First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
WASHINGTON — In 2016, the Trump campaign gladly accepted Russia's help to defeat Hillary Clinton.
And heading into the 2020 race, Rudy Giuliani is headed to Ukraine to push the country's president to pursue an investigation into Joe Biden's son, the New York Times writes.
"We're not meddling in an election, we're meddling in an investigation, which we have a right to do," Giuliani told the Times about his upcoming visit to Ukraine.
"There's nothing illegal about it," he added. "Somebody could say it's improper. And this isn't foreign policy — I'm asking them to do an investigation that they're doing already and that other people are telling them to stop. And I'm going to give them reasons why they shouldn't stop it because that information will be very, very helpful to my client, and may turn out to be helpful to my government."
How isn't this the biggest political story in America right now — Team Trump wants the help from another foreign government to dig up dirt on an opponent?
If you don't think this is a five-alarm scandal — and instead you're shrugging your shoulders at this story — then we've truly gone down the power-hungry rabbit hole, where anything and everything is fair game.
Also: Just because it's in plain sight doesn't make it less problematic.
And Democrats, if you believe this activity is wrong, why aren't you passing legislation RIGHT NOW to stop it?
Trump's foreign-policy tests look even more precarious
On Thursday, we noted how Trump is being tested in international affairs on four different fronts - all after big risks the administration has taken.
A day later, these situations look more precarious, especially when it comes to China, Iran and North Korea.
- Trump raises tariffs on China in trade standoff: "The Trump administration raised import taxes on $200 billion of Chinese imports from 10 percent to 25 percent," per the AP. "China's Commerce Ministry said it would take 'necessary countermeasures' but gave no details." American and Chinese negotiators are in the midst of another round of trade talks.
- U.S. B52 bombers arrive in the Middle East: "The U.S. military said on Tuesday that a number of B-52 bombers would be part of additional forces being sent to the Middle East to counter what the Trump administration says are 'clear indications' of threats from Iran to U.S. forces there," Reuters reports.
- Kim Jong-Un calls for "full combat posture": "The leader of North Korea ordered its military to boost its strike capability as he directed another missile firing, state media said on Friday, as tensions grew over tests that appeared to show preparations for a new advanced missile system," another Reuters report says.
- Lawmakers urge Trump administration not to further intervene in Venezuela: "Talk of possible U.S. military action in Venezuela is prompting bipartisan concern in Congress, where Democrats and Republicans alike cautioned against a rush toward intervention amid escalating rhetoric from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton," USA Today writes.
2020 Vision: Hitting the reset button
Two months ago, if you asked political pundits to predict who might ultimately win the Democratic nomination, quite a few would have said Kamala Harris or Beto O'Rourke.
Since then, both have been stuck in single digits in most polls - eclipsed by Pete-mania or Joe Biden's big entrance into the race.
And behind the scenes, the two campaigns have been undergoing resets and hiring sprees of new staffers.
The New York Times reported earlier this week that Harris is trying to take on Trump more directly, especially after her grilling of Attorney General William Barr last week.
And O'Rourke, meanwhile, has added some new staffers - Barack Obama's 2008 delegate guru (Jeff Berman) and a top digital strategist on Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign (Rob Flaherty).
On the campaign trail
Today: Julian Castro and John Hickenlooper hit Iowa… Beto O'Rourke and John Delaney continue to stump in New Hampshire… Kirsten Gillibrand also campaigns in the Granite State… Elizabeth Warren makes stops in West Virginia and Ohio… Amy Klobuchar visits schools in Yonkers, N.Y…. And Pete Buttigieg raises money in San Francisco.
Saturday: Hickenlooper remains in the Hawkeye State… O'Rourke, Gillibrand and Delaney stay campaigning in New Hampshire… Cory Booker visits South Carolina… And Buttigieg delivers the keynote address at a Human Rights Campaign dinner in Las Vegas.
Sunday (Mother's Day): Booker makes four campaign stops in New Hampshire.
Tweet of the day
Data Download: The number of the day is … 6
That's the number of battleground states that pro-Trump Super PAC "America First" says it will target heading into 2020.
The group says it will pump $300 million into its chosen battlegrounds, per NBC's Monica Alba. (The news was first reported by The Hill.)
Those states are Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia (!).
But it also stuck out to us that there's one notable omission on that list: Wisconsin.
The Lid: E Pluribus Unum...ish?
Don't miss the pod from yesterday, when we delved into new numbers that show the complex story of how Americans view diversity.
ICYMI: New clips you shouldn't miss
Trump's top intel and military advisers held a strange meeting at the CIA on Iran, our national security team reports.
Trump will pickPatrick Shanahan as his next Secretary of Defense.
We now know the venue for the first Democratic debate.
Democrats are getting ready to vote on a series of bills to shore up ACA.
And Cindy McCain is opening upabout life without her late husband.
Other news that's out there…
Trump agenda: A GOP divided on Don Jr.
Republicans are arguing among themselves about the Senate Intel subpoena of Donald Trump Jr.
NBC's Jonathan Allen writes onNancy Pelosi's strategy around investigating the president.
Wait, is there actually a jail in the House basement?
2020: Failing upward?
POLITICO looksat Beto O'Rourke's "long history of failing upward." (Though "failing" depends on how you view Democratic statewide performance in Texas since 1990…)
Party leadersare trying to avoid the acrimony of 2016 in the Democratic caucuses in Iowa.
Stacey Abramsis still floatinga 2020 run.
Joe Biden has a big leadin New Hampshire.