INSIDE SENATE DEMOCRATS’ SUPREME COURT STRATEGY … Look for Senate Democrats to emphasize health care — pre-existing conditions — and abortion rights as they talk about the upcoming Supreme Court vacancy. Democrats are moving away from the idea that it’s not fair that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) gets to confirm another justice after refusing to consider Merrick Garland. They won’t talk much about pushing the vote until after the midterms. Instead, they plan to talk about what they consider to be the real-world impact of another conservative justice on the nation’s highest court.

BURGESS EVERETT and JOHN BRESNAHAN: “The fate of the Supreme Court could ride on these 2 senators”: “Sen. Susan Collins took a notable phone call Thursday as she enters the eye of the Supreme Court confirmation storm: It was White House counsel Don McGahn, sounding out the moderate Maine Republican in what she called a ‘preliminary discussion’ of the high court vacancy.

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“Republicans control the Senate by a single seat and Arizona Sen. John McCain has been absent for months. That means any single GOP senator has enormous sway over President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court pick.

“None matter more than Collins and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who also received her own call from McGahn on Thursday. Then on Thursday evening, the two were part of a small group of bipartisan senators to meet directly with the president himself.

“A year ago, the two moderate Republicans, along with McCain, stopped Obamacare repeal in its tracks while helping to confirm Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Now, as they weigh how to replace the retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, the two are about to be squeezed more than ever — by liberals seeking a Republican to stop the court from outlawing abortion rights, among other potential conservative rulings, and by their fellow Republicans looking for a show of party unity on a hugely consequential vote.” https://politi.co/2lI9jGh

— @PressSec: “Tonight @POTUS met w/ Senators Grassley, Collins, Murkowski, Manchin, Donnelly, and Heitkamp to discuss the Supreme Court vacancy. @POTUS team also talked w/ more than a dozen other Senators today as part of ongoing outreach to get views and advice from both sides of the aisle.”

44’S RALLYING CRY … FORMER PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA via Isaac Dovere: “‘Do not wait for the perfect message, don’t wait to feel a tingle in your spine because you’re expecting politicians to be so inspiring and poetic and moving that somehow, ‘OK, I’ll get off my couch after all and go spend the 15-20 minutes it takes for me to vote,’ Obama said in his first public comments in months, which only a few reporters and no cameras were allowed in for. ‘Because that’s part of what happened in the last election. I heard that too much.’” https://politi.co/2tOLcJE

THE LATEST IN ANNAPOLIS — “Five dead in ‘targeted attack’ at Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, police say,” by The Baltimore Sun’s Kevin Rector and Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs: “A gunman blasted his way into the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis with a shotgun Thursday afternoon, killing five people, authorities said.

“Journalists dived under their desks and pleaded for help on social media. One reporter described the scene as a ‘war zone.’ A photographer said he jumped over a dead colleague and fled for his life.

“The victims were identified as Rob Hiaasen, 59, a former feature writer for The Baltimore Sun who joined the Capital Gazette in 2010 as an assistant editor and columnist; Wendi Winters, 65, a community correspondent who headed special publications; Gerald Fischman, 61, the editorial page editor; John McNamara, 56, a staff writer who had covered high school, college and professional sports for decades; and Rebecca Smith, 34, a sales assistant hired in November.

“Two others were injured in the attack that began about 2:40 p.m. at the Capital Gazette offices at 888 Bestgate Road in Annapolis.” https://bit.ly/2tIWDlO

— “The Victims of the Capital Gazette Newsroom Shooting” — NYT: https://nyti.ms/2tBPdSs

— NYT: “Who Is Jarrod Ramos, the Suspect in the Annapolis Newsroom Shooting?”: “He had previously made ‘general threats’ against the community newspaper company over social media, including some as recent Thursday, said William Krampf, Anne Arundel County’s acting police chief. The threats ‘indicated violence,’ Chief Krampf said.” https://nyti.ms/2KxBaa7

— “Capital Gazette newspapers in Annapolis trace their origins to 1727,” by Baltimore Sun’s Chris Kaltenbach: “The Maryland Gazette traces its origins back to 1727 in Annapolis, when it was founded by British journalist William Parks. … The Gazette was the seventh newspaper established in what would become the United States. In July 1776, the Gazette was one of the first newspapers to publish the Declaration of Independence, although it appeared on page 2; then, as now, local news took precedence.” http://bit.ly/2Mzkzjv

— VIDEO DU JOUR — @NBCNews: “‘Can you please talk to us about the dead reporters in Annapolis?’ ‘Do you have any words of condolence for the families, Mr. President?’ ‘Why are you walking away?’ Pres. Trump does not comment when asked about the deadly Maryland newsroom shooting.” 1-min. video http://bit.ly/2yPYE5O

— CAPITAL GAZETTE STAFFER Paul W. Gillespie (@pwgphoto): “I am okay physically, so far, mentally I am a mess. I was inside. I am lucky to be alive. Please pray for my coworkers who were not as lucky as I was. We lost some truly great people today. I am in shock trying to process this horrible situation. Thanks for all the kind thoughts.”

Good Friday morning from Miami, where we’re holding our first Playbook Elections event this morning.

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NYT’S ADAM LIPTAK and MAGGIE HABERMAN: “Inside the White House’s Quiet Campaign to Create a Supreme Court Opening”: “President Trump singled him out for praise even while attacking other members of the Supreme Court. The White House nominated people close to him to important judicial posts. And members of the Trump family forged personal connections.

“Their goal was to assure Justice Anthony M. Kennedy that his judicial legacy would be in good hands should he step down at the end of the court’s term that ended this week, as he was rumored to be considering. Allies of the White House were more blunt, warning the 81-year-old justice that time was of the essence. There was no telling, they said, what would happen if Democrats gained control of the Senate after the November elections and had the power to block the president’s choice as his successor. …

“But they had a connection, one Mr. Trump was quick to note in the moments after his first address to Congress in February 2017. As he made his way out of the chamber, Mr. Trump paused to chat with the justice. ‘Say hello to your boy,’ Mr. Trump said. ‘Special guy.’

“Mr. Trump was apparently referring to Justice Kennedy’s son, Justin. The younger Mr. Kennedy spent more than a decade at Deutsche Bank, eventually rising to become the bank’s global head of real estate capital markets, and he worked closely with Mr. Trump when he was a real estate developer, according to two people with knowledge of his role.” https://nyti.ms/2yTl6uE

ELANA SCHOR, “Dems wrestle with hardball tactics in Supreme Court battle: The liberal base wants Democrats to grind the Senate to a halt, but moderates aren’t on board”: “Democrats are grasping for a Supreme Court strategy. A day after Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement announcement, alarmed liberal activists are demanding the hardest possible fight against Donald Trump’s next Supreme Court nominee.

“But moderate Democrats are in no rush to stake out any firm position until the president taps a nominee, and the caucus’ next steps remain murky. A handful of red-state Democratic senators began talking privately on Thursday about carving their own path on the confirmation.

“Other top Democrats are already shifting away from their initial demand to delay a confirmation vote until after the midterm elections and toward a push highlighting the record of Trump’s still-unnamed pick on abortion, health care and more. Senate Democrats want the Supreme Court battle waged on the policy stakes, not the procedural tactics at play. But the party’s outraged base is prodding them to do everything they can to slow down Trump’s nominee, despite their paltry procedural options after the GOP quashed the filibuster for Supreme Court nominations last year.” https://politi.co/2KwfyYn

GAMING OUT THE PICK — “Could a woman be what Trump needs for SCOTUS?” by Josh Gerstein: “No matter whom President Donald Trump picks for the Supreme Court this time around, the nominee is almost certain to come under withering liberal attack as a grave threat to women’s rights. Several conservatives close to the White House, however, say they know just how to blunt that looming assault: Pick a woman for the job.” https://politi.co/2yZGsGC

— L.A. TIMES’ DAVID SAVAGE: “Judges Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett are leading candidates for Supreme Court seat” https://lat.ms/2MwC8AE

CHRIS CADELAGO: “Ahead of summit, U.S. and Russia tussle to control the narrative”: “The announcements from the White House and the Kremlin hit inboxes at roughly the same time on Thursday: President Donald J. Trump and President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation will meet on July 16 in Helsinki, Finland.

“Under previous U.S. presidents, the timing would not have deserved a second glance. But under Trump, whose administration is repeatedly beaten to the punch by Putin aides and the Kremlin on the release of critical information, it could presage a more buttoned-up approach by national security adviser John Bolton ahead of the high-stakes meeting.

“A National Security Council official told POLITICO on Thursday that the countries had an agreement to simultaneously release the meeting announcements. Yet there remains cause for concern, given that Russia is often first to share news with the world. Even tidbits around Bolton’s recent trip to negotiate the bilateral meeting mostly trickled out of the Kremlin before officials in the White House or the NSC could offer confirmation.” https://politi.co/2N8PHaM

PALACE INTRIGUE — “Ayers and Mulvaney eyed as possible Kelly successors,” by Chris Cadelago and Eliana Johnson: “John Kelly has long told associates he wanted to make it a year in the White House, but has been telling people in recent days that he expects to leave his role as President Donald Trump’s chief of staff ‘very soon.’ According to two Republicans close to the White House, the retired Marine general may depart before his July 31 anniversary.

“These people said Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff Nick Ayers is being eyed as a potential successor, a move that would lend considerable political heft as the president steps up his campaigning to help Republicans keep control of Congress and begins to plan for his 2020 campaign. …

But these individuals said that Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney, who emerged as a favorite of Trump’s during the victorious effort to pass tax reform last winter, is also a possible candidate for the top White House post.” https://politi.co/2N308g1

TRUMP’S FRIDAY — The president will give a speech on tax reform in the afternoon. He and first lady Melania Trump are flying later in the afternoon to Bedminster, New Jersey.

SUNDAY SO FAR — “Fox News Sunday”: Leonard Leo … Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) … Panel: Jason Riley, Anne Gearan, Josh Holmes and Mo Elleithee. Power Player (re-air): Leland Melvin, former NASA astronaut and author of “Chasing Space: An Astronaut’s Story of Grit, Grace, and Second Chances”

— NBC’s “Meet the Press”: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez … Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). Panel: Kimberly Atkins, Cornell Belcher, David Brody and Hallie Jackson

— ABC’s “This Week”: Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) … Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.)

— “State of the Union”: Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine). Panel: Rep. Nanette Barragan (D-Calif.), David Urban, Karine Jean-Pierre and Amanda Carpenter

– CNN’s “Inside Politics,” hosted by John King: Mike Shear, Michael Warren and Seung Min Kim

— CBS’ “Face the Nation”: Roberta Jacobson … Mark Salter

PRUITT FILES — “Scott Pruitt Personally Involved in ‘Ratf*cking’ Ex-Aides Who He Feels Betrayed Him,” by the Daily Beast’s Lachlan Markay and Asawin Suebsaeng: “On May 18, a top aide to [EPA] chief Scott Pruitt testified to a congressional committee that she had been tasked with procuring her boss a used mattress from the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. Just days after news of that testimony broke, the aide, Pruitt’s now former director of scheduling Millan Hupp, submitted her resignation. But even though Hupp was gone from the agency, Pruitt wasn’t done with her.

“According to three sources familiar with the conversations, Pruitt was livid over Hupp’s testimony, which he felt had been particularly humiliating. And he personally reached out to allies in the conservative movement, including some at the influential legal group the Federalist Society, to insist that she had lied about, or at least misunderstood, the request for a used Trump mattress. He also stressed that Hupp could not be trusted—the implication being that she should not be hired at their institutions.” https://thebea.st/2ySpycX

ON THE WORLD STAGE — WAPO’s JOSH ROGIN, “Trump is trying to destabilize the European Union”: “During a private meeting at the White House in late April, Trump was discussing trade with French President Emmanuel Macron. At one point, he asked Macron, ‘Why don’t you leave the E.U.?’ and said that if France exited the union, Trump would offer it a bilateral trade deal with better terms than the E.U. as a whole gets from the United States, according to two European officials. The White House did not dispute the officials’ account, but declined to comment.” https://wapo.st/2KiRAE4

WHITE HOUSE DEPARTURE LOUNGE – “Top Ivanka paid-leave staffer departs White House,” by Ian Kullgren: “Maggie Cordish, a close friend of Ivanka Trump and a top adviser to her on paid family leave, has left the White House. There are no plans to replace Cordish, signaling a likely pullback from the Trump White House’s efforts to pass a paid family leave bill in the face of steep congressional resistance.

“But a White House official who confirmed Cordish’s departure said ‘nothing could be further from the truth.’ Staffers from the Domestic Policy Council and the Office of Legislative Affairs, the official said, will continue working on paid leave, reporting to Ivanka Trump. … Although Cordish kept a low profile, she was one of Ivanka Trump’s closest allies in the White House. The two have been friends since they met at the University of Pennsylvania. It was Ivanka Trump who introduced Cordish to her husband, Baltimore real estate magnate Reed Cordish.” https://politi.co/2tSNiZ4

— ANDREW RESTUCCIA and ELIANA JOHNSON: “White House eyeing two candidates to replace Joe Hagin”: “Two internal candidates are emerging as the leading contenders to replace Joe Hagin, the outgoing White House deputy chief of staff for operations, according to two administration officials.

“Daniel Walsh, director of the White House Military Office, and Marcia Lee Kelly, White House director of management and administration, are the top candidates for the job, the officials said. Hagin, who has worked in every Republican administration since Ronald Reagan’s, is slated to leave the White House early next month, taking his decades of experience in Washington with him.” https://politi.co/2lJ4zQI

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HMM — “CBS News interview with ICE whistleblower interrupted by surprise visit from government agents” – CBS News: “In his first television interview, former Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson James Schwab has opened up about why he abruptly resigned in March. But his interview with CBS News’ Jamie Yuccas on Wednesday was unexpectedly interrupted by agents identifying themselves as agents from the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General’s Office.

“‘They just said that they wanted to talk to me about the leak with the Oakland mayor,’ Schwab said of his conversation with the agents. Before the surprise visit, Schwab told Yuccas that both the Obama and Trump White Houses asked him to ‘spin’ information. But he said he felt compelled to resign after the current administration told him to lie about an incident that pitted the government against Oakland’s mayor.” https://cbsn.ws/2tH3rkM

MEDIWATCH — Dan DeLuce is joining NBC News as an investigative reporter for national security and global affairs. He most recently has served as chief national security correspondent for Foreign Policy,

SPOTTED: Reince Priebus flying to Rome and sitting with his family in business class on United #42 from IAD to FCO … Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) at America Eats on M Street.

SPOTTED at a party hosted by CNN’s Brooke Brower for Kate Andersen Brower and the release of her new book, “First in Line: Presidents, Vice Presidents, and the Pursuit of Power” at Sidebar in Washington ($21.14 on Amazon https://amzn.to/2JcLLmI): David Chalian, Kasie Hunt and Matt Rivera, Kevin Madden, Liz Sidoti, Nedra Pickler, Erica Werner, Jonathan and Betsy Fisher Martin, Heidi Przybyla, Jeff Mason, Carol Lee, Michael LaRosa, Abigail Critchfield, Katie Hinman, Steve Scully, Ann Klenk, Richard Hudock, Polson Kanneth, Chris Matthews, Sam Feist, Al Hunt, Julie Mason, Chris Cillizza, Tina Urbanski, Perry Bacon, Mike Dorning, Darlene Superville, Bill McQuillen, Marc Lotter, Nick Johnston, Elise Labott, Rob Hendin, Stephen Collinson, Jon Allen, Liz Allen and Shawna Thomas.

BIRTHWEEK (was yesterday): Leslie Peterson

BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Hanna Trudo, a staff writer covering national politics for National Journal, is 29 on the 29th — a “golden birthday.” An interesting book she’s been reading: “I’m reading ‘No One Can Pronounce My Name’ by Rakesh Satyal. It’s a charming account of Indian immigrants’ experiences in the United States, filled with all sorts of crisp details. I fell in love with it from the very beginning. It’s also an important read that helps humanize the current immigration debate.” Read her Playbook Plus Q&A: https://politi.co/2IzoVoh

BIRTHDAYS: Macon Phillips, chief digital officer at CARE and an Obama WH and State alum, is 4-0 … Laura Rozen (hat tips: Ben Chang) … Cindy Simms, Trump WH legislative affairs alum … Andy Duberstein, principal at Sard Verbinnen … Politico’s Josh Meyer … Evan Perez (h/ts Tim Burger) … Jeff Jones … Carl Forti, political director of American Crossroads super PAC and a founding partner at Black Rock Group, is 46 … Ben Jarrett … Jennifer Pett, comms director for Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) … Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) is 75 … Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) is 74 … Christina Pearson, senior director of PR at Microsoft … former Solicitor General Don Verrilli, a partner with Munger, Tolles & Olson, is 61 … Politico’s Garrett Ross … Emily Spain, LD for Sen. Carper … Kaya Singleton, congressional outreach manager at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (h/ts the ITIF team and Bob Costa) … Max Virkus, legislative aide for Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio), is 3-0 … Rob Duffey … photojournalist Gabriella Demczuk …

… Christian Marrone is 43. He’s celebrating at his shore house in New Jersey (h/t Todd Breasseale) … Jason Ostrander … Cathy Rought, VP at BerlinRosen … Tamera Luzzatto, managing director at Pew Charitable Trusts and board member of the Washington Bach Consort (h/ts Jon Haber) … David Wolf … WaPo’s Danielle Paquette … Hal Brewster … Katie Breen, senior account executive for issues and crisis at Ketchum … Obama WH alum Brian Gabriel … Amy McDonald (hubby tip: Matt) … Amish Shah … Tom DeVor … Harry Hartfield … Katie Zirkelbach, principal at Zirkelbach Strategies … Owen Kilmer … Jacob Levine … Christopher Wenk, VP of gov’t affairs at Kia Motors, is 42 … Bobby Watson is 62 … Ed Black … William Pinzler is 72 … Bruce Soll is 61 … Bridget Luehrsen … Eric Washburn … Patty McHugh (h/ts Teresa Vilmain)

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