-- Bernie Sanders won yesterday’s Democratic primary in Oregon by 8 points, and Hillary Clinton has declared victory in Kentucky. The AP says the Bluegrass State remains too close to call. The front-runner leads by about 2,000 votes out of half a million cast, less than one half of one percent. Asked whether Sanders would consider seeking a recount, spokesman Michael Briggs emails that they’ll “take a closer look at the numbers … and make a decision” later today. A Clinton victory would end Sanders’s mini-winning streak.
-- Sanders pulled no punches as he celebrated the returns in California last night. He blamed his losses on closed primaries and called on the Democratic Party to "open the doors” and “let the people in.”
-- The comments came at the end of a long day, during which Nevada’s Democratic Party filed a formal complaint accusing Sanders of inciting “actual violence” among his supporters at last weekend’s state convention. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid called the convention fracas a "test of leadership.” Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz told CNN that Sanders's response to the chaos has been "anything but acceptable."
The Vermonter dismissed the claims as “nonsense,” detailing grievances about how Nevada and other states have handled their delegate selection processes. “At that convention, the Democratic leadership used its power to prevent a fair and transparent process from taking place,” Sanders said, casting the episode as just the latest episode of the national party trying to silence the grassroots.
-- There are growing fears that the July convention in Philadelphia could be chaotic, perhaps even violent.
-- Sanders is quickly becoming a figure every bit as divisive and polarizing among Senate Democrats as Ted Cruz is in the eyes of his Republican colleagues. He may not have forced a government shutdown, but his obstinacy may yet imperil HRC. His defiance is burning bridges, which will make it harder for him to be an effective member of the Senate going forward.
The New Republic’s Dana Houle: “It is Sanders’s prerogative to remain in the race. But exercising that prerogative makes it easier for mega-wealthy conservatives to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to lethally bludgeon both Clinton’s candidacy and the progressive agenda to which Sanders has devoted his career. This is not solely about combating the grave threat of a Trump presidency. It is also about the potential of a Democratic landslide and the progressive achievements that could follow, which is an opportunity too rare and precious to squander … The best way for Sanders to advance the progressive cause is to end his campaign and unabashedly ask his supporters to join him in helping to elect Clinton.”
Talking Points Memo’s Josh Marshall: “Sanders is telling his supporters that he can still win, which he can't. He's suggesting that the win is being stolen by a corrupt establishment, an impression which will be validated when his phony prediction turns out not to be true. Lying like this sets you up for stuff like happened over the weekend in Nevada.”
Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum: “Before this campaign, [Sanders] was a gadfly, he was a critic of the system, and he was a man of strong principles. He still is, but he's also obviously very, very bitter … By all objective measures he did way better than anyone expected and had far more influence than anyone thought he would, and he should feel good about that. Instead, he seems more angry and resentful with every passing day.”
The Atlantic’s Clare Foran: “As the Sanders campaign presses forward, it must carefully consider whether the senator’s ambition for a political revolution is a goal best achieved by actively stoking the anger of his supporters—and, in a sense, encouraging them to tear it all down.”
Vox’s Jeff Stein: “Sanders needed to win Kentucky to maintain an increasingly far-fetched path to the Democratic nomination. The fact that he lost — albeit by what appears to have been a very small margin — will only dramatically increase the calls for him to exit the race.”
-- A number of top Sanders staffers have left the campaign in recent days, including his director of technology and three out of four members of his original California leadership team, Politico reports. The new departures come just a few weeks after Sanders let hundreds of field staffers go in an effort to slash costs.
-- A Sanders superdelegate flipped his allegiance to Clinton, per Bloomberg. Emmett Hansen II, Democratic National Committeeman for the U.S. Virgin Islands, shifted his support. “There are no more windmills to joust against and no more mountains to climb,” he said.
-- The mainstream coverage is overwhelmingly negative. “He lost," writes Jon Ralston, the dean of the Nevada press corps. "And the reaction to the vanquishing was akin to the petulant mewling of a baby who had been pampered until the moment he first was told no, wailing with no purpose other than to be loud. And just like an infant, the Sanders folks wanted it to be all about them … I seriously doubt he can put out the fire he has set.”
“Sanders doesn't seem very interested just now in preserving goodwill he's built up within Democratic Party after losing nomination," writes The New York Times’s John Harwood.
“Clinton is now 96 percent of the way to reaching the 2,383 delegates needed for the Dem nomination. 94 delegates short," notes the AP's Ken Thomas.
-- The Obama administration will today announce a new rule making millions of middle-income workers eligible for overtime pay. Under the new regulations, full-time salaried employees would be eligible for overtime if they make up to $47,476 a year -- more than doubling the current threshold of $23,660 a year. The Labor Department estimates that the rule would boost incomes for 4.2 million additional workers, upping the percentage of eligible employees from 7 percent to 35 percent. “The move caps a long-running effort by the Obama administration to aid low- and middle-income workers whose paychecks have not budged much in the last few decades, even as the top earners in America have seen their compensation soar. The last update to the rules came in 2004, and Wednesday’s announcement is the third update to the salary threshold for overtime regulations in 40 years," Jonnelle Marte reports.
-- About 200 families are missing in Sri Lanka after a massive landslide buried homes in three neighborhoods. From the AP: “Sixteen bodies have already been recovered and about 180 people have been rescued from the enormous piles of mud."
-- Former Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer won the Republican nomination to replace retiring Rep. Ed Whitfield. His victory comes just one year after losing the gubernatorial primary by 83 votes, and he'll face only token opposition in the fall. (WKYT)
-- Lexington Mayor Jim Gray won the Democratic Senate primary in Kentucky, setting up what could be a competitive race against Sen. Rand Paul. (The Courier-Journal)
-- Hillary released her personal financial disclosure statement last night, showing that she made at least $6.4 million in 2015 for book royalties and paid speeches. (Abby Phillip)
Trump boasted that his annual personal financial disclosure form is “the largest in the history of the FEC.” He claims that his net worth has increased since his last disclosure was filed in July and that his annual income is more than $557 million, not including dividends, interest, capital gains, rents and royalties. The campaign did not actually release a copy of the 104-page disclosure, and the FEC has yet to make it public. (Jenna Johnson)
Context: PFD reports can be maddeningly opaque. Bloomberg last year noted the general unhelpfulness of these statements – which are much less revealing than tax returns, which Trump continues to refuse to release.
If you read one thing --> “Former Mafia-linked figure describes association with Trump,” by Rosalind S. Helderman and Tom Hamburger: “On the 24th floor of Trump Tower, in an office two floors below Trump, Felix Sater was trying to revive his career. The Russian-born businessman had already done a stint in prison for stabbing a man in the face with the stem of a margarita glass, and he was now awaiting sentencing for his role in a Mafia-orchestrated stock fraud scheme -- all the while serving as a government informant on the mob and mysterious matters of national security. But Sater and his business partners had an idea: They would build Trump towers in U.S. cities and across the former Soviet bloc. Sater pitched it to Trump, who gave Sater’s company rights to explore projects in Moscow as well as in Florida and New York. Sater’s ‘Trump card,’ as he called it, didn’t work everywhere. The Moscow deal fell apart. But their relationship continued — though just how close they were is now in dispute.”
-- Trump defended his bombastic style during a highly-anticipated television special with Megyn Kelly, saying he would never have been successful in the Republican primaries if he acted presidential. “I could have maybe used different language in a couple of instances,” he conceded when asked if he had any regrets. “But overall, I'd have to be very happy with the outcome. And I think if I didn't conduct myself in the way I've done it, I don't think I would have been successful.”
-- The Fix's Callum Borchers says The Donald's effort to make nice with Kelly is just an act: “The only thing that seems to have changed is the political calculus. Before, shredding Kelly burnished Trump's reputation as a take-no-guff tough guy; now, making amends enhances his image as a unifier who can win the general election. It's clear from his response to Kelly's question about regrets that Trump won't hesitate to attack again in the future if he believes more insults will work to his advantage: ‘This could happen again with us,’ Trump said at one point, referring to the possibility of another feud. With Kelly — and everyone else — Trump seems capable of being anything he needs to be in the moment. Anything but genuinely sorry.”
-- In all the coverage of the Trump-Kelly détente, a more important development has been overlooked: Trump has made peace with Kelly’s boss Rupert Murdoch. "Murdoch’s embrace of Trump is a sharp reversal from the hostile view he held over much of the past year," writes New York Magazine's Gabriel Sherman. “In fact … it was [reportedly] Murdoch himself who directed Kelly to hammer Trump during the debut GOP debate, in Cleveland, that sparked the feud in the first place. ‘Rupert told her to do that,’ a source."
-- Television critics widely panned last night's Fox special. The Post’s Hank Stuever calls it “awkward and unimpressive”: “‘Let’s just dive right in,’ she said, and then proceeded to never dive into much of anything, even during her ultra-hyped interview … Neither groundbreaking nor especially informative, ‘Megyn Kelly Presents’ hoped to fill the void left behind by decades of similar newsmaker-interview shows from ABC’s Barbara Walters. Perhaps someday it might, but to get there, Kelly is going to have to learn about listening, and, wherever possible, resist the urge to bring attention to herself. But I don’t think that’s really her thing."
-- Trump can ask donors to give nearly $500,000 in support of his White House bid and down-ballot Republicans, thanks to a new fundraising agreement with the RNC. From Matea Gold: “The Trump Victory Fund -- a joint committee between the Trump campaign, the RNC and 11 state parties -- will solicit larger checks than have ever been sought by presidential nominees through such ventures, thanks to legal changes made in 2014 that expanded the fundraising abilities of national parties.” The joint effort follows a similar fundraising venture set up by Clinton and the DNC last year, allowing donors to give up to $356,100 annually. The presumptive Republican nominee also plans to raise funds through the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, a joint fundraising committee set up just between his campaign and the RNC."
-- The Trump campaign has identified roughly 15 states where it plans to install state directors by the end of the month, the AP reports. "They include traditional battlegrounds like Ohio, Florida and Virginia and more challenging terrain such as Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Maine — places Republican have lost for the last six presidential elections or longer. Target states also will likely include Republican-leaning Georgia, where demographic shifts benefit Democrats.”
-- Trump said he would be “willing to talk” with Kim Jong Un to try to stop North Korea’s nuclear program, proposing a major shift in U.S. policy toward the isolated nation. In an interview with Reuters, Trump also called for a renegotiation of the Paris climate accord, said he disapproved of Russian President Vladimir Putin's actions in eastern Ukraine, and said he would seek to dismantle most Dodd-Frank financial regulations.
-- Trump said he is sending a videotaped message to be played during a conference of the nation's largest Hispanic evangelical group. But there's no guarantee that the greeting will be aired. Officials say they are reviewing the video and will only share it if the message is conciliatory and respectful to the immigrant community. (Ed O'Keefe)
-- Jeb Bush laced into Trump over his taco salad tweet: "First, not all Hispanics are Mexican,” he told a Dutch newspaper ahead of a speech in Amsterdam. “Second, not all Hispanics eat tacos. Third, showing your sensitivity by eating an American dish is the most insensitive thing you can do. Fourth, to say this, next to all things he already said, is a further insult. … It's like eating a watermelon and saying, 'I love African-Americans.’ … If we lose in November, we Republicans have ourselves to blame."
-- “The blind attorney who drove himself into bankruptcy defending accused terrorists,” by Terrence McCoy: “Day and night, the most feared people in America contact Ashraf Nubani. In the past 15 years, Nubani, a Springfield, Va., lawyer, has represented either in the media or legally at least 21 people accused of terrorist ties. He defended Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law. He defended a 23-year-old man accused of plotting to assassinate then-President George W. Bush. He defended another man said to be a Hamas operative. One of the unexpected byproducts of the war on terrorism has been the emergence of a small fraternity of lawyers who have a specialty in defending suspected terrorists." Following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, investigators turned their attention to [Washington suburbs] … where seven of the 19 al-Qaeda hijackers spent time before the attacks. This has since precipitated more than 500 terrorism-related prosecutions … and a need for lawyers who know how to defend clients embroiled in them. One is Nubani, a controversial lawyer who makes no bones about the fact that he isn’t a criminal lawyer by training — a matter some clients now say harmed their cases.”
-- Correction: Yesterday’s Zignal section misidentified Azealia Banks. She is a rapper from New York and not engaged.
On the campaign trail: Clinton and Trump are off the trail. Sanders is in San Jose and Vallejo, Calif.
At the White House: President Obama participates in a DNC fundraiser. Vice President Biden speaks about the economy in Columbus, Ohio, and returns to Washington, D.C.
On Capitol Hill: The Senate meets at 9:30 a.m. to consider the THUD/Milcon-VA appropriations bill.
-- “Some day we’ll look back on this and laugh, or cry, or who knows,” the Capital Weather Gang forecasts. “Let’s keep the bad news as brief as possible: We’ve got mostly cloudy skies, perhaps a bit brighter than yesterday, along with patchy drizzle and some spotty showers. The clouds and a light wind from the northeast put a damper on temperatures once again, limiting highs to the upper 50s to low 60s.”
-- U.S. Capitol Police detained a man after he drove his pickup truck onto the National Mall, claiming he had been exposed to anthrax and carrying a bucket filled with an unknown substance. The driver said he had seen the substance he was carrying spread on a field at a farm in rural Virginia and said he had collected the substance to warn others. The man was swabbed for anthrax, but the tests were negative. (Justin Wm. Moyer)
-- George Mason University officially changed the name of its name school to honor Antonin Scalia, following a vote of approval from Virginia’s State Council of Higher Education. (Susan Svrluga)
-- Fairfax County officials took the unusual step of hiring an outside consultant to look into the Fairfax Fire Department, just days after the fire official in charge of professional standards office was put on leave after lewd images and language were posted on his private Facebook page. The investigation comes one month after Fairfax firefighter Nicole Mittendorff hung herself after degrading comments about her, allegedly by co-workers, were posted in an anonymous local online forum. (Patricia Sullivan)
-- The House Oversight committee nullified a ballot measure passed by District voters and declared that D.C. can “never spend local tax dollars” without congressional approval: The decision marked a whole new level of animosity between Republicans on Capitol Hill and D.C.’s mostly Democratic leaders, who have been agitating for statehood and voting representation in Congress. (Aaron C. Davis)