With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve

THE BIG IDEA: With the Russia scandal and self-inflicted wounds paralyzing his White House, it’s easy to lose sight of the tectonic forces that powered President Trump’s victory last year. But they continue to exist, and they’re a major reason he remains remarkably popular among Republicans.

Republican lobbyist Bruce Mehlman, who has long represented technology companies, sees parallels between the cycle of disruption that’s churned through Silicon Valley and what’s now wreaking havoc on Washington.

“The forces that set the stage for Donald Trump’s election are long-term, structural and global,” Mehlman told me yesterday. “Much like Uber, Trump perceived the opportunity to reach directly to the public to disrupt a dysfunctional marketplace that lacked innovation and failed to satisfy consumers. Also much like Uber, he flouted conventions and tested the limits of traditional rules, fighting the entrenched establishment while seeking its acceptance…. Disruption is hard and, well, disruptive. It usually leaves observers feeling exhausted, uncertain and ultimately either angry or exhilarated.”

In a new PowerPoint presentation for his clients, Mehlman notes that voters sought change in five of the past six elections. Exit polls last November showed that a candidate’s ability to “bring change” mattered far more to voters than whether they had the “right experience” or “good judgment.”

-- How did we get here? Mehlman diagnoses seven long-term trends that are both symptomatic of and drivers of disruption:

1. Substantial social change. The United States is a very different place than it was 50 years ago. In 1967, the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans controlled 27 percent of the wealth. Now they have 42 percent. Fewer than one in 10 kids were born out of wedlock; now it’s four in 10. Foreign-born people make up three times the share of the U.S. population (15 percent) as they did then. There are vastly more women in the workforce, vastly fewer whites with no college degree and one-third of 18- to 34-year-olds now live with their parents.

2. Accelerating technological change. It used to take 387,923 workers to manufacture $1 billion in goods. Now it takes 26,785. It took 75 years for the telephone to reach 100 million homes after it was invented. It took just a few months for Candy Crush to reach that milestone.

3. Weakened anchor institutions. Seven in 10 adults were married in 1967. Now it’s 50 percent. Three in 10 workers were members of labor unions then. Now it’s 11 percent. Two-thirds of Americans trusted government. It’s never been close to that since Vietnam and Watergate. The latest studies show only about 20 percent of the country trusts the feds to do the right thing.

4. The loss of honest brokers. Trust in media has been on a steady decline among not just Republicans but also Democrats and independents since Walter Cronkite was the most trusted man in America in 1972.

5. Leaders overpromised and underdelivered. Mehlman cites four examples: Barack Obama told people they could keep their doctors if they liked them under Obamacare. Dick Cheney said Americans would be “greeted as liberators” in Iraq. Bill Clinton said he did not have sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky. George H.W. Bush told the country to read his lips as he promised no new taxes.

6. Politicians deferred hard choices. Entitlement spending has eaten up a bigger and bigger share of the federal budget, and Washington has lacked the political will to make tough choices. Mandatory spending rose from 53 percent of the budget in 1976 to 69 percent in 2016.

7. The parties have lost their primacy. Outside groups, which tend to be more ideological and focused on single issues, have made the Republican and Democratic Party apparatuses less relevant since the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision. This has empowered plutocrats.

-- Most insiders believe that next year's midterms will become the sixth change election in the past seven cycles. The only question is whether it will be a big enough wave to let Democrats win the House.

-- What remains remarkable about the past six months is how durable the president’s support has been among Republicans. Despite objectively losing almost every news cycle since he took office, Trump’s approval rating among GOP voters is still at the same level in Gallup’s tracking polls as George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan at this point in their presidencies.

The number who “strongly approve” of the job Trump is doing has slipped, though, and a few recent polls have suggested that another split is starting to emerge too. Mehlman notes that the most recent NBC-Wall Street Journal poll asked people who voted for the president whether they did so because they were “for” him or “against” Hillary Clinton. Among the 60 percent who said they said they voted for Trump, 95 percent approve of the job he’s doing. Among the 40 percent who got behind him because they were against Clinton, his approval rating slipped from 87 percent in February to 81 percent in June.

Trump has also not expanded his base. The 35 percent of independents who approve of how Trump is doing is even lower than the 38 percent who approved of Gerald Ford after he pardoned Richard Nixon. It’s lower at the six-month mark than for any president since Gallup began tracking under Dwight Eisenhower.

The same goes for his approval among Democrats. At this point in Obama’s presidency, 20 percent of Republicans still approved of him. Only 8 percent of Democrats approve of Trump.

Mehlman, a lifelong Republican, notes that Democrats are right to be encouraged by their strength in the generic ballot, their overperformance in recent special elections and the surge of new candidates filing to run. But he also notes that neither party enjoys the kind of polling advantages on individual issues that they did before the most recent waves in 2014 and 2006. The closest is health care: The WSJ-NBC poll gave Democrats a 17-point edge on which party is best suited to handle it. In 2006, though, Democrats had a 31-point advantage on health care.

-- So what’s going to get done this year? Congress will do what it must,” said Mehlman, a partner at the bipartisan firm Mehlman, Castagnetti, Rosen & Thomas. That means passing a bunch of funding and extension bills by Sept. 30, as well as reauthorizing FISA surveillance by Dec. 31. He thinks a short-term government shutdown (“two weeks”) is possible this fall. He’s unsure about Congress’s ability to pass a big-ticket bill on health care and forecasts tax cuts rather than a paid-for permanent overhaul of the tax code. Mehlman’s somewhat pessimistic view comports with what I’m hearing from other plugged-in GOP lobbyists on K Street. (See his full 40-page slide deck here.)

-- We launched a new podcast this week. Check it out!

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WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

-- Trump has kicked off his visit to Paris, where he will participate in the country’s Bastille Day celebrations, which will include a military parade commemorating the centennial of America’s entry into World War I. The event that was apparently a huge selling point to the president. Jenna Johnson and James McAuley report: “French President Emmanuel Macron told Trump in a June 27 phone call about the event, which this year will feature U.S. and French troops marching through the historic streets near the Arc de Triomphe, fighter jets cutting through the skies above, and flags, horses and military equipment on display — the sort of spectacle that Trump wanted to stage at his own inauguration in January. Trump told Macron he would be there.… Trump and Macron are political outsiders in the early months of their presidencies, and their relationship has been defined by public confrontations.… But administration officials from both countries insist this visit will be a friendly one that is focused on the long relationship between the two nations.”

-- “The invitation by [Macron] might not only give Mr. Trump a brief respite from his domestic political woes, but also establish Mr. Macron’s standing as Mr. Trump’s primary point of contact in Western Europe,” the New York Times’ Adam Nossiter reports. “It’s a position Mr. Macron appears to have fallen into almost by default, as the British focus on their exit from the European Union; Germany’s chancellor expresses open disdain for Mr. Trump; and the southern Europeans remain in perennial fiscal difficulty. But it is also a role that Mr. Macron has assumed with relish: The whiz kid of French politics has a seemingly limitless confidence in his capacity for seduction.… That attitude already has some French commentators accepting the idea that Mr. Macron ‘has become the privileged interlocutor’ of Mr. Trump in Europe, said Nicolas Tenzer, who teaches at Sciences Po.… The America that fascinates Mr. Macron — Silicon Valley and the culture of start-ups — is not Mr. Trump’s America, but Mr. Macron, a former investment banker, is a pragmatist, not an ideologue.

Despite Trump’s deep unpopularity in France, Macron’s people seem to be reacting to the president’s visit with a shrug: “The reaction to his invitation has been muted, with only the far left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon audibly complaining.… But no major demonstrations are planned; their distaste for him aside, the French appear to be shrugging their collective shoulders over Mr. Trump as one more unfathomable American leader, just as they did with President George W. Bush.”

-- What about Trump’s friend Jim? The AP’s Vivian Salama reports: “The way Trump tells it — Jim is a friend who loves Paris and used to visit every year. Yet when Trump travels to the city Thursday for his first time as president, it’s unlikely that Jim will tag along. Jim doesn’t go to Paris anymore. Trump says that’s because the city has been infiltrated by foreign extremists. Whether Jim exists is unclear. Trump has never given his last name. The White House has not responded to a request for comment about who Jim is or whether he will be on the trip.… The Jim story highlights differences on immigration between Trump and major European leaders, including [Macron].”

-- Meanwhile, the annual summer meeting of the National Governors Association begins today in Rhode Island, and the event is expected to include some unusual appearances from international leaders, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Dan Balz writes: “The sudden interest in the work of the governors from abroad reflects fears by leaders of some foreign governments about the direction of U.S. trade policy under a president who has sharply criticized free-trade agreements negotiated by past administrations.…The number of attendees from foreign governments underscores concerns that these nations’ economic interests are at risk. The result is a more concerted effort by officials in other countries to create relationships below the level of the federal government that can help to maintain support for freer trade, particularly in North America. It is as if they are attempting to build a wall of protection, with the help of governors, as a bulwark against the president’s intentions.”

GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. Former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was sentenced to more than nine years in prison for corruption and money laundering. His convictions are tied to “Operation Car Wash” — a sprawling corruption investigation traced from a Brasilia gas station to the highest echelons of the government — and come as a major blow to Lula, once hailed as an innovative leftist leader. He has dismissed the charges as a “witch hunt.” (Marina Lopes
  2. The mastermind of the “Bridgegate” scheme that has mired New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s administration in controversy will not go to prison. David Wildstein was sentenced to three years of probation and 500 hours of community service after testifying against two former Christie aides who were convicted. (NBC News)
  3. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) was moved out of intensive care but remains in serious condition. Nearly a month after the shooting that critically injured him, the House Republican is being treated for infection. (AP)
  4. Guests at 14 Trump properties have had their credit card information exposed. The incident represents the third time in three years that the luxury hotel chain has been affected by a security breach. (Abha Bhattarai)
  5. The Justice Department inspector general found that federal inmates, including those with mental illnesses, are being kept in solitary confinement for long stretches of time. The practice violates Obama-era federal policy adopted in 2014. (Sari Horwitz)
  6. An FDA advisory committee unanimously recommended approval of a gene-altering treatment for leukemia, which transforms the patient’s cells into a “living drug” to ramp up the immune system and help shut down the disease. Although the FDA is not bound by the panel’s enthusiastic endorsement, scientists say it is likely to approve the treatment. (Laurie McGinley)
  7. One of the biggest icebergs in recorded history just broke loose from Antarctica, unleashing a trillion-ton block of ice that contains twice as much volume as Lake Erie. Scientists said the change is large enough that it will trigger a redrawing of the Antarctic coastline. (Chris Mooney)
  8. A 19-year-old girl in California was arrested and punched in the mouth by a police officer last month, after authorities mistook her for a bald, 170-pound black man. (She weighs more than 50 pounds less.) A  video of in which she describes the encounter has since gone viral, prompting outrage and a spate of protests. (Amy B Wang)
  9. Hundreds of German special police executed raids across Berlin yesterday as they searched for a gold coin the size of a manhole cover. The $3.9 million coin was taken earlier this year in a brazen museum heist, which authorities said involved elevated railroad tracks, a wheelbarrow, and possibly the help of an insider. (Alex Horton)
  10. A Canadian fisherman who founded and led a whale-rescuing group for more than a decade was tragically killed this week ... by a whale. The animal he freed from a net apparently struck and killed him. Freeing whales is painstaking, dangerous work, and the massive animals are prone to be upset or act unpredictably after being trapped. (Amy B Wang)
  11. A 14-year-old girl was fatally electrocuted while using her cellphone in the bathtub. Now her family is taking to social media to spread the dangers of using electronics around water. (Katie Mettler)
  12. Some Florida parents are warning others about the dangers of trampoline use for young children, after an accident at a trampoline park left their 3-year-old son in a cast from the waist down. Experts recommend that children younger than 6 should not use trampolines, the boy’s mother said, something that she wasn't aware of before his accident. (Lindsey Bever)

DRIP, DRIP, DRIP:

-- Investigators are reexamining conversations detected by U.S. intelligence agencies in spring 2015 in which Russian government officials are overheard discussing Donald Trump's associates. The Wall Street Journal’s Shane Harris reports: “In some cases, the Russians in the overheard conversations talked about meetings held outside the U.S. involving Russian government officials and Trump business associates or advisers, these people said. The 2015 conversations were detected several months before Mr. Trump declared his candidacy for the White House, [and] have been in investigators’ possession for some time, but officials said the Donald Trump Jr. news this week prompted them to look at them again.… In 2015, intelligence agencies weren’t sure what to make of the surveillance reports, which they viewed as vague and inconclusive, the current and former officials said. But the volume of the mentions of Trump associates by the Russians did have officials asking each other, ‘What’s going on?’ one former official said.”

-- The Justice Department, as well as both the House and Senate Intelligence committees, are investigating the Trump campaign’s digital operation, which was led by Jared Kushner, to determine whether it helped Moscow’s sophisticated voter targeting and “fake news” attacks on Clinton. McClatchy's Peter Stone and Greg Gordon report: “[Investigators] are focusing on whether Trump’s campaign pointed Russian cyber operatives to certain voting jurisdictions in key states — areas where Trump’s digital team and Republican operatives were spotting unexpected weakness in voter support for [Clinton].… One source familiar with Justice's criminal probe said investigators doubt Russian operatives controlling the so-called robotic cyber [commands] could have independently ‘known where to specifically target … to which high-impact states and districts in those states.’ ... Rep. Adam Schiff said he wants the House panel to determine whether these fake or damaging stories were in any way coordinated, and whether there was 'any exchange of information, any financial support funneled to organizations' from the Trump campaign.”

-- “Even as the White House labors to present a business-as-usual facade, there is evidence that Mr. Trump’s family will be drawn deeper into the investigation,” the New York Times’ Mark Landler and Maggie Haberman report. “Two officials [said the Senate Intelligence Committee] was now planning to expand its inquiry to include Donald Trump Jr. Also under scrutiny is how forthcoming Mr. Kushner was with his father-in-law about the nature of the June meeting. He met with Mr. Trump to discuss the issue [around] the time he updated his federal disclosure form.... Mr. Kushner supplemented the list of foreign contacts three times, adding more than 100 names.” Kushner reportedly played down the significance of the meeting and omitted “significant” details — informing his father-in-law that he had met with a Russian foreign national, but it would 'not cause a problem' for the administration.”

-- Trump’s outside legal team is seeking to wall off Kushner from discussing the ongoing Russia investigation with his father-in-law. Axios’s Jonathan Swan reports: “Members of Trump's legal team are frustrated that Kushner has been discussing the investigation with the president [and] are trying to cloak their startling demand with the two-word message to Kushner: Nothing personal. The mechanics of the wall are unclear, but it apparently would constitute an agreement by Kushner not to discuss anything about the Russia probes with the president. The demand could exacerbate tensions between Trump's team and Kushner's high-profile lawyers [and] a  fractured team … could make it even harder for Trump to defend himself and at the same time pass parts of his agenda.”

FBI DIRECTOR NOMINEE PLEDGES INDEPENDENCE:

-- Christopher Wray, Trump’s pick to replace James Comey as FBI director, testified Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee — pledging to lawmakers that he would maintain the bureau’s independence and resign before improperly dropping an investigation. Ellen Nakashima and Karoun Demirjian report“Wray, a former federal prosecutor under George W. Bush, said he has had two meetings with Trump and other White House officials as part of the nomination process, and went into them 'listening very carefully' for any hints of pressure. 'If anything had been said that made me remotely uncomfortable, I would not be sitting here today,' he said.

“Wray’s promise to resign before yielding to such pressure appeared to satisfy Republicans and Democrats that he would assert his independence on the job. Asked by [ranking Democrat Dianne Feinstein] to commit to alerting the panel if he learned of any ‘machinations to tamper with’ the investigation, Wray said he would consult with officials to ensure he was not jeopardizing the inquiry. ‘But I would consider an effort to tamper with Director Mueller’s investigation unacceptable and inappropriate,’ [he said].”

AFTER DAYS OF SILENCE, TRUMP SPEAKS OUT:

-- President Trump told Reuters on Wednesday that he did not fault Donald Trump Jr. for meeting with a Russian lawyer in June 2016, attempting to dismiss the wave of stunning revelations surrounding his eldest son as a decision “made in the heat” of an upstart, nontraditional campaign. “I think many people would have held that meeting,” Trump told Steve Holland“Many people, and many political pros, said everybody would do that.” Trump reiterated his claim that Vladimir Putin denied meddling in the U.S. presidential campaign when the two met in Hamburg last week, telling Reuters that he “asked him directly” and spent the first 20 or 25 minutes of their meeting on the subject. “‘I said, 'Did you do it?' And he said, 'No, I did not. Absolutely not.' I then asked him a second time in a totally different way. He said absolutely not,’ Trump said. Asked if he believed Putin's denial, Trump paused. ‘Look. Something happened and we have to find out what it is, because we can’t allow a thing like that to happen to our election process. So something happened and we have to find out what it is,’ he said. About Putin, he added: Somebody did say if he did do it, you wouldn’t have found out about it. Which is a very interesting point.’”

As he has done in the past, Trump flatly denied any collusion between Russia. He noted conflicting interests between the two, such as energy production, which he said made him wonder whether the Russian president really supported him last year. “It’s really the one question I wish I would have asked Putin: Were you actually supporting me?” he said.

-- Trump doubled down on those doubts in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network’s Pat Robertson, going so far as to suggest Putin would have preferred Hillary Clinton in the White House. “[We] are the most powerful country in the world, and we are getting more and more powerful because I’m a big military person,” he said. “As an example, if Hillary had won, our military would be decimated. Our energy would be much more expensive. That’s what Putin doesn’t like about me. And that’s why I say, Why would he want me? Because from Day One I wanted a strong military; he doesn’t want to see that. And from Day One I want fracking and everything else to get energy prices low and to create tremendous energy. … He doesn’t want that. He would like Hillary where she wants to have windmills. He would much rather have that ... So there are many things that I do that are the exact opposite of what he would want. So what I keep hearing about that he would have rather had Trump, I think probably not.”

-- “The reasons Putin may have favored Trump over Clinton are myriad,” The Fix’s Aaron Blake writes. “Putin's history with Clinton was a strained one, at best, for a whole host of reasons. Clinton in 2011 criticized corrupt parliamentary elections in Russia as ‘neither free nor fair.’ It was during her time as secretary of state that Congress passed the Magnitsky Act instituting sanctions against Russia for human rights abuses.… And after the Russian annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, Clinton in 2014 compared Putin to Hitler. Trump, meanwhile, spent almost the entirety of his campaign saying curiously nice things about Putin, who was then a reviled foreign leader even among Republicans."

HEALTH CARE WILL DOMINATE THE NEWS TODAY:

-- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has called a meeting on health care at 11:30 this morning with all 52 Republican senators, likely to preview the draft of his new bill.

-- In his interview with Pat Robertson, Trump said that he would be “very angry” if Senate Republicans failed to deliver a health-care bill overhauling Obamacare to his desk. Sean Sullivan, John Wagner and Kelsey Snell report: “The president’s remarks also came amid concerns from conservative lawmakers and activists that McConnell’s revamped measure would not undo the Affordable Care Act aggressively enough. Those worries, alongside lingering anxiety among centrist Republicans that the bill is going too far, threatened to leave the rebooted effort short of the votes it will need to pass. … Amid the discord, some signs emerged that McConnell was making progress. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), one of five GOP senators who so opposed the original draft that they planned to block the bill from moving to the Senate floor for debate, said Wednesday that he no longer plans to do that.

-- Conservatives may be worried, but Republican centrists also feel that they have been somewhat left behind. Politico’s Burgess Everett And Rachana Pradhan report: “In a closed-door meeting of Senate Republican chairmen Wednesday, Lisa Murkowski ripped GOP leaders’ attempt to scale back Medicaid spending in their Obamacare repeal bill…. GOP leaders are set to unveil a new version of their health bill Thursday, but no major changes have been made to satisfy senators concerned about winding down Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion and aggressive Medicaid cuts over the next decade. So even as [McConnell] struggles to keep restive conservatives like Ted Cruz and Mike Lee on board, lingering concerns from moderates like Murkowski could signal the bill’s demise. ... [John] Cornyn said Medicaid is still ‘one of the biggest challenges’ leaders face.

-- Reality check: Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is almost certainly a “no” vote. If McConnell loses Murkowski, one more Republican defection will kill the bill. Maine's Susan Collins and Nevada's Dean Heller, who is up for reelection next year, don’t seem as if they’ve come around on the Medicaid cuts either.

-- As Senate Republicans prepare to make their final decisions, Obamacare supporters have only ramped up their resistance. Juliet Eilperin and Paige Winfield Cunningham report: “Most corners of the U.S. health-care industry have stood steadfastly opposed for months to Republican efforts to revise the Affordable Care Act. Patient advocate groups and Democratic organizers have crowded town halls since February to grill lawmakers. But in recent weeks, a last gasp of advocacy has come from an even wider range of groups and individuals trying to block the Senate health-care bill. Community hospitals have held information sessions. Pediatricians have starred in videos. Patient associations have flown in hundreds of Americans with chronic illnesses to meet with lawmakers and their aides. These events, in turn, have generated tremendous public pressure on the senators who will decide over the next week whether their health-care bill will succeed or fail.”

-- McConnell decided Tuesday that the Senate would delay its recess in the hopes of advancing a health-care bill, but House Republicans want to avoid following suit. Mike DeBonis reports: “Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) indicated that he intended to keep members around only so long as it might take them to act on the health-care bill pending in the Senate. The case McCarthy made privately, and later publicly to reporters, was simple: The Senate still might have work to do, but the House has done plenty. The House has passed its version of the health-care legislation, as well as major bills dismantling the Dodd-Frank financial regulation law, scaling back federal regulatory powers and cracking down on illegal immigration. The chamber is also set to clear the annual military authorization bill by week’s end.… But a handful of House Republicans — mostly conservative hard-liners — are pressing their leaders to keep working through August.”

BACK TO THE BIGGEST STORY OF THE WEEK:

-- Abby Phillip has good context on why Don Jr. was so eager to get dirt from the Russian government. She describes the chaotic state of Trump’s campaign last June, when Trump Jr. agreed to meet with the Russian lawyer: “In early [June], Trump and his children were itching for a fight with Clinton but had little in the way of experienced political hands with clout to navigate the complexities of a general-election presidential contest. ... ‘They were so desperate for research that they would meet with anyone,’ [said] one former Trump campaign adviser.”

The day of Trump Jr.’s meeting with the Russian lawyer was a busy one: “[Then-RNC chairman] Reince Priebus had arrived in New York to join [Paul] Manafort at a meeting of major GOP donors at Trump Tower.... Meanwhile, his public poll numbers were in a free fall.... Former Trump aides paint a picture of a campaign … that was consumed by shifting power dynamics. Manafort’s feud with [Corey] Lewandowski had deteriorated into an ‘ugly’ war, according to one former Trump adviser, and Trump Jr. had taken Manafort’s side. So when the candidate’s son … accepted the meeting at the behest of a wealthy friend and business partner, he was able to recruit serious campaign firepower to attend.

Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya told NBC this week that Jared Kushner and Manafort seemed “distracted” during the meeting: “Yet, if either man had reservations about the meeting, they did nothing to keep it from occurring. ‘Paul Manafort should have stopped this,’ said one former Trump campaign official, but he didn’t want to anger Trump Jr. because ‘he was about to ascend.’”

GRAPPLING WITH THE BEAR IN THE WOODS:

-- On Capitol Hill, House lawmakers are privately battling it out over details of a stalled Russian sanctions bill — facing pressure from their Senate colleagues, who cleared the bill by a 98-to-2 vote. “Pass it, for Christ’s sake,” said Sen. John McCain. Sen. Bob Corker, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said the delays were “doing nothing but helping Russia.” “White House officials say the legislation would handcuff the president by depriving him of the power to unilaterally ease or lift the sanctions if he sees fit,” the New York Times’ Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Matt Flegenheimer report. “They are insisting on removing language that gives Congress the ability to block such action. On Capitol Hill, however, Republicans chafe at any suggestion that they have gone soft on Russia, and blame procedural snags on Democrats while offering a series of justifications for why the bill is problematic."

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that the legislation poses “a number of risks to the government’s ability to conduct foreign policy," but she declined to say whether Trump would veto the measure. “Until they get further in the process, we’re not going to weigh in any further,” she said.

-- A California Democrat filed the first articles of impeachment against Trump, following through on his previous threats, even as there remains no indication that the effort will progress anytime soon. Mike DeBonis reports: “The resolution filed Wednesday by Rep. Brad Sherman [D-Calif.] is largely identical to a draft Sherman floated last month — one that accuses Trump of obstructing justice by ‘threatening, and then terminating’ [Comey]."

-- House Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) expressed frustration that the constantly unfolding scandal was sucking all the oxygen out of the Republican agenda: “I think we are missing an increasingly shrinking window of opportunity," the congressman who led the Benghazi inquest told CBS News. "We’re now in July. We’re not talking about infrastructure. We’re not talking about tax reform. We’re really not even talking about health reform that much. We’re talking about Comey and obstruction of justice, potential criminality and Russia. So, it is that window of time within which any new administration has a grace period from the voters to do what you ran on. That’s my real frustration ... that we may be missing this window of opportunity legislatively.”

CONFLICTS OF INTEREST:

-- The State Department spent more than $15,000 to book 19 rooms at the new Trump hotel in Vancouver when three of Trump’s children headlined a grand opening ceremony there in February — representing the first evidence of State Department expenditures at a Trump-branded property since he took office. Amy Brittain scoops: “[Donald Jr. and Eric], their spouses, and the president’s daughter, Tiffany, were flanked by a heavy security presence on Feb. 28 during a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a VIP party hosted by developer Joo Kim Tiah, the son of one of Malaysia’s wealthiest businessmen. The Trump Organization does not own the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Vancouver but instead has a management and licensing deal. Trump’s most recent financial disclosure reflects that he earned more than $5 million in royalties from the Vancouver project during the last reporting period, which covers the year 2016 through April 2017.”

Trump’s sons have traveled to Dubai, Vancouver, Uruguay and Ireland this year to promote the Trump Organization. “Such business trips [have] put U.S. government agencies in a necessary — albeit potentially awkward — arrangement of engaging in taxpayer-funded transactions with the president’s private company … Earlier this year, it was reported that the Secret Service spent $88,320 for lodging on Eric Trump’s business trip to Uruguay in early January to promote a Trump hotel … [and] the State Department — through the U.S. Embassy in Montevideo — paid an additional $9,510 for hotel rooms to assist the Secret Service for the visit, according to purchasing orders.”

-- House Democrats hounded the interim chief of the General Services Administration, which leases Trump his D.C. hotel, on why the lease has remained in place. Jonathan O’Connell reports: ‘We have a situation where the president is both the landlord and the tenant,’ said Peter A. DeFazio (Ore.), the ranking Democrat on the House Transportation Committee. Democratic staff produced a 24-page report on the hotel laying out an argument against the GSA’s ruling that Trump’s company remains in compliance with the lease despite a clause in the agreement barring any ‘elected official of the government of the United States’ from deriving ‘any benefit’ from the arrangement. The report argues that Trump’s hotel relies heavily on ‘emoluments’ business in violation of the Constitution … Since {March] [GSA] has provided incomplete or nonanswers to five letters of inquiry about the project, DeFazio said, accusing the agency of ‘very unprofessional conduct’ for its lack of transparency.”

-- The new CDC director is facing criticism for partnering with the Coca-Cola Foundation for a child obesity program while serving as the commissioner of Georgia’s public health department. Lena H. Sun reports: “[The child obesity program] emphasizes exercise and makes little mention of the problems with sugary soft drinks — putting the effort at odds with research and the positions of many experts. Now that Fitzgerald is director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention … some public health advocates are concerned that she could incorporate Georgia's approach into the national battle against obesity. ‘We hope Dr. Fitzgerald, as head of CDC, avoids partnering with Coke on obesity for the same reason she would avoid partnering with the tobacco industry on lung cancer prevention,’ said Jim O’Hara, director of health promotion policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest.”

THE TRUMP AGENDA:

-- According to a new report, the tax proposals that the Trump administration has laid out so far would translate into a tax hike for nearly one in five American households. Max Ehrenfreund reports: “Among those in the middle class, almost a quarter would see their taxes go up, according to the [analysis from the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center]. For households with annual incomes between $49,000 and $86,000, those facing a hike would see an average annual increase of $1,000. Among the other three-quarters of taxpayers in that range who would enjoy a tax cut, the average annual decrease of their household tax bill would be about $1,320.… The benefits of the proposals from the Trump administration, however, are overwhelmingly concentrated among the very richest taxpayers. Nearly half of the total savings (49 percent) would accrue to the richest 1 percent of households.”

-- Betsy DeVos will gather with a group of advocates today as she considers whether to roll back the Obama administration’s controversial approach to campus sexual assault — meeting with college administrators, rape survivors and students accused of assault as she weighs what, if any, changes to existing federal guidance. Emma Brown reports: “Assault victims and their allies worry that the meetings are pro forma, a mere exercise in advance of an announcement that the Trump administration plans to reverse course on federal guidance that played a key role in forcing colleges to do more to protect survivors of sexual violence. [They] are calling on DeVos to stay the course on an approach they say has pushed colleges to take assault allegations seriously and encouraged victims to come forward. Advocates for the accused, meanwhile, see an opening to do away with an approach that they argue has led colleges to conduct biased investigations that label innocent students as rapists.…” 

-- “House Republicans are seeking to cut the Education Department’s budget by $2.4 billion, or 3.5 percent — a substantial reduction, although far smaller than the $9.2 billion in cuts that President Trump proposed,” Brown reports. “The House GOP also appears to have largely rejected Trump’s proposals to expand private- and public-school choice.… Trump had sought $1 billion to encourage public school districts to adopt choice-friendly policies, and another $250 million to expand private school voucher programs. The GOP budget bill appears to leave out both.… House Republicans would increase funding for charter schools by $28 million, to $370 million. Trump had proposed a far larger bump to $500 million.”

-- The Homeland Security secretary told the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in a closed-door meeting that DACA may not survive a court challenge. Maria Sacchetti reports: “[John] Kelly declined to take questions after the meeting, but his spokesman said the secretary told the members that the Obama-era program, which shields immigrants brought to the United States as children, is at risk.… Kelly’s meeting with the caucus came nearly two weeks after officials from Texas and 10 other states warned Attorney General Jeff Sessions that they would sue the federal government if it does not rescind Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program by Sept. 5.… Members of the Hispanic caucus said they urged Kelly to support bipartisan legislation known as the Bridge Act that would effectively preserve the DACA program.”

-- Immigration lawyers and advocates filed a lawsuit against Kelly and other U.S. officials, alleging that guards along the U.S.-Mexico border are illegally turning away asylum seekers — and are using threats, verbal abuse and physical force to do so. Joshua Partlow reports: “In some cases, the complaint alleges, U.S. border officials told people that “[Trump] just signed new laws saying there is no asylum for anyone.” In other instances, guards allegedly threatened to take away the foreigners’ children unless they signed forms forgoing their asylum, or agreed to say on camera they had no fear of returning home.

-- The administration’s 50,000-person cap for refugee admissions was surpassed yesterday. Abigail Hauslohner reports: “All refugees scheduled to fly July 12 were admitted ‘to ensure an orderly, effective implementation of the 50,000 cap,’ according to a State Department statement. By Wednesday afternoon, 50,086 people had entered the country as refugees this year ... Trump ordered the cap as part of a January executive order that also sought to suspend the entire refugee resettlement program for 120 days.… The president has broad authority to set the number of refugees resettled in the United States, and it’s unclear at what number the administration will set the cap in fiscal year 2018.”

-- In a somewhat surprising move given his administration’s immigration policies, Trump personally intervened to ensure that six Afghani girls would be able to travel to the United States next week to participate in a robotics competition. Politico’s Nahal Toosi reports: “The decision followed a furious public backlash to the news that the six teens had been denied U.S. visas. That criticism swelled as details emerged about the girls’ struggle to build their robot and get visas … Critics had argued that the visa denials sent the wrong message to the people of Afghanistan, where U.S. troops are still fighting Taliban militants who once barred girls from attending school. The denials bolstered allegations that Trump is, via executive orders and other means, trying to impose a ban on Muslims entering the United States.… The president became aware of the case and asked officials at the National Security Council to see what they could do.”

-- Trump’s big talk of pushing for “clean coal” may get a chance to be turned into law. Dino Grandoni reports: “Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) [introduced] a bill to strengthen tax credits for ‘carbon capture and storage’ projects.... The group of 25 co-sponsors of the bill includes both some of the strongest advocates for action to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions … along with senators who have doubted the link between human activity and climate change.… Developing CCS technology — and making it economically viable — is one of the few climate-related issues that corrals across-the-aisle support. That's because not only does the sequestered carbon dioxide mitigate the impact humans are having on warming the planet, but that captured carbon can be useful to industry.”

-- A bipartisan group of former presidential advisers warned Trump against imposing tariffs on steel. Ana Swanson reports: “Fifteen economists who had served as former chairs of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers under both Republican and Democratic administrations -- including former Fed chairs Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke  penned a joint letter in opposition to tariffs or other limits on steel imports. The protections, they wrote, would harm relations with close allies and damage the economy, including by raising costs for manufacturers, reducing factory employment and raising prices for consumers.… The steel industry has argued in favor of a tariff or quota on imports."

-- “Attorney General Jeff Sessions delivered a speech to an alleged hate group at an event closed to reporters on Tuesday night, but the Department of Justice is refusing to reveal what he said,” ABC News’ Pete Madden and Erin Galloway report. “Sessions addressed members of the Alliance Defending Freedom, which was designated an ‘anti-LGBT hate group’ by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2016, at the Summit on Religious Liberty at the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, in Dana Point, California. The event promised to ‘bring together prominent legal advocates, scholars, cultural commentators, business executives and church leaders to examine the current state of religious freedom’ and ‘develop legal and cultural strategies to allow freedom to flourish in the United States and around the world’ … A spokesperson for the Department of Justice confirmed that Sessions addressed the Alliance Defending Freedom on Tuesday but did not respond to multiple requests to release his remarks.”

-- Sessions’s promise in a separate speech this week to crack down on drug addiction by working to raise drug prices and lower their purity is sparking skepticism among experts. Christopher Ingraham reports: “[From 1980 to 2012,] the price [of a gram of heroin] fell nearly tenfold. The steepest declines, in fact, happened in the late ’80s and early ’90s — the ‘tough on crime’ era that Sessions yearns so strongly for in his speeches … The average purity of street-level heroin seizures rose from 10 percent in 1981 to 31 percent in 2012, a threefold increase … Numbers like these are why a number of reform groups, including the ACLU and the Drug Policy Alliance, say an enforcement-centric approach to drug policy, like the one Sessions advocates for, is incapable of dealing with an increasingly deadly national opiate epidemic.”

-- Internet companies held a day of action yesterday to protest the FCC’s proposal to undo net neutrality, or open Internet rules. Los Angeles Times’ Jim Puzzanghera reports: “Some of the Web’s biggest names — Amazon, Google, Netflix and Twitter — joined thousands of smaller websites Wednesday in urging users to tell Washington to leave the Internet the way it is. On website banners, pop-up widgets, blog posts and videos, Web companies said that could only be accomplished by keeping tough net neutrality rules for online traffic in place in the face of a push by Republicans and Internet service providers to dismantle them. Net neutrality supporters said the ‘day of action’ was the first major salvo of what they promised would be a long battle involving the Federal Communications Commission, the courts and possible congressional legislation over the fate of the controversial rules.”

THE ROAD TO 2018:

-- “As Republicans wince at questions about the Trump administration’s strategy and scandals, two pro-Republican groups are trying to stop a congressman who’s a candidate in Alabama’s heated Senate primary by warning voters that he’s been too critical of President Trump,” David Weigel reports. “In a new ad … the Senate Leadership Fund attacks Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) for a 2016 attack on then-candidate Trump. ‘I don’t think you can trust Donald Trump with anything he says,’ Brooks says in the spot … Brooks is challenging Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.) in the Aug. 15 primary, and the party expects to hold the Alabama seat without a serious Democratic challenge. But where Strange has been a loyal member of the GOP’s majority, Brooks has carved out a House role as an uncompromising conservative — a Freedom Caucus member who initially opposed the American Health Care Act.”

-- “Alarmed that Ed Gillespie barely won the Virginia GOP primary for governor in June, top Republicans from the White House on down are pushing him to hire some of the president’s strategists and more aggressively court Trump voters,” Laura Vozzella reports: “In addition, the [RNC] has taken charge of field operations for the Gillespie campaign, according to two Republicans who called it a sign that the national party is worried about Gillespie’s team … Aligning with Trump strategists could be a stomach-churner for Gillespie, whose résumé reads establishment Republican, [and who] got behind Trump only after he had sewn up the 2016 nomination. So far, Gillespie has resisted the advice — to the chagrin of activists who say his campaign desperately needs shaking up. [And] the course Gillespie takes will have meaning not only in November but also in 2018, when scores of other Republicans running for state and federal offices in swing districts across the country try to win over Trump voters as well as those repelled by the president …”

-- The man who almost beat Gillespie in Virginia’s Republican primary now plans to run against Sen. Tim Kaine next year. Antonio Olivo and Jenna Portnoy report: “Corey Stewart, the Prince William Republican who nearly won the GOP nomination for Virginia governor last month by running a populist campaign that celebrated the Confederacy and slammed illegal immigrants, will challenge Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va) in 2018 … The move pits a hard-charging supporter of President Donald Trump against Hillary Clinton’s former running mate in a state that often embodies the nation’s political crosscurrents … [Stewart] said he decided to run for the GOP nomination to challenge Kaine on the strength of his primary performance.”

-- Democrats celebrated victories in special elections for Oklahoma’s state legislature and hoped that they might be a sign of things to come. Weigel reports: “Democrats picked up two seats in Oklahoma, a once-blue state where the Obama years had reduced them to a rump party. It was the fourth pickup in a state legislative race this year, the only electoral bright spots for a party that is lagging in fundraising and fighting localized battles over leadership and messaging … Each victory — and a run of closer-than-expected races — has occurred in a low-turnout environment … The victories also did little to slice into what, by the end of the Obama years, had become a Republican supermajority. After Tuesday, just seven Democrats will sit in the 42-member state Senate.”

-- Illinois is bracing for a governor’s race that could cost over $300 million. Politico’s Natasha Korecki and Alex Isenstadt report: “The Illinois governor’s race is on pace to be the most expensive statewide election in U.S. history, a spending bonanza expected to cost more than a quarter-billion dollars next year … Consider this: The various campaigns on both sides have already raised upward of $90 million — and the general election is still 16 months away. The unprecedented spending could have an effect that reaches well beyond the Illinois border. Organized labor views [a victory for incumbent Republican Bruce Rauner] as an existential threat, and considers the contest a harbinger of whether unions can continue to thrive in Illinois, or lose membership and power as in neighboring Wisconsin. Also at stake is control of redistricting in the fifth-most populous state in the nation.” 

-- “Sen. Joe Manchin raised more than $1.4 million for his reelection in the second quarter of this year … and has almost $3.5 million on hand as two of his GOP challengers face a brutal primary battle,” Politico’s Elana Schor reports. “Manchin's second-quarter fundraising more than doubles the $552,000 he took in during the first three months of the year, giving a major boost to the West Virginia Democrat — who also faces his own primary challenge from a liberal activist backed by a group of former Bernie Sanders aides.

-- And Democrats across the country are trying to help Georgia’s Stacey Abrams become the first black woman elected governor in American history. Vanessa Williams reports: “‘Get in Formation,’ a campaign launched this week by three black political action committees, hopes to recruit more women like [Rae] Peoples [of California] to pledge their personal and financial capital to help Abrams in her history-making quest. The effort will primarily be run online via a website and social media … The effort also is aimed at making sure Abrams gets support early on in the long election cycle. The gubernatorial primary is next May and the general election is in November … Although [Abrams] is widely considered by members of both parties to be a skilled and savvy political leader, winning the state’s top elected office will not be easy. No Democrat has won statewide office in Georgia since 2006, and just 11 black women have ever been elected to statewide positions nationwide.”

WAPO HIGHLIGHTS:

-- “He ran North Korea’s secret money making operation. Now he lives in Virginia,” by Anna Fifield: “American and multilateral efforts to sanction North Korea into submission won’t work because there are too many ways around them, Ri Jong Ho says. He should know. For about three decades, Ri was a top moneymaker for the Kim regime, sending millions of dollars a year back to Pyongyang even as round after round of sanctions was imposed to try to punish North Korea for its nuclear defiance. ‘We were never in pain or hurting in our trade business because of the sanctions. Instead, we conducted our first nuclear test in 2006,’ Ri said in an interview … [Ri] and his family now live in Northern Virginia, having defected to South Korea at the end of 2014 and moved to the United States last year.”

-- “From the Kremlin to K Street: Russia-funded radio broadcasts blocks from the White House,” by Justin Wm. Moyer: “Rather than string instruments, 105.5 FM listeners now hear Sputnik, a terrestrial radio station named for the satellite that started the space race. Funded by the Russian government, the station began broadcasting July 1 out of unassuming offices about three blocks from the White House, next to a Chop’t on K Street NW. Russia’s influence on American politics is debated daily. This is what it sounds like. ‘I’m sure you’ve heard a lot about us,’ said the Russian-born editor in chief of Sputnik’s D.C. bureau, Mindia Gavasheli. ‘Now you can actually listen to us.’”

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

The president attempted to reframe the controversy around his son:

The fallout over Don Jr.'s meeting continued as more details came to light.

From a Weekly Standard editor:

From a writer at Vox:

From a ProPublica writer:

From the former president of Mexico:

On Christopher Wray's confirmation hearing to become FBI director:

Two Senate Republicans offered differing views:

From a Senate Democrat:

From the most recently elected House Democrat:

Trump also responded to claims that he spends a lot of time watching TV:

From this former Obama spokesman:

The White House's Twitter account went after the CBO:

But their original video quickly received a spellcheck: 

Speaking of "innaccuracy":

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) kept up his joke of offering the president “killer graphics” to assist with his trip abroad:

From a former Obama official:

The vice president visited Pennsylvania:

From a supporter of Paul Ryan's Democratic opponent:

The Democratic senator from Michigan responded to reports that Kid Rock may get involved in politics:

From a HuffPost reporter:

GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:

-- Wall Street Journal, “Mark Zuckerberg Hits the Road to Meet Regular Folks — With a Few Conditions,” by Reid J. Epstein and  Deepa Seetharaman: “Mark Zuckerberg is trying to understand America, so he’s embarked on a journey to meet people like hockey moms and steelworkers who don’t typically cross his path. But there are rules to abide by if you are an ordinary person about to meet an extraordinary entrepreneur. Rule One: You probably won’t know Mr. Zuckerberg is coming. Rule Two: If you do know he’s coming, keep it to yourself. Rule Three: Be careful what you reveal about the meeting.”

-- Quartz, “Two Luxembourgs, 10 Madrids, one Delaware: How a giant iceberg is described around the world,” by Zoë Schlanger, Jennifer Brown and Katherine Ellen Foley: “As news traveled around the world that one of the largest icebergs ever observed had finally broken off from Antarctica, reporters were faced with a question of scale. Few among us can visualize just how large a 2,200 square-mile (5,698 square-kilometer) hunk of ice really is, so they had to come up with a reference their readers might recognize. Here’s a tour of the world, by way of iceberg-sized places.”

HOT ON THE LEFT

“Employee takes sick leave for mental health, CEO’s response is refreshingly rare,” from USA Today: “Madalyn Parker, a web developer who suffers from chronic depression and anxiety, sent an email to her team saying she’d be off two days to focus on her mental health. She used sick time. She said on Twitter she wanted to be specific with her team about using her sick time for mental health so other employees can feel comfortable doing it too. Ben Congleton, her CEO at live-chat platform Olark, did the opposite of what most employees expect following such a request — he thanked her for shedding light on the importance of good mental health. ‘You are an example to us all, and help cut through the stigma so we can all bring our whole selves to work,’ he said in an email.”

 

HOT ON THE RIGHT

“Harvard faculty panel recommends banning fraternities, sororities and other social groups,” from Valerie Strauss: “A Harvard University faculty committee tasked with changing the school’s policy on student social groups has proposed that undergraduates be banned from joining fraternities, sororities and similar organizations, saying that efforts to curb ‘pernicious behavior’ by some members of such groups have failed. The proposal, released Wednesday, follows steps taken last year by Harvard president Drew Faust to stem the influence of university single-gender social organizations, or USGSOs. These groups are not recognized as Harvard organizations but nevertheless, as Faust said in a May 2016 letter to the community, ‘play an unmistakable and growing role in student life, in many cases enacting forms of privilege and exclusion at odds with our deepest values.’”

 

DAYBOOK:

Trump arrived in Paris at 8:45 a.m. local time after a redeye on Air Force One. He has a lunch planned with American military leaders at the U.S. ambassador’s residence before a tour of Napoleon’s tomb at Les Invalides. He will then participate in a meeting and joint press conference with Emmanuel Macron at the Élysée Palace. Trump and Macron will later have dinner with their spouses at Le Jules Verne restaurant on the second level of the Eiffel Tower.

Pence remained in the District. He has meetings with lawmakers today as well as a speech to White House interns and a roundtable on philanthropy. 

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) asked FBI nominee Christopher Wray during his hearing yesterday whether he agrees with Trump that special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Russia is a “witch hunt.” “I do not consider Director Mueller to be on a witch hunt,” Wray replied.

 

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

-- The relentless heat persists in D.C. today. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “A few clouds are possible in the morning, remains of overnight Midwest storms. But, for much of the day, skies are partly sunny and that allow highs to peak in the mid-to-upper 90s with some unlucky spots potentially hitting 100. High humidity levels make it feel about 4-8 degrees hotter and light west winds provide little relief.”

-- “A police officer in Alexandria was attacked by a suspected vandal and responded with gunfire Wednesday morning,” Dana Hedgpeth reports. “The officer, a 34-year-old female on the job for one year, was taken to the hospital with serious but not life-threatening injuries.”

-- A Montgomery County correctional officer has been charged with sexually assaulting an inmate, Dan Morse reports.

-- “Graduation rates at D.C. schools have rapidly improved in the past five years, but other measures indicate students are not gaining the skills needed to be successful in college,” Alejandra Matos reports. “Education experts are concerned that low scores on exams meant to gauge college preparedness and low college graduation rates for D.C. students indicate District schools are handing out diplomas to students who are not ready for postsecondary opportunities. The gap between college success and high school graduation is so vast that the D.C. State Board of Education will review graduation requirements to determine whether changes are needed to ensure students will be able to obtain a college degree or a job after graduating high school.”

-- “A nonprofit preservation group has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to try to halt the electrical transmission line planned for across the James River near Jamestown,” Gregory S. Schneider reports. “Historic preservationists have opposed the project on the grounds that it will alter a landscape that has changed little since Capt. John Smith and the Virginia Company founded the first permanent English settlement in America more than 400 years ago.”

-- The D.C. region’s congressional delegation is fighting back another attempt from one of their colleagues to tinker with rules at Reagan National Airport. Lori Aratani reports: “This time it’s Rep. Henry Cuellar (D) who is drawing the ire of his counterparts from the District, Maryland and Virginia by seeking a special exception to the rule that limits the distance that flights can travel to and from Reagan National Airport.”

-- A rare Sumatran tiger cub was born Tuesday at the National Zoo. The sex of the cub, born to 8-year-old female Damai, is still unknown. (Michael E. Ruane)

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

Stephen Colbert invited John Oliver onto his show to discuss the latest Trump headlines:

Trevor Noah examined Fox News’ defenses of the Don Jr. meeting:

Conservatives responded to the latest revelations about Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer:

The short but tense history between Trump and Macron was reviewed ahead of Trump’s Paris trip:

The Post’s Libby Casey determines “who spun it best” on the Don Jr. story:

The search for one of the four young men who went missing in Pennsylvania reached a tragic conclusion:

A cathedral in Syria’s war-torn Aleppo opened its doors for a concert, the first in over five years: 

 

Hyperloop’s high-speed transportation prototype was tested in Nevada:

A baby hippo was reunited with her family at the Cincinnati Zoo:

Finally, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) offered Uber rides in Iowa after losing a bet over college football. Sasse’s Nebraska Cornhuskers lost to the Iowa Hawkeyes last November. An IJR videographer accompanied the senator.