DRIVING THE DAY

As the country grapples with the massacre of eight people six of them women of Asian descent by a white man, the most prominent political figures in the Asian-American Pacific Island community said we all should have seen something like this coming.

Over the last year alone, members of the community have reported more than 3,800 instances of discrimination and hate crimes, according to advocates. Those have ranged from slurs to violent attacks. But it was the shock of a mass shooting, appearing to be motivated by racist beliefs and linked to the hypersexualization of women in the AAPI community, that finally made it clear to the rest of the nation.

Though AAPI members of Congressand others have pointed to former PresidentDONALD TRUMPSanti-China rhetoric, especially since the outbreak of Covid, for the spike in hateful incidents, many were calling attention to the issue long before then. But the warnings fell on deaf ears for the most part. The lack of attention until now stems from long-standing stereotypes of Asians, said Sen. TAMMY DUCKWORTH, the second of three Asian American women to serve in the Senate.

We are the invisible minority in many ways. People don’t see us as a minority. There’s this myth, of course, of the model minority that we’re all successful, Duckworth told Playbook. But there’s a flip side to that where people don’t understand the attacks and the crimes that are committed against AAPIs and frankly, these crimes are not reported.

Duckworth sent two letters to Attorney GeneralMERRICK GARLAND and FBI Director CHRISTOPHER WRAY this week asking for a review of hate crimes against Asian Americans and whether or not they were actually hate crimes and were not reported as such. She said she spoke with VP KAMALA HARRIS at length on Thursday about the issue and expects the administration to do more. The FBI has a database that tracks hate crimes. But the Justice Department notes that while experts estimate an average of 250,000 hate crimes each year were committed between 2004 and 2015 in America, the majority were not reported to law enforcement.

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Outside Congress the murders in Atlanta have jump-started another conversation: How did the rest of us miss this? And what can be done?

“Whatever the killer’s motive, these facts are clear, Harris said during her trip to Atlanta. Six out of the eight people killed on Tuesday night were of Asian descent. Seven were women. The shootings took place as violent hate crimes and discrimination against Asian Americans [have] risen dramatically. Racism is real in America and it has always been. Xenophobia is real in America and always has been. Sexism too.”

President JOE BIDEN followed her with this: “For all of the good that laws can do, we have to change our hearts. Hate can have no safe harbor in America.” During his first week as president, Biden signed a memo to condemn and combat racism, xenophobia, and intolerance against the AAPI community, as part of a group of race-focused executive orders.

Rep. JUDY CHU (D-Calif.) praised the presidents executive memo but said more is needed. She pointed to the No Hate Act which would provide states with grant money to help improve hate crime reporting, which she said is woefully inadequate because local police departments arent required to report them. According to a 2017 ProPublica investigation, among the 15,000 departments that do voluntarily report, around 88 percent said they didnt have hate crimes.

Biden on Friday endorsed another bill by Rep.GRACE MENG (D-N.Y.) to help improve hate crime reporting.

AARTI KOHLI, executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus said while legislation can help, the bigger priority is countering white supremacy and xenophobia that fuels anti-AAPI attitudes.

“It’s an issue of belonging. What white supremacy says is that the people who belong and should be given positions of power are white men, Kohli said. Words matter. And so calling something the [China] virus and not acknowledging that that will then impact an entire community of people in this country is unacceptable.

We’re dedicating the next issue of our race and identity newsletter The Recast to the tandem rise of political power for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and hate crimes against the community, as well as the sexism rooted behind violent attacks. It comes out on Tuesday. Subscribe here.

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Key reads on the shootings:

19th News: We keep it alive in our culture: The legacy of U.S. policy, violence against Asian American women

TIME: We Are Always Waiting Our Turn to Be Important. A Love Letter to Asian Americans

NYT: What We Know About the Victims in the Atlanta Shootings”

NBC News: Racism, sexism must be considered in Atlanta case involving killing of six Asian women, experts say

Happy Saturday morning. Got a news tip? A document to share? Drop us a line: Rachael Bade, Eugene Daniels, Ryan Lizza, Tara Palmeri.

BIDENS SATURDAY The president and vice president have nothing on their public schedules.

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PLAYBOOK READS

PHOTO OF THE DAY: Sens. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) and Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) speak to a crowd at Emory University after they had a meeting with President Joe Biden and VP Kamala Harris on Friday, March 19. | Patrick Semansky/AP Photo

CONGRESS

A MUST-READ ON VOTING RIGHTS An all-hands moment: GOP rallies behind voting limits,APs Nicholas Riccardi and Michael Biesecker: On an invitation-only call last week, Sen. Ted Cruz huddled with Republican state lawmakers to call them to battle on the issue of voting rights. Democrats are trying to expand voting rights to illegal aliens and child molesters, he claimed, and Republicans must do all they can to stop them. If they push through far-reaching election legislation now before the Senate, the GOP wont win elections again for generations, he said. Asked if there was room to compromise, Cruz was blunt: No.

Cruzs statements, recorded by a person on the call and obtained by The Associated Press, capture the building intensity behind Republicans nationwide campaign to restrict access to the ballot. From statehouses to Washington, the fight over who can vote and how often cast as voting integrity has galvanized a Republican Party in search of unifying mission in the post-Trump era. For a powerful network of conservatives, voting restrictions are now viewed as a political life-or-death debate, and the fight has all-but eclipsed traditional Republican issues like abortion, gun rights and tax cuts as an organizing tool.

THINKING SMALLER Democrats Are Willing To Rein In Their Gun Control Ambitions To Break The NRAs Hold On Congress,BuzzFeed: Senate Democrats have told BuzzFeed News they are considering curtailing their ambitions on gun reform and pushing a narrower piece of legislation that can actually pass, rather than sweeping reforms that would likely be doomed. The party winning both chambers of Congress plus the White House may have raised hopes for long-sought gun control measures, such as a ban on assault rifles. But Democrats are instead starting to look at smaller measures that can win bipartisan support and break the National Rifle Associations strong influence over Congress.

BYE BYE FENCE Outer fence surrounding Capitol complex to be removed this weekend,Roll Call: The outer fence surrounding the Capitol complex will be removed this weekend, according to acting House Sergeant-at-Arms Timothy P. Blodgett, a continued de-escalation of the security perimeter since the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.In an email to members and staff, Blodgett said that by Monday, Independence and Constitution avenues will be open for traffic. The inner layer of fencing will remain around the Capitol Square area while the Architect of the Capitol makes security repairs to the Capitol.

THE WHITE HOUSE

O CANADA Biden administration considers flying migrants to states near the Canadian border for processing,WaPo:A new spike in the number of families and children crossing the Rio Grande into South Texas over the past several hours is forcing U.S. Customs and Border Protection to request airplanes that will allow the Biden administration to transport migrants to states near the Canadian border for processing …

Border officials requested the air support from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement because 1,000 members of families and unaccompanied minors crossed the Rio Grande on Friday morning, and border agents have another 1,000 migrants they have been unable to process since last night, the communications show.

NOT BLOWING SMOKE Same old Joe: Rebuffing staff who smoked pot fits Bidens MO,by Natalie Fertig and Mona Zhang: Despite a shift in public opinion toward legalizing marijuana over the past 30 years, the presidents more conservative approach to weed policy is well-known on Capitol Hill. When the Daily Beast reported late Thursday that dozens of young White House staffers had been suspended, asked to resign or placed in a remote work program after admitting to prior marijuana use, pro-cannabis lawmakers were dismayed Friday but hardly shocked.

Many Republican and Democratic lawmakers, including Vice President Kamala Harris, have shifted their positions on cannabis legalization in recent years. But Biden who, as a senator, shepherded the 1994 crime bill that disproportionately hit communities of color and set mandatory minimum sentences for marijuana possession has never truly warmed to the idea.

BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD Fundamentally at odds: China, U.S. retreat to their corners after Alaska talks,by Nahal Toosi and Natasha Bertrand: Senior officials from the two countries held three sessions in Anchorage, Alaska, on Thursday and Friday the first high-level gathering of U.S. and Chinese officials since President Joe Biden took office. The gathering began with bitter exchanges, and ended with somber words.

The Biden administration is looking at taking actions in the next few weeks to punish China over what U.S. officials say is a genocidal campaign against Uighur Muslims in its Xinjiang region, according to a China analyst in touch with Biden administration officials. The actions will likely include new economic sanctions and could also involve some coordinated measures with countries in Europe which, too, are alarmed by the Xinjiang crisis.

David Sanger analysis: That Was Fast: Blowups With China and Russia in Bidens First 60 Days. It may look like the bad old days of the Cold War, but todays bitter superpower competition is about technology, cyberconflict and influence operations.

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POLITICS ROUNDUP

MORE ALLEGATIONS Cuomo Faces New Claims of Sexual Harassment From Current Aide, NYT: In the latest allegation against Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, Alyssa McGrath, an employee of the governors office, described a series of unsettling interactions with the governor, telling The New York Times that Mr. Cuomo would ogle her body, remark on her looks, and make suggestive comments to her and another executive aide.

SOUTHERN SHOWDOWN Louisiana House Race Sets Up a Democratic Showdown in New Orleans, NYT: The first competitive special congressional election of the Biden era is most likely heading to a runoff next month, but the battle lines are already drawn ahead of the initial balloting on Saturday in the race to succeed former Representative Cedric L. Richmond of Louisiana.

At the center of the debate: which of two New Orleans Democrats positioned to face off in April can better leverage their connections to lift a South Louisiana district hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

TRUMP CARDS

BANNON UPDATE Bannon battling prosecutors who wont dismiss his case after Trumps pardon, WaPo: Bannon, who helped engineer Trumps 2016 election win before briefly serving as a White House adviser, asked a judge late Thursday to follow others in New York and elsewhere who outright dismissed cases after Trump issued pardons. To support his bid, Bannon cited the post-pardon dismissals of charges against Michael Flynn, Trumps former national security adviser accused of lying about his contacts with Russian officials, and rapper Lil Wayne, who was facing gun charges in Florida.

The U.S. attorneys office in Manhattan, which is preparing for trial against three of Bannons co-defendants in an alleged border wall fundraising scam, is seeking an administrative termination of Bannons case, which would halt the prosecution against him for good but would not clear his name from the docket. The case would officially remain pending while the others, who were not pardoned by Trump before he left office in January, await trial.

ABOUT THAT PLANE Glory days of Trump’s gold-plated 757 seem far away as plane sits idle at a sleepy airport,CNN: Flight records accessed by CNN show the 757 hasn’t been flown at all since Inauguration Day, when Trump’s use of Air Force One ended, leaving him to less showy modes of transport. A representative for the Trump Organization did not immediately return CNN’s request for comment as to why the plane is not being used, nor has been fixed and whether or not Trump intends to get it in flying shape anytime soon.

CLICKER The nations cartoonists on the week in politics, edited by Matt Wuerker 16 keepers

GREAT WEEKEND READS:

A transgender girl struggles to find her voice as lawmakers attack her right to exist,by WaPos Samantha Schmidt in St. Louis

The Victims of Agent Orange the U.S. Has Never Acknowledged,by George Black in the NYT Magazine: America has never taken responsibility for spraying the herbicide over Laos during the Vietnam War. But generations of ethnic minorities have endured the consequences.

The Covid Queen of South Dakota,by Rolling Stones Stephen Rodrick: Gov. Kristi Noems state has been ravaged by her Trumpian response to the pandemic but that hasnt paused her national ambitions.

Gavin Mussolini, the Superhero Pirate and the Ragtag Campaign that Could Take Down Californias Governor,by David Siders in POLITICO Mag:Is the Gavin Newsom recall effort a triumph of grassroots democracy, or a sign that there just are no rules in politics anymore?”

Is the truth about burn pits too toxic?by The Spectators Mary Kate Skehan: My brother, his cancer and the political disregard for veterans.

Afghan interpreters languish in visa limbo as U.S. coalitions return home,by Monica Campbell of PRIs The World: Mohammad, an Afghan interpreter, cleared big hurdles to get a Special Immigrant Visa, which is available to Afghans who have assisted U.S. missions. He was killed by the Taliban before his visa was approved.

D.C.s Lost Year: How the pandemic upended lives and businesses across a region, by WaPos Emily Davies and Michael Brice-Saddler

STEP INSIDE THE WEST WING: The Biden administration is more than halfway through its first 100 days and is now facing a growing crisis at the border and escalating violence against Asian Americans, while navigating the pandemic and ongoing economic challenges. Add Transition Playbook to your daily reads to find out what actions are being considered, as well the internal state of play inside the West Wing and across the administration. Track the people, policies, and emerging power centers of the Biden administration. Don’t miss out. Subscribe today.

PLAYBOOKERS

IN MEMORIAM Pablo Sánchez, longtime Washington correspondent and producer for Univision, dies of covid-19, WaPo: Sánchez, a longtime Washington correspondent and award-winning producer for Univision who lived in Bethesda, died of complications from covid-19 on Feb. 24.

Those close to Sánchez described him as a charismatic storyteller and jokester who filled every room with his presence. He was a mostly self-educated man, born in Bogotá, Colombia, who assembled a broad knowledge of many subjects and never tired of good books, passionate discussions and telling the truth as he saw it.

SPOTTED: Rep. Tom Tiffany (R-Wis.) at DCA waiting for a flight to West Palm Beach on Friday afternoon. Pic

FIRST IN PLAYBOOK Mandy and Surya Gunasekara have launched Section VII Strategies, an energy, environmental, tax and trade policy consulting firm. Mandy previously was COS at EPA and is a Senate EPW alum. Surya previously was senior counsel for international affairs at the Energy Department and is a CBP and Jim Renacci alum.

STAFFING UP The White House announced it will nominate Dawn OConnell to be assistant HHS secretary for preparedness and response.

TRANSITION Brandon Pollak has joined REEF Technology as head of federal government and public affairs to launch the companys D.C. office. He most recently led government relations and public affairs at Epirus, and is co-founder of 1776.

WELCOME TO THE WORLD William OConnor, travel editor at The Daily Beast, and Alejandro Golding, VP overseeing acquisitions at the Stanton Development Corp., welcomed Augustine María OConnor-Golding on March 13. Pic

Chris Jennison, an attorney adviser for the FAA, and Jo Bahn, a senior attorney with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, welcomed John Jack Steven Jennison on Wednesday.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: RNC Chair Ronna McDanielWaPos Phil Rucker Washingtonian owner Cathy Merrill WilliamsKevin HassettGloria Story Dittus, chair of Story Partners Mark Putnam, founding partner of Putnam Partners Arthur ScottJon ThompsonJulie TownsendMichael Whouley, CEO and co-founder of Dewey Square Group Peck Madigan Jones Jay Heimbach Hamilton Place Strategies Elliott Owensby Ryanair CEO Michael OLeary NBC News Benjy Sarlin MSNBCs Jack Bohrer Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney POLITICOs David FerrisNaomi Zeigler

Kramer PhillipsRobert MiddaughJonathan Godfrey … Sally Aman Results for Americas Zac CoileJessica CarterDan BrundageBrian WaltonA.J. Jacobs Edelmans Ryan Zimmerman and Amy NunnMonica Owens Beauprez … Abbey Welborn … Susan McGinnis … Kevin Coroneos … National Geographics Matt Finkelstein … Gloria Totten … Michael Seely … Janelle Gardner … Cory Gattie … Sarah SanchezMichael Brownlie … Robert Scott Heaslet

THE SHOWS (Full Sunday show listings here):

  • This Week: DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) Jonathan Karl and Matt Gutman.
  • Face the Nation: Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) Scott Gottlieb Moncef Slaoui.
  • State of the Union: DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) Reps. Young Kim (R-Calif.) and Michelle Steel (R-Calif.) Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
  • Fox News Sunday: DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.). Panel: Guy Benson, Catherine Lucey and Charles Lane. Power Player: Mike Winkelmann.
  • Meet the Press:Panel: Julia Ainsley, Eddie Glaude Jr., Peggy Noonan and Jon Ralston.
  • Full Court Press: Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.).
  • The Sunday Show: Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) Donna Edwards Holly McCormack DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
  • Inside Politics: Mesa, Ariz., Mayor John Giles Kaitlan Collins and Perry Bacon Nicole Hong Adam Jentleson and Scott Jennings.

Send Playbookers tips to [email protected] Playbook couldnt happen without our editor Mike Zapler and producers Allie Bice, Eli Okun and Garrett Ross.

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