Saturday, March 2

POLITICO Playbook PM: Zelenskyy’s speech to Congress presents test for Biden







Updated


ZELENSKYY TO ADDRESS CONGRESS — Ukrainian President VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY will speak to both chambers of Congress virtually Wednesday morning with an update on the war, Speaker NANCY PELOSI and Senate Majority Leader CHUCK SCHUMER announced in a letter to members this morning.

This will be a major test for the Biden administration. Zelenskyy will no doubt reiterate his requests for Polish MiGs, a no-fly zone, tougher sanctions on Russia and other help that President JOE BIDEN has so far declined. The Ukrainian leader is more popular in the U.S. than most American politicians, including Biden, so there will be enormous pressure on the president. More from Andrew Desiderio and Burgess Everett

— The White House is weighing a trip to Europe for Biden in the coming weeks, to meet with allies about the war in Ukraine, NBC’s Carol Lee, Josh Lederman and Mike Memoli scooped. Details aren’t yet final, but Brussels was floated as a potential destination.

MUST-READ — U.N. Secretary-General ANTÓNIO GUTERRES just delivered some sobering remarks about the scale of the crisis in Ukraine that are worth reading in full. But two excerpts stand out:

“Ukraine is on fire. The country is being decimated before the eyes of the world. The impact on civilians is reaching terrifying proportions. Countless innocent people — including women and children — have been killed. After being hit by Russian forces, roads, airports and schools lie in ruins. According to the World Health Organization, at least 24 health facilities have suffered attacks. Hundreds of thousands of people are without water or electricity. With each passing hour, two things are increasingly clear: First — it keeps getting worse. Second — whatever the outcome, this war will have no winners, only losers.”

He also addressed the possibility of a nuclear catastrophe: “Finally, further escalation of the war, whether by accident or design, threatens all of humanity. Raising the alert of Russian nuclear forces is a bone-chilling development. The prospect of nuclear conflict, once unthinkable, is now back within the realm of possibility.”

UPDATE FROM THE PENTAGON — A senior Defense official briefed reporters earlier today on the status of the Russian invasion. Some highlights …

— The main takeaway: “Almost all of Russia’s advances remain stalled.”

— Some recent moves in eastern Ukraine suggest Russian forces are trying to “block off the Donbas region” so that Ukrainian forces there can’t head west to defend places like Kyiv.

— Russia’s Sunday attack on the Yavoriv military complex, which is 11 miles from the Polish border, was launched from inside Russian airspace by long-range bombers. The Pentagon thinks this is an important point for advocates of a no-fly zone. “A no-fly zone inside Ukraine would have had no effect on this strike,” the senior official said.

— The Yavoriv base was not being used as a transshipment site for Ukrainian security assistance and the strikes, the Pentagon says, “will not affect that effort.”

— The skies over Ukraine are still contested. “Russians have not attained air superiority over all of Ukraine,” the official said. More on the latest Ukraine news below …

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Good Monday afternoon, and happy Pi Day!

CONGRESS

SIREN — Sen. JOE MANCHIN (D-W.Va.) announced he wouldn’t support SARAH BLOOM RASKIN’s Fed nomination over her climate advocacy. Raskin has been held up by a GOP blockade in committee, but Manchin’s opposition could doom her on the floor if the White House can’t secure a GOP senator’s support. “Her previous public statements have failed to satisfactorily address my concerns about the critical importance of financing an all-of-the-above energy policy,” Manchin said.

The White House isn’t giving up, saying that they are working to secure bipartisan support and accusing the oil and gas industry of “an unprecedented, baseless campaign” against Raskin.

POLITICS ROUNDUP

STORY OF THE DAY — The Big Lie comes home in Rome, Ga.: That’s what happens in Stephanie McCrummen’s WaPo chronicle of a local election office getting targeted, and eventually overtaken, by partisan actors in light of DONALD TRUMP’s 2020 election lies. “In Georgia, the effort is playing out through statewide legislation and, more surgically, through a patchwork of new county-specific laws. The measures are targeting rural counties that have long been majority-White, GOP strongholds where the people running elections have often come from Democratic and Black communities, a legacy of the civil rights struggle in the rural South. This status quo is being dismantled, with the common goal being tighter Republican control.”

2024 WATCH — The Democratic super PAC American Bridge is filing an FEC complaint that accuses Trump of breaking the law “by spending political funds on a 2024 presidential bid without formally declaring himself a candidate,” NYT’s Shane Goldmacher reports. Trump has teased his plans to run again while explicitly citing campaign finance laws as a reason for not making it official. But the FEC is unlikely to do anything, as its even partisan breakdown usually leads to deadlocks. A Trump spokesperson told the NYT the complaint had no merit.

THE SAVE-CHENEY DRIVE — BOBBIE and BILL KILBERG’s fundraiser tonight for Rep. LIZ CHENEY’s (R-Wyo.) difficult reelection bid was so inundated with interested co-hosts that they eventually had to move locations and limit the list of co-hosts to 75 people, CNN’s Michael Warren reports in a look at the GOP donors coming out of the woodwork to shore up Cheney. Some are eyeing the next presidential election, but Cheney’s camp says she’s focused squarely on the midterms. Among the big names for tonight’s event: DICK and LYNNE CHENEY, MARY CHENEY and HEATHER POE, MICHAEL CHERTOFF, BARBARA COMSTOCK, MIGUEL ESTRADA, CARLY FIORINA, KERRY HEALEY, SCOOTER LIBBY, DON NICKLES and TED OLSON.

WAR IN UKRAINE

THE LATEST IN EUROPE …

— The day’s talks concluded, to be continued Tuesday, Ukrainian officials said, per the AP.

— Russian bombs hit Kyiv, killing at least two and setting an apartment block on fire.

— By the numbers: The U.N. said today that more than 2.8 million refugees have fled from Ukraine. They also reported 636 Ukrainian civilian deaths (with the true total likely much higher).

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IN THE REST OF THE WORLD …

— The prospect of positive movement on negotiations helped nudge oil prices lower and stocks higher today, per the WSJ.

— Far-right American sites and conservative media figures like TUCKER CARLSON have helped give Russian propaganda about the war a boost after it initially struggled to spread disinformation, NBC’s Ben Collins and Kevin Collier report. “The biolab conspiracy theory has taken over as the prevailing narrative on pro-Trump and QAnon websites like The Great Awakening and Patriots.Win. … [T]he rhetoric on pro-Trump sites, which had largely been anti-Putin in the first days of the war, has shifted because of the biolab conspiracy theory.”

— A group of foreign policy experts calling for a partial no-fly zone over Ukraine, whose letter we reported on last week, has added more names to its roster, including retired Gen. WESLEY CLARK,NATALIE JARESKO and retired Brig. Gen. KEVIN RYAN. Update here“,”link”:{“target”:”NEW”,”attributes”:[],”url”:”https://www.politico.com/f/?id=0000017f-8925-da93-a17f-eb3da0b10000″,”_id”:”0000017f-8ab9-d301-a3ff-8fbfd16f000a”,”_type”:”33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df”},”_id”:”0000017f-8ab9-d301-a3ff-8fbfd16f000b”,”_type”:”02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266″}”>Update here

— No issue has offered Biden so clear a contrast with Trump as the war in Ukraine, whose leader and very defense systems were at the heart of the former president’s first impeachment, Jonathan Lemire writes in a bird’s-eye view of this moment for the White House. “Was Biden’s presidency a return to normalcy for American foreign policy or was he an aberration from the Trump approach?”

JUDICIARY SQUARE

SCOTUS WATCH — USA Today’s John Fritze has a close look at Judge KETANJI BROWN JACKSON’s opinions from the federal bench. His review finds that although Jackson handed the Trump administration some high-profile losses, her full record “paints a more nuanced picture, including a number of instances … in which she sided with the Republican administration and against the same left-leaning groups that now support her confirmation.”

— Jackson’s two years at a Big Law firm, Goodwin Procter in Boston, early in her career are the subject of a new article from Law360. Though Jackson has said it was a difficult experience that left her yearning for better work-life balance, “partners at the firm still remember her as a standout.”

GINNI THOMAS FIRES BACK — After major investigations in The New Yorker and NYT Magazine raised serious conflict-of-interest questions about Justice CLARENCE THOMAS’ wife’s role on Jan. 6, she’s defending herself in a new interview with The Washington Free Beacon’s Kevin Daley. “She did not help organize the White House rally that preceded the riot at the Capitol. She did attend the rally, but got cold and left early,” he writes, among other claims in the reporting that she contests. “And most importantly, in her view, her involvement with the event has no bearing on the work of her husband.”

“If you are going to be true to yourself and your professional calling, you can never be intimidated, chilled, or censored by what the press or others say,” Ginni Thomas says.

THE PANDEMIC

SCHOOL FALLOUT — Many of the smaller, conservative school districts that eschewed the most restrictive public health measures and kept schools open for much of the pandemic are now seeing better results among their students, WaPo’s Perry Stein reports in Monument, Colo. “[T]he experience of systems like Lewis-Palmer offers evidence for those who say schools could have avoided some of the prolonged closures — and the serious academic and social impacts that came from them.”

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AMERICA AND THE WORLD

IRAN DEAL WATCH — Almost the entire Senate GOP Conference — everyone except RAND PAUL (Ky.) — vowed in a letter today to oppose the new Iran nuclear deal that negotiators are trying to get across the finish line, per Reuters. “They pledged to do everything in their power to reverse a an agreement that does not ‘completely block’ Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon, constrain its ballistic missile program and ‘confront Iran’s support for terrorism.’”

CLIMATE FILES — A landmark 2018 climate report helped inspire genuine change and action on climate, likely sanding down the possibility of the most catastrophic outcomes. But there’s been far less attention paid to the major follow-up IPCC report released this month. It’s “a sign that the moment of climate alarm may have passed, giving way to an era defined by two somewhat paradoxical trends,” N.Y. Mag’s David Wallace-Wells reports. “The first is that real, though insufficient, progress is being made, opening up paths to rapid decarbonization. The second development is how quickly even those who had been panicked by warming have begun to normalize its impacts.” The report“,”link”:{“target”:”NEW”,”attributes”:[],”url”:”https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/wg2/”,”_id”:”0000017f-8ab9-d301-a3ff-8fbfd1720006″,”_type”:”33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df”},”_id”:”0000017f-8ab9-d301-a3ff-8fbfd1720007″,”_type”:”02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266″}”>The report

PLAYBOOKERS

SPOTTED: Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg riding the Metro’s Silver Line this morning.

MEDIA MOVES — Sara Yasin will be a managing editor at the L.A. Times. She currently is managing editor of BuzzFeed News. Announcement“,”link”:{“target”:”NEW”,”attributes”:[],”url”:”https://www.latimes.com/about/pressreleases/story/2022-03-14/los-angeles-times-names-sara-yasin-managing-editor”,”_id”:”0000017f-8ab9-d301-a3ff-8fbfd1720008″,”_type”:”33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df”},”_id”:”0000017f-8ab9-d301-a3ff-8fbfd1720009″,”_type”:”02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266″}”>Announcement … Former national security adviser and retired Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster is now a foreign policy and national security contributor for CBS News.

TRANSITIONS — Lauren Bell is now a partner at Munger, Tolles & Olson. She previously was a partner at Boies Schiller Flexner, and is a Justice Department alum. … Ed Mortimer is now VP of government affairs at the GPS company NextNav. He most recently was VP of transportation and infrastructure for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. … Annie Starke is now senior director of federal affairs at the Beer Institute. She previously worked on federal tax policy at Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, and is a House Ways and Means alum. …

… Justin Siraj is now a director at Curley Company. He most recently was events and comms manager at Samsung. … Suzanne DiMaggio will be the next director of the Iran Project, taking over as founding director William Luers becomes chair emeritus. DiMaggio is a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

WEEKEND WEDDINGS — Jason Kaplan, SVP at SKDKnickerbocker and a Chuck Schumer alum, and Julie Doyle, public defender at the Bronx Defenders, got married Saturday at the Greenpoint Loft in Brooklyn. They met in 2014 in Washington. Pic“,”link”:{“target”:”NEW”,”attributes”:[],”url”:”https://twitter.com/jalexkaplan/status/1503077783110619137?s=21″,”_id”:”0000017f-8ab9-d301-a3ff-8fbfd172000a”,”_type”:”33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df”},”_id”:”0000017f-8ab9-d301-a3ff-8fbfd172000b”,”_type”:”02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266″}”>Pic

— Caitlin Blocker, director of outreach for Leadership Connect, and Daniel Harder, director of government affairs and public policy at Biogen, got married Saturday at Kings Family Vineyard in Crozet, Va. They met at Capitol Lounge in 2014. Pic“,”link”:{“target”:”NEW”,”attributes”:[],”url”:”https://static.politico.com/96/ed/88b586cc4c58be9603eb4042daa1/wedding.jpg”,”_id”:”0000017f-8ab9-d301-a3ff-8fbfd172000c”,”_type”:”33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df”},”_id”:”0000017f-8ab9-d301-a3ff-8fbfd172000d”,”_type”:”02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266″}”>Pic Another pic“,”link”:{“target”:”NEW”,”attributes”:[],”url”:”https://static.politico.com/64/f6/c09407af48cf8766898d7d4575cb/wedding2.jpg”,”_id”:”0000017f-8ab9-d301-a3ff-8fbfd172000e”,”_type”:”33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df”},”_id”:”0000017f-8ab9-d301-a3ff-8fbfd172000f”,”_type”:”02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266″}”>Another pic

WELCOME TO THE WORLD — Aaron Bill, legislative director for Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), and Teresa Buckley Bill, a senior director of government affairs at Gilead Sciences, welcomed son Harrison on Feb. 19. He joins big brother Alexander. Pic, via Stephen Reasonover Photography“,”link”:{“target”:”NEW”,”attributes”:[],”url”:”https://static.politico.com/78/25/cd3643e34ad18a3efc48b23176da/baby.jpg”,”_id”:”0000017f-8ab9-d301-a3ff-8fbfd1720010″,”_type”:”33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df”},”_id”:”0000017f-8ab9-d301-a3ff-8fbfd1720011″,”_type”:”02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266″}”>Pic, via Stephen Reasonover Photography



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