Marco Rubio in Orlando on June 12 after the shooting at the Pulse nightclub. (Photo by Melissa Lyttle/For The Washington Post)

With Breanne Deppisch

THE BIG IDEA: The June massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando was an inflection point that has shifted the politics of gun control. Democrats from Hillary Clinton on down are playing offense on the question of whether suspected terrorists should be able to buy weapons. Thursday brought two illustrations of how:

-- In Florida, after three months of getting hammered by his challenger, Marco Rubio introduced legislation to prevent suspected terrorists from purchasing firearms.

Last December, seeking the Republican presidential nomination, Rubio said: “None of the major shootings that have occurred in this country over the last few months or years that have outraged us would gun laws have prevented.”

In a press release yesterday, the senator said: “After the Orlando terrorist attack, I met with Fred and Maria Wright, who shared with me the story of their son Jerry and the unimaginable pain they carry after losing him that night. The Wrights made a simple request: that we improve our laws so it is more difficult for evil people to get ahold of guns. I told them I would continue working toward consensus on common-sense measures that would help ensure criminals, terrorists and others seeking to take innocent lives are not able to acquire firearms.”

The bill is a slightly modified version of what Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) introduced a few months ago as a watered-down alternative to a toothy Democratic proposal. The main idea was to give political cover to vulnerable incumbents, so they can tell voters they support action even as reforms are blocked.

Rubio’s move reflects the potency of the terror watch list question in private polling, especially in Florida. As Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut) responded:

-- Meanwhile, in Missouri, Democratic Senate candidate Jason Kander went on TV with one of the most memorable ads of the election. Wearing a blindfold, he assembles an AR-15 rifle while talking about his experience fighting in Afghanistan. Then he says he’d like to see his opponent, Republican Sen. Roy Blunt, do the same. Watch here:

The ad comes in response to attacks being run by the National Rifle Association like this one:

One of things that makes the Kander ad so notable is that he does more than just show off his prowess with a gun. “I also believe in background checks so that terrorists can’t get their hands on one of these,” he declares at the end, holding up the weapon.

“Kander could have easily skipped the ending, but he wisely used the ad to make the case for gun safety,” said Peter Ambler, the executive director at Americans for Responsible Solutions, the group created by Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly.

He sees the commercial as illustrative of a broader political shift. “It’s not 1994 anymore,” Ambler said in an interview. “There’s a generation of Democrats who saw this as a third rail. Those days are behind us, and today’s developments in Missouri and Florida are a case study for why.”

The spot, filmed in a Kansas City warehouse, was produced by Mark Putnam, who is best known for his work helping Democrats survive in red states.

Other groups pushing for stricter gun laws celebrated the ad, as well. Michael Bloomberg-backed Everytown for Gun Safety said “Kander blew up the gun lobby's agenda” in 30 seconds “and with a blindfold on!” Erika Soto Lamb explained that her group also loves the ad because it shows that the idea voters must choose between gun rights or gun safety is a false dichotomy. “The ad is yet another prime example of how 2016 is shaping up to be the year of gun safety,” she said, “dismantling the myth of the gun lobby's electoral power.”

The NRA’s Jennifer Baker argues that the ad actually underscores the potency of the issue, and that Kander felt compelled to run a response to their attacks because he recognizes his “F” rating is costing him support. She noted that there are nine issues pages on his campaign web site but nothing about guns. He did not respond to their candidate questionnaire, she said, but in the state legislature he voted against a bill to expand the castle doctrine. “It's telling that Kander remained silent on the Second Amendment until forced to address the issue by the National Rifle Association,” said Baker. “This latest advertisement will not fool Second Amendment supporters. Law-abiding gun owners across Missouri and America deserve a candidate who can stand behind their voting record, not one who uses a firearm as a distraction from the truth.”

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) waves to supporters at a ham breakfast on the Missouri State Fair grounds last month. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

-- Blunt advisers acknowledge that the ad is “clever,” but they are also surprised that he’s actually running it in each of the Show-Me State’s television markets (except St. Louis). Speaking anonymously to be candid, they argue that Kander has made a strategic blunder: Democrats have been hammering the incumbent over the fact that his wife and children are registered lobbyists, using that to create a narrative that Blunt is a creature of Washington. Republicans say they will happily make the race all about guns instead, which could juice base turnout and might embolden the NRA to invest more.

The senator has been running neck-and-neck in the polls with Donald Trump, which has worried the national party (because it suggests Blunt would lose if the bottom fell out from underneath the GOP presidential nominee). Signs of weakness have emboldened outside Democratic groups to pour money in, which in turn prompted GOP groups to respond with their own show of force.

-- In purple and blue states, where the battle for the Senate is mostly playing out, the gun issue works more clearly to the advantage of Democrats in 2016:

In Pennsylvania: Vulnerable Republican Sen. Pat Toomey has run commercials touting how he partnered with Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin after Sandy Hook to strengthen background checks.

In New Hampshire: ARS, the Giffords group, slammed Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte for opposing Toomey’s background check bill. A narrator asked, “Why is Sen. Ayotte playing politics with our safety?”

Tellingly, the Ayotte team already had a response ad in the can that it could get on the air immediately. It includes local cops insisting that “she’s voted for background checks” and “to keep guns out of the hands of terrorists.”

-- The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has also identified several districts where challengers can effectively run on this. Two examples:

In Florida-7: Stephanie Murphy, who is challenging Rep. John Mica in suburban Orlando, was the first candidate endorsed by the Pride Fund to End Gun Violence, a group created by LGBT activists after the nearby Pulse nightclub shooting.

In New York-1: Anna Throne-Holst is up with an ad that features elementary-aged children participating in an active-shooter drill at their school. She then attacks Rep. Lee Zeldin for voting against background checks. “Lee Zeldin even voted to let people on the FBI’s terrorist watch list buy guns,” the Democrat says to camera. “As a mother, nothing is more important than keeping our kids safe.” Watch:

Welcome to the Daily 202, PowerPost's morning newsletter.
With contributions from Elise Viebeck (@eliseviebeck)

Sign up to receive the newsletter.

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

The Donald appeared on "The Tonight Show" with Jimmy Fallon last night. (In the videos of the day section, we have the highlights.)

-- Donald Trump told The Post’s Robert Costa in an interview that he remains unwilling to say that President Obama was born in the United States. “I’ll answer that question at the right time,” Trump said. “I just don’t want to answer it yet.” When asked whether his campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, was accurate when she said recently that he now believes Obama was born in this country, Trump responded: “It’s okay. She’s allowed to speak what she thinks. I want to focus on jobs. I want to focus on other things.” He added: “I don’t talk about it anymore. The reason I don’t is because then everyone is going to be talking about it as opposed to jobs, the military, the vets, security.”

-- Not long after the story posted, at 10:17 p.m., the Trump campaign sent a press release with a quote from senior communications adviser Jason Miller saying that the GOP nominee is no longer a birther. Miller claimed Trump did “a great service to the President and the country” by prompting Obama to release his long-form birth certificate in 2011. He also repeated the widely debunked claim that Clinton and her campaign had questioned Obama’s birthplace in 2008, which is false.

Another falsehood from Miller’s statement: that Trump stopped making birther claims in 2011. As Buzzfeed’s Andrew Kaczynski notes, he’s on the record stoking conspiracy theories well into 2014: “The president should come clean,” Trump said in an exchange that year with Irish TV. “He should have come clean over the years. If you remember the very famous story where I offered him $5 million if he showed some basic records and he never took me up on it. And that would be for charity. So charities would have benefited and it would have been a great thing.” When the host noted that Obama had, in fact, produced the long form birth certificate, Trump continued to stoke speculation: “Well, a lot of people don’t agree with you and a lot of people feel it wasn’t a proper certificate,” Trump said.

-- Clinton, highlighting The Post's interview, blasted Trump for refusing to directly answer whether Obama was born in the U.S. and decried his campaign of “bigotry and hate” during a speech at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus gala. “He was asked one more time: ‘Where was President Obama born?’ And he still wouldn’t say Hawaii. He still wouldn’t say America,” Clinton said. “This man wants to be our next president? When will he stop this ugliness, this bigotry?” (Abby Phillip)

-- President Obama, at the same gala, urged Latino members of Congress to push back harder against Trump’s “bluster and falsehoods and promises of higher walls." "I know there are a lot of people who have this notion of what the real America looks like; somehow, it only includes a few of us," Obama said. "Who’s to determine that in this nation of immigrants ... that you have a greater claim than anybody here? So you can't let that brand of politics win." (David Nakamura)

-- HRC and POTUS visited backstage for about 15 minutes before her speech.

GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. A suicide bomber detonated a blast in a mosque in Pakistan’s tribal area near the Afghan border, killing at least 16 and wounding nearly two dozen others. No group has yet claimed responsibility, but the tribal area is a base for the Taliban. The attack comes just after the final day of Eid al-Adha. (Pamela Constable)
  2. The Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a recall for Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7, ripping the high-end smartphone off the shelves after many burst into flames. The recall allows airlines to make the use of the phone illegal on flights. (Hayley Tsukayama)
  3. Almost one in 10 U.S. railroad workers involved in accidents this year tested positive for drugs afterward. That's triple the level of a decade ago. (Ashley Halsey III)
  4. Brain cancer has replaced leukemia as the leading cause of cancer deaths among children and adolescents. The shift comes as surgeons struggle to treat the delicate structure of the brain and to develop treatment options for molecularly-different tumors. (Laurie McGinley)
  5. A new Brazilian study finds babies born with microcephaly are 55 times more likely to be infected with Zika than babies without the severe birth defect – providing the strongest evidence yet that Zika virus infection in pregnant women causes microcephaly in their babies. (Lena H. Sun)
  6. Columbus police fatally shot a 13-year-old who was carrying a BB gun. (Mark Berman)
  7. The family of Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old black woman found dead in a jail cell after a routine traffic stop last year, reached a $1.9 million settlement in a wrongful death lawsuit. (Mark Berman)
  8. Democrats and Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee urged Obama not to pardon Edward Snowden for “the largest and most damaging leak of classified information in American history." The bipartisan letter comes in response to a push by human rights groups. An Oliver Stone movie, which opens in theatres today, also casts Snowden as a hero. (Ellen Nakashima)
  9. The Senate passed a bill that would make available more than $100 million in federal funds to help update the city of Flint’s water infrastructure. The deal still must pass muster with the House. (Mike DeBonis)
  10. It’s unclear whether there will be enough votes in either chamber to override Obama’s veto of a bill that would let 9/11 victims’ families sue Saudi Arabia. (Karoun Demirjian)
  11. House Republicans moved a bill to prevent Obama from releasing any more detainees from Guantanamo Bay. The doomed legislation represents a final showdown in an eight-year struggle over shuttering the detention facility. (Karoun Demirjian)
  12. The Navy’s Blue Angels stunt team will stop performing the aerial move that killed a pilot this summer, putting in place a number of new dive recovery rules and airspeed limitations. (Dan Lamothe)
  13. Turkey announced it will construct 150 new prisons over the next five years, after tens of thousands were arrested in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt. The crackdown has placed an incredible strain on the country’s penal system, with detainees forced to sleep in shifts and makeshift prison facilities. (Ishaan Tharoor)
  14. The State Department has paid or approved 90 claims for a total of $11 million in reparations from France to former World War II prisoners who were carried to Nazi death camps in French trains — the first French reparations paid to Holocaust survivors living in the United States. (Katherine Shaver)
  15. John Boehner joined the board of Reynolds American, the second-largest tobacco company in the U.S. The former Speaker will serve on the board’s corporate governance, nominating and sustainability committee. Does he get free smokes as part of the deal? (Catherine Ho)

THE DAILY DONALD:

-- Other highlights from Bob Costa’s interview with Trump: He said he is “more bullish than ever” about winning in November. He defended his wife’s immigration history and said he had been “respectful” since Clinton fell ill -- but “that doesn’t mean that I’m going to stay there.”

  • ON THE DEBATES: “If she treats me with respect, I’ll treat her with respect. If she doesn’t, I’ll reciprocate.”
  • ON ANDERSON COOPER: “I don’t think Anderson Cooper should be a moderator, because Anderson Cooper works for CNN …. He’ll be very biased, very biased. CNN is the Clinton News Network and Anderson Cooper, I don’t think he can be fair.”
  • ON VLADIMIR PUTIN: “That’s a totally false narrative. I haven’t embraced them.”
  • ON HIS MEDICAL RECORDS: Trump said the letter from his physician, examined on the “Dr. Oz Show,” will be the final document he plans to release on his health before the election. “There is nothing else to release,” he said.
Priscilla Sterling (Photo by Ben Depp for The Washington Post)

The Trump Effect --> “African Americans worry Trump has awoken a resentment that won’t go away,” by Robert Samuels in Jackson, Miss.: "With his vow to 'make America great again,' a slogan that feels to many blacks like a not-so-subtle reference to days that were anything but great for them, many here fear that Trump has emboldened a resentment among whites that will endure regardless of the outcome of the general election."

  • "My family has worked so hard to reconcile the races," said Priscilla Sterling, 48, a distant cousin of Emmett Till, who was abducted, brutalized and murdered in 1955 at the age of 14 after he had allegedly whistled at a white woman. The white men who killed him were acquitted by an all-white jury. "In Mississippi, it’s been hard. But Trump is making it harder . . . by getting people excited about making America like it was in the past. Does he know about the past?"
  • Bobby McGowan, an African American county board supervisor, said that a few weeks ago he was driving a charter bus through a rural area outside Jackson when some young white men threw rocks at him. 'These were things that used to happen in the old days,' he said."

-- Trump suggested “something was up” with the pastor who scolded him for campaigningduring a church visit in Flint, Michigan. “Everyone plays their games, it doesn’t bother me,” he said on Fox News, saying the pastor was “shaking” when she approached him. “She was so nervous, she was like a nervous mess. I figured something was up.” (NPR)

-- Trump unveiled a scaled-back tax proposal in New York. The plan dramatically reduces the size of his previously-touted tax cuts for high earners and the middle class, though it includes even more benefits for the country’s lowest earners. It also scraps a business tax provision that could have delivered large windfalls to the companies in Trump’s business empire – which Clinton has slammed as the 'Trump Loophole.' The Tax Foundation said the updated tax plan, after accounting for increased economic growth, would cost the government $2.6 trillion in lost tax revenue over a decade, down from $10 trillion for his initial plan.” (Sean Sullivan and Jim Tankersley)

-- Paul Ryan suggested that Trump release his tax returns, but he stopped short of calling on his nominee to do so immediately. Pressed at his weekly news conference, the Speaker noted that he released his own tax returns when he was the vice-presidential nominee in 2012 and then said he would "defer" to Trump as to what would be "the appropriate time to release." "I know he’s under an audit, and he’s got an opinion about when to release those," Ryan said. (Mike DeBonis)

-- Ivanka Trump criticized Cosmo after the magazine published a transcript of its interview with her, in which (among other things) she said that her father's new maternity leave policy would only apply to married women. (Read the transcript.)

Clinton arrives in Greensboro, N.C. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

THE DAILY HILLARY:

-- Clinton returned to the campaign trail after three days of recovering from pneumonia, delivering a speech on how she would try to make life better for children and families. “I have to say, it’s great to be back on the campaign trail,” she said in Greensboro, N.C. after coming on stage to James Brown’s “I Got You (I Feel Good).”

She presented her time off the trail as a positive, saying that it gave her time to reflect on the core issues that brought her into public service in the first place, remarking that  many families aren’t able to take paid time off in the event of sickness. “Life events like these are catastrophic for some families, but mere bumps in the road for others,” she said. “I have met so many people living on a razor’s edge — one illness away from losing their job; one paycheck away from losing their home.” (Abby Phillip and Anne Gearan)

-- Speaking to reporters, Clinton said “a number of people" knew she had pneumonia, including members of her senior staff. But she refused to say whether Tim Kaine was kept in the loop. "We communicated, but I’m not going to go into our personal conversations,” she said. Translation: her own running-mate was kept in the dark about her getting sick. (Abby Phillip)

-- Clinton hinted pretty strongly that she will choose someone other than Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court if elected. In a radio interview, she said she would "look broadly and widely for people who represent the diversity of our country" should she have the opportunity to fill Antonin Scalia's seat. “The comments are Clinton’s most specific yet on how she would handle the 7-month-old vacancy,” Bloomberg notes. “Her remarks offer hope to progressives who say the Supreme Court nomination should go to a younger, more liberal jurist and possibly to a racial minority or woman.” But Clinton also said she would not ask Obama to withdraw Garland’s nomination after Nov. 8, allowing for a possible lame-duck confirmation: "I think we should stick with one president at a time. I’m going to let this president serve out his term with distinction and make the decisions that he thinks are right for the country."

-- Hillary was asked during the same interview about Colin Powell telling his friends that she spoils anything she touches with “hubris." “I have a great deal of respect for Colin Powell, and I have a lot of sympathy for anyone whose emails become public,” she replied. “I’m not going to start discussing someone else’s private emails. I’ve already spent a lot of time talking about my own, as you know.”

-- The Clinton campaign is ramping up efforts to dissuade millennials from supporting third-party candidates. From stories by Bloomberg and the NYT:

  • Priorities USA will launch a multi-million dollar digital campaign with the message that “a vote for a third-party candidate is a vote for Trump.”
  • On Saturday, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren will campaign for her in Ohio. 
  • On Monday, Hillary will deliver a speech aimed at millennial voters in Philadelphia. 

-- 10 days until the first debate: “I don't think we're going to be going in there seeking to provoke him," Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon told MSNBC. "She's going to go in and do what she always does … And the contrast there will speak for itself. ... We have to prepare essentially for two different Donald Trumps because we don't know which one is going to show up."

Hillary listens as Bill speaks about a U.S. missile strike against Iraq in 1993. (AP/Greg Gibson)

DEEP DIVE on Hillary's hawkishness --> Clinton regrets her Iraq vote. But opting for intervention was a pattern,” by Michael Kranish: “For years, Clinton has blamed Bush for misleading her into voting for the [Iraq War] resolution. But an examination by The Washington Post found that her decision was based as much on advice from her husband’s advisers as from Bush administration officials. There were also significant gaps in her fact-gathering, most notably her apparent failure to read a classified analysis that other senators cited in voting against the resolution. The path to Clinton’s decision was paved by her evolving sense of presidential power, forged during years in which she played a bigger role than widely realized in pushing her husband to intervene militarily in the Balkans, Iraq and Kosovo … [It's a path on which she continued] when she advocated intervention in Libya as secretary of state."

If you go after Harry Reid, he punches back. (Dalton Bennett/The Washington Post)

-- Harry Reid, a boxer in his youth, just released a punchy 400-word statement responding to Trump mocking his appearance: “Donald Trump can make fun of the injury that crushed the side of my face and took the sight in my right eye all he wants - I've dealt with tougher opponents than him. I may not be able to see out of my right eye, but with my good eye, I can see that Trump is a man who inherited his money and spent his entire life pretending like he earned it. In Searchlight, we learned a thing or two about hard work that Trump may not have learned at his boarding school. … We know how to spot a con artist in Las Vegas. And Donald Trump is a con-artist.”

NEW POLLING: 

-- A Fox News poll shows the race has tightened by 7 points since the beginning of August: Hillary is up 3 points (46-43) among registered voters. She was up 10 in the beginning of August and six at the end of the month.

-- Trump has cut deeply into Clinton’s lead in MICHGIAN. She's up just 3 points (38-35) in a Detroit Free Press/WXYZ-TV poll.

-- A Monmouth University poll of IOWA shows Trump has opened an 8-point lead on Clinton (45-37). Chuck Grassley bests Democratic challenger Patty Judge by 17 points.

-- A University of Mary Washington survey of VIRGINIA has Clinton up by just 3 points (40-37). In a head-to-head matchup, her lead grows to 5 points. (This is an outlier...)

-- A CBS/NYT national poll shows voters remain highly concerned about the prospect of either becoming president: 51 percent believe Clinton is a risky choice for the country, while 67 percent said the same of Trump.

  • 67 percent of registered voters describe the current race as more negative than previous years – a 30 point increase from 2012.
  • Both Clinton and Trump are seen as “untrustworthy” by more than 60 percent. 
  • And majorities believe neither shares their values, with 57 percent saying so of Clinton, and 62 percent saying the same for Trump.

-- Clinton’s recent pneumonia diagnosis has left many uncertain about the state of her health. Only 39 percent say they believe Clinton is in good enough physical condition to effectively serve as commander in chief for the next four years in a new HuffPost/YouGov survey. A nearly equal 38 percent said they do not believe she is in good enough condition, while 23 percent remain unsure.

WHAT THE PUNDITS ARE SAYING ABOUT THE TIGHTENING RACE:

-- “At its core, Clinton has an enthusiasm problem while Trump has a structural problem,” Cook Political Report’s Amy Walter writes. “Trump has not expanded his base, he performs as well with men and non-college whites as a 'traditional' Republican, but remains behind with women and college voters. Clinton, however, has not motivated hers - especially the young and drop-off voters who gave Obama his wins in 2008 and 2012. Hers is theoretically an easier hurdle to overcome, but still requires her to give those voters a reason to show up and to keep attention on his flaws and not hers. … Clinton has made the race a referendum on Trump. But, with Trump giving her less fodder, and she (and hackers) providing much of her own, that message becomes less compelling.”

-- "Terrified Democrats are Clinton’s secret weapon” and the possibility of a Trump victory is just the thing Hillary needs to turn out left-leaning voters," Politico’s Glenn Thrush argues. “The wow in recent national polls is not Trump’s rise, but the fact that more Trump voters are psyched about their candidate than Democrats are jazzed about their less-than-exciting nominee,” he says. “But fear is as powerful an emotion as love in politics (it’s why negative ads work and the decision by Jeb Bush’s super PAC to dump tens of millions into positive ads was so bad) — and Democrats are panicking, in a way that could be good news for their underperforming nominee."

Quote du jour: “I ran into a top adviser to Clinton at a social event earlier this week, and asked him how things were going. ‘How the hell do you think it’s going? We’re probably going to win, but there’s a 30- to 40 percent chance we are going to elect a f---ing madman for the White House.’ Then the guy headed for the bar.”

-- “Nervy” is how Charles Krauthammer describes Trump’s last-minute softening. “Can you really repackage the boasting, bullying, bombastic, insulting, insensitive Trump into a mellow and caring version? With two months to go? In a digital age in which every past outrage is preserved on imperishable video? Turns out, yes. How? Deflect and deny — and pretend it never happened. Where are they now — the birtherism, the deportation force, the scorn for teleprompters, the mocking of candidates who take outside money? Down the memory hole. Orwell was wrong. You don’t need repression. You need only the sensory overload of an age of numbingly ephemeral social media. In this surreal election season, there is no past.

-- Eugene Robinson tells Democrats they are in a good spot and they should get past the “freakout stage”: “If she wins Florida, it’s over. Same if she wins Ohio. And she could even lose both and still get to 270. Angst doesn’t help. Energizing the Democratic Party’s reliable voters, especially in crucial states, can make all the difference.”

Colin Powell (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

-- Many Washington elites are TOTALLY PANICKED that their emails will be hacked and leaked next. The Russians have created a climate of fear that can be somewhat crippling and has made electronic communication harder. A lot of people are texting more and emailing less. More from the New York Times’s Michael D. Shear and Nicholas Fandos: “The soul searching is happening with a special urgency in Washington, where email accounts burst with strategies, delicate political proposals, gossipy whispers and banal details of girlfriends, husbands, bank accounts and shopping lists. A panicked network anchor went home and deleted his entire personal Gmail account. A Democratic senator began rethinking the virtues of a flip phone. And a former national security official gave silent thanks that he is now living on the West Coast.  A television news anchor said … staff at her network had jokingly agreed at a morning news meeting to issue blanket apologies to one another if their emails were ever made public.”

Said one former national security spokesman: “There but for the grace of God go all of us.”

-- “Russian hacking a question of revenge and respect,” by Andrew Roth and Dana Priest: “The recent spate of embarrassing emails and other records stolen by Russian hackers is [Putin’s] splashy response to years of what he sees as U.S. efforts to weaken and embarrass him on the world stage and with his own people, according to experts [in Moscow and the U.S.] … Putin is seeking revenge and respect, and trying to reassert Russia’s lost superpower status at a time of waning economic clout and an upcoming Russian election … After years of keeping its hacking activities secret, Russia picked this particularly unsettling moment in U.S. politics to make its exploits public. It all plays into Putin’s narrative that his democratic critics are simply U.S. agents and that American democracy is as politically corrupt as any other form of government. The antics have also forced world attention back to Putin, giving him the aura of a superpower leader.”

-- Ranking House Intelligence Committee Democrat Adam Schiff suggested Obama should sanction Russia for hacking U.S. political organizations, saying the president ought “to look at a series of escalating responses” if Putin’s government continues to breach campaign committees.

Lawmakers from both parties are increasingly frustrated with Obama for not doing more to retaliate: "I can’t imagine something so fundamental to our country as the integrity of the electoral process," said Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Corker. (Karoun Demirjian notes that it’s an awkward moment for the administration to start wading into the realm of sanctions talk because of the new cease-fire deal.)

Vladimir Putin presents Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev with a painting yesterday to mark his 51st birthday while they visited Kerch, Crimea. (Alexei Druzhinin/Pool Photo via AP)

A NEW COLD WAR KEEPS HEATING UP: 

-- “Amid fears of Trump, Europe tries to make its security less dependent on the U.S.,” by Michael Birnbaum in Brussels: “European leaders are contemplating broad new efforts to pool their defense capabilities amid growing concerns that the continent needs to better protect itself from threats ranging from Russia to the Islamic State. The leaders of the remaining 27 nations in the European Union are gathering Friday in Slovakia to discuss their visions for a Europe without Britain, including a Franco-German proposal to create a centralized European military headquarters in Brussels … The discussions are part of a broader effort to make Europe more capable of providing for its own security, independently from the U.S., after a tough push from both President Obama and [Trump] … A Europe that is more independent militarily would also be more capable of pursuing a foreign policy path more distinct from the United States, potentially widening cracks in Western unity.”

-- Polish investigators are re-investigating the 2010 plane crash that killed President Lech Kaczynski and 95 others in Russia, after a government commission asserted that flight recordings were manipulated in possible attempts to mask the cause of the tragedy. Polish Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz said there was “irrefutable proof of falsifications, manipulations and obfuscation of the truth.” (Andrew Roth)

-- The tick tock: The Pentagon dragged its heels before signing off on John Kerry’s deal with the Russians to get a cease-fire agreement in Syria. Karen DeYoung and Missy Ryan report on the tense final hours before the announcement was made: “Hours after reaching an agreement on Syria last Friday with Secretary of State John F. Kerry and clearing the final deal with Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov wandered the halls of their meeting venue in Geneva, waiting for Kerry to get the okay from Washington. In a secure room upstairs, a frustrated Kerry was on hold. Already deep into a conference call with President Obama’s top national security team, he was waiting for the Defense Department to locate its legal counsel to sign off on one of the many provisions of the accord that Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter was questioning. ‘I hope before Washington gets some sleep, we can get some news,’ Lavrov said as he offered pizza and vodka to reporters awaiting an announcement. Clearly on a propaganda roll, he observed that the wheels of government appeared to turn more efficiently in his country than in the United States.”

Refugees and asylum-seekers at a shopping center yesterday in Bautzen, Germany. Police reported verbal and violent attacks have erupted between about 80 far-right activists and about 20 young asylum seekers. (Christian Essler, XCITEPRESS/dpa via AP)

WAPO HIGHLIGHTS:

Chilling --> “Clashes between Germans and refugees spark new tensions. This is what ISIS envisioned,” by Rick Noack: “The city of Bautzen in eastern Germany has been at the center of tensions between refugees and anti-immigration protesters in recent months. In February, Germans applauded as a refugee accommodation burned down, allegedly after an arson attack. … There have been attacks on refugee residences nearly every day since then.” But frustration among migrants and newcomers with their increasingly unwelcoming host nation has raised worries among counter-terrorism experts and officials, who draw connections between the growing frustration and the ability of groups such as the Islamic State to cause havoc: “In a handbook released last year, the Islamic State imagined a scenario that has resembled some of the recent violence. ‘When Muslims and Mosques will be attacked by neo-Nazis in protests, Muslims will do counter-protests alongside with antifascist groups,’ the propaganda book's authors speculated. ‘This is how the future Jihad in Europe will begin.’” 

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

Social media seized on Donald Trump Jr.'s admission that his dad is not releasing tax returns because he does not want to be scrutinized, not because of an audit:

His joke about gas chambers also raised eyebrows:

A couple of reactions:

See anything wrong with this picture?

Trump went after Colin Powell:

A little context:

Ivanka defended her dad's child care proposal:

Trump said he's "working harder also" so he doesn't feel sorry for wage-earners:

The New Hampshire sky:

Outgoing police chief Cathy Lanier turned in her weapon:

Michelle Obama and Seth Meyers speak at Howard University. (Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)

GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:

-- Time, “The New Politics of Late Night,” by Richard Zoglin: “In his 16 years as host of Comedy Central’s nightly satirical newscast, [Jon] Stewart brought political savvy, journalistic rigor and bite to the old pastime of topical satire on late-night TV. His retirement … along with Stephen Colbert’s departure from The Colbert Report … came as a blow to a generation of viewers who relied on the two shows for insightful news analysis as much as for entertainment. But the shake-up, abetted by the craziest presidential campaign in modern memory, has had an unexpected and largely unappreciated payoff. It has triggered an extreme makeover for political satire, which is now more ubiquitous, more pointed, more passionate and often more partisan than ever before. … [Now] in a wild election with a ripe orange target, comics are ditching balance and taking sides.”

-- Bloomberg, “Milo Yiannopoulos is the pretty, monstrous face of the alt-right,” by Joel Stein: “For his shopping trip to Gieves & Hawkes, [Milo] Yiannopoulos calls for an Uber. The driver is a man, possibly because Uber’s algorithm has learned that Yiannopoulos rejects female drivers. Women, he says, have been scientifically proven to be worse at spatial relations, as have Asians. Yiannopoulos is the 31-year-old British tech editor and star writer for Breitbart News, where he’s the loudest defender of the new, Trump-led ultraconservatism, standing athwart history, shouting to stop immigrants, feminists, political correctness, and any non-Western culture. Their followers’ politics are almost exactly the same: They’re angry about globalization—culturally even more than economically. They’re angry about political correctness guilting them about insensitivity to women, minorities, gays, transgender people, the disabled, the sick—the everyone-but-them. In this Kafkaesque troll war for America’s soul, Yiannopoulos believes that all offense is performed rather than truly felt”: “I have never been offended,” he says. “I don’t know what it means. It’s not that I disagree with it. I don’t understand it.”

HOT ON THE LEFT

“Trump floats rolling back food safety regulations,” from The Hill: “In a fact sheet posted online Thursday, the campaign highlighted a number of ‘specific regulations to be eliminated’ under the GOP nominee's economic plan, including what they called the ‘FDA Food Police.’ ‘The FDA Food Police, which dictate how the federal government expects farmers to produce fruits and vegetables and even dictates the nutritional content of dog food,’ it read. … The fact sheet was later removed from the website and a new fact sheet detailing Trump's economic agenda did not include mention of the FDA.”

 

HOT ON THE RIGHT

“Clinton Campaign Systematically Overcharging Poorest Donors,” from the Observer (owned by Trump’s son-in-law): “Clinton’s campaign is … repeatedly overcharging them after they make what’s supposed to be a one-time small donation through her official campaign website, multiple sources tell the Observer. … One elderly Clinton donor, who has been a victim of this fraud scheme, has filed a complaint with her state’s attorney general … ‘We get up to a hundred calls a day from Hillary’s low-income supporters complaining about multiple unauthorized charges,’” said a source from the Wells Fargo fraud department.

DAYBOOK:

On the campaign trail: Trump is in Washington, D.C. and Miami, Fla. Clinton is in Washington, D.C.

At the White House: Obama meets on trade with business, government and national security leaders, and later participates in an ambassador credentialing ceremony. Vice President Biden speaks at a DSCC event in Denver, Rice University in Houston and DSCC event in Austin.

On Capitol Hill: The Senate and House are out.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

“I personally think a taco truck on every corner sounds absolutely delicious.” – Hillary Clinton, speaking to Latinos last night

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

-- Yet another day of sunny, un-muggy bliss! Here’s the good news from today’s Capital Weather Gang forecast: “With dew points at or below 60 degrees promoting fairly comfortable humidity levels, we should be able to enjoy warm upper 70s to low 80s without much humidity-induced sweating. A light 5 to 10 mph easterly breeze brings slowly increasing moisture into the air, and some clouds with it — at times— too. It could be close on the cloud-cover percentage for Nice Day Stamp purists, but it’s a very pleasant day either way.”

-- The Virginia Supreme Court declined a GOP request to hold Terry McAuliffe in contempt, clearing the way for the Democratic governor to individually grant clemency to some 200,000 nonviolent felons. (Laura Vozzella)

-- Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced he is undergoing what might be his final chemotherapy maintenance treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, after which, he said, he will “hopefully be done forever.” Hogan has been in remission for nearly a year. (Ovetta Wiggins)

-- D.C. and Maryland have the highest median income in the country, according to this week's Census Bureau report, with each hovering around $75,628. (The national median is $56,500.) (Perry Stein)

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

Trump appeared on “The Tonight Show,” weighing in on the “grueling” process of campaigning, defending Matt Lauer’s widely-panned moderation of an NBC Commander-in-Chief forum (“I thought [he] did a wonderful job!”) and, most shockingly – letting host Jimmy Fallon mess with his hair. At first, the Republican nominee hesitated. “I’ll be gentle,” Fallon reassured, proceeding to send his golden locks “flying in every direction.” And though Trump appeared to smile through the process, he quickly moved to tame his mane – and, the AP reported, he also refused to let press take photos of him after the taping. The Hollywood Reporter has write-up.

Here is the 1-minute hair clip:

Trump does a mock job interview:

And he explained why he likes fast food:

Bill Clinton appeared on "The Daily Show" for the first time since Trevor Noah took over from Jon Stewart: Here's a 10-minute clip:

"Jonah" from Veep noted that a congressional candidate's new real-life ad in Minnesota looks just like the ad created for his fake campaign on the show:

Bill Hader spoofed James Carville in "The War Room" in this episode of Documentary Now!:

Lewis Black thinks Trump is making it hard for comedians:

Seth Meyers took a closer look at the Trump foundation:

This pro-Trump super PAC Rebuilding America Now has shifted from running negative ads about Clinton to positives about the Donald because his image is so underwater:

At his rally last night, Trump said he was glad that the traveling press was held up in traffic and not there to see him talk:

Obama spoke at the annual Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute gala:

The secret behind the success of Starbucks's pumpkin spice latte is less in the flavor and more in the type of marketing the company uses: