POLITICO Playbook PM: Lots of news: Kellyanne speaks … Rahm’s post-mayor gig … Exclusive NRSC and RNC fundraising numbers … New Boston Globe bureau chief

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POLITICO Playbook PM: Lots of news: Kellyanne speaks … Rahm’s post-mayor gig … Exclusive NRSC and RNC fundraising numbers … New Boston Globe bureau chief

A BUNCH OF NEWS …

— DANIEL LIPPMAN spoke to KELLYANNE CONWAY: “Kellyanne Conway on Wednesday defended President Donald Trump’s attacks on her husband George Conway saying he’s ‘a counterpuncher’ and asserting that the president is free to respond when he’s accused of having a mental illness. ‘He left it alone for months out of respect for me,’ Conway, a senior Trump aide, told POLITICO in a brief telephone interview. ‘But you think he shouldn’t respond when somebody, a non-medical professional accuses him of having a mental disorder? You think he should just take that sitting down?’ …

“‘The president is obviously defending me,’ she said. ‘He could privately say to me, ‘Honey you’re a distraction. We love you. You’ll always be a part of the family but go be with your kids. They need you. Go make a million dollars an hour. Go do that honey.” It’s the opposite.’” POLITICO

— OUTGOING CHICAGO MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL has been in talks with television networks about a contributor contract after he leaves public office. He’s proven to be a hot commodity. EMANUEL is expected to fetch in the high six figures. He can’t sign a deal until after he leaves office — the runoff to replace him is April 2, and he’s in office until May 20.

SHANNON BREYMAIER, an Emanuel aide, sends along this comment: “As you know, the Mayor is in office until May 20; he’s completely focused on his current job and running through the tape.”

From GABBY ORR: THE RNC raised $14.6 MILLION in February, $8.9 million of which came from small-dollar donors, according to internal numbers shared with POLITICO. It was the largest February fundraising haul on record for the GOP since 2004, and a record-high month in a non-election year, according to the GOP. RNC officials say they’ve acquired 100,000 new online, small-dollar donors since the beginning of this year, which enabled them to raise over $10 million through online platforms last month.

— THE NRSC raked in $6.38 MILLION in February — what they say is their best February in committee history and their second consecutive record-breaking month.

— BENJAMIN NETANYAHU will visit the United States on Monday and Tuesday — a visit that coincides with the AIPAC policy conference in D.C. From the White House: “The President and the Prime Minister will discuss their countries’ shared interests and actions in the Middle East during a working meeting on March 25. The President will also host the Prime Minister for dinner on March 26.” More from Caitlin Oprysko

SECRETARY OF STATE MIKE POMPEO is in Jerusalem meeting with Netanyahu right now.

— JIM PUZZANGHERA, a 13-year veteran of the L.A. Times, will be the next D.C. BUREAU CHIEF of the BOSTON GLOBE. Note from the Globe’s editor Brian McGrory: “This is something of a homecoming for Jim, born and raised in Melrose and a worshiper of the Globe’s sports section dating back to when he devoured it on his breaks working at a local Brigham’s or in the bleachers of Fenway Park. Truth is, I’ve been trying to lure him to the Globe since I was in Washington in the 1990s, and again as metro editor a decade ago. Sometimes you have to keep at it.” Full memo

— FROM DAVID SIDERS in Claremont, N.H.: “Beto O’Rourke said Wednesday that the $6.1 million he raised in the first 24 hours of his campaign came from more than 128,000 donors, for an average contribution of about $47.

“By contrast, the $6 million that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) raised in the first 24 hours of his campaign came from 220,000 donors, for an average of about $27. O’Rourke’s $6.1 million total, announced earlier this week, firmly established the Texas Democrat as a top-tier contender in the Democratic primary.” POLITICO

— ELENA SCHNEIDER in Waterloo, Iowa: “Klobuchar’s ‘senator next door’ strategy collides with Betomania”: Sen. Amy “Klobuchar, one of two Midwesterners in the 2020 presidential race, is counting on that neighborly connection for a foothold in the first caucus state, which has a long record of supporting contenders from nearby. But the power of that link is being tested by a nationalized political landscape dominated by political celebrities …

“It’s part of a long shift in Iowa’s long famous living room-to-living room politics; voters are still vetting candidates in person — but the introductions are online. And it’s a major hurdle for Klobuchar’s presidential strategy of playing up her roots and success in the Midwest. … Klobuchar grounded her latest pitch to Iowans in pragmatic, bipartisan bona fides, including her record co-sponsoring bills with the state’s Republican senior senator, Chuck Grassley.” POLITICO

Good Wednesday afternoon, and happy first day of spring.

THE INVESTIGATIONS — KYLE CHENEY and ANITA KUMAR: “Michael Flynn’s lobbying firm hands over docs to House judiciary panel”: “Former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s company submitted several thousand pages of documents to the House Judiciary Committee as part of its sweeping investigation into alleged obstruction of justice and other actions by President Donald Trump.

“Flynn, who is awaiting sentencing following his 2017 guilty plea for lying to the FBI, submitted documents that matched the files he also turned over to the House and Senate Intelligence Committee investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to Democratic and Republican sources on the judiciary panel.

“The Flynn Intel Group’s filings, emailed to the committee late Monday night, were part of a wave of document submissions that began pouring in this week from 81 Trump-connected individuals and entities.” POLITICO

TALKER … A.B. STODDARD in THE BULWARK: “Sen. Johnny Isakson Stands Up for McCain; Unloads on Trump”: “On Tuesday, Isakson told me he plans to deliver the promised whipping [on Wednesday]. ‘I want to do what I said that day on the floor of the [S]enate,’ he said. ‘I just want to lay it on the line, that the country deserves better, the McCain family deserves better, I don’t care if he’s president of United States, owns all the real estate in New York, or is building the greatest immigration system in the world. Nothing is more important than the integrity of the country and those who fought and risked their lives for all of us.’” The Bulwark

— @SenSchumer: “I look forward to soon re-introducing my legislation re-naming the Senate Russell Building after American hero, Senator John McCain.”

SCOOP — TRADE WARS … ELIANA JOHNSON and ANDREW RESTUCCIA: “Trump administration withholds report justifying ‘shock’ auto tariffs”: “A confidential government report has provided President Donald Trump with a legal rationale to impose heavy new tariffs on foreign cars as soon as this spring, a prospect fiercely opposed by White House officials and congressional Republicans alarmed by its enormous economic and political stakes.

“The Commerce Department submitted the report to the White House in mid-February, triggering a 90-day period for Trump to decide whether to impose tariffs, which could reach as high as 25 percent, on imported autos. It concluded that Trump could justify the tariffs on national security grounds and offered a range of options in response … Although the existence of the report was previously known, the administration has kept its findings hidden — including from a powerful Republican senator who has demanded to see it.” POLITICO

THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION — CBS’ KATIE WATSON and MAJOR GARRETT: “Clean drinking water a bigger global threat than climate change, EPA’s Wheeler says”: “Wheeler told CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett that while the administration is addressing climate change, thousands are dying everyday from unclean drinking water. Wheeler is announcing the EPA’s global clean water push in a speech at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C., Wednesday morning. …

“Wheeler also insists his EPA is working to combat climate change, a phenomenon to which he says man ‘certainly contributes.’ … Climate change, Wheeler said, ‘is an important change we have to be addressing and we are addressing.’ But he added that ‘most of the threats from climate change are 50 to 75 years out,’ while unsafe drinking water is killing people right now.” With 21-min. video, CBS

WAPO’S JULIET EILPERIN and BRADY DENNIS: “Federal judge casts doubt on Trump’s drilling plans across the U.S. because they ignore climate change”: “The decision by U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Judge Rudolph Contreras marks the first time the Trump administration has been held to account for the climate impact of its energy-dominance agenda, and it could have sweeping implications for the president’s plan to boost fossil fuel production across the country. …

“The judge temporarily blocked drilling on roughly 300,000 acres of land in the state.” WaPo

WHAT’S ON THE PRESIDENT’S MIND — @realDonaldTrump at 7:51 a.m.: “George Conway, often referred to as Mr. Kellyanne Conway by those who know him, is VERY jealous of his wife’s success & angry that I, with her help, didn’t give him the job he so desperately wanted. I barely know him but just take a look, a stone cold LOSER & husband from hell!”

CNN’S DANA BASH and BRIDGET NOLAN: “Kellyanne Conway: How she became the ultimate Trump White House survivor”: “Conway’s influence extends beyond her public profile. She wields more power than people realize in private as well, sources tell CNN.

“The reason for that, she says, stems from her access to the most important person in Trump’s White House: The President himself.” CNN

SCOTUS WATCH — NYT’S ADAM LIPTAK (@adamliptak): “Clarence Thomas asked his first questions in three years in a case on race discrimination in jury selection.”

ON THE WORLD STAGE — NBC’S JOSH LEDERMAN: “Afghan adviser refuses U.S. demand to apologize for broadside on Trump envoy”: “It’s unclear whether high-level communications will continue unabated between Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s government and the U.S., or if so, through what channels. Those with knowledge of the exchange said U.S. officials are no longer in contact with [Hamdullah] Mohib …

“It was Mohib’s extraordinary public broadside against [U.S. special representative Zalmay] Khalilzad earlier last week that plunged U.S. ties to Afghanistan to their lowest level since the start of the Trump administration.” NBC

SWAMP WATCH — NBC’S LAURA STRICKLER: “Former DEA official now working for OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma”

2020 WATCH — CNN’S DONIE O’SULLIVAN: “Despite 2016 hack, some Democratic candidates haven’t taken this basic step to secure emails”: “The protocol — Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance (DMARC) — verifies that emails are from the websites they claim to be from. Records of whether a website owner is using the protocol are publicly available.

“According to the analysis, only the campaigns of Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and spiritual author Marianne Williamson had any form of the security feature implemented. The campaigns of Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Rep. John Delaney of Maryland and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii implemented some form of the security feature soon after CNN asked them about it.” CNN

— RYAN LIZZA: “The Esquire Interview: Mayor Peter Buttigieg: The South Bend, Indiana mayor and Democratic presidential candidate talks socialism, the Green New Deal, ‘I’m With Her,’ what Democrats can learn from James Joyce(!), and more.” Esquire

— GARY FINEOUT: “Gillum to launch Florida voter-registration campaign to trip up Trump”

KNOWING BRIAN SCHATZ — MARIANNE LEVINE and BURGESS EVERETT: “Meet the Democrat who plans to unite the party after 2020 turns ugly”: “Schatz, the senior senator from Hawaii, says he is eager to help Democrats avoid ‘that whole stupid, unproductive, toxic debate’ of 2016 …

“To do so, he’s been consulting with many of his Democratic colleagues running for president, often serving as an informal sounding board for their big ideas. Schatz has also penned his own series of proposals — on health care, climate change and economic inequality — to provide Democrats with a ready-made agenda should they take power in 2020. And Schatz’s plans are gaining traction with Senate Democrats pursuing the White House.” POLITICO

VALLEY TALK — POLITICO EUROPE’S MARK SCOTT: “Europe fines Google €1.49B in third antitrust case”

WSJ’S GERALD SEIB: “Gas-Tax Hike: A Rare Big Idea With Bipartisan Backing”: “[T]he idea is alive because of a widespread belief that the nation’s infrastructure is worn out and out-of-date, and that, in a time of trillion-dollar annual federal budget deficits, there simply aren’t many places to get the $400 million or so a gas tax would raise over the next decade. …

“[T]he president and his aides have signaled they are open to the idea; Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin left that door open in his own recent appearance before the Ways and Means panel.” WSJ

ON THE BORDER … “Concertina wire stolen from border fence and used for home security in Tijuana, authorities say,” by The San Diego Union-Tribune’s Wendy Fry

TOP-ED — SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FLA.) in FOX NEWS: “Supreme Court needs to stay at nine justices – Dems’ court-packing plan is all wrong”: “How does a divided nation overcome corrosive tribalism? Ultimately, we need a restoration of family and community. In the meantime, we should do no further harm. To this end, I am proposing a constitutional amendment to prevent the next political and cultural flashpoint: the packing of the Supreme Court for partisan gains.” Fox

MEDIAWATCH — Lauren Weber is joining Kaiser Health News as a reporter, the first hire for a new St. Louis bureau. She was previously a health policy reporter for HuffPost in D.C.

WEEKEND WEDDING — Doug Deason, a major GOP donor and president of Deason Capital Services and the Deason Foundation, married Jacki Pick of “The Jacki Daily Show” on The Blaze, who previously served as counsel to former Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) and the House Judiciary Committee. The couple married at the American Colony in east Jerusalem. Pic

WELCOME TO THE WORLD — Steven Stiles, senior web designer at POLITICO, and Katie Stiles welcomed Owen Stiles. PicAnother pic

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