Power Briefing: Inside McCarthy’s first House super PAC fundraiser

 In Politics

BEHIND THE SCENES …. HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CALIF.) headlined his first CONGRESSIONAL LEADERSHIP FUND event this morning at Fiola, the Italian restaurant in Penn Quarter. CLF, as many of you know, is the main House GOP super PAC. WAYS AND MEANS CHAIRMAN KEVIN BRADY (R-TEXAS) also attended the event.

A SOURCE PASSED ALONG THE DETAILS in a presentation by Corry Bliss, who runs CLF and the American Action Network, almost all of which have not been revealed before:

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— CLF has raised $71.4 MILLION,compared to $2 million this time last cycle. Together with the THE AMERICAN ACTION NETWORK, the pair of outside groups has raised $117.8 MILLION, compared to $16.7 million this time last cycle. This fundraising haul represents an unimaginable warchest for the super PAC.

— INTERNAL CLF POLLING: CLF polled 23 Republican-held districts Hillary Clinton won, and the 25 Republican-held districts she lost but received at least 44% of the vote. In December, the generic ballot was D+11, but now it is a mere D+3. That represents a significant tightening.

— MORE PEOPLE THINK THE COUNTRY IS ON THE RIGHT TRACK: In December, just 31% of people thought the country was on the right track. That’s up to 39% now. That’s still not great.

MCCARTHY being brought into the big-donor CLF fold is an important step in his quest to becoming the top GOP leader.

PRESIDENT TRUMP at the 37th Annual National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service at the U.S. Capitol: “We believe that criminals who kill our police should get the death penalty. Bring it forth.”

THE PRESIDENT will be in the Capitol this afternoon for the Senate GOP lunch. We are told that nominations will come up, as will midterm messaging and immigration. (Immigration might be headed the Senate’s way, considering the House is close to closing out a discharge petition on the subject). We also imagine the president might bring up government funding and his desire for a border wall. You have to imagine that the president’s aide’s remarks about Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) might come up.

Good Tuesday afternoon. It’s another big primary night tonight. Follow along with POLITICO as voters head to the polls in Pennsylvania (https://politi.co/2L0Ux93), Idaho (https://politi.co/2rIsDX8), Nebraska (https://politi.co/2L5Hh2C) and Oregon (https://politi.co/2L0VsGk). Plus, our election team will host a live chat once we get closer to poll closing times (https://politi.co/2L3EO8X), so tune in if you have any questions.

NOW YOU TELL US! … CNN’S MANU RAJU and JEREMY HERB: “Haspel says CIA should not have conducted interrogation program”: “Gina Haspel, President Donald Trump’s pick to be the next CIA director, says in a new letter that the CIA should not have conducted then-President George W. Bush’s interrogation and detention program where waterboarding and other brutal interrogation tactics were used on detainees.

“In the letter to Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Haspel takes a position she wasn’t willing to state publicly last week, writing that the interrogation program ‘is not one the CIA should have undertaken.’

“‘While I won’t condemn those that made these hard calls, and I have noted the valuable intelligence collected, the program ultimately did damage to our officers and our standing in the world,’ Haspel wrote in the letter, which was obtained by CNN. ‘With the benefit of hindsight and my experience as a senior agency leader, the enhanced interrogation program is not one the CIA should have undertaken.’” https://cnn.it/2IntYJkThe letter https://cnn.it/2ILtdgN

UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT — @nahaltoosi: “SecState Mike Pompeo (@SecPompeo) just announced that he’s lifting the State Department’s hiring freeze. So bureaus can start hiring again at ‘current funding levels.’ … To be clear, the ‘current funding levels’ are much higher than what Trump proposed, thanks to Congress. Pompeo, in an email, says ‘The Department’s workforce is our most valuable asset.’ …

“He adds: ‘We need our men and women on the ground, executing American diplomacy with great vigor and energy, and representing our great nation.’ … Pompeo is holding his first town hall tomorrow at 10 a.m. So this gives staffers a big morale boost going into that.”

****** A message from Delta Air Lines: At Delta, we’re committed to donating 1% of our net profits to charitable organizations around the world. Delta contributed over $40 million to charities and nonprofits in 2017, and we look forward to continuing our support for years to come. For more information about Delta, visit www.delta.com. ******

ON THE PRESIDENT’S MIND — @realDonaldTrump at 8:26 a.m.: “Our great First Lady is doing really well. Will be leaving hospital in 2 or 3 days. Thank you for so much love and support!” … at 8:35 a.m.: “Trade negotiations are continuing with China. They have been making hundreds of billions of dollars a year from the U.S., for many years. Stay tuned!” …

… at 10:08 a.m.: “Can you believe that with all of the made up, unsourced stories I get from the Fake News Media, together with the $10,000,000 Russian Witch Hunt (there is no Collusion), I now have my best Poll Numbers in a year. Much of the Media may be corrupt, but the People truly get it!”

SOFT LANDING — “Embattled ex-congressman Blake Farenthold finds safe harbor at the Port of Port Lavaca,” by the Corpus Christi Caller-Times’ Chris Ramirez: “‘I’m starting a new job today that has an hour-and-a-half commute,’ [former Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas)] said on 1360 KKTX-AM’s ‘Lago in the Morning’ talk show. ‘You’re gonna have me listening and calling in a whole lot now.’

“His annual salary will be $160,000.10, just below the $174,000 he earned in Congress. In a statement, the port said Farenthold would be its full-time legislative liaison and will be tasked with promoting the port’s agenda. That’s a challenge in a Gulf of Mexico region where the race is on among ports of call to expand to meet a growing global energy market.” http://bit.ly/2GhOqcH

ON THE WORLD STAGE — WaPo’s JOSH ROGIN: “After top Trump officials went to Beijing last month, the Chinese government wrote up a document with a list of economic and trade demands that ranged from the reasonable to the ridiculous. On Sunday, President Trump caved to one of those demands before the next round of negotiations even starts, undermining his own objectives for no visible gain.

“The Chinese proposal is entitled, ‘Framework Arrangement on Promoting Balanced Development on Bilateral Trade,’ and I obtained an English version of the document, which is the Chinese government’s negotiating position heading into the next round of talks. That round begins this week when Xi Jinping’s special economic envoy Liu He returns to town.

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