POLITICS

HUFFPOST HILL - Bob Menendez Lauds Staffers For Hilarious April Fools' Prank, Is Ready To Go Home Now

04/01/2015 05:30 pm ET | Updated Apr 01, 2015

Upon further reflection, it would’ve been funnier if Breitbart accused Harry Reid of not paying his mob protection money for 10 years. Scott Walker is allergic to dogs, which at least provides him some cover if he’s caught strapping one to the roof of his car. And Hillary Clinton's poll numbers have declined in the wake of the controversy surrounding her private email account. With only 520,881,623 news cycles left between now and the Iowa Caucuses, her future looks uncertain. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, April 1st, 2015:

MENENDEZ INDICTED - 3… 2… 1… Fight [these scurrilous charges]! CNN: "Federal prosecutors indicted Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez on corruption charges on Wednesday for allegedly using his Senate office to push the business interests of a friend and donor in exchange for gifts​, according to the Justice Department. The case, brought by the Justice Department's public integrity unit, sets up a high-stakes battle between a New Jersey senator who has fought off investigations for years, and federal prosecutors and the FBI who have spent years pursuing him." [CNN]

@hillhulse: Hearing that Senator Menendez will voluntarily step aside as ranking on Foreign Relations Committee for the time being.

LOIS LERNER ESCAPES JUSTICE - Mike McAuliff: "Lois Lerner, the former Internal Revenue Service official at the center of the furor over the agency's alleged targeting of politically active nonprofits, will not face prosecution for refusing to testify before Congress, federal prosecutors announced Wednesday. The House of Representatives voted last year to hold Lerner in contempt for refusing to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, then chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.). She had offered a short statement professing her innocence of any wrongdoing in the scandal and then twice invoked the Fifth Amendment. The contempt citation was forwarded to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia for prosecution…. 'Once again, the Obama administration has tried to sweep IRS targeting of taxpayers for their political beliefs under the rug,' Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said in a statement." [HuffPost]

SHUT UP, POLITICS - Igor Bobic: "April Fools' Day is awful. Even more awful, however, are politicians' lame attempts at humor...Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) alerted his supporters to tune in to a "big announcement" Wednesday morning. Was it an official announcement about his bid for the White House? No, it was his shocking endorsement of the Wisconsin men's basketball team in the NCAA tournament, which, for some reason, was marked by the hashtag #AprilFools...The National Republican Congressional Committee mocked Democrats for believing they could retake the House of Representatives in 2016 with this hilariously boring 'Top Ten' list...Tom Steyer and his organization NextGen Climate... emailed its supporters early Wednesday about new 'proof' showing that '97% of scientists tricked the world into believing the 'Global Warming Hoax.''… Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich got in on the action by endorsing President Barack Obama's foreign policy...In a bid for most original April Fools' joke, the Chamber of Commerce went with the bold, 'BREAKING: Obama Administration Approves Keystone XL Pipeline.'" [HuffPost]

Our terrible April Fools' idea: Have several-dozen members of the congressional press corps don Members Only jackets and try to ride the members-only elevators in the Capitol.

MEMBER: You can’t be in here.

REPORTER: Why, yes I can [points thumbs at Members Only jacket, is escorted off premises].

Har Har!

Haircuts: Arthur Delaney (h/t Arthur Delaney) , Mike Sommers (h/t Mike Sommers), Michael Steel (h/t Michael Steel)

McDonald's is raising wages at the fraction of restaurants it directly operates. The other 90 percent of McDonald's employees work in restaurants McDonald's pretends are mom & pop operations.

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - This truly is the most terrible thing. Elizabeth Chuck: "A suburban Atlanta teenager who received national attention two years ago after doctors turned down his request for a heart transplant was killed Tuesday in a high-speed police chase. Anthony Stokes, 17, of Decatur, Georgia, received a transplant to replace his failing heart in August 2013 -- but only after a hospital reversed its decision denying him a spot on the transplant list because of his brushes with the law." [NBCNews.com]

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PROSTITUTES FOR REID - Brett McGinness: "A Las Vegas-area brothel is offering to host a retirement party for Nevada Senator Harry Reid, thanking him for his support of initiatives beneficial to Nevada's legalized prostitution industry...An open letter from Sheri's Ranch, bfased in Pahrump, mentioned several initiatives that Reid supported, including the Affordable Care Act. Because Nevada's prostitutes operate as independent contractors, they are responsible for their own health insurance and cannot be denied coverage due to the ACA. The letter also thanked Reid for his support of the LGBT community and his opposition to the proposed nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, approximately 60 miles north of Pahrump." [Reno Gazette-Journal]

ASA HUTCHINSON HANGS MIKE PENCE OUT TO DRY - Dana Liebelson: "Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) said on Wednesday he would not yet sign a controversial religious freedom act into law, requesting that the state legislature make changes to the bill in the wake of criticism that the legislation could be used to facilitate discrimination against LGBT citizens and other groups." Sorry, Mike! [HuffPost]

Need some clarification of why the Indiana "religious liberty" law is a big deal? Allow us to break you off this slice of COHNBREAD: "[I]ntention is one thing, impact quite another. As legal experts pointed out to The Huffington Post, even with the Indiana law in place, a business owner refusing service to a same-sex couple might still lose a discrimination lawsuit. It would depend on several factors -- among them how the judge interpreted phrases like 'compelling interest' and 'substantial burden.' The outcome could also depend on whether the alleged discrimination took place in a city that has its own laws making such discrimination illegal. These factors hardly make the law inconsequential -- particularly now that legislators in another state, Arkansas, have passed a similar statute and sent it to their governor to sign. But Indiana's law may be more significant because of what its sponsors were trying to do (and the grief they've gotten for it) than for what they've actually accomplished." [HuffPost's Jonathan Cohn]

Who created a mashup of Mike Pence's overly-audible breaths at yesterday's presser? HuffPost's Amber Ferguson, natch.

BOEHNER IN THE HOLY LAND - John Boehner's meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu was duller than that wine tasting class (we're guessing) he attended at the Capitol Hill Club. WaPo: "Speaking to the media with Netanyahu ahead of their meeting in Jerusalem, the two leaders sought to emphasize that amid threats to Israel and the United States in the Middle East, the relationship between the two countries is unwavering…Neither man mentioned the Obama administration's ongoing efforts to reach a nuclear deal with Iran. Netanyahu has voiced opposition to such a deal. So have Boehner and many Republicans. Negotiators were scrambling to try to reach an agreement Wednesday as they blew past a self-imposed Tuesday deadline. Before his meeting with Boehner, Netanyahu said in a televised statement that 'now is the time for the international community to insist on a better deal,' according to Reuters." [WaPo]

HILLARY'S #s SLIP AMIDST EMAILGHAZI - Why did she tell her server to stand down? The Hill: "Hillary Clinton’s email problems are taking a bite out of her approval ratings, raising the GOP’s confidence that she can be defeated in 2016. A new poll released Tuesday by Quinnipiac University found Clinton trailing former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in the Sunshine State and enjoying only a 2 percentage point lead over Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). In February, she led both -- with a 10-point lead on Rubio. Hillary Clinton’s email problems are taking a bite out of her approval ratings, raising the GOP’s confidence that she can be defeated in 2016. A new poll released Tuesday by Quinnipiac University found Clinton trailing former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in the Sunshine State and enjoying only a 2 percentage point lead over Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). In February, she led both -- with a 10-point lead on Rubio." [The Hill]

Ready for access: "As Ready for Hillary -- the independent super PAC that for over two years has been raising grass-roots support for a Clinton presidential campaign -- begins to wind down its operation ahead of Clinton’s formal campaign announcement, all 29 of its staffers who want jobs on the Clinton campaign are expected to get the chance to do so at some point during the cycle, sources said." [Politico]

KOCH DONORS COMING OUT OF THE SHADOWS - ...presumably cast by the awnings of their Park Avenue co-ops. USA Today: "Donors to the Koch-affiliated Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce have penned at least eight newspaper opinion pieces recently, declaring their support for the Koch's small-government, free-market agenda. The latest, signed by eight California residents, appeared this week in The Desert Sun of Palm Springs, Calif…Chris Rufer, the CEO of a California tomato-processing company, told USA TODAY that he donates between $500,000 and $1 million each year to the Koch network but is not concerned with short-term political gains. Rufer, a Libertarian, said he's more interested in changing the 'culture" through supporting the foundations and think tanks backed by the network 'than in trying to win elections today.'" [USA Today]

PUBLIC SERVICE WITH A SMILE - Grim: "On Tuesday night, a Tennessee Senate committee voted to deny some 280,000 state residents access to health care, rejecting a plan to expand Medicaid that would have cost the state nothing. Following the vote, advocates for expansion ran into state Sen. Todd Gardenhire (R), a wealth manager at Morgan Stanley who sits on the committee. One activist, Damien Crisp, asked Gardenhire if he would be willing to give up his own state-subsidized health insurance. Gardenhire, in a video of the incident taken by another activist, turned around and said something along the lines of 'Not giving it up, asshole' or, perhaps, 'Why don't you give it up, asshole?' ('Asshole' is the clearest part of his rejoinder.)" [HuffPost]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here's a dog covering the White Stripes.

SCOTT WALKER ALLERGIC TO DOGS - So we've reached this part of the pre- pre- pre- primary news cycle. Gird your loins for the "Will Jeb Bush's paleo diet hurt him with Pennsylvania's whiz and steak constituency?" thought pieces. "[L]ittle notice has been given to an area in which he faces a different sort of constitutional challenge: overcoming his aversion to man’s best friend. Jeb Bush can lament how he lost a Labrador (named for his brother Marvin) to cancer. Marco Rubio has a Shih Tzu, with a name like a gift from heaven: Manna. Ted Cruz goes one better: His rescue mutt is called Snowflake. ('Dear Jesus, please, please, PLEASE bring us a puppy,' his daughters prayed, according to Mr. Cruz’s Facebook page.) And if Mr. Walker makes it to November, he could face Hillary Rodham Clinton and her toy poodle, Tally. Mr. Walker, who gives a gloomy stump speech filled with 'worry,' perhaps could use a four-legged image softener of his own. But he is allergic to dog dander, an aide confirmed." [NYT]

COMFORT FOOD

- Skipping is the most efficient form of human locomotion.

- Google's Dial-Up Mode April Fools' gag is just that, a gag, but we wish it existed.

TWITTERAMA

@anamariecox: It is kind of embarrassing how much joy I'm getting out of pizza today. I AM GAY FOR PIZZA, that's what I'm saying.

@ByronTau: This is the progress I've made on my story today:

WASHINGTON --

@Yair_Rosenberg:
"What's our status, John?"
"Well, we successfully deployed mice in the Iranian delegation's suite."
"Excellent."

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