Here are the stories our D.C. insiders are talking about in this week’s “Inside Politics” forecast, where you get a glimpse of tomorrow’s headlines today.
1. Bloomberg 2020?
Michael Bloomberg is a Republican-turned-independent who now wants to be the Democrats’$2 2018 midterm savior. His big splash: a new pledge to spend perhaps $80 million to help Democrats win back the House.
“Democrats are ecstatic at this gift, but is the Democratic House Bloomberg’s only goal here?” asks CNN Chief National Correspondent John King.
“He’s long wanted to be president, and some very smart people in contact with Bloomberg’s inner circle say Team Bloomberg sees this 2018 effort as a way to make new friends and test a possible Bloomberg 2020 campaign.”
Bloomberg isn’t a Democrat. And he’s 76 years old. But Sen. Bernie Sanders is also not a Democrat and is also 76 years old, and he’s mulling another run too. And Donald Trump is a Democrat-turned-independent-turned Republican president.
“Yes, Bloomberg 2020 seems more than a stretch,” King said. “But so did Trump in 2016.”
King said a veteran political operative who’s talked about this with top Bloomberg advisers put it this way: “He wants to run against Trump. The Bloomberg guys think Democrats will owe him a shot. We will see.”
2. Dem hopefuls eye Maryland gubernatorial primary
Some of the most prominent Democrats with an eye on 2020 are focused this week on Maryland, where Democratic voters will pick a gubernatorial nominee to run against incumbent Republican Larry Hogan, one of the most popular governors in the country.
Senators Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Bernie Sanders have all been there to campaign for former NAACP chief Ben Jealous. His main competition is a centrist local leader from Prince George’s County.
“Ben Jealous is kind of the progressive candidate running against Rushern Baker, who is more the establishment-type candidate,” New York Times reporter Jonathan Martin said. “It does have some echoes of Sanders versus Clinton from two years ago.”
Martin said Sen. Sanders in particular has a lot riding on the race. “Sanders has not had a great record in a lot of these primaries so far, and could use a “W” from his wing of the party.”
3. Pence heads to South America
Vice President Mike Pence travels to Central and South America this week – including a stop in Guatemala, where he’ll no doubt face questions about the administration’s border policy.
“Immigration and the way President Trump has treated the immigration issue, the implications of the family separations, particularly for a place like Guatemala, are front and center on many peoples’ minds,” Bloomberg’s Margaret Talev said. “It will be very interesting to see how the vice president tries to do clean-up on what President Trump’s separation policy has done.”
4. Trump hopes courts will help his agenda
The Republican legislative agenda may be stuck in Congress, but the administration is hoping the courts can help with some of President Trump’s biggest priorities.
“In the courts he actually can make quite a bit of progress, and the administration in recent weeks has been trying to do that not just on immigration, but also on the Affordable Care Act,” said Julie Hirschfeld Davis of the New York Times. On the ACA, the administration’s recent decision not to defend its constitutionality “could have big implications for health care law, even if Congress doesn’t do what President Trump has repeatedly asked them to do.”
One factor weighing in the administration’s favor: the record number of Trump-picked judges who have been confirmed to the judiciary. “This has been a big talking point for President Trump on the campaign trail, that he’s really remade the judiciary,” Davis said. “And now we’re beginning to see the ways in which he is trying to take advantage of those changes.”
5. Controversial FBI agent heads to the Hill
Trump allies in Congress who have been trying to undercut the Mueller investigation have a big week ahead: FBI agent Peter Strzok is scheduled to testify before a House panel investigating the FBI’s probe into Hillary Clinton’s emails.
Strzok is one of the FBI agents whose anti-Trump text messages have raised questions about bias at the bureau. He volunteered to testify, but that didn’t stop House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte from subpoenaing him anyway.
“Goodlatte wanted to issue that subpoena to really send a message to Strzok and to send a message that they want to go after this issue relatively hard,” said CNN’s Manu Raju.
Republicans also are discussing holding top Justice Department officials in contempt of Congress for not turning over documents they’ve requested about the Clinton investigation.
“The threat of contempt or impeachment of Rod Rosenstein still looms large,” Raju said.