The Daily 202: A deep dive into an angry, and divided, America – Washington Post

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— For 35 days, The Post’s David Maraniss and Robert Samuels crossed the nation interviewing voters. Their four-part dispatch, with vignettes from eight states, just posted. Some highlights from their 20,000-word series:

There is so much anger out there in America: “Anger at Wall Street. Anger at Muslims. Anger at trade deals. Anger at Washington. Anger at police shootings of young black men. Anger at President Obama. Anger at Republican obstructionists. Anger about political correctness. Anger about the role of big money in campaigns. Anger about the poisoned water of Flint. Anger about deportations. Anger about undocumented immigrants. Anger about a career that didn’t go as expected. Anger about a lost way of life. Mob anger at groups of protesters in their midst. Specific anger and undefined anger and even anger about anger.”

This anger is the culmination of long-emerging trends in American life: “The decomposition of traditional institutions. The descent of politics into reality-TV entertainment. Demographic and economic shifts quickening the impulses of inclusion and exclusion and us vs. them. All of it leading to this moment of great unsettling, with the Republican Party unraveling, the Democrats barely keeping it together, and both moving farther away from each other by the week, reflecting the splintering not only of the body politic but of the national ideal.”

But there is also hope and optimism: “For every disgruntled person out there who felt undone by the system and threatened by the way the country was changing, caught in the bind of stagnant wages or longing for an America of the past, we found someone who had endured decades of discrimination and hardship and yet still felt optimistic about the future and had no desire to go back. In this season of discontent, there were still as many expressions of hope as of fear. On a larger level, there were as many communities enjoying a sense of revival as there were fighting against deterioration and despair.”

Part 3 focuses on Las Vegas: Sin City is “our nation’s great national cliche, more excessive in its hyperbole than the boasts in a Donald Trump stump speech, at once the representation and perversion of the American Dream.”

The paradox: “It is by its very sustenance a city teeming with losers, yet the tallest residential structure in town has Trump’s name on it. People flock here in hopes of something gained, of some miraculous transfer of wealth, of beating or evening the odds rigged against them, of leaving inhibitions behind, in fear and loathing, in remembrance of things lost.”

How would Hunter S. Thompson cover Trump? “It was 45 years ago that gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson beat his way to Las Vegas, longing for something already gone, a time when ‘there was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning.’ He was writing in 1971 about the heady counterculture days of the mid-’60s, although the words could be appropriated by various ideologies this election year. Feeling out of time, his senses altered by hallucinogenic drugs, Thompson rendered a novelistic evocation of Las Vegas as the wasteland of the righteous capitalist ideal. One can only wonder what Thompson would have done with the materialization of candidate Trump.”

Two memorable metaphors—

  • “Watching the Republican Party leadership deal with Trump, one person said, was like witnessing a high-anxiety Vegas act — the illusionist David Blaine trying to escape from a water tank. Surely he will loosen his way out from the chains and handcuffs and rise to safety. Time passes, even in this city without clocks, and is it already too late? How much longer can he hold his breath? The establishment was in the water tank, running out of air.”
  • Melissa Petersen sits in the back yard of her home on Barbara Street in Las Vegas and listens to the shrieks coming from atop the Stratosphere, a giant observation tower that rises high above her Beverly Green neighborhood: “She knew the screams by heart — three variations that differentiated the amusement rides that provoked them, from the mechanical claw to the bungee jump to the capsule shot up and down. Las Vegas again capturing the American mood. There was the hysterical giggling scream. There was the scream of utter terror. And there was the undulating scream that started high-pitched and fell to a long and low moan.”

 Part Four is anchored in Macomb County, Michigan, a mostly white and middle-class suburb above Detroit. It’s where the people once known as Reagan Democrats, who have long since become Republicans, helped deliver a decisive win for Trump in last week’s primary. Two guys canvassing together speak to the power of Trump: Jason Powrozek, 17, was inspired to get involved by “The Apprentice.” He placed more calls from Trump’s phone banks in Michigan than anyone else. Rick Cruz, a 62-year-old self-employed entrepreneur, shared Jason’s admiration for Trump’s commercial success. “In listening to Cruz, one could see a connection between Trump’s evangelism about money and his unexpected popularity among religious evangelicals, between mega-churches brimming with believers who want to be saved and arenas filled with people who want to be taught how to become rich,” Maraniss and Samuels write. “Prophets and profits, in this sense speaking the same language.”

— For your reading pleasure:


— Former Breitbart News reporter Michelle Fields, the victim of an alleged assault by Trump’s campaign manager, will not appear on the Fox News show “Cashin’ In” for the foreseeable future, The Daily Beast reports. “Sources say Fields was informed of the decision last night by Eric Bolling’s producer, who said she was no longer ‘impartial’ to Trump, and could not speak objectively on his candidacy. Some think the complaint is a bit hypocritical, as Bolling’s signature style implores viewers to rise up against liberals as a ‘cancer’ or an ‘Ebola-like virus.’”

 A Fox News spokesperson denies that there has been any discussion about permanently removing Fields from the show and said Bolling was not involved in any way. Politico: “Bolling, who has been called Fields’ mentor, said on Fox News recently that he hasn’t spoken to Fields since the incident but suggested she might have also been grabbed by a Secret Service agent. Challenged by his colleagues that video clearly showed Lewandowski reaching for Fields, Bolling said if it was Lewandowski, he should apologize. Fields, who has been shown support by several other Fox personalities, was interviewed twice in the past week by host Megyn Kelly to talk about the incident.”


  1. Alzheimer’s “lost memories” might some day be recoverable, according to research from MIT. Nobel Prize-winner Susumu Tonegawa provides strong evidence that, rather than destroying memories, Alzheimer’s renders them inaccessible – raising hopes that memory loss caused could one day be reversed. (Ariana Eunjung Cha)
  2. The U.S. resumed mail service with Cuba for the first time in more than 50 years. (Joe Davidson)
  3. The Air Force fired one of its most senior generals after an investigation revealed he exchanged “sexually suggestive” emails with a lower-ranking female officer. Lt. Gen. John Hesterman, who formerly ran the aerial campaign against ISIS, has denied that any physical relationship took place. (Dan Lamothe)
  4. Elizabeth Warren criticized Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.) for making a “sexist and offensive” comment about her at an American Bankers Association meeting. He said the banking industry needs to “neuter” Warren and called her “the Darth Vader of the financial services world.” (Boston Globe)
  5. Retiring Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.) endorsed Jimmy Panetta, Leon’s son, to replace him.
  6. A 26-year-old Virginia man, who was taken into custody in Iraq after purportedly deserting the Islamic State, said he decided to escape after he grew “dissatisfied” during intensive religious training in Mosul. (Matt Zapotosky)
  7. The University of California-Merced student who wounded four in a stabbing attack last year appears to have been inspired by Islamic State attacks. Reports from the FBI detail pro-ISIS propaganda and other extremist materials on the dead attacker’s computer, suggesting he was self-radicalized. (LA Times
  8. In another show of defiance to protest sanctions, North Korea launched a medium-range ballistic missile.
  9. Radar scans in King Tut’s tomb reveal new evidence of potential hidden chambers, giving credence to the theory that Queen Nefertiti could be buried alongside him. (Sudarsan Raghavan)


— “GOP operatives, conservative leaders meet to thwart Trump,” by Robert Costa: “A secretive group of Republican operatives and conservative leaders convened Thursday morning for more than three hours (at the Army-Navy Club) to discuss ways to unite the right against Donald Trump, with a presentation about the feasibility of mounting a third-party challenge as well as extensive deliberations about whether a coalition of anti-Trump forces could prevent the billionaire mogul from securing the party’s presidential nomination at the July convention in Cleveland. ‘It’s certainly not too late,’ Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) said as he left the session. ‘You could get another party on the ballot. A candidate could be picked as late as August. … It would have to be a movement conservative.'” 

  • “A second attendee said Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska was one name mentioned as a possible late-entry contender who conservatives could rally around. In a statement, the senator (who was not at the meeting) said he would not run: ‘Absolutely not. I’ve got three little kids and the only callings that I want: raising them and serving Nebraskans. No way.'”
  • “Later, radio host Erick Erickson, who helped organize the event, published a statement on behalf of the group. ‘We call for a unity ticket,’ said Erickson. ‘We encourage all former Republican candidates not currently supporting Trump to unite against him and encourage all candidates to hold delegates on the first ballot.’”
  • Paul Ryan flew to Palm Beach for a dinner last night with some of the GOP’s top donors, organized by Paul Singer. They are divided about the path forward, Politico reports. 

— We may not know whether there will be a contested convention until CALIFORNIA votes on JUNE 7. Philip Bump explains: “172 delegates will be at stake, nearly 14 percent of what a candidate needs in order to gain a majority. And just to make things dramatic, nearly all of those 172 delegates will be distributed to the winners of each of the state’s 53 congressional districts. Meaning that when polls close at 11 p.m. Eastern on June 7, we will likely be tracking 53 individual elections in order to figure out if Trump or Cruz hit the 1,237 mark. … Meaning, one year after we watched Trump glide down that escalator, astonished, we may spend half the night watching returns trickle in from Yolo County to see if Trump has clinched the nomination.” On June 7, voters will also go to the polls in Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota.

— Sen. Lindsey Graham threw his support behind Cruz, calling him the “best choice” for Republicans who want to stop Trump. The South Carolina Senator will host a fundraiser for Cruz at Monday’s American Israel Public Affairs Committee Policy Conference. (Elise Viebeck and Mike DeBonis)

A group of 40 rabbis announced plans to boycott Trump’s AIPAC speech on Monday. “The planned demonstration signals a growing unease among many Jewish leaders about Trump’s populist campaign, and comes as members of the Republican Jewish Coalition, a group of major GOP donors, is expected to debate how to deal with Trump during its annual meeting next month in Las Vegas,” Rosalind S. Helderman reports. “Jeffrey Salkin, a Hollywood, Fla., rabbi, said he was alarmed about Trump’s behavior and rhetoric on the campaign trail. ‘Jewish history teaches that when hatred is unleashed, it takes on a life of its own.’”

— But, but, but: There is evidence that casino mogul SHELDON ADELSON is flirting with Trump. From Helderman’s story: “Adelson has not endorsed in the race, and his spokesman declined to comment. However, Adelson met with Trump in December and declared in an interview with Reuters that he found Trump to be ‘very charming.’ An Israeli blogger, Tal Schneider, reported this week that she had obtained video of Adelson at a fundraiser honoring former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani in Las Vegas on Feb. 27, in which Adelson said: ‘Trump is a businessman. I am a businessman. He employs a lot of people. I employed 50,000 people. Why not?’ An Israeli newspaper owned by Adelson also this week published an interview with Trump conducted after his Tuesday night primary victories, in which Trump declared that his success was ‘tremendous news for Israel.’  ‘Your friend is leading in the primaries,’ Trump told the newspaper’s reporter, who covered his post-election celebration in Palm Beach. ‘I’ve always been your friend, even at the toughest moments. And that’s not going to change. I love you.'”

Anxious about Trump? Try being a foreign ambassador,” by Mary Jordan: “Diplomats from many close U.S. allies said there has not been a U.S. election since WWII in which representatives of foreign nations have felt so completely cut off from a leading presidential candidate or so unsure of his view of foreign policy. ‘Scary. That’s how we view Trump,’ said an ambassador whose country has close relations with Washington. ‘Could we depend on the U.S.? We don’t know … I can’t tell you how the unpredictability we are seeing scares us.’ Riordan Roett, a professor at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, said there is ‘deep concern’ among ambassadors that ‘no one can even name a foreign-policy adviser to Trump.’ Five times recently, worried ambassadors turned to Roett asking, ‘Who would Trump pick as his secretary of state?’ [And] no one has an inkling, said Roett.” One ambassador had been cabling home that Trump won’t win; that person is no longer doing so…

— Authorities in Illinois finally dropped charges against CBS journalist Sopan Deb, who was arrested while covering the tense aftermath of the canceled Trump rally last week. Deb recounted the events to CBS’s “Face the Nation”: “Another scuffle breaks out and I’m shooting this scuffle … before I know it, a police officer threw me to the ground and bashed my face into the street and put his boot into my neck and cuffed me,” Deb recalled. “I am continuously identifying myself as press, I said, ‘I have credentials, I can show you I have credentials,’ but they are not listening to me.” Police said charges were dropped after a “methodical review” of evidence, including live footage shot by Deb. (CBS)

— A man in North Carolina was arrested after posting a video of himself running over a Trump yard sign with his car. (Peter Holley)

— “There’s an air of menace about this campaign,” Charles Krauthammer writes in today’s Post: The conservative decries the liberal protestors who forced Trump to cancel his Chicago rally but also Trump himself for saying there would be riots if he doesn’t get the nomination. “What is so disturbing today is that suffusing our politics is not just an air of division but also an air of menace,” he writes. “It’s being fueled on both sides: one side through organized anti-free-speech agitation using Bolshevik tactics; the other side by verbal encouragement and threats of varying degrees of subtlety. They may feed off each other but they are of independent origin. And both are repugnant, both dangerous and both deserving of the most unreserved condemnation.”

— The Post’s Fact Checker, Glenn Kessler, gives Four Pinocchios to Trump for his rhetoric on trade: “Trump’s claims on trade, currency manipulation and manufacturing are either wrong or no longer valid. If he became president, he (and his supporters) would have a rude shock that the problems he complains about are overstated or no longer exist — and solutions such as raising tariffs might backfire. Taken together, his vision is a whopper.”

Returning to the Senate for the first time in a month, an exhausted Marco Rubio said he will serve out his term and then become a private citizen. He insisted he has no political goals on the horizon. Via Paul Kane: “I’m not going to be anybody’s vice president. I’m just not gonna — I’m not interested in being vice president. I don’t mean that in a disrespectful way. I’m not going to be vice president. I’m not running for governor of Florida,” Rubio said, dismissing speculation about his future. In a call with his supporters in Minnesota — the lone state to give him a victory on the crucial March 1 Super Tuesday collection of primaries and caucuses — Rubio said Cruz was the “only conservative” left in the race. On Thursday, he said that was merely his own opinion of the three candidates left and that he had no endorsement yet to make. Rubio also gave an all-but-formal endorsement of his friend, Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, who is among the crowded field of contenders for the Republican nomination to succeed him. “The lieutenant governor is a good friend of mine,” Rubio said.


— Clinton was formally declared the winner in Missouri’s primary, edging out Sanders by just over 1,500 votes. Her victory (which he conceded) is mostly symbolic – the close race became a battle for bragging rights more than delegates — but the former Secretary of State can now claim a clean sweep of all five states that voted Tuesday as she marches closer to the party nomination. (Abby Phillip)

At a rally in Arizona, Sanders acknowledged the hard path ahead to catch Clinton but said dropping out would be “outrageously undemocratic”: “Our progressive agenda has enormous support,” the Vermont senator told The Post’s John Wagner. “For anyone to rule us out is making a mistake.”

— In a stark contrast to 2014, Obama will be welcome on the campaign trail in 2016. And he’s eager to get out there. From Juliet Eilperin: “Obama and his top aides have been strategizing for weeks about how they can reprise his successful 2008 and 2012 approaches to help elect a Democrat to replace him. And out of concern that a Republican president in 2017 — either Trump or Cruz — would weaken or reverse some of his landmark policies, Obama and his surrogates have started making the case that it is essential for the GOP to be defeated in November. As a result, Obama is poised to be the most active sitting president on the campaign trail in decades. … Several Democratic strategists say they are confident that Obama can boost turnout for their candidates in key states, including Colorado, Florida, Nevada and Virginia.”

— Obama, privately urging Democrats to rally behind Clinton, acknowledged concerns that she’s not perceived as authentic and that she’s not generating enough excitement: The New York Times spoke with donors who attended a private fundraiser that the president spoke at in Austin last week. He reportedly said Sanders is nearing the point at which his campaign would end, and that the party must soon come together to back her. “Mr. Obama acknowledged that Mrs. Clinton was perceived to have weaknesses as a candidate, and that some Democrats did not view her as authentic,” Maggie Haberman and Michael D. Shear report. “But he played down the importance of authenticity, noting that President George W. Bush … was once praised for his authenticity.”

— The New York Times’s public editor criticizes the paper for stealth-editing a story about Sanders to turn it from positive to negative. Margaret Sullivan:An article by Jennifer Steinhauer, published online, carried the headline ‘Bernie Sanders Scored Victories for Years via Legislative Side Doors.’ It described the way the Vermont senator had managed a significant number of legislative victories in Congress despite the political independence that might have hindered him. The article stayed in essentially that form for several hours online – with some very minor tweaks — but in the late afternoon, Times editors made significant changes to its tone and content, turning it from almost glowing to somewhat disparaging. The later headline read: ‘Via Legislative Side Doors, Bernie Sanders Won Modest Victories.’ … The changes to this story were so substantive that a reader who saw the piece when it first went up might come away with a very different sense of Mr. Sanders’s legislative accomplishments than one who saw it hours later.” (More from Poynter here.)

— ZIGNAL VISUAL: Social media continues to #FeelTheBern, but television is increasingly #ReadyForHillary. Throughout this campaign, our analytics partners at Zignal Labs have seen Sanders grab a disproportionate share of social media traffic, while Clinton receives at least half, if not more, of the television coverage. That trend speaks to the enthusiasm of Sanders supporters and the fact that the typical social media user tends to be younger than the average voter. In the wake of Clinton’s five-state sweep on Tuesday, Zignal has only seen her share of TV coverage grow, while social media continues to show enthusiasm for Sanders. Below is a look at the share of voice for each Democratic candidate on Twitter and on TV for Wednesday and Thursday:

How much is Sanders dominating among young voters? A group that tracks the youth vote, defined as people under 30, says Sanders has won the votes of more than 1.5 million of them. “Clinton is second and Trump trails just behind, but the two front-runners combine for just 1.2 million votes — 300,000 less than Sanders alone. So far, he’s taking 71 percent of the two-candidate vote among young voters,” Aaron Blake reports.

But young people, of course, do not vote at the same rates as older folks, who love Hillary. And her margin has been just as big, if not bigger, among African Americans. This is the scene at HRC’s HQ in Brooklyn:


— “Democrats plan push to force hearings on Supreme Court nomination,” by Mike DeBonis and Juliet Eilperin: “At the White House, Obama held a conference call Thursday with thousands of supporters across the country while senior adviser Valerie Jarrett met on Capitol Hill with members of the Congressional Black Caucus. The president’s mobilization call was organized by the Constitutional Responsibility Project, a nonprofit group formed by several former top Obama staffer. The group includes Stephanie Cutter, Julianna Smoot, Anita Dunn and Amy Brundage.”

“The new tax-exempt organization, which is aimed at providing a platform for hundreds of groups to share information, has planned a series of events over the congressional recess, including a MoveOn Day of Action on Monday, with more than 50 grass-roots events outside senators’ offices, and a robust social-media campaign. In Ohio, teachers will aim to put pressure on Sen. Rob Portman (R) with ‘Do Your Job Learn-ins’ in Cleveland, Cincinnati and Lima. In Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, nurses, firefighters and union members will call on Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R) to meet with Garland and hold a hearing on his nomination.’”

“You’re going to be surprised at how hard we’re going to work to make sure this is on the front pages of all the papers,” Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) told reporters after meeting with Garland.

— “Several additional Republican senators said that they would grant Garland a courtesy meeting when the Senate returns after a two-week recess that begins Friday. In every case, however, they insisted that such a meeting would not change their position on hearings for Garland. ‘I’ll meet with the guy, but trust me: We’re not going to let the Supreme Court flip,’ said Sen. Ron Johnson (Wis.). ‘And this nominee obviously would flip the court, particularly on an issue that is pretty important in Wisconsin — the right to keep and bear arms.’ Two other GOP senators, Bill Cassidy (La.) and Mike Rounds (S.D.),also said they would be open to a courtesy meeting but would not change their minds on the election-year blockade of the nominee.”

— “Where the Senate itself would typically take the lead role in vetting a Supreme Court nominee, there are no plans this time for the Judiciary Committee to hire its usual complement of additional staffers to conduct such checks. Beth Levine, a spokeswoman for the panel’s Republicans, confirmed that there are no plans to hire additional investigators for a Garland probe. America Rising Squared, a GOP-aligned opposition research organization, had been working with the Judicial Crisis Network and the Republican National Committee to investigate potential nominees. Brian Rogers, the firm’s executive director, said that he now had about a dozen researchers digging into Garland’s background; some will be deployed across the country to vet the judge.”

— There is another possible endgame to the scenario I laid out in yesterday’s 202. Many liberal activists who feel like Garland is too squishy think they could pressure POTUS to withdraw Garland if Clinton wins, so that she could appoint someone more liberal. “Waiting until a lame duck session to decide whether to act is a high risk strategy, as Obama could always withdraw the nomination, giving a President Clinton the opportunity to swing for the fences,” Jonathan Adler, a libertarian-leaning law professor at Case Western Reserve University, told Greg Sargent.

— Could Obama withdraw Garland’s nomination during the lame-duck? Yes. Would he? No way. As I wrote yesterday, Obama picked Garland partially because he thinks he could get confirmed during a lame duck. In the final weeks of his presidency, he’s not going to cave to liberal interest groups. And he’ll be thinking about his own legacy, not Hillary’s.

— Would Senate Republicans try to confirm Garland in the lame-duck session? Orrin Hatch floated this scenario yesterday morning, but Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn said that will not happen. “I know there have been some members of the press who asked about well, if not now, how about in a lame-duck session of the Congress,” Cornyn (#2 in leadership) said on the floor. “I think that is a terrible idea.” The Hill quotes “a lawmaker close to McConnell” saying it would be “insincere” for Republicans to turn around in the lame duck and consider Garland after refusing for months to even hold a hearing. (That, of course, does not mean they won’t do it…if they think it would pass muster with the base and avert a more liberal nominee…)


— “Syria shows that Russia built an effective military. Now how will Putin use it?” By Andrew Roth in Moscow: “As Russia turned the Syrian conflict into an exhibition ground for its newly robust military over the past six months, its neighbors were watching with rapt interest. This was a sterling opportunity to assess Russia’s new battlefield capabilities, in the form of ship-based cruise missiles, improved logistics and elite units … No one expects Russia and NATO to engage in conventional war anytime soon. But with limited, consequential interventions in two conflicts, Ukraine and Syria, in the past two years, President Vladimir Putin had shown the Russian military’s growing proficiency as well as his appetite to use force to achieve his greater geopolitical goals.”

— “Donations from ‘Hardball’ guests to Matthews’s campaign in Md. draw criticism,” by Bill Turque in Montgomery County: “Opponents of Maryland congressional candidate Kathleen Matthews are questioning campaign donations she’s received from guests on ‘Hardball,’ the MSNBC talk show hosted by her husband, Chris Matthews, [after a report from the Intercept said] nearly $80,000 in donations to Matthews came from 48 frequent ‘Hardball’ guests, their spouses or PACs. The report, based on FEC reports and program transcripts, questioned the timing of the donations and Matthews’s failure to disclose them on his show. The contributions cited by the Intercept include Sens. Gillibrand, McCaskill, Boxer, former senator Daschle, and former congressman Frost … [Some came] shortly before or shortly after ‘Hardball’ appearances. A $10,000 contribution from Gillibrand’s PAC came two days before she was a guest. An analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics called Kathleen Matthews ‘the pick of the Democratic establishment,’ and a study of her contributions through the end of last year found that nearly three-quarters of the money comes from outside Maryland.”

— “This officer accidentally shot and killed his best friend and partner 27 years ago. What he did next was remarkable,” by Terrence McCoy: “On Sunday, a phone call brought police officer Gary Sommers back to the worst moment in his life. An old law enforcement pal called Sommers to share a detail [about a Prince George’s County officer who was fatally shot]: The officer, Jacai Colson, had been shot by another cop … Sommers didn’t know Colson. And he didn’t know the officer who mistook Colson for a suspect and shot him. But he did know what that officer was going through. Twenty-seven years ago, on a drug raid conducted by an elite special operations team within the department, Sommers had fatally shot his best friend, a fellow squad member named Mark Murphy. In days afterward, one of the few people who could reach Sommers, locked away in private torment, was another officer who had also accidentally killed another cop. And now Sommers was being asked to do the same thing. Just tell me where and when, he said.”


    — EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy pushed back against claims that her agency is responsible for Flint’s water crisis. From Lenny Bernstein: Testifying before Congress, she conceded that her staff was “less forceful than it should have been” when they told a recalcitrant state bureaucracy to act. “Despite learning last June that three homes had lead-tainted water and expressing her concern over the situation in a September email to top staffers, McCarthy did not use her emergency powers until late January … But she stood up to often-furious questioning and asserted that her agency had done all it could to protect Flint’s 95,000 residents. She refused several times to accept blame for the catastrophe and laid responsibility on Gov. Rick Snyder. State officials ‘slow-walked everything they needed to do. That precluded us from doing what we had to do,’ she told the House Oversight committee. ‘We were strong-armed. We were misled. We were kept at arm’s length. We couldn’t do our jobs effectively.’”

    — Snyder acknowledged earlier discussions about concerns with the odor and color of Flint water, but he maintained he did not know about elevated lead levels until shortly before he announced an action plan last October. He insisted that he did not learn about an outbreak of deadly Legionnaires’ disease until January. “This is a tragedy that never should have happened,” Snyder said. “I kick myself everyday asking what more questions could I have asked and what we should have done.” Snyder said his mistake was trusting “career bureaucrats,” he called them, and “so-called experts” who misinformed him the city was safe. (Detroit News)

    Watch Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) tell McCarthy she should be impeached:


    Trump posted this on Instagram:

    Who should star in a reboot of Liar Liar- Hillary Clinton or Ted Cruz? Let me know.

    A photo posted by Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on Mar 17, 2016 at 11:30am PDT

    Then Cruz got him back:

    Don’t take a chance on this new release coming to ballot boxes in November 2016… #ChooseCruz

    A photo posted by Ted Cruz (@cruzforpresident) on Mar 17, 2016 at 1:22pm PDT

    Members of Congress celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with pictures of babies:

    The sweetest little leprechaun I ever did see, my granddaughter Elsie! Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone!

    A photo posted by U.S. Congressman Rick Allen (@reprickallen) on Mar 17, 2016 at 8:40am PDT

    When Irish eyes are smiling – happy #StPatricksDay!

    A photo posted by Rep. Joe Kennedy (MA-4) (@repkennedy) on Mar 17, 2016 at 11:30am PDT

    For Sean Spicer, it’s all about the wardrobe:

    These only come out once a year #happystpatricksday

    A photo posted by Sean Spicer (@seanmspicer) on Mar 17, 2016 at 10:04am PDT

    Lots of jokes about Graham endorsing Cruz:

    Josh Marshall poked fun at Rubio:

    Another great shot of Obama and Justin Trudeau with a baby from last week:

    Talk about a contrast with WMATA: Over on the West Coast, the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system got real with critics on Twitter after the system suffered problems earlier this week:

    “Hillary won the Confederacy,” Progressive Democrats of America apparently wrote to supporters:

    Alan Grayson repudiated it:

    The Onion made fun of Mitch McConnell:

    Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda tweeted this shot from earlier in the week (watch Miranda’s freestyle with Obama here):

    January Jones posted a picture with Obama:


    A photo posted by January Jones (@januaryjones) on Mar 16, 2016 at 11:32pm PDT

    Here’s what Bette Midler thinks of the presidential primaries:

    Lisa Murkowski met with Alex Ovechkin:

    Ryan showed off his March Madness bracket (click for video):

    Kansan Lynn Jenkins was skeptical of Ryan’s faith in Oklahoma:

    Democratic lawmakers cheered SeaWorld’s decision to stop breeding killer whales:


    — USA Today, “Lead taints drinking water in hundreds of schools, day cares across USA,” by Laura Ungar: “Whenever Jamison Rich got thirsty, he drank from his elementary school’s water fountain. Only last month did family learn the fountain water contained high lead levels, that can silently damage brains and slow growth … Jamison’s school is one of hundreds nationwide where children were exposed to water containing excessive amounts of [lead]. An analysis of U.S. EPA data showed about 350 schools and day-care centers failed lead tests a total of about 470 times [in three years]. That’s 20% of water systems nationally testing above the agency’s ‘action level’ of 15 parts per billion. Water at a Maine school was 41 times higher, while a Pennsylvania preschool was 14 times higher. And one sink had 5,000 ppb of lead, the cutoff where the EPA labels a substance ‘hazardous waste.’ ‘It’s scary … Nobody expects to have this in schools,’ said Jamison’s mom. ‘Who knows how big the problem is?’ …  Researchers say it could be very, very big.”

    — Bloomberg, “Hillary Clinton’s Sisterhood of Comedy,” by Will Leitch: “Clinton will never be confused with a natural performer. But she does have one advantage: she is likely to become the first female presidential nominee, and is running at a time when women rule comedy. It shouldn’t be surprising that they are on her side. On Wednesday, Clinton made a ‘Broad City,’ cameo, [a show that] WSJ called ‘sneak-attack feminism.’ Her scene requires very little heavy lifting … Clinton can be herself, the professionals do the rest, and the show culminates in a legitimately funny bit that gives Clinton a sweet-with-women punctuation mark. That these extremely talented women have their own critically acclaimed comedy show has nothing to do with Clinton, but it didn’t exist 10 years ago, and that benefits her now … Clinton will never be a comedic dynamo. But she doesn’t have to be: there’s never been a better time to have the brightest minds in comedy all on your side.”


    On the campaign trail:

    • Clinton: Litchfield County, Conn.; North Garden, Va.
    • Sanders: Tucson, Ariz.; Idaho Falls, Idaho
    • Cruz: Phoenix
    • Kasich: Orem, Salt Lake City, Kaysville, Utah

    At the White House: President Obama has no public events scheduled.

    On Capitol Hill: The Senate and House are not in session.

    Here at The Post: On March 30, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius will interview Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work at Securing Tomorrow, a new live event series that will examine defense, intelligence and national security to better understand what’s at stake for the world in 2016 and beyond. Click here for more info.


    Prepare for a weather roller coaster: “Today’s our warmest day of the next few as our temperatures start crashing back to earth tonight into tomorrow. A messy storm is possible this weekend as even chillier air surges into our region. We may not get back into the seasonable 50s until Tuesday of next week. Hope you didn’t put away all the winter gear?” (Capital Weather Gang)

    • FRIDAY: Highs in the low-to-mid 60s – enjoy it while you can.
    • SATURDAY: Mostly cloudy. PM showers? Highs: Mid-to-upper 40s.
    • SUNDAY:Snow or snow/rain, tapering late. Highs: Mid-30s to near 40.

    — This could REALLY affect cherry blossoms, unfortunately: Michael Stachowicz of the National Park Service is concerned about bud damage by early next week.”They’re pretty hardy until they get to the peduncle elongation stage, which is what we’re heading into this weekend,” he said. If that happens, it’d could be bad news for the blooms, which are at their most vulnerable.

    — D.C. police are investigating a report that a female student was RAPED by a male student on the campus of SIDWELL FRIENDS private school. (Peter Hermann and Clarence Williams)

    — D.C. Council members voiced sharp concerns about Mayor Muriel E. Bowser’s proposal to create shelters for homeless families. While council members acknowledged the need to close the District’s “megashelter,” they raised concerns about the “eye popping” costs for Bowser’s proposal and the degree to which her major donors profit from it. (Fenit Nirappil)

    A Virginia Tech professor put D.C. water officials on the defensive in a congressional hearing, after saying its lead problems in the early 2000s were “20 to 30 times worse” than what occurred in Flint. The District’s water utility, however, was quick to point out that the District is a much larger city than Flint, and the elevated levels of lead in the city’s tap water occurred over several years vs. about 18 months in Flint. (Katherine Shaver and Dana Hedgpeth)

    — The Maryland Senate voted to remove references to the Confederacy from its official state song, replacing the controversial portions of the historic anthem with a poem verse that “describes the state’s natural beauty.” (Ovetta Wiggins)

    — The Wizards beat the Philadelphia 76ers 99-94.

    — Baby bald eagles are beginning to hatch at the U.S. National Arboretum and you can watch it live here.

    Watch a live bald eagle hatching here:


    Fans of Kid President, rejoice — he’s back:

    PrioritiesUSA made its first ad about Trump:

    It spoofed this Trump Instagram video about Clinton:

    Is this what we want for a President?

    A video posted by Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on Mar 16, 2016 at 9:15am PDT

    Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) cut a new ad for Sanders in Spanish ahead of Tuesday’s primary in his state:

    Sen. Mike Lee recorded an ad for Cruz that is now running in Utah:

    Cruz also released a new Arizona ad called “Grant,” about a 21-year-old Arizona man who was killed last year by an illegal immigrant. The boy’s father appears in the ad, calling his son’s death “completely preventable.” “I trust Ted Cruz,” he says, “It’s time we put somebody in office who puts the American people first.”

    Here’s another new ad for Kasich:

    Here’s a pro-Cruz ad from Trusted Leadership PAC:

    Ryan said “knock it off” when it comes to presidential speculation:

The Daily 202: A deep dive into an angry, and divided, America – Washington Post