Megyn Kelly: I think Putin has something on Trump

Megyn Kelly said Saturday that she thinks Russian President Vladimir Putin “has something” on President TrumpDonald John TrumpAccuser says Trump should be afraid of the truth Woman behind pro-Trump Facebook page denies being influenced by Russians Shulkin says he has White House approval to root out ‘subversion’ at VA MORE.

The host of “Megyn Kelly Today” recently sat down for an interview with Putin, and told MSNBC’s Chris Matthew’s that she thinks the Russian president “knows some things” that Trump would not want out in public.

In the interview, she confronted Putin about why Trump speaks so highly of him, and said she does not think the Russian president likes Trump.

“I would not say that Putin likes Trump,” she said. “I did not glean that at all from him. I did glean that perhaps he has something on Donald Trump. “

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“I think there’s a very good chance Putin knows some things about Donald Trump that Mr. Trump does not want repeated publicly,” she added.

Kelly said that she doesn’t think Putin’s information has to do with the infamous dossier linking Trump to Russian nationals.

“My money’s not on the dossier,” she said. “I think it has to do with money and Trump’s early years dealing with the Russians back in the nineties, his facilities here in the United States.”

Special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE has reportedly been questioning witnesses about Trump’s business dealings in Russia as he investigates Russian interference in the 2016 election.

It was reportedly Friday that Mueller is also looking at a letter that Trump wrote to Putin in 2013, personally inviting him to the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow. That letter is the first known occurrence of Trump trying to personally reach out to Putin.

http://thehill.com

Bannon to France’s far right: ‘Let them call you racist … Wear it as a badge of honor’

Marine Le Pen and Steve Bannon are pictured. | AP Photo

National Front party leader Marine Le Pen (right) and former White House strategist Steve Bannon hold a press conference at the party congress in the northern French city of Lille on March 10. | AP Photo

Former White House strategist Steve Bannon re-energized France’s struggling far-right National Front party Saturday by speaking at a party congress and telling Marine Le Pen’s nationalist supporters: “History is on our side.”

Bannon’s appearance in France was part of a European tour as he seeks an international platform for his closed-borders message that helped Donald Trump win the U.S. presidency.

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The former Breitbart News chairman was an early admirer of the National Front, whose long-standing “French First” motto rallied French voters for years before Trump’s “America First” campaign.

“Let them call you racist. Let them call you xenophobes. Let them call you nativists. Wear it as a badge of honor,” he told the crowd at the party congress.

The National Front has never won the French presidency, and the congress in Lille is aimed at remaking its image after Le Pen’s crushing defeat to independent, pro-globalization Emmanuel Macron in last year’s presidential election.

But Bannon might have threatened Le Pen’s makeover with his compliments for an extreme version of the National Front and lavish praise for Le Pen’s more hard-line niece and rival.

“You’re part of a worldwide movement bigger than France, bigger than Italy,” Bannon told National Front supporters, denouncing central banks, central governments and “crony capitalists.”

His European tour centered on last weekend’s Italian election, which Bannon called “an earthquake” after populist and anti-immigration parties outperformed traditional parties. The outcome has boosted far-right movements across Europe and was seen as a victory for the forces that elected Trump and voter approval for Britain to leave the European Union.

“History is on our side,” Bannon said to hearty cheers.

He praised Le Pen’s vision of a political spectrum that no longer spans left-right but puts nationalists versus globalists. Bannon gave his first European speech in Zurich earlier in the week and said Saturday that he was traveling the world to learn.

The European tour comes as Bannon’s role in American politics is uncertain. He was ousted from the White House last year amid tensions and stepped down as chairman of Breitbart News Network in January after a public break with Trump.

http://www.politico.com

Election officials raise concerns over bill that would let Trump send Secret Service to polls

More than a dozen top election officials across the country are raising concerns about a provision in a Homeland Security Department reauthorization bill that would allow President TrumpDonald John TrumpAccuser says Trump should be afraid of the truth Woman behind pro-Trump Facebook page denies being influenced by Russians Shulkin says he has White House approval to root out ‘subversion’ at VA MORE to dispatch Secret Service agents to polling places.

A letter signed by 19 bipartisan secretaries of state to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellLawmakers feel pressure on guns Bipartisan group of House lawmakers urge action on Export-Import Bank nominees Curbelo Dem rival lashes out over immigration failure MORE (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDemocrats now attack internet rules they once embraced Schumer: Trump budget would ‘cripple’ gun background checks Schumer: Senate Republicans’ silence ‘deafening’ on guns, Russia MORE (D-N.Y.) demands the Senate leave out a proposal from final legislation that would allow Secret Service agents to accompany lawmakers to polling places when they vote.

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“This is an alarming proposal which raises the possibility that armed federal agents will be patrolling neighborhood precincts and vote centers,” reads a letter obtained by The Boston Globe.

“There is no discernible need for federal secret service agents to intrude, at the direction of the president, who may also be a candidate in that election, into thousands of citadels where democracy is enshrined,” the letter continues.

One of the letter’s signatories, Democratic Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin called the DHS proposal “worthy of a Third World country.”

“This is worthy of a Third World country,” said Galvin. “I’m not going to tolerate people showing up to our polling places. I would not want to have federal agents showing up in largely Hispanic areas.”

“The potential for mischief here is enormous,” he added.

A spokeswoman for the agency denied that the Secret Service agents would be used in a law enforcement capacity, stating that the “clarifying language” was a response to a 2016 incident in which poll workers stopped agents from accompanying a lawmaker to vote over concerns it violated federal law.

“The only time armed Secret Service personnel would be at a polling place would be to facilitate the visiting of one of our protectees while they voted,” Secret Service spokeswoman Catherine Milhoan told the Globe.

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Chuck Todd jokes after Trump calls him ‘sleepy-eyed’ during rally

NBC host Chuck Todd issued a joking response on Twitter Saturday evening after President TrumpDonald John TrumpAccuser says Trump should be afraid of the truth Woman behind pro-Trump Facebook page denies being influenced by Russians Shulkin says he has White House approval to root out ‘subversion’ at VA MORE mocked him during a Pennsylvania campaign rally.

The “Meet the Press” anchor jokingly warned viewers about Daylight Savings Time, which begins Sunday morning, after the president called him a “sleeping son of a bitch” during a campaign rally for Pennsylvania state Rep. Rick Saccone (R), who is running for Congress.

“Don’t miss @MeetThePress tomorrow! I know folks may be tired in the morning due to springing forward, so set those clocks and DVRs now before your eyes get too sleepy,” Todd joked.

Todd’s tweet came after the president renewed his favorite jab at the NBC anchor while describing a past “Meet the Press” appearance in 1999, during which he spoke about the need to confront North Korea.

“A show now headed by ‘Sleepy eyes Chuck Todd,’” Trump said Saturday. “He’s a sleeping son of a bitch.”

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Trump first used the moniker in April of 2017 when questioning why Todd and NBC News were not covering his claim that the Obama administration illegally spied on his campaign. Trump has a longstanding feud with NBC News and Todd, whom he considers to be biased against his administration.

“When will Sleepy Eyes Chuck Todd and @NBCNews start talking about the Obama SURVEILLANCE SCANDAL and stop with the Fake Trump/Russia story?” Trump tweeted last year.

“For those wondering, I slept well even tho I stayed up late watching the #msstate upset of UConn. #cowbell.  Don’t feel sleepy at all though,” Todd tweeted back at the time.

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O’Rourke faces uphill battle against Cruz after lackluster primary win

Texas Democrats had their strongest turnout numbers in more than a decade in Tuesday’s primaries, but Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s weaker-than-expected performance indicates that he’s still got a long way to go in his bid to take on Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOvernight Health Care: Trump eases rules on insurance outside ObamaCare | HHS office on religious rights gets 300 complaints in a month | GOP chair eyes opioid bill vote by Memorial Day HHS official put on leave amid probe into social media posts Trump, Pence to address CPAC this week MORE (R-Texas). 

O’Rourke won the Democratic nomination on Tuesday night, officially setting up his high-profile clash with Cruz in November. But the congressman won just 62 percent of the vote against candidates with far less name recognition and resources, signaling that he still needs to boost his statewide name recognition.

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O’Rourke, who’s represented the El Paso-based district since 2013, has been campaigning and fundraising nonstop since he jumped into the race last March. Yet his two relatively unknown primary challengers managed to secure a sizable portion of the vote, despite spending virtually no money.

Texas political observers say O’Rourke will need to spend the coming months becoming better acquainted with voters, but they still believe he’s the kind of candidate who can drive up turnout for Democrats in the fall and make more inroads for the party in the deep-red state.

“It’s clear that this is going to be an uphill battle, but at the same time the Democrats are going to need someone like O’Rourke who’s going to invest and energize the Democratic Party and its voters,” said Brandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor at the University of Houston.

“Although he’s unlikely to win, the fact that he can energize Democrats in places otherwise they may not come to vote is positive for the party in the long run. He’s running a strategy that will be effective in 10 years, but not 10 months.”

In the run-up to the primary, O’Rourke has stunned those in both national and Texas political circles with his prolific fundraising and rigorous campaign schedule. He’s 28 counties away from visiting all of 254 counties in the state. 

O’Rourke has raised nearly $9 million in his Senate bid and has at times outpaced Cruz in quarterly totals, though the senator still has an edge of more than $1 million in cash on hand. O’Rourke has $4.9 million in the bank, and spent more than $4 million ahead of the primary.

Despite O’Rourke’s advantages over his primary rivals, opponent Sema Hernandez dominated most of the counties along the U.S.-Mexico border and won nearly 24 percent of the vote without raising or spending any money. His other opponent, Edward Kimbrough, won 14 percent of the vote and spent $575. 

Texas strategists noted that candidates with Latino surnames can typically garner a decent percentage of the Democratic primary vote, even if they’re not the front-runner. 

They said that O’Rourke will need to reach out to more of those voters, adding that he’s already well-positioned to do so given that he’s fluent in Spanish and has a grasp on those issues. Rottinghaus added that he also needs to focus on urban areas, since a significant concentration of Democratic voters reside around Houston, Austin and Dallas.

But Matt Angle, a Democratic strategist and director of the Lone Star Project, pushed back on the narrative of Tuesday night. He argued that O’Rourke failed to meet expectations, but performed well given his low statewide name recognition.

“He’s simply not known in big parts of the state and in urban counties, there are big parts of the population that don’t know him, so the fact that he came out of that with 62 percent, is actually very good. It frustrates me that he was given this false standard to reach,” Angle said, adding that O’Rourke needs to campaign beyond Democrats’ urban strongholds.

Pre-empting Tuesday night’s results, Cruz sought to manage expectations by saying he’s “absolutely” concerned about the possibility of high Democratic turnout in Texas. He warned that conservatives staying on the sidelines in November could turn Texas blue. 

After O’Rourke locked up the nomination, Cruz launched the first salvo of what’s likely to be a contentious general election season.

Late on primary night, Cruz’s campaign launched a radio ad in the form of a country song that criticizes O’Rourke for going by his nickname “Beto,” while pointing out that O’Rourke isn’t actually Hispanic. Cruz critics quickly pointed out that the senator’s birth name isn’t Ted, but Rafael.

When asked about Cruz attack on CNN’s “New Day,” O’Rourke brushed it off and said Texans don’t want to focus on the “small, mean, petty stuff.” 

“We can get into name-calling and talk about why the other person is such an awful guy, or we can focus on the big things we want to do for the future of our country, for the generations that will succeed us,” O’Rourke said on the show.

Democrats believe O’Rourke needs to maintain that strategy and not get sucked into negative campaigning.

“[Cruz’s] strategy is to make the campaign ugly,” Angle said. “[O’Rourke] has to be able to continue to draw that contrast, be able to criticize Cruz and be able to challenge him but not be pulled down in the mud with him.”

But Cruz said Wednesday on CNN that he “absolutely” takes the race seriously and said that parts of the ad are just meant to “have a sense of humor.”

Political observers and strategists see only a narrow path for O’Rourke, given that he can’t win solely on Democratic votes while political polarization makes it tough for O’Rourke to sway more moderates and independents. Plus, no Democrat has won a Senate election in Texas since 1988.

While some Republicans acknowledge that O’Rourke is a much better Senate candidate for Democrats than in previous cycles, they believe the Democratic Party will have a better shot in some of the heavily targeted House races, like swing seats held by GOP Reps. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdProgressive group targets GOP moderates on immigration Obama failed on Russia; Trump must get it right House Dems rebuff Trump’s four-tier DACA approach MORE and John CulbersonJohn Abney CulbersonHouse Republicans add 5 members to incumbent protection program Record number of scientists running for office in 2018 Crowded primaries loom in Texas House races MORE. Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWoman behind pro-Trump Facebook page denies being influenced by Russians Trump: CNN, MSNBC ‘got scammed’ into covering Russian-organized rally Pennsylvania Democrats set to win big with new district map MORE won both of those seats in the 2016 election.

“[Democrats] have a case to be made and will make the case that they’re going to turn out a ton of people in the fall and threaten some Republican incumbents, but I think it really only gives a shot, a good aim at Will Hurd and, potentially, Culberson,” said Brendan Steinhauser, a GOP strategist who managed Texas Sen. John CornynJohn CornynLawmakers feel pressure on guns Kasich’s campaign website tones down gun language after Florida shooting Murphy: Trump’s support for background check bill shows gun politics ‘shifting rapidly’ MORE’s (R) 2014 race.

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