POLITICO Playbook PM: ‘The worst transatlantic blow-up since the Iraq war’September 16, 2021
WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE — The newly announced Australia-UK-U.S. alliance against China has sparked fury in France, where it is being received as “the worst transatlantic blow-up since the Iraq war in 2003,” report Stuart Lau, Jacopo Barigazzi and David M. Herszenhorn.
— French Foreign Minister JEAN-YVES LE DRIAN: “It’s a stab in the back. We had established a trusting relationship with Australia, and this trust was betrayed."
— BENJAMIN HADDAD, who leads the Atlantic Council’s Europe Center: “It’s stunning, honestly, and [there] will be an earthquake in Paris. ... [It] will leave long-term damage on the French defense and political establishment — more than a ‘normal’ diplomatic spat."
— The backstory: “Only hours before EU foreign policy chief JOSEP BORRELL was due to unveil Europe's own woolly Indo-Pacific strategy on Thursday, he was outplayed in a hard-power move by America, Britain and Australia. The three countries announced a landmark pact that would allow cooperation on top military technology and allow Canberra to build nuclear-powered submarines. … [France] now looks to set to lose out on a multibillion-dollar submarine supply deal with Australia.”
That said, it’s still probably a little too early to bring back “freedom” fries. Even as Paris is steaming, Borrell sought to contain the fallout and is eager not to poison the EU’s relationship with President JOE BIDEN. “Don’t put into question our relationship with the United States that has been improving a lot with the new administration," Borrell said today.
POWERFUL READ — The NYT’s Emily Cochrane, Luke Broadwater and Ellen Barry sat down with six people who were in the Capitol on Jan. 6 to discuss their recollections from that day and how it continues to affect them today. Their stories are making the rounds on Twitter this morning.
Here are a few soundbites:
— Rep. VERONICA ESCOBAR (D-Texas): “[Afterwards,] I had an anxiety attack on a flight to D.C. We were all in line to get onto the plane, and all of a sudden I noticed several T.S.A. agents at our gate. Immediately, I could feel my heart beating more quickly. I sat down and I started scanning everybody boarding the plane for patches on their arms, for T-shirts, for the things that we saw on Jan. 6 — the identifiers.”
— Sen. LISA MURKOWSKI (R-Alaska): “I moved out of my hideaway, so I don’t go back there anymore. I really liked it, but it was just too much déjà vu. That memory is still there. That little public bathroom right across from my hideaway — I can just still hear the awful sound of the officer as he was trying to rid himself of whatever the spray was. … It’s hard. But we’ve got a job to do, and we need to be focusing on what’s in front of us today. So in order to focus on that, maybe the easier thing is to try to push the reality of what we faced those months ago to the further corners of your mind. It doesn’t make them go away. That story will always be with us.”
— Capitol Police Officer JAMES BLASSINGAME: “We go to work every day to protect Congress, and these people won’t even have our back. We, the officers, did our job. No member of Congress was injured on that day. For them to not have our back, it’s extremely disheartening.”
This latest recounting comes two days before pro-Trump protesters are slated to once again show up at the Capitol — this time in support of those who were arrested and are facing prosecution for their involvement in the Jan. 6 violence. It’s just the latest reminder that the severity of what happened that day still has not resonated with much of the country, particularly part of the GOP base.
Good Thursday afternoon. Enough heavy stuff. Now for some fun items.
POLITICIAN OR CELEBRITY? (MAYBE BOTH) — Rep. DAN CRENSHAW (R-Texas) is building a following of engaged, young, conservative activists who are willing to spend their own money in order to see him speak at a series of summits, Hailey Fuchs writes. It is the latest “logical extension of the celebrification of politics” that “underscores how the currency of campaigns has shifted from ideas and traditional forms of communication to communities and shared moments.”
Fuchs’ story dives into a recent two-day conservative youth confab Crenshaw hosted at the downtown Hilton in Houston, where he invited conservative personalities like BEN SHAPIRO, BENNY JOHNSON and MEGYN KELLY to speak. The students cheered and prodded Crenshaw to run for president; Crenshaw turned on the charm and vowed to keep his options open.
“While the weekend gave the whiff of a bar mitzvah for the MAGA faithful — with purple, blue, and green lasers shot over the crowd and techno and pop music blaring from the speakers — political veterans also called it an innovative approach to campaigning from Crenshaw and his congressional campaign committee, which paid for the event,” Fuchs writes.
“Rather than spending money to reach voters through rallies, television ads, town halls or even in the digital space, Crenshaw plopped himself in one spot, got free media coverage and had supporters come and pay to see him. In the process, he managed to score emails, phone numbers and addresses for highly committed supporters — among the most valuable currency in the campaign world.”
2022 WATCH — JOHN THUNE, CHUCK GRASSLEY, PATRICK LEAHY, RON JOHNSON, LISA MURKOWSKI. Those are the big names to watch as some Senate stalwarts make critical decisions of whether to run for another six years in office, CNN’s Manu Raju reports. Their choices, he writes, “could reshape the body, spark internal jockeying for key leadership positions and alter the race for the next Senate majority.”
WHO’S UP? — California Gov. GAVIN NEWSOM, fresh off his blowout victory in the recall election, told CBS News this morning that his success offers a model for Democrats around the country. “[W]e need to stiffen our spines and lean in to keeping people safe and healthy,” Newsom said. “That we shouldn’t be timid in trying to protect people’s lives and mitigate the spread and transmission of this disease. That it’s the right thing to do, but it’s also a motivating factor in this election.” More from Quint Forgey
WHO’S DOWN? — California Republicans are again left wondering what it will take to catch up to Democrats in the state, who haven’t lost a statewide race in 15 years, AP’s Michael Blood reports in Los Angeles.
CASH DASH — WinRed, the GOP’s small-dollar fundraising operation, is planning to lower the fees it charges candidates and committees for each contribution they receive, a change that could significantly boost incoming money to Republican campaigns ahead of the midterms, Alex Isenstadt writes.
ROSE FROM THE ASHES — MAX ROSE, the Staten Island Democrat unseated in 2020 by GOP Rep. NICOLE MALLIOTAKIS, is plotting a rematch in a race that may be more favorable to him after redistricting. “Rose has begun hiring a campaign team since leaving his post on President Joe Biden’s Covid task force in June, as well as reaching out to supporters in anticipation of another run,” sources tell Olivia Beavers and Ally Mutnick.
UNEMPLOYMENT PICTURE — Unemployment claims ticked back up slightly this week following a pandemic low, AP’s Christopher Rugaber reports. There were 332,000 claims this week, up from 312,000 the week before.
WATCH: The Manchin roadblock in Biden’s agenda: Whether it’s Biden’s Rescue Plan or the bipartisan infrastructure deal, Sen. JOE MANCHIN always seems to be at the center of the debate on Capitol Hill. This week, Ryan breaks down how the West Virginia Democrat became such an influential figure in the Democratic party and how his demands could make or break Biden’s agenda.
HURRY UP AND WAIT — Weeks after leaving Afghanistan, “tens of thousands of Afghans hoping to be resettled in the United States remain on military bases across the country and overseas as medical and security screenings slow the process,” NYT’s Jennifer Steinhauer and Eileen Sullivan report.
ON THE GROUND — The AP’s Kathy Gannon reports that “friction between pragmatists and ideologues in the Taliban leadership has intensified since the group formed a hard-line Cabinet last week that is more in line with their harsh rule in the 1990s than their recent promises of inclusiveness, said two Afghans familiar with the power struggle.”
FOOD FOR THOUGHT — Joanne Kenen writes that “one of the upsides of the Covid-19 pandemic … is that lots of organizations intensified their work on hunger, nutrition and food security. And that has driven new interest in increasing access to healthy food, the kind of food that doesn’t just ease hunger but actively promotes health. The kind of food that people need during Covid — and will keep needing after Covid.”
SCHOOLS IN CRISIS — Kids returning to classrooms this fall are being met by an increasingly dire shortage of staff to support them, whether it be the bus driver, cafeteria workers or substitute teachers, NYT’s Giulia Heyward writes.
VACCINE TALES — More and more parents across the country are signing up their children for vaccine trials in hopes that their kids can get vaccinated even ahead of FDA approval, WSJ’s Jared Hopkins reports.
— Related: “Parenting a child under 12 in the age of delta: ‘It’s like a fire alarm every day,’” by WaPo’s Ariana Eunjung Cha
JAN. 6 AND ITS AFTERMATH
TRACKING TIKTOK — Ahead of the Jan. 6 attacks at the Capitol, domestic extremists used TikTok to “recruit people to their causes, as well as share ‘tactical guidance’ for terrorist and criminal activities.” Betsy Woodruff Swan and Mark Scott report that on April 19, DHS officials briefed law enforcement agencies on the finding.
“The DHS alert shows concern that TikTok — already under scrutiny for possibly sending people’s data to China, accusations the company denies — has become a hotbed of extremist activity and that law enforcement enforcement will have to pay closer attention to a platform more associated with viral dance videos than far-right radicalism.
AMERICA AND THE WORLD
ILS NE PASSERONT PAS — “France said Thursday it had killed ADNAN ABU WALID AL-SAHRAWI, the Islamic State leader who led the killing of four U.S. servicemen in Niger in 2017 and was the architect of one of the terrorist outfit’s most successful franchises following the group’s loss of its Middle East territories,” per WSJ’s Benoit Faucon and Joe Parkinson.
BEYOND THE BELTWAY
GUNS IN AMERICA — In a marked change from the past, women accounted for nearly half of new gun sales in the U.S. since 2019, according to a new report. In the period of January 2019 to April 2021, an estimated 3.5 million women became new gun owners, while 4 million men did. “Researchers and gun store owners attributed the jump to fears driven by the Covid-19 pandemic and the protests, sometimes accompanied by violence, that followed the police killing of George Floyd, as well as the divisive atmosphere around the 2020 presidential election,” WSJ’s Zusha Elinson writes.
PLAYBOOK METRO SECTION
IS THE METRO ON FIRE? — The answer today was yes. The building under construction that will house the Metro’s HQ in Southwest D.C. caught fire and was billowing smoke from materials on the roof, NBC Washington reports. D.C. Fire and EMS’ Twitter said one firefighter was being transported to the hospital with a minor injury. Video of the fire
MEDIA MOVES — Piers Morgan is joining News Corp and Fox News in a deal that will see him write columns for the New York Post and The Sun, and host a new show on Fox Nation in 2022. He is also writing a new book that will be published by HarperCollins.
— Annie Bryan is joining POLITICO as a digital editor. She previously was a digital editor at the Philly Inquirer and is a Time and CBS alum.
TRANSITIONS — Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar is now president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He previously was a California Supreme Court justice. More from NYT … Yolanda Murphy is joining Bully Pulpit Interactive as a managing director. She previously was VP of comms at Northrop Grumman. … Ziad Ojakli is now executive VP of government operations at Boeing. He most recently was managing partner and SVP at SoftBank and is a Ford Motor Company and George W. Bush White House alum. …
… Anne Kelley is now a partner at Mercury Strategies. She previously was a deputy director at the SEC and is a Jim Bunning alum. … Molly Morrissey is joining Booz Allen Hamilton as a consultant. She currently is press secretary for Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.). … Tara Thomas is now a policy analyst for AASA, the School Superintendents Association. She previously was a public policy associate for Girl Scouts of the USA.
WELCOME TO THE WORLD — Hanan Saab, assistant VP for federal relations at the Association of American Universities, and Nick Saab, principal at Lewis-Burke Associates, welcomed Isaac Saab on Sept. 8. He joins big brother Aiden. Pic