Good Friday morning. THE BREXIT VOTE was one year ago today.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP spoke with AINSLEY EARHARDT on "FOX AND FRIENDS" — ON HEALTH CARE: "It’s interesting, because I’ve been here for only five months. People are saying, where’s the health care, where’s the health care? Well, I’ve done in five months what other people haven’t done in years. And it’s been — people have worked on health care for many years. It’s a very complicated situation from the standpoint, you do something that’s good for one group but bad for another.

"It’s that very, very narrow path. But I think we’re going to get there. We have four very good people that — it’s not that they’re opposed, they’d like to get certain changes. And we’ll see if we can take care of that."

— ON ROBERT MUELLER: "Well, he’s very, very good friends with Comey, which is very bothersome. But he’s also — we’re going to have to see. I mean we’re going to have to see in terms — look, there has been no obstruction. There has been no collusion. There has been leaking by Comey.

"But that’s been no collusion, no obstruction and virtually everybody agrees to that. So we’ll have to see. I can say that the people that have been hired are all Hillary Clinton supporters. Some of them worked for Hillary Clinton. I mean the whole thing is ridiculous, if you want to know the truth, from that standpoint. But Robert Mueller is an honorable man and hopefully he’ll come up with an honorable solution."

— ON COMEY: "When he found out that I, you know, that there may be tapes out there, whether it’s governmental tapes or anything else, and who knows, I think his story may have changed. I mean you’ll have to take a look at that, because then he has to tell what actually took place at the events. And my story didn’t change. My story was always a straight story. My story was always the truth.

"But you’ll have to determine for yourself whether or not his story changed. But I did not tape." EARHARDT: "So it was a smart way to make sure he stayed honest in those hearings?" TRUMP: "Well, it wasn’t — it wasn’t very stupid, I can tell you that. He was — he did admit that what I said was right. And if you look further back, before he heard about that, I think maybe he wasn’t admitting that. So you’ll have to do a little investigative reporting to determine that. But I don’t think it will be that hard."

WHAT MCCONNELL IS THINKING — SENATE MAJORITY LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL wants a vote on the health-care bill next week no matter what. Don’t expect the Kentucky Republican to drag this process out like leadership did in the House — he wants to put senators on the record, and move on.

— MCCONNELL’S GAME: “Inside McConnell’s plan to repeal Obamacare: The Senate majority leader doesn’t have the votes yet. But if anyone can get them, it’s him,” by Burgess Everett: “Right now, McConnell is far from having a commitment for the 50 votes needed for passage, according to senators who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal politics of the 52-member caucus. But no one on Capitol Hill seems to be betting against the wily majority leader as he plans for one of the most critical roll call votes of his career next week.

“McConnell’s strategy has been a slow burn, allowing his members to vent in private party discussions while gradually writing a bill that takes in their considerations over the past six weeks. He’s had more than 30 meetings with his members about taking down the 2010 health law, intended to give his members more input and get them comfortable with the product.”

THE HEALTH CARE BILL — “Winners and losers from the Senate repeal bill” – Politico Pro staff: “THE WINNERS: The wealthy … The young and healthy … GOP governors who fought Obamacare … Some health industry groups … THE LOSERS: Poorer, older insurance consumers … People struggling with addiction … Planned Parenthood and its clients … Public health agencies.”

— OBAMA SPEAKS, on Facebook: “I recognize that repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act has become a core tenet of the Republican Party. Still, I hope that our Senators, many of whom I know well, step back and measure what’s really at stake, and consider that the rationale for action, on health care or any other issue, must be something more than simply undoing something that Democrats did. We didn’t fight for the Affordable Care Act for more than a year in the public square for any personal or political gain – we fought for it because we knew it would save lives, prevent financial misery, and ultimately set this country we love on a better, healthier course.”

44 TO RETURN TO THE TRAIL — “All That Stands Between Democrats And A Massive Freakout Is This Man,” by HuffPo’s Sam Stein: “[W]hile [Ralph] Northam may be playing it cool, he’s not being complacent. … Former President Barack Obama is expected to make his return to electoral politics this fall to join him on the trail, both Northam and Obama’s office confirmed.”

THE DAWSEY DOWNLOAD — ON TRUMP’S LEGISLATIVE GAME: “President Donald Trump spent much of Thursday fuming about the special counsel’s investigation into his administration — and senior aides put the final touches on how they could clean up the ‘tapes’ tweet mess he created six weeks ago. According to three people in the White House, there was little focus from Trump on health care — one of the president’s signature campaign initiatives — even as the Senate released the bill Thursday.

“But earlier in the week, Trump signaled ‘intense interest’ in helping whip votes, one person familiar with the conversations said, and his senior aides have been in frequent communication with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s team, per White House officials. One person familiar with the discussions said Trump’s role will be to work on more conservative members — like Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) — and leave moderates largely alone, where he is likely to have little influence. Trump has a personal relationship with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), seen in the Senate as a difficult vote to win, ‘and sees it as a personal mission to win him over,’ one White House official said.

“So Trump is reading the political winds. He wants to have maneuvering room if things go south. He remains largely uninterested in specific policy behind the bill. But he will likely jump in the fight soon.”

COMING ATTRACTIONS — “The next big bill that could be written in secret,” by Bernie Becker and Aaron Lorenzo: “The Senate health care bill might not be the only blockbuster piece of legislation this year written behind closed doors by an elite few. Both senior administration officials and congressional leaders are already telegraphing that the tax reform measure they hope to move this fall will largely be shaped among themselves in private meetings. While many griped about the secrecy surrounding the health legislation, few rank-and-file Republicans seem to be objecting to that approach on tax reform, which has the potential to remake a federal tax system that brings in more than $3 trillion a year.”

ABOUT THOSE TAPES — “Six-week ‘tapes’ saga comes to a very un-Trumpian end,” by Annie Karni: “President Donald Trump prides himself on being a master of suspense, counter attack and self-promotion. But when it came time to end the six-week long mystery about whether or not he recorded ‘tapes’ of his conversations with former FBI director James Comey in the Oval Office — the day before a House Intelligence Committee deadline to produce any such tapes — the president deflated the balloon in a very non-Trumpian way. There was no drawn-out press conference in the lobby of the Trump Hotel, for instance, like the one he staged during his presidential campaign to announce he was finally dropping his false, five-year-long conspiracy theory about President Barack Obama’s birthplace.”


— “Trump is struggling to stay calm on Russia, one morning call at a time,” by WaPo’s Ashley Parker and Phil Rucker: “President Trump has a new morning ritual. Around 6:30 a.m. on many days — before all the network news shows have come on the air — he gets on the phone with a member of his outside legal team to chew over all things Russia. The calls — detailed by three senior White House officials — are part strategy consultation and part presidential venting session, during which Trump’s lawyers and public-relations gurus take turns reviewing the latest headlines with him. They also devise their plan for battling his avowed enemies: the special counsel leading the Russia investigation; the ‘fake news’ media chronicling it; and, in some instances, the president’s own Justice Department overseeing the probe.

“His advisers have encouraged the calls — which the early-to-rise Trump takes from his private quarters in the White House residence — in hopes that he can compartmentalize the widening Russia investigation. By the time the president arrives for work in the Oval Office, the thinking goes, he will no longer be consumed by the Russia probe that he complains hangs over his presidency like a darkening cloud.”

“Trump loses patience with his White House counsel,” by Nancy Cook and Josh Dawsey: “White House counsel Don McGahn has largely stepped back from managing Donald Trump’s response to the expanding Russia investigation, but that hasn’t stopped the president from lashing out at him about it anyway. Trump started the week by giving McGahn, a loyal supporter who was among the first Washington establishment figures to sign on with his presidential campaign, a dressing down in the Oval Office for not doing more to squash the Russia probe early on.

“The episode — recounted by four people familiar with the conversation — came as part of a broader discussion on Monday about the president’s frustrations with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, which now includes the question of whether Trump himself tried to obstruct the investigation by firing FBI director James Comey.”

THE OPPOSITION — “Pelosi defiant as restless Democrats consider options,” by Heather Caygle and John Bresnahan: “A defiant House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Thursday said she has no plans to step down anytime soon, despite calls from some rank-and-file Democrats for new leadership and at least one meeting to plot to replace her. Pelosi spent a good chunk of her weekly news conference defending her longtime perch atop the Democratic Caucus, at times even mocking colleagues within her party who have in recent days said it’s time for her to step aside.

“‘I respect any opinion that my members have, but my decision about how long I stay is not up to them,’ Pelosi told reporters. ‘My caucus is overwhelmingly supportive of me.’ But as Pelosi was defending her status in the caucus, of group of Democrats were already planning a secret afternoon meeting to talk about potentially trying to replace her. A dozen Democrats attended the meeting out of the nearly 20 members invited. Afterward, leaders of the group said no decisions have been made about what to do next, but that support is growing within the caucus to topple Pelosi.”

— ACTUALLY, whether she remains as the top Democrat in the House is entirely up to her colleagues. That being said, the majority of her caucus is supportive of her, so she will survive for the time being.

— NYT, A1: JONATHAN MARTIN and MATT FLEGENHEIMER on Pelosi, with an interview.

MORE MEMOS! — “Memo Shows Preet Bharara Was Concerned After Phone Call From White House,” by BuzzFeed’s Jason Leopold and Claudia Koerner: “Former US Attorney Preet Bharara sent an email to Justice Department officials in New York to express concern about a voicemail he received in March from President Donald Trump’s secretary, Madeline Westerhout, according to emails BuzzFeed News obtained Thursday from the Department of Justice under [FOIA] … ‘At approximately 4:41 pm, on 3/9/17, I received the following voicemail at work: “Hi, Mr. Bharara. This is Madeline Westerhout calling from President Donald Trump’s office. If you could please give me a call back at that would be great. Thanks,”’ Bharara wrote in an email he sent to then-deputy US Attorney Joon Kim and Joan Loughnane, chief counsel to Bharara.”

— “Tough-talking Trump defense lawyer says he’s no ‘snowflake,’” by Reuters’ Karen Freifeld: “The latest lawyer hired to represent U.S. President Donald Trump in the federal investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election is an ex-Marine who likens some cases to war. ‘I fight hard,’ John Dowd said in an interview. ‘I believe that’s what I’m supposed to do. I am not a snowflake, I can tell you that.’ … Dowd, who spoke with Reuters on Wednesday, is a mirror of his client in many ways. He has a no-holds-barred, hyperbolic style and a history of attacking prosecutors, congressional Democrats and the media. … A onetime military lawyer with the U.S. Marine Corps, Dowd noted his shared service in declining to criticize Mueller, a Marine platoon leader during the Vietnam War. ‘Bobby is doing what he has to do and he’ll do a good job,’ said Dowd. ‘He’s a fellow Marine and he’s a good man.’”

TRUMP’S FRIDAY — He is meeting with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. He’ll also sign the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017.


— SCOOP: The Department of Homeland Security is restarting a stalled $10-million grant program for “Countering Violent Extremism” this morning. Life After Hate, a group dedicated to deradicalizing neo-Nazis and stopping white extremism, was slated to get $400,000 in the final days of the Obama administration ( before the program was halted for review, but the Trump administration dropped them from the new grant list that’s getting announced today. The group has seen a twenty-fold increase in requests for help since Election Day “from people looking to disengage or bystanders/family members looking for help from someone they know,” the organization’s founder Christian Picciolini told us. The Denver, Las Vegas, and Seattle police departments are some of the big cities that are getting six-figure grants to fight extremism. Los Angeles and Denver are also among the cities getting money. DHS did not comment last night on why Life After Hate was dropped.

BUSINESS BURST — “American Airlines CEO ‘Not Happy’ About Qatar Airways Plan to Buy 10% Stake: Gulf airline intends to buy shares on the open market—an approach American Airlines CEO calls ‘puzzling and strange’,” by WSJ’s Robert Wall, Susan Carey and Doug Cameron: “In a filing early Thursday, American said Qatar Airways Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker told it of its plan to acquire up to a 10% stake. American said Qatar Airways informed it of its intention to buy at least $808 million of its stock on the open market, or roughly 16.7 million shares at Wednesday’s closing price.

“American Chief Executive Doug Parker, in an interview Thursday, he was ‘not happy’ about the prospect and found the approach ‘puzzling and strange.’ … Qatar’s proposed investment in American would be more unusual: The two have been on opposite sides of a bitter air-industry fight. Some U.S. and European carriers have accused Qatar Airways and two other Gulf airlines, Emirates Airline and Etihad Airways, of benefiting from government ownership and subsidies. The fast-growing Gulf carriers have denied that.”

FIRST PERSON — “We participated in talks with North Korean representatives. This is what we learned,” by Bruce Klingner and Sue Mi Terry in WaPo: “This month, we were part of a group of delegates from the United States, Japan, China and South Korea who met in Sweden with representatives of North Korea to explore possible grounds for resuming the six-party talks that collapsed in 2009. After many hours with the North Korean delegation at these ‘1.5 track’ talks, we left more pessimistic than when we arrived. North Korean officials made unambiguously clear that Pyongyang will not be deterred from augmenting its nuclear arsenal or test-launching an intercontinental ballistic missile that could eventually threaten the U.S. homeland. There were no signals of flexibility or willingness to negotiate on these programs. Throughout, the North Korean message was that denuclearization is off the table.”

YIKES — “In Yemen’s secret prisons, UAE tortures and U.S. interrogates,” by AP’s Maggie Michaels in Mukalla, Yemen: “Hundreds of men swept up in the hunt for al-Qaida militants have disappeared into a secret network of prisons in southern Yemen where abuse is routine and torture extreme — including the ‘grill,’ in which the victim is tied to a spit like a roast and spun in a circle of fire, an Associated Press investigation has found. Senior American defense officials acknowledged Wednesday that U.S. forces have been involved in interrogations of detainees in Yemen but denied any participation in or knowledge of human rights abuses. … The AP documented at least 18 clandestine lockups across southern Yemen run by the United Arab Emirates or by Yemeni forces created and trained by the Gulf nation.”

— “Qatar’s neighbors issue steep list of demands to end crisis,” by AP’s Josh Lederman: “Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries that have cut ties to Qatar issued a steep list of demands Thursday to end the crisis, insisting that their Persian Gulf neighbor shutter Al-Jazeera, cut back diplomatic ties to Iran and close down a Turkish military base in Qatar. In a 13-point list — presented to the Qataris by Kuwait, which is helping mediate the crisis — the countries also demand that Qatar sever all ties with the Muslim Brotherhood and with other groups including Hezbollah, al-Qaida and the Islamic State group. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the list in Arabic from one of the countries involved in the dispute.”

POWER PLAYBOOKERS – DAVID PETRAEUS and MICHAEL O’HANLON in the WSJ, “Getting an Edge in the Long Afghan Struggle: Trump’s early approach holds promise if backed with a sustained, and sustainable, commitment”:

WHAT LANGLEY IS READING — “Ex-CIA officer charged with spying for China: Prosecutors allege a brazen effort to trade U.S. secrets for cash,” by Josh Gerstein: “A former [CIA] officer is facing charges that he sold top-secret U.S. government documents to China. Kevin Mallory, 60, was arrested by the FBI at his home in Leesburg, Virginia, on Thursday and brought to federal court in Alexandria to face preliminary charges of espionage and lying to federal officers. While the sensitivity of the information disclosed remains unclear, if the government can prove the charges, the case would represent one of the most brazen acts of espionage for China carried out by a veteran of the CIA and other government agencies.”

MICHAEL GRUNWALD in The Agenda, “The anti-innovation presidency: Behind all the theater of ‘Tech Week,’ Trump’s budget makes deeper cuts to research and development than any White House in modern history”: “There’s a political logic to Trump’s innovation policy heresies. Two thirds of R&D spending goes to blue states, and most of it tends to cluster in large cities and college towns rather than farm country or the Rust Belt, one reason these issues have more resonance for cosmopolitan technocrats than for Trump voters.”

NERDCAST PODCAST: The most closely watched House race ever is over, and Republican Karen Handel came out the victor over Democrat Jon Ossoff. POLITICO’s Scott Bland, Charlie Mahtesian, Eliana Johnson and Nancy Cook break down Georgia’s special election and the resulting discontent with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi among some Democrats. Plus, POLITICO Pulse Check host Dan Diamond joined to walk through what’s in the Senate GOP health care bill and which factions will push the bill in different directions in the days to come. Listen and subscribe

MEDIAWATCH — “Wall Street Journal Scrutinizes Hundreds of Articles by Fired Reporter,” by NYT’s Sydney Ember and Gardiner Harris: Jay Solomon’s “closeness with some of his sources made some colleagues uncomfortable. During United Nations General Assembly meetings in New York, Mr. Azima often invited journalists to join him for drinks and dinner. Mr. Azima also appeared in Vienna in 2015 during negotiations on the Iran nuclear deal. In each setting, Mr. Solomon was a fixture at the bar and restaurant table with Mr. Azima … In Washington, Mr. Solomon sometimes bragged about afternoons spent on Mr. Azima’s yacht and showed pictures around the newsroom of himself and his young son in sun-washed locales with the businessman, according to people who worked in the bureau who spoke on the condition of anonymity.”

SUNDAY SO FAR — “FOX News Sunday”: Brit Hume is filling in for Chris Wallace. Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) … Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.). Panel: Michael Needham, Jennifer Griffin, Josh Holmes, Bob Woodward

–NBC’s “Meet the Press”: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) … Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.). Panel: Helene Cooper, Hallie Jackson, Mark Leibovich, George F. Will

–CBS’ “Face the Nation”: Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.). Panel: Ben Domenech, Michael Duffy, Ed O’Keefe and Amy Walter … The Atlantic’s Mark Bowden, author of “How to Deal With North Korea” (

–ABC’s “This Week”: Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) … Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) … Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)

–CNN’s “Inside Politics,” hosted by John King: Michael Bender, Margaret Talev, Karoun Demirjian, Manu Raju

–CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS”: Mayor Rahm Emanuel … Victor Cha … Joseph Cirincione … David Brooks

SPOTTED at Dead and Company last night at Jiffy Lube Live in Virginia: Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), Diane Blagman, Bryan Sanders (Sarah Huckabee’s husband) … former First Lady Laura Bush with three companions entering a Georgetown house on 31st street yesterday afternoon.

SPOTTED at birthday parties for Michael Falcone and Adrienne Elrod last night, both coincidentally held at Kimpton Mason and Rook roof near Logan Circle: John Podesta, Jen Psaki, Alice Stewart, Jen Palmieri, Jessie Niewold, Arlette Saenz, Justin Fishel, Veronica Stracqualursi, Ryan Struyk.

SPOTTED at Ali Rogin’s 30th birthday party last night at Exiles bar on U Street: Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), Jamie Kirchick, Suzy Kianpour, Aaron Keyak, Zeke Miller, Sahil Kapur, Walter Cronkite, Nick Kalman, Andrew Albertson, Kate Bennett and Kevin Baron, Nick Kalman, Paul Kane, Niels Lesniewski, Michael Goldfarb.

WELCOME TO THE WORLD – J.D. Grom, executive director of the New Democrat Coalition and Stacy Grom, director of special events and sponsorships for the National Geographic Society, on Monday welcomed Emma Marie Grom, born at 1:39 p.m. EST weighing in at 6 pounds, 15.5 ounces and 20.5 inches long. Pics

Josh Block, CEO and president of The Israel Project and an AIPAC alum, and Kim Block email friends and family: “Kim and I are thrilled to welcome Henry Victor Block to our family. He was born Tuesday afternoon, weighing-in at 8lbs 14.5oz. Mom and baby are doing great! Thanks for all your warm wishes!” Pics

OUT AND ABOUT — Capitol File hosted its annual summer arts issue party last night at Pinea at the W with New Heights Communications and DC Events, and sponsors Peroni, Mumm champagne, Christie’s Long and Foster and the National Confectioners Association.

SPOTTED: Publisher Meredith Merrill, Marissa Mitrovich, Carol Lee, Matt and Rebecca Haller, Jon Decker, Neil Grace, Kevin Sheridan and Erika Gutierrez, Adrienne Elrod, Parita Shah, Kimball Stroud, Christine Delargy, Andrew Kovalcin, Alex and Caitlin Conant, Steve Chaggaris, Ron Bonjean, Michael and Mary Kathryn Steel, Sam Dealey, Pamela Sorensen, Meredith Fineman, Jen Hing, Anne Schroeder, Anne Brady Perron, Jon Decker, Matt Dornic and Kyle Volpe, Emily Kuhn, James Hooley, David Chalian, Mignon Clyburn, Yebbie Watkins, Zach Sentementes, Tara Palmeri, Janet Donovan, Lyndon Boozer, Daniel Swartz, David Litt, Michael and Mary Katherine Steel, Demi Vitkute, Will Carter, John McCarthy.

–The women of the White House press corps and press office had a Ladies Libations happy hour last night at Le Bar. SPOTTED: Ali Vitali, Ronica Cleary, Francesca Chambers, Nikki Schwab, Tara Palmeri, birthday girl Jill Colvin, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Lindsay Walters, Natalie Strom, Anita Kumar, Jessica Stone, Jen Jacobs, Marrisa Schultz, Helen Aguirre Ferre, Linda Feldman, Debra Saunders.

TRANSITIONS — Mike French, former NASA chief of staff, has launched Port City Strategies, a space and technology government affairs firm. Weissmann is starting on Monday at the R Street Institute where she will be managing digital media for the libertarian organization. She was most recently digital director for Opportunity Lives.

BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Amber Moon, comms. director for Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and a Kay Hagan alum. Asked how the Trump presidency is going: “Tremendously unprecedented.” Read her Playbook Plus Q&A:

BIRTHDAYS: Paul Tewes, the pride of Mountain Lake, Minn. … Sylvia Burwell, former HHS secretary and president of American University, is celebrating her birthday at the Steve Miller Band concert at Merriweather Post Pavilion. … Politico alum Adam Lerner … Justice Clarence Thomas is 69 … Politico Europe’s Kate Day, Etienne Bauvir, and Ali Walker (tophat tips: Gabe Brotman) … J.P. Fielder, head of corporate comms and investor relations at Exact Sciences Corporation … Josh Lauder … Rick Reynolds … Judy Lemons, former long-time CoS to Nancy Pelosi … Goldman Sachs alum Ryan Rogers Woodbury, a recent Stanford GSB MBA grad now co-founder of AVAIL … former Rep. Baron Hill (D-Ind.) is 64 … former Rep. Robert Dold (R-Ill.) is 48 … former Rep. Cresent Hardy (R-Nev.) is 6-0 … Tyler Anderson … Jeff Carter … Suzanne Clark, senior EVP of the U.S. Chamber … Chris Spanos, co-founder and CEO of, America’s leading on-demand roadside assistance service (h/t Jon Haber) …

… Steven Stombres, partner at Harbinger Strategies … Emma Whitestone, proud recent graduate of Ithaca College (h/t dad Randy) … Sivan Borowich-Ya’ari, founder of Innovation Africa, is 39 … real estate developer Jerry Speyer is 77 (h/ts Jewish Insider) … Patrick Morris … Brian Pomper … Caitlin Dorman … Mark Leder … Bronagh Finnegan … Walter Sabbath … Greg Hale is 42 … Julie McInerney, spending the day getting her son ready for college at UW Madison … Andrew Roos (h/ts Teresa Vilmain) … Tom Frechette … Tina Karalekas … Natasha Chambers … Robin Strongin … musical conductor James Levine is 74 … “American Idol” ex-judge Randy Jackson is 61 … actress Frances McDormand is 6-0 … actress Selma Blair is 45 … Rock singer KT Tunstall is 42 (h/ts AP)