REPUBLICAN CLERK OF COURT TELLS STAFF THEY MUST WORK ON HER CAMPAIGN: The memo said employees would be required to campaign for her, including taking vacation time so they weren't doing political work while on the clock. "You will be required to stand at the polls on May 8th for half day. Vacation leave will (be) taken." was the second item on the list. The third item said staffers were required to attend a Republican forum at a church. She also wrote that she would ask staffers "to go out with me on Saturdays or during the week to speak to people you know. You will take vacation leave." After the memo was published, Surry County Clerk of Court Teresa O'Dell told the Mount Airy News that she doesn't require staff to work for her campaign. She acknowledged that the memo "seemed to indicate otherwise" and sent a follow-up note.
REPUBLICAN COLLEAGUE SAID HE WOULD SHOOT SOMEBODY IF THEY THREATENED DEB BUTLER: The March for Our Lives teens are demanding answers to their questions about halting gun violence, and they asked dozens of them on a rainy Saturday afternoon. Rep. Deb Butler, D-New Hanover, described how, after a “vigorous” committee debate about gun legislation during a recent session, a pair of Republican legislators approached her to continue trying to sway her. Butler, who is seeking re-election, recounted, “One of them says to me, in all sincerity, ‘Deb, if somebody comes in here and threatens me, I’ll shoot ‘em for you.’ So, you see how difficult finding the common ground is.” To enact change, Butler continued, those in the March for Our Lives movement must continue to show up and prepare themselves to be “unyielding” on the topic. Last month, local March for Our Lives organizers held a rally in Downtown Wilmington at which more than 2,000 people supported change to gun laws.
TRUMP'S ADVISORS ARE FORCED TO STEER HIM VIA TELEVISION NEWS ANCHORS: More than 10 current and former White House officials and outside advisers spoke to AP on condition of anonymity to describe such internal discussions. Managing a boss who despises being managed is a difficult game. And those who have succeeded have proceeded carefully. Some aides, convinced that Trump puts more stock in what he sees on TV than in his own aides' advice, regularly phone prominent commentators and news hosts to provide talking points on everything from tax policy to Syria in hopes of influencing Trump. Similar strategies have also been embraced by foreign governments and outside groups trying to sway the president's thinking.
TRUMP'S ACOLYTES DOWNPLAY TRADE WAR WITH CHINA: "This is a problem caused by China, not a problem caused by President Trump," Kudlow said on "Fox News Sunday." But he also downplayed the tariff threat as "part of the process," suggesting on CNN that the impact would be "benign" and said he was hopeful that China would enter negotiations. Kudlow, who started his job a week ago after his predecessor, Gary Cohn, quit over the tariff plan, brushed aside the possibility of economic repercussions. "I don't think there's any trade war in sight," Kudlow told Fox. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said on CBS' "Face the Nation" that he didn't expect the tariffs to have a "meaningful impact on the economy" even as he left the door open for disruption. He allowed that there "could be" a trade war but said he didn't anticipate one.
TRUMP THREATENS ASSAD WHILE ALSO DEMANDING U.S. TROOPS WITHDRAW FROM SYRIA: As Washington worked to verify the claim by Syrian opposition activists and rescuers that poison gas was used, Trump said there would be a “big price to pay” for resorting to outlawed weapons of mass destruction. A top White House aide, asked about the possibility of a U.S. missile strike in response, said, “I wouldn’t take anything off the table.” The developments come as Trump has moved to dramatically scale back U.S. goals in Syria, pushing for a quick military withdrawal despite resistance from many of his national security advisers. Trump has given no formal order to pull out the 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria or offered a public timetable other than to say the U.S. will withdraw as soon as the remaining Islamic State fighters can be vanquished. But Trump has signaled to his advisers that, ideally, he wants all troops out within six months.