The Daily 202: Trump’s children become bigger liabilities for the White House, complicate damage-control efforts – Washington Post

With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve

THE BIG IDEA: You can’t fire family.

A voter asked Hillary Clinton during one of the debates last October to say something positive about Donald Trump. Amid an especially nasty campaign — when her opponent was encouraging chants of “lock her up” during his rallies — she didn’t hesitate. “I respect his children,” the former secretary of state said. “His children are incredibly able and devoted and I think that says a lot about Donald.”

Clinton certainly wouldn’t give that answer anymore, especially after what’s transpired this week.

Trump yesterday defended Donald Jr.’s sit-down with a Russian attorney during last year’s campaign, saying “zero” improprieties occurred and “most people would have taken” the meeting.

“He’s a good boy,” the president said during a gaggle on Air Force One. “He’s a good kid.”

“My son is a wonderful young man,” the president added during a news conference in Paris.

In fact, Don Jr. is 39. He’s the same age as the president of France, Emmanuel Macron, who was standing next to Trump when he said that. Both kids/boys/young men — whatever he wants to call them — were born in 1977.

Don Jr. pulled his brother-in-law Jared Kushner, who is 36, into a meeting with someone he was told had dirt on Clinton from the Russian government. Then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who is 68, also attended.

A youthful indiscretion this was not.

It’s also a reminder that you don’t have to be young to be stupid.

Perhaps most importantly, though, Trump’s spirited defense offered a window into how much more complex dealing with the Russia scandal is for the White House when multiple members of the president’s family are now implicated.

– Trump’s embrace of a kind of nepotism that’s historically been more common in banana republics than the first world continues to backfire on him — creating a myriad of legal and political headaches. And they’re probably only going to get worse.

Trump has no problem shunting aside staff when he concludes that they’ve outlived their usefulness to him or become more trouble than they’re worth. In addition to Manafort, there’s a cast of characters from Sam Nunberg to Corey Lewandowski, Carter Page and Michael Flynn. Other fall guys have been left in Trump’s wake, especially if you broaden your time horizon to include the casinos he drove into bankruptcy and his many other failures in business.

Remember when White House press secretary Sean Spicer ludicrously claimed that Manafort, who ran the campaign for months, “played a very limited role for a very limited period of time”? Or when Sean insisted that Flynn, the former national security adviser, was merely a “volunteer of the campaign”?

But, as The Fix’s Aaron Blake notes, “Disowning or minimizing his own family isn’t really an option for Trump.”

– Most White House aides are trying to protect the principal: the president and, really, the presidency itself. But Trump himself seems focused primarily on protecting his personal interests, which includes his family. He was reportedly involved in the preparation of Don Jr.’s initial, misleading statement to the New York Times, which claimed the meeting with the Russian lawyer was about adoption. The personal and the political have come into conflict quite a lot over the past week, and by all indications they will continue to.

– This has exasperated Republicans on Capitol Hill. Rep. Bill Flores (R-Tex.) said on-the-record what many feel privately when he told the Texas CBS affiliate KBT: “I’m going out on a limb here, but I would say that I think it would be in the president’s best interest if he removed all of his children from the White House. Not only Donald Trump, but Ivanka and Jared Kushner.”

– The president’s shifting version of events continues to unravel in other ways. Trump has maintained that he was unaware of his eldest son’s June 2016 meeting with the Russian lawyer until right before the New York Times broke the story. He said on Wednesday night that he “just heard about it two or three days ago.”

Yahoo News’ Michael Isikoff now reports that Marc Kasowitz, Trump’s personal attorney, and Alan Garten, the top lawyer for the Trump Organization, were both informed about the emails three weeks ago by Kushner’s legal team. “The discovery of the emails prompted Kushner to amend his security clearance form to reflect the meeting, which he had failed to report when he originally sought [his security clearance],” Isikoff writes. “That revision — his second — to the so-called SF-86, was done on June 21. The change to the security form prompted the FBI to question Kushner on June 23, the second time he was interviewed by agents about his security clearance … But the information that Trump’s lawyers were told about the emails in June raises questions about why they would not have immediately informed the president. Pushing back the discovery of the emails to the third week in June also raises additional questions about the initial public statements made by the White House after the existence of the meeting was first reported.”

– Kasowitz has labored to underscore the potential risk to the president if he engages without a lawyer in discussions with other people under scrutiny in the investigation, including Kushner. Philip Rucker, Ashley Parker and Devlin Barrett have some fantastic reporting this morning on the growing tensions behind the scenes: “Nearly two months after Trump retained outside counsel to represent him in the investigations of alleged Russian meddling in last year’s election, his and Kushner’s attorneys are struggling to enforce traditional legal boundaries to protect their clients, according to half a dozen people with knowledge of the internal dynamics and ongoing interactions … A third faction could complicate the dynamic further. Trump’s eldest child, Donald Trump Jr., hired his own criminal defense attorney this week … Trump Jr. also is considering hiring his own outside public relations team. …

“The challenge for President Trump’s attorneys has become, at its core, managing the unmanageable — their client. He won’t follow instructions. After one meeting in which they urged Trump to steer clear of a certain topic, he sent a tweet about that very theme before they arrived back at their office. He won’t compartmentalize. With aides, advisers and friends breezing in and out of the Oval Office, it is not uncommon for the president to suddenly turn the conversation to Russia — a subject that perpetually gnaws at him — in a meeting about something else entirely. … Senior White House officials are increasingly reluctant to discuss the issue internally or publicly and worry about overhearing sensitive conversations, for fear of legal exposure. … As in Trump’s West Wing, lawyers on the outside teams have been deeply distrustful of one another and suspicious of motivations. They also are engaged in a circular firing squad of private speculation about who may have disclosed information about Trump Jr.’s meeting…”

Trump, for his part, is also now trying to force the Republican Party to pick up his legal tab. Another scoop from Phil, Ashley and Devlin’s story: “Some in Trump’s orbit are pushing the Republican National Committee to bear the costs … Although the RNC does have a legal defense fund, it well predates the Russia investigations and is intended to be used for legal challenges facing the Republican Party, such as a potential election recount. The RNC has not made a decision, in part because the committee is still researching whether the money could legally be used to help pay legal costs related to Russia. But many within the organization are resisting the effort, thinking it would be more appropriate to create a separate legal defense fund for the case. … The White House has not said whether Trump, Kushner and other officials are paying their legal bills themselves or whether they are being covered by an outside entity.”

– Kasowitz, who is clearly under heavy strain, lashed out at a random stranger who criticized him in an email on Wednesday – firing off a blizzard of threatening, profanity-laced responses.  ProPublica’s Justin Elliott got the emails

– Because of the nature of their work inside the White House, the president’s daughter and son-in-law pose a unique set of additional problems.

Kushner has been pushing internally this week for a more aggressive defense of Trump Jr.’s meeting, which he also attended, but he has faced resistance from some of Trump’s top press aides. Sources tell Politico’s Tara Palmeri that “Kushner wants the White House to more aggressively push out surrogates and talking points to change the narrative … But some of the communications aides, including [Spicer] … have expressed reservations. They say it’s best to leave it to outside counsel to handle the furor around Trump Jr., and fear inviting further legal jeopardy if Trump aides and allies more forcefully defend a meeting that they don’t fully know the details of. …  After hours of little defense from the White House on Tuesday following Trump Jr.’s release of the email chain … Kushner spoke with Spicer and [Sarah] Huckabee Sanders. During the conversation, Spicer and Sanders made the case for crafting a longer-term battle strategy … but Kushner called for full-on combat.”

Remember, The Post reported back in May that Kushner was already a focal point of the Russia investigation. He met last December with Russia’s ambassador to the United States and a banker with ties to the Kremlin. The Post has also reported that Sergey Kislyak told Moscow that Kushner floated the idea of a secret communications channel — or back channel — with Moscow.

“Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have tried their best to soar gracefully above the raging dumpster fire that is the Trump administration. Unhappily for the handsome couple, gravity makes no allowances for charm,” Eugene Robinson quips in his column for today’s paper. “Kushner, already reported to be a ‘person of interest’ in the Justice Department probe of President Trump’s campaign, is arguably the individual with the most to lose from the revelation that the campaign did, after all, at least attempt to collude with the Russian government to boost Trump’s chances of winning the election. … Jared and Ivanka have first-class educations. They know how the Icarus story ends.

Kushner’s own business interests exposes the White House in other ways, as well. One of the most under-covered stories this week came from The Intercept: “Not long before a major crisis ripped through the Middle East, pitting the United States and a bloc of Gulf countries against Qatar, Jared Kushner’s real estate company had unsuccessfully sought a critical half-billion-dollar [bailout] from one of the richest and most influential men in the tiny nation … Kushner is a senior adviser to President Trump … and also the scion of a New York real estate empire that faces an extreme risk from an investment made by Kushner in the building at 666 Fifth Avenue, where the family is now severely underwater.”

– Don Jr. is on the cover of next week’s Time Magazine. It’s not one that will get framed and hung in Trump Tower.

The Atlantic’s Molly Ball explains that Don Jr. has always been “The Troublemaker”: “Many years ago, when his eldest son was still a boy, Donald Trump was interviewed by Barbara Walters, along with his family. Which child, she asked … did he consider the troublemaker in the family? Trump didn’t hesitate for a moment. ‘Don,’ he shot back … An angry and petulant youth, he actually didn’t fully buy into Trumphood until after college … [and] at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, Don was known mostly for drinking and picking fights. Brash, strong-willed, risk-taking: These qualities made Don Jr. the most visible of the Trump children during the campaign. But this week’s revelations … cast those same qualities in a different light … Once again, Don Jr. is his father’s troublemaker, but this time the trouble is much more than fun and games. On Wednesday, I texted Don and asked how he was doing. ‘Fantastic,’ he wrote back—followed by the ‘laughing crying’ emoji. He declined to comment further.”

– Speaking of progeny: Ronald Reagan’s daughter, Patti Davis, has written a post on her blog entitled “THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING.The former first daughter expresses alarm: “One man, whose arrogance and ego lead him trippingly into chaos of his own making, can turn a shining city on the hill into a shadowy, taudry replica of itself. … If he was quiet for five minutes he might hear the echo of (Vladimir) Putin’s laughter carried on the wind across countries and oceans. But Trump’s ego is a loud, boisterous thing and will never allow him to hear anything that might cause him to reflect. … Our democracy, and the dignity of America, is wounded and bleeding out. It doesn’t mean that it can’t be restored and healed, but not by this administration. And it will only get worse if those intent on making excuses continue saying that Trump and his extended family are new at this governing thing, and are just bumbling a bit.”

IF YOU READ ONE STORY TODAY:

– Ivanka’s business practices collide with several of the key principles that she and her father purport to champion in the White House. An investigative report by Matea Gold, Drew Harwell, Maher Sattar and Simon Denyer went live at 6 a.m.: “While President Trump has chastised companies for outsourcing jobs overseas, an examination by The Washington Post has revealed the extent to which Ivanka Trump’s (clothing) company relies exclusively on foreign factories … where low-wage laborers have limited ability to advocate for themselves. And while Ivanka Trump published a book this spring declaring that improving the lives of working women was ‘my life’s mission,’ The Post found that her company lags behind many in the apparel industry when it comes to monitoring the treatment of the largely female workforce employed in factories around the world…

“In China, where three activists investigating factories making her line were recently arrested, assembly-line workers produce Ivanka Trump woven blouses, shoes and handbags. Laborers in Indonesia stitch together her dresses and knit tops. Suit jackets are assembled in Vietnam, cotton tops in India and denim pants in Bangladesh … And in Ethiopia, where manufacturers have boasted of paying workers a fifth of what they earn in Chinese factories, workers made … Ivanka Trump-brand shoes

“Trump [who last weekend sat in her for her father during a meeting at the G-20] still owns her company … Her attorney Jamie Gorelick told The Post in a statement that Trump is ‘concerned’ about recent reports regarding the treatment of factory workers and ‘expects that the company will respond appropriately.’ … The company still has no immediate plans to follow the emerging industry trend of publishing the names and locations of factories that produce its goods.” Her line also declined to disclose the language of a code of conduct that it claims prohibits physical abuse and child labor.

The Post used data drawn from U.S. customs logs and international shipping records to trace Trump-branded products from far-flung factories to ports around the United States. The Post also interviewed workers at three garment factories that have made Trump products who said their jobs often come with exhausting hours, subsistence pay and insults from supervisors if they don’t work fast enough. … ‘My monthly salary is not enough for everyday expenses, also not for the future,’ said a 26-year-old sewing operator in Subang, Indonesia, who said she has helped make Trump dresses.

The 4,800-word piece by my colleagues, which includes a lot of quotes like that, is well worth your time. Dogged, on-the-ground reporting vividly illustrates how sharply at odds Ivanka’s rhetoric is with the reality of how she’s done business.

Here is one especially memorable vignette: “Financial insecurity is a constant companion for the predominantly female workforce at PT Buma, a factory in Indonesia’s West Java province that produced a batch of Ivanka-branded knit dresses … K., a 26-year-old sewing-machine operator, told The Post that she makes the equivalent of $173 a month, the region’s minimum wage. … She said she spends $23 to rent her small studio in the bustling factory town of Subang, where she sleeps on a mattress on the floor and hangs her clothes from a string hung along the wall. She saves the rest for her 2-year-old daughter but worries she will not be able to afford elementary school fees, which can cost as much as $225 a year. With no child care, K. is forced to leave the toddler at home with her parents in their village, a journey of about 90 minutes away by motorbike across the rice fields. On the weekend, she joins an exodus of parents from Subang who clamber onto motorbikes and into shared vans, racing home for brief reunions. ‘I really miss the moments when we play together,’ K. said. … For K., the dresses she has helped produce — which retail for as much as $138 — seem as out of reach as the daughter of the U.S. president herself…”

All the labels on Ivanka Trump’s newest denim collection, showcased at Lord & Taylor, brandish her #WomenWhoWork slogan: “The labels on the jeans (also) show they were made for G-III Apparel in Bangladesh, whose garment industry has weathered a series of deadly factory disasters, including a 2013 building collapse that killed more than 1,100 workers. In its wake, Disney pulled its production out of the country, and brands such as Walmart and Gap said they paid for safety training for factory managers. Shipping records do not reveal which factories in the country produce Ivanka Trump goods, and both the brand and G-III refused to say … Along with facing safety risks, Bangladeshi garment workers toil for one of the world’s lowest minimum wages. ‘We are the ultra-poor,’ said Kalpona Akter, a Bangladeshi labor organizer and former garment worker who was first hired by a factory at the age of 12. ‘We are making you beautiful, but we are starving.’

“In December, thousands of workers seeking higher pay went on strike outside Dhaka (the capital city). In response, police rounded up and arrested several dozen labor organizers, and factory owners filed criminal complaints against hundreds of workers … An estimated 1,500 garment workers were suspended or fired. … A number of apparel brands have called on factories to halt the worker crackdown. … Trump’s brand and G-III have not publicly addressed (it). … In recent years, hundreds of clothing lines and manufacturers have poured millions into financing safety improvements in garment factories through two major initiatives … Neither Trump’s company nor G-III Apparel has contributed to those efforts.” (Read the full story here.)

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

– Trump attended the military parade for France’s Bastille Day in Paris. James McAuley and Jenna Johnson report: “A military band struck up and vintage tanks and other military equipment began rolling into the square as a video shot in action-movie style explained the technological advances France has made since World War I … Even from a distance, the president could be seen eagerly leaning forward in his seat of honor and gesturing to his wife or Macron as each new spectacle came forth. During short lulls, Trump would pull Macron in for a conversation … The president was largely shielded from any dissent and from a ‘Don’t Let Your Guard Down Against Trump’ protest march that started more than a mile away from where he sat.” 

– Overruling the Trump administration, a federal judge in Hawaii ruled that grandparents should be exempt from the travel ban. Samantha Schmidt reports: “U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson ruled Thursday night that the federal government’s list of family relatives eligible to bypass the travel ban should be expanded to include grandparents, grandchildren, uncles, aunts and other relatives. Watson also ordered exemptions for refugees who have been given formal assurance from agencies placing them in the United States. In Watson’s ruling, he said the government’s definition of what constitutes close family ‘represents the antithesis of common sense.’ ‘Common sense, for instance, dictates that close family members be defined to include grandparents,’ Watson wrote. ‘Indeed, grandparents are the epitome of close family members. The Government’s definition excludes them. That simply cannot be.’”

GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. A Pennsylvania man confessed to participating in the slaying of four young men in Bucks County — all of whom were between the ages of 19 and 22, and vanished in the past week from the Philadelphia suburb. The suspect was arrested one day earlier after authorities found one of the bodies in a 12-foot grave on his parent’s property. (Joel Achenbach, Mark Berman and Samantha Schmidt)
  2. Nobel Peace Prize winner and Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo died at 61. Xiaobo received the prize for his “long and nonviolent struggle for fundamental human rights,” which included a hunger strike in Tiananmen Square. (Harrison Smith)

  3. Two former congressional staffers were charged in the cyberstalking of a House member and her husband. The two individuals allegedly circulated nude images and video of Virgin Islands Del. Stacey Plaskett. Both are believed to have served in her legislative office. (Spencer S. Hsu)
  4. A federal appeals court overturned the corruption conviction of Sheldon Silver, the once powerful New York Assembly speaker who was charged with obtaining nearly $4 million in illicit payments. In vacating the convictions, judges relied on last year’s Supreme Court ruling involving former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell (R), which narrowed the definition of bribery. (New York Times)
  5. The DOJ announced charges against 400 people accused of illegally profiting off  the opioid epidemic. The crackdown focused on doctors who allegedly prescribed unnecessary opiates and medical facilities that offered addicts unnecessary treatments for large sums. (NBC News)

  6. Jimmy Carter was taken to the hospital after collapsing from dehydration in Winnipeg, where the 92-year-old former president was helping build a Habitat for Humanity home. “President Carter has been working hard all week,” a statement from the Carter Center explained. “He was dehydrated working in the hot sun and has been taken offsite for observation. He encourages everyone to stay hydrated and keep building.” ( Alex Horton)
  7. Paul Ryan has asked a top House chamber official to “modernize” the Speaker’s Lobby dress code, moving to revisit an old rule requiring women cover their shoulders. (Politico)
  8. The man who breached White House grounds in March and roamed free for 17 minutes pleaded guilty. Jonathan T. Tran will face sentencing for one count of knowingly entering and remaining on restricted grounds later this year. (Spencer S. Hsu)

  9. Columbia University settled a lawsuit with the alleged rapist of “mattress girl” Emma Sulkowicz. Paul Nungesser claimed that Columbia had violated his Title IX rights by “abetting the woman’s gender-based harassment.” (T. Rees Shapiro)

  10. Five lawmakers who head anti-human trafficking groups pressed Jeff Sessions to launch a criminal investigation of Backpage.com, after a trove of documents revealed that the classifieds website hired a company based in the Philippines to allegedly facilitate online sex trafficking. (Jonathan O’Connell and Tom Jackman)
  11. A new study says climate change may cause polar bears to turn to humans as a food source. The higher temperatures rise, scientists said, the more likely they are to interact with people (and possibly make them their lunch.) (Cleve R. Wootson Jr.)
  12. FanDuel and DraftKings dropped their plans for a merger. The two fantasy sports giants abandoned the idea after the Federal Trade Commission announced it would block the merger because it would give the companies an unfair advantage. (Alex Schiffer)     
  13. A Kansas State offensive lineman says he was “embraced with open arms” after he came out as gay to his teammates — telling ESPN this week that after choosing to do so, he “never felt so loved and accepted ever in my life.” He is one of just two openly gay players at college football’s top level. (Matt Bonesteel)
  14. A wild lioness was photographed for the first time nursing a baby leopard. A lion expert called the interspecies encounter “unprecedented.” (Karin Brulliard)

  15. Beyoncé shared the first photo of her twins on Instagram. Sir and Rumi Carter were reportedly born last month, but the pop star and her husband, Jay-Z, had not yet officially confirmed the news. (Travis M. Andrews)

  16. A Girl Scouts troop formed at a Queens homeless shelter in February will expand to 14 more shelters. The troop expects to serve about 500 girls. (New York Times

  17. A policeman in Corpus Christi, Tex., this week was flagged down with an usual tip — a nearby ATM was dispensing not just cash, but handwritten notes for help. When he went to investigate, he heard a small voice coming from the machine — and a man who had accidentally gotten himself stuck inside. (Alex Horton)

– Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) is listed in fair condition after undergoing another surgery related to the shooting at practice for the congressional baseball game:

NEW HEALTH BILL, SAME BIG PROBLEMS:

– Mitch McConnell released a new draft of health-care legislation after weeks of work to unite conservative and moderates. Sean Sullivan, Juliet Eilperin and Kelsey Snell report: “But within hours, it was clear that Senate leaders still didn’t have the votes to fulfill their long-standing quest to replace former president Barack Obama’s 2010 health-care law … At least three Republicans quickly signaled opposition to the bill, casting doubt on McConnell’s plans to pass the bill next week … Moderate Republicans remained concerned Thursday that the new proposal would make insurance unaffordable for some ­middle-income Americans and throw millions off the rolls of Medicaid … Yet conservatives continued to push for a more wholesale rollback of the ACA — highlighting the danger for all Republicans of failing to achieve a promise most of them made on the campaign trail.”

The new draft keeps much of the original’s core architecture, including deep cuts to Medicaid, along with some additional funding for moderate Republicans’ projects:

  • “(It) would lift many of the ACA’s regulatory requirements, allowing insurers to offer bare-bones policies without coverage for services such as preventive or mental-health care.”
  • “It would also direct billions of dollars to help lower- and middle-income Americans buy plans on the private market.”
  • “For those in the center, the new proposal would spend an additional $70 billion offsetting consumers’ costs and $45 billion to treat opioid addiction.”
  • “Republicans financed these changes by keeping a trio of Obamacare taxes targeting high earners — a 3.8 percent tax on net investment income and a 0.9 percent Medicare payroll tax on individuals making $200,000 a year or couples earning $250,000.”
  • “The McConnell plan would allow Americans to pay for premiums with money from tax-exempt health savings accounts, an idea that many conservatives have pushed for — a tax break that primarily would benefit the upper middle class.”

Just before McConnell released his bill, GOP Sens. Bill Cassidy (La.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.) took to CNN to announce their own separate plan: “Cassidy and Graham said they would take the billions of dollars the federal government now receives in taxes under the ACA and direct that revenue to the states. The plan did not appear to be gaining traction — Graham said he would vote to start debate on McConnell’s bill — but its introduction underscored the extent to which a growing number of GOP senators have started looking beyond the current effort, with diminishing confidence that it will prevail.

– As expected, two of the ‘No’ votes are moderate Sen. Susan Collins and conservative Sen. Rand Paul, who both said they would oppose the motion to proceed with McConnell’s new draft. Seven other Republican senators have indicated at least “concern” about the proposed legislation. (Amber Phillips has been taking point on our up-to-date whip count.)

– To understand Republicans’ dilemma, look no further than Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.). Paul Kane writes: “The Coloradan, a rising star who defeated a Democratic incumbent in 2014, leads the campaign committee responsible for protecting and expanding the GOP majority … But he has remained below the radar, both back home and inside the Capitol, declining to take a position on legislation that would replace portions of the Affordable Care Act. For starters, he has home-state interests that make this one of the more difficult roll calls of his career … Gardner also has to concern himself with his own reelection in 2020, a presidential cycle with a political climate different from that of his first Senate race in one of the nation’s marquee swing states, when he campaigned heavily for ‘repeal and replace.’”

– Trump urged Republicans to pass their bill, which he vowed to sign, in a tweetstorm from France early morning U.S. time:

HOW IT’S PLAYING (hint, not so well):

In the mainstream media:

– Bloomberg News, “GOP Health Bill Steers Cash to the Home State of a Reluctant Senator,” by Anna Edney, Hannah Recht and Laura Litvan: “Call it the Polar Payoff. Changes made to the Republican legislation to repeal large parts of Obamacare would send hundreds of millions of extra federal dollars to Alaska, whose Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski has been holding off from giving her much-needed vote to the bill. Under formulas in the revised legislation, only Alaska appears to qualify for the extra money.”

– The Nevada Independent, “Sandoval: Early take on health bill is that not much changed, it’s still cause for ‘great concern,’” by Megan Messerly, Riley Snyder and Michelle Rindels: “Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, whose opinions weigh heavily in Republican Sen. Dean Heller’s decisions about pending health care legislation, said his preliminary understanding is that the Senate’s latest version isn’t much different than before and ‘thus it would cause me great concern.’”

– New York Times, “Senate Republicans Unveil New Health Bill, but Divisions Remain,” by Robert Pear and Thomas Kaplan: “If enacted, the bill would be a sharp departure from more than a half-century of efforts by Congress and presidents of both parties to expand health insurance coverage, through a patchwork of federal programs.”

– The Post, “The Senate bill’s changes won over some conservatives but offered little to moderates,” by Kim Soffen, Benjamin Din and Kevin Uhrmacher: “The biggest change to the bill, pushed by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), allows insurance companies to offer bare-bones health-care plans and charge sicker people more than healthy people, as long as they also offer at least one plan that complies with the ACA’s standards. This change moves the bill to the right in an attempt to sway conservative votes.”

– Wall Street Journal, “New Senate Health Bill Aims to Bridge GOP Gaps, But Resistance Remains,” by Stephanie Armour and Kristina Peterson: “Democrats derided the new bill as essentially the same as the old one, which polls suggested was deeply unpopular. And they said the Cruz measure would let insurers sell bare-bones policies that do little to protect consumers.”

– Politico, “Senate Republicans one vote away from Obamacare repeal failure,” by Burgess Everett and Jennifer Haberkorn: “GOP leaders are putting immense pressure on about half a dozen other Republican senators not to join [Collins and Paul in opposing the motion to proceed with the bill] and topple the entire effort. Another ‘no’ is enough to kill the bill, and would also likely lead to mass defections.”

– Vox, “The new Senate health care bill — and the return of preexisting conditions — explained,” by Sarah Kliff: “Even with these new changes, the general structure of the bill stays the same from its original draft, which was itself largely similar to the bill that passed the House in the spring.”

– New York Times, “Revised Senate Health Bill Tries to Win Votes, but Has Fewer Winners,” by Margot Sanger-Katz: “It would still make insurance much less affordable for poorer and older Americans who don’t get coverage through work or Medicare. It would make that insurance less valuable for many people with the most significant health care needs. The biggest beneficiaries of the original bill — the rich — would get less.”

– Politico, “Insurance experts question Cruz’s assertion about single risk pool,” by Jennifer Haberkorn and Paul Demko: “While it’s true that the Cruz amendment does not repeal the Obamacare section that establishes a single risk pool, in practice it could introduce chaos into the market. The reason: There’s no practical way to regulate plans with no uniform coverage rules as a single insurance market.”

– Independent Journal Review, “Senate Republicans are Considering Alternative Scoring for Cruz Amendment Instead of Waiting for CBO,” by Haley Byrd: “Republicans are considering using alternative scoring methods for a version of [Cruz's] Consumer Freedom Option in order to proceed with their health care push next week rather than waiting for the Congressional Budget Office’s assessment.”

– The Post, “As long as the Republican bill cuts Medicaid coverage, it’s likely to be unpopular,” by Philip Bump: “Medicaid is very popular with Americans, and cuts to it — even rollbacks to the expansion that occurred under Obamacare — are likely to draw enormous political pushback.”

And from the opinion-makers:

– The Post, “The new Senate health-care bill may be worse than the old one,” by the Editorial Board: “In their revision, Senate leaders tried to blunt the charge that the GOP wants to cut poor people’s health care to fund tax cuts for the rich. Taxes on wealthy people’s investment income were indeed maintained. But the bill would deeply slash Medicaid … And it would still use the savings to fund an array of tax cuts.”

– Wall Street Journal, “ObamaCare Moment of Truth,” by WSJ Editorial Board: “Moderates never objected to the repeal-and-replace agenda and surely benefitted from the slogan politically, yet some are still threatening to vote against even allowing a debate. If what they really want is ObamaCare, they should have said so earlier.”

– New York Times, “A Scary New Senate Health Care Bill,” by NYT Editorial Board: “The biggest losers in the new bill are the sick … Senators who vote for this bill will send a simple message to their constituents: Get sick, and you are on your own.”

THE TRUMP AGENDA:

– Although Trump seems thirty for legislative victories, he also shows no interest in the gritty work required to achieve them. Abby Phillip and Robert Costa report this morning: “The president has treated health care and a host of other legislative agenda items, from taxes to infrastructure, as issues to be hammered out by lawmakers with often-scant direction from the executive branch — and with decidedly mixed signals from Trump himself.  Trump’s sporadic salesmanship on the bills and ambitions lingering on Capitol Hill has become a defining characteristic of the complicated relationship between the president and congressional Republicans. Although Trump routinely proclaims his desire for political victories, he has yet to make a full-throated case to the country about legislation that Congress is pursuing and has spent a modest amount of time attempting to twist arms in the House or Senate.” 

– A new CBO report found that Trump’s budget proposal would not add to economic growth or eliminate the deficit in coming years — raising big questions about how Trump’s White House plans to deliver on one of its biggest agenda items. Damian Paletta, Ana Swanson and Max Ehrenfreund report: “The CBO projected that the economy would grow at only 1.9 percent under the White House’s plan — far below the 3 percent goal the administration continued to outline as recently as Thursday. It also warned that contrary to White House claims that deep cuts to the safety net in the budget would lead to a financial surplus in a decade, the deficit would actually be $720 billion. The report was one of several big questions that emerged Thursday about whether Trump would be able to deliver on the central promises of his populist agenda for governing.”

– Trump called for a transparent border wall and gave an extended account of his meeting with Vladimir Putin, telling reporters on Air Force One that he stopped questioning the Russian president about election meddling after two attempts, because, “What do you do? End up in a fistfight?” The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman and Mark Landler report: “Mr. Trump reiterated his denial [of Russian collusion, saying] it was a media witch hunt abetted by the Democrats, who he said had overplayed their hand. ‘When they say ‘treason,’ you know what treason is? That’s Julius and Ethel Rosenberg for giving the atomic bomb, O. K.?’ … China and North Korea are also skilled at hacking, he said, pointing out that the North Koreans had infiltrated the internal computers of Sony Pictures. ‘I’m not saying it wasn’t Russia,’ Mr. Trump said. ‘What I’m saying is that we have to protect ourselves no matter who it is.’

“He also noted that the [U.S.] had begun renegotiating a trade agreement with South Korea, which he described as a ‘bad deal’ and a ‘Hillary Clinton beauty.’ President George W. Bush originally negotiated the South Korea trade deal in 2007. Turning to immigration, Mr. Trump said he had not been joking when he said recently that a wall on the Mexican border would pay for itself… [and said] the wall would have to be transparent, using an offbeat example to explain why. ‘When they throw large sacks of drugs over, and if you have people on the other side of the wall, you don’t see them — they hit you on the head with 60 pounds of stuff? It’s over,’ he said. ‘As crazy as that sounds, you need transparency through that wall.’”

– Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said that too many students had been unfairly treated because of the Obama administration’s policies on campus sexual assault, but didn’t say how she would fix things. Emma Brown reports: “‘No student should feel like there isn’t a way to seek justice, and no student should feel that the scales are tipped against him or her,’ she told reporters Thursday afternoon, following what she called an ‘emotionally draining’ series of meetings with college administrators, survivors of assault and students who said they were falsely accused and wrongly disciplined … Advocates for accused students have been pleased to have the ear of the Trump administration, seeing an opening to roll back Obama-era policies that they argue have results in biased campus sexual assault investigations … But advocates for survivors of sexual assault have been alarmed by what they view as DeVos’s outsize interest in hearing from wrongfully accused students, given that only a small fraction of rape reports are found to be false.”

DeVos’s meetings were complicated by remarks from her the acting assistant secretary for civil rights, Candice Jackson, who claimed without evidence that the vast majority of rape claims were false. Katie Mettler reports: “[Jackson] made the comments in a New York Times story published Wednesday that prompted backlash from critics who said the comments perpetuated harmful stereotypes of sexual assault victims. Many investigations don’t reveal ‘that these accused students overrode the will of a young woman,’ Jackson, whose office tracks Title IX violations, told the Times. ‘Rather, the accusations — 90 percent of them — fall into the category of “we were both drunk,” “we broke up, and six months later I found myself under a Title IX investigation because she just decided that our last sleeping together was not quite right,”’ Jackson said.”

– A new State Department directive could extend Trump’s “travel ban” to many more countries. Politico’s Nahal Toosi and Ted Hesson report: “The [consular guidance], which the State Department sent out Wednesday, follows through on Trump’s March 6 executive order, which called for a worldwide review of visa security measures by the [DHS].  It’s unclear whether the cable’s strict vetting procedures will eventually supplant the administration’s ban on travel from six majority-Muslim countries … or whether even more restrictive vetting will be devised for those countries. The tighter standards for granting visas will be implemented over a 50-day period, according to the cable. If nations do not comply after that time, ‘designated categories’ of travelers from those countries could be banned from the U.S., the cable said. Among the new requirements are biometric images on passports and for countries to provide the U.S. with additional biographical information about travelers.”

– The White House commission on combating the opioid epidemic will miss a second deadline to file a report on the drug crisis. CBS News’s Jacqueline Alemany reports: “[Trump tasked] the commission with studying the federal government’s response to the growing opioid epidemic and offering recommendations to improve efforts to combat its effects. The executive order [that established the commission] set a deadline of 90 days, or June 27, for the commission to file an interim report outlining a federal strategy to combat the epidemic. The commission failed to issue the report before the initial deadline, announcing instead it would issue its interim assessment during a conference call on July 17. According to a notice scheduled to appear in the Federal Register on Friday, the commission is rescheduling the July 17 call until 31, missing the extended deadline.”  

– “The House voted Thursday to reject controversial amendments to the annual defense authorization bill, including a proposal to bar transgender service members from receiving general reassignment therapy,” Mike DeBonis reports. “That amendment, from Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.), would end the Pentagon’s policy, in place since October, of providing gender-reassignment surgeries and other therapies for active-duty transgender service members if a doctor deems the treatment medically necessary. It was defeated 214-209 vote, with 24 Republicans joining all 190 Democrats who voted. Another hot-button amendment, offered by Reps. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) and Ken Buck (R-Colo.), would have deleted a section from the bill ordering a Defense Department study to assess ‘vulnerabilities to military installations and combatant commander requirements resulting from climate change over the next 20 years.’ That measure went down 234-185.”

THE FIRST (TV) COUPLE:

–  The Post’s Monica Hesse looks at the “complex” relationship engaged “Morning Joe” co-hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough have with Trump, who recently accused Brzezinski of having a “bloody facelift.” Monica reports from the pair’s visit to the National Archives: “[In] a boon to the salivating public, Scarborough and Brzezinski appeared … perfectly content to lob casual insults and anecdotes that made the president look like a boundary-challenged middle school weirdo. ‘He’s … he’s really into Joe,’ Brzezinski confided. ‘It’s really like he watches our show and thinks it’s important to be considered positively.’ ‘It’s like when we went over to the White House, Donald said, ‘Hey, is this your first time in the Oval Office?’ Scarborough relayed. ‘Mika said no.’ The president then said … ‘But, Joe, I guess this is your first time,’ at which point the former Republican congressman reminded the president that he was a former congressman and had been in the Oval Office plenty. … Sure, the pair had accepted invitations to the White House and Mar-a-Lago, and sure, if Trump invited them again, they would go. [But the two offered a] preview of what the lecture circuit will look like in the frenzied months after Trump’s administration ends: gaggles of politicos and talking heads who used to be in Trump’s circle, now racing for the nearest podium to share just how craaazy it all was.”

BUDDING BROMANCE?

– It would seem that Jim was wrong. Appearing at a news conference yesterday with Macron in Paris, Trump said that he has reconsidered his blunt assessment that terrorism was destroying the country: “It’s going to be just fine, because you have a great president. You have somebody that’s going to run this country right, and I would be willing to bet — because I think this is one of the great cities, one of the most beautiful cities in the world — and you have a great leader now, you have a great president. You have a tough president — he’s not going to be easy on people that are breaking the laws and people that show this tremendous violence. So, I really have a feeling that you’re going to have a very, very peaceful and beautiful Paris. And I’m coming back.”

– After the white-knuckled handshake seen around the world, Trump and Macron seem to have forged a relationship based on their similarities. Jenna Johnson and James McAuley report: “Up until now, the relationship between these two world leaders has been largely defined by their stark differences — Trump vs. the international anti-Trump … But as their presidencies slowly age, it is becoming clear the two leaders have a lot in common. Both are political outsiders holding their first elective positions and relish having defied their countries’ main political parties, and they maintain contentious relationships with the media. Both have pledged to dramatically shake up the establishment and rid their capitals of power players and bureaucrats who have long wielded influence. Both have stressed business-friendly policies and promised to roll back regulations. Both are seeking to confront terrorism with actions critics say could infringe on the freedoms of their citizens.”

– Even strident nationalist Steve Bannon expressed admiration for the centrist Macron. Yahoo News’s Jon Ward and Olivier Knox report: “Bannon [said] that while Macron ran as a ‘globalist,’ he has made a number of nationalist gestures, all in the name of positioning France as the preeminent nation in Europe. ‘Populist nationalist is the right side of history,’ Bannon said in a phone interview, and asserted that the only question is whether the leftist version of nationalism championed by Jeremy Corbyn in Britain and Sen. Bernie Sanders in the U.S. wins the day — or something closer to Trump and Bannon’s version. Bannon said Macron, a centrist, is closer to Trump’s philosophy than he is to the progressive version because he does not want the state to run the economy.

– Across the Channel, the leader of Britain’s Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, credited Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) with some of his progressive platform points. He said in an interview with the Intercept: “Bernie called me the day after our election here … I was half-asleep watching something on television. And Bernie comes on to say, well done on the campaign, and I was interested in your campaigning ideas. Where did you get them from? And I said, well, you, actually.”

– Trump was also impressed with Macron’s wife, Brigitte, saying that she was in “such great shape.” See the moment below, and Emily Heil breaks down some of the president’s other, er, compliments:

THE NEW WORLD ORDER:

– Despite their tough rhetoric, the Trump administration plans to recertify Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal brokered under President Barack Obama. Karen DeYoung reports: “The recertification, due Monday to Congress, follows a heated internal debate between those who want to crack down on Iran now — including some White House officials and lawmakers — and Cabinet officials who are ‘managing other constituencies’ such as European allies, and Russia and China, which signed and support the agreement … The Trump administration issued its first certification in April, when it also said it was awaiting completion of its review of the agreement … [A senior official] said the review should be completed before the next certification deadline in October.”

– The administration is also preparing new sanctions on Chinese financial institutions as retribution for the country’s perceived softness on North Korea. Reuters’ Matt Spetalnick and David Brunnstrom report: “The U.S. measures would initially hit Chinese entities considered ‘low-hanging fruit,’ including smaller financial institutions and ‘shell’ companies linked to North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, said one of the officials … It would leave larger Chinese banks untouched for now … The timing and scope of the U.S. action will depend heavily on how China responds to pressure for tougher steps against North Korea when U.S. and Chinese officials meet for a high-level economic dialogue in Washington on Wednesday, the administration sources told Reuters.”

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

Democratic and Republican senators voiced everything from concern to outright disdain for the latest health-care bill:

From a senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation as the bill’s details leaked in the press:

From a New York Times reporter:

The president applauded his second-in-command for his role in the health-care talks but stopped short of endorsing the bill:

While in France, Trump dismissed his son’s meeting with a Russian lawyer as standard opposition research. From a top political editor at NBC News:

The controversy threatened to spread further in the White House.

From a March for Truth organizer:

According to records, Peter Smith, the GOP operative who attempted to retrieve Hillary Clinton’s emails from the Russians, committed suicide.

From a Wall Street Journal reporter:

Today is an anniversary Jared would certainly like to forget. This is his dad:

While Trump traveled abroad, the vice president traveled over to Capitol Hill:

Sen. Ted Cruz’s opponent in next year’s Texas race gave an update on his fundraising:

Kellyanne Conway used visual aids during an interview with Sean Hannity to downplay the Russia scandal:

From the former chair of New Hampshire’s GOP:

Kellyanne responded to those making fun of her:

A writer for Wired shot back:

Bill Clinton wished for Jimmy Carter’s swift recovery:

A political couple shared a moment on Twitter:

Kid Rock confirmed the swirling political rumors that he is seriously considering a run for Senate as a Republican in Michigan:

The Post’s in-house satirist offered a suggestion for Trump’s Paris trip:

GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:

– The Atlantic, “Tucker Carlson Is Doing Something Extraordinary,” by Peter Beinart“In his vicious and ad hominem way, Carlson is doing something extraordinary: He’s challenging the Republican Party’s hawkish orthodoxy in ways anti-war progressives have been begging cable hosts to do for years. For more than a decade, liberals have rightly grumbled that hawks can go on television espousing new wars without being held to account for the last ones. Not on Carlson’s show. When Peters called him an apologist for Vladimir Putin, Carlson replied, ‘I would hate to go back and read your columns assuring America that taking out Saddam Hussein will make the region calmer, more peaceful, and America safer.’” 

– Buzzfeed News, “Leaked Documents Suggest Secretive Billionaire Trump Donors Are Milo’s Patrons,” by Joseph Bernstein: “Secretive hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer and his family launched themselves into the top rank of American power through a series of spectacularly successful cash investments in politics … [and] of course, in Donald Trump … To those ventures — and a host of others — newly uncovered evidence strongly suggests an addition: Milo Yiannopoulos, the anti–political correctness crusader and conservative provocateur. Leaked documents … strongly imply that the Mercers funded Yiannopoulos following his resignation from Breitbart News after video surfaced in which he appeared to condone pedophilia. Together, they suggest that the financiers of the new conservative politics aren’t simply interested in protecting their money, but in winning a brutal new culture war waged largely online. More than that, the documents point to a relationship that Yiannopoulos seems to regard as a kind of personal patronage, expecting from the family not just financial but legal support, after the British citizen’s visa status became tenuous post-Breitbart.”

– The New Yorker, “Can Mosul Be Put Back Together After ISIS?” by Robin Wright: “The fight to liberate Mosul has been compared to the most intense battles of the Second World War. The destruction, especially in West Mosul, is vast. Every major intersection was bombed by the U.S.-led coalition, mainly to slow or block suicide bombers … Iraqi Army artillery fire and [ISIS] bombs damaged almost every block. The city’s infrastructure and public services will have to be rebuilt from scratch. Mosulis are fiercely proud of their city … But the mood has shifted after three years of polarizing [ISIS] occupation, epic bloodshed, deepening sectarian tensions, and miles of utter destruction. ‘I never want to see Mosul again,’ [said one woman, who recently fled the city with her family]. ‘There is no political solution now. Iraq is like a glass of water. Once you break the glass, how do you collect the water again?’”

– New York Times, “Alaska Looks at a Nuclear Threat, and Shrugs It Off,” by Kris Johnson: “In Washington, the news that North Korea may have developed an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting Alaska set off a wave of anxiety. But here in Alaska — already home to survivalists, end-of-the-world preppers and all-around tough cookies — the latest geopolitical hubbub is being taken in stride. ‘You’ve always got to keep your edge,’ said Robert Allison, 60, yanking up a sleeve to show off his United States Airborne Infantry tattoo … More than one out of every eight adults in Alaska is, like Mr. Allison, a military veteran — the highest concentration in the nation. Anybody old enough to remember the Cold War, when Alaska was for decades at the front lines of national defense with an array of listening posts and ready-to-scramble air bases just across the Arctic Circle from the Soviets, also already knows the feeling of being a hot nuclear target. Some people recalled it as just something that came with the territory. You shrugged it off.” Said one Vietnam War veteran, who spent his boyhood in Anchorage during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis: “I was more interested in riding my bike.”

HOT ON THE LEFT:

“Church Of England Condemns Conversion Therapy, Reaches Out To Transgender Community,” from HuffPost:  “The Church of England is making slow moves towards welcoming the queer Christians in its pews. During a General Synod conference in York, England, the state church’s top leaders voted in two measures that signal a shift in the denomination’s approach towards LGBTQ Christians.  On Sunday, the church passed a motion on welcoming and affirming transgender Christians, and pledged that Bishops would consider creating special services and liturgies that would help a person mark their gender transition. The motion was first proposed by Rev. Chris Newlands from the Blackburn diocese, who testified during the debate about the challenges that trans people face in the U.K. and around the world. ‘Across the world, trans people have been subjected to appalling violence against them. In the UK, transphobic hate crime has risen by 170 percent in the last year,’ Newlands said …”

 

HOT ON THE RIGHT:

“City Councilman: Hosing Poop-Covered Sidewalks Might Be Racially Insensitive,” from National Review: “A city councilman in Seattle is reportedly opposed to hosing sidewalks that reek of excrement near a local courthouse because he fears that it might be racially insensitive. No, this is not a joke. The area surrounding [the court] includes a homeless shelter and other social-services organizations and has become an ‘unsanitary and potentially frightening’ scene — one ‘that reeks of urine and excrement’ — according to [local reports]. Desperate for help with the disgusting environment, two of the court’s judges have asked the city to please power-wash the poop-covered sidewalks. That seems like a pretty reasonable request, but apparently, one councilman is worried that doing so might be a form of microaggression. … Councilmember Larry Gossett ‘said he didn’t like the idea of power-washing the sidewalks because it brought back images of the use of hoses against civil-rights activists.’”

 

DAYBOOK:

Trump is still in Paris today. He and the first lady will participate in the Bastille Day parade at the Place de la Concorde with their French counterparts. After the parade, Trump will fly from Paris to New Jersey to spend the weekend at his Bedminster golf club.

Pence is in Providence, R.I., today for the National Governors Association annual gathering. He will give a speech and hold a series of meetings there, including one with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

 

 

NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:

– D.C.’s heat wave will ever so slightly subside. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “A tad less hot and muggy than Thursday, with heat index values probably staying below 105. We’ll take it. But we do have thunderstorm chances increasing as the day wears on. Starting around midafternoon into evening, isolated severe storms with damaging winds, large hail, dangerous lightning and heavy downpours are possible. Evening rush hour could be hampered.”

– Corey Stewart, who lost his primary challenge to Ed Gillespie by a hair, formally announced his bid to challenge Sen. Tim Kaine next year. Jenna Portnoy and Antonio Olivo report: “‘I’m going to run the most vicious, ruthless campaign to dethrone Tim Kaine from the United States Senate,’ said Stewart, not quite a month after losing the gubernatorial nomination to Ed Gillespie by 1.2 percentage points. ‘It’s time that Republicans take back that seat; it’s time that we have a senator who supports the president. Not trying to obstruct his way.’”

– Sen. Bernie Sanders offered a stirring endorsement of former NAACP president Ben Jealous in his bid to become Maryland’s next governor. Sanders told a crowd of several hundred: “We need more than ever, at the statewide level, a very different kind of leadership … And what Ben Jealous is about, he has a radical idea that maybe, just maybe, government should represent all of the people and not just the one percent.”

– D.C. police released surveillance footage of the shooting in Northeast that left a 1-year-old boy injured.

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

Stephen Colbert imitated Kellyanne Conway’s “fun with words”:

The Daily Show reports on the translators entrusted with putting Trump’s words into another language:

The French gave their frank opinions on the American president:

When Orlando police pulled over Florida’s first and only African American state attorney, local outlets wondered if she had been racially profiled:

This year’s Emmy nominations were announced:

The Sri Lankan navy rescued an elephant swept out to sea:

And it’s so hot in D.C. right now that this miniature chocolate version of the Washington Monument melted away:

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