By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone)
- TUNE IN TONIGHT — THE BUSH INTERVIEW: Former President George W. Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush speak exclusively with ABC’s DIANE SAWYER tonight on “World News.” They open up about the vision behind the new presidential library, life after the White House – and a little politics too. The former president talks to Diane about everything from terror threats to the future of the Republican Party to his new painting hobby. Portions of the interview will also air later tonight on “Nightline” and will be featured tomorrow on “Good Morning America,” ABCNews.com, Yahoo!, and ABC News Radio. The Bush Center will house the George W. Bush Presidential Museum and Library as well as the George W. Bush Institute. It will be officially dedicated tomorrow. http://www.bushcenter.org/
- ED GILLESPIE LOOKS BACK: In an Op-Ed in the National Review, Ed Gillespie, former counselor to President George W. Bush, writes: “Last week’s tragic terrorist attack on the Boston marathon was a grim reminder that, while our homeland is safer today than it was before the attacks of September 11, 2001, Americans cannot take that safety for granted. The fact that we have not suffered such an attack in nearly eleven and a half years reflects the skill of our counterintelligence agencies, the FBI, and the brave men and women who are on the front lines of keeping their fellow Americans safe. But it reflects, too, the policies put in place by the administration of President George W. Bush, whose presidential library opens this week in Dallas, Texas. These policies include establishing the director of National Intelligence, National Counterterrorism Center, and the Department of Homeland Security, and expanding the FBI’s mission from just investigating terrorist attacks to preventing them.” http://bit.ly/15FSUFe
- THE LATEST FROM BOSTON: Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev managed to say just one word to a federal judge when charges were filed against him in a makeshift courtroom held at the side of his hospital bed, “No.” No, he could not afford an attorney. As a result, ABC’s RUSSELL GOLDMAN reports, Tsarnaev, 19, who is facing the possibility of the death penalty for his alleged role in last week’s terror attack, will be represented by one of the most experienced and well respected public defenders in the country, Miriam Conrad. Conrad heads the Federal Public Defender Office in Boston and her resume includes defending “shoe bomber” Richard Reid in 2001 for trying to blow up a Paris to Miami jetliner. “She is excellent, tough, tenacious and wise,” said Tamar R. Birckhead, now a University of North Carolina law professor who worked with Conrad for four years, including on the Reid case. http://abcn.ws/Y3ShDf
ABC’s RICK KLEIN: Presidents are rarely remembered for things they weren’t able to do. But the thought agenda — as opposed to the action agenda — is key to how George W. Bush and his top aides want his presidency to be remembered. Two big pieces of unfinished business, immigration reform and Social Security reform, are being cast as areas where Bush was ahead of his time, for his party and his country. In a GOP focused on soul-searching these last few months, it suggests a back-to-Bush path that takes on some demographic challenges confronting the party in an urgent way. There are plenty of reasons for even Republicans to want to forget Bush. But there may be a few that things become more worth remembering over time.
FUSION’s JORDAN FABIAN: Yesterday, Politico published a piece titled “Immigration reform could be bonanza for Democrats” that argues if the bill becomes law “as many as 11 million new Hispanic voters” could transform the electoral map. I’m not buying it. If reform passes, it’s possible that several million new Democratic, Hispanic voters will enter the electorate. But the 11 million figure is a vast overstatement. First, it’s highly unlikely that all 11 million will go through the entire 13-year process to become full citizens. Many could simply opt for permanent legal status, which does not grant you the right to vote. And it’s not clear how many of those who do earn citizenship will vote. Remember that only 58 percent of the entire voting-eligible population cast a ballot for president last year. Second, not all undocumented immigrants are Hispanic, contrary to Politico’s assumption. The vast majority are, but a sizable amount (11 percent) are from Asia and others hail from Africa and Europe, according to Pew. And third, as Politico itself puts it, it’s an “inherently speculative exercise” to assume that all these newly legalized voters will vote Democrat. The vast majority of first-generation immigrants from Mexico do share common political beliefs with the Democratic Party. But it’s not clear if the same trends will hold true years from now, when undocumented immigrants could become eligible to vote. http://abcn.ws/11OrqGV
ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: One of the little-known stories of last Friday night’s tense standoff between federal agents and accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, involves leaders of the local mosque where the brothers had worshipped. The Islamic Society of Boston reached out to the FBI with an offer to try and negotiate his peaceful surrender. “We said to the FBI, listen if you want someone to negotiate with the younger brother…” Yusufi Vali, the spokesperson for the Society, told ABC News. “We said we are willing to send in someone because he may have been a Muslim — to talk to him and negotiate that process and the FBI was so grateful for that.” The standoff ended before leaders of the mosque could intervene. But during a week bookended by terror plots, the effort was one of several instances where members of the Muslim community sought to assist authorities as they confronted plots by radicals. More from my report with Lara Salahi: http://abcn.ws/13upt52
WHAT WE’RE WATCHING
FORMER OBAMA STAFFER LEADS WHITE HOUSE PROTESTS AGAINST PIPELINE. Environmental activists are turning up the heat on President Obama as he faces what could be the trickiest decision of his second term: whether or not to approve the controversial proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which could reach his desk this summer. The project, which would transport oil from the tar sands of Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico, promises jobs and energy. But critics say it will ravage the environment and send oil overseas. “We put him in the White House because we thought he was the best chance of really making progress on the issue of climate,” the Sierra Club’s Courtney Hight told ABC’s DEVIN DWYER. “He’s strongly said that he wants to do something…and this is one of his best opportunities to actually follow through,” she said.
BACKSTORY: Hight is no ordinary environmentalist. She was one of the first foot soldiers for Obama in New Hampshire in 2007 and later led his campaign’s outreach to youth voters in swing-state Florida. In 2008, she joined the administration as a member of the president’s Council on Environmental Quality, but later quit her post disillusioned by what she saw as Obama’s weak commitment to cleaning up the earth. WATCH: http://yhoo.it/ZOlg8l
WHAT WE’RE READING
–”MARYLAND GOVERNOR O’MALLEY CONSIDERING WHITE HOUSE RUN IN 2016,” by the Associated Press. “Maryland’s governor, Martin O’Malley, says he is considering a run for the White House in 2016. O’Malley said Wednesday in Jerusalem that he will dedicate more “reflection time” in the later part of this year to deciding whether to seek the Democratic nomination for the 2016 race. … O’Malley is on an eight-day tour of Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian territories with a delegation of Maryland officials. During his visit, he intends to visit the traditional birthplace of Jesus, the Palestinian city of Bethlehem, to attend Sunday Mass. This is O’Malley’s third visit to Israel.” http://wapo.st/17RvvNK
–FLASHBACK, APRIL 10, 2013: “O’MALLEY SAYS HE’LL THINK ABOUT WHETHER TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT,” by the Baltimore Sun’s Erin Cox. “With a productive General Assembly session behind him, Gov. Martin O’Malley said Wednesday that he will use the second half of the year to consider whether to run for the White House. ‘I need to be spending a lot more energy and time giving serious consideration and preparation to what — if anything — I might have to offer should I decide to run for president in 2016,’ O’Malley said during a wide-ranging interview with editors of The Baltimore Sun.” http://bit.ly/132mZKW
BOSTON BOMBS LIKELY BUILT FROM FIREWORKS. A New Hampshire fireworks store has told the FBI that it sold four-hundred dollars worth of fireworks in February to accused Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev. The gunpowder in fireworks is often used in bombs, notes ABC’s BRIAN ROSS and RHONDA SCHWARTZ. ‘He just wanted the biggest, loudest stuff we had in the store,’ said Megan Kearns, the assistant manager of Phantom Fireworks, in an interview with ABC News affiliate WMUR. Kearns said Tsarnaev — the older of the two brothers now accused in the blast — bought two large reloadable mortar kits during a two for one sale. She said she remembered Tamerlan because of his Russia accent. The store has since confirmed his purchase with store records. “Pretty much the only thing that was remarkable about him was that he had a Russian accent, which we don’t get too many people in here who have Russian accents,” she said. The amount of gunpowder that could be harvested from the kits — less than half a pound — would not have been enough to detonate the Boston bombs, Phantom Fireworks VP William Weimer said. http://abcn.ws/15KcQa9
OBAMA DINES WITH FEMALE SENATORS. Six months after requesting the meeting, the women of the U.S. Senate, all 20 of them, sat down last night for dinner with President Obama, ABC’s MARY BRUCE reports. The president met for just over two hours with the record-breaking group composed of four Republicans and 16 Democrats. “The president enjoyed continuing his discussion with the senators about a wide range of items on the agenda, including working together to find common ground on budget issues and new initiatives to grow our economy, create jobs, and strengthen the middle class,” according to a White House official. In October, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., told the president about the women’s regular bipartisan get-togethers. “I told him about our quarterly dinners, and I said ‘Mr. President, if you want to see bipartisanship in Washington, invite the women senators to help you get it done.’ And he loved the idea and he plans to invite us to the White House,” Gillibrand told ABC News’ Diane Sawyer in an exclusive interview in January. Last night, over a meal that included Alaskan halibut and peach pie, the president and the senators discussed immigration reform, efforts to reform the nation’s gun laws, and education, according to the official.
JOE BIDEN AVOIDS FURLOUGHS. The automatic federal spending cuts known as the sequester are forcing thousands of government employees – from air traffic controllers to White House staff - to take unpaid days off. As White House Press Secretary Jay Carney put it, “everyone’s affected by this.” Well, maybe not everyone, notes ABC’s JONATHAN KARL. One executive branch leader has found a way to make the cuts without forcing people out of work: Vice President Biden. Like most of the federal government, the office of the vice president is subject to across the board spending cuts, but an administration official tells me Biden’s office has been able to do what the FAA – and president’s own staff – have been unable to do: make the required spending cuts without furloughing any employees. The VP’s office, I am told, is not furloughing anybody and not requiring any staff to take pay cuts. They have found other ways to make the required budget cuts. The VP’s office won’t say how they have made the cuts. In contrast, the president’s staff is facing furloughs beginning in early May. The FAA started furloughing air traffic controllers on Sunday. http://abcn.ws/11zWCfK
IS TERRORISM THE NEW NORMAL? Since the early post-9/11 years, Americans have expected terrorism. Majorities have said they think “occasional acts of terrorism in the U.S. will be a part of life in the future,” when the Pew Research Center has asked-74 percent thought so in 2003-and while expectations of terrorism have dipped in recent years, the Boston marathon attacks rejuvenated them, notes ABC’s CHRIS GOOD. After polling in the low-to-mid-60s since 2009, expectations of future terrorism jumped from 64 percent last April to 75 percent today. Pew began its most recent survey of 1,002 adults on Thursday, three days after Tamerlan and Dzokhar Tsarnaev allegedly detonated two bombs in downtown Boston, killing three people and injuring scores of bystanders. A week later, the Boston attacks have most dramatically influenced younger Americans. The increase spans demographics, but the groups that expected terrorism the least in 2012 — 18-to-29-year-olds (54 percent), 30-to-49-year-olds (62 percent), and Democrats (60 percent) — have been brought in line with older respondents and Republicans. Now, at least 74 percent say they expect future attacks, across all those groups. The gap between 18-to-29-year olds and those 65 and older, 20 percentage points last year, is now only 5 after the youngest demographic grew to expect future terrorism by 20 percentage points. http://abcn.ws/15FxCaX
@AmbassadorRice: Outraged by Richard Falk’s highly offensive Boston comments. Someone who spews such vitriol has no place at the UN. Past time for him to go.
@wexler: Mark Sanford’s explanation changes http://www.thestate.com/2013/04/23/2738807/sanfords-trespassing-explanation.html … via @thestate