agenda.

Progressives are demanding the first-term governor expand immigration rights, increase the minimum wage, tax the rich and drop a proposal to toughen controversial bail laws. Suburban, moderate lawmakers want her to revamp a sweeping, first-in-the-nation plan that would require municipalities to build more housing.

Budget season in Albany always leads to warring factions, but this year’s battle is particularly perilous after Hochul narrowly won a full term as the state's first woman governor and after Democrats became the target of national party scorn when Republicans flipped three House seats","link":{"target":"NEW","attributes":[],"url":"https://www.politico.com/news/2022/11/09/2022-midterm-new-york-house-elections-republican-00065919","_id":"00000187-2911-dffe-a5cf-b9f97f450004","_type":"33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df"},"_id":"00000187-2911-dffe-a5cf-b9f97f450005","_type":"02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266"}">flipped three House seats, helping the GOP claim the majority.

At a moment when many are looking to Hochul to unite Democrats in New York, fearing disaster in 2024, the governor is having the opposite effect. Progressives from New York City, who largely control the state Legislature, feel emboldened to push a left-leaning agenda after a decade of strong-arm tactics from ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo. And Hochul, long a moderate, is struggling to advance priorities that include tough-on-crime policies and making the state more affordable.

It's a volatile mix that’s left the governor with limited political capital and her party as splintered as it has been in years.

“I wish she would listen to the voters and not the high rollers,” state Sen. Jessica Ramos (D-Queens), a leading progressive and chair of the Senate Labor Committee, said in an interview, adding that Hochul is being influenced by corporate interests","link":{"target":"NEW","attributes":[],"url":"https://www.politico.com/story/2022/01/19/hochul-donors-new-york-governor-1406084","_id":"00000187-2911-dffe-a5cf-b9f97f450006","_type":"33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df"},"_id":"00000187-2911-dffe-a5cf-b9f97f450007","_type":"02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266"}">corporate interests who helped her raise a state record $50 million for her election.

Hochul still has the power to shape budget negotiations in coming days and weeks since she holds the purse strings ahead of the April 1 start of the fiscal year. New York lawmakers typically wrap most major legislative proposals into the state budget each year, so winning support for her agenda will be her highest priority as discussions wrap, likely in April if a deal isn’t reached in the next few days.

Hochul has struggled all year to get traction in the Legislature. She got rolled by Democrats","link":{"target":"NEW","attributes":[],"url":"https://www.politico.com/news/2023/02/15/senate-hochul-lasalle-chief-judge-00083000#:~:text=The%20state%20Senate%20voted%2039,unsurprisingly%2C%20it%20did%20not%20prevail.","_id":"00000187-2911-dffe-a5cf-b9f97f460000","_type":"33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df"},"_id":"00000187-2911-dffe-a5cf-b9f97f460001","_type":"02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266"}">got rolled by Democrats in the state Senate last month when they resoundingly rejected her pick, Hector LaSalle, to be the state's top judge — a first-of-its-kind rebuke by lawmakers who deemed him too moderate for their taste.

Hochul’s trying a new tactic this month by aligning herself","link":{"target":"NEW","attributes":[],"url":"https://www.politico.com/newsletters/new-york-playbook/2023/03/22/big-bucks-from-bloomberg-roil-budget-battle-00088247","_id":"00000187-2911-dffe-a5cf-b9f97f460002","_type":"33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df"},"_id":"00000187-2911-dffe-a5cf-b9f97f460003","_type":"02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266"}">aligning herself with former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who is pumping $5 million into ads and mailers in lawmakers' districts to boosther priorities. While the move will certainly put pressure on lawmakers worried about how their constituents will view the messages, it’s also serving to anger fellow Democrats who think the mailers cross a line.

“What's she's doing is weaponizing her identity and allowing billionaires to use her to continue the same old Albany politics,” Assemblymember Ron Kim (D-Queens) said at a news conference last week referencing Hochul’s status as the first woman governor.

Hochul appears ready to dig in","link":{"target":"NEW","attributes":[],"url":"https://www.politico.com/newsletters/new-york-playbook-pm/2023/03/27/a-budget-deadline-looms-but-maybe-not-a-deal-00089071","_id":"00000187-2911-dffe-a5cf-b9f97f460004","_type":"33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df"},"_id":"00000187-2911-dffe-a5cf-b9f97f460005","_type":"02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266"}">ready to dig in on her priorities, looking to beat back opposition to toughening bail laws on violent suspects and making the high-cost state more affordable by forcing new housing in the suburbs.

She also wants to show that she’s got a firm grip on her office as she looks to set the tone at the Capitol for her four-year term and takes the reins of a divided state Democratic Party after succeeding Cuomo, who resigned in 2021.

Democratic values get “clouded” when “people from the socialist side” say they represent what the party stands for, Hochul said.

"My job is to bring it together, instill confidence in voters in the Democratic Party and go forth into a whole new era," the governor said earlier this month, when asked by POLITICO about the party's future.

Some New York City Democrats are still calling for the resignation of state party chairman Jay Jacobs, who lost all four House seats in his Long Island backyard and is fighting with liberals by blasting them as too far left for the state as a whole.

"There is a concerted, clear and definite unrelenting effort by folks from the far left to unseat moderate, progressive incumbents," Jacobs said in a recent interview. "And it's all about power."

Jacobs said that, if the Legislature keeps pushing the party further left, it will alienate moderate voters in the suburbs and upstate — which, he said, was the reason Republicans flipped four House seats on Long Island, in the Hudson Valley and upstate.

"The people who abandoned the Democratic Party, for the most part, abandoned the Democratic Party because they felt that our party has moved too far to the left," he continued. "The more we continue to do that, the more voters in these areas we will lose."

So far, Hochul has stood by Jacobs, but his presence continues to irk liberals. Some groups said Hochul needs to make New York a progressive capital in the nation to counter Republicans in Washington and in red states.

"The governor in the last election struggled to communicate most directly with voters, and now this is a movement in the budget to say: message received," said Sochie Nnaemeka, the director of the labor-backed Working Families Party.

Some Democrats said it's important that the party find common ground heading into 2024, when all 26 House seats and 213 state legislative seats will be on the ballot again.

"We have to take back the House in 2024. We need to make Leader [Hakeem] Jeffries … Speaker Jeffries, and in order to do that, we have to figure out what didn't go so great and what did well and how we do more of that," Sen. Jamaal Bailey, the Bronx Democratic Party chairperson, said.

The tension at the Capitol is almost palpable. And it was apparent as soon as the six-month legislative session started","link":{"target":"NEW","attributes":[],"url":"https://www.politico.com/news/2023/02/01/new-york-rocky-rollout-kathy-hochul-00080540","_id":"00000187-2911-dffe-a5cf-b9f97f460006","_type":"33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df"},"_id":"00000187-2911-dffe-a5cf-b9f97f460007","_type":"02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266"}">as soon as the six-month legislative session started in January.

"In a lot of areas, the governor was a drag on the ticket","link":{"target":"NEW","attributes":[],"url":"https://www.politico.com/news/2022/11/08/kathy-hochul-lee-zeldin-new-york-governor-race-results-2022-00065468","_id":"00000187-2911-dffe-a5cf-b9f97f460008","_type":"33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df"},"_id":"00000187-2911-dffe-a5cf-b9f97f460009","_type":"02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266"}">drag on the ticket. That's just a fact. So how much does that contribute to what we're seeing now? I don't know. I think the people who are most aggrieved aren't here anymore. They lost," said Sen. James Skoufis, a Hudson Valley Democrat and part of the conference's more moderate faction.

"But it's clear, regardless where it comes from, there is tension between a lot of the Legislature and the governor."

How does it end up?

"There are two paths forward," Skoufis surmised in the wake of the LaSalle rejection. "The place proverbially blows up for session, and the other is we hit a reset button. Obviously, I hope it's the second."

U.S. suspends sharing nuke information with Russia

Politico -

The U.S. has stopped sharing information about its strategic nuclear stockpile with Russia in response to Moscow’s decision last month to suspend its participation in a treaty that limits the deployment of atomic warheads.

The decision was conveyed to Russia on Monday, the Pentagon’s Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy John Plumb told the House Armed Services’ Strategic Forces subcommittee on Tuesday.

The move comes after Russia said it was suspending participation in the post-Cold War nuclear agreement, and throws the future of the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty into question at a time of heightened tensions with Moscow. Last weekend, Vladimir Putin said he plans to stage tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus as his troops suffer staggering losses in his 13-month old war in Ukraine.

New START, which was reupped at the beginning of the Biden administration, caps the number of deployed nuclear warheads at 1,550 and places other limits on the number of nuclear-capable bombers and launchers.

But after Russia recently declared it would no longer abide by the treaty, and stopped sharing information with the U.S. on its stockpiles, the Biden administration had continued following the pact, until now.

“We have not received any daily notifications from them since that time,” Plumb said.

In Monday’s meeting between diplomats from both countries, “Russia responded that they will not be providing that information,” he continued. “And so as a diplomatic countermeasure, the United States will not be providing that information back.

“We are going to continue to examine what other diplomatic countermeasures are appropriate,” he added, “and what we're trying to do is balance both responding to Russia's irresponsible behavior but continuing to demonstrate what we believe [what] a responsible nuclear power's action should be.”

‘It's a powerful effect’: Austin fires back at GOP senator's blockade of military promotions

Politico -

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin went on offense Tuesday against one Republican senator's blockade of 160 senior military promotions, cautioning that delaying the moves will harm national security.

Austin delivered the warning at a Senate Armed Services hearing Tuesday, where he made the case for the Pentagon's annual defense budget. The defense chief was asked about Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s hold, which is based on new policies aimed at shoring up troops' access to abortions.

Without naming the Alabama senator or citing the abortion policy, Austin called the impact of delaying routine military promotions "absolutely critical" as dozens, potentially hundreds, of general and flag officer picks pile up. He cited a number of tense global situations, including Russia's invasion of Ukraine, China and Iran.

"There are a number of things happening globally that indicate that we could be in a contest on any one given day," Austin said. "Not approving the recommendations for promotions actually creates a ripple effect through the force that makes us far less ready than we need to be."

"The effects are cumulative and it will affect families. It will affect kids going to schools because they won't be able to change their duty station," he added. "It's a powerful effect and will impact on our readiness."

On the other side is Tuberville, a member of the Armed Services Committee, who is following through on a threat to object to quick confirmations of Pentagon civilian nominees and senior military officer promotions after Austin rolled out policies that cover expenses and permit leave for troops who have to travel to obtain abortions.

President Joe Biden's civilian nominees have been mired in Senate gridlock for much of his term. But senior military promotions typically cruise to Senate approval with little opposition, with the chamber sometimes approving hundreds of moves at once.

The volume of senior military promotions makes it harder for Senate Democrats to get around Tuberville's objections than it is for civilian nominees. And Tuberville has indicated he won’t stop his obstruction of nominees unless the abortion policy is reversed or suspended.

Tuberville and Austin spoke last week, but the Alabama Republican hasn't budged. Tuberville’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Senate Armed Services Chair Jack Reed (D-R.I.), who teed up the question at Tuesday's hearing, agreed with Austin. He warned of senior military positions that would come open in the coming months, including the next Joint Chiefs chair.

"As I look forward, I have never in my almost three decades here seen so many key military positions coming up for replacement," Reed said.

"If we cannot resolve the situation, we will be, in many respects, leaderless at a time of great conflict," the chair warned. "So, I would hope we would expedite and move quickly on this front."

A Defense Department official said the Pentagon projects that, between now and the end of the year, 650 general and flag officers will require Senate confirmation. Eighty of those are three and four-star generals or admirals, the official noted.

A plethora of senior military leaders are set to retire in the coming months, including top officers in the Marine Corps, Navy and Army. Multiple combatant commanders, including the heads of U.S. Northern Command, Space Command and Cyber Command, are also set to rotate out of their posts.

Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. Mark Milley, who testified alongside Austin, is also set to retire in the fall when his four-year term as the military's top officer expires.

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has noted that the list includes officers tapped to command naval forces in the Pacific and Middle East, as well as a military representative to the NATO Military Committee.

In a speech Monday criticizing Tuberville, Schumer said the impasse risks "permanently politicizing the confirmation of military personnel."

“If every single one of us objected to the promotion of military personnel whenever we feel passionately or strongly about an issue, our military would simply grind to a halt,” Schumer said on the Senate floor.

Paul McLeary and Lara Seligman contributed to this report.

Prosecutors: Bankman-Fried bribed Chinese officials in 2021

Politico -

U.S. prosecutors slapped FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried with a new criminal charge alleging he bribed Chinese authorities with tens of millions of dollars in cryptocurrency after they froze accounts controlled by his personal hedge fund.

The superseding indictment filed Tuesday morning in New York alleges that Bankman-Fried, a one-time political megadonor who’d been a key player in Washington policy circles, ordered employees at his trading firm Alameda Research to pay $40 million to a digital wallet controlled by Chinese authorities in 2021.

The former billionaire orchestrated the alleged bribe after Alameda was locked out of its trading accounts on two of China's crypto exchanges in connection with an ongoing investigation. After the funds were unlocked following the $40 million payment, federal prosecutors allege Bankman-Fried authorized the transfer of additional “tens of millions of dollars in cryptocurrency to complete the bribe.”

With the new charge alleging conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, Bankman-Fried now faces 13 criminal counts that include securities fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud and conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmitter. His criminal trial is scheduled to begin in October.

Bankman-Fried’s spokesperson declined comment. His legal team did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Prior to FTX’s bankruptcy in November and his eventual arrest in the Bahamas, Bankman-Fried controlled one of the most powerful networks of crypto exchanges and trading firms in the world. He’d also cultivated an image as an honest broker among Washington policymakers and media members, dispensing hundreds of millions of dollars in political contributions, philanthropic donations and grants.

FTX’s bankruptcy and Bankman-Fried’s criminal trial derailed ongoing efforts in Congress and within federal agencies to develop a rulebook for the nascent cryptoasset industry, which has since faced a broad crackdown on practices that industry skeptics say have harmed consumers and investors.

Newsom slams Blackburn for voting against gun control bill in wake of Nashville shooting

Politico -

California Gov. Gavin Newsom slammed Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn on Twitter Monday night for voting against gun safety laws and accepting over $1 million in donations from the NRA over her career after the senator tweeted she was “ready to assist” in the wake of the deadly elementary school shooting in Nashville.

Blackburn, a Republican, tweeted on Monday, “Chuck & I are heartbroken to hear about the shooting at Covenant School in Nashville. My office is in contact with federal, state, & local officials, & we stand ready to assist. Thank you to the first responders working on site. Please join us in prayer for those affected.”

Later that night, Newsom responded with, “You received $1,306,130 in donations from the NRA. You voted against the most recent bipartisan gun package in June. If you’re so ‘ready to assist’ -- start by doing your job and passing commonsense gun laws that will help prevent tragedies like the one today.”

Newsom’s tweet is part of a broader push by Democrats nationwide to pass gun safety legislation. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) called for legislative action on the Senate floor in response to the Nashville shooting Monday, and President Joe Biden revived his push for a ban on federal assault weapons.

Blackburn voted against the passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act in June, stating that the gun control bill “would erode Americans’ constitutional right to bear arms.” The measure provides grants for states to implement so-called red flag laws, which allow for the temporary confiscation of firearms from individuals who are deemed threats to themselves or others, as well as other crisis intervention programs.

In January, Newsom denounced Republicans' inaction on gun control and called for federal action after two mass shootings in California left 19 people dead within days. Last month, Newsom announced new gun safety legislation that would strengthen the state's restrictions on who can carry a firearm in public.

Three adults and three children were confirmed dead following a mass shooting Monday morning at The Covenant School, a private Christian school in Nashville.

The 28-year-old suspect, Audrey Hale, was killed in an altercation with police. The woman had two “assault-style” weapons and a handgun, police said.

'Justified anger': Senators target executives, regulators in SVB collapse

Politico -

Senate Banking Chair Sherrod Brown said Tuesday he's planning legislation that would ratchet up penalties for executives at failed banks and ban them from the industry.

The Ohio Democrat announced the plan at Congress's first hearing on the failure of Silicon Valley Bank. Brown unleashed fierce criticism of the bank's executives but also slammed venture capitalists — its key clientele — for driving the run that took down the lender when they encouraged companies to pull out their money. Some of those investors later demanded that the government rescue SVB.

"Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, it appears that when there is a bank crash, there are no libertarians in Silicon Valley," Brown said.

Brown said the failure of SVB and Signature Bank earlier this month came down to "hubris, entitlement, greed."

"Once again, small businesses and workers feared they would pay the price for other people’s bad decisions," Brown said. "And we’re left with many questions—and justified anger—toward bank executives and boards, toward venture capitalists, toward federal and state bank regulators, and toward policymakers."

Austin admits admin should’ve notified Congress ‘earlier’ about Syria strike

Politico -

The Biden administration should have notified Congress about a deadly attack on an American contractor in Syria “earlier” than it did, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told lawmakers Tuesday.

During a Senate Armed Services hearing, lawmakers pressed Austin on a more than 13-hour lag between a drone attack launched by Iranian proxies last Thursday that killed a U.S. contractor and wounded six other Americans. The strike occurred at 6:38 a.m. in Washington, D.C., but the administration didn’t notify lawmakers until around 8 p.m. that same day, in which U.S. officials also let lawmakers know about a retaliatory plan in the works.

During those 13 hours, the head of U.S. Central Command, Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla, testified in front of the House Armed Services Committee, and senators debated amendments to a bill that would repeal two authorizations for the use of military force, some of which were about Iranian aggression on American troops.

The gap prompted Republicans to question if the administration held off on notifying Congress to shield Kurilla from tough questions and to ensure the war-powers measure sailed through the upper chamber.

Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, asked Austin on Tuesday if the Pentagon’s congressional affairs team should’ve notified Congress sooner, especially because of the war powers vote. Austin agreed: “We should’ve notified you earlier.”

The secretary noted that the U.S. suffered an attack and responded in one day, letting Congress know about both events in between. “We take the War Powers Act very seriously,” Austin said, seated alongside Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. Mark Milley.

Later in the hearing, Austin told Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) that there was no connection between the notifications and the war powers vote.

“Secretary Austin, I don’t believe you,” Cotton responded, noting that an amendment by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) “directly touched” on the Syria strike scenario. “That’s my belief, nothing you can say is going to change my belief on that.”

“I just want to say, senator, that is absolutely not true,” Austin said.

“Maybe you didn’t personally do it, but I believe entirely that people in your office did that," Cotton replied.

Tess Bridgeman, the co-editor in chief of Just Security, told POLITICO on Monday that the executive branch isn’t required to include casualty information in reports to Congress.

“That said, the Biden administration did include casualty information in its notification to Congress, even though it was not required to do so,” she added.

DeSantis heading to Israel ahead of likely 2024 bid

Politico -

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who once vowed to be the most “pro-Israel governor in America,” will make his second visit to the nation right before he’s expected to jump into the 2024 presidential race.

The Jerusalem Post and Museum of Tolerance Jerusalem announced Tuesday that DeSantis will head to Israel, where he is expected to deliver the keynote address on April 27 for an event titled “Celebrate the Faces of Israel.” His trip abroad will come after swings through several states next month, including Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Utah.

DeSantis has been a vocal defender of Israel during his time in office and supported the decision by the Trump administration to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. He led a trade delegation to Israel in 2019, where he also held a ceremonial Florida Cabinet meeting with other statewide elected officials. While governor, he has also pushed to go after corporations that boycotted or limited their activities in Israel and supported state funding to make security improvement to Jewish schools.

His trip, however, comes in the wake of ongoing turmoil in Israel over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's plans for a judicial overhaul. Netanyahu announced a delay in those plans on Monday following a wave of protests and worker strikes. The unrest caused airlines to ground flights and businesses closed their doors.

The visit to Israel will come a few months after he met face-to-face in Tallahassee with Michael Herzog, the Israeli ambassador to the U.S., along with Yousef Al Otaiba, the ambassador from the United Arab Emirates and Maor Elbaz-Starinsky, the consul general of Israel in Miami.

The release about DeSantis’ visit said he will speak about the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship before a group of roughly 400 participants, including 120 U.S. Jewish philanthropists.

“At a time of unnecessarily strained relations between Jerusalem and Washington, Florida serves as a bridge between the American and Israeli people,” DeSantis said in a statement.

The governor’s decision to make a speech in Israel is sure to garner outsized attention given his rising prominence among Republicans and conservatives.

DeSantis’ positions on foreign policy have begun to draw more attention as his likely campaign for president become more likely. His statement that the Russian invasion of Ukraine was a “territorial dispute” drew scorn from other Republicans, including Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio.

After those remarks were distributed on Fox News, DeSantis called Russian President Vladimir Putin a “war criminal” in a subsequent interview.


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