With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve
THE BIG IDEA: Today’s Democratic primary for Virginia governor between Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam and former congressman Tom Perriello can be viewed through many lenses: establishment vs. insurgent, outsider vs. insider, radical vs. incremental, patrician vs. progressive, neo-populist vs. practiced pragmatist. Some pundits frame the race as some sort of proxy rematch of Hillary Clinton versus Bernie Sanders. Others say it’s more like Clinton versus Barack Obama circa 2008.
With polls showing Northam and Perriello running neck-and-neck, what’s been most striking in the homestretch is how far left both have come. While some of the posturing is certainly about trying to ride the wave of resistance to Donald Trump and appeal to base voters in a low-turnout primary, the journeys both have taken over the past decade tell a larger story about how much the state of Virginia has transformed, from red to purple to maybe even slightly blue.
Northam acknowledges that he voted for George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004. Republicans aggressively wooed him as a freshman state senator in 2009 to defect from the Democratic Party. He ran for LG four years ago as a fiscal conservative and moderate.
Perriello was a one-term wonder in the U.S. House. In 2008, he toppled a longtime incumbent in a ruby-red congressional district around Charlottesville that included the University of Virginia. When students came out in droves to vote for the hope and change offered by Obama, Perriello rode his coattails. Two years later, he got swept out by the tea party wave.
If you watch TV in the D.C. media market, you’ve heard he lost his seat because he voted for Obamacare. That’s true. But he voted for an amendment to the Affordable Care Act that would have prevented any federal subsidies for insurance plans that cover abortion.
Perriello won the National Rifle Association’s endorsement when he ran for Congress after praising the group as “the epitome of people-powered politics.” Now he blasts the NRA as “a nut-job extremist organization.”
-- Virginia was the only Southern state Clinton won last November. In 2008, Obama became the first Democratic presidential candidate to carry the commonwealth since Lyndon Johnson in 1964. The state was hard fought until the end in 2012, and Mitt Romney finished with 47 percent – apropos for that cycle. But Trump garnered just 44 percent in 2016 – the lowest vote share for any GOP nominee since Tom Dewey in 1948.
-- The center of political gravity continues shifting more towards Northern Virginia as the D.C. suburbs grow. This region has become more Democratic with an influx of immigrants, federal employees and highly-educated technology workers. Democrats used to do very well in coal country, meanwhile, but the southwestern region of the state has drifted out of reach and Trump ran up huge margins there. Check out this visualization of how rural parts of the state have become redder over the past few decades, even as the state became bluer because of dense pockets of Democratic support:
-- What a difference a decade makes: To atone for his apostasies, one of Perriello’s very first campaign stops after launching his campaign was at a Falls Church abortion clinic. Though NARAL backed his opponent, he has a 100 percent score based on his answers to the group’s questionnaire. Perriello also now promises free community college, paid family leave and universal pre-kindergarten.
Northam promises a ban on assault weapons, a free associate’s degree in exchange for a year of public service and to make preschool more affordable for low-income families.
They’ve often wound up trying to out-do one another on who can be the most rhetorically anti-Trump. Northam, for instance, calls Trump a “narcissistic maniac” in his stump speech and his TV ads.
Each has also emphasized stylistic and biographic differences. Northam, 57, was a pediatric neurologist who spent eight years in the Army – treating casualties in Desert Storm. Perriello, 42, earned his undergrad and law degrees from Yale and helped prosecute war crimes in Sierra Leone before going to Congress. After he lost, he led the advocacy arm of the liberal Center for American Progress. Then Obama appointed him as a State Department envoy.
-- Perriello, perceived by insiders as the underdog, won the backing of the professional left: Sanders and Elizabeth Warren endorsed him, George Soros gave half a million bucks and out-of-state environmentalists got on board when he opposed two gas pipelines.
-- Northam, who speaks with a rural Southern drawl, scored every establishment endorsement that would traditionally matter in a statewide primary: the governor, both senators, every Democrat in the state legislature and three of the four Democratic congressmen in the delegation. (The fourth is neutral.) He’s also got the pro-choice groups and the teachers unions.
-- Politicians are going to pander. That’s what politicians do. But even if Perriello and Northam are putting their fingers in the wind, all these explicit expressions of liberalism show which way they think the wind is blowing in Virginia. Until very recently, serious Democrats who wanted to win statewide – even ones looking to get a leg up in competitive primaries – were hyper-cautious when answering questions about hot-buttons like guns, abortion, gay rights and drugs. They certainly didn’t bring those issues up – unless it was to break with the Democratic Party as a way of signaling cultural conservatism.
In 2013, Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) foreshadowed the dynamic in this year’s primary by talking up his support for reproductive rights and gun control. He didn’t even have a challenger from his left, but he was trying to gin up the base and mobilize unmarried women who don’t typically vote in off-year elections. It worked.
This was a sea change from 2001, when Mark Warner won the governorship by focusing on red corners of the state as much as the D.C. ‘burbs. He ran as a “radical centrist,” sponsored a NASCAR team, used bluegrass music for his campaign theme song and expressed support for Bush in commercials that ran after Sept. 11. (Warner, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, will be back in the spotlight again today as he questions Attorney General Jeff Sessions.)
-- The winner of today’s Democratic primary will enter the general election as the frontrunner against likely Republican nominee Ed Gillespie. The former Washington lobbyist and RNC chairman, who came within a few thousand votes of toppling Warner in 2014, is the heavy favorite against Corey Stewart, who chaired Trump’s campaign in Virginia last year, and state Sen. Frank Wagner of Virginia Beach. (Read my March Big Idea about the GOP primary here.)
-- Turnout is expected to be low in both primaries, which works in Northam’s favor since he’s the favorite of party regulars.
-- Canvassers for both Democrats lament that the electorate seems largely tuned out, even people who have worked themselves up into an anti-Trump lather. A Washington Post poll last month found that just two in 10 Democratic and Republican-leaning voters were paying “very close” attention to this race. (Laura Vozzella and Fenit Nirappil explored this dynamic in Sunday’s paper.)
-- African Americans could make up as much as a quarter of the Democratic electorate today. Perriello has been running an ad with a clip of Obama offering support for his 2010 reelection, but despite his best efforts he couldn’t get the former president to endorse him. To ensure Obama didn’t come off the sidelines, Jonathan Martin reported in the Times last week, Northam telephoned Eric Holder to assure the former Attorney General that he’d been an early supporter and to request that he pass along the message. While about 30 former Obama aides have publicly offered support for Perriello, endorsements from staffers don’t move votes.
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WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- The Golden State Warriors found redemption, beating the Cleveland Cavaliers 129-120 in Game 5 of the NBA Finals and winning their second championship in three years. Tim Bontemps reports: “Last July, five NBA all-stars met in a room in The Hamptons on Long Island. Four of them — Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala — sat on one side of the table, fresh off an epic collapse from a 3-1 lead against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals. On the other side sat Kevin Durant … So it was fitting Monday night, when the Warriors found themselves in the exact same position — holding a 3-1 lead over these same Cavaliers, trying to close out the NBA Finals on their home court here at Oracle Arena — that Warriors Coach Steve Kerr went repeatedly to the lineup he is often reluctant to use, no matter how unstoppable it is — the five all-stars playing together.”
-- The Senate reached a bipartisan compromise to bring a Russian sanctions bill to the floor for a vote. Karoun Demirjian reports: “The measure, which will be attached to a bill to stiffen Iran sanctions that is under consideration, incorporates proposals to codify existing Russia sanctions, introduce punitive measures against Moscow in light of Russia’s aggressive activities in Ukraine, introduce measures addressing Syria and the realm of cyberhacking, and give Congress the power to review efforts by the administration to scale back sanctions against Russia before they can go through ... The measure filed Monday night directs sanctions toward Russia’s intelligence and defense apparatus, as well as parts of its energy, mining, railways and shipping economy. It also includes provisions to punish those engaged in corruption and human rights abuses.”
GET SMART FAST:
- Congressman-elect Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.) was sentenced to community service and 20 hours of anger-management sessions, avoiding four days of jail time after pleading guilty to the misdemeanor assault of Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs. “You accepted responsibility. You apologized,” said judge Rick West, who noted the millionaire’s business accomplishments at his sentencing hearing. (The Guardian)
- A Pakistani court sentenced a 30-year-old to death after he allegedly posted insulting remarks on Facebook about the Prophet Muhammad. It’s widely believed to be the first-ever case in which someone was given the death penalty for remarks made on social media – and the first time Pakistan has ever executed someone for blasphemy. (The Atlantic)
- NBA hall of famer Dennis Rodman is traveling to North Korea today, making what is at least his fifth trip to the secretive totalitarian state known for its well-documented human-rights abuses. His reason for the trip is unclear, but Rodman – who competed on Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice” – has been widely criticized for his trips to Pyongyang. He is one of the few Americans ever to have met dictator Kim Jong-un, whom he once praised as a “good guy” and his “friend for life.” (New York Magazine)
- J.P. Morgan Chase requested that its ads be pulled from NBC News until after Megyn Kelly's interview with Infowars' Alex Jones airs Sunday. The interview with Jones, a radio host who has called the Sandy Hook shooting a "hoax," has provoked widespread backlash, but Chase is the first advertiser to pull out over the segment. The Sandy Hook Promise Foundation also announced late yesterday that Kelly would no longer host their annual gala. (The Wall Street Journal)
- Ex-Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski is shopping a book to publishers. He previously landed a $1.2 million deal with HarperCollins but lost it over concerns about a nondisclosure agreement he signed during Trump’s campaign. (CNN)
- The jury in Bill Cosby’s sexual-assault trial began deliberating. The seven men and five women of the jury had listened to contradictory portraits of Cosby’s character, including testimony from his accusers, for six days. But the defense rested its case after only a few minutes. (Manuel Roig-Franzia)
- A Florida man who allegedly made over 400,000 attempts to hack the Clinton Foundation’s computer network was sentenced to 18 months in prison. Timothy Sedlak claimed that he was investigating whether the foundation was financially contributing to radical Islamist groups. (Samantha Schmidt)
- A painting, incorrectly labeled as Barack Obama's formal presidential portrait, went viral. The portrait is actually the work of Dutch artist Edwin van den Dikkenberg and features the former president in the tan suit he made famous by wearing it to a press conference in 2014. (Buzzfeed News)
- In a bid to increase the use of solar panels, Google announced the launch of “Project Sunroof,” a free new online tool that informs users how much sunlight hits their roof and how much they would save per month by using a panel. The tool also shows which neighbors have the panelsm, sparking criticism and complaints about privacy. (The Atlantic)
- A 19-year-old woman is being charged with child abandonment after leaving her two toddlers in her car for more than 15 hours -- causing them to collapse and die in the Texas heat. A sheriff called it the “most horrific case of child endangerment” he had ever seen. (New York Times)
- A relaxing Bahamas snorkeling excursion turned horrific for a North Carolina mother of three after she was brutally attacked by a shark who nearly ripped off her entire right arm. The 32-year-old -- who was with her husband on the final stop of their Caribbean cruise -- said she felt no pain and just “thought she had bumped into something.” Instead, she said, she turned and saw “my whole arm in its mouth, just floating there.” (Cindy Boren)
- A man in China was arrested for stealing cats to sell to local restaurants for their meat. The man had captured 500 cats (both strays and pets) and contained them in cramped cages. (Simon Denyer)
- Smirnoff Vodka started a new ad campaign poking fun at the Russia investigations. The vodka company, whose roots trace back to Russia even though it has been produced in the United States for decades, released ads that read, “Made in America, but we’d be happy to talk about our ties to Russia under oath.” (AP)
THERE’S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:
-- Hackers allied with the Russian government have developed a cyberweapon that U.S. researchers say has the potential to be the “most disruptive yet” against essential American electrical systems. Ellen Nakashima reports: “The malware, which researchers have dubbed CrashOverride, is known to have disrupted only one energy system — in Ukraine in December. In that incident, the hackers briefly shut down one-fifth of the electric power generated in Kiev. But with modifications, it could be deployed against U.S. electric transmission and distribution systems to devastating effect, said Sergio Caltagirone, director of threat intelligence for Dragos, a cybersecurity firm that studied the malware … And Russian government hackers have already shown their interest in targeting U.S. energy and other utility systems. ‘It’s the culmination of over a decade of theory and attack scenarios,’ Caltagirone warned. ‘It’s a game changer.’”
-- Russian attempts to hack state voting systems ran far deeper than previously reported and could continue to affect future elections. Bloomberg’s Michael Riley and Jordan Robertson report: “In Illinois, investigators found evidence that cyber intruders tried to delete or alter voter data. The hackers accessed software designed to be used by poll workers on Election Day, and in at least one state accessed a campaign finance database … In all, the Russian hackers hit systems in a total of 39 states ... The new details … show the scope of alleged hacking that federal investigators are scrutinizing as they look into whether Trump campaign officials may have colluded in the efforts. But they also paint a worrisome picture for future elections: The newest portrayal of potentially deep vulnerabilities in the U.S.’s patchwork of voting technologies comes less than a week after former FBI Director James Comey warned Congress that Moscow isn’t done meddling.”
-- British authorities may be covering up the Russian political assassination of Alexander Perepilichnyy. From a Buzzfeed News investigation with five bylines: “The British government is suppressing explosive intelligence that Alexander Perepilichnyy, a financier who exposed a vast financial crime by Russian government officials, was likely assassinated on the direct orders of Vladimir Putin. Perepilichnyy, who faced repeated threats after fleeing to Britain, was found dead outside his home in Surrey after returning from a mysterious trip to Paris in 2012. Despite an expert detecting signs of a fatal plant poison in his stomach, the British police have insisted there was no evidence of foul play."
WOULD TRUMP FIRE MUELLER?
-- A close friend of Trump's raised the politically explosive possibility last night that the president could move to fire Robert Mueller, the newly-appointed special counsel tasked with looking into Russian meddling and potential collusion with Trump’s campaign.
"I think he’s considering perhaps terminating the special counsel," Christopher Ruddy said during an appearance on PBS’s "NewsHour." "I think he’s weighing that option."
Ruddy, who is CEO of Newsmax Media and a member of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club, had been at the White House earlier in the day. "He told PBS that he thinks it would be "a very significant mistake" for Trump to seek Mueller’s termination," John Wagner notes. "Ruddy said that Trump’s consideration of moving to fire Mueller was ‘pretty clear by what one of his lawyers said on television recently.’” The news came ahead of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein -- who appointed Mueller -- giving testimony before two congressional committees today.
So what the heck is Ruddy up to? The right has begun to turn on Mueller in the past few days as the former FBI director brought on some top-flight prosecutors to help with his probe, including experts on financial crimes. Newt Gingrich, who praised the selection of Mueller initially, has taken to saying he's on a witch hunt. Firing Mueller would likely create a Constitutional crisis and might shake some key Republicans who are scared of what they privately see as Trump's abuse of power to finally say so publicly. Chris is pretty savvy, and it is not outside the realm of possibility that he is trying to help his friend by floating the trial balloon so that White House spokespeople have to go on the record to say Trump will never fire Mueller. That said, it may backfire by emboldening Mueller and the FBI agents investigating the Trump orbit.
Predictably, Democrats are apoplectic at the prospect. The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee sent this warning to the president in response to Ruddy's comments:
If President fired Bob Mueller, Congress would immediately re-establish independent counsel and appoint Bob Mueller. Don't waste our time.— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) June 12, 2017
-- Republicans warned against firing Mueller. Politico’s Austin Wright and Kyle Cheney report on a few comments:
- Lindsey Graham: “It would be a disaster … There's no reason to fire Mueller. What's he done to be fired?”
- Susan Collins said firing Mueller would “certainly be an extraordinarily unwise move.”
- Peter King: “I think Bob Mueller’s as good as you’re going to find. I don’t see any reason to remove him now.”
-- Paul Ryan told Hugh Hewitt this morning that Trump shouldn't do it. "I think he should let Bob Mueller do his job," the Speaker said. "Do his job independently."
SESSIONS EXPECTED TO STAY TIGHT-LIPPED:
-- In his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee this afternoon, sources say Jeff Sessions will NOT discuss any private conversations he's had with the president. "It was unclear whether the Attorney General would cite executive privilege as such, or simply say he wants to preserve the confidentiality of his discussions with Trump," Politico’s Tara Palmeri and Josh Gerstein report. "Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers both declined to answer questions about their conversations with Trump during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing last week. The refusal drew the ire of senators from both parties. Neither of the intelligence officials formally invoked executive privilege. Coats said he was declining out of confidentiality concerns that were not legal in nature. Both men said they’d asked the White House for guidance on whether they should discuss conversations with the president. 'To be honest, I didn’t get a definitive answer,' Rogers said."
-- To complicate matters for Sessions, a new report out this morning refutes the attorney general’s claim that he never met with Russian officials in his capacity as a Trump campaign surrogate. The Atlantic’s Julia Ioffe reports: “An analysis of Sessions’ 2016 activities shows a significant spike in the frequency of his contacts with foreign officials after he joined the Trump campaign as a foreign-policy adviser in March. That was when the longtime member of the Armed Services Committee embarked on an intensive program of meetings and dinners with ambassadors and members of Washington’s foreign-policy establishment. His meeting with Kislyak took place during those months. And some of those who met with Sessions said they sought him out not because he was a senator, but precisely because of his role as a Trump campaign surrogate, tasked with advising the campaign on matters of national security.”
-- A U.S. District Court judge in D.C. gave the Justice Department a one-month deadline to produce a copy of Sessions’s security clearance form. CNN’s Eli Watkins reports: “The decision issued Monday afternoon also gave the [DOJ] and the FBI one month to search for any records of [Reince Priebus'] reported outreach to the FBI requesting the bureau refute reports of communications between Russian officials and members of the Trump campaign. The decision came in response to [FOIA] requests from American Oversight, a nonprofit that relies on FOIA to investigate the Trump administration.”
WHAT ABOUT THE TAPES?
-- The Secret Service said it has no audio copies or transcripts of any tapes recorded within Trump’s White House. The Wall Street Journal’s Louise Radnofsky reports: “The agency’s response to a freedom of information request ... doesn’t exclude the possibility that recordings could have been created by another entity. The Secret Service handled recording systems within the White House for past presidents, including [Richard Nixon and JFK].” White House aides continue their refusal to answer any questions about whether there are tapes. At his Cabinet meeting Monday, Trump ignored a shouted question from a reporter about whether there are tapes. [Press Secretary Sean] Spicer told reporters that, “The president made clear in the Rose Garden last week that he would have an announcement shortly.”
-- Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) introduced an impeachment resolution against Trump, with language that echoed the Watergate era. He said he modeled the language off the obstruction-of-justice article that the House Judiciary Committee adopted against Nixon in 1974, Mike DeBonis reports: "Sherman told reporters last week that the draft resolution he was preparing would be 'remarkably similar' to the obstruction-of-justice article that the House Judiciary Committee adopted against Nixon in 1974, and there has indeed been some intergenerational copying-and-pasting ... 'In his conduct while President of the United States, Donald John Trump, in violation of his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has prevented, obstructed and impeded the administration of justice during a federal investigation,' reads Sherman’s draft resolution, which was released Monday."
SEE YOU IN COURT:
-- The White House has found itself thwarted as much, or maybe even more, by the judicial branch as the legislative one.
-- The 9th Circuit upheld the freeze on Trump’s travel ban yesterday, unanimously finding that the suspension of visas to residents from Muslim-majority countries exceeded Trump’s presidential authority. Matt Zapotosky reports: “[The ruling] is another blow to Trump — though the fate of his travel ban already had been destined to be decided by the Supreme Court … The ruling by the 9th Circuit was both logistically and symbolically important — keeping in place the broadest blockade on Trump’s ban and creating new legal and practical paths for the directive to meet its ultimate demise. Unlike other courts in the past, the three judges on the 9th Circuit did not dwell on Trump’s public comments, nor did they declare the president had run afoul of the Constitution because his intent was to discriminate. Instead, they ruled that Trump’s travel ban lacked a sufficient national security or other justification that would make it legal.”
- Key quote: “There is no finding that present vetting standards are inadequate, and no finding that absent the improved vetting procedures there likely will be harm to our national interests,” the judges wrote. “These identified reasons do not support the conclusion that the entry of nationals from the six designated countries would be harmful to our national interests.”
Trump responded on Twitter this morning:
Well, as predicted, the 9th Circuit did it again - Ruled against the TRAVEL BAN at such a dangerous time in the history of our country. S.C.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 13, 2017
-- The Democratic attorneys general for D.C. and Maryland formally announced their lawsuit against Trump, alleging that payments by foreign governments to his sprawling business network violate anti-corruption clauses in the Constitution. Aaron C. Davis and Karen Tumulty report: “The lawsuit, the first of its kind brought by government entities, marks a turning point for Democratic attorneys general and showcases their increasingly influential role in Washington at a time when their party is largely shut out of power … At a news conference Monday, (Karl) Racine and (Brian) Frosh accused Trump of 'flagrantly violating' the Constitution’s emoluments clause ... If it does proceed, Racine and Frosh say they will demand that Trump turn over his personal tax returns … That fight would most likely end up before the Supreme Court, [with] Trump’s attorneys having to defend why the returns should remain private.”
-- Neil Gorsuch issued his first opinion. Robert Barnes reports that the case in question regarded debt collection practices, and the Court returned a unanimous opinion.
-- The White House has begun announcing replacements for the many U.S. attorneys Trump fired in March. Politico's Josh Gerstein reports: "Trump has settled on individuals to take eight of the 93 chief federal prosecutor slots, the White House said in a statement Monday evening detailing his ‘first wave’ of U.S. attorney nominees. Under a Senate procedure known as the ‘blue slip,’ home-state senators usually have an effective veto over U.S. attorney nominees and judges. As a result, the White House does not typically nominate individuals for those posts without the advance buy-in of the relevant senators. Given the current partisan divide and particular anger in the Democratic camp towards Trump, this has complicated the judge and U.S. attorney selections.”
THE TRUMP AGENDA:
-- As the Russia probes threaten to engulf the president's entire agenda, the administration is packing Trump's schedule with policy meetings. Abby Phillip reports: "“In an effort to counteract a never-ending stream of news related to the ongoing investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, the White House has taken the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach to showing progress on policy issues … In recent weeks, aides have increasingly sought to push back on the perception that Trump’s agenda in Congress has stalled, touting the passage of the American Health Care Act in the House of Representatives and efforts to roll back Obama administration policies through the Congressional Review Act as proof that they are making progress. But with the health-care bill still working its way through the Senate and Trump’s tax overhaul proposals still largely unformed, the White House has been left to tout more incremental agenda items.”
-- Trump's promise to end the the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program appears to be on ice. David Nakamura reports: “Statistics from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services released last week showed that more than 17,000 new DACA applicants were approved for the program in the first three months of 2017. In addition, 107,000 immigrants already enrolled in DACA had their two-year work permits renewed during that time … The new figures make clear that the deferred-action program for immigrants brought to the country illegally as children — often known as ‘dreamers’ — has continued at a robust pace under Trump. This comes despite concerns from some immigrant advocates that the administration would start targeting work permit-holders for deportations.” The Huffington Post has a good timeline of Trump's confusing statements on DACA here.
-- As DACA remains in limbo, Iraqi immigrants in Michigan and Tennessee have been increasingly detained by immigration forces. Abigail Hauslohner reports: “The arrests come as the result of a deal between Iraq and the Trump administration this year, when Iraq — seeking to remove itself from Trump’s travel ban on seven Muslim-majority countries — agreed to start accepting deportees who do not have passports or travel documents. The arrangement has provoked fear and anger among Michigan’s large Iraqi Christian community, which appeared to account for a large proportion of the arrests. Chaldean Christian leaders have compared the deportations to a death sentence; deportees are being sent back to a war-torn country that is often hostile to Christians.”
-- Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told Congress Monday that the department only has enough money to fund the government through early September. Damian Paletta and Max Ehrenfreund report: “Mnuchin's comments … came in response to a question about the debt ceiling, which is preventing Treasury from borrowing enough money to cover the large gap between how much money the government brings in through revenue and how much it spends … One reason Treasury is facing a cash crunch is because it is collecting less money in tax revenue than projected. Mnuchin said on Friday that one reason for this is that some Americans are delaying tax payments because they want to take advantage of lower tax rates that could be put in place by the White House and Republicans in Congress.”
-- The Treasury Department also released a report Monday calling for wide-ranging reform of regulations on the financial sector. The Wall Street Journal’s Ryan Tracy and Kate Davidson report: “The Treasury Department report … gives the most detailed road map yet for President Donald Trump’s promise to revisit a wave of regulations put in place after the financial crisis. The proposals would affect activities ranging from mortgage lending to Wall Street trading … If Mr. Trump’s regulatory appointees eventually implement them, the recommendations would pare back restrictions advanced by Obama’s administration, which argued they were necessary to guard against excessive risk-taking and a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis.”
-- Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke recommended that the president “revise the existing boundaries” of the Bears Ears National Historic Monument. Darryl Fears and Juliet Eilperin report: “Native American and environmental groups immediately threatened to sue should Trump follow the recommendation. In an interim report Zinke gave to the White House on Saturday, he proposed Trump ask Congress to give tribal officials authority to co-manage ‘designated cultural resources’ in the area and ‘make more appropriate conservation designations’ within an area that Obama formally protected in southeastern Utah late last year. But Zinke suggested holding off on any final decision until a full review of 27 national monuments designated by Trump’s predecessors is completed.”
-- Senate Republicans are working to finish their draft health-care bill, but have no plans to publicly release it, Axios’s Caitlin Owens reports: “‘We aren’t stupid,’ said one of the aides. One issue is that Senate Republicans plan to keep talking about it after the draft is done: ‘We are still in discussions about what will be in the final product so it is premature to release any draft absent further member conversations and consensus.’ Democratic senators are already slamming Republicans for the secrecy of their bill writing process, and this isn't going to help … [Republicans] want to vote on it in the next three weeks, before the July 4 recess.”
But Politico's Burgess Everett poured some cold water on the timeline: "Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the No. 3 GOP leader, said the June vote time frame is 'an aspiration' but not a hard deadline. CBO is expected to take two to three weeks to complete its work on the bill, though Republicans are already exchanging language with the organization," Burgess reported last night. 'A lot of it is just getting stuff drafted and scored is a challenge. It’s all process now,' Thune said."
-- McConnell will only bring a bill to the floor if he knows it will pass, but moderates are signaling a willingness to compromise on the Medicaid expansion. The Hill’s Peter Sullivan reports: “Critically, Senate moderates are indicating that they can agree to ending the additional federal funds for ObamaCare's expansion of Medicaid, albeit on a slower timetable than other Republicans want. A compromise on Medicaid funding would remove one of the biggest obstacles for the bill. The moderates want the phaseout of the Medicaid funding to take seven years, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) proposed three years on Tuesday.”
-- Another concession to Senate moderates may include additional funding for opioid abuse treatment. The Hill’s Peter Sullivan also reports: “The move would be meant to ease concerns about the effect on opioid addiction treatment from rolling back ObamaCare’s expansion of Medicaid, which currently plays a major role in providing coverage for that treatment. But it's unclear how much funding would be included and whether that could meaningfully fill the gap … [Moderate] Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) has been one of the leaders of the push for the new funding.”
-- Senate Republicans’ progress on health care has Democrats and anti-AHCA interest groups sounding the alarm. The Hill’s Rachel Roubein reports: “AARP is ramping up pressure on senators to vote against provisions in the House-passed ObamaCare repeal-and-replace bill that the influential lobbying group says would hurt older adults. It's launching another seven-figure television ad buy that will run as long as the Senate healthcare reform debate lasts. It’s targeting six more GOP senators than a previous ad buy in May.”
-- Vox’s Sarah Kliff says “Obamacare is in real danger:” “The possibility that Republicans will repeal Obamacare or drive it into collapse is an increasingly real one. That’s a reality where millions fewer have health insurance and lower-income Americans struggle to afford coverage.” She also notes of the possible longer phaseout of Medicaid: “At the end of the day, though, phasing out Medicaid expansion over seven years has the same effect as three years: You end coverage for millions of low-income Americans.”
-- But some Senate Republicans seem less confident that they can pull the bill together quickly. Politico’s Burgess Everett reports: “Senate Republicans are aggressively trying to rein in expectations for their Obamacare repeal effort, wary of blowing a deadline or falling short of 50 votes on a promise that has driven the GOP's political strategy for much of the past decade … The number of outstanding variables is driving the uncertainty. Individual senators continue to raise doubts about coming to an agreement, even though McConnell is telling his members that ‘failure is not an option.’"
-- A new state proposal in Iowa, where all insurers who sell individual plans are threatening to pull out, may provide insight on what to expect in Obamacare marketplaces as the Senate continues to deliberate. Des Moines Register’s Tony Leys reports these details on the deal negotiated between the state’s insurance commissioner and two insurers, Medica and Wellmark Blue Cross & Blue Shield:
- To encourage younger, healthier people to buy plans, “Obamacare money now being used to subsidize health-insurance premiums for moderate-income Iowans would be refigured in a way that would provide a bit more help to young adults than they’re now getting and a bit less help to older adults.”
- “Subsidies would not be cut off at 400 percent of the federal poverty level, as they now are under the Affordable Care Act. People would get some help with premiums even if they make over that amount.”
- “The state would use a ‘reinsurance’ program to help carriers bear the costs of customers with extremely expensive health problems.”
- “Carriers would still not be allowed to deny coverage or charge more to customers who have pre-existing health conditions.”
NEW WORLD ORDER:
-- Senate Democrats, along with at least one maverick Republican, are attempting to push back on Trump’s warming of relations with Saudi Arabia, in particular regarding an arms deal to the country. Karoun Demirjian reports: “Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced Monday that he would vote against a sale of precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia, clearing the way for many other Democrats to follow suit. That means they, and resolution sponsor Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), may need only a few more Republican votes to throw an obstacle in the path of Trump’s plans to see through a contract worth more than $500 million. The measure is expected to come up as soon as Tuesday. If critics of the sale are successful, it would mark the first time in decades that a body of Congress summarily rejected an administration’s attempt to conclude a defense deal with Riyadh.”
-- “One result of the Trump team's inept handling of the Qatar-Saudi controversy has been creation of a vacuum for another major power, such as Turkey or Russia, to replace the U.S. as the honest broker for the Gulf States," Walter Pincus reports in the Cipher Brief.
-- The United States is also beginning to feel the ramifications of pulling out of the Paris climate agreement, and they seem to include an escalating isolation from the rest of the world. Chris Mooney reports: [Trump’s decision to leave the agreement] "seems to suggest the United States is increasingly isolated as other nations reiterate their commitment to climate action in group statements and the United States, via footnote, says it isn’t part of all that. In a meeting of Group of Seven environment ministers in Bologna, Italy, the Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt, declined to ‘join’ large sections of the communique. That includes a full 18 paragraphs on climate change, and another eight on multilateral development banks (which fund climate initiatives around the world).”
-- Jim Mattis declared North Korea "the most urgent and dangerous threat to peace and security” before the House Armed Services Committee last night. Dan Lamothe reports: “The statement was included in [Mattis’s] prepared opening statement, five months after Mattis identified Russia as first among threats facing the U.S. The change comes as Pyongyang moves forward with what the United States calls an unprecedented number of tests on nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles and as the Trump administration’s connections to Russia are scrutinized … ‘North Korea’s continued pursuit of nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them has increased in pace and scope,’ Mattis said. ‘The regime’s nuclear weapons program is a clear and present danger to all, and the regime’s provocative actions … have not abated despite United Nations’ censure and sanctions.’ But Mattis still identified Russia as a threat, along with China, Iran and terrorist organizations.”
-- A North Korean drone captured images of an American missile defense system in South Korea before crashing, Seoul announced Tuesday. AP’s Hyung-Jin Kim reports: “The finding came four days after North Korea tested new anti-ship missiles in a continuation of weapons launches that have complicated new South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s push to improve ties frayed over the North’s nuclear ambitions.”
-- White House press secretary Sean Spicer denounced Russia’s mass arrests of peaceful protesters. Russian police said they made 650 arrests at “illegal rallies” in Moscow and St. Petersburg alone yesterday, but outside groups put the number at over 1,000. (Andrew Roth and David Filipov)
-- “Britain’s Theresa May comes under pressure to soften her stance on Brexit,” by Griff Witte and Karla Adam: “Even though the country had split nearly down the middle in last year’s referendum … none of the major parties ran on a platform of reversing the public’s decision to leave the E.U. The vote has nonetheless been a jolt to the country’s exit plans, raising the fears of die-hard Brexiteers, the hopes of those favoring a more limited separation from European allies and the question of whether May will be around to steer the course she’s charted toward a sharp rupture. … ‘We now have a Parliament that’s gridlocked,’ said John Springford, research director for the Center for European Reform. ‘It doesn’t appear that there’s a majority for hard Brexit, a majority for soft Brexit, or certainly not a majority for remain. It’s a very confused picture.’”
TRUMP'S SURREAL CABINET MEETING:
-- The president gathered top administration staffers and members of the news media Monday for what he billed as his first full Cabinet meeting. But any intent to discuss policy or items related to his agenda was quickly pushed to the back-burner, as each of Trump’s top staffers took turns lavishing over-the-top praise on the commander-in-chief. John Wagner reports: “White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus spoke up to thank Trump ‘for the opportunity and blessing that you’ve given us to serve your agenda and the American people.’ Priebus said he was offering words on behalf of everyone in the room. But one by one, pretty much everyone else seated around the table took the opportunity to lavish their leader with praise, too, as the media looked on … The effort to buck up the boss drew immediate notice on social media, with some comparing Trump to King Lear.”
-- Here are a few of the most fawning comments from Cabinet members:
- “It’s an honor to be able to serve you,” said Jeff Sessions.
- “What an incredible honor it is to lead the Department of Health and Human Services at this pivotal time under your leadership,” Tom Price said.
- “Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao thanked Trump for visiting her department last week, relaying that ‘hundreds and hundreds of people were just so thrilled.’”
-- Some of the reporters present felt that the heaping of praise on the president echoed the worshipping of leaders in less democratic nations. CNBC’s John Harwood reports: “In more than three decades of covering the White House, I've never seen such an extended public display of flattery for a president from his chosen subordinates. At moments it resembled the kind of fawning that some of the strongmen rulers Trump has praised — such as Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte — might receive from their deputies … Trump succeeded in getting cable television networks to air the spectacle. What's unclear is whether that helps or hurts the president with his political problems.”
-- “The whole thing reminded me of a scene directly from the boardroom of ‘The Apprentice,’” CNN’s Chris Cillizza writes. “A group of supplicants all desperately trying to hold on to their spots on the show by effusively praising Trump -- each one trying to take it a step further than the last. And Trump in the middle of it all, totally and completely pleased with himself. (Reminder: Around that Cabinet table are hugely accomplished generals, billionaires and political people with long track records of success.) What those contestants knew is the same thing Trump's Cabinet has now realized: Flattery will get you everywhere."
-- Trump also used the Cabinet meeting as an opportunity to tout his administration’s “amazing progress” in achieving its goals, despite the lingering cloud of the Russia investigations. The president said: “Never has there been a president, with few exceptions — case of FDR, he had a major depression to handle — who has passed more legislation and who has done more things than what we’ve done … I think we’ve been about as active as you can possibly be at a just about record-setting pace.” Trump’s claim about enacting the most legislation is “sort of” correct, Philip Bump reports. “The claim leans heavily on two things: treating all passed legislation as equal and counting executive orders as significant accomplishments.”
-- But not all of Trump’s top advisers were as comforting as he might have wished:
Notably Mattis praises the troops in Cabinet meeting, rather than POTUS— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) June 12, 2017
-- “Trump’s claim his nominees faced ‘record-setting long’ delays,” by Glenn Kessler: “Trump made a number of dubious claims when speaking to the media at a photo opportunity with his Cabinet … But let’s not dwell on the negative. Here is something he said that’s correct … 14 of Trump’s Cabinet nominees faced a cloture vote, compared to 11 for all previous presidents combined. (There were four instances, two under Obama and two under Bush, when a cloture vote was threatened but ultimately withdrawn.) It is noteworthy that the cloture votes during previous presidencies all took place during the president’s second term. There was a presumption in the Senate of letting a new president get his first-term team in place quickly that apparently has gone by the wayside.”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
The Cabinet meeting was quickly lampooned by many, including the Senate’s top Democrat, in a fairly elaborate troll:
GREAT meeting today with the best staff in the history of the world!!! pic.twitter.com/ocE1xhEAac— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) June 12, 2017
This cabinet meeting - "go around the table, say what you do and how honored you are to serve me." pic.twitter.com/axqh5KIbTQ— Michael Urie (@michaelurie) June 12, 2017
Trump cabinet meeting is a fascinating depiction of what seems to be a meeting to pat Trump on the head and tell him he's a good boy.— Sarah Burris (@SarahBurris) June 12, 2017
And this searing critique from the Weekly Standard's editor-at-large:
The American experiment in honorable and dignified self-government.— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) June 12, 2017
July 4, 1776 - June 12, 2017.
From acclaimed presidential biographer Jon Meacham:
230 summers ago, in Philadelphia, a band of flawed, well-meaning men constructed a republic that's endured. Now it's being tested again.— Jon Meacham (@jmeacham) June 13, 2017
From Mitt Romney's chief strategist:
Asked my dad why he left FBI & joined Navy when ordered to help round up Asian Americans for internment. "You can always say no." Still true— stuart stevens (@stuartpstevens) June 12, 2017
A comment from Ivanka Trump during her Fox and Friends interview yesterday raised some eyebrows:
Ivanka on Fox News: "There's a level of viciousness I wasn't expecting" [in DC pic.twitter.com/VPuQzRipZ0— David Mack (@davidmackau) June 12, 2017
How was she not expecting it? Did she not see what her father did to Obama/Clinton? What Fox News did to Chelsea for years? https://t.co/gOovIS0G7W— Emily C. Singer (@CahnEmily) June 12, 2017
Her father sold "Hillary for Prison" merch in his official campaign shop. https://t.co/PJHdnAEchn— Matt Compton (@mattcompton) June 12, 2017
Her dad spent years suggesting the previous president forged his US citizenship. https://t.co/oumlAVvd56— Dominic Holden (@dominicholden) June 12, 2017
Worked on a campaign that made jailing their opponent a theme, accused rival's father of being in on the JFK assassination...sure okay lol https://t.co/Uu8VFu43jZ— Jason Linkins (@dceiver) June 12, 2017
Her father got elected calling Mexicans rapists. What level was she expecting? https://t.co/7r6N22O31F— Quentin Hardy (@qhardy) June 12, 2017
Ivanka Trump's father-in-law once hired a prostitute to seduce his brother-in-law and mailed the tape to his sister https://t.co/m0PoMAHKXh— Mark Berman (@markberman) June 12, 2017
Senate Democrats registered their discontent that they have been shut out of health care negotiations.
BREAKING: Senate Republicans just released the schedule of hearings, committee markups and public testimony for their health care bill. pic.twitter.com/iHtXyZqyMW— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) June 12, 2017
Well, that was fun, but in all seriousness, the Republicans are trying to pass a health care bill in the dead of night. 1/7— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) June 12, 2017
Behind closed doors, GOP is drafting a health care bill that looks a lot like the bad version passed by the House https://t.co/3CmDobeP3T— Senator Gary Peters (@SenGaryPeters) June 12, 2017
Health care is too important for secrecy – we’re talking about the lives and health care of millions of Americans here!— Senator Chris Coons (@ChrisCoons) June 12, 2017
We don't know what exactly is in GOP health bill yet. But we know it will be bad. https://t.co/cAdbHxeOMk— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) June 12, 2017
Many remembered the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting, who were murdered one year ago yesterday:
Today, all of Florida remembers and honors the 49 innocent lives lost one year ago at Pulse. pic.twitter.com/e4m1Mm1nH5— Rick Scott (@FLGovScott) June 12, 2017
A year later, and the loss and the shock still feels like just this morning.— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) June 12, 2017
Thinking about you today Orlando.
Loved ones, lawmakers and journalists wished former President George H.W. Bush a happy 93rd birthday.
Wishing my Dad a very happy 93rd birthday today! Here's a great piece on his lifelong commitment to public service: https://t.co/uFYb77gRm5— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) June 12, 2017
Happy birthday to my hero @GeorgeHWBush -- fancy a parachute jump on your 93rd?— George P. Bush (@georgepbush) June 12, 2017
Wishing George H. W. Bush a very happy birthday! 🎂🎈🎉 The former president turns 93 today. pic.twitter.com/nMMeF8siVC— FOX 5 DC (@fox5dc) June 12, 2017
Today is 93rd birthday Pres. George HW Bush. On his 18th birthday (1942). Bush graduated high school, enlisted in the Navy - youngest pilot pic.twitter.com/E9rW1p7nrr— Howard Mortman (@HowardMortman) June 12, 2017
And a House Democrat attempted to memorialize the president's famous Twitter misspelling through legislation.
My Communications Over Various Feeds Electronically for Engagement or #COVFEFEAct expands Presidential Records Act to include social media.— Mike Quigley (@RepMikeQuigley) June 12, 2017
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
During her Fox and Friends interview, Ivanka dodged a question about her husband’s infighting with fellow White House advisers: “There is a 24-hour news cycle that gets fed by and is encouraged by lots of salacious details. But, at the end of the day, we're all focused on the work, and that's very true for Jared. So, he, you know, he's somebody who just likes to get things done. So he doesn't get involved in, sort of, all of that.”
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
-- The New Yorker, “Remembering the Crime You Didn’t Commit,” by Rachel Aviv: “[Ada JoAnn] Taylor confessed to the woman’s murder in 1989 and for two decades believed that she was guilty. She served more than nineteen years for the crime before she was pardoned. She was one of six people accused of the murder, five of whom took pleas; two had internalized their guilt so deeply that, even after being freed, they still had vivid memories of committing the crime. In no other case in the United States have false memories of guilt endured so long. The situation is a study in the malleability of memory: an implausible notion, doubted at first, grows into a firmly held belief that reshapes one’s autobiography and sense of identity.”
HOT ON THE LEFT:
“Wyoming Town Hall Replaces Donald Trump Portrait With Photo Of Native American Chief,” from HuffPost: “A Wyoming mayor’s decision to remove portraits of President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence from the town hall and replace them with a picture of a Native American chief has some community members up in arms. Mayor Pete Muldoon of Jackson, Wyoming, directed town staff members to make the swap on June 5, saying there is no requirement to have a picture of the president displayed in the building.”
HOT ON THE RIGHT:
“A public university eases limits on chalk messages after complaint from anti-abortion group,” from Justin Wm. Moyer: “A public university in Pennsylvania lifted restrictions on what students may write in chalk on campus walkways after an anti-abortion group complained some of its messages were erased by the school. In March, a chapter of Students for Life of America, an anti-abortion group based in Virginia, complained after chalk messages that read ‘Stop abortion’ and ‘Life is sacred’ were cleaned from sidewalks at Kutztown University ... The school’s ‘posting and chalking guidelines’ had included prohibitions on messages ‘infringing upon the rights of others’ and ‘endangering the health or safety of the University community’ … Days later, the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal group … said erasing the messages violated students’ First Amendment rights. ‘Playing favorites while stifling free speech is, sadly, an all-too-common response of abortion advocates, who prefer to silence opposition …’” said SFLA president Kristan Hawkins.
President Trump will meet with his national security adviser before traveling to Milwaukee to discuss health care and workforce development, as well as attend a fundraiser for Gov. Scott Walker.
The vice president will give a speech on health care at HHS and then spend the rest of the day on Capitol Hill for a series of meetings with congressional Republicans.
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- Brace yourselves, D.C. residents: today could be the hottest day of the year so far, the Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Noticeably higher humidity as temperatures rocket into the middle to upper 90s under mostly sunny skies … The heat index ranges from the upper 90s to low 100s. Please be careful with all outdoor activity, staying hydrated and keeping that high SPF sunscreen slathered on.”
-- The Nationals lost to the Braves 11-10, thanks to the Braves’ three-run homer in the ninth.
-- The National Museum of African American History and Culture museum was evacuated yesterday after authorities found a suspicious package. Justin Wm. Moyer reports: “At around 7:30 p.m., a spokesman for D.C. police said the package was cleared and determined not to be a threat. The suspicious package was found less than two weeks after a noose was discovered in a public gallery at the museum last month.”
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
The president's children are becoming his most steadfast surrogates on television.
Stephen Colbert interviewed Oliver Stone.
Seth Meyers talked about Melania and Barron Trump's move to the White House--and mocked Sean Spicer in the process.