First Read is your briefing from Meet the Press and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter
WASHINGTON — The felony indictment of Republican Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens — for allegedly taking a compromising photo of a woman with whom he was having an affair — could have a ripple effect well beyond the governor’s mansion.
For one thing, Missouri is holding one of the most competitive Senate races in the country between incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and likely GOP opponent Josh Hawley, who just happens to be the state’s top law-enforcement official as state attorney general.
Additionally, the Greitens matter isn’t going away anytime soon, because Greitens is fighting the charge, and because the state House is investigating it. “As I have said before, I made a personal mistake before I was governor. I did not commit a crime,” the governor said in a statement. “With today’s disappointing and misguided political decision, my confidence in our prosecutorial system is shaken, but not broken. I know this will be righted soon. The people of Missouri deserve better than a reckless liberal prosecutor who uses her office to score political points.”
What’s more, “Republican House leaders said they are launching an investigation of Greitens, which House Communication Director Trevor Fox said is needed before impeachment proceedings could begin,” per the AP.
The McCaskill-Hawley race, right now, is viewed as a 50-50 contest, with control of the U.S. Senate possibly on the line for whichever party wins it. And this felony indictment will be in the background. Possibly for months.
Trump speaks on Day 2 at CPAC
President Trump is the headliner of the second day at the conservative CPAC confab right outside of DC. He speaks at 10:05 am ET. Here is the rest of the schedule for today and tomorrow.
- 8:35 am ET: Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke
- 8:55 am ET: Laura Ingraham
- 9:25 am ET: Mark Meadows, Jim Jordan
- 10:05 am ET: President Trump
- 11:15 am ET: Sheriff David Clarke
- 11:55 am ET: White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and Small Business Administrator Linda McMahon
- 1:35 am ET: RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel
- 3:35 pm ET: Nigel Farage
- 7:00 pm ET: Fox’s Jeanine Pirro
- 9:40 am ET: Sebastian Gorka
- 3:35 pm ET: Devin Nunes
The NRA’s tone-deaf response to the Parkland shooting
At a time when Marco Rubio, Pat Toomey and even President Trump are looking for solutions and possible compromise after last week’s shooting, the NRA was defiant — and tone deaf — at yesterday’s CPAC conference. Here was the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre:
- “As usual, the opportunist wasted not one second to exploit tragedy for political gain. Saul Alinsky would have been proud.”
- “They hate the NRA. They hate the Second Amendment, they hate individual freedom. In the rush of calls for more government, they've also revealed their true selves. The elites don't care — not one whit — about America's school system and school children.”
- “It's a bizarre fact that, in this country, our jewelry stores — all over this country — are more important than our children. Our banks, our airports, our NBA games, our NFL games, our office buildings, our movie stars, our politicians – they're all more protected than our children at school.”
- “As we've learned in recent months, even the FBI is not free of its own corruption and its own unethical agents. Look — and I know you probably all share this sentiment, and I get people telling me from coast to coast — and they kind of shake their heads when they say it to me — I could understand a few bad apples in an organization as large as the FBI, but what's hard to understand is why no one at the FBI stood up and called BS on its rogue leadership… The rank and file in every powerful institution must police its own leadership.”
- “This growing socialist state dreams of manipulating school children to squeeze and squeeze information about their parents. They'll be asking your kids if mommy and daddy spank them, or what mommy and daddy feeds them for dinner. They'll want to know what TV shows you watch, what magazines, newspapers you read. And, oh, yes, do mommy and daddy own a gun?”
Those words will feed the base, but they won’t comfort wobbly conservative allies.
With the new charges against Manafort and Gates, no one is cleaning up the swamp like Mueller is
Make no mistake: This has to be spooking political consultants who work with foreign governments. “Special counsel Robert Mueller filed a new indictment on Thursday against former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort and former campaign aide Rick Gates, charging them with new tax and bank fraud crimes and hiking the amount of money they allegedly laundered to more than $30 million,” NBC’s Tracy Connor, Kenzi Abou-Sabe and Ken Dilanian report. “The 32-count indictment was filed in federal court in the Eastern District of Virginia, further stepping up the pressure on Manfort and Gates as Mueller's probe of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election gains momentum.”
More: “A previous indictment, charging the pair with money laundering, conspiracy and other offenses stemming from their lobbying work on behalf of pro-Russian political figures in Ukraine was filed in federal court in Washington in October… Some of the charges in Virginia mirror the charges in Washington, while others are brand new. Manafort and Gates are now both accused of tax evasion and not reporting money in foreign accounts, and they are also accused of misleading banks on paperwork for millions in real-estate loans obtained in 2016.”
A spokesman for Manafort says he’s innocent of the charges, which the spokesman emphasizes have “nothing to do with Russian and 2016 election interference/collusion.”
The Russian oligarch whom Mueller indicted is believed to be the man controlling Russian mercenaries in Syria
The Washington Post notes that the Russian oligarch whom Mueller indicted last week for being part of the effort interfering in the 2016 election just happens to be the man who controls the Russian mercenaries fighting in Syria. “A Russian oligarch believed to control the Russian mercenaries who attacked U.S. troops and their allies in Syria this month was in close touch with Kremlin and Syrian officials in the days and weeks before and after the assault, according to U.S. intelligence reports. In intercepted communications in late January, the oligarch, Yevgeniy Prigozhin, told a senior Syrian official that he had ‘secured permission’ from an unspecified Russian minister to move forward with a “fast and strong” initiative that would take place in early February.
“Prigozhin made front-page headlines last week when he was indicted by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III on charges of bankrolling and guiding a long-running Russian scheme to conduct ‘information warfare’ during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.”
Friday’s Ad Watch
Here’s a new weekly installment from First Read — a look at some of the best TV ads we’ve seen airing in midterm races across the country
Shri Thanedar’s (D) “Name Game” in MI GOV: “Hi, I’m Shri Thanedar running for governor. Free Darth Vader? No, Shri Thanedar… Shri. Siri? No, Shri… Ten Radar? No, Thanedar.”
Hunter Hill’s (R) “Ready to Serve Again” in GA GOV: “I’m Hunter Hill, Army Ranger. Unlike these guys, I’m not a career politician. Georgia’s next governor will face many obstacles [as Hill navigates an Army obstacle course with two men wearing business suits]. That’s why we need true conservative leadership that delivers results.”