WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The White House has declined to comment on a "Deport Justin Bieber and revoke his green card" petition, saying the "We the People" Whitehouse.gov petition system allows the Executive Office to dodge comments "to avoid the appearance of improper influence."
Although the official response did not address the petition's position directly, the White House did drop a few Bieber references, while making its case for the President's immigration plan.
CNN's GUT CHECK | for April 18, 2014 | 5 p.m.
- n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
OBAMA ADMINISTRATION PUNTS KEYSTONE DECISION … The Obama administration indefinitely suspended a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline Friday, telling multiple leaders in Congress it is extending the comment period on the matter until the conclusion of a Nebraska lawsuit on the issue… An earlier State Department report on the pipeline found that it would have no significant environmental impact. That report was initially due to be finalized after a public comment period ended in early May, but the Obama administration is now holding that period open.– Lisa Desjardins
Keystone advocates immediately blasted the decision. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, called the extension, “shameful” and “egregious.” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, joked: “I guess (the president) wasn’t serious about having a pen and a phone.” Sens. Heidi Heitkamp, D-North Dakota, and Mary Landrieu, D-Louisiana, called the delay “ridiculous” and “unacceptable.”
Environmental groups were pleased. “The State Department is taking the most prudent course of action possible,” the National Resources Defense Council said in a statement. “The newly extended comment period will show what we already know: the more Americans learn about this project, the more they see that the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is not in the national interest.’’
UKRAINE SEPARATIST LEADER REJECTS DEAL … The self-declared leader of pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Ukraine city of Donetsk on Friday defied an international deal for protesters to vacate seized buildings and lay down their arms. The deal was agreed to by Russia, Ukraine and the West. – Laura Smith-Spark and Phil Black
AS HILL LAWMAKERS ARGUE FOR MORE UKRAINE AID … The White House is not going far enough in sending aid to Ukraine, top House Armed Services Committee Republicans and Democrats said in a letter to President Obama that was obtained by CNN. Committee Chairman Buck McKeon, ranking Democrat Adam Smith and ten other panel members wrote the president late Thursday night after the White House announced another round of non-lethal aid to Ukraine. – Lisa Desjardins
… AND CORKER PUSHES FOR LETHAL ASSISTANCE: The top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Tennessee’s Bob Corker, tells CNN’s Jake Tapper that Russia is “playing” the U.S. “I think it's time for us to consider anti-tank weaponry, anti-aircraft weaponry” for Ukraine’s military, Corker tells Tapper. “Obviously, Russia is going to far outman them.”
FIRST ON CNN: MEMO SAYS GOP COMPETITIVE IN FIVE MORE SENATE RACES … The National Republican Senatorial Committee argues Republicans have expanded the 2014 playing field with five more contested races as the GOP seeks to retake control of the upper chamber. In a memo released to consultants Friday morning, NRSC political director Ward Baker writes that Republicans have become competitive in Colorado, New Hampshire, Virginia, Oregon and Minnesota since the start of the year.
MORE CLINTON-ERA DOCUMENTS RELEASED … The Clinton Presidential Library released a fourth batch of confidential memos, notes and other papers on Friday … The release spans a range of issues from the 1990s, including Rwanda, the Oklahoma City bombing, the former Yugoslavia, affirmative action and immigrant detention.
Highlights include concerns about a summit with Bush 41 and Colin Powell, a memo written to the Clintons and Gores about the Jetsons and other educational cable programing for children, governance in the District of Columbia and the politics of funerals.
See what we’ve found so far in today’s document dump.
THE BUZZ: HUFFINGTON TELLS TAPPER: ‘WE ARE LIVING UNDER A COLLECTIVE DELUSION’ … Arianna Huffington frequently tweets about the power of yoga and the need to take time to relax, meditate and exercise. But how does one of the most successful media moguls in the world make time for all those things? In an interview on CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper,” Huffington explains that a case of extreme exhaustion in 2007 caused her to reassess her personal priorities and reexamine the culture we live in. “Our culture has glamorized sleep deprivation as a kind of virility symbol and assumes that is the only way to succeed,” Huffington says. She argues that we are living in “a collective delusion” where burnout equates with success, and argues that that mentality is actually counterproductive.
MARKET WATCH: U.S. markets were closed for Good Friday.
Who is the only person to have represented three states in the U.S. Senate?
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics.com: First on CNN: Amy Kremer resigns from Tea Party Express
Amy Kremer, the Tea Party Express chairwoman who has played a major role in elections for the past five years, is resigning. "This has been a really difficult decision for me, but the time has come for me to leave Tea Party Express," Kremer said Friday. – Ashley Killough and Steve Brusk and Paul Steinhauser
Leading Monroe News Star: Accused video leaker quits staff
Leah Gordon, the staff member of U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister who is accused of leaking the video of the congressman’s scandalous kiss, has resigned as his Monroe District Office manager. Adam Terry, McAllister’s chief of staff, confirmed her resignation late Wednesday. He said Gordon wasn’t fired. – Greg Hilborn
Leading Drudge: Pope Pelosi Washes Feet Of Immigrants
To "honor the dignity and work of immigrants," Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi helps Bishop Marc Andrus wash the feet of two children Thursday at Saint John the Evangelist Episcopal Church in San Francisco.
Leading HuffPo: Rep. Tim Huelskamp Claims Kansas Has More Uninsured Since Obamacare
"It's hard to get accurate numbers on anything," Huelskamp told his constituents at a town hall in Salina, Kansas, according to video posted by Eagle Community Television. "But the numbers we see today is that - as I understand them - we believe there are more people uninsured today in Kansas than there were before the president's health care plan went into effect. And I thought the goal was to bring more people into insurance." – Andrew Perez
Leading Politico: Elizabeth Warren book dishes on big Washington names
Elizabeth Warren’s upcoming book chronicles many private meetings with powerful politicians such as President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Tim Geithner. The Massachusetts Democrat also describes conversations with plenty of other Washington bold-faced names, including Larry Summers; Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas); and Guy Cecil, executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Not surprisingly, not all of the officials are given flattering portrayals in the book.- M.J. Lee
Leading New York Times: G.O.P. Discovers Useful Voter Outreach Tool: Gun Sweepstakes
Hand over your email address to a political campaign, and typically all you can expect in return is an endless stream of solicitations for money. But one supporter of Greg Brophy, a state senator who ran for governor in Colorado, got something else: a Smith & Wesson M&P15 rifle. – Jeremy Peters
The political bites of the day
– Harry Reid calls Nevada cattle rancher’s backers 'domestic terrorists' –
REID AT A LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL Q&A THURSDAY EVENING: "Those people who hold themselves out to be patriots are not. They’re nothing more than domestic terrorists … I repeat: What went on up there was domestic terrorism.”
– Rand Paul to Harry Reid: ‘Calm the rhetoric’ –
SEN. RAND PAUL, R-KENTUCKY, ON FOX NEWS THURSDAY: “I don't think calling people names is going to calm this down. I think it's liable to stir it up. So I think all parties, including Senator Reid, should calm the rhetoric a little bit. Let's try to have a peaceful resolution to this.”
– Snowden reveals why he divulged classified NSA information –
EDWARD SNOWDEN IN AN OP-ED IN THE GUARDIAN: “Clapper's lie – to the Senate and to the public – was a major motivating force behind my decision to go public, and a historic example of the importance of official accountability.”
– Brendan Buck to media: “Chill” –
BOEHNER SPOKESMAN BRENDAN BUCK ON REPORTS THE SPEAKER IS ‘HELLBENT’ ON IMMIGRATION REFORM: “Because many of you are asking, here is a comment from me on the status of immigration, which as you will see is the same as it has been. Everyone can tell their editors to chill. The House’s focus remains on jobs and the economy. Nothing has changed. As he's said many times, the Speaker believes step-by-step reform is important, but it won't happen until the president builds trust and demonstrates a commitment to the rule of law."
– Daily Caller News Foundation editor: ‘Voting against Bushes is an act of love’ –
DAILY CALLER NEWS FOUNDATION’S JIM ANTLE IN AN OP-ED: “Neither President Bush left the Republican Party in better shape than he found it … Thank the GOP’s first family for their service. Viewed under a thousand points of light, they’ve done a heckuva job. But somewhere in this kinder, gentler nation there must be an alternative. Sometimes voting against Bushes is an act of love.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
Nick Confessore (@nickconfessore)
Release from @TomSteyer on Keystone: "This is rotten eggs for TransCanada and good news on Good Friday"
Reince Priebus (@Reince)
Voters will remember #KeystoneXL delays next time @BarackObama says he's serious about income inequality. Tom Steyer: 1; American jobs: 0.
Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram)
Sens Begich & Landrieu, both facing tough re-elections, blast Obama Admin for latest Keystone delay.
Brad Dayspring (@BDayspring)
Mary Landrieu yesterday: "My Energy Chairmanship is good for #Louisiana!" Mary Landrieu today: "I am powerless on #Keystone" #LAsen
Robert Costa (@costareports)
scoop: Romney has donated to and privately endorsed Elise Stefanik, Steve Daines, Tony Strickland... rollouts soon http://wapo.st/1iwkAlr
Steve Scully (@SteveScully)
No Senate run for K Sebelius – Kansas Dems look for alternatives @CSPANPolitics
Alan He (@alanhe)
#clintondocs In jan 13, 1999 meeting on SOTU, Clinton worries about appearing obsessed with Saddam Hussein. pic.twitter.com/wymPxq7BjD
Maeve Reston (@MaeveReston)
Advice to Bill b4 a presser: "3 touchstones you can keep coming back to...you're calm, you're just out here doing your job" #ClintonDocs
Jim Roberts (@nycjim)
Rob Ford launches re-election campaign by thanking those who stood by him in “rocky" times. http://on.thestar.com/1qTy4dL pic.twitter.com/0NzYSD8h9d
Al Garcia (@AlGarciaUSA)
Nebraska Senate: Shane Osborn has Grover Norquist on his side...Ben Sasse has Mike Lee and Sarah Palin on his side http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/04/17/nebraska-power-hour-senate-candidates-duel-on-glenn-becks-radio-program/ …
Andrew Malcolm (@AHMalcolm)
Illinois makes an offer it hopes Obama can't refuse: $100 million in taxpayer funds to lure his library site http://news.investors.com/politics-andrew-malcolm/041814-697715-obama-presidential-library-chicago-public-money.htm …
Jennifer Scoggins (@JenScogginsCNN)
. @WolfBlitzer Reports: Popes & Presidents airs on Easter Sunday at 2 p.m. ET. pic.twitter.com/9VeMNq96Et
Jen Buesinger Sperry (@jenbuesinger)
Obama: "Democrats should forcefully defend & be proud” of ACA. @MoElleithee @seanspicer @StuPolitics & the #Obamacare effect Sun 9a @CNNsotu
John King (@JohnKingCNN)
smart take from @danmericaCNN: take a few baby steps away from notion everything @HillaryClinton is political: http://cnn.it/PcpjNL
Gut Check DVR: Catch John King’s ‘Inside Politics’ on Sunday at 8:30am E.T. with Peter Hamby, Annie Lowrey, Jonathan Martin, and Laura Meckler.
TRIVIA ANSWER from @sarafischer
Sen. James Shields, a Democrat, represented Illinois from 1849 to 1855, Minnesota from 1858 to 1859, and Missouri in 1879. Shields launched his Senate career in Illinois after fighting in the Mexican War, but failed to win reelection and subsequently packed his bags for the Minnesota Territory. He then became one of Minnesota’s first two U.S. senators, but again failed to win reelection after his short term expired. Years later, the 73-year-old Shields was elected to represent Missouri. He died shortly thereafter.
GUT CHECK WINNER’S CIRCLE
(why aren’t you in it)
Congrats to Christopher S. Brown (@chrisbrowntv) and Jessica Niestzche (@jneetch) and Mason Sims (@Mason_Sims) for correctly answering today’s Gut Check Trivia question.
Tips or comments? Our inbox awaits: email@example.com
Anyone can sign up for Gut Check by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
WANT TO SIGN UP?
Do you have a friend who wants to sign up for GUT CHECK or our new CNNPolitics Breaking News Alerts? Click here, log on and scroll down.
(CNN) - In a blunt exchange that hit on a major American divide, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada, stood by his comments that militia groups involved in a ranch standoff are “domestic terrorists,” while the state’s Republican senator, Dean Heller, replied that he considers them “patriots.”
The two men appeared Friday afternoon on KSNV’s “What’s Your Point?” question-and-answer show.
Washington (CNN) - The White House is not going far enough in sending aid to Ukraine, say top Republicans and Democrats on the House Armed Services Committee in a letter to President Obama that was obtained by CNN.
Committee Chairman Buck McKeon, ranking Democrat Adam Smith and 10 other key House Armed Services members wrote the President late Thursday night after the White House announced another round of non-lethal aid to Ukraine.
(CNN) – The leading Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today called for the Obama administration to provide lethal weapons to the Ukrainian military and stop "holding their coat."
"It's time for us to consider anti-tank weaponry, anti-aircraft weaponry," Corker said in an interview with CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper."
Washington (CNN) - The Obama administration announced Friday that it is extending the comment period on the State Department’s Keystone XL pipeline report – a move that could delay a final decision on the project indefinitely.
The State Department’s report found that the pipeline would not have a significant environmental impact. It was due to be finalized after a 90-day comment period ended in early May. FULL POST
(CNN) - The William J. Clinton Presidential Library released a fourth batch of confidential memos, notes and other papers from the Clinton White House on Friday.
Collectively, the documents open a window into the Clinton years and cover a variety of topics, including the office of former first lady Hillary Clinton, who's now considered the overwhelming favorite for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 if she decides to run.
Washington (CNN) – When the Bureau of Land Management retreated from a standoff with Cliven Bundy, a few hundred people traveled to his Nevada ranch to protest what they see as an overreach of the federal government.
One protester from neighboring Utah, Stephen L. Dean, 45, called the Bureau of Land Management's actions "tyranny in government." And a banner at the protest site blared: "Has the West been won? Or has the fight just begun!"
Updated 10:14 a.m. ET, 4/18/2014
(CNN) – Amy Kremer, the Tea Party Express chairman who's played a major role in elections for the past five years, is resigning.
"This has been a really difficult decision for me, but the time has come for me to leave Tea Party Express," Kremer said Friday.