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Trump's protectors hold Democrats at bay

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By Chuck Todd and Mark Murray and Carrie Dann  with NBC News Politics
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Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin prepares to testify on "The President's FY2020 Budget Proposal" before the House Ways and Means Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington on March 14, 2019.   -   Copyright  Jim Watson AFP - Getty Images

WASHINGTON — As Democrats are quickly finding out, gaining control of the House of the Representatives didn't mean the Trump administration was going to roll over on their requests for Trump's taxes and info on the Mueller probe.

After all, the president still controls the executive branch, and he has his protectors inside the administration's top departments.

So on Wednesday, you had Treasury Secretary Mnuchin tell the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee that he wouldn't be able to meet the deadline to turn over the president's tax returns.

(The law clearly states that the committee has the power to request tax returns to be reviewed in a closed executive session.)

Also yesterday, Attorney General William Barr - who earlier summarized the Mueller report in a mere four pages - embraced the GOP talking points on the Russia probe, as NBC's Ken Dilanian writes

"I think spying did occur, yes. I think spying did occur. The question was whether it was adequately predicated," Barr told the Senate Appropriations Committee.

"I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal. It's a big deal," he added.

Note: Using the word "spying" to refer to opening a counterintelligence investigation based on a foreign tip that Russia had dirt on Hillary Clinton, or having surveillance on Carter Page (after he left the Trump campaign) is highly loaded for the nation's top law enforcement official.

Bottom line: Democrats have their work cut out for them when it comes to oversight.

And they're going to have to decide which fights are worth pursuing and which ones might take them down rabbit holes from which they'll never emerge.

Oh, and one other thing: Former Obama aides are asking why THEY got accused of politicizing the IRS, and Trump/Mnuchin aren't….

Assange arrested, U.S. to seek extradition

Early this morning, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested in London.

And NBC's Dilanian reports that the United States is making plans to seek his extradition - in connection with sealed federal charges in the Eastern District of Virginia, according to a source directly familiar with the situation.

The nature of these charges isn't clear.

But here's a reminder of the role WikiLeaks played in the 2016 election:

  • The DNC emails it published - right before the Dem convention - lead to the ouster of party's chairwoman.
  • They created Hillary-vs.-Bernie unrest inside the convention hall.
  • The John Podesta emails it published fueled negative storylines for the Clinton campaign in the last month of the race.
  • And Trump mentioned the word "WikiLeaks" some 140 times in that last month.

2020 Vision: Warren raised $6 million

Elizabeth Warren's campaign announced on Wednesday that it raked in $6 million for the first fundraising quarter.

Here's how her numbers stack up against the other 2020 Dem campaigns that have released their numbers.

Total raised

  • Bernie Sanders: $18.2 million in 41 days
  • Kamala Harris: $12 million in 70 days
  • Beto O'Rourke: $9.4 million in 18 days
  • Pete Buttigieg: $7 million in 68 days
  • Elizabeth Warren: $6 million in 90 days
  • Amy Klobuchar: $5.2 million in 50 days
  • Cory Booker: $5 million-plus in 59 days

Total raised (average per day)

  • O'Rourke: $552K
  • Sanders: $444K
  • Harris: $171K
  • Klobuchar: $104K
  • Buttigieg: $103K
  • Booker: $85K
  • Warren: $67K

On the campaign trail today

Kamala Harris remains in Iowa, attending a house party in Des Moines… Eric Swalwell also is in the Hawkeye State… Tim Ryan stumps in New Hampshire… Julian Castro has his town hall on CNN… And Joe Biden speaks at the University of Pennsylvania.

The Lid: (Not-so) Great Expectations

Don't miss the pod from yesterday, when we looked at how changing expectations about Elizabeth Warren's fundraising changed how her $6 million Q1 haul was perceived.

Tweet of the day

Data Download: The number of the day is … 46 percent.

Forty-six percent.

That's Trump's approval rating among registered voters in Wisconsin, according to a new Marquette University Law School poll. Fifty-two percent of voters disapprove.

Overall views of the president are basically unchanged from Trump's 44 percent approve/52 percent disapprove rating in the same poll in January, before the release of the attorney general's summary of the Mueller probe's findings.

The new survey also found little change since January in Trump's re-election chances.

Forty-six percent of voters in the state say they'll definitely vote for someone else in 2020, with an additional eight percent saying they will probably vote for someone else.

A total of 42 percent of Wisconsin voters say they'll definitely (28 percent) or probably (14 percent) back him in the presidential election.

ICYMI: News clips you shouldn't miss

Kamala Harris has her first major Iowa endorsement.

Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker were the big hits at the North American Building Trades Unions conference.

The DNC is launching a hyper-local effort to poke at Trump along the campaign trail.

Pete Buttigieg is challenging the right on ground that conservatives have long claimed as their own: Christian faith.

Former Obama White House counsel Greg Craig expects to be charged over his work with Paul Manafort on Ukraine.

And here's other news that's out there…

Trump agenda: Push it real good…

NBC's Jonathan Allen writes that Trump is pushing the bounds of his power.

Donald Trump's sister is retiring, which ends an investigation into her conduct over dubious tax schemes involving her siblings.

2020: The Six Million Dollar Woman

Here's Ali Vitali on Elizabeth Warren's fundraising numbers.

Sanders has unveiled his newest Medicare for All bill. But how exactly would it get passed?

A next frontier of campaign finance transparency? Advocacy groups want 2020 candidates to name their bundlers.

Jay Inslee says Democrats should scrap impeachment talk.

Trump's team is rushing to the defense of party-switcher Gov. Jim Justice in West Virginia.

POLITICO has a deep dive on the Texas Senate race.

And the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) is announcing Austin Chambers as its new president.