NEW … ONE WAY FOR NANCY PELOSI TO WIN… There are 48 DAYS until Nancy Pelosi is scheduled to face a floor vote for the speakership, and she is facing resistance like never before. If you talk to Pelosi and her staff, she’ll be the speaker. If you talk to the rebels — the 20 or so Democrats who want her out — they say they will take their opposition to the floor and block her from returning to the speakership.
— BUT HERE IS HOW PELOSI COULD HANG ON: Most everyone says she would win handily if she just simply says when she’d leave. Pelosi has said she wants a “transitional” speakership, but if she gave a date certain — “I intend to serve until ____” — she’d win without much hassle, according to supporters and opponents. Of course, that would be close to a last resort. And there certainly are other ways she could win. But several “NeverPelosi’ers” say it would be hard to oppose her if she says she’d leave at a date certain in the next two years.
MEANWHILE … PELOSI ALLIES say she has always seen her leadership role as one term at a time. Further, they say what’s most important is the California Democrat has publicly made clear she’s preparing for generational change and is making explicit commitments to lawmakers about that.
BY THE WAY … When do we think BARACK OBAMA will start calling Democrats asking them to support Pelosi?
— MOVEON.ORG tweeted its support of Pelosi at 5:21 p.m.: “We strongly support and call on all members of the Democratic caucus to support @NancyPelosi for Speaker. Were it not for her skilled and effective leadership, the ACA would not be law today. Dems must reject attempts to defeat her and move caucus to the right.”
“COMPETENT FEMALES” … DREW HAMMILL, Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff (@Drew_Hammill): “.@RepTimRyan on Nancy Pelosi: ‘There’s plenty of really competent females that we can replace her with.’ #CompetentFemales” Linking to this NYT story
FUDGE STRUGGLES TO FIND A CONSTITUENCY … “Black caucus members back Pelosi for speaker over their former chair,” by Rachael Bade, John Bresnahan and Nolan McCaskill: “‘She knows that, she knows that, she knows I’m for Pelosi,’ Clyburn said of Fudge in a brief interview in the Capitol. ‘She’s a great leader, and I support her more than 100 percent,’ said Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a civil rights icon, of Pelosi.” POLITICO
Good Friday morning. SPOTTED AT BLT PRIME at the Trump Hotel: Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) and at a separate table Freedom Caucus members Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and Raul Labrador (R-Idaho). In the lobby: Trump 2016 campaign team Rick Dearborn, Scott Mason and Rob Wasinger.
21 DAYS UNTIL A SHUTDOWN … WAPO’S ERICA WERNER and DAMIAN PALETTA: “GOP leaders aim to avert shutdown over wall funding, but Trump makes no promises”: “President Trump did not commit Thursday to avoiding a partial government shutdown next month if lawmakers don’t give him money to build a border wall, a top Republican senator said, raising the potential for a high-stakes budget battle as the GOP prepares to lose its grip on Congress.
“Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby (Ala.) and other GOP leaders met with Trump on Thursday about ways to fund the government. Shelby said Trump did not commit to signing a bill that does not give him all the money he wants to fund construction of a wall along the Mexico border.
“Shelby said Trump was noncommittal about how he planned to proceed. ‘He didn’t say, ‘I’m going to keep the government open.’ We didn’t ask him that question,’ Shelby told reporters after returning from the White House. ‘We talked about avoiding a shutdown. … He seemed to agree with that.’” WaPo
BURGESS EVERETT and ELIANA JOHNSON: “GOP pushes Trump for new attorney general amid Mueller uproar”: “Senate Republicans are urging President Donald Trump to quickly nominate a permanent attorney general, hoping a new top law enforcement officer will blunt bipartisan concern over the future of special counsel Robert Mueller and boost the GOP ahead of tough government funding talks.
“Even after Trump’s latest attack on Mueller in a flurry of tweets Thursday, most Republicans argue the president will not fire Mueller or derail his investigation because the political consequences would be too great.
“But they said that naming an attorney general nominee as soon as possible — specifically one who would vow to preserve the Russia probe — would go a long way in halting legislative momentum to protect Mueller and Democratic messaging that acting attorney general Matt Whitaker will undermine the investigation.” POLITICO
THE THING THAT SEEMS UNLIKELY TO HAPPEN: CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM … EX: 1 … ELANA SCHOR, BURGESS EVERETT and ELIANA JOHNSON: “Cotton, Trump at odds on criminal justice overhaul”: “A bipartisan criminal justice overhaul backed by President Donald Trump ran into a formidable political obstacle in the Senate on Thursday: Tom Cotton, normally one of the president’s closest allies.
“The Arkansas Republican is a longtime critic of the sentencing reform provisions that negotiators added to a less divisive prisons bill, forming the compromise that Trump endorsed this week. But Cotton on Thursday stepped up his public potshots at what he’s called a ‘jailbreak’ proposal — a counter-campaign that one fellow senator believes came at the request of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. ‘We’ve had productive conversations all year long. If in the end we have a principled disagreement on it, then that’s where we’ll end up,’ Cotton said of his talks with the president and his allies.” POLITICO
THE INVESTIGATIONS …
— “AP source: Whitaker told Graham that Mueller probe to go on,” by AP’s Mary Clare Jalonick and Mike Balsamo: “Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker told Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham in a meeting on Thursday that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation will proceed, according to a person familiar with the meeting.
“The meeting with Graham and Whitaker comes as a bipartisan group of senators is pushing legislation to protect Mueller’s job. The senators are concerned about Whitaker’s past criticism of the Mueller probe, which is looking at Russian interference in the 2016 election and ties to President Donald Trump’s campaign.” AP
— DARREN SAMUELSOHN: “‘Preparing for the worst’: Mueller anxiety pervades Trump world”: “Lawyers for President Donald Trump and his son Donald Trump Jr. insist they aren’t worried about special counsel Robert Mueller. But half a dozen people in contact with the White House and other Trump officials say a deep anxiety has started to set in that Mueller is about to pounce after his self-imposed quiet period, and that any number of Trump’s allies and family members may soon be staring down the barrel of an indictment. … Adding to the unease is a spate of anonymously sourced media reports suggesting Mueller’s self-imposed quiet period that started about two months before 2018 Election Day is about to transition into a Category 5 hurricane.” POLITICO
ABOUT LAST NIGHT — The Federalist Society hosted its annual dinner gala at Union Station where Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and former White House counsel Don McGahn were honored.
SPOTTED: Justice Brett and Ashley Kavanaugh, Justice Neil Gorsuch, Justice Sam Alito, Justice Clarence Thomas, acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker, Jeff Sessions, Michael Mukasey, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), D.C. Court of Appeals nominee Neomi Rao, Leonard Leo, Ken Cribb, Dean Reuter, Suhail Khan, John Malcolm, David McIntosh, Gene Meyer, Boyden Gray, Steven Calabresi and Bader Lawson.
THE JUICE …
— SENATE LEADERSHIP FUND is spending $1 million on a TV and radio ad ahead of the Mississippi Senate runoff hitting Mike Espy as a “shady Clinton crony” and of being funded by out of state liberals. The group is also spending $130,000 on digital on the effort. The ad
— ANNIE LINSKEY is going to the Washington Post, where she will be a national political reporter as they expand their 2020 election coverage. She most recently has served as deputy bureau chief of the Boston Globe’s Washington bureau.
— FROM GABBY ORR: “Former White House deputy chief of staff Rick Dearborn is joining the Heritage Foundation as a distinguished visiting fellow focused on federalism and the 10th Amendment. He will also advise Heritage on matters related to the Trump administration, serving as a liaison of sorts between the Executive Branch and the conservative think tank. Rick was instrumental in ensuring personnel recommendations were received by the appropriate teams during the presidential transition and filling dozens of vacancies with Heritage employees.”
TRUMP’S FRIDAY — The president is participating in a signing ceremony for the “Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Act” at 11:30 a.m. in the Oval Office. He is presenting the Medal of Freedom at 1 p.m. in the East Room. And, he is meeting with SBA Administrator Linda McMahon at 3:15 p.m.
SUNDAY SO FAR …
“State of the Union”: Rep.-elect Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas), Rep.-elect Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) and Rep.-elect Chrissy Houlahan (D-Pa.). Panel: Amanda Carpenter, Karine Jean Pierre, Michael Caputo and Richard Ojeda.
“Fox News Sunday”: President Donald Trump. Panel: Jason Chaffetz, Donna Edwards, Jerry Seib and Jonathan Swan.
“Face the Nation”: New members-elect panel: Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas), Chrissy Houlahan (D-Pa.), Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) and Joe Neguse (D-Colo.). Political panel: David Nakamura, Seung Min Kim and Paula Reid.
“Meet the Press”: Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) … Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) … Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.). Panel: Yamiche Alcindor, John Harwood, Hallie Jackson and Rich Lowry.
“This Week”: Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.). Panel: Stephanie Cutter, Reihan Salam, Mary Jordan and Chris Christie.
“Inside Politics”: Michael Shear, Julie Davis, Kaitlan Collins and Sahil Kapur.
TEXAS REP. BETO O’ROURKE pens a Medium journal entry on running on the National Mall. The article
TRUMP ADMINISTRATION MUSICAL CHAIRS — “Wilbur Ross leaving? Mulvaney is waiting,” by Nancy Cook and Andrew Restuccia: “To hear Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and his allies tell it, rumors of his demise have been greatly exaggerated.
“Administration officials and close White House advisers say the 80-year-old Ross could be out of a job in a broader Cabinet shakeup as soon as January or as late as mid-2019. Ross, long said to be on thin ice with President Donald Trump, denies either scenario. ‘I’ll serve as long as the president wants and I have no indication to the contrary,’ he told an audience at a Yahoo! Finance event on Nov. 13.
“But in a sign of Ross’s perceived weakness, at least one influential Trump ally has begun speaking openly about his desire for the Commerce job if and when it becomes vacant: Office of Management and Budget chief Mick Mulvaney.
“Over the summer, Trump considered a willing Mulvaney as a potential replacement for his chief of staff, John Kelly. However, in recent days, Mulvaney has abandoned that ambition and told allies and other officials that he is now interested in succeeding Ross, according to several people familiar with the conversations. Trump and Mulvaney have not spoken specifically about the Commerce slot, a Mulvaney ally said.” POLITICO
HMM … NBC NEWS’ HEIDI PRZYBYLA: “Education Secretary Betsy DeVos began receiving around-the-clock security from the U.S. Marshals Service days after being confirmed, an armed detail provided to no other Cabinet member that will cost U.S. taxpayers $19.8 million through September of 2019, according to new figures provided by the Marshals Service to NBC News.” NBC News
2018 WATCH — DEMS GET NO. 5 IN CALIFORNIA — “Porter ousts Walters in southern California as Dems flip another seat,” by Brent D. Griffiths: “Southern California Rep. Mimi Walters was ousted Thursday night, the latest House Republican to lose their seat in the formerly deep-red Orange County.
“The Associated Press called the 45th congressional district race with Democrat Katie Porter leading Walters, a two-term incumbent who previously served in the California senate, by just over 6,000 votes as ballots continue to be counted.” POLITICO
OOPS — “Julian Assange has been charged, prosecutors reveal inadvertently in court filing,” by WaPo’s Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett: “WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been charged under seal, prosecutors inadvertently revealed in a recently unsealed court filing — a development that could significantly advance the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election and have major implications for those who publish government secrets.
“The disclosure came in a filing in a case unrelated to Assange. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kellen S. Dwyer, urging a judge to keep the matter sealed, wrote that ‘due to the sophistication of the defendant and the publicity surrounding the case, no other procedure is likely to keep confidential the fact that Assange has been charged.’
“Later, Dwyer wrote the charges would ‘need to remain sealed until Assange is arrested.’ Dwyer is also assigned to the WikiLeaks case. People familiar with the matter said what Dwyer was disclosing was true, but unintentional. Joshua Stueve, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in the Eastern District of Virginia, said, ‘The court filing was made in error. That was not the intended name for this filing.’” WaPo
OUT AND ABOUT — Friends and colleagues feted outgoing RIAA CEO Cary Sherman at District Winery last night to celebrate his 40-year career. SPOTTED: Mitch Bainwol, Michele Ballantyne, Reps. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), Judy Chu (D-Calif.) and Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Chris Dodd, Cara Duckworth, Jason Everett, Dean Garfield, Mitch Glazier, Todd Flournoy, Shelley Husband, Amy Isbell, David Israelite …
… Joel Johnson, Charlie Rivkin, Ted Kalo, Jonathan Lamy, Lisette Morton, Stan Pierre-Louis, Chris Ortman, Daryl Friedman, Tyler Grimm, Mike Huppe, Michael Petricone, Sam Sokol, Hilary Rosen, Emery Simon and Morna Willens.
SPOTTED at Steve Scalise’s new member party at the Library of Congress last night: Newly elected Republicans Ben Cline (Va.), Lance Gooden (Texas), Anthony Gonzalez (Ohio), Dan Crenshaw (Texas), Carol Miller (W.Va.), William Timmons (S.C.), John Joyce (Pa.), Guy Reschenthaler (Pa.), Greg Pence (Ind.), Jim Hagedorn (Minn.), Denver Riggleman (Va.), John Rose (Tenn.) and Tim Burchett (Tenn.). Elected members of Congress there included: House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy, Reps. Patrick McHenry and Mark Walker of North Carolina, Anne Wagner (R-Mo.), Drew Ferguson (Ga.), Susan Brooks (Ind.) and Jason Smith (Mo.).
ENGAGED … Steven Gilleland, chief of staff for Rep. Mike McCaul (R-Texas), proposed to Kara Hauk, who recently left House Republican Conference Chairman Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ office to be a VP at Qorvis. Pool report: “Steven popped the question on Rehoboth Beach during a weekend away in Delaware that he planned. Steven hired a photographer who Kara thought was simply there to take her own photos of the beautiful sunset. Little did Kara know, the photographer was there to capture the moment she said, ‘Yes!’” Pic … Another pic
BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: journalist Elizabeth Drew. How she got her start in journalism: “I fell into journalism sideways by taking a ‘temporary,’ six-month job at CQ. I stayed five years and started writing for magazines then. Explored newspaper/newsmagazine jobs but was told ‘We don’t hire women.’ Honest.” Playbook Plus Q&A
BIRTHDAYS: Jay Newton-Small, founder of MemoryWell and author of “Broad Influence” (hat tip: Ben Chang) … Hannah Hankins, VP of Civic Advisors … Republican Jewish Coalition executive director Matt Brooks … Meg Campbell … Lisa Camooso Miller, partner at Reset Public Affairs … CNN’s Fredreka Schouten … Jillian Rogers of DOL … Michael Levi … Carly Coakley of Blue Engine Message & Media (h/t Erik Smith) … Jim Boyle, partner at Boyle Public Affairs … Kevin Herzik … Michelle Nunn, CEO of CARE USA (h/ts Jon Haber and Beth Solomon) … Adrienne Schweer … American Express’ Caroline Emch … Timothy Lowery … Samir Paul … Ashley Dejean of Mother Jones … Heritage’s Ken McIntyre … Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) is 38 …
… Melissa Winter, who is celebrating on the road while traveling for Michelle Obama’s book tour (h/t Katie Levyleld) … Michael Smith, executive director at My Brother’s Keeper Alliance … DiAnne Graham … James Joyner … Ron Blackwell … Patrick Ryan … Dale Pfeifer … Griffith Waller … Shanti Shoji … Jennifer Eileen Giglio … Raul Damas, partner at Brunswick Group (h/t George Little) … Christopher Kilian Peace is 42 … Paul Rodriguez … Seth Obed … Mike Reuscher … Rachel Cothran … Melody Johnson … Robbi Dickens … Mike Reynard … Marty Ryan … Paul C. Barton … David Pepper … Zerlina Maxwell … Libby Gerds … Jason Perkey (h/ts Teresa Vilmain)