Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) speaks to reporters on Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018. | Alex Brandon/AP Photo
SPOTTED: SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-Calif.), who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, walking around the Capitol with her iPhone screen facing outward in full view, and Javad Zarif’s contact page on the screen. Zarif is the name of Iran’s foreign minister.
-- TOM MENTZER, Feinstein’s comms director, in response to us asking whether the senator has been talking with Iran’s foreign minister: “I can’t comment on who the senator does or doesn’t speak with.”
-- STATEMENT from Feinstein at 2:57 p.m. Wednesday: “War isn’t necessary to solve a problem when both sides want a solution. I urge Secretary Pompeo to reach out to Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who I know doesn’t want to see a conflict with the United States.”
ABOUT THAT IRAN DRUMBEAT ... “
Trump, frustrated by advisers, is not convinced the time is right to attack Iran ,” by WaPo’s John Hudson, Shane Harris, Josh Dawsey and Anne Gearan: “President Trump is frustrated with some of his top advisers, who he thinks could rush the United States into a military confrontation with Iran and shatter his long-standing pledge to withdraw from costly foreign wars, according to several U.S. officials. Trump prefers a diplomatic approach to resolving tensions and wants to speak directly with Iran’s leaders. …
“Trump grew angry last week and over the weekend about what he sees as warlike planning that is getting ahead of his own thinking, said a senior administration official with knowledge of conversations Trump had regarding national security adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
“‘They are getting way out ahead of themselves, and Trump is annoyed,’ the official said. ‘There was a scramble for Bolton and Pompeo and others to get on the same page.’” WaPo
-- WHAT THE PRESIDENT IS THINKING -- @realDonaldTrump on Wednesday: “There is no infighting whatsoever. … Different opinions are expressed and I make a decisive and final decision -- it is a very simple process. All sides, views, and policies are covered. I’m sure that Iran will want to talk soon.”
-- HOW SOON IS SOON?: Trump is meeting with Ueli Maurer, the president of Switzerland, today in the White House. The two leaders will discuss “Switzerland’s role in facilitating diplomatic relations and other international issues,” per the White House. It seems obvious what this means: The Swiss have often served as a backchannel between the U.S. and Iran.
WSJ’S SADIE GURMAN in San Salvador, El Salvador:
“Barr Says He Isn’t Blocking Mueller’s Testimony to Congress”: “Attorney General William Barr denied he is standing in the way of special counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony before Congress, after the chairman of the House panel seeking his appearance accused the Justice Department of being unwilling to set a date.
“‘It’s Bob’s call whether he wants to testify,’ Mr. Barr told The Wall Street Journal Wednesday, en route to El Salvador, a trip focused on increasing international cooperation against the violent street gang MS-13, which has roots in both Central America and the U.S. ‘I’m trying to break away from Washington and do the real work of the attorney general,’ he said.” WSJ
Good Thursday morning. COMING ATTRACTIONS -- FOX NEWS’ STEVE HILTON will interview Trump on May 19 at 9 p.m.
BREAKING ... PHILLY INQUIRER'S JONATHAN TAMARI: "Joe Biden chooses Philadelphia for 2020 presidential campaign headquarters"
IMAGINE IF OBAMA DID THIS … ROLL CALL’S JOHN DONNELLY: “Administration wants to reimburse Taliban’s travel expenses”: “The Trump administration asked Congress earlier this year for funds to reimburse Afghanistan’s Taliban for expenses the insurgent group incurs attending peace talks, according to a spokesman for the chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense.
“The money would cover the Taliban’s costs for expenses such as transportation, lodging, food and supplies, said Kevin Spicer, spokesman for Indiana Democrat Peter J. Visclosky, in a statement for CQ Roll Call. …
“The Pentagon’s request to funnel U.S. funds to the Taliban ‘would implicate provisions of law concerning material support to terrorists, the Taliban’s ongoing offensive operations against U.S. service members, and their continuing lack of acknowledgement of the government of Afghanistan or the rights of women in Afghan society,’ said Spicer.
“Consequently, Visclosky’s panel approved on Wednesday a $690.2 billion Defense spending bill for fiscal 2020 that bars any funds for reimbursing the Taliban.” Roll Call>
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ABOUT THIS NEW W.H. IMMIGRATION PLAN -- NYT’S MIKE SHEAR on
A1: “Trump Immigration Plan Emphasizes Immigrants’ Skills Over Family Ties”: “President Trump on Thursday will unveil a plan to overhaul parts of the nation’s immigration system that would impose new security measures at the border and significantly increase the educational and skills requirements for people allowed to migrate to the United States.
“The proposal … would vastly scale back the system of family-based immigration that for decades has allowed immigrants to bring their spouses and children to live with them, the officials said. In its place, the new plan would provide opportunities for immigrants who have specific skills or job offers to work in the United States, provided they can demonstrate English proficiency and educational attainment, and pass a civics exam.
“Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and a White House adviser, spent months working on the plan, which will serve as a central part of Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign message. Working with him was Stephen Miller, the president’s top immigration adviser, but the plan falls short of the more extreme measures that Mr. Miller has long pressed the president to adopt and that have long been opposed by Democrats in Congress.” NYT
-- JARED’S COMPLETE WHIFF: UNLESS YOU’VE BEEN LIVING IN A CAVE for the last few years, you’d know that Democrats would summarily dismiss any immigration proposal that doesn’t include language to provide some sort of legal status for Dreamers. Kushner’s proposal does not include that.
So, he’s lost Democrats. As Shear also points out, this doesn’t bring down immigration into the U.S. -- which many Republicans have demanded.
This thing is deader than a doornail. The White House keeps saying it’s supposed to be a conversation-starter. The only conversation this will start in the Capitol is one about how goofy it is to believe this plan was even released in the first place.
OUR FRIENDS at The Washington Post chronicled earlier this week how Senate Republicans were scratching their heads on Tuesday after Jared came to talk to them (
>the story ). On Wednesday, Kushner briefed House GOP leadership and key lawmakers. We spoke to a few House GOP’ers yesterday who had less than zero interest in Jared’s immigration endeavor.
THIS IS A CAMPAIGN PLAY, and the strategy is to make Democrats seem intransigent and unreasonable. But Republicans aren't going to fall in line, either.
ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW … NBC’s @frankthorp: “Sen @LindseyGrahamSC on the difference between the WH immigration plan and his newly-unveiled immigration bill: ‘The White House’s plan is not designed to become law, this is designed to become law.’”