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A1: The stories you need to read before your first conference call.
-- The Obama administration on Thursday asked Congress to authorize $500 million in direct U.S. military training and equipment for Syrian opposition fighters. The aid will go to "moderate" opposition forces that have been vetted by the CIA to fight both the government of President Bashar al-Assad and ISIS extremists. Congress must approve the money, part of a $65.8 billion Pentagon Overseas Contingency Operations request. (Washington Post)
-- Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko signed a trade agreement with the European Union in Brussels on Friday, eight months after his predecessor, Viktor Yanukovych sparked street protests by abruptly walking away from the deal. Russian officials were quoted in state media outlets warning of consequences; earlier this week, Kremlin officials said they would suspend preferential tariff rates on Ukrainian goods. The E.U. also signed trade pacts with Georgia and Moldova, two other former Soviet republics. (New York Times)
-- Bill Clinton has been paid $104.9 million for 542 speeches around the world since January 2001, when he left the White House, according to federal financial disclosure reports. More than half of his appearances were in the U.S., but most of his income came from foreign speeches, many in China, Japan, Canada and the U.K. Hillary Clinton has been speaking for $200,000 a pop since leaving the State Department, though records of her itineraries aren't publicly available. (Washington Post, with bonus interactive graphic)
-- The Supreme Court ruled unanimously on Thursday that the Obama administration had overreached in issuing recess appointments while the Senate was out of session in 2012. The justices said the administration violated the Constitution with appointments to the National Labor Relations Board. Writing for the Court, Justice Stephen Breyer said recess appointments generally remain permissible, as long as they were made during breaks of 10 days or longer. (New York Times)
-- The Court also ruled on Thursday that a Massachusetts law establishing a 35-foot buffer zone in front of abortion clinics violates free speech rights. Chief Justice John Roberts, joining with the liberal members of the court, said states and cities could not close public sidewalks. The four more conservative justices wrote they would have gone further to declare unconstitutional any law that restricted speech on public streets and sidewalks. (Los Angeles Times)
-- A mammoth Pew Research Center study of the political typologies that make up the American electorate finds a Republican Party united around a belief in smaller government, but sharply divided over perceptions of Wall Street, the power of big corporations and the value of immigration and free trade. Business conservatives are more likely to say corporations don't have too much power, and they think the U.S. should be active in the world. Steadfast conservatives say it's time for the U.S. to focus on problems at home. (Washington Post)
-- Front Pages: It's a SCOTUS-heavy day in newspapers around the country. WaPo, WSJ, USA Today and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution lead with the recess appointment decision. The Boston Globe, L.A. Times, Miami Herald, Chicago Tribune and the Allentown Morning Call lead with the buffer zone decision. NYT devotes a one-column front-pager to each.
National Roundup: What's happening outside the Beltway.
-- Wisconsin: Gov. Scott Walker (R) was not a target of the criminal investigation into illegal campaign coordination, an attorney for the special prosecutor said Thursday. The attorney said court filings released earlier this week, which said the prosecutor made no conclusions as to whether there was sufficient evidence to bring charges, does not mean Walker was under scrutiny. Walker was not a target, nor was he served a subpoena, the attorney said. (Washington Post, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, New York Times)
-- Virginia: Emails show the Virginia state tobacco commission created a job especially for former state Sen. Phillip Puckett (D), whose resignation earlier this month handed control of the state Senate to Republicans. The interim director of the tobacco commission warned Puckett that announcing his resignation in conjunction with his new position would start "WW3 w/ the Governor's administration." (Washington Post) Meanwhile, Republican legislators released a legal analysis this week arguing Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) doesn't have the legal authority to expand Medicaid. (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot)
-- More Virginia: Libertarian Robert Sarvis has qualified to appear alongside Sen. Mark Warner (D) and former RNC chairman Ed Gillespie (R) on November's ballot. Sarvis took 6.5 percent in the 2013 governor's race. But he won't be invited to the first debate of the year, scheduled for July 26 at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. and sponsored by the Virginia Bar Association. (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot) Virginia: The only state that holds its political debates in another state.
-- Iowa: State Republicans will meet to elect a new chairman this weekend, with former state Rep. Jeff Kaufmann (R) emerging as the front-runner among a new coalition of party leaders loyal to Gov. Terry Branstad (R). But Christian conservative activists are upset that interim chairman Danny Carroll is getting dumped. Carroll has served since March, when A.J. Spiker left the chairmanship to go to work for Sen. Rand Paul's (R-Ky.) PAC. (Des Moines Register) Fun fact: 19 months before the caucuses, the Iowa GOP has a paid staff of zero.
DC Digest: What's on tap today in DC.
-- President Obama delivers remarks on the economy at the Lake Harriet Band Shell in Minneapolis before leaving the Twin Cities. Once he's back in D.C., Obama meets with acting Veterans Affairs Secretary Sloan Gibson and deputy White House chief of staff Rob Nabors, to discuss the situation at the ailing agency. Tonight, the Obamas attend the evening parade at the Marine Barracks. So, anyone planning a night on 8th Street, adjust accordingly.
-- Obama says the World Cup has shaped some elements of U.S. foreign policy, albeit in subtle ways. Obama told ABC's George Stephanopoulos that the 2010 World Cup may have been a "breakthrough moment" for soccer in the U.S., and that this year's competition has "captured the popular imagination." (ABC) The interview airs this morning on "Good Morning America" and Sunday on "This Week."
-- Vice President Biden has no public events on his schedule today. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel welcomes Italian Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti to the Pentagon this morning.
-- The House and Senate are gone, abandoning the rest of us to the swampy humidity of a Washington summer. Both chambers are out next week for the July 4th holiday.
-- The FamousDC guide to a Capitol Hill staffer's day during recess always makes us laugh. Make smart choices, people.
TV Time Out: Our exclusive look at who's advertising, and where.
-- Iowa: The League of Conservation Voters will drop $457,505 on a new ad attacking U.S. Senate nominee Joni Ernst (R), the group's second big foray into a Senate race this year. LCV has also made Colorado a priority. (FEC, with a hat tip to @DaveLevinthal)
The Buried Lede: The nuggets that deserve the spotlight.
-- In a big profile on Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.), Jim Rutenberg says after the then-governor's affair came to light, then-state Rep. Nikki Haley (R) asked him to use his left-over campaign cash to run ads bolstering her 2010 gubernatorial campaign. Sanford advisors urged him to cut the check, based on his promise to promote Haley's bid to succeed him; a Sanford-connected PAC eventually ran a $400,000 ad campaign on Haley's behalf.
-- Rutenberg also talked to Sanford's fiancee, Maria Belen Chapur, who told him why she didn't speak up earlier, when Jenny Sanford's book came out in 2010. "They were calling me to come onto the show, and I said: ‘I respect her, she’s the wife, she needs to talk and say whatever. I have to pay, and I won’t say a word against her because she’s in the right.'" (New York Times Magazine)
B1: Business, politics and the business of politics
-- John Boehner sues the White House, Democrats make money. The DCCC pulled in $584,000 on Wednesday after fundraising off the House Speaker's lawsuit over the administration's exercise of executive authority, their biggest fundraising day of the year. About 27,000 people made donations on Wednesday, including almost 8,000 first-time donors, the DCCC said. (Politico)
-- Import-Export Bank Chief of Staff Scott Mulhauser is leaving next week to become Chief of Staff at the U.S. Embassy in China, under new ambassador Max Baucus. Mulhauser worked for Baucus on the Senate Finance Committee before becoming Vice President Biden's deputy chief of staff on the 2012 re-election campaign.
-- Markets are down in pre-bell trading. All three major U.S. indices dropped a fraction on Thursday, though most world markets are higher across Asia and Europe. (CNN)
C1: The long reads you'll need to check out before tonight's cocktail party.
-- Former Sen. Howard Baker (R-Tenn.), a one-time majority leader, presidential candidate and White House chief of staff, died Thursday at his home in Huntsville, Tenn., from complications of a stroke suffered over the weekend. He was 88. Obituaries from the Washington Post, New York Times, The Tennessean and The Atlantic's George Condon.
-- Baker was the first popularly elected Republican senator from Tennessee. His election in 1966 marked the first time since 1920 that a Republican won statewide office in Tennessee.
-- Republicans running for U.S. Senate need to score 46 percent of the vote among women to win. That's according to an analysis by GOP pollster Glen Bolger, who looked at the 18 races between 2010 and 2012 where the winner received less than 55 percent of the vote. When women chose the Republican candidate more than 46 percent of the time, the Republican won. (Public Opinion Strategies)
C4: The comics page, fun things to read when you're bored at work
-- Fighter jet loses front landing gear, so he calmly lands his Harrier on a padded stool. This actually happened, on June 7 on the USS Bataan, and of course there's a gif. (Gizmodo)
-- Not exactly fun, but a non-political story worth reading today: 100 years ago tomorrow, a Bosnian assassin shot and killed Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand on the streets of Sarajevo. World War I started a month later. The New York Times has an excellent look back at the legacy of "The Great War."
Attn Matt Drudge: Things conservatives will get outraged by today.
-- Pew's new Political Typology study is going to provide plenty of cable fodder, for both sides: Only 40 percent of consistently liberal Americans say they often feel proud to be Americans, Pew's survey found. Those in Pew's "solid liberals" category are the only group in which a majority say they're not regularly proud to be Americans. (Washington Post)
Attn HuffPo: What outrages liberals today
-- Something for the left in the Pew numbers: The vast majority of Republican-leaning political typologies in Pew's new survey say the poor have it easy. More than 80 percent of "Steadfast conservatives" and "Young outsiders" agree with that statement; 77 percent of "Business conservatives" concur, too. (New Republic)