Playbook: Biden says ‘I’ve proven myself’ on age worries
With help from Eli Okun and Garrett Ross
DRIVING THE DAY
SPOTTED: VP KAMALA HARRIS and second gentleman DOUG EMHOFF eating dinner at Rasika West End yesterday. Our tipster said the two got applause as they walked out of the dining room.
ACROSS THE POND — “Jill Biden: Charles’ coronation was ‘just amazing to see,’” by AP’s Darlene Superville: “She brought one of her granddaughters, FINNEGAN BIDEN, 23, on the trip. ‘It’s my honor to represent the people of the United States and I wanted to be here,’ JILL BIDEN said.” Pics via Town & Country
EVENING JOE — In his first interview since announcing his reelection campaign, President JOE BIDEN sat down at the White House with MSNBC anchor Stephanie Ruhle for a wide-ranging conversation broadcast during last night’s “The 11th Hour.”
The chat came at a fraught moment for Biden, just days before (1) he meets with top Hill headers on the looming breach of the debt ceiling and (2) the Title 42 asylum rule is rescinded, likely exacerbating the surge of migrants to the southern border. Ruhle also pressed POTUS on his age, on his running mate and on his son HUNTER BIDEN’s possible indictment.
The highlights …
On the debt limit: “Look, not a single solitary Congress has ever reneged on a debt. The debt is not a debt that I accumulated. The debt is not a debt that occurred over the last several years. It’s 200 years of debt. 200 years. And the idea that we wouldn’t pay our debt is just bizarre. It’s estimated that if we didn’t pay the debt, we’d lose 750,000 jobs. We’d have a recession. It would be a disaster.
“The idea someone for the first time is saying, ‘Unless you pass this ridiculous budget I have’ — which is the way I would characterize what the Republican MAGA budget is — ‘Unless you pass this budget, we’re not going to increase the debt limit and we’re going to go bankrupt.’ … No one’s ever tied them together before.”
On Speaker KEVIN McCARTHY: “I think he’s an honest man. I think he’s in the position, well, he had to make a deal … There’s the Republican Party and there’s the MAGA Republicans, and the MAGA Republicans really have put him in a position where in order to stay speaker he has to agree — he’s agreed to things that, maybe he believes, but are just extreme.”
On the border: “We’re in a situation now where those 1,500 [troops] put at the border, they’re not there to enforce the law, they’re there to free up the border agents that need to be on the border. And we’re having another thousand people coming in. There are asylum judges to make judgments, to move things along.
“I’ve asked this Congress for help in terms of what they need at the border. They need more agents. They need more people to clear people. They need more action. … There’s a combination of making sure there’s a system by which it’s orderly and, number two, where employers have access to additional people, particularly farmworkers.”
On Harris: “I just think that Vice President Harris hasn’t gotten the credit she deserves. She was attorney general of the state of California. She has been a United States senator. She is really very, very good. And with everything going on, she hasn’t gotten the attention she deserves.”
On his age: “I have acquired a hell of a lot of wisdom and know more than the vast majority of people. And I’m more experienced than anybody that’s ever run for the office. And I think I’ve proven myself to be honorable as well as also effective.”
On his son’s possible indictment: “First of all, my son has done nothing wrong. I trust him. I have faith in him. It impacts my presidency by making me feel proud of him.”
SPEAKING OF HUNTER — Biden’s faith notwithstanding, the president’s orbit is bracing for an imminent indictment decision and the accompanying political fallout from the announcement, our colleague Jonathan Lemire reports this morning.
Either way it goes, he writes, they are “downplaying the potential impact, arguing Hunter Biden was a factor in the 2020 election and voters elected his father anyway. They point out the president’s top rival, DONALD TRUMP, was just indicted himself.”
No, there’s no Hunter “war room” in the White House, with the administration taking pains to stay at arm’s length. Hunter’s defense is being handled by outside personal attorneys, while the campaign and DNC are taking the lead in publicly responding to the inevitable political attacks. The White House, Jonathan writes, will respond only “if the accusations touch on official government business.”
“But people close to Biden still worry about the personal toll it will take on a father who has already felt anguish about a son’s struggles amid a long history of family tragedy,” he adds. “And they wonder how long he can compartmentalize personal anger with the attacks on Hunter and the political calculation that he’s better off not responding to it.”
Good Saturday morning. Thanks for reading Playbook. Drop us a line: Rachael Bade, Eugene Daniels, Ryan Lizza.
TRUMP ON TAPE — Now for a very different kind of presidential interview: Video of Trump’s October deposition in the civil rape-and-defamation case he’s now standing trial for in NYC was made public yesterday, putting his defiance (and occasional confusion) on full display. Watch the full released video via C-SPAN
In the deposition, parts of which were shown to jurors this week, Trump admits to making the statements that plaintiff E. JEAN CARROLL claims are defamatory and asserts repeatedly that Carroll, who accuses him of sexually assaulting her in a department-store dressing room, is not his “type.”
“I will tell you, I made that statement,” Trump told lawyer ROBERTA KAPLAN in the deposition. “That’s 100% true: She’s not my type.” Then, after Trump confused Carroll for second wife MARLA MAPLES in a photograph of the three of them taken in the 1980s, Kaplan asked him, “I take it the three women you’ve married are all your type?” Said Trump: “Yeah.”
Elsewhere, the pair sparred over the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape …
Kaplan: “It’s true with stars that they can grab women by the pussy?”
Trump: “Well, that’s what, if you look over the last million years I guess that’s been largely true. Not always, but largely true. Unfortunately or fortunately.”
Kaplan: “And you consider yourself to be a star?”
Trump: “I think you can say that. Yeah.”
Kaplan: “And now you said before, a couple of minutes ago, that this was just locker room talk.”
Trump: “It’s locker room talk.”
Kaplan: “And so does that mean that you didn’t really mean it?”
Trump: “No, it’s locker room talk. I don’t know. It’s just the way people talk.”
REAL TALK ON TIKTOK — Presidential hopeful NIKKI HALEY is at Regent University in Virginia Beach this morning giving a commencement speech. It’s a plum invite for any Republican seeking to woo the evangelical vote. We’re told Regent founder PAT ROBERTSON personally invited Haley to speak and that she will follow the speech with a sit-down interview on Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network.
But this is the bit the graduates will probably remember: “I’ve been where you are — waiting to get your degree and get started with the rest of your life,” Haley said, according to prepared remarks. “I also know you’re barely paying attention. I get it. TikTok is much more interesting. But I think you should be aware of something … As president, I’m going to ban TikTok. Oh, now I have your attention.”
BIDEN’S SATURDAY — The president has nothing on his public schedule.
HARRIS’ SATURDAY — The VP has nothing on her public schedule.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
9 THINGS THAT STUCK WITH US
1. THE FEDERAL INVESTIGATIONS: “In Trump Probe, Special Counsel Zooms In on Possible Criminal Charges,” by WSJ’s Aruna Viswanatha, Sadie Gurman and C. Ryan Barber: “The steps prosecutors are taking … suggest [special counsel JACK] SMITH is in the late stages of his inquiry into Mr. Trump’s efforts to remain in power after the 2020 election. … The testimony by some witnesses, often a second or third session and sometimes brief, appears to point to efforts by Mr. Smith’s team to determine whether a crime was committed and decide whether to file charges in the coming months … Earlier this week, DAN SCAVINO, Mr. Trump’s former deputy chief of staff for communications, testified for eight hours.”
2. THE GEORGIA INVESTIGATION: “Eight Georgia GOP electors accept immunity deals in Fulton Trump probe,” by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Tamar Hallerman: “At least eight of the Georgia Republicans who served as ‘alternate’ presidential electors in 2020 have accepted immunity deals with the Fulton County District Attorney’s office in exchange for their testimony, according to the lawyer representing the group. … She accused special prosecutor NATHAN WADE, who is heading up the DA’s criminal investigation of alleged meddling in Georgia’s latest presidential election, with misleading and intimidating her clients during recorded interviews last month after they accepted the immunity deals.”
3. WHO’S AT DEFAULT: “GOP moderates privately panic over debt ceiling deal,” by Axios’ Juliegrace Brufke: “Some House Republicans are fretting about whether they’d be able to pass a watered-down version of their debt ceiling bill once the terms are negotiated with Senate Democrats and the White House. … House moderates say House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and GOP leadership aren’t doing enough to tamp down expectations with the right-wing Freedom Caucus — harming the chances for any compromise bill.”
On the flip side: “McConnell warns he won’t back debt-ceiling increase without ‘substantive’ reforms,” by The Hill’s Jesse Byrnes and Alexander Bolton: “Senate Minority Leader MITCH McCONNELL (R-Ky.) has signed onto a letter stating he and more than 40 members of the Senate GOP conference will not back ‘any bill that raises the debt ceiling without substantive spending and budget reforms.’ … The letter is being led by conservative Sen. MIKE LEE (R-Utah).”
Reality check from WaPo’s Paul Kane: “Lawmakers fear debt ceiling votes, but they don’t seem to matter to voters”
4. DANCE OF THE SUPERPOWERS: “U.S. Prepares to Fast Track $500 Million of Arms for Taiwan,” by Bloomberg’s Peter Martin and Anthony Capaccio: “The package will involve sending existing stockpiles of US weapons or support equipment to Taiwan under what’s known as a Presidential Drawdown Authority … Using a drawdown will let the US sidestep the often-lengthy process of contracting and producing weapons, which has resulted in what lawmakers say is a $19 billion backlog in armaments that have been approved but not yet delivered to Taiwan.”
5. WHAT’S NEXT FOR TUCKER CARLSON: “Tucker Carlson Wants to Return to TV Before 2025. Will Fox Let Him?” by NYT’s Jeremy Peters and Benjamin Mullin: “Carlson is making it clear to people close to him that he would like to be back on the air somewhere soon. But he first needs Fox News to agree to a deal that would allow him to work elsewhere … leaving it unclear whether he will be able to start a new chapter in his media career before his current contract expires in January 2025.”
6. THE DeSANTIS COMEBACK? After a rough several weeks, Florida Gov. RON DeSANTIS is looking to return to the front foot in the presidential campaign — and his entrance into the race will likely take the form of an official launch next month, with no exploratory committee beforehand, ABC’s Will Steakin and Olivia Rubin report. DeSantis is itching to jump in and get more aggressive. In fact, he’s already begun debate prep, though his plan is more to present himself to America than to clash with Trump on the debate stage. And he’s already stepping up his travel with a trip to rural Wisconsin today, as NYT’s Nicholas Nehamas and Alexandra Glorioso preview.
This new phase of DeSantis’ almost-candidacy follows directly on the banner legislative session that Florida Republicans just wrapped up yesterday. DeSantis’ team sees the string of big conservative victories as “rocket fuel” for his campaign, NBC’s Matt Dixon reports, as he’ll be able to tout new laws on everything from abortion to unions to guns to drag to Disney. (For Democrats, it was the “session from hell,” write Gary Fineout, Andrew Atterbury and Arek Sarkissian.)
7. THE PANDEMIC THAT HASN’T ENDED: “Disease experts warn White House of potential for omicron-like wave of illness,” by WaPo’s Dan Diamond: “The White House recently received a sobering warning about the potential for the coronavirus to come roaring back, with experts reaching a consensus that there’s a roughly 20 percent chance during the next two years of an outbreak rivaling the onslaught of illness inflicted by the omicron variant. A forecast from one widely regarded scientist pegged the risk at a more alarming level, suggesting a 40 percent chance.”
8. THE TOLL OF ATTACKING DEMOCRACY: “Arizona official targeted by election deniers now struggles with PTSD,” by WaPo’s Yvonne Wingett Sanchez in Phoenix: “Even today, more than two years after the election, it is not unusual for election workers to take different routes to their homes and offices to avoid being tailed, train in de-escalation techniques and bolster their home security systems. Conferences for election officials now double as group therapy sessions.”
9. PRIDE AFTER THE FALL: “Proud Boys Step Up Activity After Jan. 6 Attack, Despite Criminal Convictions,” by WSJ’s Jan Wolfe: “The Proud Boys organization has proved resilient … even as its legal woes mount. The group’s growth is due to its nonhierarchical power structure, which has allowed it to withstand the jailing of leaders … As the Proud Boys organization has expanded, another right-wing group involved in the Jan. 6 attack has shrunk. The Oath Keepers militia has ‘virtually disappeared,’ one expert says.”
CLICKER — “The nation’s cartoonists on the week in politics,” edited by Matt Wuerker —15 funnies
GREAT WEEKEND READS, curated by Ryan Lizza:
— “Trapped by War, Saved by 2 Students With a Taxi,” by NYT’s Declan Walsh: “As feuding generals turned the Sudanese capital into a war zone, two university students navigated a battered Toyota through the chaos to rescue dozens of desperate people.”
— “93 days: The summer America lost Roe v. Wade,” by The 19th’s Shefali Luthra: “Twelve Americans — patients, doctors, politicians, activists — relived the uncertainty and chaos of losing federal abortion protections. This oral history chronicles their stories.”
— “Is Daily Wire the Future of Right-Wing Entertainment?” by Bloomberg Businessweek’s Devin Leonard: “The clickbaity startup transformed culture war outrage and transphobia into a breakout media business. Now it’s trying to become the anti-Disney.”
— “‘We Were Always Playing An Entirely Different Game’: The Ultimate Oral History Of BuzzFeed News”: “BuzzFeed News has been described as a chaos agent, a pirate ship, a reputable news organization, and, most notably, a ‘failing pile of garbage’ by former president Donald Trump. We wanted to tell our own story — in our own words — about what it was like to be a part of it.”
— “A Trucker’s Kidnapping, a Suspicious Ransom, and a Colorado Family’s Perilous Quest for Justice,” by 5280 Magazine’s Chris Walker: “A community of freelance truckers known as transmigrantes transport used cars and other goods from the United States to Central America. When one of them from Colorado got kidnapped, an international investigation shifted uncomfortably close to home.”
— “What Happens When Dave Chappelle Buys Up Your Town,” by Tyler Kelley in Bloomberg Businessweek: “As Chappelle’s comedy made him a controversial figure nationally, some of his Ohio neighbors have been getting mad, too.”
— “Club soda, on the rocks,” by Insider’s Samantha Stokes: “Startup founders and investors are saying bye to booze as Silicon Valley goes sober.”
— “Where to Find the Energy to Save the World,” by Wired’s Maria Streshinsky: “Jamie Beard is pouring everything into a singular vision: Tap into the awesome potential of geothermal power in Texas, and beyond. She has no time to lose.”
— “The Catastrophe in Turkey,” by Justus Links (a pseudonym) in n+1: “Erdoğan and the earthquakes.”
— “The Future of Policing Is a ‘Little Gay Woman’ Named Terry Cherry,” by The Atlantic’s David Graham: “She has a plan to change law enforcement, one cop at a time.”
— “Tennessee Has Two White Faces. I’ve Seen Both of Them,” by Ishmael Read in POLITICO Magazine: “The effort to silence the ‘two Justins’ shows that my home state is still struggling to bury its Confederate past. Just ask my family.”
Madison Cawthorn pleaded guilty after having a loaded gun at an airport.
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris stopped by Taqueria Habanero on Cinco de Mayo.
Marco Rubio doesn’t appear to be a “Drive to Survive” fan.
Richard Glossip got a death penalty reprieve from the Supreme Court.
Michelle Obama’s new healthful drink brand got good reviews from kids.
Doug Emhoff celebrated Vesak.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-Fla.) … Spencer Pederson … McKinley Lewis of Sen. Rick Scott’s (R-Fla.) office … Tucker Eskew of Vianovo … Wendy Helgemo of Helgemo Law … Kate Jaffee of the Aspen Institute … Meghan Conklin … MSNBC’s Lisa Ferri … Bill Dolbow … Claire Mullican of the American Chemistry Council … Pat Cipollone … David Rogers … former Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) … Jamie Gorelick … former Rep. Eric Fingerhut (D-Ohio) … Granicus’ Trevor Corning… Rob Rozansky … Sheena Mollineau of PwC … Andy Oros … NBCUniversal’s Tejasi Thatte … Joe Nocera … Tony Blair
THE SHOWS (Full Sunday show listings here):
CBS “Face the Nation”: Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas … Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) … Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) … North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper.
Fox News “Sunday Morning Futures”: Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) … Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) … Rep. Monica De La Cruz (R-Texas) … Stephen Miller.
NBC “Meet the Press”: House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries … Asa Hutchinson. Panel: Sara Fagen, Garrett Haake, María Teresa Kumar and Mark Leibovich.
ABC “This Week”: Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen … Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.). Panel: Chris Christie, Donna Brazile, Susan Page and Julie Pace.
MSNBC “Inside with Jen Psaki”: Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) … Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) … Rep. Daniel Goldman (D-N.Y.) … John Leguizamo.
CNN “State of the Union”: Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) … Reps. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) and Jim Himes (D-Conn.). Panel: Rep. Hillary Scholten (D-Mich.), Marc Short, Karen Finney and Jonah Goldberg.
FOX “Fox News Sunday”: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott … Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-Texas) … Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) … Deepak Chopra. Panel: Francesca Chambers, Newt Gingrich, Juan Williams and Mary Katharine Ham.
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